Edinburgh Gin Review

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When thinking of gin many people’s minds immediately leap to London Dry. And while this will continue to be the case for some time, Edinburgh gin is continuing the long and storied history of Scottish gin. In fact in the … Continue reading

Q Kola Organic Soda Review

Q Kola

Over the years Coca Cola has become synonymous with Cola. Now there is a new kid on the block. While it will never overtake the conglomerate that is Coke it is an infinitely better soda.

Q Kola is made using kola nut, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, lemon, lime, orange, and nutmeg with a touch of organic agave to sweeten the pot. Here the flavors are clearly prominent while Coke and Pepsi just lists “natural flavors”, whatever that is.

The first thing you notice is the color which is a dark caramel brown compared to the deep blackness of the Coke and Pepsi.

Q Kola has a nice carbonation that dances on your tongue. As it envelopes your taste buds there are initial notes of caramel and vanilla and then notes of warming spices like cinnamon and cloves. In the back end the citrus makes its acidic bite known. It is not overly sweet and is in fact well balanced.

Some individuals may find the flavor off putting at first because it does not taste like the Cola many of us are used to.

This has become my go to cola. Don’t get me wrong Coke will always have their place but given the option I would pick Q Kola every time. The only downside is the small 8 oz size which while the perfect size for responsible drinking is just too small for how good it is. Added to this is the price for a 4 pack but this is to expected for a well crafted organic product.

Cuba Libre
2 oz Rum
5 oz Q Kola
1/2 oz Lime Juice
2 Dashes Angostura

Pink Pigeon Rum Review and the Smoked Pigeon

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Pink Pigeon is named after an endangered bird native to Mauritius. At one time there were only 10 left in the world. The rum is distilled in the oldest distillery still in operation today in Mauritius.The vanilla is then handpicked … Continue reading

Tequila Revolucion (Silver y Reposado) Review and the Oaxaca Old Fashioned

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Tequila Revolucion was established in 1994 by Juan Carlos Arav as a range of super-premium 100% Agave tequilas. The bottles are emblazoned with 2 pistols as a tribute to the Mexican revolution that began in 1910.

There are a full range of expressions available but I only received samples of the Silver and the Reposado. Up first for review is the Silver.

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Tequila Revolucion Silver
On the nose there are strong aromas of agave and light floral notes, backed up by subtle hint of citrus. Upon tasting, agave is present throughout with hints of vanilla, a light floral touch, and a hint of pepper in the background. The silver retails for approximately $40/750ml.

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Tequila Revolucion Reposado
The Reposado is aged for 10 months. On the nose there are still strong floral notes of agave. The agave is complemented by aromas of almonds, honey, vanilla, and oak. On the palate there is an oaky agave taste with a touch of herb and peppery spice. The Reposado retails for approximately $50/750ml.

And now some cocktails for your drinking pleasure:
The first drink is a wonderful take on the old fashioned offered at Mayheul in NYC. This is my reversed engineered version.
Oaxaca Old Fashioned #2
1.75 ozs Reposado Tequila (Tequila Revolucion Reposado)
.25 oz Mezcal (Del Maguey)
1 tsp Agave Nectar
3 Dashes of Peach Bitters
1 Dash of Orange Bitters
Shake all ingredients with the ice and strain into an ice filled low ball glass.
Notes:
It is smooth, a touch fruity because of the bitters, and a hint of sweetness from the agave to make the cocktail extremely easy sipping. The Mezcal lingers in the background adding it’s trademarked smokiness.

My inspiration for this next drink was the Kama Sutra created by Ronalldo Colli which appeared in an article on Sfgate.com.
Unbridled Fury
1.75 ozs Reposado Tequila
.25 oz Mezcal (Del Maguey)
.5 oz Green Chartreuse
Dash of creme de cacao
2 dashes of chocolate bitters
flamed orange peel for garnish
stir all ingredients with ice and garnish with flamed orange peel
Notes:
Green Chartreuse and chocolate are a proven combination. For that reason I decided to take the original recipe and add touches of chocolate and replaced the flamed lemon peel with a flamed orange peel which I feel works better with the chartreuse and chocolate combo. The flamed orange peel is essential in opening and lightening this drink up.

The next drink is a take on the margarita created by me, in which the simple syrup is replaced with 2 liqueurs and a touch of egg white is added to create a silky smooth mouth feel. I named it the Slight Detour because it deviates from the classic margarita.
A Slight Detour
1.5 ozs Silver Tequila
.75 oz lime juice
.5 oz Domaine De Canton
1 bar-spoon of St. Germaine
.5 oz egg white
Notes:
It’s a smooth, florally and spicy cocktail. The egg white smooths over and harmonizes all the flavors.

The last drink was created by Robert Rowland that I came across in the book Left Coast Libations.
St. Magnus
8 mint leaves
2 slices of Meyer Lemon
1.5 ox Silver Tequila
.5 oz Ginger Juice
.5 oz Agave Nectar Syrup (1:1)
.25 oz Lemon Juice
.25 Aperol
Ginger Beer
Very gently muddle the mint and the Meyer Lemon slices in the bottom of a double rocks glass. Fill the glass with ice. Add all the remaining ingredients except for the ginger beer. Stir and top with ginger beer.
Notes:
Agave nectar syrup is a simple mix of a 1 part Agave nectar with 1 part water. A complex, refreshing, and spicy short drink. It is essential to get a high quality ginger beer, such as that offered by Fever Tree.

For more drinks I’ve written about using tequila see my posts on the Mexican Squirrel, the El Diablo, and the Frostbite.

Disclosure: These were review samples that I received.

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Ron Abuelo Añejo 7 Year Review and the Pago Pago Cocktail

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Ron Abuelo traces its history back to the first sugar mill in the Republic of Panama and began producing rum in 1936. The rums are distilled from molasses before being aged in white oak casks.
Ron Abuelo 7 year is a light straw/copper color.
On the nose it opens up with a dry woody note before giving way to notes of vanilla and caramel.
It has sweet notes of vanilla, toffee, butterscotch, and caramel before finishing with a mildly dry nutty character. There is almost no trace of burn and it goes down extremely smooth.
The rum is incredibly affordable with a suggested retail of $23/750ml. This rum is equally at home drunk neat or in a variety of cocktails. Its affordable price point and delicious taste leaves plenty of room for experimentation without breaking the bank.

Pago Pago Cocktail
adapted from Beachbum Berry Remixed
1.5 oz Gold Rum (Ron Abuelo 7 Años)
3-4 chunks Fresh Pineapple
.5 oz Lime Juice
.5 ounce Green Chartreuse
.25 oz White Crème de Cacao (Marie Brizzard)
Muddle the pineapple in a cocktail shaker with the lime juice and liqueurs. Add the rum and ice and shake well for about 10 seconds. Double strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Notes:
The first time this recipe appeared in print was back in 1940. This is a drink that has such classic exotic drink ingredients as rum, pineapple and lime juice but it ups the ante with the herbal complexity of green chartreuse. It is refreshingly complex without being overwhelming. It’s perfect for a Friday evening sitting outside watching the sunset.
While I have not yet done so I think an interesting twist would be to infuse the rum with fresh cut pineapple thus creating a rich and aged pineapple rum without the need for muddling. In the future I’m going to have to give it a try and see how it comes out.

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Apricot Rum Fizz
2 ozs Rum (Ron Abuelo 7 Year)
1 oz Apricot Liqueur (Rothman and Winter)
.5 oz Lime Juice
3 oz Ginger Beer (Fever Tree)
Combine the first 3 ingredients and shake with ice. Strain into an ice filled low ball glass. Top with ginger beer.
Notes:
This is a light and easy sipping cocktail. The vanilla, caramel, and toffee notes meld nicely with the sweet fruitiness of the apricot liqueur. The ginger beer helps to keep everything in balance with its spicy bite.

Lastly I offer up my variation on the Captain’s Blood cocktail. I have decided to rename my variation Dr. Blood. The reason is because in 1935 the film Captain Blood was released in which Errol Flynn plays a Dr. Peter Blood who eventually becomes Captain Blood. This movie was the first thing that came to mind when I saw the name of this cocktail, hence its new name, the Dr. Blood.
Dr. Blood
1.5 oz Rum (Ron Abuleo 7 Year)
.5 oz Falernum
.25 oz Orgeat
.75 oz lime juice
1 Dash Angostura Bitters
Combine all ingredients and shake with ice. Strain over a large chunk of ice in a low ball glass
Notes:
Falernum is a sweet syrup used most often in tiki drinks. It contains flavors of almond, ginger, clove, lime, and depending on the recipe vanilla and/or allspice. Orgeat is a sweet syrup made from almonds, sugar, and rose and orange flower water. In future posts I will describe how to make your own. The drink is wonderfully tropical with sweet spice throughout the drink.

Disclosure: This was a sample bottle that was sent to me.

White Pike Whiskey Review and the Idlewild Cocktail

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For full disclosure I did receive this bottle as a free sample from the fine folks at White Pike. I would also like to thank Asst. Brand Manager Mr. Steven Ljubicic for an engaging and informative meeting. Clearly the folks behind this product are passionate about good spirits and it shows.

White Pike Whiskey is a relatively new product, in the trendy category of white whiskey. The problem with trends is that they do not always translate into successful and sustainable projects over the long haul. Despite this, I believe that White Pike has the correct formula for creating a lasting quality spirit.

I rarely speak on the branding/packaging of a spirit, however, White Pike has created a design that will stand out on the back bar. Its black top is contrasted by the clear bottom, reminiscent of a tuxedo. This black and white theme extends through all of their branding. Black and white is a bold and classy choice and sets itself apart in an industry where the majority of label and bottle designs follow a predictable format.

White Pike is farmed, distilled, and bottled in and around Schuyler County, NY. Finger Lakes Distillery is the brain child of Brian McKenzie and Thomas McKenzie (no relation). Master Distiller Thomas McKenzie created White Pike from a recipe of corn (59%), spelt (28%) and malted wheat (13%). Mr. McKenzie has an extensive background in distillation, making him well suited to creating a White Whiskey. After distilling, the spirit is then aged for 18 minutes. Steven mentioned that this was a play on how Scotches take their age statements seriously and proudly display them on their bottles. White Pike decided to take this idea, and has instead placed their age statement on the side of the bottle. The subtle dig/inside joke is a cool idea. These 18 minutes (give or take) in no way imparts any oaky notes to the end product.

On the nose it smells of buttered toast with a hint of creamed corn and subtle alcohol.
The spirit is rich and silky in the mouth with a subtle corn note. It finishes clean and smooth with no trace of burn. This is clearly a well crafted spirit.

Idelwild
1 oz White Pike Whiskey
1 oz Aperol
1 oz Sweet Vermouth
1 dash of Orange Bitters
Stir all ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass
Notes:
This is a nice take on a Negroni. The Aperol is a good choice because I think that the Campari would have overpowered the White Pike. Its a bittersweet take on the classic

The next drink is my own creation. I wanted to do something that was clear and silky smooth with a hint of spice.
Clear as Day
1.5 oz White Pike Whiskey
.5 oz St. Germain
.25oz Velvet Falernum
Stir all ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass
Notes:
One of the coolest things about this drink is its color, or rather lack there of. Rarely do you come across a drink that is as crystal clear as water. The floral and spicy notes smoothly dance across the tongue with the whiskey serving to support the drink.

Lastly is a simple yet flavorful drink created by me.
The Forgotten Path
1.5 oz White Pike Whiskey
1 oz Averna
.25 oz lime juice
5 oz Ginger Ale (Fresh Ginger)
Shake first 3 ingredients over ice. Strain into a highball glass filled with ice and top with Ginger Ale
Notes:
It is important to use a high quality ginger ale with some bite. I like Fresh Ginger as it is unfiltered and contains real ginger. Its sweet and spicy and was the perfect complement to the whiskey and averna. A simple and easy cocktail to construct that does not lack for flavor.
Whiskey and Averna

El Diablo: The Devil is in the Tequila

The earliest known reference to the El Diablo cocktail is found in Trader Vic’s Book of Food and Drink published in 1946. In that book it is referred to as the “Mexican” El Diablo. Some more interesting history on the El Diablo Cocktail can be found at the Alcademics blog.

This cocktail combines the classic combination of tequila and lime, sweetens it with creme de cassis, and toughens it up with a spicy backbone of ginger beer.

Creme de Cassis is a sweet-tart liqueur flavored with blackcurrants. The better and more expensive versions are made by macerating the blackcurrants in alcohol, which extracts all of the nuanced flavors of the fruit. Other less expensive versions are made by adding flavoring and sugar to a neutral grain spirit.

El Diablo
1.5 oz 100% Reposado Tequila (Pueblo Viejo)
.75 oz Creme de Cassis (Mathilde)
.5 oz lime juice
Ginger Beer (Fever Tree)
Shake the first 3 ingredients with ice and strain into an ice filled highball glass. Top with ginger beer. Garnish with lime wheel and straw. Give a quick stir to incorporate all the ingredients.

Notes:
The original calls for blanco tequila, but I like the added dimension that reposado brings to the table. The spicy agave notes pair well with the kick of the ginger beer. The creme de cassis adds a sweet fruity note that helps to bind all of the flavors together. If you enjoy margaritas, give this drink a try and let me know what you think.

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