East Side Smash

For the past month I’ve been wanting to highlight this cocktail, not only because it’s a strange combination of Mint and Cucumber, but it’s also quite possibly one of the best cocktails I’ve ever had (and knowing this blog, that’s saying something).

So as is the case with many of my favorite drinks, this one comes courtesy of Common Man Cocktails. Their more classic rendition of the East Side shakes the ingredients and strains out any of the vegetable partials, which to me seemed a bit wrong. So I opted for creating a smash style variation that I feel is far superior. Smash drinks in general will contain less common ingredients and will often leave the renaming chunks in the glass after muddling (hence the name).

This cocktail is really something amazing though. It’s taste reminds me of summer. It’s refreshing, colorful, and goes down smooth (regardless of your choice in gins). The mystery of handing someone a glass with cucumbers mashed into it is both inviting in it’s color and it’s curious differences. It has a strong smell of cucumber and gin, with very small hint of the mint (if you didn’t know it was there you wouldn’t know what you were smelling). The drink starts off sweet, moves quickly to a mild sour, and finishes with the complex blend of the gin, cucumber, and mint. I should really note here that the mint (while vitally important) doesn’t add a ton of it’s own flavor to the drink. Instead it acts as a way to cut through the more intense sour of the lemon, and round out the more “green taste” of the cucumber.

This cocktail goes well beyond just a “make it again” recipe, it now belongs on the menu. In fact it might be one of the highest rated cocktails I’ve ever reviewed! Although now I guess I need to start buying cucumbers on a regular basis now.

Alcohol Taste Rating: 6.5/10
Overall Rating: 9.8/10

The East Side Smash

2 oz Gin
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
3/4 oz Simple Syrup
3 Cucumber Slices
5-6 Mint Leaves
3 Dashes Aromatic Bitters (Optional)

In a rocks glass muddle together mint, cucumber, lemon juice and simple syrup. Add ice and top with gin and bitters. Stir well. Enjoy!

“Hulk Smash!”

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The Groundhog Day

Not so much a cocktail this time as much as an event. Highlighted as Rita’s favorite drink in the 1993 movie “Groundhog Day,” the simple Sweet Vermouth on the Rocks with a Twist, has become a staple drink to make for every enthusiast out there. Finally getting my timing right this year I decided I was overdue.

For a good “Groundhog Day” cocktail it’s important to get a good sweet vermouth. Raise your eyes off of the bottom shelf and spend more than 8 dollars on a bottle. Trust me for this, and a good Manhattan, you’ll thank me later.

For my day to day needs I go with the Dolin Rouge vermouth as it’s a nice mixer and actually does wonders in various dishes in the kitchen. This French Vermouth will run you around $16 per 750mL bottle, and it’s well worth it.

As for the drink itself it’s been debated on whether or not to use a twist of lemon or orange, but really I’d say the difference is negotiable and adds more aroma than anything else. A good vermouth will have a spicy nose, and a balanced and slightly “sweet” flavor for the deep red/copper color. The after taste brings warm notes of citrus and a slight smokiness.

If you were living the same day over and over this drink might get boring, but for something different on a friday night, why not give it a try.

The Groundhog Day

1 1/2 to 2 oz Sweet Vermouth
Lemon or Orange Twist

Straight build in a rocks glass over ice. Rub the twist around the glass’ rim and drop it in.

“Sweet Vermouth, rocks, with a twist please. For you miss? The same.”

The Boston Cocktail

Coming out of the Christmas Season I was looking for something to break my month of making glass after glass of the Caribbean Christmas for myself and for my guests.

So flipping through my cocktail books, I was looking for something with Gin. I was in the mood for it’s crisp mix of juniper and other botanicals to sooth the season of sore throats, and found a recipe that while I’m sure I’ve made before, I don’t think I’ve made for the blog.

The Boston Cocktail is a striking golden color, and invites you in with a citrusy apricot on the nose. It starts sweet, moves to a slightly sour (but not overpowering) mix of fruit flavors, and finishes with a refreshing punch of the botanicals from the gin. I honestly have to say that this drink really impressed me. While lately I have favored American Style Gins for my home bar, I feel this particular cocktail would require a London Dry in order to really get the bouquet of flavors.

Presentation wise part of me wishes for a garnish, but I think a fun variation would be to hold the grenadine until the end, creating a red bottom similar to that of a tequila sunrise.

This is a strong contender for my menu, and moving into the new year I think it would really be worth adding for your next party. It’s rare to get such a good cocktail with the threefold batch of flavors, and it’s definitely one I recommend you try!

Alcohol Taste Rating: 7/10
Overall Rating: 8.5/10

Boston Cocktail

1 1/2 oz Gin (London Dry Preferred)
1 1/2 oz Apricot Brandy
1/2 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
Dash Grenadine

Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Enjoy!

“A cocktail to ruin your tea party.”

Witch’s Brew

So I thought I should throw something quick together for the holiday, and what I came up with was actually pretty solid! The Witch’s Brew is loosely based on the Rainbow Road Cocktail, but with a bit less red and yellow and more violet.

As with any layered cocktail the Witch’s Brew has a killer presentation with three distinct layers and multiple flavors for your cackling palette. As for the flavor, again you’re looking at traditional layered drink fare. So the flavor will change the more into the drink you get. It starts with the melon and sweet rum both in flavor and aroma. The back flavor once it settles leans to the citrus of the juice, but then you get pulled back into overproof rum territory quickly as it settles in. As the upper layer slowly disappears, you begin to get a sweet and floral flavor creeping in. Overall it’s a simple drink, but complex in its ingredients list…I’d say that’s perfect for a true brew.

Alcohol Taste Rating (8/10 then 4/10)
Overall Rating (7/10)

Witch’s Brew

1/2 oz Blue Curacao
1 1/2 oz OJ
1/4 oz Grenadine
1/4 oz Creme de Violette
1/2 oz Midori (Or other melon liqueur)
3/4 oz 151 Rum
Maraschino Cherry

In an iced mixing glass stir Blue Curacao and Orange juice to chill. Strain into a cocktail glass. Then stir grenadine and Creme de Violette with ice, and strain pouring on the side of the glass (should sink to bottom). Finally stir Midori and 151 rum with ice, and strain on the side of glass (or with a spoon) layering mixture on top. Garnish with a cherry (with stem).

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“Cold Hot Fresh Witch’s Brüe only 10 bucks a pop! ” -Homestar Runner

Hell on Ice

I want to start by saying that “Fire Water” Liqueur is one of the single worst buys I have ever made. It tastes like liquid atomic fireballs wrapped in big red gum. I’ve had it pretty much since I started drinking and it’s not even 1/4 gone yet. That said, this is one of the VERY few uses of it that I found actually palatable, and very surprisingly so.

So, I knew I wanted to post a new drink to the blog, but I had NO IDEA that this would be it. This was the most surprising drink recipe I’ve had to date. I was fulling expecting a negative drink review for this one, but honestly after trying it I’m shocked!

A subtle orange color is all you really have to start with. No garnishes or anything to make it more inviting. The drink smells mildly of bourbon and cinnamon and not much else. You’re greeted with the sweetness of the orange juice, followed by a mellow rum, and then it finishes with a cinnamon burn, but not as harsh as pure Fire Water. This cocktail really took me off guard in that respect. Most of the time whatever Fire Water touches in less than a dash turns into cinnamon candy insanity that is flat out difficult to drink either in sips or all at once. This however is not only half decent, but it’s something that I might actually make again.

Perhaps if you’re looking for a “classier” (if you can call it that) version of this, you may want to use a cinnamon whiskey or some Aftershock for a more pleasant taste. However at that point I think you might miss the name of the drink being “hell.”

Alcohol Taste Rating: 4.5/10
Overall Rating: 6.5/10

Hell on Ice

1 oz Bourbon
1 oz Spiced Rum
1/2 oz Cinnamon Schnapps
Fill with OJ

Straight build in an iced rocks glass. Serve when hell freezes over.

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“Hell in a Glass…it’s better than it sounds.”

La Jolla

I felt today that after a long time I was due for a brandy based cocktail, and the La Jolla is both classy and refreshing all the same. It is simple in color and presentation, but a really impressive experience all around. The drink recipe itself doesn’t call for any garnishes (which is really a shame) so I’ve opted to add in an orange peel for my aroma and tasting notes.

To the nose you get a pleasant orange (mostly from the peel added, but some from the juice too). The slight oakiness of the brandy also comes through on the nose. Its taste begins light and sweet, moves quickly to a slightly sour (but not overpowering) lemon, and finishes with a unique battle of banana and brandy. The finish is really what stands out to me here. It’s banana, then brandy, then banana, then brandy again, and it goes back and forth 2-4 times as it settles. This is a surprising event while drinking and it really makes you want to go back for more.

If you’re looking for a diversion from the standard summer cocktails, you might want to give this a try.

Alcohol Taste Rating: 7/10
Overall Rating: 8/10

La Jolla

1 1/2 oz Brandy
1/2 oz Creme de Banane
1/4 oz Orange Juice
1/4 oz Lemon Juice
(Optional Orange Peel Garnish)

Shake liquid ingredients with ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

“I keep wanting to put in ‘i’ before the ‘a’ in Jolla”

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 wish 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!”