Cocktail Hacker

    Hack What You Drink

What I’m Drinking Now: Maple Mule

Posted by Reese on 2013-02-05 @ 08:33pm

Shortly after I posted a tweet two weeks ago about having won the Crown Maple shot competition, one of my best friends sent me a text with a picture of what he was drinking that night. More than apropos, it was a Crown Maple based Moscow Mule.  A Maple Mule, if you will.

Maple Mule

The drink sounded great, so tonight I whipped up my own version and I’m loving it.

Maple Mule
1 1/2 oz Vodka
1/2 oz Crown Royal Maple Finished
1/2 Lime
Ginger Beer
1) Combine vodka and Crown Maple in a glass with ice
2) Squeeze in the half lime and drop in
3) Top with ginger beer

The maple aroma and flavor are light and subtle and play really well with the lime and ginger flavors. The drink isn’t overly sweet and goes down very easily.  The copper mug is optional but awesome if you can pull it off.

A very deep hat tip to Conrey for bringing this drink to my attention and for the great picture.

Crown Royal Maple Finished

Posted by Reese on 2013-01-30 @ 09:39pm

Elisabeth and I need guitar lessons, stat!

New Gibson Guitar

But, more on that later…

Crown Royal is the classic Canadian whisky.  Think about it.  There are others, but I dare you to name three.  Okay, thought experiment over.  I’ve always viewed Crown Royal with a slight air of mystery.  You see, as a kid, my grandfather always had the draw-string bags filled will all sort of odds and ends.  I don’t recall him drinking it often, but I knew by the way he kept those bags that it was something special.  Crown also holds a bit of special spot for me.  It reminds me of fishing trips to Canada with my dad.  Then, for my 30th birthday my cousins gave me a bottle of Crown Royal Special Reserve, which holds a place of honor on my top shelf and gets consumed, one small dram at a time.  This trip down memory lane does have a meaning and I appreciate you sticking with me.

When I got word that Crown Royal was bringing a whisky out to compete in the flavored whiskey market, I was a bit concerned.  Don’t get me wrong, I like flavored whiskies, but in some cases they’re a bit gimmicky.  The whiskey flavor dialed down to allow for a strong punch of flavoring.  My first sniffs of Crown Royal Maple Finished had me a bit concerned they’d gone down that path, but I really shouldn’t have been.  The aroma is of pure clean maple, much like you’re sniffing good maple syrup, but the flavor isn’t nearly as sweet as you’d expect.  Rather it’s a solid base of whisky flavor with a natural maple notes layered on top.  Better yet, the sweetness isn’t syrupy or cloying.  It’s subtle and mellow.  This is a flavored whiskey that’s absolutely meant to be mixed into cocktails.

There are two quotes from Steve Beal (Crown Royal Master of Whisky) that I think really sum up this spirit succinctly.  “Started as whisky…still is.” and “Not a whisky liqueur.”  The key point of this spirit is that it truly is a flavored whisky that remains true to it’s whisky roots.  Bottled at a solid 80 proof (40% ABV) Crown Maple stands with its whisky brothers a step above liqueurs at lower proof.

Which brings us back to the guitar.  Elisabeth and I went to a Crown Maple event last Tuesday at the Double Daughter’s Salotto.  When we entered we were served a couple of tasty cocktails (recipes at the bottom), but the real fun came when they announced the shot recipe contest.  The idea was simple, come up with an original shot recipe based on Crown Maple and enter for the chance to win a not yet released Gibson maple wood guitar.  Elisabeth and I had done some playing around the night before and entered two recipes we thought were solid and sat back, never expecting to win a thing.

Crown Maple Shot Making Contest Crown Maple 5.1 Steve Beal

Suffice to say, when Steve Beal announced the shot I entered, the Eh, Eh? as the winner, I was beyond floored.  You may note I appear a bit distant in the picture at the top of this post.  So, on to the recipes.


Shots
 
Eh, Eh?

1 oz Crown Royal Maple
1/4 oz Chocolate Liqueur
1/4 oz Orange Liqueur
1 Dash Barrel Aged Bitters
Canadian Smoke Jumper

1/2 oz Crown Royal Maple
1/2 oz Laphroaig Cask Strength
1/2 oz Simple Syrup
 



Cocktails
 
Maple Old Fashioned

1 1/4 oz Bulleit Rye
3/4 oz Crown Royal Maple
1 tsp Simple Syrup
2 Dashes Barrel Aged Bitters
Manitoba

1 1/2 oz Crown Royal Maple
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Simple Syrup
Top with Ginger Beer

 

Another place I see this spirit really shining is in cocktails to add light maple notes without being overpowering. In some cocktails you add just a splash of a spirit or even a wash to add flavor (think absinthe in a Sazerac). I think Crown Royal Maple could be great in this role.

PS – We decided the guitar needed a fittingly regal name, so we proudly introduce “Royal Pancake”. Thank you, Crown Royal for a great event and an amazing prize.


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

What I’m Drinking Now: Clementine Whiskey Sour

Posted by Reese on 2012-12-31 @ 09:11pm

Winter is here and that means it’s clementine season.  Clementines are one of my favorite citrus fruits and I almost always have them on hand this time of year.  Wanting to mix up a quick drink to go with our New Year’s Eve dinner I came up with the Clementine Whiskey Sour.  It’s simple, tasty and a bit of brightness in a cold winter.

Clementine Whiskey Sour

Clementine Whiskey Sour
*Makes 2 drinks
Juice of 3 Clementines (~3 oz)
Juice of 1 Lime (~1 oz)
4 oz Bourbon
2 Dashes Old Fashioned Bitters
1 tsp Sugar
1) Combine ingredients in shaker with ice
2) Shake until well chilled
3) Strain into two cocktail glasses

Gift Ideas for the Cocktail Lover

Posted by Reese on 2012-12-17 @ 08:40pm

Guest post by Elisabeth, Cocktail Hacktress in training.

Tis the season to wander around the mall hopelessly looking for last minute gifts for those who are hard to buy for. Would they love the Bad Kitty calendar? Another red sweater? I, myself, have a difficult-to-buy-for Cocktail Hacker and feel for you. But, should your gift recipient love alcohol, you are in luck. We found some great books for a cocktail lover –Throw in a bottle of something tasty and you have a great gift!

Gingerbread Eggnog

I was super excited when I saw the Never Cook Sober Cookbook by Stacy Laabs and Sherri Field. What could be better than combining a love of cooking with a love of booze? This book has 100 recipes that incorporate booze. To help guide your cooking each recipe is given a “jug rating” for how much alcohol content is in the final product. What I loved most about this book is that it has everything you could want to cook meat-wise, but also includes items from scrambled eggs to desserts. Every recipe sounds delicious and I find myself trying to figure out which recipe I can cook from the ingredients in my house. Reese and I ended up cooking the Honey I’m Home Whiskey Chicken. Very tasty! If you have a cocktail loving cook on your Christmas list, grab this book! Buy one for me too!

If you are looking for a complete, modern cocktail book, we recommend Edible Cocktails by Natalie Bovis. This book includes a little education on ingredients, recipes for specialty homemade ingredients and, finally, recipes for a good variety of cocktails. This book is not limited to cocktails, but also includes recipes for shrubs, preserves, and syrups that would be great for every day drinks also. The recipes feel very farm-to-table calling for fresh seasonal ingredients when possible. This would also be a good book for someone willing to put time into making their own bitters (see Reese’s Hell Fire and Coronal bitter posts if this is you!) in order to make a cocktail with great impact. Serve up this book with a new muddler or beautiful bottles for storing shrubs.

The American Cocktail by the editors of Imbibe Magazine is sorted by region of the U.S.A. As would be expected from experts that spend their days writing about cocktails, the editors compiled only the best of modern cocktail recipes from around the country. In each recipe, the ingredients evoke a feel of their home region of the U.S., such as the cherries, walnuts and apples found in the Midwest recipes. We recommend this book for a seasoned cocktail fan that is in search of fresh recipe inspiration. Pair with a nice bottle of artisanal Rye.

For your farmer’s market attending cocktail lover, I recommend Artisanal Cocktails by Scott Beattie. This book is uniquely laid out by seasons, with fresh ingredients highlighted in each recipe. As a fan of fall flavors, I drooled over the Autumn Apple cocktail, complete with dehydrated apple chip accents. Nothing screams fall more than spiced apple beverages. The recipes vary from classics such as Mint Juleps (Summer) , Cuba Libres (Spring), and Margaritas (Winter) to more creative recipes such as the Rhubarbarella (Spring), Gin Kimchi (Spring) and Grapes of Roth (Fall). The recipes are very thorough, including recipes for any ingredients you need to complete the cocktail. This would be a delightful cocktail book for someone who likes to pair their cocktails with farmer’s market finds—Pair with a nice reusable shopping bag for when those markets open again.

Buying someone a SodaStream or other type of seltzer maker? You may want to include The Artisan Soda Workshop by Andrea Lynn, currently around $10 on Amazon.com. This book gives a great selection of recipes for shrubs and syrups that would be great with seltzer water. Only a few of the recipes in the back contain alcohol, but with a great tasting shrub and a little creativity, great cocktails aren’t far away!

Reese and I realize there are just as many beer lovers in Colorado as there are cocktail lovers. We are spoiled by the Great American Beer Festival and many large and small breweries in the area. For those that may not have the same access to the brew process as us, we recommend Short Course in Beer by Lynn Hoffman. This introduces the reader to all things important to know about beer, including terminology, process, home brew techniques and even a few recipes to pair with your beer. Throw in a 6-pack or a New Belgium Lips of Faith bomber and your beer lover is set!

Hopefully these suggestions help ease your anxiety about what you buy those hard-to-shop-for cocktail lovers. Anyone with suggestions for the Cocktail Hacker that has everything, I welcome help!


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

Relaunch of Tanqueray Malacca

Posted by Reese on 2012-12-13 @ 08:31pm

Bam, you’re drinking damn fine gin now you realize as that first sip of Malacca finishes on your palate.  But, you certainly wouldn’t think that fine gin is one of Tanquerary’s.  Regular Tanqueray is known for it’s solid London Dry flavor of juniper and other bontanicals subtly in the background (love the stuff in a G&T).  Malacca is a whole other animal.  Far more citrus forward but with an undercurrent of juniper that is distinctly gin.  Lightly sweet on the palate with hints of coriander and pepper with a floral quality that wraps it up.  The finish is long and deliciously botanical.  So, now that I’ve got your interest piqued, the bad news.  You can’t buy Tanqueray Malacca anymore.  It was discontinued in 2004.

Malacca Label

D’Oh!  So began my fortuitous journey in spring of 2008.  I had read many posts about people still being able to find bottles of Malacca, seemingly long forgotten, in liquor stores around the country.  Sure that I would have the same luck I began searching.  I searched all over the Boulder and Denver areas, one day visiting every liquor store in Boulder (about a dozen) in one trip.  Sadly, no luck.  That is until I mentioned it a friend’s dad who owns a restaurant.  He checked his bar and happened upon an open, but nearly full, bottle he’d let me have.  YES!

That bottle has sat on my shelf for over 4 years, a prized possession, having only been cracked to grant small samples to those I knew would really appreciate it.  I knew that at some point down the road it would run empty.  But, as you’ve probably figured out, that all changed with an announcement yesterday from Diageo that a limited run of 9,000 cases would hit US shelves in February of 2013.  The even better news?  It’ll be reasonably priced at ~$28.

I’ve written reviews of a lot of great products over the years, but this one I write purely from my own excitement.  I’ll be stocking up in February, will you?

* Hat tip to Eye for Spirits and Drink Spirits for the info