The First Round Upset – March Madness

March Madness 1

It’s that time of year again! The time of year where I pretend to care about sports, and more importantly basketball, when all I really care about is gambling and looking at statistics. Or something. In any case, although my alma mater is already out of the running (it was not, sadly, a first round upset), I’m enjoying this wholeheartedly so far. Lots of upsets, lots of weirdness, and great close games.

So what better way to celebrate than to drink! Although this particular cocktail came out pretty well, its connection to March Madness is a bit of a stretch… Basketball… The ball itself… Round, and kind of orange… Oranges! And, well, that was it.

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The First Round Upset

  • 1.5 oz gin (I used this amazing gin we found in Prince Edward Island, which is smooth and not super-junipery. If you’re ever there, go here!)
  • 3/4 oz amaro (It was in a jar, but I swear that’s what it was)
  • 4 oz fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 3 dashes cardamom bitters (not pictured… reason to be discussed below)
  • orange peel

Combine elements in a mixing glass and stir. Pour out (strain if you haven’t strained the orange juice already) into a martini or rocks glass, and garnish with the peel for a little extra bitterness.

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Tasting Notes:

BN: I liked this! In the end, that is. I first pulled it together without the bitters (as pictured in the ingredients shot) and it was just a little too sweet. This may be because of the drink, but I actually have a sneaking suspicion it was because of the oranges. One of the ones I juiced was super red and I think a lot sweeter than you would normally want a plain orange to be (I don’t think it was a blood orange…). The drink needed something to cut that sweetness, and my thought went to the cardamom bitters I don’t generally use enough. When I added them in it was much better, and with a more complex flavor. Still would have liked a little more bite, I think, but it was a pretty nice drink overall.

PiC: This is very drinkable. It’s super tasty, but could maybe use a tad more punch. Maybe the orange that was used was a bit sweet? I do like it, though, and the aftertaste of the bitters adds nice complexity.

The Freebeard – End of No-Shave November

Free Beard 1I’ve somehow always missed No-Shave November, because I forgot to shave until a few days in, and that kind of defeats the purpose… But this year I remembered! I didn’t raise money for anything yet, but it was a fun experiment to see how much beard could be grown in a month, and the answer was a fair amount. But today is the last day, and unlike NaNoWriMo I actually got to the end, so I made a drink to celebrate the occasion.

I figured it should be something manly, and what’s more manly than scotch? I put some other things in there to keep it interesting (not that I would be opposed to just drinking the scotch…), and I called it the Freebeard because puns. It’s based off of a Rob Roy, sorta, but with a slight twist.

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The Freebeard

  • 2 oz peaty scotch (I picked Oban)
  • 1 oz triple sec
  • 6-7 dashes rhubarb bitters
  • orange twist for garnish

Combine all ingredients (except for the orange peel) in a mixing glass over ice. Stir, and strain into a chilled glass. Garnish with a twist of orange.

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Tasting Notes

BN: I liked this a lot more than I planned to. The flavors actually melded pretty well, and it wasn’t too orangey. I was a bit worried about the rhubarb bitters because they smelled like medicine, but the taste was weirdly completely different. Hurray for scotchtails!

PiC: I suspected from the start that this would not be the cocktail for me, and though I could tell it was a good cocktail it is not something I’d go drinking. That said, the Oban was a key choice here, as it was smooth but added a really good smokiness that even I appreciated, and if I had to drink something this strong, this might be it.

The Starting Pistol – The Kentucky Derby

A fitting title for a first post, really. Welcome to the Boozy Newsie! I’m your host, the Boozy Newsie (bet you didn’t see that coming, did you). This blog has one purpose, and one purpose only, which is: drinking. Drinking disguised as artistry, experimentation, and relevance. I’ll be making drinks based on something or other that’s happened or is happening, whether a news story or a holiday or a sporting event. So go ahead, toast to current events! Keep watching this space for new and inventive cocktails, ranging from basic to overly complex, depending on how fancy I decide to pretend to be on any particular day. I want to have fun playing with alcohol (and drinking it afterwards), and you can follow my progress in this space.

So where do we start? Where else but the Kentucky Derby! A horse race that got its start in 1875, it’s the time when everyone decides they know something about odds and thoroughbreds and the hand height of horses. They wear fancy hats and put money down and cheer when animals with crazily stupid names beat other animals with even stupider names. My favorite? I’ll Have Another, who won in ’12. A horse after my own heart.

Speaking of which, on to the alcohol. As you might know, the classic Kentucky Derby drink is a mint julep, served ice cold in a frosted tin mug, and you sip between drags on your pipe, adjusting your bolo tie, and fending off would-be admirers who keep calling you “The Colonel.”

This year, I decided to start it off with a variation on the classic that I’m calling the Starting Pistol. It’s a little fruitier than the original, and has a little more interesting spice to it.

Starter's Pistol Ingredients

The Starter’s Pistol

  • 2 1/2 oz bourbon (I use Woodford Reserve, but any will do. Except Jack Daniel’s.)
  • 1 tsp powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp water
  • 6-10 mint leaves
  • 3 strawberries, sliced thinly
  • 7 shakes of Scrappy’s Cardamom Bitters
  • lime juice to taste

The Finished ProductThe preparation is essentially “put it all in a glass.” Mix the water and sugar in the bottom of a rocks glass, effectively making a quick simple syrup. Then, muddle in the mint leaves and strawberries. Smash ’em up real good. Then pour in the bourbon and the bitters, and finally get some ice in there too. Stir it up to make sure everything’s mixed, and you can top it with lime juice (I forgot this, and it still tasted pretty good), and some more mint and a strawberry (slice a thin wedge out of it and stick it on the side of the glass) for a garnish.

And voila! Now you can accompany your random horse bets with a little alcohol — because that always helps decisions!

Tasting Notes (provided by yours truly and my trusty assistant/partner in crime):

BN: This was a little less flavored than I was hoping; you could definitely tell the cardamom was in there, and it added a lot, but despite the massive pile of mush at the bottom of the glass, I was missing the strawberry and mint flavors. It could have been, in part, that it was hard to swirl around the mash once the ice was in the glass, preventing too much spreading of the ingredients. Still, it was a nice refreshing experiment, and it certainly looks nice.

Partner in Crime: This was pretty strong, so if you like that sort of thing, it’s probably pretty good. I don’t, so I mostly just tasted the whiskey…

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