Friday, December 6, 2019

morale & welfare

1 1/2 oz Plantation OFTD Overproof Rum
3/4 oz Cinnamon Syrup
3/4 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Grapefruit Juice
2 dash Bittermens Mole Bitters

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail coupe with an ice cube.

Two and a half weeks ago, La Brasa held its monthly E-Som (East Somerville) Market, and the guest bartender was Ryan Lotz representing Shore Leave (he is also the bar director of Bar Mezzana and Black Lamb). I have known Ryan for over 9 years since he was at the helm of the cocktail program at Lineage, and it was both an honor and a lot of fun to share the bar with him. Ryan mentioned that he was working a bar shift that Friday night, and I figured that it would be convenient to stop by after I took the first cut at Area Four as Shore Leave is two blocks away.
The drink that I selected two Fridays ago was the Morale & Welfare whose name reminded me of another Daiquiri riff, the Death & Sundries, and it was subtitled "This Daiquiri variation will keep your spirits high." The Morale & Welfare greeted the nose with dark rum notes with a hint of funk. Next, a caramel, lime, and grapefruit sip slid into a funky rum swallow with a cinnamon and chocolate finish.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

significant other

2 oz Blanco Tequila (Lunazul)
3/4 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Apricot Liqueur (Combier)
1/2 oz 1:1 Agave Syrup
8 small pieces Chopped Celery

Shake with ice, strain into a rocks glass with fresh ice (cocktail coupe without ice), and garnish with a celery leaf.
After work two Thursdays ago, I turned to the Brooklyn Bartender book for a drink idea. There, I spotted Tom Dixon's fruity and vegetal Significant Other that he crafted at Roberta's. Once prepared, the Significant Other donated a vegetal nose from the agave and perhaps celery elements. Next, a lime sip slipped into tequila and apricot flavors on the swallow with a delightful celery finish.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

:: great gift ideas ::

1360 recipes from Boston from ~2005 to 2017: the Golden Age of Boston Cocktails! My first book, Drink & Tell: A Boston Cocktail Book came out in 2012 as my love letter to my city, its bartenders, bars, and recipes. That book alone drove me to drop my day job and become a professional bartender. My next, book, Boston Cocktails: Drunk & Told in 2017 covers the next 5 years of progression tracing the diaspora of talented bartenders across town as new places opened up. A completely new book with no repeats (save for parts of the techniques section) with a dozen or so essays about hospitality, the Daiquiri Time Out origins, and the history of modern Boston speakeasies. While the first book captured a little over 40 bars and 505 recipes, the second was in excess of 100 locations and 855 recipes.

One of my favorite reviews on Amazon:

Perfect holiday presents right here:
Drink & Tell: A Boston Cocktail Book: on Amazon, B&N, and at the Boston Shaker (signed copies available online and in-store).
Boston Cocktails: Drunk & Told: on Amazon, B&N, and at the Boston Shaker (signed copies available online and in-store).

final ward eight

1 1/4 oz Rye Whiskey (Old Overholt)
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1/4 oz Green Chartreuse
1/4 oz Maraschino (Luxardo)
1/4 oz Grenadine
1/4 oz Orange Juice

Shake with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with an orange twist (a cherry or a lemon twist or no garnish at all would work well here too).

Two Wednesdays ago, Phil Ward's Last Word riff, the Final Ward, came into my mind. My mind free associated with the name and thought about the 1898 Boston classic, Ward 8. Those two drinks share two ingredients, rye and lemon juice, and one word in the name, so why not try to mash them up?
The Final Ward Eight was the end result, and it welcomed the nose with orange oil over rye whiskey and nutty Maraschino notes. Next, a lemon and berry sip slid into rye, nutty cherry, orange juice, and Chartreuse's herbal flavors on the swallow. Overall, it was not as blaring as the Final Ward and not as basic as the Ward 8 but somewhere pleasantly in between.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

magic truce

4/10 Segram's Bourbon (1 1/3 oz Wild Turkey 101)
3/10 Drambuie (1 oz)
1/10 Noilly Prat Dry Vermouth (1/3 oz)
1/10 Orange Juice (1/3 oz)
1/10 Lemon Juice (1/3 oz)

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass; I added a lemon twist.
After having had success with the 1937 Café Royal Cocktail Book via the Morning Glory, I returned to that book two Tuesdays ago and found the Magic Truce. The recipe was crafted by UK Bartender Guild member C. Chiswell who was most famous for being one of the founders in 1951 of the International Bartender Association or IBA. Once prepared, the Magic Truce conjured up a lemon and floral aroma. Next, malt, orange, lemon, and honey on the sip agreed upon Bourbon, honey, and herbal notes on the swallow. Overall, it was not sweet as I first expected, but raising the dry vermouth and juice quotients a bit (or dropping the Drambuie amount) would make for a more balanced drink.

Monday, December 2, 2019


1 1/2 oz Manzanilla Sherry (Lustau Fino)
1 oz Sweet Vermouth (Martini Grand Lusso)
3/4 oz Campari

Stir with ice, strain into a Nick & Nora glass, and garnish with orange oil from a twist.
Two Mondays ago, I was still exhausted from a long work week, so I wanted something low proof as a compromise to abstaining completely. Therefore, I reached for Drew Lazor's Session Cocktails book and spotted the Sharon by New York City bartender Tristan Willey. The Sharon was his lower proof Negroni riff, and he described how "Dry sherry has such as strong backbone. It lends so much to a drink while asking so little of the drinker." Once assembled, the Sharon welcomed the nose with savory and orange oil aromas. Next, an off-dry red grape sip stepped aside to sweet vermouth transitioning to dry, crisp sherry with bitter orange notes in between on the swallow.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

morning glory

1/2 Brandy (2 oz Camus VS Cognac)
1/4 Curaçao (1/2 oz Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao + 1 bsp simple syrup)
1/4 Lemon Juice (1/2 oz)
2 dash Absinthe (3/4 bsp St. George)
2 dash Angostura Bitters

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

Two Sundays ago, I revisited the 1937 Café Royal Cocktail Book for a drink idea. There, I was lured in by the Morning Glory which is not the better know Fizz one but somewhat close to the Morning from Boothby's 1934 edition. Moreover, it was similar to a Sidecar with absinthe and bitters or perhaps an Alabazam with absinthe. The idea appealed to me since earlier in the day, I made one of the servers at work a Sidecar for his brunch shift drink since he recently had an enjoyable one out on the town, and we spent a few moments discussing the drink's history and where it fits in with the cocktail families.
The Morning Glory opened up with lemon oil, brandy, and anise aromas. Next, lemon and orange notes on the sip climbed towards Cognac, orange, clove, and anise flavors on the swallow.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

red morning light

1 1/2 oz Scotch (Cutty Sark Prohibition)
1/2 oz Campari
1/2 oz Dry Vermouth (Noilly Prat)
1/2 oz Coffee Liqueur (Kahlua)
2 dash Bittermens Mole Bitters

Stir with ice, strain into a double old fashioned glass with a large ice cube, spritz with smoky Scotch (several drops Laphroaig 10 Year), and garnish with an orange twist.
After getting home from work two Saturday nights ago, I spotted the bookmarked copy of the November/December 2019 Imbibe Magazine and opened up to the Red Morning Light. That recipe was crafted by Tonia Guffey-Stamper at The Kitchen at Atomic in Las Vegas; Tonia recently headed out to Vegas to open her own spot after honing her craft in such New York watering holes as Dram, Flatiron Lounge, and Lani Kai. Here, this Scotch Negroni reminded me of similar coffee-tinged ones like the Lodge Negroni, Lonnie Desoto, and Sailor's Negroni, so I figured that it would make a great way to wrap up the evening. Once prepared, the Red Morning Light donated an orange and peat smoke bouquet to the nose. Next, malt and roast notes on the sip rose to Scotch, coffee, and bitter orange flavors on the swallow with a chocolate finish.

Friday, November 29, 2019

alley cat

2 oz Citadelle Gin (Tanqueray)
1/2 oz Benedictine
2 dash Orange Bitters (Regan's)

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with an orange twist to mimic a cat's tail over the side of the glass.
Two Fridays ago, I reached for Frank Caiafa's The Waldorf Astoria Bar Book for a nightcap idea and spotted Frank's Alley Cat that was his riff on the Alaska for the 2005 reopening of Peacock Alley. With the structure of spirit, Benedictine, and bitters, the combination reminded me of Paul Harrington's Highlander. Once prepared, the Alley Cat swiped at the nose with an orange and pine aromas. Next, a dry yet rich sip hopped the fence to a juniper, herbal, orange, lemon, chocolate, and minty swallow.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

submarine pilot

1 1/2 oz Plantation 3 Star White Rum
1/2 oz Smith & Cross
3/4 oz Velvet Falernum
1/4 oz Green Chartreuse
1/2 oz Mango Puree (*)
1/2 oz Lime Juice
2 dash Angostura Bitters
2 dash Chocolate Bitters

Whip shake, pour into a Tiki mug, fill with crushed ice, and garnish with an orchid and a lime wheel.
(*) We use Perfect Puree brand, but muddling a cube of fresh mango (plus a fine strain step) will work well here. Perhaps 1 oz of mango nectar would sub in a pinch.
When I started the position at Area Four in Boston, the previous bar manager had departed the night before leaving no one to fill in her shoes. While I have helped to keep up on the batching and syrup making for the other drinks, the Freaky Tiki offering required a few hours of prep to make its complex toasted coconut-hibiscus cordial. Instead of trying to invest the time into that, I crafted a replacement tropical drink. I began with the Test Pilot as my starting point, and I tried to mix in the mango puree that had previously only served to make the kitchen happy during my time there. The curaçao aspect did not seem to work here, so I switched to Green Chartreuse especially with falernum drinks like Telenovela, Dwarf Leopard, and Chartreuse Swizzle in mind. The end result made me happy, and I combined the Test Pilot with my Jet Pilot riff, the Lost U-Boat, names to dub this one the Submarine Pilot. Since this was done during my shift, I did not write down tasting notes but recall how the fruit was bolstered by spice and herbal accents with a strong rum backbone.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

wooden shoe

3/4 oz Genever (Bols)
3/4 oz Aged Apple Brandy (Boulard VSOP Calvados)
1 oz Cardamaro
1/4 oz Benedictine
1/4 oz Yellow Chartreuse
2 dash Peychaud's Bitters

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

After writing up the Le Subtil, I kept thinking about the Genever-Cardamaro duo. That added to the knowledge I gained earlier in the week when I had checked the Haus Alpenz site where it recommended the apple brandy-Cardamaro pairing, so why not work in both? That was supported by the great Genever-apple brandy drinks on the blog such as Yvonne's Toronto and A Two-Fold Operation; both of those were Calvados recipes, so I opted for that instead of Laird's Bonded. Finally, the apple brandy aspect made me think of the Widow's Kiss and its Benedictine-Yellow Chartreuse accents. For a name, I looked up Dutch fairy tales to support the Genever ingredient and was inspired by the "The Legend of the Wooden Shoe."
The Wooden Shoe stepped to the nose with lemon, malty, and minty-herbal aromas. Next, apple, malt, and grape clopped together on the sip, and the swallow followed through with chocolate, apple, and earthy flavors.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

much ado about nothing

1 1/4 oz Jim Beam Black Bourbon
3/4 oz Averna
3/4 oz Lustau Amontillado Sherry
1/4 oz Benedictine

Stir with ice, strain into a glass, and garnish with a short sprig of rosemary.
After we closed up La Brasa on the earlier side two Tuesdays ago, there was still time to make it Backbar for a nightcap. There, I was presented with their new literary-themed cocktail menu, and I asked bartender Kat Lamper for the Much Ado About Nothing. This drink was subtitled "A marriage of flavors from Spain to Sicily," and the wedding theme was central to that Shakespearean play. The rosemary was listed in the ingredients list, but it factored in not as an infusion, syrup, or muddling, but as a very aromatic garnish; indeed, the Much Ado About Nothing greeted the nose with a rosemary bouquet over darker notes. Next, grape and caramel on the sip tied into Bourbon, nutty, and herbal flavors on the swallow.

Monday, November 25, 2019

le subtil

2 oz Bols Genever
1/2 oz Cardamaro
1/2 oz Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth (Martini Grand Lusso)
2 dash Bittermens Grapefruit Bitters (Bittercube Jamaican #2)

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with a grapefruit twist.
Two Mondays ago, I returned to my list of Cardamaro drinks that I had assembled, and I selected Toby Cecchini's 2009 Le Subtil from The Death & Co. Cocktail Book. Genever and Cardamaro are a duo that I experienced in the Deck Hand and the Walking Spanish, so I was interested in trying it again in a simpler form. Here, the Le Subtil began with grapefruit oil and Genever's malt aroma. Next, the malt continued on into the sip where it mingled with the grape notes, and the swallow showcased the Genever's botanicals melding into a gently bitter finish that ended with grapefruit accents.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

this and that

2 oz Scotch (Cutty Sark Prohibition)
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Peach Liqueur (Mathilde)
1/2 oz Ginger Syrup

Shake with ice, strain into a rocks glass with fresh ice, and garnish with a lime wheel-candied ginger pick (lemon twists-ginger slice pick).
Two Sundays ago, I turned to Imbibe Magazine for the evening's nightcap. The one that I selected from my list to make was the This and That created by Beth Willow of New Orleans' Seaworthy as her riff on Sam Ross' Penicillin. Once prepared, the This and That shared a lemon, ginger, peach, and smoke nose. Next, lemon, malt, and orchard fruit on the sip progressed into Scotch, peach, and ginger flavors on the swallow.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

garibaldi wallbanger

1 Orange, Juiced and Blended (2 1/2 oz)
1 oz Campari
1 oz Vodka (Barr Hill)
1/2 oz Galliano

Build spirits in a small glass and chill in the freezer. Juice a refrigerated orange and blend (stick blender). Pour the fluffy orange juice into the chilled glass with the spirits, mix, and garnish with an orange slice. If a Breville juicer is used, skip the blending step.

After brunch two Saturdays ago, I was reading Instagram and noted that the day before, November 8th, was National Harvey Wallbanger Day. I had written about the last time I had celebrated that holiday which was also the first time that I had that 1970s drink back at an event at Eastern Standard in 2010, and I was curious what direction that I could take it. One of the drinks that I had heard about for a year or two but finally tried late this past summer was the fluffy orange juice-Campari Highball called the Garibaldi. What if I were to merge the two of them? I lacked the Breville juicer that makes beautiful fluffy juice, so I improvised by whipping up freshly squeezed juice with a stick blender. It felt like a solid tribute to the holiday albeit 12 hours late.
The Garibaldi Wallbanger surfed on in with a star anise and bitter orange aroma. Next, a creamy orange sip landed with a slightly bitter orange, vanilla, and star anise swallow. The spice elements of the Galliano melded well with the orange juice and Campari flavors to elevate the classic Garibaldi. And using a local and quality vodka did not hurt things here.

Postnote 11/28/19: I later discovered that there was a 2017 Garibaldi Wallbanger consisting of "Stoli Vanilla, Galliano, San Pellegrino Blood Orange Soda." Considering the absence of Campari or orange juice, mine is closer to a mashup whereas theirs is closer to a spritzy abstraction, but they did beat me to the punch by 2 years or so.

Friday, November 22, 2019

the reluctant saint

1 oz Mezcal (Fidencio)
1 oz Byrrh Grand Quinquina
3/4 oz Campari
1/4 oz Crème de Cacao (Tempus Fugit)
1 dash Absinthe (20 drop St. George)

Stir with ice, strain into a rocks glass with a large cube or into a cocktail coupe (*), and garnish with an orange twist.
(*) The drink seemed to fall apart as it diluted so perhaps a warm drink would be preferable than a wet one over time. The recipe was also based off of a room temperature drink, so perhaps up is best.

Two Fridays ago, I got home from my work shift at Area Four in Boston (I am there on Thursdays and Friday nights and at La Brasa in Somerville on Tuesday and Saturday nights and Sunday brunch) and was in the mood for a cocktail. The day before, I had entered the Ask the Dust into the KindredCocktails database, and the recipe was still on my mind. Here, I took that room temperature Scaffa that I created a little over 5 years ago at Russell House Tavern and moved it closer to a Mezcal Negroni. While the proportions changed, I did remove the Angostura Bitters and added a slug of Campari in its place. For a name, I took the John Fante theme of the inspiration and named it after one of his screen plays, The Reluctant Saint.
The Reluctant Saint welcomed the nose with orange, cherry, and smoke aromas. Next, a dark cherry and grape sip blessed a vegetal agave, chocolate-orange, and quinine-tinged bitter swallow. As the drink diluted over time, the flavors fell apart somewhat so perhaps serving it up (or down) would be better for this combination (especially since it was based off of a room temperature drink).

Thursday, November 21, 2019

bay roc special

1 1/2 oz Gold Jamaican Rum (Appleton Signature)
1/2 oz Drambuie
1 oz Jasper's Basic Stock Mix.

Shake with ice, strain into a cocktail glass (punch cup), and garnish with a cherry (omit)
(*) Jasper's Basic Stock Mix: Stir to dissolve 12 oz sugar in 16 oz lime juice. Add 1 oz Angostura Bitters and 1 heaping tsp freshly grated nutmeg. Refrigerate. Shake before using. I made this at a 1/8th scale which yielded around 3 oz.
When I returned home late from my work shift two Thursdays ago, I remembered that I still had enough Jasper's Basic Stock Mix to make another drink. Therefore, I reached for Jeff Beachbum Berry's Potions of the Caribbean for I recalled that there was another recipe besides the Jasper's Rum Punch in its pages. Beachbum sourced those drinks from Trader Vic's 1974 Rum Cookery & Drinkery book, and there, I saw an array of options and pointers like how Jasper LeFranc used Appleton Special for his call of light-colored Jamaican Rum. All of those recipes were created by LeFranc at Jamaica's Bay Roc Hotel, and I ended up selecting the Bay Roc Special that subbed some of the stock mix in the Rum Punch for Drambuie. Once prepared, the Bay Rock Special greeted the senses with an aged rum caramel, allspice, and honey nose. Next, lime and honey mingled on the sip, and the swallow showcased rum, Scotch, allspice, and clove flavors. Overall, the Drambuie pushed the balance to a slightly sweeter than desired level, but the addition of honey and Scotch notes was rather delightful.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

we don't need another hero

1/2 oz Reposado Tequila (Cimarron)
1/2 oz Mezcal (Fidencio)
1/2 oz Batavia Arrack (von Oosten)
1 1/2 oz Jasper's Basic Stock Mix (*)
1/4 oz Sfumato or Zucca Rabarbaro (Sfumato)
1/4 oz Green Chartreuse
Build in a metal cup, fill with crushed ice, swizzle to mix and chill, and garnish with a lime shell Thunderdome and freshly grated nutmeg.
(*) Jasper's Basic Stock Mix: Stir to dissolve 12 oz sugar in 16 oz lime juice. Add 1 oz Angostura Bitters and 1 heaping tsp freshly grated nutmeg. Refrigerate. Shake before using. I made this at a 1/8th scale which is good for around 2 drinks.

For Tina Turner's 80th birthday on November 26, Amanda Schuster made a call for tribute drinks for the Alcohol Professor site. Like I did for the Freddie Mercury cocktail biopic with the King of the Impossible, I honed in on movies from the 1980s -- namely, 1985's Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. Tina Turner was such a strong character in that movie, and she also did parts of the soundtrack. Therefore, I selected her song "We Don't Need Another Hero" from her discography. Given the post-apocalyptic themes in that movie, I thought about darkness, roughness, smokiness, and spice. As a start, I considered the Jasper's Basic Stock Mix that I tested out in the Jasper's Rum Punch. In place of the Jamaican rum, I substituted the three spirits in Phil Ward's Airbag: reposado tequila, mezcal, and Batavia Arrack. And as an accent, I considered the duo of Rabarbaro and Green Chartreuse that was at the core of John Mayer's 11+2/12+1.
When I called dibs on the song title, Amanda was excited and became fixated on the serving style with advice like, "I think it needs something metallic for the movie theme. Or shiny, anyway!" I replied that I had a metal Julep cup but alas no glassware in chainmail. Then I remembered that I owned a chainmail bracelet that I had bought in the mid 90s, and I opted for a Moscow Mule mug instead of the Julep cup. I had already thought out the Thunderdome that I could carve from a citrus shell even before I had figured out the proper vessel. Once prepared, the We Don't Need Another Hero strapped in with nutmeg, spice, and lime aromas on the nose. Next, lime and dark roasty notes on the sip did battle with smoky, funky, vegetal, and herbaceous flavors on the swallow.

rose gold

1 1/2 oz High West American Prairie Bourbon
1/2 oz Campari
1/2 oz Honey Syrup 1:1
1/2 oz Lemon Juice

Shake with ice, strain into a rocks glass with a big ice cube, and garnish with an orange twist.
Two Wednesdays ago, the Boston USBG chapter hosted Chris Furtado at the Smoke Shop in Somerville to discuss the history and product line of Utah's High West Distillery. For a welcome drink, I selected the Rose Gold that Smoke Shop beverage director Michael Boughton made for me, and I had to assume that it was a bitter riff on the Gold Rush. This whiskey Sour featured Campari and honey that worked well rather recently in the Low Down and was rather pleasant in the Negroni Grog. In the glass, the Rose Gold panned out whiskey, orange, and honey-herbal notes to the nose. Next, lemon, honey, and malt on the sip soon discovered Bourbon and bitter orange flavors on the swallow with a dry floral finish.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

forbidden dance

1 oz Krogstad Aquavit
1 oz Bols Genever
3/4 oz Lustau Amontillado Sherry
1/2 oz Orgeat
1/2 oz Pineapple Juice
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/4 oz Velvet Falernum
1/4 oz Vanilla Syrup

Whip shake, pour into a Tiki mug, and fill with crushed ice. Garnish with a mint bouquet and freshly grated nutmeg.

Two Tuesdays ago, I began perusing The NoMad Cocktail Book and was somewhat surprised when I came across a tropical drink recipe. That one was called the Forbidden Dance by Wally Suarez, and it featured an unlikely spirits duo of aquavit and Genever; Vandaag, the now defunct bar in Manhattan, featured those two spirits, yet I do not recall a drink on the menu with both of them together. Once prepared, the nose snuck caraway, woody spice, and mint aromas from the Forbidden Dance. Next, a creamy pineapple, lime, and grape sip writhed into a caraway, nutty, vanilla, and allspice swallow.

Monday, November 18, 2019

cassini slingshot

1 1/2 oz Gin (Tanqueray)
1/2 oz Limoncello (Sogno di Sorrento)
1/2 oz Passion Fruit Syrup
1/4 oz Orgeat
1/4 oz Falernum (Velvet)
1 Whole Egg

Shake once without ice and once with ice, strain into a single old fashioned or coupe glass (coupe), and garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.

Two Mondays ago after dinner, Andrea mentioned that she would enjoy a Flip due to the chilly weather. After spending a bit of time searching my library for a recipe, I decided to craft one instead. The Flip the Bird as a Jungle Bird riff turned into an egg drink came to mind, and I began to ponder what other Tiki classic could be transformed. I soon honed in on the Saturn, and I figured that limoncello could substitute for the citrus similar to how Paul McGee swaps curaçao for orange juice.
For a name, I honed in on the modern adventures with Saturn via the Cassini probe, and I dubbed this after the probe's final entry to study Saturn's atmosphere. Cassini utilized a slingshot technique around Saturn's moon Titan to gain enough velocity to achieve its last experiment and its demise. The Cassini Slingshot before an entry sip yielded a woody and tropical aroma. Next, a creamy and almond-noted sip sped into a gin, lemon, passion fruit, and clove swallow.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

marilou sazerac

3/4 oz Rye Whiskey (Sazerac)
3/4 oz Cognac (Courvoisier VS)
1/2 oz Laird's Apple Brandy (Laird's Bonded)
1/4 oz Demerara Syrup
6 dash Peychaud's Bitters

Stir with ice, strain into an absinthe-rinsed rocks glass (Butterfly Absinthe), and garnish with a lemon twist.
Two Sundays ago, I returned to Maxim article on Sazerac riffs to make the Marilou Sazerac. I first learned of New Orleans' Bar Marilou through the Brave Margot Jungle Bird riff this summer, so I was definitely excited to try Sam Perez's three spirit Sazerac. His take on the Sazerac welcomed the nose with a familiar aroma of anise-herbal and lemon oil. Next, a semi-sweet malt sip slipped aside to rye, apple, Cognac, and anise flavors on the swallow. While there were no curve balls here, the complex spirit base added a lot of depth to the standard formula.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

last man standing

3/4 oz Rittenhouse Bonded Rye Whiskey
3/4 oz Gin (Tanqueray)
3/4 oz Campari
3/4 oz Fernet Branca

Build in a mixing glass, express 2 orange twists over the contents, add ice, and stir. Strain into a cocktail coupe and garnish with an orange twist.

Two Saturdays ago, my copy of Brad Parsons' Last Call arrived on my doorstep, and I opened up the book to a recipe called the Last Man Standing. The name reminded me of an event at Drink before the exam for the BAR course perhaps a decade ago. As all of the bartenders were leaving to get a good night of sleep before the test, a famous curmudgeon bonded with me as he wanted to enjoy life and the open bar (and I was only a guest of the event and not taking the course myself). I was his pal that evening for I was the last man standing besides him.
The drink itself was crafted by Benjamin Hash of the Horse Inn of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and the idea reminded me a little of Eeyore's Requiem or any of the number of Ferrari (Fernet-Campari) containing drinks like the Black Stallion Sets Sail. Hash in contemplating his last drink provided Parsons with a burly shot turned cocktail that he described as, "It's clearly not for everybody. It is a simple cocktail, but it's strong and full of flavor and depth, really rich in character. It doesn't allow you to drink it without demanding your full attention. It forces contemplation, a moment of clarity... We must be grateful for our fortitude, yet careful and aware of our own fragility." In the glass, the Last Man Standing donated an orange, menthol, and caramel bouquet to the nose. The caramel and orange on the sip inherited rye, pine, and menthol flavors on the swallow with a lingering menthol and bitter orange finish.

Friday, November 15, 2019

the bounty

1 oz Sazerac Rye Whiskey
3/4 oz Oloroso Sherry (Lustau)
1/2 oz Pineapple Syrup
2 dash Peychaud's Bitters
1 dash Bittermens Tiki Bitters (2 dash Bittermens Burlesque)

Stir with ice, strain into a rocks glass pre-rinsed with Herbsaint, and garnish with an orange twist.

Two Fridays ago, I decided to make one of the recipes from Maxim's recent article on Sazerac riffs. The first one that called out to me was The Bounty by T. Cole Newton who owns and bartenders at 12 Mile Limit in New Orleans. He described how "It's a Tiki-tinged spin on the classic Sazerac, inspired by Antoine Peychaud's Caribbean roots and named for the ill-fated ship from Mutiny on the Bounty." I was excited because I wanted to see how pineapple syrup would work as a sweetener in a Sazerac, and whether it would be akin to the pineapple rum Sazerac dubbed the Stigginserac.
The Bounty captured the nose with an orange, anise, and nutty aroma. Next, pineapple and grape cashed in on the sip, and the swallow returned rye, nutty grape, and anise spice flavors on the swallow. With the sherry in the mix, the concept took a tasty Manhattan angle similar to how the Merchants Exchange Manhattan came across.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

marley's ghost

1 1/3 oz Appleton V/X Rum (Appleton Signature)
2/3 oz Punt e Mes
1/3 oz Smith & Cross Rum
1/3 oz Myer's Dark Rum (Gosling's)
1/3 oz Cardamaro

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

My search for Cardamaro drinks continued on the Punch Drinks site where I spotted the Marley's Ghost by Pip Hanson. I grew to appreciate Pip's drink aesthetic through the Northstar Cocktails book with recipes like the bitters-heavy Angophile and the Negroni riff Double Double, so I was excited to try this one that he crafted at the Marvel Bar in Minneapolis. While the name might be a reference to the character in Dickens' A Christmas Carol, the trio of Jamaican rums suggests that it could be a tribute to the reggae master Bob Marley.
Marley's Ghost entered the room with a grapefruit oil over dark and aged rum aromas. Next, caramel and grape swirled on the sip, and the swallow jumped out with funky and almost smoky rum notes that transitioned smoothly to lightly bitter herbal ones.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

midnight mass

2 oz Scarlet Ibis Rum (Privateer Navy Yard)
3/4 oz Cardamaro
1/4 oz Benedictine
1 dash Jerry Thomas Decanter Bitters

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with an orange twist.
Two Wednesdays ago, I began a search for an inaugural recipe to take my new purchase of Cardamaro on a test run. I noted that the Death & Co. Cocktail Book had a few recipes, and the one that caught my eye was the Midnight Mass by Joaquin Simo circa 2009. The drink came across like a rum Preakness with Cardamaro subbing in for the vermouth; Trina's Starlite Lounge had a rum Preakness that they called the Tony Montana, but I was curious to see how the amaro would shape the drink. Once prepared, the Midnight Mass incanted an orange, aged rum, and herbal grape aroma. Next, caramel and grape convened on the sip, and the swallow offered up dry rum and minty-herbal flavors.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

five families frank

2 oz Rittenhouse Bonded Rye
1/2 oz Cocchi Barolo Chinato (Dubonnet Rouge)
1/4 oz Averna
1/4 oz Zucca (Sfumato)
1 tsp Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail coupe.
For a nightcap after work two Tuesdays ago, I ventured back into Leo Robitschek's The NoMad Cocktail Book and spotted the Five Families Frank. The recipe was subtitled, "An Italian-style Manhattan as smooth as Frank in his suit"; I decided to utilize another quinquina since I have only purchased one bottle of Barolo Chinato in the last 13 or so years, and due to the price tag (that one was $60 back then), I probably would not buy another bottle for home. With the Dubonnet, the Five Families Frank presented the nose with herbal bitterness from the Sfumato's Chinese rhubarb root. Next, caramel and a hint of cherry on the sip gave way to rye on the swallow with Averna's smoothness and Maraschino's nuttiness balancing Sfumato's smoky roughness.

Monday, November 11, 2019

:: the joys and agonies of opening a new bar ::

First published on the USBG National site in December 2017 and slightly edited here to reflect time change.

When it comes time to look for a new gig, there are plenty of opportunities to fill a spot on an existing bar's roster, but there are occasionally chances to help to open a new bar program. Is it worth going through the challenge of forming new systems or is it easier to jump in for someone else departing in a more developed establishment? These are some of the things that I pondered before I made a move to open another restaurant's bar some time ago.

One of the perks of joining an existing program is that the staff can teach you the way things are done there, and after that training week or so, you can get right into the swing of earning a living from the regulars and the crowds that have already been built up. For less experienced bartenders, learning from the veteran staff is a great way to get oriented on how to do your job. And for less opinionated or more flexible bartenders, adopting their systems without complaint or input is just part of getting situated in the job.

In opening a new spot, often there are few systems firmly in place, but the bar manager or lead bartender will have ideas on how things should work. Sometimes the ideas match the space and other constraints, but sometimes aspects need to be figured out during the training period and adapted after open. Some leaders are very open to letting the other bartenders have great say in how things should be done and thus decide by consensus, while other leaders feel that it is their right to exert their system to begin with and adapt from there. This can range from house recipe specs to how the wells should be set up. Regardless, rules and standards will be in flux from dress code to comp policies, and sometimes you are alerted to these midway through your evening's shift.

Opening a place also takes a decent sense of humor and humility. Often recipes and processes will change on nights that you are not working and frequently the communication system to alert everyone is not in place. If you are into firm rules and boundaries, these rapid and poorly announced alterations can be jarring especially if delivered with the wrong tone. In addition, expectation for things like closing protocols can be written on paper, but following those to another's judgment when they arrive the next day can be very different.

There are two major problems financially with opening a new bar. The first comes with the open date. Very few places open when they think they will due to construction, city inspections, or other. Unlike joining an established program, the start time for training and opening are not fixed. If you are between jobs, that can mean an extended and indeterminate amount of unemployment (followed by underemployment since most places pay minimum wage for the training hours and sometimes training can drag an extra week or so past the standard expected two weeks). If you are in a position and looking to switch, that can mean playing a waiting game as a sleeper cell; unless of course you are honest and open about your plans to move on with your employer and do not fear them letting you go as soon as they hear that you are not 100% committed to their establishment.

The second financial consideration is earning potential. As mentioned above, the time waiting for training to begin and for the opening night can cost a bit in lost earnings. Following that, building up the guest traffic can be variable. Some places have such a buzz that they gain crowds from the open and continue on through. But in some restaurants, the opening week or two are filled with foodie tourists who are looking to check off that new box and most rarely return. Other spaces start slowly whether being in a developing neighborhood or due to a lack of public relations buzz being built up. Getting the right guests who agree with what you are offering to come in and you providing the right service, food, and drink to get them so that they return is a long haul process. Having some money saved up for this wage gap is necessary; some bartenders will keep a few shifts at their old bar and have fewer days off to tide them over in the meanwhile.

There are also differences in choosing your coworkers. In an established bar, you can sort out the dynamics while staging and quickly discern if there are some trouble spots on the roster. When opening a place, frequently there are only a few pieces in place when you accept, so perhaps you might know the bar and general managers, but the rest are a mystery. And once you gather together, often some percentage will drop out and some will enter into the equation starting in the middle of training and going into the first few weeks of service. If a manager hired well with both personality and talent in mind, there is a chance that a team can gel together rather quickly. Moreover, it is easier for a new hire to carve out their role in the team when it is forming than in joining one that has already hit their stride.

It can also take a bit of time to get the bar firing on all cylinders. Often there is a bit of over-staffing to make up for the inefficiencies of the start up effort. This can lead to frustration of money being split too many ways that can be compounded by other problems such as figuring out where things live (or where they moved to in that rearrangement that happened when you were not there).

When it comes time for a change, it is a good idea to weigh out all the options. New places can come with promises of tip and sales expectations or program greatness, but these are never set in stone. Joining an established program is less risky of a venture, but it can take a lot longer to make an imprint on how the bar functions. In the end, picking a new gig is a lot like dating. There has to be a mutual acceptance of the program and the worker, but after that, it is still a roll of the dice. It can be exciting to see who your regulars will be; although you can pick your food and drink offerings, the guests who return chose you. While you can escape that crazy regular and mourn your kind and generous ones at your last bar, you will find out what develops over time as to who will fill those two roles in the new location. Moreover, opening a new place can give you great insight into various bar programs’ philosophies and techniques as people are often really open to discussing how things were be done in their old spots. While there can be a lot of pleasure in opening a new spot, there is generally a lot of discomfort (both financial or psychological) involved: it is a lot like childbirth where new moms swear off of having another kid, but many return to it with renewed optimism over time.

mount makana

2 oz Pot Still Black Rum (Coruba) (*)
1 oz Pot Still Gold Rum (Smith & Cross)
1 1/2 oz Pineapple Juice
1 oz Lemon Juice
3/4 oz Fernet Branca
1/2 oz Coffee Liqueur (Kahlua)
3/4 oz Demerara Syrup

Shake with crushed ice, pour into a Tiki mug, and garnish with Tiki intent (mint sprigs).
(*) Coruba is a blend of pot and column; the only pot still black rum that I know of (and do not have) is the Hamilton's.
Two Mondays ago, I made another recipe that I had spotted on BigSmokeTiki's Instagram feed called the Mount Makana. His Fernet-laden riff on the Mr. Bali Hai was named after the mountain (also known as Bali Hai) on the South Pacific island of Kauai and is the last part of the United States to see the sunset every night. Once prepared, the Mount Makana erupted with caramel, mint, and menthol nose. Next, lemon, pineapple, and caramel on the sip flowed into dark and funky rums on the swallow with a menthol and coffee finish. Surprisingly, the Fernet Branca was kept in check here by the other strong flavors.

Sunday, November 10, 2019


1 jigger Dry Gin (1 1/2 oz Beefeater)
1/2 pony Brandy (1/2 oz Camus VS Cognac)
Juice of 1/2 Lime (1/2 oz)
3 dash Grenadine (1/2 oz)

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass; I added a lime wheel garnish.

Two Sundays ago, I turned to the wood-covered 1939 Just Cocktails by W.C. Whitfield for the evening's libation. There, I spotted the Flamingo that seemed like an egg-free Pink Lady of sorts. There are two other Flamingo that I know of with the first one being the one that I probably sourced off CocktailDB (most likely through Stan Jones' Complete Barguide) for the International Migratory Bird Day cocktail party we threw in our home in 2008. That Flamingo was gin, lime, apricot liqueur, and grenadine akin to the Bermudian that was later renamed the Boston Cocktail (I surmise that it was the Mr. Boston books that did so). The other Flamingo is the one from Ted Saucier's 1954 Bottoms Up with rum, pineapple, lime, and grenadine. Interestingly, all three recipes have an overlapping aspect of lime and grenadine.
The Flamingo from Whitfield's book began with a pine, berry, and aged brandy nose. Next, lime and berry notes on the sip flew into juniper supported by Cognac's richness on the swallow with a pomegranate finish. While contemplating the "brandy" aspect of the recipe, I did wonder if an unaged pisco would work better than Cognac here.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

brown sugar

1 oz Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva Rum
3/4 oz Rittenhouse Bonded Rye
3/4 oz Lustau East India Solera Sherry
3/4 oz Cynar
2 dash Bittermens Mole Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail coupe.
Two Saturdays ago, I was excited to crack into my new purchase of Leo Robitschek's The NoMad Cocktail Book; I had held off for years when it came as a mini addendum to the NoMad cooking book, but now that it was a stand alone (as well as expanded) version, I gladly made the purchase. The first recipe that clicked with me as I flipped through the pages was Leo's Brown Sugar with a 1919 Cocktail feel to it. Once prepared, the drink greeted the nose with a brown sugar and grape bouquet. Next, the sip continued on with grape and caramel notes, and the swallow offered rum, rye, nutty sherry, and vegetal bitterness with a rye spice and chocolate finish.

Friday, November 8, 2019


1 1/2 oz Scotch (Cutty Sark Prohibition)
1/2 oz Ruby or Tawny Port (Sandeman Tawny)
1/2 oz Campari
1/2 oz Zucca or Sfumato (Sfumato)
2 dash Orange Bitters (Regan's)

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with a lemon twist. Perhaps increasing the port to 3/4 oz and decreasing each of the amaro to 3/8 oz might balance the drink for a wider range of palates. Or perhaps 2 oz Scotch, 1/2 oz port, and 1/4 oz each amaro (with the bitters).

After work two Fridays ago, I had been thinking about how well Campari and rabarbaro (such as Zucca and Sfumato) can join forces to make a complex bitter note like in the Cosa Nostra. Since Scotch and Sfumato paired so well in drinks like the Caustic Negroni, I began to think about classic whisky cocktails and ended up on the port-containing Chancellor from the 1956 Esquire Drink book. With Phil Ward's Baltasar and Blimunda (a Negroni of sorts with port) in mind, I altered the Chancellor to include these two amari.
For a name, I kept with the academic theme that runs in Chancellor-like drinks like the Administrator, Guardian, and Professor and dubbed this one the Preceptor. The drink itself began with a lemon oil aroma over dark herbal smokiness and grape notes. Next, the port's rich grape filled the sip, and the swallow answered with a smoky Scotch flavor and bitter rhubarb root quickly merging into bitter orange on the swallow with a peat smoke finish. While I found the balance to hit the spot for my mood that night, perhaps increasing the port and/or decreasing each of the amaro might make the drink more accessible (see note in the instructions).

Thursday, November 7, 2019

over the yardarm

1 1/2 oz Demerara Rum (El Dorado 5 Year)
1/2 oz Plantation OFTD Overproof Rum
1 oz Amontillado Sherry (Lustau)
3/4 oz Crème de Cacao (1/2 oz Tempus Fugit) (*)
1/2 oz Swedish Punsch (Kronan)
1/2 oz Lemon Juice

Whip shake, pour into a Tiki mug, and fill with crushed ice. Float 1/2 oz Amaro Ramazzotti (*) and garnish with mint and cherries (omit cherries).
(*) For a less sweet drink, perhaps decreasing the crème de cacao to 1/2 oz and Ramazzotti to 1/4 oz and/or increasing the lemon juice to 3/4 oz would help the balance.

After work on Thursday, I decided to make a drink called the Over the Yardarm that I had spotted on Instagram. The recipe was crafted by BigSmokeTiki in London as he riffed on Trader Vic's Tortuga (which was perhaps a riff on the Floridita Daiquiri). The combination of dry sherry and citrus reminded me of the Kuula Hina that I created at Russell House Tavern years ago. Moreover, the Swedish punsch-crème de cacao combination was one that I had observed working well in the Battle Over Dutch and Swedish Sweet Tart.
The drink name may derive from the expression "The sun is over the yardarm"; in the North Atlantic, the sun would appear above the upper mast spars or yards around 11 am which coincided with the time when officers would take their first rum tot break of the day. The Over the Yardarm raised up a mint and root beer aroma. Next, lemon, caramel, and grape on the sip gave way to funky rum, chocolate, and nutty grape flavors on the swallow with a black tea finish. As the Ramazzotti float entered the equation, the balance got a bit sweeter and gained cola-like notes. Overall, the combination was perfect for the Autumn air as advertised.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

gully brood

3/4 oz Mezcal (Sombra)
3/4 oz Campari
3/4 oz Rabarbaro Zucca (Sfumato)
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Rich Simple Syrup (2/3 oz 1:1)

Shake with ice, strain into a Collins (rocks) glass, fill with crushed ice, and garnish with a grapefruit twist.

Two Wednesdays, I selected Clair McLafferty's 2017 The Classic & Craft Cocktail Recipe Book for the evening's libation. There, I honed in on the Gully Brood by Beckaly Franks who now lives in Hong Kong where she owns The Pontiac bar. I was able to uncover a 2015 version of the Gully Brood that she created at Portland's Clyde Commons that lacked the Campari, but the additional amaro in the mix seemed like a great addition; indeed, Campari and Zucca/Sfumato worked well in the Low Down.
The Gully Brood awakened the senses with a grapefruit and smoky-herbal nose. Next, lime and hints of roast on the sip led into smoky mezcal, bitter orange, and smoky-bitter rhubarb root flavors on the swallow.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

el puente

2 oz Mezcal (Fidencio)
1/2 oz Elderflower Liqueur (St. Elder)
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Grapefruit Juice
3 slice Cucumber

Muddle cucumber slices in lime juice and simple syrup. Add the rest of the ingredients, shake with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with a grapefruit twist.
After my work shift two Tuesdays ago, I spotted Greg Boehm and Jeff Mason's 2009 The Big Bartender's Book on the shelf and wondered if there were any passed over gems in there. The one that I uncovered was a Jim Meehan number called El Puente perhaps created in the early days of PDT that was never published in either of his books. The El Puente paired cucumber and elderflower liqueur together which worked elegantly in the Easy Street, so I was intrigued by this recipe. Once assembled, the El Puente met the nose with a grapefruit and smoke bouquet. Next, lime, grapefruit, and unripe melon on the sip crossed over into smoky mezcal, floral, grapefruit, and cucumber flavors on the swallow.

Monday, November 4, 2019

tropic thunder

2 oz Plantation OFTD Overproof Rum
1 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Passion Fruit Syrup
1/2 oz Don's Spices #2 (1/4 oz Vanilla Syrup + 1/4 oz Hamilton's Allspice Dram)

Shake with crushed ice, pour into a Hurricane glass (Tiki mug), and garnish with a mint sprig and a lemon wheel (nasturtium flower).

Since I decided to make fresh rolls two Mondays ago, I picked extra mint to make a tropical drink later that night. Therefore, I reached for Matt Pietrek and Carrie Smith's Minimalist Tiki book, and I ended up selecting Justin Wojslaw's Tropic Thunder. With rum, passion fruit, and lemon, the combination appeared like a Hurricane riff with half the syrup split with Don's Spices. Once assembled, the Tropic Thunder boomed in with minty and floral aromas from the garnishes over a passion fruit nose from the drink itself. Next, lemon and caramel on the sip slid into funky rum, passion fruit, vanilla, and allspice flavors on the swallow.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

banana spider

1 1/2 oz Pisco (Macchu)
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Giffard Banane du Bresil
1/4 oz Simple Syrup
1 Egg White

Shake once without ice and once with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with Angostura Bitters.
Two Sundays ago, I decided to make a Pisco Sour riff called the Banana Spider. The recipe published in Imbibe Magazine was crafted by Kirk Estinopal at Cane & Table in New Orleans, and the name is a reference to a rather poisonous spider that lives in Peru and other parts of Central and South America that has occasionally turn up in shipments of bananas. While the alcohol content was the only venom to found in the drink, the banana aspect was captured with a crème de banane. Once prepared, the Banana Spider bit the nose with banana, allspice, and cinnamon aromas. Next, a creamy lemon sip crept into pisco and banana flavors on the swallow.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

waldorf cocktail

1/2 Swedish Punsch (1 1/2 oz Kronan)
1/4 Dry Gin (3/4 oz Hayman's Royal Dock)
Juice 1/4 Lemon or 1/2 Lime (3/4 oz Lime Juice)

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail coupe; I added a lime wheel garnish.

Two Saturdays ago after work, I reached for the 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book and spotted the Swedish punsch-containing Waldorf Cocktail. This recipe was halfway between a Daiquiri and a Gimlet and parallel to the Doctor Cocktail with rum in place of the gin. I was surprised that the drink does not appear in the 1935 The Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book, but a Waldorf Cocktail of equal parts whiskey, sweet vermouth, and absinthe does. Bartender and author Frank Caiafa replied to my Instagram post that he always thinks of the Waldorf as an absinthe-rinsed Manhattan, and his version in The Waldorf Astoria Bar Book is just that.
This Waldorf Cocktail began with rum funk and caramel aromas on the nose. Next, the caramel continued on into the sip where it mingled with the lime, and the swallow offered up juniper, funky rum, and black tea flavors.

Friday, November 1, 2019

explorer's dream

3/4 oz Batavia Arrack (Von Oosten)
3/4 oz Mezcal (Fidencio)
1 oz Dry Vermouth (Noilly Prat)
1/2 oz Benedictine
1 dash Absinthe (20 drop St. George)

Stir with ice, strain into a punch cup, and garnish with a lemon twist.

After work two Fridays ago, I was thinking about the Poet's Dream after enjoying the Dead Poet. Instead of gin, I honed in on the Batavia Arrack and mezcal duo that worked well in the Smoking Jet Pilot, Airbag, and Esmino's Escape. Here, I felt that the Benedictine could bind the two oddball spirits akin to the liqueur working wonders in the Shruff's End, and I felt that absinthe instead of orange bitters would tie this combination together better.
The Batavia Arrack made me think of exotic trade routes, and I dubbed this one the Explorer's Dream. For a moment, I considered pisco instead of mezcal since it was a spirit picked up by sailors as well as they made their way around landmasses; however, I figured that the mezcal would help to bring out the smokier side of Batavia Arrack. Once in the punch cup, the Explorer's Dream found its way to the nose with lemon and smoke notes. Next, a white wine and caramel sip discovered a smoky mezcal and funky Batavia Arrack swallow accented by chocolate, mint, and anise flavors. My Instagram post inspired user xjthree to make the drink for he explained, "This sounds amazing. I’m going to make one later. Poet's dream was one of my favorites early on in my journey." A few days later, he posted his version with a commentary of "It is very bold, and boozy. Strong funky flavors up front give way to Benedictine sweetness, and an absinthe finish. I'd say it's a bartender drink, not for the faint hearted."

Thursday, October 31, 2019

waterproof watch

1 1/2 oz London Dry Gin (Tanqueray)
3/4 oz Amaro Montenegro
3/4 oz Aperol
2 dash DeGroff's Pimento Bitters (1/4 oz Hamilton's Allspice Dram)

Stir with ice, strain into a rocks glass with fresh ice, and garnish with an orange twist.
Two Thursdays ago, I spotted a curious Negroni-like drink in Imbibe Magazine called the Waterproof Watch. The recipe was created by Sother Teague for the second branch of Amor y Amargo that recently opened up in Brooklyn, and I was drawn to it (besides loving what Sother creates) for Aperol and Montenegro have worked well together in cocktails like the A Man About Town and Schipol. Once prepared, the Waterproof Watch unwound with orange oil from the garnish and orange and other fruity aromas from the drink itself. Next, an orange-melon sip aged into an gin and bitter orange swallow with an allspice finish.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

caballero del mar

1 1/2 oz Reposado Tequila (Cimarron)
1/2 oz Aged Apple Brandy (Laird's Bonded)
3/4 oz Dry Vermouth (Noilly Prat)
1/4 oz Swedish Punsch (Kronan)
1/4 oz Apricot Liqueur (Combier)
2 dash Mole Bitters (Bittermens)

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

Two Wednesdays ago, I recalled how much I enjoyed my Martini riff Enjoy the Silence. My brain was also thinking about the tequila version of the mezcal drink Tainted Love, the Monopoly Money, that made it on to the regular menu (Tainted Love was only on the Yacht Rock Sundays menu); with that recipe, I focused in on how well tequila and apricot liqueur both complemented Swedish punsch. I also returned to the 3:1 split spirit formula with the minor component being apple brandy as I considered drinks like Everyone Wants to Rule the World and Spanish Caravan that brought the two spirits together.
For a name, I honed in on the spirit from Jalisco and dubbed this one after a curious statue in Puerto Vallarta of a boy with a cowboy hat riding a seahorse. The Caballero del Mar greeted the senses with a lemon oil, apple, and agave aroma. Next, a dry white wine sip with a hint of fruit led into tequila, apple, apricot, and black tea on the swallow with a chocolate finish.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

topsy turvy

2 oz Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth (Martini Grand Lusso)
1 oz Lock Stock & Barrel Rye (Rittenhouse Bonded)
1 tsp Caffé Borghetti (Copper & Kings Destillare Café)
1 dash Mole Bitters (Bittermens)

Stir with ice, strain into a Nick & Nora glass, and garnish with an orange twist.
Two Tuesdays, I spotted an Inverse Manhattan riff in a recent Chilled Magazine article on rye whiskey drinks to mix this Fall. The recipe was called the Topsy Turvy by Jeremy Oertel of Donna in Brooklyn and Death & Co. in Manhattan, and his tweak on the Inverse Manhattan was to add coffee notes and switch the bitters to chocolate. Once prepared, the drink offered up orange notes and a hint of coffee to the nose. Next, a grape sip flipped into rye and coffee flavors on the swallow with a grape, roast, and chocolate finish.

Monday, October 28, 2019


2/3 Rye Whiskey (1 3/4 oz Old Overholt)
1/3 Italian Vermouth (3/4 oz Martini Grand Lusso)
1 dash Crème Yvette (1/4 oz)
1 dash Picon Bitters (1/4 oz Torani Amer)

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass; I added a lemon twist.
After returning home late from work on Monday night, I turned to Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars: 1903-1933 for a nightcap. In the American whiskey section, I spied the Quarterback that reminded me of a few drinks including the Brooklyn and Caboose. In the glass, the Quarterback hiked into a lemon and floral aroma with a red orchard fruit note that reminded me of sloe berries. Next, the Quarterback stepped back into a grape, cherry, and berry sip that handed off to a rye, bitter orange, and raspberry swallow with a vanilla-floral finish. Overall, the cocktail was a Manhattan torn between sweet and bitter fruit notes.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

maiden voyage

1 1/2 oz Barrel-Aged Gin (Bluecoat Aged)
3/4 oz Calvados (Boulard VSOP)
1/4 oz Becherovka
1/2 oz Curaçao (Pierre Ferrand)
1/2 oz Vanilla Syrup
1 oz Pineapple Juice
3/4 oz Lime Juice

Shake with ice, strain into a snifter glass (Tiki mug), and fill with crushed ice. Garnish with a scored lime shell (nasturtium flower) and a toasted cinnamon stick.
I was feeling the need for a tropical drink two Sundays ago, so I turned to Shannon Mustipher's Tiki: Modern Tropical Cocktails book. There, I latched on to the Maiden Voyage that was her recipe inspired by elements of the Mai Tai and the Fog Cutter. Once prepared, the Maiden Voyage launched into peppery floral, cinnamon, apple, and orange aromas. Next, lime and orange notes on the sip sailed into juniper, orange, apple, cinnamon, vanilla, and clove flavors on the swallow.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

machine gun etiquette

3/4 oz Scotch (Cutty Sark Prohibition)
3/4 oz Apple Brandy (Laird's Bonded)
3/4 oz Fino Sherry (Lustau)
3/4 oz Cynar
1 dash Peychaud's Bitters

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe or double old fashioned glass pre-rinsed with apricot liqueur (Combier), and garnish with an orange twist. Leaving some of the excess rinse in the glass would do no harm here.

On my walk home from work two Saturdays ago, I was enjoying the Autumn evening and thought about the Fall-inspired combination of Scotch and apple brandy. I then considered how well each pair with Cynar, and the Cynar made me think of the pairing with apricot liqueur in the Enjoy the Silence and other drinks like the One One Thousand. The Cynar also made me think of the Remember the Alimony, and the idea quickly came together. Finally, I added a dash of Peychaud's upon straw tasting the combination since it needed a little extra depth.
For a name, I dubbed this one the Machine Gun Etiquette after a song by The Damned perhaps due to the smoky element or as an alternative to alimony payments. Once prepared, this drink aimed orange, apricot, and peat smoke aromas at the nose. Next, caramel and malt on the sip shot into Scotch, apple, and herbal flavors on the swallow with a crisp apricot and anise finish. Overall, the stronger flavors of Scotch and apple brandy as compared to gin shifted the Remember the Alimony's balance in a new direction.

Friday, October 25, 2019

new rider

1 oz Rye Whiskey (Rittenhouse Bonded)
1 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
1/2 oz Ginger Syrup
3 dash Angostura Bitters

Shake with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with a sage leaf.
For an after dinner cocktail two Fridays ago, I turned to Carey Jones' Brooklyn Bartender. There, I spotted Christa Manalo's New Rider that she crafted at Rucola. Once prepared, the New Rider offered up a clove, allspice, and sage bouquet to the nose. Next, a lemon-driven sip transitioned into a rye, ginger, and nutty cherry swallow with a ginger and spice finish. Overall, the ginger and Maraschino combination proved to be a quite intriguing duo as it had been in the One for Jimmy.

teeling tiki break

2 oz Teeling Small Batch Irish Whiskey
1 oz House Coffee Cordial (*)
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Giffard Crème de Banane

Shake with ice, pour into a Tiki mug, and fill with crushed ice. Garnish with a lime wheel, a fresh banana slice, and grated coffee bean.
(*) The drink was not sweet so perhaps a low sugar coffee liqueur like Copper & Kings Distillare Café or a 3/4 oz cold brew coffee + 1/4 oz simple or rich simple syrup combination (or 2/3 oz cold brew coffee + 1/3 oz Kahlua or similar).
While we were drinking the Up in Smoke at the Teeling Irish Whiskey event at Backbar, Andrea was curious about the Tiki drink on the menu especially after spying the finished product when others ordered it. So after distiller Alex Chasko spoke, the Backbar bartenders started serving again, and I requested the Teeling Tiki Break. Once prepared, the Irish-tropical libation met the nose with banana and coffee aromas. Next, lime and roast notes on the sip stepped back into Irish whiskey, banana, and coffee flavors on the swallow. No great surprises here given the ingredient list, but it was quite a delight to drink.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

up in smoke

2 oz Teeling Small Batch Irish Whiskey
1/4 oz Yellow Chartreuse
1/4 oz Becherovka
2 dash House "Smoke & Oak Bitters" (*)

Stir with ice, strain into a rocks glass that had been smoked (torched cedar wood with the glass put over it), and add a Phoenix (or other large) ice cube.
(*) A combination of 18-21 Havana & Hyde Bitters, house barrel-aged Angostura Bitters, and Owl & Whale Sea Smoke Bitters).

Two Thursdays ago, I was invited to a Teeling Irish Whiskey event at Backbar to hear distiller Alex Chasko speak about the rebirth of distillation in Dublin. Before the talk began, the Backbar bartenders were executing a small menu of Teeling Whiskey drinks, and it was recommended that I start with the Up in Smoke. Bar owner Sam Treadway explained not only the house bitters, but the reason why the menu read cinnamon syrup instead of Becherovka; they had originally planned this drink with the single malt which worked better with that syrup, but they were not allotted bottles to make cocktails and thus switched to the Czech liqueur. The phoenix ice cube as the centerpiece of the drink represents the Teeling crest on the bottle which represents how the Teeling family's whiskey legacy died out with the decline of distillation in Ireland and was recently reborn.
The Up in Smoke lived up to its name with a wood smoke aroma that wafted over soft whiskey notes. Next, a malty sip rose to a whiskey and herbal-flavored swallow and a cinnamon finish. While the drink subtitle on the menu was "A modern take on the classic Irish whiskey drink The Tipperary," the Up in Smoke drank more like a lightly herbal Old Fashioned.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019


1 1/2 oz Mezcal (Fidencio)
3/4 oz Grapefruit Juice
1/2 oz Lime Juice
3/8 oz Cinnamon Syrup
3/8 oz Campari
1 dash Peychaud's Bitters

Shake with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with a grapefruit twist (or lime wheel).

Recently, I was tasked at work to develop a mezcal Paloma riff served in a coupe for the new menu at La Brasa, so two Wednesdays ago, I decided to tinker. I latched onto the idea of the Tiki staple Don's Mix of grapefruit and cinnamon and then considered how well cinnamon and Campari pair such as in the Rum Firewalker. The end result was tasty, but it felt like a touch of bitters would give the profile a lot more depth; my instinct was to go to absinthe but I opted for Peychaud's Bitters instead. For a name, I went with the idea of the Paloma translating to dove, and I went with another indigenous Mexican bird: the Quetzal. The Quetzal has been long admired for its beauty and the bird was sacred to the Mayans and Aztecs.
The Quetzal flew to the nose with a smoke, grapefruit, and cinnamon aroma. Next, a grapefruit and lime sip gave way to a smoky mezcal and bitter herbal swallow with a cinnamon finish.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019


1 1/2 oz Gin (Tamsworth)
1/2 oz Mezcal (Fidencio)
1 oz Dry Vermouth (Noilly Prat)
1 tsp Islay Scotch (Caol Ila 12 year)

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail glass pre-rinsed with absinthe (St. George), and garnish with a lemon twist.
For a drink after my bar shift two Tuesdays ago, I was in the mood for something straight spirits. My search led me to the Barnotes app where I spotted Rafa Garcia Febles' Tombstone that was his circa 2014 "grittier Obituary Cocktail." The Obituary Cocktail was created at LaFitte's Blacksmith Shop in New Orleans as a Martini riff containing gin, dry vermouth, and absinthe. Here, the spirit was split with a duo of smokier elements, namely mezcal and Scotch. After stirring and straining, the Tombstone welcomed the senses with a lemon, smoke, floral, and anise aroma. Next, a crisp white grape sip shot into a botanical-driven swallow that was interlaced with vegetal-plastic and smoke notes and finished in a savory fashion.