Friday, March 30, 2012


1/3 Rum (1 oz Plantation Barbados 5 Year)
1/3 Benedictine (1 oz)
1/6 Sweet Vermouth (1/2 oz Cocchi Vermouth di Torino)
1/6 Lemon Juice (1/2 oz)

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

Last Thursday, I delved into Hyman Gale's The How and When again and found the Supreme cocktail recipe. With rum, Benedictine, and lemon juice, it reminded me of the Rum Frisco that Scott Holliday made for me. In addition, the rum, Benedictine, vermouth, and citrus also conjured up the Tango #2; the one that we had was Wayne Curtis' variation using Cynar as the liqueur, and the Supreme prompted us to try the proper Benedictine version the next night.
The Supreme proffered a lemon oil and aged rum aroma. The fruity lemon and grape sip later gained caramel notes from the rum as the drink warmed up; moreover, the sip possessed a full mouthfeel without being particularly sweet as I first feared. The drink did dry out on the swallow that contained rum and Benedictine flavors and ended with a lingering herbal complexity.

joe bans you

2 oz Soberano Spanish Brandy
1 oz Lime Juice
3/4 oz Sangre y Trabajadero Oloroso Sherry
1/2 oz Orgeat

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. See text on how the drink is now served in an dried orgeat-rimmed wine glass.

For my second drink at Clio, I was lured in by the Joe Bans You for the combination of sherry, orgeat, and lime seemed like a winner. Bartender Todd Maul explained the drink's curious name. Joe, one of his patrons, used to work at the old liquor store in Harvard Square; Todd was amused at how Joe had to deal with a difficult person who was looking at the whiskeys in the store. Eventually, Joe had had enough, snapped, kicked the gentleman out, and banned him from the store. Surprisingly, this drink calls for Spanish brandy instead of whiskey of some sort, and I am sure an aged rum would not have been out of place with this combination either. Todd mentioned that he was drying down orgeat to garnish the drink; from pictures he later posted, the Joe Bans You is served in a wine glass with an orgeat-crusted rim.
The Joe Bans You began with a grapey aroma from the sherry and brandy. The grape continued on into the sip where the fruity wine flavors paired with the lime. Next, the swallow began with a nutty flavor from the oloroso sherry and orgeat and ended with the lime's crispness.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

mary's liquor cabinet

2 oz Tanqueray Gin
1 oz Gran Classico
1 oz Cocchi Americano
2 dash Wormwood Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass painted with two streaks of Lillet reduction paint (post-rotovapping, boiled down). Garnish with an orange twist.

Last Wednesday, Andrea and I dropped into the bar at Clio to visit bartender Todd Maul. While looking over the new menu, Todd mentioned that he remembered a conversation we had last time about how certain gins like Tanqueray are less used in classic cocktails and more for Gin & Tonics. Therefore, he suggested I try the drink, Mary's Liquor Cabinet, that he developed using that gin. Mary is one of the other bartenders at Clio, and this tribute along with the cheekily named Mary's Sock Drawer, were made as collegial jokes. Like the Dwight Street Book Club, Todd utilized a flavor paint technique from boiling down rotovapped wine product leftovers.
The orange twist offered up some fresh citrus notes to the grapefruit and gin aroma. The citrussy sip led into a Campari-like Grand Classico swallow along with gin and wormwood notes. The Grand Classico started as a faint flavor at the beginning of the swallow and its presence grew over time on the drink's finish.

kiss from heaven

1/3 Drambuie (1 oz)
1/3 Dry Vermouth (1 oz Noilly Prat)
1/3 Cognac (1 oz Courvoisier VS)

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
Tuesday last week, I found our nightcap, the Kiss from Heaven, in the 1940 cocktail book The How and When. With the spirit, dry vermouth, and Drambuie formula, the recipe reminded me of Flora's Own, except here the liquor was Cognac instead of gin. Once mixed, the Kiss from Heaven greeted me with an herbal aroma from the vermouth; once the drink warmed up a little, Drambuie's Scotch notes began to enter into the equation. The sip offered a rich honey flavor with a hint of malt, and the swallow initiated with the Cognac followed by herbal notes and a floral, almost minty finish.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

calla lily

1 1/2 oz Perucchi Dry Vermouth
1/2 oz Lillet Blanc
1/2 oz Benedictine
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
2 dash Herbsaint

Shake with ice and double strain into a wine glass.

On Monday night last week, Andrea and I stopped into Bergamot after dinner. For a drink, I selected the Calla Lily which was bartender Paul Manzelli's ode to spring. His goal was to create a vermouth-based cocktail to round out the menu, and he used the Chrysanthemum as a starting point. To the classic, he added a bounty of citrus notes from the Lillet and lemon juice.
The Calla Lily greeted my nose with an anise-laden Herbsaint aroma and an intriguing honey-like note perhaps from the Benedictine. The sip presented a lemon and citrus wine flavor that led into a swallow that showcased the Spanish dry vermouth and herbal Benedictine. While the drink ended with a light anise note on the end, relatively the Herbsaint seemed to participate more in the aromatic than the flavor aspect of the drink. Overall, the Calla Lily conjured up a light, aperitif-style Corpse Reviver #2 sort of feel.

[the leonetto]

2 oz Old Weller 7 Year Bourbon
3/4 oz Maurin Quina
1/2 oz Cardamaro
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a coupe glass. Twist an orange peel over the top and garnish with a Luxardo Maraschino cherry.

For my second cocktail at Hawthorne, bartender Ryan Lotz mixed me something reminiscent of Audrey Saunders' Little Italy. With Maurin Quina and Cardamaro for sweet vermouth and Cynar, this whiskey drink took the idea in a more fruity and less herbal direction. For a name, I dubbed it the Leonetto after Leonetto Cappiello, the Italian-born artist who drew the iconic Maurin Quina label and other famous alcohol-themed art work in Paris during the first few decades of the 20th century.
The cocktail began with an orange oil aroma that accented a grape-like undertone. The whiskey's malt combined with cherry and grape flavors on the sip. Next, the swallow started with Bourbon followed by bitter notes; at the end was a curious orange flavor that Ryan attributed to the Cardamaro more than residual oils from the twist.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


1 1/2 oz El Tesoro Reposado Tequila
1/2 oz Del Maguey Chichicapa Mezcal
1/2 oz Campari
1/2 oz Vanilla Syrup
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1 pinch Salt

Swizzle with crushed ice in a Highball glass. Top with more crushed ice, garnish with mint sprigs, and add a straw.

Two Sundays ago, Andrea and I ventured down to Kenmore Square to visit the Hawthorne. For a starter, bartender Ryan Lotz recommended his take on the Sidewinder he found in the new Mr. Boston Official Bartender's Guide. The drink was created by Brent Butler of the Blackbird in San Francisco; I wrote about Brent's Cortez the Killer around a month ago. Ryan's version on the drink was to double the mezcal quotient and remove the ginger beer aspect from the recipe.
The Sidewinder's mint garnish contributed greatly to the Swizzle's aroma. A sweet lime sip transitioned into a tequila swallow that ended with vanilla and bitter Campari notes. At first, the drink was not overly smoky from the mezcal or bitter from the Campari; I attributed this to the salt cutting back on these notes while Ryan suggested that it was the vanilla's mellowing effect. Later, the ice melt's dilution made the drink taste more smokey and agave driven.

violette fix

1 jigger Bacardi (1 1/4 oz Don Q Gold + 1/4 oz JM Rhum Ambré)
1/2 jigger Lemon Juice (3/4 oz)
3 dash Crème de Violette (3/8 oz Crème Yvette)
3 dash Grenadine (3/8 oz)

Shake with ice and strain into a rocks glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with a lemon twist and add a straw.
Two Saturdays ago, I was lured into a Fix recipe in Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars: 1903-1933. With floral notes from crème de violette and grassy ones from approximating pre-Castro Bacardi, the Violette Fix seemed perfect for spring. The drink began with a bright lemon oil bouquet that prepared the mouth for the sweet lemon and berry sip. The swallow started with rum notes containing a hint of grassiness that led into a violet flavor at the end. Indeed, I was impressed at how well the grenadine worked with the Crème Yvette both to complement its flavor and to soften it.

Monday, March 26, 2012

light and day

2 oz Plymouth Gin (Cold River)
1/2 oz Yellow Chartreuse
1/4 oz Maraska Maraschino Liqueur
1/4 oz Orange Juice
3 dash Peychaud's Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

After the South Slope, I kept with the late 2000s New York vibe with the Light and Day from Gary Regan's Bartender's Gin Compendium. The drink was created by Alexander Day when he was at Manhattan's Death & Co.; the book provided little insight into the creation of the recipe and whether it was named after a song by the Polyphonic Spree.
The Light and Day's nose showcased the Maraschino liqueur with some herbal notes that I attributed to the Yellow Chartreuse; this led into the lightly orange sip that contained some cherry fruit notes. The swallow began with a medley of the gin, Maraschino, and Yellow Chartreuse aspects and ended with Peychaud's Bitter's anise. Overall, the Light and Day was like a pleasantly fruited-up Alaska.

south slope

3/4 oz Beefeater Gin
3/4 oz Aperol
3/4 oz Lillet Blanc (Cocchi Americano)
1/2 oz Curaçao (Senior Curaçao)
1/2 oz Lemon Juice

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

Two Friday's ago, we started the cocktail hour with a modern recipe from the PDT Cocktail Book. The one that called out to us was the South Slope created by Michael Madrusan in 2007; Michael named the drink after the part of Brooklyn he was living in at the time. The recipe reminded me of an Unusual Negroni (Hendrick's Gin, Aperol, Lillet) crossed with a Chelsea Sidecar.
The South Slope greeted the senses with a lemony aroma from the twist. Next, the sip contained fruit elements of lemon, orange, and rhubarb, and the swallow offered gin and Aperol notes. As the drink warmed up, it became a bit tarter on the swallow.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

max's mistake

2 oz Plymouth Gin (Seagram's)
1 oz Lemon Juice
1 oz Passion Fruit Syrup (BG Reynolds)
1/2 oz Honey Syrup (1:1)
1 dash Angostura Bitters
2 oz Sparkling Lemonade (Rieme Pink Grapefruit Sparkling Limonade)

Blend with 8 oz of ice for 2-3 seconds and dump into a goblet. Top with fresh ice. Instead of using a blender, I shook all the ingredients with ice save for the sparkling lemonade. I then strained into a rocks glass filled with crushed ice and lemonade, topped with crushed ice, and added a straw and lemon peel garnish.
Wednesday last week, Andrea was fighting off a cold so she wanted something with a healthy dose of vitamin C. Within Jeffy Berry's Beach Bum Berry Remixed was the Max's Mistake which seemed to fit the bill. The drink was created by Martin Cate in 2005 when he was working at Trader Vic's in San Francisco. Part of the lore of the drink revolves around a mistake made in making a Starboard Light; I missed that connection when reading the recipe for the ingredients reminded of the Yardarm instead. Once made, Max's Mistake proffered a lemon oil and gin aroma. The lemon, grapefruit, and honey sip pleasantly shifted to passion fruit and gin on the swallow.

Friday, March 23, 2012

forgetful elephant

2 1/4 oz Booker's Bourbon
3/4 oz Luxardo Amaro Abano
1/2 oz Orgeat
1 pinch Smoked Salt

Stir with ice and strain into a rocks glass.

The other new drink on the No. 9 Park menu that caught my eye was the Forgetful Elephant, and bartender Tyler Wang gladly made me one. The name reminded me of the gin-based Elephants Sometimes Forget; with a healthy slug of overproof Bourbon, it was more likely that I, and not the elephant, would be doing the forgetting. When I inquired about the curious name, Tyler explained that bartender Ted Kilpatrick noted that it was strong and it tasted like peanuts, so he wanted to name it after an elephant.
The Amaro Abano's menthol note contributed greatly to the Forgetful Elephant's nose (or trunk?). The sip showcased the Bourbon's malt and the amaro's caramel notes, and the swallow offered up the whiskey's heat, the orgeat's nuttiness, and finally the amaro's menthol. While I did not detect the smoky aspect of the sea salt, the salt did function to mellow the amaro's bitter notes on the swallow.

storm chaser

1 oz Smith & Cross Rum
1 oz Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth
1 oz Cynar
1/2 oz Simple Syrup
1 Whole Egg
2 dash Bitter Science Fruitcake Bitters (*)

Shake once without ice and once with ice. Double strain into a rocks class.
(*) Contains dried fruits such as figs, cranberries, cherries, and apricots, and spices such as cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and mace infused in Bourbon.

On the way home after tasting the new gin formulations at GrandTen Distilling in South Boston two Tuesdays ago, I made a pit stop on the Red Line at Park Street Station. After a short delay, I was able to find a seat at the No. 9 Park bar where bartenders Tyler Wang and Brendan Mercure were presiding. For a first drink, I asked Tyler for the Storm Chaser off of the new menu.
The Flip offered up Smith & Cross' funky rum aroma with hints of the Carpano Antica's grape. The smooth sip lived up to Brandon's description of "carmelized fruit" as the rum and amaro elements paired up with the vermouth. The egg did tame the swallow especially with the rum's aggressiveness and Cynar's bitter herbal elements. With successive swallows, the spice notes from the bitters began to build on the finish. Moreover, the earthy aspects of the egg and Cynar paired up rather well in the Storm Chaser.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

east india cocktail

2 oz La Forêt VSOP Brandy
1/2 oz Combier Liqueur d'Orange
1/4 oz Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
1/4 oz Pineapple Syrup
2 dash Housemade Boker's Bitters

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

Two Mondays ago, we ate dinner at Deep Ellum; one of the drinks bartender Max Toste made for me was the East India Cocktail. He became inspired by that classic while searching for brandy drinks, and he felt it would make good use of the Boker's Bitters that are part of his bar's housemade bitters program. The spirit that inspired him was La Forêt -- a high quality but affordable French brandy; while it is made in the Cognac region of France, it seems to source at least some of brandy's grapes from outside the region and is thus not a Cognac. I had written about the East India two and a half years ago as I was making my way through the Anvil's "100 Drinks You Should Try at least Once" list; however, I was curious to see Max's take on this cocktail.
The East India Cocktail's aroma contained funky Maraschino and bright lemon oil elements. The sweet and smooth orange and pineapple-flavored sip contained earthy notes from the brandy. The rest of the brandy flavors came across in the swallow along with the Maraschino and spice notes from the Boker's.

sister mary

1 oz Chinaco Blanco Tequila
1 oz St. Germain
3/4 oz Grapefruit Juice
1/4 oz Aperol

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail coupe.

The other drink I had at Brick and Mortar was one of the first and longest lasting ones on the menu, the Sister Mary. Since Brick and Mortar's menu is mostly stirred straight spirits drinks (save for citrus-containing tall drinks, Daiquiri Time Out shots, and the occasional Fix), the Sister Mary has been a popular one for people wanting softer, citrus drinks like a Daisy. The recipe reminded me of the Bohemian that Misty Kalkofen created while at Green Street; here the Bohemian's gin and Peychaud's Bitters were swapped for tequila and Aperol, respectively. In terms of agave-based grapefruit and St. Germain drinks, Sam Treadway's Agony and Ecstasy that he created while working with Misty at Drink comes to mind; that mezcal-based drink added some spicier notes with chipotle tabasco sauce instead of bitters. While I had always attributed this drink to Misty for the above reasons, I later learned from Misty (August 2020) that this was actually created by Evan Harrison while at Deep Ellum before he began working at Brick and Mortar.
The Sister Mary offered up a tequila and grapefruit aroma with soft floral accents from the St. Germain. I had already prepared myself for the sweetness that greeted me on the sip, and it accompanied the grapefruit flavor with fruit notes from the St. Germain and Aperol. The tequila and St. Germain's floral aspects on the swallow then rounded out the drink.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


2 oz Laird's Bonded Apple Brandy
1/2 oz Simple Syrup
1/4 oz Apricot Liqueur
1/4 oz Becherovka
1 dash Fee's Whiskey Barrel Aged Bitters

Swizzle on crushed ice in a rocks glass. Top with more crushed ice and add straws.

Two weekends ago, we selected Brick and Mortar for our Sunday outing. For a starter, I asked bartender Kenny Belanger for the Meadowlands which recently appeared on their menu. I assumed that the tribute to the sports stadium was linked to the New Jersey origin of the apple brandy. Before the crushed ice was added, the Meadowlands reminded me of the Independent's apple brandy Old Fashioned variation, the Autumn Sweater.
When the drink was served, Andrea joked that "It's a Jersey snowcone!" An apple and spice aroma greeted me, and the predominant spice I detected was cinnamon from the Becherovka and Fee's bitters. The apple continued on into the sip, and the swallow was quite curious for the Becherovka's clove and cinnamon notes combined with the apricot brandy ones to make an almost cherry-like flavor. Finally, the swallow ended with a lingering floral note that caught me by surprise.

bellevue palace

1/3 Scotch Whisky (1 oz Laphroaig 10 Year)
1/6 Sweet Vermouth (1/2 oz Cocchi Vermouth di Torino)
1/6 Dry Vermouth (1/2 oz Noilly Prat)
1/6 Cointreau (1/2 oz)
1/6 Lemon Juice (1/2 oz)
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
Two Saturdays ago, I was perusing Ted Saucier's Bottom's Up and spotted a quirky Scotch cocktail called the Bellevue Palace. The recipe was contributed by the Hotel Bellevue Palace in Berne, Switzerland; their beautiful wood bar is still there, but I could not find a drink menu to determine whether it maintained its cocktail program over the years. The drink started with a lemon, orange, and peat smoke aroma that preceded a somewhat dry sip containing citrus, grape, and malt flavors. Next, the swallow began with the smoky whisky notes and ended with a clean lemon one.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

palliative potion for pomona

1/3 Swedish Punsch (3/4 oz Kronan)
1/3 Bacardi (3/4 oz Tommy Bahama Golden Sun)
1/3 Dry Vermouth (3/4 oz Noilly Prat)
Juice 1 Lime (3/4 oz)
1 dash Pernod (1 barspoon Pernod Absinthe)

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

The other recipe I spotted when I found the Okolehao Punch in Crosby Gaige's 1941 Cocktail Guide and Ladies' Companion was the Palliative Potion for Pomona. The drink's alliterative name supported my observation that it seemed like a rum-based Corpse Reviver #2. Here, the Corpse Reviver No. 2's orange liqueur was swapped for Swedish Punsch; strangely, some 1940s recipes for the Corpse Reviver #2, including Gaige's, called for Swedish Punsch, but it was used instead of Lillet in that variation.
The Palliative Potion for Pomona presented rum and Pernod's anise notes on the nose. A dry lime and French vermouth sip transitioned to a rum and Swedish Punsch swallow that finished off with the absinthe's botanical complexity. Definitely, the lime and absinthe made this recipe more intriguing than the Four Flush Cocktail from that time period.

nude eel

1/2 oz Dry Gin (Hendrick's)
1/2 oz Cognac (Martell VS)
1/2 oz Dubonnet Rouge
1/2 oz Green Chartreuse

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

Two Fridays ago, I wanted to find more uses for the Dubonnet that I bought for the Decolletage and decided to revisit one of the recipes I tried before writing for the blog called the Nude Eel. Sometimes the drink is called the New Deal, but that is certainly less colorful. Instead of a misheard bar conversation, the name Nude Eel can be traced back to a few literary sources including poet and critic Ezra Pound's and poet e.e. cumming's opinions of FDR's relief, recovery, and reform acts of the early 1930s. The older versions of the drink, such as the one above that I found in the 1947 edition of Trader Vic's Bartender's Guide, call for Green Chartreuse. The later ones, such as the one in Stan Jones' Complete Barguide, seem to have switched to Yellow Chartreuse as the liqueur of choice. With all of the controversy around the current economic reform acts, perhaps it is time to revive this classic recipe.
The Nude Eel offered up a gin and Green Chartreuse bouquet. Next, a semi-sweet minty orange sip was followed by the Chartreuse's herbal notes filling the swallow. Overall, the drink reminded me of a Bijou with some extra body from the Cognac. I could definitely see Yellow Chartreuse prospering here as well similar to how it has in other herbal, brandy, and aromatized wine drinks like the Norwegian Wood.

Monday, March 19, 2012

okolehao punch

1 1/2 oz Gin (Beefeater)
1 1/2 oz Coconut Milk
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1 dash Curaçao (1/4 oz Senior Curaçao)
1 tsp Sugar

Shake with ice and strain into a coconut shell (rocks or highball glass) filled with crushed ice.

Two Wednesdays ago, I decided to make a coconut curry recipe as I needed a few ounces of coconut milk for the Okolehao Punch that appears in Crosby Gaige's Cocktail Guide and Ladies' Companion. The punch recipe was contributed by Charles Rochester, the "Lord of Lexington," who managed the show at the Hotel Lexington's Polynesian-themed room; I provided a little bit of history about the hotel's Hawaiian Room last month in a post about another of their libations which I found in Ted Saucier's Bottoms Up. Given the name, one would expect the drink to be made from the Hawaiian liquor crafted from fermented ti plant root. However, okolehao was often difficult to source and Beachbum Berry recommends Bourbon as the closest readily available flavor analog. Here, the spirit was gin, although this did not surprise me since other similarly named drinks including the Hawaii Cocktail feature juniper-flavored spirits instead of rum.
The Okolehao Punch offered up a slight citrus aroma that prepared the mouth for a creamy lemon sip. The swallow was a combination of orange and coconut notes that were elegantly spiced by gin's botanicals.

starboard light

2 oz Scotch (Famous Grouse)
1 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Passion Fruit Nectar (Ceres)
2 bsp Honey (1/2 oz Honey Syrup 1:1)
1 Egg White

As written: Blend in a mixer with a scoop of shaved ice. Pour into a Starboard Light glass. Top with ice and decorate with mint and a fruit stick. Instead: I shook once without ice and once with ice and strained into a rocks glass filled with crushed ice. I garnished with an orange slice and omitted the out of season mint garnish.

In the Angry Barista post, I suggested that there was a lack of Scotch Tiki drinks and that was why I was drawn to that drink on the Stoddard's menu. One reader, Jason, left a comment that I should expand my search to Trader Vic's book which contains a few Scotch-laden Polynesian numbers. The one in our 1972 edition that caught my eye instead of the London Sour he recommended was the Starboard Light.
The Starboard Light offered up a Scotch aroma that was filled with citrus notes; I regret not having mint on hand for it would have worked well here on the nose. Next, a honey and lemon sip contained malt notes that were followed by a light Scotch smokiness paired with a lingering fruitiness on the swallow. The egg white certainly donated a smooth flavor profile; while I do not generally associate Tiki and egg drinks, I have indeed enjoyed them in the Chee Hoo Fizz, the Jamaican Bobsled Flip, and the Ben-Tiki Sour.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

::chicha night: pisco sours, peruvian surf music, and food::

On Thursday, Andrea and I went to a Somerville Arts Council event hosted by Brother Cleve at Machu Picchu in Union Square. Besides celebrating the food of Peru, Cleve highlighted the Pisco Sour and Peruvian surf music.

In terms of pisco, Cleve acknowledged that there were the Peruvian and Chilean styles; however, he mostly focused on the former. After the Spanish Conquistadors led by Francisco Pizarro arrived in 1532, they began to take over the Incan empire. As the Spanish began to colonize the region, they tried to bring an Iberian-style of agriculture with them including viticulture. While many of the grape varietals they tried had trouble taking root in the desert-like parts of Peru, eventually certain strains had success. Although the wine was not very notable, it was discovered that distillation could make a rather fine product; the first written evidence of this dates back to 1613.

In terms of modern pisco production in Peru, it is all distilled in copper Alembic stills to bottling proof, aged in inert containers like glass or stainless steel and not wood, and bottled without dilution. The spirit gained a lot of popularity in America especially on the West Coast during the mid 19th century. As people flocked to California during the Gold Rush, boats making the trip around South America stopped into port in Lima, Peru, and purchased pisco. Unfortunately, two events in the 1910s led to pisco's decline in popularity here. The first was the opening of the Panama Canal in 1914 which made the trip around Cape Horn unnecessary; the other was Prohibition in 1919. Pisco only witnessed a resurgence in this country in the last decade or two.

While Cleve did speak about Duncan Nicol and his famous Pisco Punch as well as a few other drinks, he spent more time on the Pisco Sour. During Prohibition, there was a well-known diaspora of bartending talent to Europe and the Caribbean. However, some went to Peru including Victor Morris who is credited in modifying the classic Whiskey Sour into the first Pisco Sour in the early 1920s.

Cleve showed off his bartending prowess by talking us through making a Pisco Sour. In terms of ingredients, he spoke about the different types of piscos made from single varietals or combinations of the four aromatic and four nonaromatic grape varietals. I spoke about this in my notes on the Pisco Blending Seminar at Tales of the Cocktail last summer. Next, he pointed out that the limes found in Peru are unlike the Persian limes we are used to for our Gin and Tonics. The closest approximation of the proper limes that we can get here are Key Limes. With a hand squeezer, it took four or five of these small limes to provide an ounce of juice. Instead of simple syrup, Cleve recommended gomme syrup that is traditionally used for the gum arabic sap softens the taste of the alcohol on the tongue and makes the drink all too easy to quaff. Cleve recommended Vargas brand's gomme syrup that he finds rather inexpensively at Frío Rico in East Boston (360 Bennington St via the Wood Island T stop).
Pisco Sour
• 3 oz Pisco Quebranta (like Macchu Pisco)
• 1 oz Key Lime Juice
• 1 oz Gomme Syrup (like Vargas brand)
• 1 Egg White
Shake all but the pisco without ice; add the pisco and ice, and shake hard. Strain into a wine or rocks glass. Garnish the top with several drops of Amargo Chuncho Peruvian Bitters (sub Angostura).
Cleve claimed that the three ounce pour of spirit was traditional, and it falls within the 2-4 ounce range used in most recipes I have seen. Note that Cleve added the pisco after the dry shake. Although I could find no evidence of alcohol causing issues with egg white foaming, foaming decreases after the egg white is diluted to 40% of its original volume according to Harold McGee in On Food and Cooking (and mentioned in my notes about eggs). With egg sizes of today, that value means that 3 ounces or less of mix to one egg white often provides the best results. Cleve was not the only one making Pisco Sours that night, for the restaurant staff made us two rounds. What I noticed was that they were adding their sugar syrup to the wine glasses first and pouring from what I assume were blender-prepared pitchers of the pisco, lime juice, egg white, and ice mixtures. With a quick stir of a straw, the drink became fully sweetened. Sugar has both a positive and negative effect on foaming; early, it will delay foaming and reduce the foam's final volume and lightness by interfering with the protein molecules unraveling. Later, sugar works to stabilize foams by keeping air bubbles inside the protein lattice longer.

For further information, Brother Cleve recommended Gregory Dicum's The Pisco Book. Some supplemental information was added here from that book, and I have mentioned a drink recipe, the Firecracker Cocktail, that I found there.

The end of the evening showcased Brother Cleve's DJing skills. While in Peru, he added to his vast record collection by buying indigenous music including Chicha. Chicha, or Peruvian surf music, became popular in the 1960s as pentatonic scales of Andean music was fused with Columbian Cumbia and psychedelic American surf guitars and synthesizers. For samples of the music, check out the Barbès record label or this collection of videos.

Friday, March 16, 2012


1/2 Gin (1 1/2 oz Beefeater)
1/4 Lemon Juice (3/4 oz)
1/8 Curaçao (3/8 oz Senior Curaçao)
1/8 Maraschino Liqueur (3/8 oz Luxardo)

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

Tuesday last week, we started the evening with the Snowdrop that I found in the Café Royal Cocktail Book. The drink was created by an UK bartender named F. Benniman who was best known for creating the godfather of the Rusty Nail called the B.I.F. (different name and an added dash of Angostura) back in 1937. I was drawn to the Snowdrop for it looked like a cross between an Aviation (the Gary Regan crème de violette-free version) and an egg white-free White Lady (or a Chelsea Sidecar).
A bright lemon oil nose greeted me along with the funkier aspects of the Maraschino liqueur. The sip presented lemon and orange notes, and the swallow showcased the gin and Maraschino. With the domineering aspect of Maraschino, the Snowdrop veered more towards the Aviation camp; however, it was a lot lighter on the Maraschino than the better known classic and might be more preferable of a drink for people who find Aviations too overwhelming on that account.

belfast fix

2 oz Irish Whiskey (Knappogue Castle 1995)
3/4 oz Irish Breakfast Tea Syrup (1:1) (*)
1/2 oz Lemon Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a rocks glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with a lemon twist and add a straw.
(*) Since Irish Breakfast Tea is often Assam mixed with other black teas, using Assam or a regular black tea will work in a pinch. Make the syrup with an equal part of hot tea and sugar; stir until dissolved and then cool.
For Thursday Drink Night on Mixoloseum yesterday, the theme was "Irish" in anticipation of St. Patrick's Day on Saturday. I am jumping out of chronological order and posting this one now just in case people wanted to try it tomorrow for the holiday. The event's instructions were to craft recipes using one or more Irish ingredients, and I opted for Irish whiskey and breakfast tea and formulated them into a classic Fix. The drink that I dubbed the Belfast Fix began with a lemon oil aroma that contained wafts of the whiskey. The sweet malty and lemon sip pleasantly gave way to black tea and whiskey notes on the swallow.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


1 oz Aalborg Aquavit
1 oz Hayman's Old Tom Gin
1 oz Noilly Prat Dry Vermouth
1 dash Rothman & Winter Crème de Violette

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

Two Mondays ago, Andrea and I made our way over to the South End to eat dinner at Estragon. For my first drink, bartender Sahil Mehta recommended the Strasbourg; he named it after the official seat of the European Parliament for its ingredients were sourced from four different nations across that continent. With the flower bulbs beginning to appear, I was interested in the floral aspect of this split spirit Martini variation especially after remembering the Pokey Crocus a few days before.
The lemon twist gave a pleasing aroma to the drink that began with a dry vermouth wine sip. Next, the swallow was a light aquavit and gin herbal combination that led into floral notes from the crème de violette. Overall, it was not as dry or juniper-driven as a Martini, and the aquavit's caraway did not dominate the profile like it can in many drinks.


1 1/2 oz Reposado Tequila (Espolón)
1 oz Dubonnet Rouge
1/2 oz Aperol
1/4 oz Fernet Branca

Stir with ice and strain into an ice-filled snifter or double old fashioned glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

After getting home from Green Street, we decided to have a cocktail I had spotted in Gary Regan's Annual Manual for Bartenders 2011 for a nightcap. The drink was the Décolletage created by Chris Hannah of French 75 in New Orleans, and its Dubonnet, Fernet Branca, and orange flavors reminded me of a tequila-based Don't Give Up the Ship. I think Andrea (along with Gary Regan as well) was drawn to it for the drink's glorious French name.
The Décolletage presented an orange oil and Fernet Branca's menthol aroma. The sip paired Aperol's orange and rhubarb with Dubonnet's grape, and the swallow started with tequila and ended with a lingering Fernet Branca flavor. I was impressed at how subdued the tequila was in this drink, and perhaps the softening effects of Dubonnet and Aperol were to blame.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

frisco sour

2 oz Old Overholt Rye
1/2 oz Benedictine
1/2 oz Lemon Juice

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

Two Sundays ago, Andrea and I ventured over to Green Street for drinks. For a start, I asked bartender Philip MacLeod for the Frisco (Sour), one of my old favorites from the early Eastern Standard menu. The original Frisco was a whiskey drink sweetened and spiced with Benedictine akin to a Rusty Nail, and later lemon juice was added to balance the drink out. It also seemed appropriate to return to this drink at Green Street, for it was there that I was introduced to the Junior -- a Frisco Sour with the lemon juice swapped out for lime juice and Angostura Bitters.
The Frisco Sour proffered a rye and lemon oil aroma with a hint of herbalness. The tart lemon and malt sip gave way to a rye then herbal swallow; moreover, a cleansing lemon flavor lingered on the aftertaste. Looking back, the Frisco Sour recipe has also worked well with Armagnac (and a dash of Cointreau) and rum in place of the whiskey.

snake in the grass

1/4 Gin (1/2 oz Death's Door)
1/4 Cointreau (1/2 oz)
1/4 Dry Vermouth (1/2 oz Noilly Prat)
1/4 Lemon Juice (1/2 oz)

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. I added a lemon twist (an orange twist would probably work well here too).

After the Mute Appeal, I began to flip through the pages of the Café Royal Cocktail Book and found the Snake in the Grass. The recipe reminded me of a Chelsea Sidecar or an egg white-free White Lady with dry vermouth in the mix, or perhaps a drier version of the Dover or an absinthe-free Corpse Reviver #2.
The Snake in the Grass began with an lemon oil aroma that led into a citrus sip that was complemented by the dry vermouth's wine note. While the sip was more lemony, the orange flavor was stronger in the citrus swallow that was punctuated by a medley of gin botanical notes. Andrea commented that the drink was "very lemony and bracing," and the dry vermouth definitely took the drink in a different direction than the Chelsea Sidecar. With the drink's acidity and lighter proof, the Snake in the Grass would probably make a decent pre-dinner cocktail.

Monday, March 12, 2012

the mute appeal

1 1/2 oz Laird's 7 1/2 Year Apple Brandy (Morin Selection Calvados)
3/4 oz Domaine de Canton (King's Ginger)
1/2 oz Averna
1/2 oz Pimm's No. 1
1 dash Orange Bitters (Regan's)

Stir with ice and strain into a coupe glass. Flame an orange twist over the top.

Two Saturdays ago, we started the evening with Phoebe Esmon's The Mute Appeal that Gary Regan wrote about in SfGate. Phoebe works at the Farmers' Cabinet in Philadelphia, and just last month we made her Two Fold Operation. Similar to the Two Fold Operation, the Mute Appeal has a literary aspect to it for she was inspired by Robert Browning's poem "Paracelsus" that contains the line, "Autumn wins you best by this/its mute appeal to sympathy for its decay."
The Mute Appeal summoned forth an orange and apple aroma that prepared the mouth for an apple, fruity from the Pimm's, and caramel from the Averna sip. The swallow then rounded off the drink with ginger, brandy flavors, and a bitter complexity from the Averna.

blooey blues

1/4 Crème de Violette (3/4 oz Rothman & Winter)
1/4 Bacardi Rum (3/4 oz El Dorado 3 Year + 1 barspoon J.M. Amber Rhum) (*)
1/4 Lime Juice (3/4 oz)
1/4 Sherry (3/4 oz Lustau East India Solera)

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
(*) To replicate old style Bacardi, the editor recommended using a Cuban or Martician rum. Pure rhum agricole comes across as too intense in my mind, so here I used a 1 part in 7 dilution to give the impression of a spirit made partially from fresh pressed sugar cane.

For our second drink on Friday, I opted for the Blooey Blues, an oddity I had found in Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars: 1903-1933. The four equal parts recipe had often caught my attention, but my curiosity had always been dissuaded by the heavy handedness of the crème de violette. However, after reading a thread on Chowhound where people spoke favorably about a few crème de violette-laden drinks, I decided to give this one a go.
First off, this drink was not blue but more of a murky green, brown, and purple combination. Perhaps a lighter sherry like a fino or manzanilla might have skewed the drink in the proper color direction, or perhaps the drink was created with a liqueur containing a higher concentration of blue dye. With the strange appearance of the drink aside, the Blooey Blues was actually quite pleasant. Its bouquet presented a sherry aroma coupled with crème de violette's floral and rhum's grassy notes. Lime and grape on the sip led into a combination of lime, violet, sherry's nuttiness, and a hint of grassiness on the swallow. Overall, it was a very Spring-like drink that reminded me of the Pokey Crocus and the Daffodil cocktails.

Friday, March 9, 2012

pay per view

3/4 oz Sweet Vermouth (Cocchi Vermouth di Torino)
3/4 oz Dry Vermouth (Noilly Prat)
3/4 oz Blanc Vermouth (Dolin)
3/4 oz Lime Juice
1/4 oz Cane Syrup (JM Sirop) (*)

Shake with ice and strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a cherry (Luxardo Maraschino).
(*) Rich 2:1 simple syrup will substitute here in a pinch.
Last Friday, we started with an aperitif cocktail that I spotted in the Imbibe Magazine blog called the Pay Per View. The drink was created by Theo Lieberman of Manhattan's Lantern's Keep and features three different vermouth types in a Sour format. I was used to vermouth-based Sours like the Fancy Sour and sherry and vermouth Sours like the Sleepy Hollow, but the concept of sweet, dry, and bianco vermouths combined seemed intriguing. The Pay Per View greeted my nose with Cocchi Vermouth di Torino's red grape aroma that led into a sip ripe with a medley of sweet grape flavors. The grape carried over into the swallow were it worked well against the lime notes at the end.


1/4 Gin (1/2 oz Beefeater)
1/4 Lime Juice (1/2 oz)
1/4 Swedish Punsch (1/2 oz Kronan)
1/4 Curaçao (1/2 oz Senior Curaçao)

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
The other drink from "Gin and Juice"-themed Mixoloseum's Thursday Drink Night that I crafted gave me an excuse to tinker with Kronan Swedish Punsch and some of the lime juice I had leftover from the Tanglin Club. With the equal parts Hoop La! in mind, the gin, Swedish Punsch, and citrus components in the end came closer to the One Way than the brandy drink. For a name, I stuck with the Swedish heritage of my spirit muse and dubbed the drink after Max Svanberg, a Swedish surrealist artist who André Breton uncovered.
The Svanberg began with an orange aroma with a hint of the Swedish Punsch. The orange and lime on the sip led into the Punsch's rum and spice that paired well with the gin's botanicals on the swallow. Overall, the drink exhibited a pleasing tartness and tannicity from the lime and Punsch's tea elements.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

tanglin club

1 oz Gin (Beefeater)
1 oz Dry Vermouth (Noilly Prat)
1/2 oz Passion Fruit Syrup (BG Reynolds)
1/2 oz Lime Juice
2 dash Angostura Bitters

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

For Thursday Drink Night last week, the theme was "Gin and Juice." When I contemplated the two ingredients, my thoughts roamed over to the Pegu Club which was one of the first cocktails that made me appreciate and enjoy gin. Riffing off of the Pegu, I used the classic Scofflaw as a scaffold. With gin and lime instead of whiskey and lemon, I kept the dry vermouth but changed the grenadine to passion fruit syrup. In paying tribute to the Pegu Club, I selected another prominent gentleman's social club started in the 19th century to serve the British -- namely the Tanglin Club in Singapore.
The Tanglin Club greeted the senses with fresh orange oils. The lime and passion fruit interacted with the Angostura Bitters to offer up an orange- and grapefruit-like sip. Finally, the drink concluded with a gin swallow and a pithy lime tang on the finish. Indeed, the Tanglin Club's passion fruit syrup and dry vermouth took the drink in a different direction than the Pegu's orange liqueur.

jock macdonald

1/3 Walker's Rye Whiskey (3/4 oz Old Overholt)
1/3 Lillet (3/4 oz Cocchi Americano)
1/3 Lemon Juice (3/4 oz)
1 dash Apricot Brandy (1/4 oz Rothman & Winter)

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

Wednesday last week for the cocktail hour, I delved into the Café Royal Cocktail Book and found the Jock MacDonald. With the Lillet, lemon, and apricot brandy flavors, it reminded me of the rum-based Culross. As for the name, there was a famous abstract and surrealist painter Jock MacDonald during the 1930's, but the true identity of the namesake may be lost for good.
The Jock MacDonald's lemon and apricot aromas gave the perception of orange notes. Next, the lemon juice and citrus components of the Cocchi Americano filled the sip, and the swallow showcased the rye with a pleasing apricot finish. Indeed, the hint of apricot at the end reminded me of James Maloney's signature drinks like the Manhattan Bell-Ringer.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

love makes you feel 10 feet tall

1 oz Gin (Beefeater)
3/4 oz Pisco (Macchu Pisco)
3/4 oz Aperol
1/2 oz Punt e Mes
2-3 drop Salt Water (*)

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange twist.
(*) Saturate Kosher salt in water (add enough so further stirring or shaking will not allow more salt to come into solution). Use the water over the remaining salt grains once they have settled.

On Tuesday last week, we decided to make one of the salt-containing drinks in the "Salty Reception" article in the most recent issue of Imbibe Magazine. The Love Makes You Feel 10 Feet Tall was credited to Jay Zimmerman of Bāśik in Brooklyn; later, when I sat at Evan Zimmerman's bar at Woodsman Tavern during Portland Cocktail Week, I told him that I had made his brother's drink. Evan mentioned that he had created this one and donated it to his brother's menu at Bāśik. The dual spirit of gin and pisco reminded me of the Rosy John from Charles Baker's South American Gentleman's Companion. The article claimed that the salt helped to amplify the flavors in the drink; however, it can also reduce others -- an effect well described in an article in Beta Cocktails.
The drink presented an orange oil and Aperol aroma that was mirrored in the sip containing Aperol's orange-rhubarb flavor. The swallow then showcased the pisco's funky grape paired with the Punt e Mes' bitter notes. While I expected the salt to have more of an effect on the Punt e Mes for it can minimize bitter flavors, I was quite surprised at how subdued the gin botanicals were. This was especially odd since Beefeater is not a subtle gin and it made up a third of the pre-melt volume. What the salt did seem to emphasize were the unique flavor elements in the pisco brandy that are often lost in cocktails.

[caribbean corpse reviver]

3/4 oz Banks Rum
3/4 oz House Tropical Vermouth (*)
3/4 oz Velvet Falernum
3/4 oz Lime Juice
1 dash Bittermens Tiki Bitters

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
(*) Infused with lemon peel and kiwi fruit. In a pinch, bianco vermouth or perhaps Lillet might work as a substitute for the sweet citrus notes. Tri2Cook left a comment that they had good success speed infusing Noilly Prat with lemon zest and kiwi via a cream whipper an N2O.
After the L'Amérique at Eastern Standard, bartender Seth Freidus wanted to showcase one of his new works-in-progress. Based off of a Corpse Reviver #2, this Tiki cocktail utilizes the tropical citrus vermouth that the bar has recently crafted. The drink started with a clove and allspice aroma that led into a sweet citrus sip. The swallow began with rum and spices from the falernum and bitters and ended with fruit notes including the lime's crispness. As the drink warmed up, it became a bit more tart and clove-driven.

Update 4/25/12:  A rather similar sounding drink just appeared on the Eastern Standard menu called the Chaconia.  I am unsure if the recipe changed but the menu listed the ingredient as "tropical citrus vermouth, 5 Island Rum, Lime, bitters."

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


1 1/2 oz Low Gap White Whiskey
3/4 oz House Rosé Vermouth (see here)
1/2 oz Yellow Chartreuse
1/4 oz Simple Syrup

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

Two Monday's ago after my DJing gig, we headed up to Eastern Standard to catch a late dinner. For my first drink, I asked bartender Carrie Cole for the L'Amérique that was described as " Green Point Elegance" on the menu. Instead of the Green Point's rye, they opted for an unaged 100% wheat whiskey that many reviews describe as having pleasing fruit, grain, and spice notes. Keeping the Yellow Chartreuse untouched, the original's Punt e Mes was swapped for the house strawberry-infused rosé vermouth.
The L'Amérique possessed an aroma of orange oil, whiskey, and something earthy and almost chocolate like. The sweet malty sip led into a strawberry and herbal swallow. Overall, it was a lot lighter than a Green Point for it lacked Punt e Mes' bitter and the rye's barrel aged notes. As the drink got warmer, it became much sweeter and almost dessert-like in balance; for my palate, the simple syrup could have been left out entirely.


2 oz Brandy
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Cola Syrup (*)

Shake with ice and strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.
(*) A 4-fold reduction of Coca Cola (presumably cane sugar Coke).

Since it was Oscar Night when we were at Stoddard's, they had a special 6 drink Oscars-themed drink menu. The one that seemed most appealing was the Filmograph that appeared in the Savoy Cocktail Book. Filmograph was the name of a company that made motion picture equipment during the silent era as well as a film entertainment newspaper during that time period. While the original calls for Kola Tonic (a South African syrup) and Sirop de Citron (a French-styled lemon syrup), the bartenders at Stoddard's took some liberties that were suggested in Ted Haigh's Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails and elsewhere. Instead of the hard to source Kola Tonic, they opted for a four-fold reduction of Coca Cola, and instead of lemon syrup, they went with lemon juice so that the drink did not end up syrupy sweet. One of the bartenders explained that the drink was not only chosen for the name but for the Coke flavors to pair well with the popcorn they were giving out for the Oscar viewing party.
The Filmograph began with a lemon aroma from the twist and an herbal note from the cola syrup. The sip offered up lemon and Coke's caramel flavors, and the swallow presented the brandy and bitter Coke elements that finished with a tart citrus note. I was impressed at how well the Coke notes worked with the brandy; this was not that surprising when I recalled that Alain Royer mentioned during a Cognac blending seminar that most VS and VSOP Cognac in France is mixed with Coca Cola.

Monday, March 5, 2012

angry barista

2 oz Dewar's 12 Year Blended Scotch
1/2 oz Grapefruit Juice
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/4 oz Cinnamon Syrup
1/4 oz Fee's Falernum Syrup
1 dash Bittermans Tiki Bitters

Shake with ice and strain into a rocks glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with an orange twist and add a straw.

Two Sundays ago, Andrea and I got dinner in Chinatown and then headed over to Stoddard's for drinks. For my first cocktail, I was drawn in by their new Tiki offering on the menu, the Angry Barista. The name reminded me of the Suffering Bar Steward (often called the Suffering Bastard); however, after the whiskey and lime juice, the two recipes diverged enough that the similarity was more in my head than in the glass. I was curious about a Tiki drink with a Scotch base; Beachbum Berry only offered a single Scotch-based drink, the Cocoanut Grove Cooler, in Remixed and the closest I can think of, Avery's Arrack-ari, only had a Talisker rinse.
The Angry Barista started with an orange oil aroma that later included cinnamon notes. The slightly sweet citrus sip led into a smoky Scotch swallow that ended drier with cinnamon and clove notes. The Scotch was not out of place here, and the smoke notes worked well as they have in other smoke-driven Tiki-like drinks like Esmino's Escape.

straits of messina

a) 3 Green Cardamom Pods
1 pinch Salt
2 dash Regan's Bitters
b) 1 1/2 oz Cocchi Americano
3/4 oz Blood Orange Juice

Muddle ingredients in (a). Add ingredients in (b) and ice. Shake and strain into a cocktail or wine glass. Top with ~2 oz of Dibon Cava.
For my second cocktail at Island Creek Oyster Bar, I requested the Straits of Messina from bartender Vikram Hegde. The Straits of Messina is the narrow passage between Sicily and southern Italy; with the classic blood orange, the Moro, originating from Sicily, I suspect that naming fell into place that way. Once prepared, the cardamom aroma pleasantly greeted me as I prepared for the crisp wine and Cocchi's citrus flavors on the sip. The swallow then offered up blood orange notes with a lightly lingering cardamom flavor. Vik commented that this drink made him realize how much cardamom was in Cocchi Americano since he is usually overwhelmed and distracted by the quinine aspect of it.

Friday, March 2, 2012

king caesar

3/4 oz Amaro Montenegro
3/4 oz Pineapple Juice
3/4 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Demerara Syrup
1 dash Bittermens Tiki Bitters

Shake with ice and double strain into a Champagne flute. Top with ~2 oz Dibon Cava.

Last Friday, I dropped into Island Creek Oyster Bar for drinks. For a start, I asked bartender Vikram Hegde for the King Caesar. I was not sure whether the drink was named after the Roman emperor or the Japanese kaiju from the Godzilla series; however, after considering the restaurant's theme, I did a little searching. In the oyster town of Duxbury, MA, the largest industry back in the 18th century was ship building. Ezra Weston ran this enterprise and his success in building a large merchant fleet led to the nickname of "King Caesar"; he later passed the 100 ship fleet and the title to his son who kept the enterprise going into the early 19th century.

The King Caesar welcomed the senses with a pineapple and sparkling wine aroma that contained a hint of spice. The wine and lime paired to conjure a crisp sip, and the pineapple and the Amaro Montenegro's caramel and bitter notes rounded out the swallow. Indeed, I was quite impressed at how Amaro Montenegro worked to maintain the tropical tone of the drink.

nouveau carré

1 1/2 oz Ocho Añejo Tequila (Siete Leguas Añejo)
3/4 oz Lillet Blanc (Cocchi Americano)
1/4 oz Benedictine
3 dash Peychaud's Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail coupe. Garnish with a lemon twist.
Two Wednesdays ago for a nightcap, I selected the Nouveau Carré from the PDT Cocktail Book. This tequila variation on the Vieux Carré was created by San Francisco bartender Jonny Raglin in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The drink began with a lemon oil, Peychaud's, and aged tequila aroma. The Cocchi Americano's citrus and wine flavors filled the sip, and the tequila and herbal notes from the Benedictine appeared on the swallow. The Peychaud's came through on the lingering aftertaste especially the anise. As the drink warmed up, the Nouveau Carré became more herbal from the Benedictine and less tequila forward. While the original's sweet vermouth would have worked here too, the switch to Lillet or Cocchi Americano was a good one for it has proven in the past to pair well with tequila such as in the Metexa.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

too soon?

1 oz Beefeater Gin
1 oz Cynar
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Simple Syrup
2 Orange Wedges

Shake hard with ice and double strain into a cocktail glass.
Tuesday last week, I was flipping through Gary Regan's Annual Manual for Bartenders 2011 and spotted Sam Ross' Too Soon? After enjoying Sam's Penicillin, Paper Plane, and Conquistador, I was definitely willing to try another of his recipes. The Too Soon? presented more Cynar aromas to me and more orange ones to Andrea. The sip started as a slightly caramel-tinged orange flavor that became more lemony as the drink warmed up. Next, the swallow offered Cynar's herbal notes and gin's botanicals with lingering bitter orange notes perhaps from the orange wedges' peels being included in the shake.

oaxaca moon

1 1/2 oz Del Maguey Mezcal Vida
3/4 oz Pineau des Charentes
1/2 oz Zirbenz Stone Pine Liqueur
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/4 oz Orange Juice
1/4 oz Turbinado Sugar
1 dash Falernum Bitters

Shake with ice and double strain into a rocks glass containing 3 ice cubes. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Two Mondays ago, Andrea and I stopped at Bergamot for drinks with bartender Paul Manzelli. For my first drink, I asked Paul for the Oaxaca Moon which was new to the cocktail menu. I was lured in with the Pineau des Charentes, an underused cocktail ingredient. Pineau is an aperitif fortified wine made from a blend of lightly fermented grape must and Cognac eau de vie; one of its most famous cocktail uses is in the Pompadour from Frank Meier's 1934 The Artistry Of Mixing Drinks. It did not occur to me until later that the Oaxaca Moon appears to be a riff of the Scotch and St. Germain-laden Northern Lights that Paul used to make at Craigie on Main. Interestingly, in the write up for the Northern Lights, I recommended Zirbenz as a substitute for its Douglas Fir Eau de Vie; evidently, the bartenders at Bergamot thought the same thing.
The Oaxaca Moon began with a smoke and citrus aroma. The citrus continued on into the sip where it mingled with the Pineau's wine flavors. Finally, the swallow offered up smoky mezcal and Zirbenz's pine notes to round out the drink. Overall, it was less floral and more smoky than the Northern Lights and came across more as an unique drink than a slight tweaking of the original.