Cocktail O’Clock: Happy Snowy Spring

Honeydew Cucumber Sour - Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain

OK SERIOUSLY?!? Four to six inches of snowfall in New York today…on the first day of spring?

I don’t care what the weather says, we are ready for some springtime drinks.

Here’s an enticing recipe that comes to us all the way from elements restaurant at Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain in Paradise Valley, Arizona, a place where I would really like to be right now, because I am pretty sure that it is not freaking snowing there.

Honeydew Cucumber Sour

· 1oz Martin Miller’s Reformed Dry Gin

· .5oz fresh lemon Juice

· 1.5oz fresh honeydew juice

· ¼oz  Clover Honey Syrup (here’s a recipe)

· 1 dash Regan’s No. 6 Orange Bitters

·Shake, pour and add sliced cucumber as garnish. Eff the snow.

Blackberry Resolution Cocktail

Cocktail O’ Clock: Blackberry Resolution

Blackberry Resolution Cocktail

Let’s be real, even though we always resolve to drink less in the new year, it doesn’t often happen. So this year, I’m resolving to drink better – quality over quantity, that kind of thing. My friends at Austin’s Mettle have the perfect cocktail to kick off this goal. The Blackberry Resolution is made with all sorts of deliciousness – gin, citrus, blackberry, and yes, my very favorite: champagne.

Bartender Brice Davis says, “I wanted to make a drink that made every man feel comfortable about drinking gin and bubbles.” That’s all well and good (and some guys I know are weird about drinking champagne, which is ridiculous because champagne is the best thing ever), but I think this cocktail is perfect for any human’s celebration, no matter their gender.

Happy 2015!

Blackberry Resolution

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Boodles Gin Cocktail

Cocktail O’ Clock: The Violet Crown

Boodles Gin Cocktail

While this cocktail may seem a bit more at home at a springtime garden party than a cozy fall evening, I can’t wait until next spring to share this recipe! It’s too good. First of all, starting with a premium gin base like this Boodles British Gin ensures a satisfying libation. (I can handle my share of cheap alcohol, but I just can’t do cheap gin. It has to be the good stuff. Boodles sent me a bottle to try and I knew I had to do it justice with a sophisticated cocktail recipe.) Secondly, the addition of Creme Yvette adds a refreshing and unique twist. If you’re not familiar with Creme Yvette I won’t hold it against you; it’s a relatively obscure, older liqueur that was just rereleased on the market a few years ago. It’s made from (…deep breath…)  parma violet petals, blackberries, red raspberries, wild strawberries and cassis, honey, orange peel and vanilla. What do you get when you combine these two boozy delights? HEAVEN!

I named this cocktail the Violet Crown because Creme Yvette is a purple-y (well, violet, obviously) color, and I live in Austin, a city that happens to have the nickname of “The Violet Crown.” So… why not?

Violet Crown Cocktail

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Resolving to Make My Own Gin

Everything is DIY these days. People brew their own beer. Urban farmers with backyard chicken coops and beehives are multiplying exponentially…or at least, here in Austin they are. It was only a matter of time before Americans took certain matters into their own hands and started distilling their own homemade liquors as well.

Luckily for us agriculturally-challenged folks, the dudes at the Homemade Gin Kit have our backs. No Boardwalk Empire bathtub swill for us in 2013! Instead, you can send away for a big box packed with (almost) everything you need to create your very own bottle of gin. For $40 plus tax and shipping, they’ll send you juniper berries, a mix of botanicals, spices, and flowers, two glass swing top liquor bottles, a double mesh fine strainer, a funnel, and detailed instructions. All you need to have is your own bottle of mid-grade vodka, and a little bit of patience.

I was fortunate enough to score a sample of the Gin Kit before it was released to the public this holiday season, and I’ll be honest: while the idea of making my own booze was undeniably appealing, I was a liiiiiittle bit skeptical. Could I really make gin just by throwing some dried herbs into a bottle of vodka? Also, I’m pretty picky about gin quality (unlike boxed wine or  well vodka, I actually have standards when it comes to gin, because the cheap stuff makes me nauseous)—would this creation even be up to my standards?

Well, if anyone was up for the challenge of finding out, it was THIS GIRL.

Here’s what came out of my kit:


Here you can see all the supplies I listed above (plus my own bottle of Vikingfjord Vodka, which is pretty good, and a steal at $10ish!) The equipment is all high-quality stuff—-the glass bottles are really nice and sturdy, and the strainer and funnel are solid as well. I will definitely add these to permanent rotation in my kitchen tool collection.

Anyway, the process is pretty simple. You add some of the juniper to the vodka bottle, wait a day-ish, add the rest of the botanicals, wait longer, than strain out all the crud and funnel the remaining liquid into the glass bottles. Ta-da, gin! The process of making the gin itself took about a weekend (as in, spending 5-10 minutes on each step, every other part was just waiting) and it was fun and exciting. I guess the excitement factor depends on how thrilled you get about booze, but we all know how I feel about that.

Here’s me fulfilling my destiny with the last part of the process, funneling the gin into its final home:

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An ‘Ordinary’ Test

I recently discovered that in terms of my own personal liquor tastes, I am a ‘connoisseur of the ordinary.’

When I walk into a bar, my personal liquor preference list is this: bourbon, scotch, rye, vodka, red wine, white wine, beer. And although I could drink bourbon with every meal, I traditionally pair certain foods with certain liquors. Red wines with steaks and Italian food, white wines with fish and chicken, rye or bourbon with sandwiches and burgers, and beer with pizza. Scotch I usually drink by itself, with a cigar or as a dessert.

But whatever the drink, when it comes to my liquors of choice, I’m not usually a top shelf kind’a guy. My taste palette favors blends over single barrel drinks. I can appreciate a good single-malt scotch or one-barrel whiskey, but I always revert back to my ‘everyman’ blends. It appears that my taste buds are about as sophisticated as reality TV. In the immortal words of Popeye, “I yam what I yam!” I’ve long ago given up trying to appease the upscale opinions of those who love looking down on us poor, working class stiffs—with our common-place tastes and our bargain basement choices. You can enjoy your French Champagne pinky-up with the rest of the guests, and I’ll have my shot and a beer with the bar staff and servers.

Recently, I decided to run a personal taste test, to see if I really do prefer cheap liquor over “the good stuff.”

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Wine Enemas…They’ll Get You in the End

Oh those crazy college kids! What will they do next? Being that I’m a fan of most things alcohol related, I recently came across an article about a college student that was partaking in a little nontraditional wine tasting. That is, he decided that chugging it would take too much time to create a buzz, so he somehow reasoned that it would be better to go in through the out door. This way of introducing alcohol into the bloodstream is faster and consequently more dangerous than sipping it the old fashioned way. He was in fact, brought into the hospital with a 0.40 blood alcohol limit, which is lethal in most cases.

There have been times in the past where I’ve wanted to get a little ‘loose,’ and I’ve partaken in the time-honored method of consuming shots of alcohol in various formats: Jell-o shots, body shots, flaming shots…but never have I thought of applying this technique through my rectum. Call me old fashioned, but I rather like the taste of most liquors, so it seems that bypassing the tongue while introducing it into the bloodstream is cheating me out of a great deal of pleasure.

I’m hoping that this is an isolated incident and that the trend doesn’t catch on, particularly with wine. Wine tastings could become very messy, and the rating categories would change dramatically. ‘Back taste’ would take on a whole other meaning and the serving temperature would have to be a major consideration. Some champagnes and sparkling wine would take your breath away upon introduction and certainly wouldn’t appeal to the ticklish.

I know I’m showing my age here, but shot-gunning a beer or pouring it through a funnel seemed a pretty quick way of creating a buzz when I was in college. Maybe I’m lame but getting drunk by pouring junk-in-your-trunk seems a bit extreme. Food and drink should be pleasurable, relaxed experiences shared amongst family and friends. I hate to hurry through a great steak or rush a lightly iced scotch, so the appeal of getting super blitzed in less time makes as much sense as wanting to get full after one bite.

A word of caution to all my back-door buzz seekers; the main technique used to create a great wine is the same one used to create a great time, and that is control.

Lose it, and it could bite you in the ass.

Cocktails Gone Spherical

Now that “handcrafted” cocktails have become about as commonplace as craft beer, bartenders and bloggers are looking for new ways to impress. You might think molecular mixology is gimmicky, but you gotta admit that these 8 cocktail spheres look pretty amazing.

 1. Old Fashioned In the Rocks

At Grant Achatz’ Aviary in Chicago the old fashioned comes neat — very neat. Drinkers get to smash the sphere open and watch the drink explode out.

2. Spherical Pickleback

Just about every bar in Brooklyn now serves a pickleback (a shot of whiskey backed by a shot of pickle juice). Only Do or Dine—home of the foie gras donut—serves a molecular pickleback, whereby the back — the spherical ball of pickle juice — explodes inside your mouth.

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