Thursday, February 28, 2019

white rose

3/4 Dry Gin (1 1/2 oz Tanqueray)
1/4 Maraschino (1/2 oz Luxardo)
Orange Juice (1/2 oz)
Lemon Juice (1/2 oz)
1 Egg White

Shake once without ice and once with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass.

Two Thursdays ago, I returned to the 1937 Café Royal Cocktail Book after a long hiatus from flipping through its pages. There, I spotted the White Rose that seemed rather delightful as an egg white Aviation-like drink. After making it, I discovered that I had already written about Hugo Ensslin's 1916 White Rose Cocktail that varied by utilizing lime instead of lemon; given that it was six and a half years ago, I was not upset to remake this recipe especially given the slight difference.
The White Rose greeted the senses with a nutty cherry aroma from the Maraschino poking through the egg white froth. Next, a creamy lemon-orange sip gave way to gin and nutty Maraschino flavors on the swallow. Overall, the White Rose reminded me more of the Cherry Blossom than the Jack Rose, Bermuda Rose, or other "rose" drinks.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019


2/3 jigger Applejack (1 1/2 oz Boulard VSOP)
1/3 jigger Pineapple Juice (3/4 oz)
1 dash Lemon Juice (1/2 oz)
1 dash Maraschino Liqueur (1/4 oz Luxardo)
1 spoon Simple Syrup (1/4 oz)

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

For my post-work shift drink, I thumbed through my book shelves until I stopped upon Boothby's 1934 World Drinks and How to Mix Them. There, I spotted the Hawaiian among other similarly named recipes. This Hawaiian was perhaps closer to the Hawaiian Room given the applejack, pineapple, and lemon components; that drink was more rum forward, had orange liqueur instead of Maraschino, and temporally came after Boothby's. For a structure, I based things off of the gin and orgeat Royal Hawaiian.
The Hawaiian said aloha with an apple and nutty cherry bouquet. Next, lemon and pineapple on the sip led into apple, nutty, and pineapple flavors on the swallow. Given the similarities between orgeat and Maraschino, the balance did come across here like a cousin of the Royal Hawaiian.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

phoebe snow

1/2 Dubonnet (1 1/2 oz Byrrh Grand Quinquina)
1/2 Brandy (1 1/2 oz Camus VS Cognac)
1 dash Absinthe (1/2 bsp Kübler)

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

Two Tuesdays ago, I selected Hugo Ensslin's 1916 Recipes for Mixed Drinks book and spotted the Phoebe Snow. This three ingredient drink was named after a fictional character at the turn of the century who was created to showcase how clean anthracite coal was in trains via jingles like, "Says Phoebe Snow/about to go/upon a trip to Buffalo/"My gown stays white/from morn till night/Upon the Road of Anthracite". The fanciful New York socialite promoting the Lackawanna railways made such an impact that this cocktail was named in her honor. I had previously skipped over this cocktail for the Dubonnet then was a rather poor quinquina (the reformulated Dubonnet that I tasted over the summer was delicious though; however, I have not yet spotted it in stores); instead, here I substituted another rouge quinquina, Byrrh, in its place.
The Phoebe Snow cocktail began with a lemon and grape nose that led into further grape notes with cherry undertones on the sip. Next, Cognac, grape, anise, chocolate, and quinine flavors rounded out the delightful swallow.

Monday, February 25, 2019

italian buck

1 1/2 oz Cynar
1 1/2 oz Amaro Montenegro
3/4 oz Lime Juice

Shake with ice, strain into a Collins glass (Moscow Mule mug), add 3 oz ginger beer (Reed's), fill with ice, and garnish with a lime wheel. Note: the recipe in Boudreau's book is scaled down to 1 oz each of the amari and 1/2 oz lime juice; the ginger beer amount is the same but the garnish is a lime wedge.
Two Mondays ago, I reached for Brad Parsons' Amaro book and came across the Italian Buck that reminded me of the unopened bottle of ginger beer in my refrigerator. The recipe was crafted by Jamie Boudreau at Seattle's Cannon featuring two bitter liqueurs in a Buck format similar to the Fernet Buck at Deep Ellum. I followed the recipe that Parsons provided, but I later checked in Boudreau's book, The Canon Cocktail Book and noted that some of the volumes were adapted (see the note in the instructions above). Boudreau also commented in his book that, "While the Cynar carries all the funky bitter vegetal notes, the Montenegro helps round it out with its abundance of citrusy flavors." Once prepared, the Italian Buck welcomed the nose with lime, ginger, and orange aromas. Next, a carbonated caramel and lime sip bucked into ginger, funky herbal, and clementine flavors on the swallow.

Sunday, February 24, 2019


2/3 Rye Whiskey (2 oz Old Overholt)
1/6 Lemon Juice (1/2 oz)
1/6 Sweet Vermouth (1/2 oz Cocchi)
1 dash Picon Bitters (1/4 oz Torani Amer)
(1/4 oz Simple for balance)

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
After a day of visiting brewery tap rooms on Sunday, I was in the mood for a nightcap and turned to Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars: 1903-1933. In the American whiskey section, I spotted the Champion that appeared like a Liberal in a Sour format. Once prepared, the Champion donated a rye, orange, and lemon bouquet to the nose. Next, lemon, malt, and grape notes on the sip were beaten out by rye, grape, and bitter orange flavors on the swallow.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

banana cow

1 oz Trader Vic's Light Puerto Rican Rum (1 1/2 oz Privateer Tres Aromatique)
1 dash Angostura Bitters
1 whole Banana (sliced)
1 tsp Sugar
1 dash Vanilla Extract
3 oz Milk

Blend with 1/2 scoop shaved ice and service in a Planter's Punch glass or in a 12 1/2 oz tumbler. I garnished with 3 slices of banana on a pick and 5 drops Angostura Bitters.

After a grueling late night buyout at the bar two Saturdays ago, I got home too exhausted to do much more than eat some leftovers and go to sleep. Sunday morning, however, I decided to make up for my lack of home mixology by delving into my Trader Vic's 1974 Rum Cookery & Drinkery. I was inspired by Andrea preparing banana-coconut waffles to make Trader Vic's own Banana Cow which was a banana-forward version of his Rum Cow, and thus, I got out the blender.
Without the additional garnish, the Banana Cow proffered a banana and vanilla nose, but with the additional garnish it shared hints of clove and allspice. Next, a creamy banana sip gave way to a funky rum, banana, and vanilla swallow.

Friday, February 22, 2019

the weeper's joy

3 dash Gum (1/4 oz Simple Syrup)
1/2 pony Absinthe (3/4 oz Kübler Absinthe)
1/2 pony Vino Vermouth (3/4 oz Cocchi Sweet)
1/2 pony Kümmel (3/4 oz Helbing)
1 dash Curaçao (1/4 oz Pierre Ferrand Dry)

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

When I got home two Fridays ago, I thought that it might be time to revisit a drink never made it on to the blog. The recipe was the Weeper's Joy -- an oddball combination that appeared in William Schmidt's 1891 The Flowing Bowl. I made that drink before I got a reprint of that tome for I was able to source it from David Wondrich's Imbibe! Many of the cocktails in Schmidt's book were weird ones, and it was not surprising that the 2010 Beta Cocktails zine (the photocopied one that came out between the book printing of 2009 Rogue Cocktails and 2011 Beta Cocktail books) hosted what appeared to be a riff on it called the Spice Trade with overlapping absinthe, kümmel, and curaçao ingredients.
For an absinthe, I selected Kübler for its softer balance seems to work the best in my collection with absinthe-forward recipes. Once prepared, the Weeper's Joy offered an anise and caraway aroma that preceded a sweet grape sip. Next, caraway, cumin, orange, anise, and other spice notes filled the swallow. Overall, it was the orange flavors that donated an elegance to the combination.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

el catador

1 oz Añejo Tequila (Cimarron Reposado)
1 oz Oloroso Sherry (Lustau)
1 oz Galliano
3-4 dash Bittermens Mole Bitters

Stir with ice, twist a lemon peel over a cocktail coupe, strain into the coupe, and garnish with a second lemon twist.

For a nightcap two Thursdays ago, I delved into my Food & Wine: Cocktails library and selected the 2010 volume. There, I spotted Charles Vexenat's El Catador that he crafted at London's HIX which seemed intriguing with the aged tequila befriending nutty sherry once again but here spiced with Galliano and molé bitters. Strangely, the drink was named after the food taster who ingests dishes prepared for someone else to confirm that it is safe from poison.
The Catador had the nose sensing lemon, agave vegetal, nutty, and star anise aromas before determining that it was safe to taste. Next, a semi-sweet grape sip led into tequila, nutty sherry, and vanilla on the swallow with a chocolate and star anise finish.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

it's not me, it's you

1 oz Fernet Branca (1 1/2 oz)
1/2 oz Dry Curaçao (3/4 oz Pierre Ferrand)
1/2 oz Sloe Gin (3/4 oz Atxa Patxaran)
5 dash Peychaud's Bitters

Stir with ice, strain into an old fashioned glass or coupe (coupe), and garnish with a grapefruit twist (lemon twist).
Two Wednesdays ago, I was in the mood for a nightcap after my work shift and turned to Clair McLafferty's Romantic Cocktails for the answer. There, I selected the It's Not Me, It's You by San Francisco bartender Christina Mae Henderson that was subtitled, "A little dry, a little bitter, a little citrusy: just like a breakup." I was drawn in for the combination of sloe gin and Fernet Branca in that drink was one that worked so well in the Sloe & Unsteady. In the glass, the It's Not Me offered up a lemon, caramel, and menthol nose that set up a caramel and orange sip. Next, minty, berry, orange, and menthol flavors on the swallow rounded out this complex sipper.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

carlota's collapse

1 oz Cynar
1/2 oz Mezcal (Fidencio)
1/2 oz Elderflower Liqueur (St. Elder)
1 oz Punt e Mes
15-21 drop Lemon Juice (approx. 1 scant bsp)
6 dash Orange Bitters (Angostura Orange)
1 pinch Salt

Stir with ice, strain into a rocks glass 1/8th rimmed with salt and with a large ice cube, and garnish with the oil from 3 lemon twists and insert the last peel in.

Two Tuesdays ago, I was thinking about low proof cocktails and looked up The Search for Delicious that Kirk Estopinal created at The Cure and published in Beta Cocktails in 2011. I wanted to do a mashup to pay tribute to this drink, and the Punt e Mes and lemon juice made me consider Misty Kalkofen's Maximilian Affair as a partner. While I could extract the mezcal and elderflower from the Maximilian Affair, I still wanted to keep the low proof nature and surely the baroqueness of The Search with the drops, multiple twists, and salt rim specifications. For a name, I dubbed this one Carlota's Collapse. When Emperor Maximilian ran into trouble with his regime, his wife Carlota traveled to Europe to search for assistance in Paris, Rome, and Vienna. Carlota's search failed which led her to mental breakdown and a refusal to return to Mexico; Maximilian was executed the following year. Here, a little salt to symbolize tears, smoke for destruction, and Cynar for bitterness.
Carlota's Collapse met the nose with lemon, smoke, and dark aromas from the Cynar and Punt e Mes. Next, grape and caramel on the sip reached out to mezcal and floral bitter flavors on the swallow.

Monday, February 18, 2019

jean genie

1 1/2 oz London Dry Gin (Tanqueray)
3/4 oz Lime Juice
3/4 oz Ginger Syrup
1/2 oz Blue Curaçao (1/2 oz Cointreau + 2 drop blue food coloring)
2 dash Orange Bitters (Angostura Orange)

Shake with ice, strain into a Collins glass with 3 oz soda water, top with ice, and garnish with a cherry-orange peel flag.

Two Mondays ago after cooking dinner, I turned to the AlcoholProfessor tribute to David Bowie to make the Jean Genie that I had bookmarked earlier in the week. The recipe was a ginger syrup and orange liqueur-laden Tom Collins that was crafted by Andrew Volk of the Hunt & Alpine Club in Portland, Maine. Like the other genie drink I have had, the Genie in a Bottle, it was crafted to be a vibrant blue color. Moreover, the song title was an allusion to author Jean Genet, and the rest according to Bowie was "a smorgasbord of imagined Americana" for this 1972 hit.
The Jean Genie welcomed the nose with orange aromas from the flag garnish. Next, a carbonated lime and orange sip snuck off to a gin, ginger, and orange swallow.

the french connection

1 1/2 oz Baldwin Bar's Private Cask of Plantation Trinidad 2009 Rum
1 oz Pierre Ferrand Premier Cru Cognac
1 tsp Lustau East India Solera Sherry
1 tsp Crème de Banana
1 tsp Gomme Syrup
2 dash "Tango Bitters" (1 dash each Bittermens Tiki and Angostura)

Stir with ice, strain into a rocks glass with ice, and garnish with 2 lemon twists. Note: the three 1 tsp ingredients were equal parts in a 1/2 oz pour of the mix (and in a previous version were 1/4 oz each).
The cocktail that Andrea selected at the Baldwin Bar two Sundays ago was the French Connection that featured the bar's recent purchase of a barrel's worth of Plantation 2009 Trinidad Rum. While Trinidad is not a French island, Plantation Rums are part of the Pierre Ferrand Cognac house, and their brandy made up the other large percentage of the Old Fashioned-like drink. Once prepared, the French Connection smuggled Cognac and rum aromas underneath the lemon oil notes from the twists. Next, caramel and grape on the sip transitioned into rum and brandy flavors on the swallow with light banana and spice accents.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

lion's paw

1 1/2 oz Maker's Mark Bourbon
1 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Cinnamon Syrup
1/2 oz Orgeat
2 dash Allspice Dram

Shake with ice, strain into a double old fashioned glass, fill with crushed ice, and garnish with mint sprigs and an ice shell with edible flowers.

For Superbowl Sunday two weeks ago, we wanted to support a bar lacking a television set, so we headed up to the Baldwin Bar in Woburn. For a first drink, I asked for the Lion's Paw which was their riff on the 1937 Lion's Tail. The riff included additional notes of orgeat akin to the A Tale of Two Kitties as well as cinnamon to take things in a Tiki direction akin to the Poison Dart.
When the Lion's Paw arrived, even people on the other side of the bar were commenting on how beautiful the drink looked. After that first impression, I was greeted by a mint aroma from the garnish. Next, a creamy lime and malt sip roared into whiskey, almond, cinnamon, and allspice flavors on the swallow. Definitely this riff was much less stark and aggressive than the classic given the addition of orgeat and cinnamon and the reduction of allspice dram.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

death's comeback

3/4 oz Bluecoat Gin (Tanqueray)
3/4 oz St. Germain (St. Elder)
3/4 oz Aperol
1/2 oz Lime Juice (3/4 oz)
1/4 oz Simple Syrup (omit)

Shake with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with 3 drop absinthe (St. George).
After a late, busy night of work, I reached for Pittsburg Drinks and spotted a Corpse Reviver #2 riff that seemed perfect for my near corpse-like tiredness. The recipe was the Death's Comeback created by Spencer Warren of Embury in Pittsburg, and the combination of gin, St. Germain, Aperol, and citrus reminded me of Paul Clarke's Dunniette. Moreover, the gin, elderflower, citrus, and absinthe aspects made me think fondly of Sam Ross' Sunflower. In the glass, the Death's Comeback shared an anise and floral bouquet to the nose. Next, lime, pear, and orange notes filled the sip, and the swallow transmitted gin, orange, grapefruit, and rhubarb flavors.

Friday, February 15, 2019

:: cost-free hospitality ::

First published on the USBG National blog in June 2017, and slightly modified for publication here.

In a previous job, I was spoiled with a considerable comp tab per bartender per shift as well as certain bottles that we were allowed to pour without charge since liquor companies made deals like “buy 10 cases and get 4 for free.” This allowed us to treat regulars, industry folk, and cool guests to gifts that both increased their enjoyment of their visit as well as added to our tip pool. This was not even considered stealing from the house since it was approved by management. In a later position in a small, young restaurant, we were not as free to comp food or drink or give away pours. For solutions to improve my guests’ experiences, I looked around town to observe some tricks of the trade that didn’t cost the house a dime.

One of the consummate barmen in the city used to own his own place downtown before he sold it off to focus on his other restaurant partnerships. Despite not having an amazing spirits selection, complex cocktail lists, or a cutting edge beer program, the place was rather popular, and I frequently was content to drink a few High Lifes and watch the magic. This barman was an expert in remembering people’s names and figuring out what would make them happy. Many of them were his signature stock tricks like when someone got up to go for a smoke, he would fill a shaker tin with ice to chill their bottle of beer as if it were wine service for a nice bottle of white or bubbles. Other times, it was a warm handshake and an inquiry into how one’s job was going; this sincere act was extra meaningful at times when one needed an ear or it felt like everyone else just wanted to talk about themselves. Knowing people’s drink orders and asking if that was what they wanted not only saved time, but it made people feel like true regulars. I think the best moment was when I was walking down the stairs one evening, and this bartender immediately took note, quieted the bar, and announce, “Everyone: Fred Yarm is here.” This declaration was followed by a round of applause from the bar patrons. It was surreal, but this act made me feel that this place was special and a welcoming home. Moreover, even 5 years later, this moment still makes my list of most memorable bar experiences both here and in my travels.
At a larger establishment across the city, there is a different style of hospitality. There, the food and drink are rather noteworthy, but this was not where they stopped. True, they certainly utilize their ability to comp a round of drinks or send out a complementary appetizer or dessert, but those good deeds are less memorable over time (and sometimes not even noticed unless the bartender pointed that out the removed drink round during the bill presentation). What sets them apart is how the bar team and the restaurant approach hospitality seriously. There is allegedly a database of guest names, photos from social media, their likes, their dietary restrictions, and drink preferences so that they can better cater to their return guests; apparently, they are required to study this data collection so that they can react instantaneously. But to their first timers and even their return guests, they take extra steps to make nights special. One thing they do when guests mention that they will soon be closing out is to ask where they are going next. For the indecisive, they offer recommendations, but for those with plans, they will do every effort to set them up at the next stop. Often, they will call ahead and do their best to reserve seats for them as well as try to connect with the bartender or manager on duty to make sure that these guests get the VIP treatment there.

Other things that I have experienced across town include bartenders taking out special vintage glassware for guests who were really into cocktails as well as increasing their garnish game on off-list requests and bartender’s choice requests. Other times, it was the absurd that stood out. At one bar, we were playing the dice game 1-4-24, and the bartender came by and provided a gamer’s dice box to control the rolls. In addition, to make things more interesting, he offered up a mask from their collection of wares behind the bar such that the loser of each round had to wear this monkey mask for the following game round. At several other establishments, it was being taken on a tour of the downstairs wine and spirits room or of the kitchen in response to our curiosity about the place’s layout or other. At one brewpub, it was the brewer seeking me out and giving me a tour of the brewing facility upon hearing about my enthusiasm about beer.
Even if your establishment allows you to pamper your guests with freebies, consider the many ways that can be conjured up to make a guest’s experience all the more memorable by being their advocate and figuring out what would best suit their needs. Many of these cost the restaurant nothing and stand out in a guest’s mind longer than a free shot of amaro at the end (although those are generally appreciated in my book). Restaurateur Danny Meyer declared, “The most important thing you can do is make the distinction between customer service and guest hospitality. You need both things to thrive, but they are completely different.” Looking out for how to make your guest’s night special is above and beyond just providing them with what they ask for, but by figuring out what they might need or want without them asking for it.

tantris sidecar

1 oz Cognac (Courvoisier VS)
1/2 oz Calvados (Boulard VSOP)
1/2 oz Cointreau
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Simple Syrup
1/4 oz Pineapple Juice
1/4 oz Green Chartreuse

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass half rimmed with sugar; some recipes include a lemon twist so I did too.

I recently saw a reference to Audrey Saunder's Tantris Sidecar that she created at the Pegu Club, and I decided to revisit it. I returned to my pre-blog LiveJournal and was reminded that I made this shortly after reading about it in Chuck Taggart's blog post in 2007; therefore, I am utilizing that recipe here. Chuck described the concept as, "This takeoff on the sidecar turns the brandy into a Cognac-Calvados blend, the Cointreau into an orange-herb blend, and the lemon juice into a lemon-pineapple blend, maintaining the original character of the drink but adding many layers of additional flavors." Robert Simonson wrote about this riff in his A Proper Drink book, and he described in greater detail how Audrey broke down the juice component into primary and secondary acids of lemon and pineapple, respectively. Besides dividing the Cognac into a 2:1 mix with apple brandy, she split the orange liqueur with Chartreuse to add herbal notes in a way that reminds me of David Embury's Knight. Finally, the combination needed to be softened, so simple syrup was included "to add the fat."
The Tantris Sidecar welcomed the nose with aged grape and apple brandy aromas accented by orange and bright lemon notes. Next, a lemony sip drove into Cognac, Calvados, pineapple, orange peel, and Chartreuse's herbal flavors on the swallow.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

i love you like a punch in the head

3/4 oz Tequila (Cimarron Blanco)
3/4 oz Mezcal (Fidencio)
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1 tsp Becherovka (1/4 oz)
1/2 oz 2:1 Simple Syrup (3/4 oz 1:1)
1 Egg White

Shake once without ice and once with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with bitters (Jerry Thomas Decanter) and grapefruit oil from a twist.

Two Thursdays ago, I was excited about trying a recipe from a new book, namely Clair McLafferty's Romantic Cocktails: Craft Cocktail Recipes for Couples, Crushes, and Star-Crossed Lovers; I was sent the book as a thank you for my contribution of the Queen of the Lava Beds for the section on drinks for two. The one I selected was the I Love You Like a Punch in the Head by Beckaly Franks at the Pontiac in Hong Kong that appeared like an agave egg white Sour spiced with Becherovka. The name also worked perfectly with the glass that I purchased at the Central Square Good Will store earlier in the day for $1.99 -- namely, a Richard Jolley creation that he did for Bombay Sapphire back in 1996!
Entertainingly, the two week delay in my blog posting lined up with today being Valentine's Day, so here is one for the lovers even if the name shows signs of dysfunction. On the nose, the I Love You proffered clove, cinnamon, grapefruit, and hints of smoke. Next, a creamy lemon sip bobbed and weaved into smoky agave and hints of cinnamon, clove, and ginger on the swallow.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

el nino

1 oz Zacapa 23 Rum (Diplomatico Riserva Exclusiva)
1 oz Oronoco Rum (Uruapan Charanda Blanco)
1 oz Pineapple Syrup
1 oz Lemon Juice
Rinse Herbsaint (1 bsp included in mix)

Whip shake, pour into a glass (Tiki mug), fill with crushed ice, and garnish with bitters (Angostura) and a pineapple leaf (omit).
On Wednesday two weeks ago, I wanted to get one more drink in for Tiki the Snow Away month, and I found the perfect recipe in the 2009 Tales of the Cocktail Stir Your Soul book. The libation that caught my eye was the El Nino crafted by Lynnette Marrero for a "Sugarcane Spirits from Around the World" talk that year. The Orinoco Rum called for in the recipe has been discontinued sometime over the last decade, but it was a white Brazilian rum consisting of molasses rum and cachaça; as a substitute, I selected the mezican Uruapan blend of molasses and sugarcane juice distillates that probably falls in the same ballpark. Once prepared, the El Nino shared a clove and allspice bouquet to the nose. Next, caramel from the dark rum was brightened by the lemon juice on the sip, and the swallow showcased a mix of funky and dark rum notes along with pineapple and anise flavors.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

morton house

2/3 Black & White Scotch (1 1/2 oz Famous Grouse)
1/3 French Vermouth (3/4 oz Noilly Prat Dry)
1 dash Crème de Noyaux (1/4 oz Tempus Fugit)
1 dash Bokers or Picon Bitters (1/4 oz Torani Amer)

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

Two Tuesdays ago, I returned home from a bonus shift at work in need of a nightcap. For a solution, I searched my way through Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars: 1903-1933 until I found the Morton House that came across like a Scotch Brooklyn with noyaux in place of the similarly nutty Maraschino. That book also had the Parisian which was a Cognac Brooklyn with noyaux subbing in place of the Picon. As for the name, I was a bit flummoxed for there are many famous Morton Houses. The most famous is probably the 1872 book of that title published by Christian Reid, and the most interesting is an 1890s farmhouse that has been declared one of the most haunted places in America (albeit, the hauntings began after the recipe was created).
In the glass, there was less uncertainty for the mix provided a nutty aroma in a fruity-vanilla sort of way. Next, a dry malt-laden sip shifted into Scotch flavors and dark orange melding into nutty stonefruit pits on the swallow.

Monday, February 11, 2019

serious moonlight

1 1/2 oz Pisco Caravedo Ancholado (Encanto)
1/2 oz Green Chartreuse
1/2 oz Honey Syrup
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
3/4 oz Egg White (1 Egg White)

Shake once without ice and once with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with 3 drop Bittermens Burlesque Bitters.

Two Mondays ago, I was excited that the AlcoholProfessor blog had published their tribute to David Bowie with a cocktail retrospective that contained my Life On Mars. The recipe that caught my eye first was the Serious Moonlight that Nick Elezovic of Diamond Dogs in Astoria crafted based on Bowie's 1983 hit "Let's Dance," and the thought of a Pisco Sour with honey and Chartreuse as sweeteners seemed delightful.
Once prepared, the Serious Moonlight shined like the celestial object but projected Green Chartreuse's herbal aromas to the nose. Next, a creamy lemon and honey sip gave way to pisco and herbal flavors on the swallow.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

sacre bleu

1 1/2 oz Martell Cognac (Courvoisier VS)
3/4 oz Sweet Vermouth (Cocchi)
2 bsp Cointreau (1/4 oz)
2 dash Peychaud's Bitters

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

Two Sundays ago, I reached for the Stir Your Soul book that contained most of the recipes served at the 2009 Tales of the Cocktail event. There, I was lured in by the Sacre Bleu crafted by Simon Ford for a spirited dinner held at Wolfe's in New Orleans that week. The Sacre Bleu was a Cognac Sazerac like the original version before Phylloxera forced bartenders into making it a rye whiskey drink, and the orange liqueur reminded me of Gaz Regan's Sazerac riff, La Tour Eiffel. Moreover, the brandy, vermouth, orange liqueur, and bitters triggered thoughts of Robert Hess' Black Feather that we discovered either on his DrinkBoy blog or in his Essential Bartender's Guide book back in 2007 or so.
Once built, the Sacre Bleu cursed our nose with orange and anise aromas with some darker notes from either the Cognac or sweet vermouth. Next, the grape-driven sip gave way to brandy and orange flavors melding together on the swallow with accents from anise spice.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

devil's mustache

2 oz Mezcal (Fidencio)
1/2 oz Cynar
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/4 oz Simple Syrup
2 dash Orange Bitters (Regan's)

Shake with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with an orange twist. Note: the recipe I found stated stirring, but both photos of the drink that I spotted online were frothy as if shaken.

Two Saturdays ago, I made another drink that I had spied on BarNotes called the Devil's Mustache. This mezcal-Cynar Sour was created at Haddington's in Austin, Texas, circa 2011, and it was attributed to Florian Minier there and to Austin bartender Wesley Borden in Tasting Panel magazine (albeit with no bitters, and with agave syrup and lemon instead of simple syrup and lime). Evidence supporting the BarNotes' story was that the information was provided by another bartender at Haddington's with the comment that it was "created by Florian Minier... who word has it had a phenomenal mustache." Made that way, the Devil's Mustache offered up an orange, funky herbal, and smoke bouquet to the nose. Next, lime mingled with caramel on the sip, and the swallow showcased smoky agave melding into Cynar's herbal flavors and finished with mineral and citrus notes. Overall, the cocktail joined the collection here of other smoke-forward Devil's drinks such as the Devil's Soul and the Devil's Backbone.

Friday, February 8, 2019

grog mutiny

3/4 oz Scotch (Famous Grouse)
3/4 oz Rum (Coruba)
3/4 oz Lustau East India Solera Sherry (3 parts Lustau Amontillado to 1 part Oxford Pedro Ximenez)
3/4 oz Cynar or Averna
3/4 oz Cream
1 Whole Egg

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

Two Fridays ago, I decided to make an Egg Nog that I had spotted on BarNotes called the Grog Mutiny. I had held off since I had not replaced my Lustau East India Solera Sherry that the recipe specified, but this time, I took my own advice that I wrote into Boston Cocktails: Drunk & Told to use 3 parts amontillado/oloroso sherry to 1 part Pedro Ximenez to replicate a cream sherry such as East India Solera. For the Averna or Cynar option, I considered Averna for it paired well with Scotch in the Egg Nog A Drunk in a Midnight Choir, but I wanted to change gears and take the Cynar route instead. I had forgotten that I had just mixed a Scotch Egg Nog with Cynar recently, the Barnaby Jones, and had already created one myself, the Wait Until Spring, four years ago.
The Grog Mutiny was created by New York City bartender Rafa Garcia Febles, and he named it around the circumstances at the West Point Military Academy over Christmas 1826. That year, the Eggnog Riot or the Grog Mutiny occurred where one-third of the students rioted after dipping too heavily into eggnog laced with smuggled-in whiskey at a party; read more about it in this Smithsonian article. Once the tribute was prepared, the Grog Mutiny welcomed the senses with a cinnamon and clove aroma. Next, a creamy grape and caramel sip gave way to Scotch and funky rum on the swallow with a hint of nuttiness and funky herbal amaro on the finish.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

how do i compare

3/4 oz Bourbon (Four Roses Yellow Label)
3/4 oz Apple Brandy (Laird's Bonded)
1/2 oz Benedictine
1/4 oz Cointreau
2 dash Apple Bitters (1 dash Bittermens Burlesque + 1 dash Regan's Orange)

Build in a glass, stir to mix without ice, and garnish with orange oil from a twist. Note: This is a room temperature cocktail.

After my work shift two Thursdays ago, I ventured into Sother Teague's I'm Just Here for the Drinks book where I spotted his How Do I Compare recipe. The drink is a room temperature "cocktail" called a Scaffa that fails to be cocktail for it lacks the water component in the 1806 formula of spirit, sugar, bitters, and water. Classic Scaffas such as Frank Meier's 1934 Rum Scaffa frequently called for Benedictine, and I have found orange liqueurs to work well too such as in the Orange Scaffa. Here, the How Do I Compare utilizes both, and the name is in reference to comparing apples to oranges or apple brandy plus bitters and Cointreau, respectively. To round out the mix, Sother split the base spirit with Bourbon, and to answer the naming question, he responded, "How do I compare apples to oranges? I don't. I just drink them."
In the glass, the orange element greeted the senses through the orange oil from a twist. Next, apple and the whiskey's malt filled the sip, and Bourbon and apple flavors were joined by orange-herbal notes on the swallow.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

bring me the horizon

1 oz Denizen Aged White Rum
1/2 oz Plantation Original Dark Overproof Rum (Plantation OFTD)
1/4 oz Zacapa Rum
1/2 oz Cocchi Vermouth
1 tsp Don's Spices #2 (1/2 tsp each vanilla syrup + Hamilton's Allspice Dram)

Stir with ice and strain into a small wine glass (Nick & Nora glass).
Two Wednesdays ago, I turned to Tom Sandham's 2012 World's Best Cocktails for a nightcap. There, I spotted in the rum section a recipe from Brian Miller that was aligned in spirit (albeit not in appearance) with the Tiki the Snow Away event that month. Brian created the Bring Me the Horizon for the Tiki Mondays with Miller nights at Lani Kai in Manhattan that ran from 2011 until the bar closed in 2012. Overall, the recipe reminded me of a 3-rum Pirate's Cocktail that substituted Don's Spices #2 for the bitters. Once prepared, the Bring Me the Horizon shared a rum funk, vanilla, and allspice nose. Next, caramel and grape mingled on the sip and led into the rum medley accented by allspice and vanilla flavors.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019


1 1/2 oz Plymouth Gin (Tanqueray)
3/4 oz Pimm's No. 1
3/4 oz Dubonnet Rouge (Byrrh)
3 dash Regan's Orange Bitters

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with an orange twist.

While reading Jared Brown and Anistatia Miller's The Deans of Drink book about Harry Johnson and Harry Craddock, I spotted an interesting tribute drink to Harry Craddock. Technically the drink crafted by Blair Fordelius of GoodSpiritsNews was in honor of Gilbert Rumbold who did the art deco illustrations to Craddock's 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book. The combination of gin, Pimm's, and a bitter-herbal ingredient reminded me of the Black Friar Tea while still retaining the feel of something from England in the 1930s (however, it reminds me more of recipes from the Café Royal Cocktail Book more than the Savoy Cocktail Book itself).
In the glass, the Rumbold welcomed the nose with orange and juniper notes. Next, grape and berry fruitiness on the sip led into gin and herbal flavors on the swallow with a quinine finish.

Monday, February 4, 2019

mother of exiles

1 oz Rittenhouse Bonded Rye
1 oz Jameson Irish Whiskey (Teeling's Small Batch)
3/4 oz Meletti Amaro
1/4 oz Amontillado Sherry (Lustau)

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

In my search to find enough Meletti recipes to make the purchase worthwhile, one recipe that kept popping up in Redbook and other sites was the Mother of Exiles by Nick Bennett. Nick crafted this tribute to a 1880s poem that helped raise money for the Statue of Liberty at Porchlight in New York City. That poem was the sonnet "The New Colossus" by Emma Lazarus; while the lines "Give me your tired, your poor,/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,/The wretched refuse of your teeming shore" became infamous, the previous stanza declared, "A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame/Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name/MOTHER OF EXILES. From her beacon-hand/Glows world-wide welcome". Perhaps the combination of ingredients here represents the Scottish, Irish, Italian, and Spanish settlers in this country (Scottish and Irish settled in Pennsylvania and were the driving force behind rye whiskey distillation). A similar assemblage was crafted by Brother Cleve in his Union Cocktail to represent the immigrants to Somerville, MA, with Irish whiskey and Meletti Amaro being overlapping ingredients.
The Mother of Exiles greeted the nose with orange, caramel, vanilla, and floral aromas. Next, the amaro's caramel continued on into the sip, and the swallow followed things up with rye, softer Irish whiskey notes, nutty, violet, and bitter herbal flavors.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

:: how to stay creative ::

First published on the USBG National blog in March 2018, and slightly modified for publication here.

On a Facebook group that I am on, a bartender mentioned how they were considering a hotel bar job that offered good benefits but would severely limit their creativity, and they wondered how to deal with that aspect disappearing. While I will not cover the cost-benefit side of what a job like that can offer towards stability, insurance, and the like, I will focus more on how to stay creative when your job will not foster it or perhaps not even allow it. While I have been involved in bartender roles where I had partial control of menus ranging from a single menu item to the majority of the menu when I was the lead bartender, I have also been in positions where I had zero say in menu development. However, this did not stop me from crafting new libations at home and at work as well as providing guests with drink experiences not found on the menu.

Creativity in bartending can be broken down into a few avenues. One is at work where the owners and managers can notice and appreciate your professional input whether through menu items, guest feedback, or social media. Second is for the guests who adore your work and seek out the nights that you work to experience your craft; this sort of one-on-one aspect can offer the bartender the greatest immediate gratification. And third is through fellow bartenders (as well as non-local drink enthusiasts) from exposure in competitions or trade blogs, magazines, and books. Overall, creativity within a drink itself can come from the ingredients, the vessel, the garnish, the name, as well as the story behind it, and all of this can help to break a bartender out of the factory production feel that the job can take on especially when it gets busy or the establishment is rather corporate.
When someone questioned the importance of creativity, I commented on that thread that it can validate that you know your stuff, can think on the fly, and can do more than the menu and 50 classics. It is possible to get regulars who not only begin to trust you but seek you out for your creativity. Creativity does not have to be just menu items, but it certainly does help as a start especially if there is an expectation that you will contribute to the list for each revision. One of the thread posters suggested, “Cultivate your regulars and get them to trust you” in how to make your “bar into a playground.” I have found success in asking if there is anything on the menu that catches their fancy or whether they would like to go off menu for their next round (I rarely offer this for the first round unless it is a regular who has worked their way through the menu already). I follow up either with questions of what they are looking for or with drink idea suggestions based off their previous drink choice.

It was pointed out that jobs can expand through promotion to allow for more creativity, and I have definitely experienced this when a bar manager left and I had to fill their shoes. But creativity is not limited to your main job and your guests there. I have had good luck with guest bartending shifts at other bars across town -- both solo ones with my own menu or duo ones where two of us combine our talents to make a menu fitting a theme. Another thread contributor pushed the concept of competitions as an outlet to invent new drink ideas and perhaps get some notoriety and exposure. Many of these competitions weigh heavily on the creative side of things including the name and story in connection with their product in addition to the recipe and presentation.

Creativity can be fostered outside of working in bars. Consider building up a home bar and utilize that as your tinkering lab. Even without guests in front of you, your recipes can find an audience through Instagram, blogging, or other avenues of social media. Instagram, apps like OnTheBar [edit: RIP] and BarNotes, and the like can also be utilized to amplify one-offs at work such that they reach drink makers across the globe as well as regulars who may come in and try your drinks in person. At some bars, we have been allowed a shift drink under a certain value, and it is possible to utilize this to let the creative juices flow for your own shift drink or one of your co-worker’s.
Besides tinkering at home or at work, consider other outlets to get the mind going. I find that reading, traveling, going to conferences (including watching video replays of talks), listening to podcasts, browsing produce markets, and visiting other cocktail bars are great ways to get thinking about new avenues to explore. Writing down ideas whether on your phone or in a physical notebook will get the moment and thought captured; this will allow for a greater efficiency such as by reducing waste in exploring recipe ideas and will eliminate the need to create concepts de novo.

Others on that thread suggested focusing on the numerous ways that you can make the guest happy, but this can happen along with creativity as well. Creativity can boost a bartender’s self esteem by expanding the role into artist and thinker and by receiving praise and respect; moreover, the importance of this aspect of bartending can range from minor to crucial depending on the person. However, frequently, working at a creative cocktail bar comes at a cost of reduced earnings and benefits that can generally be accrued at volume or hotel establishments. Indeed, there are middle grounds and ways of letting your creative juices flow while not taking a hit financially.


2 oz Gin (Tanqueray)
1 oz Grapefruit Juice
1/2 oz Grenadine

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail coupe.
Two Sundays ago, I reach for Sasha Petraske's Regarding Cocktails book and spotted Joseph Schwartz's variation on the Blinker that he crafted at Milk & Honey. He dubbed this one the Sugarplum after the pet name of Joseph's wife given to her by her grandmother, and the text mentions that this recipe makes a great tequila variation. If it included the Blinker's classic raspberry syrup (instead of the general but flabby substitute of grenadine), it would be rather similar to the Orlando in Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars. In the glass, the Sugarplum's bouquet showcased the grapefruit melding with the gin's juniper-pine aroma. Next, grapefruit and a dry berry note on the sip gave way to juniper, pomegranate, and grapefruit peel flavors on the swallow.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

"75" cocktail

2/6 gill Dry Gin (1 1/3 oz Damrak)
1/6 gill Calvados (2/3 oz Boulard VSOP)
2 dash Grenadine (1/2 oz)
1 tsp Lemon Juice (1/2 oz)

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

Two Saturdays ago, I considered the history of the French 75 that I had read in a Difford's Guide article. Before the drink landed on the gin (or Cognac), lemon, sugar, and Champagne number, the World War I-era French 75mm field artillery gun, it had a few non-carbonated precursors. The earliest was the Soixante-Quinze created at Harry's Bar that made a 1915 newspaper article and later appeared as the "75" Cocktail in Robert Vermeire's 1922 Cocktails: How to Mix Them book as above (with different proportions as the 1915 recipe). It was not until Judge Jr.'s 1927 Here's How book during Prohibition that sparkling wine was penned down on paper. While Judge pointed out that if you build the recipe with club soda instead, the mix becomes a Tom Collins, the literature makes me doubt the history that the libation began as a Tom Collins when British soldiers were trying to make do with what they could scrounge up.
Vermeire's recipe provided the history of, "This cocktail was very well appreciated in Paris during the war. It has been called after the famous light French field gun, and was introduced by Henry [Tépé] of Henry's Bar fame in Paris." Overall, the combination was akin to a Pink Lady sans egg white and thus reminiscent of a Jack Rose as well as the Blue Skies (a drink I was served at a local bar that was perhaps culled from the literature). In the glass, the "75" Cocktail proffered a lemon, apple, and berry nose that led into a crisp berry sip. Next, apple and the gin's juniper and other botanical notes joined forces on the swallow.

Friday, February 1, 2019

as perfect as a limerick

1 1/2 oz Hendrick's Gin
1/2 oz Avua Cachaça Prata
1 oz House Celery Blanc Vermouth (3/4 oz Dolin Dry Vermouth + 1/4 oz Celery Syrup) (*)
1 dash Pernod Absinthe

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with a lemon twist.
(*) The ingredient name is an effort to avoid the word "syrup" because guests will assume that the drink is too sweet.

Two Fridays ago, I tested out my new menu idea at Nahita and got some feedback. I had made a celery syrup as I had done for a drink at Earl's Cocktail Lab a year or so ago, and I was planning on trying out two few directions with citrus. However, one of the stirred drinks was coming off the menu, so I opted for my Martini variation idea. As a starting point, I considered the structure of the Diamond Queen that I had crafted for the Tales of the Cocktail Martini competition in 2017, and I figured that celery would work well with cachaça which to date has not been utilized on our list (celery would definitely work great with tequila and mezcal which are already present and accounted for though). Given how well Hendrick's worked in my take of the 1937 Rio Grande that was a gin-tequila Manhattan of sorts, I started with that gin for my base and paired it with a minor amount of Avua's unaged cachaça. Given that Dolin Dry Vermouth is 29 g/L sugar and 1:1 simple syrup is around 500 g/L, a 3:1 ratio puts the sugar content around 150 g/L which is approximately the sugar content of sweet vermouth. While the combination tasted pleasingly grassy and herbal, it felt a little flat; a dash of absinthe helped that out by donating a bright complexity.
For a name, I had H.L. Mencken's quote, "Martinis are the only American invention as perfect as the sonnet," fresh in my head from reading Kate Hawking's Aperitif book, and I recalled how we passed around a book of limericks at a Hendrick's event a few years ago. While the five line poem form was named after the Irish town, it was the Scots who took the art form to higher (and lower) levels. Therefore, I dubbed this quirky number As Perfect as a Limerick. My guest later that night in the Fenix Speakeasy who requested a Martini-like drink quite enjoyed the final form.