Grenadine in Practice: Tequila Sunset


One of the most common uses of grenadine is to add some showy coloration to a beverage.  The strong red color of the syrup and its thicker texture allows it to perform well in most juices, many liquors and in their combination.

The Tequila Sunset is a pretty simple drink

2 oz Silver Tequila
4 oz Orange Juice
3/4 oz Grenadine Syrup

Shake the tequila and juice in a shaker with ice, strain into a glass.  Slowly drizzle the syrup into the drink so that it settles and disperses through the bottom of the drink.

What you’re left with is a very nice blending of color from the yellow to dark red at the bottom.  Thinner grenadine doesn’t do this well and those heavy in dyes tend to color too well leaving the drink a kind of muddy brown color.

Well made, you can sip this slowly and enjoy the change as the syrup slowly increases in concentration.  Unless you’re using fresh squeezed OJ the citrus flavor is going to be tart and bland.  The grenadine also helps to add some character to the drink overall as well as to help mask any alcohol you might taste from using cheaper Tequila.

I used sparkle donkey for this one, and I’m not disappointed.  It has a very strong nose, which isn’t ideal here but the flavor is still mellow and smooth.


Mint Chocolate Syrup in Use: Oregon Grasshopper Shot

IMG_1238The mint chocolate syrup that I produced a couple of days ago has had a chance to cool.  The time has also allowed the flavors a chance to marry, blend and mellow a bit.

Mint and chocolate have a long tradition together and none of the cocktails I can think of so perfectly exemplifies their happy union better than the grasshopper.

Normally a grasshopper is the combination of creme de menthe, creme de cacao and cream.  A simple drink with no strong alcohol, it is also sometimes the standard bearer for fluffy drinks.  Only recently dethroned by the Apple-tini it still has a lot to offer.

Since we’ve already got both the chocolate and the mint covered with the syrup we don’t need to include either of the primary ingredients.  But to keep this as simple as the original we can keep it down to three ingredients.


0.5 oz Frangelico Hazelnut Liqueur
0.5 oz Irish Cream Liqueur
0.5 oz Chocolate Mint syrup

pour in order and give the glass a small swirl to mix.

In this case we’re making a shot, which will allow the concentrated flavors to hit all at once.  In a larger glass you could use 1.5 oz of irish cream and 1 oz of the Frangelico.  Keep the chocolate mint the same but put a small amount in your glass to coat the sides before you shake and strain.

I call this an Oregon grasshopper because the Hazelnut is a pretty signature Oregon flavor, but overall this is an excellent shot with a lot of high and low notes.  The menthol sensation at the top of the mouth on the back and the solid umame of hazlenut.

Chocolate Mint Syrup

IMG_1226Having exhausted some of the more basic forms of simple syrup I have elected to branch out a bit and try some things that might be a bit different.

I have on my deck a spearmint plant, Tarragon plant, and a very bushy chocolate mint plant.  Mint grows very quickly and can take over a yard if you’re not careful.  Mine are in pots so that I can move them indoors when the weather turns.

Since the chocolate mint is doing so well I wanted to harvest a bit and see what could be done with it.

Having examined some of the various recipes on the net I worked out a ratio that seems to work pretty well.

My basic test run of simple syrup remains the same:

1/3 cup bakers sugar
1/3 cup water

To that we add a small quantity of cocoa powder, in this instance about 2 tablespoons.

Once you’ve whisked the powder and sugar into solution you can apply some heat.

To the now simmering syrup I added about a 1/2 cup of shredded chocolate mint leaves.

I washed the leaves a bit to make sure I cleared anything that might be on them but I think I could have done better.

Stir the mint around a bit, boil for no more than 2 minutes and then allow to cool and steep for another 5.

Next comes the harder bit, you don’t want to leave the mint in the syrup.  It would continue to increase in strength for one, and it would also stick in your throat when you are trying for a smooth cocktail.  A simple strainer over a pyrex bowl allows you to extract the mint leaves.

Allow to cool slightly and then place in a container you can seal and chill in the fridge.

This is chocolate syrup plain and simple and works well on ice cream, in milk and also in cocktails.  The mint has a very herb front flavor which is hard to ignore.  The cool menthol sensation lingers a bit in the mouth when you taste this.

A cocktail will follow as soon as my brain can engage properly.


Basic Drinking: Moscow Mule

moscow muleFollowing up on my post about Core Drinks.

This evening we present the Moscow Mule.  A drink with a fine pedigree and a well known history.  The president and owners of Cock ‘n Bull Ginger Beer and  G.F. Heublein Brothers, Inc.

Heublein may not sound like a name to remember now but in the 40’s they were famous as the company that brought vodka to the american palate when they acquired all rights to the Smirnoff brand.  They are also responsible for the US distribution of other noteworthy brands like Don Q, Jose Cuervo and Guinness Stout.

In 1941 when Jack Morgan shipped his first train load of Cock ‘n Bull ginger beer to the east coast he celebrated in the bar at the Chatham Hotel.  Alongside him were John G. Martin of Heublein and Rudolph Kunett president of Smirnoff.

We can only credit divine providence (and a large quantity of Kunett’s product) with the resulting cocktail.

1.5 oz vodka
0.5 oz lime juice (half a lime)
8 oz Ginger Beer

Pour into glass, give a shot stir so as not to release all the bubbles and drop the spent half lime into the glass.

For some reason these are traditionally served in a small, handled copper mug.  The reasons for this are unclear and lacking this unique barware I’m forced to rely on my Working Glass for such a large drink.

Flavor wise I think you’re going to see a lot of difference based on the kind of Ginger beer you choose.  Cock n’ Bull, the original brand that started the drink is very much alive.  It’s cloudy, rich and spicy.  You can find it in grocery stores, liquor stores and even online.  You might also want to try Fever Tree or Reeds which comes in an Original and and Extra Ginger version.  Reeds is generally around.  I’ve seen it in a number of grocery stores. Fever tree tends to be a bit more select and while I’ve seen some of their products in stores you can’t count on the full line.

I made this one with a cock n bull and I have to say that it has some serious bite.  It’s not sharp like fresh ginger but it does have the burn and the spice of the true root.  The recipe on the side of the bottle is the one I’ve given above, but as I said this takes a larger glass seeing as you’ve got about 10 oz of drink there compared to the 6-8 you normally have in most cocktails.

Some of the versions of this have the ratio a bit closer to even.  2 parts vodka to 3 parts ginger beer.  Given that mix you’d get.

1 oz vodka
0.5 oz lime juice
1.5 oz ginger beer.

A bit short but if you’re using a smaller mug then a 3-4 oz drink goes a bit quicker and you can refill a bit more often.

Mr. Bartender gives a recipe of:

2 oz Vodka
2 oz Lime Juice
8 oz Ginger beer

I think in this case they’re simply upping the lime juice to compensate for the excess of ginger beer. It’s a similar ratio as above you’re just putting 4 times as much ginger beer and lime.  A much lighter drink that you might otherwise want.

This is not a drink that goes quickly.  The volume of flavor between ginger and lime is enough to give you time to pause between sips.  They don’t mesh but they do blend pretty well and being as a good vodka will disappear once it hits any sort of mixer you’re not tasting anything alcohol related on this one.

Mudder’s Milk Part 5: Big Damn Heroes

To Recap:
Mudders Milk 1 : Where I aim to misbehave
Mudders Milk 2: Mighty fine shindig
Mudders Milk 3: Too Pretty to Die
Mudders Milk 4: Coming to a middle

I think this is going to be our final installment.  With enough experimentation I’ve gotten this to the point where it can be reproduced consistently every time.

Start with 1/3 cup of rolled oatmeal.  Using a food processor blend the oats until you’ve got the whole thing to a flour like consistency.

You can do as much as you want and keep it in a storage container but 1/3 cup is about as much as you need for a single serving.

Put the oat flour into a small resealable container with slightly more than 1/3 cup of water.   Add to the mix about a tablespoon of cinnamon, fresh grated nutmeg, and ground allspice.  Mix the oats well and place the sealed container in the fridge overnight.

While the oats are soaking we prep the apples.  Take a whole apple, peel, core and dice finely.  To the apples add a similar amount of cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice.  Add about a tablespoon of granulated sugar to the mix and then a small amount of water.  Place the whole into a pot and simmer for 20-30 minutes.  Once the apples are good and soft you strain the results and put the apples through a food mill, chinoise or strainer.

I usually do up three apples at a time and keep the results in another container.

Once you have the cold soak and the apples done you can basically do this any time you want.

To the 1/3 cup oats I drain off any excess water and give it a good stir.  Add about two spoonfuls of apple and a good pinch of brown sugar and put it in the microwave for about 15-30 seconds.  Stir the results and spoon it into a glass.  Add 1.5 oz of coole swan irish cream and 1 oz of spiced rum.

For the rum I am currently using Eastside Distilling’s Spiced rum which uses the same kind of spice mix as their holiday spice liqueur and has a wonderful spicy flavor.

Stir up the whole mix to get it good and smooth, then drink to your heart’s content.

What I love about this is that most of the work can be done in advance and can be portioned out into single servings without any problems.  It only takes a minor amount of heat, or none at all if you’re camping hard.  With a small amount of well sealed camping storage you can have breakfast drinking for several days ready to go.

To answer a question from my last post I did make an attempt to do this with with apple butter.

The big difference between the apples I’ve been using and apple butter is about a half cup of sugar.  The consistency is about the same but when you boil the apples down for an extra couple of hours the spices get a lot stronger.  The result is a thicker, much sweeter product.

Two spoonfuls of apple butter was just too much.  The result was cloying and too sweet by far.  Maybe without the brown sugar it would have been ok or with less apple butter but I can say that the effort needed to make apple butter was not worth it for the drink.  The extra hours of stewing and the effort of putting apples through a strainer were more work than really needed.

Using store bought apple butter could be a good alternative but I think cost wise the apples would be cheaper and give a perfectly excellent result.

Ruhlman’s Paloma

palomaIn my wanderings I pick up bits here and there to try and give everyone a good overview of drinking culture and to hopefully learn a bit myself.  One such stumble was on the website of World Famous Chef Michael Ruhlman.  On his site he does a regular Friday Cocktail hour and this particular drink was called the Paloma.

The basic ingredients for this cocktail appear daunting at first.

  • 3 ounces tequila
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 3 ounces grapefruit soda

A fairly simple drink but if you look closely there’s two shots of tequlia in there and what amounts to a splash of lime juice.

Chefs are know for being able to put away a few drinks but that seems a bit excessive for a refreshing sipper.

Additionally Ruhlman recommends a couple of brands of grapefruit soda that I would live to try out.  Sadly the grocer that stocked the best in oddball beverages has folded and now I’m stuck with a vanilla assortment of coke products and Jones Soda co. offerings.

On the plus side my recent birthday netted me a fine bottle of Sparkle Donkey Silver which I have been dying to put through its paces.

Ingredients in had I took the drink to a party and let a couple of friends play with the results.

Instead of a fancy grapefruit soda I started with squirt.  Not a bad addition, it covered the bases for bubbly, citrus and sweet.  The sparkle donkey was pulling more than it’s share of freight.  In hindsight I wish I had brought some ruby red squirt to try some other variations but I also wish I had a reposado to do this with so we’ll have something to do next time.

Some other variations.  I bought grapefruit juice and club soda, as Ruhlman suggests, but was disappointed with the results.  I used white grapefruit juice from a bottle which is much more bitter than the alternative ruby red.  The resulting cocktail was sharp and bit pretty hard after the lime.

The saving grace was the selection of syrups I had brought.  A spoonful of agave syrup into either version brought up flavors and brought down bitterness enough to make them each an excellent concoction.

In the end I think I would suggest the following:

1.5 oz Sparkle Donkey Silver
1 oz Ruby Red Grapefruit Juice
1.5 oz club soda
0.5 oz lime juice
1 tsp agave syrup

Stir in a tall glass and sip slowly on a hot day.

Flavor wise this is tart and bubbly.  If you’re using a quality tequila the flavors will blend nicely across the palate and let you savor the agave.

Turbinado Syrup in Practice – Mojitos

MojitoGoing back to my basic syrups I present another of my practical examples.

July 11th is my birthday and is also consequently National Mojito Day.  To celebrate I made this.

1.5 oz Bacardi Silver
1 oz Lime Juice
3 sprigs of Spearmint
1 oz Turbinado Sugar Syrup
Soda Water

Muddle the spearmint in the shaker with the syrup.  Go easy on it, a light spank and a little twist is all you really need to get the flavor to express.  Add lime, and rum, shake over ice.  Strain into a collins glass and top with soda water.

The reason I picked turbinado sugar is that rum is made from a base of molasses and turbinado sugar has the molasses still on it.  The syrup is richer than brown sugar and carries some high and low notes that normal simple doesn’t get.

Combined with rum and a good fresh mint you have a very refreshing cocktail.  I’m looking forward to making more of these as I now have both a spearmint and a chocolate mint plant growing on my deck.  I also picked up several new and different rums over my birthday which I’ll be detailing when I have time.

Brown Sugar Syrup in Practice – What can Brown Do for you?

Another followup to my post on basic syrupsIMG_0485

Brown sugar is to regular sugar as premium is to regular gasoline.  There isn’t a lot of kick to it, but you’re getting a better quality product.

Brown sugar is really just white sugar with the molasses added back in.  This means that you’re getting a lot of the flavors that sugar cane has put back into your product.

I haven’t really played with the differences in light and dark brown sugar but light brown gives some very rich character to the syrup.



For the test drink I wanted to make something that would pull on that richness but be fairly classic.  I call it “What Can Brown Do for You?”

1.5 oz Bourbon
0.5 oz Lemon Juice
0.5 oz Brown Sugar Syrup

Shake over ice, strain into glass.

It’s not really an old fashioned but it’s pretty good all on it’s own.



Double Simple Syrup in Practice – Fitzgerald Cocktail

fitzgeraldIn looking for a simple cocktail to showcase some of my new syrups I happened upon an old classic.

The Fitzgerald is a classic cocktail in every sense.

1.5 oz Gin
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
3/4 oz Simple Syrup
2 dashes Angostura Bitters

The combination of sugar, bitters, citrus and spirit is effortless and allows your primary spirit to really shine.  If you’re not a big crazy gin drinker, the double simple syrup that I created a couple of days back is an excellent way to ease yourself into some drinks you might not otherwise be sure of liking.

Double Simple syrup is simple syrup with a 2:1 ratio of sugar to water instead of the 1:1 normally used.  This can actually be extended to 3:1 if you dare but anything beyond that and you’re getting into candy making country which is beyond the ken of this lowly cocktail scribe.

The richness of the syrup is strong, and I think you could scale back a bit on it if you wanted to play with the ingredient mix a bit.  Upping the citrus will lose some of the more delicate flavors in your gin, but cutting back on the sweetness will change the cocktail without getting in the way of the flavors.

It is slightly thicker than normal simple syrup but this isn’t really evident once it’s in the drink.

I garnished mine with a few of the maraschino cherries I made a few weeks back.  They’re still kicking and the extra flavors at the end were a nice touch.

Hail Eris!

I’ve been working on this one in my mind ever since I started the Eris’ Kiss.  This is a drink so delectable that girls won’t want to put it down, or alternately a drink that makes you want to kill the prince of troy.


KallistiKallisti (to the Prettiest one)

1 oz Brandy
1 oz Honey Syrup
1 oz Hard Apple Cider
4 Raspberries
Splash of Lemon Juice

Muddle Raspberries, add brandy, syrup, lemon juice and cider.  Shake over ice, strain into glass.

Garnish with twist of lemon peel, lemon wedge or maraschino cherry.

For this version I used Morning Dew brandy from the Mcmenamins Cornelius Pass Roadhouse distillery.  This is a grape brandy using Pinot Noir grapes.  Lots of flavor, not too expensive and with a good character.   I’m also using Crispin Honey Crisp cider, this is a cloudy cider with not a lot of fizz and not too dry.  The main reason I wanted this cider is that they use organic honey in the cider which will pair nicely with some of the other ingredients.

For those asking, what is honey syrup I promise a full rundown on more magical syrups in an upcoming post.

Some initial runs with this I used a pear cider from the McMenamins Edgefield.  It came off very well but the pear was front and center and didn’t give the other ingredients a lot of time in the spotlight.  I want to repeat this again using some clear creek Apple Brandy.  Preferably the 8 year but the 2 year aged if I have to settle.

So a word about flavor in this drink.  This wants to be cold.  Once you let it warm up the flavors marry and you’re drinking lumpy brandy.  Ice your glass in the freezer beforehand or put some ice and cold water into it while you make the drink.  Shake really well and serve it quick.  You’ll get some nice high and low flavors from the brandy and a little kick from the cider.  Little bitter notes from the cider and then the honey sweetness followed by a slight tartness from the berries.  You shouldn’t get any flavor from the lemon if you did it right but that acid will keep the sweetness from overpowering.

No matter how hard you strain you’re going to get seeds in it.  Live with that, you’re using raspberries.  This is a light drink, if you’re using a dry cider you’re going to get a bit of pucker on the top of the mouth.  If you don’t like that look for a sweeter cider.

Choosing the right cider and brandy for this drink is essential.  You don’t need something expensive but know your ingredients before you settle into the shaker with them.