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Cocktails

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Gift Lab: How to Make Cocktail Bitters

December 19, 2013

Morgan | Bitters

Research
I’m a devoted whisky (and occasionally whiskey) drinker and usually enjoy my Scotch like I enjoy the top shelf of my dresser: neat. But I was intrigued to see if bitters might prove an opportunity to salvage a liquor I’ve all but quit–rum. The recipe calls for a high-proof rum, so I picked up one of my favorite antiseptics, Bacardi 151. I also bought an aged rum (to test my bitters in later) that I was hoping might change my opinions of the drink. That rum, Plantation Grande Reserve (note the fancy pants name), was a vast improvement over any rum I could remember tasting (in either direction), in my younger days, so I was looking forward to a different experience, perhaps.
Bitters 1

Bacardi 151? Hello old friend.

Hypothesis
I don’t think I’ve ever tried bitters before, but I’m coming in with a semi-open mind. I like bitter things. There’s something smart-sounding about the word “bitters.” As I have a general preference for straight alcohol, I’m not sure how much this will “add” to the experience, but perhaps since I’m less predisposed towards rum, it may make that drink more enjoyable. (Spoiler alert: I cheated and came up with this last line after the experiment.)

Experiment
Preparing the mixture is actually a good bit of fun, adding the composite spices and ingredients as if your high school science teacher were a part-time bartender. (I didn’t see you and you didn’t see me, Mr. Chard.)

DIY Cocktail Bitters | UncommonGoods

Here I am masterfully peeling an apple and not cutting myself, the skins to be mixed into the jar of rum and spices. No blood! Easy enough.

The preparation requires a morning and evening shake of the mixture in its jar, which is a fun way to interact with your little blooming bundle of joy, and to appreciate the visual richness and beauty of the concoction as it does its thing. Eventually you’ll forget to shake it one morning and you’ll feel guilty for the rest of the day. Just let it go–it’ll be fine.

DAY 1 TEST
Finally, after a long and eager wait, 2 weeks are up and it’s time to open my present! Hold on there just a minute, bud–a few more steps before we’re ready for cheers. First we have to strain through cheesecloth (which doubles as gauze if you cut yourself peeling that apple earlier–try to use the clean portion).

Bitters | UncommonGoods

The liquid is separated from the solid ingredients, which are placed on the stove to simmer with water then cool. This is a good opportunity to be extremely impatient, blow on the mixture, and just dump it in hot anyway. (Again, you’re probably fine.)

Bitters in Process | UncommonGoods

After cooling, we strain the mixture once again. OK, this is your exit solids! In the trash you go! We then get started on simple syrup (a sugar and water mixture that is heated and added in equal parts to the rum mixture). Add to dropper bottle then the big payoff.

I decided on bourbon because, well, I like bourbon and it seems to feature in a good number of bitters cocktails. I could make a cocktail, but I’d rather really taste the bitters here just to see how they work with the alcohol. A bit of bitters drip drop into some Buffalo Trace bourbon.

Drinking Bourbon

Unfortunately, it wasn’t doing it for me. Nope. Had I done something wrong? I don’t think so. Was it last Friday when I neglected to shake the bitters? Were they exacting their revenge? Nah – I don’t think bitters hold grudges (although they are called bitters…). I think it was just the combination. The iconic Buffalo Trace flavor now muddled into something indecipherable and a bit all over the place. I added a bit more but that just added to the confusion. My eyes saw the Buffalo Trace and my mouth was failing to compute.

Give up? No way. We’ll try again tomorrow.

DAY 2 TEST
New shirt, new day, new opportunity to drink.

Back on the saddle and off the wagon with something a bit more compatible, perhaps – rum. Yes, my aged rum would make a late-game, surprise guest appearance in a highly unscientific evaluation.

In one glass – straight aged rum
In the other – that same rum with a few drops of bitters.

Bitters and Rum

This one makes sense. The rums obviously blend well, and this time I’m able to actually taste the spiced apple. Not overpowering, but definitely adds another dimension. Yeah – I get it.

Conclusion
I could see this enhancing a mediocre rum or allowing for a drinker to taste a decent one from a different perspective. I imagine you could mix into a number of different cocktails with different alcohols. (The instruction booklet names a few.)

The highlight for me though was the process. Enjoying a drink usually consists of nothing more than opening a bottle and pouring it. Occasionally this might involve stirring in a few extra ingredients–and sure–there are even bitters you could buy. But there was something very satisfying about the process; in the interaction with all the individual ingredients, in the ultimate unification of those flavors. There was something satisfying in the wait. Alcohol is one of those things that can take longer than anything to get right. We buy liquors that have been waiting for years, heck, decades to taste just right, then we sip them and they’re gone.

This kit represents the process, the time, the care that goes into a good drink. This probably won’t change my lineup of standby drinks or undying love of a good straight Scotch, but it was an interesting ride, I learned a bit, and I have something new to taste along with some of my old favorites. Nah, I ain’t bitter.

The Uncommon Life

7 Mixtape Mixed Drinks: A Week of Cool Cocktails & Toe-tappin’ Tunes

September 16, 2013

We’re super excited about our new Mixtape Glasses. Our Product Development Team put in some hard work to create these rockin’ low balls, so we had to do a little more to celebrate than just raise a glass to toast to the finished product. Instead, we raised all 6 glasses, each filled with a different cocktail (and we added in wine, too, to round out the week!).

Dark and Stormy Cocktail Recipe

Check out these delightful mixed drink recipes and the playlists that go best with them, compliments of folks across departments here at UncommonGoods.

Manhattan Cocktail Recipe | UncommonGoods

Throw back a Butterbee and put on this playlist of sweet-as-candy jams selected by our Quality Control Specialist, Kim.

Savor a Sweet and Lowdown and celebrate swing with this mixed drink and mixtape created by Human Resources Manager Mindy.

Mix up a Manhattan and listen the sounds of the city–a New York playlist picked by Carolyn, Our Director of New Business and Product Development.

Celebrate summer any time of year with a Creamsicle and some sunny songs selected by Operations Manager Lee.
French 75 cocktail recipe

Find yourself in France as you sip a French 75 and sing along with Senior Merchandising Coordinator Heather’s mixtape of music inspired by the City of Light.

Weather any storm with a mellow music mix from our Inventory and Drop Ship Operations Manager, Sean, and don’t forget to drink a Dark ‘n Stormy while you’re at it.

Finally, when you’re not in the mood for a cocktail and want an easy way to take it easy, wind down with a glass of wine and Marketing Assistant Emily’s playlist of songs for a lazy day.

The Uncommon Life

Mixtape Mixed Drinks: Dark ‘n Stormy Cocktail Recipe

September 14, 2013

A Dark ‘n Stormy is drink with a kick. It’s perfect for a rainy night, and so is this playlist.

Dark and Stormy Cocktail Recipe

A Dark ‘n Stormy in a Mixtape Glass is bright idea.

The Drink:
1.5 oz Gosling’s Black Seal Rum
Gosling’s Stormy Ginger Beer

Fill your glass with ice add 4 – 5 oz of Gosling’s Stormy Ginger Beer, and then top with Gosling’s Black Seal Rum. Garnish with a lime wedge (optional).

The Playlist:
1. Downeaster Alexa–Billy Joel
2. Fool in the Rain by Led Zeppelin
3. Bartender–Dave Matthews Band
4. Folding Chair–Regina Spektor
5. Ballentines–Aimee Mann
6. Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa–Vampire Weekend
7. Pretty Girl From Annapolis–The Avett Brothers

The Uncommon Life

Mixtape Mixed Drinks: French 75 Cocktail Recipe

September 13, 2013

When I think about the music that goes with a French 75 I’m thinking jazz, I’m thinking cocktail party, I’m thinking sophisticated–but not too literal.

French 75 cocktail recipe

A French 75 is traditionally served in a Champagne flute, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t taste marvelous sipped from a Mixtape Glass.

The Drink:
1 ounce gin
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup
2 ounces Champagne

Add gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup to a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake. Strain into glass, then top with Champagne.

The Playlist:
1. I Love Paris–Frank Sinatra
2. Over the Rainbow–Ben Webster
3. You don’t Know Me–Ray Charles
4. J’etais Une Fille–Camelia Jordana
5. Nightingale Sang in Berkley Square–Harry Connick, Jr.

The Uncommon Life

Mixtape Mixed Drinks: Creamsicle Cocktail Recipe

September 12, 2013

This creamsicle recipe is sweet, bubbly, and doesn’t require any actual cream.

Creamsicle Cocktail Recipe

A Mixtape Glass filled to the brim with Creamsicle is cool and sweet.

The Drink:
1 part vodka
1 part Cointreau
1 Part Cola

The Playlist:
1. In the Summertime–Mungo Jerry
2. Dimples–John Lee Hooker
3. Mas Que Nada–Sergio Mendes & Brasil 66
4. Summer Night–Sunlightsquare
5. Cherry Tree-Grand National
6. Transatlantic–Quantic

The Uncommon Life

Mixtape Mixed Drinks: Manhattan Cocktail Recipe

September 11, 2013

The Manhattan is a classic New York cocktail, so of course it inspired a playlist of classic New York songs. The Manhattan’s a sophisticated drink that evokes images of the city it’s named after during the Mad Men era. (Don Draper typically drinks an old fashioned, but we could see him drinking this as well.)

The drink can be made with Bourbon or Rye–my Manhattan is made with Bourbon.

Manhattan Cocktail Recipe | UncommonGoods

Sipping a Mahattan in a Mixtape Glass can put you in a New York state of mind, no matter your location.

The Drink:
2 parts bourbon to 1 part sweet vermouth
1-2 Dash bitters
Maraschino cherry (optional)

Place ice in a cocktail shaker and then add bourbon, sweet vermouth and bitters. Shake and pour (strained) into a chilled glass or pour over ice. Top with a cherry (optional).

The Playlist:
1. Incident on 57th Street-Bruce Springsteen
2. Spanish Harlem-Ben E. King
3. Positively 4th Street-Bob Dylan
4. Take the A Train-Duke Ellington
5. New York State of Mind-Billy Joel
6. New York City Serenade-Bruce Springsteen

The Uncommon Life

Mixtape Mixed Drinks: Sweet and Lowdown Cocktail Recipe

September 10, 2013

I enlisted a little help from my husband Nathan to make my drink-inspired playlist, since we created this drink together and he’s the music lover!

We call this drink the “Sweet and Lowdown” after the Woody Allen movie. (It has lots of great music!)

Sweet and Lowdown Cocktail Recipe

The Sweet and Lowdown (in our Mixtape Glass)is a citrus masterpiece inspired by cinema

The Drink:
1-2 oz gin (Depending on how strong you like it.)
1-2 oz grapefruit juice
Splash of triple sec or cointreau
Splash of soda
1-2 lime wedges
2-3 basil leaves, julienned, leave 1 whole

Muddle the julienned basil, 1 lime wedge and triple sec in the bottom of your glass. Fill glass with ice. Add gin, juice, and top with soda. Garnish with another lime and a basil leaf if desired. Turn on the music playlist below, relax, and enjoy!

Variations – Substitute mint or rosemary for the basil.

The Playlist:
1. Minor Swing–Django Reinhardt
2. Diga Diga Doo–Artie Shaw
3. Tain’t What You Do–Mildred Bailey
4. Si, Paloma–Sun Kil Moon
5. Swing Low, Sweet Cadillac–Dizzy Gillespie
6. Django–Grant Green
7. Two To Tango–Bing Crosby & Rosemary Clooney

The Uncommon Life

Mixtape Mixed Drinks: Butterbee Cocktail Recipe

September 9, 2013

We’re celebrating the drop of our Mixtape Glasses by mixing up our favorite cocktails and pumping up the volume on the songs that go best with them. First up–the Butterbee.

Butterbee Cocktail

The Butterbee is a yummy sweet grown-up treat.

The Drink:
Mix equal parts of Bailey’s Irish Cream and Butterscotch Schnapps
Top with whipped cream

The Playlist:
1. Build Me Up Buttercup – The Foundations
2. C.R.E.A.M. – Wu Tang Clan
3. Caramel – City High
4. Candyman – Christina Aguilera
5. Candy – Mandy Moore
6. Sugar, Sugar – The Archies

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