Archive for January, 2012

Mint Condition

There’s something about a drink with peppermint schnapps that I have never understood.  I like mint, especially peppermint, but I have yet to find a drink that has combined my enjoyment of peppermint with alcohol.  Am I the strange one here?  So, let’s see how this suspiciously minty concoction fairs – at least it sounds fun – and it has bourbon!

  • 0.75 ounce of bourbon (Maker’s Mark)
  • 0.75 ounce of peppermint schnapps
  • 0.75 ounce of vodka (Grey Goose)
  • 0.5 ounce of Kahlua

Shake the ingredients vigorously over ice and strain into a chilled sour glass (no ice).

Dave’s Thoughts:

  • This is not to be the drink that converts me to minty libations, it’s just kind of there.
  • Interestingly you can’t taste the bourbon, you can’t taste the Kahlua, and vodka is flavorless so you can’t taste that.  Funny thing is, while minty, it doesn’t even overpower with mint.  It’s like all the other ingredients combine together to soften the mint and then disappear from your palate.  Very odd.
  • Basically it tastes like a mediocre chocolate mint without the chocolate.

Tasting Notes:

  • Dave’s Rating: 3/10 (it is at least drinkable)
  • Strength: 7/10
  • Sweetness: 5/10
  • The quest for a great minty beverage continues…


Fresh from the Hornblower kitchen came a plate of raspberries tonight, so I just had to take advantage.  So after 20 minutes of scouring for a recipe that called for them I found the “Venus”.  I prepared myself to enjoy and sweet beverage, fit to join yesterday’s Ballet Russe, but I couldn’t have been more wrong, and not necessarily in a bad way.

  • 2 ounces gin (Bombay Sapphire)
  • 1 once Cointreau
  • 0.25 ounce simple syrup
  • Dash of Peychaud’s bitters
  • 8 fresh raspberries

Place all the liquid ingredients in a shaker over ice plus 6 of the raspberries, shake vigorously, strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with the two remaining raspberries.  You have made yourself a Venus.

Dave’s Thoughts:

  • This drink is not really sweet at all, with the dryness of the gin keeping the drink well-balanced.
  • Honestly, the drink doesn’t taste that much of raspberry either, with the orange flavor of the Cointreau coming through just as much.
  • A pleasant surprise.

Tasting Notes:

  • Dave’s Rating: 7/10
  • Strength: 6/10
  • Sweetness: 3/10
  • A fruity drink that’s not sweet.

Ballet Russe

The last couple of drinks were a wee bit strong, so time for a martini with more flavor than alcohol – the Ballet Russe.  If you like you martini’s to taste of berries and not knock you off your socks, this is a great choice.  Don’t mistake this for a sickly sweet concoction though, it turns out this is a great combination of flavors.

  • 1 ounce vodka (Grey Goose)
  • 0.75 ounce Creme de Cassis
  • 1.5 ounces of fresh lime juice
  • 0.5 ounce of fresh lemon juice
  • 1 ounce simple syrup

Shake over ice, serve in a martini glass.

Dave’s Comments:

  • But for the alcohol, you could mistake this for a kids drink, you cannot taste the alcohol!
  • Great berry flavor, but not too sweet or too strong.  If you are looking for a fun drink for a guest who doesn’t want a strong drink, this is a great choice.
  • It’s not a manly drink, but you don’t always want to get drunk do you?

Tasting Notes:

  • Dave’s Rating: 8/10
  • Strength: 3/10
  • Sweetness: 7/10
  • The family gave this a sample, and everyone was surprised how nice this cocktail turned out – we have a winner for dinner parties!

The parents came to visit today, and since we always end up having to make them a cup of coffee, I thought it best to try a drink with some coffee liqueur in their honor – Tia Maria.  Of course, when making the drink I misread the recipe, so my version has 3x as much Tia Maria and 3x as much triple sec.  Interestingly enough, what came out was quite pleasant.  So enjoy my screw-up.  I will update this with the correct recipe one of these days, but until then I am christening this “Dave’s Centenario”.  This drink is also in the tradition of a rum punch, with a lot of liquor mixing together with fruit flavors to mask its strength.  I like it.

  • 1.5 ounces gold rum (10 Cane)
  • 0.75 ounce of white rum (Bacardi)
  • 0.75 ounce Tia Maria (oops)
  • 0.75 ounce triple sec (oops again)
  • 1.5 ounces of fresh lime juice
  • Dash of grenadine
  • Garnish with a fresh mint sprig

Lots of ingredients here, throw them in a shaker, shake them up, serve in a collins glass filled with ice.

Dave’s Thoughts:

  • Drink has a sweet start, a tart middle and a finish of coffee.
  • Overall the drink is well-balanced, I think it would be a great summer drink.
  • Be careful, there’s 2.5 shots of liquor in here.

Tasting Notes:

  • Dave’s Rating: 7/10 (1 off for having coffee flavor!)
  • Strength: 8/10
  • Sweetness: 7/10
  • Some screw ups do work out for the best.

Nutty Martini

It’s time to get back to some serious martini’s.  You know, the ones that are straight liquor can be dangerous to drink in pairs.  I have made a lot of the sweeter martini’s over the past few weeks, but there is no juice, no soda and no sweeteners in this one beyond the lemon twist.  Drink this one with care.

  • 3 ounces of vodka (Grey Goose)
  • 0.75 ounces of Frangelico
  • lemon twist

Shake the vodka and Frangelico vigorously over ice, strain into a chiller martini glass and garnish with a lemon twist.

Dave’s Thoughts:

  • This is a strong one, a martini in the true sense.
  • The name is surprisingly appropriate, it’s nutty, it’s a martini.
  • While there is no question this is strong, it’s very drinkable.

Tasting Notes:

  • Dave’s Rating: 8/10
  • Strength: 9/10
  • Sweetness: 4/10
  • This a great way to enjoy a flavorful drink and get a little tipsy at the same time!

Rum Swizzle

We have tried to Rum Cooler, so why not the Rum Swizzle!  I guess the best way to describe this would be to call it the “Advanced Rum Cooler”, and I have to say after tasting this, it is definitely the better alternative, fixing any of my critiques.  Best of all, this doesn’t need a lot of unique ingredients to upgrade your cooler…

  • 2 ounces dark rum (Myers)
  • 0.5 ounce lemon juice
  • 0.5 ounce triple sec
  • 5-6 ounces of ginger ale
  • lemon wheel

Dave’s Thoughts:

  • Take one part Rum Cooler, add a couple of parts lemon juice and triple sec, and you have the new and improved Rum Swizzle!
  • Drink retains the flavor of the rum, but really softens the flavor, making a much more drinkable beverage, loosing all the harshness.

Tasting Notes:

  • Dave’s Rating: 8/10
  • Strength: 4/10
  • Sweetness: 5/10
  • Skip the Rum Cooler, this is better.


Tonight I am drinking with the wife across three-time zones through the wonders of Skype.  In honor of the bad weather that Kathryn is experiencing, I decided to go with the Blizzard!

  • 3 ounces bourbon (Makers Mark)
  • 1 ounce of cranberry juice (unsweetened)
  • 0.5 ounce lemon juice
  • 1 ounce simple syrup
  • lemon slice

Mix the booze and the juice over ice into a shaker, shake, and serve in an ice filled rocks glass.

Dave’s Thoughts:

  • This is another great use for my favorite beverage.
  • I have to say, I am not sure where the name comes from exactly, it’s not blizzardly, however, I am sure the double shot of Makers will keep you warm!
  • The juices blend well together with the bourbon to make a nice cocktail.

Tasting Notes:

  • Dave’s Rating: 8/10 (this was a surprise, it didn’t sound good to me)
  • Strength: 8/10 (two shots of liquor in an easy-going beverage)
  • Sweetness: 5/10
  • This is definitely one to offer up at my next party – easy drinking, tastes great and sure to loosen you up!

Rum Cooler

It is well-known that I love a rum and coke.  So tonight it’s a variation on rum with a sugary beverage – the Rum Cooler.  Instead of coke, this one takes ginger ale – so its a great drink when Mexican coke is not available at the local store!

  • 2.5 ounces dark rum (Myers)
  • 6 ounces ginger ale
  • lemon twist (optional)

Simple to make – fill a glass with ice, pour in the rum, add the ginger ale, give it a sir and serve with a lemon twist.

Dave’s Thoughts:

  • I really enjoy the flavor of dark rum – the thick raw sugar cane flavor with the hint of vanilla in the aftertaste, and that is exactly what you get here.
  • The ginger ale is actually hard to discern, although that is not a negative here.
  • The first taste is a little harsh, mirroring that of the rum, but the reward is great overall flavor.

Tasting Notes:

  • Dave’s Rating: 7/10
  • Strength: 4/10
  • Sweetness: 6/10
  • This is a great alternative when you burn out on rum and coke.

Love Potion

It’s Saturday night before the wife leaves for a week, so tonight we need to break out the Love Potion!  I guess you’ll have to ask Kathryn tomorrow if it had the desired effect!

  • 1.5 ounces lemon vodka (Ketel One)
  • 0.75 ounce Chambord
  • 0.75 ounce cranberry juice (unsweetened)

This is one of those throw it over ice, shake it up, in a martini glass drinks.

Dave’s Thoughts:

  • After drinking I feel like tonight is the night.
  • It’s sweet, but not overpowering, the Chambord is the star of the drink.
  • A drink to make for the ladies.

Tasting Notes:

  • Dave’s Rating: 7/10
  • Strength: 5/10 (but deceptive)
  • Sweetness: 9/10
  • Are there 9 of these?

Whiskey Sour

As the bar book says “the quintessential sour is the whiskey sour” – sounds like something that I have to try.  Even more incredible is the fact that this has my favorite liquor and I didn’t even know – bourbon.  Topping it off, this is apparently a drink from Kathryn’s youth – so this is what she drank before wine…

  • 2 ounces of bourbon (Makers Mark)
  • 0.75 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 0.5 ounce simple syrup
  • lemon or orange slice
  • maraschino cherry (missing from my sample – I can’t stock everything.

This drink must be shaken over ice, can be served in a rocks glass over ice (as tried) or in a sour glass (whatever that is).

Dave’s Thoughts:

  • Drink has a nice flavor of lemon, and the bourbon is more of a pleasant finish.
  • Apparently Esquire called it a “fortified lemonade in concentrated form”, an apt description.
  • Seems like this would be a great drink on a summer day.

Tasting Notes:

  • Dave’s Rating: 8/10
  • Strength: 5/10
  • Sweetness: 6/10
  • I think I could grow to like this.


Try a “Stinger Sour” by adding a teaspoon of peppermint schnapps.  It is actually surprisingly good together, gives a little minted flavor to the lemon flavor.  Almost tastes like a cough drop!  I give it a 7/10.