Monday, September 29, 2014


1 1/2 oz Daron Calvados
1/2 oz Del Maguey Mezcal Vida
1 oz Campari
1/2 oz Crème de Cacao
1 pinch Salt

Stir with ice and strain into a rocks glass.

Two Mondays ago, Andrea and I met up at Estragon. After perusing bartender Sahil Mehta's drink notebook, I selected a Calvados-mezcal split spirits cocktail. Sahil explained that he made this first for Markeya a/k/a Dr. Foodie who loves bitter. Since apple brandy and agave pair so well together such as in the Spanish Caravan and the Campari-cacao-salt did as well in the Stagecoach Mary, I was definitely game to try this. The recipe was unnamed, but since the French apple brandy outweighed the Mexican spirit here, I dubbed this one the Zaragoza after General Ignacio Zaragoza who defeated a much larger and better equipped French army at Puebla de Los Angeles during the French-Mexican War. It is this battle on May 5th, 1862, that Cinco de Mayo celebrates.
The Zaragoza began with chocolate and orange herbal aromas. Next, an apple and orange sip gave way to smoky mezcal and chocolate flavors on the swallow. Here, the salt really cut back on the Campari's bitter notes and helped to bring out the amaro's orange ones more.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

sol y sombra

1 1/2 oz Gold Puerto Rican Rum (DonQ Gold)
3/4 oz Dark Jamaican Rum (Coruba)
1/2 oz Apricot Brandy (Rothman & Winter)
2 oz Pineapple Juice
1/2 oz Lime Juice
2 dash Angostura Bitters

Shake with ice and pour into a hollowed out pineapple (strained into a Tiki mug with crushed ice). Garnish with a parasol (omitted).

Two Saturdays ago for the cocktail hour, I turned to Beachbum Berry's Potions of the Caribbean for ideas. There, I spotted the Sol y Sombra which had hints of Periodista lurking in its pineapple-laden Tiki structure. Berry attributed the drink to Joe Scialom of the Caribe Hilton -- a bartender best known for creating the Suffering Bastard a few years prior to the Sol y Sombra's 1957 birth. For a glass, I selected an antique Tiki mug from 1962, the closest we had to the drink's creation, that Andrea found in her West Coast travels.
The Sol y Sombra gave the nose an apricot and funky dark rum aroma. The sip with rather fruity with lime notes being the most discernible of the lot. Finally, the swallow was much more distinctive with the rums and apricot leading the charge, and pineapple and spice notes rounding out the finish. After a few swallows, the apricot pleasantly began to linger on the aftertaste.

Monday, September 22, 2014

echo lake

1 oz Del Maguey Chichicapa Mezcal
1 oz Green Chartreuse
1 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Simple Syrup
2 dash Orange Bitters
1 Egg White

Shake once without ice and once with ice. Strain into a coupe glass.
The other drink I asked bartender Sam Oliveri for at No. 9 Park was the Echo Lake which reminded me of the Green Ghost. It had been months since I had seen a tempting egg white drink on a menu, so I was definitely game. Once strained into a coupe, the Echo Lake shared a smoke aroma with Green Chartreuse's herbal accents. On the palate, a creamy smooth lime sip gave way to a softened mezcal and Chartreuse on the swallow with an orange finish.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

ask the dust

The theme for this month's Mixology Monday (MxMo LXXXIX) was picked by Chris of the A Bar Above blog. The theme he chose was "The Unknown" which seemed like a good contrast to the ingredient-specific events like coconuts, pineapple, and nuts. Chris elaborated on the concept by describing, "Basically the idea is to try something new, an ingredient or technique that you've never had experience with before and create a cocktail around it... Use a spirit that you've never used before. It could be a base spirit, modifier or that Belgian Ale that rings in at 15% alcohol. Use an ingredient that has always captured your imagination in the supermarket. Maybe that weird looking fruit that you always walk by at Whole Foods, or that unusual looking vegetable that you can't even pronounce. [or] Use a new technique that you've never tried, but have always wanted to. Have you been dying to make your own vermouth, amaro, or martini glass made completely out of flavored sugar."
When I read this theme, I thought about a drink I just created for the most recent menu at Russell House Tavern. While looking for inspiration, I spotted in the fridge a bottle of Byrrh Grand Quinquina -- an ingredient that I had tried in a few drinks created by others but had never made into one of my recipes. After a few false starts, I search the web for a clue and discovered a Tweet that declared that Haus Alpenz founder "Eric Seed is right: 3:1 Byrrh to Mezcal works beautifully." I mixed the two closer to equal parts, and while it tasted good, it needed some depth. Crème de cacao seemed like a natural complement both to the quinquina and the agave, and Angostura Bitters could add some spice and dryness to the mess. I made it for Andrea when she visited me at the bar one day, and she commented that it needed some brightness. Since some of the brighteners like elderflower were in some menu items already and others like Strega and Galliano we lack, I turned to a hint of absinthe for these notes. After Andrea tasted this before and after chilling and diluting, she commented that it tasted better before the ice. Perfect -- a Scaffa was born! For a name, I looked to the back of my bar notebook which contains a list of possible names; the John Fante book title Ask the Dust seemed to work well with the Mexican roots of the mezcal in this drink. Originally, I submitted the recipe using a rocks glass; however, my bar manager suggested a snifter to not only diversify the glass usage on the menu, but he felt it was more contemplative of a drink like a fine glass of brandy.
Ask the Dust
• 2 oz Byrrh Grand Quinquina
• 1 1/2 oz Mezcal
• 1/2 oz Tempus Fugit Crème de Cacao
• 2 dash Angostura Bitters
• 1 scant barspoon Butterfly Absinthe
Build in a snifter (or single Old Fashioned) glass. Briefly stir to mix without ice. Note: This is a room temperature drink.
Once assembled, the Ask the Dust began with a mezcal aroma that later gained chocolate and herbal notes over time. While the quinquina's grape filled the sip, the swallow was much more complex with chocolate, herbal quinine, and smoke flavors and lingering mezcal notes. When I created this recipe, I was not expecting it to move very well between the high price point and the oddity of ingredients. Instead, it is currently on the 86 list as of yesterday since the bar ran through the case of Byrrh it had bought; more should be in on Tuesday though.

So thank you to Chris for picking the theme to challenge each and everyone of us and for running this month's show, and thanks to the rest of the Mixology Monday participants for keeping the shakers shaking and the spirit of the event alive!

Friday, September 19, 2014

torino retiree

1 oz Tanqueray 10 Gin
3/4 oz Gran Classico
3/4 oz Cocchi Americano
1/2 oz Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao
2 dash Angostura Orange Bitters

Shake with ice and strain into a Collins glass with ice. Top with 2-3 oz Fever Tree soda water and garnish with an orange twist.

Two Thursdays ago, I stopped into No. 9 Park where Sam Oliveri and Bob Mersereau were at the stick. No. 9 Park is one of the several restaurants in town that have a secondary cocktail menu; here, the first one is a dozen or so drinks and the other is a multi-page book organized by drink themes. In the Ethereal section, I spied the refreshing looking Torino Retiree which seemed like a good start since the other drink I wanted was a bit heavier. Sam explained that it was his drink that he made as an "Italian patio pounder" for he tried to envision what old men would drink on the Riviera.
The Torino Retiree shared an orange oil aroma from the twist. A carbonated sip shared orange flavors from the curaçao, Cocchi Americano, and bitters, and the swallow offered herbal notes from the gin and Gran Classico ending with a dry finish. Overall, it was a delightful abstraction of a Negroni-Americano hybrid.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

mayfair sour

1 1/2 oz Plymouth Gin (Cold River)
1/2 oz Benedictine
1/2 oz Apricot Liqueur (Rothman & Winter)
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1 Egg White

Shake once without and once with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with peach bitters (5 drops Fee's).

Later after returning home from the Independent, it was the domestic version of the cocktail hour. A drink that caught my eye that night from Gary Regan's Gin Compendium was the Mayfair Sour which was created by Xavier Herit of Daniel in New York City. The pairing of Benedictine with a fruit liqueur and citrus reminded me of the Honeymoon Cocktail, but then I also spotted the Silk Road Sour from the same gin book. The Mayfair Sour added to the formula egg white and a bitters garnish to the meringue froth.
The Mayfair Sour shared a peach and apricot aroma that led into a creamy lemon sip with a hint of stone fruit. The swallow brought out most of the apricot flavor along with a medley of herbal and juniper notes.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014


1 1/2 oz Chinaco Blanco Tequila
1 oz Aperol
3/4 oz Honey Syrup (1:1)
3/4 oz Lime Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a grapefruit twist.
Last Wednesday, I stopped at the Independent for drinks. There, I was greeted by bartender Casey Keenan, and I asked Casey for the Earthbound. Casey commented that the recipe began with less Aperol but shifted over time; moreover, it reminded him of Lone Star Taco Bar's Chica Fácil. Once prepared, the Earthbound offered citrus oil and mineral tequila aromas. A lime, orange, and honey sip transitioned into a tequila flavor smoothed out by the honey. Finally, the drink ended with a bitter rhubarb and tart lime finish.

Monday, September 15, 2014


1 oz Dolin Dry Vermouth
1/2 oz Crème de Cassis
1/4 oz Anchor Junipero Gin
1/2 oz Lemon Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a Highball glass with ice. Top with 2-3 oz tonic water and add a straw.
Two Wednesdays ago, I ventured down to Straight Law for dinner after my day shift. For a drink, I asked bartender Sean Sullivan for the Moi? which seemed like a refreshing highball that fit quite nicely with their riffs on Spanish gin & tonic variations. I was able to locate the recipe in Gary Regan's The Bartender's Bible: 1001 Mixed Drinks but was not able to track it back any further. Perhaps the French aspect, besides the pair of French ingredients, could be attributed to the dry vermouth, cassis, and gin Parisian Cocktail that appears in the Savoy Cocktail Book. Once prepared, the Moi? offered a juniper aroma from the robustly accented gin. A tart lemon and dark berry-like currant sip led into a sweeter quinine and juniper-laden swallow with a tart lemon finish.

Friday, September 12, 2014

moonshine cocktail

1/2 Dry Gin (1 1/2 oz Beefeater Summer)
1/3 Dry Vermouth (1 oz Dolin)
1/6 Maraschino (1/2 oz Maraska)
1 dash Pernod (1 bsp Butterfly Absinthe)

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
Two Mondays ago for the cocktail hour, I turned to our 1940 edition of The How and When by Hyman Gale and Gerald F. Marco. There, I spotted the Moonshine Cocktail that I believe first appears in the literature in the Savoy Cocktail Book. The Moonshine recipe came across on paper like an Improved Martini given the extra Maraschino and absinthe notes in the mix (although the Fancy and Improved drinks pre-date the Martini itself by a few years). Once stirred and strained, it offered an anise-scented nose. A light cherry-flavored sip gave way to a more complex swallow that began with gin botanical notes that flowed into the nutty Maraschino and ended with an absinthe finish. Overall, the Moonshine reminded me of the Savoy Cocktail Book's Lawhill with gin instead of whiskey.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

the valdez

1 oz Gosling's Rum
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Campari
1 oz Velvet Falernum

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail coupe. Garnish with a lime wheel.
Two Thursdays ago, I spotted an interesting drink recipe on the OnTheBar app web page called the Valdez. Since the drink was created at the Barrel in Washington DC, it was a bit harder to visit the bartender to have them make it for me and I decided to construct this one at home. Bartender Parker Girard described his Tiki-inspired drink as "equal parts Daiquiri, Jungle Bird, and Corn and Oil." Once mixed, it offered a dark rum aroma that was countered by bright notes from the lime and other ingredients. Next, a caramel and lime sip gave way to a rum swallow that ended with a clove and bitter herbal Campari finish. While the Valdez did leave out the pineapple juice that really makes the Jungle Bird sing, the drink came across more as a more complex Corn and Oil where the classic was was complemented by the Campari.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

mytoi gardens

1 1/2 oz Old Monk Rum (*)
1 oz Pineapple Juice
3/4 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram
1/2 oz Vanilla Syrup
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Shake with ice and strain into a rocks glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with 2-3 dash Angostura Bitters and a pineapple wedge. Add straws.
(*) Originally and best made with El Dorado 12 Year.

A few weeks ago, our new bar manager Ashish Mitra wanted to turn over the brunch cocktail menu and asked if I had any Tiki drinks to add to a Daiquiri Time Out section. I mentioned that I had the Kuula Hina and that I could simplify it a bit by removing the sherry and Blackstrap Rum float, switching around the proportions and presentation, and changing the garnish. Ashish liked what he tasted and suggested that I tinker with the rums. The best rum combination here was with El Dorado 12 Year, but in the end, Old Monk Rum got the nod to keep the drink on a better price point; I was not bothered by the change since the dark notes and vanilla accents worked well here too, although not as much as ED12's elegant richness. For a name, a remembered Naomi Levy's description of Eastern Standard's DTO, the Chappaquiddick; she bought into Kevin Martin explaining that he was inspired by the beauty and tranquility of the Japanese gardens on Martha's Vineyard and how it was the closest to an island paradise as one could get in Massachusetts (she was unaware of the connection of a DTO to the island at the time). Therefore, I latched into the idea of the gardens and discovered that they were the Mytoi Gardens and the drink name stuck.
Once prepared, the garnishes contributed pineapple, clove, and allspice aromas. The sip then offered lime, caramel, and pineapple flavors, while the swallow shared rum, vanilla, and allspice notes with a pineapple finish. Overall, the Mytoi Garden's easy drinking seems to work well for the brunch-time cocktail menu.

Monday, September 8, 2014


2 oz Citadelle Gin
3/4 oz Campari
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Lime Cordial Syrup (*)

Shake with ice and strain into a coupe glass.
(*) Contains lime zest, lime juice, simple syrup. Perhaps subbing Rose's Lime Cordial or 1/4 oz each of simple syrup and extra lime juice would work in a pinch.

Two Wednesdays ago, the Hawthorne held the Gertstravaganza event in honor of John Gertsen and his impending departure from Boston. On the docket for this charity event benefiting Mass Advocates for Children were seven bartenders each presenting a drink. Second in the batting order was Scott Holliday formerly of Rendezvous who was listed on the menu as "skipping through France." His drink was the Negrimlet subtitled "of mice and men?" Scott explained that when he and John used to live together, they dreamed this drink up by combining two great gin drinks (not unlike the Comanche Club that I had at another Mass Advocates for Children charity event at the Hawthorne). When Scott presented this Negroni-Gimlet hybrid, he referred to it as "the dinner Gimlet."
The Negrimlet offered a lime aroma that led into Campari's orange and the lime's fruitiness on the sip. The bulk of the Campari flavors came through with the gin on the swallow, and the lime returned on the finish.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

the killing floor

1 1/2 oz James E. Pepper Rye (was Whistle Pig)
1/2 oz Bigallet Viriana China China Liqueur
1/2 oz Cocchi Sweet Vermouth
1/2 oz Bonal Gentiane-Quinquina

Stir with ice and strain into a rocks glass. Garnish with an orange twist.
Two Sundays ago, we ventured up to Beverly to eat dinner at the Barrel House American Bar. For a first drink, I asked bartender Sean Maher for something I had spotted on the restaurant's Instagram that they did for a Whistle Pig-sponsored dinner. Sean explained how that drink, the Killing Floor, was originally created for a guest a few weeks before, and it turned out to work perfectly for the event. Once prepared, the Killing Floor presented an orange and rye aroma with dark notes in the mix. Next, a caramel and grape sip then led into a rye and bitter orange swallow with a quinine-tinged finish. Overall, the cocktail was like a darker and more bitter Brooklyn albeit without the Maraschino notes.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

come dancing!

3/4 oz St. George Terroir Gin
3/4 oz Amontillado Sherry
3/4 oz Dolin Blanc Vermouth
3/4 oz Grapefruit Juice

Build in a Collins glass, add crushed ice, and swizzle to mix and chill. Top with more crushed ice and garnish with a few dashes of Fee's Whiskey Barrel Bitters.

Two Thursdays ago, I ventured down Mass Ave after work and stopped into Central Kitchen for a drink. At the stick was Crystal Kelley before she departed to Kentucky to learn about whiskey and mayhem at Camp Runamok for the week, and I asked her for the Come Dancing off of the cocktail menu. Crystal described how Matt Schrage from upstairs at Brick & Mortar created this Swizzle for their menu. Given Shrage's proclivity to make musical references, I have to imagine that this recipe is named after the 1982 Kinks' song (although given some nights at Brick & Mortar, this could have been the war cry).
The bitters garnish contributed a cinnamon bouquet that preceded the grape and grapefruit sip. The swallow was a combination of juniper and citrus-softened sherry until the garnish integrated into the drink and cinnamon notes spiced the finish.

Monday, September 1, 2014

samurai swig

1 1/2 oz Yamazaki 12 Year Whisky (1 1/2 oz Pig Nose, 1 bsp Caol Ila 12 Year)
1/2 oz Cynar
1/2 oz Dry Vermouth (Dolin)
1/2 oz Sweet Vermouth (Dolin)

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a flamed orange twist (omitted flaming).

After the Biffy, I turned to Sanctuaria: The Dive Bar of Cocktail Bars and spotted the Samurai Swig. I had previously passed over this recipe for I lack Yamazaki or any other Japanese whisky; however, the combination seemed delightful and I figured that Scotch whisky would work quite well in its place. The book authors also lacked Yamazaki at Sanctuaria, their home bar. They crafted this during a guest bartending gig at the Pi Bar in Minneapolis where they had the whisky, and they honed in on it and created something that was rather popular that night.
The Samurai Swig began with orange oil aromas that brightened that of the whisky's peaty smoke. A sweet caramel and grape sip led into Scotch on the swallow with vegetal, herbal, and minty notes from the Cynar and vermouths ending with a smoky finish.