Monday, October 15, 2018

must be nice

1 oz Lustau Amontillado Sherry
1 oz Appleton Estate 12 Year Rum (Appleton Reserve)
1/2 oz Mezcal (Fidencio)
1 oz Pineapple Juice
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Cinnamon Syrup
1/4 oz Fassionola or Grenadine (Grenadine)

Whip shake, pour into a Tiki mug, fill with crushed ice, and garnish with pineapple leaves, pineapple crescent, lime wheel, cherry, and toy gold coins (mint sprigs and nasturtium flower).
Two Mondays ago, I was desiring a tropical drink to escape the cold drizzle that was rolling over our fair town. Therefore, I decided upon the Must Be Nice created by Kevin Beary at Chicago's Three Dots and a Dash; I had spotted the recipe in the Lustau 2017 competition archives, and it seemed worthy of braving the rain to gather garnishes. Once prepared, my choice of garnish gave forth a mint and peppery floral nose over the drink's cinnamon and grape aromas. Next, grape, lime, and pineapple combined for a fruity sip, and the swallow presented rum, smoky mezcal, and nutty grape with a pineapple and cinnamon finish. Overall, I was impressed at how well the Amontillado, mezcal, and cinnamon trio played out to provide complementary flavors and offer the drink a solid backbone.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

second line season

2 oz Calvados (Boulard VSOP)
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
2 tsp Amaro Montenegro (1/3 oz)
1 tsp Maraschino Liqueur (1/6 oz Luxardo)
2 dash Boker's Bitters (Jerry Thomas Decanter)

Shake with ice, strain into a wine glass half rimmed with sugar, fill with pebbled (crushed) ice, and garnish with 3-4 dried (fresh) apple slices and freshly grated nutmeg.

Two Sundays ago, I went shopping for an apple to properly garnish a cocktail that I had spotted in Punch Drinks called the Second Line Season. The recipe was created by Nick Detrich and Chris Hannah as they prepare to open the Jewel of the South in New Orleans. The original Jewel of the South was the bar at the New Orleans City Exchange on Gravier Street in the American Quarter (just west of the French Quarter) where Joseph Santini invented the Brandy Crusta circa 1852. The new Jewel of the South will be on St. Louis Street near N. Rampart Street in the French Quarter with an eye on preserving bits of history such as this tribute to the Crusta akin to how Detrich and associates Bellocq paid respect to the Cobbler at Bellocq.
The Second Line Season offered up apples accented by woody spice on the nose. Next, the apple continued on into the crisp sip along with lemon notes, and the swallow followed up with more apple, nutty Maraschino, orange, and spice on the swallow.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

parisian sour

2 oz Louis Royer Force 53 Cognac (Camus VS)
3/4 oz Dolin Blanc Vermouth
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Cane Syrup (Simple Syrup)
1 Egg White

Shake once without ice and once with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with chocolate bitters (Bittermens Molé).
After getting back from a bar shift two Saturdays ago, I wanted to treat myself to a cocktail, so I reached for Sother Teague's I'm Just Here for the the Drinks book. There, I was lured in by the Pisco Sour riff, the Parisian Sour, that subbed in overproof Cognac and blanc vermouth for the pisco. Since I lacked strong Cognac, I opted for a sturdy 80 proof one and balanced that by toning down the sugar content by using simple syrup instead of cane syrup (cane syrup is closer to 2:1 simple). In the glass, the Parisian Sour presented a chocolate and Cognac bouquet in an earthy way. Next, a creamy lemon sip slid into a Cognac and floral-herbal swallow.

Friday, October 12, 2018

sfumato swizzle

1 1/2 oz Sfumato Rabarbaro Amaro
1 oz Pineapple Juice
3/4 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Doctor Bird Jamaican Rum (Smith & Cross)
1/2 oz Falernum (Velvet)
1/2 oz Giffard Banane du Bresil

Build in a Collins glass, fill with crushed ice, swizzle to mix and chill, and garnish with mint and freshly grated nutmeg.

Two Fridays ago, I was reading Reddit's cocktails forum and spotted a curious drink called the Sfumato Swizzle. The recipe was created by Alex P. (a/k/a xxfactory), and it seemed based off of Marco Dionysos' Chartreuse Swizzle. Besides the swap of herbal liqueurs, this recipe inserted Jamaican rum as we did nightly with the Mixoloseum house's Chartreuse Swizzle riff during Tales 2010, and it added crème de banana to perhaps balance the bitterness of the amaro. Overall, I was definitely drawn to the absurdity of the drink, especially since I had been pondering how long it would take me to finish my new purchase of Sfumato that I used it a quarter or half ounce at a time.
The Sfumato Swizzle greeted the senses with mint, woody spice, and a darker aroma from the Sfumato. Next, that darkness continued on into the sip along with the lime and pineapple, and the swallow proffered funky rum along with bitter flavors tempered by tropical banana ones.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

new yorleanian

1 oz Rye Whiskey (Rittenhouse Bonded)
1 oz Laird's Apple Brandy (Laird's Bonded)
1/2 oz Benedictine
1/2 oz Punt e Mes
2 dash Peychaud's Bitters
2 dash Absinthe (1/3 bsp St. George)

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

When I got back from my trip to Kentucky two Thursdays ago, I was in the mood for a nightcap. Therefore, I selected from my drinks-to-make list a New York-inspired riff on the La Louisiane called the New Yorleanian. The recipe was crafted by Abigail Gullo of the Crescent City's Compere Lapin and was published in a Maxim Magazine article on riffs on New Orleans' classic cocktails. Her concept was inspired by growing up by the apple orchards in Hudson Valley, NY, and the combination reminded me a bit of the Town Crier, Green Street's Picon-less variation on the Creole, and Drink's 1919.
The New Yorleanian greeted the nose with anise, herbal, and apple aromas. Next, apple and grape played on the sip, and the swallow donated rye, apple, and lightly bitter herbal flavors with an anise finish.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

:: knowing people by whom & where they haunt ::

First published on the USBG National blog in July 2018.

For a recent bartender event application, I was asked, “Tell us about one non-industry related book, article, or experience that shaped your world view.” As an avid reader, I wanted to take a literary route, but I slightly panicked since over the last decade or so, I have been reading little besides industry related books to satiate my curiosity and need for furthering my education. Therefore, I thought about the decade before that when I read a lot of fiction instead of my regular dose of nonfiction. I had a few favorite genres that I gravitated towards including Japanese post-war, Beat authors, American gothic, and punk poets. But the one that I honed in on was my affection to French surrealists. I was quite into surrealism back then ranging from reading authors like Bataille and Desnos, watching films such as by Buñuel and Man Ray, and viewing art such as by Remedios Varo and Dalí. My future-wife and I even threw a surrealist New Years Eve party in 2003 replete with parlor games like the Exquisite Corpse, bizarre decorations, and champagne flutes for the toast each with the name of a different period artist or writer emblazoned on it.

It was actually that party that began our household’s accumulation of booze that led me down the road of becoming a professional bartender, and we still have a bottle from that event in our collection, namely Ketel One Citroen, that I bought because it was gift packed with a Cobbler shaker (which has stayed true to this day). Moreover, my deep interest in surrealism bled into some of my later drink names that were dubbed after artwork or movies from Dalí, Soupault, and Buñuel. Instead of focusing in on the bizarre aspects often associated with surrealism, I went with the books on how surrealists saw their world, friends, and city. For this, I went with one of my favorites – Andre Breton’s surrealistic love story Nadja; it is one of the two books that I have gifted to more friends than I can count (the other is a counterculture work by Richard Fariña).

Breton began the tale with the question “Who am I?” and answered it by describing how everything could be learned from whom (and where) he haunts. I have frequently utilized this concept to understand hospitality where a lot of effort is spent figuring out why people go to places and more specifically why they return. While the food and/or drink might be excellent and enough to get people to visit semi-regularly on their own, it is often some combination of bartenders, servers, other guests, mood, and décor that the patrons come back for again and again. When I want to learn more about a person, I often ask where they like to go out and why they like going there. From that, I can gain a lot of insight into their concept of hospitality and even how they might be as a coworker or as my bartender. Is it the warmth of the owners, how the bartenders facilitate the guests talking to each other, or the memory recall of the staff of the last times you were in and what was going on in your life; or is it more because they give you free stuff? Sometimes the reasons are not as easy to describe other than it just feels like home. Maya Angelou said something that captures this emotional connection that makes people come back, declaring, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
The book Nadja also contains 44 plates of photos, images, and artwork as physical connections to his story. Likewise, the faces, the drinks, and bars that I have captured in my mind (and in some of my writings and photos) have strong parallels to the emotional power that people and places can have on us. As a bartender, getting the requested food or drink item is the basic labor that is expected of us to make the night acceptable. To elevate the experience into something more memorable and our establishment more haunt-worthy, we have to begin to think past the basics and channel our inner warmth, absurdity, and theatrics. Many of my favorite moments sitting at bars had little to do with what was in my cup but dealt with goofy, compassionate, or extra-social bartenders and the energized guests that they helped develop and foster.

Some of these bartenders have this magic in themselves; perhaps not every waking moment but it seems to be part of their on-switch after clocking in for the shift. Others develop a beautiful synergy and repartee with their coworkers. I have definitely noted that my bar stays full and the tips are higher when I am sharing the stick with a coworker where we bring the best out of the other. Positive energy through joking, banter, and getting the guests involved becomes contagious and promotes patrons’ desire to linger and bask in the mood. Meanwhile, shifts with some coworkers can more banal with the energy being more somber and functional, and there are pairings that have promoted variations along that spectrum. Sometimes the secret to giving the crowd a great energy is to devote energy to making your coworker laugh and feel loved. Things will flow more smoothly once that bond is set for the shift since bartenders and servers seem to do a better job when they are truly enjoying themselves. Similarly in Nadja, Breton pronounced, “Beauty will be convulsive or not at all.” Here, he meant that the wonderful things in life have a strong relationship with passion.

I will not know for a bit whether my answer (which was much shorter than this) satisfied the event’s essay readers, but I enjoyed returning to my literary past and trying to connect it to my present thinking. Not all of our bartending education can be satisfied by reading the greats like Embury, DeVoto, and Wondrich; true, without those tomes, we would be lost and out of touch with history, but there is much to be gleaned from opening up the mind to other genres and finding parallels in life.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

this one goes out...

1 oz Campari
3/4 oz Blanco Tequila (Cimarron)
3/4 oz Mezcal (Fidencio)
1/2 oz Salers Gentian Liqueur (Suze)
1/2 oz Cocchi Americano
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Simple Syrup
1 Egg White

Shake once without ice and once with ice, strain into a glass (single old fashioned), and garnish with an orange twist.

Two Sundays ago, I was perusing the ShakeStir archives for an interesting drink that evening. There, I spotted an agave Negroni egg white Sour called This One Goes Out that was perhaps a R.E.M. reference. Given the smokiness of the mezcal and how it parallels the fire references in the song The One I Love and the album Document as a whole (my cassette's cover had "File under Fire" on it), I was further intrigued. The recipe was crafted by Taina Spicer at The Dillinger Room in New Brunswick, NJ, as her Negroni Week 2017 offering.
The This One Goes Out donated an orange oil bouquet over agave and hints of smoke. Next, a creamy lemon and orange sip slid into smoky agave, gentian, and bitter orange on the swallow. Overall, the gentian liqueur complemented the tequila and mezcal rather well as it did in the Terrible Love, the citrus and egg white smoothed over the mix's rough edges, and the combination was indeed more than a simple prop to occupy my time.

Saturday, October 6, 2018


1 oz Mezcal (Fidencio)
3/4 oz Blended Scotch (Famous Grouse)
1/4 oz Giffard Banane du Bresil
1/4 oz Honey Syrup

Stir with ice, strain into a Snifter glass with an ice cube, and garnish with oil from a lemon twist.
For a nightcap two Saturdays ago, I reached for Sother Teague's I'm Just Here for the Drinks and selected a smoky number called the Guillotine. The recipe was crafted by Ms. Franky Marshall at Le Boudoir in Brooklyn which has a Marie Anotinette theme; The Gothamist mentioned the cocktail, "There's even a reference to Anotinette's famous execution by beheading in 1793 with the Guillotine, a smokey combination of mezcal and scotch with banana and honey." Once prepared, the Guillotine proffered lemon oil and smoke to the nose. Next, Scotch's barley malt danced with honey on the sip, and the smoky agave paired with Scotch on swallow which led into a banana finish that worked well with the fruity-vegetal notes of the mezcal.

Friday, October 5, 2018

leaving manhattan

2 oz Bourbon (Four Roses)
1/2 oz Punt e Mes
1/4 oz Crème de Cacao (Tempus Fugit)
1/4 oz Lapsang Souchoung Tea Syrup (*)
2 dash Orange Bitters (Regan's)

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with an orange twist.
(*) A strong steep of tea mixed in equal parts with sugar. Here, I added half the amount of boiling water as normal, did a 5 minute steep, and only used 1/2 oz of the tea to 1/2 oz sugar.

Two Fridays ago, I was in the mood for a straight spirits drink, and I recalled a Manhattan variation in Gary Regan's revised and updated The Joy of Mixology which seemed appealing. That recipe was the Leaving Manhattan by Joann Spiegel, and the drink netted her first place in the New York City edition of the Woodford Reserve Manhattan Experience competition in 2012. The Bourbon, vermouth, and minor modifiers reminded me of my 2014 entry to the Boston part of the same contest: Shadows and Tall Trees; while that was not the winner (Woodford dominated the balance that worked well with another whiskey), it was meaningful to me as my first live cocktail competition as a bartender.
In the glass, the Leaving Manhattan greeted the senses with orange, whiskey, smoke, and grape aromas. Next, grape and malt mingled on the sip akin to the average Manhattan, but the swallow took a turn after the Bourbon aspect with a pleasing medley of bitter, chocolate, smoke, and tea tannin notes.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

knife to a gun fight

1 3/4 oz Bourbon (Old Grand-Dad Bonded)
3/4 oz Aperol
1/2 oz Zucca (Sfumato)

Stir with ice, and strain into a double old fashioned glass rinsed with Laphroaig 10 Year Scotch and containing a large ice cube.
Two Thursdays ago, I got home late from working an event in the Back Bay, and I was in the mood for a nightcap. Therefore, I selected a recipe from ShakeStir that seemed to fit my need called the Knife to a Gun Fight. The drink was crafted by Patrick Gaggiano in 2015 while running the show at the Viale bar in Cambridge before he crossed the street to tend at Brick and Mortar a few months later. Once prepared, the Scotch's peat met the Sfumato's smoky Chinese rhubarb aroma on the nose. Next, orange and malt on the sip led into Bourbon and bitter orange on the swallow with a dark, smoky finish.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

fort york

45 mL Rye Whiskey (1 1/2 oz Old Overholt)
15 mL Fernet Branca (1/2 oz)
30 mL Lime Juice (3/4 oz)
20 mL Orgeat (3/4 oz)
Mint Leaves (8 leaf)

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

Two Wednesdays ago, alerted me of a drink posted on their feed from Reece Sims of the WhiskeyMuse called the Fort York. The recipe was her cross between a Toronto and a Southside that she crafted at the Diamond in Vancouver earlier this year, and she paid tribute to a neighborhood on the south side of Toronto called Fort York. The name and the inclusion of the Fernet Branca reminded me of the Old York Flip crafted by then Toronto bartender Taylor Corrigan.
The Fort York met the nose with mint, menthol, and lime aromas. Next, a creamy caramel and lime sip transitioned into rye notes along with bitter menthol smoothed out by earthy orgeat on the swallow.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

chain smoker

2 oz Mezcal (Fidencio)
3/4 oz Dry Vermouth (Noilly Prat)
1/4 oz Zucca Rabarbaro (Sfumato)
2 dash Cocktail Punk Smoked Orange Bitters (Angostura Orange)

Stir with ice, strain into a rocks glass, and garnish with a flamed orange twist.
Two Tuesdays ago, I decided to pick up a bottle of Amaro Sfumato, and I sought out a recipe that specified it or a compatible rabarbaro, namely Zucca. The one that called out to me was Sother Teague's Chain Smoker from his I'm Just Here for the Drinks book that utilized a series of smoky ingredients. Once prepared, the Chain Smoker greeted the senses with an orange and rubbery smoke bouquet. Next, dark notes from the Sfumato paired with a dry white grape from the vermouth on the sip, and the swallow was much more complex with smoky, vegetal agave melding into bitter herbal elements on the swallow. Overall, the drink was not incredibly bitter given the small amount of amaro, but it was rather full of flavor especially given the otherwise stark mezcal Martini format.

las pozas

2 oz Beefeater Gin
1/2 oz Falernum
1/4 oz Orgeat
1 oz Lime Juice
1 dash Angostura Bitters
1 slice Cucumber
1 pinch Mint (~6 leaf)

Muddle the cucumber, add the rest of the ingredients, and shake with ice. Strain into a Collins glass filled with ice interspersed with 3 slices of cucumbers.

After Kirkland Tap & Trotter, I headed down to the Southend to visit Sahil Mehta at Estragon. There, Sahil offered me his recipe book to flip through, and one of his drinks of the day from July with cucumber and gin seemed like the perfect offering. For a name, Sahil and I focused on the garden aspect of the drink; that and the English gin brought up the idea of the Surrealist garden, Las Pozas, that British writer Edward James built in the jungles of Mexico.
The Las Pozas greeted the nose with a cucumber bouquet that led into a lime and vegetal sip. Next, juniper, cucumber, mint, a touch of nuttiness, and clove made for a flavorful swallow.

Monday, October 1, 2018

the blackspot

1/2 oz Green Chartreuse
1/2 oz St. George Absinthe
1/2 oz Velvet Falernum
1/2 oz Rhum Clement Coconut Liqueur
3/4 oz Water
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Demerara Syrup

Build in a glass, fill with crushed ice, swizzle to mix and chill, and garnish a dash of Jerry Thomas Decanter Bitters.
Two Mondays ago, friends from out of town invited me for a cocktail at Kirkland Tap & Trotter before they headed out to dinner elsewhere. For a drink, I asked bartender Kevin Jarvis for the Blackspot that he described as his coworker Rob's base spirit-less Swizzle. Once prepared, I figured that the name came from the circle of bitters on the surface that contributed to the nose of clove, herbal, and anise aromas. Next, a rich sip preceded the herbal and anise swallow with a licorice and coconut finish.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

daley sour

1 oz Jeppson's Malort
1 oz Laird's Bonded Apple Brandy
1/2 oz Cinnamon Syrup
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1 Egg White

Shake once without ice and once with ice, and strain into a rocks glass; I added a few drops of Angostura Bitters as garnish.

Two Sundays ago, I decided to make a drink by the Whistler's Billy Helmkamp called the Daley Sour that I had spotted on the BarNotes app. Billy described how in the fall of 2009, he and other Chicago bartenders bought a case of Malört and held an event featuring drinks that utilized said wormwood-flavored spirit as a base instead of as a minor ingredient. While not mentioned, I have to believe that this egg white Sour was dubbed after Chicago mayor Richard Daley who presided over the city until 2011.
The Daley Sour presented apple aromas from the brandy that were accented by cinnamon from both the syrup and my addition of Angostura Bitters as a garnish. Next, a creamy and lemon sip led into apple and bitter wormwood flavors on the swallow with a cinnamon spice finish. Overall, the combination was perfect for that evening's chilly pre-Autumn weather.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

witches' daiquiri

1 oz Gold Rum (Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva)
2/3 oz Strega
1/3 oz Orgeat
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Orange Juice

Shake with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with a cherry (omit).
Two Saturdays ago, I browsed the list of best Strega drinks on Difford's Guide and spotted the Witches' Daiquiri. The recipe was left unattributed which led me to surmise that it might be one of Simon Difford's own creations. With the combination of lemon, orange, and orgeat, it reminded me more of Scorpion Bowl than a Daiquiri, but I was game to give it a whirl. Once mixed, the Witches' Daiquiri gave forth vanilla and anise aromas to the nose. Next, the lemon and orange sip slid into rum, earthy almond, and star anise flavors on the swallow with an orange and vanilla finish.

Friday, September 28, 2018

becky's battle

1 oz Batavia Arrack
1 oz Becherovka
3/4 oz Lime Juice
3/4 oz Honey Syrup
1/2 oz Pineapple Juice

Whip shake, pour into a snifter glass, and fill with crushed ice. Float 3-4 dash Angostura Bitters, and garnish with a lime, cherry, and mint sprig flag.

Two Fridays ago, I found myself in Harvard Square, so I headed to Russell House Tavern for a drink. There, I found a seat in front of lead bartender Lex Russo, and I requested the Becky's Battle off of the cocktail menu. With Batavia Arrack, honey, and lime, I wondered if the name was a reference to the Battle of Trafalgar which just came off their menu after an 8 year run. Lex explained that he crafted this with Corey; the drink evolved in an Iron Chef sort of way where two bottles were blindly grabbed from the well -- Batavia Arrack and Becherovka. And when he listed off the recipe, the split base with Becherovka reminded me of the Flight Deck that I recently made.
The Becky's Battle shared a mint, lime, and clove bouquet with the nose. Next, lime and honey mingled on the sip, and the swallow gave forth Batavia Arrack's funk, pineapple, and cinnamon spice flavors to round out the drink.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

saint jacques district

2 oz Cognac (Courvoisier VS)
1/2 oz Cointreau
1/2 oz Grenadine
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
2 dash Regan's Orange Bitters

Shake with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with an orange twist.
Two Thursdays ago, I reached for Sother Teague's I'm Just Here for the Drinks book for something to wrap up the evening. There, I spotted the Saint Jacques District which was his Canadian tribute to a Quebec neighborhood, and I was drawn in for it reminded me of a Sidecar with elements of a Jack Rose. Once prepared, the drink broadcasted an orange oil nose over Cognac and Cointreau's orange aromas. Next, lemon, berry, and orange on the sip slid into brandy and orange peels on the swallow with a fruity pomegranate finish.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018


2 oz Aged Puerto Rican Rum (Don Q Añejo)
1/2 oz Gin (Beefeater)
1/2 oz Passion Fruit Syrup
1/2 oz Falernum (Velvet)
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Orange Juice

Build in a Hurricane glass (Tiki mug), fill with crushed ice, and swizzle to mix and chill. Float Horror Infused Fiendishly Tropical Bitters (2 dash Bitter Cube Jamaica #2, 2 dash Bitter Cube Blackstrap), and garnish with an orchid (nasturtiums).

Two Wednesdays ago, I was perusing the BG Reynolds site's recipe database, and I spotted the Leviathan. The drink was crafted by Jason Alexander of the Devil's Reef where it won the Iron Tiki Tender 2014 event. As a modification of the South Pacific Punch, I was definitely interested in trying it out. The recipe called for Fiendishly Tropical Bitters which were described on a site as having "a spicy flavour profile redolent of molasses, grapefruit, allspice, cinnamon, and vanilla," so I paired blackstrap and Jamaican bitters to capture many of the flavor and aromatic notes.
The Leviathan began with peppery floral aromas over the bitters' molasses, cinnamon, grapefruit, and floral ones. Next, the sip shared orange and passion fruit before leading into the swallow's rum, gin, passion fruit, and clove flavors. Overall, the tropical and spice notes in the drink were definitely complemented by my choice of nasturtium garnish.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

ukranian negroni

2 oz Tanqueray Gin
1 1/2 oz Carpano Antica (Cocchi Sweet Vermouth)
1/4 oz Campari
1/4 oz Jeppson's Malört

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and flame an orange twist over the top (unflamed, dropped).
After getting home from the Luxardo punch bowl competition at the City Winery that was after the Bacardi event, I was in the mood for a nightcap. Therefore, I turned to the 2009 Chicago Reader article where they challenged Chicago bartenders to craft something tasty with Malort. The one I selected was the Ukranian Negroni by Toby Maloney at the Violet Hour, and the structure was closer to a Hanky Panky (with the bitters being a split of Campari and Malort instead of Fernet) than to an equal parts Negroni riff. Once prepared, the twist added orange notes to the gin's pine aroma. Next, a grape sip gave way to juniper, bitter orange, and bitter wormwood on the swallow. Indeed, the Campari-Malort duo was quite intense so it was wise for Maloney not to proportion this recipe akin to a classic Negroni.


1 1/2 oz Bacardi 8 Year Rum
1/2 oz Amaro Montenegro
1/2 oz Coffee Liqueur
1/2 oz Pineapple Juice
1 wedge Lemon

Muddle the lemon wedge, add rest, shake with ice, and double strain into a double old fashioned with a large ice cube. Here, served as a half size in a sherry glass.

Two Tuesdays ago, I attended a Bacardi event at the Ghost Walks to discuss their Legacy competition as well as drink making and other industry concerns. Besides a trio of Bacardi representatives, one of the hosts was Moe Isaza who is currently the bar manager at the bar, and he presented his 2018 Legacy drink Poderoso that he crafted while at Pammy's in Cambridge. Moe described how the drink idea began at breakfast one morning when he was eating pineapple and sipping on coffee, and he realized how well the combination went. He later discussed the idea with Daren Swisher at Hojoko who introduced him to the Mr. Bali Hai. Instead of lemon juice, Moe opted for a muddled lemon wedge to donate extra citrus aromas, and to add to the citrus diversity, he swapped the simple syrup for Amaro Montenegro.
In the glass, the Poderoso offered up coffee, lemon, and citrus complexity from the Amaro Montenegro on the nose. Next, the sip was filled with the pineapple and coffee roast notes, and this led into rum, mandarine orange, pineapple, and coffee flavors on the swallow.

Monday, September 24, 2018

smoking jet pilot

1 oz Mezcal (Fidencio)
3/4 oz Batavia Arrack
3/4 oz Reposado Tequila (Cimarron)
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Grapefruit Juice
1/2 oz Cinnamon Syrup
1/2 oz Falernum (Velvet)
1 dash Herbsaint (1/2 bsp)
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Shake with ice, strain into a Tiki mug, fill with crushed ice, and garnish with grapefruit and lime twists.

Two Mondays ago, John Gertsen posted a Facebook memory from 4 years ago of the menu from a popup bar that he and California Gold did at Cane & Table in New Orleans back in September 2014. On the list were a variety of recipes created or served at Drink where they both worked such as the Chee Hoo Fizz. Of that collection, the Smoking Jet Pilot caught my eye, so I requested the recipe from John who provided not only the specs but the details that this was a group effort from Drink's early days before they did Tiki Sundays (so perhaps the 2009 era). The trio of mezcal, reposado tequila, and Batavia Arrack reminded me of Phil Ward's Airbag that they were serving at Drink in 2009, and the Batavia Arrack-mezcal duo appeared in another of their cocktails that year, the Esmino's Escape. So perhaps this was Drink's mashup of the Airbag with Stephan Crane's 1950s Jet Pilot.
The Smoking Jet Pilot's grapefruit and lime garnishes filled the bouquet and led quite well into the grapefruit and lime sip. Next, the swallow was a complex smoke, agave, and Batavia Arrack funky rum combination with a cinnamon and anise finish. Moreover, the Batavia Arrack and mezcal seemed to synergize into a burning rubber note at the end as well.

Sunday, September 23, 2018


3/4 oz Spanish Brandy (Camus VS Cognac)
3/4 oz Rhum Agricole Blanc (Clement Premiere Canne)
3/4 oz Lustau Oloroso Sherry
3/4 oz Giffard Banane du Bresil
1/2 oz Coffee Liqueur (Kahlua)
3/4 oz Lime Juice

Shake with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with a grapefruit twist.
Two Sundays ago, I continued on with my sherry quest by perusing the Lustau 2018 competition entries. There, I spotted the Cutlass by Jason Saura of Navy Strength in Seattle. Once prepared, the Cutlass donated a grapefruit aroma over grape, banana, and hints of coffee on the nose. Next, grape and lime mingled on the sip, and the swallow proffered grassy rum, brandy, dark roast coffee, and banana flavors. Overall, I was impressed at how well the rhum agricole and coffee liqueur worked on the swallow here.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

tonga pup

1 oz Barbancourt 4 Year Rum (Diplomatico Añejo)
1 oz Cynar
2/3 oz Smith & Cross Rum
1/2 oz Fernet Branca
1 oz Pineapple Juice
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Falernum (Velvet)
2 dash Angostura Bitters
1 dash Jerry Thomas Decanter Bitters

Shake with ice, strain into a Collins glass with ice, top with ginger beer (2 1/2 oz Reed's), and garnish with a lime wheel.

To follow up the previous night's Tiki, I decided to make a recipe from BarNotes that I had bookmarked months ago called the Tonga Pup. The recipe was crafted by T. Reed Richard then of Tulsa's The Valkyrie as his first amaro-Tiki offering. For a name, he dubbed this one after the failed Tiki fast food chain that never came into existence; I first heard of that restaurant concept in Wayne Curtis' And a Bottle of Rum, so I was familiar with the name.
The Tonga Pup offered up minty, menthol, and lime aromas to the nose. Next, a carbonated caramel and lime sip gave way to funky rum and Fernet's menthol on the swallow with pineapple and Cynar's vegetal funk on the finish.

Friday, September 21, 2018

conquistador's downfall

1 1/2 oz Spanish Brandy (Camus VS Cognac)
1/2 oz Lustau Amontillado Sherry
1 oz Demerara Rum (El Dorado 5 Year)
3/4 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Orgeat
1/2 oz Apricot Liqueur (Combier)
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Whip shake, pour into a double old fashioned glass (Tiki mug), fill with crushed ice, and garnish with mint.
Two Fridays ago, I began perusing the other entries for the 2017 Lustau competition that were beside the Hercules that I entered. When I spotted one from Chad Austin, I knew that I had to try his Conquistador's Downfall. While it had an overlapping orchard fruit liqueur (here, apricot instead of peach), it was not a riff on the Missionary's Downfall, but it was still in the Tiki vein. Once prepared, the Conquistador's Downfall welcomed the senses with a mint bouquet. Next, the grape and lime sip slid into brandy, rum, nutty, and apricot-tropical flavors on the swallow with a clove finish.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

laissez les bons temps rouler

2 oz Rye Whiskey (Michter's)
1/2 oz Cherry Heering
1/2 oz Ginger Liqueur (Barrow's)
2 dash Orange Bitters (Regan's)

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail glass pre-rinsed with absinthe (Pernod Absinthe), and garnish with an orange twist.

Two Thursdays ago, I had just finished reading Gary Regan's newly revised and updated The Joy of Mixology, and one of the recipes caught my eye as drink of the night contender. That drink was the Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler created by Bob Brenner at Portland's Paragon Restaurant. The drink was named after the Cajun French slogan of "Let the good times roll," and likewise, the cocktail was a tribute to the city that adopted that slogan, New Orleans. The recipe appeared to be a riff on that city's Sazerac served up with Cherry Heering and ginger liqueur as the sweeteners (and orange bitters instead of Peychaud's); moreover, the whiskey, cherry liqueur, and absinthe reminded me of the Remember the Maine.
The Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler began with an anise, orange, and whiskey aroma that preceded a cherry and malt-laden sip. Next, the rye led off the swallow along with cherry and ginger flavors, and the swallow ended with a hint of absinthe's anise and herbal notes on the finish.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

cantina band

1 1/2 oz Fernet Branca
1/2 oz Gin (Beefeater)
3/4 oz Simple Syrup
3 slice Cucumber

Shake with ice, double strain into a Collins glass with ice, top with ginger beer (2 1/2 oz Reed's), and garnish with a cucumber slice or ribbon (3 slices between the 4 ice cubes.
Two Wednesdays ago, Andrea purchased some ginger beer, so I perused some of my more recent cocktail books for uses. The one that caught my eye was the Cantina Band from Brad Parsons' Amaro book for it would utilize my bounty of garden cucumbers. Moreover, after a large dinner, a bit of Fernet Branca and ginger beer seemed like a decent enough idea. The recipe stemmed from Perla in Greenwich Village, New York, as one of their Star Wars tribute drinks. Once prepared, the Cantina Band sent ginger and menthol aromas to the nose. Next, a carbonated and caramel sip slipped into Fernet and gin followed by vegetal cucumber on the swallow with a menthol and ginger finish.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

the hard sell

3/4 oz Beefeater Gin
3/4 oz Jeppson's Malort
3/4 oz St. Germain (St. Elder)
3/4 oz Lemon Juice

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

Two Tuesdays ago, my web searching brought up a 2009 Chicago Reader article that challenged bartenders across that city to come up with delicious cocktails crafted with Malört as one of the ingredients. The first one that I selected was the Hard Sell by Brad Bolt of Bar Deville for it reminded me of Sam Ross' Sunflower except more bitter instead of citrussy. After I posted my drink on Instagram, Brad replied, "I modified the recipe to 1 oz Beefeater and 1 oz St. Germain after the article came out. Newer batches of Malört have had a more bitter wormwood punch. Hope you enjoyed it!" I am not sure whether I have an older batch of Jeppson's (it was a gift by Eric a/k/a Aphonik) or if I just enjoy bitter cocktails, but I was quite pleased by the balance.
The Hard Sell greeted the senses with a grapefruit and floral bouquet. Next, lemon and peach notes on the sip gave way to gin, bitter wormwood, and fruity-floral elderflower flavors with a grapefruit finish. Indeed, the lemon, Malört, and elderflower liqueur combined to make a grapefruit-peach flavor akin to the Pegu Club's combination generating a grapefruit one.

Monday, September 17, 2018

saturn + negroni

(A) 1 1/2 oz Gin (Beefeater)
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Passion Fruit Syrup
1/4 oz Orgeat
1/4 oz Falernum (Velvet)
(B) Equal parts: (I used 3/4 oz per part which seemed like too much in retrospect; I recommend 1/4-1/3 oz per ingredient)
• Smith & Cross Rum
• Campari
• Sweet Vermouth (Cocchi)

Whip shake the ingredients in (A), pour into a tall glass, and fill almost to the top with crushed ice. Stir ingredients in (B) and strain while floating it over the first part of the drink. Top with crushed ice and garnish with an orange slice.

On Reddit's cocktail forum, an user posted about a drink called the Saturn + Negroni that he had at Chicago's Three Dots & A Dash. I was curious if it was related to my Negroni Week 2017 offering of the Negroni on Saturn. When I consulted the Three Dots & A Dash website to look at their menu, it was their Negroni Week 2018 offering crafted by bartender Cory Starr. Instead of two gin drinks mashed into one, it was a Kingston Negroni (Smith & Cross-based triad akin to the Kingston Contessa) floated atop a Saturn (verified by photos of the drink). My curiousity was piqued, so I came up with the above recipe. My Kingston Negroni did float on top of the Saturn but the volume of the Negroni as well as the Snifter glassware I selected were not optimal for displaying this in the photo; I recommend toning the float down to around three quarters or a full ounce pre-melt instead of the two and a quarter ounce version I went with first. Alternatively, make a full-sized Kingston Negroni, float a portion, and save the rest as a sidecar.
The Saturn + Negroni as I made it began with an orange aroma with hints of rum funk. Next, lemon and passion fruit on the sip led into gin, nutty, and clove flavors on the swallow. Once the Rum Negroni aspect took over the Saturn component, the sip became more grape and orange noted, and the swallow offered high ester rum and bitter orange flavors.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

meauxbar rye cocktail

1 oz Rye (Michter's)
1 oz Calvados (Boulard VSOP)
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/4 oz Giffard Banane du Bresil
1/4 oz Allspice Dram (Hamilton's)
1 bsp Demerara Syrup
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail coupe.

Two Sundays ago, I delved into the recipes from the most recent issue of Imbibe Magazine. There, I spotted the Rye Cocktail from New Orlean's Meauxbar that was crafted by Gillian White who I met at Thirst-Boston a few years back when she worked down in Providence. When I checked the Meauxbar's menu, all the drinks were named by their base spirit similar to how Hungry Mother's last iteration of menus veered away from numbered drinks and were dubbed by descriptors such as Smoky. Here, the Rye Cocktail appeared to be a riff on the Lion's Tale with rye and apple brandy like the Lionheart instead of the Bourbon and with the classic's allspice dram split with banana liqueur.
The Rye Cocktail greeted the nose with an apple, allspice, and hint of banana bouquet. Next, malt, apple, and lime notes on the sip slid into whiskey, apple, and allspice flavors on the swallow with a banana finish. Overall, it was a bit more fruity and tropical and a touch less spiced riff of the 1937 Lion's Tail.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

:: drinking behind the bar ::

First published on the USBG National blog in September 2016 and included in the essays section of Boston Cocktails: Drunk & Told in April 2017. Purchase that book here to read the other essays as well as a bounty of Boston recipes, bartender tributes, and bar lore!

The topic of drinking behind the bar has frequently come up and has been debated from a variety of angles. Indeed, I have worked or staged at places where drinking with each other is fine but not with the guests, where drinking with the guests and the other bartenders is fine, and where no drinking at all is preferred. These policies certainly shape how well drinks are made, the general atmosphere of the bar, how much and what type of hospitality can be given, and what sort of guests show up (or leave) at certain hours. I had not given the concept much thought recently until a clip of Sasha Petraske appeared on Facebook on the anniversary of his passing where he expressed his thoughts, but more on that in a bit.
I would break drinking at the bar down into three classes with their own benefits and consequences: drinking with the other bartenders, drinking with the guests, and drinking solo. With drinking with other bartenders, it can raise team cohesiveness, celebrate a good night, or thank a co-worker who is taking the cut for his night’s efforts. With the guest, it can thank them for showing up and being good, loyal patrons; and with industry guests, it can build camaraderie across town. With the solo drinker, it is surely time to recommend help or another profession. I am not talking about doing in that mis-order on occasion instead of sinking it, but intentionally pouring themselves a drink or four. I have seen some great bartenders go down that road and the only way we knew the details was that the barback would be told not to dump that pint glass mixed in with the others – the one that we would later learn contained vodka tonic or another path to destruction. Well, we knew that they were drinking just not how.

Instead of me just speaking from my experiences, I will bring up two modern and one-century-old voices that spread a decent range of what is acceptable or desired at drinking establishments. Without further ado, here is that video of Sasha Petraske of Milk & Honey that I transcribed from a Hey Bartender clip:
“…almost all of my bartenders drink behind the bar; I encourage them to drink behind the bar. There is something really creepy and weird about people who remain totally sober while you get inebriated and they socialize with you. This is where all of the social mores of toasting and make sure everyone is having something…because that thing in Casablanca where “I don’t drink with my customers,” well, that dude would have gone out of business in real life. Like someone who is in his bar but doesn’t drink with his customers is an asshole. You need to have some good policy where people can drink behind the bar but don’t get drunk.”
Taking a step back a century or so, Harry Johnson in his 1882 Bartender’s Manual discussed drinking at work, but this passage would make more sense these days with the proprietor and the party/friends being switched for the bartender and his industry pals, respectively.
“It also creates a bad impression, if the landlord or proprietor sits in his place, and accepts drinks from his friends or customers. Sometimes the party, with whom he is sitting, drinks too much and becomes noisy. Therefore, as a rule, he should never engage in a social act of this kind. The guests will naturally judge the proprietor’s character by the company he keeps. There is a proper time and place for drinking, and the place is always in the café or bar room. But it makes a bad impression upon the patrons of a café, where there are tables and chairs, to find the “boss” often sitting down with a party to drink champagne or any other wine. This action should be avoided entirely, if possible, for one reason: that when the proprietor is thus engaged, he must be neglecting, to some extent, his business. Furthermore, the other customers, who take only 10-cent or 15-cent drinks – men of moderate means – will feel slighted, and their feelings may possibly be hurt by seeing the proprietor too often engaged with these swell wine-drinking parties, and thus may come to the conclusion that he does not regard them or their patronage of any value.”
The third voice that I want to call out is that of Pamela Wiznitzer, [then] creative director at Seamstress and president of the New York USBG chapter. In 2015, she spoke at Tales of the Cocktail during one of the S.E.D. Talks about why she does not drink while she works. She understood why people feel that they need to drink to get through the night because the job is, indeed, hard work. However, she finds alcohol to not be a stress reducer but a stress inducer. As a sober person, you’re a contact and a resource, and this is your job and career. Moreover, there is a liability in incidents if you have been drinking, and fines can be a lot higher. Finally, she reminded us how horrible it is to visit a bar and have a wasted bartender.

In my experiences, I have enjoyed the places where I have been allowed to drink with my co-workers for it brought me closer to them and established a brother- and sisterhood. I never liked getting drunk behind the stick or having to cover for my co-worker who did so; splitting a build so that everyone got half a drink seemed like the perfect amount to take the edge off but not lose control. When a co-worker partook too much, being the one to make all the cocktails because the other could not hit a jigger with a speed pourer stream made the job extra tough. In addition, I never enjoyed letting people buy me a shot. I felt I had no control over my sobriety since someone else was dictating things. Moreover, I dislike people buying the bar a round or the bartenders a shot since that guest begins to feel like they own the place, and thus they become harder to manage.

At my current [now past] job, it is a bar in a restaurant where I will be running drinks and food if there is a slow moment. My teammates are not just the other bartenders but the whole staff. Therefore, I refuse to drink on the job for I feel that I need to have all my faculties to do the job the best I can. In addition, I need to be a role model for the other bartenders and staff. There may be an awkward moment or two when someone wants me to drink with them, but I explain that I am at work and this is my job. Unlike Sasha’s idea of drinking together to bring the bartender and guest closer, I have the idea that I am the babysitter and the guide of the night to make their night the best that it can be. My good time will wait until later – whether at close or on my night off.

Given moderation, there is no right answer. Figuring out how to stay within those bounds is the difficult part.

via vero

2 oz Añejo Rum (Havana Club 7 Year)
1/2 oz Sweet Vermouth (Cocchi)
1/2 oz Pear Liqueur (Rothman & Winter)
2 dash Jerry Thomas Decanter Bitters

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with a lemon twist (omit).
Two Saturdays ago, I turned to my collection of Food & Wine: Cocktails books and selected the 2011 edition. There, I spotted the Via Vero, "the Truthful Way," that I had previously passed over, and this Rum Manhattan riff was crafted by New York City bartenders Richard Boccato and Zachary Gelnew-Rubin. The inclusion of pear liqueur in this format reminded me of Martin Cate's The Chadburn, so I was curious to see how this one would turn out. Once prepared, the Via Vero proffered a pear and molasses nose. Next, grape and pear on the sip gave way to aged rum notes merging into a bitter spiced caramel-fruit flavor on the swallow.

Friday, September 14, 2018

in the middle of a foggy sea

1 1/2 oz Amontillado Sherry (La Garrocha)
1/2 oz Pedro Ximenez Sherry (Oxford 1970)
1 1/2 oz Pineapple Juice
1 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Coffee Liqueur (Kahlua)
1/2 oz Cinnamon Syrup

Whip shake, pour into a Tiki mug, fill with crushed ice, and garnish with Tiki intent. Here, I garnished with mind sprigs, but a pineapple wedge and freshly grated coffee beans or nutmeg might work even better.

On Instagram, one of my friends made my Sherry Tonga, and he inquired about other sherry Tiki ideas since he liked that one so much. After listing out the ones that I and others have conjured up, I was inspired to try my hand at another. Instead of the Sherry Tonga's Amontillado, I went back to the à la minute cream sherry of dry and nutty Amontillado or Oloroso balanced by a minor part of sweet and raisiny Pedro Ximenez that I utilized in the Sherry Mai Tai. The dark and rich notes of Pedro Ximinez made me think of pairing it with coffee, and I decided upon the Mr. Bali Hai as a starting point. Besides swapping the rums for the sherries, I added a spice note by changing the simple to cinnamon syrup and changed some of the proportions. For a name, I harkened back to the play The South Pacific where the "Bali Hai" was one of the songs. The first verse was, "Most people live on a lonely island/Lost in the middle of a foggy sea/Most people long for another island/One where they know they will like to be." Therefore, I dubbed this one In the Middle of a Foggy Sea with the hopes that a low ABV number might help to make the sea a little less foggy.
In the mug, the libation gave forth mint aromas over coffee, cinnamon, nutty, and cherry-grape notes. Next, lemon, pineapple, and hints of dark roast on the sip gave way to nutty, raisiny, coffee, chocolate, and cinnamon flavors on the swallow. Indeed, the coffee, Pedro Ximenez, and cinnamon trio worked splendidly with each other, and all of these notes were complemented by the pineapple as well.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

flight deck

1 oz Monkey 47 Gin (Martin Miller Westbourne)
1 oz Becherovka
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/4 oz Maraschino Liqueur (Luxardo)
2 dash 18.21 Ginger-Lemon Tincture (Berg & Hauck's Lemon Bitters)

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

Two Thursdays ago, I was excited to make a recipe from Sother Teague's new book, I'm Just Here for the Drinks. The one I selected from the half of the book that I had read was an Aviation riff called the Flight Deck that lacked the blue color and floral notes from the crème de violette version. Instead, it took things on a more spiced route by splitting the gin with Becherovka, and this reminded me of Eastern Standard's recipes like the Metamorphosis and Kysely where they subbed all of the base spirit for this Czech liqueur.
Once I had prepared Sother's riff, it offered up pine, cinnamon, and lemon aromas to the nose. Next, lemon with a hint of cherry on the sip transitioned to juniper, nutty Maraschino, cinnamon, and ginger flavors on the swallow with a clove finish.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

blue hawaii

2 oz Pineapple Juice
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
3/4 oz Blue Curaçao (3/4 oz Cointreau + 1 drop blue food coloring)
1/4 oz Simple Syrup
1/2 tsp Cream (1/4 oz Soy Milk)
1 1/2 oz Vodka (Bak Bison Grass)

Shake with crushed ice and pour into a tall glass (snifter).

Two Wednesdays ago, I decided to make the Blue Hawaii recipe that appeared in Beachbum Berry's Remixed. What got me thinking about this drink was receiving a request for one a few weeks back, and my fellow bartender Peaches and I brainstormed on how to make one. Honestly, I had never made one or had one (but have read various recipes) before; since the guest fell in love with them on vacation, we wanted to get it right. Without looking it up, we decided on this recipe minus the dairy. After the shift, Peaches and I messaged back and forth about the drink and the various recipes out there. The recipe that we both honed in on was Beachbum's, and his was a 1980s version of the 1950s drink named after the Elvis movie from earlier in that decade.
Lacking the bottom shelf blue curaçao at home that I had at work, I simulated things with Cointreau and a drop of blue food coloring that had worked in the past. In the glass, the Blue Hawaii pleased the senses with a pineapple and orange aroma. Next, lemon, orange, and a hint of tropical notes on the sip led into pineapple and orange on the swallow. Indeed, the swallow would have been more intriguing if I went with one of the modern variations that split the base spirit with white rum; however, the Blue Hawaii in my mind is a vodka drink just like the Chi Chi. Instead, I compromised with a bison grass-flavored vodka that donated a light cinnamon-like spice to the mix.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

vieux chapeau

1 oz Armagnac (Larrissingle VSOP)
1 oz Mezcal (Fidencio)
1 oz Byrrh Grand Quinquina
1/4 oz Benedictine
1 pinch Salt

Stir with ice and strain into a rocks glass pre-rinsed with absinthe (Versinthe).
Two Tuesdays ago, I received my new issue of Imbibe Magazine and I was lured in by Amanda Schuster's article on Byrrh Grand Quinquina. At the end of the article were three recipes, and one of which was crafted by Heather Mojer of Café du Pays in Cambridge, MA. Her drink was a Vieux Carré riff called the Vieux Chapeau or "Old Hat." Once prepared, the drink gave forth a smoke and anise bouquet that led into a grape-forward sip. Next, brandy, vegetal agave, and herbal complexity filled the swallow that ended with quinine and hint of minerality on the finish.

Monday, September 10, 2018

south side swizzle

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

Muddle the mint leaves in simple syrup in a Collins glass, add rest of the ingredients, fill with crushed ice, and swizzle to mix and chill. Add 5-6 dash Angostura Bitters, top with crushed ice, and swizzle in the bitters. Garnish with mint sprigs and add a straw.

After getting home from Oscar Miszlai's inaugural Monday night industry night at Silvertone, I wanted to utilize some of the mint growing rampantly in my garden. My mind thought about drinks shaken with mint like the South Side and ones where the mint was muddled in like the Queen's Park Swizzle. Moreover, I became inspired by the simplicity of riffs in Sasha Petraske's Regarding Cocktails, so I decided to craft the South Side meeting the Queen's Park Swizzle. The end result later reminded me the Hyde Park Swizzle albeit with different citrus and bitters.
The South Side Swizzle greeted the senses with mint, lemon, and clove aromas. Next, lemon on the sip moved into gin's pine and citrussy spice along with mint's herbal flavors on the swallow. Finally, as the bitters layer entered the equation, the swallow became more dominated by clove and mint notes.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

immigrant song

1 1/4 oz Rye Whiskey (Old Overholt)
3/4 oz Linie Aquavit (North Shore Private Reserve Aquavit)
1/2 oz Amontillado Sherry (Grant's La Garrocha)
1/4 oz Apricot Liqueur (Combier)
2 dash Celery Bitters (housemade)

Stir with ice, strain into a ice-filled rocks glass (cocktail coupe sans ice), and garnish with a lemon twist.
For the cocktail hour two Sundays ago, I reached for Food & Wine: Cocktails 2016 and landed upon the Immigrant Song by Jessica Sanders of Drink.Well in Austin. Once stirred and strained, the drink proffered a lemon aroma from the twist with light apricot notes from the liqueur. Next, a dry grape with hints of orchard fruit on the sip transitioned into rye, nutty sherry, and apricot on the swallow with a herbal-vegetal finish of celery and dill.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

diplomat's son

1 1/2 oz Diplomatico Gran Reserva Rum (Reserva Exclusiva)
1 oz Blanc Vermouth (Dolin)
1/4 oz Campari
1/4 oz Pineapple Juice

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail coupe.

Two Saturdays ago, I wanted something stirred to sip on so I opted for a rum drink that I had spotted on ShakeStir. The recipe was the Diplomat's Son that Boston bartender Daren Swisher crafted while at JM Curley circa 2014 for a competition on that website. Daren explained his idea as, "Inspired by the stirred classic El Presidente and [the] dark rum, pineapple, Campari combination of the Jungle Bird. It uses the Diplomatico Reserva with the new Carpano Bianco and small portions of Campari for bitterness and balance and fresh, unsweetened pineapple juice for acid, sweetness, and body."
The Diplomat's Son proffered dark rum, bitter orange, and hints of pineapple to the nose. Next, caramel, white grape, and pineapple on the silky sip led into dark rum and bitter orange flavors on the swallow with a tropical orange-pineapple finish.

Friday, September 7, 2018

beachcomber's punch

1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Grapefruit Juice
1/2 oz Apricot Brandy (Combier)
1/2 oz Simple Syrup
1 1/2 oz Demerara Rum (El Dorado 5 Year0
1 dash Angostura Bitters
6 drop Pernod (Butterfly Absinthe)

Blend with 6 oz crushed ice for 5 seconds and pour into a flute glass (whip shake and pour into a Tiki mug). Top with ice (crushed) and garnish with a mint sprig.
Two Fridays ago, I ventured into Beachbum Berry's Remixed and spotted the Beachcomber's Punch crafted by Donn Beach at his original Hollywood bar back in the 1930s. The combination seemed like a more fruit-driven and less spice precursor to the 1950s Jet Pilot, so I was curious to give it a whirl. Once prepared, the Beachcomber's Punch displayed a mint aroma over apricot and rum notes. Next, a rich lime, caramel, and grapefruit sip slid into rum, apricot, and clove-anise spice flavors on the swallow.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

hurricane proof

1 oz Bols Genever
3/4 oz Dark Rum (Plantation Original Dark)
1/4 oz Galliano
3/4 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Passion Fruit Purée (3/4 oz Passion Fruit Syrup)
3/4 oz Simple Syrup (Combined with above)

Shake with ice and strain over crushed ice.

While searching for Galliano-containing Tiki drinks in crafting the Wavecrasher, I stumbled upon an article in Maxim of riffs on classic New Orleans cocktails. Perhaps the article was sponsored by the Bols company for there were many Bols Genever and Galliano recipes inside. Luckily, I am a fan of both, and I was drawn in by the Hurricane variation crafted by Brad Smith of Latitude 29 called Hurricane Proof. Actually, the recipe seemed closer to the Hurricane Buster given the split base spirit and the liqueur aspects.
Hurricane Proof met the nose with a malt, lime, and passion fruit bouquet. Next, caramel, lime, and passion fruit on the sip led into malty Genever, rum, passion fruit, vanilla, anise, and the Genever's wormwood note on the swallow.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

cobra kai

2 1/2 oz Dry Vermouth (Noilly Prat)
1 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Orange Liqueur (Cointreau)
1/2 oz Passion Fruit Syrup
1/2 oz Falernum (Velvet)
1 dash Absinthe (1 bsp Butterfly)
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Whip shake, pour into a Tiki mug, fill with crushed ice, and garnish with mint sprigs and a citrus peel snake.

Two Wednesdays ago, I decided to make a low proof riff on the Cobra and Cobra's Fang using dry vermouth in place of the rums. Moreover, I utilized Paul McGee's concept of replacing orange juice with curaçao or other orange liqueur, and I incorporated the falernum from the Cobra's Fang but left out the grenadine à la the Cobra. For a name, I went with a Karate Kid reference of the Cobra Kai with classic Tiki venues such as the Mai Kai also in mind. Once prepared, the Cobra Kai greeted the nose with a mint, lime, and anise bouquet. Next, a semi-dry lime and white grape sip shared a hint of passion fruit, and the swallow offered orange and passion fruit flavors with a mixed spice finish that included clove and anise notes.

tooth & nail

2 oz Scotch (Famous Grouse)
1/2 oz Drambuie
1/2 oz Cynar
1/4 oz Amer Picon (Torani Amer)
2 dash Peach Bitters (Fee's)

Stir with ice and strain into an old fashioned glass with a large ice cube.
After our adventures in Winthrop followed by dinner, I was in the mood for a nightcap to round out the day. My recipe search led me to ShakeStir where I spotted the Tooth & Nail. The drink was Seattle bartender Scott Diaz's bitter take on the Rusty Nail that reminded me of Ames Street's Bitter Nail. Once mixed, the Tooth & Nail proffered a Scotch, honey, and herbal-orange aroma. Next, caramel and honey on the sip gave way to Scotch and bitter orange flavors on the swallow with a lingering peach and Cynar's herbal funk finish. Over time, the balance became softer and more approachable with the ice melt.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018


2 oz Don Papa Rum
1/2 oz Cruzan Blackstrap Rum
3 oz Pineapple Juice
1 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Galliano
3/4 oz Simple Syrup

Blend with 8 oz crushed ice, pour into a glass, and garnish with a pineapple wedge, lime wheel, and drops of both Angostura and Peychaud's Bitters. And a paper flamingo if available.
Two Tuesdays ago was the USBG Boston's annual "pool party," and this year instead of taking over a pool at a condo complex or other, we held it at a member's house out in Winthrop located half a block from the beach (also known as the large pool with sharks). After the inaugural round of blender drinks, I was nominated to craft the next round. While there were plenty of donated spirits, I had to search out modifiers. When I spotted the long, weapon-like Galliano bottle in a crate off to the side, I knew that was the direction to go in. After spying the pineapple juice and the blackstrap rum, I decided on working the Galliano into a Jungle Bird/Pago Pago-like structure. Galliano with its elegant vanilla and star anise notes has found its way into classic Tiki drinks like the Sundowner and more modern ones like the Maitalia, and the name Sundowner made me call this one the Winthrop Wavecrasher at first before I shorted it down to merely the Wavecrasher. I later realized that I had crafted something similar to the Barracuda with extra pineapple juice in place of that 1970s drink's sparkling wine.

lemon drop crusta

2 oz Vodka (Ketel One)
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
3/8 oz Orange Liqueur (Cointreau)
3/8 oz Simple Syrup
2 dash Citrus Bitters (1 dash Regan's Orange, 1 dash Berg & Hauck's Lemon)

Shake with ice, strain into a narrow-diameter glass rimmed with sugar, and garnish with a long, wide lemon swath wrapped around the interior diameter of the glass.

On Saturday night two weeks ago, I was working the front bar at River Bar with my coworker Peaches when a ticket came in for a trio of Lemon Drops. I enthusiastically demanded to do the ticket that Peaches had pulled which amused one of our industry guests. Peaches was already familiar with my joy in making this drink despite my general hating to rim glasses with salt or sugar save for Crustas and Sidecars; however, our bar guest found it quite entertaining. I explained the circumstances of my first Lemon Drop: I went with my friend to go hangout with his girlfriend at the bar around the corner from her house, namely the B-Side Lounge circa 1999, before continuing on to a party nearby. The B-Side has been cited as the birthplace of the Boston cocktail renaissance and my visit was within the first year or so of it being open. At the time, I rarely drank cocktails save for club drinks like the Mind Eraser and Red Death and the occasional Manhattan when I needed to be a bit more business like. Therefore, when my friend's girlfriend ordered a Lemon Drop from the waitress, I panicked and said that I would have one too. And it was good -- with fresh lemon juice and a fancy sugared rim, it was a step up from the drink culture around town. Though I cannot recall having another in the next nearly two decades, I have made plenty for guests at various establishments.
My industry bar guest after taking a photo of me and posting it with the hashtag #fredloveslemondrops suggested that I ought to write up the drink on the blog. At first I thought about non-ironically revisiting the Lemon Drop; however, it seemed a touch out of place even if I could explain it as a vodka Chelsea Sidecar (or a Vodka Sour). So I got to thinking, and it dawned on me that the drink already has a sugared rim like the Crusta, so why not add some bitters and a wide citrus swath garnish? That way I could take the infamous 1970s neo-classic crafted at Henry Africa's Bar in San Francisco and give it some dignity by crossing it with the 1852 Crusta. Once prepared, the Lemon Drop Crusta sang out with lemon oil aromas to the nose. Next, lemon with hints of orange filled the sip, and the swallow continued on with the lemony flavors along with spiritous notes from the vodka. Like my first Lemon Drop, this was still rather good. While I cannot say complex or dynamic, it had a solid structure that I also witnessed in the Casper Sour that utilized a quality rice wine vinegar as the acid source.

Monday, September 3, 2018


2 oz Pineapple-infused White Horse Scotch (*)
3/4 oz S. Maria al Monte Amaro
1/4 oz St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur

Stir with ice, strain into a double old fashioned glass with a large ice cube, and garnish with a pineapple leaf.
(*) Equal parts by weight Scotch and pineapple chunks left to infuse.
Two Mondays ago, I made my way down to the Drydock area of Boston's Seaport neighborhood to pay a visit to Chickadee that had just opened up two or three weeks before. For a drink, I requested the Nightjar that was a collective work of the whole bar team. I soon learned that the pineapple element in the ingredients list was an infusion, and this made me think of the Mr. Hoy crafted by one of Chickadee's owners, Ted Kilpatrick while at No. 9 Park years ago. Like the Bittere Mout, this paired S. Maria al Monte with St. Germain; a similar elegant effect has been utilized with Cynar in recipes like the Alto Cucina as well. Once prepared, the Nightjar gave forth a dark herbal and menthol nose that preceded a semi-sweet caramel sip with light touches of pineapple. Next, the swallow began with the Scotch and ended with bitter and floral flavors.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

brandy crusta

1 jigger Brandy (2 oz Camus VS Cognac)
2 dash Apricot Brandy (3/8 oz Giffard)
1/2 Lime Juice (3/4 oz)
1/2 tsp Grenadine (3/8 oz)

Shake with ice and strain into a sugar-rimmed glass; I added a wide lime twist inserted into the interior diameter of the glass.

After my bar shift two Sunday nights ago, I turned to Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars: 1903-1933 and spotted a Brandy Crusta recipe that I had never made. I probably skipped over the recipe dozens of times for we have already written up a more standard Brandy Crusta here before, and for the longest time, I did not have wanted another one with the same name. In addition, the Pioneers book has some nonstandard Crusta recipes which frequently leave out the bitters element (the Crusta after all was the first known cocktail to contain citrus) as well as the classy citrus peel rosette or ring at the top of the glass. Here, I included the citrus peel anyways, and I probably figured that I should make this since spirit, lime, apricot liqueur, and grenadine has been a winner in drinks like the Bermudian (renamed the Boston Cocktail most likely by the Mr. Boston series) and the Cuban Cocktail #6.
This version of the Brandy Crusta greeted the nose with apricot and Cognac aromas that were brightened by the lime twist and juice. Next, lime and berry on the sip stepped aside to Cognac and apricot flavors on the swallow with tart barrel-aged notes on the finish. Overall, the combination was rather pleasant, elegant, and fruity.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

olmec colossal grog

2 oz Blanco Tequila (Cimarron)
3/4 oz Guava Purée, Guava Nectar, or Melted Guava Jelly (Guava Jelly melted 1:1 with hot water) (*)
3/4 oz Lime Juice
3/4 oz Grapefruit Juice
1/2 oz Simple Syrup
1/4 oz Allspice Dram (Hamilton's)

Shake with ice, strain into a Tiki mug, fill with crushed ice, and garnish with mint sprigs.
(*) Perhaps 1/2 oz of either the guava purée or melted guava jelly, or 1 oz of guava nectar might work well here.

Two Saturdays ago, I was inspired by Trader Vic's Old Yellowstain to riff on its structure. Since Old Yellowstain is essentially a Trader Vic Navy Grog with passion fruit added and different rums, I wondered if tequila would substitute in well in grog format like how Vic transformed his Mai Tai into the Pinky Gonzalez. And instead of passion fruit, I swapped the tropical fruit aspect to guava which is indigenous to Mexico; moreover, Vic occasionally called for guava jelly in his drinks such as the Cooper's Ranch Punch. For a name, I was inspired by the large stone heads of Mesoamerica called the Olmec colossal heads by archeologists; I remember having my photo taken in front of a reproduction of one at Yale University's Peabody Museum in my youth, and I still recall my awe and wonder at its size.
The Olmec Colossal Grog showcased a grand mint bouquet over guava and vegetal agave aromas. Next, pectin-smoothed grapefruit and lime on the sip slid into tequila, guava, and allspice on the swallow.

Friday, August 31, 2018

the truth

2 oz Punt e Mes
1/2 oz Cynar
1/2 oz Strega
2 dash Orange Bitters (Regan's)

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with an orange twist.
Two Fridays ago, I decided to make a low proof bitter number that I had spotted on the BarNotes app -- namely the Truth by Mike Steele of Dallas' Cedars Social. With Punt e Mes as the base along with two herbal modifiers, it reminded me of some of Maks Pazuniak's drinks like the Charlatan; moreover, the Strega aspect made me think of Chris Hannah's creations like the Rebennack. Once prepared, the Truth proffered orange oil with some dark notes from the Punt e Mes and Cynar poking through on the nose. Next, a sweet red grape sip with hints of orange on the sip led into bitter herbal flavors on the swallow that transitioned to Strega spice on the finish.

Thursday, August 30, 2018


1 oz Del Maguey Mezcal Vida (Fidencio)
1 oz Aperol
1 oz Blanc Vermouth (Dolin)

Stir with ice, strain into an old fashioned glass with a large ice cube, and garnish with a grapefruit twist.
After I finished reading Finding Mezcal by Del Maguey's Ron Cooper and spirits author Chantal Martineau, I decided to make one of the book's forty recipes that night. In tribute to recently departed bartender John Lermayer of Miami's Sweet Liberty, I selected his mezcal Negroni of sorts called the Mezcalero. Once prepared, the Mezcalero greeted the nose with grapefruit oil from the twist and orange aromas from the Aperol that both brighted the mezcal's smoke. Next, orange and white grape on the sip led into smoky mezcal and bitter orange on the swallow.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

jamaica snifter

1/2 oz Passion Fruit Nectar (1/4 oz Passion Fruit Syrup)
3 oz Trader Vic Navy Grog Mix (1 oz Lime Juice, 1 oz Grapefruit Juice, 3/4 oz Simple Syrup, 1/4 oz St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram)
1/4 oz Dark Crème de Cacao (Tempus Fugit)
1 oz Jamaican Rum (2 oz Smith & Cross)

Shake with ice, pour into a 11 oz brandy snifter, top with ice, and garnish with a mint sprig.

Two Wednesdays ago, I was perusing Trader Vic's 1972 Bartender's Guide when I spotted the Jamaica Snifter. The drink came across like a Navy Grog accented with the flavor duo of passion fruit and cacao that worked rather well in the Bahia Sling. Given that Trader Vic's Navy Grog consisted of equal parts of lime juice, grapefruit juice, and simple syrup-allspice dram, I modified the recipe accordingly.
The Jamaica Snifter proffered mint over rum funk and allspice aromas. Next, a tropical sip shared lime, passion fruit, and grapefruit notes, and the swallow rounded things off with funky rum, chocolate, and allspice flavors.