Tag Archives: Lush life

Mixology Monday: Midori Melon Margarita

Midori Margarita

Midori Margarita, originally uploaded by cynthiacloskey.

It’s Mixology Monday, and this month’s host is Anna at Morsels and Musings. Our theme is fruit liqueurs, interpreted for this as "a sweet alcoholic beverage infused with fruits or fruit flavours."

My immediate first thought for this theme was the bottle of Midori that has been languishing in my liquor cabinet. I do not like this stuff. It’s like candy, and not in a good way. Would it be possible to make a melon-flavored drink that tasted good?

The answer is a qualified ‘yes.’

Midori Melon Margarita

1 part Midori
2 parts tequila
1 part Triple Sec
1 part fresh lime juice

Shake with ice, strain, serve up or over ice; or blend and serve.

This recipe is slightly modified from the one in the little booklet that came with the Midori. I reduced the lime juice a little so the Midori could stand out a bit more — otherwise it was overwhelmed by the tequila and other flavors. In my version, there’s just a bit more melon flavor, a bit of late summer sweetness any time of the year.

It might not be the first thing I’d order, but I wouldn’t turn it down either.

Find more fruity, boozy treats from other Mixology Monday friends at Morsels and Musings’s summary, to be posted tomorrow or Wednesday. Cheers!

Drink — then you’ll see…

Through the kindness of friends, I recently acquired a bottle of Lucid, the sort-of-recently introduced legal absinthe that’s now available here in Pennsylvania and in the rest of the U.S.

It’s a very pricey spirit, costing over $60 in PA and about that much elsewhere. Perhaps you’ve wondered, as I did, is it worth the cost? And does it it cause one to want to cut off his/her ear or otherwise see things as they otherwise are not?

Lucid is 62% alcohol — 124 proof — but one doesn’t drink it straight. You can either add chilled water, or suspend a sugar cube over an ounce and a half of the liquor and pour chilled water over it, melting the sugar into the drink. Once the water hits the absinthe, it turns opaque and white and looks appropriately mysterious.

Previously I’d bought Absente, which is pretty widely available in PA and is touted as absinthe-like. Lucid makes a much more interesting beverage: herbier and lighter, much prettier, less sugary, more complex. It’s also more expensive and harder to get, but the availability may improve over time (especially if by some miracle the PLCB is privatized).

As for the stories of absinthe causing hallucinations: a myth as far as I can tell. Granted, even diluted with sugar and water, this stuff is strong. Drink a couple of glasses and I bet you’ll be seeing pretty colors and swirling lights, but the wormwood won’t necessarily be the cause.

With that said, I confess that at this moment, as I drink a glass of this interesting beverage, my right ear feels hot. Not both ears — just the right one. A hallucination? Shades of Van Gogh? Let’s hope not. Van Gogh cut off the lower part of his left ear, so it’s not quite the same anyway. But it does get one thinking….

Sazerac FTW!

Long-time readers of this site know my affection for the Sazerac, that classic cocktail of New Orleans. Rye, Peychaud bitters, a bit of sugar, and a dash of anisette combine to make a lovely glass indeed.

A Senator of Louisiana is about to embark on a campaign to have the Sazerac declared the official cocktail of Louisiana.

Here’s the email I wrote in support of this effort:

Dear Senator Murray:

I’m given to understand (via Intoxicated Zodiac) that you are about to undertake legislation that would make the Sazerac the official cocktail of the state of Louisiana.

I have not had the pleasure of visiting your fine state. I am a sorry Northerner. But I have looked with reverence toward Louisiana as the birthplace and home of many fine traditions — I am a great friend of jazz, for one.

More specifically, I am a fan of the Sazerac cocktail, which reports say was born in New Orleans. To me it is an ambassador of the Crescent City and Louisiana on the whole. A fine ambassador it is too.

I encourage you to promote this cocktail to this new honor. I wish I were a voter in your state, but if the opinion of an outsider matters, I thank you for your attention.

Warm regards,
Cynthia Closkey

I know many of my readers consider themselves to be light drinkers — no hard liquors for you. That’s cool. The thing is, I also know many of you appreciate the allure of the cocktail, the atmosphere that surrounds a well-made drink, and a unique drink. Each cocktail has its own appeal, its certain sensibility, its character.

The Sazerac combines sweetness and sass, a little mystery, a hefty kick, and a sublime aura. I can’t claim to a personal connection with the state of Louisiana, but for me the Sazerac presents the persona of that state in friendly, liquid form.

I encourage you to try a Sazerac, and to support the drive to name it the official cocktail of Louisiana.


MxMo: Limit One, Irish Sazerac

An Irish Sazerac

This has been my most difficult Mixology Monday yet.

The theme is "Limit: One," set by this month’s host, Kaiser Penguin.


  • Consume and write about your favorite, strongest drink. You know, the one that that is delightful, complex, and will leave you wanting to stay home from work the next day. It should contain at least 3oz of 80-proof spirit or have less than 1/2oz of non-spiritness.
  • When you finish your post, please email me or post a comment with your link. I will include it in a round-up on Tuesday if I’ve recovered from trying as many of your drinks as I can.
  • Include a link in your post to Kaiser Penguin so those who haven’t heard of Mx Monday can join in.


  • Include a photo of your deadly potion; I plan to blatantly rip off Gabriel’s format from when he hosted, as it was just wonderful. So make sure to include a picture, unless you want a screen-shot of your blog text.
  • Include the Mixology Monday logo along with your post!

We love MxMo for its variations — or at least I do — but how to make the most of a focus on overindulgence?

{Editorial note: Due to the nature of this post, I will not be able to keep to my usual spelling and grammar standards. I will be eternally grateful if youl will overlook such errors here.}

My preferred strong drink, if the setting and bartending and my situation allows, is a Sazerac. (Have I spelled the name of this drink wrong for years? Yes. I’m OK with that. Thank you for your flexibility.) This is a classic drink, but one I  came to enjoy only while outside of Pennsylvania. It’s native to Louisiana but known many places, and the joy of it is its simplicity:


1 1/2 oz. Bourbon (in this case, Old Overholt Rye)
1/2 tsp. Pernod
3 dashes Peychaud Bitters
twist Lemon
2 tsp. Sugar Syrup

Coat rocks glass with Pernod. In shaker (no ice) mix Bourbon, sugar syrup and Bitters. Shake and pour into glass. Add lemon twist.

For this occasion, because I’d already written about the Sazerac, I thought I’d experiment with using an Irish whiskey in place of the rye. The Irish Whiskey I have is Power’s, and it’s mellow and sweet with just a trace of smoke. It’s not an easy fit to a Sazerac. I confess I went through many variations before I realized the simple answer was to reduce the amount of sugar in the basic recipe.

Here’s how to do it (and fit the Limit: One critiera):

Irish Sazerac

3 oz Powers whiskey
1/2 tsp. Pernod or absinthe
4 dashes Peychaud Bitters
1/2 tsp. Sugar Syrup

Coat rocks glass with Pernod or absinthe. In shaker (no ice) mix whiskey, sugar syrup and Bitters. Shake and pour into glass.

Note that the alcohol is doubled but the other ingredients are not. This is on purpose. Power’s is sweet from the start, and when I tried the drink as a straight substitution it was ridiculous. Halving the sugar helped. I tried adding Angostura bitters (bad idea), adding other bitter elements (no good), and finally realized that just reducing the sweetness solved the trouble.

Please check in with the Kaiser Penguin for the latest updates in the MxMo entries this month. Cheers!

MxMo: Variations on the Brandy Alexander


This month’s Mixology Monday theme is "Variations," hosted by Jimmy at Jimmy’s Cocktail Hour.

Sometimes it seems like every drink I make is a variation on the original. Probably it is. Good cocktail-making is like good cooking: You take a recipe, tune it to your tastes and to the tastes of those who will consume it, adjust for the ingredients on hand, and apply a little chance.

The Brandy Alexander is itself a variation on the Alexander, which is gin, creme de cacao, and cream in equal amounts, shaken with ice. The brandy variation took over its older brother long ago. I’ll guess this is because your average gin drinker doesn’t want his gin softened by a big splash of cream, while in contrast the brandy version turns out to be perhaps the original "girly" drink — soft and sweet but packing a hefty wallop for those who aren’t careful.

Feist (see video above) isn’t the only one to note its danger. It’s a Brandy Alexander that Jack Lemmon’s character orders for a virginal Lee Remick on their first date in Days of Wine and Roses. The sweet young lady loves her first-ever cocktail, and then 45 minutes later her child has nearly perished in a fire and she’s less than an hour from destroying her marriage, all because she can’t drag herself away from the bottle. So much danger in a simple cocktail glass, sprinkled with grated nutmeg.

Movies notwithstanding, the Brandy Alexander is a mild and friendly drink. It is, in fact, a dessert, with creme de cacao turning a perfectly respectable cocktail into a pseudo-chocolate slushie.

I wanted to find a variation that kept the kick of the brandy or cognac, plus the softness of the cream, but offered a bit more with the sweetness part — more flavor, a little subtlety.

I turned to Tuaca, a sweet Italian liqueur flavored with vanilla and fruity spices. This handled the sweetness admireably and brought in nice flavor, but couldn’t quite balance with the cream. So I added a drop or two of Cointreau and came up with a pleasant cocktail.

I have just a few minutes until midnight to post and can’t find a good name for this thing, so I’m going with the obvious:

Brilliant Alexander

1 oz brandy or cognac
1 oz Tuaca
2 or three drops of Cointreau to taste
1 oz light cream

Combine in a cocktail shaker with ice. Strain into cocktail glass and serve.

Enjoy! And please check out the creations that Jimmy collects for this Mixology Monday of variations. Cheers!

Mixology Monday: Brandy

Cognac: Spot

Cognac: Spot, originally uploaded by Shaylor.

The first Mixology Monday of 2008 is being hosted by the clever Marleigh of Sloshed! and she has chosen a warm and friendly theme that’s sure to bring a little something for everyone: Brandy.

I’ve written about brandy in the past (most notably here). So many lovely drinks can be made with it. For this post, I wanted to try a cocktail I’d never tasted before. I searched my (meager) collection of cocktail books and came up with a few intriguing recipes for the Brandy Daisy — but no background on the drink or explanation for the name.

Thank heavens for the Internet, because Wikipedia filled in a few blanks. The drink appears to be a predecessor of the Sidecar, which as longtime readers know is one of my very favorite cocktails (and my Drink of the Year for 2003). Margaritas can be traced back to it too:

The Brandy Daisy is a cocktail which first gained popularity in the late 19th century. One of the earliest known recipes was published in 1876 in the second edition of Jerry ThomasThe Bartenders Guide or How To Mix Drinks: The Bon-Vivants Companion.

Over the years, multiple variants of the recipe developed, including other daisies involving other base spirits, such as whiskey or gin. Citrus — typically lemon juice, but occasionally orange or lime juice — is common throughout most daisy recipes. Liqueurs or cordials also figure prominently, ranging from Curaçao to maraschino or yellow Chartreuse, distinguishing the daisy from other sour cocktails. Sweeteners range from gomme syrup to grenadine syrup, raspberry syrup, or bar sugar.

It was the grenadine that caught my eye. Here was a recipe that would fit the bill for MxMo January and give me a reason to try my hand at homemade grenadine, which peterb of Tea Leaves had written about recently. Homemade grenadine is worlds better than the ubiquitous Rose’s stuff, which is just colored high-fructose corn syrup.

The grenadine was easy: 1 cup POM brand pomegranate juice, 1 cup sugar, boil until the temperature reaches 220 degrees F. Next time I’ll aim for a lower temperature, as the syrup I made is a bit thick; 210 degrees might be a better endpoint.

I added a little vodka to my syrup to thin it — supposedly this addition will also preserve the syrup, but I’m keeping it in the fridge all the same. Anyway, I expect to use it all up before anything can start spoiling it.

The fact that I’m using homemade grenadine of uncertain syrupiness calls into question the proportions I’m about to give you. The other monkeywrench is the quality of the lemons I’m using — or rather, the lack of quality. It’s hard to find good citrus in the wilds of western Pennsylvania in January. The recipes I’ve seen have been all over the board anyway though. Start with this ratio, tweak to your taste:

Brandy Daisy

2 oz quality brandy or cognac
3/4 oz homemade grenadine
juice of 1/2 lemon

Mix the first three ingredients in a shaker with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass. Spritz with seltzer and serve.

This makes for a pleasant alternative to the Cosmopolitan. I plan to try it on my Cosmo- and Lemon Drop-drinking friends, to see if I can lure them away from vodka to other spirits.

Plus, at least a few of the antioxidants in the pomegranate juice must survive the syrup-making process. Even now they are repairing any damage the booze might have done to my organs. Or that’s what I prefer to believe.

I still don’t know why this drink is called a Daisy. The color resembles that of some Gerber daisies I’ve seen, but that can’t be it. Some versions are garnished with a pineapple and a cherry, but that still doesn’t work enough for me. I welcome any information on the source of the name.

Mixology Monday 23

For more brandy recipes and MxMo fun, check in with Sloshed! and see what all the other participants are drinking. Thanks to Marleigh for hosting this month!

UPDATE: Here is Marleigh’s summary of all the posts for MxMo 23. Twenty-nine at the current count! Watch out for a worldwide dip in brandy availability now that these recipes have hit.


Repeal Day! I’ll drink to that

Today is the 74th anniversary of the ratification of the Twenty-first Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which reversed the Eighteenth Amendment — that is, today is the anniversary of the end of Prohibition. After thirteen years, Americans could once again legally make, manufacture, and sell alcoholic beverages.

Dewar’s Scotch has used this as an advertising campaign this year, culminating in celebrations today. They made a couple of amusing videos:


There’s a lot of irony in today’s celebration for those of us who spend time in Allegheny County. Yesterday, the Allegheny County Council voted for a new 10% tax on poured alcoholic drinks. According to the Post-Gazette, these are the council members who voted for this tax:

Supporting the drink tax were council President Rich Fitzgerald, D-Squirrel Hill, and members John DeFazio, D-Shaler, Dave Fawcett, R-Oakmont, James Burn Jr., D-Millvale, Bill Robinson, D-Hill District, Michael J. Finnerty, D-Scott, Joan Cleary, D-Brentwood, Charles Martoni, D-Swissvale, Robert J. Macey, D-West Mifflin, and Brenda Frazier, D-Stanton Heights.

If you live in Allegheny County, please vote these dummies out of office at the next election. Also remember to vote out County Chief Executive Dan Onorato, who supported this tax. I hope that we will soon be able to toast the repeal of this inappropriate and short-sighted tax.

For today, let’s at least enjoy the fact that we can legally buy a drink at all. I’ve read that the Twenty-first Amendment was ratified at 5:32pm EST, but I think we can start to celebrate at any time.

Looking for an appropriate drink for this special occasion? The many and assorted blogs that contributed to this month’s Mixology Monday had Prohibition as their theme, so that would be a super place to start. To your health!

Mixology Monday: Gin

Gin tasting

It’s Mixology Monday, hosted by the wise-beyond-his-years Jay Hepburn of Oh Gosh! Our topic this month is gin. A fantastic topic it is too. Too many people lack experience with gin, thinking it’s good only for Martinis and G&Ts. It’s terrific in both, of course, but it’s versatile, and now we get to discover many ways in which it can be enjoyed.

Because November is Month Impossible for me, I wanted to write a quick and easy post. I failed, big time. But that’s lucky for you, because it means I will now spend many entertaining paragraphs (I hope they will be entertaining…) explaining what went wrong and offering alternatives and additions. Here we go.

The Cocktail

Faintly from the back of my mind, I recalled that there was a gin recipe that I’d not tried in one of my cocktail books. Atomic Cocktails is chock full of style, but its recipes are hit-or-miss. Still, I had been interested in this one, if only for the blatant Fitzgerald name-drop. Here’s the full recipe including prologue:

Webster’s F-Street Layaway Plan

This was the martini of choice for F. Scott Fitzgerald, patron saint of the mixed beverage. Could this wild hybrid of good gin and complex Chartreuse be the reason Scott and Zelda were always dancing in those fountains? In any event, the Layaway — a specialty of notorious Bay Area bar master Jamie Reynolds — is best served the way Fitzgerald liked it: day and night.

1/4 ounce green Chartreuse
1 1/2 cups cracked ice or 6 ice cubes
2 ounces dry gin
1 lemon twist for garnish

1. Chill a martini glass.

2. Pour the Chartreuse into the chilled glass; swirl it around to coat the interior, and discard any excess.

3. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add the gin. Shake vigorously to chill, or use a long-handled bar spoon and stir gently about 20 times. The key is to work quickly so the ice doesn’t melt and dilute the gin.

4. Strain the gin into the chilled glass. Garnish with the lemon twist.

Serves 1

Pretty much everything about this drink sounded bogus to me. The recipe is nothing like a cocktail recipe from the early 20th century; it’s gin in a coated glass, which I’m sure wasn’t popular when Fitzgerald was alive. I’m unable to turn up anything about Bay Area bar master Jamie Reynolds. Plus, "stir gently 20 times"? Please.

Still, this drink would give me a use for the Chartreuse that’s been taking up space in my cupboard — as far as I could tell it was undrinkable. Maybe I’d finally found it’s place in the bar world.

I mixed the drink as described, using the gin I had on hand, Hendrick’s. (I know: not ideal for mixing. But I like it straight so I keep it in stock.) And I was thoroughly displeased with the result. The Chartreuse (green? yellow? I can’t tell — it’s chartreuse! Most likely what I have is yellow) and the Hendrick’s fought for attention and refused to blend. The lemon tried to make everyone play nice, but it was outdone.

So ok, this drink was no good. I was going to simply report my experience and be done with this MxMo post. And then I skipped around the internet and found Jamie Boudreau’s MxMo post, in which (among other topics) he explains that Chartreuse and gin are the best of friends.

The Bijou he described sounded delightful … everything that my Layaway Plan drink was meant to be. I didn’t have quite the ingredients listed, so I subbed in what I could:

Not-a-Bijou (with apologies to Jamie Boudreau)

1 1/2 oz gin
3/4 oz yellow Chartreuse
3/4 oz sweet Vya (which I bought because PeterB said I should)
2 dashes orange bitters

Stir, strain into cocktail glass. Lemon twist garnish.

This is a lovely drink, in stark contrast to what I’d made earlier. Incidentally, I had the outstanding fortune to visit Vessel a couple of times recently and thus to have drinks mixed by Mr. Boudreau himself, and I would describe this drink as being characteristically his style: complex and multi-layered and balanced. (Also: very strong.)

And but so, now I’ve given you one lame recipe for MxMo, and one recipe that was blatantly copied from another MxMo participant. What value am I adding to this world?

To make up for everything, I present the following investigative report: the results of a gin tasting I held a little while ago. Please enjoy!

The "My Brilliant Mistakes" Gin Tasting

Some months back, I received this email:

Dear Cindy,

Your blog is very interesting and would appreciate our new G’Vine Gin. G’VINE breaks away from the traditional juniper based "London dry" and is truly a unique product. Thanks to its versatility, G’Vine offers many new drinking options. Please visit this funny video/blog, which presents G’VINE as true innovation and an alternative to vodka. Feel free to share your great experiences with gin and/or vodka and share this blog with your friends. We are happy to link their blog to yours in "Gin, Juice & Other Blogs" category. We would appreciate it if you would link back to us as well. Enjoy.



So I checked out the website. The video was light and kind of amusing. But before I could recommend it to you, my beloved readers, I felt I should try the alcohol in question. And that I could not do, because I couldn’t find G’Vine Gin in any local Pennsylvania liquor stores. I deleted the email and figured that was that.

Another week passed and I received the same email again. I wrote back:

Hi there,

Thank you for the email. I’m interested in knowing more about your product. I haven’t been able to find it in stores — is it available in Pennsylvania? I’d prefer to try it before recommending it to my readers.


They wrote back with a nice note, promising to send me a sample. And sure enough, some time later I received a package with two cute airplane-sized bottles of G’Vine, plus an impressive pile of marketing literature and a CD of images.

Being a marketer, and a blogger, and a person who enjoys gin, I liked their approach. Get the word out, use online technologies to reach your target market, get the product in the hands and glasses of people who can spread the good news. And send Cindy free gin. An excellent strategy.

The thing was, I felt quite unsure of the underlying concept of G’Vine. I mean, G’Vine is gin that doesn’t taste like juniper — which, to me, is pretty much the point of gin … the tasting like juniper bit. There are other flavors there too, different botanicals and whatnot depending on which gin you’re drinking. But the gin-ness of gin, if you will, is the juniper. Take away the juniper, and what’s left?

I thought I should try this juniper-lite gin along with other gins, to figure out what juniper brings to the party and what else is possible. And rather than drink great quantities of gin by my lonesome, I decided to invite over some gin-drinking pals to help.

The New York Times did a similar tasting earlier this year, mixing a variety of gins into Martinis and dissecting the results. I didn’t want to repeat their work. For my tasting, I would serve the gin stirred with ice and strained. Mostly, this would mean I’d have more tasters: My gin-drinking friends mix their Martinis with the "pour the gin and look across the room at the bottle of vermouth" method, and I feared they’d be thrown off if I tried to introduce any other ingredients into the drinks.

But that was just as well, because this gin-only tasting would allow us to focus more on the gin flavors without vermouth or olives or any such.

My tasters were my brother-in-law Mike, and my friends Jud and Paul. And me. All of us have been known to enjoy a variety of spirits, although I can’t recall Jud or Paul every drinking vodka.

For this tasting our responses were subjective of course — your mileage will vary — but looking through our notes you can see trends: I like the flowery and sweeter gins, Jud and Paul despise them, Mike has a wide range of taste. All the same, the common points are interesting.

Gin   Tasters’ notes

G’Vine   Mike: one star
Smells a little like witch hazel. Tastes like it is diluted already. Slightly sweet grape taste, not very good by itself. A lot like Vodka — maybe it would be good mixed. Not very ginny. "Tastes a lot like Bankers Club Vodka."
Don’t buy it. Probably better with soda or tonic.
Medicinal taste. Tastes "premixed." The French should stick to brandy. Would disappear in a mixer.
    Cindy: —
Herby. Citrus? Lavender? Like it’s already mixed with something. Would be lost with a mixer.

Tangueray   Mike: four and a half stars (second favorite)
Smells like gin — you can smell the juniper. Yummy by itself. Quite smooth, not too dry. Not a very complicated flavor, pretty mild.
Straight. Nice gin flavor — mild. Not dry / pine tree-ish. Good with tonic. [Ed note: Paul brought this bottle to the tasting.]
Tingles the tongue. Very easy to drink straight up. "Tastes like gin." Nice "burn" down the throat.
Can be drunk straight. Not super dry. Simple. Wouldn’t want a lot of it.

Burnett’s   Mike: three stars
Smells like gin but very slightly — not much juniper. Vegetable taste — pretty mild — middle of the road smoothness. Vodka back taste.
Vegetable / cucumber-y. Mild, not dry. Not worth trying again on purpose, but OK in a pinch.
Bite-y. Fairly wet, sweet. Upfront "veggie" taste. Alcohol back taste.
    Cindy: +
Juniper, cucumber or fresh green pepper. Front-loaded, not a lot of body. Similar to Hendrick’s. Slightly sweet.

Hendrick’s   Editor’s note: Here is where spelling and handwriting begin to falter in everyone’s notes.
    Mike: four stars
Smells like gin — juniper. Pretty smooth. Front and back taste the same. Back taste has a little cucumber. Something floral. Good by itself.
Very mild smell. Nice kick. Cool? as a cuke. Don’t think it would mix with vermouth. Rocks? Shaken w/ice? Flowery: rose petal. Try with tonic.
Pine then cucumber taste. Fairly smooth, flowery. Would hold up in a G&T.
    Cindy: + +
Pine, cuke. Smoother. Once you think "rose petal" you can identify the flowery taste.

Broker’s   Mike: five stars (my favorite)
Smells like gin — a lot like Tangueray. Pretty dry to start and gets sweet in your mouth. Sweet back taste. Lemony.
Mild gin smell. Like a drier Tangueray. Would probably be OK with tonic or as a martini gin. Sweet but not too sweet. All-purpose.
Wet, yet dry finish. Smooth, sweet, slightly citrus. Stands up by itself. Martini or G&T.
    Cindy: + + +
Juniper and sweet. Stronger proof. Versatile — mixable.

Seagram’s Extra Dry   Mike: two stars (my least favorite)
Very little smell — just alcohol. Tastes like vodka. Very dry — not too good.
Strong sweet smell, low taste. Big burn. Not very good. Big ‘no’ for martinis. Maybe OK in a pinch for G&T. Not an herbal taste – more medicinal.
Fairly flavorless. No bite or tingle. "Gin joint" taste.
    Cindy: –
Little flavor — like vodka. Burning for 80 proof. Paul’s gin in college.

Plymouth   Mike: three stars
Very mild smell. Very strong taste. Floral. Somewhat ginny, very dry. Strong back taste. Martini?
Mild gin smell. Smooth start — very strong finish. Nice and dry — martini? Flowery linger. I wouldn’t seek it out again but would be OK w/tonic.
Wet, full body, strong finsh. Floral taste. Mild smell, heavy aftertaste. Good mixer, but not on its own.
    Cindy: + +
Low smell, high flavor. Brings gin to the party, but floral. (What do I mean?? Probably that it tastes juniperish and floral, both.)

Junipero   Mike: one star
Juniper! Juniper! Juniper! Very floral. The taste stay in your mouth for a long time. If you like the "pine tree" taste, this is it.
Very strong juniper — too much for me. Strong start, strong finish, strong a couple minutes later. A big ‘no’ for me.
All about the flowers. Much bouquet — literally. Too much for stand-alone. Long-lasting flavor. Good for chewing gum, not gin.
    MBM: + +
Juniper up front. Flowery. Full finsh. Rose petal or lavender?

Bombay Sapphire   Mike: four and a half stars (third favorite)
Mild smell, quite complex. Clean taste. Same front and back taste. Very dry. Probably great for a martini. Very consistent taste.
Very clean start and finish. Nice "gin" taste — not overpowered by any one flavor, nice blend. Best on its own — little vermouth, no tonic. Still my favorite.
Clean flavor. Tingles the tongue — up the nose. Consistent taste before and after. Mild smell. Good straight up or with very little vermouth.
    Cindy: + +
Clean with flavor. Has fragrance. Subtleties. Blendy — balanced flavor.


So what have we learned?

  • I wanted to like G’Vine, hoped that I would find something appealing in it, but I couldn’t find a way to drink it. After the main tasting I tried mixing it in a Martini with just a little vermouth, and then in a Gin and Tonic with a slice of lime. The Martini did not work at all for me, and the G’Vine was lost in the G&T.
  • Broker’s is a damn fine gin. Also, the bottle comes with an adorable little bowler hat. That makes it seem chintzy even though the stuff is expensive. But the gin is lovely.
  • After tasting all the other gins, with the wide range of flavors and strengths, I expected to find the Bombay Sapphire thin or bland. It was not. It still had plenty of flavor and subtlety. I didn’t think it was quite as versatile and tasty as Broker’s, but I was impressed with it.
  • Nine gins is a lot of gins to try. Even if one is having just a sip of each, those sips add up.
  • Taste plays a big role in enjoyment. Whether you’ll agree with any of our tasters is, well, a matter of taste.

OK! It’s time to see what others have devised for the Gin Mixology Monday. Please visit Oh Gosh! and see what can be seen. Cheers, and thanks to Jay for hosting!

Mixology Monday: Pairings — Hot Toddy and Chewy Oatmeal Cookies

It’s Mixology Monday, hosted by Natalie of The Liquid Muse. The theme this month is Pairings, meaning the pairing of cocktails with food.

I find it easy to match foods with wine and with beer, but harder to do so with cocktails. My big favorite pairing is a nice Martini with sushi or sashimi, particularly if one skips the traditional olive or lemon garnish for the drink and drops in a little pickled ginger instead.

But today I’m fighting a head cold. I did some air traveling the last week or so, and breathing the same air as hundreds of other weary humans almost always causes me to pick up a bug or two. I’m shocked to realize it, but gin plus raw fish sounds all wrong to me in this state. I need something soothing and sweet and altogether comforting.

Fortunately, this suggests a particular cocktail: the Hot Toddy. Toddies are my saviors when I’m under the weather, as the warmth soothes my throat and loosens nasty phlegm, the lemon revives my senses, and the whiskey numbs the pain. They are also perfect for cold, damp weather, like a rainy fall or winter afternoon.

Hot Toddy

2oz. bourbon or whiskey
squeeze of lemon juice
teaspoon of sugar
dash or two of orange bitters
boiling water

Put the sugar, lemon, bitters, and bourbon in a 12 ounce mug or Irish coffee mug. Add boiling water to fill. Stir to combine, breathe in the healing vapors, and enjoy.

With my toddy, I’d love a fresh-from-the-oven oatmeal cookie. I often use the recipe below, which makes a flourless and super-chewy cookie that tastes slightly of cinnamon. The flavors go nicely with a warm, lemony toddy too.

Chewy Oatmeal Cookies

4T butter, softened
3/4 c firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 c granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 ts vanilla extract
2 1/2 c old-fashioned rolled oats (not instant)
1 ts baking powder
1 ts cinnamon
1/4 ts salt

Beat butter, borwn sugar, and granulated sugar in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on low, until combined. Beat in eggs and vanilla until thick and light.

In another medium bowl, mix oats, baking powder, and salt. Stir into butter mixture, blending thoroughly. IMPORTANT: Refrigerate batter for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Drop batter by measuring tablespoonfuls onto baking sheets.

Bake for 8 minutes or until edges are browned. cool on baking sheets for about 5 mintues. Remove to wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 36 to 40 cookies.

Recipe adapted from Comfort Food by Holly Garrison (Dell Trade Paperback: New York, 1988).

Find more delicious food and cocktail pairings at Natalie’s Mixology Monday post.