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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.

Halloween Cocktails 2011

Posted by Reese On October - 27 - 2011

It’s Halloween time again fellow drinkers!  This year I went for a smallish cocktail menu for a game night with my friends.  I included one classic because, let’s face the facts, the Corpse Reviver #2 is damned delicious.  As for the other two, I went with a couple interesting recipes that I found on the web.

The first, the disturbingly named Fetus in a Glass, comes from fellow cocktail bloggers over at Cocktails, 365.  The recipe is fairly standard until you get to the end.  The last step is to drizzle a fine stream of heavy cream into the mixed cocktail.  The result is a congealed mass of seriously nasty looking cream floating atop the cocktail.  My drizzle doesn’t look nearly as good (or is that bad) as theirs though so definitely go check out their pics.  The cocktail itself, however, is really tasty.

Fetus in a Glass

Fetus in a Glass
1 1/2 oz Buffalo Trace Bourbon
1 oz Barenjager Honey Liqueur
1 oz Hazelnut Liqueur
Heavy Cream to Drizzle
1) Shake the bourbon and liqueurs with ice
2) Strain into a chilled cocktail glass
3) Drizzle the cream in a fine stream into the cocktail

The flavor is sweet, as you’ve probably guessed from the Barenjager and hazelnut liqueur, but not overly so.  The cream smooths things out really nicely and the bourbon flavors come through great.  Overall this is a super tasty cocktail.  The cream makes for an interesting mouth feel to the cocktail, but not unpleasant.

The second recipe isn’t really all that interesting on its own, but the visual is pretty stunning.  I took a spare bottle of vodka and added a bunch of black food coloring, yielding jet black vodka.  Which, on a side note, you can also buy.  Now you take a few ounces of orange juice and pour it in a glass.  Add an ice cube or two.  Then slowly, very slowly, pour two ounces of the vodka into the bowl of a spoon held just above the level of the OJ.  The vodka will layer on top of the juice cleanly.  Which leaves you with this.

Screwdriver to the Brain

Screwdriver to the Brain
4 oz Orange Juice
2 oz Black Vodka
1) Add the OJ to a glass with a couple ice cubes
2) Slowly layer the vodka on top of the juice

Enjoy the holiday, fellow drinkers!

Review – Bakon Vodka

Posted by Reese On October - 4 - 2011

Everyone who enjoys cocktails, or rather, drinking in general, has dabbled in infusing spirits.  Most stick with straightforward combos: mango vodka, strawberry tequila, vanilla rum, etc.  The next step in that process is fat washing.  Specifically you’re adding a flavorful fat to a spirit and the alcohol and water soluble flavors in the fat are pulled into the spirit.  Once you’ve infused you remove the fat and you’re left with flavorful spirits.

The first time I heard about this method was Don Lee’s Bacon Bourbon.  Don used the infused bourbon to make PDT’s Bacon Old Fashioned.  Seeing this I was inspired.  I tried it myself and, I won’t say I failed, but I certainly didn’t succeed.  What I ended up with was an under-flavored bourbon that tasted okay in an Old Fashioned, but really wasn’t any better than it would have been with unadulterated bourbon.  And, what’s worse, I couldn’t find anything else to put it in.  It met the drain shortly thereafter.

With that, my homemade attempts at fat washing ended and I put savory infusions on the back burner and never really looked back.  So, when a bottle of Bakon Vodka (it’s bacon flavored, in case you hadn’t figured that out) turned up on my doorstep, my brain was immediately filled with concoctions of bacon delightfulness.  Think of the amazing bacon pairings people have been coming up with lately…bacon chocolate chip cookies (made them, they’re amazing), chocolate covered bacon (had it, also amazing), candied bacon (had it, amazing)…okay, this is getting repetitive.

The common theme there though is the sugar component, and while I definitely wanted to try that avenue, you’ll have to come back later for those results.  The first place I wanted to start was what seemed like the obvious use for this spirit, the Bakon Bloody Mary.  But first, let’s talk about the vodka itself.

Bakon Vodka has a distinctly bacony aroma.  It’s not the kind of bacon flavor you might get when you cook up your Sunday breakfast, though.  It was singularly porky.  No maple, very light smoke, very.  But, none the less definitely bacon.  And, while the flavor is good, it’s not something I’d ever drink on its own.  I think it’s the idea of it all that gets to me.  Okay, let’s see how it mixes.

Bakon Bloody Mary

Bakon Bloody Mary
2 oz Bakon Vodka
4 oz Tomato Juice
1/4 oz Lemon Juice
3 Dashes Worcestershire Sauce
1 Dash Hot Sauce
Pinch of Chipotle Powder
Heavy Pinch of Kosher Salt
2 Grinds of Black Pepper
Garnish with Veggies and Pickles
1) Combine ingredients in shaker with ice
2) Shake until well chilled
3) Strain into an ice filled Collins glass
4) Garnish with lemon and celery

I used my basic Bloody Mary recipe with one minor tweak.  I wanted a hint of smokiness so I added a pinch of chipotle powder and cut down the hot sauce.  The bacon comes through in the aroma quite clearly.  In the flavor it’s much less intense, but still present.  And, while it doesn’t added a super bacony punch, it adds a mellow, savory backbone to the cocktail that I really enjoy.  As for the added chipotle it did its job perfectly.  There was a light smokiness and just the right amount of spice.  This is definitely a must try for the folks in your life who lie in the intersection of bacon lovers and Bloody Mary lovers.

As for Bakon Vodka itself, I’ll give you this advice.  It’s tasty stuff, when properly applied.  Definitely don’t get this expecting to be able to use it in any vodka recipe.  The results will not be pleasant.  Though, when mixed in the right recipe the added complexity and savory quality, even in sweet drinks, is worth 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.

The Bären Pear

Posted by Reese On September - 29 - 2011

As promised, here is another tasty cocktail with Bärenjäger.  The original was a bit sweet for my taste so I tweaked it and got the levels just right.

The Baren Pear

The Bären Pear
1 oz Bärenjäger
1 oz Pear Vodka
1 oz Triple Sec
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
10 Small Mint Leaves
1) Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice
2) Shake until well chilled
3) Strain into a chilled cocktail glass
*) Double strain if you want to remove the mint bits

To add a bit of credence to the deliciousness of this cocktail I’ll simply say that Elisabeth has had 3 in the last week.  That says a lot.  The pear and honey flavors play together very nicely, neither overwhelming the other.  The triple sec and lemon add nice citrus notes with just a touch of sourness.  Finally, the mint plays through subtly.  This is a great end of summer drink.  Enjoy, friends.