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Casa Noble Crystal Tequila

by Jason Lightner November 26th, 2013| Liquor
shotsWinter is closing in quickly, and as quickly as you can say "jawn," this town will probably be under a good bit of snow. While we've still got dry ground, I figure it would be best to keep the tequila flowing while we figure out our holiday indulgences. After all, the holiday season is for rum-laced eggnog and Hot Toddies made with the finest of whiskies. It's also about family and good will and all that, but let's save the sappy reminiscing for another time, shall we?

"You can't make an omelette without breaking some eggs."


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Firefly Cider

by Brendan G November 20th, 2013| Cocktails, Mixed Drinks
firefly cider ingredientsOver the last few weeks, I've been writing about many of the new and different cocktails that are being made by using flavored vodkas. Besides a wide variety of fruit flavors now being produced, there are other areas to explore as well. There are candy flavors like red licorice, gummi, bubble gum, cotton candy or even glazed doughnut. Coffee flavored vodkas have also been popular for some time now, excellent for use in making espresso martinis. But another flavored vodka has emerged as a favorite, for either drinking straight, with a splash of water, or in cocktail form.

Firefly Sweet
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Ilegal Mezcal Reposado

by Jason Lightner November 19th, 2013| Liquor
oaxacaWhile imbibing and engaging in witty banter at a new local favorite of mine, an opportunity arose which I couldn't possibly afford to pass up. We've taken a look at both Ilegal Mezcal Joven and Ilegal Mezcal Añejo, but we hadn't yet had the chance to try out the middle child of the Ilegal family, Ilegal Mezcal Reposado.

For the uninitiated, Mezcal as a spirit is a close relative of tequila. Like tequila, it’s distilled from the roasted husks of a native plant; in Mezcal’s case it’s the maguey plant (a form of agave in itself). Mezcal is
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Sugar or Salt

by Dennis Mayer November 14th, 2013| Ask the Bartender
margarita pdMost margaritas can have a salt rim.  However, some restaurants offer a sugar rim on some of their margaritas.  If I'm making margaritas at home, how do I decide what type of rim to use?

That's almost entirely a question of personal taste, which is why your server would have offered you the choice. I'd say have whichever rim you want and call it a day, but that'd be a bit too easy.

Traditionally, the salt rim is the way to go. Salt and tequila are seen as flavors
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Jose Cuervo Especial Tequila Silver

by Jason Lightner November 12th, 2013| Liquor
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere are times when one has to choose between doing what's expected, and doing what's needed. Sometimes that choice can be difficult. Oftentimes that choice can be painful. In nearly every instance, making the choice between what's expected and what is needed, is what makes us who we are.

We could go down the list of reasons why Jose Cuervo is the least-favorable tequila maker in the world, according to a 2013 survey done of all the men in my household over the age of thirty, but it might be best to attempt to discuss the actual merits of
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Fireball Pie

by Brendan G November 6th, 2013| Cocktails, Mixed Drinks
Fireball4One of the more popular liqueurs on the market right now has to be Fireball Cinnamon Whisky. The spelling Whisky denotes the country of origin: Canada, Scotland, and Japan use the rare spelling. The rest of the world uses the spelling Whiskey for product labels and descriptions. Now that we have that cleared up, Fireball is a cinnamon flavored whisky based product from Canada. Many describe the taste as being similar to the Atomic Fireball candy, or Big Red chewing gum, followed by the slow burn of a whisky. It is also quite similar to another cinnamon flavored liqueur,
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Don Julio Añejo

by Jason Lightner November 5th, 2013| Liquor
mexican exteriorIt's a scary thought, and I'm afraid to admit it, but I think I might have a new favorite spirit on my hands. Tequila has handily and decisively taken over the liquor cabinet, leaving scotch in the dust as I haven't touched a dram in what seems like an eternity. I'd be sad about the lack of whiskey in my life if it weren't for the fact that I'm having way too much fun with tequila at the present time. I think it might be the versatility. The simple fact that tequila is great for sipping, mixing, and shooting
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Bloody Mary

by Brendan G October 30th, 2013| Cocktails, Mixed Drinks
bloody maryThe classic Bloody Mary is perhaps the most intriguing cocktail in the world -- intriguing, because of the drink's reputation as the “hangover helper”. Whether served with breakfast, brunch, or lunch, or merely as a way to help cope with the after effects of the prior evening's activities, there is nothing quite like a well made Bloody Mary.

The standard ingredients required to make a classic Bloody Mary are not questioned. They are vodka, tomato juice, tobasco sauce, prepared horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. It is the other ingredients that professional and home bartenders put in this cocktail, that
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As It Relates to Liquor and Cheesesteaks

by Jason Lightner October 29th, 2013| Liquor
sandwich n soupJust a few short moments ago I returned from a trip to one of my favorite spots in which to grab a cheesesteak in sunny Philadelphia — Chubby's Steaks on Henry Avenue. I couldn't even count the number of times I've visited this location; their steaks are cooked well, they've got a great beer selection, and even have Yuengling Lager on draft.

As I mentioned, I'm a frequent flyer at this place, but I've never taken the time to really examine their liquor selection. As it turns out, Chubby's has a wide variety of spirits and cordials behind the
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Coconut Rum

by Dennis Mayer October 24th, 2013| Ask the Bartender
coconutI'm trying to make summer last a little longer by serving tropical-style coconut drinks.  I always have used coconut rum, but I was wondering if it would be better to use plain rum and coconut water or coconut milk or some other coconut ingredient.

Almost certainly. Coconut rum, for the most part, is an inferior product, rendered with natural and artificial flavors. The most popular on the market, Malibu, is also a fairly weak product for the money you're paying, clocking in at 21 percent alcohol by volume (as compared to 40 percent and up for a normal rum.) Others
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Three Olives Whipped Cream Vodka

by Jason Lightner October 22nd, 2013| Liquor
whipped creamAs a brand synonymous with the Martini, Three Olives has gained a reputation for producing a reliable vodka with a great flavor, and deservedly so — their original offering is one of my go-to spirits for a vodka Martini whenever I find myself in an unfamiliar bar, which is quite often. The thing that most people don't realize about Three Olives, however, is their penchant for producing a wide variety of flavored vodkas as well; 23 in fact, up from 18 just two years ago when we tried their cake-flavored vodka. We're going to stay the course on
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What Is Moonshine?

by Dennis Mayer October 17th, 2013| Ask the Bartender
shine jugI always thought of moonshine as something made at home and that was strong but not all that enjoyable.  I've seen moonshine at my local package store.  This can't be the same thing, can it?

Yes and no... Moonshine is raw, unaged liquor, usually made from grain, which means in the cocktail world, it's closest to white whiskey (specifically white corn whiskey). And yes, it's almost always made at home, which makes it illegal. (Fermenting in a home setting is allowed to a certain amount; distilling is not, at least here in the U.S., where I'm writing. Whether it should
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