Skip navigation

Tag Archives: Twilight Lounge

hes back

The Twilight Lounge – March 5, 2016

It’s been a long and winding road…but I’m back and ready for more cocktails, fun and who knows what else!

I have been itching to get back to work here for awhile now.  I finally was pushed over the top this week while at Half Barrel in Rochester, MN (which I highly recommend checking out – a great selection of whiskies, great cocktails and very good food).  I started to chat with Kelsey, who was also there on business, about craft cocktails.  Finally, the bartender, whose name, regretfully, I did not get, joined in our conversation.  One thing led to another and the topic of my blog came up.  The bartender, based on the conversation, said he’d seen my blog.  I was stunned and said no way!  So I pulled it up on my phone and he said yeah, I’ve been on here a lot and read it and liked a lot of your cocktails!  I was blown away!  And resolved to return, so hear we are…

A few weeks ago I hosted a small gathering at my home and a friend brought me a bottle of Suze.  It is a liqueur made from gentian, a pretty tropical flowering plant.  The color is bright yellow, similar to Galliano, and the flavor is bitter with floral and spice hints.  It’s not unlike Campari although not as bitter.  Katie had seen it a local liquor store and it was new to her (as it was me) and she figured if anyone could make cocktails with it, it was me.

It took several attempts.  I started with vodka as a base, but that just didn’t have enough flavor to balance the Suze.  At the suggestion of my cocktail buddy Mark I switched to gin, using Beefeater, my go to London dry.  We got close with Beefeater, Suze, lemon juice and bar syrup, but it wasn’t quite there.

Finally, last night, with a light snow falling outside and me deciding to come home early I went back into the Twilight Lounge and took another crack at it.  This time I decided to use it more like bitters and did a mashup of a Martini and Manhattan.  Thus, the Inspiration was born.

The Inspiration

  • 2oz Beefeater gin
  • 1/2 oz Suze
  • 1/8 oz Martini and Rossi sweet vermouth

Combine all the ingredients in a mixing glass with ice.  Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

On the first sip there was a smoky, velvety texture with a slight bitter aftertaste from the Suze, pleasing to my palate.  The Suze is evident but complimented by the botanicals from the gin.  After a few more sips a slightly nutty flavor was also evident adding a little more depth to the taste profile.  It’s a nice sipper and definitely something your friends have not had!

Cheers!

Advertisements

The Twilight Lounge – August 6, 2012

Ok, so I don’t really have a golden stingray – at least not the kind with four wheels and a bowtie on the grille. But I did recently find an interesting cocktail by that name.

I’ve recently decided to slim down the number of different liqueurs that I have at the Twilight Lounge (33 or 34 at last count) and have been using up the items I’m not planning on stocking anymore. One of those items is my bottle of Galliano. Not that there’s anything wrong with it, but I have several other anisette flavored liqueurs, and outside of Harvey Wallbangers, I haven’t found much to do with it (ok, so there are two cocktails I made with it during my 365 day journey, the Powerhouse and the Salt Lake Special).

So, I dialed up the CoctailDB and searched under Galliano and found the Golden Stingray. As has happened before, my initial reaction was no way this tastes good, but I figured what the heck and gave it a whirl.

Golden Stingray

  • 1 oz quality bourbon
  • 3/4 oz Galliano
  • soda water

Fill a rocks glass with ice and add with the bourbon and Galliano. Top with soda water, stir and serve.

I have to confess that the recipe I found on CocktailDB did not include the soda. I added that to cut the sweetness of the Galliano and make it a more refreshing summer sipper (it has been awfully hot this summer!). The primary flavor is the sweet anisette of the Galliano, but it is tempered by the bourbon (I’ve used both Maker’s Mark and Four Roses Small Batch).

A pleasant enough drink, but not enough to get me to continue stocking Galliano at the Twilight Lounge. So if you want one, you better get here soon!

Cheers!

The Twilight Lounge – February 25, 2012

A quiet evening at home after the week in Vegas is just what I needed last Saturday.  A couple of movies and cocktails were the order of the day.  However, I wasn’t content to have the same ‘ol same ‘ol, so I started rooting around in the Twilight Lounge amongst the drink recipes.  What caught my eye was this little number called the Melon Patch (yeah, I know, they caught your eye too, didn’t they?).  With vodka as its base, I knew it would be strong enough for me, yet with melon flavored Midori and orange flavored Cointreau, I knew that Gwen would also enjoy it.

  Melon Patch

  • 1-1/2 oz Midori
  • 3/4 oz Cointreau
  • 3/4 oz vodka
  • soda water

 

In a shaker with ice combine everything but the soda water and shake.  Pour, ice and all, into a rocks glass and top with soda water.

The vodka and soda water do a nice job of cutting the sweetness of the Midori and Cointreau, leaving a nice, refreshing cocktail.  The combination of the flavors evokes a hint of bananna along with the orange and melon flavors of the liqueurs.  This one would be perfect for warm summer evenings or pool side on a hot day.  It’s a good thing summer isn’t that far away!

Cheers!

Twilight Lounge – February 5, 2012

Previously I had written how hosting the occasional BYOB is great since I end up the leftovers in my fridge.  Of course, the flip side to that is that, sometimes, the leftovers are Miller Lite.  And frankly, Miller Lite, and all its “light” bretheren is about the biggest waste of resources known to man. 

So what to do with this swill?  Typically, I wait to use it for cooking – making one of my Polish stews or something like that.  I do occasionally drink it as well, only because I can’t stand to see booze (however bad) not get drunk.  Since it is in cans, holding it for summertime pool use is also an option.  But by then it would be past its date (like that really would make a difference), and I don’t want to do that to my friends and guests.

So, in preparation for the game today I was cleaning up the bar in the Twilight Lounge, and eureka!, it hit me!  The orange bitters was sitting out and I though, why not?  I dropped a couple of dashes into my chilled glass (fresh from the freezer) and poured in the Lite.  Not bad…not great, but certainly more palatable than just the straight stuff.  It gave it almost a Blue Moon quality – which, of course, is from the orange that Blue Moon is served with. 

So there you go.  Got some crappy beer around?  Don’t despair, break out the bitters and have fun!

Cheers!

The Twilight Lounge – February 3, 2012

Friday night was movie night around here and I had selected Patton to watch.  This definitely called for a cocktail, and I was in the mood for something new and different.  I also had a taste for St. Germain, so I went to their website to see what the had and found the Elder Fashion.  A twist on the Old Fashioned, and very straightforward to make, I decided to give it a whirl.

The original recipe called for rye whiskey, St. Germain and Angostura bitters, garnished with an orange slice.  I made the first one that way, but it wasn’t quite what I wanted – it was missing the orange/cherry components of the Old Fashioned.  So when I mixed up the second one I used orange bitters rather than Angostura.  That hit the spot!  I’ve always enjoyed the flavor of rye whiskey with orange bitters, and the St. Germain gave just the right level of sweet and that hint of elderflower.

  Elder Fashion

  • 3 oz Old Overholt rye whiskey
  • 1/2 oz St. Germain
  • 1 dash orange bitters

In a rocks glass combine all the ingredients and stir.  Add 3-4 ice cubes or an ice ball, garnish with an orange twist and serve.

Much simpler to make than an Old Fashioned and just as tasty!  Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Cheers!

 

 

Twilight Lounge – December 31, 2011 / January 1, 2012

Oh boy…another New Year’s Eve party at the Twilight Lounge is in the books, and it was …. fun!

Ok, so I’ll get to the Burning Santa in a bit.  In the past I’ve always had a signature cocktail that I mix up for the party.  This year I didn’t and we instead made it BYOB.  So I cleared out room in the fridge, had the Lounge all spiffed up and the playlist ready to go on the quadrophonic (with the concert hall effect setting on the Yamaha – try it at home, you’ll dig it the most). 

As usual, my music started in the mellower, lounge and jazzy side with selections from Vince Guarldi, Sade, Tom Jones, Air and Nouvelle Vague giving way to Amy Winehouse, the Rolling Stones, Social Distortion and then finally, as the party got cranked up (and our guests liquored up) dance music with heavy doses of 70’s disco (anyone for It’s Raining Men and the Bee Gees) along with Motown and R&B (Gap Band anyone?).

 

                                                Calm Before the Storm

Things stayed pretty mellow until midnight.  Of course (and against my will), we turned on ABC at 5 til midnight to watch that stupid ball drop on tape delay.  A champagne toast and plenty of kissing and hugging ensued.  That always seems to get the New Year’s Eve party into gear.  The dance music and booze kicked in.  The shots we were doing probably helped as well.  The first was a moonshine shot (imported from North Carolina) with moonshine marinated cherry in the bottom.  Poor Andy thought the cherry was going to be nice and sweet and offset the moonshine – little did he know!  The second speciality shot of the night was Cuervo silver with a very hot (and homemade) pickled jalapeno ring in the bottom.  That baby was fiery!

After downing a few of these specials it was time for Burning Santa.  A New Year’s Eve tradition at the Twilight Lounge (see picture above) we burn a little more of Santa each year!  Don’t ask me why – we just do it!  From there the fez came out (you know its a party when the fez comes out!) and it was game on.

Happy New Year – enjoy peace, prosperity and cocktails!

December 7, 2011 – The Twilight Lounge

‘Tis the season to be merry and make merry.  What better way to do that than a good cocktail or two (or three).  If you agree, then you’ve come to the right place.  So fire up Vince Guaraldi’s “Linus and Lucy”, get the shaker out and enjoy.

My original Christmas cocktail was the Sleigh Wreck.  Originally called the Sleigh Ride it caused more than a few hangovers, thus earning the change from Sleigh Ride to Sleigh Wreck.  Similar to a Cosmpolitan, it is a favorite of the denizens of the Twilight Lounge.  As long as I’m here, another interesting tidbit for you.  Leroy Anderson’s Sleigh Ride was not orginally written as a Christmas song (don’t believe me, just listen to the lyrics).  Nope, Leroy got the inspiration on a blazing hot day in 1948 when all he wanted to do was cool off!

Second on my list of Christmas cocktails is the White Christmas.  Inspired by the Danny Kaye (Danny F—ing Kaye for you fans of Christmas Vacation)/Bing Crosby/Vera Ellen/Rosemary Clooney holiday extravaganza of the same name, this cocktail features gin and peppermint schnapps.  When properly made it even looks white as it first hits the glass.  Similar in style and taste to the White Christmas is the cleverly named Christmas Cocktail.  Also made with gin and peppermint schnapps, this has the dry vermouth of a martini in it as well.

For the naughty set I suggest the Bad Santa.  This vodka based cocktail has pomegranate juice as its primary flavor, making sure it goes down nice and smooth – and is sure to put you on the couch if you’re not careful!  According to my former official Christmas cocktail taster, Andrea, this is just as good as the Sleigh Wreck!  Of course, that other Christmas bad boy is also represented with the Grinch cocktail.

If you’re planning on spending the holidays in Mexico then the Christmas Mule is a light, refreshing cocktail that will hit the spot when you’re belting out Feliz Navidad.  Just be sure you remember where you left your flip flops.

So there you have it, a primer on Yuletide cocktails.  Of course, there are many more out there, but these all have been thoroughly tested and have recieved the Twilight Lounge stamp of approval!

Merry Christmas to all, and to all, a Good Night!

 

December 3, 2011 – Germantown, WI

Last Saturday was the kickoff to the holiday season for me.  The decorations are all up (we’ll, OK, I’m still putting the finishing touches on the Twilight Lounge decor) and our first holiday party of the season was Saturday night.

Of course, I had to come up with Christmas themed cocktail to take for us to imbibe.  I seem to have a thing for green cocktails at Christmas, so when I stumbled upon a cocktail called the Grinch it seemed like a natural.  It called for Midori (very green indeed), lemon juice and bar syrup.  So I mixed up a batch and….waaaaaay to sweet.  The Midori is sweet enough as it is and with the additional bar syrup, well, there was just no way I’d be able to sip these all night long.  Factor in that Midori is only 40 proof and I knew I just had to do something.  And what was that something?  Vodka!

  The Grinch

  • 1 oz vodka
  • 1 oz Midori liqueur
  • 1/2 oz lemon juice
  • 1/8 oz bar syrup

Combine the ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake, shake, shake.  Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a maraschino cherry.

Alternatively, you can just pour this, ice and all, into a rocks glass.  In that case, just double all the ingredients and you’ll be good to go.

This turned out to be a nice holiday sipper – not to sweet, not too boozy, but just right.  The melon flavor of the Midori is cut down by the vodka and lemon and is in the background instead of in your face.  Of course, the green color certainly matches the Grinch’s face, and the cherry is a nice reminder that his heart went from two sizes too small to two sizes too big!

Chears!

Saturday, July 23, 2011 – The Patio Swim Club at the Twilight Lounge

Summer is in full swing at the Patio Swim Club and that means it was time to break out the smoker and BBQ some pork shoulder.  With Paula and Cookie here for the weekend, this was the perfect day to do it.

Producing my eastern North Carolina style pork butt is an all day affair.  I started at 8am, getting the smoker out and getting the fire going.  After years of experimenting I’ve settled on lump hardwood charcoal as my base fuel with chunks of hickory to provide the smoke and flavor.  With the fire going, it was time to get back into the kitchen and prep my butt. 

I unwrapped the pork (thanks to the Germantown House of Sausage) and patted it dry then went to work with my rub.  Yes, it’s my own recipe.  No, I won’t publish it.  Yes, it’s good!  This part is critical and I make sure I really work the rub into the pork so that I’ll end up with a great crust on the butt when I’m done with the smoker.

It's All in the Rub!

With that, all I had to do was wait for the smoker to get up to about 200 degrees – and I didn’t have to wait long.  With that, the pork butt went on the grill, the cover was shut and now it was 8 to 10 hours of patience and fire tending.

Patience is the Key Now

Of course, nothing helps the patience like a good cocktail and some poolside fun.  Normally when I smoke I have bourbon – with cola, or maybe Mountain Dew (that’s what we did in the Carolina’s) or just with some ice.  However, as I was reading the Wall Street Journal after putting the butt in the smoker, I found an interesting recipe that used Pisco.  I’ve had a bottle around since New Year’s Eve (thanks again Christian and Meredith) and this seemed like a great way to use some of it up.

 
  El Capitan
  • 2 ounces Pisco
  • 2 ounces sweet vermouth
  • 1 dash orange bitters
  • 1 dash aromatic bitters

Combine all the ingredients in a mixing glass with ice.  Stir to combine and then pour into a rocks glass.

I used Cesar Pisco and Peychaud’s bitters in this drink, and enjoyed it immensely.  The flavor of the Pisco comes through, but there is a strong resemblence to a Manhattan, especially with as much sweet vermouth as is in this.  The orange bitters (from Agnostura) also make themselves known.  The whole cocktail comes together nicely, and since it was on the rocks, it was perfect for sipping as I tended my smoker and enjoyed the pool.

As for the pork butt – well, it was perfect if I say so myself.

A Little Bit of Carolina Heaven

Moist and spicy, but not too hot, we all enjoyed this along with beans, slaw and corn bread Gwen put together. 

 
Cheers and bon appetit!

 

May 22, 2011 – The Twilight Lounge

 Before I became the near cocktail snob that I am now, I was a near wine snob.  I know, it seems hard to believe, but its true.  In fact, at one point my wine “closet” was overflowing with over 400 bottles.  Even now, the Twilight Lounge wine cellar (I know, that sounds so funny, but it is so true) has a couple of hundred bottles of various vintages and varietals from around the world. 

So, with that explanation I’ll launch into my first wine review on these hallowed pages.  Several weeks ago I decided that Sunday dinner would be a partial whole beef tenderloin on the grill.  Accompaning the steak would be grilled asparagus (marinated with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, cracked pepper and crushed garlic) and baby bella mushrooms, also grilled (after a brushing of olive oil, salt and pepper).  Well, a meal like this calls for a solid red wine to go with it.  As I perused the Napa section of the wine cellar I hit upon the Seavey Merlot.  This was my last bottle.  I had originally purchased a half case of the ’98, a marketing ploy by the Seavey Vineyard to allow me to get, what at that time, was my standard purchase of a case of their wonderful Cabernet along with 2 magnums of Cabernet from ’97.  I’ve never been a big Merlot fan, but I do have to admit that the Seavey Merlot was always good.

So how did this bottle fare after nearly 13 years since the harvest?  In a word, fabulously!  The color was still a deep purple with just a tiny hint of brick red around the edges.  On the nose it was almost fruity with hints of darker flavors such as chocolate and nuts and a bit of leather.  A bit of age had crept into the nose, but this wine was still near its peak if not at it.  Sipping it was outstanding, with a great balance between the tannins and fruit.  It was bold, clean and stood up as the perfect compliment to my grilled beef and vegetables. 

Alas, this was my last Seavey Merlot.  I still have one bottle of ’94 Seavey Cabernet, which will be the subject of a future post…stay tuned!