After trying Thor last year, we had the opportunity to check out the latest release for Highland Park’s Valhalla Collection, a set of four unique whiskies taking inspiration from the Nordic gods of old.
Loki is a 15-year old single malt Scotch that will definitely grab your attention. This creation is not for the faint of heart, as it was inspired by the “unpredictable, shape-shifting Loki character.” This Scotch was matured in both Spanish cherry casks along with heavily peated casks, so the result is a whisky with a very smoky punch. The taste is very complex and whisky aficionados will definitely want to try this one out.
It comes in the spectacular packaging you can see in the photo above, so this makes for a great gift idea with Father’s Day coming up. It’s not cheap at $249 but for the right dad Loki can help you mark a memorable Father’s Day.
There’s a movie out right now called “Paris-Manhattan” but that is actually just a pretty massive coincidence. I haven’t seen this French homage to the films of Woody Allen, but I’m certainly willing to piggy-back on it by accident. What actually happened was I was looking for a cocktail that justified the big bottle of rather expensive St. Germain elderflower liqueur I’d recently sprung for. The Paris Manhattan is what I found.
As it happens, this drink is not an ancient classic like its antecedent, the Manhattan, but was developed in the mid 2000s, reportedly by famed cocktail writer and entrepreneur Simon Difford. (As far as I know, no relation to the very talented Chris Difford of the band, Squeeze.)
Difford apparently was somehow involved in the creation of St. Germain, which has become the go-to elderflower liqueur for almost everyone, and he therefore has a vested interest in this cocktail. Indeed, I personally think he put just a bit too much of it in his drink. No worries, though, because I’ve fixed it!
The Paris Manhattan
2 ounces rye, Canadian, or bourbon whiskey
3/4 ounce St. Germain/elderflower liqueur
1/2 ounce dry vermouth
2 dashes of aromatic/Angostura bitters
1 cocktail cherry or orange twist (garnish)
Combine the liquid ingredients in cocktail shaker or mixing glass and stir vigorously. Strain into glass and add the cherry or orange twist garnish of your choice. Drink to Paris, Manhattan, some other city, or just drink. You’ll be fine.
I actually tried shaking this one, but it really didn’t work. The extra water and ice crystals simply didn’t add anything, while nevertheless detracting from the flavor. More importantly, I found that I thought the original recipe, which called for a full ounce of St. Germain, was too sweet — though I liked the results better with the remainder of my nearly consumed Templeton Rye than with Old Fitzgerald bonded bourbon. Oddly enough, no recipes I found online called for any less of the very sweet, you might say honeyish, liqueur.
I nevertheless tried it with only half an ounce of the elderflower liqueur, and that was a major disappointment. It didn’t taste any less sweet but was just kind of sharp in an unpleasant way. Then, I tried only 3/4 of an ounce with the rye and — because I was running out, just a whiff of Canadian Club Sherry Cask. Bingo.
If you’ve heard of the Irish town of Tipperary, and you’re not from Ireland or the UK, odds are it isn’t because of this cocktail but because of the song, “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary.” Gary Regan surmises that the drink is actually older than the song, but in my opinion the drink has aged at least as well as the somewhat treacly yet lovable English music hall ditty of World War I vintage.
With its combination of base spirit, sweet vermouth, and a small portion of the flavorful ringer that, in this case, is green Chartreuse — and its lack of bitters — it’s a fairly close relative of last week’s original Corpse Reviver. It’s also worth noting as being another of the very small but apparently growing group of cocktails to be made with Irish whiskey.
A few years ago, I found myself in an Irish pub in San Diego and I asked the bartender if he knew any Irish whiskey cocktails aside from Irish coffee. He had no idea. Well, now if you find yourself in an Irish bar, here’s another suggestion (assuming they’ve got some green chartreuse on hand).
2 oz. Irish whiskey
3/4 oz. sweet vermouth
1/2 oz. green Chartreuse
Lemon twist (garnish)
Combine the ingredients, stir, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. (A wine glass may also do for this one.) Add the lemon twist, sip, and salute the sweetest girl you know.
I can’t explain why, but I just couldn’t bring myself to try this one shaken, but I can’t stop you from doing so. As for brands, I tried both the classic Bushmills and the two less familiar brands that we’ve been playing with here in recent weeks, Concannon and Kilbeggan. While Bushmills is my actual favorite of the three — none of them are remotely bad — I was surprised to see that it was the darkhorse Concannon that held up most formidably among the onslaught of sweet vermouth and Chartreuse.
As for the vermouth, Carpano Antica, once again, beautifully dominated the drink, but Noilly Pratt, as usual, produced a nice harmony as well. If you feel tempted to try other proportions, feel free. There are numerous variations of this drink online that I wish I had time to play with. Gary Regan’s involves rinsing the glass with Chartreuse and then dumping the remains, which sounds a bit wasteful but might well be worth giving a try.
I could go on a bit more about this drink, but there’s really not that much to say. It’s been a sad and bittersweet week for those of us in the writing and media game as Roger Ebert’s death still hangs heavy in the air. Roger had stopped drinking before he became as world famous as he was destined to be and I’m not sure if it’s even right to mention him here. At the same time, it doesn’t seem right not to mention him here, and he did enjoy spending time in a good bar even after he stopped actually drinking.
It’s even odder to post a clip from a classic TV show rather than a classic movie — except, of course, that Roger was also part of a truly great TV show — but this is the best usage of the most famous song about Tipperary that I know. It’s also about the ending of something wonderful.
As promised when I took on the Corpse Reviver #2 last June, I’ve finally gotten around to the less known apparent original drink to bear the name. While my first attempts at a Corpse Reviver made it easy to see why it has been eclipsed by the gin and Lillet Blanc based sequel, with the right ingredients it really can wake up your taste buds and temporarily enliven your soul. We’ll simply ignore the fact that I happen to be writing most of this post on Easter Sunday of 2013.
In any case, the real reason for the name is that this drink is supposedly a hangover cure — though it’s not so much hair of the dog as a good chunk of the canine. Nevertheless, let us begin the revival.
The Corpse Reviver
1 1/2 ounces brandy or cognac
3/4 ounce Calvados or another apple brandy
3/4 ounce sweet vermouth
Combine the ingredients in a cocktail shaker or mixing glass. Although I’m generally in favor of shaking over stirring, I say you should stir your Corpse Reviver. Little ice crystals are the last thing you want in this drink. Nevertheless, stir vigorously and strain into a chilled cocktail glass and drink — to life, I suppose.
I messed around with the ingredients a lot on this one, but I used only one type of apple brandy. Calvados seems to be the classic choice of apple brandy for this drink and the Calvados Coquerel I’m using is expensive enough for half a fifth that I wasn’t in the mood to try out any competitors or more downhome variations. (Some recipes call for applejack.) I had just enough left over Ile de Ré Fine Island Cognac on hand to make one very sophisticated, yet perhaps too understated, version of the drink using my standard Noilly Pratt sweet vermouth.
I moved on to my personal favorite value brandy, Reynal, which isn’t made with genuine Cognac grapes but which is produced by a company with offices in the French town of Cognac. Using the Noilly Pratt vermouth along with the Calvados yielded an acceptable, but very unspectacular drink.
However, I still had some Carpano Antica on hand that had been thrown my way by mysterious benefactors — improperly stored due to a massive snafu on my part but still acceptable for use. That yielded a lovely result, with the bittersweet, chocolate-like character of the high end vermouth providing a very nice bottom against the lighter, boozier notes of the brandies. I was less pleased — but still pleased — when I tried the exact same drink with another favorite, Punt e Mes, which is in many respects very similar to Carpano but a bit sharper edged. Try it with one of those.
Now, we come to the point in these weekly missives where I usually like to make some kind of a quip or draw some larger conclusion about the drink. With a name like the Corpse Reviver, I suppose you’d expect that. The problem is that I really have no “larger” thoughts right now other than the fact that I certainly do not recommend this drink as a breakfast beverage. Maybe the gods of cinema can give me a hand.
Earlier today, the Guinness Storehouse (the Guinness brewery in Dublin, Ireland) rolled out the red carpet to welcome one of the world’s most famous actors in history, Tom Cruise. Cruise jetted into Dublin as part his worldwide tour for his latest movie, “Oblivion,” accompanied by director Joseph Kosinski and Cruise’s leading, lady former Bond girl Olga Kurylenko.
The group was treated to a private tour of the Guinness Brewery, and Tom received a one-on-one session with Master Brewer Fergal Murray to learn how to pour the perfect pint of Guinness.
Since opening its doors in 2000, the Guinness Storehouse has welcomed over 9 million visitors from around the world and is Ireland’s number one international visitor attraction. The building, a former fermentation plant in the legendary St. James’s Gate Brewery in Dublin, holds a seven story Guinness experience which allows visitors to gain an understanding of why Guinness has become one of the world’s most iconic and best loved brands.
If you’re looking from tips on how to pronounce the name of this week’s drink, you’re barking up the wrong tree. For one thing, my secretive communications with the dark forces that provide me with free booze and some very decent cocktails from time to time are all done via e-mail and gaelic doesn’t happen to be one of my languages. (My languages include English and, of course, fluent Pig Latin.) I’m pretty sure, it’s not pronounced “the faulty,” however.
I do know that it was developed for Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey, a brand which we’ve featured here before but of which you should not be ashamed to be ignorant. It had very limited distribution here in the States prior to be being picked up by the Jim Beam liquor monolith last year. Now, this brand is getting enough attention that even I’m hearing about it repeatedly and getting bottles thrown at me. The whiskey itself is a very decent choice, particularly for Irish whiskey fans who might be looking for reasonably priced alternatives to the two very well known — and admittedly very lovable — iconic Irish brands. I also appreciate the effort they’re taking to making up more Irish whiskey cocktails.
Today’s drink was actually created by Declan Byrne. Aside from having a very cool name that makes me think he might be actor Gabriel Byrne’s cooler older brother, he’s the President of the Irish Bartender’s Association. I imagine that to be an extremely august body, similar to the Jewish Tsuris Purveyor’s Guild. It’s actually a pretty delightful drink, though we discovered one controversial element, which we’ll deal with after the recipe below. Also, fáilte means “welcome,” which is nice.
Combine all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker, add ice and shake as if possessed by a mad leprechaun. Or, if that’s a bit too much, shaking vigorously will also do. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Sip and contemplate how very rarely chocolate and whiskey have been combined.
Which brings us to the interesting apparent disagreement regarding the Fáilte. I’ve actually altered the recipe above from Mr. Byrne’s original to allow for somewhat less of the chocolate bitters for a very specific reason — I didn’t really care for this drink when I went with the full five dashes. However, I liked it a lot when it cut the dashes down to 2, 3, or even 4. While I fully expected the combination of Irish whiskey and chocolate to be a case of two great things that go great together, for me, the flavor of the Fee Brothers Aztec Chocolate Bitters I was using just dominated the drink in a way I didn’t find at all pleasant.
Wondering if perhaps I was using the wrong type of chocolate bitters, I found that my source at Kilbeggan had actually used exactly the same brand as I and loved the result. Could our taste buds be so different? Maybe. Or maybe it was something to do with the fact that they were using Monin cherry syrup and Luxardo amaretto, while I was using Torani cherry syrup and Disaronno amaretto. These are all pretty standard brands; could the flavor be so different? Well, I’m too cheap/poorly paid to find out, so I resorted to cutting down a bit on the chocolate bitters and the result was pretty darn good. Might the five dashes be perfect with those different brands? Could the flavors be so different?
Readers are, of course, fáilte, to try out both combinations of brands and amounts of bitters for themselves, but I found what works for me.
A few months back, we were invited to spend a weekend in Las Vegas to live the M life with fellow lifestyle sites and bloggers courtesy of the folks at MGM Resorts. Of course, I immediately checked into what exactly the M life was and had to offer. Bottom line is that the M life is a VIP experience like no other! Here is a quick breakdown Q&A for all of our friends out there who enjoy life’s best experiences, appreciate excitement and want to know more about the M life.
What is M life?
This isn’t just a player’s club. You’ll be rewarded for enjoying hotel, dining, entertainment and spa experiences, along with your slot and table play at any one of 15 MGM Resorts’ destinations. Your play and spend are recognized as a single account, making it easy to stay, play and win wherever you like, whenever you like.
What MGM Resorts’ properties participate in M life?
It isn’t just Las Vegas! You can use your M life card and enjoy the benefits in Las Vegas at Bellagio, ARIA, Vdara, MGM Grand Las Vegas, The Signature at MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, THEhotel at Mandalay Bay, The Mirage, Monte Carlo, New York-New York, Luxor and Excalibur; in Mississippi at Beau Rivage and Gold Strike Tunica; and in Michigan at MGM Grand Detroit.
What are some of the benefits?
Just for becoming an M life member, you gain access to benefits such as the ability to room charge from any other MGM Resorts’ destination, access to M life Moments, access to exclusive and personalized offers, pre-sale ticket access to concerts and fights, and the best room rate guarantee.
What are M life Moments?
M life moments are unique experiences that give you exclusive access to just about any part of your favorite resort. Every M life resort offers M life Moments, and only M life members have access to them. As you move up Tier Levels, you unlock additional M life Moments.
Now that we’re all on the same page and understand just how cool the M life is, remember that I’m going to experience the M life first hand very soon. I’ll be updating our social media channels with awesome experiences, including pictures. My itinerary will be packed with totally amazing events that will be exclusive to M life members, so stay tuned for reports on Bullz-Eye. In addition to attending the Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational and checking out exciting new hotspots and amenities the weekend of April 4th, we’re going to enjoy unparalleled access to the best of Las Vegas through M life Moments – experiences available exclusively to members. A signature feature of the program, M life Moments offer a diverse collection of behind-the-scenes experiences, including those catered to travel enthusiasts.
It’s on soon, so wish me luck and keep an eye on Bullz-Eye.com for M life reports!
I’m guessing that, even if you weren’t getting hammered specifically on Conhattans or Shamrock Sours last weekend, at least a few of you were overindulging. For your sake, I’m hoping you weren’t overdoing it on bad green beer (is there ever good green beer?) and, if you were doing shots, I’m hoping it was on the good Irish stuff. (I’m personally partial to Bushmills.)
All of that is now in the past, and it’s time to recuperate with a drink that — unusually for DOTW — features not a single drop of hard liquor. Just some of my personal favorite mildly alcoholic grape derivatives. One of them happens to be this week’s sponsor, an old favorite of mine previously featured here several times, most memorably (to me) in the Ugly Americano. I speak of Punt e Mes, which basically tastes like regular sweet vermouth imbued with the spirit of the best dark chocolate you ever had.
Also, as readers of an online men’s magazine, you guys have got to love the name of this week’s tasty but tempestuous beverage.
The Italian Mistress
1/2 ounce Punt e Mes
1/4 ounce simple syrup
3-4 dashes Angostura Bitters
Sparkling white wine
1 orange twist (garnish)
Combine the Punt e Mes, bitters and syrup in the bottom of champagne flute or, if you haven’t got one, a regular champagne glass — in which case you might want to reduce the proportions of syrup and vermouth as flutes tend to be larger. (If you don’t have any simple syrup on hand, by the way, a dissolved teaspoon or less of superfine sugar will also work.) Top off with the sparkling white wine…very carefully. Excess foam can be a factor.
Once your drink is fully poured, add your orange twist. Now, sip and salute the Italian mistresses of the world, not that we have anything but good thoughts for Italian wives and girlfriends.
This is a pretty simple and straightforward drink, which is one reason why I like it. However, the recipe that came to me simply said it was to be built in a champagne glass, so I originally made this in a smaller regular champagne glass which I also happen to use as a cocktail glass, since it’s essentially the same thing. (The Y-shaped martini glass is a relatively modern invention. Nick and Nora Charles drank their martinis and Manhattans from champagne glasses/coupes and so do I, most of the time.)
It was only when I received the picture above that I realized I was using a slightly wrong glass. I have to admit it was a better balanced drink in the flute, but the version in the champagne glass did put the Punt e Mes a bit more forward, and that’s realy never a bad thing.The one thing I will say is never stint on the bitters on this one. Though Punt e Mes has more than its share of bitter notes, the Angostura is definitely needed to sort of counter-intuitively smooth things over.
The one place where I may have gone wrong was on my choice of bubbly. I stumbled over a very cheap genuine Champagne which had a slightly unpleasant bitterness to it and which I therefore can’t quite recommend. Still, the drink was sturdy enough to absorb that small blow. After all, any Italian mistress should be able to deal with a bit of French unpleasantness.
With St. Patrick’s Day 2013 nearly upon us, we’re featuring the second of two cocktails that claim some sort of association with the Emerald Isle and it’s descendents in the vast Irish diaspora. Last week, we had the delightful, but in no way particularly Irish, Shamrock Sour.
The Conhattan was suggested to me by a representative of a newish brand of Irish whiskey which has divided critics to a certain extent and actually boasts a connection with the town of Livermore. Livermore is not, I must tell you, located near Dublin or in County Cork, but in County Alameda in Northern California, a relative stone’s throw from Oakland and San Francisco. Aside from being the home of the famous/notorious nuclear weapons laboratory, it’s also the home of Concannon Winery, which is legitimately Irish-American but also, well, a winery.
This whiskey is made in Ireland, of course, by a distiller who finishes the whiskey in actual petite sirah barrels from Cali. As for the taste, it might not strike everyone as particularly Irish. While this video argues differently, to me, Concannon Irish Whiskey is probably best enjoyed by those who lean toward Scotch and find Jameson and Bushmills a bit overly soft. It’s very decent, but a bit astringent like a Scotch, not that there’s anything wrong with that.
In fact, I think the astringency may just be essential to today’s drink, a very sweet variation on a Manhattan but which differs a great deal from the more classicIrish Whiskey Manhattan, which we featured last year at this time. This time, this whiskey is mellowed not by sweet vermouth, but by a very popular cocktail ingredient we’ve never featured here before — St. Germain elderflower liqueur. Anyhow, let’s get started with a concoction created for Concannon by Dublin mixologist Gillian Boyle.
Put all liquid ingredients into a mixing glass or cocktail shaker with plenty of ice. Ms. Boyle would have stir just until the drink is “evenly diluted” but I say stir as long as you like, or be a heretic like me and shake the thing. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass, add the orange peel and, if you like, the cherry, and toast your favorite Irish or Irish-American person, real or imagined.
I often strip out most of the brand names from my recipes because I like to offer readers the freedom to try out drinks with their own brands and not feel tied to what I happen to be using. This time, however, I really think it’s best to mostly stick with the script as provided by Boyle. I haven’t actually had the opportunity to try the Conhattan with other products, but I strongly suspect this drink would completely fall apart if you attempted it with say, Bushmills or Jameson’s. Much as I adore those highly approachable whiskeys, I strongly suspect that they wouldn’t stand up to this much St. Germain, which is complex but also extremely sweet. Also, you’d have to change the name (“The Bushhattan”??). You could probably cheat by using another brand of dry vermouth than Noilly Pratt, but since it’s been a favorite go-to brand of mine for years now, I see no reason to diverge there.
On the other hand, I am offering readers the option of raising or lowering the amount of St. Germain, for a very simple reason. Very frankly, though I am no stranger to the tooth that is sweet, I found the original recipe, which called for a full ounce of liqueur, overly sweet — good enough for DOTW but very far from a personal favorite.Reducing it to 1/2 ounce, however, produced an extremely nice cocktail on which I’m proud to place my personal stamp of approval. At that amount, the light touch of the elderflower is just sweet enough to properly soften the kick of the Concannon without muffling it outright.
It’s all about balance. Indeed, there’s a place for sweetness on St. Patrick’s Day, as director John Ford — the ultimate Irish-American mythmaker — undoubtedly would have agreed.
Okay, we admit that St. Patrick’s Day is nearly a fortnight away, but the tireless promoters of the alcoholic industrial complex have been hard at work plying me with bottles of top-quality hooch and some intriguing holiday themed recipes to go with them. In this case, we’re talking about my personal favorite member of the Jim Beam Small batch family, Basil Hayden’s. Yes, it’s only 80 proof and therefore less overtly flavoriffic than a typical high quality bourbon, but it mixes so harmoniously, I really can’t say anything bad about it. It’s definitely one bourbon that’s worth trying with just a bit of cold water or maybe some ice cubes. Sort of like a sweeter version of a very nice Scotch.
Nor do I have anything but nice things to say about the Shamrock Sour, a lively variation on a timeless tonic developed by New York mixologist and proprietor, Julie Reiner, who appears to be something of a budding superstar in the bar game. I can’t think of a better final chapter to wrap up the quartet of delicioussours I’ve been featuring in recent weeks.
Now, I would agree with naysayers that the Irish/St. Patrick’s Day bonafides of any bourbon-based beverage are very seriously in doubt — it’s not like Kentucky is any kind of Irish-American enclave. On a more superficial level, the Shamrock Sour isn’t even particularly emerald colored, a bit of very expensive but worth it green chartreuse notwithstanding. Still, if the choice is between good taste and thematic consistency, I have to go with the taste. On the other hand, we’ll be trying out another drink using actual Irish whiskey as the big boozing day approaches. For now, however, I wholly endorse the Shamrock Sour for St. Patrick’s Day, or any other day. Authenticity, be darned.
The Shamrock Sour
2 ounces bourbon (preferably Basil Hayden’s®, naturally)
1/2 ounce green chartreuse
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
1/2 ounce grapefruit juice, preferably fresh
1/4 ounce agave nectar
1/4 ounce water (to mix with the agave nectar)
1/4 ounce egg white
1 lemon wheel (highly desirable garnish)
1 sprig of fresh mint (even more desirable garnish)
Combine bourbon, chartreuse — a highly distinctive a-little-goes-a-long-way liqueur whose complete formula is known only to a pair of monks in France’s Chartreuse Mountains — and juice in a cocktail shaker. Mix the agave nectar with an equal amount of water to make 1/2 ounce of agave syrup. Add the egg white and, as usual with egg cocktails, shake vigorously before you have added ice.
Then, add ice, shake again very vigorously and pour over fresh ice into a fairly good size rocks glass. Add a lemon wheel and mint sprigs, which I think is actually an important part of the flavor here, particularly the mint. Toast the people of Ireland (who gave us James Joyce), the people of Kentucky (who gave us two of my favorite character of recent pop culture, Raylan Givens and Abraham Lincoln), and why not throw in those Carthusian monks and Julie Reiner while you’re at. I know I’m grateful to all of them.
This really is an especially well-balanced whiskey sour variation. Aside from the good booze, the agave, and the all important (though viscous and therefore tricky to measure out), egg white, the secret ingredient in here is the grapefruit. In fact, I have to credit this drink for dispelling my childish dislike of the bittersweet citrus fruit with legendarily healthy properties. I hated the stuff as a child and always remembered it as just bitter and ultra tart. I’m embarrassed to say that I haven’t tried eating the stuff in years. Apart from this drink, I find I now am increasingly tolerant of the stuff. It’s actually about as sweet as it is bitter, sorta kinda like the citrus equivalent of Campari or Aperol.
It’s healthy too. In fact, now I understand that grapefruit might actually help fight type 2 diabetes, an illness genetics — and my outsize enjoyment of food and drink — suggest I might fall prey to. Is it possible this is a drink that could save my life? Well, I’m definitely going to use that excuse the next time I make it.