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A_Gonzalez's Profile

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"I like to really curate my herbs"

http://www.marketmenot.com/smirnoff-v...

I saw this Smirnoff ad and got a kick out of it, so I figured I'd share. Though somehow I don't think a mixologist with such fancy pants would be using vodka in his deconstructed martinis.

May 14, 2014
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Dark and Stormy - Ginger Beer Challenge

My favorite brand of ginger beer, for mixing or to drink on its own is DG Jamaican Ginger Beer (I live in a neighborhood with a lot of Caribbean people, so you can get it at pretty much any grocery store).

I like it, because it has a spicy flavor and not just a hot ginger taste with some sugar on top the way some ginger beers do (though the ginger flavor is still bold and upfront).

From what I understand, DG also distributes Old Jamaica Ginger Beer, though I'm pretty sure they're different products. I must investigate now...

May 13, 2014
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Martinis!

I'm aware of the story, though in the version I heard he was a businessman.

They reference it in an episode of Mad Men (or accidentally retell it) when one of the characters, getting drinks for a potential client and himself, asks for "a Jim Beam, and a glass of water with an onion in it."

May 05, 2014
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Martinis!

I spent most of this winter drinking either 2 oz Tanqueray to .75 oz Dolin dry vermouth and 1-2 dashes orange bitters, or 2 oz Tanqueray to .5 oz Dolin dry vermouth and .25 oz Cocchi Americano, and 1-2 dashes orange bitters.

Preferably with an onion or five. All hail the Gibson.

May 05, 2014
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Long-forgotten cocktails

I've been seeing them all over the place lately here in New York.

Apr 29, 2014
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"Chopped" This Drink -- strawberry basil vodka tonic

Looking at those ingredients, it sounds like you're looking to make the sort of semi-sweet refreshing drink that folks in New York drink out of mason jars at the trendy dressed-down brunch places that I can't afford to eat at.

...wait, what was I talking about? Oh, right. I mean, I think with those ingredients, the sort of drink you're going for is kind of self-explanatory--the sort of thing where you'd muddle maybe six chopped strawberries with a couple of basil leaves with one and a half or two ounces of vodka, shake that with ice, dump the whole thing in a mason jar and then top that off with two or three ounces of tonic water.

If I were making something like that I might also add three quarter ounces of lemon juice, and then possibly sugar, the amount depending on how sweet the strawberries are. I might also try playing around with different base spirits than vodka--tequila, for example--to see if there's anything that might add something a bit more to the drink and pull it all together.

If I wanted to go crazy maybe I'd try making a strawberry basil syrup, and going syrup + lemon juice + vodka/whatever + soda water, with amounts varying based on how sweet the syrup is.

But overall, I think what you're working with, in combination, is limited and straightforward enough that you can probably find your favorite iteration of the drink you're looking to make by experimenting until you find what you like best. Other than overdoing it on basil, as Dan mentioned, it's not the sort of thing where you're likely to accidentally make something you'll find undrinkable, so that's probably the best approach.

Apr 13, 2014
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"Martini Madness" indeed :(

I'm not sure what one would so desperately need a way out of, when calling a glass by a name, that they'd need a shortcut.

Like, a Martini is an actual cocktail, calling another cocktail a Martini is confusing. Glassware is routinely named after common drinks that are served in them, and calling a cone-shaped stemmed glass a "Martini glass" is less ambiguous than "cocktail glass."

Isn't being able to name a kind of glass without requiring too much thought a good thing?

Mar 04, 2014
A_Gonzalez in Spirits
1

"Martini Madness" indeed :(

I feel like "Martini glass" is the stemmed equivalent of saying things like "Old-Fashioned glass" and "Collins glass" to refer to different kinds of tumblers. You don't use them only for those kinds of drinks, but it's clear shorthand.

I think it's especially convenient now that it's fashionable to use champagne coupes as cocktail glasses. "Martini glass" is less ambiguous in reference to shape than "cocktail glass."

Mar 04, 2014
A_Gonzalez in Spirits

"Martini Madness" indeed :(

At least the Cosmopolitan looks like a Cosmopolitan.

Feb 25, 2014
A_Gonzalez in Spirits

Help with my next bottle of booze

On the orange liqueur front, I'd also recommend Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao. It's not the same as Cointreau, but I think it has more depth of flavor, and you can use it in most drinks that call for orange liqueur.

Jan 20, 2014
A_Gonzalez in Spirits
1

Help with my next bottle of booze

I agree that doing a bit of reading up on cocktails is the best way to make good purchases. When I first started out I found Robert Hess's website http://www.drinkboy.com very useful, since it features a small yet pretty well curated index of cocktails that's easy to browse and search. And many of them have videos attached that explain a lot of the basics of making cocktails in general. Granted, checking out some of the books that have been mentioned would probably be more efficient and thorough. Still, while there are plenty of good resources to choose from, I think you can make the best decisions when you have a clear idea what drinks you'd like to try making with each spirit/liqueur/ingredient you buy before you make the purchase.

What strikes me is that with the spirits you've listed, as well as vermouth, there are plenty of cocktails, you can already make (basic sours, old fashioneds, Manhattans, Martinis, etc.). So if your goal is to learn about cocktails, it might be a good strategy to find cocktails you can already make with what you have, and then branch out from those, gradually adding ingredients. For example, if you enjoy a Martini made with sweet vermouth, then you might enjoy a Martinez, which adds Maraschino and bitters.

I'm going to throw out a bit of a warning, though, which is that a lot of the really good liqueurs that you might want to try if you get tired of sours and vermouth drinks have strong herbal, bitter, or vegetal flavors that can be a bit off-putting on a first try. I think Campari is a great example of that--it can be used in some great cocktails, but because it's so bitter a lot of people hate it when they first try it. (I was actually one of them, but I first tried it after I'd already bought a bottle, so instead of letting it go to waste I kept trying it until I liked it) I'm not saying not to buy them; I'm just saying, keep in mind that some good cocktail ingredients are acquired tastes. So if there are any cocktail bars around you, you might want to try a drink like a Negroni to see what you think before you buy a bottle of Campari.

But yeah, I pretty much agree with the idea of reading up on the basics and experimenting with what you already have to get an idea of what sorts of cocktails you might want to try before heading to the liquor store. I'd say that's the best way to make sure you get the most for your money.

Jan 17, 2014
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Best Ginger Beer for a Dark and Stormy?

I'm just going to dig this up to throw out a recommendation for D&G Ginger Beer.

I've tried a bunch of the ginger beers out there, and I find that most of the time they tend to either have too much heat without enough spice, or they lean too much towards citrus or fruit flavors, without enough ginger.

In Jamaica, Queens, NY where I live you can get D&G at pretty much any bodega, so I started using it just because it was readily available. I know that with its high fructose corn syrup and all that it's never going to be as fashionable as whatever boutique blends are out there, but I think its blend of ginger flavor, sweetness, and spice make it the optimal ginger flavored soda. Tough I'm not sure it's too popular with the cocktail crowd, I think it's excellent in a Dark and Stormy, Rum Buck, Gin Mule, or other ginger beer cocktails.

Jan 09, 2014
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James Bond: Drinking watered-down martinis?

What a coincidence; I just had a Vesper not too long before reading this. I still don't care for them :/

I've heard that Cocchi Americano, another wine-based aperitif, is closer to Kina Lillet than Lillet Blanc is, though I can't say for sure whether it is or isn't. I do prefer it, though.

To be honest, I don't think the flavor of either comes through that noticeably in a Vesper.

I'm with you on not seeing much in a vodka Martini. To be honest, I think chilled vodka on its own can be enjoyable in its own right, since it has a sort of crisp cleanness that nothing else really seems to match. As a gin substitute in cocktails, though, it makes a very underwhelming alternative.

Jan 08, 2014
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Martini Garnishes

I use Angostura bitters, but I'll use an orange peel for a garnish if I have an orange handy.

Now that you mention it, using both Angostura and orange bitters might work; I think I might have to do some experimenting myself tonight.

Jan 07, 2014
A_Gonzalez in Spirits

Martini Garnishes

Those all sound pretty awesome. It looks like there are getting to be so many cocktails that use violet liqueur that pretty soon I might be able to justify buying a bottle of it.

But one question: I always thought a traditional Sazerac was served in a tumbler without ice, and without the peel in the glass? Or is that just a trend?

Jan 06, 2014
A_Gonzalez in Spirits

Martini Garnishes

Bacon and cheese? Are you sure they didn't confuse your Bloody Mary for a hamburger?

Jan 06, 2014
A_Gonzalez in Spirits

Martini Garnishes

Isn't the fact that most people don't have a centrifuge at home all the more reason to feature the sorts of drinks that make use of them at bars and restaurants?

I mean, on one hand I do feel like there are bars that use the "avant garde" angle as more of a gimmick to distract from otherwise mediocre mixology. But to be fair, this quince Old Fashioned doesn't sound like an example of that at all. It sounds like a very tasty, and pretty simple drink to make, and it the centrifuge part is pragmatic, and something I'd imagine you could still enjoy the drink without ever knowing about.

(Also, I think Don Draper, if given his choice of drink, would prefer half a bottle of Canadian Club, probably before lunch, so I feel like he might not be the best guy to ask)

Jan 06, 2014
A_Gonzalez in Spirits

Martini Garnishes

More often I go with bourbon if it's a dry Manhattan, but for the most part, yes, whiskey + dry vermouth + bitters. I used to think I didn't like Manhattans, but I eventually realized that most whiskies I drink just don't blend well with sweet vermouth, so I adjusted accordingly.

Jan 05, 2014
A_Gonzalez in Spirits

Martini Garnishes

If a dry Manhattan is an unpopular drink, I must not be as cool as I thought I was ;-) Then again, I'd never put an olive in a Manhattan, no matter how dry.

But I'm with you, finding a drink that's both olive-friendly and palatable seems like a tall order. For now I think I'll be leaving them in the Martinis as well.

Jan 04, 2014
A_Gonzalez in Spirits

Martini Garnishes

I feel like the vinegar bite a pickled onion complements a Gibson pretty well, though that's just me. Otherwise I'll alternate between olives and citrus peel.

Call me a heretic, but sometimes, if I use Cocchi Americano along with vermouth, I'll use an orange twist to complement the Cocchi Americano's orange notes. Though I guess if I make that much change I shouldn't call it a Martini.

As far as olives being a late 20th century thing, I'll admit, I don't know enough to disagree, but since I posted this I've been doing some looking around myself, and I've found numerous mentions of olive garnishes in the Savoy Cocktail Book. One of them, the Astoria, is literally just a dry Martini with an olive. Few of the other cocktails that use them seem appetizing, though, which would explain why those haven't stuck around.

Also, I'm almost positive Nick and Nora Charles have got olives in their Martinis in the first two clips of this video, and that also goes back to the 30s: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H1tnbP...

But I think you raise an interesting question: Does anyone know what the earliest example is of an olive as a cocktail garnish? Is it a European thing? A Prohibition thing? Now I'm just too curious...

Jan 04, 2014
A_Gonzalez in Spirits

Spin-Off: What gins to people love?

I usually oscillate between Tanqueray, Bombay, and Bombay Sapphire (the last of which, incidentally, would also be my stripper name).

I used to use the Bombay Sapphire in my Martinis/Gibsons, and the others in everything else (Negronis, Corpse Revivers, Gimlets, etc.), though now I'll pretty much use anything in anything.

There aren't many gins I dislike, though, Hendricks being an exception. I understand it has its fans, but to me it tastes more like bad vodka than gin.

In all fairness, there aren't many

Jan 04, 2014
A_Gonzalez in Spirits

Martini Garnishes

Alright, I've been thinking a lot about garnishes lately (consequence of having too much time on my hands), and I've been wondering: the olive and the cocktail onion both seem to be garnishes that are only ever used in one cocktail.

How is this? I can think of dozens of cocktails that use citrus twists, cherries, mint, fruit wedges, cinnamon sticks, or other common garnishes, but olives and onions seem to only have one use. To anyone who knows more cocktail history than me, why might this be? Did they used to be more common garnishes, with all other drinks that use them having disappeared? Or were they just bar snacks that someone had the brilliant idea to drop in a Martini?

Also, side note, I notice that even at cocktail-oriented bars, the more I try ordering Gibsons, the more I get told the bar doesn't have any onions. To any other Gibson drinkers: how much luck do you have when ordering at bars or restaurants?

Jan 04, 2014
A_Gonzalez in Spirits

James Bond: Drinking watered-down martinis?

If I remember correctly (without my copy of Moonraker handy either) Bond explains to M that although he started doing it for exactly that reason when drinking cheap Soviet vodka, he grew to like the taste (or it just became a habit), which is why he does it even for the good vodka M orders for him at the Blades Club.

Though I have to wonder what the point is of putting pepper in your vodka to draw out the fusel oils if you're just going to drink the pepper too, as it seems Bond does.

Jan 04, 2014
A_Gonzalez in Spirits

James Bond: Drinking watered-down martinis?

I've seen a clip from The West Wing where a character says the same thing. To me he sounds a bit like a know-it-all who isn't as worldly as he thinks he is:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M8oibB...

In my experience, just from making drinks at home, the difference in taste between shaking a Martini for around 10 seconds and stirring it for around 30 to 45 seconds is negligible. And since they both fit in the same glass pretty nicely, I'd imagine the difference in volume, though I'm sure there is one, is also negligible.

Likewise, I don't even think the "stir because the ingredients are all clear" maxim is that important, since even after shaking vigorously, with a healthy amount of vermouth, a Martini will go clear after a minute or so.

I have to wonder, though, how one dilutes the flavor of a vodka Martini with a little bit of extra water when, with all due respect to vodka lovers, a dry vodka Martini is already pretty flavorless.

(As for me, if I want to emulate James Bond, I drink straight vodka with a pinch of black pepper, as he does in Moonraker. It doesn't seem to be catching on, though.)

Help me name this drink

I think one of the differences between using jam and syrup is texture; jam is definitely thicker than most syrups. And you can keep out the seeds by fine straining. Or just leave them in, I guess.

Dec 17, 2013
A_Gonzalez in Spirits

What to add to my Christmas Wish List?

Genever is the kind of thing that I think is worth sampling before purchasing if you're lucky enough to be able to do so. I say this because if you're not already familiar with it, it can be pretty surprising just how different it is from gin. It's an odd spirit.

Nov 24, 2013
A_Gonzalez in Spirits

What to add to my Christmas Wish List?

Cherry Heering? At the verybleast that's a Blood and Sand or a Singapore Sling.

I've never been disappointed by spice-heavy liqueurs, like falernum or allspice dram. I know falernum drinks are mostly out of season, but...allspice! That's Christmasy, right? (I put it in my egg nog >_>)

If you're going for a curacao, I can't recommend Pierre Ferrand dry curacao enough. It's the liqueur that helped me realize I actually like certain orange liqueur drinks.

Nov 24, 2013
A_Gonzalez in Spirits

What's the best inexpensive scotch out there?

I have a slightly similar question that I figured I'd piggyback onto this thread. I'm also someone who's not an experienced Scotch drinker, and I'm looking for something hopefully at around $30 or less range (in NY, though)

The difference is I'm looking for something I could use in cocktails that call for a blended Scotch, like a Blood and Sand or Rob Roy. Are there any tips on what sort of Scotch would come through in a cocktail, but also plays well with others?

Nov 22, 2013
A_Gonzalez in Spirits

Apple Pie 'Moonshine'

I'm not sure I see the chasm between the two. At least, as I understand it, a liqueur is basically a flavored spirit, water, and sugar. This apple pie business strikes me as a shortcut to a similar thing with a cute name added on. You're using flavored water (well, juice) instead of flavored spirit, but is the result someone's trying to produce that far off?

I just know that since we're all Chowhounders it's in our nature to want to help improve and add to recipes others are working with. I just thought, if anyone feels like they might not have something to contribute, it seems like wildgoosechase9 is looking to make a somewhat low proof, sweet, apple-and-cinnamon-flavored beverage. So while I understand people are being modest, it seems like sharing simple apple liqueur recipes might actually be very helpful.

Or maybe wildgoosechase9 could correct me if I'm mistaken; I don't want to seem like I'm putting words in anyone's mouth.

Nov 20, 2013
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Apple Pie 'Moonshine'

What surprises me is the thought that apple pie moonshine is something you're supposed to drink to get plastered.

I mean, it's essentially just a simplified apple cordial. Personally, I don't see why it would be meant for binge drinking, which seems like what you were getting at, any more than a liqueur made from cognac infused with hand-picked apples. Although I might have just misunderstood your comments.

But on that note, maybe you or one of the other experts here have a preferred apple liqueur recipe you could share? It seems like wildgoosechase9 might be interested, and even if not, I'm planning to start experimenting with making liqueurs soon, and apple seems like a lovely place to start, so I'd appreciate any advice I could get.

Nov 19, 2013
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