I’m a coffee cretin (percolator, Starbucks—incorrigible), but I’m a tequila novice newly entranced by this fine spirit. I was introduced to tequila, and its wilder cousin mezcal, in college when we knew only Cuervo. It was a rule between my freshman roommate, John, and me that a top never went back onto the bottle of tequila once opened. And because I unfailingly woke up in the dorm-room bed of some impossible sexy young woman after a bottle of tequila, I believed in the veracity of this rule. But we grow old, tastes develop, and hangovers now last considerably longer than the two or three hours they did in college. In the midwest, the adults were gin and whiskey drinkers, though my dad kept a bottle of Patrón on hand for anyone who might ask. So Read On »

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I’ve loved seeing the mutability of cocktails simply by changing the spirit during these Friday Cocktail Hour posts. This cocktail is in effect a Mint Julep only with rum, therefore called a Mojito. Of course what also distinguishes the mojito from the julep is the lime juice and sugar, the intense sweet and sour. So, does that mean it’s like a whisky sour with mint and rum? Yes, but no egg white. Or like a daiquiri without the mint? All of the above! Regardless, this is a fabulous cocktail to make in the summer when the mint is taking over the garden and the heat calls out for a cooling rum drink. Again, I love the effect of the pulverized mint, the powerful minty flavor it brings to the sweet/sour lime, and the vivid, good-for-you greenness. Old school Read On »

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Last week’s cocktail post, The Moscow Mule, allowed me to show off OYO, the awesome Columbus, Ohio, vodka by Middle West Spirits, but it also got me thinking about how cool ginger beer is. It also demonstrates how specific drinks are defined by the spirit used. The Manhattan, made with American whiskey, becomes a Rob Roy when made with scotch (not a “scotch Manhattan”). A Martini made with vodka becomes a Kangaroo (not a “vodka martini”). Swap out the vodka in a Moscow Mule and you don’t have a “rum Moscow Mule,” you have a Dark and Stormy. (I don’t know if this is an official cocktail, but it’s great from a taste standpoint, noted by a commenter: make a Dark and Stormy with Maker’s Mark instead of rum and you have a “Mark and Read On »

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By request and for my own curiosity, for my fascination with ginger beer, and most, my compulsion to SCREAM … indoor voice, Michael … deep breath … if you’re going to drink vodka, either admit you simply want to mainline alcohol (not a judgment! I’m there frequently myself!), or drink vodka that actually has flavor, such Ohio’s own OYO made from soft red winter wheat grown near its Columbus distillery. The Standard Bartender’s Guide, revised and enlarged by James A. Beard (originally published in 1940, before the Moscow Mule existed), instructs simply this: “Squeeze into a 12-ounce glass 1/2 Lime and drop in the Rind. Add ice cubes and 1-1/2 jiggers Vodka and fill with Ginger Beer. Stir and serve.” How easy is that?! (Verdict: cool, light, and very refreshing!) From the VTR menu: “Born of Read On »

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