Monthly Archives: February 2009

Simple Syrup-or is it?

sugarSimple syrup is just about the extent of my experience with making homemade cocktail ingredients. I completely agree with many cocktail bloggers out there who believe that the addition of homemade ingredients like fresh sour mix, grenadine, orgeat, and tonic water make a quality cocktail truly superior. I’m fortunate to have had the opportunity to sample the spectacular results of others’ hard work at home. For me, however, making cocktail ingredients at home is an issue because:


  1. I’m busy.
  2. If I’m not busy, I’m lazy. 

The one ingredient that’s been “simple” enough for me to whip up at home myself is Simple Syrup. I mean, why would you ever buy a bottle of premade Simple Syrup? That’s about as crazy as buying bottled water…oh wait.


Anyway, embarrassingly enough, it has come to my attention that I might have managed to screw up Simple Syrup. My mother would be proud. How can this be? Well, I’ve always done a 2:1 ratio of sugar to water for my Simple Syrup, but there are a lot of people out there telling me I’m doing it wrong. I figured I’d bring this matter on to the blog and ask everyone’s opinion—what is the right way to make Simple Syrup?


Bobby Flay has said 1:1, and then Natalie, the Liquid Muse, called him out on it. Paul Clarke provides a 2:1 recipe on Cocktail Chronicles, but Stevi Deter of Two at the Most uses a 1:1 simple syrup in her Pisco Sours. Jeffrey Morgenthaler is on the 1:1 side, while Darcy O’Neil of Art of Drink is all about 2:1 simple syrup in his homemade Sour Mix. Stop the madness! Who’s doing it right and who’s doing it wrong? Or could it be it’s just a matter of taste? Please, share your thoughts in the comments!


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Mardi Gras Cocktails

viva-la-franceOk, so I’ve got to be honest. I’ve never really understood the whole Mardi Gras thing. It’s kind of French, it’s kind of Catholic, it’s the day before Lent but it’s total debauchery. Are we just trying to get all the sinning out before Lent starts, or is it just an excuse to party hard on a random Tuesday?


Last summer I visited New Orleans, the famed home of the biggest Mardi Gras celebration in the U.S., for Tales of the Cocktail and fell in love with the birthplace of the American cocktail. Even on a relatively quiet and excruciatingly hot night in July, Bourbon street was alive with jazz, drinks, and (unfortunately, for me) middle-aged folks wearing nothing but body paint—Yikes! I can only imagine how crazy things are in the Crescent City this week, with Mardi Gras celebrations in full swing.


Regardless of its reason for being, I’ve always enjoyed Mardi Gras because it’s the perfect time to be carefree, have fun, and get a taste of the warmer seasons ahead with great spring/summer party cocktails. So un-pack your blenders, pull out your drink umbrellas and swirly straws and fix up a couple of these. I guarantee you they’ll be better than the 7-Eleven Slurpee-esque Hurricanes they sell on Bourbon.


Vive le Mardi Gras! Cheers!


White Peach Paloma


2 oz. Tequila

½ oz. Hiram Walker White Peach Schnapps

2 oz. Fresh Squeezed Grapefruit Juice

2 oz. Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice

1 oz. Simple Syrup


Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously. Strain into a salt-rimmed glass filled with ice. Garnish with a lime corkscrew. Serve blended, if preferred.


Southern Belle


1 ¾ oz. Absinthe

1 ¼ oz. Hiram Walker Pomegranate Schnapps

Splash cranberry juice


Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.


Grapeful Red


1 oz. Hiram Walker Pink Grapefruit Schnapps

¼ oz. Hiram Walker Triple Sec

Dash grenadine


Shake over ice & serve in a chilled shot glass.    

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Oscar Night Libations

red-carpet_whiteOh yeah…I’m that girl. I’m the girl who waits for Awards season all year long. I try to see as many of the nominated films as possible. I have my girlfriends over for cocktails and fancy-schmancy appetizers and we “oooo” and “ahhh” over the glamour of the red carpet. Yep, that’s me.


I’m not ashamed of this fact—quite proud actually and I’m guessing I’m not alone. Yes, I’ve even known a guy or two (straight guys!) who’ve been known to throw an at-home Oscar-viewing party. So if you too are Oscar-crazed, pretentious about film, or just love the fashion, you’ll appreciate these two cocktail recipe ideas for this Sunday.


The Red Carpet:


1 ½ oz. vodka

1 oz. Compari

1 oz. Hiram Walker Pomegranate Schnapps

1 oz. Pomegranate Juice

½ oz. Simple Syrup


Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon slice.


Winslet Cocktail: (it’s really the Starlet Cocktail, but I like this name better)REVOLUTIONARY ROAD


1 oz. Absinthe

1 oz. Orange flavored vodka

1 oz. Hiram Walker Black Raspberry Liqueur

1 oz. champagne


Combine Absinthe, vodka, and black raspberry liqueur in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake thoroughly and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Top with champagne. Garnish with a raspberry.

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Last Minute Valentine

img_4112Last Minute Valentine’s Day Cocktails


You have one day left till Valentine’s Day and still no idea what to get your sweetie?


A fancy gift?


Not on your budget.


Home cooked meal?


You don’t know how to boil water.


Don’t panic. Follow my instructions:


1. Peruse the recipes below and figure out which one (or two, or three) your Valentine would like most. 


2. Make a run to the liquor store if there’s anything here you don’t have in stock at home (heads up for Valentines on a budget—most Hiram Walker products are priced under $15—great deal!).


3.  Impress your Valentine with a well-made, flavorful cocktail and he/she will definetely appreciate the gesture.


Cherry Life Saver Martini:


1 ½ oz. Cherry Vodka

1 oz. Absinthe

1 oz. Hiram Walker Triple Sec

1 oz. Cranberry Juice


Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake thoroughly. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a cherry.


Two Hearts Martini:


2 ½ oz. Vodka

½ oz. Hiram Walker Crème de Cacao

1 tbsp cocoa powder

1 slice orange

1 tsp sugar


Rim a cocktail glass with cocoa powder. Stir together the vodka, sugar, and Hiram Walker Crème de Cacao with ice in a mixing glass. Strain into the prepared glass and garnish with an orange slice.


Honey Bunny:


2 oz. Vodka

1 oz. Hiram Walker Blue Curacao

1 oz. Hiram Walker Peach Schnapps

2 oz. fresh sour mix

½ oz. Pear Cider

½ oz. lemon Juice


Pour all ingredients into a highball glass ¾ filled with ice cubes. Stir well and serve.


Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! Cheers!

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The People’s Peppermint Crush

peppermint_leaf1From time to time, I like to take a look at the analytics for Cocktail Culture. It’s really interesting to me to see where you all are coming from and how you got here. One thing I’ve noticed, of late, is that there are a lot of visitors ending up at Cocktail Culture who are looking for peppermint cocktails. Makes sense—peppermint and winter just seem to go together.

The problem is my site doesn’t feature many peppermint drinks, so I figured I’d better throw one up here before I lose you! I’ve been reading A Mountain of Crushed Ice a lot lately, so I couldn’t help thinking these ingredients would be beautiful with crushed ice. It’s so much better than blending a drink—no brain freeze! So here it is—ye asked and ye shall receive. Don’t say I never gave you anything! Cheers!

The People’s Peppermint Crush:

1 oz. Chocolate Syrup
1 oz. Coconut Cream
1 oz. Heavy Cream
¾ oz. Dark Rum
½ oz. Hiram Walker Peppermint Schnapps

Combine Chocolate Syrup, Coconut Cream, and Heavy Cream in a cocktail shaker with ice. Stir. Add Dark Rum and Hiram Walker Peppermint Schnapps. Shake thoroughly. Strain over crushed ice in a highball glass. Garnish with mint.

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