Gatsby Swizzle

Gatsby Swizzle
1.5 oz Beefeater 24 gin
0.5 oz Rhuby
1 oz strawberry rhubarb syrup
0.5 oz lemon juice
0.5 oz lime juice

Shake ingredients well and strain over crushed ice. Garnish with a lime wheel and top with seltzer if desired. (I didn’t)

NOTES: Extremely refreshing – went down like dangerous lemonade. The RHUBY really complemented the drink and strengthened the subtle rhubarb flavor of the cocktail. A perfect summer porch drink!


Slow Learner

Slow Learner
1 oz Bourbon (I used Elijah Craig)
0.5 oz Aalborg Akvavit
0.5 oz Benedictine
0.5 oz lemon juice
2 dashes Hella Bitters Wormwood
0.75 strawberry rhubarb syrup

Shake ingredients well with ice and strain over a large ice cube in a rocks glass. Garnish with a strawberry and a lemon peel.

NOTES: I honestly didn’t expect this one to work out as well as it did. A little wormwood can go a really long way for me, and I have never actually pulled out the Akvavit to try in a drink, but in the end, this ended up being incredibly crisp and refreshing. To quote Jen, “I really like this one, and that’s saying a lot because we never agree on drinks.” Bourbon flavor came through without any burn, the wormwood added a slight bitterness, and the syrup is just downright delicious. By all counts, this one was a winner.

Strawberry Rhubarb Syrup
10 ripe strawberries
2 rhubarb stalks, cut into 1″ chunks
2 cups water
1 cup sugar

Bring the water and fruit to a boil and then reduce to low heat. When the rhubarb almost completely disintegrates, add sugar and simmer on low for 15 minutes.  Strain a whole bunch of times (I used three different grade strainers in order to gradually get everything). Allow to cool and bottle. Add an ounce of everclear and it should last a couple weeks, refrigerated.

NOTES: Really sweet, and really good. Rhubarb adds a nice tartness. Beware, however, this one yields very little syrup for what you put in. From the above recipe, we only ended up with about 1 cup of usable syrup.

Research: Tasting Our Rum

Inspired by our gin tasting a few months back, we made a pact to eventually do the same for all of our liquor. This time, we pulled out the rum: one of Jen’s favorite spirits. I’ve always been lukewarm on rum, so this was a pretty big eye opener for me. I’ve long wondered why Tiki drinks might call for 3 different kinds of rum that I didn’t consider to be that different from one another, and I’ve finally got my answer.

Just like with the gin, there were some real surprises, and some discoveries in our own collection that really changed the way I thought about quite a few of these. We invited our friend Becky over again to help, and we individually rated each and picked an overall favorite. Here’s everything we tried, in the order we tried them (prices according to the PLCB site, when available), complete with a chart of our individual ratings at the end:

1| Mount Gay Eclipse Gold ($13.99, 80 Proof): This may have been a bad place to start. Across the board, this was the least favorite rum of the night. It had a harsh burn, tasted like the rum that everyone pictures after they haven’t had any rum since that one night in college, and lacked in character. It would be useful in large batches of fruit mojitos or something else where a powerful fruit can overtake the flavor in a party setting for the non-discerning drinker when you need a lot of a booze that no one is going to appreciate anyway.

2| Cruzan Aged Gold Rum ($12.99, 80 Proof): We were all surprised to find out that we greatly preferred the Cruzan to the Mount Gay, especially because we initially got the Mount Gay specifically to replace the Cruzan as a mixer. The sugarcane flavor really came through, and in the sweetness there was a little bit of a pleasant throat warmth. “Inoffensive” and “smooth” were the two most common descriptors.

3| Mount Gay Eclipse Silver ($10.99, 80 Proof): While it was better than the Mount Gay Gold, it wasn’t by a large margin. Almost no sweetness to the rum somehow made the flavor almost reminiscent of tequila. No one was shocked by how bad it was, but we agreed that we probably won’t be buying it again.

4| Bacardi Silver ($14.99, 80 Proof): This was another one we weren’t looking forward to drinking. Years of ads and being classified as a well liquor had us all expecting the worst. Of course, we were wrong again. The Bacardi was smooth and easy to drink with almost no burn at all. Someone described it as “buttery,” and everyone agreed with the assessment. By this point, we were starting to learn that our liquor prejudices might be a bit unfounded. We closed out this round agreeing simply: Bacardi is pretty good.

5| 10 Cane ($26.99, 80 Proof): The 10 Cane was a little different than the rum we had tasted so far in that it had a bit more character to go on. I actually liked it a bit more than Jen and Becky, thought we agreed that price-wise, it was a little high for what we were tasting. It had more burn than we expected, and had a bit of a sour flavor that would mix well with sour. If I had to pick a way to use the 10 Cane, it would be in a Mojito. The lime would balance it well, and the kick would stand out well enough to compete with the mint.

A whole bunch more – including our stand-out favorites – after the break.

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Spodee Launch Party

This past week, we were invited to check out the newest invention of Steven Grasse, the guy that came up with Hendrick’s Gin, Sailor Jerry Rum, Root, Snap and Rhuby. This time around, he’s got a sort of fortified wine called Spodee, made with grape wine, moonshine and spices, and it’s definitely interesting.

We hit this one at just the right time, since we’ve been on a bit of a fortified wine kick and finding an excuse to have some Sherry after every meal. The event at the Philadelphia Sculpture Gym was a lot of fun with Rival Brothers Coffee, The Smoke Truck, Cookie Confidential (a long-time favorite of ours), and Little Baby’s Ice Cream. A few variations of the Spodee were being passed around, from a coffee concoction to the Spodee and Sody [cola], and I have to say it’s more versatile for mixing than most wines. I’m not a big coffee drinker to begin with, so the Spodee Coffee Cocktail didn’t do much for me other than taste like coffee, but I did enjoy the unfortunately named Spodee and Sody (which will join “Moons Over My-Hammy” on the list of things I may want but will never order by name). I was also able to grab a glass of Spodee on its own so I had a point of reference on what I was tasting elsewhere. It’s got a very unique flavor: very sweet, with chocolate flavors and grape that leans more toward raisin and black cherry flavor than what you generally think of when you imagine wine. At 18% alcohol, it’s not going to put anyone on their ass, but it’s got a flavor powerful enough to stand up to mixing. The chocolate undertones give me hope for using it as a vermouth or sherry sub, or even swapped for a sweeter amaro.

The long and the short of it is that it’s different, which is almost never bad. We’re looking forward to messing around with Spodee in some cocktails, and picked up a bottle just this weekend in Old City (at a surprisingly affordable $8.00 for a 500 ml bottle). Some of the stores seem to have it behind the counter on account of its small size, so don’t give up looking for it too quickly.

Thanks to Spodee for having us out!

High Road to Saffron

High Road to Saffron
1.5 oz Cazadores Blanco tequila
0.5 oz Milagro Reposado tequila
1 oz mango lime shrub (see below)
1 oz Strega
0.5 oz seltzer water
2 dashes lime bitters

Shake ingredients well over ice, strain into a coupe. Garnish with a maraschino cherry.

NOTES: I’m a little sad I didn’t make this last week for Cinco de Mayo, because it would have been absolutely perfect. This is one of my favorite shrubs so far, and the whole thing was tart, sweet and really refreshing while still having the balls of a good tequila drink. Strega spiced the whole thing up nicely, and the little bit of reposado gave it a nice character without the guilt of drowning a great sipping tequila in other stuff. Might have found the first candidate for the next party.

Mango Lime Shrub
2 ripe mangoes
2 limes
2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 cup white sugar

Peel, pit and dice the mango and transfer the good stuff to a jar. Discard the peel and pit. Zest both limes, being careful to take ONLY the zest and none of the white pith. This is one of those times that paying for a zester really comes in handy. A peeler can work, but you have to have the steadiest hand in the world, or spend 20 minutes scraping pith off the back of your peels. If you end up with much pith at all, it’s going to give everything a bitter flavor. Transfer all the zest from the 2 limes into the jar, and then juice both limes in as well. Add 2 cups of vinegar, seal and shake well. Let it sit for 5 days, shaking every day.

On the fifth day, strain well (the mango will get soft and pulpy, so straining multiple times through cheese cloth might be necessary), and bring the liquid to a boil. Add sugar, and allow to simmer for 5-10 minutes to thicken. Allow to cool, transfer to a clean bottle, and refrigerate.

NOTES: We agreed that this shrub was outstanding, and basically wanted to drink it by itself. Mango and lime go together way better than we could have hoped. If you’re looking for a nice summer shrub to play around with, this is the one.

The folks over at OXO were kind enough to send us a couple digital food scales with pull-out displays so we could try one out and give the other away, so we decided to use it to make some mango liqueur. We may have gotten a little carried away when Whole Foods had a sale on Champagne mangos, so there were a ton of them here that we wanted to use before they turned. After what seemed like a lifetime of cutting fruit into chunks, we pulled out the scale and started measuring mango to split up between experiments.

No big surprise here, the scale worked great. At this point about half of our barware is OXO and we’ve never been anything but happy with the quality. The scale has an easy-to-read digital display and a pull-out screen in the event you’ve got something large that would otherwise block your view of the screen. For a full list of the features, check it out on OXO’s website. Long story short, the scale worked great, and we’d like to give one away to one of you! We’re going to do this one just like our Home Bar giveaway, so here are the rules:

To enter to win, comment on this post and tell us how you’d use your new OXO Digital Food Scale.

It doesn’t necessarily have to be drinking-related. We enjoy the occasional home-cooked meal too! If you want a better chance to win, you can do the following for additional entries (please leave a separate comment for each one we can get an accurate count!):

  1. “Like” us on Facebook
  2. Share this contest with your friends on Facebook
  3. Follow us on Twitter
  4. Tweet the following: “I entered to win an @OXO digital food scale on @HomeSpeakeasy at http://bit.ly/I93eL3 “
  5. Follow us on Pinterest and re-pin something of ours
  6. Follow our Guide to Drinking in Philly on Foursquare

Remember to leave a separate comment for each thing you do so you’ll get credit!

Friday (April 27th) at 5pm, we’ll pick a winner with a random number generator. If the winner doesn’t respond via email within 24 hours (or if they turn out to be some kind of bot), we’ll pick another the following day. US residents only, please.

Thanks for reading, and good luck! More on the actual liqueur after the break!

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Last Friday, Jen and I went to check out the Federal Donuts event at Art in the Age (creator of Root, Snap and Rhuby). If you’ve read much on this site, you’ll know that not only are these two of our favorite things in Philly, but we love combining them too! Needless to say, we were pretty excited to see what they came up with.

At the Art in the Age storefront, the geniuses over at Federal Donuts made a donut inspired by each of the three AITA spirits. In turn, the AITA folks created cocktails to complement the donuts. The whole thing was oddly circular, and it worked out great. The Root donut in particular was nothing short of fantastic, and the Ramblin’ Rhuby Rose cocktail stood out as a delicious and refreshing punch that would have been great on a hot summer day. The event was topped off by Sour Mash, a local bluegrass/folk outfit that really completed the atmosphere.

After the break, you’ll find the recipes for the three drinks and Jen’s photos from the evening. If you’d like a chance to try out the delicious donuts, head over to Federal Donuts now: they’re still making them for a short time. You won’t be disappointed!

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One of our favorite things to bring to any kind of potluck is a punch. They take less time to prepare than a dish, and in all honesty, we have some friends that can easily put our cooking abilities to shame. Everyone enjoys a good punch at a party, and it’s the most convenient way to keep everyone happy and holding tasty drink without having to spend the whole time mixing for them. This particular potluck was southern-themed, so with that in mind, Jen and I each came up with a punch spin on a classic southern cocktail.

Blackberry Passionfruit Mojito

1 pint blackberries
1 bottle Mount Gay Silver rum
1 cup Jamaican rum
1 cup mint simple syrup (recipe below)
1 cup passion fruit syrup
1/2 bunch of mint
0.75 liter seltzer water
1 cup lime juice

1 | Transfer the rum to a large mason jar, along with half of the blueberries and 10 mint leaves. Muddle the berries and leaves, seal, and allow to sit for 24-48 hours. Shake regularly.

2 | Fill a large round bowl (smaller than the bowl you will be serving from) with boiled water. Freeze. This will take at least 12 hours in most freezers, so leave time.

3 | Strain rum into a large pitcher to remove solids. Add passion fruit, lime juice and seltzer and stir well. Add additional passion fruit to taste.

4 | Get the ice bowl from the freezer and dip into hot water to release. Place it in the serving bowl. Toss in the remaining blackberries and 20 or so mint leaves. Pour the punch in, and enjoy!

Serves 8-10 people that know how to enjoy their alcohol.

NOTES: This one was the winner of the night. A bit dangerous, as it didn’t taste much like alcohol, so watch your consumption. Sweet, crisp, tangy and refreshing. And when the punch runs out, you’ve got a handful of rum-soaked blackberries to snack on at the bottom of the bowl!

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How to Make Ice Cones

After being introduced to them at Drink in Boston, we’ve come to learn that ice cones are a staple of a lot of tiki drinks – in particular, grogs. Aside from looking the part, ice cones do a great job of keeping your drink nice and cold without the potential of melting quickly like you might run into with crushed ice. They do tend to be a bit time consuming, but the end result is really worth the elbow grease. We tried out a couple different methods to create our own (good information on ice cones online is difficult to come by), and after our experiments, here’s where we ended up!

Materials you’ll need:

a) The Vessel. You need something conical to pack the ice into in order to make your ice cone. I’ve heard pilsner  glasses suggested, but frankly they tend to be too large for almost all of our glassware. You should shape your cones to best suit what you’re going to be drinking out of, because if you can’t effectively use it, what’s the point? We found something somewhere between an Irish Coffee glass and a Champagne Trumpet flute at our local secondhand store. The glass you use is up to you, but what we found the most versatile was around 6″ tall and no more than 3″ across at the bottom.

b) The Stick. You need something longer than the cone that is a uniform thickness and at least as large as a straw. We used chopsticks for ours.

c) The Crusher. Before you can pack your ice cone, you will need to shave a whole bunch of ice. For our glass, we needed about 8 ice cubes worth of shaved ice. Blenders don’t work very well if you don’t have an expensive, fancy blender created specifically for crushing ice.

d) The Spritzer. A clean spray bottle filled with clean, drinkable water.

More after the break!

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The Devil All The Time

The Devil All The Time
1 oz Blanco Tequila
0.5 oz Calvados
0.5 oz Spiced Rum
0.5 oz Falernum
0.5 oz passion fruit syrup
0.5 oz fresh lime juice

Shake well with ice, and strain into a collins glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with a lime wheel.

NOTES: This is another of the big favorites from our cocktail party, and one of the experiments that involved trying to create tiki drinks that weren’t just rum-based. We used Cazadores and Brinley’s Gold, which are both delicious on their own, and I’m sure that helped. Truthfully, I am having a hard time getting over how great the passion fruit syrup is. I really enjoyed this one for how sweet and tangy it is, while still keeping all the nice notes of the tequila and very little of the alcohol burn.

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