Friday, May 31, 2013

Strawberry Caipirinhas

In a bit of a twist from my last post, I decided to make a fruity kind of Caipirinha this time around. Having bought strawberries the other day, a Strawberry Caipirinha sounded like something I wanted to try. For this cocktail, I decided to fiddle around with the original recipe that I used for the Caipirinha and came up with the following:

Strawberry Caipirinha
2 oz. Leblon Cachaça
2 tsp. superfine sugar
1 large or 2 small strawberries cut into quarters
1/2 lime, cut into wedges
Muddle the strawberries, lime and sugar in a shaker. Fill the shaker with ice and add Leblon Cachaça. Shake vigorously and strain into a rocks glass. Add the lime pieces and some of the muddled strawberry and add ice. Stir.
The first attempt had too many strawberry pieces in the cocktail making it very chunky. I found that straining the cocktail into the glass and adding a few pieces of muddled strawberries with the lime pieces from the mixing glass and ice afterwards made for a cocktail that was easier to drink. I like the light fruitiness that the strawberries give the Caipirinha. I found the original Caipirinha to be light but the muddled fruit gives the cocktail a bit of body.

This is a good cocktail to have in this summer-like weather we are currently having in NYC. I've seen a few recipes for a Kiwi Caipirinha online. Luckily for me I also bought some Kiwi fruit the other day.

My next post will be a variation of a cocktail recipe that was posted by Ginny Tonic: Strawberry Bourbon Fizz.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Homemade Caipirinhas with Leblon Cachaça

In my last post I made mention that Caipirinhas are "...quite easy to make so its surprising that someone would get it wrong". Well add me to that list folks. I decided to make three different Caipirinhas to see which one would taste the best. One utilized Splenda instead of sugar and was shaken. The second one had sugar and was shaken. The third contained sugar and was stirred. The reason why I decided to stir the last one was that there is a bit of a debate on whether a Caipirinha should be shaken or stirred.

Apparently the custom is to stir them in Brazil since they tend to use a sugar that is finer compared to the sugar that is used here in the United States. Our sugar tends to be coarser and takes longer to dissolve. I'm not sure how accurate that is. For more information on Cachaça, check out the article Step Away From The Lime, sir... from Imbibe magazine's July/August 2008 issue. Back to my Caipirinhas.

I made the Caipirinhas with the basic measurements of a half of lime cut into quarters with the piths removed, two teaspons of sugar/sweetner, ice and two ounces of Leblon Cachaça. For the Splenda version, I found it not to be sweet enough. The lime juice overpowered the cocktail making it much more tart than the Caipirinha should be. The second cocktail with sugar and shaken was a much more balanced Caipirinha. The key is to shake it thoroughly, for at least 10 seconds so as to have proper sugar incorporation with the other ingredients. The third one with sugar and stirred was not as balanced as the second one but a bit sweeter than the first. I guess I would have to stir it for a longer period in order to get the sugar dissolved properly. For my personal tastes I would shake it here at home. I much rather preferred the result I got with the sugar and shaking it. Some Caipirinha purists out there will be cursing me out. Oh well, join the club ;)

Here is the final recipe for the Caipirinha:
2 oz. Leblon Cachaça
2 tsp. superfine sugar
1/2 lime, cut into wedges

Muddle the lime and sugar in a shaker. Fill the shaker with ice and add Leblon Cachaça. Shake vigorously and serve in a rocks glass. Garnish with a lime wheel.
I forgot to garnish it with a lime wheel, but I promise that if I make one for you, I'll garnish it with the wheel. Deal?

One last thing, I found something interesting in the article. One of the bartenders that they ask from Mokoko in St Albans uses granulated brown sugar rather than white sugar. Why? Apparently the brown sugar adds a level of earthiness that is missing in white sugar. They say it matches earthy flavors in the cachaça. I guess I have to experiment with some brown sugar.

The next post will be about the Strawberry Caipirinha that I made after the regular Caipirinha. Keep an eye open for it.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Leblon Cachaça

I saw that Union Square Wines was doing a tasting with Leblon Cachaça this past Saturday in the hours before I had to be at work and since I am doing my walking regiment again, I decided to swing by there on my way to walking from Union Square to work.

For those of you who might not be familiar with Cachaca, here is how the website for Leblon describes it:
Welcome to Leblon Cachaça. We created Leblon Cachaça for anyone who wants to discover this great new spirit at its best. Cachaça, the third most-consumed spirit in the world,is the key ingredient to the Caipirinha, Brazil’s national drink. Cachaça (ka-SHAH-sa) is made from fresh-pressed cane juice fermented and distilled, and can only come from Brazil.
The representatives for Leblon Cachaça had three different spirits they were showcasing. One was the flagship Leblon Cachaça that they were serving in the classic Brazilian cocktail known as the Caipirinha. The second was a darker Cachaça that is aged in oak casks for a period of about two years called Maison Leblon - Reserva Especial. The third was called Cedilla Açai Liqueur. For sake of sobriety, I only sampled the Leblon Cachaça Caipirinha and the Maison Leblon - Reserva Especial. I'll talk about the Reserva Especial first then the Caipirinha.

The Reserva Especial is a darker spirit than the clear Cachaça. This is due to its being aged for a up to two years in French oak casks. According to the Leblon webiste:
The new Leblon product combines the flavor of the best tasting cane with the aroma and quality of the finest French oak.  Tastes great neat or over ice. This special distillate is aged up to two years in the highest grade new Limousin French oak and expertly blended by Distiller Gilles Merlet. Single batch distilled in alambique potstills, the result is a complex smooth spirit with notes of honey, caramel, and pine nuts.
It has the consistency of a Cognac or Brandy without it being very strong. The spirit was surprisingly smooth and not as sweet as I thought it would be. It was quite delicious.

Next came the Caipirinha. Now I have had a couple of Caipirinhas before. The problem with them is that if they are made wrong, it can be a difficult cocktail to drink. Too much sugar makes it too sweet. Not enough sugar and it is too tart. It is quite easy to make so its surprising that someone would get it wrong. Here is the recipe for
The Leblon Caipirinha
2 oz. Leblon Cachaça
2 tsp. superfine sugar or 1 oz. simple syrup
1/2 lime, cut into wedges

Muddle the lime and sugar in a shaker. Fill the shaker with ice and add Leblon Cachaça. Shake vigorously and serve in a rocks glass. Garnish with a lime wheel.
The Caipirinha that was served to me was perfect. Not too sweet and not too tart. It was very light and balanced. Since it sat in a pitcher with the limes included, the cocktail had little pieces of lime which gave it a little body. I liked it so much I bought myself a bottle to make some Caipirinha's this summer. I'll let you know how they turn out.

Here are two videos on how to make a Caipirinha. One is from Leblon (BTW, I think the woman in the video was the one of the representatives from Leblon at the tasting). The other is from The difference in the two videos is that in the second video, the presenter cuts the ends off of the limes, removes the pith from the middle of the lime, cuts them into smaller pieces and stirs it instead of shaking it as in the first video.  Enjoy.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Cayrum Honey and Ginger Infused Rum

Photo Courtesy of
The other night I briefly popped into Tom and Jerry's to say hello to my buddy Chris and noticed they had a bottle next to one of the many Tom and Jerry punch bowls with the name of Cayrum. Chris was gracious enough to pass me the bottle for inspection. On the top of the label it said "Hecho A Mano En La Republica Dominicana". Now that caught my attention. The label also said made by the "Kane Family Rum Company" and along the bottom the label said "A PREMIUM RUM INFUSED with NATURAL HONEY AND GINGER" It is an 80 proof rum (40% ALC./Vol).

I found an interview online done by Pavol Kazimir of the website of Cayrum distiller Todd Kane from June 2, 2012. In the interview, Kane states that after testing their infusion process on a number of different rums, the rum they chose to use is a 3-year old rum produced by the Barcelo Rum company. The Cayrum product is being made in the town of Cabarete. Cabarete is located in the Puerto Plata province which is one of the biggest tourist destinations of the Dominican Republic. So knowing that the product is Dominican made on the island here is what my impressions of the rum.

I had Maz pour me a little taster. He poured himself a little as well. His instant critique of the Cayrum didn't bode well for my tasting. He said the rum "smelled like soap". Keeping that in mind and not letting that sway my open mind, I decided to venture forward with the taste. The rum has a nice golden color to it and is somewhat thick and syrupy. I found that the rum was more honey flavored than ginger. It had a somewhat sweet smell and taste but nothing that I found that would make me say WOW!!! I figured that it would probably be best enjoyed as a mixer. Kane states in his interview that the Cayrum is better served as so:
We find that the best way to serve is chilled in a chilled shot. It is a great digestive. If you are more a cocktail type we definitely suggest the Spicy – Kiki cocktail.
I checked their website to find the recipe for the Spicy-Kiki cocktail. Here it is:
Cayrum Rum
Muddled Cilantro and Serrano Peppers
Lime Juice
Simple Syrup
A Splash of Soda
I feel bad. I really want to support products from the Motherland. But I don't think that I'll be running out to buy a bottle to keep at home. Am I game to try something made with Cayrum? Absolutely. Maybe I'll find a cocktail that is better suited to my palate and makes a better impression of the Cayrum to me. Here is the webpage that has the recipes for Cayrum mixed drinks.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Raspberry Collins

I was looking to make something that was light, fruity and refreshing without being super sweet and syrupy. The first thing that came to mind was a Collins type cocktail. On my upper cabinet shelf was a Raspberry infused vodka that had been sitting there for months just waiting to be cracked open. So I thought to myself why not make a Raspberry flavored Collins type cocktail. Here is how I decided to make it:
The Raspberry Collins
2oz of Raspberry Infused Vodka
1oz of Fresh Lemon Juice
.25oz of Simple Syrup
Maraschino Cherries for garnish
Seltzer Water or Club Soda to top

Build the vodka, lemon juice and simple syrup in an ice filled shaker. Shake until cold. Pour into a Collins glass with ice, top with Seltzer Water/Club Soda and gently stir. Add two cherries
As you can see from the picture the cocktail has a nice pink color to it. I gave this first cocktail to Momma-San to try it out for me. As I figured, the cocktail wasn't sweet enough for her liking, which means I would like it just fine. For her cocktail, I upped The Simple Syrup from .25 of an ounce to one full ounce. After that change, the cocktail was sweet enough for Momma-San. How did I find the original cocktail?

I found it to be tart and effervescent. The raspberry flavor is subtle. It was exactly what I was looking for on this humid Spring evening. I would actually bump up the simple syrup to half an ounce depending on whether I wanted a bit more sweetness to the cocktail. For my palate, one ounce of simple syrup is a too much on the sweetness factor. This is a cocktail that I can see myself enjoying on a regular basis this summer. I guess I need to start working on my next batch of Raspberry infused Vodka.

For my next post I tried to make something called The Sisco Vanilla Colin's which was made with a base of a Vanilla infused Rum that I have had chilling in the fridge for over a month. Did I find the same success with that cocktail as I did with he Raspberry Collins? You'll have to check not that post to find out.

Until Then Happy Drinking,

Sisco Vanilla

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Monkey Bar Part 2

For my second cocktail at the Monkey Bar, I asked our server Melissa to recommend something completely different from The Perfect 10. She recommended a cocktail called a Pimm's Rangoon. Since I was game, I told her let's run with it. Here is what was in the Pimm's Rangoon.
Pimm's Rangoon
Pimms #1
Dry Gin
Lemon Juice
Muddled Cucumber, Strawberry and Mint
As you see in the picture, the cocktail had a nice pinkish hue to it. I loved how the cucumber, strawberry and mint blended together to give it a nice light feel. The fruit taste was slightly sweet but not overly sweet. The ginger gave it a little kick. But what is Pimm's #1

According to the website for Pimm's:
London's dandiest city gents loved to partake in oysters and gin. But with its bitter tang, gin was knocked back, not savoured. Enter shellfish-monger James Pimm and his famous central London 'Oyster Bar' in 1823. Patrons soon swallowed oysters with the PIMM'S 'house cup'. Flavoured with liqueurs and fruit extract, this more palatable long drink 'gin-sling' kick-started the great British PIMM'S story.
Pimms now has a new flavor which is Elderflower and Blackberry. I need to have a taste of the Original Pimms and the new version on its own. Sounds tasty on its own. For more recipes using Pimms, click here.

So that was the last cocktail of a very entertaining night with Momma-San. Here's to another 11-years together. =)

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Monkey Bar Part 1

Our last stop of the evening was the classic post-Prohibition Jazz Age club known as The Monkey Bar. We popped in there to see my good friend and bartender Michael Harper but alas he was feeling under the weather and wasn't in. But that didn't stop us from enjoying a few cocktails in this New York City landmark.

Established in 1936 and occupying space in the lobby of The Hotel Elysée, the Monkey Bar became a favored place by many of the celebrities, politicians and businessmen of the era. To see a veritable who's who of those who walked through the doors of the Monkey Bar, look no further to Edward Sorel's Mural that adorns the back wall of the Monkey Bar's dining room. Hover over the people in the mural for a detailed description of who they were.

Sloe and Low
The ambiance was very cozy, intimate and dark. The light fixtures and the wallpaper were made up of Monkeys engaging in different activities. Our server Melissa (who for the record was awesome) recommended that I try a cocktail created for the menu by my friend Michael Harper called The Perfect 10. Momma-San chose to try The Sloe and Low cocktail.
The Sloe and Low
Dry Gin
Sloe Gin
Lemon Juice
Maraschino Liqueur

Muddled Raspberry and Blackberry
Surprise!!! Momma-San actually liked a cocktail. =) I kid, I kid. I took a quick taste of the Sloe and Low and it was quite delicious. The raspberry flavor really stood out to me more than any other. I normally find that blackberries lack in the flavor that raspberries do. Here was no difference. The blackberries added body along with the muddled raspberries. No matter, the cocktail was very refreshing.
The Perfect 10
Tanqueray No. 10 Dry Gin
Bianco Vermouth
Cocchi Americano
Boker's Bitters
Grapefruit Oil
The grapefruit immediately jumps out to the nose. The bitters is first on the tongue with the dryness of the Vermouth followed closely by the Cocchi Americano. Now I don't think that I have mentioned Cocchi Americano on this blog. For those of you who don't know, according to Paul Clarke in his blogpost What's the Deal with Cocchi Aperitivo Americano?: Cocchi Americano is:
Cocchi Aperitivo Americano is an Italian aperitif wine that debuted in 1891. Based on a foundation of Moscato di Asti, the wine is fortified and then flavored with cinchona bark, along with citrus peel, spices and other botanicals. Cinchona bark is the original source of quinine, and this substance gives Cocchi a bitter bite and places the wine in the category of chinati...Cocchi Americano is crisp and citrusy with a delicate bitter edge.
The Tanqueray No. 10 Dry Gin just sits in the background letting the other flavors jostle for flavor positioning while the drinker just enjoys a full flavored cocktail. Speaking of Tanqueray No. 10, what makes it a different gin from let's say the original Tanqueray. According to the Tanqueray No. 10 webpage:
While the other gins subtly infuse only peel, we go all in and give the fruit a little more love. Small batches. Fresh fruit. Not just peels. The freshest grapefruit, oranges, limes and chamomile sets our gin apart and gives it flavour
Thanks to Michael Harper for coming up with such an interesting cocktail and thanks to Melissa for recommending it.

Next to come is the second cocktail I had at the Monkey Bar called a Pimms Rangoon.

Until Then, Happy Drinking
Sisco Vanilla

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Lucky Lychee

The second stop after The Stone Rose Lounge was Benihana. I've wanted to go there for many years and now finally I had my chance. I was not disappointed. The food was amazing, as well as, the presentation and preparation. In terms of cocktails we decided to keep it light, preferring to have a couple of different Japanese beers with out meal. But we did have one cocktail that was called the Lucky Lychee. Momma-San was unfamiliar with the fruit so before I go into the cocktail, allow me to describe what a Lychee is.

The Engineered Lifestyles website in their entry for Lychee says that Lychee is translated from Chinese as "gift for a joyful life" (Click Here for a listing of some health benefits attributed to the Lychee fruit). According to Merriam-Webster dictionary a Lychee is:
the oval fruit of a Chinese tree (Litchi chinensis) of the soapberry family having a hard scaly reddish outer covering and sweet whitish edible flesh that surrounds a single large seed —called also lychee nut
As you can see in the image on the right, the fruit is the white almost translucent colored part of the fruit, with the brownish seed and the red outer coating surrounding it.

Now that we've established what the fruit looks like, here is what was in our cocktail:
The Lucky Lychee
Absolute Vodka
Sweet Lychee Puree
Fresh Muddled Limes and Mint
Lychee Fruit
The cocktail had a pale yellow color and on first taste it was sweet and very tasty. Momma-San seemed to like her cocktail. I also liked mine but it wasn't what I expected. I thought that it might have been a little drier since I had never tasted a lychee either in fruit or cocktail form. The bottom of the cocktail had a little Lychee fruit. I really couldn't taste the lime juice or the mint. So I would assume that the Lychee Puree overpowered all the other ingredients in the cocktail. I would have to see what the Lychee would taste like with a spirit such as Gin, Sake or Soju.

Considering that Banihana is located on 56th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues, the prices on the cocktails are very reasonable. The Lucky Lychee was only $10 dollars with the Specialty Cocktails in at the same price and the Signature Martinis in at $12. The priciest cocktail on the list was The Blue Ocean Punch Bowl which serves two or more people at $32. What's in the Blue Ocean? Well it is listed as Malibu Rum, Skyy Pineapple Vodka, Sake, Blue Curacao and a combination of tropical fruit juices.

Here is a picture of our Teppanyaki chef Mizen taking a bow after an entertaining show and a filling meal.

非常に多くの紅花をありがとう。次回まで。Domo Arrigato Benihana. We had an awesome time.

The next and last stop was to the classic old school New York City bar/lounge experience known as The Monkey Bar to see my good friend Michael Harper.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Stone Rose and The Jalapeño Margarita

Momma-San and I recently celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary and I decided to take her out for dinner and drinks. Since we met up at Columbus Circle, I decided to check out which bars are located in the Time Warner Center. I had never been in the Time Warner Center so I was curious to see what the building looks like on the inside. The bars and lounges are located in the upper floors and we decided on The Stone Rose Lounge.

The Stone Rose Lounge is a beautiful and laid back lounge that has an amazing view of Central Park and Columbus Circle. Though there were many tables surrounded by banquettes and love seats, we decided to find a seat at the bar. The wait wasn't too long. The back bar is quite simple and well lit with a diverse selection of spirits. The prices of the cocktails are reasonable at around the $16 dollar range. The spirits prices range from $14 for the more common spirits to over $100 for the more high end rare spirits. 

To start Momma-San ordered for herself a Strawberry Mojito while I ordered a cocktail named after the Stone Rose Lounge. The Mojito was made similarly to other mojitos. The rum used was Bacardi Límon.

This is what my cocktail contained:

The Stone Rose
Woodford Reserve Bourbon
Grand Marnier
White Cranberry Juice
Fresh Lime Juice 
Simple Syrup
Brandied Cherry

I found the cocktail to be very light. I didn't find it to be very strong or sweet. The Woodford Reserve kind of just sits in background. I believe that this is the kind of cocktail that would be a good starting point for the evening. Not surprisingly, Momma-San didn't like it. LOL.

Next I decided to have something a little bit spicier. For this one I chose a Jalapeño Margarita. Here are the contents of the cocktail:

Jalapeño Margarita
Excellia Silver Tequila
Fresh Lime Juice

I found the cocktail to be zesty but not overpowering in heat. It was quite refreshing and not as cloyingly sweet as some Margaritas can be. It definitely was what I was looking for to counter the sublime nature of the Stone Rose Cocktail. Again, not surprisingly, Momma-San didn't like it. At least I don't have to worry about her drinking the cocktails that I order for myself.

I would definitely recommend a couple of cocktails at the Stone Rose Lounge either after work or before heading out to dinner or the theater. From what the bartender told me they have a nice rush after work and then a lull until the theater people from Lincoln Center come in. They also have decent hours:

Monday – Wednesday 12pm – 2am
Thursday – Saturday 12pm – 3am
Sunday 12pm – 12am

So if you are in the area, go on in and have yourself a cocktail...or three. Next on the blogpost is a cocktail called the Lucky Lychee that we had at Benihana's.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Friday, May 10, 2013

Wow, One Year Already

One year, countless cocktails and 162 posts later, here I am standing straight and tall. Well maybe that's because I haven't had a drink in four days but who's counting. ;)
I just wanted to thank everyone who has made cocktail suggestions, comments and critiques on my posts here on my blog, on my Facebook page Sisco Vanilla, my twitter page @SiscoVanilla and on Google+. I wouldn't have gotten this far in my education without your helpful input. I hope you've enjoyed the ride and continue to ride with me during this second year of the Sisco Vanilla Blog Page. Salud!

Photo Courtesy of Chuck "DragonBlack" Collins

Sisco Vanilla

Thursday, May 9, 2013

What is Royal Salute

Photo Courtesy HGH Strip
Last night I was watching the Korean crime flick The Thieves when the inspiration for this post came about. In the beginning of the movie two of the thieves are in the office of the person who they are planning to steal from and are offered some tea. The older of the two Thieves who goes by the name Chewingum (for obvious reason seen a little later in the film) notices an ornate blue bottle on a table and asks "Is that Royal Salute?" and proceeds to pour herself some in a rocks glass. The liquid was a dark brown and she drank it straight up. So this got me wondering: What Is Royal Salute. This is what I found.

According to the Royal Salute website:
Royal Salute begins where other whiskies end, as only the most precious whiskies ages at least 21 years are used to create the masterful and sophisticated blends.

Originally created in 1953 by Chivas Brothers a tribute to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II upon her coronation, today Royal Salute continues to celebrate inspiring and noble leadership in all walks of life.

The home of Royale Salute is Strathisla, the oldest working distillery in the Highlands of Scotland. It is here that our Master Blender select the very finest casks from the world's finest collection of highly age whiskies, the most precious of which are stored on the lock and key in the Royal Salute vaults at the distillery.

A leader in its own right, Royal Salute is now appreciated by discerning connoisseurs the world over, and is held as the ultimate mark of respect.
Now that we've established who makes it, I started to look at the selection of higher end whiskies on their website. From what I can tell from the bottle on the screen, the type of whisky that she was drinking was the 21 year old blend.

According to the listing for the Royal Salute 21 year old on their website:
In 1953, Chivas Brothers paid tribute to her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II by creating a limited edition of very special blend whisky. Only 2,500 cases were produced for worldwide distribution. The first flagons, adorned with the Royal Crest, was sealed on the day of her coronation. The name chosen was considered a fitting tribute to the new monarch. It was called Royal Salute, after the 21-gun salute - the ultimate mark of respect, reserved for tributes to dignitaries and nations alike. Appropriately each of the whiskies in the blend with the least 21 years old and thus, Royale Salute 21 year old was born. 
Here are the Tasting notes for the Royal Salute 21 year old:
- Appearance: Deep, golden amber colour
- Nose: Rich, free aromas and a sweet fragrance of flowers
- Taste: Full, deep fruity flavors with a subtle smokiness
- Finish: Rich, long and lingering
The other whiskies that fall under the Royal Salute brand umbrella are the Hundred Cask Selection, the 38 Year Old Stone of Destiny and the 62 Gun Salute.  

The price for the 21 Gun Salute on Amazon is roughly $180 with the 38 Year Old Stone of Destiny at roughly $560 and the 62 Gun Salute at $3,200 all at the 750ml bottle size. I was unable to find a price for the Hundred Cask Selection.

So my questions for those of you out there are these? Have any of you had it? If so, how is it. Let me know what you think.

Until Then, Happy Drinking
Sisco Vanilla

Here is the movie poster for the movie The Thieves. I highly enjoyed the flick. You should all give it a watch. Its on Netflix currently streaming.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

What is Moscatel Naranja

I was recently traveling along the information superhighway looking for things to write about (I've had a few too many days of some heavy duty drinking so I'm letting the body rest by doing some research). I came across the following picture and wondered what the heck Moscatel Naranja was/is.

After a few searches, I came across the blogsite Wine Spice++ Warren Edwardes on wine, food, travel, tech ++ and discovered that Moscatel Naranja is basically:
Incredible stuff. Basically Seville orange marmalade in a glass. Dunk your toast in it for breakfast or chilled anytime.

To make this Vino Naranja or Orange Wine, Seville orange peel are dried and macerated in distilled wine for two months.

This liqueur is added to sweet muscatel wine. Pale yellow, clean and brilliant. On the nose, flower and fruit with a dominance of oranges. In the mouth, it is smooth and fresh with a typical marmalade bitter backdrop that is both elegant and original.

This wine has a much bigger orange marmalade feel than other darker Vino Naranja wines made from dried grapes.

Excellent contrasting match with dark chocolate.
This vino naranja is 15% Alcohol per volume. So, anyone out there taste it? Let me know what you thought of it. I might need to hit a couple of the Spanish restaurants I know and see if they have it on the menu. I'll let you know what I think of it if I do find it.

On a side note, the author of the blogpage where I got the information for the Moscatel Naranja decided to dip Shortbread Soldiers in some Moscatel Naranja. Click this link Shortbread Soldiers in Moscatel Naranja to see what he thought of it.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Kentucky Derby Day At The Vault at Pfaff's

Since Saturday was the 137th racing of the Kentucky Derby, I decided to find a location where I could enjoy a Mint Julep or two before going into work. Luckily for me, The Vault at Pfaff's was having a Derby party just down the block from the bar. So I went by to say hi to the guys and gals.

The party down in the Vault was already in full swing when I arrived. There were many wide brimmed ladies hats and surprisingly very few seersucker suits. But since this is a blog about cocktails and drinking instead of fashion I'll move on to the cocktails. For the event there was a special Kentucky Derby themed cocktail list with three specialty cocktails. I had the two that were the most diverse of the trio. How can I start the festivities without having THE cocktail of the Derby: The Mint Julep.

The Mint Julep is a very simple cocktail to make. Usually you would make it in a Copper (or another metal) Julep cup but since this was a somewhat high volume event, not having the cup for the Juleps is excusable. The cocktail is made with four simple ingredients: Mint, Bourbon, Simple Syrup and Crushed Ice. For the bourbon portion of the cocktail, the Vault at Pfaff's used Larceny Bourbon (Click Here to see a number of different cocktails that utilize Larceny Bourbon).

Mint Julep
Since I had never had a Mint Julep before, I was curious as to how it tasted. The cocktail was nice and light. There was also a subtle sweetness to the cocktail that seemed to mingle well with the bourbon. Since I had to go to work right after, I tried to pace myself since I could see myself quickly sucking the Mint Julep down. On a hot summer day that can be a dangerous thing to do.

The second cocktail on the list (which I didn't try) was a Peach Mint Julep which contained Larceny Bourbon, Combier Peche Liqueur, Simple Syrup, Fresh Mint and House Made Peach Bitters. Why didn't I try it? I wanted to try out the third cocktail on the list which didn't contain Bourbon.

The third cocktail on the list was The Pineapple Julep which contained Bols Genever, House Made Raspberry Syrup and Fresh Pineapple Puree.

Pineapple Julep
According to the Bols Genever website:
The heart of Bols Genever is a precious whisky-like triple grain distillate made of corn, wheat and rye, which the Dutch call Maltwine. This flavor-rich distillate is carefully blended with a juniper-berry distillate and brought to 42% alcohol, a percentage carefully selected by our master distiller for a perfect combination of aroma and mouth feel...In the 19th Century, the import of genever was six times bigger than gin and many cocktails that are now made with gin, originally were mixed with genever.
The Genever was mixed with the Raspberry Syrup and when mixed with the Pineapple Puree and Crushed ice made for an interesting cocktail. The taste of the Genever and Raspberry was something I wasn't expecting and really can't describe. It was like having a raspberry flavored gin since most people have said that genever is an older form of gin. The addition of the Pineapple puree gave the cocktail a bit more of heft and body.

Like the Mint Julep, this was a light and refreshing cocktail that could be very dangerous if consumed in a unmoderated way. Slow and steady definitely wins the race...except for the Derby contestants. ;)

I highly recommend the Vault at Pfaff's. It is an nice space that has a tremendous selection of spirits and varied cocktails. Go and check it out next time you're in New York City.

Until Then Happy Drinking
Sisco Vanilla