Saturday, January 27, 2018

Gentle Bull

If the Brave Bull is a drink that you need to man up for because it is just tequila and coffee, the Gentle Bull lulls you into tipsiness as a creamy dessert. Tres Agaves appears again in this cocktail that calls of silver tequila, though a gold would be acceptable.

Tres Agaves makes a big deal of the culture of the town of Tequila and the rural lifestyle of the people who produce Mexico's spirit. The Jimador is the hardworking agave growers, often depicted with their broad brim palm hats and shovels.
  • 2 oz. silver tequila (Tres Agaves)
  • 1 1/2 oz. half-and-half
  • 1  oz. coffee liqueur (homemade used)
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 


Whatever you think about bull fighting or dessert drinks (and I tend to dislike both of them) you have to credit this recipe as being impressively crowd-pleasing. Just as the toreador must be showy and skillful, this drink presentation if fabulous and smooth.

I also appreciate how well tequila works in dessert drinks--in ways you'd never consider given its herbal flavor. Whipped cream and dark creme de cacao make it decadent and sweeten the liquor significantly. The recipe calls for cocoa powder, so rather than grating bittersweet chocolate, I used Hershey's dark powder, which is so fine that there's no noticeable solids to dissolve in your mouth, just chocolate flavor in the whipped cream. Do this drink to impress.
  • 2 oz. silver tequila (Sauza blanco used)
  • 1 oz. dark creme de cacao
  • 1 oz. half-and-half
  • whipped cream
  • Cocoa powder (Hershey's dark used)
Combine tequila, creme de cacao and half-and-half in a blender with ice. Blend until smooth and pour into a chilled wine glass. Top with whipped cream and sprinkle with cocoa powder. 


The idea behind this Mexican themed drink is to get a yellow and festive color from the tequila and banana flavor from creme de bananes. But creme de bananes is a really sugary and fake tasting liqueur when you buy the cheap stuff. I have so many of these banana drinks to do, though, so I didn't want to drink a lot of cheap sugary fake liqueur.

I got Cruzan banana rum because I like the freshness of the flavors. They say it is natural banana flavor, and there's a little sweetness in the rum. It's only 21 percent alcohol, so there's that, but I think that a tropical cocktail needs other tropical spirits like rum. That said, you will need to add a tsp. of sugar or simple syrup to calm down all the lime juice in this drink. Even with creme de bananes, you might need more sugar.

This is a nice drink, despite its simplicity when you make it with fresh lime juice. Its like a banana Margarita, which is a nice change of pace.
  • 2 oz. gold tequil (Sauza Anejo used)
  • 1 oz. creme de bananes (Cruzan banana rum used)
  • 1 tsp. sugar (recommended but optional)
  • 1 1/2 oz. lime juice
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Strawberry Margarita

This cocktail comes out of the dim 80's when strawberry was added to any tropical drink to make it "flavored" like something other than the cocktail it was supposed to be. This was done best with muddling strawberries, but more often it happened with a Strawberry Margarita mix. Like nearly fruity drinks back then, there was a bottled mix that wouldn't spoil that could be kept behind the bar, and would basically make any booze taste sweet and disgusting.

This recipe calls for strawberry syrup, which is easy enough to make with this recipe. When you have this, make this drink like any other Margarita--with this one exception! Old school Margaritas didn't have ice cubes in them, they were not blended. So this drink is supposed to be served up.
  • 2 oz. silver tequila (Tres Agaves used)
  • 2 oz. lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. strawberry syrup (homemade recipe used)
  • 1 tbsp. triple sec
  • fresh strawberry
  • coarse salt
  • lime wedge
Use a lime wedge to rim the a cocktail glass with lime juice. Dip it in a plate of coarse salt to coat the rim of the glass with salt. Combine all liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into the cocktail glass and garnish with the strawberry and lime wedge.

Tequila Maria

This Tequila Mary variation is one of several named Maria because of its use of tequila instead of Vodka. It differs from the Bloody Maria (not featured in the New York Bartender's guide) with its smaller proportions as it is served in an Old Fashioned glass and includes cilantro.

I like that the smaller glass means you can sip this drink and appreciate the tequila. For this reason I chose Tres Agaves tequila, which is amazing! This is a high quality blanco tequila with great herbal flavors you can enjoy neat. If you have fresh cilantro, use it as a garnish.
  • 2 oz. silver tequila (Tres Agaves used)
  • 4 oz. tomato juice
  • 1/2 oz. lime juice
  • 1 tsp. horseradish 
  • Tabasco sauce to taste
  • 3-5 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • celery salt to taste
  • pinch of cilantro
  • lime wedge
Combine all ingredients except for lime wedge in a shaker with ice. Shake and pour into a chilled Old Fashioned glass. Garnish with lime wedge and (optional) cilantro. 

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Strawberry Syrup (Recipe)

Strawberry syrup is infinitely useful in a home bar or kitchen. Put it in any of the standard cocktails as a sugar syrup substitute and you have something new and special.

Consider a strawberry Margarita, strawberry Old Fashioned, strawberry Gin Sours and Daiquiris!

But strawberry syrup goes well on desserts like angel food cake and ice cream. The possibilities are almost endless.

To make strawberry syrup you only need a quart of strawberries, 2 cups of sugar and 2 cups of water. A potato ricer is helpful for mashing the berries.

1. Core and remove the green leaves of a quart of strawberries.

2. Add the strawberries to a large sauce pan full of 2 cups of sugar and 2 cups of water. Heat on medium high heat and stir constantly to dissolve the sugar while the berries cook.

3. Use a potato ricer to smash the strawberries into a soft pulp. Turn down the heat to medium low and cook for 20 minutes.

4. Use a mesh strainer to remove the pulp (which you can keep as preserves for about a week). Strain a second time into an airtight container and store in an airtight container. This syrup will keep for two to three weeks.

Tamarind Syrup (Recipe)

When I'm not feeling like drinking I make syrups. Syrups are great for cocktails, but they make great ingredients in non-alcoholic drinks and sauces as well.

Tamarinds are seed pods with a sticky, bittersweet and citrus flavor. Cooking them down makes a thick syrup that you can use to baste meats with or add to tea. But it also goes great with juicy drinks.

To make tamarind syrup, get a pint of tamarinds or roughly a quarter pound of the seed pods.

1. Break the pods and remove the stems beneath the outer shell that connect the seeds and pulpy parts of the inner pod.

2. Heat the seeds and pulp in a solution of 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar. Use medium to high heat and stir continuously so that the sugar dissolves.

3. Turn heat down to medium low and use a potato ricer to smash up the pulp, which will begin to dissolve into the sugar syrup. Continue mashing until the seeds are separated from the pulp and the solution is syrupy.

4. Use a fine mesh to strain the syrup into another container and remove the seeds and pulp. The syrup should be thick and opaque, but not pulpy. Strain a second time to remove any particles.

5. Pour into an air-tight container and store in the refrigerator for up to three weeks.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Fifty-Fifty Martini

Sometimes you want a little more out of your Martini. The Martini was originally a wine cocktail with a good helping of vermouth (fortified wine) and some bad prohibition-era gin to back it up. It was really a vermouth-lover's drink and did its best to hid the poor quality of spirits available at the time. If one purpose of the cocktail is to spread the expensive stuff thin over a lot of cheap liquor so that it goes farther and has more effect, than the Martini is guilty of this.

But following prohibition, the quality of gin went way up as imports became available. People's tastes changed and they wanted stronger drinks. Most vermouths made in California were of lesser quality than the stuff from France and Italy. We imported less of the good vermouths because of our taste for dry cocktails, until eventually only poor quality vermouth was available in most bars. So we had the reverse of the original cocktail with almost no vermouth present.

Now, though, you can get good stuff all around. And most bars don't mind pouring a little more vermouth in a cocktail. It's not something that they often charge for. So go ahead. Get a Martini made with half gin, a strong one like KO Battle Standard Navy Strength gin, and Dolin extra dry. You won't regret it--or maybe you will.
  • 2 oz. gin (KO Battle Standard Navy Strength used)
  • 2 oz. dry vermouth (Dolin extra dry used)
  • Spanish olive
Combine liquid ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the olive.

(Whiskey) Milk Punch / Gin Milk Punch

Today I wanted to tackle several milk punch recipes at once. They are all very similar in that they require sugar, milk, nutmeg and a spirit. Strangely the New York Bartender's Guide differentiates between a classic milk punch and a whiskey milk punch with separate titles and measurements (parts as opposed to ounces) but the recipes are pretty much the same.

The Whiskey Milk Punch and Milk Punch both call for three ounces of blended whiskey. Now I have rye and bourbon blends, but I think that when a recipe calls for blended whiskey, it means Irish or Canadian whiskey. Why? The smoothness makes it less of a flavor factor. Otherwise you can make a Bourbon Milk Punch (This one oddly served neat in an Old Fashioned glass) with that flavor profile. These drinks are subtler than that.

Then there's the Gin Milk Punch. I know what you're thinking. Why would anyone like milk and gin? Actually I've found this combination to be great in other dessert drinks, and actually the nutmeg helps with the spice profile a lot. It's less important that gin has spicy flavors and more noticeable that this is a holiday drink with hints of juniper.

That said, pick your gin carefully. I prefer a prohibition style gin over dry gin for dessert drinks. They have funky sweet notes that go well with creaminess. Filibuster Gin (Not Available outside the distillery) is aged in two barrels and flavored with only four botanicals. It is close to whiskey in that way and makes a great milk punch.

(Whiskey) Milk Punch
  • 3 oz. blended whiskey (Tullimore Dew used)
  • 8 oz. milk
  • 1 tsp. sugar syrup
  • freshly grated nutmeg
Combine all ingredients except nutmeg in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a Collins glass full of fresh ice. Dust with nutmeg.

Gin Milk Punch
  • 3 oz. gin (Filibuster dual cask used) 
  • 8 oz. milk
  • 1 tsp. sugar syrup
  • freshly grated nutmeg
Combine all ingredients except nutmeg in a shaker with ice. Shake and pour into a chilled Collins glass . Dust with nutmeg.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Night Cap

The original home remedy for sleeplessness is warm milk. The Night Cap (probably originating as a home remedy given its name) suggests how much better this drink would work with a little rum. Of course you could use any light rum for this drink since nutmeg and milk are the primary flavors, but this is a colonial drink. It stands to reason that a colonial rum is the best and most classic option.

I love how the funky and sweet Buzzard Point colonial rum from District Distilling Co. makes this drink taste more old fashioned. The colonial rum is made with panela sugar, which tastes a little woody because it comes from fresh pressed sugarcane. Made this way, the Night Cap a great holiday warmer of a cocktail and a joy to sip on by the fireside.
  • 2 oz. light rum 
  • 1 tsp. sugar syrup
  • warm milk 
  • freshly grated nutmeg
 Pour rum and syrup into a heated coffee mug. Fill with warm milk and sprinkle with nutmeg.


The Locomotive is an old world hot cocktail in the style of English mulled wine or the Rumfustian, which is a hot dark beer and egg drink with a similar texture. This drink is really savory with a rich red wine like a Zinfandel. The heated egg adds a thickness that the liqueurs and cinnamon seem to cling to. I wanted to show that the lemon slice, if it remains on the surface keeps the cinnamon close to the drinker's nose, which is a great effect when sipping this hot holiday-style mulled wine.

This drink was the perfect opportunity to showcase Luxardo spirits, which are of better quality than those bargain liqueurs. Here are the maraschino cherry and triple sec.
  • 6 oz. dry red wine
  • 1/2 oz. maraschino liqueur (Luxardo used)
  • 1/2 oz. triple sec
  • 1/2 oz. honey
  • whole egg
  • lemon slice
  • powdered cinnamon
Warm red wine, liqueurs and honey in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the honey dissolves, but do not boil. In a separate container, beat the egg and add it to the heated mixture stirring quickly for about a minute. Pour into a warm coffee mug, add the lemon slice on top and sprinkle it with cinnamon.