A Simple Bloody Mary Bar

bloody mary bar

Bloody Marys are an interesting cocktail in many ways. Firstly, they’re not simple – both the ingredients and garnishes can be huge lists of spices and pickled things. Second, they occupy the very fun day drinking and traditional brunch-drink space with Mimosas and Bellinis.

That being said, we still like to keep things simple, even with something as complex as the Bloody Mary. If you visit the reviews page at this blog, you’ll see that I’ve tasted many natural ‘Mary mixes, and many of them are awesomely delicious. Recently, we had brunch at Simple Cocktails headquarters, and here’s how we did the Bloody Mary bar.

Get the liquor and the Bloody Mary mix in a pitcher, with ice, ahead of time. We got them ready 1/2 hour before brunch. I used regular vodka. while you may be tempted to break out the Hot Monkey for this occasion, not everyone likes a spicy  Bloody Mary. For our mix this time around, I got a jug of Trader Joe’s Garden Patch juice, which contains lots of tomato juice, several other veggie juices, plus a little lemon juice. We discovered it’s pretty great for Bloody Marys.

When your Bloody Mary is in the pitcher, you can go about setting out your garnishes. In this case, we set out celery sticks, jalapeño olives, regular olives, cornichons, Sriracha, salt and pepper, lemon and lime wedges. I pre-rimmed the glasses with Crazy Steve’s Bloody Mary Salt, too.

Once the party started, it was a simple process for everyone: pour your Bloody Mary into your glass and toss in all the garnishes you want. A small amount of prep will make is so that you have a simple, self-serve Bloody Mary bar next time you brunch!

 

Podcast 47- SAGE and White Lion

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Greg’s insecurities and cultural vanity. We taste SAGE by Art in the Age. Wait…is this booze or aftershave? A gin without juniper. “It makes my knees sweat.” We make part 2 of the Lion series: a White Lion cocktail. Not named after the band. Greg re-uses Lisa’s joke…again.

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Book Review: The Craft Cocktail Party

craft cocktail party

“This book is not a comprehensive guide to bartending. It is specifically tailored to making drinks at home, with an eye toward entertaining.” – The Craft Cocktail Party.

The Craft Cocktail Party is a brand new book from one of the U.S.’s best bartenders, Julie Reiner, owner of New York City’s Clover Club and Flatiron Lounge.

This book starts out with exactly the same premise of the very blog you’re reading, so I was hooked with that line. To begin, the photography in this book is wonderful – bravo to Daniel Krieger for that! The layout and typography is also very attractive.

The recipes in the book are varied, ranging from simple classics like a Moscow Mule to newer recipes like Clover Club’s Palo Negro. A warning to Simple Cocktails readers, though: some of these recipes in TCCP are downright complex, requiring you to make an infused syrup a few days before your party.

craft cocktail party

I struggled with the organization of The Craft Cocktail Party, because I felt it didn’t echo the premise of the book itself. I found this home bartender’s guide to be strangely organized into the four seasons of the year, and then further into sub-categories, some with a clear party theme, but others were just drink categories. For example, the Fall section has a “Thanksgiving” chapter, which makes perfect sense as a craft cocktail party occasion, but then it also contains a chapter called “The Classics.” What occasion is that, and why reserve it for the Fall?

Sprinkled throughout the book are entertaining tips, sticking true to the original premise the book promised, appearing in grey boxes throughout the book. But there was maybe one tip for every 30 recipes in this book, so it ends up weighted much more heavily towards cocktails than entertaining.

Overall, TCCP is a beautiful book with jaw-dropping photography and some really good content, but the organization of it seems to waver between a garden-to-glass cocktail book, party drink menu ideas, and a straight-ahead cocktail reference book.

Buy The Craft Cocktail Party here.

 

Podcast 46- Brancamenta and Red Lion

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“Those old, dusty books have scary recipes in there.” Greg loves What, When, Where, and How to Drink. Old, bald white men in suits. We taste Brancamenta. Neon orange shot glasses. Gin cocktails “so we can drink at work.” Overwhelmed by a PacMan orange. We make the Red Lion cocktail.

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Walk the Line: Cockspur

cockspur rum

Cockspur is a rum you’ll see quite a bit of throughout the world (they have pretty wide distribution), but I hadn’t really run across it here in the U.S. until I started doing some homework for a recent rum+cigar pairing event I hosted.

Dating back to 1884 in Barbados, Cockspur has a pretty varied catalog of rums that will cover you for about any type of rum you may need, and because of this, I think they’ve earned a deserved place in our Walk the Line series.

Here’s a brief summary of each, pictured from left to right above:

Cockspur Overproof. So there’s really only 2 uses for overproof rum, which in this case clocks in at 65% ABV. Some tiki recipes use it as an ingredient, but mostly it’s the think you put in a volcano glass to light on fire in the middle. At $20 a bottle, Cockspur overproof is overwhelmingly butterscotch on both the nose and palate, but it’s not really meant to drink by itself.

Cockspur Fine. Let’s call this “regular” Cockspur. Aged a little bit, this rum has a cinnamon-and-sugar candy taste that has very little alcohol burn. It is a great fit for cocktails and is even good enough at $15-20 to sip on.

Cockspur Spiced. Spiced rums are my favorite choice for rum-and-Cokes, and Cockspur is one I haven’t tried before. The spice you’ll find here is really a Christmasy clove experience in the scent, but it’s surprisingly watery and sweet in the finish. In the $15 range, try this one if you love cloves.

Cockspur Old Gold. Now we’re getting into the truly aged Cockspurs. At 5 years old, this is a spicier rum than Fine, with some nutty banana flavors meeting the woody spice of the barrel. Definitely a sipping rum at $20-25 a bottle, this is a definite middle ground between the sweet Fine and the woody VSOR 12.

Cockspur VSOR 12. “Very Special Old Reserve” is a blend of rums up to 12 years old, and is spicier still than Old Gold. Almost apple-like in both flavor and nose, Cockspur VSOR 12 was the runaway favorite at our cigar pairing event and it’s only $30 a bottle. A great cigar pairer and a fun choice for a whiskey drinker who’s looking to experiment with aged rums, too.

 

Podcast 45- Hoodoo Chicory Liqueur and Tequonic

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“Let’s go on a trip to New Orleans.” Tales of the Cocktail is coming up. What is chicory? We taste Hoodoo Chicory Liqueur. “Put it in pancakes.” It’s not a disease from tejano music, but we make a Tequonic. Lisa says it’s “classic.”

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Rojo Piñon Rum

rojo pinon rum

Part of what I do here at Simple Cocktails is give some extra (deserved) attention to my local distilleries. As of this month, 5 distillers have raised up in New Mexico, and I love to make sure they get all the exposure they can through this blog.

Left Turn Distilling, who already makes an excellent vodka and old tom gin, have just released Rojo Piñon Rum, which we tried recently on the podcast as well.

By my accounts, this is the first rum to be available from our current roster of distilleries. Adding the piñon has an interesting effect of both flavoring and “wood-ing” the rum to age it quicker. While this is by no means an aged rum, it has spent a few weeks in a barrel, and the macerated pinon shells are very brittle and woody too.

I initially tasted Rojo at a cigar/rum pairing event here in Albuquerque, and it was a good fit with a stogie. Later on, I tried it on it’s own, and it’s a little young yet to be a sipping rum, but it’s close. The flavor is good and the piñon element is really tasty, a bit oily and toasty too, but it feels like a little more time to mellow in a barrel would be great to get this to a “sipping” level. For cocktails, on the other hand, this is a good mixing rum, and makes tiki drinks pretty uniquely tasty. At $25 a bottle, it’s a worth first run at a unique southwestern rum.

 

Podcast 44- Rojo Piñon Rum and Señorita

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Rum & cigars. Greg is a cheerleader. The state tree of NM. We taste Left Turn Distilling’s Piñon Rum. The Boston Tea Party. Fresh citrus = craft cocktails? We make a Señorita cocktail. Greg mentions Big Gin. “You get to the liquor quicker.” Colorado dissing. Yeah, we have a Pinterest page.

Download Episode 44.

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If you enjoyed the show, please write a brief review on iTunes. That would help us get the word out and raise the visibility of the show. Thank you!

Hola Harvey

hola harvey wallbanger

I’ve covered Galliano before, the famous electric-yellow herbal liqueur from Italy. It’s the critical ingredient that turns a simple Screwdriver into the Harvey Wallbanger cocktail. We’ve tasted it a few months back on the podcast, too (listen here).

For Cinco de Mayo this year, I found a tropical recipe that riffs on the Harvey Wallbanger that’s both easy and tasty:

Hola Harvey

  • in a shaker, combine:
  • 1 1/2 oz blanco tequila
  • 1/2 oz Galliano
  • 1 oz pineapple juice
  • 1/2 oz lime juice
  • shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass
  • garnish with a lime wedge

 Special thanks to our sponsor Galliano L’Autentico.

Trader Joe’s Kentucky Bourbon

trader joes kentucky bourbon

To my friends and family, I’m a bit of a Trader Joe’s fanatic. We started shopping there regularly a few years ago when I swore off of high fructose corn syrup (and lost 50 lbs in the process).

Trader’s (as we like to call it) has an interesting liquor section if you’ve ever shopped it. Their “2 Buck Chuck” (or 3 Buck Chuck, or 4 Buck Chuck, depending on the part of the country you live in) is the #1 selling wine in the U.S. If you look carefully at their hard liquors,you’ll also note that they have some budget-priced options that you can’t find anywhere else. Check out the $8 Rear Admiral Joseph’s London Dry Gin, their 100% agave tequila for $20, or their own Blended Scotch Whisky, $12 a liter.

I’ve been eyeing the Trader Joe’s Kentucky Bourbon Straight Whiskey ($14.99) for a while, and finally broke down and bought a bottle. This bourbon is distilled at the elusive “Bourbon Square Distilling Company,” which, if Googled, just points you more reviews of this same bourbon. Some web sleuths uncovered that this bourbon is actually distilled at Barton’s 1792 distillery, one of Buffalo Trace’s brands, which is a huge plus in my book.

This is a sweet-and-spicy bourbon, candy and caramel with a sizzle-and-cinnamon finish, It doesn’t have too much heat, even though it clocks in at 45% ABV. Price-wise it doesn’t taste cheap, which usually translates to a alcohol burn and a lack of complexity. No, this is a nicely balanced and perfectly acceptable cocktail and sipping bourbon, especially at $15 a bottle.

We also tasted Trader Joe’s Kentucky Bourbon on the Simple Cocktails Podcast. Listen here.

 

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