Introducing The Warm And Easy

Valentine’s Day is upon us but–word to Rhett Butler–frankly my dear friends I don’t give a damn! I do give a damn about quality cocktails though;  and the way I see it the only thing better than drinking a quality cocktail is drinking a quality cocktail in the company of a quality woman. That’s a lot of quality for one sentence but all that quality is partially responsible for me indulging in a bit of quality Valentine’s love for 2014. Like my love, I’ve got a whole lot of booze to share and a lovely lady to share it with.

I’d been messing about with the alcohol at my disposal and eventually whipped up a lovely drink that ticks many boxes on my personal “is this drink worth drinking list?“; it is booze forward (yes, I said booze forward. It’s like fashion forward but more fun and less pretentious. If only slightly), rum is a key ingredient and my Missus likes it.

Here’s how this thing works:

Warm And EasyINGREDIENTS

1.5 oz Appleton 12 yr old rum

.5 oz Bols Creme de Cacao (white or brown)*

.5 oz Campari

Grapefruit bitters**

Orange peel

Fill a mixing glass with ice, add the booze and a few dashes of bitters. Stir with joy and vigor. Pour your bevvie (obviously) into your chosen receptacle–I’m partial to coupes–zest and/or garnish with orange peel et voila, a wonderful cocktail that’s a perfect way to begin or end any evening. (Especially the wintery-polar vortexy kind we’ve been having in these parts.)

Listen, the full bodied character and orange notes of the Appleton 12 are great compliments to the Campari and if you’re the type of drinker who enjoys Negronis–which sits alongside Manhattans, Martinis and Old Fashioneds on the Mount Rushmore of “booze forward” cocktails– then this drink should work for you. But if you don’t, well….what can I tell ya’, you came to the wrong place.

I was struggling to come up with a name for this bad boy when a friend of mine pretty much just said, “simple, it’s a Warm And Easy”. And just like that, this little blog got its own signature drink.

One more  thing before I go; as a nod to Valentine’s Day I want to share a little mix I put together that is perfect for entertaining that special someone. Check it out here.

 

*This is a matter of taste. If you prefer dark chocolate, go with brown.

**My grapefruit bitters are homemade. Feel free to replace with your something of your own choosing.

Viva La Cuba Libre!

I know next to nothing about Spain. But this past summer I did spend five days on the Costa Blanca eating Spanish food, soaking in the Spanish sun and eyeballing Spanish women. And continuing my affair with Spanish speaking rums. It started innocently enough. A Havana Club here. A Havana Club there. A little Brugal for spice. Next thing you know mi colección del ron está toda en español. Zacapa. Flor De Cana. Cacique. The Spanish speakers were everywhere. Por todas partes. Equilibrium has been restored but it was touch and go for a little bit, my Appleton’s and Mount Gay’s and El Dorado’s surely feeling neglected.

Anyway, on one evening my friends and I found ourselves sitting on a restaurant’s patio in Algorfa, a small town on the southeastern coast of Spain. Our server came to take our order. For the first time in dog years I ordered a rum and coke. Or as I know prefer to call it, a Cuba Libre (sidebar: I’ve avoided this drink for years because I associated it with girls gone wild and drunken frat boys looking for a “sophisticated” alternative to beer. In case you weren’t sure, I’m neither female nor am I a frat boy. And I’m never drunk).

What a revelation. One sip of my Cuba Libre (made with Brugal, which I guess means it’s not strictly speaking a Cuba Libre) and I began to immediately reconsider my long held opposition. Maybe it was the Spanish heat. Maybe it was the fact I was on vacation. Maybe it was an absence makes the heart grow fonder kind of deal. Regardless, I fell hard. I continued drinking Cuba Libres for the rest of my time in Spain and I’ve been drinking them regularly since. And I’m never disappointed.

What’s the secret? What makes the Cuba Libre so…so…so…good? Like anything we eat or drink it’s all about the ingredients. Now, making a Cuba Libre seems simple enough; one part rum, two parts cola, glass filled with ice and a lime to garnish. Well, that’s fine if you like things middle of the road. When it comes to my drinks, middle of the road doesn’t work para mi. So without further ado, let me present my tips for making a quality Cuba Libre:

  1. Rum: Try using a medium bodied or dark rum. Yes, I know white rum is the traditional call. But tradition is overrated. Any good medium bodied/dark rum will do but Flor De Cana 7 year old Grand Reserve is my pick. Just make sure that the rum isn’t too sweet.
  2. Citrus: I’m not talking about garnish here; I’m talking about a nice lemon mix. The fresher the better.
  3. Ice: For me, big and chunky works best. Large chunks or cubes of ice dissolve slowly, chilling the drink without diluting it too much.

Fill a glass, preferably a highball, with ice. Then add 1 part rum and 1 part lemon mix and top it off with cola. I don’t care all that much for the garnish but a lime wedge is cool. Now you’re good to go. Viva la Cuba Libre (no politics). Enjoy.