Friday, December 28, 2012

The Bahama Mama

Yesterday Momma-San and I were braving the elements of the incoming Nor'easter and decided that we needed a few cocktails before picking up the kids. So we dipped into the recently opened Applebee's in Parkchester (which replaced the longtime Pizzeria Uno). We checked out their Happy Hour specials and found that they had three cocktails available for five dollars. One was a frozen Margarita, which Momma-San enjoyed. The second was a Long Island Iced Tea and the third was the one I settled on: A Bahama Mama.

Now I can't recall if I've ever had a Bahama Mama in my travels so I was somewhat interested in having the cocktail. I looked up the recipe for the Bahama Mama in my iBartender app and this is how they have it listed:
Bahama Mama
1/4oz 151 Proof Rum
1/4oz Coffee Liqueur
1/2oz Dark Rum
1/2oz Coconut Rum
4oz Pineapple juice
Juice of half a Lemon

Combine ingredients with ice in a shaker. Shake well and strain into a collins glass filled with cracked ice. Garnish with a cherry.
I was intrigued. Once the bartender served me the cocktail I was surprised with its presentation. So much so that I ordered a second one. It was on the second one that my attention was really piqued. As I watched the bartender make the second one, I noticed that some ingredients from the above listed recipe were missing. I saw her using the Malibu Coconut Rum but not the dark rum or the coffee liqueur to name a few. Now in looking online, I've seen some variations on how to make the Bahama Mama. Most that I have noticed omit the use of 151 proof rum. Perhaps it has to do with policy. For example, a place like Bleecker Street Bar which has a full wood bar doesn't serve any spirit or liqueur that would catch fire or can be lit on fire. So keeping that in mind, I decided to look at the cocktail menu listing to see what Applebee's uses to make a Bahama Mama. Here is their recipe:
Bahama Mama
Coconut Rum
Creme de Banana Liqueur
Pineapple Juice
Orange Juice

Pineapple Wedge and Cherry for garnish
As you can see the ingredients are somewhat different. Now mind you, I'm not hating this version. It was very light and sweet. The kind of cocktail that you would expect to find in a tourist area on a Caribbean island. A big batch of these at a party would be ideal as a punch of sorts. I guess I'm going to have to find (or make) a Bahama Mama based on the first recipe to see what the differences are in each one. More research folks. More research.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Morganthaler's Egg Nog

One recipe that I find that I like to use over any other for Egg Nog is the one created by bartender and bar manager of bar manager at Clyde Common in Portland, Oregon Jeffrey Morganthaler. He describes the process to reaching what he believes to be the perfect Egg Nog:
So I did a lot of research, in cookbooks and on the web, and tried a bunch of different recipes and methods. Some called for cooking the eggs into sort of a custard, but that’s a heck of a lot of work and results in something that can only be described as thick glop. Others required separating the eggs, beating them independently, and folding them together. But again, it’s too thick and I’m too lazy.

This is the recipe I devised. It can be made in just about any home or bar, since the ingredients are fairly simple. It can be done entirely in a blender, so there are no whisks or beaters or rubber spatulas or stovetops needed. It yields two healthy servings, so you can easily multiply it to serve more. It doesn’t use a ton of heavy cream, so it’s fairly light. In other words, it’s practically perfect.

2 large eggs
3 oz (by volume) granulated sugar
½ tsp freshly-grated nutmeg
2 oz brandy
2 oz spiced rum (I use Sailor Jerry’s)
6 oz whole milk
4 oz heavy cream

Beat eggs in blender for one minute on medium speed. Slowly add sugar and blend for one additional minute. With blender still running, add nutmeg, brandy, rum, milk and cream until combined. Chill thoroughly to allow flavors to combine and serve in chilled wine glasses or champagne coupes, grating additional nutmeg on top immediately before serving.
I made this recipe last year using the Bacardi Oakheart as the spiced rum portion and absolutely loved it. This year I decided to change it up a bit. I kept the base of the egg nog the same as Jeffrey's with the only exception being that I swapped out the spiced rum for the Honey Cinnamon Infused Vodka.

The flavor profile of the Egg Nog is very smooth and subtle. You can barely taste that there is any alcohol. The only thing that you can really taste is the Honey and Cinnamon of the Infused Vodka. It was so smooth that Momma-San actually asked me if it was a "Virgin" Egg Nog. Yeah, this is one dangerous holiday concoction. =)

Give it a go. Let me know what you think.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Friday, December 21, 2012

Blackberry Brandy Alexander

The second of the two cocktails that I had at Guy's American Kitchen and Bar was a variation on the classic cocktail The Brandy Alexander. I decided to take a different path from the Jack's Seasoned Manhattan by doing something a bit different. I was looking for something creamy and light. I wasn't disappointed. Where the original Brandy Alexander cocktail is festive on its own with its blend of Brandy, Creme de Cacao, Cream and fresh nutmeg, this variation carries on that tradition. Here are the ingredients in the Blackberry Brandy Alexander:
The Blackberry Brandy Alexander
Maple Cocoa Cream
Blackberry Brandy
This is a simple, flavorful and very dangerous cocktail. It goes down smooth and quick. Tastes what an adult chocolate milk would and should taste like. It reminds me of the kind of cocktail that you would have at a ski lodge wearing one of those Bill Cosby type Christmas sweaters and a Santa hat by the fire.

I would highly recommend that you get yourself one or make one for yourself. You won't be disappointed.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Le Grand Orange

As I told my friend Pete last night: Inspiration comes in the weirdest and most unexpected of ways. Now given that, I was inspired to make this cocktail rather unexpectedly. I walked into the local deli near work the yesterday and saw that they were selling Orangina. Now it's been years since I've seen those distinctive round textured little bottles with the orange flavored liquid in them.

For those of you who don't know what Orangina is, here is how the product is described on the Orangina website:
Orangina has a unique recipe with an authentic and well-balanced taste thanks to a subtle blend of different citrus fruits (orange, lemon, grapefruit, mandarin). The recipe contains no less than 12% juice (10% orange, 2% citrus), real orange pulp and natural orange zest and uses only natural ingredients (no added coloring, natural flavoring). Together with the light carbonation Orangina brings you the perfect natural refreshing experience.
After posting on Facebook that I hadn't seen Orangina as of late, my friend Lenore mentioned to me that Orangina goes well with Absolute Apeach. Alas, we don't carry Absolute Peach but as my mind is prone to work, I was already scheming on how I can use Orangina in a cocktail. I decided to make a variation of the Absolute Crush cocktail. So off I went to buy a bottle of Orangina and an orange.

My first attempt came out too sweet for my palate. I mixed 2oz of Absolute Mandarin with a couple of splashes of Grand Marnier and a top off of Orangina. I had the lovely ladies Ms. Dawn and Ms. Dana give it a go and they both liked it. I wasn't satisfied with it and decided to tweak it a bit. Here is what I decided to do:
Le Grand Orange
2oz Absolute Mandarin
Splash of Grand Marnier
Orange slice

Cut the orange slice in quarters, place in a mixing glass and muddle to release juices. Add ice and pour Absolute Mandarin and the splash of Grand Marnier. Shake vigorously. Strain into highball glass half full of ice. Top off with Orangina. Stir lightly and garnish with a quarter of an Orange slice.
I found that muddling the orange slice gave the cocktail a much more natural orange flavor. Limiting the Grand Marnier to one small splash rather than multiple splashes kept the cocktail much more balanced. It wasn't as sweet as the first attempt. Here is Ms. Dawn enjoying Le Grand Orange.

If you make one, please let me know what you think of it. I'd appreciate the feedback.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Coquito Time Take Two

The results of the last Sunday's first batch of coquito have come in and it seems that I need to tweak my recipe. Why? Well if you can believe it folks, it is too strong in terms of the rum portion used. Yes, I said it, it was too strong. Now mind you, Momma-San took a bottle to her job for their holiday party and said it was strong though it was polished off in record time. The second bottle that was in my fridge was tasted by Juju, Stella and Momma-San and though it was strong, half of it was gone by the time I got to it. So I decided to taste my concoction. What did I think of it?

The Coquito thickened up nicely. It was very aromatic and (after giving it a good shake) the first two glasses were strong in terms of alcohol but quite pleasant. The last remaining Coquito in the bottle was a different story. That little bit may have had the concentrated effect of the rums that settled to the bottom, as well as, the cinnamon sticks that stay at the bottom. It was potent. After a few sips I was definitely feeling it. At that point I decided that I needed to rework the recipe. There's nothing wrong with a little kick, but it shouldn't dominate or overpower the flavor of the Coquito. But there was a bit of a hitch: I already had two more batches in the fridge that I had made earlier in the day. What to do. I came up with the following plan:

Make a batch without the rums and cinnamon syrup and incorporate it into the existing batches at a ratio of about 2-1 with the "2" being the alcoholic portion of the coquito.

At a quick taste of the combined batches, the rum and cinnamon flavors seemed to be toned down. Before I can make a final determination, I need to leave the batch in the fridge for about a day or so to see how the flavors mix. I'll report on it as soon as I taste it.

Until Then Happy Drinking
Sisco Vanilla

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Jack's Seasoned Manhattan

Momma-San, Titi Ari, the kids and myself went down to Bryant Park and Rockefeller Center to engage ourselves in some good old fashioned New York City Christmas flavor. I have to say that in years past, Momma-San and I would look for roving Santa Clauses so we could take our yearly holiday family picture. This has gotten harder to accomplish since it seems that Rockefeller Center does its best to shoo away those dressed up as Santa while allowing these aggressive picture hawkers to approach anyone and everyone for the opportunity to take a picture in front of the tree. It really sucks that this is the second year in a row where we were unable to get a picture with good old St. Nick. I guess next year we'll have to brave the mall for a picture with Santa. UGH!!!!

Anyways, this is a drinking blog so on to the cocktailing. As most people in the business already know, Guy's American Kitchen and Bar was lambasted recently in a New York Times food review. Since we were somewhat close to where the restaurant is, we decided that we wanted to check the place out to see if it was as bad as the review made it seem.

As we arrive, the place has a lively feel but doesn't seem too overly busy for 8pm on a Tuesday night in Times Square. We're seated in a very spacious circular corner booth and are given a cocktail menu to start. The menu was broken down in two with one section being Guy's Classics which consisted of such cocktails as three Margaritas, two Mojitos and one Pina Colada and one rum punch. The other section was Holiday cocktails and since we were in the holiday flow, I decided to give one of these a shot. The holiday menu had a nice blend of nogs, sangrias and holiday martinis. One drink stood out to me and I decided to have it. The cocktail was named Jack's Seasoned Manhattan. Here is what the cocktail was msde with:
Jack Seasoned Manhattan
Jack Daniels Whiskey
Ginger and Cocoa
Seasonal Spices
Though the name is somewhat of a misnomer since there aren't any kind of Sweet Vermouths that characteristically are found in a Manhattan it was surprisingly tasty. The jack mingles very nicely with the Ginger/and Cocoa flavors and and cinnamon of the Goldschlager. As usual Momma-San didn't like it but as she says, if she doesn't like it, I will. LOL. I would guess that the Seasonal Spices (which I didn't find out what spices they were) somewhat replace the function of let's say an Angostura Bitters would in a traditional Manhattan. Overall it was a delicious cocktail that did evoke feelings of autumn and winter.

Oh, by the way. I had no complaints about the food. The wings were plump and tasty, the sauce seemed fresh. The nachos were plentiful and crispy. The burger I had wasn't overly large but it was seasoned properly and the french fries were a hit with the kids who ate their, mine and Titi Ari's as well. The Chicken fingers they ordered which were breaded with pretzels and panko were also delicious as was Momma-San's bacon mac and cheese. So unless they made some major changes after the scathing review, it would seem that the reviewer had other reasons for the negative review.

For the next posts I'll profile the other cocktail that I had which was the Blackberry Brandy Alexander, as well as, a local bourbon called Hudson Baby Bourbon Whiskey. I also whipped up a batch of Egg Nog based on the recipe of bar manager of Clyde Common in Portland Oregon and bartender Jeffrey Morganthaler. Instead of using Spiced Rum, I decided to use the Honey Cinnamon Infused Vodka. I'll let you know how it tastes after a day or so of chilling in the fridge.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Coquito Time

Since we're chugging along in the Holiday season, I've decided to make that favorite punch of us Latinos known as Coquito. Some call it Spanish Egg Nog since it is very similar to Egg Nog except that the main base of the punch is Coconut Cream. I don't have an actual standard recipe that I can say that I have perfected so depending on how these batches come out, I might alter the recipe. Here is what I worked with:
1 can of Coco Lopez Cream of Coconut
1/2 can of Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 Egg Yolk
4-8 Cinnamon sticks
1/8 tsp of Freshly Grated Nutmeg
1 tsp of Vanilla Extract
1-2 oz of Cinnamon Syrup (recipe below)
15 oz Bacardi Silver
7 oz Bacardi Oakheart Spiced Rum

Build in a blender by adding all the ingredients one at a time. Pour the rum in to the empty Cream of Coconut can and swirl to get the remaining coconut that might be stuck to the sides. Blend for about 5-10 minutes. Taste and alter to taste. Put at least one cinnamon stick that was used in the cinnamon syrup recipe. Pour mixture into a glass bottle or jar and refrigerate. It will thicken somewhat.
Cinnamon Syrup
Put one cup of water to boil with 4 to 8 Cinnamon sticks. After it comes to a boil, extract a shot worth of the liquid.
At quick taste it is quite delicious and very creamy. I made two batches. One for Momma-San's holiday party and another one for another party that we'll be having in the bar this upcoming Monday night. I'll see how they are received and make any necessary changes.

Next on the Holiday drink schedule is Egg Nog. That comes this weekend.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Holiday Cider Cocktails Sisco Style

I'll be the first to admit that I am not the kind of drinker that appreciates a hot cocktail. My expertise on hot alcoholic cocktails consists on pouring some Creme de Cacao and Kahlua into my coffee for flavoring. But since we are in the Holiday season, I've decided to give a try at making some cocktails with Cider. But before I decide to work on some hot cocktails, I'm going to work on three cold cocktails containing a particular cider concoction I came up with.

Momma-San was so nice to bring home a big bottle of Pear Cinnamon cider from Trader Joe's the other day and I found myself with some freshly squeezed Tangerine juice and decided to take the advice of my friend Chris and use the juice in a type of Cider of sorts. Here is what I came up with:
Sisco's Holiday Cider
7oz Trader Joe's Pear Cinammon Cider
3oz Freshly Squeezed Tangerine Juice
One Whole Cinammon Stick Broken
Two Whole Cloves
Freshly grated Nutmeg

Combine all ingredients in a pot, set to a boil and lower and simmer. Put aside and let cool.
After the Cider cooled down, I put it in a glass jar and refrigerated it for about two or three days. It had a nice Orange color and was very aromatic. There was one issue, Momma-San is not very fond of Cloves. But I decided that I would try to make her a couple of cocktails and see if she changed her mind. For the first one I used her favorite rum: Bacardi Oakheart. For the second cocktail, I decided to crack open the combination of the double infused Black Plum Vodka with Cinnamon and Vanilla. I decided on making a third cocktail for which I used the long standing infusion of Honey Cinnamon Vodka.

(From Left to Right) Honey Cinnamon and Black Plum Cinnamon and Vanilla
As you can see from the picture right above, the Honey Cinnamon Vodka (on the left) and the Black Plum Cinnamon Vanilla Vodka (on the right) have taken on deep rich colors and are very aromatic. So how did the Cider play with the spirits? Well take a look at the picture below to see what they looked like then I'll describe each and every one:

(From Left to Right) Cider with Bacardi Oakheart, Black Plum and Honey Cinnamon
As you can see each spirit mixed differently with the cider. I used the same ratio of 2oz. of the Sisco's Holiday Cider and 2oz. of the spirit in each cocktail. The Oakheart darkened it somewhat while the mixing with Black Plum and Honey Cinnamon vodkas gave the Cider a darker more thicker consistency. Unfortunately for Momma-San, she wasn't really feeling either of the first two cocktails so I (for the sake of scientific research, seriously) ended up having all three cocktails.

First the Oakheart. I found this cocktail to be very light. Not something that I would say felt very seasonal for winter. There were some flavor tones of the Cinnamon but nothing really seemed to "pop". It was tasty but not what I was looking for. Then I had the Cider with the Black Plum Cinnamon and Vanilla Infused Vodka. This one was definitely zestier compared to the Oakheart cocktail. It seemed to be richer and much more flavorful and aromatic with the Cinammon and Vanilla coming out into the forefront. Next was the Cider with Honey Cinammon. This one took the cake. As it was, the Honey Cinnamon Vodka was thick from the Honey and very aromatic from the Cinnamon sticks that were infusing it the Vodka from the end of May until now. Mixed with the Cider, it definitely gave me that Holiday season feeling. This cocktail felt like Christmas!!! It was rich, smelled amazing and was sweet. My sister would definitely like this cocktail. I might have start working on another infusion to replace what I believe will be a fast disappearing infusion.

Next on the table is a warm cider concoction that I'll be working on.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Black Velvet Whisky Ads

My friend and fellow spirits blogger Josh of The Coopered Tot blogpage and I were discussing the Black Velvet Canadian Whisky brand after my blogpost The Gook and the Duke and Black Velvet Too. Josh was telling about how he remembers Black Velvet from his days of living in East Oakland and how he believes the brand doesn't get the proper respect it deserves due to as he says "1970s era "pimp" advertising". Now as someone who loves the advertising from the 1960's and 1970's, I was trying to find some of those ads online. Now I was unable to, but was able to find some of these from the late 1970's and 1980's which include such celebrities as the recently deceased Larry Hagman, Christie Brinkley and George Burns. Check out the collage I put together.

Josh was also kind enough to forward me a review that was done about Black Velvet entitled ROYAL VELVET (40% ALC./VOL.) by the website Canadian Whiskey in October 2010. They have a very informative history of the distillery that makes Black Velvet. I recommend you give it a read.

Thanks again to Josh of The Coopered Tot. Give his blogpage a read for some interesting whisky writing.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

What is Peanut Lolita

I was recently looking for liquor ads from the 1960's and 1970's trying to find cocktail recipes of those eras and came across the following ad. Now I have to admit, I was intrigued. Apparently Peanut Lolita is a Peanut flavored liqueur and based on the ad, layering it with various ice creams makes an amazing parfait. Now, I'm not sure about that but I decided to dig a little deeper to find out how Peanut Lolita was received.

I decided to look into Jason Wilson's Spirit Blogpage on the Washington Post website for more information. Wilson is the author of Boozehounds: On the Trail of the Rare, the Obscure, and the Overrated in Spirits which is a book that I have used numerous times in other posts. Jason and his brother Tyler often engage in what they call Liquor Store Archaeology in which they look for the most obscure liquors that they can find. In his blogpost entitled A Flowery Find That Left Us in the Dust dated April 2, 2008 Wilson describes the finding of Peanut Lolita in the following manner:
So Tyler became the clear victor not too long ago when he turned up something called, somewhat disturbingly, Peanut Lolita, a thick, peanut-flavored liqueur that once was produced by Continental Distilling in Linfield, Pa. The logo and fonts on the label suggest the early 1960s, but according to what little research exists, Peanut Lolita was still around in the mid-1970s, when infamous presidential brother Billy Carter "often made drunken appearances" with the liqueur's spokesmodel, according to an essay by Christopher S. Kelley in "Life in the White House: A Social History of the First Family and the President's House" (SUNY Press, 2004)
We may now own the only two bottles of Peanut Lolita left in existence. Due to the liqueur's overwhelming whiskey-and-peanut taste and grainy texture -- not to mention its unfortunate name -- it is unlikely to make a comeback anytime soon. But Tyler has created a respectable drink with the stuff: He layers ice-cold Peanut Lolita and raspberry-flavored Chambord in a cordial glass and calls it a PB&J.
I found even more information on Peanut Lolita from the blogpost entitled Peanut Lolita: A Liqueur Lost in Time from the Liquid Culture Project website. The author goes into how Billy Carter was the official spokesperson for the liqueur while his brother Jimmy Carter was the President of the United States. Imagine the outrage if President Obama had a drunken brother hawking booze as a spokesperson. My how things have changed politically in this country. But, getting back to the Peanut Lolita. The author cracked open the bottle he found and described the liqueur as follows:
So, what of the liquid? Well, it’s thick—real thick–syrupy thick with a rich, auburn hue. The ad’s proclamation of topping ice cream and the bottle’s suggestion of topping jelly-filled crepes should give you an indication of just how thick this stuff is. Man, does it carry a wallop of roasted peanut, though, with a strong backbone of good bourbon to carry it forward (the aging may have helped this, actually), and a tinge of wood. Shockingly, it’s not cloyingly sweet, but isn’t exactly something you’ll want to refresh with on a warm, summer day.
So, has anyone out there ever had a taste of the Peanut Lolita? If you have, I'd like to know. Now where can I find some so I can taste it. Any ideas?

Until Then, Happy Drinking.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Gook and the Duke and a Black Velvet Too

I'm currently reading The Good Son: The Life of Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini by Mark Kriegel (which I highly recommend) and in the book they make reference to two different alcohol brands that I am not familiar with and decided to look into it. One term used was "The Gook and the Duke" and "Black Velvet with 7up Chasers".

The Gook and the Duke

Apparently The Gook and the Duke was how people in Youngstown, Ohio (among other places) ordered a shot of Guckenheimer Rye with a Duquense Beer. Now I've never heard of either brand so here is what I found out about them.

According to the American Whiskey: John & Linda Lipman's Adventure in Bourbon Country website, Guckenheimer Rye aka Good Old Guckenheimer, was perhaps the most prestigious of the so-called "Monongahela" whiskeys. What is a Monongahela whiskey you may ask? Here is how John and Linda describe it:
Why "so-called"? Well, the name Monongahela comes from the Monongahela River Valley, which came to be identified with a specific type of whiskey. Made from rye grain, with little or no corn (maize), it featured a deep, reddish-brown color and a distinctive flavor. East Coast rye whiskey, sometimes called Maryland rye (although also including rye from Pennsylvania east of the Appalachian Mountains) was not really the same kind of spirit, often being unaged or very young, and usually being made from both rye and corn grains. Bourbon, a whiskey also said to be named for the location of its origins, is made mostly from corn and has a distinctive flavor of its own.
As you can see, the type of rye whiskey that Guckenheimer is (was?) differs from those made in Bourbon County, Kentucky:
Monongahela rye isn't a whiskey for the debonair. It's pretty rough 'n' tumble stuff, the character of which was shaped by it's long and arduous journey from where it was distilled to where it was consumed. Locally, the whiskey was probably drunk unaged, the same as any other whiskey was at that time. The product that made its way to Baltimore, New York, Boston, and Philadelphia, though, had developed a character more similar to what we, today, expect whiskey to have... except a bit less genteel. But then, the big-city tavern patrons who bought it weren't drinkers of "whiskey" anyway. That was a drink for country-bumpkins and the unsophisticated. Fashionable tavern patrons who bought Monongahela most likely thought it was a type of rum. Later, when the product began to be recognized for what it was, Monongahela began to lose some of its social appeal. But not all brands. Guckenheimer Pure Rye Whiskey held a reputation as an award-winning liquor and was sold as top-shelf liquor throughout its entire pre-prohibition existence.

Photo Credit American Whiskey: John & Linda Lipman's Adventure in Bourbon Country website 

So the origins of Guckenheimer Rye Whiskey lays in the pre-Prohibition era, in the year 1857 to be exact as per the above listed picture. Something interesting stands out in the picture: Bottled in Bond. What does Bottled in Bond mean? According to the Bourbon Observer blogpage:
Bourbons that are "bottled in bond" are those that comply with the Bottled-In-Bond Act of 1897. This Act was created to ensure the authenticity and purity of bourbon, and mandates that to be considered bonded and be labeled as such, bottled whiskey must be at least 4 years old, at least 100 proof, be the product of one distillery and one distiller, in one season. Bondeds are thus distinct from straight bourbon because straights commonly are combinations of different bourbons made at different times and places.To make sure these requirements were met, bonded bourbon was aged in Federally bonded and supervised warehouses, the keys to which were held by the goverment supervisors (these "government men" were agents of the Treasury Department, and up until the early 1980's, they physically unlocked the doors each morning and locked them each night).
So Guckenheimer Rye Whiskey was not made in Bourbon County rather in the East Coast near the Alleghenies in Pennsylvania. So what happened to Guckenheimer brand since the period of the late 1940's that the quote refers to? Here is how John and Linda mention it:
At any rate, by the end of the forties, the Pennsylvania Distilling Company was sold to Schenley. The Guckenheimer brand itself was eventually sold to the American Distilling Company in Pekin, Illinois. They used it for several years, along with it's trademark "Good Old Guckenheimer" slogan, to market a straight bourbon whiskey which they made for awhile  (quite an insult for a brand once considered to be among America's premier rye whiskeys) in Illinois, then bottled using commercial-grade bourbon from Kentucky, and then they even further degraded it to a blended whiskey. American Distilling itself eventually pooped out, its brands being acquired by Heaven Hill in Bardstown, Kentucky. "Good Old Guckenheimer" remains available today as an 80º proof blended whiskey, and may be found on the bottom shelf of liquor stores in some areas.
Obviously, I am condensing their massive amount of information and research for the sake of my post. I would highly recommend that you go to their website and not only access the page with the information on Guckenheimer Rye Whiskey but the rest of their site. It is quite informative. Now that takes care of the "Gook" part. Now on to the "Duke".

The Duke refers to the Duquense Pilsener Beer that according to the Duquense Beer website:
Duquesne Pilsener is a straw yellow pilsener made with two-row barley that provides a very gentle bite and is brewed with extra malt for a bright white head. It possesses a clean aroma that is slightly hoppy and balanced with mild maltiness. The use of premium two-row malt gives Duquesne Pilsener more body than the typical American brew. The beer’s strongest seasoning is a blend of three premium hops — Hallertau hops from Germany, Saaz hops from the Czech Republic and Magnum hops from Washington State.
The website is also quite in depth in the timeline for the Duquense brand name. Here is where it is said the origins of the beer lay:
Back in the day, the leading brand of beer in Pennsylvania was Duquesne Pilsener. Its roots went back to the days of the Pittsburgh region’s burgeoning industrial age and immigrant influx. Where there are hard-working people, there has to be beer!

Photo Credit: The USBeerstuff website
The Duquesne Brewing Company was incorporated in April 1899 and became a regional beer powerhouse. Obviously, Duquense like all other beer companies in the United States faced dire times during the Prohibition years of 1920-1933 but Duquense was able to stay afloat making products like "near-beer" which is described as being "a malt tonic with one-half percent alcohol".

In the post-Prohibition era, Duquense rebounded by producing a 325,000 barrel per year capacity, with a total of 690,000 barrels per year by 1940, making it the largest brewery in Pennsylvania and the eighth largest in America. The good times for Duquense was coming to an end in the post-World War II era from the rise to prominence of larger breweries, profit losses and to increased labor struggles. By 1972 the Duquense beer brand as mentioned in the book was no longer in business. For a more in-depth explanation plus a description of the Duquense brand being brought back to life, click here: Duquense Beer: Our Story

Black Velvet
Black Velvet is a blended Canadian Whisky. The Black Velvet website describes it as such:
In 1951, Jack Napier introduced a painstaking process to the art of whisky making. By blending his whisky at distillation, rather than at bottling, he achieved a taste so smooth that it had to be named Black Velvet. With a subtly sweet taste profile and clean finish, Black Velvet Whisky has become the preferred pour of discriminating whisky drinkers around the world.
So as per the book, the Black Velvet Whisky is done straight up as a shot with a 7-up chaser or back-up. I can't say that I have ever seen it here in New York City, but I did recently see it on a shelf in a bar during one of the episodes of Zane Lamprey's Drinking Made Easy. Here is a poster that I found online with Telly Savalas of the TV show Kojak as a spokesperson for the Black Velvet brand in 1978.

You can't go wrong with Telly Savalas. Who loves ya baby. Any of you out there every had any of the three products I mention in this post? Whatcha think. Let me know.

Until Then, Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Bacardi Devils

Printed in Playboy 10/1963
At quick glance you might think that this post is on a sponsorship deal that some professional sports team known as the Devils made with the Bacardi Distillery. Not so. The Bacardi Devils were a series of cocktails that Bacardi seemed to be promoting in the early 1960's. According to the blogpage Madness and the Rigors of Life in their post of May 25, 2012 Bacardi Ad Shaken When Stirred states that two series of ads ran in Playboy in 1963 and 1965. They all contained actor Henry Daniell.

As you can see from the picture, there were a series of four cocktails that were identified by color: The Black Devil, the Green Devil, the Yellow Devil and the White Devil. The way they were made was basically the same. Here is how the ad called for the cocktails to be made:
Mix 3 parts Light or Dark Bacardi, 1 part Dry Vermouth and stir like the devil with ice.
The differences in the cocktails came in the form of garnish and glassware. The Black Devil called for the cocktail to be strained in a cocktail glass and adding a black olive. The Green Devil was to be served over ice with a green olive. The Yellow Devil took Bacardi Dark (or Gold as it is called today) in a cocktail glass with a lemon twist. The White Devil took Bacardi Silver in a cocktail glass with a lemon twist. Simple enough, no?

So I decided to make one for Melvin Monday night after work and he said that he liked the cocktail. It was light and the Vermouth seemed to balance out the flavor in the Bacardi. But he felt that the cocktail was missing something. Perhaps a bit more of a presence in the form of more lemon or lime juice. Since I have some Bacardi Silver and some Dry Vermouth here at home, I decided to make myself one. What did I think?

After taking a few sips I have to admit that this is an interesting cocktail. In all honesty, its basically a Perfect Martini which substitutes the Gin or Vodka (yes, I know the purists don't believe that a Martini should be made with anything but Gin but indulge me on this one) for the Bacardi Rum. It does have a nice dry consistency to it thanks to the Dry Vermouth. Agreeing with Melvin, the Vermouth did balance the Bacardi a bit but this is one cocktail that like your traditional Martini will kick you in the teeth with how strong it is.

I found that by running a slice of lemon peel along the rim of the glass added another level of lemon flavor to the taste. Perhaps that is enough to satisfy what Melvin felt the cocktail was missing. He suggested maybe muddling some lemons in the cocktail mixture would do the trick. Keeping in mind that tastes in cocktails in the 1960's and the proportions that were used then might be different from today's tastes and measurements, a change in the cocktail to include more lemon flavor might not be necessary but I am game to try it in the future to see if it works. Even as I type this, I'm feeling the cocktail starting to warm me up. LOL. No wonder Bacardi labelled these as the "Devils".

Here is the other ad that I mentioned earlier from Playboy in 1965 (Thanks and photo credit to the blogpage Madness and the Rigors of Life for the images)

On a side note, veteran bartender, musician and movie aficionado Joe Walsh of the Nitrate Stock: The Online Guide to Classic Film Screenings in NYC suggested that perhaps using a darker rum like a Goslings or a Cruzan Black Strap with some Sweet Vermouth instead of Dry Vermouth can create something akin to a Manhattan using Rum instead of Bourbon. I guess I have the next post. Thanks Joe. Check out his website, his Nitrate Stock Facebook group page, as well as, following him @NitrateStock on Twitter for more information.

Until Then, Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Cucumber Gimlet

I finally found a cocktail that I could use the Cucumbers that were left behind at the bar last week after a scavenger hunt/birthday party. In searching online for a cocktail containing Cucumber, I found a post on the TastefullyJulie blogpage. The cocktail she created is called the Cucumber Gimlet and it contains all fresh ingredients along with the Gin she chose to use: Bombay Sapphire. Now since I had every ingredient she used, I decided to follow her recipe to a "T" with one minor detour. I followed her method for making simple syrup. Instead of boiling the water, dissolving the sugar in the water and letting it sit until it cools down, she takes the sugar and cold water in a bottle and shakes it until mixed. It doesn't create a mixture that is as thick as traditional methods of making simple syrup but like her, I found that this method worked in terms of time. As per my routine, I substituted Splenda instead of the sugar in the simple syrup.

Here is her recipe:
Cucumber Gimlet
Recipe type: cocktail
Serves: 1-2

1 small cucumber, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 ounces fresh lime juice
2 ounces simple syrup
3 ounces gin of choice

Muddle 8-10 pieces of the cucumber with the lime juice in a drink shaker.
Add simple syrup, gin, and ice.
Shake well, strain and serve.
I asked Momma-San what she thought of it and she said that she liked it but wasn't sure if someone who didn't like Cucumbers would like it since you can taste the Cucumber in it. Well, I'll debunk that statement since I don't particularly like Cucumbers but I like this cocktail. Upon first taste, I found it to be extremely smooth. If I didn't know any better I wouldn't have known there was any Gin in the cocktail let alone Bombay Sapphire. The Cucumber flavor is very subtle and blends perfectly with the lime juice and the simple syrup for a very sublime flavor. The cocktail is also very aromatic.

As you can tell from the picture, the cocktail is very elegant, simple and easy to make once you have everything prepped. This is definitely a go-to cocktail if you want to impress a certain special someone. ;)

Thanks to TastefullyJulie for the cocktail recipe and feel free to check out her site.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Repeal Day December 5, 1933

Its funny how some historical dates that would normally be relegated to the ashpile of history gets celebrated in the bar community. One such day is December 5th which is now known as Repeal Day. What was repealed? Ah, your High School and College United States History teachers and professors would be so upset at your for not knowing this. Well since I mentioned it, Repeal Day celebrates the repealing of that boondoggle known as the National Prohibition Act aka the Volstead Act aka simply as Prohibition and more specifically the The Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States that caused this country to go "dry" least theoretically.

The Eighteenth Amendment was passed by Congress on December 18, 1917, ratified on January 16, 1919, with the law taking effect on January 17, 1920. The text of the Amendment called for the following:
  • Section 1. After one year from the ratification of this article the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited.
  • Section 2. The Congress and the several States shall have concurrent power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
  • Section 3. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of the several States, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the States by the Congress.
As we all know from History books and movies, the enactment of Prohibition in the United States came about due to the rising influence of the Anti-Temperance movement (think of hatchet wielding Carrie Nation for an example) and its ratification in the form of the Eighteenth Amendment helped to aid in the rise of Organized crime. Those plucky gangsters saw the need for alcohol by ordinary citizens of this country and stepped in to fill the need by producing and shipping alcohol to the thirsty masses. It even got to the point that the population had to resort to frequenting places known as Speakeasies to have a drink illegally and going to such places as Canada, Mexico and Europe to enjoy their libations without breaking the law. Obviously I'm simplifying and downplaying the effects of the amendment but I don't want to bore all those who aren't History buffs.

Prohibition lasted until it was repealed with the Twenty-First Amendment. The Amendment was passed by Congress on February 20, 1933 and ratified on December 5, 1933. It's text called for the following to take effect:
  • Section 1. The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.
  • Section 2. The transportation or importation into any State, Territory, or possession of the United States for delivery or use therein of intoxicating liquors, in violation of the laws thereof, is hereby prohibited.
  • Section 3. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by conventions in the several States, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the States by the Congress.
Imagine the cheers from the population when they could enter a bar legally on December 5, 1993.

So in honor of this Historic date, bartenders and cocktailians throughout this country have taken to celebrating the repeal of Prohibition.

So go out there, find yourself a speakeasy and have yourself a Repeal Day cocktail.

Until Then, Happy Drinking
Sisco Vanilla

FYI: On a side note, The United States Congress enacted the Cullen-Harrison Act on March 21, 1933 and President Roosevelt signed into law the next day which called for the legalization, production and sale of beer with an alcohol content of 3.2% by weight which was known as the "3.2 beer". The act went into effect April 7, 1933. Now I found two more dates that we can celebrate in the bar business. As if we needed anymore of an excuse to celebrate. ;)

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Macallan 12-Year Single Malt Scotch Whisky

For today's post I've decided to go back to sampling a particular spirit as opposed to putting together a cocktail. In doing so, I've chosen to taste the Single Malt by Macallan known as the Macallan 12-year Scotch Whisky.

According to the Macallan website:

'Single' Malt Scotch Whisky is Scotch Whisky distilled at a single distillery entirely from malted barley. The Macallan Sherry Oak is exclusively matured for a minimum of 12 years in Spanish oak casks, handcrafted and sherry seasoned in Jerez, Spain. This delivers a classic Macallan style, wonderfully rich in colour with dried fruits, spice and chocolate orange. It has a rich gold colour with a scent of vanilla with a hint of ginger, dried fruits, sherry sweetness and wood smoke. To the palate it is deliciously smooth, rich dried fruits and sherry, balanced with wood smoke and spice. To the finish it has a sweet toffee and dried fruit taste with wood smoke and spice. 
I am somewhat ashamed to admit it but this is the first time I have ever tasted a single malt scotch whiskey. To be honest, I don't know much about the process of where Scotch is made aside from its origins laying in Scotland. From the Macallan website:
The definition of Single Malt Scotch Whisky regions has been much debated and changed since the 1784 Wash Act divided the country roughly into 'Highland' and 'Lowland' for tax purposes. It is now generally agreed that there are six Single Malt Scotch Whisky regions, each having its own distinctive style. The Macallan has been distilled in the Speyside region since 1824 at Craigellachie, in Moray where the Easter Elchies House sits proudly overlooking the river Spey and has been the spiritual home of The Macallan for over two centuries. This area, between the cities of Inverness and Aberdeen, sweeps from granite mountains down to fertile countryside and is universally acknowledged as the heartland of malt whisky distillation. Speyside Single Malts are noted in general for their elegance and complexity, and often a refined smokiness.
I chose to have the serving with two pieces of ice. I have to admit, this was damned smooth to both my nose and palate. I definitely picked up on the smoky flavor of the wood and some sweetness that I couldn't quite place even after reading the description on the website. I chalk that up to the amateur nature of the taster. =) It was very smooth to my tongue and down the throat. No burn whatsoever. I can definitely see myself enjoying some more of this 12-year old single malt during the cold days this winter.

Any recommendations on what kind of Single Malt I should look into next? Inquiring minds would like to know.

Until Then, Happy Drinking
Sisco Vanilla

The Sisco Strength Dirty Hybrid Martini

After I made the ladies their choice of Thanksgiving cocktails, I decided to make one for myself. Unlike the sweet cocktails I had just made (Sisco Bay and La Figarita) I decided to shift gears and make myself a stiff drink. I had bought a small bottle of Grey Goose Vodka right before Hurricane Sandy and had yet to crack it open. I also wanted to make a Gin martini but was afraid that if I only used Bombay Sapphire Gin in it that I wouldn't like it. So I decided to take a page out of Ian Fleming's book. Fleming's famed Vesper calls for 3oz Gordon's Gin, 1oz Vodka and .5oz Lillet with a lemon twist. In my case, I decided to use equal parts of the Vodka and Gin to make a sort of Hybrid dirty martini. Here is what I came up with:
Sisco Strength Dirty Hybrid Martini
1.5oz of Grey Goose Vodka
1.5oz of Bombay Sapphire Gin
.25oz of Olive Juice

Build in an ice file shaker and stir until ice cold. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Drop three olives into the glass.
So how did it taste? Well I had the ladies taste it and all three of them shuddered and simply hated it. Momma-San called it a "Man's Drink". Well, I guess it was if I drank it. LOL. It was actually quite tasty. The balance of the Vodka and the Gin helped to tame the Bombay Sapphire a bit. I can imagine that a Martini made completely with Bombay Sapphire would not have been appetizing to my taste buds. But the addition of the Grey Goose and the olive juice made for a very tasty and strong cocktail. I tried to find another combination of Gin and Vodka a few days later to see if in fact another Gin would be suitable.

This time I used Tanqueray instead of the Bombay Sapphire with the Grey Goose. What I found was that the using Tanqueray made for a cocktail that was neither as smooth or as flavorful as the one that I made using the Bombay Sapphire.I thought about using Hendricks Gin instead but I'm not sure if the different profile of Cucumber that Hendricks brings would play well with the dirtiness that the olive juice brings to this cocktail.

I think that for my purposes and according to my palate, the combination of Bombay Sapphire and Grey Goose with Olive Juice works perfectly. Any suggestions? Recommendations?

On a side note, maybe the new Bombay Sapphire East Gin would work as well. Here is a brief description from the review on
Bombay Sapphire East Gin (42%, 84 proof $35) is an interesting extension in the Bombay Sapphire brand. It features all of the botanicals from Bombay Sapphire (juniper, grains of paradise, lemon peel, cubeb berries, coriander seeds, angelica root, almond, orris, and licorice) and then adds lemongrass and black pepper. These two new botanicals clearly stand out in the nose of the Bombay Sapphire East Gin, giving it a spicier and fuller nose. The lemongrass seems to also boost the lemon in the nose and the black pepper boosts the juniper.
So I guess I have another mission to embark on. This time to the far East.

Until Then, Happy Drinking
Sisco Vanilla

Thursday, November 29, 2012

La Figarita

I was whipping up some cocktails during the Thanksgiving dinner and everyone seemed to want some of the Sisco Bay which my friend Izzie recommended I make. Unfortunately I ran out of Ketel One Citron Vodka and Momma-San pulled rank as the cook of the meal and took the last Sisco Bay leaving my sister without a drink. But as I mentioned with the post on The Stella, I looked at the samples I had and decided to whip something up. My eyes settled on the light purple bottle of Figenza (Fig infused Vodka) with the bottle of Agave nectar in the background. With that I came up with the following:
La Figarita
1.5oz of Figenza Vodka
1oz of Triple Sec
1oz of Homemade Sweet and Sour
.25oz of Agave Nectar

Build over ice and stir.
What I found was that the cocktail was as sweet as I expected it to be. Actually too sweet for me but just right for my sister. She thoroughly enjoyed it. Now I need to get some more Figenza AND Ketel One Citron. These ladies are coming over and drinking all my booze. LOL.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Stella

A few weeks ago Momma-San and I had Ju and Stella over and after a few cocktails I decided to try and come up with something new. I looked at the samples I had and figured that present company would like something sweet. I decided to use the following ingredients: Domaine De Canton, Xanté Pear Brandy, Triple Sec, Lemonade and Grenadine. Now I figured that it would be sweet and luckily that I chose the ratio of alcohol that I did. Here is how the cocktail broke down:
The Stella
1oz Domaine de Canton
.25oz Xanté Pear Brandy
.5oz Triple Sec
1oz lemonade
.5oz Rose's lime juice
.25oz Grenadine

Mix all ingredients (except Grenadine) in an ice filled shaker. Shake vigorously and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Slowly pour the Grenadine along the inside of the glass.

I'll be honest, I wasn't totally sure how the cocktail was going to end up especially with the Grenadine. As you can see from the picture, the Grenadine being heavier than the cocktail, settled down to the bottom creating a gradient effect of yellow and red in the glass.

I'm also glad that I used such a small amount of the Xanté. Xanté is a pear infused Brandy and even with the small amount I used, it over powered the cocktail in aroma and taste. Thanks to the Grenadine the cocktail definitely got sweeter as you got further down the glass.

When I asked the ladies what I should call the cocktail, Ju suggested we name it after Stella, hence the Stella was born.

If you happen to make one, let me know what you think of it.

Until Then Happy Drinking
Sisco Vanilla

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Hurricane Cocktail

Never let it be said that I fail to capitalize on an opportunity to make a cocktail that is relevant to current events. Since Ms. Dawn was so kind as to bring me a packet of Pat O'Brien's Hurricane Cocktail Mix from her last trip down to New Orleans I've decided to crack the packet open and make us some Hurricanes. Now before I go into the making of the cocktail, I wanted to shed some light as to how the cocktail came about. According to the Pat O'Brien's bar's website:
In the mid 1940's, Pat O'Brien's Bar (718 St. Peter Street, New Orleans) propelled when the Hurricane Drink was created. At that time, there was short supply of liquor such as whiskey, bourbon and scotch. There was, however, access to rum coming up the river. Bar owners were forced to buy large quantities of rum, 50 cases or so, in order to purchase other liquor. Through trial and error, they came up with a drink that everyone loved! Pat O'Brien paired it up with a glass shaped like a Hurricane lamp and the drink was perfected!

So after I followed the following instructions:
Pat O'Brien's Hurricane Cocktail drink mix.
Half fill a clean quart container with cold water.
Add Pat O'Brien's Hurricane drink mix to water and stir thoroughly.
Add water to fill container and shake again.

Fill drinking glass with ice.
Add 4 oz. dark rum to drinking glass.
Add 4 oz. liquid Pat O'Brien's Hurricane drink mix to drinking glass.

Stir, garnish with orange slice and maraschino cherry. Serve with straw.

I'm using Bacardi Select Rum since I don't have any Amber/Gold Rum. Here is what I got (sans orange wedge):

For those of you out there, be safe while that sassy lassie Ms. Sandy is paying our lovely city a visit.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Adult Arnold Palmer aka Sweet Tea Palmetto

I decided that since I'd be home for a few extra days due to Hurricane Sandy that I would try something new in terms of spirits. I've had my eye on the Seagram's Sweet Tea Vodka for some time now and decided to finally pick up a small bottle. I have to say that I am not disappointed. Here is how the Seagram's Sweet Tea Vodka website describes the Sweet Tea Vodka:
Seagram's Sweet Tea combines all the charm and refreshing sweetness of Southern sweet tea with five-times distilled premium vodka making a highly mixable spirit that has the potential to turn any night into a hot Southern night.
I found that straight up it tasted somewhat "herbally" but actually quite tasty. It did remind me of the Southern style Sweet Teas that I have had in the past though Momma-San found it to be too strong for her straight up. Naturally, to make it more palatable for her, I thought about what does well with Sweet tea and so I decided to come up with what I called an Adult Arnold Palmer. The Arnold Palmer is Iced Tea mixed with Lemonade named after famed golfer Arnold Palmer. The recipe sheet calls a similar version of this cocktail the Sweet Tea Palmetto. Here is how they list the recipe:
Sweet Tea Palmetto
1 ½ oz. Seagram’s Sweet Tea
3 oz. Lemonade

Mix together in a cocktail glass and garnish with a lemon wedge.
My version was a bit stronger since I used 2oz. of Sweet Tea Vodka and 3oz. of Lemonade. I found that the addition of the Lemonade helps to quell some of the herbal taste of the sweet tea while not making it too sweet.

I can see this cocktail not lasting too long, especially on a warm summers night. Well in this case awaiting the arrival of that sassy lassie Ms. Sandy. Be safe out there.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sitting on the Dock of Sisco Bay

Here we are on the cusp of the arrival of the Frankenstorm in NYC and I find myself with a rare four day weekend. Since the MTA is closing the subways at 7pm and stopping bus service at 9pm getting into the city from the Bronx will be somewhat difficult. So I was given a staycation and a chance to rest and do some writing...and some drinking too. For today's post, I've decided to make a cocktail that my friend Izzie Steele recommended to me.

Before I go into the cocktail, I just wanted to thank Izzie and give her a quick shoutout. She is an up and coming actress who will be featured in an upcoming episode of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. The episode will air on November 14th at 9pm. Make sure to check her out. On to the cocktail.

So the cocktail is called 'Sisco Bay and here is how the recipe calls for its creation:

'Sisco Bay
1.5 oz of Citron Vodka (I used Ketel One Citron)
4oz Sour Mix (I used the Homemade Sweet and Sour)
Splash of Cranberry Juice
Splash of Orange Juice
Splash of Lemonade

Pour the vodka, sour mix and cranberry juice into a shaker, shake with ice and strain into an ice filled glass. Top with orange juice and lemonade. Place a slice of lemon in to the glass as garnish.

I wish I could say that I thoroughly enjoyed this cocktail but I gave Momma-San a sip and she just took the glass with her. LOL. Like the Mikey of Chex fame "She Likes It". The cocktail has a nice tartness with a hint of sweetness with a light pink color that is very light and refreshing. I can definitely see someone sitting with their legs dangling over the side of the dock on the bay, watching the tide roll away...wasting time (Thanks to Otis Redding for the wonderful words and Izzie Steele for the recipe).

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

AUTHOR'S NOTE: I didn't seem to realize when I bought the orange juice that I had actually bought an orange mango juice blend. I'm not sure how it would change the taste of the cocktail from the original recipe. I guess I'd have to experiment to find out.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

La Cucaracha Shot

Sometimes during my travels and adventures I come across the most weirdest of drinks. Here's the case of one such drink. I was out with Momma-San Tuesday night on the rare date night without the kids. Where I had the idea of going downtown to visit some bar friends of mine, my being tired from a long stretch of having worked 11 of 12 nights, I decided to stay local in the Bronx. We decided on Willie's Steakhouse on Westchester Avenue for drinks and food. My sister joined us a couple of hours later and we were having a good time doing shots. The gentleman sitting to my right saw that we were doing shots and asked if I had ever tried the Cucaracha shot. This peaked my interest.

Now I normally wouldn't do a shot like the Cucaracha shot but just like with the post on the Nutcracker, sometimes you have to just throw caution to the wind, try something new and live a little. So here I am revisiting Bacardi 151 as I did in the Flaming Dr. Pepper post. Here is how the shot is made:
La Cucaracha Shot
1oz Vodka
1oz Kahlua
Bacardi 151 float

Build in a shot glass. Float Bacardi 151 on top. Light with a match. Stick a straw down to the bottom (while still lit) and suck it up.

Now this can also be called a Flaming Black Russian since the two main ingredients of this shot are the ingredients that make up a Black Russian. So how was it? It tasted like a Black Russian. LOL. Sorry, it was quite tasty. Can't beat the coffee flavor of the Kahlua. I even add it to my coffee at work to give my joe a bit more of a coffee flavor. So I would definitely recommend it to someone who is daring.

But I had one question that no one at the bar seemed to know the answer to. Why is it called "La Cucaracha"? Any ideas?

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Five Dollar Shake

First off thanks to the Kahuna for the naming of this cocktail. I wish I had come up with it originally. This is a case of putting the wagon before the horse. How so? Allow me to elaborate.

The Kahuna was celebrating his centennial at the Bleecker Street Bar (his 100th consecutive check-in to the bar on Foursquare) and he wanted something "chocolatety". So I look at the bottles that we have and decided to make him something containing chocolate and milk. Something of a milkshake of sorts. Here is what I came up with:
The Five Dollar Shake
1.5oz Jim Beam Bourbon
1oz Dark Creme de Cacao
.5oz Cinnamon Schnapps
.5oz Milk

Build Over Ice, shake and pour over ice
I decided to use Jim Beam bourbon since I've decided to forgo the Vanilla vodka for a while. I also added the Cinnamon schnapps to add a little spice to the cocktail. As you can see, it isn't very thick. I would probably use half and half or heavy cream in order to thicken it up a bit. Ideally, ice cream and a blender would do the job in that regard but we don't have either one so this would have to do.

The Kahuna at first couldn't quite tell what was in the cocktail. It wasn't until I told him that there was Cinnamon schnapps that he started to taste it. The more he drank it, the more he said he could taste the cinnamon. I guess the schnapps settled to the bottom. The cocktail was actually quite tasty. Now for the name.

Pete came up with the name when he made the connection to the cocktail with the movie Pulp Fiction. Think back to the scene where Vincent Vega (John Travolta) and Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman) are at "Jack Rabbit Slims". Here is the dialogue:

Vincent Vega: Did you just order a five dollar shake?
Mrs. Mia Wallace: Ummhh.
Vincent Vega: That's a shake . . . that's milk and ice cream.
Mrs. Mia Wallace: Last I heard.
Vincent Vega: That's five dollars? You don't put bourbon in it or nothin'?
Buddy Holly: No.
Vincent Vega: Just checking.

Well Mr. Vega, my "shake" has bourbon in it and I hate to break it to you it doesn't cost five dollars. Seven to Eight dollars perhaps. ;) Some come on down daddy-o and have yourself one.

Until Then, Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

It Was An Impromptu Sunday Night

Like the wise philosopher Forrest Gump was quoted as stating: Momma says Life is like a box of'll never know what your going to get. Sometimes I feel that way working at the Bleecker Street Bar. It seems to be even more like that when its Melvin and I working. Allow me to elaborate.

Sunday night October 14th started as planned with Game 1 of the NLCS between the San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals. Since 2010 we've become something of a San Francisco Giants bar thanks in part to Rhea and Justin to name a few. I mean we're nowhere in the league of Giants bars in NYC like Finnerty's but I think we do well for ourselves with the Gigantes fans. Though it was a tight game, the Giants lost Game 1 6-4 (as we all know today the Gigantes came back from a 3-1 deficit in the NLCS to earn a trip to the World Series against the Detroit Tigers). At the same time the Green Bay Packers were defeating the previously unbeaten Houston Texans. At this point we feel that the mass exodus was upon us and an empty bar would be staring us in the face. That true believers was not to be thanks to the crew from Dos Caminos.

Like most bar and restaurant crews (including Bleecker Street Bar's) getting everyone out at the same time is a rare event due to schedules and personal lives. But for some reason it seemed like the whole of The Dos crew (including friends) were out for a raucous night of Sunday Funday at the Bleecker Street Bar. One of the friends, a lovely lady named Jessica who is a fellow bartender was giving me tips on how to use the previously posted Domaine de Canton and Jack Honey in cocktails. I'll go into that aspect of the conversation a later time. But another drink that we spoke about was a simple but tasty cocktail that she ordered for her friend called a Malibu Margarita. I must have given her a weird look because she just laughed like someone who gets that look often when ordering that cocktail. She says I should make it exactly like a standard Margarita just substituting the Malibu Coconut Rum for the Tequila. Here is how I made it:
Malibu Margarita
2oz Malibu Coconut Rum
1oz Triple Sec
.5oz Sour Mix
.5oz Rose's Lime Juice

Build over ice and shake. Serve with a lime wedge.
I have to admit, that after taking a taste of the cocktail that it was very light and tasty. The sweetness of the Malibu and Triple Sec was balanced nicely by the tartness of the Lime juice and Sour Mix. I can only imagine how this cocktail would taste with fresher ingredients like homemade sweet and sour and agave nectar. It is definitely a drink that I will add to my list of must make cocktails when someone wants something light and sweet. Here are Melvin and the Mayor posing with a pair of Malibu Margaritas I made for them at the end of the night.

There's one added twist to the night that I have yet to mention. One of the lounges in the area has a jazz band that plays every Sunday night and after they're done, they come by the bar to unwind and play darts and have a few beers. On this day, all three members of the band show up and as they are playing darts, my friend Jaime notices that musical equipment by the jukebox. She asks me who's equipment that is and if they would mind playing some music. I direct her to where they were and after a few minutes to everyone's surprise they band set up and was throwing down a bad ass jazz set in the dart area at 3am in the morning for what has to be a first in the 20 years that Bleecker Street Bar has been open.

A good time was definitely had by all. What can we come up with for this weekend? Tune in to find out true believers.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Neapolitan

One of the new spirits that I tasted last Tuesday at Bailey's was a flavored vodka by Three Olives Vodka. Now to the chagrin of many mixologists and alcohol purists, the explosion of flavored vodkas on to the market has brought about a tremendous amount of possibilities when it comes to making cocktails. Aside from Three Olives Vodka, Pinnacle Vodka and Van Gogh Vodka are two other companies that are making a wide variety of flavored vodkas. I do see where the mixologists who are anti-flavored vodkas are coming from, Bailey's also had the Three Olives Bubblegum flavored Vodka which smelled just like a chewed up square of Bubblelicious. But to be honest, I don't want to drink something that smells like that. But I digress.

So Pete serves us the Three Olives S'mores vodka. As per the Three Olives website, the S'mores is:
S'MORES: A mouth-watering blend of imported English vodka and chocolate, marshmallow and graham cracker.
At Christina's suggestion, we have it served on the rocks with a squeeze of a lemon wedge. After a quick stir, a took a taste of it and it was quite delicious. Both Christina and Myron remarked that it tasted like a chocolate biscotti. Once I looked at the selection of other flavored vodkas and liqueurs that were behind the bar, I was struck with an idea. Here is what I came up with:
The Neapolitan
1/3 Three Olives S'mores Vodka
1/3 Stoli Vanilla Vodka
1/3 Arrow Strawberry Liqueur
Build over ice in a shaker, shake vigorously and serve in a shot glass.
Optimally I would have preferred to having the shot be a bit creamier so a Chocolate liqueur such as Godiva would have probably better suited what I was looking for but the Three Olives S'mores gave the shot its own special flavor. The S'mores gave it a little saltniess that seemed to feel like the flavor that you would get from a cone. So in essence, the shot tasted like melted Neapolitan ice cream with the cone included. And for those of you who know me, I'm an ice cream fiend. So this shot was just what the doctor ordered.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Impromptu Birthday Tasting

Yesterday I decided to go out to Bailey's Corner Pub on 85th Street and York Avenue to visit my friend Pete for a few pre-Birthday drinks. Joining me were Myron, Christina and Haley. As I am prone to do, I look for spirits that I have never had before and taste them. Luckily for me, Bailey's has a very good selection and here is a list of the new spirits that I tried out:
- Tanteo Jalapeno Tequila
- Crop Organic Cucumber Vodka
- Three Olives S'mores Vodka
- Basil Hayden Bourbon
- Veev Acai Spirit
- Pyrat Rum XO Reserve
I'll be posting my thoughts on these spirits within the next few days. Tonight's plans? Off to Yankee Stadium with Momma-San to hopefully see the Yankees clinch the AL East and the #1 seed in the American League. Happy Birthday to me!!!!

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Blueberry Ginger Vodka Cocktails

Today I popped the lid off the Blueberry Ginger Vodka infusion that I have been working on. The aroma was amazing. The Ginger just took over the Vodka. It smells strong and spicy. The Vodka has a nice deep blue purple color due to the Blueberries.

I decided to keep the first drink I make simple. Here is what I made:
Blueberry Ginger and Soda
1.5oz Blueberry Ginger infused vodka
Club Soda

In a glass with ice pour in vodka. Fill remained with club soda.
The cocktail was very light. The spicy flavor of the ginger is clear on the tongue with some subtle tones of the Blueberry at the end. I feel a nice tingle to the back of my tongue. I like the sensation I get with each bubbly taste and that's saying something since I am not fan of club soda. If you want something a little sweeter maybe a Diet 7-or a Diet Ginger Ale would help to boost up the sweetness levels.

I decided to take different take with the following recipe:
1 1/4oz Blueberry Ginger infused Vodka
1/4 Grand Marnier
Squeeze of a Lime Wedge
Soda Water to Fill

Build over ice in a glass. Shake quickly, add more ice, top with Soda Water and serve.
How does it taste?

The Grand Marnier adds a subtle sweetness that the earlier cocktail did not have. The lime juice also lurks around in the background adding a slight tart layer to the strong flavor that the ginger gave the Vodka infusion. To be honest, I think the only thing the Blueberries gave was some coloring. Of the four flavors, the Blueberries are the least noticeable. I find that the second cocktail is a much more balanced drink than the first one unless you like a more ginger taste and feel to your cocktails. Overall, it is a refreshing cocktail to have to remember that Summer is gone and Autumn has arrived.

Speaking of Autumn, I've been researching some interesting cocktails that I will look forward to making and profiling. So get ready for some more darker and robust cocktails that are soon to come.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla