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Aug 31, 2013 12:44 PM

Top 5 This Year

To borrow a thread idea from another forum, what are the Top 5 you've had this year? Cocktails, whiskeys, gins: You name it. Pick a category that you've tasted at least five of in the last year and rattle off your favorite five.

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  1. Scotches
    Caol de isla 12
    Glenlivet French Oak 15
    Balvenie Doublewood

    1. Top 5 gins this year:

      Deaths Door
      Berkshire mountain Etheral
      Tanqueray 10

      8 Replies
      1. re: DrinkinLife

        How would you compare Broker's to the others? I'm running out of my mixing gin. Broker's comes by the handle and I've heard good things.

          1. re: alphanumeric

            JMF's post is good. I tend to use Brokers in any cocktail with a penchant for London dry style. I think it performs best with lime gin drinks like the G&T, Rickey, Gimlet, etc... I feel Plymouth is better for a Martini or Martinez.

            1. re: DrinkinLife

              So Broker's over Bombay dry? My London dry range is pretty limited, as New Western/American/whatever generally ends up getting taken home.

              1. re: alphanumeric

                I'd go for brokers for linden dry taste, proof, and value. It's about $17-19 for a fifth. But of course De Gusibus Non Disputatum.

          2. re: DrinkinLife

            All are nice gin's, and very different from each other.

              1. re: Bigjim68

                Citadelle is an excellent gin. I didn't care for it at first, but then came to really enjoy it. It's made by Ferrand cognac during the off season when they can't make cognac since cognac can only be distilled between mid-November when the first of the wines is ready, until the end of March. Then they close down and clean, take a bit of vacation, and start making Citadelle. Then in I think August they take another vacation for a month and get ready to make the cognac.

                Have you had the Citadelle Reserve? It is aged for six months in the Ferrand cognac c asks.

          3. Cocktails:

            Lolo Ono (means Crazy Good, as in Delicious) - El Dorado dark rum, Lemon Hart 151 Demerara rum, Lime juice, fresh Orange juice, Ginger syrup, Vanilla syrup, Cinnamon syrup, Angostura bitters

            Gold Velvet - Vodka, fresh Lemon juice, Pomegranate Grenadine, Vanilla syrup, Cinnamon syrup, Allspice syrup, Golden Velvet Apricot

            Reverie (see photo)- El Dorado 3 yr. White rum, Pineapple juice, fresh Lime juice, Honey syrup, fresh Mint

            Scotch Apple - slightly smoky Scotch blend, fresh Lemon juice, Honey syrup, Pomegranate Grenadine, Fuji or Gala Apple

            Bananas Foster - El Dorado spiced rum, El Dorado dark rum, Pomegranate Grenadine, Allspice syrup, Vanilla syrup, Angostura bitters, ripe Banana

            14 Replies
            1. re: JMF

              Have you heard of the Zombie, perchance? I think you might like it.

              The Bananas Foster sounds interesting. Any drink that isn't tacky and uses a whole banana is worth a shot. Care/able to share the recipe?

              1. re: alphanumeric

                The Bananas Foster drink actually uses only about 1-2" of banana. It's all about the balanced interplay between the rum, banana, and spices.

                Which version of the Zombie? I have recipes from eight different classic Tiki bars from the original Don the Beachcomber 1934, four other of the Beachcombers variations used at various restaurants created in 1937, '50, '56, '59, plus one from the Tonga Room '45, from South Sea's '70, and Beachbum Berry's "simplified Zombie" 2007. All are tasty, but with enough difference to be unique.

                1. re: JMF

                  Yes, I probably should have said 'real' (versus banana liqueur) instead of whole.

                  I was being facetious about the Zombie, alluding to the fact that your five heavily lean in the tiki direction. I figured you probably were more familiar with it than most. In truth, I haven't spent much time with it. Laziness and a rare combination of the necessary ingredients means it usually gets passed up in favor of something more doable. And as much as I respect the nuance that undoubtedly distinguishes tiki drinks, my fleeting encounters with them is not enough to dispel the notion that they're all variations on rum(s) and fruit juices.

                  1. re: alphanumeric

                    The Lolo Ono is a Tiki style drink. The others are not even close, even though some have spice syrups which are associated with Tiki drinks..

                    Tiki drinks do have a strong rum component, usually using several different types of rum. But, there are many that use gin, cognac, and even vodka. A huge amount have Pernod in them. One problem with old Tiki drink cocktail recipes is that they were designed to the tastes of the times. I don't care for sweet drinks, but I have followed some old recipes that had my mouth puckering. I literally tried several hundred old Tiki drink recipes over the past six months as I wanted to put a dozen onto the menu at some restaurants I consult to. Very few of them were ones I found palatable. I ended up not using as many as I thought and either adapted old recipes, or what for me was easier and I created new ones.

                    1. re: JMF

                      Hm. I stand corrected.

                      What was your conclusion from your samplings? Which came out on top? I'd certainly appreciate some guidance other than the handful of popular ones. How do you like Beachbum Berry's recipes? I have his Tiki+ app but haven't done much more than peruse the recipes.

                      1. re: alphanumeric

                        I've had 2/3 of Beachbum's classic recipes from his books. He has done an amazing job of digging up those old recipes. I have all of them in my data base, around 300. Over the past six months as I was consulting with bars and restaurants, doing their beverage programs, I would test out recipes, and critiquing the bartenders skills after trainings, by having them make me those recipes. I took good notes on each, but the notebook disappeared before I could get around to adding them to my data.

                        Beachbum's recipe, The Ancient Mariner is so good I put it on the menu at two places, giving him credit of course.

                        The Ancient Mariner– Beachbum Berry, 1994, his version of Trader Vic’s Navy Grog
                        1 oz. El Dorado dark rum
                        1 oz. dark Jamaican rum
                        3/4 oz. lime juice
                        1/2 oz. grapefruit juice
                        1/2 oz. simple syrup
                        1/4 oz. Allspice syrup

                        Shake with ice and strain into a hurricane glass, then top off with ice. Garnish with a mint sprig and scored lime.

                        The Painkiller is excellent, and I think it may actually be better tasting made with store bought orange juice over using fresh squeezed. I put that on several menu's as well. This is my version.

                        Painkiller – Soggy Dollar Bar, B.V.I., 1971
                        1-1/2 oz. El Dorado dark rum
                        1 oz. Coruba (or Myer's) dark Jamaican rum
                        4 oz. pineapple juice
                        1 oz. orange juice
                        1 oz. Coco Lopez

                        Shake all except spices with crushed ice. Pour into a tall glass or tiki mug, add crushed ice to fill. Sprinkle with grated cinnamon, freshly grated nutmeg, and small pieces of lime zest. Garnish with a scored lime.

              2. re: JMF

                Interesting list but how does a top five, even acknowledging this is an opinion, not have at least one "classic" cocktail on it? Maybe you meant to have a top five new and unique list? Maybe you could post an addendum with you top 5 classics for reference? Also, is the Allspice or vanilla syrup made with a dark brown sugar, turbinado maybe? I think the original dessert from Brennan's has dark. Maybe this could be a variation on what you posted.

                1. re: DrinkinLife

                  Why would one of my top five have to have a classic on it? Sure I love the Classics. Hundreds of them. But the question was what are my top five this year.

                  1. re: JMF

                    Can't a Manhatten or a Daiquiri, even thou you may have had a hundred of the them be the best? Maybe so or not. Can't imagine that if I have a old fashioned or Manhatten this fall with My Dad made with Pappy or Willet it won't make the top five. Thanks for the list though. Cheers. Sante.

                    1. re: DrinkinLife

                      I did not make it explicitly clear, but I had intended to inquire about your top five new [cocktails, spirits, etc.] of the year. If the question included old favorites, the list could easily turn into 'Top 5 of All Time'. Sorry for the misunderstanding.

                  2. re: DrinkinLife

                    No the syrups don't have turbinado/demerara sugar in them. White cane sugar. The rum provides all the molasses notes the cocktail needs. Have you had the El Dorado rums? They are great big aged demerara rums from Guyana.

                    1. re: JMF

                      No El Dorados yet but have read good things. What the best? Best Value?

                      1. re: DrinkinLife

                        The 12 and 15 are generally regarded as the best, with I think the 12 holding a slight edge. The 12 is what I have. I agree with JMF's description of 'great, big aged Demeraras'. I'm more into Jamaicans and agricoles, so the El Dorado 12 is a bit sweet for me, but still worth keeping around.

                        1. re: alphanumeric

                          Yes, a bit sweet, but great to use in a cocktail where you need sweetness to balance out sour or bitter components. The 12's price is amazing for the quality. Also, served on the rocks, as it dilutes a bit the sweetness goes down but the flavor opens up even more.

                          As for Jamaican's, I have been using Coruba dark Jamaican rum in cocktails where I want that Jamaican style rum, but on the dryer side. A Painkiller with 1.5 oz. Coruba and 1 oz. El Dorado dark or even the 12 is a mighty fine drink. But if you switch the ratios I find it a bit sweet, but most people like it better.

                2. Here are my top five Vodkas tasted this year:

                  5. :)

                  Yes! All those we're meant to be blank and yes, it is supposed to make you laugh your rear off! But seriously, if you can make a top 5 Bodka list you kneed to be instituionalized right? I mean we all need at most 2 and possibly none to nave a great Spirt Collection. By the way, I have Sobiski from Poland for its Rye grain base and its value. Hope this post make you smile, fume or otherwise eager to post a retort.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: DrinkinLife

                    Serious vodka drinkers could put together a top five that would be meanigful to them. I am not a vodka drinker, but I can easily taste the diference between vodkas and could put together a top five. Back when I was a full time food and beverage writer I had tons of vodka that I had never gotten around to opening and reviewing because I thought all vodka was basically the same. Then I spent a month actually tasting them. I had around 40 or so. They were very different.

                    1. re: DrinkinLife

                      There is merit to the view that all vodka is the same, and the TTB's specifications for it certainly don't ameliorate that popular belief. Because most of what we drink- be it spirits, liqueurs, or cocktails- is quite flavorful, vodka is relatively flavorless. However, gather a handful of diverse vodkas and perform a serious side by side and I think you'll find there are notable differences, subtle though they might be.