Cocktail Hacker

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Archive for October, 2009

Bloody Mary

Posted by Reese On October - 19 - 2009

You remember when you were a kid and you were just learning to swim?  The deep end, even though it was the same pool, even though you could see the bottom was still way scarier than the shallow end.  That’s the sort of feeling I’m getting this week.  For as long as I can remember I’ve had a very tenuous relationship with tomato juice.  My grandparents drank it with nearly every breakfast and from time to time I’d have a glass, but I never much liked it as a kid.  Later on I remember not disliking it so much as simply not really having strong feelings one way or the other.

Queue college and my coming of drinking age.  My friends and family really liked Bloody Marys so naturally I tried them from time to time.  I never really liked them though.  Those experiences ended with me stopping my sampling completely.  Thinking back it’s been at least five years since I tried my last Bloody Mary and I think it’s about time I got to the bottom of things.  Problem is Bloody Marys are very much like Margaritas in that everyone who makes them has a different favorite recipe.  Let’s start with a look at The Joy of Mixology recipe.

Bloody Mary (Joy of Mixology)
2 oz Vodka
4 oz Tomato Juice
Lemon Juice to Taste
Black Pepper to Taste
Salt or Celery Salt to Taste
Horseradish to Taste
Worcestershire Sauce to Taste
Hot Sauce to Taste
Lemon Wedge for Garnish
Celery Stick for Garnish
1) Combine ingredients in an ice filled shaker
2) Shake and strain into an ice filled Collins glass
3) Garnish

Now you see where I’m running into a bit of a problem.  There are six ingredients in that recipe that are listed as “to Taste”.  That introduces a near infinite amount of variability.  So, I’m calling out to all of you.  I need your help in finding recipes that are solid starting points.  If you’ve got any tips shoot them my way!

Cheat Sheets!

Posted by Reese On October - 16 - 2009

So I’ve finally gotten current on a project that I started almost a year ago.  I’ve condensed all of my favorite recipes from each cocktail I’ve featured here and grouped them into printable cheat sheets.  My goal is to keep these up to date so we can all use them for a quick reference when mixing drinks.  They’re available in the pages section at the top left of the site or from right here.

If you have any suggestions on what I can to make these cheat sheets better please let me know.

The Evolution of the Cocktail – Phylogeny Revisited

Posted by Reese On October - 13 - 2009

As you may recall, a while back I pointed you to a very cool post about the phylogeny of cocktails on Jim Harriman’s site Well, Jim is back with a phylogenetic tree of 100 cocktails.  This time in awesome full color poster format!


Jim was nice enough to mail me one of the posters which is currently unrolling awaiting a nice framing and hanging in my home office.  Each cocktail’s proximity to its neighbors shows the closeness of their “genes” or base ingredients.  The cocktails are further grouped and colored based on their family (eg vodka, gin, tequila, etc).

For those of us cocktail geeks the poster’s breakdown doesn’t reveal any earth shattering knowledge, but it is none the less interesting to peruse.  For example, once you look at the ingredients it makes perfect sense that a Screaming Orgasm and a Mudslide should be placed right next to each other.  After all they do share the same genes.  Namely vodka, kahlua and Bailey’s Irish cream.

At 24″ x 36″ the posters are standard size and nicely finished.  If you’re interested in picking up one or ten for yourself (and your nerdy drinking buddies) head over to Jim’s site.  The posters are $10 each plus $5 shipping for the first and free for any number after that.

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

Begin Laziness in 3…2…1…

Posted by Reese On October - 11 - 2009

Ok, folks.  I’m taking this week off.  I’ll be gone on vacation for the second half of the week so I didn’t feel it right to half ass a cocktail review.  I’ll be back in full force next week though so please join me then.

French Squirrel – Even More Pink!

Posted by Reese On October - 10 - 2009

This week’s drink has been an interesting change from my usual cocktail hacking experience.  Generally I make up my list of recipes, usually at least five and experiment with the various ratios until I find something that I like.  Since Gary Regan created this cocktail there really aren’t any other recipes for it out there.  That said, there was still enough for me to play with to keep me entertained.

French Squirrel

First, let’s briefly talk about creme de noyau(x).  The only kind I could find in this area, and I hit the three best local liquor stores looking, is Hiram Walker’s Creme de Noyaux (CdN).  Having sampled it I’m fairly pleased, but then again I have nothing to compare it to.  From my poking around I’ve found that CdN was originally flavored and colored from the steeping of stone fruit pits (cherry, apricot, plum, etc).  In modern versions the color is added and the flavor comes primarily from almonds and apricot kernels, very similar to amaretto.

Due to this similarity I was expecting that would carry though to the flavor and to some degree it does.  CdN has a lighter nut flavor than amaretto and lacks some of the complexity.  I didn’t really find that to be an issue in this drink though.  Since the CdN is included in this recipe primarily in a sweetening role the brandy or cognac you choose becomes the real star.

I played with the ratios a bit.  At first I felt the drink wasn’t sweet enough for my tastes so I bumped the CdN up to 3/4 oz leaving all the remaining measures (2 oz brandy, 1/2 oz lemon juice) the same.  The result was a drink that I ended up feeling was actually too sweet which pushed me right back to Gary’s original formulation.  The level of sourness was perfect for me and I decided not to mess with that.  Finally, before I let you go, I’d recommend using a good brandy, but not something incredible.  Save the incredible brandy or cognac for sipping.  While some of the subtle flavors of the spirit will come through some of the others will be masked.  So, use something you like, but not your expensive stuff and you’ll be very happy.

This is a tasty drink.  If you’re looking for something new to try it’s well worth your time.  I’m very interested to hear if there are creme de noyauxs out there that are truly amazing.  If you know of one please let me know.  Or, for that matter, if you have a recipe to make your own I’d love to know that too.

French Squirrel