Take It Easy

Don't Be SorryLower proof cocktails are increasing in popularity; enough so to be one of the important “cocktail trends of 2013.” Since you’re reading a cocktail blog, I assume you like drinking. Lower alcohol cocktails allow you to have an extra one or two. I like these after dinner.

Don’t Be Sorry
2 oz sweet vermouth (Martini & Rossi)
½ oz allspice dram (St. Elizabeth)
4 oz club soda
Build over large cubes or ice spears in a tall glass. Garnish with a twist of lemon or orange peel, if desired.

This one clocks in around 6.5% alcohol by volume*, which is similar to an IPA. (For comparison, a Manhattan is around 36% abv.)

Enjoy a couple.

*roughly estimated using this.

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Happy Holidays!

For Christmas Eve I’m making up a batch of what I think is one of the best fireside drinks, the Star Cocktail. I take a couple liberties with my variation, but it’s what tastes best to me and delightfully simple.

Star Cocktail
1.5 oz applejack (Laird’s)
1.5 oz sweet vermouth (Martini & Rossi)
1.5 dashes each Angostura & Peychaud’s bitters
Stir with ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with lemon peel. 

You’re probably thinking, “How do I get 1.5 dashes of bitters?” You make two cocktails at once and double all of the quantities. The original recipe calls for 3 dashes of Angostura or Peychaud’s, but I see no reason not to use both; the spices in the bitters add to that fireside feeling. I’ve also tried this with Laird’s bonded apple brandy and syrup and found it lacking. Somehow the applejack with its neutral spirits makes this drink better.

However you decide to make it, or whatever you are having, happy holidays to you and yours.

Cherry + Heering = Cheering.

Cherry Heering is another ingredient that I’m late to the party in utilizing. It’s a Danish cherry liqueur used in many classic cocktails including the Singapore Sling, Blood & Sand and one of my favorites, Remember the Maine.

When approaching the creation of a Heering cocktail, I decided first that my base spirit would be gin. Originally, I used what we call around here the Boudreau ratio. While the results were pleasing, I found it didn’t quite fill my cocktail glasses and coupes quite enough.  I also tried Punt e Mes as the vermouth component. Creating the drink in July, this proved a bit too wintry. (Remind me to try it again in 6 months.) I thought dry vermouth, but I didn’t want a cherry flavored martini. My solution was to go the perfect route, which in cocktails is equal parts sweet and dry vermouth. Hence:

Perfect Hearing Perfect Hearing
2 oz London dry gin (Bombay Dry)
½ oz sweet vermouth (Martini & Rossi Rosso)
½ oz dry vermouth (Martini & Rossi Extra Dry)
2 teaspoons Cherry Heering
Stir with ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with orange peel. 

A Winter Warmer (or Vinter Varmer as I like to say.)

Inspired by this video by Jamie Boudreau, I have been experimenting. This is the best and most delicious result (my ingredients in parentheses):

Fireside Chat
3/4oz bourbon (Jim Beam Black)
3/4oz applejack (Laird’s – is there another kind?)
3/4oz sweet vermouth (Martini & Rossi)
1/4oz peach amaretto (see Sept./Oct. 2010 issue of Imbibe)
2 dashes Regan’s Orange Bitters No. 6
1 dash Angostura Bitters
Combine ingredients in a mixing glass. Stir with ice until very cold. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a twist of orange peel.

If this seems to vary from Mr. Boudreau’s formula, it is because I split the spirit into two equal parts. Just bourbon didn’t quite work, nor did just applejack. The blend of the two is a happy medium. Also, you don’t want a high proof whiskey here as it will unbalance the drink. I find Old Overholt rye works just as well.

[Note: I’m sorry there is no photo. Though like most everything I make, this is a brown drink with some citrus oil on the surface.]