Harvest Apple Smash

Every now and then I just happen to get a really good idea. Last night was one such example when I spontaneously was inspired by a bag of apples I picked up at the grocery store. For much of the warm weather this year I found myself making “smash” style cocktails which often feature an uncommon ingredient such as cucumber or basil and muddles it in a glass without straining off the extra chunks. Not everyone is fond of fruit or veggies floating in their cocktail, but as long as it tastes good I’m not complaining.

So, as mentioned earlier this year, I found myself picking up some Apple Crown Royal Whiskey and using it in a few choice cocktails, and I think my creating of the Harvest Apple Smash utilizes it perfectly with the changing of the seasons.

The unique presentation makes it look a bit like an “applesauce” drink, and that’s actually not that far off. With chunks of fruit and red skin floating throughout it just feels like you pulled a cup of cider off the press. The aroma is very apple-y with a whiskey forward and crisp fresh apple at the back of the scent. The flavor profile leans toward that a rich cider from a farmer’s market. The front of you palette is greeted with a little chunky fruit and a sweet apple flavor, mid palette it moves the apple whiskey, and finishes with a cinnamon and toasted apple finish. This is a cocktail right out of a fall festival, without the need for cider in the first place so it’s perfect for any time of year. If you’re looking to kick off your fall with a good cocktail, consider trying this new original cocktail!

Alcohol Taste Rating: 6/10
Overall Rating: 8.5/10

Harvest Apple Smash

2 oz Apple Whiskey
1/2 oz Cinnamon Simple Syrup
1/2 oz Lemon Juice

1/4 Thinly Sliced Apple
Apple Slice (Optional)

In a rocks glass muddle thinly sliced apples and cinnamon syrup until you get a chunky apple sauce consistency. Add lemon juice and ice. Pour over Apple Whiskey and stir well. Optionally garnish with a thin apple slice.

Harvest Apple Smash

“Hot off the press!”

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Jack-in-the-Box

So earlier in the week I found myself craving some apple brandy (or at least the blend that is Applejack). It’s been almost 4 years since I last had some, and despite being a little over my current budget I decided to pick some up. After trying a few new brandy cocktails from my recipe book, this one jumped off the page as a good choice for a hot summers day (when it’s still spring).

Like most drinks shaken with pineapple juice the final pour creates it’s own unique frothy garnish. The drink begins with a light and sweet apple aroma, but it is very subtle. For the taste profile it begins with a similar light apple flavor that the aroma presents with, moves to complex pineapple juice on the mid palette, and finishes with the “grain spirits” flavor from the Applejack’s blended component. The finish is really the most complex and re-inviting flavor. Applejack as a whole doesn’t actually contain a ton of apple brandy, and it instead feels almost like a weak whiskey than a complex flavored brandy. I have found that in other recipes that add a little syrup and a little more citrus bring out the apple flavor a lot more, so a variation on this with a half ounce of lemon juice and a half of simple syrup could round out the cocktail a bit more. As is though it’s not a bad cocktail, but it does have room to improve. At the very least it needs 3 dashes of bitters rather than 1.

Alcohol Taste Rating: 6.5/10
Overall Rating 7.2/10

Jack-in-the-Box

1 1/2 oz Applejack (or other apple brandy)
1 1/2 oz Pineapple Juice
Dash of Lemon Juice (1 fresh wedge)
Dash of Aromatic Bitters

Shake all with ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass, or over ice in a rocks glass.

Jack in the Box

“You don’t know jack!”

Water Tribe’s Frozen Vodka Blizzard

I had thought for sure I had lost this recipe, and then I found it sitting in the drafts for the blog and I was pleasantly surprised. So picking up another bottle of bottom shelf blue raspberry vodka, I knew it was time to remake this drink for a new post.

In my continued efforts to create a set of 4 distinct cocktails based on the Avatar: The Last Air Bender series. Previously I brought you Uncle Iroh’s Pai Sho Earth Tea, and today the series continues, with the “Water Tribe’s Frozen Vodka Blizzard”. Designed to feel like an iceberg floating onto of cartoon blue waters this is a great summer drink to cool off and get tipsy at the same time.

A refreshing blue color makes for an inviting modern style cocktail. The smell is strong of the candy blue raspberry flavor of the vodka. Your first sip will begin with the cool ice on top (not a lot of flavor comes through initially). The cocktail hits to a tart flavor on the mid-palette thanks to the cranberry and lemon juices. Then the finish is where you’re punched with the candy blue raspberry with very little alcohol burn (as it seems more sweet).

Like the other drinks I’m working on for this series it’s mostly about the look and a bit less about the taste. That said however, this is a great starter for the 4 cocktails.  Despite the volume of vodka it’s a very sweet and refreshing cocktail and is easy to toss together larger batches for a party. Just be sure you bring your trusty boomerang with you.

Alcohol Taste Rating: 3/10
Overall Rating 8/10

Water Tribe’s Frozen Vodka Blizzard

3 oz Freezer Chilled Blue Raspberry Vodka
1 oz Cranberry Juice
1/2 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Blue Curacao
1 oz Simple Syrup
2 Dashes Orange Bitters
(Optional: Additional 1/2 oz Blue Vodka)

Combine all ingredients in a blender with ice. Blend until ice is broken into very small pieces. Serve in a pint glass. Optional Float additional 1/2 of Blue Vodka

Frozen Vodka Blizzard

“It’s the quenchiest!”

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.”

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!”