Posted by Arctic Wolf on June 22, 2015
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
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:
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: Belveder Unfiltered, Cocktails, Martini Mondays, No. 3 London Dry Gin, Reverse Vesper | 1 Comment »
Posted by Arctic Wolf on June 21, 2015
Today I thought I would give everyone who is scrambling at the last-minute a few suggestions for Father’s Day with the same list of ten spirits which I posted on my refrigerator for my wife and kids. Every item on my list is considered by myself to be a top-notch spirit, however each is available in my local market for less than 100 bucks. That may seem a high watermark for some, but I have three kids and they can chip in together.
Any gift from his list would make any reasonable Dad happy:
1) Dictador XO Insolent Rum
2) Ron Millonario XO Reserva Especial Rum
3) El Dorado 21 Year Old Special Reserve Rum
4) Booker’s True Barrel Bourbon
5) Highland Park 12 Year Old Single Malt
6) Gibson’s Finest Rare 18 Year Old
7) Wyborowa Exquisite (Wodka)
8) Botanist Islay Dry Gin
9) Corzo Reposado Tequila
10) H by Hine Fine Champagne Cognac (VSOP)
Graham’s Six Grapes
I realize that not everyone can or would want to spend 100 bucks. If you are more budget conscious, then here is a list of ten great budget priced spirits which would still make any Dad happy (including me):
1) Bacardi 8 Yr Old Rum
2) Appleton Estate Extra Old 12 Year
3) Diplomático Añejo
4) Ninety “Decades of Richness” 20 Year Old Canadian Rye Whisky
5) Bulleit Bourbon Frontier Whiskey
6) Alberta Springs Canadian Whisky
7) Highwood Premium Vodka
8) Broker’s Premium London Dry Gin (40 %ABV)
9) Herencia de Plata (Reposado)
10) W & J Graham’s “Six Grapes” Reserve Port
The two lists are in no particular order, but I have tried to include a good range of spirit types with the emphasis on Rum of course. Hopefully this helps someone, if not for Father’s Day, then maybe for your own personal shopping.
Posted in Extras | Tagged: Bourbon, Cognac, Father's Day, Gin, Port Wine, Rum, Tequila, Vodka, Whisky | 1 Comment »
Posted by Arctic Wolf on June 19, 2015
Alberta Pure Vodka is a brand name owned by Carrington Distillers who appear to be based in Calgary, Alberta. This is a triple distilled grain spirit produced by Alberta Distillers Limited which is bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume. It is sold throughout Western Canada and even makes its way into Ontario via the LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario).
When I tasted the Alberta Pure Vodka for the first time it was as part of a flight of vodkas my friends (the Rum Chums) and I were sampling at my first Vodka Tasting of 2015. We chilled each Vodka in my deep freeze such that there were all at about 2 degrees Celsius when we sampled them. Each vodka was served individually in a shot glass, and I kept track of what my friends were saying during the tasting.
(Note: My previous reviews for Potter’s Premium Vodka and Absolut Vodka were published based upon notes compiled from that initial tasting session.)
Alberta Pure Martini with mint and lime
More recently, I sampled Alberta Pure once more, this time in a flight of more premium vodka spirits which also included Finlandia, Belvedere Unfiltered, and AnestasiA. Again I compiled notes for each Vodka and from those notes (and from my previous notes) I constructed this review. (My reviews for the other three spirits will follow in the coming weeks.)
Here is a link to my full review for Alberta Pure Vodka:
“… when I raised the glass to my nose I could detect very little aroma. There was a light spiciness, but that was all. The first sip brought forward bits of grain spice and a touch of citrus zest, but again, that was all. When chilled, Alberta Pure is an extremely clean crisp spirit …”
I have been on a bit of a Martini kick lately and my review includes a nice recipe for a Vodka Martini (with lime and mint garnish).
Please enjoy my review and the additional Vodka reviews which will follow.
Posted in Vodka, Vodka Reviews | Tagged: Alberta Pure, Cocktails, Martini, Vodka, Vodka Review | 1 Comment »
Posted by Arctic Wolf on June 17, 2015
Monument Valley Distillers call themselves artisan distillers who craft small batches of bourbon, whiskey and brandy. The genesis for the company was a conversation over dinner between founders Ethan Wayne, (son of the epic movie actor, John Wayne) and Jayson Woodbridge and Chris Radomski (vintners of Hundred Acre Wines) in Calistoga, California. The company they created as a result of that conversation (Monument Valley Distillers) is based in California, and it spawned DUKE Spirits which is now tasked with preserving the legacy of Ethan’s father, John Wayne, by creating authentic products bearing his name.
DUKE* Kentucky Straight Bourbon is distilled in Lawrenceburg Kentucky, and (again according to the website information) is blended from small batches of hand crafted five to ten year old whiskeys which have been aged in new heavily charred American Oak barrels. The resulting bourbon whiskey is bottled at 44 % alcohol by volume.
You may read my full review here:
“… When I returned to the glass, light butterscotch aromas and bits of vanilla had revealed themselves; however, a sort of peppery grassy aroma of green tobacco was still dominating the breezes. There was also some spicy orange citrus peel and a few almond scents …”
Please enjoy the review!
Posted in American Whiskey, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: Bourbon, Duke, DUKE Spirits, DUKE* Kentucky Straight Bourbon, John Wayne, Monument Valley Distillers, Review, Whiskey | Comments Off on Review: Duke* Kentucky Straight Bourbon
Posted by Arctic Wolf on June 15, 2015
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.
This 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:
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.
Posted in Cocktails & Recipes | Tagged: Belvedere Unfiltered, Cocktails, dry martini, Monday Martini | 2 Comments »
Posted by Arctic Wolf on June 14, 2015
Gilbey’s Gin is owned by spirits conglomerate Diageo; but it is produced and sold under its current license by Beam Suntory. The Beam Suntory website does not contain extensive information regarding Gilbey’s; however I did find this statement which describes its production:
“In making a fine London Dry Gin such as Gilbey’s, the fermentation process is similar to whiskey production. The fundamental difference is that the congeners, the natural taste elements that are so necessary to Bourbon and Scotch are absent. Instead, gin’s flavor is introduced to the alcohol when it is in a vaporous form and made to pass through a “filter” of juniper berries, herbs and spices.”
Here is a link to my full review:
“… I discovered a very traditional gin profile with firm juniper aromas leading out in front of lightly sweet citrus scents of orange and lemon. There are some fine spices in the breezes which remind me coriander, ginger and cardamon, as well as some floral accents resembling lilacs and white lilies …”
Please enjoy my review which includes two nice recipe suggestions, Gilbey’s and Tonic, and a Vesper Cocktail.
Posted in Gin, Gin Review | Tagged: Cocktails, Gilbey's, Gin, Gin and Tonic, London Dry Gin, Review, Vesper | 2 Comments »
Posted by Arctic Wolf on June 12, 2015
Centennial Limited Edition Canadian Whisky is produced by Alberta’s own Highwood Distillers. It has quietly replaced Highwood’s former Centennial 10 Year Old Canadian Whisky (see review here) as the flagship brand of their Centennial Lineup. The Centennial brand is unique in Canada as rather than using corn as the base grain for this whisky, Centennial uses soft Canadian winter wheat and rye This gives the Centennial brand a smooth and soft flavour profile which I have found is unlike any other Canadian whisky. In fact, using grains grown exclusively on the Canadian prairies, distilling the grain in their home Province of Alberta, and aging the spirit in the severe Western Canadian climate makes Centennial is a Whisky unlike any other in the world.
Centennial Limited Edition features no age statement which makes it different from the Centennial 10 Year Old Whisky which used to carry the flag for the brand. When I asked the folks at the distillery I was told that the Centennial brand had reached a point of popularity such that Highwood could no longer meet the demand for their 10 Year Old whisky across the country. This meant that the distiller was faced with two choices. They could either raise the price to temper demand (and annoy their loyal customers), or they could create a new flagship Centennial Whisky (the Limited Edition) which they could produce in sufficient quantity to meet the new demand across Canada. They chose the second course, although they are hoping this new blend is met with the same enthusiasm as the previous blend.
Here is a link to the full review:
“… I let the glass sit for a while, and noticed that the rye grain was joined by wood spices and these spicy accents seem to grow in the breezes. I also notice a light almost bitter astringency in the air which seems to be related to the building rye spice. As the glass continues to decant, some dry grassy tobacco comes to the fore and a light fruitiness is evolving from the rye which is also filling the air with light scents of ginger …”
Please enjoy the review which concludes with a nice recipe suggestion, the Canadian Whisky Splash!
Posted in Canadian Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: Canadian Whisky, Centennial, Highwood Distillers, Limited Edition, Review, Whisky, Whisky Splash | Comments Off on Review: Centennial Limited Edition Canadian Whisky (NAS)
Posted by Arctic Wolf on June 11, 2015
The Angostura Single Barrel Rum is aged in selected American oak (bourbon) barrels for a minimum of 5 years. According to the Angostura website, it is a blend of medium and heavy bodied rums hand drawn from their state-of the-art continuous five-column still. The blend is an authentic pure Trinidadian rum which is limited each year to only a certain number of batches.
I found my bottle for review while shopping at one of the Duty-Free liquor shops at the Trinidad International Airport. I was intrigued enough to pass over many more well-known brands of rum and whisky, and I have decided to give the rum a review here on my website. As always I shall begin with the bottle the rum is presented in.
Here is a link to the full review:
” … I begin to notice a rich caramel building, and a strong indication of oak imparting fresh scents of honeycomb, vanilla, cedar and toffee into the breezes above the glass. As the glass breathes, the oak becomes firmer and a light smokiness of dried fruit aroma develops. Marmalade, oak, dried apricots and spicy toffee are all apparent in the fully decanted glass …”
Please enjoy this review!
Posted in Rum, Rum Reviews | Tagged: Angostura, Rum, Rum Review, Single Barrel, Trinidad Rum | Comments Off on Review: Angostura Single Barrel Rum
Posted by Arctic Wolf on June 10, 2015
Louisiana Spirits was formed in 2011 with the stated aim to produce a world-class rum in Lacassine, Louisiana from Louisiana sugarcane. By 2013 their distillery located a few miles east of Lake Charles, Louisiana, was producing a craft rum in what they call the largest privately owned rum distillery in the USA. Currently three rums are produced (a spiced, a flavoured, and a white rum) which have made their way into the Alberta market via Lifford Wines who distribute and market the spirit here in my home Province of Alberta.
Their Satsuma Rum Liqueur is flavored with Satsuma juice. For those who do not know, the Satsuma orange is a Mandarin-style orange imported into the United States originally from the former Satsuma Province in Japan. According to the website information, the folks at Louisiana Spirits started mixing this Satsuma juice with their Bayou Rum during the last Satsuma harvest in Louisiana. Apparently the taste was so good that they decided to produce a Rum liqueur based upon the Satsuma Orange.
Here is a link to my full review:
“… When I bring the rum liqueur to my nose, the aroma drifting into the breezes reminds me of a mixture of fresh tangerines and orange Kool-aid. Those scents rise alongside a sweetness which is quite intense and I understand why the producers decided to call their spirit a ‘liqueur’ which implies more sweetness than a ‘flavoured rum’. …”
Please enjoy my review which includes my new recipe, the Satsuma Daiquiri.
Have a great day everyone!
Posted in Flavouerd Rums, Rum, Rum Reviews | Tagged: Flavoured Rum, Liqueur, Review, Rum, Satsuma | Comments Off on Review: Satsuma Rum Liqueur
Posted by Arctic Wolf on June 8, 2015
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.”
Ian 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:
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.
Posted in Cocktails & Recipes | Tagged: Cocktails, Ian Fleming, James Bond, Martini, Vesper | Comments Off on Martini Monday: The Vesper Cocktail