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.