Wednesday, December 31, 2014

:: fred's top 10 cocktail moments of 2014 ::

In 2010, I was asked what my favorite drink that 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 moments of the previous 12 months.

1. Still making a living at it
The end of this year marks the 19th month of me being at Russell House Tavern with 18 months of that being a full time bartender. I began my run as a barback to get acquainted with the restaurant and the industry and to await an opening on the barstaff. I am thankful for being given this opportunity to make the transition from blogger to bartender. Perhaps my observations last year make better light of it.

2. Created some drinks
Over the last year, three of my creations have graced the cocktail menus. The Endicott Cobbler replaced the Chutes & Ladders and made it onto the St. George Spirits webpage. The Mytoi Gardens made it onto the Tiki section of the brunch cocktail menu, and I compete with this in the Diplomatico Rum competition this fall. Finally, the Ask the Dust Scaffa hit not only the menu but the Del Maguey Mezcal recipe page. There were several others that I created this year that made the blog or just my menu notebook.
3. Got honored in the Improper Bostonian once and twice by Gaz Regan
Back in April, I was one of 12 bartenders to be featured in the Pouring Reign article by MC Slim JB. The photoshoot part was a novel experience, but the interview was fine since it was done via email. I even wrote up my outtakes. Moreover, one of my answers about drinks I don't like caused someone to start a ChowHound thread about me (note: I still don't know the difference between a Baybreeze and a Seabreeze without looking it up). Gaz Regan honored me two ways this year. The first was to interview me and the second was to include my Chutes & Ladders in this year's 101 Best New Cocktails.

4. I read a lot
While putting in the hours improves speed, grace, and people skills, there is still a lot of knowledge that needs to be learned from others. My original goal for self-betterment was a book per month and I exceeded that by 50%.
1. Garrett Oliver's The Brewmaster's Table. Great discussion of styles and food pairing ideas. Bought because I heard John Mayer made everyone at Local 149 read it when he was the bar manager there.
2. Rosie Schaap's Drinking with Men. A great memoir about finding one's place in the drinking community.
3. Eric Asimov's How to Love Wine. Wine is one of my weakest links in the spirits game, so I sought the wisdom of one of the greats.
4. Tom Acitelli's The Audacity of Hops. An easy to read history of the craft beer revolution, and a great example of how history repeats itself with small brewery blunders and successes.
5. Randy Mosher's Tasting Beer. An elegant comparison of different beer styles with great charts and graphics including a malt (original gravity) vs. hops comparison of different beer types.
6. Pete Hamill's A Drinking Life. A memoir about drinking, coming of age, and aging that came to me via Michael Dietsch's 2012 recommendations.
7. William Grimes' Straight Up or On the Rocks: The Story of the American Cocktail. One of the better social and historical overviews on the cocktail.
8. Lauren Clark's Crafty Bastards. A New England-focused history of beer then and now from one of the original Boston cocktail bloggers.
9. Maureen Ogle's Ambitious Brew. A story of the politics, marketing, and history of America as told through beer.
10. Jeffrey Morgenthaler's The Bar Book. A cocktail book that takes on technique and rationale more than providing a medley of delectable tipple recipes.
11. Kevin Liu's Craft Cocktails at Home. A book that takes technique and rationale of cocktails even further... with science! My glass chilling experiments made it in there with a bunch of other nods to this blog as well.
12. Danny Meyer's Setting the Table. A must-read book on hospitality and business for anyone in the restaurant industry (or perhaps any business industry, for that matter).
13. Philip Van Munching's Beer Blast. One of the clan who imported Heineken into the U.S. tells the successes and follies of big beer such as light beer and Zima, respectively.
14. Anistatia Miller's Shaken Not Stirred. One of the two tomes on the Martini that discusses history and modern trends.
15. Michael Dietsch's Shrubs. The book traces shrubs from historical drink to modern cocktail ingredient; I was quite surprised by a long quote of mine taking up all of page 50.
16. Adam Rogers' Proof. The science of booze all relayed through a handful of thoughtful stories.
17. Sean Lewis' We Make Beer. The culture of microbrewers and their fans told via vignettes and visits.
18. Talia Baiocchi's Sherry. One part encyclopedia on the style and the producers and one part history of the drink; glad it gave the nod to modern mixologists for reviving a love of sherry. Replete with classic and recent sherry cocktail recipes, too.
5. Visited new bars
The Boston cocktail bar scene grew and I paid my respects this year to Viale, Fairsted Kitchen, Alden & Harlow, Ames Street Deli, Merrill & Co., and Highball Lounge. I also finally visited Bronwyn, Shojo, and Puritan & Co. for drinks. I am also thankful for all of the older establishments for maintaining their worth for yet another year. Cheers!

6. I competed and I judged
Sure, I have done my share of participating in contests where you submit recipes and await a result. Save for competing in a bitters competition back in 2009 at Tales of the Cocktail, everything has been from my computer chair. This year, my Shadows & Tall Trees got me on stage at the Woodford Bourbon competition over the summer, and my Mytoi Gardens did rather well at the Diplomatico Rum competition this fall. Definitely learned a lot from the successes and mistakes made in each. This year, I also was on the other side of things for the Boston Preservation Society competition at GrandTen.
7. Knickebeins happened
Yes, wacky memorable drinks were made. The above egg yolk-laden Knickebein (For more 4-1-1, see here or here) was one of many things I got away with this year that brought people joy. Some of it was due to people bringing me in gifts that became challenges such as the Reese's cups that became a Pago-Pago riff on Easter or the New Orleans Oreo Fizz another night. Our bar's brief foray into Fireball brought about the Fireball Fizz.

8. Got more involved in beer
Besides attending drinkfests like ACBF and DrinkCraftBeer, I also volunteered at a NERAX event in support of cask beer and volunteered at the opening for Somerville's Aeronaut brewery. I also helped out in a blind taste test of 15 barley wines for a article. True, not a cocktail, but beer can be sweet, sour, and bitter all rolled into one just like a cocktail.

9. Got written up, quoted, or acknowledged in a variety of ways
My antique-mart hunting led to a vintage bottle of 19th century Boston Punch that led down the road to BullyBoy bringing the concept of Hub Punch back to life. Michael Dietsch's Shrubs book (see list above) quoted me on shrubs (a full page quote!) as I expanded on my notes about shrubs post. Was part of the OnTheBar article on Your Favorite Bartenders' Favorite Bartenders" with my outtakes here. Also, a fraction of my glassware collection was featured on SeriousEats.
10. I survived Boston's Thirst event
I wished that I had traveled to New Orleans, Portland, or the Bourbon Trail for some of the more national cocktail and spirits weeks, but luckily, a great event was hosted right here, Boston Thirst. Talks on hospitality, history of rum, and the rise of aperitif culture were all great, as was the opening TheThing which I described in one article for OnTheBar as "high-class elegance meets low-brow cocktail shenanigans."

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

sinnerman swizzle

1 oz Bombay Dry Gin
1 oz Cocchi Sweet Vermouth
1/2 oz Suze Gentian Liqueur
1/2 oz St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram
3/4 oz Lemon Juice

Build in a Collins glass, fill with crush ice, and swizzle to mix and chill. Top with more crushed ice, garnish with mint sprigs and 5-6 dash Angostura Bitters, and add a straw.

While looking through the Death & Co. Cocktail Book and making the Park Life Swizzle, I thought about the power of their Swizzle recipe that Death & Co. alum Katie Emmerson paid tribute in her Company Swizzle at the Hawthorne. Moreover, it influenced Matt Schrage in making his Red Duster Swizzle at Brick & Mortar. One of the drinks and flavor combinations that I was still thinking about was Mike Fleming's Sinnerman at West Bridge; the simple combination of sweet vermouth, gentian liqueur, and allspice dram made for a rather good aperitif. I did find it a touch sweet and figured that some citrus would dry it out a little. Or if I added some citrus and made a Swizzle out of it...
So I went into work the next day and made a Swizzle variation of the drink. I had not made a gin drink up in a while so I reached for that, but whiskey or especially Scotch might work well here too (or rum if the citrus was switched to lime). For a name, I thought about riffing on the concept of the Sinnerman song by paying tribute to Nina Simone or other performers who helped to make the piece popular. Instead, I decided to pay honor to the original drink that I riffed off of. Once made, it shared a mint and allspice aroma. A lemon and grape sip led into an earthy, gin, and allspice swallow. Like the original, the combination had layers of flavors that revealed themselves as the ice in the drink melted over time.

Monday, December 29, 2014

royal hawaiian

1 jigger Gin (1 1/2 oz Beefeater)
1 jigger Pineapple Juice (1 1/2 oz)
1/3 jigger Lemon Juice (1/2 oz)
1 tsp Orgeat (1/2 oz BG Reynolds)

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

After the Criminal Mastermind, I turned to my bookshelf where I reached for my edition of Bottom's Up that I had not touched in a while. While flipping through the pages, I spotted the Royal Hawaiian from the Moana Hotel in Honolulu. The recipe reminded me of the Hawaii Cocktail but with lemon juice and orgeat in place of simple syrup, orange bitters, and egg white. The building of the Moana Hotel began in the late 19th century, and when it opened in 1901, it was the first hotel in Waikiki. The Royal Hawaiian though is the name of another hotel on the island that opened in 1927, and perhaps this libation is a tribute cocktail to their neighboring establishment.
The Royal Hawaiian began with a lemon and pineapple-driven aroma. Similarly, the sip offered a crisp pineapple flavor that was brightened by the lemon juice. Finally, the swallow shared gin and pineapple notes that finished sweet with nutty orgeat accents.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

criminal mastermind

1 1/2 oz Bourbon (Four Roses)
1 oz Amaro Ramazzotti
1/2 oz Dry Sack Oloroso Sherry (Lustau)

Stir with ice and strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with lemon oil.
Two Sundays ago for the cocktail hour, I decided to make one of the recipes that Erick Castro posted on his Instagram from his night bartending at Harvard & Stone in Los Angeles. The Criminal Mastermind caught my attention not only for its name but for its Boulevardier-like composition. Once assembled, it offered a lemon oil aroma that later gave way to orange-tinged grape notes. Next, caramel and grape on the sip led into Bourbon, nutty, and dark-orange flavors on the swallow.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014


1 1/4 oz Branca Menta
1 1/4 oz Cocchi Americano
3/4 oz Meletti Anisette
1/2 oz Lime Juice
2 dash Angostura Bitters

Shake with ice and strain into a Single Old Fashioned glass. Twist a grapefruit peel over the top and discard.

Every once in a while, there's a drink recipe that passes in front of you and you shake your head. Then, people start either talking about it or ordering it followed by re-ordering it. The Consigliere is one of them. At Russell House Tavern, bar manager Ashish Mitra crafted the Consigliere with what seemed like odds and ends of our liquor stock. While seemingly no one ordered the drink at first after it appeared on the menu, the drink has begun to take off with people ordering more than one in a sitting. Ashish described his drink as, "Named as such due to the abundance of Italian ingredients. Consigliere means 'advisor' in Italian, but the connotation is dark. Smooth on the surface, but packing a punch just underneath." That dark connotation is that it often describes counselor positions to leadership in the Italian or American mafia, and the term came part of the modern lexicon due to The Godfather movies.
The Consigliere began with bright grapefruit oil aromas complemented by the minty notes from the Branca Menta. Lime and caramel on the sip gave way to a smooth herbal swallow with mint, anise, and menthol flavors. Overall, it the Consigliere was cleansing but balanced and gentle, and it reminded me of a more complex Southside of sorts. I can definitely see why people order more than one now.

Monday, December 22, 2014

sass mouth

1 1/2 oz Vodka Beefeater Gin
1/2 oz Rothman & Winter Apricot Liqueur
1/2 oz Aperol
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/4 oz Heavy Simple Syrup (2:1) (*)
1 barspoon St. Elizbeth Allspice Dram

Shake with ice and strain over crushed ice. Garnish with 2-3 dashes Peychaud's Bitters, and add straws.
(*) Drier seeking palates might want to omit this.

For a second drink at Kirkland Tap & Trotter, I spotted the vodka-based Sass Mouth and asked bartender Kenny Belanger if I could substitute my favorite flavored vodka, namely gin. When Kenny mentioned that the drink was created by bartender Andrew Keefe, I jokingly inquired if Andrew thought the substitution would be acceptable. Andrew gave the thumbs up, and the mixing began.
The Sass Mouth shared an anise aroma from the bitters with a hint of fruitiness underneath. The fruitiness continued on into the sip where it mingled with the lemon juice; finally, the swallow shared the gin and apricot flavors with a bitter rhubarb and allspice finish. Later, as the Peychaud's Bitters from the garnish began to enter the equation, the balance shifted to a bit drier with anise flavors on the finish.

Friday, December 19, 2014

sky's the limit

1 oz Hochstadter's Rock & Rye
1 oz Lustau Amontillado Sherry
1/2 oz Cinnamon Syrup
1/2 oz Lemon Juice

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

Two Mondays ago, I stopped into Kirkland Tap & Trotter as I had spotted an open barstool while passing by on my way home. There, I found a seat in front of bartender Kenny Belanger. For a first libation, I asked Kenny for the Sky's the Limit for the sherry-cinnamon syrup combination has been so pleasing before in drinks like Island Creek's Spanish Union; moreover, both of them have that Scofflaw structure (minus a dash of bitters here which could be represented by the Rock & Rye botanicals though) that I find so pleasing. Kenny also mentioned that this recipe was Jared Sadoian's drink; Jared is still at Craigie on Main but does some bartender shifts over at Kirkland Tap & Trotter.
The Sky's the Limit offered a citrus aroma from the orange twist and lemon juice in the mix. A lemon and grape sip led into a whiskey and nutty sherry swallow with an herbal finish. Over successive swallows, the cinnamon notes began to appear on the finish to round off the drink.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

forbidden fruit

1 1/2 oz Bombay Sapphire Gin
3/4 oz Passion Fruit Syrup
1/2 oz Campari
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/4 oz Yuzu Juice
1 Egg White

Shake once without ice and once with ice. Strain into a cocktail coupe and garnish the egg white froth with a spritz of St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram.
Two Sundays ago, Bombay Gin and GQ magazine threw a cocktail party at the Hawthorne celebrating Ran Duan of the Baldwin Room at Sichuan Garden II being named Bombay Sapphire's "Most Imaginative Bartender." While Ran and his mixing cohorts did not make his winning recipe, there were three offerings that night. One of my favorites was the Forbidden Fruit that paired Campari and passion fruit syrup which always work rather well together. Indeed, the drink was perhaps an egg white-Sour variation of his Cisco Bay that also utilized that combination. Instead of grapefruit juice and an ice-filled Collins glass in the Cisco Bay, the Forbidden Fruit brought in yuzu juice and a cocktail coupe with egg white now in the mix. Also, allspice dram as a garnish here added a great spice aroma to this drink. The egg white worked to soften the flavors, but the great combination of Campari and passion fruit sang out with complementary yuzu notes bolstering the tropical and citrus elements.

:: mixology monday: apples wrap up::

I'm so pleased with the quality of submissions to this month's Mixology Monday, MxMo XCII: Apples! Apples were utilized from the most obvious to me spirits to the more obscure like culinary ones like apple jelly. Hopefully, I can bang out the first wave of these entries before I have to leave for my evening shift tonight at Russell House Tavern. Without further ado, here are the entries. How do you like them apples?
• Brenda of DeliciousCocktailTime was no last minuter, unless she mistook which week was which. Her Crabapple Jelly Cocktail utilizes jelly and Berentzen Apfelkorn apple liqueur!
• The Boozenerds were also early submitters and could not control themselves to one recipe. Their two drinks span three elements -- eau de vie, aged brandy, and sparkling apple cider.
• Jessica of OneMartini appeared in the Mixology Monday blog pingbacks with her entry for the Spiced Calvados Sour days before she later left a comment, so placed here instead of later. Maple and spice elements round out her drink with a great seasonal touch!
• That bum Frederic of the CocktailVirginSlut blog... wait that's me! Well, I turned to the Death & Co. book for their riff on a 19th century classic with the Widow's Laurel using Calvados and some allspice dram for complementary spice notes.
• Batting fifth, Dagreb of Nihil Utopia went all Hemingway on us with an apple brandy recipe from Philip Greene's book.
• Sometimes MxMo's can catch your liquor shelf off guard. That's what happened with Andrea of GinHound who went out and fixed that problem with some applejack to make a tribute recipe, The Banker. And yes, apple brandy and Fernet Branca do work magically together!
• Stuart of PutneyFarm headed to the PDT Cocktail Book for the Laird's Bonded Apple Brandy recipe the Persephone that fits in some sloe gin into the mix as well.
• Using both Calvados and cider in the shaker tin, Gary of Doc Elliot's Apothecary crafts the Cider Punch using cranberry and ginger to seal in the seasonal touch. Likewise, walnut notes work to the same effect in the Plymouth Old Fashioned.
• Morgan of FoodieTails takes the ginger approach with the Apple Cider-Basil Buck. I was teased with the tequila-apple pairing but not disappointed when it was revealed that this was a Bourbon number.
• With MxMo alum's Michael Dietsch's book either on everyone's bookshelf or holiday wish list, it wasn't a surprise that there were a few shrub entries! Stacy Markow riffed on the Vieux Carré using a spiced apple shrub she made herself!
• Not to be outdone by the contributors who do two recipes, TartinesToTikis starts with the Normal Conquest from the Savoy Hotel in London and transitions to recipes from New York and San Diego.
• At the end of the dozen was the Muse of Doom of FeuDeVie. Homemade cranberry falernum to complement apples with fruit and spice notes? Brilliant. Here in the Red Plaid Wool Scarf with Calvados.
• Laura of the SassAndGin blog Earl Grey tea-infused her applejack (which would have worked great for the MxMo: Tea that I hosted years ago) for the Belles & Whistles. Great smoke and spice notes here!
• A shrub contribution from Alex of BringMeAShrub should have been no surprise though. The surprise was that he took his apple shrub all Corn'n'Oil style with the Dr. Luther.
• A slight bit late, but cat herd pimpin' ain't easy, so here's JFL of RatedRCocktails with the Pama Nui. Calvados in a Tiki drink? Nice.
• Even more late (almost a week so no photo) is Marius of ArcanePotions with a trio of drink recipes including the Manzana Cool Smash featuring green apple liqueur!
• Further lateness -- like a month late, but hey, bloggers like cats can get lost -- is Southern Ash with the Hot Apple Toddy!

Perhaps there'll be a few late stragglers to be added later (so far 2 added), but here are the early birds (on time for the cocktail world is early) that got the worm. Aged brandy, eau de vie, liqueur, sparkling and still cider, jelly, and shrubs oh my! Thank you all of the Blog-o-sphere for contributing to this Mixology Monday to make it once again such a fun and one of the best and longest running cocktail parties on the internets! And yes, I finished in time to pay some bills and make it to my barshift's pre-meal on time.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

babbo's toddy

1 oz Sweet Vermouth
1/2 oz Wild Turkey 101 Bourbon (Fighting Cock 103)
1/2 oz Campari
3/4 oz Cinnamon Syrup (BG Reynolds)

Build in a pre-heated Toddy mug. Top with hot water and garnish with an orange wheel.
After the Repossession, I decided to make a drink that I spotted on Erick Castro's Instagram called the Babbo's Toddy. Erick created this hot Boulevardier riff at the Boilermaker bar in Manhattan, and I was curious how Campari would play in a Toddy format. Once prepared, the Babbo's Toddy offered cinnamon and tea-like aromas that later shared more Campari notes. The heat brought forth a gorgeous orange flavor from the Campari and grape from the vermouth on the sip, and the swallow began with whiskey flavors and ended with cinnamon and herbal Campari elements. When I mentioned that it came across as very tea like, Andrea replied that it was just like the Good Earth brand's Sweet & Spice Herb Tea that she drinks.

Monday, December 15, 2014


1 oz Reposado Tequila (Espolon)
3/4 oz Amontillado Sherry (Lustau)
1/2 oz Apricot Liqueur (Rothman & Winter)
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/4 oz Cane Syrup (JM Sirop) (*)

Shake with ice and strain into a coupe glass. Float 1/4 oz mezcal (Sombra).
(*) Can sub 2:1 syrup in a pinch.

Two Thursdays ago, I turned to the book I am reading, Talia Baiocchi's Sherry: A Modern Guide to the Wine World's Best-Kept Secret, for a recipe. There, I spotted the Repossession created by Leo Robitschek of Eleven Madison Park and the NoMad. The combination of oxidized sherry and apricot liqueur is one that has worked rather well in many cocktails such as the Domino Sour and the Oaxacan Dead, so I was willing to give this one a try.
The Repossession began with a smoky and briny aroma with a hint of fruit from either the sherry or apricot liqueur. Next, lemon and grape on the sip shifted to agave, nutty, and apricot flavors on the swallow and a smoke finish.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

widow's laurel

The theme for this month's Mixology Monday (MxMo XCII) was picked by me, Frederic of the CocktailVirgin blog. The theme I chose was "Apples," and I elaborated in my announcement post with, "Apples have been an American booze staple with Johnny Appleseed as its symbolic hero. John Chapman became that legend by planting apple tree nurseries across the northern Appalachia and the Midwest. He did not choose grafting techniques to reproduce sweet edible ones, but bred them to make sour apples perfect for cider and applejack. Michael Pollan in The Botany of Desire proclaimed, "Really, what Johnny Appleseed was doing and the reason he was welcome in every cabin in Ohio and Indiana was he was bringing the gift of alcohol to the frontier. He was our American Dionysus." Apple products began to enter into the mixed drink literature in the 19th century with the Stone Fence appearing in Jerry Thomas' Bartender Guide and got quite refined by the end of the century such as the Widow's Kiss in George Kappeler's Modern American Drinks. Indeed, apples have found their way into modern cocktails via Calvados, applejack, sparkling and still cider, apple butter, and muddled apple."
At first I was going to do one of the drinks on our menu at work, the Emily Rose -- a cross between a Jack Rose and a French 75, but instead I turned to the Death & Co. Cocktail Book so that I could taste something new. In the brandy section, I spotted a riff on the Widow's Kiss, a classic from 1895 that I mentioned above in my announcement. Joaquín Simó's 2009 variation, the Widow's Laurel, was a spicier and slightly less boozy riff on this classic.
Widow's Laurel
• 2 oz Busnel VSOP Calvados (Boulard VSOP)
• 1/2 oz Drambuie
• 1/2 oz Carpano Sweet Vermouth (Dolin)
• 1 tsp St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram
• 1 dash Angostura Bitters
Stir with ice and strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with 3 brandied cherries on a pick (omitted).
Once stirred and strained, the Widow's Laurel shared an apple and allspice aroma. Next, the sip was rather fruity from the apple brandy and the vermouth's grape, and the swallow presented a medley of honey, apple, allspice, and clove elements. The combination overall was perfect for the autumn-winter transition with fall fruit flavors mixing with Christmas spices.

Here at the end of Mixology Monday posts, I usually thank the host for picking the theme and running this month's show, but that would be a bit odd thanking myself. Instead, I am thanking the hosts that have stepped up since the last time I hosted Mixology Monday, namely July 2013's MxMo LXXV "Flip Flop," as well as all the other past and future hosts. Moreover, thank you to the rest of the Mixology Monday participants for keeping the shakers shaking and the spirit of the event alive!

Friday, December 12, 2014

blue steel

1 1/2 oz Hayman's Old Tom Gin
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
3/4 oz Pineapple Juice
1/4 oz Cinnamon Syrup (BG Reynolds)

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a 1/4 oz flaming Green Chartreuse (lit on fire for 10 seconds first) drizzled over the top of the drink.

Two Saturdays ago, I turned to the Sanctuaria, the Dive Bar of Cocktail Bars book and spotted the Blue Steel and was lured in by the Tiki-like flavor combination and the fire aspect, of course. The book described how this drink created back in 2010 became one of their signature drinks especially on people's birthdays. Moreover, they attributed learning the flaming ribbon of Chartreuse to Ted Kilgore, and mention that the Chartreuse pairs well with the juices and syrup here to give a "pineapple upside-down cake flavor."
The herbal notes of the Green Chartreuse garnish paid dividends on the aroma front. A pineapple and lemon sip set the stage for gin and Green Chartreuse botanical flavors on the swallow and growing amounts of cinnamon on the finish.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

park life swizzle

1 oz Ransom Old Tom Gin
1 oz Lustau Amontillado Sherry
1/2 oz Velvet Falernum
1/2 oz Ginger Syrup
3/4 oz Lime Juice

Dry shake the ingredients and pour into a Pilsner glass. Fill with crushed ice and swizzle to mix and chill. Garnish with mint sprigs and 6 dashes Angostura Bitters, and add a straw.
A few Tuesdays ago, I was flipping through the Death & Co. Cocktail Book and stumbled upon the Swizzle section. Knowing that our mint patch was on its last legs due to the weather, I decided for one last hurrah and picked the Park Life Swizzle to send that section of the garden off in style. The recipe was crafted by Thomas Waugh back in 2009 and gave no indication as to whether the Swizzle was named after a Blur song or other. Once prepped, the Park Life Swizzle shared an allspice, clove, and mint aroma from the garnishes. Grape and lime flavors on the sip exchanged for gin botanicals and sherry's nuttiness on the swallow and clove and ginger notes on the finish.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014


2 oz Cocchi Sweet Vermouth
1/2 oz Suze Gentian Liqueur
1/2 oz St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram

Stir with ice and strain into a rocks glass filled with ice. Garnish with an orange twist and add straws.
For a second drink at West Bridge, I asked bartender Moe Isaza for the Sinnerman as I was intrigued by its use of Suze Gentian Liqueur. Moe mentioned that this aperitif-style cocktail was another of Mike Fleming's recipes. In the glass, the Sinnerman shared an orange oil and grape aroma. The grape continued on into the sip where it was chased by citrus and earthy gentian on the swallow and allspice on the finish. As the ice melted some over time, that earthy swallow revealed some chocolate and bubblegum-like notes to the mix. Overall, the combination was a touch sweet but the allspice did work to dry out the balance.

Monday, December 8, 2014

conspiracy theory

1 1/2 oz Dewar's Blended Scotch
3/4 oz Meletti Amaro
1/2 oz Apricot Liqueur
1/2 oz Lemon Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a rocks glass.
Two Mondays ago, I decided to visit West Bridge after work. For a first drink, I asked bartender Moe Isaza for the Conspiracy theory that he mentioned was bartender Mike Flemming's creation. I was drawn to it for it appeared like a classic apricot-driven Daisy but with the floral amaro Meletti for added complexity; indeed, Mike had used that amaro to good effect in the Hedy Lamarr cocktail. Once in a glass, the Conspiracy Theory presented a floral and apricot aroma. A malty, lemon, and orchard fruit sip gave way to a Scotch and floral swallow with a return of the apricot on the finish.

Friday, December 5, 2014

morningside heights

1 oz Reposado Tequila (Espolon)
1 oz Mezcal (Montelobos)
1/2 oz Sweet Vermouth (Dolin)
1/2 oz Amaro Montenegro
2 dash Chocolate Bitters (Housemade)

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a grapefruit twist.
Two Sundays ago, I returned to the Amaro Montenegro Facebook page's recipe section and happened upon the Morningside Heights. This recipe by Theo Lieberman of Milk & Honey was named after a part of Manhattan that is much further north than the Milk & Honey bar located in the Flatiron district. Once stirred and strained, the drink gave forth a smoky agave and bright grapefruit oil aroma. A light grape and orange sip transitioned into a more flavorful swallow with agave flavors more recognizable as mezcal as well as a chocolate-anise finish.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

rainy dayz

1 1/2 oz Old Monk Rum
3/4 oz Cardamaro
1/2 oz Honey Syrup (1:1)
1/4 oz Lime Juice
2 dash Angostura Bitters

Shake with ice and strain into a coupe glass.
Two Thursdays ago, I stopped into the Independent in Somerville after work. For a cocktail, I asked bartender Casey Keenan for the Rainy Dayz. Casey mentioned that it was created by the bar manager Patrick Dole. The general structure of the drink reminded me of the Sacrilege with the Cardamaro playing second fiddle to a spirit and balanced by honey and citrus. Once prepared, the Rainy Dayz shared a dark rum aroma with brighter notes from the honey and lime. A caramel, lime, and floral sip shifted into a dark rum and herbal swallow with a molasses, honey, and vanilla finish. Overall, the dark rum's molasses' low flavors complemented the honey's higher notes here rather well.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014


2/3 Gordon's Dry Gin (1 1/2 oz Beefeater)
2 dash French Vermouth (1/2 oz Noilly Prat Dry)
2 dash Cointreau (1/2 oz)
2 dash Lemon Juice (1/2 oz)
1 dash Ojen Bitters (1/8 oz Butterfly Absinthe)

Stir (shake) with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. I garnished with a lemon twist.

Two Tuesdays ago, I opened up our copy of Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars 1903-1933 to the gin section and spotted the Albion. I made the choice to interpret the dashes as more sizable such that the secondary ingredients made up half the drink itself. The original instructions, however, say to stir the drink and perhaps this was meant to be more like a lightly flavored glass of gin served silky smooth. Then again, many old cocktail books have no real convention for stirring or shaking and flip-flop between them. So perhaps I am not too far amiss in my interpretation of the vague recipe.
The Albion shared a lemon and juniper aroma with hints of anise. A crisp lemon and orange sip shared a salinity from the dry vermouth. Finally, the Albion ended with a gin and orange swallow and anise finish. Overall, the drink appeared like a White Lady crossed with a Corpse Reviver #2.

Monday, December 1, 2014

third bird

1 oz Myer's Dark Rum (Gosling's)
1 oz Amaro Montenegro
1/2 oz Crème de Cacao (Marie Brizard)
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1 1/2 oz Pineapple Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a rocks glass with ice. Photo showed a pineapple wedge garnish, but I used a spent 1/2 lime shell, crushed ice, and a straw.

After the Shrubbed-up 1933 Cosmo, I turned to a recipe that I had spotted in the recipe section on the Amaro Montenegro Facebook page. The one that caught my eye was the Third Bird by Theo Lieberman of Milk & Honey. With the name and structure, it appeared just like a Jungle Bird but with the crème de cacao in there it had hints of a Pago Pago as well.
The Third Bird began with a chocolatey aroma. A lime and caramel sip gave way to a dark rum and bitter tangerine swallow and a pineapple and chocolate finish. Indeed, the Amaro Montenegro had an almost Campari-like bitter sharpness here although with a more citrus-driven feel.