Saturday, December 31, 2016

:: fred's top 10 cocktail moments of 2016 ::

In 2010, I was asked what my favorite drink that year was and I decided not only to start a list of my favorite drinks I had out on the town and in at the home bar, but I decided to list the top moments of the previous 12 months. So to continue with the tradition, here is the 7th installment:

1. Still bartending.
Nearly 4 years after my first night as a professional bartender, I am still following this career path. March 2017 will make two years at Loyal Nine where I have been the lead bartender since July 2015. There is not too much new to say, but I included this aspect in the previous 3 years of roundups, so why not once again? I am still keeping on focusing on providing good guest experiences as well as creating new recipes that I'll mention later down below.

2. Expanded my voice.
This year saw me teaching my first class (actually two that night) at the Boston Center for the Arts in May on the Margarita and tequila in general based on my travels to Mexico (see 3rd photo below). Moreover, I started writing a monthly column for the USBG national site as well as hopefully the first of many articles for Edible Boston starting with this one on Turkey Shore Distillery's Old Ipswich Rum. Finally, I was also asked to host Reddit's /r/cocktails' first Ask Me Anything in November.
3. Participated in Events.
Perhaps one of the biggest bartending honors for me was having Loyal Nine being one of the 12 bars involved in Cocktail Magic, besides the 3 traveling bars, we were one of the 9 bars chosen from Boston. For Boston Thirst this year, I was also selected to head up a Blender Bender team where our sponsor was Angostura. We made good use of their portfolio with including their amaro, rum, and bitters in our drink, and we contributed to a great deal of brainfreeze that night (see photo above). Early in the year, I was a guest bartender for Wink & Nod's Tiki Monday nights bringing four of my recipes from different parts of my drink creating eras to the masses. And I am still the lead cat herder for Mixology Monday which just did its 114th online cocktail party of sorts.

4. Traveled.
I started my year off with being chosen for an USBG-sponsored trip to Mexico to tour the Patron distillery and experience a taste of Guadalajara. It was a bit of a whirlwind trip for I left to the airport after closing the bar on a Sunday night, flew out early Monday morning and returned Wednesday evening. I should say luckily returned since the airline wanted to send me to Houston since there was no plane to send me to Dallas (which would get me to Boston). I opted to wait for a plane to Dallas in hopes of making it home to open the bar on Thursday. Everything came through with about 30 minutes to spare, but I did miss my chance to visit bars in Dallas and Houston! I also went down to New Orleans for my 5th Tales of the Cocktail. I wrote up my best moments from that trip after attending 12 seminars, a bunch of parties, and a handful of bars. See the rest of the shenanigans and talk notes here. Soon, I will be traveling again in about two weeks to Louisville as I was selected to be a steward for the American Craft Spirits Association competition!
5. Got press!
 I got interviewed for the U.S. Bartender Guild site thanks to my column writing and other participation there, and Doug Winship wrote up my role in blogging as a means to show how Tiki has come to a forefront. My interest in low proof cocktails got me press in both WGBH and Boston Magazine. My Hot Buttered Malört got some talk in Chicago, and our menu's Blood of the Kapu Tiki (neo-classic Tiki recipe crafted by Bosko) found me running off to photoshoots for the Improper Bostonian and Boston Magazine. I was included in Server Not Servant's 64 Suggestions for Bartenders advice post, and my thoughts on seasonal drinking were included in Boston Common for summer and Tales of the Cocktail for fall. Finally, my Tainted Love recipe was Del Maguey Mezcal's drink of November.

6. Appeared in books.
My hangover cure made it into Lou Bustamante's Complete Cocktail Manual; sadly, I missed the call to get other recipes in there. My Colleen Bawn Knickebein got printed in Gaz Regan's 101 Cocktails of 2016; I actually submitted that recipe for his call for poussé-cafe recipes, but since I was the only one who responded, he slid my entry towards that book. While I mentioned it last year, I finally got to read the part about my Fireball Fizz in Matt Rowley's Lost Recipes of Prohibition. I believe that my contribution to the Oxford Companion to Cocktail and Spirits should be out in 2017.
7. Visited new bars.
While I enjoyed staying in my comfort zone of familiar haunts and bartenders, there were a lot of new places to check out (some of which had familiar bartenders as well). Here it Boston, I got to welcome to the city Sichuan Garden II's Baldwin & Sons Trading Co. (their second bar in the same building), Bar Mezzana, The Automatic, and Area Four Ink Block; I also made my first visits to Mooo and Short & Main (Gloucester). In New Orleans, I got to try out the pisco bar at the new Catahoula Hotel as well as being shown the legendary dive bar The Dungeon.

8. Created some drinks.
It was a decently prolific year with 33 posts about new drinks and many others that never made the blog. If I were to narrow it down, here are my 5 favorites from this year:
Dakkar Grotto, a funky and grassy Daiquiri riff.
Mount Pelée, an agricole and apricot number inspired by Martin Cate and John Gertsen.
Intercept, my cross between a Slope and a Boulevardier that someone on Instagram declared had a "legacy drink feel."
Hey Heywood!, inspired by the Hoop La also know in the Savoy Cocktail Book as the Hey Hey!
Town Crier, my tribute to a neighborhood local. A drink influenced by New Orleans recipes and served at Cocktail Magic this year.
9. I read a lot.
I finished 27 books this year that included books on whiskey, rum, agave, Genever, vermouth, beer, Japanese bartending, cocktail history, distilling history, food flavor history and theory, booze science, bartending advice, Tiki, Prohibition, the Manhattan, and other topics. My reading schedule for next year might be slowed down now that a lot of my free time is being spent writing, but hopefully I will rebound with a vengeance once that project is over with. If I were to narrow the books to a few:
• Robert Simonson's A Proper Drink
• Martin & Rebecca Cate's Smuggler's Cove
• Barbara Stuckey's Taste What You're Missing
• Matt Rowley's Lost Recipes of Prohibition
• Brian Hoefling's Distilled Knowledge

10. Random thoughts.
In June, I hit a milestone of 8 years of blogging (10 years of cocktail writing in July) and I am finishing up the year with about 470 posts for 2017. My Instagram efforts are still going strong with nearly 3000 followers. And there is consideration of a second book to tie together the last 4 1/2 or 5 years since the first book came out. We'll see what 2017 brings!

merciless virgin

3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Seltzer
1/2 oz Cherry Heering
1/2 oz Velvet Falernum
1/4 oz Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao
1 1/2 oz Blended Lightly Aged Rum (Diplomatico Añejo)

Flash blend with 12 oz crushed ice and pour into a footed Pilsner glass (shake all but the soda water with ice, strain into a Tiki mug with the soda water). Garnish with cherries on a pick (cherry-lemon peel flag).

After my bar shift two Saturdays ago, I reached for the Smuggler's Cove book and happened upon the Merciless Virgin. The recipe was Smuggler Cove's adaptation of Frank "Skipper" Kent's drink at Skipper Kent's in San Francisco. The only exposure that I have had to Kent's recipes is his Planter's Punch from Remixed, and the name alone of the Skipper's Particular from Esquire's Handbook for Hosts does make me wonder.
The Merciless Virgin gave forth a lemon oil aroma from the twist I added that prepared the mouth for the lemon in the sip that was joined by orange and dark fruit notes. Next, the swallow shared rum and medicinal cherry flavors with a light spice finish.

Friday, December 30, 2016

union club

2 oz Bourbon (Old Granddad Bonded)
1 1/2 oz Orange Juice
1/2 oz Maraschino Liqueur (Luxardo)
1/2 oz Campari

Shake with ice and strain into a coupe glass (single Old Fashioned glass).
Two Fridays ago after my shift at work, I turned to the Canon Cocktail Book for my night's treat. There, I happened upon the Union Club that they based on the Campari-orange juice pairing and named after an old saloon in Seattle run briefly by Wyatt Earp. Once built, the Union Club began with a Bourbon and bitter orange aroma that later led into a more Maraschino-driven nose. On the palate, the sip was filled with orange and malt notes, and the swallow paired the whiskey and nutty flavors all with a bitter finish.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

japanese (variation)

3/4 Brandy (1 1/2 oz Camus VS)
2 dash Orgeat (1/2 oz)
2 dash Dry Vermouth (3/4 oz Noilly Prat)
1 dash Picon Bitters (1/4 oz Torani Amer)

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktails glass; I added a lemon twist.

Two Thursdays ago, I was flipping through Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars: 1903-1933 when I spotted their variation on the Japanese Cocktail. I had previously skipped over this recipe so as not to add alternative recipes to the basic brandy, orgeat, and bitters recipe first written by Jerry Thomas in 1862, but temptation overcame me. Here, the Old Fashioned style was undone by the addition of dry vermouth to something approaching a Brandy Manhattan, and the bitters instead of being Boker's (or Angostura) were Picon.
This Japanese variation greeted the nose with a lemon, floral, and brandy bouquet. Next, the sip was creamy from the orgeat, and the swallow gave forth Cognac, earthy-nutty, and bitter orange flavors. Here, the drink was more dried out from the vermouth than the nonpotable bitters in the classic, but it had a familiar feel to it.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

dutch totem

2 oz Bols Genever
1 oz Amaro Ramazzotti
1/2 oz Chestnut Honey Syrup
3/4 oz Pineapple Juice
3/4 oz Lime Juice
2 dash Angostura Bitters
1 dash Absinthe

Shake with ice, strain into a Tiki mug, fill with crushed ice, garnish with a pineapple slice and freshly grated nutmeg, and add a straw.
Two Wednesdays ago, I ventured down to Bar Mezzana for a cocktail, and I was lured into one of their amaro-forward tropical drinks called the Dutch Totem. Once prepared, it offered a nutmeg aroma that led into lime, caramel, and honey notes on the sip. Next, the swallow began with Genever, pineapple, cola-herbal, and wormwood flavors and ended with a pineapple and honey finish.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

letters of marque

1 oz Scarlet Ibis Rum (Privateer Navy Yard)
1 oz Cynar
1/2 oz Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao
1/2 oz Galliano

Stir with ice, strain into a coupe or cocktail glass, and garnish with flamed orange oils from a twist (unflamed oils).

Two Tuesdays ago, I returned to Brad Parson's Amaro Book to make a recipe after having replenished my Cynar supply. The drink was the Letters of Marque by Jerry Slater of H. Harper Station in Atlanta, and the name refers to the government documents that authorize privateers to profit from the goods that they seize on the ocean. Since I did not have Scarlet Ibis Rum, I opted for another strong rum that I purchased on that recent shopping trip, namely Privateer's Navy Yard Rum which seemed rather fitting of a distillery name for this tipple.
The Letters of Marque shared an orange aroma from the twist oils that joined the caramel and star anise nose from the drink. Next, orange and caramel on the sip led into rum, vanilla, orange, herbal, and star anise on the swallow. Overall, the combination reminded me a bit of the Son of Man that opted for Calvados and Amaro Montenegro for the rum and curaçao.

Monday, December 26, 2016

mighty peking man

1 1/2 oz Aviation Gin
1 1/2 oz Pineapple Juice
3/4 oz Cocchi Sweet Vermouth
1/2 oz Lime Juice
3/4 oz Simple Syrup
2 dash Angostura Bitters
1 dash Orange Bitters

Shake with ice, strain into a Collins glass, fill with crushed ice, garnish with mint, and add a straw.
Two Mondays ago, I ventured down to State Park to watch the screening of Bartender at Large. Bartender Erick Castro who helped to create the documentary was present, and he offered me one of his creations created with the event sponsor, Aviation Gin, called the Mighty Peking Man. The drink name is a reference to a 1977 monster movie featuring the "King of the Orangutans" (the literal translation from the Mandarin title) that came in the wake of the 1976 remake of King Kong. Once served, the Mighty Peking Man proffered a mint aroma that led into a grape sip tinged by the pineapple and lime notes. Next, pineapple modulated by the vermouth was joined by the gin on the swallow with a lime and clove finish.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

canon's sherry cobbler

1 oz Oloroso Sherry (2 oz Lustau)
1/4 oz Patxaran (1/2 oz Atxa)
1/4 oz Maraschino Liqueur (1/2 oz Luxardo)
2 dash Angostura Bitters (4 light dash)

Shake with ice, strain into a Cobbler cup or wine glass, fill with crushed ice, and garnish with an orange slice, mint leaves, and seasonal berries (mint sprigs and an orange twist).
After my bar shift two Sundays ago, I reached for the Canon Cocktail Book. There, I spotted a delightful sounding Sherry Cobbler that seemed a bit on the small side especially for a nightcap. After doubling the recipe, Cobbler gave forth grape, mint, and orange aromas. The grape continued on into the sip where it mingled with hints of cherry and dark berry, and the swallow offered nutty, coffee, and cherry notes with a clove spice finish.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

yesterday, today, & amaro

2 oz Wild Turkey 101 Rye (Jim Beam Rye)
1/2 oz Cynar
1/4 oz Averna
1/4 oz Benedictine

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail glass or coupe, and garnish with lemon oil from a twist.
After work on Saturday night, I was in the mood for a nightcap, so I reached for Brad Parson's Amaro book, and found something bitter, brown, and perhaps served down called Yesterday, Today, and Amaro. The drink and the pun name stem from the bar at the Abe Fisher restaurant in Philadelphia. Once prepared, the drink's lemon oil brightened the caramel, herbal, and whiskey aroma. Next, the caramel continued on into the sip where it mingled with the whiskey's malt, and the swallow shared the rye, funky herbal notes, and a hint of cherry.

Friday, December 23, 2016


2/3 Strathmore Scotch (1 oz Buchanan's 12 Year, 1 oz Pig's Nose, 1 bsp Caol Ila 12 Year)
2 dash Dry Vermouth (1 oz Noilly Prat)
2 dash Raspberry Juice (1/2 oz Royal Rose Raspberry Syrup)
1 dash Orange Bitters (Regan's)

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
After my work shift two Fridays ago, I turned to Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars: 1903-1933 for some liquidy inspiration. In the non-American whisk(e)y section, I was drawn to the Simplicity for it paired Scotch with raspberry akin to the Devery Crusta but in a Bobby Burns or Rob Roy sort of format. Once prepared, the Simplicity share a malt, smoke, and raspberry nose. Next, malt with light berry and white wine notes filled the sip, and the swallow was the combination of smoke, whisky, and raspberry. Sadly, the combination of Scotch and raspberry was not as magical here as it was in the Crusta, so perhaps the flavor is improved with some brightness from citrus' acidity, but overall, it was definitely a solid drink.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

the studebaker

1 oz Bourbon (Old Granddad Bonded)
1 oz Lillet Blanc (Cocchi Americano)
2 tsp Lingonberry Syrup (1/3 oz Clear Creek Loganberry Liqueur)
2 dash Peach Bitters (Fee's)

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with a lemon or orange twist (orange).

Two Thursdays ago, I reached for The Canon Cocktail Book after getting home from my work shift. There, I spotted the Studebaker that was named after the car favored by bootleggers during Prohibition; I was drawn to it as it called for lingonberry syrup and I confused it for loganberry which I have done once before in a Mikkeller beer. When I pulled out my bottle of Clear Creek Loganberry Liqueur, I was reminded of my blunder with these 'L'-berries. Since Canon is in Seattle, I associate it with the West Coast where the loganberry was created by an accidental crossing of blackberry and red raspberry cultivars. Lingonberries are rather popular in northern European countries like the Scandinavian ones, but now they are being grown in the Pacific Northwest which makes sense of why it appears in this recipe. Instead of aborting the recipe, I decided to go through with it using a different berry in the mix.
Instead of doubling (or one-and-a-halfing) the recipe, I made it in this below average size which allowed me to utilize my elegant vintage Heisey 3 oz cocktail glasses. Once prepared, the Studebaker generated an orange and berry aroma that led into a peachy wine flavor on the sip from the Cocchi Americano and perhaps the bitters. And the drink rounded off with Bourbon, berry, and peach notes on the swallow.

dakkar grotto

1 1/2 oz JM Rhum Agricole Blanc
1/2 oz Punt e Mes
1/2 oz Green Tea Syrup
1/2 oz Lime Juice

Shake with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with a grapefruit twist.

One of the drinks I created for the new Loyal Nine menu revision never made it onto the list to make room for egg nog and other seasonal offerings instead, but I will try to find a home for it in the future. When two drinks were coming off the menu, I rescued the rhum agricole from one and the green tea syrup from the other to craft a grassy Daiquiri of sorts. To round out the combination, I looked to the Pirate Slave and added the bitter complexity of Punt e Mes. And for a name, I thought of the Nautilus, but there is already a cocktail or two named after that. So instead, I took the Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea theme a step further and dubbed it after the resting place of Captain Nemo.
The Dakkar Grotto shared a grapefruit aroma that led into a lime, grape, and grassy sip. The grassy notes continued into the swallow where they and the rhum flavors melded into the Punt e Mes bitter notes, and things wrapped up with tea tannins on the finish.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

savoir faire

2 oz Gin (St. George Dry Rye)
3/4 oz Dry Vermouth (Noilly Prat)
1/4 oz Avèze Gentian Liqueur (Salers)

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail coupe spritzed with orange blossom water. Garnish with lemon oil from a twist.

Two Wednesdays ago, I reached for Sasha Petraske: Regarding Cocktails and was curious about the Savoir Faire. The recipe was crafted by Lauren McLaughlin of Milk & Honey, and Sasha's wife Georgette loved floral cocktails such as this one. The book's recipe incorrectly listed the dry vermouth as 1/4 oz, and Lauren was kind enough to write me on Instagram to alert me that the correct amount was 3/4 oz to match their Martini spec. My tasting notes were unfortunately for the lesser amount of dry vermouth though.
The Savoir Faire's orange flower water combined with the lemon oil and hints of juniper and gentian to provide an elegant nose. Next, the sip was rather clean, and the swallow shared gin and rye spice notes that were graced with gentian bitter complexity.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

boss colada

1 oz Baska Snaps Malort (Jeppson's)
1/2 oz Angostura 7 Year Rum
1 1/2 oz Pineapple Juice
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Orgeat

Shake with ice, strain into a Pilsner glass, and fill with crushed ice. Garnish with a lime wheel and 20 drops or 3 dashes Peychaud's Bitters (3 light dashes).

Two Tuesdays ago, I received Brad Parson's Amaro book, and I fell upon Nick Detrich's Boss Colada from Cane & Table. I had spotted this recipe on the web a few times, but I did not make it since I lacked the Bittermens-produced Malört at home despite having it at work and using it to great effect there in our Hot Buttered Malört. When I read the printed recipe, I remembered that I had a bottle of Jeppson's Malört gifted to me by Eric Witz, and I decided to give this amaro Colada a go by merging the book's recipe with ones I had spotted on the web.
The Boss Colada greeted the nose with lime and anise aromas. Next, the sip was a creamy pineapple and lime where the orgeat did a decent job simulating the mouthfeel of coconut cream. Finally, the swallow was a great combination of rum, nutty, bitter wormwood, and other herbal notes.

Monday, December 19, 2016

smokey the pear

1 1/2 oz Bols Genever
3/4 oz Del Maguey Mezcal Vida
3/4 oz Belle de Brillet Pear Liqueur
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1/4 oz Honey-Ginger Syrup

Shake with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with a dehydrated pear on a pick and a mist of more mezcal.
For Prohibition repeal night, I joined a Bols Genever-sponsored bar crawl through Boston that honored Jerry Thomas. The first stop was Mooo where bartender Greg Neises complemented the malty juniper liquor with smoke from mezcal and fruit from pear liqueur in his Smokey the Pear. In the glass, the drink shared smoke, malt, and pear notes that led into lemon, honey, and more malt on the sip. Next, the swallow gave forth agave, pear, smoke, and spice flavors to round out the drink. Indeed, the Genever worked rather well with the pear as it did with other fruit notes like rhubarb and peach in the Old New York Cocktail and the Under Lock & Key, respectively.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

paper aviator

1 oz Four Roses Bourbon
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Aperol
1/2 oz Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
1/2 oz Tempus Fugit Crème de Violette

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
After my shift two Sundays ago, I got out early enough to catch last call at Backbar. For a libation, I asked bartender Kat Lamper for her drink of the day, the Paper Aviator. The recipe was her mashup of the Paper Plane with the Bourbon, Aperol, and lemon components and the Aviation with the lemon, Maraschino, and violette. Once prepared, the Paper Aviator conjured up nutty Maraschino and floral violet aromas with a hint of whiskey on the nose. Next, the sip was rather fruity with lemon, cherry, and Aperol notes, and the swallow was a pleasing combination of Bourbon, nutty, and floral elements.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

london cocktail

1 jigger Rye Whiskey (1 1/2 oz Sazerac)
1/4 jigger Orgeat (1/2 oz)
2 dash Orange Flower Water (16 drops)
1 Whole Egg

Shake once without and once with ice, strain into a glass, and garnish with nutmeg.
After my bar shift two Saturdays ago, I reached for Hugo Ensslin's 1917 Recipes for Mixed Drinks to find something suitable to wrap up the night. There, I found an interesting Flip called the London Cocktail. In the glass, the London Cocktail provided pleasing nutmeg and almond notes that led into a creamy sip. Next, the swallow shared rye, nutty orgeat, and bitter orange flower flavors; perhaps decreasing the orange blossom water to something closer to 2 drops would help the finish here.

french film

1 1/2 oz Dolin Dry Vermouth
1/2 oz Benedictine
1/2 oz Honey Syrup
1/2 oz Lemon Juice

Shake with ice, strain into a rocks glass, fill with ice, and garnish with a lemon twist.
To replace the East Cambridge Cobbler on the low octane (low proof) menu, I decided to riff on the Board of Directors keeping its dry vermouth base. Instead of the Green Chartreuse, I opted for a lighter herbal note of Benedictine. Since two of the ingredients were French, I thought the 1978 Wire song French Film Blurred might work, but I ended up shortening it to French Film. Overall, it is clean, crisp, and elegant. I decided on serving it on the rocks since there is already a Collins and a coupe glass drink on that section of the menu.

Friday, December 16, 2016

bitters & smoke

1 oz Tequila (Lunazul Reposado)
1 oz Cynar
1/2 oz Fernet Branca
1/2 oz Mezcal (Sombra)

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with a grapefruit twist (orange twist).
Two Fridays ago, my desire for a nightcap led me to the other recipe that I had spotted in Imbibe along with the Avenue & Davenport called the Bitters & Smoke. The recipe was crafted by Trey Hughes at the Hunt & Alpine Club in Portland Main, and the dual agave-dual amari structure intrigued me. In the glass, the Bitters & Smoke shared an orange aroma with agave vegetal and smoke notes. Next, the amari's caramel came through on the sip, and the swallow offered smoky agave and minty-herbal flavors with a lingering menthol aspect.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

port royal

3/8 oz Wray & Nephew Overproof White Rum
3/8 oz Hamilton 86° Demerara Rum (El Dorado 12 Year)
3/4 oz Camus VS Cognac
3/4 oz Carpano Antica (Alessio Sweet Vermouth)
1 barspoon Giffard Banane du Bresil
2 dash Angostura Bitters
2 dash Peychaud's Bitters

Stir with ice, strain over a rocks glass with a big cube, and garnish with lime oil.
Two weeks ago, I participated in a Reddit /r/cocktails ask me anything with bartender Justin D'Olier of San Francisco's Pagan Idol. One of the Redditors asked Justin for their Port Royal recipe, for all they could find was Eastern Standard's riff on Don the Beachcombers 1930s Port au Prince by that name. Instead, this was the bar's Vieux Carré riff that subbed in banana liqueur and rums for the classic's Benedictine and whiskey. A few nights later, I decided to make it after my shift at work. The Pagan Idol's Port Royal showcased lime, caramel rum, and grape aromas that led into further grape and caramel notes on the sip. The swallow then offered funky rum, brandy, banana, and spice elements to take the Vieux Carré in a rather delightful tropical direction.

averna diamond fizz

2 oz Averna
1/2 oz Demerara Syrup
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1 dash Bittermens Molé Bitters

Shake with ice, strain into a white wine glass containing 2 oz Bohigas Cava, and garnish with a lemon twist.
Two Thursdays ago for the drink of the day, I decided to do my recent amaro riff on the French 75. The drink was created for one of my regulars who alternated between ordering our cava and drinking Averna. When I proposed one night after plotting out the recipe that I could put together everything he loved into one glass, he asked if that was a cocktail before declaring that there was too much going on. It just was not his style. Instead, I served it to another regular a month or two later to fulfill one of his drink requests, and his outward enjoyment of it sold the next one to someone in his group. And last night, I served it as our drink of the day at Loyal Nine where the reception was quite positive with all of the rich caramel, chocolate, and light herbal notes over a dry and crisp backbone. For a name, I was considering the Averna 75, but my coworkers thought the Averna Diamond Fizz sounded more elegant.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

the bitter swagger

The theme for this month's Mixology Monday (MxMo CXIV) was picked by Stacy of the Stacy Markow blog. The theme she chose was "Digestifs," and she elaborated on the choice with her description of, "It's December. There's a chill in the air, and if you're located in the U.S. like I am, we are smack dab in the middle of a busy holiday season. This time of year is known for calorie laden holiday meals surrounded by family and friends, so it seemed like the perfect time to explore the vast combinations that can be found by discovering and making cocktails from ingredients known for their digestive properties. Digestifs are pretty popular in my world... They help settle a meal and bring the night to a close. Options to use classic digestive products are endless here, from smooth whiskey and bourbon to brandy, port, sherry, and many liqueurs. Many products (like Fernet, aromatized wine, and other amaros) have been created for this sole purpose. Let your imagination run wild, and make a beverage highlighting at least one product known for its digestif qualities..."
Concurrent with me pondering this theme was the delivery of Brad Parson's Amaro book, so I was provided with more than a bounty of new options to choose from. One of the drink recipes that caught my eye was the Bitter Swagger created by Nick Talarico of Mephis' Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen that was his amaro riff on a Pisco Sour. Most of the spirit here had been replaced with Amaro Nardini which has chocolate and mint notes lurking in the background similar to Benedictine. I still was not sure what the value of a quarter ounce of Cocchi Americano was in the mix, but I was willing to give this combination a go.
The Bitter Swagger
• 1 1/4 oz Amaro Nardini
• 3/4 oz Pisco (Encanto)
• 1/4 oz Cocchi Americano
• 1/2 oz Lemon Juice
• 1 Egg White
Shake once without and once with ice, and strain into a cocktail glass.
The Bitter Swagger shared a chocolate and caramel aroma that was brightened by the lemon notes. Next, a creamy lemon and caramel sip was followed by an herbal swallow containing light mint and chocolate notes. The pisco was rather subtle in the flavor profile here, but it was certainly not out of place. While I did have a large dinner before enjoying this drink, my stomach was not angered with me, so it was hard to judge this combinations efficacy on a scale from zero to Fernet Branca.

So thank you to Stacy for hosting such a seasonally appropriate theme (although I enjoy these flavors all year around), and thanks to the rest of the Mixology Monday crew for keeping the spirit of the event going all to the beat of an ice-laden shaker tin set. Cheers!


1 oz Appleton Reserve Rum
3/4 oz Borducan Orange Liqueur
1/2 oz Galliano l'Autentico
1/4 oz Giffard Orgeat
3/4 oz Lime Juice

Shake with ice, strain into a rocks glass, fill with crushed ice, and garnish with 2-3 dash Angostura Bitters and a mint sprig.
After attending the Boston Bacardi Legacy competition at Yvonne's, I took the subway back to Harvard Square to pay a visit to Benedetto which just opened in the old Rialto spot. There, I was greeted by Charles Coykendall who is an alumni of the Baldwin Bar and Tiger Mama. For a drink, I asked for the Maitalia which Charles explained was his Italian-inspired Mai Tai riff that he crafted for the opening menu. The Maitalia exuded mint and clove aromas that preceded a citrussy sip of lime and orange notes. Next, the swallow gave forth rum flavors, a hint of nutty that blended into more orange, and spice notes included star anise and vanilla. Overall, the combination was a touch sweet, but integrating the bitters dried out the balance considerably.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

black rock chiller

1 oz Reposado Tequila (Lunazul)
1 oz Branca Menta
1 oz Suze (Salers)

Build in a rocks glass (punch cup). Stir without ice and serve as a room temperature cocktail.

Two Tuesdays ago, I sought out cocktail recipe inspiration in Paul Clarke's The Cocktail Chronicles and decided to try out a quirky looking non-cocktail called the Black Rock Chiller. The drink was a Scaffa crafted by Sother Teague of Manhattan's Amor y Amargo, and it does not classify as a cocktail for it leaves out the final part of the "spirits, sugar, bitters, and water" definition. I actually did have an opportunity to have this made for me by Sother himself when he did a pop-up at Silvertone for Boston Thirst in 2014, but I opted for his Pumpernickel instead.
The Black Rock Chiller began its intrigue with a mint, menthol, and cigarette tobacco aroma. Next, a rich caramel sip proceeded into agave vegetal notes blending into gentian liqueur and Fernet's herbal flavors on the swallow with a minty-herbal finish. Overall, the drink was not very bitter due to the sugar content; moreover, despite the recipe, it was not freakish at all and rather an enjoyable sipper.

Monday, December 12, 2016

duboudreau cocktail

2 oz Rittenhouse Rye (Sazerac)
3/4 oz Dubonnet Rouge (Bonal)
1/4 oz Fernet Branca
1/4 oz St. Germain (St. Elder)

Stir with ice, strain into a coupe, and garnish with a lemon twist.
For the cocktail hour two Mondays ago, I re-investigated the PDT Cocktail Book for recipes that I might have glossed over the past few years. The one that called out to me was Jim Meehan's 2009 riff on Jamie Boudreau's Cooper's Cocktail which was a combination of rye, elderflower, and Fernet created at the Vessel in Seatle. I probably skipped over this recipe since I lacked Dubonnet which is part of the name; since I stopped stocking this Kentucky-made quinquina at home, I have had good luck substituting in Bonal, so it was worth a try here. In the glass, the Duboudreau Cocktail presented a lemon, rye, and herbal-menthol bouquet to the nose. Next, malt and grape on the sip offered up a familiar Manhattan-y feel, and the swallow showcased rye, floral, and bitter flavors with menthol and quinine notes on the finish.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

robert johnson swizzle

2 oz Evan Williams Single Barrel Bourbon (Larceny)
3/4 oz Otima 10 Year Tawny Port (Sandeman)
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
3/4 oz Vanilla Syrup

Build in a Collins glass, add crushed ice, and swizzle to mix and chill. Add 2 dash Fee's Whiskey Barrel Bitters and 3 dash Peychaud's Bitters, and swizzle in to the top layer. Garnish with a mint sprig.
Two Sundays ago, I wrapped up the end of my work week by peering into the Death & Co. Cocktail Book for a recipe. There, I was drawn to the Swizzle section and found Brian Miller's 2009 tribute to American blues musician Robert Leroy Johnson. Once prepared, the Robert Johnson Swizzle shared a cinnamon, mint, and vanilla aroma. Next, lemon, malt, and grape on the sip gave way to Bourbon and complementary vanilla notes on the swallow.

Saturday, December 10, 2016


1 1/2 oz Dark Rum (Angostura 7 Year)
3/4 oz Bonal Gentiane-Quina
1/2 oz Kahlua Midnight (Galliano Ristretto)
2 dash Angostura Bitters
2 dash Orange Bitters (Angostura Orange)

Stir with ice, strain into a coupe glass, and garnish with an orange twist.
After my shift two Saturdays ago, I reached for The Canon Cocktail Book and happened upon the Coraje that reminded me of a rum-based Revolver with a bit of quinquina for complexity. A web search of the drink turned up that the Canon has used Appleton V/X as their dark rum, so I opted for Angostura 7 Year here. Once prepared, the Coraje meaning courage or bravery shared an orange oil aroma over darker elements from the rum and coffee liqueur. Next, the sip gave forth caramel, grape, and dark roast flavors, and the swallow began with rum and coffee and ended with orange and bitter notes.

Friday, December 9, 2016

swizzle me timbers

1 1/2 oz Bacardi 8 (Barbancourt 8 Year Rum)
1/2 oz Becherovka
1/2 oz Orgeat
1 oz Lime Juice
2 pinch Mint Leaves

Build in a Collins glass, muddle mint leaves, and fill with crushed ice. Swizzle to mix and chill, and garnish with a mint bouquet (lime wheel and mint sprigs).

Two Fridays ago, I decided to make a recipe that I had spotted on ShakeStir called Swizzle Me Timbers. The drink was the creation of Brian Prugalidad of San Diego's Campfire, and I was drawn to it for it appeared like a mint and Becherovka instead of orange liqueur Mai Tai similar to the cinnamon substitution in the Cuban Anole and the Becherovka and cinnamon substitution in the Face for Radio.
The Swizzle Me Timbers proffered a mint and lime aroma that led into a creamy lime sip. Next, the swallow held much of the complexity with rum, nutty, clove, and cinnamon flavors with growing mint notes that took a sip or two to enter into the picture.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

mundo perdido

1 1/2 oz Black Blended Rum (Coruba)
1/2 oz Apple Brandy (Boulard VSOP Calvados)
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1/4 oz Demerara Syrup (3/8 oz)
1/4 oz Cinnamon Syrup (3/8 oz)

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail coupe.

After Thanksgiving dinner, I reached for the Smuggler's Cove Cocktail Book for something fun to make. There, I spotted the Mundo Perdido that Beachbum Berry created for Smuggler's Cove back in 2009. The combination of dark rum and apple brandy in a Sour/Daisy format reminded me of the Sky Pilot but with a swapping of the rum and apple brandy roles and a change of the Sky Pilot's grenadine to cinnamon syrup here.
The Mundo Perdido gave forth a dark molasses-y rum aroma with a hint of apple. Next, the lemon countered the sweet caramel from the rum and syrups on the sip, and the swallow began with dark rum and apple flavors and ended with cinnamon and funky rum notes.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

devil's left hand

1 oz Plantation 3 Star White Rum
1 oz Old Monk Rum
1/2 oz Campari
1/2 oz Orgeat
1/2 oz Cinnamon Syrup
1/2 oz Lime Juice

Shake with ice, pour into a tall glass, fill with crushed ice, float 1/2 oz Plantation O.F.T.D. Overproof Dark Rum, and garnish with an orange twist (ran out of orange peel).

After work two Wednesdays ago, I decided to stop in and check out the Automatic. For a first drink, I asked Drink alumni Sebastian Cañas for the Devil's Left Hand. With the description of "rum blend, Campari, citrus," I was expecting something akin to a rum riff on the Siesta; however, with orgeat and cinnamon syrup in the mix, the recipe took a turn for the Tiki akin to a Bitter Mai Tai crossed with a Cuban Anole.
In the glass, the Devil's Left Hand began with a dark rum aroma. Next, the sip was creamy from the orgeat and complemented by lime and caramel notes, and the swallow offered rum and a bitter orange-cinnamon flavor.

malmsey flip

2 oz Blandy's 5 Year Malmsey Madeira
1/2 oz Maple Syrup
1/2 oz Angostura Bitters
1 Whole Egg

Shake once without and once with ice, strain into a large coupe glass, and garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.

After spotting Jacob Grier's PX Flip in the blog archives, I was curious if the same could be done with a sweet Madeira. Looking over the sugar content of the various fortified wines, I realized that Pedro Ximenez sherry has more than twice the sugar content of Malmsey Madeira (not to mention Madeira being balanced by a high acid content), so I figured that it needed to be sweetened somehow. For a first pass, I made this drink with demerara syrup and either Angostura or Peychaud's Bitters; the results were that demerara was not sweet enough and Angostura's Christmassy spice was superior here to Peychaud's absinthe-like feel. Instead of opting for a sweeter sugar syrup like simple, I selected maple syrup with the Fort Washington Flip in mind.
The Malsey Flip presented a nutmeg, clove, and maple bouquet to the nose. Next, the sip was a delightfully creamy grape and maple combination, and the swallow continued on with the maple flavors along with allspice, clove, and cinnamon notes.
Update: I discovered in November 2017 that the Livestock Tavern in Honolulu put this Flip on a short list of borrowed recipes along with ones from George Kappeler and Giuseppe Gonzalez!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

before night falls

1 oz Mezcal
1 oz Manzanilla Sherry
3/4 oz Green Chartreuse
1/4 oz Combier Kümmel
1/2 oz Lime Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
For my first drink at Estragon, I asked bartender Sahil Mehta for the Before Night Falls. The drink's aroma was dominated by the kümmel spice especially the cumin, and the sip was rather crisp and clean from the sherry and lime components. Finally, the swallow was the combination of smoky agave and savory herbal from the pairing of the kümmel with the Chartreuse.

melting pot

1 oz Rittenhouse Rye
1/2 oz Fidencio Mezcal
1/2 oz Lustau Palo Cortado Sherry
1/3 oz Chai Tea Syrup

Stir with ice, strain into a rocks glass, fill with ice, and garnish with a lemon twist.
Two Tuesdays ago, Andrea and I had dinner at Estragon. For a first drink, Andrea asked bartender Sahil Mehta for last week's drink of the day called the Melting Pot. In the glass, the libation gave forth a lemon oil aroma that preceded a malt and crisp grape sip. Next, the rye whiskey and smoky agave paired on the beginning on the swallow, and the drink ended with a nutty spice finish. Overall, the combination of sherry and chai tea syrup mimicked a sweet vermouth such that the drink was rather like a Manhattan.

Monday, December 5, 2016

jukebox opera

1 oz St. George Terroir Gin
1 oz House-made Sweet Vermouth
1/2 oz Fernet Branca
1/2 oz Campari
1/2 oz Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur

Stir with ice, strain into a rocks glass with a large ice cube, and garnish with an orange twist.
Two Mondays ago, Andrea and I ventured up to Gloucester to have dinner at Short & Main. For a first drink, I asked bartender Eric Brueggeman for the Jukebox Opera that he later told me was created by bartender Christa Manalo. The assembly of complex ingredients with a gin base reminded me a little of the Hoskins Cocktail, although such assemblages are usually whiskey based such as in the Down & Brown. Once prepared, the Jukebox Opera presented an orange aroma that led into a grape-driven sip with a hint of orange from the Campari. Next, the swallow shared gin and bitter orange flavors with nutty notes from the Maraschino that transitioned into Fernet Branca's menthol on the finish.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

devery crusta

1 jigger Scotch (1 1/4 oz Pig's Nose, 1/4 oz Caol Ila 12 Year)
1/2 tsp Raspberry Syrup (1/2 oz Royal Rose)
Juice 1/2 Lemon (1/2 oz)

Shake with ice and strain into a glass with its rim crusted with sugar. I added a lemon twist.

Two Sundays ago after work, I decided upon the Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars: 1903-1933 as my evening's liquid adventure tour guide. In those pages, I found a curious Crusta in the non-American whisk(e)y chapter called the Devery Crusta. While there was no indication of what the drink was named after, one of the most famous Devery's of that time period was William Devery who became New York City's first police chief. A few years after telling his men, "They tell me there's a lot of grafting going on in this precinct. They tell me that you fellows are the fiercest ever on graft. Now that's going to stop! If there's any grafting to be done, I'll do it. Leave it to me.", he was arrested for bribery and extortion. Despite being dismissed from the police force, he was reinstated and eventually promoted to Chief of Police. The other thing Devery was famous for was buying a Baltimore baseball team, renaming it the Highlanders, and bringing it to New York in 1903; in 1912, that team became the New York Yankees.
Like many of the Crustas in Pioneers, the Devery Crusta lacks calls for the wide citrus peel garnish as well as bitters; of the two, I added back in the former. In the glass, this Crusta gave forth a peaty aroma along with the lemon oil one from the garnish. Next, a lemon, berry, and malt sip led into a swallow offering smoky Scotch melding into a raspberry finish. Overall, the whisky's peat and the raspberry made for a unexpectedly delightful combination.

autumn pimm's cup

2 oz Pimm's No. 1
1/2 oz Chai Tea Syrup
1/2 oz Lemon Juice

Shake with ice, strain into a Collins glass with 2 oz hard cider (Eric Bordelet Nouvelle Vague), top with ice, and garnish with an apple slice and freshly grated cinnamon.
Two weeks ago, the theme for drink of the day was apple cider, so that Sunday I decided to do a harvest version of the Pimm's Cup using the cider in place of the lemon-lime soda or ginger ale. For a vegetal element, I regretted not bringing in some of my borage from the garden, and instead, I opted for a chai tea syrup which has mint leaves in the mix along with apple-complementary spices. While cinnamon is not in our chai mix, I added it to the nose by way of the garnish.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

black betty

1 oz Dark Rum (Coruba)
1 oz Amaro Montenegro
1 oz Fernet Branca
1/2 oz Lustau Pedro Ximenez Sherry

Stir with ice and strain into a rocks glass with ice. Garnish with a flamed orange twist (no flame).
Two Saturdays ago, my nightcap selection came by way of The Canon Cocktail Book. Bartender Chris Good created the Black Betty as part of Canon's "shrouded roulette" bartender's choice, and the combination reminded me on paper of a more intense Blood of My Enemies. Once built, the Black Betty gave forth an orange and menthol aroma. Next, caramel and grape on the sip gave way to dark funky rum, raisin, and orange notes on the swallow along with a menthol finish.

Friday, December 2, 2016

avenue & davenport

1 1/2 oz Rye Whiskey (Sazerac)
1/2 oz Bourbon (Old Granddad Bonded)
1/2 oz Cynar
1/4 oz Maraschino Liqueur (Luxardo)
1/4 oz Fernet Branca

Stir with ice and strain into a coupe glass.

Two Fridays ago, I was in the mood for a nightcap after my work shift, so I turned to a Toronto riff that I had spotted in Imbibe Magazine. The Avenue & Davenport was a tribute by Christopher Flett of Vancouver's Pourhouse to an intersection in Toronto that softened the Fernet Branca's bite with Maraschino which has worked in drinks like Mr. Clark's Cane and All Jacked Up. Moreover, the amaro quotient was expanded with the addition of a healthy dose of Cynar.
In the glass, the Avenue & Davenport shared a whiskey and nutty cherry nose that surprisingly offered very little Fernet aroma. Next, malt paired with the amari's caramel and a hint of cherry on the sip, and the swallow offered whiskey flavors with a nutty Maraschino melting with funky herbal notes and ended with a menthol element from the Fernet.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

my favorite things

1 oz Fernet Branca
1 oz Campari
1/2 oz Gin (Death's Door)
1 barspoon Green Chartreuse (1/8 oz)

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with mint.

Two Thursdays after my work shift, I was in search of a nightcap, and I decided to revisit The Cocktail Collective book from 2010 to see if I passed over any gems. The one that called out to me was Mindy Kucan's My Favorite Things from when she was in Houston, Texas, before she moved out to Portland, Oregon. Surprisingly, this perhaps tribute to The Sound of Music song contained a completely different set of ingredients from Paul Manzelli's A Few of My Favorite Things, and it reminded me more of the Bottecchia with the Fernet Branca and Campari-forward balance.
The My Favorite Things' mint garnish added fresh complementary herbal notes to the Fernet Branca's menthol nose. Next, the Fernet's caramel paired with the Campari's orange on the sip, and the swallow began very Fernet-driven at first and then leading into Campari's bitter orange elements. Despite the brash and extreme appearance of the recipe, this would make a great digestif right after a big meal.