Seagram's Moscato (35% abv.) is a new spirit on the market--so new that there's barely anything about it available online. When you first open the bottle there's that unmistakeable musk and honey aroma of the Muscat grape family. And in fact the nose is quite fresh and lively. It was suggested that I try the spirit cold and with some water added. Unmodified at room temperature, it's a little harsh. I can't say that this is something that I would drink on its own, but it has elements that I like. That's what cocktails are for!
A lot of people credit The Moscow Mule cocktail with popularizing vodka in the United States. In the years after WWII but before the Red Scare, people learned to love the combination of vodka and ginger beer and lime. Later America embraced simple vodka cocktails like the Screwdriver, Bloody Mary, and the vodka martinis of the James Bond films, as well as more elaborate concoctions like the Harvey Wallbanger. Without further ado, I present:
Benito's Moscato Mule Cocktail
2 oz. Seagram's Moscato
3 large basil leaves, plus more for garnish
Keep your Seagram's Moscato in the freezer--it tastes best ice cold, and also helps keep your cocktails cool. Combine the basil and Seagram's Moscato in a shaker. Use a muddler to smash up the basil. (If you don't have one, chop the basil before adding to the shaker.) Add ice, and shake thoroughly. Fill a tumbler with ice and strain the vodka/basil over the ice. Then cover with ginger beer, and stir briefly before serving. Garnish with more basil if desired.
I really surprised myself with this one on the first try. The basil and ginger and touch of additional sweetness are precisely what the vodka needs, while the grape flavor gets a better chance to shine. And most importantly, befitting the mule name, the heavy dose of ginger gives it a spicy kick in the aftertaste. (I've been gently kicked by horses, burros, donkeys, and both Shetland and Welsh ponies. But oddly, never by a mule. I still wouldn't recommend the experience to anyone regardless of the species.) I highly recommend this cocktail if you like a mint julep, or are interested in herb-based cocktails. Grape and basil go great together, and the vodka and fizz and ginger just make the whole experience a lot more fun.
*I'm not going to get into the ginger beer vs. ginger ale debate in this space, but for this cocktail I used Reed's Extra Ginger Brew, a traditional Jamaican-style ginger beer sweetened with honey, fructose, and pineapple. Strong ginger flavor, lots of character. But feel free to use regular old ginger ale if that's all that you've got on hand.
Note: This was received as a sample.