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Cocktails | Manolo's Food Blog - Part 3
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TGIF Cocktail: the Whistleblower

Whistleblower Cocktail

Whistleblower Cocktail created by Jay Jones, photographed by Cathy Browne

Cheers! We’ve a spotty track records when it comes to regular weekly features, but who can’t get behind this: A cocktail for Friday! This is the Whistleblower Cocktail, which was created to celebrate the 40th birthday of My Future Boyfriend, Julian Assange. It was created by Jay Jones at Market by Jean-Georges at the Shangri La hotel in Vangroover, and it is every bit as tasty as the man himself. Which man? Well, that would be telling.

Judge for yourself.

Jay Jones

Jay Jones

Julian Assange

Julian Assange

In related news, when did I start fancying facial hair? News to me.


And here’s the recipe for the cocktail. For the recipes for the two men I’ve shamelessly objectified above, I refer you to their respective parents.

1.5 oz Imperia (Russian Premium Vodka, made from Winter Wheat)

.25 oz Giffard Banane du Bresil (French liqueur, made by maceration of Brazilian bananas)

.5 oz Renegade Rum Company, Limited Edition Panama Rum 1995
-distilled in Panama (in honour of Julian’s escape to Ecuadorian sanctuary, if only in the embassy; there wasn’t any Ecuadorian rum at the bar)
-aged 13 years in Bourbon casks
-enhanced in Chateau Margaux casks
-bottled at Bruichladdich Distillery, Islay, Scotland in 2008
-limited release of 1080 bottles
-46% ABV

4 dashes Fee Brothers Gin-Barrel Aged Orange Bitters
-classic orange bitters aged in cask which had formerly aged Old Tom Gin (well, who wouldn’t be bitter after all he’s gone through, eh?)

1 Fresh Lime Peel Zest

-stir, strain, add the zest – serve it all in a beautiful coupe.

This is a lovely, citrusy cocktail that is smoothed out by the rum in approximately the way your favorite diva is mellowed by sitting next to a stoner and absorbing herbs by osmosis.

Coupe glasses are my new favorite thing. They may not be the greatest for Champagne, but they are lovely for cocktails that are not Martinis, and there are some beautiful shapes in amazing crystal available now. Here’s a selection.

My favorite is this Orrefors Crystal Divine Coupe. Doesn’t as far as I know come with the wedding rings, alas. It has beautiful lines, and will concentrate the scent of an aromatic cocktail like this at least somewhat thanks to the inward curve. Mostly aesthetic, though. If you want glasses engineered for optimal drinking, you want the Difference line.

This Schott Zwiesel Tritan Crystal Champagne Saucer, which comes in a set of six, is more old-fashioned, but some people prefer its lines. Some people.

I’m quite fond of the Chef & Sommelier Cabernet Coupe but possibly that’s just because I’m so used to seeing it everywhere. It IS ubiquitous, but it is nonetheless lovely, with its modern, angular dash.

Oh, Karl. Karl, Karl, Karl, what will we ever do with you? This is the Orrefors By Karl Lagerfeld Coupe and, god help us, it apparently comes in different COLOURS. Let me repeat: COLOURS. I can only think that Uncle Karl is trying to see what the public will swallow at $150 a stem. Whatever they’re drinking, it’s pretty strong, because I have candleholders from China that look exactly like this and cost me about $5 for four.

In any case, enjoy your Whistleblower cocktail. Now go out and leak something. Paris Hilton, put your underwear back on: we were not talking to you!

Duck and Cover: it’s the Avengers Shooters

Everything is the Avengers and nothing hurts

Everything is the Avengers and nothing hurts

Well everything in this list is the Avengers, and if you do all of them, nothing will hurt.

Until the next morning.

A little background: I am proud of my country. We have invented many useful household items like the zipper, the electric kettle, and the lightbulb (yes, look it up: Edison bought the patent off two Maritimers). We have also invented some less useful, even possibly noxious things, among them Nickelback and the shooter.

This is a shot glass ostentatiously filled with boozy liquids, sometimes layered, sometimes artistically sculpted, like the Brain Hemorrhage. Always with a catchy name (it’s not the taste that sells these). Think of them as the redneck cousin of the pousse cafe. They are not ordered one at a time, but by the tray, usually by fratboys or those who wish they were fratboys.

Unfortunately, we can’t take credit for the Avengers (Canada trends much more DC than Marvel), that record-obliterating hommage to spandex underwear perverts. So we’ll consider this a hands-across-the-border kind of thing: a roundup of Avengers-themed shooters.

Notice the Black Widow is mysteriously missing. That’s okay, there’s a quite palatable cocktail by that name: just mix one, and pour it into four shotglasses. Instant shooters! Today’s woman doesn’t sit around waiting to be included in a shooter roundup: she just goes out and links herself up a stiff drink.

Now, the roundup, from EXP Bar Online on Tumblr. According to them you must do these in order: Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Hawkeye, and Hulk. Have the ingredients well chilled in advance so they layer nicely.

Captain America: Doctor Erskine was going to share blueberry schnapps with him, but he couldn’t have it. Also due to his advanced tissues on his organs can’t get drunk. Hence this shot is the weakest.

Iron man: Tony stark has battled on and off with alcoholism so his tolerance for alcohol is high hence the high proof rum, yet he tries to not drink hence the grenadine to dilute the alcohol.

Thor: He is a god. He drinks after battle and can handle his alcohol, yet human alcohol seems to affect him more hence he is the middle.

Hawkeye: Just a normal human with unbelievable accuracy with all fire arms, bow being his weapon of choice. (p.s. Unlike the trailers we here at EXP bar on line do support Hawkeye and think he is bad ass)

Hulk: He’s the hulk, as he so eloquently has stated in the past. “HULK AM THE STRONGEST THERE IS!!!!!” hence he is last.

So there you have it the avengers shot challenge. enjoy.

And the recipes (for all these drinks, you build it in the glass, pousse-cafe style. Although if you call it that, someone will puke on your shoes.

Captain America: Grenadine, Blue curacao, Blueberry schnapps

Iron Man: Grenadine, Blue curacao, Black heart spiced rum

Thor: Wild turkey American honey, Citrus Vodka

Hawkeye:  Grape Pucker, Captain Morgan: Tattoo

Hulk: Grape Pucker, Absinthe (we used NV)

Enjoy?

Iron Man Shooter

Iron Man Shooter

Vodka vs Vodka vs Vodka

It's crystal clear, my dear Watson

Well, we had a half an hour of really amusing video (funny that, a vodka tasting and giddy video) but the tech gods decreed it was too powerful for this world and thus, erased it from our videorecorder (it had NOTHING to do with our own intake of vodka, we swear).

Undaunted, we are prepared to report on the blind taste test between the Polish potato vodka Luksusowa, and the Canadian vodkas Iceberg and the significantly more expensive Crystal Skull, repped by Canadian Celebrity (that’s not a misnomer!) Dan Akroyd.

The clear winner: Luksusowa. And not just because I had to pry it out of my unnamed friend’s hands at the end of the evening.

The rumour has always been that Iceberg vodka, which is inexpensive, is the same exact elixir as Crystal Skull vodka, which is the opposite.

This, my friends, is not the case.

What is the case, according to a taste test at Eat Drink Tweet, a wine and food social media conference?

Iceberg is better than Crystal Skull. So save yourself about $40 a bottle and get the cheap stuff.

The crowd favorite, however (and here I wish the video had come through, for it is PRICELESS) is Luksusowa. After the first round of tasting, in fact, people changed their seats to be closer to this Polish potato elixir, although it must be said, only people of Eastern European extraction.

iceberg vodka

iceberg vodka

Luksusowa is softer in the mouthfeel than any grain-based vodka, and the rep (who, full disclosure, sent me the bottle for tasting; I paid for the others) explained that potato vodkas are more expensive to produce than grain vodkas, but that the more complex carbohydrates, otherwise known as starches, are what account for the smoothness and roundness. You could mix this, and it would make any drink better. But for me, if I were to do shots of vodka in the traditional manner, this would be my choice. Yes, it’s strong, but my god, it’s silky too.

Iceberg, as I have mentioned in the past, is my favorite mixer vodka. It’s an excellent meeting of quality and price. In the blind tasting, every tester (and we are talking about people in the business of tasting, wine producers and retailers) guessed that this was the more expensive vodka. The reason was, its smoothness and its flavourlessness.

Crystal Skull vodka, however, is not without its adherents. Retailer Rod Phillips explained that it’s a top seller around Halloween, when the company comes out with an extra-large decanter. Frat boys and their decorators apparently favour the 1.5 liter size, something Phillips described as “an expensive candle holder.” Still, awesome.

The tasting notes on Crystal Skull are somewhat less complimentary. Uniformly, the testers described it as either medicinal or antiseptic. This reflects, Phillips says, the split in vodka schools between the flavoured and the “stripped of flavour” super-filtered varieties.

The victor of the taste test was Luksukowa, with Iceberg pushing second, and the most expensive entry coming in a distant third, with not one vote. Oddly the next day there were no leftovers of the first two for sober comparison and contrasting.

Luksukowa

Luksukowa

The Keefer Bar is a Keeper

Keefer Bar by Cathy Browne, on Flickr

Keefer Bar by Cathy Browne, on Flickr

As Vancouver Chinatown bars go, the Keefer Bar is absolutely #1, and not just because it’s the only one: manager Danielle Tatarin is Bartender of the Year in Vancouver Magazine. If you know anything about the Vangroover booze scene, you’ll know that takes serious talent and originality.

How much originality? We’ll let Dani explain it:

Our menu is influenced by Traditional Chinese Medicinal ingredients that we incorporate into classic style cocktails. Some of the most prominent herbs that we use are Yun Zhi mushroom and astragalus root. This year I have been studying more on TCM and getting a deeper understanding of it. I am working with some really interesting combination of ingredients for tinctures that are meant to help detoxify the kidneys and liver.

Last night I just started a tincture that combines sea dragon, sea horse, cordyceps, lemon and bitter orange. It should be ready in a couple months and I am excited to see how it tastes. For me I have really embraced natural remedies, and as a sufferer of seasonal allergies I hope this year to not have to take antihistamines because I have been working with TCM ingredients to boost my immune system over the last year.

You might think that sounds a little…medicinal. And you’d be right, but you’d be wrong if you think that means it isn’t tasty. When I visited with my friend, intrepid photographer Cathy Browne, there were plenty of flips and creamy drinks on the menu, including several which played on an opium theme.

Opium Drink at the Keefer Bar

Opium Drink at the Keefer Bar

You can see the poppyseeds on this beauty, which was called something like The Flaming Opium Pearl of the Black Dragon or something similarly subdued, and which tasted, like most of Dani’s drinks, subtle, complex, and not very sweet.

The decor is medical, by which I mean they have backlit panels of body scans and apothecary jars everywhere, in use. Fitting for a place where you can give your liver a workout and a healing tincture at the same time. It’s only about ten feet wide, and on Thursdays there is a burlesque show on their tiny (TINY) stage up front, but it is a beautiful, esoteric little gem. The unique drinks mean you can’t always be sure you’ll love what you order, so do talk to the bartender about what you’re thinking of ordering; it’s not always easy to tell what’s sweet, light, savory, or rich from the menu.

Can’t talk about the food: I don’t come here for the food. But you can see the current keefer_menu here (PDF!). The service has never been anything less than excellent, and I don’t know what you look like but I’ll just tell you right now, they are all out of our league.

Pictured below, and starting off our slideshow of fabulousness from Cathy Browne, is the Lavender Sidecar, an aromatic, very light Spring version of the old favorite. Lemons in this case, not oranges (which I prefer with brandy by the fire around Christmas time).

Bonus Sunday Food Porn: Tanqueray Cake

Tanqueray cake

Tanqueray cake

I want the recipe for that! For too long have the unholy duo of rum and brandy enjoyed a baking hegemony. Equal recipe rights for clear spirits! Solidarity in Booze!

Wait…what? What do you mean it’s not actually made with gin? The cake is a lie???

THIS cake, a gin and tonic cake, is real. And, apparently, delish. I’m no baker but if I attempt this, I shall report back.

Two Word Reviews: San Miguel Gin

San Miguel Gin

San Miguel Gin

NEVER AGAIN!

Drinks with Friends

Blue Bee Bar

Blue Bee Bar


It’s always nice to hear from an old friend, and we’re sure you remember our old friend Matt Stache, he of the dangerous implements and dashing decapitations (of Champagne bottles). He chatted with us on Twitter last night about the Gimlet recipe and passed along a handy tip for making an easier-to-mix and incidentally better-for-you bar sugar.


@ Sounds like a delicious gimlet. I’ve got a secret trick for making honey more soluble in cocktails and less “mouthy” #Chemistry
@mattstacheband
Matt Stache


@ heat 1 cup of water. dissolve 1.5 cups cane sugar + 0.5 cups honey. Use half as much as normal bar syrup (since it’s 2x sweet)
@mattstacheband
Matt Stache


@ The addition of sugar and water to the honey bar syrup makes it dissolve more readily in cocktails w/out solidifying #science!
@mattstacheband
Matt Stache


@ Absolutely! Also, try adding 2 vanilla beans to a bottle of vodka for 2wks. Pour off 1/2 cup then add 1/2 cup “honey syrup”
@mattstacheband
Matt Stache


@ That is, remove 1/2 cup from the bottle and add 1/2 cup syrup to the bottle. Haha. Not 1:1 vodka and syrup.
@mattstacheband
Matt Stache


@ Exactly. Less is more. Mixing the resultant liqueur 1:1 w/ coconut water yields an amazing beverage. Dangerously tasty.
@mattstacheband
Matt Stache

Cheers!

Lego Ice Cubes!

Lego Ice Cubes

Lego Ice Cubes

Sumer is icumen in indeed, and it will be much more enjoyable once I have these geek chic Lego-Inspired Ice Bricks Tray. Wintery drinks are anything but whimsical, while summer is just the time for something light, pretty, and a little bit more ridiculous than anything you’d allow yourself to enjoy during the dark months. Think of summer drinks as the Britney Spears to your usual Cure cocktail.

[GOD I’M OLD]

Here’s a simple, pretty, easy drink that I have never known anyone to turn down: the Gimlet. It’s still a classic, and will still empower you to look down your nose at all the vodka tonic drinkers; vodka tonic is just another way of saying “I like to get drunk, but I don’t like to drink.” If you like the taste of tonic water (and we do, God knows, love the taste of tonic water) then drink tonic water and shut up about it. Save sixty calories a pop, minimum.

Where was I? Right, Gimlet. You can do these with Rose’s Lime Cordial and we won’t make you sit in the corner, but they’re better with fresh limes. Fresh limes that must be juiced for every drink have a way of telling you when you’ve had enough, too, which is a quality to be prized.

2 oz gin, preferably Plymouth or Bulldog. Something balanced or slightly on the vegetal side. Tanqueray would work. Beefeater would work. Bombay and Hendrick’s are too floral#

1/2 oz fresh lime juice*

1/4 oz simple syrup. You won’t be able to use sugar for this, even if you shake it*

#can be replaced with vodka. It’s vodka, it doesn’t matter what kind as long as it isn’t flavoured and isn’t so bad it takes the roof of your mouth off. Iceberg is what I use for blended drinks. If you use rum, this is a Daiquiri. Put the blender DOWN!

*can be replaced with 1/2 to 1/3 oz Rose’s

Put them all in a shaker filled with ice and shake it. Strain into cocktail glass. If you’re sitting in direct sunlight, it is permissible to leave the ice cubes in, and even top with soda. Garnishing a drink this colour is overkill, but if you must, you can add lime. I like a thin wheel floating on the surface.

Do not use the 4 oz or “stick it in a freezer overnight” recipes from Wikipedia. They are abominations. If you need a drink with 4 oz of alcohol in it, you need a defibrilator. Either it’ll get warm before you finish it or you will fall off your barstool, and then we will laugh at you.

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