2013 Father’s Day Gift Guide: Booze

With most fathers, you really can’t go wrong giving them booze, especially if they have young kids or teenagers. And for more great ideas, be sure to check out the other categories in our Father’s Day gift guide.

Loki from Highland Park

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Loki is a 15-year old single malt Scotch that is part of Highland Park’s Valhalla Collection, a set of four unique whiskies taking inspiration from the Nordic gods of old. 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, and though it’s not cheap at $249 per bottle, for the right dad Loki can help you mark a memorable Father’s Day.

Mount Gay Black Barrel

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This iconic rum brand from Barbados is celebrating its 310th anniversary, so you know you’re going with quality that a dad can appreciate. This new version is hand selected by Master Blender Allen Smith, and the only one to be finished in charred bourbon oak barrels, resulting in a bold (but silky smooth) rum, with pepper, spice and wood notes. It’s great for sipping neat or on the rocks. This will definitely help your dad enjoy a nice summer day for this holiday.

CAMUS Ile de Ré Cognac

CAMUS is known for Cognac, and its latest Cognac offering comes from Ile de Ré (Island of Ré), an island just off the west coast of central France that is also a legal cognac appellation. This new and rare Cognac offers a different taste profile that is perfect chilled and will appeal to both scotch and cognac drinkers. Ile de Ré is very small, so the grapes absorb the sea spray from the air, giving the cognac a salty, maritime quality. Options include Ile de Ré Fine Island Cognac, Ile de Ré Double Matured Cognac and Ile de Ré Cliffside Cellar Cognac.

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Ron Abuelo Rum Gift Set

We love Ron Abuelo rum, and with Father’s Day around the corner we’re were very happy to get a Father’s Day Gift Set to check out which bundles a 750ml bottle of the Ron Abuelo 12 Años rum with a stylish and convenient travel kit. Along with the awesome rum bottle, the kit includes a leather wallet, magnetic money clip and key chain.

It’s a great gift set, but the rum bottle is the highlight of course. Ron Abuelo rum is produced entirely from estate-grown sugar cane in Panama by the family-owned Varela Hermanos. The company dates back to 1908 when Don José Varela established the first sugar mill in the recently-formed Republic of Panama, the San Isidro Sugar Mill. Almost 30 years later, Varela began the distillation of alcohol from their sugar cane crop in 1936. Currently run by the third generation, Varela Hermanos has approximately 1000 hectares of land devoted exclusively to the cultivation of sugar cane. Today, the range is composed of four authentic dark oak-aged rums: Añejo, 7 Años, 12 Años and the limited edition Ron Abuelo Centuria.

Sip it straight or make up some killer cocktails. Either way this stuff is a great addition to your bar and makes a great gift as well.

  

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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Drink of the Week: Hot Buttered Rum

Hot Buttered RumButter…mmm…not the most common of classic cocktail ingredients but hot buttered rum is not your ordinary cocktail. A Christmastime favorite in many places, the history of today’s DOTW likely goes back as far as prior to the U.S. Revolutionary War, when New England was awash with rum due to the deeply unfestive Triangle Trade.

Now, I have to admit that, prior to this week, hot buttered rum existed to me only as an occasionally referenced warmer upper on 1970s sitcoms and 1950s rom-coms. The good news is that, I have to say, I’m sold on it. This version is simple and sweet and pretty surefire, though it’s definitely best if you can get it all down while it’s still hot.

One proviso: some ultra-purists may sniff at this recipe since it doesn’t call for you to heat this drink with, get this, a red hot poker removed directly from a fireplace. (I used a microwave.)

Hot Buttered Rum

2 ounces dark rum
2 teaspoons sugar, preferably dark brown or raw
5-7 ounces boiling water
1 pat of butter (unsalted or salted)
Ground cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and/or cloves to taste

Put butter, sugar, and a dash or two of any or all of the suggested seasonings in mug, ideally pre-heated. Pour about 1-2 ounces of your boiling water in. Stir until the butter is melted and the sugar and spices have dissolved. Add two ounces of room temperature dark rum and top of with your remaining not-quite boiling but still extremely hot water.

Stir again and sip gingerly. It should be about the perfect temperature but better safe than sorry. Try not to spill any on your Snuggie.

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A couple of quick notes. Most recipes call for unsalted butter, but I was too lazy, cheap and hateful of waste to run to the store for a product I would never use for any other purpose. Salted butter worked fine, though I would stay away from any other obvious substitutions. (“Hot margarined rum”?) Also, most recipes say to add the butter last, but I found it melted easier my way and I still got a nice buttery coating on top.

As usual, there are an enormous number of ways to make hot buttered rum. A lot of recipes substitute super-hot apple cider for water, which I’m sure is pretty tasty but adds a lot of calories. Some versions throw ice cream into the mix, which just kind of blows my mind. Seriously, though, if you use a nice dark rum and dark brown sugar or raw sugar — both of which include molasses, the stuff they make rum out of — this drink should be plenty sweet.

Speaking of dark rum, you may find that with all the light, amber, and spiced varieties available, regular dark rum might be a bit harder to find in your price range than you’d think. BevMo here in California’s OC offered only two varieties of true dark rum. Myer’s Rum which was about $19.00 for a fifth and Whaler’s Original Rum, which was about half that price and turned out to be perfect for getting all hot and buttered.

  

Drink of the Week: The Mojito

the mojito Yes, I’ve been putting it off. Forgive me, I know not why I waited. The Mojito might be the trendiest drink going right now and there are the usual cocktail abuses committed by misguided bars, but overall it’s the kind of booze trend that even a staunch cocktail classicist can support.

Like so many classic cocktails, this venerable Cuban creation is a sturdy drink — great in the hot, moistish weather we’re still kinda sorta having in Southern California — that can bear a number of variations and is actually quite easy to make. And, or so the Wikipedians tell us, it’s possibly a relatively ancient drink and was even approved of by the Cuba and daiquiri loving Ernest Hemingway. What other encouragement do you need?

The Mojito

2 ounces light rum
1/2 to 1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice/wedges
1-3 teaspoons superfine sugar
2-5 sprigs of fresh mint
1-2 ounces (approx.) club soda or seltzer (sparkling water)

Combine lime juice and sugar — use more sugar to go with more lime juice or less to go with less — with mint in the bottle of an old fashioned glass or, perhaps, a smallish collins glass. Muddle enough to mix the sugar and juice and also lightly smash the mint leaves; they need not be pulverized. Add ice — very preferably crushed ice. Also add the spent lime wedges from your juicing. Stir vigorously with a swizzle stick or bar spoon — enough to melt some of the ice. Then, top off with a small amount of club soda or plain sparking water/seltzer and stir a bit more. It’s important to remember that last step. I know because I forgot a couple of times and wondered what was missing. Without just a dash of sparkle, a mojito fails to come alive.

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Though I provided a fair amount of flexibility above, there really are an enormous number of ways to skin the mojito cat and the ‘net provides no end of options. Even so, the simplest way I found was demonstrated by Rachel Maddow on a recent segment highlighted by this reasonable thought: “nuns deserve good drinks.” Her version was fairly similar to the way I make a caipirinha and involved less squeezing and measuring and definitely called for a wide-bottomed rocks glass on account of some heavy duty muddling. You basically just cut up a lime, throw in an entire tablespoon of sugar (!) and smash the heck out of it along with the mint leaves.

I found that version worked very nicely, but I was, to my own surprise, actually drawn more to the more squeezey/less smashy low lime juice and low sugar version promulgated by David Wondrich. If you keep the lime juice to 1/2 ounce, the natural sweetness of the rum and just one teaspoon of sugar is plenty to create a really full bodied refreshment. Still, the other ways are not one bit bad. There are doubtless many roads to mojito hell, most of them involving sour mix or who knows what other kinds of chemical monstrosities, but just as many paths to mojito enlightenment.

  

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