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.
Over the years, we've shared some of our favorite techniques for crafting the ultimate cup of coffee, the importance of coffee-making as a morning ritual, and how to spike it into an enjoyable, boozey/bitter treat.
But today, it's not about how to make the ideal coffee.
You know how an olive in your martini tastes awesome? Or the necessity of a pepperoncini in a Bloody Mary? Those salty, vinegary flavors seriously enhance the flavor of a beverage, somehow becoming more of themselves in the presence of ethanol. So, ready for the next step and inevitable conclusion this summer? Put a pickle in your beer.
Yeah, seriously. Trust us on this one.
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.
Two fun facts: 1) unlike most styles, the cream ale is original to North American, born in the US in the mid 1800s; 2) the cream is, of course, an ale, but it is inspired by German lagers and "drinks" like a lager — it's light, crisp, and goes down easy. Okay, so that's what I do know; here's what I don't: what is a cream ale? And is there actually cream in it?
Spoiler alert: no, there isn't. Cream ales are simply light American ales that have an additional fermentable sugar sources like corn or rice to lighten the body. This makes the beer ferment faster, and therefore more economically; their overall lightness makes them easier
Perhaps you've heard this piece of advice: never let a cold beer warm up and then become cold again. Practically, this means if you buy a refrigerated beer from the case, then you must keep it refrigerated until it's time to drink it. And it should never sit out at room temperature on the counter, in the pantry, etc. The threat is: the bizarre, off flavors of a beer that's been "skunked" usually described as tasting like wet newspaper, rubber, or if you ask me, the way the pet store smells.
I'll admit it: when I was 24, and thinking about hosting friends for Thanksgiving for the very first time, I probably wouldn't have used a guide like this. For one thing, I was stubborn and willful, and liked to think I could figure everything out on my own (wrong!). For another, that was 2006, and the internet was a much newer, smaller place then: this type of guide probably wasn't out there.
But you, my friends! You youngsters with your illogical catch phrases and shrug emojis and your ability to understand how to use Snapchat! You can be better! You can do what few young men before you have ever done! You can host an awesome Thanksgiving meal at your house, and it can look amazing, and you can even have fun doing it. C'mon, it's not going to be hard ...
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!
Stocking a solid home bar takes a bit of planning, or lots of experimenting. I built my bar a few bottles at a time, but looking back it would have been nice to have a solid list. Here are my essentials that will make the majority of drinks on the menu.
There are two routes home cocktail enthusiasts tend to take when choosing a muddler: the mini-baseball style that sits on the check-out counter and the local liquor store (which suck), and then there's the handmade, lathe-turned muddler made from some exotic South American hardwood that can cost you as much as $60 or $80.
Or, you can get the performance of the second for the price of the first.
Cycling enthusiast and maker OddJob has created the "BAR T.A.B.," a "take along bar" mounted to the inside of a bicycle frame. It's basically all our favorite things in one simple project.
It's after Valentine's Day and you remember how nice it is to have nice wine on hand, now all you need is a good place to store it.
Once that lid is on the fermentation bucket, it seems like everything is complete. This final part of the series looks into what happens during the fermentation period, and the final step before you can sit back and enjoy a handcrafted beer.
Primary Fermentation As the yeast begins the very important (almost magic) job of converting the sugars into alcohol, quite a few things need to happen.
I'm always looking for a great seasonal drink to match the theme of our get-together. This winter weather calls for a few creamy, spiced, and even buttery drinks to help brighten up the season. Here are 5 drinks guaranteed to usher in some holiday cheer.
Over the summer, Jaclyn and Melissa spied the watermelon keg project right here on ManMade, and immediately made one for themselves. And when fall rolled around, they figured out a way to adapt it to this seasons', um, giant, round, open on the inside thing: the pumpkin.
Two years ago, I posted a basic recipe for making classic cocktail, the Old Fashioned, during ManMade's inaugural Cocktail Month festivities.
And two years ago, I was wrong. Quite wrong, in fact. I was just learning about cocktails, and was operating with the notion of the Old Fashioned I'd had in bars and restaurants,