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Archive for December, 2008

Awesome New CH Logo

Posted by Reese On December - 16 - 2008


Fantastic news!  We now have our very own logo.  And, as you can clearly see, it is the height of awesome.  After a lot of careful thought and suggestions from friends I settled on an old-school neon look (Thanks for the suggestion Conrey).  Feeling that the martini glass was a bit over used I went with an Old Fashioned glass design complete with stir/straw and ice.

The biggest thanks for this awesome logo goes to Colton, my friend and incredible artist.  He took my rough idea and sketch and turned it in to what you see to the left and in our header above.  If you’d like to take a look at any of his other great artwork take a stroll over to his site.  Colton does some contract work.  If you’re interested in having some work done please contact him for a price quote.

RSS Feed Change

Posted by Reese On December - 15 - 2008


I’ve recently switched our RSS feed over to FeedBurner.  If you have any issues with the old feed ( please change your readers to point to the new one ( or use the RSS link in the lower right of the page.  That said, the old feed should redirect to the FeedBurner link so there really shouldn’t be any problems.

MxMo XXXIV: Spice – Hess House Bitters

Posted by Reese On December - 14 - 2008

MxMo LogoThe topic of this month’s Mixology Monday is Spice and Craig over at Tiki Drinks and Indigo Firmaments is kind enough to host this shindig.  Let’s not beat around the bush, cocktails are amazingly tasty, but like food some times they need a bit of spice to make them truly incredible.  Cocktail bitters provide that bit of spice.  We all know and likely have on our shelves many of the commercially available varieties like Angostura, Peychaud’s, Fee Brothers, etc.   However, like lots of commercially available products, those that you can make at home can be even better than what can be purchased.  Robert Hess, AKA Drinkboy, in his search for a replacement for the long gone Abbott’s Bitters created Hess House Bitters.  Robert says that his bitters “missed that mark, but was still pretty good.”  I’d have to say that I agree completely they are very good.  So on to the making.  The recipe I used is a combination of Robert’s original post on The Webtender Forums and his later post on the Drinkboy MSN group.

House Bitters

8 cups rye (Old Overholt)
3 tsp dried gentian
1 cup ginger (julienne)
1/4 cup whole cloves
6 Tbs cardamom pods (cracked)
8 whole star anise
16 sticks cinnamon
4.5 cups Water
1.5 cups Sugar

• Place all ingredients, except for the sugar and water, into a large mason
jar and seal. Store for 2 weeks, shaking the jar once a day.
• Strain the liquids/solids mixture through cheesecloth. Squeeze hard to
extract as much juice into the reserved liquid as possible.
• Place the dry ingredients into a saucepan and add the water. Bring to a
boil, and then turn the heat down and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.
• Allow to cool completely, then pour the water and solid mixture into another
mason jar. Store for 1 week, shaking the jar once a day.
• Strain the water mixture through cheesecloth. Discard the solid ingredients,
and add the water to the previously reserved alcohol.
• Put the sugar into a small non-stick skillet and stirring constantly over a
medium-high heat, allow the sugar to melt and then turn to a rich brown color.
Quickly remove from heat and allow the melted sugar to cool for a couple of
• With the sugar still slightly warm, pour it into the water and alcohol
mixture. It will probably crystallize at this point, but with continued
stirring it will eventually dissolve.
• Allow this mixture to rest for a couple of days, then skim off anything that
rises to the surface, and gently pour (or siphon) the clear liquid from the
top into another container, trying to avoid as much of the sediment on the
bottom as possible.
• Measure the amount of liquid you now have, and add half that same amount of

Homemade Hess House Bitters

The only ingredient that was a bit hard to locate was gentian (the bittering agent).  After a bit of asking around I found a local spice/herbology shop that had it on hand.  Ingredients in hand I was on my way.

Homemade Bitters Marinating

The initial steeping time went quickly and the smell that emanated from the jar was incredible.  You could really smell the cardamom and ginger going to work on the rye.

Hess House Bitters

After nearly burning the sugar and filtering the finished bitters they were ready for bottling.  A word on the sugar, take it very slowly and remember that your pan will retain some heat so take them off the heat slightly before you think they’re done.  As soon as you pour the sugar into the cold liquid they solidify but some heavy shaking will dissolve them in no time.  As you can see from the image above I ended up with about 2.5 liters of finished bitters.  If anyone would like to try some please drop me an email I’d be happy to send you some.

Whiskey Sour with Hess House Bitters

The finished bitters have a wonderful spicy flavor full of cinnamon, cardamom and ginger.  The anise and cloves are certainly present but not as forward as the other flavors.  The nearly burnt sugar provides a nice sweetness and carmel flavor.  Finally the bitterness is just where you want it to be.  My favorite use thus far has been in a whiskey sour.  I had a great time making these bitters and have grand plans for making more, which as you can see above started with a batch of Hell Fire bitters, but I’ll save those for another post.

[Edit: 2008-12-15 – Added MxMo Logo]

The Martinez

Posted by Reese On December - 14 - 2008

Said to be the forefather of the Martini, the Martinez takes the cocktail in a sweeter direction employing sweet vermouth, gin, maraschino and bitters.  The cocktail originated in the late 1800’s and there are a few versions of the tale of its origination.  The first claims that Jerry Thomas created the cocktail for a man destined to Martinez, California.  The second, coming from Martinez, CA itself, claims that a prospector entered a local bar and purchased a bottle of spirits.  Rather than asking for change he asked for a new cocktail created on the spot for him.  The final story claims that a man named Martinez created the cocktail by combining gin and sweet vermouth.  Whatever story is correct we do know that the cocktail was first in print in OH Byron’s book “The Modern Bartender’s Guide” published in 1884.  However, the more well known recipe comes from Jerry Thomas in 1887.  This recipe is where I’ll start my explorations this week.

Jerry Thomas' Martinez Cocktail.

(Use small bar-glass.)

Take 1 dash of Boker's bitters.
2 dashes of Maraschino.
1 pony of Old Tom gin.
1 wine-glass of Vermouth.
2 small lumps of ice. 
Shake up thoroughly, and strain into a large cocktail glass.
Put a quarter of a slice of lemon in the glass, and serve.
If the guest prefers it very sweet, add two dashes of gum syrup.

Thanks to Darcy at The Art of Drink for the recipe.

Homemade Irish Cream – Bottled Awesome

Posted by Reese On December - 13 - 2008

Making homemade Irish Cream is a yearly holiday tradition for me.  I’ve been making it for about 6 to 7 years and my friends and family have come to expect their yearly supply.  This year marked my highest production year, but as always I had a great time making it and have an even better time sampling it.  My recipe came from a close family friend Ann Mahony whose is as Irish as you can get and as such is pretty much an expert.

Annie's Irish Cream
1 3/4 Cups Irish Whiskey (Jameson's)
14 oz Sweetened Condensed Milk (one can)
1 Cup Whipping Cream
4 Eggs (or equivalent egg beaters)
2 Tbsp Chocolate Syrup
2 tsp Instant Coffee
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1/2 tsp Almond Extract
1) In a blender blend all ingredients until smooth.
2) Store in a refrigerator for up to 1 month.
This recipe yields about 5 cups of Irish Cream.

Irish Cream Ingredients

Some comments on the ingredients and directions.  As you can see from the picture above I use real eggs rather than egg beaters.  I think the final flavor and texture is better.  However, if you are at all concerned about the possibility of salmonella from eggs then by all means use the pasteurized egg beaters, the finished product is still wonderful.  I use dark chocolate syrup.  It gives a richer more chocolaty flavor.  Finally, the process.  If you’re going to make one batch, then certainly the blender is your best and easiest option.  If you’re making more (12 batches in my case) then I’d suggest you try my method.  Combine the ingredients for up to four batches in a large stock pot.  Then use a stick blender to combine the ingredients until everything is combined and very smooth.  This year I made 12 batches which yielded about 13.5 liters of Irish Cream.  I figure it should last my friends and family about 2-3 days.

Bottled Irish Cream

In case you’re interested the bottles I use are one liter swing top glass bottles from eBottles.  These bottles work particularly well because they seal tightly and can be cleaned and reused.

But, I’m guessing you’re not as interested in the bottles as much as the contents, so how about a side by side comparison?

Left: Baileys, Right: Homemade Irish Cream

Left: Baileys, Right: Homemade Irish Cream


The smell is somewhat non-distinct and has a bit of an alcohol bite.  The flavor is very creamy and a little over sweet for my taste.  It’s also very homogeneous.  You don’t get any specific flavors coming through, just the standard Baileys flavor you’d expect.  The after taste is still quite sweet and the creaminess coats your tongue for quite some time.


In the smell the coffee comes through in a very pleasant way.  The flavor is still creamy and sweet, although less sweet than the Baileys.  The coffee and chocolate flavors are quite distinct and add nicely to the overall flavor profile.  In the after taste you get a bit of the almond extract coming through and the coffee flavor lingers, though neither in a bad way.  The homemade Irish Cream also doesn’t coat your tongue as much as the Baileys.


If you’re looking for a shelf stable Irish Cream that is good for mixing then I would suggest the Baileys.  Although, I’d suggest you cut the Baileys with something, either a bit of water from shaking it with ice, or coffee or add it to a cocktail.  The homemade Irish Cream on the other hand is great for both mixing and sipping alone.  There is no need to cut this Irish Cream with anything and since it needs to be kept refrigerated it is ready at the perfect temperature any time.  Overall the homemade Irish Cream is well worth the additional effort and is a great item to have in your fridge over the holidays.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this week of Irish Cream.  I certainly have.  And a special thanks to Ann Mahony for the wonderful Irish Cream recipe.  I plan to making it each year well in to the future.