Sunday, May 31, 2015

benny & the jets

1 oz Pierre Ferrand 1840 Cognac
1 oz Smith & Cross Rum
1/2 oz Grapefruit Juice
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Benedictine
1/2 oz Demerara Syrup
3 dash Angostura Bitters
1 dash Kübler Absinthe (1 bsp Butterfly)

Shake with ice and strain into a Tiki mug. Fill with crushed ice and garnish with a lime, cherry, and a mint sprig.

A few weeks ago, I spotted a recipe on the DrinkLikeAPro section of BostonChefs about a Tiki event held at Empire. The event featured Beachbum Berry talking about the genre and No. 9 Park's Ryan Lotz making said libations at the bar. The article presented one of Lotz's recipes, Benny & the Jets, which had little overlap with Brick & Mortar's Bonatti & the Jets save for the Benedictine.
Benny & the Jets began with a mint bouquet. The sip was rather fruity with lime and grapefruit along with a hint of caramel from the barrel-aged spirits. The swallow then showcased the spirits especially the funkiness of the rum and the smooth richness of the Cognac, and this all ended with a minty, anise, and spice finish.

Saturday, May 30, 2015


3/4 glass Applejack (2oz Laird's)
1/2 glass Lemon Juice (1/2 oz)
A tsp Grenadine (1/2 oz)
Dashes of Absinthe (1 barspoon Butterfly)

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

A few Wednesdays ago, I turned to The Art of Making a Cocktail & More published in Cuba in 1927 for drink inspiration. There, I spotted the Aviacion which was not a riff in the 1916 Aviation but closer to a Jack Rose with absinthe for complexity. Moreover, it reminded me of Scott Holliday's apple brandy Corpse Reviver #2, the Johnny Jump Up. Therefore, I did not mind making a drink with the same (or in this case similar due to it being in Spanish) as a really well known classic. Interestingly, the history of aviation in Cuba was well timed with American Prohibition for the first Cuban airlines were founded in 1919 flying out of Havana's Columbia Airport that opened that same year.
The Aviacion greeted the nose with lemon and anise notes. The lemon continued on into the sip and mingled with the pomegranate, and the swallow was a mix of apple and crisp berry-like flavors accented by the absinthe on the tail end.

Friday, May 29, 2015

knight fizz

1 1/2 oz Berkshire Mountain's Greylock Gin (*)
1/2 oz Green Chartreuse
1/2 oz Clement Creole Shrubb (or other orange liqueur)
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1 1/2 oz Whole Milk (Heavy Cream preferable)
1 Egg White

Shake once without ice and once with ice. Strain into a Highball glass with 2 oz soda water. Garnish with an orange twist.
(*) A brandy such as Lustau would have worked well here too.
A few weeks ago, I had a request for a desserty cocktail at work. While I considered doing a Flip, I thought that something refreshing yet sweet like a New Orleans-style Fizz would better hit the spot. For a flavor combination, I crossed David Embury's brandy-based Knight Cocktail with the Ramos Gin Fizz. Perhaps I should have kept the cocktail's brandy since it worked so well in the fizzy Saratoga Brace Up to provide richness, but gin at that moment seemed to go with the flavors better. While David Embury would have hated this drink that was too sugary, too citrussy, and not booze-forward enough all the while ruined by dairy and eggs, my guest certainly enjoyed it.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

rené barbier

1 oz Camus VS Cognac
1 oz Punt e Mes
1/2 oz Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao
1/2 oz Campari
2 dash Bitter Truth's Jerry Thomas Decanter Bitters

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

Two weeks ago, I attended Gaz Regan's Cocktails in the Country (read my highlights here). One of the scheduled events was dubbed Organized Chaos and involved everyone pairing up to do a shift behind the bar for the other students as well as special guests and attendees. I think that I banged out 5 or 6 different cocktails in my half hour (all were split into taster portions). I recorded four of the recipes including the one that Gaz wrote up on the Jagermeiser Sidecar. I explained that drink on Facebook as, "When I mentioned Jeffrey Morgenthaler's Jäquiri from Portland Cocktail Week 2012 (recipe here) at dinner during Cocktails in the Country and people didn't think a "Yak-uri" or the idea sounded good, I took it as a challenge. That night during my bar shift, I presented the crowd with a Sidecar but I wouldn't tell them the spirit. It became a crowd favorite and Gary Gaz Regan kept talking about it too. The Jagermeiser Sidecar a/k/a the Meistercar (named by Christopher James) was born." Two of the other novel ones were a Ketel One-Sorel Tiki drink and a Sapin for Yellow Chartreuse Puritan-like riff, and I do recall a joking request for a Ramos Gin Fizz at the end that I gladly fulfilled.
The fifth drink I can recall making (there were possibly more) began by me eying the Camus Cognac bottle. The direction I took was inspired by the Lucien Gaudin for I paired Campari with curaçao. In the Negroni-variation vein, I also thought of Phil Ward's 2005 Cocktails in the Country drink, the Cornwall Negroni that had Punt e Mes and bitters in the mix. For a name, I stuck with the Lucien Gaudin concept and dubbed this one after another fencer, René Barbier -- a Frenchman who medalled in the 1928 Olympics. I did not take down tasting notes during the melée, but I do recall Gaz commenting that "this is my sort of drink!"

Wednesday, May 27, 2015


1/3 jigger Brandy (1 oz Foret VSOP)
1/3 jigger Dry Vermouth (1 oz Noilly Prat)
2 dash Maraschino Liqueur (1/4 oz Luxardo)
2 dash Curaçao (1/4 oz Pierre Ferrand Dry)
2 dash Absinthe (1 scant bsp Butterfly)
2 dash Orange Bitters (Regan's)

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry (omit) and lemon oil.

A few Thursdays ago, I opened up Boothby's 1934 World Drinks And How To Mix Them and spotted the Morning. The combination of brandy, maraschino, curaçao, and bitters reminded me of the Brandy Crusta I make (link goes to one that I made at work and posted via Instagram that explains my preference for both the classic curaçao and the newer school maraschino). With dry vermouth in place of the lemon juice and a hint of absinthe instead of aromatic bitters, the similarities made this one worth a try.
The Morning began with lemon oil aroma with hints of maraschino and anise. The sip was rich but somewhat nondescript save for perhaps a hint of cherry. However, the swallow showcased the brandy that was accented by the orange and nutty maraschino liqueurs and punctuated by an absinthe finish.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

averna cup

1 oz Old Monk Rum
1 oz Averna
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Giffard's Strawberry Liqueur (*)

Shake with ice and strain into a Collins glass filled with ice. Top with 2-3 oz ginger ale, and garnish with mint sprigs and an orange twist. Add a staw.
(*) In a pinch sub a large strawberry muddled in 1/2 oz simple syrup. Add a fine straining step after the shake/strain.
For a second drink at Sichuan Garden II's Baldwin Room, I asked bartender Vannaluck Hongthong for the Averna Cup that he described as the house's riff on a Pimm's Cup. In the glass, the orange twist's aroma was stronger than the mint garnish's. Next, the sip was rather fruity with lemon and strawberry flavors, and the swallow was richer with dark caramel and molasses notes followed by a fruity spice finish.

absinthe buck

1 oz Absinthe Ordinaire
1 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Orgeat
3 oz House Ginger Beer

Quickly shake to mix. Pour into a Collins glass with ice. Top with 3 dash Angostura Bitters and garnish with mint sprigs and a lime wedge.
A few Wednesdays ago, we paid a visit to the Baldwin Room at Sichuan Garden II in Woburn for dinner. Behind the stick that night were Vannaluck Hongthong and Charles Coykendall, and for a first drink, I asked Van for the Absinthe Buck. The combination of ingredients reminded me of Drink's Dead Man's Mule with different ratios and minus the allspice dram. Once prepared, the Buck proffered mint and other herbal aromas. A lightly carbonated lime sip gave way to an absinthe swallow complemented by ginger and orgeat flavors. Indeed, the medley of other flavors made the absinthe less anise forward than expected.

Monday, May 25, 2015

toronja bronx

1/4 Gin (1 oz Hayman's Royal Dock Navy Strength Gin)
1/4 Sweet Vermouth (1 oz Punt e Mes)
1/4 Dry Vermouth (1 oz Noilly Prat)
1/4 Grapefruit Juice (1 oz Pink)

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

A few Mondays ago, I opened up The Art of Making a Cocktail & More for some 1927 Cuban cocktail intrigue. There, I found the Toronja Bronx which seemed more interesting than a normal Bronx for it substituted grapefruit ("toronja" in Spanish) for the classic's orange juice. When thinking about the recipe, I opted for overproof gin to carry the recipe's lower proof a little further. Moreover, I thought about the Italian Greyhound and a riff, the Americano Squeeze, and how well grapefruit and Punt e Mes paired up in both, and, therefore, substituted it for regular sweet vermouth.
The Toronja Bronx greeted the senses with fresh grapefruit aromas. The grapefruit continued on into the sip where it mingled with the vermouths' grape flavors, and the swallow offered gin notes and Punt e Mes' bitter complexity along with a grapefruit finish.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

pleasure island

1 1/2 oz Wray & Nephew Overproof Rum
1/2 oz Mezcal (Montelobos)
3/4 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Don's Mix #2 (1:1 Allspice Dram and Vanilla Syrup (BG Reynolds))
1/4 oz Apricot Liqueur (Rothman & Winter)

Shake with ice and strain into a Tiki mug. Top with crushed ice, and garnish with fire (spent lime shell with ~3/8 oz overproof rum, ignited). Garnish with mint and bitters (left out of the original instructions, so omitted here).

After mixing the Homère Punch, I had extra lime juice to use. Therefore, I decided to make a recipe that I had spotted via the OnTheBar app. This was not a Boston recipe, but one from Ryan Lobe at Seattle's Rumba. About a week after I made the drink, CocktailWonk wrote about the recipe and provided some back history and extra details about the drink. This recipe was one of the Seattle entries into the Iron TikiTender competition at TikiKon 2015. The rum that Lobe used was not regular J. Wray, but a house barrel-aged batch to mimic Wray & Nephew 17 Year Old of the original Mai Tai lore. Moreover, the drink name was inspired by the island in Pinocchio "where all the bad boys go to drink and smoke." That recipe also included mint and bitters in addition to the fire garnish.
The Pleasure Island without the mint and bitters garnish smelled of hot rum and lime aromas. The lime continued on into the sip, and the swallow showcased the funky Jamaican rum and vanilla on the swallow, and apricot, allspice, and smoke on the finish.

:: time saving juicing tip ::

Cut once, press once. Instead of cutting in half 50:50, cutting 90:10 such that the 10% is mostly shell, and the 90% displays the beginning of the citrus segments and thus most of the juice bounty.

This does not seem to work as well with limes on this juicer (shell is too small and tough), but for lemons and oranges, it reduces the pressing time and effort in half. Grapefruits are just too large to even attempt this maneuver. We used to do a very similar thing at Russell House Tavern that involved making an X with two cuts on the side of the citrus; however, the citrus had a tendency to roll off of our press when attempted on this juicer. When I posted this on Facebook, there was concern from one bartender that it put too much stress on the machine; I countered that there was very little difference between a half lemon and 90% of a lemon in strength (just increase in resistance time/distance); it seemed that there was more stress when juicing 90% of a lime due to the shell integrity though. Another was concerned with the efficiency of the technique, and for lemons and oranges, there was about the same amount of pulp and spent pulp in the shell afterwards; for limes, the shell collapsed inward making it harder to assess. Bartender Ciaran Wiese tacked on the pointer, "Make a shallow cut to the open end of the lemon, it saves the press from ripping the citrus."

Friday, May 22, 2015

homere punch

2 oz Rhum Agricole
1/2 oz Benedictine
1/4 oz Orange Liqueur
1/4 oz Lime Juice

Build in a rocks glass with a large ice cube (or equivalent amount of smaller ice cubes). Garnish with a lime wheel or two floated on the ice cube (competition submission was garnished solely with lime oil).

A few weeks ago, my 'Ti Punch recipe submission made the cut for the Rhum Clément 'Ti Punch Cup. I found out after my closing shift on Wednesday night that I got accepted a little over 48 hours before the competition. I also learned that my bar manager made the cut too, and we were both scheduled for that Saturday to work. To complicate things, the other bartender had requested the day off, so unfortunately, both of us passed on competing. Regardless, here is my submission. I dubbed the riff the Homère Punch after Homère Clément, the man who had the idea to press sugarcane on Martinique like a fruit and ferment it like an eau de vie to produce Rhum Agricole. I listed my drink inspiration as, "The Haitian drink the Pétion and how flavorful rums work rather well with lime and Benedictine, and that liqueur ties back to the French colonization of the Martinique. In addition, the orange liqueur aspect for it pairs well with Benedictine in drinks like They Shall Inherit the Earth and the Honeymoon Cocktails."
The Homère Punch presented a lime aroma over the funky, grassy rum bouquet. On the sip, crisp lime notes were balanced by sweet orange ones, and the swallow offered grassy rum and herbal flavors along with a tart lime finish.

Thursday, May 21, 2015


3/4 oz Bonded Rye Whiskey (Rittenhouse)
3/4 oz Laird's Bonded Apple Brandy
1/2 oz Ginger Liqueur (King's)
1/2 oz Pear Liqueur (Rothman & Winter)
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1 dash Orange Bitters (Regan's)

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

Later that night after enjoying the Kapuna Kane at the Independent, I found myself desiring another cocktail once dinner was over. For a recipe, I turned to Food & Wine: Cocktails 2012 to see if there were any variations of classic cocktails that I had previously glossed over. The winner was Jonny Raglin's Sidecar riff called Bondage that he crafted at the Comstock Saloon in San Francisco. Besides the two bonded spirits, the name also reflects how a sidecar is linked to and dependent on the motorcycle itself. With the classic's Cointreau swapped for pear and ginger liqueurs and orange bitters, it seemed like it could do no wrong.
The Bondage Cocktail offered a bright lemon oil and apple aroma. The lemon notes continued on into the sip where they mingled with a vague fruitiness perhaps from the pear liqueur. The swallow though started with proof-hot whiskey flavors heading into apple and ginger on the finish.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

:: mixology monday: i'll take manhattan wrap up::

I am rather pleased with the level of participation for this Mixology Monday, MxMo XCVII entitled "I'll Take Manhattan." Participants reached for different base spirits, different fortified wines, and/or interesting accessory flavors, and as I begin this post, there were 22 entries from 21 participants, and I am sure that I will have a few more by the time I am done with it (indeed, now up to 24 from 23 as I am about to hit "publish" with I am sure another entry or two that ignored my Mapquest directions but are asking that guy on the corner). Yes, I was a spaz and thought of something to create an hour or so after posting my new school recipe, and I decided to make it later that night as for why there are an unequal number of entries and participants. And as Joel from SouthernAsh pointed out, we are getting rather close to MxMo C (100)! Doubtful that I can get my wife's idea to come true -- to have Paul Clarke host it. He will most likely be busy with his book launch and Tales of the Cocktail recovery then. But without further ado, let's get to these Manhattan variations in temporal order of contacting me!
• Right out of the gate were a pair of eGullet forum participants starting with Chris Taylor from Australia! His Place of Weeping swapped the standard whiskey for brandy, and he utilized a South African brand that I recognize from producing Van der Hum.
• The other eGullet contibutor was Craig E who used a date-infused Bourbon to add a great richness to the classic!
• Fellow Massachusetts cocktail blogger Todd Yard was next up with his entry in the Concocktails blog with the Saint-Tropez inspired by the gin-Dubonnet classic, the Zaza.
• Marius of ArcanePotions takes the standard Manhattan and gussied it up with some oleo saccharum for the Orange in the Rye cocktail.
• A Mexican-themed Manhattan? Katie from GarnishBlog offered up the first of these, the Cuauhtémoc.
• Gary, the good doctor of Doc Elliot's Mixology, took the Manhattan in two directions. The first was one that spiked in sherry and orange flavors, and the second added in some orange notes and barrel time!
• For a second Mexican-themed Manhattan, Chris Tunstall of ABarAbove did not opt for agave but aged rum and mole bitters for the Teotihuacan!
• Andrea of GinHound wandered with the amari for vermouth idea with the Gowanus.
SpiritedRemix's DJHawaiianShirt did go the agave route but took a more seasonal idea in the Violet Hour-themed Summerdusk.
• The drink that I, Frederic of CocktailVirgin, had my eye on a drink from Sam Ross coincidentally had me in that neighborhood of NYC later that week. Namely, the Cobble Hill that someone else was also inspired to write about for this MxMo!
• Christa and Shaun of the BoozeNerds do double time with a single post: a dark amaro and nutty Ten Paces at Dawn and an amaro and herbal liqueur Park View.
• I wasn't planning on doing two drinks, but it came up how the Manhattan and the Sazerac were on the short list of drinks that I could pick as "my drink" to never veer from. But why can't I have both?
• Dagreb posted his preferred house Manhattan with an olive garnish over at NihilUtopia. Perhaps he will put in a footnote as to why he called it such...
• A White Manhattan? Kafka at KitchShamanism worked his magic with some white dog whiskey into his Crystalline Manhattan.
• Any time that I can push JFL of RatedRCocktails out of his comfort zone, I feel that my job is done for the day (or perhaps this time for the mixology month). Move aside Tiki, it's Manhattan -- My Chinatown Moll!
• Brenda Sharpe of DeliciousCocktailTime paid tribute to her home of Canada with a bit of Pimm's and a touch of black currant in the Victoriana.
• For Stuart Putney of PutneyFarms, it is the Perfect Manhattan that does it for him. Perfectly Perfect.
• Returning back to Canada, Whitney of TipicularFixins was inspired by all of her city's cherry blossoms from Japan to make a Japanese whisky Brooklyn-like number, the Sakura.
• Chris of Mindtron or is it BuriedPleasure split things up by crossing a Black Manhattan with a Rum Manhattan for the Hamilton. And no, not the rum (Ed) Hamilton, but the President one. And he also doubled things up with the tequila-based Solar Flare!
• What better reason to start a blog than MxMo? ThreeLeggedCocktails launched things off with the City West by making his own wormwood wines (essentially vermouths or proto-vermouths)!
• Great minds think alike, and Hilary at SpiritedAwayCocktails also picked the Cobble Hill. While my path was searching for NYC burrough-named drinks, hers was for Manhattan variations using Amaro Montenegro.
• Light rum and Lillet factor heavily into Joel DiPippa's Privateer Cocktail on SouthernAsh. He even got philosophical about the elemental nature of the recipe...
• The first of the late bunch (but still under my posting the roundup) was Matt (and Catherio) of DrinkSomethingCompletelyDifferent. He mixed things up with a spiced syrup to round out the Alphabet City Cocktail.
• The next of the post-deadline ones sent in a twitter warning that recipe snafus were sending her into overtime. The Muse of Doom of Feu de Vie did not let me down with her Secret Agent Manhattan though.

So there are the 24 entries that made the deadline for the first pressing of this wrapup. The post will be amended for late entries of course, but the first wave of readers will alas miss the magic. Thank you all for paying tribute to one of my favorite cocktails and first adult-styled mixed drinks that I enjoyed, the Manhattan!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

kapuna kane

1 1/2 oz Salers Gentiane Liqueur
1 oz Macchu Pisco
3/4 oz Pineapple Juice
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Cinnamon-Honey Syrup (*)
6 dash Angostura Bitters

Shake with ice and strain into a rocks glass. Garnish with a spritz of mezcal.
(*) Sub either all cinnamon syrup or 1/4 oz each cinnamon and honey syrup in a pinch.
A few Fridays ago, I ventured over to the Independent on my day off. For a drink, I started with the Kapuna Kane which was perhaps named after the Hawaiian children's book author who wrote Keoni The Good Menehune. I was lured in by the combination of Pisco and gentian liqueur. Once served, the Kapuna Kane yielded a smoky aroma from the mezcal with earthy and lightly floral notes underneath. Next, the sip was a dry honey flavor with fruit notes from the pineapple and lime. The pineapple continued on into the swallow where it joined the gentian's earthiness, and it all ended with a cinnamon and spice finish.

Monday, May 18, 2015

merchants exchange manhattan.

The theme for this month's Mixology Monday (MxMo XCVII) was selected by myself (to read more about the theme, look here), Frederic, and I could not contain myself to one drink after making the Cobble Hill. I picked "I'll Take Manhattan!" to continue on with the classic cocktail-themed MxMo's, for the Manhattan is part of the short list of drinks if I could only pick one to have as my call. Another is the Sazerac. But wait, why can't we have both?

That is pretty much how I thought up this drink on Saturday at brunch. Keep the rye and sweet vermouth of a Manhattan, but change the bitters from Angostura that I generally use for Peychaud's. Besides the Peychaud's, the conversion to a more Sazerac drink requires an absinthe rinse of the glass and a lemon oil garnish. Instead of a sugar cube or simple syrup, sweet vermouth would act as the sugar source. I guess that I did a similar thing converting the Sea Captain's Special from Stan Jones' Complete Barguide into the Sea Captain's Sazerac in a slightly abstracted way.
Merchants Exchange Manhattan
• 2 oz Rye Whiskey (Old Overholt)
• 1 oz Sweet Vermouth (Dolin)
• 3 dash Peychaud's Bitters
Stir with ice and strain into a rocks glass pre-rinsed with absinthe (Butterfly). Garnish with lemon oil.
For a name, I selected "Merchants Exchange" to tack on to "Manhattan." The original idea came from a Wikipedia entry about the Sazerac that led me to search again and find a great article written by David Wondrich in Esquire. The Merchants Exchange Coffee House was a bar under the ownership of Sewell Taylor until 1850 when he gave it up for the liquor import business. One of his import products was the Sazerac-de-Forge et Fils Cognac that went into the early Sazerac Cocktail recipe. The bar was transferred to Aaron Bird who changed the name of the bar to the Sazerac House; there, they sold the Sazerac Cocktail with Taylor's Cognac and local bitters from a nearby druggist, Antoine Amedie Peychaud. So technically, my Manhattan variation should be a Cognac one here, but I assume that I can let the Phylloxera part of history be relevant here too.
Once made, the Merchants Exchange Manhattan began much like a Sazerac with lemon oil and anise-driven spice filling the bouquet. Grape added to the sip though to join the whiskey's malt, and it added a roundness to the swallow to mitigate the rye flavors and bitters' spice there.

I guess I picked a great theme for myself since I was motivated to do double time via a modern recipe as well as create one. And from the early entries for Mixology Monday and the enthusiastic Twitter activity, I am guessing that I am in good company with this one. So thank you all for building up energy on this theme and building up the cocktail blogger community as a whole. Normally, I cannot wait for the wrap-up post; however, that feat is on my shoulders. Cheers!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

cobble hill

The theme for this month's Mixology Monday (MxMo XCVII) was picked by myself, Frederic. The topic I chose was "I'll Take Manhattan!" since it seemed like a good continuation of the classic cocktail-themed Mixology Mondays as of late such as the Old Fashioned and the Martini, and the Manhattan is part of the short list of "if I could only have one cocktail for the rest of my days" drinks. I elaborated on the concept by describing, "Turning to David Wondrich's Imbibe! for some historical reference, he bandied back and forth about possible creators and locales for this classic's creation. Perhaps it was created many places and many times, for sweet vermouth was the new hot ingredient of the 1870s and 1880s as St. Germain was in 2007 and 2008 (and arguably even to today). Wondrich quoted from the anonymously penned 1898 Cocktails: How To Make Them, 'The addition of Vermouth was the first move toward the blending of cocktails.' In my mind, the Manhattan takes the Old Fashioned one step further. Not only does it replace the sugar with sweet vermouth, but this sweetener ties its herbal notes to those of the bitters and its spice notes to the barrel-aged whiskey (especially rye whiskey) as well as the bitters again. Furthermore, the addition of a hint of fruit and caramel flavoring is a welcome addition to the mix... For this theme, actuate it any way you'd like as long as the drink resembles a Manhattan. Want to take 19th century Manhattan recipes or variations to the test? ...Or perhaps subbing out the whiskey or vermouth for another ingredient or adding in a liqueur or other modifier or so to the mix? Awesome, you're right on track! There are plenty of Manhattan and Manhattan variations out there in the literature, and there’s plenty of room to explore and tinker if that's your thing, too."
For inspiration, I tracked back to an article by Robert Simonson from Time Out NY from January 2009 entitled "A cocktail for every 'hood: Next stops, Bushwick, Carroll Gardens" which mentions the then new crop of cocktails named after New York neighborhoods. At that time, Amaro Montenegro was unavailable in Boston so I did not make the drink, but once the amaro became available here mid-2011 and I owned it early-2012, I had forgotten about the drink. However, this theme brought me back to the Cobble Hill recipe. And last weekend when crashing at my brother's house in Brooklyn before going to Gary Regan's Cocktails in the Country, life brought me to Cobble Hill itself.
Cobble Hill
• 2 oz Rye Whiskey (Old Overholt)
• 1/2 oz Dry Vermouth (Noilly Prat)
• 1/2 oz Amaro Montenegro
• 2 slice Cucumber
Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.
The Cobble Hill is attributed to Sam Ross when he was at Milk & Honey as his "summertime Manhattan." The article quotes Sam as declaring, "The addition of dry vermouth and a bruised cucumber did brighten up the rye whiskey and almost deems it refreshing." Once mixed, the Cobble Hill shared a rye and lemon aroma. Malt and a vegetal sweetness on the sip gave way to rye and clementine on the swallow and a cucumber smoothness on the finish. Overall, I was quite impressed at how well rye and cucumber go together; previously, most of the cucumber-complementary drinks I have drank have been agave, gin, aquavit, and perhaps rum.

Unlike normal, I will not say thanks to the host for picking the theme this time since all of my gratitude this month is towards the participants of Mixology Monday for churning out content and for the readers who add to overall the enthusiasm!

Friday, May 15, 2015

:: highlights from cocktails in the country ::

Earlier in the week, I attended Gary Regan's Cocktails in the Country 2015, the first of a series of events he last did in 2007. From meeting up at noon on Monday until being dropped back off in Manhattan at 7pm on Tuesday, I was in the company of 9 other bartenders in various stages of their careers as well as a few industry guests. We all made the pilgrimage to Cornwall, NY, where Gary lives about 60 miles north of Manhattan, and the event from bar to overnight accommodations were held at Painters Inn. The two days were filled with classes, interactive sessions, Negroni drinking, and bartending time, and here are some of the gems that were discussed.
One of the books that Gary reads over and over again is The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. These four rules are quite pertinent for a bartender to get along well with both your guests and your coworkers:
1. Be impeccable with your word (i.e.: do not lie).
2. Do not take anything personally (criticism often is not about you but about them and their insecurities).
3. Do not make assumptions.
4. Always do your best (your best today might not be as your best yesterday, and do not beat yourself up as long as you are doing your best).
Gary spoke a lot about mindful bartending -- the total awareness of everything around you from what your customers, your fellow staff, and even the kitchen are doing. Set your intentions for the evening; "I want to make a lot of money tonight" is not as important as "I want to be of service to my guest" because that will set things up such that the money will come naturally. Mindfulness can start with focusing on communication. Whether you are at work or running errands in town, ask "How are you today?" and wait for a response along with eye contact. Perhaps not when you are in the weeds at the bar, but start when it is slower. And not just the guests, but consider the dishwasher, the barback, and others who may not get noticed in life. Communication is a two way street but stop and listen to what people have to say.
Part of the event was a library hour. The book I selected was the 1901 The New Police Gazette Bartenders Guide that had the above gem about politeness and affability costing nothing. This rare gem was a privilege to read; such century-old paperbacks are so fragile that few are left in such great condition and the ones that I have seen for sale have been well out of my price range.

Phrasing is an important part of communication.
• Avoid the tyranny of "shoulds" and avoid the use of should at all costs. Instead use the phrase "you might want to think about."
• "I need your help." Whether it is a coworker or the ringleader of a rowdy group of patrons, singling them out so they feel special makes them more amenable to what you need to be done.

Similar to what was discussed at Anchor Distilling's Educational Drinking Tour, 90% of success is making yourself easy to work with. Gary presented a few guidelines and parameters to consider:
• Never agree to do something you do not want to do or cannot do.
• Always meet deadlines.
• Communicate constantly.
• Help promote your competition.
• Never badmouth anyone.
• Never take yourself too seriously.
Life is far too important to be taken seriously. -- Oscar Wilde
• Do not be a prima donna -- you are no better than anyone else. Success does not make you any better.
• Never lie about your strengths.
In preparing for a shift, consider getting to work early. Whether you meditate, read, or eat food, the time will help you center yourself and prepare yourself for the shift.

Never, ever get angry. However, you will not be successful every time. Anger is fear based. In trying to diffuse situations, know that the victim is afraid. Afraid of acting, afraid of doing nothing. Use humor and connection to your advantage.

Find a good mentor. Most bartenders are willing to share their knowledge. Just sitting at their bar and watching how they handle various situations can be helpful.

Use cleaning the bar during the shift to your advantage. Cleaning will restore organization and teach you where things live. Moving up and down the bar during the cleaning will allow you to interact with all of the guests.

Finally, nobody goes to a bar for a drink. You can drink at home, but people go out to celebrate, meet other people, find romance, conduct business, or read. People will go out for a drink if they hear that the place has quality cocktails, but they will not return if that is all they get. The most important goal of a bartender's job is to make sure that every guest leaves the bar happier than when they walked in.

For further insight into mindful bartending, I recommend Gary's Gary Regan's Annual Manual for Bartenders series. I own and have read 2011 and 2012, and I have 2013 coming my way. Those books pointed me in the direction of such literary gems as This Must Be the Place. And there are still several more dates for Cocktails in the Country and more information can be had here.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

stirred sling

1 oz Appleton Estate Reserve Rum
1 oz Zafra Rum (Zaya)
1 barspoon Benedictine
1 barspoon Maraschino Liqueur
1 barspoon Grand Marnier
2 dash Orange Bitters (Regan's)

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

Two Tuesdays ago, I began to flip through Food & Wine: Cocktails 2012 and stopped at the Julie Reiner's Singapore Sling riffs. I had previously made the Lani Kai Sling but I had not tried the Stirred Sling that she created at Lani Kai. Julie explained that, "The Singapore Sling is one of my favorite tropical cocktails," and the text described how this deconstructed Singapore Sling removed all the juice and replaced the gin with rums that donated some of the fruity flavors back.
The Stirred Sling presented a bright lime oil aroma over that of the deep, rich caramel rum. The caramel continued on into the sip and swallow, and the swallow also contained chocolate and further rum notes with a nutty Maraschino and orange finish.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015


1/2 English Gin (1 1/2 oz Seagram's)
1/2 Dry Vermouth (1 1/2 oz Noilly Prat)
1 tsp Chartreuse (1/4 oz Green)
1 Orange Peel

Shake with ice (stir) and strain into a cocktail glass. I garnished with an orange twist.

Two Mondays ago, I reached for the 1927 Cuban El Arte de Hacer un Cocktail y Algo Mas that was translated cover to cover into English by Mixellany to The Art of Making a Cocktail. There, I spotted the Puentes which translates into Bridges that reminded me more of a tunnel drink, namely Kevin Martin's Albert Mathieu that he created at Eastern Standard and took with him in 2008 on a bartender exchange with PDT (we got Daniel Eun for a few nights!). Or perhaps this recipe comes closest to a much more balanced and more Dry Martini variation of the Bijou. The orange peel in the mixing tin is very parallel with the orange bitters that color the Bijou; I am not sure if a light muddling and stirring accomplished the same as shaking with ice though.
The Puentes began like it ended with orange notes here on the nose. A clean wine sip gave way to juniper and Green Chartreuse herbal notes in a balanced sort of way all with an orange peel finish.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015


1/3 jigger Bacardi Rum (1 oz Caliche + 1 bsp Wray & Nephew)
1/3 jigger Sweet Vermouth (1 oz Dolin)
4 dash Apricot Brandy (1/4 oz Rothman & Winter)
2 dash Grenadine (1/4 oz)
1 spoon Lemon Juice (1/2 oz)

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
After the Hallelujah, I turned to Boothby's 1934 World Drinks And How To Mix Them for a forgotten gem. There, I spotted the L'Etta which reminded me of the Floridita with apricot liqueur and lemon in place of the crème de cacao and lime. In the glass, L'Etta offered an apricot aroma accompanied by other fruity notes. The sip was likewise fruity with grape, lemon's crispness, and hints of pomegranate; the swallow, though, shared funky rum notes blending into the apricot flavors. Instead of the Floridita, L'Etta reminded me more of a classic Periodista (not the Boston dark rum version).

Monday, May 11, 2015


1 oz Brandy (Pedro Domecq Fundador Solera Reserva)
1 oz Sweet Vermouth (Dolin)
1/2 oz Aged Rhum Agricole (Vale d'Paul)
1 tsp Lime Juice
1 tsp Grenadine
2 dash Angostura Bitters
2 dash Orange Bitters (Regan's)

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.
Two Saturdays ago, I opened up the new May/June issue of Imbibe Magazine and spotted the Hallelujah presented by Thad Vogler of Trou Normand in San Francisco. Thad adapted a 1929 recipe from Charles H. Baker Jr.'s The Gentleman's Companion that Baker acquired from his friend Max Bilgray of Colon, Panama, who owned the Tropic Bar and Cabaret. At Bar Agricole, Thad utilized Armagnac as the brandy instead of the original's Cognac. Using Spanish brandy here (a decision I made before I knew the Armagnac and Cognac options of the adaptation and the original, respectively), the Hallelujah proffered lemon aromas over barrel-aged caramel brandy notes. On the tongue, a grape tinged sip was accented by lime and pomegranate flavors, and the swallow began with brandy and grassy rums and ended with an orange and spice finish.

Friday, May 8, 2015

it's raining men

1 1/2 oz Zacapa Rum (Diplomatico Exclusiva)
1/2 oz Rainwater Madeira (Blandy's 5 Yr Verdelho)
2 1/2 oz Pineapple Juice
2 dash Angostura Bitters
1 Egg White

Shake once without ice and once with ice. Strain into a Collins glass with ice.
Since I already had opened up the pineapple juice, I decided to make the winning recipe from April's ShakeStir New England competition that had been announced earlier that day. The drink was called It's Raining Men which was in line with the April showers contest theme, and this egg white number was created by Kayleigh Speck of the Grange in Providence, Rhode Island. With dark rum, Madeira, and pineapple juice, this libation seemed like it would be quite flavorful and refreshing. Once prepped, the It's Raining Men offered a pineapple aroma that led into a creamy pineapple sip. On the swallow, the caramel-driven aged rum, Madeira's dark grape, and the bitters' spice came through to donate quite a bit of character.

Thursday, May 7, 2015


1 oz Mezcal (Montelobos)
1 oz Blanco Tequila (Piedra Azul)
1/2 oz Averna
3/4 oz Pineapple Juice
1/4 oz Royal Combier (Grand Marnier)

Build in a wine glass and stir to mix without ice. Garnish with 3 mists of Angostura Bitters (glass pre-rinsed with a dash or two) and a flamed orange twist (not flamed). Note: This is a room temperature cocktail.
Two Fridays ago, I specifically bought pineapple juice to make a drink I spotted on the Del Maguey Mezcal site's recipe collection. The drink I was lured in by was Bobby Heugel's The Brave that he created early at Anvil Bar & Refuge and remains on the list to this day. I was partially drawn in to the recipe not just because it was a room temperature cocktail, but one that also included fruit juice in the mix; the only other one I had was the Pequod Sour from the Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book. After I made the drink and put it on Instagram, Bobby commented back that the recipe was an error and there was no pineapple juice whatsoever.
The Brave
• 1 oz Mezcal
• 1 oz Blanco Tequila
• 1/2 oz Averna
• 1/4 oz Royal Combier
Build in a wine glass and stir to mix without ice. Garnish with 3 mists of Angostura Bitters and a flamed orange twist. Note: This is a room temperature cocktail.
I was a little dismayed that I had made the wrong drink due to the misprint, but the results were rather delightful especially with how the pineapple worked well to tie together the rich caramel notes of the amaro and the earthy spiciness of the agave spirits as well as soften the spirits' heat. Indeed, the erroneous drink had taken a life of its own. For a name, I kept the concept of "brave" and the Mexican origin of the distillates and dubbed this the Soldadera after the female soldiers who fought alongside the men in the Mexican Revolution. Not to let this fortuitous blunder slip unwritten, here are my tasting notes. The Soldadera began with clove, smoke, and orange oil aromas. Next, the sip offered that great pairing of caramel and pineapple, and the swallow began with smoke, agave, and pineapple flavors, and ended with an orange peel note from the liqueur.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

sea dog

2 oz Sercial Madeira (Blandy's 5 Year Verdelho)
1/2 oz Simple Syrup
1 dash Mole Bitters
2 Orange Twists

Shake with ice and strain into a rocks glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with a lemon twist.
Two Wednesdays ago, I was flipping through Food & Wine: Cocktails 2013 and spotted the Sea Dog created by Kirk Estopinal of New Orleans' Cure and Bellocq. While I previously skipped over this simple recipe in the book's liqueurs and fortified wines section, my interest in Madeira has increased given my bar's Colonial focus on brandy, rum, and said fortified wine. I envisioned this drink more in Cobbler format as they would do at Bellocq, but I made it in a rocks glass as described instead of the more traditional Cobbler's tall glass and a straw. Once built, the Sea Dog's lemon twist brightened the drink's presentation and preceded the grape with orange-noted sip. Finally, the swallow was a bit more complex with dried fruit and chocolate aspects.

the idle class

1 oz Aged Rum (Plantation 5 Year Barbados)
1 oz Dry Madeira (Blandy's 5 Year Verdelho) (*)
1 oz Ramazzotti Amaro
1 barspoon Orange Liqueur (Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao)
2 dash Orange Bitters (Regan's)

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.
(*) Sercial or Verdelho would work best. Read more about Madeira styles here.

Two Mondays ago, I began to ponder what I could make with the new bottle at work, Amaro Ramazzotti. Looking through the various Ramazzotti recipes on the blog, I honed in on Ben Dougherty's Chaplin that he created at ZigZag in Seattle. I first learned of the Chaplin when Katie Emmerson at the Hawthorne made me Alex Day's riff La Viña from Death & Co. From the original, I took the Bourbon and dry sherry and swapped them for aged rum and dry Madeira and kept everything else the same. For a name, I dubbed this one The Idle Class after one of Charlie Chaplin's movies from 1921.
The Idle Class began with a lemon oil aroma over a dark grape note at first that later became more candied orange. The amaro and rum's caramel came through on the swallow along with a dry grape element, and the swallow showcased the rum, orange, and more caramel flavors with a clean, high acid finish.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

the king's mistress

1 1/4 oz Tequila (Espolón Blanco)
1 1/4 oz Pineau des Charentes (Chateau de Beaulon)
1/2 oz Lime Juice
2 dash Orange Bitters (Regan's)

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

Two Saturdays ago, I was inspired by my work-bar getting in both Pineau des Charentes and Floc de Gascogne which are unfermented grape must fortified with Cognac and Armagnac, respectively. The sweet grape juice and the spirit's ABV puts both of these contenders in the same ABV as other Lillet Blanc (16-22%) but somewhere between Lillet and triple sec in sweetness. One of the first Pineau des Charentes cocktails that I made at home was the Pompadour from Frank Meier's 1934 The Artistry Of Mixing Drinks which pairs the Pineau with rhum agricole and balances its sweetness with lemon juice. The Pompadour in question was an old brand of Pineau des Charentes called for in the classic recipe. As a starting point for a riff, I decided to switch the rhum to tequila since I have not tinkered much with it since I crafted the Chutes & Ladders. While the Pineau des Charentes did a great job bridging the gap between rhum agricole and lemon juice, I figured that I could relieve it of some of its chores by switching to a more complementary lime juice here. And the whole mix seemed like a good candidate for some orange bitters as well.
For a name, I honed in on the Pompadour. While I could not make a great drink name connection to the hairstyle itself or the defunct liquor brand, there was a famous Madame de Pompadour who was a member of the French court. She was trained from childhood to be a mistress and later rose to being the official chief mistress of Louis XV. Therefore, the King's Mistress seemed like a good homage to all her hard work advising the king, organizing his schedules, and making nice with the queen! Once mixed, the cocktail offered tequila and floral notes. Next, white grape and lime on the sip gave way to tequila with a clean, mineral grape finish.

Monday, May 4, 2015

:: mixology monday announcement ::

MxMo XCVII: I'll Take Manhattan!

With no volunteers for May, I'll step in again to host Mixology Monday to keep this feline wrangling party going. The month of May usually makes me think of the Manhattan Cocktail Classic which had been running strong since 2009. Unfortunately, the event was sold off after the 2014 event and the new buyer dropped the ball on things this season. Also on my mind is that I will be finding myself in Manhattan next week on either side of attending Gaz Regan's Cocktails in the Country a bit more upstate. With previous Mixology Monday themes of Martinis and Old Fashioneds, why not Manhattans?

Turning to David Wondrich's Imbibe! for some historical reference, he bandied back and forth about possible creators and locales for this classic's creation. Perhaps it was created many places and many times, for sweet vermouth was the new hot ingredient of the 1870s and 1880s as St. Germain was in 2007 and 2008 (and arguably even to today). Wondrich quoted from the anonymously penned 1898 Cocktails: How To Make Them, "The addition of Vermouth was the first move toward the blending of cocktails." In my mind, the Manhattan takes the Old Fashioned one step further. Not only does it replace the sugar with sweet vermouth, but this sweetener ties its herbal notes to those of the bitters and its spice notes to the barrel-aged whiskey (especially rye whiskey) as well as the bitters again. Furthermore, the addition of a hint of fruit and caramel flavoring is a welcome addition to the mix (I will not directly draw any link to the vermouth's fruit and the cherry garnish though). While there have been a variety of Manhattan variations through the years such as the Preakness and the Brooklyn, most of the twentieth century saw this drink unchanged, in theory that is. I know that I have gotten a cocktail glass full of frothy Bourbon and ice shards at a place that I should have stuck to beer; indeed, both the vermouth and the bitters have fallen out of fashion to some degree at average bars. Other Manhattan experiences used only a splash of vermouth; when I complained, one bartender declared that he did not put too much in. I countered that it was not enough and repeated that I wanted a 2:1 Manhattan. That bartender would not let himself add more and handed me the vermouth bottle so he could be relieved of responsibility in the matter. However, the last decade or so has seen a renewal in the drink begin made correctly. Moreover, I would point to New York City cerca 2005 as the re-birth of the Manhattan variation with drinks like the Red Hook being born.

For this theme, actuate it any way you'd like as long as the drink resembles a Manhattan. Want to take 19th century Manhattan recipes or variations to the test? Want to figure out what the best whiskey to vermouth pairings and ratios are? Or perhaps subbing out the whiskey or vermouth for another ingredient or adding in a liqueur or other modifier or so to the mix? Awesome, you're right on track! There are plenty of Manhattan and Manhattan variations out there in the literature, and there's plenty of room to explore and tinker if that's your thing, too.

Here's how to play:

• Find or concoct a recipe that looks and feels like a Manhattan Cocktail.
• Make the drink and then post the recipe, a photo, and your thoughts about the libation on your blog, tumblr, or website or on the eGullet Spirits and Cocktails forum.
• Include in your post the MxMo logo and a link back to both the Mixology Monday and Cocktail Virgin sites. And once the round-up is posted, a link to that summary post would be appreciated.
• Provide a link to your submission in the comment section here, tweet at @cocktailvirgin, or send an email to with the word "MxMo" somewhere in the subject line.

The due date is Monday, May 18th which I will interpret as whatever gets posted before my next day off which could be the 19th or 20th (and yes, I will tack on late entries since it is part of the act of cat herding).


oahu gin sling

2 oz Gin (Beefeater)
1 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Crème de Cassis (G.E. Massenez)
1/2 oz Benedictine
1 tsp Sugar (omitted)

Shake with ice and strain into a Pilsner glass containing 3 oz soda water, a long wide lime spiral, and ice.

After making the Ginger-Lime Rum Daiquiri, I was still in a rum mood so I reached for Beachbum Berry's Remixed. Instead of getting lured in by another sugar-cane spirit-driven recipe, it was a gin one. The Oahu Gin Sling struck me as a cross between a Mississippi Mule (gin, cassis, lemon -- a combination that Misty Kalkofen used in her Temporary Fix) and a Straits Sling (gin, Benedictine, Cherry Heering, lemon, soda). Berry attributed the recipe to Thomas Mario, the food and drink editor of Playboy Magazine circa 1970.
The long horse's neck lime garnish added a bounty of lime oil notes to the dark fruity aroma from the cassis. Next, the sip was a carbonated lime and dark berry flavor that led into a gin and Benedictine herbal swallow with black currant to round off the drink with tart bass notes. Overall, the Oahu Gin Sling was rather gin forward with the Beefeater, and the cassis in place of cherry took the Singapore Sling-style drink in a novel direction.

Friday, May 1, 2015

ginger-lime rum daiquiri

A few weeks ago, author Warren Bobrow asked if I would accept an advance copy of his new book, Bitters and Shrub Syrup Cocktails, and try out a recipe for the blog. As I read through all the recipes, one of the shrubs that grabbed me the most was the ginger-lime shrub. Besides the flavor profile sounding delightful, I had everything needed to start the project in my refrigerator. While some of the recipes in the book are rather quick shrubs, Warren recommended that this one and several others take its time to develop. So my post about the drink from the advance copy of the book is ready today, May 1st, when the book actually launches (see Amazon link above).
Ginger-Lime Shrub
• Peeled zest of 1 lime (discard pith)
• 1 lime (same one as above), quartered
• 2 oz sugar
• 1 1/2 tablespoons (3/4 oz) grated ginger
• 2 oz apple cider vinegar
Combine lime zest, lime flesh, sugar, and ginger; stir and leave 1-2 days. Muddle the lime and ginger; strain into a jar and add the vinegar. Store in a bottle for 3-4 weeks before using; mix every day or so until sugar is fully dissolved. Note: this recipe was scaled back 4x from the book.
I ended up scaling back the recipe a bit from the book's batch as well as reducing the 4 week incubation to 2 weeks. Resources and deadlines, you know. With this one shrub recipe, Warren provided 5 different drink recipes that can act on their own or serve as catalysts for future experimentation. From that handful, I was tempted by the egg white and Green Chartreuse-laden Twisted Cachaça Sour, but I ended up feeling the need for a Daiquiri.
The recipe for the Daiquiri pictured above is:
Ginger-Lime Rum Daiquiri
• 2 oz Rhum Agricole
• 1 oz Ginger-Lime Shrub
• 3/4 oz Lime Juice
• 1/2 oz Simple Syrup
Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lime wheel.
Once prepared, the Daiquiri offered grassy and funky rum aromas with a hint of fresh lime and savory vinegar. The sip was rather delightful with lime notes and a fruitiness very similar to peach. Finally, the swallow came through as expected with grassy rum and ginger flavors with a vinegar zing. Overall, Bitters & Shrub Syrup Cocktails is less history-driven compared to Michael Dietsch's Shrubs book but is loaded with culinary ideas and flavor combinations.