Gingered and smokin’

A few weeks ago, I received a review bottle of a product that’s been reintroduced to the American market (albeit in a reformulated recipe)–Canton Ginger Liqueur. I love ginger in all sorts of forms: I love the slices you get to clear your palate between bites of sushi; I love ginger beers and ales; and I love ginger as an ingredient in food and cocktails. So I was excited to accept an offer of Canton.

As soon as I got it home, I opened it and poured a dram into a small snifter. Both Paul and Jamie have already written about their bottles, and I find no fault with their tasting notes on the straight liqueur–ginger and honey with a note of vanilla.

Alone, it’s a really pleasant quaff, delightful as an after-dinner sipper. But the big question is, how does it mix? Gotta say, I’m still workin’ on that. The first thing I did was to follow Jamie’s suggestion and mix up a Debonair, using Oban for the scotch. Wow. That Gary Regan knows his shit; the Debonair is a great drink, both smoky and gingery.

Then I started experimenting to create something new. And at this point, I made some dumb mistakes. I won’t say what they were, but if you knew, you’d say, “WTF were you thinking?! Have moths eaten your brain?” Let it suffice to say that it’s pretty easy to bury the Canton’s flavor if it’s up against aggressive ingredients.

Finally, I hit upon a winner, a simple, if somewhat obvious, blend of cognac, Canton, vermouth, and lime.

  • 2 oz. cognac
  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • 3/4 oz. Canton
  • 1/2 oz. dry vermouth

Technique: Shake over ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass.

I’m curious to try a variation of that with rye.


Back to life, plus a note about reviews

My overtime period has ended at the day job, so expect regular posting to return.

I’m blasting back in this week with two product reviews–one is of a liqueur and the other of a fairly new book. I don’t receive review offers often, and I don’t accept everything I am offered, so it’s fair to say that most of the products I review here are items that I myself have purchased, unless I say differently in the review.

In other words, if it’s a freebie, I’ll mention it. But since the vast majority of what I drink, read, etc. is stuff I’ve bought for myself, it seems silly to say so every time I talk about a product.

The liqueur I’m reviewing was sent to me for review, and I’ve mentioned that in my drafted post. The book was something I myself purchased, and in my draft, I haven’t mentioned that fact. I’m saying this now in case anyone wants me to clarify or alter my position before I publish these posts.

MxMo Double X: Pairings

mxmo20-pairingsSo, yeah, the overtime is still kicking my ass. I leave home at 8, I get home 12 hours later, and I don’t feel like much other than the classics–aviation, martini, old fashioned, Manhattan, etc. Not much creativity these days. I do have a pretty bottle of Canton ginger liqueur that I’m playing with (more on that later this week, I hope), but that’s it.

In other circumstances, the lady of Last Night’s Dinner and I would have had great fun planning a pairings menu and then probably cross-blogging it, with her focusing on the food and me on the drink. Aaaaand, we’ll probably do that some time. But not now alas. We had a couple ideas for simple pairings we could put together, but time just ran out.

But then Death stepped in.
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360 Vodka

A couple of months ago, the marketing team for 360 Vodka offered me a sample bottle for review. And although I took them up on the offer, I’m only now finding the time to write anything up. (I can’t tell you how happy I’ll be to put this overtime period behind me, but I still have three weeks to go.)

It must be difficult to market an unflavored vodka. The taste is so subtle that it’s hard to sell it on that front. Additionally, many vodka drinkers are steadfastly brand loyal (although I’m puzzled as to why), so you’re not going to convert them. McCormick Distilling, the creators of 360 have chosen to carve out a “green” niche for themselves, as I’m sure many of you already know from reading earlier reviews.

And it’s apparently not just hype; McCormick uses locally grown grains to cut back on fuel emissions, it bottles and packages the vodka in recycled materials, and it offers a program through which it will donate a buck to environmental organizations for every returned swingtop bottle closure. Thanks to the swingtop, though, I’m probably going to reuse the bottle, so although I think the return program is cool, I won’t be taking advantage of it.

But really now, how does it taste? To judge that, I mixed it up into a martini, with a healthy splash of vermouth. Nice. It won’t knock the gin martini off our Friday-night slate, but it’s worth adding to the mix every now and again. The flavors are clean with a hint of grain; nothing metallic or “off” in the taste or the finish. It makes me enjoy vodka martinis, and that’s saying something.


…I’ve been invited to contribute pieces to How to Do Things, and my first article went live today. I’ve been working on it for a month, alas, and it shows how busy I’ve been that such a relatively simple piece should take a month.

Anyway, my first piece is about buying bar tools. I think next up I’ll probably tackle glassware.

How about a nice rum punch?

For last weekend’s blow-out, I mixed up a loose variation of Padma Lakshmi’s Sweet Lime-Ginger Rum Punch. I know you want to mock me for this, but let me remind you that Padma is hot. See? Hot.

I started the day before the party by taking a couple of plastic containers and filling them with a blend of water and lime juice. I lidded them up and stashed them in the freezer. I then juiced three dozen limes and set the juice aside before cooking up several cups of simple syrup, spiced with grated ginger and cracked cardamom pods. Once the syrup cooled, I double-strained it to remove the solids and then poured the syrup into the lime juice. I refrigerated that overnight.

The day of the party, things were simple. Once our guests began to arrive, I set up the punch bowl with the large ice chunks, poured all of the limey syrup into the bowl, and added three liters of amber rum.

And then people started falling down. Yatta!