I’m thrilled to announce that in just a few weeks, my first cocktail book: New Mexico Cocktails: A History of Drinking in the Land of Enchantment will be released! While there is some fascinating NM history and facts, you should find it a handy cocktail reference book regardless of where you are in the world!
You’ll be able to purchase New Mexico Cocktail wherever fine books are sold beginning on July 4, 2016. Preorders are available now at Amazon.com. Thank you for your continued support of Simple Cocktails and all that we do!
“Things are growing.” Visit the site. Leave a review on iTunes. Email us. Lisa, Joanna and scotch. The big list of booze to drink. We taste Art in The Age’s Black Trumpet Blueberry Cordial. Greg mentions Tamworth Distilling. Anne of Green Gables? Cordial fail. Berry beer fail. We make a Double Standard Sour. The mom who runs. Yolk with blood in it.
Hochstadter’s in Philadelphia has a couple of rye-based drinks that I had the opportunity to try recently. The first is a bottled cocktail that was popular before Prohibition: Rock and Rye. Meant to be drunk neat or on the rocks, Slow & Low Rock and Rye is a base of straight rye whiskey, with added raw Pennsylvania honey, dried naval oranges, rock candy and bitters. Most similar to an Old Fashioned in flavor, the Rock and Rye is a bit more complex than that, I think mostly because the rock candy/honey sweetening components are a tad unfamiliar (maybe old-timey?) in their taste profile.
Slow & Low is not too sweet, though, and is perfectly appropriate for a straight whiskey drinker as it won’t overwhelm with sweetness. Really, the rye remains the most prominent flavor in the mix, with an assortment of milder, underlying flavors to balance out the drink.
At just over $20, this is most definitely a fine bottled cocktail at a great price. If you’d like to hear more about what we thought, we also tasted Slow & Low on a recent podcast episode.
Because of the solid base of rye whiskey in Hochstadter’s Rock and Rye, it’s no surprise that their regular rye whiskey is also an impressive bottle for your shelf. At $35, with a blend of ryes from 4-15 years procured from different parts of North America, Hochstadter’s Vatted Rye is a solid sipper and a strong base for cocktails as well.
A rye of this age and proof (100) should be heartily spicy and solidly tasty, with no evidence of the sour/sweetness of a too-young rye. Gladly, that’s exactly what Hochstadter’s delivers. This is an impressively delicious rye whiskey at a solid proof which will easily compare (and potentially beat) other $35 ryes.
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.
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?
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:
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.
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:
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
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.
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!
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.