Category: Oh My That is Strong


There’s a new ingredient in the house – Calvados.  I never knew that it was extra special apple brandy – but now I know.  Apparently the stuff has been around since the time of Charlemagne and was originally a type of cider.  Much like Champagne, Calvados has been given its own “appellation”, and it became official in 1942.  Wow – enough history, how does the stuff taste?  This is the second cocktail I have sampled containing Calvados, and I have to say that the most pleasing part of the drink is the strong fresh apple smell that comes along with it.  I fear in this cocktail, its partners in crime may conspire to mask its delicious flavor.

  • 1.5 ounces Calvados
  • 0.75 ounces gin
  • 0.75 ounces scotch

Shake over ice and serve in a martini glass over ice.  Garnish with a lemon twist.

Dave’s Thoughts:

  • This drink has four distinct parts as you sip – it starts with a hint of apple, quickly taken over by the flavor of the scotch, not to outdone the dryness of the gin comes through and the finish comes back it the scotch.  Interesting progression.
  • The fresh apple scent is nowhere to be found… you would be hard pressed to know it was here unless told.
  • You have to like your liquors for this, it is not a sweet or smooth drink.

Tasting Notes:

  • Dave’s Rating: 3/10
  • Strength: 8/10
  • Sweetness: 3/10
  • The one thing I’ll give this drinks is good looks!

Southern Martini


Sometimes you need a classic martini to set the evening off right.  No fruity pretense, and none of that dry vermouth to scare us away.  Allow me to present the Southern Martini.  A classic gin martini that features a hint of orange to add to the flavor.  A freshly poured martini has that naturally cloudy texture, that gradually fades to a crisp clear liquid.  No one will mistake you for an armature.

  • 3 ounces gin (Bombay Sapphire)
  • 0.5 ounces triple sec
  • 3 dashes of orange bitters

Combine ingredients over ice in a cocktail shaker, stir well and strain into a chilled martini glass.  Garnish with a lemon twist.

Dave’s Thoughts:

  • Don’t let the triple sec or the orange bitters fool you, this is a dry martini.
  • There is an oh so subtle hint of orange deep down inside, but you will need to let the drink sit on your tongue to notice.
  • If served to an unsuspecting friend, they would swear there was a full measure of dry vermouth included.

Tasting Notes:

  • Dave’s Rating: 6/10 (a little too dry for my taste)
  • Strength: 9/10
  • Sweetness: 2/10
  • A great alternative to a classic martini.

I was berated for being ordinary for last nights cocktail.  Buy you have to remember, I need to add all the boring drinks for completeness.  Its all good that you know how to make a fancy cocktail, but what if you want to know how to make something more pedestrian.  Instead of making my case – here’s another fancy one – the New Orleans Martini.

3 ounces vanilla vodka

  • 0.5 ounce dry vermouth
  • 0.5 ounce Pernod
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters
  • mint sprig for garnish

Dave’s Thoughts:

  • The first sip, phew this is strong.  Sounds so much better than the taste.
  • The undertone is vanilla, but the aniseed of Pernod also permeates the drinks.
  • Let’s look to the positive – the drink has a fun in golden tinge.

Tasting Notes:

  • Dave’s Rating: 3/10
  • Strength: 8/10
  • Sweetness: 3/10
  • New Orleans is a fun place so I hear, this drink – not so much.

Hasty Martini

Sometimes a name has nothing to do with the drink.  Maybe I just don’t get the name, but I don’t understand what exactly is hasty about this drink.  Seemed like a good one to try, although like all drinks with dry vermouth, I am always a little nervous about how this will taste – it could be great or awful.

  • 3 ounces gin
  • 0.5 ounce dry vermouth
  • 3 to 5 dashes of Pernod
  • 1 teaspoon grenadine

Combine the ingredients over ice in a cocktail shaker, shake, strain and serve in a martini glass.

Dave’s Thoughts:

  • The drink is dominated by the dry flavors of the gin and vermouth – if you don’t like those flavors stay away.
  • There is an interesting spiciness to the aftertaste that comes from the subtle hint of Pernod.
  • Definitely a tough first sip, but more enjoyable each time you come back for another.

Tasting Notes:

  • Dave’s Rating: 4/10
  • Strength: 9/10
  • Sweetness: 3/10
  • It might be pink, and it may have grenadine, but this is no Shirley Temple.

This is a drink near and dear to my heart.  Right below the heart.  In the vicinity of the liver.

I have already reminisced about my days at Wild Wooly’s in Chula Vista back in my Junior College days, and this is the drink that I graduated to after drinking those Midori Sours we’ve already talked about.  I remember ordering these for $6 and being amazed at how much liquor was actually in these things.  There was no better buzz for the buck.

Needless to say it’s been a while since I have made myself one of these – but I remember how.  Truth is, while I don’t like to brag – I make a mean Long Island Iced Tea.  Now I am half way through one, so forgive any spelling and grammatical errors.

  • 1.5 ounces vodka (use a premium, Kettel One)
  • 1.5 ounces light rum (Bacardi)
  • 1.5 ounces gin (Bombay Sapphire)
  • 1.5 ounces tequila (Jose Cuervo)
  • 1.5 ounces sweet and sour
  • Coca Cola to taste

Pour everything in a pint glass over ice, give it a stir and serve.

Dave’s Thoughts:

  • As you sip, you are thinking “there are how many shots of liquor in here”, cause it doesn’t taste like it.
  • Then you get halfway through and you think “wow, there’s a lot of liquor in here”.
  • Go easy on this one – it’s dangerous.

Tasting Notes:

  • Dave’s Rating: 9/10
  • Strength: 10/10
  • Sweetness: 5/10
  • Warning Will Robinson.

Desperate Martini

When Kathryn was a young lass (and I think that she was not alone in this) she thought that blackberry brandy was a great way to start her drinking career.  Then she tried it and realized while it did have blackberry flavor, it also has brandy – not a drink for a novice palate.  Now I have never tried the stuff for some reason and I keep seeing it in recipes, so I just had to get me some, especially as Ralph’s as having their 30% off 6 bottles of liquor sale!  Not only did I try it, I went all in with blackberry brandy AND dry vermouth… is this a dangerous combination or a fantastic blend of flavors…

  • 3 ounces gin (Bombay Sapphire)
  • 0.5 ounce dry vermouth
  • 0.5 blackberry brandy
  • fresh blackberries to garnish (we had to forgo these today).

Pour the liquid in a martini glass over ice and shake, serve in a chilled martini glass and garnish with fresh blackberries.

Dave’s Thoughts:

  • Whoa.  Gin, dry vermouth… is there blackberries in here ?  Could have fooled me.
  • On a second and third sip, the powerful dry vermouth flavor gets a little more friendly… like that person from your past that friended you on Facebook that you really didn’t want to know any more, but you decide it’s not so bad they know what you’re doing after reading a couple of their posts.
  • The drink has a hint of blackberries and honestly I cannot taste the brandy.
  • If you’re desperate, you might want to make this for yourself.

Tasting Notes:

  • Dave’s Rating: 3/10
  • Strength: 9/10 (careful… lots of liquor in here)
  • Sweetness: 1/10
  • I think I may have made the same mistake Kathryn did many years ago.  One of these days I’ll find a good use for blackberry brandy.

Honeydew Martini

Time for another martini tonight.  perusing the my martini recipe book and I found something fun – the Honeydew Martini – lots of vodka and a bit of flavor to enjoy.

  • 4.5 ounces of vodka (Ketel One)
  • 0.75 ounce of melon liqueur (Midori)
  • 0.75 ounce of triple sec
  • lemon twist

Get your shaker, fill with ice, add the liquor and shake it up.  Serve it up into a martini glass, garnish with the lemon.

Dave’s Thoughts:

  • Not a fun fruity cocktail, this is a strong martini with a hint of sweetness.
  • The first taste is the Midori, but the finish is all vodka.
  • Next time you have a party and someone orders something fun – here you go – looks good and will help get the party going!

Tasting Notes:

  • Dave’s Rating: 6/10
  • Strength: 9/10
  • Sweetness: 4/10
  • This is an interesting one, not sweet enough to be friendly, too fruity to be serious.

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!


Not all drinks can be winners.  This is what happens when you try too hard to be Mexican.  There’s Mexican limes, Mexican coke, and tequila, and a glass rimmed with salt… the only thing missing is a dash of hot sauce.  This drink is apparently the specialty of a bar in the town of Tequila, and to me I think they have drunk too much of their product to have a rational opinion about what is good.  They say it’s the ONLY drink they serve.  I guess if it’s all you’ve got, it’s better than nothing.

  • 3 ounces white tequila
  • Mexican coke
  • 1 Mexican lime
  • rock salt

Rim a rocks glass with the lime and rock salt.  Fill glass with ice, pour in the tequila, squeeze in half the lime, top off with coke, stir with the knife you cut the lime with.

Dave’s Thoughts:

  • Well, nothing like ruining Mexican coke with the addition of Mexican tequila.
  • The salt adds… a bad taste.  No help here.
  • You put it all together and realize you should have just used rum.

Tasting Notes:

  • Dave’s Rating: 2/10
  • Strength: 8/10 (maybe not in alcohol content, but definitely in flavor)
  • Sweetness: 5/10
  • As a public service, I suggest you skip the town of Tequila.