Cocktail Advent 19: Lady in the Garden


Here’s another cocktail idea courtesy of North Hollywood’s Bow & Truss Restaurant and Bar. They propose this as an alternative to eggnog.

Image via Bow & Truss

Image via Bow & Truss

Again, no measurements given, but we’re dealing with a twist on the classic Pisco Sour, so it’s not hard to figure out.

Lady in the Garden

  • 3 oz Pisco
  • 3 Basil leaves
  • 1 oz Simple Syrup
  • 1 oz Orange Juice
  • 1 Egg White
  • Orange Blossom Water and a small Basil sprig for garnish

In the bottom of a mixing glass, muddle the basil in the pisco just enough to release some of the oils. Add in the orange juice, and the egg white and dry-shake (meaning, use no ice) for about 15 seconds or so. Then add ice to your cocktail shaker and shake again to chill. Strain into a prepared cocktail coupe and top with a few drops of orange blossom water and a pretty basil sprig.

If you’ve never tried Pisco before, it reminds me of tequila–they both have that innate warmth and rich mouth-feel to me. While I think it’s a stretch to call this an egg-nog substitute, I certainly wouldn’t turn one down if it were offered to me!

***This “recipe” was provided by a representative of Bow & Truss Restaurant and Bar. I am not affiliated with the establishment nor have I been compensated for the sharing of this recipe or image. As always, we encourage responsible refreshment and the use of the Designated Driver. No drunken monkeys, please!***

AlcoHOLidays | Mexican Independence Day | The Caliente


Raise your hands, all of you who think (thought) Cinco de Mayo was Mexico’s Independence Day.

Okay, put your hands back down.

For the record, Cinco de Mayo (May 5th) celebrates the Mexican victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. Fifty-two years earlier, however, Mexico began it’s fight for independence from Spain with the “Cry of Dolores” (Dolores being a city, not a person–the actual “cry” came from a Roman Catholic Priest by the name of Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla) on September 16, 1810. Even though they would not be completely free of Spanish rule until 1821, September 16th is recognized as the National Day of Independence in Mexico.

Partida Tequila and the Caliente cocktail for Mexican Independence Day

Now that we’ve had our history lesson for the week, let’s raise our glass, once again, to independence.

Tequila Partida contacted me about the upcoming holiday and sent me some samples of their lovely, lovely tequilas. They also wondered (and I have to join them in their puzzlement) why Americans celebrate Mexican holidays (or, you know, Tuesday) with blanco tequila, when the aged reposado and anejo tequilas are the grades of choice for celebrations in Mexico.

I’ve never been a huge fan of blanco tequila (aka unaged tequila)–it’s often too harsh and lacks that wonderful warmth that I associate with a good margarita (and that would be a margarita on the rocks, none of this slushy nonsense thank you very much). True, the aging process (while adding quality) does add to the price, but for superior flavor I think it’s worth it..

I had the opportunity to sample the Partida’s blanco, reposado, and anejo tequilas and I have to say, I was surprised that I liked the blanco better than the reposado, but not at all surprised that I enjoyed the anejo even more. What’s the difference?

  • Blanco is not aged at all, but Partida’s blanco is relatively smooth, light and crisp without the hard edges the other blanco’s I’ve tasted have had.
  • Reposado, by Mexican law, must be aged a minimum of 2 months. Partida ages their for 6 months, which gives it a nice, light amber color. While I enjoyed the depth of flavor, it hadn’t smoothed out as much as I would have expected.
  • Anejo, by Mexican law, must be aged a minimum of 1 year. Again, Partida goes beyond the minimum and ages their anejo for 18 months, the outcome of which is a smooth, complex flavor and a nice, golden color. Tasting them side-by-side, even a tequila novice would be able to tell the difference in how smooth and mellow the anejo is compared to the reposado. This is what I want in my margaritas from now on.

Of course, you know me, I like my spirits best in a well-balanced cocktail, and this recipe (courtesy of Jacques Bezuidenhout and Tequila Partida) might be just the thing to add to your tequila cocktail repetoire.

The Caliente

3 chunks of fresh Pineapple
2 coins of fresh Ginger
1/4 oz Lime Juice
1/4 oz Agave Nectar*
1 1/2 oz aged Tequila (like Partida Reposado or Anejo)
1 oz Ginger Ale

In a mixing glass combine the pineapple, ginger, lime juice, and agave nectar and muddle until the ginger is broken up a bit. Fill the glass 3/4-full with ice and add the tequila. Shake like you’re keeping time with a lively mariachi band. Pour in ginger ale and swish it around to chill everything together before straining into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a piece of crystallized ginger.

Jacques will have to forgive me as I made some tweaks to the recipe–he recommends Partida Reposado, I would go with Anejo, and he used a scant 1/4 oz of ginger ale and I thought why bother if that’s all your adding? I also have you serve it in a cocktail glass where he suggests over ice in a highball. Do what you like. I liked the ginger in this cocktail, the tequila gives it a very nice flavor, but I do wish the pineapple were more foreward–it gets a bit buried under the oompf of the other flavors, so you might want to try pineapple juice instead of the ginger ale or maybe even pineapple soda!

*Agave Nectar is making quite a buzz in culinary circles, and therefore with the home gastronome as well. Most folks say it’s lower calorie but that’s not really true. What is true is that, ounce for ounce, agave nectar is sweeter than table sugar, so you can use less–IF you use less, volumetrically-speaking, then yes, it’s reducing your calories, but a gram of sugar and a gram of agave nectar both add the same amount of calories. Read those labels, though! Manufacturers have been known to stretch their agave nectar in the name of profit with high fructose corn syrup, so check that the ingredient list includes only 100% agave nectar before bringing it home.

Okay, folks, remember to go for the gold? Age before beauty? Something like that! But if you were looking for a reason to try some really good tequila this weekend, now you’ve got it!

And come back next week to find out what we’re celebrating next!

“¡Viva Mexico! ¡Viva la independencia!” 


FTC Disclaimer: I was provided samples of Partida Tequilas for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own. 

When Life Hands You Lemons…


You shake those babies up!

The Lemon Drop martini is one of those wonderful sweet and sour bevvies that is perfect for a hot summer day. Even though we’re slipping into fall, I don’t think anyone will argue that a lemony libation is out of season.

The best Lemon Drop we’ve had in a restaurant was at Bogey’s at the Hotel DeFuniak–a quaint little B&B (they still used actual keys when we were last there) with a room that is supposedly haunted. (If I’d only known that when I made our reservation I’d have requested that one, instead!) Todd won the drink order*, that night, and I wrote down the menu description for later experimentation. Others have been ordered since then at various places but none have lived up.

Until now, though, the best Lemon Drop we’ve had at home came–I’m almost ashamed to say–from a mix. Almost ashamed but not quite, as the mix was truly exceptional: the Lavendar Lemonade Martini mix from ModMix. Fully organic and incredibly tasty, we mixed them with Vanilla Vodka and a good time was had by all.

Now, though, I want to branch out and create our own home version, not from a mix, and using the wonderful things we’ve learned since first encountering the Bogey’s Lemon Drop.

Lusty Lemon Drop

Research first, I was dismayed at recipes that merely called for Lemon Vodka and a little bit of sugar. 1 ingredient does not a cocktail make, my friends. And to those who claimed any orange liqueur would do, I submit that a Lemon Drop made with Triple Sec would be vastly inferior to one made with Cointreau. (I feel like I need a say-no-to-Triple Sec graphic every time I have to make this point.)

Actually, I was surprised at how many recipes I previews called for the dreaded Triple Sec–it’s the cheap and easy sister everyone expected so much of but who never lives up to her potential. At some point, you have to face facts that she’s just not interested in change.

Oh, wait, that’s a different kind of tart.

A Lemon Drop is very simple in essence: vodka, lemon juice, sugar. But I had a very specific set of ingredients in mind for our Lemon Drop. I knew we’d use Vanilla Vodka (again, our favorite of late is from 360 Vodka) and, in addition to fresh lemon juice, some of our homemade Limoncello for added smoothness.

But what else? The Lavender Lemon Drop had that nice little something extra, what would put this one over the top?

Then it hit me. When I was trying out the Green Angel cocktail for this week’s AGWA de Bolivia review, the basil mixed so well with the Limoncello, I wanted to try it again. And with the idea to combine lemon zest with the rimming sugar borrowed from Inspired Taste, we were all set to try it out. All that was left was to fiddle with proportions!

Lusty Lemon Drop

3-5 Basil Leaves, depending on the size
1 oz Limoncello
2 oz Vanilla Vodka
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Simple Syrup
Sugar, Basil and Lemon zest for garnish

In the mixing glass of a Boston shaker, muddle the basil and Limoncello together just enough to break up the leaves a bit but not so much that they’re torn to smithereens.  Add ice, the vanilla vodka, lemon juice and simple syrup and shake like you just can’t wait. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass rimmed with lemon-sugar and enjoy.

Dipping a moistened basil leaf into the lemon sugar makes a great additional garnish.

Basil, in herbal lore, corresponds to love and passion, hence the name.

The homemade sour mix (equal parts lemon juice and simple syrup) tones down the somewhat cloying–but in the best possible sense of the word–nature of the Limoncello and Vanilla Vodka. And the basil? Oh, man, the basil adds a sweet scent and a touch of something to the flavor that, if you didn’t know it was basil you wouldn’t know what it was but you’d know you like it. I suppose this cocktail is a bit like art, in that respect. Either way you slice it, this is a passionate drink, one you’d want to drown in… except for the fact that if you were to depart this mortal coil you wouldn’t be able to make and enjoy another one!

*We have an unofficial contest every time we go out where we sample each other’s drinks and, sometimes, when one clearly surpasses the other, that person wins.

50 Shots of America–Nevada

The Mojavito

The Mojavito

Now that the move is complete and the bar is fully unpacked, it’s time to return to our drinking tour of America with state number 36: Nevada (which is Spanish for snow-covered, named after the Sierra Nevada mountains).

Originally part of the Utah Territory, the predominantly non-Mormon section that is today’s Nevada broke off from their eastern brethren in March, 1861, became a state on October 31, 1864, (just squeaking in with enough time to help re-elect Lincoln as President and doing so by telegraphing their entire state constitution from Culver City to Washington, DC), and did some re-drawing of their state’s southern boundary in May, 1866, when gold was found in the then-Arizona Territory. Good thing, too, because Las Vegas, Arizona just doesn’t have the same ring, does it?

And speaking of Vegas, turns out that gambling was legalized after the Great Depression as a temporary measure to help bolster the state’s flagging economy. I think it’s safe to say that anyone who suggested outlawing it would be laughed out of the state!

There’s no Last Call in Nevada, at least not by law; alcohol can be purchased at any hour of the day or night and bottles can be purchased at grocery and convenience stores as well as dedicated liquor stores (not just beer and wine like most places). Which leads us to this week’s drink.


1/2 Key Lime**, cut into 2 wedges
1 sprig Sage, stem removed
3/4 oz Gin
1 oz Club Soda

Muddle the lime and sage in the bottom of a shaker until the sage is well-mashed and fragrant. Add ice and the gin and shake like a tumbleweed crossing the plains. Strain into a chilled cordial glass and top with club soda.

Now, seeing as how Nevada is primarily dry, arid desert, a sweet drink just wouldn’t do (in alcohol, dry is the opposite of sec, or sweet). And because of the Pinyon Juniper forests in the Great Basin desert (which sounds like it would be at the bottom of the state when, actually, it encompasses much of the north and central area), I’m going with a dry gin as the base spirit. Nevada is known as the Sagebrush State so my first thought was a sage infusion but, well, that takes too long for a good mix and muddling is far quicker. Suddenly, this is sounding a lot like a Mojito (which sounds an awful lot like the Mojave desert that does occupy the southern third of the state), so that’s when the lime and club soda came over to play. The end result is a very tart, refreshing drink that would be a perfect quencher on a hot summer’s day no matter where in the world you are (well, okay, Northern hemisphere at the very least–those below the Equator save it for the warm winters).

One final bit of trivia for the day:

Ever wonder why the CSI franchise started in Vegas? It might have a little something to do with Nevada’s 5-year reign as the most dangerous state in the country (though if that were the sole reason, I think we would have had CSI: New Orleans before Miami or New York***).

*pronounced mo-ha-VEE-toe; whether you pronounce the ‘a’ as in bad (as is the correct way to pronounce Nevada) or as in father is entirely up to you

**I used key limes because they are small and this is a small drink. A single wedge (quarter) of a standard lime should be plenty. If you want a very tart lime drink with a touch of the other flavors, go ahead and use the whole Key Lime (or half a regular one).

***Turns out there was a decision to be made, just before Katrina, between a CSI: New Orleans and CSI: New York–go figure!