Sunday, March 31, 2019

texas cakewalk

1 oz Fino Sherry (Lustau)
1/2 oz Mezcal (Fidencio)
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Cynar
1/2 oz Grenadine
1 dash Angostura Bitters

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

In looking for inspiration on what to do with my bottle of Fino sherry, I was reminded of the Death & Sundries that I had at Cane & Table. The Fino then made me think of the Remember the Alimony, and that drink's Cynar got me thinking of Giuseppe's Lady with its Cynar, grenadine, lime, and Angostura Bitters combination. When I selected mezcal as the spirit to support the sherry, it reminded me of a Mexican Firing Squad, so I named this after an American West slang term for hanging -- the Texas Cakewalk.
The Texas Cakewalk roped the nose in with a lemon and smoke aroma. Next, lime, white wine, and caramel notes cinched in the sip, and the swallow dropped with smoky mezcal, berry, herbal, and mineral flavors and dangled with a smoked finish.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

fall on me

1 1/2 oz Rye Whiskey (Rittenhouse)
1/2 oz Sweet Vermouth (Martini Gran Lusso)
1/2 oz Oloroso or Amontillado Sherry (Lustau Oloroso)
1/4 oz Benedictine
1/4 oz Apricot Liqueur (Combier)

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

Two Saturdays ago, I recalled my intrigue with the apricot-Benedictine pairing that I discovered through the Silk Road Sour and later tinkered with in the Peruvian Necktie. To build off of the components, the apricot made me think of oxidized sherry (similar to how I paired them in the Queen Anne's Revenge) and the Benedictine pointed me to sweet vermouth and rye to create this Manhattan variant. For a name, I was inspired to name it after a R.E.M. song as I had with the King of Birds (I also named a punch the Johnny Reb Punch after a lyric from Swan Swan H.; that recipe only appears on my Instagram), and the song "Fall on Me" started playing my head.
The Fall on Me reached the nose with an orange and grape aroma. Next, grape and orchard fruit notes mingled on the sip, and the swallow provided rye, nutty, and apricot-herbal flavors. Overall, the mix was somewhat like a Slope mashed up with a Preakness.

Friday, March 29, 2019

submarine cocktail

1/4 French Vermouth (1 oz Noilly Prat)
1/4 El Bart Gin (1 oz Junipero)
1/2 Dubonnet Rouge (2 oz)

Stir with ice and strain into a glass.

Two Fridays ago, I sought out Hugo Ensslin's 1916 Recipes for Mixed Drinks for something light to end my rather late evening; perhaps I was drawn to that tome for its collection of Dubonnet recipes that could utilize my purchase of the new reformulation of that quinquina. The one I selected was the Submarine Cocktail; I later realized that I had previously made the Submarine with different proportions and bitters on my Boker's Bitters post back in 2008. That gin-forward recipe was from CocktailDB which seemed to have acquired it from Stan Jones' 1977 Complete Barguide; Jones must have sourced it from something earlier due to the inclusion of Boker's Bitters. Ensslin's recipe correlates with the uptick in submarine activity during World War I, so it could perhaps be one of the earliest recipes if not the first for the Submarine Cocktail.
The Submarine Cocktail delighted the nose with a strawberry and cherry bouquet from the new Dubonnet. Next, grape on the sip sunk into cherry and grape flavors on the swallow with a chocolate and juniper finish.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

the night shift

1 1/4 oz Cognac (Courvoisier VS)
1 oz Appleton Signature Blend Rum
1 oz Carpano Sweet Vermouth (Martini Gran Lusso)
1/8 oz Allspice Dram (Hamilton's)

Stir with ice, strain into a rocks glass with a large ice cube, and garnish with an orange twist.
Two Thursdays ago, I selected Maggie Hoffman's Batch Cocktails for something that I could adapt into a nightcap for one. There, Sean Kenyon's Night Shift that he crafted at American Bonded in Denver seemed like a delightful split spirits Manhattan-like number. Once prepared, the Night Shift offered up orange, allspice, and caramel notes to the nose. Next, caramel joined grape on the sip, and Cognac, rum, herbal, and allspice flavors rounded out the swallow.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019


1 1/2 oz Plymouth Gin (Tanqueray)
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Honey Syrup
1/4 oz St. Germain (St. Elder)
1/4 oz Caol Ila 12 Year Scotch
1 dash Orange Bitters (Regan's)
1 Egg White

Shake once without ice and once with ice, and strain into a cocktail coupe.
Two Wednesdays ago, New York City bartender Lacy Hawkins stopped into my bar for lunch, and that evening after work, I decided to pay my respects to one of her drink creations. The one that I selected was the Beekeeper from The Nomad Cookbook that appeared like a smoky-floral Bee's Knees riff. In addition to the Scotch and elderflower components, the recipe also included egg white as had Charles H. Baker's Bahia Busy Bee and Yvonne's Honey Bee. Interestingly, Lacy comes from a family of bee keepers and still maintains hives at her parents' house, so it seemed like a great tribute to her family's pastimes. In the glass, the Beekeeper's aromas of honey, floral, and smoke flew into the nose. Next, a creamy honey and lemon sip buzzed into a gin, floral, and peachy swallow with a peat smoke finish.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

berry wall

1 1/2 oz Bourbon (Wild Turkey 101)
3/4 oz Punt e Mes
1/2 oz Campari
1/4 oz Allspice Dram (Hamilton's)
1 medium Strawberry

Muddle the strawberry in the Campari and allspice dram. Add the rest of the ingredients, stir with ice, and double strain into a rocks glass with a large ice cube. Garnish with an orange twist.

Two Tuesdays ago, I got into discussion with Christine Fernsebner Eslao about Saratoga Springs' role in 19th century cocktail culture when she posted a photo of the Adelphi Hotel and other sites around town. Saratoga Springs was a famous spa, gambling, and horse racing town north of New York City that attracted the sporting and dandy crowd, and it spawned several cocktails such as the Saratoga Cocktail and Saratoga Brace Up from Jerry Thomas and the Saratoga Cocktail from Harry Johnson. Christine replied that this made sense because Berry Wall, an 1880s New York City socialite dubbed the "King of the Dudes," hung out a bit in the town. I discovered that Berry won a dude-off fashion competition there in 1888 by changing outfits 40 times between breakfast and dinner. I figured that his name alone was worthy of a drink tribute. Indeed, the berry aspect made me think of the strawberry-Campari flavor duo from drinks like the Dunderstruck, and I opted for a Boulevardier "man about town" angle.
The Berry Wall sauntered into the senses with an orange and berry aroma. Next, red berry and grape mingled on the sip, and the swallow bet the house with Bourbon, strawberry, bitter orange, and allspice flavors. After enjoying this combination, I discovered that I had probably lifted the Campari, strawberry, and allspice trio concept from the Louanalao, although I originally just recalled how well Campari and allspice worked in the Chester Rapkin and other cocktails when I was considering a final modifying ingredient.

Monday, March 25, 2019

huascar daiquiri

2 oz Flor de Caña 4 Year Rum (Uruapan Charanda Blanco)
3/4 oz Lime Juice
3/4 oz Simple Syrup

Shake with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and float 1/2 oz Cruzan Blackstrap Rum.
After returning home from volunteering at Speed Rack two Monday nights ago, I was in the mood for something refreshing. In the Brooklyn Bartender Book, I spotted Del Pedro's Huascar Daiquiri that he crafted at Tooker Alley. Del Pedro created this one night for a restaurant worker in the neighborhood Huascar who loved the combination. This Daiquiri greeted the nose with a lime and dark rum bouquet. Next, lime and caramel on the sip gave way to funky rum and molasses flavors on the swallow.

Sunday, March 24, 2019


1 oz Cocchi Americano
1 oz Fino Sherry (Lustau)
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Simple Syrup
2 dash Orange Bitters (Regan's)

Shake with ice, strain into a Collins glass with ice, top with soda water (2 oz), and garnish with a grapefruit twist.
In seeking out recipes to utilize my bottle of Fino sherry, I searched the Imbibe Magazine database and found the Goldfinch. The recipe was crafted by Lauren Schell at Seaworthy in New Orleans, and it was published in the Summer 2016 issue which came out around the time the bar opened up at the Ace Hotel. In the glass, the Goldfinch flitted to the nose with grapefruit and fino sherry's dry wine aroma. Next, a crisp carbonated lemon and peach noted sip led into fino sherry and orange flavors on the swallow.

Saturday, March 23, 2019


1 jigger Rye Whiskey (2 oz Old Overholt)
2 dash Curaçao (1/4 oz Pierre Ferrand Dry)
2 dash Absinthe (20 drop St. George)
2 dash Dubonnet (3/4 oz)
1 piece Orange Peel
1 piece Lemon Peel

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
Two Saturdays ago, I returned to Hugo Ensslin's 1916 Recipes for Mixed Drinks to make a drink called the Temptation that came across akin to the Deshler but with much less Dubonnet and a touch of absinthe instead of Peychaud's Bitters. Once prepared, the Temptation teased the nose with rye, grape, and orange aromas. Next, dry grape and malt set up the sip, and the swallow gave in with rye, orange, chocolate, and bitter herbal flavors with an anise, lemon peel, and orange peel finish.

Friday, March 22, 2019

:: history of place ::

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

Learning history has been a very useful way to relate to guests. Indeed, cocktail knowledge is rather important to some guests as is being able to explain the tapestry of what American whiskey is. However, one of the best ways to relate to guests regardless of what they drink or even if they drink is learning the history of the bar’s space. That space can be the building, the neighborhood, and events going on around it.

In terms of building, one of my previous bars, Russell House Tavern in Harvard Square in Cambridge, MA, relishes the fact that the building’s first occupant in the mid 1800s was furniture dealer Thomas Russell and it helped to tie Harvard Square as a center of business. However, with older guests, it was important to know that the spot was the Wursthaus from 1917 until 1996. Some would regale tales about the quality German beer brands that they served there when America was awash in flavorless macro-beer lagers. And I remember one couple who related that they were too poor as Harvard students to eat at the Wursthaus, but now that they were older and more successful, they could eat in the same space. My next bar, Loyal Nine in East Cambridge has a less regal history in terms of building location, but one that still is important nevertheless. The previous tenants were a successive pair of liquor stores, and neighborhood guests love telling stories about their decline into a near-empty shelved questionable establishment. One of my favorite comments about the space was from an old co-worker who commented, “I used to buy beer underage there,” followed by his girlfriend’s reply of “Yes, a lot of driving around town is a tour of where Adam bought beer underage.”
The neighborhood’s history is also important. This showed itself especially when I worked day shifts at Russell House Tavern, and it tapped into how people love to reminisce. Part of my knowledge stemmed from spending a large amount of time in the neighborhood when I moved here back in the 90s. However, when my regulars would talk about people places that I did not know about, I turned to history books. Luckily, I could purchase the Harvard Square: An Illustrated History Since 1950 book so I could look up that BBQ place around the corner that was gone before I got here so I could follow up with a guest the next time they came in. Web searches also helped, for the city’s historical society has plenty of articles about establishments, figures, and trends. My next bar’s neighborhood has a less notable history, but still one that can be tapped into in regards to what restaurants and stores were in the area throughout the years.

Loyal Nine’s neighborhood does have a lot of cultural history though being at the intersection of Italian and Portuguese neighborhoods. Both have their respective festivals to learn about with the Italian ones being on the north side of Cambridge Street and the Portuguese ones being on the south side. While the Portuguese ones include parades with marching bands and church bell peels, the Italian festival every summer is a weekend long extravaganza that includes rides, carnie game booths, and food. Most of all, they have bands. One year, they had a few once-famous bands like the Spinners but they also had the current incarnation of the Village People. The Village People playing the neighborhood party was a big conversation piece, so I began to study up on Village People history including which were the original members that were still active, what years the hits were, and what the scandal with the U.S. Navy commercial was all about. That Saturday night, we made the drink of the day a four rum Old Fashioned called In the Navy. Many of our guests that night had either gone to the festival beforehand or were planning to catch the band afterwards, and the others at least knew about the goings on especially since Cambridge Street was blocked off starting a street away. The drink of the day gave a great talking piece to relate ideas about the neighborhood and interesting moments in music during the 1970s. That drink turned out to be the most successful drink of the day, and the recipe is as follows:
In the Navy
• 1/2 oz Navy Strength Rum (we used Smith & Cross)
• 1/2 oz Local Amber Rum (here, Privateer Amber)
• 1/2 oz Local Amber Rum (here, Old Ipswich Tavern Style)
• 1/2 oz Old Monk Rum (or other dark rum)
• 3/4 oz Demerara Syrup (1:1)
• 1 heavy barspoon St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram
• 2 dash Angostura Bitters
Build in a rocks glass, add ice, stir to mix and chill, and garnish with lemon and lime twists.
The drink could be tied back to that neck of the woods being a major center of rum production before Prohibition, to the history of the song it was named after, or just as a hearty libation to be enjoyed. Bartender’s choice. Or perhaps, it is better said the bartender’s job to read the guest’s choice of what they want to hear about and connect to.
The key to all of these interactions is that there is so much more to talk about besides the spirits on your back bar. And you will learn in exchange as people relate their stories and histories about the place and neighborhood. I remember one New Year’s Eve, an older gentleman took a break from visiting his elderly mother and stopped in for a beer. He taught me that Loyal Nine’s space used to be two buildings with one of them having a sandwich shop on the first floor. A fire in one wiped out both buildings, and that is how our current space came to be built. The stories about the dangers of drug dealing on this strip during the 1980s were less useful but nevertheless colorful and entertaining. But I definitely felt that the stories he had a chance to tell were better for his soul than the beer he had with us.

margot tenenbaum

2 oz High-Rye Bourbon (Four Roses Yellow Label)
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Honey Syrup
1/2 oz Zucca Rabarbaro (Sfumato)

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail coupe.

On Friday night two weeks ago, my hand reached for Amanda Schuster's New York Cocktails to find my post work shift libation. There, I spied Frank Cisneros' Margot Tenebaum named after the edgy character from Wes Anderson's The Royal Tenenbaums movie, and since Margot was a smoker for most of her life, it was apt that the recipe called for a smoky amaro (the Chinese rhubarb root in rabarbaros naturally comes across as smoky despite not having touched fire). Since I enjoyed my last recipe that I had tried by Frank, namely the Farmer's Armagnac, I was excited to give this one a go.
The Margot Tenenbaum adopted a smoky herbal aroma with honey-floral undertones. Next, a bright lemon sip was darkened by the Sfumato's earthy roastiness, and the swallow wrapped things up with Bourbon accented by bitter flavors balanced by sweet floral honey notes.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

frankie panky

2 oz Blanco Tequila (Cimarron)
3/4 oz Cynar
1/2 oz Dry Vermouth (Noilly Prat)
1/4 oz Fernet Branca

Stir with ice, strain into a rocks glass with a large ice cube, and garnish with an orange twist.

Two Thursdays ago, my advance copy of Maggie Hoffman's Batch Cocktails arrived; I was sent one for my Derby Cup was utilized as one of the recipes (albeit a scaled-up and batched version). So when I got home that night, I quickly flipped through the pages to see if there was a good recipe that could be scaled down to become my nightcap. The one that made the call was Los Angeles bartender Liam Odien's riff on the Hanky Panky from the Savoy Cocktail Book. Here, tequila subbed for the gin base, and the sweet vermouth was replaced by a combination of Cynar and dry vermouth.
Given the name, I was curious if it were a tribute to NYC bartender Ms. Franky Marshall, but I realized that the spelling was wrong; instead, it could be named after a West Coast photographer and burlesque performer Frankie Panky. The Frankie Panky began the act with an orange and minty-herbal aroma. Next, the Cynar's caramel filled the sip, and the swallow closed things out with tequila and complementary funky herbal flavors along with minty-menthol notes from the Fernet.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

before the bell

1 oz Rye Whiskey (Rittenhouse)
1 oz Dubonnet Rouge
1/2 oz Cynar
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
2 slice Orange

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

After making the Deshler the night before that was shaken with orange and lemon peels and having re-spotted the Twin Six shaken with orange slices that also appeared in Ensslin, I was inspired to riff on the Deshler. Given the shaken with orange aspect, I was decided to mashup the Deshler with Sam Ross' Too Soon? and give it a boxing-inspired name of Before the Bell.
In the glass, the Before the Bell circled with an orange, grape, and caramel bouquet. Next, the sip jabbed with lemon, orange, and caramel notes, and the swallow shot the cross with rye and bitter herbal flavors with a bitter orange finish. Perhaps Bourbon or a softer rye would work better here for I find aggressive ryes to be less satisfying in Sours. Or it could be that the orange from Sam Ross' gin drink did not go as well with American whiskey as I have noted in the Ward 8 and in my write up of the Tiki mashup version, the Scorpion Ward.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

deshler cocktail

1/2 Rye Whiskey (1 1/2 oz Old Overholt)
1/2 Dubonnet (1 1/2 oz Dubonnet Rouge)
2 dash Peychaud's Bitters
2 dash Cointreau (1/8+ oz)
1 piece Lemon Peel
2 piece Orange Peel

Shake with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and serve with an orange twist on top.

Two Tuesdays ago, I sought out Hugo Ensslin's 1916 Recipes for Mixed Drinks and soon found the Deshler Cocktail that had popped into my head soon after buying the new formulation of Dubonnet. The recipe was named for turn of the century boxer David Deshler, and it was one that I had not made before despite having written about it in describing Palmer Matthew's riff at Drink that got dubbed after another boxer of that era, namely Kid McCoy.
Despite the straight spirits nature of the drink, I still shook it to help incorporate the peel components; however, I have seen stirred versions that squeezed the peels into the mixing glass to offer a smoother tipple. Once prepared, the Deshler opened up with a flurry of orange, grape, and cherry aromas. Next, it bobbed with a dry grape sip, and it weaved with a rye, cherry, chocolate, orange, and anise flavored swallow.

Monday, March 18, 2019

la perla

1 1/2 oz Partida Reposado Tequila (Cimarron)
1 1/2 oz Lustau Manzanilla Sherry (Lustau Fino)
3/4 oz Mathilde Pear Liqueur (Rothman & Winter)

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with a lemon twist.
One of the unoxidized sherry recipes in the PDT Cocktail Book that I could not make until I bought a bottle of Fino was Jacques Benzuidenhout's La Perla that he created in San Francisco circa 2005. The drink was Jacques' nod to Tomas Estes' bar of London's Covent Gardens; Tomas owned the now defunct La Perla and is a renowned tequila guru who founded the Tequila Ocho brand. In the glass, La Perla began with a lemon and muted agave nose. Next, an off-dry white grape and pear sip led into a pear and agave medley with a hint of chocolate on the swallow. Overall, my balance was probably a lot less pear-forward given my liqueur choice (more natural and subtle than Mathilde) and its decade of sitting on my shelf (first blog post usage was this tequila Sour in April 2009).

Sunday, March 17, 2019

low hanging fruit

3/4 oz Mezcal (Fidencio)
3/4 oz Apricot Liqueur (Rothman & Winter)
3/4 oz Strega
3/4 oz Lime Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

Two Sundays ago, I decided to make a drink that I had spotted earlier in the week on Christopher James' Instagram feed of something that he created at Felina in New Jersey. Chris was my Cocktails in the Country roommate back in 2015, so I felt comfortable inquiring about the recipe. I was intrigued because the combination reminded me of the Eulogy given the Strega and lime, and Chris described the name as, "It's the easiest drink to make hence the low hanging fruit moniker."
The Low Hanging Fruit tempted me with smoke and star anise aromas with hints of apricot on the nose. Next, the lime-driven sip gave way to smoky agave, apricot, and licorice flavors on the swallow.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

pink harmony

2 oz Barbancourt 5 Star (8 Year) Rhum
1/4 oz Maraschino Liqueur (Luxardo)
1/4 oz Grenadine
1/2 oz Lemon Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a champagne glass (coupe).
After my bar shift two Saturdays ago, I reached for Trader Vic's 1974 Rum Cookery & Drinkery book to find something gentle to end my work week. There, I spotted the Pink Harmony that appeared like the lemon for lime juice version of the Champs-de-Mars Daiquiri. What was at the core of this rum drink was the Maraschino-grenadine pairing that shines in drinks like the Mary Pickford, Cuban, and the Hell in the Pacific Tiki drink. In the glass, the Pink Harmony proffered nutty cherry and lemon to the nose. Next, lemon along with light cherry and berry notes filled the sip, and the swallow showcased the rum with nutty and pomegranate flavors. Overall, the Pink Harmony had a softer feel with lemon in the mix instead of lime.

the lighthouse

2 oz Brugal Añejo Rum (Don Q Añejo)
3/4 oz Tio Pepe Fino Sherry (Lustau)
1/4 oz Velvet Falernum
2 dash Scrappy's Lime Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail coupe.
Two Fridays ago, I was in the mood to give my new bottle of Fino bottle some more mileage, so I looked to the BarNotes app for inspiration. There, I was lured in by Matt Grippo's Lighthouse that was his first cocktail creation at the Blackbird Bar in San Francisco. While Matt said that it would taste great as described, the bar was selling this as a barrel-aged offering after 6 weeks in a small cask. What drew me in was the similarity to the Georgetown Club Cocktail from Charles H. Baker, Jr.'s South American Companion that I had great success with on the Loyal Nine menu circa 2016. Once stirred and strained, the Lighthouse shined out with aged rum and lime aromas. Next, caramel balanced by crisp white wine notes on the sip beaconed in rum, savory, clove, lime, and ginger flavors on the swallow. Like the Georgetown Club, there was enough sugar in the quarter ounce of falernum to round off the drink into a more gentle quaff.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

sky rocket

1 oz Bourbon (Wild Turkey 101)
1 oz Swedish Punsch (Kronan)
1 oz Dry Vermouth (Noilly Prat)
1/4 oz Lemon Juice
1 dash Fee's Old Fashioned Bitters (Fee's Whiskey Barrel Bitters)

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with a lemon twist.
Two Thursdays ago, I spotted the Sky Rocket in Imbibe Magazine. The recipe was created by Daniel Shoemaker at Teardrop in Portland, Oregon, and the name and Swedish punsch component reminded me of the Rocket from Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars: 1903-1933. With a little thought, the Sky Rocket soon seemed like a gentle riff on the Boomerang from the 1937 Café Royal Cocktail Book with a different whiskey and aromatic bitters duo. Once prepared, the Sky Rocket launched up to the nose with lemon, Bourbon, and Swedish punsch's caramel aromas. Next, the sip cruised in with crisp lemon and white wine notes, and the swallow exploded with Bourbon, rum, tea, and cinnamon flavors.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

flip the bird

1 1/2 oz Blackstrap Rum (Cruzan)
1 1/2 oz Pineapple Juice
1/2 oz Campari
1/2 oz Demerara Syrup
1 Whole Egg

Shake once without ice and once with ice, strain into a double old fashioned glass, and garnish with 2 pineapple leaves and either lime oil from a twist or 5 drop lime bitters (Scrappy's Lime Bitters).

As I was coming home from work two Wednesdays ago, I was in the mood for an egg drink, and I pondered what fun Tiki drink could be reformulated as a Flip. My mind drifted over to the Jungle Bird, and I figured that it could turn out well as a Flip if I removed the lime juice component. I ended up putting the lime element back in as an aromatic garnish as a nod to the original recipe while still to keeping things soft and dessert-y. For a name, Andrea suggested Flip the Bird.
In the glass, the Flip the Bird greeted the nose with a lime aroma from the bitters garnish. Next, a creamy pineapple sip with hints of dark caramel led into molassy rum smoothly merging Campari's orange flavors on the swallow.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

foreign legion

1 1/2 oz Mount Gay XO Rum (RL Seale 10 Year)
1/2 oz Aperol
1/2 oz Dubonnet Rouge
1/2 oz Lustau Manzanilla Sherry (Lustau Fino)
1 bsp Marie Brizard Crème de Cacao (Tempus Fugit)
1 dash Fee's Rhubarb Bitters (Regan's Orange)

Stir with ice, strain into a rocks glass with an ice sphere, and garnish with an orange twist.
In continuing on to find more uses for my bottle of Fino sherry, I found my bookmark for the Foreign Legion in the PDT Cocktail Book; moreover, the drink would also utilize my purchase of the new reformulation of Dubonnet Rouge! The recipe was created by Melbourne bartender Greg Sanderson before his guest bartending shift at PDT in 2009. Once prepared, the Foreign Legion showcased an orange and grape aroma with darker notes from the chocolate liqueur and perhaps the Dubonnet. Next, grape and orange mingled on the sip, and the swallow had a delightful combination of rum, chocolate, and herbal flavors.

Monday, March 11, 2019

remember the alimony

1 1/4 oz Fino Sherry (Lustau)
1 1/4 oz Cynar
3/4 oz Beefeater Gin

Build in a double old fashioned glass with a large ice cube, stir to mix and chill, and garnish with an orange twist.
In my shopping expedition to Sundays ago, I finally added a bottle of Fino sherry to my collection. For a starting point the following night, I selected Dan Greenbaum's 2012 Remember the Alimony that he crafted at the Beagle in New York City and that Robert Simonson published in his 3-Ingredient Cocktails book. I first learned of the drink when Zac Luther did a guest shift at Backbar two years ago, and he cited it as the inspiration for his Not a Melon cocktail. Once built, the Remember the Alimony donated orange and herbal notes to the nose. Next, a crisp white wine sip was balanced by the sweet caramel elements in Cynar, and the swallow broadcasted funky herbal flavors dried out by Fino's acid and accented by the gin's pine and other botanticals.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

fade to black

1 oz Mezcal (Fidencio)
1 oz Ramazzotti Amaro
1/4 oz Smith & Cross Rum
2 dash Bittermens Mole Bitters
1 Whole Egg

Shake once without ice and once with ice, strain into a Collins glass, and top with Negro Modelo beer (~8 oz Trader José's Dark Lager).

Two Sundays ago, I added a Negro Modelo beer to my shopping list to finally make the Fade to Black that appeared in Ron Cooper's Finding Mezcal book. The recipe was crafted by Jeremy Oertel at Death & Co., and he was influenced by his time spent at Phil Ward's agave bar Mayahuel. While in Trader Joe's where I had previously spotted single bottles of Negro Modelo, I found that they only had Modelo's regular pale lager. Andrea pointed out that they did have a house brand dark lager that I ended up purchasing. Luckily, I found that the Trader José brand brought more to the table with a delightful wood smoke nose complementary to the mezcal's aromas that is absent in Negro Modelo itself.
Overall, the style reminded me of the Pop-In -- an old style of drink that began as a shot in a beer (opposed to the classic Boilermaker which is a shot beside a beer). Will Thompson at Drink was the first to introduce it to me after he learned about it at Dead Rabbits in Manhattan, and their version was spirits, sweetener, and whole egg that was lightened by beer. Here, the spirits were mezcal and a hint of funky Jamaican rum and the sweetener was a dark amaro. Once prepared, the Fade to Black greeted the senses with a caramel and smoke-filled nose. Next, a creamy and caramel sip gave way to agave, wood smoke, and chocolate flavors on the swallow. The Smith & Cross' contribution was not especially apparent in the mix, but as Jim Romdall pointed out, rum funk is the seasoning of cocktails to provide depth of flavor, and many cocktails would be flatter without it.

Saturday, March 9, 2019


3/4 oz Akvavit (Aalborg)
3/4 oz Jagermeister
3/4 oz Aperol
3/4 oz Lemon Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

Two Saturdays ago, I spotted on Reddit's cocktails forum a riff on Sam Ross' Paper Plane called the Ragnarök by Reddit user Comrade_Hanson. Ragnarök was derived from an Old Norse word meaning the "fate (or twilight) of the Gods," and it became part of the Viking's mythology that there would be a great battle in the future that would lead to the death of many of their Gods. In parallel, there would be a large number of natural disasters that would lead to a near human extinction followed by a re-population by the two survivors. I was so taken by both the name and the combination of the ingredients especially the akvavit and Jägermeister in place of the Bourbon and Amaro Nonino, respectively, that I gave this one a go.
The Ragnarök shook the nose with a caraway and star anise-spiced aroma. Next, caramel, lemon, and orange swirled together on the sip, and the swallow proffered caraway, rhubarb, and herbal flavors with a tart lemon finish.

Friday, March 8, 2019


1 1/2 oz Pisco (Macchu Pisco)
1/2 oz Swedish Punsch (Kronan)
1/2 oz Dry Vermouth (Noilly Prat)
1/4 oz Cointreau
2 dash Chocolate Bitters (Bittermens)

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with a lemon twist.
Two Fridays ago, my new issue of Imbibe Magazine (March/April 2019) arrived, and I flipped through it after I got home from work. There in a Paul Clarke article was the Wisenheimer by Jermaine Whitehead of Seattle's Deep Dive. The recipe reminded me of the Rocket (and my take on it called the Jet Pack) given the spirit, Swedish punsch, vermouth, and modifying orange liqueur structure, so I was curious to give it a go. Once mixed, the Wisenheimer offered up lemon and earthy chocolate notes from the Pisco and bitters to the nose. Next, a semi-sweet white grape sip shared a hint of caramel richness, and the swallow showcased Pisco, rum, orange, tea, and chocolate flavors.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

adelphi cocktail

1 oz Rye Whiskey (Rittenhouse)
1 oz Cognac (Camus VS)
1 oz Sweet Vermouth (Martini Gran Lusso)
1/4 oz Maraschino Liqueur (Luxardo)
1 scant bsp Absinthe (Kübler)
2 dash Angostura Bitters

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

Two Thursdays ago, I remembered how the Saratoga Cocktail from Jerry Thomas could be converted into the Vieux Carré by the addition of Benedictine and Peychaud's, and I used this to make the Corpse Reviver #1 into the more interesting Corpse Carré. I then pondered how the Saratoga would be with the "Improved" treatment of Maraschino and absinthe. Given that the town of Saratoga Springs was one full of gambling houses, horse races, cocktail bars, spas, and most importantly hotels, I dubbed this one after a hotel there that opened around the time that the Improved style hit the scene. I did consider calling it the Skidmore after the college in that town, but alas, I have already tried one by that name.
The Adelphi Cocktail welcomed the nose with lemon, anise, and cherry aromas. Next, grape and light cherry notes on the sip gave way to rye, Cognac, nutty, anise, and clove flavors on the swallow. While no great surprises here, it did elevate the classic Saratoga Cocktail to new and more intriguing heights.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

john wayne movie translated into french and back into english cocktail

2 oz Rye Whiskey (Old Overholt)
1/2 oz St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur (St. Elder)
1/2 oz Green Tea Syrup (Choice Organic Green Tea, strong steep, 1:1 with sugar)
3/4 oz Lemon Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
Two Wednesdays ago after getting home from my bar shift, I selected the Stir Your Soul book that collected all of the recipes from the 2009 Tales of the Cocktail event. There, I was lured in by Eben Klemm's John Wayne Movie Translated into French and Back into English that he crafted for a spirited dinner that week; one part of the allure was the intriguing 10-11 word name (which is still shorter than the 12 word Van Hagen and 13 word Every Dream) and the other was the elderflower for honey similarity to my Viceroy. In a few minutes, I was able to generate a small batch of green tea syrup, and then I set to work on the build. Once in the glass, the John Wayne partnered up with rye, lemon, and floral aromas that were modified by the green tea notes. Next, lemon and a pear-like element from the elderflower liqueur on the sip duked it out with rye flavors along with floral blending into grassy, slightly tannic tea on the swallow.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

fogerty cocktail

2 oz Rye Whiskey (Sazerac)
1/2 oz Campari
1/4 oz Crème de Cacao (Tempus Fugit)
2 dash Orange Bitters (Regan's)

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with an orange twist.
Two Tuesdays ago, I returned to Imbibe Magazine to make another bookmarked recipe called the Fogerty Cocktail. The recipe was crafted by Ryan Fitzgerald at ABV in San Francisco, and the combination reminded me of an abstraction of the 1794 that featured the Campari-cacao combination that I mentioned two days prior in the Commodity Fetish post. Once prepared, the Fogerty Cocktail launched in with orange and chocolate aromas. Next, a semi-sweet malty sip let go into a rye and bitter orange swallow that finished with chocolate and rye spice notes.

Monday, March 4, 2019

modern maid

3/4 jigger Whisky (1 1/2 oz Famous Grouse Blended Scotch)
2 dash Rum (1/2 oz Smith & Cross)
2 dash Sweet-Sour (1/2 oz Lemon Juice + 1/2 oz Simple Syrup)
1 dash Absinthe (20 drop St. George)
1 dash Orange Bitters (Regan's)

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

Two Mondays ago, I was perusing Boothby's 1934 World Drinks & How to Mix Them when I spotted the Modern Maid. The drink took on legendary status when Ted Haigh wrote about the recipe in his Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails book; however, he published his Swedish punsch variation that he called the Modernista based off the classic Modern Cocktail also known as the Modern Maid. Having enjoyed Ted's Swedish punsch riff, I was curious to try the original.
The Modern Maid cleaned the nose with lemon, anise, and hints of rum funk aromas. Next, lemon and touches of caramel and malt on the sip transitioned into Scotch, rum funk, and anise-herbal flavors on the swallow with an orange finish. Perhaps substituting some of the blended Scotch for a 1/4 oz or so of smoky Islay single malt might have donated some extra elegance here.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

commodity fetish

1 1/2 oz Unsweetened Aged Rum (Appleton Signature)
3/4 oz Amaro Montenegro
3/4 oz Punt e Mes
1/2 oz Crème de Cacao (Tempus Fugit)
2 dash Angostura Bitters

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with an orange peel-cherry flag.

Two Sundays ago, the Baldwin Bar posted the World's Fair on their Instagram as their throwback drink spotlight. The recipe was created by Vannaluck Hongtong back in 2016 as a rather Winter-feeling Manhattan spin, and my fond memories inspired me to riff on it. I changed the rye to aged rum, the walnut liqueur to chocolate, and swapped Fee's Whiskey Barrel Bitters to double the amount of Angostura to add more spice and dryness. I took the crème de cacao route since I felt that it would combine with the Amaro Montenegro to make similar delightful chocolate-orange flavors that cacao does with Campari in drinks such as the Flaquita and Stagecoach Mary.
For a name, I began to search for World's Fair-inspired phrases, and I found Walter Benjamin's 1935 comment about how World's Fairs "are places of pilgrimage to the commodity fetish." Andrea commented that any reference to a Karl Marx philosophy was a good one to imbibe to, so Commodity Fetish was the winner. Once prepared, it donated orange and dark notes to the nose. Next, caramel and grape swirled through the sip, and the swallow greeted the tongue with rum, bitter chocolate, clementine, clove, and allspice flavors. Overall, the Commodity Fetish fulfilled its task of serving as a good dessert-nightcap libation albeit one a bit sweeter than my normal palate.

Saturday, March 2, 2019


1/3 French Vermouth (1 oz Noilly Prat)
1/3 Italian Vermouth (1 oz Cocchi)
1/3 Scotch Whisky (1 oz Famous Grouse)
2 dash Aromatic Bitters (Jerry Thomas Decanter)

Stir with ice, strain into a glass (rocks glass pre-rinsed with 1 scant bsp Laphroaig 10 Year Scotch), and garnish with a cherry (omit) and lemon oil (twist).

I had recently read mention of the Affinity Cocktail and realized that I had never had one before (or at least had certainly never written about it). I probably skipped over this classic multiple times since it came across merely as a Perfect Rob Roy, but the Affinity was mentioned as one of that person's favorite drinks, so I decided to keep it mind. When I spotted it in Hugo Ensslin's 1916 Recipes for Mixed Drinks two Saturdays ago, I figured that it was the perfect time.
The Affinity began with a briny peat and lemon oil bouquet that preceded a grape and malt-driven sip. Next, Scotch, clove, smoke, and allspice flavors rounded out the swallow. With a more flavorful single  or blended malt (especially a cask strength number), I could see this drink combination really shining.

Friday, March 1, 2019

:: mentally preparing for your shift ::

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

One of the most crucial parts of preparing oneself for a bar shift is just showing up, and perhaps that should be amended to showing up healthy, energized, and ready to work. The next is setting up the bar with all of the hauling of ice and juicing of citrus that it entails. But what else besides the basics can one do to improve one’s readiness to do the job even before stepping through the door?

First, spend a bit of time every day before the shift reading.
While reading up on cocktail recipes, garnish tips, and new beers is an amazing way to improve one’s understanding of the craft, it does not help to connect to all of our guests. So think of ways to diversify such as reading up on new movies, plays, and events around town. In fact, I have made great connections with guests by discussing new movies and then soliciting suggestions from them. If I did go see that recommended movie, checking back in at their next visit with a report on their suggestion is an amazing way to connect. This can also be expanded beyond movies to concerts, YouTube clips, and book suggestions as well.

What about with sports fans?
One of my bars had a large TV right beside the bar, so it helped to be up on a lot of sporting knowledge. While I could not dedicate the hours to watch games, I made sure to read the front page of ESPN each morning and figure out where the home teams were playing (and against whom) that day. It also helped to watch clips of the top plays of the previous day which took only two or three minutes; for example, when a guest asked if I saw a game, I could reply that I only caught the highlights and how that catch was amazing.

Investing in hobbies is another way to prepare for the shift.
For example, I have been vegetable gardening in the same plot of land for the last 16 summers. The number of guests that I have connected with about gardening through the years has been grand. Guests will come in for updates, commiseration or celebration about certain crops, and sharing of tips throughout the warmer months. It also helped at some of my bars that I brought in mint and edible flowers for garnish from my garden to tie the conversation in with the bar program.
Actually, going out can be a great way to do research for one’s guests.
I often ask people where they have been drinking or eating lately, and I frequently make suggestions on where to go including where to go after leaving my bar. I feel that it can build trust when one tells their patrons to go elsewhere. Moreover, for my guests who travel a lot for work, I inquire what cities are they going to next, and I set them up with bar recommendations of places that I have heard of or preferably know people at. Even with guests who are considering leaving your establishment, providing ideas for their night’s next destination is great hospitality; messaging your friend to expect them and informing their crew what your guests like to drink are some higher order actions.

Definitely there are some topics that are worth staying on top of but not discussing in depth with guests, such as politics and religion. I have violated that when it is a regular whose views I already know, and the bar is otherwise empty or sparse, so there is less risk of offending anyone. For those guests, it seems to be cathartic to express their anxieties about the state of affairs. But tread with caution here and try to insert one’s own opinion less.

Finally, I like to study my bartender moleskin.
Sometimes it is to enter new recipes in the front section of the book, or remind myself of forgotten recipes. But the magic has always been in the back. When I meet a new guest that seems noteworthy, I will enter their name with a fact or two and perhaps a brief description of their looks. Guests that come in more than that one time get an asterisk for easier referencing. Indeed, it has come in useful when people return months later and I need to research their name or what we spoke of last, and managers have actually requested that I check my records about guest’s identities for their nightly reports or to greet them in the dining room.

Being prepared for the shift to the employer starts with physically being there and being (or pretending to be) in a good mood. But for the bartender, it ought to start well before one’s call time to figure out ways to connect with guests and make their experience outside of the food and drink realm all the more positive and memorable.


3/4 oz Jamaican Rum (1/4 oz each Smith & Cross, Rumfire, and Coruba)
1/2 oz Campari
3/4 oz Strawberry Syrup (*)
3/4 oz Pineapple Juice
6 drop Absinthe (St. George)

Shake with ice, strain into a rocks glass with a large cube, and garnish with a pineapple leaf (omit).
(*) Imbibe recommended a 1 quart scale of each ingredient; they also did a 24 hour incubation of lightly crushed strawberries in the sugar. That seemed like too much and too long -- I wanted the drink now! So I made mine as a small batch using a microwave. I microwaved 3/4 oz sugar with 3-4 small frozen strawberries (3/4 - 1 oz) until it was boiling. I muddled, added 3/4 oz water, microwaved briefly to help dissolve the sugar, and fine strained. Made over an ounce which was perfect for a single drink here.
Two Fridays ago, I was tempted to finally make the Dunderstruck that appeared in Imbibe Magazine. The recipe was crafted by Matthew Roedel of The Public House in Bay City, Michigan, and it seemed like a winner since Campari and strawberries are an elegant duo such as in the Louanalao and Shrugroniz and both work well with pineapple juice. Once prepared, the Dunderstruck appeared as a rum funk nose with red fruit and bitter orange accents. Next, pineapple and strawberry mingled on the sip, and the swallow had funky rum melding into bitter orange flavors and ended with delightful tropical notes. Overall, the 6 drops of absinthe was a bit lost in the mix of strong flavors here but may have added to the brightness and complexity in the end.