Simple Cocktails Podcast Episode 9

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Glow-in-the-dark cocktails served by the yard? Why do people drink more during the holidays? We consider whiskey with breakfast and drink two Maple Whiskies. Dry and tasteless cornbread. Has Lisa been tasting alcohol wrong all this time? Everybody loves a wet mouth. We make a Daiquiri thanks to Jeffrey Morgenthaler’s recipe. Not up to snuff as far as pirates are concerned. Greg says “crazy” or “insane” way too many times.

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Bar Tool: The Soda Siphon

isi soda siphon

The soda siphon is a tool that I recall seeing in old movies and TV shows: usually being sprayed into someone’s face, but I admit I had no idea what that device was. You rarely see soda siphons anymore, maybe because of the availability of canned/bottled soda water, maybe because it’s a tool people don’t understand as well.

I know I didn’t.

I got my hands on what’s probably the most common siphon that I see these days: an iSi (pronounced EEE-see) 1L Soda Siphon, which will run you about $50 at Amazon. My usual source of soda water in my home bar is Hansen’s 8oz Club Soda cans, which cost $3 for a six pack.

Since I’d never used a soda siphon, I watched some YouTube videos on how I could use my new iSi. In the case of this particular model, it’s only designed for water, meaning you shouldn’t be making whipped cream or trying to carbonate cocktails with it. The process goes like this: fill the siphon with water, put the lid on, then screw in a soda charger and shake (chargers run about $1-1.50 apiece). You can either use the soda right away or stick it in the fridge for future use. I found the water in the iSi stays bubbly for about 3 days. When I noticed it losing it’s fizz, I simply re-charged the water, as long as the siphon was still more than half full.

isi soda siphon

Time for the big question: should everyone have a $50 soda siphon in their home bar? No. A siphon is most useful if you use higher volumes of soda water, probably a liter or more a week. Compared to my Hansen’s cans, iSi soda water is a little bit cheaper: Hansen’s runs you about 6¢ per ounce, and iSi will runs you about 4½¢ per ounce….if you use it all. And that’s the big kicker: if you charge one liter of soda water for $1-1.50 per charge, but don’t use the soda water, then you might be wasting money on re-fizzing your water over and over.

So if you find yourself using soda water a lot in the cocktails you love, or if you make Mojitos, mocktails and Shirley Temples regularly, then the iSi is a good buy. If you have parties regularly with fizz-water drinks, you should get one. Particularly if you keep the charging cartridges on hand, you’ll really never have to go the the store for soda water again (which I’m grateful for).

Simple Cocktails Podcast Episode 8

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State drinks discussed, everything loses to bourbon. Never a Bud Lite cocktail. Genever pronunciations at we taste Bols Genever. “Is that an allergic reaction?” We make the #1 cocktail that is an Eagles song: the Tequila Sunrise. Grenadine talk (check out the comparison post here). We know our sunrises. Pour them slowly.

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Tanqueray Old Tom Gin

tanqueray old tme gin

Tanqueray’s gotten really good at building on founder Charles Tanqueray’s legendary recipe book, which can only be seen by current distiller Tom Nichol. Last year the company released (well, re-released) Tanqueray Malacca for a 100,000 bottle limited run, and this year, it’s a brand new (but still limited edition) product: Tanqueray Old Tom Gin.

Old Tom is a pretty ancient form of gin, the precursor to the familiar London Dry style. Old Tom is sweeter than London Dry, and I’ve found in the ones I’ve tasted that they are as bitey, but usually less piney than London Drys.

In the case of Tanqueray’s Old Tom, the bite is from the botanicals that usually sit in the background behind juniper, like clove or cinnamon spice, a sweet licorice taste on the tongue. This is a sweeter gin than you’ve probably tried, but I wouldn’t describe it as “sweet” (I realize that’s a bit contradictory). It’s sippable for sure, and a perfect fit in what might be a cocktail that’s named after it, the Tom Collins:

tanqueray old tom collins

 Tom Collins

  • in a Collins glass filled with ice, add:
  • 1 1/2 oz gin
  • 1/2 oz simple syrup
  • 1 oz lemon juice
  • stir, then top with club soda
  • stir again and serve with a straw
  • garnish with a lemon wedge and cherry

Simple Cocktails Podcast Episode 7

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Episode 7 has a theme: all about Amaros. Acquiring a taste, or changing taste buds? “Bitter is a word that you say when things are bad.” We taste Fernet Branca (Lisa says it tastes “like a fairytale”), Campari, Cynar, Aperol, and Averna. Greg quotes himself. References are made to chocolate potato chips. Lisa makes a Negroni. Is it sophisticated to go without the orange?

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Vote Simple Cocktails ‘Best of the City’!

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In 2013, Simple Cocktails was voted a top-5 blogger for in the Albuquerque the Magazine ‘Best of the City’ poll. This year, we would love to win it, but there are only 4 days left to vote.

Would you cast a vote for Simple Cocktails as Best Blogger (under the ‘people’ category)? Anyone can vote, but you can only vote once. Thank you!

Cast your vote here.

Spymaster

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I dug this cocktail out of Gary Regan’s Bartender’s Bible while I was on the hunt for simple vodka cocktails. It’s sort of a banana version of an eggy Vodka Sour. While the recipe has you serving it on the rocks, I think in hindsight I would have made it without ice because it accentuates the egg foam on top better.

Take a crack at the Spymaster:

Spymaster

  • in a shaker combine:
  • 1 1/2 oz vodka
  • 1/2 creme de banane
  • 1/2 oz lemon juice
  • egg white
  • shake without ice (to foam up the egg), then add ice and shake again
  • strain into an old fashioned glass

Simple Cocktails Podcast Episode 6

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Cocktail and food pairing, or as Lisa says, “nibbles.” Sneering in the face of cool, Greg admits to liking a brand-new flavored whiskey (listen in to see which one). Benefits of being friends with a chicken. What is 1/4 of a lime? Even though salmonella freaks people out, Lisa braves some egg whites while she makes a Pisco Sour.

Download Episode 6.

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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!

Owl’s Brew (A Tea Crafted for Cocktails)

owl's brew bottles

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Vijay gave me a report from the Fancy Food Show, and told me “there were two interesting cocktail phenomenons there: tea infused everything and lots of unique cocktail syrups.” After some brief investigation, I ended up with 3 bottles of Owl’s Brew on my doorstep. 

Owl’s Brew is a natural, slightly sweetened, tea cocktail mixer with simple mixing instructions: “2 parts Brew with 1 part booze.” Packed in cool, matte black apothecary bottles, Owl’s Brew will run you $10 for a 8 oz bottle or $17 for a 32 oz, and it’s available at many retail locations nationally and online.

The three flavors of Owl’s Brew are:

  • Classic is English Breakfast tea, lemon, lime, and agave. This one has a very familiar tea flavor with a lemony tang that you’re already familiar with. There are many liquors you can mix with this one, but we like gin or whiskey the best.
  • Coco-Lada is black tea with chai spices, coconut, and pineapple juice. As with the Classic, there are lots of ways to mix this one, but spiced rum seemed to be a perfect fit. Our Coco-Lada bottle was drained the day we opened it.
  • Pink & Black is the fruitier tea of the bunch, with darjeeling, hibiscus, lemon and strawberry juice. We mixed this one with whiskey and gin, and gin seemed to be the best fit, though I imagine a splash of Pink & Black in your champagne would be incredible as well.

owl's brew cocktails

There are lots of good recipes listed at the Owl’s Brew site, but we stuck with their motto recipe of “2 parts Brew and 1 part booze,” and made these two drinks:

Owl’s Pina (pictured top left)

Gin and Tea (pictured top right)

The Owl’s Pina is so good that our 8 oz bottle of Coco-Lada was gone before we could blink (8 oz is enough for 3-4 cocktails). Gin and Tea is a great cocktail, too, and a tea lover will really enjoy having a bottle of the Classic on hand. Classic would also taste great mixed 1-to-2 (reverse the usual ratio) with a wheat beer.

While tea in cocktails isn’t a new concept by any means, Owl’s Brew introduces your cocktails to tea in the simplest way possible. Natural ingredients and a great combination of flavors make their black bottles an excellent addition to the hit-or-miss world of premade cocktail mixers.

Duchess

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This cocktail is old school, with roots back to 1930 in the Savoy Cocktail Book. It’s also potent and a bit sharp tasting, too, probably a result of all those pungent mixture of herbs in both the vermouth and absinthe. Now that I’ve made it and tried it, I think the Duchess would benefit from a more sweet dry vermouth, like Vya Whisper Dry or Contratto Bianco, as regular dry vermouth felt like it contrasted with the absinthe.

Give this 85-year-old cocktail a try and let me know what you think:

Duchess

  • 1 oz absinthe
  • 1 oz dry vermouth
  • 1 oz sweet vermouth
  • stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass
  • garnish with a lemon twist
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