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Review – Crafthouse Bottled Cocktails

Posted by Reese On November - 11 - 2014

Bottled cocktails, mixers and the like are something I’ve usually shied away from.  Typically something that comes from a bottle is going to taste, well, like it came from a bottle.  The fruit juices are flat, the herbal notes are muddy, bleh.  So, I was naturally a bit apprehensive when I was offered review samples of Crafthouse Bottled Cocktails.  The apprehension began to fade as I heard they were being crafted and produced by the USBG’s 2014 World Class winner Charles Joly.  Okay, you’ve got the cocktail cred, do you have the flavor to match?

Crafthouse Cocktails

Crafthouse is currently producing three classic cocktails with natural ingredients, premium spirits and a close eye on the flavor and replication of the classic recipes.  And they’re doing a damn fine job of it.

Paloma – This is one of my favorite summertime cocktails and the Crafthouse version is very well done and disappeared alarmingly quickly.  The grapefruit flavor was very fresh and natural.  The flavor is much closer to a Paloma made with fresh grapefruit juice than grapefruit soda so expect a light bitterness.  For me, the bitterness is perfect though and makes the drink that much more refreshing on a hot day.

Southside – If you’ve not heard of a Southside, think Mojito made with gin.  The lime and mint flavors are very fresh and natural tasting but masked the gin notes a bit more than I would have liked.  I am a gin nut though.  While I liked this recipe, the other two edge it out on the favorites list.

Moscow Mule – Wow! The ginger flavor in this cocktail is intense.  If you’ve ever had fresh, homemade ginger beer this is exactly the flavor you’ll find here.  Crisp ginger, tart lemon and just carbonated enough to make it refreshing.  Excellent version of a cocktail that is becoming hugely popular again.

All that aside, here’s the pressing question.  Would I buy these over making my own?  Absolutely.  If I was headed to a party and wanted to bring a cocktail but didn’t feel like standing behind the counter making each one by hand, I’d reach for these in a minute.


† The product reviewed here was provided to me as a free sample. If you’re wondering what that means check out my sample policy.

Review – Chila ‘Orchata

Posted by Reese On October - 1 - 2014

Chila 'OrchataThe horchata I’m familiar with is a Mexican rice drink flavored with cinnamon and really quite tasty.  When a sample of Chila ‘Orchata arrived I was suprised to see it wasn’t rice based at all.  Intriguing.  Having done a bit more reading, thank you Wikipedia, I was a bit more educated and even more excited to sample.  Chila ‘Orchata is a rum based, cream liqueur with a “sprinkle of exotic cinnamon”.  I’d agree with that.

The aroma speaks of fresh cream, rum and a light touch of cinnamon.  The flavor follows suit but adds a light hint of vanilla, no doubt from the rum.  Speaking of the rum, it is clearly present but not prominent.  The cream truly tastes fresh and, well, creamy. The mouth feel is silky and slightly thick.  The sweetness level is, expectedly, high, but not cloying.  Though, it was a touch too sweet for my taste to drink straight.  For me, the best mix is 1/3 spiced rum and 2/3 Chila ‘Orchata.  The rum and spices work great with the cream and cinnamon and the rum cuts the sweetness just enough.  Overall, a very good cream liqueur that I would drink on its own or mixed in something tasty.

This is a great liqueur that, the more I contemplate, seems like it will be a great ingredient for warm, fall drinks.  Think boozy hot chai, orchata spiced hot chocolate or simply a glass of Chila on the rocks.  I know, not really warm, but still tasty, I promise.


† The product reviewed here was provided to me as a free sample. If you’re wondering what that means check out my sample policy.

Review – Proof: The Science of Booze

Posted by Reese On September - 17 - 2014

Guest post by Elisabeth, Cocktail Hacktress in training.

Proof CoverReese recently passed me a book to read entitled Proof: The Science of Booze by Adam Rogers.  Being a little bit of a bookworm, I picked it up and started reading almost immediately.  Proof follows the story of alcoholic beverages from a scientific perspective. The book can be fairly technical, including discussions of yeast strains, chemical compounds and the details of your body’s reaction to a rough morning after drinking. But, as a chemist, I found it to be very entertaining.  I liked that it went far enough beyond the surface details that I felt scientifically satisfied (azeotropes!), but not so much that it wasn’t a relaxing read.

This book would definitely appeal to you if you are inclined to delve into the world of science in your everyday reading.  There are entertaining stories for all, even if you don’t tend towards science.  My favorite chapter was the distillation chapter which had a great humorous tone in places and I believe everyone should know the result of the scientific study from the 1920’s on the “Effect of Dilute Alcohol Given by Rectal Injection During Sleep”. Seriously, Harvard?

Consider putting this on your Christmas list for yourself or giving it your buddy from the lab who brews on the side.


† The product reviewed here was provided to me as a free sample. If you’re wondering what that means check out my sample policy.

Review – Landy VSOP Cognac

Posted by Reese On September - 10 - 2014

Landy VSOP Cognac

Cognac is a classic cocktail staple and Landy is a strong contender for the only Cognac I need in my bar at all.  Landy has a light amber hue but the nose is where it really starts to get interesting.  Stone fruits and specifically black cherry are the stars with vanilla, maple and spice notes playing the chorus.  The aroma is tremendously smooth with no notable alcohol zing.

The flavor follows hand in hand with the stone fruit flavors.  Black cherry continues to shine the brightest with sweet notes of vanilla and spice bringing up the rear.  The finish is medium-long with a great fruitcake flavor of dried fruit, subtle spice and lingering sweetness.

Stiletto

We wanted to pair this Cognac with a classic cocktail.  Having some extra sparkling wine around we settled on the Stiletto from The Bubbly Bar by Maria Hunt.  The Stiletto is a riff (to use the word liberally) on the classic Champagne Cocktail and it was great.  The Landy really shone through and played extremely well with the orange flavor of the Grand Marnier.  I think the sweetness of the Proseco we used was a good choice as it gave the cocktail a light sweetness without being cloying.

Stiletto
1/2 - 1 oz Cognac
1/2 oz Grand Marnier
4 oz Sparkling Wine
1 Drop of Bitters
1) Combine the Cognac, Grand Marnier and Sparkling Wine in a flute
2) Add one drop of bitters

Having sampled Landy VSOP both straight and in a cocktail, it plays both roles tremendously well.  It’s flavors are distinct and smooth enough to call for you to have a snifter and it’s strong enough to stand up to other ingredients in a cocktail.  Definitely one to keep an eye out for.


† The product reviewed here was provided to me as a free sample. If you’re wondering what that means check out my sample policy.

Review – The New Old Bar

Posted by Reese On July - 31 - 2014

Guest post by Elisabeth, Cocktail Hacktress in training.

The New Old Bar is a cocktail book authored by The Hearty Boys (Steve McDonagh and Dan Smith). The Hearty Boys have gathered a great collection of cocktail and snack recipes for your enjoyment. The book is very attractive, with great pictures and easy to read text. The Hearty Boys first cover some of the cocktailing basics in Chapters 1 & 2. Chapter 3 has a great selection of over 150 cocktail recipes for you to peruse. These cocktail recipes cover everything from classic cocktails such as the Manhattan to original recipes. Recipes for garnishes and bar snacks are also provided.

We tested out a few of the recipes in this book. The first of these was the “Mayfair” cocktail – a blend of gin, apricot brandy and orange juice. This one was definitely tasty and easy to drink. The Eastern Sin, a scotch-based drink wasn’t my favorite, but it could really appeal to someone that appreciates a unique cocktail.

Sloe Gin Froze

Finally, we tried the Sloe Gin Froze. This drink was a blended drink, which was absolutely perfect for July. As published, this recipe was way too sweet for Reese. I tend to prefer the sweeter cocktails, but I would probably even eliminate the simple syrup. If you are looking for a good summer cocktail, I highly suggest giving sloe gin a try. If you are looking for a well-rounded cocktail recipe book, pick up “The New Old Bar” at a bookseller near you!

Sloe Gin Froze
1.5 oz sloe gin
1 oz ginger liqueur
0.5 oz fresh lemon juice
0.5 oz simple syrup
1 cup cracked ice
Lemon wheel for garnish

Combine the ingredients in a blender and blend on high until smooth. Pour into a well-chilled glass and serve garnished with a lemon wheel. Yield – 1 cocktail.


† The product reviewed here was provided to me as a free sample. If you’re wondering what that means check out my sample policy.