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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Negroni Sbagliato: nothing more than a messed up Negroni?

When the Negroni is one of your favorite cocktails (you can usually tell that it is when you pre-mix six of them in an old Campari® bottle to save time when you get the urge for an aperitivo), your senses become supernaturally attuned to any mention (even in print) of the word “Negroni”.  This happened just the other day when there was a long, but fascinating, article on the Negroni Sbagliato.  Sbagliato is Italian for a mistake or a screw-up, so what turns the Negroni Sbagliato into a screwed-up Negroni?  The substitution of dry, sparkling wine for the Gin.  Now don’t confuse the Negroni Sbagliato with the Sparkling Negroni that contains both Gin and sparkling wine, this is a substitution.

Recipes for the Negroni Sbagliato abound on the web. All start with the basic ingredients of an Americano: Campari and sweet Vermouth, anywhere from 1 to 1 ½ ounces of each (always in equal proportions).  Many specify prosecco, but feel free to use any decent (but not too expensive) dry, sparkling wine like a Domaine Chandon® or Barefoot Bubbly®.  Campari lovers will go for the larger portions, but that demands a slightly larger glass.  Pre-chilling the Campari and sweet Vermouth by stirring with ice before straining into the Old Fashioned glass is highly recommended, and will produce better results than building this cocktail directly in the glass.  If you like your cocktails dry and a little bitter, you will love the Negroni Sbagliato.

Negroni Sbagliato

1 oz Campari®
1 oz sweet Vermouth (try Vya®)
2-3 oz dry, sparkling white wine

Combine the Campari and sweet Vermouth in a mixing glass with ice and stir briskly.  Strain into a pre-chilled Old Fashioned glass 2/3 full of ice.  Fill with dry, sparkling white wine.  Garnish with orange peel (or better yet, a flamed orange peel), kick back, and imagine yourself in a café on the via Veneto on a balmy, late night in Roma.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Memorial Day marks the start of cocktail cooler season

One of these days the heat of summer will (must!) arrive in Salt Lake City, even if that day may still seem far away.  Memorial Day is the first long week-end of summer (although it’s hard to tell since May has been cool and wet (snowy?) so far). It is also a chance to get together with family and friends for the traditional cook-out on a beautiful, partly cloudy day.  More importantly, though, it is a time to remember those who have died in the service of our country so don’t forget to remember the reason for the day…   

When the heat does arrive, and memory tells us that it will one of these days, we will need to be prepared to cope with the heat with some nice summer coolers.  When that happens, you should have the ingredients for a selection of summer cooler cocktail recipes available to mix and enjoy as you sit and contemplate the yard work you should be doing.  When you plan your next summer cook-out, have the ingredients for two or three of your favorite coolers available for your guests. 

Be sure to pay attention to how much you’re drinking, though.  Remember that these coolers may not taste strong, but they have as much alcohol as any other cocktail.  Cook-out reminder: drink responsibly and don’t play with fire!

Below are links to ten favorite summer cooler cocktails for the Memorial Day week-end and the rest of the summer.  Browse these articles to find a cooler you like the looks of, and these and a couple more ideas are in this slide show. 

Flags fly over the graves of Civil War veterans in Montpelier, Vt. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot)

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Rapture cocktail will carry you off to heaven

Salt Lake City cocktailians will be relieved to know that the Rapture scheduled for 6:00 PM Saturday is based on local time (according to MSNBC), not Eastern Time or the even more remote (and early in the day) GMT.  That means that there is a whole hour between the official beginning of Cocktail Hour (5:00 PM local time) and the official beginning of the Rapture (6:00 PM local time).  Wise readers will be prepared to make good use of this time whether they expect to be raptured or, like the Utah Mixologist, suspect that it is more likely that they will be left behind. 

Developing a Rapture cocktail recipe required many decisions.  First, should it be shaken or stirred?  This was a tough decision because during the giant earthquake that will follow quickly on the tail of the rapture, you will not have to do any shaking; just strap your shaker to the bar and the earthquake will shake up anything you have prepared with no effort on your part. Oh, frabjous day, self-shaking cocktails!  So let’s go with stirring, just to be contrary.  The next decision was the base liquor: Gin, Whiskey, and Rum were under consideration.  Demon Rum in close association with Judgment Day might give rise to some uncomfortable thoughts, so it was selected.   Campari was chosen to represent the bitterness to be felt by those left behind, while Cointreau® Orange Liqueur was chosen to echo the sweet happiness of the elect.  Sweet Vermouth was included because of the botanicals; Judgment Day calls for natural ingredients redolent of the Garden of Eden.  Here’s hoping that your first sip of a Rapture cocktail will carry you away.

Be sure to be prepared when Cocktail Hour rolls around tomorrow.  Use your best liquor (feel free to “top shelf” this recipe, but do not downgrade the Rum), and if you don’t have all of the ingredients, charge them on your credit card.  Remember, you deserve the best, and this may be your last chance to enjoy it.  Speaking of the best, you might want to get started tonight on drinking up “the good stuff” in your bar tonight, no reason to let it go to waste.

  • 2 oz Appleton Estate® Reserve Rum
  • ½ oz Campari®
  • ½ oz Cointreau® Orange Liqueur
  • ½ oz sweet Vermouth (try Vya®)
  • 1 dash (1/8 tsp) Regans’® Orange Bitters

Combine ingredients in a mixing glass 2/3 full of ice.  Stir briskly like the Devil himself is after you ( he probably is).  Strain into a pre-chilled cocktail glass.  Serve with an orange twist, and enjoy!  Remember: this may be the last cold drink you ever have.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Cocktail ingredients Utah update – May 2011

Whenever a new month rolls around on the calendar, a new set of “Special Price Adjustments” is rolled out at the Utah DABC State Liquor Stores.  This month is no different.  There are surprisingly few Bourbons on sale this month when you consider that the Kentucky Derby officially kicks off the Mint Julep season every May.  On the other hand, lovers of sparkling wines and Champagne cocktails have a pleasant surprise in (their local) store as Piper Sonoma® Brut (CS# 757205) has been discontinued and is marked down almost 25% to $14.63.  One can never tell if “discontinued” means it’s gone for good or if the distributor is changing, but it’s still a good opportunity to stock up.  Be sure to call ahead if that’s all you’re looking for.

If you like Appleton Estate® Rums, you will like the Rum deals this month.  Not only is Appleton Estate V/X Rum® (a blend of 15 Rums aged 5 to 10 years) marked down 15% to $17 this month, but Appleton Estate Reserve Jamaica Rum®  (CS# 042020) (a blend of 20 Rums, each aged a minimum of 8 years in used Jack Daniels® oak whisky barrels) is coded as discontinued and priced close to $19, a reduction of over 20%.  Both of these hand blended beauties are good sipping Rums, but the Reserve is especially fine.  If you want to mix these quality Rums, try a Rum Old Fashioned.

There is an interesting item on the Gin front this month: Tanqueray Ten® Gin is marked down 10% to $27.  This small-batch Gin is well reviewed and sounds intriguing, post a response if you’ve tried it.  Tequila lovers will be greeted by the usual large number of Tequila SPAs.  Two favorites this month are Milagro® Reposado and Milagro® Silver, both marked down around 12%.  Regular readers will know that a good Silver (or Plata or Blanco) is an essential ingredient in the ever popular Margarita.  As usual, the number of Rye Whiskies marked down this month is low: one (although that is higher than the months it is none).  Jim Beam® 4Year Rye is marked down 20% to $12 and does admirable service in Rye cocktails like the Boulevardier.

 As to any other sale or clearance items, 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 else is on sale (e.g. the wines etc.) 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.

Help on Utah DABC:

Monday, May 9, 2011

World Cocktail Week 2011: 5 spots to celebrate in SLC

World Cocktail Week runs May 6-13, 2011, and commemorates the first time the word “cocktail” was used in print back in 1806. It is, if nothing else, a good excuse to drop by your favorite Salt Lake City watering hole and have a cocktail.  Contrary to popular belief in much of the country, there are many places in downtown SLC (and throughout Utah) to have a cocktail.  Here is a handful to get you started , not only for World Cocktail Week, but all year long.  Since the liberalization of Utah Liquor Laws, there are a lot fewer private clubs in Utah.  Many of the best spots for cocktails are still linked to restaurants, though (you wouldn’t want to drink on an empty stomach, would you?), but the first two spots listed here are not.

Bar X is an SLC institution, an ex-Beer bar that now serves excellent craft cocktails.  My review here.
155 E 200 South
Salt Lake City, UT 84102
Tel: 801.355.2287
Info (no web site?)

Kristauf's Martini Bar is a cocktail bar with locations in SLC and Park City and over 75 “Martinis” (cocktails) on the menu.
16 West Market Street
Salt Lake City, UT 84101
Tel: 801.366.9490

Bambara is a great boutique bar attached to a public restaurant.
202 South Main Street
Salt Lake City, UT 84101
Tel: 801.363.5454

The New Yorker Club is an SLC institution, luxurious and pricey.
60 West Market Street (340 South)
Salt Lake City, Utah 84101
Tel: 801.363.0166

Metropolitan restaurant has great cocktails but very pricey food; try the dinner special on Mondays.
173 W Broadway
Salt Lake City, UT 84101
Tel: 801.364.3472

Saturday, May 7, 2011

It’s Derby Day, time for a classic Mint Julep: the ultimate derby cocktail

It’s Derby Day again, and the Derby has a lot of fans in Salt Lake City.  Will you watch the race on TV while sipping a cocktail, or host a Kentucky Derby party, or are you just looking for a good cocktail to enjoy?  The classic Mint Julep is the answer to all of these challenging questions, and is almost a requirement for watching the big race.  A key ingredient for the Mint Julep is fresh mint, and you will need plenty, especially for a party.  Read my recent article on Mint to learn more about buying or growing your own mint.  The crop on the south side of my house will be decimated this morning.

Considering that it’s Mint Julep season, the Utah State Liquor stores have surprisingly few Bourbons on price reduction this month.  If you don’t have a favorite Bourbon, or are looking for a good one on sale, you might want to try Bulleit Bourbon Frontier Whiskey® (CS# 017086) is available for $22 ($5 off).  It’s in general distribution, so your local store should have it.

The traditional Mint Julep is served in a silver or pewter cup, because the metal chills down rapidly as the Julep is stirred, acquiring a cool-looking coat of frost.  Unless you pre-chill your metal cup, however, it will melt more of your ice.  An official cup looks cool, but to tell the truth, you don’t really need one.  If you don’t mind missing out on the frost, you can use an Old Fashioned glass, or even a Collins glass.  Whichever kind of glass you use, pre-chilling it in the freezer or with ice is a good idea.  So get out your muddler and practice your muddling technique so you’ll be ready for Derby Day.  (If you don’t have a muddler, use a spoon or any other blunt instrument that will fit in your mixing glass.)  This delicious cocktail is easy to make and may be enjoyed until the frost kills off your mint crop. 

Mint Julep

6-8 Mint Leaves (large)
½ oz Simple syrup or 2 sugar cubes or 2 tsp. sugar
2 oz Bourbon whiskey

You will build this cocktail in the glass.  Place the mint and simple syrup or sugar into your Julep cup or an Old Fashioned glass (if you’re using sugar, add a teaspoon of water).  Muddle 15-20 times to dissolve the sugar (stir if necessary) and to release the oil and aroma of the mint.  Pour in the bourbon and stir.  Fill the glass with crushed ice and stir briskly until the outside of the glass frosts up.  Garnish with a sprig of mint.

You can also try the Prescription Julep or the Lavender Mint Julep.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Want variety in your Margaritas? Try Chambord Margarita Royale

Looking for something a little different in your Margaritas?  Salt Lake City Margarita lovers are rumored to be growing tired of the “same old same old” frozen Margarita.  As good as Classic Margaritas are, it’s still possible (yes, this is hard to believe) to get tired of them.  So why not try a Chambord® Margarita Royale? Sure, it has Tequila and lime juice; what cocktail worthy of the name Margarita does not?  This recipe substitutes Chambord® Black Raspberry Liqueur (inspired by the raspberry liqueur produced in the Loire Valley of France 400 years ago) for the Triple Sec, and adds some pomegranate juice (pomegranate seeds are sprinkled on chiles en nogada to symbolize the red in the flag of Mexico) to give this delicious cocktail a berry different flavor for a Margarita.

The recipe calls for Herradura® Silver Tequila, which was marked down last month, but sadly is not on sale this month.  On the other hand, Milagro Silver (on sale this month) would be a good one to try if you don’t have any Plata in your bar.  Margaritas taste much better when you use freshly squeezed lime juice, so stop by the grocery and pick up some limes before making your first Chambord® Margarita Royale. 

Chambord Margarita Royale

1 ½ oz Herradura® Silver Tequila
¾ oz Chambord Liqueur
¾ oz Pomegranate Juice
½ oz Fresh Lime Juice

Add ingredients to a shaker 2/3 full of ice and shake well to your favorite Mariachi band.  Strain into a pre-chilled margarita or martini glass. Garnish with raspberries (black, if you can get them).