Turkey Day Turn Up

moscow-mule-484

Moscow Mule, simple to make, easy to drink.

It’s the day before Thanksgiving and you’re back in your old house, sleeping in your old room and getting together to catch up with old friends. When you’re sitting in the livingroom or basement or family room with your girls reminiscing over a glass or two, the key question is: What are you gonna drink? Below, a few Thanksgiving drink suggestions:

• If you’ve already had at least one “starter” plate of food as the official taster or you know it’s about to go down at the dinner table. Ginger is a natural tummy soother so drinking a cocktail that contains the herb just makes sense when you’re anticipating some abdominal issues. At least that’s what I told my doctor not too long ago. Full disclosure: He didn’t agree but hey, just about any drink containing ginger is a winner for me.

 

Ginger beer is the quickest and easiest way to incorporate ginger into a drink. It allows you to add a refreshing spice note along with a bite of heat straight out of the bottle.

 

Moscow Mule

This is one of my go-to cocktails. It’s basic but refreshing and because nearly impossible to ruin. In fact, whenever I’m at an unfamiliar bar and not sure of the skill level of the bartender, I always ask if they have ginger beer. If they do, a mule is always my request, whether it’s on the menu or not.

2 oz vodka. (No need for fancy, I like Stoli or Russian Standard for this drink)

½ ounce fresh lime juice

4-6 oz cold ginger beer (Q Drinks makes a fine one, that’s not overly sweet, as does Fever-Tree, but Gosling’s, Reed’s or another brand will do in a pinch

Add the lime to a Collins glass, or a special copper Moscow Mule mug if you have it. Throw in a few ice cubes and then the vodka. Top with the ginger beer.

 

Dark and Stormy

Another simple cocktail that anyone can make, this one is for that friend who’s still stuck on ordering rum and Cokes.

2 oz dark rum (Gosling’s Black Seal is traditional but any dark rum made for mixing—meaning not that bottle of good sipping rum your dad’s been keeping—will do)

4 oz ginger beer (again, Gosling’s ginger beer is traditional)

Combine the ingredients in a tall glass filled with ice cubes. Stir.

 

Gin-Gin Mule

Mixology legend Audrey Saunders created this riff on the Moscow Mule as the signature drink at her Pegu Club in New York City

1 ½ oz Tanqueray gin

¾ oz lime juice

1 oz simple syrup (or1 teaspoon superfine granulated sugar)

8-10 mint leaves, chopped

2 oz ginger beer

Muddle the lime juice, simple syrup, or sugar, add mint leaves together in the bottom of a mixing glass or shaker. Add ginger beer and gin and shake well. Pour into a highball glass filled with ice. Top with more ginger beer and garnish with a sprig of mint.

 

• If apple is your choice for seasonal flavor, warm up with a glass of Crown Royal’s latest expression, Crown Royal Regal Apple whisky. Created by infusing their whiskies with regal Gala apples, the result is a smooth pour with very pronounced apple notes on the nose and sugary, candied apple flavor. It might be perfect for the new-to-brown spirits drinker who doesn’t like their whisky to taste too much like whisky. Best served over ice as a shot, or with a little tart cranberry juice to cut the sweetness. Bonus, the green, velvet bag the bottle comes in is a nice change from the signature Crown Royal purple bag everyone has somewhere in their house.

Crown Royal edit

 

 

Stillhouse Moonshine Whiskey, a silver medalist at the 2011 San Francisco World Spirits competition, have relaunched their small batch whiskey brand and added four new, infused flavors to their line. The Apple Crisp works well over ice or with a splash of ginger ale or ginger beer.

 

• If you think turkey and gravy and sides are aight, but the dessert is what Thanksgiving is all about. Pinnacle, the vodka brand behind so many of the most creative flavored vodkas, has created a couple of holiday-themed cocktails just for you.

 

Dessert Table

1 part Pinnacle Pumpkin Pie Vodka

1 part DeKuyper Crème DeCocoa Dark

1 part Half and Half

Combine ingredient and serve in a mug. Garnish with whipped cream.

Dessert Table

 

Sweater Weather Swirl

1 part Pinnacle Cinnabon Vodka

1 part Coffee

Serve hot or cold in a mug. Garnish with whipped cream and cinnamon.

Sweater Weather Swirl

 

 

 

 

 

So, what are you pouring this Thanksgiving weekend? Let us know in the comments.

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Why So Sour?

whiskey sour

You may have have overheard another bar patron order a sour, or heard it referred to in some TV show or movie (Don Draper’s a fan). And likely, you had no idea what it was but thought anything called a sour just can’t be something I’d want. Consider this: Chances are your favorite drink is a sour. If your cocktail of choice is a margarita, cosmopolitan, daiquiri or a Long Island Iced Tea, then you have already fallen for sour’s charms.

 

At their most basic, sours are just mixed drinks that contain a base spirit (gin, rum, vodka, bourbon, etc), lemon or lime juice, and a sweet element, which could be sugar, simple syrup or a sweet liqueur. So, here’s the rundown:

Margarita (tequila, lime, Cointreau); Cosmo (vodka, lime and cranberry, Cointreau), Daiquiri (rum, lime, simple syrup), Long Island (vodka, gin, rum, tequila, lemon juice, triple sec and simple syrup).

 

Here’s what you need to know to make your own at home or order like a pro.

  1. The key to a sour is the critical balance between the tartness of the citrus and the sugary element. Too much of one creates a mouth-puckering mess. Too much of the other and you get a cloying, syrupy “candy.” Either way, it’s not a cocktail you’d want to spend time with.
  2. Speaking of spending time, do not waste yours with pre-packaged sour mixes that contain God-knows-what additives and preservatives. Fresh citrus juice is the way to go here. Sure, you can make something quick and dirty with a bottle of mix, but wouldn’t you rather elevate the experience for yourself and your guests? It doesn’t take much time or effort to juice a few lemons and lime, and you’ll be rewarded with drink worthy of your best tequilas and gins.
  3. Quality bars and bartenders always use fresh over mix. If they’re reaching for pre-packaged at your local when they already have fresh limes and lemons to garnish drinks, well then they’ve got it all wrong.
  4. Sours are just about the oldest cocktails, with recipes said to date back as far as the 1800s. They are one of the pillars of mixology, and if your bartender doesn’t know her way around making one, then you need to find a new bar.

 

You’ve already met my personal favorite sour, the Sidecar, in a previous post. Here are two more classics, easy and impressive to whip up for guests and great to add as your go-to drink order when out on the town, as well as a recipe for simple syrup.

 

 

Simple Syrup

1 cup water

1 cup sugar

Heat water in a saucepan, add sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely. The syrup can be refrigerated and stored in a glass jar for up to a month.

 

 

Maker’s Mark (Whiskey) Sour

2 oz Maker’s Mark Bourbon

1 ounce simple syrup

1/2 ounce lemon juice

Shake ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker and strain into a rocks glass. Garnish with a slice of lemon and a cherry.

You can also substitute the simple syrup with ½ to 1 oz superfine sugar, and use any type of bourbon, rye whiskey, Irish whiskey or Canadian whiskey.

Pisco Sour

2 oz Pisco, a South American spirit made from grapes that is the national drink of both Chile and Peru

¾ oz fresh lime juice

½ oz simple syrup

the white of one egg*

4 drops Angostura bitters

 

Place ingredients to a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously 20 seconds. Then fill shaker halfway with ice and shake for an additional 20 seconds. Strain into a cocktail glass, add bitters and swirl with cocktail straw to create simple design atop the foam. Serve.

 

* Farm fresh eggs, certified Grade AA or pasteurized reduces salmonella risk. Wash the shell before breaking and take care to prevent contact between the exterior of the shell and the white.

The Ultimate Baller’s Vodka

How to Get Away With Charging $3K for Vodka

How to Get Away With Charging $3K for Vodka

What is it about vodka?

It’s the best-selling liquor in the U.S. by volume and the spirit of choice for everyone from Bloody Mary sipping brunchers to shot-downing bros. But here’s the thing: I never quite understood vodka’s appeal. Unlike whisky and rum, vodka isn’t finished in barrels to age and mellow and take on complexity. Botanicals aren’t added to impart flavor and character, like with gin. Vodka is referred to as a neutral spirit. Neutral meaning, without any distinctive color, aroma, character or taste.

Now I know what you’re thinking: Vodka has lots of flavor. It’s in apple martinis and cosmopolitans and sea breezes and kamikazes and sex on the beaches! Exactly. Vodka is the shape shifter of spirits. It’s the syrups, juices and mixers that are combined with vodka in these drinks that do all the heavy lifting in terms of flavor. The vodka provides the boozy buzz. Unless you’re doing shots, you’re probably not tasting vodka. And if you are doing shots, odds are you’re downing them ice cold. You get the alcohol burn and that heat at the finish, but not a ton of actual flavor. Which is also why we live in a world where cookie dough, pumpkin pie and whipped cream flavored vodka is allowed to exist, as brands attempt to distinguish themselves and appeal to potential customers by creating these Franken-vodkas designed to taste like anything but an alcoholic beverage.

The race to see which brand could produce the most flavors-nobody-asked-for vodkas on one side, gave rise to the ultra-premium market on the other. Ultra premium vodkas boast about how and how many times they’re distilled (34 times in the case of Purity Vodka), and what materials are used to filter it—why use pedestrian traditional charcoal when you can use diamonds, as does Crystal Head? Some brands, like Absolut Elyx tout their single-estate sourced grain. Clean, pure, and artisanal are the buzzwords associated with the ultra premiums. Add to those words—costly, pricey, expensive. Purity, Crystal Head and Absolut Elyx will set you back in the neighborhood of $50.

And then there’s elit by Stolichnaya, which bills itself as an ultra-luxury vodka.

Made from single-source grain? Check.

Filtered and purified via an elaborate system utilizing quartz sand, charcoal, gravity and freezing temperatures? Check

The result is a vodka that’s so silky you can sip it…at room temperature. It’s dangerously smooth. This is a vodka made to be savored unhurried, neat or with minimal accompaniment. At $60 a bottle it probably won’t become your go-to but it’s a good call when you want to step up your game for a night.

Following the release of elit, Stoli decided to go the ultra-luxury class a step further. Their elit Pristine Water Series vodka is crafted on the principle that the water used can have a huge impact on the resulting flavor. The company trumpets the fact that each of the three limited-edition varieties is made with waters sourced for its exceptional clarity and purity from such locales as the Himalayan mountains, the Blue Spring in New Zealand and Colico Lake in Chile.

The folks at Stoli claim that these different water sources produce noticeably different final products. My side-eye was set to maximum as I walked into the penthouse of New York’s NoMad Hotel recently for a tasting of the entire line. That was until I sampled each—the Himalayan, New Zealand and newly-released Andean editions—neat and at room temperature, and, well, I’ll be damned. The Himalayan had the faint aroma of orange and other citrus, with subtle floral notes. The taste was sweet, with none of the burn associated with vodka. The New Zealand was lighter, slightly sweeter, with hints of vanilla at the start and a soft peppery finish. The Andean edition smells faintly of lemon and verbena, with a feather light taste of honey and vanilla, and is the sweeter of the three.

All three expressions meant to be savored… slowly…while contemplating whether or not your husband Sam could have killed Lila and why your former sidepiece Nate won’t stay out of your business because at $3K a bottle you have to be an Annalise Keating-level baller to be sipping on this.

 

Have a go-to vodka? Let us know in the comments section.

Turn to the Dark Side

I spent the better part of the past weekend changing over my closet, which meant putting away the billowy light cottons, the lightweight linen and all my lovely, lovely sleeveless shifts and sundresses in favor of an array of sweaters that range from t-shirt weight to arctic.

It all got me to thinking: Time to change over the cooling cocktails of summer for some drinks meant to warm as well as refresh. That means giving in to the dark side—whiskies, bourbons, and cognacs—are the perfect accessory for sweater weather.

Now I can already see y’all screwing up your faces, talking about how dark spirits are bitter, or they taste like medicine or you just never liked them.

I’m saying, give them another chance, but this time start by trying a few cocktails that use dark spirits as the base, mixed with something a bit sweeter for balance. You may never reach Fitzgerald Grant-levels of downing glass after glass of straight whisky, and really, the way he does it is not a good look.

A good place to start down the dark road is with one of my all-time favorites, order one on your next night out this fall.

Sidecar

It’s not just because of its beautiful golden color and perfect balance of sweet (Cointreau), tart citrus (lemon juice) and the deep and strong (brandy), that makes this cocktail a favorite.  It’s because it’s a bit of a shape shifter. It goes down cold and refreshing but just give it a second and you’ll be rewarded with a gentle but insistent wave of warmth rising from your breast bone and back up towards your chin. It’s like your own secret summer on a cold night. Bonus: it’s served in a martini glass so it looks stylin’.

This classic, which was born during Prohibition is easy enough to make at home. I favor cocktail historian Dave Wondrich’s recipe:

¾ ounce Cointreau

¾ ounce lemon juice

1 ½ ounce cognac

Place in cocktail shaker with cracked ice. Shake well, then strain into a chilled cocktail (martini) glass that has had its outside rim rubbed with lemon juice and dipped in sugar.

 

Pretty and delicious

Pretty and delicious