I know, I know...It's June 1st, and Cocktail Party Month has just finished up, but this round up of great, inexpensive liquors and spirits is too great not to share. Master food blog Chow has created a great list of tasty and quality liquors that are great for mixing drinks or for entertaining. They'll beat the pants off of the diluted, toxic junk they sell in the grocery store, and are great options for those spirits that you don't generally prefer, but want to keep in your home bar for guests, cooking, etc. A couple bourbons, a few ryes, two tequilas, a rum, and gin, all clocking in under $20.
Limoncello is a sweet, lemon-flavored liqueur that originates from the southern regions of Italy. It's usually served chilled and straight up, as a lovely after dinner digestif. It has a strong lemon flavor, but contains none of the sourness associated with lemons, since its made by infusing the peel of the lemon, rather than the juice.
And SiNCE its merely lemon peel infused into high proof alcohol, it means you can make it at home! In bulk! It only takes three ingredients - lemon peels, sugar, and grain alcohol, and about three months.
The Manhattan is the cocktail that can best show what rye whiskey can do. It was invented in honor of the election of New York Governor Samuel Tilden in 1874.
The classic recipe features a 2:1 ratio of rye to vermouth, stirred in a mixing glass, then strained into an iced martini glass. Variations include a perfect Manhattan, made with equal parts dry and sweet vermouth, and a Rob Roy, which is made with scotch, recipe below.
- 2 oz rye whiskey
- 1 oz sweet vermouth (or 1/2 oz each dry and sweet for a perfect Manhattan)
- 2-3 dashes Angostura bitters
- Maraschino or Bourbon cherry, for garnish
1. Add all the ingredients into
Whether you're stuck without the appropriate tools, or just want an opportunity to show off some cool parlor tricks, there are plenty of ways to open a beer or other capped bottle without an manufactured bottle opener. Since we got such a great response for our Five Ways to Open a Wine Bottle Without a Corkscrew, we thought we'd assemble five of these beer bottle tricks.
Oh, and yes, it is possible to do this with your teeth, but please, please don't. It's not worth it, and people aren't really laughing with you...
1. With a lighter. Check out this classic simple machine principle at work from the Wired wiki. Also works with a spoon
There's a really weird origin story that surrounds the Collins. And by really weird, I mean some sort of hoax that I'm not quite sure I get. The Wikipedia article leaves me quite confused, but this post at Mental Floss explains a bit better:
"The Great Tom Collins Hoax of 1874...begat The King of Cooling Drinks, the Tom Collins. The hoax kicked off with a prankster telling a group that they were being talked about by the loose lipped Tom Collins, and then sending them on an angry goose chase to find him.
In 1874, the Steubenville Daily Herald reported that the hoax “belong[ed] to New York, where it was played with immense success
The greasy breakfast is a classic post-imbibe trick, and as it turns out, there's scientific data to prove it. The BLT is a perfect food to help your body break down the effects of alcohol faster. The protein and aminos in bacon and the carbohydrates in bread are exactly what you need - in addition to LOTS of water - to begin to get your toxin levels down to normal.
The same study also proved something else we all know - Cooked bacon is nearly irrestible...
" 'The smell of sizzling bacon in a pan is enough to tempt even the staunchest of vegetarians. There's something deeper going on inside. It's not just the idea of a tasty snack
There's no clever, charming story to detail the history of the Sidecar - no one really knows where it was invented, or by whom, though the Ritz hotel in Paris claims it was invented there in the late 1910s.
Regardless, this is a fun one that'll make you feel like you're back in the post-prohibition swing days. It's usually served up, in a chilled martini glass with a sugared rim, but might also be served in a rocks glass with ice.
You may not know it yet, but the Negroni is your new favorite cocktail. It's strong, balanced, absolutely delicious, and makes a perfect pre-dinner cocktail that'll match nearly anything you're eating during the warm months.
The drink was supposedly invented in Florence in the 1920s, when Count Negroni asked the bartender to pump up his Americano (equal parts sweet vermouth and Campari, served tall with soda water) with gin.
And if you're brave enough to flame an orange peel, it's totally worth it. The toastiness of the orange oils mixed with the bitters and the spices of gin is a very fine thing indeed.
The pairing of wine with food is a classic tradition. Sommeliers - wine stewards - spend years training their palattes to not only recognize the subtle differences between wine vintages, but also learn how each of wine's qualities interact with different foods to make a explosive tastebud experience.
But, the complexity and diversity of beer can also match the variety of flavors in your meals. Craft brewers exercise great care to create subtlety and nuance in their brews. So, sure, ambers will always go great with pizza and cheeseburgers, but don't stop there.
Margaritas are simple drinks, though most of us wouldn't know it. We've been weaned on the sweetened, frozen, bright green slushies that replaced the classic margarita in Tex Mex restaurants in the 1970s.
But a real margarita, made not from a mix but 100% pure agave tequila, orange liqueur, and fresh lime juce, is all about brightness and freshness. As such, use a silver or blanco tequila, so the oak-aged flavors of a reposado or an añejo don't interfere with the high-end crispness of the Cointreau and the kick of fresh-squeezed lime. If you do need a little sweetener, dissolve just a touch of sugar in the lime juice before shaking...but try the original, at least once, and see what you think.
ManMade wants you to throw your own cocktail parties, and we'd like to help.
So, during the two weeks of May 17 - 30th, we're giving away a Home Bar Essentials gift kit that includes over $100 of great tools to make it happen. All you'll have to do is grab some glassware and bring the spirits.
The goodies include EVERYTHING on ManMade's Top Ten Essential Bar Tools, plus plenty of extra stuff thrown in for fun. If you win, you'll recieve:
- Professional-grade Boston shaker set
- 28 oz metal beaker
- 16 oz mixing glass
- Hawthorne strainer
- Long bar spoon
- Bartender's bottle opener
- Two refillable squirt bottles
The Bellini was invented in the 1940s at Harry's Bar in Venice, the famous destination spot for elite tourists and celebrities, like Ernest Hemingway (Much of Across the River and into the Trees is set there), that was also the birthplace of beef carpaccio.
Bellinis used to only be made during the summer months, when fresh peaches were in season, but thanks to modern technology, flash-frozen peach purees are available, allowing Bellinis to stay on brunch menus everywhere.
These make great pre-lunch starts, and somehow works equally well on the backside of a meal as a dessert. And if you do it well, it becomes an interactive experience
Cocktails - like all fine things - have a culture, style, and traditional all their own, some of which is flair, but most of which comes from praticality and serving the best drink possible.
There are hundreds of styles of glasses, making it completely impractical for any home bar to stock all the options. Thankfully, that's a good thing - cause you only need five, which you can add as get excited about different styles of cocktails. The first three are absolute essentials, and the latter two are designed for specific classes of cocktails that are important to their enjoyment.
1. The Martini [or Cocktail] Glass: Traditional v-shaped
Turns out, James Bond had it all wrong. A martini is a drink that contains only spirits, and benefits quite a bit from stirring rather than shaking. Stirring creates a heavy, silky feel on the tongue, and avoids what connoisseurs called "bruising" the drink (integrating air bubbles). Of course, it's all about how you like it, but we hope you'll give this classic-style martini a try.
Just remember: a 3:1 gin (or vodka) to vermouth ratio keeps things refreshing, cold and balanced.
I remember when I first learned of mead...sophomore English, and we were working through Beowulf for the the first time, and the poem opens as the king has just built the great mead hall, Heorot. A whole building dedicated to something to drink? Must be delicious... I'll have to get my hands on some.
Ten years later, and I still haven't made my way to actually trying any, but buddy, with this sweet mead how-to, you better believe I'm gonna.
Rose's Lime Juice was created as a means to preserve citrus juice without alcohol in the 19th-century. And there's no better way to feature its unique properties than with a gimlet, a cocktail fashionable in the post-prohibition, Art Deco heyday of the 1930s and 40s.
The Jell-O shot - creating tiny flavored gelatin cups using vodka, tequila, or rum in the place of water - actually dates farther back than most of us would imagine... i.e. college campuses sometime in the 50s and 60s. The earliest recorded recipe, called "Punch Jelly," is found in the Bon Vivant's Companinion, writted by Jerry Thomas in the early 1860s.
Which means that the straight-up cherry or lime powder mixed with cheap liquor approach is a little antiquated, and could use an update.
Enter My Jello Americans, some youngsters from Philadelphia, who are committed to "the future of the Jello shot."
Featuring recipes like:
The Bloody Mary
The Old Fashioned, in many ways, sets the standard for cocktails. It may be the first drink ever actually called a cocktail, since that word's oldest written use references a recipe using whiskey, water, sugar, and bitters. It's name lends itself to an essential piece of drinkware, the old-fashioned (or rocks) glass, an 8 oz tumbler that house thousands of short, mixed drinks. And its very name, which comes from the Pendennis Club in Louisville, Kentucky in the 1880s, certainly posits it at the head of the cocktail table.
And they're fun, and quite easy to make. Here's how:
- 1 teaspoon sugar (or one sugar cube)
- 2 dashes
If you've ever made any sorta of beverage - a cocktail, iced tea or coffee, lemonade, etc - you've learned some basic science - sugar does NOT dissolve in cold liquid with a simple stir. It takes either 1) LOTS of agitation or 2) a warmer liquid. Sometimes, this is a good thing, as granular sugar is often a key ingredient to a drink that involves crushing or muddling, like a mint julep or a mojito. And sometimes, it's really annoying and inconvenient.
So, the beverage-world has long used a liquid sweetener known as "simple syrup" to incorporate sugar into drinks. It uses a basic "simple" ratio of 1 part sugar to 1 part water. Some approaches call for as much as 2:1 sugar to water, which increases efficiency, but I'd keep it 1:1, or at most 1.5:1. See, simple syrup provides not only sweetness to a drink, but also volume. AND, most cocktail recipes will presume a sugar level of 1:1, so it's best to stick with what the pros use.