Harvest Apple Smash

Every now and then I just happen to get a really good idea. Last night was one such example when I spontaneously was inspired by a bag of apples I picked up at the grocery store. For much of the warm weather this year I found myself making “smash” style cocktails which often feature an uncommon ingredient such as cucumber or basil and muddles it in a glass without straining off the extra chunks. Not everyone is fond of fruit or veggies floating in their cocktail, but as long as it tastes good I’m not complaining.

So, as mentioned earlier this year, I found myself picking up some Apple Crown Royal Whiskey and using it in a few choice cocktails, and I think my creating of the Harvest Apple Smash utilizes it perfectly with the changing of the seasons.

The unique presentation makes it look a bit like an “applesauce” drink, and that’s actually not that far off. With chunks of fruit and red skin floating throughout it just feels like you pulled a cup of cider off the press. The aroma is very apple-y with a whiskey forward and crisp fresh apple at the back of the scent. The flavor profile leans toward that a rich cider from a farmer’s market. The front of you palette is greeted with a little chunky fruit and a sweet apple flavor, mid palette it moves the apple whiskey, and finishes with a cinnamon and toasted apple finish. This is a cocktail right out of a fall festival, without the need for cider in the first place so it’s perfect for any time of year. If you’re looking to kick off your fall with a good cocktail, consider trying this new original cocktail!

Alcohol Taste Rating: 6/10
Overall Rating: 8.5/10

Harvest Apple Smash

2 oz Apple Whiskey
1/2 oz Cinnamon Simple Syrup
1/2 oz Lemon Juice

1/4 Thinly Sliced Apple
Apple Slice (Optional)

In a rocks glass muddle thinly sliced apples and cinnamon syrup until you get a chunky apple sauce consistency. Add lemon juice and ice. Pour over Apple Whiskey and stir well. Optionally garnish with a thin apple slice.

Harvest Apple Smash

“Hot off the press!”

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Ambassador

So it’s half way through the year, and I’m wondering why all of my time went recently. Thinking about making drinks I realized I’m about due to start curating my list of cocktails for my annual Christmas Party. I know what seems really far away for most of you, but building the right drink list for that party is everything to me, and it was recently that I tried today’s cocktail and it really stuck me as a strong contender for my party. If you yourself host guests around the holidays I highly suggest you work on your drink list now, and possibly include this one.

The Ambassador is the second rum cocktail listed in one of my recipe books, and I was shocked I hadn’t made it sooner. Granted I may have been looking for “Passion Fruit Liqueur” which it does call for, but I realized when it’s only about a 1/4 oz then it’s really not about the liqueur and more about the flavor, which can be done with juice or syrup, thus I’ve reflected that in the recipe below along with my substitution of Crown Royal Regal Apple for the Apple Liqueur (because apple pucker won’t cut it for this)

As for the cocktail itself, we’re looking at an inviting reddish color, and a rich apple and cranberry on the nose. The drink starts with a sweet and tart cranberry, moves quickly to a sweet apple, and finishes with a whiskey and passion fruit finish. The rum really feels lost in this drink, but I’m really not complaining here. It fills space in the glass and makes room for other great flavors! The Crown Apple is really the star of this drink. Granted it might be different if you can find an apple schnapps in your area, but I don’t feel it would really be worth it to cheapen out of this drink. From start to finish it’s a smooth and simple cocktail with rich flavors. It’s not perfect, but it’s really close. Perhaps some orange bitters or even a orange peel twist would make it just a little better.

Alcohol Taste Rating: 4/10
Overall Rating: 9.5/10

Ambassador

1 oz Light Rum
1/2 oz Apple Liqueur (or Apple Whiskey)
1 oz Cranberry Juice
1/4 oz Passion Fruit Juice or Syrup

Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

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“Diplomatic Immunity”

Agent Jed

So back on the 4th I was looking to buy an alcohol that was “truly American” and while the generic response might be bourbon, I decided to take the less classy route and pick up some Moonshine, because nothing says low class than grain alcohol. Granted I had tried some “Midnight Moon” and “Old Smoky” flavored varieties in the past, but getting the pure distilled spirit was a new experience. As you might guess it’s a fairly harsh burn from start to finish, but does make a nice hard lemonade on a hot day.

So, one night I was relaxing and looking over some old recipes when I got the strange idea of making a refined hill-billy cocktail, which I’ve come to call the “Agent Jed.” Jed is a riff on the Vesper (as highlighted last week), and honestly I was pretty surprised by the result. This simple two ingredient recipe is the result of a very lucky guess, that shines forth from the old pot still.

Now of course to match the “low end” theme of this drink I have forgone all shaking and garnishes and just opted for a straight build over ice with a quick stir. Jed wouldn’t have it any other way. On the nose it has a bit of a white wine aroma from the Lillet, but other than that it’s very plain. The drink starts off smooth and cold with not much noticeable flavor. On the mid palette you get a wine taste creeping through, but not very overpowering until the end. The finish is this drink’s true “double agent” quality. You get hit with a strong flavor from the Lillet, and then as it settles you get punched with the burn from the White Lightnin’. Is it a great drink? No. But it’s not that bad for sipping on in place of vodka or gin (depending on your mood).

Alcohol Taste Rating: 9/10
Overall Rating 7/10

Agent Jed

1 1/2 oz Moonshine
1/2 oz Lillet Blanc

Pour over ice in a rocks glass, and stir well.

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“Don’t tell ennyone but ah’s a spy”

The Vesper

The Vesper is arguably the best martini you’ve never had. It’s origin is thanks to Ian Fleming’s famous character James Bond, in the 1953 Novel (and 2006 Film) Casino Royal. As Bond himself describes it the drink contains: “Three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel. Got it?”

Now unfortunately for us Kina Lillet hasn’t been in production since the mid 1980s, and Gordons Gin has also changed since then as well (and is now known for being fairly low end). Bond also usually requests a Russian Vodka, which personally I’m not a fan of. So, for a modern Vesper it’s best to stick with your favorite of the harder spirits, and pick yourself up a bottle of Lillet Blanc. The remaining instructions hold true making for a truly classy cocktail.

The drink straight out of the shaker will be a cloudy white, but eventually will turn clear as it hits the air and settles. The thin waft of a lemon peel (best used a kitchen peeler for) brings a distinct lemony aroma to the nose. On the front of your palette you’re greeted with refreshing gin flavor, a lemon and Lillet hit you quickly after that, and you’re finished with a slight burn from the vodka (depending you your choice you may get a smoother flavor). This cocktail I’d say depends quite highly on the quality of your ingredients. Granted I’m using a mild American Style Gin here as well as a cheaper American Vodka, so the flavor profile will reflect the Lillet and Lemon more than the vodka and gin. If you’re looking for a stronger flavor try mixing with Beefeater or Bombay for the gin, and/orĀ  Boyd & Blair, Kettle One, or Absolut, for the vodka.

Alcohol Taste Rating: 8/10
Overall Rating: 7.4/10

The Vesper

1 1/2 oz Gin
1/2 oz Vodka
1/4 oz Lillet Blanc

Lemon Peel

Shake all with ice. Pour into a chilled cocktail or coupe glass. Squeeze lemon peel over drink (express the oils) and drop it in.

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“Gosh, that’s certainly a drink,” said Leiter

The Noble Pursuit (LoZ Cocktail)

So, earlier this year I picked myself up a Nintendo Switch and played through the most recent installment in the now 32 year old franchise “The Legend of Zelda; Breath of the Wild.” The open world adventure game gives lots of room for varied play styles through an elegant story. However one particular moment in the game stood out to me, it was the side quest in helping a bar tender create a drink known as the “Noble Pursuit” aka (in the game) the perfect drink.

As the game is designed to hit a demographic of both young and old it is described rather vague, leaving lots of room for interpretation. The only clues you get for flavor are in the line “The light, sweet taste…the cool sensation from each sip…it’s like drinking distilled motivation!”

In designing this drink I went through several iterations based on different aspects of the game’s desert region (where the drink is created/served) as well as the local ingredients for food in the game. Most notably for a cocktail I thought about the two common fruits in the game the “Hydromelon,” “Palm Fruit,” and “Volt Fruit.” The hydromelon has the appearance of a spherical watermelon, so I played with using the Japanese liqueur midori on my first few mixes. My second attempt was pulling from the Palm Fruit which was more or less a coconut (so coconut rum), which also proved to me unsuccessful). More commonly however, in the game’s desert you will find a volt fruit growing on a cactus. The volt fruit has the appearance of a cross between a pineapple and a lychee berry, so I thought a tropical pineapple juice base would be ideal. From there I took a look at the shelves on the bar for the shapes and labels of the bottles. None of them had any writing on them so I had to interpret from there as well.

After several unsuccessful attempts with mixing fruit flavors I ended up going for something that more ties to the original description of the cocktail. It is said to be “notably very strong” which I took to just mean “has alcohol.” As part of the side quest you have to carry a large block of ice across the sand, so it’s requirement of “a HUGE amount of ice,” wanted me to use one of my large ice cubes. Outside of that I was looking for something sweet and light on the palette, while maintaining a cool and refreshing flavor.

So, for the MoM version of “The Noble Pursuit” you’re greeted with a foamy golden color (similar to that of the game’s sand) and the aroma is a mild spicy ginger. On first sip you’re greeted with a little sweet foam from the shaken pineapple juice. On the mid palette you get a bit more of the ginger with your choice of bitter peaking through. On the finish you get the spice of the Jagermeister under the sweet brandy and ginger liqueur. As it settles you’re reminded of the alcohol as it warms you and motivates you to journey across the great desert!

Thought it may not be made of many “local Gerudo Ingredients” it’s a cocktail worthy of the name “The Nobel Pursuit.”

Alcohol Taste Rating: 6/10
Overall Rating: 8/10

The Nobel Pursuit (Loz: Breath of the Wild)

1 oz Ginger Liqueur
2 oz Pineapple Juice
1/4 oz Jagermeister
1 oz Brandy (or Cognac)
3 Dashes Aromatic Bitter (Preferably something floral)

Shake all with ice, and strain into a rocks glass over one HUGE ice cube.

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May be difficult for a young vai to consume.

Spirit Review: Licor 43

So one product that has been on my long term “to try” list is the Spanish made: Licor 43. It is a 31% ABV (62 Proof) liqueur with a rich golden color and a slightly oilier viscosity than I was expecting. It’s on par with a thinned out Gran Gala by comparison when I poured it from the bottle.

On the nose it has very distinct fruit notes (perhaps mandarin oranges?) and is paired with a warm vanilla. In it’s flavor it is predominantly a vanilla liqueur, but you are greeted with a bouquet of sweet citrus, be fore it mellows into a flavor very similar to a melted vanilla ice cream.

Licor 43 is a unique product that you likely won’t find a matching flavor for elsewhere. It goes down super smooth, and leaves you with a warm sensation of a homemade cookie. I’d be interested in mixing this with various whiskeys or a neutral spirit like vodka in order to complement it’s rich flavor. Perhaps the use of a cinnamon or maple syrup would do it justice.

Overall I’d say its a 7/10 for my personal use. I was expecting a little more of a burn, and a little less sweet, but it is overall a decent liqueur for the price.

Licor 43

Better than 42, but not the answer we were looking for.

 

Jack-in-the-Box

So earlier in the week I found myself craving some apple brandy (or at least the blend that is Applejack). It’s been almost 4 years since I last had some, and despite being a little over my current budget I decided to pick some up. After trying a few new brandy cocktails from my recipe book, this one jumped off the page as a good choice for a hot summers day (when it’s still spring).

Like most drinks shaken with pineapple juice the final pour creates it’s own unique frothy garnish. The drink begins with a light and sweet apple aroma, but it is very subtle. For the taste profile it begins with a similar light apple flavor that the aroma presents with, moves to complex pineapple juice on the mid palette, and finishes with the “grain spirits” flavor from the Applejack’s blended component. The finish is really the most complex and re-inviting flavor. Applejack as a whole doesn’t actually contain a ton of apple brandy, and it instead feels almost like a weak whiskey than a complex flavored brandy. I have found that in other recipes that add a little syrup and a little more citrus bring out the apple flavor a lot more, so a variation on this with a half ounce of lemon juice and a half of simple syrup could round out the cocktail a bit more. As is though it’s not a bad cocktail, but it does have room to improve. At the very least it needs 3 dashes of bitters rather than 1.

Alcohol Taste Rating: 6.5/10
Overall Rating 7.2/10

Jack-in-the-Box

1 1/2 oz Applejack (or other apple brandy)
1 1/2 oz Pineapple Juice
Dash of Lemon Juice (1 fresh wedge)
Dash of Aromatic Bitters

Shake all with ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass, or over ice in a rocks glass.

Jack in the Box

“You don’t know jack!”