Podcast 51- Don Amado Mezcal and Sidecar

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We will be recording podcasts live at Tales of the Cocktail this year! Best breakfast burritos and Donald Trump. We taste mezcal for the first time with Don Amado Rustico. “The first time you try something you almost never like it.” Greg mentions his old brandy cherry post. The theme is Mexico. We make a Sidecar cocktail.

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Hornitos Spiced Honey

hornitos spiced honey

Clearly, there are waves and trends that hit the liquor companies over the years, and I understand the legitimate need to create something new and keep buying eyes on your brand. When I started this blog, flavored vodkas were at their peak, and I even reviewed (it’s true) some of the stranger among them.

That initial wave of vodka flavors has subsided, though there’s always room for pleasant-tasting vodkas. Now, they’ve been replaced by flavored whiskeys and, in the past year or so, tequilas too.

When Lisa and I opened Hornitos Spiced Honey for the first time (podcast link), we weren’t sure what to expect. In fact, we guessed it could be similar to American Honey Sting, Wild Turkey’s ghost-pepper-infused whiskey. Thankfully, it’s not. This Hornitos variation (only their second flavor offering) is a “spiced honey liqueur,” a warm honey-and cinnamon combo that’s more like a tea companion than the dare shot that American Honey Sting is.

Spiced Honey is sweet, yes, but still comes in at the 35% ABV level, which is expected from flavored liquor these days. The flavors are natural and rich, but not overpowering, and it’s surprising how little you taste the tequila, which I’m sure is the point. Hornitos Spiced Honey is worth a try, and it is something I’d imagine mixes excellent with a cinnamon liqueur like RumChata or Chila Orchata or just in a White Russian or other desserty drink. At $20 a bottle, you’re bound to find some clever ways to enjoy this tequila.

We tasted Hornitos Spiced Honey on the Simple Cocktails Podcast. Click here to listen.

Book Review: Vermouth

vermouth book

Vermouth is closely tied to cocktail culture, a staple ingredient in classics like the Martini or Manhattan. I have written a lengthy post about vermouth here, including some basic history, recipes, and advice for caring for your vermouth.

Adam Ford has just released a comprehensive and beautiful book on this amazing fortified wine, titled: Vermouth, The Revival of the Spirit that Created American Cocktail Culture. Ford does a great job of delivering a helpful and informative book on vermouth, which he reckons is the “world’s oldest alcoholic beverage.”

vermouth book

On rough estimation, I’d say a third of this book is committed to history of vermouth, a third to America’s role in vermouth (historically and currently), and a third is a cocktail recipe section. The heavy leaning toward American vermouth is useful, as there really isn’t much of a source for these facts elsewhere. It’s helpful that the author is an authority on American vermouth – he’s the founder of NY-based Atsby

The photography in Vermouth is melancholy (see the cover photo above, for example), and the photos fit perfectly well with the style and the layout of the book, which has a very clear sense of it’s own style, and fits perfectly with the subject matter. Anyone with a passing interest in cocktail history, and vermouth in particular, will enjoy Ford’s book very much, and the recipes serve as a handy guide for exploring vermouth further as well.

Buy Vermouth from Amazon here.

Podcast 50- Absolut Spark and Aunt Agatha

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1 year of podcasting and 50 episodes!!! The podcasting history of Greg and Lisa. We turn out the lights and celebrate with a bottle of Absolut Spark (photo here). Vodka takes off stink and starches shirts. #sparkyournight We make an Aunt Agatha cocktail. The only goth we had in the 80s? “We owe papa a new funnel.” Great looking ice.


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Father’s Day Gift Ideas

I’ll confess that Father’s Day and Christmas give me fun excuses to venture out into pseudo-cocktail dude gift ideas, which I really have fun exploring. As always, I have a handful of fun and creative gift ideas for you to consider for your own father or husband this year.

Alberta Dark Batch Rye. I love rye and at $30, this is a really fun alternative to the usual liquor store bottles of rye. Canadian, and therefore sweeter, yet still spicy in your chest, this is an awesome gift choice. It’s interchangeably usable as a sipper or as a backbone for Dad’s Manhattan or Old Fashioned. Find out more at Alberta Rye’s site.

Jelly Belly Cocktail Classics and Draft Beer. This is a good gift for a beer- and cocktail-loving dad. Depending on the size, for $4-10, these are great for a laugh or if you’ve always wanted to try a beer jelly bean…here’s your chance! Use these Amazon links to get Draft Beer or Cocktail Classics Jelly Belly beans.

The 100 Greatest Console Video Games 1977-1987, by Brett Weiss. Does dad speak fondly of “the good old days” of video games, or hanker for his Colecovision, Atari 2600, or NES? This is an awesomely fun, full-color, hardcover book with the top 100 home video games from the early days of console gaming, A-Z. I checked immediately for my favorite, Yar’s Revenge, and it’s in there! Buy it from Amazon or directly from the publisher.

Usquaebach 15 Year Old Blended Malt Scotch. Pronounced oos-ke-bah, the name of this scotch is based on the Gaelic phrase water of life which ultimately is how we ended up with the word whisky. That’s a good thing. This award-winning scotch is finished in oak and sherry casks, and it’s heavenly. For $80 a bottle, you’ll get a warm, sweet, rich, and filling scotch that’s sure to make dad grin. Explore Usquaebach here.


Abq the Mag: Best of the City 2015


Hello readers!

Every year, Albuquerque the Magazine hosts a Best of the City contest and awards ceremony. I have been honored to be the only blogger to place in the top 5 for the past 2 years…now what I’d really love is to WIN in 2015!

Please click here to cast your vote by August 1 – the Best Blogger category can be found under the “people” header. You don’t need to live in Albuquerque to vote, but if you do, please vote for as many categories as possible!

Podcast 49- Hornitos Spiced Honey and Gimlet

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We’re going to Tales of the Cocktail! More concerned about hair than drunkenness. We taste Hornitos Spiced Honey…and do a quick comparison with Wild Turkey American Honey Sting. Greg mentions a Brave Bull and a Akdov Telmig. We make a Gimlet and talk Scurvy talk. MARMALADE! Discomfort when he pees.

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Iceberg Vodka

iceberg vodka

We recently tried Iceberg Vodka on the podcast, and we were really impressed with what we tasted, especially in the flavored versions. Before I was contacted by Iceberg, I’d never heard of this brand before. It’s an affordable vodka ($20 range) with some interesting (though not childish) flavor options.

As with many vodkas, it’s story is a large portion of sales, and Iceberg is no different. It’s a corn-based Canadian vodka which uses water from an iceberg as it’s base liquid (50-60% of vodka is water). Iceberg’s site goes into detail about the iceberg “harvesting process,” plus the rationale behind the purity of an iceberg, it’s been frozen 12,000 years, etc. Ultimately, of course, the flavor of the vodka is more critical to it’s long life than it’s backstory, and Iceberg delivers.

Distilled from sweet Canadian corn, Iceberg is a creamy and sweet vodka (thanks, corn!) with an average amount of vodka burn, and is certainly a vodka you should consider in the $20 price range.

Iceberg Ice Fusion Cucumber has lots of cucumber flavor, is not sweetened at all, and is a refreshing and tasty vodka flavor (I’ve tasted a cucumber vodka here before). Lisa recommended mixing this vodka with mint. I’m curious about how it’ll taste in a Bloody Mary.

Iceberg Ice Fusion Creme Brulee isn’t syrupy, though it is sweetened just a touch. This would be great with a hot drink, from coffee to tea to a hot toddy. It’s easier to drink because of the sugar and it has a nice, natural vanilla/caramel flavor. This was Lisa’s favorite of the bunch.

Iceberg Ice Fusion Chocolate Mint is a wonderfully creative vodka flavor, and in this case, it’s not overly sweet. I preferred this flavor to the Creme Brulee because of the toned down sweetness and more subtle flavors – I’m curious to try it out in a White Russian or Alexander cocktail.

We tasted Iceberg on the Simple Cocktails Podcast, too. Click here to listen.


Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum

sailor jerry rum

It’s interesting how, after blogging about booze and cocktails for 5 years, you miss things. I’ve had a few bottles of Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum in the last several years, but I realized that I haven’t actually written about SJ yet!

I’m just going to tell you that Sailor Jerry is my favorite spiced rum (Breckenridge is my 2nd fave). There are several things that make it a stand-out from competitors (such as Bacardi Oakheart or Captain Morgan). First, Sailor Jerry is higher alcohol at 46% – Oakheart and the Captain are 35%. SJ is also commonly sold in 1L bottles (as opposed to 750ml) in many places.

The flavor of Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum is the biggest differentiator, though. It’s less sweet-tasting, yet remains smooth and palatable. It is great in a Rum and Coke as the spices of SJ, like clove, cinnamon, and vanilla, are almost a one-for-one companion to the flavoring in Coca-Cola. Compared with it’s competitors, who offer a fruitier, sweeter spiced rum, Sailor Jerry is spicier, a touch more bitter, and more complex than others on the market.

I make my Sailor Rum+Cokes like this (pictured above):

Sailor Jerry Rum and Coke

  • in an old fashioned glass filled with ice, add:
  • 2 oz Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum
  • some Coca-Cola, between a splash and 1 oz


Acrylic barware courtesy of JCPenny.

Podcast 48- SoCo Cherry and CocoMenta

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Coconut water statistics. “I love cocktails that give you a little bit of a caffeine buzz.” We taste Southern Comfort Bold Black Cherry. Greg mentions this SoCo commercial. Coconut stories and discussion. We make Greg’s CocoMenta cocktail. Eating everything in the yard.

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