Friday, March 22, 2019

:: history of place ::

First published on the USBG National blog in January 2017; slightly adapted version here.

Learning history has been a very useful way to relate to guests. Indeed, cocktail knowledge is rather important to some guests as is being able to explain the tapestry of what American whiskey is. However, one of the best ways to relate to guests regardless of what they drink or even if they drink is learning the history of the bar’s space. That space can be the building, the neighborhood, and events going on around it.

In terms of building, one of my previous bars, Russell House Tavern in Harvard Square in Cambridge, MA, relishes the fact that the building’s first occupant in the mid 1800s was furniture dealer Thomas Russell and it helped to tie Harvard Square as a center of business. However, with older guests, it was important to know that the spot was the Wursthaus from 1917 until 1996. Some would regale tales about the quality German beer brands that they served there when America was awash in flavorless macro-beer lagers. And I remember one couple who related that they were too poor as Harvard students to eat at the Wursthaus, but now that they were older and more successful, they could eat in the same space. My next bar, Loyal Nine in East Cambridge has a less regal history in terms of building location, but one that still is important nevertheless. The previous tenants were a successive pair of liquor stores, and neighborhood guests love telling stories about their decline into a near-empty shelved questionable establishment. One of my favorite comments about the space was from an old co-worker who commented, “I used to buy beer underage there,” followed by his girlfriend’s reply of “Yes, a lot of driving around town is a tour of where Adam bought beer underage.”
The neighborhood’s history is also important. This showed itself especially when I worked day shifts at Russell House Tavern, and it tapped into how people love to reminisce. Part of my knowledge stemmed from spending a large amount of time in the neighborhood when I moved here back in the 90s. However, when my regulars would talk about people places that I did not know about, I turned to history books. Luckily, I could purchase the Harvard Square: An Illustrated History Since 1950 book so I could look up that BBQ place around the corner that was gone before I got here so I could follow up with a guest the next time they came in. Web searches also helped, for the city’s historical society has plenty of articles about establishments, figures, and trends. My next bar’s neighborhood has a less notable history, but still one that can be tapped into in regards to what restaurants and stores were in the area throughout the years.

Loyal Nine’s neighborhood does have a lot of cultural history though being at the intersection of Italian and Portuguese neighborhoods. Both have their respective festivals to learn about with the Italian ones being on the north side of Cambridge Street and the Portuguese ones being on the south side. While the Portuguese ones include parades with marching bands and church bell peels, the Italian festival every summer is a weekend long extravaganza that includes rides, carnie game booths, and food. Most of all, they have bands. One year, they had a few once-famous bands like the Spinners but they also had the current incarnation of the Village People. The Village People playing the neighborhood party was a big conversation piece, so I began to study up on Village People history including which were the original members that were still active, what years the hits were, and what the scandal with the U.S. Navy commercial was all about. That Saturday night, we made the drink of the day a four rum Old Fashioned called In the Navy. Many of our guests that night had either gone to the festival beforehand or were planning to catch the band afterwards, and the others at least knew about the goings on especially since Cambridge Street was blocked off starting a street away. The drink of the day gave a great talking piece to relate ideas about the neighborhood and interesting moments in music during the 1970s. That drink turned out to be the most successful drink of the day, and the recipe is as follows:
In the Navy
• 1/2 oz Navy Strength Rum (we used Smith & Cross)
• 1/2 oz Local Amber Rum (here, Privateer Amber)
• 1/2 oz Local Amber Rum (here, Old Ipswich Tavern Style)
• 1/2 oz Old Monk Rum (or other dark rum)
• 3/4 oz Demerara Syrup (1:1)
• 1 heavy barspoon St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram
• 2 dash Angostura Bitters
Build in a rocks glass, add ice, stir to mix and chill, and garnish with lemon and lime twists.
The drink could be tied back to that neck of the woods being a major center of rum production before Prohibition, to the history of the song it was named after, or just as a hearty libation to be enjoyed. Bartender’s choice. Or perhaps, it is better said the bartender’s job to read the guest’s choice of what they want to hear about and connect to.
The key to all of these interactions is that there is so much more to talk about besides the spirits on your back bar. And you will learn in exchange as people relate their stories and histories about the place and neighborhood. I remember one New Year’s Eve, an older gentleman took a break from visiting his elderly mother and stopped in for a beer. He taught me that Loyal Nine’s space used to be two buildings with one of them having a sandwich shop on the first floor. A fire in one wiped out both buildings, and that is how our current space came to be built. The stories about the dangers of drug dealing on this strip during the 1980s were less useful but nevertheless colorful and entertaining. But I definitely felt that the stories he had a chance to tell were better for his soul than the beer he had with us.

margot tenenbaum

2 oz High-Rye Bourbon (Four Roses Yellow Label)
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Honey Syrup
1/2 oz Zucca Rabarbaro (Sfumato)

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail coupe.

On Friday night two weeks ago, my hand reached for Amanda Schuster's New York Cocktails to find my post work shift libation. There, I spied Frank Cisneros' Margot Tenebaum named after the edgy character from Wes Anderson's The Royal Tenenbaums movie, and since Margot was a smoker for most of her life, it was apt that the recipe called for a smoky amaro (the Chinese rhubarb root in rabarbaros naturally comes across as smoky despite not having touched fire). Since I enjoyed my last recipe that I had tried by Frank, namely the Farmer's Armagnac, I was excited to give this one a go.
The Margot Tenenbaum adopted a smoky herbal aroma with honey-floral undertones. Next, a bright lemon sip was darkened by the Sfumato's earthy roastiness, and the swallow wrapped things up with Bourbon accented by bitter flavors balanced by sweet floral honey notes.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

frankie panky

2 oz Blanco Tequila (Cimarron)
3/4 oz Cynar
1/2 oz Dry Vermouth (Noilly Prat)
1/4 oz Fernet Branca

Stir with ice, strain into a rocks glass with a large ice cube, and garnish with an orange twist.

Two Thursdays ago, my advance copy of Maggie Hoffman's Batch Cocktails arrived; I was sent one for my Derby Cup was utilized as one of the recipes (albeit a scaled-up and batched version). So when I got home that night, I quickly flipped through the pages to see if there was a good recipe that could be scaled down to become my nightcap. The one that made the call was Los Angeles bartender Liam Odien's riff on the Hanky Panky from the Savoy Cocktail Book. Here, tequila subbed for the gin base, and the sweet vermouth was replaced by a combination of Cynar and dry vermouth.
Given the name, I was curious if it were a tribute to NYC bartender Ms. Franky Marshall, but I realized that the spelling was wrong; instead, it could be named after a West Coast photographer and burlesque performer Frankie Panky. The Frankie Panky began the act with an orange and minty-herbal aroma. Next, the Cynar's caramel filled the sip, and the swallow closed things out with tequila and complementary funky herbal flavors along with minty-menthol notes from the Fernet.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

before the bell

1 oz Rye Whiskey (Rittenhouse)
1 oz Dubonnet Rouge
1/2 oz Cynar
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
2 slice Orange

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

After making the Deshler the night before that was shaken with orange and lemon peels and having re-spotted the Twin Six shaken with orange slices that also appeared in Ensslin, I was inspired to riff on the Deshler. Given the shaken with orange aspect, I was decided to mashup the Deshler with Sam Ross' Too Soon? and give it a boxing-inspired name of Before the Bell.
In the glass, the Before the Bell circled with an orange, grape, and caramel bouquet. Next, the sip jabbed with lemon, orange, and caramel notes, and the swallow shot the cross with rye and bitter herbal flavors with a bitter orange finish. Perhaps Bourbon or a softer rye would work better here for I find aggressive ryes to be less satisfying in Sours. Or it could be that the orange from Sam Ross' gin drink did not go as well with American whiskey as I have noted in the Ward 8 and in my write up of the Tiki mashup version, the Scorpion Ward.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

deshler cocktail

1/2 Rye Whiskey (1 1/2 oz Old Overholt)
1/2 Dubonnet (1 1/2 oz Dubonnet Rouge)
2 dash Peychaud's Bitters
2 dash Cointreau (1/8+ oz)
1 piece Lemon Peel
2 piece Orange Peel

Shake with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and serve with an orange twist on top.

Two Tuesdays ago, I sought out Hugo Ensslin's 1916 Recipes for Mixed Drinks and soon found the Deshler Cocktail that had popped into my head soon after buying the new formulation of Dubonnet. The recipe was named for turn of the century boxer David Deshler, and it was one that I had not made before despite having written about it in describing Palmer Matthew's riff at Drink that got dubbed after another boxer of that era, namely Kid McCoy.
Despite the straight spirits nature of the drink, I still shook it to help incorporate the peel components; however, I have seen stirred versions that squeezed the peels into the mixing glass to offer a smoother tipple. Once prepared, the Deshler opened up with a flurry of orange, grape, and cherry aromas. Next, it bobbed with a dry grape sip, and it weaved with a rye, cherry, chocolate, orange, and anise flavored swallow.

Monday, March 18, 2019

la perla

1 1/2 oz Partida Reposado Tequila (Cimarron)
1 1/2 oz Lustau Manzanilla Sherry (Lustau Fino)
3/4 oz Mathilde Pear Liqueur (Rothman & Winter)

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with a lemon twist.
One of the unoxidized sherry recipes in the PDT Cocktail Book that I could not make until I bought a bottle of Fino was Jacques Benzuidenhout's La Perla that he created in San Francisco circa 2005. The drink was Jacques' nod to Tomas Estes' bar of London's Covent Gardens; Tomas owned the now defunct La Perla and is a renowned tequila guru who founded the Tequila Ocho brand. In the glass, La Perla began with a lemon and muted agave nose. Next, an off-dry white grape and pear sip led into a pear and agave medley with a hint of chocolate on the swallow. Overall, my balance was probably a lot less pear-forward given my liqueur choice (more natural and subtle than Mathilde) and its decade of sitting on my shelf (first blog post usage was this tequila Sour in April 2009).

Sunday, March 17, 2019

low hanging fruit

3/4 oz Mezcal (Fidencio)
3/4 oz Apricot Liqueur (Rothman & Winter)
3/4 oz Strega
3/4 oz Lime Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

Two Sundays ago, I decided to make a drink that I had spotted earlier in the week on Christopher James' Instagram feed of something that he created at Felina in New Jersey. Chris was my Cocktails in the Country roommate back in 2015, so I felt comfortable inquiring about the recipe. I was intrigued because the combination reminded me of the Eulogy given the Strega and lime, and Chris described the name as, "It's the easiest drink to make hence the low hanging fruit moniker."
The Low Hanging Fruit tempted me with smoke and star anise aromas with hints of apricot on the nose. Next, the lime-driven sip gave way to smoky agave, apricot, and licorice flavors on the swallow.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

pink harmony

2 oz Barbancourt 5 Star (8 Year) Rhum
1/4 oz Maraschino Liqueur (Luxardo)
1/4 oz Grenadine
1/2 oz Lemon Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a champagne glass (coupe).
After my bar shift two Saturdays ago, I reached for Trader Vic's 1974 Rum Cookery & Drinkery book to find something gentle to end my work week. There, I spotted the Pink Harmony that appeared like the lemon for lime juice version of the Champs-de-Mars Daiquiri. What was at the core of this rum drink was the Maraschino-grenadine pairing that shines in drinks like the Mary Pickford, Cuban, and the Hell in the Pacific Tiki drink. In the glass, the Pink Harmony proffered nutty cherry and lemon to the nose. Next, lemon along with light cherry and berry notes filled the sip, and the swallow showcased the rum with nutty and pomegranate flavors. Overall, the Pink Harmony had a softer feel with lemon in the mix instead of lime.

the lighthouse

2 oz Brugal Añejo Rum (Don Q Añejo)
3/4 oz Tio Pepe Fino Sherry (Lustau)
1/4 oz Velvet Falernum
2 dash Scrappy's Lime Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail coupe.
Two Fridays ago, I was in the mood to give my new bottle of Fino bottle some more mileage, so I looked to the BarNotes app for inspiration. There, I was lured in by Matt Grippo's Lighthouse that was his first cocktail creation at the Blackbird Bar in San Francisco. While Matt said that it would taste great as described, the bar was selling this as a barrel-aged offering after 6 weeks in a small cask. What drew me in was the similarity to the Georgetown Club Cocktail from Charles H. Baker, Jr.'s South American Companion that I had great success with on the Loyal Nine menu circa 2016. Once stirred and strained, the Lighthouse shined out with aged rum and lime aromas. Next, caramel balanced by crisp white wine notes on the sip beaconed in rum, savory, clove, lime, and ginger flavors on the swallow. Like the Georgetown Club, there was enough sugar in the quarter ounce of falernum to round off the drink into a more gentle quaff.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

sky rocket

1 oz Bourbon (Wild Turkey 101)
1 oz Swedish Punsch (Kronan)
1 oz Dry Vermouth (Noilly Prat)
1/4 oz Lemon Juice
1 dash Fee's Old Fashioned Bitters (Fee's Whiskey Barrel Bitters)

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with a lemon twist.
Two Thursdays ago, I spotted the Sky Rocket in Imbibe Magazine. The recipe was created by Daniel Shoemaker at Teardrop in Portland, Oregon, and the name and Swedish punsch component reminded me of the Rocket from Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars: 1903-1933. With a little thought, the Sky Rocket soon seemed like a gentle riff on the Boomerang from the 1937 Café Royal Cocktail Book with a different whiskey and aromatic bitters duo. Once prepared, the Sky Rocket launched up to the nose with lemon, Bourbon, and Swedish punsch's caramel aromas. Next, the sip cruised in with crisp lemon and white wine notes, and the swallow exploded with Bourbon, rum, tea, and cinnamon flavors.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

flip the bird

1 1/2 oz Blackstrap Rum (Cruzan)
1 1/2 oz Pineapple Juice
1/2 oz Campari
1/2 oz Demerara Syrup
1 Whole Egg

Shake once without ice and once with ice, strain into a double old fashioned glass, and garnish with 2 pineapple leaves and either lime oil from a twist or 5 drop lime bitters (Scrappy's Lime Bitters).

As I was coming home from work two Wednesdays ago, I was in the mood for an egg drink, and I pondered what fun Tiki drink could be reformulated as a Flip. My mind drifted over to the Jungle Bird, and I figured that it could turn out well as a Flip if I removed the lime juice component. I ended up putting the lime element back in as an aromatic garnish as a nod to the original recipe while still to keeping things soft and dessert-y. For a name, Andrea suggested Flip the Bird.
In the glass, the Flip the Bird greeted the nose with a lime aroma from the bitters garnish. Next, a creamy pineapple sip with hints of dark caramel led into molassy rum smoothly merging Campari's orange flavors on the swallow.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

foreign legion

1 1/2 oz Mount Gay XO Rum (RL Seale 10 Year)
1/2 oz Aperol
1/2 oz Dubonnet Rouge
1/2 oz Lustau Manzanilla Sherry (Lustau Fino)
1 bsp Marie Brizard Crème de Cacao (Tempus Fugit)
1 dash Fee's Rhubarb Bitters (Regan's Orange)

Stir with ice, strain into a rocks glass with an ice sphere, and garnish with an orange twist.
In continuing on to find more uses for my bottle of Fino sherry, I found my bookmark for the Foreign Legion in the PDT Cocktail Book; moreover, the drink would also utilize my purchase of the new reformulation of Dubonnet Rouge! The recipe was created by Melbourne bartender Greg Sanderson before his guest bartending shift at PDT in 2009. Once prepared, the Foreign Legion showcased an orange and grape aroma with darker notes from the chocolate liqueur and perhaps the Dubonnet. Next, grape and orange mingled on the sip, and the swallow had a delightful combination of rum, chocolate, and herbal flavors.

Monday, March 11, 2019

remember the alimony

1 1/4 oz Fino Sherry (Lustau)
1 1/4 oz Cynar
3/4 oz Beefeater Gin

Build in a double old fashioned glass with a large ice cube, stir to mix and chill, and garnish with an orange twist.
In my shopping expedition to Sundays ago, I finally added a bottle of Fino sherry to my collection. For a starting point the following night, I selected Dan Greenbaum's 2012 Remember the Alimony that he crafted at the Beagle in New York City and that Robert Simonson published in his 3-Ingredient Cocktails book. I first learned of the drink when Zac Luther did a guest shift at Backbar two years ago, and he cited it as the inspiration for his Not a Melon cocktail. Once built, the Remember the Alimony donated orange and herbal notes to the nose. Next, a crisp white wine sip was balanced by the sweet caramel elements in Cynar, and the swallow broadcasted funky herbal flavors dried out by Fino's acid and accented by the gin's pine and other botanticals.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

fade to black

1 oz Mezcal (Fidencio)
1 oz Ramazzotti Amaro
1/4 oz Smith & Cross Rum
2 dash Bittermens Mole Bitters
1 Whole Egg

Shake once without ice and once with ice, strain into a Collins glass, and top with Negro Modelo beer (~8 oz Trader José's Dark Lager).

Two Sundays ago, I added a Negro Modelo beer to my shopping list to finally make the Fade to Black that appeared in Ron Cooper's Finding Mezcal book. The recipe was crafted by Jeremy Oertel at Death & Co., and he was influenced by his time spent at Phil Ward's agave bar Mayahuel. While in Trader Joe's where I had previously spotted single bottles of Negro Modelo, I found that they only had Modelo's regular pale lager. Andrea pointed out that they did have a house brand dark lager that I ended up purchasing. Luckily, I found that the Trader José brand brought more to the table with a delightful wood smoke nose complementary to the mezcal's aromas that is absent in Negro Modelo itself.
Overall, the style reminded me of the Pop-In -- an old style of drink that began as a shot in a beer (opposed to the classic Boilermaker which is a shot beside a beer). Will Thompson at Drink was the first to introduce it to me after he learned about it at Dead Rabbits in Manhattan, and their version was spirits, sweetener, and whole egg that was lightened by beer. Here, the spirits were mezcal and a hint of funky Jamaican rum and the sweetener was a dark amaro. Once prepared, the Fade to Black greeted the senses with a caramel and smoke-filled nose. Next, a creamy and caramel sip gave way to agave, wood smoke, and chocolate flavors on the swallow. The Smith & Cross' contribution was not especially apparent in the mix, but as Jim Romdall pointed out, rum funk is the seasoning of cocktails to provide depth of flavor, and many cocktails would be flatter without it.

Saturday, March 9, 2019


3/4 oz Akvavit (Aalborg)
3/4 oz Jagermeister
3/4 oz Aperol
3/4 oz Lemon Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

Two Saturdays ago, I spotted on Reddit's cocktails forum a riff on Sam Ross' Paper Plane called the Ragnarök by Reddit user Comrade_Hanson. Ragnarök was derived from an Old Norse word meaning the "fate (or twilight) of the Gods," and it became part of the Viking's mythology that there would be a great battle in the future that would lead to the death of many of their Gods. In parallel, there would be a large number of natural disasters that would lead to a near human extinction followed by a re-population by the two survivors. I was so taken by both the name and the combination of the ingredients especially the akvavit and Jägermeister in place of the Bourbon and Amaro Nonino, respectively, that I gave this one a go.
The Ragnarök shook the nose with a caraway and star anise-spiced aroma. Next, caramel, lemon, and orange swirled together on the sip, and the swallow proffered caraway, rhubarb, and herbal flavors with a tart lemon finish.

Friday, March 8, 2019


1 1/2 oz Pisco (Macchu Pisco)
1/2 oz Swedish Punsch (Kronan)
1/2 oz Dry Vermouth (Noilly Prat)
1/4 oz Cointreau
2 dash Chocolate Bitters (Bittermens)

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with a lemon twist.
Two Fridays ago, my new issue of Imbibe Magazine (March/April 2019) arrived, and I flipped through it after I got home from work. There in a Paul Clarke article was the Wisenheimer by Jermaine Whitehead of Seattle's Deep Dive. The recipe reminded me of the Rocket (and my take on it called the Jet Pack) given the spirit, Swedish punsch, vermouth, and modifying orange liqueur structure, so I was curious to give it a go. Once mixed, the Wisenheimer offered up lemon and earthy chocolate notes from the Pisco and bitters to the nose. Next, a semi-sweet white grape sip shared a hint of caramel richness, and the swallow showcased Pisco, rum, orange, tea, and chocolate flavors.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

adelphi cocktail

1 oz Rye Whiskey (Rittenhouse)
1 oz Cognac (Camus VS)
1 oz Sweet Vermouth (Martini Gran Lusso)
1/4 oz Maraschino Liqueur (Luxardo)
1 scant bsp Absinthe (Kübler)
2 dash Angostura Bitters

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

Two Thursdays ago, I remembered how the Saratoga Cocktail from Jerry Thomas could be converted into the Vieux Carré by the addition of Benedictine and Peychaud's, and I used this to make the Corpse Reviver #1 into the more interesting Corpse Carré. I then pondered how the Saratoga would be with the "Improved" treatment of Maraschino and absinthe. Given that the town of Saratoga Springs was one full of gambling houses, horse races, cocktail bars, spas, and most importantly hotels, I dubbed this one after a hotel there that opened around the time that the Improved style hit the scene. I did consider calling it the Skidmore after the college in that town, but alas, I have already tried one by that name.
The Adelphi Cocktail welcomed the nose with lemon, anise, and cherry aromas. Next, grape and light cherry notes on the sip gave way to rye, Cognac, nutty, anise, and clove flavors on the swallow. While no great surprises here, it did elevate the classic Saratoga Cocktail to new and more intriguing heights.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

john wayne movie translated into french and back into english cocktail

2 oz Rye Whiskey (Old Overholt)
1/2 oz St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur (St. Elder)
1/2 oz Green Tea Syrup (Choice Organic Green Tea, strong steep, 1:1 with sugar)
3/4 oz Lemon Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
Two Wednesdays ago after getting home from my bar shift, I selected the Stir Your Soul book that collected all of the recipes from the 2009 Tales of the Cocktail event. There, I was lured in by Eben Klemm's John Wayne Movie Translated into French and Back into English that he crafted for a spirited dinner that week; one part of the allure was the intriguing 10-11 word name (which is still shorter than the 12 word Van Hagen and 13 word Every Dream) and the other was the elderflower for honey similarity to my Viceroy. In a few minutes, I was able to generate a small batch of green tea syrup, and then I set to work on the build. Once in the glass, the John Wayne partnered up with rye, lemon, and floral aromas that were modified by the green tea notes. Next, lemon and a pear-like element from the elderflower liqueur on the sip duked it out with rye flavors along with floral blending into grassy, slightly tannic tea on the swallow.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

fogerty cocktail

2 oz Rye Whiskey (Sazerac)
1/2 oz Campari
1/4 oz Crème de Cacao (Tempus Fugit)
2 dash Orange Bitters (Regan's)

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with an orange twist.
Two Tuesdays ago, I returned to Imbibe Magazine to make another bookmarked recipe called the Fogerty Cocktail. The recipe was crafted by Ryan Fitzgerald at ABV in San Francisco, and the combination reminded me of an abstraction of the 1794 that featured the Campari-cacao combination that I mentioned two days prior in the Commodity Fetish post. Once prepared, the Fogerty Cocktail launched in with orange and chocolate aromas. Next, a semi-sweet malty sip let go into a rye and bitter orange swallow that finished with chocolate and rye spice notes.

Monday, March 4, 2019

modern maid

3/4 jigger Whisky (1 1/2 oz Famous Grouse Blended Scotch)
2 dash Rum (1/2 oz Smith & Cross)
2 dash Sweet-Sour (1/2 oz Lemon Juice + 1/2 oz Simple Syrup)
1 dash Absinthe (20 drop St. George)
1 dash Orange Bitters (Regan's)

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass; I added a lemon twist.

Two Mondays ago, I was perusing Boothby's 1934 World Drinks & How to Mix Them when I spotted the Modern Maid. The drink took on legendary status when Ted Haigh wrote about the recipe in his Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails book; however, he published his Swedish punsch variation that he called the Modernista based off the classic Modern Cocktail also known as the Modern Maid. Having enjoyed Ted's Swedish punsch riff, I was curious to try the original.
The Modern Maid cleaned the nose with lemon, anise, and hints of rum funk aromas. Next, lemon and touches of caramel and malt on the sip transitioned into Scotch, rum funk, and anise-herbal flavors on the swallow with an orange finish. Perhaps substituting some of the blended Scotch for a 1/4 oz or so of smoky Islay single malt might have donated some extra elegance here.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

commodity fetish

1 1/2 oz Unsweetened Aged Rum (Appleton Signature)
3/4 oz Amaro Montenegro
3/4 oz Punt e Mes
1/2 oz Crème de Cacao (Tempus Fugit)
2 dash Angostura Bitters

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with an orange peel-cherry flag.

Two Sundays ago, the Baldwin Bar posted the World's Fair on their Instagram as their throwback drink spotlight. The recipe was created by Vannaluck Hongtong back in 2016 as a rather Winter-feeling Manhattan spin, and my fond memories inspired me to riff on it. I changed the rye to aged rum, the walnut liqueur to chocolate, and swapped Fee's Whiskey Barrel Bitters to double the amount of Angostura to add more spice and dryness. I took the crème de cacao route since I felt that it would combine with the Amaro Montenegro to make similar delightful chocolate-orange flavors that cacao does with Campari in drinks such as the Flaquita and Stagecoach Mary.
For a name, I began to search for World's Fair-inspired phrases, and I found Walter Benjamin's 1935 comment about how World's Fairs "are places of pilgrimage to the commodity fetish." Andrea commented that any reference to a Karl Marx philosophy was a good one to imbibe to, so Commodity Fetish was the winner. Once prepared, it donated orange and dark notes to the nose. Next, caramel and grape swirled through the sip, and the swallow greeted the tongue with rum, bitter chocolate, clementine, clove, and allspice flavors. Overall, the Commodity Fetish fulfilled its task of serving as a good dessert-nightcap libation albeit one a bit sweeter than my normal palate.

Saturday, March 2, 2019


1/3 French Vermouth (1 oz Noilly Prat)
1/3 Italian Vermouth (1 oz Cocchi)
1/3 Scotch Whisky (1 oz Famous Grouse)
2 dash Aromatic Bitters (Jerry Thomas Decanter)

Stir with ice, strain into a glass (rocks glass pre-rinsed with 1 scant bsp Laphroaig 10 Year Scotch), and garnish with a cherry (omit) and lemon oil (twist).

I had recently read mention of the Affinity Cocktail and realized that I had never had one before (or at least had certainly never written about it). I probably skipped over this classic multiple times since it came across merely as a Perfect Rob Roy, but the Affinity was mentioned as one of that person's favorite drinks, so I decided to keep it mind. When I spotted it in Hugo Ensslin's 1916 Recipes for Mixed Drinks two Saturdays ago, I figured that it was the perfect time.
The Affinity began with a briny peat and lemon oil bouquet that preceded a grape and malt-driven sip. Next, Scotch, clove, smoke, and allspice flavors rounded out the swallow. With a more flavorful single  or blended malt (especially a cask strength number), I could see this drink combination really shining.

Friday, March 1, 2019

:: mentally preparing for your shift ::

First published on the USBG National blog in September 2017, and slightly modified for publication here.

One of the most crucial parts of preparing oneself for a bar shift is just showing up, and perhaps that should be amended to showing up healthy, energized, and ready to work. The next is setting up the bar with all of the hauling of ice and juicing of citrus that it entails. But what else besides the basics can one do to improve one’s readiness to do the job even before stepping through the door?

First, spend a bit of time every day before the shift reading.
While reading up on cocktail recipes, garnish tips, and new beers is an amazing way to improve one’s understanding of the craft, it does not help to connect to all of our guests. So think of ways to diversify such as reading up on new movies, plays, and events around town. In fact, I have made great connections with guests by discussing new movies and then soliciting suggestions from them. If I did go see that recommended movie, checking back in at their next visit with a report on their suggestion is an amazing way to connect. This can also be expanded beyond movies to concerts, YouTube clips, and book suggestions as well.

What about with sports fans?
One of my bars had a large TV right beside the bar, so it helped to be up on a lot of sporting knowledge. While I could not dedicate the hours to watch games, I made sure to read the front page of ESPN each morning and figure out where the home teams were playing (and against whom) that day. It also helped to watch clips of the top plays of the previous day which took only two or three minutes; for example, when a guest asked if I saw a game, I could reply that I only caught the highlights and how that catch was amazing.

Investing in hobbies is another way to prepare for the shift.
For example, I have been vegetable gardening in the same plot of land for the last 16 summers. The number of guests that I have connected with about gardening through the years has been grand. Guests will come in for updates, commiseration or celebration about certain crops, and sharing of tips throughout the warmer months. It also helped at some of my bars that I brought in mint and edible flowers for garnish from my garden to tie the conversation in with the bar program.
Actually, going out can be a great way to do research for one’s guests.
I often ask people where they have been drinking or eating lately, and I frequently make suggestions on where to go including where to go after leaving my bar. I feel that it can build trust when one tells their patrons to go elsewhere. Moreover, for my guests who travel a lot for work, I inquire what cities are they going to next, and I set them up with bar recommendations of places that I have heard of or preferably know people at. Even with guests who are considering leaving your establishment, providing ideas for their night’s next destination is great hospitality; messaging your friend to expect them and informing their crew what your guests like to drink are some higher order actions.

Definitely there are some topics that are worth staying on top of but not discussing in depth with guests, such as politics and religion. I have violated that when it is a regular whose views I already know, and the bar is otherwise empty or sparse, so there is less risk of offending anyone. For those guests, it seems to be cathartic to express their anxieties about the state of affairs. But tread with caution here and try to insert one’s own opinion less.

Finally, I like to study my bartender moleskin.
Sometimes it is to enter new recipes in the front section of the book, or remind myself of forgotten recipes. But the magic has always been in the back. When I meet a new guest that seems noteworthy, I will enter their name with a fact or two and perhaps a brief description of their looks. Guests that come in more than that one time get an asterisk for easier referencing. Indeed, it has come in useful when people return months later and I need to research their name or what we spoke of last, and managers have actually requested that I check my records about guest’s identities for their nightly reports or to greet them in the dining room.

Being prepared for the shift to the employer starts with physically being there and being (or pretending to be) in a good mood. But for the bartender, it ought to start well before one’s call time to figure out ways to connect with guests and make their experience outside of the food and drink realm all the more positive and memorable.


3/4 oz Jamaican Rum (1/4 oz each Smith & Cross, Rumfire, and Coruba)
1/2 oz Campari
3/4 oz Strawberry Syrup (*)
3/4 oz Pineapple Juice
6 drop Absinthe (St. George)

Shake with ice, strain into a rocks glass with a large cube, and garnish with a pineapple leaf (omit).
(*) Imbibe recommended a 1 quart scale of each ingredient; they also did a 24 hour incubation of lightly crushed strawberries in the sugar. That seemed like too much and too long -- I wanted the drink now! So I made mine as a small batch using a microwave. I microwaved 3/4 oz sugar with 3-4 small frozen strawberries (3/4 - 1 oz) until it was boiling. I muddled, added 3/4 oz water, microwaved briefly to help dissolve the sugar, and fine strained. Made over an ounce which was perfect for a single drink here.
Two Fridays ago, I was tempted to finally make the Dunderstruck that appeared in Imbibe Magazine. The recipe was crafted by Matthew Roedel of The Public House in Bay City, Michigan, and it seemed like a winner since Campari and strawberries are an elegant duo such as in the Louanalao and Shrugroniz and both work well with pineapple juice. Once prepared, the Dunderstruck appeared as a rum funk nose with red fruit and bitter orange accents. Next, pineapple and strawberry mingled on the sip, and the swallow had funky rum melding into bitter orange flavors and ended with delightful tropical notes. Overall, the 6 drops of absinthe was a bit lost in the mix of strong flavors here but may have added to the brightness and complexity in the end.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

white rose

3/4 Dry Gin (1 1/2 oz Tanqueray)
1/4 Maraschino (1/2 oz Luxardo)
Orange Juice (1/2 oz)
Lemon Juice (1/2 oz)
1 Egg White

Shake once without ice and once with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass.

Two Thursdays ago, I returned to the 1937 Café Royal Cocktail Book after a long hiatus from flipping through its pages. There, I spotted the White Rose that seemed rather delightful as an egg white Aviation-like drink. After making it, I discovered that I had already written about Hugo Ensslin's 1916 White Rose Cocktail that varied by utilizing lime instead of lemon; given that it was six and a half years ago, I was not upset to remake this recipe especially given the slight difference.
The White Rose greeted the senses with a nutty cherry aroma from the Maraschino poking through the egg white froth. Next, a creamy lemon-orange sip gave way to gin and nutty Maraschino flavors on the swallow. Overall, the White Rose reminded me more of the Cherry Blossom than the Jack Rose, Bermuda Rose, or other "rose" drinks.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019


2/3 jigger Applejack (1 1/2 oz Boulard VSOP)
1/3 jigger Pineapple Juice (3/4 oz)
1 dash Lemon Juice (1/2 oz)
1 dash Maraschino Liqueur (1/4 oz Luxardo)
1 spoon Simple Syrup (1/4 oz)

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

For my post-work shift drink, I thumbed through my book shelves until I stopped upon Boothby's 1934 World Drinks and How to Mix Them. There, I spotted the Hawaiian among other similarly named recipes. This Hawaiian was perhaps closer to the Hawaiian Room given the applejack, pineapple, and lemon components; that drink was more rum forward, had orange liqueur instead of Maraschino, and temporally came after Boothby's. For a structure, I based things off of the gin and orgeat Royal Hawaiian.
The Hawaiian said aloha with an apple and nutty cherry bouquet. Next, lemon and pineapple on the sip led into apple, nutty, and pineapple flavors on the swallow. Given the similarities between orgeat and Maraschino, the balance did come across here like a cousin of the Royal Hawaiian.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

phoebe snow

1/2 Dubonnet (1 1/2 oz Byrrh Grand Quinquina)
1/2 Brandy (1 1/2 oz Camus VS Cognac)
1 dash Absinthe (1/2 bsp Kübler)

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

Two Tuesdays ago, I selected Hugo Ensslin's 1916 Recipes for Mixed Drinks book and spotted the Phoebe Snow. This three ingredient drink was named after a fictional character at the turn of the century who was created to showcase how clean anthracite coal was in trains via jingles like, "Says Phoebe Snow/about to go/upon a trip to Buffalo/"My gown stays white/from morn till night/Upon the Road of Anthracite". The fanciful New York socialite promoting the Lackawanna railways made such an impact that this cocktail was named in her honor. I had previously skipped over this cocktail for the Dubonnet then was a rather poor quinquina (the reformulated Dubonnet that I tasted over the summer was delicious though; however, I have not yet spotted it in stores); instead, here I substituted another rouge quinquina, Byrrh, in its place.
The Phoebe Snow cocktail began with a lemon and grape nose that led into further grape notes with cherry undertones on the sip. Next, Cognac, grape, anise, chocolate, and quinine flavors rounded out the delightful swallow.

Monday, February 25, 2019

italian buck

1 1/2 oz Cynar
1 1/2 oz Amaro Montenegro
3/4 oz Lime Juice

Shake with ice, strain into a Collins glass (Moscow Mule mug), add 3 oz ginger beer (Reed's), fill with ice, and garnish with a lime wheel. Note: the recipe in Boudreau's book is scaled down to 1 oz each of the amari and 1/2 oz lime juice; the ginger beer amount is the same but the garnish is a lime wedge.
Two Mondays ago, I reached for Brad Parsons' Amaro book and came across the Italian Buck that reminded me of the unopened bottle of ginger beer in my refrigerator. The recipe was crafted by Jamie Boudreau at Seattle's Cannon featuring two bitter liqueurs in a Buck format similar to the Fernet Buck at Deep Ellum. I followed the recipe that Parsons provided, but I later checked in Boudreau's book, The Canon Cocktail Book and noted that some of the volumes were adapted (see the note in the instructions above). Boudreau also commented in his book that, "While the Cynar carries all the funky bitter vegetal notes, the Montenegro helps round it out with its abundance of citrusy flavors." Once prepared, the Italian Buck welcomed the nose with lime, ginger, and orange aromas. Next, a carbonated caramel and lime sip bucked into ginger, funky herbal, and clementine flavors on the swallow.

Sunday, February 24, 2019


2/3 Rye Whiskey (2 oz Old Overholt)
1/6 Lemon Juice (1/2 oz)
1/6 Sweet Vermouth (1/2 oz Cocchi)
1 dash Picon Bitters (1/4 oz Torani Amer)
(1/4 oz Simple for balance)

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
After a day of visiting brewery tap rooms on Sunday, I was in the mood for a nightcap and turned to Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars: 1903-1933. In the American whiskey section, I spotted the Champion that appeared like a Liberal in a Sour format. Once prepared, the Champion donated a rye, orange, and lemon bouquet to the nose. Next, lemon, malt, and grape notes on the sip were beaten out by rye, grape, and bitter orange flavors on the swallow.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

banana cow

1 oz Trader Vic's Light Puerto Rican Rum (1 1/2 oz Privateer Tres Aromatique)
1 dash Angostura Bitters
1 whole Banana (sliced)
1 tsp Sugar
1 dash Vanilla Extract
3 oz Milk

Blend with 1/2 scoop shaved ice and service in a Planter's Punch glass or in a 12 1/2 oz tumbler. I garnished with 3 slices of banana on a pick and 5 drops Angostura Bitters.

After a grueling late night buyout at the bar two Saturdays ago, I got home too exhausted to do much more than eat some leftovers and go to sleep. Sunday morning, however, I decided to make up for my lack of home mixology by delving into my Trader Vic's 1974 Rum Cookery & Drinkery. I was inspired by Andrea preparing banana-coconut waffles to make Trader Vic's own Banana Cow which was a banana-forward version of his Rum Cow, and thus, I got out the blender.
Without the additional garnish, the Banana Cow proffered a banana and vanilla nose, but with the additional garnish it shared hints of clove and allspice. Next, a creamy banana sip gave way to a funky rum, banana, and vanilla swallow.

Friday, February 22, 2019

the weeper's joy

3 dash Gum (1/4 oz Simple Syrup)
1/2 pony Absinthe (3/4 oz Kübler Absinthe)
1/2 pony Vino Vermouth (3/4 oz Cocchi Sweet)
1/2 pony Kümmel (3/4 oz Helbing)
1 dash Curaçao (1/4 oz Pierre Ferrand Dry)

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

When I got home two Fridays ago, I thought that it might be time to revisit a drink never made it on to the blog. The recipe was the Weeper's Joy -- an oddball combination that appeared in William Schmidt's 1891 The Flowing Bowl. I made that drink before I got a reprint of that tome for I was able to source it from David Wondrich's Imbibe! Many of the cocktails in Schmidt's book were weird ones, and it was not surprising that the 2010 Beta Cocktails zine (the photocopied one that came out between the book printing of 2009 Rogue Cocktails and 2011 Beta Cocktail books) hosted what appeared to be a riff on it called the Spice Trade with overlapping absinthe, kümmel, and curaçao ingredients.
For an absinthe, I selected Kübler for its softer balance seems to work the best in my collection with absinthe-forward recipes. Once prepared, the Weeper's Joy offered an anise and caraway aroma that preceded a sweet grape sip. Next, caraway, cumin, orange, anise, and other spice notes filled the swallow. Overall, it was the orange flavors that donated an elegance to the combination.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

el catador

1 oz Añejo Tequila (Cimarron Reposado)
1 oz Oloroso Sherry (Lustau)
1 oz Galliano
3-4 dash Bittermens Mole Bitters

Stir with ice, twist a lemon peel over a cocktail coupe, strain into the coupe, and garnish with a second lemon twist.

For a nightcap two Thursdays ago, I delved into my Food & Wine: Cocktails library and selected the 2010 volume. There, I spotted Charles Vexenat's El Catador that he crafted at London's HIX which seemed intriguing with the aged tequila befriending nutty sherry once again but here spiced with Galliano and molé bitters. Strangely, the drink was named after the food taster who ingests dishes prepared for someone else to confirm that it is safe from poison.
The Catador had the nose sensing lemon, agave vegetal, nutty, and star anise aromas before determining that it was safe to taste. Next, a semi-sweet grape sip led into tequila, nutty sherry, and vanilla on the swallow with a chocolate and star anise finish.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

it's not me, it's you

1 oz Fernet Branca (1 1/2 oz)
1/2 oz Dry Curaçao (3/4 oz Pierre Ferrand)
1/2 oz Sloe Gin (3/4 oz Atxa Patxaran)
5 dash Peychaud's Bitters

Stir with ice, strain into an old fashioned glass or coupe (coupe), and garnish with a grapefruit twist (lemon twist).
Two Wednesdays ago, I was in the mood for a nightcap after my work shift and turned to Clair McLafferty's Romantic Cocktails for the answer. There, I selected the It's Not Me, It's You by San Francisco bartender Christina Mae Henderson that was subtitled, "A little dry, a little bitter, a little citrusy: just like a breakup." I was drawn in for the combination of sloe gin and Fernet Branca in that drink was one that worked so well in the Sloe & Unsteady. In the glass, the It's Not Me offered up a lemon, caramel, and menthol nose that set up a caramel and orange sip. Next, minty, berry, orange, and menthol flavors on the swallow rounded out this complex sipper.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

carlota's collapse

1 oz Cynar
1/2 oz Mezcal (Fidencio)
1/2 oz Elderflower Liqueur (St. Elder)
1 oz Punt e Mes
15-21 drop Lemon Juice (approx. 1 scant bsp)
6 dash Orange Bitters (Angostura Orange)
1 pinch Salt

Stir with ice, strain into a rocks glass 1/8th rimmed with salt and with a large ice cube, and garnish with the oil from 3 lemon twists and insert the last peel in.

Two Tuesdays ago, I was thinking about low proof cocktails and looked up The Search for Deliciousness that Kirk Estopinal created at The Cure and published in Beta Cocktails in 2011. I wanted to do a mashup to pay tribute to this drink, and the Punt e Mes and lemon juice made me consider Misty Kalkofen's Maximilian Affair as a partner. While I could extract the mezcal and elderflower from the Maximilian Affair, I still wanted to keep the low proof nature and surely the baroqueness of The Search with the drops, multiple twists, and salt rim specifications. For a name, I dubbed this one Carlota's Collapse. When Emperor Maximilian ran into trouble with his regime, his wife Carlota traveled to Europe to search for assistance in Paris, Rome, and Vienna. Carlota's search failed which led her to mental breakdown and a refusal to return to Mexico; Maximilian was executed the following year. Here, a little salt to symbolize tears, smoke for destruction, and Cynar for bitterness.
Carlota's Collapse met the nose with lemon, smoke, and dark aromas from the Cynar and Punt e Mes. Next, grape and caramel on the sip reached out to mezcal and floral bitter flavors on the swallow.

Monday, February 18, 2019

jean genie

1 1/2 oz London Dry Gin (Tanqueray)
3/4 oz Lime Juice
3/4 oz Ginger Syrup
1/2 oz Blue Curaçao (1/2 oz Cointreau + 2 drop blue food coloring)
2 dash Orange Bitters (Angostura Orange)

Shake with ice, strain into a Collins glass with 3 oz soda water, top with ice, and garnish with a cherry-orange peel flag.

Two Mondays ago after cooking dinner, I turned to the AlcoholProfessor tribute to David Bowie to make the Jean Genie that I had bookmarked earlier in the week. The recipe was a ginger syrup and orange liqueur-laden Tom Collins that was crafted by Andrew Volk of the Hunt & Alpine Club in Portland, Maine. Like the other genie drink I have had, the Genie in a Bottle, it was crafted to be a vibrant blue color. Moreover, the song title was an allusion to author Jean Genet, and the rest according to Bowie was "a smorgasbord of imagined Americana" for this 1972 hit.
The Jean Genie welcomed the nose with orange aromas from the flag garnish. Next, a carbonated lime and orange sip snuck off to a gin, ginger, and orange swallow.

the french connection

1 1/2 oz Baldwin Bar's Private Cask of Plantation Trinidad 2009 Rum
1 oz Pierre Ferrand Premier Cru Cognac
1 tsp Lustau East India Solera Sherry
1 tsp Crème de Banana
1 tsp Gomme Syrup
2 dash "Tango Bitters" (1 dash each Bittermens Tiki and Angostura)

Stir with ice, strain into a rocks glass with ice, and garnish with 2 lemon twists. Note: the three 1 tsp ingredients were equal parts in a 1/2 oz pour of the mix (and in a previous version were 1/4 oz each).
The cocktail that Andrea selected at the Baldwin Bar two Sundays ago was the French Connection that featured the bar's recent purchase of a barrel's worth of Plantation 2009 Trinidad Rum. While Trinidad is not a French island, Plantation Rums are part of the Pierre Ferrand Cognac house, and their brandy made up the other large percentage of the Old Fashioned-like drink. Once prepared, the French Connection smuggled Cognac and rum aromas underneath the lemon oil notes from the twists. Next, caramel and grape on the sip transitioned into rum and brandy flavors on the swallow with light banana and spice accents.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

lion's paw

1 1/2 oz Maker's Mark Bourbon
1 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Cinnamon Syrup
1/2 oz Orgeat
2 dash Allspice Dram

Shake with ice, strain into a double old fashioned glass, fill with crushed ice, and garnish with mint sprigs and an ice shell with edible flowers.

For Superbowl Sunday two weeks ago, we wanted to support a bar lacking a television set, so we headed up to the Baldwin Bar in Woburn. For a first drink, I asked for the Lion's Paw which was their riff on the 1937 Lion's Tail. The riff included additional notes of orgeat akin to the A Tale of Two Kitties as well as cinnamon to take things in a Tiki direction akin to the Poison Dart.
When the Lion's Paw arrived, even people on the other side of the bar were commenting on how beautiful the drink looked. After that first impression, I was greeted by a mint aroma from the garnish. Next, a creamy lime and malt sip roared into whiskey, almond, cinnamon, and allspice flavors on the swallow. Definitely this riff was much less stark and aggressive than the classic given the addition of orgeat and cinnamon and the reduction of allspice dram.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

death's comeback

3/4 oz Bluecoat Gin (Tanqueray)
3/4 oz St. Germain (St. Elder)
3/4 oz Aperol
1/2 oz Lime Juice (3/4 oz)
1/4 oz Simple Syrup (omit)

Shake with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with 3 drop absinthe (St. George).
After a late, busy night of work, I reached for Pittsburg Drinks and spotted a Corpse Reviver #2 riff that seemed perfect for my near corpse-like tiredness. The recipe was the Death's Comeback created by Spencer Warren of Embury in Pittsburg, and the combination of gin, St. Germain, Aperol, and citrus reminded me of Paul Clarke's Dunniette. Moreover, the gin, elderflower, citrus, and absinthe aspects made me think fondly of Sam Ross' Sunflower. In the glass, the Death's Comeback shared an anise and floral bouquet to the nose. Next, lime, pear, and orange notes filled the sip, and the swallow transmitted gin, orange, grapefruit, and rhubarb flavors.

Friday, February 15, 2019

:: cost-free hospitality ::

First published on the USBG National blog in June 2017, and slightly modified for publication here.

In a previous job, I was spoiled with a considerable comp tab per bartender per shift as well as certain bottles that we were allowed to pour without charge since liquor companies made deals like “buy 10 cases and get 4 for free.” This allowed us to treat regulars, industry folk, and cool guests to gifts that both increased their enjoyment of their visit as well as added to our tip pool. This was not even considered stealing from the house since it was approved by management. In a later position in a small, young restaurant, we were not as free to comp food or drink or give away pours. For solutions to improve my guests’ experiences, I looked around town to observe some tricks of the trade that didn’t cost the house a dime.

One of the consummate barmen in the city used to own his own place downtown before he sold it off to focus on his other restaurant partnerships. Despite not having an amazing spirits selection, complex cocktail lists, or a cutting edge beer program, the place was rather popular, and I frequently was content to drink a few High Lifes and watch the magic. This barman was an expert in remembering people’s names and figuring out what would make them happy. Many of them were his signature stock tricks like when someone got up to go for a smoke, he would fill a shaker tin with ice to chill their bottle of beer as if it were wine service for a nice bottle of white or bubbles. Other times, it was a warm handshake and an inquiry into how one’s job was going; this sincere act was extra meaningful at times when one needed an ear or it felt like everyone else just wanted to talk about themselves. Knowing people’s drink orders and asking if that was what they wanted not only saved time, but it made people feel like true regulars. I think the best moment was when I was walking down the stairs one evening, and this bartender immediately took note, quieted the bar, and announce, “Everyone: Fred Yarm is here.” This declaration was followed by a round of applause from the bar patrons. It was surreal, but this act made me feel that this place was special and a welcoming home. Moreover, even 5 years later, this moment still makes my list of most memorable bar experiences both here and in my travels.
At a larger establishment across the city, there is a different style of hospitality. There, the food and drink are rather noteworthy, but this was not where they stopped. True, they certainly utilize their ability to comp a round of drinks or send out a complementary appetizer or dessert, but those good deeds are less memorable over time (and sometimes not even noticed unless the bartender pointed that out the removed drink round during the bill presentation). What sets them apart is how the bar team and the restaurant approach hospitality seriously. There is allegedly a database of guest names, photos from social media, their likes, their dietary restrictions, and drink preferences so that they can better cater to their return guests; apparently, they are required to study this data collection so that they can react instantaneously. But to their first timers and even their return guests, they take extra steps to make nights special. One thing they do when guests mention that they will soon be closing out is to ask where they are going next. For the indecisive, they offer recommendations, but for those with plans, they will do every effort to set them up at the next stop. Often, they will call ahead and do their best to reserve seats for them as well as try to connect with the bartender or manager on duty to make sure that these guests get the VIP treatment there.

Other things that I have experienced across town include bartenders taking out special vintage glassware for guests who were really into cocktails as well as increasing their garnish game on off-list requests and bartender’s choice requests. Other times, it was the absurd that stood out. At one bar, we were playing the dice game 1-4-24, and the bartender came by and provided a gamer’s dice box to control the rolls. In addition, to make things more interesting, he offered up a mask from their collection of wares behind the bar such that the loser of each round had to wear this monkey mask for the following game round. At several other establishments, it was being taken on a tour of the downstairs wine and spirits room or of the kitchen in response to our curiosity about the place’s layout or other. At one brewpub, it was the brewer seeking me out and giving me a tour of the brewing facility upon hearing about my enthusiasm about beer.
Even if your establishment allows you to pamper your guests with freebies, consider the many ways that can be conjured up to make a guest’s experience all the more memorable by being their advocate and figuring out what would best suit their needs. Many of these cost the restaurant nothing and stand out in a guest’s mind longer than a free shot of amaro at the end (although those are generally appreciated in my book). Restaurateur Danny Meyer declared, “The most important thing you can do is make the distinction between customer service and guest hospitality. You need both things to thrive, but they are completely different.” Looking out for how to make your guest’s night special is above and beyond just providing them with what they ask for, but by figuring out what they might need or want without them asking for it.

tantris sidecar

1 oz Cognac (Courvoisier VS)
1/2 oz Calvados (Boulard VSOP)
1/2 oz Cointreau
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Simple Syrup
1/4 oz Pineapple Juice
1/4 oz Green Chartreuse

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass half rimmed with sugar; some recipes include a lemon twist so I did too.

I recently saw a reference to Audrey Saunder's Tantris Sidecar that she created at the Pegu Club, and I decided to revisit it. I returned to my pre-blog LiveJournal and was reminded that I made this shortly after reading about it in Chuck Taggart's blog post in 2007; therefore, I am utilizing that recipe here. Chuck described the concept as, "This takeoff on the sidecar turns the brandy into a Cognac-Calvados blend, the Cointreau into an orange-herb blend, and the lemon juice into a lemon-pineapple blend, maintaining the original character of the drink but adding many layers of additional flavors." Robert Simonson wrote about this riff in his A Proper Drink book, and he described in greater detail how Audrey broke down the juice component into primary and secondary acids of lemon and pineapple, respectively. Besides dividing the Cognac into a 2:1 mix with apple brandy, she split the orange liqueur with Chartreuse to add herbal notes in a way that reminds me of David Embury's Knight. Finally, the combination needed to be softened, so simple syrup was included "to add the fat."
The Tantris Sidecar welcomed the nose with aged grape and apple brandy aromas accented by orange and bright lemon notes. Next, a lemony sip drove into Cognac, Calvados, pineapple, orange peel, and Chartreuse's herbal flavors on the swallow.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

i love you like a punch in the head

3/4 oz Tequila (Cimarron Blanco)
3/4 oz Mezcal (Fidencio)
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1 tsp Becherovka (1/4 oz)
1/2 oz 2:1 Simple Syrup (3/4 oz 1:1)
1 Egg White

Shake once without ice and once with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with bitters (Jerry Thomas Decanter) and grapefruit oil from a twist.

Two Thursdays ago, I was excited about trying a recipe from a new book, namely Clair McLafferty's Romantic Cocktails: Craft Cocktail Recipes for Couples, Crushes, and Star-Crossed Lovers; I was sent the book as a thank you for my contribution of the Queen of the Lava Beds for the section on drinks for two. The one I selected was the I Love You Like a Punch in the Head by Beckaly Franks at the Pontiac in Hong Kong that appeared like an agave egg white Sour spiced with Becherovka. The name also worked perfectly with the glass that I purchased at the Central Square Good Will store earlier in the day for $1.99 -- namely, a Richard Jolley creation that he did for Bombay Sapphire back in 1996!
Entertainingly, the two week delay in my blog posting lined up with today being Valentine's Day, so here is one for the lovers even if the name shows signs of dysfunction. On the nose, the I Love You proffered clove, cinnamon, grapefruit, and hints of smoke. Next, a creamy lemon sip bobbed and weaved into smoky agave and hints of cinnamon, clove, and ginger on the swallow.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

el nino

1 oz Zacapa 23 Rum (Diplomatico Riserva Exclusiva)
1 oz Oronoco Rum (Uruapan Charanda Blanco)
1 oz Pineapple Syrup
1 oz Lemon Juice
Rinse Herbsaint (1 bsp included in mix)

Whip shake, pour into a glass (Tiki mug), fill with crushed ice, and garnish with bitters (Angostura) and a pineapple leaf (omit).
On Wednesday two weeks ago, I wanted to get one more drink in for Tiki the Snow Away month, and I found the perfect recipe in the 2009 Tales of the Cocktail Stir Your Soul book. The libation that caught my eye was the El Nino crafted by Lynnette Marrero for a "Sugarcane Spirits from Around the World" talk that year. The Orinoco Rum called for in the recipe has been discontinued sometime over the last decade, but it was a white Brazilian rum consisting of molasses rum and cachaça; as a substitute, I selected the mezican Uruapan blend of molasses and sugarcane juice distillates that probably falls in the same ballpark. Once prepared, the El Nino shared a clove and allspice bouquet to the nose. Next, caramel from the dark rum was brightened by the lemon juice on the sip, and the swallow showcased a mix of funky and dark rum notes along with pineapple and anise flavors.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

morton house

2/3 Black & White Scotch (1 1/2 oz Famous Grouse)
1/3 French Vermouth (3/4 oz Noilly Prat Dry)
1 dash Crème de Noyaux (1/4 oz Tempus Fugit)
1 dash Bokers or Picon Bitters (1/4 oz Torani Amer)

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

Two Tuesdays ago, I returned home from a bonus shift at work in need of a nightcap. For a solution, I searched my way through Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars: 1903-1933 until I found the Morton House that came across like a Scotch Brooklyn with noyaux in place of the similarly nutty Maraschino. That book also had the Parisian which was a Cognac Brooklyn with noyaux subbing in place of the Picon. As for the name, I was a bit flummoxed for there are many famous Morton Houses. The most famous is probably the 1872 book of that title published by Christian Reid, and the most interesting is an 1890s farmhouse that has been declared one of the most haunted places in America (albeit, the hauntings began after the recipe was created).
In the glass, there was less uncertainty for the mix provided a nutty aroma in a fruity-vanilla sort of way. Next, a dry malt-laden sip shifted into Scotch flavors and dark orange melding into nutty stonefruit pits on the swallow.

Monday, February 11, 2019

serious moonlight

1 1/2 oz Pisco Caravedo Ancholado (Encanto)
1/2 oz Green Chartreuse
1/2 oz Honey Syrup
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
3/4 oz Egg White (1 Egg White)

Shake once without ice and once with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with 3 drop Bittermens Burlesque Bitters.

Two Mondays ago, I was excited that the AlcoholProfessor blog had published their tribute to David Bowie with a cocktail retrospective that contained my Life On Mars. The recipe that caught my eye first was the Serious Moonlight that Nick Elezovic of Diamond Dogs in Astoria crafted based on Bowie's 1983 hit "Let's Dance," and the thought of a Pisco Sour with honey and Chartreuse as sweeteners seemed delightful.
Once prepared, the Serious Moonlight shined like the celestial object but projected Green Chartreuse's herbal aromas to the nose. Next, a creamy lemon and honey sip gave way to pisco and herbal flavors on the swallow.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

sacre bleu

1 1/2 oz Martell Cognac (Courvoisier VS)
3/4 oz Sweet Vermouth (Cocchi)
2 bsp Cointreau (1/4 oz)
2 dash Peychaud's Bitters

Stir with ice, strain into a rocks glass pre-rinsed with Pernod Absinthe, and garnish with an orange twist (orange oil, discard twist).

Two Sundays ago, I reached for the Stir Your Soul book that contained most of the recipes served at the 2009 Tales of the Cocktail event. There, I was lured in by the Sacre Bleu crafted by Simon Ford for a spirited dinner held at Wolfe's in New Orleans that week. The Sacre Bleu was a Cognac Sazerac like the original version before Phylloxera forced bartenders into making it a rye whiskey drink, and the orange liqueur reminded me of Gaz Regan's Sazerac riff, La Tour Eiffel. Moreover, the brandy, vermouth, orange liqueur, and bitters triggered thoughts of Robert Hess' Black Feather that we discovered either on his DrinkBoy blog or in his Essential Bartender's Guide book back in 2007 or so.
Once built, the Sacre Bleu cursed our nose with orange and anise aromas with some darker notes from either the Cognac or sweet vermouth. Next, the grape-driven sip gave way to brandy and orange flavors melding together on the swallow with accents from anise spice.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

devil's mustache

2 oz Mezcal (Fidencio)
1/2 oz Cynar
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/4 oz Simple Syrup
2 dash Orange Bitters (Regan's)

Shake with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with an orange twist. Note: the recipe I found stated stirring, but both photos of the drink that I spotted online were frothy as if shaken.

Two Saturdays ago, I made another drink that I had spied on BarNotes called the Devil's Mustache. This mezcal-Cynar Sour was created at Haddington's in Austin, Texas, circa 2011, and it was attributed to Florian Minier there and to Austin bartender Wesley Borden in Tasting Panel magazine (albeit with no bitters, and with agave syrup and lemon instead of simple syrup and lime). Evidence supporting the BarNotes' story was that the information was provided by another bartender at Haddington's with the comment that it was "created by Florian Minier... who word has it had a phenomenal mustache." Made that way, the Devil's Mustache offered up an orange, funky herbal, and smoke bouquet to the nose. Next, lime mingled with caramel on the sip, and the swallow showcased smoky agave melding into Cynar's herbal flavors and finished with mineral and citrus notes. Overall, the cocktail joined the collection here of other smoke-forward Devil's drinks such as the Devil's Soul and the Devil's Backbone.

Friday, February 8, 2019

grog mutiny

3/4 oz Scotch (Famous Grouse)
3/4 oz Rum (Coruba)
3/4 oz Lustau East India Solera Sherry (3 parts Lustau Amontillado to 1 part Oxford Pedro Ximenez)
3/4 oz Cynar or Averna
3/4 oz Cream
1 Whole Egg

Shake once without ice and once with ice, strain into a glass, and garnish with Angostura Bitters.

Two Fridays ago, I decided to make an Egg Nog that I had spotted on BarNotes called the Grog Mutiny. I had held off since I had not replaced my Lustau East India Solera Sherry that the recipe specified, but this time, I took my own advice that I wrote into Boston Cocktails: Drunk & Told to use 3 parts amontillado/oloroso sherry to 1 part Pedro Ximenez to replicate a cream sherry such as East India Solera. For the Averna or Cynar option, I considered Averna for it paired well with Scotch in the Egg Nog A Drunk in a Midnight Choir, but I wanted to change gears and take the Cynar route instead. I had forgotten that I had just mixed a Scotch Egg Nog with Cynar recently, the Barnaby Jones, and had already created one myself, the Wait Until Spring, four years ago.
The Grog Mutiny was created by New York City bartender Rafa Garcia Febles, and he named it around the circumstances at the West Point Military Academy over Christmas 1826. That year, the Eggnog Riot or the Grog Mutiny occurred where one-third of the students rioted after dipping too heavily into eggnog laced with smuggled-in whiskey at a party; read more about it in this Smithsonian article. Once the tribute was prepared, the Grog Mutiny welcomed the senses with a cinnamon and clove aroma. Next, a creamy grape and caramel sip gave way to Scotch and funky rum on the swallow with a hint of nuttiness and funky herbal amaro on the finish.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

how do i compare

3/4 oz Bourbon (Four Roses Yellow Label)
3/4 oz Apple Brandy (Laird's Bonded)
1/2 oz Benedictine
1/4 oz Cointreau
2 dash Apple Bitters (1 dash Bittermens Burlesque + 1 dash Regan's Orange)

Build in a glass, stir to mix without ice, and garnish with orange oil from a twist. Note: This is a room temperature cocktail.

After my work shift two Thursdays ago, I ventured into Sother Teague's I'm Just Here for the Drinks book where I spotted his How Do I Compare recipe. The drink is a room temperature "cocktail" called a Scaffa that fails to be cocktail for it lacks the water component in the 1806 formula of spirit, sugar, bitters, and water. Classic Scaffas such as Frank Meier's 1934 Rum Scaffa frequently called for Benedictine, and I have found orange liqueurs to work well too such as in the Orange Scaffa. Here, the How Do I Compare utilizes both, and the name is in reference to comparing apples to oranges or apple brandy plus bitters and Cointreau, respectively. To round out the mix, Sother split the base spirit with Bourbon, and to answer the naming question, he responded, "How do I compare apples to oranges? I don't. I just drink them."
In the glass, the orange element greeted the senses through the orange oil from a twist. Next, apple and the whiskey's malt filled the sip, and Bourbon and apple flavors were joined by orange-herbal notes on the swallow.