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Cold Brew & Tonic

Normally, 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

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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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Peach Pit

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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Knickerbocker

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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Elixir de Amontillado

The plain old Champagne Cocktail is a classic from a bygone era that has remained unchanged since it was invented in the 1800's. Back then, all you did was drop a sugar cube into a flute, douse it with a few dashes of bitters, add bubbly and maybe garnish with a piece of lemon peel. There's not much to it. The sugar cube generates bubbles as it dissolves, more or less carrying the scent and flavor of the bitters throughout. You would be forgiven if you decided not to sacrifice good sparkling wine to this process. Even if it sounds exciting, you might not notice the effect which is probably why you don't see anyone drinking these. At some point, folks started adding other ingredients to give sparkling cocktails a bit more interest. For example, the Casino Cocktail includes a cognac float, and the Kir Royale skips the sugar

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Gangs Of New York

It's hard not to love the Whiskey Sour with all of its many variations. Even if you don't think of yourself as a whiskey drinker you can usually find something you like in this category. You can go for the classic preparation with egg white, something a bit more modern like a Rattlesnake variant, a wonderful Whiskey Smash, or even the best Amaretto Sour in the world! But with everyone's favorite Irish holiday just around the corner, we decided to explore a little history and see if we could find a version that would be appropriate for March. The Gangs of New York cocktail by Sandy Levine of The Oakland Art Novelty Company in Ferndale, Michigan is the perfect solution.

The Oakland is an elegant speakeasy in the Detroit area often considered the best cocktail spot in the city. So, why then, is this whiskey

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Beretta's Rattlesnake

A sour cocktail is perhaps the most versatile framework when it comes to mixed drinks. It is both accessible and interesting, combining the flavors of any spirit with acid from fresh citrus while balancing that with some form of sugar. The sour formula is also flexible and forgiving, allowing different ingredients to successfully change the cocktail—sometimes subtly, but often with dramatic effect. For example, the Bee's Knees cocktail would be a plain gin sour (not really a popular choice) if not for the honey syrup. By just using honey instead of simple sugar syrup, it achieves an unexpected depth of character that mingles in unpredictable ways with the gin making it a memorable favorite.

Any base spirit works as a sour. Exploring the possibilities will lead you into categories like the Daiquiri, Sidecar, Margarita and the list goes on and on as you swap sweeteners or

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