Wednesday, November 30, 2011

champ clark

2/3 Rye Whiskey (2 oz Ryan & Wood)
1/6 Apricot Brandy (1/2 oz Rothman & Winter)
1/6 Sweet Vermouth (1/2 oz Vya)
1 dash Ojen (1 barspoon La Muse Verte Absinthe)

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry (Luxardo Maraschino).

Two Mondays ago for a nightcap, I flipped through the Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars: 1903-1933 to one of the drinks I had marked off, the Champ Clark. What caught my eye was how similar it was to the Slope with sweet vermouth and Ojen bitters in place of the Slope's Punt e Mes and Angostura. The drink was named after one of the politicians of the day, James Beauchamp Clark. Champ was a Democrat who worked his way up to being the Speaker of the House of Representatives. In 1912, he raised his political aspirations to the Presidency; however, Woodrow Wilson ended up getting the nod as the Democratic presidential candidate that year. After a let down like that, I am sure that he could have used one of these cocktails. Moreover, since Clark was strongly opposed to Prohibition that unfortunately came upon the country shortly before the end of his political career, we should raise a glass for his efforts.
The cocktail began with an absinthe and rye whiskey aroma that led into a malty sip with a hint of grape. The swallow presented the rye's barrel notes that merged gracefully with the apricot flavors, and the absinthe rounded out the Champ Clark on the finish. Even with a lot of apricot liqueur in the drink, it did not come across as such; perhaps the combination of rye and absinthe helped to subdue it. Overall, the drink reminded me a bit of another political cocktail, the Remember the Maine which utilizes cherry brandy in place of the Champ Clark's apricot.


>1 1/2 oz Matusalem Platino Rum
1/2 oz Martini & Rossi Sweet Vermouth
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/4 oz Marie Brizard Crème de Cacao (White)
1/4 oz Grenadine

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lime wedge.
For my second drink at Green Street, I asked bartender Philip MacLeod for the Floridita. The drink was named after the bar in Havana, Cuba, that Ernest Hemingway helped to make famous. While Ernest declared, "My mojito in La Bodeguita, my daiquiri in El Floridita," this was probably not the drink he was ordering. However, as an abstraction of the Daiquiri, this drink seemed worth a try. The Floridita's lime wedge garnish contributed greatly to the aroma and helped prepare the mouth for the sip's fruity flavor from the lime, vermouth's grape, and grenadine. The rum appeared in the swallow that finished with chocolaty notes.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

skipper's flip

1 1/2 oz Myer's Dark Rum
1/2 oz Benedictine
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Brown Sugar Syrup
1 dash Bittermens Tiki Bitters
1 Whole Egg

Shake once without ice and once with. Strain into a wine glass and garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.
Two Sundays ago, Andrea and I ventured down to Green Street where Derric Crothers and Philip MacLeod were tending bar. For our first cocktail, Derric wanted to show us his new creation that has quickly become his seasonal drink this year. Derric took the hot Skipper's Punch from the menu, modified it, and converted it into a tasty Flip. In tracing back the source, the Punch was bar owner Dylan Black's riff on the Skipper's Particular from the Esquire's Handbook for Hosts. Here, the nutmeg garnish contributed greatly to the Flip's aroma. The sip was a rich dark rum and brown sugar flavor that led into the lime and spice notes from the Benedictine and Tiki Bitter on the swallow.

follow that black rabbit

3/4 oz Fernet Branca
3/4 oz Beefeater Gin
3/10 oz Lemon Juice
3/4 oz Orange Juice
3/4 oz Maple Syrup

Shake with ice and strain into an ice-filled highball glass. Perhaps an orange slice garnish would not be out of place here. I added a straw.

After the Sloe Combustion, I decided to make one of the recipes I spotted in Gary Regan's Bartender's Gin Compendium called Follow that Black Rabbit. The drink was created by Kristian Kramp, a bartender from Denmark who now works at Gefährlich, who claimed that he was influenced by both Donnie Darko and Alice in Wonderland in naming this drink. With the orange juice, lemon juice, and maple syrup, my guess is that the Savoy and Embury classic, the Apple Jack Rabbit, was his starting point. Instead of apple brandy, Kristian opted for Fernet Branca lightened by gin.
The drink began with a Fernet Branca nose that was soothed by a maple aroma. While the orange juice on the sip was not surprising, the presence of the gin's juniper and other botanical notes was, for gin generally comes across on the swallow. Instead, the swallow mirrored the scent with maple syrup and mellowed out Fernet Branca flavors. As the ice melted, however, the drink became more Fernet forward in its balance.

Monday, November 28, 2011

sloe combustion

1/3 Sloe Gin (1 oz Plymouth)
1/3 Dry Vermouth (1 oz Noilly Prat)
1/6 Sweet Vermouth (1/2 oz vya)
1/6 Grapefruit Crush (1/2 oz Rieme Pink Grapefruit Sparkling Limonade)
2 dash Peach Bitters (Fee's)

The instructions were to shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Instead, I stirred all the ingredients but the soda with ice and strained into a coupe glass. Next, I added the soda, briefly stirred, and garnished with a grapefruit twist.

Two Saturdays ago, I was flipping through the United Kingdom Bartenders Guild's Approved Cocktails from 1937 and spotted the amusingly named Sloe Combustion. Besides the pun, I found the call for Grapefruit Crush to be quite curious. I double checked and the Crush brand of soda was around back then with the original Orange Crush appearing in 1906. While we did not have this specific soda at home, we did have a fine French sparkling grapefruit lemonade on hand.
The grapefruit twist I added in conjunction with the grapefruit soda provided much of the aroma with hints of sloe gin and perhaps sweet vermouth poking through. The grape and berry sip was chased by a peach and grapefruit swallow. While the drink did not start sweet, the swallow did have a lingering sweetness. Indeed, the Sloe Combustion was not as sweet as I expected perhaps from the dry vermouth and the carbonation offering some crispness.

six inch gold blade

1 1/2 oz Smith & Cross Rum
1/2 oz Punt e Mes
1/2 oz Nardini Amaro
1/2 oz Campari
1/2 tsp Laphroaig Scotch
2 dash Angostura Bitters
1 dash Mole Bitters

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

Two Fridays ago, since we finally had all the ingredients to make it, we decided to concoct the Six Inch Gold Blade that appears in the Beta Cocktails book. The drink was created by Al Sotack of Philidelphia's Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co. and was probably named after one of Nick Cave's early songs from the Birthday Party era. The two bottles we lacked until recently were Laphroaig Scotch and Nardini Amaro, and the only thing we needed was the right moment to take on a drink that appeared on the Franklin's challenging "I Asked Her For Water She Gave Me Gasoline" section of their menu.
The Six Inch Gold Blade began with a combination of orange oil, Smith & Cross rum, and Punt e Mes aromas. The sip presented the Punt e Mes' grape and the Nardini's caramel and was relatively simple compared to the swallow. Indeed, the swallow first showcased the funky rum and a complex bitter symphony, and then it provided a smoky Scotch, residual woodiness, and chocolate aftertaste. Besides the mole bitters, the chocolate notes also stemmed the Nardini Amaro which otherwise reminded me a bit of Bénédictine. Lingering over this drink only allowed for the bitterness to grow as the Six Inch Gold Blade warmed up, so nursing it like a Rusty Nail might not be the best option.

Sunday, November 27, 2011


1/2 oz Campari
1/2 oz Sweet Vermouth (Vya)
1 Egg, separated
1/2 oz Gin (Aviation)
1 dash Regan's Orange Bitters

Stir Campari and sweet vermouth with a spoon in a 2 oz sherry glass to mix. Layer an unbroken egg yolk on top. Layer gin on top of that. Beat egg whites until they are stiff (whisk or cobbler shaker with a balled up Hawthorne spring) and cover gin layer with egg whites. Garnish with a dash of orange bitters. Drink in a ceremonial 4 step process as laid out below by Leo Engel in 1878:
1. Pass the glass under the Nostrils and Inhale the Flavour –- Pause.
2. Hold the glass perpendicularly, close under your mouth, open it wide, and suck the froth by drawing a Deep Breath. -- Pause again.
3. Point the lips and take one-third of the liquid contents remaining in the glass without touching the yolk. -- Pause once more.
4. Straighten the body, throw the head backward, swallow the contents remaining in the glass all at once, at the same time breaking the yolk in your mouth.
Two Thursdays ago, the theme for Mixoloseum's Drink Night was "red and yellow" in honor of the leaves changing color as we get further into Autumn. Therefore, the use of red and/or yellow cocktail ingredients was encouraged. The idea for this drink came midway through the night in a discussion of how egg yolks were another yellow ingredient besides the obvious Yellow Chartreuse, Galliano, Strega, and Lillet. To figure out a red ingredient, I thought of Campari and somehow that triggered an old thought about how to modernize the Knickebein, a layered drink created in 1878 by Leo Engel that features an unbroken egg yolk in the middle. When we made a Knickebein for a Mixology Monday back almost 3 years ago, we lacked the crème de noyau to craft Engel's, so we opted for the one in Boothby's 1907 World's Drinks and How To Mix Them. The kümmel in Boothby's Knickebein was not so appealing despite the liqueur working well in other drinks. Therefore, the concept of modifying a favorite liqueur-laden drink and dividing it up into Pousse-café format led me to crossing a Negroni with a Knickebein especially since Campari and sweet vermouth fulfilled the red part of the colored drink night theme.
The Knickroni began with a pleasant orange aroma from the Regan's Bitters; I replaced the original Knickebein's aromatic bitters with orange ones to represent the Negroni's orange twist garnish. The first part of the drink contained the gin flavor smoothed by the egg white meringue. Next were the sweet vermouth and the sharper Campari notes; these flavors were greatly softened once the egg yolk was burst on the tongue.

Overall, the Knickroni offered up a more desirable flavor base than the other Knickebein combinations I have read in old drink books, so I chalk that up as a success. Another success was reading a post by Matt Hamlin in the A Jigger of Blog; Matt saw the tweet about the drink and commented that "There is some serious WTFery going on here."

don't tread on me

2 oz London Dry Gin
1/2 oz Thyme-infused Honey Syrup
1/2 oz Belle de Brillet Pear Liqueur
1/2 oz Lemon Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail coupe. Garnish with a thyme sprig.
Towards the end of dinner at Trina's Starlite Lounge, bartender Beau Sturm sent a round of the special cocktail of the day to our table. The drink was called the Don't Tread on Me and was essentially a Bee's Knees with two additional touches. One was that the drink took on an herbal note with the thyme-infused honey and a fruit note with the pear liqueur. The two additions paid dividends for the aroma which presented thyme and pear notes. The sweet, herbal honey sip contained pear and floral notes, and the swallow showcased the gin and thyme along with a citric bite. Andrea commented that the drink was "very beautiful and sophisticated"; I agreed and felt that the pear liqueur perhaps more so than the thyme took the mix to a higher level.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

:: camano coffee mill review ::

A few weeks ago, Andrea was looking through Martha Stewart's Living magazine and pointed out a coffee mill in the holiday gift recommendation section. I replied that I had been looking on eBay for a vintage one to grind coffee at work, but I never pulled the trigger for I was unsure of how well they would work. However, I was getting frustrated with my coffee I ground at the store losing much of its glorious terroir flavors and aromas over the first week or two. Therefore, I started researching what modern mechanical options there were that would do as good of a job as the electric burr grinder attached to our Capresso coffee maker at home. After reading a few articles including a discussion on Chowhound, my research took me back to the same one that Martha Stewart had recommended -- the Red Rooster Trading Company's Camano Coffee Mill!
Some of the selling points were that each grinder is hand-built in the United States with the wood being walnut sourced from Amish woodsmen. Reviews praised how quiet and well constructed it was; moreover, at $60, it was a lot less than a good electric one. Most importantly, the grind was adjustable!
By simply lifting the washer, the threaded wheel at the bottom of the spring could be turned; turning it clockwise changed the spring tension and made the grind finer, and turning it counterclockwise made it coarser.
In tuning the grind today, I could make it rather coarse (left) or rather fine (right) with the desired medium in the middle (note that there is some cross-contamination of the grinds in each pile). I did not take them to the extremes so even finer for espresso grind seems quite doable. From the resultant coffee we made, it seemed like a success!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

mr. monahan's flip

2 oz Laird's 7 1/2 Year Apple Brandy
1 oz Madeira
1 oz Pumpkin Purée Spiced Syrup (*)
1 Whole Egg

Shake once without ice and once with. Strain into a wineglass and garnish the froth with Fee's Aromatic Bitters.
(*) While I did not get a precise recipe for this ingredient, perhaps a half ounce (1 Tbsp) of canned pumpkin purée and a half ounce of an allspice, cinnamon, and clove simple syrup would work.

Last Wednesday, Andrea and I went to Trina's Starlite Lounge for dinner. While the bar was full and we sat at a table in the dining area, we did have a chance to speak with bartender and co-owner Beau Sturm as he came by our table during dinner to talk about the drinks he was making for us. The drink I started the evening with was one I remember reading about last year in the Improper Bostonian. The Mr. Monahan's Flip was created by Beau in honor of then Eastern Standard (now Highland Kitchen) bartender Jimmy Lane's recent nuptials. Unlike our dubbing a drink the Jimmy Lane Swizzle, Beau gave Jimmy a little jab by naming the drink after Jimmy's bride, Riley Monahan, who works at Trina's Starlite Lounge. Jimmy apparently took the joke well, and perhaps things were smoothed over once he tasted the delight. The recipe was based upon the classic Madeira-laden Boston Flip with the whiskey swapped for aged apple brandy and with the addition of spiced pumpkin syrup instead of sugar.
The Mr. Monohan's Flip's pumpkin notes greeted my nose along with the bitters garnish's cinnamon. On the sip, the pumpkin worked well with the apple brandy flavors, and the more vegetal aspects of the pumpkin came through on the swallow along with the Madeira notes. With successive swallows, the spices from the syrup began to appear and the ones I could easily identify were clove, cinnamon, and allspice (I would not be surprised if nutmeg or other spices were in there too).

east village athletic club

1 1/2 oz Blanco Tequila (Espolon)
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Yellow Chartreuse
1/2 oz Grand Marnier

Shake with ice and strain into a coupe glass.

Two Tuesdays ago, I turned to the PDT Cocktail Book for a drink that night. One that caught my eye was Jim Meehan, John Derragon, and Don Lee's tribute to the Detroit Athletic Club where the Last Word was created. I remembered that there was also a recipe in Ted Saucier's Bottom's Up called the Detroit Athletic Club, and when I checked, it was an egg-based one that seemed unrelated to this one. Therefore, this is a tribute to the Last Word itself named after PDT's neighborhood in Manhattan. Or perhaps a tribute to other similar drinks created in that Detroit locale as well such as the equal parts D.J.
The East Village Athletic Club presented tequila and Yellow Chartreuse aromas to my nose and tequila and lemon to Andrea's. The sip was a combination of citrus from the lemon and Grand Marnier, and the swallow presented the tequila which blended rather well with the Yellow Chartreuse. Overall, it was not as quirky as a Last Word; perhaps this was due to it being more citrus driven, less sharply herbal from the Chartreuse choice, and less funky from the secondary liqueur selection. Indeed, the drink was pleasantly smooth save for the tequila bite at the end.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

px flip

2 oz Pedro Ximénez Sherry (Lustau San Emilio)
1/2 oz Angostura Bitters
1 Whole Egg

Shake once without ice and once with. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.

In a recent article in Culinate, bartender Jacob Grier of Metrovino in Portland, Oregon, had a great article on sherries and their revitalization through cocktails. One of the recipes he presented was from his own menu that is a take on the classic 19th century Sherry Flip. Jacob cut the syrupy sweetness of the Pedro Ximénez sherry with a healthy dose of Angostura Bitters to create an exquisite after-dinner drink.
The freshly grated nutmeg garnish supplemented the hints of Angostura's spices that entered into the aroma. The creamy rich grape sip was chased by more sherry notes on the swallow along with sweet cinnamon and allspice flavors. The Pedro Ximénez did a good job of balancing the Angostura such that the drink was not a oddity like some bitters-laden drinks can be, and the Angostura in turn donated a great autumnal and winter seasonal spice note to the Flip.

[sweetwater kill]

1 1/2 oz La Favorite Amber Rhum
1/4 oz Atkins & Potts Rosehip Syrup
1 oz Cardamaro
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/4 oz Demerara Simple Syrup
1 Egg White

Shake once without ice and once with. Double strain into a rocks glass.

For my nightcap at Craigie on Main, bartender Ted Gallagher had a drink to show me using an intriguing rosehip syrup he found at Christina's Spice and Specialty Foods in Inman Square. The rosehip syrup reminded Ted of rhum agricole, and to match that concept, he utilized an aged La Favorite. In letting me taste the rhum straight, Ted commented that he found it to be quite earthy with aromas of new leather, and it reminded chef Tony Maws of white truffles.
The drink began with the aroma of rhum agricole, lemon juice, and something funky that could have been the Cardamaro or the rosehip syrup. The sip paired the lemon with the rosehips, and this was followed by the rhum agricole and the herbal notes from the Cardamaro on the swallow.

Monday, November 21, 2011


1 oz Cocchi Americano
3/4 oz Anchor Distilling Junipero Gin
1/2 oz Carpano Antica Sweet vermouth
1/2 oz Gobelsburger Rosé Wine
1/4 oz Cynar
1 dash Regan's Orange Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

After leaving the Shakin' It Up event two Sundays ago, I walked across the Mass Ave bridge and made my way over to Craigie on Main. Craigie's bar was double staffed with Ted Gallagher and Jared Sadoian, and I felt quite lucky that there was an open seat for me. When I mentioned that I had never had their Alphonse, Ted suggested that I give it a try. The drink was named after Alphonse Mucha, a Czech painter who moved to Paris at the beginning of the Art Nouveau movement. Mucha's work is noted for his earth tones, feminine forms, and ornate borders. He is often best remembered for his advertising work for Champagnes and other products that made him rather wealthy. The drink was crafted as a result of diners asking for libations to have with food; therefore, the Alphonse was created to be lighter in style and more acidic of a drink.
The Alphonse's nose contained the Carpano Antica's grape aroma that was spiked with Junipero's piny note. The sip offered up a complex layering of wine flavors from the sweet vermouth, Cocchi Americano, and rosé along with a lemon-like zing. Next, the swallow came in two phases with the first being the gin with darker herbal hints from the Cynar and the second being orange notes with a lingering juniper signature. I was quite impressed at how much of a workhorse the Junipero gin was in this drink; the last time I remember noting this was in John Gertsen's Mission of Burma.

no contest

1 oz Smith & Cross Rum
1 oz Ruby Port (Taylor Fladgate)
3/4 oz Lime Juice
3/4 oz Simple Syrup 1:1 (Jaggery)
1/4 oz Angostura Bitters
1/4 oz Peychaud's Bitters

Shake with ice and strain into a Tiki or Collins glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with a pineapple wedge (omitted).

Two Fridays ago, I made the No Contest that appeared in TastingTable's Best Cocktails of 2011 article. The drink was created by Paul McGee of Chicago's Whistler and was described as "the thinking drinker's Tiki drink." With a structure of an embittered Bishop calling for Smith & Cross Rum, I was definitely game.
The No Contest began with the aroma of Smith & Cross' funky rum notes along with some rich grape ones from the port. The slightly sweet sip paired up the fruitier elements of the lime and grape, and the swallow got a lot drier with the Smith & Cross flavors, Anogstura's allspice, and Peychaud's anise notes shining through. Overall, the No Contest was rather intense for the Tiki genre, and I was quite pleased at how well the large amount of bitters complemented the ruby port.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

pink squirrel

This month's Mixology Monday theme, "Retro Redemption!" (MxMo LXIII), was picked by Jacob Grier of the Liquidy Preference blog. Jacob's challenge was "to revive a drink from mixology's lost decades. Perhaps you feel one of these drinks has a bad rap; tell us why it deserves another shot. Or maybe the original concoction just needs a little help from contemporary ingredients and techniques to make it in the big leagues. If so, tell us how to update it."

When I read this theme, I immediately thought of a post I had wanted to do for a while. At Tales of the Cocktail 2010 at one of the informal tasting events, I had a chance to try Matt Rowley's Ratafia aux Noyau that was simply glorious. Like old fashioned crème de noyau, his was crafted from the aromatic and flavorful kernels of peach pits. Despite the glorious almond flavor from the stones, the FDA frowns upon the small amount of cyanide-creating compounds in them, and all crème de noyau is either distilled after infusion, such as Noyau de Poissy, or artificially flavored and colored, such as the bottom shelf bottles that these days only find their way into Alabama Slammers. Moreover, one of the talks I attended at Tales that year was "Bariana: the Golden Age of French Cocktails." In the classic French drink book Bariana, they called for dashes of noyau like Maloney called for apricot brandy bell-ringer rinses. My efforts for locating a bottle or scoring a sample of Noyau de Poissy were for naught, and in wanting to make some drinks from Bariana, I started harvesting peach pits to make Rowley's ratafia.

After a decent effort during peach season that year, I gathered up enough kernels to make a scaled down version of the recipe Rowley used from the Picayune's Creole Cook Book from 1910:
Peach Kernel Ratafia
• 1/3 oz Peach Kernels
• 5 1/3 oz Brandy
• 3 1/3 oz Sugar
• 2 2/3 oz Water
Pound the kernels along with some of the stones and steep them for a month in brandy. Add syrup made from sugar and water, mix, filter, and bottle.
Unfortunately, the bottle of ratafia sat on the shelf for over a year until this event. The other thing that has sat around gathering dust is a box of powdered drink packets from my parents' house that Andrea and I rescued. While there is no date stamped, my guess is that they are from the late 1960s to mid 1970s. One of these glorious packets is for a Pink Squirrel. Pink Squirrels when mixed without a powdered packet require crème de noyau, so everything seemed to fall into place here.

Gary Regan in The Joy of Mixology traced the Pink Squirrel back to the 1966 edition of Old Mr. Boston and he claimed that the drink was still going strong when he bartended at New York's Drake's Drum in the mid 1970s. Gary provided the recipe as:
Pink Squirrel
• 1 oz Crème de Noyau
• 1 oz White Crème de Cacao
• 1 oz Cream
Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
Made like this, the drink was not pink for our liqueur was not artificially colored, but it had a wonderful almondy and vanilla nose from the infusion. The sip was sweet and creamy, and the swallow was almondy and chocolate. Overall, it had the format of an Alexander and made for a decent dessert cocktail.
The scarier prospect was the Holland House mix that was possibly as old as I am. Here are the instructions and please note the packet's ingredients.
Pink Squirrel
• 1 1/2 oz Milk or Half & Half
• 1 tsp Sugar
• 1 Packet
• 1 1/2 oz Vodka
Shake or blend with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass. I stirred sugar, packet, and cream until dissolved. Added rest of ingredients and ice, shook, and strained into a cocktail glass.
Ingredients of Packet: sugar, natural flavors, artificial flavors, silicon dioxide, xanthan gum, artificial color.
The strangest part about this Pink Squirrel was that it smelled like Strawberry Quik. It was not almondy or chocolaty in the least. It was similarly creamy; however, it was not as sweet as expected despite additional sugar being added to a packet that listed sugar as its first ingredient. Just like it smelled, the swallow presented a very chemical Strawberry Quik taste. After a few sips shared between Andrea and me, this drink got sinked. Perhaps a better way to demonstrate the Pink Squirrel of that era would be to purchase bottom shelf liqueurs, but then I would have been stuck with them unless I somehow located nips of noyau or bombed the bottles later as a "gift" at a party.
Definitely, made with decent liqueurs in Alexander format, the Pink Squirrel is passable. It lacks the complexity of the Golden Cadillac, but the aroma of the ratafia made the experience worth while. Thank you to Jacob for reviving a dusty relic, and to Paul Clarke for helping me raid my parents' liquor cabinet again this month.

Friday, November 18, 2011

journey through the night

2 oz Tru Organic Gin
1 1/4 oz Plymouth Sloe Gin
1/4 oz Maraschino Liqueur
1/2 oz Lime Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

On Thursday last week after the Science of Cocktails lecture at Harvard, a few of us caught a nightcap at Russell House Tavern. When I first saw the Journey Through the Night a few months ago, I inquired about the proportions for I was wondering whether it was an equal parts Last Word variant. Alas, it was not and my attention was drawn away to other tempting libations on the menu on my next few visits. That night it called out to me again, and I answered. While the name reminded me of Louis-Ferdinand Céline's Journey to the End of the Night, it may be named after a book by Dutch author Anne de Vries. However, I did not have a chance to ask what inspired bartender Kyle Powell when he created it.
The Journey Through the Night showcased the Tru Organic Gin's aroma along with some Maraschino and sloe berry notes. The sip presented the fruitiness of the sloe gin and lime, and the swallow ended rather crisp and dry with gin flavors followed by Maraschino and additional lime notes on the aftertaste.


1 oz Berkshire Mountain Distillers Ragged Mountain Rum
1 oz Ron Bermudez Rum
1 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Honey Syrup
1/2 oz Falernum
1 dash Bittermens Tiki Bitters

Shake with ice and double strain into a cocktail coupe glass. Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.

For my second drink at Eastern Standard, I was drawn to the Chappaquiddick on the Tikisms section of the menu. It was described as a Daiquiri variation, and its falernum reminded me of the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club. I was a little surprised that they would name a drink after the location of a famous dark political incident, so I asked bartender Naomi Levy why the drink was called that. She explained that Kevin Martin created the drink and how he was inspired by the beauty and tranquility of the Japanese gardens on the island. To Kevin, it was the closest to an island paradise as one could get in Massachusetts.
The nutmeg garnish contributed greatly to the drink's aroma along with lime and later clove notes as well. The sip was an elegant balance of honey and lime akin to an Air Mail, and the swallow presented the rum, falernum's clove, and Tiki bitters flavors. As the Chappaquiddick warmed up, it turned a little tarter on the balance.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


1 1/2 oz Becherovka Liqueur
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
3/4 oz Spiced Syrup (*)
1 Egg White

Shake once without ice and once with. Double strain into a rocks glass and garnish with Fee's Whiskey Barrel Aged Bitters.
(*) Contains star anise, clove, and cinnamon.
Wednesday last week, Andrea and I ventured over to Eastern Standard for dinner. For my first drink, I requested the Kyselý from bartender Kevin Martin. Kevin explained that kyselý means "sour" in Czech, and this drink was akin to the Becherovka version of a Pisco Sour. The drink appeared in the egg section of the menu which had the humorous warning of "consuming raw eggs may increase your risk of being held in high regard by the bar!" For egg-fearers, the Eastern Standard classic, the Metamorphosis -- the Becherovka Bee's Knees with honey and lemon, was also on the menu. The Kyselý began with a spiced aroma that contained cinnamon, star anise, and clove notes. The spice continued in the sweet lemon sip with cinnamon and in the swallow with clove and star anise.

pequod sour

Juice of 1/2 Lemon (1/2 oz Lemon Juice)
One-half spoon Sugar (1 tsp)
Two sprigs Mint
One-half Water (3/4 oz)
One jigger Whisky (1 1/2 oz Sazerac 6 Year)

Stir juice, water, mint, and sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Add whiskey and stir again. I opted to remove the mint and pour into a glass. The original recipe calls for garnishing with fruit but I went with a fresh mint sprig instead. This is a room temperature drink.

Two Tuesdays ago, I was flipping through the Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book and spotted another room temperature drink since the Creole Lady I found there last time was so delightful. While most room temperature drinks are spirits based, the Pequod Sour incorporates citrus into the mix. Pequod was the name of Captain Ahab's fictitious whaling ship in Herman Melville's Moby Dick and derived from the Pequot Indian tribe that inhabited parts of New England not terribly far from where the Waldorf-Astoria stands in New York.
The Pequod Sour presented a rye and mint aroma that led into a somewhat tart malt and lemon sip. The drink smoothed out on the swallow and showcased the rye's barrel notes and ended with mint. Overall, the Pequod Sour was simple but elegant, and the addition of water certainly aided in softening the drink.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

los muertos

1 1/2 oz Blanco Tequila (Espolón)
1 oz Sweet Vermouth (Vya)
1 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Grapefruit Marmalade (Mediterranean Organic Pink)

Shake with ice and double strain into a Double Old Fashioned glass full of fresh ice. Garnish with a grapefruit zest.

Two weekends ago, I finally spotted and purchased a jar of grapefruit marmalade at Harvest Co-op in Central Square so I could make a recipe that appeared in the TastingTable Best Cocktails of 2011 list. The Los Muertos was created by Alex Smith of Gitane's in San Francisco. Beside the marmalade, there was the pairing of sweet vermouth and lime which reminded me of the Fig Leaf Cocktail, but instead of rum, this drink was tequila based. Or perhaps with the dual citrus components and the sweet vermouth, it later reminded me a little of the whiskey-based Oriental.
The Los Muertos began with a grapefruit aroma that was punctuated by the tequila's agave notes. The sip showcased the citrus elements with a pleasing grapefruit and lime flavor, and the swallow went more vegetal with tequila and vermouth notes. When I first saw the recipe, it looked like it needed more sugar especially with our grapefruit marmalade; while the drink was indeed on the tart side, it was refreshingly so. Andrea commented that the Los Muertos was "smooth... all the flavors are very rounded" which I attribute in part to the effect of the marmalade's pectin.

bourbon milk punch

1 1/2 oz Four Roses Bourbon
1 1/2 oz Milk
1/2 oz Diplomatico Rum
1/2 oz Cinnamon Syrup
2 dash Housemade Aromatic Bitters

Shake with ice and strain into a Highball glass containing fresh ice. Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.

The second drink I had at Deep Ellum two Sundays ago was the Bourbon Milk Punch which Andrea enjoyed last time we were there. Milk Punches of this sort appear in Jerry Thomas' 1862 Bartenders Guide: A Bon Vivant's Companion and became popular brunch drinks especially in New Orleans. More modern versions often go the vanilla-flavored route, but the Deep Ellum took the cinnamon path. The one bartender Jennifer Salucci made me began with a nutmeg aroma than preceded the sip full of the milk's richness and the aged rum's caramel notes. The swallow then presented the Bourbon, cinnamon, and the bitters' spice flavors, and I was quite impressed at how well the whiskey and cinnamon balanced each other in intensity.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

the trenton

1 3/4 oz Laird's Applejack
1/2 oz Cinnamon Syrup
1/2 oz Cardamaro
1/4 Cinzano Sweet Vermouth
2 dash Herbsaint
2 dash Housemade Aromatic Bitters
2 dash Peychaud's Bitters

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

Two Sundays ago, Andrea and I went over to Deep Ellum for drinks. The first cocktail I had was the Trenton that recently appeared on their menu. After having the combination of apple brandy and Cynar with the Michigander, I was ordering a drink made with applejack and Cardamaro. Instead of Cynar's artichokes, this Italian liqueur is made with cardoon, which is a relative of artichokes, along with blessed thistle and other botanicals. I wrote about Cardamaro in a post about Russell House Tavern's Sacrilege, a drink which had a similar structure to the Michigander with its lemon juice and honey syrup. To bolster this liqueur and the applejack, the Trenton included a variety of other spiced and herbal elements including cinnamon syrup and Herbsaint.
The Trenton that bartender Jennifer Salucci made for me presented an herbal aroma from the Cardamaro, a grape one from the sweet vermouth (or perhaps the Cardamaro's wine base), and orange oils from the twist. As the drink warmed up, the Herbsaint's anise scent soon entered into the equation. While the sip was mostly from the applejack, the swallow was rather complex with Cardamaro and cinnamon flavors at the beginning and anise notes from the Herbsaint and Pechaud's Bitters at the end.

the michigander

1 oz Laird's Bonded Apple Brandy
1 oz Cynar
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
3/4 oz Honey Syrup (2:1) (*)

Shake with ice and strain into a Double Old Fashioned glass with ice. Garnish with a grapefruit twist.
(*) Our honey syrup was made with Mike Graney's honey from Jamaica Plain, MA, and available at Sherman Market in Somerville and elsewhere. I wrote about one of his honeys in the post on Bergamot's Honey Bearer drink.

A short while ago, I was reminded by Rumdood of a drink one of his fellow bartenders at 320 Main created. Rumdood posted a link to the 320 Main blog that made reference to the first place I saw it, Cocktail Musings' Mixology Monday post back in June. The drink was called the Michigander created by Jason Schiffer as he missed his home state. Jason explained, "My favorite time of year is Fall. I get nostalgic about the chill in the air, the earthiness of burning leaves, and the sweet smells of apple cider." Though we are in New England, the Michigander seemed like the perfect drink on an autumnal night two Saturdays ago.
The Michagander's nose was a balance of bright grapefruit oil notes and dark herbal Cynar ones. The sip was sweet and floral from the honey and this worked rather well with the lemon and apple flavors. Next, the swallow presented the Cynar herbal notes in conjunction with some earthier honey flavors. While apple brandy and Cynar seems like such a natural combination, the only other drink I have had it in is the Rosemary's Baby from the first Rogue Beta Cocktails book.

Monday, November 14, 2011

you'll shoot your eye out

2 oz Aged Rum (Old Monk)
1/2 oz Becherovka
1/2 oz Benedictine
1/4 oz Cinnamon Syrup (BG Reynolds)
3 dash Angostura Orange Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass or a rocks glass with a large ice cube. Garnish with an orange twist.

After the Expatriate two Fridays ago, I began to flip through the most recent issue of Imbibe Magazine and spotted some interesting recipes in their spiced drinks section. One that sounded appealing and did not require any kitchen time on our part seemed to be A Christmas Story reference, namely You'll Shoot Your Eye Out. The drink was created by Mathias Simonis of Distil in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and featured a bounty of spice notes from Becherovka, Benedictine, and cinnamon syrup. Since I opted for Old Monk Rum which is infused with vanilla, everything including the bitters contributed an herbal or spice element here.
The cocktail presented a bright orange oil aroma that was countered by dark rum notes. The rum's rich caramel aspect dominated the sip, and this gave way to a swallow containing cinnamon, vanilla, clove, and orange in addition to other herbal flavors. Andrea commented that this combination would make an excellent hot drink. I, however, found the drink a touch on the sweet side and wished I had gone the rocks glass with large cube for over time the ice melt's dilution would pleasantly cut the sweetness.

:: shakin' it up review ::

Last night was the Greater Boston Beverage Society's Shakin' It Up! event at the House of Blues. The evening was a fundraiser and prequel to the Boston Cocktail Summit, replete with seminars and parties, occurring in early October next year. The Greater Boston Beverage Society is the brainchild of Jamie Walsh of Stoddard's and Alexei Beratis from Of the Spirits Beverage Consulting as a means of elevating the Boston scene akin to Manhattan and Portland with their respective cocktail weeks. The photo above is how I was greeted by Todd Richman of Sidney Frank Importing Co. once I entered the first of two floors of the space. There was a pretty wide representation of spirits at the booths from the cultish Fernet Branca to the popular favorite of Jameson. Besides drinks, there were photo booths and swag give aways including the Fernet Wheel of Fortune.
One of the highlights was the bartender battle with teams representing each side of the river. The Boston side consisted of Domingo-Martín Barreres of Market, Naomi Levi of Eastern Standard, Tyler Wang of No. 9 Park, and Jess Li of Citizen, and the Cambridge side showcased Kelly Unda of Harvest, Sabrina Kershaw of Noir, Aaron Butler of Russell House Tavern, and Tony Iamunno of Grafton Street. The competition was a combination of drink trivia for control of the mixing followed by the question-answerer crafting the classic cocktail to be judged by Brother Cleve. Major props go to Aaron Butler who had the mindfulness to bring an Oxo Double Jigger up on stage with him. Some of the drinks made were the Ward 8 (Tyler), Sidecar (Aaron), Sazerac (Sabrina), and Ramos Gin Fizz (Naomi). The competition was close, but the Cambridge side missing a critical question cost them the event, and the Boston side walked away with the $500 prize.

I garnered a bit of gossip that night too. Joe Fee of Fee Brothers was there as a sponsor of the event, and he spoke of the new bitters flavor, Fee's Gin Barrel-Aged Orange Bitters, that should be out in March of 2012. Joe commented that many bars were using a 50:50 mix of his West Indian Orange Bitters and Regan's, and he wanted to created something that split the difference. He acknowledged that his West Indian Orange Bitters are a bit sweet, but it is his grandfather's recipe and he was not going to change that. Instead, he created these to be drier, spicier, and aged in barrels previously containing Old Tom Gin. Also, I spoke with Ryan McGrale about the soon-to-open Hawthorne and he gave me a photo preview on his iPhone. The bar seems to be modeled after Death & Co. and other New York City bars where most of the seating is away from the bar. Due to the constraints of the space, there will be a 12 person or so bar in the front room with a communal long table right behind it, and a satellite bar in the side room that will have a more limited menu. Around the rest of the space are lots of couches, comfy chairs, and bookshelves full of art and hand-selected books. I also heard rumors about Patrick Sullivan's soon-to-open Brick & Mortar. Apparently, the menu will focus on vermouth-based and other stirred drinks with less focus on citrus; I have no problem with that concept if it is true.
My best of the event awards:
• Best Sample: Prichard's Rye Whiskey with a close second of Downslope Wine Barrel Aged Rum, both distributed by Origin Beverage Co.
• Best Swag: A Fernet Branca shirt! When I spun the wheel I swear it landed more on tattoo, but the rep was quite generous and asked what size I wore.
• Most Suprising Combo: Jägermeister and root beer?! I had my doubts that it would be too sweet, but it worked well with a bounty of herbal notes. Gary Regan would probably approve of this.
• Strangest Photo Booth: Beefeater Gin featuring girls dressed up in Carnivale outfits. Apparently, the British empire stretches further than I thought.
• Best Booth Personality: Kraken Rum's deep sea diver as pictured above.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


1 1/2 oz Cocchi Americano
1 oz Laird's Bonded Apple Brandy
1/2 oz Lustau Amontillado Sherry
2 dash Celery Bitters (Homemade)

Stir with ice and strain into a rocks glass containing a big ice cube. Garnish with an orange twist.
On Friday night before dinner, I decided to make the Expatriate that I had spotted in TastingTable's best cocktails of 2011 article. The recipe was created by Ciaran Wiese, the bar manager at Scott & Co. in Tucson, Arizona, and was described as a "fall-friendly harmony of apéritif wines, applejack and bitters." Since I was a fan of Ciaran's Old New York Cocktail, I was definitely willing to give this one a go. In the drink, the scent of the orange oils from the twist joined the citrussy wine aromas of the Cocchi Americano. The sip was fruit-driven with a combination of apple, citrus, and grape flavors, and the swallow showcased the sherry's nuttiness that came across almost as a cola-like flavor. Finally, the celery notes from the bitters appeared at the end to round off the drink on an slightly more herbal note.

Friday, November 11, 2011

mata va'ha

3/4 oz Amber Rum (Don Q Gold)
3/4 oz White Rum (Don Q Cristal)
3/4 oz Kümmel (Helbing)
3/4 oz Pineapple Juice
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Passion Fruit Syrup (BG Reynolds)

Shake with ice and strain into a rocks glass filled with crushed ice. Carefully ignite and float a 1/4 oz of 151 proof rum (El Dorado) Blue Blazer style.

Last week for Thursday Drink Night on the Mixoloseum chatroom, the theme revolved around a recent incident in the South Pacific. On the island of Nuku Hiva, the charred remains of a German adventurer were found and people blamed the indigenous people who have had a history of performing human sacrifice. Perhaps there was intrigue involved in this unrelated to the natives or perhaps old habits die hard. Regardless, the theme involved making Tiki drinks using at least one German ingredient; the incorporation of fire was indeed a plus. Since I was out at the No. 3 Gin event that night (although I did catch the tail end of the TDN event when I returned home), I prepared my recipe in advance and emailed it to SeanMike of Scofflaw's Den to post.

For a German ingredient, I selected kümmel which worked so well in the pair of rather related rum drinks, the Lupe Velez and Kingston Heights. In place of those two drinks' orange juice and allspice dram, I utilized pineapple juice, lime juice, and passion fruit syrup to round out the recipe. The flaming aspect was ignited overproof rum dripped from a metal jigger; perhaps increasing the rum from a 1/4 to a 1/2 ounce would allow the spirit to burn longer, but the result was still effective as shown in the photo to the right. Lastly, for a name, I called the drink the Mata Va'ha after the islanders' yearly Eyes Open festival that they hold in December.

The Mata Va'ha began with the aroma of the burned but still potent overproof rum that was floating on top of the drink. While the first sip or two contained a lot of this strong rum flavor, it later gave way to sweet lime notes in later sips. The pineapple, passion fruit, and kümmel's caraway and other spice notes pleasantly rounded out the swallow.

:: science of cocktails ::

Last night I attended a lecture at Harvard University hosted by Dave Arnold, faculty of the French Culinary Institute and one of the bloggers for Cooking Issues, and Harold McGee, a scientist and author of some seminal books about the chemistry of food and cooking. I had previously heard Dave speak at Tales of the Cocktail's "Science of Shaking" seminar back in 2009 and he did cover some of that material last night. I was familiar Harold McGee through his writing, particularly On Food & Cooking, and I discussed some of his work in my notes about eggs post.

Dave started the talk by focusing on juice clarification and carbonation. The process of clarifying fruit juices via agar agar gelling followed by centrifugation (other compounds and processes work well too) removes a lot of the color and cloudiness; with that removal is a loss of flavor including bitterness. For carbonation, clarification of fruit juices is necessary to avoid horrible foaming problems. In a similar rationale, the particulates in citrus juice are necessary to give the desired texture to citrus drinks during shaking. As I will mention in a bit, these particulates can trap air, and removing the particulates can control the gaseous components in the liquid better.

The other process for clarification that was discussed does not require a centrifuge. While Dave encouraged bartenders to own centrifuges, namely a 3 liter scale one with 4 swinging buckets, they can run $8-10,000 new but can be had for $1-2,000 used (or $500-1000 used and broken if you are a fixer-upper type). Instead, there are wine fining technologies that use ionic charges to pick up particulates and precipitate them through gravity alone. Chitosan was one of his preferred compounds; it is made of chitin from the shells of shrimp or other crustaceans and contains multiple positive charges to bind things. In conjunction with Kieselsol which has multiple negative charges, it will strip out these bitter components and particulates in fruit juices without the need of a centrifuge. Dave did say that he was searching for vegetarian options to recommend. Both of these compounds can be bought at wine making shops.

With the topic of carbonating drinks, Dave warned bartenders to drop the alcohol concentration in drinks for two reasons. One is that people generally drink carbonated beverages faster and the other is that carbonation can increase the perception of alcohol which can be unpleasant to some. For carbonation systems, Dave recommended getting a tank and regulator system set to 40 psi; the whole rig can be bought for around $150. The other option is using chargers which can get expensive at 75 cents per tube (versus $15 to fill a large tank) and pricey if multiple carbonation cycles are required. The first part of carbonation should be the removal of air since air is the enemy of carbonation as it encourages foaming. Options are squeezing out (if using a plastic soda bottle system), pulling a vacuum, or adding a blanket of CO2. Multiple rounds of carbonation (upwards of 3-4) will help. In between rounds, the number of nucleation sites for foaming will be depleted. Clarification of fruit juices will help remove many of these nucleation sites as mentioned above. The four points to improve carbonation were: colder, clarification, air removal, multiple rounds of carbonation.

Since carbon dioxide is more soluble in alcohol than in water, more CO2 is needed. Why? Because the tongue cannot detect air in solution but only gases leaving the liquid. For the same feeling on the tongue, there needs to be more gas pressure.

Harold McGee took over as Dave set off to make drinks for the room. Harold spoke about alcohol and the biological purposes for microbes to make it -- namely to poison off competitors from eating their food sources. Most bacteria cannot take more than a percent or two of alcohol save for acetobacter (see the notes about shrubs post). Next, Harold moved on to the strange chemical qualities of ethanol as compared to water and how much stranger things get when the two are mixed. The first demonstration was mixing 250 mL of water with 250 mL of ethanol. Both started at room temperature of 21.4°C, but after mixing, the volumes were less than the expected 500 mL (closer to 490 mL) and warmer than expected at 27.9°C. While diluting liquor warms it up, Harold assured the room that the cooling effect of ice would easily make this change negligible. In a chart of the various difference of the density, boiling and melting points, and the like of water and ethanol, Harold focused on two important differences: vapor pressure and surface tension. Ethanol has a higher vapor pressure meaning that it wants to leave as a gas more, and water has a higher surface tension meaning it is attracted more to other water molecules (great molecular stickiness). With these differences along with boiling point, distillation can be achieved.

When water and alcohol are mixed, there are other changes besides volume and temperature. First, the mixture becomes much more viscous than either of the starting components such that it gives a greater mouthfeel. Relating to the volume differences, the minimum occurs at 80% alcohol due to how the alcohol interacts with the water molecules. The hydrophobic end of ethanol molecules will interact and fill the holes in between water molecules and will increase the efficiency of molecular packing. Things got a bit technical with nuclear magnetic resonance data showing the different ways ethanol and water can interact (3E-H2O and E-6H2O), and Harold commented that some people believe that these difference affect vodka flavor. The impurities would effect which interactions are favored and can affect mouthfeel and flavor.

In terms of aroma, alcohol molecules can cluster aroma molecules via ethanol's hydrophobic end. This process isolates these molecules and protects them from our senses. In diluting the spirits, the ethanol concentration drops and these aroma molecules are less happy in aqueous solution and volatize so we can detect them.

Dave took over with the science of shaking versus stirring. For a detailed explanation, I will direct you to one of his articles. The main points are:
• 99% of chilling power of ice comes from the melting process; initial temperature of the ice matters less.
• There is no cooling without dilution, and no dilution without cooling (assuming the ice is in the drink).
• The more water that is trapped in crenulations in wet ice, the more dilution there will be without cooling. "Crap ice" from a machine will work just as well if the trapped liquid water is stripped away.
• Ethanol helps to drop the freezing point of the solution so sub-0°C/32°F temperatures are possible.
• Ice size in shaking does not matter as all equilibrates in terms of dilution and chilling in around 12 seconds. All styles fall with in a 1-2° range.
• More important than shaking technique is straining technique. The amount of ice shards that pass through will effect temperature and dilution.
• Stirring is less efficient so ice size matters.
• To get consistency in stirred drinks, the time, size of ice, rate of stirring matter greatly.
• Stirring produces warmer but less diluted drinks than shaking.
• While liquid nitrogen can cool down drinks, it is harder to use on a small scale. If used, adding it to the glass first will allow better mixing. Adding it after, and the liquid nitrogen will remain on the surface more.
• Liquid nitrogen is great for chilling glassware though (see my 3 part series on the effect of glass temperature on the drink for why cold glassware is important).
There was a demonstration on the effect of red hot pokers to make Colonial era drinks using a high proof spirit and a low proof one like beer, cider, or wine (in addition to sugar and perhaps a citrus element and salt). Instead of giving great details, please see these two New York Times articles about the red hot poker and recipes (including the stove top version). Additional notes are as follows:
• The basic premise behind the process was taking one molecule (sugar) without an aroma and converting it into hundreds or thousands of molecules, some of which have aromas.
• As things are heated, they get more bitter and burnt so more sugar is needed to compensate.
• Remember to lower the alcohol concentration for heat increases our detection of alcohol.
• Hot drinks are better served in a wide bowl like a tea cup to dissipate the alcohol aroma better. Irish Coffee mugs are too narrow and concentrate stinging alcohol aromas.
The last part was about emulsifiers and stabilizers to make oil-based simple syrups. Instead of fat washing which can capture a subset of the flavor components, this process captures them all as well as including the rich mouthfeel of the fats and oils. Gum arabic helps to emulsify oils and xanthan gum prevents these oil droplets from coalescing. The combination can be found in Tic Gums products like their 301S product. Using these in conjunction with a stick blender will allow oils to be put into syrups and buttered rums from having the fat float to the surface. As a demonstration, Dave and Harold made a drink using a pumpkin seed oil syrup; for every 1 1/2 oz, there was 1 oz of 1:1 simple syrup and 1/2 oz oil, and this added a glorious flavor and thickness to the drink.

Dave ended the talk by giving a big hint for drink creators. If a drink tastes flat, try adding a pinch of salt before you sink it in frustration.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


1 1/2 oz Old Raj 110 Gin
1 oz Alvear Solera 1927 Pedro Ximénez Sherry
1/2 oz Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth
1/2 oz Clarified Lime Juice

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a faux lime twist (see text).
For my last drink at Clio, bartender Todd Maul offered me the R.L. as a nightcap. The drink brought together rich, sweet grape notes from the Pedro Ximénez sherry and Carpano Antica and cut them with an overproof gin and clarified lime juice. For a garnish, Todd prepared "twists" using lime juice thickened with xanthan gum, painted on sheets, and frozen before being cut into strips. Unlike traditional lime twists, the citrus oils did not fill the aroma and instead the gin was able to shine through. The sip was a rich grape flavor mostly from the Pedro Ximénez, and addition sherry notes appeared on the swallow along with the gin botanicals. Finally, the clarified lime juice provided a rather pleasant aftertaste here. As the drink warmed up, the faux twist began to soften and donated an extra citrus note and intriguing feel when swallowed.

the hunter

2 oz Sage-infused Santa Teresa Rum
3/4 oz Honey-Bourbon-Lemon Syrup
3/4 oz Sparkling Cider
1/2 oz Clarified Apple Cider
1 dash Willet 110 Rye
1 dash Smoking Ban Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a rocks glass flavored with cinnamon smoke and containing a large ice cube. Garnish the ice cube with mace, flower petals, and a small sage leaf.

After the crowded No. 3 Gin event at Eastern Standard, I decided to relax at the bar at Clio a few blocks away. One of the drinks that bartender Todd Maul wanted to show me was the Hunter where he strove to recreate a Fall afternoon in a glass. The last time he tried to capture a seasonal feel like this was in April with the Spring in the Afternoon. The similarities between the two drinks included a botanically infused rum. For the Spring drink, it was a fresh and clean fava bean leaf, and here it was an dark, earthy, and spiced sage leaf. Another was the smoke-flavored glass; for the drink in April, Todd utilized a smoldering dried black loomi lime, and here it was cinnamon.
The smoke worked rather well here to fill the Hunter's nose, and unlike many smoked drinks, there was not an acrid burnt taste on the sip. Instead, the sip portrayed a very apple flavor that was complemented by the honey and citrus notes from the syrup. The honey continued on in the swallow where it mingled with the rum and whiskey elements. With the darker flavors, the apple and honey notes, and the smoke reminiscent of burning piles of leaves, the Hunter did indeed capture many of the elements I associate with Autumn.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

mind the gap

1 1/2 oz No. 3 Gin
3/4 oz Grapefruit Juice
3/4 oz Martini & Rossi Sweet Vermouth
1/2 oz Cardamom Syrup
1/4 oz Simple Syrup
2 dash Angostura Bitters

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail coupe glass.

Last Thursday, I attended the No. 3 Gin release party at Eastern Standard. After having one of the three cocktails, the Mind the Gap which I will discuss in a moment, I had a chance to speak with Dennis Carr, the VP of Sales from Anchor Distilling, and Gregory Fitch, the local rep from Preiss Imports. While discussing the gin which they represent and distribute, they acquired me a tasting sample in addition to describing the gin's genesis.

The botanicals in the gin are described as three fruits, three spices. The fruits are juniper, orange peel, and grapefruit peel, and the spices are coriander, angelica root, and cardamom. While there is a lot of implication that the recipe is stripped down and simplified, it is nowhere as minimalistic as Death's Door Gin which in juniper, coriander, and fennel seeds, but less than say Beefeater which has 9. From the first whiff of No. 3, there is no mistaking that this is a gin. In crafting the spirit, the distillers did not shy away from juniper like many of the newer gins on the market like New Amsterdam. One of the other notes that came across rather robustly was a delightful grapefruit peel that was stronger than the orange peel one; indeed, the grapefruit here was much more intense than in Beefeater 24. The coriander notes helped to supplement the citrus flavors and also donated peppery notes that worked well with the cardamom. Angelica root is the 6th ingredient, and this earthy note has always been difficult for me to pick out; it has been described as a botanical which functions to tie the others together. I am not sure which of the six ingredients reminded me a lot of Bombay Sapphire, but it was the lingering herbal clean note; it is a note that I associate more with Gin & Tonics than cocktails for some reason.

The name No. 3 has a lot of symbolism for the brand. The easy answers are the 3 fruits and the 3 spices, the event was held on the 3rd of the month, and the 3 drink cocktail list. The gin was created for Berry Bros. and Rudd who are London's oldest wine and spirits merchant with 3 centuries of experience (actually 313 years). The real No. 3 relates to their address on St. James's Street in London. The gin itself is not made in the UK, but in Schiedam, Holland, where they make it to Berry Bros. and Rudd's specifications on pot stills. So far I have seen the gin in a few liquor stores around town including Ball Square Liquors in Somerville and Marty's in Newtonville for $40 per 750mL.
The first cocktail I tried was the Mind the Gap that bartender Kevin Martin made for me. The drink's name pays tribute to the merchant's London address through a reference to their subway system's warning. The recipe was crafted to accent the gin's grapefruit and cardamom notes. With no twist garnish, the Mind the Gap's aroma was strikingly juniper forward. The sip offered the grapefruit and the sweet vermouth's grape flavors, and the swallow presented the gin's juniper, the syrup's cardamom, and the Angostura's spices. Of all the combinations, I was most impressed at how well the grapefruit and cardamom flavors interacted here.


2 oz Beefeater 24 Gin
1/2 oz Rothman & Winter Orchard Pear
1 barspoon (1/8 oz) Green Chartreuse
1 dash Regan's Orange Bitters

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

While flipping through the PDT Cocktail Book after dinner last Wednesday, I spotted a drink that I had been curious about since Spring of 2009. The drink was the Statesman that appeared on the Bourbon and Branch cocktail menu, and I discovered it via Google while searching for other things to do with our Rothman & Winter Orchard Pear Liqueur besides the Prickly Pear and a few other drinks. I went so far as to write Bourbon and Branch for the recipe, but alas, they ignored my request. But thanks to Jim Meehan, this recipe created by Erick Castro in 2008 was made available to the public. I was wrong in my first estimation of a 2:1/2:1/2 ratio for the Green Chartreuse here is more of an accent than a major component.
The lemon oils from the twist began the drink and prepared the mouth for the fruity sip of orange and pear flavors. Next, the swallow featured the gin's and Green Chartreuse's herbal notes. Together, the pear and Chartreuse almost worked like a vermouth to shape the gin-heavy drink into something akin to a Martini. Andrea commented that the Statesman was a good showcase for the Beefeater 24 for the components accentuated the gin's floral notes.

:: four boston bars to open soon ::

There is a lot of news and rumor brewing about 4 cocktail bars that are opening in the next few months in Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville. While some of this information is based on firsthand knowledge from the people involved, some of it is hearsay from Chowhound, Facebook, Twitter, or other. So take it with a grain of salt since I will abstain from fact checking and will confirm it all when I am drinking at their bars once they open.

Hawthorne, 500 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, Kenmore Square

With Eastern Standard's Jackson Cannon's recent bar program at Island Creek Oyster Bar still warm, he will be heading up a new bar located at the old Foundation Lounge space within the same Hotel Commonwealth building (long live the Rathskeller's liquor license!). With ICOB's focus being more about the food than the drink, the new Hawthorne has the opposite approach. Jackson has assembled what sounds like an all-star cast of characters to tend the bar including Scott Marshall (ex-Drink), Nicole Lebedevitch (ex-Eastern Standard), Ryan Lotz (ex-Lineage), Ryan McGrale (ex-FlatironNYC and No. 9 Park), and a bartender from Manhattan's Death & Co. Also, the general manager is purported to be Matthew Schrage who used to bartend at No. 9 Park before moving on to Menton.

Backbar, 9 Sanborn Court, Somerville, Union Square

When Journeyman restaurant opened around a year ago, they garnered a lot of press about the quality, creativeness, and presentation of their food. When we finally made it there for dinner, manager and co-owner Meg Grady-Troia spoke to us about how when they renewed their lease, the landlord forced them to take on the space behind the restaurant that previously housed offices with a separate entrance. Her idea was to open an adjoining bar to the restaurant that matched the same level of quality and presentation, and she picked our brains for possible bar managers. Meg's eventual score was Sam Treadway who left Drink to start and manage a hotel's bar program in Hawaii for a year. When we went to Journeyman the next time, Meg gave us a tour of the bar space mid-build out. The bar itself looked like it would seat 9 or 10 people, and the plan was to do bartender cart service at the tables along the wall. Food offerings at the bar would be less formal than the 3, 5, and 7 course dinners at the restaurant proper. I recently spoke with Sam, and he mentioned that Bryn Tattan of Drink and J.B. Bernstein of the Middlesex Lounge will be two of the four other bartenders at Backbar.

Hair of the Dog, 520 Columbus Avenue, Boston, South End

This bar located below Jae's is slated to open in mid-December under the direction of Ran Duan. I met Ran at Tales of the Cocktail this summer and got a sense of his cocktail taste when I toured some of the Barroom Brawl event with him. Ran has built up the bar program at Sichuan Garden II in Woburn from standard Chinese restaurant drinks to an impressive menu of classics cocktails as well as variations on old drinks like a beer-lightened Ramos Gin Fizz and new drinks like Beta Cocktails Gunshop Fizz. Given the Sichuan Garden's beer list, I am expecting decent hopsworthy offerings as well.

Brick & Mortar, 569 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, Central Square.

Taking over the Enormous Room's space will be Patrick Sullivan's new project that I heard was called Brick & Mortar. Patrick is best known for founding the legendary B-Side Lounge before moving on to develop the cocktail program for the Legal Sea Food chain. The only gossip I garnered was that Evan Harrison may be tending bar there; Evan recently left Deep Ellum to seek work on the other side of the river, and Andrea and I had guessed that this would be one of his options. Previous to Deep Ellum, we grew to love Evan's work at the Independent. The other bit of gossip I needed to confirm (two sources now) was that Misty Kalkofen of Drink, Green Street, and B-Side fame, will be leading the bar program there! Misty and Patrick used to work together back at the B-Side, so once again they are re-united. Apparently, the menu will focus on vermouth-based and other stirred drinks with less focus on citrus. Definitely this bar will be a welcome addition to the area and will help to solidify Central Square as a cocktail destination along with Green Street, Craigie on Main, and Rendezvous.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

board of directors

1 1/2 oz Noilly Prat Dry Vermouth
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Green Chartreuse
1/4 oz Honey Syrup (2:1)

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail coupe. I added a lemon twist.
For an aperitif as dinner was in the oven, I decided to make a recipe I had spotted in TastingTable's drink feature, namely the Board of Directors. The drink was created at Sable in Chicago and appeared on their spring and summer 2011 menus. With the majority of the drink being dry vermouth, it seemed like a good before dinner drink. The lemon twist garnish I added to the recipe offered up aromas that prepared the mouth for the honey and lemon sip. The swallow was sometimes dry vermouth followed by the Green Chartreuse, and other times these two ingredients seemed to merge into a cohesive flavor combination. Overall, the Board of Directors proved to be rather light and easy to drink, but perhaps it was a touch too sweet to be the quintessential aperitif. Andrea commented that the drink would make a good introduction to Green Chartreuse since the lower proof and the honey's softening effect made the balance rather gentle. Lastly, the lemon, honey, and herbal combination reminded me a little of Eastern Standard's Metamorphosis albeit with different herbal and spice elements.

backyard sour

1 oz Applejack
3/4 oz Peach-infused Brandy
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1/4 oz Amaro Meletti
1/4 oz Simple Syrup
1/8 oz Rothman & Winter Orchard Apricot
1 Egg White

Shake once without ice and once with ice. Double strain into a rocks glass containing 3 ice cubes. Garnish with freshly grated cinnamon.

Last Tuesday, Andrea and I stopped into Bergamot for a nightcap. For a drink, I asked bartender Paul Manzelli for the Backyard Sour that recently appeared on the menu. Paul explained that in his backyard growing up near Harvard Square and in bartender Kai Gagnon's old backyard in rural Connecticut, both had an apple and a peach tree each. In mixing these two fruit elements together, the Backyard Sour was born.
The Backyard Sour greeted me with an apple and cinnamon aroma, and the apple continued on into the sip where it mingled with the lemon. The swallow presented the peach flavors bolstered by the apricot liqueur and supplemented with a light complement of Meletti's herbal notes. With the peach and lemon flavors and the egg white smoothness, the Backyard Sour reminded me a lot of the Perfect Lady.

Monday, November 7, 2011

embassy club

1/4 jigger Cognac (1/2 oz Courvoisier VS)
1/4 jigger Rum (1/2 oz Plantation Panama 2007)
1/4 jigger Cointreau (1/2 oz)
1/4 jigger Lime Juice (1/2 oz)

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

Our second drink last Monday was the Embassy Club from Boothby's 1934 World Drinks And How To Mix Them. The recipe seemed rather intriguing for I had not heard of the name before; then it struck me that it was a Between the Sheets with lime instead of lemon juice (note: the original Between the Sheets called for a dash of lemon juice, but it is usually made as a more modern equal parts drink). A while back I wrote about a bunch of equal parts recipes that were variations on the Hoop La such as the Between the Sheets, and I was curious as to what a change in the citrus would do.
The aroma of the lemon twist and funky Panamanian rum set the tone for the Embassy Club. The citrussy sip showcased the lime and Cointreau, and the swallow brought forth a smooth Cognac flavor that blended well with the rum; moreover, the swallow ended a little tarter than the sip started. Andrea commented that she remembered the Between the Sheets being somewhat unremarkable, but the way the lime shaped the drink made this one quite notable. I had to agree that the lime added a lot more depth of flavor to the drink. Similarly, the Dover, a lime-laden Corpse Reviver #2 sans absinthe, brought the gin out differently than lemon. In addition, I found it interesting how the lemon in the Between the Sheets accented the Cognac more, while the lime here highlighted the rum.

north atlantic

1 1/2 oz Calvados (Morin Selection)
3/4 oz Madeira (Blandy's 5 Year Old Verdelho)
1/2 oz Benedictine
1/4 oz Angostura Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with an apple peel and freshly grated nutmeg.

For our first cocktail last Monday night, I read off a few recipes from the most recent issue of Imbibe Magazine. From that group, the North Atlantic appealed most to Andrea. The drink was created by Dan Greenbaum from the Beagle in Manhattan. Dan paired up apples and spice with a sweet acidic boost from the Madeira for a delightful Fall recipe.
The North Atlantic presented apple aromas from the apple brandy and the peel garnish that were spiced by the nutmeg and Angostura Bitters. The apple continued on in the sip where it mingled with the Madeira's grape flavor, and the swallow was rather herbal from the Benedictine and Angostura notes. The Angostura Bitters worked rather well with the sharp notes from the Madeira, and of course the Benedictine complemented the apple brandy as it did in the Plainfield Swing, Honeymoon Cocktail, Hayride, and other drinks.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

forty eight

1 1/2 oz Gin (Beefeater)
1/2 oz Dry Vermouth (Noilly Prat)
1/2 oz Apricot Brandy (Rothman & Winter)
1/2 oz Orange Curaçao (Senior Curaçao)
1 oz Lemon Juice

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

For a nightcap last Sunday, I found the Forty Eight in the Big Bartender's Book. The book's curators discovered it in the UKBG Guide to Drinks from 1953 and provided the history that it was created by Bart Nutt in 1948. The recipe reminded me of a gin and lemon instead of rum and lime Periodista so I was a bit intrigued.
The Forty Eight began with a lemony and gin aroma that proceeded into a slightly tart citrussy sip. The swallow showcased the apricot flavors along with additional lemon notes, and the drink finished with the gin and vermouth botanicals. Over time, the flavor balance became more lemony and herbal as the drink warmed up. With the dry vermouth, the Forty Eight reminded me more of a cross between a Claridge and a Darb instead of variation on the Periodista.

Friday, November 4, 2011

tobago & jerry

1 oz Tom & Jerry Batter (*)
1 oz Angostura Bitters
2 oz Hot Milk

Stir to mix in a pre-warmed small mug and garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.
(*) For instructions on how to prepare the batter, see this post.

With Saturday's nor'easter, we were greeted with our first snowfall of the year. And the first snow fall always marks the beginning of Tom & Jerry season albeit a month or more earlier than expected. One of the ideas I had been toying around with after trying the Cynar & Jerry and the Fernet & Jerry was pushing the envelop by making an Angostura Bitters-laden one. I opted for the Tobago & Jerry name instead of the Trinidad reference for it had a more similar sound to the original.
The Tobago & Jerry had a bounty of spice notes on the nose including nutmeg, clove, and allspice. The sip was sweet, creamy, rich, and spicy, and the swallow was replete with cinnamon, clove, and allspice notes along with a pleasant bitterness. Indeed, the Angostura worked rather well to complement and bolster the Tom & Jerry batter's winter spices. While the warmth of the drink intensified the flavors, the egg and milk functioned to really soften the balance and maintain it in the delicious zone.

little red lion

1/2 oz Raspberry Purée
1 oz Simple Syrup 1:1 (Jaggery Syrup)
3/4 oz Amber Rum (Appleton V/X)
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
3/4 oz Angostura Bitters

Shake with ice and strain.

After the Whirlpool Julep, I decided to make one of the Angostura 2011 Competition recipes that had me intrigued. Local hero Ezra Star of Drink was amongst the seven finalists, and one of her two cocktails was called the Little Red Lion. The drink was not a variation of the Red Lion itself, but it appeared to be more of a variation on Jerry Thomas' White Lion from 1862:
White Lion
• 1 tsp Sugar
• Juice of 1/2 Lime (include rind in mixing glass)
• 1 wineglass Santa Cruz Rum (2 oz)
• 1 tsp Curaçao
• 1 tsp Raspberry Syrup
Mix well, chill with shaved ice, and garnish with berries in season.
Despite the raspberry making Ezra's drink red to begin with, the addition of a healthy slug of Angostura surely intensified things.
The Little Red Lion began with raspberry and cherry notes from the purée and Angostura Bitters, respectively. The tart sip offered up raspberry, lemon, and rum flavors, and the dry swallow contained a bounty of spice notes including cinnamon and clove from the bitters with perhaps a lingering raspberry flavor on the otherwise clean finish. Despite the ounce of simple syrup, the Little Red Lion was more on the tart and dry side. Overall, the drink was pleasantly quirky and balanced, and the raspberry took the drink away from being dominated by the Angostura.