Medium of Mixology dives into the creation of cocktails from the perspective of a visual artist. For each drink we look at presentation, taste, lasting appeal, and value to reproduce for guests to your home or your business.
So, earlier this year I picked myself up a Nintendo Switch and played through the most recent installment in the now 32 year old franchise “The Legend of Zelda; Breath of the Wild.” The open world adventure game gives lots of room for varied play styles through an elegant story. However one particular moment in the game stood out to me, it was the side quest in helping a bar tender create a drink known as the “Noble Pursuit” aka (in the game) the perfect drink.
As the game is designed to hit a demographic of both young and old it is described rather vague, leaving lots of room for interpretation. The only clues you get for flavor are in the line “The light, sweet taste…the cool sensation from each sip…it’s like drinking distilled motivation!”
In designing this drink I went through several iterations based on different aspects of the game’s desert region (where the drink is created/served) as well as the local ingredients for food in the game. Most notably for a cocktail I thought about the two common fruits in the game the “Hydromelon,” “Palm Fruit,” and “Volt Fruit.” The hydromelon has the appearance of a spherical watermelon, so I played with using the Japanese liqueur midori on my first few mixes. My second attempt was pulling from the Palm Fruit which was more or less a coconut (so coconut rum), which also proved to me unsuccessful). More commonly however, in the game’s desert you will find a volt fruit growing on a cactus. The volt fruit has the appearance of a cross between a pineapple and a lychee berry, so I thought a tropical pineapple juice base would be ideal. From there I took a look at the shelves on the bar for the shapes and labels of the bottles. None of them had any writing on them so I had to interpret from there as well.
After several unsuccessful attempts with mixing fruit flavors I ended up going for something that more ties to the original description of the cocktail. It is said to be “notably very strong” which I took to just mean “has alcohol.” As part of the side quest you have to carry a large block of ice across the sand, so it’s requirement of “a HUGE amount of ice,” wanted me to use one of my large ice cubes. Outside of that I was looking for something sweet and light on the palette, while maintaining a cool and refreshing flavor.
So, for the MoM version of “The Noble Pursuit” you’re greeted with a foamy golden color (similar to that of the game’s sand) and the aroma is a mild spicy ginger. On first sip you’re greeted with a little sweet foam from the shaken pineapple juice. On the mid palette you get a bit more of the ginger with your choice of bitter peaking through. On the finish you get the spice of the Jagermeister under the sweet brandy and ginger liqueur. As it settles you’re reminded of the alcohol as it warms you and motivates you to journey across the great desert!
Thought it may not be made of many “local Gerudo Ingredients” it’s a cocktail worthy of the name “The Nobel Pursuit.”
Alcohol Taste Rating: 6/10
Overall Rating: 8/10
The Nobel Pursuit (Loz: Breath of the Wild)
1 oz Ginger Liqueur
2 oz Pineapple Juice
1/4 oz Jagermeister
1 oz Brandy (or Cognac)
3 Dashes Aromatic Bitter (Preferably something floral)
Shake all with ice, and strain into a rocks glass over one HUGE ice cube.
So one product that has been on my long term “to try” list is the Spanish made: Licor 43. It is a 31% ABV (62 Proof) liqueur with a rich golden color and a slightly oilier viscosity than I was expecting. It’s on par with a thinned out Gran Gala by comparison when I poured it from the bottle.
On the nose it has very distinct fruit notes (perhaps mandarin oranges?) and is paired with a warm vanilla. In it’s flavor it is predominantly a vanilla liqueur, but you are greeted with a bouquet of sweet citrus, be fore it mellows into a flavor very similar to a melted vanilla ice cream.
Licor 43 is a unique product that you likely won’t find a matching flavor for elsewhere. It goes down super smooth, and leaves you with a warm sensation of a homemade cookie. I’d be interested in mixing this with various whiskeys or a neutral spirit like vodka in order to complement it’s rich flavor. Perhaps the use of a cinnamon or maple syrup would do it justice.
Overall I’d say its a 7/10 for my personal use. I was expecting a little more of a burn, and a little less sweet, but it is overall a decent liqueur for the price.
Better than 42, but not the answer we were looking for.
So earlier in the week I found myself craving some apple brandy (or at least the blend that is Applejack). It’s been almost 4 years since I last had some, and despite being a little over my current budget I decided to pick some up. After trying a few new brandy cocktails from my recipe book, this one jumped off the page as a good choice for a hot summers day (when it’s still spring).
Like most drinks shaken with pineapple juice the final pour creates it’s own unique frothy garnish. The drink begins with a light and sweet apple aroma, but it is very subtle. For the taste profile it begins with a similar light apple flavor that the aroma presents with, moves to complex pineapple juice on the mid palette, and finishes with the “grain spirits” flavor from the Applejack’s blended component. The finish is really the most complex and re-inviting flavor. Applejack as a whole doesn’t actually contain a ton of apple brandy, and it instead feels almost like a weak whiskey than a complex flavored brandy. I have found that in other recipes that add a little syrup and a little more citrus bring out the apple flavor a lot more, so a variation on this with a half ounce of lemon juice and a half of simple syrup could round out the cocktail a bit more. As is though it’s not a bad cocktail, but it does have room to improve. At the very least it needs 3 dashes of bitters rather than 1.
I had thought for sure I had lost this recipe, and then I found it sitting in the drafts for the blog and I was pleasantly surprised. So picking up another bottle of bottom shelf blue raspberry vodka, I knew it was time to remake this drink for a new post.
In my continued efforts to create a set of 4 distinct cocktails based on the Avatar: The Last Air Bender series. Previously I brought you Uncle Iroh’s Pai Sho Earth Tea, and today the series continues, with the “Water Tribe’s Frozen Vodka Blizzard”. Designed to feel like an iceberg floating onto of cartoon blue waters this is a great summer drink to cool off and get tipsy at the same time.
A refreshing blue color makes for an inviting modern style cocktail. The smell is strong of the candy blue raspberry flavor of the vodka. Your first sip will begin with the cool ice on top (not a lot of flavor comes through initially). The cocktail hits to a tart flavor on the mid-palette thanks to the cranberry and lemon juices. Then the finish is where you’re punched with the candy blue raspberry with very little alcohol burn (as it seems more sweet).
Like the other drinks I’m working on for this series it’s mostly about the look and a bit less about the taste. That said however, this is a great starter for the 4 cocktails. Despite the volume of vodka it’s a very sweet and refreshing cocktail and is easy to toss together larger batches for a party. Just be sure you bring your trusty boomerang with you.
Alcohol Taste Rating: 3/10
Overall Rating 8/10
Water Tribe’s Frozen Vodka Blizzard
3 oz Freezer Chilled Blue Raspberry Vodka
1 oz Cranberry Juice
1/2 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Blue Curacao
1 oz Simple Syrup
2 Dashes Orange Bitters
(Optional: Additional 1/2 oz Blue Vodka)
Combine all ingredients in a blender with ice. Blend until ice is broken into very small pieces. Serve in a pint glass. Optional Float additional 1/2 of Blue Vodka
You know how sometimes you’re just in the mood for something. Well, today I was in the mood for some brandy. It is that mood which lead me to find the “Alpine Glow” which according to my records is a drink I’ve actually made once before (just not for the blog).
Like many modern cocktails the name makes pretty much no sense in regard to the presentation, the color, or the aroma of the cocktail, but that shouldn’t stop you from trying it. This is also not really a brandy drink as much as it’s a rum drink with brandy, but hey being rum biased myself I’m perfectly fine with that.
With the case of many tiki style drinks the float of rum causes the flavor to shift halfway through the drink. A visually pleasant sandy brown (which may change with the use of a red dyed grenadine) with a dark floating section of the rum with a lemon twist is very inviting for a short glass. It’s aroma is dominated by the rum, but if you squeezed your twist it should bring some citrus aroma to that as well. Your first half of the drink will greet you with a sweet tropical rum with an aftertaste of brown sugar (which is impressive for a drink that doesn’t contain any). After you’ve sipped off most of the dark rum float and cleansed your palette with some crackers, that’s when the real taste comes through. It starts with a sweet orange, hits a general sweet and mostly indistinguishable taste on the mid palette (likely rum and sweet/sour), and finishes with a citrusy brandy flavor. Even with the float this is a cocktail for those who’s palette leans on the sweet side. Since starting this blog I’ve always leaned sweet, but I do appreciate the complexity of something like an old fashioned or a Manhattan. However, this drink plays right into my love for sweet things, especially on a warm day. It may be far from perfect, but I’m actually surprised I haven’t included it on my regular menu (as it contains many common ingredients). So is the “Alpine Glow” worth it? Yes and no. It doesn’t leave you with a great impact, but it IS a great drink for a midweek cocktail.
Alcohol Taste Rating: 7.8/10 then 6/10
Overall Rating: 8/10
1 1/2 oz Gold Rum
1 1/2 oz Brandy
1/2 oz Orange Liqueur
1/2 oz Grenadine
2 oz Sweet and Sour
3/4 oz Dark Rum
Shake all except garnish and dark rum. Strain into an iced tumbler. Float the dark rum and garnish with a lemon twist.
I have been working on this drink design almost as long as the blog has been in existence (about 4 years?). While it has gone through several significant changes over the years, I’m finally ready to present it as another MoM original! It was my purchase of Heering Cherry Liqueur which allowed for the final breakthrough in making this drink possible. It’s sweet but strong taste of fresh cherries is what gives this layered shooter it’s distinct color and flavor.
So unlike many of the drinks on this site, this one is a bit more ingredient specific. While I’m sure you could substitute one ingredient for another, I feel it would be a disservice to yourself or your guest to cheapen out on anything here. Like most layered cocktails and shots the presentation on this drink is top notch. For a layered shot you’re only aroma will really be your top layer, so in this it’s the Kraken Rum (but since that’s my favorite you’ll see no objections for me). Shots go by quick, so tasting notes are a little tough. You’ll get a hit of rum, followed quickly by mild cherry, and a nice finish of sweet raspberry. I find that the key to a great shot is one that doesn’t burn all the way down and make you hate yourself. The Heart of Darkness starts pretty mild (as far as layered shots go) and remains pleasant the whole way down. If you’re looking for something for your next party to impress your friends with, give this a try. Especially if you’re wary of trying a layered drink (as the raspberry makes the daunting task a breeze).
Alcohol Taste Rating: 6/10
Overall Rating: 8.8/10
Heart of Darkness (Shot)
1/4 oz Sweet Lime Juice
1/4 oz Chambord (or other raspberry liqueur)
1/4 oz Cherry Heering
1/2 oz Kraken Black Spiced Rum
1 Fresh Raspberry
In a (modern style) shot glass place a single raspberry. Slowly pour over each ingredient starting with the sweet lime juice and finishing with the rum. Serve with a tooth pick to spear the raspberry and eat it then down the shot.
“Stake through the heart, pretend I’m a vampire!” -David Mitchell
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I’m both proud and ashamed to say that this is the first cocktail with scotch that I’ve featured. I was privileged last year to be able to try a friend’s single malt scotch and it was one of the best things I’ve ever had! However it’s sort of a crime to mix it with anything, so that’s why we have blended scotch. My bottle of Teacher’s Highland Cream is a unique scotch due to its strong use of “peated malt.” A flavor that can really only be described as tasting like “burnt grain,” which is no where near as bad as it sounds. The scotch (while far from the quality of a nice single malt) does make for a fantastic whiskey sour.
So, flipping through my book of cocktails I was surprised to find this well balanced drink among many of the overly sweet or strong recipes. This particular cocktail had two other variants, but I felt that the one I chose to make represented the best of all three in terms of balance and presentation.
The cocktail itself is visually saved by the orange twist as its opaque and deep sandy brown isn’t the most inviting of colors. The aroma is a strong blast of fresh orange, which opens the imagination for what’s to come. The drink opens on your palette with a mild orange and whisky flavor. It moves to a sweet cherry and vermouth in the middle (however most of the cherry seems lost in this cocktail), and it finishes with the malt of the scotch beneath the complexity of the vermouth.
This is a uniquely complex cocktail which (at least for me) is overpowered by the use of the Teacher’s Scotch. I think by exploring other blended scotchs (likely with a more balanced flavor) a better cocktail may emerge. It’s certainly worth trying and I think worth making again, especially if you’re into whiskies. A dash or two of some orange bitters may also make this drink more well rounded, and a bit less sweet.
Alcohol Taste Rating: 7/10
Overall Rating 7/10
Blood and Sand
1 1/4 oz Scotch
1/2 oz Sweet Vermouth
1/2 oz Cherry Brandy or Liqueur (Cherry Heering)
1 oz Orange Juice
Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange twist.
I should also mention that I tried an alternate version of this cocktail which uses 3/4 of an ounce of the four ingredients and calls for a stir and strain. Apparently with a quick google search this is the “classic” version of the drink. It sports a darker color and slightly more balanced flavor, but the tasting notes are very much the same. The use of more fruit though makes for a better finish to the drink (having a bit to munch on).
Variation: Stir and Strain 3/4 oz of all ingredients into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange slice and a cherry.
Here’s another cocktail that I’m shocked I haven’t reviewed yet. The “Dark and Stormy” is one of only a few cocktail that is actually copyrighted. The specific copyright in this case requires you to use Gosling’s Black Seal Rum in order to actually call it a Dark and Stormy. Everything else is in violation of the copyright. So of course here at MoM we have to do it right.
Now because this drink specifies for Gosling’s Rum your options for “making it your own” are limited to your choice of ginger beer. For myself, I always go for the Fever Tree as it’s both smooth and potent with its gingers. If you’re looking for something comparable, I’d suggest Reed’s Stronger Ginger Brew.
As for the drink itself, it’s a rather inviting modern classic. The mix of fresh ginger and lime garnishes pair well with the dark amber of the rum. On the nose it leads with a the sweetness of rum and a familiar ginger (of what you might expect from a ginger ale). The taste begins mild and sweet, moves to a primarily ginger beer flavor, and finishes with a pleasantly aged rum with a subtle hint of the lime.
If you’re not super familiar or fond of ginger beer this drink might take some time to grow on you, but it is worth making for a bartender of any level as it will be requested at least once. This is a tough drink to judge as it’s so well known, but it does have it merits and faults. While you do get a nice simple cocktail that’s perfect for small party setting, it’s sharper taste can shy even experienced tasters away with the strong ginger flavor. While I wouldn’t keep it on my regular menu as a standard “go to” cocktail, I would certainly keep the ingredients on hand if I or any guest would be looking for something both mellow and adventurous at the same time.
Alcohol Taste Rating: 7/10
Overall Rating: 8/10
Dark and Stormy
2 oz Gosling’s Black Seal Rum
1/2 Tablespoon (about 1/4 oz) Simple Syrup
3/4 oz Ginger Beer
2 Lime Wedges
2 Slices Fresh Ginger (Optional)
Fill a rocks glass with ice. Add fresh ginger, rum, and syrup. Top with Ginger Beer. Squeeze limes over drink and drop them in. Stir well.
For the past month I’ve been wanting to highlight this cocktail, not only because it’s a strange combination of Mint and Cucumber, but it’s also quite possibly one of the best cocktails I’ve ever had (and knowing this blog, that’s saying something).
So as is the case with many of my favorite drinks, this one comes courtesy of Common Man Cocktails. Their more classic rendition of the East Side shakes the ingredients and strains out any of the vegetable partials, which to me seemed a bit wrong. So I opted for creating a smash style variation that I feel is far superior. Smash drinks in general will contain less common ingredients and will often leave the renaming chunks in the glass after muddling (hence the name).
This cocktail is really something amazing though. It’s taste reminds me of summer. It’s refreshing, colorful, and goes down smooth (regardless of your choice in gins). The mystery of handing someone a glass with cucumbers mashed into it is both inviting in it’s color and it’s curious differences. It has a strong smell of cucumber and gin, with very small hint of the mint (if you didn’t know it was there you wouldn’t know what you were smelling). The drink starts off sweet, moves quickly to a mild sour, and finishes with the complex blend of the gin, cucumber, and mint. I should really note here that the mint (while vitally important) doesn’t add a ton of it’s own flavor to the drink. Instead it acts as a way to cut through the more intense sour of the lemon, and round out the more “green taste” of the cucumber.
This cocktail goes well beyond just a “make it again” recipe, it now belongs on the menu. In fact it might be one of the highest rated cocktails I’ve ever reviewed! Although now I guess I need to start buying cucumbers on a regular basis now.