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Colleen Graham

Colleen's Cocktails Blog

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Herb Cocktail Contest Winner: Basil B. Bennett

Thursday May 29, 2014

It was a short and sweet contest and three fantastic recipes came in, but only one can be declared the winner of this month's Herb Cocktail Contest. That recipe is the Basil B. Bennett and it comes to us from Mike Manjon from New York City.Basil B. Bennett Cocktail

The drink is one of those simple, four-ingredient gems that has a wonderful balance and a fresh, aromatic snap that is, quite simply, a delight to sip. In it, Manjon mixes a London dry gin, lime juice, Bittermen's Celery Shrub, and a homemade basil syrup. It is the syrup that really sets the drink apart and adds a snappy sweetness that is quite fun. This is a great drink for summer and just one more example of how great basil can be in drinks. Get the recipe...

Thank you and congratulations, Mike!

Though there were only two other recipes submitted, they are both very interesting and I recommend trying each as well...

  • Rita's Wicked Garden - An amplified margarita, this one is very, very herbal. It includes tequila, uses Mandarin Napoleon for the citrus liqueur, and adds cilantro, dill, and basil along with cucumber to the mix.
  • Perennial Spring - Danny Parlin's recipe takes a different approach than the others. This one is a creamy drink with Bols Genever, two herb syrups, egg white, mint, and club soda.

A big thanks to all of you gentlemen, you have made this herb lover a very happy lady!

On a side note, we are going to take a summer break from the cocktail contests. There will be a new round starting up in September, so stay tuned for all the details.

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.

Fruit Cocktail Contest Winner: Frisco 49

Wednesday May 14, 2014

The results of the fruit cocktail contest from April are in and I have a fantastic wine cocktail to share with you.  The winning recipe comes from Brian Chandlor with his Frisco 49 cocktail and it has a couple of homemade ingredients for all of you love a little DIY in the bar.Frisco 49 Cocktail

The Frisco 49 begins with a pear-infused gin that uses two varieties and for which Chandlor recommends Citadelle and gins that are not too dry. He then makes up a roasted honey peach syrup with hints of cinnamon and mixes both of these with lemon and dry sparkling wine. When complete, the cocktail is amazing. It has a great balance of flavor and the sweet and dry elements are perfectly in tune with one another. Get the recipe...

Thank you, Brandon and congratulations! (contact me if you wish)

Read More...

Happy World Cocktail Day!

Tuesday May 13, 2014

May 13th is a special day for those who enjoy a great drink because it is World Cocktail Day and it is not just some date that some random person declared a 'holiday' either.  No, this one serves a purpose, to celebrate the first printing of the term cocktail in the 1806 edition of The Balance and Columbian Repository and, beyond that, all of the great cocktails that have been created since.Dirty Martini

So, how does one celebrate World Cocktail Day? With a great drink, of course, and there are many to choose from. Personally, I like to go back to the classics to pay homage to those pioneers of our craft and gave us some of the drinks that are simply timeless and even better than the originals given our modern selection of ingredients. Here are a few cocktail collections where you will find the perfect drink for your celebration...

Also, you may be interested in attending the Manhattan Cocktail Classic which begins on the 17th this year.

Read more about the history of the cocktail...

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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...

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).

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 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.

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...

2014 Readers' Choice Awards: Best Irish Whiskey

Wednesday March 12, 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

Next up under whiskey are the Irish whiskey finalist...

  • Bushmills Black Bush Irish Whiskey - Recently renamed to Black Bush, this Irish whiskey from Bushmills is a favorite for many. It is triple distilled and most of the whiskey is aged in Spanish sherry casks, giving it a rich fruit and nut profile.
    Visit their website
    Bushmills Irish Whiskey review...
  • The Irishman Single Malt Irish Whiskey - One of the few single malt Irish whiskies, The Irishman is a triple-distilled whiskey aged in both bourbon oak and Oloroso sherry casks and is produced in small batches. It is a very fine whiskey and a tasting experience if you have never had an Irish single malt.
    Visit their website
  • Midleton Very Rare Irish Whiskey - An exceptional Irish whiskey that is very rare, but worth every dollar. It is produced at the Midleton distillery in very small batches which are typically released annually. This blended Irish whiskey has many complicated notes including dark spices and soft florals.
  • Redbreast 12 YO Irish Whiskey - Also produced at Midleton, Redbreast is a single pot still Irish whiskey that is a favorite for many drinkers. The 12 YO has a harmony of spice, cream, and fruit and also has a Cask Strength counterpart that has not been diluted, but is at a full 115 proof. Redbreast also produces a 15 YO.
    Visit their website
  • Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey - Tullamore Dew is a blend of grain and Irish malt whiskies that are triple distilled in pot stilled and aged in charred oak. Expressions of the portfolio include Original, 10 Year Old Single Malt, 10 Year Old Special Reserve, and 12 Year Old Special Reserve.
    Visit their website
    Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey 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.

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