Smoky Sunset Scotch

Apologies for the lack of posts... we've been doing to much of what's seen in the photo below. That is, enjoying the hell out of sunsets and surroundings, often with food and drink by our sides. We're working on some things, more soon. 

Homemade Bitters: Chocolate and Grapefruit

The makings of a great cocktail: good booze, ice, and not much else. It’s an equation that keeps the Martini going strong.  And it's the reason why “Old Fashioned” is a good thing. The “not much else” is where bitters come into play. Bitters alter the flavor profile of a cocktail in a subtle way, without adding sugar, fruit, or other liquors. There are countless options out there, but making your own is as easy as throwing a bunch of aromatics in a jar of booze and walking away from it for a week or so.  Two staples in our bar: chocolate and grapefruit.

Drink of choice: vanilla bourbon, chocolate bitters, rocks.  The runner up: sub out classic bitters for chocolate in an Old Fashioned

Add to your 8 oz jar:

  • ½ cup cacao nibs (find them in the health food isle)
  • ½ vanilla bean
  • 1 tablespoon gentian root
  • fill to the top with 101 proof bourbon

Keep it in a cool, dark place. Shake it from time to time. Let it sit for at least a week before straining out the solids (a coffee filter works great here). Add ¼ simple syrup to the remaining liquids to bring out the flavor.

Use it with gin, vodka, or add a few drops to your margarita to cut the sweetness.

Add to your jar:

  • Zest of 2 grapefruits and 1 lemon
  • 3/4 cup 100 proof vodka
  • 1/2 tablespoon gentian root
  • Small piece of fresh ginger
  • 2 fresh sage leaves
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds

Keep it in a cool, dark place. Shake it from time to time. Let it sit for at least a week before straining out the solids (a coffee filter works great here). Add ¼ simple syrup to the remaining liquids to bring out the flavor.

The Michelada

As fond as I am of Bloody Marys, I always seem to think a second Bloody Mary is too much--too much food, tomato, and vodka to keep up with. And as fond as I am of beer, sometimes it can be heavy and get warm to fast.  So what to drink? The Michelada. 

Some people would call the Michelada a Bloody Mary with beer. I would not. Like the Bloody it has a thousand variations, from the very simple to the sublime and complicated (with all sort of Bloody Mary-esque ingredients). For me, the simple is better. A glass with ice, lots of lime juice, salt, and a dash of hot sauce. Here it's with Coors Light, but yes, mexican beer would be better. It's how I first had it in central Mexico, and apart from the nostalgia of that, it's clean, very cold, and very crisp. You can drink these things all day. Or at least try. 

From the Mountains: The French 75

With a love of gin and plenty of lemons at the moment, a little research into what to do with these goods lead to the French 75. It's potent, and gets its name from a potent little rapid fire 75 mm gun the French used in WWI. Good background, but we dig this cocktail because it's really refreshing, bright, and yes, strong. 

  • .5 oz Fresh lemon juice
  • .5 oz Simple syrup (one part water, one part sugar)
  • 2 oz Gin
  • 2-3 oz Champagne float.

Shake the first 3 ingredients with ice, and strain into a glass. Float the sparkling wine on top. 

This might be nicer if a martini glass, collins glass, or better yet a coup were used, but we're in the mountains and this little tumbler was the best we could wrestle up. 

Vanilla Bourbon

I'm a fan of whiskey and of that persuasion I'm a fan of scotch whiskey. because of that, sadly, there's been some bourbon that's sat lonely and undranken (undrunk? undrunken?) on our bar. So nicki, the little legend, had the idea to put some vanilla beans in the bottle, let it sit for another week, and drink the result. We no longer have any bourbon sitting on the shelf. You must try it. It's divine. Then tell the Gatsbys of your luxurious drink discovery.

What Youth Drinks: The Old Fashioned

Another article for What Youth, The Old Fashioned. The old fashioned is our standard. The foundation. The bottom turn of cocktails.

Allow us to illustrate: sure, you can drink without knowing the old fashioned, just like you can surf without a proper bottom turn. You just won’t do either very well. You may fumble down the line, powerless slices and banks off the foam, wasting away life with post-lackluster-surf Keystones and Red Bull vodkas. Let’s agree that’s no way to surf, drink or live.

Point being, learn the bottom turn and learn how to make a proper old fashioned. A firm grasp on its technique and an appreciation of its ingredients will set you up for success with other cocktails.

For those who appreciate roots as much as us, it’s called an old fashioned because it’s the old fashioned way of making mixed cocktails. Naturally. Back when, “cocktail” (adding mixers to liquor) was a term for a morning drink. Your alcoholic ancestors only diluted spirits in a hair of the dog, hangover situation. They added some sugar and some water to lessen the strength, help ‘em get over their pounding heads, and get back to that serious drinking. That’s the essence of the old fashioned: a little booze, a little water, a little sugar.

To make it, there are many techniques. Here’s our preferred:

-First, in a glass, dissolve a bit of sugar (or a cube of it) in a few drops of water by stirring (use water, sugar doesn’t dissolve in booze).

-Then stir in 2 oz of rye whisky and a few dashes of bitters.

-Now, smell it. Taste it. Like it? Drink it. Or, from here, ice is totally optional, as is a splash water (we like both in ours). Never club soda, and for God’s sake no orange slices, cherries, or fruit. A twist of orange peel is best. Shave it off with a peeler, then give it a squeeze over the top… that’s called “expressing” the peel.

As a drink, it’s basic enough to not be a full ordeal to make and strong enough to feel like you’re doing the night right. Three ingredients, damn good.—Paul Brewer

Brown Derby Cocktail

This cocktail was named after the famous spot in LA... we love the mix of sweet and sour. This was our first experience of bourbon in a martini glass. What cocktail.  

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2 oz Makers Mark Bourbon
1 oz grapefruit juice
.75 oz honey or honey syrup

Shake with ice, strain into a chilled glass.

La Rosita

Yes, it's pink. But this lil' pink thing... it will level you. 

2 oz. tequila reposado
1/2 oz. campari
1/2 oz. sweet vermouth
1/2 oz dry vermouth

Shake well with ice, strain into a martini glass.

Spicy Tequila (Jalepeno Pineapple Margaritas, this time)

You wanna have yourself a damn fine margi? try this spicy little tequila as the main ingredient. after each sip there's a heat that lingers, and the only way to fix it is to drink more!

Tequila with grilled jalepenos and grilled pineapple.
1. grill pineapple slices and whole jalepenos on a real hot grill. get some good grill marks but don't cook till they're soft.
2. put pineapples, jalepenos, and some reposado tequila in a jar. let it sit for a day or two and it's spicy, and longer if you want it real spicy. You get the idea.

For our margaritas, we stirred together ice, spicy tequila, pure lime juice, and triple sec in a salt-rimmed glass.

For our margaritas, we stirred together ice, spicy tequila, pure lime juice, and triple sec in a salt-rimmed glass.

What Youth Drinks: The Negroni

This drink article was prepared for What Youth, appearing in their book and on their site. The Negroni is a go-to pink drink--enjoy. 

Beyond beer and wine and jungle juice, there are cocktails. Good ones. What makes a good cocktail? It’s bitter and sweet and citrusy and strong and yes, sometimes pink. Like the Negroni.

Orson Welles drank Negronis. He said, “The bitters are excellent for your liver, the gin is bad for you. They balance each other.” We like balance, especially well balanced drinks.

We’ve never drunk drinks because they have clever names or they’re expensive. We like cheap, easy, and easy. But shoot, man: in the winter it gets dark at 5 and we gotta to fill the time somehow. Compared to a can of beer or a bottle of wine, the Negroni take a little more time to make. Like, at least 2 minutes. They should take even longer to drink. Get to it.

The official Negroni is from Italy so you’ll probably find official recipes. We’ve seen incarnations of it—booze + vermouth + bitters—all over the world, so be you, figure out what you like, and try different combos. The only way to find a favorite cocktail is to experiment. But experimenting with alcohol—well, that’s the best experimenting there is.

Shake these with ice:

- Two parts gin

- One part sweet vermouth

- One part Campari. The Campari folks keep the recipe a secret, which we enjoy.

(An added bonus: you can drink these all independently of each other. Value.)

Pour in a glass, any real glass you’ve got. Take a lemon peel, squeeze the hell out of it over the drink, and rub the peel all over the rim. Your cocktail will be citrusy, fragrant, a little bitter but really refreshing. It’s also pink, meaning your friends might make fun of you. But fuck, you’re on it: your drink tastes better and is 13 times stronger than PBR. Show them the light. —Paul Brewer