Thursday, July 5, 2018

SiscoVanilla Makes The Libations for the 4th July 5, 2018

Hope everyone had a safe and festive July 4th. Sorry for the lack of posts as of late. Been busy writing for my other blog SiscoVanilla Hits the Bricks. So Momma-San and I were invited to a cookout at Papito's and Ro's place and of course I couldn't arrive empty handed to the festivities. Since I had a premade Arnold Palmer made, I decided that I would make it a bit more adult. Aside from that I made a Rose Sangria and another light vodka cocktail. Here is what the three libations looked like:

Adult Arnold Palmer, Summer Rosé Sangria, Spring Fling

I'll describe each from left to right:

Adult Arnold Palmer:

Very simply put, the Adult Arnold Palmer I made was made up of two parts of Earl Gray Lavender iced tea and lemon/limeade and one part Tito's Vodka. That's it. The host of the party really liked this one. It was very light and refreshing. 

For more information on how I made the Arnold Palmer part of the cocktail, check out my post on Homemade Arnold Palmer July 5, 2018.

SiscoVanilla's Summer Rosé Sangria:

This one was heavily influenced by the Summer Rosé Sangria recipe by the Barefoot Contessa Ina Garten. Here is her recipe:
1 (750 ml) bottle good rosé wine
1/2 cup Pom Wonderful pomegranate juice
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (3 lemons)
1/4 cup superfine sugar
3 tablespoons Grand Marnier
1 tablespoon Cognac or brandy
Water and ice, plus extra ice for serving
1/2 cup fresh raspberries
8 large fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered
2 red plums, pitted and sliced ¼ inch thick
Combine the rosé, pomegranate juice, lemon juice, sugar, Grand Marnier, Cognac, 1 cup of water, and 1 cup of ice in a large glass pitcher. Stir in the raspberries, strawberries, and plums, cover, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours but preferably overnight.
When ready to serve, fill wine goblets or highball glasses halfway with ice. Pour the sangria over the ice, spooning some of the macerated fruit into each glass. Serve ice cold.
For mine I doubled the Barefoot Rosé and Pomegranate portions. Added 1/2 cup of Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur, 1/2 cup of Grand Marnier and added an extra tbsp of Remy Martin Cognac. I omitted the superfine sugar since the Rose was already sweet. In terms of fruit, I added Strawberries, Blueberries, Raspberries, Blackberries, Black Plums and Red Plums.

Now I'm not a wine dinker so I really didn't know how this would turn out. But I have to say that I liked it. It was very light but potent. The peeps really enjoyed this sangria. I liked it as well. Will definitely make this again for a get together.

Spring Fling:

I have to admit, I don't quite remember where I found this particular cocktail. A search for a Spring Fling Cocktail gives a number of results, using a variety of spirits. This one called for the following ratios for one cocktail:
1oz Tito's Vodka
0.5oz Amaretto Disaronno
2oz Cranberry Juice
1oz Pineapple Juice
I scaled it up to fill the bottle. The pineapple juice hits the nose immediately. While the cocktail contains three relatively sweet components, it really isn't overly sweet. Its a pleasurable sipper for a hot day, like it was on the 4th.

Overall, a great time was had by all. I have some posts coming up. So keep your eyes peeled for them.

Until Then Keep Drinking,

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

SiscoVanilla Has a Filthy Murica at Pizzeria UNO June 12, 2018

I went out after the closing shift at the café for some dinner and ended up at the Pizzeria UNO in White Plains. After having a vegetarian deep dish pizza, I moved to the bar for a last beer and drink. Now, why I went back to the Southern Comfort is beyond me.

Simply put, combine a Samuel Adams with a Southern Comfort on the rocks for what myself and Justin of Dubbers Oldtown Bar and Grill (172 Main Street, Salinas, CA 93901) called the Filthy Murica...

You have Boston and New Orleans blending for a marriage of North and South. You don't get any more American than Brahman brewskis and creole spirits. Right?

Or as Mr. Saunders said when I text him the picture: Soco rocks! That's filthy, Mr Sisco!

Yes it is Señor Saunders. Yes it is.

If you are anywhere old Salinas in California, swing by Dubbers. Tell them SiscoVanilla sent you.

Until Then, Happy Drinking,


Saturday, June 9, 2018

SiscoVanilla Has a Negroni for Negroni Week at Finns Corner

Negroni week is upon us in the cocktail world. From June 4 to June 10, bars around the world are working in conjunction with Campari and Imbibe magazine to make the classic cocktail for charitable causes. But don't let me describe it, here is what Negroni Week is about from the Negroni Week website:
Welcome to Negroni Week, presented by Imbibe Magazine and Campari. Imbibe launched Negroni Week in 2013 as a celebration of one of the world’s great cocktails and an effort to raise money for charities around the world. From 2013 to 2017, Negroni Week grew from about 120 participating venues to over 7,700 venues around the world, and to date, they have collectively raised nearly $1.5 million for charitable causes.
The cocktail has a somewhat cloudy origin story. Most agree that the cocktail was created and named after the adventurous Italian Count Camillo Negroni, though there are some who dispute this. There has been enough research both in favor of the Count and against. For more on the story, I recommend you check out the Count Camillo Negroni website and New Evidence: The Real Count Camillo Negroni from the Drinking Cup website

While there are many variations on the Negroni that are made by many bartenders, I decided for this post to just make the classic.

As my friend Melvin likes to describe the Negroni: Heaven in a glass. The cocktail is balanced with equal proportions of Gin, Campari and Vermouth Rosso.

Campari gets a bit of a bad rap from many drinkers due to its bitter qualities. Many a drinker that I have served in the past have cringed when offered to have a Campari drink such as an Americano or a Negroni made for them. It is an acquired taste.

For me, I tend to get the Campari hit me in the back of the tongue, at the corners. The Campari just make my tongue tingle from the difference from the norm of flavor. Given the proper chance and respect, the Negroni is quite the delight. Like Melvin aptly described: Heaven in a glass. Here are my thoughts upon having the Negroni:

So go out there this week and have yourself a Negroni not only for your pleasure but for a good cause. Oh, and this one also counts for the Old Man Drinks challenge. Another check on the checklist.

Now I know I have some incomplete posts to present to you fine folks. No need to fret, they are a coming.

Until Then Happy Drinking,


Monday, May 28, 2018

SiscoVanilla Has a Harvey Wallbanger Part I

Here's part two of my journey to the decade that I was born: The Seventies, as part of the Old Man Drinks cocktail challenge. As with my last post SiscoVanilla Has a Tequila Sunrise, I decided to focus on a cocktail that saw its heyday during the disco era: The Harvey Wallbanger.

Now I was too young to even know about the Harvey Wallbanger character, but according to cocktail history Harvey Wallbanger (the cartoon character) was created by ad-man Bill Young with the tagline “My name is Harvey, and I can be made.” Now the mythology on the name Harvey Wallbanger varies depending on the source.

The Old Man Drinks author Robert Schnakenberg states that the drink was created in 1952 by Los Angeles bartender Donato "Duke" Antone (who came up with such famous drinks as the Rusty Nail, the White Russian and the Godfather) at Duke's "Blackwatch" Bar on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood.  Antone apparently named it after a drunk customer and surfer Tom Harvey who kept banging into the walls after having a few too many drinks. Sounds legit. Right? Well, it might not be so cut and dry.

According to the article How Three Classic Cocktails Got Their Names by Sam Dangremond from Town and Country dated July 20, 2015 Antone did create a cocktail known as the Duke's Screwdriver which had the same ingredients as the Harvey Wallbanger, I'll get back to this point in a few paragraphs. Until then, here's another story.

According to the article How the Harvey Wallbanger nearly killed the craft of cocktail making by Amy Zavatto of Fox News dated August 23, 2013:

Legend has it that a 1950s California surfer favored the drink and, one day after losing a pivotal surfing contest, walked into his usual Manhattan Beach watering hole, ordered his drink, and banged his head against the wall from the agony of defeat. His name was Harvey – and there you have it.
Ok. Now perhaps here is the true story. Robert Simonson in his December 14, 2012 article for Savuer entitled Searching for Harvey Wallbanger states that while Antone might have come up with the concept of what would become the Harvey Wallbanger aka the Duke's Screwdriver, credit for the name and character most likely belongs to McKesson Imports Co. McKesson Imports Co., was the company that represented Galliano here in the United States. With Galliano being one of ingredients in the Harvey Wallbanger, they decided to create the mascot and advertise the drink. It the tune of Galliano becoming the number one most imported liqueur at the time.

Regardless of the history, let's get to the cocktail itself.

As you can see from the image, I made the Harvey Wallbanger with Tito's Vodka, Orange Juice and Galliano. Here is where I screwed up. I didn't follow my advice from last post which was to use freshly squeezed juice whenever possible. I used store bought orange juice and to be honest, while there was a little added sweetness to it than with your standard screwdriver I couldn't tell if the cocktail had any Galliano. So the jury is still out on the Harvey Wallbanger until I can make another one using freshly squeezed orange juice. 

Here are my impressions on the drink upon tasting it:

I'll get back to Harvey soon enough. I also have a side post on Galliano itself coming up. Keep an eye out for it.

Until Then Happy Drinking,


Thursday, May 24, 2018

SiscoVanilla Has a 🌅🍊Tequila Sunrise 🍊🌅

Welcome back folks to the next installment of SiscoVanilla Drinks. For today I'm going back to the 1970's with an offering from the Old Man Drinks cocktail book: The Tequila Sunrise. Before I go into the cocktail itself, I wanted to look into the varied histories of the cocktail. Apparently there are a few histories behind how this cocktail came to be.

The Old Man Drinks cocktail book mentions that this cocktail harks back to the Prohibition era in Tijuana, Mexico. According to author Robert Schnackenberg, the Tequila Sunrise came to life at the Agua Caliente Racetrack as a hangover cure for those who were betting on the ponies.

In his article How to Make a Tequila Sunrise from Esquire dated January 5, 2018, David Wondrich states that the cocktail was supposedly invented at the racetrack. For more on the Agua Caliente racetrack, check out the article The Glitter of Agua Caliente by Greg Niemann from But it doesn't quite finish there.

According to the post The Birth of the Tequila Sunrise from the Sahid Bartending Club dated October 27, 2013, a guide book called Bottoms Up! Subtitled El Catecismo del la Libacion was published and distributed throughout the property's bars and restaurants. In said book was the original recipe for the Agua Caliente's version of the Tequila Sunrise. Here it is:
(recipe for 1 drink)

1. One jigger Tequila.
2. One half lime, squeezed. Insert peel.
3. EXACTLY six dashes grenadine.
4. EXACTLY two dashes Crème de Cassis.
5. Two lumps ice.
6. Serve in highball glass, filled to brim with healthful Agua Caliente "Roca Blanca" water. If not available, fizz with seltzer.
7. Stir slightly.
There is no Orange Juice as in the recipe we know today. On to origin story number 2.

Now we are in post-Prohibition Arizona at the Biltmore hotel. Now according to the article Just Another Tequila Sunrise by Jeff Burkhart from the National Geographic Assignment Blog dated on February 17th, 2012, the Biltmore states that their bartender Gene Sulit came up with the idea for the Tequila Sunrise during the 1930's. His cocktail consisted of tequila, lime juice, soda and crème de cassis. Burkhart states that he couldn't find any listing for this recipe in any of the cocktail books of the time and after. Aside from the grenadine, Sulit's recipe is very similar to the one listed above. Let's fast forward to the 1970's.

The third origin story takes us back to the Pacific Coast to the Northern California town of Sausalito. The story states that bartenders Bobby Lozoff and Billy Rice at the Trident came up with the Tequila Sunrise. It wasn't until the Rolling Stones arrived at the Trident in 1972 that the cocktail took off. Offering the drink to Mick Jagger, the cocktail became the go-to drink for the Stones across the country. To the point that one of the nicknames for their tour was the "cocaine and tequila sunrise tour." In stepped Lou, the manager of the Trident. For this I'll let Burkhart continue telling the story:

In 1973, Jose Cuervo seized on this new cocktail sensation and began marketing it in various print advertisements, eventually releasing it as one of their canned “club cocktails.”

“Lou, (the manager of the Trident) talked to the Cuervo people,” said Lozoff. “We were the biggest outlet in the United States, and they were talking to us – that recipe, with crème de cassis went on the back of bottles, and at one point our recipe made it on the back of the gold bottle.”
But don't take his word for it. Watch this video to hear the story being related straight from the mouths of those who lived it at the Trident:

The video states that the creme de cassis was removed for simplicity sake. Was Lozoff's version based on the above listed recipe from the Agua Caliente? Who really knows. Does it really matter? I'll leave that up to you. 

Add to the mix the Eagles song entitled Tequila Sunrise, which ironically isn't about the cocktail but about just drinking tequila until the sun rises. Nonetheless, the popularity of the song just further made the cocktail one of the go-to drinks of the 1970's. On to the cocktail itself. 

I decided to make the cocktail based on the current version that is found in cocktail books. Here is the cocktail and the recipe I used:

I followed the advice of David Wondrich by using freshly squeezed orange juice as opposed to using store bought OJ. While I've had the Tequila Sunrise in the past, I can't say that I've had one as light and tasty as the one I made for myself. I would certainly think that using the Espolon Reposado and fresh OJ over Jose Cuervo and store bought OJ made a big difference in the cocktail. It was simply delicious. 

The cocktail was light. The flavor of the tequila stood out without being too sweet, even with the presence of the grenadine. Always go fresh when you can with your juices folks. Here are my thoughts right after tasting the Tequila Sunrise from the SiscoVanilla YouTube Channel:

So for my next post I stay in the 1970's with the Harvey Wallbanger. I'll be posting my thoughts on that cocktail soon. Keep an eye out for it. And with that I leave 

Until Then Happy Drinking,


Tuesday, May 15, 2018

SiscoVanilla Has An Algonquin Cocktail Part I

For today's Old Man Drinks cocktail challenge, I decided to go to the beginning with the first cocktail recipe listed in the book: The Algonquin Cocktail. Now many of you might believe that this cocktail was named after the famed (or infamous depending on your POV) Algonquin Roundtable aka the Vicious Circle.

Starting in 1919, this daily lunch group was made up of such World War I luminaries as Dorothy Parker, Harold Ross, Robert Benchley, Franklin Pierce Adams, Heywood Broun, Ruth Hale, Alexander Woollcott, Harpo Marx,  George S. Kaufman, Marc Connelly, Edna Ferber, and Robert Sherwood among the many. This daily lunch date lasted for roughly 10 years. In reality, as per Old Man Drinks author Robert Schnakenberg the cocktail was actually named after the host of the Algonquin Round Table: The Algonquin Hotel.

For more on the Algonquin Round Table, I recommend you check out my October 28, 2013 post the Dorothy Parker-Collins and the post The Vicious Circle: Who’s Who of the Algonquin Round Table by John Calhoun from June 2, 1014 for more information

The New York City Landmark Algonquin Hotel opened on November 22, 1902 at its current location (59 W 44th St, New York, NY 10036). As the story goes, the original name for the hotel was The Puritan. Clerk and future owner Frank Case convinced then ownership to change the name of the hotel to The Algonquin after the Native American Algonquin tribes that populated the New York City area before the arrival of the Europeans.

In terms of the cocktail, according to David Wondrich in his Esquire Magazine article Algonquin from October 5, 2007, there have been many attempts to name a cocktail The Algonquin with one particular cocktail being made with Rum, Blackberry Brandy and Benedictine. The version in the Old Man Drinks book made with Rye Whiskey, Dry Vermouth and Pineapple seems to be the standard and more popular version of the cocktail, though the number of ounces for each ingredient differs from what I have found online, the basic ratio of 2-1-1 remains the same. Here is how I made it:
Algonquin Cocktail
2oz Bulleit Rye Whiskey
1oz Martini Extra Dry Vermouth
1oz Pineapple Juice

Stir with ice in shaker (if you want it to be frothy, shake it baby,) pour into chilled glass.

While the Old Man Drinks refer to this drink being tart and Wondrich refers to it being spicy, I found it to be neither. I actually found it to be rather flat. As if something was missing from it. While you could feel the booze, you couldn't taste it in the least. I couldn't taste the spiciness that Rye Whiskey seems to bring to a cocktail. Here are my thoughts on the Algonquin:

I think what I'll do is make one with the classic old man of Rye Whiskey: Old Overholt. 

With that I'll leave you with the following drawing of the Algonquin Round Table by famed caricaturist Al Hershfield. 

Until Then Happy Drinking,


Sunday, May 13, 2018

SiscoVanilla Has a SoCo Lime at McDermott's Pub

Hope everyone had a wonderful Mother's Day. I was out having lunch with Momma-San and Gabba Gabba at McDermott's Pub (2634 E Tremont Ave, Bronx, NY 718-792-4490) when for whatever reason, my eye focused on the bottle of Southern Comfort that sat on the back bar. Not sure why, but I decided to order something I haven't ordered in ages: Southern Comfort and Lime aka Soco Lime on the rocks. Before I go into the cocktail, I wanted to shed light on Southern Comfort.

According to the Southern Comfort website, Southern Comfort, which is known as The Spirit of New Orleans was created by M.W. Heron in 1874. Now until now I always thought that Southern Comfort was a whiskey of some sort. As per the website, the original Southern Comfort is 60-proof. At this point I wasn't sure if it was a whiskey or not (There's also an 80-proof and 100-proof version of Southern Comfort available.) A quick internet search somewhat clarified the issue for me.

The article So What Exactly Is In Southern Comfort, Anyway by Julie Thompson from Huffington Post dated October 10, 2014 states the following:
Most people think of Southern Comfort as a whiskey. A look at Google’s search trends shows “Southern Comfort Whiskey” as one of the more popular search terms. And the bottle of brown liquid often sits next to the whiskey at your local liquor store, but it is not in fact a whiskey. Or a bourbon. Or a Scotch. Don’t let its golden color make a fool of you.

Southern Comfort, which was first named Cuffs & Buttons, is in fact a liqueur —
a whiskey-flavored one. The original recipe was created by Martin Wilkes Heron in New Orleans. Heron was a barkeep looking for a solution to make unrefined whiskey more palatable. He came up with a recipe that added fruits and spices to the harsh liquor, and his customers loved it. With their thirst as his inspiration, he began marketing his recipe, which he later renamed Southern Comfort.
I guess that's somewhat of an answer. But it doesn't end there. The article Surprise! Southern Comfort Has No Whiskey. But Soon It Will by Robert Simonson of the New York Times dated May 8, 2017 shed more light on the subject:
Kevin Richards, the new senior marketing director for Southern Comfort, admitted as much, saying that when Sazerac bought it, the brand was “in danger of losing a lot of relevance in the mind of consumers.”

Sazerac hopes to reverse that. A new-and-improved Southern Comfort will hit the shelves in July, with a redesigned label and bottle. Flavored versions like Lime Comfort and Caramel Comfort will be phased out.
Simonson also adds:
But, most important, Southern Comfort will get back the one ingredient that many people have long assumed it contained: whiskey.

Once upon a time, Southern Comfort did include whiskey, though the complete formula has always been kept a secret. It was created by Martin W. Heron, purportedly while working at a New Orleans saloon. Over the years, it made hay out of slogans like “None Genuine but Mine” and “the Grand Old Drink of the South.” In 1939, in conjunction with the release of the film “Gone With the Wind,” the company promoted the Scarlett O’Hara cocktail, made of the liqueur, cranberry juice and lime juice.

But by the time Brown-Forman bought the brand in 1979, the kick inside the bottle was provided not by whiskey, but by grain neutral spirit — basically a generic alcohol free of character, not unlike vodka.
Well alrighty then. I believe the bottle that was on the back bar was the newer version but I can't be 100% sure. Either way, while I didn't see the bartender make the drink, I would make the assumption that the Soco Lime I ordered was made with a 2-1 ratio of Southern Comfort to Roses Lime. Why not fresh lime juice?

I'm not sure I've ever seen a Soco Lime made with fresh lime. I know I was taught to use Roses Lime. But maybe I'll make one with Fresh Lime for a later post. Ok then. How was it.

To be honest, I can't say I've ever tasted a Soco Lime before. Not to say that I haven't had one before. I've always just shot it instead of sipped it. Hey, I started going to bar in the early 1990s. Don't judge me, Soco Lime was one of the shots dujour for the time.

I have to admit, it was rather tasty. The Southern Comfort and the Rose's Lime works very well together. Not too sweet and not too tart. Though to be honest, I wouldn't want to have more than one or two. After that, the sweetness might be a bit too much on the palate.  As usual, here are my thought at the point of having the drink courtesy of my YouTube channel:

For a change of pace, I'd recommend a Soco Lime on the rocks. Go for it!!!

Since the article by Simonson mentions that the flavored Southern Comfort versions would be eliminated, here is an oldie but goodie post from 2012 by yours truly entitled: Southern Comfort Bold Black Cherry Give it a read.

Until Then Happy Drinking,