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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.

Review – Hiram Walker Caramel Apple Liqueur

Posted by Reese On December - 1 - 2011

Liqueurs are an odd ingredients for me.  I’m never quite sure what exactly people do with them.  Sure, they’re cocktail ingredients, but people have to be using them for other things too, right?  Do folks drink them straight?  In coffee?  Hot chocolate?  I’m sure the list actually goes on and on.  But, that leads me to a tough question, how can I best review liqueurs to give the best idea of how you’ll all use them?  Well, tough questions aside, I’m going to do what I usually do.  Give you a run down on the flavor alone and in a cocktail.  If you’d like some other thoughts, shoot me a line.

Okay, on to Hiram Walker’s newest liqueur, Caramel Apple.  Caramel Apple is definitely descriptive of the aroma.  You get sweet apple (think gala or honey crisp) with a touch of tartness and a strong hit of the caramel.  The flavor starts with a quick hit of bright apple followed by caramel that lingers for quite some time.  The sweetness is powerful, it is a liqueur afterall, but it’s not overwhelming.  Finally, since HW uses only natural flavors you don’t get the nasty aftertaste that’s common to other liqueurs.

So, what to do with it?  I first tried one of the suggestions listed on the bottle.  Equal parts Jameson and HW Caramel Apple yields a drink with a much tamer level of sweetness while maintaining the crisp apple and rich caramel flavors.  Definitely a good start, but I wanted something more complex.  Enter the Spiced Cider Old Fashioned.

Spiced Cider Old Fashioned

Spiced Cider Old Fashioned (Cocktail Hacker)
2 oz Applejack
1 oz Hiram Walker Caramel Apple
1/2 oz Apple Juice
2 Dashes Fee's Barrel Aged Bitters
Orange Twist
1) Combine Applejack, liqueur and juice in a glass with ice
2) Stir to combine
3) Garnish with a twist of orange

The flavor truly is reminiscent of mulled cider.  With all those apple based ingredients saying that this drink has a solid apple flavor is a bit unnecessary though adding the touch of juice gives the apple flavor a boost of freshness.  The bitters give the spice flavors good mulled cider is known for and harmonize with the apple.  That said, you can (and should) substitute any bitters you like.  The spicier the better.  The sweetness is on par with that of a standard Old Fashioned, though if you’d like it dialed up or down play with the juice and liqueur levels.  As my step-dad would say “It tastes like more.”


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

Cranberry-Orange Gin and Tonic

Posted by Reese On November - 24 - 2011

Your big meal is over, guests have waddled out, dishes are done…time for a cocktail!  And what better than a festive holiday cocktail using ingredients you probably already have left from your dinner?  Elisabeth pointed out a Cranberry-Orange Gin and Tonic featured in this month’s Southern Living Magazine and I was immediately sold.  Mix one up.  You’ll be very happy and it’ll help ease you into that post-turkey nap.

Orange-Cranberry Gin and Tonic

Cranberry-Orange Gin and Tonic (Southern Living)
Orange Twist
8 Cranberries
1 tsp Sugar
1 1/2 oz Gin
1/2 oz Orange Juice
2 oz Tonic Water
1) Muddle orange twist, cranberries and sugar in a shaker
2) Add gin, orange juice and ice
3) Shake and pour into a highball glass (don't strain)
4) Top with tonic water

Review – Hendrick’s Gin

Posted by Reese On November - 21 - 2011

When I was still in college, a few years prior to my hacking days, I was drinking a lot of gin and tonics.  As part of that drinking I started amassing a collection of gin.  There really wasn’t much rhyme or reason to it.  Friend recommended it, it’s in.  Something I haven’t seen before, it’s in.  And, in the case of Hendrick’s, the bottle looks super cool, it’s in.  Hendrick’s has, and always has had, an old school, apothecary style bottle.  It’s dark and interesting and like nothing else out there.

So added it was and there it sat for months.  Sure, I’d toss it in a G&T from time to time, but I never really appreciated what it had to offer.  That appreciation came quite a lot later on a hot, late summer, Friday afternoon at Jax Fish House in Boulder.  I had met my buddy Sean there for drinks and oysters and we were sitting right at the front windows watching the world go by.  Drink special for the day was a Hendrick’s Gin and Tonic.  We each ordered one and continued downing the oysters.  A bit later the drinks showed up.  With slight bits of muddled cucumber floating about, it was definitely the oddest G&T I’d ever had.

One sip changed me.  Hendrick’s doesn’t have what most people consider to be a typical gin flavor.  The juniper is present, but isn’t front and center.  There are other flavors that take that role, like cucumber and rose.  The flavor is also not as strong as with other gins.  Which is why Hendrick’s is perfect in a G&T.  Mixed right, the tonic isn’t the star, it’s secondary to the gin.  And that was definitely the case that Friday afternoon.  The bits of muddled cucumber, though strange at first, play off the cucumber flavor of the gin and give it a cooling quality that’s really amazing.  Sean and I each had a couple of those G&Ts before we moved on with our evening.  Friends and family joined throughout and the night was truly grand.  I must say, even years later, the thought of those Hendrick’s Gin and Tonics sticks with me.

Hendrick's Gin and Tonic

The flavor of Hendrick’s works great with tonic on its own with the typical twist of lime, but you can up the ante with a bit of muddled cucumber.  Take two peeled slices of cucumber, chop them into smaller bits and muddle a bit in your glass.  Add two ounces of Hendrick’s and 3-4 ounces of tonic.  Top with a wedge of lime and a cucumber slice for garnish.  Definitely worth the extra effort I assure you.

Hendrick's Gin and Tonic
2 oz Hendrick's Gin
3-4 oz Tonic Water
Cucumber
Lime Wedge
1) Muddle two slices of cucumber in your glass
2) Add the Hendrick's and tonic
3) Garnish with a cucumber slice and lime wedge

That naturally brings us to the question of, what is the flavor profile of Hendrick’s?  In short, balanced, with emphasis on flavors other than the juniper.  The juniper is still there, but the other flavors are the star.  Notes of cucumber and rose come through at the front.  Following that you get notes of coriander and citrus.  Throughout is a light touch of juniper to tie it all together.  Check it out if you’re looking for a twist on usual gins.  And, there is a big collection of cocktail recipes on their site, should you need additional inspiration.


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