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Drink of the Week: Bitter Branch

Here's a nice cocktail to drink while curled up next to the fireplace. It's big and bold, salty and sweet, and a little bitter too. You could say it's everything but sour. It comes by way of Marvel Bar's Pip Hanson and appears in both The American Cocktail book and Northstar Cocktails. During the colder, darker months, it's hard not to get excited about cocktails like this one. It's also pretty easy to make for how complex it tastes, and it uses an ingredient we've never featured on Summit Sips until now.

The unusual ingredient is Nocino (no-CHEE-no), a dark Italian walnut flavored liqueur made from unripe green walnuts. The flavor is sweet, luscious and deeply nutty, but often still high in alcohol. We were first introduced to it a couple years back at the Bradstreet Crafthouse where it plays prominently in their Black Walnut Old

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Drink of the Week: Bobby Burns

There aren't a lot of cocktails that feature Scotch as the base spirit, and because of that, you don't find very many here at Summit Sips. Over time, we'll slowly add to the list, but it's not the easiest spirit to pair with other ingredients. Besides, most folks that have Scotch like it the way they like it—on the rocks, neat, with water, etc.—and may not be interested in messing with their own personal traditions. Of course, that never stopped us. Let's see, we have the recent Saw Tooth, which is a wonderful way to use watermelon (who would have thought!), the Blood and Sand, an excellent classic, and there's the London Sour for a little Tiki action. But the most common cocktail is probably the Rob Roy, something we have never featured. That's

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Drink of the Week: Saw Tooth

Not long ago, Esquire magazine posted a list of drinks for summer on their website. Among them was this recipe by Evan Zimmerman of the Woodsman Tavern in Portland, Oregon. When we visited the Woodsman over a month ago it wasn't on the menu, but the other day we had a chance to mix one of these and all we can say is wow!

It's certainly not a complicated drink to make which is one of the reasons we love it. It's the first time we've written about a drink that contains watermelon and that left us wondering why we don't see it in more recipes. We don't always have a watermelon around so this was a great excuse to buy one. Finally, this cocktail contains Scotch whisky, and that alone is reason enough to get excited. You just don't find many cocktails involving Scotch, so whenever we find

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Scotch Selection for 2011

It's that time of the year again when my wife and I choose a bottle to add to our collection of Scotch whisky. Over the years we have pulled together a small selection of single malts—a process that continues to work well for us. We don't drink a lot of Scotch throughout the year so bottles tend to last a long time. Rather than stocking a cabinet all at once, this technique allows us to be more selective as we slowly build an inventory without feeling the expense all at once.

In past years we have often tried to add bottles from distilleries familar to us by choosing a special bottling or a distiller's reserve, but this time our apporoach was influenced by a series of events that we first read about in the New York Times. An article published back in July chronicled the story about how three cases

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Drink of the Week: Eastern Sour

This Drink of the Week week is actually three drinks in one. The Eastern Sour is the first of a small family of sour cocktails invented by none other than Trader Vic, one of the founding fathers of the mid-century Tiki movement. Although it isn't as complex or as difficult as many Tiki drinks, for some people that's not necessarily a bad thing. The more ingredients—or often, the more obscure the ingredients—the less likely most folks will be able to execute the recipe. At least that was my theory as I looked for a tropical style drink to post this week. I thought we needed a change from all of the Manhattan variations I have been posting.

My source of reference is a groovy little iPhone/iPad app called Beachbum Berry's Tiki+. This app was developed with the full endorsement of Jeff "Beachbum" Berry and it's filled with recipes

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Drink Of The Week: Mamie Taylor

This week we feature a highball that is virtually unknown by most people, yet it is the foundation upon which many popular drinks are based. Our drink of the week is the Mamie Taylor, a Scotch cocktail with lime and ginger beer. According to Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails by Ted “Doctor Cocktail” Haigh, the Mamie Taylor was named after a Broadway singer and appeared around the turn of the last century, but within a few years it fell completely out of fashion. In 1900, it was the most popular cocktail of it's day, and more than a century later, few people have ever heard of it—or Miss Taylor for that matter. Yet this drink has led to many variations that we do remember.

Mamie Taylor 2 oz Scotch Whisky .75 oz lime juice 1 oz ginger syrup 3 oz soda (to top)

Add the Scotch, fresh

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Scotch Selection for 2010

Each Christmas, my wife and I treat ourselves to a new bottle of Scotch Whisky. It's a tradition we have sustained for a few years now, and I highly recommend it. We don't drink a lot of Scotch, but we like it often enough to enjoy a little diversity. Because we aren't finishing them off, bottles hang around for a long time and we are able to grow our working collection. It's like a closet full of favorite shoes—the more pairs you own and use, the less likely they will wear out. All the while, we are educating ourselves about this spirit and each year we get to try something new.

In years past we have added the Glenlivet Nadurra to our collection, some Speyside bottles from a tasting we attended, and a year ago we picked up Oban's 1993 Distillers Edition. We have even received Scotch as a gift!

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