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/or  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

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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!”

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.”

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”

 

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!”

Milano

Looking through my recipe book, I’m really shocked I haven’t made this yet. It’s also the first Galliano cocktail here on the blog, and I’m down to the last 1/4 of the bottle. The Milano is a simple, but classy recipe with a wonderful yellow color.

The drink greets you with a pleasant citrus and anise aroma. It’s starts with a very gin forward flavor, moves to a herbal citrus near the mid-back palette, and finishes with a balanced herbal and anise flavor brought by the Galliano. Galliano can be pretty harsh if you’ve never tried it before with it’s vanilla and anise notes, but this drink really rounds it out to make you go back for more. That herbal quality that runs through the whole drink intensifies and the drink sits in your stomach. It’s almost as if the flavor gets better after the first sip.

Certainly worth a try if you have some Galliano, but if you’re not willing to buy it’s obnoxious bottle, feel free to pass it by. Also the choice of a more juniper forward gin and/or a dash of herbal bitters (such as cardamom or lavender) could make this a great aperitif cocktail for guests. Normally I’d add some sort of garnish to a drink like this (on top of the original drink), but the color of this is so spectacular that a garnish would l feel would ruin it.

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

Milano

1 1/2 oz Gin
1 1/2 oz Galliano
1 oz Lemon Juice

Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

milano cocktail

“L’ Autentico”

Blended Cocktail Week! (Meadow Snow)

Well I’m back again after a long hiatus, for a bunch of blending cocktails! This week I’ll be posting a blended cocktail every day!

To start things off we’ve got a easy and fun drink to help you finish of your summer. The Meadow Snow’s official garnish of a cantaloupe cube, may not be in everyone’s regular bar stock, so you may want to substitute it with the more aromatic lemon peel as I did. the lemon peel makes for an amazing opening aroma as it mixes with the familiar fragrance of Midori. Like most blended cocktails it’s a sweet drink with a nice balance of a bit of sour as well that isn’t lost in the mixing process. Mid-palette you’re hit with Midori and your finish up with a refreshing aftertaste of gin. I’ll leave it up to your tastes/wallet on whether or not to use a nice gin or a cheaper one.

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

Meadow Snow

2 oz Gin
3/4 oz Midori
1 1/2 oz Sweet and Sour
Cantaloupe Cube (or lemon wedge)

Combine liquid ingredients in a blender with ice. Pour into a lowball glass. Garnish and enjoy.

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“It’s Green!”