Humboldt Vodka and Hemp Seed Vodka

humboldt vodkas

Humboldt Distillery is based out of northern California where they distill vodka and rum. I used their spiced rum to make a cocktail that I’ve been really enjoying lately: the Double Rum Old Fashioned.

Humboldt’s spiced rum I found to be sweet and syrupy, with a mild spiced palate; it goes well in cocktails for sure. I also had the chance to try their vodka, a sugarcane distillate that’s a touch sweet and quite smooth, as well as”Humboldt’s Finest”: a vodka infused with locally-grown sativa cannabis.

I know, that raises some questions, so here’s what I do know: Humboldt’s Finest is legal in all 50 states. Does it make you high? Not that I noticed. Really, the biggest question we need to ask is: how does it taste? Well, Humboldt’s Finest is like a marriage between a tasty vodka and a mild, minty, herbal gin. In tonic, for instance, you might just find it a little more herbal than a Vodka Tonic and bit milder than a Gin and Tonic. It makes for a slightly more interesting Dirty Martini, too. When I substituted it for their regular vodka in cocktails, people always noted it was “more herbal.”

All Humboldt’s spirits are organic, and I think the distillery had a unique enough approach together with a unique portfolio of spirits to add some fun cocktail twists to your home bar. Both vodkas retail for about $25.

Podcast S03E05- Moonshine, Sugarlands Style

simple cocktails podcast

Greg talks to Greg Eidam, head distiller at Sugarlands Distilling Co., about the distillery, their history and the famous moonshiners on their payroll. Here are some recipe ideas from Sugarlands. We talk about Roaming Man Straight Rye and getting it through their new Whiskey Club (sign up here).

Download Season 3, Episode 5 (direct link).

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Podcast S03E04- What is a Craft Cocktail?

simple cocktails podcast

Mixologers. The art of the craft cocktail and what sets them apart. Greg mentions Jim Meehan and PDT. Making macarons, How to now screw up a Dirty Martini. Lots of olive talk. Drink what you want.

Download Season 3, Episode 4 (direct link).

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Podcast S03E03- What is a Cocktail?

simple cocktails podcast

Tales of roosters and horses give us the name, A newspaper gives us an early definition. We make an Old Fashioned….with a twist. We go all out with the garnish.

Download Season 3, Episode 3 (direct link).

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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 and stir briefly
  • garnish with a cherry and a lemon wedge
Special thanks to our sponsor, Sugarlands Distilling Co.

Podcast S03E02- Summertime Cocktails

simple cocktails podcast

Straws? Heatstroke. Top 5 summer drinks. We make a Gin Rickey and a Moonshine Collins.

Download Season 3, Episode 2 (direct link).

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Podcast S03E01- The Margarita

simple cocktails podcast

We talk about a seminal summer drink: The Margarita! History of the Margarita, including early versions of it. Are frozen drinks frowned upon? Daisy -> Sour -> Margarita. Agave syrup as a sweetener? We make Gary “Gaz” Regan and Robert Hess’s Margarita recipes and do some comparison.

A big welcome to Sugarlands Distilling as our sponsor!

Download Season 3, Episode 1 (direct link).

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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.

Walk the Line: Evan Williams

evan williams bourbon family

Evan Williams is, by design, a bargain bourbon brand operating under the umbrella of the Heaven Hill family of brands (whose brands also include Elijah Craig, Larceny, McKenna and many more). Ranging from $10 on the low end to $25 for top-of-the-line, Evan Williams’ bourbons have a spicy bite to them and a familiar flavor profile from the top to the bottom of the line. Here’s a comparison of their regular 5-bottle lineup:

Evan Williams Green Label. 80 proof, about $10. The “bargain priced” Evan is really a value bourbon like no other. Distilled by Heaven Hill, who is one of the only remaining family-owner bourbon distillers in the country, Green Label may not be considered as sophisticated as some of the higher end bourbons out there, it has a balanced yet spicy flavor profile. Because of the proof of Green Label, even though I usually like by bourbon with a lot of ice, I drink this one neat or in cocktails only.

Evan Williams Black Label. 86 proof, about $11. Black Label is our Simple Cocktails “well” bourbon. I always have a bottle on hand as I find it’s got the cinnamon-spice-zing that I love in whiskey. For $11 a bottle, it’s value is excellent, and it’s higher proof than Green Label, so I can ice it up when I sip it straight.

Evan Williams White Label Bottled-In-Bond. 100 proof, about $13. With the price and favor profile of White Label considered, I feel comfortable saying this is my favorite bourbon. I’ve not tried another in this price range that had the flavor profile I seek after (higher rye, higher spice) like this one. There’s a touch more burn with White Label as it’s higher proof than anything else Evan Williams produces. Like it’s little brothers, this bourbon serves a spice-forward balanced profile of cinnamon, caramel, clove and nutmeg.

Evan Williams 1783. 86 proof, about $15. As you can see, you can explore almost the entire line of Evan Williams bottles for less than $15 apiece. 1783 is a more specialized and, dare I say, delicate bourbon than the value line, though. While I’m not sure of the mashbill (the grains making up the bourbon), I suspect a little less rye and a little more wheat or barley in this one. It’s subtler and I found this is a better fit for drinking neat. I found the flavor set too delicate to pair with most cigars, too, which often pair better with a bolder whiskey.

Evan Williams Single Barrel Vintage. 86 proof, about $25. This is the best-of-the-best in Evan’s world. It’s a bottle at a price that you can easily keep 2 or 3 around to serve to guests and it’s quality is definitely good enough to sip alone, but the price won’t prevent you from considering it in a cocktail either (Old Fashioned, anyone?). It’s flavor profile is more in line with the colored-label brethren above, so a bit more spice and sizzle than the cool sweetness of 1783.

Father’s Day Gift Guide, presented by Holt’s Cigar

father's day gifts

Every year, I like to go on the hunt for awesome and unique Father’s Day gift ideas for readers. This year, Holt’s Cigar is presenting an awesome collection of really cool stuff for readers of both Simple Cocktails and our sister site Simple Guy Stuff. I’m excited to present this year’s list:

new mexico books

Local literature: $20-50. I have been a New Mexico native most of my life and my state pride has grown gradually. This year, I got my hands on 2 newer books published here that and distinctly New Mexican. Look into My Eyes: Nuevomexicanos por Vida, ’81-’83 (buy at Amazonis a photo book from a very specific snapshot of time in New Mexico’s history: 1981 to 1983 and it’s an amazing mashup of hispanic and 1980s culture. ¡Órale! Lowrider: Custom Made in New Mexico (buy at Amazon) is another one of those precious snapshots of our local culture in beautiful color with great historical context of the significance of “dropping” your Chevy Impala.

fidget spinners

Fidget spinners: $20-70. Clearly this is a fad on one saw coming, but you can now find plastic 3-pointed spinners in just about every gas station or roadside stand in this country. I wanted to illustrate what a more “fatherly” spinner looks like, so I got some spinners from UltraSpinners and Syner-EDC. UltraSpinners have a variety of spinners ranging from $20 to $150, but I stuck with their Ergo line, which has 3 options in materials and weight. The Ergo Aluminum is $20 and a lightweight but “grown-up” alternative to plastic spinners. Ergo Omega and Alpha are both brass, for $55 and $60 respectively, and only differ in weight and thickness. I also picked up a Triple Mini Spinner from Syner-EDC (pictured bottom) for $40, which offers customizable bearing caps is various materials.

monowear apple watch band

Apple Watch Band: $85. Monowear makes a new and apparently very-popular Apple Watch band out of perforated leather that’s classy. They match the hardware to the watch color (a must in my book) and the band’s available in chestnut, black and grey (I got grey). As a daily Apple Watch wearer, I always love having more options to accessorize and match my tech with my clothes for the day.

bicycle cocktail and beer cards

Playing Cards: $5 a deck. I picked up Cocktail Party, Craft Beer, and Craft Brewers decks from Bicycle – it’s a fun way to jazz up your poker games with some “fatherly” knowledge of cocktail recipes and craft beer. Plus they cost next-to-nothing!

balvenie caribberan cask 14

Scotch Whisky: $85. Scotch is particularly suited for gifts because if often comes in a gift-worthy sleeve. For this Father’s Day, I picked up The Balvenie 14-year-old Caribbean Cask, a spicy, vanilla-forward sipper that pairs beautifully with the next gift idea…..

cigars - holt's

Cigars: $5 and up. From Holt’s Cigar Company, our sponsor for this Gift Guide, we’ve got a great selection of smokes in our humidor (stay tuned for upcoming pairings at Simple Guy Stuff). For Father’s Day, Holt’s recommends the Royal Flush Super Sampler, one of many great options in their Father’s Day Cigar Deals category. Special thanks to Holt’s for their sponsorship of Simple Cocktails and Simple Guy Stuff!

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