Cana Brava Rum Review

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Cana Brava is the work of The 86 Co. which is made up of Simon Ford, Dushan Zaric & Jason Kosmos (founders of Employees Only), Malte Barnekow, and Kris Roth. Cana Brava is a 3 year old aged rum from … Continue reading

Interview With John Codd of 15 Romolo

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15 Romolo is a North Beach bar in San Francisco that has been open since 1998. They aim to provide great cocktails and delicious locally sourced food without the attitude. The Cocktail list is an ever rotating list of house … Continue reading

7 Daiquiri’s in 7 Days: The Daiquiri #1

This is the original daiquiri, the classic. Its not frozen and its not fruity. Its pure, simple, and authentic. Measuring is essential in this drink. Too much lime and its too tart, too much sugar and its too sweet, too much booze and its near undrinkable.

Daiquiri
2.5 oz White Rum (Flor de Caña Extra Dry 4 Year)
.75 oz fresh lime juice
.5 oz simple syrup
Shake all ingredients in an ice filled cocktail shaker, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, sip, and be transported to the warm beaches of the Caribbean.

Notes:
This is the daiquiri upon which all others are based. It is essential that you know how to make this one quickly and efficiently. Use this as a basis to become familiar with different rums. Sub in other white rums and aged rums or even use 2 different rums at a time. Try different syrups such as Demerara or Turbinado or even a 2:1 rich simple syrup.

Stay tuned 9-17-12: The Hemingway Daiquiri/Daiquiri #3

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Lucid Absinthe Review and the Absinthe Suissesse

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Absinthe continues to be a mystifying spirit, partly because of its scandalous history and the controversy surrounding its supposedly hallucinogenic properties.

Allegedly it was created as a medicinal elixir in the early 1790′s by Dr. Pierre Ordinaire. It gained popularity after it was given to French troops to combat malaria. When they returned they brought it back to cafes, bars, and other establishments and its popularity exploded.

Driven by the prohibition and temperance movement, absinthe was demonized and associated with violent crime, ultimately leading to its ban in 1912 by the US Dept. of Agriculture. After 95 years, the ban was ultimately lifted, and the genuine absinthe was once again reauthorized for sale in the United States. Lucid became the first genuine absinthe made with real Grande Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium).

Lucid was developed in France by absinthe historian and distiller T.A. Breaux. It is distilled in the historic Combier Distellery in Saumur, in France’s Loire Valley.

For the taste test I sampled it as it is traditionally prepared.

The aroma is powerful and enticing, with aromas of anise, indeterminate spices, a hint of mint and other herbs filling the air around the glass.

The taste is more subdued than the aroma would lead you to believe. The flavors of anise and fennel are the first to engulf your mouth. This is followed by notes of various herbs which are impossible to discern as they blend together in one herby and earthy flavor.

Lucid is available in 750 mL for $59.99 and 375 mL for $34.99.

I now offer some additional ways to enjoy absinthe besides the traditional method.

First up is the Asbinthe Frappe which is an easy method used to turn the classic drip method into a refreshing iced drink.
Absinthe Frappe
1.5 ozs Absinthe (Lucid)
.5 oz simple syrup
1.5 ozs club soda
1cup crushed ice
Build first 2 ingredients over crushed ice and top with club soda. Give a quick stir to incorporate.
Notes:
This drink slowly changes over time as the ice melts adding more dilution to the drink. It starts off strong and cold before mellowing into a sweet and bubbly drink, perfect for those warm nights.

This drink has similar components to both the Ramos Gin Fizz and the Absinthe Frappè
Absinthe Suissesse
1.5 ozs Absinthe (Lucid)
.5 oz Orgeat Syrup
1 egg white or 1 oz of Pasteurized Egg Whites
1 dash or about 4-6 drops Orange Flower Water
2 ozs Half and Half
.5 cup crushed ice
Shake and strain with crushed ice and pour unstrained into a highball glass.
Notes:
The egg white and cream give the drink a frothy milkshake like texture. The orgeat adds a sweet nutty flavor helping to round out the flavor of absinthe.

This upcoming drink is a wonderful introduction into the world of tiki drinks.
Test Pilot
1.5 ozs Jamaican Rum (Appleton Estate V/X)
.75 oz Light Puerto Rican Rum (Cruzan)
3 tsps of Cointreau
1/8 tsp of Absinthe
.5 oz Lime Juice
.5 oz Falernum
1 dash Angostura Bitters
1 cup crushed ice
Blend all ingredients together for 5 seconds then pour unstrained into a low ball glass. Top with more crushed ice. Garnish with a cherry.
Notes:
I decided to use Cruzan rum instead of the light Puerto Rican Rum called for. Like most good tiki drinks, this drink is more than the sum of it’s parts. Nevertheless the bitters and the absinthe are noticeable in the background lending subtle spicy and herbal notes. It is an expertly balanced drink with the sweetness in wonderful harmony with bite of the citrus and ginger.

The last cocktail is a creation by Stew Ellington.
Felix Swizzle
1 oz Dark Rum Rhum Barbancourt
1 oz Jamaican Rum (Appleton Estate)
.5 oz Falernum
.25 oz Absinthe (Lucid)
1 tsp Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
1 oz Pineapple Juice
1 oz Lime Juice
.25 Simple Syrup
Build in an ice filled tiki mug or high ball glass and swizzle. Garnish with a paper umbrella and a straw
Notes:
The original recipe does not call for the additional .25 oz of simple syrup but I felt that the drink needed because it was a little to tart for my taste. The absinthe adds a herbal depth with the maraschino adding a touch of it’s characteristic funk.

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

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Tap 357 Maple Rye Whisky Review and the Bitter Awakening

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For full disclosure I received this sample bottle from Van Gogh Imports.

Tap 357 is a Canadian Rye Whisky crafted from cask-aged 3, 5, and 7 year old rye whiskies blended with pure Canadian maple syrup. It is distilled four times before being aged in used bourbon barrels. It is then combined with “Canada 1 Light” maple syrup and left to rest until it is deemed that it is ready for release. Finally it is bottled at 81 proof.

Tap 357 pours a light golden straw color.

On the nose it evokes memories of Sunday morning breakfast with pancakes, smothered in butter and syrup. There are notes of maple and grain, with the maple being dominante.

The sweet maple flavor helps to mellow the spiciness of the rye, without overpowering it. There are notes of maple, brown sugar, and just a hint of grain.

Overall its a nice product, that is smooth and approachable. Some may find the sweetness of the maple overwhelming especially when drunk neat, but I do think that it works well in cocktails.

Tap 357 has a suggested retail price of $29.99 for a standard 750ml bottle.

You can’t have a bottle of booze without something to mix with it, so I offer you the:
Bitter Awakening
1.5 oz Apple Brandy (Lairds 7 Year)
.75 oz Tap 357
.25 oz Simple Syrup
2 dashes Fees Orange Bitters
2 dashes Fees Old Fashioned Bitters
Stir all ingredients with ice and strain over a large chunk of ice in an old fashioned glass

Notes:
The apple brandy and the sweet maple rye work well together creating a drink that evokes the aroma of baked apples. The bitters help to keep the drink from becoming overly sweet and unbalanced.

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ROOT Liqueur Review and the ROOT Swizzle

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I have actually had ROOT for some time but am just getting around to doing a proper review of it. When I first heard of this spirit being introduced, I could not wait to get my hands on some.

ROOT is one of the most interesting liqueurs to have come along in quite some time. It is based on an old herbal remedy called Root Tea. The Native Americans taught this age old recipes to the settlers, where it was passed down from generation to generation.

When Prohibition swept through the country, a pharmacist from Philadelphia removed the alcohol and renamed it “root beer”.

This is unlike any other “root beer” liqueur on the market. Its true flavor is not produced with artificial flavorings nor is it drowned out by sugar. Rather, ROOT, is flavored with birch bark, black tea, spearmint, wintergreen citrus (lemons and oranges), allspice, anise, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom, which help to give

ROOT is delicious and spicy flavor.

On the nose, it has the classic smell that you come to expect from a root beer with just a hint of alcohol. That slight alcohol vapor lets you know this is a powerful 80 proof liqueur.

The flavor is wonderful complex. There are notes of vanilla bean, mint, nutmeg, cinnamon, and birch. As one flavor asserts itself on your palate another quickly emerges. All the flavors vie for attention on your palate, yet the spirit never seems to be out of balance, with the cane sugar keeping the bitterness in check and smoothing the drink out.

This is a great liqueur to sip neat or experiment in cocktails. My one complaint is that it can be quite challenging to work with and can easily take over a drink. Think of it like an amaro or other bittersweet herbal liqueur and the possibilities become endless.
Suggested retail is around $35 for a 750ml bottle.
Now for some drinks:

My inspiration for this drink was the Black Orpheus.

ROOT Swizzle
1.5 ozs Gold Rum (Brugal Anejo)
1 oz ROOT
1 oz lime juice
.5 oz Vanilla Bean Syrup & .5 oz simple syrup
1 dash Fees Old Fashioned Bitters
half spent lime shell 4 or 5 mint leaves
Shake all ingredients with ice then double strain into a high ball glass and add the spent lime shell. Add crushed ice and swizzle until the glass becomes frosted on the outside.
Notes: The ROOT is the major player with its complexity evident throughout the drink but it does not dominate or overwhelm the other flavors. The rum is a smooth undercurrent helping to provide a base for the ROOT. The syrup and mint create extra layers of flavors to dance across the tongue.

The next drink is the Pennsylvania Dutch Manhattan created by Jason Wilson, who writes an excellent column at the Washington Post.
Pennsylvania Dutch Manhattan
1.5 oz rye whiskey
.5 oz ROOT
.5oz Bianco or Bianc vermouth
Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

For the last drink of the night, I offer up my variation of the Pennsylvania Dutch Manhattan.
To Live or to Exist?
2 oz rye whiskey (Redemption Rye)
.5 oz ROOT
tsp Luxardo Maraschino
1 dash of Regan’s Orange No.6 Bitters
1 dash Bitter Truth Lemon Bitters
Combine all ingredients and stir with ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

The Framboise Fizz from the PDT Cocktail Book

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This drink was originally created by Michael Klein. I came accross it while flipping through the PDT cocktail book. Framboise Fizz 1.5 oz Reposado Tequila (Peublo Viejo) .75 oz Crème de Cacao (Marie Brizzard) .75 oz lemon juice 2 oz … Continue reading

Ron Diplomatico Reserva Review and The Hotel Nacional Special

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copyright Destilerias Unidas

Rum from the islands in the Caribbean often get the most attention. For most people, Venezuela probably is one of the last countries people thing of with regards to rum.

This offering from Destilerias Unidas hails from Venezuela. It is distilled in copper pot stills, then aged in oak casks for 8 years before being bottled.

The color is a beautiful clear copper gold. On the nose there is a warm smell of carmel and molasses combined with notes of dark fruits (figs, raisins, etc), spices (cinnamon,allspice, etc), and oak to round out the flavors.

The rum is spicy and wonderfully fruity all at the same time. The flavors meld together creating a harmonious spirit. There are also notes of vanilla and chocolate with orangey undertones.
I bought this rum on a whim figuring that for $20 how could I go wrong. I wasn’t ( wrong that is). This is a great rum which probably does not get the attention it deserves. At $20 for an 8 year old rum it is an excellent buy. It is rich and complex providing a smooth backbone for cocktails.

I decided to mix up a Hotel Nacional Special. I used the version of the recipe that is in the PDT cocktail book. It was invented by Will P. Taylor for the Hotel Nacional in Cuba while he was managing it . He also managed the Waldorf-Astoria before it was closed due to prohibition.

Hotel Nacional Special
2 oz 8 year old Rum (Ron Diplomatico Reserva)
1 oz Pineapple Juice
.5 oz Lime juice
.5 oz Simple syrup
.25 oz Apricot liqueur (Rothman and Winter Orchard Apricot)
Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lime wheel.
Notes:
The drink has a wonderful golden color. The rum provides a strong framework for which the tartness of the lime and the sweetness of the pineapple can hang from. The apricot lends a subtle sweet candied fruit note in the background.

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The Fior di Sicily

Looking for a drink can be a daunting task at times. Often I find myself flipping through recipes looking for something that calls out to me. I picked up a copy of Left Coast Libations which has a range of interesting and exciting cocktails from some of the best bartenders on the West Coast. One cocktail that immediately caught my eye was the Fior di Sicily, created by Chris Ojeda.

Unlike most cocktails, the Fior di Sicily does not contain a base spirit; there is no gin, rum, whiskey, vodka, etc. Secondly all of the ingredients are in equal proportions which is just as rare. It combines an interesting amaro, an orangey aperitif, one of my favorite sweet vermouth’s, and an elderflower liqueur.

Fior di Sicily
.75 oz Averna Amaro
.75 oz Carpano Antica Formula Vermouth
.75 oz Aperol
.75 oz St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
Stir all the ingredients with ice for 30 seconds (wet ice) or 50 seconds (large ice). Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Flame the orange peel over the cocktail then drop in the peel.
Notes:
The color is rich and alluring. The orange oils float on the surface of the drink and its scent draws you in closer daring you to take a sip. The sweet notes of floral combine with the bitter and herbal notes to create a harmonious spirit. It has all the qualities of a fine wine that has been enriched and enhanced. This drink truly is greater than the sum of its parts.

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