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Since I have become a serious scotch and heavy spirit fiend, I have been dabbling in classical cocktails a fair bit, both at home and when drinking out. One of my favourite things to do is to ask seemingly inexperienced wait/bar staff which scotches they carry. When I was in Québec City over the holidays, I asked three different barmaids in one bar what scotches they had, and I got three different answers. (To the bar's credit, all three options were great, and I even discovered a new scotch, St. Leger [pronounced "Saint-Léger" in French of course].)

In the more professional establishments, the scotch selection will be great, and they will know how to make many of the classical cocktails very nicely. One great touch that I have found from places such as Sidecar is the use of very large ice cubes in stirred drinks, so that the ice keeps your drink cold without it melting and diluting the drink too much. Determined to replicate the experience at home, I went scouring the web for large ice cube trays. Eventually, I found some forum threads where people were discussing how to make large ice cubes. (It seems that the pros have ice-making machines that make the large cubes. Can't do this at home...) Williams-Sonoma sells some nice 2" icne cube trays, and a company named Tovolo also makes these guys. I've learned that one trick to make clear ice is to boil my water and letting it cool down before freezing. Ideally, I should be doing this with distilled water, but I'm not a rich booze hound, I'm on the DIY side of things.

I'm a little lazy and I generally dislike giving money to these bloated W-S people, so I went around my kitchen looking for what I could use to make large ice cubes. I rapidly found quite a few viable options. None of them make ice cubes per se, but apparently round shapes are even better than cubes:

1) Tapered mini mason jar (4" high, 2" wide). This one is actually one of my best options, the only problem being that I only have one of these jars. I can't make ice fast enough with this yet )

2) Popsicle molds. The ice you make out of this is just double the size of a regular ice cube, whereas I'm aiming for an 8x coefficient, but it works in a pinch, since they're also meant to be frozen molds.

3) Finally, my best option. I'm simply making my ice in tall tapered glasses. Once the ice is formed, I bring the glasses out of the freezer, turn them upside down, and wait until the ice melts a bit and comes out. Them I put the cubes back in the freezer.

My next trial will involve freezing water in my whisky glasses, so I'll have to let the ice melt some more if I don't want it to push my drink out of the glass when I put it back in.
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* If you're not a big fan of Drambuie or the Rusty Nail, add a dash on Angostura bitters to your Nail--let's call it the Bitter Nail. Rounds out the flavour nicely.

* When getting lime zest, avoid getting in finger zest as well. If it bleeds, your drink won't be vegan anymore.
frandroid: YPG logo, Syrian Kurdish defense forces (Default)
I've decided that I'm going to post about alcohol once in a while, since it's a topic that I babble often about.

So, I've turned into some sort of whiskey drinker in the last few years. I'll write about whisky eventually, but first I want to write about whisky liqueur.

My first contact with whisky liqueur came when we visited Scotland, when I wasn't much into whisky yet. We visited Edinburgh, and in the castle's shop, they were selling whisky, of course, but they were also selling whisky liqueur. Basically, it's whisky that is infused with herbs. The particular kind they were selling was Glen Fiddich whisky liqueur, which I bought. Once I got back home, I drank the stuff straight, which is fine, and was quite tasty. My problem came when I decided to get more. Horror! LCBO doesn't sell Glen Fiddich whisky liqueur. It's deleted from the catalogue. (Incidentally, if you know of any bar in Toronto that serves it anyway, I would be indebted to you.)

I have gone a on whisky liqueur quest, and I have met two contenders on my way:

First, Drambuie. When I bought this, I learned that it is used to make a Rusty Nail:
1 part liqueur
3 parts whisky
cherry on top

Giddy with my find, I bought the largest bottle available... I still regret it. The stuff is foul on its own, and even in tiny quantities (1 part in 10) totally overpowers any whisky. I'm not a big fan of licorice, and this liqueur has a strong streak of it. Before I fully developed my distaste for this liqueur, I brought my bottle to a party, and offered to share it. Someone took me up on the offer a little too seriously, which I begrudged silently at the time, but now I'm glad for it. I still have half the bottle to go through.

I kept looking for more whisky liqueurs, but Drambuie really dominates the market. Eventually, I spoke to a vintages expert at the LCBO, and she recommended that I try out Glayva. The problem is, almost no store carries it, so after a quick search, I realized that I had to make my way to Canada's largest wine and spirits store, the Summerhill LCBO, which occupies a former train station built in 1915.

Thus I found it, and tried it at once. It has a subtle anise flavour, not overpowering but still central to the taste. It's also flavoured with cloves, honey, citrus fruits and the always mysterious "herbs". It's good on its own, but you can stretch it for much longer by having it as a Rusty Nail (I skip the cherry) with cheaper whisky; the flavour still fills the mouth and rounds off any edge the whisky might have. I have found that I can use it to dilute the taste of Drambuie:

1 part Glayva
1 smaller part Drambuie
2 or more parts whisky

It blends well with the Drambuie and rounds off its edge as well.

Next whisky liqueurs I'll try (i.e., they're easily available here in Toronto): Irish Mist, Yukon Jack

Desperately looking for:

If you know where I can get these in Ontario or Québec, I would love to hear from you!


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