Keurig Kold Cocktails

keurig kold for cocktails

Keurig has gone from unknown coffee-maker company to household name in just a few short years. Their K-Cup system has become the industry standard for one-cup coffee and you can see it reflected in the many varieties of K-Cups your grocery store’s shelves.

Now, Keurig’s trying something familiar, yet new: the Keurig Kold, a drinkmaking system that (you guessed it) makes cold drinks. Every drink you make with the Kold is chilled by the machine (no ice required) and some of the pods also add carbonation (with fizz beads of some kind, no CO2 container required).

Keurig sent me a Kold and several of their cocktail pods. I got to try:

  • Rita’s and Tina’s Skinny Margarita  (non-carbonated)
  • Rita’s and Tina’s Skinny Strawberry Margarita (non-carbonated)
  • Union St. Lounge Mojito (carbonated)
  • Seraphine Seltzer, Persian Lime (carbonated)
  • Coke Zero (carbonated)

The Kold pods, which are about $5 for a 4-pack (a similar cost to Keurig’s coffee pods) are the equivalent of drink mixes for cocktails: they have the appropriate flavorings, you just need to add your own liquor to make them a full-blown “cocktail.” I found Rita’s and Tina’s Margaritas were appropriately tart and tasty, with the slightly chalky flavor of bar-bought frozen margaritas. Because they come out chilled, you can pour them straight into a salt-rimmed Margarita glass and you’re good to go.

Union St.’s Mojitos are especially nice when mint is out of season (mine’s yet to grow out this year), and it’s a quick way to get a Mojito, carbonation and all. I also tried the Coke Zero and found the taste to be shockingly good for a quick rum and Coke. I think it’s the best Coke Zero I’ve ever tasted (I drink Coke Zero regularly).

I can tell you so far my favorite pods, though, are the Seraphine Seltzer. Fizzy water is something my home bar is always running out of, and the lime seltzer is perfect with gin and a half-lime (for a Gin Rickey).

Keurig envisions the Kold being useful hardware at home cocktail parties: imagine a bowl full of pods and you can “make your own cocktail” by adding a shot of tequila, rum or gin to the mix. I found it to be a good virgin drink-maker, too. While the Kold is certainly a cool device to use at a party, especially (for me) as a seltzer-machine, you won’t hear Simple Cocktails recommend you completely replace yourself as home bartender with the Kold. Someone’s got to add the booze, right?

The Keurig Kold is an interesting piece of bleeding-edge technology that can help make a few cocktails quickly, and I’m curious to see the new and creative ways users and brands get behind the product.*

*Editor’s update: Keurig announced June 7, 2016 that it is shuttering the Keurig Kold line and laying off the 130 employees associated with it. Pods will be available for a discounted rate on the Kold website until they are gone and Keurig is giving Kold drinkmaker refunds at this site

Podcast 80- St. Patrick’s Day Dueling Grasshoppers!

2 grasshoppers

Ireland. St. Patrick’s Day special with James and Jenny! Suzy’s Grasshopper story. The smell of smoke? History of the Grasshopper. We make a Grasshopper. We make Greg’s Fancy Grasshopper. Enhanced brown-ness?

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Fancy Grasshopper

fancy grasshopper cocktail

Recently, we made one of last century’s most iconic cocktails: the Grasshopper. A low-booze, sweet-as-hell, electric green cocktail that has since inspired cookies and cakes that bear it’s name. When people call a food or drink “Grasshopper,” we know it’ll be chocolate and sweet mint.

As I anticipated making the Grasshopper, though, I was reminded of a seminar I attended at San Antonio Cocktail Conference. I heard that some cool craft cocktail bars are taking over-sweet, 1990s or uncool cocktail recipes and redeeming them. Whether they’re just serving them tongue-in-cheek on their menus, or “upgrading” every ingredient to make them cool again, it’s fun to “craft-ize” some older, yuckier cocktails.

I began to imagine how one could make the bright green Grasshopper cocktail out of edgier, craftier ingredients. I stuck with the chocolate-and-mint flavor profile, of course, but stabilized it a little bit and made it boozier and more complex. Here’s what I came up with:

Fancy Grasshopper (by Greg Mays)

  • in a mixing glass, add:
  • 1 1/2 oz vodka
  • 1/2 oz Brancamenta (a minty amaro)
  • 3/4 oz brown Creme de Cacao
  • 2 dashes of black walnut bitters
  • stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass

You end up with a Grasshopper that’s equally tasty, and nice and balanced in it’s flavors, and as you see from the photo, it takes on the color of the chocolate instead of mint green. You’ll discover it’s equally tasty and suitable for St. Patrick’s Day, though. 

Enjoy!

Grasshopper

grasshopper cocktail

The Grasshopper cocktail is a pretty interesting study in cocktail trends. It was invented by Philibert Guichet of Tujague’s Restaurant in New Orleans in 1910 for a cocktail competition, which it placed second in. Tujague’s still serves Grasshoppers by the dozens today.

Here’s why the Grasshopper has drifted in and out of “coolness” over the 115 years it’s been around: it’s seen as a starter cocktail, as training wheels, because it actually doesn’t have liquor in it. Now, the Grasshopper is an alcoholic drink, but it isn’t made with vodka, gin, whiskey, tequila, etc, just 2 liqueurs (sweet and low-alcohol) and cream. It’s so sweet and creamy, and it’s basically more a dessert than a cocktail.

But that’s what makes the Grasshopper cool, too. It’s the only drink of its kind, really, especially when you consider its color (creamy electric green) and the famous chocolate-mint flavor. It’s light and ferociously sweet, and it’s just a fun drink. If you’re not having fun drinking, than what’s the point, right?

So here you go, without apology, the Grasshopper cocktail:

Grasshopper

  • in a cocktail shaker, add:
  • 1 oz of Creme de Menthe (mint liqueur)
  • 1 oz white Creme de Cacao (chocolate liqueur)
  • 1 oz half-and-half
  • shake well with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass

Podcast 79- Rock & Rye and Applejack Cocktail

podcast cocktails

A cocktail guy with The Best Beard in Town….James and Jenny join us for drinks! We taste Slow and Low Rock & Rye. Lisa’s thinks about Journey’s “Faithfully.” The story of Applejack. How to cut citrus for garnishes. We make an Applejack Cocktail. “Women are better shakers.” Bad men.

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Vodka 360

vodka 360

In the last few weeks, we’ve had the opportunity to try out Vodka 360 and their line of flavors at Simple Cocktails, including this episode of the podcast and this cocktail. Billing their vodka as “Eco Friendly” because of the brand’s commitment to recycling and other green behaviors at McCormick Distilling (the distiller of V360), the brand also offers recycling initiatives tied the the bottle’s glass and swing-top cap.

Vodka 360 is available in a plethora of flavors (11 to date) which range from the traditional to the obscure…glazed donut or buttered popcorn, anyone? Mostly, though, their flavors are of the fruit or dessert variety. We tried the original (unflavored) vodka, plus Huckleberry, Sorrento Lemon and Double Chocolate flavors.

The standard Vodka 360 is a good buy for $20, though if your brand loyalty is elsewhere in that price range, there’s nothing particularly new in the flavor of 360. The environmental initiatives, or even the cool swing-top cap, might be what call some to switch.

The biggest thing we noticed about the flavored Vodka 360s is that the flavors are very intense, bold and obvious. I feel like there are two options for a vodka with this much flavor. First, if you intend to use this in place of a flavored vodka in a traditional recipe (like for citrus vodka in a Cosmo), the Lemon V360 alone will overwhelm the drink, so you should mix it 50/50 with standard, non-flavored vodka.

Another option, though, is to use these flavored vodkas them as replacements for liqueurs in cocktail recipes. They’ll be higher-alcohol, but the flavor intensity is about at liqueur level. Like many other flavored vodkas, V360 sweetens their flavored varieties, so it’s going to be fun to swap out Double Chocolate V360 for Creme de Cacao in a recipe, for instance.

There is no limit to the stunts that a vodka company may pull to get their piece of the large market share that vodka holds in the liquor world, but to take a less selfish position, in this case, and environmental one, is notable.

Let me know in the comments what you think of V360!

Podcast 78- Cigars, Underground and Mark Twain

simple cocktails with friends

Matthew from Monte’s talks cigars with us. Douche liqueur? We taste Underground Herbal Liqueur. Energy and baby-making. Four Lokos? Greg’s “sticky” game. Morning cocktails (not brunch). We make the Mark Twain Cocktail. Cutting though extension cords. Brian’s got a good Shake Face. Tarty cigars.

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Campari IPA

Campari IPA

I’ve heard about this drink for a while, but only recently decided to try it out myself. It’s meant to be a sort of bitter-on-bitter experience: a bitter liqueur with a bitter beer. We don’t make a lot of beer cocktails at Simple Cocktails, but if you want to explore some, check out the Caramel Guinness or the Merican Negroni, the second of which is really just a souped-up version of this very cocktail.

I suppose it’s a stretch to call a beer-and-a-shot a cocktail, but I’m going to call it that because I’m serving it already mixed (not a separate shot as a chaser). If you look around the internet, this drink is definitely a thing, but it goes by a variety of names, usually Beer Campari or Campari Spritzer. I’ve decided to settle on the most obvious name, one that will be specific enough that your bartender should know what you mean when you order it:

Campari IPA

  • in a frozen beer mug or pint glass, pour 6 oz of very cold IPA beer
  • add 1 1/2 oz Campari
  • top with the remaining 6 oz IPA (adding it incrementally like this helps the cocktail to mix itself)
  • optionally, garnish with an orange slice or serve on the rocks (especially if you don’t have an already-frozen beer mug)

In Albuquerque, you could argue that IPA is our king of craft beers. Our best IPAs here are the driest that I’ve had: when I try IPAs from other states, they usually finish too sweet for me. Adding Campari has this amazing effect on a quality IPA in that it increases both the bitterness and the sweetness of the beer, which to me is perfectly acceptable and the final product remains deliciously balanced. I will certainly be drinking more of these in the future!

 

Podcast 77- Jacob’s Ghost and Our Stanley

simple cocktails with friends

Homemade Valentine’s gifts. Peaky Blinders. More friends! We taste Jacob’s Ghost. The boys vs the girls. We make an Our Stanley Cocktail with fruit jelly garnishes. Freak fruits?

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Cigar Pairing: Creme Cocktails

coquito

Last month, I did a seminar at San Antonio Cocktail Conference about cigar and cocktail pairing. The gist of the seminar was this: cigars are typically paired with similar-tasting drinks (smoky scotch, spicy rye). If, however, you pair a cigar with an opposite-tasting cocktail, like a creamy or sweet drink, the pairing can enhance the flavors of both the smoke and the drink.

To be quite honest, the attendees weren’t totally convinced that cream-based cocktails were a good fit, but a recent conversation I had confirmed that a creamy cocktail actually pairs quite well with a stogie. The following are some cream-based cocktails I recommend pairing with a cigar, including a Puerto Rican cocktail that’s basically their equivalent of egg nog:

Coquito

  • 12 oz coconut milk
  • 12 oz evaporated milk
  • 12 oz cream of coconut
  • 4 oz sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup spiced rum
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • blend ingredients in a blender until well mixed, then bottle and refrigerate until cold
  • serve in small glasses and sprinkle cinnamon on the top

Brandy Alexander

  • 1 oz of brandy or cognac
  • 1 oz dark creme de cacao
  • 1 oz cream (half and half)
  • shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass
  • garnish with nutmeg on top

White Russian

  • in a shaker, combine:
  • 1 oz vodka
  • 1 oz coffee liqueur
  • 1 oz cream (half and half)
  • shake well with ice and strain into an ice-filled old fashioned glass
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