Monday, November 11, 2019

:: the joys and agonies of opening a new bar ::

First published on the USBG National site in December 2017 and slightly edited here to reflect time change.

When it comes time to look for a new gig, there are plenty of opportunities to fill a spot on an existing bar's roster, but there are occasionally chances to help to open a new bar program. Is it worth going through the challenge of forming new systems or is it easier to jump in for someone else departing in a more developed establishment? These are some of the things that I pondered before I made a move to open another restaurant's bar some time ago.

One of the perks of joining an existing program is that the staff can teach you the way things are done there, and after that training week or so, you can get right into the swing of earning a living from the regulars and the crowds that have already been built up. For less experienced bartenders, learning from the veteran staff is a great way to get oriented on how to do your job. And for less opinionated or more flexible bartenders, adopting their systems without complaint or input is just part of getting situated in the job.

In opening a new spot, often there are few systems firmly in place, but the bar manager or lead bartender will have ideas on how things should work. Sometimes the ideas match the space and other constraints, but sometimes aspects need to be figured out during the training period and adapted after open. Some leaders are very open to letting the other bartenders have great say in how things should be done and thus decide by consensus, while other leaders feel that it is their right to exert their system to begin with and adapt from there. This can range from house recipe specs to how the wells should be set up. Regardless, rules and standards will be in flux from dress code to comp policies, and sometimes you are alerted to these midway through your evening's shift.

Opening a place also takes a decent sense of humor and humility. Often recipes and processes will change on nights that you are not working and frequently the communication system to alert everyone is not in place. If you are into firm rules and boundaries, these rapid and poorly announced alterations can be jarring especially if delivered with the wrong tone. In addition, expectation for things like closing protocols can be written on paper, but following those to another's judgment when they arrive the next day can be very different.

There are two major problems financially with opening a new bar. The first comes with the open date. Very few places open when they think they will due to construction, city inspections, or other. Unlike joining an established program, the start time for training and opening are not fixed. If you are between jobs, that can mean an extended and indeterminate amount of unemployment (followed by underemployment since most places pay minimum wage for the training hours and sometimes training can drag an extra week or so past the standard expected two weeks). If you are in a position and looking to switch, that can mean playing a waiting game as a sleeper cell; unless of course you are honest and open about your plans to move on with your employer and do not fear them letting you go as soon as they hear that you are not 100% committed to their establishment.

The second financial consideration is earning potential. As mentioned above, the time waiting for training to begin and for the opening night can cost a bit in lost earnings. Following that, building up the guest traffic can be variable. Some places have such a buzz that they gain crowds from the open and continue on through. But in some restaurants, the opening week or two are filled with foodie tourists who are looking to check off that new box and most rarely return. Other spaces start slowly whether being in a developing neighborhood or due to a lack of public relations buzz being built up. Getting the right guests who agree with what you are offering to come in and you providing the right service, food, and drink to get them so that they return is a long haul process. Having some money saved up for this wage gap is necessary; some bartenders will keep a few shifts at their old bar and have fewer days off to tide them over in the meanwhile.

There are also differences in choosing your coworkers. In an established bar, you can sort out the dynamics while staging and quickly discern if there are some trouble spots on the roster. When opening a place, frequently there are only a few pieces in place when you accept, so perhaps you might know the bar and general managers, but the rest are a mystery. And once you gather together, often some percentage will drop out and some will enter into the equation starting in the middle of training and going into the first few weeks of service. If a manager hired well with both personality and talent in mind, there is a chance that a team can gel together rather quickly. Moreover, it is easier for a new hire to carve out their role in the team when it is forming than in joining one that has already hit their stride.

It can also take a bit of time to get the bar firing on all cylinders. Often there is a bit of over-staffing to make up for the inefficiencies of the start up effort. This can lead to frustration of money being split too many ways that can be compounded by other problems such as figuring out where things live (or where they moved to in that rearrangement that happened when you were not there).

When it comes time for a change, it is a good idea to weigh out all the options. New places can come with promises of tip and sales expectations or program greatness, but these are never set in stone. Joining an established program is less risky of a venture, but it can take a lot longer to make an imprint on how the bar functions. In the end, picking a new gig is a lot like dating. There has to be a mutual acceptance of the program and the worker, but after that, it is still a roll of the dice. It can be exciting to see who your regulars will be; although you can pick your food and drink offerings, the guests who return chose you. While you can escape that crazy regular and mourn your kind and generous ones at your last bar, you will find out what develops over time as to who will fill those two roles in the new location. Moreover, opening a new place can give you great insight into various bar programs’ philosophies and techniques as people are often really open to discussing how things were be done in their old spots. While there can be a lot of pleasure in opening a new spot, there is generally a lot of discomfort (both financial or psychological) involved: it is a lot like childbirth where new moms swear off of having another kid, but many return to it with renewed optimism over time.

mount makana

2 oz Pot Still Black Rum (Coruba) (*)
1 oz Pot Still Gold Rum (Smith & Cross)
1 1/2 oz Pineapple Juice
1 oz Lemon Juice
3/4 oz Fernet Branca
1/2 oz Coffee Liqueur (Kahlua)
3/4 oz Demerara Syrup

Shake with crushed ice, pour into a Tiki mug, and garnish with Tiki intent (mint sprigs).
(*) Coruba is a blend of pot and column; the only pot still black rum that I know of (and do not have) is the Hamilton's.
Two Mondays ago, I made another recipe that I had spotted on BigSmokeTiki's Instagram feed called the Mount Makana. His Fernet-laden riff on the Mr. Bali Hai was named after the mountain (also known as Bali Hai) on the South Pacific island of Kauai and is the last part of the United States to see the sunset every night. Once prepared, the Mount Makana erupted with caramel, mint, and menthol nose. Next, lemon, pineapple, and caramel on the sip flowed into dark and funky rums on the swallow with a menthol and coffee finish. Surprisingly, the Fernet Branca was kept in check here by the other strong flavors.

Sunday, November 10, 2019


1 jigger Dry Gin (1 1/2 oz Beefeater)
1/2 pony Brandy (1/2 oz Camus VS Cognac)
Juice of 1/2 Lime (1/2 oz)
3 dash Grenadine (1/2 oz)

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass; I added a lime wheel garnish.

Two Sundays ago, I turned to the wood-covered 1939 Just Cocktails by W.C. Whitfield for the evening's libation. There, I spotted the Flamingo that seemed like an egg-free Pink Lady of sorts. There are two other Flamingo that I know of with the first one being the one that I probably sourced off CocktailDB (most likely through Stan Jones' Complete Barguide) for the International Migratory Bird Day cocktail party we threw in our home in 2008. That Flamingo was gin, lime, apricot liqueur, and grenadine akin to the Bermudian that was later renamed the Boston Cocktail (I surmise that it was the Mr. Boston books that did so). The other Flamingo is the one from Ted Saucier's 1954 Bottoms Up with rum, pineapple, lime, and grenadine. Interestingly, all three recipes have an overlapping aspect of lime and grenadine.
The Flamingo from Whitfield's book began with a pine, berry, and aged brandy nose. Next, lime and berry notes on the sip flew into juniper supported by Cognac's richness on the swallow with a pomegranate finish. While contemplating the "brandy" aspect of the recipe, I did wonder if an unaged pisco would work better than Cognac here.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

brown sugar

1 oz Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva Rum
3/4 oz Rittenhouse Bonded Rye
3/4 oz Lustau East India Solera Sherry
3/4 oz Cynar
2 dash Bittermens Mole Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail coupe.
Two Saturdays ago, I was excited to crack into my new purchase of Leo Robitschek's The NoMad Cocktail Book; I had held off for years when it came as a mini addendum to the NoMad cooking book, but now that it was a stand alone (as well as expanded) version, I gladly made the purchase. The first recipe that clicked with me as I flipped through the pages was Leo's Brown Sugar with a 1919 Cocktail feel to it. Once prepared, the drink greeted the nose with a brown sugar and grape bouquet. Next, the sip continued on with grape and caramel notes, and the swallow offered rum, rye, nutty sherry, and vegetal bitterness with a rye spice and chocolate finish.

Friday, November 8, 2019


1 1/2 oz Scotch (Cutty Sark Prohibition)
1/2 oz Ruby or Tawny Port (Sandeman Tawny)
1/2 oz Campari
1/2 oz Zucca or Sfumato (Sfumato)
2 dash Orange Bitters (Regan's)

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with a lemon twist. Perhaps increasing the port to 3/4 oz and decreasing each of the amaro to 3/8 oz might balance the drink for a wider range of palates. Or perhaps 2 oz Scotch, 1/2 oz port, and 1/4 oz each amaro (with the bitters).

After work two Fridays ago, I had been thinking about how well Campari and rabarbaro (such as Zucca and Sfumato) can join forces to make a complex bitter note like in the Cosa Nostra. Since Scotch and Sfumato paired so well in drinks like the Caustic Negroni, I began to think about classic whisky cocktails and ended up on the port-containing Chancellor from the 1956 Esquire Drink book. With Phil Ward's Baltasar and Blimunda (a Negroni of sorts with port) in mind, I altered the Chancellor to include these two amari.
For a name, I kept with the academic theme that runs in Chancellor-like drinks like the Administrator, Guardian, and Professor and dubbed this one the Preceptor. The drink itself began with a lemon oil aroma over dark herbal smokiness and grape notes. Next, the port's rich grape filled the sip, and the swallow answered with a smoky Scotch flavor and bitter rhubarb root quickly merging into bitter orange on the swallow with a peat smoke finish. While I found the balance to hit the spot for my mood that night, perhaps increasing the port and/or decreasing each of the amaro might make the drink more accessible (see note in the instructions).

Thursday, November 7, 2019

over the yardarm

1 1/2 oz Demerara Rum (El Dorado 5 Year)
1/2 oz Plantation OFTD Overproof Rum
1 oz Amontillado Sherry (Lustau)
3/4 oz Crème de Cacao (1/2 oz Tempus Fugit) (*)
1/2 oz Swedish Punsch (Kronan)
1/2 oz Lemon Juice

Whip shake, pour into a Tiki mug, and fill with crushed ice. Float 1/2 oz Amaro Ramazzotti (*) and garnish with mint and cherries (omit cherries).
(*) For a less sweet drink, perhaps decreasing the crème de cacao to 1/2 oz and Ramazzotti to 1/4 oz and/or increasing the lemon juice to 3/4 oz would help the balance.

After work on Thursday, I decided to make a drink called the Over the Yardarm that I had spotted on Instagram. The recipe was crafted by BigSmokeTiki in London as he riffed on Trader Vic's Tortuga (which was perhaps a riff on the Floridita Daiquiri). The combination of dry sherry and citrus reminded me of the Kuula Hina that I created at Russell House Tavern years ago. Moreover, the Swedish punsch-crème de cacao combination was one that I had observed working well in the Battle Over Dutch and Swedish Sweet Tart.
The drink name may derive from the expression "The sun is over the yardarm"; in the North Atlantic, the sun would appear above the upper mast spars or yards around 11 am which coincided with the time when officers would take their first rum tot break of the day. The Over the Yardarm raised up a mint and root beer aroma. Next, lemon, caramel, and grape on the sip gave way to funky rum, chocolate, and nutty grape flavors on the swallow with a black tea finish. As the Ramazzotti float entered the equation, the balance got a bit sweeter and gained cola-like notes. Overall, the combination was perfect for the Autumn air as advertised.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

gully brood

3/4 oz Mezcal (Sombra)
3/4 oz Campari
3/4 oz Rabarbaro Zucca (Sfumato)
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Rich Simple Syrup (2/3 oz 1:1)

Shake with ice, strain into a Collins (rocks) glass, fill with crushed ice, and garnish with a grapefruit twist.

Two Wednesdays, I selected Clair McLafferty's 2017 The Classic & Craft Cocktail Recipe Book for the evening's libation. There, I honed in on the Gully Brood by Beckaly Franks who now lives in Hong Kong where she owns The Pontiac bar. I was able to uncover a 2015 version of the Gully Brood that she created at Portland's Clyde Commons that lacked the Campari, but the additional amaro in the mix seemed like a great addition; indeed, Campari and Zucca/Sfumato worked well in the Low Down.
The Gully Brood awakened the senses with a grapefruit and smoky-herbal nose. Next, lime and hints of roast on the sip led into smoky mezcal, bitter orange, and smoky-bitter rhubarb root flavors on the swallow.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

el puente

2 oz Mezcal (Fidencio)
1/2 oz Elderflower Liqueur (St. Elder)
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Grapefruit Juice
3 slice Cucumber

Muddle cucumber slices in lime juice and simple syrup. Add the rest of the ingredients, shake with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with a grapefruit twist.
After my work shift two Tuesdays ago, I spotted Greg Boehm and Jeff Mason's 2009 The Big Bartender's Book on the shelf and wondered if there were any passed over gems in there. The one that I uncovered was a Jim Meehan number called El Puente perhaps created in the early days of PDT that was never published in either of his books. The El Puente paired cucumber and elderflower liqueur together which worked elegantly in the Easy Street, so I was intrigued by this recipe. Once assembled, the El Puente met the nose with a grapefruit and smoke bouquet. Next, lime, grapefruit, and unripe melon on the sip crossed over into smoky mezcal, floral, grapefruit, and cucumber flavors on the swallow.

Monday, November 4, 2019

tropic thunder

2 oz Plantation OFTD Overproof Rum
1 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Passion Fruit Syrup
1/2 oz Don's Spices #2 (1/4 oz Vanilla Syrup + 1/4 oz Hamilton's Allspice Dram)

Shake with crushed ice, pour into a Hurricane glass (Tiki mug), and garnish with a mint sprig and a lemon wheel (nasturtium flower).

Since I decided to make fresh rolls two Mondays ago, I picked extra mint to make a tropical drink later that night. Therefore, I reached for Matt Pietrek and Carrie Smith's Minimalist Tiki book, and I ended up selecting Justin Wojslaw's Tropic Thunder. With rum, passion fruit, and lemon, the combination appeared like a Hurricane riff with half the syrup split with Don's Spices. Once assembled, the Tropic Thunder boomed in with minty and floral aromas from the garnishes over a passion fruit nose from the drink itself. Next, lemon and caramel on the sip slid into funky rum, passion fruit, vanilla, and allspice flavors on the swallow.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

banana spider

1 1/2 oz Pisco (Macchu)
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Giffard Banane du Bresil
1/4 oz Simple Syrup
1 Egg White

Shake once without ice and once with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with Angostura Bitters.
Two Sundays ago, I decided to make a Pisco Sour riff called the Banana Spider. The recipe published in Imbibe Magazine was crafted by Kirk Estinopal at Cane & Table in New Orleans, and the name is a reference to a rather poisonous spider that lives in Peru and other parts of Central and South America that has occasionally turn up in shipments of bananas. While the alcohol content was the only venom to found in the drink, the banana aspect was captured with a crème de banane. Once prepared, the Banana Spider bit the nose with banana, allspice, and cinnamon aromas. Next, a creamy lemon sip crept into pisco and banana flavors on the swallow.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

waldorf cocktail

1/2 Swedish Punsch (1 1/2 oz Kronan)
1/4 Dry Gin (3/4 oz Hayman's Royal Dock)
Juice 1/4 Lemon or 1/2 Lime (3/4 oz Lime Juice)

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail coupe; I added a lime wheel garnish.

Two Saturdays ago after work, I reached for the 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book and spotted the Swedish punsch-containing Waldorf Cocktail. This recipe was halfway between a Daiquiri and a Gimlet and parallel to the Doctor Cocktail with rum in place of the gin. I was surprised that the drink does not appear in the 1935 The Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book, but a Waldorf Cocktail of equal parts whiskey, sweet vermouth, and absinthe does. Bartender and author Frank Caiafa replied to my Instagram post that he always thinks of the Waldorf as an absinthe-rinsed Manhattan, and his version in The Waldorf Astoria Bar Book is just that.
This Waldorf Cocktail began with rum funk and caramel aromas on the nose. Next, the caramel continued on into the sip where it mingled with the lime, and the swallow offered up juniper, funky rum, and black tea flavors.

Friday, November 1, 2019

explorer's dream

3/4 oz Batavia Arrack (Von Oosten)
3/4 oz Mezcal (Fidencio)
1 oz Dry Vermouth (Noilly Prat)
1/2 oz Benedictine
1 dash Absinthe (20 drop St. George)

Stir with ice, strain into a punch cup, and garnish with a lemon twist.

After work two Fridays ago, I was thinking about the Poet's Dream after enjoying the Dead Poet. Instead of gin, I honed in on the Batavia Arrack and mezcal duo that worked well in the Smoking Jet Pilot, Airbag, and Esmino's Escape. Here, I felt that the Benedictine could bind the two oddball spirits akin to the liqueur working wonders in the Shruff's End, and I felt that absinthe instead of orange bitters would tie this combination together better.
The Batavia Arrack made me think of exotic trade routes, and I dubbed this one the Explorer's Dream. For a moment, I considered pisco instead of mezcal since it was a spirit picked up by sailors as well as they made their way around landmasses; however, I figured that the mezcal would help to bring out the smokier side of Batavia Arrack. Once in the punch cup, the Explorer's Dream found its way to the nose with lemon and smoke notes. Next, a white wine and caramel sip discovered a smoky mezcal and funky Batavia Arrack swallow accented by chocolate, mint, and anise flavors. My Instagram post inspired user xjthree to make the drink for he explained, "This sounds amazing. I’m going to make one later. Poet's dream was one of my favorites early on in my journey." A few days later, he posted his version with a commentary of "It is very bold, and boozy. Strong funky flavors up front give way to Benedictine sweetness, and an absinthe finish. I'd say it's a bartender drink, not for the faint hearted."

Thursday, October 31, 2019

waterproof watch

1 1/2 oz London Dry Gin (Tanqueray)
3/4 oz Amaro Montenegro
3/4 oz Aperol
2 dash DeGroff's Pimento Bitters (1/4 oz Hamilton's Allspice Dram)

Stir with ice, strain into a rocks glass with fresh ice, and garnish with an orange twist.
Two Thursdays ago, I spotted a curious Negroni-like drink in Imbibe Magazine called the Waterproof Watch. The recipe was created by Sother Teague for the second branch of Amor y Amargo that recently opened up in Brooklyn, and I was drawn to it (besides loving what Sother creates) for Aperol and Montenegro have worked well together in cocktails like the A Man About Town and Schipol. Once prepared, the Waterproof Watch unwound with orange oil from the garnish and orange and other fruity aromas from the drink itself. Next, an orange-melon sip aged into an gin and bitter orange swallow with an allspice finish.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

caballero del mar

1 1/2 oz Reposado Tequila (Cimarron)
1/2 oz Aged Apple Brandy (Laird's Bonded)
3/4 oz Dry Vermouth (Noilly Prat)
1/4 oz Swedish Punsch (Kronan)
1/4 oz Apricot Liqueur (Combier)
2 dash Mole Bitters (Bittermens)

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with a lemon twist.

Two Wednesdays ago, I recalled how much I enjoyed my Martini riff Enjoy the Silence. My brain was also thinking about the tequila version of the mezcal drink Tainted Love, the Monopoly Money, that made it on to the regular menu (Tainted Love was only on the Yacht Rock Sundays menu); with that recipe, I focused in on how well tequila and apricot liqueur both complemented Swedish punsch. I also returned to the 3:1 split spirit formula with the minor component being apple brandy as I considered drinks like Everyone Wants to Rule the World and Spanish Caravan that brought the two spirits together.
For a name, I honed in on the spirit from Jalisco and dubbed this one after a curious statue in Puerto Vallarta of a boy with a cowboy hat riding a seahorse. The Caballero del Mar greeted the senses with a lemon oil, apple, and agave aroma. Next, a dry white wine sip with a hint of fruit led into tequila, apple, apricot, and black tea on the swallow with a chocolate finish.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

topsy turvy

2 oz Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth (Martini Grand Lusso)
1 oz Lock Stock & Barrel Rye (Rittenhouse Bonded)
1 tsp Caffé Borghetti (Copper & Kings Destillare Café)
1 dash Mole Bitters (Bittermens)

Stir with ice, strain into a Nick & Nora glass, and garnish with an orange twist.
Two Tuesdays, I spotted an Inverse Manhattan riff in a recent Chilled Magazine article on rye whiskey drinks to mix this Fall. The recipe was called the Topsy Turvy by Jeremy Oertel of Donna in Brooklyn and Death & Co. in Manhattan, and his tweak on the Inverse Manhattan was to add coffee notes and switch the bitters to chocolate. Once prepared, the drink offered up orange notes and a hint of coffee to the nose. Next, a grape sip flipped into rye and coffee flavors on the swallow with a grape, roast, and chocolate finish.

Monday, October 28, 2019


2/3 Rye Whiskey (1 3/4 oz Old Overholt)
1/3 Italian Vermouth (3/4 oz Martini Grand Lusso)
1 dash Crème Yvette (1/4 oz)
1 dash Picon Bitters (1/4 oz Torani Amer)

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass; I added a lemon twist.
After returning home late from work on Monday night, I turned to Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars: 1903-1933 for a nightcap. In the American whiskey section, I spied the Quarterback that reminded me of a few drinks including the Brooklyn and Caboose. In the glass, the Quarterback hiked into a lemon and floral aroma with a red orchard fruit note that reminded me of sloe berries. Next, the Quarterback stepped back into a grape, cherry, and berry sip that handed off to a rye, bitter orange, and raspberry swallow with a vanilla-floral finish. Overall, the cocktail was a Manhattan torn between sweet and bitter fruit notes.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

maiden voyage

1 1/2 oz Barrel-Aged Gin (Bluecoat Aged)
3/4 oz Calvados (Boulard VSOP)
1/4 oz Becherovka
1/2 oz Curaçao (Pierre Ferrand)
1/2 oz Vanilla Syrup
1 oz Pineapple Juice
3/4 oz Lime Juice

Shake with ice, strain into a snifter glass (Tiki mug), and fill with crushed ice. Garnish with a scored lime shell (nasturtium flower) and a toasted cinnamon stick.
I was feeling the need for a tropical drink two Sundays ago, so I turned to Shannon Mustipher's Tiki: Modern Tropical Cocktails book. There, I latched on to the Maiden Voyage that was her recipe inspired by elements of the Mai Tai and the Fog Cutter. Once prepared, the Maiden Voyage launched into peppery floral, cinnamon, apple, and orange aromas. Next, lime and orange notes on the sip sailed into juniper, orange, apple, cinnamon, vanilla, and clove flavors on the swallow.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

machine gun etiquette

3/4 oz Scotch (Cutty Sark Prohibition)
3/4 oz Apple Brandy (Laird's Bonded)
3/4 oz Fino Sherry (Lustau)
3/4 oz Cynar
1 dash Peychaud's Bitters

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe or double old fashioned glass pre-rinsed with apricot liqueur (Combier), and garnish with an orange twist. Leaving some of the excess rinse in the glass would do no harm here.

On my walk home from work two Saturdays ago, I was enjoying the Autumn evening and thought about the Fall-inspired combination of Scotch and apple brandy. I then considered how well each pair with Cynar, and the Cynar made me think of the pairing with apricot liqueur in the Enjoy the Silence and other drinks like the One One Thousand. The Cynar also made me think of the Remember the Alimony, and the idea quickly came together. Finally, I added a dash of Peychaud's upon straw tasting the combination since it needed a little extra depth.
For a name, I dubbed this one the Machine Gun Etiquette after a song by The Damned perhaps due to the smoky element or as an alternative to alimony payments. Once prepared, this drink aimed orange, apricot, and peat smoke aromas at the nose. Next, caramel and malt on the sip shot into Scotch, apple, and herbal flavors on the swallow with a crisp apricot and anise finish. Overall, the stronger flavors of Scotch and apple brandy as compared to gin shifted the Remember the Alimony's balance in a new direction.

Friday, October 25, 2019

new rider

1 oz Rye Whiskey (Rittenhouse Bonded)
1 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
1/2 oz Ginger Syrup
3 dash Angostura Bitters

Shake with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with a sage leaf.
For an after dinner cocktail two Fridays ago, I turned to Carey Jones' Brooklyn Bartender. There, I spotted Christa Manalo's New Rider that she crafted at Rucola. Once prepared, the New Rider offered up a clove, allspice, and sage bouquet to the nose. Next, a lemon-driven sip transitioned into a rye, ginger, and nutty cherry swallow with a ginger and spice finish. Overall, the ginger and Maraschino combination proved to be a quite intriguing duo as it had been in the One for Jimmy.

teeling tiki break

2 oz Teeling Small Batch Irish Whiskey
1 oz House Coffee Cordial (*)
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Giffard Crème de Banane

Shake with ice, pour into a Tiki mug, and fill with crushed ice. Garnish with a lime wheel, a fresh banana slice, and grated coffee bean.
(*) The drink was not sweet so perhaps a low sugar coffee liqueur like Copper & Kings Distillare Café or a 3/4 oz cold brew coffee + 1/4 oz simple or rich simple syrup combination (or 2/3 oz cold brew coffee + 1/3 oz Kahlua or similar).
While we were drinking the Up in Smoke at the Teeling Irish Whiskey event at Backbar, Andrea was curious about the Tiki drink on the menu especially after spying the finished product when others ordered it. So after distiller Alex Chasko spoke, the Backbar bartenders started serving again, and I requested the Teeling Tiki Break. Once prepared, the Irish-tropical libation met the nose with banana and coffee aromas. Next, lime and roast notes on the sip stepped back into Irish whiskey, banana, and coffee flavors on the swallow. No great surprises here given the ingredient list, but it was quite a delight to drink.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

up in smoke

2 oz Teeling Small Batch Irish Whiskey
1/4 oz Yellow Chartreuse
1/4 oz Becherovka
2 dash House "Smoke & Oak Bitters" (*)

Stir with ice, strain into a rocks glass that had been smoked (torched cedar wood with the glass put over it), and add a Phoenix (or other large) ice cube.
(*) A combination of 18-21 Havana & Hyde Bitters, house barrel-aged Angostura Bitters, and Owl & Whale Sea Smoke Bitters).

Two Thursdays ago, I was invited to a Teeling Irish Whiskey event at Backbar to hear distiller Alex Chasko speak about the rebirth of distillation in Dublin. Before the talk began, the Backbar bartenders were executing a small menu of Teeling Whiskey drinks, and it was recommended that I start with the Up in Smoke. Bar owner Sam Treadway explained not only the house bitters, but the reason why the menu read cinnamon syrup instead of Becherovka; they had originally planned this drink with the single malt which worked better with that syrup, but they were not allotted bottles to make cocktails and thus switched to the Czech liqueur. The phoenix ice cube as the centerpiece of the drink represents the Teeling crest on the bottle which represents how the Teeling family's whiskey legacy died out with the decline of distillation in Ireland and was recently reborn.
The Up in Smoke lived up to its name with a wood smoke aroma that wafted over soft whiskey notes. Next, a malty sip rose to a whiskey and herbal-flavored swallow and a cinnamon finish. While the drink subtitle on the menu was "A modern take on the classic Irish whiskey drink The Tipperary," the Up in Smoke drank more like a lightly herbal Old Fashioned.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019


1 1/2 oz Mezcal (Fidencio)
3/4 oz Grapefruit Juice
1/2 oz Lime Juice
3/8 oz Cinnamon Syrup
3/8 oz Campari
1 dash Peychaud's Bitters

Shake with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with a grapefruit twist (or lime wheel).

Recently, I was tasked at work to develop a mezcal Paloma riff served in a coupe for the new menu at La Brasa, so two Wednesdays ago, I decided to tinker. I latched onto the idea of the Tiki staple Don's Mix of grapefruit and cinnamon and then considered how well cinnamon and Campari pair such as in the Rum Firewalker. The end result was tasty, but it felt like a touch of bitters would give the profile a lot more depth; my instinct was to go to absinthe but I opted for Peychaud's Bitters instead. For a name, I went with the idea of the Paloma translating to dove, and I went with another indigenous Mexican bird: the Quetzal. The Quetzal has been long admired for its beauty and the bird was sacred to the Mayans and Aztecs.
The Quetzal flew to the nose with a smoke, grapefruit, and cinnamon aroma. Next, a grapefruit and lime sip gave way to a smoky mezcal and bitter herbal swallow with a cinnamon finish.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019


1 1/2 oz Gin (Tamsworth)
1/2 oz Mezcal (Fidencio)
1 oz Dry Vermouth (Noilly Prat)
1 tsp Islay Scotch (Caol Ila 12 year)

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail glass pre-rinsed with absinthe (St. George), and garnish with a lemon twist.
For a drink after my bar shift two Tuesdays ago, I was in the mood for something straight spirits. My search led me to the Barnotes app where I spotted Rafa Garcia Febles' Tombstone that was his circa 2014 "grittier Obituary Cocktail." The Obituary Cocktail was created at LaFitte's Blacksmith Shop in New Orleans as a Martini riff containing gin, dry vermouth, and absinthe. Here, the spirit was split with a duo of smokier elements, namely mezcal and Scotch. After stirring and straining, the Tombstone welcomed the senses with a lemon, smoke, floral, and anise aroma. Next, a crisp white grape sip shot into a botanical-driven swallow that was interlaced with vegetal-plastic and smoke notes and finished in a savory fashion.

Monday, October 21, 2019

[lion's tooth]

1 1/2 oz Manzanilla Sherry (Lustau)
1/2 oz Yellow Chartreuse
1/2 oz Aveze Gentian Liqueur
1/2 oz Lemon Juice

Shake with ice, strain into a wine glass, and garnish with a lemon twist.
Two Mondays ago, in between a late afternoon Redbreast Whiskey tasting and the Fernet Branca Games at night, I met up with Andrea at Estragon in the Southend for dinner. For a drink, I perused bartender Sahil Mehta's drink notebook and spotted an unnamed sherry recipe that seemed perfect. The end result had an earthy and floral aspect that when combined with the yellow color made me think of dandelions; therefore, I dubbed this one the Lion's Tooth after the literal translation of the Spanish word for said flower. In the glass, the Lion's Tooth proffered lemon, earthy, and floral aromas that were accentuated by the wine glass' shape. Next, a dry lemon and white wine sip blossomed into a bright herbal and earthy sherry-gentian swallow.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

fancy rye

3/4 Rye Whiskey (2 oz Sazerac)
1/4 Cointreau (1/4 oz)
1 dash Orgeat (1/4 oz)
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass; I added an orange twist.
Two Sundays ago, it was time to cap off the weekend with a final cocktail, so I turned to Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars: 1903-1933. There, I spotted the Fancy Rye cocktail that had the requisite orange liqueur to fit into Jerry Thomas' 1862 Fancy Cocktail formula albeit with more than the usual dash or two. I toned down the Cointreau and made it equal to the other sweetener, namely orgeat; moreover, the orgeat in an Old Fashioned cocktail format reminded me of a Japanese Cocktail. Once prepared, the Fancy Rye greeted the nose with an orange oil and whiskey aroma. Next, a creamy malt sip slid into rye, nutty, and orange flavors on the swallow with a clove and allspice finish.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

enjoy the silence

1 1/2 oz London Dry Gin (Beefeater)
1/2 oz Apple Brandy (Laird's Bonded)
3/4 oz Dry Vermouth (Noilly Prat)
1/8 oz Apricot Liqueur (Combier)
1/8 oz Cinnamon Syrup
2 dash Orange Bitters (Regan's)

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with an orange twist.
After I returned home from my work shift two weeks ago, I was in the mood for a straight spirits drink but I was too tired to find one in the literature. Therefore, I got inspired by the apricot liqueur-cinnamon syrup combination and decided to fit that in my Martini riff structure that I utilized in the Diamond Queen and Preston-Baker. With apple brandy as the minor spirit, the combination became an elegant autumnal tipple. While tasting the result, my Pandora radio station was playing Depeche Mode's "Enjoy the Silence" song, and the name stuck. In the glass, the Enjoy the Silence awakened the senses with orange, apple, and a hint of apricot on the nose. Next, an orchard fruit sip led into juniper, apple, apricot, and cinnamon flavors on the swallow.

Friday, October 18, 2019

black magic

1 1/2 oz Dark Jamaican Rum (1 1/4 oz Coruba + 1/4 oz Smith & Cross)
1/2 oz Cognac (Camus VS)
1 tsp White Crème de Menthe (Tempus Fugit)
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Papaya Nectar

Shake with ice, strain into a tall glass (Tiki mug), and fill with crushed ice. Garnish with a pineapple chunk (chocolate mint sprigs).
Two Fridays ago, I ventured back to the Zombie Horde book to make the other papaya nectar-containing drink, the Black Magic. This was not the better known coffee-tinged one from the Mai-Kai but an earlier one from the Village Vanguard jazz club in Manhattan. The recipe itself dates back to 1941 when it was published in the New York Daily News (which pre-dates the Mai-Kai opening in 1952). Their Zombie riff is noteworthy for it was perhaps the earliest to contain crème de menthe. Once prepared, the Black Magic greeted the nose with a caramel, rum funk, and herbal bouquet under the chocolate mint garnish's aroma. Next, lime, caramel, and papaya notes on the sip transformed into funky rum and mint flavors on the swallow.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

carioca zombie

1 oz Heavy Bodied Carioca Rum (Old Ipswich Tavern Style)
2 oz Gold Label Carioca Rum (Flor de Caña 4 Year Gold)
1 oz White Carioca Rum (Uruapan Charanda Blanco)
3/4 oz Pineapple Juice
3/4 oz Papaya Nectar
Juice 1 Lime (3/4 oz)
1 tsp Sugar (1/4 oz Simple Syrup)
1/2 oz Apricot Liqueur (Combier)

Shake with crushed ice, pour into a Zombie glass with 3 oz soda water, and float a dash of Carioca 151 Proof Rum (1/4 oz DonQ 151). Garnish with a mint sprig and on a pick: a pineapple square, red cherry, and green cherry (omit fruit garnish).

Two Thursdays ago, I returned to David Montgomery's Zombie Horde book after having bought papaya nectar to make a drink. I had a bookmark to the page with the Black Magic calling for the papaya, but when I opened the book, I looked at the opposite page and spotted the Carioca Zombie with the same ingredient. After I started building the Carioca Zombie, I had realized my misstep, and I decided to make that one the following evening. Rum Carioca is a spirits brand that sells a wide variety of styles of rum from light Puerto Rican to funky agricoles, and this recipe was found in Rum Carioca's "Drink Recipe & Toast Book" published in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in 1942. The recipe itself reminded me of a Leilani Volcano with apricot liqueur and a more complex and hefty rum build.
Once prepared, the Carioca Zombie intercepted the nose with mint, rum and papaya aromas. Next, a carbonated lime and papaya sip was chased by rum, pineapple, and apricot flavors on the swallow. The soda water here helped to lighten the drink especially by significantly lowering the proof.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

peachy keen

1 1/2 oz Bruichladdich Port Charlotte 10 Year Scotch
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
3/4 oz Giffard Crème de Peche
1/4 oz Cinnamon Syrup
1/4 oz Honey Syrup

Dry shake, pour into a double old fashioned, fill with crushed ice, and garnish with dashes Angostura Bitters, mint sprigs, and a peach slice.

Two Wednesdays ago, I ventured down to the Hawthorne to hear Bruichladdich's head distiller Adam Hannett present a talk entitled "Experience Octomore." Adam spoke about how the site in Islay was a purpose-built distillery founded in 1881 opposed to a farm-based one, and this distillery produced single malts for blends until it was mothballed in 1994. A group of whisky industry professionals had a vision of exploring the local terroir and striving for quality over quantity, and they were able to acquire the site from Jim Beam. The goal for Bruichladdich was to feature both unpeated and peated whiskies as well as to make parallel whiskies from barley sourced from local Islay barley farms as well as bulk barley sourced from the whole of Scotland. The conditions in Islay are tougher to grow barley, but the end result is more flavorful despite the lower yield of fermentable sugars by weight and the higher cost to grow the crops. With their Octomore product, they asked their malt company for a large shipment of peated malt that would be used as the only barley source. The malt company was concerned that there would be no consistency since the result varies by season and by batch; normally the level of peat smoke phenols is modulated by diluting it with unpeated malt. With this approach, Octomore became the world's most smoky Scotch through keeping the proof near cask strength, skipping chill filtration, and leaving out unpeated malt. What we got to taste were three variations of this 10th season of Octomore with my favorites being tied between 10.3 using local farmer James Brown's barley and aging for 6 years in first filled American whiskey casks and 10.4 using Scottish barley and aging for only 3 years in virgin French limousine oak casks. Indeed, 10.3 highlighted the beauty of the barley grown in tougher conditions on a single estate, and 10.4 had loads of dried fruit such as date and fig notes from the new French barrel.
Before Adam spoke, Hawthorne bartender Rob Ficks was making drinks from a small menu utilizing some of Bruichladdich's other offerings. The one I selected was the Peachy Keen subtitled "and I won't forget." Here, the Port Charlotte whisky's peat mingled with the mint on the nose. Next, the sip was an elegant malt, peach, and lemon combination, and the swallow hit the palate with peat smoke and peach flavors with a cinnamon finish.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

probitas swizzle

2 oz Probitas Rum
1 oz Lime Juice
1 oz Mathilde Crème de Peche
1/2 oz Cinnamon Syrup
2 dash Absinthe
2 dash Angostura Bitters

Flash blend with crushed ice, pour into a tall glass, and fill with crushed ice. Garnish with a pineapple leaf, orchid, and smoldering cinnamon stick.

Two Tuesdays ago, the Boston chapter of the USBG hosted Richard Seale of Four Square Distillery in Barbados with a talk entitled "A Conversation about Rum." Before Richard spoke at Shore Leave (a/k/a the Rum Dungeon), bartender Jace Sheehan was making drinks with Four Square's new Probitas Rum. As Richard described later, Probitas is actually a collaboration between Four Square and Hampden Distillery in Jamaica; this 94 proof rum is a combination of 2 year old pot and unaged column still spirit from Barbados and unaged pot still from Jamaica. During the talk, Richard described how the goal was to make a flavorful white rum and to bring back the concept of a rum blend being made in the Caribbean opposed to Europe, America, or elsewhere. Richard had wanted this to be an unaged product, but he felt that his pot still rum tasted better with a little aging. Thus, the end result is not purely a white rum for it has a slight yellow tint to it due to the two years that the pot still Barbados element mellowed in used oak casks.

The drink that I requested from Jace was the Probitas Swizzle which lured me in with its fancy garnish (the other two offerings were served in cocktail coupes). Here, the cinnamon smoke greeted the senses before a lime-driven sip. Next, the funky rum on the swallow transitioned into a peach-cinnamon combination that worked as well as the apricot-cinnamon one did in the Southern Belle and Transatlantic Orbit.

Monday, October 14, 2019

the jambi

1 1/2 oz Rhum Agricole (Uruapan Charanda Blanco)
1 oz Cognac (Camus VS)
1 oz Apricot Nectar
3/4 oz Lime Juice
3/4 oz Jambi Juice (equal parts (1/4 oz each) Ginger Syrup, Cinnamon Syrup, and Grenadine)
2 dash Maraschino Liqueur (1/8 oz Luxardo)
2 dash Angostura Bitters

Whip shake, pour into a Tiki mug, and fill with crushed ice. Garnish with a cherry (mint sprigs) and float Wray & Nephew Overproof White Rum (1/4 oz).

After having enjoyed the Honolulu Zombie a few nights ago, I returned to David Montgomery's Zombie Horde for another tropical libation two Mondays ago. There, I latched onto the Jambi concocted by Jack Fetterman at Manhattan's now defunct PKNY in 2013. The concept was Jack's Indonesian-inspired Zombie riff, and he named it after a province and city in Sumatra. The most curious element in the mix was the ginger syrup which I later realized appears in Zombie riffs like the Winchester and Zombie Slow Dance. Of course, the apricot element in Zombies has been around since 1941.
The Jambi met the nose with a rum funk and mint bouquet. Next, lime and apricot on the sip stumbled into grassy rum, Cognac richness, nutty Maraschino, and ginger flavors on the swallow with a cinnamon finish.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

beth's coming to town

1 oz Highland Park 12 Year Scotch (Famous Grouse)
1 oz Aviation Gin (Tanqueray)
1/2 oz Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth (Martini Grand Lusso)
1/4 oz Giffard Apricot Liqueur (Combier)
1/4 oz Amaro Ramazzotti

Stir with ice, strain into an old fashioned glass, and garnish with a mint leaf.

Two Sundays ago, I perused my bookshelf and spotted the Cocktail Codex book that I have not opened in a few weeks. In those pages, I was lured in by Daniel Zacharczuk's 2015 Martinez-inspired number that he dubbed Beth's Coming to Town. The structure was an intriguing split spirits Scotch and gin drink with an apricot-Brooklyn feel akin to the Brandy No. 1 and Montana. Daniel paired the botanicals in Aviation gin to those in Ramazzotti and most likely utilized apricot liqueur to match Highland Park's barley notes, and he stressed that changes to any ingredient would alter the drink. I figured that Famous Grouse would work since it is believe to contain Highland Park single malt in the blend, and with the gin, I just punted with Tanqueray.
The Beth's Coming to Town met the nose with a mint, caramel, and herbal bouquet. Next, grape, malt, and orchard fruit on the sip hugged a Scotch, juniper, root beer, and cola swallow with a savory finish containing rosemary notes.

Saturday, October 12, 2019


1/2 Scotch (1 3/4 oz Cutty Sark Prohibition)
1/3 Sherry (1 oz Lustau East India Solera)
2 dash Italian Vermouth (1/2 oz Martini Grand Lusso)
1 dash Picon (1/4 oz Torani Amer)
1 dash Orange Bitters (Regan's)

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass; I added an orange twist.
Two Saturdays ago, I was in the mood for a post-work nightcap and sought out the answer in the Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars: 1903-1933 book. In the whisky section, I spotted the Guardian which had a Scotch Liberal feel; moreover, with the sherry in there, it was similar to other drinks from the Pioneers book such as the rye-based Libby. In addition, the name was evocative of other Scotch with two fortified wine cocktails such as the Chancellor and Administrator. Once prepared, the Guardian escorted orange and peat smoke notes to the nose. Next, a grape-driven sip gave way to Scotch, slightly raisiny sherry, and bitter orange flavors.

Friday, October 11, 2019

honolulu zombie

1 oz Light Rum (Flor de Caña 4 Year Oro)
1 oz 151 Proof Rum (Don Q)
2 oz Orange Juice
1 oz Lemon Juice
3/4 oz Grenadine
1/2 oz Curaçao (Cointreau)

Shake or blend with 1 cup crushed ice (shake), pour into a Tiki mug, and fill with crushed ice. I garnished with mint sprigs and an edible flower.

Two Fridays ago after returning home from a bar shift, I felt like treating myself to a tropical libation. Therefore, I reached for David Montgomery's Zombie Horde, and I was lured in by the Honolulu Zombie created at David Chan's Honolulu Restaurant outside of Washington, D.C. Chan was originally a Trader Vic bartender in the capitol city and became President Nixon's favorite bartender; Nixon went there to drink Navy Grogs and to find a friendly ear. While kept Nixon's discussions secret, he was willing to share this recipe when the restaurant closed in 2004.
The Honolulu Zombie stalked the nose with orange and rum aromas. Next, orange, lemon, and berry notes lurched forward on the sip, and the swallow swiped with rum, orange, and pomegranate flavors. While lacking the depth that various spice elements donate to the classic 1934 Zombie, it was rather pleasant akin to similar Zombie riffs like the Mandarin House Zombie. With a touch of Herbsaint's spice (and different rums), the Honolulu Zombie pretty much becomes Trader Vic's 1946 Zombie which is not too surprising given Chan's pedigree.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

dead poet

1 oz Blanco Tequila (Lunazul)
1 oz Dry Vermouth (Noilly Prat)
1/2 oz Mezcal (Fidencio)
1/2 oz Benedictine
1 tsp Yellow Chartreuse
2 dash Orange Bitters (Regan's)

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

Two Thursdays, I selected a drink that I had spotted on Imbibe called the Dead Poet. The recipe was crafted by Keegan McGregor at Field Guide in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Keegan confirmed my suspicion via Instagram that it was indeed a riff on the gin-based Poet's Dream with a duo of agave spirits and a touch of Yellow Chartreuse in the mix by commenting, "You're the first person to see that it's a Poet's Dream riff." I replied that, "I love that drink especially since Benedictine was one of my first herbal liqueurs to play with circa 2006. More people might know it as the Ford Cocktail, but I prefer the [name] Poet's Dream. Cheers!" With different bitters and/or absinthe in the mix, this gin, dry vermouth, and Benedictine trio also goes by other names in the cocktail literature. Therefore, I was excited to try a tequila-mezcal riff.
The Dead Poet recited a lime, vegetal agave, and hint of smoke aroma to the nose. Next, a honey and white wine verse on the sip led into a sonnet of smoky agave and minty herbal flavors on the swallow.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

south seas sleepwalker

1 oz Moderately Aged Rum (Plantation Barbados 5 Year)
1 oz Aged Jamaican Rum (2/3 oz Appleton Signature + 1/3 oz Smith & Cross)
3/4 oz Don's Mix (1/2 oz Grapefruit Juice + 1/4 oz Cinnamon Syrup)
1/2 oz Honey Syrup
1/4 oz Grenadine
3/4 oz Lime Juice
1 dash Allspice Dram (Hamilton's)
1 dash Aromatic Bitters (Bittercube's Most Imaginative)

Whip shake, pour into a Zombie glass (Tiki mug), fill with crushed ice, and garnish with a mint sprig.
Two Wednesday ago, I was feeling a tropical mood and turned to the Minimalist Tiki book. There, I was lured in by the South Seas Sleepwaker by Jason Alexander. The recipe itself reminded me of the 1934 Zombie with honey syrup and allspice dram in place of the classic's falernum and absinthe (besides the different rums). Moreover, the duo of honey and allspice dram appear in several Tiki drinks such as the Three Dots & A Dash and the 2070 Swizzle. Once prepared, the South Seas Sleepwalker seeped out cinnamon and allspice aromas from underneath the mint garnish. Next, caramel, honey, lime, and grapefruit notes made for a pleasant sip, and the swallow lurch on with funky rum, allspice, and cinnamon flavors.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

mary astor

1 oz London Dry Gin (Beefeater)
1 oz Amontillado Sherry (Lustau)
1/2 oz Sloe Gin (Atxa Pataxaran)
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1/4 oz Simple Syrup

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

Two Tuesdays ago, I got back from work and decided to make one of the recipes that I had saved from Imbibe Magazine by Church Cummings at the Josephine Estelle within the New Orleans Ace Hotel. The drink was the Mary Astor which had little to do with the obscure classic the Astor or the modern bitter Aster Family Sour, but was closer to the Trellis with dry oxidized sherry pairing with sloe liqueur in a Sour format and to the Barbara West with its gin, dry sherry, and lemon. The name is most likely a tribute to the actress born Lucile Vasconcellos Langhanke who appeared under her stage name of Mary Astor and starred in movies such as The Maltese Falcon.
Once prepared, the Mary Astor introduced herself with a lemon oil nose over nutty and dark berry notes. Next, lemon and grape danced on the dry sip, and the swallow closed out the show with gin, nutty, and berry flavors.

black mass

1 oz Compass Box Artist's Blend Scotch
1/2 oz Compass Box Peat Monster
1 oz Averna
1/2 oz Maple Syrup
1/2 oz Lime Juice

Shake with ice, strain into a large coupe or rocks glass (rocks glass), top with 1 oz Founders Porter, and garnish with lime oil from a twist.

For a second drink at Carlo Caroscio's guest shift at the Hawthorne, I selected the Black Mass from his collection of Compass Box cocktail offerings. Carlo described how this was created a while ago at Backbar, and despite not being on the menu any more there, people still request it (I neglected to ask if he crafted it around the time that the movie with the same name came out). The conversation shifted to how beer cocktails were rather popular in Boston between 2011 and 2014, but they are not frequently seen these days on drink lists. Also, I commented about how the Black Mass' combination of Averna and maple made me think of the Debbie, Don't.
The Black Mass preached to the nose with lime oil, caramel, and maple notes. Next, a lime and caramel sip praised the coming of a smoky, maple, and dark herbal swallow.

Monday, October 7, 2019

smoking section

1 1/2 oz Compass Box Glasgow Blend Scotch
1/2 oz Punt e Mes
1/2 oz Averna
1/2 oz Campari

Stir with ice, strain into a rocks glass with a large ice cube, and garnish with orange oil from a twist.
Two Mondays ago, I ventured down to Kenmore Square to grab a seat at the Hawthorne where Backbar's Carlo Caroscio was doing a guest shift in conjunction with Compass Box Whiskey. For a first drink, I asked Carlo for the Smoking Section that he described as his Scotch Negroni riff; since the recipe was not the typical equal parts structure, the combination reminded me a little of the Bitter Nail as well as some of Phil Ward's gin Negroni variations like the Cornwall Negroni and Baltasar & Blimunda. Once prepared, the Smoking Section segregated the nose into orange, peat, and darker aromas. Next, caramel and grape on the sip led into smoky Scotch and rounded bitter herbal flavors on the swallow with a smoky finish.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

lahaine noon

1 1/2 oz Mezcal (Fidencio)
3/4 oz Plantation OFTD Rum (*)
1/2 oz Apricot Liqueur (Combier)
1/2 oz Cynar
2 oz Pineapple Juice
1/2 oz Lime Juice
2 dash Peychaud's Bitters

Whip shake, pour into a Tiki mug , fill with crushed ice, and garnish with mint sprigs.
(*) Sub a Demerara 151 rum in a pinch.

After crafting a mezcal drink for an event utilizing apricot, Cynar, lime, and Peychaud's Bitters, I thought about the role of apricot liqueur in tropical drinks. My mind drifted towards Joe Scialom's Sol y Sombra and wondered if I could adapt it using aspects of the cocktail I had created at work. I also included in elements of Trader Vic's rather related Sun and Shadow to craft the Lahaina Noon. Lahaina Noon is when the sun is directly overhead and vertical objects do not cast a shadow; it happens twice a year in Hawaii every May and July.
The Laihaina Noon proffered smoke seeping through the mint garnish's aroma. Next, pineapple, lime, and apricot generated a fruity sip, while the swallow donated smoky mezcal, funky rum, and Cynar's herbal bitterness on the swallow with smoke and anise notes on the finish.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

the bainbridge

1 oz Moderately Aged Rum (Angostura 7 Year)
1 oz Amaro di Angostura
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Pineapple Juice
1/2 oz Orgeat

Shake with ice, strain into a pineapple glass, and fill with crushed ice. Garnish with a pineapple leaf and a cherry (mint sprig and nasturtium).
Two Saturdays ago, I returned from a bartending shift and felt the need for something tropical. Therefore, I turned to Matt Pietrek and Carrie Smith's Minimalist Tiki book, and I spotted one of Matt's originals called the Bainbridge. Bainbridge is an island near Seattle, Washington, where (or near) Matt and Carrie lived before they recently moved down to New Orleans, and the drink itself seemed like it would make good excellent use of my bottle of Amaro di Angostura on my shelf. Once prepared, the Bainbridge proffered clove, allspice and almond aromas underneath the floral and mint ones from the garnish. Next, caramel, pineapple, and lime played on the sip, and the swallow gave forth rum, clove and allspice flavors with a nutty and cinnamon finish.

Friday, October 4, 2019

road flare

1 1/2 oz Reposado Tequila (Cimarron)
1 oz Grapefruit Juice
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Simple Syrup 1:1
1/4 oz Suze Gentian Liqueur

Shake with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with a fresh or dehydrated lime wheel (fresh).
Two Fridays ago, I was clicking through my open tabs of drinks to make when I came across the Road Flare from Imbibe Magazine. The recipe crafted at last Light in New York City reminded me of a Hemingway Daiquiri in structure with tequila and gentian liqueur as the base and modifier. Once prepared, the Road Flare offered an earthy and vegetal bouquet to the nose. Next, a citrussy sip with grapefruit and lime notes flowed into tequila melding into gentian flavors on the swallow.

Thursday, October 3, 2019


1 1/2 oz Reposado Tequila (Cimarron)
1 oz Batavia Arrack (Van Oosten)
1/2 oz Yellow Chartreuse
2 dash Angostura Orange Bitters

Stir with ice, strain into a single old fashioned glass, and garnish with lemon oil from a twist.

Two Thursdays ago, I found an old file that I received from a previous bar manager for our house specs that I strongly surmised was from Drink in Boston (i.e.: it had recipes like the Krakatoa). In that file, I spotted the Juno that was an Alaska Cocktail riff with a split base of reposado tequila and Batavia Arrack in place of the gin. Given that John Gerten was fond of riffing on the Alaska such as with the Last Frontier and perhaps the Farley Mowat, it might have been one of his creations; however, Phil Ward's pairing of agave spirits with Batavia Arrack such as in the Shattered Glasser and Airbag made me wonder if the recipe had come from New York. On the other hand, John was not shy of utilizing that combination himself as demonstrated in the Smoking Jet Pilot.
Despite not knowing the exact who or where of the drink, I was curious to try the Juno. It met the senses with a lemon, vegetal agave, and Batavia Arrack funk aroma. Next, a honey-tinged sip led into vegetal tequila and funky Batavia Arrack melding into gentle herbal flavors on the swallow. Overall, the change in spirits shifted the drink from botanical driven to a more earthy feel.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

improved 1794

1 1/2 oz Rye Whiskey (Rittenhouse Bonded)
3/4 oz Sweet Vermouth (Martini Grand Lusso)
3/4 oz Campari
1/4 oz Maraschino Liqueur (Luxardo)
2 dash Absinthe (1 bsp Kübler)
2 dash Mole Bitters (Bittermens)

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with an orange twist.

Two Wednesdays ago, I was thinking about how Maraschino can soften Campari into an almost Aperol-like feel as I first learned in the Carnivale, and I wondered what it would do to "improve" a Negroni. Instead of just Maraschino, I could utilize Jerry Thomas' 1876 Improved technique of adding Maraschino and absinthe. However, I felt that I had tinkered enough with the Negroni and considered Dominic Venegas' rye-based 1794 that he crafted in 2004 as a three part drink, and it later gained chocolate bitters circa 2007 (our blog post was the first evidence on the web that this was a thing; when the drink was created, there were no chocolate bitters on the market). The 1794 had been softened and expanded into the 1795 at Craigie on Main, but I was curious if it could be Improved.
The Improved 1794 met the nose with orange, rye, nutty, and anise aromas. Next, grape and cherry notes mingled on the sip, and the swallow proffered rye and bitter cherry-orange flavors with a chocolate and anise finish. Overall, the result was softer -- it was less bitter and more bright and herbal akin to the effect of a pinch of salt. And perhaps the profile was somewhere between a 1794 and a Red Hook.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

tour le carbet

2 oz Rhum Agricole (Clement)
1/2 oz Suze Gentian Liqueur
3/4 oz Falernum (Velvet)
3/4 oz Lime Juice

Shake with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with a lime wheel.
I was struck with a rum mood two Tuesdays ago, so I opened up Shannon Mustipher's Tiki: Modern Tropical Cocktails book. The recipe that called out to me was the Tour le Carbet that was her agricole-based riff on the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club with gentian liqueur in place of the curaçao. Le Carbet is a town in Martinique where the Carib Indians convened and where Christopher Columbus landed on the island in 1502. In the glass, the Tour le Carbet welcomed the senses with grassy, earthy, and lime aromas. Next, the lime continued on into the sip that was followed by grassy rum, earthy gentian, ginger, and clove flavors on the swallow.

Monday, September 30, 2019

havana smash

1/2 Lemon, in wedges or pieces (*)
6-8 leaf Mint
1 1/2 oz Gin (Beefeater)
1/2 oz Swedish Punsch (Kronan)
1/2 oz Apricot Liqueur (Combier)

Muddle lemon wedges, add mint, and lightly muddle again. Add the rest of the ingredients, shake with ice, and double strain into a double old fashioned glass. Fill with crushed ice and garnish with mint sprigs.
(*) A medium lemon that will generate around 3/4 oz juice when muddled.

Two Mondays ago, I returned home late and was in the mood for a final drink. Instead of looking up a novel recipe, I became inspired about the apricot-Swedish punsch combination in the Havana Cocktail via thinking about the Transatlantic Orbit's apricot-cinnamon duo a few nights before. I decided to take the Havana Cocktail in the direction of Eastern Standard's Smash with muddled citrus wedges and mint (opposed to the classic Smash which is a Mint Julep on a smaller scale).
The Havana Smash met the nose with a mint and lemon bouquet. Next, lemon and orchard fruit notes on the sip set up for gin's botanicals and Swedish punsch's funky rum flavors on the swallow with mint, tea, and fruity notes on the finish.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

mary garden (merry widow)

1 1/2 oz Dubonnet or Byrrh Quinquina (Dubonnet Rouge)
1 1/2 oz Noilly Prat Dry Vermouth
1/4 oz Luxardo Maraschino or Grand Marnier (Luxardo Maraschino)
1 dash Regan's Orange Bitters

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

Two Sundays ago, I ventured into Frank Caiafa's The Waldorf Astoria Bar Book where I spotted a doubly named aperitif. The recipe was both the Mary Garden after a turn of the century opera singer and the Merry Widow after a 19th century operetta. Caiafa pointed out that Hugo Ensslin had a Merry Widow that was a fifty-fifty Dry Martini with New Orleans-style accents of Benedictine, absinthe, and Peychaud's Bitters that was quite delightful, and this is why I posted this recipe as the Mary Garden to help differentiate it (although Caiafa listed it as the Merry Widow).
The Mary Garden when made with Dubonnet and Maraschino curtsied to the nose with a grape and cherry and almost licorice aroma. Next, red grape and cherry on the sip bowed into darker cherry flavor on the swallow with a nutty finish.

Saturday, September 28, 2019


1/4 wineglass Bacardi (1 1/2 oz Uruapan Charanda Blanco)
Juice 1 Lime (3/4 oz)
2 dash Curaçao (1/4 oz Pierre Ferrand Dry)
2 dash Grenadine (1/4 oz)
1 dash Picon (1/4 oz Torani Amer)

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
Two Saturdays ago, I selected Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars: 1903-1933 from my bookshelf after returning home from my bar shift. There, I spotted the Tango; I had previously skipped over this recipe for it shares the name with a pair of more famous ones in the Savoy Cocktail Book called the apple brandy-based Tango #1 and the rum-based Tango #2 (Wayne Curtis' Cynar variation is a great modern riff of the latter). This Tango was an Daiquiri variation with a trio of sweeteners: curaçao, grenadine, and Amer Picon. Once prepared, this Tango danced to the nose with lime, orange, grapefruit, and grassy rum aromas. Next, a lime and berry sip led into a funky rum, bitter orange, and berry flavors on the swallow.

Friday, September 27, 2019

transatlantic orbit

1 oz Batavia Arrack (Van Oosten)
1 oz Navy Strength Gin (Hayman's)
3/4 oz Apricot Liqueur (Combier)
3/4 oz Cinnamon Syrup
1 oz Lime Juice
1 oz Grapefruit Juice
1 dash Angostura Bitters
1 dash Tropical Bitters (BitterCube Jamaican #2)

Whip shake, pour into a Tiki mug, fill with crushed ice, and garnish with a flaming lime shell (El Dorado 151) and a mint sprig.

Two Fridays ago, I was feeling a tropical mood, so I delved back into the Minimalist Tiki book and selected the Transatlantic Orbit by Seattle bartender Justin Wojslaw. Given the name and the structure, it reminded me a lot of a Jet Pilot with different spirits as well as apricot liqueur instead of falernum. Since apricot and cinnamon have proven to be a delightful pairing such as in the Southern Belle and Torino Zombie, I was excited to give this one a try. Here, the spirits were Batavia Arrack and gin, and I had previously had the former in a Jet Pilot riff called the Smoking Jet Pilot.
The Transatlantic Orbit launched to the senses with a mint and cinnamon bouquet. Next, the lime and grapefruit rotated around in the sip, and the swallow crossed over with gin's botanicals, Batavia Arrack's funk, and apricot and cinnamon flavors.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

two words

1 1/2 oz Laird's Bonded Apple Brandy
1 1/2 oz Zucca Rabarbaro (Sfumato)

Stir with ice, strain into a rocks glass with fresh ice, and garnish with a lemon twist.

Two Thursdays ago, I was in the mood for a nightcap, so I turned to Maggie Hoffman's Batch Cocktails for a recipe that I could adapt to a single serving. There, I was lured in by the Two Words by Adam James Sarkis of Milwaukee's Phoenix Cocktail Club. This two part drink featured apple brandy in a Black Manhattan of sorts with Zucca (although I utilized a similar rabarbaro: Sfumato), and this reminded me of other equal parters with Zucca such as the 11 + 2 / 12 + 1 with Green Chartreuse, Monopatin with Fino sherry, and The Dissenter with sweet vermouth (and a barspoon of cassis). Therefore, I set out to make this Black Marconi Wireless.
The Two Words spoke to the nose with lemon, apple, and earthy aromas. Next, roast notes with a hint of fruitiness on the sip finished with an apple, minty, orange, earthy, and bitter swallow.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

belle of broadway

1/2 Rye Whiskey (1 1/2 oz Sazerac)
1/4 Crème Yvette (1/2 oz)
1/4 French Vermouth (1 oz Noilly Prat)

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

After returning home from my whirlwind trip to Mexico late two Wednesdays ago, I was in the mood for a nightcap. Therefore, I selected the Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars: 1903-1933 as guidance. The recipe that opened my eyes was the Belle of Broadway which was most likely named after the 1926 American silent romantic drama film that perfectly fits into the book's time frame. I had previously made the sweet vermouth version called the Caboose and the Scotch (and orange bitters) version called the Lucifer, and it reminded me of the Lord Sheffield that I crafted in 2013 and named after the Sheffield Company of Connecticut who originally produced Crème Yvette.

The Belle of Broadway flirted with the nose with orange, dark berry, and violet aromas. Next, a currant-like note on the sip pranced into rye, blackberry, violet, and vanilla flavors on the swallow. Overall, surprising quite pleasant especially with my alteration of the liqueur and dry vermouth levels.