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February 2017

Mexico-New York City Mashup -- The Intense Ginger Margarita

Tequila is a quintessential Mexican spirit.  Barrow's Intense is an emerging spirit that hails from New York City.  So what happens when you combine agave and ginger?  Pure liquid glory.  This twist on the Margarita comes from Barrow's Intense (full disclosure -- I am a small investor).

Intense Ginger Margarita2 ounces blanco tequila
1 ounce Barrow's Intense ginger liqueur
Juice from 3/4 lime

Combine in a shaker with ice, shake intensely, and strain into a chilled margarita glass.  Lime garnish optional.

The Intense Ginger Margarita takes Cointreau (or whatever orange liqueur you use) out of the Margarita and brings in Barrow's Intense. True to its name, the Intense Ginger Margarita is intense.  After all, you are combining three sharp flavors. The ginger in Barrow's Intense is smooth enough so that it doesn't overpower the cocktail, and it's strong enough to stand up to the tequila and lime.  Like vodka more than tequila?  Substitute vodka for tequila, and you pretty much have an Intense Ginger Lime Martini.

Make your cocktails count. Drink Intensely!


A Mexican Classic -- The Margarita

MargaritaA proper Margarita is a thing of beauty.  Like other classic cocktails such as the Daiquiri, it's a wonderfully simple drink.  However, many Margaritas are too strong, watered down, or just messed up.  Stick to the basics. Contrary to popular belief, the Margarita is not the most popular cocktail in Mexico (that honor goes to the Paloma).  The history of the Margarita (the earliest versions of it appeared in the 1930s and 1940s) is hazy, but many of the origin stories have a common theme -- an attractive female entertainer.

2 ounces blanco tequila
1 ounce Cointreau
Juice from 3/4 lime

Combine in a shaker with ice, shake with the spirit of some south of the border fun, and strain into a chilled margarita glass.  Salt rim optional.

This is simple, right?  The three ingredient combination lends itself to all manner of  variations.  For example, if you want a stronger bite, use more tequila.  You can use Grand Marnier or another triple sec (orange liqueur), but for me Cointreau gives the Margarita a clean and powerful taste.  Whatever you do -- use fresh lime juice.  It's less expensive and tastes much better than the pre-made Margarita mix mierda.

Help bring this staple of cocktail menus everywhere back to its roots.  Viva la Margarita!


L'Intensite De L'Amour -- The Intense Ginger Love

Do you like Valentine's Day?  Do you think it's a Hallmark holiday?  Regardless of your answers, the Intense Ginger Love will hit your liver like Cupid's arrow hits a person's heart.  This holiday themed cocktail isn't vaguely contrarian like the Amaro Amore, but it is just as tasty.  The Intense Ginger Love comes from my friends at Barrow's Intense (full disclosure -- I am a very small investor).

Intense Ginger Love1.5 ounces light rum
1 ounce Barrow's Intense ginger liqueur
2 strawberries cut in half
Sparkling wine

Combine everything except the sparkling wine in a shaker, muddle the strawberries, add ice, shake as if you're with the one you love, strain into a chilled champagne flute, and top off with the sparkling wine.

The original Intense Ginger Love specifically calls for Caliche rum from Puerto Rico. I'm not familiar with Caliche, so I used Don Q, which is my favorite Puerto Rican rum.  As far as I'm concerned, just use your favorite light rum.  If, like me, you're more into cocktails than sparkling wine, use more Barrow's Intense and/or rum in the cocktail.

Even if you think Valentine's Day is a Hallmark holiday (I do), the Intense Ginger Love pairs nicely with music from artists such as Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, and Louis Armstrong. And if your Valentine's Day is going really well, play some Marvin Gaye or Barry White while you make an Intense Ginger Sutra.  You're welcome.


Day Drinking For Witty People -- The Algonquin

The Algonquin Round Table was not a table. It was a rotating group of clever people in the literary and acting worlds who met for lunch at the Algonquin Hotel in New York City.  I didn't recognize the names of most of the people in the group. The only person I immediately knew was Harpo Marx of the Marx Brothers (their movies are dated but hilarious).  The vast majority of the Algonquin Round Table's activities occurred during Prohibition, so there wasn't any (official) drinking.  That didn't stop someone at the hotel from creating this cocktail.

Algonquin1.5 ounces rye (hello Rittenhouse)
.75 ounces dry vermouth (bonjour Noilly Prat)
.75 ounces fresh pineapple juice

Combine in a shaker with ice, shake as if you're sparring (verbally) with a famous writer or actor, and strain into a chilled martini glass.

These seemingly disparate ingredients result in an oddly tasty and bracing cocktail. Some people like to add a dash or two of orange bitters.  On its own the Algonquin is pleasantly bitter.  Rye and dry vermouth certainly aren't sweet, and fresh pineapple juice isn't really sweet.  I mention all of this because adding too many dashes of orange bitters, or adding an inherently tart orange bitter, could make the Algonquin a harsh drinking experience.

The best comment about the Algonquin came from Harpo Marx, who declared this: "                               "   (if you don't get the joke, Google his character in the movies).