Tuesday, December 20, 2011

(Cocktail Recipes) Holiday

I haven't run away yet, just got kinda busy and didn't feel like blogging, but I have some holiday cheer for you, and I figured I'd better get this up so there's still time to buy some ingredients.

I was thinking of some holiday cocktails, and when I went looking I saw lots of the same old stuff. If you go looking you'll find lots of recipe's for traditional drinks like mead or very heavy and sweet dessert cocktails and coffee. This was all well and good when you need something warming and stout, but most of us will be flitting to office and house parties where it's plenty warm and there's plenty of food. We don't need anything nearly that heavy, so here's some suggestions for some lighter cocktails that still give you some Christmas color or flavor.

1.) Looking for something tasty and elegant? Try a French 75. This sparkling cocktail is light to drink and full of flavor.

3 oz Dry Champagne
3 oz London Gin (that's right I said put the gin in your champagne)
1 oz Lemon juice
1/2 - 1 Tsp of powdered sugar
Add a twist of lemon or drop a cherry in it

This drink works best if you mix the gin, lemon juice and sugar in a shaker and pour it into the Champagne then stir. Serve in a Collins glass

2.) Planters Punch (Red) A simple classic you can adjust up to make party size punch.

3 oz Dark Rum
1 oz Lemon Juice
1 oz Grenadine
Club Soda

To give it a little mystery flavor add some Orgeat Syrup.

Mix in a shaker and top with club soda

3.) The Grasshopper (Green)
This classic cocktail has fallen out of favor as of late, but if you like mint chocolate chip anything you'll probably like it. It's creamy but not nearly as heavy as many of those eggnog concoctions.

1.5 oz Creme DE Cacao (white)
1.5 oz Creme DE Menthe (green)
3 oz Fresh Cream

Mix in a shaker and serve in a martini glass garnish with sprig of mint.

4.) The Chinese (RED)
See review and recipe here

5.) The Dark and Stormy (Winter Solstice) It's dark and mysterious looking but pretty light on your stomach.

3-6 oz Dark or Black Rum (Did someone say Goslings?)
12 oz Ginger Beer (Find it, do not use ginger ale it will ruin it, it needs the snap)
Dash of Lime Juice and a Lime wedge garnish.

Mix in a Collins Glass. Just fill it up with Rum and add the ginger beer as you drink it ;)

Bonus 6.) The Alligator (Green) (I can only find this listed as an Alligator in one location, but I altered it. I'd call it a Ten-Forward as it looks like something served in that Famous Star Trek lounge. It's Tiki Drink Style, A little sweet, Smooth, Easy to Drink and Lots of Alcohol.)

3 oz Vodka
3 oz Melon Liqueur
1 oz Triple Sec
1 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 tsp powered Sugar
6 oz Orange Juice

Mix in a shaker and pour into a Collins Glass.

Cheers to You! I hope Your Holidays will be Merry!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Jack Daniels donating funds to bring soldiers home for the holidays? Awesome!

Anyone who knows me knows I love my Jack Daniels products - particularly Single Barrel and Gentleman's Jack. Now, I've got even more reason to buy their stuff.

It turns out they're donating a tidy sum to bring soldiers home for the holidays. If you're a JD fan, now's the time to spring for the big bottle...or one of their higher-quality offerings. Me? I'm going to pick up another bottle of Gentleman's after payday.

I'm also impressed with the folks who check the "contact us" messages - apparently they send real responses, rather than form letters. Who does that anymore?

Keep up the good work, guys.

Monday, August 22, 2011

(Review) Hendrick's Gin 88 proof




Mystique: 1-10 points
Score: 9 Nifty bottle, Interesting reputation

Color: 1-10 points
Score: 10 I think Gin and Vodka are cheating here

Scent: 1-10 points
Score: 9 light juniper botanicals, also orange, coriander, fresh scent

Initial impression: 1-10 points
Score: 10 so far seems quite excellent

Mouthfeel: 1-10 points
Score: 9 thicker than regular gin then disappears

Taste: 1-10 x 4 points
Score: 36 pepper, cucumber, orange, lemon, rose, clean taste, fast burn then gone

Raw Score: 83 points

Bonus: Value 1-10 points
Score: 9 $34 a bottle, right in line with other premium gins

Total Score: 92 points

An interesting gin. I could really leave it at that and do it justice, but It doesn't really tell you about it now does it. This gin is like one of your friends relationships when you're wondering how that happened and they say well it's complicated and leave it at that. As if you're some 6 yr old that won't understand grown up things. Although the description will fit I'm not about to treat you that way. Hendrick's Gin doesn't think you should be treated that way either and they're pleased to tell you all about this gin of theirs and why it's different. The website is rather amusing and looks like a Terry Gilliam segment of Monty Python's Flying Circus. Hendrick's is a Scottish gin. Hell you say? No Really it is. It's a pleasant, smooth gin that's not too juniper and has an interesting aftertaste. I came to learn while drinking Hendrick's that my tongue associates cucumbers with salt. That's the big difference, a very slight taste of cool cucumbers. I kept thinking it was a salty flavor, but there's no salt in it. Hence my discovery. It's not cucumber infused and doesn't taste like cucumbers, it's very slight and you might miss it. If you make it in a gin and tonic with a cucumber slice it becomes more prevalent. It and the rose petal aroma are very, very, ethereal. You only notice them like a ghost walked into the room. What was that! A strange encounter. You will not mistake this for something else. It's flavor is Gin. Juniper and Botanicals. If you like Tanq 10 or Bombay Sapphire this is worth a try. A light almost refreshing gin that has become my top shelf favorite.



Friday, August 5, 2011

(Review) Goslings Family Reserve Old Rum 80 proof


Mystique: 1-10 points
Score: 10 Wow! wood box with straw, wax dipped, numbered bottle

Color: 1-10 points
Score: 10 Jewel Like, amber, shimmering

Scent: 1-10 points
Score: 9 vanilla, oak, molasses, hint of citrus

Initial impression: 1-10 points
Score: 10 impressive, smells intoxicating

Mouthfeel: 1-10 points
Score: 9 tingly on the tongue, slightly oily

Taste: 1-10 x 4 points
Score: 40 smooth, tart, oily, big molasses, no burn

Raw Score: 89 points

Bonus: Value 1-10 points
Score: 6 $65 a bottle, spendy, received as a gift

Total Score: 95 points

Here's some booty for you. It comes packed in a box that looks like Indiana Jones himself absconded with it from that fabled secret warehouse. Rum that's kept under glass, well Plexiglas. A flat black bottle, sealed with wax, that's apparently hand numbered. Marketing gimmick aside, this Rum deserves it's special treatment. Goslings has been making high quality Bermuda Rum since 1860. According to their website they have had their base store in Bermuda for 157 years and this Rum is proof that they know what they're doing (Not that Black Seal wasn't enough). It's sipping rum, like fine bourbon or scotch. Please don't mix it in a cocktail. Unwinding with a little on the rocks is all you need. The flavor is smooth and complex, it's got those nuances that you can tell it's carefully crafted. A tingle on the tongue, smokey molasses, with a hint of spice, oak and citrus. Balance is the word that comes to mind and the quality of flavor doesn't make me think of pirates like rum usually does, but perhaps a formal dinner at the governor's mansion. There's nothing rough and tumble about this. It's refined and almost proper. It makes me want to do this I must admit Gosling's Black Seal is my favorite rum and this seems to be the ultimate it could become if cared for and aged to completion.

I received it as a gift and as a gift it fits the bill perfectly. It has great presentation factor and most people have not tasted rum this good. It will be a new experience for most, and I must thank my friend Dave again for a present I probably wouldn't buy for myself.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

(Cocktail Recipe) The Scorpion




GET OVER HERE! Not for a FATALITY, but a great way to beat the summer heat. Summertime is the time for classic Tiki Style tropical cocktails, they're fun, they're tasty and they usually pack a whallop. The Scorpion is no different. I know, I know, these type cocktails are too sweet you say and they wind up being syrupy and not thirst quenching. That's not true if you do them correctly. Most bars operate on profit margins so thin they cut costs where ever they can, and unfortunately that usually means watered down drinks with lots of fruit juice and little of anything else. Check out the classic scorpion recipe.

1 oz light rum
1 oz brandy
1 oz orange juice
1.5 oz or half a lime juice
1/2 oz Orgeat Syrup

Some recipes call for powdered sugar or simple syrup, but I've found that if you're using a commercial Orgeat syrup like the great stuff from Torani it's sweet enough not to need it.

Shake and serve over ice in a high ball glass. Garnish with a fresh mint sprig and paper umbrella.

The drink is light, thirst quenching, and easy to drink many of. Do not confuse the classic Scorpion with that abomination called The Scorpion Bowl that's usually served at your favorite Japanese steak house show bar. You know the one that comes in a bucket with 5 straws. This is not it. The Scorpion and the Scorpion Bowl usually get concocted with more fruit juice, sour mix, amaretto, and all manner of things. This makes it syrupy and way too sweet. Try the classic Scorpion, but Watch out for that sting.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

(Review) Rittenhouse Straight Rye, Bottled in Bond, 100 proof

Mystique: 1-10 points
Score: 10 Heard of it, reviews claim all other Rye's are measured against it

Color: 1-10 points
Score: 9 Beautiful, Dark, Garnet, Jewel like

Scent: 1-10 points
Score: 9 vanilla, oak, caramel, butterscotch? Rye bread

Initial impression: 1-10 points
Score: 9 looks good, smells great

Mouthfeel: 1-10 points
Score: 7 good, coats the mouth, stays on the tongue, feels thick

Taste: 1-10 x 4 points
Score: 32 caramel, slow burn, complete, with ice opened up beautifully burn
gone just peppery, a little sweet, smooth.

Raw Score: 76 points

Bonus: Value 1-10 points
Score: 9 great price point 23.95 a fifth

Total Score: 85 points


So they tell me this is the THE STUFF! It's one of the oldest Rye whiskies bottled and most reviewers use it to measure all new Rye's they try. It's a benchmark if you will. I think most of these reviewers are bourbon and scotch drinkers and that's why this Rye seems magic in a bottle to them. You can't blame them it's very good. Rye isn't that popular and it's very hard to find in some areas. This one in particular is difficult to find even in this area where Rye never truly went away. This is actually the first bottle of it I had ever seen and I was eager to try it. So what's all the fuss about? Flavor. It's got burn, it's complex and it's peppery. 3 things you don't necessarily get in bourbon or scotch. These reviewers seem in awe of it because they are very used to having a flat tasting bourbon or scotch at this price point. I don't know if it's the marketing machine or the fact that there are so many bourbons and scotch's out there, but to get a good one you usually have to spend a decent amount of money. Maybe they're snobs and they don't think anything inexpensive can taste good. If you think that way too you'd be very wrong.

Rittenhouse Rye is the taste standard for Pennsylvania style rye whiskey. Oh wait do I sound like one of those other reviewers? No. What do I mean? Hey what's Pennsylvania Rye Whiskey supposed to taste like? Here, taste this (hands you a glass), that. That is what it's supposed to taste like. It can be better or worse, but that's generally what you are supposed to get. It's the nature of Rye that it tastes so different from bourbon and scotch. It inherently has more flavors going on and it's not always going to taste as complete or smooth. I guarantee you will not like this whiskey if you drink it neat, very soon after you pour a glass. It's burny, it's got too much muddled mish mash of flavor going on. You might equate it to a Michael Bay action sequence. POW! BANG! jump cut, EXPLOSION! Holy shit! This stuff is awful. Exciting, but awful. Let's try this again. Pour it on the rocks, or add a little water. Let it sit a minute or two, now try it. Eh? what did I tell you. The profile completely changes. It's smoother, the burn is almost gone, there's flavors you can pick out. Pepper, spices, caramel, sugary, vanilla, fruit and it got smooth. What's going on here? I was watching Transformers and you switched it to Blade Runner. That's the nature of Rye whiskey.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

(Review) Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey

Mystique: 1-10 points
Score: 8 - Totally new, totally unexpected. I hadn't seen any sort of advertising
and had read no reviews before finding this at the store. Label is
definitely Jack Daniels, but a different color and gold text sets it apart.

Color: 1-10 points
Score: 7 - Light, warm, looks like honey.

Scent: 1-10 points
Score: 6 - Sweet, possibly overmuch. Definitely smells of honey.

Initial Impression: 1-10 points
Score: 7 - Lovely label, nice color, alright smell.

Mouthfeel: 1-10 points
Score: 7 - Slightly burny, not terribly oily.

Taste: 1-10 x 4 points
Score: 36 - Even burn from start to finish, honey flavor really comes out in the
end. Minimal aftertaste. Light hint of banana and amaretto coffee.

Raw Score: 71

Bonus: Value points 1-10 points
Score: 8 - Under $25 makes it a good buy.
-----------------------
Final Score: 79

We found this liquor in the store yesterday, and I knew nothing of it - I knew it was brand new (so new, in fact, that it lacks a real website - instead, the company has set up a Facebook page), and I was intrigued. Chris told me his friend's mother regularly drinks it in her unsweetened iced tea, which intrigued me further. Had Jack Daniels finally come up with something sweet?

I wasn't sure, but I wanted to find out.

We picked up the bottle this evening, and I immediately set it in the freezer to chill. The bottle actually instructs drinkers to enjoy it chilled - the first instruction I've seen on any Jack Daniels bottle. About a half hour later it was ready, and for once I had a room full of testers to give it a go. At the end of this review, I will post some audio from the group test. My guest testers are MaryBeth and Parker, and both Chris and I make appearances on the recording.

Upon first impressions, the bottle is similar to JD Black Label, but the label is distinctly different. The background color is cream, the text and embossing is gold, and a bee graces the front of the bottle. My immediate thought is this bottle just FEELS feminine...it's certainly appealing to my female co-tester and myself. This might be JD's entry to those women who prefer sweet drinks...the same folks who generally shy away from whiskey.

When poured in a glass, the liquor is golden and thick...not quite as thick as a cordial, but it easily coats the glass. When sniffed, it's incredibly sweet and completely unlike regular black label Jack (but gives a slight hint of Single Barrel's sweetness). There are definite honey tones, as well as a light hint of the signature flavor of Jack Daniels.

The taste...well. It floored me. I've never had any sort of honey-based liquor other than mead before tonight, and I'm blown away at its flavor. At first taste, I noticed there was a light burn that hit immediately and stayed throughout, and there were hints of both banana and amaretto coffee. At the end, the honey flavor comes in very strong and sticks through the finish. There is almost no aftertaste, and I really feel this might be a good introductary whiskey for non-whiskey-drinkers. It's nicely sweet and doesn't turn the drinker off from it. Mixed in something like unsweetened iced tea, this would make an excellent summer drink.

I would highly recommend this to either a friend who has never had whiskey and wants to give them a try, or someone who already likes sweeter drinks and JD and wants to try something new. I also see this might have some use as a glaze for poultry.

Here's the audio from our tasting - apologies for the extra talking, Chris seemed to forget I was recording like 20 seconds into the tasting. ;)





Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey review by falnfenix

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

(Review) Bulleit Rye Whiskey 90 proof

Mystique: 1-10 points
Score: 7 New, No ads I've seen, two extra points for their bourbon's reputation

Color: 1-10 points
Score: 8 nice, amber with a hint of orange

Scent: 1-10 points
Score: 9 vanilla, oak, deep

Initial impression: 1-10 points
Score: 8 looks great, neat bottle, smells great

Mouthfeel: 1-10 points
Score: 9 slick and oily with a tingle

Taste: 1-10 x 4 points
Score: 36 smokey, peppery on the front, flowery on the back

Raw Score: 77 points

Bonus: Value 1-10 points
Score: 8 good price point 21.95 a fifth

Total Score: 85 points

I realized as we get closer to July 4th that even though I must have 8 different bottles of Rye Whiskey in my liquor cabinet I haven't posted about a single one. It's my favorite whiskey with a long American traditon. Unfortunately unless you live on the East Coast you've probably never seen it until recently. Fortunately it's enjoying it's own rebirth and revolution. Thanks to this, there are several good American Ryes with nationwide distribution now availible.

Why does rye go with July 4th? Because until prohibition it was the America's whiskey. Enjoyed and produced in the colonies. When you ordered a whiskey while debating life liberty and the pursuit of happiness you got a glass of rye. American Rye is produced using a majority of rye grain in the mash. By law it has to be 51% rye. This makes a whiskey that's peppery yet smooth. Like bourbon it's aged in charred oak barrels. Straight Rye is aged at least 2 yrs. During and after prohibiton American Rye became confused with Canadian Rye whiskey which was referred to as just Rye Whiskey and the name became forever muddled and confusing. Canadian Rye Whiskey can be 90% corn and only 10% rye and has a completely different flavor profile than it's American counterpart. I'll touch on a true Canadian Rye in another review. American Rye Whiskey is further broken down into 2 styles. The Pennsylvanian style, which is more dry and peppery and the Maryland Style whis is just a little sweeter and less peppery. Luckily of the surviving brands there was 1 example of each, Old Overlholt (Pennsylvania) and Pikesville Rye (Maryland) so you could still see the difference.

Now getting back to Bulleit Rye, it's the first example of an American Rye whiskey that's right in the middle of the two styles that I have tried. Of the new offerings in rye, they seem to lean one way or the other, but Bulleit nailed it right down the center. It's got some peppery burn in the beginning and a sweeter finish in the end. This is why I recommend that if you're new to rye, try this one first. It's a tasty and even introduction. Straight out of glass it's got a slow burn like the idea of the American Revolution. Like the colonists it's got that charred oaky ruggedness, but somehow seems a little green at the same time. It's rough pepper and fiesty yet somehow refined and smooth by the time it hits your stomach. If you add ice or a little water it opens up a bit of sophistication. Plum and flowers are hiding in that glass. At it's 90 proof bottling it allows more hints of flavor and complexity without the distiller having to water it down to the standard 80. Bulleit is well crafted, smooth and tasty, a fine exapmle of American Rye Whiskey. Try it in a classic cocktail that originally called for rye like The Sazarec, The Manhattan, or even the Mint Julep. As rye got more scarce and the American palate craved the sweeter bourbon these cocktails had their main ingredient replaced. They're very good with bourbon, but different with rye. No other spirit gives the flavor of America like rye. It's bold and brash while complex, crafted and a little naive all at the same time. Try a glass of history while celebrating our nations birth and think of how the spirit in your glass tastes a bit like freedom.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

(Review) The Kracken, Black Spiced Rum 94 proof

Mystique: 1-10 points
Score: 10 new, big ad campaign, cool, mysterious

Color: 1-10 points
Score: 10 black as night, as advertised, squid ink

Scent: 1-10 points
Score: 9 mixed spices, vanilla, pepper

Initial impression: 1-10 points
Score: 9 looks great hope its not a letdown

Mouthfeel: 1-10 points
Score: 9 slick and oily as expected

Taste: 1-10 x 4 points
Score: 36 Caramel, molasses, big pepper burn but goes away quick

Raw Score: 83 points

Bonus: Value 1-10 points
Score: 8 good price point 19.95 a fifth

Total Score: 91 points

Like the cryptozoological monster from the deep, The Kracken broke the surface with a lot of noise and a unique look. With a 2 jug-handled bottle and a pirate map like label It looks different, but is it up to snuff? A true black rum, dark with a mysterious exotic flavor? That's what the huge marketing campaign for this new product promised. Did they deliver? Absolutely. The Kracken is on par with Gosling's Black Seal and Cruzan Black Strap. It's a real Navy Rum. Black as it's namesake's ink with a flavor that's big molasses, caramel and spices. The pepper taste is strong, but disappears into the briny deep leaving an oily slick. It doesn't quite have the flavor depth of the competition, but it's bolder up front and doesn't disappear in a mixed drink. It's great as a flavor addition to other rums in a variety of cocktails, Like adding just a tiny bit of chili pepper to spice up a meal. It's future may not be in standing on it's own, but as one of those mixers you can't do without. Either they made this rum while thinking of the name or the name came first and they tried to embody it in rum, either way it's spot on, and a welcome addition to my collection of Black Rums. It gives us a little more choice in this small niche. Hunt The Kracken!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

(Cocktail Recipe) The Gimlet

As I was preparing my Singapore Sling yesterday I realized the number of ingredients required may be more that some of you have in your liquor cabinet. Today I give you another classic cocktail to beat the heat. One with less ingredients and more simplicity, The Gimlet. This cocktail gets it's name from: Gimlet-a hand tool used to drill small holes. That sounds appropriate to me. While the cocktail is artistically simple in taste like many other classic cocktails there is no Highlander. There can't be only one. It's recipe is debated and even the types of ingredients are argued about across the internet, by cocktail drinkers and in books. The simple recipe is:

Combine in a shaker.

2oz GIN (Dry, Plymouth or Old Tom)
2oz Rose's Lime Juice (Rose's is specified)
1 TSP powdered sugar or simple syrup

Shake thouroughly and pour into an old fashioned glass. Garnish with a lime round.

That's it. Simple, right? Not so fast. For classical cocktail argument there's debate about the lime juice. Use Rose's or Fresh. Which Gin? Dry, Plymouth or the sweeter Old Tom. Top with club soda? If you do that you have made a different drink, The Gin Rickey. For new fangled recipe tinkerers, there's substitute Vodka for the Gin, add mint, or add cucumber or other vegtable or fruit. The list goes on. Connor and Kurgan will fight indefinitely. As a spectator to the epic battle I can say that as far as I'm concerned the above recipe IS the Gimlet. If you alter the recipe to something you like better please call it something else, the (whatever you add) Gimlet. If you alter it so far that your drink doesn't capture the spirit of the Gimlet then make up a new name. This is a simple cocktail. It's flavor is balanced and refreshing. It dosen't need complication. I do encourage you to try the original Gimlet to get the jist of the drink, but please alter away to make it something you like. I like my drinks more sour, so I'll add less sugar and more lime, Laura prefers sweeter drinks so she'll add a dash of Cherry Heering or fresh cherries. Try it, then make it your own, but try and guage when and if you lose the spirit of the flavor of the the original. Whatever you come up with based on this cocktail It will be a great way to beat the heat.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

(Cocktail Recipe) The Singapore Sling

In honor of the current 98 degree temperature here I think we'll need a refreshing cocktail. A classic tropical drink should fit the bill nicely. How about a refreshing Singapore Sling. A slightly different tropical drink based with gin that has a complex flavor and doesn't just taste like the fruit juice they used as a mixer. This drink was invented at the Raffles Hotel in Singapore by bartender Ngiam Tong Boon. It has some mystery about it, as it's original recipe is up for debate. The currently accepted and far superior recipe is as follows:

1.5oz Gin
.5oz Cherry Heering
.25oz Cointreau
.5oz Benedictine
.5oz Lime Juice
2.0oz Pineapple Juice
Dash of Angostura Bitters
Few Dashes Grenadine

Shake with Ice and pour straight up or over ice and top with club soda. Garnish with a flag.

Using this recipe it's really not a classic sling anymore, but it's refreshing and it's flavor is complex enough to make you think of an exotic location like Singapore.

A little history and the opportunity to watch master bartender Chris McMillian in this video that's part of a series presented by the City of New Orleans. New Orleans Best Cocktail

Friday, June 3, 2011

(Review) Ezra Brooks Straight Kentucky Bourbon 90 proof

Mystique: 1-10 points
Score: 8
been around a while

Color: 1-10 points
Score: 9
dark amber, red tinge

Scent: 1-10 points
Score: 10
oakey, smoke, vanilla, floral

Initial Impression: 1-10 points
Score: 9
hopeful

Mouthfeel: 1-10 points
Score: 8
slight oily

Taste: 1-10 x 4 points
Score: 36
little burn, pepper, vanilla, wood short aftertaste

Raw total Score: 80 points

Bonus: Value: 1-10 points
Score: 10
dollar more than Evan Williams and its better

Total Score: 90 points

Part of this endeavor was to get us trying new things and after assessing my bourbon consumption I realized I was stuck in a rut. I don't have unlimited funds and when I buy something new my money usually goes to whatever shiny bottle of Rye Whiskey I haven't tried yet. I have not tried many of the high end Bourbons and with the sort of renaissance that it's enjoying there are plenty. I decided to find a really decent one in the middle, a best bang for the buck. Could another mid price bourbon dethrone Evan Williams as my old stand by? I'd been aware of Ezra Brooks as my grandfather had a bottle of Old Ezra behind his bar that came in its own coffin. A little wooden box with a bottle in it. I remember looking looking at it when I was a kid and thinking why would you want to drink something that comes in its own coffin. I saw my grandfather drinking it one day and asked him. He said it wasn't a coffin, it was a treasure chest. He was right, but I was never able to find that particular treasure again after I became of legal drinking age. Lucky for me, I spotted regular Ezra Brooks bourbon hidden among all those black labeled square bottles on the shelf. Once again, note to bourbon makers GET SOME NEW BOTTLES AND LABEL DESIGNS. I wasn't sure what to think. It's was priced right and was new to me. That made it perfect to try. The color was very good, just a little red tinge to the amber and when I poured it in the glass I was surprised to smell all those different aromas out of such a reasonably priced bottle. Sipped neat I experienced a smooth, peppery burn with a vanilla and woody flavor that didn't stick around too long. Very pleasant for such a reasonable price. My bourbon of choice is Wild Turkey which is a little on the peppery side so this was similar in experience and suited to my taste. I tried it on the rocks, in an old fashioned and a mint julep. It was great. I think the higher proofing really brings out that extra flavor and adds a contrast between the flavors and the burn. I found out Ezra Brooks Bourbon is made for the owner by the Evan Williams people and that it might even start from the same mash ball. How the rest of it's birth differs I am not sure and was unable to find out. I am assuming it's aged a little longer to obtain the higher proofing. This was a great find for me. I like it a bit better than Evan Williams for everyday use and have made it my new house Bourbon at home. If you like Wild Turkey or Evan Williams I think you'll like this. At a very reasonable price I can safely say this is a best bang for the buck

Monday, May 30, 2011

(Review) Fever Tree Tonic Water

Mystique: 1-10 points
Score: 7
its actually called fever tree

Color: 1-10 points
Score: 9
perfectly clear and bubbly

Scent: 1-10 Points
Score: 9
Excellent Quinine and Botanical Citrus

Initial Impression: 1-10 points
Score: 9
This doesn’t seem like ordinary tonic water

Mouthfeel: 1-10 points
Score: 10
bubbly, coating and crafted

Taste: 1-10 x 4 points
Score: 40
this is the best tonic water I have ever tasted. Botanical citrus, fresh quinine without chemical aftertaste

Raw total score: 84 points

Bonus Points: Value 1-10
Score: 8
About $5.00 4pk 8oz bottles, but its worth every penny.

Total Score: 92 points

It’s summer and I loves me some Gin and Tonic. It’s the perfect way to cool off on a hot day. Not too sweet and not too dry, perfect! Generally, that means your favorite gin with the usual mixer and the flavor you’re expecting. This year, is going to be different, we’re going to have some craft mixers. Finally, someone thought there was a market for them. My beer drinking friends get to drink all manner of weird and delicious local and regional brews, hand crafted and built with love. Stuff that I can’t always try without paying for my curiousity dearly in a few hours. I like beer, but beer doesn’t like me, no, what I get to do is I get to match my awesome booze with either scratch made mixers of my own concoction or mass produced things of which I have no idea what they’re supposed to taste like. Not any more. While fighting off hipsters and granola munchin, tree hugger types at the new local organic food store, I spied on the shelf an unassuming 4 pack of Fever Tree tonic. Holy Shit that stuff is expensive! I decide to treat myself, so I dodged a smug, but cute face and a tattoo sleeve and grabbed a 4 pack. I’ve heard there’s a new crop of craft made mixers floating around. An extension of the craft soda and beer market. I had been looking to try some, and now I have my chance. I think I’ll even pick up some organic limes to go with it. I made my first G&T today as we went right into summer, temps in the high 90’s and I need something to cool off. I pop the bottle and immediately it smells different, there’s botanical citrus and something that smells like the quinine I’m used to, but better. It’s very fizzy, and I can’t get over the smell, it’s different. I try it straight. WOW! It’s perfectly balanced with a flavor profile I have honestly never tasted before. It tastes familiar, but totally different than the tonic I’m used to. It has a wallop of flavor. Citrus, quinine, and some other root I cant put my finger on. I’m in uncharted territory. This flavor is totally new to me. Just thinking about saying that is making me wonder how many other things I eat and drink that taste similar, but are not really what their supposed to be. What have they done. This stuff mixes so perfectly with gin I think I’m ruined forever. Just to make sure, I make another one when I’m finished with my old stand by, Seagram's tonic. Yea, Its totally different. There’s an aftertaste, not a clean finish. There’s a chemical taste. This is not the same at all. It’s just not as good. It’s not as clean and refreshing. Go buy some Fever Tree. Just try it. I guarantee it will be like nothing you’ve had. If you like gin and tonics as much as I do, you merely have to ask yourself if the price is worth it. Is it worth mating to my expensive gin. I think it is, and I fear I’m ruined or enlightened forever.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Excels at Nothing: A drink in need of a name

Excels at Nothing: A drink in need of a name

A new cocktail from Excells At Nothing. It sounds quite interesting and refreshing. Can you help name it?

Update! I tried it when I got home from work. She did an excellent job. It's not too sweet and quite refreshing. I had to use angostura bitters in place of the fresh herbs but it worked great. I'll try with some other bitters in my collection. I even made a variant with cointreau/curacao which made it very smooth.

2 shots black rum
1 shot Cointreau/Curacao
4 dashes Angustura bitters
4 dashes lime juice
1 sugar cube
splash of water
top with tonic

Mix in a shaker and top with tonic. Stir. An excellent summer drink.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

(Review) Georges DuBoeuf 2008 Beaujolais Special Selection

Mystique: 1-10 points
Score: 8
always heard it was good

Color: 1-10 points
Score: 9
nice red maroon

Scent: 1-10 points
Score: 7
grapes, wine, flowers

Initial Impression: 1-10 points
Score: 9

Mouthfeel: 1-10 points
Score: 9
nice and light no coating

Taste: 1-10 x 4 points
Score: 36
fruity/grape light tannin, pleasant

Raw Score Total: 78

Bonus Points: Value 1-10 points
Score: 9
9.99 a bottle

TOTAL SCORE: 87 points


I certainly am not pretending to be a wine connoisseur, but I drink wine fairly often, usually with meals and I do know what I like. I liked this wine. I purchased it to have with dinner and guests that didn't really like red wine. I don't often subscribe to the this goes with red, that goes with white as I feel you should really drink what you like, but I was trying to give them a choice. I was in search of a lighter red that they might actually drink. After a bit of searching on "the google" I found that Beaujolais is usually called into service for just this function. It has a nice history about being the first wine of the year and being raced to market every November from France to points all over the world. A tradition, that was made more public by the Georges DuBoeuf winery and their reputation. Hence my choice. The wine is a nice maroon color and looks like a real red wine not like one of those rose colored things they try to pass off to non red drinkers. It nose is very floral and grapes. So far so good. It felt light on the tongue like a white and was very fruity and just pleasant in general with just a hint of tanin. It has a clean finish and dosen't stick with you very long. It's a very nice light red. I was surprised as were my guests that they were even considering and enjoying a red wine. It went with the beautifully cooked steaks I prepared and accented the pasta. A great choice for dinner and at 10 bucks what's not to like. Keep it in mind if you don't like red wine or you are looking for an alternative to offer guests.

Friday, May 20, 2011

(Cocktail recipe) The Chinese

1 1/2 oz Jamaica rum
1 tsp triple sec
1 tsp maraschino liqueur
1 tbsp grenadine syrup
1 dash bitters


Pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker half-filled with ice cubes. Shake well, strain into a cocktail glass, and serve.

Lately I've been giving Chris various reprints of old bar books (and by reprints, I mean someone dismantled the old books and scanned, then printed them) for birthdays and Christmas.  Occasionally I'll dig through them to find something interesting.  My most recent discovery was the Chinese, so named for its color - it looks like traditional red Chinese lacquer.  It's not overly sweet, but is very balanced, and it's all booze...so drink carefully!



(Chris's Note) The Jamaica Rum that this recipe calls for is a style of rum, not necessarily rum from Jamaica.  Unfortunately, like many old liquors and liqueurs that are no longer produced we're not really sure what it tasted like.  The best approximation we can deduce is a dark Navy rum (Cruzan Black Strap, Goslings Black Seal, Kracken) mixed with a gold rum.  In order to achieve this easily I would increase the Rum to 1/1 oz pour.  You may need to adjust the triple sec, bitters, and Maraschino accordingly by teaspoon to balance the rum you chose to use.  The finished product should taste completely smooth and balanced when it hits the tongue like a fine Chinese Lacquer finish.

(Cocktail Recipe) The Pirate!

2 oz of Gold Tequila
4 oz of Ginger ale
Twist of lime

In a highball glass pour 2oz tequila then top with ginger ale and stir. Add your twist. Yea I know not the most elaborate, but if you order it, a bartender will look at you funny, because not too many people drink tequila this way. Just tilt your head and give 'em and Aye Matey! Picked it up in the West Indies. As usual the higher quality tequila you use the better it will taste.

(Review) Gordons Vodka 80 proof

Mystique: 1-10 points
Score: 5
none really

Color: 1-10 points
Score: 9
perfectly clear

Scent: 1-10 Points
Score: 8
very little slight alcohol

Initial Impression: 1-10 points
Score: 8
decent not really sure

Mouthfeel: 1-10 points
Score: 5
really none not good or bad

Taste: 1-10 x 4 points
Score: 32
no real taste clean smooth

Raw total score: 67 points

Bonus Points: Value 1-10
Score: 8
$12.99 a 1.75 in my area

Total Score: 75 points

There's not much to say about this. Gordon's web page is all about their gin and no mention of the vodka. No one else seems to have much to say about it either. A few mentions here and there about it's low price and that's about it. I'm not a heavy vodka drinker. Vodka is the one liquor that is judged by it's lack of flavor and smell. This neutral-ness indicates higher quality. In order to market that nothingness they've come up with fancy bottles and names. Making a swing through the vodka section is a treat for me to look at all the pretty glass. Gordon's gives up the pretty to give you a good value. A plain bottle almost exactly the same as the gin with different colors on the label. The smell is OK, and not overpowering, the taste is almost non existent there's no oily aftertaste either. there's something there, but it's definitely not like some of the even cheaper vodka's that make you think of rubbing alcohol or brake fluid. Now I wouldn't want to drink it straight or on the rocks, but it makes a fine mixer and is a perfect candidate for making your own infusions. Gordon did a good job at making a inexpensive neutral spirit, perfect for a rail standard issue. Good job Mr. Gordon.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

(Review) Patron Silver 100% Agave Tequila 80 Proof

Mystique: 1-10 points
Score: 6
Currently the douchebag drink of choice

Color: 1-10 points
Score: 9
perfectly clear

Scent: 1-10 points
Score: 6
Barely agave / No smell

Initial Impression: 1-10 points
Score: 5
Nice Bottle / douchey reputation

Mouthfeel: 1-10 points
Score: 8
No oil /disappears quickly

Taste: 1-10 x 4 points
Score: 20
Woody Cedar? / No Burn / bad aftertaste

Raw score total: 54

Bonus Points: Value 1-10 points
Score: 3
$40 for a 750ml overpriced for lack of flavor there are much better premium tequilas

Total Score: 57 points

It appears this Tequila is very popular with the Jersey Shore crowd and while I like that tequila is gaining a little popularity I can't say I like the Douche-bag Patrol being associated with it. I do understand why they like it though as it has almost no flavor and smell. I expect as much from the crowd that drinks premium vodka as a mixer. In short, this is Tequila for Sissies, over-refined and laking flavor. To be less harsh I could say that if you don't like tequila or you don't like to taste your alcohol in your drink then this tequila might be for you. To me it’s only flavor is like the cedar chips you put in a hamster cage. After checking their website (which is very nice and full of pictures) I see they ferment the Agave in wooden barrels which is probably where it picks up that taste. I hope their anejo is tastier and ill have to try that at a later date. If you're looking for a premium tequila look elsewhere as this is one I don't think can stand on it's own on the rocks. As a shooter with lime and salt it loses all flavor completely. Maybe it's the lack of flavor making it popular, or maybe its just that name is a bit easier to pronounce.

(Review) Monte Alban 100% Agave Mezcal 80 Proof

Mystique: 1-10 points
Score: 10
It has mystery / The worm / why is it the only one on the shelf

Color: 1-10 points
Score: 7
pale clear yellow / nothing special

Scent: 1-10
Score: 8
Agave / Wood / Earth

Initial Impression: 1-10
Score: 8
Cool patterned bottle / THE WORM

Mouthfeel: 1-10 points
Score: 8
Thicker than water / Not Oily / pleasant

Taste: 1-10 x 4 points
Score 36
Very Smooth / Slight Bitter / Very Small Burn

Raw score total: 77 points

Bonus Points: Value 1-10 points
Score: 9
$25 for a 750ml its just below premium tequila and way above regular in taste and priced like regular tequila Score: 9

Total Score: 86 points

I could write forever about Mezcal, so I'll try to hit the basics. It's not tequila even though its made from the agave plant and it has a history dating back to the Central American Indians. The Spanish Conquistadors were thirsty after all that raping and pillaging and they wanted to get hammered and party. The local priest had conjured up a new batch of pulque and they gave it a shot. What they wanted was rum, and this stuff was too thick and pulpy but it had potential. So they stopped raping and pillaging for a while and got to work refining the stuff and using their superior knowledge of distillation to make something more potent and drinkable. After all, what fun is conquering an indigenous population sober, and rum was too expensive or unavailable so lets try some chemistry! All in the name of having a good time of course. The distillation technique for making Mezcal was primarily started in the Oaxaca region of Mexico and involves using hearts of the Agave plant and mashing them with a horse drawn stone wheel. Then straining and fermenting the liquid using a steam distillation method. This process is still used today and gives Mezcal its smooth and distinct flavor. Mezcal in keeping with the Conquistador tradition is usually taken as a shooter mostly with salt and a lime wedge for maximum effect. This one goes down smooth and flavorful. Its sometimes chased with sangarita (a shot of a citrus mixed tomato juice). The 2 go together very well and its a welcome addition. Lastly every bottle of Monte Alban Mezcal comes with an Agave worm. The website states that those that eat the worm gain power and strength. I also think it could be used as a drink holder, but as it's usually a shooter it doesn't sit around long. Mostly it winds up being a challenge to see who will get it and if they with eat it. It only adds more fun to a good time.

Monday, April 25, 2011

(Review) Old Grand-Dad 100 proof Bonded Bourbon Whiskey

Mystique: 1-10 points
Score: 2
It doesn't really have any

Color: 1-10 points
Score: 8
Nice dark garnet

Scent: 1-10 points
Score: 8
bourbon / vanilla / caramel

Initial Impression: 1-10 points
Score: 6
Cheap, old mannish and unexciting

Mouthfeel: 1-10 points
Score: 3
very oily / coating

Taste: 1-10 x 4 points
Score: 16
big burn / alcohol / slight woody taste

Raw Score Total: 41 points

Bonus Points
Value 1-10 points
Score: 2
It's not that cheap, but it tastes cheap $19.99 for a 750ml

Total Score: 43 points

I don't normally drink this stuff. I bought a small bottle just to do this review. You might see this in some old bar or maybe your grandmother has some sitting in the liquor cabinet, but I don't think its very popular anymore. There's good reason for that as this is the worst bourbon I have ever had. I drink bourbon pretty regularly from about five or so different brands. I've had many others over the years, but never tried The Old Grand-Dad. No one in my family drank it, so I can't even say maybe I sneaked some out of the liquor cabinet as a kid. It does look and smell great so I had high hopes that I had possibly found another cheap good bourbon, but as soon as it hits your tongue the horror show begins. Captain Spaulding couldn't burn your mouth with a flame thrower any worse. I drink Wild Turkey regularly and I'm used to high proof bourbons, but this doesn't even come close. I think me experience went like this:

“ Ahhhh...AHHHHH!...EWWW...BLECH!”

First it's the big burn on your tongue. You’re then wondering if you just drank rubbing alcohol. After that maybe someone must have pinched your nose until you opened your mouth and they rubbed a tongue depressor all over your tongue until your breath is the same as a Canadian Beaver. Next someone must have crashed the Exxon Valdez in your mouth to create an oil slick this big. Finally you're dazed and just trying to figure out what the hell you just did. If you add some water to it, which usually opens up the flavor of bourbon the whole horror show completely disappears like it folded up it's tent and moved on to the next town. It's work is done here. It just leaves a vaguely alcohol smell and oily aftertaste where it was. A strange experience indeed. The price is high too - it's not a value by any stretch. If your looking for a cheaper bourbon that's good, buy Evan Williams and skip the tickets to this horror show.

(Review) Cruzan Black Strap Rum 80 proof

Mystique: 1-10 points
Score: 9
Pirates!

Color: 1-10 points
Score: 9
Inky and shimmering

Scent 1-10 points
Score: 9
Molasses and butterscotch

Initial Impression: 1-10 points
Score: 9
Nice label / I love black rum / inky looking

Mouthfeel: 1-10 points
Score: 9
Burn / oily / coating

Taste: 1-10 x 4 points
Score: 36
Heavy / thick / buttery / oak / molasses

Raw Score Total: 79 points

Bonus Points:
Value: 1-10 points
Score: 10 (11.99 750ml)

Total Score: 91 points

Feel like a pirate today! If ye be willin’ I have somethin’ for ye to try. Cruzan Black Strap Rum. Technically it's called a navy rum or a dark rum not a Pirate rum, but you know the pirates must have pillaged it from navy ships. You may not be familiar with this inky treasure as most places only carry gold and light rums. There really are only a few manufacturers of truly black rum, Gosling’s Black Seal, this Cruzan and now Kracken. If you want flavor and complexity try it. It tastes like buttery molasses and it coats a glass like squid ink. The flavor is so strong you may not want to drink it straight or on the rocks. Traditionally after the 1600's Navy rum was used to add flavor to cocktails and cooking. If you get some good ginger beer like Saranac and mix it with that you'll feel the breeze blowing through your hair and smell the gunpowder from the cannons. The true drink of buccaneers everywhere. If someone tries to give you some gold rum and call it navy rum, tell that landlubber to get that sissy crap out of your face and walk the plank. This is a best buy in my opinion.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

(Review) Beefeater Gin 94 proof

Mystique: 1-10 points
Score: 7
It’s always been rail gin

Color: 1-10 points
Score: 7
hard to say its clear like gin should be

Scent: 1-10 points
Score: 4
alcohol, overpowering, medicine-y, juniper and fennel

Initial Impression: 1-10 points
Score: 9
established brand, cool bottle, history

Mouth feel: 1-10 points
Score: 7
feels light like it evaporates in your mouth

Taste: 1-10 x 4 points
Score: 24
instant burn / overwhelming botanicals

Raw score total: 58 points
Bonus Points:
Value: 1-10 points
Score: 5
It's priced too high right under premium gins
Total Score: 63 points

I received this as a Christmas gift because I wanted the really cool red glass shaker it came with, but I'm sure I must have tried it before and don't remember. This gin has been around since 1820 and for a lot of people it may be the bottle they think of when they think gin. It a distinguished looking square glass bottle with the English Beefeater on it, you know the guys in the red suits with the funny hats that stand guard at the towers of London. It has a reputation of being an example of what London Dry Gin should be, but If you only ever tasted this as an example of gin I think you'd be doing gin a dis-service. Even though the company claims it to be thoughtfully blended and crafted it has no refinement or smoothness to it. It smells like rubbing alcohol with something mixed in it. This may be due to the high proofing. It doesn't have a smooth combined nose, one sip and it overpowered my sense of smell. The taste is harsh and overpowering. I tried it straight and that was awful my mouth was totally overpowered by burn and botanicals. In a g&t I still found it too strong, even overpowering the quinine and lime. I finally mixed it in a Singapore Sling and it worked. The aroma was blended in with the other ingredients and it kept a refreshing snap. I would use this for rail gin only in mixers and strong flavored ones at that. I think the company is trying to market this as a top shelf product. Pricing is just below premium gins and it's just too high in my opinion. I won’t be keeping this as my rail gin, but if you like very strong flavors or drink very sweet mixed drinks by all means try it.

(Review) Canadian Club 6 year 80 proof

Mystique: 1-10 points
Score: 9
Everything about it is classy and classic

Color: 1-10 points
Score: 9
Crystalline Amber catches light like a jewel

Scent: 1-10 points
Score: 8
Smells smooth and well blended hint of oak

Initial Impression: 1-10 points
Score: 9
Classic with an excellent reputation

Mouthfeel: 1-10 points
Score: 9
Even / Wet / Slightly Oily aftertaste

Taste: 1-10 x 4 points
Score: 38
Very Smooth Slight burn on the back end mellow taste stays with you

Raw Score Total: 80 points

Bonus Points:
Value: 1-10 points
Score: 10
$16.99 for 1.75

Total Score: 90 points

What is there to say about this classic whiskey? A lot actually if your into cocktail and spirit history. The short review is that you will not find a better whiskey in this price range. Even for 10-20 bucks more you're not going to find a smooth, tasty, perfectly blended whiskey like this. It's been a top selling brand for 150 years for a reason. It has received the Royal Seal from Queen Victoria, Invented the Manhattan for Lady Churchill, and been bootlegged by Al Capone during prohibition. The tale of the American entrepreneur that went to Canada to make whiskey sounds like movie script. If you go to the very in depth CC web page they'll tell you the whole story, and you'll see they are quite proud of their history and heritage. You pour it in the glass and you’re faced with an amber jewel. The smell is mellow. A hint of vanilla, and oak. The taste is smooth, but not too smooth. A perfectly blended experience of warm wet oakey flavor. It stays with you like a security blanket. The one problem with CC is it may seem a little old fashioned or boring. The new ad campaign emphasizing manliness and cool may change that view with the younger crowd. I can see hipsters latching on to it, to have with or instead of their PBR's and Millers. It's gong to make me laugh though watching unmanly skinny jeaned kids drinking it though. This whiskey is cool like the rat pack and James Bond (btw it's what he drank in the books not vodka martinis). It's not cool like that apartment your mommy and daddy are paying for is. Instead I like to picture Sean Connery and Earnest Hemingway drinking it while arm wrestling alligators and discussing the finer points of how great that broad's tits were that walked by. I think I'll leave you with that image. :)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

(Cocktail recipe) Uncle Tails Jazzy Juice (Sangria)

Make in 1 quart pitcher

20 oz fairly dry red table wine
10 oz of brandy/cognac or cointreau/triple sec
add a few ounces of fresh fruit
black cherries
orange slices
apple slices

If you want to make this in a larger quantity for a party use a gallon pitcher but make sure 75% of it is wine or you will knock everyone on their ass.

If you want to make this as a wine cooler sub half the wine for ginger ale/club soda or 7-up

Mix in pitcher add fruit slices. The ideal concoction is to freeze some of the cherries ahead of time to use as ice and just add them to the glass. If you let it sit overnight it tastes better as the fruit juices will mix and mingle. Pour into a Collins glass making sure each glass gets some fruit slices over ice or not and garnish with an orange slice. Enjoy on a hot day or any time.

(Cocktail Recipe) APPLE JACK SLAMMER

I'm not sure who originated this. I reverse engenieered it from a hot bartender who would never give me the recipe at a strip club I used to frequent. It's a fun round to have with friends and it tastes sweet and savory.

Get a 3oz thick walled shot or jigger glass

Pour 1.5oz of club soda or ginger ale in the shot glass

In a shaker place ice, 1oz jack daniels, .5 oz of apple flavored brandy shake well.

Float the jack and apple mix on top of the club soda/ ginger ale in the glass

Serve with napkin on top.

Place hand on top of napkin and slam glass on bar to mix.
Drink fizzy mixture as a shot.

(Cocktail Recipe) El Presidente's Mai Tai Punch

This is my take on the original Mai Tai. I've scaled it up so you can make it as a punch for parties and gatherings and it wont get you so schnockered after 2 of them. It still packs a wallop though.

6 oz dark rum
6oz light rum
2oz coconut rum
1oz apricot or peach brandy
1oz other fruity brandy like blackberry
24oz pineapple juice
24oz Sunkist orange soda
Mix in 1 gallon container, Shake, Pour over ice packed glass add orange and pineapple wedges to garnish with a paper umbrella.

(Do not sub any other orange soda. Sunkist is the only orange soda with caffeine and all that rum will make you sleepy, you want the party to be lively :)

(Review) Borsao Red Wine 2008 (Bodegas Borsao Spain)

Mystique: 1-10 points
Score: 2
never heard of it extra point for Spain, I like Spanish wines

Color: 1-10 points
Score: 8
nice ruby red with good legs

Scent: 1-10 points
Score: 7
average dry wine grape smell

Initial Impression: 1-10 points
Score: 7
Unassuming Abstract art in dark colors on the bottle

Feel: 1-10 points
Score 6
unimpressive standard wine consistency

Taste: 1-10 x 4 points
Score: 28
smooth slightly dry with a lot of tannin

Raw Score Total: 56 points

Bonus Points: 1-10
Value 1-10 points
Score 9
$8.99 a bottle

Total Score: 65 points

I had never heard of this wine. It was recommended to me by one of the Sommeliers at the fancy wine store I go to based on my liking of a similar Portuguese red table wine. I like wine, but I'm no connoisseur. I generally look for something that tastes good with food and is fairly inexpensive. This was surprisingly enjoyable. It had an even, smooth taste that was a little dry but not too dry. It would pair perfect with red meat or pizza. It's fairly average as red table wines go, fine with dinner and that's about it. I didn't enjoy it as much as other wines I have had in it’s class, but I bet I could make a pretty good sangria out of it.

(Review) Gambarelli & Davitto (G&D) Sweet Vermouth

Mystique: 1-10 points
Score: 1
Grandma’s secret Stash!

Color: 1-10 points
Score: 6
burnt amber

Scent: 1-10 points
Score: 4
grapey/alcohol

Initial Impression: 1-10 points
Score: 5
hobo wine alright!

Mouthfeel: 1-10 points
Score: 5
thin slight oily

Taste: 1-10 x 4
Score: 24
strong grape flavor / fruity

Raw Score Total: 45 points

Bonus Points:
Value 1-10
Score: 7

Total Score: 52 points

This isn't Campari with a twist. This stuff comes in a half gallon green jug as big as your head for 7 bucks. It's the kind of fortified wine you expect to see empty bottles of lying in alleys where hobos frequent. The surprising part is it doesn't taste bad or smell like fortified wine. It has a strong very sweet grape flavor, and a fruity aroma. You drink it and get a slight oily residue in your mouth, but it mixes well. I wouldn't drink it with club soda and a twist - but in a Manhattan its pretty good. You're definitely not going to beat the price. If it was a chick I'd hit it.

(Review) Evan Williams Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey (86 proof)

Mystique: 1-10 points
Score: 2

Color: 1-10 points
Score: 8

Scent: 1-10 points
Score: 8

Initial Impression: 1-10 points
Score: 5

Mouthfeel: 1-10 points
Score: 6

Taste: 1-10 x 4 points
Score: 32

Raw Score Total: 61 points

Bonus Points:
Value: 1-10 points
Score: 10

Total Score: 71 points

Evan Williams Bourbon, a good solid bourbon at a great price. I like this bourbon. It's my everyday brand at home, but I have to say it needs it's own identity. The label and bottles are touted on the website as being proprietary and they seem quite proud of the gold foil script, but lets face the facts. When you think black label bourbon in a square bottle and you think ‘Jack Daniels’. It's the marketing. I can't find a reason that the bourbon labels are black or why you would want to look like your major competitor. If you look at Evan Williams website you get the feeling that this bourbon is older, more established and maybe they had the black label first, but I can say they lost the marketing war. They are the number 2 selling bourbon and they need to look different. I think this every time I buy a bottle and look at it on the shelf. I'm not sure if they have more dominance in the deep south, but that looks like where their marketing is aimed. They sponsor bass fishing and they seem to gear their marketing toward the American outdoor lifestyle.

I'm only waxing on about this because I feel bad about the low score on a very good bourbon. It's aged 7 years and tastes smooth and buttery with a very prominent spice and a slight burn on the back end. It's not for sweet bourbon drinkers. If you think Makers Mark is the best ever you probably won't like this, but try it and see if I can change your mind. It's that spicy taste on the back end. It reminds me of my favorite rye whiskey and matched with that buttery-ness up front it smooths out to a mellow and tasty whiskey. If you pour some in the glass you'll notice a rich amber hue and nice bourbon smell. It's kinda buttery and a little sugary with a waft of vanilla. You take a sip and notice it goes down smooth with that spice and slight burn on the back end but it has no oily type residue. You can enjoy this on the rocks but it really shines in a Mint Julep. If you prefer, try it with coke and see if you don't switch to it for everyday use. Lastly. the price: It's the best bang for the buck. A handle, if they had those will run you under 25 bucks and your getting a quality bourbon that will taste better and more true to form than some bourbons costing 3 times as much. I'm sorry for the low score for such a great bourbon, but in the words of a sage from my childhood Be someone important, be yourself.

(Review) Sailor Jerry Spiced Navy Rum (92 proof)

Mystique: 1-10 points
Score: 8
hyped / maybe more if i was into tattoo culture

Color: 1-10 points
Score: 8
Deep gold / this is not navy rum it's gold rum

Scent: 1-10 points
Score: 9
vanilla bean / sugar cane / mace spice / whiff of alcohol

Initial Impression: 1-10 points
Score: 9
No way this is Navy Rum, but it's got a Hula Girl

Mouthfeel: 1-10 points
Score: 8
no aftertaste / disappears quickly

Taste: 1-10 x 4 points
Score: 32
blended / little vanilla / tiny burn / buttery aftertaste

Raw Score Total: 74 points

Bonus Points:
Value 1-10 points
Score: 7
It's priced right in the middle of the pack

Total Score: 81 points

I drink a good bit of rum and this came highly recommended by friends so I was looking forward to reviewing it. It's got some hype about it and appears that is especially so if you're into the tattoo culture because of it's namesake. I held the bottle up to the light and thought it has a nice color, but this is the lightest ‘navy rum’ I've ever seen. It looks like a gold rum and is about the same color as Captain Morgan so I was feeling a little less than full on pirate.

It tastes pretty good with almost no aftertaste or oily-ness. A little vanilla with a buttery finish. I smelled the spices but really didn't taste any of them. Perhaps they were looted by pirates! It has a strange taste that it's blended, like it's not smooth enough or something. I really couldn't put my finger on exactly what that weird taste was. I wouldn't drink this stuff straight so I tried it in some coke. Mixed with soda the flavor almost completely disappears. It just leaves a sweet buttery hint. Not bad for people that don't want to taste the alcohol in their drinks. There are plenty of other rums I like better than this one. It's good, but there are better choices out there around the same price. If you don't want to taste alcohol in your cocktails or you have guests that don't, try mixing up something with this instead of that vodka drink next time.

(Review) JAGERMEISTER

Mystique: 1-10
Score: 10 points
cool bottle, stag on the label this shit is METAL!

Color: 1-10
Score: 6 points
black?

Scent: 1-10
Score: 7 points
mouthwash

Initial Impression: 1-10
Score: 10 points
interesting

Mouthfeel: 1-10
Score: 8 points
blood

Taste: 1-10 x 4
Score: 8 x 4 = 32 points
Cough Medicine

Raw Score Total: 72 points

Bonus Points
Value: 1-10
Score: 3 points

Total Score: 77 points

Jagermeister. You say the name and it sounds tough. This is a mans drink. Or is it? It's German (you know the Germans always make good stuff) and its made in a place called Wolfenb├╝ttel. Can that name be any more metal? Throw up your devil horns and slam one down. This stuff is pounded down by bro’s and ho's at bars across America. It's used as a challenge and a rite of passage, but never for it's creators intention. “Yea man, and I heard it has elks blood in it too!” (it doesn't, this was a rumor started some time ago).

How does that happen you ask? What was it's intended purpose? Well a long time ago some German dude created a new digestif. WTF is that you ask? A drink designed to help you digest your dinner, meant to be taken in a dainty stemmed shot glass and sipped. Hardly metal, but the stuff worked. The combination of herbs and spices uses some holistic medicine approach and it helps you digest your dinner. No, not really, what it does is stops the formation of gas therefore making you feel better after a big meal and seemingly digest your food better. It's ‘snake oil’, like in the old western movies. “Doc Browns cure all will cure what ails you, only a nickle.”

The stuff is legit as I can attest, it does make you feel better after a big meal. So it's billed as a kind of medicine. Did it at one time have a legit purpose? Yes, it was issued to the German army as a field anesthetic. What! “Hey that Yank blew your arm off, here put some Jager on it!”

Yes folks, that's metal!

So you own a drink recipe that tastes like cough medicine, has a high alcohol content and looks like blood. What do you do with it? You market the hell out if it. Get it’s name out there and sponsor tons of stuff like car and speedboat racing and make it manly. But it's too sweet and tastes funny. Well you recommend that it only be drunk at below freezing temperatures. Yea man, perfect! Just think, we'll name it tough, put some religious symbolism on the bottle and sponsor a metal concert tour!

All kidding aside I like the stuff, it does get rid of gas and its fun to pound a few. I would not recommend it at room temperature because it takes on this weird pancake syrup flavor and it'll coat a glass like paint, but frozen and chased by a beer it's a fun evening. I cannot say it's a great value. It's fairly expensive, but no more so than other specialty liquors. Save it for that after dinner shot or make a Jagerbomb with some Redbull at the bar (that’s the most popular form of mixer - it always has the word bomb in it). When you drink it always remember to make up some extra shit about it's history or ingredients to scare or impress your friends with and you can't go wrong. Whatever it is not, what it is, is fun! Hells yea!

(Review) Gordon's London Dry Gin

Mystique: 0-10
Score: 6 points

Color: 0-10
Score: 10 points
Perfectly Clear

Scent: 0-10
Score: 8 points
evergreen

Initial Impression: 0-10
Score: 9 points
refreshingly tasty

Mouthfeel: 0-10
Score: 9 points
thicker than you'd think

Taste: 0-10 x 4
Score: 36 points
Tastes like Gin is supposed to

Raw Score Total:
78 points

Bonus Points
Value: 1-10
Score: 10 points

Total Score: 88 points

Ahh! Gordon's Gin, I know it well. It's unassuming sitting there on the shelf in it's clear plastic bottle. Jealous; yet smug towards those fancy bottles on the top shelf. If you have never tasted this gin and know nothing about it you might pass it by as just another bottle of cheap hooch. It's only eye catcher is it's very classic looking label. The yellow label with the red boar's head might look familiar if you're a classic movie buff. You see, Gordon's gin is often cited as one of the the first examples of product placement in motion pictures. Cases are stacked between Bogie and Hepburn on that ragged old boat The African Queen - Hepburn, the tea teetotaler, throws several cases of the stuff in the river. What a shame to treat such a great gin with such disrespect. You see it's a little smug at those fancy top shelf gins not only because its a little famous, but it's the only gin to receive the Royal Warrant from the Queen of England shortly after it's production began in 1769. Did I also mention Gordon's has given permission for use of its logo by the Red Rippers US Navy Fighter squadron since the 1930's? Why has it been around that long? It's the quintessential London Dry Gin. A picture of it's label should be in the dictionary next to the definition.

Gordon's is clear as crystal, it's nose is all juniper and spices and it immediately reminds you of Christmas. The first taste is dry and complicated with a mix of juniper, coriander and botanicals with a smooth but slight snap at the finish. It's one of the few straight alcohols that actually seems refreshing when you drink it, and it tastes equally good in a martini or a gin and tonic. It's mixed, but always there, and lends a cool taste to anything you decide to put it in. In my area you get all this for $11 per 1.75 liters bottle. A great value with taste that's half or less than the price of the fancy bottled gins. It should score higher on the mystique but I don't think anyone knows about it's history anymore. Sure your gin has a nifty bottle, but this is a cool classic that never goes out of style.

The Ratings System

I tried to come up with a ratings system for reviews that mimicked the scores of wine reviewing so there is a relative standard scale for comparisons to other peoples reviews. After researching the topic I've noticed that many of the criteria for these kind of ratings are arbitrary and based on the particular reviewers experience. I've come up with the following categories and feel they are important to give the overall impression of the libation in question.

The point system:
Mystique: 0-10 (does it have a reputation?)
Colour: 0-10 (what does it look like?)
Scent: 0-10 (how does it smell?)
Initial: 0-10 (what do I think before tasing it.)
Feel: 0-10 (what's it like in my mouth?)
Taste: 0-10*4 (how does it taste?)
Value 0-10 (Is it a good buy?)
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Final Score: ?/100

So, here we are.

Standing here to serve up the hair of the dog that bit you, or any other cocktail or alchemical potion that you care to have. I specialize in the classics, be it that cocktail or just an ear to whisper your troubles to. I’m interested in determining what the well stocked bar should include, discovering the history of your drink or introducing you to a new one. Finding a forgotten flavor or even sometimes creating your own. I prefer a lounge to a bar and am equally at home in a hole in the wall or a ‘tiki’ themed adventure as long as the place has some atmosphere. The cocktail is a social thing, and the conversation or storytelling is all part of the fun. Never forget an evening at your or a friend’s home is usually just as good or better sometimes than going out.