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The Olympic Cocktail

The Lusitania, the Kaiser Wilhelm, the Titanic—before World War I, the great ocean liners were the peak of traveling adventure, luxury, and technology. It was the age of the “greyhounds of the seas.”

Their British and German owners competed for speed, for luxury, and for bragging rights; the twenty years between 1895 and 1915 saw the launches of ever-larger ships, each more lush and decadent than its predecessors. The story of the Titanic provides one of the world’s best-known cautionary tales about the dangers of overweening pride in technology, but, oh, that was a handsome, luxurious, and well-fed ship—for all of the five days it stayed afloat.

As it turns out, the Titanic had a sister ship; Continue reading “The Olympic Cocktail”

Dangerous Drinks: The Whiskey Sour

The Whiskey Sour is all about flavor balance. The drink is very simple—just a spirit, some fresh lemon juice, sugar and water. Too much lemon is just plain harsh. Too much sugar is cloying. Somewhere in between is a simple, tasty refresher. Like the Old Fashioned, it provides a welcome break from the flavor complexities of more sophisticated cocktails. Continue reading “Dangerous Drinks: The Whiskey Sour”

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?”

What color is the Blue Moon Cocktail?

Quick! What color is the Blue Moon Cocktail?

It’s blue, right? It’s called the Blue Moon.

Yes and no. As it turns out, the original Blue Moon was… red.  Continue reading “What color is the Blue Moon Cocktail?”

Cranberry and Bourbon: Reinventing the Bardstown Sling

It’s nearly Thanksgiving in the United States, and my wife commissioned me to invent a harvest-themed cocktail for our traditional family dinner. To guide my thoughts, she suggested a palette of autumn flavors that would complement her dinner: bourbon, cranberry, orange and maple. (It’s going to be a very good dinner…) Continue reading “Cranberry and Bourbon: Reinventing the Bardstown Sling”

Aviation Cocktail

The history of the Aviation Cocktail is a tale of neglect and abuse, rehabilitation and redemption, and even controversy. Sort of like Cinderella with politics. I love these cocktails with stories. Continue reading “Aviation Cocktail”

The Mojito del Coronado Cocktail

I recently noted that rum drinks, notably the Daiquiri, were sneaking into my cocktail repertoire. I was reminded of a visit to San Diego, and to the Babcock and Story bar at the Hotel del Coronado. It was August, a fine, hot, sunny afternoon, with the sea breeze blowing along their great long stretch of hundred-year-old mahogany bartop.  “What have you that’s tall and cool?” asked my bride. “You’ll like our Mojito,” answered the barman, and and went straight to work with his muddler. Continue reading “The Mojito del Coronado Cocktail”

The Daiquiri Cocktail

The Minnesota winter has worn off, and the Daiquiri is gradually supplanting the whiskey sour in my cocktail rotation. I’ve never been much of a rum drinker in the past (I can’t explain that), so this turnabout is unexpected, and welcome. I’m chalking it up to education, broadened interests, and a fascination with classic cocktails.

The Daiquiri is certainly a classic, the first of the really great cocktails to be invented outside the United States. The story is that it was first mixed in 1896 by Jennings Cox, a steel company engineer in Daiquiri, Cuba, who had run out of gin. Continue reading “The Daiquiri Cocktail”

The Countrypolitan Cocktail

I still remember my earliest encounter with a bartender who could remember my cocktails. My bride and I arrived for our first dinner at Goodfellows, which was well on its way to becoming the best restaurant in Minneapolis at the time. We were early, so we wandered into the glass and steel bar, and placed our fledgling-cocktail-drinkers martini orders—one Absolut on the rocks, one Tanqueray up with olive. The drinks arrived cold and clear, and we had become David’s new customers.

But that isn’t when we knew he was a first-rate bartender. Continue reading “The Countrypolitan Cocktail”

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