Watts Hillandale, Durham
This is a seasonal offering at Watts, and it’s the second I’ve had locally featuring Foggy Ridge cider—I must check into that label to see why our bartenders are experimenting with it! Including the cider, the Graniwinkle is made of house-spiced apple cider syrup, brandy, lemon juice, and maple syrup. Surprisingly, the lemon juice is the strongest flavor, and because it goes so well with brandy, I think that’s a great choice. I expected the maple syrup to be overwhelming, but it was mellow, acting as a binding agent for the apple, spice, and lemon more than anything else. The bubbles from the cider cut nicely through what might have been strong lemon otherwise, and the concentrated apple cider syrup gave the drink that little bit of extra oomph to keep my interest.
The Graniwinkle is a well-crafted drink that’s worthy of your taste buds if Watts is still featuring it!
Reviewed 3 Dec 11.
Tokyo Punch was a lovely surprise for this cosmopolitan lover. Most people might assume that a cocktail made with vodka, cranberry, Midori, and brandy would be awfully similar to a cocktail made with vodka, cranberry, lime, and triple sec, but I somehow missed the connection between the two until the libation met my tongue. So how was it? Pretty darn good! It’s an attractive drink that’s strong on the cranberry, which is needed when brandy is one of your mixers. The Midori had a mellowing effect on the brandy’s profile, also. Somehow, it all tasted like a cherry jolly rancher to me, though there was no cherry in the mix. There was also a candy film to it, which sounds gross but wasn’t at all. It was more akin to a clear candy, like a lollipop with no flavoring. I attribute that to the vodka acting as more of a lubricant than an essential part of the mixture.
I’d drink another, though I’d prefer it in martini form rather than overloaded with ice in a hurricane glass. But, well, I prefer most my drinks that way, so I’m biased.
Christian Brothers Frost White Brandy
This clear brandy, which is still aged in oak so I’m a bit confused how it manages to be clear, is definitely a departure from standard brandies. I could tell that from first smell, which was of peanut brittle and roses. Both scents were strong and such an odd contrast that I questioned my nose, but that’s what I smelled. When sipping, the brittle taste rushed to the foreground, but was quickly followed by a wall of rose. There were no other tastes I could discern.
Ultimately, those odd flavors together made this brandy unsippable for me, but I’ve since had it in cocktails, and it fares much better when combined with other spirits and juices. I’d recommend it for berry-based elixirs, but if you want to pass it by entirely, I won’t tell.
Other Bloggers’ Thoughts:
None in review form. Mainly, it seems to appear as part of cocktail recipes, especially the China Rose (ed. 17.12.10 Oops, I meant China Girl—recipe here), which I’ve never heard of before.