Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Nutcracker

I took a trip down to Coney Island with Momma-san and the kids for a day of fun in the sun and surf. We had a very good time and decided to have a few impromptu cocktails on the beach. Now keep in mind that it is illegal to drink alcoholic beverages on NYC beaches and public places but that never stops those intrepid to drink and sell said beverages from trying. So while I was in the water, Momma-san bought what was known as a Nutcracker. Now here's a little back history when it comes to the Nutcracker.

As late as September of 2010 the New York Times had published an article from Trymaine Lee entitled In Harlem, a Hint of a Previous Era as Peddlers Stealthily Quench a Thirst in which Lee describes what Nutcrackers are and what is their purpose as a throwback to the old bootlegged liquor of Prohibition. Now keep in mind, this isn't quite bathtub gin but the drinks are being made with a variety of unknown liquors and flavors to make a drink that is being sold illegally on the streets and in my case the beaches. It can be quite dangerous and you choose to purchase and consume these at your own risk. Given that disclaimer, here is a quick description of what Nutcrackers are from the article:
“It's definitely a summer drink, and I try to serve them as cold as possible,” said a regular nutcracker seller, a man in his early 30s who goes by the name of Kool-Aid and asked that his full name not be published. “It's a fruity drink, so you don’t have to sip it with your face all scrunched up; you feel really nice without getting totally bombed out.”

The man said he made six gallons at a time in a big plastic water cooler jug, mixing 160-proof Devil’s Springs vodka, 151-proof Bacardi 151 rum, Amaretto, whatever sweet liqueur he had on hand and a variety of juices depending on the desired flavor, including cranberry, mango, pineapple and peach nectar.
After reading that I cringed. LOL. Luckily for me I ignorance was bliss as I drank the Nutcracker. On a side note, as told to me by Kelli, the Nutcracker resembles her River Elixer. Based on its consistency actually resembles the one I made since it is very light in color and it's not very "fruit punchy". But no doubt it is probably just as silent but deadly in its potency as hers. In the little plastic bottles, it reminded me of the quarter water drinks we used to get on our way to and from school back in the late 1980's and early 1990's. For those of you who don't know what quarter waters are check out the picture below. So what did I think about the Nutcracker?

Like Kool-Aid says in the article it was a definitely a fruity drink that I didn't quite have to sip and did get me bombed out. LOL. You can't even tell that there was booze in there and it snuck up on me. What's funny is that I went to sleep at 10:30 p.m. and woke up the next day at 10:30 a.m. For those of you who know me, no way do I ever sleep for 12 hours straight. Why do I think that it's funny?

When we bought the Nutcrackers on the beach, a woman named Jackie who was sitting next to us told us that she thinks they put Ny-Quil in the drink. The last time she drank them on the beach, she said she fell asleep on for about two hours straight and was only awoke by some guys who wanted to talk to her and her friend. My friend Elizabeth up in the Pac NW of the previously posted Good Morning shot also mentioned if it had Ny-Quil in it. Based on my slumber I guess Ny-Quil is the secret ingredient. LOL. Any other Nutcracker stories out there you all want to share? Let me know.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Monday, August 27, 2012

On the Road to 40

Messieurs et Madames and everyone in between ;)

As I quickly approach my 40th birthday (in spectacular fashion), I've decided that I need to take better care of myself. So in order to do that, I have to scale back a bit on my tippling and imbibing. No need to fret true believers, I'll still be sampling new cocktails and spirits and profiling those who I find willing to taste something new. I'll also be more than willing to try out any recommendations you may have in terms of cocktails, spirits and shots that you think I may like. So please keep sending me recipes. I also have some interesting ideas for Fall and Winter infusions so I'll still be cranking posts out. I will just do so in a more laid back and restrained manner.

Thank you to you all for your continued support. The ride to and beyond 40 will truly be something to behold.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Friday, August 24, 2012

Southern Comfort Bold Black Cherry

For today's post I've decided to try the first of the flavored whiskeys I have here in the house. I was feeling like having a bit of fruit flavor so I decided on the Southern Comfort Bold Black Cherry whiskey. As it is, the Southern Comfort brings back hazy and fuzzy memories of late nights shots of Soco-Lime at Down the Hatch on West 4th Street so I wanted to see if their Black Cherry offering could stand up. Southern Comfort itself has a very interesting history behind it that I would like to share.

According to the Southern Comfort website:
(In 1874) M.W. Heron was pouring drinks at McCauley's Saloon in New Orleans, USA. Heron soon realized his customers needed a smoother, more refined drink. So, he experimented with fruits, spices and flavors to create "Cuffs and Buttons." This drink would eventually become what we all know and love today as Southern Comfort. (In 1885) M.W. Heron renamed "Cuffs and Buttons" as Southern Comfort. His creation was dubbed "The Grand Old Drink of the South" at the World's Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition.
In terms of the Bold Black Cherry:
(In 2012) Reclaiming our roots as an original flavored spirit with fruit, spices and whiskey, Southern Comfort introduced Bold Black Cherry. 138 years of unique expertise went into this original concoction that is now available in the US, UK, and Ireland.
Now that we got the history out of the way, what do I think of the Southern Comfort Bold Black Cherry. I find that it has a little bit of a spicy and pleasing taste with a delay in the black cherry flavors. The aroma is also light on the cherry scent. I find that it is not as sweet or fruity as the original Southern Comfort. The website has a number of cocktails that they recommend to be used with the Bold Black Cherry. Here is one of the following recipes:
Southern Comfort Cherry & Coke Zero
1 1/2 oz. Southern Comfort Bold Black Cherry
4 oz. Coke Zero

Pour over ice & stir. Garnish with a cherry.
It sounds delicious. Possibly like a boozed up version of Dr. Brown's Black Cherry soda. But I decided that I wanted to make something different. Something that was not on the website. Since I had a open can of Diet 7-up from the Xanté Spirit tasting, I decided to use that instead.

Southern Comfort Big Bold Black Cherry and Diet 7-up
2oz Southern Comfort Big Bold Black Cherry
Diet 7-up to fill

Pour over ice & stir. Garnish with a cherry.
I find that the cocktail is very light and airy. The Diet 7-up adds a level of bubbliness and the SoCo Cherry just adds the right amount of cherry flavor. Neither ingredient overpowers the other. It is a very simple and tasty cocktail.

I have to admit that I prefer the Southern Comfort Bold Black Cherry over the original Southern Comfort. Any suggestions on what other cocktails I should try this in?

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Thursday, August 23, 2012

New Round of Infusions

For this round of infusions I've decided to take a different path on what to infuse. Up to now I have been primarily using vodka as the infusing spirit. With the exception of the Blackberry Vodka (which was not very fruit flavored) every other infusion has worked to or exceeded expectations. Aside from the Vodka infusions this round, I have also started two Rum infusions. Here we go.

Strawberry Kiwi Infused Vodka

Based on the relative success with the Strawberry Infused Vodka, I've decided to go back to Strawberries and this time I've added Kiwifruit into the mix. I'll admit, I've had very limited exposure to Kiwifruit and actually needed to research the fruit. Here is what I found out about it from the World's Healthiest Fruit website:
The kiwifruit is a small fruit approximately 3 inches long and weighing about four ounces. Its green flesh is almost creamy in consistency with an invigorating taste reminiscent of strawberries, melons and bananas, yet with its own unique sweet flavor.

Three days in the strawberries have started to lose their color in the vodka and have floated to the top while the Kiwifruit are also losing some of their color and are at the bottom of the jar. I'll give this a few weeks before cracking it open and giving it a taste.

Black Plum Infused Vodka

Black plums are also another fruit that I do not have much experience with aside from prunes. From what I've read, plums have a very light and sweet texture and flavor. Since prunes are considered "drupes" (fruits that have a hard stone pit surrounding their seeds) and are relatives to Peaches which I had a good result in infusing it in Vodka, I decided what the heck let's infuse some Black Plum in some Vodka.

As with the Strawberry Kiwi Infused Vodka, I'll wait a few weeks before cracking it open and seeing what it tastes like.

Strawberry Infused Rum

This is the first time I deviate from the Vodka model for infusions. I decided to use Castillo Rum for the infusion and since I had extra strawberries I decided to make a Strawberry flavored rum. I'm thinking that this world work wonders in a Strawberry Piña Colada to end the summer season. Any suggestions?

Already the rum has started turning red and the strawberries floating to the top.

Vanilla Infused Rum

This is the one that intrigues me the most since my nom-de-plume contains Vanilla extract I've been wanting to do a Vanilla flavored infusion. Why rum? Something about the rum and vanilla flavor seems to go hand-in-hand. Well, we'll see if they really do go hand-in-hand or just clash.

As you can seem the rum has already taken on a darker color due to the immersion of the Vanilla bean in the spirit. I put one whole bean in cut in half and I scraped the inside of a second bean and placed that in the rum. That is the reason for the sediment at that bottom of the jar. I am really looking forward to playing around with this infusion. Again, any suggestions on what I can use the Vanilla Rum with?

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

What is Xanté Spirit

I was in my local liquor store the other day picking up some Vodka for the new round of infusions that I am working on. While I was paying I noticed a small little bottle behind the bar called Xanté. I've never heard about this particular spirit and asked the cashier about it. He asked me if I wanted a taste of it. Hey, a free taste of something new can't go wrong, right? Well, yes it can but what the hey. Gotta live sometimes. Before I go into what it tasted like, allow me to introduce you to Xanté.

According to the Xanté website, Xanté is:
The premium liqueur Xanté is a perfectly balanced blend of sweet Belgium pears and cognac from specially selected French distilleries. Xanté is conceived with cognacs matured for four years in barrels made from the finest French Limousine Oak that draws out the rich amber colour and fragrant notes of spicy vanilla and pear. Xanté contains no artificial ingredients. Its maturing process results in natural sweetening and allows the sugar content to remain at 17 %.
Now that you know what it is, what did it taste like. At quick smell, the spirit does indeed give off a nice vanilla scent with some fruity undertones. It has a nice golden color and doesn't seem to be too thick. At first taste the cognac has a very pleasing pear taste to it which come across as natural. Unlike other cognacs that I tend to find quite strong to my palate, I could barely tell that this spirit was indeed a cognac. I really enjoyed the little sample that I tasted. Now that is not to say that I would feel the same after a number of cocktails and or snifters of Xanté but for the little bit I tasted it was enjoyable. Based on that I bought two small little "airplane" bottles.

I was looking at Xanté's Facebook page and found a recipe for a cocktail that I think I would enjoy. Here's the recipe they listed:
Xanté Lennart
1.5 oz of Xanté
.5 oz Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice
Sprite or 7-up

Pour Xanté and lime juice over ice in a highball glass. Top off with Sprite or 7-up, Garnish with a lime and enjoy.
For my purposes I'm using Diet 7-up rather than the regular version. After a quick stir I decided to dive in. I have to say this is an interesting cocktail. It is even with the Diet 7-up it is sweet. The cocktail also has some tart and bubbly facets. It also seems to elicit a little bit of a tingle on the back of my tongue and throat. Haven't really felt that since I first started tasting the bourbon. I'm not saying that it tastes like bourbon, just that it gives me a similar sensation. I"m not sure why. The Xanté isn't particularly spicy. The pear flavor really does tend to pop more than the lime and Diet 7-up.

I really like this cocktail but it would definitely have to be in small doses. For my tastes, the sweetness of the pear cognac might become too much after lets say three or four cocktails. For those who like a sweet cocktail, this is right up their alley.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

For Further Reading:
- Click Here for a more in-depth review of Xanté from the Passionate Foodie blogpage.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Very Berry-tini Cocktail

When I started making infused vodkas, one of the things I was going for was coming up with a cocktail that was made up of flavored vodkas that infused. Well folks, like Dr. Frankenstein said: I Did It!!!! It's Alive!!!! Well, maybe he didn't say it quite like that but you get my drift.

I took four of the berry flavored Vodka infusions and made them into a cocktail that I call The Very Berry-tini. Here is how I put it together:
The Very Berry-tini Cocktail
1oz Blackberry Infused Vodka
1oz Blueberry Infused Vodka
1oz Raspberry Infused Vodka
1oz Strawberry Infused Vodka
1.5oz Cranberry Juice
.5oz Homemade Sweet and Sour

Build over a half filled cocktail shaker with ice, shake vigorously and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
As you can see this is a liquor heavy cocktail and the blend of the berries with the sweet and sour makes for a very potent cocktail. It has a certain tartness to it which I would say is from the addition of the Cranberry juice and sweet and sour mix. It is not sweet in the least though the fruitiness of the berries works well with the tart elements. It is subtle in terms of tasting like it has a lot of alcohol, it is very strong. Two or three of these and it may be beddie-bye time.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Thursday, August 16, 2012

National Rum Day With Mojitos

Since today is national Rum Appreciation Day I've decided to commemorate the day with a classic run cocktail: The Mojito.
Hemingway by Felipe Parucci

The Mojito is a Cuban based cocktail immortalized by American author Ernest Hemingway. Being a favorite drink of his while in Cuba, it is said that he drank his Mojitos while at La Bodeguita del Medio (The little grocery story or pub in the middle). So much so that he was quoted as stating:

"My mojito in La Bodeguita, My daiquiri in El Floridita."
1.5oz Bacardi White Rum
1oz Fresh Lime Juice
2 Sprigs of Mint
2tsp of Splenda
Soda Water

Muddle the mint, splenda and lime juice in a glass. Fill the glass with ice and add the rum. Fill to the top with the Soda water. Stir slightly and serve.
Now please allow me some artistic license here. I used granulated Splenda rather than sugar. It works best for me with my plan of using less sugars and sweeteners in my cocktails. So given that disclosure we can move on.

Upon first taste, the sweetness of the Splenda and the herbal notes of the mint pop out. The rum slyly mingles with the fresh lime in the background as if they were dancing to a mambo or an old school salsa played by la Buena Vista Social Club. I can see how Hemingway could pass the day away in the sweltering Cuban heat knocking back the Mojitos at La Bodeguita.

I like how each flavor works together with the regular Bacardi silver. I sometimes find that the Bacardi silver's flavor rubs wrong against my palate. I guess that's why I prefer the darker Bacardi like the Select and the Ocho

I decided make a second one this time using the Bacardi Black Razz instead. Here is the recipe I used:
Black Razz Mojito
1.5oz White Rum
1oz Fresh Lime Juice
2 Sprigs of Mint
2tsp of Splenda
Soda Water

Muddle the mint, splenda and lime juice in a glass. Fill the glass with ice and add the rum. Fill to the top with the Soda water. Stir slightly and serve.
Now if you've read my posts in the past you know that I love the flavor that the Bacardi Black Razz brings to cocktails. And though this one tastes good, I just don't find that the Black Razz does anything to improve on the classic.

I guess the reason why original drinks are classic because they stand the test of time. Can't argue with Hemingway on this one.

Photo by Wolfgang Stock
Photo by Wolfgang Stock

Until Then, Happy Drinking
Sisco Vanilla

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Double Espresso Martini

I stated in my last post that I had two different cocktails while waiting for my train back home from Boston to NYC last Wednesday evening. Where the first cocktail was called the Southern Station Rum Punch and was not as sweet as I thought it would be, the next cocktail I chose was one that I believed would give a nice counter-balance to a sweet cocktail. For this one I ordered The Double Espresso Martini. This is the recipe as listed in the cocktail menu book:
The Double Espresso Martini
Van Gogh Double Espresso Vodka
Bailey's Irish Cream
Now I was intrigued by this cocktail since I've never tasted the Van Gogh Double Espresso Vodka. Actually I've never tasted any of their 22 flavored vodkas. Seeing a chance to do so in a cocktail was something that I couldn't pass over. What did I think about it?

I was correct in my thinking that it would be a perfect counter-balance to the Southern Station Rum Punch. Actually, the cocktail packs quite a punch. It is strong due to the blending of the Bailey's and the espresso flavor of the Vodka though the Bailey's seems to stand out in the forefront of color and flavor while the Vodka and the caffeine it seems to contain just hangout in the background delivering a subtle kick.

I must say that I really enjoyed this cocktail for the tingle that it seemed to give me. I was thoroughly satisfied with the cocktails I had at Clarke's at South Station. I look forward to hopefully being able to stop by there again on my next trip to Boston.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Southern Station Rum Punch

As I mentioned in my last post I spent a day in Boston last Wednesday, primarily at Fenway Park. I had one quick drink at the Cask'n Flagon before going into the game. At the game we had a number of different beers including the Narragansett Lager and of all things Mike Hard Lemonade. Hey it was wicked hot out there sitting in the 2nd row field level. LOL. The Mike's Hard Lemonade was actually quite refreshing in the Boston summer sun. Those were some awesome tickets. Thanks again to the Harpers for the tickets and for Momma-San for taking the day off so I could go. If you'd like to read more about my trip, click here and follow the links at the bottom of each post to read them in order: On The Way to Boston, Part I.

After my friends left the city and I did some souvenir shopping I decided to spend some relaxing time at Clarke's at South Station. As the name indicates, Clarke's is located inside of South Station which is where I was going to take the 9:30pm Amtrak train back to NYC. It is a nice bar which I would assume caters to commuters, business people and local workers coming to and from South Station. Their menu was simple but substantial chock full of bar food standards like wings and nachos plus burgers and salads. Their beer list was diverse lending attention to local brews such as Sam Adams and Harpoon. They also had an interesting cocktail menu. That's where I set my sights on.

The majority of the cocktails on their list seemed to fall on the sweet side. After I finished my perusal of the list, I decided on one called the Southern Station Rum Punch. One funny thing happened when I ordered the cocktail from the waitress. She asked me if I wanted that on the rocks instead of a cocktail glass. I'm not sure if that is a regular question that they ask. So I asked her if it was common that men ask for the cocktails on the rocks rather than in the cocktail glass. She gave me sly smile to indicate that it was so. I guess its common for dudes in Boston to not order their cocktails in a cocktail glass. Gentlemen, there is nothing wrong with having cocktails in a cocktail glass. It takes nothing away from your manliness. You'll look marvelous. LOL. Here is the drink as listed in the cocktail menu:
The Southern Station Rum Punch
Bacardi Razz
Bacardi Limon
Bacardi Coco
Pineapple Juice
The cocktail was very light and delicious. It was not very sweet surprising me since I saw the ingredients and thought to myself that this cocktail would shoot my sugar through the roof. It had a nice balance between the coco and the razz flavors. I can see how this can be a very deceptive cocktail due to its light and airy feel. A few of these can definitely knock you on your ass.

I highly recommend stopping by Clarke's at South Station if you ever want a cocktail or three =) before catching your train home from South Station. In my next post, I am going to profile the second cocktail that I had while at South Station The Double Espresso Martini.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Black 7

I recently took an impromptu day trip to Boston to meet up with my friends the Harpers and Daniel at the home of the Boston Red Sox: Fenway Park. You can read about my thoughts and exploits on my other blog page in the post: On The Way to Boston Part I. In that first post I mention that I capped the day and prepped for my trip by having a few post laundry cocktails. One such cocktail is a simple cocktail that I've dubbed The Black 7. Here is the recipe:
The Black 7
1.5oz of Bacardi Black Razz
Diet 7-up to Fill

Build over ice and serve.
See, simple enough to make and super tasty. The Black Razz's flavorful punch of taste blooms with the light citrusy bubbles of the Diet 7-up aiding the Black Razz to float to the surface. Its a great cocktail to have when just sitting around shooting the breeze after a long and eventful day which is what I did. I had a couple of cocktails while in Boston so I'll be talking about those in the next few days.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Mystery Cocktail

In the same vein that The Green Cocktail seemed to get lost in the shuffle, this little clusterfuck of a cocktail was also forgotten by me in more ways that one. Why do I refer to it as a clusterfuck? Well folks, to be honest with you, I have no idea what is in it. I seemed to have forgotten to write down the ingredients that were used. I believe that Alice started it off with possibly Vodka and Lime or Lemon Juice and I think that I may have added Bourbon to it. Now I can say with 100 percent certainty that I added Blue Curacao to the mix since the cocktail looks like Gargamel took a handful of Smurfs and smurfed them right up in a blender. Yummy. LOL.

Leave it to the Mayor of Bleecker Street Bar, the Kahuna to always be game to taste whatever might come his way in terms of cocktails. And see how the cocktail goes well with his shirt? Très Chic Monsieur Kahuna. Magnifique!!!!

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Green Dragon

This little cocktail seemed to have gotten lost in the shuffle. Last week the proverbial Mayor of Bleecker Street Bar came in as per his usual routine. The Kahuna was looking for something new to try out. He wanted something colorful and immediately something came to mind.

I remembered that Melvin and I were having a conversation a while back about Long Island Iced Teas and drinks of that ilk. To avoid repeating myself, read my post on The Texas Tea on my impression of those types of drinks. So this jade colored concoction that Melvin told me was called The Green Dragon should not be confused with this Green Dragon or this Green Dragon or even this Green Dragon.

Hey, you can't even confuse it with my friend Chuck "DragonBlack" Collins or in this case Chuck "DragonGreen" Collins. LOL. I mean you might have the greenish hue that Chuck has in this pic after about three or four of these cocktails. If you haven't had a chance, check out my talented friend's art at his FB page: The Art of Chuck Collins and his blogpage Dread Society X. Ok, enough of the cheap plug for my friend Chuck, LOL. Back to the cocktail.

So here's the recipe for the Green Dragon I made for the Kahuna:
The Green Dragon
1 oz rum
1 oz vodka
1 oz gin
1 oz tequila
1 oz triple sec
1 oz sweet and sour mix
Midori for color

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

Unlike the Long Island Iced Tea that takes Coke as the last ingredient, adding Midori instead gives this drink its distinctive Green color. As you can tell by the next picture, the Kahuna seemed to enjoy it. Another satisfied customer.

Until Then Happy Drinking,

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Between the Sheets

For those of you who might not know I'm a big fan of R&B. Not what they call R&B today but the smooth soul tracks of the 1960's to the early 1990's. As I had done with my Barry White inspired post: The Berry White...Show You're Right, I came across another cocktail that invoked the sexuality and sensuality of another R&B staple: The Isley Brothers.

The Isley Brothers were originally Gospel singers in the late 1950's who hit it big with their hit song Shout. In the 1970's they were R&B superstars who by the early 1980's were falling behind such R&B acts like the Commodores, Kool and the Gang and Earth, Wind and Fire. It was the debut in April of 1983 of this particular song that helped re-establish the Isley Brothers on the R&B landscape: Between the Sheets. Without going into too many details on the song, since the title speaks for itself the track is full of sensuality and sexiness. It is one of my favorite R&B tracks of all-time. After coming across a cocktail of the same name how could I not give it a go. Here is the Between the Sheets cocktail:
Between the Sheets
1oz Brandy
1oz Bacardi Light Rum
1oz Cointreau
1oz Lemon Juice

Build over ice in a cocktail shaker half full of ice. Shake vigorously. Serve in a chilled cocktail glass.
As you can see from the picture, the cocktail is simple but elegant. It has a light cream color to it and upon tasting it various notes come to light. First the citrus and tart flavor of the lemon juice stands out. Hiding out between the proverbial sheets are the rum and brandy. Both spirits mingling together, neither one standing out more than the other. At the end of the taste, the sweet flavor of the Cointreau makes its presence felt light a light peck to the lips. It is a crisp drink that needs to be drunk ice cold to fully enjoy the its varied flavor notes.

It is very possible that after a few of these you along with the right person might find yourselves between the sheets with Ronald Isley serenading you as he does in the song. Sounds like a good time to me ;)

Allow me to leave you with Between the Sheets by the Isley Brothers as an added bonus. Enjoy.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Bacardi Baccarat Millennium 8YO 0.7L (40% Vol.)

During my Forum adventure, Johnny was telling me about a specialty item that he had in his apartment that I would get a kick out of. He was telling me about this bottle of Bacardi Baccarat Millennium that he has that is that is in a beautiful unopened Baccarat crystal bottle. Since I had never seen one before he offered to show me it and off we went up to his apartment.

In case you don't know what the Bacardi Baccarat Millennium 8YO is, Bacardi released this limited edition version of their special blend Bacardi rum for the year 2000 millenium celebration. It was a very limited run that only produced 3000 bottles which were singly numbered and came with a certificate of authenticity signed by then President of Bacardi Limited, Ruben Rodriguez.

The Bacardi 8 year old rum finished its maturation in old Sherry casks and were hand filled into the the Baccarat crystal decanter. The bottle is truly an amazing thing to behold. It is a beautiful bottle and a nice collector's item.

Thanks to Johnny for letting me see it. Appreciate it.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Monday, August 6, 2012

Bushmills Irish Honey

Though I don't tend to do this very often, I like going out to other bars and checking out their selection to see what they might have that we don't carry at our bar. It gives me a chance to sample some new and interesting liquors. Sunday was no different. I met up with Johnny and Jenn at Forum and Johnny had the bartender, John Paul, serve us a round of Bushmills Irish Honey shots. When he said Bushmills Irish Honey I took a double take.

I know honey seems to be the go-to ingredient this year in terms of alcohol. In terms of whiskey and bourbon, both Jack Daniels and Wild Turkey have their own honey versions (which I have samples of and will get to them soon). But to be quite honest, I never would have thought an Irish Whiskey distiller would make a honey version of one of their distinctive products. Then again, I guess all the distillers need to keep up with the proverbial Joneses and separate themselves from the pack with new and innovative products. I'll give Busmills credit, this is definitely something unique.

I took a smell of the shot and have to admit, I really couldn't smell the honey but I could get some slight sweet notes. I could definitely smell the Bushmills. The shot swirled around the glass with ease since it wasn't very viscous. Upon tasting the liquid I was pleasantly surprised. Before I go any further here's a a little disclosure: I'm not a Whiskey connoisseur. I like some now and again but I have yet to develop the nose and palate to properly dissect what separates the quality whiskeys from the bad ones. Baby steps. So someone like fellow blogger Josh Feldman of The Coopered Tot or Grahama and Joanne of The Perfect Whiskey Match would definitely have a more in-depth point of view on a product like the Bushmills Irish Honey. Hopefully I'll try to get their opinions on the Bushmills Irish Honey. Back to the Irish Honey.

The shot had a nice mild honey taste to it. It seemed to take some of the harshness away from the Bushmills. Now, as my friend Joe said to me when I told him that, the harsh kick is what Bushmills is about. Why would you want to take that away? To be honest, I don't know. Maybe to bring the amateurs like me into the fold? LOL. I have to admit I liked it. Not sure how many of those I can do in a night but I think I have an idea in which the Bushmills Irish Honey can be used in a cocktail.

I think using the Bushmills Irish Honey in a cocktail like the Michael Collins and eliminating the sugar that your traditional Collins would take. Here is my take on the Michael Collins:
Honey Michael Collins
2oz Bushmills Irish Honey Whiskey
1oz fresh lemon juice
3oz club soda

In a shaker half-filled with ice cubes, combine the honey whiskey and lemon juice. Shake well. Strain into a Collins or Pint glass almost filled with ice cubes. Add the club soda. Stir and serve.
If you want to know more about the Bushmills Irish Honey, go to their website. They have a couple of recipes for the Bushmills Irish Honey. Give it a taste.

Until then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Walk the Plank Sisco Style

My sister Ariana and her friend Maribel went to Dave and Busters this past Friday for some well deserved after work drinks. She tagged me in a picture on FB and I asked her what they were drinking. Her friend Maribel had a couple potent Mai Tais while she had a drink called a Walk the Plank. Basically the drink contained the following ingredients: Captain morgan original spiced rum, malibu coconut rum, peach schnapps, pineapple juice, oj and pomegranate syrup. I see that and think: SUPER SWEET. Now thinking about those ingredients, how can I make something that is similarly flavored but lacking in the excess sugar. Here is what I came up with:

Walk the Plank Sisco Style
1oz Bacardi Oakheart
.5oz Bacardi Coco
.5oz Peach Infused Vodka
1oz Diet Mango Juice
1oz Fresh Squeezed Red Grapefuit Juice.
Splash of Grenadine

Build over ice, stir and serve.
As you can see in comparing the pictures, mine looks very similar in color. Upon tasting, the lively flavor notes of the spiced rum, coconut and peach are noticed immediately. As I've stated before, I prefer the Oakheart over Captain Morgan and the Bacardi Coco over the Malibu. They both taste better. Not as synthetic. The juice choice makes for a cocktail that isn't very sweet. It allows for the cocktail to be very subtle sweet rather than sickly sweet.

Now I'm not sure if Ari would like this one over the one she had at Dave and Busters. Guess she'll have to come over and have one...or two. Right Ari?

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Peach Sea Breeze

In the July 19, 2012 blogpost entitled Status of the Infusions I mentioned all the way at the bottom of the post that I was infusing a small batch of Peach Vodka. Today I decided to strain out the fruit. Here is what I came up with:

The Peach Vodka is aromatic and hued with a nice peach/light orange color. I recently took a book out of the public library called Cocktails by Time Life books and one particular recipe under the Vodka section caught my eye. Since I had just bought some fresh fruit among which were Grapefruits, I decided to adapt the recipe for the Sea Breeze to my purposes. Here is the Peach Sea Breeze:
Peach Sea Breeze
1.5oz Peach Infused Vodka
2oz Cranberry Juice
2oz Fresh Squeezed Red Grapefruit Juice

Build and serve over ice.
The Peach flavor in the Vodka seems to play hand-in-hand with the bitterness of the fresh Grapefruit juice and the subtle tartness of the Cranberry juice. I like the simple notes of this cocktail and that is saying alot since I am not particularly fond of Grapefruit juice. Maybe I need to stick to the juice straight from the fruit rather than the can or bottle for a better experience.

Any other suggestions on how I can use the little bit of Peach Infused Vodka I have left?

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Figenza Fig Vodka

In same batch of samples that I bought with the Tres Leche Triple Cream Liqueur was an interesting light purple colored bottle of Fig Flavored Vodka called Figenza.

Now as you all know I like to infuse vodkas and the thought of trying something new without having to infuse it myself was something I couldn't resist. I went to the Figenza website and here is how they describe their product:
The Mediterranean’s Best Kept Secret. Born under the Mediterranean sun, Figenza is a completely natural experience of incomparable fruitfulness married with delicately smooth premium vodka. It has taken nearly 12 years to develop the refined Figenza recipe. The blend of hand selected Mediterranean figs and Europe’s finest vodka has produced the distinct spirit. Today, Figenza Mediterranean Fig Vodka is one of the best kept secrets in the world. Discover the inspiring sensuality of the Mediterranean soul.
Well, based on that description how can I not go forward with tasting the Figenza. The website has an extensive list of cocktails that you can make at home with the Figenza and since the description mentioned the sensual nature of the Mediterranean soul one such cocktail stood out to me. Here is the one I chose to make for this post:
The Aphrodisiac Margarita
2.5 oz. Figenza Fig Vodka
1/2 oz. Grand Marnier
1 oz. Pomegranate Juice (I used the Trop 50 Pomegranate Blueberry Juice)
1/2 oz. Lime Juice

Build over ice and serve on the rocks with a lemon.
It was much tarter than I thought that it would be. I'm actually surprised by that. Between the Figenza which has a light sweet taste and aroma, the Grand Marnier which is very sweet and thick and the Pomegranate Blueberry Juice which wasn't as sweet as I thought it would be I didn't think that the .5oz of Lime Juice would make the cocktail as tart as it was. I'm not complaining. I actually like it. I like how the cocktail's deep purple color matches the color of the bottle. This is a cocktail that I can definitely get behind.

I highly recommend you picking up a bottle of Figenza Fig Flavored Vodka for something different. On their Downloads section of the their website, you can find all their recipes on one PDF sheet plus other goodies. Check it out.

I have some more samples that I purchased on Tuesday that I have left to taste. Look forward to doing so and reporting back to all you gals and guys.

Until The Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Friday, August 3, 2012

Laura's Chocolate Cake Shot and Her Boobs

Before I go into what I mean about Laura's boobs, let me touch on her Chocolate Cake shot. My friend Laura is a hardcore Arsenal F.C. fan of the English Premier League. Now this pretty lady is on Twitter and has some of the most interesting statements and followers that I have ever seen. So if you aren't following her you should: @LGoonerHoward. What does this all have to do with booze and boobs. On to the booze.

The last time I saw her here at the Bleecker Street Bar, she suggested we try her variation of the Chocolate Cake shot. Now for those of you who don't know what a Chocolate Cake shot is here is how its made:
Chocolate Cake Shot
.5oz of Frangelico Hazelnut Liqueur
.5oz of Absolute Citron Vodka

Combine ingredients with ice in a shaker and pour into a shot glass. Shoot it and suck on a sugar coated lemon wedge
Its a tasty shot. Laura's shot calls for a slightly different take on the Chocolate Cake shot:
Laura's Chocolate Cake Shot
.5oz of Frangelico
.5oz Stoli Vanilla Vodka

Combine ingredients with ice in a shaker and pour into a shot glass. No sugar and no lemon.
Now how can I disagree with a shot that contains Stoli Vanilla. Right? Actually I prefer this shot since it is a neater shot. No sugar stuck to your fingers (and possibly beard) due to sucking on the lemon wedge full of sugar. Ok, enough of the fun stuff. Let's get serious. Its time for the Boobs.

My friend Laura is a breast cancer survivor who is participating in the 2012 Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. Her commitment to this cause is strong. Here is what she has to say about it (from her Avon Walk for Breast Cancer page):
I've committed to participating in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. It's a big commitment, one that will require me to spend the next several months training and fundraising. But breast cancer is a big disease, one that still affects far too many people, and I'm determined to do everything I can to help put an end to it. The money I raise will be managed and disbursed by the Avon Foundation Breast Cancer Crusade to help provide access to care for those that most need it, fund educational programs, and accelerate research into new treatments and potential cures. I'll be just one of thousands of people that will walk up to a marathon and a half over a weekend, raising awareness of the cause and educating even more people.

In addition, I myself am a survivor, and in our Team "Rockers for Knockers" we have a number of survivors - we want to give back, and help others!!!

I can't do it without your help. Though I'm required to raise at least $1,800 in donation, I plan to raise much more!

I hope that I can count on your support.
So what I am asking you gals and guys to do is to try and help Laura out with her fundraising goal. Any amount will help a tremendous cause that needs all the help it can get. Here is the link to her Avon Walk for Breast Cancer personal page:
Rockers for Knockers Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Page
So instead of having that extra shot this weekend, pour that money into Laura's Breast Walk donation fund. I'd appreciate it.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Ketel One Lemonade on Tap

I'm not sure if you have heard of the recent way of pouring wine and mixed drinks. Both vino and mixed drinks are now starting to be poured from a tap in the same way that beer is poured and served. Places like Terroir Tribeca, a wine bar on Harrison Street in Manhattan. Buttermilk Channel and Colicchio & Sons, have served such wines as red, white and rosé from the tap. In the last few months new bar Gin Palace has seemed to have gotten into some trouble with the NYS Liquor Authority for their serving of Gin and Tonics from a tap. I for one had yet to try a cocktail that came straight from a tap...Until today. I did so in probably the most unexpected of locations: Yankee Stadium.

I was in attendance for the Yankees v Orioles game in which the Yankees broke their four game losing streak with a 12-3 win. As I was at the game, I decided to have myself a cocktail and went to the Yankee food court to get one. Now I didn't expect to get a big sized cup full of booze and to be honest, I was surprised at how much I got for the $12-dollar cost. Aside from the frozen Margaritas, they had both Ketel One Lemonade and Jose Cuervo Margarita, straight from the tap. How was it?

It tasted like a Vodka Lemonade would since the Vodka wouldn't really be noticeable in the Lemonade. It wasn't bad at all. Perhaps it wouldn't have been as stiff as I would have gotten it at a bar but I was in Yankee Stadium. What did I expect, right? It was better than paying $9.50 for a Bud, Bud Light or get this a Ballantine Ale. Yes folks, in the Retro Beer section of the stadium, they sell tall cans of Ballantine Ale, Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer and Rolling Rock. I'll take a small Ketel One Lemonade over those beers anyday.

When I come across some more mixed drinks on tap, I'll report on them.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

For Further Reading:
- Click Here for Ashley Parker's article Partners Push a Tap Wine Manifesto from the New York Times dated July 29, 2011
- Click Here to read Robert Simonson's blogpost Gin Palace Says State Turned Off the Tap on Its Cocktails from the Diner's Journal section of the New York Times dated July 3, 2012