Friday, February 28, 2014

11 + 2 / 12 + 1

1 1/2 oz Rabarbaro Zucca Amaro
1 1/2 oz Green Chartreuse
2 dash Bitter Truth Grapefruit Bitters

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

Two Thursdays ago, we got dinner at Tasty Burger in the Fenway and headed across the street to the Citizen. There, John Mayer and Katie were tending bar, and for a first drink, John suggested a Zucca cocktail. The curiously named "11 + 2 / 12 + 1" might have stemmed from the proportions all having 1's, 2's, and /'s; however, John explained that both "11 + 2" and "12 + 1" both have the same 13 letters in them. And that seemed like a good enough reason to have a drink!
The 11+2/12+1 began with a bright grapefruit aroma over herbal notes. A sweet grape sip gave way to a swallow where the Green Chartreuse was smoothed over by the Zucca. Finally, light citrus notes finished off this simple but elegant libation.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

primrose hill

1 3/4 oz Aviation Gin
1/2 oz Dry Vermouth (Dolin)
1/4 Maraschino Liqueur (Luxardo)
1 barspoon Fernet Branca

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
Two Saturdays ago, I was looking through Imbibe Magazine's online supplement to the March/April 2014 issue, and I spotted the Primrose Hill created by Erik Carlson of Bastille in Seattle. Erik named the recipe after a stylish London neighborhood, and the idea of a Martini variation seemed rather appealing. Once mixed, the Primrose Hill offered a light minty and menthol aroma. A soft wine sip gave way to juniper, nutty, and cherry notes on the swallow along with a lingering menthol finish. Overall, the balance reminded me of a dry offspring of a Martinez and a Hanky Panky.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

three's company

1 oz Bols Genever
1 oz Carpano Antica (Dolin Sweet Vermouth)
1 oz Avèze Gentian Liqueur (Saler's)

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

After the Merry Widow Cocktail, I turned to a recipe I had spotted in an entry on the Bols Bartending's Traveling Cocktail Book via their Facebook page. The Three's Company was a recipe crafted by Tommy Klus back when he was at Kask in Portland, Oregon, and it came across like a fuller and sweeter variation on the White Negroni. And perhaps similar to the Manhattan riffs out there using gentian liqueurs like the Second Wife and Harry Palmer.
The twist's orange oils brightened the malty aromas from the Genever. A semi-sweet malt and grape sip gave way to the Genever's wormwood and other botanicals complementing the Saler's gentian notes on the swallow. Overall, the Three's Company was much more grape and malt forward than I recall the White Negroni being.

Monday, February 24, 2014

merry widow cocktail

1/2 Dry Gin (1 1/4 oz Wireworks)
1/2 Dry Vermouth (1 1/4 Dolin)
2 dash Benedictine (3/8 oz)
3 dash Absinthe (1/8 oz Butterfly)
1 dash Peychaud's Bitters

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

Two Thursdays ago, I opened up Hugo Ensslin's 1916 Recipes for Mixed Drinks and spotted the Merry Widow Cocktail. The combination of gin, dry vermouth, Benedictine, and absinthe reminded me of the Joan Blondell with different proportions and bitters, so I was definitely willing to give this one a go. If I had to guess, I assume the drink was named after the operetta The Merry Widow that opened in 1905 and later got adapted into film and was still rather popular when Ensslin published his book.
The Merry Widow Cocktail began with a lemon oil and herbal aroma with hints of anise. A dry wine sip led into a swallow where the gin melded with the Benedictine's herbal and the absinthe and Peychauds' spice notes.

Saturday, February 22, 2014


1 1/2 oz Avuá Cachaça
1/2 oz St. Germain
1/2 oz Green Chartreuse
1/2 oz Lime Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a rocks glass. Garnish with a spritz of Chichicapa Mezcal.

For my second drink at Backbar, I asked bartender Sam Treadway for the Kekua. Sam described how this was Joe Cammarata's creation where he crossed Ben Sandrof's Esmeralda with Josie Packard's Prosecutor. In searching for a name, Joe google-searched "Esmeralda" and spotted that it was the name of the female character in The Hunchback of Notre-Dame. That got him to thinking about the Notre Dame football team, and how linebacker Manti Te'o faced adversity with the death of his girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, during the 2012 season. The story got a lot of press for the wonderful concept of powering through a game despite the grief, and it received even more press when it was discovered that the girlfriend was imaginary. This drink was real though... I swear!
The Kekua offered grassy and smoke aromas before giving way to a dry lime sip that shared a vague fruit note from the St. Germain. Next, the swallow began with a grassy and herbal combination that was followed by a floral and mineral finish.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

transatlantic scaffa

1 1/2 oz Rhum Clément VSOP Rum
1/2 oz Laird's Apple Brandy
1 oz Cappelletti Aperitivo
3 dash Buddha's Palm Tincture

Build in a rocks glass and stir without ice. Serve room temperature.

Two Sundays ago, I paid a visit to Backbar where Sam Treadway and Kyle Powell were tending bar. For a first libation, I asked Kyle for the Transatlantic Scaffa, one of the two room temperature cocktails on the menu. The recipe was described as a team effort with Joe Cammarata leading the concept, and Kyle and Sam helping to polish up the details. The sweetener here was Cappelletti, a bitter aperitif that came across as a mix of sweet vermouth and Campari. The other Scaffa was the R & B, a 3 to 1 ratio of rye to Benedictine accented with a dash each of Angostura and Angostura Orange Bitters.
The Transatlantic Scaffa began with an herbal grape aroma with hints of apple. Next, a sweet grape sip led into a mineral and herbal swallow. Overall, the Scaffa reminded me of Scott Holliday's Defensio, a rhum agricole-based Lucien Gaudin.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

rubberband man

1 oz Spiced Caña Brava Rum
1 oz Pierre Ferrand Cognac
1/2 oz Cardamaro
1 dash Benedictine
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a rocks glass with a large ice cube. Garnish with 2 cherries and flame an orange twist over the top.
Two Thursdays ago, I ventured down to Downtown Crossing after work to visit the Highball Lounge. There, I found a seat in front of bartender Shaher Misif and requested his tribute to The Spinners, the Rubberband Man. Once mixed, the cocktail provided an orange and herbal aroma that led into a dry grape sip. The swallow contained mostly Cognac flavors at first with a spice finish; later, the swallow had more rum notes with the ice melt dilution. Overall, it came across a bit more like an Old Fashioned given the spirits' heat than a Manhattan or a Vieux Carré variation that I first envisioned given the recipe.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

old ironsides

2 oz Spiced Rum (Kraken)
1/2 oz Cherry Heering
1/2 oz Cynar

Stir with ice and strain into a rocks glass with a large ice cube. Garnish with a cherry (omitted).

After the Kangaroo, I switched speeds and picked up a newer book, Food & Wines: Cocktails 2013, for inspiration. The drink that called out to us was Sean Kenyon's Old Ironsides that he crafted at William & Graham in Denver. The combination of Cherry Heering and Cynar seemed appealing for it worked well in drinks like Not the First Cyn, and I felt their richness would pair well with Kraken spiced rum.
Old Ironsides shared a rich caramel, vanilla, and cherry aroma that led into a caramel sip. The swallow then offered a complex rum, cherry, vanilla, and spice medley. Overall, it was interesting how the cherry notes played hide and seek in this darkly flavored mix over successive sips.

Monday, February 17, 2014


2/3 Dry Gin (1 1/2 oz Beefeater)
2 dash Yellow Chartreuse (1/2 oz)
1 dash Maraschino Liqueur (1/4 oz Luxardo)
1 dash Dry Vermouth (3/4 oz Dolin)
1 dash Orange Bitters (Regan's)

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

Two Wednesdays ago, I was flipping through Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars: 1903-1933 when I re-spotted the Kangaroo. I had originally skipped the recipe for there is a better known Kangaroo, the Vodka Martini, and I felt like I should avoid confusion. However, this did not stop me when it came to the gin Cosmopolitan that pre-dated the 1980's born phenomena. Similarly, this Kangaroo pre-dates the Vodka Martini being called that name, so I decided that I should make it as well. The parallels between the two Cosmopolitans and the two Kangaroos are similar with the older one being gin and the newer one vodka. While the newer Kangaroo is more similar to akin to a Martini, this gin one is like a gussied up Puritan Cocktail. In interpreting the recipe, I made it a bit more dry vermouth heavy than the proportions suggest in order to balance the larger-than-a-dash-or-two amounts of the other ingredients.
The Kangaroo began with a honey herbal aroma with a hint of Maraschino's nutty cherry notes. A honeyed white wine sip led into a gin swallow with herbal notes from the Yellow Chartreuse being rounded over by the Maraschino's fruity finish.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

domino sour

The theme for this month's Mixology Monday (MxMo LXXXII) was picked by Andrea of the GinHound blog. The theme she chose was "Sours," one of the most basic of the classic drink styles and often one of the most accessible. Andrea elaborated on the theme with her description of, "Some of the most iconic cocktails are Sours... There is a reason for this: A perfectly balanced sour is a work of art. What has happened to the Margarita shows exactly what is at stake when mixes replace bartender skill. For this month's MxMo I suggest that we test the sour to the limit: Are there citrus besides lemon, lime and grapefruit that works in a Sour? Is citrus the only possible souring ingredient? Could vinegar or other tart fruits or vegetables be used? Let's also include the Daisies and the Fizzes -- that widens the playing field with eggs and whatever makes you fizz to play with..."

When reading through the theme, I thought about using a strange citrus and seeing how it would fit in. I recalled some of Stephen Shellenberger's drinks that used sour oranges that happen to be in season right now; however, I could not stomach a tense trip into Somerville's combative Market Basket in Union Square to search them out. I also had already tinkered with vinegar sours, and I still make a gin or vodka drink like that one using crisp manzanilla sherry balanced by sugar (2 1/2 oz spirit, 1 oz manzanilla, 1/2 oz simple, lemon twist) at work. In the end, I decided to search my library for a Sour. I started with Ensslin and eventually found my way to the more modern World's Best Cocktails where I spotted a Daisy named as a Sour.
Domino Sour
1 1/2 oz Havana Club Selección de Maestros Rum (Turkey Shore Tavern Style)
1/3 oz Amontillado Sherry (Lustau)
1/3 oz Apricot Brandy (Rothman & Winter)
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/3 oz Simple Syrup
1/6 oz Mezcal (Sombra)
Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
The Domino Sour was created by Alex Orwin, then the bar manager of Milk & Honey and The Player in London. I originally had passed over the recipe since we did not have access to this Cuban rum and the review I read then did not make it sound like we had anything to match that flavor profile. This time, I spotted a review from the RumHowler, a Canadian who has access to this forbidden (to us) island. His description of the toffee notes reminded me of the butterscotch ones in Turkey Shore's aged Tavern Style rum. While no perfect match given the rest of the flavor profile, a cocktail needed to be made.
The Domino Sour began with a butterscotch and smoke nose that showcased a fruit note from the sherry and/or apricot liqueur. A lemon and grape sip gave way to a rum swallow with smokey mezcal accents and a delightful nutty sherry and apricot combination. Indeed, the mezcal functioned here to donate a smoke and mineral aspect to the drink that provided a lot of depth. Moreover, the oxidized sherry and apricot brandy duo worked excellently here as it has in the Daly Fix, Muckraker Punch, and other libations. Overall, there was a lot more going on here than a simple Rum Sour like a Daiquiri, but given the event description, this one fit in just fine.

Thanks to Andrea for hosting Mixology Monday again and getting me to try a recipe that I had neglected due to the intimidation factor of a call for rare spirit, and thanks to all of the MxMo participants for keeping this event going month after glorious month. Cheers!

Thursday, February 13, 2014


1 oz Laird's Bonded Apple Brandy (*)
1 oz Lustau Dry Oloroso
1 oz Amaro Nonino

Stir with ice and strain into a coupe glass.
(*) Laird's 7 1/2 Year used here due to availability.

After the Hawthorne, I wandered over to the Citizen Public House where I found a seat in front of John Mayer. For a drink idea, he suggested an apple brandy, amaro, and sherry libation that he had just created for the Puritan & Co.'s new cocktail menu. He had also recently used this recipe in a ShakeStir competition and called it the Cosmo #2 with the explanation, "The Corpse Reviver and Corpse #2 are night and day, just two delicious drinks utilizing a great name. I decided to revive that tradition with an elegant, sophisticated and 'cosmopolitan' cocktail." However, when gave the recipe to the restaurant, he had changed the name to the Uncosmopolitan.
The Uncosmopolitan offered an apple and raisiny grape aroma. The grape continued on into the sip where it mingled with the amaro's caramel, and the swallow showcased the apple brandy along with the oloroso's nuttiness and the Nonino's herbal notes.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

cardo bendito

1 oz Siete Leguas Reposado Tequila
1 oz Taylor Fladgate Tawny Port
1/2 oz Cardamaro
1/2 oz Dolin Dry Vermouth

Stir with ice and strain into a rocks glass. Garnish with a cherry.

Two weeks ago on Superbowl Sunday, I popped into the Hawthorne for a drink for I wanted to give a television-less bar some love. From the current drinks menu, I asked bartender Nick Checchio for the Cardo Bendito. Later, bartender Daniel Lynch explained how it was Katie Emmerson's recipe that she created for a Wall Street Journal article on port cocktails. The name refers to the blessed thistle plant that gives Cardamaro its distinctive flavor, and the cocktail stood out in the article because it was the only one that was not a dessert libation.
The Cardo Bendito began with a mineral and tequila aroma. The grape sip was light but complex, and it led into a swallow that began with the tequila flavors. The end of the swallow featured the grape and herbal notes which played well with the tequila's mineral finish.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

[sargasso sea]

1 oz Cruzan Blackstrap Rum
3/4 oz Cynar
3/4 oz Pineapple Juice
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz St. George Raspberry Liqueur (*)

Shake with ice and strain into a Collins glass. Fill with ice cubes, top with 2 oz soda water, and add a straw.
(*) Raspberry syrup would work in a pinch.
Two Thursdays ago, I ventured down to Brick and Mortar where Matthew Schrage and Nic Mansur were manning the stick. Matt mentioned that he had been tinkering with a drink but could not get it right, so he asked for some feedback. After a few iterations, this was my favorite recipe of the bunch. I rather enjoyed its dark herbal aroma that came across as an almost celery note. The dark berry on the sip was brightened by the lime's crispness. Finally, the swallow began with the caramel and molasses flavors and ended with an herbal finish. Later as the ice melted, the swallow gained more pineapple notes.

Monday, February 10, 2014


1 1/2 oz Bacardi 8 Year Rum
3/4 oz Maple Syrup
3/4 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Grapefruit Juice
1/4 oz Honey Syrup (2:1)

Shake with ice and strain into a Highball glass filled with crushed ice. Add a straw.
Two Saturdays ago, we paid a visit to Eastern Standard for a late dinner after my DJ gig. For a drink, I asked bartender Hugh Fiore for the Cypress that was subtitled, "View from the Concourse." Hugh attributed this golf-themed sipper to fellow bartender Bobby McCoy. Once mixed, the Cypress greeted the nose with a rum aroma. The maple accentuated the barrel aged notes of the rum and joined the honey and citrus flavors on the sip. Finally, the rum began the swallow that showcased earthy notes and spice.

Friday, February 7, 2014

rue morgue

2 oz Old Pulteney 12 Year Scotch
3/4 oz Ruby Port
1/2 oz Benedictine
1/4 oz Crème de Cacao

Stir with ice and strain into a coupe glass.

For my second cocktail at Tavern Road, I requested from John Henderson the Rue Morgue. John explained that it was his creation, and how he had wanted to name a drink after an Iron Maiden song for so long but the rest of the staff would not let him until then. I had associated the drink name with the Edgar Allen Poe story (which is perhaps how John had snuck it on the menu), and that would have been solidified if the Poe-esque amontillado was the fortified wine in the mix. However, it was port which often pairs rather well with Scotch, such as in the Chancellor.
The Rue Morgue proffered a chocolate, herbal, and smoke bouquet. A rich grape and malt sip led into a smoky swallow which gained a chocolate and herbal finish as it warmed up.

de la vega

1 1/2 oz Bacardi 8 Year Rum
1/2 oz Amaro Nardini
1/2 oz Amontillado Sherry
1/4 oz Maraschino Liqueur
2 dash Fee's Old Fashioned Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a coupe. Garnish with a cherry.

A few Tuesdays ago during the snow storm, I ventured down the Red Line after work to Tavern Road. At the bar were Will Tomlinson and John Henderson, and I had a drink made by each of them that night. I had picked out two drinks off the menu and asked Will which one I should start with first. Will recommended the De La Vega as a first step which he attributed to bartender Bruno Prado.
The rum aroma was accented by cherry-like fruit notes from a combination of the Maraschino and the sherry. A dry caramel sip shared vague fruit notes, and the swallow began with the rum and ended with the Maraschino and sherry's nuttiness, chocolate, cinnamon, and other spice flavors.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


2 oz Manzanilla Sherry
1/2 oz Green Chartreuse
1/2 oz Cynar
1/2 oz BG Reynolds Passion Fruit Syrup
1/2 oz Lime Juice

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

The drink I picked out of Sahil Mehta's recipe notebook at Estragon was a Tiki number that lacked a name. With a base spirit of sherry, it had a curious appeal to me akin to the Sherry Jungle Bird and Sherry Mai Tai. Sahil was bandying about names, considered the Bikini Atoll, and asked if there were any drinks out there with that name; I replied that I had created one but that should not stop him. Instead, he later called it Fangataufa; Sahil explained, "it's another atoll where nuclear weapons were tested. The reason I was initially drawn to both names is that they sound exotic and tropical like the flavors on the sip but they have a darker side to them, just like the swallow where cynar comes in."
The lime wheel's aroma melded well with the herbal notes especially the Green Chartreuse. The lime and passion fruit paired well on the sip, and the swallow offered a dry-savory meets bitter-herbal effect with a grape-like finish. Indeed, the acid of the dry sherry partnered well with the acid of the citrus here.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

cobbler noir

1 1/4 oz Rabarbaro Zucca Amaro
1 1/4 oz Cocchi Americano
1/4 oz Maraschino Liqueur
1/4 oz Lemon Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a wine glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with lemon and orange slices.
Two Mondays ago, we headed down to Estragon for dinner. While perusing bartender Sahil Mehta's recipe notebook, Andrea spotted the Cobbler Noir which seemed like a delightfully light way to start the evening. Once mixed, the citrus slices' aroma brightened that of the Zucca's herbal notes. A complex grape sip led into Zucca's bitter flavors on the swallow and a Maraschino finish.

Monday, February 3, 2014


2/3 Gin (1 1/2 oz Darnley's View)
2 dash Orgeat (3/4 oz BG Reynolds)
2 dash Dry Vermouth (3/4 oz Dolin)
1 dash Absinthe (Rinse, Butterfly)
1 dash Orange Bitters (Regan's)

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass (I pre-rinsed it with the absinthe).
After the Silver Lining, I opened up Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars: 1903-1933 and found the Remembrance. While I have had many gin and orgeat drinks, most like the Army & Navy balance the sweetness with lemon juice; here, the recipe utilized dry vermouth in a way that reminded me of an Algonquin. Once mixed, it offered an anise aroma from the absinthe rinse. A creamy, orange, and white wine sip led into a gin, nutty, and anise-laced swallow. Perhaps with a very light hand with the orgeat and dry vermouth, it would have been reminiscent of a gin-based Japanese.