Sunday, July 31, 2016

banda island swizzle

1 oz Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum
1 oz Flor de Caña Rum
3/4 oz Pineapple Juice
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Nutmeg Syrup (*)

Build in a Collins glass, fill with crushed ice, and swizzle to mix and chill. Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg, a lime wheel, and a paper parasol.
(*) The presenters used a syrup available in Grenada; however, DIY syrups can easily be made (especially from the nubs that are too small to grate from). Perhaps a long steep of 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg to 1/2 cup sugar and a 1/2 cup of boiling water.
At the Tales of the Cocktail talk on nutmeg, the presenters came up with a Swizzle to represent the history of nutmeg by naming it after the source island and utilizing a Caribbean drink style, the Swizzle, and a Grenadian nutmeg syrup after where much of the present day nutmeg is harvested. Once prepared, the Swizzle offered a pineapple and spice aroma that would transition well into the flavor profiles of both the sip and the swallow. Indeed, the sip added lime notes to the hints of pineapple and woody spice, and the swallow tacked on rum notes to the spice and pineapple elements.

:: nutmeg - the seed that spiced 1000 sips ::

The second talk I attended at Tales of the Cocktail this year was about nutmeg of all things. A talk on a garnish? Well, I was convinced that it was more than just a garnish considering how essential it is to me on topping Cobblers, Tiki, and Flips. And as the speakers described, this valuable spice led to wars and found its way into lots of essential liqueurs and vermouths. Indeed, the presenters here were Jack McGarry of Dead Rabbits in NYC, Peter Vestinos of The Betty in Chicago, and Charlotte Voisey of Hendricks Gin.

The nutmeg comes from an evergreen tree Myristica fragrans that produces fruits that look like a pale yellow peach. The flesh itself is rather bland and uninteresting, but the kernel inside is where all of the value lies including the flavor and aroma; overall, it is the exact opposite of a peach where you eat the flesh and discard the stone. The two interesting parts are covering or aryl over the seed called mace and the seed itself. Mace has a similar flavor and aroma as nutmeg but is red or dark brown in color. The tree takes 4-7 years to come to fruiting maturity; after that, the fruit falls naturally from the tree.

The panelists bandied about possible roots of the word. Nutmeg is the act of shooting a soccer ball through the legs. Since nutmeg had such great value, there was a lot of trickery in the trade including selling a bag of nutmeg that was something other of similar weight below the top layers. However, they did not cover how Connecticut was the "Nutmeg State" for selling fake nutmeg that was actually just carved wood; that seemed like a significant oversight considering I was born in Milford, CT, and was introduced to that famous concept of spice trickery from an early age.

Nutmeg was originally from the Banda Islands in Indonesia, but through trade and smuggling, the tree began to grow in other areas with similar climate. Trade routes from Europe to the Banda Islands took 3-6 months around the horn of Africa, but the trip was well worth it due to the 60,000% markup at port. It was literally worth more than its weight in gold then. The islands were contested throughout history with Portugal establishing preferred trade instead of occupation in 1577. In 1591, the English form the East India Trading Company, and for 20 years after that, the Dutch and English fight for control of the spice trade. Later, England traded the islands for the Dutch's New Amsterdam (New York). The Bandas began to decline when the English began to replant nutmeg around the Indian Ocean, and the finishing move was the series of late 18th century volcanoes, earthquakes, and tidal waves that destroy the islands. And in the 1790s, the Dutch Trading Company folded as it was too costly to continue the effort. Currently, the leading region for nutmeg is Grenada in the Caribbean which became known as the "Spice Island" and it even has the nutmeg its flag. There are terroir differences between Indonesian and Caribbean nutmegs though.

The culinary uses of nutmeg are well known although different cultures use the spice in different pairings like green vegetables, potatoes, and cheese sauces with more seasonal links to "holiday spices." Health links include aiding stomach ailments, sweating sickness, brain health, oral health, and sleep. Two great stories were shared in this section. First, William Salmon in 1683 explored the warming spice aspect and described a self experiment in which nutmeg oil rubbed on the genitals produced sexual excitation. The second was a German folk tradition where a lady would eat a nutmeg whole, pass it, and grate it over her lover's food. Talk about next level garnish! They also mentioned that nutmeg can be hallucinogenic and described the long lasting euphoria as being between alcohol and marijuana. The dosage for this effect is 3-4 mg per pound of body weight (a low of 1 tsp to a high of 2 Tbsp before going toxic). Wayne Curtis did a great job in describing the experience in detail when he took it himself in an article called My Nutmeg Bender.

Nutmeg graters were gentleman's accessories in the late 18th centuries such as in a necklace or a silver pocket object. If a dandy wanted nutmeg in their punch, they would bring their own and grate it. As nutmeg became cheaper and more common, so were the graters. In the bar, the microplane is key as pepper mills are not coarse enough. Always use fresh nutmeg for certain aspects are lost in the pre-ground spice.

For bartending, nutmeg can hide off aromas such as egg white's wet dog smell and the rare but present use of soft cheese in drinks. Nutmeg occurs in a lot of bar reagents such as Benedictine, Noilly Prat Ambre Vermouth, St. Maria al Monte Amaro, Fernet, Amaro di Angostura, and Root Liqueur. Moreover, nutmeg can be mixed in to make flavored sugars or salts for rims, and since the spice is both water and alcohol soluble, it was recommended to use the nubs left over from scrapings to make bar syrups.

goodbye horses

1 1/2 oz Quebranta Pisco
3/4 oz Manzanilla Sherry
1/2 oz Honey Syrup
1/4 oz Gran Classico
1/4 oz Lemon Juice
2 dash Suze Bitters (*)

Stir with ice, strain into a coupe glass, and garnish with an orange twist.
(*) Perhaps substitute 1/4 oz of Suze or other gentian liqueur

While exiting the Cure, I bumped into Simon Difford who was waiting for his Uber to show up, and he invited me to go back to the Quarter to visit the new pisco-themed bar at the Catahoula Hotel. I had heard of that bar as it was being developed when I met Bazil Zerinsky who was on my trip to Mexico in February. And that night, both she and bartender Jonathan Shock were at the stick. For a drink, I asked Bazil for the Goodbye Horses which turned out to be Jonathan's creation.
The Goodbye Horses shared an orange and gentian aroma that led into a honey, orange, and white grape sip. Next, the swallow presented pisco flavors along with herbal notes mostly from the Gran Classico including its bubble gum aspect.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

:: pumping out paradise - the secrets of a high volume tiki bar ::

The first talk I attended at Tales of the Cocktail was about how to gear up a Tiki bar for volume. The speakers were Paul McGee, Shelby Allison, and Erin Hayes of Chicago's Lost Lake, Mindy Kucan of Portland's Hale Pele, and Scotty Schuder of Paris' Dirty Dick, and each gave their own methods and secrets. Historically, Tiki has been high volume with Steve Crane's Kon Tiki Port in Chicago doing $2.2 million in sales in 1966 (equivalent of $17.1 million today).

So what is high volume? At Dirty Dick, the three bartenders on an average Saturday night make around 500 drinks for the room that holds 95 (including standing). At Hale Pele, the two bartenders churn out an average 337 drinks on a Saturday for the 54 seats (included patio seating outside). And Lost Lake will do 607 drinks on an average Saturday night for the 80-85 capacity room (including standing) using 3 bartenders with one of them being a dedicated service bartender.

The next topic was on bar design. Bar stations should be thought of as cockpits with much consideration going into tools, ingredient, and equipment placement. For efficiency's sake, everything should be in arm's reach plus or minus a pivot. Cheater bottles can help as can bartenders learning to be ambi-dexterous so that no time is wasted reaching across your body. Paul McGee added to the cockpit concept by suggesting to "treat your well like it's a desert island and make sure it is stocked for the entire night."
At Hale Pele, the two bartenders share service tickets. Most drinks utilize crushed ice for which they dole out accurately with a measuring cup. A split well that also has cubed ice makes the most of the resources. Mindy mentioned that at Hale Pele, the vodka soda is the hardest drink to make since it takes you out of your element to assemble it.

At Dirty Dick, the bar was set up by high volume bar consultants. They never thought it would be that busy, but they were lucky to have set up such great stations that require little movement. Lost Lake has three stations that service about 30 guests each. The wells are split with Hoshizaki cubes and cubelets (crushed), and 90% of the drinks are made on a Hamilton Beach spindle blender via a 3 second buzz. Also, to save time, the base spirits are batched.
Bar prep is a considerable issue given all of the juices, syrups, batches,and garnishes utilized. For example, Lost Lake will need 85-100 banana dolphins for an average Saturday night not to mention the other needs like 21 liters of lime juice or 8 liters of passion fruit syrup for that night. To accomplish that, they hire one full time and one part time prep staff. Dirty Dick similarly has a full time prep worker who puts in 10 hours per day, 5 days per week. There, that person is paid the same as the bartenders especially since tipping is less of an issue in France. Hale Pele though relies on the bartenders to show 90 minutes before open to juice pineapple and prep garnishes. The citrus juices are prepared by a local commissary kitchen, and the syrups are BG Reynolds brand (although they are beginning to make more in house). The commissary kitchen saves storage space since materials do not need to be kept on the premises. High volume allows for more buying power, the ability to employ a prep person, and allow for higher quality overall.

Some tips for efficiency were that bottles can be lined up underneath or near the equipment to make the drink, and if you move from right to left with the bottles to make the drinks, it is unlikely that you will leave anything out. In terms of batching, Dirty Dick batches everything but the citrus, Lost Lake batches base spirits only, and Hale Pele skips batching entirely. Efficiency can be furthered by zoning glassware, bar cooler arrangement, and back bar layout. Clutter-free Tiki is not a myth especially if you utilize a P-Touch for labels to dictate where things live. Such labels reinforce muscle memory.

Menu design is also another way to increase efficiency by getting people to order quicker. At Hale Pele, they rely on visuals via watercolors of the drinks to get drinks to sell. Breaking down the drinks into sections like tart & tangy, coconut, cinnamon & spice, and for the adventurous can guide people; moreover labeling everything with 1-4 volcanoes to indicate strength helps. Dirty Dick likewise uses the 1-4 skulls for strengths. The menu has sharing bowls on the right with the indication that the table will get their drink quicker. Similarly, Lost Lake increases speed by pushing sharing bowls. As for menu design, they depict the mug with an image as it starts a conversation; also many people are ordering by cuteness of the mug or the presence of fire.

A variety of methods can be brought in for speed. The fastest is the spindle mixer with a 3 second buzz where the result is dirty dumped into the mug with the blender not too far behind in time cost. Shake and stirred drinks are a bit longer, but the most time consuming is the Swizzle so fewer ingredients are uses and the drinks get less garnish time to make up for things. Frozen drinks are a great asset since the dispense is immediate from the machine due to all of the work being done in advance. It can also appease people with a small pour to buy time before their drinks can be made.

As for garnish, drinks do not have to be rushed an made less cute just because you're busy. Set yourself up for easy garnishing with a formula and good bar design. That formula can include one of each type plus a budget or perhaps correlating ingredients in a drink with what garnish would be used. Social media is the best way to check up on garnishes, and a good bar manager can actually tell which bartender garnished the drink due to style. Mindy also recommended putting the straw in first so it will not push the garnish down, and prefers to think "garnishes are like lovers in a hot tub -- all pushed together and tight."

summer in st. tropez

1 oz El Tesoro Platinum Tequila
1 oz Cynar
3/4 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Yellow Chartreuse
1/4 oz 2:1 Demerara Syrup
4 drop Fee's Old Fashioned Aromatic Bitters

Shake with ice, strain into a Double Old Fashioned glass, fill with cubed ice, and garnish with a grapefruit twist.

For a second drink, I asked bartender Ryan Gagnon for the Summer in St. Tropez. The ingredients list on the menu made me think of Under the Volcano, but the actual recipe was much more Cynar forward here. Ryan also declared that the 4 drops of aromatic bitters did indeed matter.
The Summer in St Tropez presented a grapefruit oil aroma over that of the agave notes. Next, the Cynar's caramel mingled with the lime on the sip, and the swallow shared tequila paired with funky bitter and herbal flavors. Overall, the drink was in the same ballpark as Under the Volcano but the flavor balance was much more funky and herbal and less tequila-driven.

Friday, July 29, 2016

melancholy moment

3/4 oz City of London Gin
3/4 oz Punt e Mes
1/2 oz St. George Raspberry Liqueur
1/2 oz Grapefruit Juice

Add 5 mint leaves to the bottom of a Collins glass, add rest of ingredients, fill with crushed ice, and swizzle to mix and chill. Float 1 1/2 oz Fever Tree tonic water, top with crushed ice, and garnish with a mint sprig.

Each year, I have began my Tuesday night before Tales of the Cocktail starts by visiting the Cure. Luckily, this coincided with bartender Ryan Gagnon's schedule for we had been on the same USBG-sponsored trip to Mexico to visit the Patron distillery. As a first drink, I asked Ryan for the Melancholy Moment, a "low proof botanical Swizzle" created by Alexandra Anderson.
The Melancholy Moment gave forth a mint aroma that preceded a grape note leading into grapefruit on the sip. The swallow was a combination of raspberry and the Punt e Mes' bitterness with a mint finish, and as the tonic top entered the equation, the balance became cleaner with a quinine finish.

:: best of tales and nola 2016 ::

On Monday I got back from Tales of the Cocktail. It was my fifth time in the Big Easy for the event, and I approached this year like I did last year with an emphasis of making the most of my media pass by getting into talks. And despite closing a few sponsored night events and a few bars, I still made it to breakfast followed by 3 talks a day for 4 days straight. So for the second year in a row, I went 12 for 12 at the expense of sleep and at the expense of day time events such as tasting rooms, luncheons, pool parties, and the like. Given how hot it was, I really should've skipped a talk to take a dip into the pool

Favorite night time sponsored event: It was Jagermeister's Deergarden which showed off the craft side of the spirit in a laid back, not overfilled venue. The drinks were well thought out (albeit a touch sweet for my palate) and they provided food to match each table's drinks. Nods go to Daigeo's sports-themed night with Tiki drinks served out of Zacapa-branded coconut Tiki mugs and some serious foosball competition being two highlights, as well as to the Bartenders' Breakfast for assembling such star power and for introducing me to Big Freedia's music (they performed live).

Favorite late night hangout (unsponsored): Barrel Proof. Last year, I found myself at the Avenue Pub drinking beer more often than any other location, but this year it was Barrel Proof for the cross between quality and divebar. The two dive bars I did visit this year were the Erin Rose for frozen Irish coffee and the Dungeon for entertainment value.
Best breakfast to power the day: Surrey's in the Lower Garden District.

Best swag: Swag at Tales of the Cocktail has been slowly disappearing, but I did snag a great pair of Monkey Shoulder bartending socks at one of their after parties. Getting excited about socks made me feel like an old man, but there are only so many t-shirts, decks of cards, and sunglasses that you can get excited about. Well, actually, the USBG Thursday Night Tradition shirt was rather cool, but I decided not to wear that on the airplane home for the words TNT and a picture of dynamite didn't seem so prudent.

Best photo request: While at the Diageo's summer games, I said hello to Hollis Bulleit, and she asked if I wanted to take our yearly photo together. Here is the result:
Agave variety: Throughout the week, there were plenty of opportunities to taste agave spirits. Unlike previous years where most of the liquor was based off of Blue Webber (tequila) and Espadin (the easiest to grow of the mezcal agave), I got to try a variety of other agaves - 15 in total plus 1 tastes-like-agave (desert spoon that goes into Sotol). Perhaps my favorites was Tepextate from Gracias a Dios that I got to taste at the Foosball Competition with glorious vegetal olive notes with brighter fruit ones.

A sea of Aloha shirts: Tiki culture had its place this year with everything from how to run a high-volume Tiki bar to Martin Cate taking home an award for Smuggler's Cove. Beachbum Berry's Latitude 29 served as a great base for refreshment and food, and Jeff Berry gave a few seminars as well. Almost Tiki, like a class on Swizzles and the launch of Planation's 138° overproof dark rum of Jamaican, Demerara, and Barbadian spirits put together by Tiki bar legends, bridged the gap.
The importance of low ABV offerings: Last year, I mentioned the number of offerings around town that allowed you to enjoy a variety of flavors and refreshment without getting too inebriated. That year, I remember asking one night at Latitude 29 for something low in alcohol since I had a long night ahead of me, and the bartender commented that was an unusual request in a Tiki bar but pointed out the Missionary's Downfall; this year, the menu had a separate low ABV section. Also, the talks featured low alcohol aperitifs ideas such as David Wondrich & Eric Seed's session on the Americano.
Random cool moments:
• Bumping into Neil Bodenheimer who introduced himself to me because he always saw me taking notes. When I later went to the Cure, he made me an Ojen Frappe using vintage Ojen from the bar's locked spirits cabinets.
• With one empty seat on either side of me at the Cure, I volunteered to slide over, and I then realized it was Simon Difford. When I mentioned that he had written up one of my drinks, he mentioned that quite enjoyed my Chutes & Ladders and gave it 4.5/5 stars on Difford's Guide (he upped the tequila by 1/4 oz and changed the brand in his adaptation). He later invited me to share his Uber to go visit the new pisco-themed bar at the Catahoula Hotel.
• Attending the International Bartending talk and having three of the four panelists say hello to me when I sat in the front row. And at the end of the talk, Julio Cabrera handed me a Cuban cigar as he departed to go to his next event.
• High fives from my old bar manager Sam Gabrielli throughout the week. Seriously, that man means a lot for he was the one willing to give me my start in the industry (on that side of the bar) save for one-off events.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

rum boogie

2 oz Trader Vic's Rum & Brandy [or equal parts Puerto Rican rum and brandy] (1/2 oz Vale d'Paul Agricole-style Rum + 1/2 oz Camus Vs Cognac)
1 oz Demerara 151 Proof Rum (1/2 oz Lemon Hart 151)
1 dash Curaçao (1/2 oz Van der Hum)
1 dash Herbsaint (1/2 barspoon)
3 oz Orange Juice (1 1/2 oz)
2 oz Lemon Juice (1 oz)
1 oz Pineapple Juice (1/2 oz)
1 dash Rock Candy Syrup (1/2 oz Simple Syrup 1:1)

Blend with 1 scoop of ice in an electric drink mixer and pour into a Tiki bowl (shake with ice, strain into a Tiki mug, and fill with crushed ice). Decorate with a gardenia (hibiscus and mint). Note: I halved the recipe.
Two Sundays ago after my last work shift before departing to Tales of the Cocktail, I kept the Tiki vibe going by reaching for Trader Vic's 1974 Rum Cookery & Drinkery. In another one of Trader Vic's books, I recently had spied a photo of the special vessel he used for his restaurants' Rum Boogie, and when I spotted the recipe that night, I decided to give it a go. Once prepared, it proffered a mint and floral aroma with hints of anise from the Herbsaint. Next, the sip was rather fruity from the orange, lemon, and pineapple juices with a touch of caramel from the Lemon Hart rum. Finally, the swallow began with funky rum and rich orange notes and ended with a lightly herbal finish. Indeed, the combination of orange juice and Herbsaint reminded me a bit of the Monkey Gland.

lost lake's fog cutter

1 oz Gin (Beefeater)
1 oz El Dorado 3 Year Rum
1 oz Cognac (Camus VS)
2 oz Lime Juice
1 oz Orgeat
1/2 oz Lustau East India Solera Sherry
1/2 oz Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao
1/2 oz Simple Syrup
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Blend in a drink mixer with 2 cups of ice or shake really hard to break ice cubes down, and pour into a Tiki mug (shake with ice, strain into a Tiki mug, and fill with crushed ice). Garnish with a tropical assortment (mint, flowers, paper parasol).

Two Saturdays ago, Imbibe Magazine offered up Lost Lake's Fog Cutter variation created by Paul McGee. This riff differed from the regular Fog Cutter by switching the lemon juice to lime juice and the orange juice to curaçao; moreover, the sherry was mixed in instead of floated on top. I was definitely game to try this since I enjoyed the change ups to the classic in the 1950s Viking Fog Cutter in addition to appreciating McGee's recipes in general.
The Lost Lake's Fog Cutter began with a mint and floral aroma that led into a creamy lime sip. Finally, the swallow shared juniper, orange, and nutty sherry and orgeat notes, but over all the drink was not very spirit flavor forward despite it packing a large alcohol punch in the end.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

monkey paw

2 oz Gin (Beefeater)
1 oz Orange Juice
1/4 oz Crème de Banana (Giffard)
1/4 oz Grenadine
1 dash Absinthe (1/2 barspoon Pernod Absinthe)

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

There was a Monkey Gland riff on the online menu at Barrel House in Beverly, but when I visited a short while ago, they had turned over the menu and removed the Monkey Paw. I was too distracted by their other offerings to request one, but I did manage to get the recipe for it. The tweak to the classic was adding banana liqueur to the mix whether in addition to the grenadine or by splitting the volume in half (depending on your source recipe). Giffard's Banane du Bresil can add a lot when mixed with herbal liqueurs like Campari in the Banana Boulevardier and Cardamaro in the Father's Advice to name but two, and I was curious to see how it would work with absinthe and if it could make the less-than-stellar Monkey Gland a winner.
The Monkey Paw reached the nose with a very tropical aroma of orange, banana, and anise. This prepared the mouth for the orange, banana, and berry sip that transitioned into a gin, banana, and absinthe swallow. Indeed, the banana liqueur gave an extra dimension and complexity to the drink without paying disrespect to the classic.

pata punch

1 oz Lemon Juice
2 oz Orange Juice
1 oz Pineapple Juice
1/2 oz Curaçao (Van der Hum)
1 oz Light Puerto Rican Rum (Don Q Cristal)
1 oz Dark Jamaican Rum (Smith & Cross)
1/4 oz Grenadine

Pour over cubes in a Mai Tai glass and stir (shake with ice, strain into a Tiki mug, and fill with crushed ice; garnish).
Two Thursdays ago, my post-work shift mood wanted something fruity and refreshing so I selected Trader Vic's 1972 Bartender's Guide for inspiration. There, the Pata Punch with three juices, two fruity syrups/liqueurs, and a pair of rums seemed to be the answer. Once assembled, the punch proffered mint and floral aromas. There were no surprises on the orange, lemon, and pineapple-filled sip, and the swallow likewise shared funky rum notes with a fruity finish.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

da nang

3/4 oz Tito's Vodka Plantation 3 Star Rum
3/4 oz St. Germain
3/4 oz Aperol
1/2 oz Passion Fruit Syrup
3/4 oz Lime Juice

Shake with ice, strain into a coupe glass, and garnish with a lime wheel-cherry flag.
Two Wednesdays ago, I ventured over to Tiger Mama for a drink where bartenders Schuyler Hunton and Sam Kontny were at the stick. There, I asked Schuyler if I could have the Da Nang with rum or gin instead of the vodka on the menu, and he gladly made it with his choice of Plantation white rum. On paper, the combination reminded me as a cross between the Dunniette and Don's Special Daiquiri given the combinations of elderflower, Aperol, and citrus and rum, passion fruit, and lime, respectively. Once prepared, it offered passion fruit and citrus aromas to the nose. Next lime with a vague fruitiness on the sip gave way to rum, orange, and floral notes on the swallow with a passion fruit finish.
After the Da Nang, I switched to a tasty hibiscus-tinged beer, Revolution Brewing Company's Rosa. In the midst of that glass, Nick Korn who was across the bar sent over a Cynar Colada! Nick was involved with Grupo Campari during Camp Runamok were our cabin's counselor, Steve Yamada, crafted the cabin's Cynar Colada. This one was Schuyler's creation using the more potent 70 proof Cynar as well a house orange-tinged coconut cream.
Tiger Mama's Cynar Colada
• 2 oz Cynar 70
• 1 oz House Coconut Cream
• 1 oz Pineapple Juice
• 1/2 oz Lime Juice
• 1/4 oz Orange Juice
Blend with ice, pour into a Tiki mug, and garnish with mint, orchid, and freshly grated nutmeg.
This Cynar Colada began with a nutmeg, floral, and mint bouquet. Next, a creamy coconut sip shifted to the swallow's combination of pineapple and Cynar's funky bitter.

la louche

1 1/2 oz Hendrick's Gin
1 oz Lillet Rouge (Bonal)
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/4 oz Yellow Chartreuse
1/4 oz Simple Syrup

Shake with ice and strain into a coupe glass.

Two Tuesdays ago, I began to flip through the PDT Cocktail Book for any passed over gems. The recipe that called out to me was Charlotte Voisey's La Louche that she created in 2007. While louche means "questionable, mischevious behaviour," I almost expected this drink to contain absinthe or pastis to get at the cocktail version of the word. Instead, the herbal elements were gin, Yellow Chartreuse, and a quinine-laden wine. Since I lacked both Lillet Rouge and what it was modeled after, namely Dubonnet, I opted for the Bonal that I have in my fridge (Bonal is technically a fortified grape must -- read about it here in the history of quinine beverages).
La Louche began with floral and lime notes presented to the nose. The lime continued on into the sip where it mingled with the Bonal's grape, and the swallow gave forth gin, rose, herbal, and bitter flavors with a quinine finish.

Monday, July 25, 2016


2 oz Tequila (Piedra Azul Blanco)
1 oz Pineapple Juice
1 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Passion Fruit Nectar (Passion Fruit Syrup)
1/2 oz Rock Candy Syrup (1/2 oz BG Reynolds Vanilla Syrup)
2 dash Vanilla (combined above)

Blend with 1 scoop of ice and pour into a 10 oz glass (Recipe was doubled, shaken with ice, strained into a 18 oz Tiki bowl, and topped with crushed ice). Decorate with a mint sprig.
Two Mondays ago, I turned to Trader Vic's 1972 Bartender's Guide for some refreshment to cut the summer night's heat. There, I spotted the tequila-based Ponche that seemed rather tropical. I ended up doubling the recipe in part to make use of the new vintage Tiki bowl that I had bought. Once built, the Ponche gave forth luscious mint and vanilla aromas. Next, lemon and hints of pineapple on the sip transitioned into tequila, passion fruit, and pineapple on the swallow with a vanilla finish. Overall, the drink reminded me of the tequila Hurricane variation I created last year for an event, the Hopping through the Frothy Waves, with additional pineapple and vanilla elements.

Sunday, July 24, 2016


2 oz Laird's Bonded Apple Brandy
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/4 oz Orgeat
1/4 oz Maple Syrup
2 dash Peychaud's Bitters

Shake with ice, strain into a coupe glass, and garnish with lemon oil from a twist.

Two weeks ago, my restaurant's early Sunday close provided me the opportunity to catch last call at Backbar on the walk home. For a drink, I asked bartender Carlo Caroscio for his drink of the day a few nights prior called the Jackalope. Carlo explained his riff on the Apple Jack Rabbit by describing how he utilized an orgeat-maple combination that he came up with in an Army & Navy riff back in Baltimore.
The Jackalope proffered an aroma filled with lemon, apple, and maple notes. Lemon with a richness from the maple on the sip transitioned into apple, earthy, maple, anise, and bitter elements on the swallow.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

menehune gonzalez

1 oz Blanco Tequila (Espolon)
1 oz Rhum Agricole (Depaz)
3/4 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Orgeat
1/4 oz Green Chartreuse
1/2 Egg White (1 Egg White)

Shake once without and once with ice, and strain into an ice-filled Old Fashioned glass (coupe, no ice). Garnish with 3-4 drops of hibiscus tincture (Bittermens Burlesque Bitters).

Two Saturdays ago, I was mentally preparing myself for Tales of the Cocktail, so I reached for the 2009 Tales' Stir Your Soul recipe book for inspiration. There, I spotted a drink created by Martin Cate that he presented at a spirited dinner at G.W. Fins with Beachbum Berry in 2009 a few months before Smuggler's Cove opened. With tequila in the split spirits base, I wondered if the Gonzalez part was a nod to Trader Vic's Pinky Gonzalez agave Mai Tai riff; indeed, the lime and orgeat supported that idea. Trader Vic's books also offer a bunch of recipes referring to the Menehune including the Menehune Juice which is essentially another Mai Tai riff using light Puerto Rican Rum. Here, Green Chartreuse and egg white take the Mai Tai concept in a different direction.
The Menehune Gonzalez gave forth mostly agave aromas with grassy and herbal undertones. Next, a creamy lime sip led into grassy, tequila, earthy, and herbal flavors on the swallow.

Friday, July 22, 2016

:: tips for bartenders on how to impress management ::

Recently, there was a thread on Reddit’s bartenders forum where a user inquired about “any tips on how to impress my manager behind the bar,” and I interpreted the manager as both general and bar. Moreover, I took the ideas from what I gathered as both a bartender and as someone running a bar program. I replied with a list of ten suggestions that was so well received on Reddit, that I posted a screen capture on my Twitter. That was successful with the likes of Erick Castro reposting it, that I decided to expand on them for the USBG National web page, and I am reposted an edited form of the article here (you need to be an USBG member to access the site). While some of the material was sourced from personal experiences and seminars I attended, many of it was actually written down a century ago in William Boothby’s Ten Commandments in his American Bar-Tender book.

1). Take initiative. Do things without being asked.
During a talk at Boston’s Thirst event, a story was related on a barback asking a bartender, “Why are you mad at me? I do everything you ask.” To which the bartender replied, “Because I shouldn’t have to ask.” Learning to anticipate, being on top of things, and putting out fires before they start will transmit a degree of mastery to any manager more than follow through on any series of simple requests will. Some jobs seem thankless like polishing the back bar’s bottles on a slow shift, but it will gain a lot more notice than being observed chatting with the servers at the pass or, worse, surfing on your phone.

2). Guest before ego. Hospitality first. Praise and feedback will hit the manager’s ear.
At my current restaurant, the owners’ described our role as being the guest’s advocate and finding out ways to make their night the best for them. Sometimes nothing will make a guest happier than a simple beer or vodka soda and not the latest sour-hoppy beer or recent craft cocktail creation. Some of my most recent vocal praise has come not from beer and cocktail drinkers but from abstainers who were so pleased that I took their mocktail requests with such respect and down to the seriousness that I took the garnish.

3). Complain less, offer fixes and improvements more.
This is something that I was horrible at when I first became a bartender and I annoyed my first bar manager to no end. Sometimes I was right in complaining, but many times my timing or tactics in approaching the matter were wrong. Complaining might feel cathartic but it will cloud your work persona with a bunch of negativity. Coming up with suggestions or solutions to issues will add value though. And it is important to remember that trying not to complain is not the absence of caring.

4). Take shifts, never call out. Consider being on time for a shift as 15+ minutes early. Use the time to read books about booze or hospitality; be available to chat or help out.
Boothby’s rule #1 was to be on time if not earlier to make sure that you have used the facilities and set up your station before the shift. I would take it even a step further and be available to help the previous shift, to aide the managers re-arranging the tables for an event, or to talk about the bar program and your days off. If not, read. Or at least be there and relaxing on your last opportunity to use your phone.  Not having your phone visible during your shift is actually a great way to impress your managers, and I did not even include it in the original list. And certainly Boothby was not prescient about such matters.

5). Don’t do anything shifty. Stay sober. Take responsibility and learn from your mistakes.
My first bar manager when I started to work for him listed a mere handful of rules, one of which was “do not steal from me.” Some establishments would consider drinking on the job theft, so the two are linked in my mind. Boothby eloquently had his rule #6 as “Sell all the liquor you can, but use as little as possible yourself.” Drinking on the job is obviously nothing new, but if you truly consider bartending not just a job but your occupation, keeping a level head is crucial. The manager on duty can always tell when the bartenders are “a little off” that night even if they do not report them. And even if drinking on the job is part of the bar’s accepted culture, many managers report how much more work they have to do when their staff is a bit inebriated (usually this is mentioned when the drinking instigators move on and the manager now has an easier job).

6). Keep the bar top, wells, bottles, the rest of the bar, and yourself clean. If you have time, clean. Spend out of work time on your hygiene and appearance without going too fancy that is.
About six of Boothby’s commandments regard cleanliness ranging from “See that your finger nails are always clean and your person presents a tidy appearance” to concerns regarding bar top, floor, glassware, and tool neatness. Keep in mind that our business is to deliver food and drink that is going into our guests’ bodies, and their first view of the establishment’s cleanliness and care will be your bar and your person.

7). Don’t push an agenda over a guest's desire of a product you sell or can mix up. Managers hear more about unhappy guests than the contented ones.
One of the Redditors commented “On 7 - a rule of thumb is you hear from 10 times as many unhappy guests as happy ones. It even seems conservative based on how quick people are to complain now.” Whether or not they speak to the manager, many guests will speak to the Internet on Yelp or other social media outlets to describe a minor slight more frequently than they will a minor good deed; on the flipside, it often takes a lot of hospitality and luck to be name-dropped for good service.

8). Respect your co-workers behind the bar. Respect the host, servers, cooks, and the dishwasher (especially the dishwasher). Don't be a dick. These are your family that will have your back if you treat them right and stab you in the back if you treat them wrong.
At Gaz Regan’s Cocktails in the Country, he teaches 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. Of course, I can just hark back to my first bar manager who summed it up with “Don’t be an asshole!” after hearing about a tiff I had with a server over ticket time when I was weeded. He was pleased when he had heard that I had apologized when things slowed down, but he made me think about getting to that point in the first place.

9). Mentor the barback with kindness. Remember that one day they may be your peer. It allows the bar manager more freedom to get other things done including mentoring you.
Since I got my start as a barback and I vividly remember how well some bartenders treated me in addition to how horribly others did, I developed a sensitivity to developing proto-bartenders with kindness and teaching them the ropes. It always gave me a joy to hear the two barbacks on the weekend shifts arguing over who would work at my bar. But the most meaningful moment was working a New Year’s Eve at the upstairs bar with a bartender who I had a great relationship from his barback days. We had both each other’s back and respect in ways that I have to attribute to my time spent with him months before. He was not the once-barback now junior bartender, but my teammate and friend.

10). Represent your establishment wherever you go. Act appropriately. News travels.
As I described in my Tips for Tales of the Cocktail article, act like your potential future employers, employees, and guests are watching. Similarly, you represent your current establishment everywhere you go, so act with dignity and try not to do or say anything negative or hurtful. Remember, you are a public figure. Treat others with kindness, for how you behave shows a window not only into your soul, but it projects the sense of hospitality one can expect in your bar or restaurant.

muddled mission

1 1/2 oz Anchor Junipero Gin (Beefeater)
1 oz St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
1/4 oz Yellow Chartreuse
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1 Strawberry

Muddle strawberry, add rest of ingredients and ice, shake, and double strain into a coupe. Garnish with an additional strawberry.
Two Fridays ago, I wanted to make use of the strawberries in my refrigerator, so I turned to the Death & Co. Cocktail Book where I had spotted a few recipes in the past. The one that called out to me was Joaquin Simo's 2008 Muddled Mission. Once prepped, the drink offered strawberry, pine, and floral notes to the nose. Lemon with berry on the sip gave way to gin, herbal, pear, and floral flavors on the swallow with a strawberry finish.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

philippine punch

2 oz Orange Juice
1 oz Lemon Juice
1 dash Grenadine (1/4 oz)
1/2 oz Passion Fruit Nectar (Goya)
1/2 oz Amer Picon (Torani Amer)
1 1/2 oz White Puerto Rican Rum (1 oz Don Q Cristal + 1/2 oz Cuca Fresca Cachaça)

Blend with a scoop of crushed ice, pour into a 12 oz glass, and decorate with mint or sliced fruit (shake with ice, strain into a Tiki mug, fill with crushed ice, and garnish with mint, flowers, and citrus snake).

Two Thursdays ago, I turned to Trader Vic's 1972 Bartender's Guide for inspiration. There, I spotted a Tiki number called the Philippine Punch that included Amer Picon. Vic semi-frequently included Amer Picon in drinks like the Jayco and the Kahala Cooler along with grenadine -- a pairing that I first became aware of in the classic Picon Punch. Nowadays, amer/amaro in Tiki drinks like the Bitter MaiTai and the Riviera di Ponente are not uncommon, but these recipes date back over 40 years.
The Phillipine Punch presented a mint, floral, and lemon bouquet to the senses. On the palate, the sip was rather fruity with lemon, orange, and pomegranate notes, and the swallow gave forth grassy rum, passion fruit, and bitter orange flavors.

lagunas get away

2 oz Peloton de la Muerte Mezcal
1 oz Passion Fruit Syrup
1/4 oz Lemon Juice
1 Egg White

Shake once without and once with ice, strain into a snifter, and top with ice.
For a last drink at Barrel House in Beverly, I requested the Lagunas Get Away that read like a mezcal Hurricane with egg white to round off the Sour. I had tinkered with agave Hurricanes with my tequila-based Hopping Through the Frothy Waves by adding blanc vermouth to the mix with good effect, so I was curious as to how egg could effect things. In the glass, the Lagunas Get Away shared a passion fruit and mezcal nose. Next, a creamy lemon sip gave way to agave and passion fruit on the swallow with a smoky finish.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

a lesser man

1 1/2 oz Peloton de la Muerte Mezcal
3/4 oz Grapefruit Juice
1/2 oz Yellow Chartreuse
1/2 oz Falernum

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
Two Wednesdays ago, I took the commuter rail up to Beverly to have dinner at Barrel House. For a first cocktail, I asked bartender John Wierszchalek for A Lesser Man. John explained that they created the recipe for a regular, Michael Lesser, who loves mezcal drinks. Once shaken and strained, the drink presented an agave and herbal aroma. Next, grapefruit mingled with honey on the sip, and the swallow began with agave and herbal notes and ended with smoke and clove ones. Overall, the grapefruit lent a soft balance to the combination instead of the typical lemon/lime crispness of most shaken drinks.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

bitter nail

1 1/2 oz Great King Street Scotch
1/2 oz Drambuie
1/2 oz Cynar
1/2 oz Campari

Stir with ice and strain into a rocks glass filled with ice.

Two Tuesdays ago, we ventured over to Ames Street for a drink. I requested the Bitter Nail that was described on the menu as a "riff on the classic Rusty," and bartender Sam Cronin described how it was created by Iruma Shibuya before he left to bartend in Japan. In the glass, the Bitter Nail presented a smoky Scotch aroma with a hint of Campari. Honey on the sip was joined by Cynar's caramel and the whisky's malt, and the swallow offered smoky Scotch with a lingering bitter finish. Overall, I was impressed at how well the Cynar bridged the gap between the Scotch and the Campari perhaps by smoothing over the Campari as it did in the Negroni Tredici. This combination was also very similar to Maksym Pazuniak's Barefoot in the Dark with Swedish punsch in place of the Bitter Nail's Drambuie.
Little did I know that the Ames Street would close a mere week after having this drink; last Tuesday, a friend posted on her Instagram a photo of a sign on Ames Street's door that it was closed until further notice, and the following day Boston Magazine announced the closure. So may we all raise a glass -- in one aspect, it is a bitter nail to chew on, but on the other side of things, let us toast all of the interesting ways Ames Street approached menu layout and design (see the cocktail matrix above) as well as drink creation. Cheers!

esplanade mezcal swizzle

1 oz Mezcal (Montelobos)
1 oz Amontillado Sherry (Lustau)
3/4 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Falernum (Velvet)
1/2 oz Ginger Syrup (Barrow's Intense Ginger Liqueur)

Build in a Collins glass, fill with crushed ice, and swizzle to mix and chill. Garnish with a mint sprig.
For a second Fourth of July libation, I turned to the new issue of Imbibe Magazine to a recipe-laden article on falernum. The winner of the bunch was a Swizzle created by Danny Shapiro at Chicago's Sink/Swim called the Esplanade Mezcal Swizzle. In my mind, Swizzles and falernum are an obvious pairing for both were created in the Caribbean. Once prepared, the Swizzle gave forth mint and lime notes to the nose. Next, the sip's lime and grape were followed by smoky mezcal, nutty sherry, ginger, and clove elements on the swallow.

Monday, July 18, 2016


3 oz Pineapple Juice
1 oz Lemon Juice
1/4 - 1/2 oz Demerara Syrup (1/4 oz)
1 oz Ginger Syrup (Barrow's Intense Ginger Liqueur)
1/2 oz St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram
1 oz Black Blended Rum (Coruba)
1 oz Blended Lightly Aged Rum (Denizen Aged White)

Blend with 12 oz crushed ice and pour into a hollowed-out pineapple (shake with ice, strain into a Tiki mug, and fill with crushed ice). Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.
For the Fourth of July, I celebrated by beginning the evening with the Piñata by Marco Dionysos via the Smuggler's Cove cocktail book. Once built, the Piñata offered a woody and minty spice nose. Next, lemon with hints of pineapple on the sip gave way to funky rum and ginger on the swallow with an allspice and pineapple finish.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

rum barrel

3/4 oz Lime Juice
3/4 oz Orange Juice
3/4 oz Pineapple Juice
3/4 oz Passion Fruit Purée or Juice (Goya Nectar)
3/4 oz Simple Syrup
1 oz Amber 151 Proof Rum (Don Q)
1 oz Dark Jamaican Rum (Coruba)

Shake with ice and pour into a ceramic barrel mug.
Two Sunday nights ago after my work shift, I decided to treat myself to something new from Beachbum Berry's Remixed. The Rum Barrel from the Port O'Call in Tucson circa the 1960s seemed like a pleasant four fruit mix balanced by an over proof and a funky rum in the style of Planter's Punch. In the mug, the Rum Barrel broadcasted a mint and floral bouquet to the nose. Next, caramel from the rum mingled with tropical flavors, mostly from the pineapple and passion fruit, on the sip; finally, the swallow was all about the rums including the Jamaican's distinctive ester notes.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

zamboanga punch

1 1/2 oz Dark Jamaican Rum (Coruba)
1/2 oz Light Puerto Rican Rum (Caliche)
Juice 1 Lime (1/2 oz)
1/2 oz Passion Fruit Nectar (Goya)
1 dash Grenadine (1/2 oz)
3 dash Angostura Bitters

Blend with 1/2 scoop of ice and pour into a bamboo cup. Top with ice and decorate with mint and a fruit stick.
Two Saturdays ago, I was flipping through Trader Vic's 1974 Rum Cookery & Drinkery book and spotted the Zamboanga Punch. The Punch was not a riff on the Zamboanga Cocktail from Charles H. Baker Jr.'s The Gentleman's Companion but instead was a Trader Vic original. Once mixed, the Zamboanga Punch shared a mint and floral aroma that led into a fruity sip filled with lime, berry, and caramel flavors. Finally, the swallow rounded off the drink with funky rum and passion fruit notes being muted by dark spice.

Friday, July 15, 2016

jesper lind

1 1/2 oz Beefeater Gin
3/4 oz Lustau East India Solera Sherry
1/2 oz Linie Aquavit (Krogstad)
1 tsp Vanilla Syrup (1/4 oz BG Reynolds)
1 dash Orange Bitters (Regan's)

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

After the Haitian Zombie and dinner, I was in the mood for something drier and more classic cocktail in feel. Therefore, I reached for the Death & Co. Cocktail Book where I found Brian Miller's 2009 Jesper Lind. The name reminded me instantly of the Vesper named after Casino Royale's Vesper Lind character. The Vesper, as I describe in that post link, is a drink that I have a hard time wrapping my head around since it is gin diluted with a touch of vodka all flavored with a small amount of whatever Kina Lillet-like product we can source up. Few people would order gin and Lillet or vodka and Lillet, but the trio is pure literary/cinematic fetish! Luckily, the Jesper Lind took the drink in a very different and more flavorful direction.
The Jesper Lind gave forth a botanical aroma laden with caraway, anise, and junipery pine notes. Next, the grape sip led into gin and aquavit's herbal notes smoothed out by the vanilla syrup; finally, the aquavit's caraway returned on the finish. Indeed, sherry, aquavit, vanilla, and bitters proved to be a lot more interesting than vodka and a splash of Lillet.

haitian zombie

1 1/2 oz Barbancourt 8 Year Rum
1 1/2 oz Pierre Ferrand Ambre Cognac (Camus VS)
1 1/2 oz Nutmeg-spiced Coconut Cream (*)
1/4 oz Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
3 dash Angostura Bitters

Shake with ice and strain into a coconut shell or Tiki mug (coconut mug). Fill with crushed ice and garnish with nutmeg.
(*) Coco Lopez and grated nutmeg briefly heated in a microwave and allowed to sit for a few minutes. Book offers the bar's larger scale recipe.

Two Fridays ago, I went out and purchased a bottle of Barbancourt 5 Star Rum for there were a bunch of recipes that called for it. The first to try out was Joseph Swifka's Haitian Zombie that he served at Hollywood's La Descarga in 2009. David Mongomery's The Zombie Horde described how Swifka based his recipe off of Charles H. Baker Jr.'s Zombie Cap Haitien from Jigger, Beaker, & Glass with some modifications including more spice and less Maraschino and not off of the classic 1934 Zombie or its derivatives.
The Haitian Zombie began with a nutmeg aroma that led into a creamy coconut sip. Next, rum, brandy, nutty Maraschino, and nutmeg spice came together on the swallow. Overall, the drink's feel reminded me of a differently flavored Trinidad Punch given the rum, coconut, and spice.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

the cobra effect

1 oz Jamaican Black Rum (Coruba)
1 oz Aged Rhum Agricole (Depaz)
3/4 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Falernum (Velvet)
1/2 oz Sloe Gin (Atxa Patxaran)

Shake or blend (shake) with crushed ice and pour into a Tiki mug. Fill with crushed ice and garnish creatively with carved citrus or mint sprigs.

Two Thursday ago, the new issue of Imbibe Magazine arrived on my doorstep and I immediately found a recipe in a falernum article that I wanted to make. The Cobra Effect was created by Owen Thomson of Archipelago in Washington, DC, and the name reminded me of the Cobra which it barely has a resemblance to (although the later Cobra's Fang did contain a 1/4 oz of falernum in the mix). Instead, some of the ingredients made me think of the classic Shark's Tooth given the sloe gin, and perhaps Misty Kalkofen's Pua Lani and definitely my Tempestade given the sloe gin and falernum.
The Cobra Effect gave forth a floral and mint aroma. On the palate, lime and dark berry notes on the sip led into funky and grassy rums, berry, and clove elements on the swallow.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

santiago julep

4 oz Bacardi Rum (1 1/2 oz Don Q Cristal + 1 1/2 oz El Dorado 5 Year)
2 tbsp Pineapple Juice (1 oz)
Juice 1 Lime (1/2 oz)
2 tsp Grenadine (1/2 oz)
Sprigs of Mint (8 Leaf)

Muddle mint (in grenadine) in a 12 oz glass (Julep cup). Add rest of ingredients and crushed ice, and garnish with mint sprigs.
For Wednesday night's libation two weeks ago, I reached for Trader Vic's 1947 Bartender's Guide and spotted a curious Julep that I had never made before called the Santiago Julep. The name reminded me of the Daisy de Santiago but in the end, it tasted more like a peach-less Missionary's Downfall. Once prepared, the mint bouquet worked wonders on the nose. On the sip, lime mingled with the pomegranate notes, and the swallow was the pleasant combination of rum, pineapple, and mint flavors.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

song of solomon

1 1/2 oz Overproof Rye (Sazerac)
1/2 oz Dry Vermouth (Noilly Prat)
1/2 oz Maraschino Liqueur (Luxardo)
1/2 oz Cynar
2 dash Celery Bitters
2 drop Salt Tincture (1 pinch Salt)

Stir with ice and strain into a coupe glass.

Two Tuesdays ago, I revisited a Wall Street Journal article about salt in cocktails and decided upon the Song of Solomon by Dave Kupchinsky of Eveleigh in West Hollywood. The drink came across like a Fourth Regiment given the celery bitters crossed with a Bensonhurst. Moreover, I have enjoyed how salt modulates Cynar into something herbal but not funky such as in the Deep Six.
The Song of Solomon shared a Maraschino nose with hints of rye. Next, malt and cherry on the sip gave way to rye, cherry, and vegetal but not bitter Cynar. Perhaps with the salt dampening the amaro, the Maraschino was a bit too dominant here relative to the Cynar.

Monday, July 11, 2016

dreadlock holiday

1 1/2 oz Jamaican Rum
1/2 oz Clement Creole Shrubb Orange Liqueur
1/2 oz Cinnamon Syrup
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Shake with ice and strain into a rocks glass. Top with ice and garnish with an orange slice.
Two Mondays ago before the Espolón Cocktail Wars began, Andrea and I stopped into Green Street where bartenders Anne Warnock and Tommy Schlesinger-Guidelli were at the stick. For a drink, I asked Anne for the Dreadlock Holiday on the small menu that appeared as a counter to the Cuban Anole's variation on the Mai Tai by swapping the other sweetener for cinnamon syrup (besides the citrus change here). Once built, it offered orange and rum aromas that led into a citrussy sip. Finally, the swallow shared rum, orange, and cinnamon spice flavors.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

tiki puka puka

1 oz Light Puerto Rican Rum (Don Q Cristal)
1 oz Dark Jamaican Rum (Coruba)
1 oz Demerara 151 Proof Rum (Lemon Hart 151)
1 oz Orange Juice
3 oz Trader Vic Navy Grog Mix (1 oz each lime juice, grapefruit juice, and allspice dram)
1 dash Grenadine (1/2 oz)

Blend with 1 scoop of ice (shake with ice, strain, and fill with crushed ice). Decorate with a gardenia and dash the flower with orange blossom water.

Two Sundays ago, I began to flip through Trader Vic's 1974 Rum Cookery & Drinkery for ideas. The Tiki Puka Puka caught my attention, and I double checked that this recipe was unique from the Tiki-Ti's 1961 Puka Punch. Luckily, the recipe's mysterious "Trader Vic Navy Grog Mix" was described by Jeff Berry in the Voodoo Grog as equal parts lime, grapefruit, and allspice dram via a tip in a 1972 Trader Vic's book.
The orange blossom water dropped onto the floral bouquet contributed greatly to the drink's nose along with the mint that I also garnished with. Next, the sip was caramel from the rums and rather tropical from the citrus and pomegranate mix, and later orange blossom water began to enter the flavor profile. Finally, the swallow was a classic medley of rums and allspice.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

cooper union

2 oz Redbreast Irish Whiskey (Teeling's Small Batch)
1/2 oz St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
1 dash Orange Bitters (Regan's)

Stir with ice, strain into a Double Old Fashioned glass pre-rinsed with Laphroaig 10 Year Scotch, and garnish with lemon oil.

Two Saturdays ago, I was in the mood for a nightcap so I turned to the Death & Co. Cocktail Book. In the Sazerac section was a variation crafted by Phil Ward in 2008 called the Cooper Union that accented the whiskey with floral and smoke notes. The structure seemed to fit my evening's desire, and having a drink named after my father's alma mater did not hurt.
The Cooper Union shared a lemon and peaty nose and led into a malt- and pear-flavored sip. The swallow showcased the Irish whiskey along with floral and smoke notes.

Friday, July 8, 2016

kava bowl

4 oz Lemon Juice (2 oz)
2 oz Pineapple Juice (1 oz)
1 oz Grenadine (1/2 oz)
1 oz Orgeat (1/2 oz)
1 oz Rhum Barbancourt (1/2 oz Vale d'Paul Agricole-style Rum)
6 oz Light Puerto Rican Rum (3 oz Caliche)

Blend 30 seconds with 18 oz crushed ice and pour into a Tiki bowl (shake with ice and strain into a Tiki mug). Fill with crushed ice and garnish with a gardenia (ornamental pea blossoms, mint, and a long lemon twist).
After my work shift two Friday's ago, I was still in a Tiki-ish mood and began searching Beachbum Berry's Remixed. There, I stopped on Trader Vic's Kava Bowl that he created sometime during the 1940s. In the mug, the Kava Bowl released mint and floral aromas. On the palate, lemon, pomegranate, and pineapple's tropical notes danced on the tongue during the sip. Finally, the swallow brought funky rum, earthy orgeat, and tart pineapple flavors.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

endless summer

1 oz City of London Gin (Beefeater)
3/4 oz Campari
3/4 oz Dolin Sweet Vermouth (Tempus Fugit's Alessio)
1 oz Pineapple Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a Collins glass with ice.
Two Thursdays ago, I was lured into a recipe from a Punch article about new tropical drinks. That drink was the Endless Summer, Yanni Kohagiaras' "Negroni on Vacation" at San Francisco's Liholiho Yacht Club. Once built, the pineapple juice addition to the Negroni formula offered much of the aroma. Next, the vermouth's grape filled the sip, and the swallow was a combination of the gin and the Campari's bitter blending into the pineapple notes.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

top notch volcano

4 oz Lime Juice (2 oz)
4 oz Pineapple Juice (2 oz)
1 oz Passion Fruit Purée (2 oz Passion Fruit Syrup)
3 oz Demerara Syrup (none, combined with purée above)
1 oz Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur (1/2 oz)
4 oz Blended Lightly Aged Rum (2 oz Denizen Aged White)
4 oz Blended Aged Rum (2 oz Diplomatico Exclusiva)

Blend with 12 oz crushed ice and pour into a Scorpion bowl (shake with ice, strain, and top with crushed ice). Serve with fire (El Dorado 151 Proof Rum in a spent half lime shell).
Two Wednesdays, I was drawn back to Martin Cate's Smuggler's Cove book and decided upon the Top Notch Volcano. The name was a tribute to the interior designer of the San Francisco Tiki hideaway, Ignacio "Notch" Gonzalez, and the recipe is a bit distinct from the classic 1970s Volcano Bowl by Don the Beachcomber. Once prepared, the bowl presented a mint, lime, and passion fruit bouquet to the nose. Next, rum's caramel, lime, and pineapple notes on the sip were followed by rum, Maraschino, and passion fruit flavors on the swallow.

m.n. roy

1 1/2 oz Milagro Blanco Tequila
1/2 oz Campari
1/2 oz Passion Fruit Syrup
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/4 oz St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail coupe.

For a second drink at Estragon, I asked bartender Sahil Mehta for the drink of the day that later got named M.N. Roy. Sahil latched onto the Mexican spirit as well as the Communist red color of the drink, and uncovered Manabendra Nath Roy -- an Indian revolutionary who was a founder of the Mexican Communist Party. The M.N. Roy recipe followed the structure of the Novara with the addition of allspice dram as a counter balance to all of the bright flavors.
The M.N. Roy presented an agave and Campari orange aroma. Next, lime and a peachy note on the sip led into tequila, fruity flavors, and allspice on the swallow.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

elvis & the mexican ghost

1 oz Milagro Blanco Tequila
3/4 oz Giffard Banane du Bresil
1/2 oz Ancho Reyes Chile Liqueur
3/4 oz Lime Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a coupe glass.
Two Tuesdays ago, Andrea and I ventured down to the South End to pay bartender Sahil Mehta a visit at Estragon. For a first drink, I requested the Elvis and the Mexican Ghost that was on his Sunday night Bar Go-Go menu. Once prepared, it gifted agave notes on some sniffs and banana ones on others. Next, lime and a vaguely tropical sip led into tequila, banana, and slightly spicy pepper flavors on the swallow.

Monday, July 4, 2016

:: top cocktail posts of the blog over the last 9 years ::

Nothing is more American beverage-wise than the cocktail. And what better way to celebrate the 4th of July than being retrospective on my nation of drinks data.

While looking over the analytics that Blogger provides, I realized that there was a discrepancy between what they reported as the top posts and what the raw data is. Therefore, I searched through the 34 pages of 100 drinks per page to find out what had the top number of clicks; I weeded out non-cocktail recipe posts and also drew an arbitrary line that yielded 26 posts. This data of course is just clicks from search engines or page links and not actual reads such as through the blog front page (or successive pages after that) or through RSS feeds. Without further ado, here the top ones:

26. The Means of Preservation is John Gertsen's riff on Teardrop Lounge's Ephemeral which elegantly put St. Germain into a stirred Martini format avec celery bitters. It still gets made enough at Drink to be referred to as merely the "MOP."
25. Tommy Noble was created at the B-Side Lounge by Dave Cagle before it spread to other bars with its gin, Pimm's, citrus, and Peychaud's simplicity. Named after a journeyman boxer from the early 1900s, my publishing the recipe was the first time Dave Cagle was in print (so he claimed when he saw an early proof of the Drink & Tell book). I asked Dave if he had a great interest in boxing history, and he replied that it was named after a line from a talking lizard video (Drinking from Cups) that they were watching and making reference to at the time circa 2006.
24. The Silent Order is No. 9 Park/Drink's Ben Sandrof's Chartreuse, citrus, and basil wonder that was intriguingly softened by including water as a jiggered ingredient to tame the 110 proof spirit.
23. Teresa is an incredibly quirky yet well-balanced drink by home bartender Rafael Ballesteros that Gary Regan chose to highlight in his The Joy of Mixology book.
22. The Paper Plane is one of three drinks by Manhattan legend Sam Ross to make this list. This drink balances bourbon and lemon with two amari in an elegant equal parts number.
21. The Knickebein is a bizarre layered drink with an unbroken egg yolk floating on top of the liqueur layer made even more bizarre by the 4 step protocol laid out by Leo Engel in 1878. I later modernized and reformulated the ingredients, and my enthusiasm for the drink scored me the honors to do the write-up for the forthcoming Oxford Companion to Spirits and Cocktails book.
20. Gregor de Gruyther's Nuclear Daiquiri was his most famous contribution to the cocktail world before his early demise. His upped the ante to the classic Daiquiri by specifying the rum as overproof and funky Wray & Nephew and switching the sweetener to Chartreuse and falernum; it later inspired me to morph the mix into a Mai Tai called the Bikini Atoll.
19. The Pink Squirrel? In the post, I made this creamy dessert from a powdered mix found in my parents' 1970s bar collection as well as with a homemade peach kernel ratafia. I need to revisit the Alexander-like recipe using Tempus Fugit's excellent crème de noyau.
18. Drink's Hibiscus White Rum Milk Punch based off of Jerry Thomas' 1862 California Milk Punch was one of the recipes that kickstarted the Boston phenomenon of offering clarified milk punches.
17. Eric Alperin's Chet Baker by way of Greg Rossi when he was trying to start up a program at Dalí is indeed a delightful Rum Manhattan.
16. Sam Ross's second drink, the Sunflower is a Corpse Reviver #2 riff with the Lillet swapped for elderflower! Works great for a regular of mine with bourbon, too.
15. Naked & Famous by Joaquin Simo while at Death & Co. is a mezcal drink that frequently gets recommended by a server at work (along with the Division Bell) for lovers of smoky agave drinks.
14. The Sinatra Smash by Las Vegas' Patricia Richards came to me by way of LUPEC Boston's blog after some of the members did an event with her. Whiskey, berries, and vanilla flavors surely do make for a winning combination!
13. The Swamp Water Fix was Ted Kilpatrick's way of updating the cult 1970s Chartreuse club hit, the Swamp Water, into something higher while at No. 9 Park.
12. Sam Ross' third drink is the tasty medicine called the Penicillin given the curing qualities of Scotch, ginger, and honey.
11. Pok Pok's Tamarind Whiskey Sour re-inforced how well tamarind's acid complements citrus drinks!
10. The Moroccan Old Fashioned is an excellent drink I had in Nashua, NH. It was created by now famous Boston bartender Sean Frederick just as he was getting his start behind the stick! The Berber syrup recipe he provided might be part of the post's draw.
9. The Cradle of Life created for PKNY's opening menu is not only a popular post but it contains the most pilfered photo I have ever taken (and launched countless successful DMCA takedown requests). Fire!
8. The Bohemian is one of the many examples of why Misty Kalkofen is the grand wizard of St. Germain drink creation. Gin, grapefruit, elderflower, and bitters proved to be a neo-classic.
7. My favorite Manhattan variations right after the Brooklyn is the Green Point (but with the bitters added, see comment at end of post) with Yellow not Green Chartreuse. Perhaps the Little Italy has been gaining ground lately too.
6. Dirt 'n' Diesel from Tavern Law in Seattle comes across like a deliciously dark and amaro-laden Corn 'n' Oil.
5. Ryan Lotz's Black Cadillac is a Flip that he concocted at Lineage. In addition to the whole egg, the robust flavors of Laphroaig, Smith & Cross, and stout beer make for an amazing nightcap!
4. The Shanghai Sling is a Chinese 5-spiced syrup variation of a Singapore Sling that I created back in 2009. Really intriguing that out of the 186 drinks marked "original" in the tags, this is the one that appears in the top 26...
3. Technically the above statement isn't fully true. The collection of 4 beer cocktails I did for Matt Rowley's "Hard Drinks for Hard Times"-themed Mixology Monday using Heineken Light left by a guest at one of our parties (here as a sub for sparkling wine) has some variations that I crafted.
2. Drink's 1919 paying tribute to the Great Molasses Flood that preceded Prohibition is one of the two year-named drinks. A split based rum and rye Manhattan or perhaps Vieux Carré/De La Louisiane is another Boston neo-classic.
1. The number one most clicked on post is another year based one that pays tribute to the Whiskey Rebellion, the 1794. Swapping a Boulevardier's Bourbon for rye and adding molé bitters for the win!

Overall, there is a great skew towards recipes posted between 2009 and 2012 where 23 of the 26 fall. 2009 was the only one post higher than 2011. Cheers!