Monthly Archives: June 2011

A New Summer Spritzer

Afternoon delight: First attempt at a Blackberry Brandy Spritzer.

The first day of summer sparked some interesting dialogue around the office. Some conversation on the Hiram Walker Facebook page started up around a recipe featuring the brand’s esteemed Blackberry Brandy, so we were off and running with ideas of our own for a new summer spritzer.

From there, it was off to the races and, as resident office bartender, I started combining Blackberry Brandy with a variety of both sweet, tropical-inspired and acidic juices. We eventually settled on the following formula:

Blackberry Brandy Spritzer:

Our first attempts found us using Simple Syrup in tandem with the lime juice, but that proved to be far too sweet when matched up with the pineapple juice. Continuing to top off the drink with the lemon-lime soda was ideal, as it continued to draw attention to some of the acidic components that were competing with the deep berry-flavored brandy.

A second version found us muddling a few blackberries with the lime juice and it

A second version found us grabbing the muddler to incorporate some more berrylicious flavor.

really helped to balance the flavors a bit more. I may suggest double straining this cocktail after muddling, but I actually found the specks of blackberries in there to be pretty and whimsical.

How would you improve upon this drink? Even if its tendency is to be a fireside sipper during the colder months of the year, I find that Blackberry Brandy does indeed pair well with a variety of fruit juices and it can be an ideal ingredient in a summer beverage.

My next inclination would be to try this with some bubbly, a Prosecco perhaps,  instead of just the soda. Any of your recommendations or suggestions would surely be welcomed!



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Three Ingredient Cocktails

A cool Cherry Libre is a great three-ingredient cocktail for easy making during the warm summer months.

The New York Times recently published a fantastic interactive guide to summer cocktails. What was the theme with this slideshow of mouth-watering tipples? All the cocktails, provided by bartenders from across the country, all contain three or fewer ingredients (visit the web page to see more about their rules and exceptions).

The premise is so simple, and one I have qualified before on this blog – you do not need a lot of ingredients and complex recipes in order to make a great tasting cocktail.

The classic Cuba Libre highball, of which the featured “Italia Libera” cocktail from bartender Chaim Dauermann is based off,  is a recipe made for easy tweaking. For instance, let’s offer up another variant that capitalizes on a great fruit flavor associated with summer, the Cherry Libre.

Cherry Libre

Squeeze lime juice directly into a Collins glass. Drop rind in glass; fill with ice and other ingredients. 

The combination of all natural Kirsch cherries and lime juice offer a tart bite to this cola-filled cocktail. Can’t you just envision yourself drinking one outdoors on a hot summer day?

What’s your favorite class three ingredient cocktail? And what ingredients could/have you swapped, just like the Cherry Libre or Italia Libera, to make it a more original drink?


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National Martini Day

Let’s talk about the martini for a moment now, shall we?

Yes, I’m talking about the martini, otherwise referred to by some of my friends as Christmas in a cocktail glass. The classic definition of a martini is a cocktail that I will order at a bar time and time again. A lot of trial and error has resulted in my finding an ideal martini formula for me, although I’m sure many out there can find reason to argue my ratios –

Gin Martini (SJ’s personal preference)

  • 2 parts Gin
  • 1 part Dry Vermouth
  • Dash Angostura Bitters

But, alas, over time and with an influx of new spirits entering the marketplace, the definition of what makes a martini a “martini” has changed. The term has been attached to nearly any combination of cocktails served up in chilled stemware. While judging by the rainbow-colored appearance of some beverages it isn’t nearly an accurate definition, I’m more than OK with using the term “martini” en masse.

Rather than scoffing those for ordering the berry concoction on their local watering hole’s cocktail menu, I would prefer to use the term “martini” as a way to segway my friends into trying those cocktails found only in those out-of-print cocktil guides us cocktail enthusiasts earnestly covet and study.

I took this same approach on a casual night out recently with a girlfriend of mine; she was looking to learn more about dark spirits and turned to me – and our bartender – as her guide (this particular joint caters to Bourbons).  We started our with a cocktail off their beverage menu, imparting such sweeteners like honey, before stepping away from this category and ordering a Manhattan for our next round. She felt she was able to learn so much more about the spirit from this approach, rather than being dissuaded from starting with such a powerful beverage as a Manhattan.

The thought to end on in this somehow long-winded blog post is that it’s OK for a martini to be diagnosed with multiple-personality disorder. Here’s a suggested recipe I’ll use from the Hiram Walker portfolio that uses gin – not vodka – as the foundation for its martini recipe and then another option to make your way back to that Gin Martini I mentioned at the beginning. A small dosing of fruit flavor complements the profile of the gin and would serve as a great transitional cocktail back to a traditional martini recipe.

Pom Gin Martini

  • 1 part Beefeater Gin
  • 1 part Hiram Walker Pomegranate Schnapps
  • ½ part fresh Lime Juice

Shake over ice and strain into martini glass. Garnish with a lime wheel.

Perhaps next is to try a Gimlet:


  • 1 3/4 part Gin
  • 3/4 part Rose’s Lime Juice

Serve in a cocktail glass with a squeeze of lime.

And then try that Gin Martini again I mentioned up top.

I hope you enjoy this National Martini Day, whatever your martini may be.


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A Martini for the “Coffeehound”

Throw a coffee bean or two on top and you're set for a perfect Espresso Martini!

You’ve just finished eating the special weekend dinner you cooked all day long and now its time to relax with an after dinner cocktail.

Boozehounds and “coffeehounds” alike (or maybe you’re one in the same, like me!) can sit back and savor this enjoyable caffeinated cocktail, the Espresso Martini. I love the addition of chilled espresso to the already prevalent coffee and chocolate liqueurs. The espresso balances about the sweeter liqueur profiles, perhaps even offering slight bitter tones, making the Espresso Martini well rounded to top off a fantastic evening of eating and drinking at home.

Espresso Martini

Shake ingredients well with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a coffee bean on top.

Make sure to check back in tomorrow for one more post as we spearhead our way into National Martini Day on June 19th. I look forward to celebrating with you!


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Friday’s Feature Cocktail – Key Lime Pie Martini

Sorry for the week off folks – I’ve been busy prepping and planning for an upcoming presentation at the NY Bar and Wine Show in just over one week (you can read more about it here).

However, I couldn’t let another Friday pass us by without featuring a great summer cocktail recipe to take us through the weekend.

But wait! There’s more!

With Sunday being one of the best days out of the year, National Martini Day, let’s plan to take in a few posts over the course of the weekend to celebrate the martini and the incalculable number of ways to make your perfect drink.

Although certainly not a martini by definition, I must say that this Key Lime Pie cocktail recipe is one of my guilty pleasure favorites to imbibe in during the summer months (we’re officially underway starting June 21!). The creamy texture, beautiful color and slightly tart flavors imparted in this drink team up together for this cocktail served beautifully up in a martini glass. Make sure to grab one of your larger 6-8 oz. martini glasses – this recipe will keep your glass full for a while when the cream ingredients froth up!

Key Lime Pie martini

Shake well with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lime.


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Friday’s Feature Cocktail – Cinn & Pom Iced Tea

I’m on top of my game! For two weeks in a row I’ve got back-to-back Friday’s Feature Cocktail posts. It also appears that I’ve got back-to-back fabulous Iced Tea recipes. I wish I could say that I had planned for this Iced Tea duo, but fate (and Iced Tea Day) would rather have acted on its own.

A refreshing follow up to last week’s Peach Iced Tea is this crisp Cinn & Pom Iced Tea. Featuring the delicious combination of freshly brewed green tea, pomegranate juice and Hiram Walker’s Original Cinn cinnamon schnapps (direct off earning a Silver Medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition), this drink blends together some of the best flavors of both summer and autumn. Here’s the recipe:

Cinn & Pom Iced Tea

Brew tea a package indicates. Chill tea and build in a Collins glass over ice.

Enjoy this Iced Tea recipe all month long or, conversely, make this drink in a coffee mug and serve warm with your freshly brewed hot tea.


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Send in the Highballs – Rd. II

Looking to shake up your Tall Drink routine? Start with this impressive looking and great tasting Blackberry Twisted recipe.

As a follow up to my post last month,  I return once again to those thirst-quenching tall drinks of summer. While on their own I find some sodas and colas to be sticky-sweet and unappealing, I will most graciously opine in their favor during the refreshing warm weather months. That is, if used well in a cocktail 🙂

An ingredient like Cola is multifaceted this time of year. Here are two tall drink recipes that call for the use of Cola and various Hiram Walker cordials in the instructions; however, the similarities practically end there.


Serve over ice in tall glass, garnish with cherry.

Blackberry Twisted (pictured above) 

  • 2 parts Hiram Walker Blackberry Brandy
  • 1 part Cranberry Juice
  • ½ part Lime Juice
  • 1-2 parts Cola

Pour brandy and juices into ice filled tall glass. Stir and add splash of cola. Garnish & serve.

While unrelated to my post, it just so happens that the Mixoloseum’s Thursday Drink Night theme for this week is Tall Drinks. Unfortunately, I won’t be near a computer that night to watch the action as it happens in the chat room, although I imagine some fantastic drinks will come out of the evening (as per normal!).

I’d love to keep featuring some tall drinks on Cocktail Culture all summer long! So tell me – What’s your favorite tall drink recipe?


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