Tuesday, April 30, 2019

:: mis en place your career ::

Another great talk at the USBG Northeast Regional Conference held in New Haven two weeks ago was one by Campari America's Anne Louis Marquis entitled "Mis en Place Your Career." She began by explaining that there was more opportunity for bartenders than before whether through managing or working for brands. However, people are not necessarily ready for these jobs and are jumping too fast. And sometimes they are lured in by a job title that sounds great but it does not reflect the realities of the position. Deciding a move and choosing a path are both rather scary, but they can take you in interesting places, so it is not a waste of time to explore the options.

Anne Louise had us write down two top 5 lists: one was the things that bring us joy and the other the things that give us meaning. It is important to be clear about what gives you joy and meaning and to be sure that those do not fall to the wayside in accepting any job. Make an effort to defend and protect these aspects for often jobs can take over your life. Anne Louise supported that by pointing out that her job is 80% travel, and she finds it a challenge to keep her house plants alive. As much as you work for your job, the job should work for you. Try to gauge what you would be getting out of it versus what you would be giving up.

She compared the job search to dating advice: do not go out looking for a very specific criteria, but make a list of what is most important that is not purely physical. Overall, do not look at the containers but the contents. Or in job terms, it is not the title but the job itself that needs to be assessed. For example, some brand ambassador jobs are sales jobs in reality, and a lot of jobs are difficult to figure out what they will be most like. Therefore, try to connect with people in the job that you think you want. After talking to them about the reality, it might not be the job you actually want. For example, a brand ambassador is not all about glamor and travel, but it is a lot of receipt savings, Excel spreadsheets, expense reports, and the like. People are often intimidated about reaching out, but do so and ask questions. Speak to the ones that come to your bars whether they are suppliers, distributors, or brand ambassadors. Other jobs are more difficult to find such as those involving innovation.

At this point Anne Louise turned to Robin Nance who is an ambassador for Beam Suntory. Robin recommended to not take a job because of a title, for you should know that you can often write your own title. Communicate your passion. Anne Louise replied by bring up Instagram and other social media: what does it say that you are passionate about? And what does it share with the world? Create a space where that gets the passion fulfilled and showcased such as a blog or website. Carve out your personal identity and make it easy for people to find you; people cannot share or talk about you if they cannot find you. Indeed, it is key to do the work before you have the job. Do not work for free, but do things out of passion that set you up to transfer over to a paying job. Event planning at bars, for example, could prepare you for doing it for a brand as well as get brands to notice you.

"Your network is your currency" was a poignant quote. This network is your value, and it travels with you from job to job.

Next, participate. The world is run by people who show up. Seek advancement through competitions, going on trips, attending events, and running programs. Winning the competition is not as important as showing that you got up and tried. Advancement should also be through continuing your education; you do not need a college degree to fill in your gaps. In terms of mentors, find people who you have a real relationship with. Think about building a board of advisors: 5 to 10 people who are not necessarily very close to you but certainly care about you.

There are definitely a lot of jobs out there. But consider things like what do you want your day to look like, where do you want to wake up, who do you want to see in the day, and how do you want them to see you. Moreover, think about your retirement: what are 3 things you want people to say about you? What award might you get? Feel free to fantasize and to alter these concepts over time.

Finally, you do not need to stop bartending. Stay bartending as long as you can -- brand ambassadors and sales rep need people like you to reach out to. There are other ways of branching out while still being a bartender including writing books, giving talks, staying curious, and sharing. In addition, in any job, you cannot teach a culture fit for the personalities might not jive. And you cannot teach someone to be a good coworker that is great to be around or to have a passion.

Monday, April 29, 2019

cherry blossom

2 oz Roku Gin
1/2 oz Maraschino Liqueur
1/2 oz Honey Syrup (1:1)
1/2 oz Lemon Juice

Shake with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with a lemon twist.
Note: this drink was a touch on the sweet side. Perhaps upping the lemon to 3/4 oz or reducing the Maraschino to 1/4 oz would help (or Maraschino and honey syrup to 3/8 oz each).

During the USBG Northeast Regional Conference, there were two events on Monday night. One was the Patron karaoke event that I briefly attended before the other -- a Beam-Suntory drink night at the Ordinary -- won out. On the menu were three cocktails, and I selected the Roku Cherry Blossom that was very similar to Eastern Standard's Cherry Blossom. I figured that it was based off of a classic, but all of the gin and Maraschino recipes link back to my post about the one that Eastern Standard served for their red, white, and blue drink night celebrating the Fourth of July in February (a post-Valentine's Day industry night). Here, I surmised that the connection was that this Japanese gin contains Sakura cherry blossoms and leaves in the botanical mix, and perhaps these two recipes were independently created (especially since I could not find a pre-2010 recipe to suggest a classic).
This Cherry Blossom provided a lemon, floral, and nutty cherry bouquet to the nose. Next, a semi-sweet lemon sip led into gin, nutty, and floral flavors on the swallow. Overall, the balance was a bit sweet for me, and I offer suggestions on how to fix that up in the instruction's note.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

:: life gives you limes ::

From April 14th to the 17th, I attended the USBG Northeast Regional Conference held in New Haven. One of the talks that I rather enjoyed and felt that I could convey well as a summary was "Life Gives You Limes" by Donny Clutterbuck who is an officer of the Rochester chapter as well as a bartender at The Cure in that city and a founder of the Pour Cost app.

The four citrus fruits that Donny covered were the major ones at the bar: lemon, lime, orange, and grapefruit. The classics that we make with them respectively are: the Whiskey Sour, Daiquiri, Screwdriver, and Blinker. Donny wondered if there was a particular rule to how these fruit juices were being utilized. As a starting point, he looked at acid to sugar balances. At one part acid to 10 parts of sugar by weight, the average person cannot perceive one more than the other. He defined brix as percent sugar by weight such that a 13 brix solution is 13% sugar or 13 grams sugar to 87 grams water. Therefore, a balanced acid-sugar mix would look like 1 gram citric acid, 10 grams sugar, and 89 grams water.

In cocktails, orange juice was represented by the Screwdriver which is booze + juice. Most orange juice is 1:8 or 1.5% acid (citric + ascorbic) to 12 brix sugar content. This is rather close to 1:10 so it comes across as close to balanced. Grapefruit was showcased by the Blinker which is booze + sugar + juice. The structure is guided by the fact that grapefruit juice is a 1:5 or 2% acid to 10 brix. This extra acid over the balance point is why grapefruit goes really well with greasy food.

The Whiskey Sour to represent lemon is structured as booze + sugar + juice. Lemon is 1:1.8 on average with 5% acid to 9 brix. Equal parts of lemon juice and simple syrup balance the mix to make the drink work. The Daiquiri for demonstrating lime juice was rather similar with booze + sugar + juice. Lime weighs in at 1:1.7 with 6% acid to 10 brix. With the Daiquiri, it needs 6% acid and 60 brix to balance but lime juice alone rings in 50 brix shy at 10 brix; luckily, 1:1 simple syrup is 50 brix so combining the two in equal parts adds up to the perfect balance of 1:10. This works best when there is no extra acid or sugar in the rum itself.

Other spirits can work well swapped into the place, but not all combinations taste great. For example, white spirits seem to favor lime while darker spirits shine more with lemon. Donny explained this by acids and their effects on the palate. Both lemon and lime have citric acid which hits the senses early and fades; lime contains malic and other other acids that are sensed later. Similarly, while both white and dark spirits have alcohol which hit the senses early and fade, aged spirits have polyphenols from the barrel that are sensed later. Therefore, malic acid and polyphenol perception clash. Thus, a Whiskey Sour with citric and polyphenols ends up a whiskey drink, but a Daiquiri with alcohol and malic acid is a lime drink by what flavors are lingering. Donny added the saying "Silver and lime works every time; lemon and brown, send it on down!"

The point of this all is not geek out about citrus but to make people happy and to do this consistently so every time they come in, their drink is the same. This requires methodical recipe execution. Donny recommended taller, thinner jiggers since the difference in height above or below the lines (assuming internal markings or when filling to the top) is less than when it is wide (compare a tall Japanese to a wide Leopold jigger, for example, especially at the smaller measures). The next aspect was consistent ingredients; since we do not make the booze, we ought to focus on the juice. Donny offered up a lot of his time course data. One of his least favorite was orange juice which fell apart rather quickly. With this, he declared "Craft isn't craft if the store-bought is better!" Grapefruit was the least volatile (it tends to ferment before it oxidizes), whereas lemon and lime both got weird around day 4 (but best around 3 hours). Vacuum sealing or utilizing a Vacu-vin can help delay the process. And as a bonus pointer, he recommended Cafiza espresso cleaner tablets to get the stuck on citrus reside off the inside of the bottles.

For sustainability, lemon and lime juice can be clarified after 2.5 days. Then use it to make a 1:1 syrup; this cordial is sugar stabilized and can be utilized to make stirred Sours. And for cold press purchased juices, they are often brix adjusted and come across differently from freshly pressed ones in house recipes, so some ratio tweaking is needed. Overall, you can get 3-4 days out of a bottle before it goes off. Regardless of the process chosen for ingredients, it is crucial to make everyone's favorite drink the same way every time and good jigger and juicing practices play a major role.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

beach cruiser

1 oz Blanco Tequila (Cimarron)
1 oz Mezcal (Fidencio)
3/4 oz Lime Juice
3/4 oz Grenadine
2 dash Orange Bitters (Regan's)
2 dash Absinthe (1 bsp Kübler)

Whip shake, pour into a Hurricane glass (Tiki mug), fill with crushed ice, and garnish with an orange slice (orange twist), cherry, and paper umbrella.

On Saturday night two weeks prior, I had spotted a tropical drink in the Bartender at Large Instagram feed for the Beach Cruiser. The recipe was created by Erick Castro for the opening menu at Polite Provisions in San Diego, and the combination reminded me of a smoky variation of the Mexican Firing Squad from Charles H. Baker, Jr.'s travels. The name also reminded me of the Beach Cruiser from the Citizen Public House which that was a tropical drink tribute to Fernet Branca for all of the bikes that they had given away to bartenders.
This Beach Cruiser released orange oil over hints of anise and smoke to the nose. Next, lime and berry notes on the sip pedaled into smoky agave, pomegranate, and anise flavors on the swallow.

Friday, April 26, 2019


3/4 oz Reposado Tequila (Cimarron)
3/4 oz Cocchi Americano
3/4 oz Lustau East India Solera Sherry
3/4 oz Perucchi Bianco Vermouth (Dolin Blanc)

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with a lemon twist.
After dinner two Friday nights ago, I turned to my Food & Wine: Cocktails library and uncovered the Andalusion in the 2013 volume. This equal parter was crafted by Julian Cox for Playa in Hollywood; there, he made three versions of this drink: a fino one as an aperitif, an Amontillado one for general drinking, and a cream sherry one for dessert. Given how I had just opened a bottle of Lustau's East India Sherry, I went with that one. Once prepared, the Andalusion met the nose with lemon, agave, and grape aromas. Next, a semi-sweet raisiny grape sip gave way to tequila, floral, peach, and nutty flavors on the swallow.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

pennington daiquiri

1 oz Rhum Agricole Blanc (Rhum Clement)
3/4 oz Brandy (Camus VS Cognac)
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Suze Gentian Liqueur
1/2 oz 3:1 Honey Syrup (3/4 oz 1:1)
1/4 oz Simple Syrup

Shake with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with a lime wedge (omit).

Two Thursdays ago, I decided to make a recipe that I had spotted on Imbibe Magazine's feed called the Pennington Daiquiri. The drink was created by Tyson Buhler at New York City's Lost Hours, and the rum and brandy combination reminded me of the Boukman Daiquiri and the Wildflower. Here, the sweetener was a combination of gentian liqueur and honey which has prospered in cocktails like the Smartest Man Alive and Radio Days.
In the glass, the Pennington Daiquiri proffered bright aromas from the floral honey and grassy rhum that were countered by lower notes from the earthy gentian liqueur on the nose. Next, lemon and honey danced on the sip, and the swallow conjured grassy rum, Cognac's richness, floral, and lightly bitter root flavors on the swallow.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

rhum with a vieux

1 oz Aged Martinique Rhum (JM Rhum Agricole Gold)
1 oz Appleton V/X Rum (Appleton Signature)
3/4 oz Lustau East India Solera Sherry
1/4 oz Benedictine
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail glass or serve down on the rocks in an old fashioned glass (up in a cocktail coupe), and garnish with a lemon twist.
Two Wednesdays ago, I sought out another recipe to utilize the freshly open bottle of Lustau's East India Sherry, and I discovered the Rhum with a Vieux on the BarNotes app. The recipe was crafted by New York City bartender Rafa Garcia Febles as his two r(h)um riff on the Vieux Carre. Once prepared, the Rhum with a Vieux greeted the senses with lemon, caramel, and grassy aromas. Next, grape and caramel mingled on the sip, and the swallow showcased the grassy funky and rich rums along with slightly nutty sherry, herbal, and allspice flavors.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

morango tango

2 oz Cachaça preferably Amburana wood-aged (Seleta Gold)
1/2 oz Simple Syrup
1 large Strawberry
2 dash Peychaud's Bitters
2 dash Chocolate Bitters (Bittermens Mole)

Muddle the strawberry in the simple syrup, add the rest of the ingredients, and stir with ice. Double strain into a glass pre-rinsed with absinthe or Herbsaint (Herbsaint) and garnish with lemon oil from a twist.

Two Tuesdays ago, I was still thinking about how tasty the strawberry-Peychaud's Bitters aspect of the Christopher Tracy's Parade was. The Peychaud's part got me thinking about the Sazerac, and I recalled the last Sazerac that I made for a guest at Nahita: one made with Amburana wood-aged Avua Cachaça. I discovered the wonder of Amburana Cachaça Sazerac late one night using my bottle of Seleta Gold at home on a whim that turned out to be an amazing flavor combination between the wood and the spices from the bitters and the absinthe. Strawberries and Brazil do have a strong connection as that berry grows quite well there; besides numerous strawberry festivals in Brazil, the fruit makes it way into their classic cachaça drink the Batida. Therefore, I wondered how it would fare in the Sazerac especially given the success of other strawberry-absinthe drinks like the Cantante Para Mi Vida and the Strawberry's Revival.
For a name, I discovered that the Portuguese for strawberry was morango, and thus, the Morango Tango came about. Once prepared, the bouquet greeted the nose with lemon, anise, cachaça's funk, and berry aromas. Next, the berry notes continued into the sip, and the swallow offered a complex array of grassy funk, strawberry, chocolate, and anise flavors. A strawberry syrup would make for an easier build here, but the á la minute-ness of it all makes it easier to replicate on a whim.

Monday, April 22, 2019

pukel punch

1 1/2 oz Aged Virgin Island Rum (Don Q Añejo)
1/2 oz Aged Jamaican Rum (Smith & Cross)
1/2 oz Zwack or other Krauter Liqueur (Jagermeister)
1/2 oz Passion Fruit Syrup
1/2 oz Lime Juice (3/4 oz)
1 dash Bitters (Angostura)
8 drop Herbsaint

Flash blend with 6 oz crushed ice and pour into a Tiki mug (shake with 1 ice cube, strain, and fill with crushed ice). Garnish with a lime twist.

Two Mondays ago, I spotted an intriguing tropical drink on Craig Herman's (a/k/a Colonel Tiki) Instagram feed called the Púkel Punch. This was his Tiki-Tolkien mashup as a lime and dark herbal liqueur take on the Hurricane. Instead of trying to do justice in summing up the J.R.R. Tolkien connection, I will just link to Colonel Tiki's blog post about it. When I asked Craig if Jagermeister would be a decent substitute for Zwack, he replied that it would be, but I should consider upping the lime juice to balance the extra sweetness.
The Púkel Punch donated a lime and star anise aroma to the nose. Next, lime and caramel filled the sip, and the swallow sang out with funky rum, passion fruit, ginger, and clove flavors.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

christopher tracy's parade

2 oz London Dry Gin (Tanqueray)
1 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Orgeat
1/2 oz Honey Syrup (1:1)
2 oz Cold Water
2 dash Peychaud's Bitters
1 large (or 2 medium) Strawberry

Muddle the strawberry in the orgeat and honey syrup, add the rest of the ingredients, shake with ice, and double strain into a Collins glass. Fill with ice and garnish with a lemon wheel.
For a call for Prince (the musician) drinks, I was inspired by the song Christopher Tracy's Parade. Christopher Tracy was Prince's character in the 1986 movie Under the Cherry Moon, and the song stood out to me as rather quirky as I would listen to the movie's soundtrack on cassette back in the day. In the lyrics below, the song mentions strawberry lemonade, but in a surreal way: as what God would deliver from the Heavens to stop the parade.
Everyone come behold Christopher Tracy's Parade
The show will proceed, unless it should rain strawberry lemonade
Hopefully, that will not occur, the man above has been paid
Give what you can, all you can stand, and all of your life will be made
I thought about how I make à la minute lemonade at work, and the recipe came through from there with Bar Tonique's Blanche DuBois in mind for the orgeat. Overall, the combination was rather ambrosial and extremely crushable. On the nose, Christopher Tracy's Parade marched up to the nose with a strawberry and lemon bouquet. Next, the berry and lemon flavors kept in step throughout the step, and the swallow cranked up the music with gin, nutty, and honey flavors with an anise finish. Indeed, the Peychaud's Bitters anise-cherry notes complemented the muddled strawberry in the drink, and the honey and orgeat proved to be more interesting than basic lemonade's simple syrup.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

south of sunset

1 1/2 oz Plymouth Gin (Tanqueray)
3/4 oz Aperol
3/4 oz Lustau East India Solera Sherry

Stir with ice, strain into a rocks glass with ice, and garnish with a lemon twist.
Two Saturdays ago, I wandered into my Food & Wine: Cocktails collection and extracted the 2016 edition. There, I spotted Los Angeles bartender Karen Grill's Negroni variation called the South of Sunset. What drew me to the combination was how it was reminiscent of Daniel Eun's Dewey D but with gin instead of whiskey and aromatic bitters. In the glass, the South of Sunset cast off lemon and orange aromas. Next, the sherry donated a gorgeous grape note that went along with a fruity one from the Aperol on the sip, and the swallow followed up with gin joined by bitter orange blending into grape on the swallow.

Friday, April 19, 2019


1 oz Blended Scotch (Cutty Sark Prohibition)
1/2 oz Peated Scotch (Caol Ila 12 Year)
1/2 oz Campari
1/2 oz Sweet Vermouth (Martini Gran Lusso)
1/2 oz Fino Sherry (Lustau)

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with an orange twist.
Two Fridays ago, I ventured into Amanda Schuster's New York Cocktails and spotted Sarah Morrissey's Greyfriar that she created at the now defunct Pig Bleeker. The combination reminded me of a Rosita with Scotch and Fino sherry in place of the classic's tequila and dry vermouth, so I was curious to see how it would work out. In the glass, the Greyfriar's garnish donated orange oil over the peat smoke and grape aromas. Next, grape and the Scotches' malt on the sip got chased by smoky Scotch, briny, and bitter orange flavors.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

loensky cocktail

2 oz Chivas Regal 12 Year Blended Scotch (Cutty Sark Prohibition)
3/4 oz Noilly Prat Dry Vermouth
1/4 oz Combier Kummel (Helbing)
1 dash Regan's Orange Bitters

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

After dinner two Thursdays ago, I reached for Frank Caiafa's The Waldorf Astoria Bar Book that was their house adaptation of the Loensky from the 1930s Waldorf Astoria book. Frank described the Loensky as a Poussé-cafe of one part Scotch floated on top of two parts kümmel liqueur although the original book lacks specific directions. Here, things were made into a Bobby Burns riff by pairing dry vermouth with a touch of kümmel akin to what I did with my tequila-based El Mariachi Club.
The Loensky Cocktail proffered a lemon and apricot nose that preceded a malt and white wine sip. Next, the Scotch's orchard fruit and hint of smoke flavors joined the liqueur's caraway and cumin notes on the swallow.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019


3/4 oz Rye Whiskey (Rittenhouse)
3/4 oz Aged Rum (El Dorado 5 Year)
1/2 oz Swedish Punsch (Kronan)
1/2 oz Crème de Cacao (Tempus Fugit)
1/2 oz Lemon Juice (*)
2 dash Angostura Bitters

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
(*) 3/4 oz will yield for a drier drink.

When I got home from volunteering at the NERAX cask beer festival two Wednesdays ago, I was in the mood for a drink. The beer I had imbibed was rushing me towards bed, so instead of searching for a drink, I created one on the fly. I started with the split rye-rum base of the 1919 Cocktail and took it in a 20th Century direction (or the 18th and 19th Century sugar cane and whiskey variations, respectively). Instead of an aromatized wine in the 20th Century family, I opted for Swedish punsch which has subbed in for Lillet in the Corpse Reviver #2 in a few 1940s recipe books.
For a name, I dubbed this after the oldest stone building in Massachusetts, the Powderhouse, which is about a mile from my house. In the glass, the Powderhouse shared a rum and chocolate bouquet to the nose. Next, lemon, malt, and roast notes on the sip gave way to rye, rum, tea tannin, and chocolate flavors on the swallow.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

singapore prospers

1 oz Genever (Bols)
1/2 oz Old Tom Gin (Tanqueray Malacca)
1 oz Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth (Martini Gran Lusso)
1/2 oz Dry Curaçao (Pierre Ferrand)
3 dash Scrappy's Lime Bitters
1 dash Bittermens Burlesque Bitters

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

Two Tuesdays ago, I peered into Sother Teague's I'm Just Here for the Drinks book and spotted his Singapore Prospers recipe. The drink was his take of some decade's version of the Singapore Sling but as a stirred version akin to Julie Reiner's Stirred Sling to match the juice-free aesthetic of his bar Amor y Amargo. The recipe eschewed the cherry liqueur and Benedictine found in many Singapore Sling recipes in favor of sweet vermouth and orange liqueur (with supplemental flavors donated by the Genever as well), and it utilized lime bitters in place of lime juice. Since many of the more modern Singapore Slings call for pineapple juice, I opted for a pineapple-shaped glass as a symbolic ingredient here.
The Singapore Prospers greeted the nose with an orange oil bouquet. Next, Genever's malt mingled with the vermouth's grape on the sip and continued on into the swallow where it paired with bitter herbal flavors and an orange and lime finish.

Monday, April 15, 2019

the doubting duck

1 1/2 oz Manzanilla Sherry (Lustau Fino)
1 oz Dry Vermouth (Noilly Prat)
1/2 oz Yellow Chartreuse
1 dash Celery Bitters (housemade)
1 dash Orange Bitters (Regan's)

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with a lemon peel-olive pick (lemon twist floated).
Two Mondays ago, I was in the mood for something on the lighter side, and I began flipping through my Food & Wine: Cocktails collection when I spotted the Doubting Duck in the 2016 edition. The recipe was crafted by Washington, DC bartender Derek Brown, and this aperitif had a Chrsanthemum-like feel to it; perhaps it could be viewed as a Puritan Cocktail with sherry subbing in for the gin. Once stirred and strained, the Doubting Duck swam to the nose with a celery, lemon, and herbal bouquet. Next, crisp white wine on the sip was rounded by Yellow Chartreuse's honey notes, and the swallow conjured up savory wine flavors with a briny celery finish.

Sunday, April 14, 2019


1/2 Rye Whiskey (1 1/2 oz Old Overholt)
1/4 Lemon Juice (1/2 oz)
1/4 French Vermouth (1 oz Dolin Blanc)
1 dash Picon Bitters (1/4 oz Torani Amer)
1 dash Jamaican Rum (1/4 oz Wray & Nephew)

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass; I added a lemon twist.
After the Old Rogue, I reached for Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars: 1903-1933 for something to round out the evening. There, I spotted an interesting Rattlesnake recipe that varied considerably from the better known Rattlesnake Cocktail from the Savoy Cocktail Book. To balance this one, I interpreted the French vermouth as the sweeter blanc one and increased the volume to balance the lemon juice in the mix. Once prepared, this Rattlesnake sprung out with lemon and rye aromas. Next, lemon and white wine showed their fangs on the sip, and the swallow recoiled with rye, bitter orange, and herbal flavors with an orange, woody, and rum funk finish.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

old rogue

250 mL Pot Still Jamaican Rum (2 oz Appleton Signature + 1/2 oz Smith & Cross)
100 mL Cognac (1 oz Camus VS)
50 mL Batavia Arrack (1/2 oz von Oosten)
50 mL Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao (1/2 oz)
125 mL Green Tea Syrup (1 1/4 oz)
50 mL Pineapple Juice (1/2 oz)
100 mL Lemon Juice (1 oz)

Build in a punch bowl, add ice, stir, and garnish with citrus wheels and edible flowers (omit flowers). My recipe was scaled down a little over three fold (each 25 mL became 1/4 oz).
Sunday two weeks ago, I ventured back to Shannon Mustipher's new Tiki: Modern Tropical Cocktails for another of her recipes. The one that called out was a classic style punch called the Old Rogue which was convenient since I already had left over green tea syrup in the refrigerator from another drink project. Once assembled, the Old Rogue proffered Cognac, funk from the Batavia Arrack and Jamaican rum, and citrus notes from the lemon and curaçao. Next, lemon and pineapple mingled on the sip, and the swallow displayed rum, funk, green tea, and orange flavors to make for a great and refreshing punch.

Friday, April 12, 2019

national treasure

3/4 oz Wild Turkey Rye Whiskey (Rittenhouse Bonded)
1/2 oz Laird's Bonded Apple Brandy
1/2 oz Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth (Martini Gran Lusso)
1/2 oz Campari
1/4 oz Cynar

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

After work two Fridays ago, I turned to Maggie Hoffman's Batch Cocktails for a nightcap. There, I latched on to Brian Kane's National Treasure that he crafted at Abe Fisher in Philadelphia. With a Boulevardier style with Campari and Cynar, it was akin to the Uncle Negroni and Left Hand of Darkness save for those two's Bourbon being split with into rye and apple brandy here. After scaling down the recipe to a single drink made to order, I was set to give this one a go.
In the glass, the National Treasure showed its value with lemon and apple aromas on the nose. Next, grape and a hint of caramel on the sip paid its way to rye, apple, and bitter orange flavors leading into funky herbal ones from the Cynar on the swallow.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

i'm ron burgundy?

1 1/2 oz Blended Scotch (Cutty Sark Prohibition)
1/2 oz Averna
1/2 oz Giffard Banane du Bresil
2 dash Chocolate Bitters (Bittermens Mole)

Stir with ice, strain into an old fashioned glass with ice, and garnish with an orange twist.
Two Thursdays ago, I continued on with another interesting recipe that I had spotted that week in my Instagram feed called the I'm Ron Burgundy? The drink was invented by Houston home bartender Connor Stehr (@shake_and_stehr), and the combination reminded me of the Bela Vista with Scotch and Averna instead of rye and Ramazzotti. In the glass, the I'm Ron Burgundy? made headlines with orange, chocolate, caramel, and banana aromas. Next, the caramel from the Averna continued on into the sip, and it was chased by Scotch, chocolate, bitter herbal, and banana flavors on the swallow to yield an elegant nightcap.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

armed and dangerous

3/4 oz Peaty Scotch (1/2 oz Famous Grouse + 1/4 oz Laphroaig 10 Year)
3/4 oz Strega
3/4 oz Aperol
3/4 oz Lemon Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

Two Wednesdays ago, I decided to make a riff of Joaquin Simo's Naked and Famous that I had spotted on Instagram. The drink was called the Armed and Dangerous, and it was crafted by Dutch cocktail enthusiast Ramon Kok (@koktailmeister) currently living in Brisbane. Here, the original's mezcal was swapped for smoky Scotch and the lime for lemon; moreover, instead of Yellow Chartreuse, Ramon opted for Strega which has proven to be similar in feel (albeit more spice driven) in drinks like The Eulogy.
The Armed and Dangerous burst in with a peat, star anise, and orange bouquet to the nose. Next, lemon and orange notes on the sip shot into smoky Scotch, bitter orange, and anise spice on the swallow. Andrea enjoyed this one and commented that it was "like a Scotch SweetTart."

Tuesday, April 9, 2019


2 oz Compass Box Asyla Blended Whisky (Cutty Sark Prohibition)
1 oz Lustau Manzanilla Sherry (Lustau Fino)
1/2 oz Benedictine
2 dash Orange Bitters (Regan's)

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with a lemon twist.
Two Tuesdays ago, I returned home from work and selected the PDT Cocktail Book as my nightcap inspiration. There, I spotted the Woolworth that seemed like it would make good use of my open bottle of Fino sherry. The recipe was crafted by John Deragon circa 2007 and was named after the Woolworth Building that at one time was the tallest building in Manhattan. Once prepared, the Woolworth cocktail rose to the nostrils with lemon, briny, and herbal aromas. Next, honey and white wine notes swirled on the sip, and the swallow gave forth apricot, smoke, and herbal flavors with a crisp wine and chocolate finish.

Monday, April 8, 2019

martini robbins

1 1/4 oz Mister Katz's Rock & Rye (Hochstadter's Slow & Low)
1 oz Dorothy Parker Gin (Tanqueray)
1 oz Martini & Rossi Sweet Vermouth (Martini Gran Lusso)

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

After the Drowned God, I sought out to find a use for my new bottle purchase of Hochstadter's Rock & Rye. The first recipe to catch my eye was Nate Dumas' Martini Robbins from Carey Jones' Brooklyn Bartender book; I met Nate recently as he was one of the people running my Wild Turkey: Behind the Barrel adventure last September. Here, the combination reminded me of a Martinez crossed with a Manhattan, although Rock & Rye is almost an Old Fashioned in itself. Rye and gin are not two spirits that appear in the same glass often, but I have had a few good examples like the Sharpie Mustache and the Double Standard and even crafted one myself named the Call of the Wild.
I did ponder whether the name was an alteration of Martin Robbins who was one of most successful country and western singers with a four-decade long career. Once prepared though, I considered more the orange and bitter herbal nose on the drink. Next, a sweet grape sip played into rye and bitter herbal flavors on the swallow with honey, grapefruit, orange, and cinnamon notes on the finish.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

the drowned god

1 1/2 oz Banks 5 Island Rum (3/4 oz Uruapan Charanda Blanco + 3/4 oz Angostura White Oak)
1 oz Fino Sherry (Lustau)
1/2 oz Crème de Cacao (Bols White)
1 pinch Salt

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail coupe.
Monday two weeks ago, I began the cocktail hour with a drink that I had spotted on the BarNotes app called the Drowned God. The recipe was created by Tim Hagney of Maven in San Francisco as a Game of Thrones reference for the Blackbird Bar's secret menu. Overall, the idea reminded me of a little of the citrus-free Death & Sundries. In the glass, the Drowned God conjured up rum funk and briny sherry aromas. Next, a semi-sweet white grape sip preceded funky rum, chocolate, and crisp white wine flavors on the swallow with lingering rum intrigue on the finish.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

:: always a barback ::

Originally published on the USBG national site.

Recently, a bartender who I have known for years from an establishment across town was sitting at our bar, and he asked me if I was a bartender apprentice. He explained that he saw me waiting on tables in the lounge and that I did not have my own dedicated well to work out of, and that his bar has similar apprentices. Then he pointed out the fact that I was refilling the service bartender’s ginger beer iSi dispenser with ginger syrup and water just like an apprentice. I was quite taken aback by the comment, but I explained that I did not care where I worked whether it was the service bar or point, and tonight I opted to be the floater and took the lounge tables as well as bar guests. I also pointed out that the most important thing at the bar is that the service bartender making drinks for our large restaurant is assisted in any way possible, and this was rather doable at the moment for my tables did not need anything right now. While I could have left the refill job for our barback to do, my taking a spare moment to remake the ginger beer freed up both the service bartender and the barback to attend to other duties. Oddly, I did not inform him that the lounge tables were spending several times more per seat than the actual bar guests since some of these groups were dining in the lounge because the restaurant’s tables were full at that hour, so I was financially doing more to add to the team than the other bartenders.
I once heard that an employee is only as useful as the number of jobs that they can do and will do. While a bartender who can fill in for the sommelier is a great thing, I have been more impressed when a restaurant owner or the head chef hops into the dish pit to keep the night going. Similarly, a general manager who can change a keg or will prepare a quart of lime juice in a pinch has shown their value to the team an order of magnitude more than someone who sticks to the letter of what is their job and not much more. In my mind, there ought not be any job below oneself; true, there are plenty of times that those tasks should be left for team members better suited for the function so other higher order functions can be attended to by those more qualified. But when one part of the team is getting weighed upon, pitching in if you can is imperative even if the need is not dire. I recalled one bar that I staged (did an interview shift) at where the bartenders did not clean their own shaking tins even though they were not busy doing other responsibilities (or they could have multitasked while chatting with guests). The barback was the busiest of the crew scurrying back and forth cleaning up after the bartenders; I felt such pity for that barback, and I found that so offensive that I crossed the bar off as an option during my job search.

My co-worker Adam declared that many of the younger bartenders these days are slow to do the various chores like washing glassware and restocking. Adam explained colorfully, “The non-sexy things won’t get you laid” which is perhaps why they opt out of it for the more glamorous aspects like serving the guests and making drinks. Laziness or lack of motivation is definitely also a factor, but that lacks the pizzazz and impact of Adam’s declaration. Running out of clean coupes, having a large pile of dirty glassware, or seeing a dirty bar top are the non-sexy things that will most certainly besmirch a night though. Leaving it for the overworked barback will also impede other of their functions from getting done, and those will often add up to a later closing time.
Barbacks in the past have humorously declared me (as a bartender) the best barback in the place. I make it a point to help them with the task or to take it over if I have the time. I think of it as lightening their burden so that they will be more mobile to make the bar run smoothly. Moreover, it gains their respect such that when I ask for any bit of help, they are eager to return the favor for they know that I generally only ask out of essential need. And assistance does not just stop there. I frequently will pass by the service bartender and help with either pouring beers or prepping the intricate garnishes for the cocktails to save them time and help them get through the service tickets. For other bartenders, greeting their guests, doing bar top maintenance, washing their tins, and the like can make for a happier room and a bigger tip pool at the end. There is always something to do. And in that, it fosters teamwork that makes others more likely to help you and the rest of the bar staff in general.

In the end, we should be looking out not just for the guests’ wellbeing but for the whole bar team’s benefit as well. These two are not separate entities but intricately related aspects that go into generating a successful evening. Hospitality is not something that is only transferred over the bar top but begins and co-exists on the same side of the bar as yourself. Think about your coworkers too before touting that you are a hospitalitarian – keeping a happy, positive, and motivated team ought to be everyone’s responsibility. Happy teams make happy guests. And humility is the guiding light.

Friday, April 5, 2019

improved sherry cocktail

2 1/2 oz Fino Sherry (Lustau)
1/2 oz Amontillado Sherry (Lustau)
1/4 oz Simple Syrup (1:1)
3/4 tsp Maraschino Liqueur (1/8 oz Luxardo)
1/8 tsp Absinthe (20 drop St. George)
1 dash Orange Bitters (Regan's)
2 dash Angostura Bitters
2 drop 1:10 Salt Solution (1 small pinch salt)

Stir with ice, strain into a sherry glass, and garnish with a lemon twist.
Two Fridays ago, I was in the mood for something on the lighter side when I got home to round out my work evening. When my mind turned to sherry, I remembered having bookmarked the Improved Sherry Cocktail. That recipe was created by Christy Pope and Chad Solomon at Dallas' Midnight Rambler and was later published in December 2014 in Imbibe Magazine. Here, a two sherry Old Fashioned was Improved 1876 style with Maraschino and absinthe. Once prepared, the Improved Sherry Cocktail welcomed the nose with a lemon aroma over nutty notes from the Amontillado sherry and Maraschino liqueur. Next, a semi-dry grape sip gave way to more grape flavors with nuttiness from the Amontillado and Maraschino on the swallow with a cherry and anise swallow. Overall, the proportions were a bit lighter on the absinthe that I usually prefer, but it was indeed a delightful tipple to end my evening.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

muertito vivo

1 1/2 oz Flor de Caña 7 Year Rum (Diplomatico Añejo)
1/2 oz Hamilton's 151 Proof Demerara Rum (Lemon Hart 151)
3/4 oz Jagermeister
3/4 oz Don's Mix (BG Reynolds) (*)
3/4 oz Lime Juice

Shake with ice, strain into a skull mug or double old fashioned glass (shell mug), and fill with pebble ice (crushed ice). Garnish with a cinnamon stick and an edible flower (cinnamon stick and a pineapple leaf).
(*) 1/2 oz grapefruit juice + 1/4 oz cinnamon syrup.
Two Thursdays ago, my copy of Shannon Mustipher's Tiki: Modern Tropical Cocktails arrived, and I quickly flipped through the pages to find something to make after my work shift. When I spotted Shannon's Zombie riff called the Muertito Vivo, I was intrigued. The use of Jagermeister for its Tiki-appropriate spices was one of the things that drew me in -- especially after trying Sother Teague's Rough Seas and tinkering with it myself in the Lost U-Boat. Once prepared, the Muertito Vivo brought the senses back to life with cinnamon and star anise aromas. Next, lime, grapefruit, and caramel on the sip lurched into rum, cinnamon, chocolate, ginger, and anise flavors on the swallow.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

firenze fix

3/4 oz Gin (Tanqueray)
3/4 oz Sweet Vermouth (Martini Gran Lusso)
3/4 oz Campari
3/4 oz Pineapple Syrup
1/2 oz Lemon Juice

Shake with ice, strain into a double old fashioned glass, fill with crushed ice, and decorate with berries in season (2 pineapple leaves).
After making the pineapple syrup that I utilized in the Handsome Bob the night before, I thought about one of the more common classic uses -- the sweetener in Fixes. Fixes are similar to Daisies save for the sweetener which was originally curaçao and later grenadine or raspberry in the Daisy, and Fixes with their pineapple syrup were generally ornately garnished on top of the shaved ice. One of the most successful Fixes that I created was in collaboration with Katie Emmerson for our Women of the Wild West industry night 6 years ago. Katie had created a pineapple syrup but was running out of time in crafting a recipe; I suggested a choose-your-own amaro Fix, and we named it after the promiscuous Kitty Leroy. Here, I used that skeleton and subbed in a small Negroni in the place of the amaro. For a name, I dubbed it the Firenze Fix after the city where the Negroni Cocktail allegedly was crafted for Count Camillo in 1919. Once built, the Firenze Fix donated a bitter orange and pineapple bouquet to the nose. Next, lemon and grape notes on the sip led into gin and bitter orange on the swallow with a pleasing pineapple finish.

yunga punch

1 oz Singani 63 Brandy
1 oz Fidencio Mezcal
1 oz Grapefruit Juice
3/4 oz Lime Juice
1/2 Cinnamon Syrup
1/4 oz Giffard Pamplemousse Liqueur
3 drop Salt Tincture

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail coupe.

After taking an early cut at work due to opening the restaurant for lunch, I headed over to Backbar for a drink. From their new menu formatted as a world map, I asked bartender Joseph Gabriel Habib for the Yunga Punch representing Bolivia; the drink's subtitle was "A landlocked tiki drink full of smoke and spice." The combination of grapefruit, lime, and cinnamon made me think of Jeff Berry's stripped down Zombie, the Zombie Essence, and bartender Kat Lamper later commented that it almost got dubbed the Bolivian Zombie. I replied that I was expecting it to be served on crushed ice, and Kat described that when Carlo Caroscio created it that way, the flavors got lot lost in the dilution so he opted for serving it up.
In the glass, the Yunga Punch delivered smoke from the mezcal and earthy funk from the Singani to the nose. Next, grapefruit and lime on the sip lurched into brandy, agave, and smoke on the swallow with cinnamon, grapefruit, and more smoke on the finish.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

handsome bob

2 oz Bourbon (Old Grand-Dad Bonded)
1/2 oz Cynar
1/4 oz Maraschino (Luxardo)
1/4 oz Pineapple Syrup
2 dash Angostura Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

The discussion of cocktails created in Saratoga Springs, NY, in the late 19th century seemed to focus on the better known Saratoga Cocktail that was published in Jerry Thomas' book and appeared like a precursor of a Vieux Carré since Benedictine and Peychaud's Bitters were all that was added to make that 1930s number. The lesser known Saratoga Cocktail was from Harry Johnson's book that appeared like a brandy Old Fashioned riff with pineapple syrup and Maraschino as the sweeteners. The Maraschino and general structure made me think of the Fancy Free from Crosby Gaige, so when I decided to riff on Johnson's Saratoga, I took the Fancy Free's Bourbon base. Originally, I was considering rum, dry vermouth, and the Saratoga's two sweeteners akin to a rum Brooklyn in structure, but I decided to utilize Cynar instead of vermouth for it worked well with Maraschino in the Bensonhurst and with pineapple syrup in the Tres Piñas and Aguamiel.
For a name, I kept with the discussion of fancy folk in Saratoga Springs and picked "Handsome Bob" after Robert Hillard, a champion dude who ultimately lost to Evander Berry Wall a/k/a the "King of Dudes." In the glass, the Bourbon joined the nutty Maraschino aromas on the nose. Next, malt, caramel, and pineapple on the sip changed into whiskey, funky herbal-nutty cherry, and allspice on the swallow.

la calavera catrina

1 oz Tequila
1 oz Lustau Oloroso Sherry
1/2 oz Bonal Quinquina
1/2 oz Fernet Vallet

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

Andrea's first cocktail at Estragon two weeks ago was a more recent drink of the day from Sahil Mehta's recipe notebook. With the pair of Mexican ingredients, tequila and Fernet Vallet, Sahil wanted to give this one a touch of elegance to match the agave Manhattan feel; in the end, La Calavera Catrina "the dapper skeleton" was chosen. The name was based off of a work by illustrator, José Posada, who felt that Mexicans were aspiring too much to become European aristocrats. Later, Catrina became a symbol of the Mexican Day of the Dead celebration. With the elegant Spanish and French wine products as the other two ingredients, the name seemed too fit the name's history.
The orange twist added to the sherry's nutty grape on the nose. Next, an off-dry grape and caramel sip danced into a tequila, nutty, and complex bitter gentian swallow.

Monday, April 1, 2019

double dutch

1 oz Bols Genever
1 oz Batavia Arrack
3/4 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Velvet Falernum
1/4 oz Orgeat
1 dash Angostura Bitters
4-6 leaf Mint

Shake with ice, strain into a rocks glass, fill with ice, and garnish with a mint sprig.

Two Mondays ago, Andrea and I ventured down to the Southend to visit Sahil Mehta at Estragon. For a first drink, I scanned Sahil's notebook and spotted a curious recipe with Batavia Arrack and Genever, and the combination was one that I had only seen once before in Ricky Gomez' Weirding Way created at Portland's Teardrop Lounge. The rest of the elements made me think of a Mai Tai at first, but the orgeat and falernum duo had been utilized so well in Sam Ross' Tony Rocky Horror. For a name, Sahil proposed Double Dutch after the fact that the Dutch import Batavia Arrack and produce Genever.
In the glass, the Double Dutch proffered a mint and malt aroma. Next, the Genever's malt continued on in the sip to mingle with the lime notes, and the swallow combined Genever and the funky Batavia Arrack flavors that were accented by nutty orgeat and mint as well as a finish of allspice, lime, clove, and ginger.