Category Archives: recipes

Moonshine Collins

moonshine collins sugarlands

Sugarlands Distilling Co. has been sponsoring the podcast for the last few episodes or so, and I have been thinking of creative ways to use moonshine in cocktails.

Tequila cocktails are usually a very good fit, as blanco tequilas and moonshine are most similar in their flavor palates, and I’ve made Moonshine Margaritas pretty often. I started to think about the classic cocktail recipes, too, and test out drinks that would be a good fit for moonshine as well, and recently on the podcast, we made a Mooonshine Collins that was awesome. Here’s how you do it:

Moonshine Collins

  • in a collins glass filled with ice, add:
  • 2 oz Sugarlands Silver Cloud Moonshine
  • 1 oz lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz simple syrup
  • stir well, add more ice to top off, then top with club soda ans stir briefly
  • garnish with a cherry and a lemon wedge
Special thanks to our sponsor, Sugarlands Distilling Co.

Red Summer

When you’re searching for inspiration for a new cocktail recipe, sometimes the ingredients are the first thing you put together, and sometimes the name of the drink presents itself and you build from there. I’ve been working to take RumChata from its place as a typically-wintertime liqueur to an ingredient I use year-round, and the name of the drink was there waiting for me: Red Summer.

Something bold and sexy, I figure, and I decided to go really crazy and use a “summer” ingredient I had never even considered with RumChata: gin. In this case, I added Caorunn Gin, a Scottish gin with a faint trace of apple flavor (part of the distillate, in fact).

Here’s the way I put it together:

Red Summer (by Greg Mays)

  • In a shaker, add:
  • 1 oz RumChata
  • 2 oz gin
  • 1/2 oz grenadine
  • shake with ice until extremely cold
  • strain into a cocktail coupe
  • garnish with raspberries

I’ll be honest: I thought to myself, what’s the most summery and least likely ingredient for a RumChata cocktail, and gin was my answer. When I took the first sip of this drink, though, I realized I had come up with something very special. The cinnamon of RumChata plays against the sweet grenadine and the apples-and-spices botanicals in Caorunn. This is a great drink that you have to try!

Special thanks to our sponsor RumChata.

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