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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Desert Healer

The Desert Healer (also called Desert Cooler) is a refreshing cocktail and a great welcome back to posting here on the blog! After a (semi) dry 40 days I’m ready to share some great new recipes with all of you.

With temperatures continuing to rise as we reach closer to the middle of spring the Desert Healer will treat the wounds from those unseasonably hot days. The drink has a unique “sandy” color, it’s not the most appealing but the orange garnish certainly helps with that. The drink begins with a mild citrus and ginger on the nose. With the first sip you’re greeted with a little ginger, followed by a hint of gin, then a nice finish of citrus and mild cherry. As it settles you get a little more of the ginger beer fizz to round things out. Overall it’s a very mild drink without a ton of overpowering alcohol burn or biased flavors. It’s a great choice for a hot summer day, but not a day that you want to sacrifice on quality.!

Alcohol Taste Rating: 5/10
Overall Rating 8.4/10

Desert Healer (Cooler)

1 1/2 oz Gin
1/2 Cherry Brandy (Cherry Heering Preferred)
3 oz Orange Juice
3-5 oz Ginger Beer
Orange Slice

Shake juice and liquor ingredients with ice. Strain into an iced highball or collins glass. Top with ginger beer stir gently. Garnish with an orange slice

VARIATION: Add an extra 1/2 oz of Cherry Heering after stirring for a gradient effect and sweeter finish.

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“…Where it’s flat and immense
And the heat is intense…”

Mipha’s Grace Cocktail

Sometimes I’m just inspired and two original cocktails back to back area clear indication when something is going right. Continuing my journey into Zelda: Breath of the Wild Cocktails, I present Mipha’s Grace. In the game this power-up brings you back from the brink of death with the power of the Water Champion Mipha! I wanted to do a whiskey based drink for this particular cocktail as whiskey comes from Gallic meaning “water of life,” which is the perfect definition for this cocktail and the power in the game.

With a deep blue/green color and select lemon, cherry, and sugar garnishes this cocktail is a beauty in it’s presentation and it’s taste. The aroma is a neutral citrus and sweet, with a hint of apple on the back end. The drink starts with a cool and sweet flavor which moves to a sweet citrus, then finally finishes with a slight burn of apple, lemon, and cherry/berry. It’s not the best cocktail in the world, but it’s a great representation of the theme with a solid drink behind it. If you’re throwing a game themed party this might be a great choice for you. Outside of that it’s a fun novelty for an evening, but nothing special enough for a regular cocktail.

Alcohol Taste Rating: 6.5/10
Overall Rating: 7/10

Mipha’s Grace

1 1/2 oz Apple Whiskey
1/2 oz Blue Curacao
1/2 oz Gin
1/2 oz Orgeat (Almond Syrup)
1/4 oz Blackberry Brandy
Cherry with stem
Lemon Wedge
Sugar

Prepare a cocktail glass by rimming the edge with a lemon wedge and coating in sugar. Chill. Shake whiskey, curacao, gin, syrup, and brandy together with ice. Strain into prepared glass over a single cherry (keep stem on). Squeeze remaining lemon wedge over drink and drop it in.

UPDATE 2019: This drink actually doesn’t need the orgeat syrup. Leave it out and you get a more well balanced cocktail that’s less sweet and more “rounded.” New overall rating at 8/10. With alcohol taste rating at 6.5/10

Mipha's Grace Cocktail

“It was my pleasure.”

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

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”