Cocktail Hacker

    Hack What You Drink

Income Tax Cocktail

Posted by Reese on 2012-04-15 @ 08:59pm

Tomorrow, in the US, is tax day.  That means millions of Americans will be turning in their income taxes and, I’m betting if you’ve waited this long, not enjoying the day.  Fear not, cocktails and the Cocktail Hacker have your back.  So, finish your calculations, dump the whole mess in an envelope, stamp it, lick it closed and throw the damn thing in the mail box.  Now is the time for a cocktail if there’s ever been one.  So, how about this, the Income Tax Cocktail.  Not only is it name appropriate, it’s damn good and will settle your rattled nerves.

Income Tax Cocktail

I sampled two recipes to give you a head start.  Okay, that’s a lie.  I sampled two recipes because this drink is damn good and I missed my old ways.  So, here’s a head start, even if that wasn’t the reason behind it.

Income Tax Cocktail (Vintage Cocktails and Forgotten Spirits)
1 1/2 oz Gin
3/4 oz Sweet Vermouth
3/4 oz Dry Vermouth
3/4 oz Orange Juice
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
1) Combine ingredients in shaker with ice
2) Shake until well chilled
3) Strain into a glass

This recipe is a classic. I found the same in the Savoy Cocktail Book and the recipe itself kinda cracked me up. Rather than reading 3/4 oz of Orange Juice the real recipe reads “the juice of 1/4 orange”. Wanting to make this more repeatable and comparable I opted for an exact measure.  This drink is drier than you’d expect it would be.  The vermouth is the star, despite having chosen a seriously bold gin.  Very tasty, but I wanted something where gin was the star.

Income Tax Cocktail (Joy of Mixology)
2 oz Gin
1/4 oz Sweet Vermouth
1/4 oz Dry Vermouth
1 oz Orange Juice
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
1) Combine ingredients in shaker with ice
2) Shake until well chilled
3) Strain into a glass

Very similar on the surface, but the flavor is definitely different.  Here the gin is the star.  Make sure you go bold.  The cocktail is still dry, but that dryness makes the drink very refreshing and crisp.  There is a complexity to this drink that is very telling of classic recipes.  This is my choice of the two recipes.

Income taxes are never pleasant, even when you get money back.  But, I dare say, this drink will make the day better.  Enjoy!

Will you Nail or Will you Fail?

Posted by Reese on 2012-04-09 @ 08:04pm

I’ve gotten to do some cool stuff over the years being a cocktail hacker.  I’ve been to Tales of the Cocktail (hopefully not the only time), I’ve been to exclusive tastings, I’ve been invited to distilleries, but last week I had a first, I was invited to be a judge for the Drambuie Nail or Fail Bartender Showdown.  Very many thanks to Cynthia, Anthony and Christina.  It was great getting to be a cocktail geek with you all.

The party itself was epic.  Eight local bartenders mixed up original, Drambuie inspired cocktails for the crowd and Drambuie also served up some of their classics.  I think Drambuie is one of those ingredients that gets passed over more than it should.  Sure, you know where to go when you’re looking for a rusty nail, but there are so many other applications.  Drambuie can truly be a blank slate for a whole range of flavor profiles and the bartenders showed that with ease.  We had a couple sours, a riff on the Old Fashioned, an incredible play on a grog and the winner, a cocktail that was reminiscent of a Manhattan with notes of bitter, sweetness and deep complexity.

I don’t have those recipes just yet, but with summer fast approaching, I will share a refreshing recipe from Drambuie’s team, the Drambuie Fizz.  This drink is deceptively simple but really delicious.

Drambuie Fizz
1 1/2 oz Drambuie
6-8 Lime Wedges
Club Soda
1) Muddle the lime wedges in a rocks glass
2) Fill with crushed ice and add Drambuie
3) Top with soda and a lime wedge

What I really want to share this time isn’t recipes though, it’s tips for entrants in cocktail competitions.  Sure, I don’t have hundreds under my belt, but I think I’ve got some pointers that’ll be valuable.

1) It doesn’t matter what brought you to the competition, remember that you’re representing both yourself and your establishment.  Always put your best out there.

2) Presentation in the drink matters as much as, if not more than, your presentation in making the drink.

3) Make the contest ingredient the star.  Sure your housemade bitters are great as are the unique ingredients but the contest ingredient has to shine, that’s the whole reason you’re there.

4) Vet your recipe to anyone who will taste it for you.  Friends, long time regulars, family.  Then, once you’ve got it nailed, stick to the recipe.

5) Make your recipe appeal to a wide audience.  I love crazy flavors as much as the next cocktail geek, but does that guy that just walked into your bar for the first time?

6) Garnish! For the love of god, it finishes your drink.

7) Complexity doesn’t equate to superiority.  Sometimes the simplest cocktail is the best.

8) Have fun.  At the end of the day, you’re getting to mix great cocktails for people who are really going to appreciate them.  Enjoy it.

What I’m Drinking Now: Kiwi Caipirinha

Posted by Reese on 2012-03-13 @ 09:20pm

This is another great recipe that Elisabeth found.  This time from Sunset magazine.  It’s just as simple as the classic Caipirinha with the addition of some kiwi chunks during the muddling stage.  The flavor is crisp and delicious with the kiwi flavor solid and harmonious with the lime and cachaça.  Well done, Sunset.  This is fantastic drink.

Kiwi Caipirinha

Kiwi Caipirinha
1/2 Lime, Quartered
1 Kiwi, Chopped and Peeled
2 oz Cachaca
2 tsp Sugar
1) Muddle kiwi, lime and sugar until sugar is dissolved
2) Add cachaça and cracked ice
3) Stir until well combined

Review – Glenfiddich Cask of Dreams

Posted by Reese on 2012-03-05 @ 08:49pm

Cask of DreamsLooking back across my adult life, I can’t think of a time that I’ve been to my mom and stepdad’s house and there hasn’t been the option of good Scotch only a request away.  It’s definitely Ken’s favorite sipping beverage and he always has a small selection of really good bottles on hand to share.  And, share he does.  Seemed only appropriate that when I asked for a bottle of Scotch a few Christmases back it should be Ken that picked it out for me.  His choice was a bottle of Glenfiddich 12 and it’s a bottle I cherish and enjoy still.

Earlier this month I got an email announcing a special, limited bottling of Glenfiddich, the Cask of Dreams.  The idea really struck a chord for me and I knew I wanted to sample it, if at all possible.  And, luckily, I did.  The Cask of Dreams is a blend of Glenfiddich whiskies the youngest of which is 14 years old.  What differentiates this blend though is that it was then placed in a very special set of 11 new American oak barrels and finished for 3 months.  What made these barrels truly special is their story.  The Glenfiddich team took the barrels across the US and asked people to commit their dreams and signatures to the barrels themselves.  When the barrels returned to Scotland for filling their were thousands of signatures and dreams written upon them.

Cask of Dreams - Signed Cask

The resulting whiskey is reddish caramel color.  The nose has touches of vanilla, but the real star is aromas of dried stone fruits, specifically cherries and apricots which reminded me strongly of fruitcake.  I know that’s not a good thing in a lot of minds, but trust me, it’s a really good thing here.  The flavor follows the aroma to a tee with this one.  Subtle sweetness, fruitcake and warmth.  With a tiny touch of water I found the flavor profile smoothed even further with more spice notes coming through.  This whisky is definitely near the top of my list.  The combination of fruit and spice notes with a touch of sweetness really makes for a fantastic dram.

Seems fitting that Glenfiddich would choose this whisky to represent their 125th anniversary.  There are certainly a lot of dreams that have gone into the Glenfiddich story leading to this point.  Well done.  There will be 3,500 bottles released in total starting in February of 2012 for a reasonable price of $99 per bottle.  You definitely could do much worse than picking up a bottle for yourself or a fellow Scotch lover.  I loved it enough, I bought myself a bottle for my collection.  You can bet I’ll be sharing it with Ken.


† 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: Blood Orange Whiskey Sour

Posted by Reese on 2012-02-25 @ 09:56pm

This is the first in what I see becoming a series of posts where I can post up what I’m drinking right now.  They won’t have the depth of analysis, but will give you some ideas of drinks you might want to try.

Tonight, we’re drinking Blood Orange Whiskey Sours.  We’re in Grand Lake for the weekend and Elisabeth brought along blood oranges that she got in her produce box this week.  Faced with a limited liquor cabinet but some solid basics I decided a riff on the classic Whiskey Sour would be great.  Here’s the result.

Blood Orange Whiskey Sour

Blood Orange Whiskey Sour
1 1/2 oz Blood Orange Juice
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
2 oz Bourbon
1/4 - 1/2 oz Simple Syrup
2 dashes Fee's Old Fashioned Bitters
1) Combine ingredients in shaker with ice
2) Shake until well chilled
3) Strain into a glass with ice

The simple syrup is variable because you really need to tweak it with this cocktail based on the sourness of your blood orange and lemon.  Just give it a quick sample before you shake and adjust as needed.