Recipe: Thanksgiving Cocktails, 2015

Once again, the Thanksgiving holiday is here, and with it comes the assurance of a few things: the food will be good, the Lions will lose, and the drinks will be poured at a healthy and brisk pace. Here are a few recipes that we’ve received that we will be no doubt pouring in between the carving of the turkey and the fumbling of the football.

Winter_RespiteWinter Respite
2 parts Bacardi Gran Reserva Ocho Años
2½ parts ginger beer
1 part Carrot Eau de Vie
½ part lime juice
½ part smoked maple simple syrup*
grated coffee bean (for garnish)

Place all ingredients except coffee beans and ginger beer in a tumbler with ice. Stir and strain into a Collins glass with ice. Pour ginger beer over the top and finish with a bit of coffee beans grated on a microplane.

*Smoked Maple Simple Syrup – 1 cup Cold Smoked Maple Syrup and 1 cup water

Mix together and bring to a boil. To cold smoke the maple syrup, heat wood chips in a pie tin until they smoke, then put syrup in a bowl put them in a container and cover with foil for 35 to 45 minutes.

Sapphire_SpiceSapphire Spice
2 parts Bombay Sapphire gin
1 large heaping spoonful of pumpkin puree and/or pumpkin pie mix
1 tsb. dark brown sugar
dash of vanilla extract (7 drops)
2 dashes of Ground Cinnamon

Shake all ingredients vigorously with ice and strain into chilled martini glasses, then top with nutmeg.

Reserva Sparkler
1 oz. Jose Cuervo Reserva de la Familia Tequila
splash simple syrup
5 oz. Champagne
garnish with chocolate shavings

Add tequila and simple syrup in champagne flute. Top with Champagne and garnish with chocolate shavings.

Sauza-Harvest-DrinkThe Sauza Harvest (serves 8)
2 cups Sauza Signature Blue Silver 100% Agave Tequila
1 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup pumpkin puree

Combine ingredient in pitcher and stir until thoroughly mixed. Serve over ice in brown sugar-rimmed glasses. Finish cocktail with a star anise for a festive garnish (optional).

Cranberry_SaucedCranberry Sauced
2 parts Owl’s Brew Pink and Black (fresh brewed Darjeeling tea with hibiscus, strawberry and lemon peel)
1 part vodka
2 dashes Fee Brother’s Cranberry Bitters

Combine Pink and Black, vodka and cranberry bitters in a shaker with ice and shake. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a rosemary sprig.

Chai, Spice and Everything Nice
1-1/2 oz. Wild Turkey 81 (note: I upped it to Wild Turkey 101. Either one will do.)
1/2 oz. cinnamon syrup*
3/4 oz. chai infused sherry*
3/4 oz. fresh squeezed lemon juice
dash of cardamom bitters

Combine all ingredients in shaker with ice. Shake, and strain over ice into rocks glass. Garnish with grated cinnamon and orange slice.

*Chai Infused Sherry – Empty 1 bottle of sherry into a large bowl. Throw in 6 chai tea bags and squeeze to release oils. Steep for 3 hours. Give tea bags one last squeeze before discarding from the infused sherry.

*Cinnamon Syrup – Place equal parts sugar and water, plus crushed up cinnamon sticks (2-3 sticks per cup of sugar), into a pot and bring to a light boil. Reduce to a simmer and let sit for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, cool completely and strain.

Recipe: Halloween Cocktails, 2015

Aside from perhaps Christmas and St. Patrick’s Day, it seems that we receive the greatest number of cocktail recipe ideas for Halloween. Once again, we take the time to consider and test as many as possible (rough job, I know) in the comfort of our own test kitchen. Here are a few submissions that we’ve chosen as the best of the best this year. Hopefully one or more will find its way into your parties this year.

Courtesy of The Sea Fire Grill
1.5 oz vodka
.5 oz triple sec
.5 oz lemon juice
.5 oz cherry brandy
3 drops of Chambord

Pumpkin Bourbon Cider
Created by Larry Piaskowy
2 parts Basil Hayden’s bourbon
¾ part lemon juicepumpkin cider
½ part sweet vermouth
¼ tsp. superfine sugar
¾ part pumpkin puree
6 dashes Angostura Bitters
2 parts Dry Hard Cider
1 piece of fresh nutmeg (for garnish)
1 cinnamon stick (for garnish)

Combine pumpkin puree, superfine sugar, sweet vermouth, bitters and lemon juice into a mixing glass. Stir until sugar is nearly dissolved. Add bourbon and ice. Stir well and strain into a cocktail glass. Top with dry hard cider. Garnish with grated nutmeg and a cinnamon stick.

Bloody Bellini
4 oz Prosecco DOC, chilled
0.5 oz Campari
1 oz white peach puree
0.5 oz grenadine

In a pint glass, gently stir all of the ingredients. Pour the drink into a chilled flute.

sparklerPorton Autumn Sparkler
2 oz. Pisco Portón
0.5 oz. fresh lemon juice
1.25 oz. fig preserves
2 oz. sparkling wine
Fresh rosemary sprig and orange peel

Combine Portón, lemon juice, and preserves in a shaker and shake with ice. Double strain over large ice in rocks glass. Top with sparkling wine. Garnish with rosemary sprig and orange peel.

The Black Widow
Created by Tad Carducci, The Tippling Bros.
2 oz Diplomatico Reserva rum
0.5 oz. Amaro Lucano
0.5 oz. honey syrup
2 dashes Angostura

For the honey syrup: in a small pot over medium heat, combine 1 cup honey and 1 cup water and stir lightly until dissolved. Stir all ingredients and strain into a chilled cocktail coupe. Garnish with an orange peel and grated allspice.

harvestThe Harvest Moon
1 1/2 oz Hangar 1 Mandarin Blossom Vodka
3/4 oz Amaro Montenegro
1/2 oz lemon juice
1/4 oz honey
2 dashes Grapefruit bitters
Orange zest (for garnish)

Combine ingredients with ice, shake and strain. Garnish with orange zest and orange peel.

Cocktail Recipes for Labor Day, 2015

So this week we’ve published our 4,000th post on the site, and this is our 230th recipe entry. So if you can’t find anything interesting to drink in 5.75% of our publishing history, I don’t know what to tell you.

But what I can tell you is that summer is coming to an end. While part of the nation is still enjoying temperatures in the 80-90 degree range, elsehwere things are starting to cool off and change colors. Soon the aroma of pumpkin-spiced everything will permeate and annoy us all. So until then, try some of these for a last gasp before autumn’s arrival.

cucumberCrisp Cucumber Cooler
1.5 oz Deleón Platinum Tequila
.75 oz fresh lemon juice
1 oz simple syrup
1 oz English cucumber (or domestic) puree
Small pinch of sea salt

Shake all ingredients together and strain over ice in old fashioned glass. Garnish with long cucumber slice.

zenlionZen Lion
2 oz Deleón Platinum Tequila
.5 oz honey syrup
.75-1 oz lemon juice
3-4 oz Chamomile tea
1-2 dashes of lemon bitters

Build all ingredients in collins/tall glass. Garnish with Chamomile flowers. (Note: The flowers are totally optional. It is perfectly okay if you don’t use them.)

highspireHighspire Smash
Courtesy Austin Hope, Paso Robles, California
3 blackberries, reserve 1 for garnish
3 raspberries, reserve 1 for garnish
1/4 oz simple syrup
1 1/2 oz Highspire Whiskey
1/2 oz Campari
1/4 oz lime juice

In a rocks glass, muddle berries with the simple syrup. Add the remaining liquid ingredients. Add crushed ice, and give the cocktail a quick stir. Garnish with berries. Makes 1 cocktail.

Clyde May’s Apples to Apples
2 orange slices
2 brandied cherries
½ oz honey
1 ½ oz Clyde May’s Whiskey
½ oz sweet vermouth
2 oz hard cider

Muddle orange slices and cherries with honey. Add ice, whiskey, sweet vermouth and cider. Stir all ingredients.

cavaCava Royal
1½ oz freshly squeezed lime juice, plus more for rims
2 oz gin
1/2 cup superfine sugar (or 2 teaspoons per shaker)
1 bottle brut cava

Mix lime juice, gin, and superfine sugar in a 2-quart pitcher; chill until ready to serve, several hours. Dip rims of glasses in lime juice, then sugar, to coat with 1-inch-wide band. Measure 4 ounces cava into cocktail shaker filled with ice. Add 3 1/2 ounces lime juice-and-gin mixture, and shake; strain into 2 glasses, and add 2 to 3 drops of grenadine to each. Makes 12.

Negroni Slushy
4 1/2 oz G’Vine gin
2 1/2 oz Campari
2 1/2 oz La Quintinye Vermouth Royal Rouge
3 cups ice
orange slices for garnish

Combine gin, Campari and sweet vermouth in airtight container. Place in freezer and freeze for at least 8 hours and up to 3 days. When ready to serve, add chilled alcohol and ice to blender. Blend on high speed until uniform and smooth. Garnish with orange slice and serve immediately.

Blueberry Collins
2 oz Cachaça 51
3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
3/4 simple syrup infused with hibiscus
3 to 4 blueberries

Add ingredients in a shaker tin and shake with ice well. Pour over ice in a Collins glass and top with cold seltzer water. Drop a few blueberries in the glass for garnish.

Recipes for National Rum Day, 2015

Of all of the marketing-designated holidays which have come and gone over the years, few have had the staying power National Rum Day (August 16) has managed to muster. Aside from a few other special days (the Super Bowl and St. Patty’s come to mind), our inbox rarely gets this full of suggestions from PR firms. Here are a few we’ve tested and give our stamp of approval.

SIHSugar Island Hurricane
2 parts Sugar Island Coconut Rum
2 parts Sugar Island Spiced Rum
2 parts passion fruit juice
1 part orange juice
Juice of half a lime
½ part Crown Medium Amber Maple Syrup
½ part grenadine
Orange slice and cherry for garnish

Combine all ingredients garnish with orange slice and cherry.

Old Cuban
(now featured at Eleven Madison Park, NYC)
1 1/2 oz Diplomático Reserva Exclusiva
3/4 oz fresh squeezed lime juice
3/4 oz simple syrup
6 mint leaves
2 Dashes Angostura Bitters
Top with champagne

Add all ingredients, except Champagne, to a shaker filled with ice. Shake and strain in to glass, top with Champagne.

fdvFlor de Violette
1 1/2 oz Bacardi Gran Reserva Maestro de Ron
3/4 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz St. Germain
1 dash Crème de Violette
1 dash simple syrup

Shake all ingredients vigorously with ice and strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a lemon peel.

hdHemingway Daiquiri
2 oz Caliche Rum
1/2 oz maraschino liqueur
1/2 oz fresh grapefruit juice
3/4 oz lime juice

Pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well. Strain into a rocks glass.

Knuckle Dragger
1 oz. Shellback Silver Rum
1 oz. American whiskey
2 oz. pineapple juice
2 oz. ginger ale
Lime wedge (for garnish)

Build in a lowball glass, stir, add ice. The recipe didn’t specify which American whiskey to use, so we went with some Corsair Triple Smoke to add some heft to the drink.

Summer Rum Punch
1 bottle Afrohead Aged Dark Rum
1 cup fresh grapefruit juice
1 cup fresh lime juice
1 cup simple syrup
1/2 cup Aperol
1 cup soda water

Add thin slices of orange, grapefruit, lemons, and some fresh tarragon for punch garnish.

Review: West Sixth Heller Heaven Double IPA

lHellerHeavenCanWest Sixth brewing (aka: the guys that fought with Magic Hat over their logo) have been on a winning streak with seasonal offerings (I’m already counting the days until this year’s Christmas ale), and Heller Heaven is pleasantly no exception.

Lots of summer on the nose with an abundance of citrus, a little bit of pine and freshly cut grass. As expected. it is definitely sweet and floral on the taste, with tangerine and mango mixing around an aggressive kick of caramel at the end and a whole mess of hops throughout. Surprisingly easy drinking for a double IPA, this one easily bests the traditional IPA the brewery offers in its permanent rotation. Worth checking out before summer’s over, especially if you can get it straight off the tap.

9% abv.

A- / $10 per 4-pack /

Recipes for National Tequila Day, 2015

As with most holidays held in the summer, this one seems as if it should have its own weekend and not a single date. However, with July 24th falling on a Friday, it should be easy to stretch this one out over three days, no problem. Here are a few recipes sent to us from various folks over the last couple of weeks celebrating National Tequila Day. Some are pretty straightforward, and others do a good job at highlight tequila’s versatility in cocktails. Of course, drinking it straight up is always good, too. Enjoy!

CarpeCarpe Dia Punch
2 parts Milagro Añejo
1 part lime juice
1 part blackberry syrup
1 sage leaf
1 part ginger beer
Blackberries (for garnish)

Build all ingredients except ginger beer in a punch bowl over a block of ice. Top with ginger beer right before stirring.

palomaLavender Paloma
2 parts Milagro Silver
1 part grapefruit juice
.5 part lavender and vanilla simple syrup
.5 part fresh lime juice
Grapefruit peel and kosher salt (for garnish)

Mix ingredients and top with soda water. Add garnish. Sit on patio reading Elmore Leonard novels and listening to Steely Dan. (optional)

Fresa Breeze
Created by Tomas Delos Reyes
2 oz Partida Blanco Tequila
1/2 oz agave nectar
3/4 oz fresh lime juice
2 strawberries
2 tsp diced cucumber
Mint sprig (for garnish)

Muddle strawberries and agave nectar in a shaker. Add ingredients and shake over ice. Strain over ice and top with diced cucumber. Garnish with mint sprig (optional).

AOFAñejo Old Fashioned
2 slices of orange
2 scoops of sugar
3 drops Angostura Bitters
½ oz Herradura Añejo (we tripled this)
1-2 brandied cherries

In an Old Fashioned glass muddle the orange slices, sugar, and bitters. Add ice sphere to glass. Add Herradura Añejo. Garnish with brandied cherries.

(Note: As a resident of Kentucky, I was highly skeptical of this recipe and was ready to be offended. However, to my surprise it wasn’t blasphemous. Approach with an open mind.)

Fairweather Sour
Served at The Wayfarer in NYC
1 oz Milagro Silver
1 oz Pura Tirta Mezcal
1/2 oz pineapple puree
3/4 oz lime juice
3/4 oz jalapeño simple syrup
Pinch of fresh cilantro
Dash of Memphis bitters
Smoked paprika Salt (for rim)

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with a scoop of ice. Rim the rocks glass with the smoked paprika salt. Shake well and double strain into the glass over ice. Garnish with a slice of fresh jalapeño.

Recipe: 2015 Cinco De Mayo Cocktails

Another trip around the sun, another year of back-to-back celebrations of the Kentucky Derby and Cinco De Mayo. As such, there’s plenty for everyone to drink, and we’ve got more than a few recipes for your consideration. Party, Karamu, Fiesta, Forever.

Spicy Cerveza CocktailSpicy Cerveza Cocktail
1 1/2 parts Hornitos Plata tequila
1/3 part lime juice
3/4 part simple syrup
1 slice jalapeño
4 parts Mexican lager
Salt (for rim)

Muddle jalapeño in a glass with a salted rim, combine remainder of ingredients except Mexican lager in a shaker, shake vigorously, strain over fresh ice and add Mexican lager.

image001Amante Picante Margarita
Courtesy of  Juan Martinez (Toca Madera)
2 oz. DeLeón Platinum tequila
.75 oz. agave
1 oz. lime juice
Serrano pepper

Muddle two pieces of serrano pepper and clap 5 pieces of cilantro in a tin. Rim a highball with Tajin/Ghost pepper salt, shake all ingredients together and strain into a the highball glass. Garnish with a serrano pepper and sprig of cilantro.

Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 7.57.43 PMPina-Ta
1.5 oz. Botran Reserva rum
.75 oz. lemon juice
1 oz. pineapple juice
.75 oz. rosemary syrup

Mix ingredients, shake and strain over crushed ice in a rocks glass. Garnish with lemon wheel and rosemary sprig.

Courtesy of Goodfriend Beer Garden and Burger House in Dallas, TX
1 ½ oz. Blue Nectar Silver tequila
½ oz. Grand Marnier
1 jalapeno
½ oz. lime juice
¾ oz. agave nectar
2 oz. grapefruit juice
Crushed orange slice

Chop jalapeno and infuse in Blue Nectar. Add infused tequila, Grand Marnier, lime juice, agave nectar, and grapefruit juice to a shaker. Shake well. Garnish with an orange slice.

Camarena Caliente
2 oz. Camarena Silver tequila
¾ oz. Triple Sec
½ oz. sour mix
1 slice pineapple, muddled
1 dash of cayenne and cinnamon (Can substitute chili powder for cayenne)

Mix ingredients, shake and strain over ice. Sugar rim and garnish with a spice-dusted pineapple spear.

Nuevo Manhattan
(created by Leo Robitschek)
1 ½ oz Riazul Plata Tequila
½ oz Dolin Blanc
½ oz Punt e Mes
½ oz Combier
½ oz Nonino Amaro
3 dashes Angostura Bitters

Stir and strain into a coupe.

Recipe: 2015 Kentucky Derby Cocktails

We all know that the official, real deal drink of the Derby is the Mint Julep. Any suggestion otherwise borders on blasphemy within the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and is most likely met with reluctance elsewhere. Realizing full well that not everyone digs bourbon-based drinks, here are a few alternative cocktail recipes for your consideration…. aaaaaand some bourbon based variations. (Also check out the recently-published Grandstand Julep recipe.)

Affirmed WindsorAffirmed Windsor
1.5 oz. Oolong tea-infused Bushmills Original
1 oz. Noilly Prat dry vermouth
1 oz. Amaro Meletti
2 dashes Scrappy’s orange bitters
expressed lemon

Add first 4 ingredients to a mixing glass, stir with ice for 15 seconds, strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Express lemon oil from peel over cocktail, rim glass with lemon and drop in.

Silver Cucumber Gimlet
1.25 oz. Nolet’s Silver Dry gin
0.75 oz. fresh lime juice
0.5 oz. simple syrup
dash celery bitters
cucumber and basil (for garnish)

In a mixing glass, muddle cucumber and basil with syrup and lime juice. Add Nolet’s Silver, celery bitters, and ice. Shake well and serve up in a martini glass. Garnish with a long slice of cucumber and fresh basil leaf.

Kings horsesAll The King’s Horses
0.5 oz. Grey Goose Le Melon
1 oz. fresh grapefruit juice
1 oz. fresh lemon juice
1 oz. St. Germain
1 jalapeno

Muddle one slice jalapeno in a shaker. Add remaining ingredients and shake vigorously. Strain into a Collins glass filled with fresh ice and top with soda and jalapeno garnish.

Aperol Spritz
3 parts Cinzano Prosecco
2 parts Aperol
1 dash Soda
ice and a slice of Orange

Add ice and a slice of orange, pour in the Prosecco, the Aperol and add a dash of soda. This avoids the Aperol settling at the bottom.

SilverCupSilver Cup
1.75 oz Tincup Whiskey
0.5 oz Lustau Pedro Ximénez sherry
0.25 oz Peach Street Distillers peach brandy
8 mint leaves

In a julep glass, muddle the mint leaves with the sherry, then add the rest of the spirits and pebble ice. Swizzle, then add more pebble ice (forming a mound) and three mint sprigs for garnish.

Recipes: 2015 Spring Cocktails

The nation is thawing itself out from another weird and wild winter. Flowers are starting to bloom out, the sun is staying up a bit longer, the Kentucky Derby is right around the corner, and we’re worried about whether or not California is going to have enough water to make it through the summer. With this in mind, we present some cocktails to help usher in spring, and help with the inevitable welcome of summer.

Greta Garbo - 9Greta Garbo
1.5 oz Absolut Vanilla
1 oz lime juice
1 oz simple syrup
5 raspberries
bar spoon Rose Water
5 oz prosecco

Muddle 5 raspberries. Add ingredients. Shake and strain with mesh strainer into martini glass. Top with prosecco.

Pendleton Shandy
2 oz. Pendleton Whisky
1 oz. orange juice
2 oz. lemonade
your beer of choice (note: we used West Sixth’s Belgian Style Blonde)

Build ingredients directly into a pint glass or pilsner glass filled with ice. Garnish with orange slice.

image005 (1)DeLeón Salud
2 oz. DeLeon Platinum
½ oz. Palo Cortado sherry
1 oz. fresh pineapple juice
½ oz. fresh lime juice
¼ oz. passion fruit puree
1 dash absinthe
2 dashes Angostura bitters

Shake all ingredients vigorously with clean, cold ice. Strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice. Garnish with an orange peel.

GimletPineapple and Sage Gimlet
7.5 oz Bombay Sapphire gin
3.75 oz lime juice
3 oz simple syrup
7 sage leaves
5 oz pineapple juice

Build with ice in punch bowl and stir. Serves 5 people.

image015Sangria Flora
3 cups Sauvignon Blanc or dry white wine
¾ cup St. Germain elderflower liqueur
5 fresh strawberries (halved)
5 fresh raspberries
5 fresh blackberries
10 fresh grapes

Stir ingredients in a carafe. Let the mixture soak for 15 minutes (or longer if desired), then pour into ice-filled glasses.

peachtiniKetel One Peach-Tini
(note: Ignore the lame name. This one’s pretty dang good!)
1.5 ounce Ketel One vodka
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup
1.5 ounce white tea
2 dashes lemon bitters

Steep the white tea with white cranberry juice and raspberries. Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass and shake with ice. Double strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a lemon twist and raspberry.

Review: Elijah Craig Barrel Proof, Editions Six and Seven

ECBPThe barrel proof expressions of Elijah Craig have certainly cultivated a cult following in its own rite over the past few years. With proofs varying in all sorts of dimensions throughout the series, we figured it was time to take the most recent pair for a test drive.

Elijah Craig Barrel Proof, Edition Six – Each release in the series is 12 years of age, but you certainly wouldn’t know it by the heat of this monster. At 140.2 proof, we’re entering Stagg territories of alcohol content, and boy does it show. Mike Tyson-like punches of wood on the nose with a bit of mint, and the body is all oak, toffee, and pepper. Perfect winter snowstorm drinking, even taking it down a notch with a splash of water. A- / $65

Elijah Craig Barrel Proof, Edition Seven – A sharp contrast to round six, this weighs in at 128 proof and is by far the runt of the proof litter (most have been firmly in the middle 130s). However, this cut in proof shows just how beautiful and versatile ECBP can get when the heat gets turned down a bit. Lots of vanilla sweetness balanced with some dark fruit and oak on the taste. A little bit of burnt char on the body and it finishes with a fruit and spice after taste and a nice lingering burn. Definitely not the best of the bunch, but far from the worst either. B+ / $65