Drink of the Week: The Montenegro Sour

The Montenegro Sour. Lately, we’ve been featuring a few cocktails made with really good booze sent to me by the dark forces of the liquor-industrial complex. Today’s post is a bit different as the much appreciated gift of free booze came not from some shadowy Sidney Falco, but from Ron Shishido, a very old junior high/college buddy who’s probably taught me how to appreciate a good booze concoction as much as anyone else on this planet, including Rachel Maddow.

Amaro Montenegro is, on it’s own and served neat, quite a lovely drink. It’s a member of the amaro family of bittersweet liqueurs which occasionally pop up in cocktails. It’s popular enough in Italy to be featured in a series of slick commercials of the kind we use to sell highish-end beer in the States, and that’s for a reason. With a hard-to-pin down but relatively fruity flavor, it’s a kinder, gentler, vastly more drinkable brew than, say Torani Amer or the superior — but still two-fisted — Amaro CioCara. As bitter digestifs go, this one’s pretty sweet.

Perhaps because it’s so readily drinkable all on its own, I had a hard time finding a cocktail made with this particular amaro. However, Food and Wine bloggers Carey Jones and John McCarthy came to the rescue with a few recipes. I chose one featuring my all-time favorite non-alcoholic cocktail ingredient, egg white.

I’m not sure the drink is so accurately named, however. Whatever alleged citrus flavor there is comes from the mysterious herbal blend from which Amaro Montenegro is made, so it’s really more bitter, in a good way, than sour.

On the plus side, that means no potentially messy juice squeezing is required this time around and that definitely speeds up the cocktailing process. That’s good because I’m breaking my usual rule against recipes requiring home-made syrups. Yes, there’s a tiny bit of extra work involved, but be bold and read on.

The Montenegro Sour

1 ounce Montenegro Amaro
1 1/2 ounces bourbon
1 fresh egg white or equivalent (see below)
1/2 ounce honey syrup (see below)
1 dash aromatic bitters, Angostura or similar

Combine the Amaro Montenegro, bourbon, syrup, and bitters in cocktail shaker. First, as always with egg or egg white cocktails, we do a “dry” shake without ice to emulsify it. Then, we shake again, very vigorously and with plenty of ice, and strain it into a chilled cocktail glass or smallish rocks glass. We then enjoy this delightfully refreshing beverage and toast our amaro’s namesake, Princess Elena of Montenegro, the World War II-era queen consort of Italy known, for the most part anyway, for her good works.

****

Despite the fact that I often tell publicists with recipes that make-it-yourself syrups are off the table, I decided to make an exception this week for a couple of reasons.

First. the honey syrup for this recipe is ridiculously easy to make. Just mix equal parts honey and hot water, then stir. I put 1/4 cup of honey and that much water in the microwave for 30 seconds, stirred the stuff, and then put it in the freezer for a few minutes so it wouldn’t be too hot. Low on both muss and fuss.

The second reason we’re using the honey syrup is that I actually tried this drink more than once with my usual Master of Mixes Simple Syrup and it just didn’t do the trick. Too simple. Apparently, you need that little bit of honey flavor to complement the bourbon and amaro.

I used three different brands of bourbon. The always outstanding 80 proof Basel Hayden’s yielded a nectary result that went down very easy indeed. 94 proof Wathen’s, a brand that’s I recently bought out of curiosity and which I’m quite liking, produced a boozier, but also more full bodied, result.

Finally, there was the version using an old DOTW favorite that’s been returning to my local stores of late, “bottled in bond” 100 proof Old Fitzgerald, which remains the best bourbon bargain I’ve found at, in my case, less than $15.00 for a bottle. It produced a sweet, tangy, and very punchy attitude adjuster that, at that particular moment, was very much what the doctor ordered. Admittedly, however, that doctor would not be a liver specialist.

Finally, I have to add a few more words on the enormous power of egg whites to really transform a drink. Contrary to the common assumption, whites in drinks are not even slightly slimy but add a smooth, almost milky, froth to a drink. The froth smooths over the rough edges of the other flavors and unites them as well as anything I’ve ever experienced.

Still, many folks resist, and not all of their reasons are bad. I’ve been talking to an expert or two lately about what I still believe are the very low risks of using raw egg white. However, I’ve been told that, for people who are concerned, caution may still be in order especially right now for a number of reasons, cost-related reductions in government inspection among them, no doubt. (God forbid big government should stand in the way of a microbe’s ability to grow and prosper in a free-market environment.)

I just crack open a large egg and maybe wash the shell first. However, people with real health concerns of any kind  about this should very definitely consider using about 1-1.5 ounces of one of the many brands of pasteurized egg white on the market.

  

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Product Review: Schick Hydro 5 Sensitive Collection

Sensitive-Schick-Hydro-5

The Schick Hydro 5 Sensitive Collection had all the sensitivity of a toddler petting a kitten on a pillow with a rainbow in the background, while listening to Richard Marx’s hit power ballad, “Hold Onto the Nights.”

As a dude, shaving your chin is a delicate, sensitive process. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve nicked myself in that particular area based solely on excessive speed and a lack of tenderness.

Luckily, the Schick Hydro 5 Sensitive is here to save us from ourselves. The Ultra Glide Blades are equipped with Skin Guards (that would be a sweet band name) that smooth the surface of the skin while you shave. In the 20-plus shaves I used the product, it didn’t happen once. And I sped through my shaves like a young Apollo Ohno.

Since we’re being sensitive, I have a confession to make. Thanks to investing in high priced, high-end shaving creams (not to be confused with the Tribe Called Quest classic, “The Low End Theory”) over the years, I’ve tended to look upon Edge products with a jaundiced eye.

I mean, look at the people Edge hangs out with — Wal-Mart, Target and almost any other national retail chain. Edge will pretty much align itself with anyone that will have it, and those whoreish tendencies have never been lost on me.

But, as with the case of many whores, there is also something that attracts you in the first place, no matter how many strange beds she’s laid in.

Thanks to this review, Edge and I reconvened, and after a few go-arounds with the Sensitive Pro Relief Shave Gel, I have to say that it was pleasurable.

The combination of Edge Sensitive Pro Relief Shave Gel with the Schick Hydro 5 Sensitive was the most formidable pairing of sensitive elements since K-Ci & Jo-Jo teamed up for their 1997 #1 hit, “All My Life.”

Speaking of K-Ci, he exposed himself at a concert in 2001 and was charged with lewd conduct. The New Schick Hydro 5 Groomer exposes itself too, but it’s a good kind of exposure.

The Hydro 5 Groomer, as well as the Schick Hydro 5 Sensitive razor, features a flip trimmer that “exposes” all five blades, which allows you to reach tight spaces with ease. Ahem.

So, who’s ready for a cigarette? Grab my pack of Winstons from off the bureau while I set the mood with the Color Me Badd classic, “I Wanna Sex You Up.”

The Hydro 5 Groomer is half-razor, half-power trimmer, which makes it the Centaur of shaving. It has the classic “man part” elements that you expect of a razor on top (five blades, aloe gel reservoir) mixed with the horse legs (the edger and flip trimmer) on the bottom.

Unless you’re afraid to get a little bit sensitive, check out the Schick Hydro 5 Groomer and Schick Hydro 5 Sensitive at schickhydro.com and Edge Sensitive Pro Relief Shave Gel at edgeshave.com.

  

Drink of the Week: The Pilar Old Cuban

The Pilar Old Cuban.A really topnotch new brand of dark rum, fresh lime juice, a little sweetness, some fresh mint leaves, champagne…what could possibly go wrong? Nothing, really. Nothing at all. It’s just…

I have to be honest with you — I don’t really feel like I’ve nailed this week’s drink, not quite. Yes, it’s refreshing and fairly well balanced, it’s base spirit is kind of spectacular, easily one of the best products I’ve ever been lucky enough to get for free. However, the final flavor profile just didn’t wow me as much as you’d expect, especially given how good the main ingredient really is and, really, how sound this recipe — a variation of a drink that’s been around for awhile — really seemed on paper.

At the same time, I have a confession to make, but we’ll get to that in the post-recipe section of this post.

The Pilar Old Cuban

2 ounces Papa Pilar’s Dark Rum
3/4 ounce fresh lime juice
3/4 ounce simple syrup
2 dashes Angostura bitters
6-8 fresh mint leaves
2 ounces brut champagne/dry sparkling white wine

Muddle the mint leaves lightly in a cocktail shaker. Add the rum, lime juice, simple syrup, bitters (very important or this drink will come out way too sweet…I know because I forgot them on my first attempt at this drink), lots of ice, and shake vigorously.

Strain into an extra large cocktail glass (double strain if you’re fussy about bits of mint leaf getting into the drink). Top off with two ounces of cold champagne/sparkling white wine. Toast the real life elderly Cuban person of your choice. Mine would be the late Ruben Gonzalez, the wonderful, gentlemanly pianist featured in Wim Wenders’ 1998 music documentary, “The Buena Vista Social Club.”

*****

Today’s cocktail appears to be a variation of a drink reportedly invented by famed bartender Audrey Saunders, which features a premium rum from a far better known brand and is simply known as The Old Cuban. As mentioned above, the base spirit in today’s drink is the truly extraordinary Papa Pilar’s Dark Rum, which is dynamite stuff. This very flavorful expression, which has strong hints of vanilla and a lot of molasses to it, makes a truly fantastic Old Fashioned. It’s got so much natural flavor and sweetness that you can make that drink with just 1/2 a teaspoon of raw sugar.

Nevertheless,  I chose to make the Pilar Old Cuban instead. If I really did make a mistake on this version that kept it out of the cocktail stratosphere, I’d hazard a guess that it was — and here’s my confession — my use of a pretty darn cheap champagne to finish off the drink.

Yes, I ignored the obvious disapproval of a local liquor purveyor who tried to steer me towards a $12.00 bottle of bubbly. I simply wasn’t in the mood to spend that kind of a money on an ingredient that wasn’t even really the star of the show and it’s not like I’d get to use the unused champagne on future cocktails. So, I went with a $5.00 brand that you may well have consumed at a not-too-upscale champagne brunch.  Maybe that’s what did it, or rather, didn’t quite do it.

So, it’s possible I missed the point here. Try this drink with a really good brand of champagne, especially if you’re going to be opening a bottle of the stuff anyway. You can experiment with a little less simple syrup, or try it with superfine sugar instead, maybe just a tablespoon full or slightly more. Or, you could just listen to the beautiful playing piano playing of the later Mr. Gonzalez, which makes everything perfect.

  

The death of anti-persperant residue

Is ther anything worse than anti-persperant residue on your pits? You hate it, and you can be sure anyone you’re dating hates it as well. New Right Guard Extreme completely changes the game and your shirts won’t be caked with that residue ever again!

Click HERE to find out more on Facebook and get a free coupon!

  

Is it the sheets? A Guys Guide to Choosing the Right Linens That She’ll Love

couple kissing under blankets

We spend a 1/3 of our lives in bed; there is no reason not to make it enjoyable for you and your female friend(s). To most guys, sheets are just sheets. But considering she noticed that you two use the same type of toothpaste, don’t you think she’s noticing a little bit more than just the pattern of your blanket while you’re passed out next to her? Since we always have our readers’ backs, here’s our go-to guide to taking your bed to the next comfort level and giving her one more incentive for sleeping next to your handsome mug.

Read the rest of this entry »

  

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