Friday, August 22, 2008

Friday 5 o’Clock Cocktail - Combustible Edison

If you like bitter drinks, then you’ll really like today’s drink. The drink was developed by a lounge band of the same name back in the early 90’s. I can’t vouch for group’s music, but the drink is pretty good.

The Combustible Edison combines extreme bitterness with – you guessed it – fire. And while bitterness and fire might seem like an unbeatable combination, there is one downside.
This drink calls for an ingredient that isn’t exactly common: Campari Bitters.

In fact, at the liquor stores around my house, Campari is about as easy to find as a hot girl playing Dungeons and Dragons.

Given the fact that Campari is so uncommon, you may have to substitute Angustura bitters. The drink isn’t bad that way. The difference is that Angustura is much more powerful, and has more of a "clove" taste, whereas the Campari is more of a fruit taste (which is why Campari goes better with the Brandy).

Here are the ingredients:
2 oz Brandy
1/2 to 1 oz Campari Bitters (use 1/4 oz if you are substituting Angustura)
1 oz Lemon Juice

Ok, now let's make the drink.

Room temperature Brandy doesn't usually catch on fire. So, take the 2 oz of Brandy and pop it in the microwave for about 20 seconds. Depending on your microwave, this will bring it to just below the boiling point – which is perfect.

While that's warming up in the microwave, shake the lemon juice and the bitters in a shaker with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

Now, take the shot of brandy out of the microwave and light it on fire just as you pour it into your cocktail glass. Depending on how you pour it, the fire will probably go out almost immediately when you pour it in the glass. But if you are careful about it, you can "float" the brandy on top and it will burn with a really nice blue flame (you may have to turn the lights out if you can't see it).

The safest way to do this is to float the brandy on top of the drink first, wait a few seconds for the warm brandy to float up to the top of the drink; THEN light it on fire.

However, I have to be honest here and tell you that I prefer not to light mine on fire. There are essentially three problems with the fire thing:
  • Fire can burn you and your house
  • The fire warms up the drink (I usually prefer my cocktails cold)
  • The fire burns off some of the alcohol
If you don't feel comfortable lighting your drinks on fire, or you are religiously opposed to burning the alcohol out of your drink, then you can just skip the fire part. In that case it’s a Flame-retarded Edison.

Either way, pucker up buttercup.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Friday 5 o’Clock Cocktail – Planter’s Punch

Exactly 100 years ago today the New York Times published the following poetic recipe that is based on rhymes that are repeated by rote in the Caribbean:

This recipe I give to thee,
Dear brother in the heat.
Take two of sour (lime let it be)
To one and a half of sweet,
Of Old Jamaica pour three strong,
And add four parts of weak.
Then mix and drink. I do no wrong —
I know whereof I speak.

Depending on where you are in the Caribbean, similar poetic recipes can be found for Planter’s Punch, Bajan Rum Punch, or Caribbean Rum Punch. The differences between them are minor variations in the ratios of lime juice to the other ingredients.

Decoding the rhyme, the “sour” is lime or lemon juice, the “sweet” is some form of citrus juice – usually pineapple or orange juice. The “strong” is, of course, rum. And the “weak” is water.

Today, we don’t usually water down our liquor because it is no longer sold at barrel strength the way it was 100 years ago. Plus, the crushed ice dilutes the drink naturally.

So, to modernize the recipe a bit, here’s how I make mine:

  • 1 ½ oz Light Rum
  • 1 ½ oz Dark Rum
  • 3 oz Orange Juice (or substitute Pineapple Juice)
  • 1/2 to 1 oz Lime Juice (depending on taste)
  • 1 cup crushed ice


Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker and shake well. Then pour into a Collins glass and garnish with fruit slices.

Of course, you can always scale this recipe up to a “punch” and make a whole pitcher of it.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Friday 5 o’Clock Cocktail - The Matador

If you are going to be serving friends Margaritas outside this hot weekend, then you might consider offering the Matador as an option. It is similar to a Margarita, but is a little more fruity and sweet tasting – which actually makes it a bit better for those Late July deck and pool parties!

Now, there are a number of ways of making a Matador. Some recipes call for the use of RedBull in place of the Pineapple Juice that is used in the classic version. If you are looking for an extra jolt of caffeine then you might try that. You can also make them frozen (blended) or on the rocks.

One thing all the versions share is that they are tangy, sweet, and perfect for a hot day.

So for your viewing pleasure, we are including three versions of the Matador today. Try one, try ‘em all!

Classic Matador
  • 1 1/2 oz Tequila (mid-grade “Gold” is fine)
  • 1 1/2 oz Pineapple Juice
  • 1/2 oz Lime Juice
  • 1 tsp Simple Syrup
Directions: Shake it in a Cocktail Shaker with ice, Strain into a salt-rimmed cocktail glass.

Modern Matador
  • 1 oz Tequila (mid-grade, again)
  • 1/2 oz Triple Sec
  • 1 oz RedBull
  • 1/2 oz Lime Juice
Directions: Shake it in a Cocktail Shaker with ice, Strain into a salt-rimmed cocktail glass.

Frozen Matador
  • 2 oz Tequila
  • 1/4 oz Triple Sec
  • 1/4 cup Pineapple Chunks
  • 1/2 oz Lime Juice
  • 1/2 cup ice
Directions Combine these ingredients in a blender until smooth. Serve this one in a highball or Collins glass

Friday, July 18, 2008

Friday 5 o'Clock Cocktail - Pina Colada

Who doesn’t enjoy a nice cold Pina Colada on a hot day? The drink was developed in Puerto Rico in the 1950's and became popular in the States during the '70s.

Today it has a bit of a "Retro" flavor – or maybe that's just the Rum I taste.

Traditionally the drink is shaken, not blended. And while I usually try and do things the "traditional" way – I gotta say that when it comes to Pina Coladas, mine are blended.

Pina Coladas are also easy to make, since they only require 3 ingredients plus ice.

  • 1 1/2 oz light rum
  • 2 oz of Coconut Cream Liqueur (Coco Lopez is the traditional brand, but use what you have)
  • 2 - 6 oz Pineapple Juice
  • 1 cup of ice
Put everything in a blender and blend till smooth. Serve in an old-fashioned glass, rocks glass, or collins glass.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Friday 5 o’Clock Cocktail - Mai Tai

One day, when I get around to finishing my book, “1001 Reasons to Drink Rum” you’ll see that Reason #48 is the Mai Tai.

I mean, perhaps I’ll even move it up a bit in the ranking because this drink is really, really good.

The legend of this drink is that its inventor (Victor J. Bergeron, of Trader Vics fame) mixed this drink up as a special for a visitor from Tahiti back in 1944. When his Tahitian friend tasted it, he said “Maita’i roa!” - which means “Out of this World!”

Thus was born the Mai Tai.

Hey, I don’t know if that’s true or not, but the drink really is Out of this World. And that qualifies it to be todays Friday 5 o’Clock Cocktail.

Here’s how to make a Mai Tai:
  • 1 1/2 oz dark rum (I use Myer’s)
  • 1 oz of aged rum (typically Anejo rum, but any “gold” or “aged” rum will do fine)
  • 1/2 oz Orange Curacao
  • 1/2 oz Orgeat
  • 1 oz lime juice
  • 1/2 oz orange juice
  • 1/4 oz simple syrup
Just take everything, put it in your cocktail shaker with ice and shake thoroughly. Serve it on the rocks in some kind of glass that’s big enough to hold it all.

Now, according to tradition, you are supposed to garnish this drink with an orange blossom and some orange peel spiral.

But we’re drunks, and we don’t have any fuckin’ orange blossoms, and we certainly don’t have the dexterity to peal up orange spirals!

So, just garnish it with a slice of orange and don’t worry about it.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Friday 5 o’Clock Cocktail – Gimlet

A Gimlet is one of those drinks where its beauty is in its simplicity. And since it has some historical significance, I thought I’d share it with you.

Sir Thomas Gimlette – a British surgeon, who was looking for a way to prevent scurvy in British sailors, invented the drink in the late 19th century. The lime juice in the drink contains a large concentration of Vitamin C, and so by combining it with the sailors’ daily ration of Gin, he was able to ensure they would stay healthy on their long voyages. Interestingly enough, this is why British sailors are referred to as “limeys”.

Gimlets are supposed to be made using Gin. However, just like with the Martini, there are people who think they don’t like Gin so they make the drink with vodka instead. If you do that, then you aren’t making a Gimlet – you’re just kidding yourself.
Just as with Martinis and the fight over how much vermouth to add, with Gimlets, everyone has a preference about the ratio of Gin to lime juice.
The traditional version of the drink uses a 50/50 ratio of Gin to Rose’s Lime Juice.
Most people find that this is too much lime juice, and I would have to agree. My preference is the following:
  • 1 ½ oz Gin
  • 1 oz Rose’s Lime Juice
That’s it. Put those two ingredients into a glass with ice, stir it and either drink it on the rocks, or strain it into a cocktail glass.
I know, I know. That isn’t good enough. Some of you out there want to turn it into a “signature drink” and start adding other shit to it.
Ok, if you want to do that, following are the top 5 ways to junk up a Gimlet:
  • Substitute Vodka for the Gin
  • Add other liquors to the glass like Rum or Tequila
  • Add cherries or cherry liqueur
  • Add soda or tonic water
  • Put lemon juice in it
I’m not saying that these ingredients will make the drink taste bad. But please just don’t call it a Gimlet. Call it a Gimlet’s Cousin, or Sir Thomas’ Hot Sister. Something like that.
Have a great weekend!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Friday 5 o’Clock Cocktail – Sex On The Beach

Today is the first day of summer here in the United States. If you happen to be in Europe, then you’ll have to wait until tomorrow for summer to start.

I don’t know why that is. Maybe some of you can clue me in.

At any rate, to celebrate the fact that the sun is hot, today’s cocktail is the famous “Sex on the Beach”.

I remember the first time I actually drank in a bar. I was with a friend of mine, we were about sixteen years old at the time. But we were tipping well, and that’s all the waitress seemed to care about.

I remember that day because we were doing shots of Sex on the Beach, and we were too young to know that the bartender was making them weak since he knew damn well we weren’t old enough to drink.

But they were good anyway, and these days I prefer to drink my Sexes as cocktails rather than shots.

Now, Sex on the Beach’es can be made in a number of ways. Generally, however, it’s Vodka, Peach Schnapps, and some mixture of fruit juices. The ratio of juices to alcohol is usually about 1:1, but you can change that to taste.

If you want to create higher alcohol versions of a Sex on the Beach, then what you would do is substitute different fruit Schnapps for the juices. So, for example, if you wanted a Pineapple tasting Sex, then you would substitute Pineapple Schnapps for Pineapple Juice. Usually you do this if you are making shooters.

So, that being said, here’s how I make them:

  • 1 ½ oz Vodka
  • 1 ½ oz Peach Schnapps (Or Southern Comfort)
  • 1 ½ oz Cranberry Juice
  • 1 ½ oz Orange Juice

Southern Comfort is a Peach Liqueur, so if you don’t have the Schnapps, then SoCo would be a reasonable substitute. Also, as I indicated above, you can change out the juices all day long depending on what you have in the fridge. Usually you try to mix a sweet juice with a tangy juice.

So, some good combos would be: Pineapple Juice and Grapefruit Juice; or Apple Juice and Cranberry Juice. Some people also put a teaspoon or so of Grenadine in – it has that sweet/tangy thing built in. You get the idea.

Anyway, Sexes are served in just about every kind of glass: shot glass, highball glass, rocks glass, or (my favorite) the cocktail glass.

If you’re serving in a shot glass, then you’ll be making a stronger drink that uses the schnapps in place of the juices.

Regardless, I hope you have a great first day of summer.


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