Best Cocktail Shaker

best cocktail shakerThe best cocktail shaker should be able to make your martini ice cold without giving your hands and fingers a case of frostbite.  The typical martini shaker is stainless steel. Stainless steel is a great temperature conductor and is perfectly suited for making your drink super cold very quickly. The problem, however, is that you can only shake so long before you fingers and hands are so ice cold that you can no longer hold on to the shaker. There is something to be said about stainless steel cocktail shakers. They give you the classic look, sound, and feel of a 1940’s bar where the sound of Martinis, Manhattans, Rob Roys and Cosmopolitans being shaken all around you make you feel important and sophisticated – and well, happy too. Is there any other way to make a classic cocktail? I’m here to tell you there is.

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Monkey Shoulder Scotch Review

Monkey Shoulder ScotchMonkey Shoulder scotch is a blended scotch of three, different, Speyside Single Malts: Glenfiddich, Balvenie, and Kininivie. The story on the back of the bottle provides an interesting story as to how Monkey Shoulder Scotch got its unusual name which is derived from the malt men who doing the shoulder-wrenching job of constantly turning the malted barley by hand to make small batches of delicious whiskey. I will boldly say that this scotch is deserving of this name for a much more important reason: That is, you will throw your shoulder out from the thousands of times you will be lifting the glass up to your lips to consume this delicious, liquid gold. Monkey Shoulder scotch is one of the best blended scotches I’ve ever had. It is actually similar to a Speyside Single Malt like Glenlivet, but it is even better than that. 

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Popular Bourbon Whiskey Brands Reviewed and Rated

Bourbon Whiskey Brands
Bourbon Whiskey Brands

Whiskey or Bourbon?

Before I get to the four mentioned bourbon whiskey brands, I would like to explain how I got here. All bourbon is whiskey, but not all whiskey is bourbon. This is important because distilleries in Colorado seem to be popping up everywhere. Most of what I’ve had in Colorado is not bourbon whiskey brands. In the past year, I’ve visited Leopold Bros and Stranahan here in Colorado. I became curious what the buzz was all about. The whiskey I tasted at the two aforementioned places didn’t seem all that special to me and are horrendously expensive compared to smooth, refined Kentucky bourbon. Of course, the big difference is that I was comparing these whiskies to bourbon which they are not. When it comes to smoothness and immediate enjoyment, bourbon seems to give a higher bang-for-the-buck. So, I wanted to explore a little bit with actual Colorado bourbon just to see how it compares to other bourbons in the same price range. This is no easy task but as I just mentioned, Colorado whiskey is expensive! In the process, I became curious about some of these other types of whiskey. I did some research on Proof66.com which is an excellent primer for learning about the different types of whiskey. I will not bore you with the education on what makes it what it is because they can do that much better than me. Besides bourbon, there is blended whiskey, single malt whiskey, Irish whisky, rye whiskey, and single malt scotch whisky just to name a few. So, I picked up a bottle or two from three of these categories in this past month.  I will get to these other types of whiskies later. For now, I would like to compare and review a few of the bourbons that I’ve tried most recently. These are my own bourbon reviews. You can rate each of them, yourself, at the end of the article.

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Best Tequila for Margaritas. Is Price really so Important?


Best Tequila for MargaritasIn a perfect world, the best tequila for margaritas would be the one that tastes best by itself. Enjoying those kinds of margaritas on a consistent basis, however, is outside most of our budgets. When searching for the best tequila for margaritas, one key is to find the brand that tastes the best at an affordable price. There are other considerations for margarita drinkers.  While we would all agree that smoothness is important, the taste and character of tequila are subjective things that may or may not add to the overall enjoyment of a margarita. It might be that the best sipping tequila in the world has qualities and characteristics that are too bold to make the perfect margarita. It is also likely that the unique taste of world class tequilas is completely lost and unappreciated.  Before I provide my Best Tequila for Margaritas list, I would like to provide some general criteria.

 

Rating Criteria

The Best Tequila for Margaritas

I have come up with three categories that I think are important for margarita drinkers:

  • Smoothness – A smooth tasting tequila obviously makes a smooth tasting Margarita.
  • Price – For the vast majority of us, it doesn’t make sense to use expensive sipping tequilas for Margaritas.
  • Neutrality – This category sort of works hand-in-hand with price. Very pricey tequila full of bold character and flavor will either be underappreciated or over-shadow the margarita mix. Speaking of margarita mix, I believe the simpler, the better. I will share with you my own recipe.

 

Recipe used to rate Best Tequilas for Margs

Even an affordable and good tequila will go to waste in a bad mix. I am not a fan of the overly sweet or sour cook-aid type mixes that most restaurants serve. I use three simple ingredients: 1 part fresh-squeezed lime juice, 2 parts tequila, and a splash of Contreau or Stirrings triple sec.   I like to shake the ingredients vigorously for about 30-40 seconds and serve up (or neat) in a glass with salt around the rim. One thing to beware of is that a bad lime can spoil everything. Good, fresh limes are usually shinier on the outside with bright green color and have a thick skin when they are sliced. Getting a good lime can be tricky, but it is well worth taking the time to find a grocer where they are consistently good. A sour lime will pretty much drown out everything that is good about the drink, including the tequila.

About my Tequila Ratings

I’ve decided to use a few of the familiar tequilas that I’ve tried and rated here on Product Review Ratings. Each tequila is rated in each criteria on a scale of 1 – 10. Of my two favorites, I will warn you that the Rancho Alegre does give me a headache. I didn’t think it would be fair to use that criteria in my ratings since so far, I am the only one I know that complains of this unwelcome phenomenon. I have not done nearly enough research to make this a thorough review, but hopefully these ratings on the best tequila for margaritas will lead you in the right direction.

Best Tequila for Margaritas

Rated by Smoothness, Price, and Neutrality

Tequila Smoothness Price (750ML) Neutrality RATING
El Ultimo Agave Reposado  8 9 ($14.00 – $15.00) 8 83%
Rancho Alegre Plata 7 9 ($13.00 – $15.00) 9 83%
Rancho Alegre Reposado 7 9 ($13.00 – $15.00) 8 80%
Olmeca Altos Plata 8 8 ($16.00 – $18.00) 8 80%
Olmeca Altos Reposado 8 8 ($16.00 – $18.00) 8 80%
El Charro Reposado 7 9 ($14.00 – $17.00) 8 80%
Camarena Reposado 7 8 ($17.00 – $19.00) 8 77%
El Zarco Silver 8 7 ($14.00 – $17.00) 7 73%

 

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El Ultimo Agave Tequila. Low Price, but how Good?


El Ultimo Agave Tequila
El Ultimo Agave

El Ultimo Agave Tequila joins my short list of reviews on excellent tequilas that most of us can afford. I bought the 750ml Reposado El Ultimo Agave Tequila at a local liquor store for around $14.00. This puts it in the same price range of one our favorite marg-making standby’s over the last couple of summers, Olmeca Altos Tequila. The price on Olmeca ranges from $27 – $31.00 at my local liquor stores for a 1.75 liter bottle. Another favorite, which is far cheaper than both of these is, Rancho Alegre. All three of these tequilas are 100% agave. There are a couple of reasons, I prefer the El Ultimo Agave to either of these other bargain-priced tequilas:

Taste Comparison

El Ultimo Agave Tequila

Compared straight-up to Olmeca Altos Tequila, both my wife and I preferred El Ultimo De Agave in a blind, taste-test. I was really surprised. Both are smooth tequilas that mix well for margaritas, but the El Ultimo Agave just seems to have more flavor and character.  I noticed hints of honey, fig, banana, butter, orange and ginger. The Olmeca Altos just doesn’t offer as much flavor. For the money, I’d rather pay a little extra for the El Ultimo Agave tequila. Other tequila websites seem to agree with my opinion on El Ultimo Agave. Users and tequila critic snobs alike, have rated it very highly. I did not have the Reposado version of Rancho Alegre, but while I was in the mood, I did do another comparison.

Rancho Alegre Silver vs Olmeca Altos Tequila

A 1.75 bottle of Rancho Alegre is only around $21.00 and for taste-alone, remains the best deal there is. In another blind taste-test, my wife and I much preferred the cheaper Rancho Alegre over the Olmeca Altos tequila and I suspect it would give the El Ultimo Agave a run for its money if I had the same, two types to compare. However, this is a moot point for me. It has been painfully proven to me time and time again, that Rancho Alegre gives me a headache. My wife doesn’t have this problem, so it could just be me. If you haven’t tried Rancho Alegre, I encourage you to try it. Once the secret gets out on a good, cheap tequila, they become much easier to find, though the price tends to rise accordingly. At any rate, I will continue to try bargain-priced, 100% agave tequilas as I find them. The question is where can you find it?

Where to Buy El Ultimo Agave Tequila

Here is where things get tricky. El Ultimo Agave Tequila is listed as an uncommon tequila on the UndertheLabel website. I located El Ultimo Agave at Sams Warehouse Liquor in Westminster, Colorado. Though Sams is one of my favorite liquor stores, they are not in the most convenient location for me. Sams had an excellent selection of tequilas and trying a new one for the first time is a difficult choice. It turns out I made the right choice after fondling bottle after bottle of unknown tequila brands. The problem is, I have not been able to find El Ultimo Agave in any of the other liquor stores near my local neighborhood. If you can find El Ultimo Agave tequila at your local liquor store, I highly recommend it.

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