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Death in the Gulf Stream

Something we often admire about classic cocktails is their simplicity. We suppose early recipes had the advantage of being first to attempt basic combinations. Such is the case, for instance, with the Daiquiri: rum, lime and sugar—a favorite of rum lovers everywhere, including at least one famous writer from the Florida Keys. It shouldn't surprise you to know that in addition to his reputation for enjoying such drinks, Ernest Hemingway also had a hand in creating a few. One of them is called Death in the Gulf Stream, and it is both easy and efficient.

Cocktail construction efficiency isn't something we think about very often. In a typical setting, one has plenty of ice, a sink to rinse tools and glassware, and just a general concern for making the best use of every step and ingredient—it's the end result that counts. Need to shake a drink over ice,

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Kojo

Grab your grapefruit for this one—but all you will need is the peel. If you don't have a grapefruit for cutting the garnish—shame on you, you will have to use lemon—but you should know that the grapefruit peel in this cocktail does add an aromatic nuance that is definitely worth the effort. We are referring to the Kojo, a contemporary drink that we recently enjoyed at Hamlet, a fun little restaurant in the Pearl District of Portland, Oregon. It's a sherry cocktail selected to pair with the Spanish jamón they serve, but the drink itself was created by Washington DC's Derek Brown. We recently featured Brown's Getaway cocktail, so it was a happy coincidence to find another one of his creations at a local hot spot.

The recipe splits the base evenly between Oloroso sherry and gin, then balances lemon juice with falernum and a bit of

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Bicycles & Baskets

This could be the perfect, simplest blend of your best-tasting ingredients. The floral/citrus Bicycles & Baskets is a whiskey-based original from Kask located here in Portland, Oregon. The menu describes this signature recipe as the perfect drink for a picnic. We won't disagree, but it's actually a drink that can be enjoyed any time. The name evokes images of pedaling leisurely toward a favorite location to enjoy the spring air or summer sun, but it's also a reference to the liqueur made from elderflowers that are supposedly picked by hand in the French hills and transported by bicycle to the distillery. Whichever visual applies for you, this might be a recipe worth scaling up to a batch that can fill a bottle for portability.

Rye whiskey has always held a leading position when it comes

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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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Batches and Bowls

Whether you are prepping for a weekend party or a spring picnic (we are probably several months early for that), you may be looking for ways to enjoy the event and the company of your guests without spending time mixing individual cocktails on request. Beer and wine are easy options, but you shouldn't have to sacrifice good flavors and quality ingredients just because you'd rather join the party instead of busily shaking craft cocktails. As log as you are willing to do some preparation a day or so ahead of time, you don't need to play bartender. We are talking about batched cocktails—a common request we get from friends who are either searching for the perfect recipe or are interested in techniques they can leverage to make the process easier once guests arrive.

For us, the Super Bowl refers to any vessel large enough to hold a batch of Philadelphia

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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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Travel Cocktail Kit

Not long ago, someone sent us the link to a clever gift item called the Carry On Cocktail Kit. We checked the link, read the descriptions, viewed the pictures and decided to make our own. To be fair, we haven't actually had our hands on one of these commercial kits, as they are still listed as a pre-order item on the website, but we did consider placing an order. It's basically a tin box that you toss into your carry-on baggage when traveling that enables you to construct two Old Fashioned cocktails while in-flight. For only $24 it seems like a reasonable price to pay for such a fun item. The idea alone is fantastic, but we immediately started thinking about ways we could improve upon it. We decided it would be a fun project and that we could share our results and hopefully stir up a bit of

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