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Review – Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey

Posted by Reese On November - 11 - 2012

Irish Whiskey (making note of the ‘e’) is a category that I enjoy, but haven’t explored much.  Some time back I received a bottle of Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey for review and what struck me most was their claim that this whiskey is distilled in the oldest operating distillery.  Operating under license since 1757 (holy awesome!) the old distillery as it’s called only recently began producing Kilbeggan whiskey again but it’s just as tasty as ever.

Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey – 40% ABV

As you fill your glass you’re first greeted with a light amber/honey color and an aroma that is distinctly whiskey.  Subtle earthiness and notes of vanilla and spices with a light sweetness throughout.  The mouth feel and flavor are tremendously smooth.  While there are notes of clove and cinnamon with a vanilla caramel sweetness, this whiskey isn’t super complex.  Rather, Kilbeggan is very drinkable and approachable.   I’d happily offer some to any whiskey drinker knowing that they’re certain to enjoy the dram.

So, given that this whiskey isn’t overly bold I wanted to craft a cocktail that played off the spices without overwhelming the whiskey itself.  With fall at hand, something using fresh apple cider seemed like a great plan.  Here is the result.

Irish Harvest

Irish Harvest
2 oz Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey
1 oz Spiced Apple Syrup
1/4 oz Lemon Juice
1) Shake with ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass 
2) Garnish with an orange twist 

The spiced apple syrup brings even more spice to the party and a tangy sweet apple flavor that plays really well with the whiskey.  The cocktail is drier than you’d initially expect which is perfect for my tastes.  Very reminiscent of spiked apple cider, but with the whiskey taking center stage.  Finally, the lemon juice adds brightness to the cocktail and the amount should be considered a suggestion only.  Based on the cider you choose for the syrup you may need more or less acidity to add the right level of sourness.  This is a great fall cocktail that I’ll definitely be making more of in the coming weeks.

Spiced Apple Syrup
2 c Apple Cider (fresh if possible)
1 Cinnamon Stick
1 Star Anise
10 Allspice Berries
3 Cloves
Peel of 1/2 Orange (minus the white pith)
1) Bring the mixture to a low boil
2) Boil until reduced by half
3) Strain out the spices

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

What I’m Drinking Now: Honey Rye

Posted by Reese On September - 8 - 2012

Looking for something light and refreshing one evening, Elisabeth stumbled upon this delicious combination of rye and honey liqueur in Bon Appetit.  The end result is refreshing while managing to maintain a nice level of complexity from the rye and orange bitters.  Definitely worth trying out if you’re looking for a simple late summer tipple.  Make sure you pick a bold rye though, it’ll make it all the more interesting (we chose Bulleit Rye).

Honey Rye

Honey Rye
1 1/4 oz Rye
3/4 oz Honey Liqueur
2 Dashes Orange Bitters
Top with Ginger Beer
1) Combine rye, honey liqueur and bitters
2) Top with ginger beer

Review – Milagro Tequilas

Posted by Reese On August - 26 - 2012

Guest post by Elisabeth, Cocktail Hacktress in training.

If you had asked me before I started dating Reese what my favorite type of drink was, I’m not sure what I would have said. I have tried plenty of drinks, but I am still inexperienced enough to learn something every time Reese mixes something up. I have learned one thing, though:

I love tequila!

I love the agave flavor, the way tequila enhances a drink with agave earthiness and smokiness, and how good tequila doesn’t require the assistance of lime. If I could have spent my summer touring agave fields and sampling tequila fresh out of the still, I would have been in heaven. Alas, this wasn’t in the plans so when I saw the series of Milagro tequilas Reese had received, I begged him to help me review them.

Milagro Silver (40% ABV)

This affordable version of the Milagro tequila line is the purest example of tequila I have ever tasted. Milagro Silver has a clean agave aroma (Reese smelled black pepper) without any interference. The taste reflects the aroma- clean, crisp agave with little interference of other flavors/aromas. Milagro Silver would be a great addition to a drink where you want to let the agave flavor shine.

Milagro Silver, Select Barrel Reserve (40% ABV)

The Special Barrel Reserve is aged in French Oak barrels which lends a richer, warmer complexity to the tequila. The nose has a subtle vanilla sweetness, with a little oakiness. The product tastes just as crisp as the Silver described above with a tremendously smooth, medium length finish of earthy agave.

Milagro Reprosado, Select Barrel Reserve (40% ABV)

The aging of the Special Barrel Reserve Milagro Reposado in American Oak bourbon barrels gives a heartier oak character. When directly comparing to the Milagro Silver, the sweet caramel and vanilla aroma really shines through. This tequila has a slight golden color and medium-long finish. This tequila is pure and all about the agave without being overly sweet, vegetal or smoky.

Rather than test Milagro’s mixability with a traditional margarita, we opted for a tequila chocolate martini.

Mexican Chocolate Martini

Mexican Chocolate Martini
1 1/2 oz Milagro Silver Tequila
3/4 oz Trader Vic’s Chocolate Liqueur
1/4 oz Original Cinn
2 dashes Fee’s Aztec Chocolate Bitters
1) Stir with ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

This drink really lets the agave flavors of the Milagro shine through and smells delightfully like earthy agave sprinkled with cinnamon. Cinnamon and chocolate embrace a Mexican chocolate tradition. The cinnamon in Original Cinn is an earthier cinnamon to give it more an authentic taste (rather than a red hot cinnamon in other liqueurs). Do not be tempted to add cream. It swamps the flavors and overwhelms the drink.

P.S. (from Reese) – I love the bottle design on the Select Barrel Reserve bottlings.  The hand-blown agave plant inside the bottle is gorgeous.  The fact that the tequila inside the bottle is also fantastic is complete icing on the cake. *wink wink*

Milagro Barrel Select Bottles


† 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 – Pinky Vodka

Posted by Reese On August - 2 - 2012

Flavored vodkas have been around for a long time.  Truly good flavored vodkas have been around for a while.  But unique, truly good flavored vodkas?  Those are far less common.  One of the first to pass through my lips was Pinky Vodka.  Flavored with rose petal, violet and strawberry the first thing you’ll note is that it truly is eponymous.  The pink hue is natural and not at all overly pink.  Think light pink rose and you’re there.

Once the color grabs your interest, the aroma forces you to taste.  You get floral complexity and fruity sweetness hitting you.  But, that said, it smells like neither perfume nor fruit smoothie.  And, now that you’ve been enticed to taste, the flavor holds you for good.  Like the aroma, the flavors of floral rose and violet combine elegantly with the strawberry fruitiness.  As you’re reading this, I worry that the flavor you’ll have in your head at this point is that of strawberry candy.  Cloying, artificial and generally “kiddie” tasting.  That flavor couldn’t be farther from Pinky.  Pinky’s strawberry flavor is like that of a fresh summer strawberry.  Lightly sweet, crisp and refreshing.

Strawberry Pinky Collins

So, what do you do with Pinky?  Well, aside from just drinking it straight, as I’m doing right now*, you can mix it with complimentary flavors to make it truly shine.  I opted to make a Pinky Collins with a freshly muddled Driscoll’s strawberry.  Now, I can almost hear you saying “nice name drop”.  And, yes, it is.  But it’s more than that.  I like Driscoll’s berries for cocktails because they’re accessible to nearly everyone.  Sure, a lot of us can get farm fresh berries in the middle of the summer and we certainly should. But what about in October? January?  I think you get my point.  Driscoll’s are just there, super tasty and ready whenever you are.

Pinky Collins
1 Driscoll's Strawberry
2 oz Pinky Vodka
1 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Simple Syrup
Club Soda
1) Slice strawberry and muddle well
2) Add vodka, lemon juice and simple syrup
3) Stir a bit and add ice
4) Top with soda water

You’re going to note that this cocktail is simply a Vodka Collins with added strawberry and that’s exactly what I wanted.  Keeping it super simple lets the Pinky be the star.  This drink is perfect for hot summer days.  You get a light touch of fruitiness, the floral flavors of the Pinky aren’t masked and the overall drink isn’t overly sweet.  I’ve served this to a number of people now and, to a glass, every one asked for another.  Usually in rather close succession to the first.

*I love it when I’m excited enough about a spirit to just keep sipping my tasting sample until it’s gone.


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

What I’m Drinking Now: Limoncello Lemonade

Posted by Reese On July - 9 - 2012

One of my original cocktail experiments, before I even knew they were cocktail experiments, was making homemade limoncello in college.  I had tasted it a couple times and, due to my deep love of lemon anything, was immediately hooked.  I remember that first batch, made with lemons peeled with a vegetable peeler, steeped for weeks in overproof vodka and generally okay.  Not amazing, but good enough to keep me trying.  I’ve since refined my recipe quite a bit (more on that later) and was making up a new batch a couple weeks ago.

Limoncello Lemonade

I had a bottle of limoncello in my freezer (that’s where it should be kept by the way) from my previous batch and wanted to do something fresh, crisp and summery with it.  Limoncello lemonade was the clear winner, but it needed some spice.  Inspiration came in the form of fresh herbs which are now blossoming all around.

The first batch we mixed up used basil which was fantastic with the lemon.  Next we tried thyme.  A good flavor choice but kind of a pain in the ass with the small leaves.  If you’re going to try that one use whole sprigs instead of leaves.  Then came tarragon.  The licorice notes went really well with the sweetness of the drink and sourness of the lemons.  Latest, but not last and certainly not least was mint.  It seems almost too easy, but this one worked really really well.  The almost cooling character of the mint went with the theme of a crisp summer cooler fantastically.  What’s next on the docket?  There are no limits.  How about rosemary, oregano, varietals of the above (lemon thyme, spearmint, etc)…please let me know what you try.  Oh, and I’d hope this goes without saying, but if you’re not an herb person or don’t have any around, skip them.  The drink is still damn good without any herbage.

Limoncello Lemonade
Herbs (optional)
1 1/2 oz Limoncello
1 1/2 oz Lemon Juice
Soda Water
1) Muddle herbs, or not
2) Combine limoncello and lemon juice
3) Top with soda water

I’d suggest you try to sip it slowly and watch the world go by, but the reality is, you should just be ready to make another one in short order.