National Bourbon Heritage Month

bourbon curiousOf all the “National _______________ Days” that seem to come daily on our social feeds, this one is unique because it wasn’t created in a marketing department or PR office, but by congress. That’s right, the U.S. Senate declared September National Bourbon Heritage Month back in 2007, a “month to celebrate America’s Native Spirit,” the official title also given by congress back in the 60’s.

Clearly, the best way to celebrate bourbon is by drinking bourbon, but first, it’d be wise to learn all we can about it so that we can find bourbons we like. I’ve been talking about it a little bit on the podcast, but the new book by Fred Minnick, Bourbon Curious: A Simple Tasting Guide for the Savvy Drinker is deeply interesting and unmistakably helpful.

Covering many details of bourbon making and history (did you know Tabasco sauce is aged in bourbon barrels?), Minnick leads us into the final 1/3 of his book: a highly-valuable tasting guide. Categorizing bourbon flavor profiles into 4 groups, grain-forward, nutmeg-forward, caramel-forward and cinnamon-forward, I realized quickly that the bourbons I’ve loved the most were in the cinnamon category.

four roses bourbon

…..then I realized that Simple Cocktails had previously missed an entire brand of cinnamon-forward bourbons. I’m not exactly sure why, but I has thought Four Roses was an expensive, exclusive bourbon, so I figured it’d be hard to cover here, but after reading Bourbon Curious, I noted that Four Roses is one of the oldest, most respectable bourbon brands in the flavor category I love the most, and I had to grab some immediately. Continue reading

Podcast 58- Bourbon Curious, Brugal Rum and Vermouth Spritzer

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“Thanks for asking Lisa.” Tamalewood and Greg is reading Bourbon Curious [Amazon link]. Tequila and Tabasco. “We gotta get on that.” We taste Brugal Extra Dry Rum. Involuntary eye-shutting. A fancy French word. We make a Vermouth Spritzer. “I always grab the white one.”

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La Quintinye Vermouth Royal

la quintanye vermouth royale

La Quintinye Vermouth Royal is one of several vermouths you may find at your local specialty liquor store. In this particular case, the line is French-produced, by mixing “fresh grape juice and Cognac from a single estate.”

Vermouth, as you know, is an essential ingredient to many classic cocktails, and I have a large summary post about vermouth here at Simple Cocktails.

In the case of La Quintinye (pronounced queen-tin-EE), is available in 3 varieties and I got them in 375 ml bottles ($15 retail). I always try to stick with the smaller bottles since vermouth’s lifespan is relatively short. Here are the flavor profiles of the three:

La Quintinye Extra Dry. Citrousy and sharp, this is your Martini vermouth. It has a little anise flavor, very herbal, and complex. It whets your tastebuds well, just as a good aperitif should.

La Quintinye Rouge. Chocolate and coffee on the nose, it’s peppery and cough-syrup bitter, though still sweet. This is a complex and quality vermouth in a Manhattan or Negroni.

La Quintinye Blanc. A similar herbal scent and flavor profile to Extra Dry, but with a sweet and rounded finish. With less of the sharpness of the Extra Dry, and this is a tasty vermouth to drink on the rocks with a lemon twist or in this Martini variant:

Sweet White Martini

  • in a stirring glass, add:
  • 2 oz unaged Old Tom Gin (I used Brothers)
  • 1 oz La Quintinye Blanc
  • stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass
  • garnish with a lemon twist


Rye 505

rye 505 cocktail

Another fun cocktail from my list of 7 Delicious Creative Albuquerque Cocktails, the Rye 505 is a Southwestern take on a Manhattan: tart, spicy, and sweet all at the same time!

Rye 505

  • in a shaker, combine:
  • 2 oz rye whiskey
  • 1 oz sweet vermouth
  • 1/2 oz of lemon juice
  • 1 dash of cocktail bitters
  • shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass
  • garnish with a lemon wedge


Podcast 57- Amaro Lucano and Planters Punch

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Tiki drinks ain’t simple. Charles Phoenix is awesome. Greg mentions our previous podcast where we tasted amaros, then we taste Amaro Lucano. “A firm believer in changing your palate.” Greg mentions Trader Vic’s Cocktail book [Amazon link]. Buy your glassware at Goodwill. We make a Planters Punch cocktail in glasses that have its name on it. Greg mentions Bacardi 8. The many forms of alcoholic drinks. “Disneyland.”

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Uptown Cooler

uptown cooler cocktail

I designed this custom cocktail for 7 Delicious Creative Albuquerque Cocktails. There’s nothing about it that says you can’t be sippin’ on one outside of the Land of Enchantment, plus it’s refreshing as heck, so let’s get drinking!

Uptown Cooler

  • in a tall glass, add:
  • 1 1/2 oz of gin
  • 1/2 oz of fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • 2 cucumber slices
  • muddle them together in the bottom of the glass
  • fill the glass with ice and top with club soda
  • serve with a straw and garnish with a thin cucumber slice


Podcast 56- Jellybeans, Jäger, Tequila Old Fashioned

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We eat cocktail jellybeans. “Classics means ‘cocktails from the 90s.'” Let’s do a candy podcast….. not a porn podcast. We drink Jägermeister and Jäger Spice out of deer shot glasses. Karaoke was involved. The Long Island Iced Tea of Christmas. A brief discussion about high fructose corn syrup. We make Tequila Old Fashioneds“You just said a political joke!” I slurred the beans. “Determined to get out of my vodka rut.”

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Manhattan Moonshine

manhattan moonshine

If you’re not familiar with my general sentiment on the “moonshine” category of liquor, let me refresh your memory: generally, unflavored moonshine is pretty gross and unpleasant to drink. Plus those damn mason jars spill all over you when you’re pouring them!

So, another opportunity to review another moonshine came to my attention and it’s not made from corn. That’s right, Manhattan Moonshine this is a oats-and-rye mash, plus it comes in an ornate art deco bottle (not a jar!).

I thought I might dislike Manhattan Moonshine as much as I had the gasoline-burn from previous jars I’ve tasted, but I didn’t. This is a good whiskey, one that I could sip on the rocks, even. It’s spicy, warm and shockingly flavorful for something that has no barrel time at all. Manhattan Moonshine will cost you twice what white lightnin’ runs, retailing for $45 a bottle.

As a respectable-tasting whiskey, I figured it was a good idea to serve this like other ryes I enjoy: in a Manhattan. It was too good of a cocktail-naming opportunity to pass up:

Manhattan Moonshine Manhattan


Alcohoot: A Smartphone Breathalyzer

Since we always have our smartphones with us these days, it makes sense that we would start to have access to helpful apps and devices that play off of that. I’ve noticed at least 5 consumer-oriented smartphone breathalyzers hit the market in the last 2 years or so, and Alcohoot is one of them. If you find yourself in situations where you’re unsure if you’re intoxicated or not, $99 is certainly money well spent.

The Alcohoot device is physically comparable to a chubby, rubbery Zippo and connects to your phone through the headphone jack (it has a sliding switch that simultaneously turns the device one and extracts the headphone plug). AlcoHoot comes with a tiny USB charging cable and a pack of 8 mouthpieces (see the photo below). It connects to a free app on iOS or Android, which gives you all the reporting and tracking on your blood alcohol levels.

I carried my Alcohoot with me during Tales of the Cocktail to test it out. I found the device just a little too large to be carried comfortably in my front pocket, so I kept it in my man-purse on the trip. I never had to charge it, and Alcohoot says it’ll last through 500 breath tests. The main problem I had with Alcohoot is the mouthpieces. They don’t snap in to the device, they just sort of rest on the blowhole (seriously, I couldn’t find a better word for that). I carried 2 mouthpieces with me, but I found it to be too much trouble to put it on, so I just blew into the hole on the device itself. That means, of course, that either I’ll never share my AlcoHoot with others, or I’ll have to keep really good track of the mouthpieces when I do. I noticed a small plastic mouthpiece case that Alcohoot sells on their site, but the device come with 8 mouthpieces stuck into a cardboard sheet.

The process of testing is a pretty easy experience. You need to wait 15 minutes after drinking alcohol before the results are accurate. You begin the test on your smartphone screen, blow into the Alcohoot for 4 seconds until the unit vibrates, then get your number reported on screen. The app keeps track of your BAC tests on a chart in the app until you delete them.

“Legally drunk” is over 0.08% BAC, so reporting higher numbers in red or with some sort of indication that you’re over the limit would have been helpful (remember, we’re talking about inebriation here). It has a orange line on the chart to indicate 0.08%, but it could still be more obvious when you blow above it.

In the end, there’s a lot of wisdom in having a device like Alcohoot around, because it gives you some data about your blood-alcohol level that you probably wouldn’t have otherwise.

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Podcast 55- Tavi Tequila and Club

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Speakeasies romanticized. “It’s like tufu.” Greg mentions Boozehound by Jason Wilson. Flapper chicks dancing on the stage. We taste “premium” Tavi Tequila. “I’m gonna say 80, Bob.” Tequila bottles toppers on your stickshift. We make a Club Cocktail.

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