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St. Patrick’s Day the Right Way

March 7, 2014

I love this day.  It is a day of celebration of all the contributions that the Irish brought and contributed to America.  St. Patrick’s Day is now celebrated in Ireland from tourism pressure, it was previously a religious holiday.

There are some things that I don’t care for when celebrating St. Paddy’s.  The stereotypes of drunken debauchery,fighting along with the obnoxious display of clothing promoting this kind of behavior.  It’s  like wearing a big Afro wig on MLK day.  Just not cool.

There are some right ways to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day that honor the spirit of Ireland and show respect for all the things that this wonder culture has to offer.

One of them is whiskey making.  The Irish (and Scottish) settling in the Appalachian regions were the first to bring whiskey making to the U.S.  Let’s take a look at where they learned it.  Irish whiskey in the U.S. was limited for many years to the two big names (you know them) but in the past few years a plethora of new products have swept into the market elevating this spirit category to and pushing Irish Whiskey to the forefront.  Most Irish whiskies we’ve seen in the past were blends, but nowadays the are many amazing simgle malt Irish whiskies that truly showcase the Emerald Isle’s ability to make great craft spirits as well.

ImageTake Knappogue 12 year for instance: triple distilled single malt aged in bourbon barrels. Pale gold in color the elegantly light whiskey stands on it’s own with hints of spice and fruit.  Along side this one is Knappogue 14 year Twin Wood.  This amazing little beauty is also a single malt that is aged in a combination of bourbon and oloroso sherry barrels.  The sherry barrel and the extra two years adds a smoothing depth to the juice with being overpoweringly sweet and truly showcases their motto “Passion for Perfection”

Now if by chance you are like me and have to make everything into a drink, give Clontarf 1014 and  Celtic Honey Liqueur a try.

Irish Kiss

  • 2 oz Clontarf 104 whiskey
  • 3/4 oz Celtic Honey Liqueur
  • 1/4 oz dry vermouth
  • 2 dashes Whiskey Barrel Bitters

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass and stir with ice.  Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garish with lemon twist.

So this St. Patrick’s Day celebrate what is good and true of Ireland.

Clear Ice At Home and Arctic Chill Ice Molds

March 5, 2014

Ever wonder why the ice you make at home is cloudy and the ice you get in a bar is clear?  There is reason for this.  Ice machines used in your local watering hole are typically made from filtered water and made in sheets meaning the water is in a constant flow over the vertical trays which pushes out air.

But do not fret as you can make clear ice at home.  Here’s how:

First start with a good filtered bottle water.  Pour the water into a sauce pan and bring it to a boil.  let cool to room temperature then boil it again. After the water is cooled a second time pour into your ice mold or tray and place in your freezer.  If you are using ice trays, cover loosely with plastic wrap to keep the circulating air away from your water.  Also only fill your trays about 3/4 in each compartment because the water will expand as it freezes.  Wait 24 hours and your ice is ready.

arctic chill icePersonally I like ice molds.  I have a few different ones from 1 1/4 in squares to big ice ball molds when drinking spirits on the rocks. Recently I discovered Arctic Chill’s Ice Ball Makers.  These large 2 1/2 inch diameter spheres melt slower than conventional ice and though some dilution is desired, regular tray ice simply melts too fast for my preferences (save them for mixing).  They silicone material seals well and do not leak like some I have used.  Once I open one I immediately fill it back so to have ice the next day

When using these ice mold, be sure not to fill them completely full leaving about 1/2-3/4 inch of room fro expansion.  Because these mold are blue, it is a little tough to see exactly, so I simply fill them with a funnel then pour off about an ounce of water.

Arctic Chill Ice Ball Makers are available on Amazon for $9.99 for a pack of 2, are dishwasher safe and carry a lifetime guarantee.

Enjoy your next “on the rocks’ experience and give Arctic Chill a try.


Irish True Full Version

February 26, 2014

Irish True

February 26, 2014

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……..

Facebook1_400x400Then 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.

Really??? YES!!!

fb ad2Tullamore DEW calls its new ad campaign “Irish True”…. and that is exactly what it is.

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!!

Ocean Vodka: Now this is worth trying

January 25, 2014

These guyocean-vodka1s 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.

Ocean arielBut 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

Arctic Chill Muddler

December 19, 2013

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.

ImageArctic 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.

Coquito: Discover Puerto Rican Eggnog

December 10, 2013

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!


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