Category Archives: Cocktails

Shaker33 – The Kickstarter Cocktail Shaker

Occasionally we here at Whisk(e)y Apostle are invited to try out new drink related toys as well as new drinks. Recently, we were asked to check out a new cocktail shaker called Shaker33 that will be part of a new Kickstarter campaign for launch funding. So who are we to turn down new drink toys! :)

First, let it be said that we received a hand made prototype not the to be released production model. Mostly, this impacts fit and finishing but I did have an odd seem split but nothing crucial to the functioning of the shaker. So what is this new shaker? It’s essentially a plastic made extra large shaker with a snap in strainer and and rubber ring sealed top.

You’re wondering why you would need a “new” shaker aren’t you? Yeah, I kind of wondered the same thing and really only you can make that determination for yourself. However, there are some key enhancements with the Shaker33 that are pretty cool. Let’s take them one at a time.

1) Capacity: A standard cocktail shaker is usually around 24 ounces with only about 2/3 of that being really functional. Any more and you would probably end up shaking your cocktail all over the floor and walls. The Shaker33 holds 28 ounces and nearly all of that is functional capacity due to it’s closure mechanism. [more on that later] Do you need to mix servings for two or three at once? Here you go.
assembled_clear
2) Material: This may be more of a preference thing but the BPA free plastic doesn’t condensate so no cold hands or wet slippage. The down side is that I and a lot of people measure the degree of chill by the feel of the shaker and you can’t really do that with this model.

3) Closure: This is where it gets really kind of cool. The first part is the built in strainer. You can see those little notches on the sides in the photo. strainer_frostedWell that actually snaps the the strainer in place securely. No holding it on or having it slip off. Very secure. Second, the top actually has a white rubber ring that snugs the lid into place. This is a very nice feature to keep the liquid inside and allows for the maximum volume usage from the cylinder. top_clear

So is this tremendously revolutionary? No but we’re talking about cocktails not rocket ships. What it is though is a well made, durable, well thought out cocktail shaker with a few key enhancements that make this something worth considering. I don’t have pricing details yet but the Kickstarter campaign goes live July 7th so watch their website for more details.

2 Gingers

2 Gingers Irish Whiskey
40% ABV
$19.99
Website

What the Distiller Says:
2 GINGERS® Irish Whiskey – the fastest growing Irish whiskey in the U.S.* from the award-winning Kilbeggan Distilling Co.™ – has grown beyond its Minnesota roots and is now officially available across the United States. The brand has experienced exponential growth, expanding from limited Midwest markets one year ago to all 50 states this month.

2 GINGERS® Founder and CEO Kieran Folliard, former owner of one of the country’s top-selling Irish whiskey pubs, originally created the whiskey and its signature cocktail, the BIG GINGER®, with inspiration from his mother and aunt – the two fiery gingers (red-heads) featured on the bottle. Backed by Folliard’s passion and category expertise, 2 GINGERS® has quickly become the fastest growing Irish whiskey in the U.S.* since its launch in 2011. After experiencing remarkable popularity and success among women and men within limited regional markets in 2013, the premium blended whiskey – aged 4 years and double-distilled – has increased distribution once more, this time expanding nationwide.

“At its heart, 2 GINGERS® is about following up on a hunch and pursuing your dreams,” said Folliard, who is soon hitting the road in a custom 2 GINGERS® trailer that, like any Irish pub, will ring with stories (most of them true) in cities across the country. “We hope to encourage others to pursue their dreams, to demonstrate what we stand for and to pose the question: ‘Why not try something big?’”

Beam Inc. (NYSE:BEAM) acquired 2 GINGERS® in December 2012, and since that time has rapidly expanded distribution. To support the national launch, Folliard will use the customized 2 GINGERS® trailer to meet with bartenders, distributors and consumers looking to discover the BIG GINGER® cocktail in stops from coast to coast, including: Milwaukee, WI, Chicago, IL, Hoboken, NJ, New Orleans, LA, Dallas, TX, Austin, TX, San Diego, CA, Denver, CO, Minneapolis, MN, St. Louis, MO, Indianapolis, IN, and Columbus, OH.

2 GINGERS® is a smooth, malty and slightly sweet premium, blended Irish whiskey. Distilled with mixability in mind, the brand created and trademarked two balanced and simple cocktails, the BIG GINGER® and SKINNY GINGER®. Genderless and appropriate for all seasons, these cocktails combine the refreshing bite of ginger ale with the caramel, vanilla and citrus undertones of 2 GINGERS®, creating the perfect recipe for anyone who may not yet consider themselves whiskey drinkers.

What Richard Says:
Nose: Out of the bottle there is a heavy malty/hoppy note reminiscent of cheaper American lager or IPA. As the nose mellow it’s lighter and more like honeysuckle with a vegetal herb mixture.
Palate: Light with hints of honey and vanilla almond milk fading to a spicy and grassy taste.
Finish: The finish is a little raw and the place where the whiskey shows it’s youth.
Comments: Not a bad whiskey at all. This is clearly Cooley product. It think I could be a better “neat sipper” with some ago on it but they are pushing it as a mixer. With some ginger ale it is quite refreshing.
Rating: Average

We would like to thank Rueben his team at DBC PR for the review sample provided.

Recommended Cocktails:

BIG GINGER®
2 parts 2 GINGERS® Irish Whiskey
Ginger Ale
Lemon Wedge
Lime Wedge
METHOD: Pour the 2 GINGERS® Irish Whiskey into a pint glass with ice. Top with ginger ale, followed by a wedge of a lemon and lime.

SKINNY GINGER®
2 parts 2 GINGERS® Irish Whiskey
Diet Ginger Ale
Lemon Wedge
Lime Wedge
METHOD: Pour the 2 GINGERS® Irish Whiskey into a pint glass with ice. Top with diet ginger ale, followed by a wedge of a lemon and lime.

Stocking the Whiskey Bar

The holidays are a time to get together with friends and family. Whether you are celebrating the joyous occasion with those close to you or enduring the extended family for the obligatory once a year visit, you probably should have some whiskey on hand. Like butter and bacon, whiskey tends to make everything better. :) Even when it’s not holiday time, if you’re a fan of the water of life you might want to have a well chosen selection at home for personal perusal or entertaining. If you’re a one brand one bottle kind of person then that’s fine. I’m not judging you but if you and/or your guests only drink one thing all the time with no exception then this article probably won’t interest you.

I’m assuming that you probably already have a bottle or two if you’re reading a whiskey blog so let’s move beyond the “if I only have one/two bottle(s)” question and talk about stocking a home whiskey bar for yourself and guests. Before we start I want to clarify that we’re talking about a whiskey bar, not a whiskey collection. A collection, whether by design or accident is a different beast entirely. Oh, and if you think you can’t collect by accident let me tell you from personal experience that it can happen very easily. I’m in the process of rectifying that transgression in my own supply so let me know if you want to stop by and “help” with that. 😉

“How many bottles should I plan on getting for a base stock in my home whiskey bar?”

It depends. If you’re just looking for bourbon or scotch then probably three well chosen bottles will get you started. If you want a nice cross section of multiple styles then I would say five to eight. It really is up to you. However, I will caution you that once you get north of 10 bottles and start heading towards 20 you starting getting into collection territory. Again, there’s nothing wrong with that but it’s a slippery slope. 😉

“How much should I plan to spend?”

You can spend as much or as little as you want. I’ll try to give you a few examples at various prices for each category. That way you can decide how much you want to spend based on personal preference and financial situation. Please note that the prices listed are for a standard U.S. 750ml bottle.

“Where do I begin?”

With scotch and bourbon a good framework would be to get a mixer, a classic, and a gem. Now when I say “mixer” I’m really referring to a table whiskey. You should use the same rule of thumb for mixed drinks and cocktails as you do for cooking with wine. That means that even your table whiskey should be something you wouldn’t mind drinking by itself. There are plenty of inexpensive and tasty whiskeys out there so you shouldn’t have to buy rot gut just to use as a mixer. Here are some examples.

Scotch – Johnnie Walker Black, Chivas Regal 12 Year Old, and Glenlivet 12 Year Old can all be had for around $30.

Bourbon – Old Grand Dad Bottled in Bond ($20), Buffalo Trace ($20), and Elijah Craig 12 Year Old ($22)

Your “classic” whiskey should be something that typifies the category. That $1,000 bottle of Macallan 30 Year Old may taste like heaven but when I say classic I’m thinking of a reasonably priced dram that is pleasant and displays many of the standard characteristics of scotch or bourbon. Again, here are a few examples.

Scotch – Highland Park 12 Year Old ($40), Compass Box Great King Street Blend ($40), and Cragganmore 12 Year Old ($50)

Bourbon – Old Rip Van Winkle 10 Year Old ($40), Old Forester Birthday Bourbon ($40), and Blanton’s ($50)

Now let’s talk about that gem. Up until now you’ve probably dropped between $100 to $150 on four bottles of whiskey (2 bourbon, 2 scotch). The gem category is where you can be as reserved or crazy as you want. The notion behind these bottles is to have something exceptional. Think of it as a special whiskey or two. You can lay these on your snobby or aficionado friends to get the approving nod or you can use them to show somehow something really good tastes. Alternatively, you can think of these bottles as a little more aggressive or obscure in taste. If Glenfiddich is your middle of the road then maybe one of these bottles can be a super peaty Ardbeg. You can drop $50 on one of these or $500. It’s up to you. Below are a few suggestions but let your interests guide your decisions.

Scotch – Lagavuling 16 Year Old ($80), Macallan 18 Year Old ($130), Dewar’s Signature ($180)

Bourbon – Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit ($55), George T. Stagg ($75), Pappy Van Winkle 20 Year Old ($120)

Now you may have noticed that I’ve listed both blends and single malts for scotch under each category. This is intentional. Both are very tasty and should be considered equally. I really think that you should consider getting at least one blend and at least one single malt. One is not inferior to the other regardless of what you hear from scotch snobs.

Others
Scotch and bourbon are great but there’s a wider and ever expanding world of whiskey out there waiting to be sampled. Personally, I would recommend a good rye that you can drink and mix as a staple. Rittenhouse Bottled-In-Bond ($20) or Sazerac Rye ($27) are great examples. If you’ve only ever used bourbon in your cocktails then get ready for a treat. A good rye cocktail is hard to beat.

I also think you should have a bottle of something a little different. It will allow you and your guests to expand your whiskey horizons and give you something interesting to compare and contrast. A nice bottle of Yamazaki 12 Year Old Japanese Whisky ($40), Redbreast 12 Year Old Irish Pot Still Whiskey ($50), or Amrut Fusion Indian Whisky ($60) would all be nice additions.

“What about other spirits to have on hand?”

Believe it or not, I don’t only drink whiskey. I often enjoy other fine brown spirits. Around the holidays I especially enjoy a nice brandy after a big meal. Pierre Ferrand Ambre Cognac ($35), Germain-Robin Shareholder’s Reserve ($75), or Kelt XO Cognac ($150) are all nice examples.

If a nice aged rum is more your speed then maybe a bottle of Cruzan Single Barrel ($28), Appleton Extra Jamaican Rum ($35), or Bacardi Reserva Limitada Rum Anejo ($100) would give you something nice to sip with guests.

“Is there anything else I need?”

It’s probably a good idea to have a few other basic ingredients on hand for cocktails. Below is a suggested list but you can add or subtract as you see fit. Remember, this list is focused on whiskey cocktails. If you’re doing a White Russian or a Sex on the Beach then that’s something entirely different.

  • Simple Syrup (make your own)
  • Sodas (Coca-cola, diet cola, ginger ale, club soda, tonic water, etc.)
  • Bitters (Angostura, Peychaud, etc.)
  • Fruit – Juice and whole fruit (Lemons, oranges, maraschino cherries, etc.)
  • Vermouth – Sweet and Dry
  • Liqueurs

I would recommend that you actually look at the kind of cocktails you plan to make and back into a list of additional ingredients instead of blinding buying stuff that the guy on the internet said you had to have. Having a huge selection of cocktail accoutrement looks cool but if you never use it then it’s a waste.

“Wait a minute. What about vodka and tequila?”

Like your mom said about little Scotty Powell down the street…”You don’t need friends like that.” In all seriousness, we were talking about stocking a nice selection of whiskeys. I could go on and on with my belligerent opinions of the vodka and tequila culture that’s exploded in the last 15 to 20 years but that’s not the point of this article. Look, if you need to have vodka and tequila, and a good host probably should, then you don’t need to fret over the bottles as much as you might think. Probably about 99% of vodka and tequila consumption in the U.S. occurs with some type of mixer. As long as you’re not buying the stuff off the bottom shelf in the plastic jugs you’ll probably be okay with the majority of brands when making a vodka tonic, vodka and cranberry, or margarita. Personally, I buy Kirkland Signature brand vodka and anejo tequila at Costco. Both are very good quality and ridiculously well priced. If you’re worried that your snobby friends will scoff because you have Costco brand or Stolichnaya vodka instead of Grey Goose or Ciroc then pick up a nice decanter to keep it in. It will class up your bar a little and then if they ask what it is you can tell them whatever the hell you want.;)

If you’re in a quandary the next time you go to the liquor store to stock up then I hope this helps. As always, these are merely my opinions on the subject. Let your taste and wallet be your guide. If you have any questions or need additional suggestions please send me an email. Enjoy the holidays and share some good whiskey with good company.

Drink wisely my friends,

Richard

Trading Up Your Gin

We don’t feature a lot of non-whiskey things but here’s a new contest from Martin Miller’s Gin that I thought was interesting.

Martin Miller invites you to “Trade Up”– an online competition intended for the most enthusiastic gin lovers, mixologists and every day drinkers. Miller wants to know what your readers would do to give old cocktails like the “sex on the beach,” “Long Island iced tea” and “Singapore Sling” a face lift and trade them up for the 21st century! The 5 cocktails with the most “likes” on Martin Miller’s Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/#!/martinmillersgin) will be presented for judging by a panel of esteemed gin enthusiasts, mixology experts and Martin Miller himself. The winning cocktail will be featured on an episode of Raising the Bar with Jamie Boudreau where he will re-create the cocktail on Small Screen Network. The episode will be featured on Small Screen Network and other distribution outlets including Youtube, 5min.com, blip.tv, Facebook and Twitter.

RULES:
• Entrants must use Martin Miller’s Gin; 80 proof or Westbourne Strength. Detailed recipe instructions must be submitted and persons reaching the final round are required to submit a video of the cocktail execution. All ingredients must be visible and Martin Miller’s bottles in view of the camera.
• Entrants must be 21 years of age or older.
• To enter submit your unique ‘Trading Up’ Martin Miller’s Gin Cocktail Recipe along with a photo to competitions@martinmillersgin.com by November the 15th, 2011.
• Voting will take place on the MMG Facebook page and entrants must encourage their contacts to vote for their cocktail to move it into the final round of judging. Only the top five cocktail entries with the most “likes” will move to the final round.
Born of “Love, Obsession and some degree of Madness,” Martin Miller’s Gin is the most super premium gin in the world. A bon viveur and connoisseur of the finer things in life, Martin Miller was left unsatisfied by all other gins on the market. A natural entrepreneur, Martin decided to create his own, a gin that was made with not only the best ingredients but distilled by using only the most traditional methods. Made of juniper from Tuscany and India, Cassia bark from China, angelica from France and florentine from Florence, Miller’s Gin is delicately blended with pure Icelandic spring water to create a marriage of rare softness, clarity of taste and appearance.
• Available in two expressions: Martin Miller’s Gin at 80 proof and Westbourne Strength at 90.4 proof.
• Ingredients: Six botanicals and three citruses are used in the distillation process: Juniper, cassia bark, coraiander seed, angelica root, licorice root, Florentine iris, Seville orange, lemon and lime. The botanical and citrus are distilled separately.
• Distillation: Miller’s Gin uses traditional pot distillation and keeps only the heart of the spirit.
• Icelandic Spring Water: Icelandic water was chosen for its pure properties. Martin Miller’s Gin uses what the Icelandic people call “live” water, water that is not distilled or de-mineralized.
• Martin Miller’s Gin: 40% alcohol by volume and available in 750mL and 1L bottles. The average retail price is $29.99.
• Westbourne Strength: 45.2% alcohol by volume and is available in 750mL and 1L bottles. The average retail price is $34.99.
• Available nationally
• Distributor: Kindred Spirits of North America

Yo ho ho and a drink with rum!

Rum. It’s been on my mind a good bit the last week or so. Why? I spent last week in Puerto Rico, the self proclaimed home of rum. Did they event it? No, but they make more of it there than anywhere else so I won’t argue the title. Personally, I like rum. I like fine aged sipping rums. What I haven’t given much thought to was the rum used in cocktails and mixed drinks. I never really thought about it for a couple of reasons. First, I figured that like vodka and tequila, as long as you’re not buying crap to put in it then it doesn’t matter too much. Second, being a whiskey drinker most of the classic whiskey cocktails have a somewhat muddled (no pun intended) history and identifying a specific brand for that cocktail can be nearly impossible. With rum that isn’t the case at all. Almost every rum cocktail with some distinction has a pedigree and specific rum it was originally made with. Those specific rums wear those recipes like a badge of honor. None do this more so than Bacardi and DonQ. I actually toured the Bacardi distillery while in San Juan but I’ll talk more about that in another post. What I found very interesting is this cocktail association that is latched onto by certain rum producers. With that in mind we’ll outline four classic rum cocktails and the “official” recipes by the rum producers that make the spirit the drink was invented with. Purists take note.

Cuba Libre
The Cuba Libre, otherwise known as a rum and coke was originally made with Bacardi Rum and Coca-Cola. The story goes that it was put together by American Soldiers on Neptuno Street in Havana around 1900. Bacardi was the preeminent Cuban rum at the time (originally made in Cuba prior to the Castro administration) and US servicemen wanted to mix it with this great new beverage from the U.S. called Coca-Cola. Bacardi will point out that this should always be made with Bacardi rum and Coke. Not any other rum and never Pepsi.

Recipe:
2 parts Bacardi Superior Rum
4 parts Coca-Cola
2 Lime wedges
Fill a highball glass with ice cubes. Squeeze and drop 2 wedges of lime into the glass. Pour on Bacardi rum. Top with chilled Coca-Cola.

Mojito
Everyone has their own twist on making Mojitos but the original was made with Bacardi. There was a forerunner concoction call The Draque made from some really nasty stuff you really shouldn’t even call rum. The Mojito as we know it came into existence in the late 1800s using the fine rum made by Don Facundo Bacardi Masso.

Recipe:
2 parts Bacardi Superior Rum
12 fresh mint leaves
½ lime in wedges
2 tablespoons simple syrup or sugar
Club Soda
Muddle 12 fresh mint leaves and ½ a lime. Cover with 2 tablespoons of simple syrup or sugar; top with ice. Add Bacardi rum and top with club soda. Stir well and garnish with a sprig of mint and a lime.

Daiquiri
I’m not talking about the fruity concoctions swirling in the mixing machines at your local Wet Willy’s. This is the original daiquiri. In 1898 an engineer at the Daiquiri copper-ore mines near Santiago, Cuba named Jennings Stockton Cox supposedly came up with this drink. It’s kind of like a rum version of a margarita. Try one of these and you may not go back to the strawberry party drink every again. I honestly have no idea where the bastardization of this drink came from that put it in swirly machines around the world in every color imaginable.

Recipe:
3 parts Bacardi Superior Rum
1 part fresh squeezed lime juice
1 part simple syrup
Put all ingredients into a shaker. Fill with ice. Shake vigorously until chilled. Double strain into a rocks glass filled ice. Garnish with a lime wedge.

Pina Colada
This is one of the few classic rum cocktails not claimed by Bacardi. Don Q (only recently sold in the U.S.) has a certified letter from Ramon Marrero stating that he invented the Pina Colada using Don Q rum. By the way, Don Q is the favorite rum of Puerto Rico. That should say something. Anyway, as the story goes Mr. Marrero introduced the Pina Colada on August 16, 1954 at the Caribe Hilton’s Beachcomber Bar in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Hotel management had expressly requested Monchito to mix a new signature drink, and after 3 intense months of blending, shaking and experimenting, the first Pina Colada was born.

Recipe:
1 ½ ounces DonQ Cristal (although Marrero said he used DonQ Gold)
1 ounce coconut cream
2 ounces unsweetened pineapple juice
Add ice, mix in a blender and garnish with a slice of pineapple and one cherry.

Personally, I don’t think the cocktail gods will hit you with a vermouth thunderbolt if you don’t use these recipes or the “appropriate” rum. I just found all this drink history interesting and thought you might too.

Drink wisely my friends,

Richard