Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Week's Vodka Infusions

For this week's infusions I went with the recommendation of my friend Will Gordon (@WillGordonAgain) columnist of the Drinking the Bottom Shelf on the Drinks section of Serious Eats. Give his column a read. Highly entertaining. So when I first decided to experiment with infusing vodka's will recommended that I should try infusing vodkas with Pineapples and Strawberries. Well, here they are. In less that one day, the vodka that contains the strawberries already has taken on a pinkish-reddish hue. Can't wait to crack this open in a few days and see what it smells like. I'll get back to you on it.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Blackberry Infused Vodka = Meh

Yesterday I spoke glowingly about my homemade Raspberry Infused Vodka. Today its the Blackberry infused vodka's turn. At first glance, I'm not as impressed with it as I was with the Raspberry. Where the Raspberry infusion gave the vodka an amazing color, aroma and taste, the only thing the Blackberries gave the vodka was a nice dark purple color. It really did nothing improve the taste past a slight flavor infusion and very faint aroma. I checked to see what kind of flavors the Blackberry is best paired with in a cocktail. According to Humberto Marques in his article Fruit Flavour Combinations for Cocktails: A Mixologist's Study of Flavors from cocktails.about.com the Blackberry is best paired with:
apricot, black pepper, champagne, cinnamon, citrus, hazelnut, lemon, other berries, peach, plum, Port wine

Since I have Lemonade in the fridge, I decided to make a simple Blackberry Lemonade. Here is the recipe
Blackberry Vodka
1 oz. Blackberry Infused Vodka
2 oz. Lemonade

Pour Blackberry Infused Vodka and Lemonade in a glass with ice. Garnish with a lemon wedge

To be perfectly honest, the lemonade does nothing to enhance the Blackberry vodka. Aside from the pretty color the lemonade makes when blending with the vodka, there is nothing that stands out about this drink. It's just there. It is lemony with a hint of berries. That's it. I was considering making a second cocktail to see if maybe the vodka would be better served as a Martini of sorts. After debating back and forth with myself I decided to give the Blackberry Vodka another shot and make another cocktail. Here is the recipe I used:

Blackberry Martini
3 oz. Blackberry Vodka
1 oz. Triple Sec
.5 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
.5 oz. Simple Syrup

Combine all ingredients over ice and shake vigorously until very cold. Strain into chilled cocktail glass.
This cocktail gives the Blackberry vodka a new lease on life. The triple sec, fresh lemon juice and the simple syrup seem to enhance the Blackberry Vodka in very subtle ways. I prefer the Blackberry vodka in this capacity.

Would I infuse vodka with Blackberry again? Who knows. To be honest, I'd hesitate to do so for the time being, choosing to focus on other berries/fruits to infuse.

Until Then, Happy Drinking.
Sisco Vanilla

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Raspberry Infused Vodka Martini

Today is the day that I decided to strain and use my Raspberry infused vodka in a drink. Within the week that I infused the vodka it went from clear and virtually odorless to a nice deep red color and smelled wonderful. The smell of raspberries popped out of the mason jar that I was using to infuse the vodka. Tasting it straight up is awesome. Not bitter in the least. Now to make a cocktail out of it.

I decided to make something not very sweet and very simple to make. I decided on a Raspberry Martini since I not only have the ingredients handy, its a quick thing to make. Here is the recipe I used:

Raspberry Martini
3 oz. Raspberry Vodka
1 oz. Triple Sec
.5 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
.5 oz. Simple Syrup

Combine all ingredients over ice and shake vigorously until very cold. Strain into chilled cocktail glass.
As you can see from the picture to the right, the cocktail has a nice red hue to it, taking on the color of the infused vodka. The cocktail tastes rich with Raspberry and lemon notes. I replaced the 1 oz. of sweet and sour that the original recipe called for with .5 oz. each of Fresh lemon juice and simple syrup. I think this made a big different when coming to the taste of the cocktail. It's taste varies drastically from one made let's say with Stolichnaya Raspberry and sweet and sour mix. The cocktail tastes natural, like eating a bunch of fresh raspberries without chewing on the seeds. Very much a summer cocktail. This drink gets the Momma-san seal of approval. Yes!!!!!!


Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Limoncello and Tequila for Memorial Day Weekend

I was looking through my ever growing liquor bottle stash and noticed the tall bottle of Limoncello that seems to stand out over the rest. As I pulled it out of the cabinet, I wondered what can I now do with this bottle after the Limoncello and Prosecco with Fruit Ice Cubes on Mothers Day experience. I started wondering to myself: What goes well with Lemons. It hit me immediately: Tequila!!!! Problem was, I didn't have any. Well, off I went in search of some Tequila. After making a stop at Taco Bell I stopped off at a small liquor store where I picked up two small bottles of Hornitos. One was the Plata (Silver) and one was the ever popular Bleecker Street Bar mainstay Reposado. So armed with my two Mexican spirits, I marched on home to make two refeshing cocktails for this Memorial Day weekend.

I used the Hornitos Silver first. I came across this recipe for a simple drink called the Stone Park Collins in the article TEQUILA DRINKS TO SHAKE UP AT HOME by Erica Sagon on the sheknows.com website. Based on a cocktail made at the Stone Park Cafe located at 324 Fifth Avenue, corner of 3rd Street Park Slope Brooklyn , this is recipe for the drink:
Stone Park Cocktail
1-1/2 ounces silver tequila
1 ounce Pallini limoncello
1 ounce lemon juice
1 ounce simple syrup

Directions:
Shake all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice, then strain into a highball glass filled with ice. Top with soda and garnish with an orange twist
I decided to make it in one of my trusty glasses since I don't own any highball glasses (yet, soon soon). Luckily for me I made a batch of simple syrup the other day so I was ready to go.

What I found was a nice semi sweet cocktail. The sweetness from the Limoncello and the simple syrup was balanced with the silver tequila and the lemon juice. This is one dangerous cocktail since before I knew it, the cool and refreshing drink was gone down my throat. Delicious. This might be the kind of drink to upscale and make as a punch. To place in a pitcher and have people serve themselves at their leisure. Ok, on to cocktail number two.

For this one I decided to use the Hornitos Reposado that seems to be the shooting Tequila of choice at the Bleecker Street Bar. Many a tequila monster is unleashed after a few of these are poured on a given evening. If found the recipe for a Tequila Mockingbird 2 on the In The Land of Cocktails website. Here is the recipe:
Tequila Mockingbird 2
2 ounces Reposado tequila
1 ounce Limon­cello
1 ounce fresh lemon juice
2 drops Angos­tura bit­ters
½ ounce Sim­ple Syrup (or more to taste)
1 lemon twist, for garnish

Fill a Mar­garita glass with ice to chill and set aside. Com­bine the tequila, limon­cello, lemon juice, bit­ters in a cock­tail shaker filled with ice and shake vig­or­ously. Add the Sim­ple Syrup, adding more if nec­es­sary. Strain the drink into a chilled glass gar­nish with a lemon twist and serve imme­di­ately. Makes one cocktail.
This cocktail is bolder and not as sweet as the Stone Park Collins. I would attribute that to the Hornitos Reposado and the bitters. The fact that it is bolder than the Stone Park Collins means that I can enjoy it longer. The Collins seemed to just disappear. Not that its a bad thing. Not at all. The drinks are just different. The drink has a light caramel or amber color to it not the darker color as in the picture on the website. I guess it would depend on which kind of Reposado that you use would determine the color of the cocktail.

I really like this drink. I like its flavor, its presentation. Its got a cool style to it. Tony Bennett and Billy Joel's jazzy version of New York State of Mind from Playin' With My Friends: Tony Bennett Sings the Blues that is currently playing as I write this compliments the drink to a "T". Life is good people. Life is good.

Happy Holiday Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Saturday, May 26, 2012

New Vodka Infusions

Based on the roaring success of my last two vodka infusions, I am currently working on infusion a bottle of Alexis Vodka. I split the bottle in two. One jar has raspberries and the other blackberries. I've had them infusing now for three days and as you see by the picture, the vodka has quickly taken on the color of the berries. I figure I'll leave them infusing for another three or four days and see how they taste. Will let you gals and guys know how it turns out.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Dawn Metropolitan Cocktail

As a side note to my Cosmopolitan: Cook or DeGroff Version post, I was asked by linguist extraordinare Dawn to make her a Metropolitan.

What's a Metropolitan? Aside from a baseball player who plays in Citi Field, a Metropolitan (As per Dawn) is a cocktail that has the following recipe:
Metropolitan
1.5 oz of Absolute Citron
.5 Cointreau
.25 Rose Lime or Fresh Lime
1 oz of Chambord
Lemon Twist

Shake With ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass
According to the Chambord website:
Chambord is the premium black raspberry liqueur with a fine French heritage. According to legend, in 1685 King Louis XIV visited Château Chambord, where he enjoyed a marvelous liqueur made from wild raspberries. This liqueur inspired the spirit that today is known as Chambord Liqueur Royale de France. The rich heritage of the Liqueur Royale is now celebrated in the reintroduction of Chambord, the world-renowned black raspberry liqueur for the modern mixologist.

Just two hours south of Paris, in an area fondly called The Garden of France, is the home of Chambord. The liqueur is crafted in a state-of-the-art facility on the grounds of La Sistiere, a magnificent chateau nestled in Cour Cheverny in the Loire Valley. Here, the Master Blender watches over the blending of each batch according to a 300-year-old tradition.

"Chambord Liqueur possesses a rich heritage of being made from the finest fruits and is created through a classic process that is parallel in quality to the finest French cuisine and wine."

~Michel Gayraud
Now as I check online and in my trusty Mr. Boston's Official Bartender's Guind 75th edition, this is the common recipe found under the name Metropolitan Cocktail:
Metropolitan
1.25 oz Brandy
1.25 oz Sweet Vernouth
.25 oz Simple Syrup
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Stir With ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass
Aside from the glass to be served in, both of them are different drinks. The closest that I was able to find to the drink Dawn suggested to me was the Raspberry Lemon Drop. As with many of the newer drinks, there is no uniformity when it comes to ingredients. You'll see that in the two recipes I link to in the "For Further Reading" category. For argument's sake let's call the one I made "Dawn's Metropolitan Cocktail".

How did it taste? I like how the Raspberry flavor of the Chambord plays with the Absolute Citron and the Cointreau. It makes for a tasty cocktail and a pretty light to medium purple color. It's definitely the kind of cocktail that you would order for a lady if she asks for you to order her a drink.

Thanks to Dawn for introducing this drink to me. I appreciate it. :) Anyone have any suggestions on what we can refer this drink to?

Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

For Further Reading
- Click Here to access Men In Aprons' recipe for a Raspberry Lemon Drop Martini

- Click Here for the Mystery Lovers' Kitchen recipe for the Raspberry Lemon Drop Martini

The Cosmopolitan: Cook or DeGroff Versions

I was planning on making some Cosmopolitans for momma-san last night but came across some difficulties in doing so. As I usual do, I have a Plan A and a Plan B when it comes to going to my local Liquor store. There are two basic origins to the Cosmopolitan and my plans are based on the origins.

Origin one says that the Cosmpolotan was created by bartender Cheryl Cook in South Beach Miami. According to the Barmixmaster Blogpage:
As the story goes, while bartending in 1985 Cheryl notice a big resurgence of the Martini but more specifically the coolness of holding a cocktail glass. Her keen observation lead her to notice that people would order a Martini or a Vodka Martini but did not necessarily like it all that well, but rather they did it too be chic. So when Cheryl received a brand new product from her Absolut rep called Absolut Citron she took on the challenge to create a new "pretty" drink that could be served in a cocktail glass.

Cheryl went to work and whipped up a mixture of "Absolut Citron, a splash of triple sec, a drop of roses lime juice and just enough cranberry to make it oh so pretty in pink." She then served it up to her first guest Christina Solopuerto and within 45 minutes the entire restaurant had a Cosmopolitan in front of them.

This formula in Cheryl's mind was simply a Kamikaze using Absolut Citron and adding a splash of cranberry juice. The cocktail was named after the magazine Cosmopolitan which has the styles and design she was trying to project with her new drink... and Voila! a new cocktail is born.

Here's the recipe listed on his page:
Cosmopolitan
1.5 oz Absolut Citron
0.5 oz Cointreau
0.25 oz Fresh Lime Juice
1 oz Cranberry Juice

Shake all ingredients with ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, and garnish. I've seen the garnish for the Cosmo to be: a lemon twist, flamed orange peel, or lime wedge.
Here in lies the reason for the two plans. I went to the local liquor store and could not find any Absolute Citron. They were out of stock. So on to plan B.

Plan B is based on legendary Rainbow Room bartender Dale DeGroff. According to Mr. Boston's Official Bartender's Guide 75th Anniversary Edition:
The invention of the Cosmo, which has passed the lips of many a sophisticated lady (and quite a few men, too), is often credited to Cheryl Cook, a bartender in South Beach, FL. But it really took off when master mixologist Dale DeGroff served one to Madonna at New York's late and lamented Rainbow Room

Here is the recipe listed in the book:
Cosmopolitan
1 1/2 oz. Vodka
1/2 oz. fresh lime juice
1/2 oz. triple sec
1/2 oz. Cranberry juice
Garnish: Lime Wheel

Shake well with ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with lime.

So I where I didn't find the Absolute Citron, I found the Karlsson's Gold Vodka. I've heard some good things about Karlsson's potato vodka on Twitter so why not try it out. I actually mentioned that I was going to make a Cosmo for momma-san on Twitter and referenced @Karlssonsvodka and actually got a response from them. They recommended that I use either Cointreau or Grand Marnier with Karlsson's Vodka rather than Triple Sec, fresh lime and a splash of Cranberry Juice. Luckily for me I bought a small bottle of Grand Marnier to make some more of the delicious St. Tropez summer cocktail. So I followed the recipe as in the book, using the Karlsson's Gold Vodka and the Grand Marnier.

What I found was a good strong drink on the bit of the tart side. I gave the drink to momma-san who also found that it was strong but it didn't stop her her from asking for a second (and her last). She has a two drink maximum. This cocktail would be preferred by those with a penchant for tartness. Let's fast forward to tonight.

I made the Cosmopolitan as per Cook's recipe and this is the Cosmo that I (and possibly Momma-San) are used to drinking. The sweeter taste of the Cointreau is balanced with the Absolute Citron. I made it with Rose's lime instead of fresh lime for the sake of time and ease. I guess I'll have to make it with fresh lime at home to see what difference there is using the line and the Rose's.

So which one would momma-San prefer. Probably the Cook version. It does seem like its the official "Sex and the City" version. And if any of you know Momma-San, she loves her Sex in the City. As for me, I'm cool with both versions. I like the sweeter Cook version and the tarter DeGroff version. I guess it would be a decision based on mood for me to order either one.

For recognition sake, I think the Cook version works at the bar. That is the one that both Pete and Alice say they make regularly.

Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Dragon's Blood...The Combination

Last week in my post Dragon's Blood...The Beginning I spoke about how I was putting together a concoction with a Jalapeño infused vodka. After four days of infusion, the vodka started to take on a light green hue from the peppers and smelled quite spicy. Here is a picture of what it looked like.

Now I decided to put the whole drink together. I used a base of tomato juice, orange juice and fresh lime juice. Here is the recipe I started with:

Dragon's Blood (Beginning)
2 cups of Jalapeño Infused Vodka
2 cups of Tomato Juice
2 cups of Orange Juice
1 Fresh Squeezed Lime

I found that the Jalapeno flavor was hidden a little bit by the juices. So to ramp up the spice factor (hell, Dragon's Blood should have a bit of a kick, no?) by adding to teaspoons of White Pepper Powder, .5oz of olive juice and 8oz. of tomato juice to thick it up a bit. Here is the final recipe:

Dragon's Blood (Final)
2 cups of Jalapeño Infused Vodka
2.5 cups of Tomato Juice
2 cups of Orange Juice
1 Fresh Squeezed Lime
2 tsp of White Pepper Powder
.5 oz of Olive juice

I served myself some over ice with a lemon and lime wedge squeezed over the ice and here is what I came up with. How did it taste? I would characterize it as a milder version of a Bloody Mary. At the first taste the drink was smooth then my taste buds started lighting up as an old telephone switchboard would during an emergency. I felt a kick near the back of my tongue on both sides, in the back of my throat and on the tip of my tongue. Not that it was unpleasant. Not in the least. I quite enjoyed the drink. Hopefully Chuck and his cohorts will like it. I'll try to get a statement from him next week when he gets back from his excursion.

Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Sisco's Apple Infused Vodka in an Apple Martini

Where last week I made a OO7 Sisco Style out of my Orange infused vodka, today is the Apple's turn. I strained this vodka at the same time I strained the orange one but decided to leave it sitting in the dark cabinet for a week. I did so since I required a certain ingredient to make what I wanted to make: An Apple Martini. I found a simple recipe on the Drinks Maker website. Here's the recipe:

Apple Martini
1 part Absolut® vodka
1 part DeKuyper® Sour Apple Pucker schnapps
1 part apple juice


Pour all ingredients into a shaker. Shake well and strain into a Martini glass.

Since I have an apple flavored vodka, I'm going to play around with the measurements and not use the apple juice. The vodka took on a nice golden color very similar to the color of apple juice. Since I used red apples instead of using Granny Smith green apples, I don't think that the vodka will be as tart as if I used the Grannies. So here is the recipe I came up with for mine:

2 oz. Apple Vodka
1.5 oz. Sour Apple Liqueur

How does it look? Well take a gander at this beauty to the right. I actually picked up these Martini glasses at KMart ($17.99 for a box of 6) and I have to say I like the heft that the glass has. Its not dainty in the least. The only thing missing is a Maraschino cherry sitting at the bottom of the glass. Taste? I like the way it tastes. The apple vodka's taste underlies the tarter sour apple liqueur. They do play nicely together. It has a nice light green hue to it.

I'm not sure how an apple flavored vodka like the Absolute Orient Apple would taste in this drink, but I do have to say that my two first attempts at infusing a Vodka has been more than a pleasant surprise. But to be honest, I won't use the New Amsterdam vodka again for infusing. It is way too harsh. I'm currently using the rest of it with some Blackberries. I got a few bottles of good old Alexis Vodka, its what we use on the well at work.

Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla



Tuesday, May 22, 2012

New York City Cocktails Part I: The Manhattan

I've been working on this blog now for the better part of a month chronicling my experience as a bartender. This coming weekend is my one year anniversary as a bartender and I would like to thank everyone who has been supportive of my attempts to learn how to properly make a drink. From my co-workers who have been patient with my constant questions, to my superiors who have been patient with my mistakes to my friends and patrons who have been willing to help me out with tasting cocktails, suggestions for future drinks and most importantly, putting cash in my tip bucket. Thank you all for everything. I greatly appreciate it. On that note, this is something that happened to me last night.

The big boss came in last night on his way to having dinner and one of our regulars offered to buy him a drink and he decided on a specific type of Manhattan. The Manhattan is one of the oldest cocktails and is considered to be a classic cocktail on par with the Old Fashioned and the Martini. According to Mr. Boston's Official Bartender's Guide 75th Anniversary Edition:
The Manhattan appears to have come onto the scene about 1882, at which time it was mentioned that a cocktail made from just whiskey, sweet vermouth and butters was coming into vogue. It went by not only "Manhattan" but also "Turf Club Cocktail" and "Jockey Club Cocktail". The "Manhattan" moniker almost certainly comes from the Manhattan Club of New York, with other clubs eager to have their names attached to the drink as well.

According to King's Handbook of New York City 1892 Edition:
The Manhattan Club, at the northwest corner of Fifth Avenue and 34th Street was organized in 1865, and reorganized in 1877. The home of the club was located at the southwest corner of Fifth Avenue and 15th Street until 1891, when it purchased the white marble mansion built by A.T. Stewart. The Manhattan has one of the largest, most commodious and most beautiful club-houses in the world, and is celebrated moreover for its delicious cuisine.

Here is the recipe as Mr. Boston's list for today's palates:
The Manhattan Cocktail
2 oz. Rye Whiskey
.5 oz. Sweet Vermouth
1 dash Angostura Bitters
Garnish: Maraschino Cherry, preferably Italian

Stir with ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with cherry.
The drink is now commonly made with Bourbon Post-Prohibition though Rye Whiskey is making a comeback within bartending circles.

So the big boss asked for his Manhattan to be made with Rye Whiskey, Old Overholt specifically, not too sweet in an extra chilled cocktail glass. Apparently I made it to his specifications and to his taste buds' satisfaction. Whew, I passed the test. LOL.

In honor of my achievement, I decided to make myself a Manhattan. Now the only thing where I messed up in making mine was that I shook it instead of stirring causing the drink to have some foam along the top where it the drink is supposed to be clear. Forgive me for my noob caused boo-boo. Well, here it is. My Manhattan:


How did I like it? I prefer a Manhattan with Rye Whiskey as opposed to Bourbon. I've tasted a Maker's Mark Manhattan in the past and found it too harsh and bitter. I found the Old Overholt Rye Whiskey Manhattan to be smooth and not harsh in the least. I add a touch of the cherry liquid to the ingredients for an extra bit of flavor. This cocktail really is a thing of beauty. By just looking at its simplicity and elegance, its no wonder how this cocktail has been able to stand the test of time.

On a bit of trivia, apparently Old Overholt was the preferred Rye Whiskey of legendary gunslinger Doc Holliday. Click here to watch a video Doc Holliday Museum tour located in Griffin, Georgia which has an old bottle of Old Overholt in a display case.

On a side note, since I'm a born and raised New Yorker, I will be profiling the other four cocktails that are named after the five boroughs that make up the Greater City of New York. Next will be the borough where I currently reside: The Bronx.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

For Further Reading:
- Click Here to access American Whiskey: Messin' 'Round The Old Mawn-Nonga-Heelah
Button up your Overholt, when the wind blows free... for a history of the Overholt Family

Grand Marnier St. Tropez Summer Drink

During the Rangers vs. Devils game last night, I noticed an animated commercial come on the screen for Grand Marnier. In it, the people are laying out on a beach in St. Tropez, France. As a woman in a bathing suit walks by (very Girl from Ipanema-ish), she gives out what I I believe is an amazing and simple drink for the summer containing Grand Marnier. Now excuse me if I get it wrong. It was small TV spot and I saw it out of the corner of my eye and quickly jotted down the recipe as I heard it off of the audio. I have yet to find the commercial online or on Youtube. I'll post the video when I come across it. Well, here is the recipe for the drink:

The Grand Tropez
1.5 oz. Grand Marnier
1 Squeeze of a Lemon Wedge
Soda Water

Over a glass with filled with ice, squeeze a lemon. Pour the Grand Marnier and fill with Soda Water. Stir gently.

For those of you who don't know, according to the Grand Marnier website:
Is a delicate blend of fine cognacs, distilled essence of wild tropical oranges carefully combined according to a secret recipe and then slowly aged in French oak casks.

Each year, we choose the finest eaux-de-vie (clear and colorless fruit brandy), made exclusively with Ugni Blanc grapes, from the Cognac region's premier growing districts. These eaux-de-vie have undergone two distinct distillations, using traditional copper pot stills.

We only use one kind of orange to create the orange essence: an exotic, wild variety called Citrus bigaradia. Mainly handpicked at the Marnier-Lapostolle plantation in the Caribbean, the oranges are cut into quarters while still green and therefore at their aromatic peak. The pulp is removed and the peels are left to dry in the tropical sun.
Upon arrival at the family distillery in Neauphle-le-Château - established in 1827 - the dried orange peels are macerated in neutral alcohol. This flavoured alcohol is then carefully distilled to produce an aromatic concentrate: essence of Citrus bigaradia.

The cognac and essence of wild tropical oranges are carefully blended with other components, according to a secret recipe transmitted from father to son for generations , and is then slowly aged in French oak casks.

This drink might just become my summer favorite. Where Grand Marnier by itself is a bit thick and sweet, the combination of the lemon juice and the soda water help to balance out the sweetness. Making it very light and bubbly. Very mild, easy on the palate and super easy to make. The summer is shaping up to be quite the cocktail filled season.


Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

UPDATE 05-25-2012
I finally saw the commercial and the actual name of the drink is the Grand Tropez Cocktail.

Monday, May 21, 2012

La Margarita Azul

I made this drink during the calm right before the storm Sunday night. I have to give you guys full disclosure here. I am not much of a Margarita drinker. Its just not a cocktail that I have been really interested in drinking. I've had a few Margaritas, but its not my drink of choice. But this one here seemed to pique my interest. Like the Coupe de Ville beer cocktail from my previous post, it was quite easy to make and very refreshing. Here is the recipe as found in the Mr. Boston's Official Bartender's Guide 75th Anniversary Edition:
Blue Margarita
1.5 oz. Tequila Blanco
.5 oz. Blue Curaçao
1 oz. Fresh Lime Juice

Rim glass with salt and fill with ice. Shake ingredients with ice and strain into prepared glass.

I used El Espolón tequila blanco rather than well blanco tequila. What I noticed immediately from you standard Margarita was the color of the cocktail. Instead of pale yellow to mild orange normally seen with a Margarita, this drink was electric blue. The Blue Curaçao was used to replace Triple Sec which is usually used in Margaritas.

What I didn't know was that Blue Curaçao is a liqueur flavored with the dried peel of the laraha citrus fruit. The Spanish brought the sweet Valencia orange with them to grow on the island of Curaçao after arriving on the island in 1499. According to the Curaçao of Curaçao website, this is what happened next:
The different climate and soil conditions however changed this juicy fruit to a kind of bitter, almost inedible produce. In short the project was forgotten and the "misfits" of the once proud "Valencia" oranges grew wild and abandoned, not even touched by our infamous goats. It was not till decades later (the exact date is lost in history) that someone discovered that the peels of this orange, thoroughly dried by the sun, contained an etheric oil with an extraordinary pleasing fragrance.

Somehow, after experimenting with the oils of the Laraha oranges, a recipe came to the Senior family who further experimented with various exotic spices until they were sure to have found a unique liqueur which, with a kind of chauvinistic enthusiasm, was called Curacao Liqueur.

By this time, the stepchild of the Valencia orange had received its own botanical name: "Citrus Aurantium Currassuviensis", meaning "Golden Orange of Curaçao". In the local tongue however the orange was simply named "Laraha".

So now that we have the history lesson out of the way, the drink was as I expected it to be. It was flavorful which I would attribute to the usage of El Espolón and the fresh lime juice rather than well tequila and rose's lime juice. Since I tend to limit the amount of salt I consume in my diet, the rimmed glass of salt was a bit too much for me. But then again, someone who doesn't have the issues with salt would probably enjoy it. I'm not sure if I would personally have one again but I would be willing to make one for someone who wants something different from the regular Margarita.

Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

The Coupe de Ville Beer Cocktail

I came across this recipe at random while online yesterday on Chow.com. The Coupe de Ville seemed simple enough to make though the recipe called for six times the ingredients since it was to be made for a tailgate. I decided to scale it down for one person. Since it was Sunday and somewhat quiet at the bar I decided to do a little experimentation. I had Los Angelina native Dawn sitting at the bar so who better to taste test the drink for me. Here is the scaled down version of the recipe

Coupe de Ville
1oz. añejo tequila, chilled
1oz. freshly squeezed lime juice (from about 4 medium limes), chilled
1oz. freshly squeezed orange juice (from about 2 medium oranges), chilled
.5 ounces orange liqueur, such as Grand Marnier, chilled
1 12oz bottle of light Mexican beer, such as Dos Equis or Tecate, chilled

INSTRUCTIONS
Place all of the ingredients except the beer in a ice filled glass and stir to combine. Transfer to a chilled glass. Add the beer, stir gently to combine.
The cocktail was very easy to make. For the tequila, I used Sauza Commemorative Añejo and for the beer I used Corona (since it's the only Mexican beer we carry at the bar). For simplicity sake, I used bottles orange juice. I squeezed the lime juice myself.

The drink was quite smooth and a little "fizzy" from the beer. I like how the citrus plays off both the tequila and the beer in the drink. Giving you a little sweet, a little sour, a little tart all in one. It is also a pretty looking drink, especially in the Chimay goblet that I made it in.

Dawn made a few suggestions for the drink. She recommended that a little spicy aspect be added to it and possibly a rimming of the goblet with salt. And she said she would have preferred it with Pacifico beer over the Corona.

Why is it called a Coupe de Ville? Beats me. Maybe it invokes the images of those lowrider Coupe de Ville Cadillac automobiles that are often seen in movies and in car shows. Anyone know why?

Until then Happy Drinking,
FH

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Cream Soda

For today I decided to go back to basics. Since my nom de plume is Sisco Vanilla, I decided to make myself an after work cocktail containing my preferred shooting spirit: Stoli Vanilla.

To keep it simple, I decided to mix it with Ginger Ale to make a drink with the flavor of a Cream Soda. Now it's not as thick, rich and dark as let's say an A&W Cream Soda but the taste of this drink comes close. Here's the recipe:

The Cream Soda
1oz. Stoli Vanilla
2oz. Ginger Ale


Stir ingredients gently together in a chilled cocktail glass with a small amount of crushed ice, and serve.

Well, I didn't feel like dirtying multiple glassware so I made it in a regular glass. The drink really does taste like a lighter version of a Cream Soda though I have to admit I wish I had some Vanilla Ice cream in it to make it an alcoholic Ice Cream Soda. To wish for the good old days of the luncheonette cream sodas and egg floats of yore. Ay-yay-yay, sometimes modernization sucks.


Oh well, enough of the reminiscing. Enjoy your drinks folks, its last call. Time to take your butts home.

Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

For Further Reading
- Click Here for a recipe that makes a "Cream Soda" using Guinness, Club Soda, Ginger and Vanilla Liquers called a Guinness Cream Soda from Chow.com


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Summer in a Glass

I continually try to write down recipes I come across in my trusty little book as I come across them. One such recipe that I thought would be awesome this upcoming Spring and Summer is a vodka based drink called the Citronella Cooler. Here is the recipe I found for it in Mr. Boston's Official Bartender's Guide 75th Anniversary Edition:

Citronella Cooler
1oz. Citrus-flavored Vodka
1 Dash Fresh lime juice
2oz. Lemonade
1oz. Cranberry Juice
Garnish: Lime Wedge

Stir in Collins glass. Add ice and stir again. Squeeze and add lime.

As John so eloquently and accurately describe the drink: It's Like Summer In A Glass. The drink was really light and tasty. Something that I could see myself drinking at a backyard BBQ or on a veranda somewhere down South sitting in a rocking chair. It really isn't a drink that is overpowered by the Absolute Citron that I used. So if someone wants a drink that's going to feel like a mule kicked them. This isn't it. If its for serving as a cocktail at a bar or lounge, you might want to raise the amount of Vodka (as some patrons might complain that it is too weak). But if you want a simple and flavorful drink that you can enjoy this Spring and Summer at various events, this is it.

Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Friday, May 18, 2012

Thursday Tasting 5/17 Crown Royal

The spirit for today's Thursday tasting is Canadian Whiskey Crown Royal. I asked Pete to describe to me where Crown Royal compares to other Canadian Whiskeys. He said that it is a smoother version of Seagram's 7, Seagram's VO and Canadian Club. Since I don't have a frame of reference, I'm just going to take his word for it. The only experience I have with Crown Royal is when I've use it to make a Washington Apple shot or mixed it in a Crown Royal and coke.

Crown Royal was created in 1939 to celebrate the visit of the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth of England to Canada. The visit was the first time a ruling British monarch visited North America. Crown Royal is a blended rye whiskey. According to the article A Regal Tradition: The Story of Crown Royal on the City of Waterloo, Ontario Canada website:
The production of Crown Royal required the skilful combination of a selection of aged rye whiskies. Due to its flavour complexity, it was one of the Seagram Company's most difficult whiskies to blend, and Master Blenders had to work to a standard that ensured uniformity and continuity of flavour that was distinctly Crown Royal.

In blending Crown Royal, different types of whiskies of various flavours and characteristics were mixed together to such a degree that no one flavour component was identifiable. Originally, up to forty different whiskies were used in the blending formula for Crown Royal with the youngest whisky being ten years old. The formula for Crown Royal was altered in 1950, changing the oldest whisky from a thirty-five year old to a thirty-year old rye whisky and the youngest from a ten to a nine-year old. Shortly thereafter, information on the age of the whiskies contained in Crown Royal was removed from the back bottle label, only to briefly reappear from 1970-1976 to announce that the youngest whisky had reverted back to a ten-year old. Rising inventory costs eventually led to the further reduction in the age of the oldest whisky used and Crown Royal began to be marketed as a ten-year old whisky.

According to Seagram Master Blenders, the blending formula for Crown Royal created a whisky that had depth of flavour, a rich texture and a balanced weight.

But what about the distinctive purple bag the Crown Royal is packed in. How did that come to be. According to the The Society of the Crown website:
(For the visit of the British Monarchs to Canada in 1939) Seagram's Chairman Samuel Bronfman developed a unique whisky of refined smoothness for the occasion. But he needed something to present this crown jewel in. Something regal. Something luxurious. It was decided this special whisky would be housed in a velvet bag of purple — since ancient times the color reserved for royalty — with drawstrings of gold.

So knowing how it came to be, how its made, and how it's dressed next the question is: What does it taste like. According to the Crown Royal website:
Being a blended whiskey, fifty distinct and full-bodied whiskies mature in white oak barrels. Crown Royal has a taste profile defined by smoothness, enhanced by a rich, lingering finish.
Let's see if that statement is accurate.

As with the prior tastings, I have a few fingers worth of the Crown Royal whiskey with two or three rocks to give it a little chill and a glass of water on the side. The whiskey smells sweet with a very faint smoky aroma to it. At first sip, I find that it is very smooth though after swishing it around in my mouth, I find that the insides of my lips feel a bit tingly then numb. My mouth actually feels very fresh, as if I was breathing in air after having a few mints in my mouth. Now mind you, I'm not saying that the whiskey leaves a minty taste in my mouth, it just leaves a similar sensation. I also feel that it has a slight caramel-like taste to it. I try to see if I can notice any other flavor notes but nothing else comes to mind. Crown Royal is smooth as it heads down my throat and settles warmly in my stomach.

I have to say that I like it. I conpletely agree with the statement made on the company website. I think I would especially like it on a cold winter's night sitting around a roaring fire among friends. Yeah, that sounds real nice.

Oh, and since I referenced the Crown Royal Washington Apple way up there in the beginning, here is the recipe for it:
Washington Apple
1 5oz. Crown Royal
.5oz Apple Schnapps
2-3 oz.Cranberry Juice


Combine in a shaker, shake it up and pour over ice. Garnish with an apple slice.
Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Dragon's Blood...The Beginning

My friend Chuck "DragonBlack" has a Memorial Day custom where he and a few friends go away to a cabin in the woods for a weekend of movies, video games and unwinding. So about a month or so ago he was mentioning how he would like to take something to drink for the camping trip that would resemble his nom de plume. I started thinking to myself, what would "Dragon's Blood" resemble in the form of a drink.

I figured it had to be red and have a bit of a kick to it. I didn't want it to be a drink resembling a Bloody Mary. I mean who really wants to shoot a Bloody Mary shot. I would imagine that it would be too thick. I wanted it to be something light and with a hint of sweetness to it to balance out the spice the kick would give. So I whipped up something really quick containing Vodka, Hot Sauce, Tomato Juice, Orange Juice and freshly squeezed Lime Juice. I don't have any specific measurements since I was just winging it. But that initial shot worked out pretty well, enough so that I wanted to do something a bit more.

Since I am feeling confident in my fledgling infusing skills, I decided to infuse my own spicy vodka. Using some of the remaining New Amsterdam Vodka and two green jalapeño peppers I came up with the following. To avoid making it too spicy, I cleaned out the seeds. Half a day in and the aroma of the peppers is noticable in the vodka. I'll let it sit for about two days or so and see how it tastes like. I'll report back on it then.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

OO7 Sisco Style

One of the most favorite drinks for Pete to make at the Bleecker Street Bar for those who want a mild mixed drink is the OO7. Here's the recipe for the drink.
OO7
2 oz. Vodka, orange
7-up
Orange Juice

Mixing Instructions
Fill highball glass with ice. Add vodka, then fill the glass 3/4 full with 7-up. Top with orange juice, stir slightly, and serve immediately.
Since I had that New Amsterdam vodka infusing with oranges since last week, I decided that this was a good enough drink to try it out in. I decided to take a bit of a different track with this drink.

I used two of the oranges that my dad brought over in the mason jar with the vodka. I decided to juice the remaining oranges (the kids were curious so they helped with the juicing) and put the juice in a large ziploc bag and froze it by laying it flat in the freezer. After a few days, I broke it apart in the bag giving me uneven pieces (You could also place the juice in an ice rack for uniform sized orange "ice" cubes). This is what I was left with:


But what about the orange flavored infused vodka you may ask? Ah yes, the vodka.

Well, after a week of infusing the vodka, I have to say that it most definitely has taken on the characteristics of the oranges. As you can see on the picture on the left, the vodka has taken on a yellow-orange hue and it smells more of oranges than the somewhat antiseptic smell of the New Amsterdam Vodka. Its funny how some companies use tag lines like "A Taste So Smooth You Can Drink It Straight" and it really isn't so. I would think that chilling the vodka would help to take the edginess off of it to be able to drink it straight.

Since there is no ice in the drink I'm going to make to take the edge off of the orange vodka, I'm going to chill the orange vodka before pouring it into the glass with the frozen orange juice as "ice". Then top it off with the 7-up.

Ok folks, here is the moment of truth. This is what my concoction looks like:


But how does it taste???? Surprisingly it's a quite refreshing and tasty cocktail. For a second opinion, Momma-San said she preferred this drink to the Limoncello Prosecco Cooler with Fruit Cubes. I guess the idea of chilling the alcohol before serving to take the edge off is quite accurate. The orange "ice" cube slowly melt further adding flavor to the drink while I slowly drank it. Plus small little pieces of orange pulp that got through the juicing would come apart from the frozen pieces of the orange juice adding an extra layer of texture to the drink.

All in all, I would say that in this case the OO7 Sisco Style is a success.

Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Santo Libre a-la Brugal

I came across an article the other day on the Drink Spirits blog entitled Brugal Rum - The Spirit of the Dominican Republic. It is an interesting article on the history and operations of the number one selling rum in the Dominican Republic. The author talks about a few ways that Brugal (and rums in general) are consumed. They mention Brugal over ice, with coke in the traditional Cuba Libre and with Seven-up (7-up) as a Santo Libre.

Ok, now as someone who drinks Brugal (and other rums), I was surprised to hear of the name Santo Libre. I was wondering where the name Santo Libre came from. No, I don't believe that the Santo Libre is named after the Mexican Luchador and movie star El Santo, though it would be an interesting origin for the drink. I've seen it written with both the "A" and the "O" at the end but to be honest the Santo Libre is what I've seen most commonly. So for the basis of this post I'll refer to it as a Santo Libre.

I would assume that its a variation of the rum and coke drink which is also known as a Cuba Libre. In the article Cuba Libre – Not just a Cocktail but a Story of Bacardi, Coca Cola and Cuba from the Creative Culinary website Rumor has it that it was first ordered by Captain Russell of the United States Army Signal Corps stationed in Cuba after the Spanish American War (the United States occupied Cuba until 1902) who toasted "Por Cuba Libre". That drink contained Bacardi and Coca Cola since Bacardi was the premier rum at the time.

So it would stand to reason that the Santo Libre would be a variation of that drink since the Capital of the Dominican Republic was and is Santo Domingo (officially Santo Domingo de Guzman). Here is a bit of Historical trivia for you gals and guys. From 1930-1961 the city was named Cuidad Trujillo after dictator El Generalissimo Rafael Leonidas Trujillo Molina. It was changed back to Santo Domingo after he was assassinated in 1961. Enough of that, back to the drink.

The version known as The Santo Libre contains two of the three ingredients of the Cuba Libre with the exception of the soda. The Coca Cola is substituted for Seven-Up in a Santo Libre. Another reason why I believe the "Santo" is a variation of the "Cuba" is that Coca Cola predates Seven-Up by 43 years. Coca Cola was invented in 1886 while Seven-Up was invented in 1929. Now this is not to say that there wasn't a lemon-lime soda before Seven-Up. To be honest I really don't know but I'm going on the dates for the specific brands. So forgive me if I'm wrong on this end. I sent a tweet to the official Brugal Rum USA twitter account for more information and clarification. I asked if they knew what the origin was for the name Santo Libre aside from it being a Dominican version of the Cuba Libre. They responded that all they knew about it was that it was a variation of the Cuba Libre. Well there you go.

Regardless of where the name came from, and who made it really doesn't matter. Its time to make the drink. The Brugal bottles can be recognized anywhere due to their distinctive yellow netting which envelops each and every bottle. Unless you're at a liquor store that carries an extensive rum selection or you're in a liquor store that is located in a Latino neighborhood, you might have some difficulty finding Brugal. Lucky for me, my dad goes back and forth to the Dominican and is nice enough to bring me back a bottle of Brugal Extra Viejo of which I have a couple sitting in the freezer nice and cold.

The drink is simple to make. Here's the recipe:
Santo Libre
2 oz. of Brugal Anejo or Extra Viejo
1/2 oz. of lime juice (optional)
7-Up

Pour lime juice into a highball glass over ice cubes. Add rum, fill with 7-Up, stir and serve. Garnish with lime.

See, I told you it was simple. But how does it taste?

It's very very refreshing drink, I love how the fresh lime plays off of the extra Añejo rum and the 7-up. Since it has 7-up, it doesn't feel as heavy as it would if it contained Coca Cola. I can see myself having a few of these on a beach down in South Beach or the Caribbean...if I ever took a vacation. I guess having a few while watching Steven Seagal whip some butt as Niko in Above the Law will do for now.


Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla




Tuesday, May 15, 2012

El Presidente...and not the one in the Green Bottle

I'm a sucker for a good historical back-story. While going through the 75th Anniversary edition of the Mr. Boston: Official Bartender's Guide I found one such drink to satisfy the appetite for a back-story. Too bad the drink itself did not do the same for my thirst. The name of the drink is the El Presidente Cocktail No. 1.

As the story goes, President Calvin Coolidge Jr. (July 4, 1872 – January 5, 1933) the 30th President of the United States (from 1923–1929) visited the island of Cuba in January 1928 for the Pan American Conference. At some point President Coolidge met with Gerardo Machado (September 28, 1871 – March 29, 1939) who was the Cuban President (from 1925-1933). At said meeting, Presidente Machado had a cocktail made for President Coolidge. Since it was a drink being made for a President on the recommendation of his peer, it would stand to reason that the drink would be called El Presidente. The drink was originally made for then President Aurelio Mario Gabriel Francisco García Menocal y Deop (December 17, 1866 – September 7, 1941) aka Carmen Menocal (President from 1913 to 1921) at La Vista Alegre in city of Havana in 1920. Now, there's nothing odd about that. Right? Well herein lies the rub.

Look at the year I mention above: 1928. For those of you who aren't historically inclined, the United States was in the middle of a little mess of a thing called The National Prohibition Act aka the Volstead Act aka Prohibition. So imagine the bit of a pickle that President Coolidge found himself in when he's the head of state of a country that has prohibited the production and consumption of Alcoholic beverages and is being offered a cocktail. I would assume that if there were reporters at hand and they saw President Coolidge enjoying a cocktail while telling his constituents that it was a crime for them to do so it would have been a messy situation for him to be in. Understandably so, President Coolidge respectfully declined the drink.

****AUTHOR'S NOTE: Now this retelling by me will be different from other versions you might find online. I re-wrote it since based on the dates that President Coolidge visited Cuba, Menocal wasn't President, Machado was.

Now that we have the story out of the way, here is the recipe listed in Mr. Boston's:

El Presidente Cocktail No. 1
1 1/2oz. of Light Rum
3/4 oz. of fresh lime juice
1 tsp. of Pineapple juice
1 tsp. of Grenadine

Shake with ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass.

So I made it as stated. It was tart from the fresh lime and had a pink/red hue due to the grenadine. I'm not sure if those without a preference for a tart tasting cocktail will like it. In addition, the measurements left for a half full cocktail glass.

The second cocktail was made with an upscaling of the ingredients to meet the current standards. I decided to take a chance and use the Rose's Lime Juice rather than squeezing the fresh limes. What a mistake that was. The flavor was totally off. Not palatable in the least. Even when I added more pineapple juice it was not drinkable.

The third cocktail was made with a whole lime squeezed. Where the first one was tart and light, this one was just oppressive in its tartness. I would describe it as being punched in the mouth by a lime. I guess my amounts were off.

I also found other versions of El Presidente Cocktail. One is from The Bowery website. Here is their recipe:

El Presidente
Havana Club (Rum?)
Curaçao
dry vermouth
grenadine.

Shaken and served in a coupette.

The other one comes from the Cocktalia website. Here is their recipe:

El Presidente
1 1/2 ounce Denizen Rum
3/4 ounce bianco or blanc vermouth
1/2 ounce orange curaçao
1 barspoon BG Reynolds Hibiscus Grenadine
1 dash orange bitters

This particular recipe was suggested by the team at Denizen Rum, who also supplied me with the bottle seen above, and it was further slightly modified by my use of BG Reynolds Hibiscus Grenadine instead of regular. An extremely minor change, that, only done because that’s the grenadine I happen to have on hand (and really, who needs more than one bottle at a time?).

I tried versions of this cocktail using both bianco vermouth and the dry vermouth found in the original recipe (both Dolin). When using dry vermouth, the drink benefits from increasing the amount of rum by 1/4 ounce or so, but it works well either way.
PHOTO CREDIT: From the Cocktalia website

As you can tell the recipe is different from the one in the book. Instead of lime being the citrus flavor in use, it is orange in the form of the orange curaçao and the orange bitters in the Cocktalia version.

I would hate to give up on this cocktail since it really is a pretty cocktail to serve. Even though the other versions would seem to be much more palatable, I think the version that is in the book can actually work. I guess I'll have to continue playing around with it until I get it just right. Any suggestions?

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

What The Heck is a Tposh aka 'Ti Punch

Allow me to set the scene. I just got on duty and replaced Lady Alice behind the bar. I have Jaclyn ordering drinks for the dart league players. I have the channels set to Game One of the Devils vs. Rangers Eastern Conference Finals with blaring audio. People look like hockey players bumping and crashing into each other trying to find their best seats at the bar. And in all that chaos is a pretty woman who is going to make the most chaos for me in the early hours of my shift. I approach her and ask her what she wants. She asks for a cocktail list in her cute French accent. Before I go on, allow me to take a quick tangent.

If you know it or not, The Bleecker Street Bar can be considered to be your basic beer and shot bar. Its not to say that cocktails can't and won't be made. Far from it. But there are certain ingredients and spirits that are found in certain cocktails that we don't stock. So in certain cases it makes it difficult to make a proper cocktail. For example, a woman came in last night and asked for a Moscow Mule. We don't carry any Ginger beer so I couldn't make it for her, Plus we don't look like a cocktail bar. I feel that sometimes people need to realize where they are when they ask for a drink. What the hell do I know, maybe cocktail bars in France look just like the Bleecker Street Bar. Anyway, back to the story at hand.

So I tell her that we don't have a list but I can make her a cocktail of her choice (depending as I stated above if I have the proper ingredients). So she asked for two cocktails: A Cosmo and one that I couldn't understand. The Cosmo is no sweat but I finally was able to understand the other one as being a Tposh (sic) and that it consisted of Rum, Sugar and Limes. On a slower night I would go online and check out how to make this drink, but with the bar being busy with the Devils vs. Rangers game I couldn't justify stopping to research a drink. So I asked her how to make it. Here is how she described the process:

Rum
Sugar
Lime

Muddle the Lime. Add Sugar and Remuddle. Add the rum and ice. Shake and pour in a glass.
Simple enough, right? But definitely time consuming. Apparently, I didn't make it sweet enough since the person who I made it for wanted more sugar. My teeth started to hurt thinking of how much sugar that drink had. I made about 5 of them over the course of the night. At one point the woman asked me to make it stronger. Not sure how stronger I could make it without it being a double with no ice. Its all booze with the exception of the water melted from the ice to chill the drink. Fast forward to this afternoon and the historian, researcher and all around nosy guy that I am is thinking where the hell did that drink come from. Let's take a trip to the Caribbean for that answer.

According to Matt Robold in his article 'Ti Punch from the Rumdood blogsite, the Ti Punch is the national drink of the Caribbean island of Martinique in the French Caribbean. The name comes from an abbreviated version of "petite punch" and literally means "small punch". Here is his listed recipe for the drink:

‘Ti Punch
2 oz Rhum Agricole
.25 oz Lime Juice
1 tsp cane syrup

Mix all ingredients in a glass with ice (1 or 2 cubes) and either stir or swizzle with a bois lele (aka Swizzle Stick)

‘Ti Punch (pronounced “tee paunch” or with the anglicized “tee punch” if you must) is a simple drink. The recipe I’ve provided here is not the official recipe for Ti’ Punch. That’s because there is no official recipe. The drink is casual and laid-back and supposed to be tailored to the taste of the drinker. There are no rules set in stone. A combination of rum, sugar, and lime juice, the ‘Ti Punch largely follows the blueprint of the quintessential cane spirit cocktail. PICTURE CREDIT: From the Rumdood website.

Matt also has a few variations on the recipe in terms of ingredients listed on his post and some of the comments have suggestions on how to make it, so I suggest you go check it out.

I also found an article that was published on the Esquire website called the Ti'Punch. Here is what they list as the recipe:
Ti'Punch
Ingredients
2 ounces Rhum Agricole
lime(s)
cane syrup

Glass Type: old-fashioned glass

Instructions
Mix rhum agricole,* a good squeeze of lime,** and cane syrup to taste*** in an Old-Fashioned glass or smallish tumbler. Stir until the syrup is dissolved and add 1 or 2 ice cubes, if you're going to sip it.

Cane syrup, familiar to residents of the Caribbean or Deep South, can be hard to find elsewhere; about the only thing we can suggest is to try boiling up a cup of unrefined sugar -- that "Sugar in the Raw" stuff -- with 1/2 cup water. Let us know. (By the way -- Lyle's Golden Syrup, the canned stuff prized by bakers and British expats? Cane syrup.)

* White rum is traditional, but it can be on the nasty side. As profligate Americans, we use the dark, aged stuff in ours; among the brands one comes across Stateside are Neisson, La Favorite, Clement, Saint-James, J. Bally, and Kaniche.

** Roll the lime firmly on a hard surface, cut it in two, and squeeze one of the halves over the glass.

*** Anything from a teaspoon to a tablespoon; the traditional proportion is 3 to 4 parts rum to 1 part syrup, but we find this too sweet.
PICTURE CREDIT: From the Esquire website.

I don't think that I'll be having one of these anytime soon. Way too sweet for my blood. Maybe I can make it with granulated Splenda. Hmmmm....But hey, if I'm ever in the French Caribbean who knows. When in Martinique...


Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Monday, May 14, 2012

Bacardi 8 and Bacardi Select

I had an impromptu tasting on this past Mothers Day Sunday. I decided to take Momma-San out to brunch after having a Limoncello and Prosecco cocktail at home (Of which you can read about here). So after debating on where to go we ended up at Willie's Steakhouse on Westchester Avenue in The Bronx. While deciding of what to order to eat, I decided to order a Bacardi 8 on the rocks.

I've never had a taste of the Bacardi 8 before so I decide to have it on the rocks. I loved it. Loved it so much I ordered a second one. This time in a mini-snifter with a couple of rocks. According to the Bacardi website:
BACARDI® 8 is aged for more than eight years in carefully selected oak barrels. After ageing it is blended to perfection featuring notes of prunes, apricots, nutmeg and vanilla over a clean woody background of oak. Its taste is smooth, rich and very full with a long and expansive finish.

The description was very much accurate with what I smelled and tasted. The color of the liquid is of an amber or caramel consistency. It smells utterly amazing. It really hits all of the favorable aroma notes. Un Verano En Nueva York by El Gran Combo playing in the background goes well perfectly with this drink. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Since I was in the festive mood, I decided to switch it up a bit. After a trip to the bar to see what other selections were available, I saw old reliable sitting on the shelf: Bacardi Select aka Bacardi Black.

Oh how I've missed missed you Bacardi Select the spirit formerly known as Bacardi Black. According to the Robert Burr, The National Rum Examiner for the Examiner.com in his article Bacardi Select dark rum from Puerto Rico, Bacardi Select is:
Previously labeled Bacardi Black, this deep brown 80 proof rum has rested in American White Oak for at least 4 years. Aromas of vanilla and apricot dominate the nose, along with banana and plum. Flavors of vanilla, molasses, banana and raisin lead to mild spiciness, nuts and wood. The finish is dry, only slightly sweet with a full toasted oak palette, while relatively smooth for a young rum blend.

Though dark in color, the rum exhibits light to medium body. Many enthusiasts have opined that this flavorful rum goes well with Coke. It's popular as a floater on the top of pina coladas, rum runners, zombies and planter's punch cocktails.

I find that it is a darker more richer and flavorful blend than the Eight year Bacardi though it ages for less time. The flavors bounced off of my tongue in a way that a spirit rarely does. The Select brought me back to the old NYC club days of 1995-1997. It is not least bit bitter. It is sweet and pleasurable to both the lips and nose and smooth down the throat. I have a very warm and pleasing feeling in my tummy (yes after four drinks I said tummy). I dare say that the Bacardi Select hits even more notes than the Bacardi 8 does though I have to admit that I am biased since I've enjoyed the Bacardi Select aka Black on numerous occasions. Plus the medium well steak with fried onions and tostones that I am having with my mini-snifter is making for an enjoyable Mothers Day. Imagine if it was Fathers Day. LOL

Hope all of you lively Mothers out there had a Happy Mothers Day as well as to my own Momma and my Momma-San at home. Much Cheers and Love.



Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Update on the Dark and Stormy

According to the Mr. Boston's Official Bartender's Guide 75th Anniversary Edition I made the Dark and Stormy drink incorrectly.

The recipe in the book calls for the Dark 'N Stormy to be made as so:

Ginger Beer
2oz Gosling's dark Rum

Pour ginger beer into an ice-filled old-fashioned glass. FLOAT run on top.
See that's where I messed up. I did not float the run on the Ginger beer. So here is an amended cocktail based on the proper method of making the drink.

Here's what it looked like:


OK? OK!!!!

There you go. Enjoy.

Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla




Limoncello and Prosecco with Fruit Ice Cubes on Mothers Day

In celebration of Mothers Day Momma-San and I had the kids stay with my sister. Though I was on duty Saturday night, Momma-San and I had the whole of Sunday morning to ourselves. How better to celebrate Mothers Day than to have some early afternoon cocktails. So for that purpose, I decided to refer to a recipe that I found online a few days ago on the Creative Culinary website.

The recipe called for a Limoncello and Presecco Cooler with Raspberry Ice Cubes (with a hint of Mint). I'll leave it to you to read but I have to say that the cooler was quite refreshing. I used the Pallini Limoncello and the Trevisiol Prosecco D.O.C. Extra Dry. Momma-san wasn't as keen on it as I was but since she drank it on an empty stomach, it hit her harder than it hit me. I made hers with Raspberries, while I mad mine with Blackberries.

Here are what the cocktails looked like with Momma-San partaking

Happy Mothers Day to all of you lovely Momma-San's out there

Happy Drinking on Your Special Day,
Sisco Vanilla

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Partida Tequila...A Taste Like No Other

Tonight's tasting comes in the form of one of the newest tequilas that we have at the Bleeker Street Bar: the Familia Partida Tequila Reposado.

To be honest, I wasn't sure what the different types/classifications of Tequila meant. I referred to the article Types of Tequila - Classifications? from the Tequila.net website. They were pretty clear in describing the differences between the five most common types of Tequila: Blanco, Gold, Reposado, Añejo, Extra Añejo. I recommend that you read the article.

In researching the Partida brand, I found the following facts:

- The agave fields are located near a 6,000 foot dormant volcano in the Tequila Valley known as El Cerro
- The rich, red soil creates the perfect terroir for maturing the agave plant
- The agave plant takes from 7-10 years to go from shoot to harvest
- Going against old customs of baking the agave in stone ovens,Partida uses state-of-the-art stainless steel ovens
- Slow cooking in these ovens creates a Tequila that is smoother, cleaner with a pure agave taste
- The agave is fermented slowly for about 36-40 hours and twice distilled creating a high quality raw spirit
- The Blanco is filled a bottle a time by hand after distillation
- The Reposado, Añejo and Extra Añejo are allowed to rest and age in American Oak Casks that originally held Jack Daniels Whiskey


Getting the specs out of the way, on to the tasting of the Partida Reposado.

At first sniff this golden colored tequila does not smell like any tequila I have ever smelled. To be perfectly honest, it doesn't smell like a tequila. To the tongue it tastes more like an whisky rather than a tequila. That might be attributed to the fact that Partida tequila is aged for six months in American oak Jack Daniels barrels.

I felt a little tingle near the back of my throat. Actually a warm comforting feeling that I tend to get when I've drank whiskey. The tequila went down nice and smooth with no harshness.

I have to say that compared to other tequilas I've had. This particular brand has to rank among the highest. I might even go as far as to say that it surpasses my favorite tequila: Sauza Tres Generaciones Anejo. One other thing folks, this is not a shooting tequila. This is one you enjoy on the rocks one sip at a time. Savoring each flavor that pops up in the various parts of your mouth. Leave the salt and lime for the amateur tequilas. This one here is a professional.

Here's a recipe for the a Tequila drink with a Partida Reposado (from the Partida website):

YERBA BUENA
2 oz Partida Reposado Tequila
8 to 10 mint sprigs
1/2 oz fresh-squeezed lime juice
1/2 oz Partida Agave Nectar
Ginger Beer

Muddle mint, lime juice and Partida Agave
Nectar in a highball glass.
Add ice to fill. Add Partida Tequila and top
with Ginger Beer. Stir with bar spoon.
Garnish with mint sprig and lime wheel.

RECIPE ADAPTED FROM Donna Scala. BISTRO DON GIOVANNI – NAPA, CALIFORNIA

We also have recent additions to the tequila selection in the form of Herradura Blanco and Espolón Blanco. Both of which I intend to have a taste of in the near future.

Until then Happy Drinking
Sisco Vanilla

For Further Reading
- Click Here to access the article Tequila Reposado from the Spirits Review by Chris Carlsson website
- Click Here to access the article Partida Tequila from the Tequila Source website