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If this blog betters your drinking in but one, minute way, I hope it provides you with a plethora of ideas for mixing easy, whiskey-based cocktails. Sometimes I picture you — yes, you — lumbering through the door of your recession-era, DIY-chic digs, on the edge of weary after a long day slogging through your paper-pushing profession of choice (or, in keeping with the recession theme, necessity), and of course nine times out of ten you’re going to reach for the bourbon. Neat or straight-on-the-rocks will always do, but don’t you deserve a bit more of a to-do? Just something uncomplicated that can add a little brightness, a little aroma, a soupcon of civility to your drink and your day? That’s what I’m here for.

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Did you know you can make a Manhattan* with aged rum instead of bourbon? Because you totally can and it’s really pretty good!

I happened upon this discovery of sorts while toying with recipes for that Montreal Bar vs. Chef competition I clearly can’t stop talking about. My original idea was to do a flip, but after many, many attempts to make even a halfway-decent one, it was clear that what I had on my hands was actually a flop. (Rim shot!)

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A fun perk of being a cocktail blogger is receiving tipsy texts from friends informing me of what they’re drinking at that very moment. That’s how I heard about The Collective, via a particular text that wound up kicking off an early-Friday, at-home happy hour for me, as it was sent by a teacher friend who starts a-drinkin’ soon after the three o’clock bell.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve got issues with scotch. Besides the fact that I drank too much of it in my youth, I really never think about it for cocktails because, you know, why not bourbon? But the Collective’s ingredients, as texted to me, seemed like something that my bartending acumen and my palate could handle. I love that its components are all non-fussy — no need for a special trip to the liquor store, Other Friends Who Have Texted Or Otherwise Communicated With Me To Complain About Making Special Trips To The Liquor Store!

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Two things I jump: bandwagons and the gun.

Bandwagons: Ever since the New York Times ran a story in late December about the upswinging trend of barrel-aged cocktails — pre-mixing a large batch of an all-liquor tipple, like a Manhattan or a Martinez, then setting it aside for a month or more in either a glass vessel of some kind or a genuine oak barrel, preferably one that’s already been used to age something else — I’ve been all like gimme gimme I wanna I wanna. I even can brag my very own used oak barrel; Sean won a three-galloner from Tuthilltown Spirits in upstate New York (purveyors of Husdon Whiskeys) at their Facebook Fan Appreciation Day over the summer. (I originally misunderstood Sean’s e-mail informing me he won the barrel. I thought it came with three gallons of bourbon inside it and told everybody so. That was embarrassing.)

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