Drink of the Week: The Road Warrior (a work in progress) (updated)

The Road Warrior.For roughly the same period of time as I’ve been doing Drink of the Week, I’ve been attending a series of soirees held about twice every summer and hosted by the Southern California Drive-In Movie Society and ol’ blogging chum, Dennis Cozzalio of the noted cinephile hang, Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule. Don’t tell anyone but, against the rules of drive-ins everywhere, I’ve been smuggling hooch into every single event that I’ve attended.

Now, since I prefer my booze in cocktail form, this presents a bit of a problem. Yes, you can try to make a Manhattan at a drive-in, if you’re prepared for messing around with a cocktail shaker out of the back of a car. Even if you do, however — and I was once crazy enough to give it a go — how are you going to properly serve them to several people? Since my definition of “proper” includes a chilled glass made of actual glass, it doesn’t really come together.

Instead, I’ve mostly preferred to find a drink that can be easily transported in a thermos or other container and then enjoyed from a plastic cup, with maybe just an the addition of ice or perhaps some canned or bottled soda water. The Cliquet was one such drink, but this year I decided to try something new. And so we have a creation, for better or worse, of my very own. It borrows the American title, circa 1981, of George Miller’s hugely popular second entry in the “Mad Max” series because, well, movies and portability. (Also, I first contemplated the drink when I thought I’d be watching “Mad Max: Fury Road” at this summer’s earlier get together, which I tragically was forced to miss.)

I’m still perfecting the Road Warrior, which is definitely tiki influenced, but still perhaps a bit too heavy on the sweet. It’s a work in progress, but enough excuses. Let’s see what I can do to make this thing work.

The Road Warrior

1 ounce white rum
1/2 ounce 151 rum
1 ounce pineapple juice
1 ounce apple juice
1/2 teaspoon maraschino liqueur
1/2 teaspoon cassis
1/2 teaspoon limoncello
1/2 teaspoon grenadine or raspberry syrup
Soda water to top (optional)

Combine all the ingredients in a glass. You can also, of course, multiply the ingredients many times over and prepare the thing in a large thermos or other container and later pour it into whatever sort of cups or glasses are available. Next, stir with plenty of ice and maybe keep stirring. If it’s still too sweet for you, add a few splashes of club soda or seltzer. Prepare for a drink that may or may not taste good, but which should at least improve you enjoyment of an evening of drive-in movie entertainment.

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In terms of my hard liquors this week, I pretty much stuck to the basics. My 80 proof white rum was Bacardi; my 151 was Trader Vic’s. (So cheap on sale!) The other ingredients were pretty much what I had on hand. Luxardo for the maraschino and limoncello (switching over to Maraska’s maraschino made no real difference). Similarly, using higher end Myers light rum didn’t make a big dent one way or the other. What did make for a very significant improvement was trading up from Dole’s canned pineapple juice to Trader Joe’s extremely tasty not-from-concentrate in a carton.

In a very real sense I won’t consider this week’s drink anywhere near completion until I try it out on the friendly folks at this week’s event at the Mission Tiki Drive-In. I will say that I’ve been dosing a willing guinea pig who is not, however, a dyed-in-the-wool cocktail person. The test subject prefers the drink sans soda and enjoys both the sweetness and the undeniable kick-assyness that the 151 adds, but at this point I still find that adding a bit time seltzer/club soda spritz helps a great deal.

Stay tuned. On Sunday I promise to report back with a brief update on the reaction and my semi-final verdict on the Road Warrior.

UPDATE: It’s Sunday early afternoon as I write this. And, while I insist that Dennis Cozzalio’s delicious home made breaded chicken and cous-cous was much tastier than the Road Warrior, Dennis and few other people seemed very happy with the drink indeed. Notably, however, they all took my advice and had it with a few splashes of soda water. I’m still unconvinced the drink is a flat-out success but who am I to argue?

I will say that I found myself enjoying “American Ultra” more than I might have expected, I did find myself nodding off during “The Man from UNCLE,” despite some obviously gorgeous filmmaking (from Guy Ritchie???) and crackerjack performances.  Alcohol and cinema make great companions, but there can be a price!

  

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2014 Holiday Gift Guide: Booze

Walk into any liquor store and you’ll see hundreds of options. You can zero in on someone’s favorite drink when picking a gift, or you can get creative and choose something they wouldn’t buy for themselves. Also, remember that you don’t want to come to a party empty-handed, so get in the habit of at least bringing a bottle.

And for more gift ideas, check out the other categories in our Holiday Gift Guide.

Roca Patrón Silver

roca_patron

It’s only been 15 or 20 years since high-end tequilas began to compete against Cognac and single-malt Scotch for supremacy among world-class sipping experiences, with often outstanding and highly accessible results. Already by far the best known premium tequila in the U.S., Patrón is upping their game even more with a new line of super-premium boozes, Roca Patrón, named for the stone wheels used to extract the juice of the blue agave plant. Unlike añejos and reposadas, silver (aka white) tequilas are un-aged and generally best used for cocktails and shots. At an MSRP of $69.00, however, Roca Patrón Silver is definitely no freshman-year bender fodder and a great gift for the man or woman who’s sipped nearly everything. The Patrón people describe the flavor as sweet, “with notes of black pepper, pumpkin and lime tea.” We taste mainly the honey-like flavor of the agave, but isn’t that the whole point of quality tequila? Not too stuffy to accompany a little grapefruit soda or perhaps even a perfectly a well-balanced classic margarita (shaken, not blended!), this definitely qualifies as not just the good stuff, but the very good stuff. Aged Roca Patrón Reposada and Roca Patrón Añejo are available at commensurately higher price tags.

Patrón’s Holiday Classic Cocktails Kit

patron_cocktails

Once maligned by the ignorant, tequila has emerged as every bit the equal of whiskey, gin and, yes, Cognac, as the basis for a truly tip-top cocktail – and we don’t just mean a classic margarita either, as marvelous as those can be. Now, the biggest name in premium tequila is marketing its own variation on one of the ultimate cocktail classics, the Añejo Manhattan, which substitutes aged tequila for the usual bourbon, rye or Canadian whiskey. This set (MSRP $54.99) includes a bottle of flavorful mellow Patrón Añejo, two very sturdy, large coupe glasses (a more rounded old-school variation on today’s standard martini glasses) and Dashfire Brandy Old Fashioned Bitters. The latter is a tantalizing alternative to standard Angostura aromatic bitters with a strong accent of smokey cloves; no self-respecting Manhattan is remotely complete without bitters, and this artisanal brand is an outstanding choice. All your giftee needs to add is a cocktail shaker/mixing glass, some sweet vermouth (ideally Carpano Antica), lots and lots of ice, and we’re off to the races! A strong gift selection for any open-minded cocktail enthusiast.

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Crown Royal Regal Apple

Bottle and Box

I’m a huge fan of Crown Royal Canadian Whisky, so I was looking forward to trying the all-new Crown Royal Regal Apple. The flavored whisky arrived in a sweet emerald green carton with the iconic Crown Royal bag in green and gold tones. Crown Royal Regal Apple is a combination of the well-known, premium taste of Crown Royal whisky infused with natural apple flavors. It’s delicious as a chilled shot as the strong apple flavor jumps out and you can use it for a number of great cocktails as well. With the beautiful packaging and the iconic Crown Royal brand it’s also great for a gift or something to bring to a party during the holiday season.

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Drink of the Week: Eggnog

eggnogI have a confession to make.  Despite my enormous love of all things sweet and milk fatty, I was fully prepared to bale on what has to be the ultimate seasonal drink. I have to admit there were concerns for my waistline — you guys have no idea how much weight I gained as a child knocking back the carton based non-alcoholic stuff. Also, as I grew older, I usually was disappointed by the spiked nog I’d had at parties. Somehow, the booze always seemed to destroy the cheap and creamy charm of the store bought nog. It was like putting vodka in chocolate milk. (I’d rather have a shot and choco-moo chaser, thank you.)

Still, the real reason I was going to go AWOL on eggnog was that I was simply intimidated. I imagined fresh eggnog to be a very complicated drink to make; a drink that might even force me to break my no-blenders rule, classic drink though it be. The online recipes telling me that I had to start with a 6 or more eggs, separate the yolks from the whites and perform various operations on them only reinforced that assumption.

Then, however, I started Googling “eggnog for one” and a great revelation came to me. Really, all this drink is a raw egg — provisos and disclaimers to come — milk, sugar, vanilla flavor, and booze. I have to say that, even if I have a sentimental attachment for the gooey store bought stuff, this shockingly easy, if slightly messy, home made version beats that all to heck.

So, here goes, the drink recipe I never thought I’d post.

Eggnog

1.5 ounces of your choice of cognac/brandy, bourbon, Canadian whiskey, or rum
1 large egg
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 ounce heavy cream (optional)
2 ounces full fat milk if not using heavy cream; with cream use 1.5 ounces
4-5 teaspoons superfine or powdered sugar
Ground nutmeg (garnish)
1 cinnamon stick (optional garnish)

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