Make it a Mixology Weekend!
If you’ve been in to the store lately, you may have noticed some changes in our setup — particularly on the spirits floor.
That’s right — we have a brand new Mixology Center! This is the perfect weekend to cool down with some hand-mixed cocktails, and we’d love to help you find everything you’ll need to mix up something good (stumped for ideas? Check out some of these appetizing cocktail recipes:
The Wedding March
The Last Word
Come visit us and check out our ever-growing collection of bitters, liquers, and apertifs — now conveniently and centrally located in our brand new Mixology Center!
With the warm weather approaching — though it never really left — we’re getting closer to bringing out the bottles of gin and other lively spirits. Some like to call them “rays of light”, “sunshine in a glass”, or “liquid pine trees”, I just like to call them good.
Gin has not always been at the top of my list of spirits to rave about. It honestly stayed at the bottom for a long time. Then the creativity set in and I fell in love with the “Old Tom” style of gin that was soon to become my favorite.
The best things about liking gin are the trinkets, mixers and liqueurs that have been solely designed to complement the beautiful botanicals that are found in the gin itself. I was unaware of these until I found myself at a bartenders’ competition where the base spirit was Bombay Sapphire Gin. Never would I have thought that hickory smoked lemons, strawberries, figs, eggs and lavender would be some of my new favorite pairings with gin. This may have been the start of my love affair with gin — OK, this definitely was the start of my love affair.
To describe my palate/taste when it comes to gin, I prefer ones that have slightly subdued juniper notes and more of the prominent citrus tones up front. I tend to go with an “Old Tom” style gin more often than a London dry or the funky gin spirits such as Bols Genevere or Junipero.
Gin is not really a spirit that can shy away from its heritage and main flavor profile, such as other ubiquitous spirits like vodka, rum or tequila that one can mix with just about anything and mask its true flavor. It can mesh and hold the solid flavors of so many different items.
For instance, an italian blood orange soda that can be found at whole Foods or Trader Joes is one of the best mixers for Bombay Sapphire. It makes the gin cocktail taste like you have mixed in 3 or 4 different components. The sparkle of the bubbles break up the piney punch that sometimes dominates your palate upon first sip. The brightness and sweetness of the fruit intermingled with the botanicals of the gin bring out these crazy flavors that range from lemon sorbet and sparkling grapefruit to sweet eucalyptus and toasted honey. If you happen to come across some sparkling blood orange soda or something like it, don’t pass it up!
Now if you want to channel your inner mixologist and experiment, using egg whites takes gin cocktails to an entirely new level. For sweeter style drinks, just add any baking spice and/or small bits of fruit — hazelnuts sprinkled with a dusting of cinammon, nutmeg, brown sugar and cardamom or figs and plums. Thinking outside the box like this leads to discovering new ideas, crazy ingredients never before considered and a way to offer new sensations to your palate.
For the last pairings, these are definitely my favorite additions to any gin cocktail I have ever held to my lips.
Hickory smoked lemon rounds ranks #1. The faint smoke you get after the initial lemon zest rounds off the acids of the lemon, and the smoke seems to give the lemon a rounder, caramelized taste. Instead of it butting heads with the bright botanicals of the gin, it brings out the above-referenced notes of figs and hazelnut that one would not expect.
Ranking second are the “juniperized” pickles — pickles soaked in juniper berries and lemons. I can’t tell you everything the pickles were brined in, but I am sure that I ate more than I probably should have. I tore into the sweet, zesty bits of goodness and found that there was a lingering flavor that came across as, believe it or not, slightly blueberry-ish.
All in all, there’s always a way to get around the basic and up-front taste of the gin spirit. As I said before, it’s never going to get too far away from the initial base flavor but can pretty much set its style in the modern contemporary feel. Don’t be afraid to branch out and try something new in life; cocktails being one of the easiest way to accomplish that. If you don’t like it, you can always make it into an Alabama Slammer! 🙂
It’s that time of year again where we search for our best sangria recipes and dust off the old ones. More than likely, you already have more than one, whether it’s a recipe you pulled out of a magazine, borrowed from a friend, saw on television or made up yourself. Let’s face it, sangria recipes are like opinions — everyone’s got one, and everyone thinks theirs is the best.
Sangria shouldn’t be intimidating or complicated to make. The whole point is to keep it fun, fresh, easy to make and easy to drink! It is nothing more than a sweetened wine punch to enjoy during the warmer weather days, especially beach/poolside. It’s pretty cost efficient, and it is only as invested as you are. Sangria can involve white wines, red wines or even sparkling wines. It can be made with liqueurs of every style and flavor — rums, vodkas, brandies, melon flavors, strawberry flavors and much more. You can make sangria with most any kind of fruit — peaches, plums, berries, mangos, oranges, etc. There is no fixed recipe for sangria, whether it be red or white, fruity or dry, 2 ingredients or 10 ingredients, a little of this, a little of that, or mixed with any kind of fruit you fancy.
The fun of making it is that there are so many options — you go with what you love. I’m not suggesting you change your whole recipe, but I would like to provide a few guidelines/tips that you can follow to achieve the best possible sangria.
Here’s a short list of Do’s and Don’ts:
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Rye whiskey is the hidden treasure of whiskeys, or at least it was.
Now it’s hitting the market with a strong hand, reclaiming its place as America’s preferred spirit. Classic rye cocktails are very much in style these days, and to get to know how to use them, you should know what you’re looking for in one. So, let’s take it back to the basics.
Rye, by law, has to have a mash bill of no less than 51% rye, while the remainder can be corn, grain, barley, or other grains. Rye offers a more distinct, layered and complex flavor of spice and grains than any other whiskey out there. Whereas people prefer bourbon for its sweet, smooth, caramel-like body, those who like ryes will prefer the spicy, firm richness that gives rye the more bold personality.
You’ll usually find notes of walnut, black pepper, spices, toasted grains, and sometimes a nice spiced vanilla or cinnamon. All these different flavors in a rye open up a world of possibilities, allowing you to to mix, match or infuse it with something. Certain cocktails were even invented solely to complement a rye whiskey: the Manhattan, a Sazerac, a Ward 8 or an Old Fashioned. Fruit or fruit bitters can be rye’s best friend if you allow the spice in the whiskey and the sweet top of the fruit to meld together — just as one would do if pairing cheese and wine.
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These days, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed when wanting to make a cocktail.
Everyone you come across is working his/her way to becoming a mixologist. New restaurants, TV shows about drinks, all kinds of new infused vodkas and bourbons, fancy names and flair to match — it gets overwhelming. It is not hard, however, to achieve such mastery, allowing you to avoid that feeling of being overwhelmed or uneducated.
When it comes to something so fun as mixing, fear should play no part — everyone should be able to enjoy it. It’s what I like to consider an art in itself, and like any art or hobby, the “mixer” should be able to delve into it however deeply he likes.
There are a few necessary items that one should always have handy when wanting to get creative.
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