Last March I spent two of the most incredible and life changing weeks in Ireland. Yes I was there for St Paddy’s, but that was not the pivotal moment nor even the reason I was there: pure coincidence.
There is something different about Ireland….something magical. The hospitality and general good nature of the Irish is unbeatable (where Southern hospitality gets its roots). The smiles I saw on people’s faces glowed as I toured all around from Dublin, Middleton, Cork, Cobh, Doolin (especially), Glencolmcille, into Belfast and back into Dublin (yeah I left a couple out). The land is beyond any green imaginable, the air is rich, the music made me want to dance like no one was looking, the food was filling, and then there was the whiskey. Everywhere you look there is unsurpassed beauty, and the folks there richly jolly especially for a country that has been through what Ireland has endured, and survived.
The experience was one of great joy for me that changed the way I see myself and the world. My thirst for more was unquenchable and I didn’t want to leave. There was no way anyone could capture this feeling in pictures or nay media……..
Then a couple months ago I was surfing Facebook and saw an ad for Tullamore DEW Irish Whiskey that did the impossible. This 2:34 minute spot did what I thought could not be done. I watched with tears in my eyes as I began to experience the same beauty I felt standing amidst the grassy knolls of the Emerald Isle watching the commercial.
The featured song, “The Parting Glass” dates to the 1850′s and is truly one of my favorites. If you recall, I did a drink a couple years ago named after that song: a drink meant as a nightcap to top of the evening as one departs from friends.and heads to slumber.
I watched this Tullamore DEW ad over and over again and shared it with anyone and everyone near my office. Still now each time I watch it takes me back to a special place in myself I discovered on my travels in Ireland.
So this St. Patrick’s Day season, I invite you to raise a glass to family and friends, to loves and losses and ……to change…..
For more visit Tullamore DEW
The Parting Glass (2 drinks)
- 4 oz Tullamore DEW Irish Whiskey
- 1 oz Sweet Vermouth
- 1 oz Drambouie
- 4 dashes orange bitters
Stir all ingredients with ice and strain into two chilled cocktail glass. Garnish each with an orange twist. This must always be shared with a friend!!
These guys are doing it right! The Smith family lives on the island of Maui and wanted to start a eco-friendly sustainable business that reflected their love and respect for nature, so looking at what their home could offer the created Ocean Vodka.
Ocean is one of the most unique vodkas I have tasted in my career and for many reason. To start the water base is a mineral water mined from 3,000 feet below sea level. It is then desalinated by reverse osmosis leaving all other minerals in the water (potassium, magnesium, and calcium). This imparts an amazingly fun mouth feel and flavor not found in any other vodka I have tried.
Next, Ocean Vodka is a sugar cane based vodka: only one in the world as a matter of fact. This adds a mild and pleasant sweetness to the juice that sets it apart and that I find very exciting.
But the best thing about Ocean Vodka is the efforts of sustainability. The distillery and farm and 100% solar energy run, the cane is GMO free and organic, and it is hand harvested. Natural light fills the offices and all paper and packaging is post consumer recycled. To top that off, the bottles used for Ocean Vodka are 60% recycled glass. THIS, my friends is not only a great vodka, but a company that cares about how they affect the world around them.
Retail price averages at $33.00 and Ocean Vodka is available in 32 states currently. And as soon as New Mexico figures out they need to be number 33, Ocean Vodka will be a permanent addition to Secreto and my home bar
I have used many muddlers in my career; some good, some bad, and some should be banned from existence. When I find a muddler that works well, is comfortable in my hand, and does the extraction work for me, I stick with it.
Arctic Chill is a muddler that does just this! Made from dishwasher safe and sanitary stainless steel with a nylon head,has a very ergonomic feel in my hand and is easy to work with. The ribbed head is unique in that the ribs themselves are big enough to muddler hard fruits but not so rigid that they easily tear herbs. That feature I REALLY liked as many muddlers are kind of all or nothing at all.
Another fantastic feature is Arctic Chill Muddlers come with a lifetime guarantee. Yep is you somehow manage to screw up the stainless steel or if the nylon head gives out, you can get a new one at no cost. That’s a pretty good deal for the price (which by the way is $13.95)
Order yours or one for your favorite cocktail geek from Amazon. And yes you still have time to get it before Christmas.
It makes my skin crawl when I go to research a recipe and punch the name of a drink into my favorite search engine to see what I can find, and BAM: the top 5 pages of a drink recipe is dominated by Sandra Lee, Emeril Lagosse, and a bunch of “made easy” cooking sites. Try it yourself…I don’t blame them or the fact they have better optimization. I blame the cocktail world for not being more diligent and getting the right info out there….myself included
This happened when I began researching the history of a very obscure drink ( big surprise, right?) and found absolutely nothing from the bar community. I know I am not the only person to hear of this drink. I know because I was introduced to it by my good friends Natalie Rivera and Joe Walsh (no not the guitar player). The drink? Coquito aka Puerto Rican Eggnog.
EGGNOG!!!! You think there would be an entire website dedicated to universal variations of this drink. A website telling the tale of this ancient flip style drink with legends and myths and tales of traditions. Or is it just too damn hard to spend 20 minutes making something homemade anymore; that prepackaged crap-in-a-carton is better? Really?
It’s obvious the Spanish and English brought Nogs to the Caribbean and made do with what was available to them and the recipes would then evolve to include local ingredients. We see this everywhere and it is no stretch of the imagination that it happened in the islands as well. In the case of Coquito coconut milk, cream and /or water became involved…….then again so did Condensed and evaporated milk.
“Puerto Ricans LOVE that shit!”‘ Joe exclaimed when I asked him about it. Another brick wall.
Now the Homemade Coquito that Joe and Natalie gave me was OUT OF THIS WORLD!!!! Natalie is from a Puerto Rico, and the bottle of Coquito they passed along followed her family’s recipe. I would never dare ask for it but they did let me in on a couple of secrets that I then worked into a recipe to share. And yes, I did not escape the evap or condensed milk as these work in substitution for sugar. Besides, Like Joe said…….
- 1 14 ounce can Sweetened Condensed Milk
- 1 12-ounce can Evaporated Milk
- 4 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup coconut water
- 4 cups coconut milk
- 1/2 cup cream of coconut
- 2 cups Don Q Gold Rum (the rum of choice in PR)
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon Canela (cinnamon)
- 1/2 teaspoon clove
In a mixing bowl beat the egg yolks to the color of butter, add the salt, canela and clove and continue to beat until full incorporated (otherwise the spices will separate). Next whisk in the condensed milk evaporated milk, the coconut products in the order of cream, milk then water. Finally add the rum. I use my stand mixer and the whisk attachment for the whole operation, and yes the bowl gets full quick!
Bottle and refrigerate for up to 3 weeks. Enjoy chilled without ice.
So enjoy a little twist on your holiday celebration this year and enjoy a little nog from a different part of the world where Santa an elf hat…….he rocks a fedora!
No this isn’t a unknown member of my favorite punk band. And no this isn’t the creator of the Ramos Gin Fizz. Do you remember the old Ramones logo? Look what Billy VanDuyne at Cock Tees NY ingeniously did with it..
I have more booze shirts than I can count, but when I saw this shirt on Facebook, it was a must have item. And being a lover of The Ramones and The Ramos Gin Fizz I thought the play between was the most creative and imaginative shirt I ever saw.
The T shirt is soft, fits well, and is available for purchase for $25 plus shipping via Paypal through the link above ( I bought two!!)
This a a great Holiday gift for any cocktail geek or old punk like myself. Supplies are limited so don’t wait!
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it now; I love Autumn cocktails. This time of year puts some of my favorite-flavors in the forefront of celebrating. Apples, pears, and all the “holiday spices” make me smile as the weather transitions to the cool months of Fall.
For years now I have made it a policy not to publish recipes that were not my own, but Vikingford Vodka came up with one that I had to share. Vikingford is an award winning 5 time distilled potato based vodka from Norway that exclusively uses glacier water.
The recipe caught my eye because of two unique ingredients: Allspice Dram and Apple Bitters. YUM!
- 1 1/2 oz Vikingford Vodka
- 1/2 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
- 1/2 oz Allspice Dram
- 1 1/2 oz Sparkling Apple Cider
- 1 dash BAked Apple Bitters
Combine all but the sparkling cider in a shaker with ice and shake. Strain into a Old Fashioned Glass filled with ice and top with apple cider. Garnish with an apple slice.
(This recipe also can work in bulk as a punch style)
There are ca couple of commercially made Allspice Drams (also called Pimento Dram) and one Baked Apple Bitters, both of which are easily searchable. What in intrigued me about this recipe is I had just made a homemade Allspice Dram, and make Apple Bitters at Secreto. The bitters take time so go ahead and buy them online at your favorite bitters supply place but let’s make the Dram…..
- 2 cups good dark rum
- 1 cup water
- 1 1/2 cups brown sugar (if you are REALLY daring use sucanat sugar)
- 1/2 cup whole allspice
- 1/2 cinnamon stick
combine all ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a very soft boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Cover the saucepan and let sit at room temperature for at least 12 hours. Strain, bottle and refrigerate.
Happy Season and Celebration!
There is no absence of malice when it comes to understanding absinthe (absinthe of malice….?). In fact I hear more wives’ tales, misconceptions, and some just flat-out propaganda that rivals the crap that almost got absinthe banned worldwide.
WORMWOOD AND THUJONE
Absinthe is an herbal liqueur that originated in Switzerland and is named from its primary herb Artemisia absinthium aka wormwood along withanise, fennel and many other herbs. Wormwood like many other plants contains a chemical called Thujone. Thujone is a Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) inhibitor meaning that it blocks GABA receptors in the brain and in extreme doses can cause convulsions. Other herbs that contain thujone are oregano and sage.
No absinthe in the history of the world has contained enough thujone to inhibit brain function! I mean it! But we will get back to this in a minute
STYLES OF ABSINTHE
There are three basic styles of absinthe:
Swiss is the original as I said, then there is French and Czech. Swiss is a milder balanced style where the anise flavors are not as prominent. French is typically more anise forward and colored green and tends to be a sweeter in flavor. Czech “absinth” is artificial and should be avoided as is it usually just high-proof booze with macerated wormwood only and not a distilled as traditional absinthe. It is more like bitters actually. Czech or Bohemian “absinth” even drops the “e” from its name. Whether that be a language thing or an omission to dodge European regulation try to stay away from any bottle of absinthe without an”e” on the end.
HOW TO DRINK
Again three ways to do this:
Absinthe lends itself to high-proof and is intended to be watered down, and some sweetened with sugar. Why add sugar to a liqueur? Well keep in mind in absinthe’s hay-day, the average palate preferred their drinks sweeter than we do today. Also wormwood like many other herbs and in turn bitters, liqueurs, and spirits were prescribed by pharmacologist and traditionally one would take their medicine with sugar and water (remember what Mary Poppins taught us?)
The absinthe “ritual” is the same between Swiss (Suisse) and French with one exception.
Take a fluted glass and on top of the glass place a slotted spoon (Absinthe spoons are remarkably similar to julep strainers……I did say medicinal!). Atop the spoon place a sugar cube, however depending on the sweetness of your chosen absinthe and your personal taste, sugar may not be necessary (the ones I have at home are 1/2 sized cubes for this very reason). But let’s go with the sugar for now. Pour one ounce of absinthe over the sugar cube into the glass. Now here is where we distinguish styles. For Swiss style you would now ignite the absinthe soaked sugar cube to caramelize the sugar. For French leave you lighter in your pocket. One is neither better or more proper other than maybe matching the style of drinking to the style of absinthe. Next is cold water. You can buy an Absinthe drip that regulates the speed of ice-cold water dripping over the sugar cube or you can do what I do at home and use an old pint bottle with a pour spout.
Now its time to watch. Your absinthe will begin to change, morphing from its clear, pale or green self into a rich milky goodness. This is called the Louche and mystically referred to as releasing of the Green Fairy. The louche is the release of the essential oils in the absinthe and will tell you many things about the quality and flavor of your absinthe. Depending on the proof of you absinthe anywhere from 3 to 5 ounces of cold water should do you.
The third style of absinthe prep, oddly comes from our Czech friends. And it is called “the Huff” or “Huffing Ritual’. Take a glass that you can fit your palm over. Pour absinthe into the glass and ignite the absinthe itself. Wait about 20 seconds the cover the glass with you hand tightly which will create a vacuum between your palm and the glass. Lift the glass o your mouth between your thumb and forefinger. Break the seal, huff the fumes, then drink the shot. You see a pattern forming here? This, like Czech absinth, is designed for a single purpose and that is not the appreciation of a spirit. Not saying I haven’t participated in the style of drinking before.
REAL ABSINTHE IN THE U.S.
Yes it is real. Remember the thujone thing earlier? Absinthe contains anywhere from 5 to 35 parts per million (ppm) of thujone. Even the stuff pre-prohibition was around this amount. In 2007 the U.S. began allowing absinthe to be imported that they consider “thujone free” which is 10 ppm or less. Some, however, would have you think that free means zero, and the more thujone the better the absinthe (wanna guess who…?). Again there is not enough thujone is any absinthe to set off your GABA receptors.
SO WHY DO I FEEL DIFFERENT DRINKING ABSINTHE THAN OTHER BOOZE?
Well specifically with absinthe it is probably the anise either green and especially star anise along with the other herbs that make up the flavor. remember herbs have medicinal qualities and between the distillation process and the louche enhancing the essential oils, we are taking in stuff that affects the body differently than other spirits.
There are other liqueurs that affect the body as well: Chartreuese, Ouzo, Sambucca, and Jagermeister to name a few.
ABSINTHE AND HALLUCINATIONS
Nope. Not at all. Again this is leftover propaganda from a hundred years ago where teetotalers and the temperance movement published “facts” stating that absinthe was more addictive and dangerous than opium. Add this to extreme examples of heavy alcoholism in people like Van Gogh, Picasso, and Hemingway, and you got yourself quite a smear campaign!
Later I shall share the story of the history of all these little myths, but for now sit back and enjoy a great absinthe cocktail.
For more info how absinthe please visit