Sunday, January 29, 2017

What is Hennessy Paradis

Hello gals and guys. I know its been a while since I've posted anything. I've been busy adjusting to a new position at work so I've been laying off the booze (aside from the occasional tipple) to keep my mind clear. But a few weeks back, I went out to brunch with Momma-San and a few friends to the Pine Bar+Grill loctaed at 1634 Eastchester Rd, Bronx, NY 10461 (718) 319-0900. As I was persuing the cocktail menu, I came across a listing that caught my attention. Here is what I saw.

Looking through the "After Dinner" section of the cocktail menu, I saw that an 1.5oz serving of Hennessy Paradis cost a cool $230 dollars. Now you might say "Hey wait, the Remy Martin Louis XIII for the same size costs $40 dollars more." That is true, but I'm familiar with the Louis XIII. I can't say I've ever remembered hearing about the Hennessy Paradis. So with that in mind, here is what I found out about said Hennessy Paradis.

Going to the source, the Hennessy website describes the Paradis as so:

Paradis is named after the special section in the Hennessy aging cellars where the finest, rarest, and oldest eaux-de-vie are carefully guarded. Created in 1979, the blend was conceived to be superlative yet subtle, making some of Hennessy’s most precious spirits widely available for the first time.
Possessed of rich successive aromas that only a great Cognac can obtain, Paradis reveals its delicate and velvety character, hinting at the silky texture that will follow. Its subtle texture allows it to gracefully blossom with a deep and fragrant persistence.
A further description comes from the Dan Murphy's online liquor store website's listing for the Hennessy Paradis:
Perfectly harmonious in the mouth, Hennessy Paradis Extra reveals itself to be smooth, full-bodied and long-lasting on the palate. A blend of over 100 'eaux-de-vie' and aged alongside other great 'eaux-de-vie's of its generation. Paradis is the realisation of a dream by its creator, Maurice Fillioux, using spirit blended by his grandfather. The tradition continues today to select spirits that will taste every bit as powerful and elegant in 4 generations time.
The cognac comes in a 750ml bottle and retails in the $800 dollar range. That has to be some really good cognac. That is way too rich for my blood. It was even rich for me when I was bartending, let alone now. But hey, if you have that kind of cash to spend on a cognac, rock on.

Anyone want to share their experiences with the Hennessy Paradis?

Until Then Happy Drinking,

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Booze Ads From the December 19, 1985 New York Times

Hey there gals and guys. Sorry for the lack of posts as of late. I've been focusing on work, including a promotion to management at a new bookstore cafe location. So I've been very busy and trying to keep the mind clear. Which means no cocktails for the time being. But it doesn't mean that I am not looking out for booze related material to post on. 

With that in mind, I was looking through the December 19, 1975 issue of the New York Times and came across the following ads. While I thought that the ads would be much more festive than they were, I am surprised that there is some variety to the ads. They aren't all whisky/whiskey ads as I have come across in other issues of the New York Times. 

One ad that I find curious is the ad for the Carpano Punt e Mes. Italian Vermouth Rossos and Amaros have undergone a renaissance among cocktail circles in the last few years. No longer do you just see Martini Vermouth Rosso on the back bar as the standard. Now many a brand can be found including the classic Vermouth brand Carpano with their Punt e Mes being front and center. Punt e Mes is a bit different from your standard Vermouth Rosso which places it in the Amaro category.

According to the Carpano Punt e Mes website:
Punt e Mes has a golden orange color with topaz tones, herby aromas and dark red, black dahlia with vermilion shades. The initial taste is one of sweetness, characterised by an intriguing accent of orange. This is followed by the characteristically bitter taste of the quina and ends on a sweet note.
Aside from being used in such classic cocktails as the Manhattan and the Negroni, two other cocktails that are listed on the website for use of Punt e Mes are the MITO and the 70's Punt e Mes cocktails.

Now at times you'll see the terms Vermouth Rosso and Amaro bounced around when characterizing a product like Punt e Mes. How to tell the difference between the two? I found an article by Warren Bobrow entitled Amaro & Vermouth: The Bitter and the Sweet from the Williams and Sonoma Taste website from September 9, 2011. Here is what he had to say:
Italian Vermouth in many ways is similar to Amaro, but a bit less bitter on the tongue.  Some uniquely flavorful ones from Italy are Punt e Mes and the esoteric, salubrious Carpano Antica.  The Carpano is a rum raisin-filled mouthful of sweet vanilla cake, laced with Asian spices and caramelized dark stone fruits. Punt e Mes is lighter and nuttier, with caramelized pecans and hand-ground grits in the finish.

I’m sure the alcohol is low — all these products (Amaro included) are low in alcohol, making them perfect in a cocktail. Amaro can be enjoyed as a digestif, it acts to settle the stomach after a large meal because of the herbal ingredients.

But what does Amaro taste like? The flavors vary from sweet to bittersweet to herbal, featuring orange blossoms, caramel and nuts. Some taste like artichoke, others like mint, and still others like a sweetened root tea. They may be enjoyed in a cup of hot tea as an elixir, or dropped into a small cup of espresso to “correct” the sweet, thick coffee.
As you can see, Amaros run the gamut on the taste profile list. Regardless of which brand you come across, give them a try. Take a page from the Skittles handbook: taste the rainbow, feel the rainbow. Sorry, that was bad. On that note, I'm out. Peace and Happy Holidays.

Until Then Happy Drinking,

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

This Week in Home Cocktailing August 28, 2016 Part II

Moving along with the staycation marathon of cocktails, I wanted to highlight a trio of classic cocktails that I made. And here we go.

The tragic events in Nice, France during this past Bastille Day caused me to postpone my post on the French 75. But with the 72nd anniversary of the liberation of Paris from the Nazis occurring on August 25, it was time to bring back the French 75.

The mention of the French 75 reminds me of the scene in Casablanca where Yvonne (Madeleine Lebeau) arrives with a Nazi officer and orders a row of French 75's. She indirectly starts a fight between the German officer and a French policeman/officer, who while sitting at the bar takes exception to Yvonne and her companion.

This scene is followed by what I find to be one of the most emotional and powerful scenes in a movie. A group of Nazi German officers singing Die Wacht Am Rhein stirs the patrons of Rick's Cafe American, led by Victor Lazlo (Paul Henreid), to stand and sing La Marseillaise. The scene gives me goosebumps every time. Fast forward to August 25, 1944 and the liberation of Paris. Can you imagine how La Marseillasie was echoing off the buildings in Paris on that day? Vive la France indeed. Back to the cocktail at hand.

While at first the Prosecco dominates the cocktail. The gin and lemon juice subtly come up to the surface. The cocktail is very light and enjoyable. I can see why someone told me they prefer to have these during brunch as opposed to standard Mimosas and Bellinis. This got me wondering what the cocktail would be like with a French Cognac substituting the Gin as is often done. That I will do in a future post. Here I go again letting the world what I think about the French 75 on my SiscoVanilla YouTube channel:

The next cocktail I made was in honor of National Whisky Sour Day, which incidentally was a Whisky Sour. Imagine that. LOL. For this cocktail, I decided to use Crown Royal Canadian Whisky. Here is the recipe:

This version of the Whisky Sour is interesting. Some people are very iffy when it comes to using egg whites in a cocktail. If you don't want to use the egg white, then don't. What you will have is a cocktail that has less head and isn't as silky as one with egg white. I can have it either way. But what you don't want is to have a Whisky Sour that has just whisky and sour mix off the speed gun that some bars insist is a Whisky Sour. 

You should never settle on such a cocktail that is simple to make. It takes a little effort to extract the egg whites but once you do, you'll have a cocktail that is smooth and has a nice head (as the picture indicates). The citrus and sugar melds very nicely with the whisky. It melded so nicely that I had two more sans egg whites. Definitely play around with different whiskies. A nice spicy rye might add a different layer of flavor to your Whisky Sour. Hmmm, that's actuallly not a bad idea. 

Here are my thoughts on the Whisky Sour from my SiscoVanilla YouTube channel:

Next on the classic cocktail highlight reel is the timeless classic: The Tom Collins. 

You really can't wrong with Gin, Lemon Juice, Simple Syrup and Carbonated Water. And you would think that you really can't screw this cocktail up. But like I mention with the Whisky Sour, some bars will make you a "Tom Collins" by using Gin, Lemon Juice or Sour Mix and Sprite or 7-up. That's not a Tom Collins. That's just a Gin, Lemon/Sour Mix and Sprite/7-up. 

The Tom Collins is arguably one of the most refreshing cocktails ever invented and you should never have a half ass, bootleg version of the Tom Collins. Period. Have it made with fresh ingredients or go somewhere else that will make it fresh rather than off the gun. Here is my video thoughts of the Tom Collins:

I'll get off of my soapbox now. Part III will be a single cocktail post. For that one, I will make the Love Boat inspired cocktail named the Isaac Cocktail. Look out for it.

Until Then Happy Drinking,

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

This Week in Home Cocktailing August 28, 2016 Part I

Its been one long staycation that I took to end the month of August and during that time I made myself a few cocktails. Maybe a bit more than a few since I have to break this post into three parts. So without any further ado, here we go.

While I got to a slow start with the home cocktailing following the misadventures ending the week of August 7th, I picked up steam by making myself a tried and true favorite: The Dirty Martini. Now as you can see, I don't specify whether its a gin or vodka Martini. I believe that to do so would be redundant since a classic Martini is a Gin Martini. We can thank Ian Fleming and his iconic character James Bond who changed that with his ordering of a Vodka Martini, shaken no less in 1962's Dr. No. Even though in the past I have made what I call The Sisco Strength Dirty Hybrid Martini with a combination of Grey Goose Vodka and Bombay Sapphire Gin, this time I wanted to go straight up old school. Here is what I made:

Now I have to confess, at the last minute I decided to make it even filthier than the recipe card stated it would be. I added a whole ounce of the Bleu Cheese Olive brine which gave it that nice greenish color you see above. It was cold, briny and delicious. Here is my impressions of the cocktail from the video I recorded to my SiscoVanilla YouTube Channel:

Next came a riff on the classic cocktail known as the White Lady. Where the original recipe calls for it to be served with fresh lemon juice and straight up in a cocktail glass, I decided to make a frozen drink out of it. Why? It was hot and I was on vacation. What other reason did I need, right? Ok then. Here is what I made:

The drink was very light and definitely needed on the hot and humid day that we were having. Aside from the piece of ice that got lodged in my broken tooth causing a cold sensation along my nerves, it is something that I would definitely make again. On an aside, why did I use canned lemonade instead of fresh lemon juice. Very simply put, I didn't have any lemons and I kind of wanted that frozen, slushy lemonade feel to the cocktail. It worked. Here were my impressions of the Frozen White Lady recorded for the world on my YouTube channel:

So for the second part of my post, I highlight three classic cocktails. Keep your eyes peeled. The post soon to come. 

Until Then Happy Drinking,

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Ambassador Scotch Ad From the New York Times August 28, 1972

I was flipping through the August 28, 1972 issue of the New York Times and came across the following ad for Ambassador Scotch. I love how the ads from the 1970's portray their men as rugged and hirsute men aka the "Macho Man" look. Check out the stash on this gentleman right here.

Now to be honest, I haven't be able to find too much on the Ambassador Scotch brand. What I did find that it was a blended Scotch and was marketed as being the "Scotch at its Lightest" and "The World's Lightest Scotch". It was distilled in Glasgow, Scotland by the Taylor & Ferguson company. As per the listings for Ambassador Scotch on the Master of Malt website, it would seem that they sold an 8-year old blend, a 12-year old blend and a 25-year old blend.

This would have put them in direct competition with such brands as J&B, Dewars and Cutty Sark here in the United States. The peak period of popularity for Ambassador Scotch seems to have been during the 1960's and 1970's.

Here are a few more ads from the same era showing their manly Scotch drinking fellows in a variety of locations, engaging in a number of activities such as yachting, roughing it at a cabin in the woods, hobnobbing at a upscale black tie affair and even enjoying some Ambassador during the Christmas Holidays:

Recently Ambassador Scotch came up with an interesting new ad campaign with the tagline "Scotch from another era." It looks as if the dashing men and lovely ladies from the above ads have aged but perhaps, like their favorite scotch, their points of view haven't. Check them out.

Any thoughts or recollections on Ambassador Scotch? Hit me up and let me know. Leave a comment or email me here.

Until Then Happy Drinking,

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Liquor Ads From the August 25, 1954 Edition of the New York Times

I was doing some research for the passing of the Communist Control Act (for my HistorySisco Tumblr page) by looking through the August 25, 1954 issue of the New York Times and came across a few liquor ads. Now if you're followed my blog in the past, you'll know that I like to post old ads that I come across and the three that I will highlight today are of brands that I have never heard of. Here are the three ads that I found:

The first ad is interesting to me. Its for a Jamaican Rum brand called Dagger and it advertises the cocktail which is made with Dagger called Cloke & Dagger. I like how the Collins glass has eyes and daggers floating around.

Dagger Jamaica Rum was produced by J. Wray & Nephew Limited and came in four varieties: One Dagger (5-years), Two Dagger (6-years), the Dagger Punch (8-years) and Three Dagger (10-years) rums. The article Jamaica's Changing Rum Market by Richard Browne from the Jamaica Gleaner newspaper dated June 13, 2014 states that the rums went out in the 1950s.

The rum was found on the menu in such places as Mocambo Miami Beach from 1947 and as part of a Altman Plum Pudding Served With Hoemshel Hard Sauce And Flambeed In Three Dagger Rum from the Waldorf Astoria Christmas Tasting hosted by the Wine and Food Society of New York, Inc on December 8, 1947.

An ad from Life Magazine December 28, 1936 has the following description of the Dagger Rum brand:
YO HO!!!...make way for a robust drink-Jamaican Rum. Once the boast of buccaneers, now the toast of bon vivants. And the proudest name in rum is Dagger Rum, famed for 111 years for its aromatic fragrance, its softness and its flavour. 
Dagger Jamaican Rum is made by the oldest and largest Rum house in the British West Indies. It is popular wherever a truly fine rum is a liqueur, as a mixer, as an indispensable touch in holiday puddings, pies and desserts.
The post Dagger Rums: a former J.Wray & Nephew Rum Line by Bahama Bob has more information on the Dagger Jamaican Rum line.

The second ad is for Old Taylor 86 proof straight bourbon named after famed distiller Colonel Edmund Haynes Taylor, Jr. Colonel Taylor was one of the biggest supporters of the federal Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897, which required distillers to state truthfully what was inside the bottle.

Old Taylor was one of the distilleries that were granted a permit to distill medicinal whiskey during Prohibition and is still being Old Taylor is still being produced. The bourbon brand has been owned by such distillers as National Distillers, Jim Beam/Beam Suntory and as of 2009 the Sazerac Company.

The Whiskey ID website has some interesting photos of the Old Taylor bottles throughout the years that you can see here. As of 2015, the original Old Taylor distillery was being renovated and is due to open at some point this year. The article Old Taylor Distillery's owners resurrecting its castle, gardens by Janet Patton of the Lexington Herald Leader dated June 14, 2014 describes the efforts of renovating the old distillery.

The third ad is for Ron Carioca. Carioca is a Puerto Rican Rum that came in White rum (86 proof), Gold Rum (86 proof) and Tropical Heavy Bodied Rums in 90 proof and 151 proof and was produced by La Compania Ron Carioa Destileria, Inc. What I find interesting is that the ad calls for Carioca and Tonic. I can't say that I ever made a rum and tonic, let alone drank a rum and tonic. Guess I'm going to have to pick up some tonic for a future post.

Apparently there was a lawsuit in the United States Court of Claims from 1958 where the Compania Ron Carioa Destileria, Inc. sued the United States in the entitled COMPANIA RON CARIOCA DESTILERIA, Inc. v. UNITED STATES 168 F.Supp. 546 (1958) for taxes paid to the United States deputy collector of internal revenue at San Juan, Puerto Rico in 1946 for spirits that had not been shipped yet. I'll leave it up to you to read up on the case. But at that point, the company was still Puerto Rican owned. This is where I get lost.

If you do a search for Ron Carioca, one of the first links you come across is from the Société des alcools du Québec (SAQ) that states that Ron Carioca is produced by United Distillers Canada Inc. and is made in Canada. The website DrinksOntario lists Diageo Canada Inc as being the producer of Ron Carioca. So my question is this: is the Ron Carioca brand made in Canada and Puerto Rico?

I'll keep trying to find out. Til I find out some more information, I leave you with this ad from 1960 for Ron Carioca and a recipe for a Carioca Voodoo.

Until Then Happy Drinking,

Thursday, August 11, 2016

This Week in Home Cocktailing August 7, 2016 Part II

In my last post This Week in Home Cocktailing August 7, 2016 Part I, I described the preparation of the Watermelon Shrub portion of the Confederados cocktail, as well as, the Jean Harlow cocktail. For this post, I focus on the Confederados cocktail with a bonus Caipirinha mixed in while the 2016 Rio Olympics play in the background.

As I stated in the last post, the Confederados Cocktail recipe was found on the Imbibe Magazine website. The recipe comes courtesy of Julian Goglia of The Pinewood Tippling Room in Decatur, Georgia. Allow me to inject a little historical background here courtesy of my alter-ego HistorySisco (Instagram @HistorySisco).

In Brazil, the Confederados are descendants of many a Southerner who as part of the Confederate States of America fled the country to Brazil when the Civil War was lost. The Confederados built up their community in unexplored land in Brazil based on land grants given to them by Emperor Dom Pedro II. For more information on the Confederados and their yearly celebration in Brazil, I recommend you read Meet Brazil's 'Confederados': They've forgotten how to speak English but the South American descendants of rebels who fled US after the Civil War still turn out by the thousands to celebrate their Dixie roots by the Associated Press from the UK Daily Mail website dated 27 April 2015.

Now I can't definitvely say that this is the reason why the Confederados cocktail is named the way it is. But the connection can be made between the name, the base spirit used (cachaça) and the location of the bar/restaurant where it was invented. Be that as it may, let's move on to the cocktail.

Cachaça is an interesting spirit to play with. Cachaça has a very interesting flavor profile to it. Some have described it as tasting "funky." From what I have read, this might be due to the fact that it is made using sugar cane juice instead of the traditional molasses that is used to make its cousin: Rum. Keeping that in mind, allow me to elaborate on the cocktail itself.

I had Momma-San give it a quick taste. She said that the cocktail went down "a little hot" but that overall it was pretty refreshing. I would say her description is accurate. This cocktail was hitting notes all over the palate. The "hotness" she felt was the balsamic vinegar part of the shrub which paired nicely with the sweetness found both in the shrub but also in the simple syrup. There was also a fresh tart taste from the muddled lime and a subtle fruitiness from the watermelon. The cachaça was definitely present, just swimming around the other ingredients. It was ironic that I used the terms swimming since I was watching the Olympic swimming on the boob tube. It was so refreshing that I put down three of them. Here is my YouTube video tasting the Confederados Cocktails.

But I wasn't done yet.

I would be remiss to do a post on Cachaça and not make the national drink of Brazil: The Caipirinha. In the past I've written a couple of posts on the Caipirinha:  Homemade Caipirinhas with Leblon Cachaça and Strawberry Caipirinhas so this isn't quite uncharted territory. This time I used the recipe found in the June 15, 2015 Esquire Magazine article How to Make a Caipirinha by David Wondrich.

Caipirinha Ingredients
1/2 lime(s)
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 ounces cachaca
old-fashioned glass
Slice the lime into 1/2-inch rounds, cube them, and muddle them in an Old-Fashioned glass or small tumbler with the sugar. Add a couple of ice cubes. Pour in the cachaça. Serve with a stirring rod.  
I found the Caipirinha to be a bit tart for my taste. I added an extra 1/4-1/2 tsp of sugar to the drink and found it to be balanced. Truly a nice, refreshing way to end the evening's Olympic festivities. Here is the video for the Caipirinha:

With this week's work schedule being altered due to vacations, I'm not quite sure what I will do in terms of home cocktailing. I have a few ideas, hopefully time will let me execute them.

Until Then Happy Drinking,