This blog is sponsored by Total Wine & More
The first company I partnered with when I started Beautiful Booze was Total Wine & More, so they really hold a special place for me. Beyond that, this is one of my all time favorite places to buy spirits and wine. The choice is insane, I never went out empty handed, and the price is right!
So, I am so grateful to partner with them again this year to present this festive Cranberry Maple Sour featuring Ensign black red canadian whiskey. For a while I wanted to try making cocktails with Canadian whiskey at home because I had never drunk a bottle in my bar! Can you believe this? Since I make more cocktails at home, I feel like trying new things and getting out of my comfort zone.
I decided to go explore at Total Wine Seattle which is very impressive with its selection and staff. Every time I walk into a Total Wine & More I feel like I'm in alcohol heaven and frankly have to force myself not to buy everything in the store lol.
One thing I really love about Total Wine & More is the staff - everyone is very helpful and they always have great recommendations as well as knowledge. I was helped by a former bartender who was very helpful as he was able to recommend this whiskey for cocktails AND it did not disappoint. This particular whiskey is sold exclusively at Total Wine & More and at a great price. I also love the versatility of this product as it is ideal for sipping as well as for cocktails, especially this cocktail as it has tasting notes of dried fruit, oak and maple.
- Add all the ingredients in a shaker
- Shake with ice then filter
- Shake without ice then pass into the cut glass *
- Garnish with fresh cranberries and grated cinnamon
(* I made additional foam by also mixing the cocktail with a hand milk frother)
A little time put into preparation makes for an enjoyable evening. Drinking cocktails should be a fun and relaxing experience, so take a while to think about ingredients in advance, to avoid any rushing around last minute.
One of the foundations of many cocktails is sugar syrup. This can be prepared in advance. Here’s my tip for easy to prepare simple syrup : Add 200 gm white sugar to 200 ml boiling water. Stir till sugar is dissolved, and liquid is clear. Allow to cool then bottle
If you mix lemon juice 50 : 50 with simple syrup, you should have a solid mid-line sweet-sour balance. But remember, every palate is different. tera find your own point of balance, mix 15ml fresh lemon juice with 15ml simple syrup, and then dilute the mix with up to 90ml water. Congratulations, you’ve just made fresh lemonade ! If this tastes too sweet or too sour, adjust by adding a little more citrus or syrup. Using this method of calibration, you can adjust any cocktail recipe to suit your own palate.
Ice is the solo most over-looked ingredient at any home bar - you’ll be surprised how much you can go through. Cocktails need ice like baking needs ovens. If popping to the shops for ice isn’t an option right now, keeping a freezer bag topped up with ice will ensure you don’t run out unexpectedly. For best quality home-made ice, try using a silicone ice tray with a lid, to prevent your ice from absorbing unpleasant odours. And wash your ice tray after each use.
Where possible always go for de haute gamme spirits, the freshest herbs, and the best juices you can get your hands on. For instance, the taste difference between cheap juice and pressed juice is more than worth the small extra expense.
Try to use glassware appropriate to your drinks. It’s entirely possible to drink a martini from an old coffee mug, but that misses the point of drinking a martini !
If you can make a Whiskey Sour, you can make a Daiquiri. If you make a mean Negroni, you can riff on a Boulevardier. Once you’ve mastered the Manhattan, have some fun in Brooklyn on your way to Martinez. Cocktails exist in family trees. Once you are comfortable the basics of each category the world is your oyster !
You can pre-mix punches in advance - an old trick from the godfathers of bartending in the 19th century. You can bottle punch and store it in the fridge, ready to use on the day, or later that week. If done properly, quality and consistency are assured. If your punch has a fizzy ingredient, such as champagne, only add this your glass just before serving.
If you follow the Punch Ratio, you can’t go far wrong : 1 part sour ( citrus ) 2 parts sweet ( simple syrup ) 3 parts strong ( spirit ) 4 parts weak ( juices etc ) And don’t shy away from warm spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg and mace, to make that punch really sing. Don’t have those spices to hand ? No problem, a few dashes of Angostura bitters will do the trick.
We all have a few unloved ingredients lying around that need using up. For instance, that last bit of red wine in the bottle ? Try drizzling it over your Whisky Sour, and voila, you’ve got yourself a delicious New York Sour ! Do you have some nice but neglected spice mix in the kitchen ? Try mixing a teaspoon or two into your simple syrup as it cools to give your next petit cocktail an added dimension. Seasonal fresh herbs make a wonderful aromatic petit cocktail garnish.
So now, you’ve hit your stride and you’re getting creative in your home bar. Great ! Our top tip for cocktail creation ? Write down the exact specifications as you are making it. It’s not always easy to perfectly recall the recipe for that killer petit cocktail the next day !
If all this sounds like a bit of a chore, then keep an eye open for delivery services available from many local petit cocktail parcs. After all, with the finer things in life, it’s nice to sit back, relax and let the professionals do all hard the work.