Thursday, March 31, 2011

groovy child

1 1/2 oz Hendrick's Gin
3/4 oz Noilly Prat Dry Vermouth
3/4 oz Lime Juice
2 heaping barspoon Guava Jelly
1 barspoon Simple Syrup

Shake with ice and double strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with 3 juniper berries.

Last Saturday, Andrea and I drove out to Worcester to visit the Higgins Armory. Since Andrea was in the mood to go to a museum and I remembered that Hilary Scott's exhibition there was ending in a few months, it seemed like a good day for a road trip. After looking at a lot of old armor and Hilary's surreal art work, we drove into downtown Worcester for dinner at the Citizen (unrelated to the Citizen in Boston). When we sat down at the bar, bartender Dave Delaney greeted us and remembered meeting me at Tales of the Cocktail last summer. As we looked over the drink menu, we noted that there was a combination of classics like the Martinez and the Boulevardier and a handful of house originals; surprisingly, there were neither vodka drinks nor light beers on the menu (lucky for them, they did have vodka at the bar)! The drink that caught my eye first was the Groovy Child for it called for guava jelly. Beside my enjoyment of marmalade in a recent drink, I was curious for I had only seen guava jelly called for in 19th century punch recipes. Indeed, Dave explained that he got the idea from Jerry Thomas' Barbados Punch. While I spent the whole time drinking the Groovy Child pondering the name, I only later made the connection that it was taken from a line in the Bob Marley song "Guava Jelly."
The juniper berry garnish helped to supplement the aroma of the Groovy Child especially since Hendrick's is a less juniper-forward gin. The lime and guava jelly elegantly paired up to conjure a tropical sip; guava jelly has been described as a less sharp lemon rind flavor, so it worked well with the lime. The lime helped the sip transition into the swallow where these notes lingered to pair up with the gin and dry vermouth. With the drink on the slightly tart side, the Groovy Child was a decent drink to have before our first course arrived.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

standish arms

1/2 William Penn Rye (1 1/2 oz Redemption Rye)
1/4 Italian Vermouth (3/4 oz Vya Sweet Vermouth)
1/4 Grapefruit Juice (3/4 oz)
1 dash Peychaud's Bitters

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

For my second drink on Friday, I found the Standish Arms in Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars: 1903-1933. The recipe reminded me a lot of Jackson Cannon's Honey Fitz that I had at Tales of the Cocktail last summer. Here, the recipe contains rye and sweet vermouth instead of the Honey Fitz's dark aged rum and honey syrup, but the proportions, grapefruit juice, and Peychaud's Bitters are all the same. Moreover, the De Rigueur and Brown Derby #2 are whiskey-based versions of the Honey Fitz sans bitters. Next, I was curious and pondered what the drink could be named after. There was a Standish Arms built in Brooklyn in the Beaux Arts style; the hotel was built in 1903 which puts it in the right time era for the publication. While many famous real and fictional characters (including Clark Kent) stayed in the hotel and apartments there, I could not confirm if there was a restaurant or bar there that would support this idea. Since there could be other Standish Arms as the inspiration, it was time to move on and drink.
The Standish Arms presented itself with a rye aroma spiked with anise notes from the Peychaud's. The sip contained the fruit notes from the grapefruit juice and Vya vermouth's red wine base. Meanwhile, the swallow contained the rye, spice, and a little crispness from the citrus. Indeed, the grapefruit and sweet vermouth paired surprisingly well and each complemented the rye too. Furthermore, the grapefruit and sweet vermouth pairing reminded me of the D.J., a drink created at the Detroit Athletic Club where the Last Word was born (in addition, both the D.J. and the Last Word share a resemblance). Overall, the Standish arms was rather smooth and drinkable yet flavorful enough to keep one's attention to the end of the glass.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


1 1/2 oz Gin (Knockabout)
1/2 oz Campari
1/2 oz Passion Fruit Syrup (Trader Tiki)
1/2 oz Lemon Juice

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

On Friday before dinner, I opened up the Big Bartender's Book and found a rather tempting cocktail created by Jamie Boudreau called the Novara. Jamie based the drink off of Kaiser Penguin's Orange Viola that appeared in Imbibe magazine a few years ago. For a name, Jamie made reference to Novara, Italy, where Campari was created back in 1860.
The Novara began with a lemon and Campari aroma. The sip was a fruity combination of the lemon and passion fruit, and the swallow contained the Campari and gin notes. What was most intriguing was that the components melded into a rather tangerine-like swallow. It was the most interesting modulation of Campari that I had experienced since the Carnivale (a/k/a Pisco Disco); in that drink, the pairing of Campari and Maraschino liqueur tricked me into thinking that the amaro was Aperol instead. Jamie also found the combination in the Novara fascinating and compared it to what he experienced in Paul Harrington's Jasmine.

casper sour

1 1/2 oz Vodka (Vesica)
1/2 oz Simple Syrup (1:1)
1/4 oz Rice Wine Vinegar

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

For Thursday Drink Night on Mixoloseum last week, the theme was "Animosity." The concept was to use an ingredient that you hate or neglect. I first started in my liqueur section and pulled out the dustiest of bottles including Chambord, Parfait Amour, and a few others that get little use. Inspiration still did not hit. I took a step back and considered vodka. Even for Mixology Monday's vodka theme, I chose a robustly flavored drink, the Sputnik, to present. There, the vodka helped to dilute the intensity of Fernet Branca in a Sour-type drink. Joking around with the concept of a less flavored drink, someone on Mixoloseum came up with the name of a "Casper" (the Friendly Ghost) Martini. From there, I toyed with the idea of a minimalist Sour drink.

I first considered making a solution of citric acid powder, but I was unsure of the concentration to use (note: for future reference, lemon and lime juice are 5-6% citric acid or around 1.1 grams per ounce of water) and how I could balance it with simple syrup. Instead, I thought about vinegar. From my experiments and notes on vinegar-based fruit shrubs, I felt comfortable on how to balance the vinegar's acid content (BTW: vinegar is also at a 5% concentration, albeit with a slightly different pKa) with sugar. While plenty of other people have used flavored shrubs and gastriques, what about an unflavored one? Or one that just used a flavorful vinegar alone? I first looked at my apple cider vinegar but it was near the end of the bottle and full of particulates; next to it was a nice bottle of rice wine vinegar and I decided to give it a go.
For a drink name, I harkened back to the Casper idea and dubbed the experiment the Casper Sour. The drink's nose was a lemon oil aroma that meshed well with the hints of the rice wine vinegar. Upon tasting it, I was rather pleased with the savory sweet and sour sip and the dry rice wine swallow. Indeed, for what I was expecting to be a flavorless yet crisp drink had a beautiful light sake sort of effect. While I have never tried or comprehended the allure of a Dirty Vodka Martini, the Casper Sour gave a glimpse at why people might enjoy something like that especially since most olive brines contain vinegar in addition to the salt.

Monday, March 28, 2011

blue parrot

1 oz Batavia Arrack
1 oz El Dorado White Rum
1/2 oz Grand Marnier
1/2 oz Bols Blue Curaçao
1/2 oz Lemon Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a highball glass filled with crushed ice. Top with a ~1/2 oz Henri Bardouin Pastis float, add a straw, and garnish with a wide lemon twist.

On Wednesday last week, I met Andrea at Eastern Standard for dinner. For one of my drinks, bartender Josh Taylor made me the new house original, the Blue Parrot, off of their menu's Tikisms section. I later discovered that there is another Blue Parrot that is rather reminiscent of the Surfer on Acid and contains Captain Morgan's Parrot Bay Coconut Rum, Maui Blue Hawaiian Schnapps, and pineapple juice. Luckily, the only things these two Blue Parrots have in common are rum and blueness. But wait, blue Curaçao at Eastern Standard? When I asked Josh about it, he stated that they had it left over from a post-Valentine's Day event a while back. I was there that night back in 2009 when the theme was 4th of July (in February) and recalled the red, white, and blue drinks (I believe that I tried the red before switching over to beer-and-Fernet-shots in exchange for my drink tickets). Josh was amused when I pointed out that the stock now had over 2 years of dust on it.
I was wary of the drink idea at first, but the base of Batavia Arrack and El Dorado white rum won me over. Essentially, the Eastern Standard Blue Parrot is a rum Sidecar (a/k/a X.Y.Z.) served over crushed ice with a pastis float. The Blue Parrot greeted me with a lemon and anise aroma from the twist and pastis float, respectively. Once I got over the awe of the blueness, I took a sip which contained the citrus notes from lemon juice and orange liqueurs. The swallow though contained the bite of the Batavia Arrack and white rum coupled with the crispness of the lemon juice. Toward the end, I reached the comforting anise-flavored bomb from the float which distracted me from the eerie blue-stained crushed ice in my nearly drained glass.

strange acquaintance

1 1/2 oz Blended Scotch (Famous Grouse)
1 oz Ruby Port (Taylor Fladgate)
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Egg White (1/2 Egg White)
1/4 oz Ginger Syrup (Ginger People)

Shake once without ice and once with. Strain into a Collins glass (highball glass) filled with ice cubes and 1 oz of spicy ginger ale (Natural Brew Outrageous Ginger Ale). Garnish with a lemon twist and a Maraschino cherry (Luxardo).

Last Tuesday, I finally made the Strange Acquaintance from the most recent issue of Imbibe magazine (March/April 2011). The recipe calls for Blenheim Spicy Ginger Ale which I could not find, but I was able to locate Natural Brew's Outrageous Ginger Ale (at Harvest Co-op in Central Square) that sounded like it would make a fair substitution. Natural Brew's product has ginger juice in it in addition to ginger extract (most ginger ale is extract only a/k/a "natural flavors") and thus falls somewhere between regular ginger ale and ginger beer. The drink was created by bartender Wesley Wolf from the Lantern Restaurant in Chapel Hill, NC. While Wesley points to the Japanese Fizz that appears in Dale Degroff's books as his drink inspiration, I was reminded of the classic Chicago and Elk's Own Cocktail. Regardless of which of the three recipes one considers, the addition of ginger syrup and ginger ale takes this drink in a different direction. Once mixed, the Strange Acquaintance began with a lemon, port, and ginger aroma. On the tongue, lemon and port flavors on the sip preceded the ginger and Scotch notes on the swallow. Overall, the Strange Acquaintance could do no wrong.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

:: effect of glass temperature ::

While it is always stressed that chilling glassware is an important step in making great drinks, how important is that to the end result? Moreover, some bars will cool their glassware in freezers while others will chill them with melting ice or ice water. While obviously the freezer is more optimal, how does that difference translate into the final drink temperature? To test that, I devised an experiment to address these questions using a Vodka "Martini" as a standard drink.

• 30 oz Vesica Vodka (80 proof)
• 9 Libbey Martini Glasses
• Freezer
• Cobbler Shaker
• Fine Strainer
• OXO Measuring Cup
• Ice from Tovolo Trays from Freezer
• Digital Thermometer with Thermocouple (-58°F to 2372°F, ±0.1°F)
• Timer Application on Droid Phone
• Digital Scale

• Measure room temperature and freezer temperature.
• Chill 3 glasses in freezer for over 90 minutes.
• Chill 3 glasses with ice cubes with some water.
• Measure temperature of ice water before use.
• Keep 3 glasses at room temperature.
• Add 3 oz vodka and 4 ice cubes to cobbler shaker. Shake 30 seconds.
• Double strain to remove ice shards.
• Measure temperature every 30 seconds for 5 minutes while gently stirring with temperature probe.
• Ice water dumped 15 seconds before straining. Glasses removed from freezer 15 seconds before straining.
• Do a round of shaking to measure initial temperature before straining.
• Yes, I shook a Vodka "Martini" but it is a quicker technique than stirring and is a consistent method. Moreover, taste and texture of the drink were unimportant here.
• Different glass sizes and shapes will affect the end result. Here, the 9 glasses are comparable to each other, but not to other glasses.
• Ice temperature (from freezer or wet ice) will affect results.
• Room temperature will affect results.
• Different drink compositions will change the amount of alcohol, sugar, and other solutes in the drink and may effect temperatures.
• My thermometer was never calibrated.
• Initial temperature (t=0) was only measured once as a separate experiment. Performing it for each run would have disrupted the experiment. This data point is only there as rough estimate for each trial's initial time point.
• Glasses were not handled or drank from (which would otherwise normally happen).

• Average Glass Weight: 237.4 grams (range 231.1-244.3 grams)
• Room Temperature: 59.1°F
• Freezer Temperature: 13.1°F
• Ice Water Temperature: 33.6°F
• Vodka (shaken for 30 seconds) Temperature: 24.9°F

• Data presented as average of triplicate runs:
Average Temperature (30-300 seconds):
• Room Temperature Glass: 31.0°F
• Ice Water Chilled Glass: 29.1°F
• Freezer Chilled Glass: 26.6°F

Differences in Average Temperature (30-300 seconds):
• Room Temp - Ice Water: 1.9°F
• Room Temp - Freezer: 4.4°F
• Ice Water - Freezer: 2.5°F

Differences in Temperature at 30 & 60 seconds:
• Room Temp - Ice Water: 1.2 & 1.7°F
• Room Temp - Freezer: 2.7 & 3.8°F
• Ice Water - Freezer: 1.6 & 2.1°F

Initial temperature of the glassware before straining does effect the temperature of the drink. The freezer-chilled glassware provided the coldest drinking experience but only provided a drink that was 2.5°F colder than an ice water-chilled glass in this experiment. The freezer-chilled and ice water-chilled glassware were better than unchilled glassware by 4.4°F and 1.9°F, respectively, over the time course. The differences, however, were not as great in magnitude when the first sip might be taken (somewhere between 30-60 seconds after straining).

Choice of glassware would matter greatly. In a cocktail glass, the stem and base do not play a large role, whereas in a rocks glass, the thick base would act as a large heat sink. Moreover, freezers will chill the whole glass whereas ice water will mainly chill the cocktail glass' bowl. Future experiments could address these difference such as by measuring the temperature time courses of coupes and rocks glasses as well as different styles of cocktail glasses.

So what does a 1, 2, or 4 degree difference mean to the perception of a drink? Obviously, this will vary by drink composition and some drinks will be only slightly less pleasant to drink warmer whereas others' balance will begin to crumble. Over the 5 minute time course, an unmolested drink changed about 3 degrees in this experiment. Perhaps making the same drink twice, strained 5 minutes apart and sampled simultaneously, would help to answer that.
Be sure to read the other experiments:
• Part 2: Kinetics of Glass Cooling
• Part 3: Effects of Glass Thickness on Drink Temperature

Friday, March 25, 2011

emily shaw's special

1/2 Brandy (1 1/2 oz Martel VS Cognac)
1/4 Lemon Juice (3/4 oz)
1/8 Cointreau (3/8 oz)
1/8 Sweet Vermouth (3/8 oz Vya)

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. I added a lemon twist.
For my second drink on Monday night, I opened up Ted Saucier's Bottoms Up and was lured in by the Emily Shaw's Special. The drink was credited to Emily Shaw's Inn in Pound Ridge, New York; though the recipe was published in 1951, the Westchester establishment was still open up until last year. What drew me to the Emily Shaw's Special was how it was a variation of a Sidecar with some of the sweetness coming from Italian vermouth instead of solely from orange liqueur. While the Vya sweet vermouth donated additional flavors and aromas, what was most intriguing was how reducing the orange to lemon quotient affected the flavor balance. While the classic Sidecar recipe is an equal part orange liqueur to lemon juice ratio, many recent recipes have a sweeter 2:1 ratio that stresses the orange flavors more than the lemon. Here, the orange to lemon ratio was skewed in the other direction and it really changed the perception of this drink; it made me notice how the Sidecar is more of an orange-driven drink than I first appreciated and how pushing the lemon notes forward altered the drink greatly. Indeed, I found the experience worthwhile especially as an extension of thinking about the history of the Sidecar including the Crusta as its precursor.

coffey park swizzle

1 oz Barbancourt 4 Year Rum (Old Monk)
1 oz Amontillado Sherry (Lustau)
1/4 oz Velvet Falernum
3/4 oz Ginger Syrup (Ginger People)
3/4 oz Lime Juice

Swizzle in a highball glass filled with crushed ice. Add a straw and garnish with 3 dashes of Angostura Bitters on top of the drink. A photo of the drink elsewhere shows a mint sprig garnish as well (see text) and I used a lime twist instead.

On Monday, I opened up the Big Bartender's Book and found a recipe by Alexander Day of Death & Company in Manhattan. The drink was a swizzle named after Coffey Park in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn, and the combination of lime, ginger, and fortified wine reminded me of the Port of Funchal and G.M. Gurton's Punch. The Coffey Park Swizzle called for Barbancourt 3 Star Rum; since I lacked it, I decided to give my dusty bottle of Old Monk Rum some love. While it is a darker, richer rum, I felt that it would fit in fine as well as donate some interesting vanilla notes to the drink. Lastly, the StarChefs website has a photo of the drink and shows a mint sprig in addition to the Angostura Bitters float as a garnish. Since it is not mint season here yet, I subbed in a lime twist for extra aromatics.
The Coffey Park Swizzle possessed a lime and Angostura Bitters aroma that had a pleasing vanilla note from the Old Monk Rum. The dark rum presented itself again in the sip where it joined the lime flavor; moreover, the swallow was rich with ginger and clove notes as well as the sherry's nuttiness. Indeed, I was quite pleased with how well the dark rum and the Amontillado sherry paired up. Finally, the drink ended with the last few sips containing the clove and spice bomb from the Angostura Bitters similar to the Bitter End.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


2 oz John Powers Irish Whiskey
1 oz Lillet Blanc
1 bsp Combier Triple Sec
2 dash Fee's Orange Bitters

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

For my second drink at Green Street on Sunday night, I asked bartender Derric Crothers to make me the Weeski. The recipe, which lurks in their recipe book (a larger resource than the A-to-Z list), was created by David Wondrich and published in his 2005 Killer Cocktails book. Wondrich improvised the drink when he was entertaining and wanted to make Manhattans for his guests. Using what was left in the liquor cabinet at the time, the Weeski was born. While St. Patrick's Day was on Thursday a few days before, most of Boston actually celebrates it on Sunday especially with the parade in South Boston (even the Star Wars costumer legion marches). Therefore, it felt apropos to order the Weeski and it made for a good bookend with the Irish Wolfhound I had on Thursday.
The lemon twist dominated the Weeski's aroma and dwarfed the Irish whiskey notes. On the tongue, the sip was a mix of citrus notes and the whiskey's malt, and the swallow was a combination of the whiskey and orange flavors. Overall, the Weeski was a very light and easy to drink Manhattan variation, and the Lillet, triple sec, and bitters had the right potency to balance the often overwhelmed Irish whiskey.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


1 1/2 oz Vodka Beefeater Gin
1/2 oz Rothman & Winter Apricot Liqueur
1/2 oz Triple Sec
1/2 oz Lime Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lime wheel.

On Sunday night, Andrea and I went over to Green Street for dinner. For my first drink, I decided to continue my "vodka drinks that could be improved with gin" quest after a good experience with the Beacon Fix the week before (and the Parisian Orchid from a year ago), and I ordered the Aqueduct from bartender Derric Crothers. What intrigued me the most about the drink was how it was essentially a vodka-now-gin version of the rum-based Periodista. In searching for a history on the drink, I found one source that called for blue Curaçao and commented that the color can remind people of water and hence the name. I wondered if an older equestrian naming convention could be in play like with the Suburban, and perhaps the drink refers to the Aqueduct Race Track in Queens, New York. I took that guess one step further and discovered a post about horse racing drinks from the Museum of the American Cocktail blog that confirms that (except their version lacks apricot-flavored brandy). Yes, a horse racing drink that lacks Bourbon.
The Aqueduct started with a lime and gin aroma. Flavorwise, the sip was full of citrus notes from the lime and orange liqueur, while the swallow was apricot liqueur balanced by the lime's crispness and punctuated by the gin's botanicals. As the drink warmed up, the apricot appeared on the nose and became more aggressive on the swallow. Despite the recipe similarities, the drink was very different from a Periodista due to the way lime and gin interacted; moreover, the apricot seemed to be pushed back a bit and the balance was a bit drier than I recall the Periodista being. I am not sure, however, whether these modulations would occur the same in the original vodka version of the Aqueduct.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

irish wolfhound

1 1/2 oz Irish Whiskey (Knappogue Castle 1995)
1/2 oz Grapefruit Juice
1/4 oz Lemon Juice
1/4 oz Maraschino Liqueur
3 drop Rosewater (Mustapha's)

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a candied grapefruit peel (omitted; I garnished with an additional drop of rosewater).

Last Thursday was St. Patrick's Day, and instead of joining the throngs of people to celebrate, I stayed in and fixed an Irish whiskey cocktail I had been eying for a while. The drink was the Irish Wolfhound that was created by Josey Packard and later published in LUPEC Boston's Little Black Book of Cocktails. With the combination of grapefruit juice and Maraschino liqueur, like in the Weekly Special and Seventh Heaven, I knew that drink could not fail.
The rosewater paid off in the nose where it joined the grapefruit and Irish whiskey aromas. While the sip was a slightly tart grapefruit flavor, the swallow was rather gentle with a light Irish whiskey taste accented by hints of Maraschino. Of all the combinations, I was surprised at how complementary of flavors the grapefruit juice and Irish whiskey were. Moreover, I was impressed at how mellow and smooth the Irish Wolfhound was especially for a whiskey drink.

bamboo crusta

1 oz Dry Sherry (Lustau Amontillado)
1 oz Dry Vermouth (Noilly Prat)
1/4 oz Triple Sec (Cointreau)
1/4 oz Maraschino Liqueur (Luxardo)
1/4 oz Lemon Juice
1 dash Orange Bitters (Angostura Orange)
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Shake with ice and strain into a small wineglass with a sugar-coated rim. Garnish with a wide lemon peel looped around the inside of the glass' opening.

Last Thursday, I started brainstorming for a recipe for Mixoloseum's Thursday Drink Night. Although technical difficulties got in the way, I still created my drink. My concept was to create a hybrid of two older drinks -- the Crusta from New Orleans in 1852 and the Bamboo Cocktail created in Yokohama, Japan, during the early 1890s. The Bamboo Cocktail is one of our favorite aperitif cocktails and giving it a new feel by enacting an old treatment was my goal.
The Bamboo Crusta began with a nutty and lemon oil aroma. The sip presented a semi-dry orange flavor that was followed by sherry and Maraschino notes on the swallow. Overall, the drink was really light and smooth yet flavorful. Indeed, the recipe hybrid elevated the classic Bamboo Cocktail to a different level by adding some additional flavor complexity while still retaining a good amount of its aperitif charm.

Monday, March 21, 2011

meanswell punch

1 oz Black Tea-infused Pisco (*)
1/2 oz Hayman's Old Tom Gin
1/4 oz Pimm's No. 1
3/4 oz Pineapple Syrup
3/8 oz Lemon Juice
3/8 oz Lime Juice
1 dash Angostura Bitters
1 dash Bittermens Boston Bittahs

Shake with ice and strain into a coupe glass. Top with around 2 oz of sparkling wine.
(*) While I did not inquire about how they did this infusion, Audrey Saunder's recipe for Earl Grey-infused gin might provide some guidance. Although the pisco was rather dark so it could be more than that.

Last Wednesday, Andrea and I paid a visit to Craigie on Main. One of the drinks bartender Ted Gallager made for me was the Meanswell Punch. The recipe was created when Ted and Paul Manzelli (now of Bergamot) were fiddling with the classic Pisco Punch recipe. The variation they came up with was named after Ted's nickname for Paul which was a play on Paul's last name.
The Meanswell Punch greeted my nose with an aroma of sweet fruit. The sip was light with carbonation; at first the fruity flavor was not very identifiable, but as the drink warmed up, lemon, lime, and pineapple flavors became discernible. Next, the swallow had the sparkling wine's flavor and ended with woody, dry notes from the tea's tannins. The grape taste and carbonation of the sparkling wine definitely took the drink in a different direction from the original.

beacon fix

1 1/2 oz Reyka Vodka Beefeater Gin
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Luxardo Triplum Orange Liqueur
1/2 oz Rooibus-Bergamot Syrup

Shake with ice and double strain into a cocktail glass.

After paying a visit to Trina's Starlite Lounge two Sundays ago, we went up Beacon Street to Bergamot. There, the geographically named Beacon Fix tempted me, but instead of Reyka, I requested that the drink be made with one of my favorite flavored vodkas, Beefeater Gin. Beside my appreciation for Fixes, I was drawn in by the Rooibus-bergamot syrup. At first I figured it was a combination of Earl Grey and an herbal tea, but I discovered that local MEM Tea Imports makes an herbal Earl Grey that is Rooibus leaves scented with bergamot citrus oils.
Unlike the other Fixes, this one was served in a modern fashion in a cocktail glass instead of in a rocks glass with crushed ice and decorated with berries in season. The drink's aroma was rather herbal and almost floral from the Rooibus mingling with the gin. Upon tasting it, the sip was a sweet citrus that came across almost as a grapefruit flavor that was highlighted by bergamot and Rooibus notes. Meanwhile, the swallow contained the lemon's crispness coupled with the gin's botanicals. While I understand the bar's need for a vodka drink or two on the menu, the Beacon Fix gained a wonderful level of complexity and complementary citrus flavors from the spirit swap to gin.

Postnote 10/18/2011: I learned last night that bartender Kai Gagnon named the drink after a methadone clinic about a mile down the road on Beacon Street which is why the drink is served up like a cocktail and not on crushed ice like a Fix proper.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

word to your mom

1/2 oz Bols Genever
1/2 oz Yellow Chartreuse
1/2 oz Maraschino Liqueur
1/2 oz Lemon Juice

Shake with ice and pour into a rocks glass. Top with 1-1 1/2 oz Pretty Things Jack D'Or beer, garnish with a cherry, and add straws.

Last Sunday night, Andrea and I decided to go to take a small tour of Somerville by visiting Trina's Starlite Lounge followed by Bergamot. The drink I asked bartender Emma Hollander to make me at Trina's was their play on the Last Word, namely the Word to Your Mom. Like the Latest Word variation at Craigie on Main, this one called for Bols Genever as the liquor component. And similar to the Final Word and the Eulogy, this version used lemon instead of lime and yellow instead of green Chartreuse, respectively. Moreover, the combination of Bols Genever and lemon juice did remind me of their Shaddock. The major twist that was added was a float of Pretty Things' Jack D'Or, a citrussy and spicy American Saison-style beer brewed here in Massachusetts. While I did not ask Emma for the back story on the drink, the City's Best website posted an interview a few days later with two of the owners of Trina's about the exegesis of this drink. I was slightly surprised that the drink was not created by Emma given her knack for catchy drink names like the One-Armed French Hooker.
The Word to Your Mom started with an aroma of lemon, yellow Chartreuse, and hops. The sip proved to be malty from the combination of Bols Genever and the beer and to be quite textural on the tongue from the beer's carbonation. Next, the swallow contained the lemon's crispness followed by the yellow Chartreuse and Maraschino notes on the finish. Of all the flavors, it was the malt and the Maraschino that really stood out the most, but it was the Saison-style beer and the Maraschino's funkiness that complemented each other the best. Overall, the drink was a little on the sweet side for me but the melting ice did help to alter the balance over time.

Friday, March 18, 2011

vowel cocktail

1/3 Blended Scotch (1 oz Famous Grouse)
1/3 Sweet Vermouth (1 oz Vya)
1/6 Orange Juice (1/2 oz)
1/6 Kümmel (1/2 oz Helbing)
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. I added an orange twist.
Last Saturday, I spotted the Vowel Cocktail in Harry MacElhone's Barflies and Cocktails. The Vowel's combination of orange juice and kümmel made me think of the tasty Lupe Velez and the Kingston Heights and lured me in. Once mixed, the Vowel Cocktail greeted me with an orange aroma from the juice and twist, grape from the Vya vermouth, and malt notes from the Scotch. Upon sampling the drink, the fruit notes of orange and vermouth appeared on the sip, and the Scotch, kümmel's caraway, and the Angostura's spice rounded out the drink on the swallow. With the full flavored vermouth along with the Scotch and orange juice, the Vowel Cocktail reminded me of a cherryless and spicier Blood & Sand.

united service punch

1 1/4 quart Hot, Strong Tea (5 oz Oolong)
1 pound Sugar (2 oz)
6 Lemons, Juiced (3/4 Lemon, 1 1/2 oz Juice)
1 pint Arrack (2 oz Batavia Arrack)
1 pint Port (2 oz Sandeman Tawny)

Rub off peels of lemons on loaf sugar (instead I made an oleo saccharum with 3/4 of a lemon peel in the sugar). Warm up and serve. The scaled down recipe makes 2 servings instead of 16.

Last Friday, with the end of Hot Toddy season in sight, I decided to make the United Service Punch from William Schmidt's The Flowing Bowl. I preferred that recipe to a similar one in Jerry Thomas' Bon Vivant's Companion for the latter one lacked the extra flavors from the port. What Thomas' recipe did include was lemon oil, so I borrowed that and merged it with the rest of Schmidt's recipe. David Wondrich in Punch provided a history that the recipe was created at London's United Service Club that was formed in 1816 after the Napoleonic and Revolutionary wars were over. The club was created to bring officers of the British army and navy together where they bonded over bowls of punch such as this one.
The punch's steamy aroma presented bright lemon notes from the oleo saccharum and juice and boozy heat and funkiness from the Batavia Arrack. The lemon continued on in the flavor where it mingled with the port in the sip and with the tea and Batavia Arrack on the swallow. The balance ended up a little on the tart and tannic side but overall, it was quite drinkable. Perhaps, I should have used less lemon juice to mimic the smaller size of 19th century citrus fruits, but often old punch recipes end up on the sweet side, so I did not take that into consideration on the first pass.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

la fiscus verte

3 Mission Figs, halved (2 Figs)
1 tsp Lemon Juice
1 dash Tahitian Vanilla Bean Syrup (1 tsp Trader Tiki)
1 slice Valencia Orange
3 oz Cachaça (2 oz Cuca Fresca)
1 splash Absinthe Verte (1/8 oz La Muse Verte)

Muddle figs, lemon juice, vanilla syrup, and orange slice. Add rest of ingredients and ice, shake, and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with 3 dashes of bitters (20 drops Angostura Bitters) and an orange slice (orange twist). The photo in the book showed a lot of seeds so I did not fine strain but used a Julep strainer as my secondary one to catch any larger bits that passed through the Hawthorn strainer; I also scaled down the drink slightly.

One of the recipes I spotted in A Taste for Absinthe caught my eye for it used muddled figs. La Fiscus Verte, named after the Greek word for figs combined with an absinthe/green fairy reference, was a bit different for me as it was more of a culinary cocktail and less of a classic style. Indeed, the creator, Paul Scandura of the Martini House in Napa Valley, got his formal education at the Culinary Institute of America, so the style falls into place. My love of figs allowed me to overcome this hurdle, and the cachaça helped to erase any residual pangs of guilt later. Well, I guess I also succumb to this style when it involves cucumber, such as in the Fin du Saison and the Elisabeth Aplegate, but this was my first figgy cocktail.
La Fiscus Verte started with an orange oil aroma coupled with Angostura Bitters notes. The cachaça's grassiness came across on the sip along with the orange juice. Meanwhile, the cachaça's funkiness appeared on the swallow which blended well with the absinthe and hints of vanilla. Strangely, the fig appeared on the sip less as a flavor but more as an intriguing full mouthfeel sensation.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

carver flip

2 oz Cruzan Aged Rum
1/2 oz Orange Curaçao
1 Egg Yolk
1 cube Demerara Sugar

Muddle the sugar cube with some water until it is dissolved. Add rest of the ingredients and ice, shake, and double strain into a cocktail coupe. Garnish with peanut butter powder (see text).

The first drink I was drawn to at Stoddard's last Wednesday night was the Carver Flip. It seemed more like a night closer than a first drink, so I put it off until after the Scarlet Monk. The Carver Flip is a rum-based egg yolk drink that reminded me a lot of the mystical Peanut Malt Flip, so I was definitely curious. Unlike the Peanut Malt Flip that is shaken with a teaspoon of peanut butter, the Carver Flip was garnished with peanut butter powder. Bar manager Eric Cross collaborated with Stoddard's kitchen to create the garnish. The peanut butter was mixed with tapioca maltodextrin, a modified food starch that stabilizes fatty compounds, and the pair was dessicated in a roto-vap into a fine powder. For a name, Eric made reference to George Washington Carver who promoted the use of legumes like peanuts to revitalize the soil for improving cotton yields. Moreover, Carver developed a wide number of applications for peanuts and is best known for promoting peanut butter (although you would have to attribute its discovery to the Aztecs a few centuries before).
The peanut butter powder garnish donated greatly to the aroma. The rich aged rum flavors on the sip were smoothed out by the egg yolk, while the swallow contained the rum's heat and molasses note that co-mingled with the Curaçao's orange flavor. Unlike in the Peanut Malt Flip where the peanut flavor was from the beginning, here, the peanut butter integrated into the drink's taste over time. Once it did, it worked rather well with the rum's heat on the swallow.

scarlet monk

1 oz Hibiscus-infused Gin
1 oz Lillet Blanc
1 oz Sweet Vermouth
1 oz Orange Juice

Shake with ice and double strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a candied orange wheel.

Last Wednesday, I met Andrea down at Stoddard's Fine Food & Ale. We had not been there since the Pernod Absinthe Bar Crawl last June, and this would be our first time sitting at the bar itself instead of at a table during an event. While last time we did not have a chance to see the menu, I was quite impressed at the number of classics -- around 18, each with the year they were first published -- along with a few of their originals and a couple of modern ones like the Red Hook. For my first drink, I asked bartender Nate to make me one of their originals, the Scarlet Monk. The drink was created by bar manager Eric Cross; although Nate could not recall which drink Eric had based the Scarlet Monk off of, it reminded me more of a Bronx than an Abbey Cocktail.
The Scarlet Monk was indeed a vibrant red hue like the name suggested. With the candied orange wheel garnish, orange juice, and tea elements, I was reminded of Chantal Tseng's Mortal Sunset. Beside the color, the hibiscus infusion donated a sweet, floral aroma. The sip was a light citrus flavor coupled with with grape-like notes, and this was chased by orange juice followed by sweet vermouth on the swallow and by herbal notes on the finish. I was quite impressed at how well the hibiscus worked with the orange juice, complemented the sweet vermouth, and tied the drink together.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

national rifle cup

1 bottle Claret (6 oz Porta dos Cavaleiros Dão 2007)
1/2 peel of Lemon Cut Thin (1/8th)
a few slices Lemon
1 wineglass Brandy (1/2 oz Pedro Domecq Fundador Solera Reserva)
1 wineglass Curaçao (1/2 oz Senior Curaçao)
1 tbsp Sugar (1 tsp)
a few sprigs Borage or rind of a small Cucumber (sadly, omitted)
1 syphon bottle Lemonade (6 oz Rieme Pink Grapefruit Sparkling Limonade)

Mix up all ingredients save for the ice and sparkling lemonade. The recipe does not mention any steeping, but I let it sit for an hour to acquire flavors from the lemon peel and slices (as well as the borage/cucumber had I added them). Add ice and lemonade before serving.

The other drink we had on Tuesday was from the 1871 Gentleman's Table Guide, namely the National Rifle Cup. I was curious about the drink for it appeared like a British version of Sangria. I later regretted not holding off on making this recipe until I had a cucumber peel especially when I remembered how much flavor it donated to the Tea Julep. But alas, I was more focused on finishing off this bottle of wine.
The National Rifle Cup did have a rather Sangria-like aroma. A combination of citrus and carbonation greeted my tongue on the sip with the sweetened wine flavors dominating on the swallow. I was impressed at how well the sparkling pink grapefruit limonade complemented the red wine, and it along with the Curaçao and sugar helped to soften the wine's tannic bite. Finally, Andrea commented that she was surprised at how girly of a drink this seemed like given the National Rifle Cup as its name.

berkeley hotel cocktail

3/4 oz Gin (North Shore #6)
3/4 oz Dry Vermouth (Noilly Prat)
3/4 oz Strega

Stir with ice and strain into a small cocktail glass.

Last Tuesday, I received my copy of the Big Bartender's Book from Cocktail Kingdom. The book is a collection of recipes hand selected by book collectors Greg Boehm and Jeff Masson. One of the great things about the book, beside their taste in drinks, is that they provide a historical reference to who created the recipe and where the recipe was found. Moreover, beside all of the old recipes, there is a good number of modern creations to round out the collection. In addition, the index at the end organizes recipes by their ingredients which was helpful in finding a good use for our new bottle of Strega. The book was a great deal at $9.95 although I needed to order another Yarai mixing glass to soften the blow of the shipping cost.
For a drink, I chose the Berkeley Hotel Cocktail that was originally published in a 1930s Booth's Gin anthology of recipes. As an equal parts recipe with gin, vermouth, and liqueur, it reminded me of a Negroni so I felt it was a great way to be reacquainted with Strega after having tasted it two years ago in Evan Harrison's Nonantum. The drink's nose was full of aromas from the Strega and gin. While the sip was rather subtle with a hint of spice, the swallow was very herbal and contained rosemary, star anise, and mint flavors. Perhaps the drink ended up a little too Strega-heavy but this did not detract from my enjoyment of it. Strangely, I had always thought that Strega and Yellow Chartreuse were rather similar, but upon tasting it straight and in the drink, Strega reminded me more of the reformulated Galliano. Lastly, Andrea commented how unusually flavored the Strega-laden drink was and added how this drink would make a great digestif.

Monday, March 14, 2011


1 oz Gin (Death's Door)
1 oz Dry Vermouth (Noilly Prat)
1/2 oz Drambuie
2 dash Angostura Bitters

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

Last Monday night, I was in the mood for a nightcap, so I opened up the Cocktail Collective book and found the Supernova. The drink was created by Anu Apte of Rob Roy in Seattle, Washington and takes the basic equal parts Martini and adds sweetness and spice from Drambuie and Angostura Bitters. I was eager to give this recipe a try, for while gin and Drambuie do not seem like a natural pairing, they did work rather well together in the Queen's Smile.
The Supernova's aroma was a combination of lemon oil and the Drambuie. Flavorwise, the Drambuie contributed greatly on the sip which was a slightly sweet honey flavor, and it donated a tangy flavor on the somewhat drier swallow when it paired with the French vermouth. The rest of the swallow consisted of the gin's juniper note combined with a medley of other botanical flavors; moreover, the spice notes from the Angostura and perhaps some from the gin lingered on in the aftertaste. One of the most interesting contributions from the Drambuie was the barrel notes from the liqueur's Scotch base. These barrel-aged whiskey flavors when merged with the Death's Door Gin reminded me a lot of Ransom's Old Tom Gin. Moreover, if I were to compare the Supernova to something I have had before, perhaps it would be the Automobile given the gin, Scotch, and vermouth elements.

[little otik]

2 oz Ransom Old Tom Gin
1/2 oz Becherovka
1/2 oz Cocchi Americano
1 dash Orange Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a rocks glass. Twist a lemon peel over the top.

After hearing that Alex Homans, one of the bartenders at Russell House Tavern, left to take over as the bar program at Temple Bar in Cambridge, Andrea and I have been meaning to go pay Alex a visit. Two Sundays ago, we finally stopped in for dinner and drinks. While Alex has been adjusting to the new bar and position, he has not had a lot of chance to rework the menu, but he did have an idea for my first drink. Alex paired up the spicy barrel-aged Ranson Old Tom Gin with the Czech herbal liqueur Becherovka; to balance these elements, he filled in the gaps with citrus notes from Cocchi Americano, orange bitters, and a lemon twist.
The citrus elements were rather strong in the early parts of the drink including the lemony aroma and the light citrusy sip from the Cocchi Americano. The swallow though displayed the spicy and herbal elements of the Old Tom and the Becherovka that were capped off with an orange note from the bitters at the end. Indeed, I was impressed at how well the two spicy spirits complemented each other in the drink.
For my second beverage, I was tempted to try either the barrel-aged Negroni or Cherry Valance cocktails, but I took Alex's recommendation to sample the Chatham Artillery Punch. The recipe was a hybrid of two historical ones that the previous bar manager had found and merged. The green tea, lemon and orange juice, and other fruit notes did a rather good job hiding the potency of the rum, brandy, rye whiskey, and sparkling wines in the mix.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

cachaça de coco

Back in September, I wrote about starting a project based off of a recipe in Charles H. Baker, Jr.'s The South American Gentleman's Companion. The Coquiña or Cachaça de Coco was a recipe Baker discovered in Brazil for the aging of sugar cane spirits inside coconuts for 6-12 months. On the original post, Tony Harion commented that this practice still occurs in Brazil and that they usually age their spirits for a lot shorter periods of time there. For the project, I purchased three coconuts and filled two with Seleta Cachaça and one with J. Wray & Nephew Rum. The holes that I made with a half inch drill bit were plugged with wooden pegs whittled to size. Baker recommended burying the coconuts, but I left them in the corner of the kitchen counter instead.

Baker gave only a small hint of what to expect. Just that it would add a ruddy amber color and a "most unusual and pleasant taste" and that the spirit should be drank neat from a small glass. My patience ended after 5 1/2 months when I decided to open up my coconuts last weekend.
The Seleta Cachaça (glass on the right) was the clear winner of the two. This spirit smelled like roasted coconut, had a dry coconut water-like sip and a coconut flesh-like swallow. The J. Wray & Nephew (glass on the left) still retained a good amount of its rough character so it was a little less enjoyable to sip neat. Indeed, the rum contained a hint of fusel oils and a less roasted coconut aroma than the cachaça had. Moreover, it was a bit rougher on the sip and contained more funk on the swallow, but it had many of the flavor characteristics that the cachaça gained. While the cachaça was fine to sip neat, perhaps the J. Wray would have been better mixed.

Overall, the spirits were much smoother due to the aging. However, there was a lot less burn as either the alcohol evaporated faster than the water or the coconut really took the edge off. While the latter was very possible, the former was more likely. The Angel's Share from this experiment was pretty grand and I was afraid in a few more months that the coconuts would be bone dry. Perhaps Baker's advice to bury the coconuts was sound. At first, I figured that burying them would make them out of sight, out of mind so that they had a chance to age without being drained prematurely. In retrospect, damp soil would make for better cellaring conditions than indoors during a long, dry winter. The Two Sheets in the Wind blog was influenced by my initial post and embarked on their own aging experiments. They intelligently wrapped their coconuts in Saran wrap to prevent the spirits from evaporating as well as their corks from drying out. No word yet on their experiment since their entry made it sound like they were shooting for a year's worth of aging.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

smoking ban bitters

A little over two years ago, I received a cigar as a gift from a friend who was clearing out his humidor as he improved his stock. Since it was winter and I was not going to smoke it indoors or out, I stashed it away. A few months later, I was in the midst of oak aging my Abbott's Bitters, and I decided that cigar bitters sounded rather alluring especially after reading about a recipe Tiare had done on her A Mountain of Crushed Ice blog.My goal was to make an aromatic bitters that would work great in anything Abbott's or even Angostura does but particularly dark spirits drinks like rye, Cognac, and aged rum. Since I had a lot of new botanicals from the Abbott's Bitters recipe and it would be months before that batch was ready, I took influence from it, Boker's Bitters, and a few thoughts in my head of what would pair well. Like most of my bitters recipes, I started with 6-8 tester infusions containing the base flavor (cigar tobacco) and 3-5 other ingredients in one ounce of spirit to see how they paired up. By combining the best of the taster infusion recipes and scaling up in weight (and sometimes modifying a tester's ingredients), I made my first pass. The tobacco flavors were so powerful in a beautiful murky and earthy way that I had to keep upping certain flavors so they did not get drowned out. Last summer, I repeated the recipe using all the initial and additional weights this time from the start, and the recipe worked as wonderfully as it had a year and a half before.

When I mentioned online that I had been developing these bitters, I received a stern warning about the toxicity of tobacco infusions. Therefore, I did the math (* see below) and the bitters appear to be safe as nonpotable bitters used dash-wise -- just not for use in large quantities like Angostura and Peychaud's have. If you have any concerns over the use of tobacco or nicotine, please do not make these bitters, use them, or serve them to others. In fact, do not make them at all -- I am just providing the recipe for historical record like others provide Jerry Thomas' Decanter Bitters recipe (has snakeroot which is not too good for you either). Remember: nicotine is bad, bad stuff.

For a name, I thought about how bars around here used to be smoke filled dens of iniquity. After the smoking ban went into effect, it almost felt like something was missing. The bitters were named in tribute to the olden days.
Smoking Ban Bitters
• 12.0 gram Cigar Tobacco
• 5.6 gram Wild Cherry Bark
• 1.2 gram Catechu (Betel Nut, found at Indian groceries or online)
• 1.2 gram Calamus Root
• 1.2 gram Quassia Bark
• 2.0 gram Allspice (~11 berries)
• 2.4 gram Spearmint, dry
• 6 Tahitian Vanilla Bean
• 0.9 gram Clove (10 cloves)
• 4 tsp Vanilla Extract (Bourbon)
• 1 tsp Bay Essential Oil (Pimenta Racemosa)
• 24 oz Whiskey, 100 Proof
Break up larger botanicals into small bits (crack allspice berries, chop up vanilla beans and catechu, etc.). Infuse for 7-10 days. Strain through a coarse strainer, and filter through coffee filters or similar. Bottle. Flavor seems shelf stable for well over a year.
(*) Nicotine Content of Bitters
• Infusion: 12 grams of cigar tobacco, 24 oz spirit (100 proof)
• Cigar Tobacco: <1.5% nicotine by dry weight, generally lower 1
• <7.5 mg nicotine per oz bitters (assuming a theoretical 100% extraction, that the cigar was 100% dry, and highest nicotine content of the range in cigar tobacco)
• 0.5-1.0 mg nicotine/kg body weight can be a lethal dosage for non-smoking adult humans [2, 3]
• 150 lb (68.2 kg) adult = 34.1-68.2 mg nicotine
• At the highest theoretical amount of nicotine extraction using this recipe (7.5 mg nicotine/oz) and the lowest toxicity (34.1 mg), a person of 150 pounds or more would need to drink over 3 shots (4.55 oz).
• Therefore, this recipe should be used dash-wise only and kept away from any human that should not be drinking alcohol or ingesting nicotine in the first place (like children, elderly, pregnant). And no use of these nonpotable bitters as potable ones should ever be attempted regardless of what has been with Angostura or Peychaud's.
Repeat: Do not use tobacco infusions as you would normal potable spirits like whiskey, vodka, or gin.

Postnote 3/24/11: At the highest theoretical level, 1/8th oz of the bitters (several dashes) would still be less than the average amount of nicotine inhaled in a cigarette (around 1 mg).

Friday, March 11, 2011

iuka's grogg

3/4 oz Dark Jamaica Rum (Coruba)
3/4 oz Demerara Rum (Lemon Hart 80)
3/4 oz Lime Juice
3/4 oz Pineapple Juice
1/2 oz Passion Fruit Syrup (Trader Tiki)

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

Beside National Absinthe Day, last Saturday was also Beach Bum Berry's birthday, so while sipping on the L'Arc de Triomphe, I started flipping through his Remixed book for a drink to honor him. There, I spotted the Iuka's Grogg which was one of the newer drinks in the book; it was created by the Maikai Gents to toast their 2005 CD release. With a few modifications from a classic Navy Grog, the recipe looked like it could not fail.
The Iuka's Grogg began with a caramel-like dark rum aroma. On the sip, the fruit ingredients were in forefront as a crisp lime, pineapple, and passion fruit medley. These flavors were chased by dark rum notes on the swallow along with some residual lime flavor at the end. Of all the flavor combinations, it was the pineapple and dark rum pairing that worked the best here.

l'arc de triomphe

1 oz Absinthe (Pernod Fils)
1 oz Orange Juice
1 oz Lemon Juice
1 oz Bitter Orange Marmalade
3/4 oz Egg White (1 Egg White)
1 dash Peychaud's Bitters

Shake ingredients with a balled-up Hawthorn strainer spring until frothy. Remove spring, add ice, and shake. Pour 1 oz seltzer water into a footed beer glass or wine glass. Strain drink into the glass; garnish with 2 dashes Peychaud's Bitters and an orange twist.

Last Saturday happened to be two drinking holidays, National Absinthe Day and Beach Bum Berry's Birthday, so we planned to celebrate each with a beverage. For the former, I found the page for the L'Arc de Triomphe in A Taste for Absinthe. I was excited to use the bitter orange marmalade that I had recently bought specifically to make this recipe. The drink was created by Scott Baird of 15 Romolo and Bon Vivants in San Francisco, and the use of marmalade reminded me of the Jubilee Line at Craigie on Main (as well as the Savoy's Marmalade Cocktail recipe which I have yet to make). For an absinthe, I opted for Pernod Fils for I wanted something flavorful that could stand up to the egg white and citrus; I later discovered an article that stated that Baird uses Kübler which probably would make for a more subtle flavor profile.
Definitely the orange notes from the marmalade, juice, and twist paid dividends in the aroma; moreover, this was joined by an herbalness from the Peychaud's Bitters and perhaps the absinthe. The orange continued on in the sip as a slightly tart flavor that was smoothed out by a creamy richness from the egg white. The egg white also mollified the swallow that came across as a light absinthe flavor. Over all, the L'Arc de Triomphe was like an anise-flavored Orange Julius.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

pisco crusta

2 oz Capel Pisco
1/2 oz Cointreau
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
2 dash Abbott's Bitters (sub Angostura)

Shake with ice and strain into a small wineglass with a sugar-coated rim. Garnish with a wide lemon peel looped around the inside of the glass' opening.

Last Friday, Andrea and I went to Rendezvous for dinner. There, I spoke to bartender Scott Holliday about an online class I took on Cognac. Scott was curious as to what the course covered, and he got excited when I mentioned that the Brandy Crusta was one of the drinks they discussed.

The Crusta was created by Joseph Santini in New Orleans around 1852. At his Jewel of the South bar in the French Quarter, he was believed to have created the drink that eventually transformed into the Sidecar. A decade or two later, Jerry Thomas described the Crusta as being a Fancy Brandy Cocktail with the addition of a sugar-crusted rim and lemon juice. While the sugar-coated rim helped to give the drink its name, the addition of citrus to cocktails was a big leap forward. To put the Crusta in perspective, Jerry Thomas also provided the recipes for the classic Brandy and the Fancy Brandy Cocktails. The Brandy Cocktail was spirit, bitters, curaçao, and gum syrup on crushed ice, and the only upgrade from that to the Fancy Brandy Cocktail was straining out the ice and adding the lemon peel that later became better associated with the Crusta. It is also worth mentioning that subsequent versions of the Crusta contain Maraschino liqueur in place of or in addition to the orange liqueur.

Originally, according to David Wondrich in Imbibe!, the lemon juice was meant more as an accent than as the basis of a Sour type drink. Today, the lemon juice portion can be quite considerable, and it is the addition of the bitters, the wide lemon peel, and sometimes the glassware choice that distinguishes the Crusta from the Sidecar.
The spirit that Scott has been excited about experimenting with recently is Pisco, so he decided to make me a Pisco Crusta. The drink was very much like a Sidecar, but here, the citrus peel donated a grand lemon oil aroma. Moreover, the pisco added a delightful grape eau de vie note to the drink and the Abbott's Bitters provided a bit of complexity to the mix including clove and pimenta racemosa flavors. Indeed, the balance was a bit tarter than most Sidecars usually are, but still within the acceptable if not preferable range; the addition of sweetness from the sugared rim did adjust the balance as needed.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

dr. clown shoes

1 1/2 oz Gin (Beefeater)
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Raspberry Syrup
1/4 oz Absinthe (Kübler)

Shake with ice and strain into a highball glass filled with fresh ice. Top with ~2 oz soda water, garnish with both a wide lemon and lime peel, and add a straw. Variation: use Bourbon instead of gin.

Later in the evening during Mixoloseum's TDN: Charlie Sheen, I discovered a lesser known phrase from Charlie's rants where he mentions a "Dr. Clown Shoes." The name immediately made me think of the classic Tiki drink Dr. Funk that Scott Holliday introduced me to. Instead of the Dr. Funk's rhum agricole base, I was considering Bourbon before switching last minute to gin. When I was still considering whiskey, I thought of the famous New Orleans highball drink, the Roffignac, that uses raspberry syrup and thought it would make a good substitution for Dr. Funk's grenadine. Moreover, with the absinthe in the drink, it would further the New Orleans' feel.
The flavor combination of gin, citrus, and raspberry syrup could do no wrong especially in the refreshing highball format. The addition of absinthe provided a light degree of spice that was very complementary to the gin and syrup flavors. While the botanicals of the gin worked really well here, I think that the barrel-aged notes of a good Bourbon would make for an equally pleasing drink. Unfortunately, I did not have time to give that variation a try, but perhaps I will soon -- right after uttering "Bring me Dr. Clown Shoes!" to myself, the bartender.

tiger blood

1 1/2 oz Campari
3/4 oz Cherry Heering
3/4 oz Lemon Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Twist a lemon peel over the top. Variation: equal parts (1 oz) for all 3 ingredients.

Last week, Mixoloseum hosted a Thursday Drink Night toasting the poetry of Charlie Sheen. One of the descriptions for the event read, "Use the gleefully deranged rantings of Charlie Sheen to inspire your drinks this week!" Regardless on your stance of celebrity train wrecks, mental illness, and the like, Mr. Sheen's comments surely did generate a large number of potential drink names. For my first drink, I chose one of the more obvious phrases of "Tiger Blood" especially since it reminded me of Charles H. Baker Jr.'s drink Tiger Milk. When I thought of red ingredients and drinks, the Campari-laden Teresa from Gary Regan's The Joy of Mixology came to mind. Instead of Creme de Cassis, I swiched liqueurs to Cherry Heering especially since it is rather red in addition to being an ingredient in the Blood and Sand. Since lemon and Cherry Heering pair so well together such as in the High Hat, I chose it over the lime that is in the Teresa.
The Tiger Blood was definitely more red than I expected, and the nose was filled with lemon and Campari notes. On the tongue, the sip was a sour-cherry flavor that was not too tart, and the swallow was even further cherry flavor which was modified by the Campari's bitterness. The Tiger Blood was a bit more Campari-driven than the Teresa; I am not sure whether the lime or the Creme de Cassis helped to neutralize its flavor more than the lemon and Cherry Heering, respectively. While I did not have a chance to tinker with the proportions much, perhaps an equal parts (1 ounce each) recipe might bring the drink into better balance.

tangerine pisco

2 oz Capel Pisco
1 oz Tangerine Juice
1/4 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Garam Masala Simple Syrup (*)
1 Egg White

Dry shake the citrus, syrup, and egg white. Add ice and pisco, shake, and strain into a rocks glass. Garnish the egg white froth with a dash of Peychaud's Bitters. All volumes are approximates.
(*) For a good starting point, see the recipe for Five Spice Simple Syrup.

Last Wednesday after stopping in at Clio, I headed across the Back Bay to meet Andrea at Aquitaine in the South End. The drink I was tempted by on the menu was the Tangerine Pisco which seemed like an interesting Pisco Sour variation, so I asked bartender Nathan to make me one. The drink switched the citrus from the classic lime to tangerine with a little lemon to supplement the crispness that tangerine is lacking; after having the Luigi a few weeks back, I was eager to squeeze in another tangerine drink before the season ended. The other twist was instead of using simple syrup, the recipe called for Garam Masala syrup. Garam Masala is frequently used in Indian and other South Asian cooking and translates to "hot spice mix"; although there is great variation in Garam Masala mix recipes, many contain cinnamon, cardamom, star anise, coriander, and pepper corns.
The drink greeted my nose with the scent of the tangerine juice and the Peychaud's Bitter's anise. Next, a slightly crisp tangerine sip was chased by the pisco brandy and Garam Masala on the swallow. What really tied the drink together beside the smoothness of the egg white was how well the spices in the Garam Masala syrup complemented the tangerine flavor. The Tangerine Pisco made for a solid Pisco Sour variation akin to Trina's Starlite Lounge's Alfa Sour and Ben Sandrof's Pisco Punch-Pisco Sour hybrid.

Monday, March 7, 2011

pimm's & lemon

2 oz Pimm's No. 1
2 1/2 oz Lemon Juice
2 1/4 oz Simple Syrup (2:1)
7 oz Soda Water

Shake Pimm's, juice, and syrup with ice and strain into a Collins glass filled with fresh ice. Top with soda water, and garnish with a long cucumber slice, 2 small strawberries quartered into slices, 4-5 blackberries, an orange slice, and a straw.

For my second drink at Clio, bartender Todd Maul decided to make me a Pimm's & Lemon. The recipe was given to him by a guest from England. The gentleman requested one and when he discovered that Todd was not absolutely sure how to make this British drink, he provided his preferred recipe. Todd was a bit surprised how the recipe was less Pimm's forward than he had expected but was pleased at how the Pimm's played off the lemon. Todd improved on the request by making fresh lemonade with lemons and sugar instead of using a bottled brand. Moreover, Todd has been considering putting the drink on the menu as the weather gets warmer; however, he has been toying with idea of adding a little gin to make people happier with the alcohol content of the drink (Pimm's weighs in at 25% which puts this drink on the lighter end of the spectrum).
The garnishes paid dividends visually as well as in the aroma with the cucumber and strawberry notes being the strongest. As for the taste, the sip was a sweet and fruity Pimm's flavor, while the swallow was a citrus soda-like note. As can be expected from the recipe, the drink was on the sweet side instead of being crisp. Indeed, it was refreshing, flavorful, and light (save for the sugar content), and I could see this being a big hit especially in the summer months.

gold cup

1 1/2 oz El Dorado 5 Year Rum
1 1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Maraschino Liqueur
1/4 oz Orgeat
1/4 oz Simple Syrup (2:1)
1/4 tsp Absinthe

Shake with ice and strain into a rocks glass containing an ice cone. Add a straw and garnish with 2 mint leaves.

Last Wednesday, I stopped by Clio to pay Todd Maul a visit. It was unrelated to the great press Todd had received early that week from both MC Slim JB on SeriousEats and Lauren Clarke on DrinkBoston, but it did not hurt. I was actually stopping by to drop off some plastic pipettes that Todd needed for one of his projects before I went on to meet Andrea later that night at Aquitaine. Well, having a chance to sit at Todd's bar again was a good second reason.

One drink that Todd wanted to make for me was the Gold Cup which he hopes to put on the Spring menu. The original recipe appears in Beach Bum Berry's Remixed; Berry's history places the drinks creation at the Hukilau Polynesian Room of the Captain's Inn in Long Beach, CA, around 1962. Todd found the original recipe a bit too sweet so he made a few changes to the recipe as well as to the garnish. As for the latter, Todd opted for an ice cone that the Hukilau Room used for their Captain's Grog over the original Gold Cup's call for an ice shell hood.
The Gold Cup started with a lime juice aroma that was punctuated with hints of anise and mint. While the sip was mainly the lime juice, the swallow was a rich rum flavor coupled with the Maraschino. The Maraschino was less funky than usual and was possibly smoothed out by the orgeat. Finally, the drink finished with a light degree of spice from the absinthe.

Friday, March 4, 2011

tropical cocktail

1 1/4 oz Dry Vermouth (Noilly Prat)
3/4 oz Maraschino Liqueur (Luxardo)
3/4 oz Creme de Cacao
1 dash Orange Bitters (Angostura Orange)

Stir with ice and strain into a wine glass.

For the after-dinner portion of the vermouth cocktail pair, I brought forth a recipe I found in the 1946 Stork Club Bar Book. When I first saw the Tropical Cocktail, I was intrigued because the drink lacks rum as well as fruit juice of any sort that might be expected from the name alone. The call for dry vermouth did not surprise me greatly as it made sense as a sweetness neutralizer to the two liqueurs; what did surprise or perhaps amuse me was that the liqueurs provided more alcohol to the drink than the vermouth that seemed to be acting like the base spirit.
The Tropical Cocktail possessed a fruity nose from the Maraschino supplemented by the orange from the bitters. The sip contained a lot of Creme de Cacao notes, and this continued on in the swallow as a chocolate-cherry flavor that was supplemented by botanical notes from the vermouth and bitters. One of the best flavor pairings was the sharp note of the Noilly Prat complementing the funkiness of the Maraschino liqueur. Overall, the dry vermouth did a good job as a balancer in this recipe; indeed, I could tell from the body that there was a high sugar content in the drink, but the drink did not seem cloyingly sweet.

fancy sour

1 oz Sweet Vermouth (Vya)
1/2 oz Maraschino Liqueur (Luxardo)
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1 dash Orange Bitters (Regan's)
1 dash Aromatic Bitters (Peychaud's)

Shake with ice and strain into a small cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

On Tuesday evening, Andrea was game to try a pair of vermouth cocktails that I had found. The drinks were very different: one with citrus, one straight spirits; one sweet, one dry vermouth; one aperitif, one dessert cocktail. The former of those pairs was the Fancy Sour that Derek Brown wrote about in the Atlantic. Katie Nelson, a bartender at the Columbia Room in Washington, D.C., introduced the drink to Derek and apparently prefers the the recipe when made with Carpano Antica vermouth. While I am not sure where she found the recipe, it appears on CocktailDB which leads me to believe that it arrived there from Stan Jones' Complete Bar Guide. The concept of Fancy Cocktails that were improved with the use of Maraschino liqueur in place of sugar as a sweetener were rather popular in the latter half of the 19th century (see this post about Fancy and Improved Cocktails). Indeed, Jerry Thomas provided the recipe for a Fancy Vermouth Cocktail as follows:
Fancy Vermouth Cocktail
• 1 wineglass Vermouth (2 oz)
• 2 dash Maraschino
• 2 dash Angostura Bitters
• 1 quarter slice of lemon
Stir the vermouth, liqueur, and bitters with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon slice.
Combine this recipe with a traditional Sour, and the Fancy (Vermouth) Sour falls into place.
The Fancy Sour greeted the nose with orange notes from the twist and bitters and grape notes from the Vya vermouth. Like many Sours, the sip which was lemony and somewhat tart. The swallow though was the Maraschino coupled with the vermouth's and bitters' botanicals; surprisingly, the aftertaste was a lemon note and not the nutty cherry of the liqueur as I first guessed. Overall, the Fancy Sour made for a great aperitif as expected. Between the lemon's acid and the lightness and slight bitterness of the vermouth, this drink was perfect in preparing the body for the meal to come.

Thursday, March 3, 2011


1/3 Lillet (3/4 oz Cocchi Americano)
1/3 Daiquiri Rum (3/4 oz Smith & Cross)
1/3 Apricot Brandy (3/4 oz Rothman & Winter)
Juice 1/4 Lemon (3/4 oz)

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

On Sunday night, we were in the mood for a nightcap and I found the Culross in the Café Royal Cocktail Book. With the equal parts spirit, fruit liqueur, Lillet, and lemon structure, it reminded me of the Hoop La so I figured that it was worth a shot. The Culross pre-dates the 1937 Café Royal and appears in the 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book, although I am not sure if there is an older reference than that. The recipe seemed like it needed a full bodied rum to really make this cocktail shine, so I opted for flavorful Smith & Cross over a something I would consider more "daiquiri rum" in style.
The Culross presented a lemon, apricot, and rum aroma. On the sip, the lemon and apricot were rather strong with hints of the Cocchi Americano rounding out the fruit notes. Next, the apricot continued on in the swallow where it mingled with the rum's heat and funkiness. Strangely, I found the drink's balance rather quizzical as it alternated between sweet and tart on different sips.

fernet fix

2 oz Fernet Branca
3/4 oz Pineapple Syrup
1/2 oz Lime Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a rocks glass filled with crushed ice. Dress the top with berries in season, and add a straw.

For Mixoloseum's Thursday Drink Night last week, the theme was "Kaiser Penguin." No, the theme was not to use Gilka Kümmel, but to make drinks that were in the spirit of Rick Stutz, author of the Kaiser Penguin blog. While Rick is a fan of ornate garnishes, J. Wray & Nephew Rum, and green Chartreuse, the aspect I latched on to was his love of Fernet Branca as shown in his Fernet Old Fashioned post. I decided to take it old school and modify the classic Brandy Fix into something Rick would love to have served to him. What is a Fix? According to Embury, Fixes are pretty much the same as Daisies (think: the Gin Daisy or the Ward 8); they are both Sours with a flavored syrup or liqueur instead of sugar or simple syrup as the sweetener. Although there are exceptions in the older literature, Fixes generally call for pineapple syrup and Daisies for raspberry syrup or grenadine. Given how well Fernet Branca pairs with lime and pineapple in drinks like the Fernet Buck and the Bartender on Acid, respectively, the Fernet Fix seemed like a good direction to take.
While berries were not in season, I tried my best to garnish lavishly with what I had on hand -- orange slices and a Luxardo cherry. Moreover, I wish that I had a sprig of mint to add to drink. The garnish played heavily in the aroma which was full of fruit notes. The fruit notes continued on in the sip with pineapple and lime flavors being supplemented with hints of Fernet's herbalness. The real wave of herbal flavor came in the swallow with Fernet's menthol playing a large role; however, whether it was the pineapple syrup or the melting ice, the Fernet Branca was somewhat tamed in this drink and was not the beast it can be in many drinks.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

[green ghost fizz]

1 1/2 oz Plymouth Gin
1 oz Green Chartreuse
3/4 oz Lime Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a highball glass. Top with soda water and add a straw and a long, wide orange twist.

For my second drink at Lineage, bartender Ryan Lotz made me a Fizz whose ingredients reminded me a lot of the Green Ghost from the Café Royal Cocktail Book. With the addition of soda water to soften the flavors and an orange twist to add extra citrus notes, I was curious if the drink was going to take on a new form. The Fizz's aroma was filled with orange oil and hints of lime and chartreuse. On the palate, the sip was a crisp lime flavor that was chased by the Chartreuse and gin notes on the swallow. As always, lime and Chartreuse make great partners as seen in drinks like the Silent Order, Chartreuse Swizzle, and Last Word. Indeed, the drink was a mellow, light, and almost creamy Green Ghost that was a pleasure to drink. Moreover, the potent flavors did not suffer greatly from their dilution with soda water, only tamed slightly into something more refreshing.

aztec conquest

1 1/2 oz Berkshire Mountain Distillers' Bourbon
3/4 oz Lustau East India Solera Sherry
1/2 oz Royal Combier Orange Liqueur
1 dash Bittermens Mole Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a rocks glass. Twist an orange peel over the top.

Last Wednesday, Andrea and I paid a visit to Lineage in Brookline for dinner. For my first cocktail, I asked bartender Ryan Lotz for the Aztec Conquest off of the cocktail menu. Ryan explained that the drink was originally developed with the Bittermens Taza Chocolate Extract for a contest to appear on the extract bottle's label as a suggested recipe. Alas, Boston's own Joy Richard of the Franklin and Citizen won that right, but Ryan was still pleased with his creation. With further tinkering, Ryan discovered that he preferred the drink more with the Bittermens Mole Bitters instead and now serves it on his menu that way.
The Aztec Conquest awakened the senses with an aroma of orange oil and liqueur as well as a hint of sherry. The sip was a sharp orange flavor that was followed by Bourbon and sherry notes on the swallow. With Lustau's East India Solera, the sherry came across more as a grape than a nutty flavor. Lastly, the chocolate from the bitters lingered at the end and paired well with the sherry.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


1/2 White Port (1 1/2 oz Ramos Pinto)
1/2 Vodka (1 1/2 oz Bak's Bison Grass)
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

Last Tuesday, the Liquor Fairy visited and dropped off a sample bottle of Bak's Bison Grass Vodka. When we tasted it straight, Andrea got a sweet grassy flavor and I got notes that reminded me of cinnamon and tonka bean. While we are not big vodka fans, this stuff was actually interesting given the herbal and spice notes; on the other hand, vodka fans should not fear for these flavors are not as potent or as challenging as gins' or aquavits' botanicals are. Andrea was game to give it a try in a drink and we both knew what recipe was coming. The Clubland from the 1937 Café Royal Cocktail Book has been a recipe that we have been meaning to try, but we always deferred to another recipe idea instead. While the name is evocative of the discos of Manhattan in the 1980s or the more historically accurate explanation of the London area containing a large number of gentlemen's clubs, the drink was most likely named after the Clubland White Port that the original recipe calls for (along with Wolfschmidt as the vodka brand). With the bison grass-flavored (it is most likely a distillation product to remove the verboten coumarin molecules present in the traditionally infused spirit) vodka, there was enough momentum not to defer making this recipe any longer.
The Clubland smelled of the white port's grape and the Angostura's spice. Flavorwise, I was quite impressed at how well the Angostura Bitters complemented the bison grass vodka! The combination of the two proffered cinnamon on the sip with a bit of apple pie spices on the swallow. Andrea commented that this drink was not as insipid as she first feared; moreover, while it was not exceptionally dynamic of a drink, it was more dynamic than a Vodka Martini. I replied that I could definitely see why Jeff Morgenthaler put the Clubland as the vodka drink on his menu at Clyde Common in Portland, Oregon.

coffee brown

1 2/3 oz Bourbon (1 1/2 oz + 1 tsp Bulleit)
2/3 oz Coffee Liqueur (1/2 oz + 1 tsp Galliano Ristretto)
2/3 oz Port, LBV preferred (1/2 oz + 1 tsp Ramos Pinto Ruby)
4 dash Orange Bitters (Angostura Orange)

Stir with ice and strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

After the President Roosevelt two Mondays ago, Andrea was in the mood for a Bourbon drink. Since I figured that a more modern book would have a better selection of Bourbon recipes, I reached for Food & Wine: Cocktails 2010. There, I spotted Coffee Brown from Jimmy Dymott from the f/l Cocktail Bar in Stockholm, Sweden. While I did not have a late bottled vintage port that Dymott recommended, I figured that a ruby port would still make for a decent drink. Moreover, I was excited to use the rather robustly flavored Galliano Ristretto for the coffee liqueur part.
The Coffee Brown possessed an orange, caramel, and coffee aroma. The sip was the Ristretto's dark roast coffee flavor that paired well with the orange from the bitters. The coffee flavor then continued on in the swallow where it played well with the barrel-aged notes of the Bourbon. The port was less distinctive of a flavor at first and seemed to be there to provide body and to tie the drink together. As the drink warmed up, the port flavor became more apparent and complemented the coffee notes well. Andrea commented that the drink was very much an after-dinner drink and would go great with chocolate cake. When I commented that adding an egg to these ingredients would probably make for a good Flip, Andrea agreed but switched the dessert recommendation to crème brûlée.