Christmas in your Mouth!

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Okay, weird title, but there’s no other way to describe this after-dinner drink. It just tastes like Christmas, which I happen to love.

I’ve mentioned quite a few times over the years that I’m no mixologist. I’ve made some good margaritas, but it seems like when I try to make something creative, it’s terrible.

Actually, it’s not that my skills are completely lacking because I’m typically following recipes, but I don’t enjoy a lot of cocktails, especially if they’re terribly strong. Like martinis. So whatever I might make and dislike, which seems to happen often, I pass on to my willing husband.

Typically when the weather turns cold, I stock up on seasonal liqueurs. I love Amarula, Eggnog, Bailey’s, various chocolate liqueurs, and so forth. Some I will put in coffee or hot chocolate, or some over ice in lieu of dessert.

One night I got super creative (sarcasm) and combined all of two different liqueurs together for my husband and myself. We both thought that this drink was so good that we haven’t been able to stop drinking it!!!

It’s good, it’s pretty, and it’s Christmas in your mouth. You’re welcome.

Christmas in your Mouth
Makes 2 drinks

2 – 8 ounce cocktail glasses
Small ice cubes
4 ounces Buttershots
4 ounces Rumchata

Fill the glasses with ice.


Divide the buttershots and Rumchata evenly in both glasses.


Stir and serve.

You can add some freshly grated nutmeg if you’d like.


And, it’s Christmas!

Sgroppino

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This recipe originally posted in April of 2013. Because this Italian cocktail is so delicious and unique, I decided to re-publish the post.

My husband and I were in Venice in 2008 During a blissful 3-week tour of Northern Italy. One day, we wandered into a less touristy part of town to find a lunch spot and discovered a perfect alley-way restaurant that specialized in seafood, and sat outside at one of their three tables. This was their chalkboard menu:

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We chose a whole sea bass for lunch, which was spectacular, as you can see.

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After dinner, the waiter turned to me and suggested a drink to help with digestion. Perhaps I looked like I’d eaten the whole fish by myself? But since he described an alcoholic-based drink and mentioned limone, I was all for it. It ended up being like a limoncello with cream. But even better.

Now, I truly, my dear blogger friends, was not intoxicated, as it looks. I was definitely enjoying my Sgroppino, but was caught mid-blink by my husband behind the camera. It’s because of this drink alone that I kept the photo, but it’s also a great reminder of the unexpectedly wonderful time we had in Venice.

When I got home, you can bet I looked for this drink online. It’s called sgroppino – SRO-PEE-NO, with the accent on the PEE.

There are actually two versions of Sgroppino, according to what I read. One drink is definitely what I enjoyed in Venice – a creamy, bubbly lemon drink. The other drink doesn’t contain cream.

Here’s the creamy version:

Sgroppino al Limone, serves 4

2 cups lemon sorbet, softened
2 tablespoons vodka
2/3 cup Prosecco
4 tablespoons half and half

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Whisk the lemon sorbet in a medium bowl until it is smooth. Gradually whisk in vodka, cream, and prosecco. Alternatively, you can use a blender.

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Pour mixture into chilled champagne flutes and serve immediately.

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Here’s the non-creamy version:

Sgroppino, serves 4

2 cups chilled Prosecco
4 tablespoons chilled vodka
2/3 cup lemon sorbet
Mint leaves, optional

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Mix the Prosecco and vodka together, then divide in between 4 chilled champagne flutes. Spoon a scoop of sorbet into each flute, and decorate with a mint sprig. Serve immediately.

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My husband and I tend to stay away from tourist attractions, and prefer experiencing Europe as non-tourists, but if you’re ever in Venice, ride the darn gondola. It truly is magical. I don’t know if they all do this, but our gondolier sang!!! And it was lovely.

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Midori Fizz

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If you’re not familiar with Midori, it is a melon-flavored, grass-green liqueur. What I didn’t know, is that Midori is the Japanese word for green, and it was manufactured only in Japan until 1987, according to Wikipedia.


It’s a sweet liqueur, so it needs to be diluted with fizzy liquids, which can include club soda, Prosecco, tonic water or, my favorite – Fresca!

If you’re a martini lover, midori can be mixed with lemon juice and vodka, shaken with ice and strained.

Sweet and sour mix can also be used as a mixer, but something like lime juice is required to cut the sweetness. And lastly, Midori can be turned into an adult slushy for a seriously refreshing summer drink. So many options.

All I’m doing today is mixing Midori with Fresca. It’s a bubbly grapefruit soda that I use a lot, even in sangria. So it didn’t take much brainpower to or the skills of a mixologist to create this combination, but just in case you haven’t discovered Midori, I wanted to post on it.

And that’s it! I do about a 50-50 mixture of Midori and Fresca, but that can be adjusted of course.

Of course ice cubes can also be added to the Midori Fizz.

If you love the taste of sweet melon, you will love Midori!

I posted on a Pimm’s float before, and now I’m thinking about a Midori float!!! Yes!!!

Gin Ramos Fizz

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I remember the first time I tasted a gin Ramos fizz at a friend’s house. I wasn’t a drinker back when I had it, but I never forgot its uniqueness. There was a subtle orange flavor, and the best way to describe the drink, was that it was fluffy!

Years later, on a Christmas morning after marriage and children, I made the drink for my husband and myself, but I quickly learned that drinking on Christmas morning and having two kids just didn’t go together.

Fast forward to 2018 and gin Ramos fizz popped into my brain! I found this recipe online at Epicurious.com. According to Epicurious, “This version of the classic New Orleans cocktail was created by Eben Freeman, bartender of Tailor restaurant in New York City.”

Being that Christmas had passed, I thought I’d serve these cocktails for Easter.

Gin Ramos Fizz
serves 1

1/4 cup (2 ounces) gin
1 dash (3 to 4 drops) orange blossom water
1 large egg white.
1 tablespoon (1/2 ounce) half-and-half.
1 tablespoon (1/2 ounce) fresh lemon juice.
1 tablespoon (1/2 ounce) fresh lime juice.
1 tablespoon (1/2 ounce) simple syrup.
1 cup ice cubes
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) seltzer

In large cocktail shaker, combine gin, orange blossom water, egg white, half-and-half, lemon juice, lime juice, and simple syrup. Shake vigorously for 25 seconds. Add ice and shake for 30 seconds more.

Strain mixture into 8-ounce glass. Slowly pour soda water down inside edge of shaker to loosen remaining froth. Gently ease soda water/froth mix onto drink and serve.

I do think that the cocktail could also be made in a blender, but for the sake of making these for the first time in 30-something years, I followed the directions!

And, I doubled the recipe, but it’s easily quadrupled.

The drink is truly spectacular. You taste the gin, the orange flower water, and the citrus. Plus, it’s creamy and foamy. What’s not to love?!!

After using the recipe I found online, I found this one I’d copied from somewhere. Next time I’ll make this version!

Note: Seriously dropper the orange flower water into the cocktail mixture. It smells lovely, but can become bitter if too much is used. Add a few more drops if you don’t taste it.

 

 

 

Watermelon Margaritas

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Well, leave it to Facebook to help me out with a recipe dilemma. My (adult) daughters have bugged me for quite a few years about making these watermelon margaritas again that I’d made once. In my memory, as well, they were so refreshing and tasty. But I didn’t remember how I’d made them.

And then, the other day, June 28th, to be exact, there it was, on Facebook. A memory, dated 7 years ago:

Watermelon Margarita
blender full of frozen watermelon chunks
1 cup tequila, or to taste
Juice of 4-5 limes, about 3 ounces
2 ounces agave nectar

There was no blog back then, but why I didn’t write the recipe down on a recipe card, like I’ve done for 40 years is beyond me.

But, just in time for watermelon season, we’re making this recipe and having watermelon margaritas. Unfortunately one daughter doesn’t live here, and the other is pregnant, so there’s more for the rest of us!!!

The first thing to do is buy a giant seedless watermelon, unless you enjoy dealing with the seeds.


Cut up the beautiful red flesh into cubes, and freeze them in sealable bags.

When you’re ready to have margaritas, fill up the blender with the frozen watermelon chunks, add the tequila, lime juice, and agave nectar.

Blend until smooth.

Serve immediately; they will be nice and slushy.

Don’t be tempted to add a little more tequila. It will mask the watermelon flavor.

Trust me on this.

Coconut Willy

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My husband and I were in Kauai this past February on Valentine’s Day. At the poolside bar, our waitress informed us of a Valentine’s special drink, called a Coconut Willy.

Being ever so daring, I ordered one. Turns out it was the most delicious pool drink we’ve ever had. (Pool drinks typically translate to overpriced, overly sweet cocktails lacking in alcohol.)

It was so good, I asked the bartender about the drink, and he generously showed me how to make it.

I took a mental video of the process, and duplicated it once back at home when the weather warmed. We couldn’t wait to have them again!

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The drink is creamy with coconut and lime flavors. It’s so good it will transport you to a tropical state of mind!

Coconut Willy
For one drink, or double for two

2 ounces gin (I chose Rangpur gin for more lime flavor)

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3 ounces Coco Lopez

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Sweet and sour mix, approximately 2 ounces

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Place ice cubes in your glass.

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Add the gin and Coco Lopez. The Coco Lopez is more tan than white in color.

Stir really well, and then top off with the sweet and sour.

I garnished with a slice of lime.

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Alternatively, place the gin and Coco Lopez in a shaker with ice, shake well, and then pour into the glasses. Top with sweet and sour and stir.

I wanted to see if the coconut “blobs,” which show up in the most right photo above, would dissolve better using the shaker method, but they didn’t.

Alternatively, place all of the ingredients in a blender and blend for a frozen variation.

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I prefer drinks on the rocks because I can drink them faster. Sadly, that’s the truth.

Here’s the recipe for making a pitcher of coconut willies, based on a 750 ml bottle of gin:
1 – 750 ml bottle Rangpur gin
38 ounces Coconut Lopez
25 ounces sweet and sour mix

note: Two things about this drink. One, we were both surprised that it contained gin – we would have guessed vodka. Secondly, we were both sure that there was lime juice in the drink, and there is no lime at all. If you use regular gin, it will still taste limey! A mystery!

A Summer Refresher

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I’ve mentioned before on this blog that I am a terrible bartender. Even when I follow cocktail recipes, they turn out horrible. My husband says it’s only because I pick out terrible recipes, but I’m not completely sure that’s the problem. But I have given up on trying to make drinks containing herbaceous liqueurs, like Saint Germain, Pernod, Chartreuse, and Galliano. I guess I’m not hip enough to enjoy those flavors!

During the summer months, I make a lot of sangria, and I’m actually pretty good at sangria. Or, at least I think I am. When my older daughter is at my house, she always needs to “fix” it. And she always makes it better. Must be something about that summer she lived in Spain…


Because I don’t love strong alcohol flavor, I don’t ever use brandy in sangria, which is traditional. I like to use sweet wines instead.

I’ve mentioned Quady Vineyards in a post before, because they make fabulous moscatos. I am aware that sweet wines are not terribly popular. In fact, they’re probably drunk by white Zinfandel fans. But their moscatos are superb!

I used an orange moscato, called Electra, in my Strawberry Tiramisu recently, and for the sangria I made today, shown above, I used Quady’s Red Electra. (The sangria turned out fabulous!)

On the Quady Winery website, they write that Red Electra was “first released in 1993, is garnet red, tastes of succulent cherry, berry, and peach, and has a slight sparkle. Try it with all kinds of desserts and cheeses including chocolate bon-bons, truffles, spiced holiday cookies, vanilla, and fruit. Red Electra is made by combining Orange and Black Muscat grapes, and fermenting them very slowly at a low temperature so they keep their delicious flavors. That’s why Red Electra tastes like a bowl full of cherries.

Just to make sure it would work well in the sangria, my husband and I taste-tested the Red Electra. It was like nectar of the gods.
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Then I had an idea. I poured some Red Electra in a bigger glass and added some Fresca, which I had on hand because I always use it in sangria. Typically I don’t create cocktails, and it’s not surprising that my alcoholic “invention” consists of only two ingredients. But it got me thinking. Besides Fresca, what would Red Electra be like paired with Champagne, or Prosecco? I had some experimentation ahead of me!!!

So here’s my offering for a refreshing summer drink. I suggest three varieties depending if you like sweeter, less sweet, or unsweet. You could even add sparkling or soda water for two more varieties. I’m just so creative!!!

Red Electra Sparkler

3 ounces Quady Red Electra, chilled
4 ounces Prosecco, chilled, or
4 ounces Champagne, chilled, or
4 ounces Fresca, chilled

On the day this cocktail was “created” daughter happened to be visiting, and we did the taste test together. We began with 3 ounces of Red Electra, and added equal amounts of Prosecco, Fresca, and Champagne.


The drinks were on the sweet side with this ratio.

So that’s when we came up with the ratio of 3 ounces of Red Electra to 4 ounces of mixer. Plus, we added ice. Even though all of the above ingredients were fully chilled, the drinks needed ice for them to stay cold and refreshing.
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We both picked our favorite combination, and it was the Prosecco version. The Fresca version was good, but it was “sweet” and still tasted like Fresca. The Champagne variety was good, but the Champagne seemed to disappear in the drink.

The Prosecco and Red Electra was a perfect match!


It was also the most refreshing – even without ice!

We made this cocktail on the first day of summer, and it topped out at 99 degrees that day!
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I’m stocking up on Red Electra. It is quite versatile!

King of Denmark

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I’ve been saving this cocktail recipe for a while, even though it contains Pernod.
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I don’t remember why I even have Pernod in my liquor cabinet, because I don’t like it. I drank it once in a village in Provence, while sitting on a rooftop watching the sun set. I managed to choke the stuff down because I felt I had to. I wanted that experience, like the times I choked down whiskey in Ireland and Scotland, and Grappa in Italy. But it was awful.

My mother was never much of a drinker for being French, but occasionally she would get out her Pernod, mix it with water, and enjoy it during the summer months. I could hardly get past the smell of the stuff – the pungent anise flavor.

Pernod Absinthe

Pernod Absinthe


So the recipe I’d saved, called the King of Denmark I discovered at BarNoneDrinks.com. There is no explanation for the name of the drink. I also have no explanation for why in the world I saved a drink recipe that contains Pernod.

In any case, the cocktail recipe lists Pernod, and also black currant cordial, which I know of as Creme de Cassis. I substituted Chambord, which I figured was just as berry-like, and which I had on hand.

Chambord

Chambord


So here’s the original recipe:

King of Denmark

8 ounces Pernod Absinthe
6 ounces black currant cordial
20 ounces water

Mix together in a pitcher, and add ice. Sounds refreshing, right?

Before I tell you about this cocktail, I wanted to show you what Pernod looks like, in case you’ve never seen it, so I poured it into a measuring cup. Notice it’s green. So, I was a bit confused, because I remember Pernod as being neon yellow.

I poured it into a glass and added about 5 parts water, which is the classic way to make the drink, and it still looked different. The drink I remember was a cloudy yellow, and looked like it might contain radiation. This stuff was still on the greenish side.


So I did a little research online, and realized that I hadn’t purchased the original Pernod, sometimes called Pernod Classic, or Pernod Paris, or Pernod Ricard. It’s confusing.

Instead, I had purchased Pernod Absinthe, which has a touch of the herb in it that used to be in real Absinthe, which was banned in France in 1915. Everyone thought that the herb caused hallucinations, but it turns out that Absinthe was extremely alcoholic.

I also read that the luminous yellow color was from food coloring, which has since been removed. Here is a photo of Pernod “Classic.”

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Here’s something else I discovered. Pernod Classic is 40% alcohol. Pernod Absinthe is 68% alcohol!

Ironically, this King of Denmark drink actually uses the Absinthe version of Pernod, which I had accidentally purchased and have had for god knows how many years gathering dust.

The drink really doesn’t have a pretty color, does it? Probably because it’s a mix of green and pink liqueurs.

Then I made the cocktail with the ratio switched. It was definitely much prettier. but still terrible.
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I also added a few raspberries to enhance the raspberriness.
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Unfortunately for me, the Pernod flavor was still too strong and pungent for me. And then finding out after the fact that the Pernod I had used was that alcoholic, it’s no wonder I really disliked this cocktail!

I think I’ll quit experimenting with Pernod of any kind.

Berry Bramble

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I’ve just recently come across the name “bramble” which I thought to be some kind of berry-producing prickly shrub, but it’s also the name of a gin-based cocktail! Since I happen to love gin, and have had the pleasure of being introduced to a new French variety, I thought it was a perfect time to try out a bramble myself! Really, any excuse for a cocktail will do, but specifically for the purpose of research and testing? Absolutely!

Here’s the new gin from France that my friend introduced me to, after sampling it at a tasting in NYC. It’s called G’Vine. I know, that doesn’t sound very French. I’m not even sure how to pronounce it. But it’s fabulous, with floral and citrus tones to its flavor. It’s referred to as “botanical.”
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I’ve had this gin with both tonic and soda water and it’s really delightful, but for my first bramble I decided to pair it with sloe gin. I just recently discovered that sloe gin is made from sloe berries! See, that’s why I read food blogs!

And for the berry part of the bramble, I chose blackberries, because they’re really perfect at the stores right now. Nice and sweet.

Berry Bramble
to make 2 drinks

8-10 fresh blackberries
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 ounces G’Vine gin
1 ounce sloe gin
Fresca or soda water, chilled

Firstly, place the berries in a small bowl. Muddle or fork them into mushiness, along with the sugar.

I then divided the mushed up blackberries in two glasses, and added a couple of whole blackberries as well. It just makes the cocktail that much healthier!

Then add the gin and sloe gin.

Lastly, add the Fresca. If you’re not familiar with Fresca, you should be. It’s a grapefruit based soda and provides much more flavor than just adding sparkling water or soda. Plus it’s super fizzy. It had those blackberries bouncing around so much that sometimes they were out of focus in the photos!
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Mint would be a good addition, but I don’t like getting chopped mint in my teeth, so I just left it sitting there looking pretty!

If you want to learn about G’Vine, check it out here on this crazy website!

verdict: I must say this was a very successful experiment. This brand of gin made it even better, but regular gin would certainly work just as well. The sloe gin added a lot as well, but certainly creme de cassis or Chambord could be substituted. As for the berry aspect, I think this drink would be wonderful with just about any ripe berry!

Grapefruited Pisco

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I’ve always been intrigued by the well-known South American drink known as the Pisco Sour. In fact, I’m wondering what took me so long to finally try it.

With spring well on the way, I decided it was time. So I went to my favorite booze monger and asked for a bottle. What he sold me is called Capel, which is from Chile. Chilean piscos are supposedly sweeter than Peruvian piscos. So adjustments must be made in the recipes.

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If I’d actually read about what Pisco is, I probably wouldn’t have bothered trying it. Or, at least, I would have asked my blogger friend Sally from Bewitching Kitchen about Pisco, since she’s from South America. But I wasn’t smart enough to do that. I’m very impulsive, really.

If I’d googled Pisco, I would have learned that it’s distilled from wine made from specific grapes, originally those inferior in quality. It then becomes a very strong brandy. Grappa is a common substitute for Pisco. Have you ever tried grappa? I felt obliged once to try it after it was given to us at an Italian restaurant, and I thought my head would explode. And that was from one sip.

So being obliged to also try Pisco by itself, just to check out the flavor so I can share the information, I tried one sip. It was probably half a teaspoon. I could have lit my whole head on fire. Well, next time I’ll do a little research first. But I was still determined to try a pisco sour, my version with the addition of fresh grapefruit juice. It sounded good in theory.

If you check on Bar None Drinks, you can find two different versions of a pisco sour. One is pisco along with lime juice and sugar, which is very similar to a margarita. The other is the same thing but with egg white included, and sometimes with a dash of bitters. I liked the egg white idea, so I came up with the following recipe.

Keep in mind that I’ve admitted before that as much as I like cocktails, I don’t like them strong, and I’m a terrible bartender. My husband enjoys my mixology experiments, because he gets to drink all of my mistakes.

Also keep in mind that some of the photos show a very pink drink, and others a more yellow version. That’s because my first round was terribly bitter to me (not my husband) and so I added Grenadine to the second batch. I preferred the sweeter, pinker version. Here it is.

Grapefruited Pisco Sour
Makes 2 drinks

2 small grapefruits
4 ounces Capel Pisco, chilled
2 ounces sweetened lime juice*
1 ounce Grenadine, Amarena cherry juice, or juice from the pictured Maraschino cherry jar
1 egg white

Juice the two grapefruits.
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Measure 6 ounces and place the juice in a blender jar. Add the the remaining ingredients.
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Blend until smooth and foamy.
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Pour into two glasses and serve.

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The above photo shows how pink the drink is with the added grenadine.

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The above drinks are without the grenadine.

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I served the drinks with skewered Luxardo cherries, Italian maraschino cherries that are like candy they’re so good.
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I was surprised at how fast the liquid and foam separated. The drink is definitely prettier blended.
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* I used sweetened lime juice in place of lime juice and simple syrup

verdict: I have mixed feelings about this drink. Although it was legally spring on the day I made these, it was cold. Perhaps if the weather had been warmer they would have been more refreshing and appreciated by myself. I actually just finished skyping with my London daughter minutes ago, and she’s had pisco sours (of course) and she never thought they were strong at all. And she’s more of a wine drinker like myself. So I might keep experimenting. If you like drinking rubbing alcohol, this stuff is for you!