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Last minute cocktail help?


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#1 kaseijin

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Posted 27 January 2012 - 08:18 AM

Foolishly entering an original cocktail competition at the San Antonio Cocktail Conference...very last minute, spur of the moment, etc.

I was thinking of making a drink inspired by an Old Pal: rye, canton ginger, either campari or aperol, dash of homemade aromatic bitters...thinking of lemon peel for garnish. Maybe flamed orange would be better? I also have some pretty boss homemade brandied cherries, but that seems like it would be overkill.

My question, then: what can I do that would really make a combo like this sing? What could I add? What sort of inventive garnish might be neat? Should I use regular rye (they have Russel's Reserve on the list) or overproof (they have Wild Turkey 101)?

#2 Brian Robinson

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Posted 27 January 2012 - 08:25 AM

I'd try the ovenproof, as it could bring out some great flavors. Do you have Cynar? I've found that to be a great deviation from Aperol or Campari. I'd go with the lemon peel, as it will surely brighten it up nicely.
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#3 kaseijin

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Posted 27 January 2012 - 02:55 PM

After tasting some tests side by side, I totally agree -- overproof it is!

The Cynar version tastes pretty great, but I worry some about the color. The Campari has such a nice, striking color to it. I worry some about the Canton, too -- it feels....cheap? to use Canton.

What could I maybe use instead? Something equally sweet. Agave nectar? Demerara syrup? Maybe instead of an ounce of Canton, 3/4oz Cocchi Americano and 1/4oz of.....something?

#4 Brian Robinson

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Posted 27 January 2012 - 04:27 PM

3/4 Cocchi and 1/4 Maurin would be neat, although that would be more tangy than sweet. Or maybe do a citrus simple syrup.

Or if you've got access to it, The King's Ginger is a great alternative to Canton, and a bit more upscale.
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#5 jcbphd

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Posted 27 January 2012 - 04:33 PM

Not sure if it's available in your area, but The Big O is a tasty ginger alternative. In any event, don't feel cheesy using Canton. I know a guy who used both Canton AND St. Germain in a cocktail and wasn't run out of town on a rail! :tongue:
Temperance, like chastity, is its own punishment. ~Four Vines "The Peasant"

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#6 Brian Robinson

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Posted 27 January 2012 - 04:41 PM

Well, not by the amateurs. But the pros sure took umbrage!
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#7 jcbphd

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Posted 27 January 2012 - 04:53 PM

Umbrage...why that's a fitty-cent word, Robinson!
Temperance, like chastity, is its own punishment. ~Four Vines "The Peasant"

Ça descend la gorge comme le bébé Jésus en culottes de velours.

You may be deceived if you trust too much, but you will live in torment if you do not trust enough. ~Frank Crane

#8 kaseijin

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Posted 27 January 2012 - 06:41 PM

If our hosts don't mind me using their kitchen, I could whip up a ginger citrus simple before the event. That's certainly a possibility, and it sounds like a good one...

I'm probably overthinking this, though. I'm an enthusiastic amateur who makes a lot of home cocktails and has read a lot. There are going to be a lot of pros at this thing, so it's not like I'll win anyway -- I should just make a cocktail I can be proud of.

#9 Brian Robinson

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Posted 27 January 2012 - 06:47 PM

I'm an enthusiastic amateur who makes a lot of home cocktails and has read a lot. There are going to be a lot of pros at this thing, so it's not like I'll win anyway --

Pshaw.
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#10 Evan Camomile

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Posted 29 January 2012 - 08:10 AM

More "amateurs" need to enter competitions. Not just in the spirits world either. It's amazing how some upstart can surprise "pros" who have gotten too comfortable with old habits.

Plus at this stage, you only have everything to win.

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#11 Jay

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Posted 29 January 2012 - 07:03 PM

Hey, hey, tonight is the last night of the SACC (well now, that sounds downright dirty) - after you get home, don't forget to let us know what you settled on and how well it went over!

#12 Jonathan D.

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Posted 29 January 2012 - 07:46 PM

My sister-in-law loves the Monteleone Cocktail, she always expects me to have the ingredients on hand to make her one when she visits. Usually that's no problem except for ginger ale. But I usually have a jar of ginger in the fridge so even under dire circumstances it works mixed with a bit of soda or tonic.

#13 kaseijin

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Posted 30 January 2012 - 07:00 AM

Overall, I thought SACC was a lot of fun. (It's just not possible to make that acronym into anything good, is it?)

It was pretty disorganized, however, but it's their first one...so some kinks are to be expected.

The cocktail competition itself was incredibly disorganized. Well in advance, we were provided a list of available base spirits and told we would have ten minutes to prepare a cocktail. We were informed that lemons, limes, and oranges would be provided, as would mint, the entire range of Fee Brothers bitters, crushed ice, large format ice, and Kold Draft, and that we needed to bring any bar tools, garnishing tools, any other fruits, and any drink modifiers. We were also to bring our own glassware for presentation. Sounds straightforward.

In reality, they had no citrus fruit at all -- just carafes of juice. No mint was found anywhere. There was no check on time -- several contestants spent up to 30 minutes doing things like hand-beating egg foams. They had tons of spirits that were not on the list (for example Scotch. No Scotch was on the list at all, and yet they had tons of it.) My station behind the bar had no under-counter, no cutting board... The fancy vintage glasses everybody brought ended up in a loose "go dig through it and claim your own" pile in a backroom bus bin. Lots of folks grumbling about that one...

Hope they have some of this ironed out next year.

As for my drink...I knew once they announced the judges that I probably wouldn't place at all. My drink was fairly boozy, and the judges were mostly local news anchors and the like... But it was a good drink, I was proud of it, and I could at least hold my head high.

I ended up doing a take on a Manhattan: 100 proof rye, Carpano Antica, Cynar, dash of some good absinthe, glass rinsed with Islay Scotch. Garnished with a lemon peel. I appropriately called it the "Eleventh Hour".

#14 kaseijin

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Posted 30 January 2012 - 07:09 AM

Next year, I'm just gonna take all my own spirits - base included - in small 3oz bottles.

#15 Larspeart

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Posted 03 February 2012 - 05:50 PM

Smart call. In ANY cooking/spirits competition, best to assume they have nothing (not even water), and bring EVERYTHING you'll need.

"Here's to the corkscrew - a useful key to unlock the storehouse of wit, the treasury of laughter, the front door of fellowship, and the gate of pleasant folly." - W.E.P. French

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#16 Jay

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Posted 14 February 2012 - 02:37 PM

As for my drink...I knew once they announced the judges that I probably wouldn't place at all. My drink was fairly boozy, and the judges were mostly local news anchors and the like... But it was a good drink, I was proud of it, and I could at least hold my head high.


You kept your dignity AND had a quality drink to boot. I'd say you won that contest after all, Kaseijin!

Did your drink have only a rinse of Islay scotch because you needed to down the actual shot yourself in order to deal with the pandemonium? :laugh:

#17 Larspeart

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Posted 14 February 2012 - 03:55 PM

After tasting some tests side by side, I totally agree -- overproof it is!



No, no. Brian CLEARLY said you should use an 'ovenproof' one.


:wave2:

"Here's to the corkscrew - a useful key to unlock the storehouse of wit, the treasury of laughter, the front door of fellowship, and the gate of pleasant folly." - W.E.P. French

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