Cocktails & Girl Scout Cookies?

Girl Scout Cookie PairingsIt’s Girl Scout Cookie season and the little girls, with Mom’s in tow, can be found in front of grocery stores and pharmacies across the Nation.  The ones I met were very pleased to sell me 2 boxes of each variety.  Of course I wasn’t purchasing all of those boxes just to fuel a cookie binge.  I was interested in a more scholarly pursuit:  What cocktail will go with my favorite Girl Scout cookie and which Girl Scout cookie will best pair with my favorite cocktail?

Once home with my boxes, I quickly realized that, with 8 different cookies and hundreds of possible cocktails, this was going to require more than one person’s liver!  So I assembled a tasting panel.  My panel was comprised of foodies and cocktail geeks.

First on the agenda was to taste and rank the cookies.  Not surprising, the Samoa was rated highest with 5 stars.  Tied for second were the Rah-Rah-Rasins and Thin Mints with 4 stars, followed by Savannah Smiles.  The Tagalongs, Do-si-dos and Trefoils rounded out the field.

Barbancourt Old FashionedPairing the cookies with cocktails came next. The cocktails, listed nearby, were served in the order shown.  The panel first rated each cocktail, then tasted the cookies with that drink.  The best parings for that cocktail were then noted.  This meant that each cocktail could pair with multiple cookies and each cookie might go with several cocktails.  When all of the cocktails had been served, the panel then went back and selected the best cocktail for each cookie.

Irish CoffeeThe highest rated cocktail was the Irish Coffee followed closely by the Irish and Tequila Manhattans.  The Bourbon Manhattan and the St. Hubertus’ Fix were also favored.  The remaining cocktails rated fairly equally except, on the other end of the spectrum, let’s just say this was not a big gin crowd!

Prior to the tasting, I spent some time figuring out what cocktails might work with these cookies.  It was immediately evident that fruit, citrus and sour weren’t working.  I included the Ten Four, Cynar Sour and Rakia Ximenez to see if the panel agreed.  While the panel liked these cocktails, they didn’t find much to pair them with.

Tequila Manhattan 2I was a bit surprised by a few of the results.  The Tequila Manhattan was a panel favorite, but paired with very little.  Except, it was the runaway favorite to pair with the Thin Mint.  I expected the Irish Coffee to pair with the Thin Mint, but only one panel member selected that pairing and then not as a favorite.  There were some other surprises, but let’s get on with the pairings.

The Cocktails

  1. Vodka Martini
  2. Gin Martini
  3. Irish Manhattan
  4. Bourbon Manhattan
  5. Old Fashioned Tent Revival
  6. Tequila Manhattan
  7. Barbancourt Old Fashioned
  8. Irish Coffee
  9. Tequila Old Fashioned
  10. Plymouth Old Fashioned
  11. St. Hubertus’ Fix
  12. Ten Four
  13. Rakia Ximenez
  14. Cynar Sour

The Cookies

  • Do-si-dos
  • Tagalongs
  • Rah-rah-raisins
  • Toffee-tastic
  • Thin Mints
  • Trefoils
  • Samoas
  • Savannah Smiles

Open the tabs below to see the results:


Martini

Grandfather McFly 55 SmallI made both the Gin and Vodka Martinis in a mid century style with very little vermouth.  As I noted earlier, none of the panel members are gin drinkers.  They did, however, like the Vodka Martini and thought that it paired well with the buttery Trefoil and sugar dusted, lemon of the Savannah Smiles.

Mid Century Vodka Martini

  • 1 1/2  oz. Premium Vodka such as Cinco
  • Premium Vermouth such as Carpano Dry
  • Garnish of your choice
  1. Chill a martini glass with ice and water
  2. Pour a dash of vermouth into a mixing glass and swirl to coat.  Discard the vermouth
  3. Add the gin to the mixing glass, fill with ice and stir to chill
  4. Strain into chilled martini glass and garnish

Mid Century Gin Martini

To make this, substitute Gin for the Vodka and proceed.  I used Ford’s.  Now, I like gin a lot and regardless of the tasting panel, I thought that the Gin Martini went very well with the Savannah Smiles!


The Manhattan

There were 3 different Manhattans: Irish, Bourbon and Tequila.  All were rated highly by the panel and paired well with several of the cookies.

Irish Manhattan

Irish ManhattanThis version of the classic received 4.5 Stars from the panel.  They chose it has the hands down favorite to pair with both the chocolate peanut butter Tagalong and the Oatmeal raisin Rah-rah-raisin.

While rye and bourbon are the classics in the Manhattan, I don’t see any reason not to try an Irish Whiskey.  Specifically the Tullamore Dew 10 year old Single Malt.  As I’ve noted before, the Tullamore Dew has the earthy, grassy flavors of Irish whiskey with the flavors of fruit, (apricot, pineapple, raisin) and wood.  Just the depth of flavors that blend with vermouth.

  • 1 1/2 oz. Tullamore Dew 10 year old Single Malt Irish Whiskey
  • 3/4 oz. Sweet Italian Vermouth
  • 1 dash Grand Marnier (1/8 tsp)
  • 1 – 2 dashes Angostura Orange Bitters
  • brandied cherries for garnish
  1.  Chill a cocktail glass with ice and water.
  2. Stir to combine all ingredients, sans cherries, in a mixing glass with ice.
  3. Strain into chilled cocktail glass and garnish with the cherries

Bourbon Manhattan

Old No 5The panel paired this classic Manhattan with the Rah-rah-raisin as well but did not think it went as well as the Irish Manhattan.  They did, however, pair the Bourbon Manhattan as best cocktail with the coconut caramel Samoa.

For the bourbon Manhattan, I used Russell’s Reserve 10 Year Old.  This is a bit of a lighter bourbon, but still has the sweet and spicy notes you expect from a quality aged bourbon.  Note that in addition to using a higher ratio of vermouth, the recipe includes more Grand Marnier.

  • 2 oz. Russell’s Reserve 10 Year Old Bourbon
  • 1 1/2 oz. Italian Vermouth (sweet)
  • 1 tsp Grand Marnier
  • 1 – 2 dashes Angostura Orange Bitters
  • brandied cherries for garnish
  1.  Chill a cocktail glass with ice and water.
  2. Stir to combine all ingredients, sans cherries, in a mixing glass with ice.
  3. Strain into chilled cocktail glass and garnish with the cherries

Tequila Manhattan

This cocktail was rated as the favorite match up with the Thin Mint.  As I noted above, I was surprised but have to agree that it pairs very well.

Definitely not a chocolate martini, this is a southwestern makeover of the Manhattan.

  • Tequila Manhattan 22 oz. Milagro Añejo Tequila
  • 1 oz. Lillet Rouge
  • bar spoon (1/8 oz.) of agave nectar
  • dash chocolate bitters
  • Orange zest
  1. Chill a cocktail glass with ice and water
  2. Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass and stir with ice
  3. Strain into chilled glass
  4. Garnish with a wide orange zest


Old Fashioned

I did not include a classic Old Fashioned.   Each of the 3 I did, have some significant variation.  The Old Fashioned Tent Revival has agave syrup and is spicy.  The Tequila Old Fashioned obviously switches the spirit and uses agave and molé bitters.  The Barbancourt Old Fashioned with aged rum was rated as the best pairing for the peanut butter sandwich Do-si-do.

Barbancourt Old Fashioned

Barbancourt Old FashionedThe spice of the habanero shrub and the touch of sweetness of the agave complement the dark complex flavors of the aged rum.

  • 2 ozs. 15 Year Old Barbancourt Rum
  • 1-2 dashes Bitter Truth Habanero Shrub
  • 1/8 oz. Agave Nectar
  1. Chill an old fashioned glass with ice and water
  2. Add all ingredients to a mixing glass and stir with ice
  3. Strain into chilled old fashioned glass over fresh ice


Irish Coffee

This was the unanimous favorite of the evening.  The panel thought it went with everything except the Savannah Smiles.  It tied the Barbancourt Old Fashioned for best with the Do-si-do and the Bourbon Manhattan for paring with the Samoa.

Irish Coffee

I make these with strong coffee, Bushmill’s, very little sweetener and lightly whipped, unsweetened heavy cream.Irish Coffee

  • 1 1/2 oz. Bushmill’s Irish Whisky
  • 1-2 dashes 2:1 simple syrup
  • 4-6 oz. very hot dark coffee (I use Starbucks Sumatra Blend)
  • 2-3 Tbl. Lightly whipped cream
  1. Prepare the coffee
  2. Lightly whip a small amount of heavy whipped cream – about 1/4 cup, until it just peaks
  3. In an Irish Coffee mug or other mug of choice, add the Whisky, simple syrup and coffee.
  4. Stir gently and top with the whipped cream

 


St. Hubertus Fix

This was a bit of a surprise for me.  I wasn’t sure what my panel might think of this cocktail.  I found this drink at Cool Hunting. Its primary flavor is bitter coffee, but the aged rum and the herbal Jägermeister really balance that bitterness and the spice of the Pimento bitters rounds it all out.St Hubertus Fix

The panel paired this cocktail as best with the Toffee-tastic.  They also thought it went well with the Rah-rah-raisin.

St. Hubertus Fix

  • 3/4 oz. Aged Rum – I used Zaya
  • 3/4 oz. Jägermeister
  • 3 oz strong cold coffee – I used 1:1 cold coffee syrup and water
  • 2 dashes of Dale Degroff Pimento Bitters
  1. Chill a cocktail glass with ice and water
  2. Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir to chill
  3. Strain into chilled cocktail glass


Rakia Ximénez

My tasting panel liked this cocktail and gave it 4 Stars.  They did not pair it well with any of the cookies.  In retrospect, it might have fared better if I had served it earlier.  I’m pretty sure everyone’s taste buds were getting saturated.  I think that the dry apricot brandy, the sherry and the touch of heat in this cocktail go well with the Toffee-tastic.  But that’s just me!

This cocktail combines the fruit flavors of Dorcol’s Kinsman Rakia Apricot Brandy with the sweet sherry flavors of Pedro Ximénez.  Then the dried chile notes of the Ancho Reyes weigh in.  Finally, on the finish, the slightest heat from the Habeñaro Shrub can be appreciated.Rakia Ximenez 2

  • 1 1/2 oz. Kinsman Rakia Apricot Brandy
  • 3/4 oz. Pedro Ximénez Sherry
  • 1/4 oz. Ancho Reyes
  • 4 Drops Bittermans Habeñaro Shrub
  • Orange peel for garnish
  1. Chill a cocktail glass with ice and water
  2. Combine all ingredients, except the garnish, in a mixing glass with ice and stir to chill
  3. Strain into chilled cocktail glass
  4. Express the orange peel over the drink and discard the peel


Well, there you have it.  You have a few more days to score some Girl Scout Cookies and try a few pairings for yourself.

Cheers!


 

 




Blood, Smoke and Sand

Blood, Smoke and SandThis cocktail is simply a Blood and Sand with a little smokey twist.  According to an article by Gary Regan on Liquor.com, the Blood and Sand first appeared in Harry Craddock’s The Savoy Cocktail Book and was probably named after the 1922 silent movie.  History aside, the Blood and Sand is an elegantly simple cocktail.  It’s equal parts scotch, Cherry Herring, sweet vermouth and orange juice, shaken and served straight up.  You can change the flavor of this drink a little by switching around different types of vermouth but the key ingredient is scotch.  I prefer a Highland Single Malt or a smooth blend for this cocktail.  The complexities of a Speyside are lost in this drink and an Islay can be over powering, but a touch of smoke is a great addition.  This version of a Blood and Sand gets that smokey twist from a mist of Laphroig as a garnish.  Just fill an inexpensive atomizer, (available here) with Laphroaig and you’re good to go.blood-and-sand poster

  • 3/4 oz. Monkey Shoulder Blended Scotch
  • 3/4 oz. Cherry Herring
  • 3/4 oz. Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth
  • 3/4 oz. Fresh Orange Juice
  • Mist of Laphroaig Single Malt Scotch
  • Orange peel for garnish

Blood, Smoke and Sand Bottles

  1. Chill a cocktail glass with ice and water
  2. Combine first 4 ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake to chill
  3. Double strain in to the chilled cocktail glass
  4. Express the orange peel over the drink and float the peel
  5. Apply 2 or 3 mists of Laphroaig from the atomizer over the drink
  6. Serve immediately

Cheers!


 




Mixology Monday CV Roundup

Mixology Monday

Mixology Monday

The theme for January’s Mixology Monday CV was Brace Yourself: to create a cocktail that will fortify the will against that moment just before you step out into the cold.  Yes, I live in San Antonio where people bundle up because it’s 54 degrees.  However, I grew up in the frozen North, so I know cold.  Besides, we have winter in San Antonio.  It lasts for a week or two, but not all at once.  Usually a half day at a time!

Ok. Enough of that.  The thing I love about Mixology Monday is the creativity.  Keeping up with this crowd is a challenge unto itself!  Every month I am pushed to make a cocktail that not only fits the theme, but is a great drink on it’s own.  This month is no different.  The contributions are, once again awesome!  There are cold and hot drinks, smokey scotch, spice, herbs, tea, coffee and stout.  So here are 14 cocktails sure to warm your cockles, (whatever those are).

Blood and Smoke 1First up, Katie at garnishblog brings us the Blood and Smoke.  Since she is from Boston, where we know it’s not 75 degrees today, we can be pretty sure that Katie knows cold!  She “combined the bright taste of blood orange with the spicy and smoky flavors of rye whiskey and Scotch.”  Rye whiskey, blood orange juice, Angostura and a Scotch rinse: I think I might blow off the cold and sit down to have another!


Clementina CalienteSecond in, Andrea who blogs from Denmark at ginhound, gives us a rif on the Last Word with the Clementina Caliente.  She shakes up Ilegal Joven mezcal with yellow Chartreuse, Ancho Reyes chile liqueur and fresh squeezed clementine juice.  This should help prior to scraping your windshield at -15C!


carpathianhoneyNext, our German Mixologist, Pete Barmeister of Meticulousmixing brings us a recipe for homemade Rosemary Bärenfang, a honey liqueur.  He then combines the clove, vanilla, cinnamon and rosemary flavors of the Bärenfang with hot water and Tatratea, a tea liqueur, to create the Carpathian Honey.   Pete further encourages us to combine the Bärenfang with a German-style Pilsner for a “Lazy Man’s Braggot.”  The Bärenfang I need to try, but I’m not sure it will be enough to make me want to hunt bears in winter!


Coffee Milk PunchStacy Markow, our Dallas sommelier, brings us Coffee Milk Punch.  She combines a cold brew coffee simple syrup with Rye whiskey, whole milk and pecan bitters.  This should make Dallas’ next ice storm a little more tolerable!


Winter CapNext, Craig joins in with the Winter Cap.*  For this cocktail, Craig warms up Bonal with 151 proof rum then rounds it out with Calvados and the herbal Becherovka.  I’m always fond of amari and quin quina drinks, and this one sounds fascinating with the addition of the apple flavors of cider and Calvados.

*Depending on your browser, you may need to scroll up or down to find the post.  Just look for the Mixology Monday logo!


hottigermilk1440Frederic Yarm of Cocktail Virgin Slut,  Mixology Monday’s fearless leader and world famous cat herder, weighs in with Hot Tiger’s Milk.  Since he too hails from Boston, a certain level of experience with the bitter cold can be assumed!  His approach is to distract yourself and bring Don the Beachcomber to the rescue.  This 1937 hot Tiki drink combines the flavors of rum, coconut, cloves and butter.  As Frederic says, “The Hot Tiger’s Milk greeted the nose with a butter and honey-floral aroma. The rum’s caramel danced with the honey on the sip, and the swallow roared with rum, orange, and clove notes. The flavors, especially the orange and clove, built over time as they steeped into the Toddy.”  Just might cause one to forget where they are and try stepping out in surf shorts and sandals!


Hoar Frost's FallJoel DiPippa,of Southernnash, Mixology Monday’s resident Arkansas gentleman and scholar, brings us an Irish Coffee run a muck with his Hoar Frost’s Fall.  The fact that Joel can pull 100 proof bourbon, allspice dram and Becherovka out of his cabinet in the middle of a snow storm speaks to his mixologist bonafides.  Then, in true scholarly fashion, he creates the recipe while pondering shoveling the snow!  This hot coffee cocktail will definitely make snow shoveling a little less painful.


restaurateur-no-2-1-of-22The Le Restaurateur No. 2, brought to us by Ian of Tempered Spirits, is another cocktail with 151 proof demerara rum and Calvados, but this time with yellow Chartreuse and the spices of Angostura and 18-21 Black Currant-Cocoa Bitters.  This cocktail has the flavors of baked apple pie with a little funky rum notes thrown in.  I agree with Ian that the 18-21 Black Currant-Cocoa Bitters can be hard to find, but they are worth the search!


CorbieBoozenerds, Seattleites Shaun and Christa, bring us the Corbie.  This is an oatmeal stout based cocktail with the spice of rye whiskey, the complexity of amaro and the sweetness of maple syrup.  I’m not sure if the name “Corbie” is supposed to evoke thoughts of Northern France or of ravens but the cocktail sounds delicious and is now on my things to make list!


Sazarac Hot ChocolateI have always enjoyed Sazaracs, but a Sazerac Hot Chocolate?  Brilliant!  Dagreb at Nil Utopia creates an amazing cocktail by substituting a Sazarac for the milk in a hot chocolate and makes an absinthe whipped cream for the top!  Gunner, our Chesapeake Bay Retriever, will appreciate me having one of these, since I’ll probably decide to stay inside and have another thus enabling him to lie by my chair in front of the fire.  Which is where he’d rather be!


QuentãoThiago Ceccotti, our Brazilian mixologist who writes at Bartending Notes,  gives us a recipe for Quentão.  “Quentão (literally means:Very Hot) is a cachaça based Hot Toddy-style beverage which also resembles a cachaça based Mulled Wine.”  Made with ginger tea, cachaça, vermouth, vanilla liquor, lime juice and Angostura, it sounds like there is a good reason it is popular in Brazil!


32 DegreesAdam, aka Mr Muddle, joins Mixology Monday for the first time with his 32 Degrees.  Another Bostonian, he seems to be well schooled. not only on cold weather, but in cocktails, (check out his blog).  As Adam points out, this drink is a Scaffa, which is not technically a cocktail, but a mixture of alcoholic components, mixed in a glass and served unchilled, without ice.  The 32 Degrees, made with Dark Rum, Amaro Montenegro, Aquavit and an Absinthe rinse will decidedly “steel the will!”


sjorok-3Next in was Robin of the Kitchen Shamanism Blog.  Don’t believe Robin when he says he mixes cocktails with “low knowledge!”  He presents us this month with another interesting drink, the Sjörök.  Smokey Islay Scotch, sweet Cherry Heering, dark muscovado sugar syrup, Fee Brothers Black Walnut Bitters and hot Lapsang Souchong tea.  I may not be able to pronounce “Sjörök,” but this smokey cocktail looks like it will keep you warm and smiling!


Brace Yourself MxMo CVWell, there are 13 cocktails that should help get you through the winter.  Lastly, our contribution this month is two shots: Into the Wind and Frost Buster.  Both are made with barrel aged Fireball Whiskey!  Why, you might ask, would we do that to a barrel?  Well, click here to read and find out!

 


Mulled WinePS:  Marius Iordache who blogs at Arcane Potions and attends the Citadel, comes in with a late contribution: a delicious looking Mulled Wine.  That should keep you warm on a 0600 march, but then again, I’m pretty certain that drinking is worth at least 150 demerits!


We really have enjoyed hosting this month’s Mixology Monday.  Thanks, as always, to Frederik for keeping this most excellent online cocktail party on track and for allowing us to host.

So, until next month,

Cheers!


 




Christmas Libations circa 2015

We offered a number of libations this Christmas Season.  A few were favorite cocktails that we rechristened with seasonal names, we added some new ones that we found, and we created a couple of original recipes.  Some can be made Zero Proof so everyone can be in on the fun!

Berry Delicious

I got this idea from Porter’s Fire, which is a Canadian Whiskey with “cinnamon and hints of vanilla.”  I haven’t been able to find Porter’s Fire so I used Fireball.  The combination of cinnamon spice and the nutty Amaretto is awesome.Christmas Shots

  • 3/4 oz. Fireball Whiskey
  • 3/4 oz. Amaretto
  1.  Combine in a shot glass and serve

Blazing Prancer

If Amaretto works, why not Jägermeister?  Especially if the Fireball has been barrel aged.  I aged the Fireball in a small jar with a barrel stave for 2 weeks.  A little clove and vanilla to go with the cinnamon blends with the herbs in the Jägermeister.

  • 3/4 oz. Barrel Aged Fireball Whiskey
  • 3/4 oz. Jägermeister
  1.  Combine in a shot glass and serve

Three Wise Men

Three Wise Men 2Gold, frankincense and myrrh. Too many of these and you’ll act like Larry, Moe and Curly!

  • 1 1/2 oz. Ford’s Gin
  • 3/4 oz. Carpano Bianco Vermouth
  • 1/4 oz. St. Germaine Elderflower Liqueur
  • Edible Gold Stars (available here) for garnish
  1. Chill a cocktail glass with ice and water
  2. Combine gin, vermouth and St. Germaine in a mixing glass with ice and stir to chill
  3. Strain into chilled cocktail glass
  4. Gently float a few gold stars on the surface and serve

Elf Magic

Christmas Cream Green 2Better than dessert—Chocolate mint cream.  (Yes, it’s a Grasshopper)

  • 1 oz. Crème de Menthe
  • 1 oz. Crème de Cacao
  • 2 oz. Heavy Cream
  1. Chill a cocktail glass with ice and water
  2. Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake to chill
  3. Strain into chilled cocktail glass

Christmas CosmoFrosty Night

A Holiday version of a Cosmopolitan. This cocktail is pretty and sophisticated.

  • 1 ½ oz. vodka
  • 1 oz. White grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 oz. Cointreau
  • 1/2  oz. Simple Syrup
  • 4-6 fresh cranberries for garnish
  1. Chill a cocktail glass with ice and water
  2. Combine all ingredients, except garnish, in a shaker with ice and shake to chill
  3. Strain into chilled cocktail glass
  4. Either float the cranberries on the drink or skewer them on a pick.
  5. Serve

Rudolph Bubbly

Christmas RedEven Champagne can use a little dressing up!  This is from Chris Tunstall at abarabove.  I am re-posting it here because making a syrup from jellied cranberry sauce is a great idea, (for other awesome ideas, you should check out their site).

  • 2 oz. Cranberry Syrup – see below
  • 4 – 6 oz. Champagne (or Sparkling Cider)
  1. Chill a cocktail glass champagne flute with ice and water
  2. Add Cranberry syrup to glass and top with Champagne or cider

Cranberry Syrup

The syrup is extremely easy.  It will take about 15 minutes, including time to cool.  You will need:

  • 1 – 14 oz can jellied cranberry sauce
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup water
  1. In a quart sized microwavable container, melt the cranberry sauce on high in 30 second intervals, stirring in between.
  2. Meanwhile, using a small sauce pan on the stove, dissolve the sugar in the water.
  3. When the the sugar is dissolved, add the melted cranberry sauce and stir to combine.
  4. Allow to cool.  This will keep refrigerated in a sealed glass bottle for at least a week.

Santa Sparkle

Christmas GreenMint with a little sparkle!  Can be Zero Proof.

  • 2 oz. Crème de Menthe or Crème de Menthe syrup
  • 4-6 oz. Champagne or Sparkling Grape Juice
  • Chill a cocktail glass champagne flute with ice and water
  • Add Crème de Menthe to glass and top with Champagne or Grape Juice

 Holly Leaf

Creamy mint richness.Christmas Cream Green

  • 1 oz. Crème de Menthe or Crème de Menthe syrup
  • 2 oz. Heavy Cream
  1. Chill a cocktail glass with ice and water
  2. Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake to chill
  3. Strain into chilled cocktail glass

Cheers!


 

 

 




Grandfather McFly 55

Grandfather McFly 55I’m sure most of you know that this past October 21, 2015 was “Back to the Future Day.”  That was the date that Marty McFly traveled to the future in the second movie.  (and the Cubs won the World Series!)  Well, in the first movie, Marty traveled to the past – specifically November 5, 1955.  So, to mark this auspicious date, I would like to share my version of a Mid Century Martini.  You know, the type where you say the word, “vermouth!” **  Since Marty’s father was in High School at the time and was too young to drink, I’m assuming his father, Marty’s Grandfather, would be the one to enjoy a 1950’s Martini.  Thus the name “Grandfather McFly 55.”

This cocktail calls for a whisper of dry vermouth and a London style Gin.  I have chosen Bombay Sapphire.  Ford’s, Beefeater or your favorite will all work just fine!  Any dry vermouth will also do as well.  To make it truly authentic, you can open the vermouth, re-close it and let it sit at room temperature for a few months, (just kidding – sort of!).  So, here’s to Space-Time Continuum’s, Flux Capacitors and really cool Deloreans!

Grandfather McFly 55 BottlesGrandfather McFly 55

  • 1 1/2 oz. London dry Gin
  • Dry vermouth
  • Olive for garnish
  1. Chill a cocktail glass with ice and water
  2. Pour a little vermouth into a mixing glass and swirl to coat.  Empty the mixing glass into the sink.
  3. Add the Gin to the mixing glass with ice and stir to chill
  4. Strain into the chilled cocktail glass and garnish with the olive.

** During WWII, the World’s supply of vermouth was held hostage by the Axis Powers.  Tradition has it that Winston Churchill would raise his Martini, sans vermouth, toward France and say “Vermouth.”  It wasn’t because he didn’t like vermouth, it wasn’t available!

Cheers!


 




Carpano Squared

Carpano Squared BottlesThis, in retrospect, is a play on the Perfect Martini.  One that combines both dry and sweet vermouth.  I came up with this idea after the vermouth seminar at Tales with Jared Brown.  He had us combining various types of vermouth and discussing how to make them.  After combining Carpano Dry and Carpano Bianco, I was hooked.  These two styles of  vermouth have become my go-to for anything calling for ‘dry.’  At first the Carpano Bianco seems slightly sweeter than the usual premium dry vermouth.  I attribute this to the rich wine flavor that comes through along with citrus and a little tropical fruit.  The Carpano Dry is a bit surprising.   The nose is wine, lemon, candied fruit and spices, but the taste is bone dry.  Alone, or in combination, these fortified wines are amazing.

I like my martini’s 2 1/2:1 or 3:1 Gin to Vermouth.  Obviously you should use your favorite ratio.  However you make them, try combining the Carpano Dry and Bianco 50/50 for the vermouth.  I have tried this with Ford’s, Plymouth, 209, Aviation, Hendrick’s and Botanivoire.  I like them all!

When it comes to the garnish, I think that citrus and olives, individually or together, drastically alter this martini.  I prefer one or two fresh herbs floating on the surface.

The Carpano Squared

Carpano Squared

  • 1 1/2 oz. Gin – You’re favorite premium brand
  • 1/4 oz. Carpano Dry Vermouth
  • 1/4 oz. Carpano Bianco Vermouth
  • Fresh herbs such as thyme and/or sage
  1. Chill a cocktail glass with ice and water
  2. Combine the gin and vermouth’s in a mixing glass with ice and stir to chill
  3. Strain into chilled cocktail glass
  4. Spank the fresh herbs and float them on the cocktail

Cheers!


 

 




A Tonic Bar for Your Next Party

TonicBar HeaderAs busy host/hostess, anytime you can offer a fun, engaging, self-serve cocktail bar, expect your guests to rave about your entertaining prowess!  A tonic bar is a simple way to allow your guests open access to create their own drinks while you get to enjoy your party too.  Its versatility works great for casual outdoor gatherings and equally well for holiday festivities.

GinTonic 1Before we address the blue print for a great libation station, let’s look at the recent transformation of the venerable Gin and Tonic.  About ten years ago, the “Gin Tonic” became the rage in Spain.  Bars developed their own, proprietary Tonic Waters with which they prepared beautiful cocktails in over-sized, stemmed wine glasses, filled with colorful fresh citrus and herbs.  Drinking establishments take pride in featuring their version of the “Gin Tonic.”

The most important ingredient in gin, and the one necessarily present in all gins, is juniper. Beyond that, it’s the Wild West, because there is no minimum amount of juniper required for a spirit to be labeled ‘gin.’  A single juniper berry in a vat of spirit qualifies as ‘gin.’

Fords GinI had an opportunity to discuss Gin and Tonics with Jason Kosmas, Co-founder of The 86 Company, (Fords Gin among others), Co-founder of Employees Only and Co-author of Speak Easy. According to Jason, just about any premium brand of gin can be used for Gin and Tonics.  Jason prefers that juniper be an actual flavor present in gin, followed by citrus and various herbs.  When determining what will go best with any particular gin, Jason encourages us to “read the back label” and see what is in the gin.  With Fords Gin, he suggests creating a cocktail with the addition of grapefruit, coriander, lemon, and jasmine.

qtonic Fever TreeWhen it comes to tonic water, there are several good premium brands readily available.  Jason mentioned Fever Tree, East Imperial and Q Tonic.  He looks for natural ingredients and sugars.  The flavor should be quinine first and dry rather than sweet.

For garnishes, Jason looks to rosemary for “woodsy,” and he likes grapefruit, dries spices, star anise, aromatic berries such as strawberry, cucumber and/or fresh lavender.  For sweeteners, he recommends agave, dried flowers and even herbal tea blends.

Of course, as Jason says: “It can’t be a Gin Tonic without the big, stemmed wine glass!”

The Tonic Bar

To engage your guests with making their own Gin Tonics, set your Tonic Bar up in an easily accessible area where multiple people can be actively concocting.  Your actual tonic bar can be as minimalist or as expansive as you like.  You can offer only a single gin, vodka or rum, or multiple choices of each.  We include little tasting cups so that our guests can sample the spirits before selecting one.  (The plastic tasting cups were one lifetime supply purchase from Costco – approximately a thousand for $10!)

TonicBar Syrups

Fever Tree, Tonic Syrups for Rum and for Gin

Now for the tonic water.  We like to offer at least one house made tonic syrup.  A small amount of tonic syrup is added to carbonated water in the drink to make tonic water, (our recipes are here).  These syrups are designed for a specific spirit and make wonderful cocktails.  However, we have found that while our guests like it when we make one these for them, when left on their own, they will usually opt for bottled tonic water.   We continue to offer the tonic syrup, but we always include one premium brand of tonic water – usually Fever Tree.  We also use the small bottles so that there is no measuring required.

However many choices of spirit you offer, don’t skimp on the garnishes.  Arrange bunches of fresh herbs in single old fashioned glasses, with small bowls of sliced citrus and berries.  If some of your herbs are less than attractive, pinch off the leaves and present them in small bowels as well.  Release your imagination with the variety of flavors, colors and textures of garnishes and the containers in which you offer them.  The more inviting the presentation, the more your guests will be encouraged to experiment and enjoy their mixology talents. Here are some suggestions:

TonicBar Garnishes 1

  • Lemon & Lime Wheels
  • Lemon & Lime Peels
  • Grapefruit Peels
  • Sliced Berries
  • Cucumber Slices

  • Fresh Lavender
  • Fresh Rosemary
  • Fresh Thyme/Lemon Thyme
  • Fresh Sage
  • Kaffir Lime Leaves
  • Lemon Grass
  • Fresh Cilantro
  • Fresh Pineapple
  • Coriander
  • Fresh Hibiscus Flowers

 

TonicBar 2

Set up your Tonic Bar where it is easily accessible

TonicBar Recipe

Little recipe placards make it easy for your guests

As noted above, set your Tonic Bar up in an easily accessible location.  We use a round table.  Set out your bottles of spirits, a few bottles of tonic water along with a bottle opener, and garnishes.  You might want to set your glassware and ice bucket on a separate counter.  This will minimize the chance that they get knocked over while someone is reaching for ingredients.  We always include a written recipe with suggestions of garnishes for each spirit.  This will eliminate any anxiety your guests may have over not knowing what to make.  You want to keep it simple and fun.

TonicBar GnT

A knife and cutting board allows guests to prepare their own garnishes

To get things started, make up a Gin Tonic so everyone can see how it’s done.  Those guests can then show any late comers when they arrive.  You will then only need to refresh any garnishes, tonic water bottles and ice.

 

Recipe for Gin, Rum or Vodka Tonics

  • 2 oz Spirit – either Gin, Rum or Vodka
  • 6 oz. Tonic Water (1 1/2 oz Tonic Syrup and 4 1/2 oz. Carbonated Water)
  • Optional dash of simple syrup for gin or vodka/demerara simple syrup for rum
  • Garnish – see below

 Instructions:

  1. Add ice cubes to a large, stemmed wine glass
  2. Add garnishes except for any citrus peels for expressing
  3. Add your Spirit of choice
  4. Slowly add the Tonic Water (or Tonic Syrup followed by the carbonated water).
  5. Express any citrus peels and serve

Suggested Garnishes:

Gin or Vodka

  • Lemon & Lime Wheels
  • Lemon & Lime Peels
  • Grapefruit Peels
  • Sliced Berries
  • Cucumber Slices
  • Fresh Lavender
  • Fresh Rosemary
  • Fresh Sage
  • Kaffir Lime Leaves
  • Lemon Grass

Rum

  • Lemon & Lime Wheels
  • Lemon & Lime Peels
  • Sliced Berries
  • Kaffir Lime Leaves
  • Fresh Cilantro
  • Fresh Pineapple
  • Coriander
  • Fresh Hibiscus Flowers
  • Lemon Grass

 

Rum and Tonic

Rum Tonic with House Made Tonic Syrup

We have found that our guests enjoy the opportunity to experiment with the Tonic Bar.  By offering multiple choices of gin, vodka and rum along with a myriad of garnishes, you enable your guests to explore a range of Gin Tonics.  Our guests tend to lower the amount of spirit in each drink thus allowing themselves to try multiple variations.  If some of your guests may be a little more stayed or if you just wish to expand the offerings, set out a few old fashioned glasses so someone can make a standard Gin or Vodka and Tonic.  Throw in a bottle of vermouth and martini glasses and your guests can head down that road.  As always, we offer self serve wine and beer along with non-alcohol options.

Cheers!


 

 

 




Tonic Syrup: for Gin, Vodka or Rum and Tonics

This is the first in our series on syrups. The simplest syrup to make is, of course, simple syrup. However, this is not where we are going to start. While tonic syrup is more complicated, it is not difficult. Tonic syrup is easily customized and is highly adaptable to cocktails other than gin and tonics. So, we are going to discuss two different aromatic syrups that you can mix with a tincture of quinine. These “Tonic Syrups” can then be combined with carbonated water to make tonic water, or used directly in cocktails.

Tonic Syrup and TinctureI had an opportunity to discuss Gin and Tonics with Jason Kosmas, Co-founder of The 86 Company, (Ford’s Gin among others), Co-founder of Employees Only and Co-author of Speak Easy. His take on tonic syrups is to include citrus, coriander and herbs – even herbal tea. Keep in mind that the base spirit you choose will lend itself to various flavors. As Jason pointed out – read the back label for flavor ideas. For syrup used in Rum and Tonics, he would add lime, pineapple, cinnamon and vanilla. (The rest of the interview centered on Gin Tonics and will be included in a future post)

Fever TreeqtonicThese days, you are not limited to buying tonic water in 1 liter bottles. There are a number of premium tonic waters available such as Fever Tree and Q Tonic. The primary idea of making your own tonic syrup is to customize it for various drinks. These recipes will take about 15 minutes of active and 45 minutes of inactive time.

Tonic water is primarily carbonated water and quinine. Quinine is most famous for treating the symptoms of malaria. The idea of mixing gin and quinine dates to the British in various malaria prone climes where soldiers used gin to make the bitter quinine more palatable. In those days, quinine was extracted from cinchona bark in a process not unlike making tea. Since World War II, quinine has been manufactured as a white powder formed into pills. You can purchase quinine pills over the internet and dissolve them to use in tonic water. This is a bad idea. First, you can poison yourself and guests with too much quinine. Secondly, an extract of cinchona, which you will make in 30 minutes or less, brings a lot of flavor to your cocktail. If you want quinine water, buy commercial tonic water, it’s cheap.

Making tonic water at home became a widespread fashion in the early 2000’s. An internet search for ‘DIY tonic water’ will result in a number of recipes. Jeffrey Morgenthaler posted a recipe in 2008, (found here), which became one of the most popular. Since then, he has published a newer version in his book, The Bar Book: Elements of Cocktail Technique. I like his new version, which can be found on line here, because he separates the aromatics from the quinine. This lends itself to easy modification. My recipe for tonic syrup for use with gin differs only slightly from his.

The only equipment you will need that is slightly out of the ordinary is a digital food or postage scale. Only the precise weight of ingredients ensures that your syrup will be consistent from one batch to the next.

For the Quinine Tincture:

Quinine Tincture

  • 6 gr. Powdered red cinchona bark
  • 150 ml 100 proof vodka
  1. In a 1 cup measuring cup, dissolve the cinchona in the vodka
  2. Allow to sit 10 – 15 minutes, stirring occasionally
  3. Strain the liquid into a second measuring cup. This will take up to 30 minutes total time. Filter the tincture back and forth between the 2 measuring cups in the following order:
    1. First through a fine mesh strainer
    2. Second through a metal “Gold” coffee filter – preferably cone shaped
    3. Thirdly through a paper coffee filter
  4. Pour into a small bottle and store at room temperature. The tincture will keep indefinitely.

For the aromatic syrup for gin or vodka and tonics:

 

Tonic Syrup Aromatics

  • 20 gr. citric acid
  • 10 gr. whole gentian root
  • 1 gr. coriander
  • 1 gr. Ceylon soft-stick cinnamon, broken into small pieces
  • 30 gr. lemon peel
  • 30 gr. grapefruit peel
  • 400 gr. sugar
  • 500 ml. water
  • 2 – 3 to 4 inch sprigs of fresh lavender (optional)

Tonic Syrup Prep

  1. Combine all of the ingredients, except the lavender, in a sauce pan and bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes
  3. Remove from the heat, add the fresh lavender and allow to cool.
  4. Strain through a fine mesh strainer.
  5. Add 1 ½ oz. Quinine Tincture and store, refrigerated, in a seal-able bottle or jar. It will keep 3-4 weeks before it turns cloudy.

 

 

For the aromatic syrup for rum and tonics:

 

Tonic Syrup Rum Aromatics

  • 20 gr. citric acid
  • 10 gr. whole gentian root
  • 1 gr. Star Anise
  • 2 gr. Ceylon soft-stick cinnamon, broken into small pieces
  • 3 Kaffir Lime leaves (Optional – available at Asian Markets)
  • 10 gr. lemon peel
  • 50 gr. Lime peel
  • 400 gr. Turbinado sugar
  • 500 ml. water

 

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a sauce pan and bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes
  3. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
  4. Strain through a fine mesh strainer.
  5. Add 1 ½ oz. Quinine Tincture and store, refrigerated, in a seal-able bottle or jar. It will keep 3-4 weeks before it turns cloudy.

 

To make tonic water add 1 part Quinine Syrup to 3 parts carbonated water.

The resulting tonic water will be brown.  It is not unattractive and tastes amazing!!

Gin, Rum or Vodka Tonics

  • 2 oz Spirit – either Gin, Rum or Vodka
  • 6 oz. Tonic Water (1 1/2 oz Quinine Syrup and 4 1/2 oz. Carbonated Water)
  • Optional dash of simple syrup for gin or vodka/demerara simple syrup for rum
  • Garnish – see below

Rum and Tonic

Rum & Tonic

Method #1

  1. Add large ice cubes to a large, stemmed wine glass
  2. Add garnishes except for any citrus peels for expressing
  3. Add your Spirit of choice
  4. Slowly add the Quinine Syrup followed by the carbonated water.
  5. Express any citrus peels and serve

Method #2

  1. Fill your large wine glass with large ice and garnish
  2. Add the remaining ingredients to a mixing glass with ice and stir
  3. Strain into your prepared glass
  4. Express any citrus peels and serve

Suggested Garnishes:

You should let your imagination run with the garnishes.

Gin or Vodka

  • Lemon & Lime Wheels
  • Lemon & Lime Peels
  • Grapefruit Peels
  • Sliced Berries
  • Cucumber Slices
  • Fresh Lavendar
  • Fresh Rosemary
  • Fresh Sage
  • Kaffir Lime Leaves
  • Lemon Grass

Rum

  • Lemon & Lime Wheels
  • Lemon & Lime Peels
  • Sliced Berries
  • Kaffir Lime Leaves
  • Fresh Cilantro
  • Fresh Pineapple
  • Corriander
  • Fresh Hibiscus Flowers
  • Lemon Grass

Tonic Garnishes

G-n-TiniGnTini

Here is a cocktail that uses Tonic Syrup directly in the drink.

Fords Gin

  • 1 1/2 oz. Fords Gin
  • 1/2 oz. Dolin Sweet Vermouth
  • 1/2 oz. Tonic Syrup for Gin
  • Grapefruit peel for garnish
  1. Stir the first three ingredients in a mixing glass with ice to chill
  2. Strain into a chilled coup
  3. Express the grapefruit peel over the drink and float the peel

Cheers!


 




Green Brier Grin

Green Brier GrinI met the Nelson brothers, of Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery, at this year’s San Antonio Cocktail Conference and visited with them again at TOTC.  Their Belle Meade Bourbon is one of my favorites and with it I have created a number of cocktails.  I first tasted their Nelson’s Green Brier Tennessee White Whiskey* at the San Antonio Cocktail Conference.  It is single distilled from a mash of corn, barley and wheat which gives it some subtle, but distinct differences from other premium white whiskeys.  First, I think Nelson’s Green Brier is slightly sweeter and has a malty/chocolate note.  Still present is the ‘bite’ you would expect from white whiskey.  Previously, I was not a fan of white whiskey, but liking theirs, I have set out to design some cocktails using Nelson’s Green Brier Tennessee White Whiskey.

I may have just had chocolate on the brain, or maybe it was molé, but the chocolate note I mentioned made me think of chilies and thus Ancho Reyes liqueur.  Add in Carpano Antica Vermouth and now it becomes something rich and complex.  Being determined to gild the lily, I wanted to push the herbal flavors of the vermouth.  So, I got esoteric and added Bigallet’s China-China Amer.  The Carpano has wonderful essences of dried fruits and bitter marmalade along with a little cocoa and red wine.  All of which are enhanced by the China-China’s orange peels and bittering herbs bringing a little truffle like earthiness to the party.  This combination complements rather than overwhelms or conceals the unique flavors of this white whiskey.  Here’s the recipe that makes me smile!

Green Brier GrinGreen Brier Bottles

  • 1 1/2 oz. Nelson’s Green Brier Tennessee White Whiskey
  • 3/4 oz. Carpano Antica
  • 1/2 oz. Ancho Reyes
  • 1/2 oz. Bigallet’s China-China Amer
  1. Chill a cocktail glass with ice and water
  2. Add all ingredients, except the garnish, to a mixing glass with ice.  Stir to chill.
  3. Strain into chilled cocktail glass

Cheers!

* Doc Elliott’s Mixology receives no compensation for brands mentioned.




The Wellington

The Wellington

The Wellington

Treaty Oak Distilling is aging their gin in whiskey barrels to create their Waterloo Antique Gin.  This is truly a unique gin.  It has the sweet caramel nose that you would expect from the barrel aging but with the addition of the herbaceous input of gin.  The flavors are citrus, spice and herbs with a finish of charred oak that is long and smooth.   We combined this with Italian vermouth and Amaro.

 

  • 1 1/2 oz. Waterloo Antique GinWellington
  • 1/2 oz. Carpano Antica Vermouth
  • 1/4 oz. Averna Amaro
  • Lemon peel for garnish
  1. Stir the first three ingredients in a mixing glass with ice to chill
  2. Strain into a chilled coup
  3. Express the lemon peel over the drink and float the peel

Cheers!