Pink Lemonade

Really? Pink Lemonade? Yes, but it’s a bit better than the syrupy fountain bubble from your favorite casual restaurant.

The appearance is similar to how you’d expect the common “virgin” version of the cocktail to be, but with a slightly darker color. On the nose it’s very clean and citrusy with not much else going for it. The cocktail starts sweet from the sprite/7up, moves to a clean mix of cranberry and citrus, then finishes with whatever liquor variants you used. The finish and in many ways star of this cocktail will all be about which vodka and which orange liqueur you add. For this evening’s recipe I went with my Boyd and Blair Potato Vodka and some Grand Marnier, the latter of which really classes up an otherwise simple (and frankly boring) recipe. Alternatively I think this cocktail could really benefit from a dash or two of orange bitters and/or some orange flower water to round out the flavor. Overall it’s a very simple drink, but a good starter if you’re new to mixing. A little extra attention to things like fresh juice and higher end spirits really can make this cocktail a bit better, but if you cheapen out on everything you’re going to get a mediocre experience.

Alcohol Taste Rating: 3/10
Overall Rating: 7.5/10

“Pinky and the Booze”

Pink Lemonade

1 1/2 oz Vodka
1/2 oz Triple Sec (or other orange liqueur)
1 oz Cranberry Juice
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Lime Juice
4-5 oz Chilled 7up or Sprite
Lemon Wedge

Shake all liquid ingredients except 7UP. Strain into an iced collins glass and top with pop. Stir gently. Squeeze in lemon wedge and drop it in.

Caribbean Christmas (Revisited)

WAAAAY back in 2016 I created and posted this cocktail, but never gave it the full write up that it deserved so for day 4 of “Cocktailmas” we’re revisiting it.

The Caribbean Christmas has becoming a yearly favorite, and staple cocktail in my annual Christmas party. It’s a classic style recipe similar to the Old Fashioned, but with a bit less involved with muddling ingredients. The rum you chose for this drink will be the star of the show so don’t go for you basic bottom shelf bottle here. From the first pour through today’s revisit my choice is the Plantation 12 Year Aged Rum. It’s reasonably priced and a nice cut above what you’d get out of a standard silver variant from another brand. You would also find this cocktail works well with Appleton Estate and Mount Gay rums interchangeably.

As for the cocktail itself, it’s simple amber color is nothing to turn anyone’s attention, but the cinnamon stick garnish certainly would. On the nose you’re greeted with a simple clean cinnamon aroma. The flavor is a fairly simple one, two punch of rum followed by a complexly warm cinnamon thanks to the mingling of the syrup and bitters. I’ve exclusively made this drink with the BG Reynold’s Cinnamon Syrup and the Bittercube Trinity Bitters, but one could easily swap out the name brand syrup for a homemade batch. The bitters on the other hand would be harder to replicate. They don’t add huge flavor to the cocktail on the front end, but the aftertaste is really where they shine. In theory they could easily be switched out for a dash of orange and a dash of Angostura bitters, but I haven’t tested that one yet myself. With over a dozen bitters already in my cupboard, I don’t need to seek out the classic angostura any time soon. That said for a simple spirit forward cocktail this is VERY easy to drink. Although if you’re not a big fan of cinnamon you might find the flavor a bit overpowering. Regardless though, it’s one of my all time favorite original creations and remains so to this day. If you’re a rum fan, but don’t want to hit the dark stuff all the time. This is the perfect way to bring the sweetness of a rum from the Lesser Antilles, and liven it up for the holidays!

Alcohol Taste Rating: 6.5/10
Overall Rating: 9/10

“Why is the rum gone?”

Caribbean Christmas
1 1/2 oz Plantation Rum
1/2 oz Cinnamon Syrup
2-3 Dashes Trinity Bitters
Cinnamon Stick

Over ice in a rocks glass/tumbler, pour over liquid ingredients. Stir for 5 seconds. Garnish with a cinnamon stick.

Pink Lemon Drop

The 12 days of “Cocktailmas” continues with a variation on the modern classic, the “Lemon Drop.” Much like the Red Nosed Reindeer from my previous post, this variation was specifically created for my annual party.

The “Pink” of this drink comes from the Peychaud’s Bitters added to the mix, which adds primarily a little color to the otherwise cloudy cocktail.

Visually the drink is very inviting with its crusted sugar rim, and pink color. On the nose it smells of sweet lemons and the choice potato vodka. I specifically chose a potato vodka for this cocktail as its smoother nature brings out a more rounded flavor to the cocktail. Like any other basic sour cocktail it’s very citrus forward with the full ounce of lemon juice, but the sugar rim cuts through that on every sip. The late palette is where this cocktail really shines bringing a slight burn from the vodka and a complex hint of flavor from the bitters. While any basic sour recipe can easily be livened up with a dash or two of your favorite bitters, the Peychaud’s add a unique anise flavor (that normally isn’t my preferred flavor) which doesn’t overpower the drink as a whole. The use as well of a “Rich Simple Syrup” (2:1 with Turbinado Sugar) tones down the stronger flavors of the lemon and the burn of the vodka down for a more mellow variant on the modern classic.

Alcohol Taste Rating: 5.5/10
Overall Rating: 8.8/10

“Ah, sugar, sugar
You are my candy girl”

Pink Lemon Drop
2 oz Vodka (Potato Preferred)
1 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Rich Simple Syrup
1 (Generous) Dash of Peychaud’s Bitters
Sugar

Rub the rim of a cocktail glass with a lemon wedge then dip in sugar. Place prepared glass in freezer to chill. In a shaker add ice, vodka, fresh lemon juice, rich simple syrup, and bitters. Shake until well chilled. Strain into prepared glass.

Red Nosed Reindeer

Counting my post of the Milkshake Shot back in August, I have decided to do a “12 Days of Cocktails” here at Medium of Mixology for the next 11 days. I’m overdue to review some new drinks and finish off the year with a BANG so to speak. As 2020 has been a dozen dumpster fires inside of another dumpster fire, we could also use a few good drinks to numb the pain of this year from ever harming us again.

So, a few months back I finally got my hands on some Pomegranate Liqueur. I’ve seen it in various recipes over the years, but could never manage to track some down until recently. Granted I wasn’t going out of my way to find it, but the bottle certainly did catch my attention. Pama Pomegranate Liqueur mixed Pomegranate Juice with Vodka and Tequila for an interesting sweet and tart flavor for a cocktail. Drinking through a whole bottle in a week I was convinced that it was the perfect choice for a Christmas themed cocktail creation.

After a bit of trial and error I finally came up with this simple crowd-pleaser! Specific to the season this cocktail requires the “Winter Spiced Cranberry” Sprite only available in November and December every year, so if you want to make this later in 2021 stock up now.

Visually perfect for your guests both in person and/or virtual this season, it’s bright red color offers a nice Christmasy invitation for you. On the nose it’s very much just he cranberry sprite, with a slight bit of tartness on the back end. As for the flavor profile it starts cold and tart, moves to a strong cranberry taste, and finishes with a nice sweetness at the end. What I did find interesting about this creation was that depending on what you’ve been eating/drinking prior it can taste sweeter or more intensely tart. If you’re looking for the sweeter side then start with this cocktail early, but if you want the more bitter tartness then go for it later in the night. The cherry at the start or finish of the cocktail (finish preferably) makes for a nice final treat before going back for more. This recipe would also be very easy to “batch” in advance and simply then pour 2 oz over ice and the sprite for your guests.

By no means perfect, it is a good and simple cocktail to get you in the holiday spirit!

Alcohol Taste Rating: 4/10
Overall Rating: 8/10

Red Nosed Reindeer
1 1/2 Shots Pomegranate Liqueur
1/2 oz Gin
Top Cranberry Sprite
Luxardo Maraschino Cherry

Straight build in an iced tumbler. Garnish with a single cherry on a pick and balanced on the edge of the glass.

“…had a very shiny nose.”

X-MAS Milkshake Shot

So, yes it’s way to early to start wanting it to be Christmas, but now that the year is more than half over I’m due to start work shopping cocktails for my annual party. I got the idea for this layered drink way back in March and scribbled the idea down on a sticky note. I can’t explain it beyond that too much really. One day I just woke up and the recipe was in my head.

Using what I already know about layering and proportions I some how managed to create the perfect layered shot on the first try! This I will end up making in batches with the several tall double shot glasses I have and I have no doubt in my mind that it will quickly become the centerpiece cocktail for this year’s party.

I’m calling it the X-MAS Milkshake Shot, as right after finishing it I could only think one thing, “That tasted like a damn good milkshake!” Obviously with a shot it’s hard to give detailed tasting notes since it’s gone so quickly, but I feel the name says everything. On the nose you get the head of vanilla from the flavored vodka, and it’s creamy and smooth from start to finish. When you’ve gulped it down you can only think of a perfectly chilled milkshake so it’s best to make these in advance and serve COLD!

Alcohol Taste Rating: 5.5/10
Overall Rating: 9/10

X-MAS Milkshake Shot

Layer ingredients in order into a Tall Double Shot:
1/2 Fill Glass with Dark Creme de Cacao
1/4 oz Green Creme de Menthe
1/2 oz Irish Cream
1/4 oz Vanilla Vodka

Layer by carefully pouring over the back of a bar spoon. Chill. Serve Responsibly.

XmasMilkshakeshot
“My milkshake brings EVERYONE to the yard.”

The Lusty Lady

So, earlier today I was digging through my recipe book, looking for something else when I came across the recipe for “The Lusty Lady.” It was a featured cocktail on the back of a sampler pack of bitters, and given the elegant design of the cocktail I decided it would be worth featuring here on the blog…and it does not disappoint!

Though the recipe isn’t a super easy one in it’s execution, it is a good test of the home bartender to give a little extra class to a simple gin based recipe. Now in advance this cocktail calls for an egg white, and subsequently a dry or reverse dry shaking method. Although it is perfectly safe to consume egg whites in cocktails as the alcohol kills off any latent bacteria, it is worth noting that if it bothers you, you might want to pass this one by.

That said this is an impressive and deceptively simple cocktail. Any drink with egg white is going to create a nice foamy head and be velvety smooth on the tongue and this drink certainly fills that standard out nicely. The texture is extremely light and smooth from start to finish. The aroma is mostly blocked by the egg white foam, but there is a slight hint of the lavender bitters that comes through. It begins with simple and sweet tastes, but without a lot of distinguishing flavors, it then moves to a warm gin on the mid palette, and finishes with a slight hint of citrus and lavender with very little burn. Do note that I opted for an American Gin, which is significantly milder and than a traditional London Dry or Ginever. With that change up you can expect an earthier and more pronounced flavor to come through across the entire cocktail.

This is simply an OUTSTANDING cocktail, and with fresh ingredients it really takes a simple recipe to a new level. If you’re looking to impress a friend or date (with restaurants being closed) this will certainly do the trick.

Alcohol Taste Rating: 3/10
Overall Rating: 9.5/10 (Could be higher with a London Dry)

The Lusty Lady

2 oz Gin
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Simple Syrup
1/8 oz (A bar spoon) Cranberry Juice
1 Egg White
2-3 Dashes of Lavender Bitters
2 Cherries

Shake all ingredients without ice for 8-10 seconds to emulsify egg. Add ice and shake for an additional 15 seconds to chill. Double Strain into a chilled coupe glass, and garnish with two cherries on a pick.

thelustylady
“Oh, whoa, whoa, she’s a lady!”

Spirit Review: Wigle Bourbon

So, I am simultaneously proud and embarrassed that the “kick off” 2020 post is not a cocktail, and is taking place as late as July! I’ve been meaning to get back to posting cocktails at the very least monthly, but things have routinely gotten in the way this year. Most notably was the COVID-19 pandemic, which shuttered liquor stores in my native Pennsylvania for a solid month and a half. That closure quickly depleted my regular stock of spirits and liqueurs and I’ve been slowly building back to a (smaller) working set.

One particular spirit however that I got the chance to try by ordering directly from a local distillery was “Wigle Pennsylvania Straight Bourbon.” Now I was at first taken aback by the name “bourbon” as I as well as many lovers of the spirit (including my cocktail book) mistakenly thought (think) that bourbon has to be made in Kentucky. However, despite the bulk of the American spirit being produced in KY, that is not the case. Unlike other regional favorites such as Scotch, Irish Whiskey, Tequila, or Champaign,  The legal definition of a Bourbon is a spirit distilled from at least 51% corn with a combination of grains including wheat, barley, and rye. It cannot be distilled beyond 160 proof, and cannot be bottled at any less than 80 proof. It also must be aged in NEW charred oak barrels at no more than 125 proof. Outside of those specific stipulations it just has to be produced in the United States…and that’s it.

Ok enough Bourbon lessons, onto the spirit. From my native city, Wigle Whiskey crafts a 92 proof (46% ABV) spirit that is sure to catch the attention of even the most die hard bourbon purist. It’s smokey and sweet on the nose hints of cinnamon. Those hints become more pronounced the more you sip as it permeates your senses.  The spirit starts smooth and sweeter leaning toward fruitier flavors but quickly moves to a stronger smoky oak with an intense burn on the back end (with hints of caramel). This isn’t you’re grandfather’s bottom shelf bourbon either. At between $40-55 for a standard 750mL bottle, it’s an investment in a local craft distillery, with the flavor and complexity of an even more significantly pricier product.

Overall it’s nothing spectacular, but it is great choice if you’re looking to step up your game with a Manhattan or an Old Fashioned. I would avoid using it for more complex or juice based mixes though or else the flavor will easily get lost among your mixers. Pick up a bottle if you’re feeling a little adventurous, but do note that you can get similar tasting bourbons for much less.

Alcohol Taste Rating: 9.8/10
Overall Rating 8/10

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Blue Christmas

Well I decided I better come back for at least once cocktail before the end of the year. The “Blue Christmas” I created specifically for my annual party, and based the color/title off of the old Elvis Presley Song of the same name. I went through a couple iterations creating the drink, but settled on potato vodka and the highlight special ingredient Rosemary Simple Syrup.

Base presentation is key here. A stemless cocktail glass makes for a short easy to hold but elegant designed drink. As the name suggests it’s a bright blueish/green cocktail, garnished with a lime wedge for some seasonal green. On the nose you’re greeted with mild citrusy notes. The palette on first sip is where things get interesting. If you go with a potato vodka (vs wheat like Absolut or a corn like Titos) you’ll get smooth refreshing start, which quickly moves to a sweet rosemary and vermouth flavor, and finishes with a slightly sweet and sour citrus from the lime. If you opt for a different vodka, you’ll likely get a little more burn on the back end. Either way this is a very easy drinking cocktail for your seasonal parties. If you’re less of a vodka fan and want to push the juniper flavor out more, I’d highly suggest trying the same recipe with a London Dry Gin such as Bombay or Beefeater!

Alcohol Taste Rating: 6/10
Overall Rating: 8.9/10

Blue Christmas

1 1/2 oz Vodka (Can also use Gin)
1/2 oz Dry Vermouth
1/4 oz Blue Curacao (Increase to 1/2 if you want it bluer)
3/4 oz Lime Juice
3/4 oz Rosemary Simple Syrup*
Lime Slice

Shake all liquid ingredients with ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Float a thin lime slice on top.

*Rosemary Simple Syrup – Boil 1 cup of water with 2 large springs of rosemary for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add 1 1/2 cups of sugar. Stir until dissolved and pour into a clean glass jar. (Optionally add the boiled rosemary springs into the syrup for further maturation of flavor) Refrigerate once cool.

“I’ll have a blue Christmas without you”

Blackbeard’s Curse

So after a long break from posting new cocktails I’m back with a new MoM original that I’ve been making for a majority of the year. Blackbeard’s Curse highlights two main ingredients Rum and Bitters, in this case it has to be Bittercube Blackstrap in order to make the flavor just right. Visually you’re looking at a cloudy dark rum, brightened up with the lime wedges floating in the drink and on the nose are hints of lime, vanilla, and cinnamon. On the palette you’re greeted with a sweet lime flavor which moves quickly to the blend of rum and bitters giving you a molasses, nutmeg, cinnamon vibe. It finishes with a little burn as it’s still pretty much just straight Kraken on ice but it’s a refreshing punch with the lime making a sour comeback near the end.

I created this as a simple drink for after work, and it’s become a new favorite rather quickly. For a long hard day keep the recipe as is, but if you’re looking for a slightly sweeter variant substitute in 1/2 oz simple syrup or 2 teaspoons of superfine sugar in place of the cubes. Outside of that pick up your blackstrap bitters and enjoy!

Alcohol Taste Rating: 8.8/10
Overall Rating: 9/10

Blackbeard’s Curse

2 oz Kraken Rum
1/2 Lime, cut into wedges
2 Sugar Cubes
3-6 Dashes Bittercube Blackstrap Bitters

In an old fashioned glass place 1/2 a lime cut into 4 wedges. Toss in 2 sugar cubes and give a healthy douse of bitters. Muddle together until sugar is well incorporated. Top with ice and add rum. Stir well.

blackbeards curse
“Yo ho, yo ho, A pirates’ life for me!”

Side by Side: Canton Ginger and Bols Ginger

For today I’ve got another side by side review of two liqueurs. Bols Ginger and Domaine de Canton Ginger. Both are ginger liqueurs designed for a variety of cocktails, and have similar flavors but very different nuances and price points.

We’ll start with the Bols (since I have more of it at the time of writing). The liqueur has a strong ginger aroma similar to ginger beer and is virtually colorless. At 24% ABV it’s the heavier of the two in its sugar content, but it makes up for it with an intense bite of ginger flavor especially at the back end. Early on you’re mostly hit with a sweet sugary flavor and some interesting caramel notes. Overall it’s not a bad flavor additive, but you won’t be drinking it straight. At around $13-15 it’s a resonable price for the flavor needed for certain cocktails. I’ll give it a solid 7/10 overall.

Next is the Domaine de Canton. A french style ginger liqueur at a slightly higher 28% ABV. Side by side there is a noticable color difference in that the Canton is slightly gold in color. There is still a bit of ginger on the nose, but it’s much less pronounced and considerably sweeter smelling. It also feels slightly (but just barely) thicker in viscosity as when you swirl it in the glass it will temporarily coat its inside walls. The like the aroma the ginger flavor is more subtle mixing in hints of vanilla and possibly some orange notes. The biggest advantage for the Canton that I can see is the lack of a harsh ginger flavor burn at the end. It’s a smooth drink from start to finish and extremely well rounded! However at around $33-35 a bottle it’s going to be something for your extended bar rather than a daily mixer. That said I’ll give it a solid 8.5/10 overall. Despite the higher price point, you’re looking at a reasonably priced product that could easily be served over ice, or with a nice pairing of dry vermouth or gin.

At the end of the day however the two products are very different but also a little the same. For some cocktails I think the Bols could make an easy substitute especially in recipes calling for 5 or more ingredients. However, if you’re looking to put a simple twist on your martini, don’t skimp on the cost for the more premium product, it’s worth every penny!

 

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