Monday, April 28, 2014

Inspiration Comes From the Darnedest of Places

To my fellow bartenders, mixologist, cocktailians and customers. Follow the images below and let me know if you agree or disagree with the sentiment.

Well? For your information, these images come from the Japanese Anime series Bartender (バーテンダー Bātendā) which follows Ryū Sasakura who is the the bartender of a Japanese cocktail lounge called Eden Hall in the Ginza district of Downtown Tokyo. The anime series is based on a manga written by Araki Joh and illustrated by Kenji Nagatomo of the same name.

So, do you agree? Disagree? Let me know what you think.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Friday, April 25, 2014

Discampari Sour

Last week I came across the recipe for what +Kane Cheshire calls A Disperol Sour. Now I found this to be an interesting cocktail since it combines Disaronno Amaretto with Aperol. Instead of Lemon juice, Kane has decided to use Lime juice instead with a spoon of powdered sweetener (though sugar can be used instead). Here is the recipe he posted on his page:
Disperol Sour

50ml Disaronno, or amaretto 145 calories
25ml Aperol, or orange flavoured liqueur 100 calories
1 heaped tsp sugar 16 calories
Juice of ½ a lime 5 calories

In a cocktail shaker, vigorously shake together all the ingredients to make the sugar dissolve. If you don’t have a cocktail shaker then you can just use a blender. Fill a glass with crushed ice and pour over, using a strainer if possible. Garnish with a wedge of lime and serve immediately!
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Aperol, I covered this particular bitter orange flavored liqueur in my blogpost Aperol Spritz at the Noho Star from February 5, 2014. In looking at his post, I wondered what a cocktail with Campari instead of Aperol would taste like.

Campari is similar to Aperol though Campari has a higher alcohol content than Aperol. Campari's ABV ranges from 20.5% to 28% ABV/41-56 Proof depending on the country that the Campari being produced for, while Aperol is 11% ABV/22 Proof. Campari is also a much bitter liqueur compared to the milder Aperol. Keeping this in mind, I came up with the following recipe:
Discampari Sour
2oz (60ml) Disaronno Amaretto
1oz (30ml) Campari
2 packets of Splenda
Juice of half a lime

In a cocktail shaker with ice, build the ingredients and shake vigorously to dissolve the sweetner. Strain into a glass with fresh ice. Garnish with a lime wedge and a cherry.
As you can see, I kept Kane's dimensions intact (2-1 Disaronno to Campari) though my cocktail has a bit more booze. I didn't use as much sweetener as he did since I already think that for my palatte, the Disaronno is sweet enough. The Campari pops out almost immediately on the back of the tongue and blends nicely with the Disaronno. The lime juice gives the cocktail a nice and light feel. It has a springlike quality that Melvin seemed to state when he tried the cocktail. I need to stick this in the cocktail arsenal.

Thanks to Kane for the post and inspiration. If you guys and gals are in the area and would like to try this cocktail, come on in. I'm behind the sticks on Sunday and Monday nights. I'd be glad to make it for you. =)

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A Taste of Oregon in New York City Part II

As I mentioned in my last post entitled A Taste of Portland in New York City Part I, I had a mother and daughter duo come into the bar last Sunday to watch Game 1 of the Portland Trail Blazers and the Houston Rockets. When the game went into overtime, she decided that she wanted a cocktail and ordered a Colorado Bulldog. I could only shrug when I told her that I had never heard of it. She described the ingredients as being the equal parts of vodka, kahlua, half and half and a splash of coke. Lucky for her we had some Half and Half in the fridge.

Here is how the Colorado Bulldog cocktail is prepared courtesy of Steve Calabro from the Bartending Bootcamp YouTube channel:

I asked her if she wanted it shaken and she preferred that I didn't shake it, unlike how it was done in the video. This is basically a White Russian with coke added. Why? Honestly I don't know. I decided to look a little deeper to see if I can find out where this cocktail comes from.

I came across David Herpin's article from the entitled Colorado Bulldog from November 6, 2010. In said article, Herpin states:
This drink is a direct descendant of the White Russian and appears as early as:

Le Grand Mixology International Bartenders Guide by James W. Johnson in 1978

"Colorado Bulldog - Vodka, Kahlúa, Heavy Cream, and Coca-Cola"

It is difficult to determine whether this drinks name derives from the Colorado State University Mascot or The breed of dog.
The current mascot for CSU is the Aggie Ram, which the article states has been so since 1945. As Herpin states, its hard to say whether this cocktail was named after the dog.

By the way, the dog bears a similar look to the Pit Bull Terrier, though the Colorado Bulldog Club of America makes it clear that this breed of dog is not the same as a Pit Bull Terrier. If you want more infomation of the Colorado Bulldog breed, click here: Colorado Bulldog Club of America. Back to the cocktail.

I thought to myself: Who can I make this cocktail for. Hmmmmm. Who else would like to try this out for me than the Mayor of the Bleecker Street Bar: The Kahuna himself.

Not surprisingly the Mayor liked the drink. Said that it was "tasty". Actually, I have to agree with him. The little taste of it that I had was indeed quite tasty. The addition of Coke gave it a nice light bubbly feel. Not sure how many of these I can have, but one every once in a while would work out. Thanks again to the lovely ladies of Oregon who were kind enough to visit us and introduce me to two new cocktails that I can add to my arsenal.

For my next post, I have a variation of a Disaronno Sour that I made based on another variation of a Disaronno Sour.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A Taste of Oregon in New York City Part I

On Sunday Night, I had a woman and her daughter come in to watch the Game 1 of the Portland Trail Blazers vs. the Houston Rockets. The mother comes up to the bar and orders a Red Beer. Now, me thinking she's actually ordering a red hued beer, I tell her that the only beer that comes close to that is a Bass. I'll touch on the Bass connection to the Red Beer that she ordered in a minute. She told me that a Red Beer is simply a beer with some tomato juice. That it is often used as a hangover cure but that she likes to drink it regularly. I can see how this is a combination of the "hair of the dog" and a hangover cure. When I'm hungover I like to drink a combination of fresh lime juice, orange juice and tomato juice pounded in one quick gulp. But back to the Red Beer.

In looking online for some references on a Red Beer, I came across the article entitled Brass Tacks
The mighty thirst of Don Younger by Brian Libby from Imbibe that touches briefly on why I though of Bass when the woman asked for a Red Beer:
“I had an English bartender who always drank a Bass ale after work,” Younger recalls. “He kept trying to get me to taste the Bass. I said, ‘If I want a red beer, I’ll pour some tomato juice in there.’
Now I'm not sure where the custom for adding tomato juice to a beer started but it really isn't any different than what my dad used to do by adding Clamato to a glass of Heineken back in the day. Here is the simple recipe for a Red Beer from
Red beer is popular in much of the West. We first came across it in Pendleton, Oregon, during the annual Roundup. Beer is always the main ingredient; tomato juice is second fiddle; but the exact ratio can vary from an effervescent 5:1, in which the beer is merely flavored, to a 2:1 mix as fruity as a drink in a health food juice bar. V-8 juice, regular or spicy, may be substituted for the tomato juice if desired.

1/2 cup tomato juice
12 ounces beer

Pour the tomato juice into a 16-ounce cup.
Gently pour in the beer, stirring just enough to mix but taking care not to stir out all the beer's bubbles.
I decided to give this little concoction a try and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. It was very light and quite refreshing. I would definitely have a Red Beer on a hot day while outdoors. Thanks for the eye-opening experience. =)

My next post will highlight the second Western flavored cocktail that the woman ordered from me called the Colorado Bulldog.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Monday, April 21, 2014

Fair. Quinoa Vodka

As I stated in my prior post: Green Spot Irish Whiskey, I mentioned that my friends and fellow bartenders know that if they have new spirits, I'm the man to try them out. Julia was at a local liquor store where a tasting for Fair. Quinoa Vodka was occurring. She liked the initial taste and decided to buy a bottle. Naturally she thought of me and brought in the bottle so I could have a taste. Before I go into how the vodka tastes, I want to go into what kind of vodka the company Fair. is making.

According to the Fair. Spirits website:
We are a spirits company, dedicated to high quality products that are sourced ethically and sustainably.

Our company believes in treating all people fairly. Our vision has taken us all over the world to source the best ingredients for our high quality spirits. We believe that all the people involved, in every stage of the process, should be treated equally.
Their vodka is made from Quinoa. Don't know what Quinoa is? Well according to the Live Science post for Quinoa What is Quinoa? by Elizabeth Palermo dated September 23, 2013:
Native to Bolivia, Chile, Peru and parts of Mexico, quinoa is a species of goosefoot (Chenopodium) whose seeds are traditionally used in soups, made into beer and ground into meal for making porridges and cakes.

Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) has been sustaining civilization in South and Central America for thousands of years. The tiny seeds of this plant were highly regarded by the Incas, and played a fundamental role in their empire. The Incas referred to quinoa as chisaya mama, or "mother of all grains," and believed that the plant provided warriors with strength and stamina in battle. The Incan emperor himself traditionally sowed the first seeds of the season with a special gold implement.

Though the Incas — as well as many present-day quinoa-lovers — referred to quinoa as a grain, the plant is actually an herb that thrives in cold, high elevations. While it's mostly grown in South America, farmers in the Rocky Mountains and in the Pacific Northwest have recently begun cultivating quinoa as well.
In terms of the vodka, Fair. creates it as such:
Our great taste comes from our high quality quinoa with a special production process – the result of a two-year joint research project between French distillers and Bolivian farmers.

Quinoa is the mother of all grains and is an ancient power food used by Incan warriors 5000 years ago. Quinoa is gluten free.

We source our quinoa from the Andean mountains of Bolivia. The Altiplano plateau is over 3000m above sea level where the quinoa grows in fertile soil on volcanic rock.

Then we carefully ship everything to the famous region of Cognac in France, where our Master Brewer / Distiller, Philip Laclie, with generations of French 'savoir faire', has perfected his techniques to make our incredible line of spirits.
Hence like the bottle states, Fair. Quinoa Vodka is distilled and bottled in France. So what do I think of it?

Julia kept the bottle on ice so it would cold. At first sip, the vodka had a slight burn going down. On the second sip I noticed that unlike other non flavored vodkas, this particular Vodka had a nice sweetness to it. It's not overpowering in the least and the sweetness tastes natural. It really is a nice change from the flavored vodkas out there that often try too hard to add artificial flavors to their products. Plus aside from the taste, the Fair. is trying to make a difference with their product and I think they should be commended for it.

Two interesting cocktail recipes that I came across containing Fair. Quinoa Vodka are The Green Eyed Monster which hails from Nic's Beverly Hills (453 North Cañon Drive Beverly Hills, CA 90210-4819, 310-550-5707) and The Re-Invention, which is the #1 selling cocktail at the Hôtel Americano (518 W 27th St, New York, NY, 212-216-0000)
The Green Eyed Monster
FAIR. Vodka
Freshly pressed cucumber juice
Green Chartreuse

The “Re-invention”
2oz of FAIR. Quinoa Vodka
1oz of Combier crème de pamplemousse
1oz of lime juice
1oz of blood orange juice
If you're ever near either one of these fine establishments, feel free and order yourself a cocktail containing Fair. Quinoa Vodka. Let me know what you think of it. And thanks to Julia for the taste. =)

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Monday, April 14, 2014

Green Spot Irish Whiskey

I have to love my friends and fellow bartenders. They know me so well. How so? Well, they know enough of me that if I walk into their place of work and there is a new spirit or something that they think that I haven't tried yet, they'll recommend it me. For example, the other night I walked down to Puck Fair (298 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012, 212-431-1200) to get some dinner (I got the Fish and Chips. I highly recommend it) and Spencer shows me a bottle of Irish Whisky that had the name of Green Spot Irish Whiskey. I'd never heard of it and decided to have a taste of it. Before I go into what I thought of it, I want to touch on the Green Spot itself.

According to Larry Olmstead in his article Two Deluxe Irish Whiskies Arrive In US from dated February 13, 2014, Green Spot Irish Whiskey was not available here in The United States until recently. The article states March 1st to be exact. This type of Whiskey differs from what is known as blended whiskeys. Where blended Whiskys are just how the name implies: made up of a blend of different whiskeys, Green Spot is known as a Single Pot Distilled Whiskey. According to the listing for Pot Still Irish Whiskey on the Single Pot Still website:
POT STILL IRISH WHISKEY is a style of whiskey which is unique to Ireland in general and to the Midleton Distillery, Co. Cork, in particular. It is regarded as the quintessential style of Irish whiskey.

Made from a mash of malted and unmalted barley, which is then triple distilled in traditional copper pot stills, Pot Still Irish Whiskeys are characterised by full, complex flavours and a wonderful, creamy mouthfeel. The inclusion of unmalted barley to the mashbill, along with the tradition of triple distillation, defines the character of Pot Still and this uniquely Irish approach to whiskey distillation.

Single Pot Still Whiskeys (whiskeys originating from a single distillery) were once the norm in Ireland and from the late 18th century to the early 20th century, Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey was the most sought after whiskey style in the world.

Indeed, by the turn of the 20th century, more Pot Still whiskey was exported from Ireland than any other whiskey style from any other country. However, a number of unfortunate coincidences led to the demise of full flavoured Pot Still Irish Whiskeys and to the rise of the lighter, more accessible, blended whiskeys which combined lighter grain whiskeys with the fuller flavoured Pot Still whiskeys or Malt whiskeys.

While Pot Still Irish Whiskey continues to be used as a key component in many well known brands of blended Irish whiskey, by the turn of the millennium only two Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey brands had survived – Redbreast & Green Spot. However, in recent years this style of whiskey has enjoyed a renewed groundswell of interest from whiskey writers and enthusiasts alike, giving rise to demand for new expressions and now, to the ‘Single Pot Still Irish Whiskeys of Midleton’ range.
In terms of Green Spot in particular:
Green Spot is a non age statement Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey and is comprised of Pot Still Whiskeys aged between 7 and 10 years. The whiskey has matured in a combination of new bourbon and refill bourbon casks as well as Sherry casks.

Only small quantities of Green Spot are bottled each year. No real reason why. Drink some more and we'll bottle some more.

Nose: Fresh aromatic oils and spices with orchard fruits and barley on a background of toasted wood

Taste: Full spicy body. A hint of cloves along with the fruity sweetness of green apples, rounded off with toasted oak.

Finish: Lingering flavours of licorice and barley.
Olmstead states that in Ireland there are three versions of the Green Spot, including a 10 and 12 year old, as well as sibling Yellow Spot and is produced in very limited quantities about only 12,000 bottles each year.

Now, I really can't say that I could taste cloves, green apples or licorice. But I do have to say that this is arguably the smoothest Irish Whisky that I have ever tasted. I found that the Green Spot didn't have that burn or kick that most other Irish Whiskeys that I have tasted has. It was smooth on the lips, tongue and throat upon the initial sip with a subtle sweetness. Even after knocking back the rest of the shot, the whiskey went down nice and easy. I highly recommend it if you see it at your local bar or local liquor store.

For my next post, another friend and fellow bartender Julia brought me a taste of a new vodka that she came across at a tasting: Fair Quinoa Vodka.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Two Irish Whiskies on a Tuesday Night

On Tuesday we decided to go out for Myron's birthday and had two stops we were going to make. The first was Soldier McGee's on the Upper West Side (480 Amsterdam Avenue, NY, NY 212-579-4299). Spencer was about to pour us a round of shots when I noticed a bottle behind the bar that a Spencer described as being "similar to Paddy's."

- 2 Gingers
According to the website for 2 Gingers Whisky:
2 GINGERS® whiskey is faithfully distilled at the famed Kilbeggan Distillery in Ireland, formerly called the Cooley Distillery. The award-winning spirit is smooth, malty, and slightly sweet to start, with a tingle of honey and citrus. The woody essence of this four-year-aged blend suggests caramel and vanilla to the finish.
Kieran Folliard was inspired by his fiery-haired mother and aunt to start 2 GINGERS® WHISKEY, the spirit over which ideas travel forward. Mary and Delia, whose faces are found on our bottle, never wasted a good idea by pondering its impossibilities. 2 GINGERS® WHISKEY is a product of an  undeniable urge to make a go of a good idea.
In terms of how it is made and tastes:
Smooth, malty, and slightly sweet to start, with a tingle of honey and citrus. 2 GINGERS® is a blended Irish whiskey, distilled twice and aged four years in the mild climate at the Cooley Distillery.
I took a sip of the Whisky and found it to be very, very smooth. It didn't have the harshness that some Irish Whiskys I've tasted can have. The back end of the shot had a nice kick.

After we were done at Soldier's, we cabbed it over to the Upper East to visit Pete at Bailey's Corner Pub (1607 York Ave, New York, NY 212-650-1341). Walking in the door with Myron and the Kahuna, the shots were being lined up. What was Pete pouring? As if fate intervened, Pete was pouring the aforementioned Paddy's Irish Whisky.

- Paddy's Irish Whisky
According to the Paddy's Irish Whisky website:
Call it fate. Call it luck. But in 1882, a young Patrick J. O’Flaherty was in need of a job, and Cork Distilleries Company was in need of a salesman. And while the perks of having whiskey as the product you’re selling was a draw, this legendary pairing of man and drink was fueled by something bigger. Soon whiskey glasses everywhere would never be the same...From Cork, to Mallow to Macroom, Paddy took to selling whiskey like a duck to water. At every pub along the way, he sold more than just the taste of "Old Irish Whiskey," making friends at every stop along the way. He embodied fun and good times and the next round’s on him.
By 1913, when pubs ran low on stock, they wrote to the folks in Cork, not for more “Cork Distilleries Company Old Irish Whiskey,” but for more of “Paddy’s Whiskey.” And because of the success of Paddy, the distillery officially changed the name of its whiskey to “Paddy Irish Whiskey.” A whiskey not named for the founder but for the man who made it his calling. The ultimate compliment in good taste and good times.
In terms of how its made:
It’s the ingredients that make PADDY stand for quality. It’s a tribute to what’s inside and gives the whiskey its distinctive soft and mellow taste: Barley harvested from the East Cork countryside; water from the river Dungourney, and malt and our special distiller’s yeast. All these ingredients make for a whiskey as unique as the man himself.
Not all whiskey is created equal. What separates PADDY Irish Whiskey from others is the addition of malt and the triple distillation process, which makes it soft and mellow. After fermentation, the wash is pumped to the first of three copper pot-stills; the Wash Still for distillation. Under the care of the Master Distiller, this process is repeated two more times: Once in the Feint Still and again in the Spirit Still, to get that great Irish Whiskey taste. It’s then filled into oak casks to rest and mature for years before the final careful blending process.
I found it to be quite smooth and I can see why Spencer said that the 2 Gingers Whisky bears a resemblance to Paddy's. I'm surprised that Paddy's isn't found as easily as let's say Jameson, Powers or even Bushmills whisky. Maybe they should engage in an ad campaign similar to Bushmills' "Since Way Back"

Well, maybe not. ;) Those ads irritate me. They come off as being fake. I know who drinks Bushmills at the bar and its not any of these people. Oh well. That's enough of the Irish Whisky for one night. Any recommendations on which Irish Whisky brands to try next?

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla