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Archive for March, 2011

Review – Vision Vodka

Posted by Reese On March - 29 - 2011

Vision VodkaSome might say that the premium vodka boom is coming to an end making way for other trends like premium tequila and craft cocktails.  If my recent samples say anything, it’s that this belief is completely untrue.  This week I’m offering up my review of Vision vodka.

The bottle design and labeling are very minimal and speak of its desired luxury status.  However, I have a gripe about their award winning bottle design.  The cork is a giant pain in the ass to get out.  Since it’s sunken into the bottle and completely smooth you have a hard time getting a hold on it to get it out.  But enough whining, how about the vodka.

Distilled in Oregon from wheat, Vision vodka has a very clean flavor with subtle notes of grain.  The aftertaste is basically non-existent and I found it to have very little burn.  I’m chalking this up to their five-times (quintuple) filtering process.  Overall it’s a tasty vodka.  Currently Vision is only available at bars and retailers in the NYC area or for order online.  A 750ml will set you back $30.

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


Spirited Hot Chocolate – You Can’t Go Wrong

Posted by Reese On March - 28 - 2011

Every time I come up with a good spirit to mix with hot chocolate I feel like I get ideas for two more.  Certainly, this is not what one would consider a bad thing by any means, but it’s making me want to drink hot chocolate with booze for hours on end.  And, sadly, that will just end with me passed out on the floor covered in hot chocolate.  Funny, yes.  Optimal, no.  So, on that note I limited my exploration to four more spirits this go-round and I’m packing the others away for next winter.

Spiked Hot Chocolate

Green Chartreuse – I have to say, I wouldn’t have thought of this one on my own.  However, at the suggestion of commenter Evan, I gave it a go.  Wow, was that ever a good call!  The herbal flavor blends into the background in a very harmonious way.  Despite the liqueur blending in really well you still get a solid punch from the 110 proof.  Awesome suggestion, definitely worth a try.

Reposado Tequila – Another commenter suggestion, coming from Frederic this time.  Another solid idea, too.  This combo is much better than I was expecting it to be.  You get the woody/earthy flavors of the tequila playing off the sweetness and chocolate bitterness.  I think this could work with a blanco tequila as well, but you’d lose some of the mellowness and woody flavors.

Grand Marnier – Orange and chocolate is another of those all time great flavor combinations and the hot chocolate rendition definitely follows that trend.  In addition to the orange flavor you get a the flavors of the brandy base coming through as well.  While I think triple sec would work great too, you’d lack some of the depth and complexity of a curacao.  Definitely one of my favorites.

Coffee Liqueur – Awesome, as I knew it would be.  The coffee flavor is second to the chocolate , unlike a coffee mocha.  While this is a classic and might go unnoticed, that would be a mistake.  This is a classic for a reason.

A final note from my tastings.  In my previous post I suggested you use 1 oz of spirit for an 8 oz mug of hot chocolate, I’m revising that to 1 1/2 oz to 2 oz.  The flavor you get from 1 oz of spirit has a hard time overcoming the flavors inherent to the chocolate.  Plus, let’s face it, a cocktail simply isn’t a cocktail with only 1 oz of spirit.

So, where does all of this testing leave us?  I’d say we’ve barely scratched the surface of what you could mix into a delicious cup of hot chocolate.  Some ideas currently bopping around my head: Creme Yvette, all manner of fruit liqueurs, scotch, bourbon, flavored vodkas, cinnamon schnapps (especially Original Cinn), ginger liqueur, amaretto, chocolate liqueur…really, the list could just go on for pages.  Suffice it to say, if you mix something tasty with hot chocolate there’s a solid chance that the resulting drink will also be tasty.

Review – iX MiXer

Posted by Reese On March - 24 - 2011

iX MiXerHave you ever woken up after a night of drinking and simply felt like calling in dead for the day.  Your head aches, your stomach is a bit sideways, the stupid sun is way too bright, etc.  I think most of us can relate to the feeling.  Now, myself, being a consumer of only the finest spirits and only in moderation never experiences such mornings.  Or, better put, I don’t readily admit to it.  The good news is there are lots and lots of cures for hangovers.  Heck, I’ve even detailed the subject in a previous post.  Problem is, all of these remedies concern treating the aftereffects of a hangover.  Wouldn’t it be much simpler and less painful to stop the problem from happening in the first place?  And for those of you asking the question “Couldn’t you just not drink?”, the answer is no.  Sit back down.

The problem is, ethanol is a diuretic.  It decreases the porosity of the kidneys which causes you to expel water that would generally be absorbed back into the bloodstream.  Basically, alcohol makes you pee, which can make you dehydrated.  Can’t fight that.  However, four friends from my home state have come up with a simple solution, mix your drinks with an electrolyte enhanced mixer.  I’m not talking Gatorade here, either.  Enter iX MiXer.  iX is a sparkling mixer made from all natural ingredients and supplemented with vitamins and electrolytes to help your system fight the dehydrating effects of alcohol.

iX comes in two flavors Citrus and Berrie.  Both have 80 calories and are sweetened with sucrose (a nice touch).  The key to iX though is the vitamins and electrolytes.  Each can brings you 20% of your daily value of each: vitamin A, niacin (B3), vitamin B6, vitamin B12, pantothenic acid (B5) and zinc.  On top of that you get 60% of your daily value of chromium.  Sure, if you put away an entire bottle of hooch, there is no amount of vitamins that will stop you from feeling like crap.  But electrolytes and vitamins are going to help you feel less like crap.  It’s the small steps.

iX Citrus – Strong grapefruit aroma.  The flavor in this iX is light and combines the tastes of orange and grapefruit.  Reminds me a bit of Squirt…hmmm, perhaps it’s time for a Paloma.  Some iX Citrus, tequila and a squeeze of lime.  Why, yes.  I think I might just be on to something.

iX Berrie – The aroma in this iX is very reminiscent of raspberry sorbet.  Like the citrus the flavor here is light, combining flavors of a number of berries focusing mainly on raspberry.  I think this could work well in a berry Mojito.  You’d want to drop the sugar to compensate for the sweetness, but the flavors would blend well.

I decided the Paloma idea was simply too good to pass up and the results were rather tasty.  I added a bit of extra lime juice (~1/2 oz) to punch up the sourness since iX isn’t quite as sour as Squirt.  The resulting beverage was definitely on the level.  Just to verify my data, I had two.

Usually this is where I tell you that the product is only available in stores on the east or west coast and bemoan my inability to procure it locally.  That’s not the case this time.  Since iX is a Denver based company they’re starting there push for global domination in bars and retailers there.  So, I can grab some anytime I like.  However, if you’re not local and you’re interested in getting your hands on some right away, you can also order it off their website.  $12 for 12 cans or $23 for 24 cans.  With summer coming and parties on a lot of our horizons, you should give iX a try.  Your body might just thank you.

† 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 Chocolate Update

Posted by Reese On March - 23 - 2011

So, I’m moving right along with the hot chocolate mixing and tasting and I wanted to pop in and offer some updates.

First, I posted last week about the homemade hot chocolate mix that I’m using for these drinks.  Ron posted a comment about my choice to omit the cayenne powder.  He mentioned that the small amount of cayenne really didn’t add any spiciness to the hot chocolate but did improve the overall flavor.  Not wanting to miss out on something tasty I gave it a try.  Ron is absolutely correct.  With just a small pinch of cayenne it seems to brighten up the flavors of the chocolate even more and there was no noticeable spicy heat.

Second, the recipe mentions that it can be made with either milk or water.  I’ve made it both ways and they’re both very good; the milk is much better though.  It gives the drink a silkier mouth feel and richer flavor.  Definitely go with milk if you have it on hand.

Third, there a few old standbys that go really well with hot chocolate.  I decided to mix up a couple of those first to make way for other, possibly more interesting, combinations.  For my samplings I’m using 1 oz of the add-in per mug (~8 oz) of hot chocolate.  That way all things are even.

Irish Cream – I made up some of my homemade Irish cream just for this occasion and it’s definitely worth the effort.  Mixed with hot chocolate the resulting drink is really balanced and flavorful.  You get a nice hit of coffee flavor and the vanilla comes through a bit too.  The cream adds even more body and silkiness as well.  You still get nuances of the whiskey, but it’s definitely not front and center.

Peppermint Schnapps – This one is a classic.  We always called this Coco Loco and used to bring it with us snowmobiling for a bit of a pick-me-up when we’d stop for lunch.  The flavor of mint and chocolate really feels like the holidays to me and it also conjures images of Andes mints or York Peppermint Patties.  Great combo.  Be gentle with these though, especially if you’re using 100 proof liqueur.  You’ll quickly understand quick why we call it Coco Loco.

Pressing on to new frontiers.  I’ll check back shortly.

Review – Vesica Vodka

Posted by Reese On March - 22 - 2011

Vesica Vodka BottlesEver heard of a vesica piscis?  Neither had I until I received a sample of Vesica vodka.  A vesica piscis is the shape formed by the intersection of two circles of the same radius when the edge of each circle lies on the center of the other.  You’ll find this shape all over the world in both art and nature.  Though, the place you’ve most likely seen it is in the form of a solar eclipse.  As the moon begins/ends its transit in front of the sun.

The folks at Vesica vodka embraced this shape for their bottle design, which I find really interesting.  The 750ml bottle is shaped like a crescent and combines with the circular 1l bottle to form, both in shape and volume, the 1.75l bottling.  Now, granted, I’m easily entertained by geeky math stuff, but I think that’s a pretty cool idea on their part.

As for the vodka, I liked it as well.  It’s bordering on that mythical perfect vodka, colorless, odorless and flavorless.  Vesica has the first two down pat, but thankfully a bit of flavor remains, albeit very subtle.  The flavor is very crisp and clean, offering a only very slight sweetness in the finish.  The spirit was very smooth with little burn.  At only $13 for a 750ml bottle this is a great vodka to sample if you’re in the market. Oh, and another plus, Vesica is potato based and completely gluten free. *See comment below from fellow cocktail blogger DrinkSnob about gluten in distilled beverages.

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