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    Vegetarian Cocktails

    I love this recent story in the New York Times:

    “It’s the same thing as top-shelf liquor,ˮ said Nick Guffey, 28, a massage therapist with an ink-black shag haircut, referring to drinks like his red-wine-and-poached-pear organic cocktail. “You can drink a ton and not wake up with a hangover.ˮ

    Ellen Pugliese, 24, a publicist friend next to him, agreed. “It’s better than drinking soda or something with syrup,ˮ she said.

    Ayn Teigman, 24, a legal assistant, went further. “I drank my dinner a couple of times. I’m kind of proud of that,ˮ she said, rattling off a few of the fresh ingredients she has used, like pomegranate and strawberries. “And muddled cucumber,ˮ she added. “That’s a vegetable, right?ˮ

    In an era of “naturalˮ cigarettes, trans-fat-free chips and low-carb beer, it is probably no surprise that that last guilty pleasure, the cocktail, is trying to atone for its sins. And it isn’t just vegan restaurants serving more vitamin-rich vodka mixes and slinging vegetable gardens in a glass.

    I love this story because…well, hol’ on…let me check my notes -

    Oh yeah. Alcohol is a POISON. It’s an inefficient and oftentimes delicious poison to be sure, but a poison nonetheless. Trying to make it healthy is akin to add vitamins to a cigarette. And I say this as a huge proponent of the stuff.

    Okay, perhaps I overstate a little. But c’mon, being proud of yourself because you had a cucumber in your drink is a silly rationalization. Because if we follow this logic to its conclusion, one could surmise that martini drinkers are the healthiest of folks out there.

    Now if one wants to drink with quality , or even “ethical” ingredients, that’s a different argument. But please don’t tell me about how you drank your dinner and expect me to applaud your “good healthy choices”.

    Thanks to Jack over at Fork & Bottle

    Tasting Notes: Liquore Strega

    I now have a greater appreciation for the Italian liquor industry. It’s clear by the products available that there’s not only a fair amount of tradition, but a fair amount of stories to go along with the tradition (which, I suppose, is how traditions are created).

    Off the top of my head there’s Amaretto, Nocello, Frangelico, Lemoncello, Campari, Fernet-Branca – that, my friends, is a very decent collection for a bar. As a measure of comparison, the English have gin and…well, you could say they have whiskey, but the Scotch and the Irish would be a little peeved at that.

    Liquore Strega is an 80 proof herbal concoction, with a reputed 70 ingredients. Amongst those ingredients include mint, saffron and fennel. Strega is now the second liquor I’ve found with saffron, with Fernet-Branca being the first.

    The story behind Strega is interesting as well. In 1860, Giuseppe Alberti found monks from Benevento, Campania who made this liquor. Promising to do nothing but good with the recipe, and coaxed the secret recipe from them. At first he sold it as a medical elixer (as many liquors were). Sales were poor. Smart businessman that he was, he decided to sell it as a liquor instead. He renamed it to Liquore Strega, which roughly translates to liquor of the witch. From there, the sales took off.

    Strega is best served alone, either straight up or on the rocks.

    Eyes:Strega is a bright yellow, nearly fluorescent yellow. It is saffron that gives it this color. Swirling the liquor in a glass shows it to be a nearly viscous syrup.

    Nose: Strong, very medicinal.

    Taste: Let it be said that Strega is a very complex drink. It starts sweet from the sugar, but then it becomes very bitter from the herbal components. Not herbal in an Absinthe sense, but more in a robituseen sans-codeine sense. The tail end of drink finishes with a strong liquorice flavor, most likely coming from the fennel.

    Overall: Not my favorite drink, being too herbal in it’s nature. With me being an American, my tastes tend towards the sweeter drinks.

    Technorati Tags: Spirits, Liquore Strega, Review,

    Trump Vodka

    He’s tasteless, transparent and too large of a dose of him can make a person ill.
    I don’t know what other people are saying, but I think Donald Trump is the perfect person to have a vodka named after them.
    Technorati Tags: Vodka, Donald Trump

    We Get Letters v. 27: The Final Whidbey’s Loganberry Liqueur?

    For those who have never tried this drink, this post will mean very little. But Tara and I (as well as several other readers to this site) are quite fond of this liqueur, so I thought it relevant.

    From the comments:

    I just heard that Whidbey’s Loganberry Liqueur is no longer produced.

    Is this true? I now live in Connecticut and Had sent a friend to buy more and send
    it to me. I guest my last bottle was just that.

    Any comments about how to buy more would be greatly appreciated.


    Mike xxxxxx

    I have called Chateau Ste. Michelle to verify if this is true, and they have confirmed that they are ceasing production of this Liqueur. The only way to get more is to stock up on any remaining bottles currently available at your state liquor store. No more orders are being filled, and back stock is probably limited if there is any at all.

    If you live in the Seattle area, Chateau Ste. Michelle’s gift shop still has a few bottles remaining, but you have to pick up the bottles in person.

    Double Drat. This liqueur mixed quite well with dark teas.

    Technorati Tags: Loganberry Liqueur, Chateau Ste. Michelle Liqueur,

    Fernet-Branca Liqueur

    Fernet-Branca is one of those liqueurs that will surprise you at least once. For some people, it surprises them twice.

    The first surprise is the initial taste. As mentioned in this San Francisco Weekly article, “If you can imagine getting punched squarely in the nose while sucking on a mentholated cough drop, you’ll have an idea of Fernet-Branca’s indelicate first impression”.

    Or, as Tara said, “change ‘nose’ to ‘throat’, and they’ve got it right”.

    It’s a unique spirit, to be sure. An Italian liqueur, made in Milano since 1845. The Italians, when they immigrated across the world, they took this drink with them. It’s why the drink is popular in San Francisco, Argentina and many other places throughout the world.

    Much like many cult drinks, it has a vaunted secret recipe. It is reputed to have myrrh, rhubarb, chamomile, cardamom, aloe, and saffron, and a base of grape must. It is rumored to have codeine, mushrooms, fermented beets, coca leaf, gentian, rhubarb, wormwood, zedoary, cinchona, bay leaves, absinthe, orange peel, calumba, echinacea, quinine, ginseng, St. John’s wort, sage, and peppermint oil. Most of these are likely urban legend, there may be some truth in one or two of the aforementioned.

    With the legends surrounding the liqueur, it’s common for some folks to use Fernet-Branca as both a spirit and a medicine.

    My own opinion is that Fernet-Branca is that it’s a very complex and yet also a harsh drink. It has a very strong menthol aroma and taste. There is also a very distinct licorice flavor. Beyond that, it’s hard to pick out any other distinct ingredient.

    It’s also a difficult drink to mix if you don’t know what you’re doing. Fernet-Branca is a bitter drink, which means that sweet beverages are probably the first place you should look for mixers. The best way I’ve found to drink this alcohol is to mix it with a cola. This also happens to be the most popular way to enjoy this spirit in Argentina. I’ve also had success with mixing it with ginger ale and a bit of grenadine.

    All in all, it’s a good drink if you know how to handle it. It’s what I consider to be the antithesis of vodka.

    Technorati Tags: Liquor, Fernet Branca, Tasting Notes

    The Night of Coffee Liqueur

    I had meant for the evening to be a bit of Sicilian Food and rest. Alas, Tara had different plans for me.

    She and I had been going back and forth about Coffee Liqueur for quite some time. She had dismissed the Starbucks brand outright, and I felt that she was dismissing the brand, simply because of the brand name. We’re at that point in our relationship where the discussion of the minutia of coffee liqueurs is high comedy.

    So a taste test was demanded. Chants of “Three coffee liqueur brands enter, one brand leaves” were heard throughout the west Seattle peninsula. Our choices for the battle?

    Kahlua: The coffee liqueur from Mexico that is widely regarded as the best.

    Starbucks: The upstart from our hometown of Seattle, bankrolled by the world’s largest coffee house.

    Monarch: A last minute addition to the challenge, this coffee liquor bills itself as Mexican, with phrases such as ‘licor de café’ and ‘hecho del café en grano mas fino de méxico’ (Which translates to “fact of the fine grain coffee but of Mexico” on babelfish, showing just how effective babelfish can be) peppered on the label.

    In truth? Monarch is made in Hood River, Oregon. *shrug* Go figure.

    The results?

    Kahlua: Starts off sweet, but ends a little musty.

    Starbucks: This starts off harsh and metallic, but ends deep and rich.

    Monarch: Sweet. A little…too sweet. It will be great over ice cream, but not so much in drinks.

    The Winner?

    In the end, Tara preferred the Kahlua and the Monarch and I preferred the Starbucks. So there are no clear winners…aside from the following drink.

    • 1 oz. Starbucks coffee liqueur
    • 1 oz. Irish Cream
    • 1 oz. Butterscotch Schnapps
    • 6 oz. Whole Milk

    Mix and served over ice.

    Technorati Tags: Drink, Coffee Liqueur

    Tasting Notes: Verte Suisse 65 Absinthe


    I mentioned previously that I was going to find a bottle, and lo and behold, look what appears upon my doorstep: A bottle of Jade Verte Suisse 65 Absinthe.

    Ain’t life grand at times?

    I’ll refrain from talking about the legalities and such until a later date. For now, I simply want to explore.

    For the tasting, I prepared the absinthe in the traditional Fin de siècle fashion best described here in this .pdf file created by the wormwood society. My descriptions of the Absinthe will be post louche.

    Eyes: Opaque and yellowish in look with a slight hint of green. If one didn’t know better one might say that it looks like a glass of over made lemonade.

    Nose: This Absinthe makes itself quite known to all around, but not offensively so. The Anise aroma dominates.

    Taste: Remember that this has been sweetened by sugar, so the taste to me comes off like the licorice in the old Good n’ Plenty Candies, but not as strong. In fact, there’s a nice citrusy undercurrent to the absinthe that compliments it quite well. Ir finishes quite nicely and it balances the alcohol very well.

    However, Tara tasted it and said it tasted like a sweetened version of NyQuil, sans codeine and watered down a tad. So your mileage may vary.

    Overall: Overall I enjoyed it quite a bit. I had one glass, as I prefer not to overindulge in my drinks. I was a little tipsy (as it is 130 proof alcohol, watered down), but not out of control. It is a very nice drink and one I would be pleased to partake of again.

    Technorati Tags: Drink, Absinthe, Tasting Notes