Friday, January 23, 2015


2/3 Dry Gin (1 oz Beefeater Summer)
2 dash Swet Vermouth (1 oz Cocchi)
2 dash Creme de Cassis (1 bsp G.E. Massenez)
1 dash Orange Bitters (Regan's)

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. I added an orange twist.

After the Tequila Zoom, I stuck with the cocktail time era and reached for Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars: 1903-1933 to find another quirky original. There, I spotted the Marblehead which I envisioned as a Martinez with cassis instead of Maraschino as the liqueur. Thus, I opted for a Martinez-like structure and made it more sweet vermouth forward. In picking a gin, I wanted to focus on the black currant notes and selected Beefeater Summer since the fruit is in the botanical mix (despite it being anything close to summer here).
The Marblehead offered a grape aroma lightened by the orange oil. The grape flowed on into the sip where it was complemented by a bright berry note from the cassis. Next, the cassis continued on into the swallow along with the gin, but the cassis here was a darker currant flavor that added a tart and bitter component to the finish.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

tequila zoom

1 drink Spirit (2 oz Piedra Azul Tequila) (*)
1 tsp Honey, dissolve in Boiling Water (2 tsp 1:1 Honey Syrup)
1 tsp Cream (1 tsp Half & Half)

Shake with ice and strain into a small wine glass.
(*) Original read Bacardi with the next option being brandy, gin, or whiskey.

Several months ago when Erick Castro was plotting out the Boiler Maker menu, he asked on Facebook about the Zoom and its origins. I replied that it was in Frank Meier's 1934 The Artistry Of Mixing Drinks and provided the information within. I remembered the drink's location because the Zoom was quite quizzical in that it appears like an orphan drink class that I do not recall seeing before or after that in the classic literature. I looked past it since honey and cream added to a spirit seemed rather basic, but if Erick was asking about it, perhaps it required a deeper look? I later found it in Difford's Guide as a Cognac drink with a higher amount of cream and honey with milk also in the mix as well as a chocolate powder dusting (bringing it closer to an Alexander especially with the option of adding crème de cacao). Forget about the modern and heavily modified recipe, and let's look at the 1930's Zoom.
For a spirit, I opted for tequila even though the main recipe in the book was for Bacardi that was made "special for Comte Jean de Limur" (a French film star and director most famous for his work in the 1930s). The secondary recipe recommended brandy, gin, or whiskey. With so much spiritous leeway, I figured that my hankering for tequila was within the realm. Once mixed, the Tequila Zoom shared an agave aroma with floral notes from the honey. A sweet, creamy, and smooth sip led into an herbal and spice tequila swallow. Indeed, the combination of honey and cream certainly brought out the earthiness of the tequila. I thought that the drink could also gain some complexity with a dash of bitters. When I posted the drink on Instagram, Tenzin Samdo (bartender at Trade) replied to the bitters part with a suggestion of Bittermens Mole Bitters. I agreed (although my initial thought was basic Angostura), and now I realize that chocolate bitters is the same flavor suggestion that the Difford's Guide recommends.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

blue peter

The theme for this month's Mixology Monday (MxMo XCIII) was picked by Andrea of the Ginhound blog. The theme she chose was "Blue" which seemed like a fun lead-in to drinks that could break up the winter doldrums and be a good foreword to February's Tiki month celebrated by the Pegu Blog and others. Andrea elaborated on the concept by describing, "January needs a bit of color -- or perhaps the month after all the holiday mania makes you Either way this month' Mixology Monday is a chance to live those emotions out. You can dazzle us with a brilliant blue drink or you can share that blue feeling with a melancholic drink. Blue has been predicted as a new cocktail trend several times in recent years... But any mixer of blue drinks is faced with a bit of a dilemma as there is nothing 'natural' about E133 -- the most common of blue food colors: Do I really want to mix chemicals into my prefect mixture of fresh juices and good booze? Feel free to interpret blue as freely as you wish -- if natural is the way you want to go blueberries, violets, cornflower or red cabbage could be good ingredients to work with."
According to this history of blue curaçao, the origins are a little confusing but many point to Bols who created their version in the 1920s while others point to Senior Curaçao of Curaçao. Both still produce their formulations today. While liqueurs have had artificial colorants for quite a while, the blue cordial trend seemed to gain steam along with pre-bottled sour mixes and the like. True, these liqueurs are fake in color, but real in the fun and frivolity that they can deliver. Instead of taking the Tiki route with something festive like the Blue Hawaiian or the Blue Marlin, I opted to take blue drinks to the earliest roots that I know of in the cocktail world, namely, 1937's Café Royal Cocktail Book. While I have made a few blue drinks (and one green one, the Green Line using blue food coloring and other ingredients) from that book, it was still easy to find something new and intriguing.
Blue Peter
• 1/4 Blue Curaçao (1 oz clear Senior Curaçao + 1 drop blue food coloring)
• 1/4 Booth's Gin (1 oz Hayman's Royal Dock)
• 1/4 Lillet (1 oz Cocchi Americano)
• 1/4 Orange Juice (1 oz Cara Cara)
Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. I added an orange twist.
The one that caught my eye was the Blue Peter that lay somewhere between a Corpse Reviver #2 and an Abbey Cocktail. The recipe was attributed to G. Munro who also crafted the Dee Don and Georgia drinks sans any blueness. Once mixed, the Blue Peter shared an orange and juniper aroma. The sip offered a complex orange flavor on top of the wine from the Cocchi Americano, and the swallow continued on with bitter orange notes as well as the gin botanicals. I opted for navy strength gin to dry out the drink since there was no lemon juice or bitters in the mix; perhaps a more juniper-forward gin might have done better here though for my palate to donate some additional herbal complexity. Dagreb commented on my Instagram post that he is suspicious of any time orange juice and orange liqueur are combined. I definitely agree, and the idea made me think that maybe I should have used tart Seville oranges with their lemon-like acidity that Stephen Shellenberger introduced me to.

Also, go see my companion post on the MocktailVirgin blog with a riff of the Blue Lady dubbed the Blue Girl from the same Café Royal Cocktail Book.

So thank you to Andrea for picking the theme and running this month's show, and thanks to the rest of the Mixology Monday participants for keeping the shakers shaking and the spirit of the event alive!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015


1 1/2 oz Old Monk Rum
1/2 oz Kahlua Coffee Liqueur
1 oz Punt e Mes
1 barspoon Allspice Dram
1 dash Bittermens Mole Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a coupe glass. Flame an orange twist over the top.

A few Mondays ago, we trekked over to Audobon for dinner. For a first cocktail, I asked bartender Taylor Knight for the 1919'36 that was on their drink of the week board. Bar manager Tyler Wang later came by and explained how the cocktail was a riff on the 1919 from Drink that included Kahlua coffee liqueur (which was first produced in 1936) in the mix.
The 1919'36 presented orange and coffee aromas with another darker note from either the Old Monk Rum or the Punt e Mes. A grape and caramel sip gave way to a dark rum, coffee, Punt e Mes' bitter, vanilla, and allspice swallow. Overall, the drink had a similar feel and structure to the original 1919, but it was more flavor forward with the coffee liqueur and spice opposed to subtle and complex with the rye and Benedictine.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

18th century

1 1/2 oz Batavia Arrack Van Oosten
3/4 oz Marie Brizard White Crème de Cacao
3/4 oz Carpano Antica (Cocchi Sweet Vermouth)
3/4 oz Lime Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail coupe.

A few Saturdays ago, I opened up the Death & Co. Cocktail Book and happened upon the 18th Century. The recipe was Phil Ward's variation on the classic 20th Century as his "love letter to Batavia Arrack." Until the book was published, I was unaware of this Death & Co. variation and only had known their 19th Century, his barmate Brian Miller's whiskey-based variation of said vintage drink from 1937.
The 18th Century began with funk notes from the Batavia Arrack and hints of cacao. A lime sip with a touch of grape led into a swallow where the Batavia Arrack was smoothed over by the chocolate liqueur. Overall, the 18th Century reminded me of a Floridita with a different rum-like spirit but devoid of grenadine in the mix.

Friday, January 16, 2015

trinidad & toboggan

3/4 oz Angostura Bitters
1/2 oz Braulio Amaro
1/4 oz Smith & Cross Rum
3/4 oz Orgeat
3/4 oz Lemon Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with grated nutmeg.

For a next drink, I requested the Trinidad & Toboggan from bartender Look Theres which was subtitled on the menu as "see what we did there? drink lots of Angostura bitters with winter flavors!" Fortuitously, it was bartender Look's creation, and he explained how the drink came about. One night, he had a guest who was amazed with the Angostura Bitters-heavy Trinidad Sour and also interested in Amaro Braulio. Look threw the two together and was pleased with the first pass results; it did require a touch of tinkering, and the improved version is what appears on the menu right now.
The freshly grated nutmeg garnish paid dividends on the aroma front. The sip was lemon and caramel with hints of orgeat, and surprisingly, the swallow was only gently herbal (instead of and relative to the blast I was expecting) soothed by the nutty orgeat.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

improper scaffa

1 1/2 oz Pierre Ferrand Ambre Cognac
1/2 oz Cardamaro
1/2 oz St. George Spiced Pear Liqueur
1/2 oz Maraschino Liqueur
1/2 oz Water
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Build in a rocks glass and stir briefly without ice to mix. Note: This is a room temperature cocktail.

Two Fridays ago, I ventured down to Backbar after my shift. For a first drink, I asked bartender Look Theres for the Improper Scaffa off of their menu's Tradesman section. Look attributed the recipe to bar manager Sam Treadway with help, suggestions, and tweaks provided by other members of the Backbar staff. Bartender Melinda Maddox later came by and explained the drink name and concept. First, it is not a Scaffa, but an improper one, since Scaffas do not contain a water component such as the one included here. Second, Scaffas are improper cocktails, since cocktails require at a minimum spirit, sugar, water (which can include ice melt during mixing), and bitters. Backbar also utilized a similar concept in their Missing Link room temperature libation.
The Improper Scaffa began with a brandy and pear aroma with hints of nutty cherry from the Maraschino liqueur. The sip was viscous in mouthfeel but not sweet since the spirits' heat helped to neutralize the sugar content's effects; moreover, the sip shared vague fruit notes. Finally, the swallow presented the majority of the fruit flavors by way of a combination of pear and Maraschino with an allspice, clove, and cinnamon-tinged finish.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

turn signal

1 oz High Proof Bourbon (Fighting Cock 103)
1 oz Grapefruit Juice (freshly squeezed Ruby Red)
1/2 oz Campari
1/2 oz Raspberry Gomme Syrup (Royal Rose Raspberry Syrup)

Shake with ice and strain into an ice-filled rocks glass. Garnish with an orange twist.
A few Tuesdays ago, I decided to make a drink that I spotted in the January/February issue of Imbibe Magazine called the Turn Signal. The recipe was attributed to Sean Hoard and Daniel Shoemaker of Portland, Oregon's Commissary, a juicing and syrup-making company founded by that duo who also have roots at the Teardrop Lounge. The combination of overproof Bourbon, Campari, and raspberry reminded me of Russell House Tavern's offering for Negroni Week, namely Sam Gabrielli's The Palazzo:
The Palazzo
• 1 oz Beefeater Gin
• 1 oz Campari
• 1/2 oz St. George's Raspberry Liqueur
• 1/2 oz Booker's Bourbon
Stir with ice and strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with an orange twist.
Once prepared, the Turn Signal shared an orange and grapefruit aroma. On the sip, the raspberry and grapefruit flavors mingled, while on the swallow, the Bourbon's barrel notes paired well with Campari's bitter orange flavors. Overall, the bitter bite of Campari complemented the tartness of the raspberry in the syrup rather elegantly.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

luna de cosecha

1 1/2 oz Espolon Añejo Tequila (Reposado)
3/4 oz Cocchi Sweet Vermouth
1/4 oz Cynar
1/4 oz Creme de Cacao (Marie Brizard)

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail coupe. Garnish with a cherry.
After the Twin Six Cocktail, I decided to make a recipe that I spotted in the most recent issue of Chilled Magazine called the Luna de Cosecha. The drink was created by Justin Noel of 1534 in New York, and it seemed worthy of making since both Cynar and crème de cacao partner so well with tequila. However, I had not had them both paired with agave in the same drink; in fact, the only drink that combined forces of Cynar and crème de cacao that I can recall was Colin Shearn's Transatlantic Giant with rum and whiskey as the base. Once prepared, the Luna de Cocecha proffered tequila and cacao aromas. A grape like sip led into an agave swallow with a minty, chocolate finish.