Monday, December 31, 2018

ask & embla

1 oz Michter's Rye
1 oz Brennivin Aquavit
1/2 oz Green Chartreuse
1/2 oz Dolin Dry Vermouth
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe pre-rinsed with Combier Kümmel, and garnish with a lemon twist.
Two Mondays ago, Andrea and I stopped in for a late bite to eat at Estragon. For a drink, I perused bartender Sahil Mehta's drink notebook and selected a drink of the day from September that was full of herbal and spice notes. For a name, I took inspiration from the Brennivin and proposed Ask & Embla, the Norse Adam & Eve, and Sahil approved. Once prepared, the cocktail proffered lemon, caraway, and floral aromas at first, and later, the Green Chartreuse's notes began to dominate the nose. Next, a semi-sweet sip led into rye, Green Chartreuse herbal, and caraway and cumin spice on the swallow. Indeed, the rye paired elegantly with the aquavit as it had in the Immigrant Song and Carra-ryed Away.

:: fred's top 10 cocktail moments of 2018 ::

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, but I decided to list the top moments of the previous 12 months. So to continue with the tradition, here is the 9th annual installment:

1. Favorite Drinking Moments.
I figured that I would start on the lighter side and think about my favorite moments in drinking -- not necessarily what was in the cup. The top one was closing up the bar at Our Fathers in Allston on New Years Eve and realizing that there was a small chance that I could catch a drink of my own on the way home. I messaged my old coworker Trevor who was at the Boathouse in Harvard Square which was just off my route home to see if there was a chance that I could reserve a beer, and I was granted the affirmative. The beer was Sierra Nevada's Celebration Ale 2017 which was good, but the enjoyment of a beer and an old friend to ring in New Year's Eve albeit in another timezone was a great feeling. A close runner up was at the Wild Turkey Behind the Barrel event this past September where Cards Against Humanity and shots of Wild Turkey were a magic combination. Again, what was in the cup did not hurt, but the camaraderie made the moment special.
2. Got Press!
2018 was definitely a year where I got my words and drinks out there. This included my Espresso Mexicano Cocktail and Maraschino-laden Take the Long Way Home in PunchDrink, an Egg Nog in WhiskeyWash, my Monkey Gland-Jet Pilot mashup on the PeguBlog's Tiki Month, Queen- and Madonna-tribute drinks on the AlcoholProfesssor, and a mocktail on HealthLine's detox article. I also had my thoughts recorded on my favorite gins of the year on Liquor.com, my Swedish punsch cheat sheet on HausAlpenz, and catering side hustle gigs on SevenFifty.

3. Still Writing!
This past June marked the 10th anniversary of my writing for the Cocktail Virgin blog and the 12th year of writing about drinks in general. Overall, I ended the year with a touch over 380 posts, so a little more than a post per day. I also had a number of essays published on the USBG National site this year, and I have started republishing the collection on this blog for wider access. Ten of the early essays appear in the Boston Cocktails: Drunk & Told Book as well. Perhaps the most accessed post on the blog this year was the Mystic Marvel. Were people looking for the wonderful combination of brandy, apple brandy, Drambuie, and lime? Probably not, for the obscure 1934 drink name coincides with a Marvel character Mystique, and the blog post is one of the top hits on Google searches! While recipes made up the bulk of my posting, my top three posts were about bartending in general and not drinks themselves. These included, the Art of the Cut Off that I first published on the USBG site, my notes from the Active Bystander - Making Bars Safe class, and Balance in the Bartending Industry that captured Nectaly Mendoza and Giuseppe Gonzalez's down to earth message at Tiki By the Sea. I am also rounding out four and a half years on Instagram where I put up drinks around 2 weeks before the posts hit the blog. Follow along if you dare.
4. Found Solace in Loss.
One of the toughest moments of 2018 for me was the sudden downswing of my drinking buddy Foamy the Cat. The vet was able to drain the fluid around his lungs to give me the great gift of another 2 1/2 weeks with him, but it was time. I ended up re-reading my words last year as I put down MixologyMonday to rest to contemplate death. I also had the chance to give my cat an Irish wake for I attended a single pot still Irish whiskey event later that day. A few days later, I went through my Untappd beer app photos and found some great memories through the years of my friend who was always willing to hangout regardless of the hour. Until we meet again Foamy!

5. Traveled a little.
It was not the biggest year for travel, but I still made it to two events thanks to my essay writing skill. In the Spring, I attended Tiki By the Sea in June where I learned about history, technique, hospitality, and self-health. I also attended Behind the Barrel at the Wild Turkey Distillery in September were I spent several days with 29 other bartender-campers and 3 awesome bartender-counselors soaking in the Bourbon lifestyle. History, family, philosophy, and food were all components here, plus a little skeet shooting to boot. I did get accepted to Portland Cocktail Week, but I sadly had to turn down that opportunity, so perhaps next year?
6. I read a lot this year: 60 books!
Normally, I read about 2 books a month for somewhere between 24-30 books per year, but I found myself reading more at home instead of going out as a ploy to save money and keep busy. And this was at a rate of 5-6 books per month for a year end total of 60! For best releases of the year that I read cover-to-cover, I would have to give it to Sother Teague's I'm Just Here For the Drinks and the Death & Co. crew's Cocktail Codex. For books not published this year that I adored, Gavin Weightman's The Frozen Water Trade about Frederic Tudor and friends bringing ice to the world, Helen Rothberg's The Perfect Mix: Everything I Know About Leadership I Learned as a Bartender which made me regret not bartending before going into a career-type job instead of the other way around, George Ade's The Old Time Saloon: Not Wet - Not Dry, Just History as an amazing piece of late Prohibition story telling about the pros and cons of the saloon and the Prohibition movement told with 1920s slang and plenty of color, Richard Erdoes' Saloons of the Old West with its colorful stories and how the saloon helped push the Temperance movement, Charles Maclean's Malt Whiskey as a great overview of history and styles, and Gregg Smith's Beer in America: The Early Years 1587-1840: Beer's Role in the Settling of America and the Birth of a Nation as an intriguing telling of American history from the beer perspective -- immigration, war, community, technology, and politics.

7. Still Bartending.
It was a year of change indeed on the job front. I helped open Our Fathers in Allston last November/December, and while I loved talking about gin and having access to 100 different labels, it was not paying the bills. Therefore, in March, I transitioned over to River Bar where I answered a call for help from my friend Geo who was the general manager. I spent the summer there, but after Geo and the other manager's departure, it soon became time to leave. I found work at Nahita when the beverage director contacted me. I have been working the main bar there as well as being the main bartender at the Fenix Speakeasy room in the back on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. One of my favorite photos of me this year was taken at Our Fathers. I had a couple who was overwhelmed by our 30+ gin drink menu, and to provide options, I mentioned that we had wine and beer ranging from IPAs to High Lifes. They got excited by the idea of High Life for one of their sisters was a beer snob. So I poured them an aperitif of a Highlife into a pair of Champagne flutes. Not only did it calm them down and allow them to slowly look over the menu as they sipped, it gave me joy since the 12 oz bottle perfectly filled two 6 oz flutes!
8. Created Some Drinks!
I'll just break up the 64 creations into superlatives:
• Best Name: The Sex Lives of Cannibals as a Jungle Bird-Mr. Bali Hai merge.
• Best Rescue of a Flabby Classic: I always found the Corpse Reviver #1 rather lame especially compared to #2. I took the same supercharge of the Vieux Carre that rescues the 1862 Saratoga to make the CR#1 into the Corpse Carre!
• Best Mashup: perhaps a tie between the Pegu Pilot and the Scorpion Ward which both take classics that fuse them to Tiki drinks.
• Winning Recipe: my Queen Anne's Revenge won the CocktailCourier competition and was sold by them as a kit this year. My Mai Tai Suissesse placed in the USBG Cocktail Classique sponsored by Lucid Absinthe, but alas, it was not a great time to travel to NYC to compete (for the honor of competing again).
• Best Drink Creation on the Fly: the Algiers Point one night at River Bar. A pair of cocktailians asked for something herbal like a Green Point, or perhaps something inspired by John Gertsen. So I thought, "Why not both?"
• Favorite Cocktail Conceived on a Walk Home: Up Jumped the Devil on National Artichoke Day.

9. Visited a lot of Brewery Tap Rooms!
Besides that, I also volunteered again to work the NERAX cask festival here in Boston. The tap rooms I visited in 2018 were: Winter Hill, Cambridge Brewing Co., Ragged Island, Proclamation, Abandoned Building, Drunken Rabbit, Democracy, Riverwalk, Barewolf, Sylvaticus, Mystic, Night Shift, Idle Hands, Turtle Swamp, Dorchester, Great North Aleworks, Long Blue Cat, Remnant, Castle Island, SoMe, Ground Effect, Medusa, True North, and Ipswich Ale.

10. The Tenth One is Always a Problem.
Despite a lot of transitions this year, it was a steady one in terms of productivity of drink creation, article and recipe posting, book reading, and the like. I have no clue what 2019 will bring for me other than seeing the bar world from the Bay Village in Boston through my job at Nahita. So let us raise a glass to 2018. Cheers and thanks for reading along this year!

Sunday, December 30, 2018

botty toddy

1 1/2 oz Cognac (Camus VS)
1/2 oz Aged Rum (Plantation Original Dark)
1 oz Pineapple Juice
1/2 oz Cointreau
1/2 oz Thinned Guava Paste (*)
1/2 oz Lemon Juice

Preheat a ~10 oz mug or other heat-resistant vessel with boiling water. Mix ingredients, dump the hot water from the mug, and pour in the mixed ingredients. Top with 4 1/2 oz boiling water and garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.
(*) Equal parts guava paste/jelly and boiling water to melt and thin. Can be prepared in the microwave as well.

This year, I signed up to participate in the Secret Santé event on Instagram that was organized by ServedBySoberon and garnered 154 participants. The idea was that each Instagram (home)bartender would be assigned a person to create a drink to celebrate or pay tribute to them. My assignment was Dries Botty, an Antwerp-based bartender who is also the area's brand ambassador for Cointreau. Luckily, the orange liqueur aspect gave me a starting point. I was originally starting with the idea of a classic Punch or punch-like Tiki drink, and the Mahukona with its triple sec came to mind. I also wanted to incorporate guava jelly that donates a wonderfully smooth and tropical feel to recipes like the West Indies Punch and the Barbadoes Punch. Originally, I was considering a cold libation, but to keep it seasonal, it morphed into a hot one akin to the Hot Zombie. It did not hurt that Dries' last name already sounded like "toddy."
The Botty Toddy had a tropical aroma from the guava, Cointreau, and pineapple that was accented by woody spice. Next, warmed lemon and pineapple on the sip transitioned into brandy, rum, guava, and orange flavors on the swallow. Perhaps a touch of spice would not be out of place here, but I was pleased with the end result being more fruit driven.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

raleigh hotel

2/3 Bourbon (1 1/2 oz Old Grand-Dad Bonded)
1/3 French Vermouth (3/4 oz Noilly Prat Dry)
1 dash Crème de Menthe (1/4 oz Tempus Fugit)
1 dash Picon (1/4 oz Torani Amer)
1 dash Orange Bitters (Regan's)

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

Two Saturdays ago, I honed my search for the evening's nightcap to the Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars: 1903-1933 book. There, I spotted the the Raleigh Hotel that reminded me a little of a Brooklyn in structure. The cocktail could be named after the hotel in Washington, D.C., that was well known for serving superb Gin Rickeys and Mint Juleps on its great mahogany bar during the book's era. Unfortunately, the hotel was razed, and the book provided no information about the drink name's inspiration.
Like a Mint Julep, the Raleigh Hotel greeted the senses with a mint and Bourbon aroma. Next, malt and white grape on the sip led into whiskey and dark orange flavors on the swallow with a minty and barrel-aged noted finish.

Friday, December 28, 2018

golden brown

1 1/2 oz Bonal Gentiane-Quina
3/4 oz Rye Whiskey (Old Overholt)
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Cinnamon Syrup
1 dash Angostura Bitters
1 Egg White

Shake once without and once with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with a lemon twist and freshly grated cinnamon.
After work two Fridays ago, I sought out the Haus Alpenz website for a recipe to make that evening. There, I was entranced by the Golden Brown created at Buffalo's Angelica Tea Room for it called for a base of Bonal Quinquina in an egg white Sour. Once prepared, the Golden Brown shared a lemon and cinnamon nose that preceded a creamy lemon and grape sip. Next, rye, grape, herbal, and cinnamon flavors rounded out this Sour that was well matched for the colder weather.

bobby bruins

1 1/2 oz Glenlivet Founder's Reserve Scotch
1 1/2 oz L.N. Mattei Cap Corse Blanc Quinquina
1/4 oz Drambuie

Stir with ice, strain into a Nick & Nora glass, and garnish with a lemon twist.
Two Thursdays ago, I slid from working the main bar at Nahita to the backroom Fenix speakeasy to make drinks for some guests. There, I recognized one of the guests as having dined at the bar earlier, and he was enjoying an older Macallan Single Malt, and as we got to talking, he mentioned that he was looking for a cocktail to follow that up. The previous week, I had tasted the Cap Corse Blanc Quinquina that we have in that backroom, and I noted that its mineral, fruit, and savory aspects would work rather well with Scotch or agave. To keep things simple to pay respect to the Scotch I was pairing it with, I took things in a Bobby Burns direction with a touch of Drambuie for some honey and herbal notes. For a name, I dubbed this one the Bobby Bruins as a tribute to #4, Bobby Orr of the Boston Bruins. Overall, the end result was delightfully soft yet complex with citrus and quinine accents.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

bark & bite

1 oz Flor de Caña 4 Year Rum (Uruapan Charanda Blanco)
1 oz Lillet Blanc (Cocchi Americano)
1 oz Zucca Rabarbaro (Sfumato)

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with a lemon twist.
After work two Thursdays ago, I selected a few volumes of The Cocktail Hour series and landed on the Bark & Bite in the rum one. This recipe was crafted by Jordan Felix at Clyde Common in Portland, Oregon, and it appeared like an intriguing spin on a Rum Negroni. Once prepared, the Bark & Bite offered up a bright lemon aroma that countered dark, smoky, and herbaceous notes from the Sfumato on the nose. Next, a peachy sip from the Cocchi Americano slipped into funky rum melding into the return of smoky herbal elements on the swallow.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

swagger

1 oz Gin (Tanqueray)
1/2 oz Dubonnet Rouge (Byrrh Quinquina)
1/2 oz Zucca Rabarbaro (Sfumato)
1/2 oz Grapefruit Juice

Shake with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with a lime wedge (omit).
Two Wednesdays ago, I reached for the Canon Cocktail Book and spotted the Swagger that I had skipped over previously for lacking a Rabarbaro at home. With Sfumato in hand, I set to work, and the Swagger offered up the amaro's smoky, bitter herbal aromas to the nose. Next, grape and grapefruit were countered by a dark note from the Sfumato on the sip, and the swallow began with gin that led into a grape-softened smoky bitterness.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

latin quarter

2 oz Zacapa 23 Rum
1 tsp Cane Sugar Syrup (JM Sirop de Canne)
3 dash Peychaud's Bitters
1 dash Angostura Bitters
1 dash Bittermens Mole Bitters

Stir with ice, strain into a double old fashioned glass pre-rinsed with absinthe (Butterfly), and garnish with lemon oil from a twist.

Two Tuesdays ago, I was flipping through the Death & Co. Cocktail Book when I came upon the Latin Quarter in the Sazerac variation section. This house original was crafted by Joaquin Simo in 2003, and I once was served this at Eastern Standard circa 2008 but it came across as too sweet when the bartender swapped rum into their house Sazerac recipe of 2 oz spirit to 1 oz simple syrup. While I later had Sazeracs in New Orleans that utilized that proportion (perhaps balanced that way to make it more refreshing in the Southern climate), it came across as way too sweet and undrinkable with a rum like Zacapa as opposed to the dry 90 proof rye they ordinarily make the classic with. Therefore, I was game to try it again with several fold less sugar in the equation (and akin to the D-Day Rum Sazerac).
The Latin Quarter greeted the nose with a lemon, floral, caramel, and anise aroma. Next, the rum's sweet caramel filled the sip, and the swallow showcased more of the caramel rum flavors along with chocolate, clove, allspice, and anise accents.

Monday, December 24, 2018

alaska from a parallel universe

2 oz Hendrick's Orbium Gin
3/4 oz Yellow Chartreuse
1/4 oz Lustau Palo Cortado Sherry
2 dash Orange Bitters

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with lemon oil from a twist.
After a bit of socializing at the Hendrick's event at the Hawthorne, our group was summoned to experience their new Orbium Gin in the side room. Our boarding pass of sorts was checked by a clown who was treading on a balance ball all evening, and we were ushered into a well-decorated and surreal room of oddities including a duo of contortionists whose outfits combined into the eye on the Orbium's label when they stood next to each other. Orbium was created by Hendrick's distiller Lesley Gracie with quinine, wormwood, and blue lotus blossum extracts in the mix. The concept behind the first two ingredients were to draw parallels to the additional botanicals in two quintessential gin drinks: the G&T and the classic Martini, respectively.
Before the presentation began, we sauntered over to the bar where Jackson Cannon and Amanda Saladino were making cocktails. The one I selected was the Alaska from a Parallel Universe that was true to the Alaska from the Jacques Straub's 1914 Drinks book (calling for Old Tom Gin) and better associated with the 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book (with Dry Gin) save for the addition of Palo Cortado sherry. Even at a quarter ounce, this sherry reshaped the drink greatly. Once served, it greeted the senses with a lemon and herbal bouquet. Next, honey and grape on the sip led into pine notes from the gin along with nutty and acid crispness from the sherry and herbal notes from the Yellow Chartreuse on the swallow with a quinine-tinged finish.

phil collins

1 1/2 oz Hendrick's Gin
3/4 oz Lime Juice
3/4 oz Salted Cucumber Syrup (*)
1/2 oz Yellow Chartreuse
1 dash Sweetgrass Farm Cranberry Bitters (sub Peychaud's in a pinch)

Shake with ice, strain into a Collins glass with ice, and top with 2 oz soda water.
(*) Equal parts strained cucumber juice and sugar. Given how the Hawthorne makes its salted rooibus syrup for the Flip Royal, a little under 1 tsp salt per quart syrup is needed (added to taste). So a pinch of salt or a few drops of 1:4 salt solution would work well here.
Two Mondays ago, Andrea and I were invited to the launch party for Hendrick's Orbium Gin (which I will describe more in the next post) at the Hawthorne. While waiting for our group to enter the side room where the new gin would be introduced, we were greeted by bartender Rob Ficks who presented us with a short menu. The one I selected was the Phil Collins created by Scott Marshall for the opening Hawthorne menu. The one on this menu was a slight riff on Scott's original as described by SeriousEats:
Phil Collins
• 1 1/2 oz Square 1 Cucumber Vodka
• 3/4 oz Lime Juice
• 3/4 oz Simple Syrup
• 1/2 oz Yellow Chartreuse
• 1 dash Cranberry Bitters
Shake with ice, strain into an iced-filled Collins glass, and top with soda water.
In the glass, the Phil Collins proffered a cucumber and lime aroma to the nose. Next, a carbonated lime, vegetal, and honey sip slid into juniper, cucumber, and herbal flavors on the swallow. Indeed, the cucumber and Yellow Chartreuse paired here excellently as they have in the Disco Nap, Down at the Dinghy, and Forbidden Colors.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

good morning vietnam

1/2 oz Cruzan Blackstrap Rum
1 oz Licor 43
3/4 oz Passion Fruit Syrup
3/4 oz Lime Juice
3/4 oz Buttered Coffee (*)

Flash blend with crushed ice, pour into a Collins glass, fill with crushed ice, and garnish with mint, an edible orchid, and a pinch of ground coffee bean.
(*) I did not inquire for details, but the bottle was murky yellow, so perhaps 1/2+ tsp butter melted into the 3/4 oz coffee used here would suffice.

The drink that Andrea got at the Baldwin Bar at Sichuan Garden II was the Good Morning Vietnam. The drink had been on the menu for quite a while, and bartender Nika Orlovsky commented that this was the third recipe variation on the drink name. Since I have seen Licor 43 pair excellently with passion fruit in drinks like the Permanent Holiday and the Foul Weather Friend, I was intrigued to have a taste. Also, all the brightness from those two ingredients seemed like it would be countered by the dark blackstrap rum and roasted coffee flavors.
The mint bouquet took over the nose on the drink that preceded a lime and passion fruit-driven sip. Next, the dark rum, coffee, vanilla, citrus, and passion fruit flavors combined into a tropical dance on the swallow.

the navigator

1 oz Bacardi 8 Year Rum
1 oz Rainwater Madeira
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1/4 oz Giffard Apricot Liqueur
1/2 oz Simple Syrup

Shake with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with a lemon twist and an edible orchid flower.
Two Sundays ago, we returned from an afternoon of outlet shopping in Kittery, Maine, and beer drinking at the SoMe taproom, and we stopped into the Baldwin Bar at Sichuan Garden II for dinner. For a drink, I asked bartender Nika Orlovsky for the Navigator. With a fortified wine overlap with the other Navigator on the blog, I assumed that this was a tribute to Prince Henry the Navigator who claimed the island of Madeira for Portugal in the 15th century. Once served, this Navigator proffered floral and lemon aromas from the garnishes that led into a caramel, grape, and lemon sip. Next, the aged rum mingled with a floral apricot flavor on the swallow. Overall, it was a delightful tipple that reminded me a little of the Scofflaw in build style.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

pop quiz

2 oz Elijah Craig Bourbon (Fighting Cock 103)
1/2 oz Amaro Ramazzotti
1 tsp Simple Syrup
2 dash Bittermens Mole Bitters

Stir with ice, strain into an old fashioned glass with a large ice cube, and garnish with an orange twist.
For my nightcap two Saturdays ago, I turned to the Old Fashioned section of the Cocktail Codex book. There, I locked on to Devin Tarby's 2010 Pop Quiz that fell into that Fancy Free style of liqueur-sweetened Old Fashioneds. Once mixed, the Pop Quiz donated orange, Bourbon, and cola aromas to the nose. Next, malt and caramel on the sip gave way to Bourbon, root beer, and chocolate notes on the swallow.

Friday, December 21, 2018

minstrel

3/4 Bacardi (1 3/4 oz Angostura White Oak Rum)
2 dash Lime Juice (1/2 oz)
1 dash Jamaican Rum (1/4 oz Smith & Cross)
1 dash Picon (1/4 oz Torani Amer)
(+ 1/2 oz Simple Syrup for balance)

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

After a busy Friday night at work, I reached for Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars: 1903-1933 when I got home. There in the rum section was the Minstrel that appeared like an embittered Daiquiri, and a Daiquiri Time Out sounded perfect. Trader Vic was big on utilizing Amer Picon in his rhum rhapsodies like the Philippine Punch and Kahala Cooler, and that motivated me to work it into a Brooklyn-inspired Pago Pago called the Fagatogo; however, this recipe pre-dated the Tiki movement.
The Minstrel began with a caramel, orange, and lime nose with a touch of rum funk. Next, lime with a hint of caramel on the sip transitioned into funky rum swallow leading to an orange finish.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

turf war

1 1/2 oz London Dry Gin (Beefeater)
3/4 oz Punt e Mes
1/4 oz Maraschino Liqueur (Luxardo)
2 dash Orange Bitters (Regan's)

Stir with ice, strain into an absinthe-rinsed (St. George) old fashioned glass with a large cube, and garnish with a flamed lemon twist (unflamed).

After work two Thursdays ago, I decided to make a drink I had spotted on BarNotes app called the Turf War. It was the first cocktail creation by Tulsa bartender T. Read Richards, and by the name and the ingredients, it appeared to be inspired by the classic Turf Club Cocktail. The Turf Club first appeared in George J. Kappeler's 1895 Modern American Drinks that is more of an Old Tom gin Old Fashioned of sorts, but the one that stuck was the one recorded by Harry McElhone in his 1922 ABC of Mixing Cocktails that is very similar to the 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book's Tuxedo Cocktail No. 2 (the differences are whether the modifiers are 1 dash or 2). Here, the dry vermouth in the Turf War was swapped to Punt e Mes (the Turf War in the Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book called for sweet vermouth though) in a 2:1 instead of 1:1 gin to aromatized wine ratio, and the absinthe was moved to a rinse.
The Turf War greeted the senses with a lemon, anise, and grape bouquet. Next, grape with a hint of cherry on the sip slid into juniper and bitter cherry flavors on the swallow.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

year of the dragon

3/4 oz Cynar
3/4 oz Benedictine
1 oz Bonal Gentiane-Quina (Byrrh would also work well here)
1/4 oz Crème de Menthe (Tempus Fugit)
1/4 oz Crème de Cacao (Tempus Fugit)

Stir with ice, strain into an old fashioned glass with a large ice cube, and garnish with a lemon twist.

Two Wednesdays ago, I was flipping through the Death & Co. Cocktail Book when I spotted the Midnight Mountain. I soon remembered that I had made the drink back in June, but I was so taken by the combination that I was inspired to riff on it. The Midnight Mountain has a base of Amaro Nardini which to me displays great chocolate and mint notes in the mix. To replace it, I split that volume between Benedictine which also displays those two flavors and Cynar which has some dark and minty notes as well. Moreover, instead of a sweet vermouth, I swapped in Bonal Quinquina for quinine and chocolate are a natural pairing that was strong enough to have saved Barolo Chinato wine from extinction. Since Midnight Mountain is a land in the Year of the Dragon video game, I dubbed this variation on the game itself.
With four liqueurs and one fortified wine, the Year of the Dragon appears like an oddity on paper, but it made for a solid nightcap. In the glass, it offered up lemon and mint aromas to the nose that preceded a caramel and grape sip. Next, Cynar's funky vegetal flavors led into mint and chocolate notes on the swallow with a quinine-accented finish.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

corpse carre

1 1/2 oz Cognac (Courvoisier VS)
3/4 oz Apple Brandy (Boulard VSOP Calvados)
3/4 oz Sweet Vermouth (Cocchi)
1/4 oz Benedictine
2 dash Peychaud's Bitters

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with a lemon twist.

I recently discussed with a bartender how uninspiring the Corpse Reviver No. 1 is from the Savoy Cocktail Book for it is a non-bittered two brandy Manhattan. I soon thought about how the Saratoga Cocktail from Jerry Thomas' 1862 tome was delightful, but how adding Benedictine and Peychaud's Bitters supercharged it into the Vieux Carré that people order all the time. Therefore, I wondered if the same magic would work on the Corpse Reviver No. 1? I believe my answer is yes! And I dubbed this hybrid the Corpse Carré, and there is a famous Square of the Dead in Marrakech, so the name is not so out there.
The Corpse Carré donated a lemon aroma along with fruity notes from the brandies to the nose, and this preceded a grape-driven sip. Next, Cognac leading into apple brandy on the swallow was followed by the apple brandy blending into the Benedictine herbal and Peychaud's spice flavors. Indeed, the Benedictine addition helped to tie together the flavors here, and the bitters provided a much needed structure.

Monday, December 17, 2018

duke of braganza

1 3/4 oz Cachaça (Seleta Gold)
3/4 oz Lillet Blanc or Cocchi Americano (Cocchi Americano)
1/2 oz Drambiue
2 dash Peychaud's Bitters

Stir with ice, strain into an old fashioned glass pre-rinsed with absinthe or Herbsaint (Herbsaint), and garnish with grapefruit oil from a twist.

Two Mondays ago, I made eye contact with my bottle of Drambuie and I thought about the Prince Edward and the tequila variation that Misty Kalkofen made for me at Drink. When I began to consider what other spirits would work, I recalled how my Madame Mustache was originally crafted with cachaça before I turned it into a rhum agricole number in honor of the birthday of the person running that industry night. Instead of dropping in cachaça and calling it a day, I recalled how well an Amburana-aged cachaça worked in Sazerac, and I exchanged the Angostura and orange bitters for Peychaud's Bitters and an absinthe rinse. For a name, I sought out a famous prince of Brazil, and I learned that the Portuguese title was also known as the Duke of Braganza.
The Duke of Braganza offered up a floral aroma from the grapefruit oil mingling with the Herbsaint's anise and the cachaça's funk. Next, honey, peach, and malt notes on the sip carried a noticeable amount of body, and the swallow began with grassy, funky, and herbal flavors and ended with an anise finish.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

adelita

1 oz Reposado Tequila (Cimarron)
1 oz Dolin Blanc Vermouth
1 oz Cocchi Americano
1 bsp Rothman & Winter Crème de Violette

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with a lemon wheel (lemon twist).
Two Sundays ago, I returned to the Haus Alpenz recipe collection and spotted the Adelita that called for three of their products that I already owned. The bonus was that it was created by Carrie Cole while she was at the Hawthorne in Boston which would put it around 2013; the combination also reminded me of her Bird Bath at Craigie on Main even though there is only one ingredient in overlap. La Adelita is a famous narrative song about the Mexican Revolution that became the term for a female soldiers who were vital in overturning the government. Once stirred and strained, the Adelita shared lemon, violet, and a slightly peachy bouquet to the nose. Next, white grape was accented by nectarine notes on the sip, and the swallow showcased tequila with herbal flavors blending into sharper floral ones.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

artichoke hold

2 oz Bourbon (Wild Turkey 101)
1/4 oz Cynar
1/4 oz Maraschino Liqueur (Luxardo)
2-3 dash Orange Bitters (Regan's)

Stir with ice, strain into an old fashioned glass with fresh ice, and garnish with an orange twist.

A few weeks ago, I had spotted a recipe in Imbibe Magazine online called the Artichoke Hold, but I paused on it for it shared the same name with Jeremy Oertel's drink. Then two Saturday nights ago, I was in the mood for a nightcap, and this Old Fashioned-like number seemed perfect enough for the moment to override my hesitations. Actually, it reminded me more of a Fancy Free with perhaps the Cynar subbing in for the classic's Angostura or a Bensonhurst without the dry vermouth. Therefore, I gave this creation of Steven Tuttle of Kettner Exchange in San Diego a whirl.
This Artichoke Hold offered up orange and nutty cherry notes to the nose that led into malt and a hint of cherry on the sip. Next, Bourbon was accented by nutty cherry melding with funky herbal flavors on the swallow. Overall, my choice of Wild Turkey 101 made for a hot and aggressive drink until there was more dilution from ice melt with time.

Friday, December 14, 2018

the sex lives of cannibals

1 oz Dark Jamaican Rum (Coruba)
1 oz Aged Demerara Rum (El Dorado 5 Year)
1 1/2 oz Pineapple Juice
1/2 oz Coffee Liqueur (Kahlua)
1/2 oz Campari
1/2 oz Lemon Juice

Whip shake, pour into a Tiki mug, fill with crushed ice, "float" 1/4 oz allspice dram (Hamilton's), and garnish with freshly grated coffee bean.

Two Fridays ago, I thought about the pairing of coffee and Campari in cocktails like the Lodge Negroni and Lonnie Desoto. Soon my mind wandered towards combining two hallmark Tiki drinks that contain one or the other of those ingredients, namely the Mr. Bali Hai and the Jungle Bird, respectively. Given that there is overlap with rums and pineapple juice in the two libations, the only deciding factor was which citrus to use in the mashup; I opted for the lemon from the Mr. Bali Hai so as to keep a more neutral flavored acid source. Since allspice dram complements Campari in recipes like the Chester Rapkin and Negroni Grog and complements coffee such as in the 1919'36, I added it in as a top layer to cascade down through the crushed ice.
Instead of mashing up the names akin to the Mr. Bali Bird or other, I wanted something colorful and abstract like The Facts Concerning the Late Van Hagen & The Thirsty Man's Safari (but perhaps not quite so long), and I landed upon the The Sex Lives of Cannibals which was a travelogue by J. Maarten Troost about his time in the South Pacific. Once prepared, the drink greeted the nose with allspice and coffee aromas. Next, lemon, dark roast notes from the coffee, and a hint of pineapple filled the sip, and the swallow presented dark funky rums, coffee, and orange flavors with allspice notes entering the mix as the liqueur sank through the ice to get to the straw. Here, the Campari came across as less intensely bitter and more dark similar to the feel of Amer Picon.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

one more that's it

1 oz Meletti Amaro
1 1/4 oz Four Roses Bourbon
3/4 oz El Dorado 8 Year Rum (El Dorado 5 Year)
2 dash Mole Bitters (Bittermens)

Stir with ice, strain into a rocks glass with ice, and garnish with an orange twist.
For a nightcap two Thursdays prior, I sought out the Brooklyn Bartender book where I found the One More That's It attributed to Rob Krueger of Extra Fancy. Once built, this rum-whiskey Black Manhattan-like drink donated a orange, caramel, and violet bouquet to the nose. Next, the amaro's caramel filled the sip, and the swallow proffered Bourbon, rum, and bitter herbal flavors.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

island time

2 oz Rhum Agricole (Rhum Clement Premiere Canne)
3/4 Zucca Rabarbo (Sfumato)
1 oz Lime Juice
1 dash Scrappy's Lime Bitters

Whip shake with ice and pour into a double old fashioned with pebbled ice (shake with ice and strain into a cocktail coupe).
Two Wednesdays ago, I reached for Sother Teague's I'm Just Here for the Drinks and took note of the Island Time as a weird smoky Rhum Sour of sorts. Sother described his creation as "It's a lot like drinking a Daiquiri while enjoying a cigar." After having enjoyed the Sfumato Swizzle, it seemed up my alley. In the glass, the Chinese rhubarb in the amaro offered up a smoky element to counter the brighter grassy and lime aromas on the nose. Next, lime and dark earthy flavors on the sip transitioned into grassy, smoky, and bitter notes on the swallow.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

lake city quiet pill

1 1/4 oz Amontillado Sherry (Lustau)
3/4 oz Cynar
1/2 oz Laphroaig 10 Year Scotch
1/2 oz Tempus Fugit Crème de Cacao

Stir with ice, strain into a double old fashioned glass with a large ice cube, and garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.

Two Tuesdays ago, I decided to make a relatively low proof nightcap that Christine Fernsebner Eslao had posted on her Instagram a month or two before. Christine provided the recipe for the Lake City Quiet Pill that the bartenders at Backbar served her, and I believe that it was one of their creations; indeed, commenters on Instagram and on here have pointed out that it was the handiwork of Backbar bartender (now at Brick & Mortar) Amanda Greenfield. The drink name refers to the conspiracy theories regarding website-driven hitmen for hire; these tales of private assassination are best summed up by the mini-FAQ on a sub-Reddit LakeCityQuietPills that declares, "Some think they are a group of men and women operating as assassins through channels online. Others think they could be former military or contractors who like to keep in touch via unorthodox ways and some simply think it is a long-played hoax. And me? I don't know... that's why I created this subreddit. I want to know the answer to the who, what, where, why and when of Lake City Quiet Pills." Regardless, Scotch and Cynar have worked well in drinks like the Black Diamond Flip, Scotch and cacao in the Lord Bullingdon's Revenge, and Cynar and cacao in the Avenue A, so it seemed perfect with the fourth ingredient of sherry.
The Lake City Quiet Pill provided a woody spice and peat smoke nose that led into grape, malt, and darker notes from the cacao or Cynar on the sip. Next, smoky Scotch, caramel, and chocolate-herbal flavors rounded out the swallow. Hopefully, this quiet pill can lead to no harm now and in the future.

Monday, December 10, 2018

:: the need for a mentor ::

First published on the USBG National blog in July 2018; slightly adapted version here.

Throughout my bartending career I have frequently felt the need for a mentor. Usually this feeling is when I am approaching a crossroads or perhaps merely sensing the need for change and improvement, and a mentor seems like the easy out where someone will swoop down and tell me which direction to go. I have had many mentors throughout my bartending career, but none of them actually told me what path to take. Most of them were rather good at one or a few aspects of the trade and were willing to correct what they saw wrong, give advice when asked, or listen to my complaints and suggest ways of handling the problems. Countless times, these mentors did not even realize that they were teaching for I was observing their methods. Indeed, I have had mentors in how to welcome guests, how to patch up a bad moment and turn it into a good experience, how to deal with difficult coworkers and not be a dick; how to cut people off and kick people out with grace, etc. Many of the ones that I learned from excelled in only one or two things in my eyes, but they did that aspect of the job exceptionally well. Some I worked with (or for), but many that I learned from were my bartender and I their guest.

I recently watched an episode of Erick Castro's Bartender at Large series where he interviewed Giuseppe Gonzalez that hit on this topic. It was not even mentioned in the teaser description of the video, and I tuned into this one for I had met Giuseppe at my first Tales of the Cocktail in 2009 and bonded over the fact that we were both biology majors at the same university only a few years apart. I reconnected with him years later on Facebook after reading one of his long, opinionated rants and felt that I ought not miss more of what this man had to say.

As their banter drifted from bartenders who cannot think on their own for how to reinterpret drinks from the written recipe to taste better (or perhaps they shift the character of the drink too far to still be called the same thing), and Giuseppe got on the topic of mentoring. To wrap things up, Erick asked him for advice on how bartenders should create their own drink specs and riffs. In the last four minutes of the episode, Giuseppe griped that his workers complain to him after six months that they are not being mentored, and he explained that it is the [expletive] job. Giuseppe explained that Dale Degroff did not have a mentor – he just did it. True, Audrey Saunders was mentored by Dale, but she was independent and did both the research and the work herself as well. Giuseppe commands us to stop looking for mentorship. He suggests things: pick up a book, talk to peers, do the research, and grab bottles and experiment. Things come through work, repetition, and time. A bartender does not get that good from reading a book alone, but by holding down the job for years. Learn to listen and observe so as to do the job better over time.

At this point in my career, I am less looking for guidance in how to do the basics of the job, and more in which direction to take. While some bartenders have the advantage of well-connected bosses who set them up with the next leg of their career, most of us do not, and must rely on associates who relate needs and job openings, or perhaps utilize job boards for what is available. No one can answer the questions of what is the right next step for a person, but sometimes asking and looking around can show the opportunities and directions that exist. All too often, young bartenders hop from job to job without figuring out how to make themselves fit in better at the current spot. The continual hopping every few months inhibits the learning and growth that would likely make them better bartenders in the end. As Giuseppe proffers, hunker down and do the job and learn to do it better by repetition and adaptation.

This is not to say that one should not be on the look out for teachers, but it will often not be as formal as school (save for the first job, the first nights at a new position, or perhaps Barsmarts and similar classes). More likely, it will be from tinkering and figuring out things first hand or from observing someone doing something better and learning second hand and perhaps following up with asking questions or advice. Moreover, when the time comes, the favor should be repaid whether by offering sagacity or being willing to provide it. Becoming the bartender, bar manager, or owner with humility that people will seek out for guidance is definitely a solid end point in one's development.

Bartending in the 19th century was taught solely by apprenticeship. The 1860s saw the first bar books to come out, but it was not until Harry Johnson's 1888 bar manual that there were well laid out written instructions on how to do one's job better. These days, there are lots more books, articles, seminars, and videos to supplement the career growth that is earned the old fashioned way: on the job. One ought to utilize every avenue available; however, only some of the bartender's wisdom can be taught by a formal mentor. Determining the career path and when and where to move to still have to come from within to make sure that they are the right steps. The best that one can do is to try to take in as much knowledge from as many sources as possible and integrate them into how to improve at one's trade.

ninety-nine roses

1 1/2 oz London Dry Gin (Tanqueray)
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Apricot Liqueur (Combier)
1/2 oz Ginger Syrup

Shake with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with 5 drops of rose water (Mustapha's).
For the cocktail hour two Mondays before, I delved into the Brooklyn Bartender book and spotted the Ninety-Nine Roses. The recipe was created by Jonathan Kobritz at the Hotel Delmano, and the combination of apricot and ginger reminded me of the Queen Anne's Revenge. In the glass, the rose water in the Ninety-Nine Roses dominated the nose. Next, lemon and hints of orchard fruit on the sip preceded the gin, apricot, and ginger swallow along with a perfume-y rose finish.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

quebec

2/3 Rye Whiskey (1 3/4 oz Old Overholt)
1 dash Apricot Brandy (1/2 oz Combier)
1/3 Grapefruit (3/4 oz)
1 dash Orange Bitters (Regan's)

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass; I added a grapefruit twist.
Two Sundays ago, I ventured into Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars: 1903-1933 for a glossed over gem. There, I spotted the Quebec that reminded me of the Polly's Special and the perhaps the Blinker given the whisk(e)y, grapefruit, and sweetener combination. Once shaken and strained, the Quebec proffered an apricot and grapefruit nose that came across as both floral and tropical. Next, grapefruit and malt with a hint of orchard fruit on the sip gave way to rye and apricot on the swallow with a touch of tartness from the grapefruit.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

bananarac

1 oz Pierre Ferrand 1840 Cognac (Courvoisier VS)
1 oz Old Overholt Rye
1/2 oz Giffard Banane du Bresil
1/2 tsp Demerara Syrup

Stir with ice, strain into an old fashioned glass pre-rinsed with Pernod Absinthe, and garnish with lemon oil from a twist.

For a nightcap two Saturdays ago, I opened up the Cocktail Codex book and spotted the Bananarac on my list of drinks to make. This 2014 recipe from Natasha David reminded me of the pineapple rum Stigginserac I had last year, but here the tropical notes stemmed from crème de banana as the sweetener instead of from the spirit. All of the Sazerac components were there save for bitters (other than the absinthe), and the spirits were in the "New York Sazerac" style of equal parts cognac and rye whiskey. One recipe that I found online via Liquor.com did include a dash of aromatic bitters as well as Armagnac as the brandy.
The Bananarac donated lemon, banana, and anise notes to the nose in a tropical way. Next, malt and a vague fruit flavor on the sip transitioned to rye, Cognac, and banana on the swallow with a light anise finish.

Friday, December 7, 2018

mexicano

2 oz Añejo Tequila (Cimarron Reposado)
3/4 oz Blanc Vermouth (Dolin)
1/2 oz Cynar
2 dash Mole Bitters (Bittermens)

Stir with ice, strain into a double old fashioned glass with ice, and garnish with a grapefruit twist.
Two Fridays ago, I uncovered the Mexicano in the Shakestir archives that was crafted by Gina Kent at the Soho House in West Holywood in 2014. I met Gina back in 2015 when I attended the same Camp Runamok session, so I was curious to give one of her recipes a try. With tequila and Cynar in the mix, it was seemed like a win akin to the Augie March and Luna de Cosecha. Once stirred and strained, the Mexicano gave forth a grapefruit and agave aroma with a darker note from either the Cynar or molé bitters. Next, a white wine sip with a hint of caramel gave way to tequila flavors blending into the funky Cynar ones on the swallow along with a chocolate finish.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

affaire de familia

1 oz Byrrh Grand Quinquina
1 oz Hayman's London Dry Gin (Beefeater)
1 oz Cocchi Americano
2 dash Maraschino (1/4 oz Luxardo)
2 dash Orange Bitters (Regan's)

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with a lemon twist.

Two Thursdays ago, I was perusing the Haus Alpenz site for drink ideas and spotted the Affaire de Familia that was an unattributed recipe; given the name and the fact that the three main ingredients are from their portfolio, it might be a Haus Alpenz original. With the gin and fortified wine accented with dashes of Maraschino and bitters, it has the makings of a Martinez especially the wine-heavy 1:2 Jerry Thomas era recipe. However, the quinquina in the mix made me recall the Marliave's Cocktail from Louis Mixed Drinks that I surmise was created at the Marliave in Boston a little over a decade before it turned into a speakeasy during Prohibition.
Once prepared, the Affaire de Familia shared a lemon, nutty, and red grape nose. Next, the red grape continued on into the sip where it was joined by a hint of cherry from the Maraschino, and this was followed by gin, nutty, and herbal notes on the swallow. Perhaps, a barspoon of Maraschino would work better here for most palates, but alas, I am a fan of the liqueur.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

globetrotter

1 1/2 oz Banks 7 Island Rum (Denizen Merchant's Reserve)
1 oz Meletti Amaro
1 oz Lustau Oloroso Sherry

Stir with ice, strain into an old fashioned glass with a large ice cube, and garnish with an orange twist.
Two Wednesdays ago, I was flipping through Frank Caiafa's The Waldorf Astoria Bar Book and spotted the Globetrotter that appeared like a rum Negroni-like number akin to the Blood of My Enemies. Here, the alternative amaro and fortified wine elements were Meletti and sherry, and that combination seemed like it would hit the spot. Once prepared, the Globetrotter greeted the nose with caramel, grape, and orange aromas. Next, caramel and grape mingled on the sip, and the swallow offered rum, nutty sherry, and herbal complexity. No great surprises here, but the Globetrotter definitely made for a solid nightcap.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

lush interlude

1 oz Amaro Sfumato
1 oz Aged Rum (Diplomatico Añejo)
3/4 oz Lime
1/2 oz Cognac Orange Liqueur (Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao)
1/4 oz 2:1 Demerara Syrup (1/2 oz 1:1)

Shake with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with an orange twist.
Two Tuesdays ago, I delved back into the Haus Alpenz site and pulled out a Sfumato-laden Daiquiri/Rum Sidecar of sorts called the Lush Interlude. The recipe was crafted by Braden LaGrone when he was at The Cure in New Orleans; my research suggests that his tenure there ranged from 2014-2016, and I had a chance to try his Like Cockatoos when I visited the bar in 2015. Once prepared, the Lush Interlude welcomed the senses with orange, dark herbal, and smoke aromas. Next, lime, orange, and a woody note on the sip gave way to smoky herbal rum, and orange flavors on the swallow. Overall, Sfumato paired well with orange liqueur as the similar rabarbaro Zucca did in the Take on Me and the The 47%.

Monday, December 3, 2018

damasco

1 1/2 oz Añejo Tequila (Cimarron Reposado)
1/2 oz Aged Rum (Privateer Navy Yard)
3/4 oz Sweet Vermouth (Cocchi)
1/4 oz Apricot Liqueur (Combier)
2 dash Angostura Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a rocks glass with a large ice cube.
Two Mondays ago, I decided to make a recipe that I had spotted in Imbibe Magazine online called the Damasco created by Blaise Faber of Tratto in Phoenix. Overall, it came across as an aged tequila and rum Manhattan of sorts, so I was definitely interested in giving it a go. Once prepared, the Damasco proffered a vegetal agave and allspice bouquet. Next, grape and a hint of orchard fruit on the sip transitioned to vegetal tequila, molasses-based rum, and allspice flavors on the swallow with a clove and apricot finish. On my Instagram post, I discussed with a follower how the rum got a bit lost here and perhaps an aged rhum agricole would complement the tequila (as well as the apricot) better. Moreover, the apricot was a little too much in the background at a quarter ounce, but I felt like a Tequila Manhattan was still a decent sipper.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

innsmouth fogcutter no. 2

1 1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1 oz Orange Juice
1/2 oz Orgeat
1 oz Crème de Cassis (Massenez)
1/2 oz Gin (Tanqueray)
1 1/2 oz Rumfire Overproof White Rum

Whip shake, pour into a Tiki mug, and fill with crushed ice. "Float" a chilled 1/2 oz Cherry Heering + 1/4 oz Maraschino (Luxardo), and garnish with mint.

On the BG Reynold's Tiki Bar group on Facebook, there was a discussion of what to put into a large Tiki mug, namely the Innsmouth Fog Cutter mug at 24 oz. I replied that a standard 14-16 oz mug is perfect for a 4-5 oz build before shaking and filling with crushed ice, so a 24 oz one would work well with a 6-7 oz build. One of the replies was to put the namesake Innsmouth Fogcutter in there which is a 7 oz build plus a 1 1/4 oz float (see below) that was created by the mug designer Jonathan Chaffin of Horrors in Clay. I was curious about that one for it utilized blackberry brandy that had appeared in a few classic Tiki drinks like the Don's Own Grog, the Kamehameha Rum Punch, and the Rum Runner. Later in the thread, someone posted a variation that was originally attributed to Jason Alexander, but alas Jason claimed it was not his creation after I had already posted it on Instagram. The second variation seemed guided by a professional bartender for most bars do not contain blackberry brandy but often do have crème de cassis (although I have a 12 year old bottle of Marie Brizard blackberry brandy in the back recesses of my collection).
Innsmouth is a fictional town in Massachusetts that was invented by horror writer H.P. Lovecraft for a 1936 story. Lovecraft considered his town "a considerably twisted version of Newburyport, [ Massachusetts]." I generally associate Lovecraft with Providence, Rhode Island, which is where his tomb is located, so a connection to Massachusetts albeit fictionally made me intrigued by the recipe. Once prepared, the riff on the Innsmouth Fogcutter shared a mint, cherry, and nutty Maraschino nose. Next, a dark berry note was countered by the crisp lemon on the sip, and the swallow began with funky rum, black currant, and nutty flavors that later gained a medicinal cherry element as the "float" cascaded down to the bottom where the straw end was. The "float" here was much more intense of a flavor shift than the cream sherry one in the classic Fog Cutter. Moreover, the citrus-alcohol heat to sugar ratio was closer to balanced before the liqueurs cascaded down here whereas the classic Fog Cutter is still lemon crisp even after the sweet sherry hits the straw.
Innsmouth Fogcutter #1
• 2 oz Light Rum
• 1/2 oz Plymouth Gin
• 1 oz Blackberry Brandy
• 1 oz Orange Juice
• 2 oz Lemon Juice
• 1/2 oz Orgeat
Whip shake, pour into a Tiki mug, and fill with crushed ice. Float of "Broken Heart": a chilled 1 oz Cherry Heering + 1/4 oz Maraschino mix.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

to the sun

1 1/2 oz Smith & Cross Rum
1/2 oz Apricot Liqueur (Combier)
1/2 oz Velvet Falernum
3/4 oz Lime Juice
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Shake with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with a lime wheel.

A second cocktail that I had spotted on the Haus Alpenz's webpage in the Smith & Cross Rum section was yet another up drink garnished with a lime wheel called the To the Sun. The recipe was posted unattributed, but it seemed like an interesting apricot for orange liqueur Royal Bermuda Yacht Club or Test Pilot. Moreover, the apricot, falernum, and rum trio made me think of the Blackbeard's Ghost and the Mount Pelee.
In the glass, the To the Sun welcomed the senses with rum funk, lime and apricot aromas. Next, lime and orchard fruit on the sip slid into funky rum, clove, and apricot on the swallow. No suprises here, but it was quite enjoyable in a Periodista sort of way.

Friday, November 30, 2018

navy cross cocktail

1 1/2 oz Smith & Cross Rum
3/4 oz Blackstrap Rum (Cruzan)
1/2 oz Velvet Falernum
1/2 oz Pineapple Juice
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/4 oz Allspice Dram (Hamilton's)

Shake with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with a lime wheel. The drink was originally served on crushed ice in a double old fashioned glass.
Two Fridays ago, I decided to try out one of the recipes that I had spotted in the recently updated Haus Alpenz site called the Navy Cross Cocktail. The recipe was crafted by Alexandra Bookless at The Passenger in Washington, DC, and she replied to my Instagram post that she served this on crushed ice as opposed to up as dictated in the Haus Alpenz's directions. Since the combination of rum, pineapple, citrus, and spice has worked so well in drinks like the Jamaican Bobsled and the Piñata, I was definitely excited to give this one a go. Once prepared, the Navy Cross Cocktail greeted the senses with a lime, molasses, and funk nose that led into a molasses, pineapple, and lime sip. Next, the funky rum was complemented by the dark molasses, clove, and allspice swallow with a pineapple and spice finish.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

turnbuckle

1 oz Cynar
3/4 oz Jamaican Rum (1/4 oz each: Smith & Cross, Rumfire, Appleton Reserve)
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Passion Fruit Syrup
1/4 oz Orgeat

Whip shake, pour into a Tiki mug or double old fasioned glass (Tiki mug), fill with crushed ice, and garnish with a mint bouquet and an orchid (mint only).

Two Thursdays ago for the cocktail hour, I turned to a drink that I had spotted on Punch Drinks earlier in the day called the Turnbuckle. The recipe was found in an article showcasing 10 amaro cocktails and was created by bartender Jen Akin of Seattle. She described how, "The nuttiness of the orgeat and the tart fruit from the passion fruit play beautifully with Cynar; [it's] a perfectly balanced bittersweet and tropical cocktail." To me, it reminded me a bit of an embittered Hurricane or perhaps a Manuia given the orgeat in there as well. Moreover, the Cynar in the mix made me think of the Bornean Spiderhunter, Poison Dart, and other drinks, so I was definitely excited to try it out.
To make the Turnbuckle, I had to go into my garden and kick away the freshly fallen snow to find my mint. Luckily, it was still very much alive despite the temperature in the low 20°s earlier that morning. Once prepared, it gave forth a mint, nutty, and caramel bouquet to the nose. Next, the caramel continued on into the sip along with lemon and a hint of passion fruit, and the swallow then presented funky rum and funky herbal flavors that were held together by the passion fruit notes.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

millenial falcon

1 oz Del Maguey Mezcal Vida
1 oz Amaro Nonino
3/4 oz Lustau Amontillado Sherry
1/4 oz Cinnamon Syrup

Stir with ice, strain into a double old fashioned glass with ice, and garnish with orange oil from a twist.

Two Wednesdays ago, I stopped into Backbar for a nightcap on my way home from a food and beer tour of Kendall and Inman Squares. For a drink, I requested the Millenial Falcon from bartender Joseph Habib who claimed that it was a group effort creation. The subtitle "Chewie we're home!" confirmed that it was indeed a Star Wars reference which is a common motif there such as their Admiral Ackbar tribute It's Arrack! (It's a trap!); however, the spelling of Millenial instead of Millenium Falcon got me. I later found the answer on KnowYourMeme that explained that this Han Solo spaceship pun is a macro meme created in 2017 that features a Peregrine Falcon that has various captions "voicing the issues facing Millennials" such as "Not job hopping hurts a career, not the other way around."
Even the cat coaster I was provided looked to me like an abstraction of the Millenium Falcon (cats are yet another theme running amok at Backbar). Once I got the cocktail to my nose, it offered up orange oil and smoke aromas. Next, a caramel and grape sip flew into a smoky mezcal, nutty, orange, and cinnamon swallow. Overall, the balance began a touch sweet for me, but with a little ice melt over time, this problem subsided.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

jet pack

1 1/2 oz Apple Brandy (Laird's Bonded)
1/2 oz Swedish Punsch (Kronan)
1/2 oz Lillet Blanc or Cocchi Americano (Cocchi Americano)
1/4 oz Mezcal (Fidencio)
1/4 oz Amer Picon (Torani Amer)

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail glass (here, a punch cup), and garnish with an orange twist.

Two Tuesdays ago, I thought about the Rocket cocktail that I had uncovered in the Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars: 1903-1933 book. Perhaps it was my spotting the relatively fresh replacement bottle of Swedish punsch on the shelves, but soon I found myself on the Swedish punsch cheat sheet that I had generated last year and my mind began racing. To the classic, I swapped the brandy for apple brandy which seemed like a safe bet. Next, I spotted the Lillet/Cocchi Americano pairing on my cheat sheet and recalled at how well the two did in my Chutes & Ladders inspired off the 1937 Metexa, and I exchanged that for the sweet vermouth. I kept the Amer Picon ingredient constant, but the combination needed another touch (and my retentive side was wondering how to round off a drink that added up to 2 3/4 oz). My cheat sheet had agave spirits and punsch as pairings, and I considered how well smoke and apple go together such as in my apple brandy-mezcal Downtown at Dawn or the All Jacked Up, and I figured that a dash of it would do wonders. The smoky element made me think of Phil Ward's Airbag that got me on the track to dub this Rocket riff the Jet Pack.
The Jet Pack launched off with an orange oil, smoke, and apple aroma. Next, apple cruised in with some of the caramel notes from either the Picon or the punsch on the sip, and the swallow lifted away with apple, smoky agave, tea, and dark orange flavors. Andrea commented that this combination made for a rather Fall-inspired drink.

Monday, November 26, 2018

don't stop me now

1 oz Smith & Cross Rum
1 oz Plantation Rum (Plantation Original Dark)
1 oz Lime Juice
3/4 oz Orgeat
1/2 oz Pineapple Juice
1/4 oz Amaro Nonino (Averna)

Shake with ice, strain into a double old fashioned glass, and fill with crushed ice. Float 1/2 oz Campari, and garnish with an inverted spent half lime shell filled with 1/2 oz absinthe (1/4 oz Pernod Absinthe) and ignited.

The second drink that caught my eye in the Alcohol Professor's Freddie Mercury/Queen cocktail biopic was the Don't Stop Me Now from Nick Brown at the Spaniard in Manhattan. Nick explained, "It feels like 'Don't Stop Me Now' should be a Tiki, in-your-face sort of drink, flaming and red like the rocket ship on its way to Mars in the song." In order to show off the drink's layers, I opted for a double rocks glass instead of the Tiki mug that the rest of the ingredients screamed out for.
The Don't Stop Me Now greeted the senses with a funky rum and nutty orgeat nose from below and lime oil and anise aromas from the extinguished garnish above. I ended up shooting the lower proof absinthe instead of mixing it in for fear that it would dominate the profile. Next, a creamy lime sip gave way to funky rum, nutty, pineapple, and bitter orange flavors on the swallow. Overall, the drink reminded me of a complex Mai Tai such as the Bitter Maita'i.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

rough seas

3/4 oz Ginger Syrup
3/4 oz Orgeat
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1 oz Jagermeister
1 oz Cachaça (Seleta Gold)
1 heavy dash Peychaud's Bitters

Whip shake, pour into a Swizzle glass (Tiki mug), and fill with pebbled ice. Garnish with additional Peychaud's Bitters (omit) and a spent half lime (lemon) shell filled with rum and ignited (El Dorado 151).

For a liquidy treat Sunday night two weeks ago, I reached for Sother Teague's I'm Just Here for the Drinks and spotted the Rough Seas. The recipe was one that he crafted for a Tiki by the Sea event in Wildwood, New Jersey, at one of the years previous to the one I attended in 2018, and it utilized the sponsor's Avua Cachaça and one of Sother's favorite liqueurs, Jagermeister. The cachaça-Jagermeister pairing was one that I was familiar with after making the Rio Grande Sour last year.
The Rough Seas shared cachaça funk and nutty orgeat to the nose over diesel aromas of the El Dorado 151 in the garnish (once extinguished). Next, lemon balanced the liqueur's caramel on the sip, and the swallow proffered a funky spirit, nutty orgeat, and ginger swallow with additional spice elements from the Jagermeister to add a bit of complexity.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

ginger rogers

1 oz Gosling's Black Seal Rum
1 oz Hine H Cognac (Camus VS)
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
3/4 oz Ginger Syrup
1/2 oz Simple Syrup
1 dash Peychaud's Bitters

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail coupe (split into two glasses here).
Two Saturdays ago, I selected the Cocktail Codex book as a source for the night's libation. There, I spotted Brian Miller's 2011 Ginger Rogers; the drink name sounded familiar but I was confusing it with the Ginger Baker Fizz. Once prepared, the Ginger Rogers shared a dark rum and ginger nose. Next, a caramel lemon sip gave way to brandy and rum flavors on the swallow with a ginger spiced finish.

Friday, November 23, 2018

scream, dracula, scream

1 1/2 oz Buffalo Trace Bourbon (Old Grand-Dad Bonded)
1 1/2 oz Averna
1 tsp Green Chartreuse
2 dash Peychaud's Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail coupe.
Two Fridays ago, I was perusing the ShakeStir recipe database when I spotted Colin Shearn's 2014 Black Manhattan-like Scream, Dracula, Scream. Instead of the Black Manhattan itself, Colin was inspired to make an autumnal Stinger riff, and he dubbed this after the Rocket From the Crypt album from 1995. The only Rocket from the Crypt album that I own is their 1993 "Circa: Now" release, and I had a chance to see them in concert at the Middle East in 1994, so the tribute intrigued me. Once built the Scream, Dracula, Scream gave forth a caramel and Green Chartreuse herbal bouquet to the nose. Next, caramel and malt on the sip led into Bourbon, minty, and herbal flavors on the swallow which did support the idea of a Whiskey Stinger. When I had a whiskey, Chartreuse, and Averna combination at Drink in my inaugural visit in 2008, it came across more as a rich Green Point (well, the way John Gertsen used to make them with Green instead of Yellow Chartreuse), but the proportions there were much more Chartreuse forward there than Colin's concept.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

:: the art of the cut-off ::

First published on the USBG National blog in August 2017; slightly adapted version here.

During Tales of the Cocktail 2017, my friends from a public relations firm introduced me to one of their co-workers at their event. In speaking with her, it turns out that she was also a burgeoning bartender and we got on the topic of how to cut off guests and deal with unruly customers. At my first bar job, I had several mentors. Of those, one duo taught me an opposite skill set: Jay was an expert on welcoming people and fixing blunders, while Adam was an expert at cutting people off and getting people to go. Adam's second job was at a dive bar where it was necessary to do things right the first time especially given the muscular, blue-collared nature of many of their clientele. While I am no master of this skillset, and cutting people off at most of my later jobs was rather infrequent (save for one during 2018 where it was a little too frequent), I figured that I would share my thoughts since I have seen this question pop up on Facebook and Reddit frequently.

I divide the strategy into two parts: the proactive and the reactive.

Sometimes it is tough to be proactive since people can go from zero to sixty rather quickly, or perhaps they were not on your radar due to the crowd (or if their friends were bringing them drinks, or they were drinking at another of the establishment's bar stations).

The preemptive or proactive techniques start once you notice someone going down that path a little too fast, but most importantly, before they ask for that next drink to which you will have to say no. No one likes to get denied, so avoiding that confrontation and their potential embarrassment is what these techniques focus on.

The first of these is The Pause.

The pause is any technique that gets a nonalcoholic beverage into people's hands instead of an alcoholic one. At one New Orleans craft beer bar during the day, they got a lot of townie locals and there I saw the Water Time-Out. When I had problems with townie guests, Adam's advice was to scold them like kids; they respond best to it. Some guests look to you as their parents and they do not want to risk losing access to the treats. At this beer bar, any time one of their tipsy patrons wanted to switch to beer again, the bartender would tell them to "drink your water!" and that happened to be a full pint of the stuff. While the above is a stall that begins with a no with a maybe implied, I have stalled people by asking if they would like to try a new Tiki drink or other that I was working on (and was my treat). However, this was one of the mocktails that I was tinkering with so that delayed them for a round. I have also presented people with shots of espresso (at one place I worked, we had a crappy pod coffee machine, but it could quickly and easily pour a shot) especially if they were starting to nod or drift off. It also gave a good sign that they were closing in on the end of their night out. At private events at my first restaurant, we would avoid telling the guests no (usually these were big spenders buying out half or all of the space) by giving them tonic instead of vodka-tonic or mocktail shooters instead of a round of shots. We could then enter the proper drink amount into the POS machine without the guest figuring out that they were being charged for a nonalcoholic drink.

The Freeze-Out is another method where you avoid taking a guest's order or delay (or "forget"), making it -- to buy some time.

Another proactive technique is inquiring about transportation. When a guest is beginning to get deep, inquire where they live and then work in how they got there and will get home. There are different concerns that come into play if the person was driving instead of taking a taxi or walking, and it can also assess if they have friends with them that can be utilized later. This transportation question could also be utilized in one of the many tricks Adam taught me, namely, approaching a guest from either your side or their side of the bar and compassionately ask how they are getting home and if we can call them a cab. The question becomes not whether they can have another drink but what way they can choose to make their way to bed. A lot of the techniques also depend on whether the guest has an open tab. In most instances, it helps to have the check already printed and ready to be presented to get the financials squared away.

It also helps to speak to the inebriated one's friend to inform them that you will not serve their friend anymore, and to see if they can get them out of there as well as close up the tab. The bonds of friendship can be utilized to your advantage instead of having the friends come to the person's defense. And in terms of other people to speak to, always try to keep the manager abreast of the situation. Getting the manager involved can either be a heads up that you are considering cutting off a patron or that you will be cutting off a patron, so the manager can keep an eye on things. Or sometimes it can be a way to get them to do the work for you. One of my general managers was such a kind yet focused soul that he was a whiz at getting people to pay up and leave without incident. Although some of the assistant managers were more avoidant to that sort of confrontation. If the tab is closed, see if you can get the guest to go outside with you for a cigarette and then wish them well afterwards. Or perhaps come to the other side, shake their hand, talk to them for a bit, and thank them for coming as you lead them to the door. Showing hospitality like that can avoid the guest from feeling embarrassment from their peers.

The reactive part comes when it is at the point that the guest is asking for another drink. Of all the things listed so far, this is the most challenging because all of the chances to do the safer techniques listed above have been squandered, and it is time to turn down the guest without them getting angry or violent. First, it is important not to back down; once you have made the decision that they are done, do not change that or let a coworker override you. Second, do not worry about a tip at this point -- your tip is them leaving. It will help out in the long run financially if your other guests are not bothered by that inebriated patron and thus stay longer, spend more, and tip better. I have definitely been at places when a non-ejected drunkard has scared away clientele, and I have definitely acted on a tipsy guest when he has scared away some of our patrons.

This is the moment that word choice, tact, tone, and diplomacy need to be at their finest. It is most important to be nonjudgmental about things, to not mention that they are drunk, and to not embarrass them if at all possible. The tone should be kind but authoritative yet not condescending. One technique is to tell people that this will be their last of the evening and to present them with a check soon afterwards. This is for more marginal people, and it has been suggested that such a statement could be used as evidence that you knew they were intoxicated. Often, it is best to tell someone that you do not feel comfortable serving them another drink. Claim house policy, concern for their safety, or your job security being on the line, but do not accept their drink order. I have found a welcoming "I would love to serve that to you tomorrow (or the next time), but for tonight, I cannot serve you anymore." No one wants to feel unwelcomed, and this can partially heal the cut off. Perhaps pour them a water or hand them a tonic or Coca Cola and present them with a check with an explanation of "Sorry, I cannot serve you anymore alcohol tonight." That extra nonalcoholic drink is a detriment if your goal is to get them out of the door as quickly as possible, but it can buy you some time if the goal is to also sober them up (especially if they are there with a larger group of friends). It can also help to not embarrass the guest since they are seen leaving the bar with another beverage in their hand.

The signs that you need to cut off a guest depend on your establishment and its decorum. The rate that they are imbibing (and could have a time bomb of alcohol in their stomach waiting to hit their blood stream) is one factor, but behavior is another. One trigger for me is whether the guest is beginning to annoy the other clientele and whether the guest in question is getting snappy or argumentative with me or the other staff. Being overly flirty (perhaps harassingly so), swearing, speaking too loudly, and getting angry are other warning signs. Once they have reached the stumbling, slurred speech, aggressive behavior, falling off the stool, or spilling drinks stage, it is well into the more extreme signs that action needs to be taken. The line that you draw is different if you are in a fine dining restaurant versus a dive bar or perhaps in a restaurant before or after the dinner rush is over (one place I was in went from upscale gastropub to an industry hangout somewhere around 10pm every night).

With that, I have to add that I am still learning. While I love making drinks and assisting people in having a good time, I hate drunks and drunk behavior at my bar. So I am always looking for new tricks to add to my skill set. Therefore, I ask: what are some of your favorite techniques? What has or hasn't worked well for you? And, what are some of your tell signs for when it is time to get into action?

goodnight irene

1 oz Red Breast 12 Year Irish Whiskey
1 oz Lustau East India Solera Sherry
1 oz Cynar

Stir with ice, strain into a rocks glass, and garnish with lemon oil from a twist.
Two Thursday ago, I attended a seminar on single pot still Irish whiskeys presented at the Hawthorne by Midleton Distillery's Billy Leighton and Dave McCabe. After the session, Hawthorne bartender Rob Ficks was mixing up three Irish whiskey drinks to showcase these spirits. The one I selected was the Goodnight Irene that was created by Jackson Cannon who subtitled this musical tribute, "I'll see you in my dreams." Once prepared, the Goodnight Irene gave forth a bright aroma from the lemon oil at first that transitioned into caramel and herbal notes later. Next, grape, caramel, and malt mingled on the sip, and the swallow offered up the nutty flavors of the whiskey and sherry that paired well with the funky herbal elements in the Cynar. Indeed, the whiskey here played somewhere between a supportive role in the flavor profile and a structural one as it found its equals with the other components.