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Monday, February 21, 2011

National Margarita Day: Time to celebrate

February 22 is National Margarita Day, and we celebrate in Salt Lake City, too.  Got Tequila?  Got limes?  It’s time for a Margarita!  The Margarita is the best selling cocktail in the USA. Tequila Herradura® (not sure if they’re a totally objective source) claims that the margarita represents 18 percent of all mixed drink sales in the U.S., followed by the Martini, Rum and Coke, and Vodka and Tonic.  The Margarita has an average hourly sale rate of 185,000 – that’s over four million a day!  In a country with over 305 million people, it’s obvious that some people are not pulling their weight.

So get out your limes and blender (or shaker), and have at it.  My recipe is here, and there are plenty more available online.  Try out a new recipe February 22, and tailor it to your own taste.  Develop your ultimate Margarita.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Cocktails for Presidents’ Day? Celebrate with Presidents Punch

What better way to celebrate Presidents’ Day than with a nice punch?  Modern cocktails were not yet available, and Rum was the drink of choice in colonial times, so our forefathers consumed it in mass quantities.  (For more on Rum and its history, see Wayne Curtis’ book “and a Bottle of Rum”).  Rum punches were very popular in those days, and today’s Salt Lake City mixologists should have most of the ingredients they need for a fine punch in their bars and kitchens.  Punches are currently experiencing a revival.  Master mixologist David Wondrich’s book on Punch is a great resource, plus he gives a recipe in his post on Punch on the blog at has a recipe for Martha Washington’s Punch that George would have liked, and an earlier post on by mixologist Joaquín Simó provides a tasty sounding punch recipe.  Now the Utah Mixologist is a little lazy, and a lot of these recipes require advance preparation of special syrups etc., so here’s a punch recipe that you might be able to throw together at the last minute.

One possible disadvantage of a punch is that it makes up quite a number of individual drinks, so it’s useful if a recipe is easily divided (or multiplied).  Always make sure that you’re serving a reasonable amount of liquor for the number of people present.  If you have a punch bowl, either use large ice cubes or freeze a large (about a quart) block of ice in advance in a plastic container.  If you decide to freeze a block of ice, you might want to embed some fruit in it for decoration and to add flavor to your punch.  You may want to prepare your punch in advance and refrigerate so the ice doesn’t melt too rapidly in the bowl.  The sweet is one area that may be problematic in this punch.  Falernum has plenty of sugar in it, but not enough to offset all of the lime.  My wife and I like this punch with 3 ounces of Agave Nectar, but you might like it with a bit more; thus the question mark.  Experiment and post the result.

Presidents Punch

18 oz full-flavored Gold Rum
6 oz Grand Gala Liqueur®
9 oz Fresh lime juice
9 oz Fresh orange juice
6 oz Falernum (Fee Bros.®)
3? oz Agave Nectar
6 oz Club Soda

Combine ingredients except Club Soda in a 2 quart pitcher and stir well.  Refrigerate if made in advance.  Serve in a punch bowl with ice, and add the Club Soda.  If serving from a pitcher and pouring into punch glasses, serve over ice and (optionally) top with Club Soda.  Garnish with thinly sliced citrus half-wheels in the bowl or thicker ones on the punch glass. 

Monday, February 14, 2011

Emergency fix: last minute Valentine’s Day cocktails

Whoa, it’s Valentine’s Day, and some Salt Lake City cocktail lovers are doubtless saying “holy moley, I forgot to prep cocktails for V-day!”  Well, whether you went out for dinner and had only one cocktail or glass of wine (so you could safely drive home), or cooked a special Valentine’s Day dinner at home, your best strategy for getting a Valentine’s treat later this evening is to finish with cocktails at home.  So here are a few fast and easy cocktails to help you achieve your goal.  These are red (or at least pink), and should help you gain access to the heart of your Valentine.  Have a great Valentine’s Day, and a better night.

Let’s start with a classic: the Cranberry Champagne Cocktail.  All it takes is a little Grand Marnier (or triple sec), a little cranberry juice, and some of your precious stock of champagne.

If you’re in the mood for something a little stronger that a Champagne cocktail, try a French 75 – a reliable champagne (and gin) cocktail that is sure to have just what you need.  Named after the famous French cannon of World War I, this little beauty has a nice kick and never misfires.

If you’re looking for something that is even stronger, where would Valentine’s Day be without the Cosmopolitan?  While a good Cosmo is pink, not red, adding more Cranberry juice can add color and flavor to your own (and your Valentine’s) taste. 

Hopefully these quick and easy recipes will keep you and your Valentine happy.  Have a Happy Valentine’s Day!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Cocktails for your Super Bowl party… why not?

It’s time for the Super Bowl, and while many football fans in Salt Lake City may not be personally invested in either of the teams, the Super Bowl is still a great excuse to have a party.  While many people think “beer” when planning a Super Bowl party, Utah mixologists know that less filling cocktails are the way to go.  The secret of success is to offer tall (and therefore more dilute) drinks.  Your best bet is to have ingredients for a variety of easy to mix, long cocktails available to please all of your guests.  Select some cocktail recipes based on three or four liquors (e.g. Rum, Gin, and Tequila) to please a variety of guests. 

Or you could try a punch.  Punches are easy to make and require little attention once the party gets going.  Cocktail guru and author David Wondrich’s book on Punch is a great resource, plus he gives a recipe in his post on Punch on the blog at  (The Utah Mixologist highly recommends Wondrich’s book Imbibe!)  Another post on by mixologist Joaquín Simó gives a fun sounding punch recipe.  If you decide on punch, you might want to get going today; some require advance preparation.
Cocktails, punch, or beer, you should keep in mind that four or five hours of drinking is too much. Pace yourself, have some soft-drinks and water available, encourage your guests (and yourself) to take it easy and alternate hard and soft drinks, and, of course, know when to stop.

Here are links to some simple recipes, check out the ingredients and find some you like the looks of, then stock up and enjoy your cocktail fueled Super Bowl party!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Cocktail ingredients Utah update – February 2011

Things seem back to normal at the Utah DABC State Liquor Stores this month; there is the usual mix of items on special price allowance.  Lovers of Rye Whiskey (and the classic cocktails you can make with it) will be pleased to find that Jim Beam® 4-Year old Rye (CS# 027056) is marked down 20% to $12.  A good mixing Rye, the last time the system stocked Beam it was usually only available at the Foothill store.  The supply problem seems to have been solved (in spite of the emerging Rye shortage), and both the Fort Union and Holladay stores have good stocks on hand. Of course, if your local Utah State Liquor Store is a small one, you might want to call ahead. 

February finds some quality Rums on sale (Appleton Estates VX® and Brugal Añejo®), but there’s also the usual selection of spiced, flavored, and homogenized Rums: Bacardi® 8, for example.  For you Tequila lovers, Sauza Tres Generaciones® is marked down 15% from $40 to $34, and should make great Margaritas.  Sippers of single malt Scotches will find offerings from Bowmore® and Dalmore® reduced this month, but not enough to rush out to the store to find.  If you’re looking for some sipping Bourbon, you could try Elijah Craig® 12 Year with a 10% reduction.

For lovers of sparkling wines, a couple of what you might call “value” brands are marked down.  Some Barefoot® Bubblies are marked down 33%, and some Korbel® sparklers are down 21%.  Both are widely available, and would make great Chambord and Champagne cocktails.  There is also the usual variety of wine varietals on sale, some marked down as much as 50%.

Once again this month does not appear to deliver much in the way of exciting cocktail ingredients on clearance.  There are some leftover holiday eggnogs with steep mark-downs, and the usual collection of wines.  If you see anything good at your local state store, post a response to this article.  See the following list “Suggested by the author” for information on how to use the Utah DABC website.  You can check out what’s on sale by clicking through to the “SPA Product List” to open a price book in PDF format that shows all of the markdowns for the current month.