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Cold Brew & Tonic

Cold Brew & TonicNormally, we don't reach for tonic when we want a cocktail. The old G&T may be a popular choice, but we think it's because people don't know what else to make with gin. It's a shame because many of the best classic cocktails call for gin—not vodka—not only because vodka was unknown in the pre-prohibition era, but because gin brings something extra to a cocktail that simply isn't there otherwise—and we don't mean juniper. It may be a requirement in gin, but not all brands choose to emphasize juniper flavor, allowing other botanicals, citrus and even spice to play the center role. Yet, even with strong, piney examples, gin is transformed by other ingredients in a way that can be hard to explain to people who think they are gin-averse. But tasting is believing.

On a recent trip to Minnesota to visit some of our former haunts, we happened to grab a meal at the Red Cow. Their cocktail menu includes a delicious riff on the classic Gin & Tonic with something extra—cold brew coffee. Over the past couple of years we have noticed coffee cocktails growing in popularity with seemingly strange combinations like coffee and lemonade or recipes that combine coffee with tonic like our example here.

Cold Brew & Tonic by Ian Lowther
1.5 oz gin
3 oz tonic
2 oz cold brew coffee
1 dash Bittercube Bolivar bitters

Build in a lowball glass over a large chunk of ice by combining gin, tonic and bitters. Float cold brew on top by pouring over the back of a bar spoon.

Several details that are worth mentioning can make what would be a good drink on paper into a great drink in the glass. First, Lowther uses Gordon's gin. Hey, if it's good enough for James Bond, it should be good enough for us, right? Actually, Gordon's isn't normally found near the top shelf. It's an economical choice—an assertive London Dry gin that does the job. We aren't looking for cucumber or rose petals here, folks, and a subtle gin would be lost in the other flavors. So, pick something bold and typical. There's no need to break the bank.

Red Cow Cold Brew & TonicSecond, Red Cow uses a house tonic. That means someone like Ian has to get to the restaurant early to do some homemade experiments. We made tonic years ago, and more recently we have been following Jeffrey Morgenthaler's updated recipe in his Bar Book, and we will use it from now on. House tonic is definitely the way to go for this drink, with citrus and spice flavors that will make the best G&T you've ever had. Fortunately, there are also a growing number of commercial alternatives you can try. If you go the homemade route, be sure to figure out the proportions of your syrup to seltzer to get to three ounces combined.

Finally, the restaurant has cold brew coffee on tap, under nitrogen. That means they can dispense it as needed into chilled glasses at their customer's amazement as they watch the tiny cascade of bubbles turn into a glass of cold coffee with a frothy head (just like Guinness stout). While nitro cold brew is delicious, the nitrogen here probably just adds some pizzaz as it helps to suspend the coffee layered effect. Most of us can't pull this off at home, so just use a good, smooth cold brew which you can mix from a delicious concentrate, make in bulk using a toddy, or however else you like to make it. Try not to use cold coffee from yesterday morning.

The final touch is the bitters. Bittercube Bolivar bitters is made by two local proprietors, Nick Kosevich and Ira Koplowitz. We have always been big fans of Nick from the Town Talk days and finally got to meet Ira during a Bittercube promotional event. That was early days, and fortunately, Bittercube bitters can be found almost everywhere now. Bolivar is a floral aromatic bitters with cinnamon spice and dried fruit flavors.

This is more than a just a Gin and Tonic, it's an honest, balanced coffee cocktail that happens to have gin as a base. The tonic brings an acidic bitterness—flavors that might have been present in the coffee had it not been cold brewed. This might be why these flavors work so nicely together. We love this drink, and we'd go back to Red Cow over and over to order it!

Otoño Cocktail

Some years ago, we received a gift from a family member living in Spain. Pacharán (or Patxaran) is a sloe berry and anise flavored liqueur from the Navarre community of northern Spain. Dating back to the middle ages, homemade pacharán recipes are still followed today similar to several Italian traditions (like nocino and limoncello). To make pacharán, sloe berries from the blackthorn tree are soaked in anisette along with a few coffee beans and cinnamon. After a time, the solids are strained and the resulting liquid is bottled. Eventually, commercial brands became available. The oldest is Zoco, dating back to the 1950s using a family recipe from the early 1800s.

Similar to Sloe Gin, Pacharán Navarro production is regulated to contain no color or flavor additives, yet it boasts a deep reddish hue and an intense berry flavor alongside the expected hint of anise. While it is

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Practical Glassware

Libbey 3773 Embassy Champagne 5.5 oz glass

Nothing showcases a unique cocktail like a unique cocktail glass. But, sometimes practicality is more important—we are talking function over form. Not everyone wants or needs the kind of variety we like to photograph here. What everyone does need are a few different glasses to get through the vast majority of recipes worth exploring. You want to be able to construct and enjoy classic and contemporary recipes the way they were intended. We are often asked what kind of glassware to get, so we thought a simple guide might help. Once you cover the basics, you can always expand with a specialty glass here or there without going overboard. But you should at least insist on these as a starting point.

The Coupe The most basic cocktail glass you should own is the cocktail coupe. This is the historic vessel for serving "up" cocktails (shaken or stirred, then strained into

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Peach Pit

Peach Pit Detail

On Saturdays here in Portland, Oregon, the Farmers Market is nothing short of amazing this time of year. It's easy to get lost among the exciting sights, sounds and smells of everything nature and energetic entrepreneurs have to offer. We found an abundance of peaches almost everywhere we looked. Depending on where you live, you might have them at your market too. We thought this would be a perfect time to post a cocktail that features this flavor. The drink was created by Brad Farran of the Clover Club in New York. It is called the Peach Pit.

No, it's not a reference to the 50's diner from Beverly Hills 90210—or at least we don't think so. This is a tropical drink with peachy overtones and a cognac base. It also features orgeat—an almond syrup which you can make at home—and of course, a nice big chunk of

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How To Make Nocino from Unripe Walnuts


The Italians seem to know a thing or two about making great drinks. Whether you fancy a bitter amaro, sweet vermouth or liqueurs like maraschino—it's hard to imagine cocktails without these essential ingredients. It should come as no surprise that the same folks whose cultural traditions brought us homemade limoncello also invented a fantastic liqueur made from walnuts. We are referring to Nocino, a delicious and spicy sipper with a complex bittersweet flavor and a tantilizing aroma.

In order to make this wonderful elixir, you need to harvest black walnuts while they are still green—before they are actually nuts. Traditionally, Italians harvest them just after the summer solstice, so depending on where you live, now is probably a great time to gather your supplies. For us, that means finding a friend who has a black walnut tree, or wandering through the neighborhood and knocking on doors for permission.

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Coffee Cocktails

Coffee Liqueur

Coffee flavor in cocktails is nothing new. Classic recipes like Mexican and Irish Coffee are legendary. You also have coffee liqueur which shows up occasionally in recipes (one of our favorites is the Curfew cocktail), not to mention how easy it is to make an infusion. Drop a dozen beans into a bottle of vodka and in just a few days you have coffee vodka for a very interesting "martini". We happily admit to hosting more than one party with a creamy and sweet espresso cocktail on the menu! All playfulness aside, some readers know that we are actually pretty serious about coffee. We roast our own beans, pull shots of espresso at home, and we don't mind sharing our experience and knowledge with others. Ok, we are coffee snobs (this is the Pacific Northwest, after all) but we still get excited when new products come around that

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Here's a delicious drink to help you start thinking about summer. It's relatively easy to make and it's a classic, first published in The Bar-Tender's Guide by "Professor" Jerry Thomas way back in 1862. That happens to be the first cocktail book ever published, so we are talking about an old cocktail from a bygone era. Fortunately, the ingredients aren't.

This is a rum drink, and a stiff one at that. It requires a bit of raspberry syrup (or a bit more if it suits you). Making raspberry syrup is a small challenge but definitely worth the effort, and once you have it you can easily make a handful of tasty beverages, not to mention a fantastic sundae! To make raspberry syrup, you need raspberry juice and sugar. The best method is to squeeze fresh raspberries and use the juice to make a simple syrup. Just measure your juice

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