Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Brunch Cocktails Redefined

Sometimes at brunch, a cocktail is necessary. Your obligations for the rest of the day are insignificant compared to the importance of imbibing with your French Toast or Shirred Eggs. But the thought of tippling one more ho-hum Mimosa and Bloody Mary has got you teetotalling most Sundays. Try one of our new brunch cocktails (you can have them before dinner as well).

The Benedict shares the flavors of the famous egg dish it emulates.

The Benedict is a subtle and savory combination of tarragon, egg cream, clove, and bacon. It will definitely stimulate your appetite for more sweet and savory breakfast treats such as the above-mentioned french toast, or perhaps a stack of pancakes drowned in butter and pure maple syrup.

The Benedict
(created by Paul Zablocki, Cocktail Buzz)

1 ounce cognac
1 ounce tarragon-infused vodka*
1/4 ounce advocaat
bacon-dust rim**
dash of ground clove, as garnish

Rim a chilled coupe with bacon dust (wet the rim first with some cognac). Add first three ingredients to an ice-filled shaker and shake for 30 seconds. Strain into a coupe. Garnish with a dash of ground clove.

* To make the tarragon-infused vodka, infuse about a tablespoon of fresh tarragon leaves with about 2 cups of vodka in an airtight container. If you use a fifth of vodka, you can double the tarragon. (The measurements do not have to be precise.) Let sit for up to four days, shaking occasionally. Taste daily. When the vodkas tastes good and tarragony, strain the vodka into a clean bottle or jar that has a lid.

** To make the bacon-dust rim, microwave a strip or two of bacon on high for about 2 minutes. It should get very dark and crispy. Grind the bacon in a spice or coffee mill and empty onto a saucer. Wet rim of glass with a bit of cognac and dip into the mix so that it sticks to the rim.

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The Suzette will remind you of the flavors of the crêpe that shares its name.

And speaking of maple syrup, why not try the Suzette, a slightly sweet and boozy blend of the unique and beguiling Hudson Four Grain bourbon, Sortilège maple liqueur, and the amazing triple sec L’Original Combier Liqueur d’Orange. Together, the drink will remind you of the first time you tried a Crêpe Suzette. (The only thing missing is the powdered sugar.)

(created by Paul Zablocki, Cocktail Buzz)

1 1/2 ounces Hudson Four Grain bourbon
1/2 ounce Sortilège maple liqueur
1/4 ounce Combier orange liqueur
1 dash Bitter Truth orange bitters
orange peel, as garnish

Stir in mixing glass half filled with ice for 30 seconds. Strain into chilled cocktail glass. Add garnish.

If you fancy your drinks on the rocks, the Suzette is quite the accommodating gal. We suggest you bump up the maple and orange liqueurs by a 1/4 oz. each.

Suzette on the Rocks
(created by Paul Zablocki and Steve Schul, Cocktail Buzz)

1 1/2 ounces Hudson Four Grain bourbon
3/4 ounce Sortilège maple liqueur
1/2 ounce Combier orange liqueur
1 dash Bitter Truth orange bitters
orange peel, as garnish

Stir in mixing glass half filled with ice for 30 seconds. Strain into ice-filled rocks glass. Add garnish.

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Up for some Monkey Business? Cognac & banana puree, topped with champagne!

Well, if those two are not getting your taste buds to perk up, then perhaps some Monkey Business will do it for you. It’s essentially a champagne cocktail with lots of very ripe banana mixed with delectable cognac and a hint of Velvet Falernum. You can either strain the chunky bananas through a sieve to make them super smooth, or if you like the chunky texture, just mash it up or use an immersion blender. Just remember to use the ripest of bananas or the drink will not work. Enjoy fueling your inner monkey!

Monkey Business
(created by Steve Schul, Cocktail Buzz)

2 ounces cognac or brandy
1/2 ounces Velvet Falernum
1/4 ounce ripe banana puree
3 ounces champagne or prosecco

Shake first 3 ingredients in ice for 30 seconds. Pour into chilled goblet. Top with champagne. Give it a little stir.

photos © Steve Schul and Paul Zablocki, Cocktail Buzz

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Create Your Signature Cocktail: The Pushkar Sunset

The Pushkar Sunset, a bracing mix of bourbon, ginger liqueur, and some fragrant garnishes, was created by Matthew Eubank and Alexis Soloski.

Matthew Eubank and Alexis Soloski, two fellow Brooklynites, and a terrific couple who love a cocktail now and then, won us in a raffle sponsored by the Soho Rep. a few months back. Their prize: to create a signature cocktail. And that they did. Both Matthew and Alexis are fans of whisk(e)y, so we embarked on a journey to create a cocktail that would be made up mostly of a type of whiskey, and some other spirits and such thrown in for good mixing measure.

Steve immediately suggested Old Fitzgerald’s 1849 Kentucky Bourbon, which packs a respectable punch at 90 proof. Like Maker’s Mark, Old Fitzgerald uses wheat as the secondary grain (instead of rye) to make the mash, so its flavor is quite discernibly different from a corn-and-rye bourbon such as Jim Beam. The happy couple took a sip and were delighted not only by the flavor, but by the price. If you can find it, Old Fitzgerald’s 1849 will run you about $16 for a fifth.

Bourbon’s not like gin; mixing it requires the addition of flavors that are going to stand up to the piquancy of the charred-oak barrel notes that make bourbon so tasty, but not disguise it or overpower its deep rich, sweet woodsiness. Ginger was as good as any place to start, so we added a squirt of a Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur to a shot of Fitzgerald, and continued to do so until the ginger was a big presence.

Matthew and Alexis enjoy their new creation, the Pushkar Sunset, with the Manhattan skyline in the background.

Alexis suggested adding some lemon juice to see what that would do, but the tartness of the lemon and the spiciness of the ginger weren’t doing it for us. The flavor just seemed off. So Paul suggested orange on some level, and Matthew opted for some orange bitters. We have some Bitter Truth orange bitters in our arsenal, so a few dashes of that were a perfect foil to the strength of the ginger–bourbon duet. Also, we thought we would add an orange rind using a vegetable peeler, and perform the operation above the glass so that the oils would spray gently over the glass, creating a gentle aroma. After Paul suggested adding a dash of spice, Matthew opted for nutmeg, and the deal was sealed. A cocktail had been born.

But the story does not end there. After Matthew and Alexis waxed fondly over their recent trip to India, they decided the drink should be named the “Pushkar Sunset.” The drink was spicy, like much of the cuisine throughout India, but they wanted to try the cocktail with a different garnish: star anise. Since we didn’t have any on hand, they waited to get home to try out there new cocktail with the spiky, redolent dried pericarp. They wrote to tell us that the drink looked beautiful with the star anise bobbing on top. We could not agree more, but please do add the orange twist. It’s an important flavor component and we’d hate for you not to have the full Pushkar Sunset experience.

Pushkar, at sunset. (photo by Matthew Eubank and Alexis Soloski)

Pushkar Sunset
(created by Matthew Eubank and Alexis Soloski)

1 1/2 ounces bourbon (try Old Fitzgerald’s 1849)
1/2 ounce ginger liqueur (try Domaine de Canton)
2 dahes orange bitters (try Bitter Truth)
orange twist, for garnish
star anise (or dash of nutmeg), for garnish

In a mixing glass, add the first three ingredients. Stir for 30 seconds. Garnish with an orange twist and star anise. If you do not have star anise, a dash of nutmeg will do.


The Pushkar Sunset is a strong drink, boozy and spicy. If you so desire, and want your drink a little gentler, we like to add ice. The Pushkar Sunset blooms when it’s served on the rocks. Add a splash of soda to create a Pushkar Fizz. Take a sip and start planning that trip to India.

photos © Steve Schul, Cocktail Buzz

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Mixology Monday XXXII: A Guilty Pleasure Disclosed

Ah, the guilty pleasure. For some it involves French Fries and a Big Mac, purchased at a rest stop after long-distance stomach grumbling. We try justifying our purchase by telling ourselves, “Well it’s either a Big Mac or some pizza that looks like it’s been sitting under that orange light for eight hours, at least the Big Mac is fresher.” For others, only the guilty pleasure of a pint of Häagen-Dazs Rocky Road will do. And at over 1,000 calories, the guilt really slaps you across the face before depositing itself in your butt, thighs, and stomach. If only we could extract the guilt from these pleasures. Why are we so ashamed to let the cat out of the bag when it comes to the stuff we really like? Because people are mean. Plain & simple. “You ate a Slim Jim and washed it down with a rum and Caffeine-Free Diet Coke? What are you, some sort of culinarily challenged rube?” The one thing we don’t do here at Cocktail Buzz is judge you for what you like or dislike. Granted, if you don’t like us, you clearly have no taste. But if you do, then by golly, we like you too.

That said, we like Harvey Wallbangers.

According to absoluteastronomy.com:

“The Harvey Wallbanger is an alcoholic drink or cocktail made with vodka, Galliano, and orange juice. This well known tipple was one of many cocktails invented by renowned and two times world champion mixologist Donato ‘Duke’ Antone. Other notable ‘Duke’ creations are the Rusty Nail, The Godfather and the Flaming Caesar. This is one of many cocktails invented by ‘Duke’ in Los Angeles during the 1950s. According to legend, Harvey was a California surfer. After losing an important contest, he consoled himself in Duke’s Blackwatch bar with one of his ‘special’ screwdriver cocktails.”

Thank you Mr. Antone.

Our parents drank Harvey Wallbangers in the 1970s, and if they were good enough for them, they’re good enough for us. Who can resist the sweet and tangy goodness of fresh-squeezed orange juice. And Galliano? Just envisioning the chartreuse, tapered bottle is enough to send us into paroxysms of liqueur-lust when there are Florida oranges in the fruit bowl waiting to be deflowered. Unscrewing the cap of Galliano and smelling that vanilla-anise whiff is another step on the road to insobriety, and because the Harvey Wallbanger is a terrific brunch drink, you can feel guilty (or not) about drinking before you’ve even thought about what you’re going to make for dinner. Try having two Harvey Wallbangers . . . you’ll stop thinking about dinner altogether. We encourage having several with friends. It makes for such a fun meal. (Click here to read about our Wallbanging escapades with two delightful dining companions.)

Harvey Wallbanger
(adapted by Cocktail Buzz)

1 1/2 ounces vodka (try Sobieski)
3 1/2 ounces fresh-squeezed orange juice
1/2 ounce Galliano
small ice cubes

Stir vodka and orange juice in an ice-filled highball glass for 5 seconds. Float Galliano on top. Add a straw if you so desire. For a twist, try fresh-squeezed tangelo juice.

photos © Steve Schul, Cocktail Buzz

Monday, October 6, 2008

Peaches! Peaches! Peaches!

The Smash Daddy, perfect for summer and early fall.

Well, if you haven’t figured it out already, peach season is coming to a close. So we implore you to run to the grocery store or farmers market and pick up some peaches ASAP. Sorry for posting so late in the peach season, but sometimes it takes a while to perfect some cocktail recipes. They’re worth the wait when they taste as delicious as these two rocks drinks.

First up is the Smash Daddy, a simple concoction made with some muddled white peach and one of our favorite new liqueurs, Catdaddy Carolina Moonshine (now called Catdaddy Spiced Moonshine). It’s a vanilla-, cinnamon-, and nutmeg-flavored Moonshine that tastes like someone just dropped a bit of wedding-cake frosting into a vat of virgin whiskey, and added a few other spices like coriander seeds and a sweetener like sorghum. The smell is reminiscent of juicy fruit gum. Confused? Well, trust us, you have to try it to believe it. It got Steve’s lazy ass out of bed when we were at Tales of the Cocktail, and he was happy that Paul played reveille so he could try this beguiling elixir at a morning tasting. Just a splash of soda, a few drops of peach bitters, and you’ve got a sweet sipper that may just turn into a gulper depending on how you take a shine to the Catdaddy. If you’re a fan of sweet tea or, say, and an Old-Fashioned with muddled fruit, think of the Smash Daddy as a Peach Old-Fashioned. If you only have regular yellow peaches, we won’t tell.

Smash Daddy
(created by Paul Zablocki, Cocktail Buzz)

1 1/2 ounce Catdaddy Carolina Moonshine
splash of soda
3 drops peach bitters
quarter of a white peach
peach slice, as garnish

Score half a white peach. Muddle in a rocks glass, skin side up. Fill with ice. Add Catdaddy, then soda. Add bitters. Garnish with peach slice.

P.S. Don’t forget to eat the booze-soaked peaches. This is one drink where you want to eat the garnish after you’ve relished the last drop.

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Our second cocktail, one of Steve Schul’s creations, is the Tokyo Momo. Momo is Japanese for peach, and this rocks drink uses a muddled white peach shaken with Yamazaki 12-year Whisky to create a deep and complex combo. But that’s not all. Steve also added two unique liqueurs that complement the sweetness of a peach: Cherry Heering and Dumante Verdenoce Italian Pistachio Nut Liqueur. He decided on these two liqueurs for several reasons. First, he realized that the strong scotch-like flavor of the Yamazaki whisky needed a strong counterpoint to balance it, and Cherry Heering is such a liqueur to do the trick. Second, being a pie lover, he knew that bittersweet cherry mixed with peach is a great combination. But what other flavor would add to the complex fruitiness already brewed? That’s where the third element comes in. Nuts. Something nutty, like the refined beauty of the Dumante pistachio liqueur, with its complex nutty sweetness, was a perfect addition. A drop of whiskey bitters brings all the flavors together so that the Tokyo Momo tastes like you made a peach cobbler and let the juices run over the side of the pie crust. One sip and we proclaimed our love for the early days of fall.

Tokyo Momo
(created by Steve Schul, Cocktail Buzz)

1 1/2 ounces Yamazaki 12-yr. whisky
1/2 ounce Heering cherry liqueur
1/2 ounce Dumante pistachio liqueur
2 drops Fee Brothers Whiskey Barrel Aged Bitters
quarter of a white peach
brandied cherries, or peach slice, as garnish

Score the white peach, flesh side, making sure not to go all the way through the skin. Muddle in a shaker. Add the whisky, liqueurs, and bitters. Fill two-thirds with ice. Shake for 30 seconds. Strain into ice-filled rocks glass. (If you’re having trouble straining, be patient and keep shaking and straining. If you’re not that patient, then strain the mixture all at once through a sieve into a pitcher.) Garnish with brandied cherries on a skewer or a peach slice (or both).

photos © Steve Schul, Cocktail Buzz