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Archive for 2010

Hot Toddy – Deeply Warming

Posted by Reese On December - 5 - 2010

After mixing up Hot Toddies for three weeks I’d like to share with you some life changing epiphanies I’ve had.  Problem is, I haven’t had any.  I’m still not head over heals in love with hot drinks, though the Hot Toddy definitely got me another baby step closer to liking them.  Nothing earth moving there.  I can’t share any incredible recipes that I’ve found, either.  My main take away from my experiments is a really simple one.  Next time it’s cold out and I’m looking for a nice relaxer I’m going to make myself a toddy, sit in front of the fire and decompress.  I can hear a not small subset of you saying “well, duh”.

Hot Toddy

As for the myriad toddy recipes out there, I again have some plain yet I hope good advice.  You know that toddy recipe you’ve been mixing up for years and really love?  That’s the one you should keep mixing up.  Not because there aren’t possibly different, super interesting options out there.  No, it’s not that at all.  You should keep mixing that tried and true recipe because of all the relaxation and warming it’s brought you in the past.  It’s those good memories that will make your recipe awesome every time you make it.

Some tips?  Okay, here you go.  As for brown liquor, pick whatever you’re partial to at the time.  I’ve tried brandy, rum and whiskey and can say they’re all good.  They each have their own strengths and whichever you’re partial to in other cocktails will likely be the one you’ll enjoy most in a toddy.  In the realm of spices the sky truly is the limit.  That said, here are the ones I find particularly good: allspice (2-3 berries), cinnamon (a stick), cloves (3-4), nutmeg (a couple grates on top), and, as Greg suggested on my intro, a star anise adds nice flavor and looks really stunning in the glass.  For sweetening I’d stick with honey.  I contemplated maple syrup and agave nectar and while both would probably be pretty tasty I felt that their flavors might contrast the spices too much.  Finally a bit of citrus is essential.  I like both lemon and orange.  The lemon is going to add a brighter note to the drink where orange will add a smoother, warmer note.  Go with what you have on hand and make sure to zest them right over the drink to get those oils mixed in as well.

So, there you have it.  As I said at the start, no incredible new discoveries here.  Just an introduction to a relaxing drink as we descend into the depths of winter.  Stay warm my friends.

Review – Avión Silver Tequila

Posted by Reese On December - 2 - 2010

Avion Silver TequilaIt seems the time is coming for premium vodka to step aside as the hip alcohol of choice.  I’ve received a few top shelf tequilas in the preceding months and they’ve been good, really good.  Tequila Avión, the newest sample to cross my doorstep, is no different.  Avión is a highland tequila from the high mountains of Jalisco.  After a long slow roasting process the agave is distilled in a hybrid stainless steel and copper pot still.  The distillate is then passed through a filtration process that the makers have deemed “ultra slow filtration”.  After the filtration process, which is said to take 10 times as long as traditional filtration, the result is Avión Silver Tequila.

But enough with the marketing spiel; how about we discuss what the tequila’s really like.  In a word, it’s great.  The aroma is of crisp agave.  The flavor follows suit with agave, subtle vegetal notes and a light sweetness.  Finally, in the finish you get more of that nice agave.  Overall the tequila is tremendously smooth but maintains its agave character throughout.  Very much looking forward to sampling this one in a Margarita.  If you’re looking for a super premium tequila this holiday season you definitely won’t go wrong with a bottle of Avión.

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

Hot Toddy on Raising the Bar

Posted by Reese On December - 1 - 2010

Serendipitous timing, I should think.  There is a video on Raising the Bar with Jamie Boudreau over at Small Screen Network right now featuring a Blue Blazer Style Hot Toddy.  Pretty cool technique.  I’ve not mustered the courage to give it a go yet.  Fiery hands sound bad.  Any of you brave enough?

Hot Toddy

Posted by Reese On November - 14 - 2010

If you’ve been keeping up with this blog for a while you’ll no doubt know that hot drinks aren’t usually my favorite thing.  However, call it getting old or a change of heart or whatever you like, this week I was drawn to feature a hot drink.  It’s one that’s almost universally known, but I wonder how many people have actually tried one.  I know I haven’t.  But, let’s mix us up some Hot Toddies and see if we can’t change that.

Hot Toddy (Joy of Mixology)
3 Whole Cloves
1 Cinnamon Stick
1 tsp Honey
4-5 oz Boiling Water
2 oz Whiskey, Brandy or Dark Rum
Freshly Grated Nutmeg or Allspice
Lemon Twist
1) Place cloves, cinnamon and honey in a coffee cup
2) Add the boiling water and stir to dissolve honey
3) Allow to steep for 3-4 minutes
4) Add the liquor and stir to combine
5) Dust the top with nutmeg or allspice
6) Garnish with a lemon twist

Regan mentions that there is nearly endless possibilities for variation with this cocktail and it’s easy to see why.  I’m looking forward to digging my heals in and hopefully changing my viewpoint on hot drinks forever after.  Any great Toddy recipes you’d care to share?

Mamie Taylor – Refreshing as a Scottish Day

Posted by Reese On November - 13 - 2010

Imagine a perfect day in Scotland.  The mist is clearing off the rolling green hills, the sun is breaking through the clouds, it’s going to be a fantastic day.  You spend the day fishing, or shopping, or golfing, or whatever floats your boat.  Come middle of the afternoon it’s warm and you’re ready for a refreshing cocktail to start your evening off right.  Would said cocktail include Scotch, ginger beer and lime?  No?  Well, might I suggest that it should.  The reason I say this is easy, the Mamie Taylor, which I’ve taken my sweet time testing, is refreshing and delicious.

Mamie Taylor

But, it’s more than that.  It’s a combination of flavors that I wouldn’t have ever thought would go well together.  However, in this mix, they’re really harmonious and play off each other very well.  Let’s start our discussion with the spirit in this cocktail.  Scotch is an interesting beast when it comes time to mix up a cocktail.  There are so many options, each with it’s own nuances and particularities, which is why it makes sense to reach for a blend in most cocktail cases.  With a blend you’re going to get, obviously, a blend of the flavors that make up the range of Scotch offerings.  For me I reached for Johnnie Walker Black Label.  It had the character I was looking for and the flavor worked really well in this drink.  I tried Famous Grouse as well, but wasn’t as impressed.

There was something nagging on my mind though as I sipped my Mamie Taylor with Black Label.  I wished it had just a touch of smoke.  Simple enough I thought, I’ll make my next one with Ardmore and that should fix the problem.  Not so.  The resulting cocktail wasn’t undrinkable, but I jotted down in my notes one word that sums it up nicely.  The drink was “funky.”  Back to the drawing board and finally it came to me.  I pulled down my bottle of Laphroaig Cask Strength and added 1/4 oz to the mix, making up the rest of the 2 oz with Black Label.  It was one of those light bulb moments.  The subtle smoke I was hoping for was there, but not overpowering or off-putting.

Now I moved on to the ginger beer.  I tried a few different options and found that they are all pretty tasty.  This week I’ve primarily been using Gosling’s ginger beer and found that it’s strong ginger punch was the other key to this drink.  I’d say you can definitely go with either a ginger ale or ginger beer, but make certain that it’s got a good ginger component.  Regular soft-drink style ginger ale isn’t the right choice here.  It’ll be smothered by the Scotch.

As for lime juice I have two comments.  One, and I hope I don’t have to tell you this, use fresh.  Two, I bumped it up to 1 oz to add more sourness.  If you’ve made your own ginger beer from the recipe I tried then this won’t be necessary as you’ll have a bit more sourness going in.

Last but not least, I was just reading an article about bitters in a recent issue of Imbibe Magazine.  It was penned by cocktail master Paul Clarke and he mentioned something I would never have thought of (seems I need to do some more thinking about cocktails).  Per Paul, orange bitters work really well with the flavors of Scotch.  So, wanting to test that theory, I tossed a couple dashes in my last Mamie Taylor (the one I’m sipping right now, in fact).  And, I can tell you Mr. Clarke is absolutely right.  The flavor of the bitters plays extremely well with the scotch, ginger and lime and the bitterness further rounds out the balance of the cocktail.  Definitely a worthy addition.

Mamie Taylor (Cocktail Hacker)
1 3/4 oz Johnnie Walker Black Label
1/4 oz Laphroaig Cask Strength
1 oz Lime Juice
6 oz Ginger Beer
2 Dashes Orange Bitters
1) Combine the Scotch, lime juice and bittes over ice
2) Fill with ginger ale
3) Garnish with a lime wedge

With that I’ll come to an end.  Sadly, I’m guessing that, like me, it’s not summer in Scotland for you.  But there’s good news.  You can still mix up a Mamie Taylor and enjoy a refreshing, delicious cocktail.  Cold, fall weather be damned.  Enjoy, my friends.