Monday, June 24, 2024

omertà cocktail

1 1/2 oz Frapin Cognac (Monnet VSOP)
1/4 oz Tempus Fugit Crème de Banane
1/4 oz Cocchi Extra Dry Vermouth (Noilly Prat)
1/8 oz Drambuie
8 drop Bittermens Mole Bitters
8 drop Regan's Orange Bitters
1 drop Saline Solution

Stir with ice, strain into a double fashioned glass with a large ice cube, and garnish with lemon oil from a twist.
Two Mondays ago, I returned to the set of online recipe flashcards for Cure in New Orleans and spotted the Omertà Cocktail. This recipe from their Spring 2023 menu was attributed on their Instagram post from a year ago to bartender Scott Hicks with the description of "This spirited take on the Louisiane marries Cognac with banana and dry cacao." Omertà is a code of silence originating in Southern Italian organized crime families such that members are forbidden to reveal details of any activity to authorities even if it means going to prison or worse; I have no clue why that name pertains here, but the combination seemed curiously tempting. In the glass, the Omertà began with lemon, Cognac, and banana aromas. Next, caramel and honey notes on the sip fled into Cognac, chocolate, and banana flavors on the swallow.

Sunday, June 23, 2024

tropical lion's tail

3/4 oz Bourbon (Evan Williams Bonded)
3/4 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Appletone Reserve Rum (Appleton Signature)
1/2 oz Pineapple Syrup
1/4 oz Smith & Cross Rum
1/4 oz Allspice Dram (Hamilton's)
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Shake with ice, strain into an old fashioned glass with a large ice cube, and garnish with a lime wheel.
Two Sundays ago, I found a note on my phone to make the Tropical Lion's Tail from an October 2023 article in Imbibe Magazine. This riff of the 1937 classic Lion's Tail was crafted by Brandon Ristaino at Test Pilot in Santa Barbara. Along with the Junior, the Lion's Tail is one of the few classic American whiskey drinks paired with lime instead of lemon for it can often create a flavor clash as described by Donny Clutterbuck in his talk Life Gives You Limes. In those drinks, the Benedictine and rum-based allspice dram perhaps act like bridges between the new charred barrel flavors of Bourbon and rye, and I tried to soften things in this classic with a lemon-driven riff called the Lion's Share. Here, the Bourbon was split with rums which is a technique I previous experienced in the Lion's Fang which also took things in a Tiki direction with additional sweeteners like pineapple syrup here and falernum there. Once prepared, the Tropical Lion's Tail began with a lime, caramel, and allspice bouquet. Next, lime, pineapple, and caramel on the sip wagged its way into Bourbon, funky rums, pineapple, and allspice flavors on the swallow.

Saturday, June 22, 2024

regent's punch

2 oz Bourbon (Evan Williams Bonded)
2 oz Brewed Green Tea, Cooled (Choice Organics Japanese Green)
1/2 oz Lemon Cordial (*)

Build in an old fashioned glass, add a large ice cube, and garnish with a lemon slice (omit garnish).
(*) Lemon cordial is a scaling of the following: the peel of 1 lemon in 1 oz sugar for 30+ minutes. Dissolve sugar in 1 oz lemon juice and strain.

One of the recipes that I had flagged in Nicola Nice's The Cocktail Parlor: How Women Brought the Cocktail Home was the Regent's Punch as adapted from Eliza Leslie's 1837 Domestic Cookery in Its Various Branches. That source recipe called for "any liquor suitable for punch" and Nicola opted for Bourbon. This recipe was a much more stripped down version of perhaps more authentic versions. David Wondrich in Punch provided a history tracing the original elaborate recipe back to perhaps a Prince of Wales, namely George Augustus Frederick. Getting at an bona fide recipe is challenging for many were recorded over the 19th century. William Terrington in the 1869 Cooling Cups and Dainty Drinks listed arrack, brandy, Champagne, Maraschino, pineapple syrup, lemon and orange peels, sugar, and green tea, while Eliza Acton in the 1845 Modern Cookery for Private Families dropped the Maraschino and included Jamaican rum. Regardless, this simple version felt akin to the Zombie Essence that reduced the ten part drink from 1934 to five all while keeping the feel alive (or at least undead).
Regardless, I am a sucker for green tea-containing punches such as Cold Ruby and G.M. Gurton's Punches, so I was game to give this one a go. In this cup, this punch proffered Bourbon and lemon oil aromas. Next, a lemony sip succeeded into Bourbon, tea, and lemon flavors on the swallow. Overall, rather pleasant, but I can see how gussying it up with additional flavors from the more extravagant recipes would prosper.

Friday, June 21, 2024


2 oz Rye Whiskey (Old Overholt 86°)
3/4 oz Sweet Vermouth (Cocchi)
1/4 oz Apricot Liqueur (Rothman & Winter)

Stir with ice, strain into a coupe pre-rinsed with Campari (~1/10 oz), and garnish with a lemon twist.
Two Fridays ago, I was perusing a set of Milk & Honey-related online recipe flashcards and found the Verrazano as a curious Manhattan riff. I was able to confirm the recipe in the Madrusian family tree and in the 2012 but not 1994 edition of Mr. Boston Official Cocktail Book. Overall, the combination came across like the Slope with the rinse of Campari reminding me of the Bijou-like Tailspin. KindredCocktails in 2013 attributed this recipe to Allison Hamlin at the Astor Center in Manhattan as perhaps a tribute to the bridge connecting Staten Island to Brooklyn. Once prepared, the Verrazano spanned to the senses with a lemon, rye, and fruity aroma. Next, grape with a hint of orchard fruit on the sip flowed into rye, herbal, and bitter apricot flavors on the swallow.

Thursday, June 20, 2024

coley cobbler

2 1/4 oz Sweet Vermouth (Cocchi)
1/2 oz Fernet Branca
1/4 oz Demerara Syrup
2 Orange Wheels

Muddle the orange wheels, add the rest of the ingredients, shake with ice, and strain into a Collins glass. Fill with crushed ice, add a straw, and garnish with 2 orange half moons and around 1/8 oz juniper-forward gin (Beefeater) dripped over the top.
While in Denver reading Nicola Nice's The Cocktail Parlor: How Women Brought the Cocktail Home book in the section mentioning the Sherry Cobbler, I was inspired to riff on Ada Coleman's Hanky Panky and transform it into a Vermouth Cobbler. Sweet vermouth and Fernet were a duo that worked in my Diddlin' Dora back at the Blue Room in 2013, and I decided to make this riff an inverse Hanky Panky of sorts and include classic muddled orange wheels in the mix to smooth out the balance. Once I got home from the trip and made the recipe that I had put into my notes, I dubbed the result the Coley Cobbler after Ada's nickname at the Savoy bar, and it began with an orange and juniper bouquet. Next, grape, orange, and a hint of caramel on the sip opened up into vermouth melding into herbal-menthol flavors on the swallow.

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

ghosts of graceland

1 1/2 oz Cognac (Monnet VSOP)
1/2 oz Planteray Stiggins' Fancy Pineapple Rum
1/2 oz Giffard Peach Liqueur (Mathilde)
1/2 oz Punt e Mes
2 dash Mephis BBQ Bitters (Bittercube Corazon)
1 pinch Sea Salt (3 drop 20% Saline)

Stir with ice, strain into a coupe, and garnish with a lemon twist (orange twist).
After a delayed flight returning from the USBG national meeting in Denver, I was in need of a drink. Therefore, I found the Ghosts of Graceland in online recipe flashcards for Polite Provisions in San Diego. The cocktail was mentioned in a Fall 2023 article on Halloween-appropriate cocktails around San Diego, and the combination of Punt e Mes and crème de peche were ones that worked well in Tony Iamunno's Movin' to the Country and my Barry's Corner. In the glass, the Ghosts of Graceland proffered orange, peach, and Cognac aromas. Next, grape and fruity notes on the sip were haunted by Cognac and bitter peach and pineapple flavors on the swallow.

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

blackberry old fashioned

2 oz Wild Turkey 101° Bourbon
3/4 oz Blackberry Honey Sage Syrup
2 dash Angostura Bitters

Stir with ice, strain into a double old fashioned glass with a large cube, and garnish with a sage leaf and blackberry on a pick.
At Josephine, the management wanted to take the Fall-Winter appropriate Maple-Chestnut Old Fashioned off the menu and tasked me with coming up with something more Spring-Summer worthy. When I got the suggestion of blackberry, a flavor pairing matrix suggested sage. For a sweetener, honey has been underutilized at the bar, so I opted with that to give this complex syrup a third flavor component. No major tricks here in the concept or build, but the end result was a winner that guests ordered again and again in the same seating.
Blackberry Honey Sage Syrup
• 16 oz Honey (by weight)
• 8 oz Water (by weight)
• 12 leaf Sage (med-large leaves, or the equivalent of smaller ones)
• 8 oz Blackberries (by weight)
Add Honey and water in a pot (I weighed them in the pot to avoid loss in transfer).
Bring to a boil. Add sage leaves and continue on low heat for an hour. Let cool.
Remove sage leaves, pour into a blender with blackberries. Blend then strain. For a large batch, I would weigh out 3 parts honey-water-sage and add 1 part blackberry per blender load.

Monday, June 17, 2024

mirtillo fresco

1 1/2 oz Citadelle Gin
3/4 oz Blueberry-Black Tea Syrup (* see below)
1/2 oz Italicus Rosolio di Bergamotto
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1 dash Angostura Bitters
1 dash Peychaud's Bitters

Shake with ice, strain into a Nick & Nora glass, and garnish with 3 blueberries on a pick.

Photo by IGer @cocktails_around_boston
Another menu item I created at Josephine was the Mirtillo Fresco. I honed in on the blueberries that the kitchen had been buying for brunch. I soon considered the Italicus bergamot liqueur that was no longer being used in a cocktail menu item (it was still in the well for use in a spritz), and with that, my mind went to black tea to recreate the flavors of Earl Grey. The combination with gin and lemon juice required some bitters with Angostura providing some depth and Peychaud's bringing out an extra berry accent. The management rather liked the combination and they named it Mirtillo Fresco meaning "fresh blueberry" in Italian.
Blueberry-Black Tea Syrup
• Brew a strong batch of black tea with 1 teabag for every 4 oz of boiling water. Steep as directed (3-4 minutes).
• Add 3 parts blueberries by weight to 2 parts black tea (cooled) to a blender. Blend and fine strain.
• Weigh blueberry-black tea liquid after straining, add an equal weight of sugar, and whisk to dissolve.

Sunday, June 16, 2024

orange basil martini

2 oz Citadelle Gin
1 oz Carpano Dry Vermouth
1/4 oz Orange-Basil Lactic Ferment Brine (* See below)

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with a lemon twist, pickled onions, or olives.
While I was away at the USBG national meeting two weeks ago, I was not gathering any cocktail recipes and photos for the blog and Instagram. Therefore, I figured that I would feature three drinks that I created at Josephine in Somerville besides the Flowers of St. Francis milk punch that I had written about earlier. One of the frequent questions that we had at Josephine was what beers were on tap, and the answer was none. We had a pair of Vodka Martinis and originally our house limoncello on said taps. The limoncello eventually had to be nixed since the oils and particulates were clogging up the valves on the Cornelius keg regardless of how much we strained it through coffee filters, and we bottled it instead. I proposed a Gin Martini to add to the Dirty Vodka and Vodka with Vermouth Martinis, as guests were asking for it and it would be the Martini that I would want to drink. However, I wanted to level up the classic 2:1 Dry Martini with a tie-in with our food program. Therefore, I decided to incorporate basil and orange flavors, but instead of an infusion, I preserved the flavors with a lactic ferment. This came about as I considered our house Dirty Martini at Loyal Nine in 2015 which utilized a healthy amount of the brine from the sauerkraut that the kitchen was constantly generating. I then experienced a more classic Martini with a quarter ounce of brine in Zach Luther's Dandelion Martini at his guest shift at Backbar in 2017 that utilized a touch of dandelion-lemon peel ferment in a circa 3:1 Dry Martini. Using my sauerkraut-derived lactobacillus culture from home, the end result was a success, and it got approval to be on the menu. It appeared as Jo's Draft Gin Martini with a vague description of "Citadelle Gin, Dry Vermouth, Basil & Orange" since I figured that any talk of fermentation or brine might confuse our diners.
As for the brininess quotient, it was present but not overwhelming. Standard olive brine is around 10% salt (one range I saw was 8% for ripe olives up to 14% for less ripe ones), so this was on average around 2.5 fold less salty. Our standard Dirty had with a half ounce of olive brine, so this had 5 times less salt per sip (and 10 times less than a very dirty one). It came across as a savoriness to join the bright and floral orange notes and fresh and herbal basil ones, and the effect was pleasantly noticeable but not overwhelming or shocking to someone expecting a Gin & Dry Vermouth Martini.
Orange-Basil Lactic Ferment Brine
• 150 gram Basil Leaf
• 360 gram Orange, Thinly Sliced (approx 2 Oranges)
• 1100-1200 gram 4% Kosher Salt Saline (Sea Salt will work, but avoid Iodized Salt) (4 grams Salt per 96 grams Water)
• ~1 oz Lactic Brine from a previous ferment
Add basil leaves and orange slices into a large Ball jar. Add in lactic brine from a previous ferment and top with 4% salt solution. Keep botanicals submerged (I used a glass ramekin) and away from air to avoid spoilage, and place jar in a tray to catch overflow. Every few days, tilt the jar to release any trapped CO2 gas bubbles and top up with more saline solution brine. Ferments went on average 10 days (and sometimes as long as 14 days) based on gas bubble generation and appearance of the basil. Strain the liquid through a coffee filter and store in quart containers or jars.