In wintertime, I'll gladly take a complicated cocktail. Something made with rich spirits, amber brown from barrel aging, made more tasty with fortified syrups, flavorful modifiers, and just-so preparation. These drinks are imbibe-abble equivalent of a long simmered soup or stew, designed to make you feel warm inside when the weather is not.
But summer is a whole different beast. It's already warm — too warm — and your drink's job is to cool you down while keeping everything easygoing. You need something that works while standing next to the grill, or for sipping on the deck with your feet up.
Enter the vodka soda. It's deceptively simple
Around here, we've moved past the short glass - the whiskey in a tumbler, the shaken 3 oz. cocktails of spring -and opting for the long and tall. With sunshine comes all-day drinks: those mixed with plenty of ice and fresh ingredients to keep you cool.
Of course, it's ice that keeps 'em cool, and when your glass sits around in the heat...well, ice melts. So, this summer, make that a good thing. We're sharing our technique and recipes to allow the ice to actually contribute to the flavor of a drink or cocktail, not just its temperature or dilution. Check it out!
Four years ago, I shared an introduction to making smoked cocktails on ManMade, exploring the techniques and ingredients that would allow you to create woodsy, rich drinks at home. I offered several ways to create and capture smoke, but admitted that I preferred a specialized, $100 tool designed for doing just that. Ever since then, at least once or twice a month, I've received an email asking me how to pull this off without buying any specialty gear.
To which I say: challenge accepted! I totally get not wanting to spend a large sum of money to make something you're not sure you're even going to like. I wouldn't either. So, let's break down the process and see what we can do to make some seriously tasty smoked cocktails using things you already have.
Now that the days are warming up the thought of a hot latte with milk and cinnamon sure adds a drop of sweat to my brow. It's usually this time of year, I swap my typical addiction to hot coffee to sweet, syrupy iced coffee. I just can't get enough of the stuff!
Unlike some other spirits, tequila is inextricably linked to one particular cocktail: the margarita. And, to be fair, with good reason. The margarita is a great drink, especially when it's made right, with quality ingredients. But sometimes you want to enjoy your amazing agave flavor in a variety of contexts. So we teamed up Olmeca Altos to share five delicious tequila cocktails you can make for Cinco de Mayo (or any celebration!) that aren't margaritas. I think you're going to love these. Just don't drink all five at once.
A few weekends ago, my wife and I went out for a special dinner to celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary. (Hi sweetheart!) We opted to enjoy a few beers with our meal, but the table next to us had ordered cocktails. They each showed up with the glass half full of color - slanted, and with the liquid on the top. Initially, I thought it was simply a triangular shaped glass, where the bottom angle was simply solid, but as I looked closer, I realized, in fact, it was a frozen wedge of solid ice, attached to the glass so it maintained the effect.
I asked the server how it was done, and she told me the bartender had a bunch of little rubber molds that fit the glass, and the whole thing goes into the freezer. She said they were cool, but only fit the certain glass they came with; so only a certain number of cocktail recipes are served in them, and they run out each night.
A few days later, I looked it up to see if I could pick up one or two. I found the product - it's a glass with a custom silicone insert that freezes the ice at a perfect 45° angle, cutting right down the center. They cost about $20 each, and are kinda cool.
But - they're also unnecessary. Because you can achieve the same effect without spending a dime, using any rocks glass you already have. Here's how to do it.
Any time of year, gin is a favorite spirit. It mixes well while retaining its character, and its aromatics complement a great range of flavors. But there's something so special, so obvious, about gin and springtime. If flavors had colors, gin's would be green, and it's a perfect chance to start putting ice back in our cocktails because the external temperatures are finally bearable.
I've been trying to up my host game lately, especially in the drinks department. Solid glassware, proper bar tools, and better presentation go a long way towards concocting a quality experience. That's why I was excited to come up with a great gift project for those that want to ditch the cheap plastic in their classy mixed drinks. These simple straws are hefty enough to really stand out as a stocking stuffer, or on their own as a solid holiday gift.
I have gone on record, in this publication and elsewhere, about why the hot toddy is the perfect cocktail to be sipping in December. It's warm. It's spiced. And at least according to folk wisdom, it's good for your health, and can help to heal a nasty wintertime sore throat. But, to be honest, until last Tuesday evening, I didn't actually like a hot toddy.
They were fine, but not delicious, and not really an improvement over a simple glass of neat whiskey. (You could make a hot toddy with rum, brandy, or tequila, but why would you?)
Hot toddys (toddies?) always disappointed: never quite hot enough to truly enjoy, and somewhat ... harsh. There was something I never liked about adding acidic lemon juice to a healthy glug of bourbon, then heating the whole thing up. It seemed to bring out all the rough, grain-y flavors, and hide the tastier warm and spicy barrel-aged notes that make whiskey, well, whiskey.
Friends, it's time to step up your home cocktail game. But it's not about procuring a special bottle of small batch spirits, or some crafty house-made infusion, or even an obscure, esoteric bitter liqueur made by monks in the mountains of Europe. In fact, it's not about the ingredients of the drink at all. It's about texture.
Carbonating cocktails adds effervescence, tingling the tongue and bringing out new flavors and drinking experiences. Club soda is traditional, and it works, but waters down the drink, and often just floats on top, never fully integrating with the heavier alcohol.
Looking to add a little of the "roasting on open fire" flavor to some of your seasonal libations? Check out this cool technique for making smoked cocktail garnishes to add some toasty, earthy notes to your drinks.
Look, we love a solid cocktail bar. It's an awesome experience to meet up with some co-workers for happy hour, or connect with a friend or date over something shaken or stirred and served in a quality glass. But there's something to be said for sipping at home. Most importantly, it's much less expensive. Bar and restaurants try to keep their food and liquor costs to 20-25%, which means that $12 martini is actually made up of only $3.00 of ingredients. But we also can't argue with the value of staying home, whipping something up for your partner or friends on the fly in the warm, quite confines of your own living room. (Pajama pants optional).
And while we have no problem dropping some serious change on a truly elegant whiskey or craft spirit, the truth is: most mixed drinks don't actually require the highest end of spirits. So, if you're looking to experiment with crafting your own drinks, but don't want to invest mega bucks in a full fleet of top-shelf spirits, it's time to learn how to stock your home bar or bar cart on a budget.
Need another drink to warm you up like you're sitting by a campfire, but you're actually stuck inside cause it's freaking freezing out? Check out ManMade's very own rosemary and smoke infused cocktail!
We have absolutely zero reservations about hanging onto the summer season as long as possible. With temps outside the ManMade HQ topping 99° today, it seems Mother Nature is on our side, regardless of what all the back-to-school sales say.
And as far as ways to enjoy the season and keep cool, we have but three words for you: Frozen. Whiskey. Lemonade.
These days, the Bloody Mary game is all about oneupsmanship. The goal in bars and brunch spots has become to adds so savory complements to the drink that they turn it into both a snack and a cocktail: spears and spears of pickled veg, whole shrimp, fried bacon, charcuterie, chicken wings, antipasti, mini cheeseburgers, firecrackers, tiny pizzas, everything.
Which is fine, and fun, but takes away from the essence of the drink. Sure, it's a canvas for complementary flavors, but that canvas isn't blank in the first place...it's actually a perfectly balanced cocktail.
So, here are the basics on the Bloody Mary. If you're not one to drink vodka, well, then it also makes a darn fine amped-up tomato juice.
Some guys have their go-to libation: no matter the time, no matter the place, they want this beer or that drink, and the matter really isn't up for discussion. Others are constantly switching up their poisons, perusing the menu for familiar flavors, taking the advice of the bartender, or simply having what everyone else at the table ordered.
Keeping the home bar stocked with the recommended staples takes a bit of planning, but even the best stocked cabinet is useless without the tools to make them right. Here’s our list of 10 essentials to outfit your bar with everything you need to make those drinks right.
Getting out of town for the weekend makes a difference. It's not just a change of scenery from the rest of week, but there's also that subtle thrill of simply being away. Of going outside. Of spending time in a different location, seeing different sights, hearing different sounds.
You've heard of smokey flavored cocktails before... but how about a smoke bomb cocktail that actually explodes? Well not actually explodes, but with a flourishing crack to the ice cube mold from a tiny hammer or utensil, billowing smoke will pour out into the rest of your Black Manhattan (or other smokey drink of choice)...
Have you hit 90 degrees yet where you live? We have (yep - 92 on May 6 in Minneapolis, crazy), and I loved it. After months of snow and cold and slush and sweaters, I absolutely revel in the warmth. Maybe later in the summer I'll be crouched down inside next to the air conditioner, but not now. Right now, when it's warm out, I want to soak my bones in it.
The warm weather also means a change in the beverage seasons. Out with the heavy, comforting drinks of winter, and in with the light, bright, refreshing stuff. As part of our series of posts celebrating tequila (one, two), we've teamed up with Olmeca Altos to show you how to perfect the perfect drink for summer: the margarita.