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Archive for the ‘Wrap Up’ Category

Income Tax Cocktail

Posted by Reese On April - 15 - 2012

Tomorrow, in the US, is tax day.  That means millions of Americans will be turning in their income taxes and, I’m betting if you’ve waited this long, not enjoying the day.  Fear not, cocktails and the Cocktail Hacker have your back.  So, finish your calculations, dump the whole mess in an envelope, stamp it, lick it closed and throw the damn thing in the mail box.  Now is the time for a cocktail if there’s ever been one.  So, how about this, the Income Tax Cocktail.  Not only is it name appropriate, it’s damn good and will settle your rattled nerves.

Income Tax Cocktail

I sampled two recipes to give you a head start.  Okay, that’s a lie.  I sampled two recipes because this drink is damn good and I missed my old ways.  So, here’s a head start, even if that wasn’t the reason behind it.

Income Tax Cocktail (Vintage Cocktails and Forgotten Spirits)
1 1/2 oz Gin
3/4 oz Sweet Vermouth
3/4 oz Dry Vermouth
3/4 oz Orange Juice
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
1) Combine ingredients in shaker with ice
2) Shake until well chilled
3) Strain into a glass

This recipe is a classic. I found the same in the Savoy Cocktail Book and the recipe itself kinda cracked me up. Rather than reading 3/4 oz of Orange Juice the real recipe reads “the juice of 1/4 orange”. Wanting to make this more repeatable and comparable I opted for an exact measure.  This drink is drier than you’d expect it would be.  The vermouth is the star, despite having chosen a seriously bold gin.  Very tasty, but I wanted something where gin was the star.

Income Tax Cocktail (Joy of Mixology)
2 oz Gin
1/4 oz Sweet Vermouth
1/4 oz Dry Vermouth
1 oz Orange Juice
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
1) Combine ingredients in shaker with ice
2) Shake until well chilled
3) Strain into a glass

Very similar on the surface, but the flavor is definitely different.  Here the gin is the star.  Make sure you go bold.  The cocktail is still dry, but that dryness makes the drink very refreshing and crisp.  There is a complexity to this drink that is very telling of classic recipes.  This is my choice of the two recipes.

Income taxes are never pleasant, even when you get money back.  But, I dare say, this drink will make the day better.  Enjoy!

Champs Elysées – Yeah…No

Posted by Reese On May - 24 - 2011

I started this week eager for a unique and interesting cocktail.  Something that was a step away from what I’ve been mixing for a while.  While I got unique and I got interesting I, sadly, did not get tasty.  The Champs Elysées is a riff on the classic sour and seems like it should be good.  And after some tweaking, and a lot of dumping out, I got it to sorta good, but certainly not something I’d ever order.  Let’s take a quick run down of the recipes and talk about the short comings of each.  A quick note before I get rolling, if I say Chartreuse it’s meant to imply green Chartreuse, yellow will be noted specially.

Champs ElyseePhoto Credit – Elisabeth Mansfield

Essential Bartender’s Guide (1 oz Brandy, 1/4 oz Chartreuse, 1 oz Lemon Juice, 1 Dash Angostura) – Holy crap this cocktail is ungood.  It’s very sour and nearly undrinkable.  I added 1/4 oz of simple in an attempt to tame the sourness and that helped, but not enough.

Erik Ellestad of Underhill-Lounge chimed in on my intro post that the original Savoy recipe (next in line) was difficult to convert to a single cocktail but suggested that he uses his standard sour recipe.  I took his advice and tried this in sour ratios (2 oz Brandy, 1 oz Lemon Juice, 1/2 oz Chartreuse, 1/2 oz Simple Syrup, 2 Dashes Angostura).  This is certainly better than the first recipe though now I was feeling the need for more sour.  I added 1/4 oz more lemon juice and found a drink that was palatable but still really lacking for me.

Savoy (1  oz Brandy, 1/3 oz Chartreuse, 1/2 oz Sweetened Lemon Juice, 1 Dash Angostura) – This recipe is the classic.  Problem is, it was originally formulated for 6 and who the hell knows what sweetened lemon juice is supposed to be.  So, I winged it.  I used 1/2 oz of lemon juice and 1 tsp of superfine sugar.  The drink was not terrible, but still far from good.  Strongly herbal with a good sweetness level.  I’d drink this one (which is a step in the right direction) but it definitely isn’t something I’d ever order.

Bartender’s Bible (2 oz Brandy, 1/2 oz Yellow Chartreuse, 1/2 oz Lemon Juice, 1/2 tsp Superfine Sugar, 2 Dashes “Bitters”) – I had help from Elisabeth in tasting these and I think she summed this one up very nicely, “It smells really good, almost like an apple.  Tastes like pond scum.”  Okay, I wouldn’t go so far as to say pond scum myself, but this is still not what I’d call a great cocktail.

Difford’s #8 (1 3/4 oz Brandy, 1/4 oz Chartreuse, 1/2 oz Lemon Juice, 1/2 oz Simple Syrup, 3 Dashes Angostura, Egg White [Optional]) –  The Chartreuse being only 1/4 oz in this recipe is what saves it.  The herbal flavors are reduced allowing the brandy and lemon to shine.  Could still use a bit more lemon in my opinion, but this is getting close.

Okay, I’m seriously tired of this cocktail at this point and really hold no hopes that I’m going to be able to turn this into a winner, but I will offer you my recipe.  I followed Erik’s guidance and made it along the lines of a sour.  You’ll note it’s a lot like the Difford’s recipe, that’s no accident.  I bumped up the sour and added a bit more brandy to compensate, but left the Chartreuse subtle.  If you’re dying to make this cocktail, give this recipe a try.  I won’t make any promises that it will be delicious or that you’ll like it.  But, it will, at least, be palatable.

Champs Elysées (Cocktail Hacker)
2 oz Brandy
1 oz Lemon Juice
1/4 oz Green Chartreuse
1/2 oz Simple Syrup
2 Dashes Angostura Bitters
1) Combine in a shaker with ice
2) Shake and strain into chilled cocktail glass

On that note, I’m moving on to something far tastier.  Care to join me?

Lucien Gaudin Cocktail – Expectedly Pleasing

Posted by Reese On May - 11 - 2011

I can’t say that the Lucien Gaudin Cocktail really took me by surprise.  Its recipe shares striking similarities with a Negroni and the flavor follows suit.  All the books I checked had the same recipe and my fellow bloggers have all stuck with the same.  So, not a lot to go on there.  And, quite honestly, the recipe doesn’t need changing.  It’s very good just the way it is.  The Campari and Cointreau combine to give you a solid punch of orange flavors while the vermouth and gin bring an herbal base layer.  Finally you get hit with the bitter notes Campari is most known for which round everything out.  A tasty tipple to be sure.

Lucien Gaudin Cocktail

So, the recipe is solid, let’s focus on the ingredients.  I’ll start with the simple choice, Campari.  Get it, drink it, be well.  Moving on, let’s talk triple sec.  The recipe calls for Cointreau, but all Cointreau is is a premium triple sec and, for a drink that only uses a scant 1/2 oz and lots of bold flavors you should use a good, but less expensive triple sec.  My go to is Hiram Walker Triple Sec.  It’s under $10 a bottle and the flavor is great.

Vemouth is also a minor player, but it’s important.  Don’t go with crap, get the same dry vermouth you’d use in a Martini and you’ll be set.  Finally, let’s get to my favorite topic, gin.  This is a drink with super bold Campari, complex, herbal vermouth and bright orange flavors, you need a gin that can stand up.  Go with something bold and juniper forward.  Anything citrus forward or light is going to get stomped on.  I used one of my all time favorites, Junipero.  The flavor is bold but nuanced.  Tanqueray or Beefeater would also work great in this recipe.

If you’re a Negroni fan and you’re looking to change things up a bit, try the Lucien Gaudin.  The flavors are very similar but switched up enough to make it interesting.

Rob Roy – I’m Going with a Manhattan

Posted by Reese On April - 24 - 2011

I can always tell the cocktails I’m only moderately impressed with.  They’re the ones that when I get home from work, I reach for a cider or an old standby cocktail instead of my featured cocktail.  The Rob Roy was this way.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s not a thing wrong with this drink in the slightest.  Rather, it’s a very good drink.  If you’re a Scotch person over Bourbon then this will definitely fit your palate.   For me, each time I mixed up a Rob Roy I was secretly wishing it was a Manhattan.  And, there in, lies my problem.

Manhattan on the Rocks

But, enough about my problems, let’s talk about this drink.  First, the Scotch.  I have nothing particularly earth-shattering to share with you here beyond what should, by now, be common knowledge for you all.  Go with a Scotch that you really enjoy.  I tried the drink with both Johnnie Walker Red and Dewars White Label and found them both tasty.  But if you drink your Scotch and sodas with Famous Grouse or a single malt or whatever, then by all means, that’s the one you should use.  You already know you like it and, hell, you probably already have a bottle in your cabinet.

Second, the bitters.  You thought I’d go vermouth, and I will, but first the accent.  The bitters, like in any good cocktail play an essential role.  For this drink the classic recipes call for Peychaud’s, which is a solid choice.  With one caveat.  Peychaud’s bitters are truly quite bitter.  Go easy with them and you’ll be pleased, go heavy and you might have an overly bitter cocktail on your hands.

Third, but interestingly not last, the vermouth.  Again, go with what you like.  I tried Punt e Mes for this cocktail as I’d never had it before and found it to be great.  Deeply complex and just the right level of sweetness.  Would I be paying $20+ per bottle to only make this drink occasionally? Probably not.  But there again is where you should go with your old favorite.  Do you have a sweet vermouth that you really love?  Use it!  If you don’t, ask a friend, or a local bar, or hell, email me.  We’ll get you on the right track.

Lastly, a couple final comments on mixing the whole deal up and garnishing.  If you’re making a standard Rob Roy, namely sweet vermouth and Scotch, then the garnish should be a cherry.  If you have real maraschino cherries (i.e. from Italy) then use those, if not, do what I do.  Get a bottle of the radiation burn red maraschino cherries from the grocery store, drain the liquid and rinse them good, then submerge them in the liquor of your choice (I like brandy) until they’re delightful (at least a week).  If you’re making a perfect Rob Roy, half sweet and half dry vermouth and Scotch, then a lemon twist is your go-to.  Last, but certainly not least, when you mix up this drink, try a different ratio that you’re used to.  I tried drinks with both 4:1 and 3:1 (Scotch:Vermouth) and was really pleased with both.  It allows the spirit to be the star.

When I’m looking for a drink at the end of my day it won’t be a Rob Roy, I’ll reach for the bottle of bourbon every time.  But, if you’re a Scotch drinker and you haven’t tried this cocktail, do.  You may be missing out on a favorite.

Spirited Hot Chocolate – You Can’t Go Wrong

Posted by Reese On March - 28 - 2011

Every time I come up with a good spirit to mix with hot chocolate I feel like I get ideas for two more.  Certainly, this is not what one would consider a bad thing by any means, but it’s making me want to drink hot chocolate with booze for hours on end.  And, sadly, that will just end with me passed out on the floor covered in hot chocolate.  Funny, yes.  Optimal, no.  So, on that note I limited my exploration to four more spirits this go-round and I’m packing the others away for next winter.

Spiked Hot Chocolate

Green Chartreuse – I have to say, I wouldn’t have thought of this one on my own.  However, at the suggestion of commenter Evan, I gave it a go.  Wow, was that ever a good call!  The herbal flavor blends into the background in a very harmonious way.  Despite the liqueur blending in really well you still get a solid punch from the 110 proof.  Awesome suggestion, definitely worth a try.

Reposado Tequila – Another commenter suggestion, coming from Frederic this time.  Another solid idea, too.  This combo is much better than I was expecting it to be.  You get the woody/earthy flavors of the tequila playing off the sweetness and chocolate bitterness.  I think this could work with a blanco tequila as well, but you’d lose some of the mellowness and woody flavors.

Grand Marnier – Orange and chocolate is another of those all time great flavor combinations and the hot chocolate rendition definitely follows that trend.  In addition to the orange flavor you get a the flavors of the brandy base coming through as well.  While I think triple sec would work great too, you’d lack some of the depth and complexity of a curacao.  Definitely one of my favorites.

Coffee Liqueur – Awesome, as I knew it would be.  The coffee flavor is second to the chocolate , unlike a coffee mocha.  While this is a classic and might go unnoticed, that would be a mistake.  This is a classic for a reason.

A final note from my tastings.  In my previous post I suggested you use 1 oz of spirit for an 8 oz mug of hot chocolate, I’m revising that to 1 1/2 oz to 2 oz.  The flavor you get from 1 oz of spirit has a hard time overcoming the flavors inherent to the chocolate.  Plus, let’s face it, a cocktail simply isn’t a cocktail with only 1 oz of spirit.

So, where does all of this testing leave us?  I’d say we’ve barely scratched the surface of what you could mix into a delicious cup of hot chocolate.  Some ideas currently bopping around my head: Creme Yvette, all manner of fruit liqueurs, scotch, bourbon, flavored vodkas, cinnamon schnapps (especially Original Cinn), ginger liqueur, amaretto, chocolate liqueur…really, the list could just go on for pages.  Suffice it to say, if you mix something tasty with hot chocolate there’s a solid chance that the resulting drink will also be tasty.