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Posts posted by Yojimbo

  1. Heights Chateau on Atlantic. They also had some NY distilled rum but otherwise had nothing of interest. Also tried a shot of the Clement Homere at Mainson Premiere. It was just in an tumbler, not a glencairn, but it did nothing for me.

    Tried to get to Astor Wines as they seem to be restocking their upper end rums but time didn't allow.

    Where's your go to in DC lately?

    Yeah, HC is better known for wine than for spirits, but they have a decent general stock, and better prices than some of the newer, more hipster-inflected liquor stores in the area.

  2. My first batch of rock and rye is nearing the bottom of the bottle, and while I can always dump more Rittenhouse on top, I'm thinking of giving a bottle of Jack Daniel's Rested Rye (hey, it was a gift, not my choice!) the rock treatment to try and deal with the weird banana flavor in it.


    I recall I used a combination of a recipe from Imbibe and one from LeNell Smothers, both of which are online, but instead of horehound (not my fave) I used a sprig of anise hyssop, which worked nicely.


    In looking up the recipes again, I found a whole bunch online; no two alike, yet not a lot of variation among them.  I would think this is a worthy line of experimentation, given the range of spices (cinnamon, clove, star anise, etc.) and fruits (orange, lemon, cherry, apricot, even prune) that go into them.


    Anyone gone the homemade route recently, or has Hochstadter's and Dr. Katz's taken over?

  3. A few years back I mixed up a cocktail for a school fundraiser (nothing increases auction bids like alcohol consumption):  blended scotch, cardamaro, allspice dramm, lemon, topped with apple cider.  It worked well, and I always turn to my bottle of cardamaro when the weather turns colder, because it plays well with apple brandy as well as scotch.


    Anyone else using it this season?  What else are you mixing it with?

  4. I must have been making my martinis wrong.... Whoops.

    Adam, far be it for me to suggest anything remotely close to the concept of the single, sole "right" way to mix a martini!


    As a fellow Cocchi fan, though, I thought I'd through out my go-to recipe for pto to try, with the notion that he might be willing to add the trad version to his personal pantheon of martini variants.  Let a thousand Martinis chill!

  5. When I heard "rhum", I thought, like others, "rhum agricole", which led me to think of the most macho (is this less gendered than "manly"?) Ti Punch:  a spoonful of cane syrup, rhum, and a squeeze of a coin-sized slice of lime rind.  No ice.


    But Appleton V/X?  That's a nice Jamaican rum.  Try it with ginger beer (please, not supermarket ginger ale) and the above-mentioned lime squeeze and f*$k the people who say you can only mix ginger beer with Goslings.  Now that the weather's turning colder (depending on where you live), fix yourself a hot buttered rum.  Try it in a Navy Grog a la PDT, with lime and grapefruit juices and a little honey syrup.


    And lastly, go to a decent tiki bar and order something with Jamaican rum and a whole bunch of other ingredients and some outlandish garnishes, preferably on fire, and then, if you're not hooked completely, you have my blessing to stick with whatever you were drinking before you began your descent into the rabbit hole of mixology.


    We're all mad around here, you know.

  6. I'll go even further, and in both directions (is that proof of impending schizophrenia?):


    on the one hand, bitters of various sorts can really add punch to the flavor profile of a classic drink, particularly when you're swapping out a base spirit for somethind different and add, say, some mole bitters to a mezcal manhattan, or throw in grapfruit bitters to anything with campari.


    That being said, there are times when I dash in angostura or Regan's orange #6, both of which I love dearly and apply with a heavy hand, and end up feeling like I've highjacked my simple G & T. 


    Bitters are the spice cabinet of cocktails:   used properly, they bring out the best in an underlying recipe; used in excess, they can sometimes take over a drink -- and sometimes the difference between the two lies in what mood you (or the customer) is in.

    • Like 2
  7. It's a bit strange: if a bottle of a given liquor is almost empty, I'm motivated to finish it off. But if there's just a little more than a little left in it, I'll tend to avoid using it and to make drinks with things from the more flush part of the inventory. So ostensibly I'm thinking about clearing bottles out of the bar, but in practice I'm winding up with a ton of bottles that are hovering just above the tipping point. 

    Kindred Cocktails is great for inspiration, and I use the "Suggest" feature to make my to-try list. 



    I do the exact same thing. I think for me it stems from a feeling that if I finish off a bottle too quickly, I will probably run into a cocktail I really want to try with that ingredient later.


    Other than that foible, I keeping a running list of cocktail that I want to try and usually go by this. I also keep track of what I have tried with ratings so I can revisit these when I am in the mood. It can be a lengthy process, sometimes choosing a drink takes longer than making it.



    I try to finish bottles that are close to empty but I don't worry about trying to save some for the next cocktail unless it is something pretty rare. I have found they will generally sell you more of it if you ask!



    Ah - Allgoneophobia strikes again!


    Nailed it!


    This behavior causes me to end up with too many kitchen sink cocktails designed to use up or finish off various bottles, rather than something that actually tastes good.


    And because we're all a bit OCD here, I'll further diagnose the various categories of the disease:


    I'm finishing this almost-empty bottle because it's:


    1.  Not a keeper, and I need to open up room in the fridge/liquor cabinet for something new or better;

    2.  Maybe a keeper, but I want to try another in the same category before I decide;

    3.  Definitely a keeper, and if I finish it now I can buy a whole new bottle real soon and not have to suffer from Allgoneophobia for at least a month/week/ couple hours;

    4.  Any of the above, and I can use it as an excuse to buy something under the "one out, one in" rule, plus one or two other items I've been meaning to score.

    5.  Because it's what I want to drink tonight.  (Rare)


    I'm not finishing this somewhat empty bottle because it's:


    1.  One of my greatest joys in life, and therefore far  too good to actually drink except on special occasions;

         a.  Rare, Delicious, Smuggled from Abroad and/or Expensive, therefore ditto.

    2.  A big mistake, but god forbid I should throw it out or give it away, maybe I can mix a batch of something with it for a big party?

    3..  One of the cocktail ingredients that I'm supposed to have on hand, even though I don't like it that much;

         a.  because it's a classic (Creme de Violette)

         b.  because it's hot right now (mezcal, although in fairness if I had been able to score one of the awesome bottles I tried in Oaxaca before the rest of the family selfishly became ill, it'd move right up to category 1 above)

         c.  because it's too strongly flavored/overproof/full o' da funk to mix with unless I'm feeling very manly (Fernet, W & N, Lemon Hart 151, Smith & Cross, etc.)  N.B. I use "manly"  here in a totally stereotypical and non-gendered sense.

    4..  Not as who should say awful, just not the first, second, or third thing I reach for, but I'll get around to it one day, honest;


    and lastly and most importantly;


    5.  because I've totally blown my budget already and my spouse/S.O./roommate/dog will disown me if I come home with another G-D bottle.

    • Like 2
  8. For whatever reason, Ive found that I much prefer Cocchi Americano in place of dry vermouth in almost every recipe Ive tried(Martini, 20th century, Ford cocktail, Scofflaw, etc). The other day, I made a martini for a friend, not telling him about the substitution(2.5 Beefeaters, .5 Cocchi, stirred). He said, unsolicited, it was the best Martini he'd ever had. Btw, the only dry vermouth avalable where I live is Cinzanno and M&R.  Also, how does Bianco compare to Cocchi, is its 1/3 the price.


    How much of a crime is it to use Cocchi instead of dry vermouth?

    Funny, I've also been playing around with my bottle of Cocchi lately, along the lines of white Negronis, pink Negronis (subbing Cappelletti back in for Campari but keeping the Cocchi in for the Lillet), etc.  I do find too much Cocchi and the orange/honey profile takes over everything else, I'd be curious to hear people's experience with the Bianco.


    If you really enjoy your Cocchi Martini variation, do NOT under any circumstances score a bottle of Dolin Dry, do NOT make the Martini 2-1, and do NOT add a dash or two of orange bitters to the result.  Just don't do it.

  9. 1 1/2 each of Ransom Old Tom,  Martelletti vermouth, and Cappelletti, stirred, with an orange twist.  Doesn't get much simpler, or better.



    And on a side note, Hassouni, since I followed your and Rafa's recommendation on W & N to jet-propelled happiness, what's your take on Alto del Carmen?


    I bought a bottle on Spliflicator's recommendation in Imbibe, and while it does offer bang for your buck, I wasn't rocked.  Time to revive a Pisco thread?

  10. Finally decided to see what Hassouni's thing for WNOP was all about, bought a pint.  Had to teach tonight, so I couldn't do a cocktail, but it went sort of like this:  I took a small shot, got the rocket fuel comparisons right away, and then this burnt caramel flavor memory kept popping into my head for the rest of the evening, along with a voice from the base of my brain saying, "yeah, it was raw, can we try that again?"  Daiquiri tomorrow.

    • Like 2
  11. Cherry Heering's probably the closest match for whatever they add to SoCo, but for a different taste sensation, one of the folks at Death and Co., I believe, updated the amaretto sour by adding bourbon to the recipe, and I can attest that bourbon and good amaretto make good partners, so long as you don't mind the extra sweetness.


    The LI iced tea?  No way to make that taste like anything special!

  12. My favorite is a cocktail I tried at Bourbon and Branch a year or so ago, that they call the "Agent Smith".



    Tzatziki, is there a garnish on this?  I first tried it with a full oz. of Punt e Mes, but I'll try your original ratios next.  This is a nice one!

  13. Thought I'd open up a new thread to showcase some deplorable mistakes I've been making and drinking recently -- 'fraid my brain's rather addled with work lately (and grading exams will kill of the few remaining bits of gray matter).


    Applying Edison's dictum that failed experiments offer the useful information of what doesn't work, I put forth the following:


    1.  Yesterday I came home craving bourbon, and dropped 2 oz. of Wild Turkey 101 and 1 oz. of Cardamaro into the mixing glass, added a dash of absinthe for fun,   Then turned to the fridge and saw that I was all out of lemons.  Too late to turn back, I thought, and squeezed half a precious lime into the drink, and topped it with a slug of homemade Swedish Punsch.  Stirred with ice, it was not good.  Odd dry flavor.  Poured in about a teaspoon of cinnamon simple.  Better, but definitely not even the sum of its parts.  


    Moral:  if anybody's thinking of mixing bourbon and lime, think again, unless you're following a well-balanced tiki recipe. 


    2.  Today I thought I'd do something with Dolin Blanc.  2 to 1 Beefeater to vermouth, then threw in a half ounce of Royal Combier, which adds a little orange/dry spice note that works very nicely with white spirits.  A heavy dash of Angostura orange to up the orange flavor without adding sweetness.  Then insanity took over and I added 1/2 ounce of Galliano, maybe as part of my desultory campaign to finally kill off the bottle.  Ice, stir, strain, and lemon twist. 


    Not exactly awful, but the nuanced nature of the Royal Combier was clubbed to death like a baby harp seal by the Galliano, and neither worked very well with the sweet gooseberry profile of the vermouth.


    Moral:  (aside from "never experiment when you're exhausted?")  Dolin Blanc is too delicate to mix with anything assertive in any amoutn over a barspoon full.


    OK, who else is willing to go public with their shameful failures?

  14. Issues of additives aside, which I will leave to those with greater knowledge, I find this thread interesting for two things:


    1.  I don't know that I'd put Blackstrap in the same category as other dark rums, even before I knew about added flavorings, just based on the flavor profile.  I wouldn't use it the same way in most cases, either.  I do enjoy Blackstrap as a float in tiki drinks, punches, and even as a primary rum in some recipes, because of the overpowering molasses flavor, though I understand why others may run from it.


    2.  It seems that the never-ending debate between "authenticity and purity above all" and "I like the way it tastes so who cares" is coming to the forefront here.  While I do think think this forum should promote factual research, clarity in approaching categories and tasting qualities, and helping folks develop an educated palate, I see little point in bashing someone's rum choice if they've tried other similar ones and settle for their own particular pick, based on price and taste.

    • Like 4
  15. Has anyone tried some of the barrel aged gins that are out there? I'm wondering what it adds to the gin, and how would you use it?

    This should probably become a separate thread, because it's rapidly becoming a category of its own. 


    I tried NY Distilling Co.'s Chief Gowanus neat and in a cocktail:  to me it's like a less in-your-face version of Anchor Steam's Genevieve.  My best recollection is that it's smooth, somewhat malty, spicy, but with less paint thinner elements. 


    I heard good things about Smooth Ambler in general, and their Barrel Aged Gin in particular, and got a chance to try it and buy a bottle recently.  In the store, the bouquet was just awesome:  heady juniper and spice notes jumping out of the glass.  It's even closer to a whiskey in profile than the Chief Gowanus, both in the way the rye base came through, and the heavier oak flavors from the barrel. 


    Neither has taken the place of my beloved Ransom Old Tom, which, even though it's technically a different animal, arguably helped jump start the whole aged gin movement.


    Mixing with aged gins is something I find a bit tricky, since they don't fit easily with the standard London Dry pairings, but need tweaking to sub for brown spirits-based recipes.  I'd love to hear of any experiments done by others, and will probably continue conducting my own tonight.

  16. God help me if every new gin introduction out there starts selling minis -- I'd have to try them all, and my liver would go up in flames.


    A year or so ago there was a lot of hype about the reintroduction of Tanqueray Malacca, it was "the gin to mix with."  The fact that the only place I see it is on the shelf at Astor Spirits suggests you can't always trust the hype, but it hits the profile of, "tastes a little floral, less juniper."  Anyone tried it recently?

  17. If you're going for the greatest diversity, you could also look into Irish Whiskey, which is almost as popular as vodka at the moment -- Redbreast, Tyrconnell, or one of the older bottlings from the big distillers are all good options.

    Japanese Single Malts are a whole world unto themselves: complex, refined, and unpeated, I don't know enough to make recommendations, but you probably can't go wrong with anything from Yamazaki or Suntory.

    And for something completely different, there are two French single malts: Brenne and Armorik Breton; the first is almost like the love child of scotch and a fine cognac, the second I haven't tried.

    It sounds like a blast, be sure to report back!

    • Like 2
  18. The name is legendary . . . . the expectations were high . . . . the taste was . . . somehow disappointing? Am I the only one who was underwhelmed, and isn't sure what to do with this stuff?

    It's kinda like a weird hybrid between a sweet and a dry vermouth -- it's sweeter than a regular dry, it's more floral and less earthy/spicy than a good sweet, and it doesn't even have the gooseberry notes of Dolin Blanc. I've tried it on the rocks, with gin, in Martini, Negroni, and other variations on other classics, and it just doesn't fit any of them.

    I'd be happy to hear otherwise, but at this point, the Italians can keep the other bottles to themselves and not bother importing them, and it pains me to say so about anything with the Carpano name on it.

  19. I like the Bijou variant, mentioned earlier in this thread, that calls for dry vermouth rather than sweet and yellow Chartreuse rather than green. It makes for an herbal, lightly sweet Martini variation, or a dryer Alaska.

    I tried something like this last night; slightly more Beefeater gin than Carpano Bianco and yellow Chartreuse. Despite a nice, long lemon twist, something was missing. Bitters! A hefty dash of Regan's and of Fee's Orange really helped dry it out and, as SamChevre mentioned, balance the Chartreuse.

    I usually don't need a reminder that bitters can really make the difference in a drink's balance, but if I did, this clinched it.

    • Like 1
  20. @Ashen,

    If smoky, peaty malts aren't your thing, I'd try an affordable Highland like Glenmorangie 10 yr., and if you really want to go clean and light, go for another Speyside.

    For me, I will go to my grave carrying a bottle of something Islay, like Lagavulin, or Talisker, or Aberlour, or . . . well, if I'm gonna be in there a long time, I'll want some variety, right?

  21. Been playing around with Carpano Bianco and Byrrh lately, after a totally OCD splurge when Astor had a sale on vermouths and amari . . . . both are "good", but I can't yet say whether I like them enough to keep a bottle around, in addition to all the regular stuff.

    Last night was a Negroni variation:

    1 1/2 Ransom Old Tom (aka "the gin that made me its b$*&h from first sip)

    scant 3/4 Gran Classico bitters

    3/4 Byrrh

    stirred, garnished with a blood orange twist.

    A nice variation, definitely drinkable. I like the spice and berry notes in Byrrh, it's just a bit too sweet for me, despite the quinine finish.

  22. 1 oz. each of El Dorado 3 year, Appleton VX, 1 barspoon each of Luxardo Triplum and Maraschino, juice of 1/2 lime, dash each or Angostura orange and absinthe. Stirred with ice and topped with ginger beer, with a float of Lemon Hart 151 on top. I threw in a sprig of pineapple sage and part of a stalk of lemongrass for garnish, the lemon grass makes a nice edible swizzle stick.

  23. A local store was having a vermouth tasting today, and I jumped at the chance to sample a bunch of new brands that I've read about but never tasted. I thought it worthwhile to throw out my tasting notes while the memory is still fresh, for whatever they're worth, since these are not widely available bottles, nor are they cheap compared to standard vermouths.

    In the house were:

    Atsby and Uncouth Vermouth from the US, Contratto from Piedmont, Italy, and Casa Mariol from Catalonia, Spain.

    Atsby: Adam from Atsby told me he's aiming his two styles a little further toward the middle of the vermouth spectrum, rather than the traditional dry and traditional sweet categories. The Amberthorn, called a "blonde" vermouth, has the dry floral characteristics of a classic dry vermouth -- I believe the grape used is Chardonnay -- but is sweeter, with a warm honey note that leans more toward a sweet vermouth. There's also a slight lavender note that should play nice with gin, though I didn't get a chance to try it mixed. Very sippable by itself.

    I expected to like the Armadillo Cake more, It was unlike an Italian vermouth in profile, but threw out an interesting mix of orange, cinnamon and spice, and bitter quassia flavors,plus a hit of caramel. But it had a weird, almost old-fashioned candy note and waxy mouthfeel that hit in the middle and took me right back to childhood. Anybody ever have these candies that were wax bottles with sweet, syrupy-gummy liquid inside that you slurped as you chewed on the wax? Interesting, but I'm not sure I want to go back to that particular tasting memory.

    Uncouth: Melissa is seriously opinionated about her stuff, in a good, wine-nerd kinda way. She does not use oxidized wine or add sugar to her vermouths, so they drink like aromatized wines rather than what one normally thinks of as a vermouth.

    The Apple Mint had a whole bunch of citrusy herbal components alongside the mint, with a light, very dry base: almost like a drinking vinegar. Very sippable, but I'm not sure what it would mix with.

    The Beet Eucalyptus, which I tried before I heard what it was, had amazing vegetal beet and celery notes along with the menthol from the Eucalyptus; it straddled the line between savory and sweet even more than the apple mint. I was unexpectedly and seriously impressed with it even though beet is far from my favorite flavor, I could see this going over big with anyone who likes making their own homemade pickles and waxes rhapsodic over kombucha, it had a really nice astringency that could be very interesting with things like Pimm's or straight gin.

    The Serrano Lavender was a blast of well-balanced serrano heat and fresh green flavors with the lavender coming on afterwards. It had a honey-like sweetness that Melissa said came from late-harvest grapes. Uh, make that raisin-like sweetness. Really nice, but I can't really call it a Vermouth at all in any traditional sense.

    Contratto bills itself as harkening back to the dawn of Vermouth production, when herbal infusions were added top cover the off tastes of oxidized wines that would otherwise be headed for the drain. They say they are using their original 19th century recipes with a base of Cortese grapes.

    The bianco was like the offspring of a dry vermouth and a citrus-y apperitivo like Cocchi or Lillet Blanc. More viscous in mouthfeel than other dry vermouths, and a tad sweeter, but nicely balanced and complex. It was excellent with a little gin and a twist of orange, as well as on its own.

    The rosso was much more like a traditional Italian, not too sweet. It approached the depth of better vermouths like Punt e Mes or Antica Formula,but without the bitterness or vanilla flavors of the latter.

    Casa Mariol had one product, Vermut Negre, that is produced using a solera system similar to Sherry production, with the oldest barrels hitting 60 years, it's macerated with walnuts as well as herbs. To me it was reminiscent of Madeira as well as Sherry: rich, sweet and nutty, but with an herbal bite to it, perfect for serving with tapas or cheese.

    And as an added bonus, they had another tasting up front of a French whisky: Brenne Estate Cask, It's a one-person operation, and distilled once a year after the barley is harvested. No peat, no smoke, and matured for 5 years in Limousin oak, then finished for 2 years in Cognac casks. I got a lot of vanilla up front, probably from the Cognac wood, along with fruit flavors, mainly apple. Not as complex as a Sherry-aged single malt like MaCallan, but clean, fruity, slightly spicy, with a nice little kick at the end. More of a sipper than a mixer, not a Scotch at all, but halfway between whisky and Cognac. The closest thing I've had to it is the Hitachino Nest distilled ale, not in terms of flavor palate but in lightness and clarity of flavor.

    That's as much as my addled brain can remember, I'm curious to hear from others who've tasted these, and particularly who are mixing with them!

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