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 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!”

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?”

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”

Frozen Blizzard

Here’s something a bit different to close out “Blended Cocktail Week.”

I realize it might seem a bit redundant to say “Frozen Blizzard” but it it important to note that this drink can be make shaken with ice, or blended with it. The drink also calls for 3 ounces of bourbon or blended whiskey which are two very different categories of whiskey which could shift the drink to either side of the taste spectrum. For this variation I decided to mix both the blended whiskey and the bourbon for a more well rounded taste (and also because my bourbon is 100 proof).

The drink has a strong and unblemished whiskey aroma which to any lover of the spirit is quite welcoming. This unique blended cocktail starts off a little sour, then leaves you with a tart whiskey taste on the mid palette and the finish. I do think the drink lacks a bit of flavor complexity despite the mixing of blended whiskey and bourbon. However, if you’re looking for something to blend that isn’t a vodka or rum based drink, this is well worth the try.

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

Frozen Blizzard

3 oz Bourbon (or Blended Whiskey) [1 1/2 oz of each used]
1 oz Cranberry Juice
1 oz Simple Syrup
1/2 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
Lemon Slice

blended blizzard

“Extra Chilly! To warm you up.”

Combine all ingredients in a blender with 1/2 cup of ice. Pour into a tumbler or wine glass. Garnish with a lemon slice (wheel).