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Toasted Almond

by Brendan G January 17th, 2014| Cocktails, Mixed Drinks
drink 12thPersonally, I've never been a big fan of milky cocktails. Whether it's milk, cream, or half and half, alcohol mixed with dairy products was never attractive to me. Irish cream has always been a staple, and now, the newly popular Rum-Chata is also adding that creamy element to a multitude of cocktails. But it is the popularity of a movie called The Big Lebowski that created a whole cult of White Russian drinkers, who strive to drink the same milky cocktail as did the title character, “The Dude”.

As a bartender in a bar surrounded by a lot
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CîROC Amaretto Vodka

by Jason Lightner January 14th, 2014| Liquor
CirocAfter a blisteringly unsavory week in the City of Brotherly Love, wherein wintery temperatures dipped down to below 0 degrees fahrenheit, and we watched the Schuylkill River freeze over alongside the iconic boathouses of John B. Kelly Drive, we're ready to put some warmth back into our bodies. Let us proceed in a manner fit for the dead of winter — with the pleasant burn of a premium vodka.

I approached CÎROC Amaretto Vodka with skepticism. Call it a habit, but that's just the way it goes with me and flavored vodka. Burnett's, Smirnoff, Absolut, Three Olives, Stolichnaya
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Bay Breeze

by Brendan G January 10th, 2014| Cocktails, Mixed Drinks
baybreezeThe Bay Breeze has always been one of my go-to cocktails. Simple and basic. It never fails, on a nightly basis there's a number of customers who don't know what they want to drink. They'll say “What do you like?”, “Give me something fruity or sweet”, or “Surprise me”. Then I pause, look around at the bottles (as if for inspiration), then start to make my go-to cocktail.

When I first started bartending I was taught a way of remembering the difference between a Bay Breeze and a Sea Breeze. A fellow bartender once told me his memory trick. “A
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Bloody Mary Brunch

by Brendan G January 9th, 2014| Ask the Bartender
party barWe are hosting a brunch, and I want to provide a Bloody Mary bar for our guests.  Besides providing celery and green olives, what other garnishes would be interesting additions?

The options for an interesting and unique Bloody Mary bar are quite numerous. First with the standard ingredients, there are many choices. Don't limit yourself to just options for the garnishes. Flavored vodkas like citrus, pepper, and bacon are readily available. Also instead of using regular tomato juice or Bloody Mary mix, you can have V-8 or Clamato juices for a change of pace. Offering different type of hot sauces
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Familia Camarena Tequila Reposado

by Jason Lightner January 7th, 2014| Liquor
agave n hillsIt's a new year, and that means new experiences, new flavors, and new endeavors. I hope our readers' holiday celebrations were both fun and rewarding, and that your new year was festive and safe.

We're going to begin 2014 right, with a flavorful tequila six generations strong, with a history dating back 250 years: Familia Camarena Tequila Reposado.

From the Camarena legacy page:

"For six generations, we have taken great care in preserving the invaluable resources of this important region, practicing sustainable farming and taking a long-range approach to growing quality agave. As part of our family's commitment to

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Whiskey Sour

by Brendan G January 3rd, 2014| Cocktails, Mixed Drinks
shakersSour mix is a great ingredient to add much flavor to a cocktail. Depending on the base ingredient it is combined with, your result can either be sweet or tart. But it can also be a drink killer, because used in the wrong proportion, you have nothing but a candy sweet, sticky mess on your hands.

Sour mix is used in many classic cocktails like a collins, daiquiri, or a margarita. But it is also used in countless popular others, such as Amaretto sour, Midori sour, Long Island Iced Tea, Sour Apple Martini, and a Whiskey Sour.

There is often a
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Jim Beam Black

by Jason Lightner December 31st, 2013| Liquor
jim beam pdHaving a storied history with Jim Beam already, I'll admit I was a bit reluctant to even venture near another bottle of Beam's finest. The Clermont, Kentucky-produced spirit hasn't left me with the best of impressions, mind you, and I've never gathered what I'd consider to be a good reason to give it a second chance.

And yet here I was, yet again, peering at a bottle of bourbon — not because I wanted to, but because I had to. Because it was required. The sort of company that I keep encompasses a wide variety of tastes and particular preferences. On
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Penn 1681 Rye Vodka

by Jason Lightner December 24th, 2013| Liquor
ryeAs a fan of traditional craftsmanship and a fan of locally-made products, it's sometimes a challenge for me to accept that the two are not always mutually exclusive.

When it comes to vodka, I like it Polish if possible. It's not that there's anything inherently wrong with vodka produced anywhere else, it's just that vodka was born in Poland and these guys know enough about producing vodka to not screw it up.

Try as I might, I can't think of a single thing that comes from Pennsylvania that I prefer. I was going to say cheesesteaks, but that's more centralized in
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Eggnog

by Brendan G December 20th, 2013| Cocktails
eggnog afThis holiday season I am tasked with making the perfect winter cocktail. Nothing says holidays more than a creamy glass of eggnog. Whether you choose the store-bought pre-made stuff, or prefer to make a homemade version, I have some ideas for you.

Other than the eggnog in a carton recipe, which is simple (buy eggnog, then add booze of choice), there are two recipes that I've used for homemade eggnog. One is a bit more labor intensive than the other, but for a holiday party, the detailed one is probably the way to go. The other is a quick version
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Bombay Sapphire East

by Jason Lightner December 17th, 2013| Liquor
gin n tonic It's been quite some time since we last talked about gin. I recall a time when I was hopelessly devoted to the striking botanical infusions of a wide variety of fine gin spirits, sampling nearly each one I happened upon. My favorite, still to this day, remains Hendricks Gin, which I wrote about over two years ago. The incredible aroma and flavor of fresh cucumber, married with the tantalizing bite of juniper, is unlike anything else I've sampled.

Today, my dear friends, we're getting back into gin. Feast your eyes, if you will, on the bright glow of
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Candy Cane Martini

by Brendan G December 13th, 2013| Cocktails, Martinis
xtini'Tis the season to be jolly. What helps someone get jolly more than a festive holiday cocktail ? There are many things that could go into creating a delicious Christmas themed drink. First we should think about the colors associated with the season. Red and green are the prominent colors of Christmas. Red is fairly easy to interject into a cocktail via cranberry juice or grenadine. But there are a few red colored liqueurs that may give you the effect you're looking for. Some of the more common are Campari, Alize, Sloe Gin, and After Shock Cinnamon Schnapps. There
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Del Maguey Vida

by Jason Lightner December 10th, 2013| Liquor
agave fieldSo a new Mexican place opened up shop in my area about a month ago. I'd wrongly assumed that this was going to be the week I got away from sampling new agave-based spirits and, instead, moved on to something a bit more wintery. Maybe next week.

This week brings us yet more mezcal to sample, as we look to the appropriately named Del Maguey Vida to lift our spirits and gives us something to tap into as we scarf down these rather excellent nachos. Del Maguey Vida is an artisanal mezcal, organically produced as what they call "single
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