Category Archives: recipes

Coolchata Cocktail

rumchata coolchata

We’re no strangers to RumChata here at Simple Cocktails. It’s been my liqueur of choice for Christmas gifts, and here in the Southwest U.S., it’s a very hot seller on a regular basis. Here at Simple Cocktails, I was introduced to the product almost 5 years ago, when I made a Chata Café Cream.

While the RumChata really starts flowing in my house once Fall arrives, I’ve started to think about ways to use this horchata-rum-cream liqueur all year around, and the first time I’ve tried was a huge hit at our home cocktail parties: a fruit-salad-in-a-glass of sorts, a Tiki-friendly drink with a light green hue: the Coolchata.

Coolchata (by Greg Mays)

  • In a cocktail shaker, combine:
  • 1 ½ oz of RumChata
  • ½ oz banana liqueur (crème de banane)
  • ½ oz melon liqueur (like Midori)
  • 1 oz vodka
  • Add ice and shake until very cold
  • Strain into a chilled cocktail glass
  • Garnish with cherries

Special thanks to our sponsor RumChata.

Gin Rickey

gin rickey

As a “cocktail guy,” I sometimes get asked about the simple cocktail I make most often, and when I really think about it, it’s not even close. While I make myself Old Fashioneds and Manhattans and Martinis pretty often, by far, the drink I make the most is a Gin Rickey.

A “rickey” cocktail is a mixture of spirit, lime juice and club soda, and you can make it any way you like: Whiskey Rickey, Rum Rickey (a very nice variation), etc. It apparently was a “worldwide sensation” in the late 1800’s when it was made with gin. There was probably some sort of connection to scurvy, too, the big reason gin and citrus started to mix so often in cocktail history books.

I started drinking Gin Rickeys because I found store-bought tonic water to be to sweet for my tastes, but still wanted a gin-and-fizzy-stuff experience. If you look at the ingredients, you’ll see there is no sweetener in this cocktail, only spirit, citrus, club soda. To me it’s crisp, refreshing, dry and the easiest to make. It remains the #1 cocktail I make for myself at home.

Gin Rickey

  • in a double old fashioned glass filled with ice, add:
  • 2 ounces gin (I used Seersucker)
  • juice from 1/2 a lime
  • top with Q Club Soda (about 4-5 oz)
  • stir briefly and garnish with a lime wedge

Special thanks to our sponsor Q Drinks.

Cuba Libre

cuba libre with q drinks kola

When I started Simple Cocktails, I noticed that usually, the classic cocktails are the simplest. A balanced drink is often an issue of a bit of trial and error, too, to get the ratio of liquor and mixer just right.

I’m excited to have Q Drinks on board for this drink in particular, because I feel like soda’s become more and more sweet these days from it’s original makeup, which was a bit spicy balanced with sweet, with notes of clove, cinnamon and vanilla. Q Drink’s Kola is just that, though, a less-sweet traditional cola that makes a killer cocktail mixer because it allows you to make a balanced cocktail, and mixing Kola with rum, which also has some great caramel and cinnamon notes, is a match made in heaven.

This is a cocktail that’s pretty well-known, a slightly jazzed up Rum and Coke really. Just add a touch of lime juice and lots of limes for garnish, and you have the Cuba Libre cocktail:

Cube Libre

  • in a double old fashioned glass filled with ice, add:
  • 2 ounces aged rum (I used Havana Club)
  • 1/4 oz lime juice
  • top with Q Kola or your cola of choice (about 4-5 oz)
  • stir briefly and garnish with several thin lime wedges

Special thanks to our sponsor Q Drinks.

Sparkling Paloma

q drinks sparkling paloma

I’ve been excited to crack into my stock of Q Drinks products since they recently became a Simple Cocktails sponsor, and one of the first drinks I’ve made is a twist on the classic tequila-and-grapefruit cocktail, the Paloma. Here’s a simple cocktail with Q Grapefruit:

Sparkling Paloma

  • in a Collins glass filled with ice, add:
  • 2 ounces tequila
  • 6 oz Q Grapefruit
  • juice of a half a lime
  • stir and serve with a straw
  • optional salt rim

Special thanks to our sponsor Q Drinks.

Suntory Toki

suntory toki

Suntory is a legendary Japanese distillery, one of only a handful of whisky makers in that country. They have become famous for quality, well-crafted single malts in the tradition of scotch whisky. Their fame is so solid, in fact, that they were able to purchase Jim Beam in 2014.

This summer, Suntory introduced and affordable whisky blend that’s designed for cocktails. Toki is comprised of 2 Suntory single malt “pillars”: Hakushu (light and fresh) and Chita (heavy grain). These two combine for a flavor that’s malty, crisp, light and sweet with a mild spice finish.

At $40 per bottle and 43% ABV, Toki is a light sipper for the warm months, and goes well neat or on the rocks. It’s malty character is reminiscent to me of Dutch Genever and barley-based Shochu. It pairs well with milder, lighter cigars, sipped neat.

While Toki can be mixed in cocktails any way you choose, Suntory has a specific “ceremony” they recommend for making the Toki Highball (pictured above):

“To begin a highball recipe, fill the glass to the brim with ice. Add one measure of whisky. Stir to cool the whisky and glass. Again add ice to the brim. Pour three measures of chilled sparkling water along the side of the glass to avoid melting the ice or bursting the bubbles. Add a twist of lemon. Enjoy.”

As a cocktail, the Toki Highball is subtle, malty, refreshing and easy to make, and at $40, Toki may serve to be an introductory Japanese whisky if you’re unfamiliar with the category.

Dry Line Gin

dry line gin

Dry Line’s Cape Cod Gin is made by the same distillers of Twenty Boat Spiced Rum, a “Cape Cod rum” that we scoffed at on the podcast….until we tasted it. I’m happy to say that Dry Line lives up to that same, good reputation.

We got to try “batch 1” of Dry Line and it has many of the tasting notes I love in a gin (I prefer bitey London Drys): a solid clove/spice tasting note, together with what I can best describe as hot mustard-like: a unique sweet/spice note. Dry Line is distilled from cane sugar, not neutral grain, which is unusual and may contribute to that sweet touch in the flavor profile.

The bottle itself is sexy, to be sure: perfectly square, moreso than Jack Daniel’s, even. South Hollow Spirits has delivered a solid, northeastern gin with a great deal of character, that’s somewhere between New Western and London Dry gins in it’s overall flavor.

I’ve been drinking Dry Line mostly in Gin Rickeys (gin/soda lime), and it’s a solid product for that drink. The drink I was really curious about, though, was a Etrog-tini (or is it a Dry-Lini?): Dry Line with a dash of Etrog liqueur (which we tasted recently on the podcast). Here’s the recipe:

dry line etrog cocktail

Etrog-tini

  • in a mixing glass, add:
  • 2 oz gin
  • 1/2 of Etrog liqueur
  • stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass
  • garnish with a lemon peel

Just as they did with Twenty Boat Spiced Rum, South Hollow Spirits has released another solid entry into an established space, yet has impressed with the unique and tasty flavor profiles they’ve been able to achieve there.

Silverado

silverado cocktail

I recently got an out-of-print book called Straight Up or on the Rocks: A Cultural History of American Drink by William Grimes, a journalist with the New York Times. It had been recommended to me long ago, so I picked it up used at Amazon. From what I hear, this book (published in 1993) was one of the few great craft cocktail books of the 1990’s (which was a particularly dark time for cocktails).

There’s a small collection of recipes in the back of Mr. Grimes’ book, and I found a simple one that sounded mighty tasty. It’s a 1:1:1 mashup of the Negroni and the Screwdriver. Here it is:

Silverado

  • Add the following ingredients into an Old Fashioned glass filled with ice:
  • 1 1/2 oz vodka (I used Reyka)
  • 1 1/2 oz Campari
  • 1 1/2 oz orange juice
  • Stir and garnish with an orange wedge

Modern Harvey

modern harvey cocktail - harvey wallbanger for president

Galliano has launched a new campaign to compete tongue-in-cheek with this national election stuff that we seem to be in the midst of. At the Vote 4 Wallbanger site, Harvey promises to “Make America Chill Again,” and we can certainly all get behind that. Here’s a modern twist on the classic Harvey Wallbanger cocktail:

Modern Harvey (pictured)

  • 1 oz vodka
  • 1/2 oz Galliano
  • 3 oz fresh orange juice
  • 1/2  oz lemon juice
  • Shake & strain into a old fashioned glass filled with ice
  • Top with 2 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters

harvey wallbanger for president

 Special thanks to our sponsor Galliano L’Autentico

Drinking the Derby

four roses and mint julep recipe

The Kentucky Derby is coming up Saturday – a celebratory event which usually marks the arrival of Spring and “spring time” bourbon drinks like the Mint Julep. I have 2 pots of mint in the backyard and they are full and ready to be julep-ized. As a refresher on how to make your own Juleps, you can see my Julep walkthrough here.

According to the Derby, “120,000 Mint Juleps are served over the two-day period of Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby weekend at Churchill Downs Racetrack. That’s a feat that requires more than 10,000 bottles of bourbon, 1,000 pounds of mint and 60,000 pounds of ice.”

So in light of the coming Derby this weekend, I was excited to receive a care package from Four Roses, one of my personal favorite cinnamon-forward Kentucky bourbons, then a copy of Michael Dietsch’s brand new book Whiskey: A Spirited Story with 75 Classic & Original Cocktails, which releases May 17, 2016 [Amazon link].

whiskey by michael dietsch

Much more than just a simple listing of recipes, Deitch devotes several pages to each cocktail and goes into the history and story behind each. It’s a beautiful hardcover book with excellent photography, designed cleanly and well-organized, with a good deal of cocktail pointers (whiskey or not). He says of the Mint Julep:

“With an origin in the 18th century, the boozy julep came along before American whiskey was widely available. And even when American whiskey was more available, the julep had become a drink of the genteel South, and in that time, gentlemen drank brandy and rum, not brash American whiskey.” (pp 103)

Enjoy a Mint Julep and enjoy Derby Day on Saturday! Cheers!

Novo Fogo Cachaça Caipirinha Kit

novo fogo cachaça

I’m a little embarrassed to say that until recently, I had not tried cachaça (kuh-CHA-suh), the Brazilian sugar cane juice liquor. Similar to rum, cachaça is Brazil’s most popular distilled spirit, and the base for the caipirinha (KAI-pir-een-yuh) cocktail.

Well, Novo Fogo Cachaça helped us to correct that when they sent us their caipirinha kit to try out on our podcast (which we did here). The kit includes a bottle of Novo Fogo Silver, 2 small branded mason jars, and a wood muddler, all of which we use in the recipe below.

novo fogo caipirinha kit

A caipirinha is like a South American take on a Daiquiri: lime, sugar and rum, though in this case the rum is swapped for cachaça. I find Novo Fogo’s cachaça to be a earthier, grassier and much more flavorful variety of rum, which is technically is, because it’s distilled from sugar cane juice. Their caipirinha kit makes for some tasty cocktails, too, and all you need to add is lime and sugar. Here’s how you make it:

Caipirinha

  • in a small mason jar, add:
  • 1/2 of a lime, but into wedges and with the enter pith removed
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 oz cachaça
  • muddle together well, then fill the jar with ice
  • shake well, then serve directly in the jar