Tuesday, December 24, 2013

You'll Shoot Your Eye Out

Drink: You'll Shoot Your Eye Out
Establishment: Distil (via the Bon Vivants)
Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
First Connoisseur: Holly, recreated

2 ounces aged rum (we used Brugal 1888)
1/2 ounce Becherovka
1/2 ounce Benedictine
1/4 ounce cinnamon syrup (we used our brown spice syrup)
3 dashes Angostura bitters

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir. Garnish with an orange twist. If you would like to flame orange oil over the drink like we did, squeeze the twist over a lighter above the center of the poured cocktail. Drop the twist in afterwards.

We thought that this drink dreamed up for artisan cocktail bar Distil in Milwaukee is the perfect Christmas Eve tipple. Named after the famous line of A Christmas Story, the You'll Shoot Your Eye Out is a mixture of spicy mint that reminds me of a Stinger if Santa was drinking them. At my first taste of this old-tasting cocktail, I said that all I needed was a cigar and a dog. Do yourself a favor and check out Distil - the bartenders are friendlier there than at Bryant's and the drinks are crafted with as much care. Check out Bon Vivants too.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Tallgrass Vanilla Bean Buffalo Sweat - Drinking Notes

We had the K. Family Christmas in Iowa this year, which is a great time to dive into the local liquor stores for some new draughts for the Firewater Lounge. I knew that I had a beer cocktail that I have had on the back-burner for a while from a trip to South Dakota (recipe coming to the FWL soon...) and that it included a topper of Tallgrass Buffalo Sweat Stout. The craft beer revolution plugs the Wisconsin market with a myriad of small state breweries, which is good, but if you want something out-of-state, you often have to go out-of-state.

Tallgrass Brewing resides in Kansas, so I found some Buffalo Sweat in the Hy-Vee in Dubuque, which is a very manageable drive for us southwestern Wisconsites. Their Vanilla Bean version of their best-selling oatmeal cream stout is a mixture of vanilla, chocolate, and coffee. The pour is deep and dark with a frothy mocha head. If you like sweet stouts, this is the sweetest I've had. It starts with all its creaminess up front - a taste akin to a chocolate malted milkshake stirred with a vanilla bean. It finishes with an equally thick espresso note. You can taste nothing of its 5% ABV. Ond of Cindy's and Yukon Cornelius' winter favorites.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Hot Buttered Rum

I have to tell you that I thought that Arena's own Lake Louie Milk Stout was this year's ultimate Christmas drink - thick, yummy pour, don't have to get up and mix them, and they are conveniently made minutes away. That plan was completely blown by the return of M.R. Hoffman and a quick succession of multiple milky ones led to diabolical amounts of gin. It was as though Santa (Satan in anagram remember) wanted me to remember the old Wisconsin adage, "Beer before liquor..." Unfortunately, the adage did not come to me before I was offering up porcelain prayers.

Lesser men would have taken such an experience as time to re-evaluate their alcohol consumption, but I came to the only sane explanation for the occurrence - I was lazy. If I would have taken greater care to slow down and appreciate the wonders of alcohol during this most festive of seasons, last Sunday wouldn't have looked like I was wearing a zombie costume from Halloween.

So, I am going to release a somewhat time-intensive, but spectacular homemade recipe for Hot-Buttered Rum. We have prepared this in so many ways - with batter like classic recipes in Wisconsin, via our Crock Pot, and others, but riffing of the oldest recipes still seem best. So, going back to the old bar master Jerry Thomas, who's spiced rum is not battered, but buttered, here's our version of the non-lazy, holiday-inspired hot-buttered rum...

Saturday, November 16, 2013


I guess we left up the CLOSED sign on the Firewater Lounge for the month of October. Sorry, our schedules get the better of us every once in a while. So let’s waste no more time and get the thirsty Lounge lizards a drink. How about the Halloweenie original, Hecatomb? It features two slightly unusual ingredients that most people will find appealing: St. James rhum and Zwack.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Farewell Kentucky...

As we go into another Wisconsin Halloween season and see the end of summer, I thought it would be good to tip our hats a final time to the vaunted distilleries of the bluegrass state. Since we have family and friends that will or have found their respective ways there in 2013, it is certainly apropos that we say our farewell to Kentucky by providing our loyal Firewater Lounge Lizards with the instructions to the proper way to drink bourbon whiskey. Here it goes, step by step...

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Greenbush Special

Madison's Old Sugar Distillery gets a bunch of love from the Firewater Lounge and they should; they produce fine spirits. It's also no secret that we hoard their sorghum whiskey, Queen Jennie, so that we never run out. Jennie Justo, the famed Madison bootlegger, ran a speakeasy during Prohibition on Spring Street in Madison a few blocks down from where Cindy and I's college apartment was located (at that time it was called the Greenbush neighborhood). Known as Queen of Bootleggers, Jennie would run and serve anything she could get her hands on. So I don't think she'd mind one bit if we threw her namesake whiskey into Guinness, although her Greenbush neighbors, mostly Italian, might chafe at the Irishness of this post's beer cocktail.

Greenbush Special
Holly's Original

2 ounces sorghum whiskey (we used Queen Jennie)
1 3/4 ounces Guinness
1/2 ounce cinnamon syrup
3 dashes of angostura
1/4 - 1/2 ounces freshly-squeezed lemon (to taste)

Stir all ingredients on ice in a mixing glass. Strain into a cocktail glass and enjoy. If you don't have cinnamon syrup, remember you can make it yourself. Just take a gander at our Zombie write-up for the recipe.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Kentucky Bourbon - Drinking Notes

There is nothing better in the world than bourbon whiskey. That said, it follows that if you subscribe to these sentiments and you have time to vacation, Kentucky must be your destination. So, this June we grabbed up Heidi and the kids, threw them into the rusty van, and headed south to some of the best bourbon distilleries in the world, including Woodford, Willett, and Four Roses. We also sampled numerous other bourbons at various locations including Eagle Rare, Old Forester, Booker’s, Maker’s 46, Hudson baby bourbon, and, yes, even the immortal Pappy Van Winkle (even have the bottle to prove it). We thought that maybe you might like to know which ones we liked best. How about this selection of six?

Friday, June 28, 2013

Tequila and Sage Smash

Drink: Tequila and Sage Smash
Establishment: Heaven's Dog
Location: San Francisco, California
First Connoisseur: Holly (When I get back to 'Frisco)

1/2 lemon, cut into wedges
6-8 fresh sage leaves
2 ounces of añejo tequile (we used Herradura)
3/4 ounces of honey syrup (equal parts hot water and honey)

Muddle the lemon at the bottom of the shaker. Add sage and gently muddle with a bit of tequila. (Erik Adkins at Heaven's Dog shakes with sage in the tin, but you know I hate chlorophylling my drinks - technically, though, this is why this drink is called a 'smash,' so don't be afraid, you'll double strain. If you want to remove the sage at this point, it is ok.) Add remaining ingredients and shake. Double strain into an ice-filled Collins glass and garnish with spanked sage.

This drink should not taste like a sour. Make sure that the honey syrup and the lemons are well balanced. We used meyer lemons, a sweeter variety, which worked great. A super summery drink.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

MacFuddy Smash

We have extolled the virtues of not pulverizing your mint in a muddle or shaking it on ice until it shreds it to bits, however there is a style of drinks that actually calls for it- the smash. Famous barman Jerry Thomas called the smash “a julep on the small plan” because the smash and julep often has the very same ingredients. However, the smash’s mixing procedure does not call for as much time or delicate hand as the julep does. Essentially, the smash needs the bitter green in a plant to suck out sugar in a drink and add dimension.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Cereal Milk Stout

Drink: Cereal Milk Stout
Establishment: Momofuku Milk Bar
Location: Manhattan, New York
First Connoisseur: Holly, recreated with alcohol

2 ¾ cups cornflakes
3 ¾ cups whole milk
2 tablespoons of packed brown sugar
¼ teaspoon of salt
Stout or coffee liqueur (I used Lake Louie’s Mr. Mephisto’s Imperial Stout)

The Milk Bar in Manhattan is not an actual bar, but I thought their signature cereal milk would make for a great mixer for cream cocktails. Here’s how to make cereal milk. Toast 2 ¾ cups of cornflakes in a 300 degree oven for 15 minutes. Allow them to cool. Add the toasted flakes to 3 ¾ cups of whole milk and let sit at room temperature for 20 minutes. Strain flakes from milk; discard flakes. Add sugar and salt to milk and whisk until dissolved. Add your cereal milk as a topper to an ice cold glass of your favorite stout or Kahlua for a sinfully decedent end to the cold months.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Pineapple Pump Me Passionately

Ah, love. Since we are featuring the FWL creative minds (or drunks in M.J.’s case!), we thought we’d put up a randy drink for the Lounge post. Now, I know what you are thinking- ‘which M.R. pornographic appellation of the nastiest degree are you guys assaulting us with?’

Monday, April 15, 2013

Terrace Repose

If you went to school at UW-Madison, you understand the draw of the Memorial Union terrace. The picturesque pattern on the famous terrace chairs are rivaled only by the warm summer sunsets across Lake Mendota. Thousands of people over scores of years have enjoyed those sunsets set to open mic guitar and sounds of youthful mirth. Since we are a couple of Badgers from the past, we thought that we’d capture that moment with a good cocktail- one that just might encourage summer to come. We immediately thought of Old Sugar’s Dry Honey Liqueur.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The 100th Post!

Many milestones to contemplate in this important post tonight. First of all this is our 100th post. Crazy to think about, but I guess we built something here. Something worth doing. For this post, (and inspired by the friend posts) we thought we’d kick off a new series. One that we’d love to share and have friends of ours share: all of our favorite top ten cocktails. Since I do the pouring and the writing, I’m going to take control of the first countdown.

For my 10th fave, I am going to have to tell you a little horrific tale (surprised?); one that is likely unfamiliar to you. It is the story of the Axeman of New Orleans, a true tale of murder, gore, and jazz. You see, the Axeman murdered at least eight people between the years 1911-1919 in the city of New Orleans and was never caught. His modus operandi was to randomly chop unsuspecting city folk with their own axes or straight razors in their own homes. Gleefully doing Satan’s work, the Axeman, in Jack-the-Ripper-like fashion, taunted the people of NOLA by writing the New Orleans Times-Picayune the following note:

Hell, March 13, 1919 
Esteemed Mortal: 
They have never caught me and they never will. They have never seen me, for I am invisible, even as the ether that surrounds your earth. I am not a human being, but a spirit and a demon from the hottest hell. I am what you Orleanians and your foolish police call the Axeman. 
When I see fit, I shall come and claim other victims. I alone know whom they shall be. I shall leave no clue except my bloody axe, besmeared with blood and brains of he whom I have sent below to keep me company. 
If you wish you may tell the police to be careful not to rile me. Of course, I am a reasonable spirit. I take no offense at the way they have conducted their investigations in the past. In fact, they have been so utterly stupid as to not only amuse me, but His Satanic Majesty, Francis Josef, etc. But tell them to beware. Let them not try to discover what I am, for it were better that they were never born than to incur the wrath of the Axeman. I don‘t think there is any need of such a warning, for I feel sure the police will always dodge me, as they have in the past. They are wise and know how to keep away from all harm. 
Undoubtedly, you Orleanians think of me as a most horrible murderer, which I am, but I could be much worse if I wanted to. If I wished, I could pay a visit to your city every night. At will I could slay thousands of your best citizens, for I am in close relationship with the Angel of Death. 
Now, to be exact, at 12:15 (earthly time) on next Tuesday night, I am going to pass over New Orleans. In my infinite mercy, I am going to make a little proposition to you people. Here it is:
I am very fond of jazz music, and I swear by all the devils in the nether regions that every person shall be spared in whose home a jazz band is in full swing at the time I have just mentioned. If everyone has a jazz band going, well, then, so much the better for you people. One thing is certain and that is that some of your people who do not jazz it on Tuesday night (if there be any) will get the axe. 
Well, as I am cold and crave the warmth of my native Tartarus, and it is about time I leave your earthly home, I will cease my discourse. Hoping that thou wilt publish this, that it may go well with thee, I have been, am and will be the worst spirit that ever existed either in fact or realm of fancy. 
The Axeman
This letter referred to an attack on Tuesday evening (or Wednesday morning if you like) exactly 94 years tonight at 12:15 am. That means you have only a couple of hours to get your jazz on before the Axeman comes calling. So you might as well have a New Orleans classic while you’re at it. My 10th favorite is the Sazerac, a smooth and complex libation that lulls you in with sophistication and then, like the Axeman, smacks you into oblivion. What a way to go.

Top Ten: Holly's #10

1 teaspoon Herbsaint (or Absinthe)
1 teaspoon of simple syrup
3 heavy dashes Peychaud's bitters
3 ounces rye whiskey (try Sazerac brand 6 year; for the photo I used Queen Jennie and skipped the simple syrup due to Jennie's sorghum goodness)

Chill an old fashioned glass. Add ice to a separate mixing glass. Pour the syrup, whiskey, and bitters over the ice and stir just enough to cool the drink. Go back to the old fashioned glass and discard the ice. Coat the inside of the OF glass with the Herbsaint, leaving a puddle at the bottom. Strain the contents of the mixing glass into the OF glass. Twist a swath of lemon peel over the surface of the drink. Rub the peel around the lip of the glass and place the twisted peel into the drink (a must in my opinion- adds to the beauty and complexity of this wonder). Enjoy to jazz. Stay alive. Good luck.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

San Gimignano

Our next nod to our FWL regular is the whole reason for this blog to start with. Almost four years ago, Stiff asked us to put up our 30 Essentials Series, so we did. We had so much fun, we never stopped mixing, photographing, writing, and drinking. We poured out his tasty concoction, the San Gimignano, a few weeks back and thought it should go up in time for Winterfest this year.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Winter Daiquiri

Drink: Winter Daiquiri
Establishment: Hale Pele
Location: Portland, Oregon
First Connoisseur: Cindy (Remake)

1 ½ ounces aged rum (We used St. James)
¾ ounce fresh squeezed lime juice
½ ounce vanilla syrup (simple syrup with 1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla)
¼ ounce allspice dram (We used St. Elizabeth)

If you are feeling a bit tiki in the middle of winter (and it seems we are about this time every year since we posted the Maleku Mai Tai at this point last year), you might enjoy this little cocktail. A bit sour for my tastes, but if you love the taut pucker of the classic Daiquiri, this one’s for you.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

M.J.'s McNuts

It has been long overdue to give a few nods to the boys and girls that make up the regulars at the Firewater Lounge.