Monday, July 31, 2017

solo rosa

1 1/2 oz La Caravedo Torontel Pisco
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
3/4 oz Honey-Ginger Syrup (here 3/8 oz each of honey syrup and ginger syrup)
1 dash Peychaud's Bitters

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
After meeting up with my seminar's fellow panelists to discuss the talk, I decided not to attend a talk but to go to the pisco tasting room followed by the one for "real rum." One of the drinks at the pisco room was created by Boston's very own Jackson Cannon that he created for an upcoming Les Sablons menu. The combination was alluring for it reminded me of a pisco Penicillin with Peychaud's Bitters in the mix. In the tasting cup, the mix was rather floral on the nose along with honey and ginger aromas. Next, a lemon and honey sip led into pisco and ginger spice on the swallow.


1 oz Lemon Juice
1 oz SC's Molasses Syrup (*)
2 1/2 oz Seltzer Water
1/4 oz Allspice Dram
1 1/2 oz Diplomatico Mantuano Rum
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Flash blend with 12 oz crushed ice, pour into a Collins glass, and garnish with a lemon twist.
(*) 1 cup water, 2 cups sugar, 2 oz Brer Rabbit Mild Molasses. Heat and stir sugar and water to dissolve, add molasses, stir in, and turn off heat.

For my second talk on Thursday at Tales of the Cocktail, I attended a talk called "Falernum, Shrubs, & Mythical Caribbean Rum Liqueurs" presented by Ian Burrell (rum ambassador), Martin Cate (Smuggler's Cove), Benjamin Jones (Rhum Clement), and Richard Seale (Four Square). The seminar was a collection of product descriptions and lore about how each island in the Caribbean has its own set of small batch rum infusions with various flavors and spices. Many of these were aphrodisiacs that contain things like Horny Goat Weed and Bois Bande (translates to "hard wood") with names and nicknames to match. Others such as orange shrubb and falernum were less sexually charged with the former making good use of citrus surplus and the latter approaching a Daiquiri in cordial form. One of the drinks presented was Martin Cate's Pampanito that he based off his trip to Jamaica; there, he spoke to Appleton's distiller Joy Spence, and she described how molasses is mixed with lemonade on the island and of course sometimes they add rum to the mix. To continue with the Jamaican flavors, Martin added allspice dram, and he lightened the balance with the soda water. Martin alluded that there was another name for this drink that he created for Tales of the Cocktail one year, and that got changed when it did not match up with the talk's sponsor. The Smuggler's Cove book states that the recipe got its name from the USS Pampanito that was docked in San Francisco at the time.
The Pampanito was prepared at the presentation without a lemon twist so the nose was mostly dark molasses aromas. Next, a carbonated lemon sip shared darker notes from the rum and molasses, and the swallow was an elegant mingling of rum, molasses, and allspice flavors.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

rutte old simon martinez

2 oz Rutte Old Simon Genever
1 oz Martini & Rossi Sweet Vermouth
2 dash Fee's Orange Bitters

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with an orange twist. This is a modification of the recipe in their book; the drink prepared for me was closer to 3:2 and shaken.

This year, some swag appeared in my room on two different days perhaps by way of the cleaning staff as the agents. This swag included Q Soda, Red Bull energy drinks, small bottles of spirits, and drink tickets for the Carousel Bar downstairs at the Monteleone. I am not sure if this was due to my media credentials, for I was staying at the Monteleone due to the deal they offered me for being a presenter. With many of the seminars being dry or pretty close to it especially as compared to previous years, I decided to treat myself between the first two talks to a Martinez via the ticket Rutte had left for me. Their Martinez recipe utilized Genever which I have done with lighter examples such as Boomsma Oude and Jonge in the past, but it lacked the Maraschino that is often included in the modern day accepted Martinez. I have definitely seen liqueur-less Martinezes in the literature that were described as "Prepared like a Manhattan but with gin" (as well as ones that call for curaçao as the liqueur instead).
Once mixed, the orange oil filled up the drink's nose. Next, grape with a light malt note filled the sip, and the swallow let loose the rest of the Genever notes in a malty blast that was very low on the juniper. The combination sort of hit a midpoint between an Old Tom gin Martinez and a Manhattan, and the lack of extensive new charred barrel aging is probably what kept the drink in the middle ground.

:: from dunder to wonder ::

Thursday morning of Tales of the Cocktail, I attended a rum talk called "From Dunder to Wonder" moderated by Don Lee (Cocktail Kingdom, etc.). In the panel to discuss what is rum funk and where does it stem from in the process were Arielle Johnson Ph.D. (flavor expert at MIT's Media Lab), Joy Spencer (Appleton Rum's master distiller), and Jim Romdall (brand manager Novo Fogo Cachaça, prev. manager of Rumba). Don started his quest by figuring out how science could assist this process, so he contacted Arielle to help him write this seminar proposal.

Arielle decided on doing sensory analysis paired with quantitative descriptive chemical analysis. For the chemical analysis, she analyzed rums for potential flavor molecules using gas chromatography followed by mass spectrometry (GC-MS). Gas chromatography works by separating lighter flavor molecules from heavier and stickier ones, and the molecules can be read out in a spread via the spectrometry. Don pointed out that GC-MS can help to figure out what molecules are in the rum, but it cannot tell which are providing the funky notes. Moreover, doubling of a molecule's concentration might not double the intensity of funk since perception is often logarithmic (but not the same log scale for each molecule). In addition, while color is controlled by 3 genes, the nose utilizes over 14,000 genes to do its detecting. Arielle joined in on that by saying there can be positive or negative interference in mixtures; this synergy or dampening means that the human aspect is not just due to the chemistry.

Jim expounded on the process by explaining how rum is hard to categorize since it is one of the most diverse spirits being produced. There are not a lot of rules in the making of the spirits such as the use of column and/or pot stills, cane and/or molasses, funky or not, and flavor and/or sugar added. Joy narrowed down the countries to Jamaica which is well known for full bodied rums with complex flavors. The rums there are categorized by ester concentration with Plummer being in the mid-range and Wedderburn style being at the mid-high range, and the two of them are the components of the funky Smith & Cross Rum. While there are rum styles with ester concentrations below that, the ones above it are being utilized for perfume or flavor. Jamaican rum production rules require fermentation and distillation in Jamaica, filtered limestone water, use of molasses, integrity of age statement signifying the youngest rum in the blend, and the use of no additives. While Jamaica was home to over a hundred rum distilleries in the early 19th century, that number is down to 6 today. While some have column stills, it is the pot still that gives the funk note to the rum. Joy also explained that Appleton has its own special yeast that pairs well with the still design to give Appleton its orange peel note. Moreover, each distillery has its own wild yeast indigenous to the distillery that can get into the ferment besides their chosen house yeast strain, and molasses can contain its own natural yeasts that vary by where it is imported from.

Arielle continued on explaining how funk molecularly is a black box since we do not know which molecules are funky. Some of the opportunities to create funk include the chemical transformations of proteins attaching to sugars during the cooking process to make molasses, the ferment such as what yeast, what temperature, how long, and what strength of the finished product, and which method of distillation with the pot still providing more compounds and the column giving higher purity. Aging in oak and the oak's toast level can add, subtract, and transform, and there are definitely esters being generated in the barrel as well as in the heat of the still.

Some known funk esters are ethyl acetate (fruity nail polish), ethyl butyrate (pineapple), ethyl hexanoate (green banana, pineapple), and isoamyl acetate (ripe banana, pear). But many of the other molecules are not known. We do know what flavors are used when we talk about funk, and these include grassy & fatty, game-y, fruity & beany, sulfurous/gunpower, and aged meat. The last is where the term hogo stems from -- it is derived from the French term haut gout which can be defined as the slight taint of decay especially in wild game meat that was once considered desirable. Also, it is known that dead yeast can generate some of the fatty acids that transform into esters.

When the topic of dunder pits came up, Joy described how not all Jamaican distilleries have dunder pits, but that is often associated with the high ester ones. Dunder is the waste of distillation, and Appleton utilizes it for fertilizer whereas other distilleries add it back into the process. So it is not just the dunder pit where these funky esters stem from. Jim followed up by explaining that producers repeat techniques to maintain the flavor without knowing what specifically that part of the process does to the end result, and Don pointed out the problem of causation versus correlation. Yes, dunder pits can generate flavor but is that the single source reason?

While the presenters were talking, the audience tasted 8 rums and rated them with a variety of perception scales that Arielle could later correlate with her GC-MS data, but the talk moved on to rum funk in cocktails. Jim is a proponent that all rum cocktails ought to have a bit of funk, and he often challenges people to name a drink that does not taste better with a 1/4 oz of Wray & Nephew. When I tweeted that, someone suggested the El Presidente (although the book Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars: 1903-1933 suggests that Cuban rums of that era such as Bacardi would have been closer to funky agricoles given their use of skimmings than the clean Spanish style of today). Indeed, Jim declared funk to be the seasoning of rum cocktails, and without it, it is "white people chicken." Jim is also a fan of aged rum in Daiquiris, and he had one of his Daiquiri recipes made up for us:
Funky Daiquiri
• 1 1/2 oz Appleton Reserve Rum
• 1/2 oz Wray & Nephew Overproof White Rum
• 3/4 oz Lime Juice
• 1/2 oz Simple Syrup
Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
One of the reasons that rums are blended in cocktails as opposed to the use of two or more gins or American whiskeys is that each rum carries its own unique funk character. This character can also be utilized in split base spirit drinks such as rum with whiskey, brandy, or apple brandy. Just like the late 19th century had the dash of absinthe that got incorporated into the "Improved" cocktail, perhaps there could be a term for adding a dash of funk. Previous, Jim was known for topping drinks with Ardbeg for its funky smoke, and someone convinced him to run with the Twitter handle @ardbegfloat for a while, so his fascination with high intensity accents is not new.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

:: the floor staff - the unsung heroes of hospitality ::

One of the talks that I attended on Wednesday was about the floor staff -- everyone from servers to maitre d' and hosts to managers -- and how they can promote hospitality and the bar program. The panel consisted of Anna Kah McLoughlin (Bacardi brand ambassador, prev. maitre d' Dead Rabbit) as the moderator along with Jim Meehan (owner/bartender P.D.T.), Hana McClarley (maitre d' Nomad), Laura Torres (maitre d' Blacktail), and Eamon Rockey (general manager Betony) as the speakers.

Anna began with the premise that in many drink-forward establishments, it has been all about the bartender but the rest of the staff gets ignored. On a busy night at the establishments that the four panelists work at, 75-90% of the guests are on the floor. Generally, the bartender is the most knowledgeable but the floor staff are seeing most of the guests and making the impression. The challenge is how to prevent the guest from feeling that the server does not know anything about cocktails and spirits? Laura followed up by explaining that the bartenders also have an advantage as the guests come to their bar whereas servers come up to the guests' table which instills a different power structure. Jim explained the value of cross-training such that the servers on the floor are just as knowledgeable as the bartenders; in fact, Jim started taking floor shifts to take it easier on his body, and he learned from the experience when he was asked "what does the bartender think of this?" despite that it was his place and he was a bartender there too. Unfortunately drinks will come out faster at the bar, so there is a value of sitting at the bar in front of the bartender; therefore, try to think of ways such that service ticket drinks do not take longer as the guest should not be punished for sitting at a table.

To instill values within the team, management should think about equity in terms of how much each position is making and what uniforms they are instructed to wear. Jim repeated the idea that people should work multiple positions such that there is no concept of a higher position; moreover, there should be equal pay in the pool especially since servers do most of the business in bars. Eamon warned about higher staff demanding respect just due to their title instead of investing in their team and giving them empathy and developing a nurturing environment. Laura added that the server should be comfortable in questioning the bartender to ensure consistent and high level of quality; straw tasting drinks before they go out to the floor and asking bartenders to straw taste or remake a drink should be within their rights. Ana followed up that the server is the last quality check to ensure a great product.

Hana explained how pre-meal meetings can help instill equality and communication. At Nomad, everyone from chef to server sits down together such that superiors and subordinates get to converse. Laura mentioned how doing something "of the day" such as spirit or cocktail during pre-meal helps instill knowledge and presentation skills; this should not be just the barstaff presenting but the servers as well. Servers need to feel like this is their career and their industry. And in a pooled house, there is no reason why everyone cannot hit a table throughout the night. Hana and Laura both then mentioned goal setting such as servers trying to sell one of each cocktail on the menu that night or perhaps just the least selling cocktail. Or perhaps get everyone excited to break a cover record. Hana explained that they have legend nights where the goal is for each staff member to create a legendary experience for one table in that section by figuring out what would make things extra special.

Eamon provided a 7 step process in the greet. The idea is not how you say hello when a guest walks in but how to instill trust in them:
1. Identification & Appreciation. Let the guest know they are welcome.
2. Figure out their immediate needs and start out on the right tone.
3. Identification of boundaries. Find out the things that govern the guests' needs such as allergies.
4. Trajectory. Solicit the information that will allow the experience to be appropriate with the time frame.
5. Provide all the resources at your disposal such as menus.
6. Clarity and activity: ask and receive the questions that make sure every one is on the same page.
7. Provision of fundamentals. For example water: it should be there, but it does not have to be the first thing brought up (still or sparkling?) for it is the least exciting.
Jim commented that he prefers to give the staff room to fail. From his conversations with Danny Meyer, he learned that it is not about perfection, it is about excellence; if someone makes a mistake a fails at perfection, excellence allows them a chance to remedy it.

tiki enough

2 oz Gin
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Pineapple Juice
1/4 oz Orgeat
6-8 leaf Mint

Shake with ice, add 1 oz soda water, strain into a Pilsner glass, and fill with crushed ice. Garnish with a lemon twist and 2-3 dash Angostura Bitters, and add a straw.
After settling into my hotel and registering for Tales of the Cocktail, I set off into the French Quarter with the intention of ending up at the Cure like I have done on the previous 5 years' Tuesday nights. Instead, I ran into the Backbar and friends crew and was invited to join in on their bar crawl. While many of those drinks did not have recipes to share such as the Erin Rose's frozen Irish Coffee or my Tiki drink at Latitude 29, we did end up at Cane & Table which I have had good luck with in the past. There, I requested the Tiki Enough which was billed as "a Tom Collins met a Royal Hawaiian." While the recipe provided to me by the bartender seemed a bit tart on paper, it does mirror the Royal Hawaiian printed in Bottoms Up. Once served, the Tiki Enough offered a clove and lemon aroma that led into a creamy pineapple sip. Next, the gin shined through on the swallow along with minty and nutty accents.

Friday, July 28, 2017

:: best of tales and nola 2017 ::

On Monday, I got back from my 6th Tales of the Cocktail conference since my first in 2009. I was not intending to go to Tales this year in order to free up my days off to visit another city and event, but I was invited in late February to fill in for a seminar speaker. After a few days of discussing how I fit into the talk, I quickly agreed and requested the time off. Several people asked before and during if I was supporting or selling my new book, Boston Cocktails: Drunk & Told; the answer was no, but feel free to support it now on Amazon or via the links in the upper right of the blog page. Just as every year is a bit different where I ended up spending my time, I did wind up in the Bywater for food, drink, and entertainment several times (as opposed to only once for a night event last year). The koi in the Tales symbol that I crafted were part of the art that is spread throughout this region, so I co-opted them for the 2017 Tales posts here. Without further ado, here are some of my best moments of the week:

Giving a seminar at Tales! While I have given talks at Portland Cocktail Week, Barbara Lynch's Stir classes, and the BCA drink series, I have never given a talk to this many people before. The worst part was the night before when I was so concerned about waking up for my 10:30am time slot on Saturday morning that I set three alarms; if I missed my flight home, there would be another flight, but if I missed the talk, that was it (I originally wrote this up as "The biggest overkill at Tales"). In the end, I didn't need any of the alarms since I slept poorly and woke up early on my own. So I got breakfast, took a walk, and got into a good mindset. I figured that my time slot would be 10-15 minutes at the end to tie Loyal Nine's bar program into Colonial cocktails of the past. However, the other speakers ended sooner leaving me with a bit of time to fill, so I ran with it and told some humorous stories along the way. I'll post my notes on it in a few days.
Best talk at Tales: Making Money while Breathing Fire by Zach Patterson, JJ Goodman, Adrian Biggs, and John Lermayer. Not flaming liquids but how to provide hospitality as well as service. Between beginning with punk rock tunes, one of the presenters drinking too much product from the energy drink sponsor, a Piña Colada toast while everyone stood and sang the Escape (The Piña Colada Song), and John Lermayer nailing complicated concepts succinctly, this was truly high energy and entertaining. I'm definitely writing up this one too.
Great talk trend: Female presenters! Yes, my talk like many was guilty of being all male; in fact 7 of my 11 (including mine) were all male. Four were not and were all 50-100% female presented/moderated: Eight Flavors, the Floor Staff, From Dunder to Wonder, and When Good Beer Goes Bad.
Best science-y talk: From Dunder to Wonder with a MIT Media Lab professor who did gas chromatography-mass spec analysis on rums and the panel utilized the room to rate the rums for funkiness; such data could get at which molecules and where in the process funk (or flavors and aromas perceived as funky) comes from.
Great bonding moment: Jews & Booze. Besides a great history, it was good to reconnect with my people even if I am not religious or practicing in anyway. Sipping on I.M. Harper Bourbon that was created by I.M. Bernheim back in the day was not bad either.
Favorite night event: Los Altos Tequila's LuchaSlam with Mexican-style wresting, Tequila Cazadores' Bartending Boxing with 4 representatives each from Houston and Los Angeles duking it out after 3 months of training, and Jägermeister's Deutsch After Dark with Mix Master Mike, Grandmaster Flash, and Kurtis Blow. All 3 of these had something to watch and were more than "here's a pretty room, some booze, and we're definitely going to blare music at you as you figure out what to do with no structure."
Favorite night time hang: Two years ago it was the Avenue Pub, and last year it was Barrel Proof; while I did make it over to the latter once, I spent a lot more time at the Black Penny. One part for its location being closer to the Monteleone where I was staying and one part because it had a low-key low-music volume industry bar hangout.
Favorite tasting room: On the small scale, it might have been Pisco with Brother Cleve DJing and bartenders like Jackson Cannon making drinks. On the large scale, the Meet the Distillers happy hour was great too with a variety of spirits and a few beers and wines. From big guns like Beefeater down to a small microbrewery that opened called Parleaux. The latter was so cool that I stopped by on Sunday to enjoy more of their beers.
Favorite new restaurant: Sneaky Pickle out in the Bywater which is a vegan place that will add meat (they prepare the meat ones in a different part of the kitchen) and makes a lot of their own ingredients. For breakfast, it remained Surrey's. And this year there was a Subway Sandwich Support Group that formed led by Camper English (I only ate there twice this year when in a hurry but it was better than not eating lunch at all).
Boston! Boston had a good showing in attendance as well as awards. Hawthorne and Misty Kalkofen got the prize at the Spirited Awards for hotel bar and brand ambassador, and Kitty Amann got inducted into the Dame Hall of Fame. There were also bartenders from Deep Ellum, Lone Star, Brass Precinct, Backbar, Brick & Mortar, Spoke, the Rising, Baldwin Bar, Russell House Tavern, Yvonne's, Area Four and A4cade, Automatic, and Cultivar. A lot of Boston was also volunteering!
Favorite spontaneous moments: As pictured above, bumping into the Backbar & friends posse on Tuesday and getting invited along to hit the highs and lows of drinking in the French Quarter ranging from the the Sazerac Bar at the Roosevelt Hotel to the wonders of Bourbon Cowboy with Cane & Table (above) and dinner and Tiki drinks at Latitude 29 in between. My contribution was a round of beers at the Black Penny. Also, when I mis-remembered the date for the Bartender Boxing event, I was coming back to the Quarter and bumped into Tad Carducci in front of Compere Lapin who invited me to join their Diplomatico Rum bus bar crawl. I agreed and was whisked away to The Cure where I had wanted to go anyways (it's 3+ miles out).
Weird but awesome marketing: Two different times I got back to my room at the Monteleone and there was swag left there. Everything from Red Bull to Genever, Q Sodas to tickets for a free Martinez or bourbon drink at the Carousel bar. Not sure if housekeeping was involved or whether they had access. It was good-strange like clowns making balloon art of your favorite animals.
Favorite hangout moment: I was invited to Jake P's Sunday Salon which was in part to help him get rid of the booze and wine he brought along for the week. So many waves of interesting people came through during and after Pig & Punch.
Best way to round out Tales: My 2015 Cynar cabin counselor for Camp Runamok, Steve Yamada, organized a karaoke night at Kajun's Pub out in the Bywater. It started with the two of us and Steve's brother, and with some Facebook messaging, it grew to us taking over about half the bar.

creole sazerac

1 2/3 oz Rhum Clement VSOP (Rhum Depaz)
1/3 oz Rhum Clement Creole Shrubb (Cointreau)
3 dash Peychaud's Bitters
1 bsp Simple Syrup

Stir with ice and strain into a rocks glass rinsed with Green Chartreuse. Garnish with orange oil from a twist.

Two Fridays ago, I rediscovered a post by Gary Regan about Sazerac variations while searching for another drink that paired rhum agricole and Green Chartreuse. The Sazerac riff that I selected from that article was the Creole Sazerac that was different from the recipe of the same name from the Death & Co. Cocktail Book. This one was created by Tim Judge while in India when he was discussing the influence of France on cocktails. Here, three French-influenced spirits play a role: rhum from Martinique, Chartreuse from France, and Peychaud's Bitters from a Creole pharmacist.
The Creole Sazerac began with orange and grassy herbal aromas that led into a rich orange sip. Next, the grassy rum began the swallow that ended with Peychaud's anise spice.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

la salle

2/3 Rye Whiskey (1 3/4 oz Old Overholt)
1/8 Sweet Vermouth (3/4 oz Cocchi)
1 dash Crème Yvette (1/4 oz)
1 dash Picon Bitters (1/4 oz Torani Amer)
1 dash Absinthe (2/3 bsp Kübler)

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

Two Thursdays ago, I was in need of a nightcap after my bar shift at work. When I began flipping through the list of tagged recipes in Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars: 1903-1933, the La Salle as a Manhattan variation called out to me. The name reminded me of the Cocktail à la Louisiane riff, the Cocktail à la Salle, that I created substituting tequila and Oloroso sherry for the rye whiskey and sweet vermouth, respectively. The La Salle that I paid tribute to their was Robert de La Salle (a/k/a René-Robert Cavelier) who was a 17th century French explorer who ventured into the Gulf of Mexico and then up the Mississippi river through what is now New Orleans. The Pioneers book did not provide any information as to whom or what this particular recipe is named after, but considering that this appears like a Manhattan riff, it could be named after the La Salle Academy in Manhattan that opened in the 1840s.
The La Salle greeted the senses with rye, dark orange, and anise aromas. Next, grape and a hint of caramel on the sip was followed by rye, berry, floral, and orange flavors on the swallow with an anise finish.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017


3/4 oz Lemon Juice
3/4 oz Pineapple Juice
1/2 oz Orgeat
2 oz Gin (Beefeater)
2 dash Peychaud's Bitters

Shake with crushed ice and pour into a Double Old Fashioned glass (shake with ice, strain into a DOF glass, and fill with crushed ice). Garnish with an edible orchid and cherries (mint and honeysuckles).
On a Reddit thread, I was reminded that I had not made the Humuhumunukunukuapua'a from the Smuggler's Cove book, and two Wednesdays ago, I decided to rectify that. The complex name is a tribute to the traditional name of the reef or wedge-tail trigger fish that became the state fish of Hawaii, and that name might be the longest word in the Hawaiian language. Bartender Marcovaldo Dionysos' recipe joined the Saturn and the few other gin-based Tiki drinks in the literature. Once in the glass, the aroma was mint and floral from the garnish. Next, the creamy sip shared lemon and pineapple notes, and the swallow gave forth gin, nutty, and anise flavors.

strangers with candy

1 1/2 oz Cynar 70
1/2 oz Giffard Banane du Bresil
1/2 oz Orgeat
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1 Egg

Shake once without ice and once with ice, strain into a rocks glass, and garnish with 3 drops Peychaud's Bitters.

For a post-dinner drink at Estragon, I was lured in by an egg drink called Strangers with Candy. Sahil Mehta described how this combination came across like a banana milkshake, and he named it after the television show on Comedy Central. I was unsure whether the citrus in this combination negated it being a Flip or whether designations like Royal Sour existed like they do for Fizzes. Regardless, I was definitely game to try this weird Cynar drink especially since crème de banana worked so well with that amaro in the Banana Cup #1.
The Strangers with Candy began with a banana and anise aroma that later gained more almond notes on the nose. Next, a creamy and tropical sip gave way to funky and banana flavors merging into a nutty almond on the swallow.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

poet & the peony

1 oz Fernet Branca
1 oz King's Ginger Liqueur
1/2 oz Passion Fruit Syrup
1/2 oz Lime Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail coupe.

Two Tuesdays ago, Andrea and I made our way over to Estragon for dinner. For a first drink, Sahil mentioned that he had all of the ingredients this time to make a cocktail that I had previously desired called the Poet & the Peony. The drink name stems from Estragon's owner who is a published poet; despite her not being a fan of Fernet Branca, she rather enjoyed this combination. When I inquired about the peony aspect, Sahil alluded to the drink being rather aromatic and he relied on alliteration as his naming salvation.
The Poet & the Peony offered Fernet's menthol note to the nose. Next, tropical fruit and lime on the sip led into Fernet's sharp herbalness tempered by passion fruit flavors on the swallow with a ginger-menthol finish.

Monday, July 24, 2017


2 oz Punt e Mes
1/2 oz Rittenhouse Rye
1/2 oz S. Maria al Monte Amaro
1 pinch Salt

Stir with ice, strain into a rocks glass, and garnish with orange oil from a twist.

Two Mondays ago, I ventured down to Eastern Standard for dinner. For a drink, I asked for the Danube that was subtitled "you spin me right round" that I interpreted as symbolic of its Inverse Manhattan variation structure. If it were served on the rocks with the pinch of salt on top of the ice, it would also fall into the Little Giuseppe family for me. What I did not realize until later is that I had drank the Danube back in 2011 with a different liqueur; instead of the Fernet-like S. Maria al Monte, Kevin Martin's original utilized Zwack after he returned from Hungary to visit the Zwack family and their distillery. The name also makes more sense with Zwack for the Danube runs through Budapest near the Zwack distillery and not near Italy.
The Danube made this way shared an orange and caramel aroma that led into a grape-driven sip. Next, grape and herbal flavors on the swallow gained rye spice as it warmed up. Given the sizable bitter dampening effect from the pinch of salt, the S. Maria al Monte was quite tame and unrecognizable in this mix, but it did contribute herbal notes to complement the Punt e Mes; the original with Zwack retained its spice notes despite the salt though.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

cable car

1 1/2 oz Captain Morgan Spiced Rum (Kraken)
3/4 oz Marie Brizard Orange Curaçao (Cointreau)
1 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Simple Syrup

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass rimmed with cinnamon sugar (about 20:1 cane crystals to Vietnamese cinnamon). Garnish with an orange twist (clementine).

In thinking about Tales of the Cocktails past, I recalled many of the great bartenders that I had the privilege of making me drinks at the Diageo Happy Hour. The Happy Hour was held the first three years I went to Tales (2009-2011) in a different museum each year with 60 bartenders and writers making drinks of theirs. This included bartenders like Joaquin Simo and writers like Wayne Curtis who I had never had the chance of meeting in person before. Somewhere between then and my next Tales in 2015, that event went away and Diageo was throwing large themed parties with games and mechanical bulls instead. One drink that I recalled was one that I never wrote about called the Cable Car by Tony Abou-Ganin that he created for the Starlight Room in San Francisco back in 1993; I was able to fetch this recipe from Robert Hess' The Essential Bartender's Guide to recreate the drink that Tony served to me back in 2011. Hess' book provided the history of, "This drink's name comes from the geography of the its house of origin.... One of the city's landmark properties, the Sir Francis Drake Hotel, is located along the famous Nob Hill cable car tracks."
Essentially the drink is a Rum Side Car which was bolstered that year by attending Robert Hess' talk on Embury and the Side Car. I updated some of the ingredients for quality, but I kept the sweeter-than-preferred balance intact (especially with the sugared rim which I do not mind when the drink is on the tarter side). Once prepared, the Cable Car shared an orange and cinnamon bouquet to the nose. Next, a sweet lemon and orange sip transitioned into dark rum and spices on the swallow. Put into perspective of when this drink was created 24 years ago, it is a solid tribute to classic mixology even if it might seem less flashy than many of the drinks of today. Probably that lack of flash is why I never wrote up this drink back in 2011 given all of the other drinks I had to chose from at that Happy Hour, but it is one of the few that I can still recall to this day from that event.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

new idea

1/2 jigger Sherry (1 1/2 oz Lustau Amontillado)
1/2 Gancia Vermouth (1 oz Cocchi Sweet)
2 dash Pineapple Juice (3/4 oz)
1 dash Picon Bitters (1/2 oz Torani Amer)

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
When I got home late from working a private event at the restaurant, I desperately needed to treat myself to a nightcap; however, I also had to get up a few hours later to open the bar for brunch. Therefore, I looked to the fortified wine section of Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars: 1903-1933 for a low-proof solution. In those pages, I was lured in by the New Idea which split the base between sherry and vermouth and accented the combination with pineapple and Amer Picon. I interpreted the sherry and vermouth calls as Amontillado and sweet vermouth and balanced the drink accordingly. Once in the glass, the New Idea proffered a nutty sherry and dark orange bouquet. Next, grape with some pineapple notes on the sip led into nutty sherry, earthy herbal, and orange flavors on the swallow.

Friday, July 21, 2017

the last laph

3/4 oz Laphroaig Select (10 Year)
3/4 oz Ginger Liqueur (The King's Ginger)
3/4 oz Pineapple Juice
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
3 dash Absinthe Verte (1 bsp Kübler)

Shake with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with a mint sprig.

After my work shift two Fridays ago, I was more than ready to make a drink for myself for a change. From the recipes that I had bookmarked, the Last Laph that I had spotted in Imbibe Magazine seemed to match my mood. The recipe was crafted by Justin Lavenue of the Roosevelt Room in Austin, and his recipe reminded me of the Laphroaig Project riff called the Pineapple Project; moreover, the Scotch and absinthe also reminded me of the Morning Glory Fizz to complement the Last Laph's shared structure of another famous hangover cure, the Corpse Reviver #2.
The Last Laph proffered a mint and peaty smoke nose. Next, lemon and pineapple notes on the sip preceded smoky Scotch and ginger on the swallow that melded into an anise-herbal finish.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

south side royale

2 oz Gin (Beefeater)
3/4 oz Lemon Juice (1/2 oz)
1/2 oz Simple Syrup
8-10 leaf Mint (8 leaf)

Shake with ice and strain into an ice-filled Collins glass with 1-2 oz Champagne (a flute glass containing 2 oz Willm Blanc de Blancs garnished with a mint sprig and a long lemon twist).

On Wednesday two weeks ago, I began searching for a recipe to utilize the fresh bottle of sparkling wine I had just bought. In Paul Clarke's The Cocktail Chronicles book, I referenced all of the recipes calling for Champagne, and I was drawn to the South Side's page which had a bunch of variations include the South Side Royale (intriguing that it is named that since Royal is a whole egg-laden Fizz whereas a Diamond is a Sour lightened by Champagne). Given that my mint patch is looking beautiful this year (opposed to last year due to the drought and my over-harvesting to supply the work bar), I was definitely game to give this one a go. Moreover, I was also surprised that I had never written up the South Side itself here despite enjoying many in my lifetime -- perhaps I'll remedy that in a bit (postnote: I did -- here).
The South Side Royal provided a mint and lemon aroma that was supplemented by the garnish choice. Next, a carbonated lemon and white wine sip gave way to gin and mint on the swallow with a mint and white wine finish.

Monday, July 17, 2017


2/3 Rye Whiskey (2 oz Old Overholt)
1/3 Apricot Brandy (1/2 oz Rothman & Winter)
2 dash Lemon Juice (1/2 oz)
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass; I added a lemon twist.
For my Monday evening nightcap two weeks ago, I began searching in Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars: 1903-1933 for a recipe. There, I uncovered the Lasting that reminded me of a Pendennis Club in feel (and perhaps the Fine and Dandy as well). In the glass, the Lasting gave forth a lemon and apricot bouquet. Next, a dry lemon and malt sip moved into rye, apricot, and clove on the swallow.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

planter's rum punch

2 oz Lime Juice
1 oz Grapefruit Juice
1 oz Gold Puerto Rican Rum (Diplomatico Añejo)
1 oz Dark Jamaican Rum (Coruba)
1 oz Rhum Barbancourt (8 Year)
1 oz Honey Syrup
1 tsp Grenadine (1/4 oz)
2 dash Angostura Bitters

Shake with ice and pour into a tall glass (shake with ice, strain into a Collins, and add ice). Garnish with a pineapple slice and cherry (mint sprig and flowers).
Two Sundays ago, I ventured into Beachbum Berry's Remixed for something refreshing to end the night. There, I spotted the Planter's Rum Punch created by Dick Moano during the 1950s for his restaurants that included the Aku-Aku in Las Vegas, the Islander in Beverly Hills, and the Cambodian Room in Palm Springs. Once prepared, my choice of garnish added mint notes over the honey, rum funk, and hints of citrus aroma. Next, lime, grapefruit, and honey on the tart sip led into funky rum, floral, allspice, and clove flavors on the swallow.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

deauville crusta

3/4 oz Lustau Brandy
3/4 oz Coquerel Calvados
3/4 oz Clement Creole Shrubb Orange Liqueur
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Shake with ice, strain into a narrow cocktail or wine glass rimmed with sugar, and garnish with a long wide lemon peel wrapped around the glass' top inner diameter.
Two Saturdays ago for drink of the day at Loyal Nine, I decided to merge two New Orleans cocktails. The first was the Crusta created by Joseph Santini in 1852 that was the first recorded cocktail containing citrus (not the first drink, but the first with the classic spirits, sugar, bitters, and water structure) and the combination of brandy, orange liqueur, and lemon with a sugared rim perhaps morphed into the Sidecar. In figuring out what to do for the recipe, I stuck with the idea of a Brandy Crusta and selected the 1930s Deauville that I always think of as a Hoop La with the Lillet swapped for apple brandy or perhaps the cousin of the Between the Sheets. To take the Deauville into the proper cocktail format, I added a dash of bitters and figured that the sugared rim of the Crusta would compensate for any tartness or bitterness from its addition.

Friday, July 14, 2017


2/3 Gin (2 oz Beefeater)
2 dash Sweet Vermouth (3/4 oz Cocchi)
1 dash Maraschino (1/4 oz Luxardo)
1 dash Absinthe (1 bsp Kübler)
2 dash Orange Bitters (Regan's)

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
After work two Friday ago, I ventured into Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars: 1903-1933 to discover a quirky gem inside. There, I decided on the Constantine that read like a Martinez with absinthe or perhaps an Improved Sweet Martini. Being a big fan of the Martinez, I was game at trying this herbal variation. Once in the glass, the Constantine gave forth an anise aroma from the absinthe. Next, the vermouth's grape mingled with the Maraschino's light cherry on the sip, and the swallow imparted gin, herbal, and nutty flavors with an anise finish.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

3's away

1 1/2 oz London Dry Gin (Beefeater)
3/4 oz Calvados (Boulard VSOP)
3/4 oz Cocchi Americano
5 leaf Mint

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with grapefruit oil.
After getting home from my work bar shift two Thursdays ago, I reached for Food & Wine: Cocktails 2015 and found the 3's Away. The recipe was crafted by once-Boston now-San Francisco bartender Chad Arnholt at Trick Dog. Chad created this combination for a guest who had a stomachache and wanted something mint and citrus noted without the acidity of the juice. Once prepared, the 3's Away proffered a grapefruit and mint aroma. Next, apple and citrussy wine on the sip gave way to gin, mint, and more apple notes on the swallow.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

jet setter

1 oz El Buho Mezcal
3/4 oz Giffard Pamplemousse Liqueur
3/4 oz Amaro Nonino
1/2 oz Lime Juice
3 drop Saline (1 part salt:4 part water)

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

Two Wednesdays ago, I stopped by Backbar and found a seat in front of Kat Lamper. For a first drink, I was intrigued by the Jet Setter on the menu that was described as "Tart, to the point, and pleasantly pushes the smoky mezcal to the back of the plane." Kat described how bartender Lindsay Adams was inspired by the Naked & Famous and the Paper Plane, and she mashed them together. After being pleased with the results, Kat and Lindsay came up with the name "Naked on a Plane," but that was shot down by manager Sam Treadway.
The Jet Setter began its flight with a grapefruit aroma that soared into a lime, grapefruit, and orange-flavored sip. Next, the drink descended into smoky mezcal, grapefruit, and herbal notes on the swallow.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

evergreen terrace

2 oz Johnny Drum Bourbon (Larceny)
3/4 oz Campari
1/2 oz Strega
1/4 oz Ginger Liqueur (King's)

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail coupe.

Two Tuesdays ago, I turned to Food & Wine: Cocktails 2015 for recipe inspiration. There, I was lured in by the Evergreen Terrace by Ryan Casey of Edmund's Oast in Charleston, South Carolina, that he named for the street where the television family The Simpsons lives. I was drawn in for the combination of liqueurs reminded me of recipes by Chris Hannah such as the Rebennack, and the Campari and Strega pairing (along with a ginger element) made me think of the Count's Swizzle.
In the glass, the Evergreen Terrace shared a Bourbon and anise-minty herbal bouquet to the nose. Next, the malt and orange sip led into a Bourbon swallow accented by anise and bitter orange flavors and a ginger finish. Indeed, the Strega donated an evergreen pine-like note that seemed to support the drink's name.

Monday, July 10, 2017

look my way

1 1/2 oz Lustau Amontillado Brandy
1/4 oz Giffard Crème de Peche (Massenez)
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1/4 oz Demerara Syrup
1 oz Dolin Blanc Vermouth

Whip shake and serve over crushed ice (shake with ice and strain into a coupe glass). Garnish with an edible pansy (ornamental pea blossom).
Two Mondays ago, I decided to make a drink by Jesse Cyr of Seattle's Rob Roy that I had spotted in the OnTheBar app drinks list. The Look My Way seemed quite light and delightful and the combination of Amontillado and peach reminded me of Death & Co.'s Moon Cocktail. While the Cobbler format was rather appropriate given the fortified wine as a base, I for some reason opted to serve this one up. Once prepared, the Look My Way gave forth a nutty sherry aroma. Next, lemon and grape on the sip led into nutty, floral, and peach flavors on the swallow.

Sunday, July 9, 2017


2 oz Plantation Stiggins' Fancy Pineapple Rum
1 Sugar Cube
6 dash Peychaud's Bitters

Muddle the sugar cube with the bitters and a splash of water. Add rum and ice, stir, strain into a rocks glass pre-rinsed with Herbsaint, and garnish with a lemon twist.
Two Sundays ago, Andrea and I ventured down to Trina's for dinner. For a cocktail, I asked if bartender Isaac Sussman could make a Sazerac with Plantation's pineapple rum. I remember the first time I had a Rum Sazerac was in New Orleans in 2010 with the D-Day Sazerac; for that drink, the idea was a thought process of what sort of Sazerac could be made if U-Boats had prevented whiskey or brandy from getting to New Orleans during World War II. Years later, I began spotting recipes for Rum Sazeracs in mid-century drink books, so apparently it was not all that novel of an idea and perhaps stemmed from post-Prohibition or World War II whiskey shortages. Here, with the Stiggins' Fancy Pineapple Rum, the barrel notes carried the structure of the drink and the pineapple flavors added a tropical note on the finish and made this quite the delight to quaff.

Friday, July 7, 2017


2/3 Spey Royal Scotch (1 1/2 oz Pig's Nose)
2 dash Dry Vermouth (3/4 oz Noilly Prat)
2 dash Maraschino (3/8 oz Luxardo)
1 dash Picon Bitters (3/8 oz Torani Amer)

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
Two Fridays ago, I decided to make a recipe that I had spotted the night before in the whisk(e)y section of Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars: 1903-1933 book. The Majestic read in my mind like a Scotch Brooklyn, and I was game to see how changing the rye to something barley and smoky would effect things. Once prepared, the Majestic gave forth a Scotch and dark orange nose. Next, malt, caramel, and a hint of cherry on the sip was followed by Scotch, nutty, and bitter orange notes on the swallow. While similar in flavors, the Majestic's Scotch backbone took the drink in a different direction than my go-to Brooklyn spirit of Old Overholt (I find Rittenhouse to be too domineering and distracting) given the sharper notes.

Thursday, July 6, 2017


2/3 Scotch (2 oz Pig's Nose)
2 dash Dry Vermouth (1/2 oz Noilly Prat)
2 dash Dubonnet (1/2 oz Bonal)
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with a green olive (omit).
Two Thursdays ago, my curiosity for a new cocktail recipe led me to Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars: 1903-1933. There, I found the Administrator that seemed like the Chancellor with the port swapped for a quinquina especially given the title-like drink name. Once mixed, the Administrator provided a lightly peated Scotch nose. Next, malt and a dry red grape on the sip transitioned into Scotch, earthy, and herbal flavors on the swallow with a quinine and allspice finish.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017


1 oz Lemon Juice
3/4 oz Galliano (Galliano L'Autentico)
3/4 oz Cointreau
1 1/4 oz Cognac (Camus VS)

Shake with crushed ice and pour into an Old Fashioned glass (shake with ice, strain into a Tiki mug, and fill with crushed ice). Garnish with a lime wheel (spent half lemon shell and mint sprig).

Wednesday two weeks ago, I was in a Tiki mood, and I looked to Beachbum Berry for something that I had glossed over in the past. The uncovered number that I selected was Steve Crane' Sundowner that he concocted at the Sheraton Waikiki Resort in the 1960s that appeared like a Galliano-infused Sidecar. Moreover, this recipe published in Remixed reminded me of Benedetto's Maitalia which paired Galliano with triple sec in a Mai Tai riff.
The Sundowner gave forth vanilla and tropical citrus aromas before I added the garnish, and the mint dominated the nose afterwards. Next, orange and lemon notes on the sip led into Cognac, orange, and vanilla in an almost mango-like flavor on the swallow with a star anise finish.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

jasmine's cooler

3/4 oz Gin (Tanqueray)
3/4 oz Campari
3/4 oz Triple Sec (Cointreau)
3/4 oz Lemon Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a Collins glass with soda water (2 oz). Top with ice and garnish with a lemon wedge (lemon wheel).

Two Tuesdays ago, I turned to Michael Madrusan's A Spot at the Bar for my evening's drink. There, I spotted the Collins-elongated variation on the Jasmine called the Jasmine's Cooler that the author strangely credited, "Inspired by the Jasmine Cocktail, by Robert Hess." The drink is generally credited to Paul Harrington and was published in his 1998 book Cocktail; Harrington provided the history that he created it for Matt Jasmine with the Pegu Club. With the Pegu's lime and Angostura Bitters swapped for lemon and Campari in the Jasmine, Harrington declared that his balance was on the tart side to seem more like grapefruit juice. True, Robert Hess' tome was in our collection earlier and easier than it was to come by Harrington's out-of-print book at a decent price, but Hess properly attributed it to his fellow Seattle neighbor.
Misattribution aside, the Jasmine's Cooler was a delight to drink. The freshly cut lemon garnish loaded the air with citrussy aroma. Next, a carbonated grapefruit-flavored sip led into gin and Campari's bitter orange than melded into more grapefruit notes at time on the swallow.

Monday, July 3, 2017

hissy fit

1 1/2 oz Old Grand-Dad Bourbon (OGD Bonded)
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz St. Germain (St. Elder)
1/2 oz Crème de Cassis (Massenez)

Shake with ice and strain into a rocks glass with ice (cocktail coupe sans ice).
On Monday two weeks ago, I set forth on my drinking adventure by opening up the Brooklyn Bartender. There, I was drawn to the Hissy Fit by Josh Ropson of the Vanderbilt for the combination of the highs of elderflower liqueur and the lows of crème de cassis reminded me of the Lion Tamer from Beretta. Once in the glass, the Hissy Fit shared floral, red fruit, and Bourbon aromas. Next, dark fruit and lemon combined into an almost grapefruit flavor on the sip, and the swallow gave forth whiskey, currant, peach, and floral notes.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

scorpion reef

1 oz Mezcal (Montelobos)
1 oz Gold Jamaican Rum (Smith & Cross)
1 oz Pineapple Juice
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
3/4 oz Orgeat
2 dash Chocolate Bitters (Bittermens)

Build in a stemless water glass (Collins), fill with crushed ice, and swizzle to mix and chill. Top with crushed ice and garnish with 5-6 dash Angostura Bitters and a sprinkle of Chinese 5-spice powder.

Two Sundays ago, I decided to make a recipe that I had spotted on the Imbibe website called the Scorpion Reef. The recipe was created by Marshall Davis of Raleigh's Gallo Pelón Mezcaleria, and Marshall attributed his inspiration to a smoked pineapple flan dessert. Like the Scorpion Bowl, the Scorpion Reef contained rum, orgeat, and lemon; instead of brandy and orange juice in a bowl format, the recipe opted for mezcal, pineapple juice, and molé bitters in a Swizzle.
The Scorpion Reef offered up clove and cinnamon notes from the bitters and star anise from the 5-spice powder to the nose. Next, lemon, pineapple, and caramel on the sip gave way to smoky, rubbery, and funky spirit notes on the swallow with a nutty and chocolate-tinged finish. Overall, the combination of the mezcal with the Smith & Cross Rum created a pleasantly extra funky taste sensation that was mollified by the pineapple and orgeat components.

Saturday, July 1, 2017


2/3 Rye (1 1/2 oz Old Overholt)
1 dash Pineapple Juice (1/2 oz)
1 dash Benedictine (1/2 oz)
2 dash Sweet Vermouth (1/2 oz)
1 dash Picon (1/4 oz Torani Amer)

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

Two Saturdays ago, I selected Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars: 1903-1933 as the guide for my evening's libation. In the American whiskey section, I became curious about the Ramon which seemed like a Creole Cocktails with the addition of pineapple juice. Since Picon and pineapple go so well together such as in the Oriente, I was definitely curious to see the result.
The Ramon began with a whiskey and bitter herbal bouquet. Next, grape and malt on the sip led into rye and a pineapple-bitter orange combination on the swallow with a herbal finish.