Monday, January 6, 2014

Blackberry Irish Whiskey Sour

Here we are again in January, a little bleary…. But the dead of winter gets a bum rap. All the seasons have their beauty. And this one for me is largely about the rich, tasty, warming goodness of whiskey cocktails! Blackberry brandy is especially nice at this time of year, and pairs so well with whiskey. Recent visitors will note my current preoccupation with Irish whiskey, and the maltiness of that spirit is great with dense black fruit flavors. For the drink below, I used Clear Creek Blackberry Liqueur from Portland, Oregon.


Blackberry Irish Whiskey Sour
  • 1 1/2 oz Irish whiskey (Paddy)
  • 3/4 oz blackberry brandy
  • 1/2 oz lemon juice
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Orange twist.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Modern Irish Cocktail?—Molly Bloom

This one’s for a friend who was having trouble with Irish whiskey in the classic Manhattan formula. While distinctly more floral and fruit-forward from the inclusion of Cocchi Rosa, the bitter-sweet balance seems the closest to a Manhattan or Rob Roy of my recent Irish adventures. Maybe my favorite so far, too.


Molly Bloom
  • 2 oz Irish whiskey
  • 1/2 oz Cocchi Americano Rosa
  • 2 dashes orange bitters
Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Lemon twist.

There’s something Modernist era about this one, and the pronounced rosé character of the aperitif made me think of James Joyce’s Molly.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Another Irish Whiskey Cocktail (or Two)

The second of my recent attempts at an aromatic Irish whiskey cocktail. So far, I’ve done two subtle variations, one with sweet vermouth and the other with Cocchi Americano Rosa, and both are more successful than my last try with an aromatic cocktail. (See previous post.) Curaçao turns out to be a great addition, rich yet bright.


John McCormack
  • 2 oz Irish whiskey
  • 1/2 oz Cocchi Americano Rosa (or sweet vermouth)
  • 1/4 oz curaçao
Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Lemon twist.

This is where I wanted to end up: fresh, light and lively, red citrus and herbs complimenting the whiskey. The vermouth version is good but I’m liking the Cocchi a lot at the moment.

Monday, December 9, 2013

A Pair of Irish Whiskey Cocktails

I came home with a bottle of Tyrconnell Single Malt a few days ago, and this post ought to have been written sooner but the whiskey was so charming that it took me a while to settle down to work. Maybe that’s the nature of Irish whiskey, and why experimentation seems limited. And then I bought a nice bottle of barley beer thinking it would compliment, Almanac’s Honey Saison, and that was pretty and quaffable too, and was soon sucked down without a thought to cocktails.

Raising the Stakes
  • 1 1/2 oz single malt Irish whiskey (Tyrconnell)
  • 1 1/2 oz amontillado sherry
  • 2 dashes peach bitters
Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Amontillado is a great compliment to this whiskey, emphasizing vanilla and caramel. The peach bitters open up fruit aromas without adding sweetness on the palate. I tried playing with spicier flavors but they only got in the way.

Double Barrel Barley
  • 1 oz single malt Irish whiskey (Tyrconnell)
  • 1 oz amontillado sherry
  • 3 oz Almanac Honey Saison
Stir whiskey and sherry with ice and strain into a wine glass. Add beer.

Eventually, I managed to hold onto a bottle of beer long enough to make a cocktail with it. Almanac is a local brewery based in San Jose. The barley and honey compliment the gracefulness and flavor profile of the spirit. Rich but light.

Friday, November 29, 2013

When Black Friday Comes

If you’re reading this in the United States, you probably know it’s a big shopping day here. Whether you like that sort of thing or don’t, a tropical drink might help.

tropical drink

When Black Friday Comes
  • 2 oz amber Martinique rum (Saint James)
  • 2 tsp allspice dram
  • 1/4 oz absinthe
  • 2 oz lime juice
  • 2 oz ginger beer
Shake all except ginger beer with ice and strain into a 10-ounce glass. Top with ginger beer and fresh ice. Mint sprig.

For the rum, I went with Saint James Royal Ambre. It’s mellower than some other Martinique rums but the funk is definitely there, and it plays subtly with the absinthe and allspice. This drink should be good with Caribbean or Chinese food.

I use a lot of Fever Tree Ginger Beer—my favorite. It has the light body and clean flavor I prefer. The little market where I do most of my daily shopping stocks Bruce Cost’s Ginger Ale, tasty if a bit rich for highballs. It’ll work in the above recipe.

Maybe someday I’ll get it together enough to make Erik’s luscious-looking fermented ginger beer.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Let’s Eat Home

There’s something soothing about the tastes and aromas of fall and winter. I’m really getting into cooking with potatoes and roots, mushrooms, shallots and cipollini, apples, rosemary—often just cutting it all up to sauté or simmer a while, then throwing a little baked fish or smoked tofu on top. I want a cocktail that’s going to wake up my palate and harmonize with all the umami goodness in the pan. Dry sherry does this very well, as does calvados, the traditional apple brandy of Normandy. They’ve both been favorite subjects with me lately so it was only a matter of time before they got together in a cocktail.


Let’s Eat Home
  • 2 oz amontillado
  • 3/4 oz calvados
  • 1 dash Bitter Cube Jamaican Bitters #2
Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

A classic three-part structure but “inverted” in that the base is wine and the accent is spirit. Nice and light, good for before a meal of related flavors. The apple brandy is a natural compliment to the nutty acetaldehyde of the sherry. Hints of ginger, allspice and black pepper from the bitters round out the cider-like profile of this dry aperitif cocktail.

Monday, November 18, 2013

MxMo LXXIX: Resin—Mister Moose

Hey folks. It’s time for another magical Mixology Monday. I’d like to thank our hosts Christa and Shaun of BoozeNerds for their inspiring and intensely aromatic theme, Resin. They write:
We thought hard about a theme that would work well for this time of year, and after contemplating the food, booze, and decor we like for the holidays, we settled on “Resin.” From savory rosemary in a stuffing, to a delicious juniper-y gin in a martini, to a fragrant fir ornament or garnish, our friends the evergreens have a lot to offer. The challenge: come up with an ingenious creation using the resin-y ingredient of your choice. Zirbenz, retsina, hoppy IPA, pine-nut puree, even? Sure! Spirit, garnish, aroma, all are fair game. Whatever resin means to you, we want to hear it.
It’s definitely late autumn in San Francisco. It doesn’t freeze here, but the days are noticeably shorter and there’s a scent of of wood smoke in the chilly evenings. What better way to prepare for the coming Thanksgiving holiday than an evergreen-scented drink?


Mister Moose
  • 2 oz gin
  • 1 oz Zirbenz Stone Pine Liqueur
  • 1 oz sweet vermouth
  • 1 oz lemon juice
  • 1 oz ginger beer
  • 1 generous dash Bar Keep Baked Apple Bitters
Lightly shake all except ginger beer with ice. (Don’t over-dilute.) Strain into a double old fashioned. Top with ginger beer and add fresh ice. Rosemary sprig garnish.

The Zirbenz is a surprisingly easy, versatile ingredient, adding a unique balsam spice. Here it’s accentuated by the ginger, bitters, and the earthier herbs in the vermouth. The gin works as a background taste to lengthen the evergreen notes and dry the whole thing down.
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