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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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Bourbon Bijou

Park Kitchen in Portland, Oregon makes a lovely drink they call the Bourbon Bijou. You may recall the Bijou cocktail we posted several years ago which is the inspiration for this whiskey-based variation. The original is a gin drink with over a century of history, whereas this one is a modern riff. We like them both because they are tasty and easy to make. That translates to "no fresh anything required" which means you can throw one together for yourself or a guest while you consider more involved alternatives. It's also a spirit-driven recipe for bolder palates (which is perfect for us) and another excuse to use Chartreuse.

Bourbon Bijou at Park Kitchen, Portland, OR 1 oz bourbon 1 oz green Chartreuse 1 oz Cocchi Di Torino Italian vermouth 1 dash 50/50 orange bitters

Add all to a mixing glass and stir with ice until cold. Strain into

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Brandy Buck

We've managed to stretch this line of cocktail recipes across years of posts. It's no secret that we love our homemade ginger syrup, so it is only natural that we should continue to share ways to use it. Ginger syrup has become such an important staple at the home bar—and making it using a cold process with fresh ginger juice is so easy—that we always have some on hand. Employing syrup as opposed to bottled ginger beer for cocktails is better from a storage perspective, and if you don't mind us saying so, it tastes better than anything you can buy.

So, now that you are sold on making ginger syrup (and even if you aren't, you can still use your favorite ginger beer for this drink), it's time to make the Brandy Buck. The name always reminds us of

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Raspberry Cocktails

Columbia Cocktail

There are so many ways to use fruit in cocktails. Muddling fresh produce may be the easiest, but you can also freeze it for use off-season. More traditional options include preserving fruit as jams, syrups, shrubs or even liqueurs. We've been busy this summer with all of nature's bounty, and we'll be sharing some of our exploits in the coming months. Today, let's talk about raspberry syrup.

Making a syrup from raspberries is easy enough. The simplest recipe follows a basic formula of one part fruit juice with one part sugar. However, we wanted to take an approach that may seem a little unorthodox. According to the Jerry Thomas Bartenders Guide first published in 1862, it's better to add another step to the process. Fermenting the fruit juice for several days through natural processes (including the unrestricted

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Figgy Pudding

Over four years ago we had the pleasure enjoying a few drinks at the Strip Club, a wonderful little steak joint in St. Paul, Minnesota. In addition to serving its delicious namesake New York Strip done several different ways, the place also has a wonderful cocktail program. In fact, the Strip Club blossomed in this regard relatively early in the Twin Cities cocktail scene. At that time, the number of places serving great cocktails in both Minneapolis and St. Paul could arguably be counted on one hand. Still, these guys were already veterans of house made tonic, bacon-infused bourbon, bitters and so on. One such masterpiece was a drink that is no longer on the menu called Figgy Pudding.

The original concept is based on whiskey that has been infused with butternut squash. This was combined with a muddled black mission fig

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Gomme Syrup

Assorted Syrups

One of the joys of mixology, like many pursuits, is that it affords the cocktail enthusiast an opportunity to be creative. We're not just talking about the exploration of drink recipes, although that is a big part of it. In many ways, the best rewards come from making homemade ingredients. One of the easiest and perhaps the most inevitable is simple syrup, and although you can buy a commercial product off-the-shelf, it's so easy to make that buying it is rarely a consideration. After all, isn't that why it has simple in the name?

It turns out that a more appropriate name for this product is simplified syrup. As you probably know, simple syrup is merely a combination of sugar and water, but it is based on a more traditional product that also contains gum arabic. Gum or gomme syrup is better than simple syrup for several

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Easy Brandied Cocktail Cherries

For anyone interested in craft cocktails, the cherry garnish will come up again and again, and it's important to find alternatives to the glowing red artificial flavored ones that are still very common in bars (and ice cream parlors). We have featured homemade cocktail cherries several times over the years when cherries are in season, but we always run into the same problems. Over time, our homemade cherries tend to lose their color and texture. Shelf life is a matter of tolerance.

We've tried a lot of different techniques. Most of them are fantastic at first, but over time they always lose their appeal. We wrote up a delicious spiced version that involves cooking the cherries in syrup. These are great for a few weeks. We also tried just soaking pitted cherries in cognac and maraschino liqueur, or amaretto, or even creme de cacao. These seem fine at the beginning,

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