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Archive for October, 2009

Satan’s Whiskers – Sinfully Delicious

Posted by Reese On October - 31 - 2009

Sacrilegious or not this drink is delicious. The color is a lovely pumpkin orange which seems even more appropriate to the season.  The smell starts with the orange followed by light herbal hints from the vermouth.  The flavor is also very orangey with the vermouths playing a strong role.  Even with a bold gin the vermouths are still solidly the base of the flavor.

Satan's Whiskers

On that note picking the right gin needs to be your first priority.  With so many other bold flavors a light gin doesn’t hold up.  I opted for Tanqueray and found its bold juniper flavor to be a great complement.  You certainly want something with a juniper forward flavor.  A citrus flavor would be lost completely to the orange juice and bitters.

The other ingredients are, of course, quite important and I suggest you go with whatever vermouths you like best and good fresh squeezed orange juice.  That leaves the Grand Marnier, which if you making the straight version is exactly what you should use.  However, there is another option, orange curacao for the curled variation.  I tried both and quite frankly I can’t tell the difference.  I think this is due in part to the small quantity used in the drink.  But more to the point, Grand Marnier is simply a top shelf curacao in the same manner that Cointreau is a top shelf triple sec.  So, assuming you’ve got decent curacao the difference between the two options should be negligible.

As for recipe ratios I found Gary Regan’s to be great.  More than that almost all the other recipes I found were nearly identical save for the size.  And size is the only tweak I recommend you make.  With Gary’s original cocktail you only end up with about 2.75 oz of a fairly low strength cocktail.  I suggest you double it.

Satan's Whiskers (Cocktail Hacker)
1 oz Gin
1 oz Dry Vermouth
1 oz Sweet Vermouth
1 oz Orange Juice
1/2 oz Grand Marnier
1 tsp Orange Bitters (~4-5 Dashes)
1) Combine ingredients in a shaker over ice
2) Shake until well chilled
3) Strain into a chilled cocktail glass

Finally, as with some previous cocktails this one works very well with a float of 2-3 oz of Champagne or other sparkling wine.  It gives the drink a nice effervescence and works with the other flavors nicely.  I hope you’ve all had a great Halloween week and that great cocktails were part of the festivities.

Satan’s Whiskers

Posted by Reese On October - 25 - 2009

In honor of Halloween I searched for a somewhat appropriately themed cocktail for this week and decided on Satan’s Whiskers as the drink of choice.  From the initial glimpse it looks damn tasty.  I’ll let you know how it goes!

Satan's Whiskers (Joy of Mixology)
1/2 oz Gin
1/2 oz Dry Vermouth
1/2 oz Sweet Vermouth
1/2 oz Orange Juice
1/4 oz Grand Marnier
Orange Bitters to Taste
1) Combine ingredients in a shaker over ice
2) Shake until well chilled
3) Strain into a chilled cocktail glass

Bloody Mary – I’ll Stick to Mimosas

Posted by Reese On October - 25 - 2009

I came in to this week very excited to shed a fresh light on one of my least favorite cocktails.  It seemed logical.  I hadn’t liked Bloody Marys in the past but I also hadn’t been personally making them and carefully controlling each ingredient.  My excitement buoyed further when I cracked open the bottle of tomato juice and had a small glass.  It was actually pretty good!  My hatred of the stuff had seemed to fade away as my palate aged.

Thrilled with the possibilities I mixed up a Bloody Mary following Gary Regan’s general recipe and including all the “to taste” optional add ons.  I took a couple excited sips and promptly poured out the remaining 3/4 of the drink.  I really didn’t like it.  Disheartened a bit but knowing there must be a solution I looked to your comments for some direction.  Following Drink Snob’s wise suggestion I mixed up a Red Snapper and was fairly pleased.  But this only added to my confusion.  How could it be that I liked the Red Snapper but not the Bloody Mary?  They were nearly identical.

Bloody Mary

Then it hit me.  The horseradish.  That was really the only add on in the Bloody Mary that wasn’t in the Red Snapper that I felt would add a strong enough flavor to change the dynamic of the cocktail markedly.  Problem is, I like horseradish.  You break out the prime rib you best have lots ready.  But in this drink, even though I only used about 1/2 tsp, it was throwing off the flavor enough that I no longer liked the drink.  Feeling that I was at a turning point I mixed up another minus the horseradish and the results were much more favorable.

This was truly a drink I could enjoy, sort of.  My step dad summed it up perfectly for me.  Usually when I have a new drink he and my mom are keen to give it a try.  When I offered to bring over Bloody Marys this week the response was, “Nah.  Thanks though.”  I asked him why and his response rang true.  “I like Bloody Marys, but usually only one and only when there aren’t other options.”  Those comments echo my feelings exactly.  Were I at someone’s home for brunch and they were serving Bloody Marys I’d probably have one.  However, if I’m at a restaurant and there are other brunch cocktail options say a Mimosa or a Screwdriver I’m going to reach for those every time.

If you’re interested in what values I like for the “to taste” ingredients here’s my preferred recipe:

Bloody Mary (Cocktail Hacker)
2 oz Vodka
4 oz Tomato Juice
1/4 oz Lemon Juice
3 Dashes Worcestershire Sauce
2 Dashes Hot Sauce
Heavy Pinch of Kosher Salt
2 Grinds of Black Pepper
Lemon Wedge for Garnish
Celery Stalk for Garnish
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

Danger Chef’s Rimming Salts

Posted by Reese On October - 22 - 2009

Given my love for crafting cocktails I’m sure it will come as no surprise that I also love to cook.  From time to time I take cooking classes at the Cooking School of the Rockies, a local school here in Boulder.  At my last class, a course on the history and use of different kinds of salt put on by Savory Spice Shop, I met Mark Stiltner.  Mark and I chatted for a bit about who we were and what we did, etc.  A few minutes into our conversation I mentioned that in my free time I experimented with cocktails.

Danger Chef Rimming Salts

Mark’s eyes immediately lit up and he began telling me about a new business he was starting.  At that point Mark transformed into his alter ego Danger Chef as he told me all about a line of cocktail rimming salts that he’s producing that combine chile flavors and other natural flavors directly with the salt.  Being a huge chile head I was intrigued.  He then pulled a small sample from his bag and we had a taste.  Mark uses a unique process in creating his salts that allows him to actually coat the salt crystals with the flavor.  While this may not seem all that interesting from my experience attempting to rim with a combo of salt and cayenne pepper I can tell you it’s actually really impressive.

So, following that initial sample we chatted for some more and Mark promised to ship me some samples to review.  I’ve been hoarding those samples for a while now waiting for an appropriate cocktail to feature them with.  I had three salts to sample.  Two Margarita salts – Habanero Pineapple and Jalapeno Lime and one Bloody Mary Salt – Smoked Cayenne.  Seems only appropriate that I should let you all know about these salts during the week I’m experimenting with the Bloody Mary.  The verdict?  Awesome.

Danger Chef Rimming Salts

Habanero Pineapple: Solo – Quite spicy but still very well balanced with a hint of the pineapple fruitiness coming through.  With a Margarita – I absolutely love this flavor combination.  Adding chile bitters to a margarita is one of my favorite twists and these salts offer nearly the same experience.  This salt blend is definitely the hottest of the three I reviewed but also my favorite.

Jalapeno Lime: Solo – Very mild spiciness with the lime flavor present as well.  With a Margarita – This is the mildest of the three heat wise but still a great option for adding a touch of spice and some extra flavor to your cocktails.  This should be the choice if you’re wanting to try adding spice to your cocktails but aren’t a dyed in the wool chile heads like myself.

Smoked Cayenne: Solo – Awesome smokey flavor from the alder wood smoked salt with a great heat level.  With a Bloody Mary – I found that the smokiness really went fantastically well with the flavors of the Bloody Mary.  To make it balance nicely drop your usual levels of salt and hot sauce in your Bloody Mary.  The salt on the rim will fill in.  I think this salt could also go really well in a cocktail with a smokey mezcal.  Sadly I haven’t gotten to give that option a try yet.

Overall, I’m really impressed with these salts.  For a little under $6 each you really can’t go wrong and they’ll add a nice new level of flavor to your cocktails.  You can pick them up at Mark’s site,  Thanks for the samples Mark!

† The product reviewed here was provided to me as a free sample. If you’re wondering what that means check out my sample policy.

Red Snapper – Mary’s Grandma

Posted by Reese On October - 21 - 2009

When I gave my shout out for Bloody Mary recommendations I got some great suggestions.  One, coming from DrinkSnob of Liquor is Quicker, is to try the Red Snapper.  In looking though the Joy of Mixology it seems that the Red Snapper could be thought of as a predecessor of the Bloody Mary.  The primary differences in the recipes are the ratio of juice to vodka and the amount and variety of add-ons.

Red Snapper (Joy of Mixology)
1 1/2 oz Vodka
1 1/2 oz Tomato Juice
2 Dashes Lemon Juice
2 Dashes Worcestershire Sauce
Salt and Cayenne Pepper to Taste
1) Combine ingredients over ice
2) Shake until well chilled
3) Strain into a chilled cocktail glass

I liked this drink for the most part.  It’s by no means my favorite and I can assure you I won’t be ordering it over something like an Aviation.  But, it’s pretty good.  Definitely an ancestor of the Bloody Mary, for the most part the flavor profiles are the same.  With the obvious note that the Red Snapper is a much stronger cocktail.  More thoughts on the two when I wrap up the Bloody Mary later in the week.