Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Silence of the Auctions

To suggest it has been quite some time since I have formally gathered my collective thought for a post would be as much an understatement as 'things can get busy as a first-time parent'.  Yes, time for contemplative insights on spirits and cocktails has taken a backseat over the last several months to bigger things in life...most notably, the design/development process related to our new home, and custom lower-level bar!  Tho in all seriousness, life has picked up quite a bit with my family recently taking on the requisite steps to wrestle the balance of power from myself to the female contingent...  As I am now outnumbered, I've in all likelihood seen my last days on the throne (or tho I shall portray).  All that said, among the laundry list of things on which to focus in the new year...getting back into the swing of routine posts.  And since there is no better time than the present, consider this one a warm-up.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Fire It Up...

For this month's Mixology Monday, we get a full fledged free-range theme of Fire, compliments of the wonderful Muse of Doom from Feu De Vie.  As so described...

Tiki-philes have their
flaming spent lime shells and scorpion bowls. Classic cocktailers have the magic of a flamed orange zest. Molecular mixologists have their Smoking Guns. (and yes, frat boys have their flaming shots.) Even brunchtime drinkers have spicy Bloody Marys. You don't have to go full Blue Blazer, not nearly -- heck, you could go full Fireball Whiskey! (or Fire Rock Pale Ale, etc..) You could riff on the Old Flame or come up with an inventive name of your own. You could even use a good firewater or burned wine. (and if you're grilling fruit, save some for me, will ya?)

Monday, June 17, 2013

Cheers to Cherry

Cherries, while great on their own, are better (in one form or another) when part of a cocktail.  Thankfully, Andrea leads the charge with just such a cherry MxMo theme as described on her blog, Gin Hound:

Singapore Gin Sling, Blood and Sand, and the Aviation wouldn’t be the same without them… But cherries in cocktails are also horribly abused, few things taste worse than artificial cherry aroma, and the description of how most maraschino cherries are made can make you sick to your stomach. So it’s my pleasure as the host of Mixology Monday… to challenge you to honor the humble cherry. However you choose to do that, is entirely up to you. You could use Maraschino Liqueur, Cherry Heering, Kirchwasser, Belgian Kriek Beer, cherry wine, or any spectacular infusions invented by you in a cocktail. Or make your own maraschino cherries for a spectacular garnish.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Thyme for MxMo

Along the the warm(er) weather that accompanies most of us into the month of May comes Mark from Cardiff Cocktails with his herb-inspired theme for this month's MxMo, Witches' Garden, as described:

As far back as we can look, the use of fresh herbs have been prevalent in the world of mixed drinks. From the early days of the julep, through Williams Terrington’s 19th century Cooling Cups and Dainty Drinks, to Don the Beachcomber’s ahead of their time Tiki drinks, fresh herbs have always been at the forefront of mixology. So lets take influence from the bartenders that once ruled the world of mixology, raid your herb garden that too often gets neglected, and start mixing. I don’t want to put too many limits on this theme so get as creative as you please, want to use roots, spices or beans as well? Sure thing. Want to make your own herbal infusions or tinctures? Sounds wonderful.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Beet It

For this month's Mixology Monday, host Rowen of Fogged In Lounge tapped into the health conscious minds of cocktail enthusiasts when he put forth the following descriptor for his theme, Drink Your Vegetables...

Want to get more vegetables but you’re always eating on the run?… Well then, how about a vegetable cocktail? No, not that nice little glass of red stuff Grandma put at each place setting—we’re talking something with a kick in it. You can definitely start with the little glass of red stuff and expand it to a Red Snapper-style drink like a Bloody Mary. Or how about a cucumber-scented cooler like a Pimm’s Cup, or maybe a cocktail featuring a vegetable-based ingredient like Cardamaro or celery bitters? Maybe you’ve been wondering if you can get more mileage out of that juice extractor before consigning it to the garage sale. However you get them in that glass, be prepared for the most fun with vegetables ever.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Bacon...Take Two

Around rolls April and once again, I welcome the challenge to create another bacon-inspired cocktail worthy of submission to the Baconfest Chicago 2013 Best Bacon Cocktail Challenge.  At the helm, of course, is long time Baconfest contributor and head mixologist Mike Ryan of Sable Kitchen & Bar...the rules, as follows:

Monday, March 18, 2013


For this month's Mixology Monday theme, in steps Scott Diaz of Shake, Strain & Sip ..... He throws out a very interesting concept, as so described in his post..

"The evolution of the cocktail has been a wondrous, and sometimes, frightful journey.  From its humble beginning, to the "Dark Ages" of most of the later 20th century, to the now herald "Platinum Age" of the cocktail,  master mixologists and enthusiasts alike have elevated its grandeur using the best skills, freshest ingredients and craft spirits & liqueurs available.  But with all this focus on "craft" ingredients and classic tools & form, it seems we have become somewhat pretentious.  The focus on bitter Italian amari, revived and lost ingredients such as Batavia Arrack or Creme de Violette, the snickering at a guest ordering a Cosmopolitan or a Midori Sour; has propelled us into the dark realm of snobbery. Many scratch bars and Speakeasies have gone as far as to remove all vodka and most flavored liqueurs from their shelves.  Some even go as far as to post "rules" that may alienate most potential imbibers.  Remember, the bar was created with pleasing one particular group in mind: the guest.  As such, this month's MxMo LXXI theme, From Crass to Craft,  will focus on concocting a craft cocktail worthy of not only MxMo but any trendy bar, using dubious and otherwise shunned ingredients to sprout forth a craft cocktail that no one could deny is anything less.  There are a plethora of spirits, liqueurs and non-alcoholic libations that are just waiting for someone to showcase that they too are worthy of being featured on our home and bar shelves.  So grab that bottle of flavored vodka, Jagermeister, cranberry juice, soda, neon colored liqueur, sour mix or anything else deemed unworthy of a craft cocktail, and get mixin'!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Smoke 'em if you got 'em

Valentine's Day...that typical time of year when flowers abound, chocolates are gifted, and other gifts of questionable significance are gobbled up by the masses in celebration of unity.  What a waste.  Why not do something unique and non-traditional to distinguish one year from the next?  For sure, it is a challenge, but one well worth taking on in my opinion.  And yes, the same goes for the cocktail.

Perhaps one of my favorite uses of grenadine in a cocktail is reflected by the Jack Rose, essentially an apple brandy sour with lemon juice and grenadine, first published in William Boothby's The World's Drinks and How to Mix Them (1908).  It is a fantastic combination of boozy apple with a crisp citrus finish, the grenadine adding a distinct fruity sweetness.

Monday, January 21, 2013


Yes it is the middle of Winter in Chicago.  Yes I, like many, have a preference for brown spirits and cocktails composed from such during these cold, light-starved days.  And yes, I have been staring at an unopened bottle of Lillet Rose on my shelf since mid October.  While the wind chills here in the Midwest might not be screaming, 'mix me up a Spring-influenced aperitif cocktail'...this month's Mixology Monday, graciously hosted by Chemistry of the Cocktail spurred me to think otherwise.  As proposed by Jordan...

Fortified wines began, in large part, as a way to deal with the difficulties of shipping wine long distances in the holds of sailing ships. Without the rigorous sterilization that is possible today, wines would often spoil en route. However, increasing the alcohol concentration to around 20% ABV was enough to keep them from going off. Coincidentally, this also made it possible to age those wines for very long periods, increasing their richness and depth.

These wines held an important place in the ur-cocktails of punch and have continued on in cocktails proper, the personal punches of the past several hundred years. Though less common nowadays, sherry, port, and, to a lesser extent, madeira and marsala, all find their way into various mixed drinks.

For this month's Mixology Monday, I'd like to see what you all can do with these versatile wines. They can play many different roles - from taking the place of vermouths in classic drinks, to providing richness and sweetness in winter tipples, to serving as a base for lighter aperitifs. Whether forgotten classics or new creations, let's see what you can put together.