Low-Proof February? Yeah gurrrrrl.

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Alright y’alllllllll. Hot on the heels of Tiki The Snow Away comes my newest obsession: “Low-Proof February.” I think this is funny cause Tiki The Snow Away was my visceral reaction to the incredibly heavy and rich drinks we have during december (I’m looking at you Egg Nog!) and now Low-Proof February is my reaction to having so many overproof Rums in Tiki drinks. Ahhhh, it’s a silly world we live in.

So, y’all probably have questions. Questions like, “why are there so many bottles of fortified wine n such on your table gurrrrrl?” I’ll answer you with another question: What has an ABV lower than 20% and still has tons of flavor? Fortified wine, that’s what.

The goal of Low-Proof February is to use all of the things you have in the Aperitif & Digestif category as the main ingredients and to use Spirits as modifiers. Think of it as making inverted cocktails. For example: You’re could to use 2 oz of Vermouth and maybe just 1/2 an ounce of Brandy.

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Here’s a really good example of what I’m talking about. This drink is still very satisfying because Atxa Vermouth Amurrio is herbaceous, fruity, wonderful in a spritz, and a good Armagnac has tons of flavor even when used in small amounts.

Grandma’s Spritz

  • 2 oz Atxa Amurrio Vino Vermouth
  • 1/2 oz Chateau de Laubade VSOP Bas Armagnac
  • Soda Water
  • Garnish: Lemon Wheel

Combine ingredients in double rocks glass, add ice, top with Soda water, and garnish.

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Here’s another example that I made while at work at Duke’s Liquor Box. It’s a take on an Americano (Campari, Vermouth, Soda Water) where I used the brand-new-made-in-Brooklyn Forthave Spirits RED Aperitivo in place of Campari and Cocchi Rosa in place of Vermouth.

The Red Rosa

  • 1 1/2 oz Forthave Spirits Red Aperitivo
  • 1 1/2 oz Cocchi Rosa Aperitivo
  • Soda Water
  • Garnish: Orange wedge

Combine ingredients in double rocks glass, add ice, stir briefly, and garnish.

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Here is some inspiration for other low-proof ingredients: Tawny Port, Amontillado Sherry, and War + Rust (a Quinquina made in the USA and fairly similar to Byrrh Aperitif).

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Now for those of you who are like, “Girrrrrrl, I can’t handle only drinking Aperitivi/Digestivi for a month”, you could make yourself a Highball with Japanese Whisky or some other kind of light and wonderful Whisky.

Akashi White Oak Highball

  • 1 1/2 oz Akashi White Oak Japanese Whisky
  • 7 drops Scrappy’s Celery Bitters
  • Soda Water
  • No garnish

The instructions for how to make a proper Japanese Highball are somewhat complicated because in Japan, cocktail making is treated more like a tea ceremony. I do not purport to be an expert on how to make a proper Japanese Highball but here is roughly how to do it:

  1. Use a chilled glass and carefully add ice so it stacks properly
  2.  Pour 1 1/2 oz Japanese Whisky down the side of the glass, making sure not to get any Whisky on the top of the ice.
  3. Pour Soda water down the side of the glass, again making sure not to get any on the top of the ice, until there is approximately 1/4″ space left at the top of the glass.
  4. Put a long barspoon down the side of the glass and swizzle until you have combined the ingredients and created a bit of a frothy head at the top of the glass.
  5. Serve immediately with a straw.

In the case of this particular Highball, I’d recommend adding the bitters before adding the soda water.

Well that’s it! May your Low-Proof February be satisfying and creatively inspiring! I’ll be posting most of my recipes on Instagram, feel free to follow along there.

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Shannon’s Fog Cutter

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Y’all, it’s nearly autumn and I am feeeeeling like it’s time for some Sherry! Actually, I’m feeling like it’s time for some Rum + Sherry + Gin + Cachaça which means, I’ve got a Tiki drink for us today! So grab one bottle of each, some citrus and get some Orgeat cause this shit is tasty!

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Do you see it? Do you see the book in the photo? Are you intrigued? “Gurrrrl, why is there a book in the photo? There’s never a book in the photo!”

Woo! I’ve been meaning to get the Smuggler’s Cove book for quite sometime and after seeing the 100th or so recipe show up on /r/cocktails, I was like, “OK FINE! I’ll get the book!”

It’s uhhhhhhhmazing. It’s the Tikiest/nerdiest/geekiest/Rummiest/most delightful book I’ve read in awhile and wow, it has so many good tips on how to make well crafted cocktails. So like any thirsty woman, I found a recipe that was really speaking to me and made a variation.

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Not that I haven’t made a Fog Cutter before, cause I totally have and I totally love this format. Tropical + Gin + Sherry really speaks to my soul on a deep level.

For this particular Fog Cutter, I was thinking of my friend Shannon Mustipher (THE Rum Queen of NYC, brand ambassador for Denizen Rum, a serious lover of Cachaça and overproof spirits) and made this drink with her in mind. Hope you like it gurrrrrl!

  1. I started with Yaguara Cachaça as the “inspirational” ingredient and the replacement for brandy…
  2. Which led me to Denizen 3 Year Rum for the main spirit cause Denizen & Yaguara go so well together and y’all know Denizen is my “workhorse Rum”. Loads of coconut, banana, and grasses between the two of these spirits.
  3. Then I wanted a big bright Gin and was kind of thinking overproof would be the jam so to the Hayman’s Royal Dock I went!
  4. I followed the Smuggler’s Cove guide of Lemon, Orange, & Orgeat but I did change the type of sherry from Oloroso to Lustau Amontillado cause that’s what I had in my fridge. I also have Fino but I thought that would be too dry and a little too thin.

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Another tip I picked up from Smuggler’s Cove is the use of “Flash Blending”. Now, they use something like a Hamilton Beach Milkshake Blender and blend for 5 or so seconds. I don’t have that sort of blender but I do have a Ninja (for all the smoothies my girlfriend and make in our lil apartment). I’ve reduced my blending time to just about 2 seconds so that the drink doesn’t get too watery and I’m digging the resulting texture.

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Check the ice in the above photo. Nice right? Also, those Luxardo Cherries look super tasty right now. Yummmmmm.

Shannon’s Fog Cutter

  • 2 oz Denizen 3 Year Aged White Rum
  • 1 oz Cachaça Yaguara
  • 1/2 oz Hayman’s Royal Dock Gin
  • 1/2 oz Orgeat
  • 1 1/2 oz fresh Orange Juice
  • 1 1/2 oz fresh Lemon Juice
  • Garnish: 1/2 oz Amontillado Sherry, 3 Luxardo Maraschino Cherries, swizzle stick

Combine ingredients and flash blend for 2 seconds with ~8 oz cracked ice. Pour into a tall Tiki mug, float the Sherry on top, and garnish.

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Tiki cheers to all y’all and I HIGHLY recommend getting the Smuggler’s Cove book. I also recommend getting a Rum collection going cause there is a whole wonderful world of Rum out there and with that Rum you can make a whole wonderful set of Tiki drinks!

#NationalTequilaDay + Grass Hat Cocktail

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Happy National Tequila Day y’all! Today is particularly near and dear to my heart, as I am a lover of all things Agave and a major proponent of appreciating this spirit for all its magnificent complexities.

So today on this blessed day, SIP YOUR TEQUILA!

Don’t take shots of it. Don’t try to get it down with a grimace and a chaser of Lime + salt (that’s only meant for awful mixto tequilas anyways). Get yourself some real 100% Puro Agave Tequila and let your palate experience it fully.

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Speaking of good Tequila: I’m a big fan of Corralejo because all of their Tequilas are agave forward and while the aged expressions do exhibit some woody characteristics, it doesn’t mask the rich earthy flavors. I think all three are good enough to sip, but they also make excellent cocktails.

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So today in the spirit of “sipping your Tequila”, we’re going to make a cocktail that looks like a martini, but is far from it.

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The goal of this cocktail was to put Corralejo Reposado in a stirred cocktail with Kalani Coconut Rum Liqueur. This liqueur isn’t very sweet and has a lovely nutty, funky, grassy flavor with excellent viscosity. My secondary goal was to make a cocktail with Tequila + Lustau Puerto Fino Sherry. Fortunately those two goals aligned with the addition of Boker’s Bitters and some Lemon oil.

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Stirrrrrrrrrrr til you can picture the great rains coming down to the fields in Jalisco and giving life to all the agave.

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*Note: I was having some hilarious lighting issues, the cocktail isn’t green at all, but rather the color of light straw. haha, sheesh.

Grass Hat Cocktail

  • 1 3/4 oz Corralejo Reposado Tequila
  • 1/2 oz Lustau Puerto Fino Sherry
  • 1/4 oz Kalani Coconut Rum Liqueur
  • 2 dashes Boker’s Bitters
  • Garnish: Lemon oil

Combine ingredients over ice and stirrrrrrr for 50 rotations or until proper dilution has occurred. Strain into your prettiest coupe, express Lemon peel and discard.

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Salud and may you enjoy National Tequila Day with a fine Tequila and a fine cocktail!

MonteNegroni No. 2

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Happy #NegroniWeek to y’all! #NegroniWeekend? Either way, Happy Friday!

I’ve been working on this drink since I got back from Belgium cause I am in looooove with Copperhead Gin and it goes really well with Amaro Montenegro.

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Like, I’m so into this Gin that I bought it twice. The Juniper is there but there are also loads of Pine, Angelica, Cardamom, Coriander, and spice notes. It’s super smooth and I want to drink it all the damn time.

*WILL SOMEONE IN NORTH AMERICA PLEASE START IMPORTING COPPERHEAD GIN FROM BELGIUM? K thanx.

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But back to the point: Last year I made the first MonteNegroni and I loved it. This year I made it again but swapped out Copperhead for Plymouth Gin, Dolin Blanc for Carpano Antica…and then I thought, “Wait, this needs something else. Not a lot of something else, just a bit of something else…”

And then it hit me, “SHERRY!” I’ve noticed that 1/4 oz of Amontillado Sherry will really do magical things in a stirred drink. So here we are…I broke the rules again. Another Four-Ingredient-Negroni coming right up!

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Don’t forget to stirrrrrrrrrrr til the light of heaven shines down upon you and your heart smiles. 🙂 ❤

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MonteNegroni No. 2

  • 1 oz Copperhead Gin (sub any dry, Angelica forward Gin)
  • 3/4 oz Amaro Montenegro
  • 1/2 oz Dolin Blanc
  • 1/4 oz Lustau Amontillado Sherry
  • Garnish: Orange peel

Combine ingredients over ice and stirrrrrrrrr until the skies open up and you see the light of heaven. Strain into a double Rocks glass over ice. Express Orange peel and garnish.

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Cheers and may your soul sparkle with the power of the MonteNegroni!

A Sherried Martini

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Ooooooh my. The Holidays are literally upon us.

You may be asking yourself, “Home Bar Gurrrrl, why do you want us to drink a Martini when there are so many holiday Cocktails to imibe?”

Y’all, don’t worry. I’m not telling you skip the Egg Nog, Cranberry infused Dolin Rouge, Cacao infused Campari, or any Champagne Cocktails you might come across!

I’m just telling you, that if you want to take a holiday breather, lighten things up for a moment, and chillllllll, then this is the Martini for you.

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Our star players for this drink are: 1. Hayman’s Old Tom Gin which has a wonderful viscosity and loads of botanicals, and 2. Lustau Amontillado Sherry which has a fabulous dryness, loads of spices, nuttiness, and a bit of brine.

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They are supported with Dolin Dry Vermouth (praise be to Dolin Dry), Regans’ Orange Bitters, and an Orange peel.

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Are we ready to stirrrrrrrrr? Yes? Excellent.

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A Sherried Martini*

  • 2 1/4 oz Hayman’s Old Tom Gin
  • 1/2 oz Dolin Dry Vermouth
  • 1/4 oz Lustau Amontillado Los Arcos Sherry
  • 1 dash Regans’ Orange Bitters
  • Garnish: Orange peel

Combine ingredients over ice and stirrrrrr. Strain into coupe. Express Orange peel and garnish.

This is “Sherried” cause there’s just a bit of Sherry, but the 1/4 oz gives an excellent finish to the Martini.

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Yeah gurrrrl, I wanna relax with this Sherried Martini. The holidays can do their own crazy thing.

Puccini’s Nightcap

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So I’m totally digging National Hazelnut month and using as much Frangelico in as many recipes I possibly can. Today, I’ve got another Cocktail with Plantatation Barbados 5 Year Rum, cause the flavors go really well together. Also Hazelnut + Rum seems like a win-win to me y’all!

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It’s also time to bust out the Nutmeg and grater!

Puccini’s Nightcap

  • 2 oz Plantation Barbados 5 Rum
  • 1/2 oz Frangelico
  • 1/2 oz Giffard Banane Liqueur
  • 1/2 oz Amontillado Sherry
  • 1 tsp St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram (sub Pimento Bitters)

Garnish: freshly grated Nutmeg

Combine ingredients over ice and stirrrrrrrrr. Strain into coupe, grate that Nutmeg until you are feeeling it.

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Let the Hazelnut loving continue! Woo! Cheers to MBooth for including me in National Hazelnut Month!