The cocktail program at Trou Normand focuses on Calvados, Armagnac, and Cognac. But that narrow focus doesn't feel like a gimmick here, and their spin on the Old Fashioned is worth braving the crowds.
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There's something about punch that transports us back to the days of Dickens, and this warm milk punch dates back even further. It's a delicious, lighter-tasting alternative to a classic eggnog that doesn't taste as boozy as a hot toddy.
The base spirit in this cocktail is Calvados, distilled from apples in France. Eastern Standard's Kevin Martin cooks up a special spiced syrup to play up those characteristic fruits in the sweet and spicy way we know best as apple pie, but he didn't leave it at that.
A tasty fall cocktail with a cognac base, made with Fernet Branca, maple syrup, and tart apple cider vinegar, plus a sprinkle of cinnamon.
Shots! Shots! Shots! These are often the words that get the party started...and lead to countless bad decisions and lost memories. The trouble is that not all shots are created equal. Some go down as easy as pie while others burn and burn. The Prairie Fire shot is one of those dangerous shots, commonly constructed with cheap tequila enlivened by Tabasco sauce. But despite its fiery reputation, the Prairie Fire can be corralled into a balanced—and delicious—craft cocktail. Here's how.
Cognac. To many, it's the ultimate in brandy. Now, you may ask why? Does it taste better? is it the expense? The time to make it? The grapes? The history? I'd say it's all of those things, and more. But what is cognac? How's it made, and what makes it special?
The original Mudslide was allegedly invented during the 1950s at the Wreck Bar in the Cayman Islands. In its heyday the frozen drink was often made with a mix that came in a plastic bottle. Classy, right? It's time to elevate the Mudslide to the level of respectability and craftsmanship that it deserves.
When we talk about uniquely American drinks, bourbon gets most of the love, but if you really want to drink like a pioneer, you should be sipping applejack. Located on a small Hudson Valley farm in Valatie, New York, Harvest Spirits makes an especially fine rendition of the stuff.
A couple dozen dinners ago I ran out of soy sauce mid-feed and consequently spent the next several days lying awake in bed trying to figure out just what kind of man I think I am.
It's true, slivovitz isn't always easy to love (though the same could be said for the suddenly hip Fernet Branca), and it's hardly a world-class spirit. As one Chowhounder eloquently put it, "it tastes like jet fuel to the uninitiated." But if you haven't tried slivovitz before, I want to make the case that you should. There's a niche in every bar that only punchy, fruity brandies like grappa or slivovitz can fill.
Pisco is having a moment in the States, but to many people, it's still just the stuff of pisco sours and not much else. At New York Peruvian restaurant La Mar Cebicheria, that's not the case at all. Come meet all 13 of their pisco cocktails, from the classic pisco sour to a pisco-based take on the Negroni, in ample portions and dressed in vivid hue.
I am obsessed with Champagne cocktails. So when I hit upon a DIY ingredient that pairs well with sparkling wine, it's time for me to buy bubbly by the case. One Thanksgiving, I happened upon a delicious fizzy cocktail made with sparkling wine, fresh pear syrup, and gin, which launched a new sub-obsession—finding ways to combine pears and Champagne.
I don't like to go out on Saturday nights, because I'm intolerant of 24-year-old teenagers with square-toed shoes and screechy girlfriends, which is to say because I'm too old and miserable to enjoy the company of anyone who isn't. I wish I liked NYE, because it seems unsporting and cliché not to, but in my bitter dotage I find myself unable to get excited for the hassle and the crowds and the tiaras.
What's that? You're sick and tired of plain old nutmeg-scented 'nog? Well, my friends, you've come to the right place, for we've got not one, not two, not even three, but a full dozen ways to upgrade your eggnog with a few simple supermarket staples.
Brandy—a distillate of fruit wine—is a category of spirit that is distilled virtually everywhere on the planet. The source ingredient used in brandy can be any fruit that's grown: pear, plum, apple, grape, apricot, cherry, and more. Today, we'll focus on cocktails based on the brandies of just two fruits: grape and apple. As you'll see, though, these brandies are versatile enough to inspire drinks that are as delicious as they are varied. So tap a barrel of your favorite brandy, and let's get started.
Craig Schoettler is handy with a blowtorch. It's not your typical bartool, but then again, the Aviary—where Schoettler runs the beverage program—is far from your typical bar. Always hunting for new inspiration and raw materials, Schoettler happened to ask the folks at Heaven Hill in Kentucky if the Aviary could have one of the distillery's spent bourbon barrels. They happily obliged, and soon enough Schoettler was devising ways to incorporate the sweet, comforting, campfire aroma locked within the charred, whiskey-seasoned wood into an Aviary cocktail.
Do you not drink a lot of brandy? Well, then, we'll get along great, because neither do I (yet)! In fact, I don't know a single committed brandy drinker outside of a contingent of hardcore Hennessy heads, but that's a whole different, upper-middle shelf matter. For my intents and purposes, brandy is the most underappreciated hard liquor on the market, and we here in apartment 604 have set about to change that.
It's too soon to tell if 2011 will be pisco's year, but expect to see this distinctive South American brandy, produced from several styles of grapes, popping up in new places.
Several years ago, when I first started exploring drink recipes from the early- and mid-20th century, one question kept recurring: exactly what was up back then with all the apricot brandy? It's not an unreasonable question.
Cognac and, increasingly, Armagnac are the longtime regents of brandy. But as I wrote in Sunday's San Francisco Chronicle, a handful of bartenders in the Bay Area and around the country are exploring the flavor potential of a once-stigmatized part of the liquor world: California brandy.