Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Amsterdam & Presidente

As mentioned yesterday, I was in Amsterdam over the last few days with some friends.

What a great city.  The big take-away from Amsterdam is just how quiet it is at all times of the day.  You can walk down the street at the height of their rush hour (whenever that is), and it's quieter than a cul-de-sac in the American 'burbs.

A lot of it has to do with the bikes.  Bikes run Amsterdam. 

We walked out of the Central Station, and there was a bike landing that must have held 5,000 bikes for the commuters who had taken the trains.  In the city itself, everything and everyone yeilds to the bicycles.  Foot trafiic beware, they are not stopping!

Of course though, most people think of debauchery when thinking of Amsterdam.  Coffeeshops selling pot, the Red Light District selling sex, etc.  Once you're there, the coffeeshops, the Red Light District, they blend in with everything else.  You could easily find an elementary school next door to a coffeeshop. 

The emphasis on, for lack of a better description, the wrongness of vice, doesn't seem to exist in Amsterdam.  With respect to marijuana, most people mistakenly believe that Holland is just a free flowing place, where pot and sex, and whatever else you want to do is all fair game.  I suppose that may be partially correct insofar as the attitude of the general populace is concerned, but the main reason for the existance of the coffeeshops is something else entirely. 

The coffeeshops allow Holland to keep soft drugs like marijuana and hard drugs like herion apart, while other countries like the United States and England struggle with increased addiction rates on hard drugs as a result of their close proximity.

Amsterdam is a unique city, and their coffeeshops, while the most well known aspect of the city, are perhaps the least interesting.  The canals trump the coffeeshops.  Along with the bikes, the canal system rules the land.  I knew it was a water city, but had no idea just how inescapable the canal system truly was.  They're gorgeous too.  Every street you walk along, you cross bridge after bridge, canal after canal.  It's stunning.

I took many photos while I was there, most of which include pictures of my friends.  I'll spare you their mugs, and instead show you a few of the photos I took at night.  The city is really beautiful at all hours of the day, but Amsterdam is especially beautiful in the eveing.

Along Raadhuisstraat, on the way to Dam Square

Along Raadhuisstraat, looking north

Zuiderkerk, view from the west

The famed Red Light District, looking north

View of Westerkerk, from the east

View of Westerkerk from the south

Westerkerk, from the south

Alright, enough about Amsterdam, let's check out the Presidente!

Upon researching the drink, it appears as though the Presidente may be the red headed step-child of what I'm calling "the Presidente family of drinks."

If you search "Presidente" and the word "cocktail", invariably you end up with El Presidente cocktail recipes.  They are similar drinks too, the Presidente and the El Presidente.  The El Presidente adds a small amount of triple sec and lemon juice to the mix that the Presidente leaves behind.

Their origins are likely similar.  According to one nice write-up: "El Presidente was created by Eddie Woelke, an American bartender at the Jockey Club in Havana. He shrewdly named the drink in honor of President Gerardo Machado, who ruled Cuba throughout most of the Prohibition years. Basil Woon, author of When It's Cocktail Time in Cuba, wrote in 1928 of El Presidente, "It is the aristocrat of cocktails and is the one preferred by the better class of Cuban.""

Sounds like it should be good - let's check it out.  Here is the finished product:

American Bar, page 158

Presidente (original version)

1/4 oz dry vermouth
3/4 oz sweet vermouth
1 1/2 oz white rum
dash grenadine
stemmed cherry

Stir over ice cubes in a mixing glass, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, garnish with cherry.

I hate to say it, but I'm not in love with this drink.  It's entirely too sweet for my tastes, and not merely sweet, but syrupy.  3/4 oz sweet vermouth is just too much to take, and there isn't enough to counter its intense sweetness.  Throw in the dash of grenadine, and even the stemmed cherry, and the Presidente quickly devolves into the drink equivalent of Kool Aid mixed with half the prescribed water.

I'm surprised by the lackluster result.  Presidente cocktails, whichever particular variety you choose, are classics.  I suppose though, that if we've learned anything with some of these cocktails, not all classics are good (see the Jack Rose).

Tomorrow, we'll making the first of my reader submitted cocktail ideas.  Until then, cheers!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Week of March 28, 2010

Hello my friends!  Yes, I've been out of late - just returning back from Amsterdam.  Unfortunately, between all the things to see and do over there, I did not have an opportunity for a remote Amateur Mixologist drink post.  It would have been ideal though, perhaps an absinthe or jenever based cocktail.  Next time.

I got back home around 6:30pm yesterday evening, and I'm still pulling the cobwebs out of my head from the travel.  No matter, we're going to be drinking this week, this I know for sure!  However it remains to be seen what exactly we'll be drinking.

We will more certainly be drinking the Presidente, a remnant from last week which due to the travel, we never got around to drinking.  But what else?

I leave that to you - and our trusty suggestion box (read: e-mail, amateurmixologist (at)  Send your suggestions. Let me know of something interesting that you and your friends love drinking.  I'll pick a couple and run with them.

Amsterdam is beautiful, but it's always nice to return home.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


The Sazerac has been on the rise of late, along with the other pre-Prohibition era cocktails.  Thing is though, the Sazerac pre-dates many of its neighbors on the various menus in which is it listed.  In one write-up, the Sazerac is the first cocktail made in the US. 

Is the one we're making the same as the Sazerac's made pre-Civil War?  Definitely not.

According to most legends, the original Sazerac was so-named after a particular type of brandy of the same moniker.  Now, Sazerac's are made with rye whiskey, a far cry from brandy.

Also, at one time the drink featured absinthe, the liquor that purportedly caused hallucinations due to the wormwood used in the production of the alcohol.  Now, in absinthe's place is Pernod, a liquor with strong anise or licorice flavors. 

So what has remained from the original recipe?  Bitters.  That's it.

But one can even say that the bitters have changed, most significantly though, the bitters purpose has changed.  Bitters, and a lot of alcohol too, was consumed for its medicinal qualities, as opposed to being consumed for mere pleasure.  No one these days consumes bitters to settle a stomach (no one I know, that is).

I'm excited about making the Sazerac.  I like traditional cocktails, and I'm pretty certain I'm going to dig this drink.

Let's do this!

Here's what the finished product looks like:


American Bar, page 173

1 sugar cube
dashes Angostura bitters
1 1/2 oz rye whiskey
1/4 oz Pernod
water or soda

Place Angostura-saturated sugar cube into an old-fashioned glass, crush with a barspoon, add liquors, mix well, fill with water.

Some interesting parts to this recipe:

1.  No ice.  On balance, I think I can say that I prefer a cooler than room temperature drink.  I like my scotch to mellow with one small ice cube before sipping.  No ice here though.

2.  No water or soda.  As you may recall from the Old Fashioned recipe, sometimes additional water or soda dilutes what is otherwise a perfectly good drink.  Based on that experience, I can tell you in advance that I'm not filling this drink with water.  Well, not initially anyway.

3.  Pernod, as mentioned above, is an anise flavored liquor.  When you hear that something has an anise flavor profiled, just think of black licorice jelly beans.  Now, random fun fact - black jelly beans happen to be my favorite candy.  I know black licorice jelly beans are grotesque to 95% of people out there - but what can I say - I loved them growing up!  I could crush a bag of them in a sitting.  Love 'em!  Though I've never had Pernod, the smell from the bottle was enticing.  This is going to be a drink in my proverbial wheelhouse, I just know it!

This is a picture of the bitters mixing with the sugar:

I love this drink.  I love it.  This drink is definitely not for everyone.  In fact, just as most people hate black licorice jelly beans, they will likely also hate this drink for the same reasons.  The licorice flavor is strong, even with only a 1/4 oz of Pernod thrown in the mix.  Similar flavors can be found in the bitters too. 

I dig it though.  This is a robust cocktail, and not for the faint of heart.  If you like heavy-peat scotch, you might dig the sazerac.  But, if you dislike licorice , this may be one to avoid.  The rye plays second fiddle here, so don't be fooled into thinking you're going to taste some excellent whiskey notes.  I certainly didn't.

And I don't know why you'd add club soda or water.  Don't.  The flavors, while strong, are probably divisive, and by that I mean, you're either going to like the drink or not - water isn't going to help you like it. 

The Sazerac is dynamite, and arguably my favorite drink that I've made on here to date.  We have a serious winner on our hands, a serious winner.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


First things first: put down the American Bar book, and The Ultimate Bar Book.  You're not going to find the BUMBO! cocktail in either one.  And, incidentally, if you haven't figured it out by now, I am responsible for adding the obnoxious capitalization and exclamation mark.  Listen, it's called BUMBO!, and you've just got to be excited when writing or talking about it!  I sure am, anyway.

You're probably wondering where I found this drink, and I don't blame you.  If it's not in either of the books, it isn't randomly chosen.  You sir, are correct.  No big deal, going off-script can be a rewarding experience.  Road less traveled and all that jazz.  Now, whether the road less traveled is a good thing remains to be seen.

Let's check this bad boy out!


Bumbo, found here:

2 fl oz (50 ml) dark rum
1 fl oz (30 ml) lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon grenadine
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (grated)

I'll abbreviate the website's directions and simply tell you to throw it all in a shaker with some ice and go to town.  Done and done.

I'm breaking out my Captain Morgan's bottle that probably pre-dates any other bottle I have, strictly because of low turnover.  Just like the Bacardi rum bottle, this has sat in my supply for ages.  Rum is not on my short list, dark rum or clear rum.  As mentioned though in Pedro Collins and the Daiquiri, I'm beginning to appreciate it more and more.  Captain Morgan's was always the rum part of a rum and coke order, and I guess I always found it a little sweet, a little syrupy.  It wasn't bad mind you, but not my first choice cocktail order.  Or my second, or tenth.  I never ordered it is what I'm saying.

So, my verdict on the BUMBO!?  I'm pretty meh about this one.  The BUMBO! seemed like it might be island friendly, and delicious (I mean, take a look at the photos on the website from which the recipe came - gorgeous!) - but - I'm not digging it all that much.  Maybe it tastes a bit different with a beautiful beach laid out before me, but it doesn't really work for me. 

The lemon juice is just too much.  It's a little too tart and a little too fruity.  The nutmeg, albeit not freshly grated, doesn't add much of anything to the cocktail.  Every now and then I'll snag a bit of nutmeg in a sip, and it doesn't do much.  Again, it isn't freshly grated, but I don't know how much a difference even freshly grated nutmeg would give to this drink.

As I finished the cocktail, I think that in a hotter climate, this drink makes a lot more sense.  The tart qualities of the drink probably go over far better on a beach than in indoor midwest suburbia.  And, I was able to finish it without cringing too much.  So, I suppose that my feelings have changed a bit since I first started typing this post.  It's not something I'd make at home, but if I were in the Caribbean, and saw it on the menu, I might order just to get a laugh out of the ridiculous name. 

BUMBO!  Caribbean or bust (though in the midwest, bust).

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Week of March 21, 2010

What a weekend...

Barca, the Official Mascot of The Amateur Mixologist, was, ahem, fixed on Friday.  As a result, she's been laid up a bit, walking around like a zombie because of the medication she's having to take.  All things considered though, I'm happy to report that she's doing great.  Late in the evening, as the medication fades from her system, Barca's personality comes back in full force, looking to play with any animate (or inanimate) object nearby.

Last night, JB (her chosen pseudonym for the website) and I attended a fundraiser for Cancer Support Community.  JB's company had sponsored a table. 

It was a fun evening - highlighted by the stand-up performance of Joan Rivers, the now mid-70s comedienne.  She was, as her website attests performing "uncensored, uninhibited standup comedy".  It was very funny.  After the event, I drank scotch with my buddies.

Tonight, we're attending a dinner to raise money for Gabe Jordan - the Indianapolis wine and restaurant industry fixture.  I imagine we're going to be eating well tonight.

So this weekend has, and continues to be, a good one.  I'm hoping the week is similarly as good.

Here's what we're drinking!

First, there are a couple of drinks carried over from last week, the sazerac and the BUMBO!  Due to some travel later in the week, we're adding only one other drink...and it is....

The Presidente!!  Never heard of it.  It's a white rum based drink, with both dry and sweet vermouth and a little grenadine.  Should be excellent!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Drink Links

Today's Drink Link is to The Atlantic magazine online, and a great article my friend Matt showed to me about supersized cocktails and their decline in modern culture.

My favorite quote of the article involves a drink called the "Corpse Reviver":

He told me he’s intrigued by recipes for even smaller drinks, such as the original Corpse Reviver, consisting of brandy, apple brandy, and dry vermouth—“something very small, with a big burst of flavor, like a little pick-me-up,” he said. Such drinks were originally created as bracers with which to greet the dawn, and Day hopes to add others to his menu.

What a great line: "Such drinks were originally created as bracers with which to greet the dawn..."

It's great to read about old drinks.  So many of them were consumed for a purpose, as opposed to just the pleasure of drinking.

You can read the full article here:

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


[Update:  I forgot to wish everyone a Happy St. Patrick's Day! Be safe out there, and enjoy the festivities.  If you need a drink, try an Irish Coffee!]

The Gimlet is a classic cocktail, though there appear to be a thousand different variations on the recipe. As you'll see below, American Bar calls for a combination of nearly equal parts gin and Rose's lime juice. Other recipes call for 4 parts gin to 1 part lime juice. These quantities appear to be the outer boundaries of the gin-to-lime-juice-combinations for this drink.

Even the lime juice to be used isn't uniform. Some recipes call for real lime juice with simple syrup (kind of a Rose's lime juice combination all its own), others call for fresh squeezed lime juice, and of course Rose's lime juice appears all the time in Gimlet recipes.

The Gimlet is another example of the multitude of ways of making old, traditional cocktails. Short of a basic dry martini, it seems as though every bartender has thrown a twist upon these classic drinks, yet these bartenders keep calling the cocktails by their original namesake. 

Bartender Johnny makes his Gimlet with equal parts gin and lime juice, and then throws in a dill pickle as a garnish.  Johnny may be an idiot with the pickle garnish, but who cares?  Shouldn't he be afforded some leeway - particularly if people are enjoying his variation?  I see nothing wrong with that. On the other hand, there are purists who believe there is only way to make a drink.

I'm all for tradition, don't get me wrong. Though if among the traditionalists, even they can't get their recipes to look the same, I think it's fair for a little variation here and there. Purists shouldn't have the last word, particularly when drinks are meant to be enjoyed - they are a form a pleasure after all (though the Jack Rose is evidence that cocktails can be an effective form of torture).

Here is the finished product - the Gimlet cocktail:

And here is how we get there:

American Bar, page 105

2 oz gin
1 3/4 oz Rose's lime juice

Stire well over ice cubes in a mixing glass, strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

For the Gimlet, I used Bombay Sapphire.  I'm a big fan of the ol' B.S. (err, wait, that doesn't sound as appealing...strike that)...the ol' Sapphire, having used it in the Classic Martini recipe.

I've had Gimlets before, but it's been a long time.  They're good.  The one I made was tasty, but, I must admit that I have an aversion to large quantities of Rose's lime juice, as I would argue this recipe contains a little too much of the lime juice.  Perhaps it's all the SoCo-and-lime shots I had in college, but Rose's is a little syrupy for my tastes.  If I were to make another Gimlet, off-recipe, I'd likely go with less Rose's, so as to make the gin flavors that much more prominant.  Gimlets are really easy to whip together, and when trying this at home, just use more or less lime juice to taste.

Gimlets, along with martinis, were likely at one time the equivalent of our simple 2-ingredient combinations of today.  Whereas now, we drink gin and tonics, Jack and cokes, vodka and Red Bulls - at one time, drinkers consumed gin and vermouth, or in the case of the Gimlet, gin and Rose's lime juice. 

Perhaps next time you're thinking of throwing back another G&T, go with the G'n'R instead - you'll feel like you're going old school, and it will taste just as good.  And yes, that's right folks, I somehow aligned the Gimlet cocktail with Guns N' Roses.  Thank you, thank you, I'll be here all week.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Caipirinhas are popular.  

I've noticed the drink's visibility has increased substantially over the last few years.  The drink has been featured in magazine spreads with recipes and prominent listings on cocktail menus.  Also, there has been a greater availability of cachaça in liquor stores as the drink climbs the proverbial cocktail charts.   All of these things occurring in short order.

I first had a Caipirinha in a Spanish restaurant, if you can believe it (the drink is of Brazilian origin).  In a review of the place, the writer noted how good their cocktails were, the Caipirinha with particularity.  So I tried one.  It was excellent.  It was refreshing, easy to drink, and the remnants of the sugar and lime were a nice finish.

A while back, I decided I'd try making them at home.  I don't remember whether I liked them or not, but I didn't make them again.  It's likely that I just forgot about the cachaça bottle - having sat behind handles of other liquors, which blocked my view.

I'm excited to try it again.  And, I got a muddler - a device used, in this recipe anyway, to mash the lime and sugar together in the bottom of the glass.  I have no idea what I had used before purchasing this muddler, but I doubt it was as effective.  

[Added bonus: the 2nd appearance of Al Harrington, The South Pacific Man, first featured in the Old Fashioned]

To the drink!

American Bar, page 67

2oz cachaça
1-2 barspoons sugar (or sugar cubes)

Place lime wedge and sugar into a small highball glass, press well with a pestle, pour in cachaça, stir. Fill with crushed ice and stir.

Al Harrington, The South Pacific Man, limes, and the muddler

Al Harrington overseas the mingling of sugar and lime

A homemade Caipirinha is totally different than any version I've ordered at a bar.  It's noticeably stronger, and less watered down.  The cachaça has a fiery tinge to it; it's warming.  I almost can't get over how different his drink is compared to a bar version.  The cachaça is a little harsh at first, though perhaps that is due to the quality of the bottle that I have (it's probably low-to-mid range cachaça - think something along the equivalent of Jim Beam bourbon).  It almost goes without saying, but, this is a very similar drink to a mojito.  It's clean, refreshing, and one of them is rarely enough.

I planned to take a photo of the drink itself, but it only filled up about 1/2 the glass, or maybe even less.  As a result, I just went ahead and started sipping.  Before I knew it though, the glass was empty, and I was sipping the lime and sugar combo at the bottom of the glass.  Time flies, right?  

The good news is that I had cut enough lime slices for a second drink, and honestly what gets you about these Caipirinha's is the sweet lime juice at the bottom of the glass from the residual sugar and lime.  It's the reason you keep going back!!  It's the reason I went back anyway.

So, as a result of making this second drink, I was able to take a photo of the glass.

And now, two drinks in, this Caipirinha is simply fantastic!  Whatever harshness I first felt with the cachaça is now mellow - though it is likely that some sugar was still in the glass from the first drink.  In fact, now that I'm staring at the bottom of the glass (I told you it was good!), I can see a bunch of sugar slowly cascading down the bottom of the glass as I sip away at the sugared lime juice.  Phew, another dangerous drink.

Big fan of this one.  I think it's a go-to choice in the summer.  You can adjust the amount of cachaça accordingly for the audience.  Some of the ladies may prefer a splash of distilled water to cut down some of the harsher qualities of cachaça at the get-go.  Another option is a splash of club soda, which may add another refreshing element to the drink.

The recipe above, however, is all you need for a quality cocktail.  As they say in Brazil, the the Caipirinha is a vencedor that means "winner" in Portuguese (who knew you'd learn foreign languages here?!).  

Monday, March 15, 2010

Week of March 14, 2010

"Hi AmMix - I noticed that you are using The Ultimate Bar Book a lot.  Are you going to use the American Bar book at all?"

Good question, sent in by a loyal reader (hi Mom!*).

Yes!  I am.  I swear.  I haven't forgotten about American Bar, the beautifully bound and streamlined cocktail book that of late has gotten short shrift here at the Amateur Mixologist.

Fear not though, all of this week's drinks will be created from American Bar recipes.

So what we will be drinking this week (the photos below are taken from only the finest internet resources)?

"Hi AmMix - I noticed that you are using The Ultimate Bar Book a lot.  Are you going to use the American Bar book at all?"

Good question, sent in by a loyal reader (hi Mom!*).

Yes!  I am.  I swear.  I haven't forgotten about American Bar, the beautifully bound and streamlined cocktail book that of late has gotten short shrift here at the Amateur Mixologist.

Fear not though, all of this week's drinks will be created from American Bar recipes.

So what we will be drinking this week (the photos below are taken from only the finest internet resources)?

Caipirinha - a cachaça based drink

Sazerac - Rye whiskey based, and one of the oldest known cocktails (I'm particularly excited about this one).

Gimlet - gin based, another classic

and finally...

Bumbo - rum based, and perhaps with the greatest named drink to be made thus far.  And check out this photo!!  I hope this means I go on a vacation immediately upon making the drink - one can only hope.

I'm excited about all of them.  Some of the drinks I have tried in the past - the gimlet and caipirinha in particular, but others - like the BUMBO (seems to me that it should always be said with gusto), are new to me.

I had an excellent weekend - and am hoping this week continues to be stellar.  Barca is under the weather at the moment, so send you dog-healing love towards the Official Mascot.

Tomorrow, the Sazerac cocktail...

*not really...I wrote it. :)

Friday, March 12, 2010

Brandy Champagne Cocktail (Drink # 11)

I played basketball tonight.  Due to the random nature of picking teams (first 5 free throws hit are one team, the second 5 are the other team), I had to guard a guy who was 6 inches taller than me.  I'm 6' tall.  This guy was 6'6".  It was not a fair match-up.

It was so unfair that I would laugh every time he got the ball in the paint.  I couldn't help it.  I wasn't alone either.  I was the tallest guy on our team.  Everyone else was around 5'9" to 5'10", so they weren't crazy-small or anything, but still, I was stuck with the very tall former collegian.  Awesome.

We lost the first game, quickly.

After I got home from the game, I found Barca, the Official Mascot of The Amateur Mixologist was a wet mess after playing outside in the rain.  She is the Official Mascot, but even Official Mascots aren't allowed on the coach when soaking wet.

All was not lost - I was still looking forward to the Brandy Champagne Cocktail, which combines a few things that I really enjoy...

The Ultimate Bar Book, page 151

Brandy Champagne Cocktail

1 sugar cube
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1/2 ounce brandy
3 to 5 ounce chilled champagne
Lemon twist

In the bottom of a chilled champagne flute, soak the sugar cube with the bitters.  Pour in the brandy, and slowly top with champagne.  Run the lemon peel around the rim, twist it over the drinks, and drop it in.

As first noted in the Sidecar post, I'm a fan of brandy.  I'm also a fan of Angostura bitters.   Champagne ain't bad either - making any evening feel like it's more important than the random Thursday evening that it truly is. 

Even though I like the ingredients in this drink, it is a weird combination, and the results are pretty mediocre.  It kind of tastes like a ginger beer, or a screwed up craft-produced cream soda or root beer.

Let's start with the bitters. As mentioned in the Old Fashioned post, Angostura bitters with sugar produces a really strong and vibrant summer spice scent.  But, a little goes a long way. The brandy and champagne (or in this case, sparkling wine) don't really add much flavor to counteract the spice, and as a result, the drink is really pungent, sweet and overpowering - in the same way I find many ginger beers to be overpowering.

Sadly too, the lemon twist added nothing. 

This drink doesn't make a lot of sense to me.  Is the sugar meant to sit at the bottom, sometimes floating up the side when the glass is turned up for a drink?  Brandy is, on a relative scale, a sweeter 80 proof alcohol, as far as 80 proof alcohols go.  The recipe couples a sweeter liquor with sugar and bitters (which despite the name, actually adds a sweetness - a complex sweetness, kind of like licorice jelly beans, but sweetness nonetheless), and then, top it off with champagne.  It's just too sweet, and the flavor isn't particularly good. 

If you needed a champagne or sparkling wine drink, I'd stick with the Velvet Champagne d'Amour.

On the bright side, this weekend should be filled with St. Patrick's Day parties, Irish Coffees, and more warm weather.  Have a great weekend, stay safe...we'll be back on Sunday with new drinks for next week!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Irish Coffee (Drink # 10)

One week from today is St. Patrick's Day - my favorite holiday of the year.  No other celebration is as joyful, and let's be honest, St. Patrick's Day doesn't carry the baggage that comes with other holidays.

It is a unique combination of tradition (sort of), good drink (definitely), good music (save for Danny Boy), and good food (even if corned beef and cabbage is completely inauthentic).

I was in Ireland back in 2006, ripping through all of the south, from Shannon, to Galway, to Dublin, Kilkenny, the Ring of Kerry...on and on and 8 days.  It was amazing.  I came away with a fond appreciation for the country and its culture.  And, it should go without saying, its drink.  (Cue obligatory photo of Irish landscape).

Ireland is probably best known for Guinness, and Irish whiskey. 

Guinness of course, is the brewery in Dublin that brews the stout beer of the same name.  It's excellent beer of course, few could disagree.  Word always is that it tastes better in Ireland than it does stateside, but I didn't find that to be case.  I think it's more likely that the Guinness in Ireland tastes about the same - but YOU'RE IN FREAKING IRELAND!, and that has to account for something.  Sentimentality makes everything taste better!

If you're a hard alcohol man, there's no more prominent Irish whiskey than Jameson, by far and away the best selling whiskey export Ireland has to offer.  Irish whiskey is different than other forms of whiskey in various ways - but rather than get into details (in this post anyway), it's safe to say that Irish whiskey is the lighter flavored, less peaty cousin of scotch whiskey.  One of my favorite whiskeys, Irish or otherwise is Tyrconnell, an Irish single malt that costs around $30-35 a bottle.  Great value, and a great whiskey. 

Today, I am fortunate enough to be drinking Irish Coffee, a drink supposedly first created in the 1940's after some American passengers had a particularly rough go on a "flying boat".  Yes sports fans, you read that correct: a flying boat!  Perhaps we account for their rough trip because they agreed to ride on a flying boat in the first place.

The Ultimate Bar Book, page 403

Irish Coffee
1 1/2 ounces Irish whiskey
1 teaspoon brown sugar
5 to 6 ounces strong hot coffee
Heavy cream or whipped cream

Pour the Irish whiskey into a warmed Irish coffee glass, add the brown sugar, and stir until dissolved.  Pour in the hot coffee, and slowly add the cream to float on top; do not stir.

Or top with a dollop of whipped cream.

This is the first drink that I've had more than a handful of times before starting this blog.  It's no surprise that I think it's fantastic.

But, this recipe is surprising to me for a couple of reasons.

First, I've never added brown sugar before, and never thought to do so.  Second, I'm not used to such a small amount of coffee in my Irish coffee.  In my trusty 1984 USA Olympic mug, 6 ounces makes up just over half of the mug, and that seems like an incredibly small amount of coffee relative to what I normally drink.  I'm downing two or three of these mugs if given the chance.  Is 5 or 6 ounces considered a serving?!?

With the smaller amount of coffee, the Irish whiskey is noticeably stronger.  That's not a bad thing.  It is an overwhelmingly warming drink.  With each sip, the heat of the drink, coupled with the whiskey makes the stomach feel as though it is surrounded by a heat-wrap, turned up to 11.  It's great.  Funny though, that the cold weather has been demolished by the 73 degree day we had today!  I'll drink a warm drink in 73 degree weather after the winter we've had.

Even though this is a tried and true classic, using the recipe did change my perspective just a touch.  If I had survived a calamitous journey in a flying boat, I too would have upped the ratio of whiskey to coffee - perhaps as high as equal parts coffee to equal parts whiskey.  Though if someone offers me a ride in a flying boat, I'm running in the other direction.

Tomorrow, the Brandy Champagne Cocktail!
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