Tuesday, December 31, 2013

:: fred's top 10 cocktail moments of 2013 ::

In 2010, I was asked what my favorite drink of the year was and I decided not only to start a list of my favorite drinks I had out on the town and in at the home bar, but I decided to list the top 10 moments of the previous 12 months. The previous ones can be found here: 2010, 2011, and 2012. I feel like I should attempt this somewhat chronologically instead of starting with the most major of the events.

1. Taught a class at Stir
As a sidenote to my publishing Drink & Tell: A Boston Cocktail Book, all of the book signings especially around the holidays and the like, I was invited to teach a class revolving around the book at Barbara Lynch's Stir (the class description can be found here). My co-conspirators were Drink's John Gertsen who made helped me plan the class and coordinated the cocktail assembly and chef Kristen Kish who paired food to the cocktail list. We picked five cocktails to present that began with the Revision and continued on to April in Paris, Tommy Noble, Prospect Park, and Northern Lights. One of the guests that night declared the Tommy Noble one of the best cocktails he has ever tasted. Yeah, Tommy S-G got double love in that list via two different bars' offerings, but he's most certainly worthy of that honor.
2. They got me behind a bar?
Having never bartended professionally before, I was called out for an event in February. For the Blue Room's Spaghetti Western-themed Whiskey and Amari night series, I was paired up with The Hawthorne's Katie Emerson. Katie and I decided on a Women of the Wild West night and came up with nine original drinks to put on the menu. The most adventurous was the choose-your-own-amaro Kitty Leroy named after one of the more infamous promiscuous rascals on the Wild West (and the drink remains on the Blue Room's regular cocktail menu), and my birthday Scaffa tribute to organizer Matt Schrage, the Madame Mustache, surprised me at how well it sold over those four hours. The event was captured in an interview on BostonChefs.

3. Teaching cocktail classes
After getting motivated to pursue bartending professionally, I started looking at BostonChef's job listings and there I spotted an ad for someone to teach a "Manhattan class." Answering that ad has turned into a once-every-three months gig teaching the new recruits of The Welcoming Committee organization how to make classic cocktails. It was great that the host expanded the concept to include gin as well as rye drinks, and each time I assembled a cluster of 10 drinks for them to make. Moreover, by word of mouth, it has spawned some catering gigs at private residences albeit with no or less teaching component.

4. Item crossed off my bucket list
I had always wanted to judge a cocktail competition and 2013 saw me judging two of them. I should definitely be careful with what I ask for. The first was a Licor 43 competition in May; the danger of this one was the number of contestants, the sugar content of a liqueur-sponsored event, and the amount of alcohol consumed. Yes, the finals included tasting the top 3 drinks again. In the end, I was left with a sugar-high, an overload of alcohol, and a bottle of liqueur and a t-shirt as thanks. Luckily, at my dinner afterwards at Estragon, Sahil Mehta was able to suggest a drink that dried out my palate and was low in alcohol to patch me up. The other judging was through the Mutineer Magazine for the Luxardo competition. Unlike the Licor 43 competition, they narrowed down the contestants to three and I had to visit each bartender where they worked. While two were in Boston, the third necessitated an excursion out to Worcester. Luckily, we paired that trip with a beer-themed brunch visit to Armsby Abbey afterwards. Judging this one was tough, but in the end, I realized how important it was to read the instructions for giving a personal reason for creating the drink and relating it to the theme can be the tipping point in an otherwise close contest. Every score-able detail counts, and as a mental note to myself as a competitor, read and re-read the contest instructions.
5. Someone was silly enough to hire me?
2013 found me dropping my search for a day job in my old field and considering a job behind the stick. One of the hurdles was finding someone to hire me. The problem was frustrating, for bar managers found me too knowledgeable (or old) to be a barback and too inexperienced to be a bartender. A few places at least let me stage for the night. Alas, Sam Gabrielli at Russell House Tavern came to the rescue and I answered his Facebook posting about needing a barback ASAP. From a response on a Saturday morning to meeting him at early afternoon to staging that night, my career path was set. I ended up barbacking and learning the ropes in the restaurant world for four weeks from May to June before being bumped up to daytime bartender in June to present. While making cocktails is a part of the job, most of the job just deals with people. And beer. Starting earlier in the year, I regained my passion for beer and began tasting, attending events, and writing about this hopsworthy beverage. In addition, I got interviewed by the OnTheBar app for how that app has helped me as both a bar-goer and a bartender. While it took a few months to feel adjusted to the career change, I am quite happy with my new restaurant family from the fellow bartenders to the servers to the guests. It is rarely a dull or usual day in Harvard Square, and when I told that to Deep Ellum's Max Toste when he was sitting at my bar, he commented that "Harvard Square... it's like the airport."
6. Menu items
No longer was I just creating drinks for the blog, books (see #7), or one-off events, but my creations were finding a home. My Chutes & Ladders was the first to appear in August and is still going strong today, and my Downtown at Dawn has been served on menu as well. Suddenly, the product of various bartenders making my drinks began to become evident on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and other.

7. Cocktails and techniques appearing in books
The year found my recipes appearing in Gary Regan's The Negroni book and another accepted in his 101 Best new Cocktails 2013 book. My experiments on glass chilling made it into Kevin Liu's Craft Cocktails at Home, and things I said about shrubs will apparently appear next year in Michael Dietsch's Shrubs: An Old-Fashioned Drink for Modern Times.

8. Visited new Boston bars
New breath has been given to the Boston cocktail scene with the addition of several new bars and I wrote up a post in September about five of them that frequently got referenced by the food sites across town. I have been pleased with the vermouth- and sherry-laden offerings at Belly Wine Bar, the Tiki drinks at Blue Dragon, and the food-friendly libations at Sarma. Craigie on Main's sister, Kirkland Tap and Trotter is a welcome addition to the neighborhood. And nearby to Blue Dragon and Drink is Tavern Road making Fort Point a destination instead of a one-stop spot. I am not sure when Casa B opened, but we have enjoyed sitting at Taso's bar there this year. Harvard Square has gained the Sinclair and Beat Hotel, and I look forward to checking out Alden & Harlow soon. Others have opened like Commonwealth, State Park, Ribelle, and Fairsted Kitchen that I have not yet made it to.

9. Thirst Boston!
As a successor to the Boston Cocktail Summit, this year's event continued on the tradition of making Boston's spot in the drink world better known. I wrote up my highlights, but the focus on the Daiquiri Time Out, strange laybacks including Galliano and Bols Yogurt, and Fernet Branca twister were pretty entertaining. Talks on sherry and rum were educational in addition to me picking up an appreciation for Irish Coffee as a beverage and art form. I am glad that they made it so easy to attend for I was too busy with my new job to make it to Tales of the Cocktail or Portland Cocktail Week this year; perhaps I will find the time next year for those events.
10. Randomness of bartending?
Like previous years, I stalled out at 9. For 10, perhaps it is the randomness that working at a bar has afforded me. I have had customers come from as far away as Michigan bearing gifts of Sazerac lollipops -- guests who read the blog and found out when and where I was working. Luckily, enough people use the OnTheBar app and have followed me (to the point that I surpassed the Century Club goal). I have had the honor of reversing the situation of serving bartenders who for years had been serving me. Various industry professionals from brewers to distillers (such as Maggie from Privateer who took the above photo) have sat at my bar. Being photographed and tweeted about has been great, but I have more frequently played the roll of Boston ambassador for tourists and locals alike by giving bar, restaurant, museum, shopping and entertainment suggestions. And in one instance, saving a pair of female guests from going to places that were put on a list someone gave them -- which included the Pine Street Inn (homeless shelter) and Centerfolds (strip club, although I did not assume that they might not want to go there) that were mixed in with good suggestions. Perhaps Max Toste's comparison to an airport is quite fitting!

Monday, December 30, 2013

emperor's new clothes

3/4 oz Bourbon
3/4 oz Cynar
3/4 oz Bittermens Citron Sauvage
1/2 oz Green Chartreuse

Stir with ice and strain into a coupe glass.
Two Mondays ago, we wandered down to the South End to visit bartender Sahil Mehta at Estragon. For a first cocktail, I had the Emperor's New Clothes since the combination of ingredients seemed like it could do no wrong. The drink began with a minty and Cynar funky herbal aroma. Caramel and malt on the sip led into Bourbon in the swallow and a minty, bitter herbal finish.

Friday, December 27, 2013

little miss

1 1/2 oz North Shore Aquavit (Krogstad)
1/2 oz Green Chartreuse
1/2 oz Dry Vermouth (Dolin)
1/4 oz Orgeat (BG Reynolds)
1/4 oz Lemon Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass that had be pretreated with the oils from two orange twists. Garnish with an additional orange twist.

After the Stranger Than Paradise, I opened up the Sanctuaria: The Dive Bar of Cocktail Bars and spotted the Little Miss. Matt Seiter, the book's author, described how he had just finished his first batch of orgeat and then he reached for a bottle of Green Chartreuse since he knew how well those two play together. Moreover, the savory notes of the aquavit seemed to fit perfectly in place here.
The Little Miss greeted the nose with an orange, star anise, and herbal bouquet. A white wine sip with hints of citrus and orgeat richness gave way to an herbal and floral swallow. As the drink warmed up, the flavor profile gained more caraway and anise notes from the aquavit.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

stranger than paradise

2 oz Atlantico Rum (Caliche)
3/4 oz Amaro Montenegro
3/4 oz Passion Fruit Syrup (BG Reynolds)
3/4 oz Lemon Juice

Shake with ice and carefully strain into a Hurricane mug with a 1/2 oz ruby port (Taylor Fladgate) at the bottom and filled with crushed ice. The port will float up over time.

Two Sundays ago, I made a drink that I had spotted in the ShakeStir website's recipe database called Stranger Than Paradise. The drink was created by Jade Brown Godfrey of Manhattan's Pouring Ribbons, and like her First Rodeo, this one had a bit of layering to it. Jade was, "inspired by a recent trip to Miami (where I was very much out of my element) and all of the Miami vices I had. Part tiki, part delicious."
The Stranger Than Paradise began with a rum bouquet accented by tropical fruit aromas from the passion fruit which generated an almost pineapple sensation when combined with the lemon notes. That pineapple-like note continued on into the sip along with orange flavors, and the swallow showcased the rum followed by herbal guava-like elements on the finish. As the drink progressed, the flavors became more identifiable as containing Amaro Montenegro perhaps due to the ice melt, and later, rich grape notes entered as the port layer rose to the top of the drink.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

windsor knot

1 oz Pierre Ferrand 1840 Cognac
1 oz George Dickel Rye (Sazerac 6 Year)
1/2 oz Dolin Dry Vermouth
1/2 oz Cynar
1 tsp Benedictine

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

After the Act of Faith, I decided to make a recipe posted by Gary Regan in his 101 Best Drinks of 2013 series. That libation was the Windor Knot created by Richard Yarnall of Orange County's Bartender's Cabinet. The combination of ingredients reminded me of a Vieux Carré where the Cynar and dry vermouth took the place of the classic's sweet vermouth and bitters.
The Windor Knot showcased an orange oil nose over an otherwise herbal aroma. Caramel and malt on the sip gave way to rye and Cognac on the swallow and bitter herbal and vanilla-like notes on the swallow. Overall, the Windsor Know was not as grape driven as the Vieux Carré but equally as good as a sipper.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

act of faith

1 1/2 oz Jamaican Rum (Appleton Reserve)
1/2 oz Pedro Ximénez Sherry (Lustau)
1/2 oz Blackstrap Rum (Cruzan)
1/4 oz Angostura Bitters

Build in a rocks glass with a large ice cube. Stir to chill and garnish with an orange twist.

Two Fridays ago, we began the evening with the Act of Faith that appeared in a recent New York Times article. The recipe was crafted by Dan Greenbaum of Manhattan's The Beagle and Attaboy, and the combination of rums, Pedro Ximénez sherry, and spice seemed rather appealing.
The orange twist's aroma brightened that of the rum's blackstrap molasses and sherry's dark grape notes. The aroma prepared the mouth for the sip which offered raisiny grape, caramel, and molasses notes; next, the swallow shared a sharp and dry medley of rum, grape, and Angostura's spice. Interestingly, most of the sherry and molasses notes were pushed into the sip by the hefty slug of bitters instead of residing in the swallow where they most often can be found.

Monday, December 23, 2013

more scotch than sincerity

2 oz Cutty Sark Blended Scotch
3/4 oz Cinnamon Syrup
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Cherry Heering
2 dash Angostura Bitters

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

A few Sundays ago, I ventured down to Stoddard's for a drink since bar manager Jamie Walsh had mentioned that the cocktail list was going to be updated soon. Unfortunately, I was a day or two early to catch the new list, but bartender Tony Iamunno knew what the changes were going to be. After listing a few of the possibilities, he mentioned that one of his favorite new recipes did not make the cut this time around. That drink's name, More Scotch Than Sincerity, was rather curious; Tony explained that a mutual friend Whitney penned the phrase in her LiveJournal, and he borrowed it for this libation.
The cocktail's lemon twist contributed bright citrus notes to the cherry aroma. A lemon and malt sip gave way to Scotch on the swallow followed by cinnamon, cherry, and spice on the finish.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

absinthe drip

The theme for this month's Mixology Monday (MxMo LXXX) was picked by Nick of The Straight Up blog. The theme he chose was "Anise," and he elaborated on the theme with his description of, "While I had a few ideas I've been kicking around for this months theme, ...I ultimately decided on one of my favorite flavors: anise. Although great any time of year, there is something about colder weather and the holidays that really sets my anise fetish into overdrive. While past MxMos have seen a few specific sources of anise, such as pastis and absinthe, I wanted to open things up to anything anise flavored, the more unique the better. Most folks have something with anise notes laying around, whether it's absinthe or pastis, ouzo, Genepe, even Green Chartreuse, Peychaud's, Raki, etc. Maybe get creative and make something tasty with some star anise, like a syrup, infusion or tincture. Show us that riff on a Sazerac or Improved Holland Gin Cocktail that you love, or create something entirely new."

I originally wanted to do a drink that used Peychaud's Bitters as a base spirit, but there were few save for the Gunshop Fizz that came to mind that I had not tried yet. And I did think of recreating a Sazerac in Tom & Jerry format, but I recalled that I had already written about the Sazerac Toddy. Next, my mind drifted over to the bottle of Butterfly Absinthe that had been sent to me and I considered doing an Absinthe Suissese, but I got bogged down over picking the right recipe as to whether it had crème de menthe, orgeat, cream, egg white, orange blossom water, or other. The earliest recipe I found was in Maloney's 1900 The Twentieth-Century Cocktail Guide for Mixing Fancy Drinks but it was just absinthe, orgeat, and egg white. With such a minimalist recipe, I decided to take a step further back and go with an Absinthe Drip.
Over the course of a few events through the last 14 months or so that have included a pre-Boston Cocktail Summit Origin Spirits tasting event, Whiskey Live, and Boston Thirst, I have had the honor of meeting the people behind Butterfly Absinthe. The spirit is a recreation of 1902 Boston recipe that benefits today from the elegance of modern day Swiss absinthe producers. The ingredients list are historically the same with wormwood, hyssop, melissa, peppermint, anise, star anise, fennel, and citrus, but no sample of the original of the early 20th century product has turned up to confirm the flavor profile. I was quite pleased when they decided to send me a sample of the absinthe for review and delighted when they also included a pair of absinthe glasses as well (one pictured above). The glasses have a mark for an ounce and a half pour of absinthe and I was able to determine where the 4:1 and 5:1 dilution marks would lay. While we do not own a fancy absinthe fountain, Andrea did purchase a rather mesmerizing absinthe balancier years ago -- a similar one tick-tocking away can be seen here in action on Youtube. Since most modern quality absinthes do not require any sweetener, I skipped the sugar cube and instead filled the balancier with crushed ice. I added ice water until the desired 4:1 dilution was reached in the glass.
Absinthe Drip
• 1 1/2 oz Absinthe (Butterfly)
• 6 - 7 1/2 oz Ice-chilled Water (6 oz)
Slowly add ice water to the absinthe in a glass.
With the 4:1 dilution, the 130 proof spirit was decreased to 13% ABV, the approximate strength of many wines, and it gained a beautiful louche. Our tasting notes included anise, fennel, licorice, mint, lemon, and wormwood, and the low proof and clean spirit was definitely gentle enough to drink even without sugar added. With the sugar, the drip would be the simplest of classic cocktails for the spirit, bitters, and water are already in the mix.

Thanks to Nick for hosting this month's spiced event, and cheers to all the rest of the Mixology Mondayers for keeping the lifeblood flowing!

Friday, December 20, 2013

razor ramon

1 3/4 oz Siete Leguas Reposado Tequila
3/4 oz Punt e Mes
1/2 oz Coffee Syrup
1/2 oz Campari
1 dash Mole Bitters

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

After the Negroni variation, there was another Campari recipe that Ryan Connelly wanted to make for me at Belly. The drink was the Razor Ramon which he named after one of his favorite professional wrestlers. Ryan was inspired to create this drink after attending the coffee-cocktail seminar at Thirst Boston taught by Tyler Wang of Kirkland Tap & Trotter and Jake Robinson of Counter Culture; there, he learned how well French press espresso coffee pairs with Campari, and for this drink he utilized a coffee syrup instead. Back in June, I documented one of the coffee-cocktail events that was part class and part competition which was a precursor to the Thirst Boston talk.
The Razor Ramon began with agave aromas along with a dark herbal note. The coffee's roast paired with the Punt e Mes' grape on the sip. Finally, the tequila began the swallow that ended with the coffee and Campari combination that was complemented by the Punt e Mes' bitter notes and the chocolate bitters.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

[little camillo]

1 1/4 oz Pimm's #1
1 oz La Garracha Fino Sherry
3/4 oz Campari

Stir with ice and strain into a rocks glass with fresh ice. Garnish with a grapefruit twist, add a pinch of salt over the ice, and add straws.

After West Bridge, I headed across the 1 Kendall Square complex to Belly where Ryan Connelly was tending bar. Ryan mentioned that the cocktail part of the menu had not change much since the last time I was there, but he had a bunch of new ideas that he wanted to showcase. The one that sounded the best was a sherry-fied Negroni variation that utilized Pimm's. The inspiration for Pimm's was how well it matched Campari given its bitter orange notes; moreover, Pimm's #1 is a gin-based liqueur that would symbolize the regular gin in the Negroni. I dubbed the drink the Little Camillo (although I was thinking the Little Count) after Count Camillo Negroni with a nod to the Little Giuseppe given the salt over the ice aspect.
The grapefruit twist provided much of the drink's aroma. A fruit sip shared much of the sherry's white grape notes. The Pimm's berry flavors bled into the swallow where it balanced the Campari rather well. Indeed, as the salt slowly worked its way into the drink, Campari's bitterness level dropped.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

hedy lamarr

1 1/2 oz Laird's Bonded Apple Brandy
3/4 oz Meletti Amaro
1/2 oz Punt e Mes
1/4 oz Lavender Honey Syrup (1:1)
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a rocks glass.

For my second drink at West Bridge, I asked bartender Byron Lepine for the Hedy Lamarr from the cocktail menu. Bar manager Josh Taylor later explained that the recipe was created by fellow West Bridge bartender Mike Fleming, but it was Mike's girlfriend who named it. The strength of the barreled in bond spirit versus the lighter ingredients conjured a Samson and Delilah type of thing, and that made her think of Hedy Lamarr who portrayed Delilah in Cecil B. DeMille's 1949 movie Samson and Delilah. Josh initially thought it was a riff on a Marconi Wireless due to Hedy's contributions to wireless communication.
The apple brandy's aroma mingled with floral notes from the Meletti and honey. A fruity grape, caramel, and honey sip gave way to apple, bitter, floral, and spice elements on the swallow. Moreover, as the drink warmed up it gained an interesting bubble gum note.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

the exporter

1 oz Bols Genever
3/4 oz Drambuie
1/2 oz Becherovka
1/4 oz Falernum
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1 dash Fee's Whiskey Barrel Bitters

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

Two Wednesdays ago, I wandered down to Westbridge after work where Josh Taylor and Byron Lepine were tending bar. For a first drink, I requested the Exporter, and Josh explained how it was Alex Howell's initial idea for a menu item for a Drambuie dinner and how he helped Alex tweak it. Although the libation did not make it on to the Drambuie event menu, it did make it on to the restaurant's regular cocktail menu.
The Exporter presented lemon oil over the Genever's malty aroma. Lemon, honey, and malt in the sip led into Genever, clove, and spice on the swallow. Overall, the combination of Becherovka and falernum combined well to offer a bounty of winter spice notes.

Monday, December 16, 2013

hit & run

2 oz Four Roses Bourbon
3/4 oz Maple Syrup
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
3 dash Regan's Orange Bitters

Shake with ice and strain into a rocks glass. Garnish with an orange twist.
After Brick & Mortar, I made my way down the Red Line to downtown to get dinner at Silvertone. Later that evening was a charity night for injured bartender Alex Homans who was hit while bicycling to work at Fairsted Kitchen. The featured cocktail was John Child's creation, the Hit & Run, to raise money for Alex's recovery and loss of wages. Once mixed, the Hit & Run proffered an orange oil nose that later became more maple driven. The maple paired up with the citrus notes on the sip, and the swallow showcased the whiskey with a citrus finish. Despite the different base spirits, the Hit & Run reminded me a bit of the Apple Jack Rabbit.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

swinney park

2 oz Laird's Bonded Apple Brandy
1/2 oz Cinnamon Syrup
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
3 dash Peychaud's Bitters

Shake with ice and strain into a coupe glass.

A few Tuesdays ago, I ventured down to Brick & Mortar where Lea Madda and Crystal were bartending. For a first drink, I asked Lea for the Swinney Park. Lea described how Nic Mansur created the drink and Matt Schrage came up with the name; moreover, the name refers to the park in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where Johnny Appleseed is memorialized despite his grave being elsewhere in town. With apple brandy, cinnamon syrup, and lemon juice, the drink seemed like a win; the extra flavor from Peychaud's could not hurt even if Lea insisted that it was there "mostly for the color." Actually, the Peychaud's reminded me of Jackson Cannon's preferred touch to the Jack Rose cocktail.
Indeed, the Peychaud's did donate a pinkish hue to the drink that was reminiscent of apple skins, and the aroma was apple and herbal-spiced from the anise and cinnamon elements. Next, a lemon sip was much more dry than tart and led into an apple, cinnamon, and spice swallow.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

packard twins

1 1/2 oz Rye Whiskey (Ryan & Wood)
3/4 oz Sherry (Lustau East India Solera)
2 dash Maraschino (1/4 oz Luxardo)
2 dash Angostura Bitters
2 dash Orange Bitters (Regan's)

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

A few Wednesdays ago, I opened up the Big Bartender's Book and spotted the Packard Twins that had been adapted from a cocktail found in the Angostura Recipes book from 1934. The text provides the history that it was created at the Hotel Barclay, and I assume that it was the one in Manhattan. The name most likely refers to the Packard Twin Six line of American luxury cars that were being produced between 1916 and 1923. The car was so stunning that it also spawned other drinks including the Twin Six from Hugo Ensslin's 1917 Recipes for Mixed Drinks.
The Packard Twins presented the sherry's grape, the Maraschino's nuttiness, and the bitters' spice to the nose. A grape, cherry, and malt sip led into the rye on the swallow followed by a spiced, nutty finish. In a way, the Packard Twins reminded me of a funkier and less bitter Red Hook or a more complex Buffalo Cocktail.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


1 1/2 oz Lustau Dry Amontillado
3/4 oz Laird's Bonded Apple Brandy
3/4 oz Averna
1/2 oz Honey Syrup
1/4 oz Lemon Juice

Stir with ice and strain into a Collins glass filled with ice. Top with 2 oz soda and float 2 dash Angostura Bitters. Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg and a lemon twist; add a straw.

A few Mondays ago, we stopped into the Citizen after my DJ gig. For a drink, bartender Sean Frederick wanted to make the recipe for the 2013 winner of the Vino de Jerez competition, the Ciclope. The Ciclope was created by Eric Simpkins of The Lawrence in Atlanta, GA, and it definitely seemed like a worthy victor since apple brandy and sherry have paired so well together in the past.
The Ciclope delivered a lemon oil, allspice, and nutmeg aroma. A carbonated honey, caramel, and grape sip gave way to a raisiny and nutty swallow with hints of apple and herbalness.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


2 oz Bols Genever
1 1/2 oz Punt e Mes
1/2 oz Benedictine
1 dash Angostura Bitters
1 dash Regan's Orange Bitters

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

For my second drink at Trina's Starlite Lounge, I focused in on another drink from the "Tasty Drinks from Good People" section of their menu that I had spotted when I had Tony Iamunno's Chasing Fireflies last time. That drink was the Zander from Isaac Sussman of the Independent; I was not sure if he named it after the European river fish, The Simpsons character, conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, or other. The combination of grain spirit, Punt e Mes, and Benedictine made me think of Green Street's Creole (their substitution in this Amer Picon-light world), but it was closer to Green Street's William of Orange that Emily Stanley crafted for the Bartenders on the Rise event back in 2010.
The Zander presented a malty and lemon oil aroma over that of the Punt e Mes' dark grape. The sip's caramelly grape flavors possessed a full mouthfeel from the Genever's malt, and the swallow showed off the rest of the Genever notes with a bitter, herbal, and spice finish. I believe that Andrea summed up the drink with the three words "black cherry toast," for they ended up in quotation marks at the end of my tasting notes.

Monday, December 9, 2013


2 oz Zaya 12 Year Rum
3/4 oz Contrabandista Amontillado Sherry
1/2 oz Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao
4 dash Angostura Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a coupe glass.

A few Wednesdays ago, Andrea and I ventured over to Trina's Starlite Lounge for post-dinner dessert and drinks. For a first cocktail, I asked bartender Beau Sturm for the night's super-secret drink, the Smuggler, that they had tweeted about earlier in the day. Beau explained that Trina's-alum Dan Beretsky had thought of the idea, but it was Beau who eventually put proportions to the ingredients.
The Smuggler presented a dark rum nose with hints of orange peel and grape. A caramel sip with grape notes gave way to the rich dark rum swallow. The rum then blended into the Curaçao's orange peel and sherry's nutty flavors and finished with Angostura's spice.

hotel homans

1 oz Partida Tequila
1/2 oz Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao
7 dash Angostura Bitters
7 dash Peychaud's Bitters

Shake with ice and strain into a flute glass. Top with Kenwood sparkling wine and garnish with an orange twist.

A few Mondays ago, we headed over to Backbar for one of the guest bartender nights to raise money for Alex Homans to aid in his recovery after being hit by a car as he biked to work at Fairsted Kitchen. That night, the guest bartender was Sam Gabrielli of Russell House Tavern, and he presided with resident bartenders Sam Treadway and Kyle Powell. Gabrielli did this to honor his friend who helped mentor him at Temple Bar and Russell House Tavern, and Sam attributed Alex's guidance as what helped him become the great bar manager that he is today. While I got the blue Daiquiri Time Out in respect for Alex's love of all things blue Curaçao, Andrea opted for the non-blue Hotel Homans for she is quite the Seelbach fan. Kyle, who made the drink for her that night, described how this tequila variation had to veer from their preferred ratio as the agave flavors were dominating the flavor profile.
The orange twist brightened the agave aroma of the Hotel Homans. The sip offered a carbonated, citrussy, and sparkling wine medley that led into tequila swallow that shared more wine flavors as well as spice and bitter complexity from the hefty doses of Angustura and Peychaud's.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

sherry duval

1 oz Lustau Oloroso Sherry
1 oz Bols Genever
3/4 oz Cynar
1/4 oz Maple Syrup
1 dash Fee's Black Walnut Bitters (omitted)

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

After the Swedish Sweet Tart, we were in the mood for a nightcap. I perused my list of drinks to make and spotted one from Timothy Miner of the Long Island Bar in Brooklyn. Tim created entered the recipe in one of ShakeStir's flash cocktail competitions with the description, "This is a great stirred drink for Autumn. It is rich, and nutty with a long finish. It would do well by a fireplace in New England." Well, we had neither a fireplace nor walnut bitters, but we decided to give this one a go.
The Sherry Duval began with a nutty sherry nose that shared malty notes of the Genever. The Cynar's caramel and the sherry's grape paired with the maple syrup's richness on the sip; next, the sherry's raisin provided the structure of the swallow that was modified by the sharper herbal elements of the Genever and the earthier bitter elements of the Cynar on the finish. Overall, the maple syrup really tied the drink together especially the sherry and Cynar as it has with the Farmhouse Flip and the Mortal Sunset, respectively.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

swedish sweet tart

1 oz North Shore Aquavit (North Shore Private Reserve)
3/4 oz Swedish Punsch (Kronan)
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Marie Brizard Crème de Cacao

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a flamed orange twist (not flamed, discarded).
A few Saturdays ago, we began the evening by turning to Sanctuaria: The Dive Bar of Cocktail Bars for inspiration. There, I spotted a drink that paired Swedish Punsch with aquavit called the Swedish Sweet Tart. Despite the name, I was quite curious and was lured in. Once mixed, the drink proffered an orange oil aroma over chocolate notes from the crème de cacao and sweet notes from the Swedish punsch. Next, a lemony sip led into a rum, cacao, and herbal swallow with a lingering caraway finish. Overall, the drink was not very caraway driven, like many aquavit recipes have a tendency of being, save for a pleasant aftertaste that grew throughout the drink.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

winter cobbler

1 1/2 oz Scotch
1 oz Honey Ginger Syrup
1/2 oz Palo Cortado Sherry
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
2 dash House Aromatic Bitters

Shake with ice and strain into a Julep cup (or Highball glass). Pack with crushed ice, garnish with mint, and add a straw. Perhaps this was built in the Julep cup though, sans shake/strain step, since my notes do not specify.

A few Wednesdays ago, we ventured down to Deep Ellum for dinner. For a first drink, I asked bartender Jennifer Salucci for the Winter Cobbler that just appeared on the menu. I am always pleased when bars take old non-cocktail, non-highball styles like the Cobbler, Fix, and Zoom and give new life to them. Here, Deep Ellum made a seasonal Cobbler that read like a riff on the Penicillin Cocktail; this was not their first riff on the neo-classic for they had the agave-based Little Branch Cocktail on the menu three years ago.
The Winter Cobbler began with a mint aroma over a Scotch and sherry nose. Honey flavors sweetened the lemon and grape sip, and the swallow offered Scotch and raisiny notes with a growing ginger signature after successive gulps. Overall, I was quite impressed at how well Palo Cortado sherry paired here with Scotch and how much depth it added to the Penicillin Cocktail-like base.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

kojo cocktail

1 oz Greenhat Gin (Martin Miller Westbourne)
1 oz Oloroso (Lustau)
1/2 oz Falernum (Velvet)
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/4 oz Simple Syrup
1 dash Decanter Bitters (Angostura)

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

A few Thursdays ago, I decided to make the Kojo Cocktail that I had spotted on Derek Brown's Twitter feed. After hearing Derek speak about sherry at Thirst Boston, I was excited to try one of his sherry creations. I suspect that this drink is named after Kojo Nnamdi who hosts a public radio talk show on WAMU 88.5 in Washington, DC, where Derek has been a guest.
The Kojo Cocktail began with a grapefruit oil, nutty oxidized grape, and clove aroma. The lemon flavors were greater than the grape on the sip; next, the swallow began with the nutty sherry notes and ended with clove, juniper, allspice, and a lemon tartness.

Monday, December 2, 2013

1818 cocktail

1 oz El Maestro Oloroso Sherry
1 oz Old Monk Rum
3/4 oz Punt e Mes
1/4 oz Benedictine
1 dash Mole Bitters

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

A few Tuesdays ago, I ventured over to Spoke Wine Bar where Lena Webb was bartending. For a drink idea, I asked this fortified wine enthusiast to sherry-fy a cocktail for me. Her chosen starting point was Drink's 1919 Cocktail, and she subbed the rye for sherry and switched around some of the proportions. When she made it for me, instead of the Punt e Mes listed above, Lena reached for Dolin Sweet Vermouth. While we agreed that the libation was good that way, it would perhaps be better with Punt e Mes or a more robust vermouth like Carpano Antica. Therefore, I made it the next day at work as written above save for using Lustau Amontillado Sherry but leaving out the mole bitters. Served this way with added bitter notes, the drink truly did shine. Finally, a coin toss was in order to name the variation the 1818 or the 1819.
With the Punt e Mes recipe, the aged rum added a funkiness to the grape aroma. A rich, complex grape sip shared caramel flavors from the rum. The rum then continued on into the swallow where it mingled with the Punt e Mes bitter and the Benedictine herbal notes.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

etched in time

1 1/2 oz Ron Abuelo Rum
1/2 oz Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
1/2 oz Luxardo Amaretto
1/4 oz Luxardo Amaro Abano
1/4 oz Angostura Bitters
1/2 oz Lemon Juice

Stir with ice and strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a dried rosebud.
After the Edgar Allen Poe, I searched through bartender Sahil Mehta's cocktail recipe notebook and spotted the Etched in Time. The drink was one of Sahil's creations for the Angostura competition. Since the drink was rather amber, Sahil wanted something to be trapped in there, so he garnished with the dried rosebud. Once mixed for me, the Etched in Time greeted the nose with a cherry and amaretto aroma. The lemon sip shared a vague fruitiness, and the swallow began with rum followed by dark herbal notes, nuttiness, and Angostura Bitters' dryness and spice.