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Posts posted by TexasCocktailGeek

  1. I received a bottle of Faretti Biscotti Famosi liqueur as a gift over the holidays, and I haven't the slightest idea of how to use it up. It tastes exactly like biscotti cookies, but is unbelievably sweet. I tried a Sidecar-ish variation with it (along with cognac and lemon juice), but I wasn't exactly blown away. If anyone has any ideas, I'm all ears!

  2. Did you taste the Cherry Heering straight? It should have a deep, rich black cherry flavor.

    I did, and there was certainly some cherry to it, but a lot of what I tasted was tea-like (tannic?). I don't have the most refined palate in the world, so take that with a grain of salt. And maybe that's just because it's black cherry, rather than artificial red cherry flavor.

    I'll roust it out and report.

    Thanks! I'm looking forward to figuring this out.

  3. A while back, I bought a bottle of Cherry Heering from a liquor store that was closing down. I'd never tried it before, and at half price, I couldn't pass it by. The bottle didn't appear to be very old (no tax stamp or anything), but the cork was in fairly poor condition. It sat on my shelf for a little while, and I tried it in a few drinks in which it played a very minor role. I didn't think anything was amiss, but I'm a bit of an amateur, so...

    Tonight I brought out the bottle to try out a Singapore Sling, which I've never tried before (either at home or at a bar). I used Dale DeGroff's recipe, but I've gotta say, the results were pretty underwhelming. Kind of like an alcoholic, slightly-tropical iced tea. The color was pretty terrible too: a funky-looking brown.


    Here's the bottle, a glass with a splash of the Cherry Heering in it, and my poor excuse for a Singapore Sling. So, can anyone tell me, does the Heering look right? I'm pretty sure the Sling doesn't (and yes, I know I'm missing the garnishes). Any suggestions?

  4. Picked up my first bottle from Spec's on Smith Street last night, and made an absolutely awesome Corpse Reviver #2 with it! I laughed out loud when I got to the shelf at the store - someone had taped a note there reading "Egulleteers: your long wait is over!"

  5. The other night I had (what I thought was) a really excellent bourbon cocktail:


    The Undertaker (from Misty Kalkofen of Drink, Boston)

    1/4 oz Cynar

    1 1/2 oz Eagle Rare 10 Year

    1/2 oz grapefruit juice

    1/2 oz Grand Marnier

    orange twist garnish

    Mellow, bourbon sweetness elevated just a bit by the grapefruit and just a pleasant hint of bitter. A new favorite for me.

  6. It's warming up here in Houston, so I thought a few summery cocktails would be appropriate.

    pisco dichotomy.jpg

    (sorry about the blurriness)

    On the left is my drink, the False Dichotomy (from Bobby Heugel at Anvil in Houston):

    2 oz Flor de Cana Extra Dry rum

    1 oz lemon juice

    3/4 oz Sonoma Syrup Co. Lavender Simple Syrup

    egg white

    lemon twist

    Angostura bitters misted over half the drink

    On the right is my wife's drink, a Pisco Sour (using Gary Regan's recipe):

    2 oz ABA pisco

    1 oz lemon juice

    1/2 oz 1:1 simple syrup

    egg white

    Angostura bitters mist


  7. (Hope it's okay to bump an old thread.)

    A friend from out of state asked me to send pictures of my liquor collection, so I took a few shots, and I thought I'd share them here. I don't think my home bar/liquor "cabinet" is very well organized, but it suits our purposes.

    We bought an Ikea shelving system to give us more storage space when we moved into our current apartment (galley kitchen, yuck). We now keep most of our plates, bowls, pots, pans, and specialized cooking equipment on the shelves, and my wife swears that we'll never go back to closed cabinets. I love the open shelving too.

    We keep our champagne & wine glasses hanging upside down, and below the bowls and plates (not visible in the pics, sorry) are our cocktail glasses. Most of my bar equipment is in the sink at the moment, so it's not visible either.

    in situ.jpg

    Those horizontal bars that are holding our pans are actually Ikea towel racks that have been screwed into the shelving top.

    As far as organization goes, it's mostly by height and ease of retrieval, rather than by spirit family or by name. My collection is small enough that I don't have much trouble finding what I need quickly. Here's what it looks like all laid out:


    I didn't include the multiple vermouth bottles in the fridge, the limoncello in the freezer, the leftover vodka from making the vermouth, or my eye-dropper bottles of absinthe, maraschino, etc.

  8. Drinkupny.com typically carries Alpenz products and ships to TX (despite their website's pronouncement to the contrary).

    Thanks, bmdaniel. I admit that I'm a bit leary of running afoul of the TABC's rules against shipping liquor to Texas, but you're probably right that it would work out fine. I think I'll just keep up my vigil at Smith Street till it gets here. It sounds like from eas' post that it won't be much longer.

  9. As soon as my recipe is perfected I'll report back on exact proportions.

    Hi Katie,

    Speaking of proportions, I was looking at the online beverage menu for Oyster House, and I was especially intrigued by two of the drinks listed there:

    Morningstar (Hendrick's gin, Lillet, orange bitters, flamed orange oil)


    Saloon Keeper's Daughter (rye, Luxardo Maraschino, housemade grenadine, lemon)

    I hope it isn't inappropriate for me to ask this here, but would you mind sharing the proportions of those drinks? They sound great, and I'd love to try recreating them at home.

  10. My cocktail of the evening was the Ideal:

    1 1/2 oz Aviation gin

    3/4 oz Martini & Rossi sweet vermouth

    1 tsp Maraschino liqueur

    1 tbsp fresh squeezed grapefruit juice

    grapefruit peel garnish

    Quite nice - just bitter, sour, and sweet enough for my liking. I can't remember where I found these proportions, though they're very nearly the same as Harry Craddock's version.


  11. Fantastic narrative, Chris. Thanks so much for sharing it.

    My approach to alcohol has been a bit different. My first memory of alcohol is when I was about 7 or 8, and my best friend and I were playing at her house. Her father brewed his own beer, and he gave us each a sample of it (not more than a half-ounce each) to try. You can imagine our reactions - we spat out the bitter liquid, yelled "Yuck!" and immediately went off in search of Kool-Aid. I think that initial experience pretty much inoculated us against underage alcohol experimentation. In fact, thinking back on it, I wouldn't be surprised if my parents had put her father up to it!

    Maybe as a result, unlike most of my friends, I never drank at all in high school, and I was introduced to beer and wine only in my senior year in college. I was an EMT/firefighter in a small town at the time, and if I'd had any alcohol at all, I was forbidden to respond to 911 calls. So, being the adrenaline junkie that I was, I mostly opted for the calls instead of a glass of wine or beer.

    My then-girlfriend (now wife) and I enjoyed the occasional glass of wine with dinner after we graduated, and that was really the extent of it. We might have gone through a bottle of wine every couple of weeks - it seemed like the wine would often turn before we could finish it, so we made a lot of pasta sauce! I also enjoyed making my own six-packs with fairly obscure single beers at Cost Plus/World Market. Alcohol was an accessory for dinner or dessert. In fact, the only bottle of liquor we had for many years was a fifth of Arrow (yuck) kirsch, which we used for fondue a couple of times a year.

    When we moved back to Texas, I was hired at a medical school to conduct grant-funded health promotion research. The first project I worked on was designed to train primary care resident physicians to identify patients with risky (i.e., binge) drinking behaviors. The residents could then perform a brief counseling intervention themselves, or refer the patient to a specialist for further management. While working on the project, I interviewed lots of patients, and lots of doctors, and I became very aware of how common risky drinking or binge drinking could be. The most interesting thing I learned (and something that Chris alluded to in his narrative) was that a 'standard' drink means different things for different people. For some, it's a shot of vodka; for others, it's a 6-oz glass of wine; and for others, it's a 40-oz of MD 20/20. Having 3 drinks at a sitting means something very different in each of those cases. (For those who'd like to see the 'official' drink definitions from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, part of the NIH, click here.)

    It's sort of strange to me that it was only after working in alcohol research that I became interested in cocktails and cocktail culture. My parents were mostly wine people when I was growing up, though I guess my father had a dusty bottle of Johnny Walker Black in some forgotten corner of the pantry. But 'hard' liquor was mostly foreign to me. I'm not sure what sparked my interest, but when I first walked into Spec's in Midtown here in Houston and looked at the sheer volume and variety of their products, I had that kid-in-a-candy-store feeling. Thinking back, I'm a little embarrassed, because the first bottles I bought were cloying, sicky-sweet liqueurs: Hiram Walker Creme de Menthe & Creme de Cacao, the requisite bottles of Bailey's and Kahlua, etc. My tastes ran to the dessert-y stuff, to the point that my sister (who was far more experienced in the realm of booze) refused to go out and have a drink with me for fear that I would order a chocolate martini or something ("bitch drinks," in her words).

    A turning point came when my wife got me the Rob Chirico's Field Guide to Cocktails, and I finally read up on other spirits and some of their history. As time went on, I cautiously dipped my toe into brandy, then gin, then tequila. I found some other books (such as Ted Haigh's Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails), which were both more useful and appealed to my appreciation of historic customs. My collection of spirits grew, and the Hiram Walker went down the drain. My wife found a set of beautiful cocktail glasses, I got my first Boston shaker, and I fell in love with the Sidecar. I found eGullet, and read Erik's Savoy Stomping thread cover-to-cover. I took my first trip to Anvil (and had a Sazerac!), and I started keeping a journal, recording every cocktail I made (ingredients, proportions, and my thoughts).

    Today, I have a variety of spirits, bitters, bar tools, glasses, and books, and I'm sure I seem a bit obsessive to my friends and family. I'm not sure if it's a result of my mostly (though not oppressively) dry upbringing, my research in alcohol abuse, or just that first bitter sip of beer, but I'm still a one-cocktail-a-night guy. Like a lot of people who have commented on this thread, I've come to really enjoy the ceremony and authenticity of cocktails. A cocktail once or twice a week can be really special - it's something I like forward to, since it's not part of daily routine for me. And yes, there are times that I worry about alcoholism and addiction. But for me, that sense of ceremony, coupled with my obsessive note-taking and journaling about each cocktail, seems to hold my drinking my drinking in check. The day that I wake up and realize that it has become routine is the day I will bid it adieu.

    As Sandy and Blair mentioned upthread, there are lots of resources on alcoholism and addiction out there. Here are a few that I'd recommend, since there's a good bit of research and evidence to back them up:

    Thanks again to Chris and to everyone else for keeping this interesting thread alive!

  12. At Anvil's anniversary party last night, I enjoyed the following (along with fantastic bourbon-sauce pizza and a great meat/cheese plate):

    Vieux Carre

    1 oz rye (Rittenhouse BIB, I think)

    1 oz Pierre Ferrand cognac

    1 oz sweet vermouth (didn't get a look at the bottle)

    1 bar spoon Benedictine

    2 dashes Angostura bitters

    2 dashes Peychaud bitters

    lemon twist

    Last Word

    1 oz Citadelle gin

    1 oz green Chartreuse

    1 oz Luxardo Maraschino

    1 oz lime juice

    I didn't quite finish the second one, though not because it wasn't tasty. Excellent drinks, and a fun way to celebrate my favorite bar!

  13. My wife and I did a brief Ward Eight comparison last night, and here are our thoughts.

    Believing that the Ward Eight requires both orange juice and rye, I settled on two variations that stick to those ingredients. Specifically, I used Dave's recipe:

    2 ounces rye

    1/2 ounce lemon

    1/2 ounce orange

    1 teaspoon grenadine

    To compare, I used a recipe from Cocktails+, which in turn was adapted from Gary Regan's The Joy of Mixology:

    2 ounces rye whiskey

    1 ounce orange juice

    1 ounce lemon juice

    grenadine (to taste)

    The main difference, as you can see, was the proportion of juice to whiskey. In both recipes, I squeezed the citrus myself, and I used 1 teaspoon of Sonoma Syrup Co.'s grenadine (I'm out of homemade stuff at the moment). My rye of choice was Rittenhouse (standard, not BIB, sadly; Spec's has been out of it for a while).


    The difference the proportions made was substantial! We both much preferred Dave's version (the slightly darker one on the right side in the pic) - we found it to be well-balanced, with good interplay between the orange and the rye; the lemon provided a little zing, but wasn't overpowering.

    The Regan recipe, on the other hand, was absolutely dominated by the lemon. The rye and the orange faded into the background, and the grenadine was just gone. I'm guessing that in order to use that recipe, you really do need a high-proof rye to fight that amount of acid. I might try it again when I get my hands on some BIB, but for now, I'm sticking with Dave's version. I'm adding Janet's version to my to-make list as well.

    It's pretty neat to see what a big difference an ounce of juice (as well as ingredient choice) makes! I have a fantasy of doing a big comparison of the eight Aviation recipes I have...someday...

  14. They're fantastic. Glass or crystal? And how many ounces?

    Glass, as far as I can tell. One thing I've seen in a few of them is a very tiny air bubble in the glass matrix. That suggests to me that they didn't cost much to produce, but I could be wrong.

    They hold 3 ounces with just a hair of space left, which helps keep me from spilling Sidecars all over my wife when I hand them to her.

  15. As an iPod Touch user (read: addict), my go-to app is Cocktails+ (based on CocktailDB) - the quality of the recipes, searchability, favorites, and glossary functions are particularly useful to me. I've also downloaded Tiki+, which is by the same author/software team, but focuses instead on tiki drinks from Don the Beachcomber and Trader Vic. I haven't used it as much as Cocktails+ since I'm just not much of a tiki guy.

    For cataloging my own recipes and others I've picked up, I've been using an app called Tag Notes. It has a very simple note-taking interface - you create a new note, type in your recipe, and then it's displayed in the list. The killer feature is the ability to tag the notes, so I can give each recipe a tag for each major ingredient. Then you can browse by tags in a similar way that you can browse in Cocktails+ (select a tag and see all the recipes associated with it). My beefs with Tag Notes are that 1) there's no search function, 2) notes are fixed in order of date of creation, and 3) tags must be typed in manually each time.

    I also keep a journal with tasting notes in the iPod's built-in Notes app, but it isn't tagable, searchable, or favorite-able.

    Does anyone else use an iPhone/iPod Touch for cocktailian purposes? Any recommendations?

  16. Here are a couple of pictures of a set of cocktail glasses my wife found at an antiques/oddities shop here in Houston. Each one holds 3 ounces to the brim, which makes them the perfect size for the classic and vintage cocktails I'm learning to love (thanks to Erik Ellestad and the Savoy Stomping crew!). I don't think they're very old or very rare, but we enjoy them quite a bit. Incidentally, we found a picture of a very similar glass in Ted Haigh's Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails (Deluxe Edition) on page 262.

    Does anyone recognize these or know anything more about them?



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