Category Archives: gin

Uncle Val’s Peppered Gin

uncle vals peppered gin

As a refresher for those who’re new to this blog, gin was really the liquor that eased me in to quality, classic cocktails. My first year of blogging took me from a time when I’d tasted 1-2 gins to tasting dozens.

I’ve also realized that like any liquor, there is a massive variety of flavor possibilities and I prefer some gins over others. At this point, though, I’m realizing that flavored gin is not so common. Seagram’s has a variety of gin flavors, sure, but up until now, the only flavored gin I’ve tried is Tanqueray Rangpur.

Lisa and I tasted Uncle Val’s Peppered Gin for the first time on this week’s podcast episode. One thing’s for sure: this is a unique gin. The specific ingredients in Uncle Val’s Peppered are red pepper, black pepper, and pimento. The pepper is not present at all in the nose at all, but your throat gets fills with a peppery hotness when you swallow. So much, in fact, that it’s a little alarming.

We wondered if maybe a Red Snapper (a gin Bloody Mary) or a Gin and Tonic would be good fit for this gin, and it turns out that it is. I made a G&T (shown above) and it was quite good: sweet, peppery, and herbal in it’s flavor – a good fit. I imagine a Red Snapper will be equally great.

I REALLY like black pepper, as you may have seen in some of my breakfast instagrams, and I really like gin too, but this is a new flavor profile for me. It smells like a soft citrusy gin and tastes like a lot of pepper. Because of that, your Snappers and G&Ts will welcome the change of pace, but your Martinis may be a little too rough-tasting with this specific gin.


Our Stanley Cocktail

our stanley cocktail

My first homemade cocktail was a Borodino, which is a 1:1:1 variation of the drink pictured here. If you’ve ever visited our Buyers Guide section, you’ve seen that the first 4 bottles of liquor I recommend that you buy are vodka, gin, triple sec, and dry vermouth. This cocktail uses 3 of those 4.

The cool thing about this particular cocktail is that subtle adjustments to the brands you use, particularly in the gin and triple sec, will make a big difference in the flavor of this drink. For instance, a barrel-aged gin, or Cointreau instead of a simple triple sec will give you all sorts of flavors to play with.  Also there’s no garnish, so if you’re still growing your home bar this should be a cinch to make.

In this case of my cocktail, I decided to use Brothers Old Tom Gin, a local Albuquerque gin from Left Turn Distilling, a gin that’s a touch sweet with heavy citrus. Here’s how to make Our Stanley:

Our Stanley


Jewel Cocktail

jewel cocktail

Recently, I’ve been finding a lot of good cocktail recipes in Old Mr. Boston’s Bartenders Guide. I’m usually able to find simple recipes with pretty classic ingredients in it. By classic I’m really referring to the presence of bitters, which are an essential element of a home bar and one of the key components of a cocktail.

If you’ve picked up many cocktail books, I may have noticed what I have. There are two types: the classic cocktail books (even if they’ve been published recently) in which many recipes have bitters, or the more modern (for lack of a better word) books, like one from my collection: The Complete Bartender. There are zero recipes with bitters in that book – it’s lots of vodka-and-juice cocktails, aka 1990’s cocktails (which is not a good thing, believe me).

Back to Mr. Boston, though. I found a fun recipe with gin, Chartreuse and sweet vermouth that has a really great flavor profile and looks really cool if you perch the cherry garnish right on the edge like I did:

Jewel Cocktail

  • in a mixing glass, combine:
  • 3/4 oz green Chartreuse
  • 3/4 oz sweet vermouth
  • 3/4 oz gin
  • 1 dash of orange bitters
  • stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass
  • garnish with a cherry

We’ve made the Jewel on the Simple Cocktails Podcast, too. Listen here.


Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye

double standard sour catocin creek

Catoctin Creek is a relatively new distillery in the United States, founded in 2009 in Virginia and distilling mostly rye whiskey, gin, and brandy. Their portfolio perked up my attention and I got a bottle of their 92-proof Roundstone Rye, the middle product in their rye lineup, and one that will run you just over $50 a bottle.

For a 6-year old distillery, their whiskeys are going to be aged for that amount of time or less. Roundstone spells it out on the bottle: “Aged 5 years or less.” For a whiskey that’s traditionally pretty spicy and dry, a younger rye takes on a surprising candy sweetness in the taste that sets it apart from many other ryes I’ve tasted. In fact, the only other whiskey I can compare Roundstone Rye to is also young, spicy, sweet and brash: Jack Daniel’s Unaged Rye.

In honor of Catoctin’s rye and gin lineup, I chose a cocktail from Old Mr. Boston’s Bartenders Guide – a handy midsized cocktail book with some great recipes. Pairing gin and whiskey into one drink, here’s the Double Standard Sour:

Double Standard Sour

  • in a cocktail shaker, combine:
  • 3/4 oz lemon juice
  • 3/4 oz whiskey
  • 3/4 oz gin
  • 1/2 teaspoon grenadine
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • shake well with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass
  • garnish with a lemon wedge and cherry


Casino Cocktail

casino cocktail

Sometimes for Christmas, I whip up a cocktail that’s uniquely designed for that holiday – like when I put a red bow on one, or when I smashed up candy canes to rim a drink [video link].

Other times, though, the simplicity of a classic cocktail stands as a perfectly suitable Christmas gift, so that’s what I’ve settled on this Christmas: a ghostly white drink with an electric red cherry to garnish. Merry Christmas!

Casino Cocktail

  • in a shaker, combine:
  • 2 oz gin
  • 3/4 oz lemon juice 
  • 1/2 oz maraschino liqueur
  • dash of orange bitters
  • shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass
  • garnish with a cherry

We made the Casino on the Simple Cocktails Podcast, too. Listen here.

G’Vine Nouaison

gvine nouaison

This summer, I tried G’Vine gin for the first time. What I didn’t really realize at the time was there are two varieties of G’Vine: Flouraison and Nouaison. Flouraison, as I described in my previous post, is a mild, soft gin with quite a bit of sweetness and traces of minty licorice.

Nouaison, I’ve discovered, is more akin to a London Dry as it’s a spicier bitier gin with cinnamon and clove. Nouaison is more in line with my personal preference in gins, as I tend to prefer London Drys to many of the milder gins.

In cocktails, Nouaison has a very different character than it’s more herbal brother, and I can see why G’Vine told me that they consider Flouraison a warm-weather gin and Nouaison a cold-weather gin. This would be a great gin in a hot toddy or a tea as the spice profile is a perfect fit.

Somewhere on the list of my favorite gins, Nouaison has elbowed it’s way in. This is a unique winter gin, and reminds me of Big Gin a little bit because of it’s flavor profile. Nouaison is definitely one to try if you like your gins spicy with a bite.

Last Word Cocktail

last word cocktailThe Last Word has become a bit of a legendary cocktail for the craft cocktail movement. Simple enough to make and simple 1:1:1:1 recipe proportions, half of its ingredients are unusual to the point that only a craft cocktail bar would be likely to have both of them (Maraschino and Chartreuse).

This cocktail has some great balance, with herbal flavors mixing with sweetness and citrus in a way that you rarely taste. Try one out yourself (if you have the 4 ingredients)!

Last Word

  • in a shaker, combine:
  • 1/2 oz gin
  • 1/2 oz green Chartreuse
  • 1/2 oz Maraschino liqueur
  • 1/2 oz lime juice
  • shake with ice and strain into a small, chilled cocktail glass.


Kris Von Dopek’s favorite Simple Cocktail

Kris Von Dopek

Recently, I had the chance to sit down with Hendrick’s Gin Brand Ambassador Kris Von Dopek to talk about his role at Hendrick’s, and craft cocktails at home.

Kris, who’s from Chicago but grew up in London, has professionally bartended for over a decade. We spent our time together talking about home bartending, though. He said “In the 60’s everybody had a cocktail set at home and you made a Martini for your guests when they came over. The 70’s kind of killed the cocktail.”

We also talked about the outlook for home bartenders now that craft cocktails have really taken off. Kris told me “You know, companies (Hendrick’s included) are now spending a lot more time and money to educate consumers directly. From social media campaigns to cocktails on cooking shows, people have more information now and they can make better choices about the cocktails they make at home. ”

I asked Kris what his favorite simple cocktail is, and he told me a White Martinez. The Martinez is believed to be the cocktail that led to the Martini’s invention, so it’s certainly a recipe to know. Here it is:

white martinez with hendricks

White Martinez

  • 1 oz Hendrick’s Gin
  • 2 oz sweet white vermouth (I used Dolin Blanc)
  • 1 dash of bitters (I used orange bitters so it wouldn’t affect the color)
  • 2 dashes of maraschino liqueur (I used Maraska)
  • stir the ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass
  • garnish with a lemon peel

We make a White Martinez on the Simple Cocktails Podcast. Listen here.

photo of Kris Von Dopek courtesy Jill Tiongco Photography

Gin and Milk

gin and milk cocktail


I’ve had the book Old Man Drinks for over a year, and it took me this long to get up the nerve to make one the the signature cocktails in that book: Gin and Milk.

Being a simple cocktail, Gin and Milk is totally qualified to be a featured recipe on this blog, but frankly, I’m not much of a milk guy. I don’t even drink my cereal milk after my bowl is through – I just dump it down the sink.

Being a gin lover, though, this cocktail interested me. It seems like it’d really work as we approach fall and winter, the nutmeg on top is a great addition to the flavor, but I’ll just tell you: it tastes like a moderately boozy glass of cold milk. But that’s ok, right?

Gin and Milk (from Old Man Drinks)

  • in a shaker, combine:
  • 2 oz gin
  • 1 cup milk
  • fill with ice and shake until very cold
  • pour into a chilled Collins glass
  • top with a shake of nutmeg

Kingston Cocktail

kingston cocktail

The Kingston is a bit of a clash between styles – it’s both tropical and royal in one sip. Mostly a rum-based drink, the Kingston is jazzed up with a bit of gin, which adds some flavor, which works pretty well. It certainly drys out a drink that would be pretty sweet based on ingredients alone. Try out the Kingston and let me know what you think:


  • combine the following in a shaker:
  • 1 1/2 oz Jamaican rum (author Stuart Walton says, “it would be inappropriate to use rum for any other location.”)
  • 3/4 oz gin
  • juice of half a lime (which is about 1/2-3/4 oz)
  • 1/4 oz grenadine (I used Jack Rudy)
  • fill with ice and shake well
  • strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a lime wedge