Friday, May 22, 2015

homere punch

2 oz Rhum Agricole
1/2 oz Benedictine
1/4 oz Orange Liqueur
1/4 oz Lime Juice

Build in a rocks glass with a large ice cube (or equivalent amount of smaller ice cubes). Garnish with a lime wheel or two floated on the ice cube (competition submission was garnished solely with lime oil).

A few weeks ago, my 'Ti Punch recipe submission made the cut for the Rhum Clément 'Ti Punch Cup. I found out after my closing shift on Wednesday night that I got accepted a little over 48 hours before the competition. I also learned that my bar manager made the cut too, and we were both scheduled for that Saturday to work. To complicate things, the other bartender had requested the day off, so unfortunately, both of us passed on competing. Regardless, here is my submission. I dubbed the riff the Homère Punch after Homère Clément, the man who had the idea to press sugarcane on Martinique like a fruit and ferment it like an eau de vie to produce Rhum Agricole. I listed my drink inspiration as, "The Haitian drink the Pétion and how flavorful rums work rather well with lime and Bénédictine, and that liqueur ties back to the French colonization of the Martinique. In addition, the orange liqueur aspect for it pairs well with Bénédictine in drinks like They Shall Inherit the Earth and the Honeymoon Cocktails."
The Homère Punch presented a lime aroma over the funky, grassy rum bouquet. On the sip, crisp lime notes were balanced by sweet orange ones, and the swallow offered grassy rum and herbal flavors along with a tart lime finish.

Thursday, May 21, 2015


3/4 oz Bonded Rye Whiskey (Rittenhouse)
3/4 oz Laird's Bonded Apple Brandy
1/2 oz Ginger Liqueur (King's)
1/2 oz Pear Liqueur (Rothman & Winter)
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1 dash Orange Bitters (Regan's)

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Later that night after enjoying the Kapuna Kane at the Independent, I found myself desiring another cocktail once dinner was over. For a recipe, I turned to Food & Wine: Cocktails 2012 to see if there were any variations of classic cocktails that I had previously glossed over. The winner was Jonny Raglin's Sidecar riff called Bondage that he crafted at the Comstock Saloon in San Francisco. Besides the two bonded spirits, the name also reflects how a sidecar is linked to and dependent on the motorcycle itself. With the classic's Cointreau swapped for pear and ginger liqueurs and orange bitters, it seemed like it could do no wrong.
The Bondage Cocktail offered a bright lemon oil and apple aroma. The lemon notes continued on into the sip where they mingled with a vague fruitiness perhaps from the pear liqueur. The swallow though started with proof-hot whiskey flavors heading into apple and ginger on the finish.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

:: mixology monday: i'll take manhattan wrap up::

I am rather pleased with the level of participation for this Mixology Monday, MxMo XCVII entitled "I'll Take Manhattan." Participants reached for different base spirits, different fortified wines, and/or interesting accessory flavors, and as I begin this post, there were 22 entries from 21 participants, and I am sure that I will have a few more by the time I am done with it (indeed, now up to 24 from 23 as I am about to hit "publish" with I am sure another entry or two that ignored my Mapquest directions but are asking that guy on the corner). Yes, I was a spaz and thought of something to create an hour or so after posting my new school recipe, and I decided to make it later that night as for why there are an unequal number of entries and participants. And as Joel from SouthernAsh pointed out, we are getting rather close to MxMo C (100)! Doubtful that I can get my wife's idea to come true -- to have Paul Clarke host it. He will most likely be busy with his book launch and Tales of the Cocktail recovery then. But without further ado, let's get to these Manhattan variations in temporal order of contacting me!
• Right out of the gate were a pair of eGullet forum participants starting with Chris Taylor from Australia! His Place of Weeping swapped the standard whiskey for brandy, and he utilized a South African brand that I recognize from producing Van der Hum.
• The other eGullet contibutor was Craig E who used a date-infused Bourbon to add a great richness to the classic!
• Fellow Massachusetts cocktail blogger Todd Yard was next up with his entry in the Concocktails blog with the Saint-Tropez inspired by the gin-Dubonnet classic, the Zaza.
• Marius of ArcanePotions takes the standard Manhattan and gussied it up with some oleo saccharum for the Orange in the Rye cocktail.
• A Mexican-themed Manhattan? Katie from GarnishBlog offered up the first of these, the Cuauhtémoc.
• Gary, the good doctor of Doc Elliot's Mixology, took the Manhattan in two directions. The first was one that spiked in sherry and orange flavors, and the second added in some orange notes and barrel time!
• For a second Mexican-themed Manhattan, Chris Tunstall of ABarAbove did not opt for agave but aged rum and mole bitters for the Teotihuacan!
• Andrea of GinHound wandered with the amari for vermouth idea with the Gowanus.
SpiritedRemix's DJHawaiianShirt did go the agave route but took a more seasonal idea in the Violet Hour-themed Summerdusk.
• The drink that I, Frederic of CocktailVirgin, had my eye on a drink from Sam Ross coincidentally had me in that neighborhood of NYC later that week. Namely, the Cobble Hill that someone else was also inspired to write about for this MxMo!
• Christa and Shaun of the BoozeNerds do double time with a single post: a dark amaro and nutty Ten Paces at Dawn and an amaro and herbal liqueur Park View.
• I wasn't planning on doing two drinks, but it came up how the Manhattan and the Sazerac were on the short list of drinks that I could pick as "my drink" to never veer from. But why can't I have both?
• Dagreb posted his preferred house Manhattan with an olive garnish over at NihilUtopia. Perhaps he will put in a footnote as to why he called it such...
• A White Manhattan? Kafka at KitchShamanism worked his magic with some white dog whiskey into his Crystalline Manhattan.
• Any time that I can push JFL of RatedRCocktails out of his comfort zone, I feel that my job is done for the day (or perhaps this time for the mixology month). Move aside Tiki, it's Manhattan -- My Chinatown Moll!
• Brenda Sharpe of DeliciousCocktailTime paid tribute to her home of Canada with a bit of Pimm's and a touch of black currant in the Victoriana.
• For Stuart Putney of PutneyFarms, it is the Perfect Manhattan that does it for him. Perfectly Perfect.
• Returning back to Canada, Whitney of TipicularFixins was inspired by all of her city's cherry blossoms from Japan to make a Japanese whisky Brooklyn-like number, the Sakura.
• Chris of Mindtron or is it BuriedPleasure split things up by crossing a Black Manhattan with a Rum Manhattan for the Hamilton. And no, not the rum (Ed) Hamilton, but the President one. And he also doubled things up with the tequila-based Solar Flare!
• What better reason to start a blog than MxMo? ThreeLeggedCocktails launched things off with the City West by making his own wormwood wines (essentially vermouths or proto-vermouths)!
• Great minds think alike, and Hilary at SpiritedAwayCocktails also picked the Cobble Hill. While my path was searching for NYC burrough-named drinks, hers was for Manhattan variations using Amaro Montenegro.
• Light rum and Lillet factor heavily into Joel DiPippa's Privateer Cocktail on SouthernAsh. He even got philosophical about the elemental nature of the recipe...
• The first of the late bunch (but still under my posting the roundup) was Matt (and Catherio) of DrinkSomethingCompletelyDifferent. He mixed things up with a spiced syrup to round out the Alphabet City Cocktail.
• The next of the post-deadline ones sent in a twitter warning that recipe snafus were sending her into overtime. The Muse of Doom of Feu de Vie did not let me down with her Secret Agent Manhattan though.

So there are the 24 entries that made the deadline for the first pressing of this wrapup. The post will be amended for late entries of course, but the first wave of readers will alas miss the magic. Thank you all for paying tribute to one of my favorite cocktails and first adult-styled mixed drinks that I enjoyed, the Manhattan!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

kapuna kane

1 1/2 oz Salers Gentiane Liqueur
1 oz Macchu Pisco
3/4 oz Pineapple Juice
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Cinnamon-Honey Syrup (*)
6 dash Angostura Bitters

Shake with ice and strain into a rocks glass. Garnish with a spritz of mezcal.
(*) Sub either all cinnamon syrup or 1/4 oz each cinnamon and honey syrup in a pinch.
A few Fridays ago, I ventured over to the Independent on my day off. For a drink, I started with the Kapuna Kane which was perhaps named after the Hawaiian children's book author who wrote Keoni The Good Menehune. I was lured in by the combination of Pisco and gentian liqueur. Once served, the Kapuna Kane yielded a smoky aroma from the mezcal with earthy and lightly floral notes underneath. Next, the sip was a dry honey flavor with fruit notes from the pineapple and lime. The pineapple continued on into the swallow where it joined the gentian's earthiness, and it all ended with a cinnamon and spice finish.

Monday, May 18, 2015

merchants exchange manhattan.

The theme for this month's Mixology Monday (MxMo XCVII) was selected by myself (to read more about the theme, look here), Frederic, and I could not contain myself to one drink after making the Cobble Hill. I picked "I'll Take Manhattan!" to continue on with the classic cocktail-themed MxMo's, for the Manhattan is part of the short list of drinks if I could only pick one to have as my call. Another is the Sazerac. But wait, why can't we have both?

That is pretty much how I thought up this drink on Saturday at brunch. Keep the rye and sweet vermouth of a Manhattan, but change the bitters from Angostura that I generally use for Peychaud's. Besides the Peychaud's, the conversion to a more Sazerac drink requires an absinthe rinse of the glass and a lemon oil garnish. Instead of a sugar cube or simple syrup, sweet vermouth would act as the sugar source. I guess that I did a similar thing converting the Sea Captain's Special from Stan Jones' Complete Barguide into the Sea Captain's Sazerac in a slightly abstracted way.
Merchants Exchange Manhattan
• 2 oz Rye Whiskey (Old Overholt)
• 1 oz Sweet Vermouth (Dolin)
• 3 dash Peychaud's Bitters
Stir with ice and strain into a rocks glass pre-rinsed with absinthe (Butterfly). Garnish with lemon oil.
For a name, I selected "Merchants Exchange" to tack on to "Manhattan." The original idea came from a Wikipedia entry about the Sazerac that led me to search again and find a great article written by David Wondrich in Esquire. The Merchants Exchange Coffee House was a bar under the ownership of Sewell Taylor until 1850 when he gave it up for the liquor import business. One of his import products was the Sazerac-de-Forge et Fils Cognac that went into the early Sazerac Cocktail recipe. The bar was transferred to Aaron Bird who changed the name of the bar to the Sazerac House; there, they sold the Sazerac Cocktail with Taylor's Cognac and local bitters from a nearby druggist, Antoine Amedie Peychaud. So technically, my Manhattan variation should be a Cognac one here, but I assume that I can let the Phylloxera part of history be relevant here too.
Once made, the Merchants Exchange Manhattan began much like a Sazerac with lemon oil and anise-driven spice filling the bouquet. Grape added to the sip though to join the whiskey's malt, and it added a roundness to the swallow to mitigate the rye flavors and bitters' spice there.

I guess I picked a great theme for myself since I was motivated to do double time via a modern recipe as well as create one. And from the early entries for Mixology Monday and the enthusiastic Twitter activity, I am guessing that I am in good company with this one. So thank you all for building up energy on this theme and building up the cocktail blogger community as a whole. Normally, I cannot wait for the wrap-up post; however, that feat is on my shoulders. Cheers!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

cobble hill

The theme for this month's Mixology Monday (MxMo XCVII) was picked by myself, Frederic. The topic I chose was "I'll Take Manhattan!" since it seemed like a good continuation of the classic cocktail-themed Mixology Mondays as of late such as the Old Fashioned and the Martini, and the Manhattan is part of the short list of "if I could only have one cocktail for the rest of my days" drinks. I elaborated on the concept by describing, "Turning to David Wondrich's Imbibe! for some historical reference, he bandied back and forth about possible creators and locales for this classic's creation. Perhaps it was created many places and many times, for sweet vermouth was the new hot ingredient of the 1870s and 1880s as St. Germain was in 2007 and 2008 (and arguably even to today). Wondrich quoted from the anonymously penned 1898 Cocktails: How To Make Them, 'The addition of Vermouth was the first move toward the blending of cocktails.' In my mind, the Manhattan takes the Old Fashioned one step further. Not only does it replace the sugar with sweet vermouth, but this sweetener ties its herbal notes to those of the bitters and its spice notes to the barrel-aged whiskey (especially rye whiskey) as well as the bitters again. Furthermore, the addition of a hint of fruit and caramel flavoring is a welcome addition to the mix... For this theme, actuate it any way you'd like as long as the drink resembles a Manhattan. Want to take 19th century Manhattan recipes or variations to the test? ...Or perhaps subbing out the whiskey or vermouth for another ingredient or adding in a liqueur or other modifier or so to the mix? Awesome, you're right on track! There are plenty of Manhattan and Manhattan variations out there in the literature, and there’s plenty of room to explore and tinker if that's your thing, too."
For inspiration, I tracked back to an article by Robert Simonson from Time Out NY from January 2009 entitled "A cocktail for every 'hood: Next stops, Bushwick, Carroll Gardens" which mentions the then new crop of cocktails named after New York neighborhoods. At that time, Amaro Montenegro was unavailable in Boston so I did not make the drink, but once the amaro became available here mid-2011 and I owned it early-2012, I had forgotten about the drink. However, this theme brought me back to the Cobble Hill recipe. And last weekend when crashing at my brother's house in Brooklyn before going to Gary Regan's Cocktails in the Country, life brought me to Cobble Hill itself.
Cobble Hill
• 2 oz Rye Whiskey (Old Overholt)
• 1/2 oz Dry Vermouth (Noilly Prat)
• 1/2 oz Amaro Montenegro
• 2 slice Cucumber
Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.
The Cobble Hill is attributed to Sam Ross when he was at Milk & Honey as his "summertime Manhattan." The article quotes Sam as declaring, "The addition of dry vermouth and a bruised cucumber did brighten up the rye whiskey and almost deems it refreshing." Once mixed, the Cobble Hill shared a rye and lemon aroma. Malt and a vegetal sweetness on the sip gave way to rye and clementine on the swallow and a cucumber smoothness on the finish. Overall, I was quite impressed at how well rye and cucumber go together; previously, most of the cucumber-complementary drinks I have drank have been agave, gin, aquavit, and perhaps rum.

Unlike normal, I will not say thanks to the host for picking the theme this time since all of my gratitude this month is towards the participants of Mixology Monday for churning out content and for the readers who add to overall the enthusiasm!

Friday, May 15, 2015

:: highlights from cocktails in the country ::

Earlier in the week, I attended Gary Regan's Cocktails in the Country 2015, the first of a series of events he last did in 2007. From meeting up at noon on Monday until being dropped back off in Manhattan at 7pm on Tuesday, I was in the company of 9 other bartenders in various stages of their careers as well as a few industry guests. We all made the pilgrimage to Cornwall, NY, where Gary lives about 60 miles north of Manhattan, and the event from bar to overnight accommodations were held at Painters Inn. The two days were filled with classes, interactive sessions, Negroni drinking, and bartending time, and here are some of the gems that were discussed.
One of the books that Gary reads over and over again is The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. These four rules are quite pertinent for a bartender to get along well with both your guests and your coworkers:
1. Be impeccable with your word (i.e.: do not lie).
2. Do not take anything personally (criticism often is not about you but about them and their insecurities).
3. Do not make assumptions.
4. Always do your best (your best today might not be as your best yesterday, and do not beat yourself up as long as you are doing your best).
Gary spoke a lot about mindful bartending -- the total awareness of everything around you from what your customers, your fellow staff, and even the kitchen are doing. Set your intentions for the evening; "I want to make a lot of money tonight" is not as important as "I want to be of service to my guest" because that will set things up such that the money will come naturally. Mindfulness can start with focusing on communication. Whether you are at work or running errands in town, ask "How are you today?" and wait for a response along with eye contact. Perhaps not when you are in the weeds at the bar, but start when it is slower. And not just the guests, but consider the dishwasher, the barback, and others who may not get noticed in life. Communication is a two way street but stop and listen to what people have to say.
Part of the event was a library hour. The book I selected was the 1901 The New Police Gazette Bartenders Guide that had the above gem about politeness and affability costing nothing. This rare gem was a privilege to read; such century-old paperbacks are so fragile that few are left in such great condition and the ones that I have seen for sale have been well out of my price range.

Phrasing is an important part of communication.
• Avoid the tyranny of "shoulds" and avoid the use of should at all costs. Instead use the phrase "you might want to think about."
• "I need your help." Whether it is a coworker or the ringleader of a rowdy group of patrons, singling them out so they feel special makes them more amenable to what you need to be done.

Similar to what was discussed at Anchor Distilling's Educational Drinking Tour, 90% of success is making yourself easy to work with. Gary presented a few guidelines and parameters to consider:
• Never agree to do something you do not want to do or cannot do.
• Always meet deadlines.
• Communicate constantly.
• Help promote your competition.
• Never badmouth anyone.
• Never take yourself too seriously.
Life is far too important to be taken seriously. -- Oscar Wilde
• Do not be a prima donna -- you are no better than anyone else. Success does not make you any better.
• Never lie about your strengths.
In preparing for a shift, consider getting to work early. Whether you meditate, read, or eat food, the time will help you center yourself and prepare yourself for the shift.

Never, ever get angry. However, you will not be successful every time. Anger is fear based. In trying to diffuse situations, know that the victim is afraid. Afraid of acting, afraid of doing nothing. Use humor and connection to your advantage.

Find a good mentor. Most bartenders are willing to share their knowledge. Just sitting at their bar and watching how they handle various situations can be helpful.

Use cleaning the bar during the shift to your advantage. Cleaning will restore organization and teach you where things live. Moving up and down the bar during the cleaning will allow you to interact with all of the guests.

Finally, nobody goes to a bar for a drink. You can drink at home, but people go out to celebrate, meet other people, find romance, conduct business, or read. People will go out for a drink if they hear that the place has quality cocktails, but they will not return if that is all they get. The most important goal of a bartender's job is to make sure that every guest leaves the bar happier than when they walked in.

For further insight into mindful bartending, I recommend Gary's Gary Regan's Annual Manual for Bartenders series. I own and have read 2011 and 2012, and I have 2013 coming my way. Those books pointed me in the direction of such literary gems as This Must Be the Place. And there are still several more dates for Cocktails in the Country and more information can be had here.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

stirred sling

1 oz Appleton Estate Reserve Rum
1 oz Zafra Rum (Zaya)
1 barspoon Benedictine
1 barspoon Maraschino Liqueur
1 barspoon Grand Marnier
2 dash Orange Bitters (Regan's)

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail coupe. Garnish with a lime twist.

Two Tuesdays ago, I began to flip through Food & Wine: Cocktails 2012 and stopped at the Julie Reiner's Singapore Sling riffs. I had previously made the Lani Kai Sling but I had not tried the Stirred Sling that she created at Lani Kai. Julie explained that, "The Singapore Sling is one of my favorite tropical cocktails," and the text described how this deconstructed Singapore Sling removed all the juice and replaced the gin with rums that donated some of the fruity flavors back.
The Stirred Sling presented a bright lime oil aroma over that of the deep, rich caramel rum. The caramel continued on into the sip and swallow, and the swallow also contained chocolate and further rum notes with a nutty Maraschino and orange finish.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015


1/2 English Gin (1 1/2 oz Seagram's)
1/2 Dry Vermouth (1 1/2 oz Noilly Prat)
1 tsp Chartreuse (1/4 oz Green)
1 Orange Peel

Shake with ice (stir) and strain into a cocktail glass. I garnished with an orange twist.

Two Mondays ago, I reached for the 1927 Cuban El Arte de Hacer un Cocktail y Algo Mas that was translated cover to cover into English by Mixellany to The Art of Making a Cocktail. There, I spotted the Puentes which translates into Bridges that reminded me more of a tunnel drink, namely Kevin Martin's Albert Mathieu that he created at Eastern Standard and took with him in 2008 on a bartender exchange with PDT (we got Daniel Eun for a few nights!). Or perhaps this recipe comes closest to a much more balanced and more Dry Martini variation of the Bijou. The orange peel in the mixing tin is very parallel with the orange bitters that color the Bijou; I am not sure if a light muddling and stirring accomplished the same as shaking with ice though.
The Puentes began like it ended with orange notes here on the nose. A clean wine sip gave way to juniper and Green Chartreuse herbal notes in a balanced sort of way all with an orange peel finish.