Wednesday, October 30, 2013

noah calhoun

1 oz Bookers Bourbon
1 oz Pierre Ferrand Ambre Cognac
1 oz Amaro Montenegro
1 dash Bitter Cube Vanilla Cherry Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a rocks glass.

For my second drink at the Citizen Public House, bartender John Mayer suggested a drink that ended up in the recipe notebook at Local 149. The Noah Calhoun was a collaboration of his with Spencer at 149 for a drink about a break up. Alas, it never made the menu for fear that it would be sent back too often since people would be lured in by the name, a character from The Notebook, instead of the ingredients and balance. And the balance itself reminded me of the classic Saratoga, the one that often gets referred to as the possible predecessor of the Vieux Carré and not the citrussy one.
The Noah Calhoun proffered an orange and vanilla nose. A caramel sip led into a Cognac and Bourbon swallow; the whiskey's heat continued into the finish where it mingled with herbal, cherry, and Mandarine orange notes.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

[pancho villa]

2 oz Tequila Ocho Plata
1/2 oz Lustau Oloroso Sherry
1/2 oz Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
1/2 oz Lime Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail coupe.
Two Sundays ago, we ventured over to the Fenway area to visit bartender John Mayer at his new home, Citizen Public House. For a first drink, John suggested a tequila number that he had been working on; with sherry in the mix, I was certainly game. Once prepared, the drink began with a robust agave aroma that was punctuated by floral notes. A grape and lime sip led into a nutty tequila swallow with a Maraschino finish. Indeed, it was no surprise that the oloroso sherry worked rather well with the Maraschino liqueur here.

Monday, October 28, 2013

heart of stone

1 oz White Rum (Turkey Shore's Old Ipswich White Cap)
3/4 oz Amontillado Sherry (Lustau)
1/2 oz Apricot Liqueur (Rothman & Winter)
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/4 oz Cane Syrup (J.M.) (*)

Shake with ice and strain into a coupe glass pre-rinsed with allspice dram (St. Elizabeth).
(*) In a pinch, use a 2:1 simple syrup in place of the cane syrup.

After the Leo Special, I reached for the 2012 edition of Food & Wine: Cocktails and stopped at Leo Robitschek's section of Daiquiri variations. The Heart of Stone, a winter Daiquiri Leo created at Eleven Madison Park in Manhattan, was the one that called out to us. It was a bit more fruit- instead of spice-driven than Mindy Kucan's Winter Daiquiri that we made earlier in the year.
The Heart of Stone proffered an apricot aroma that worked well with the butterscotch notes from the white rum. A lemon and grape sip led into a swallow that began with the rum followed by a combination of apricot and nutty sherry flavors. Lastly, the butterscotch notes returned on the finish along with the allspice from the dram.

leo special

1/2 Gin (2 oz Cascade Mountain)
1/4 Cointreau (1/2 oz)
1/4 Lime Juice (1/2 oz)
2 dash Pernod (1 scant barspoon Henri Bardouin Pastis)

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

A few Saturday nights ago, I opened up my 1975 edition of Patrick Duffy's The Official Mixer's Manual and spotted the Leo Special. The drink was tempting for it reminded me of a Pegu Club crossed with a Corpse Reviver #2, and I was quite curious to follow the directions to stir instead of shake the mixture. I decided to adapt the recipe to the Drink 2:1/2:1/2 standard ratio and treated the absinthe like a Corpse Reviver #2. My specs ended up falling somewhere between the one Duffy proposed and the one Stan Jones did in the 1977 Complete Barguide. I did check Leo Engel's American and Other Drinks as a possible identity of the Leo, but this did not seem to be one of his specialties.
The lime juice aromas worked rather well with the pastis' anise on the nose. Lime and orange flavors combined on the sip; it was not as identifiable as either, but with the absinthe instead of Angostura Bitters, it was certainly not the grapefruit note generated in a Pegu Club. Finally, the swallow displayed more of the citrus flavors along with the gin, and it ended with a pastis finish.

Saturday, October 26, 2013


1 1/2 oz Amaro Montenegro
1 oz Lustau Amontillado Sherry
1/2 oz Del Maguey Mezcal Vida
1 dash Mole Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a rocks glass with fresh ice. Add straws and garnish with an orange twist.

The other drink I had at Sarma was another of bartender Vikram Hedge's creations called Xocula. The recipe started as a Negroni variation and he had to switch the proportions from an equal parts one to an amaro-forward 3:2:1 one to make it work. When Vik tested this recipe and others out during a guest night at the Hawthorne, he provided Jackson Cannon with this name; Jackson replied by putting as a subtitle on the menu something along the lines of "now you're just making things up" since he did not understand the reference. Vik explained that while the Negroni is named after Count Camillo Negroni, this one is named after his favorite count -- the cereal one.
The Xocula began with an orange oil and smokey agave aroma. The grape from the sherry filled the sip, and the swallow began with the mezcal and ended with nutty, herbal, chocolate, and orange notes.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

novara fresco

1/2 oz Campari
1/2 oz Cardamaro
1/2 oz Pineapple Juice
1/2 oz Lemon Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a coupe glass. Top with 2-3 oz Casteller Cava and twist a lemon peel over the top.

Two Tuesdays ago, we traveled down the street to visit Sarma which has taken over the old Paddock space in Gilman Square (Winter Hill), Somerville. It was rather amazing to see what they had done with the locale, and when we found seats at the bar, it was surreal to think that we sat in that exact area last time we were there at a table right next to the place were local crooners were doing karaoke. But we were not there to marvel at the decor, but to try the food from the kitchen of Oleana's sister establishment and the drink from Island Creek Oyster Bar alum Vikram Hedge and his crew.
For a first libation, I asked Vik for the Novara Fresco -- a sparkling cocktail that was named as a reference to where Campari was invented in Italy in 1860. Once mixed, Campari and citrus notes filled the nose. A carbonated lemon and grape sip led into a swallow that began with Campari's complex flavors. Finally, the swallow finished with a delightful combination of pineapple and white wine notes.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


2 oz Batavia Arrack
3/4 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz B.G. Reynolds Orgeat
1/2 oz Lustau Pedro Ximénez Sherry
1/4 oz Angostura Bitters

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

Two Mondays ago, we ventured over to the Citizen Public House when Sean Frederick was bartending. For a drink, I asked Sean to make me something with Batavia Arrack and sherry. Sean thought for a moment and then set into action to craft a complex Tiki libation by putting orgeat, lime, and a healthy dose of Angostura Bitter into the mix. The structure of the drink reminded me of something he made for me on the fly after returning from the Angostura competition in Trinidad that eventually got dubbed the Jab Molassie. For this unnamed drink, I dubbed it the Kartini after Raden Ayu Kartini, an Indonesian heroine who was a pioneer of women's rights there.
The nutmeg garnish's aroma greeted the nose. A lime and grape sip led into a swallow filled with Batavia Arrack's rum-like funkiness and the sherry and orgeat's nutty raisin flavors. Finally, the bitters added a complex cherry, dryness, and spice to the finish.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

bull fight

1 1/2 oz El Jimador Tequila Reposado
3/4 oz Drambuie
3/4 oz Housemade Falernum
1/2 oz Lime Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a Highball glass filled with fresh ice. Top with ginger beer, garnish with a lime wedge, and add a straw.
For a second beverage at the Sinclair, I was drawn to the Bull Fight for it reminded me of some of the Bucks crafted at Bergamot as well as the Taylor Rain on the Russell House Tavern menu. Therefore, I asked bartender Bryn Tattan to make me one. Once in the glass, the Bull Fight's lime garnish donated a fresh lime oil aroma. A carbonated, honey, and lime sip led into a tequila swallow and a clove and ginger finish.

crimson daiquiri

1 1/2 oz Santa Teresa Claro Rum
3/4 oz Crème Yvette
3/4 oz Cocchi Americano
1/4+ oz Lime Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a coupe glass.
Two Fridays ago after work, I ventured over to the Sinclair for drinks with Drambuie Tara. For a first libation, I asked bartender Bryn Tattan for the Crimson Daiquiri, their Daiquiri Time Out tribute to their Harvard neighborhood. The inclusion of Crème Yvette made me think of some of the drinks that Scott Holliday of Rendezvous has created and I was eager to see how the bartenders at the Sinclair were using this liqueur. Once mixed, the Crimson Daiquiri began with a floral and berry aroma from the Yvettte. A citrus, berry, and white wine sip led into the rum on the swallow and a bitter floral finish

Monday, October 21, 2013


1 1/2 oz Del Maguey Mezcal Vida
1 oz Lustau Palo Cortado Sherry
1/2 oz Yellow Chartreuse
1/4 oz Aveze Gentian Liqueur
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a coupe glass.
After the Pipe Dream at Estragon, I asked to peek into bartender Sahil Mehta's recipe notebook, and there I spotted the Cesare. Sahil explained that he named this recipe after Cesare Borgia, the Italian nobleman, politician, and cardinal who was the son of Pope Alexander VI. Once mixed, the Cesare offered a smokey and herbal aroma. A honeyed grape sip gave way to a smokey mezcal swallow with bitter and earthy herbal finishing notes. Overall, there was a savory aspect to the drink that added a bit of intrigue to the drink.

Saturday, October 19, 2013


The theme for this month's Mixology Monday (MxMo LXXVIII) was picked by Stewart Putney of the Putney Farm blog. The theme he chose was "Intercontinental," and he did not want us to fight for that B-tier Intercontinental Belt but to look to our ingredients. Stewart elaborated on the theme with his description of, "Everywhere we travel these days we see cocktails on the menu. And not just here in the USA, but all around the world. And that's not only the drinks, but the ingredients as well... So let's celebrate the global reach of cocktails with an "Intercontinental" Mixology Monday challenge. Create a cocktail with "ingredients" from at least 3, but preferably 4, 5, or 6 continents. And if you can include Antarctica, then you get a Gold Star. And remember, sometimes the tools used, glassware, names or back stories of cocktails are important "ingredients." Creativity and a bit of narrative exploration are encouraged."

When I was discussing the theme with Stewart, I mentioned the quirky bottle of Van der Hum spiced tangerine liqueur that we owned. We found this South African spirit at Julio's in Westborough, MA, and only used it to make the Comet from David Wondrich's Killer Cocktails. The other place that I was sure that there were a handful of Van der Hum recipes is William Tarling's Café Royal Cocktail Book. After looking through the options, I selected the curiously named Diaqurbon for it could be finessed into using ingredients from four continents. I found the name strange for their is no lime juice in this mashup of Daiquiri and Bourbon; however, F.G. Hunt, the recipe's creator, meant Daiquiri rum. For that, I decided to use El Dorado 3 Year White Rum since Guyana is in South America (Andrea pointed out to me that the Caribbean islands are not truly considered part of any continent except for political means, so those rums would be confusing). Clearly, the Bourbon I selected was going to be North American by definition, and with such a small portion of the drink, I opted for the punchy and overproof Fighting Cock. For the fourth continent, I went European with Dolin Dry Vermouth. I guess for a fifth continent, I did stir the drink in my Japanese mixing glass. Australia and Antarctica, I salute you but unfortunately left you off the docket.
• 1/2 Daiquiri Rum (2 oz El Dorado 3 Year)
• 1/4 Van der Hum (1 oz)
• 1/8 Bourbon (1/2 oz Fighting Cock)
• 1/8 Dry Vermouth (1/2 oz Dolin)
Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. I strained this into a pair of small vintage glasses.
The Daiqurbon greeted the nose with a tangerine peel and Bourbon nose. While the sip offered dry wine, caramel, and malt notes, the swallow began with the rum and whiskey and ended with a tangerine and vanilla finish. Andrea thought that the ingredients could make for a good Scaffa (a room temperature, undiluted cocktail); perhaps if the rum and Van der Hum proportions were swapped, it would be.
Thanks to Stewart for hosting this event and getting me to dust off a lesser used bottle on my shelf, and thanks to all of the MxMo participants for keeping this event going month after glorious month. Cheers!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

pipe dream

1 oz Del Maguey Mezcal Vida
1 oz Bonal Gentiane-Quina
1 oz Lustau Oloroso Sherry
1/4 oz Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
2 dash Regan's Orange Bitters

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

Two Mondays ago, we ventured down to the South End to get dinner at Estragon. For a first drink, I asked bartender Sahil Mehta for the Pipe Dream that he had mentioned in his OnTheBar status. The recipe is his take on a Martinez with mezcal, and the idea appealed to me especially after considering John Mayer's own mezcal variation, the Des Esseintes. Sahil described how he used the classic two parts wine-based ingredients to one part spirit here similar to how he enjoys his gin Martinezes at home.
The Pipe Dream's orange oils mingled with the mezcal smoke on the nose. A grape and orange sip gained much complexity on the swallow which showcased nutty, bitter, and smokey agave flavors. Overall, the Maraschino worked well here to unify the various elements and bolster the oloroso sherry notes.

rooftop cooler

2 oz Dolin Dry Vermouth
1 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Simple Syrup
2 dash Peychaud's Bitters

Shake with ice and strain into a Collins glass filled with fresh ice. Top with Canada Dry Ginger Ale and add a straw.
For one of Andrea's drink choices, she asked bartender Matt Schrage for something on the lighter side and he suggested the Rooftop Cooler. I remember trying to order that one evening this past summer while it resided on the menu, but the drink was so popular that they had temporarily run out of the necessary ginger ale to make it. As for who created it, Matt was unsure if it was Kenny Belanger or Phil MacLeod. Once mixed, the Rooftop Cooler offered a lime aroma that led into a sweet, carbonated citrus sip. The swallow was all about the ginger and spice though from the soda and bitters.

Postnote May 7, 2018: The drink is most likely a riff of the Roofgarden from The Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book:
• 1 dash Bitters
• 1 lump Sugar
• 1 jigger French Vermouth
• 1 bottle Ginger Ale
Dash the bitters on the sugar cube in a Collins glass. Build the French vermouth and ice in the glass over the sugar cube, and top with the ginger ale.
The presentation here as I parsed it reminds me of the classic Champagne Cocktail -- one that we often overlook in making or riffing on.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

a postcard to nina

1 oz Meletti Amaro
1/2 oz Cinzano Sweet Vermouth
1/2 oz Aperol
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Pineapple Juice
2 dash Peychaud's Bitters

Shake with ice and strain into a Collins glass filled with fresh ice. Top with soda water and add a straw.

For a followup to the Bonnie & Clyde, bartender Matt Schrage suggested a drink called A Postcard to Nina. Part of the reason I wondered about the Bonnie & Clyde gunman versus song name question was due to the sound track that evening which was Jens Lekman. Matt named this complex recipe after one of Lekman's songs, A Postcard to Nina. Overall, the ingredients list sounded like a page from Shrage's Blue Room days last year.
A Postcard to Nina began with a fruity nose. A carbonated Aperol and lime sip tricked me into thinking that there was grapefruit in the recipe. Next, the pineapple began the swallow that ended with a bitter, herbal Meletti-driven finish. Indeed, the pineapple juice seemed to be the crucial ingredient to tie (the fruity and bitter elements in) this drink together.

bonnie & clyde

1 1/2 oz Pierre Ferrand 1840 Cognac
1/2 oz Lustau Amontillado Sherry
1/2 oz Byrrh Grand Quinquina
1/2 oz Benedictine
2 dash Angostura Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a rocks glass.
(*) Note that the tasting notes were made with a slightly different recipe (1 oz each Cognac and sherry, 1/2 oz each Byrrh and Benedictine, no bitters), but the above is the proper recipe. I was told not to be mad at Schrage for the mix up.

Two Sundays ago, we ventured over to Brick & Mortar where Matthew Schrage and Lea Madda were tending the bar. For a first drink, Matt suggested that I try a new drink created by Cory Buono that had not hit the menu yet. Besides the winning sherry and Benedictine ingredients, I was curious if they could tame Byrrh into a cocktail ingredient. In conversation, it became more unclear whether the drink was a tribute to the two famed gunmen or to the song performed by Serge Gainsbourg and Brigitte Bardot in their honor.
The Bonnie & Clyde, as it was made for me, began with a dark grape and Cognac aroma that later became more chocolatey. A sweet cherry and grape sip gave way to a Cognac swallow with a nutty and herbal finish. Indeed, the Byrrh worked well here as it was tamed and modified by the sherry and perhaps other ingredients.

Monday, October 14, 2013

lightly blighty

1/2 jigger Sherry (1 1/2 oz Lustau Dry Amontillado)
1/4 Lime Juice (1/2 oz)
2 dash Grenadine (1/2 oz)
2 dash Curaçao (1/2 oz Pierre Ferrand)

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
Two Fridays ago, I opened up Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars: 1903-1933 and found the curiously named Lightly Blighty. Given the time period, the name fall into line, for Blighty is an informal and affection term for England or more commonly British soldiers of World War I and II. After having a drink from The Art of the Shim book the night before, this recipe seemed like a solid follow up. Once mixed, it offered a grape and candied orange aroma. An orange and lime sip transitioned into a nutty sherry swallow with a sweet orange peel finish. In my chosen proportions above, the Pierre Ferrand Curaçao took a larger role that I desired; perhaps reducing the amount to a quarter ounce or switching to a less intensely flavored liqueur like Senior Curaçao would work better here.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

lindsey's whimsy

1 oz Oloroso Sherry (Lustau Dry)
1 oz Dry Vermouth (Dolin)
1/2 oz Amaro Montenegro
1/2 oz Benedictine
3 dash Allspice Dram (1/4 oz St. Elizabeth)
1 dash Angostura Bitters

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

Two Thursdays ago, I began to flip through my new purchase of The Art of the Shim: Low-Alcohol Cocktails to Keep You Level. The book was written by Dinah Sanders, a long time writer for the blog and an old school participant in Mixology Monday (she hosted a great 19th century-themed one back in 2008). The idea for the book was to split the difference between boozy libations and alcohol-free ones like the ones found in Natalie Bovis' Pregatinis in order to provide recipes that allow for more socialization balanced with more control of one's senses. The book in defense of the style has a variety of good quotes from famous bartenders including Pouring Ribbons' Joaquín Simó who said, "There's a lot that goes into having a good night out and being grown up about it." And Neyah White's comment, "The more that a drink is seen as a culinary experience, the less it needs to be an exercise in self-medication to be recognized as good." Overall, the book contains a good techniques section and 53 recipes that span from classics to modern drinks. Sherry, vermouth, aromatized wine, beer, sparkling wine, and liqueurs take center stage here with a good number of the drinks containing a half ounce or less of standard base spirits for backbone.
The drink I made that night was Lindsey's Whimsy created by Lindsey Baird at San Francisco's Comstock Saloon. With the dry vermouth and Benedictine, it reminded me a bit of the Chrysanthemum Cocktail, and the addition of sherry and Amaro Montenegro did not hurt either. Once mixed, it offered a lemon oil aroma over a nutty grape and sweet herbal nose. A grape-driven sip gave way to a nutty swallow with a chocolate and spice swallow.

pizarro's voyage

1 1/2 oz La Diablada Pisco
1/2 oz Plantation 5 Year Barbados Rum
3/4 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Pineapple Juice
1/2 oz Grenadine
1/4 oz Vanilla Syrup

Shake with ice and strain into a Highball glass filled with fresh ice. Garnish with a lime slice and cherry, and add a straw.

For my second drink at Eastern Standard, I asked bartender Seth Freidus for one of his creations, Pizarro's Voyage. The recipe was his take on the classic Pisco Punch; the first variance was splitting the pisco spirit base with some aged rum and the second was swapping the simple (or gomme) syrup for pomegranate and vanilla syrups. Moreover, for a pisco, he opted for Macchu Pisco's La Diablada which he found to be very light and floral.
The Pizarro's Voyage's aroma began with lime and cherry notes from the garnish, but later pineapple became more apparent. A lime and pomegranate sip led into a pisco and rum swallow and a pineapple and vanilla finish.

Saturday, October 12, 2013


1 1/2 oz Lustau East India Solera Sherry
1/2 oz Ron Bermudez Aged Rum
3/4 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Vanilla Syrup
1/4 oz Cinnamon Syrup

Shake with ice and strain into a Highball glass filled with fresh ice. Garnish with a lime slice and add a straw.

Two Mondays after my DJ gig, Andrea and I wandered over to Eastern Standard where Kevin-not-Martin and Seth Freidus were manning the bar. For a libation, my eyes drifted over to the new "Sherry Baby" section of the menu. After discussing my options with Seth, I decided to pick Naomi Levi's fall-themed Otoño as a start and to have one of his Tiki-esque drinks later.
The Otoño began with lime oil aromas with hints of grape. The lime juice and grape pairing continued on into the sip, and the swallow offered rum and nutty sherry flavors along with a growing cinnamon finish.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

death or glory

3/4 oz Smith & Cross Rum
3/4 oz Old Monk Rum
1/2 oz Angostura Bitters
1 oz Cherry Heering
1/2 oz Lemon Juice

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

For my second drink at Trina's Starlite Lounge, I asked bartender Emma Hollander about the Death or Glory. I was drawn to in part because of The Clash reference and because Angostura Bitters was listed third in the line up. After asking if the show position was for a reason, she confirmed that it was a bit more than a few dashes and described how bartender Beau Sturm concocted this libation. The heavy Angostura and Cherry Heering pairing reminded me of drinks like Ryan Lotz's Calabura Flip and the Hot Shot from the 1937 UKBG Approved Cocktails book.
The Death or Glory began with a lemon oil aroma with cherry notes and rum funk; later, the drink's nose was more smokey and Angostura driven. A dark lemon and cherry sip led into a rum dried out by Angostura Bitters swallow and a spice and Smith & Cross funky finish.

chasing fireflies

1 1/2 oz El Jimador Tequila Blanco
1/2 oz Green Chartreuse
1/2 oz Orgeat
1/2 oz Orange Juice
1/2 oz Lime Juice

Shake with ice and pour into a rocks glass. Garnish with a lime wedge and add straws.

Two Sundays ago, we ventured over to Trina's Starlite Lounge for dinner. There, we found seats at the bar in front of bartender Emma Hollander. For a first cocktail, I asked Emma for the Chasing Fireflies off of the "Tasty Drinks from Good People" section of their menu, and that guest recipe was donated by Tony Iamunno of Stoddard's.
Chasing Fireflies began with a lime and perfume-y aroma. A citrus sip yielded a smooth orange and lime flavor, and the swallow showcased the tequila followed by a nutty and herbal finish. Perhaps the drink had shades of Trader Vic's Pinky Gonzalez to it.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

shadows & tall trees

2 oz Four Roses Bourbon
1 oz Cocchi Sweet Vermouth
1/2 oz Cynar
1/4 oz Nocino Walnut Liqueur
1/4 oz Cinnamon Syrup
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a Double Old Fashioned glass filled with fresh ice cubes. Garnish with an orange twist and add straws.

Two weeks or so ago during one of my dinner shifts at Russell House Tavern, a guest asked for an old house classic, the Wigglesworth. When I explained that we did not have the requisite apple-cinnamon syrup, she put her faith in me to craft "Fall in a glass" using a similar Bourbon base. As I thought about my autumnal walks to and from work, I thought of the tall walnut trees that have been dropping their finger-staining fruits along the sidewalk; moreover, I considered the change from green to earthier aromas in the air. Working with the Bourbon, I opted for sweet vermouth to make a sort of Manhattan-like rift. With the walnut trees and earthier aromas in mind, I included Nocino and Cynar, respectively. And to tie it all back to the Wigglesworth, I added a bit of spice notes from Angostura Bitters and the cinnamon syrup we have on hand for a few of the current menu items.
The orange twist added fresh citrus notes over the Bourbon and hints of dark nuttiness and cinnamon spice. A sweet malt and grape sip led into a Bourbon swallow with rounded dark bitterness and a cinnamon finish. Amy from Delaware was so pleased with this drink that she ordered a second one and convinced a gentleman to her left to order the third Shadows & Tall Trees of the evening.

Monday, October 7, 2013


1 1/2 oz Old Overholt Rye
1/2 oz Yellow Chartreuse
1/2 oz St. Germain
1/2 oz Lemon Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a rocks glass.

Two Mondays ago, I stopped into Spoke in Davis Square. There, I found a seat in front of bartender California Gold and asked for the Prosector off of the chalk board menu. Cali explained how the recipe was created by Joey Packard at Drink and named by Rachel Maddow. The Prosecutor was Josey's crack at a Last Word variation, but in the end, things were better balanced in this 3:1:1:1 ratio than in a Last Word-like equal parts format.
The rye whiskey's aroma joined the floral notes of St. Germain and the herbal ones of Yellow Chartreuse on the nose. Next, a lemon, malt, and honey sip gave way to a rye, herbal, and floral swallow.

Friday, October 4, 2013

it's arrack!

1 oz Batavia Arrack
1 oz Amontillado Sherry
1/2 oz Yellow Chartreuse
1/2 oz Lemon Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a Collins glass filled with ice. Top with 2 oz ginger beer and garnish with a dash of Angostura Bitters.

For my next drink at Backbar, I asked bartender Sam Treadway for something that they made during their Star Wars week event called "It's Arrack!" (I believe they were calling the bar Admiral Backbar that week). Sam came up with the pun on Admiral Ackbar's "It's a trap!" saying and asked bartender Kyle Powell to come up with the drink based off of the name. Overall, the general feel reminded me a little of the Restauranteur.
The libation's nose contained ginger, herbal, and allspice notes. A sweet, carbonated lemon and grape sip gave way to a Batavia Arrack funky swallow and a nutty, gingery finish.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

:: whisky live (boston) ::

Wednesday night, I attended the Whisky Live event at the Park Plaza Castle. I was quite surprised at the number of types of spirits represented there since I expected a mostly whisk(e)y evening. In fact, it was not until my third booth that I actually tried a grain distillate. I was impressed with the number of Boston bartenders, bar managers, and booze celebrities that lined the booths along side the regular cast of brand ambassadors and distillers. In that way, it made approaching some of the booths more accessible. Here are some of the highlights of the evening:

• When someone asks if you want to taste some really weird stuff that is not on display, definitely agree! Indeed, Arik Torren after showcasing the Fidencio Mezcal lineup, he brought out a trio of bottles that my notes say were "La Venenosa Jalisco." These spirits are made in Jalisco, the land of tequila, but with non-Blue Webber agave; therefore, they are not tequilas and since they fall out of the regions that produce mezcal, they are not that either. In fact, I had never even heard of these agave types. One used Maximilian agave with a single pass over the still to yield a high acidity spirit with vegetal and anise spice notes. The Rhodacantha agave spirit saw two distillation runs through a partially wooden still that had a tree trunk in the middle. It yielded mineral, herbal, and cedar notes. Finally, the Inaquidens, a big agave nicknamed "el bruto," provided a curious root vegetable and cheese aroma with glorious vegetal notes and high acidity after a single pass over the still.
• Ed Hamilton of the Ministry of Rum represented his Caribbean Spirits line. Of note was their Hamilton Jamaican Pot Still Black Rum that had a delightly complex flavor without being overbearing like other Jamaican rums like Smith & Cross or J. Wray. There is also a gold rum under the same label but that was not available to taste.  Another rum series of note was ones made in St. Lucian on a pot still with Guyanan molasses; out of the 5, 7, and 9 year ages, the 7 was the sweet spot in this series.
• I previously mentioned the Sons of Liberty distillery in Rhode Island last year at the Origin tasting event around the time of the Boston Cocktail Summit. Last time I was impressed by their unhopped stout beer distilled into a whiskey. This time despite my skepticism, I was drawn in by their winter seasonal Pumpkin Spice Whiskey. Roasted pumpkins mixed with American single malt whiskey came across as elegantly as some of the finer pumpkin beers out there.
• The Sam Adams booth had two noteworthy items. The first was their 2012 10th Anniversary Utopia beer that was aged in Buffalo Trace whiskey barrels, tawny and ruby port casks, and rum barrels from Nicaragua that finishes out around 29% ABV. The end result is very rich with nutty, port, maple, and caramel flavors. The other was Berkshire Mountain Distillers' Bourbon aged four years in Utopia casks.
• My favorite single malt Scotch was Oban Distiller's Edition secondarily aged in Montilla Fino sherry casks. The whisky displayed elegant oxidized apple and dry white grape flavors on top of the grain and smoke.
• I was also impressed by Diep 9 Genevers made in Belgium with the old style being the winner with its sweet, malty, and earthy notes that did not come across as aggressively as say Bols Genever. Yes, Genevers can be made in both the Netherlands and Belgium.
GrandTen Distilling showcased their collaboration with the Cooley Distillery in Ireland. It is a "South Boston Irish Whiskey" made in Carlingford, Ireland, and bottled here in South Boston.
• Finally, I got to re-taste Butterfly Classic Absinthe based off of a 1905 recipe that was produced here in Boston (although the current spirit is made in Switzerland). The ingredients mentioned are grande wormwood, petitite wormwood, hyssop, melissa, peppermint, anise, star anise, fennel, and citrus. Overall, it came across as licorice, mint, and citrus and rather accessible.


1 1/4 oz Amontillado Sherry
1 oz Cocchi Americano
1/2 oz Ford's Gin
1/8 oz Nux Alpina Walnut Liqueur
1/8 oz Demerara Syrup
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail coupe.

Two Sundays ago, I ventured down to Backbar where I found a seat in front of bartender Sam Treadway. For a start, I asked Sam for the Bamboozled, their spin on the classic Bamboo cocktail. Sam described how the recipe was a collaboration between bartender Melinda Maddox and himself, and their use of walnut liqueur intrigued me for it seemed like it would accentuate the inherent nuttiness in most Amontillados.
The Bamboozled began with a nutty grape aroma that shared light citrus notes. A dark, dry grape sip led into a nutty swallow with a lingering citrus element.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

a tale of two kitties

1 3/4 oz Plantation Dark Rum
3/8 oz Orgeat
3/8 oz Allspice Dram
1/2 oz Lime Juice

Dry shake with a spent half lime shell and pour over a rocks glass filled with crushed ice. Add a straw.

For my next drink, since the place was so busy, I pre-ordered my second drink along with my first so that I did not have to waste too much of their time. When the bartenders saw that my drink was finished, I gave my nod and they embarked on my second libation, A Tale of Two Kitties. Bar manager Tyler Wang later explained the curious name by describing how it was a tribute to "the long lost and beloved Stephen the cat, and his owners love of rum Lion's Tails." The Rum Lion's Tail seems like such a more logical step than the classic Bourbon one as I previously noted in the Hair of the Lion from the North Star Cocktails book.
The Tiki-styled drink began with a lime oil aroma. The lime theme continued into the sip along with almond and caramel notes, and the swallow offered the pairing of the dark rum and the allspice flavors.