Wednesday, October 17, 2018

andalusian fog cutter

1 oz Lustau Brandy (Camus VS Cognac)
1 oz Lustau Oloroso Sherry
1 oz London Dry Gin (Tanqueray)
1 oz Lime Juice
1 oz Orange Juice
1/2 oz Strawberry Syrup (1 Strawberry + 1/2 oz Simple Syrup, muddled)
1/4 oz Orgeat

Whip shake (I added a fine strain step to remove the muddled strawberry), pour into a Tiki mug, and fill with crushed ice. Garnish with a mint sprig and a lime shell/orange peel sailboat.
Two Wednesdays ago, I continued on with my recipe findings from the Lustau competitions, and I selected another recipe from Jason Saura of Seattle's Navy Strength after enjoying his 2018 entry called the Cutlass. His 2017 drink was a Spanish riff on the Fog Cutter that he dubbed the Andalusian Fog Cutter. Once prepared, the Tiki libation proffered a strawberry and mint bouquet to the nose. Next, lime and orange notes complemented the strawberry on the sip, and the swallow donated gin and nutty sherry and orgeat flavors with a strawberry finish.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

christopher moody

1 oz Dark (or Aged) Rum (Plantation Original Dark)
1 oz Dry Vermouth (Noilly Prat)
1/2 oz Pear Liqueur (Rothman & Winter)
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1 light dash Angostura Bitters

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

Two Tuesdays ago, I uncovered a ShakeStir competition entry that I had submitted in October 2014 but never had time to make called the Christopher Moody. The contest was rather seasonal for my description was, "Who wouldn't want to be a pirate for Halloween? And drink rum like a pirate? This dark rum and pear-tinged riff on the Scofflaw pays dark tribute to one of the scallywags of the High Seas." My original spec called for Zacapa 23 Rum and St. George Spiced Pear, but here I utilized Plantation Dark and Rothman & Winter Pear Liqueur perhaps yielding a bit less depth of flavor.
The Christopher Moody greeted the senses with lemon oil brightening the dark rum nose. Next, the lemon mingled with the rum's caramel on the sip, and the swallow offered rum, pear, and clove spice notes to round out this Autumnal Sour.

Monday, October 15, 2018

must be nice

1 oz Lustau Amontillado Sherry
1 oz Appleton Estate 12 Year Rum (Appleton Reserve)
1/2 oz Mezcal (Fidencio)
1 oz Pineapple Juice
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Cinnamon Syrup
1/4 oz Fassionola or Grenadine (Grenadine)

Whip shake, pour into a Tiki mug, fill with crushed ice, and garnish with pineapple leaves, pineapple crescent, lime wheel, cherry, and toy gold coins (mint sprigs and nasturtium flower).
Two Mondays ago, I was desiring a tropical drink to escape the cold drizzle that was rolling over our fair town. Therefore, I decided upon the Must Be Nice created by Kevin Beary at Chicago's Three Dots and a Dash; I had spotted the recipe in the Lustau 2017 competition archives, and it seemed worthy of braving the rain to gather garnishes. Once prepared, my choice of garnish gave forth a mint and peppery floral nose over the drink's cinnamon and grape aromas. Next, grape, lime, and pineapple combined for a fruity sip, and the swallow presented rum, smoky mezcal, and nutty grape with a pineapple and cinnamon finish. Overall, I was impressed at how well the Amontillado, mezcal, and cinnamon trio played out to provide complementary flavors and offer the drink a solid backbone.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

second line season

2 oz Calvados (Boulard VSOP)
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
2 tsp Amaro Montenegro (1/3 oz)
1 tsp Maraschino Liqueur (1/6 oz Luxardo)
2 dash Boker's Bitters (Jerry Thomas Decanter)

Shake with ice, strain into a wine glass half rimmed with sugar, fill with pebbled (crushed) ice, and garnish with 3-4 dried (fresh) apple slices and freshly grated nutmeg.

Two Sundays ago, I went shopping for an apple to properly garnish a cocktail that I had spotted in Punch Drinks called the Second Line Season. The recipe was created by Nick Detrich and Chris Hannah as they prepare to open the Jewel of the South in New Orleans. The original Jewel of the South was the bar at the New Orleans City Exchange on Gravier Street in the American Quarter (just west of the French Quarter) where Joseph Santini invented the Brandy Crusta circa 1852. The new Jewel of the South will be on St. Louis Street near N. Rampart Street in the French Quarter with an eye on preserving bits of history such as this tribute to the Crusta akin to how Detrich and associates Bellocq paid respect to the Cobbler at Bellocq.
The Second Line Season offered up apples accented by woody spice on the nose. Next, the apple continued on into the crisp sip along with lemon notes, and the swallow followed up with more apple, nutty Maraschino, orange, and spice on the swallow.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

parisian sour

2 oz Louis Royer Force 53 Cognac (Camus VS)
3/4 oz Dolin Blanc Vermouth
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Cane Syrup (Simple Syrup)
1 Egg White

Shake once without ice and once with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with chocolate bitters (Bittermens Molé).
After getting back from a bar shift two Saturdays ago, I wanted to treat myself to a cocktail, so I reached for Sother Teague's I'm Just Here for the the Drinks book. There, I was lured in by the Pisco Sour riff, the Parisian Sour, that subbed in overproof Cognac and blanc vermouth for the pisco. Since I lacked strong Cognac, I opted for a sturdy 80 proof one and balanced that by toning down the sugar content by using simple syrup instead of cane syrup (cane syrup is closer to 2:1 simple). In the glass, the Parisian Sour presented a chocolate and Cognac bouquet in an earthy way. Next, a creamy lemon sip slid into a Cognac and floral-herbal swallow.

Friday, October 12, 2018

sfumato swizzle

1 1/2 oz Sfumato Rabarbaro Amaro
1 oz Pineapple Juice
3/4 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Doctor Bird Jamaican Rum (Smith & Cross)
1/2 oz Falernum (Velvet)
1/2 oz Giffard Banane du Bresil

Build in a Collins glass, fill with crushed ice, swizzle to mix and chill, and garnish with mint and freshly grated nutmeg.

Two Fridays ago, I was reading Reddit's cocktails forum and spotted a curious drink called the Sfumato Swizzle. The recipe was created by Alex P. (a/k/a xxfactory), and it seemed based off of Marco Dionysos' Chartreuse Swizzle. Besides the swap of herbal liqueurs, this recipe inserted Jamaican rum as we did nightly with the Mixoloseum house's Chartreuse Swizzle riff during Tales 2010, and it added crème de banana to perhaps balance the bitterness of the amaro. Overall, I was definitely drawn to the absurdity of the drink, especially since I had been pondering how long it would take me to finish my new purchase of Sfumato that I used it a quarter or half ounce at a time.
The Sfumato Swizzle greeted the senses with mint, woody spice, and a darker aroma from the Sfumato. Next, that darkness continued on into the sip along with the lime and pineapple, and the swallow proffered funky rum along with bitter flavors tempered by tropical banana ones.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

new yorleanian

1 oz Rye Whiskey (Rittenhouse Bonded)
1 oz Laird's Apple Brandy (Laird's Bonded)
1/2 oz Benedictine
1/2 oz Punt e Mes
2 dash Peychaud's Bitters
2 dash Absinthe (1/3 bsp St. George)

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with a cherry.

When I got back from my trip to Kentucky two Thursdays ago, I was in the mood for a nightcap. Therefore, I selected from my drinks-to-make list a New York-inspired riff on the La Louisiane called the New Yorleanian. The recipe was crafted by Abigail Gullo of the Crescent City's Compere Lapin and was published in a Maxim Magazine article on riffs on New Orleans' classic cocktails. Her concept was inspired by growing up by the apple orchards in Hudson Valley, NY, and the combination reminded me a bit of the Town Crier, Green Street's Picon-less variation on the Creole, and Drink's 1919.
The New Yorleanian greeted the nose with anise, herbal, and apple aromas. Next, apple and grape played on the sip, and the swallow donated rye, apple, and lightly bitter herbal flavors with an anise finish.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

:: knowing people by whom & where they haunt ::

First published on the USBG National blog in July 2018.

For a recent bartender event application, I was asked, “Tell us about one non-industry related book, article, or experience that shaped your world view.” As an avid reader, I wanted to take a literary route, but I slightly panicked since over the last decade or so, I have been reading little besides industry related books to satiate my curiosity and need for furthering my education. Therefore, I thought about the decade before that when I read a lot of fiction instead of my regular dose of nonfiction. I had a few favorite genres that I gravitated towards including Japanese post-war, Beat authors, American gothic, and punk poets. But the one that I honed in on was my affection to French surrealists. I was quite into surrealism back then ranging from reading authors like Bataille and Desnos, watching films such as by Buñuel and Man Ray, and viewing art such as by Remedios Varo and Dalí. My future-wife and I even threw a surrealist New Years Eve party in 2003 replete with parlor games like the Exquisite Corpse, bizarre decorations, and champagne flutes for the toast each with the name of a different period artist or writer emblazoned on it.

It was actually that party that began our household’s accumulation of booze that led me down the road of becoming a professional bartender, and we still have a bottle from that event in our collection, namely Ketel One Citroen, that I bought because it was gift packed with a Cobbler shaker (which has stayed true to this day). Moreover, my deep interest in surrealism bled into some of my later drink names that were dubbed after artwork or movies from Dalí, Soupault, and Buñuel. Instead of focusing in on the bizarre aspects often associated with surrealism, I went with the books on how surrealists saw their world, friends, and city. For this, I went with one of my favorites – Andre Breton’s surrealistic love story Nadja; it is one of the two books that I have gifted to more friends than I can count (the other is a counterculture work by Richard Fariña).

Breton began the tale with the question “Who am I?” and answered it by describing how everything could be learned from whom (and where) he haunts. I have frequently utilized this concept to understand hospitality where a lot of effort is spent figuring out why people go to places and more specifically why they return. While the food and/or drink might be excellent and enough to get people to visit semi-regularly on their own, it is often some combination of bartenders, servers, other guests, mood, and décor that the patrons come back for again and again. When I want to learn more about a person, I often ask where they like to go out and why they like going there. From that, I can gain a lot of insight into their concept of hospitality and even how they might be as a coworker or as my bartender. Is it the warmth of the owners, how the bartenders facilitate the guests talking to each other, or the memory recall of the staff of the last times you were in and what was going on in your life; or is it more because they give you free stuff? Sometimes the reasons are not as easy to describe other than it just feels like home. Maya Angelou said something that captures this emotional connection that makes people come back, declaring, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
The book Nadja also contains 44 plates of photos, images, and artwork as physical connections to his story. Likewise, the faces, the drinks, and bars that I have captured in my mind (and in some of my writings and photos) have strong parallels to the emotional power that people and places can have on us. As a bartender, getting the requested food or drink item is the basic labor that is expected of us to make the night acceptable. To elevate the experience into something more memorable and our establishment more haunt-worthy, we have to begin to think past the basics and channel our inner warmth, absurdity, and theatrics. Many of my favorite moments sitting at bars had little to do with what was in my cup but dealt with goofy, compassionate, or extra-social bartenders and the energized guests that they helped develop and foster.

Some of these bartenders have this magic in themselves; perhaps not every waking moment but it seems to be part of their on-switch after clocking in for the shift. Others develop a beautiful synergy and repartee with their coworkers. I have definitely noted that my bar stays full and the tips are higher when I am sharing the stick with a coworker where we bring the best out of the other. Positive energy through joking, banter, and getting the guests involved becomes contagious and promotes patrons’ desire to linger and bask in the mood. Meanwhile, shifts with some coworkers can more banal with the energy being more somber and functional, and there are pairings that have promoted variations along that spectrum. Sometimes the secret to giving the crowd a great energy is to devote energy to making your coworker laugh and feel loved. Things will flow more smoothly once that bond is set for the shift since bartenders and servers seem to do a better job when they are truly enjoying themselves. Similarly in Nadja, Breton pronounced, “Beauty will be convulsive or not at all.” Here, he meant that the wonderful things in life have a strong relationship with passion.

I will not know for a bit whether my answer (which was much shorter than this) satisfied the event’s essay readers, but I enjoyed returning to my literary past and trying to connect it to my present thinking. Not all of our bartending education can be satisfied by reading the greats like Embury, DeVoto, and Wondrich; true, without those tomes, we would be lost and out of touch with history, but there is much to be gleaned from opening up the mind to other genres and finding parallels in life.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

this one goes out...

1 oz Campari
3/4 oz Blanco Tequila (Cimarron)
3/4 oz Mezcal (Fidencio)
1/2 oz Salers Gentian Liqueur (Suze)
1/2 oz Cocchi Americano
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Simple Syrup
1 Egg White

Shake once without ice and once with ice, strain into a glass (single old fashioned), and garnish with an orange twist.

Two Sundays ago, I was perusing the ShakeStir archives for an interesting drink that evening. There, I spotted an agave Negroni egg white Sour called This One Goes Out that was perhaps a R.E.M. reference. Given the smokiness of the mezcal and how it parallels the fire references in the song The One I Love and the album Document as a whole (my cassette's cover had "File under Fire" on it), I was further intrigued. The recipe was crafted by Taina Spicer at The Dillinger Room in New Brunswick, NJ, as her Negroni Week 2017 offering.
The This One Goes Out donated an orange oil bouquet over agave and hints of smoke. Next, a creamy lemon and orange sip slid into smoky agave, gentian, and bitter orange on the swallow. Overall, the gentian liqueur complemented the tequila and mezcal rather well as it did in the Terrible Love, the citrus and egg white smoothed over the mix's rough edges, and the combination was indeed more than a simple prop to occupy my time.

Saturday, October 6, 2018


1 oz Mezcal (Fidencio)
3/4 oz Blended Scotch (Famous Grouse)
1/4 oz Giffard Banane du Bresil
1/4 oz Honey Syrup

Stir with ice, strain into a Snifter glass with an ice cube, and garnish with oil from a lemon twist.
For a nightcap two Saturdays ago, I reached for Sother Teague's I'm Just Here for the Drinks and selected a smoky number called the Guillotine. The recipe was crafted by Ms. Franky Marshall at Le Boudoir in Brooklyn which has a Marie Anotinette theme; The Gothamist mentioned the cocktail, "There's even a reference to Anotinette's famous execution by beheading in 1793 with the Guillotine, a smokey combination of mezcal and scotch with banana and honey." Once prepared, the Guillotine proffered lemon oil and smoke to the nose. Next, Scotch's barley malt danced with honey on the sip, and the smoky agave paired with Scotch on swallow which led into a banana finish that worked well with the fruity-vegetal notes of the mezcal.

Friday, October 5, 2018

leaving manhattan

2 oz Bourbon (Four Roses)
1/2 oz Punt e Mes
1/4 oz Crème de Cacao (Tempus Fugit)
1/4 oz Lapsang Souchoung Tea Syrup (*)
2 dash Orange Bitters (Regan's)

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with an orange twist.
(*) A strong steep of tea mixed in equal parts with sugar. Here, I added half the amount of boiling water as normal, did a 5 minute steep, and only used 1/2 oz of the tea to 1/2 oz sugar.

Two Fridays ago, I was in the mood for a straight spirits drink, and I recalled a Manhattan variation in Gary Regan's revised and updated The Joy of Mixology which seemed appealing. That recipe was the Leaving Manhattan by Joann Spiegel, and the drink netted her first place in the New York City edition of the Woodford Reserve Manhattan Experience competition in 2012. The Bourbon, vermouth, and minor modifiers reminded me of my 2014 entry to the Boston part of the same contest: Shadows and Tall Trees; while that was not the winner (Woodford dominated the balance that worked well with another whiskey), it was meaningful to me as my first live cocktail competition as a bartender.
In the glass, the Leaving Manhattan greeted the senses with orange, whiskey, smoke, and grape aromas. Next, grape and malt mingled on the sip akin to the average Manhattan, but the swallow took a turn after the Bourbon aspect with a pleasing medley of bitter, chocolate, smoke, and tea tannin notes.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

knife to a gun fight

1 3/4 oz Bourbon (Old Grand-Dad Bonded)
3/4 oz Aperol
1/2 oz Zucca (Sfumato)

Stir with ice, and strain into a double old fashioned glass rinsed with Laphroaig 10 Year Scotch and containing a large ice cube.
Two Thursdays ago, I got home late from working an event in the Back Bay, and I was in the mood for a nightcap. Therefore, I selected a recipe from ShakeStir that seemed to fit my need called the Knife to a Gun Fight. The drink was crafted by Patrick Gaggiano in 2015 while running the show at the Viale bar in Cambridge before he crossed the street to tend at Brick and Mortar a few months later. Once prepared, the Scotch's peat met the Sfumato's smoky Chinese rhubarb aroma on the nose. Next, orange and malt on the sip led into Bourbon and bitter orange on the swallow with a dark, smoky finish.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

fort york

45 mL Rye Whiskey (1 1/2 oz Old Overholt)
15 mL Fernet Branca (1/2 oz)
30 mL Lime Juice (3/4 oz)
20 mL Orgeat (3/4 oz)
Mint Leaves (8 leaf)

Shake with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with a mint sprig.

Two Wednesdays ago, alerted me of a drink posted on their feed from Reece Sims of the WhiskeyMuse called the Fort York. The recipe was her cross between a Toronto and a Southside that she crafted at the Diamond in Vancouver earlier this year, and she paid tribute to a neighborhood on the south side of Toronto called Fort York. The name and the inclusion of the Fernet Branca reminded me of the Old York Flip crafted by then Toronto bartender Taylor Corrigan.
The Fort York met the nose with mint, menthol, and lime aromas. Next, a creamy caramel and lime sip transitioned into rye notes along with bitter menthol smoothed out by earthy orgeat on the swallow.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

chain smoker

2 oz Mezcal (Fidencio)
3/4 oz Dry Vermouth (Noilly Prat)
1/4 oz Zucca Rabarbaro (Sfumato)
2 dash Cocktail Punk Smoked Orange Bitters (Angostura Orange)

Stir with ice, strain into a rocks glass, and garnish with a flamed orange twist.
Two Tuesdays ago, I decided to pick up a bottle of Amaro Sfumato, and I sought out a recipe that specified it or a compatible rabarbaro, namely Zucca. The one that called out to me was Sother Teague's Chain Smoker from his I'm Just Here for the Drinks book that utilized a series of smoky ingredients. Once prepared, the Chain Smoker greeted the senses with an orange and rubbery smoke bouquet. Next, dark notes from the Sfumato paired with a dry white grape from the vermouth on the sip, and the swallow was much more complex with smoky, vegetal agave melding into bitter herbal elements on the swallow. Overall, the drink was not incredibly bitter given the small amount of amaro, but it was rather full of flavor especially given the otherwise stark mezcal Martini format.

las pozas

2 oz Beefeater Gin
1/2 oz Falernum
1/4 oz Orgeat
1 oz Lime Juice
1 dash Angostura Bitters
1 slice Cucumber
1 pinch Mint (~6 leaf)

Muddle the cucumber, add the rest of the ingredients, and shake with ice. Strain into a Collins glass filled with ice interspersed with 3 slices of cucumbers.

After Kirkland Tap & Trotter, I headed down to the Southend to visit Sahil Mehta at Estragon. There, Sahil offered me his recipe book to flip through, and one of his drinks of the day from July with cucumber and gin seemed like the perfect offering. For a name, Sahil and I focused on the garden aspect of the drink; that and the English gin brought up the idea of the Surrealist garden, Las Pozas, that British writer Edward James built in the jungles of Mexico.
The Las Pozas greeted the nose with a cucumber bouquet that led into a lime and vegetal sip. Next, juniper, cucumber, mint, a touch of nuttiness, and clove made for a flavorful swallow.

Monday, October 1, 2018

the blackspot

1/2 oz Green Chartreuse
1/2 oz St. George Absinthe
1/2 oz Velvet Falernum
1/2 oz Rhum Clement Coconut Liqueur
3/4 oz Water
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Demerara Syrup

Build in a glass, fill with crushed ice, swizzle to mix and chill, and garnish a dash of Jerry Thomas Decanter Bitters.
Two Mondays ago, friends from out of town invited me for a cocktail at Kirkland Tap & Trotter before they headed out to dinner elsewhere. For a drink, I asked bartender Kevin Jarvis for the Blackspot that he described as his coworker Rob's base spirit-less Swizzle. Once prepared, I figured that the name came from the circle of bitters on the surface that contributed to the nose of clove, herbal, and anise aromas. Next, a rich sip preceded the herbal and anise swallow with a licorice and coconut finish.