About byocks

I'm a visual artist with a passion for adventure stories, technology, and cocktails. When I'm not at my day job I'm mixing drinks and working in my home art studio.

Au Currant Sidecar

Today we’ve got a tasteful and tasty spin on the classic sidecar recipe. Although given your working set of ingredients you may have to substitute here and there (as I did).  I want to start by highlighting my use of a VSOP Brandy in place of Metaxa (a Greek Brandy with a stronger “winey” flavor). You MAY be able to use both Brandy and some Sweet Vermouth to achieve a similar flavor to the Metaxa. The former being much easier to find than the later depending your your location, and that difference will give you a slightly different flavor profile. In addition my use of Cassis Syrup over Creme de Cassis will make my overview of it lean sweeter than it would be normally. A common variation also calls for Chambord rather than Creme de Cassis.

So, I love this drink for 2 main reasons. First is the use of the sugar rim (which is something I wish I saw in more cocktail recpies); and second is the incredible finish that keeps you going back for more. With its deep red color, you’re greeted with an incredible forward aroma of what almost smells of agave nectar. With a sip from the sugar rim you begin with a sweet and simple flavor, move to a subtle currant and lemon, then finish with a richly sweet and oaky finish. The finish is what really caught my attention with this drink. Early in your sip is just feels like a fruity sweet drink, but the complexity of the oak from the brandy to the subtle orange of the Grand Marnier makes this damn near perfect! I do with there was more to the front and mid palette here, but I’m willing to compromise for something this good!

Alcohol Taste Rating: 7/10
Overall Rating: 9.8/10

Au Currant Sidecar

1 1/2 oz Metaxa (or VSOP Brandy)
1 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
1 oz Orange Juice
1/2 oz Creme de Cassis (or Chambord)

1 oz Grand Marnier
1 tsp Superfine Sugar
Granulated Sugar
Lemon Wedge
Lemon Twist

Rub the edge of a cocktail glass with the lemon wedge and rim with granulated sugar. Shake liquid ingredients and superfine sugar with ice (approx. 15 seconds). Strain into prepared glass. Garnish with a Lemon Twist.

Au Currant Sidecar

“Au Perfection!”

Piranha Club Initiation

This is a great example of a very STUPID drink! The only way a drink like this will impress your friends is if they’re looking for the cocktail equivalent of a bottle of knockout drops. That said this IS a surprisingly well balanced cup of citrusy rum.

A visual spectacle (as any layered drink is) the Piranha Club Initiation (or just The Initiation) certainly seems like a “dare” awaits you for your first sip. With the aroma at the front of your choice dark rum, you can only imagine the layers of flavor to come. Deciding to go with a Black Seal over my usual Kraken, you start with a strong and rich rum flavor and move to a smooth citrus blend with a sweet finish inviting you back for more (which isn’t a good idea at all). Overall it’s actually a fairly well balanced drink if not a little strong on the edges (and in the middle too for that matter).

The Initiation is actually worth a try for it’s great blend of rum and juice…provided you don’t drink more than one of them in a night.

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

Piranha Club Initiation

1 1/2 oz 151 Rum
1/2 oz Peach Schnapps
3/4 oz Blue Curacao

1 1/2 oz Sweet/Sour Mix
Fill with Orange Juice
3/4 oz Dark Rum

Straight build in an iced tumbler. Float the dark rum on top.

“You’re in!”

Uncle Iroh’s Pai Sho Earth Tea

So recently I picked up a set of 4 pints with laser etched designs of the popular series Avatar: The Last Airbender and Avatar: Legend of Korra. With these new glasses in my set I was inspired to design 4 drinks that embodied the franchise. The first in this set (today’s cocktail) is a spin on the classic long island iced tea.

In addition to the recent glassware I found myself buying a bottle of Pimm’s No. 1 Liqueur, which in retrospect was a terrible idea. Pimm’s tastes like flat cola and cheap vodka, and not in a good way. However in having it on hand it allowed me to impart the cola flavor without the unnecessary fizzy element. I also thought I’d be spending more time refining this, but I honestly don’t think it needs any more work. Sometimes you just get lucky and design something spectacular the first time around!

The cocktail itself imparts a unique yellow-green color, not unlike a generic green tea and the aroma is citrus with a hint of melon. The drink starts sweet, moves to sour and a little lemon, and finishes with an alcohol burn (but surprisingly not much of one). If you’re looking to use up some Pimm’s as I was, why not give this long island ice tea variant a try. However, I wouldn’t buy the Pimm’s just for this. Instead leave a can of cola open overnight, then use that the next day.

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

Uncle Iroh’s Pai Sho Earth Tea

3/4 oz Light Rum
3/4 oz Gin
3/4 oz Vodka
3/4 oz Blended Whiskey
1 1/2 oz Midori
3/4 oz Pimm’s No. 1
Top with Lemonade

Fill a pint glass to the top with ice. Straight build ingredients in order, Stir well.

Uncle Iroh's Pai Sho Earth Tea

“Strong enough for a Firebender, Green enough for Ba Sing Se”

 

New York Sour

Today’s cocktail is a whiskey sour variant with a really interesting look! The New York Sour, is a very interesting name for a drink that builds on the classic whiskey sour but adds…red wine to it? That’s right, and it really delivers!

This is an impressive cocktail both in flavor and in visual presentation. The mysterious and inviting red float over the gold whiskey sour makes serving it a true pleasure in and of itself. The aroma mostly of your red wine with subtle citrus notes. Like with any layered cocktail the flavors come in multiple parts. For the first half of the drink you’ll experience a wine with a whiskey sour finish, and the second half of the drink will be a classic whiskey sour with a unique fruits element.

Alcohol Taste Rating: 5/10
Overall Rating: 9/10

New York Sour

2 oz Blended Whiskey
¾ oz Fresh Lemon Juice
½ oz Simple Syrup
½ Dry Red Wine
Lemon Slice

 Shake whiskey, lemon juice, and simple syrup with ice and strain into a chilled sour glass (or lowball). Float ½ ounce of dry red wine and garnish with a lemon slice.

“What’s that floating in the east river?”

The Classic Manhattan

Looking back through the blog recently, I was shocked to find that I hadn’t made a single Manhattan in the nearly 4 years since starting this page. I have had no excuse to ignore this quintessential classic cocktail, so I apologize for my oversight.

The Manhattan is said to have first been made (or at least) introduced in the United States by the request of Winston Churchill’s Mother in a bar in NYC. Since those days the drink has become a true classic recipe known by even the most humble of bartenders. Plus it’s a great example of how a truly masculine drink can be presented in a fancy cocktail glass.

For a drink this simple if you’re not using quality ingredients you’ll be doing yourself and your guests a disservice. A cheap whiskey (traditionally bourbon or rye) will be far too harsh on the palette, while a cheap vermouth will leave quite literally a bad taste in your mouth. No, a good Manhattan is all about the right ingredients all coming together beautifully.

With a deep reddish brown color and garnished cherry this drink feels both classy and intimidating at the same time. With sweet vermouth on the forward aroma, it’s is as inviting to the senses as such a simple cocktail can be. Masked by the mixing of flavors you’re greeted with a pleasant mellow bourbon on the front of your palette. It quickly moves into the vermouth (again get a good one, you’ll thank me), and leads to an oaky bourbon and bitter finish. If you chose rye over the bourbon I imagine you’ll get of its flavor than you do the oak of your favorite bourbon.

The bite is strong, but the flavor keeps you coming back for more! It’s hard to hate a drink like this (unless of course you’re not a whiskey lover).

Alcohol Taste Rating: 8/10
Overall Rating 9.5/10

The Classic Manhattan

2 oz Bourbon or Rye Whiskey
3/4 oz Sweet (Red) Vermouth
2-3 Dashes of Aromatic Bitters
Cherry

“It puts the MAN in Manhattan”

Stir with ice for about 45 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass, and garnish with a maraschino cherry.

Cherry Lavender Gimlet

It’s been quite a while since the last cocktail and I figured I wanted to make my triumphant return to the cocktail blog with a really solid drink. I recently picked up some Luxardo Maraschino Cherry Liqueur, and found it to be a very interesting ingredient. It’s a clear bitter liqueur with a distinct cherry aroma and flavor that alone, isn’t something worth drinking. However, the product really shines in small quantities (1/4 to 1/2 oz) in a variety of cocktails.

So today’s drink is something of a modern flair on a classic cocktail. With just a dash of the Luxardo and some Lavender Bitters you get a VERY well balanced drink.

The drink has the lime and gin aroma of a classic gimlet along with its signature yellow-green jewel appearance. It starts light and sweet with a forward floral note of the lavender bitters. You’re rewarded with a sweet lime flavor on the mid palette, and to finish it’s a 3 stage level of complex flavors of; bitter, strong, and a little floral and bitter cherry as it settles.

Both the Luxardo and the lavender bitters and their own unique bitter complexity to this classic cocktail. If you’re looking for a modern twist on an already nearly perfect cocktail, this could be one for you!

Alcohol Taste Rating: 7/10
Overall Rating: 9.5/10

Cherry Lavender Gimlet

2 oz Gin
2 oz Sweetened Lime Juice
1/4 oz Luxardo Cherry Liqueur
3-4 Dashes Lavender Bitters
Lime Slice

Stir with ice and strain into a (larger) chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a floating lime slice.

“Near Perfection!”

Cocktail Fruit and Garnishes

So it’s been nearly 4 Months since you heard from me last and I thought it was about time for an update. Since early December I’ve been in the process of moving which as you may have guessed has put a damper on the bar considerably. I went from a strong 36+ bottle set, to a set of 1 (and some extras that no one uses anyway…like Campari.) In the process of moving from July to December I scaled back the home bar significantly, and now I’m starting from (near) scratch once again. The time in between however has allowed me to both learn and expand what I want this blog to contain.

While I started this blog with the intention of introducing a new cocktail every week, it has become more of an outlet for culinary creativity in the “craft cocktail” realm. My exploration of good and near perfect cocktails, has lead me to pursue a set of drinks that is both fine in its quality of ingredients, as well as in its creation. From about 2015 on it has been less about “new” drinks and more about ones that I feel are worth highlighting.

This concept of the “craft” cocktail is something that has stuck with me throughout though. Part of the artistry of the drink is more than just a new recipe, but also about the ingredients that you use. Subsequently one of my favorite YouTube channels – Common Man Cocktails expand their branding into a new channel called “The Craft Cocktail” There seems to be a trend of those that make cocktails, calling their art “craft” to mimic the exponential growth of the craft beer industry. That said, I think this blog is a unique reflection on that concept. In short I think a new tagline for the blog should be “Craft cocktaisl with an artist’s touch”

[Food for thought] But I digress…

Classic with a Twist

Classic with a Twist

I want to talk briefly today about the garnishes in cocktail, specifically the use of mint or fruit in some drinks. I have found over time that I really relish the maraschino cherry, or lemon wedge in a cocktail, as it adds not only color and contrast to a drink, but a unique bit of sweetness before or after finishing the cocktail. Finishing a whiskey sour (as I type) and having an orange or lemon slice and a cherry to finish the drink feels oddly satisfying. Fruit garnishes go a long way to making a drink both presentable as well as making it more well rounded.

Sucking on a lemon peel, or eating the pulp of an orange can make the taste of a drink really come to life! The “artistry” of craft cocktails is more than just spirits and bitters, but the garnishes as well! Don’t forget my fellow mixologists, that the garnish can be just as important as which whiskey you choose in your sours.