Cigars and alcohol. Two luxury products that go hand in hand, and sometimes even meet on business level. Aging tobacco in whisky, rum, or cognac barrels is a practice several brands do to achieve extra flavour to the wrapper for certain lines. The famous bourbon brand Maker’s Mark has their own cigar, sold in tubes with the signature wax coating. Drew Estate works with Pappy van Winkle and used to make Kahlua cigars. General Cigars works with Sazerac, which resulted in Fireball cigars, Weller by Cohiba and collaborations with Buffalo Trace. And there is the Diesel Whisky Row, a collaboration with Rabbit Hole Distilleries. Fratello Cigars also sells craft beer. Most famous are probably the Cuban collaboration between Martell Cognac and Cohiba. Dominique London, the European retailer with more than 20 shops in the UK, Belgium, Switzerland and the Canary Islands takes it one step further. They bought a distillery in Wales and produce gin, rum, vodka and liquors, and bottle whisky.
Recently I walked into a bottle shop and I saw a bottle of Goldstrike. I smiled and couldn’t resist picking up the bottle for old times’ sake. This cinnamon schnaps is something that I drank when I was younger. And it’s the kind of alcohol that will get you way past your limit even though it is ‘only’ 50% ABV. I can write many stories on how this stuff got me drunk, embarrassing stories at that moment but years later they are funny anecdotes of a wild lifestyle that I can’t keep up with at my current age. I brought the bottle home and then I was wondering what to do with it, as doing shots and getting wasted isn’t part of my weekly routine anymore. I guess that I grew up and became an adult even though my wife and my kids will probably deny that, as they always say I’m a big kid. So I decided to drink it neat and in two different cocktails and write about it.
Goldstrike is the brand name of the cinnamon schnaps made by Bols in The Netherlands. It gets the name from the 23.5 carat gold flakes that are floating in the drink. The ABD is 50% and a bottle contains 500ml of Goldstrike. I used to drink this as a shot, but since doing shots and pairing with cigars doesn’t really match, I was left with two choices. Either taste it in a Glencairn glass with a small cube of ice or in a highball glass with a large cube of ice. I decided on the latter.
The cinnamon is extremely strong on the nose. It reminds me of the cinnamon sticks that I used to get from the candy store when I was a kid. I used to love them and would devour a huge cinnamon stick every time my parents allowed me to buy one. Let’s hope this drink tastes like it as well, but my memory only brings back a burning sensation with cinnamon flavour. My memory serves me wrong, there is hardly any burn but the sweetness and the cinnamon are very strong, There is absolutely no balance in this drink and it is definitely not a drink to slowly sip and enjoy. But if you do, I think the only thing that can stand up to the sweetness and the bold flavours is something strong and earthy. Strong and earthy always leads me back to Ernesto Perez Carrillo’s Pledge although the Plasencia Alma Fuerte might be a nice pairing as well. I don’t think there is anything in the Cuban realm that would be able to stand on its own against this drink.
The original recipe asks for bourbon, but it turned out I ran out of bourbon so I picked a sherry cask whisky, Scallywag, as a replacement. On the nose it’s all root beer and root beer only. The salt rim gives the first sip a salty flavour. The root beer is the main flavour with an underlying sweetness of both the Goldstrike and the sherry cask whisky. The cinnamon is there as well, but weak. There isn’t real balance in this cocktail and it’s pretty bland. A strong cigar would blow this cocktail away so I would go for something medium, both in flavour and strength. Maybe a Plasencia Cosecha 146, Arturo Fuente Short Story Natural, Hoyo de Monterrey Petit Robusto and any other cigar in that segment of the market.
And now for The Rooster recipe
1 ½ ounce or 15ml of whisky
½ ounce or 15ml of Goldstrike
4 ounces or 120 ml Root beer
Salt – to rim the glass
Rim a highball glass with salt. Fill the glass with ice, add the whisky and Goldstrike and top it up with root beer.
This cocktail is credited to a bartender with the name Bill Peak. And I wish I could tell more about the cocktail but I can’t. I am curious though as just from the recipe I expect something sweet due to the ratio of grenadine in the mixture, the sweetness of the rum (I used Zacapa) and the Coca Cola. Om the nose there isn’t much going on but on the flavour part there is a lot. It is indeed very sweet. Sweet cherry, almost like that bubble-gum we all loved as kids. The liquid feels thick. Underneath there is some cinnamon and a little bit of an alcohol feel. The characteristics of Coca Cola are also present. It’s almost like Cherry Coke but not exactly am not praising Bill Peak for his creation. I can’t say I’m a fan of it. It doesn’t make the rum better; it doesn’t make the Coca Cola better and it doesn’t even make the Goldstrike better. The cocktail is so overly sweet that I have no idea what cigar to pair this with. It has to be strong and bold, but something with pepper won’t match well. But what would pair well? I really don’t know so my recommendation is not to make this cocktail at all. Or turn this into an experience that makes you appreciate a good cigar, a good cocktail and a great pairing even more by making this cocktail and light up a Guantanamera Cristales, Jose L Piedra, El Brujito (not the Drew Estate one, that’s actually an enjoyable cigar), Quorum, the average Gurkha or any other less pleasant cigar.
And now for the Cherry Cinn recipe
2 ounces or 60ml of dark rum
1 ounce or 30ml of Goldstrike
1 ounce or 30ml of Grenadine
Shake the first three ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Strain into a large frozen Martini glass. Pour the Coca Cola in from a distance to release the bubbles. You can garnish this with a maraschino cherry if you have them.