Friday, March 30, 2012

Cabin Fever Cocktail Challenge

As the majority of these past few weeks in Chicago have been exceptionally warm for the month of March (temps in the 70s/80s vs historical average in the low 40s - apparently referred to as 'season creep' among climatologists), it is fitting to have recently come across the 'Cabin Fever Cocktail Challenge' sponsored by Drinking In America.  As described on their site:

Spring has arrived and we’re ready for a toast to the season. This month’s challenge is to create the ultimate springtime drink. Give us your best recipe for kicking the last of this cold weather to the curb...

All entries must be submitted by March 28th before 5:00 pm EST. From there, Mike Cerretani, bartender at Bitter Bar, will judge the recipes. He’ll be looking for overall creativity based on the following:

  • Best use of flavor/combination of spirits (taste) 
  • Best representation of springtime theme

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Hail The King

I love ginger.  The aroma, the spice, the slight hit of heat...and the way that it matches well with so many other flavors.  As a result, in the early stages of building up my collection of spirits and liqueurs, a bottle of the ginger profile was a necessity on the list.  And while it took a little longer than planned, I finally secured it.  I spent some time debating between two of the most popular bottles, Domaine de Canton and The King's Ginger.  While both were liqueurs that I had enjoyed in a variety of cocktails, I ended up going with The King's Ginger for a couple of reasons.  Perhaps most importantly, the more mellow and rounded ginger flavor of King's.  True, it lacks the brighter, more pungent, and slightly sweeter profile of Domaine de Canton, but I figured a touch of ginger syrup could help provide that additional fresh kick if I really needed without a bottle of Canton on hand.  Another noticeable distinction between the two lies in their composition.  While both begin with their ingredients in a base of neutral grain spirit, King's distillate of fresh ginger and lemon is finished off by the addition of a single malt whisky (82 proof).  On the other hand, Canton's recipe of crystallized ginger, orange blossom honey, and vanilla is finished with a V.S.O.P. cognac base (56 proof).  At the end of the day, the higher proof King's Ginger had the more straight-forward profile I was looking for, so the decision was made.  And while Domaine de Canton will likely be added to my shelf at some point, there is always the option of making your own version, an endeavor I'm sure I'll be taking on in the near future.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

XXQC - The Sazerac

Simply put...controversy and varied opinions abound when it comes cocktails, be they with respect to origins, recipes, variations, or preparation.  We need look no further than the recent introduction to the 'proper' preparation of an Old Fashioned put forth by Martin Doudoroff at Old Fashioned 101.  While certainly biased by my own views, Doudoroff makes what I consider to be very good points on the ingredients and methods when it comes to this most classic of cocktails, yet as highlighted by Chuck Cowdery, a raging debate was quickly raised by Kevin Kosar.  As far as Kevin sees it, Doudoroff's rigid approach and the New York Times favorable review of his site unfairly cast a shadow on other versions of this cocktail.  All contention aside, I merely raise the issue when reflecting on the relative lack of controversy as it relates to yet another classic cocktail, the Sazerac, perhaps one of the least contentious of the XXQC.