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Colleen Graham

Colleen's Cocktails Blog

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Spiked Split Pea Smoothie for Earth Day

Tuesday April 22, 2014

Kale smoothies have been everywhere lately and there are some great recipes like this Green Smoothie or Blueberry Kale Smoothie. However, I have another version that is even more adventurous, for adults only, and completely in the spirit of Earth Day.

American Harvest Spirit Spring Suite Cocktail

The drink is called Spring Suite and it comes from American Harvest, an organic spirit that is almost vodka and has a number of eco-friendly business practices. To that spirit, the recipe adds a little mint and lemon marmalade and juice, but it is the split pea puree that makes this cocktail a whole lot of fun and, honestly, not for everyone. You have to have a sense of flavor adventure to get beyond the fact that split peas are in your cocktail. If it were not for the sweet citrus of the marmalade and the perfect pairing of mint and split pea, this drink would not work, but the way it was designed is quite surprising. Get the recipe...

10 Tips for an Eco-Friendly Bar

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Savory Cocktail Winner: Smoke and Spice and Everything Nice

Wednesday April 16, 2014

Mezcal is the star of the latest winning recipe in the monthly cocktail contest. The theme for March was savory cocktails and today I get to announce that a spicy little drink called Smoke and Spice and Everything Nice is the winner. It was created by Diana Novak, who has recently written for Tasting Panel Magazine and works with craft spirits for Palm Bay International.

Smoke and Spice and Everything Nice

The drink is everything that its name implies. It has a great, complex flavor profile which makes it one of those drinks for people seeking a little adventure. Novak has chosen a nice reposado mezcal for the base and added cilantro, lime, agave nectar, and jalapeno. She then tops it off with Tabasco and ginger beer. The smoke of the mezcal and the crispness of the cilantro work surprisingly well with the hot peppers and the ginger beer is that magical touch that both contrasts and compliments everything to create a well balanced, shockingly good drink. Get the recipe...

My congrats and thanks to Diana!

Read More...

A Spicy Campari Cocktail?

Monday April 7, 2014

One of the joys of exploring cocktails is to experience all of the unique flavors that are possible and today I have a very, very interesting one for you.

Jose Celebration of Citrus Cocktail

Campari... What do you think of when it comes to a Campari drink? Vermouth, clear soda, some fresh, light fruits, maybe some herbs, but what about a jalapeno pepper? It's true, it is the 'magical' ingredient that makes Brian Hawthorne's Celebration of Citrus cocktail stand out.

Now, before you judge, give this one a try (or at least think about it). The mix is one of Campari, sweet vermouth, orange and grapefruit juices, and a little sparkling wine to top things off. Before all of that, a single slice of  jalapeno is added and if you avoid the majority of the seeds, it is not very spicy at all. It adds a slight vegetal spice that simply finishes off the flavor combination quite interestingly, giving it a unique layer and creating an aperitif that is very pleasing.

You can also find this cocktail on the current menu of The Wayland in New York City.

Get the Celebration of Citrus recipe...

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Where's My Lime?

Friday April 4, 2014

Maybe you have noticed it... a higher priced (or no) lime Margarita, a lemon instead of lime garnish in your favorite drink, or fewer limes at the market. There is currently a lime shortage and it has bartenders and consumers scrounging to fill the gap or pay the price.

Cutting Lime Garnishes

The shortage comes from a number of damaging factors in Mexico's lime production, including weather, disease, and drug cartels. Mexico has fewer limes to sell so the price is going up and this is already effecting bars across the U.S. Some have stopped using limes or at least cut back on the size of garnishes, and some are just paying the higher price, which will impact the cost we pay for drinks. It has been an issue for a few weeks and is predicted to be a long-term problem, though how long is anyone's guess.

Camper English and Lou Bustamante have written in detail about it on Alcademics.com:

What can you do?

  • Skip Lime Cocktails - And that's a lot of drinks. Think about it, how many cocktails are you making that include lime juice? It is one of the most popular mixers because even in small amounts, it is often that finishing touch that marries the other ingredients with each other. Though there are many fine lime cocktails, there are many that do not use lime.
  • Substitute - We've been preaching "Fresh Juice, Fresh Juice, Fresh Juice" for so long that it's difficult to say... there is always that 'other' lime juice. Bottled lime juices leave a lot to be desired and often add far more to the mix than pure lime, but they are available and it's not immediately apparent that this shortage is going to effect the price. Another option (and you will have to experiment a lot) is to use lime liqueurs, syrups, or cordials. Some bartenders are looking to acid phosphates for a solution as well.
  • Wait It Out - As with most things, particularly agriculture, this is not permanent and will probably not last long. Pay the higher prices or skip the lime, either way this will pass and we'll be sipping fresh Margaritas as generously as before (maybe with a higher appreciation).

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2014 About.com Readers' Choice Awards Results

Wednesday April 2, 2014

The results are in and we have winners in the 2014 About.com Readers' Choice Awards.

2014 About.com Readers' Choice Awards

Over the last two months readers have been nominating and voting for their favorite distilled spirits in 10 categories and today I get to announce the winning brands. It is an interesting mix and it is apparent that these brands (some of which are relatively unknown) have a strong following and loyal fans. This may be an indication that they're something to try if you haven't already.

Here are the winners in each of the 10 categories. Follow the links to learn a little more about the brand and find a cocktail selected to highlight each.

Remember, this was based solely on reader participation and I am only the facilitator. If 'your brand' didn't make it, there's always next year. The Readers' Choice Awards typically begin in February and you can keep up to date by subscribing to my weekly newsletter.

Would you like to receive cocktail tips and recipes every week? Sign up for the free cocktail newsletter and recipe of the week here and get the latest edition sent directly to your email.

New Cocktail Contest: Fruit Cocktails

Tuesday April 1, 2014

It is April 1st and that means that it is not only April Fool's Day, but also time to announce this month's cocktail contest and it is the easiest one yet. The theme for April's contest is: Fruit Cocktails.

It's true, all your drink needs this month is a little bit of fruit and I don't care how you get it. Fresh fruits, fruit liquors, purees, nectars, sodas, syrups, and anything else that has a fruit flavor can be used. The only thing I ask is that the fruity flavor be a main component in the drink.

It is a very simple challenge and I'm sure that many of you have a number of cocktails that will work. Choose the best of your creations and share them soon. Deadline on this one is Sunday, April 27th.

Submit your fruit cocktail here...

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New Season, New Cocktail Menu

Wednesday March 19, 2014

The signs are everywhere, spring is finally in sight and, beyond many other things, it is time to switch out our drink routines. For spring we tend to go with light, refreshing cocktails that are filled with the tastes of the season and there are plenty of recipes to choose from. These are a few of my personal favorites.

Cherry Lane Cocktail
Cherry Lane

Cherry Lane - Made with one of the few cherry vodkas that do not remind me of cold season, this is a lovely transitional cocktail that doesn't rely too much on fresh ingredients, but leaves you with the feeling of the season anyway. Grey Goose Cherry Noir and Benedictine are the stars of this drink.

Herb's Mary Rose Martini - This fun 'tini' is worth every moment of the week's anticipation that the rosemary-infused vodka requires. Once you get through that, simply shake it up with creme de cassis and cranberry juice, topping it off with soda for a little sparkle.

Good Luck Charm - If dark spirits are your thing no matter what the season, here is a springy bourbon drink that is a perfect transition. It mixes bourbon with lemoncello, sour, and fresh mint and it is every bit as delicious as it sounds.

10 Great Cocktails for Spring - Whenever one of these drinks are in front of me I am instantly transported to the warming days of the season of rejuvenation. Fresh herbs and seasonal fruits fill these drinks with that perfect spring accent.

Would you like to receive cocktail tips and recipes every week? Sign up for the free cocktail newsletter and recipe of the week here and get the latest edition sent directly to your email.

2014 Readers' Choice Awards: Best Scotch Whisky

Friday March 14, 2014

The Readers' Choice Awards are in full swing and there is just one thing left to do, vote. The finalists were those that received the most nominations and this is your opportunity to choose your favorite among them.  Voting will continue through March 23rd. This week I will be highlighting each of the categories and give you a short profile of each of the finalists.

2014 About.com Readers' Choice Awards

Last up are the fine options for best Scotch...

  • Ardberg Uigeadail Scotch Whisky - Pronounced 'Oog-a-dal,' this bottling from Ardberg is one of the favorites of their Islay single malt collection. It has Ardberg's signature, deep smoke profile mixed with the raisin notes of sherry casks and is not chill-filtered, leaving the maximum amount of flavor.
    Visit their website
  • Chivas Regal Blended Scotch Whisky - These blended whiskies from the town of Aberdeen, Scotland are bold and rich. There are three expressions produced by Chivas, the common Chivas 12, Chivas 18 Gold Signature, and Chival 25 Original.
    Visit their website
    Review of Chivas Regal 18 Year Old Scotch Whisky...
  • Colkegan Single Malt Whiskey - From Santa Fe Spirits and produced in New Mexico, this cannot technically be called 'Scotch' whisky, yet as other non-Scottish distillers are doing, this follows in the traditions of Scotch. The peat-smoked malted barley is distilled then aged in various casks at a higher altitude than can be found in Scotland. The result is a unique whiskey with apparent homage to the traditional Scotch and it is becoming quite popular among those who have discovered it and Santa Fe's Silver Coyote Pure Malt Whiskey.
    Visit their website
  • Johnnie Walker Blended Scotch Whisky - The other blended whisky in the finals, Johnnie Walker is known for designating their bottlings by the color of their label and as we progress through the rainbow of labels, the price and quality rises. The core range (in order) includes Red, Black, Green, Gold, and Blue and they also produce Swing and Double Black.
    Visit their website
    Johnnie Walker Black Label Scotch Whisky review...

Update: Voting is now closed and results will be published the first week of April. Visit the 2014 Readers' Choice Awards page for details and results.

Suggested Reading:

Would you like to receive cocktail tips and recipes every week? Sign up for the free cocktail newsletter and recipe of the week here and get the latest edition sent directly to your email.

2014 Readers' Choice Awards: Best Rye Whiskey

Thursday March 13, 2014

The Readers' Choice Awards are in full swing and there is just one thing left to do, vote. The finalists were those that received the most nominations and this is your opportunity to choose your favorite among them.  Voting will continue through March 23rd. This week I will be highlighting each of the categories and give you a short profile of each of the finalists.

2014 About.com Readers' Choice Awards

Now, let's take a look at the best rye whiskies...

  • Bulleit Rye Frontier Whiskey - Bulleit is known for their high-rye bourbon and it would only be natural for the distillery to produce a straight rye whiskey. This small batch rye was released in 2011 and uses a 95% rye mash with malted barley, producing a smooth, complex whiskey with the distinguishing rye notes.
    Visit their website
  • George Dickel Rye Whiskey - From the other Tennessee whiskey distillery, George Dickel Rye is a spicy, smoky whiskey that is also produced from 95% rye, 5% malted barley. The charcoal filtering used in its Tennessee whiskey is also employed here, giving it a unique finish from other ryes.
    Visit their website
  • Redemption Rye Whiskey - This rye also uses 95% rye and is barreled for at least 2 years in new charred oak and is produced by Lawrenceburg Distillers in Indiana. It is a a perfectly clean rye whiskey that is great on its own or in any cocktail. Redemption also makes a High-Rye Bourbon.
    Visit their website
  • Templeton Rye Small Batch Whiskey - Templeton is a small distillery in Iowa that has revived their Prohibition-era recipe for rye whiskey. Templeton uses a high rye content of 90%, distills the whiskey twice in a short column, then in a pot still. It is finished in charred American oak barrels for at least 4 years.
    Visit their website
  • Whistle Pig Straight Rye Whiskey - This is a 100% rye is produced in Canada then bottled in Vermont at 100 proof after spending a minimum of 10 years in new American oak barrels. Whistle Pig's 100/100 bottling is joined by the Triple One, which is 111 proof and aged 11 years.
    Visit their website
    Whistle Pig review...

Update: Voting is now closed and results will be published the first week of April. Visit the 2014 Readers' Choice Awards page for details and results.

Suggested Reading:

Would you like to receive cocktail tips and recipes every week? Sign up for the free cocktail newsletter and recipe of the week here and get the latest edition sent directly to your email.

Sweet Cocktail Contest Winner: Babycakes

Thursday March 13, 2014

Babycakes is a sweet little drink and exactly what I was hoping for with last month's Sweet Cocktail Contest. The cocktail is the creation of Amber D. Peterson (twitter: BarChefAmber), a native Midwesterner now in New Orleans working, among other things, as Corporate Bar Chef for Dickie Brennan's Steakhouse where you may have noticed this drink on the menu during this year's Mardi Gras festivities. In the past couple of months I have fallen for Peterson's drinks - last month she shared the Winter Still - and you can tell that her 20+ years in the food and beverage industry have culminated into a very fun, well-balanced style.

Babycakes Cocktail

On to the cocktail... The Babycakes is a liquid cake with just the right amount of sweetness and is creamy, but not too creamy. It's one that I think will appeal to many people. It begins with a mix of Crop Organic Meyer Lemon Vodka and Old New Orleans Crystal Rum. Add to that milk, cinnamon-vanilla then orgeat syrups, a dash of bitters and you have a lemony-cake with a hint of spice. In Mardi Gras fashion, Peterson garnishes this with King Cake-colored sugars, though you could switch out the colors to fit any occasion. All said and done, you have a fantastic cocktail and one worthy of winning top honors. Get the recipe...

Congratulations, Amber! Thank you for sharing.

Read More...

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