Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Tres Leches Triple Cream Liqueur

Whenever I see a liquor store I have never entered, I like to check and see what they have in little bottles that I have never tried. I went into the Lehigh Wine and Liquor store off of the Buhre Avenue train stop on the #6 train in the Bronx and was pleasantly surprised. First it was a wide open liquor store with no bulletproof glass. I understand why some have it but it takes away from the experience of looking at bottles. Holding them in your hands, looking at the nuances of the alcohol. Its obviously harder to do so through bulletproof glass. This store had a number of small bottles that I had never seen before. One such bottle was this dark little bottle that was tucked behind some samples of Kahlua called Tres Leches Triple Cream Liqueur.

Now anything tres leche is downright decadent and often irresistible by my the standards of my sweet tooth. So even though I have been talking about doing things with a regard to sugar content, every once in a while I deserve to be a bad boy. No? Yes? Regardless, I'm going to take a break and indulge in some creamy goodness.

The Tres Leche website describes their product as so:
Tres Leches Triple Cream Liqueur was inspired by the Latin American cake that shares the same name. Our distinctive blend of only the finest Caribbean rum and rich cream captures the true essence of the dessert.

Tres Leches rich and creamy flavor brings out the creativity in each of us. It doesn't matter if you are a consumer, cook, bartender or mixologist you will quickly find the possible drink mixes and cooking applications are limitless.
That very well might be true but I'm going to be lazy and make a drink from the ones they have listed on their website. Since I have an almost empty bottle of Bacardi Coco, I decided that I wanted to make the following cocktail:
Coconut Cream Pie
1 1/2 oz. Tres Leches Triple Cream Liqueur
1 1/2 oz. Coconut Rum

Build and served over crushed ice
But right before I decided to mix it up. I changed my mind. I wasn't really in the mood for a cocktail. I actually wanted a hot cup of coffee. So I fired up my Keurig and make the following:
Tres Leche Coco Cafe
Donut House Coffee Pod
.5 oz Bacardi Coco
.5 oz Tres Leche Triple Cream Liqueur
Splash of Half and Half

Brew the coffee pod, add the Tres Leche, Bacardi Coco and Half and half. Stir and serve.
According to Kenneth Davids of CoffeeReview.com in October, 2009, he stated that the Donut House Coffee had the following profile:
Soft, caramel-like aroma with hints of milk chocolate and toast. An uncomplicated cup, medium body, flavor notes of cedar, caramel, nut and orange-toned citrus. Sweetness carries into the mildly nutty finish, with distant suggestions of molasses and chocolate.
That flavor profile with the small amount of alcohol that I added to it with the half and half made for a very balanced coffee. The aroma is very light in favor of the Tres Leche and the taste is very much coconut flavored coffee. There was no bitterness at all so there was no need for any extra sweetening.

Sometimes you just need an extra stronger cup of coffee. I'll get back to the Coconut Cream Pie at a later date.

Until Then, Happy Drinking
Sisco Vanilla

The Texas Tea

So after a lengthy conversation on drinks and shots with Kelli from down in Houston and undaunted by my messing up her River Elixir ;P she recommended I try making the Texas Tea. Now the Texas Tea is basically a Long Island Iced Tea with the addition of Bourbon to the mix.

As I make the cocktail, I just shake my head and laugh to myself wondering who the age over 25-years old would drink this cocktail. Well, lucky for me the Kahuna is more than a willing participant and welcomed the challenge of drinking some Texas Tea. Here is the recipe that I used:

The Texas Tea
1 oz rum
1 oz vodka
1 oz gin
1 oz tequila
1 oz bourbon whiskey
1 oz triple sec
1 oz sweet and sour mix

Build over ice, leaving Sweet and Sour and Coke for last. Stir and serve.

Before you gals and guys think me as being some uppity fool allow me to say something in my defense. Here in NYC, especially in the bar where I work, a usual demographic orders drinks like these. They are usually young drinkers (hence the over 25-year old line above) most of whom have yet to develop a proper drinking palate and they just want to get wrecked as fast as they can. And hey, this is coming from the dude who saw the devil sitting in his bed after multiple Red Devil cocktails within an hour. So trust me, I've been there. All I can say is "Ugh" on all the "Teas" that seem to have popped up in the last few years. Enough of that. Back to the Texas Tea and the Kahuna who thoroughly enjoyed it.

I tasted it. Shuddered and have to grudgingly admit that it doesn't taste that bad. The bourbon gives it a little kick that makes it somewhat more palatable than a Long Island. The Kahuna liked it and in the end, if the drinker likes it, then that works for me. Nice shirt Kahuna. Rock on!!!! BTW, Kelli: I'll give you this one. So its 3 out of 4. Right?

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Monday, July 30, 2012

The Fuzzy Goose Pimple

Never let it be said that the bar crew that works and hangs at the Bleecker Street Bar aren't the intrepid kind. After a long shift this past Saturday night, Buzz had a brainstorm and came up with an interesting concept. He had an idea to take his the cheesecake that came with his diner delivery, add vodka to it and shake the "f" out of it. Why? We'll isn't that the way inspiration works? This is how he made it:
The Fuzzy Goose Pimple
2oz Vodka
1oz Triple Sec
And a few pieces of Cheesecake

Place all in a shaker with ice and shake vigorously.
Interesting name isn't it? Can the cocktail live up to the name? The cocktail had an interesting consistency. It was somewhat grainy due to the cheesecake and few who tasted it said that it either needed more sugar or it (as in my case) it was just fine. Fellow bartender Ace suggested that we use Vanilla Vodka instead of regular Vodka. Alice said it was just awful. LOL. I guess three out of four ain't bad. We assumed that the grainy texture came from not shaking the cocktail enough. The cheesecake didn't liquify enough.

Now taking heed to Ace's suggestion and since Stoli Vanilla is my shot of choice I decided to make my own version of the cocktail. I decided to run with it and here's my version:
Nene's Cheesecake Surprise
2oz Stoli Vanilla
1oz Creme de Cacao
.5oz Grand Marnier
.25oz of Chambord
And a few pieces of Cheesecake

Shake over ice and pour into chilled cocktail glass. Drop cherry in and drizzle some Grenadine for color.
The consistency was definitely aided by a longer shake. The cocktail was think and creamy but not "goopy". The grenadine provided a nice sweet little surprise upon reaching the bottom. Buzz found it too sweet suggesting that perhaps adding the Grenadine was a bit too much. I also found it sweet but then I expected it to be. Chuck said it was dangerous. We all agreed that it was pretty awesome attempt. Not bad on the suggestion of a collection of bartenders and bouncers.

And a bit of disclosure of the name? My son's nickname is Nene and he is a cheesecake fiend. Loves it. So there is a nod to my baby boy.

What do ya'lls think. Let me know.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Pom-Cosmo

This cocktail recommendation came from my friend Chris C. He suggested that I make and try out a cocktail called the Pom Cosmo. Here is how he says it should be made:
2 parts Vodka (I perfer Ketel One)
dash of dry vermouth
juice of 1/2 of lime
1/2 packet of splenda
1 part midori
2 parts POM juice,

Pour all into a shaker with ice, shake and serve, garnish with a twist of a lime peel.
The drink has a beautiful deep purple color with a nice tartness to go with it. It is a little dry, crisp but flavorful. If I didn't mention to Marta that there was Midori in the cocktail she would have never guessed. I was worried that the POM juice would be too sweet for the cocktail but found that if it was sweet, the other ingredients balanced it out.

I like how it is a very classical cocktail that leans more towards the DeGroff Cosmopolitan in terms of tartness rather than the Cook Cosmopolitan. It is a cocktail that would definitely be enjoyed by those whose palate leans towards the kinds of flavor found in a standard Martini. For a more in depth description of both versions of the Cosmpolitan, please click on my blogpost The Cosmopolitan: Cook or DeGroff Versions.

I had Marta be the one to enjoy this cocktail and based on what you see in the picture below, the smile on her face says it all.

Thanks Chris for the recommendation. I'll keep this one in my back pocket when I need to impress or help someone impress their date.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Friday, July 27, 2012

44° North Mountain Huckleberry Flavored Vodka

In a bit of a pleasant surprise at the end of work on Thursday, Alice gave me a tasting of 44 North Huckleberry flavored vodka. Now Alice has gluten issues and is quite limited as to what she can drink. So when she received the bottle as a gift and asked if I wanted to have a taste how could I say no. Right? Plus every time I hear the word Huckleberry I'm reminded both of Huckleberry Hound and of Phil Rizzuto calling Bill White a "Huckleberry" during the Yankee broadcasts of my youth. So armed with that particular backstory, here we go.

I poured a small amount in a glass and took a few sniffs. The Vodka was very aromatic and didn't give off any kind medicinal "rubbing alcohol" kind of smells. The reason Alice can drink this Vodka over other ones is that this one is made with Idaho Potatoes.

Here is how the Vokda is described on the 44° North Mountain Huckleberry Flavored Vodka website:

As the first vodka approved to wear the Idaho Potato Commission's official seal, 44° North Mountain Huckleberry Flavored Vodka is the standard in Idaho potato vodkas. It is an ideal spirit for drinking chilled, straight-up, on the rocks, or in an infinite range of signature cocktails.

44º North Mountain Huckleberry Flavored Vodka is distilled from 100% Idaho Potatoes, blended with Rocky Mountain Water from the Snake River Aquifer, and then infused in our proprietary blend of all natural Huckleberries. 70 Proof (35% alcohol)
Upon tasting it warm the Vodka was nice and smooth. It was very tasty and fruitful in a natural non-synthetic kind of way that you find certain flavored Vodkas taste like. I find that this Vodaa would be good either mixed with Soda Water, Ginger-Ale or Lemonade as to not mask it's fruit flavor or having it straight up while being nice and cold.

I'd definitely recommended to those with or without gluten issues.

Here is one of the signature cocktail listed on their website:
Huckleberry Lemonade
4 oz. 44º North Mountain Huckleberry Vodka
6 oz. Lemonade
Combine vodka and lemonade. Serve over ice

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Good Morning To You

This little nugget of a shot comes from Elizabeth in the Pacific Northwest. She tends bar in the Seattle area and this is how she describes her shot:
You should try this one shot I make over here! I call it Good Morning ;) Crown with some buttershots mixed with an OJ back. Tastes like pancakes with syrup washed down with some OJ. Voila!
I asked her if it should be chilled or done straight up and here is what she recommends:
I tried it chilled, but I think it's better just straight. I mean, who likes cold maple syrup! lol But try out both and see what they like.
Sounds good to me. Can never go wrong with something that taste like pancakes with syrup washed down with OJ. Right? Let's whip this up.
Good Morning
1.5oz Crown Royal
.5oz Butterscotch Schnapps
Mix the Crown Royal and Butterscotch Schnapps.

Pour in a shot glass and drink the Orange Juice after shooting the shot.
So how did it taste?

I had Marta be my guinea pig for this shot before I decided to try it. Without telling her what it tasted like she said it first tasted very Christmas-y. Then after I mention the name of the shot, she said it reminded her exactly on how Elizabeth described it. Now its my turn.

I have to say, Elizabeth really does have one heckuva shot here. The syrup taste that is often found on pancakes pops out with a little kick from the Crown Royal and the OJ just smooths it all out. All I needed was some bacon to make it complete. Thanks for the recommendation.

The ironic thing is that I came up with another shot that is similar to Elizabeth's shot at around the same time I got her message. It has a breakfast theme with a Canadian whisky as being the main part of the shot. Here it is:
Crazy Moose Shot
3/4 oz Canadian Club Whisky
1/4 oz Maple Syrup

In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine the ingredients. Shake well and strain into shot glasses.

I'm not sure if I am quite ready for the Crazy Moose Shot after having a Good Morning. I'll get back to that one at a later date.

Until Then Keep Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The River Elixir

Close your eyes and imagine that you're floating downstream on the River Guadelupe in New Braunfels, Tx and as you float the hours away, you have a nice big jug of The River Elixir. Now you may ask what is a River Elixir. Well, folks, here is the recipe as given to me by Ms. Kelli from down in the Lone Star State.
The River Elixir
Equal Parts of Malibu Rum and Vodka
Fruit Punch to fill
Ok. I used Snapple Fruit Punch and was told that it was a little too pink. I didn't make it right. Sorry I didn't use a thicker fruit punch. I guess I'll have to go back to the drawing board on this one.

Anyways, since I have this one in front of me, how does it taste. I taste the Malibu. Its what comes out since the fruit taste of the Snapple Fruit Punch is rather subtle and as we know Vodka really doesn't have much of a taste. The Vodka is only there since I know its there. I made the drink. If you want a strong fruity drink that'll do the job of drinking such a drink then I guess this one works. For me? Not so much. This would be good as a shot. That's exactly how I'm going to finish this one off.

But as I was later told, the ingredients as were given to me may have been wrong. Where I screwed up was that I needed to use an actual fruit punch (Not Snapple, Sorry guys) and equal parts of Vodka and Bacardi Light not Malibu Rum (FYI, that's not my fault). From what I gather, its the kind of punch that one drinks that tastes like fruit punch and since both spirits have virtually no flavor, they get masked by the juice and deliver a silent blow. I am assuming that it would look more like the Red Devil I made the other night. Just like this one down here (Author's Note This is the picture of the Red Devil, Not the River Elixir):

Sorry I screwed up your drink Kelli. Let's see who comes into the bar that I can get to taste an actual River Elixir.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

As an aside: For the record. Some people asked if I was upset (including Kelli) due to the tone they perceived in my post. I wasn't upset at Kelli or even myself. I just don't like to screw up any recommendations that come my way from those of you who take time out to do so. So if I came across in that manner, I apologize.


White Chocolate Amaretto Shots

So my friend Angela the other night was mentioning that she was making White Chocolate Amaretto shots for her friend's 40th Birthday. So I see that and decide that I want to make my own shots.

Ideally, I would use the Godiva White Chocolate Liqueur and Amaretto Disaronno. But to be honest, the Godiva is a bit pricey and I don't have one handy. This is a drink that I would like to do on the cheap to get more bang for my buck. But if I was to make it with Godiva and Disaronno herer is the recipe:
White Chocolate Amaretto Shots
1oz Godiva White Chocolate Liqueur
.5oz Amaretto Disaronno

Build over ice, shake and strain into a shot glass.
Simple enough no? Here is how I would make it with other ingredients:
White Chocolate Amaretto Shots
1oz White Creme de Cacao
.5oz Amaretto
.5oz Half and Half or Soy Milk (For those who are lactose intolerant)

Build over ice, shake and strain into a shot glass.
As you can see from the picture, the shot is nice and creamy with a stronger chocolate taste with a subtle amaretto flavor in the background. It is very light shot that anyone can have during a long night of partying, especially when Angela is partying. Right?

Happy 40th to your friend my dear. I'll be there in a few months.

Until Then, Happy Drinking
Sisco Vanilla

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Red Devil

Since I harked back to 1995 in my post A Grasshopper and the Kahuna I've decided to go back to Nyack, NY and Bruxelle's In addition, Manny was so kind as to ask me to relate this particular booze filled story so here goes.

As I stated earlier, we worked a place called Bruxelle's in 1995. It was my first bouncing job and definitely a fun place to work. Think of Bleecker Street Bar in an remodeled former strip club that serves food on the edge of Main Street in Nyack, NY. When we were allowed to drink I'd partake of the Grasshopper shot recently profiled and a drink called the Red Devil.

Like I also mentioned in the last post, I was much less selective about what I would drink and this sweet and powerful drink would go down nice and fast. Here is the recipe for a Red Devil:

Red Devil
1 1/2 oz vodka
1 1/2 oz peach schnapps
1 1/2 oz Southern Comfort® peach liqueur
1 1/2 oz sloe gin
2 oz triple sec
2 oz orange juice
1 splash grenadine syrup

Mix the spirits into an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Add the juice and grenadine, and shake. Serve in a pint glass.
Ugh!!! I shudder to think that I would drink multiples of this drink within an very short amount of time. So as the story goes, I did indeed have a couple of these within an hour or so and by the time we drove back from Nyack to Astoria, I was pretty loaded. So I get home and go to crawl into bed and who do I see laying down in the bed. Yup the Red Devil himself. He reminded me of the devil on the deviled ham cans, with a pointy beard. Like this guy.

I was like WTF???? And went into the bathroom to wash my face hoping homie would be gone when I was done but alas he was not to be deterred. When I went back, he was still there patting the bed to have me lay down. I was like whatever, I was drunk, tired and wanted to go to sleep. So I did. Lay down next to the Red Deviled Ham dude.

Man those were some crazy times. And since I am NOT making the Red Devil to drink (That drink would jack my sugar up through the roof). I was trying to find a picture online of what the Red Devil looks like but fate works in mysterious ways. Luckily for me, the Kahuna was more than enthusiastic to try it out. Thanks Kahuna:

If you see the Devil man after a few of these, tell him I said what's up. LOL.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Happy National Tequila Day Part II

I took a nice long 5-mile walk today, worked on taking some pictures down by Classon Point Park in the Bronx and in honor of a nice afternoon well spent, I decided to make a variation of my Agave Margarita. Hey, it is National Tequila Day right? Why not have another cocktail. For this one, I altered the recipe somewhat from the original. Here is the original:
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 and pour into the glass.

Here is the one I used for today's cocktail:
La Agave Rubia
2oz Sauza Hornitos Tequila Plata
1oz Grand Marnier
1oz Fresh Lime Juice
.5oz Agave Nectar
Splash of Lemonade

Fill a glass with ice. Add the tequila, Grand Marnier, agave nectar, lime juice and lemonade to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake and pour into the glass.
The drink was quite refreshing after my walk. The agave and Grand Marnier were the sweet aspects of the cocktail while the tartness came from the lime juice. The Hornitos Plata just lounged back hanging out waiting to be drank with the rest of the ingredients. Que rico!!! So nice I had to make another one.

Now go out and have a few tequilitas.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Happy National Tequila Day

Oralé!!! Today is National Tequila Day. To celebrate the occasion I've decided to make a variation of the John Collins cocktail that I made for Amanda last week. This one is called El Cuāuhtemōc Collins.

Cuāuhtemōc was the Aztec ruler of the famed city of Tenochtitlan from 1520 to 1521 and nephew to Aztec ruler Moctezuma. The name Cuāuhtemōc means "One That Has Descended Like an Eagle", often referred to in English as "Swooping Eagle". Plus I thought the name sounded cool for a Tequila cocktail. LOL. Here is the recipe:
Cuāuhtemōc Collins
2oz Tequila Resposado (I used Hornitos)
.5oz Fresh Lemon Juice
.5oz Fresh Lime Juice
1tsp Splenda
Club Soda to Fill

Build ingredients (except Club Soda) in shaker half full of ice and shake vigorously. Pour into a pint glass with ice. Top off with Club Soda.
As the John Collins, the Cuāuhtemōc Collins is quite refreshing. I like the subtle flavor differences that the lemon and lime juices bring to the drink as opposed to just the lemon juice. It is a nice cocktail to have an a nice hot summer day sitting on a beach in Alcapulco or Cancun.

Vamos carnal. A celebrar con dos o tres tragos de tequilas!!!!

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Monday, July 23, 2012

A Grasshopper For The Kahuna

The Kahuna has been on a roll lately at the bar and he had asked me if I had an idea for something that was a blend of chocolate and mint in my arsenal. I wish I had some Godiva Liqueurs at my disposal. I really do prefer the silkiness and richness that Godiva gives cocktails rather than using the Creme de Cacao. But since I need to improvise using what's available, I think I came up with something. In thinking of something on the mint side, I thought back to my early days in the bar business when I worked a the door at a bar in Nyack called Bruxelle's. Now this was in 1995 when I was less selective in what I would drink. A couple of regulars were fond of this shot and when we were allowed to drink we did some with them. Ah those damn froggies we used to shoot. Quite tasty actually:
1 oz. Crème de Menthe (Green)
1 oz. Crème de Cacao (White)
1 oz. Cream/Half and Half

Pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well Strain into a shot glass or over ice.
The color reminds me of the milkshakes that McDonald's releases during the spring around the time of St. Patrick's Day. It is actually a kind of shot that can be made in advanced, stored in the fridge and served on St. Patty's day when someone asks for a green shot.

Ok Kahuna, here goes. Enjoy your chocolate mint drink. Hope you like it.

For the record, he did like it.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Strawberry Infused Vodka Cocktails

Today is the day that I decided to debut the Strawberry vodka. After about a month and a half of infusion, sitting and settling I've come up with two simple cocktails in which to use my mad scientist creation. At first smell, the vodka has a medium Strawberry aroma and at first taste the Strawberry flavor is prevalent though a bit to subtle for my expectations. Perhaps I thought that the vodka would be inundated with the Strawberry flavors like my Raspberry infused vodka was.

For the first drink I kept it basic.
Strawberry and Soda
2oz Strawberry Infused Vodka
Club Soda to Fill
Splash of Diet 7-up

Build over ice.
Very simple. The drink has a subtle red hue to it. The vodka just blends in with the soda and diet 7-up. Sneaking up on you as you finish your sip. Its not a strong drink in the least and I think that is why I like it. Its not heavy or harsh in the least.

For the second one I decided to make something a bit more flashy and fanciful. For this one I tried to steer away from using a sweet and sour as the non alcoholic base. As you'll see with the following recipe, I wasn't going for something that was overpowered by sweetness. Here goes:
La Fresa Fresca
4oz of Strawberry Infused Vodka
.5oz of Triple Sec
.5oz of Organic Coconut Water
1.5oz of Cranberry Juice

Build over ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously until very cold. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Since I was going for something that wasn't very sweet I think I hit the nail on the head. It has a very pretty red color (aided by the Cranberry juice) and has just the right amount of tartness (again thanks to the Cranberry juice) and sweetness (from the triple sec and coconut water). The Strawberry flavor is mingling nicely with the other ingredients. Someone who expects something sweeter might be put off by this cocktail.

Maybe I need to play around with adding and muddling some fresh fruit to these types of cocktails. I guess that's something I can do for another day. Any suggestions?

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Status of the Infusions

A few days ago I decided to finally work on the Strawberry Vodka infusion that I had been working on since the end of May. As I wrote about in my post 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.

So as you can see from the picture below, the month and a half infusion resulted in a deeply colored infusion. The strawberries that I had placed in the vodka had all lost their signature red color looking rather naked without them. The aroma coming off the vodka was amazing. Probably the second most aromatic infusion I've done after the raspberry vodka infusion.

Speaking about raspberry vodka, I'm currently working on a second batch, this time using a whole bottle of vodka and a whole pack of raspberries. I've been hesitant to make any drinks with my remaining raspberry vodka until the new batch is done. Plus I have plans for it with the next infusion I am going to touch on.

The two Blueberry vodka infusions are moving quite along. The Blueberry Ginger one (on the left) is much more aromatic due to the inclusion of the Ginger. Both this one and the Blueberry Vodka are both a deep blue/purple color. Anyone have any suggestions on what cocktail I can use the Blueberry Ginger infusion in? Come on folks, I know you have ideas swirling under your hats. Come up with something and I'll make it in your honor. As for the Blueberry vodka, though it is not as strongly scented as I thought it would be I'm satisfied with how it is coming along. I'm going to give it a little more time and make A Very Berry Martini with it and the other berry vodkas that I've infused up to now.

I still have the Carrot and Mango infusions working in the cabinet not quite sure how I am going to utilize them. I expected the carrot one to be a bit more livelier and maybe it will be. I was thinking of maybe using it in a Bloody Mary type of drink while I still think the Mango infusion would be good in a Tropical Punch of the sorts that I wrote about with the Ponche Tropical from yesterday.

The Honey Vodka Infusion is just sitting there marinating. I pick it up every so often. Give it a twirl and put it right back in its spot. I'm looking to give that bad boy a taste sometime in the Autumn. I'm looking forward to some Fall flavored cocktails to warm ya'lls up in the cooler nights to come.

Last but not least is a little Peach Vodka infusion that I am working on. I had two small peaches in the house and a little bit of vodka left in the bottle so instead of letting the peaches go to waste, I decided to put this little concoction together.

A few days ago on Twitter (if you don't follow me and by the way you should @SiscoVanilla) I had a brief conversation with Alicia (@BoozedInfused) of Boozed + Infused about what can be used to infused Cachaça after posting the following article Cachaça: Beyond a One-Note Samba. What she suggested was using fresh raspberries in the Cachaça infusion for three months. Thanks Alicia, now I have another infusion idea to add to the Bacon bourbon infusion I've been teasing Johnny with since the Big Apple Barbeque Block Party. If you haven't checked her website out you should waste no time in doing so. Her infusions are unique and amazing.

Ok folks, I think that's enough writing about booze (without drinking any) at 11:45am. I have a few new recipes that I am going to test out soon so keep an eye open for them.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Bacardi Coco aka Whatever Can You Mix With That

Inspiration comes in the most unexpected ways. An image, a song, a fleeting thought. In this situation it was a case of friendly trash talking. My buddy pal Kelli (who is an aficionado of the Bacardi Coco) inadvertently put me up to the challenge. In a random exchange she had stated that she liked to drink Bacardi Coco. And in that exchange she indirectly challenged me (or directly) by saying "It's Coconut Rum, Whatever u Can Mix That With, LOL =)" Well my dear, here is how I can mix it with. ;)

I looked at my ever growing stash of liquors and thought to myself what goes well with Coconut. The first thing that popped out to me was the Pineapple Vodka that I had infused and used in La Coquiña Linda post in June. Now what else goes with Coconut and Pineapple. Hmmm, somehow the image of a Coconut, Pineapple and Lemon flavored cake came into mind. Yummy. Since I was also challenged on how sweet the drink might be, I decided to make the following cocktail:
Don Coco Limón
2oz Bacardi Coco
2oz Infused Pineapple Vodka
4oz Minute Maid Light Lemonade

Build over ice and stir.
This cocktail is very tasty. The Coconut flavor pops while the lemon and pineapple flavors are very subtle and hang out in the background like the horn section in a merengue band. The drink itself isn't sweet in the least since I used the light lemonade.

For the next cocktail I decided to make a Tropical Punch of sorts. Luckily for me I have been stockpiling juices and liqueurs for just such an occasion. Here is my recipe for El Ponche Tropical
El Ponche Tropical
2oz Bacardi Coco
2oz 99 Bananas
3oz Goya Diet Tamarind Juice
3oz Goya Diet Mango Juice
3oz Goya Diet Guayaba (Guava) Juice

Build over Orange Juice Ice Cubes (I still had some left over from way back in the OO7 Sisco Style Recipe from May)
The banana and guayaba flavors seem to come out stronger than the coconut rum and the other juices though you can sense that they are there dancing the afternoon away. It really does invoke a feel of the caribbean, man (Sorry couldn't help that one). The flavors are all bopping to the soca beat. Can't you hear the steel drums playing in the background?

Now as the orange ice melts into the punch, it adds an extra level of flavor. The citrus of the Orange just jumps right into the now formed conga line that has developed with all the flavors. Here is what the original recipe for the punch looks like in a Martini or Cocktail glass.

Now, I'd be remiss to ignore the recipe for the original drink that started the conversation. Ms. Kelli likes to have herself some Bacardi Coco with Coke. Very straight and to the point. Here is her recipe for it:
Bacardi Coco and Coke
1.5oz of Bacardi Coco
Coke to Fill

Build over ice and fill with Coke.
I have to admit. The Bacardi Coco and Coke is 100x better with Coke than having it with let's say Malibu (though I do drink it with Diet Pepsi but whose keep track, right?). It just doesn't taste as synthetic and thick as the Malibu does. Thanks to you Ms. Kelli for finding another Bacardi to add to the stable of Bacardi Select, Black Razz and Oakheart to the Sisco Vanilla liquor cabinet.

Now go out and get yourselves some. Cause Sisco Said So.

Until Then, Happy Drinking
Sisco Vanilla

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Mr. John Collins

I had the absolute pleasure of having Amanda (@winenshine) and John come into the bar last night. As usual the company was delightful and I was able to stretch my bartender legs a bit with a few cocktails that they asked me to make for them. If you haven't had a chance to read Amanda's work as a contributor to The Spir.it website you need to. Here is a link to her articles: Amanda on Spir.it

I made a Vieux Carre for John and since I wasn't able to make one for myself with the necessary ingredients. When I do, I'll post about it. For Amanda, I made a perfect Manhattan and the drink that I list in the title: A John Collins.

Now the history behind the family of Collins drinks (and if you haven't noticed there are more Collins drinks than Michael Keaton clones in Multiplicity) dates back to the 1830's to a pair of Irish songwriting brothers. According to David Wondrich in his book Imbibe, Charles and Frank Sheridan (grandsons of Anglo-Irish playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan) wrote a nice little ditty which included the following verse:
"My name is John Collins, headwaiter at Limmer's,
Corner of Conduit Street, Hanover Square,
My chief occupation is filling brimmers
For all the young gentlemen frequenters there."
As the verse states, Limmer's Hotel was located in Hanover Square, London on the corner of Conduit and George Streets. For an interesting description of what kind of place Limmer's Hotel was (is?), check out the following paragraph from Chapter XXV of Edward Walford's Hanover Square and Neighbourhood in the Old and New London: Volume 4 published in 1878 and located on the British History Online Digital Library Resource:
At the corner of Conduit Street and George Street is Limmer's Hotel, once an evening resort for the sporting world; in fact, it was a midnight "Tattersall's," where nothing was heard but the language of the turf, and where men with not very clean hands used to make up their books. "Limmer's," says a popular writer, "was the most dirty hotel in London; but in the gloomy, comfortless coffee-room might be seen many members of the rich squirearchy, who visited London during the sporting season. This hotel was frequently so crowded that a bed could not be had for any amount of money; but you could always get a good plain English dinner, an excellent bottle of port, and some famous gin-punch."
That sounds like my kind of place. Wondrich says that the gin-punch served at Limmer's eventually got the Tom Collins name attached to it. Digging a little deeper, Gary Regan in his article The Cocktailian: The story behind the story of a drink with no name states:
The drink known as the John Collins was made with aged - oude - genever gin, a Dutch product with a whisky-ish body and subtle juniper notes. By the mid-1870s, though, a similar drink, this one calling for Old Tom, a sweetened gin, had been born. Enter Tom Collins - named, quite obviously, for the style of gin it employed. Fruit of the loins of John Collins.
Alrighty then. Now we're rolling along but I have a bit of a confusion here. If the original John aka Tom Collins was made with Genever and later Old Tom gin, when did it gain Bourbon instead of Gin. Could it have been once the recipe crossed the pond from London to the United States? Using Bourbon as an American Twist on the classic recipe? I'm not sure. I'll keep looking it up. But back to Amanda's cocktail. Here's the recipe from Drinksmixer.com:
John Collins
2oz bourbon whiskey used Wild Turkey
1oz fresh lemon juice
1tsp superfine sugar
3oz club soda
1 maraschino cherry
1 slice orange

In a shaker half-filled with ice cubes, combine the bourbon, lemon juice, and sugar. Shake well. Strain into a collins glass almost filled with ice cubes. Add the club soda. Stir and garnish with the cherry and the orange slice.

I like it!!! Here is how it breaks down to the tongue. It was very effervescent due to the club soda, tart due to the lemon, sweet sugar and nice and strong due to the Wild Turkey. The best that I can describe it as being a beefed up bourbon-lemon flavored version of an Orangina. They still make Orangina?

Thanks to Amanda for recommending it. Need to add it to the database of go to cocktails.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Saturday, July 14, 2012

La Limonada Frambuesa

At home I try to keep my cocktails simple, especially since I tend to have one late at night when everyone is asleep. There's nothing like to sound of ice and booze shaking in a metal shaker to wake everyone up. LOL. So for those occasions when I do want a drink, I use a simple formula of two or three ingredients. For this post, I want to highlight a cocktail that has become a summer favorite of mine.

As I have profiled in earlier posts, I love having lemonade cocktails during the summer. In my post Lemonade Was A Popular Drink... I wrote about a drink I called El Murcielago Rosado which contained Bacardi Light Rum, Light Pink Lemonade and Diet 7-up. In this one I slightly change the ingredients, leaving the Light Pink Lemonade from the prior post. Here goes:
La Limonada Frambuesa
2oz. Bacardi Black Razz
4oz. Light Pink Lemonade
Diet Ginger Ale to fill

Build Bacardi Black Razz and Light Pink Lemonade over ice in an Old Fashioned glass. Top off with Diet Ginger Ale.
I love how the flavors of the Black Razz and Pink lemonade blend together with the Diet Ginger Ale giving the drink a bit of effervescence. It is an easy and refreshing drink to make on one of these hot evenings this summer. Try it. I think you'll like it.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Friday, July 13, 2012

La Corona Del Toro Part I

This drink comes to me from way down in Houston Texas. It was recommended to me by the beautiful foodie known as Kelli. Yes folks, she's such a diva that she goes by just one name ;) Her suggestion for a drink for me to profile is something a bit different for me. Its a simple combination of two ingredients one of which is something that I don't ever drink: Red Bull.

Unless you've been living under that rock in the GEICO commercials, Red Bull is one of the ever popular energy drinks that are currently on the market. According to the article Selling energy: How Dietrich Mateschitz turned Red Bull into a cult tipple from the Economist Red Bull is a mix of taurine, detoxicants, caffeine, sugar and vitamins and it is based on a Thai tonic syrup called Krating Daeng. For a more in depth article on what is in Red Bull, click on Patrick Di Justo's article What's Inside: Red Bull from Wired.com. Tonic syrups and drinks are heavily popular in Asia and specifically in Japan and are often used as quick "pick me ups", preventive hangover elixirs, post-bender hangover remedies and as mixers with such spirits as Vodka. For a funny description on some of the different hangover cures found in Japan, click on Japanese Hangover Cures by Gaijintonic.

As any bartender can tell you Vodka and Red Bull (or any other energy drink) is a popular order during the weekends and this drink here pays homage to that in a bit of a different spin. Unlike mixing vodka with the Red Bull, La Corona Del Toro (as Kelli named the cocktail) is made with Crown Royal Canadian Whisky rather than a clear spirit. Here is the recipe I was given:
La Corona Del Toro
2oz. Crown Royal
Red Bull to Fill

Pour Crown Royal in an old fashioned glass and fill with Red Bull.
Pretty simple, no? Here lies the rub. I took a ribbing from Ms. Kelli about using the Sugar Free version of Red Bull. For those of you who read this blog often, you'll notice that I tend to use the Diet or non sweetened version of juices and/or sodas. After a few more minutes of ribbing, I got the ok to use the Sugar Free version. Whew!!!! That was close. Here is the recipe I used with a nod to Kelli's original:
La Coronita Del Toro
2oz. Crown Royal
Sugar Free Red Bull to Fill

Pour Crown Royal in an old fashioned glass and fill with Sugar Free Red Bull.
Since its Sugar Free, my bull had a smaller crown than her bull. LOL. Well let's see what this tastes like to someone who doesn't drink Red Bull. I have admit that I (and Pete who second tasted it) was pleasantly surprised. It was not what I expected it to be. The Crown Royal blended seamlessly with the Sugar Free Red Bull. Let's see what kind of effect the Red Bull has on me. The only other time I drank a Red Bull, I felt like I was going to fly out of my kicks. Talk about Red Bull giving you wings. ;)

Thanks Kelli for the recommendation. Salud!!!

On a bit of last minute ribbing by Ms. Kelli, I was told that upon her return to NYC, I need to have the Corona Del Toro as its meant to be drunk with regular Red Bull and not that Sugar Free stuff. So I guess this is to be continued.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Saunders Special

I try to keep track of what my friends like to drink and ask them to give me recommendations for postings. This one comes from my good friend Justin who has this drink in honor of his father. Mr. Saunders is the propierter of the Saunders Vineyard in Carmel Valley, California and the Vinter of Boëté Wines (pronounced bwah-TAY). Give their website a look and order some vino folks. Back to the Saunders special.

Though Mr. Saunders likes his drinks in a certain and particular manner, Justin has decided to craft a drink in honor of his father who is a former boxer in the Marines who fought against and defeated George Foreman while in the Marines. As we all know, Foreman who would eventually become an Olympic Medalist and the Heavyweight Boxing Champion of the World. This drink is simple to make and very enjoyable. Here it is:
Saunders Special
1.5oz Stoli Vodka
1.5oz Club Soda
Splash of Orange Juice.

Build Vodka and Club Soda over ice in an old fashioned glass. Add splash of OJ for a little color.
That's it. A pretty simple way to honor one's dad. Gotta love it.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Coffee Based Cocktails

Since the weekend was a little slow at work, I decided to play around with making some coffee based cocktails. I've never really entertained making any type of coffee cocktails in the past since I'm not a fan of cold coffee. I can't quite say what it is, but I really don't like the flavor of cold coffee. Even in the hottest of hot weather here in NYC, I'll have a hot cup of coffee. Even coffee ice cream is hard for me to enjoy. But for this post, I decided to try and put my aversion to cold coffee aside and experiment with two different coffees: Harmony Bay and Cafe Bustelo.

I picked up a can of Harmony Bay French Vanilla Creme coffee for the bar. Since Pete and I are the java fiends of the bar, there wasn't much left in the pot when I decided to use it for a cocktail. Since the flavor profile was based in Vanilla like my non de plume, I decided to add my shot of choice to the coffee. I also decided to experiment with some White Creme de Cacao for a little chocolate flavor and some butterscotch schnapps for additional body. Here is the approximate recipe I used:
French Vanilla Coffee Martini
2oz. French Vanilla Coffee
2oz. Stoli Vanilla
.5oz. White Creme de Cacao
.5oz. Butterscotch Schnapps

Build all over ice. Shake vigorously an strain into chilled cocktail glass.

I immediately take a whiff and the vanilla from the coffee and butterscotch jump out at me. The cocktail has a very light amber color to it. Upon tasting it the cocktail is very has a hint of sweetness and an airy quality to it. It is a very simple and basic cocktail.

For the second one I decided to use a stronger coffee. Cafe Bustelo's signature yellow can is something that many of us 1st and 2nd generation children of Latino immigrants grew up with in our kitchens. It has a strong espresso profile that can be made in a regular coffee maker or with a colador as my mom would use. For those of you who don't know what a colador is, it is often referred to as a "Coffee Sock". Here is an article entitled How to use a coffee sock: A cheap way to make coffee for more information on how to use one.

I used the Bustelo right after brewing to make the following cocktail. I decided to change the cordials used for flavoring with the coffee. This time I used Frangelico Hazelnut Liqueur, Bénédictine D.O.M. and Chambord Black Raspberry Liqueur.

For those of you not familiar with these cordials, Frangelico is made from an infusion of Tonda Gentile Hazelnuts, water, alcohol and other natural flavors. The hazelnuts come from the Piedmont section of Northern Italy and is a creation of some local monks who have been making what we now call Frangelico for the last 300 years. Bénédictine D.O.M. (the D.O.M. stands for Deo Optimo Maximo which means - To God most good, most great). is made from a secret recipe of 27 different herbs and spices. Originally Bénédictine began in 1510 in the Abbey of Fécamp, in Normandy, France, when the Benedictine monk, Dom Bernardo Vincelli, created a secret elixir that was lost to history. In 1863, Alexandre Le Grand, a merchant and collector of religious art, discovered the lost recipe for this elixir in his collection and after a series of attempts, recreated the elixir we now know as Bénédictine D.O.M. I profiled Chambord Black Raspberry Liqueur in a prior post Dawn's Metropolitan Cocktail so to avoid repeating myself, I'd recommend you click on the provided link. BTW, you should click on it anyway. I can use all the clicks I can get. But I digress.

Since the cocktail contains two liqueurs created by monks, I've decided on the following name for the recipe:
The Energized Monk
3oz Cafe Bustelo
.5oz Frangelico
.5oz Bénédictine D.O.M.
.5oz Chambord

Build all over ice. Shake vigorously an strain into chilled cocktail glass.
This cocktail had a darker color with a more bitter profile than the earlier cocktail (I tried adding .5oz of Kahlua in the mix but found that it did nothing but make the cocktail sweeter). I found that the cocktail wasn't as strong as I thought it would be. I made a couple for Marta and one of her friends and they enjoyed the taste of the cocktail. Perhaps I thought using a stronger blend of coffee would have resulted in a stronger flavored cocktail.

Another thing that I'm not sure of is whether to use the coffee while hot or having it sit and cool down to room temperature. I'm not certain whether using it hot from the pot would create a more diluted cocktail since I need to use more ice to chill it. I guess I would have to try to make it with room temperature Bustelo and see if there is any difference. Also, as per Johnny's suggestion, a few coffee beans in the bottom of the cocktail would also add another level of flavor and an interesting garnish to the mix.

All in all I would say that these two cocktails were an interesting attempt by someone who doesn't enjoy cold coffee. I guess I'll continue to play around with flavors when I get my hands on some other types of flavored coffees.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Friday, July 6, 2012

The Stinger and the Playboy Millionaire

More and more I'm finding out that cocktails and history seem to go hand in hand. The Stinger as a perfect example of this. The Stinger is an old school type of cocktail that is linked with old New York money. Though the cocktail had been known during the early 1900's, it wasn't until a wealthy, hard-drinking, gambling sportsman playboy of the last name of Vanderbilt that made it famous.

Reginald Claypoole Vanderbilt (1880-1925) was the youngest son of Cornelius Vanderbilt II, grandson of William Henry Vanderbilt, and great- grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt. He is also the father of famous fashion designer Gloria Vanderbilt. Reginald (Reggie to his friends) loved the fast life: horses, automobiles, gambling and drinking at a time when drinking had been made illegal because of the National Prohibition Act (1919-1933).

According to the New York Social Diary listing for Laura And Harry Cushing (Great-grandson to Reginald Claypoole Vanderbilt):
Reginald Vanderbilt was one of the most famous playboys of his day. Today he’d be diagnosed a compulsive gambler and an alcoholic, and coming from the wealth that he came from, he’d probably be in, on his way to, or on his way out of re-hab. Unfortunately such opportunities were unavailable in those days to even men as rich and privileged as Reggie Vanderbilt. So instead he drank and gambled away about $25 million (think a half billion in today’s dollars) and died in 1925 at age forty-five.
Told you gals and guys that I like a good backstory. But how does the playboy link to the Stinger? As I stated before, it is believed that the Stinger had been known in the early 1900's but it took a profile of the aforementioned Reginald Claypoole Vanderbilt to bring the Stinger to light.

In his book "Imbibe!: From Absinthe Cocktail to Whiskey Smash, a Salute in Stories and Drinks to "Professor" Jerry Thomas, Pioneer of the American Bar" author David Wondrich mentions that in a 1923 profile of Vanderbilt, Reggie described the Stinger as follows:
(The Stinger) is a short drink with a long reach, a subtle blending of ardent nectars, a boon to friendship, a dispeller of care.
Because of who Vanderbilt was, Wondrich believes that The Stinger has always been considered a "Society drink". Here is the cocktail as listed in Mr. Boston's Official Bartenders Guide 75th Edition:
The Stinger
1.5 oz. brandy
.5 oz. white crème de menthe

Shake with ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass
I'm also reading "Boozehound: On The Trail of the Rare, The Obscure and the Overrated In Spirits" by Jason Wilson and he has a bit of a variation for the Stinger. Wilson is the Spirits columnist for the Washington Post and based on his research into Vanderbilt and how he liked his Stinger Wilson says that the addition of a dash of Absinthe to the Stinger with Cognac instead of Brandy creates the preferred drink of Vanderbilt know as the Stinger Royale. Here is the recipe as per Wilson:
Stinger Royale
2 oz. cognac
.5 oz. white crème de menthe
1 dash of absinthe
Lemon peel twist, for garnish

Fill a shaker two-thirds full with ice. Add the cognac, crème de menthe, and the absinthe. Shake well, then strain into either a chilled cocktail glass (if you like being correct) or into an old-fashioned glass with 3 or 4 ice cubes (if you like a nicer drink). Garnish with the lemon peel twist.
Now is there a difference between using cognac as opposed to brandy? This article Cognac by George Delgado does a good job explaining the difference. The short story is that a brandy and a cognac are basically the same, the difference is that order for a Brandy to be called a Cognac, it needs to be produced in the designated growing areas in the Charentes region of France. This Cognac region is located just north of Bordeaux in Western France.

So what do I think of the Stinger. I found that it has a very interesting taste. Both Pete and I agree that the drink has a very Butterscotch type of aftertaste to it. Marta feels (and I agree) that It has a very light and summery feel. It is definitely NOT what I expected. Maybe I expected the Brandy to not play well with the Creme de Menthe. You can't even tell that there is a hint of mint in it. I was wrong in feeling that this cocktail would not work for me. To be honest, I'm not sure how often I would drink one of these but I would recommend it to someone looking for a light, summery historical cocktail. Anyone out there have an impression they would like to share on The Stinger? Let me know.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Happy 4th of July

Just a little taste of two American originals on the 234th Birthday of the United States of America. A 24oz Yuengling Lager, which is the oldest brewery in the U.S. with roots stretching back to 1829 and a shot of Knob Creek

Happy Birthday America
Sisco Vanilla

Monday, July 2, 2012

End of June Infusions

I started a few new infusions about 10 days ago and I'm just now posting about them. I decided to try a blend of two different ingredients. For this task I chose Ginger and Blueberry. Something told me that both spicy taste of the Ginger would work well with the blueberries. I infused both of these together in Vodka. For the second one I kept it simple with just Blueberries infusing in Vodka. Here is what they looked like at the point of infusing:

At this point about 10 days later the infusions have taken a deep blue/purple color and the Ginger Blueberry infusion smells amazing with the Ginger taking point in the aroma profile. I'll come back to it when I'm ready to debut it.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla