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Archive for August, 2008

Whiskey Sour

Posted by Reese On August - 30 - 2008

This week we’re going to be highlighting a cocktail that nearly everyone has heard of if not sampled.  However, my guess is you’ve never had it made the right way.  Sours are a traditional family of cocktails that date back to the time of Jerry Thomas’ How to Mix Drinks.  Their composition is generally very simple.  Composed of a base spirit, a sour ingredient, and a sweetener.  In our Whiskey Sour we’ll be using whiskey (Bourbon per the recipe), lemon juice, and simple syrup.  The recipe we are starting with adds a bit of a wrinkle by adding some bitters and an egg white.

Whiskey Sour #2 (Difford's Guide #7)
[Ingredients]
2 oz Bourbon Whiskey
1 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Rich Syrup
3 Dashes Angostura Bitters
1/2 Fresh Egg White
[Directions]
1) Shake ingredients with ice
2) Strain into a glass with ice
[Notes]
  • Add the egg white last or it will start to clot
  • Shake the drink a little longer than usual to make the egg white frothy

I had every intention of making this week’s cocktail some how related to our immense Vegas winnings, but in my searching I only found the Millionaire cocktail.  Sadly though, when trying it I was under impressed.  So maybe some other time.

Vegas Baby!

Posted by Reese On August - 28 - 2008

We had a great time in Vegas and enjoyed some seriously tasty cocktails while there.  Our cocktail related travels began in one of the lounges at the MGM Grand.  Aaron and Lindsey were enjoying Mojitos when Colton and I arrived.  I, in an attempt to catch up, quickly chose to go with a Manhattan.  The Manhattan was quite tasty although nothing that will stand out as one of my great cocktail experiences.  This has solidified my belief that a Manhattan is a cocktail you can order with relative ease when the bar is questionable.  Normally I would say that a Gin and Tonic, another of my perennial favorites, is another good choice in this category.  However, Aaron decided to test this at the Mermaids Casino on Fremont Street.  The cocktail served was horrifying.  Aaron summed it up nicely as “tonic with a splash of brut cologne”.

The ingredients of a Manhattan most any bar will have on hand.  Even if the base ingredients used are of poor quality the resulting cocktail usually ends up tasting all right.  I followed my Manhattan experiment with a Sidecar, which Aaron had previously called his “Vegas standby drink”.  What I got was some Brandy with sour mix.  Although not the true recipe, the cocktail was still palatable.  Later that evening we visited a great bar, Red Square, in Mandalay Bay.  A Russian themed bar most of the cocktails were vodka based, but to their credit they clearly had some good thought behind them.  I especially liked the freezer room that you could enjoy your drinks in if you took advantage of their bottle service.  This privilege came complete with fur coats to keep you warm as you drank and dined.  We didn’t opt for this choice, but perhaps next time.

Sunday night we continued our Tiki celebration by having some delicious cocktails at Trader Vic’s in the Planet Hollywood hotel and casino.  I entered with some trepidation expecting a commercialized Tiki experience serving quickly built, poor tasting cocktails.  I got nothing that I expected.  The restaurant and bar is very upscale and the food and drinks were fantastic.

Colton even enjoyed his Mai Tai!  Aaron and I started with Trader Vic’s Grog, which were fantastic, but unfortunately evaporated due to the low elevation.  You can see this by Aaron’s confused look in the picture above.  It was such a strange scientific phenomenon.  We chose to have another round to see if the problem persisted.  Next I had a Navy Grog.  This was a nice chance to compare their recipe to the one I used during Tiki Week.  The main flavor, and still my favorite, was the Allspice syrup.  Although, in the Trader Vic’s version the sweetness was downplayed, which was actually quite nice.  When mixing this cocktail in the future I think I’ll decrease the syrup to lessen the sweetness.  Aaron had the Honi Honi which was an interesting Bourbon twist on a Tiki cocktail.  Despite the obvious strangeness, the drink was very good.

What else did we do in Vegas?  Well, some of it obviously has to stay in Vegas but I can sum it up with some bullet points:

  • Carrot Top is Beyond Scary, Seriously
  • Blue Man Group is Fantastic
  • Ditto on Cirque Du Soleil ‘O’
  • Vegas Free Drinks Span Horrible to Tasty
  • Non-Free Drinks in Vegas are Rarely Cheap
  • Nine Fine Irishmen in NY, NY has good Food, Music and Drinks
  • Pai Gow is Way Better than Roulette
  • Umbrella Drinks at the Pool Kick Ass (and your Wallet)

And I’m sad to report that Aaron died in a horrible fall from the top of the Stratosphere tower.  That said, he died with honor, like any true cocktail hacker, with his beer in hand.  He will be missed.

Ok, so he didn’t actually die, but the picture was too good not to be shared.

The Omnivore’s 100

Posted by Reese On August - 28 - 2008

This post isn’t cocktail related but it does relate to one of my other favorite pastimes, eating.  This is a list of 100 foods from Very Good Tastes, that the author feels every omnivore should consume in their lifetime.  He’s asked that you take the list and bold items you’ve eaten and strike through items you wouldn’t eat.  Then repost and spread the meme.

Here are my answers.  I’m a reasonably good omnivore, but I’d like to have this list over 75% done by the time I turn 35.  I need to get cracking.

I’ll be posting a story about our Vegas trip later tonight so check back in.


1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment here at www.verygoodtaste.co.uk linking to your results.

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries

23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava

30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl

33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float

36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin

51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV

59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores

62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini

73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail

79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky

84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab

93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox

97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

Tiki Week(s) – Aloha!

Posted by Reese On August - 23 - 2008

It is with a heavy heart that I pen these words for this post signifies the end of our first Tiki Week.  Naturally there will be more, but we now must move on to more unexplored cocktail territory.  We’ve really only scratched the surface of what libations Tiki culture has to offer.  The exotic ingredients, the fruity yet powerful flavors, the colorful hues.  They all seem to transport you to another time and place.  Somewhere where life moves at a slower pace.  So, we hope we’ve made Tiki drinks accessible enough that you too can be transported to this happy place and enjoy some of the exotic flavors.  Aloha my friends, uncharted cocktail territory calls.

This week the cocktail hacker editorial staff has temporarily relocated to Las Vegas for some much needed vacation.  We’ll be doing a couple write ups on Vegas drinks, but there isn’t really a true theme for the week.  I think we’re going to have some interesting tid bits to offer though, so stay tuned.

Navy Grog

Posted by Reese On August - 20 - 2008

So, I’m a relatively simple guy with relatively simple tastes, and it should be known that if a cocktail’s name includes the word Grog you can count me in.  Gets me back to my pirate roots, you know.  So, when I ran across a reference to Navy Grog while researching Tiki cocktails I knew I had to make one.  One of the ingredients also piqued my interest, Allspice Syrup.

Allspice syrup is nothing more than simple syrup that has been infused with Allspice.  There was a simple recipe given on the Tiki Central Forums.  I used this as my base and went from there.  I used an entire container of allspice that I got from the local Safeway, on sale no less.  Rather than grinding the allspice in a spice grinder I chose to crack them in a mortar and pestle.  My thinking being that this would make it much easier to filter out the solids after infusing.  I combined one cup of white sugar with one cup of water and the cracked allspice berries.  Simmered the lot, stirring occasionally for 2 minutes to dissolve the sugar.  Then turned off the heat, covered the pot and let it sit for two hours.  By now the wonderful smell of allspice had filled my apartment and I was loving it.

Now came the part I had been slightly dreading, filtering.  In the past I haven’t had much luck with the coffee filter method as it takes way too long to filter.  A strainer is much faster but tends to leave some of the smallers bits in the solution, not a great option.  In one of my lesser use cupboards I found a French press coffee pot, which turned out to be a perfect answer.  I poured the syrup and spice bits into the pot and slowly depressed the plunger.  Since my grind wasn’t terribly fine the filter was able to remove all the solids leaving a nice brown flavored syrup.  I added my usual one ounce of everclear to increase the syrup’s longevity and I was ready for cocktail making.

The recipe I used was also from the Tiki Central discussion referenced above and is credited to Jeff “Beachbum” Berry’s Grog Blog.

Navy Grog
[Ingredients]
3/4 oz Fresh Lime Juice
1/2 oz Grapefruit Juice
3/4 oz Allspice Syrup
1 oz Light Puerto Rican Rum
1 oz Gold Jamaican Rum
1 oz Demerara Rum
[Directions]
1) Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker
2) Shake well with ice to combine and chill
3) Strain in to a Double Old Fashioned glass
* [Note] I went with an addition of 1 oz of rum to bring the total to
three ounces.  This was the poster's recommendation.

This cocktail has a great flavor.  The allspice comes through but not overly strongly, which I think is key.  Allspice could easily overload the other flavors in this cocktail.  It also presents a nice fruity flavor and the rum flavors shine through.  I tried two  different mixes of rum.  One pretty standard with Bacardi Light Rum, 10 Cane, and Gosling’s Gold Seal.  The other a more top shelf blend with Rhum Barbancourt White Rum, Rhum Barbancourt 7 year, and Flor De Cana 7 year.  Both were very good and truthfully I don’t think you gain much by using the top shelf rums in this drink.  The other flavors are strong, so they overwhelm the subtleties of the more expensive products.  One thing I do really like about the Barbancourt Rhums is they add a nice grassy note to the cocktail.

This was a great cocktail and made me feel like a true pirate.  Although, next time I think I need a more Tiki inclined drinking vessel.  Looks like it’s time for some eBay searching.  Enjoy your Grog matey!