The Corpse Reviver (#2)

Sunday morning seems the appropriate time to talk about the Corpse Reviver.  While many people (not us of course) don't think of cocktails on a Sunday morning, the Corpse Reviver is actually the perfect drink for the occasion.  If you think about its name, you'll quickly realize why that is.

Although we're going to present a very specific recipe, the Corpse Reviver itself is actually a class of drink.  It is an original "hair of the dog", a cocktail meant to bring you back to life after a night of partying.  These days most people tend to reach for a Bloody Mary to accomplish that, but some of us just aren't fans of tomato juice (that would include both of your SAHBartenders).

Although there have been many versions of the cocktail, when you visit a bar that serves old school cocktails, you will usually find yourself sipping on something known as the Corpse Reviver #2.  Its easy proportions make it simple to remember even when the brain is a little foggy.  And it's so good there's no reason to save it for hair of the dog - enjoy it anytime.

The Corpse Reviver #2

1 oz gin
1 oz Cointreau
1 oz Lillet Blanc
1 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
1-3 drops Pernod

Shake in a cocktail shaker with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.  Garnish with a cocktail cherry.

Now, a few words about the ingredients here.  First, yes you can replace the Cointreau with another triple sec, but the original does put this one over the top.  Next, a word about Lillet Blanc.  This wine-based aperitif, similar to a vermouth, can usually be found in the wine section near said vermouths.  Not all stores will carry it, so you many have to look around or try a specialty shop.  Sorry, we don't know of any substitutions for it.  Finally, the Pernod.  Really, anything anise-flavored such as an absinthe (originally called for) can be used here.  Personally, I can't stand anise, but in this cocktail the slight hint of it works beautifully.  Use the smaller amount if you're like me, and add another drop or two if you happen to like anise.  But don't leave it out!  It's an important component of the drink's complexity.


Homemade Hazelnut Liqueur

Oregon is where the majority of the hazelnuts in North America are grown, so it makes sense that your Oregon stay at home bartenders would try our hand at making a hazelnut liqueur.  And we did.  And oh my, it is delicious.

Making a liqueur like this is relatively simple, just a few basic ingredients and some time in a jar.  We based our recipe on one we found online, but made it our own with a few changes.  First of all, we used Everclear rather than vodka as is usually recommended.  We also added more sugar water and changed up the timeframe a bit.  The end result is a tasty liqueur that so far goes great in a flute of bubbly but would also be amazing in coffee or many cocktails.

Here's how we did it.

Homemade Hazelnut Liqueur

Place together in a large mason jar:

2 cups of chopped raw hazelnuts
1 1/4 cups Everclear
3/4 cup brandy

Seal and let stand for 2 weeks, shaking occasionally.

After 2 weeks, heat 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup sugar until the sugar dissolves.  Let cool and then add to the jar.  Add half of a vanilla bean, scored down the middle with a knife.

Let stand for 3-4 more days.  Strain out the nuts and vanilla bean using cheesecloth.

At this point we tasted the liqueur, which was delicious but very, very strong.  We added about a cup more simple syrup, this time closer to a 2/3 part sugar to 1 part water mixture.  We let it sit overnight again.

In the morning, after another tasting, we decided after another tasting to add another 1/2 cup of water.  It took the last of the Everclear edge off.

This is a sweet liqueur.  If you want it less sweet, you can back off the sugar content by making a weaker simple syrup.  The recipe, as we did it, left us with approximately 750 ml of liqueur that is unlike to last very long it's so good.


Quick, Make Some Cinnamon Syrup!

We have promised you homemade hazelnut liqueur, and it's COMING!  It's in the jar in the final stages and tasting will take place this weekend.  Once it's ready and we're sure we have a good recipe for you, it will be up and ready to go.

In the meantime, I whipped up some cinnamon syrup the other day that has turned out to be fabulous in plenty of cocktails.  It's super easy and the flavour is strong and way better than fake stuff!

Here's how to throw it together:

1 cup water
1 cup sugar
4 cinnamon sticks
1/4 cup vodka

Crush the cinnamon sticks by putting them in a ziplock bag and smashing them with a hammer or rolling pin.  Put the water and sugar in a pot and heat until sugar has dissolved.  Add the cinnamon.  Bring to a boil, and then simmer for 10-15 minutes.  Towards the end, add the vodka.  Keep cooking until it gets slightly syrupy - it won't be too thick though.

You know you love my little hammer.

Smells so good!

Remove from heat and cool, then strain out the cinnamon using cheesecloth and a metal strainer.  Pour into a  bottle or jar with a tight cap and keep refrigerated.

Now, how do you use this you ask??  Oh, in so many ways!  Add a dash to a glass of brandy and eggnog instead of sprinkling cinnamon on top.  Put some in your coffee.  Or try this one:

1.5 oz bourbon
.5 oz ginger liqueur
.5 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
.25 oz cinnamon syrup

Shake with ice and serve in a cocktail glass.  ENJOY!

And here's a peek at the hazelnut liqueur in progress....stay tuned!


Holiday Bar: Stocking Your Bar

Ready to prepare your home bar for the holidays?  It doesn't take as much as you would think to prep a stellar home bar that will please any visitors you might have and of course fill you with some liquid holiday cheer.  Even tight budgets can pull off some impressive holiday cocktails with a little smart shopping.

First things first: take stock of what you have.  Even those who don't cocktail often usually have a few dusty bottles hidden at the back of the liquor cabinet, things they bought for a party or that were left behind after a party, covered in dust and forgotten - until now.  Before you buy anything, see what you've already got on hand.  For most people, that's going to be the things you drink frequently, as well as a few odds and ends.  Once you know what you have, you will know what you need to add.  Also, feel free to ask us about the odds and ends you find and we'll help you come up with a way to use them.

The Basics of Your Holiday Bar.  Disclaimer: since everyone's taste is a little different, you may decide to switch out a few of these ingredients for your faves.  But we recommend these items because they're versatile and make lovely classic and fresh holiday drinks.  So pick and choose from the list as budget and taste allow, but if you pick up this list, you will be set for everything we're going to help you make in the next couple of weeks:

  • Brandy (VS or VSOP are both fine)
  • Rum, Gold is usually best as it works in multiple drinks
  • Bourbon (Shaun will have more to say about this soon)
  • Gin
  • Triple Sec
  • Vermouth, sweet and dry
  • Bitters, Angostura and Orange

We also recommend that you buy one or more of the following liqueurs.  If your budget will allow only one, select the Maraschino.
  • Drambuie
  • Luxardo Maraschino
  • Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur
  • Amaretto

A Note About Mixers.  For the most part, the cocktails we make don't use much in the way of mixers, and we never use pre-made mixes.  What we do keep on hand in addition as important additions to cocktails are:
  • Lemons, limes, and grapefruits
  • Club soda
  • Tonic water
Used less frequently are cranberry juice and apple juice (buy 100% juice).  We also use ginger beer and spiced apple cider (sparkling), preferably Reed's.  Finally, we usually keep sparkling wine on hand, which isn't really a mixer but can be used in many cocktails.  Also, it's a good thing to have around during the holidays.  You should also keep some wine on hand, but that's not our domain.

Top Shelf Vs Cheap.  Ok, so when it comes to budget the place you're going to feel it the most is when choosing the spirits.  A good bottle of brandy or gin can be spendy, but you don't want to offer your guests something that resembles rubbing alcohol either.  When it comes to choosing our spirits, we tend to land somewhere in the middle.  There is a caveat to that though: the purpose for which you're using the booze makes a difference.

If I am making a gin & tonic I don't care if I am using cheaper gin.  I won't taste the difference.  When it comes to a martini, though, it's a whole different ball game.  A martini demands good gin, because here is where you will taste it.  I prefer Martin Miller's, but there are a number of good gins out there.  Beefeater won't break the bank and is a good choice for budget buying.  Of course, personal taste matters as well.  Bottom line, buy the best you can, but keep a cheaper bottle on hand for when someone asks for a rum & coke - throw the Bacardi in there, not the higher end stuff.

Where's the Vodka?  I can hear a number of you asking why vodka isn't on my list.  Well, that's because we don't really use vodka for much these days.  Vodka, being basically tasteless, really only serves to add alcohol content to a drink without affecting the flavour.  We prefer spirits that add to the taste of the drink, like gin, brandy, and bourbon.  Sorry, vodka lovers.  We do keep a bottle of Belvedere in the house for a certain special guest, but never touch it ourselves.  So, it's not a bad idea to have a bottle around if you have vodka drinkers in the family.

There is another use for vodka.  We use it for infusions, and add it to some of our other concoctions, such as the homemade cinnamon syrup I'll be posting about this week.  

So that's it.  The beginning of your holiday bar.  Of course, we will be adding some things to the list this week, including some homemade items that are easy to make and enhance your holiday drinking experience.  Homemade hazelnut liqueur anyone?  Stay tuned.


Getting Liquored Up for the Holidays

No, we don't mean getting drunk.  Well, ok maybe a little.  But mainly, we mean that the time is upon us to stock that home bar for the holidays.  Thanksgiving is in the rear-view mirror, and the Christmas countdown is on.  What does that mean?  Dinners, parties, friends popping by.  You simply can't rely on that dusty bottle of brandy to get you through the season in style.

Now, to be fair, we know style costs money.  Fortunately, your stay-at-home bartenders know all about frugal.  Some things simply can't be faked, but there are ways to get through the season without killing your liquor budget for the whole year.  Some of you may not even have a liquor budget.  And that's ok.  We know not everyone has a slot for booze in the old budget spreadsheet.  We're here to help.

We started this blog last holiday season and we've been less active then we would have liked.  Another busy year.  But we're making a commitment to be there for you through the holiday drinking season.  Your home bar will be second to none if you stick with us.  Over the next few weeks we're going to talk about how to stock your holiday bar and with what, how to do it on a budget, when to spend and when to splurge.  We'll talk some DIY, and we'll offer advice on perfecting a few classic cocktails as well as some new recipes to try.

This week we'll start with stocking your bar for the holidays....and we promise to have that up for you in the next few days so you can make your list, check it twice, and get your holiday drinking in gear.

For now, enjoy the last moments of that holiday long weekend with a cocktail.  We are.  Cheers!


Who's Ready For Fall?

In honour of the arrival of fall, with October upon us tomorrow (and in spite of the lovely un-autumnal weather around here), I'm working on some fall-inspired drinks.  I'm also working hard to get you all the Halloween-themed concoctions I know you're all just dying to taste.  Ok, so maybe you aren't all as obsessed with Halloween as I am.  But you are as obsessed with cocktails, right?  Right?

Fine, whatever.  Here's a little one I'm calling a Blood Light.  Yes, that's a clever play on Bud Light with a Halloween twist.  No, there's no beer in it.  And it's delicious.  Evilly so.  Bring on my favourite holiday!

Blood Light

1 oz gin
1 oz Trader Joe's Hibiscus Cranberry blend juice (available at Trader Joe's, in case you didn't figure that out)
1/2 oz raspberry liqueur
1/4 oz Torani Amer
dash of Peychaud's bitters

Shake in a cocktail shaker filled with ice and pour into a cocktail glass.  Garnish with a cocktail cherry.  Enjoy.  Happy October!  And hold on - there's more fall imbibing fun coming soon!


Cold Water?

So our water heater died today, and in honor of it's passing - and also because new water heaters ain't cheap - we decided we needed a drink.  I started the night with an Aviation, but then decided the occasion called for something new.  So, your resident Stay At Home Bartender got to mixin'.  Here's the result.  I call it Cold Water in honor of our, well, cold water.

Cold Water

1.5 oz brandy
.5 oz raspberry liqueur
.5 oz Galliano
.5 oz fresh squeezed lemon juice

Shake in an ice-filled cocktail shaker, and pour into a cocktail glass.  Garnish with a cocktail cherry.

While the color of this drink in no way reflects what cold water would usually look like, it might reflect a little blood in the water bringing the sharks 'round.  And by sharks I mean overpriced water heater repairmen who know you have no choice but to pay.  Drink up and enjoy your hot water.