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Saturday, May 12, 2012

Impress your mother with a special Mother’s Day cocktail

Gin Mint Martini

Sunday is Mother’s Day, and you’re probably taking your mom out to brunch (the Wild Grape Bistro in downtown Salt Lake City is a nice place, as is the Dodo), or having her over to your place for brunch or dinner.  That will be the time to impress her by exhibiting a degree of savoir faire that she never suspected you possessed.  Whether ordering at a restaurant or offering cocktails in your own dining room, Mother will love it when you offer her a cocktail tailored to her taste.  If Mom has a favorite cocktail, and you know what it is, you could start there.  On the other hand, she might enjoy something different.  Here are some suggestions, ordered by the amount of alcohol that they contain, to help Mother relax.  Here’s hoping that you and Mom have a most pleasant Mother’s Day.

The traditional Champagne Cocktail is so simple that I have never even blogged a recipe for it.  Just drop a sugar cube into a champagne flute, add 2-3 dashes of Angostura Bitters, and fill the flute with Champagne.  The recipes for the Kir and the Kir Royale are even easier: Crème de Cassis and dry white wine for the Kir and substitute dry sparkling wine for the Kir Royale.

Another classic that’s almost as simple is the Cranberry Champagne Cocktail.  All it takes is a little Grand Marnier (or a good Triple Sec like Cointreau or Gran Gala Orange Liqueur), a generous splash of cranberry juice, and some Champagne.  If Mom’s in the mood for something a little stronger than a Champagne cocktail, try a French 75 – a reliable Champagne (and Gin) cocktail that has a nice kick.

If Mom needs something even stronger yet, you can let her try a Cosmopolitan.  While a good Cosmo is pink, not red, adding more Cranberry juice can add color and flavor to Mother’s taste.  In the case that you really were a handful for Mom, she might already be a Martini drinker.  In that case she is probably ready for a Classic Martini, or you might want to let her try James Bond’s favorite Vesper Martini

Friday, May 11, 2012

Cocktail ingredients Utah update – May 2012

BLT Cocktail
The number of items on SPA (Special Price Adjustment) at the Utah DABC State Liquor Stores this month dropped from around 300 in April to around 260 for May (at the low end of the “average” range).  There are, as always, some quality cocktail ingredients available this month, so you can get what you need to shake up some great cocktails.  Here are some ideas on how to use this month’s sale items to improve your cocktail repertoire.

The picks of the Gins this month are Tanqueray and Beefeater. The Tanqueray (marked down 12% to $22) goes well in a Campden Cocktail; this little known cocktail is one you should try. The Beefeater is in the giant economy-sized bottle (1750ml) and is probably best enjoyed by hard-core Beefeater fans, although if you love Gin and Tonics in the summertime, this might be a good time to stock up.

The Utah Mixologist is very fond of the Milagro line of Tequilas.  This month their Silver and Reposado are both marked down in the 13% range to $25 and $28 respectively. Combine them with Gran Gala Orange Liqueur (an excellent, low cost Triple Sec) to make a dynamite Margarita.  You will also find Sauza Hornitos Reposado (15% to $23) and Plata (8% to $23) on sale, as well as smaller markdowns on 1800 Añejo, Reposado and Silver.

Surprisingly, there weren’t a lot of Bourbons on sale for the derby this month; Bulleit Bourbon Frontier Whiskey is available for $22 ($3 off) and makes a great Mint Julep, or you might want to try a BLT, and that’s about it for quality Bourbons.  There a couple of blended Scotch Whiskies marked down this month: liters of Chivas Regal are marked down around 8% to $37 and the large bottles of Dewars White Label are marked down to $46.  If you’re searching for a Scotch cocktail to try this month, consider going outlaw with a Rob Roy.

As to any other sale or clearance items, if you see a great deal on 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 an online price book in PDF format that shows all of the markdowns for the current month.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Drinker’s dilemma: celebrate Derby Day or Cinco de Mayo?

Dawn Saturday will find Salt Lake City cocktailians rubbing their eyes and wondering how they should spend their day: celebrating the 138th running of the Kentucky Derby or celebrating Cinco de Mayo.  Both of these days are often the occasion for parties or gatherings, and both have strong associations with popular cocktails: the Margarita for Cinco de Mayo, and the Mint Julep for the Kentucky Derby.

Early in the day (but not too early, post time isn’t until around 4:20 PM MDT) it will be time for the classic Mint Julep that has been Churchill Down's signature cocktail for 75 years since 1938.  (Remember, the race only lasts two minutes, so don’t miss it because you’re off making Juleps.)  The more adventurous among you should by now have tried David Wondrich’s variation on the Mint Julep, the Prescription Julep, a perfect combination of Rye Whiskey and Cognac.  Juleps are best enjoyed with fresh mint; if you’re stuck with store-bought mint this year, check out this article for information on growing your own for next year.  Yes, Juleps are delicious, but don’t overdo it if you also plan to celebrate Cinco de Mayo later.

How will you be celebrating Cinco de Mayo when evening comes?  This year marks the 150th anniversary of Mexico’s Batalla de Puebla, so Mexican-Americans may party more than usual.  Salt Lake City lovers of Classic Margaritas may be going to a favorite local Mexican restaurant like Frida Bistro or Tres Hombres, or celebrating at home with a favorite recipe.  Margaritas are the favorite cocktail of the USA, based on sales; over four million Margaritas are sold in the USA daily.  As yummy as Classic Margaritas are, you might be ready for something different.  So why not try a Chambord® Margarita Royale?  Both of these Margaritas are delicious and they taste so good that it’s easy to have one too many, so drink wisely.  To give your Margaritas a special flair, see my Cinco de Mayo glass rimming technique

High West launches a smoky campfire whiskey

The master blenders at High West Distillery in Park City, Utah will launch their newest product, Campfire Whiskey™, at their annual Derby Day party at the distillery and restaurant in Old Town Park City this Saturday, May 5.  Campfire Whiskey™ is a unique blend of Bourbon, Rye, and Scotch whiskeys that certainly sounds intriguing. 

High West Distillery is known for their line of highly rated, blended Rye whiskeys like High West Rendezvous™ Rye whiskey and High West Double Rye!™, but Campfire sounds like something completely different.  Proprietor David Perkins got the idea for Campfire whiskey in Scotland after enjoying a dessert of honeydew melon drizzled with syrup made by simmering peated whisky with sugar; he loved the taste of peat smoke with the melon.  This eventually led him to blend the sweet fruitiness of Bourbon with the smokiness of a blended Scotch and to finish it with spicy, floral notes from a Rye.

Those of you fortunate enough to be attending the High West Derby Day party this Saturday will be able to enjoy Campfire in a Mint Julep.  The rest of us will have to wait for our next visit to Park City, or until Campfire makes it to our local liquor store.