Cocktail Hacker

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Archive for April, 2009


Posted by Reese On April - 19 - 2009

I’ve been wanting to cover another tequila cocktail here on CH and this weekend I made it my mission to find that cocktail.  I’d heard tale of a cocktail that is said to be more prevalent among Mexican locals than the Margarita, the Paloma.  The Paloma is a tall drink (think Collins-ish) made with grapefruit soda, lime and tequila.  Sounds like a winner to me!

Directly translated La Paloma means the dove.  While doves are certainly pretty they aren’t likely the direct inspiration for this cocktail.  Rather I’d guess it was named after the famous song of the same name.  You can listen to a classic version of the song here or a version by Julio Iglesias here.

There are two main variations on the Paloma.  The first, and seemingly more classic, version which is made from grapefruit soda such as Squirt and the second version using fresh grapefruit juice and agave nectar.  I’m going to be testing both out but here’s the classic recipe to get you going.

Paloma ( Cocktails)
2 oz Tequila
1/2 oz Lime Juice
6 oz Grapefruit Soda
Salt for Rimming (Optional)
1) Rim a Collins glass with salt if desired
2) Build the cocktail over ice in the Collins glass

The Last Word – Or is it?

Posted by Reese On April - 18 - 2009

Ok, I’ll admit the tag line on this wrap up post is a little lame, but I couldn’t think of anything better and it certainly won’t be the last words I speak of this cocktail so it is kinda fitting.  In that odd, play on words, sort of way.  I really enjoyed this week’s cocktail.  The recipe that I found nearly everywhere I looked (equal parts of Gin, Green Chartreuse, Maraschino and Lime Juice) was quite tasty albeit a bit too sweet for my palate.  The Chartreuse gives it a very nice herbal background while the lime juice keeps it citrusy.

The Last Word

I opted for Plymouth gin when mixing this week and although that certainly wasn’t a bad choice I feel that the stronger flavors overwhelmed this lighter gin.  Going forward I’d mix this with a gin with slightly more backbone, like Junipero.  To attempt to correct the over sweet flavor I took the advice of Michael Dietsch from A Dash of Bitters and altered the recipe slightly by increasing the gin and decreasing the maraschino.  This resulted in a cocktail that was even more pleasant.

The maraschino flavor was decreased, which was nice in that it allowed the herbal notes of the Chartreuse to come through even more.  As was expected the sweetness decreased, but be aware, this is still a fairly sweet cocktail.  This is definitely my prefered recipe.  I considered tinkering more, but felt that any more changes would result in a new cocktail entirely.

The Last Word (A Dash of Bitters)
1 1/4 oz Gin
1 oz Lime Juice
1 oz Green Chartreuse
3/4 oz Maraschino

Coronal Bitters: Hellfire Evolved

Posted by Reese On April - 17 - 2009

As I mentioned in my MxMo post on the Fire Island Daiquiri I’ve been steeping a new batch of Hellfire Bitters for the past couple weeks.  The recipe I used is the same that I used for my first batch, but I changed it up a bit.  When I made these bitters the first time I used Thai chiles and the resulting bitters were warm, but not scalding hot.  For the Fire Island Daiquiri I used about 4-5 dashes to achieve the level of heat I was after.

Hellfire Bitters Brewing

While this isn’t a bad thing per se, it does present one possible problem.  When you start to use that amount of bitters in a drink you run the risk of having the bitters overpower the other flavor.  Remember, bitters are like cocktail spices.  They should be used in moderation.  So, the obvious solution was to up the heat quotient of the chiles involved.  For this new batch I went with all habaneros.  To give you a frame of reference a jalapeno chile ranks about 2,500 – 8,000 on the Scoville scale.  Thai chiles rank about 50,000 – 100,000.  Habaneros come in at 100,000 – 300,000.  Now we’re talking about serious, not screwing around, levels of heat.  With this modification the recipe is:

Coronal Bitters
18 Habanero Chiles (Quartered)
2 Limes (Cut in Eighths)
2 Tbsp Molasses
1/2 tsp Red Cinchona Bark Powder
16 Allspice Berries (Crushed)
2 Cups 100 Proof Vodka
1) Combine all ingredients in a glass jar
2) Steep for 10 days
3) Strain, filter, then bottle

The resulting bitters are hot.  Seriously, seriously hot.  For my first cocktail with them I mixed up a Fire Island Daiquiri and added a single dash of the bitters.  The heat level was perfect.  So now I have two chile bitters to work with.  One that will add very subtle heat and can be used for those who don’t like spiciness as much and another batch that can be used to add true fire to a cocktail when needed.


Seeing as these bitters are so much hotter than their predecessor I felt a name change was required.  As I mentioned these bitters are crazy hot, like surface of the sun hot.  Or, more geekily, as hot as the Sun’s corona.  Which, for those of you playing along at home runs between 1,000,000 to 3,000,000 degrees Kelvin.

If you haven’t tried making your own bitters yet it’s worth doing.  It really is simpler than it seems on the surface and the results are surprisingly good.

MxMo XXXVIII: The Fire Island Daiquiri

Posted by Reese On April - 13 - 2009

MxMo LogoThis month’s Mixology Monday is being hosted by Tristan at the Wild Drink Blog.  Thanks in advance Tristan!  This month MxMo takes a look at twists on the classics.

In Tristan’s words:

This month’s Mixology Monday is all about twists on classic cocktails, that for one reason or another do an even better job than the drinks upon which they are based.

This could be as simple as a classic Margarita with a dash with a special touch that completes it, or maybe as complicated as a deconstructed Hemingway Daiquiri with a homemade rum foam/caviar/jus/trifle. It might be taking a classic like a Manhattan and using Tequila instead of Bourbon?

Before I get in to the meat of this post I have an admission to make.  I’m a chile head.  There, I’ve said it.  If it’s tasty, chances are I’ve seriously contemplated whether it could be made more tasty with the addition of some kind of chile.  Green chili?  You better believe that’s better with more heat.  Camembert on french bread?  You know what makes that better?  A little peach habanero jam.  So why not cocktails?

I’m not alone in my pondering of fiery libations.  When I decided I wanted to craft my own bitters I started looking for recipes and stumbled upon Charles Baker’s recipe for Hellfire Bitters, kindly posted here by Erik Ellestad.  Now we were starting to talk my language.  I whipped up a batch and have since been applying them, carefully mind you, to some cocktails with varied results.  Check back later this week for my modified recipe and the results.

As for cocktails, I’ve found these bitters work particularly well in a Margarita or in the case of this week a Daiquiri.  The topic of Thursday Drink Night (TDN) this past week was Mount Gay Extra Old and since I seriously love a nice daiquiri I decided that would be the starting point for my submission.  I had something come up and didn’t get a chance to offer my submission on Thursday but it really did turn out tasty and works great for this MxMo, so here you go.

Fire Island Daiquiri

Fire Island Daiquiri
2 oz Rum
1 oz Lime Juice
1/4 oz Simple Syrup
1/4 oz Grenadine
2-3 Dashes of Hellfire Bitters
1) Combine ingredients in a shaker over ice
2) Shake until well chilled (~30 seconds)
3) Strain and serve up or on the rocks

Some quick comments.  First, my original batch of hellfire bitters are a little weaker than I would like so I use more like five dashes.  I’ve got a second batch brewing though that should remedy this problem nicely.  Which brings my to my second point.  If you don’t have hellfire bitters laying around you could easily mix this drink without them.  The grenadine adds a nice subtle fruit flavor and makes the drink nicely colorful (or is that colourful ;).  Third, use whatever rum you’d normally use for a daiquiri.  You certainly know your tastes better than I do.  That said, the Mount Gay Extra Old is crazy delicious and worked wonderfully in this cocktail, albeit a bit extravagent.  Finally, I like this drink served on the rocks as it increases the water content which can mellow the heat if need be.

The Last Word

Posted by Reese On April - 12 - 2009

When I started really getting in to cocktails I started perusing the web for resources and came across Robert Hess‘ video series on Small Screen Network and started devouring them immediately.  I watched all of them and along the way I watched one that really piqued my interest, The Last Word.  Interestingly, it wasn’t the cocktail that immediately grabbed my attention, but rather the advice Robert gave on how to build your home bar.

To summarize, the suggestion was to buy all the ingredients needed to make one drink, then make it over and over again until you had a firm grasp on the cocktail.  I mulled this concept over for a bit.  It really is sage advice.  Rather than building a home bar simply by going out and buying random things, build it one drink at a time.  That way when you’re looking to mix a drink for yourself or your friends you know immediately what you have the ingredients to make and you can offer suggestions as to what they might like.  Yep, that was the route I wanted to take, and thus Cocktail Hacker was born.

Now it’s time to revisit that video and mix up The Last Word.  This is a unique one for me and it’s been on my todo list for quite some time.  But I’ve been a bit hesitant.  This drink calls for Green Chartreuse, an herbal liqueur that I’ve never had before.  Although that’s never stopped me before this particular spirit runs toward the pricey side.  I was worried I’d pick up a bottle and not like it.

Thankfully I can fall back on trustworthy cocktail enthusiasts who have walked this path before me.  I’ve browsed and I’ve not found anything but good reports about Chartreuse, although I’ve heard it can be an acquired taste.  Now sounds like just the right time to do that acquiring.  Robert’s recipe is as good a place as any to start, so let’s get mixing.

The Last Word
1 oz Gin
1 oz Maraschino
1 oz Green Chartreuse
1 oz Lime Juice
1) Combine in a shaker over ice
2) Shake until well chilled
3) Strain in to a chilled cocktail glass