Thursday, June 28, 2012

Cocktail Wednesdays: The Turf Cocktail

The Turf Cocktail

This week we picked the Turf Cocktail from a number of gin-based options.  We did a little gin tasting to decide which bottle of gin we would use as the base for this cocktail.  We settled on using Knickerbocker Gin from New Holland Brewing Co. in Holland, Michigan for its citrus notes, which we thought would go well with a cocktail containing orange bitters.

Turf Cocktail

1 oz Gin
1 oz Dry Vermouth
1 tsp Maraschino Liqueur
1 tsp Absinthe
3-4 Dashes Orange Bitters

Stir over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a single green olive on a cocktail stick.

The verdict: The first word to come our of our guests' mouths was "Yummy". It is a very difficult cocktail to describe, since the absinthe and maraschino blended in so well, but added an aspect that made it quite different from a Martini - the typical combination of gin and dry vermouth. I don't know what to say about this one, but I would definitely recommend it.

Cocktail Wednesdays: Caterpillar & Duck Under Cocktail

Caterpillar Cocktail
The Caterpillar Cocktail
Last week, we had a red table wine with dinner that was made from concord grapes.   Even though it had a normal alcohol content for wine, it still tasted like grape juice.  We decided that although we didn't like it as wine, we could try to use the rest of it in cocktails as a substitute for grape juice.  That is how we ended up trying the Duck Under and the Caterpillar Cocktails.

Duck Under Cocktail

1 oz Gin
1 oz Orange Liqueur
1 oz Grape juice

Shake over iced and strain into a cocktail glass.

The verdict: This was a pretty decent cocktail. We're starting to come to the conclusion that gin+citrus+fruit works well. Still, it wasn't particularly special, and we decided to go ahead and try another cocktail from my list once out guests showed up.


2 oz Bourbon
1 oz Grape juice
1-2 dashes Angostura bitters

Shake over iced and strain into a cocktail glass.

The verdict: We liked this bourbon-based combination much more than the Duck Under Cocktail. It is a little sweeter than a Manhattan, and it's missing some of the spicy notes, but that makes sense, because you're essentially substituting the sweeter grape juice (or sweet concord grape wine) for sweet spiced and fortified wine. Given that grape juice and even the wine we were using have lower alcohol contents than vermouth -- which is fortified with additional spirits -- and it contains less whiskey, this is a less alcoholic twist on the Manhattan.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Cocktail Wednesdays: Victory Cocktail

Victory Cocktail

We chose the Victory Cocktail this week wes had special things to celebrate this Wednesday.  I passed the LEED Green Associate exam!  I came across several versions of the Victory Cocktail recipe, with slightly different ratios and quantities, but I settled on the recipe posted by Erik Ellestad on the Savoy Stomp.  We tried the original recipe Erik mentioned, but we agreed that we preferred his twist, which I am sharing here.

Victory Cocktail

1/2 Grenadine
1/2 Absinthe
Juice 1/2 Small Lemon (or about 1/2 oz Fresh Lemon Juice)

Shake well over ice, strain into champagne flute, and fill with soda water. Garnish with lemon twist.

The victory: this was a really nice drink. At the reduced quantities, it's not very strong, but the flavor is lovely, and I think it was the right intensity. We like interaction with the soda water. The lemon made the balance better, made it less cloying, and toned back the grenadine, allowing the absinthe to shine, but still be balanced with the sweetness of the grenadine.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Low down on the sparse updates


I haven't been posting anything but cocktail posts, but that doesn't mean it's all I've been doing.  I've actually been pretty productive, and I plan to share the fruits of my labors (well, pictures and descriptions of those fruits) soon.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Cocktail Wednesdays: The Absinthe Frappé

Absinthe Frappé

We chose The Absinthe Frappé this week because I had recently discussed absinthe with our guests who joined us this week for the first time.  One is a big fan of licorice and it had been suggested that she should try absinthe, so I thought we'd give her the opportunity with an absinthe based drink.  A frappé in the cocktail sense means to fill a glass with crushed ice. The recipe is a simple, old one, from back when ice in summer was a marvel and absinthe was one of the ruling spirits.  All that crushed ice still makes it a great summer drink.

The Absinthe Frappé

1.5 oz Absinthe
1 tsp Simple Syrup

Combine absinthe and syrup in a mixing glass, stir.
Fill a rocks glass brimming with crushed ice and pour absinthe mixture over.
(Optional) Top with a splash of Seltzer.
Garnish with orange and mint.

The verdict: All of us enjoyed this drink, but absinthe has a pretty intense flavor, so I think it might be a bit much for some people.  There aren't a lot of cocktails where absinthe is the main spirit, and I think this strength is the reason.  It is much more often used as a small addition.  The syrup and the ice help balance it out, and you still get a good understanding of the flavor of the absinthe, because the flavor is still so strong.  Variants include using other types of sweeteners, which could be interesting.  If you like absinthe or licorice, this is a good summery drink, but it's not for everyone, nor is it as easy-sipping as a Mint Julep, Mojito, Margarita, or Tom Collins.