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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.

Review – Pama Pomegranate Liqueur

Posted by Reese On November - 3 - 2011

Pama Pomegranate LiqueurI received a review bottle of Pama about two years ago and it got lost in the shuffle.  It’s a shame, but it happens.  And, now that I’ve tried Pama, I’m doubly disappointed that I waited so long.  Pama has a fantastic flavor and is a dream to mix with.

Pama’s color is a bright, well…pomegranate, red.  The aroma is sweet with the pomegranate notes coming through loud and clear.  And, now, the important part, the flavor.  The flavor of Pama definitely manages to hold on to some of the fresh fruit flavor.  Sadly, there really isn’t any way to keep it all.  The sweetness is definitely present, this is a liqueur after all, but it’s cut really well by the sour notes leaving you with a nicely balanced spirit.  The base spirits are a combo of vodka and tequila and you can definitely taste hints of the tequila coming through, which I really like.

Wanting to know how it would hold up to other bold flavors we mixed up a couple cocktails from the Pama website.  Though, I have to give you a tip.  There is a secondary Pama site that’s kinda hidden in the lower right of the main site, Pama Professionals.  This is where you want to go look for cocktail recipes.  They’re a step above the recipes on the main site and they sport more nuanced flavors and complexity.  To get us started, Elisabeth wanted something with Champagne.  I couldn’t complain as the Champagne would cut some of the sweetness and play really well with the fruitiness.

Marie Antoinette

Marie Antoinette (Pama Professionals)
1 oz PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur
1 oz Gin
1 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Simple Syrup
Champagne
1) Combine the Pama, gin, lemon juice and simple syrup with ice
2) Shake until well chilled
3) Strain into a Champagne flute and top with Champagne

This drink has definite ties to a French 75 and that is a great thing.  The sourness of the lemon and Pama are tamed a bit by the extra simple syrup and the champagne cuts through it all giving it a great lightness.  If you use a bold gin its flavor come in and play ball as well, the herbal notes working especially well with the fruitiness.  Definitely give this one a try next time you’re jonesing for a French 75.

Following that I wanted to play off the tequila base so I checked out their site and opted for the Persephones Elixir.

Persephones Elixir

Persephones Elixir (Pama Professionals)
3/4 oz PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur
1 oz Blanco Tequila
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
Ginger Beer
1) Combine the Pama, tequila and lemon juice with ice
2) Shake until well chilled
3) Strain into an ice filled collins glass and top with ginger beer

The added tequila harmonizes extremely well with the pomegranate.  The ginger beer adds light effervescence and flavor complexity.  This is a great drink and I would definitely mix this up on a hot day.  And, since you added some volume with the ginger beer, you might actually get some hydration out of it too.  Win win.

I learned some valuable lessons with this one.  One, here are another pair of pink cocktails that are delicious.  I’m starting to see a real trend developing here.  Two, I’ll think twice before putting something on the back burner again.  I’d hate to miss something as good as Pama as a result.

PS – If you’re a cook, you should definitely check out some of the food recipes on their site.  There look to be some great recipes on there.  For one, the Pama Flourless Chocolate Torte has been on my mind since I saw it.


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