Friday, May 31, 2013




Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Three Wood Is Better Than One

Auchentosan distillery, known for the great lowland single malt Scotch they produce, is putting on a fun cocktail contest using their Three Wood single malt whisky they call "The Switch".  While you see cocktail contests abound from many different distilleries and companies, this one has a more enticing reward than simply fame and fortune, the winner(s) from North America & Europe will "switch" places and spend 14 days in the others respective continents for 14 days and work in one of the top bars in the world.  Now, I don't know about you but that sounds like a contest I would kill to win (OK, maybe not that extreme but pretty damn close).  The rules are pretty simple, you have to work in the industry and submit a cocktail using their Three Wood single malt whisky. 

The Three Wood is a fantastic single malt that, fittingly enough, garners its' name from the fact that it's aged in three specific wood casks.  First it's rested in North American used bourbon barrels, then transferred to Spanish Oloroso sherry casks, and finally matured in Pedro Ximenez sherry casks.  The resulting trifecta creates wonderfully rich aromas of toffee and butterscotch and delivers beautiful tastes of orange and chocolate.  The finish is smooth with medium peat and an almost grassiness to it.  Pretty nice all around. 

For the cocktail, I wanted to do something rich and full flavored to complement the flavors and aromas of the whisky.  I automatically looked to Benedictine for the herbal honey flavors, sweet and smoky sugarcane from Swedish Punsch and finish it by complementing and contrasting the orange with bittersweet Averna amaro.  While this may sound fairly rich, and yes it is in its' own respect, I find the smoky Scotch and a bit of citrus lemon helps balance all the ingredients which makes for an approachable, yet refined Scotch based cocktail.  Whether or not I'll win, well that's a long shot like most entries but I hope you'll help this humble mixologists get a once in a lifetime opportunity to shake and strain with the big dogs.  Go to and place your vote and also see all the other entries.  Cheers!

Gluttony For Punishment
3/4 oz Auchentoshan Three Wood Single Malt Scotch
3/4 oz Benedictine
3/4 oz Averna Amaro
3/4 oz Swedish Punsch
Lemon Peel for Garnish

Stir ingredients with ice, strain into a chilled coupe.  Express the lemon peel, garnish and enjoy.

Color:  Beautiful light brown and caramel
Flavor:  Toffee, smoky peat, honey, musk, fig, dates and herbal tones
Texture:  Silky mouth feel and smooth finish

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Okie Dokie Artichokie

Vegetables you can drink.  That's the focus of this month's Mixology Monday, hosted by Rowen at the Fogged In Lounge.  I think for most of us this instantly brings about visions of suppressing head splitting hangovers from an overly indulgent night of binge drinking by imbibing spicy Bloody Marys the next day.  Well, for most anyway as I loathe them.  Nope.  Vegetables rarely touch my glass.  Just thinking about blending up tomatoes spiced with horseradish and Worcestershire almost made me skip this month...And I know, technically tomatoes are a fruit, but with all the garnishments of pickled asparagus, celery, green beans and what have you, it's really more of a salad with a straw.  But after reading what Rowen had to say, I started pondering about I might use veggies more than I realized, and he delivers in a playful and inspiring way.

Want to get more vegetables but you’re always eating on the run? Maybe you hate vegetables but feel you should get more of them? Well then, how about a vegetable cocktail? No, not that nice little glass of red stuff Grandma put at each place setting—we’re talking something with a kick in it. You can definitely start with the little glass of red stuff and expand it to a Red Snapper-style drink like a Bloody Mary. Or how about a cucumber-scented cooler like a Pimm’s Cup, or maybe a cocktail featuring a vegetable-based ingredient like Cardamaro or celery bitters? Maybe you’ve been wondering if you can get more mileage out of that juice extractor before consigning it to the garage sale. However you get them in that glass, be prepared for the most fun with vegetables ever. Here‘s what to do.

Well, obviously anything Bloody Mary related will NOT be getting a makeover (well, perhaps at least this time), but it did occur to me that I use a vegetable based liqueur quite often, specifically an excellent amaro derived from the artichoke no less.  Of course, I am speaking of the wonderfully bitter and herbaceous Cynar. 

First of all, you have to realize that while this amari is made with artichokes, it doesn't taste like artichokes.  Perhaps, this is a good thing.  This stuff has been around since the early 50's throughout Europe and has been featured more commonly these days in American craft bars for the last few years.  Talented mixologists have created some great cocktails such as the Cynar Sour, Eeyore's Requiem, and one of my personal favorites, Robert Hess's Trident. 

I usually have amari play more background notes to my cocktails, but for you Rowen, this amaro will be the star of the show.  There are many flavors that play so well with Cynar, but for me, fig, orange and a great rye would suffice.  Insert quirky and perhaps a bit passĂ© play on words for a name and you got yourself a vegetable cocktail that won't find its way being passed under the table to Fido.

Choke On This Drink
1 1/4 oz Cynar
3/4 oz Rye
1/2 oz Dry Vermouth
1/2 oz Fig Infused Cognac
tsp Orgeat
dash Boker's Bitters
dash Bittermans Orange Cream Citrate Bitters
Lemon Twist Expressed and Discarded for Garnish

Stir ingredients with ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass.  Express the garnish and discard.

Color:  Medium brown
Flavor:  Pronounced bitterness with sweet, herbaceous tones and hints of fig, orange and lemon
Texture:  Medium body with a silky finish

Thanks for hosting this month Rowen and be sure to check how everyone else is getting their veggies this month.  Cheers!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

An Advocate for Advocaat

I have to say, while it's not the most common ingredient used in most cocktails today, advocaat is a great way to add texture and subtle flavor to a cocktail.  In fact, I really couldn't find many recipes that call for the stuff, save for a few mentioned on the web and in Simon Difford's, Difford's Guide #9, but nothing most would consider to be a craft cocktail. It's right up there with HPNOTIQ, Goldschläger and Fireball. The most popular drink I could find was a "interesting" mix of lemonade and advocaat called a Snowball....Not sure if this is the best example of how to use advocaat, but then again, that's the main reason for this blurb.

A traditional Dutch liqueur, advocaat is made from egg yolks, sugar and brandy.  In Mexico a similar blend is called rompope, made from eggs, milk, vanilla and spirits, while in England you have  a hot version with posset, which is derived usually from sherry or ale.  Here in the states we know it as eggnog.  Advocaat has a custard-like flavor and apparently they use this stuff for anything from cocktails to ice cream and waffle toppings.  I can see why it would not necessarily be something you go to when you think of a craft cocktail, but it deserves a second thought.  Advocaat brings a wonderful texture to cocktails, much like a flip, and also contributes subtle flavor notes as well.  Personally, I like the idea of not having to use a raw egg to get that silky, soft texture, and not having to shake the living hell out if for like a minute isn't all that bad either.

After tinkering for a bit in the cocktail lab, a dusty bottle of Strega caught my eye, and I started toying with idea of how it would pair with advocaat.  Strega is an Italian herbal disgetivo made from saffron, fennel and mint (among other things).  These strong flavors really interact well with the richness and honey profile of the advocaat, and with the addition of some spicy rye and allspice we would finally get some usage out of an uncommon ingredient in cocktails.  There are a fewcommercial brandsmake an advocaat liqueur, the most common one being from Bols, which I used here. Remember torefrigerate your bottle once you open it, and it should last you about a month after that. And, of course, you can always craft your own homemade version, simply click here here for the recipe.

Devil's Advocaat
1 1/2 oz Rye
3/4 oz Strega
3/4 oz Advocaat
1/2 tsp St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram
Nutmeg for Garnish

Shake with ice,and double strain into a chilled cocktail glass.  Garnish and enjoy.

Color: Golden cream
Flavor: Spice, honey, oak and earthiness with licorice, mint and honey
Texture: Full and creamy
I am very pleased with my results to make a real cocktail out of an otherwise unpopular ingredient.  Help spread the word; advocaat is not just for waffles!  Cheers.