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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!

Will you Nail or Will you Fail?

Posted by Reese On April - 9 - 2012

I’ve gotten to do some cool stuff over the years being a cocktail hacker.  I’ve been to Tales of the Cocktail (hopefully not the only time), I’ve been to exclusive tastings, I’ve been invited to distilleries, but last week I had a first, I was invited to be a judge for the Drambuie Nail or Fail Bartender Showdown.  Very many thanks to Cynthia, Anthony and Christina.  It was great getting to be a cocktail geek with you all.

The party itself was epic.  Eight local bartenders mixed up original, Drambuie inspired cocktails for the crowd and Drambuie also served up some of their classics.  I think Drambuie is one of those ingredients that gets passed over more than it should.  Sure, you know where to go when you’re looking for a rusty nail, but there are so many other applications.  Drambuie can truly be a blank slate for a whole range of flavor profiles and the bartenders showed that with ease.  We had a couple sours, a riff on the Old Fashioned, an incredible play on a grog and the winner, a cocktail that was reminiscent of a Manhattan with notes of bitter, sweetness and deep complexity.

I don’t have those recipes just yet, but with summer fast approaching, I will share a refreshing recipe from Drambuie’s team, the Drambuie Fizz.  This drink is deceptively simple but really delicious.

Drambuie Fizz
1 1/2 oz Drambuie
6-8 Lime Wedges
Club Soda
1) Muddle the lime wedges in a rocks glass
2) Fill with crushed ice and add Drambuie
3) Top with soda and a lime wedge

What I really want to share this time isn’t recipes though, it’s tips for entrants in cocktail competitions.  Sure, I don’t have hundreds under my belt, but I think I’ve got some pointers that’ll be valuable.

1) It doesn’t matter what brought you to the competition, remember that you’re representing both yourself and your establishment.  Always put your best out there.

2) Presentation in the drink matters as much as, if not more than, your presentation in making the drink.

3) Make the contest ingredient the star.  Sure your housemade bitters are great as are the unique ingredients but the contest ingredient has to shine, that’s the whole reason you’re there.

4) Vet your recipe to anyone who will taste it for you.  Friends, long time regulars, family.  Then, once you’ve got it nailed, stick to the recipe.

5) Make your recipe appeal to a wide audience.  I love crazy flavors as much as the next cocktail geek, but does that guy that just walked into your bar for the first time?

6) Garnish! For the love of god, it finishes your drink.

7) Complexity doesn’t equate to superiority.  Sometimes the simplest cocktail is the best.

8) Have fun.  At the end of the day, you’re getting to mix great cocktails for people who are really going to appreciate them.  Enjoy it.

What I’m Drinking Now: Kiwi Caipirinha

Posted by Reese On March - 13 - 2012

This is another great recipe that Elisabeth found.  This time from Sunset magazine.  It’s just as simple as the classic Caipirinha with the addition of some kiwi chunks during the muddling stage.  The flavor is crisp and delicious with the kiwi flavor solid and harmonious with the lime and cachaça.  Well done, Sunset.  This is fantastic drink.

Kiwi Caipirinha

Kiwi Caipirinha
1/2 Lime, Quartered
1 Kiwi, Chopped and Peeled
2 oz Cachaca
2 tsp Sugar
1) Muddle kiwi, lime and sugar until sugar is dissolved
2) Add cachaça and cracked ice
3) Stir until well combined

What I’m Drinking Now: Blood Orange Whiskey Sour

Posted by Reese On February - 25 - 2012

This is the first in what I see becoming a series of posts where I can post up what I’m drinking right now.  They won’t have the depth of analysis, but will give you some ideas of drinks you might want to try.

Tonight, we’re drinking Blood Orange Whiskey Sours.  We’re in Grand Lake for the weekend and Elisabeth brought along blood oranges that she got in her produce box this week.  Faced with a limited liquor cabinet but some solid basics I decided a riff on the classic Whiskey Sour would be great.  Here’s the result.

Blood Orange Whiskey Sour

Blood Orange Whiskey Sour
1 1/2 oz Blood Orange Juice
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
2 oz Bourbon
1/4 - 1/2 oz Simple Syrup
2 dashes Fee's Old Fashioned Bitters
1) Combine ingredients in shaker with ice
2) Shake until well chilled
3) Strain into a glass with ice

The simple syrup is variable because you really need to tweak it with this cocktail based on the sourness of your blood orange and lemon.  Just give it a quick sample before you shake and adjust as needed.

Review – Hiram Walker Gingerbread Liqueur

Posted by Reese On December - 8 - 2011

Despite my whining from last week, sometimes inspiration just strikes me.  I had pulled Hiram Walker Gingerbread Liqueur out of my collection to try when the Caramel Apple arrived.  It was one I received a year or more back and just never got around to actually trying.  And now, some good and bad news.  The good news is that this stuff is just that, good.  The bad news is that they’re not making it anymore.  But, on the bright side, you can still find it at a lot of liquor stores (my local ones have it) and online.  So, dear friends, don’t despair too much.

Okay, enough chatter, let’s talk liquor.  The color is what you’d expect, dark brown and reminiscent of gingerbread.  Big surprise, no?  The aroma is comprised mostly of molasses, spice and sweetness.  And the flavor is where Hiram Walker Gingerbread really shines.  You get the molasses notes of good gingerbread, the spices play nicely throughout and the sweetness is there but not cloying.  Well, done HW, well done.

So what do you do with it?  Well, there are lots of obvious holiday options.  Coffee.  Hot Chocolate.  Giant glass, one ice cube (for the hard days…we all have them).  The obvious aside, Elisabeth came up with a great option to both warm you up and calm you down, warm milk with gingerbread liqueur.  I’d suggest a mix of 2 oz Gingerbread Liqueur to 6 oz warm milk.  Definitely non-sucky.  For me, inspiration struck in the form of Gingerbread Eggnog.

Gingerbread Eggnog

Gingerbread Eggnog
1 1/2 oz Bourbon
1 1/2 oz Hiram Walker Gingerbread Liqueur
1 oz Whipping Cream
1 Egg
1 Dash Aromatic Bitters
Nutmeg
1) Combine everything but the nutmeg in a shaker with ice
2) Shake until your arm nearly falls off (a good minute)
3) Strain into a glass and top with grated nutmeg

The flavor is definitely eggnog, but with a subtle gingery, spicy, molasses-y twist.  Molasses has a very distinct flavor and that comes through in the backbone of this drink.  I drank this down in about 10 minutes and wanted another one nearly immediately.  Per my preference, the sweetness is subdued, but present.  You could always add a splash (small) of simple syrup if you wanted something more akin to carton eggnog.  Oh, and like all good holiday drinks, this one packs a punch, but you’d never guess that tasting it.  If you’re looking for something new and interesting to serve at your holiday gathering this year, you definitely won’t go wrong with this one.  And, if you can’t find a bottle, swing by my house.  We’ll mix one up.


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