Category: Drink Review

Raspberry Press

Happy Hour at the Melting Pot!  Met up with our friend after her performing her civic duty on a jury.  Needless to say she was in need of a drink.  Started the evening a Vin de Syrah, moved upstairs for some cheese fondue at The Melting Pot.  This has to be one of the best happy hour deals in downtown San Diego.  Let’s just say that the bartender made it even cheaper.  Oh, and by the way, its International Women’s Day.

It was dealers choice at the bar.  After looking over the cocktail choices on the Happy Hour menu they all seemed kind of feminine.  Being a man I asked him if he could take it up a notch.  What lay before me was a double Raspberry Press.

  • Raspberry Vodka
  • Soda Water
  • Seven Up

Served in a pint glass over ice.  Garnished with an orange slice.

Dave’s Thoughts:

  • Tastes like one of those flavored soda water drinks – you know – the ones without any sugar.
  • The vodka fades away in the drink, and you get the taste of raspberry and the scent of the orange,
  • Drink up – this one’s strong.

Tasting Notes:

  • Dave’s Rating: 6/10
  • Strength: 7/10
  • Sweetness: 3/10
  • One was enough.  Mediocre and strong.

Bourbon Smash

With the wife frolicking around in upstate New York, it was the perfect time for a guys night.  I don’t get together enough with my old friends from high school, but every time I do it’s always fun.  Tonight had some special news – our buddy Matt got engaged!  Even more importantly, at the bar he has all grown up and in lieu of his normal Jack & Diet he order a drink close to my heart – a Maker’s & Coke.  Matt, you are now a man.

Let’s get back to my drinking.  Turns out the bartender at Jaynes Gastropub had a past life as a bartender at Noble Experiment and all the good recipes that entails.  So it was dealers choice for a bourbon drink, and she served up a Bourbon Smash.  She even was kind enough to share the recipe.

  • 2 ounces of bourbon (Makers Mark, of course)
  • 0.5 a lemon
  • 9-10 mint sprigs
  • 0.75 ounces of simple syrup (bartender demanded 1:1 mix)

Muddle the lemon and the min leaves in the bottom a shaker, add ice and the liquids, shake it up and strain in a rocks glass over ice, garnish with mint sprig.

Dave’s Thoughts:

  • Well, her training served her well, this is a damn good cocktail.
  •  It has a great citrus flavor and is well-balanced.
  • Nice sweetness with a minty finish.

Tasting Notes:

  • Dave’s Rating: 9/10
  • Strength: 5/10
  • Sweetness: 7/10
  • Perfect drink to celebrate a buddy’s pending nuptials.

Whitehall Bloody Mary

I’m not sure if it came through enough in the review of the Delta Bloody Mary as how bad that drink was.  I know I did not pan it completely, but it was a drink that just laid there on my tray table mocking me with its mediocrity.  Our brunch stop on Sunday was Whitehall Bar + Kitchen, and what better drink to go along with brunch than a Bloody Mary, lets see how it goes.

  • Vodka
  • Bloody Mary Mix
  • A ridiculous amount of Horseradish.
  • Celery Stick to garnish.

Served in a pint glass over ice.

Dave’s Thoughts:

  • Better, I will admit, but not great.  I was hoping for more.
  •  I asked for it spicy, which apparently means heap on the Horseradish.  Okay, I get that, but what about some spice?  Seemed to lack any tabasco or other spicy addition.
  • Overall, this was a good drink, just a little thin and not a “wake me up” kind of Bloody Mary.

Tasting Notes:

  • Dave’s Rating: 6/10
  • Strength: 3/10
  • Sweetness: 3/10
  • The quest for a great Bloody Mary continues.  Maybe I will just have to make my own.

Couple of days behind, but fear not, I have been keeping up with the drinks!  I have a couple more drink reviews from our trip to New York and have made a few of my own in the past couple of days and just haven’t found the time to post.  So forgive the gratuitous Facebook updates.

First up – the Laurel & Hardy.  This concoction (this is the correct word) comes from one of the Momofuku chain of fancy New York eateries, you know, the places that lunch costs $200 per person.  That was too pricey for us, so we planted ourselves at their new bar called Booker and Dax for a cocktail and a pork bun.  This place is definately one to check out – they use all kinds of fun stuff like liquid nitrogen to make their cocktails.  My selection was the Laurel & Hardy.

  • Rye
  • Congnac
  • Maraschino Liqueur
  • Fernet
  • Benedictine
  • Mole Bitters

I could not tell you the proportions, but this drink is stirred (about 100 times) in a pint glass over ice and strained into an old fashioned champagne glass.

Dave’s Thoughts:

  • Before going any further, I need to confess that I have no idea what Fernet, Benedictine or Mole Bitters are.  So don’t ask.
  • The taste is very herbal, almost minty.  Almost.
  • VERY smooth.  These guys no what they are doing.  All of the ingredients seem to come together as a very balanced  cocktail.
  • You get that great maraschino (nutty) flavor in the aftertaste.

Tasting Notes:

  • Dave’s Rating: 7/10.  No question as exquisite cocktail, just wouldn’t call it MY favorite.
  • Strength: 7/10.  Just about perfect.
  • Sweetness: 3/10.  Not a frilly drink.
  • This was advertised as a great sipper, and they tell no lies.  I don’t think with the effort I saw the bartender use to make each of his cocktails you can go wrong here.  Add it to the places to visit.


Thanks to Kathryn’s friend Jennifer, we found a fantastic bar hidden behind ove Grand Central Station in NYC – the Campbell Apartment.  After looking over the menu I found what appeared to be a refinement of last months D.O.T.M. – the Kentucky River.

  • bourbon
  • Creme de cacao
  • Grenadine
  • Lemon juice

Served up in a martini glass, garnish with a maraschino cherry.

Dave’s Thoughts:

  • Whoa, this is a great drink. Each taste is better.
  • The drink is a little sweet, and the bourbon is in the background, overall this drink is nothing but smooth.
  • This is no Kentucky River, totally different drink.

Tasting Notes:

  • Dave’s Rating: 9/10
  • Strength: 6/10
  • Sweetness: 8/10
  • This could be all the reason you need to visit NYC.

Vernaccia di San Gimignano

Time for another this day in drink episode.  Today is national drink wine day.  Who thought there was a day, Kathryn had convinced me that every day was a day to drink wine.

Wondering the streets of New York, we stumbled on a cute looking Italian restaurant, so we walked in and pulled up a seat at the bar.  In honor of the day, I just had to order a glass.  What better than the wine seved at our wedding Vernaccia di San Gimignano.

Dave’s Thoughts:

  • The wine is nice, the predominant flavor is peaches.
  • It’s a very light wine, almost thin.
  • Easy drinking.

Tasting Notes:

  • Dave’s Rating: 5/10
  • Strength: ?  Where is the liquor?
  • Sweetness: 4/10
  • A great wine to serve at your, err, my wedding.

King’s Cocktail

First stop on the birthday parade was Avenue 5 in Banker’s Hill.  Upon arriving at the bar and surveying the drink menu there was really only one choice to make – The King’s Cocktail!  That number one in the picture is for drink number one of… many.

  • Vodka
  • Blood Orange Reduction
  • Orange Liqueur

Dave’s Thoughts:

  • Continuing the theme of orange drinks for the start of the evening!
  • The drink has the distinct flavor of orange as you would expect, but is missing something.  It’s like it is missing the punch of the orange.  Perhaps it just lacks the sweetness you come to expect with the taste of orange.
  • Interestingly I tried a couple of other cocktails at the bar, and while each had a different starring ingredient, they all were missing the same “punch”.  Odd.

Dave’s Rating:

  • Dave’s Rating: 5/10
  • Strength: 4/10
  • Sweetness: 4/10
  • Not bad, but hard to recommend.

Tonight we are going to start two new periodic features on the blog.  The first is that tonight I will be reviewing a drink made for me in a bar instead of some homemade concoction.  This means that I may not have the measurements on how to repeat the drink, but I tell you what the menu says, how it tastes and where you can get it.  If it’s that good I may even try to replicate it at home.  The second new addition will be a “This Day in Drink”.  Periodically we’ll see what happened in the world that relates to the art of making drinks, call it a fun interesting fact de jour.

T.D.I.D.:  On this day in 1990 Darryl Strawberry voluntarily entered alcohol rehab.  Thought I would start with a positive one!

Back to the drinks.  Tonight we joined our friends for dinner and drinks at Saltbox at the Palomar in downtown San Diego.  After reviewing the choices, it seemed easy – the Bourbon Peach Tower.  It was intriguing as it not only contained bourbon, but also because it was made with an egg white!  I have always been nervous about a drink with an egg in it, so have always been too chicken (pun intended) to try for myself.  So here goes:

  • Peach Tea Infused Wild Turkey 81 Bourbon
  • lemon
  • honey
  • egg whites
  • Peychaud’s Bitters

Drink served up in an old fashioned champagne glass.

Dave’s Thoughts:

  • First the looks – what a cool looking frothy top!  I guess there is a reason to add egg whites to a drink.
  • Now on to the taste – the first impression is – “wow this is fragrant”, it almost tastes of perfume.
  • For a drink advertised as containing peach you sure has heck can’t taste it!

Tasting Notes:

  • Dave’s Rating: 4/10
  • Strength: 3/10 (did it have alcohol – just asking…)
  • Sweetness: 7/10
  • Basically the drink taste of grandma… like bad perfume.  You can skip this one.

Final note:  Saltbox is one to skip.  The food is okay, but the prices are outrageous.