“In wine there is wisdom, in beer there is Freedom, in water there is bacteria.” -Benjamin Franklin

Boozeblogger is about achieving excellence in drinking. Not getting wasted, but getting to the bottom of a good glass. We drink everything, so you only have to drink the best. Boozeblogger will try any drink once...probably even twice.

Review – The Bitter Truth Cocktail Bitters Traveler’s Set

This summer I’m making an escape from my rural midwestern hell hole to the beautiful continental Europe.  Being a world traveler means having to give up some basic comforts, like having a working knowledge of foreign languages and dialects, also having a working knowledge of strange European toilets.  When you travel, there’s so much you just can’t prepare for.  Luckily, alcohol is one of those things you can always count on!  There’s always an ample supply of booze no matter where you go, but there isn’t always a bartender who knows how to mix a nice cocktail.  To ensure a good drink regardless of where I am geographically I started checking out some travel sized cocktail bitters.

Bitters are really the key to a good drink.  They’re also a crucial element of building so many of the classical drinks in the world.  After doing a bit of research I found The Bitter Truth Cocktail Bitters Traveler’s set to be some really nice and well packaged bitters for flying.  Because of all kinds of new flying regulations you can’t just take any large unmarked bottles through security, they have to be the right size.     The Bitter Truth Cocktail Bitters Traveler’s set is exactly the right booze for the job!

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The set comes with a handful of the most important bitters you’ll need to make your favorite drinks.  The set itself comes with five bitters.

Old Time Aromatic Bitters

The aromatic bitters add a bit of spice or cinnamon to a drink.  A few dashes really make a difference.  Aromatic bitters are good for any cocktails containing Whiskey, rum, brandy or tequila.  I tried out the Aromatic Bitters in a Manhattan.

Manhattan

2oz rye whiskey

1/4 oz sweet red vermouth

2-3 dashes of the Aromatic bitters

Stir and strain into a chilled glass

Add a lemon peel if you want to be classy

 

Orange Bitters

the orange bitters are probably my favorite addition to a drink, because the bitters themselves are so versatile.  In some drinks they come off fruity and in others a little spicy.  You can also use them in varieties of cocktails.  I used the orange bitters to make a classic dry Martini

Dry Martini

2oz gin

1/4 oz Dry Vermouth

2 Dashes of Orange Bitters

Stir (or shake it) with ice and pour into a chilled glass

garnish with an olive and pretend your James Bond.

 

Creole Bitters

These creole bitters were a first for me.  Definitely something a little out of the ordinary.  They add some sweet and spicy characteristics to the cocktail.  Creole bitters seem to be pretty good in whatever you put them in!  Try them in a brandy cocktail.

Brandy Cocktail

2 oz cognac

2 dashes of creole bitters

2 dashes absinthe

1/4 oz sugar syrup

stir with ice and strain it into a chilled tumbler

 

Celery Bitters 

Ok, we all know what these are for: the Bloody Mary.  The bitters themselves taste like celery…obviously.  Though, you get some hints of lemon as well.  Bloody Mary’s aren’t really my thing…but  for the sake of all my dear readers I made one.  Ok, so I was pleasantly surprised.

Bloody Mary

2 oz Vodka

4 dashes celery bitters

3 dashes worcestshire sauce

1/4 oz lemon juice

3 1/2 oz tomato juice

tabasco, salt, pepper, pretty much go crazy.

stir with ice, put it in a tall glass with a stalk of celery and go crazy.

 

Jerry Thomas’ Bitters

The jerry Thomas Bitters are by far my favorite.  You can use them in pretty much any cocktail containing gin, whiskey, rum, brandy, et.  They add a some richer flavors like dried fruit.  They’re the best bitters for my favorite cocktail: the old fashioned

Old Fashioned

2oz tequila (or whiskey, but I really prefer tequila.)

1/4 simple syrup

3 dashes Jerry Thomas’ bitters

build in tumbler with ice and give it a stir.

I like to garnish it with a whole slice of orange.

Ok, so if you’re a traveler and you’re picky about your cocktails pick up The Bitter Truth Cocktail Bitters Traveler’s set!  Also, if you’re building your bar at home and in search of some good bitters, then look no further! Also, check out our post on making your own home bar!

Recipe – Strawberry Margarita

Last night, my partner developed a strong desire for a strawberry margarita…but not just any strawberry margarita, she wanted one “like at the Mexican restaurant.”  What a request.  I have no idea what the specific protocol is at the local Mexican establishment, but I thought I’d give it a shot.  Here’s the recipe I came up with for the official Boozeblogger “Like at the Mexican restaurant” Strawberry Margarita.  Clearly, the idea here isn’t to make something classy, but just a nice drink to make when your significant other demands it of you.

Me Irl

Me Irl

This recipe could probably make margaritas for around four people…or two people who want to get a little tipsy.  First, you need a blender capable of crushing ice, pretty much any blender with an option called “pulse” can crush ice like a motherfucker.  Crush up about 2 cups of ice.

After crushing the ice, add the following to the blender

2 cups crushed ice

1 cup tequila (it’s not everyday you measure out tequila in cups)

3 oz triple sec

a few handfuls of strawberries (you could use frozen or fresh, it probably doesn’t matter)

a little sugar or agave nectar

squeeze in some lime juice

Then, blend the shit out of that.

You could serve your margaritas in any number of glasses.  If you are actually going to split the drinks between 4 people, you could put them in rocks glass, but since my goal was to get a little crunk, I just poured them in some big mason jars and then cut a slice of lime as a garnish.

I didn't take this. this is way prettier than what I could ever make

I didn’t take this. this is way prettier than what I could ever make

Review – Urban Chestnut – Part II

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We finally had a chance to finish the rest of Urban Chestnut!  This is part II of our review, if you haven’t already, read part I.

It was an honor to review a local and favorite brewery of ours in St. Louis.  Like we said in part I, St. Louis has become a great place for craft beer and Urban Chestnut is on the forefront of the revolutionary urban beers.  Also, check out, Urban Efforts.  This is Urban Chestnut’s program for supporting local non-for-profits.  Urban Chestnut strives for sustainable brewing methods while creating high quality beers with an emphasis on supporting the St. Louis community.

“As we endeavor to create our high-quality offerings of lagers & ales, we also strive to be respected for our actions as a business member of the St. Louis community.” – Urban Chestnut

 

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Here are Boozeblogger’s notes for the last two Urban Chestnut beers!

Urban Chestnut Hard Wood Myth 5.5 ABV

English Style Porter

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Pour:  Dark and porter in appearance, minimal head and thin lacing

Nose:  Cocoa, smokey, malty

Palate:  Sweet, toasty, oatmeal

Mouthfeel:  Medium body, smooth, chocolate

We really enjoyed this porter and would love the opportunity to have more!

 

 

Urban Chestnut Zwickel 5.2 ABV

Bavarian Style Lager

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Pour:  Light golden in appearance, minimal head and little to no lacing

Nose:  Sweet, cereal, hops, fruit

Palate:  Light and clean, spice, malt, dry finish

Mouthfeel:  Light to medium body, medium carbonation, smooth

Urban Chestnut’s flagship lager, a great tasting and easy to drink beer!  This is a good introduction to a more complex lager that is unlike a mass produced Budweiser.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Go Drink Yourself

Before you read any further, play this video. This post needs this music.

Have you ever wanted to drink something out of your head?  That sounds weird…let me try again. Have you ever wanted to drink something out of a mug shaped like your face? I know I have.  Ok, I feel like this is something that could get pretty existential pretty quick…Southern Comfort is having a bad ass competition ( Go Drink Yourself) where you make some kind of crazy drink on their website and you can win a mug that looks like your head.

Though, before we go any further–holy shit, have you seen their website?  Some web designer out there did an incredible job.  It’s all web 2.0 and shit.

Personally, I haven’t had SoCo in a pretty long time.  Their Go Drink Yourself competition was a nice reason to up my SoCo game and practice my mixology skills.  I tried a few different combinations other SoCo fans had posted to get started, but I quickly ran into trouble when trying to mix my own drink.  The first rule of the competition disqualifies most of what I tried to make “Recipe creation must be original, creative and consumable.”  I should probably leave new cocktails up to the professionals.  

The first cocktail I tried is called the Scarlet O’Hara.  The Scarlet O’Hara is a nice drink…it’s probably not something I’d order in public, because it’s sort of girly, but in the privacy of my own home I’m totally open to getting down with it.

The Scarlet O’Hara 

- 1.5 oz SoCo (Get the 100 proof SoCo ya turkey)

- 2 oz cranberry juice

- 1.5 oz club soda

- a little bit of lime juice

Shake that mother fucker.

serve it in a rocks glass with some ice cubes

It’s a solid drink.

Ok, the Scarlet O’Hara is a fun drink….but hold on to your butts for the monstrosity I threw together.  I wanted something that was weird and innovative.  We at boozeblogger put our heads together and thought, “Hey, it would be cool if we could make a drink that tasted like a Mexican restaurant!”  Well, dear readers, we made something….pretty gross.

(for the love of God don’t make this…)

The Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell

- 1.5 oz SoCo

- 2.0 oz Coke

- Squirt of Siracha

- Squirt of lime juice

shake it and serve in a rocks glass.

Ok, so don’t make this…you wouldn’t be dumb enough to do it anyways.  It’s interesting for maybe, like, one sip and then you just want to vomit.  The first rule of alcohol tasting is always engaging nostalgically with a drink: what does this drink remind you of?  Our cocktail reminds me of a gross spicy taco pizza.

All of these shenanigans aside, SoCo is a fun liqueur with a wide possibility for delicious drinks and good times.  Take a look at some of the most popular cocktails on their site right now! 

Review – Urban Chestnut – Part I

This is part I of our Urban Chestnut review! Check back later this week for Part II

St. Louis is a great place for craft beers.  Maybe you most associate STL with Anheuser Busch, this would be a mistake.  Ok, Bud Light is fine, I don’t find any reason to be too much of a beer elitist, but St. Louis is becoming a pretty craft big beer town.  There’s a number of amazing craft breweries that are too often overlooked.  A relatively recent development in the STL beer scene is Urban Chestnut.  Urban Chestnut strikes this really interesting balance between “revolutionary” urban beers and “reverential” traditional beers.  This dialectic creates a good and diverse balance between beers.

urban-chestnut-brewing-company

We tried four beers over all, here are our notes from the first two!

ErlKonig (Elf King) 8.3 ABV

Pour: Hazy, orange, beige foam, good head, from bottle, drink it out of a motherfucking stein

Nose: Yeast, cloves, spices

Palate: Grainy, boozy malt, wheat oranges or some kind of citrus

Mouthfeel: medium carbonation, somewhere between medium and heavy bodied

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A really nice beer. Goes well with pizza and probably everything else.  Also, the ABV is surprisingly high, you definitely get the start of a nice buzz after a bottle.  ErlKonig is part of the Urban Chestnut revolution series and I can definitely see why.  ErlKonig is a pretty cool twist on a weizen bock.

Pierre’s Wit 5.10 ABV 

Pour: small white head, Weizen glass, cloudy golden apricot color,

Nose: Coriander, dry wheat

Palate: Coriander, Citrus, Orange, Wheat

Mouthfeel: Dry, medium mouthfeel a little creamy.

Urban-Chestnut-Pierres-Wit-Wheat-AlePierre’s Wit, coming from the reverence side of Urban Chestnut, fits the bill perfectly for a Belgian Witbier.  The coriander was probably my favorite part of the beer.  I’m a sucker for coriander in beer.  For obvious reasons, Pierre’s Wit reminded me a lot of New Belgium’s Trippel.  Though, I think the biggest difference, and also why I like Pierre’s Wit better, is the creaminess and sweetness of the beer overall.

Review – National Iced Coffee Day and Zacapa Rum

Alright, so yesterday was 4/20 and Easter.  I hope you found some easter eggs full of Cheetos and Hot Pockets.  Though, don’t get discouraged all of the celebration isn’t over!  Today isn’t just a regular insufferable monday.  It’s National Iced Coffee Day!  National Iced Coffee Day is one of the best, dumb, made up holidays marketeers have ever had the inspiration to invent.  National Iced Coffee Day isn’t one of those lame fake holidays like valentines day, it’s awesome because it celebrates one of the best achievements of humankind: iced coffee.

Iced coffee is great by itself, sure, but why just drink iced coffee?  It’s the perfect sort of drink to hide some booze in.  Coffee is mostly a morning drink, but that shouldn’t stop you from starting your day out with a cocktail…right…right?  Ok, well maybe not.  Regardless of when you decide to start your drinking, here’s a good recipe for national iced coffee day.

 

getting weird with coffee

getting weird with coffee

Guatemalan Iced Coffee

Ingredients:

1 1/2 ounces Zacapa Rum 23

3 1/2 ounces Guatemalan Coffee

1/2 ounce Demerara Sugar Syrup

Guatemalan Iced Coffee is by far one of the best cocktails containing coffee.  Maybe alcohol and coffee aren’t things you’ve thought of putting together our side of coffee with a little bailey’s, but you need to do this…what are you even waiting for? Alright, let me walk you through the cocktail.

Step 1:

Make some iced coffee.  You can make iced coffee in a number of ways.  Probably the most common is to just make coffee, and pour it over ice.  Though, that usually leaves you with kind of a gross and watered down cup of iced coffee.  I prefer a bit of a fancier method: Cold Brew.  Cold brew coffee is actually pretty simple, but it does require a bit of forethought.  For cold brew coffee, do the following.  Grind 1 3/4 cups of coffee (that’s right, grind it…don’t buy that nasty pre-ground crap.)  In a plastic pitcher mix the coffee grounds with 3 1/2 cups of filtered cold water.  Agitate the ground in the water with a spoon, put a lid on the pitcher, and let it sit in your fridge over night.

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In the morning, use cheese cloth or something like that to filter the coffee out from the grounds.  At this point, you can discard the grounds and you have some really delicious cold brewed coffee.  The cold brew is really concentrated and strong, so you want to be sure to mix it with something.  If you just want coffee, mix it with some ice, milk, and a little sugar or simple syrup.  Though, for our purposes we’re going to mix it with rum.

Step 2:

Measure out 1.5 ounces of Zacapa rum and a 1/2 ounce of demerara sugar syrup.  Then mix in 3/2 ounces of your cold brew.  Add a few ice cubes and you’re all set.

Step 3:

Drink a bunch of rum in the morning.

Coffee wise, we used Mississippi Mud Guatemalan.  While I highly suggest anything from Mississippi Mud, you could probably use a different coffee with different interesting results.  The great part about this cocktail is the way the rum plays off the flavor of the coffee.  With a different coffee, the interplay will be different.

Ok and finally, I need to sing the praises of Zacapa rum.  Zacapa 23 is a beautiful Guatemalan rum with a rich flavor and heritage.  In the cocktail, the Zacapa works really well with the coffee.  The Zacapa really brings out the smokey and chocolate flavors in the coffee itself.  Overall it makes a really killer drink.

zacapa-centenario-23-year-old-whisky

If you don’t even feel like drinking coffee, Zacapa 23 is amazing by itself.  It’s so sweet and rich you might even just drink it as a sort of desert.  Here are a few of our notes on Zacapa

Nose: Sweet, nutty (hazelnut maybe?), chocolate, smoke, cigar

Palate: Sweet, Toffee chocolate, honey, brown sugar

Finish: a little smoke lingering, and sweet finish.

Zacapa is a rum that I could drink again and again.  It’s a bit on the pricey side, but I think it’s worth it.  Treat yo self.

 

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Review – Compass Box Whiskey | Part II

Hey internetz, are you ready for some whiskey that will blow the brain right out of your head? Great.  Hold on to your butt and read Part II of our Compass Box Whiskey Review.  If you haven’t already, read Part I.

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Just when I thought I had tried the best of Compass Box with Peat Monster, things get better with Spice Tree and Hedonism.  Spice Tree is a big fucking whiskey…and apparently the innovative barreling practices of Compass Box’s Whiskeymaker, John Glaser, were not appreciated by the Whiskey Police (SWA).

Okay, so, if you didn’t know there are definitely Whiskey police…well not police, but there is a governing body that determines a lot of whiskey rules.  This governing body is the Scotch Whisky Association (or SWA).  While Barreling Spice Tree, the whiskeymaker decided to try something new by putting flat oak staves into used whiskey barrels.  This doesn’t sound like too big a deal, but this is something no one has done before and, erring on the side of conservatism, the SWA threatened legal action.  SWA…what is wrong with you?

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Compass Box had to back down, who has the funds to combat the whiskey police in court? Not me…not anyone.  So Compass Box laid off the Spice Tree for a bit, but being the Whiskey Geniuses they are, they developed an alternative way to create a similar flavor profile to the original “illegal” Spice Tree.

Having never had the original, I can’t say much about that, but Spice Tree I did have was hella good. Here are some notes.

SpiceTree-Box-Bottle

Spice Tree

Blended malt scotch whiskey

46% ABV

Nose: oak, vanilla, alcohol

Palate: rich, vanilla, spices, caramel, lemon, malty

Finish: crazy spicy, lingering vanilla,

Spice Tree is a big whiskey, there’s a lot going on in this one.  The oak really comes through in the nose big time.  I definitely recommend just adding a drop of water to the glass as it really opens up the sweeter creamier notes of the whiskey.  I’d probably give this one a solid 4/5.

Alright, while not illegal or being cracked down on by whiskey Nazis…er…whiskey police… We also had the opportunity to try Compass Box Hedonism.  Hedonism doesn’t have a crazy story surrounding it, but in tasting it, you’ll see why.  No one, Nazi or otherwise, would ever try to ban something so fucking good.  

Hedonism-Box-Bottle

Hedonism 

Blended grain scotch whiskey

43% ABV

Nose:  Vanilla, oak, fruit

Palate: Vanilla, creamy, toffee, soft

Finish: Spice, warm, more toffee, smooth

5/5

Hedonism is smooth and creamy.  Really, more of a desert.  Compass Box themselves recommend it as an aperitif and I would tend to agree.  Sipping this after a meal is probably the best thing in the world.  Without a doubt, Hedonism is one of the most distinct whiskeys we’ve tried. 5/5

 

Review – Compass Box Scotch Whiskey | Part I

Yesterday afternoon something monumental happened.  Like Moses stepping down off the mountain to deliver the commandments of God to the Israelites, USPS handed me a package with Compass Box Whiskey. In case you don’t know, Compass Box is a specialist Scotch Whiskey maker.  Compass Box promises to craft scotch whiskies that appeal to a variety of tastes and they certainly deliver on this promise.  In this review, we’re tackling two of Compass Box’s huge scotch whiskies: Peat Monster and Great King St.  Though, keep a sharp lookout in the coming days for Part II of this review!alcoholic-drinks-19-5

Peat Monster  

Peat Monster, obviously, is a peat whiskey.  A blended malt peat whiskey to be exact.  For the uninitiated, peat whiskey might not make a whole lot of sense.  Scotland is covered in what is called peat, what essentially boils down to a layer of soil made up of dead plant matter.  Ok, so now you’re thinking….yum, dirt whiskey. Nope, peat has an interesting historical use in Scotland.  Scotlanders would dig up and dry peat to use as fuel.  Dried peat works sort of like charcoal.  After drying, whiskey makers would use the peat to heat the stills.  Though, the smoky characteristics come from drying the malt used in the whiskey with the peat.

Compass Box Peat Monster

Compass Box Peat Monster

The variables of drying malt with peat result in a really complex scotch whiskey…and I mean really complex.  There’s so much going on in Peat Monster.  Here are some of our notes from a tasting.

The Peat Monster

46% ABV

Nose – smoky, leather, apple, grains, peat

Mouth feel: medium, a little syrupy.

Palate: peat, oak, leather, smoke, smoked meat

Finish: more oak, florals, fruit (maybe grape), malt, alcohol, dryness

Adding a few drops of water makes a huge difference.  All of the dry alcohol vanishes at the end and each sip is far more smooth.

Peat Monster is such an interesting whiskey.  It definitely takes a few sips to really get a feel for what it’s about and what exactly is going on in it, but it’s so worth it.  Drinking it neat is great, but intense.  I think adding a few drops of water really opens it up and makes it more enjoyable.  Peat Monster is a solid 5/5

Great King Street

The second scotch whiskey we tried from Compass Box is Great King St.  Great King St. is a blended scotch whiskey with some really interesting characteristics.  Compass Box includes the following about crafting a blended scotch whiskey

“Due to the preponderance of poorly made, inexpensive Blended Scotch whiskies on the market, many people assume any bottle of Scotch bearing the term ‘blended’ is somehow inferior. Not if you make it the way we do. “

Check out this cool infograph

Great King St. is Aged in three different casts American Oak, French Oak, Sherry Butts (hahah butts) and it definitely comes through in the nose and the taste.

gks

Great King Street

43% ABV

Nose: very sweet, cereal, citrus, apples, vanilla, candy, smores

Palate: full bodied, rich, fruit-driven, creamy

Finish: wine, fruit, spice

Great King St. is such a different Whiskey in comparison to the Peat Monster, but different in such a delicious way.  We give Great King St. a 4/5

Singing the Praises of the Lunch Beer

For too long, drinking during the day has been written off as something for alcoholics or just lazy assholes, but this just a myth.  Some of the hardest working people in history drank during the day.  There’s something fundamentally great about popping open a can or bottle of beer on your lunch hour.  Maybe, it’s a small act of rebellion–a nice fuck you to your boss–or you just want a beer in the middle of the day.  Drinking a beer over lunch is a trend that needs to resurface!  The lunch beer, as I’m calling it, has some cool historical roots.

Now, You probably have some douchey beer geek friend who’s always raving about a great “session beer.”  Essentially the lunch beer has it’s history tied up with the session beer.  So, what does the beer douche mean by session beer? something really specific.  Technically, the session beer is any beer that is 5 percent ABV or under.  What’s so special about a beer with 5 percent or lower ABV? You’re going to need about 1000 to get crunk.

Historically, the session beer was a fundamental part of the day for munitions workers in WWI Britain.  During the work day, there were several “sessions” or breaks for workers.  During these sessions workers would go and drink a session beer.  Sources say that the break in work would be from 11am-3pm and 7pm-11pm.  With this in mind, the reasoning for the lower ABV becomes obvious.  Workers wanted to go drink without getting totally trashed.  It’s interesting how labor really shaped (and it continues to) the drinking habits of workers.

Modern day lunch breaks are far shorter than the sessions of WWI, but there’s still enough time to knock back a session beer.  Drinking and then going back to work might be uncouth, but who gives a shit?  Historical precedent doesn’t make something ok, but in this case it seems alright.  So, let’s revive the lunch beer!  Order a beer with your lunch, or grab one out of the fridge at home during your break.

Review: Tullamore Dew

Irish whiskey is great.  Here, I’m returning to one of the first whiskeys I had ever drank: Tullamore Dew.  Tullamore Dew is an inexpensive and easy to find Irish whiskey.  So, if you’re looking for something unique, this probably isn’t for you.

brands-tullamore-dew-header

 

Tullamore Dew is a straight forward Irish whiskey around 20 Dollars a bottle.  Tullamore is a solid bottle of whiskey.  It’s got a nice malty, golden color.  A lot of whiskey snobs wouldn’t even consider it, but it’s nice to just sip on.  On the nose, Tullamore starts with a fruity smell.  I’d say Banana, raisin, and of course a really strong alcohol smell.  Tullamore has a pretty distinct taste.  It’s a really sweet and smooth whiskey.  Far more straight forwardly sweet than Jameson.

I think comparing Tullamore and Jameson is pretty fair.  Both whiskey’s are Irish, triple distilled and in a similar price range, though Jameson is a tad more expensive.  The difference is markedly dissimilar. Jameson has a far more complex taste, probably due to how they age it.  Sure, Jameson has a smooth sweet taste, but it has a bit of spice underlying the sweet notes.

Tullamore Dew is the Mountain Dew of whiskey.  It’s inexpensive, common, sweet and straightforward.  It might not be top shelf and various whiskey snobs may overlook it, but it’s good.

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Because of this comparison, here’s a recipe for a great (pretty gross) cocktail I just made up: the TULLAMORE DOUBLE DEW

The Tullamore Double Dew Recipe

1.5 oz Mountain Dew

1.5 oz Tullamore Dew

Garnish: Fedora

Glass: Rocks

50c