Black Martini

black martini

Last year, I made a Harry Potter-themed cocktail for Halloween: the Devil’s Snare. For several years, though, I’ve meant to make a Black Martini for Halloween, and now that I have a bottle of Sambuca, I can.

This is a two-ingredient cocktail that’s perfect for Halloween, though I will say, that if you’re not a black licorice fan, remember that Black Sambuca has a strong anise flavor, so if that’s not your cup of tea, maybe revert to last year’s cocktail.

Before you begin, you need to get a little messy. Make a small amount of Halloween sugar by adding some dashes of Angostura bitters to regular sugar.

halloween bitter sugar

Then wet your finger slightly with Sambuca (which is very sticky) and run that around the rim of the glass, then sprinkle the sugar on it. Let the glass sit while you make the drink:

Black Martini

  • in a mixing glass, combine:
  • 2 oz vodka
  • 1 oz black Sambuca
  • stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass rimmed with “Halloween” sugar

Enjoy…and happy Halloween!

Cocktails with Ciroc Coconut and Peach

ciroc peach and coconut cocktails

Like I said in a post earlier this week, Ciroc’s flavors really caught me off guard. I was a pleasantly surprised that they weren’t sweetened (flavored vodkas almost always are). Since I liked them so much, I’ve been dreaming up some cocktails to use these Ciroc flavors with and so I’ve been digging around in recipe books for cocktails that would go well with flavored vodka. Here are some recipes I really liked with Ciroc Coconut and Ciroc Peach (pictured left to right):

Ciroc Coco Creme (by Greg Mays)

  • in a shaker, combine:
  • 1 1/2 oz Ciroc Coconut
  • 3 oz coconut water
  • 1/2 oz simple syrup
  • 1/2 oz half and half
  • shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass

*frozen blueberries are jucier when they thaw and squish up in the shaker better than fresh ones.

Our Stanley (from the Bartender’s Bible)

  • in a mixing glass or pint glass, combine:
  • 1 1/2 oz Ciroc Peach (the original recipe calls for regular vodka)
  • 1/2 oz gin
  • 1/2 oz triple sec (orange liqueur)
  • stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass

Remember, you can get a free cocktail PDF book by registering for our email newsletter here.

 

Simple Cocktails Podcast Episode 17

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Naming things like the French. Scotland’s independence…we know nothing. A Simple Cocktails brand name? A new show idea for Oprah and Gail. We taste Mahon Gin, which is seasoned with lifestyle.  We make Lisas’s favorite drink-of-the-moment, an Amaretto Sour. “If we were cavemen, we’d have to lick this.”

Download Episode 17.

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If you enjoyed the show, please write a brief review on iTunes. That would help us get the word out and raise the visibility of the show. Thank you!

Cocktails with Ciroc Pineapple

cocktails with ciroc pineapple

I confess to being totally alarmed at how much I liked some of the the Ciroc vodka flavors on a recent podcast episode, and again in my review. Since that initial tasting, I’ve been dreaming up with some recipes that I think will taste great with these Ciroc flavors. Here are 2 recipes — one that I came up with and one from a recipe book – to try with Ciroc Pineapple (pictured left to right):

Purpina (by Greg Mays)

  • in a shaker, combine:
  • 2 oz Ciroc Pineapple
  • 1/2 oz fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 oz simple syrup
  • about 20 thawed, frozen blueberries*
  • shake vigorously with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass
  • garnish with a lime wedge

*frozen blueberries are jucier when they thaw and squish up in the shaker better than fresh ones.

Firefly (from the Bartender’s Bible)

  • in a highball glass full of ice, add:
  • 2 oz Ciroc Pineapple (the original recipe calls for regular vodka)
  • 4 oz fresh grapefruit juice
  • drizzle 1 tsp of grenadine over the top
  • do not stir
  • serve with a straw

Remember, you can get a free cocktail PDF book by registering for our email newsletter here.

 

Aperol Spritz

aperol spritz

I’ve been meaning to make this cocktail for quite some time, but because I’m a cocktail/liquor guy and not a wine guy, I don’t have as much access to Prosecco, an essential ingredient to the Spritz.

Prosecco is a popular Italian sparkling white wine, and I got a hold of a bottle of Mionetto Prosecco DOC recently (which runs about $15/bottle), and I made an Aperol Spritz right away. The Spritz is a refreshing, yet dry (not too sweet) fizzy cocktail. Here’s how you make it.

Aperol Spritz

  • in a balloon glass filled with ice, add in this order:
  • 4 oz Prosecco DOC
  • a splash of club soda (probably about 1/2 oz)
  • 2 oz Aperol

Because 2 of the 3 ingredients are bubbling, the cocktail basically stirs itself. Enjoy!

Simple Cocktails Podcast Episode 16

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How to make cocktails for people who don’t know what they want. “Are you a vegan? Are you an Episcopalian?” Greg name drops canon…again. The cotton-candy-to-wood-scale is established (remember this day)! A horchata liqueur shootout featuring RumChata and Chila ‘Orchata. Limp candy canes. Greg attempts an emergency bottle sabering for the first time because he forgot the corkscrew (here’s a photo of the result). We make an Aperol Spritz.

Download Episode 16.

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If you enjoyed the show, please write a brief review on iTunes. That would help us get the word out and raise the visibility of the show. Thank you!

Chila Orchata

chila orchata

There’s no denying the RumChata has been a big hit in liquor stores over the last 2 years, particularly around the holidays. It’s no surprise then that a major liquor company – in this case, Sazerac – would enter the fray with their own Horchata liqueur.

Chila ‘Orchata is familiar, then: rum, cream, and cinnamon and spice, at a $20 price point, and at 14% alcohol. We decided to taste Chila side-by-side with RumChata, since those are likely to be side-by-side on your liquor store’s shelf.

We really like both these Horchata liqueurs. The rum in the Chila ‘Orchata stands out just a tad more, and makes it taste marginally spicier as a result. Going back to RumChata, it was a touch milkier, but to be really frank, they’re nearly identical, and they both taste very good, even drunk by themselves on ice. Take from this what you will, but of the group of us that tasted it, the guys leaned toward Chila ‘Orchata, and the gals favored RumChata a little more.

I made a tasty winter cocktail with Chila ‘Orchata. Try this one out:

It’s Chila Outside (by Greg Mays)

  • in a shaker combine:
  • 1 1/4 oz Chila ‘Orchata
  • 1 1/4 oz vanilla vodka (I used Smirnoff)
  • 2 dashes of Aztec Chocolate Bitters
  • shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass

Simple Cocktails Podcast Episode 15

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Greg’s favorite blog post ever. “I will teach you how to make cocktails if you promise to make them.” Drinking to get drunk is like….McDonalds. We taste black and white Sambuca and somehow undo all our preaching early in the episode. “My lips are going numb.” Greg mocks Lisa unfairly. How much does 1/4 of an ounce look like? We make a Captain’s Blood and don’t like it.

Greg mentions his Devil’s Snare cocktail in this episode.

Download Episode 15.

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If you enjoyed the show, please write a brief review on iTunes. That would help us get the word out and raise the visibility of the show. Thank you!

Amaretto Sour

amaretto sour

One of the first bottles I ever bought when I started Simple Cocktails was amaretto, an almond liqueur. I made a few drinks with it, then it collected dust in the back of my liquor cabinet for months. When the bottle ran out, I never thought of it again.

Recently, I was trying to figure out a good cocktail for dessert time, and Lisa (my wife and podcast co-host) recommended Amaretto Sours, a drink I haven’t made in at least 3 years. I grabbed some amaretto, some lemons, and the Amaretto Sours were the hit of the party! I’ve since almost finished the bottle making them for Lisa and others at the home bar. Here’s the recipe:

Amaretto Sour

  • fill an old fashioned glass with ice and set a cherry on top, then set that glass aside
  • in a shaker, add:
  • 2 oz amaretto
  • 1 oz lemon juice
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 egg white
  • dry shake the mixture (don’t add ice) vigorously
  • add ice and shake again to cool
  • strain into the old fashioned glass that you’re prepped

A quick note about egg whites. There is a tiny risk of salmonella from raw eggs (about 1 in 20,000 may have it), but alcohol kills germs, right? Plus I’ve had several of these in the last few weeks and have yet to contract salmonella.  Adding some nice fresh, local eggs will add a richness to cocktails that’s pretty amazing, and it’s getting popular again to add them to Sours.

Ciroc Flavored Vodka

ciroc flavored vodkas

Ciroc is one of those infamous liquors – a “premium” spirit with star as a spokesperson. In this case, it’s Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, and as a matter of fact, he announced Ciroc’s newest flavor, pineapple (pictured above) on his Instagram profile.

There are paragraphs I could write about marketing, the use of spokespeople (particularly in liquor), and all that, but I’m no industry pundit. I’m just your average home bartender and booze writer, so I’m going to skip all that fluff if you don’t mind?

Ciroc’s portfolio includes 6 total types of the distilled-from-grapes vodka, in our tasting, we didn’t try the regular Ciroc or Amaretto, we stuck with 4 fruity flavors in the photo above. Flavored vodka often uses a bit of sugar to enhance its taste, which drops the alcohol level about 10% as well. In Ciroc’s case, all of the flavors fall at 35% alcohol. I poured lots of little tasting cups of these Ciroc flavors, and as the vodka dribbled on my hands, I waited for the sticky.

It never came.

That’s right, these are not sweetened vodkas, and I was pretty surprised at that. Every one of them is pretty subtly flavored, but overall, tastes like a nice vodka with a splash of not-sweet flavor.

As far as the flavors are concerned, four of us tasted them together. The favorite flavor was either Coconut (my favorite), Pineapple, or Peach, depending on the person. Unfortunately, Red Berry was universally panned as everyone’s least favorite for tasting like “artificial candy flavor” and “cough medicine.” Of the three that we liked, opinions varied about which flavor was the most natural tasting, though pretty much everyone agreed that these flavors not only tasted good on their own, but we were tempted to mix them together, too. 1/3 Coconut, 1/3 Pineapple, and 1/3 Coconut water would make an awesome, clean-tasting, simple cocktail for sure.

At $30 each, these are good flavored vodkas without the goofiness of the dying flavored vodka trend. These would actually make awesome subtle twists to some classic cocktail recipes. Coconut in a Cosmopolitan, maybe a Peach Moscow Mule, would be a fun twist using tasty vodka.

To hear us taste Ciroc flavors, listen to the most recent episode of the Simple Cocktails Podcast.