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The Gimlet, and How to Make Lime Cordial

We have often cited the importance of using fresh juice in cocktails, and we stand behind the idea. One of the easiest ways to up your game when making amazing craft cocktails is to always use fresh juice. Of course, many rules have exceptions, and the fresh juice rule has but one: The Gimlet.

The Gimlet is a classic English cocktail that uses lime cordial, not fresh-squeezed lime juice. We are talking about Rose's Sweetened Lime Juice—a bottled product that is intensely sour and painfully sweet. It is effectively a preserved lime juice product that contains sugar, and as such, it cannot be a substitute for actual lime juice in other recipes. Yet, bartenders and ignorant enthusiasts have been using Rose's for years when they should have been squeezing actual limes. All recipes that call for lime juice get ruined when you use Rose's. Just don't do it. However, the

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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 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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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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Pama Frost

Happy New Year!

Over the years we have done plenty of experiments with ingredients, often recommending to our readers that it's okay to adopt a playful attitude of trial and error when it comes to recipes. Sometimes it's a result of substitutions for not having the right ingredients, but more often it comes down to personal taste. There are recipes that call for very specific proportions, but most of the time it makes more sense to taste the result and adjust as necessary. For instance, adjustments are almost always expected when balancing sweet and sour. One never knows how much acid is present in a volume of citrus juice, and personal taste can affect what you consider "balanced". We tend to lean toward the sour side, but we understand that some recipes are meant to be sweet. Time and experience can transform your idea of a good cocktail.

Today, we

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Poi Dog

We expected great flavors from cocktails in Maui during a recent trip to the island. Given the fact that they have such ideal growing conditions for fresh ingredients, we were hoping for wondrous citrus, pineapple and coconuts, or muddled passion fruit and mangoes. At the very least, we thought we would find a decent tiki concoction. But like many tourist destinations, the resorts (at least in West Maui) are setup for high-volume service for vacationing beach bums and sun bunnies not discerning cocktail enthusiasts. Sure, you can order a Mai Tai, but you don't really know what you are going to get. Most of the time it's sugary mixers and rum. Nobody seems interested in geeking-out with bartenders crafting world-class drinks. Some restaurants still loosely throw around the word "Martini" to describe their ridiculous list of vodka-based sugar-blasts. Visitors seeking spirit-driven classics can forget it. Italian bitters are

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Barrel Aged Cocktails Without the Barrel

Let's jump right in with the details: We are using toasted oak chips and a charred oak stick in a mason jar to age scaled-up portions of our favorite drink recipes. The results are—in a word—amazing. We could also say surprising, or even easy. Given the fact that we have done true barrel-aging in the past, we were pleased to discover this time-saving alternative that produces results that are similar, if not better than the traditional method. It's so simple, in fact, that we plan to keep it going so that we always have aged, pre-mixed cocktails in the house. This is also so much more satisfying given the limited investment. It's hard to justify not doing this. If you have been thinking about making barrel-aged cocktails but haven't had a chance to track down a barrel—or perhaps you don't want to spend the money on

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