The Orchard Manhattan
The Orchard Manhattan is an original twist on the classic manhattan cocktail, though I’d say it’s closer to an old-fashioned, actually. It’s made with bourbon, apricot and walnut liqueurs, and black walnut and autumn-spiced bitters. I can’t tell you what the autumn spices are, but I can tell you that I like this drink right from the presentation.
The cherry garnish divides it into visually pleasing segments. The drink maintains the dryness of a manhattan, although it is sweeter than the standard. The walnut presence makes me think of praline candies, and I enjoy the floral note that probably rides in with the apricot liqueur. However, I miss the little hint of citrus that comes with an orange twist or wheel in an old-fashioned. Somehow, the apricot liqueur doesn’t capture it. Add the citrus back in, and this drink is near perfection.
Reviewed 11 Jan 14.
Ridge Distillery Absinthe Blanche
This absinthe is completely clear, as I’d imagine the blanche designation indicates. It has few legs to speak of when swirling it in the glass and is a completely blank slate based on appearance. Its particular anise smell reminds me of the thick, black, candy bites of licorice mixed with a dose of peppermint oil. There is no notable alcohol heat when sniffing, which is a good thing for me.
Sipping it straight is all cinnamon, a Red Hot without the sweetness. The missing alcohol heat from the nose is in full effect: you taste cinnamon, feel a wave of heat, then feel your tongue tingle. In other words, I would not recommend drinking it prior to the louche unless you’re looking for a stiffer version of Goldschlager.
After the louche, no color changes occur except the expected milkiness. Thankfully, the anise flavor that was imprisoned by the straight sip has been released. However, all other potential flavor enhancers are now subdued. Almost all I taste is sugar (I used one cube during the louche) and very subtle anise. That’s not enough to warrant this bottle’s price tag for me. Perhaps there is a difference in style for crafting a blanche absinthe that I need to read up on…and avoid. This was my first.
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Firehouse 37, San Ramon
This cocktail’s made with Templeton rye, Giffard vanilla liqueur, and bitters, a pretty straightforward combination. Cocktail shaking provides a lovely top layer of icy foam. The vanilla liqueur takes the edge off the rye whiskey, yet the cocktail avoids being overly sweet, which is a good thing. The bitters lend the drink some depth, but I’d prefer that the character of the rye shined more. Perhaps a citrus or floral mixer would liven it up?
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t expect more kick from a drink named the Wildfire. It’s more about making rye palatable to the average drinker, which is a worthy cause but one that doesn’t let the Wildfire live up to its name.
Reviewed 11 Jan 14.