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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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?”

Cocktail Fruit and Garnishes

So it’s been nearly 4 Months since you heard from me last and I thought it was about time for an update. Since early December I’ve been in the process of moving which as you may have guessed has put a damper on the bar considerably. I went from a strong 36+ bottle set, to a set of 1 (and some extras that no one uses anyway…like Campari.) In the process of moving from July to December I scaled back the home bar significantly, and now I’m starting from (near) scratch once again. The time in between however has allowed me to both learn and expand what I want this blog to contain.

While I started this blog with the intention of introducing a new cocktail every week, it has become more of an outlet for culinary creativity in the “craft cocktail” realm. My exploration of good and near perfect cocktails, has lead me to pursue a set of drinks that is both fine in its quality of ingredients, as well as in its creation. From about 2015 on it has been less about “new” drinks and more about ones that I feel are worth highlighting.

This concept of the “craft” cocktail is something that has stuck with me throughout though. Part of the artistry of the drink is more than just a new recipe, but also about the ingredients that you use. Subsequently one of my favorite YouTube channels – Common Man Cocktails expand their branding into a new channel called “The Craft Cocktail” There seems to be a trend of those that make cocktails, calling their art “craft” to mimic the exponential growth of the craft beer industry. That said, I think this blog is a unique reflection on that concept. In short I think a new tagline for the blog should be “Craft cocktaisl with an artist’s touch”

[Food for thought] But I digress…

Classic with a Twist

Classic with a Twist

I want to talk briefly today about the garnishes in cocktail, specifically the use of mint or fruit in some drinks. I have found over time that I really relish the maraschino cherry, or lemon wedge in a cocktail, as it adds not only color and contrast to a drink, but a unique bit of sweetness before or after finishing the cocktail. Finishing a whiskey sour (as I type) and having an orange or lemon slice and a cherry to finish the drink feels oddly satisfying. Fruit garnishes go a long way to making a drink both presentable as well as making it more well rounded.

Sucking on a lemon peel, or eating the pulp of an orange can make the taste of a drink really come to life! The “artistry” of craft cocktails is more than just spirits and bitters, but the garnishes as well! Don’t forget my fellow mixologists, that the garnish can be just as important as which whiskey you choose in your sours.

 

2 for 1: Torani Frozen Daiquiri

So, a few months back I was starting to make and review enough drinks for another blended cocktails week, but things got in the way and I ended up with only a couple daiquiris and a bunch of banana drinks (banana cocktail coming next post). Around that same time I also picked up a number of the Torani flavor syrups to supplement flavors in the bar. Among the few I got 2 of them created very unique and interesting variations on the traditional frozen Daiquiri. For these recipes I used the traditional Daiquiri recipe, but replaced the simple syrup with one of the Tornai Syrups, and of course blended with a handful of ice.

Frozen Strawberry Torani Daiquiri
Taste Profile: Equal parts sweet and sour. Tastes like concentrated springtime!

Frozen Green Apple Torani Daiquiri
Taste Profile: Strong candy flavor. Sweeter than what you’d expect from a Sour Apple Pucker. Tangy and sour.

Red berry goodness!

Red berry goodness!

 

Green Machine!

Green Machine

The Classic Mint Julep

I’m back in the new year for a classic cocktail that in many ways isn’t even a cocktail. The Mint Julep is basically just an excuse to drink 4 ounces of Kentucky straight bourbon. Not that you really need a good excuse, but either way it’s one of those drinks that’s perfect as long as you buy the right product. Pick up your favorite bourbon and make this sometime. Need a suggestion on which one? Old Granddad, Wild Turkey, or Makers Mark. Ok? Good. Now drink up.

Alcohol Taste Rating: 10/10 (it’s basically straight bourbon anyway)
Overall Rating 9/10

Mint Julep

4 oz Bourbon
1 tsp Simple Syrup
12-14 Mint Leaves
1-2 Mint Springs

Muddle mint leaves and simple syrup in the bottom of a tumbler glass. Add ice and bourbon. Stir well. Garnish with 1 or 2 mint springs.

mint julep

“A classic southern sipper”

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).

 

Black and Mint Shot

I’ll be the first to admit that a shot isn’t really a solo drink. In fact it’s not one that is even a “smart” choice on most occasions. However, the art of layering a shot really fascinates me. Specific gravity of different alcohols cause the higher percentages to float over more sugary and dense liquids. I modeled the Black and Mint after both taste and a strong visual component.

The drink starts with a hard bite, rolls into a powerful refreshing mint, and drops off with a sweet finish.

Alcohol Rating: 9/10
Overall Rating: 7/10
Make it Again? Currently on the Menu (but shots are more for parties)

 

black and mint shot

Black and Mint

Simple syrup
Green crème de menthe
Peppermint schnapps
Dark rum

Standard Shot Glass: Start with a dash of simple syrup at the bottom of the glass. Layer in crème de menthe to just under half, add peppermint schnapps until almost full. Splash dark rum on top