Vieux Carré Cocktail

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  • My Rating: B- (an enjoyable sipper)

A couple of days ago a friend asked me where she could find a bottle of Peychaud’s Bitters. Sure enough I found a place that sold it but minutes later another request for Bénédictine Liqueur popped up. In a rare flash of brilliance + with the help of those Google-targeted ads I discovered that a certain someone had a craving for the 1930s Vieux Carré cocktail (meaning “old square”, named for the French Quarter in New Orleans). Since I hadn’t made one before I thought I would give one a go; Thus, my attempt at a much beloved classic invented by the head bartender of The Monteleone Hotel in New Orleans, Walter Bergeron. Here is an great article written by Brian Quinn at foodrepublic.com, where he explains that this is a sipping cocktail, made with the build techinique. Rushing into it as usual, I made mine incorrectly using a Boston shaker. Below are my proportions:

  • 30ml Ri rye whiskey
  • 30ml Cizano Rosso sweet vermouth
  • 30ml Hennessy Black cognac
  • 5ml Bénédictine DOM liqueur
  • 2 dashes Pechaud’s bitters
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • garnish with lemon slice + cherry

Reaction: This is quite similar to a Manhattan, but I like this much, much more. Firstly it’s more palatable and there’s a nice balanced complexity that is present here, especially after 15 minutes where the ingredients have the time to meld together. Initially I get the rye grain + Bénédictine sweetness, and then comes the cognac vanilla + oak, and finally the vermouth spices and bitter herbals at the finish.

Final notes: I agree 100% with Mr. Quinn that this is a sipper, and a superbly enjoyable one at that. The first sip has the boldest caramel flavours, and as time goes on the sweetness and spices take the driver’s seat. One negative aspect of this drink is having to acquire 6 ingredients + a lemon and cherry. But IMO, this one is worth the effort to make.

 

Olympic (Brandy-based cocktail)

Olympic (Brandy-based cocktail)

-45ml Brandy (St-Remy)
-45ml Orange Curacao (Henkes)
-45ml Fresh OJ (Australian naval)

Notes: sweet brandy backdrop with orange on the forefront. Much better mixed together than drinking separately. C+.

Grape Vodkas Prelims

Grape Vodkas

(Read the updated 2013/Aug review here! My palate has changed since.)

Overall Ranking:

  1. Skyy Infusions Grape, (obsolete)
  2. Three Olives Grape, (obsolete)
  3. Smirnoff twist of White Grape, D-

1) Three Olives Grape, 35% ABV, (Lawrenceburg, Indiana)

  • Rating: (obsolete)

Tasting Notes (all at room temp): slightly syrupy mouthfeel, 6/10-level sweetness, grape is muted and mostly in the background hiding behind the warmth of the vodka. Grape flavour is candi-esque and more like a grape soda than from the grapevine. Has an aspartame-like roughness.

2) Skyy Infusions Grape, 35% ABV, (San Francisco, CA)

  • Rating: (obsolete)

Tasting Notes: intense “juicy” grape + vine flavour right off the bat, sharp 6/10-level sweetness in the mids, not as warm as Three Olives but much flavour. Ideal as a mixer or even as a shot. Great depth of flavour

3) Smirnoff twist of White Grape, 35% ABV, (Norwalk, CT)

  • Rating: D-

Tasting Notes: less syrupy than all the rest, huge alcohol impurity + 8/10-level sugar rush from the start mixed with an unauthentic white grape flavour andbitterness, tingliness on the tongue, nasal burn and gag reflex. Avoid.

Cocktail from skyyinfusions.com:

Grape Ginger Swizzle

  • 1.5oz Skyy grape vodka
  • 1 teaspoon raw sugar (turbinado)
  • 4 blackberries
  • 4 slices of peeled ginger
  • top with ginger ale (about 1.5-2oz)

Direction: Muddle, strain (or double-strain), serve in a low-ball glass with ice and garnish with a blackberry-candied ginger (Reed’s bought at Save-on)-blackberry skewer.

  • Rating: B+

Tasting Notes: Excellent drinkability, good freshness, ginger flavour is well-balanced and sweetness level is expertly controlled. Definitely one to memorize and serve to the ladies.

Boomsma Jonge (Young) Genever Gin, 40% ABV (Holland)

Info from wiki:

  • also know as Jenever, a juniper-based spirit from the Netherlands and Germany
  • used to be distilled from malt wine, with juniper and other herbs added to mask the yucky flavour
  • split between two types oude (old) and jonge (young)
  • jonge using grain spirits while oude using malt wine, etc

My Notes:

  • My Rating: C
  • Why I kinda like it: mixable not sippable
  • Where I got it: BC Liquor Stores
  • How much: $30, 750ml
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: No, prefer the depth of gin
  • Would I recommend this to gin afficianados: No

Tasting Notes (straight, room temp): pours with extreme clear purity. Strong juniper and tickles and numbs the nose. Thicker than water viscosity, immediate warmth in the mouth and in the tongue, which then quickly travels up the nasal cavity. 3/10-sweetness level, mainly juniper, and then the flood of warmth and 7/10 alcohol burn.

Cocktail recipe from the Boomsma website:

Young & Fresh

  • 35ml Boomsma Jonge
  • 25ml Melon Liqueur (used Midori)
  • 5ml fresh lemon juice
  • 5ml simple syrup
  • 1/8 Cantaloupe (next time will try honey dew)

Tasting Notes: (Rating: B) intesting combo of melon, gin and cantaloupe = tangerine-like flavour and smooth but on the salty side due to the cantaloupe; otherwise it’s a good balance of freshness, sweetness, mellow drinking, and citrus. Will try with a honeydew melon.

Manhattan Cocktail

Manhattan

Ingredients:

  • 2.5oz Bourbon or Rye (I used Rye)
  • 0.5oz Sweet Vermouth (Red, I used Rosso)
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 1 Maraschino cherry for garnish

Directions: Shake, double-strain and garnish

Rating: D (below average strong alcoholic classic cocktail, causes a gag reflex 1/4 through) (above recipe is NOT good, need at least 25% vermouth, see below)

What is happening to the ingredients: The spiciness, tip of tongue tingle, and warming effect of the rye is negated by the sweetness of the sweet vermouth, creating a more smoother drinking experience. The Angostura bitters adds a bitter finish to round out the drink. Can’t say I like this drink. I like the characteristics of the rye and the bitters by themselves. Individually tasting the sweet vermouth I can say that it is the culprit that is ruining the drink. Must retry with a different and NEWLY OPENED bottle of vermouth.

Re-tasted 7/14/2015 with IBA Official Recipe

  • 5cl rye whiskey
  • 2cl sweet vermouth
  • dash of angostura bitters
  • cherry garnish

Notes: This time I muddled 6 fresh Ranier cherries, shake & strain, garnish. Very smooth now with almost 50% vermouth; more spice, bitterness, and the alcohol comes last. Rating upgraded to C+. Here’s a fantastic article on how to make a good Manhattan.

Pomtini (Pomegranate, Orange, Vodka)

  • 1.5 oz Vodka, the sweeter variety such as Iceberg, Russian standard, or Rain
  • 1 oz pomegranate juice = 1/2 fresh pomegranate, juice pressed from the arils
  • 0.5 oz orange juice =1/2 small orange

Tasting Notes: This cocktail has an eye-catching opulent orange/pink colour, deceptive semi-sweetness (it looks candy-sweet), and citrus-fruitiness. It’s nice as an apertif, and could use a bit of pomegranate liqueur to make it a digestif.

Fung Shui

-1st prize of the Giffard Challenge 2007 (from the Giffard website)

Ingredients:

  • 3cl Banane du Bresil (Giffard)
  • 2cl Coconut liqueur (subbed Whaler’s Coconut Rum for Cocogif)
  • 2cl Mangue Tropic (Giffard)
  • 2cl 18% fat Cream

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients to a shaker, shake until hands are chilled.
  2. Double strain
  3. Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg (my twist)

Rating: C (I needs tweaking)

Tasting Notes: Too freakin’ sweet – as expected since 3/4 ingredients are liqueurs. An interesting combo of a creamy coconut banana followed by a sweetened mango finish. Need to mellow out the sugar rush/alcohol aggressiveness 1 second into the sip. Very potent, buzzed 1/2way thru.

Ideas:

  • egg white
  • housemade roasted coconut rum
  • sub housemade mango cachaca for mango liqueur

the culprits