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Posts Tagged ‘Cocktail’

2015 Margarita Challenge #3 – Dulce Vida Organic Tequila (Blanco)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on May 22, 2015

Dulce Vida SAM_1532

Dulce Vida Organic Tequila is the only 100° proof, 100% organic tequila (also free from additives of any kind) in the world. As well as being 100% organic, this spirit is also produced in a manner which embraces the concept of sustainability. During production of the spirit a complete waste recapture program is set in place which results in the production of a nutrient-rich soil supplement which is supplied to the local farming community. As well, the methane gas which is produced as a by-product of the waste collection & processing is captured and utilized to help power Dulce Vida’s production facilities in the village of San Ignacio Cerro Gordo at Campanario (in Mexico of course).

During the tasting flights for the 2015 Rum Howler Margarita Challenge, the Dulce Vida stood out from the crowd as the light earthy quality which I noticed when I sampled the tequila neat manifested itself as a light smoky flavour in the Margarita cocktail. In fact more than one of my judges asked me later if I had slipped a smoky mezcal in with the tequila. I had not of course, but the observation was astute as the Dulce Vida certainly carries a light mezcal-like character into the cocktail experience.

My jurors were quite smitten (as was I) and the result was that the Dulce Vida Organic Tequila shot all the way up to the number 3 position in my Margarita Countdown.

Here is a link to my recent review published just six months ago:

Review: Dulce Vida Organic Tequila (Blanco)

” … The initial aroma from the blanco spirit is somewhat peppery with a sweet underlying agave scent. There is a light earthy quality which sits within the spicy pepper and some effervescent citrus notes which remind me of lightly sweet grapefruit and lime citrus zest. The breezes above the glass also carry impressions of fresh garden mint, some very mild licorice and a hint of the smell of wet grass just after a light rain shower …”

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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, Tequila, Tequila Review | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Review: Centennial Canadian Rye Whisky Dark Chocolate

Posted by Arctic Wolf on May 11, 2015

Centennial_Dark_Chocolate_-_shadowHighwood Distillers is a Canadian spirits manufacturer in the town of High River, Alberta, which is situated 40 minutes south of Calgary, in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. When I visited their facilities a few years ago I could not help but notice how they make their spirits one batch at a time in a friendly, family style atmosphere. I was impressed and I have been a fan of Highwood ever since.

Recently I received a sample of their Centennial Canadian Rye Whisky (Dark Chocolate). The spirit represents a melding of their Centennial Rye Whisky with the a small dollop of Dark Chocolate flavour. The flavoured whisky is bottled at 35 % alcohol by volume.

Orange Chocolate Martini

Orange Chocolate Martini

Here is a link to my full review:

Review: Centennial Canadian Rye Whisky Dark Chocolate

“… The Dark Chocolate Whisky has a pale mahogany colour which seems at odds with the rich dark chocolate scents which seem to ooze out of the rye and wood spices drifting in the breezes above the glass. The impact of the chocolate seems to be softened by an impression of fresh dairy cream within the make-up of its aroma …”

This spirit plays well with caramel, cola, coffee, and even (if you check out my recipe below) orange liqueurs. Those are some of my favourite flavours, so I think you can safely assume that my recommendation for the Centennial Dark Chocolate is quite enthusiastic.

Please enjoy my review which includes a nice dessert martini recipe which have I dubbed the Orange Chocolate Martini.

 

Posted in Canadian Whisky, Flavoured Whisky, Liqueur, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review, Whisky Liqueur | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

2015 Margarita Challenge #10 – Hornitos Plata Tequila

Posted by Arctic Wolf on May 5, 2015

HORNITOS SAM_1519

Hornitos Margarita

A few days ago I announced that my Rum Chums and I had been busy during the months of March and April sampling a variety of Blanco Tequilas cocktails (Margarita Cocktails to be exact) with the aim of determining which was the best agave spirit for the quintessential Tequila cocktail, the Margarita. Beginning today, on Cinco de Mayo, and then in a countdown format throughout the month of May, I shall publish the results. I am also going to take this opportunity to reassess many of my previous tequila reviews, with the aim of incorporating the newest information available about each brand and of course incorporating my groups deliberations into the review process. I shall begin my publications with the spirit my group judged as the 10th Best Blanco Tequila to use for mixing your Margarita Cocktails, Hornitos Plata.

And in fact, you may read my most recent review of the Hornitos Plata by clicking on the following link:

Review: Hornitos Plata Tequila

“… The entry into the mouth is spicy with more heated citrus zest than I noticed on the nose. In addition to citrus zest, the spicy flavour also carries black pepper, a touch of cloves and perhaps a little ginger across the palate as well …”

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 Challenge

Note: Hornitos Plata Tequila is a 100 % Agave Tequila produced by the Sauza Tequila Import Company. The Plata Tequila is said to be the creation of Don Francisco Havier Sauza (Don Franco), who is a third generation member of the Sauza family which founded the La Preseverancia, distillery. Incidentally, Don Franco is credited with helping the Mexican Government to establish the Jalisco region of Mexico as the exclusive origin of genuine tequila in 1974.

Please enjoy this new Rum Howler Challenge!

Posted in Awards, Blanco Tequila, Tequila, Tequila Review | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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: Booker’s True Barrel Bourbon

Posted by Arctic Wolf on April 20, 2014

Booker's SAM_1112Booker’s True Barrel Bourbon is part of Jim Beam’s Small Batch Bourbon Collection. This collection is composed of Booker’s, and the previously reviewed Baker’s, 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 Booker’s Bourbon was named for Booker Noe, who in 1992 began to produce the Booker’s whiskey bottled “straight-from-the-barrel, uncut and unfiltered”.

Apparently, the Booker’s whiskey was originally produced in extremely limited quantities and reserved as special holiday gifts for his friends and family. This high strength ‘holiday bourbon’ was so popular with those who received it that the Beam company decided to produce it as a special bottling beginning in 1992.  Interestingly, Booker’s Bourbon does not carry a consistent age statement from batch to batch as barrels are chosen for character and flavour rather than for being a specific age. For that reason the age of a particular bottle can vary between 6 to 8 years old. Because the whiskey is bottled straight from the barrel the bottling strength can also vary (according to the website) between 59.5 % to 64.55 % per batch.

sam_1118-the-bestiary

The Beastiary

(The Beam Global team must be aware of my fondness for over-strength whiskey because my sample bottle checks in at the full 64.55%.)

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

Review: Booker’s True Barrel Bourbon

“… As I enjoyed the scents and smells which the whiskey brought forward, I was treated to even more richness as indications of dry fruit revealed themselves above the glass along with hints of treacle and pan roasted walnuts. There were also delightful aromas of leather chairs and rich pipe tobacco meandering into the breezes with undertones of smoky charcoal and dabbles of licorice mixed in. What I sense only a little of, is any undo astringency from the whopping 64.55 % alcohol within the glass. Maybe I have a bottle from a particularly outstanding batch; but air above my glass represents a masterpiece of whiskey goodness …”

My cocktail suggestion at the end of my review, The Beastiary, combines the goodness and savagery of Booker’s True Barrel Bourbon with a whopping dose of bitters in the tradition of the Alabazam Cocktail.

Please enjoy my both review and my cocktail which is not for the meek of heart. Happy Easter!

Posted in American Whiskey, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

Review: Amrut Fusion Single Malt Whisky

Posted by Arctic Wolf on April 1, 2014

SAM_1016 FusionThe Amrut Distillery is situated in Bangalore ‘the garden city’ of India. The distillery sits in a tropical locale 3000 ft above sea level with its water source being the Himalayan Mountains.

The Amrut Fusion Single Malt Whisky is produced from two geographically disparate grains. The majority of the barley used to produce this whisky was grown and harvested at the foot of the Himalayan Mountains.This Punjabi barley was mashed, distilled and aged in the distillery at Bangalore. The distillery also uses a peated barley sourced in Scotland and this barley is as well brought to the facilities in Bangalore to be separately mashed, distilled and then aged until maturity. When each separately distilled whisky is ready, they are blended and then aged for a second period of time to allow the different whiskies flavours to marry in the barrel prior to bottling.

Rob Roy Cocktail

Rob Roy Cocktail

The Amrut Fusion Whisky is a single malt which represents the fusion of two different whiskies. It is bottled at 50 % alcohol by volume and is sold in various markets across the world including here in Alberta, Canada.

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

Review: Amrut Fusion Single Malt Whisky

“… As the glass breathed I received strong notes of Demerara sugar and baking spices which brought impressions of dark rum and cola into the whisky aroma. The oak and the peated aromas carried the other scents and smells forward, and melded into them rather than dominated them. The result is a very complex whisky which brought many interesting nuances in the air …”

Accompanying this review is an excellent recipe suggestion, the Rob Roy Cocktail.

Slainte’

Posted in Indian Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , , | Comments Off on Review: Amrut Fusion Single Malt Whisky

Review: Sobieski Vodka

Posted by Arctic Wolf on February 4, 2014

SAM_1001 SobieskiSobieski Vodka is (according to their website) the number 1 selling premium vodka in Poland. It is a true Polish Vodka distilled on a multi-column still from 100% Dankowski rye which was harvested in the low-lying Mazovia (Masowse) region of Poland. The spirit was named ‘Sobieski’ to pay homage to King Jan III Sobieski (1629 – 1696) who is generally regarded as the last great King of Poland whose spirit of indomitable will remains even today as an integral aspect of the Poland’s national character.

When I sampled Sobieski for the first time, I had several friends over, and we tasted the Vodka as part of a private tasting event which included 2 other Vodkas each representing a similar style, but each at a different price range. The aim of the tasting was to see whether we could taste the difference between economy, premium and ultra-premium spirits in a relaxed almost-party like setting. (The three Vodkas included in the tasting were, Khortytsa Platinum Vodka (priced at $17.95), Sobieski Vodka (priced at $25.95), and Belvedere Vodka priced at ($48.95). The prices given are based upon current LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario) listings.)

SAM_1002 Yellow BirdAfter the tasting event, I continued my examination of each spirit putting each brand through the paces of my Vodka Review Methodology. This is of course the review for Sobieski vodka imported into Alberta by the Western Canadian distributor Charton Hobbs who provided my sample bottle for this review.

You may click on the following excerpt to read the full review:

Review: Sobieski Vodka

“… When I threw back a shot of Sobieski, I was very pleased at how clean and smooth the spirit tasted. When served well chilled, the Vodka displayed no burn at all, only a nice spicy glow which heated the palate lightly and slowly crept down the throat …”

I hope you enjoy my review which includes a nice cocktail recommendation, my own Yellowbird of Sunshine, which mixes Sobieski Vodka with lemon juice and Maraschino liqueur (and tastes absolutely delicious).

Pravda!

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If you are interested in a direct comparison the previously published review for Khortytsa Platinum Vodka can be found here.

Posted in Cocktails & Recipes, Vodka, Vodka Reviews | Tagged: , , , , , , | Comments Off on Review: Sobieski Vodka

Review: Especial Extra Dry Rum

Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 24, 2014

Especial_Extra_English_Dry_RGBThe Brugal Distillery was founded in 1888, by Andrés Brugal Montaner. Over the next one hundred and twenty years the company grew steadily, and it is now one of three large rum distillers in the Dominican Republic. The original family which founded Brugal is still in the control. George Arzeno Brugal, is the current chairman, and most of the board members are direct descendants of the original company founder.

Brugal Especial Extra Dry Rum is produced using the company’s proprietary double-distillation technique which apparently creates a clean, dry rum which contains fewer of the heavy alcohols which tend to provide other rums a sweeter flavour profile. The Especial Extra Dry is blended from a mix of rum spirits which have been aged a minimum of 2 years and up to as many as 5 years in White American Oak casks. The rum is triple charcoal filtered, and was developed as a high-end cocktail spirit meant to compete with ultra premium Vodka.

SAM_065zdehumidifyerYou may read my full review by clicking on the excerpt below:

Review: Especial Extra Dry Rum

“… The initial scents above the glass are lightly sweet with indications of cane sugar and lightly toasted marshmallows. As I give the scents and smells time to drift in the breezes above the glass, I notice a touch of vanilla in the air and the light spiciness of lemon peel, sandal wood and cardamom spice …”

At the conclusion of the review, I have added a couple of recipes for your enjoyment, the Minted Daiquiri, and the Brugal Dehumidifier!

Please enjoy the cocktails and my review!

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Note:
You may find my 2013 list of the 10 Best White rums here: The 2013 Rum Howler – Top 10 White Rums
You may find my 2013 list of the 30 Best Rums here:  The Rum Howler 2013 – Top 30 Rums

Posted in Rum, Rum Reviews, White Rums | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Review: Especial Extra Dry Rum

Review: Southern Comfort

Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 22, 2014

sc1Southern Comfort is a spirit which has been part of my liquor cabinet for some years now. I use the liqueur as a cocktail spirit to dress up some of my long tall bar drinks. I received a small bottle as an advent gift about four days before Christmas this year, and I decided it would be fun to put this drink through the paces of my review system.

When I went to the Southern Comfort website to learn a bit about this spirit, I was quite surprised when the web button on the bottom of their product description page linked me to Wikipedia for a more complete description of their spirit. According to that Wikipedia page,  Southern Comfort is “an American liqueur made from neutral spirits with fruit, spice and whiskey flavorings”. It was created in 1874 by an Irish American bartender named Martin Wilkes Heron, and its original name was ‘cuff and buttons’. Today the brand is owned and produced by Brown Forman, and in Canada it is bottled and sold at 35 % alcohol by volume.

You may click on the following excerpt to read my full review:
Alabama Slammer

Review: Southern Comfort

“… The initial aroma from that glass was lightly astringent, but also quite pleasing with a menagerie of herb-like and lightly spicy aromas rising into the air. Vanilla, cinnamon and butterscotch seem to be predominant; but I also catch glimpses of orange and lemon citrus, some red BC cherry stones, a bit of nutmeg, spicy clove …”

My review includes a nice recipe suggestion, the Alabama Slammer, which uses the goodness of Southern Comfort mixed with Sloe Gin, Amaretto and Orange Juice.

Please enjoy my latest review!

Posted in Liqueur, Liqueur Review | Tagged: , , , , | Comments Off on Review: Southern Comfort

Review: Drambuie (Scotch Whisky Liqueur)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 7, 2014

DrambuieI receive all manner of gifts related to my website from friends and family. One such gift received this Christmas was a bottle of Drambuie which I found under the Christmas Tree this past holiday season. The gift was tagged with a request that I review the spirit, and let everyone know my thoughts.

According to the Drambuie Website, the unique flavour of this liqueur is the result of infusing a secret blend of spices (the site mentions heather, honey and herbs) with a blend of grain and aged malt whiskies from Speyside and the Highlands regions of Scotland (some of which may be aged up to fifteen years). The original recipe for the spirit was apparently created for “Bonnie Prince Charlie” in the 18th century by his Royal Apothecary.

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

Review: Drambuie (Scotch Whisky Liqueur)

“… The aroma from the glass is indeed honey sweetened carrying hints of heather and herbs within that sweetness. I also detect a little hot cinnamon in the breezes (perhaps some nutmeg and cloves as well) mixing with mild aromas of orange citrus zest. The combination of herbs and spice brings more than just a hint of menthol to mind …”

For your enjoyment, I have included a recipe for the classic cocktail, The Rusty Nail, at the end of my review.

I hope the New Year is treating everyone very well, Slanite!

Posted in Liqueur, Whisky Liqueur | Tagged: , , , , , | Comments Off on Review: Drambuie (Scotch Whisky Liqueur)

 
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