March 3, 2017
You know this, I know this, everybody knows this – I believe good drinks should have good names, and when creating drinks you need to create names too. Okay, that’s out of the way. But here, really, the change is so minor! The Cactus Berry is a favorite spring-and-early-summer drink of mine, from Wine Cocktails, and as I was dreaming of spring recently, I decided it would be a perfect fit for today. But, it usually uses Merlot (along with tequila, Cointreau, and lime juice), and I didn’t have such. But I did have a bottle of Donini Settegrappoli, which is an Italian red, rich, lush, full of body, perhaps I think the best red wine in the world. If I can go a little overboard (admittedly, Donini is my favorite winery in the world, too). So, I thought it might be perfect. And guess what? I was right! You can be right, too, if you try this drink.
The Italian Cactus Berry (mostly from Wine Cocktails)
1-1/2 ounces Donini Settegrappoli Italian red wine (or another amazing wine)
1-1/2 ounces tequila (blanc, usually)
3/4 ounce Cointreau
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
Lime wedge, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the wine, tequila, Cointreau, and lime juice. Shake well.
2. Strain the mix into a cocktail glass through a fine strainer. Garnish with the lime wedge and serve.
June 17, 2016
This tequila champion takes its name from a quote from General Ignacio Zaragoza, who commanded the forces at the battle of Puebla (where he, in a massive upset, won the day, and that winning is what is celebrated on Cinco de Mayo, but just because that’s a fact, it doesn’t mean that you should only have this drink then. No, no, no! This drink is good anytime. Know that, and you can skip the whole upset thing, and just be happy). It uses the swell Corralejo Tequila Reposado as its base, a tequila crafted out of 100% blue agave, and then said tequila is aged in American oak for at least three months. The end result is a smooth agave-spice-caramel flavor that mingles dreamily with sweet vermouth, orange bitters, and a hint of citrus in this very drink.
The National Arms
1-1/2 ounces Corralejo Tequila Reposado
1 ounce sweet vermouth
1/4 ounce lemon juice
2 dashes orange bitters
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the tequila, vermouth, juice, and bitters. Shake well.
2. Strain through a fine strainer into a cocktail glass. Garnish with the lemon twist.
June 2, 2015
I recently received the Uncommon Goods’ Molecular Mixology Cocktail Kit in the mail – without even ordering it! I know, I’m lucky (and trying not to be smarmy about, too). It’s an interesting combo kit in a way, with three boxes covering fun ways to science-up three classic drinks, the Margarita, Mojito, and Cosmopolitan.
Each box contains recipes for three different molecular mixology takes on the drinks, including making “caviar” bubbles, tasty foam, and what I’d call liquid “spheres,” as well as the food additives and some of the tools needed to make the drinks. It’s like a little chemistry kit that just needs booze (and sometimes some mixers and stuff) to take your drinking into another realm, a sorta futuristic feeling place that’s still awfully jolly (oh, I suggest when you get your molecular mixology on, you do it with friends. It’s even more jolly. Of course this is pretty much true with all drinking)!
Oh, wait, before I get in to my experimenting with the kit, I suppose a little about UncommonGoods might be, well, good. Heck, instead of me trying to talk it out, let me tell you what they say:
UncommonGoods is a retailer that endeavors to feature unique designs and handcrafted gifts created in harmony with the environment and without harm to animals or people. We make it our mission to support and provide a platform for artists and designers; in fact, half of what we sell is made by hand. Most of the products we carry are created right here in the USA, and about one-third of our entire collection incorporates recycled and/or upcycled materials.
And now you know! And now we can get to the drinks. I took on (with the help of wife Nat) the Margarita sphereification first (and, I’ll admit, it’s the only one so far, though I look forward to more), cause in some past molecular drinking, I always love the sphere-ing. Really!
The kits come with nice little recipes books. I’m not gonna walk through every step, cause that’d get long. But will give the highlights. You mix a little calcium lactate with some water, orange liqueur, and mango, freeze it into spheres (in the handy sphere freezing tray), mix some water and sodium alginate, drop the frozen spheres in it, then rinse them with water, and top them with tequila, coconut milk, and lime. Boom!
The instructions were by-and-large pretty good (it would have been nice to have a general idea how long the spheres will take to freeze, as the instructions just flow as if that doesn’t take time – but that’s pretty easy to figure out). I wasn’t a huge fan of the tequila-and-coconut milk combo as it was, honestly. But I loved making more of an actual “deconstructed” Margarita (as they call it in the book), just with tequila, lime, and the orange liqueur (I used Gran Gala) mango spheres:
I love, love, love slurping the tequila and lime and sphere, and then breaking the spheres open in my mouth (hah, that sounds bad – but tastes so, so good). The whole process creates this little skin around the orange liqueur/mango liquid combo, and when you bite down, all that flavor is a blast. A blast! Very swell stuff.
I can’t wait to try more, both the other recipes for the Marg and the other two cocktails, but also playing around with my own recipes using some of the science-y stuff that came along. Neato!
February 20, 2015
This border-busting concoction combines a couple of ingredients that are from fairly different points on the compass: tequila (that’s the southern one), and Washington State’s own Skip Rock Distillery’s Spiced Apple liqueur. The former I’m guessing you know about, but the latter uses local Jonagold apples, and a little bit of sweet and spice, in a dandy manner – meaning, it’s a liqueur that lets the flavor shine through, one that makes a great pairing with tequila and other things. However, when making this cocktail with those two ingredients, I realized that the whole Mason/Dixon quandary was keeping it from fully delivering the awesome, and that I needed one or two last mediators to really make things hum. After some hemming and hawing (and by that I mean, testing and testing), two unexpected other ingredients fell into place: Lillet and Scrappy’s orange bitters. The end result is . . . well, try it and see (okay, a hint: it’s darn tasty).
Up North, Down South
2 ounces tequila blanco
3/4 Skip Rock Spiced Apple liqueur
1/4 ounce Lillet
Dash Scrappy’s orange bitters
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add everything Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass.
October 12, 2012
As anyone knows, a week on this blog equals, usually, three posts (sue me if that seems wrong—my lawyers are at the bar). Which means, sadly, Shot Week is already coming to an end. Be sure you read Shot Week Day 1 and Shot Week Day 2 to get the full story. But the basics are thus: cocktail genius and genuinely nice fella Andrew Bohrer has a delicious new book out, called The Best Shots You’ve Never Tried. It’s bringing the idea of the shot, a shorter drink, to a higher plateau. Instead of shots thrown down the throat rapidly so-as to avoid tasting them, the shots in his book are ones to savor and share. So, quit pussyfooting around—buy the book. If Shot Week so far wasn’t enough to sway you, check out the below recipe for the diabolical Diablita, which you should consume rapidly to ensure the devil doesn’t enter your mouth.
1 ounce reposado tequila
.25 ounce crème de cassis
.25 ounce lime juice
2 ounces ginger beer
1. Pour ingredients into a shot glass and slam.
June 18, 2012
It seems like summer is upon us (at least everywhere outside of my little corner of the northwest, as it’s, oh, 50 degrees and cloudy here. Which might lead you to think I’m complaining. But I’m not. Cause I know July and August will be wonderful and everyone living outside of here will be melting, melting, like a bad witch. Not that I want everyone to head this way duing those months, though. A few, sure, but not everyone. The bars would be too crowded. But I digress). Which means it’s time to start focusing the sipping on seriously refreshing liquid solutions. And when I want refreshing and light and summery stuff, I usually start by browsing Wine Cocktails, which is a book of my very own. It’s full of prescriptions for the summer months (not actual prescriptions, for those head-shaking pharmacists in the room. But I think you know what I mean), including the below number, the Cactus Berry. A relative of the Margarita (another fine sunshine-y drink), the Cactus Berry goes like shoes and socks with spicy food and rising temperatures. This recipe’s for two, cause summer’s more fun in pairs.
3 ounces Merlot
3 ounces white tequila (blanco, yo)
1-1/2 ounces Cointreau
1 ounce fresh lime juice
2 lime slices for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the Merlot, tequila, Cointreau, and lime juice. Shake exceedingly well (as if you were shaking cactus thorns from your hands).
2. Strain the mix into a cocktail glass. Garnish with the lime slice and serve.
PS: I think using Herencia Tequila or Dos Manos Tequila will make your summer even more memorable.
October 4, 2011
The Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz Rob Roy release party is only 4 days away (it’s happening, if you’ve been in the outback, on 10/8, from 2 to 4), and I’m already twitching with excitement about having one of the wonderful drinks bartender supremo Andrew Bohrer will be whipping up with penultimate panache. He’s doing two from the book, the Bitter Handshake and the Bruja Smash, the latter of which I’m going to tempt you with today. It’s an kind-of-crushed-ice-y affair, using one of my all-time favs, Italian spicy (as in, using spices like saffron) and gold liqueur Strega, alongside tequila and some fruity goodness all mixed up with balance, care, and craft. And muscles. Jeez, if that’s not enough to start mouths a-watering, then I suppose I’ll put the recipe here, right now:
7 fresh mint leaves
7 fresh raspberries
1-1/2 ounces white tequila
1 ounce Strega
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 mint sprig, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with crushed ice. Add the mint leaves, raspberries, tequila, Strega, and lemon juice. Shake really well.
2. Dump the contents of the shaker (no straining here) into a large tulip-style beer glass or other good-sized pretty vessel.
3. Fill the glass with crushed ice, garnish with the mint sprig, and serve with a straw.
PS: In the actually GBVF version of the Bruja Smash, I talk a lot about ol’ greenskin, the Incredible Hulk. How? Why? Well, you’ll have to get a copy, friends, to find out. And you can, this Saturday. See you there.
September 3, 2011
I don’t want you to think I’m getting routine in my drink making and testing and making some more. But I just couldn’t resist conjuring up another mighty mix that maximized the potential of the Deluxe Foods Earl Grey syrup (used last in The Earl of 15th Avenue cocktail), which will soon be available in better stores near you. Or online at the Deluxe Foods site. It has a hint of smoky-ness and a hint of citrus and, naturally, a little sweetness. All those combined had me dreaming of mixing it with a smoky tequila (and yes, these are the kinds of things I dream about. Well, these things and late 1950s era Kim Novak. A boy’s gotta have multiple hobbies), a tequila like the Casa Noble Reposado, which has a smooth smoke mingling with vanilla, citrus, and agave flavors. So, I made the dream a reality by mixing the above two ingredients, and then upped the ante with a little fresh squeezed oj, for health reasons. Delicious, I must admit:
2 ounces Casa Noble Reposado tequila
1/2 ounce Deluxe Foods Earl Grey syrup
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed orange juice
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add everything. Shake well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Drink with a hat on. Or drink out of a hat. Up to you.
A Note: Shoreditch is a neighborhood in London. Earl Grey tea is named for the 2nd Earl Grey, who was England’s Prime Minister at one point and who lived in London. Tequila is from Mexico, where the sombrero originates. Now you know about the name. As a bonus, Vince Noir once called himself a Shoreditch vampire. And he’d certainly like this drink.