Making Cocktails with Fizzy Tickle Water

Tickle Water
We’ve all heard the jokes about wine being referred to as “Mommy’s juice.” Today, we’re bringing you a way to “adult” Tickle Water with cocktails to give your Mommy’s juice a sparkly spin.

Tickle Water is a carbonated beverage which is flavored naturally; it has no sugars or other preservatives. The label shows zero carbohydrates, calories, or sodium. It comes in five types: unflavored, green apple, watermelon, cola, and grape. The flavors are all very light, they don’t overpower your senses. We rate them all a B+. Cost is about $1.50 per 8 oz can.

Although Tickle Water is marketed as a kid’s beverage, don’t let that deter you from using it in adult cocktails. Right off it’s easy to say, “Hey, watermelon sounds like a margarita.” Or, “Unflavored makes as gin and tonic.” While those are true, we wanted something more. Here are several cocktail recipes we created with Tickle Water — with . But note, these are not sweet like a flavored soda. If you like your cocktails on the sweet side, then add simple syrup to give them more sweetness.

First is a Stengah, which comes from Britain and was popular in the early 20th century. Traditionally made from whiskey and soda water, we used the green apple Tickle Water for a nice effect. The recipe is pretty easy, too.

StengahStengah
2 oz. whiskey
2 oz. green apple Tickle Water

Pour both ingredients over ice in a highball glass.

This next cocktail is an original we’re calling a Watermelon Tickle.

Watermelon Tickle
3 oz. watermelon Tickle Water
1 ½ oz. pineapple rum
1 oz. coconut rum
3 oz. cranberry juice
½ oz. ginger simple syrup

Shake everything except the Tickle Water with ice. Pour into a tall glass with ice and serve. Who needs a garnish with something this yummy? If you really need one, then use a slice of candied ginger on a skewer.

Flowers and Fruits Refresher
4 oz. grape Tickle Water
2 oz. raspberry vodka
½ oz. crème de cassis
½ oz. crème de violet
3 dashes lavender bitters

Add all ingredients to a tea glass and gently stir. Add ice. Garnish with seedless red grapes.

Fluffy Duck
courtesy of 1001 Cocktails
1 oz. advocaat liqueur (see below)
1 oz. crème de cacao
1 oz. natural Tickle Water

Pour the crème de cacao into a chilled margarita glass one quarter filled with crushed ice. Next add the advocaat . Top off with the Tickle Water and serve. No garnish is necessary.

Note: We know advocaat is more commonly found around the winter holidays but don’t let that stop you. Here is the recipe we used to make our own.

Fluffy DuckAdvocaat
10 eggs
1 ½ cups brandy
1 1/3 cups sugar
½ tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Separate the egg yolks from the whites. You won’t use the whites so feel free to use them for something else. Add the vanilla, salt, and sugar in a medium sized pot. Whisk well and then add the brandy slowly. Cook on low heat, stirring constantly to prevent the eggs from forming clumps. Once the mixture coats the back of your spoon, then remove the pot from the heat.

Fill a large bowl half way with ice and water. Set the hot pot in the ice bath to let it cool. Once cool, strain out any lumps and pour the remaining liquid into a bottle. Refrigerate before use. It should keep for a couple of weeks.

The Dutch and Germans like to put advocaat atop their ice cream and on pancakes, as well as use it in cocktails.

drinkticklewater.com

Review: Lavazza Coffees – Santa Marta, Kilimanjaro, and Intenso

With coffee cocktails all the rage now, having a good cup of java as the base for a great drink is more important than ever. Lavazza’s two single origin coffees and its Intenso dark roast all bring something different to the table, and each will make a great base for a different style of coffee cocktail.

Lavazza Santa Marta – A single origin Colombian coffee from the oldest coffee growing region in the country, Santa Marta has a subtle smoky flavor, evocative of slightly burned sugar or burned toast. This coffee has a very nice acidity and balance and a smooth mouthfeel with nuts and caramel in the finish with very little bitterness. This coffee would be a great mate for bourbon, bonded whiskey, or Scotch, because it has the body and the sweetness to create a great balance between the spirit and the coffee. B+

Lavazza Kilimanjaro – Another single origin coffee, this time from high in the mountains of Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. The coffee has a balanced fruit undertone, with notes of cherry and blackberry. There is a slight sweetness to the coffee which compliments the acidity of the berry flavor. This coffee is extremely smooth and flavorful, and because of the inherent fruitiness, this coffee will work very well with rum-based coffee cocktails. B+

Lavazza Intenso  The darkest roast of the three, Intenso is a traditional Italian dark roast coffee. With unmistakable notes of dark chocolate, this well-crafted coffee has a wonderful mouthfeel. Underneath the chocolate is just a hint of oak, making for a complex yet thoroughly enjoyable cup of coffee. A great use of this coffee would be a brunch cocktail made with limoncello instead of a Bloody Mary or Mimosa… such as the one below. A

each $10 per 12 oz bag / lavazza.com

How about one of those new coffee cocktails, then?

The Coffeecello
6 oz cup of Intenso
1 oz Limoncello
1 sugar cube (optional)
Ice as needed

While the coffee is still hot, dissolve a single sugar cube in the coffee if desired.  Once the coffee is room temperature, put coffee and limoncello in a cocktail shaker, mix and pour over ice. Garnish the glass with a zest of lemon or a sugared rim.

Cupping Coffee with Intelligentsia

Intelligencia Coffee
There is no scent warmer and more inviting than that of coffee beans roasting. The moment we stepped through Intelligentsia’s front door, all traffic woes were forgotten in favor of a good mood. We knew the afternoon would only get better. We walked past huge bags of newly roasted coffee beans and paused a moment before an enormous roasting machine with its large paddles for stirring the beans as they roast.

Large roaster machineHave you ever experienced cupping coffee? During our visit to Intelligentsia Coffee’s San Francisco facility, we learned how to perform this delightful ritual used by coffee roasters to determine the quality of their newly roasted coffee beans. There are elements each bean is rated upon with regards to types of aromas and initial flavor profiles. We discovered that each roaster has their own proprietary checklist they work from.

Cupping coffee — a tasting system that involves a significant amount of protocol — isn’t quick and there’s a specific way to sip the coffee from the spoon. Loud slurp noises are acceptable! However, it is worth the time because fine beverages meant to be savored — including coffee.

For cupping, the first thing you do is lean over the cup to take in the aromas. You can use your hand to wave the scents toward your face. Aromas range from floral to leguminous; the goal is to identify additional scents, such as botanicals, floral, or citrus.

Next you sip the coffee and determine the following factors:

  • Taste – There are sixteen types of taste descriptors, ranging from acrid to delicate; then from soft to creosol. Elements like saltiness and bitterness levels are notated on a checklist.
  • Sweetness – How prevalent or how missing sweet notes are present in the brew. The type of sweetness can vary as well; honey-like or sugary or syrupy if overdone.
  • Acidity – Varying types of acidity can enhance a coffee’s flavor or add to bitterness. Acidity ranges from lactic to acerbic with the harshest being kerosene like.
  • Complexity – Complexity involves the balance of the flavors present in a cup and whether elements in the flavor profile complement one another or compete, creating odd or negative tastes.
  • Aftertaste – This is typically used to describe negative tastes at the end of a beverage. While it is often a sign of something wrong with the bean or during the roasting, it can be a pleasant association as well.

A Coffee Taster’s Flavor Wheel put out by the Specialty Coffee Association shows all the common elements to look for.

Our host, Mark Cunningham explained how any coffee is at its finest during the cupping and that it will never be better than at that moment. He told us that a good coffee will still taste good after it’s gone cold, but lesser quality coffees get bitter and harsh.

Our cupping completed, we came back to our coffee after touring the roasting floor to discover the truth in his statement. The cups of varying roasts tasted just as amazing as when we first sipped from the spoon. The big chain coffees’ burnt-tasting dark roasts are no longer palpable. Strong doesn’t need to be bitter or charred; in fact, it is much better when it isn’t.

Cupping RitualIntelligentsia also offers a variety of artisan teas called tisanes. We sampled two of them at the cupping. Both were wonderful blends of tea, spices, and botanicals such as cardamom, rose hips, and turmeric. They are expanding in the tea area by continuing to produce new blends.

Just how does Intelligentsia obtain their high quality coffees? By working with small, family owned coffee bean farmers around the world. Their buyers are very hands-on in their search for the best beans to purchase, taking the time necessary to visit the farms and sample the raw product. With the climate and soil compositions determining the flavors of the coffee after roasting, this is an important step. It makes sense when you realize that beans mature at different times of the year, depending upon where in the world the plants are growing. One thing Intelligentsia insists on are beans properly matured on the plant before harvesting. We liken that to the taste difference between garden grown tomatoes and those picked early and expected to ripen on the way to the grocery store. Most fruits and vegetables stop ripening once harvested so their flavors aren’t robust as those garden grown. Coffee beans wouldn’t be any different.

Just recently opened to the public (previously their clients were bars and restaurants), Intelligentsia has red coffee trucks which make appearances around town in San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York. Follow them on Twitter to find out where you can catch them. They also recently opened a monthly coffee subscription service. Additionally, Intelligentsia offers classes on brewing for barista training.

In closing, we learned that Two Sisters Bar and Books in San Francisco created a couple of cocktails featuring Intelligentsia coffee. They were kind enough to share those recipes with us. We made them with the Intelligentsia coffees and found them both to be amazing cocktails. Give them a try and let us know what you think.

The Bluegrass BuzzThe Bluegrass Buzz
created by Mikha Diaz for Two Sisters Bar and Books
3 oz. Intelligensia Cold Brew from cold brew concentrate (diluted at a 6:1 ratio)
1 1/2 oz. Old Forester 86 bourbon
1/2 oz. brown sugar simple syrup (equal parts brown sugar, gently packed, and boiling water; stir to combine)
lightly whipped heavy cream

Combine cold brew, bourbon and brown sugar simple syrup in a small tin or pint glass. Fill with ice and shake. Strain into a small rocks glass. Top with 2-3 tablespoons of lightly whipped cream.

The Sharp Shooter
created by Kathryn Kulczyk for Two Sisters Bar and Books
1 1/2 oz. Cold Brew Cognac (4 oz. El Diablo blend, ground for cone drip filter, infused into 750 ml. Maison Rouge 100 proof cognac)
3/4 oz. Ancho Reyes liqueur
1/2 oz. Carpano Antica vermouth
3 hard dashes Fee Brothers Aztec Chocolate Bitters

Combine cognac, liqueur, and vermouth in a small tin or pint glass. Fill with ice and shake. Strain into a small rocks glass. Top with three whole coffee beans.

intelligentsiacoffee.com

Review: Cocktail & Sons Fassionola Syrup (2017)

Fassionola bottle shot

Cocktail & Sons’ seasonal Fassionola — a red tiki syrup that includes pineapple, mango, passion fruit, hibiscus flowers, strawberries, and lime zest — is back in time for the summer, and the company has tweaked the recipe in time for the inauguration of its partnership with Ruth’s Chris steakhouse, where the syrup will be featured on the cocktail menu.

This year’s version sees the strawberry dialed back a bit and the pineapple notes taking more of a central role (while still allowing for plenty of clean and fresh strawberry character). Very tiki in tone, it pairs well with a lighter, fruitier rum, which lets the freshness of the Fassionola show itself with gorgeous clarity. It’s a definite improvement over 2016’s model — give it a spin in your next Hurricane!

A- / $15 per 8 oz. bottle / cocktailandsons.com

Review: Blank Slate Rich Simple Syrups

This quartet of mixers comes from Blank Slate Kitchen, which whips up nothing but “rich simple syrup” in its Brooklyn kitchen. The four products on offer range in color from golden brown to molasses black, each crafted from palm sugar and (save for the base model) all flavored in some simple but powerful way.

Each comes in an 8 oz. jar and is ready for cocktailing. (Check the back label for recipe ideas!)

Blank Slate Palm Sugar Rich Simple Syrup – A lively syrup, dark brown and quite malty, like a homebrew malt syrup, tempered with nuts and notes of coconut. Versatile, but the syrup pairs especially well with rum. A- / $12

Blank Slate Vanilla Rich Simple Syrup – As expected, the palm sugar syrup finds a companion in strong vanilla overtones — and they’re authentic, as this is made with whole vanilla beans. Lush and powerful, this pairs even better with rum, pulling the two spirits together to reveal a rum cake character. A / $15

Blank Slate Black Pepper Rich Simple Syrup – More nuanced than the vanilla — here the pepper is understated and, on its own (or rather, with plain water), the spice doesn’t really pop at first, lending the syrup more of a vague earthiness and just a hint of heat. (For best results: stir, don’t shake, this one, to free the pepper from clumping at the bottom of the bottle.) Pairing this one is tough; rum and whiskey didn’t impress me, but with vodka you could really catch the peppery essence more clearly. B+ / $13

Blank Slate Bird’s Eye Chili Rich Simple Syrup – Lighter in color (and density of flavor), infused with bird’s eye chili pepper flavors. This syrup offers the softest sweetness of the bunch, and the chili is present and pungent, without being overpowering. Works well with vodka, but better — surprisingly — with gin. B+ / $12

blankslatekitchen.com

Review: Coco Cocktail

Coconut water plus booze? Now you can get your electrolytes and your buzz in a single can, courtesy of Coco Cocktail, which is 70% coconut water, plus just enough hooch to make you forget you’re drinking coconut water.

Technically Coco Cocktail is made from powdered coconut water on top of a base of water, cane sugar, and “OTS orange wine,” which is “other than standard orange wine,” which is basically a cheap class of alcohol that lets you put “wine specialty” on the can instead of “malt beverage.” #REFRESH all you want (per the instructions on the can) while being excited that you’re drinking an all natural product — but understand there’s still a lot of mystery booze in the kit.

As for Coco Cocktail in actual consumption, it’s a lemon-lime flavored, lightly fizzy concoction with a very sour body. Coconut water has never been my bag, so I appreciate the effort to cover it up with fruit flavors, but Coco Cocktail takes it all a bit too far, with a mouth-puckering finish that’s as powerful as many a sour candy out there. Light notes of the underlying coconut bubble up here and there, but these are quickly washed away by the flavoring. In other words, if you want to drink coconut water, but also booze, and also not taste the stuff, well, here’s one way to do it.

5.6% abv.

C- / $10 per four-pack of 12 oz cans / cocococktail.com

Update 2/10/2017. A reply from Coco Cocktail’s parent company CEO Franz Tudor:

I would like to thank you for taking the time to review COCO Cocktail #REFRESH.  We respect all opinions regarding our product, but I would like to address a few comments that were made in your review.

 In response to the “cheap class of alcohol” comment I would like to provide the following.  OTS Orange Peel Wine is far from cheap and in its pure form tastes more like a very pure vodka.  The orange peels are turned into a molasses which is then fermented.  This process produces a very clean, gluten free and non-gmo alcohol, there is nothing “cheap” and there is no mystery with the OTS orange peel wine used in #REFRESH.  OTS wine is nothing like malt in many regards mainly quality, gluten free, non-gmo and there is no aftertaste.  The OTS wine we use could be consumed as a standalone cocktail and we pride ourselves as using only the cleanest ingredients and stand behind everything contained in #REFRESH and all future Coco Cocktail products.  In fact our products undergo more testing by certified independent labs than any alcoholic beverage in the market.

While your article mentions coconut water, it fails to comment on the vitamin and mineral content of #REFRESH.  This is the first alcoholic beverage to ever be able to claim as per US FDA regulations that it is a “Good” source of several essential vitamins; A, C, D, E, B1 & B6.  Did you know that 95% of the population is vitamin E deficient and 90% are potassium deficient? I would further emphasize that all sources of vitamins and minerals in #REFRESH are from actual food sources and are fully bioavailable to the human body unlike the synthetic vitamins used in many non-alcoholic beverages including Naked Juice.  Pepsi recently paid fines for using synthetic vitamins in Naked Juice and misleading consumers in their advertising and packaging.  Most non-alcoholic beverages in the market claiming vitamin content are from synthetic vitamins which typically have bioavailability rates of 10-12%, meaning when a product states 100% of vitamin C and the source is synthetic your body will only use and absorb 10-12% of the advertised content.  The US FDA recently changed labeling regulations for products utilizing synthetic vitamins.  There is absolutely nothing synthetic in #REFRESH.  I will and have compared our product to multiple fresh pressed juices any time as the majority of the time #REFRESH has a superior nutritional profile and wait until POW! hits the market as it achieved US FDA regulations to claim an “EXCELLENT” source of vitamins adding multiple B vitamins and vitamin K in addition to the vitamins found in #REFRESH.

We have created a special process to make our coconut water easier to store and transport.  Once rehydrated our “powder” creates REAL and All Natural Non-GMO coconut water that would compete with any coconut water currently available on the market in both taste and nutritional profile.  The US FDA has reviewed our process and ruled that our coconut water “powder” was still an All Natural Juice (the FDA classifies all coconut water as juice).  We add nothing to our coconut water unlike many of the leading non-alcoholic coconut water brands on the market.  Each can of #REFRESH is 70% coconut water and contains 177mg of potassium per 12oz serving and only 7mg of sodium, the appropriate hydration formulation considering most in the US are not sodium deficient in their daily diet.

The SuperFruits Mangosteen and Garcinia Cambogia are also added to #REFRESH.  These SuperFruits are excellent sources of antioxidants.

As far as taste goes.  We use real fruit extracts and not “All Natural” flavors as the dirty industry secret is that those flavors are made with chemicals that happen to be classified as natural, but often contain not even a trace element of the actual fruits.  This is not the case with #REFRESH and the extracts we use as flavor.  While it does have a strong or tart citrus flavor, there is a large population who prefer tart over sweet.  In addition, considering the large number of cocktails include something citrus and something bubbly, #REFRESH makes an excellent and nutritious mixer with spirits ranging from vodka to whiskey.  Try it once instead of using sodas, high sugar content juices or energy drinks (which by the way it is very dangerous to mix caffeine and alcohol).  Taste like beauty is in the palette of the drinker.  Yes I have seen the sour patch face on occasion, but I have also heard delicious and that is so refreshing the majority of the time and is supported by our current sales ramp.  With that said we are preparing to launch a pomegranate berry flavor called POW! that will appeal to the sweeter in palette but will only contain 13g of total carbs per 12oz serving and 100 calories. 

Again, I thank you for taking the time to review and I respect your opinion, but wanted to address some of the misunderstandings contained in the article.   If you have further interest in better understanding our products and company mission I am available at any time to address your questions and comments.

Cheers & To Your Health!  Franz Tudor, CEO of Healthy Beverages, LLC and Co-Creator of COCO Cocktail.

Review: Smirnoff Spiked Sparkling Seltzers

Alcoholic water isn’t a new thing, but Smirnoff’s entry into the market is bound to give “hard seltzer” a bigger presence on the shelf. Available in three “invigorating” flavors (with no artificial flavors added), the seltzers pack just 90 calories and 4.5% abv in each 12 oz. can. We tried all three. Thoughts follow.

Smirnoff Spiked Sparkling Seltzer Orange Mango – Surprisingly fragrant, with both orange and mango notes distinct, particularly on first cracking open the can. On the palate, it’s rather mild and slightly sweet, but the significant, creamy fizziness give it a clean and fresh finish. Rather harmless. B

Smirnoff Spiked Sparkling Seltzer Cranberry Lime – A low-cal cosmo as a fizzy drink? Here the berry notes come across on the strong side, and the sweetness is a little overbearing at times compared to the more subtle Orange Mango. Fans of sweeter sodas may find this more appealing than me. C+

Smirnoff Spiked Sparkling Seltzer Watermelon – Watermelon is always a tricky flavor, and here it comes across largely as expected, a bit like Jolly Rancher candies melted down and mixed with fizzy water. The least nuanced of the group. C-

each $9 per six-pack of 12 oz cans / smirnoff.com

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