Monday, October 28, 2013

Devil's Kiss made with AGWA Coca Herbal Liqueur

I recently tried my hand at the Devil's Kiss, made with AGWA Coca Leaf Liqueur. This was suggested to me to be a great option for Halloween, considering the spooky green glow AGWA gives off when it is frozen for at least four hours.

Now, I'm not going to pretend to be a master mixologist here. The Devil's Kiss is simply a shot of frozen AGWA. The catch is that you are supposed to bite into the lime wedge before shooting it. I'm sure you all already know what happens when you bite into a lime wedge, right? Exactly, no scurvy for you! But seriously, that mega citrus rush went very well with the sharp herbal flavors of the AGWA while you feel an intense spirits cleansing of your palate. The 30% alcohol seemed even a little more potent than that.

AGWA has some very interesting flavors, very complex with all the herbs. And lime is a natural companion. Definitely a shot I think would be popular on a holiday like Halloween. Watch out for the "AGWA Buzz" though!

Below is the professional photo. Above is mine. Which do you like better?

Saturday, October 5, 2013


I was recently asked if I'd be interested in checking out DRAMBUIE and possibly trying a cocktail or two. Of course I said yes. I decided to create a cocktail invented by Art Of The Drink's Anthony Caporale, one known simply as FALL DRAMBUIE.

DRAMBUIE's history dates to 1746 and Prince Charles Edward Stuart. The Stuarts were no longer in power and he was being chased across Scotland by the King. Highland Clans including Clan MacKinnon aided his escape, and as a gesture of thanks, the Prince gave his personal liqueur to them to pass down from generation to generation.

While you go read the rest of the story, about registering a trademark and perfecting cocktails and bringing DRAMBUIE to market, I'm going to get started with this recipe. I couldn't find a picture to try to copy/outdo, so I had to used my imagination a little. I'm sure you'll let me know what you think.

You'll also read that one of the main ingredients in this cocktail is pumpkin beer, a style that I have not been so friendly to and have gone as far as calling for a ban because of my hatred. However, my good friends at Dogfish Head Craft Brewery make one of the better versions in their Punkin Ale, so that's what I went with for this recipe.


In a tall glass, mix over ice...

1 1/2 Parts DRAMBUIE Liqueur

4 Parts Pumpkin Beer

1 Dash Orange Bitters

Orange Peel Garnish

What an interesting blend of pumpkin beer spices and the herbal and honey flavors from the DRAMBUIE! Nicely sweet with just enough balance from the bitters. The honey flavors are very distinct and really work in harmony with DRAMBUIE's herbs and spices from the beer. The alcohol kick from DRAMBUIE's whiskey component along with the beer's carbonation also make this unique and fun. Flavorful, interesting beer cocktail!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Bolivian Mojito made with AGWA Coca Herbal Liqueur

I was recently sent a few samples of AGWA Coca Herbal Liqueur along with a handful of cocktail recipes to try. AGWA is a 60 proof (30% alcohol) liqueur made with Bolivian coca leaves. It is produced in Amsterdam using a blend of 36 herbs and botanicals. Those herbal ingredients give off a green glow when AGWA is frozen; unfortunately you will not get to see the full extent of that glow here today as I didn't have time to completely freeze my sample. Next time, I promise! I decided to make the Bolivian Mojito first since I had most of the ingredients on hand (and since the Mojito is a staple here in Miami).

Bolivian Mojito

1.5 oz Frozen AGWA, 12 mint leaves, 2-3 lime wedges, 2 tsp. sugar, 7 oz. club soda, splash of rum.


Gently crush the mint leaves in a long glass. Squeeze the limes over the crushed mint, and add the sugar and crushed ice. (I measured out that approximately 5 Splenda packs is a 2 tsp. equivalent). Add the AGWA, your favorite rum (I used a white Brugal), and club soda. Stir well. Garnish with a fresh lime wedge and fresh mint leaves.

I knew I should have read the instructions before starting and I'm kicking myself for not freezing the AGWA first. However, the green was still pretty cool. First impression is a tangy, herbal flavor. The citrus sourness from the lime has a nice play with the sugar. The mint really pops in this drink as well. Overall, a very refreshing drink and an awesome twist on the traditional Mojito.

Compare the professional photo below with mine. Mine is good (I think) but they definitely used the frozen green glowing AGWA, and that is very cool!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Mount Gay Black Barrel Rum Launch in Key Biscayne

The setting? The Ritz Carlton in Key Biscayne. Um, yeah! Ed Roberts (don't bother--he's a Twitter Quitter) asked if I wanted to go and I didn't hesitate to say yes. We arrived a few minutes early, duh, just as the food was being served and the Mount Gay Black Barrel Rum was starting to be poured.

After grabbing a glass of the rum, Ed and I wandered around a little bit. The reception was in the Rum Bar of the hotel. The walls had actual bottles of rum in them, kind of the rum version of how some places show off their wines. Mount Gay bottles were showcased tonight. Cheers to the chick that wanted to know why everyone was taking pictures of that wall. She just didn't get it, I guess! Oh, and the main bar was really cool too.

About that time, five minutes later, I was ready for a refill. While waiting in line for too long for a little more rum, I bumped into one of my bosses, James from Soul Of Miami. Of course, he wanted to know if I was on the job. I nodded. Apparently his camera is in the shop. LOL. I don't have a camera that is shop-worthy, but you're still gonna love my pictures.

More rum, fruit, little pastries, other desserts. This was a dessert event to pair with the rum, apparently. Right about then, the DJ (who was very good) gave way to a live band. I almost got trampled by the salsa-ers but survived.

That's when I spotted Rob Burr from the Rum Renaissance. I introduced myself again, this time mentioning the interview he did with me for Total Wine, to jog his memory. He totally already knew it, somehow. Such a cool guy. We talked about the Mount Gay launch in particular, wondering about where this product stands in the market.

Rob told us that at some point, Mount Gay realized they didn't want to be the cheapo brand on the market, that they wanted to reignite their long heritage of making quality rums in pot stills. Rob called it "the pivot" in more than one sentence. So if you've been looking for those inexpensive Mount Gay bottles lately and struck out, it's because they've pivoted to a focus on quality--Black Barrel Rum. As Rob put it, Black Barrel Rum is "Rum With Balls!" That conversation was the highlight of the evening, and Ed and I left with an invitation to Rob's home rum bar with 1000 different rums and 1000 rum stories!

As for the rum, I had 3 or 4 shots to consider (in addition to the nice lesson the ladies pouring gave). Nice spicy aroma, very wood forward from the aging. A nice sweet caramel, butterscotch and vanilla flavor trio meets more of that wood from the barrels. Good spice, good heat. The finish was dry, flavorful and lasted for a long time (at least until the next sip). Very good rum. I enjoyed it a lot.

Since Ed and I didn't bring our dance partners, we left when it got crowded and hit the Lokal for burgers and beers in Coconut Grove. We didn't exactly park like champions and walked through some questionable blocks of stares. Haven't felt that uncomfortable since a few similar mis-parking episodes in certain parts of Manhattan a decade ago. Food was great. Bathroom art so good I didn't even use the facilities ( I forgot), but you'll need to wait for another day to see those photos. Ed had a sour beer from the "Secret Menu." I just grabbed something I knew I'd like. Was a good night all around!

Ritz Carlton Key Biscayne

Saturday, June 8, 2013


I fully expect DISARONNO to book me for some exotic getaway any day now. Seriously, Kyle! Anyway, coming off my Day in Capri cocktail, I decided to try what they seem to be suggesting as a "diet" cocktail. I mean, really? "Beach Ready"? Is that because they call for Splenda as an ingredient? LOLOLzzzzzzzzzz.

DISARONNO Skinny Sour is designed to make you think you're on a beach in St. Bart's. Since I live in Florida, that is probably a fairly simple mind game. But I'm here to help you take this trip for yourself, cocktail in hand.

I tripled up on this recipe since my previous cocktail was a little short on volume. My wife thought it was the same as the Day in Capri cocktail I made for her a month ago. Though I disagreed with her (not enough to be stupid, though), I certainly see just how powerful the flavors of the DISARONNO are. Add in the same lemon juice, and compare the simple syrup with the Splenda and yeah.

Anyway, another really good cocktail to try out. Note: I garnished with a strawberry, then let that strawberry float in my drink along with a lemon slice garnish these guys showed in their photo (see below).

Which picture is better? Yeah, I know!


1 ½ ounces DISARONNO
1 ounce Fresh lemon juice
1 packet artificial sweetener
Combine all ingredients.  Splash of club soda to top, then garnish with a cherry.
St. Bart’s synthesizes French, West Indian, Creole, Italian and Asian influences to produce the most alluring, lavish and diverse travel destination. Prepare to dabble in the arts, music, festivals and holidays – DISARONNO’s simple and skinny choice keeps you beach-ready and in top shape year-round.

Monday, May 20, 2013

DISARONNO Day in Capri Cocktail

My wife, mother-in-law and I took a staycation yesterday afternoon compliments of DISARONNO and their new destination cocktail line. Their agency thought I might want to try making a cocktail or two devised with luxurious vacation spots in mind.  I decided we'd go to Capri and see how we liked it. There are three other recipes I have my eye on as well.

You should have seen the look when I got out the booze at around noon and took it outside with me. Of course I just wanted to take the perfect photo and have good light. Check out my photo above and critique it against their picture below. If I had it to do over again, and I probably do, I'd have used a different glass, I'd have made more so I could fill the glass, and I'd have used more thyme garnish. But oh well, still looks pretty nice.

As for the drink itself, it was freakin' delicious. You could really taste the amaretto, but the fruity apricot really kicked the drink up a notch. It was a little too sweet, even with the lemon juice, and that was the comment my wife had as well, so I knocked that sweetness down with just a little extra lemon juice and it was absolutely perfect! Super refreshing! One last comment... I used Appleton Estate Reserve Rum in place of the Bacardi.

Here are the recipe, instructions and reason this is a DISARONNO destination.

DAY IN CAPRI – Capri, Campania, Naples, Italy
1 ounce DISARONNO®
1 bar spoon apricot preserves
½ ounce BACARDI® 8 Rum
¾ ounce lemon juice
½ ounce simple syrup
Shake ingredients and strain over ice in a rocks glass; garnish with fresh thyme.
This island off the south side of the Gulf of Naples hearkens back to the tradition of the Roman Republic. DISARONNO maintains its Italian roots with this destination, an attractive and popular space for European artists and intellectuals which saw the likes of Claude Debussy and Graham Greene. 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Hennessy New Year's Eve 2012

No, I'm not asleep (people don't sleep standing up). And I'm not even drunk. I'm just in love! And if sipping Hennessy cognac out of plastic sample glasses is wrong, I don't wanna be right!