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Archive for March, 2009

Irish Coffee

Posted by Reese On March - 15 - 2009

I’ve enjoyed my week off and my eyes are nearly fully healed so I’m ready to dive back in to cocktail hacking.  Since this Tuesday is St. Patrick’s Day it seemed only logical that I had to do an Ireland themed cocktail of some kind for this week.  But what to choose?  I already covered Irish Cream a while back, so that wasn’t a good option.  I could certainly go with the bar favorite the Irish Car Bomb but, as you well know, I’m not a huge beer fan.  Although I don’t hate Irish Car Bombs, I wasn’t feeling it for this week.  It’s early spring so still a bit cold thus it seemed a hot cocktail would fit well.  There was an obvious choice.  The classic Irish Coffee.

Picture courtesy of Ilco on sxc.hu

Picture courtesy of Ilco on sxc.hu

Now, I’ll admit to you.  I don’t generally like coffee.  Irish Coffee I think might be the exception though.  How can you not like sweetened coffee with whiskey and cream?  It’s like a hot beverage from heaven.  There is going to be a bit of a learning curve though as I really don’t even know how to make a good cup of coffee.  Oh well, certain sacrifices must be made in the name of science.

As has become my tradition I’m going to start with the Joy of Mixology recipe.  Regan explains that the Irish Coffee was created by Joe Sheridan, a bartender at Shannon Airport in Ireland, in the 1940s.  The drink really started to catch on when it was brought back to California by a reporter.  The Buena Vista in San Francisco was the Irish Coffee’s first landing in the US.  They now claim to sell over 1,500 per day.

Irish Coffee (Joy of Mixology)
2 oz Irish Whiskey
4-5 oz Hot Coffee
Simple Syrup to Taste
Whipped Cream
1) Build in an Irish Coffee glass.
2) Float whipped cream on top.

Lemon Drop – Mmmm…Lemony

Posted by Reese On March - 11 - 2009

Let me start with a sincere apology for the delay in wrapping up the Lemon Drop.  Early in the weekend I decided I wanted to experiment with a couple things I hadn’t had a chance to.  In addition, I decided I was going to not feature a cocktail this week.  So, that delayed this wrap-up.

Enough of that.  Let’s talk cocktail.  I started the week wanting to feature another vodka cocktail and immediately thought of the Lemon Drop as a good candidate.  That was certainly not a bad choice.  I’ve truly enjoyed playing with this cocktail this week, although sadly I don’t feel that we’ve really covered a “true” vodka cocktail with this one.  Sure, it uses vodka, but it’s a flavored vodka.  So, I’ll be back to vodka soon I feel.

Lemon Drop Cocktail

My starting recipe, like most times, was Regan’s (2 oz Citrus Vodka, 1 oz Lemon Juice, 1/2 oz Simple Syrup) and it was great.  There’s a wonderful lemon punch that’s “lemontastic” as I wrote in my tasting notes.  There is a great balance of sour and sweet.  Overall a very drinkable cocktail.  Having tried the classic though I noticed that Gary briefly mentions a modification to give the drink more depth of flavor.  Naturally I had to try it.

He says that swapping Cointreau for the simple syrup is the way to go.  How much?  No mention of the proportions.  Experimentation called to me and I started with a simple one for one swap.  The resulting drink was okay, but much less sweet than the classic.  Generally not what I was looking for.  So, for the next go-round I upped the Cointreau to 1 oz.

This was more like what I was wanting.  The drink was sweeter, coming closer to that nice sweet/sour balance achieved by the classic recipe.  You can definitely detect the higher alcohol content, but it’s not unpleasant at all.  The depth of flavor is there but I really don’t think it’s hugely better than the classic recipe.  Plus, the lemon-ness of the drink is slightly muted by the flavor of the Cointreau.  I’d say give it a go if you’re looking for something different, but the classic recipe will remain my favorite.

I decided to try one other variation this week while I was experimenting, the one from Difford’s guide.  Difford calls for 2 oz Citrus Vodka, 1 oz Cointreau, 3/4 oz Lemon Juice, 1/2 oz Rich Syrup (2:1 Sugar:Water).  This recipe produces a tremendously sweet cocktail.  Overly so, in my opinion.  Also you get less lemon, which as with the Regan-mod recipe isn’t really what I’m looking for.  Not a huge surprise since if you drop the syrup and up the lemon you get right back to the Regan-mod all over again.

So what’s the final verdict?  The Lemon Drop is good.  Not terribly complex, very simple to make and perfect for people who are looking for a drink without a very boozy flavor.  I’d make this cocktail again.  It’s refreshing and easy.  Just what you’re looking for on a hot summer afternoon.  If you’ve been reading Cocktail Hacker for a while you may note that these comments are similar to the ones I gave for the Tom Collins. If you compare the recipes side by side you’ll notice an interesting similarity.  A Lemon Drop is simply a Vodka Collins minus the sparkling water.  Just a little tid bit to ponder.

Lemon Drop – Vodka Faceoff

Posted by Reese On March - 5 - 2009

This week we’re presented with another cocktail that calls for citrus flavored vodka, but is it really worth it?  I decided to do another side by side comparison, like I did with the Cosmopolitan, and see if I can discern the difference.  For my tests I used Ketel One Citroen and Tito’s Handmade.

Vodka Face Off

The first thing I noticed, and it was very obvious, was the increased lemon smell of the cocktail with the Ketel One.  Once you start sipping that additional lemon is even more apparent.  I also found the lemon flavor to be deeper and more complex.  My guess is that this additional depth of flavor likely comes from oils in the fruit’s peel that you simply don’t get with regular vodka.

Now, all of that said, I need to point out that the cocktail with Tito’s was still damn tasty.  I would have happily drink them never knowing that they lack the complexity of a drink made with citrus vodka.  however, now that I’ve tried them side by side I know I’d be able to detect the lacking flavor.  If you only have regular vodka on hand, go ahead and mix one up.  You’ll be pleased.  However, if this becomes a regular cocktail for you, you owe it to yourself to pick up a bottle of citrus vodka.

Lemon Drop

Posted by Reese On March - 2 - 2009

Fridge Fruit

I haven’t spent much time covering vodka cocktails as yet.  Some of my fellow cocktail enthusiasts are vehemently opposed to vodka and while I can’t say I fall in to that category, I will say I don’t find myself reaching for it particularly often.  Which is particularly odd when you consider that I have a lot of vodka in my collection.  Fifteen bottles at my last count.

My problem with regard to vodka in cocktails is that vodka rarely brings much to the party.  A good vodka is typically characterized by it’s abject lack of flavor.  There are people that will claim you can pick up subtle flavors, and I wouldn’t disagree with that, but overall the goal is to make a spirit that is so smooth it’s nearly undetectable.

That doesn’t give us a ton to work with in the way of flavor blending.  If you have a spirit that brings nothing then your other ingredients have to bear the weight of the cocktail as a whole.  In the case of the Cosmopolitan this fell on the cranberry juice, cointreau and lime juice.  This week we’re going to explore another vodka cocktail that has gained considerable popularity, the Lemon Drop.

Lemon Drop (Joy of Mixology)
2 oz Citrus Vodka
1 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Simple Syrup
Lemon Wedge for Garnish
1) Combine ingredient in a shaker with ice
2) Shake until well chilled
3) Strain in to a chilled cocktail glass

One thing this cocktail, like the Cosmo, has going for it is the use of citrus vodka.  Although, my concern is that, with this amount of lemon juice the citrus vodka may not make much difference.  Like I did with the Cosmo I’ll be sure to try it with citrus vodka and regular and let you know my thoughts.

This cocktail comes at the perfect time for me.  My parents recently went out of town for a few weeks and asked that I clean out their fridge and take anything that I’d eat.  One of the many things I ended up with was enough citrus fruit to make a ton of cocktails.  Specifically there was a whole bag of lemons to be had and have them I do.  In fact, the picture you see above is from my citrus drawer in my fridge circa last night.  Going to be a good week.