Author Archives: Greg

Martini & Rossi Riserva Speciale Vermouth

Martini & Rossi Riserva Speciale

Martini & Rossi is one of the staple names – maybe THE name – in vermouth to most people. It can be found in grocery stores, liquor stores and everywhere in between and is therefore the most likely vermouth you have tried.

I’ve covered at length the proper care vermouth must receive to stay flavorful. In fact, I opened a bottle myself recently to find it only lasted a week or so in the fridge before turning sour. I have also said something here at this very blog that I still stand by: pricier vermouth tastes a lot better than the cheap stuff.

That said, Martini & Rossi has given us a widely-distributed vermouth “upgrade” that’s a pretty smart choice to make if you’re having a night of Martinis or Manhattans. Usually, a bottle of “Martini” will run you about $10, and the Riserva Speciale is about $15-20.

For me, a chilled white vermouth is my favorite to sip with fish, and I’m happy to say that Riserva Ambrato is an excellent vermouth for just this. Serve on the rocks with a lemon peel. It has slightly bitter and dry notes of rosemary and herbs.

Riserva Rubino, the red vermouth in this brand, is great with richer flavors of meat or even my favorite pairing choice: cigars.

If it’s hard to imagine a bottle of vermouth being delicious enough to drink straight, pick up a bottle of Martini Riserva Speciale, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Father’s Day Gift Ideas 2019

fathers day gifts

Depending on your dad, Father’s Day gift-giving can be a lot of fun or a chore. For me, some tasty whiskey and cigars is about my favorite way to celebrate. If you are still looking for ideas, though, I have a few that might earn you the “favorite kid” title this year. Try these gifts out!

Door58 Decanter Set. $79.99

Packaged in a handsome wooden gift box, this decanter set is 100% crystal, not cheapie glass (note there are no seams in the tumblers or decanter). Styled in a sharp art-deco-inspired design, the decanter will hold a whole bottle of whiskey, and the wide, hefty tumblers feel great in the hand. Door58 has generously offered a discount for our readers (until June 15, 2019) of 20% off this set! Just follow the link about and enter the code 20DADBLOG at checkout.

Powers Three Swallow Irish Whiskey. $40

For those of you who haven’t experienced much Irish whiskey, you’re missing out. The sweet notes of bourbon and the richness of Scotch make Irish a taste all of its own. This is a fairly new expression of Powers that’s only been available in the US for a few months, so if you see some, pick up a bottle for dad.

Speyburn 10 (gift set). $30

To me, Speyburn is one of the best buys in single malt scotch. Often $30 and sometimes as low as $20, it’s an easy brand to keep around. In this case, my bottle of Speyburn came boxed with a bottle of “Source” – Scottish water designed to accompany Highland whiskys like this one. You serve your Speyburn neat, and give it a small dash of Source. A fun idea and perfectly affordable.

Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva Rum. $45

If dad wants to venture out into aged rums, then a nice one like Diplomatico is the way to go. With both tropical and woody notes, aged rums sometimes match the terrior of cigars, for instance, or even coffee. If dad like stogies or adds a splash of liquor to his coffee, have him try Diplomatico.

 

Enjoy your Father’s Day this year! Cheers!

Hunny Peach (feat. RumChata)

hunny peach cocktail

I’ve had the pleasure of working with RumChata for the past few years and have had the opportunity to experiment at great lengths with their versatile cinnamon cream liqueur. So far, I’ve run into very few limitations for RumChata in cocktails. Initially, I began with riffs on the White Russian, or the other standard cream liqueur drinks, like a splash in coffee or cocoa.

What has surprised me, though, is how RumChata works with other liquors, like gin, applejack or whiskey. In fact, I’ll go as far to say that cocktails with RumChata and whiskey are some of my favorites. Here’s a new cocktail I created called the Hunny Peach:

Hunny Peach (feat. RumChata) by Greg Mays

  • in a shaker, combine:
  • 2 oz RumChata
  • 2 oz Jack Daniels Honey
  • shake vigorously with ice
  • strain into an Old Fashioned glass filled with ice
  • top with 2 dashes of the Bitter Truth Peach Bitters
Thanks to our sponsor RumChata.

The Sexton Single Malt Irish Whiskey

the sexton irish whiskey

In the past few months, you may have noticed a new Irish whiskey on the shelves: The Sexton Single Malt. Introduced in early 2019 to the North American market, The Sexton comes in a stunning near-black hexagonal bottle with a dapper skeleton insignia. More attractive than that may be The Sexton’s price, though, at only $25 per bottle.

Made from 100% malted Irish barley and distilled in copper pots, The Sexton is aged 4 years in sherry casks. Often, Irish whiskey has a sweeter profile than the neighboring whisky from Scotland, but in this particular case The Sexton offers a surprising and slightly unfamiliar profile: spices and anise. So while there is a familiar Irish-ness in the initial sip of The Sexton, the back of the palate feels the warmth from the anise, while the tip of your tongue tingles from other spices as well.

Any time an “imported” whiskey is available at a decent age (remember this is 4 years old), and with a good price point, it’s a no-brainer to pick up a bottle to try. The Sexton can be used in cocktails where Rye is normally called for, which should add an interesting twist and character. At a relatively tame 40% ABV, I prefer sipping The Sexton neat or in an Old Fashioned, and often enjoy it with a cigar.

RumChata Soda

RumChata Soda

Did you know that combining a shaken cocktail with club soda can give you a “foamy” consistency to a tall drink? That’s exactly what I had in mind as I made this cocktail with RumChata and as warmer weather is on the horizon.

This tall cocktail, in fact, is really a template for a delicious creamy drink, and nearly every part can be interchanged with other ingredients to create a unique RumChata soda that fits your tastes. Don’t like chocolate syrup? Replace with caramel! There are lots of great options here.

Here’s the recipe for this simple, tasty soda fountain drink:

RumChata Soda

  • in a cocktail shaker, add:
  • 1 1/2 oz RumChata
  • 1/2 oz chocolate syrup
  • 1 oz vodka
  • shake vigorously with ice
  • in an ice-filled collins glass, fill about 1/3 with club soda
  • strain the cocktail into the glass
  • fill the remaining space with club soda, which should foam up nicely
  • garnish with an orange twist and serve with a straw!
Thanks to our sponsor RumChata.

Spiced Chata

spice-chata downsized

Every time Fall and Winter arrive, my RumChata bottles go quick. From adding a shot to coffee or hot cocoa to making some great rum or whiskey based cocktails with it, the cinnamon and horchata flavors make it easy to create a great cold-weather drink.

With that in mind, I decided to make a drink that’s got an easy mixing ratio (2:1:1) and is perfect for sipping by the fire! Here’s the Spiced Chata cocktail:

Spiced Chata (by Greg Mays)

  • in a shaker, combine:
  • 2 oz amber rum
  • 1 oz RumChata
  • 1 oz spiced liqueur (I used Jägermeister Spice)
  • shake with ice and strain into an old fashioned glass with ice cubes
  • garnish with an apple slice

Alternatively, you can serve “up” in a chilled cocktail glass with no ice. Enjoy this Fall cocktail from our sponsor RumChata!

Walk the Line: Maker’s Mark

walk the line makers mark

Walk the Line is a series we do at Simple Cocktails where we take all the various bottlings from one brand, then differentiate them all. Today we explore a small brand with a huge name in the whiskey space. Actually I need to correct that to whisky as the Samuels family has tapped their Scottish heritage to name Maker’s without the traditional American “e” on the bottle, setting them part even more in the bourbon space.

Starting production in 1954, Maker’s is a relatively “new” brand of bourbon. It’s currently owned by Beam-Suntory and packaged in distinctive, trademarked),dripping-red-wax bottles. Here’s the line that’s available from Marker’s now:

Maker’s Mark ($30). The core brand of the line, Maker’s contains a higher amount of wheat in its ingredients, which makes for a sweeter, smooth sipping whiskey. It’s sold at 45% ABV.

Maker’s Mark Cask Strength ($50). Using a bottle with a similar shape as the core whisky, Cask Strength is exactly what it sounds like: Maker’s at the strength it comes out of the barrel. Introduced in 2014, it’s similarly sweet, though a tad spicier than the core Maker’s. This one packs a punch at 56.6% ABV.

Maker’s 46 ($30). 46 starts as Maker’s, but is put through a special aging process in which additional charred wood staves are inserted into its casks as it ages. This produces a bourbon that’s spicer than Maker’s. It’s different enough that Fred Minnick, in his book “Bourbon Curious,” separates it from the “caramel-forward” Maker’s Mark and Cask Strength and moves Maker’s 46 into his “cinnamon-forward” bourbon category. Maker’s 46 was introduced in 2010.

Angel Wings featuring RumChata

angel wings cocktail

I love challenging myself to come up with creative new ways to mix RumChata, and the cinnamon-and-cream deliciousness always mixes very well with other items in the bar.

Because Fall is coming soon, I’ve begun thinking about seasonal flavors I can mix with RumChata, and decided on a spiced concoction that turned out really beautiful and really tasty. I’ve named it the Angel Wings because of the deceptively pink-ness of the drink, which is surprisingly strong. Here’s how to make it:

Angel Wings (by Greg Mays)

  • in a cocktail shaker, combine:
  • 1 oz RumChata
  • 2 oz reposado tequila
  • 1/2 oz herbal liqueur (like Jägermeister)
  • 1/4 oz Grenadine
  • shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass
  • garnish with cherries

The spice and the tequila balance very well with the spices in RumChata and make for a bright, flavorful and tasty cocktail.

Special thanks to our sponsor RumChata.

RumChata Coffee Shake

rumchata coffee shake

RumChata’s a great liquor to splash in your coffee or hot chocolate, but don’t forget that it can also be enjoyed as part of an iced-coffee cocktail during the summer. I applied a little creativity on this recipe and came up with a delicious and refreshing drink. It’s really simple to make and RumChata’s cream-and-cinnamon flavor is at the forefront. Try this one out:

RumChata Coffee Shake (by Greg Mays)

  • in a cocktail shaker, combine:
  • 1 oz RumChata
  • 1 oz coffee syrup (I used Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 1/2 ounce white rum
  • 2 dashes of whiskey barrel aged bitters
  • shake with ice and strain into an ice-filled old fashioned glass
  • garnish with cherries or an orange slice

Special thanks to our sponsor RumChata.

MintChata

luckychata cocktail

I feel like with every RumChata cocktail I make here at Simple Cocktails, it becomes a challenge to be more creative and more interesting with the next recipe. Now that we’re on the brink of Spring, my focus has drifted to my mint plants, which are just starting to show signs of life.

So how to incorporate mint into a cinnamon-rum-and-cream liqueur like RumChata? It turns out RumChata was actually the perfect binding ingredient to the other two I chose to use in this cocktail: apple whiskey and creme de menthe! Here’s how I made it:

MintChata (by Greg Mays)

  • in a shaker, combine:
  • 1 oz RumChata
  • 1 1/2 oz apple whiskey (I used Tullamore Dew Cider Cask)
  • 1/4 oz creme de menthe (I used a natural one called Embassy Row)
  • shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass
  • garnish with a mint sprig

The result is a light, fragrant and fun cocktail with a great deal of familiar flavors that is absolutely delicious.

Special thanks to our sponsor RumChata.