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Tequila and Grapefruit — the Paloma

It’s May of 1862, the early days of the American Civil War. Mexico had a war on its hands, too; they were fighting the French, and it was going poorly.

Continue reading “Tequila and Grapefruit — the Paloma”

A return to Havana: the Airmail Cocktail

Some months back, I made a passing reference to the Airmail Cocktail. The Airmail deserves more attention, and what better time to talk about champagne and rum than New Year’s Eve.

Continue reading “A return to Havana: the Airmail Cocktail”

Back to the tropics with the Queen’s Park Swizzle

I hadn’t paid attention to swizzles until a couple of months ago. I had always found the name amusing, but I had never bothered to learn about them—so many cocktails, so little time. Then Tony Harion suggested I add the Queen’s Park Swizzle to my list of summertime coolers, and my interest was piqued. It was a hot day, and I had a brand new ice crusher, so it was time to learn about swizzles.
Continue reading “Back to the tropics with the Queen’s Park Swizzle”

Margarita — the Tequila Daisy

I remember the first time I made a Margarita. It was shockingly good, completely different from anything I had been served in a restaurant or bar. It wasn’t the tequila—I’m certain I was using a famous cheap gold blend, or mixto; no, it was the fresh lime juice, bright and sassy, and it raised the drink to an eye-opening new level. There’s no two ways about it: tequila and fresh lime go perfectly together; tequila and industrial sweet/sour or Margarita mix, not so much. Continue reading “Margarita — the Tequila Daisy”

The Old Cuban Cocktail

You could think of the Old Cuban as a Mojito for grown-ups—more refined, more complex, and more sophisticated than the popular, tall summer drink. It starts with the same set of fundamental flavors—rum, sugar, mint, lime, soda—but expands on them to arrive at a delicious and memorable cocktail. Continue reading “The Old Cuban Cocktail”

What flavor is your Cosmopolitan?

There are only a few vodka cocktails important enough that every bartender should know how to make them. The Kangaroo leads the list (usually under its street name, “Vodka Martini.”) Next in line is the Cosmopolitan. Continue reading “What flavor is your Cosmopolitan?”

Detroit’s Finest: The Last Word Cocktail

The Last Word is another of those cocktails that just doesn’t look right on paper. Chartreuse and Maraschino? C’mon, man, that doesn’t make any sense at all. Continue reading “Detroit’s Finest: The Last Word Cocktail”

Gimlet Cocktail: the libertarian’s delight

It seems that the better known a cocktail is, the more it resists the constricts of a recipe—as Jimmy Durante used to say, “everybody wants to get into the act.” A few of the most famous don’t even adhere to a canonical list of ingredients—for example, the Martini, which Camper English recently described as “a set of variables and constants,” rather than a single drink.

The Gimlet carries this free-for-all to an extreme. Continue reading “Gimlet Cocktail: the libertarian’s delight”

Tequila and Campari—The Amargo Cocktail

Our holiday travels took us through Madison WI this week, which gave us a a chance to dine again at Harvest. The restaurant has a small and elegant bar, with a cocktail list that matches the kitchen’s reputation for interesting flavors and careful presentation.  The house cocktails are all designed by proprietor Tami Lax; some are new inventions, some personalized expressions of the classics.

This time I sampled the Amargo Cocktail, one of Lax’s originals. Given its name, it is not surprising that this is a Campari and tequila drink, with a heady dose of citrus to top it up.

Continue reading “Tequila and Campari—The Amargo Cocktail”

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