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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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Transform Bottom Shelf Booze into Premium Liquor

Many of our readers come to expect great things at this time of the year from Summit Sips. Year after year we share innovative recipes and unusual techniques, saving at least one special idea to kickoff the spring. This year, it's all about incredible spirits at bargain prices. We are going to describe an oddly innovative technique to transform cheap vodka into premium liquor for only fifty cents!

It's All About Filtration High-quality filtration is a technique that is often employed by spirit manufacturers to change an otherwise unremarkable product into something worth marketing. It is possible to improve flavor (and even remove color) by simply running the spirit through a filter. Good products can be made even better, and some of the most popular brands use filtration to set their product apart. For example, Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey is a filtered product. They choose not to call the

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Drink with No Name: The Harrington

This drink started life in the 1990s without a name. It was originally created by internet blogging pioneer and Wired Magazine's online cocktail writer, Paul Harrington. Back then, Paul went by the nickname the Alchemist and described this drink on the site as an unnamed recipe that can reveal someone's ability to appreciate intense flavor—a description that is rather surprising considering the fact that vodka is flavor-neutral. Of course, he wasn't referring to the base spirit in this cocktail. The intensity comes from the strong, herbal melange in Chartreuse which can be quite a shock to first-timers. Even in small proportions, Chartreuse can easily take over a recipe, but with good vodka the effect is toned down so you can enjoy it—like a luxurious classic that remains lightly sweet and approachable.

Any Chartreuse fan is often looking for a recipe to enjoy their favorite elixir, yet few of us

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Gilded Cage

One of the challenges often faced by cocktail enthusiasts is reconciling the fact that vodka—the most popular spirit in North America—isn't fairly represented in classic cocktail books. In fact, you just don't find mention of vodka in many of the old texts. It's as if no one had even heard of it until the Cold War when James Bond's martini and the Moscow Mule came along. Even here at Summit Sips we are guilty of tipping the scales out of balance. It's not intentional—we just don't cover as many vodka recipes as we probably should, given the likelihood that our readers probably want us to.

It might make sense from a historical perspective that—in order to cover more than a century of modern drinking culture with dozens of important classics—vodka could be considered a

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Le Coco

We love the "hunt" for ingredients to reproduce something delicious at home. Even after amassing an embarrassingly complete inventory of possibilities, this drink forced us to collect a few things we were missing. We recognize that not everyone will have the ingredients to make this cocktail—in fact, most of you probably won't—but for those of you adventurous enough chase down a few items—even if it means making some creative substitutions—please join us and share what you think of this unique creation.

First, we need to credit the drink's inventor, Tom Lindstedt, bar manager at Little Bird Bistro in Portland, OR. There are so many fantastic places to eat in Portland that it's almost impossible to justify returning to the same place twice, but we keep going back to Little Bird. So far, we have never had a single bite that wasn't totally satisfying and delicious (the cassoulet is wonderful!).

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Republic of Jam Cocktail Club: Irish Scallywags

It's that time again when the masters of fruit preserves and culinary syrups gather their "citizens" for another quarterly Cocktail Club. When Republic of Jam puts on an event, it's sure to include an assortment of flavors to delight your tastebuds. This was no exception, and once again, we were invited to lend some creative cocktail ideas to the evening. One of the challenges we learned from last time was the fact that cocktails mixed in batches are served en masse and have to be prepared differently. Because all of the drinks get served as small samples on the rocks, none of them go through the typical construction process of shaking with ice. Proper dilution is normally a helpful byproduct, so we needed to take that extra water into account. By making these individually, you also have the flexibility of glassware choices and creative flourishes with the garnish.

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Republic of Jam Cocktail Club

This past weekend we were invited to participate in the quarterly Cocktail Club at Republic of Jam. Being asked to contribute recipe ideas was an honor, and it was even more exciting to be there to answer questions and provide details about each drink. Citizens in attendance were genuinely enthusiastic about the whole process. Many had questions about everything from ice options to spirit suggestions. It was a joy to see so many people excited to participate.

Each of the recipes were made in large batches and poured over ice to make service fast and smooth. This was a smart choice given the sample size of each drink, but if you make some of these yourself, follow the directions. Some of these drinks are designed to be served up, in a stemmed cocktail glass (chill glasses in the freezer ahead of time and serve without ice). Good shaking

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