Saturday, June 30, 2012

Happy Canada Day!!!

Since I know a bunch of beautiful people who are from the great country of Canada (you know who you are) I've decided to have myself a Canadian cocktail using Crown Royal. As you've read from a prior post, I profiled Crown Royal but before I talk about the drink, I wanted to tell you all what Canada Day is.

According to Canada Day page:
Canada Day is celebrated on July 1st across the country. July 1st marks the anniversary of the formation of the union of the British North America provinces in a federation under the name of Canada - that's the technical explanation, but Canada Day also means fireworks and the year's biggest national party. The Canada Day holiday is akin to the U.S. July 4th celebration but on a more Canadian scale.
Good enough reason to light up fireworks and have cocktails. No? Here is the cocktail I chose to use to commemorate Canada Day.
Crown Royal® Whisky Splash Classic Cocktail
Crown Royal® - 1.5 oz.
Sweet and Sour Mix - 1 oz.
Grenadine - 1 teaspoon
Club Soda - 3 oz.

Combine Crown Royal whisky, sweet and sour mix, and grenadine over ice in an Old Fashioned glass. Top with club soda. Garnish with a lime wedge.

The Whisky Splash is a pitch-perfect drink. Crown Royal is combined with the tangy, sweet flavor of sour mix and grenadine, all wrapped up in one package. This is one, taste-bud pleaser.
As the description suggests, it is a tasty blend of sweet and sour from the grenadine and sweet and sour mix with the bubbles of the club soda and obvious the whisky of the Crown Royal. Delicious!!!! So in honor of all of our neighbors up North: Happy Canada Day. Cheers!!!!

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Friday, June 29, 2012

Agave Margarita

I picked up a bottle of Agave Nectar the other day and wanted to make something that would compliment the nectar. I decided that I would keep it within the agave/tequila family. what better than a Margarita. Here's what I came up with:

Agave Margarita
1.5oz Sauza Tequila Blanco
1oz Homemade Sweet and Sour
.5oz Agave Nectar
.5oz Triple Sec
Splash of Orange juice

Fill a glass with ice. Add the tequila, sweet and sour, agave nectar, triple sec and orange juice to a cocktail shaker filled with ice.

Shake vigorously and strain into the prepared glass. Garnish with a lime.

I have to say, I prefer this kind of Margarita over anything I've made at work. The Agave nectar gives it a nice sweet taste that doesn't feel artificial to the tongue. The only thing that would perhaps enhance the cocktail is to use a higher end Triple Sec like Cointreau.

I may have spoiled myself from having a "regular" Margarita again.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Daiquiris and not the Blended Kind

With the temperatures rising past the 90 degree Fahrenheit mark (93 degrees actually and 34 degree Celsius for everyone else in the world) I decided to make a drink that I have been waiting to make. A favorite of JFK and Hemingway, the Daiquiri is a classic of rum based cocktails. Named after a beach near Santiago de Cuba and made famous at El Floridita Bar en La Havana Vieja. Here is my attempt to make it.
Daiquiri (First Attempt)
1.5oz. Bacardi Light Rum
1/2oz. Fresh Lime Juice
1/4oz. Simple Syrup

Build over ice in a shaker. Shake well and strain in a chilled cocktail glass.
At quick smell, I get a very "Limey" smell to the cocktail. To the taste, I find the cocktail somewhat bland though it is very light and thirst quenching, I wasn't sure of the blandness was due to the Bacardi, so I decided to try out 10 Cane Rum as a substitute for the Bacardi.

10 Cane Rum is a rum from the island of Trinidad. Here is how the rum is described on the 10 Cane Rum website:
What is 10 Cane?
10 Cane is the super-premium rum created from first press Trinidadian sugar cane juice. It's crafted by the experts at Moët Hennessy, the world's premier luxury spirits producer. 10 Cane is THE WORLD’S BEST RUM.

Why is it called 10 Cane?
Traditionally, sugar cane stalks are harvested in bundles of 10. Additionally, it takes 10 sugar cane stalks to make one bottle of 10 Cane Rum.

What is "First Press Cane"?
10 Cane uses first press cane juice: the purest, most flavorful juice extracted from hand-harvested Trinidadian sugar cane.

How is 10 Cane created?
The process begins with specially selected Trinidadian sugar cane, which is hand-harvested and rushed to our nearby distillery where it is gently pressed. The distillate from the fresh press cane juice gives 10 Cane its unique character: light and smooth, yet flavorful.

The sugar cane juice is then fermented for 5 days in stainless steel tanks to allow for slow development of its unique aromas. The fermented sugar cane juice is then distilled twice in small batches in French pot stills ensuring optimal yet gentle extraction of the sugar cane aromas.

10 Cane is then aged for one year in vintage French oak barrels through which it achieves its distinctive light golden color, well-balanced mouth feel, and rounded finish. The sugar distillate is blended with a touch of extra old Trinidadian rum, which adds complexity and versatility.

What's the best way to drink it?
It's up to you. 10 Cane elevates all rum cocktails, including the Cuba Libre (Rum & Cola), Mojito, Daiquiri. You can even drink it neat or on the rocks.

Here is the recipe with the 10 Cane Rum:
Daiquiri (Second Attempt)
1.5oz. 10 Cane Rum
1/2oz. Fresh Lime Juice
1/4oz. Simple Syrup

Build over ice in a shaker. Shake well and strain in a chilled cocktail glass.
The aroma of the cocktail was very similar to the first one but you can taste the difference in the rums used. Where the Bacardi was somewhat bland, you can taste the cane sugar profile in the 10 Cane Rum in the Daiquiri. It wasn't any sweeter but it was definitely tastier and a bit more full bodied in flavor.

I would definitely recommend using the 10 Cane Rum or a similar rum in a Daiquiri rather than the Bacardi. I like it with a bit more flavor from the cane sugar. What do you gals and guys think. Let me know.

Until Then, Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur

Let's rewind to this past Saturday night and in comes two of my favorite peeps Peggy and Joel dressed to the nines from a night out at a wedding. In comes Peggy bearing a gift for yours truly. Apparently they came across a bottle of Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur and gave it to little old me. Aren't I the lucky one, No? But what to do with the Domaine de Canton.

First off the bottle is definitely original. But what exactly is Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur. Here is how it is described on the Domaine de Canton website:
Revered for centuries for its health and mystical properties, ginger is a versatile and unique ingredient. Domaine de Canton captures the very essence of fresh baby ginger. It is married with fine eau de vie, VSOP, and XO Grande Champagne Cognacs, which when crafted with fresh Tahitian vanilla beans, Provencal honey, and Tunisian ginseng add both vibrancy and dimension. To maintain the highest quality possible, Domaine de Canton is handmade naturally without preservatives or colorants.

Each bottle of Domaine de Canton begins with the selection of only the finest, fresh baby Vietnamese ginger. The baby ginger is peeled and cut by hand and then, in France's aquitaine region, it is macerated with a blend of herbs and spices to unlock its fresh essence. Domaine de Canton is made in small batches by hand and, therefore, mass quantities are not possible. Each batch of Domaine de Canton boasts a distinctively bright, fresh, yet rich and complex ginger flavor.

Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur was inspired by the French tradition in which sweet and fresh elixirs were fortified by fine eaux de vie and cognac. Spicy and aromatic elixirs became popular with the French during the time of colonial Indochine. Domaine de Canton is inspired by the subtle spiciness of the baby ginger grown locally in modern day Indochine. The result is a recipe which evokes an era of tropical romance and continental sophistication that is both elegant and timeless.

So how does it smell and taste. I found that it has a very subtle ginger aroma to it and it has a very rich and sweet taste. I can pick out the ginger, vanilla and to a certain degree the ginseng. It left a tingly feeling on my tongue. I had Alice taste it and she found it to be too sweet for her tastes. So what can I make with it.

I went looking for recipes on their website and found one I could make simply at the end of the night. Here it is:

French Ginger Martini
2 Parts Domaine de Canton
2 Parts Grey Goose Vodka
1 Splash Grand Marnier

Build over ice, shake well and serve in a chilled martini glass.
I gave Mel a taste to see if he liked it and he found that it had an sweet artificial taste that he didn't find appealing. Perhaps I added more than the recommended "splash" of Grand Marnier that the recipe calls for. I personally liked it. I found it very light. Not heavy in the least even if it was sweet.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The New York Bar and Restaurant Show

Yesterday I attended the New York Bar and Restaurant Show with my friends Harper and Megan at the Jacob Javitz Convention Center.

Now I thought that I would be able to score some cool swag. To be honest, I didn't get much in the way of that aside from a three piece bar shaker and music CD from the good people of The Rums of Puerto Rico. Gracias hermanos.

Where the strength of the show lay was in its exhibitors and the samples that they were pouring for anyone who inquired about their products. There was much to be tasted and I did my best to do so. Though they served between a half to one ounce in a tasting, add those up over almost three hours and that's quite a bit of booze. Please excuse me for being a bit fuzzy on what I tasted since I consumed a wide variety of spirits and I stopped taking notes on what I drank. LOL. So here are the highlights of what I drank yesterday, who makes it and what I thought of it. Click on the link for more information on the product(s).

- Wild Shot Mezcal and a Blue Mezcalita by Toby Keith
- A delicious Blackberry Mojito made with Ron Diplomatico
- Michelob Ultra Cider and Light Iced Tea
- Colombian made 12 and 20 year version of Dictator Rum smooth/smoky
- Australian South Seas Rum straight and with Ginger Beer/Jamaican Bitters as a Partial Cloudy very smooth
- Cold Steel Vodka Had it warm and it was one of the smoothest vodka I've ever had.
- Bootlegger 21 New York Vodka straight, in a Cucumber/Lime/Mint infusion and a Cucumber/Lime/Cilantro Infusion
- CocoManbu Orange Coconut and Watermelon Lime Liqueurs straight and the Watermelon Lime with Dr. pepper. Sweet and tasty.
- Ron del Barrilito straight up. Smooth full rum.
- Hiro Blue Junmai Ginjo and Red Junmai Sakes. Crisp and clear. Delicious.
- Kiri Mist Peach Flavored Sake. Different.
- Local Breuckelen Distilling's Glorious Gin, 77 Whiskey of Rye and Corn, 77 Wheat Whiskey. One of the best gins I've ever tasted.
- A Caipirinha made with Cuca Fresca Prata Cachaça. Delightful.
- Cachaça do Barão Silver and Gold straight.
- Madagascan Rhum Dzama. Silver, Gold, Overproof Silver and Overproof Gold. Very impressive rum.
- My first time having Absinthe in the form of Absente. Very very tasty.
- Colorado based Downslope Distilling Whiskey.
- Straight up taste of the smoky Mezcal Mano Negra
- A Chocolate "Milk" for adults called Naughty Cow. Scary how good it was.
- A Honey Pepper Whiskey made by Western Whiskey. Very smooth and tasty
- A very decadent and delicious cream called Forbidden Secret Dark Mocha American Cream. Momma-San would definitely love this one.
- A New Canadian Vodka on the market called Symbol Canadian Vodka
- Ron Bermudez Anejo Rum straight up.

So you can see from that list, I had alot to drink. It comes to no surprise why I was very fuzzy walking out of there. One interesting product I used was the Sidekick shot glass. It was a two part shot glass where a piece of dry ice was placed in the bottom part and a shot of the Cold Steel Vodka in the top part creating a smokey looking shot.

Here's a good way to end the afternoon of drinking. Yankees vs. Red Sox even down to the cups holding the booze.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Sunday, June 24, 2012

New York City Cocktails Part II: The Bronx Cocktail

Last month I profiled one of the granddaddies of all cocktails: The Manhattan. I stated that I would be profiling the cocktails that are based on the other four boroughs that make up the Greater City of New York. For this post I am focusing on the borough that I currently live on and the only borough that is located on the mainland United States: The Bronx Cocktail. Manhattan and Staten Island have their own island while Queens and Brooklyn make up the Western part of Long Island. So there's your geography lesson folks. Never say that you don't learn any pertinent information on my blog. Onward to the cocktail named after the home of Jonas Bronck.

The history of the Bronx Cocktail is one of those that lies in the turn of the 20th century, 1900 to be precise. I've seen two differing origins to the Bronx cocktail. Mr. Boston's Official Bartender's Guide 75th Anniversary Edition has a Bronx native and restaurateur bringing the drink back to NYC from his homesick time in Philadelphia. Julio Ibarra in his article Drink recipes: Bronx on identifies the person in question as being Mr. Joseph S. Sormani. This one seems to be disputed by many.

The actual origin of the drink lays within the old Waldorf-Astoria hotel which was located on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 33rd Street on the spot of an old Astor family mansion and the current location of the Empire State Building. As the story is described in The Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book 1935 Edition, the drink was invented by Waldorf-Astoria bartender Johnnie Solon. The book prints Solon's own words for how he came up with the drink:
We had a cocktail in those days called a Duplex, which had a pretty fair demand. One day, I was making one for a customer when in came Traverson, head waiter of the Empire Room- The main dining room in the original Waldorf. A Duplex was composed of equal parts of French and Italian Vermouth, shaken up with a squeezed orange peel, or two dashes of Orange Bitters. Traverson said, 'Why don't you get up a new cocktail? I have a customer who says you can't do it.'

"'Can't I?'" I replied.

"Well, I finished the Duplex I was making, and a thought came to me. I poured into a mixing glass the equivalent of two jiggers of Gordon Gin. The I filled the jigger with orange juice so that it made one-third of orange juice and two-thirds of Gin. Then into the mixture I put a dash each of Italian and French Vermouth, shaking the thing up. I didn't taste it myself, but I poured it into a cocktail glass and handed it to Traverson and said: 'You are a pretty good judge. (He was.) See what you think of that.' Traverson tasted it. Then he swallowed it whole.

"'By God!' he said 'you've really got something new! That will make a big hit. Make me another and I will take it back to that customer in the dining room. Bet you'll sell a lot of them. Have you plenty of oranges? If you haven't you better stock up because I am going to sell a lot of those cocktails during lunch.'

"The demand for Bronx cocktails started that day. Pretty soon we were using whole cases of oranges a day. And then several cases"
And if you're wondering where the name came from, don't fret, here is Solon's explanation:
"The name? No, it wasn't really named directly after the borough or the river so-called. I had been at the Bronx Zoo a day or two before, and I saw, of course, a lot of beasts I had never known. Customers used to tell me of the strange animals they saw after a lot of mixed drinks. So when Traverson said to me, as he started to take the drink in to the customer, 'What'll I tell him the name of this drink?' I thought of those animals, and said: 'Oh, you can tell him its a "Bronx""
So there you go straight from the proverbial horse's mouth. Now enough of history. Let's see if the cocktail stands the test of time and that of my palatte.

Here is the recipe I used for the cocktail:

The Bronx Cocktail
2oz of Gin
.5oz of Dry Vermouth
.5oz of Sweet Vermouth
1oz Orange Juice
Garnish with an Orange slice

Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Pretty simple enough to make. I originally used Bombay Sapphire gin and though I found it to be very light and citrusy, I didn't like the way the Bombay played with the other ingredients. Came off a little bitter on my tongue. This got me to thinking: Which Gin would work well with citrus elements. The a-ha moment came to my mind with the gin I chose for my re-introduction to gin: Hendricks!

For the second cocktail I followed the same recipe this time substituting Hendricks for the Bombay Sapphire and found the drink to be much more appealing. The cucumber notes played wonderfully with the Vermouths and the orange juice. This is a nice cocktail to have on a hot summer's day or night. Those who aren't a fan of gin might even find this drink appealing. Give it a try.

On another historical side note concerning the Bronx Cocktail, the New York Times printed an article on September 24, 1911 on how then President William Taft was travelling out West and caused a stir by having Bronx Cocktails during breakfast to the horror of many of the Missouri clergymen. You read the entire entry in the following image:

So go out there and have a Bronx cocktail at breakfast time and piss off all the clergymen you want like President Taft once did. LOL.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Back To Testing Drinks

After a few busy weeks at the bar with both the NHL Stanley Cup and NBA Finals, I see myself having some free time to taste test some cocktails and experimenting to make others. Any suggestions? Recommendations? Feel free to drop me a line at If I have the ingredients handy, I'll whip it up and post what I think about it.

Until Then, Happy Drinking
Sisco Vanilla

The Berry White...Show You're Right

A few weeks ago I was flipping through the iBartender App and came across and interesting sounding cocktail: The Berry White. Now when you see the recipe you'll get an idea where the name comes from, but I'm going to go out a limb here and say that it was inspired by the big man himself, composer and singer-songwriter Mr. Barry White.

Whether or not the drink is actually inspired by Mr. White is unknown. As a fan of his for many years (I mean, who doesn't like Barry White, Right?) I find it cool to associate this cocktail with him. Speaking of the cocktail, here is the recipe:

The Berry White
1 oz. Raspberry Vodka
1 oz. Triple Sec
1 oz. White Creme de Cacao
1 oz. Lime Juice

Combine ingredients with ice in a shaker. Shake well and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
I altered the original recipe by adding a cherry as garnish. The drink is crystal clear and the cherry at the bottom gives it a nice touch of color. The drink was described to me by Dawn and Ms M as tasting as if you were "Drinking candy". The key to the drink is to make it as cold as possible. I shook it vigorously so that it could get nice and cold. Upon tasting I have to admit, it does taste like drinking candy. The Raspberry, Chocolate and Lime notes play in perfect harmony together, often taking turns letting themselves be known on the tongue, Pardon the musical pun but i believe that it is a Barry White inspired drink after all. Perhaps if I use fresh lime instead of Rose's Lime Juice the drink might not be as sweet. I'll have to remix it somewhat. And since I'm mentioning remixing.

Something seemed a little off to me concerning the Berry White. One of his famous lyrics from The Longer We Make Love (With Chaka Khan) is The blacker the berry, the sweeter the juice and here lies the rub. The drink is clear. Barry was dark chocolate personified. Here is my remix of the drink:

The Blacker the Berry the Sweeter the Juice (aka Berry White on the dark side)
1 oz. Raspberry Vodka
1 oz. Cointreau (or Triple Sec)
1 oz. Dark Creme de Cacao
1 oz. Fresh Lime
.5 oz. Chambord

Combine ingredients with ice in a shaker. Shake well and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Upon tasting the drink is not as sweet as the original Berry White. It has a darker color and a slightly thicker consistency to it than the Berry White. My friends Johnny and Jennifer referred to the drink as tasting similar to a Raspberry Chocolate cheesecake. Though i am satisfied with the drink, a lessening of either the Raspberry Vodka or the Chambord would probably help bring out the chocolate flavor of the Dark Creme de Cacao to the surface.

I rather prefer the darker version to the lighter one. The lighter one might be a little too sweet for my taste buds. But I'll make sure to make either one for someone who asks for a sweet cocktail.

Until The, Happy Drinking
Sisco Vanilla

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Lemonade Was A Popular Drink...

A favorite line of mine in a summertime song is from Gangstarr and Nice and Smooth DWYCK where they rap: "Lemonade is a popular drink...and it still is". There's not much that reminds me of summer than Lemonade. Add liquor to the lemonade, then we really set to have a good time this summer. So I decided to keep these drinks simple and easy by just using three ingredients each and both a regular light Lemonade and a light Pink Lemonade. Here are the recipes:

Vodka Sunrise
1oz Grey Goose Vodka
2oz Lemonade
Diet 7-Up to fill
Lemon Garnish

Build ingredients over ice and fill to top with Diet 7-Up

El Murcielago Rosado (The Pink Bat)
1oz Bacardi Rum
2oz Light Pink Lemonade
Diet 7-Up to Fill
Lime Garnish

Build ingredients over ice and fill to top with Diet 7-Up

Both drinks were very light. The kind of cocktails that would fit next to the pool or a tropical beach. Just don't drink them too fast. A few of these and you might be feeling some sunstroke and suburb when you fall asleep in the sun. So be responsible as you sip these and admire the skimpy bikinis and the tight abs while on the beach. ;)

Until Then Happy Drinking
Sisco Vanilla

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Oak and Ginger on Fathers Day

Happy Fathers Day to all of you dad's out there including my own dad and myself. Hope you're enjoying your special day. For today's pre-work cocktail, I've decided to keep it nice and simple. I came across Bacardi's newest spiced rum The Bacardi Oakheart while picking up ingredients for an egg nog recipe by Jeffrey Morganthaler last Winter. According to the Bacardi Oakheart website:

BACARDI® OakHeart is a bold, spiced rum that gets its robust flavor by fermenting in charred oak barrels. Rich and oaky on the nose, with hints of smoke and dried fruit, this exceptional spiced rum has a robust flavor that stands up to any challenge.

I have to admit that I really, really like the Bacardi Oakheart over the popular Captain Morgan. I find that it has a richer and spicer taste as compared to the Captain Morgan. If you haven't tried it yet, I highly recommend it.

So to quench my Fathers Day thirst, here is the recipe:

Oak and Ginger
1.5 ounces Bacardi Oakheart Rum
4–5 ounces ginger ale or ginger beer
3 dashes Angostura bitters
Fresh lime, squeezed

Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake well. Pour into a highball glass filled with ice and add a squeeze of fresh lime.

That's it. Very simple, refreshing and delicious. Not much more I can say than Happy Fathers Day.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Friday, June 15, 2012

This Week's Infusions

For this week's infusions I decided to take a somewhat different tact from my prior infusions. Sitting in the cabinet with my Honey Vodka Infusion and my almost three weeks old Strawberry Vodka Infusion, I decided to make an infusion with a vegetable. I thought to myself, which veggie would work well in an infusion. Something about making a carrot cake flavored cocktail or an orange carrot combination seemed natural to me. So for the first infusion, I've started on a Carrot Vodka infusion. I think I'm going to leave this infusion in the cabinet for about a month and see what comes out.

The second infusion came about through a conversation with @Whiskylassie on Twitter. She's a Canadian whisky blogger from New Brunswick whose page is The Perfect Whisky Match with her partner in crime @grahammackenney. Check their page out. Its pretty witty and very informative on the world of Whisky. The conversation came about when we were talking about the MeKhong Thai Spirit post from last weekend. We were discussing what flavors might work well with the MeKhong and a few that came up were Ginger and Mango. Since I'm on the look out for a Diet Ginger Beer. I find Ginger Beer way too sweet and its sugar content is fairly high per serving. So until I find some, ginger is a bit out of the equation.

The other day I was in the supermarket and saw these nice big Mexican Mangoes and said "A-ha! There is my new infusion ingredient". So I think I'll be infusing the Mango with Vodka for at least two weeks or so and see what develops. On the MeKhong front, I'm hoping my friend Ace who tends bar at the Thai Pavilion in Astoria, Queens can scrounge me up a bottle soon. If you guys are ever in Astoria and are looking to Thai food, go ahead to both Thai Pavilion locations. The food and ambiance are excellent. So I guess I'll be playing the waiting game.

Until then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Happy National Bourbon Day

June 14th is a celebratory day here in the United States of America. Not only do we celebrate our Nation's flag: The Stars and Stripes but we also celebrate another American original: Bourbon.

Why is June 14th celebrated as National Bourbon Day? June 14 is the 223rd anniversary of the day that the Rev. Elijah Craig first distilled whiskey from corn in Bourbon County, Kentucky. Now there is much history that has gone down in terms of distilling of whiskey in the United States since before Reverend Elijah Craig first distilled his whiskey in Bourbon County. For a more in depth timeline, click on the following link: Buffalo Trace Distillery History. Here is a brief synopsis of some important people and events in bourbon history.

Starting with Daniel Boone's arrival to the Eastern Kentucky area in 1767, settlers started to populate this area that was then considered to be a frontier wilderness on the American continent. By 1770, whiskey was being distilled by settler Elijah Pepper. In 1780 Robert Samuels of Pennsylvania moved to Kentucky and also started distilling whiskey. The Samuels family line is still distilling today in the form of Maker's Mark Bourbon Whisky, which was created in 1953. In 1785, Jacob Beam arrived in Kentucky and was selling whiskey by 1795. His grandson Jim Beam distilled the Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey that would be his namesake in 1934. In 1786 the above mentioned Reverend Elijah Craig arrives in Kentucky and is making whiskey by 1789.

There was further migration of distillers into the Kentucky area in the years of 1791-1794 with the passing of an excise tax by on distilled spirits by Congress to help pay off the resulting national debt. The subsequent Whiskey Rebellion occurred when President Washington sent the federal militia to Pennsylvania to ward off the rebels who refused to pay the tax. For more information, click on the following link: The Whiskey Rebellion by Michael Hoover, Regulations & Rulings Division

In 1906 the Food and Drug Act passed an act protecting the standards of identity for Bourbon which was later reinforced and clarified by President William Howard Taft in 1909 and becoming official within the United States Department of Agriculture, with Food Inspection Decision No. 113 in 1910. For more information click on the following link: Chapter IV What is Whiskey from THE HISTORY OF A CRIME AGAINST THE FOOD LAW. THE AMAZING STORY OF THE NATIONAL FOOD AND DRUGS LAW INTENDED TO PROTECT THE HEALTH OF THE PEOPLE PERVERTED TO PROTECT ADULTERATION OF FOODS AND DRUGS By HARVEY W. WILEY, M.D.

As if Bourbon needed anymore legislation to make it an official American staple, the United States Congress passed a resolution in 1964 declaring bourbon as being "a spirit distinctive to the United States" and set up a series of rules of which the main one was that for a spirit to be called a Bourbon, it must be made in the U.S.A. (of which 95 percent of it is still made in Kentucky). For more of the rules click on the following link: Bourbon from the KindredCocktails website. In 2007, the 110th Congress 1st Session through the U.S. Senate in the form of Resolution S.Res294 submitted by Senator (and National Baseball Hall of Famer 1996) Jim Bunning of Kentucky which designates the month of September as "National Bourbon Heritage Month".

Whew, that was alot of history. Now I'm thirsty. Let's have some Bourbon.

So in honor of National Bourbon Day I decided to take it way back with a cocktail from the good old days. I decided to make myself an Old Fashioned. Here is the recipe for those of you who don't know what an Old Fashioned is:

Old Fashioned
1 oz Knob Creek bourbon whiskey
2 dashes Angostura bitters
3 packets of Splenda
1 maraschino cherry
Club Soda

Mix splenda and angostura bitters in an old-fashioned glass. Muddle into a paste using a muddler or the back end of a spoon. Pour in bourbon, fill with ice cubes, top with Club soda and stir.
Since in past posts, I've made mention of watching the sugar intake, I substituted the sugar for Splenda. The result is a sweet cocktail with a little kick from the Knob Creek and the bitters. Pete had a taste and liked the way it tasted with the Splenda. I do too. Happy Bourbon Day.

Until Then, Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

For Further Reading:
- Click Here to read Whiskey expert Chuck Cowerdy's blogpost Favorite Whiskey Myths Debunked
- Click Here to read the article Whisky or Whiskey from the Anti-Saloon League website
- Click Here to access the article The Taft Decision: A Century Later from the Bourbon Review website
- Click Here to access the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations: Title 27: Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms PART 5—LABELING AND ADVERTISING OF DISTILLED SPIRITS Subpart C—Standards of Identity for Distilled Spirits

Le Cocktail De Citron Rose Framboise

Pardon my attempts at getting fancy when naming a drink. I made this particular drink for Momma-San last night and the best she could come up with was the Sisco Drink Special. Now, as awesome as that sounds I kind of wanted something that would describe the flavors that make up that this simple but refreshing cocktail. Plus we all know that anything that is in French sounds so much more sophisticated. Non? Oui!!!!! Laissez-nous continuer. (AUTHOR'S NOTE: just for the record, I am not fluent in French. Not in the least. So if I screw something up, blame the Google Translate App, LOL. Plus I'm watching a documentary called Absinthe on Netflix which has quite a bit commentary in French. So the only think that I'm missing is a beret. But I digress).

The cocktail is made simply in this manner:

Le Cocktail De Citron Rose Framboise
1oz. Raspberry Infused Vodka
1oz. Limoncello
1oz. Homemade Sour Mix
Ginger Ale

Build over ice and top with Ginger Ale.
See, very simple. As you can see from the picture, the cocktail has a very pretty pink color and a subtly sweet taste. I think the key here is the homemade sour mix. It gives the drink a natural taste that I think would not be found if using a sour mix "from the gun" or in an "over the counter mix". The raspberry, lemon and lime flavors play off each other nicely and the ginger ale gives it a little effervescence.

This cocktail is light enough to have over ice as I did, as well, in a chilled cocktail glass. I recommend that you make one and tell me what you think.

Until Then, Happy Drinking
Sisco Vanilla

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Stoli Wild Cherry vs Grey Goose Cherry Noir

While I had the Mehkong Spiced Whiskey/Rum/Thai Spirit at Forum this past Sunday afternoon, I noticed that the bar had a decent selection of flavored vodkas and decided to give the Stoli Wild Cherri vodka a shot. It was not what I expected.

I decided to have it made simply with coke. Where I thought I'd have something similar to a cherry coke or maybe a Dr. Pepper, it tasted like I was drinking Vicks Formula 44D and coke. And to be honest, the Vicks 44D and coke probably would have tasted better. It was just god awful, tasting very medicinal and artificial. It was not very tasty or appetizing to say the least. Let's see how the Grey Goose Cherry Noir stands up next to the Stoli Wild Cherri.

I had picked up a few samples of Grey Goose Cherry Noir while at my local liquor store a few days ago. Why buy a big bottle if you find you don't like it. Right? So let;s see what this Grey Goose Cherry Noir tastes like.

Immediately I notice that the Goose Cherry has a much more subtler aroma than the Stoli Wild Cherry and when mixed with Diet Pepsi, the cherry taste seem more natural and has a nice little spicy kick to it. This definitely tastes more like a combination between a Cherry Cola and Dr. Brown's Black Cherry Soda. It is not as artificially tasting as the Stoli Wild Cherri.

I guess to get the most authentic tasting cherry spirit I'll have to add cherries to the infusion list. Any recommendation on what kind of cheeries to use?

Until Then, Happy Drinking
Sisco Vanilla

Is MeKhong Spiced a Whiskey, Rum, or Thai Spirit

I spent the better part of this past Sunday afternoon with Johnny and Jenn at the 10th Anniversary Big Apple Barbecue Block Party at Madison Square Park incurring a BBQ coma. So to work the food off, we decided to walk to Forum and meet up with Jake.

As I checked in at Forum, I noticed that in doing so, I would get a complimentary glass of MeKhong Spiced Rum. I decided to get mine on the rocks. Now before I decided to taste it, I went online to see what the deal was with this spirit. Immediately I found that this seems to be one conflicted spirit. On one page the MeKhong is labeled as being a whiskey but since it is made of sugar/molasses and rice it is considered to be more of a rum. On another I saw it being called a "Thai Spirit". Anyone know what that means? I decided to go straight to the source and see what the MeKhong website says about their self named spirit. Here is its origin:
MeKhong is Thailand's national spirit named after the mighty MeKhong River, which flows along its border. First introduced in 1941, it is the first and foremost spirit in Thailand. Nowadays MeKhong is a source of pride for the Thai people and has come to symbolise the the friendly welcome for which Thailand is world renowned. MeKhong has a wonderfully smooth aroma and inviting taste that will instantly remind you of the tropics of Southeast Asia. Enjoy the taste of an enchanting nation and have a good time...Thai Style!
Alrigty then. Sounds good so far. But what is in it that leads to the contradiction in classification of the type of spirit it is. Here is how it is described on the website:
MeKhong's amber and reddish copper colour paves the way to a balanced and smooth flavour of spicy ginger, toffee, citrus and vanilla flavours - all fused together to provide a unique and well balanced drink. MeKhong can be enjoyed straight, with a mixer, or in cocktails, and of course perfectly compliments spicy Thai food...The MeKhong sugar cane spirit is artfully blended with rice spirit and a secret recipe of natural Thai herbs and spices to deliver its unique taste of Thailand. MeKhong has a slightly lower alcohol content of 35% by volume which improves its mixability
Ok, enough of the company lines. How does it smell and taste. At first smell it has a bit of a light aroma similar to Cruzan Black Strap Rum hence the presence of rum. Although at the taste the spices that are often found in a spiced rum are prevalent, it isn't as sweet and flavorful as let's say the Bacardi Oakheart. It is also not as thick or dark as the above mentioned Cruzan Black Strap Rum. To me, it did taste like a whiskey would once the ice melted. Interesting, No?

I don't believe that its a bad spirit even though it seems to get some bad press as it does in this review by Richard Thomas in his post Mehkong Whiskey Review from the Whiskey Reviewer website. Maybe it does deserve a designation outside of the whiskey world since I don't think it is a whiskey. What I do feel is that it is a light enough spirit to have on the rocks maybe with a coke or ginger ale. It's definitely not an overpowering spirit and one that can be enjoyed regardless of how it is viewed. Here is one such summertime recipe I found listed on the MeKhong website:
Let's Go To The Beach
30ml MeKhong
30ml Malibu
30ml Pineapple Juice
30ml Apple Juice
10ml Fresh Lime Juice
20ml Normal Syrup
1 Dash of Angostura Bitters

Red Apple wheel, or pineapple cube on a stick with a mint sprig
If your taste buds are feeling some Thai food, check out this recipe for Crying Tiger "เสือร้องไห้" - Spicy Thai BBQ Beef from the Nor-mai Boise - Cooking With Passion blogpage that they recommend should be consumed with MeKhong Thai Spirit.

Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Honey Vodka Infusion

I wanted to try my hand at a long term infusion project and I came across a recipe for a Honey Vodka infusion from Catherine Morrow's website: Here site is chock full of information concerning many aspects of cooking, baking, pickling and alcohol infusions. Give her webpage a look next time you're in the mood to try out something new. Here is the recipe that she lists on her website:
Honey Vodka
1 cup honey
3 cups vodka
2 cinnamon sticks (optional* you can also add clove or allspice)

Combine honey, vodka and cinnamon sticks in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid. You can use plastic however you'll want to make sure its food safe. Shake the jar vigorously, shake it from time to time and allow to rest ideally 3 months. It can be used immediately however the longer it sits the more the flavors will meld. (the cinnamon in particular)

So off I went to the market and got the necessary ingredients for this little experiment. I used the honey and added 4 small cinnamon sticks. After adding the 3 cups of vodka, here is what I came up with.

The infusion already has a nice golden color to it. After I get the last few drops from the bottle, it'll sit until Autumn. By then I look forward to using it in Fall flavored cocktails. Thanks again to Catherine Morrow for the inspiration.

Until Then, Happy Drinking
Sisco Vanilla

La Coquiña Linda

Today is the day I decided to use the pineapple infused vodka. The vodka took on a faint yellow color and had a very fragrant aroma to it. It's aroma wasn't as strong as pineapple juice but not subtle in the least. After I strained it out and poured it into my fancy schmancy glass bottle, I wondered what can I pair the pineapple vodka with. After a few seconds one logical matchup came to mind: Coconut. Since we're approaching summertime, what better than to have a "Coco-Piña-ish" cocktail on a hot summer day. What I came up is something I'll call La Coquiña Linda. Here is the initial recipe I came up with.

La Coquiña Linda (First Attempt)
3 oz. Pineapple infused vodka
.5 oz. Triple Sec
1.5 oz. Organic Coconut Water
1.5 oz. Coco Lopez Coconut Milk
ground Cinnamon for garnish

Add all ingredients (except Cinnamon) in shaker. Shake vigorously and pour into chilled cocktail glass. Shake ground cinnamon on the top of the cocktail.

The drink came out nice and light and according to Momma-San it was somewhat bland and not sweet enough. She said she was making the connection between this drink and the Coquito that is usually served during the holidays which is thicker and sweeter. Since Momma-San has sugar issues, I used the unsweetened Coconut milk rather than the sweetened Cream of coconut that is used for Piña coladas. I have to admit that I found it to be lacking something. So back to the drawing board I went a-la Wile E. Coyote.

The second time around I though to myself: How can I ramp up the sweetness factor without changing the basic look and feel to the cocktail. I had my a-ha moment and here is what I came up with for the second try:

La Coquiña Linda (Final Attempt)
3 oz. Pineapple infused vodka
1 oz. Triple Sec
1 oz. Organic Coconut Water
.5 oz Coco Lopez Coconut Milk
.5 oz Simple Syrup
ground Cinnamon for garnish

Add all ingredients (except Cinnamon) in shaker. Shake vigorously and pour into chilled cocktail glass. Shake ground cinnamon on the top of the cocktail.

This time the cocktail was definitely sweeter without losing its consistency. Momma-San found this one to be much more to what she was expecting to taste. The pineapple taste is subtle hiding out behind the coconut. The cinnamon gives it a nice sharp texture both in flavor and feel. I'm satisfied with the way the second cocktail came out.

Any suggestions on how I can improve this cocktail? Feel free. I look forward to any and all suggestions.

Until Then, Happy Drinking
Sisco Vanilla

Friday, June 8, 2012

El Morir Soñando a-la Francesa

I decided to take a few days off from the tastings and experimentation but no need to fret folks, I'm back with a new project. I decided to change gears a little by trying to create an alcoholic version of a Dominican drink called El Morir Soñando (To Die Dreaming). I remember my mom making these for me as a kid and the memory got me thinking that it would be an amazing cocktail. The original recipe calls for Orange Juice and Milk over ice. Simple enough, but I wanted something thicker so I decided to use Half and Half instead of milk. For the alcoholic portion of the drink, I used Stoli Orange. Here is the recipe I used:
Morir Soñando (First Attempt)
1 oz. Stoli Orange Vodka
2 oz. Orange Juice
2 oz. Half and Half

Build over ice in an old fashioned glass and shake.
I found myself at an interesting position with this drink. I found that it was quite smooth but somewhat bland. I added some more Stoli Orange but found that it was overpowering the half and half and orange juice. I added more juice and that over powered the other ingredients. I wasn't very impressed or convinced with this experiment. So I decided to re-work it.

This time I went back to basics by using regular whole milk, Tropicana Trop50 Orange Juice with some pulp that has 50% less sugar than Tropicana's regular orange juice and for the alcoholic part I used Grand Marnier. Here is the recipe:

Morir Soñando (Final Result)
1 oz. Grand Marnier
2 oz. Trop50 Orange Juice with some pulp
2 oz. Regular Whole Milk

Build over ice in an old fashioned glass and stir.
The result this time was 10x better than the version with Stoli Orange. The milk and orange juice blended with the Grand Marnier for a nice silky cocktail. The little bits of pulp gave the drink a little character, something to ride on the tongue while gliding down my throat. I have to say that I rather enjoyed this version with Grand Marnier. Another liqueur that you might want to use instead of the Grand Marnier might be the Spanish Orange liqueur Licor 43 which is made from citrus and fruit juices, flavored with vanilla and other aromatic herbs and spices, in total 43 different ingredients. Cointreau might also yield another interesting flavor combination en El Morir Soñando.

Homemade Simple Syrup and Sweet and Sour Mix

In learning how to make drinks and finding tasty pairings, I'm trying to rely less on pre made mixers. For example, I could easily find Sweet and Sour mix at most supermarkets and definitely at the Liquor store. I could also find bottled Simple syrup at Crate and Barrel. I would assume that it tastes way too artificial and it's probably quite easy to make. In addition, when I make drinks at home I need to keep sugar content in mind since Momma-San is a diabetic and I tend not to use sugar in my coffee and teas. Keeping that in mind, I have started to make my own Simple Syrup and Sweet and Sour Mix.

For the Simple syrup, it is normally made by mixing equal parts of water and sugar. Going back to the non-sugar usage, I use the granulated Splenda as an alternative.
Simple Syrup
1 cup water
1 cup granulated Splenda

Put water to boil, add Splenda. Stir to dissolve and let cool before placing in refrigerator
Quite easy. For the Sweet and Sour nix it takes a bit more work since it requires fresh lemon and line juices in addition to the simple syrup. Here is the scaled down recipe I used from the article THE ULTIMATE BAR: SWEET & SOUR MIX from
Sweet and Sour Mix
1.5 cups of water
1.5 cups of granulated Splenda
1 cup of fresh lemon juice
1 cup of fresh lime juice

Put water to boil, add Splenda. Stir to dissolve and let cool. Stir syrup with lemon and lime juices. Refrigerate (or freeze) for later use.
I have to agree with one of the people who commented on the recipe page. The sweet and sour mix is delicious enough to drink on its own. Kind of like a Lemon-Limeade. I've seen that it will last for about a week or so, so make sure to freeze whatever parts you won't use right away. The mix begins to turn when it starts to get cloudy particles.

I hope to be using these mixtures more and more in the drinks I make at home and hope to compare them to those I make at work.

Until then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Update on the Pineapple and Strawberry Vodka Infusions

Day four of the infusion has resulted in two lightly flavored vodkas. The Pineapple vodka has taken on a lightly yellow hue and a very subtle pineapple taste. The Strawberry vodka is now a light red color and also has a light strawberry flavor to it. Its not enough.

Maybe I was spoiled by the result of my Raspberry Vodka Infusion. That one came out superb. The taste of the raspberries permeates throughout the vodka completely. I want the same for these two.

I took some riper pieces of fruit that I had in the fridge and broke them up above the vodka and dropped them in. Hopefully these pieces will add a bit if extra color and flavor to the vodka. I'll get back to it in a few days.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Friday, June 1, 2012


As I continue reading through Boozehound by Jason Wilson, a certain simple to make drink stood out to me in Chapter 5: Bitter is Bella. Wilson describes his adventures throughout Milan, Italy and he talks about how he found himself drinking an Americano. That got me to thinking, how would an Americano taste like. Here is the recipe he gives:
Equal parts of Campari and Sweet Vermouth over ice with a lemon twist
What exactly is Campari. As per William Sertl in his article Campari: Good and Bitter on the Savuer website states:
The Campari story begins in the early 1860s, when a bartender-turned-caffè-proprietor named Gaspare Campari started inventing bottled cocktails in the cellar of his new establishment in Milan. He'd mix neutral alcohol with raspberry juice, vanilla, cocoa—whatever struck his fancy—and then sell his homemade libations upstairs. One day, he came up with something he called "Bitter all'Uso d'Holanda"—bitter [meaning a kind of bitter herbal drink] in the style of Holland—based on his notions about legendary Dutch cordials.

The recipe reportedly has not changed since that time: Campari is a blend of equal parts of alcohol, sugar syrup, distilled water, and an infusion flavored with oranges, rhubarb, and—I was told when I visited the main Campari bottling plant in Sesto S. Giovanni, a sterile industrial suburb ten miles north of Milan— ginseng, as well as a mixture of herbs.
Why is it called an Americano? According to the Campari cocktail recipe list for download:
The famous Americano was invented in Milan, where it was known as Milano-Torino – a reference to its two main ingredients It was renamed Americano after the American tourists who were fond of the
drink during prohibition.
At first smell the lemon twist stands out. The lemony smell is simply awesome. At first the drink gave off a sweet taste then a slowly lingering bitter taste near the back of the tongue and throat. The lemon twist adds another subtle flavor to the drink. It is a very intense flavor explosion of both the sides of sweet and bitter.

In looking around on the Campari website, I found a different recipe listed for the Americano. Here is that recipe:
1 part Campari
1 part vermouth Cinzano Rosso
1 part soda

Build in a rocks glass with ice. Garnish with a slice of orange.
I found that this drink had the sweetness and bitterness a bit ramped up with the addition of soda water. The sweetness and bitterness hit the same stops the first drink did, it just seemed stronger. But there was something strange. As with the first drink sometimes I'd only taste the sweetness. Then on another sip I'd taste the sweetness and bitterness. Another time just the bitterness. There was no pattern to how the flavor would come about.

As described on the Campari website:
Americano: A cocktail you'll love at first sip. In fact they say that once you've tried it you'll never get tired of its special texture and striking mixture of flavors.
Yes, I would say this is an apt description of the Americano. Did I love it at first sip? No, not really but the drink started to grow on me by the time I finished the second one. I can see myself ordering one out of curiosity to see how the flavors would come to the surface of my tongue. I'd recommend it to anyone who wants to try something new with different flavors and sensations.

Until Then Happy Drinking
Sisco Vanilla

Who Is This Rickey Guy The Gin Rickey Is Named After

The other evening a request was made of me. My friend Topper came by the bar the other night and we got to talking about Baseball and drinks. The subject of a Gin Rickey came up. Topper asked me to do a blog post on how a Gin Rickey came to be. So it got me to wondering: Who is the Gin Rickey named after.

Could it be named after the man who referred to himself as "The Best of All-Time": Rickey Henderson? No but that would be cool. Could it be the man who went against the unwritten rules prohibiting African Americans from playing in the Major Leagues by signing Jackie Robinson to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers: Branch Rickey? Again, no. It would be ironic to name a drink after Branch Rickey since he was a very conservative teetotaller. For those of you who don't know what a teetotaller is, its a person who abstains completely from alcoholic beverages. See the irony?

Ok, now that I linked this post to Baseball (just for you Topper), here we go with the real person the drink is named after.

According to his obituary printed in the New York Times on April 24, 1903, Colonel Joseph K. Rickey (1842-1903) was a veteran of the Confederate Army during the US Civil War. After the war, he became involved in the stock market then in Missouri state politics and later national politics as a lobbyist. It was in Washington DC that Colonel Joe Rickey would be immortalized.

According to Ted Haigh, aka Dr. Cocktail in his article Rediscovering Vintage Cocktails: The Man Behind the Gin Rickey from Imbibe Magazine's May/June 2007 issue:
He (Rickey) was a regular at a marble palace frequented by political operatives that habitués called Shoo’s, one building up from the National Theatre in Washington. Shoomaker’s was the enterprise of William Shoomaker, who had begun his professional life as a Civil War sutler. The saloon had been thriving there since before the Mexican-American War. All evidence suggests that Rickey himself first conceived his signature drink in the typically hot 1883 summer campaign season. The bartender, George Williamson, prepared it to the colonel’s instructions, and the first one was actually a rye Rickey made with Shoomaker’s own house-label whiskey. Though Colonel Joe remained faithful to his original concoction, in short order gin would eclipse the rye (and inspire a whole family of drinks called Rickeys).
Rickey would eventually purchase Shoomaker's in 1896. The building would continue to serve Rickey's famous self named drink until it closed in 1916. The building would be later torn down. Rickey relocated to New York City and was a fixture at most hotels and bars along Broadway living the life. On April 23, 1903, Rickey was found dead in his home on West 25th Street. Rumors circulated that Rickey had been poisoned. While his family denied the rumors concerning his passing, the coroner confirmed that not only was Rickey poisoned but that he had committed suicide by ingesting Carbolic Acid mixed with some whiskey. The acid and a "fatty heart" were the reasons for his passing away leaving behind a legacy of a series of cocktails bearing his name none more famous than the Gin Rickey.

Speaking of the Gin Rickey, here is the recipe for his namesake:
The Gin Rickey
1.5 oz. Gin
.5 oz. Fresh Lime Juice
Soda water
Lime wedge

Pour gin and lime juice into a highball glass over ice cubes. Fill with soda water and stir. Add the wedge of lime and serve.

The drink itself is a light and refreshing that is suitable for any season but its texture is mainly associated with the summer. I especially prefer it with Hendrick's Gin since I feel that it's citrus notes matches up with the fresh lime and the soda water. Gives a nice little kick on the tongue. so order one from your friendly neighborhood bartender or make one for yourself.

A bit of trivia, according to the website both Joe Rickey and Branch Rickey seem to be related. In what capacity I don't specifically know. I'll keep digging around to find out.

Until Then, Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

For Further Reading:
- Click Here to access Ted Haigh's aka Dr. Cocktail article Rediscovering Vintage Cocktails: The Man Behind the Gin Rickey from Imbibe Magazine's May/June 2007 issue
- Click Here to access Colonel Joe Rickey's obituary from the New York Times April 24, 1903
- Click Here to access the blogpost "Joe Rickey" A Man and a Drink from the YesterYear Once More blogpage
- Click Here to access an image of what Shoomaker's looked like approximately in 1917 from
- Click Here to access the article Rickey Roots and Revels dated February 1992 from the website