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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Go tropical on Margarita Day with a Tuaca Tropical Margarita

National Margarita Day (don’t you think it should be a national holiday?) is February 22.  Salt Lake City cocktail lovers may not be aware that 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 makes up 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.  Over the years, the Utah Mixologist has made (and drunk) a number of traditional Margaritas that is lost in the sands of time.  Like most of you, this mixologist likes to vary his cocktail intake.  A different take on the Margarita is the Tuaca Tropical Margarita: it has Tequila and lemon juice, just like your favorite traditional Margarita, but it gets a different, more tropical, twist from the addition of Tuaca® Liqueur.

Tuaca is a “vanilla citrus liqueur” that is golden brown in color, originated in Firenze 500 years ago, and is available in Utah today!  Its ingredients include brandy, citrus (orange?), and vanilla. Tuaca is sweet tasting, with vanilla as the dominant flavor.  The Utah Mixologist has never been known to turn down a tropical drink (much as he loves his whiskey cocktails), so when he received the recipe for the Tuaca Tropical Margarita, he had to give it a try.  The pineapple and fruitiness would incline one towards placing this cocktail in the Mai Tai family, but the addition of Tequila forces a quick turn in the direction of Margaritaville. 

Tuaca Liqueur (CS# 077786) is available in Utah in general distribution, as is Tequila Herradura® Reposado (CS# 003657) so both should be available in most stores.  If you need to pick one (or both) up, you should call ahead if your local Utah State Liquor Store is a small one.  Now you should be ready for National Margarita Day.

Tuaca® Tropical Margarita
  • 2 parts (2 oz) Tuaca® Liqueur
  • 1 part (1  oz) Tequila Herradura® Reposado
  • ½ part (½ oz) simple syrup (or Agave Nectar)
  • ¼ part (¼ oz) fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 4 one-inch squares fresh pineapple

Muddle the pineapple squares well in a cocktail shaker (be sure to get all of the juice out) and then add the remaining ingredients and fill shaker 2/3 full with ice. Shake enthusiastically and strain over fresh ice into a pre-chilled Old Fashioned glass. Garnish with a pineapple wedge and (since it’s a tropical drink) a neon red cherry.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Campden Cocktail – a Gin and Lillet classic

Salt Lake City cocktailians who like to experiment with classic cocktails will recall the recent post on the Calvados cocktail from the Savoy Cocktail Book (1930), one of the classic cocktail books written at the height of Prohibition by the great Harry Craddock, barman at The American Bar in the Savoy Hotel, London.  The Calvados is, of course, based on the well-known French Apple Brandy, but the other evening in the hope of finding an interesting Gin-based cocktail, the Utah Mixologist picked up the Savoy book, opened it to his marker, and spotted a likely candidate on the page facing the Calvados.

Little is known about the origins of the not very well known Campden cocktail.  Even the meaning of the name is lost; while there is a Campden Hill neighborhood in London, there is no reason to believe that the cocktail is named after it.  Furthermore, if the recipe in the Savoy is followed, the cocktail is a little too sweet for modern tastes, so it has not been popular during the intervening years.  That failing, however, is easily fixed.

The recipe just calls for “Dry Gin”.  When Dale DeGroff made me a Martini at Portland Cocktail Week, he used Plymouth® Gin.  Plymouth is a brand name for a distinct type of Gin that legend says was used in the first Martini cocktail.  It’s made at the Blackfriars Distillery in Plymouth (it used to be a monastery).  There were bottles of Bombay Sapphire® and Hendrick’s® Gin in the bar, and it was a tough decision, but the Plymouth won out.  Feel free, however, to use your Gin of choice. 

The original Savoy recipe includes Kina Lillet, which had quinine in it, but is no longer made.  The closest approximation available today is Cocchi Apertivo Americano®, which sadly is not available in Utah.  (You can get around this problem by using Lillet® Blanc with a dash of Angostura® Bitters as in the recipe below, but substitute the Cocchi if you can get it.)   The sweetness issue was addressed by going after the source and cutting the amount of Cointreau® in half (if you don’t have Cointreau, substitute Grand Marnier® or your favorite orange liqueur).  This cocktail remains slightly sweet, but you should enjoy the complex taste as the herbs and botanicals from the Gin and Lillet come through the orange flavor of the Cointreau.

Campden Cocktail
  • 1 ½ oz Plymouth Gin
  • 3/4 oz Lillet (see text)
  • 1 dash Angostura Bitters
  • 3/8 oz Cointreau

Add ingredients to a mixing glass 2/3 full of ice.  Stir briskly for 20-30 seconds until well chilled.  Strain into a pre-chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a long, languorous twist of orange peel.  Enjoy!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Cocktail ingredients Utah update – February 2012

When Utahans walk into the Utah DABC State Liquor Stores this month they will be able to say “well, at least it’s better than last month...” as the number of marked down items has increased into the low end of “average”.  Special Price Adjustments (SPAs) originate with the distributors of the products, not the UDABC (only Clearance item price reduction come from the UDABC).  This month the number of items on SPA rose from barely over 200 to around 250, barely half of the over 500 items marked down in December.  Cocktailians looking to stock their bars cab see that this is not the time, but there are still a few quality cocktail ingredients available.

If you’re into Bourbons, Jim Beam Black Label® (CS# 019026) is available for $20 ($2 off) and makes a great Orange Robert, which is a fun drink.  There are a total of two single barrel or small batch Bourbons marked down less than 10%: a Basil Hayden® and an Evan Williams®.  There are only two Scotch Whiskies marked down this month: Johnnie Walker® Red 1750ml is marked down $3 to $47, so if you’re looking for something to put into a Rob Roy give it a try, and there’s a MacAllan® Ten Year Old marked down a generous 5%.  As usual, the number of Rye Whiskies on SPA this month is low: zero.  If you need some liqueurs, Di Saronno® and Di Amore® Amarettos have both been marked down a little over 10% this month, while some Baileys® Cream liqueurs have been marked down a little under 10%.

The number of Tequilas on SPA this month has been generously increased from three to five!  Discerning Tequila lovers may want to eschew  the Tortilla Gold Blend® at $6, but the Herradura® Añejo (CS# ) marked down $5 to $47 might be worth the investment.  Regular readers will know that a good Silver (or Plata or Blanco) is an essential ingredient in the ever popular Margarita, and the offering in that category this month is Cuero Especial®.  For those who love Cosmopolitans or Vodka Martinis, there are nine Vodkas on SPA in a large range of prices, with Belvedere Intense® (5% to $38) leading the pack.  Monopolowa Potato®, down 7.4%, may interest some of you.

There’s almost no excitement in the Rum shelves this month.  Bottles of Bacardi 8® are marked down around 16% to $16, and that’s it!  Let’s hope for better pricing next month.  As to any other sale or clearance items, if you see anything at your local state store that other cocktailians might enjoy, 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.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Super Bowl party? Why not make it a cocktail party?

It’s almost Super Bowl Sunday, and while most football Salt Lake City fans may not be personally invested in either team, it’s still a great excuse for a party.  While “beer” may pop into your mind as you plan your Super Bowl party (and you will certainly see enough beer commercials during the game), Utah cocktailians know that less filling cocktails are a better choice.  The secret of success is to offer tall (and therefore more dilute) drinks.  For Super Bowl cocktails, your best bet is to have ingredients for a variety of easy-to-mix, long drinks available to please all of your guests.  Select some cocktail recipes based on three or four liquors (e.g. Rum, Gin, and Tequila) so you have something to please everyone, invest in some citrus and mixers, grab some glasses and straws, and you’re ready for the kick-off. 

If that sounds too complicated, you could try a punch.  Punches are easy to make and require little attention once the party gets going.  One that the Utah Mixologists likes is President’s Punch, a delicious Rum punch for which you may already have most of the ingredients.  If you don’t feel like a Rum punch, that article contains some links to other punch recipes and related materials.  If you decide on punch, you might want to check your supplies just in case you need a quick run to the liquor store.  Remember: punch may be stronger than it tastes, so remind your guests to be careful.

Cocktails, punch, or beer, you should keep in mind that four or five hours of drinking is too much. Pace yourself, have lots of 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.  Always drink responsibly…
Here are links to some simple, classic long drink recipes, check out the ingredients and find some that sound good, then stock up and enjoy your cocktail fueled Super Bowl party!