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First Word

Several years ago we wrote about the Last Word cocktail. If you haven't had the pleasure, you really should give it a try, especially if you are already a fan of the Aviation. Besides having a name befitting any New Year's Eve celebration, the Last Word contains some of our favorite ingredients—Luxardo Maraschino liqueur and green Chartreuse. As we transition from the end of one calendar year to the beginning of another, we decided to post a similar cocktail that we recently tried at one of our favorite restaurants in Portland, Oregon.

The First Word cocktail was featured on the fall menu at Toro Bravo. A little research will reveal that it's not an original name. There are several First Word recipes out there and none of them resembles this one.

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Drink of the Week: Bensonhurst

Some of you may recognize the name of this cocktail as another Brooklyn neighborhood. That's because it's one of the variations of the Brooklyn cocktail, one of several modern recipes following the tradition of the Red Hook. We have already covered that and the Greenpoint and there are still many more to enjoy. All of them are essentially Manhattan variations using rye as the base, but they each have their own twist, swapping one liqueur for another or exploring something creative with the vermouth.

This one takes the somewhat unusual approach of using dry vermouth instead of sweet. It was created by Chad Solomon, once a bartender at New York's Milk & Honey. The result is a lovely golden gem of a cocktail that remains true to the style.

So, here's the thing with this drink. It's

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Drink of the Week: Champagne Cocktails

ChamPino Cocktail

We have said it before and it still holds true: It’s never a bad time to open a bottle of champagne. Although we like to keep a bottle of bubbly in the refrigerator ready for any event, sometimes all it takes is dinner at home. There’s no reason it should only come out on special occasions. Whether you open a bottle of cava, prosecco, or real champagne from France, sparkling wine is great all by itself or as an ingredient for cocktails. Flavors vary, and so does quality and price, but you can make decent drinks with just about anything. We aren’t saying you should drink the cheapest stuff you can find, but you don’t have to break the bank either.

Over the years we have featured some popular uses for sparkling wine—the Mimosa, the French 75,

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Barrel Aged Cocktails Part 2

Click here for Part 1 to find out how this started.

Several weeks ago we featured a technique involving oak barrels and batched cocktails. In that post we described some of the details to help anyone get started aging their own cocktails in barrels. After many weeks of anxious anticipation (and a few sips along the way) we are finally able to share our results. Was it worth the wait? Are the cocktails really that good after sitting in charred oak barrels for over a month? Should you try this yourself? In a word, absolutely positively beyond-a-doubt YES.

You can see from the images that we reused empty bottles from the original base spirits and decorated them with the taped-on paper labels we made for the barrels while they were aging. We probably should grab a marker and write the dates that the barrels were opened

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Barrel Aged Cocktails

All the cool kids are doing it, so Summit Sips couldn't wait any longer. We just had to try our hand at barrel-aged cocktails. It sounds like a lot more work than it is, but of all the things we've tried, plenty of homemade ingredients and ice experiments have been a lot harder than putting cocktails into barrels. There's absolutely no reason you can't do this yourself, and that's part of the appeal. Using simple techniques that anyone can master to create amazing, original results is exactly why we write this blog.

You may remember a post from way back when we first visited Portland, Oregon. A couple of drinks at Clyde Common were aged in oak barrels, a technique being pioneered at that time by Jeffrey Morgenthaler. A few months prior to our visit, he posted a short

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Drink of the Week: Red Hook

There's a reason we have so many delicious cocktails that are related the the Manhattan. Because of its simplicity, the Manhattan formula lends itself to a variety of substitutions that can transform what is already a perfect classic into something unexpected and wonderful. It doesn't happen every time, but when it does, it's worth the effort. Here's one example. When it was first created by Vincenzo Errico in 2004 at Milk & Honey in New York, the Red Hook which is named for the New York neighborhood of the Brooklyn borough quickly spun-off a number of variations from its admirers.

A Manhattan is typically two parts whiskey and one part sweet vermouth. It's fair to say that the vermouth is the dominant flavor. Instead of vermouth, the Red Hook calls for the complex and bitter Punt e Mes. Even at half the volume, Punt e Mes exerts its personality on

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Drink of the Week: Brandy Crusta

The original definition of cocktail first published in 1806 was a simple combination of spirits, sugar, water and bitters. Drinks like the Old Fashioned and the Sazerac are good examples that have stood the test of time. Yet, recipes evolve, and it didn't take long for substitutions to occur. For example, instead of sugar and water, why not use simple syrup? And if you wanted a little exotic flair, perhaps you could even use a liqueur to sweeten your cocktail. At some point, citrus was introduced and by the time "Professor" Jerry Thomas wrote The Bar-Tenders Guide in 1862, the updated combination had a name. The Crusta was a fancy creation, all decked-out with a sugared rim and a huge lemon peel for a garnish. The good Professor predicted that the Crusta would eventually outshine the Cocktail.

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