Upstream Brewing Company in the Old Market happens to be one of my favorite everyday eating establishments. It is just right for soup and salad, burger and fries, or one of their revolving daily specials. But for Friday night cocktails or beer at the bar, their Greek pizza cannot be beat. They have great food, reasonable prices, and above all else, terrific service by a wait staff who always appear genuinely happy to see me.
While Upstream is primarily known for their on site handcrafted beers, they also provide a variety of wines and a martini list of creative cocktails. Recently they added a few new cocktails to their menu. While perusing the list, two in particular caught my eye. One is often a blended drink, but Upstream has changed it into a straight up drink calling it a Pina Colada Martini. They also used Bacardi Peach Red, which is far from the traditional rum with coconut cream and pineapple juice.
I played with the ingredients for the Pina Colada Martini, finding a recipe to my liking and then tried the Upstream version. Our recipes were very similar. The Bacardi Peach Red adds a pleasant detail to the drink that is unexpected. This straight up version is a great alternative to dragging out the blender and my guess is this one also skips on quite a few calories since it exchanges coconut rum for sugared coconut cream. Instead of using heavy cream as Upstream’s version calls for, I substituted half and half. The only thing Upstream missed on the cocktail was a garnish. This cocktail definitely calls for a skewer of pineapple chunks or at the very least a maraschino cherry. All in all, this is a great tweak on the traditional blended Pina Colada.
The other drink to capture my attention was far more intriguing; the Key Lime Martini. For one, I could not imagine mixing lime juice and cream together and it being reasonably worth tasting. The picture formulating in my mind was combining orange juice and milk. Ick! But primarily my interest in this drink was the liqueur. It called for Liqor 43. Liqor 43 is one of those liqueurs I pass on the shelf at the store, but never purchase. It was time to pick up a bottle for a tasting.
Liqor 43 is Spain’s most widely exported liqueur with a distribution to over 60 countries. Cuarenta Y Tres is Spanish for ‘43’. Apparently there are forty-three herbs, spices and flavorings added to this liqueur, consequently the name; Licor 43. This liqueur has a golden hue with hints of orange and vanilla. It is excellent as a sipping liqueur for after dinner, but even better as a secondary layer to add dimension to mixed drinks and cocktails. The Key Lime Martini is a perfect example of how layers of flavoring make or break a drink.
While Upstream’s Key Lime Martini did have nice flavor, it was rather watery and the Licor 43 was totally lost under the Rose’s Lime Juice. The concentrated form of sweetened lime gave their version a slightly acidic, tart taste rather than the drink coming together smoothly as a whole. It is a shame to add a premium spirit such as Liqor 43 to a mixed drink only to have it smothered beyond recognition. It should be used to enhance a cocktail and make it unique, memorable even.
Again, I played around with the ingredients for the cocktail coming up with a Key Lime Cocktail that was liquid pie in a glass. To say I was amazed is an understatement. The components to this drink played off of each other to perfection. This is what happens when quality products are used in ratios that complement each other as well as using fresh juices rather sugared concentrated juices.
For a weeknight or weekend out, give the cocktails and cuisine at Upstream Brewing Company in the Old Market a try. While at home try out my versions of the Upstream Pina Colada and Key Lime Martinis.
Pina Colada Cocktail
1 ounce Bacardi Peach Red Rum
1 ounce Parrot Bay Coconut Rum
1 ounce Pineapple Juice
1 ounce Half & Half
Pineapple chunks for Garnish
Combine all ingredients except garnish in a cocktail shaker filled one third full of ice. Shake for fifteen to twenty seconds to mix half and half thoroughly. Mixture will be frothy. Strain into a well chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a skewer of pineapple chunks. Upstream’s recipe uses 1.5 ounces of pineapple juice instead making for more pineapple flavor.
Key Lime Cocktail
1-1/2 ounce Three Olives Vanilla Vodka
3/4 ounce Liqor 43
1/2 ounce Fresh Lime Juice
1 ounce Half & Half
Lime Twist for Garnish
Combine all ingredients except garnish in a cocktail shaker filled one third full of ice. Shake for fifteen to twenty seconds to mix thoroughly. Mixture will be frothy. Strain into a well chilled cocktail glass. Rim edge of glass with fresh lime twist garnish and then drop into cocktail.