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Blog

Liquor reviews, cocktail recipes, mixology trends, and seasonal ingredients. Includes cocktail tips and info on local whiskey, gin, vodka, beer, and liqueur.

Filtering by Tag: Rhine Hall

Girl Scout Cookie Cocktails, Part 1

Devin Kidner

Heads up, folks! If you haven't already, you can start ruining your New Year goal to lose weight and invest in Girl Scout cookies.

If you haven't already been assaulted with cubicle-to-cubicle sales by eager mothers/fathers pimping out the cookies on behalf of their little scout, or persuaded into a case of Thin Mints by that clever gal at your doorstep, you can join the digital age, download an app, or yes, even search to see when cookies will be available at retail areas near you!

And if you're like me and you've decided you're ready for something a little more...grown up, then ditch the palm oil and indulge in something that, after a few of them, will make you forget you just blew your diet!

I present to you...HOLLOW LEG's first Girl Scout Cookie-Inspired Cocktail, the Liquid Cookie.

cookiescout

This gorgeous little number is inspired by my personal favourite, the Samoa, which, according to Wikipedia, are "Vanilla cookies coated in caramel, sprinkled with toasted coconut and laced with chocolate stripes."

I don't know about you, but when it comes to both cookies and cocktails, I'm no longer impressed by the fake stuff. Palm oil in my cookies? No thanks. Cheap coconut rum? Can't we do better? 

At HOLLOW LEG, we're all about using the best products sourced from awesome folks, and this cocktail has none of the fake stuff. With the Liquid Cookie, you'll taste the difference because it's made with the best ingredients...some of which will surprise you!

Samoas are known for their coconutty goodness. Instead of using something filled with artificial flavours, I went with a base of Rhine Hall Oaked Grappa.

Grappa, for those of you who don't know, is liquor made from the leftovers of wine making, called pomace. All of the seeds, peels, pulp, and stems are fermented and distilled creating what I can only describe as a liquored up wine drink. Rhine Hall, based in Chicago, then ages their grappa in oak barrels, mellowing out the flavour, and, creating a grappa that is sweet, toasty, and has lovely coconut notes, which are enhanced by the other fabulous ingredients in this cocktail. It's really something.

Now that we've got our coconut base, it's time to add caramel to your cocktail. We won't be doing this through flavoured vodka or (gasp!) high fructose corn syrup filed sauces. Nope! We'll be adding homespun caramel into our cocktail, which really is a cinch and so much more delicious than the store-bought stuff. 

I love Sally's Baking Addiction's recipe, which can be found here, except I don't add any salt and I use Kilgus Farmstead heavy cream. Oh, and I know y'all are gonna roll your eyes, but I also make my own butter from heavy cream and use that. I know, I know...

If you don't have time to make your own butter, then go for something organic and grass-fed. Local is better, but Kerrygold works, too. The most important part is that you start with ingredients that taste good!

Frozen hot chocolate. So. Good.

Frozen hot chocolate. So. Good.

Now we need chocolate. And I'm not talking a measly little drizzle. I'm not talking only a garnish. I'm talking chocolate.

Frozen hot chocolate.

Frozen hot chocolate is not difficult to make and the payoff is great. I usually take a really good hot cocoa mix, say Ghirardelli, make it to the specifications on the packaging + melt some extra dark chocolate into the mix, then let it cool by tossing it into a Ball Jar and then into the fridge.

Once cool, blend with ice in your blender. Remember, you want a little icy crunch so you feel like you're indulging in a cookie. In this drink, a little crunch is good!

This is the one!

This is the one!

You're almost there! Now you just need vanilla bitters to add that vanilla cookie flavour and add some complexity. Surprise, surprise...I make my own....but you can buy extraordinary bitters these days, my suggestion being these Cherry Bark Vanilla Bitters from Bittercube based out of Wisconsin!

RECIPE:

2 oz Rhine Hall Oaked Grappa
1 oz homespun caramel
2-3 dashes vanilla bitters (or more if desired)

2.5 oz frozen hot chocolate

Garnish: Chocolate curls and/or a cocoa/cinnamon/sprinkles heart

Shake together the oaked grappa, bitters, and caramel first. You want to make sure the caramel is incorporated into the alcohol BEFORE shaking in the frozen hot chocolate.

Then pour in the frozen hot chocolate and shake again, for about 5-7 seconds. Pour into a glass.

RH012115-13.jpg

For a garnish, I cut a heart out of a piece of cardboard and then set it over my glass. In the picture below, I'm dashing a drink with pink sprinkles. On the Liquid Cookie I make the heart out of cinnamon, but you could also use bitter cocoa!

Enjoy your drink, darling!

5 Easy Cocktail Gifts that Impress

Devin Kidner

Tis the season to be busy, and we're in holiday crunch time! So when it comes time to gift-giving, take it easy on yourself and give a simple gift that will delight any cocktail lover (or anyone, really!).

The following gifts are easy to create and customise:

1. Rosemary-Honey Simple Syrup. A staple in cocktails, but also great in tea, drizzled over ice cream, or added into club soda for a naturally sweet and herbal taste, this syrup is luxe without putting a dent in your wallet.

What you'll need: 

  • 8 oz. Ball Jar
  • 1/2 cup raw honey (raw and local are ideal - check out Chicago Honey Co-Op)
  • just over 1/2 cup water
  • 1 large sprig of rosemary (dried or fresh)
honeyrosemaryingredients

How to make it: Combine the raw honey and water into a pan. Heat slowly, allowing honey and water to combine, and then increase to a boil.

Once boiling add rosemary and reduce to a low simmer for 10 minutes.

At boil: Notice the foam!

At boil: Notice the foam!

At simmer.

At simmer.

Remove from heat and let cool for 2-3 minutes, transfer into Ball Jar.

Make it pretty: Suspend a sprig of rosemary inside the Ball Jar (just be aware that the rosemary will infuse more, intensifying the taste). Use twine to wrap around where the bottom of the metal lid and the top of the glass bottle meet. Tie simple short bows (I tied two on top of each other), and call it a day. 

You can make the top pretty by following the below pics:

After you tie the twine bows around the jar, then work on the top. This will make designing the top easier. Fill in any gaps by wrapping more twine around the jar and knot.

After you tie the twine bows around the jar, then work on the top. This will make designing the top easier. Fill in any gaps by wrapping more twine around the jar and knot.

3. Apply more hot glue to the top of the cap, and proceed to step 4 quickly!

3. Apply more hot glue to the top of the cap, and proceed to step 4 quickly!

1. Spiral the twine.  Leave space in the middle and don't use glue yet. Just spiral and secure with your fingers until you cover the whole lid.

1. Spiral the twine.  Leave space in the middle and don't use glue yet. Just spiral and secure with your fingers until you cover the whole lid.

4. Secure the spiral onto the glue. 

4. Secure the spiral onto the glue. 

2. Use a touch of glue from a hot glue gun to secure the loose end over top of the spiral. Carefully remove spiral off of top and place aside until step 4.

2. Use a touch of glue from a hot glue gun to secure the loose end over top of the spiral. Carefully remove spiral off of top and place aside until step 4.

5. Tie a double knotted bow and secure to the middle with glue. If you'd like to get precise, attach one of the bow tails to the spiral tail and secure with glue. It will look like th 

5. Tie a double knotted bow and secure to the middle with glue. If you'd like to get precise, attach one of the bow tails to the spiral tail and secure with glue. It will look like th 

Final product:

Pretty, rustic, and delicious!

Pretty, rustic, and delicious!

2. Quick Cherry Bitters. It’s no secret that bitters add complexity and flavour that is unrivaled. The biggest problem is that in a time crunch, they’re hard to create. Some bitters take up to three weeks to cure! Since we’re already elbow deep in the holidays, here’s a quick way to get great bitters into the hands of friends and family (and let’s face it: your own).

This is a HOLLOW LEG original quick bitters recipe for ya bad self:

What you'll need: 

  • 1 oz bitter bottle with dropper (can be found at The Container Store or in bulk online)

    For the cherry base:
  • 1/2 cup packed dried cherries - I use Montmorency cherries from Michigan
  • just over 1 cup water

    For the bitters base:
  • 2 oz above 50% ABV liquor (i.e. vodka or Everclear or whiskey that is ABOVE 100 proof!)
  • 2 oz water
  • A combination of bittering agents (see below).
Almost all of the above can be sourced locally. In the bowls, from top, clockwise: black fennel seed, coriander seed, black walnut leaves, and chicory root. On the board, from top, star anise and dehydrated ginger.

Almost all of the above can be sourced locally. In the bowls, from top, clockwise: black fennel seed, coriander seed, black walnut leaves, and chicory root. On the board, from top, star anise and dehydrated ginger.

Now, here's the thing. You can use any of the combination above to create some amazing bitters. For this particular recipe, which strives to be as local as possible, I used a few teaspoons of black fennel, a heaping teaspoon of coriander, a big chunk of ginger, and a teaspoon of chicory root. I like the earthiness/smokiness of the chicory, the pungency of the ginger, the licorice flavour of the fennel, and the bright, floral notes of the coriander.

Montmorency Cherries

Montmorency Cherries

How to make the cherry base: Combine the cherries and water into a pan. Heat slowly, stirring several times, and then increase to a boil.

Once boiling, reduce to a low simmer for 10-12 minutes.

Using a sieve, strain off the cherry juice and let cool while making the bitters.

Bitters in the pot!

Bitters in the pot!

How to make the bitters base: Combine the alcohol, water, and bittering agents into the same pan you cooked the cherries in. Toss in cooked cherries you just separated from the juice. Again, bring the pot to a boil while stirring often.

Cut the heat, place a cover on top and let the spices steep in the liquid. for 20 minutes, or for several hours, just depending on how much time you have.

Strain the liquid into a separate bowl.

How to create the final product: It's simple. How do you like your bitters? I like to add 3/4 oz of cherry juice in with 1/4 oz of bitters, but it's up to you! Play around by doing a 1:1 ratio, then taste a little. Too bitter? Add more cherry juice. Not bitter enough? Add more bittering solution. Once you've got it the way you like it, use a funnel to put it in the amber bottle.

I made it pretty by writing with permanent marker on a mini ornament!

3. Local Booze. It's as simple as simple can be, Local distillers work hard to create craft spirits that are different from the mass-produced stuff on the market.  

Brews from: 5 Rabbit, Pipeworks, Forbidden Root, Upland, and Chicago Distilling Company's Ceres vodka

Brews from: 5 Rabbit, Pipeworks, Forbidden Root, Upland, and Chicago Distilling Company's Ceres vodka

Surprise and delight your alcohol-loving friends and family by presenting them with craft beer and spirits. You can discover all of the local Midwest Micro Breweries here! The two spirits below are new releases from Rhine Hall Distillery and KOVAL Distillery.

Rhine Hall Distillery's Plum Brandy

Rhine Hall Distillery's Plum Brandy

KOVAL Distillery's Dry Gin

KOVAL Distillery's Dry Gin

4. Customised Cocktails. It's not as hard as it sounds. Creating a cocktail that speaks to the unique taste buds of someone on your list is fun and easy. All you need is to know their favourite poison, and then play around with flavour combos.

I suggest that you present this gift in person, and pair it with homemade dinner. It's great to work together to create something delicious, and laugh if you create something horrible. Whether it's a smashing success the very first time or not, you're sure to impress someone with your Julia Child-like conviction!

5. Teach them how to drink for life. Buy your friends a gift that will keep on giving and send them to a cocktail class! Keep checking out HOLLOW LEG's Upcoming Events page for classes, or secure one through KOVAL or Rhine Hall!

See?! Gift giving for the cocktail lovers in your life can be as easy as 1...2...drink! (I had to do it.)

Happy Holidays, y'all!

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