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Archive for the ‘Cocktails & Recipes’ Category

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.


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!)


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.)

Posted in Cocktails & Recipes | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Ten Great Cognac Cocktails for 2015

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
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

Review: Tanduay Gold Asian Rum

Posted by Arctic Wolf on March 14, 2014

gold finalLast year, Tanduay Holdings began its American Invasion by placing two new rums into the North American market. For those who do not know, Tanduay is one of the largest Rum producers in the world. (The reason they have been relatively unknown in North America is because their Asian rum is produced in the Philipines, and it sells almost exclusively into Asia.) The Tanduay invasion was launched with two premium rums (a Silver, and a Gold). The Silver Rum (reviewed here) is a blending of rums which have been aged up to 5 years and filtered to be a pale straw coloured spirit meant for mixing high-end cocktails. The Gold Rum is a blending of rums aged up to 7 years and is meant to be a spirit to be enjoyed neat or over ice, although the makers of the rum do not shy away from recommending their Gold Rum for quality cocktails as well.


Rum Crusta

Here is a link to my full review of the Tanduay Gold Asian Rum:

Review: Tanduay Gold Asian Rum

” … I sense a light honeyed brown sugar and toffee aroma rising from the glass with spicy accents that are enticing. The spiciness carries impressions of ginger, cardamom, vanilla, clean oak and orange peel. There is also a bit of an exotic flair within this spice hinting that the rum may have a few surprises for me when I taste it …”

My review includes a classic nineteenth century cocktail recipe which tastes very nice indeed with the Tanduay Gold Rum. That recipe, the Rum Crusta is based upon a 1878 variation of the Brandy Crusta developed by Leo Engels who almost certainly used Joseph Santini’s 1840 Brandy Crusta recipe as his inspiration (see the Leo Engels Brandy Crusta recipe and explanation here).

Cheers everybody, and let us hope that the recent warmer weather is a harbinger of springtime!


Posted in Cocktails & Recipes, Dark Rums, Rum, Rum Reviews | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Review: Tanduay Gold Asian Rum

Review: The Wild Geese Premium Rum

Posted by Arctic Wolf on March 4, 2014

prumThe Wild Geese Rum Collection is the companion to the Wild Geese Irish Whisky Collection. While the Wild Geese Irish Whisky collection sought to bring the Story of the Wild Geese and their struggles in European Armies to light, the Wild Geese Rum Collection continues the saga bringing to light the story of some of these Wild Geese who after service in the continental armies of Europe found themselves transported to America and the Caribbean where many worked upon the Rum Plantations in the new world.

I received samples of the entire rum collection from the brand developer, Protege International, and began my review series of the Collection with reviews of the Wild Geese Golden Rum, and the Wild Geese Caribbean Spiced Rum. This review of the Wild Geese Premium Rum concludes my examination.

Rum Club Signature Cocktail SAM_1059

Rum Club Cocktail

The Wild Geese Premium Rum is a blend of Bajan, Guyanese, and Jamaican rums which have been aged for up to eight years, and bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume.

Here is a link to my full review:

Review: The Wild Geese Premium Rum

“… When I bring the glass to my nose, I sense a light sweetness of canned peaches and apricots a rather firm impression of vanilla. There are some light oak spices in the breezes as well as the light spiciness of orange and banana peel. Hints of tobacco and a light grassiness rounds out the nose …”

Please enjoy my review which includes a new signature cocktail I designed for my rum club, the Rum Club Cocktail.


Posted in Cocktails & Recipes, Dark Rums, Rum, Rum Reviews | Tagged: , , , , , , | Comments Off on Review: The Wild Geese Premium Rum

Review: Revel Stoke Spiced Whisky

Posted by Arctic Wolf on February 27, 2014

Revelstoke SpicedRevel Stoke Spiced Whisky has been around for almost 15 years. It is a product of  Ed Phillips and Sons in Princeton, Minnesota, and the spiced whisky is apparently (according to the back of the bottle anyway),

“Inspired by the age-old tradition of rugged Canadian outdoorsman infusing their whisky with vanilla and spices.”

According to Davin de Kergommeaux (at the Revel Stoke Spiced Whisky is named for the town of Revelstoke, located in the mountains of British Columbia. The base whisky is however, distilled on the eastern side of those mountains in Alberta, at an unnamed Albertan Distillery from a base of wheat and rye. According to the back label of my sample bottle, the flavours and spices within are produced from sugar, water, natural flavour, and citric acid.

Revalation SAM_1046This Spiced whisky was originally bottled at 40 % abv. The brand had all but disappeared until a few years ago when it was relaunched by the Phillips Distilling Company, this time as a 45 % abv spirit. During the relaunch, they gave the bottle given a bit of a make over to better reflect those rugged Canadian outdoorsmen which are said to have inspired its creation.

You may read my full review by clicking on the following excerpt:

Review: Revel Stoke Spiced Whisky

“… The initial nose brings both sweet butterscotch and some nice dusty rye scents (ginger and cardamom) forward into the air. There is a sweep of vanilla in the air as well with hints of other spices (perhaps nutmeg, coriander and a speck of cinnamon). As the glass sits, the sweetness builds bringing to mind very mild scents of cherry nibs and a speck of menthol …”

I hope you enjoy my review which includes my original cocktail suggestion, Revelation!



You may find my 2013 list of the 25 Best Canadian Whiskies here:  The Rum Howler 2013 – Top 25 Canadian Whiskies

Posted in Cocktails & Recipes, Spiced Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , | Comments Off on Review: Revel Stoke Spiced Whisky

Review: Tanduay Silver Asian Rum

Posted by Arctic Wolf on February 25, 2014

Tanduay silver finalLast year, Tanduay Holdings began its American Invasion by placing two new rums into the North American market. For those who do not know, Tanduay is one of the very largest Rum producers in the world. (The reason they have been relatively unknown in North America is because their Asian rum is produced in the Philipines and sells almost exclusively into Asia.) This invasion was launched with two premium (a Silver, and a Gold) rums. The Tanduay Silver Rum reviewed here is a blend of rums aged up to 5 years and filtered to be a pale straw coloured spirit meant for mixing high-end cocktails.

Note: The origin of Tanduay Holdings Inc. can be traced to 1937 when The Manilla Wine Merchants Inc. was incorporated. This company was basically an amalgamation of several business interests, the important one for our discussion being the Manilla Steamship Company which held agricultural interests in the Western Visayas and had been producing rum (and other spirits) in the Philippines since at least 1893. In 1999, the Manilla Wine Merchants Inc. formally changed their name to Tanduay Holdings. (For more information please visit the Tanduay USA Website.)


Tanduay #2

Here is a link to my full review:

Review: Tanduay Silver Asian Rum

“… When I raise the glass to my nose, a gentle but firm butterscotch toffee rises out of the glass followed by a soft waft of fine oak spice, soft banana and lightly sharp orange peel. I allowed the glass to breathe, and enjoyed developing scents of light baking spices (vanilla, cinnamon, and ginger) and the delicious scent of light brown sugar …”

As you will see when you read the review, I enjoyed mixing a few daiquiri recipes with the Tanduay Silver. For your enjoyment, I included two recipes, the Lime and Maraschino Daiquiri, and Tanduay # 2 (based upon the Bacardi No. 2 Daiquiri).

Please enjoy my review and my suggested cocktails!

Posted in Cocktails & Recipes, Rum, Rum Reviews, White Rums | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Review: Tanduay Silver Asian Rum

Review: Last Mountain Canadian Rye Whisky

Posted by Arctic Wolf on February 23, 2014

Last Mountain 1The Last Mountain Distillery is part of a small wave of Micro-Distillers which have began to appear on the Canadian landscape over the last few years. These are small ‘mom and pop’ operations which make their spirits in small batches usually only a barrel or two at a time. This particular distillery is located in Lumsden, Saskatchewan, and it is owned and operated by the husband and wife team of Colin and Meredith Schmidt.

In the early stages of the development of their rye whisky I was sent a sample bottle and asked to publish my thoughts here on my website, (see article here). It is almost 2 years later, and I am happy to report that the Last Mountain Canadian Rye Whisky (bottled at 40 % abv. and made from prairie wheat) is in full production.

Here is a link to my full review:

Review: Last Mountain Canadian Rye Whisky

“… The dusty dry rye continues to pour out of the glass with smells of freshly baled straw, sanded oak, sandalwood and fresh tobacco running alongside. Joining are sweeter accents of butterscotch and honey. As the glass sits some fruity aromas develop as well with canned apricots and peaches, a few raisins and a hint of gooseberry jam bringing more sweetness to the nose …”

Please enjoy the review which includes a few nice cocktail recipes for your enjoyment, the Icy Breeze, and a nice Rye and Soda!

Cheers Everyone!

Posted in Canadian Whisky, Cocktails & Recipes, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Review: Last Mountain Canadian Rye Whisky

Alabazam and Miguel Torres 20 Hors d’âge – Instant Classic!

Posted by Arctic Wolf on February 21, 2014

Torres Alabazam SAM_1051The Alabazam is an old cocktail recipe usually credited to Leo Engels, an American bartender (working in London) who published the recipe in 1878 (recipe number 192 by the way) in his cocktail book, American and Other Drinks (grab yourself a copy because this is not the only gem in the book). His recipe bears a resemblance to the modern Sidecar, but with one significant difference, Mr. Engels used Angostura Bitters in the recipe (with the lemon juice and orange Curacao), lots of Angostura Bitters!

I have seen a few modern versions of the recipe, usually with the bitters toned down, and the teaspoon of sugar replaced with a teaspoon of simple syrup. However, I recommend the original construction,  as well as the use of a robust brandy which will stand up to the bitters. After a bit of experimentation I found Miguel Torres 20 Hors d’âge works extremely well.  (see review for Miguel Torres 20 Hors d’âge  here)

Leo Engels recipe can be summarized as follows:


Half a wine glass of brandy (about 1 3/4 oz)
2 teaspoons Orange Curacao
1 teaspoon Angostura bitters
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Shake well over fine (crushed ) ice
Strain into a wine glass

The Miguel Torres 20 Hors d’âge Brandy, with its strong oak flavour running throughout, works very well with the heavy dose of bitters in the Alabazam. I also used Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao (see review here) to obtain as close to an original 1878 Curacao flavour as possible. When you try to duplicate the recipe please, do not skimp on the sugar, as the lemon juice and bitters are unforgiving if not balanced by the appropriate amount of sweetness.



Miguel Torres 20 Hors d’âge, is a double distilled brandy made by the Torres family (or bodega) who have been intrinsically linked to the wine making region of Spain known as the Penedès for over three centuries. Their brandy is produced from selected wines of the Parellada (a traditional Catalan white varietal) and Ugni Blanc (also known as Trebbiano in Italy) grape varieties. After distillation of the wine in copper pot stills, a careful selection process is undertaken to choose the most positive aromatic fractions, and these are aged in french Limousin oak barrels.

Posted in Brandy and Cognac Reviews, Brandy Review, Cocktails & Recipes | Tagged: , , , , | Comments Off on Alabazam and Miguel Torres 20 Hors d’âge – Instant Classic!


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