Cocktail Hacker

    Hack What You Drink

Archive for December, 2009

Peterson’s Holiday Helper

Posted by Reese On December - 14 - 2009

PetersonsHolidayHelper200I’ll be the first to tell you, holidays are not always my favorite times of the year.  They’re hectic, often filled with awkward interactions, and sometimes downright un-fun.  But, all whining aside, they’re a good time to catch up with friends and family, get in the spirit of giving and generally recognize how good we all have it.   Okay, enough weighing of pros and cons.  You know what makes an occasion, holiday or otherwise, that much better?  Drinks, and good ones to boot.  Valerie Peterson sums it up nicely. “[T]he antidote to holiday stress is, quite simply, to keep good spirits in you.”  Good spirits indeed.

Peterson’s Holiday Helper is a sort of guidebook to get you through the holidays while keeping plenty of spirits in you.  Sure, there are some non-alcoholic tipples mixed in for good measure.  But, that’s not what this book is about.  It’s about new cocktail recipes, classics and intriguing twists on classics that will nicely fit in to your holiday festivities (or infrequent patches of quiet solitude).

Valerie’s book takes you chronologically from Thanksgiving all the way through New Years.  Keep that order only lightly in mind though.  Most of the recipes would be good at any time during the holidays and most of the year for that matter.

There are classics and slightly tweaked classics.  For example the Merry Berry Mojito, the classic Tom and Jerry and the always delicious but nearly ubiquitous mulled cider.  Valerie mixes in, no pun intended, her own new creations as well like the Green Elf, which sounds quite delicious.  I’ve included the recipe below if you’d like to get a head start.  There is even a recipe for making your own homemade coffee liqueur.  Very cool for me since that’s one that I’ve been wanting to experiment with.

Green Elf (Peterson's Holiday Helper)
1 1/2 oz Green Apple Liqueur
1 oz Gin
1/2 oz Lime Juice
3 Dashes Peach Bitters
1) Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice
2) Shake until well chilled
3) Strain into a chilled cocktail glass

To top things off, the book is filled with classic holiday pictures, ads and other mementos of the season that are fairly entertaining unto themselves (sometimes in that point and giggle kind of way).  If you’re looking for a guide to some holiday themed cocktails or a fun gift for a cocktail enthusiast this book is worth checking out.  Cost is $16.95 and I have no doubt you know where to find it should you so desire.

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

Review Week!

Posted by Reese On December - 13 - 2009

Usually I try to fit my product reviews in to the week’s general topic (eg a gin review during the week of a gin cocktail).  That leaves me with great products that don’t get reviewed in a timely manner.  So, since we’re on the eve of a giant gift giving season it seems like an appropriate time to review some products!

Tiki in December – Take That Crappy Weather!

Posted by Reese On December - 12 - 2009

The week here in Colorado was cold with our first day above 30F being Friday (It hovered around 10F the rest of the week).  As I mentioned in the intro post it seemed a perfectly fitting time to celebrate the awesomeness of Tiki drinks and so it was.  I mixed up four cocktails this week and while they all had their differences the one thing they most certainly shared was deliciousness.  All of them truly were great and I’d mix them up again in a heart beat.

I hope this week has provided a bit of motivation for you to explore some Tiki drinks of your own.  If you’d like some more online reference materials here are a handful of sites either loosely or directly related to the awesomeness of good Tiki drinks.  Enjoy!

Tiki in December – The Waikikian

Posted by Reese On December - 11 - 2009

My fourth and final cocktail this week is the Waikikian.  In flipping through Grog Log, this recipe stood out as sounding quite delicious.  After looking a little more carefully and mixing up my first one, I recognized why this cocktail sounded so tasty.  The recipe is very similar to the Mai Tai, which I absolutely love.  There are differences though, and this cocktail is distinct enough that it’s definitely worth giving a try.


The Waikikian is a sweet, but nicely balanced, cocktail.  Interestingly, the lemon in this drink isn’t as overwhelming as it was in some of the other recipes.  Rather, it acted as a perfect foil for the sweetness of the orgeat and curacao.  In blending this drink, I’ve decided that I definitely need a newer and better blender.  Mine doesn’t do well with ice at all.  That said, I don’t think my lack of an awesome blender really hindered this drink much.  In fact, if you don’t have a blender at all, simply use some cracked ice and you’ll end up with an equally good cocktail.

Enough about blender woes, back to the flavor.  Like the Mai Tai, you get an interesting twist from the orgeat.  It’s nutty and sweet but the flavor is quite subtle so you most notice it lingering in the background.  One ingredient that I definitely think is essential to this cocktail is the curacao.  You can really taste the brandy base and I think using triple sec wouldn’t be as delicious.  Overall I really enjoyed this drink and if you’re a Mai Tai fan then you should definitely give it a go.

Waikikian (Grog Log)
1 1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1 oz Curacao
3/4 oz Orgeat
1 1/2 oz Light Rum
1 1/2 oz Dark Rum
1) Combine everything but the dark rum in a blender
2) Add ice and blend
3) Pour into a double old fashioned glass
4) Float the dark rum

Tiki in December – The Wilson

Posted by Reese On December - 10 - 2009

You’ve heard me refer to Rick’s blog Kaiser Penguin in the past.  Most recently I “borrowed” his recipe for falernum with great success.  Well, last week Rick announced a contest offering a signed copy of Beachbum Berry’s newest book for the top three new tiki recipes posted in the comments.  This couldn’t have come at a more opportune time for me!  But, before I get too much further, let me say that Rick’s contest is open to anyone.  So if you have a great tiki drink idea rattling around in your head then put up a comment and enter!

Having never tried making my own cocktail from scratch, let alone a tiki drink, I decided to give it a go.  I spent some time thinking about what I’d like to include.  At first I wanted this drink to be an ass kicker, like the zombie, so I started with high test rums.  After contemplating for a bit longer I decided to keep one high proof rum in the mix but not go for ultimate power, but rather a delicious flavor.  I love peaches, so I knew I wanted to use peach nectar for this drink right from the start.  So, after this bout of thinking I came up with this recipe:

The Wilson (Version 1)
3 oz Peach Nectar
1 oz Wray and Nephew Overproof
1 oz Appleton V/X
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Gosling's Black Seal (Float)

This version was okay but lacking.  It needed more sourness to balance the sweetness of the peach nectar and it needed some complexity of flavor.  The lime juice was easy but I wasn’ t exactly sure how to approach the complexity issue.  I pondered adding some bitters, perhaps Fee’s Old Fashioned or even a bit of my homemade version of Robert Hess’ House Bitters.  Those would certainly work, but didn’t seem tiki enough.  Then it came to me, falernum.  It’s deep, it’s complex, it’s down right magical.  Adding a bit, I had my solution.

The Wilson

The Wilson (Cocktail Hacker)
3 oz Peach Nectar
1 oz Wray and Nephew Overproof
1 oz Appleton V/X
1 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Falernum
1/2 oz Gosling's Black Seal
1) Combine all ingredients in a shaker
2) Shake with ice until well chilled
3) Pour into a chilled highball glass
4) Float the black seal rum

Granted, I’m the proud parent, but I really like this cocktail a great deal.  The peach and falernum give it a great level of sweetness balanced by the lime juice and rum.  The falernum also adds a great complexity that is exactly what I was looking for.  Finally the blend of rums gives this drink a solid punch with a nice flavor.  Naturally I recommend you mix up tons and enjoy!

If you’re wondering about the name think Castaway.  Credit goes to my friend Colton who, amongst other things, seems to be a cocktail naming genius.  Thanks buddy!