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Martini Monday: The Gin Martini

Posted by Arctic Wolf on June 29, 2015

Gin Martini

Gin Martini

Gin appears to be the original Martini spirit. There is some speculation as to how exactly this bar drink evolved, the beginnings of this cocktail form was perhaps initiated as early as 1888 when a recipe for a bar drink which consisted of half a wine glass of Old Tom Gin, and half a wine glass of Vermouth was published (Johnson, Harry (1888), The New and Improved Illustrated Bartenders’ Manual; Or: How to Mix Drinks of the Present Style). Over time this simple bar drink evolved and changed into the present day Martini.  

Prohibition did its part to popularize the Martini as its main ingredient, Gin, was very easy for an illicit establishment to produce (illegally), and by the time prohibition ended, the Gin Martin may well have been the most popular bar drink served in North America.

Today, it remains a popular cocktail. Like the Vodka Martini (which arrived later on the scene), the Gin Martini can be served at varying degrees of dryness depending upon the amount of aromatized wine (usually vermouth) is used in its construction. The traditional recipes found in the cocktail guides from the 1920’s usually recommend a ratio of gin to vermouth of 2:1. Modern recipes contain much less vermouth, and in fact my brother-in-law’s favourite recipe calls for his cocktail glass to be rinsed with Vermouth only and the rest of the volume of his cocktail to be gin and garnish.

Traditional Gin Martini (cucumber garnish)

Traditional Gin Martini (cucumber garnish)

At the recent Belvedere Martini Seminar hosted by Ali Dedianko, Belvedere Vodka Global Ambassador, she made the point that we should perhaps explore also a larger range of garnishes than the typical olive or lemon peel. One of the garnishes she suggested was cucumber, and that is the direction I have chosen to go for this particular construction of my Gin Martini which combines No. 3 London Dry Gin and Stock Vermouth with thin slice of cucumber in an excellent Martini cocktail:

The following link will take you to my recipe page:

Gin Martini (with cucumber garnish)

Note: I made this point with respect to the traditional Vodka Martini, and it bears repeating again with respect to the Gin Martini. Once you open any bottle of vermouth, it is important that you realize that all aromatized wines have a very short shelf life. This is because the wine will begin to oxidize almost immediately, and after only one short week (even if the bottle is refrigerated) it’s flavour will have undergone a noticeable and undesirable change. I suspect in fact, that it is experiences with bad vermouth that have led many people to decrease its volume in the classic martini cocktail, not understanding that the vinegary component they are tasting is not a normal flavour component of good vermouth.

Please use fresh vermouth whenever you are serving Martini cocktails.

Posted in Cocktails & Recipes | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

Martini Monday: Reversing the Vesper

Posted by Arctic Wolf on June 22, 2015

Ali Stirs up a Cocktail

Ali Stirs up a Cocktail

Two weeks ago I introduced the Vesper Cocktail (see recipe here) which was conceived and popularized by Ian Fleming in his 1953 James Bond novel, Casino Royal. It is basically a dry Gin Martini with a dollop of Vodka added. Some have claimed the dollop of Vodka served the purpose of smoothing out the relatively strong flavour of Gordon’s Gin which Bond called for in the original recipe. (If you read my Gordon’s Gin Review written several years ago, I make mention of the unusually strong flavour of this dry gin.)

The Reverse Vesper is a variation upon the original cocktail, and it was introduced to me by Belvedere Global Ambassador, Ali Dedianko. Ali was in Edmonton this past Spring presenting a “Crafting the Perfect Belvedere Martini” seminar for an intimate gathering of local media. Ali featured the Reverse Vesper and even had all of us sampling the delicious bar drink at the event. We were shown that by reversing the proportions of Gin and Vodka in the original Vesper, we create the reverse cocktail. In this case, rather than using a dollop of Vodka to soothe the flavour of a sharp gin, a dollop of dry gin is used instead to add a light piny character to the traditional Vodka Martini.

Reverse Vesper with Cucumber and Lemon

Reverse Vesper with Cucumber and Lemon

When I decided to reconstruct a Reverse Vesper at home for a few of my friends, I decided to employ a premium vodka which would add its unique flavour and character to the cocktail as well. For this purpose I chose Belvedere Unfiltered Vodka which is distilled from 100 % Dankowski Rye grain grown on a Single Estate. The Belvedere Unfiltered features wonderful light chocolate tones within its rye forward flavour profile. I also decided to use a better gin than Gordon’s, in fact I used one of my favourites, No. 3 London Dry Gin. To give the martini an additional twist, I employed both a cucumber garnish (the flavour of which works very well with both the gin and the vodka), and a twist of lemon peel which pairs well with both dry gin and with the added cucumber.

All of the combined flavours within the Reverse Vesper are simply divine, and you can find my recipe page  here:

The Reverse Vesper Martini

Note: Once one goes down the path of adding a little Gin to their Vodka Martini, or in the case of the Vesper, adding a little Vodka to their Gin Martini; then suddenly a whole new range of mixing possibilities opens up to those inclined to be creative. Many standard cocktails including Gimlets, Daiquiris, Fizzes, and Collins can be the subject of this type of experimentation with the aim of building new cocktails this summer. I embrace this form of creativity, and I encourage all who read my postings to do the same.

Posted in Cocktails & Recipes | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Martini Monday: Shaken Vs Stirred and the Dry Martini

Posted by Arctic Wolf on June 15, 2015

Double Strain

Ali Dedianko Double Strains her Martini

As everyone knows (at least those who have been following my Monday Martini series), I was invited to a special Belvedere Martini Seminar hosted by Blevedere’s Vodka Global Ambasssador Ali Dedianko which served as the inspiration for these Martini explorations. One of the topics which came up at her seminar was whether a proper martini should be shaken, or whether it should be stirred?

The popular theory is that the violence of shaking a martini in a cocktail shaker with ice will cause more of that ice to melt, and will therefore dilute your cocktail. Following that line of thinking, it would seem that stirring should be the preferred method of chilling your martini.

However, it is time to debunk this notion that shaking your cocktail to chill it will necessarily cause excessive dilution. The simple fact is that whether you are shaking your cocktail, or whether you are stirring your cocktail, the science of thermodynamics dictates that the same volume of ice will melt to bring your cocktail to zero degrees irregardless of whether it is shaken or stirred. It is not possible for one method to melt more ice that the other when chilling a bar drink.

But, that is not the whole story. What shaking in a cocktail shaker full of ice can do, is break the ice into very small pieces which will slip through the large holes on your cocktail strainer. It is those small ice particles which might make it into the cocktail which cause dilution of your martini as they will continue to melt after the bar drink is poured. That is why, if we choose to shake our Martini to chill it rather than stirring the cocktail in a mixing glass, we should take an additional step and double strain our chilled bar drink into our martini glass. The second strainer should be a fine sieve which will catch those small ice particles. After catching them in the fine sieve, we can then discard them into our bar sink keeping them out of the our bar drink.

Dry Vodka Martini SAM_1606This means that when I make my Dry Vodka Martini, I do not need to worry about dilution. And because I do prefer to shake my martinis rather than to stir them (this saves time), I always remember to double strain the cocktail.

In the case of the Dry Martini recipe I am sharing today, I have decided to additionally shake things up (pun intended) by adding not one but two garnishes to the bar drink. Some purists may believe it is sacrilege to add more than one garnish; but I really enjoy the complimentary flavours of both cucumber and lime in my martini. This is especially true when I use a superior vodka such as Belvedere Unfiltered (my review of this spirit will be published in a few short weeks). This particular premium vodka has a light but firm rye flavour. It makes sense to give this spirit just a little more to work with, and so I will make a small break from tradition.

Here is a link to my recipe page where you will find my Dry Martini:

Dry Vodka Martini (with cucumber and lime)

Note: The moral of this posting is that there is in fact a bit of truth to the idea that cocktails which are shaken rather than stirred may be slightly more diluted. However we can mitigate this effect with a second fine sieve, which is why if a Martini recipes calls for the drink to be shaken, it should always specify that the cocktail should also be double strained.

As noted, I prefer to shake my cocktails. It is a faster way to make multiple cocktails for friends, and it puts on a better show for those who might be watching.

Chimo!

Posted in Cocktails & Recipes | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Martini Monday: The Vesper Cocktail

Posted by Arctic Wolf on June 8, 2015

Ali Dedianko, Belvedere Global Vodka Ambassador

Ali Dedianko, Belvedere Global Vodka Ambassador

Last week I introduced everyone to Belvedere’s Vodka Global Ambassador, Ali Dedianko who hosted the Belvedere Martini Seminar which I attended at the downtown Edmonton restaurant, North 53. During that seminar, she introduced me to a very delicious cocktail called the Reverse Vesper (which I will discuss in one of my future postings). The Reverse Vesper is of course, based upon the more famous Martini-style cocktail the Vesper, (which is the subject of this posting).

The Vesper appears to be the invention of Ian Fleming who first published the recipe in his famous 1953 novel, “Casino Royal (which is also of course the novel that introduced the world to the iconic British secret agent, James Bond). In chapter 7 of the novel, Bond tells a bartender to build him a dry martini in a deep champagne goblet. His specific instruction is:

“Three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel.”

Felix Leiter who is accompanying him seems impressed with the bar drink, so James Bond goes on to explain to his CIA counterpart:

“I never have more than one drink before dinner. But I do like that one to be large and very strong and very cold and very well-made. I hate small portions of anything, particularly when they taste bad.”

Vesper SAM_1604Ian Fleming’s sentiments regarding proper cocktail construction hold a ring of truth as that is indeed the manner in which most of the bartenders I have spoken to prefer to build their best cocktails.

Of course Bond comes up with the perfect name for his cocktail when he meets Vesper Lynd in the next chapter. Her name was chosen by to her parents because she was “born on a dark and stormy night” and thus they chose the Latin word “vesper” for her name which means “evening”. James apparently feels the name suits his cocktail and asks Miss Lynd if he can borrow the name.

I have decided to construct my Vesper Cocktail as closely as possible (given what is available in my home bar setting) to James Bonds original formulation.

You can find this recipe by clicking on the following link which will bring you to my Vesper recipe page:

The Vesper Cocktail

Note: After the 1953 publication of Casino Royale,  the Vesper Cocktail became popular with bartenders around the world; however, the actual name of the drink and its complete recipe was not mentioned on-screen in the original, 1967 Casino Royale Movie. This first Casino Royale movie did not star Sean Connery. Instead actor David Niven played James Bond in what was actually  a spoof film which satirized the other James Bond films produced to that point. It was not until 2006 when the 2nd adaptation of the original Casino Royale novel was released as a movie, that we heard the first onscreen reference to the Vesper cocktail. Of course, by then the original novel had already made it famous.

Chimo!

 

 

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Martini Monday: Traditional Martini (with grapefruit peel)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on June 1, 2015

The Vodka Martini can be served either in the traditional format, some prefer to call this a ‘Wet’ Martini, or in a more modern style which is typically called a ‘Dry’ Martini’. However, what makes a martini wet versus dry is a matter of debate. Most bartenders agree that the distinction between wet and dry is a matter of the amount of aromatized wine (usually vermouth) which is added to the cocktail. A wet martini has a higher ratio of vermouth to gin (or vodka) than does a dry martin. Exactly when the martini slips from wet to dry depends upon which bartender (or which cocktail enthusiast) you are speaking to.

Belvedere Martini Seminar

Ali Dedianko hosting her Belvedere Martini Seminar

At a recent Belvedere Martini Seminar I was invited to (hosted by Ali Dedianko, Belvedere’s Vodka Global Ambassador) it was suggested to me that a martini constructed at a ratio of 1 part vermouth to 2 parts vodka could be considered ‘wet’, whereas a martini constructed at a ratio of 1 part vermouth to 6 parts gin or vodka could be considered ‘dry’. Those ratios are as good a starting point as any; however that elusive tipping point from wet to dry remains a matter of conjecture.

Taditional Martini SAM_1591

Traditional Martini (with grapefruit peel)

The main theme of Ali’s seminar, was not in defining when a martini was wet or dry; it was the suggestion that each person should find their own sweet spot of wetness or dryness where they prefer their martinis to be. It was also suggested that the garnish chosen for your martini need not be confined to olives or lemon peel. Many other garnishes can and should be considered with the thought process being towards a flavour note which would compliment the base spirit and the vermouth rather than clash with them. (At the seminar, Ali Dedianko used cucumber, grapefruit peel, and lemon peel as her chosen garnishes to great effect.)

Over the next several weeks, and taking my cue from Ali who taught me a lot, I will be hosting Martini Mondays here on my website. Each week I will publish a different Martini recipe using different ratios of Vodka (and/or Gin) with Vermouth, and experimenting with different garnishes. The recipes I publish will feature Belvedere Vodka, Belvedere Unfiltered Vodka, No. 3 London Dry Gin, and Stock Vermouth all supplied by Charton Hobbes, and who arranged for me to attend the Belvedere Martini Seminar.

I will begin with a Traditional Martini which features a grapefruit peel garnish. You can find that recipe by clicking the link below which will send you to my recipe page:

Traditional Martini (with grapefruit peel)

It is my hope that some of you try these recipes at home, and perhaps make some suggestions of your own in my comments section. I may include some of your recipes too (depending upon whether I have the ingredients handy).

Enjoy the coming summer months everybody, its Martini Season!

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Note: North 53, a fantastic downtown Edmonton Restaurant was the venue for the Belvedere Martini Event. They have a unique menu featuring Northern cuisine and based upon the samplers we were served, the food is delicious! If you are looking for a great downtown restaurant, I recommend you give North 53 a try.

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2015 Margarita Challenge #2 – Tromba (Blanco Tequila)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on May 25, 2015

Tromba SAM_1522

Margarita Tromba

I have arrived at the Number 2 Margarita Spirit in my 2015 Rum Howler Margarita ChallengeTequila Tromba (Blanco).

I will admit now, that this particular spirit actually ranked number 1 on my independent scorecard; however my other judges overruled me (although none of my jurors has the Trombo Spirit placed lower than third on any of their scorecards). This new spirit surpised and delighted all of the judges most of whom had never tasted the spirit before. It is well deserving of its high placement in the Margarita Rankings.

In case you are unfamiliar with the brand, Tromba is a new boutique tequila created by Marco Cedano. According to the website information, Marco first forged his reputation in Mexico as the original Master Distiller for Don Julio. After working with one of the largest (and most well-known) tequila brands in the world, he decided to go ahead on his own, as both Master Distiller and Founder his new independent brand, Tequila Tromba.

Sandy Silence SAM_1508

Sandy Silence

Here is a link to my full review of this new Tequila Spirit:

Review: Tromba Tequila (Blanco)

“… I was very delighted with the aroma which the glass presented to the breezes. There was a light but firm punky agave scent within those breezes with had melded very nicely into the typically sharp peppery note of the highland tequila. There is a ‘freshness’ rising into the air with effervescent scents of lime zest combined with fruity agave, hints of spearmint, and a touch of licorice …”

Tromba was in fact such a nice spirit that I could not resist designing a new cocktail experience for this outstanding agave spirit. This mixed drink, Sandy Silence, can be found at the conclusion of the review.

All the best everyone, and stay tuned for the spirit my judges ranked number 1.

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Note: If you wish to follow my 2015 Rum Howler Margarita Countdown, I have created a summary page which will list all of the results as they are published. That page is available here:

2015 Rum Howler Margarita Countdown

Posted in Awards, Blanco Tequila, Cocktails & Recipes, Extras, Tequila, Tequila Review | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

An El Dorado Spring

Posted by Arctic Wolf on March 12, 2015

Bitter Rum and Cola

Bitter Rum and Cola

I am not sure how it has been for everyone else; but it seems to me that this past winter has outworn its welcome. So when the sun came out this past weekend, and the temperature climbed up above 10 degrees Celsius on Sunday afternoon, the Rum Chums and I moved our bi-monthly rum tasting outdoors for the first time in almost six months. The air still had some chill; but the rum we were sipping just seemed to taste better mixed with some sunshine.

I was fortunate enough to have scheduled myself off work the next day after the tasting, and since it was another warm sunny afternoon, I spent some time making cocktails with an old friend, the El Dorado 3 Year Cask Aged Demerara Rum.

Maybe the warm weather was responsible; but those cocktails seemed to be tasting particularly good as I soaked up the afternoon sunshine and listened to my tunes on my front deck. The mixed drinks were so good in fact, that I thought I should snap a few pictures and share the recipes here on my website:

El Dorado Recipe #1: Bitter Rum and Cola (a Cuba libre’ with bitters)

El Dorado Recipe #2: Iced Rum Darby (for an afternoon in the hot sun)

El Dorado recipe #3: Lime Daiquiri à la mode (a modern take on a classic)

Of course if you are more interested in the El Dorado 3 Year Rum, you can find my most recent review here:

Review: El Dorado 3 Year Cask Aged Demerara Rum

(Note: About six weeks ago, my friends at Woodman Wines and Spirits informed me that they were about to launch this great rum in Ontario. Its been several weeks since then, and I suspect the El Dorado 3 Year Old is already on the shelves at the LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario). You will not be disappointed if you grab a bottle and mix a few cocktails this spring and summer.)

Posted in Cocktails & Recipes, Rum, Rum Reviews, White Rums | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on An El Dorado Spring

Ten Great Cognac Cocktails for 2015

Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 4, 2015

Baby Doll

Baby Doll

During the month of December, I had a lot of fun tasting Cognac and researching different ways to enjoy the spirit. In the course of my research I was able to speak directly with experts from both small Cognac Houses like Pierre Ferrand, and larger houses like CAMUS. I also visited many of the producer’s websites, and the recurring theme was that the Cognac industry appears to be embracing the new cocktail revolution. In fact most of the websites I visited offered a variety of recipes for the consumer to enjoy with not just their VS Cognac, but also with their VSOP, and XO Cognac.

When I spoke directly with Richard Bush, the Area Manager (US Travel Retail, Canada and the Caribbean) for Camus Wines & Spirits, he told me that their CAMUS Cognac is not just for sipping in a brandy snifter. It can (and should) be enjoyed in a variety of other ways. In fact, when Richard served me a glass of his very special CAMUS Elegance Extra (see review here), he suggested that this expensive spirit could be tossed into the freezer overnight, and then served in a tulip shaped glass like a glencairn after it was thoroughly chilled. The idea is to slowly sip the Cognac over the course of an hour or so such that you may experience a fuller spectrum of flavours which are revealed as the spirit slowly warms in the glass. (You can try this with any premium sipping spirit, and if you do you will enjoy a similar delightful experience whether this be Rum, Whisky, or even Anejo Tequila.) Richard also offered his support to the notion that Cognac and Cocktails are partners which have a long history together.

I found myself wholeheartedly agreeing with Richard, and when I published my Cognac Review Series, The 12 Cognacs of Christmas, I tried to convey the sentiment that Cognac is a much more versatile spirit than many persons suppose. I made the point in many of my reviews that one of the great ways to enjoy this premium spirit is in a fine cocktail. I suggested that bar drinks made with Cognac are not to be scoffed at, rather they are an intrinsic part of the enjoyment of the spirit. The truth is that mixing cocktails with Cognac has a tradition which dates back to the very earliest cocktails constructed by the original American bartenders who pioneered the art of mixology.

In keeping with the theme of serving great Cognac cocktails, I thought I would give you a list of ten of my favourite cocktail discoveries which I embraced during my review series. They are listed in no particular order, and if you are interested in making one for yourself just click on the highlighted name of the cocktail to be linked to its recipe page.

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1878 Cocktail SAM_1392

1878 Brandy Cocktail

1) 1878 Brandy Cocktail (In the nineteenth century different styles of bar drinks had their own names, the Crusta, the Smash, and the Julep just to name a few. At that time, the word ‘cocktail’ was reserved for a specific type of bar drink, which closely resembles what we call the Old-Fashioned Cocktail today. How the word ‘cocktail’ evolved to encompass all classes of bar drinks is unknown to me; but if you want to go back in time and build an original ‘Brandy Cocktail’, Leo Engels’ 1878 Bartender’s Guide, American and Other Drinks (and a nice bottle of Cognac), is a great starting place.)

2) Baby Doll (Very similar the modern Side Car except that it usually specifies the use of Courvoisier Cognac as the brandy of choice and Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge as the orange liqueur of choice in the construction of the recipe. It really doesn’t matter what we call this particular bar drink; the point is that it is delicious!)

3) Heretic (Because, some of my friends believe it is sacrilegious to mix brandy or cognac in bar drinks and cocktails, I decided to create my own heretical cocktail which features both a cognac and a well aged brandy. And for the record, it is a thoroughly delightful cocktail!)

4) 1878 Brandy Crusta (I also dug this cocktail out of Leo Engel’s 1878 amazing bartender’s guide, American and Other Drinks. It is not necessarily easy to make in its original format; but with the right Cognac, it is certainly worth the trouble to construct.)

5) Blood Orange Bitters (I found this recipe on the Hennessy Cognac website (which has quite a few more great looking recipes). Hennessy and I agree that orange and lemon are great complimentary flavours for brandy or Cognac!)

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The Classic SAM_1370

The Classic

6) The Classic Cocktail (The truth is that Brandy and Cognac are perhaps the original cocktail mixers. It was not until these spirits all but disappeared in the 1870’s (until the end of the 19th century because of the phylloxera), that other spirits such as whisky, rum and gin began to dominate the mixed drink category. Here is a recipe which has its roots firmly fixed in those earlier times when Brandy and Cognac were kings of the cocktails.)

7) 1878 Mint Julep (The original Mint Julep was probably made with Cognac, not whiskey, in the early nineteenth century. The recipe I am sharing here is loosely based upon the Mint Julep construction found in Leo Engels’, American and Other Drinks. This classic cocktail has stood the test of time and tastes every bit as good today as it did almost 200 years ago.)

8) French Presbyterian (The tall Presbyterian Cocktail is a simple bar drink which mixes Scotch Whisky with ginger ale and soda water. When made with Cognac, I believe it is more appropriate to call this construction a French Presbyterian. This cocktail is hard to beat when a long refreshing dink is called for.)

9) Wisconsin Old Fashioned (This is a regional cocktail which has been receiving bit of press in the cocktail blogs lately. It is not to be confused with the more well-known Old Fashioned Cocktail; however, this favorite of the Dairyland state is definitely yummy in its own right!)

10) Medusa Coil (This is a cocktail of my own construction which evolved when I wanted to put a somewhat modern spin on a traditional (or maybe the right word is ‘classic’) cocktail. I began with a Leo Engels 1878 Brandy Crusta, and with a few additions and subtractions, I arrived at what I call the Medusa Coil. I think it is very good, and I am hoping some of you will try it as well.)

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Fresh Squeezed Fruit and the Home Bartender

Posted by Arctic Wolf on May 6, 2014

The Presbyterian (a fine example of a tall soda filled cocktail)

The Presbyterian (a fine example of a tall soda filled cocktail)

In the last four years, I have constructed a lot of cocktails. My first attempts were concoctions where I (like most cocktail newbies) used soda (in the form of cola, 7-up and ginger-ale) as my main mixing ingredient. These drinks were long and tall, easy to make, and (the other cocktail geeks are going to hate me for admitting it) they are usually quite tasty and refreshing.

I still mix tall soda filled drinks; but if you read my cocktail menu you will find that these tall drinks no longer dominate my recipe section. Instead of lots of soda, I am now more likely to choose fresh squeezed fruit juice as the base for my cocktail constructions.

These fresh fruit juices used to intimidate me; now, I cannot really do without them. When I squeeze the juice from a lemon or lime and begin to mix my cocktail, I begin to feel like I am a real bartender, and when I mix this style of bar drink for my friends they actually think I am a cocktail guru!

Sometimes my friends actually seem mesmerized when I grab a lime, squeeze it on my juicer, strain it into my shaker, add some sugar syrup and Vodka and serve them a simple Vodka Daiquiri. Of course, I am no guru; my skills are rather limited. However, I have found that after a bit of practice I can now make a tasty short cocktail. And you can too., all you need is a little confidence, and to follow some simple guidelines.

The first guideline I follow when I make juice based cocktail is that I let the fresh squeezed fruit, not the alcohol spirit control the cocktail. Some fruits, like lemons and limes are very tart and/or sour, and they require the addition of a sweetener (like sugar) to bring them into balance. Other fruits, like oranges and pineapples are already sweet, and they require little, if any sweetener. Then there are the in between fruits like grapefruit which require some sweetness added, but not nearly as much as what the sour lemons and limes do. Over time I have developed a few simple ratios that work as good starting points for me. These ratios are as follows:

  • Sour fruits (lemons and limes) need 2 parts of sugar syrup to 3 parts juice.
  • Intermediate fruits (raspberries and grapefruit) need 1 part sugar syrup to 2 parts juice.
  • Sweet fruits (oranges and pineapple) require 1 part sugar syrup to 4 parts juice.

These ratios are not (of course) fixed in stone, they serve as guidelines. My suggestion is to start here, and then tweak the ratios based upon your preference for sweetness, and for the actual mixing spirit you are using.

(Note: I always use a 1:1 ration of sugar to water when I make my sugar syrup. If you use  a different ratio you should adjust the ratios above accordingly.)

Of course we need to know how much base spirit to add to make a good cocktail, and for this I have a few guideline ratios as well:

  • No more than 3 parts of a 80 proof alcohol spirit to 2 parts fresh juice.
  • Use less base spirit if it is an overproof spirit

If I choose to add a sweet liqueur like Curacao for added flavour:

  • One part liqueur to two parts fruit juice
  • Decrease the sugar by at least half the amount of sweet liqueur used.

Basically I am saying that if I add 1 ounce of a sweet liqueur to a cocktail recipe then I must decrease the sugar syrup amount by at least 1/2 ounce. Again I may have to adjust the sugar syrup in the recipe after the first try; but if I follow my guidelines I will always be close.

Using those simple ratios as my guidelines I can construct all manner of cocktails, and they almost always turn out great!

Let me step you through a likely scenario where the amount and the type of fruit I have on hand controls the cocktail which I build.

Lets say, I happen to have five friends over, and in my fridge I only have one orange, one lemon, and one lime, and on my bar is an open bottle of Herencia de Plata Reposado Tequila. Since I want each of us to enjoy the same cocktail, I am going to need to use all of the fruit. In this scenario, I would begin by using my juicer to squeeze out each fruit.

Let us pretend that I squeezed the lemon and lime juice into a measuring cup, and I ended up with about 100 ml (65 ml of lemon and 35 ml of lime) of juice. Easy enough, I add 65 ml of simple syrup into a convenient container with the fresh lemon and lime juice and I let that stand. Next I squeeze out the orange, and let’s say I get 100 ml of juice this time as well. Again, that’s pretty easy, I add the orange juice to my reserved container with the sweetened lemon and lime, and then add 25 ml of simple syrup. Now, the total amount of fresh juice I have in the container is about 200 ml, and the total sugar syrup is 90 ml.

SAM_0803  HereticWe can now add the alcohol spirit (in this case Herencia Reposado Tequila). In this case I keep my measurements simple and add 300 ml of tequila. Since I already used orange juice, I will leave my orange liqueur (triple sec) out of the recipe. This gives me about 600 ml of cocktail liquid to divide between my five friends and me. Easy enough I grab my cocktail shaker and fill it with ice. I stir the reserve container which holds my cocktail base and add just under 100 ml of the liquid into my shaker. I give everything a good shake and strain into a cocktail glass and then repeat for each guest.

When I finish all six of us have a nice fruity tequila cocktail to enjoy on my back deck. Since some of my friends still like those tall soda filled drinks, so I open a bottle of soda (Q-Soda in this case), and I let them to add a bit of soda to the cocktail if they desire. (Some of my friends may even add a bit of ice, and we all ejoy a great cocktail on a hot lazy Sunday afternoon. (See picture to the right.)

Keeping your bar drink simple is at the heart of the process of making a good cocktail. All you really need is fresh fruit, simple syrup, and a quality mixing spirit. The fresher the fruit, the better the final cocktail.

Here is the simplified recipe of the cocktail I just made:

2 oz Reposado Tequila
3/4 oz orange juice
1/2 oz Lemon juice
1/4 oz Lime juice
7/8 oz simple syrup
ice
soda (optional)

Add the Ingredients to cocktail shaker with ice
Shake until the outside of the shaker frosts
Strain into a cocktail glass
add a splash of soda (optional)
Garnish with a slice of fruit

As you can see the cocktail looks delicious. All that left now is to give it a name.

Any suggestions …

Posted in Cocktails & Recipes | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Review: Baker’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Posted by Arctic Wolf on March 27, 2014

BakersBaker’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is part of Jim Beam’s Small Batch Bourbon Collection. This collection is composed of Booker’s, Baker’s  and the previously reviewed Knob Creek,and Basil Hayden’s. The whiskey collection is considered by Jim Beam Distillers to be a selection of ‘ultra-premium’ bourbon whiskeys created to establish a high-end category for bourbon, and thus to appeal to the serious whiskey aficionado.

The Baker’s Bourbon was named for Baker Beam, who was the grand-nephew of James Beauregard Beam (Jim Beam). It is bottled at 107 proof (53.5% alcohol by volume) and produced from bourbon whisky which was aged for a minimum of 7 years. Interestingly, the mash for this spirit was apparently fermented utilizing a  special strain of ‘jug yeast’ that has been in the Beam family for over 60 years.

Wisconsin Old Fashioned (Whiskey)

Wisconsin Old Fashioned (Whiskey)

Recently I was given a bottle of Baker’s by the Alberta Beam Global Team for the purpose of a review upon my website, and you may read that review by clicking on the following excerpt link:

Review: Baker’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

“… The spiciness is off the charts no doubt aided by the 53.5% alcohol by volume bottling strength of the Baker’s Whisky. Despite the full barrel of spice (and despite the obvious push of alcohol) the spirit is remarkable easy to sip. This is because all that spice is accompanied by an equally forceful explosion of flavour and sweetness …”

A recipe which has become fashionable to write about on the cocktail blogs lately is the Wisconsin Old Fashioned, which mixes a nice oaky brandy with an orange slice, brandied cherries, and Angostura Bitters. It is really quite delicious. When I was tasting the Baker’s Bourbon, I could not help but think to myself how well this particular spirit would work using the Wisconsin method. At the conclusion of my review you will find my recipe for the Wisconsin Old Fashioned modified slightly to accommodate the Baker’s Bourbon rather than a fine Brandy.

Take care everyone, and please enjoy Responsibly!

Posted in American Whiskey, Cocktails & Recipes, Whisk(e)y | Tagged: , , , , , , | Comments Off on Review: Baker’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

 
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