Altering Cocktails

I came across a very old drink called “the Chancellor” when browsing about the interwebs. I like all the ingredients separately, so obviously, they would go well together, right?

Well, not so much. I didn’t find it to be particularly well balanced – all three ingredients stood out individually and not in a very good way.  It was harsh and unforgiving, and I wasn’t inclined to take a second sip.

At this point, you have two options.  First, you can dump the cocktail – and I’ve had a few that I’ve just poured out.  Second, you can try to rescue it.  In this case, I added a measure of simple syrup to try and round out the flavours – sometimes you have to add a bit to compensate for the variations in the spirits you’re using.  In this case, I’m guessing my port wasn’t as sweet as some, and so didn’t have the profile needed to try and bring harmony to the drink. I also added a dash of chocolate bitters – not so much for the flavours, but I thought the chocolate aroma would help bring out the port.  This brought the cocktail together and allowed the smokiness from the blended scotch to play well with the port and the vermouth helped to balance the sweetness, instead of all three competing with each other. 

Day 30 – Navy Grog

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  • 1 oz demerara rum
  • 1 oz black rum
  • 1 oz light Puerto Rican rum
  • 3/4 oz lime juice
  • 3/4 oz grapefruit juice
  • 1 oz honey syrup (2:1 honey to water)
  • splash of club soda

Shake all ingredients except club soda over ice and strain into a crushed ice-filled glass.  Top with club soda.  Garnish with an orange slice and a cherry.

Obviously, I needed to do a tiki drink! If only I had a pineapple to serve it in, like the Polynesian resort.  This cocktail is one of the three cocktails responsible for the revival of the tiki movement, but is much less well-known than the Zombie or the Mai Tai these days.  Most people think of tiki drinks of being very sweet concoctions, mostly filled with pineapple and orange juices.  Truthfully, true tiki drinks bear little resemblance to these pre-made fabrications.  They’re not easy to make at home, since most of them call for multiple types of rum and an awful lot of fresh squeezed juices.  However, the ultimate result is a smooth drink that is undeniably tropical, with a sweet backbone from the rums and an acidic freshness from the juices.

Day 29 – Cinderella

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  • 1/2 oz St Germain liqueur
  • 1 oz London Dry gin
  • 2 oz Lillet Blanc
  • 2 oz fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
  • 2 dashes bitters (I used grapefruit, any citrus bitters would be good here)

Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.  Garnish with a grapefruit twist.

This cocktail, inspired by Saveur magazine’s “The French Blonde” instantly reminded me of Cinderella.  The grapefruit provides a bright acidity, but the bitterness that it can have is softened by the St Germain and the Lillet.  I went with a dry style of gin to avoid an overly sweet cocktail; the St Germain and the Lillet can both be fairly sweet and I didn’t want the subtle flavours of the Lillet to be lost.  This is a sophisticated but still light cocktail and would be perfect for all your late night balls.  If you’re short on those, however, it makes for a great party drink or a prelude to appetizers.

Day 28 – O Canada!

Since I made beer cheese soup, I felt I had to do a Canadian themed cocktail

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  • 1 1/2 oz bourbon
  • 1 oz fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 3/4 oz maple syrup
  • 2 sprigs rosemary

Muddle one sprig of rosemary with lemon juice in a shaker.  Add syrup and bourbon and shake with ice.  Strain into cocktail glass and garnish with second rosemary sprig and a lemon wedge.

This is a basic whiskey sour (with rosemary), but I used maple syrup in place of the typical simple syrup.  Combined with the woodsy notes of the rosemary, you get a much more winter-y quality to the cocktail.  The maple flavours enhance the vanilla notes from the bourbon.  If you don’t like brown spirits, this won’t make a believer out of you, but this isn’t as strong as a Manhattan or Old Fashioned.

Day 27 – Long Island Iced Tea

Everyone has seen these on the TGI Friday’s menu…

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  • 1 oz rum (I used a spiced rum, white rum is traditional)
  • 1 oz blanco tequila
  • 1 oz gin
  • 1 oz vodka
  • 1 oz triple sec
  • 1 oz lemon juice
  • Coca-Cola

Fill a collins glass with ice.  Add each of the first 6 ingredients and stir.  Top with coke and garnish with a lemon wedge.

The tequila cave and the wine bar in the Italy Pavilion are huge draws.  I’ve often thought the American Pavilion could do with a craft bar that would make unique cocktails from different regions of the US.  It could be a prohibition themed speakeasy.  The Long Island Iced Tea would probably NOT be a cocktail any one would want to serve there, but no one can deny that it would fit in as a quintessentially American themed drink.  Instead of using a pre-made sour mix, I used lemon juice.  Some people add simple syrup; personally, I think it makes the drink way too sweet when combined with the Coke.  Using fresh lemon juice and the spiced rum brightens up the drink.

Day 26 – Italian Sunset

I think I could live in the Italy Pavilion

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  •  2 oz gin or vodka
  • 1/2 oz Aperol
  • 1/2 oz simple syrup
  • 3 oz tonic water
  • 4 segments mandarin orange

Fill collins glass halfway full of ice and add orange segments.  Shake first three ingredients with ice and strain into glass.  Top with tonic water.

I love the wine bar in the Italy Pavilion in Epcot.  In addition to the huge selection of wines (and really great wine flights), the bar also does a handful of Italian cocktails.  One of my favourite Italian cocktails is the Negroni (gin, Campari, vermouth), but it’s not a cocktail for all tastes.  This cocktail uses the sweeter and less bitter Aperol as an alternative to Campari, while still bringing notes of orange and vanilla.  Some fresh fruit and tonic water make it a lighter and more refreshing cocktail than a Negroni which is typically stirred and served up.  This works well as an introduction to using bittersweet liqueurs without being overwhelming.

Day 25 – The Spice Route

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  • 2 oz infused vodka
  • 1 oz Grand Marnier
  • 1/2 oz key lime juice
  • 2 dashes orange bitters

Shake all the ingredients with ice, strain into a chilled glass, and garnish with a lime peel.

To infuse my vodka, I used saffron, coriander, black peppercorns, cumin, and lemongrass.  I let them steep in my vodka for about an hour, then strained it.

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I knew I wanted to do a cocktail inspired by Animal Kingdom.  This combined both the African and Asian (Indian) elements featured throughout the park.  The final cocktail result is a fairly acidic cocktail from the key limes, but with a lot of savoury notes from the vodka.  The coriander and lemongrass notes come through most predominantly, and the orange from the Grand Marnier smooths out the back palate.  It is certainly a unique cocktail and fit the theme well.