And One Last Recession Cocktail

This third drink is from 10 Cane too, and I think it's my favorite:

1 1/2 oz 10 Cane rum, 1/2 oz Grand Marnier, 1 oz pom juice, 1 oz OJ, 1 oz lemon juice, 1 oz simple syrup, shake it up, pour into a chilled glass, add crushed ice (I used a couple cubes).

OJ-based drinks don't tend to be my favorites, but the OJ doesn't overwhelm this cocktail. It's a great blend of flavors and one of the best new cocktails I've made lately. Tangerine juice would probably also work well, since they're in season right now, or even pink grapefruit juice.

Very Dry Martinis

I used to be (and I guess still am) a big fan of the English poet and essayist Wystan Auden. He was a big martini drinker (out of jelly jars) and supposedly said that his idea of a dry martini was to wave the vermouth bottle over the glass (without opening it).

A similar story circulates about Winston Churchill. Frankly, I don't think a 'martini' without any vermouth, Lillet blanc, or similar aromatic white wine-based liqueur can really be called a martini. It's just chilled gin. I won't go into my thought about 'vodka martinis'.

My cocktail calendar had a dry martini for this weekend (they call it a 'naked martini'), so I mixed up three versions. For all three, I used Gordon's gin.

For the first, I soaked my almond-stuff olive in the vermouth, then plunked it in my chilled (stirred, not shaken) gin. This was my favorite. Maybe because I love olives. But the vermouth seemed to diffuse into the gin just the right amount.

For the second, I swirled some vermouth around a chilled glass, dumped it out(into a paper cup; no need wasting it), then poured in my chilled gin. This was my least favorite. I could smell the vermouth, but it didn't seem to blend with the gin at all - or at least not very much.

For the third, I poured the vermouth over the ice in my glass, swished it about, poured it out, then poured in the gin, stirred it, and poured it in my chilled cocktail glass. After lying down in a state of exhaustion from all the work, I tried this one. The gin and vermouth had blended better than in the previous one. It wasn't bad, but not as good as the version number one (and I'd even plunked an olive in it).

I'll have to remember the olive soaked in vermouth trick when I order an aperitif, to irritate the bartender. Or maybe number three to really tick him off.

Another Recession Cocktail

I had a busy weekend around the house washing windows, cleaning out gutters, shampooing carpets - and other stuff besides. Now all I have left is to get some bulbs in when we get a nice day.

After I took the carpet shampooer back to Home Depot, I was ready for a stiff drink, so I stirred up another one of the recipes from the folks at 10 Cane: 2 oz 10 Cane, 1 oz simple syrup, 3/4 oz lime juice, a few dashes of bitters, stir with a candy cane (which I didn't have).

I like this one a lot. A nice simple drink, and I wouldn't have expected the bitters (which remind me of mincemeat for some reason - I'm about the only person I know who likes mincemeat pie around the holidays) to work with this combination, but they do. I bet grapefruit bitters would be good in it too. After all the work I did this weekend, I think I deserve another one.

Bailout Drinks

The nice folks at 10 Cane rum sent me some stock market/bailout-related cocktail recipes. I'm ahead in my daily calendar, so I'll be reporting on these over the next couple days.

I'm just not a big rum fan and haven't developed a taste for even the more expensive varieties this year. But I like 10 Cane. It's light and a good mixer, and not as overwhelmingly 'rummy' as many rums are.

The first is called The Bailout, and it's easy, like the money in our bailout: 2 oz 10 Cane, 1/2 oz lime juice, 3-4 oz ginger beer, all on ice. Everything tastes better with ginger beer or ale. I'm using Stirrings.

A nice drink: just enough citrus without it being overwhelming (like too many of the cocktails in my calendar this year), and the 10 Cane goes well with the ginger beer. I like it!

Coffee Drinks

My calendar had 3 coffee drinks last week, which I got around to mixing up the last couple days. My local Starbucks is closing in 2 weeks (don't get me started on my unhappy feelings towards that company; their stock can go down a lot more), so I needed to get my espresso while I still could.

The first drink called for regular hot coffee, tequila, Kahlua, and brown sugar. This was my favorite of the three. I'm not a big tequila fan, but here it gives the coffee a nice kick, and the Kahlua and brown sugar (which makes anything taste better) add some nice flavors.

Drink no. 2 was vanilla vodka, espresso, Kahlua, and creme de cacao. This was a bit too after-dinner drink for me, and too chocolatey. Not bad if you like sweet coffee drinks.

The last one was cold espresso, reposado tequila, Kahlua, and Irish cream (I used Carolans). This one was better than the previous drink. I like reposado tequila and mezcal better than the silver stuff (Patron's popularity is a triumph of marketing over being worth the money), and it works well here. The Kahlua didn't predominate, and the Carolans peeked through in the background. A good drink.

Cocktail Royale

I watched Casino Royale (the recent, 'real' version) again last night and was shaken, not stirred. But do I look like I give a damn?

I tried mixing the Vesper martini that Bond orders during the poker game: Gordon's gin, vodka (Svedka), Lillet (he ordered a brand no longer made; I used Lillet blanc).

I could have sworn he told the waiter 2 parts Gordon's to 1 part vodka and half part Lillet. But on, they say it's 3 parts Gordon's. Internet Cocktail Database says so too. My one time for being wrong this month.

The first time I made it, pre-imdb'ing, I used my 2 parts Gordon's version. It was OK, didn't convince me that it's the best martini ever. The Lillet brings some nice sweetness to it; I've come to appreciate Lillet in general this year. Like Felix Leitner, I skipped the fruit.

This afternoon I started my drinking way earlier than usual and shook up the correct version with 3:1:1/2 proportions. This is certainly a gin martini. I'm not sure but that the Lillet flavors get lost amongst the juniper and other herbal flavors of the gin. I wonder how Campari would work in it. The vodka certainly gives it an added kick.

But, going against my usual inclination to avoid vegetative matter in my cocktails, I must disagree with Mr. Leitner and say that I think a strip of lemon would add just the right finishing touch.

Old Drinks, New Drinks

I caught up on a bellini recipe from May a couple days ago. I'd held off making it till my calendar called for another drink with prosecco, and oddly enough (going all summer long without a perfect prosecco-based summer drink), it just recently had another one.

The bellini called for white peach puree. You're not going to find that fresh either in May or in November. I didn't even see semi-fresh peaches at WallyWorld, so I bought a can of diced ones, muddled a few in the bottom of the glass, added a bit of creme de peche, and topped with prosecco (Bottega moscato spumante, actually).

It wasn't bad, not my favorite sparkling wine cocktail, but drinkable. I made another one with a bit of passion fruit liqueur along with the creme de peche (and skipped the fruit, as is my wont), and that was even better.

The new drink from this month called for prosecco, vanilla vodka, lemon juice, and another ingredient, I think (I've managed to misplace that day from the calendar).

The vanilla vodka goes well with the prosecco. I bet another liqueur with strong vanilla flavors like Licor 49 (or whatever number it is) would blend nicely too.

My Last Champagne Cocktail

Of this batch, at any rate. Towards the end of December my calendar has a few more.

This last champagne cocktail, dating from October, called for Ouzo, which I'd bought a couple months ago seeing that I was going to need it, Mextaxa (however you spell it), ginger beer, maybe another ingredient that I'm forgetting at the moment (probably lemon juice; my calendar's author loves citrus), topped with champagne.

I'd bought a little 4 pack of Stirling ginger ale at my local liquor mart. Frankly, it's blah, not much flavor. Not as commercial tasting as Canada Dry, but not as good as the other ginger ale/beer that I usually find in the organic foods aisle (don't remember that either; I'm having a quasi-senior moment day).

I've grown to like anise flavors as I've made cocktails with them the last six months. This drink was OK but really didn't turn me on. Maybe in part because the Korbel had lost a lot of its fizz in the fridge. I drank about half of the cocktail, and kitchen sinked the rest.

I don't have any more recipes calling for ouzo, so I think I'll be donating that to a needy friend who likes it at the end of the year. I'll stick with Ricard and Herbsaint.

Another Champagne Cocktail

Continuing my week of champagne cocktails (I'm jumping forward through my calendar and hopefully drinking most if not all of the champagne recipes for the remainder of this year), I made one last night with parfait amour, cointreau, lemon juice, and champagne (I'm drinking Korbel from Sam's Club).

The recipe calls for 2 violets floated on top. At this time of year? Unfortunately my parents don't grow violets anymore. Instead I pulled out my bottle of creme de violette, which I'd bought for a pousse cafe (the less said about my attempts at layering the better), and drizzled in a few drops.

This is a nice drink. It's sweet but not too sweet, and the flavors blend nicely, especially the cointreau with the parfait amour. I don't think creme de violette tastes much like violets (yes, I've tasted one before), but a little more purple never hurt anything. I bet you could use it for coloring frosting and giving it some flavor.

100 Drinks to Drink Before You Can't Drink Anymore

(or die, whichever comes first)

This list of 100 drinks to drink comes from, which got the idea from a list of 100 foods to eat before you die (not all of them things I want to eat because they might kill me: horse, roadkill, ...).

I count 52 of the 100 that I've drunk. I need to check my tequila and cognac supply to see if they qualify, I may have drunk a pisco sour and just don't remember, and I'm willing to substitute my Guyanan rum for their Cuban rum. I'm not game on drinking the Canadian cough syrup.

How many of these have you drunk?

List of Drinks You Must Try Before You Expire

1. Manhattan Cocktail
2. Kopi Luwak (Weasle Coffee)
3. French / Swiss Absinthe
4. Rootbeer
5. Gin Martini
6. Sauternes
7. Whole Milk
8. Tequila (100% Agave)
9. XO Cognac
10. Espresso
11. Spring Water (directly from the spring)
12. Gin & Tonic
13. Mead
14. Westvleteren 12 (Yellow Cap) Trappist Ale
15. Chateau d’Yquem
16. Budweiser
17. Maraschino Liqueur
18. Mojito
19. Orgeat
20. Grand Marnier
21. Mai Tai (original)
22. Ice Wine (Canadian)
23. Red Bull
24. Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice
25. Bubble Tea
26. Tokaji
27. Chicory
28. Islay Scotch
29. Pusser’s Navy Rum
30. Fernet Branca
31. Fresh Pressed Apple Cider
32. Bourbon
33. Australian Shiraz
34. Buckley’s Cough Syrup
35. Orange Bitters
36. Margarita (classic recipe)
37. Molasses & Milk
38. Chimay Blue
39. Wine of Pines (Tepache)
40. Green Tea
41. Daiginjo Sake
42. Chai Tea
43. Vodka (chilled, straight)
44. Coca-Cola
45. Zombie (Beachcomber recipe)
46. Barley Wine
47. Brewed Choclate (Xocolatl)
48. Pisco Sour
49. Lemonade
50. Speyside Single Malt
51. Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee
52. Champagne (Vintage)
53. Rosé (French)
54. Bellini
55. Caipirinha
56. White Zinfandel (Blush)
57. Coconut Water
58. Cerveza
59. Cafe au Lait
60. Ice Tea
61. Pedro Ximenez Sherry
62. Vintage Port
63. Hot Chocolate
64. German Riesling
65. Pina Colada
66. El Dorado 15 Year Rum
67. Chartreuse
68. Greek Wine
69. Negroni
70. Jägermeister
71. Chicha
72. Guiness
73. Rhum Agricole
74. Palm Wine
75. Soju
76. Ceylon Tea (High Grown)
77. Belgian Lambic
78. Mongolian Airag
79. Doogh, Lassi or Ayran
80. Sugarcane Juice
81. Ramos Gin Fizz
82. Singapore Sling
83. Mint Julep
84. Old Fashioned
85. Perique
86. Jenever (Holland Gin)
87. Chocolate Milkshake
88. Traditional Italian Barolo
89. Pulque
90. Natural Sparkling Water
91. Cuban Rum
92. Asti Spumante
93. Irish Whiskey
94. Château Margaux
95. Two Buck Chuck
96. Screech
97. Akvavit
98. Rye Whisky
99. German Weissbier
100. Daiquiri (classic

List from

Champgne Cocktails Part XVIII

I was going to try to catch up on champagne cocktail recipes over the weekend, but it was so nasty here, I just didn't feel like it. It's almost as bad today (albeit no rain), but I forced myself. The bottle of Korbel was calling me. Or maybe whistling.

I started with two "Monte Carlo" cocktails that were back to back in my calendar last week. They're so similar that I wonder why the author didn't list the second as a variant, but from the taste of some of her cocktails lately (e.g., gold rum, lots of lime juice, a little cranberry juice - too tart for me), I think she ran out of ideas mid-summer and is just filling up days now.

Both use gin (I'm using Calvert's, which I bought only because I hadn't tried it before, and I wouldn't try it again; even Gordon's has more taste), lemon juice, and creme de menthe (I'm using white/clear), topped with champagne. The only difference is the amount of gin and lemon juice.

Champagne cocktails are the few cocktails that I've tried for the first time this year that I would drink regularly. I didn't like creme de menthe particularly before I started this cocktail odyssey, but it's sort of grown on me, along with Ricard, Herbsaint, and similar liqueurs.

This is an OK cocktail, especially the variant with a full 1.5 oz of gin and an oz of lemon juice. Sometimes I don't go along with my calendar author's love of citrus, but the lemon works pretty well here. A sweeter champagne might work better in this cocktail, or a little cranberry juice perhaps, but it's OK.

Eat something between glasses, though. A moderately strong cheese on crackers would go well with it. Two glasses pack a punch on just a can of soup and cottage cheese for lunch! (I'm American; that's what we eat for lunch now. We're monks and don't know it.)

Joyeux Noyaux

I was skipping around in my calendar looking for an easy drink to mix yesterday, and I found one calling for creme de noyaux. I'd had a recipe, maybe two, earlier this year calling for it, so I have the larger part of a bottle collecting dust in my liquor closet. Once this year of drinking is up, I may see what effect it has on a peach tree growing in my neighbors' (since moved, house not selling) yard.

Noyaux is basically the French version of amaretto, just pinker, and sweeter. Very pinker. And it tastes like almonds, of course.

The drink called for noyaux, brandy, cointreau, grenadine, and a couple dashes of bitters. On the first sip, my initial reaction was, Boy, is this sweet. But as I sipped more, it began to grow on me. In the end, it wasn't a bad cocktail, and I don't tend to like sweet drinks. I found another version of this on Internet Cocktail Database that calls for orgeat in place of the grenadine; that might be interesting too.

On the back of the noyaux bottle, I noticed a recipe for raspberry coffee cake, or some such silly drink name: noyaux, half a cup of cold coffee, half and half, and raspberry liqueur. Not enough real alcohol for my taste.

Well, it's pink (sort of - more like pink-brown) and foamy, but it doesn't taste like any coffee cake I've ever eaten. It didn't have much taste at all actually.

But the real question is: does the cream form an emulsion when you shake it? Only the boys on Top Chef know for sure.

Sangaree, Sangara

A month or so ago my cocktail a day calendar had a recipe for a sangaree. I was intrigued by these cocktails, new to me, and wrote myself a note to experiment with various versions one of these days. Yesterday was one of those days.

Sangaree is derived from sangria, which is derived from the word for blood. In its basic form, the sangaree, a West Indies drink supposedly, is a base liquor on ice, usually sweetened (sugar or simple syrup), sprinkled with nutmeg, and more often than not port floated to top it off, which of course adds more sweetness. You can add a lemon wheel for a little extra zing.

I tried four versions. The first was one of my own concocting: Southern Comfort, simple syrup (or maybe I didn't use it in this one; it didn't need it), creme de peche, a wheel of lemon, nutmeg, and port. Southern Comfort goes good in anything, and this cocktail was pretty good, maybe even great. The nutmeg went well with the peach flavors in SC, turbo-charged by the creme de peche.

The second was gin (I used Tanqueray 10), simple syrup, nutmeg, port. I don't remember much about this one, except that it was drinkable, if not rememorable.

Third on my list was a variation on #2: gin, Benedictine, grapefruit juice, lemon wedge, nutmeg, port. I had a grapefruit but didn't want to juice it just to get a squirt for this, so I used - with some trepidation - pineapple juice (from a can) instead.

To my surprise, the pineapple juice worked pretty well; it didn't overwhelm all the other flavors. I like Benedictine, which worked in combination with the other flavors, including all the herbal notes in the gin. A pretty drinkable drink too.

Last was a whiskey sangaree: I used Jack Daniels, simple syrup, lemon chunk, nutmeg, port. I have a love-hate relationship with whiskey drinks. I like 'em sometimes; other times they just don't do it for me. This tended towards the don't do it for me category. Drinkable, but I didn't love it. I'd make the Southern Comfort one instead.

So try a sangaree sometime. They're a nice change from your usual cocktail.

Negroni Nation

The other day I had a recipe for a Punt e Mes negroni, so I played around with several variations last night.

Punt e Mes, if you're not familiar with it, is an Italian quinquina. On the bottle it calls itself a vermouth, but it's very close to Campari. Sort of halfway between the two,

The recipe for a negroni called for an ounce of gin (I used Tanqueray 10), ounce of sweet vermouth, half ounce of PeM. A good drink: I don't usually like sweet vermouth, but it worked here, maybe because of the quasi bitterness from the PeM.

An option at the bottom of my calendar page was to top it with club soda, so for my second attempt I did that. Nope - just confirms my bias that you shouldn't dilute most (good) liquor with water, bubbles or not.

No. 3 was a negroni with just the PeM, increased to an ounce, and no vermouth. This one didn't work; it had a sharp edge. The sweet vermouth definitely helps mellow it out.

And, last but not least, the classical negroni with Campari and sweet vermouth (in equal parts) and only a half ounce of gin. I didn't like this as much as the original PeM, vermouth, and gin version (maybe because that has twice as much gin). The bitterness of the Campari overwhelms this negroni, whereas the herbs and other secret ingredients are much subtler in the PeM version.

Now just try to find bars and restaurants that stock Punt e Mes to make it with.

November 11, Veterans Day, Part 1

Part 1 of a two-drink report for today. My first recipe from my calendar is the one for today: roughly equal parts bourbon and OJ, with a splash (1/2 oz) of Benedictine. I used Jack Daniels Black.

Not a bad cocktail, and you get your vitamin C. I even stirred (not shook) it in my new Maker's Mark mixing glass and strained it, as instructed. I'm a Benedictine fan, which brings nice flavor to the drink. But if you didn't eat much lunch, like I didn't, this may knock you on your ass. Time for a nap.

A Drink to Soothe the Stomach (& the Nerves)

As the cocktail year winds down, the author of my daily drink calendar seems to be running out of ideas. More often than not the recipes are 3rd tier, from the take 2 sips and throw the rest in the sink class of cocktails.

I made a couple this weekend like this: one with brandy, applejack, and sweet vermouth. The vermouth was strangely muted, but then so was the overall taste of the drink.

Another one called for Fernet Branca, which has odd, menthol-like notes. It may work in some drinks or as an aperitif - I need to play around with it one of these days - but it doesn't work with creme de menthe and brandy.

One cocktail that came close was supposedly a favorite of Bond author Ian Fleming's and the British garrisons in the Raj, who used it to soothe their stomach after an encounter with a man-eating tigger or a native.

You swirl bitters in a glass (they used a sherry glass; I used a miniature A&W rootbeer mug), dump it out, then straight gin, with a glass of water on the side.

I only took a few sips, mainly because I was liquored out from my tasting the other drinks, but I can see how this would be a nice after dinner drink sitting out on the terrace at Goldeneye (actually the name of Fleming's estate in Jamaica). A better gin (I was using Calvert's) and maybe orange or Peychaud's bitters would make it even better.

Two OJ Drinks

Harvey Wallbangers are fairly recent concoctions, around only since 1952 and, if I read wikipedia right, going by this name only since 1982 (something to do with the Milwaukee Brewers).

I made a Wallbanger when I was brewing up some Galliano drinks back in the spring. It's an easy drink: OJ, vodka, and Galliano floated, or at least thrashing across the surface of the drink.

I liked it better this time. The Galliano brings a nice herbal note to an otherwise boring OJ and vodka. I think another ingredient could make it really good; I'll have to play around with my mixology set sometime.

The other OJ drink from my calendar of a few days ago with OJ, amaretto, vanilla vodka, and cream; they called it a 'dreamsickle.' I haven't had many drink recipes this year calling for amaretto; it's been one of my favorite liqueurs for a long time.

Not a bad cocktail; how could it be, with heavy cream in it? Sweet, but with only 1/4 ounce of the vanilla vodka, that doesn't come through much. A nice after-dinner drink in lieur of dessert. But who orders dessert anymore?

Good Drink, Bad Drink

The first recipe from my calendar today was actually the recipe for today: a perfect Manhattan. Bourbon (I used Maker's Mark), dry vermouth, sweet vermouth, and bitters. I took two sips, said Yuck, and poured it out. Sweet and dry vermouth together just don't do it for me. Rye instead of bourbon might have helped the taste.

The second was gold tequila (I used Jose), OJ, pineapple juice, cointreau, and grenadine. This was very orangey tasting, but at least the pineapple juice didn't overwhelm everything else and the grenadine didn't make it too pink. A good brunch drink, I suppose, packing in the ol' vitamin C for the day, but I wouldn't drink it often.

Sweett Drinks, Part I Forget

Still catching up, I made a 'Death by Chocolate' cocktail from a few days ago: vodka, dark creme de cacao, Irish cream, and chocolate ice cream (I splurged and bought Walgreen's).

Chocolate ice cream isn't my favorite, but this wasn't bad. Strawberry with strawberry liqueur instead of the creme de cacao might work, or butter pecan with butterscotch schnapps. The vodka came through a bit strong; Absolut would be my pick next time.

Moving on to a shooter: vodka, butterscotch schnapps, and Irish cream. I upped the recipe from a half ounce each to an ounce to make it worthwhile.

Very sweet, and fratboyish. The vodka didn't overwhelm in this one, but butterscotch schnapps is like pineapple juice: it usually takes over a cocktail.

Now it's time for some insulin.

Catching Up

I've gotten behind again on my drinking. For one thing, I went to Chicago last weekend. I took some daiquiri recipes to make for the friends I was staying with, but I bought a new bottle of cachaca, and ended up introducing them to caipirinhas instead. They liked 'em. Then, there's the fact that the recipes in my calendar have been decidedly uninspiring the last week; the ones for Halloween look awful, but I'll make them at some point just to say I did.

My evolving tastes in cocktails landed me in a funny exchange in a Greek restaurant on the far north side of Chicago. I ordered a campari and gin with lime as an aperitif. The waistress said, You want what? I said, blah blah blah. Calamari and gin? No, campari. I don't know if we have that; I'll have to check the computer. They did. I wrote it down so she'd get it right. A few minutes later she came back: The bartender wants to know if you want soda with that; it sounds weird. Nope, just as I ordered it. And I finally got it. Both my friends had never had one. One of them didn't like the bitterness. The other one made the shrewd comment that he got the bitter at first, but then the sweetness came through.

Last night here at chez dogs and cats I fixed two cocktails from my calendar: one with Southern Comfort (I haven't had enough recipes with that this year), cranberry juice (I used pom, since I had it), lemon and lime. Not a bad drink, though equal parts pom with the Comfort overwhelmed it.

The second drink was gin (I have anew bottle of Calverts; not my favorite one I've tried this year) with a little OJ, a little lemon juice, and a splash of grenadine. It was OK, not my favorite gin cocktail. And awfully pink.