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


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
(1 dash Regan's Orange Bitters) (*)

Stir with ice, strain into a rocks glass, and garnish with lemon oil from a twist.
(*) Postnote: The Hawthorne bar bible includes this recipe with the dash of bitters.
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.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

bohemian rhapsody

1/2 oz Plymouth Gin (Tanqueray)
1 oz Barrow's Intense Ginger Liqueur
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Lime Juice

Shake with ice, strain into a Highball glass with crushed ice, and top with Pilsner Urquel (2 oz). Garnish with nutmeg, mint, and citrus (lemon wheel).

Two Wednesdays ago, I delved into the Queen (the band) cocktail biopic on the Alcohol Professor site that my King of the Impossible appeared in. The first recipe that called out to me was Johnny Swet's Bohemian Rhapsody that he crafted at the Grand Republic Cocktail Club in Brooklyn. Johnny's thinking was that utilizing British gin would be "a nod to the Queen (of England)" and the Pilsner was a tribute to the Bohemian people. The concept reminded me of some of the beer cocktails that we created for a Mixology Monday back in the day, so I was curious to try this one out.
The Bohemian Rhapsody welcomed the nose with woody spice, ginger, lemon, and mint aromas. Next, a carbonated sip offered citrus and malt notes, and the swallow showcased the gin's piny juniper and citrussy botanicals along with the liqueur's ginger and finished with a woody flavor perhaps from the beer interacting with the ginger.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

port o' spain

1/4 oz Angostura Bitters
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
3/4 oz Simple Syrup made from Cane Crystals
1 oz Appleton Estate 12 Year Rum (Denizen Merchant's Reserve)
1 oz Lustau Brandy (Camus VS Cognac)
1/4 oz Luxardo Maraschino

Shake with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe pre-rinsed with Amontillado sherry (Lustau), and garnish with lemon oil from a twist (lemon twist used as garnish).

On Tuesday evening two weeks prior, I decided to make another Lustau competition recipe that I had spotted from their 2017 season called the Port o' Spain by bartender Blaine Adams. Given the hefty amount of Angostura in the mix, I was intrigued. Blaine explained his drink as, "One of my favorite cocktails is a Trinidad Sour and as Trinidad was colonized by the Spanish, making a riff on the Trinidad sour seemed the easy choice for this competition. The sherry mellows out the big flavors in a good way and it brings back a Spanish flair to a sour from a Spanish colonized island."
The Port o' Spain donated lemon oil, nutty from sherry and Maraschino, and caramel aged spirit aromas to the nose. Next, lemon and caramel mingled on the sip, and the swallow proffered rum, brandy, nutty, clove, and cinnamon flavors. Given the relatively moderate amount of bitters, the Port o' Spain was not as out there as a Trinidad Sour and came across as a pleasing spiced split spirits Sour.

Monday, November 19, 2018


1 oz Rye Whiskey (Rittenhouse Bonded)
1 oz Ramazzotti
1 oz Aperol
2 dash Peychaud's Bitters

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

Two Mondays ago, I found a Word document on my computer that contained the Blue Room's 2013 menu specs. Towards the end of the list was a curious number called the Ragtime that appeared like a few drinks such the Black & Bluegrass and the A Man About Town given the rye, Aperol, and amaro combination. With a little sleuthing, I discovered a 2012 Imbibe Magazine article that proved that it was not a house original of this lost Cambridge establishment but a 2009 recipe from Jeremy James Thompson at Manhattan's Raines Law Room.
The Ragtime gave forth an orange and anise bouquet to the nose along with a fruitiness from the Aperol. Next, orange and caramel on the sip slid into rye, cola, and orange flavors on the swallow with an anise finish from the Peychaud's Bitters and absinthe combination.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

black friar tea

2 oz Plymouth Gin (Tanqueray)
1 1/3 oz Pimm's No. 1
2/3 oz Aperitivo Liqueur (1/3 oz Aperol + 1/3 oz Campari)

Build in a Collins or Highball glass with ice, top with 3 oz ginger beer (Reed's), and garnish with a lemon wheel and a lime wheel (lemon twist).

For the cocktail hour two Sunday nights ago, I began flipping through Lou Bustamante's The Complete Cocktail Manual to look for a passed-over gem. There, I spied the Black Friar Tea by Julian Miller of Tampa's USBG chapter. If I still had Plymouth Gin on my shelves, I would have utilized it here (given the name and the recipe's spirit call), for the distillery took over the Black Friars' monastery as I mentioned in my Plymouth tribute, the Black Friar. I later discovered and made a gin-based Black Friars from an old United Kingdom Bartenders Guild's Approved Cocktails book that was surely a tribute as well despite the lack of gin specification. Here, the recipe came across like a embittered Pimm's Cup crossed with a Fog Horn (gin, ginger ale +/- lime), so I was definitely curious.
For the aperitivo, I felt that Aperol would be quite pleasant here, but there was a chance that it could get lost; therefore, I split the volume with Campari. Once prepared, the Black Friar Tea donated a lemon, pine, and fruity bouquet to the nose. Next, a carbonated orange and berry sip was followed by juniper, bitter orange, and ginger flavors on the swallow.

Saturday, November 17, 2018


1 liqueur glass Italian Vermouth (1 oz Cocchi)
1 liqueur glass Quinquina (1 oz Byrrh)
1 liqueur glass Rye Whiskey (1 oz Old Portrero 18th Century)

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

Two Saturdays ago, I ventured back into Louis' Mixed Drinks from 1906 and spotted the Aime that reminded me of the Marliave's Cocktail from that same tome. Moreover, the structure made me think of a less bitter 1794 with a quinquina in place of the 1794's Campari. Given that the drink name translates from French as "love," it has a much more positive feel than the previous night's Tainted Love.
The Aime offered up a nose that was mostly rye-driven in a Scotch sort of way followed by grape brightened by lemon oil aromas. Next, malt and grape on the sip gave way to rye and plum flavors on the swallow with a dry quinine and herbal finish.

Friday, November 16, 2018

tainted love

1 1/2 oz Cognac (Courvoisier VS)
1/2 oz Meletti Amaro
1/2 Egg White (1 Egg White)
1 tsp Goya Guava Jelly (1/4 oz La Fe guava paste melted with a little water in the microwave)
1 tsp Lemon Juice (1/4 oz)

Shake once without ice and once with ice, strain into a glass, and garnish with Angostura Bitters.

Two Fridays ago, I returned back to my list of Amaro Meletti recipes that I had compiled and decided upon the Tainted Love. This one was not the Tainted Love that I created for Yacht Rock Sundays a few years ago, but it was the one created at Washington DC's Eat Bar for their Valentine's Day 2017 menu by way of a DCist article. The drink's guava jelly component is a classic ingredient that dates back to the Barbadoes Punch in Jerry Thomas' 1862 book if not earlier, and I used it in some of my own creations like the Fascination Street and the Jakartoni.
The Tainted Love shared a clove and allspice aroma from the bitters along with hints of Cognac on the nose. Next, a creamy guava and caramel sip led into Cognac blending into guava on the swallow with a floral finish from the amaro.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

cuban cocktail

2 dash Orange Bitters (Regan's)
1 dash Maraschino (1/4 oz Luxardo)
1 liquor glass French Vermouth (1 oz Noilly Prat Dry or 1 oz Dolin Blanc)
2 liquor glass Dry Spanish Sherry (2 oz Lustau Amontillado)

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
At the end of the bar tools talk, we were provided with parting gifts that included some of Cocktail Kingdom's reprints from their Mud Puddle line. Therefore, for a drink that night, I delved into Louis' Mixed Drinks from 1906 and found the Cuban Cocktail. Of the three other Cuban Cocktails on the blog, this had a slight overlap with the Cuban from Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars more so than the Cognac-based No. 2 or the rum-based No. 6. I first made this Cuban Cocktail utilizing dry vermouth, but the balance was rather dry considering that the only sweetness was coming from the Maraschino amidst the drying other components, so I repeated the drink with better success for my palate with blanc vermouth. Once prepared, both versions offered up a nutty, oxidized aroma to the nose with the blanc vermouth one sharing a floral note here. Next, red grape with hints of cherry on the sip was either dry or semi-sweet depending on the vermouth choice. And finally, the swallow gave forth a nutty combination of sherry and Maraschino with an orange and herbal finish; the blanc take on the drink also donated delightful floral notes here.

chatham artillery punch

Peels of 6 Lemons
1 cup Sugar
8 oz Lemon Juice
12 oz Maker's Mark Bourbon
12 oz Courvoisier VSOP Cognac
12 oz Plantation Xaymaca Rum
1 - 1 1/2 Bottles Sparkling Wine

Make an oleosaccharum of 6 lemon peels plus 1 cup sugar; after 1-2+ hours, dissolve the sugar in 8 oz lemon juice and bring the final volume to 12 oz with water. Add the syrup to 12 oz each of Bourbon, Cognac, and rum over large format ice in a punch bowl. Stir to chill and top off with the Champagne.
Two Thursdays ago, the Boston Shaker shop in Somerville hosted two rounds of the History of Bar Tools seminar. The seminar was taught by Ethan Kahn, the general manager of the Cocktail Kingdom store and product line, and I attended the noon session aimed at bartenders. To greet us, Lonnie Newburn of the Boston Shaker and Jack Kavanaugh of Beam Suntory assembled the Chatham Artillery Punch via the recipe provided in David Wondrich's Imbibe! and Punch books. I estimated that they made this recipe to half scale (and provided the measurements as such above) and assumed that any aberrations to Wondrich's recipe were slight. As a further connection to Wondrich, the punch was served in the bowl and ladle set that Cocktail Kingdom collaborated with him on, and I was impressed at how elegant the set was (see the second photo for the attention to detail).
In Punch, Wondrich described how the punch was created by Mr. A. H. Luce in the 1850s to welcome the Republican Blues when they visited Macon, Georgia. The earliest recipe that he sourced was from The Augusta Chronicle in 1885 which built the punch in a "horse bucket," and it was described as, "Rumor hath it every solitary man of the Blues was put under the table by this deceiving, diabolical and most delightful compound." Indeed, the combination was rather smooth with a lightly carbonated and citrus flavor and a blurred identity for the liquor component.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

harvest sling

1 1/2 oz Laird's Bonded Apple Brandy
3/4 oz Sweet Vermouth (Cocchi)
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Benedictine
1/2 oz Cherry Heering

Shake with ice, add 1 1/2 oz ginger beer (Reed's) to the shaker, and strain into a Collins glass with crushed ice. Garnish with half an orange wheel and two cherries on a pick (orange twist).
Two Wednesdays ago, I delved back into my Food & Wine: Cocktails collection and found an interesting Singapore Sling riff in the 2014 edition (although closer to the original than the more modern, fussy one). That recipe was the Harvest Sling of John Deragon at PDT in Manhattan, and the apple brandy and ginger beer direction seemed to fit the weather quite well. In the glass, the Harvest Sling greeted the nose with orange oil notes that preceded a carbonated cherry sip. Next, the swallow offered apple, more cherry, and herbal flavors with a ginger finish.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

high five

1 1/2 oz Beefeater Gin
1/2 oz Aperol
1 oz Grapefruit Juice
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Simple Syrup

Shake with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with a high five.

Two Tuesdays ago, I delved into my new copy of the Cocktail Codex and selected the High Five from the Daiquiri section. The book breaks down all drinks into six categories and discusses how modifying the base, balance, and seasoning will lead to new drinks. Here, the Alex Day riffed on the Hemingway Daiquiri and took things in a gin and Aperol direction from the classic's rum and Maraschino.
In the glass, the High Five proffered a pine, grapefruit, and orange nose. Next, the sip was rather citrussy with grapefruit, lime, and Aperol's orange notes, and the swallow began with the gin's juniper and continued on into slightly bitter orange flavors. Overall, the balance was rather light and refreshing like other Aperol-grapefruit drinks such as The 212.

Monday, November 12, 2018

la penumbra

1 1/2 oz Lustau Brandy (Camus VS Cognac)
1/2 oz Lustau Oloroso Sherry
1/4 oz Cinnamon Syrup (1/2 oz)
1 bsp Tamicon Tamarind Concentrate
2 dash Chocolate Bitters (Bittermens)

Shake (stir) with ice, strain into a double old fashioned glass with an ice ball, and garnish with lemon oil from a twist. Although I stirred, shaking as written would break up the thick tamarind syrup better.

Two Mondays ago, I decided to make a recipe that I had spotted in the 2017 Lustau competition archives called La Penumbra. The drink was invented by Kate Perry in honor of the full solar eclipse that year. I was drawn to the concept for it utilized tamarind concentrate that I had tinkered with in the Final Countdown and Eye of the Tiger; moreover, Kate paired it with cinnamon as I had done in the Same Deep Water as You. I ended up increasing the cinnamon syrup amount after finding the balance a bit on the tart and dry side for my palate.
La Penumbra greeted the senses with bright lemon oil countering darker notes from perhaps the tamarind or the sherry. Next, grape on the sip was modulated by the tangy acids from the tamarind, and the swallow showcased brandy, nutty sherry, tamarind, and cinnamon flavors.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

grog of thor

1 oz Monkey Shoulder Scotch (1 oz Famous Grouse + 1 dash Laphroaig 10 Year)
3/4 oz Krogstad Aquavit
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Orange Juice
1/2 oz Averna
1/2 oz Simple Syrup

Shake with ice, strain into a double old fashioned glass with ice (ice cone), and garnish with an orange peel and a star anise pod (omit star anise).

Two Sundays ago, I kept in theme with the previous night's Commando Grog with Trey Jenkin's Grog of Thor. Trey created this recipe while at Peche in Austin for a ShakeStir competition in 2014, and since Scotch paired elegantly with Averna such as in the A Drunk in a Midnight Choir and the Holiday in the Sun, I was game to give this one a go. Moreover, I was curious to see how the spices of aquavit would play in the mix. In my excitement to make the drink later that night, I crafted a Navy Grog ice cone to adorn the drink.
Once prepared, the Grog of Thor offered an orange, caramel, caraway, and peat smoke bouquet to the nose. Next, orange and caramel provided a gentle sip, and the swallow showcased the peat smoke and Scotch, the caraway and star anise spices of the aquavit, and herbal flavors from the Averna.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

commando grog

1 1/2 oz Grapefruit Juice
3/4 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Falernum
1/2 oz Orgeat
1/2 oz Cinnamon Syrup
1/2 oz Allspice Dram (Hamilton's)
1 oz Coruba Rum
1 oz Don Q Añejo Rum
1 oz Hamilton's 86° Rum (El Dorado 5 Year)

Shake with ice, strain into a double old fashioned glass (Tiki mug), and fill with crushed ice; I garnished with chocolate mint sprigs.

Two Saturdays ago, I had spotted a recipe on El Nova's Instagram for another riff by Jason Alexander (a/k/a Tiki Commando) called that Commando Grog that expanded upon the classic Navy Grog's sweeteners while holding the rest very similar. Since I enjoyed Jason's treatment of the Jungle Bird similarly called the Commando Bird, I was game to give this one a shot.
The Commando Grog offered up cinnamon and allspice aromas along with notes from the chocolate mint that I added as a garnish. Next, caramel and grapefruit on the sip transitioned into dark rum with a hint of funk, allspice, cinnamon, and clove flavors on the swallow with a caramel and lime finish.

Friday, November 9, 2018

seven sins

1 oz Rye Whiskey (Old Overholt)
1 oz Applejack (Laird's Bonded)
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
3/4 oz Grenadine
2 dash Angostura Bitters

Shake with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with a pinch of cinnamon (freshly grated over the top).
Two Fridays ago, I started browsing the Food & Wine: Cocktails section of my book shelf and found the Seven Sins from the 2011 edition. The drink was John Coltharp's modification of the Jack Rose by converting it into a whiskey drink by splitting the spirits. In retrospect, the idea was very similar to the Turnpike at Milk & Honey but with bitters, cinnamon garnish, and slightly different proportions. In the glass, the Seven Sins greeted the nose with an apple, pomegranate, and cinnamon bouquet. Next, the sip showcased lemon and berry notes while the swallow paired the whiskey and apple flavors along with cinnamon and clove spice.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

:: art of garnish -- a philosophical approach ::

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

Developing a cocktail or adapting a classic for a menu or a standardized house recipe does not stop once the proportions have been set, the glass type selected, and the name decided, but with the decision of how to garnish the drink. There are many reasons to garnish a drink, some not to do so, and plenty of why to or not to go overboard doing so. This essay is not a step-by-step tutorial by any means, just some thoughts on the art as a whole.

A garnish can add several things to a drink including visual beauty and aroma to the imbibing experience. Moreover, it can provide a snack as well as allowing additional flavors to enter the drink over time such as with a fancy flavored ice cube, bitters dashed over the crushed ice, or a citrus twist or spice in a high-proof or warm drink. Sometimes the garnish is expected, like mint on a Julep, a cherry in a Manhattan, and a twist or olives in a Martini, and the guest might feel slighted in a very emotional way by its absence. In many of these cases, especially the Martini, the cocktail takes on an almost religious fervor as to the correct way it should be delivered.

Other times, the garnish is added to improve the guest’s perception of the drink. We currently live in the age of Instagram with our phone’s cameras telling stories that our audiences cannot taste but with their eyes. This happened even before the mobile internet-through-garnish envy. In one instance, a pair’s drink orders were the most ornate and the least garnished drinks on the menu, respectively. The look of jealousy teetering on anger from the latter one who received an ungarnished drink in a rocks glass to her friend who got the egg white drink with a fancy bitters-painted stencil (and perhaps to me as the bartender serving them) has been etched into my mind. And there are plenty of times that people want that Tiki drink or other fun libation given its presentation alone, whether it be the vessel, flames, or other aspect of garnish. Yes, Tiki is a genre where more is more to a point, and the baseline for acceptability has been shifted over, but the same concepts discussed below still apply.
Garnish allows for the breaking up of monotony especially with the upswing of bittered, brown, and stirred drinks. Their presence can differentiate drinks, which has been useful when a guest asks for another round and you can recall what the other bartender served them just by the garnish remaining in the glass. However, there is a joy of no (or low) frills drinking, especially at certain types of bars, with certain company, or after the second or third drink. Therefore, the house theme as to whether garnish will be baroque and lavish or conservative and restrained ought to be figured out. The tighter this spectrum, the less chance there is for garnish envy, and the easier it is to figure out the house style.

The range of garnish materials starts with the vessel, whether it is antique glassware or an unusual ceramic mug, and can continue down below to what the drink is placed upon. Indeed, fancy coasters, fabric napkins, or trays can add to the drink’s experience. Garnishes can not only break up the monotony, but can help to tell a story such as through a symbol or to provide an extra sensual thrill. A good example of a symbol was a lightning bolt-shaped lemon peel garnish floated on top of my David Bowie tribute drink called Life on Mars (it also appealed to Harry Potter fans though who connected in their own way), and the Tiki literature has many--including cherries and a pineapple cube on a pick--for the Three Dots & A Dash.
When deciding on the specified type of garnishes that go into a drink, there are some considerations, especially with menu items:

First, garnishes take extra time past the mixing of the drink, and a menu item ought to be served the same way on a slow Tuesday as on a busy Saturday night. Some of this effort can be front-loaded by making garnishes in advance, such as at the beginning of the shift or by figuring out more time-stable garnishes such as dried citrus wheels; do consider that greatly adding to the beginning of the shift, along with the rest of the checklist, can make opening more of a rush and a chore.

Second, garnishes need to take into consideration the range of talent of the bar staff such that a menu item will be garnished the same way regardless of who is making it. One person’s knife skills often do not sum up the abilities of the rest of the staff or their desire for perfection. The use of tools such as shape cutters, pinking shears, and the like can alleviate some of these time, effort, and talent concerns though.

Bespoked off-menu drinks allow for more time-consuming garnishes, since they are either a one-off order or limited to a short window of time (especially when ordered by neighbors possessing drink envy or curiosity). Cocktail specials such as drink of the day can allow for extravagance on slower nights and limit concerns over whether the whole staff can enact the garnish. One issue with these drinks, and especially ones posted mostly for Instagram, is the understanding that they might bring in guests who expect the same treatment; when they receive a plain cocktail glass with a day-old lime wedge and not the crazed Instagram number, their expectations might have been set too high and not aligned to the average drink provided at the bar. Social media to some extent ought to match the reality of the guest experience.

When thinking about garnishes, make sure that all of it is edible such as by not using toxic flowers, or at least clearly not edible such as by the use of plastic items. If it is in or on a glass and not clearly plastic or metal, assume that people will try to eat it at some point. The concept of a garnish as a snack is well engrained with the same cherries being used on sundaes in our childhood as in cocktails in our adulthood save, of course, for the more recent and higher end places that use Marasca or brandied cherries. Safety ought to be considered with fire or sharp pokey objects that can jab the drinker in the face or eye. This spatial issue has more than just safety with dangerous garnishes but overall comfort with more benign ones as well. Does the garnish generate steric hindrance such that it gets in the way of enjoying the drink? Might the garnish bump the drinker in the nose or does the guest have to drink around an image printed on a rice paper disk floating on half the surface of the drink? Does the garnish get in the way of holding the drink, such as a wide-sugared rim on a rocks glass? Many of these issues do not impinge on the welfare of the guest but on the ease and comfort of quaffing the drink. Sometimes the imbiber will signal their lack of amusement by taking off that time-intensive garnish immediately or within the first few sips, but other times it will be more subtle.

In the end, a garnish can add a lot to a drink’s beauty, but it can also get in the way of its enjoyment. The trend towards baroque garnishing to attract social media attention comes at the cost of time and consistency, especially if not every bartender can provide that experience, or if those drinks are not available to most guests. The style of garnish ought to match the expectations of the guests, and not every drinker really wants toys or a salad floating in or hanging off their glass, or to wait an extra amount of time as their drink (and all the drink orders before theirs) gets garnished. Find the style that is right for the bar, proper for each drink, and perfect for the guest at that moment across the bar. An icebreaker for a first date has a different range of appropriateness than cocktails served over a business meeting (or a last date) after all. In many instances, drinking is meant to be fun, but in others, it is more somber and conservative; often there are circumstances where both ends of that mood spectrum are occurring simultaneously at the same establishment. Bartending is all about acting on instinct and anticipation as to what would make the guest’s experience better, and so too should the garnish match the moment.


2 twists Grapefruit Peel
2 oz Tanqueray 10 Gin (regular Tanqueray)
1/2 oz Galliano L'Autentico
1 tsp Simple Syrup
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Squeeze grapefruit twists over the mixing glass and drop in. Add the rest of the ingredients, stir with ice, and strain into a cocktail coupe.
Two Thursdays ago, I ventured into the Death & Co. Cocktail Book for a glossed over gem. The one that caught my eye was the Mainland, Thomas Waugh's 2009 riff on the Alaska from the Savoy Cocktail Book that called for the spice-driven Galliano instead of the herbal Yellow Chartreuse. The recipe called for expressed grapefruit peels in the mix, and I am not sure if that technique when stirred falls under the same category of Regal when the peels are included in the shaker tin. However, adding oil to the mixing glass is a technique I have frequently seen Maks Pazuniak utilize a few times such as in the Growing Old and Dying Happy is a Hope, Not an Inevitability. Once prepared, the Mainland greeted the senses with a grapefruit, vanilla, and star anise nose. Next, a richness on the sip became juniper, vanilla, star anise, grapefruit, and clove on the swallow.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

king of the impossible

1 1/2 oz Cachaça (Seleta Gold)
3/4 oz Lapsang Souchong Tea Syrup (*)
1/4 oz Giffard Banane du Bresil
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1 dash Peychaud's Bitters

Shake with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with a grapefruit twist.
(*) A strong steep of a Lapsang Souchong (or other smoky) tea bag in 4 oz water (around double strength) for 5 minutes. Remove tea bag and mix in an equal volume of sugar, stir, and cool.
On Facebook, I spotted a call for participants for a Queen (the band) cocktail biopic on the Alcohol Professor site, and I was excited to participate. After picking a song and crafting a drink, I described my entry as:
While my childhood was filled with a wide variety of Queen songs from We Will Rock You to Bicycle Race, I connected most with the band's work through their soundtrack of the 1980 Flash Gordon movie. I do not know how many times that I watched that on HBO or video tape back in the day, but its campiness surely connected with me. Therefore, I selected the Queen song "Flash's Theme" and dubbed this one after one of the lyrics describing Flash Gordon -- namely King of the Impossible. One of the scenes from the movie that I immediately recalled was the wood beast scene on Arboria, and I tried to channel its woodsy and exotic feel. When I honed in on cachaça [as the base spirit], I was inspired by Ben Sandrof’s Esmeralda at Drink which utilized a hint of Scotch smokiness to complement the cachaça base. Instead of Scotch, I went with a smoked tea syrup, and the rest fell into place with a touch of banana for exoticism and a dash of Peychaud’s Bitters which work great with the Amburana-aged Seleta Gold Cachaça that I utilized (as I discovered in making a Cachaça Sazerac one night).
Once the recipe was finalized, the King of the Impossible welcomed the nose with grapefruit, banana, and cachaça funk aromas. Next, lime and tropical fruitiness on the sip gave way to funky cachaça, smoke, banana, and black tea flavors with lingering banana and a hint of anise on the finish.

Please go see the other Queen cocktail entries HERE.

old timer

1 1/2 oz Bourbon (Old Grand-Dad Bonded)
1/2 oz Cynar
1/2 oz Punt e Mes
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/4 oz Simple Syrup
2-4 dash Angostura Bitters (4 light dashes)

Shake with ice, strain into a Collins glass with ice, top with soda (2 oz), and garnish with an orange twist.
Two Wednesdays ago, I was excited to utilize my new purchase of Nico Martini's Texas Cocktails for the evening's libation. There, I spotted a bitter whiskey number called the Old Timer from Peggy's on the Green in Boerne, Texas, that seemed like a good place to start. Once prepared, the Old Timer offered up orange oil and Bourbon notes to the nose. Next, a carbonated caramel, grape, and lemon sip slid into Bourbon and a rounded bitter flavor on the swallow with a funky herbal finish from the Cynar.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018


3/4 Rye (2 1/4 oz Michter's Straight Rye)
1/4 Italian Vermouth (3/4 oz Cocchi Vermouth di Torino)
1 dash Crème Yvette (1/4 oz)
1 dash Crème de Noyaux (1/4 oz Tempus Fugit)

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass; I added an orange twist.

Two Tuesdays ago, I was perusing the American whiskey section of Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars: 1903-1933 when I spotted an interesting Manhattan variation called the Tammany. Here, the Manhattan lacked bitters but contained a dash of Crème Yvette's like that book's Caboose and a dash of crème de noyaux akin to the book's Borgers. Tammany is most likely a reference to Tammany Hall that was a New York City political group founded in the late 18th century that lasted until the mid-20th century; it controlled both New York City and State politics especially during the mid-19th to early 20th centuries where it was heavily implicated in a slew of graft and corruption issues. I first became aware of the political machine during college where my dorm's coffee shop was named Tammany (Risley Hall at Cornell University) -- while it had its cliques, it seemed pretty non-corrupt save for the menu that contained puns like the Pizza Hegel (for the pizza bagel).
The Tammany as a drink led off with an orange, nutty, and berry-floral aroma. Next, grape and berry danced on the sip, and the swallow proffered rye whiskey, violet, and nutty flavors.

Monday, November 5, 2018

burlap & satin

1 1/2 oz Krogstad Aquavit
1 oz Pineapple Juice
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Aperol
1/2 oz Simple Syrup

Shake with ice, strain into a double old fashioned glass with ice, and garnish with a pineapple quarter and a cucumber noodle (lemon twist flower and cucumber slice).
Two Mondays ago, I reached for my copy of Drinking Like Ladies for the evening's libation. There, I decided upon Rhachel Shaw's Dolly Parton tribute that she created at Los Angeles' Harvard & Stone called the Burlap & Satin. Burlap & Satin was Dolly's 26th solo album that she released in 1983 that contained two tracks from the movie The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. Once prepared, the drink offered a cucumber, lemon, caraway, and star anise bouquet to the nose. Next, lemon with hints of pineapple and Aperol's orange on the sip slid into pineapple and caraway flavors on the swallow with a star anise finish.

Sunday, November 4, 2018


2 oz Gin (Tanqueray)
3/4 oz Sweet Vermouth (Cocchi)
1/4 oz St. Germain (St. Elder)
1 tsp Absinthe (20 drop St. George)
1 dash Orange Bitters (Regan's)

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

Two Sundays ago, I began flipping through the Stir Your Soul recipe book that Tales of the Cocktail published in 2009 to showcase recipes being offered that year whether at seminars, during events, or on the Tales' blog. One that caught my eye was the Cheapskate by Paul Clarke of the Cocktail Chronicles; Paul crafted this recipe for Matt Rowley's Mixology Monday entitled "Hard Drinks for Hard Times" where I contributed a quartet of beer-for-Champagne cocktail recipe swaps. Paul even made his version cheaper by using more budget ingredients and dubbing that one the Unwanted Houseguest. I do not believe that Paul served this during Tales that year for it was listed in the book as part of the Tales' blog, but I had the privilege of being served his Dunniette by the man himself. The only modification I made on the original was to tone down the absinthe from 1/6 oz (1 tsp) to 20 drops (1/2 bsp) to give the other ingredients a chance to shine.
The Cheapskate welcomed the nose with floral aromas accented by juniper and anise. Next, grape and the fruitiness from the elderflower combined on the sip, and the swallow proffered gin, herbal, and floral elements that concluded with an absinthe's anise finish.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

sharpie mustache

3/4 oz Dry Gin (Tanqueray)
3/4 oz Rye (Michter's)
3/4 oz Amaro Meletti
3/4 oz Bonal Gentiane-Quina
1 dash Tiki Bitters (Bittercube Jamaican No. 2)

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

Two nights after getting distracted by the Drunken Helmsman, I decided to make the Sharpie Mustache which was the reason I bought my bottle of Amaro Meletti in the first place. The recipe was crafted by Chris Elford at Manhattan's Amor y Amargo circa 2011-12, and I sourced my recipe from Brad Parson's Amaro book (I have seen it in several of my books including Sother Teague's, but it was the first one that I grabbed). Elford described the name in Food & Wine: Cocktails 2015 as, "I first served it to an older woman. I imagined her going back to her senior-citizen sorority house and somebody drawing a Sharpie mustache on her" (due to it being so strong). Apparently at Amor y Amargo, the cocktail comes batched in a flask (replete with a mustache sticker) that is poured over an ice cube in a rocks glass before receiving the orange twist; house recipes seem to call for Rittenhouse 100 Rye, Beefeater Gin, and two dashes of Tiki bitters.
The Sharpie Mustache tickled the nose with orange, violet, and caramel aromas. Next, grape and caramel mingled on the sip, and the swallow showcase the rye, gin's juniper and other botanicals, and floral-herbal flavors from the Meletti and Bonal.

Friday, November 2, 2018

drunken helmsman

1 1/2 oz Plantation Dark Overproof Rum (Plantation OFTD)
1/2 oz Amaro Meletti
1/2 oz Falernum (Velvet)
1/2 oz Maple Syrup
1 oz Lime Juice

Shake with crushed ice and pour into a double bucket glass (shake with ice, strain into a Tiki mug, and fill with crushed ice. Garnish with a zigzag orange twist and a mint sprig.

Two Fridays ago, I convinced myself to purchase a bottle of Amaro Meletti since I was tempted to try the Sharpie Mustache from the Amaro and Sother Teague's books. In the process of looking up possible uses to sway myself to buy the ingredient, I uncovered Jason Alexander's Drunken Helmsman in a few places including the Inu A Kena blog and the Small Screen Network, and I felt that I had to make this one first! The recipe was one of Jason's Tiki wonders that he crafted at the Tacoma Cabana circa 2013, and like the Sunset at Gowanus a few nights before, this one had the magical New England Autumnal combination of dark rum and maple syrup balanced by lime juice. While the recipe was crafted before Plantation OFTD Rum was brought to market, some later recipes that I spotted called for it instead of the original's Plantation Dark Overproof.
The Drunken Helmsman greeted the senses with an orange, mint, and caramel rum bouquet. Next, lime and caramel on the sip slid into dark rum, maple, herbal, and clove flavors on the swallow with a violet floral finish. Indeed, the Meletti worked well here as it had in other dark rum Daiquiri-based recipes like the Tempest and the Daq in Black.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

pax sax sarax

2 oz Glenmorangie Single Malt (Kavalan Whisky)
1/4 oz Peychaud's Bitters
1/4 oz Cherry Heering

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail glass pre-rinsed with absinthe (St. George), and garnish with 3 cherries (1 cherry).

Two Thursdays ago, I decided to make a drink by Jamie Boudreau that was a riff on Leo Engel's 1878 Alabazam; the idea had been spurred on by ones of Gary Regan's recent email newsletters. I was able to track down the recipe by searching Jamie's old blog, Spirits & Cocktails, where he wrote about this drink before Bobby Burns Night in 2009. That drink was called the Pax Sax Sarax, and like the Alabazam, it has a decent amount of bitters in the mix. Whereas Engel's had a teaspoon of Angostura Bitters to flavor the brandy, Boudreau's had a quarter ounce of Peychaud's to accent the Scotch. In his blog post, the drink name was depicted as a magic phrase during Elizabethan times to prolong orgasm.
The Pax Sax Sarax greeted the nose with anise, cherry, and whisky aromas. Next, malt with a fruitiness from the Cherry Heering filled the sip, and the swallow combined smoky whisky, dry cherry, and anise flavors. Overall, it came across as a more spiced and bizarre variation of Eric Alperin's Highlander (2 oz Scotch, 1/2 oz Cherry Heering) that Robert Simonson described in his book The Old Fashioned (I surmise they they were unaware of each other's recipes).