Sunday, June 30, 2019


2 1/4 oz Talisker 10 Year Scotch (2 oz Cutty Sark Prohibition + 1/4 oz Laphroaig 10 Year)
3/4 oz Lustau Pedro Ximenez Sherry (Oxford 1970)

Stir with ice, strain into a St. George absinthe-rinsed cocktail coupe, and garnish with lemon oil from a twist.

For the cocktail hour two Sundays ago, I decided to peruse the PDT Cocktail Book for a glossed over gem. There, I spotted the Rapscallion that was very different from the Rapscallion posted here years ago, but was akin to the absinthe version of the Bobby Burns with sherry instead of vermouth. The recipe was created by Adeline Shepherd and Craig Harper for one of the opening menus at the Ruby Bar in Copenhagen in 2007.
The Rapscallion donated a lemon oil aroma over anise and smoke notes to the nose. Next, raisiny grape on the sip shared an almost fig flavor, and the swallow showcased the smoky Scotches and raisiny sherry with an anise-tinged finish.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

knight takes bishop

2 oz Irish Whiskey (Teeling Small Batch)
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Honey Syrup
1/2 oz Apricot Liqueur (Combier)
1/2 oz Palo Cortado Sherry (Lustau Amontillado)
1 Egg White

Shake once without and once with ice, strain into a rocks glass with ice (cocktail coupe without ice), and garnish with a taragon sprig (lemon twist).
Two Saturdays ago, I reached for Sarah Baird's New Orleans Cocktails and spotted the Knight Takes Bishop. The recipe was crafted by Kimberly Patton-Bragg at the Three Muses; I met Kimberly at Tiki By the Sea last year, and she has moved on from Three Muses to work at Beachbum Berry's Lattitude 29. The Knight Takes Bishop appeared like a Redhead Loretta with honey, lemon, and egg white in the mix, so I was definitely intrigued. Once prepared, the drink offered a lemon and whiskey aroma. Next, a creamy lemon and honey sip slid into Irish whiskey, nutty sherry, and apricot flavors on the swallow.

Friday, June 28, 2019

dark horse

1 1/2 oz Appleton 21 Year Rum (Appleton Reserve)
1/2 oz Bordelet Calvados (Boulard VSOP)
1/2 oz Amaro Nardini
1/2 oz Grand Marnier (Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao)

Stir with ice, strain into a Nick & Nora glass, and garnish with a lemon twist.
Two Fridays ago, I was inspired by the article in Punch Drinks about the Cocktail Codex book and therefore pulled it off the shelf. In its pages, I found the Dark Horse crafted by Jeremy Oertel in 2017. Once stirred and strained, the Dark Horse offered lemon oil over a caramel apple nose. Next, the caramel continued into the sip where it led into rum, apple, minty-herbal, and orange flavors on the swallow.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

amour a la francaise

1 1/3 oz Brandy (Camus VS Cognac)
3/4 oz Ginger Liqueur (King's Ginger)
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Simple Syrup
4 dash Crème de Cassis (1/8 oz Massenez)
1 Egg White

Shake once without and once with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with a lemon twist.
Two Thursdays ago, I delved into Doni Belau's Paris Cocktails and spotted the Amour à la Française created at Bar Le Forum in Paris. Once prepared, the egg white Sour shared lemon oil over a Cognac and fruity aroma. Next, a creamy lemon sip slid into Cognac, ginger, and hints of currant on the swallow.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

lapu lapu

1 oz Dark Rum (Coruba)
1 oz Light Rum (Uruapan Charanda Blanco)
2 oz Orange Juice
1 oz Lemon Juice
1 oz Passion Fruit Syrup
3/4 oz Vanilla Syrup

Shake with ice and pour into a goblet (whip shake, pour into a Tiki mug, and fill with crushed ice). Garnish with 2 pineapple leaves and a cherry picked together (mint sprigs and orange twists).

Two Wednesdays ago, I spotted Blair Reynolds' riff on the mid-century Chief Lapu Lapu that he posted on the B.G. Reynolds' Facebook page. To the classic, he had altered the rum amounts and citrus proportions as well as swapping the simple for vanilla syrup. Overall, I was intrigued by the passion fruit-vanilla combo that dates back to Trader Vic with the Ponch and Foul Weather and got a bit of notice with the more recent Porn Star Martini. The vanilla syrup here took the drink a step further away from looking like a gussied-up Hurricane.
Once prepared, the Lapu Lapu donated a mint, orange, passion fruit, and vanilla bouquet to the nose. Next, caramel and orange mingled on the sip, and the swallow came through with dark rum, passion fruit, and vanilla flavors.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

cosa nostra

1 1/2 oz Bourbon (Wild Turkey 101)
1 bsp Campari
1 bsp Zucca (Sfumato)
1/4 oz Simple Syrup 1:1
2 dash Fernet Branca (1/4 - 1/3 bsp)

Stir with ice, strain into an old fashioned glass with a large ice cube, and garnish with a lemon twist.

Two Tuesdays ago, I decided to make the Cosa Nostra that I had spotted in Imbibe Magazine. The recipe was crafted by Patrick Pisolesi at Rome's Caffè Propaganda and was originally published in the 2016 Tasting Rome book. Overall, it came across as a classic bitter, brown, and stirred drink, but with just under a half ounce of modifier, it was more akin to an Old Fashioned riff like the Sherpa from a few days before.
The Cosa Nostra greeted the nose with lemon and smoky herbal aromas. Next, malt notes were bolstered by the body of the syrup and liqueurs on the sip, and the swallow followed through with Bourbon and bitter smoky and orange flavors with a menthol finish from the Fernet.

Monday, June 24, 2019

:: the stress of being weeded ::

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

A few years ago, I entered into a Friday night shift knowing that we were down a server due to the new guy not finding our place a fit and no-showing and as a result, the other bartender would be working the private event in the other room. Tack on that it was the first warm day that our patio was fully set up and there were plenty of people milling around the neighborhood. So not only was the bar half-staffed, but the restaurant itself was understaffed for the evening.

I played in my head the advice that blogger/bartender Erik Ellestad was given by his boss one night when the other person that was supposed to be behind the stick could not make it in. The boss sagely guided Erik with the mindset of, “You’ll probably go down in flames, but the most important thing is to go down in flames gracefully.” This was relayed in Erik’s discussion of William Boothby’s Ten Commandments for Bartenders in the third commandment of “Always appear pleasant and obliging under all circumstances.”

It was not the first time that I have worked that bar half-staffed including super busy nights such as when Valentine’s Day fell on a Saturday this past February, and I have gotten through with the vast majority of guests being understanding of the situation. The events set up in the first paragraph were not one of them.

The following day, my boss came up to me and told me what a great job I have been doing at the bar lately. I replied, “Save for my two star Yelp review from yesterday.” I explained that I never consider myself weeded if I am busy or in fact too busy. That is part of the job and eventually the drinks will be made, the shift will end, and things will reset; moreover, one elder server once told me, “If you ain’t sweating Freddy, you ain’t earning.” Physically, I can only produce quality drinks up to a certain rate which is also slowed down by guest interactions; having a stack of drink tickets to make is just part of the job. However, once there is anger from a guest, server, or manager about the time it takes for a ticket to be fulfilled or an order taken, then and only then do I feel weeded. It means that my triage system in trying to make the most of the situation has failed. While sometimes that is from a person who has been unfairly neglected, it is often someone who wants slow night-level service at prime time.

In this case, four ladies sat at my bar, and I got them water and menus immediately and went back to making tickets that were coming in rapidly from both the patio and the 30 person open-bar event in the other room that had only started moments ago. Soon, I took their drink order and made their cocktails, and went back to making drinks and trying to figure out where to transfer checks as the bar was the waypoint for people waiting for patio tables to open up. Normally, both the act of providing water and menus and the act of making the drinks buys you a bit of time, respectively. Here though, while I was taking the drink order of the people a few seats down, they started getting needy about questions about food and placing an order. After the third time explaining to them since they arrived that I would be there in a moment, and not seeing a manager or server who could take their food order that minute, I eventually snapped and scolded them with, “Look, I am really busy and I will be there when I can.” It is not a tone I like to use. It is a tone of defeat for a hospitality worker. The mystique was broken. I was broken. The night felt broken to begin with, but in reality, the rest of the evening went really well (considering). But for those four guests, they left insulted.

While discussing the Yelp review with my boss, he first noted how they mention that they were the only people at the bar and inside the main room of the restaurant and all the action was outside, so they did not understand why the bartender was so flustered. Besides the inside guests, they did not even acknowledge the three guests to their right. My boss did provide me pointers on phrases to use to communicate to guests and keep the mystique. For example, never say "a minute" or any distinct time frame other than "a moment." Perhaps tell them that they are next after these guests or these two parties, but do not make a time frame more specific than that.

Some other advice that has helped me is to ask for assistance. Not in a vague way, but asking someone to take a food order, clear plates, or other task. This sometimes can be more difficult; when everyone else is slammed, there is less of a team environment at the establishment. But your very moment of need might be at a less high-pressured moment for someone else. Also, try to keep management abreast of your needs and report incidents as they happen so complaints in person or online are not so much of a surprise. In my above story, I forewarned them that it was the makings of a bad Yelp review, and I was not wrong.

In the stress of it, make note of what is wasting your time the most, such as the way the well was set-up, or how the host was taking bar guests and sitting them at tables without communicating where the guests went so I could forward the financials. Figure out with the bar staff and the management later how to make these things more streamlined. Also, when things subside for a moment, take a minute to drink water, tie your shoe, and clean up your station – things that will allow you to be in it for the long haul that night.

In terms of mental focus, remember that every shift ends and the workday resets. This was not the case when I worked in business where the stress carried over into the next day. Know the rhythms of your bar and restaurant of when things will be at their peak and how long that peak usually lasts, for it will help set a better idea of when things will lighten up as opposed to just counting the hours to the end of the night. True, every night is a bit different, but over time, it is possible to gain a good understanding of the range of how things generally are.

I wish that I could advise to never be unpleasant, but as I have described already, it is not always possible in every situation. We are human and hospitality is a two-way street, even if it ought to seem like a one-way one. With co-workers, remember to apologize. Feelings get trampled in the heat of the moment, and always take the time to try to mend it later. Experienced restaurant workers know what it is like, and just acknowledging their feelings will generally make them relate, forgive, and forget. Apologizing to the guest is not always possible if they have stormed off, but there are ways of patching it up if they stay past the high volume moments. Some of the best hospitality moments that I have observed or participated in have come in the rescue of what was heading towards a bad dining or drinking experience.

I have heard some advice to take a shot to calm the nerves and keep working. I cannot speak for what works for others, but I feel that I am most on top of my game when the drink in my hand is coffee. However, when it gets really busy, that coffee is room temperature and hours old by the time I take another sip, but it seems like such a treat regardless.

The saying, “Be like a duck. Stay calm on the surface but paddle like hell underneath” is a good slogan to remember. However, bartenders have the problem of always being in front of their guests as well as in front of the servers at the pass looking for their tickets being fulfilled. Eyes are always on us looking for the answers to their needs when things get busy. Adapting a zen-like demeanor and pleasantly working at full capacity is the goal – do your best to go down in flames as gracefully as possible on those nights. Failing to maintain that 100% is just reality. Do not blame the circumstances, but understand them to put things in perspective and learn from them.

Finally, learn to relish the slower shifts even if they are not the ones that pay the rent. The slow times are when you can feel great about yourself as a hospitalitarian and free yourself of guilt for any slights and slips during the busier nights. Indeed, in the past, my Sunday night shifts after a busy weekend are some of my favorites in regards to guest treatment and interactions with my co-workers. And yes, on those nights, I can sip my coffee when it is still warm.

passing deadline

1 1/2 oz Old Granddad Bonded Bourbon
1/2 oz Cocchi Sweet Vermouth (Martini Gran Lusso)
1/2 oz Lustau East India Solera Sherry
1/2 oz Salers Gentiane (Suze)
1 bsp Turbinado Syrup (Simple)
1 dash Angostura Bitters
1 dash Bittermens Mole Bitters

Stir with ice, strain into a rocks glass with ice, and garnish with freshly grated cinnamon and a cinnamon stick.
Two Mondays ago, I selected Nico Martini's Texas Cocktails and spotted the Passing Deadline that I had reserved until I had replaced my Lustau East India Solera Sherry bottle. The recipe was created by Terry Williams at the Anvil in Houston, and as essentially a Manhattan riff with gentian liqueur, it reminded me a bit of the Harry Palmer. In the glass, the Passing Deadline offered up cinnamon and Bourbon aromas along with a hint of sherry. Next, malt and grape mingled on the sip, and the swallow paired the Bourbon with the earthy and herbal gentian and finished with chocolate and spice notes.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

south of the border martinez

2 oz Reposado Tequila (Cimarron)
1 oz Sweet Vermouth (Martini Gran Lusso)
1/4 oz Luxardo Maraschino
2 dash Chocolate Bitters (Bittermens)

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with an orange twist.
For the cocktail hour two Sunday nights ago, I reached for Frank Caiafa's 2016 The Waldorf Astoria Bar Book and spotted the South of the Border Martinez. This agave riff was true to the classic Martinez recipe save for the reposado tequila and chocolate bitters substitions; similar agave riffs such as the Stockyards and Pipe Dream took more liberties. Once mixed, the South of the Border Martinez offered up orange, grape, and agave aromas with a hint of nutty cherry. Next, grape and a touch of cherry on the sip led into tequila and herbal grape on the swallow with a chocolate and nutty cherry finish.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

the sherpa

2 oz Bourbon (Old Granddad Bonded)
1/4 oz Allspice Dram (Hamilton's)
1/4 oz Curaçao (Pierre Ferrand)
2 dash Orange Bitters (Bittercube's "Most Imaginative" Bitters with orange, lemon, cassia, corriander, and vanilla)

Build in a whiskey glass, add a large ice cube, stir a few times, and garnish with a lemon twist.
Two Saturdays ago, I reached for Sasha Petraske's Regarding Cocktails book and spotted the Sherpa. The recipe, crafted by Matt Clark at Dutch Kills, came across like a Bourbon Old Fashioned sweetened with allspice and orange liqueurs akin to the Fancy Free with perhaps the Lion's Tail as an influence. Once built, the Sherpa guided the nose into lemon and whiskey aromas. Next, malt accented with the liqueurs' body on the sip continued into a Bourbon, orange, and allspice swallow.

Friday, June 21, 2019

weep no more

1 jigger Cognac (1 1/2 oz Camus VS)
1 jigger Dubonnet (1 1/4 oz)
Juice 1/2 Lime (1/2 oz)
1 dash Maraschino Liqueur (1/4 oz Luxardo)

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass; I added an orange twist.
While perusing my LifeJournal earlier in the week, I had marked down a few recipes that were worth revisiting. Two Fridays ago, I decided to remake the Weep No More that I had made in 2008, and I credited the now defunct CocktailDB site as the source. Since that site included only a handful of books, I confirmed that the recipe back then was most likely sourced from Stan Jones' 1977 Complete Barguide. I was able to sleuth down the original Weep No More to W.C. Whitfield's 1939 Just Cocktails, and that recipe was a lot lighter on the Maraschino than the Stan Jones' one. Once prepared, the Weep No More greeted the senses with an orange, grape, and nutty cherry bouquet. Next, a semi-dry lime and grape sip led into a Cognac, nutty, and cherry swallow.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

jack rose (ensslin)

1/2 Applejack (2 oz Laird's Bonded)
1/2 Grenadine (3/4 oz)
Juice and Rind of 1 Lime (3/4 oz + Peel of 1/2 Lime)

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

While looking up the Fluffy Ruffles in Hugo Ensslin's 1916 Recipes for Mixed Drinks, I was reminded that his Jack Rose utilized the same shake with a lime rind technique. Jack Rose recipes generally vary by whether lemon or lime are used, but few alter from the trinity of apple brandy, grenadine, and citrus juice. Boston's Jack Rose Society decided in 2005 after trying all of the recipes available to them at the time (this was before the large wave of reprints through Cocktail Kingdom and others) decided that their ideal Jack Rose would take the lemon route but with a dash of Peychaud's Bitters. Perhaps Ensslin's inclusion of the lime rind to add additional aromatics and bitter elements could be playing the same function as the Peychaud's in the Boston 2005 recipe?
Ensslin's Jack Rose greeted the nose with apple and lime oil aromas. Next, a lime and berry sip transitioned into apple and pomegranate flavors on the swallow with lime peel notes along with a dryness on the finish. The effect was less stunning as compared the Fluffy Ruffles, but that is understandable since the Fluffy Ruffles completely lacked a juice component, but the lime peel did provide a similar brightness, bitterness, and complexity to the Jack Rose.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019


1/2 jigger Brandy (1 1/2 oz Courvoisier VS Cognac)
1/2 jigger French Vermouth (1 1/2 oz Noilly Prat Dry)
2 dash Gum Syrup (2 tsp Simple)
2 dash Peychaud's Bitters
1 dash Orange Bitters (Regan's)

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

While looking through my old LiveJournal for the Fluffy Ruffles, I spotted the Metropole that I made in April 2008 shortly after having read about the drink in David Wondrich's Imbibe! book as well as on Chuck Taggart's blog. There, I made the somewhat newer 2:1 recipe that Wondrich preferred, but here, I found the older recipe in George Kappeler's 1895 Modern American Drinks as the equal parts drink. Wondrich wrote about this version in his Esquire Magazine column where he described the Metropole as, "If drinks were old movie stars, this one would be James Mason. Dark, handsome, suave, a little dry, but deep down a swine. Which is entirely appropriate, considering where it originated." The drink was created at the Metropole Hotel sometime between its opening in 1876 and the book's publication in 1895. Located near what became Times Square, the hotel's street-level Café Metropole served all night and gained a seedy reputation (hence, Wondrich's "swine" comment) until its demise in 1912 (only a week after one of the regulars got gunned down in front of the café). Kappeler also included the Metropolitan Cocktail which is pretty much the same there save for the bitters being two dashes of Angostura instead of the Peychaud's and orange bitters duo (and not the more modern Metropolitan that is the Cosmo riff with Kurant instead of Citron vodka, of course). The original Metropolitan published in O.H. Byron's 1884 Modern Bartender’s Guide preceded the Metropole and called for sweet vermouth instead of dry vermouth plus syrup, so perhaps the café purloined that and switched the vermouth type, bitters, and name slightly.
I opted for a little more simple syrup than specified which strayed from Wondrich's description of it being "a little dry," for I envisioned this to be a Cognac Sazerac minus the absinthe. In the glass, the Metropole presented a Cognac nose that preceded a semi-sweet and slightly fruity sip. Next, the swallow was a pleasing brandy and cherry anise combination.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

fluffy ruffles

1/2 Cuban Rum (1 1/2 oz Diplomatic Reserva Exclusiva)
1/2 Italian Vermouth (1 1/2 oz Martini Gran Lusso)
1 rind Lime (1 whole Lime Peel)

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

Two weeks ago on Reddit's cocktails forum, someone had posted the Fluffy Ruffles that they made as a Rum Manhattan garnished with a lime twist. I commented, "The recipe gains a lift if you use the ones that include a lime peel or shell in the shake with ice. It adds lime notes and bitterness (akin to bitters in a Manhattan) to the drink." I tried to find evidence to my having made this drink on my old LiveJournal or here on the blog, and all I could find was a reference to it in this post (lamenting how that modern drink book did not have the lime peel/rind in the shake). That book review pointed me to a comment I made in the BoulderLibations blog back in 2011 where I point the author in the right direction by declaring, "No, I believe he does mean the peel (rind) which when shaken with ice will extract citrus oils and some bitterness to spice up the drink. Very popular around that time and is a standard in books like the La Florida Cocktail Book. There's not supposed to be citrus juice in the drink, but citrus essence akin to lime bitters." Actually, the technique dates back to at least 1862 with Jerry Thomas in his White Lion, but that post pointed me to Hugo Ensslin's 1916 recipe which I used to make the drink. I must have made this a decade before (perhaps at my journal/blog transition where a bunch of drinks did not get entered circa 2008), but it was time to do it again. The drink was so memorable that Andrea declared that if she ever got to join LUPEC Boston, her LUPEC name would be Fluffy Ruffles.
There's no way around the fact that the drink will look dingy when there is no garnish specified; I saved the similar Fig Leaf (rum, vermouth, lime, Angostura) with a lime twist to distract from that murky red-brown hue. The Fluffy Ruffles itself was named after a popular figure of 1907 -- this "it" girl was actually a newspaper comic strip star in line with the Gibson Girl aesthetic. Once prepared, the Fluffy Ruffles was so much more than a basic Rum Manhattan. It greeted the nose with lime and rum aromas that led into a grape and caramel sip. Next, the magic came in with rum, lime oil, and minty herbal notes. The lime itself acted like the bitters here and pushed things into a sharper, minty-herbal, and tropical direction reminiscent of Scott Holliday's Rude Boy.

Monday, June 17, 2019


1/3 Dry Gin (1 oz Beefeater)
1/3 Dubonnet (1 oz)
1/3 Dry Sherry (1 oz Lustau Amontillado)

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass; I added a lemon twist.
Two Mondays ago, I returned to Jere Sullivan's 1930 The Drinks of Yesteryear: A Mixology to one of the recipes that I had bookmarked called the Chase. The drink was subtitled, "Authorized by a New Haven merchant -- plagiarized by New York Hotels." In the introduction, the author mentioned that he had bartended in New Haven for a while as well as in Boston before Prohibition, so perhaps he was the creator of this Submarine Cocktail-like number. When I asked Andrea whether she wanted this with Fino, Amontillado, or Oloroso, she selected Amontillado to perhaps split the difference. In the glass, the Chase proffered lemon, cherry, raisin, and grape notes to the nose. Next, a plum-like sip led into gin, nutty sherry, blackberry, cherry, and black tea flavors on the swallow.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

pearl diver's punch

1 1/2 oz Gold Puerto Rican Rum (Don Q Añejo)
3/4 oz Demerara Rum (El Dorado 5 Year)
1/2 oz Gold Jamaican Rum (Appleton Select)
1 oz Orange Juice
3/4 oz Lime Juice
3/4 oz Pearl Diver's Mix (*)
1 tsp Falernum (Velvet)
6 oz Crushed Ice

Blend everything but the ice, add the ice, and blend for 20 seconds. Pour into a Pilsner glass (Tiki mug) and fill with crushed ice.
(*) 1 oz softened sweet butter, 1 oz honey, 1 tsp cinnamon syrup, 1/2 tsp vanilla syrup, 1/2 tsp allspice dram (Hamilton's).
The blender drink that I wanted to make a week before for Andrea's birthday was the Pearl Diver's Punch, but I lacked oranges to juice, so I made the Daiquiri Menta instead. With having bought oranges this past week as well as making fresh batches of cinnamon and vanilla syrups, I was ready to tackle this recipe two Sundays ago. I had tried Beachbum Berry's passion fruit riff, the Pontchartrain Pearl Diver at Latitude 29 four years ago, but I had never tasted the original that Berry had published in Sippin' Safari from the Don the Beachcomber restaurant circa 1937. Once prepared, the Pearl Diver's Punch gave forth an aged rum nose that seemed to call out for some sort of aromatic garnish; none was specified, so I kept things simple. Next, an orange and lime sip showed off a rich mouthfeel from the butter, and the swallow finished things off with rum, honey, and spice flavors.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

beachcomber's gold (chicago)

1 1/2 oz Light Puerto Rican Rum (Havana Club 7 Year)
1/2 oz French Vermouth (Noilly Prat Dry)
1/2 oz Italian Vermouth (Martini Gran Lusso Sweet)
1 dash Angostura Bitters
6 drop Pernod (St. George Absinthe)

Blend with 2 oz crushed ice and fine strain (shake with ice and strain) into a cocktail coupe with an ice shell hood. I added a lemon twist garnish.

Since I still had an ice shell left over from making the 1930s Beachcomber's Gold the night before, I decided to make one of the of newer recipes from Beachbum Berry's Remixed book. The 1980s one required passion fruit nectar that I lacked, but the 1970s one was a Perfect Rum Manhattan with 6 drops of Pernod in the mix that was perfectly do-able. The drink was served at the Chicago Don the Beachcomber in the early 1970s, and I eschewed the blending for a shake step. Also, to attached the ice shell to the glass, I laid the coupe on its side, set the shell inside, dropped cold water at the interface, and allowed it to freeze. The technique was indeed effective for several minutes before it slid off.
This Beachcomber's Gold donated a dark rum and bright lemon oil aroma. Next, a semi-dry grape sip transitioned into an aged rum, grape, clove, allspice, and anise swallow.

Friday, June 14, 2019

beachcomber's gold (hollywood)

1 oz Gold Puerto Rican Rum (Don Q Añejo)
1/4 oz Dark Jamaican Rum (Coruba)
1/4 oz Gold Jamaican Rum (Smith & Cross)
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Simple Syrup (1/2 oz Orgeat)
4 drop Almond Extract (utilize orgeat as above)
6 drop Pernod (St. George Absinthe)

Blend with 2 oz crushed ice and strain into a coupe with an ice shell (shake with ice, strain into a rocks glass, fill with crushed ice, and garnish with an ice shell, mint, and honeysuckles).

Two Fridays ago, I honored the call for the Instagram-based Beachcomber's Gold Challenge after having participated in the previous week's 151 Swizzle Challenge. For recipes, I found that Beachbum Berry's Remixed contained three different Beachcomber's Gold recipes all sourced from Don the Beachcomber establishments. The one I selected was the oldest from Dick Santiago's 1937 notebook that Santiago assembled as the head waiter at the Hollywood location, and this same recipe was found in a 1950s notebook from a Palm Springs location. In terms of technique, I have always had a problem with the making the shell in a coupe glass and nudging it over to keep building it instructions that Berry recommended as I mentioned in the Aku Aku Gold Cup post. For that drink, I utilized a hand juicer to force the crushed ice into the proper shape. For this one, I opted for building it in a cheaper julep strainer, pressing it together with another strainer to force the shape, freezing it, and then squeezing the strainer's metal until the shell separated (my more solid ones such as the Cocktail Kingdom brand were not bendable and did not work here). While I was able to make a few attractive ones, I was unable to attach the shell to a glass very well (I believe that I had matched the shell to the perfect glass in the Aku Aku Gold Cup to keep it in place). Therefore, I opted for the crushed ice-filled rocks glass route that the Devil's Reef bar utilizes to solve the dilemma. For speed, the hand juicer technique works the best since it does not require a freezing step (although it helps to retain its form).
This Beachcomber's Gold version proffered minty, floral, and almond aromas. Next, a creamy lime sip receded into a funky rum, nutty, and hint of spice swallow.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

crazy crossing

1/2 Plymouth Gin (1 1/2 oz Tanqueray)
1/4 Noilly Prat Vermouth (3/4 oz NP Dry)
1/4 Dubonnet (3/4 oz)
1 dash Maraschino (1/8 oz Luxardo)
1 dash Van der Hum (1/8 oz) (*)

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass; I added an orange twist.
(*) Since this aged brandy-based South African tangerine and spice liqueur is hard to source (I got mine at Julio's Liquors around a decade ago), substitute Amaro Montenegro, Mandarin Napoleon, or perhaps Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao.
Two Thursdays ago, I returned to the 1937 Café Royal Cocktail Book to see if there were any glossed over gems. There, I spotted the Crazy Crossing by F.G. Hunt that appeared like Ensslin's Submarine with Maraschino and Van der Hum as dashed modifiers (plus, this one was gin forward opposed to the Submarine being Dubonnet forward). In the glass, the Crazy Crossing provided an orange, cherry, and grape bouquet to the nose. Next, the grape sip gave way to gin, nutty cherry, chocolate, and tangerine flavors on the swallow.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

good samaritan

1 oz Bourbon (3/4 oz Wild Turkey 101)
1 oz Amontillado Sherry (3/4 oz Lustau)
1 oz Giffard Banane du Bresil (3/4 oz)
1 oz Lemon Juice (3/4 oz)

Shake with ice, strain into a rocks glass with ice, and garnish with a dehydrated or fresh lemon wheel (dehydrated).
For the cocktail hour on Wednesday night, I selected a recent recipe from Imbibe Magazine called the Good Samaritan. The equal parts recipe was crafted by Paul Rodgers at the Mash House in Nashville, and the combination of Amontillado and banana liqueur lured me in for it has worked rather well in the Park Genoves Swizzle, Cutlass, Father's Advice, and other drinks. Once shaken and strained, the Good Samaritan helped out with a nutty sherry aroma melding with banana undertones to the nose. Next, lemon and a vague banana note on the sip gave way to Bourbon, rich banana, and nutty grape on the swallow.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

heartbreaker coffee house

1 1/2 oz Tequila (Lunazul Blanco)
3/4 oz Coffee Liqueur (3/4 oz Copper & Kings Destillaire + 1/8 oz Simple Syrup)
2 dash Orange Bitters (Regan's)

Build in a rocks glass, add ice, and stir. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Two Tuesdays ago, I began my evening's cocktail search with Michael Madrusan and Zara Young's A Spot at the Bar book. There, I spied the Heartbreaker Coffee House that came across like a tequila Revolver. The recipe would also give me a chance to try the sample of Copper & King's new coffee liqueur. On its own, the liqueur shared a brandy and coffee aroma that led into medium roast flavors and a brandy finish. Overall, rather delightful but a bit drier than other coffee liqueurs such as Kahlua and Ristretto; therefore, some additional sweetener will need to be added to use it as a substitute. Perhaps the intention was an after dinner cordial to be drank on its own for the sweetness is perfect for that purpose and the flavor has me coming back for more.
The Heartbreaker Coffee House gave forth lemon, roasted coffee, and agave aromas to the nose. Next, the roast filled the sip and preceded the tequila and coffee swallow with a vegetal agave finish.

Monday, June 10, 2019


3/4 Dry Gin (2 oz Beefeater)
1/4 Lemon Juice (3/4 oz)
3 dash Maraschino (1/2 oz Luxardo + 1/4 oz Simple Syrup)
3 sprig Mint (6 leaf)

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass; I added a floated mint leaf garnish.

Two Mondays ago, I turned to the 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book after a long time away from its pages. There, I spotted the Sensation that was like a crème de violette-less Aviation, a lemon for grapefruit Seventh Heaven, and a Southside with Maraschino as the sweetener. I was served a Genever variation, the New Sensation at Bergamot, but I had never had the gin classic.
The Sensation offered up minty, nutty cherry, and pine notes to the nose. Next, lemon and a hint of cherry on the sip became gin and nutty cherry flavors on the swallow with a minty herbal finish.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

daiquiri menta

2 oz White Rum (Privateer Silver)
3/4 oz Lime Juice
2 tsp Sugar (Florida Crystals)
1/4 oz Crème de Menthe (Tempus Fugit)
5-6 leaf Mint
10 oz Crushed Ice

Combine all but the rum in a blender and blend on low. Add rum, blend until smooth, and pour into a large Martini glass or go-cup (stemmed water glass). Garnish with a mint sprig.

Two Sundays ago for Andrea's birthday, she requested a blender drink to christen our new Vitamix blender. Since I ran out of oranges and could not make the Pearl Diver that night, I remembered a blender drink that I had spotted in Punch called the Daiquiri Menta. The recipe was crafted by Nick Detrich and Chris Hannah at their new Cuban-inspired spot, Manolito in New Orleans, and the blending with mint leaves reminded me of the Missionary's Downfall.
Once prepared, the Daiquiri Menta was all about the mint on the nose. Next, lime on the sip slid into rum and more mint on the swallow with a herbal chlorophyll bitterness on the finish.

Saturday, June 8, 2019


2/3 Bacardi (1 3/4 oz Privateer Silver + 1/4 oz Rhum Clement Agricole)
2 dash French Vermouth (3/4 oz Noilly Prat Dry)
2 dash Grenadine (1/4 oz)
1 dash Ojen Bitters (20 drop St. George Absinthe)

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass; I added a grapefruit twist.
Two Saturdays ago, I reached for Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars: 1903-1933 after dinner. There in the rum section was the Milo that reminded me of the Atta Boy from the Savoy Cocktail Book but with rum and a dash of absinthe in place of the gin (or like Pioneers' Cuban with rum instead of gin and Maraschino). Once built, the Milo proffered grapefruit oil over grassy rum and berry notes to the nose. Next, cherry and white wine elements on the sip gave way to grassy rum, cherry, and pomegranate flavors on the swallow with an herbal finish.

Friday, June 7, 2019

:: we've all got to start somewhere ::

First published on the USBG National blog in May 2019.

The recent USBG Northeast Regional Conference in New Haven brought up an amusing personal anecdote about the city in regards to drinking. I grew up nearby in Milford, CT, and throughout high school, I was never part of the drinking culture due to my mom being rather strict and the threats of punishment too severe. During the summers, I worked at a day camp, and for my 18th birthday, two of the older counselors decided to take me out on the town in New Haven a month or so before I left for college. One of the early stops on the adventure was at the Vietnam Memorial in New Haven Harbor. There, one of the guys brought out Peachtree Schnapps, orange juice, and convenience store wax paper cups. Overlooking Long Island Sound, I had my first mixed drink – a Fuzzy Navel of all things.

Throughout college, I mostly stuck to beer with some forays into wine and occasionally a punch if that was what the only thing available at a party. But my vocabulary regarding asking for mixed drinks was not developed in the least. After college, I soon learned that requesting a Sour was not too bad, and Amaretto Sours went down pretty easily (even if they are more likely to give you a sugar high over getting you inebriated). Moreover, bartenders did not seem to mind making them especially when Sour Mix came in a bottle or was off the soda gun. When I fell into the Boston club scene, I learned that the main bartender at one place had several drinks that people requested with interesting names like the Mind Eraser or Red Death that she enjoyed making. While the components of the former were known, the latter was a well-kept mystery. One night, I ran into one of the sales reps who used to visit me at work (a non-restaurant job), and he offered to buy me a drink. It was phrased to suggest a mixed drink instead of a beer, and I panicked and asked him to get me a Red Death. He replied, “A what? No, I’ll buy it for you but I just want to know what’s in it.” I replied, “I don't know, it’s red, it’s strong, and everyone orders them from Terri the bartender.” At that point, I realized that I needed a more business appropriate drink.

I decided that I needed to learn how to drink a Manhattan. It was probably more Tom Waits songs than Charles Bukowski books that steered me in that direction, but somehow I knew that this was going to be my drink. So the next time that a friend inquired if he could buy me a mixed drink, I asked the bartender for a Manhattan. I remember freezing when she countered, “What whiskey?” I had no clue that I needed to be so specific. After a moment, I unfroze and unsurely blurted out, “Maker’s Mark,” and then turned to my older, wiser friend - “I did alright?” He agreed and said that it was indeed a whiskey and in fact a good one to make a Manhattan with. Luckily, the bartender did not ask me a litany of other questions using terms that I did not know at the time like, “Up or on the rocks?” Given my sweet tooth at the time, “A cherry or a twist?” would have been a no-brainer, but this was certainly uncharted territory, and I was learning the hard way – through figuring out how not to embarrass myself instead of being guided by the bartender or a friend.
I used this sense of confusion later when I became a bartender to alleviate stress in a guest by giving them an easy out. With a Martini, the questions could be numerous like gin or vodka? What brand? Olive brine or vermouth? How dirty or dry? Shaken or stirred? Up or on the rocks? Olives or twist? If I noted any lack of confidence, I would quickly suggest before all of the questions began, “I rather enjoy my Martinis with two parts of Beefeater to one part of dry vermouth with orange bitters and a lemon twist in a cocktail glass, but I can make it which ever way you’d like.” All of the sudden, taking an order was an act of empathy instead of merely commerce, and on the upside, drink orders came more quickly since the guest did not hem and haw over the confusing possibilities. Plus, if the guests opted for my way, they learned to drink better in my eyes.

I have been taught a lot about not embarrassing a guest when cutting them off and trying to get them to leave, but it is rare that I hear or read anything about how to get a drink order out as an act of compassion. All too often we expect our drinkers to know what they would like from experience, but even that can keep them in their liquidy ruts. However, when they do not know, it can be panicky – especially if they are on a date, with business associates, or with others whom they need to impress. And plenty are sensitive enough that the act of being confused alone is something that can sour the evening. While some of the rougher sort will just bark out, “Just make the darned drink!” to avoid the questions, the quieter sort might feel less welcomed by the questions. Getting a verbal drink order out of a guest can and should be an exercise in benevolence. Even on drink menus, all too often novices (whether to imbibing in general or to craft cocktails specifically) freeze up by obscure drink terms and ingredients. Learning to talk about menu items in a few simple words can guide them out of this maze; even carefully constructing the menu will not work with every guest, but it certainly will help.

As the craft cocktail renaissance hits its second or third wave, we have become too used to the guest who does not want their Negroni as an equal parts drink and inquires what vermouths the bar carries to best make their target flavor profile. Thus, we have come to anticipate advanced knowledge in our guests, and we can forget that many times some one is just there to be with their friends and has not figured out the exact verbiage or even drink styles that suit them. Be aware, and be the guide.

While I never made it out to the monument in New Haven Harbor that weekend to relive my youth, that weekend I did win a bottle of Crown Royal Peach in a raffle. One of my USBG chapter mates commented that I could at least have a peachy New Haven memory whenever I wanted now. A sip would definitely harken back to the days when the biggest decision was - “yes or no?” instead of the more stressful “What do you want?” and “How you want it?” Remember that what is in the glass should be a non-stressful decision, for it is not necessarily why they are even gathering that evening. Cheers to drinking better, but remember the road that took you there!

don's special 151 swizzle

1 1/2 oz Puerto Rican 151 Rum (Don Q)
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/4 oz Passion Fruit Syrup
1/4 oz Honey Syrup
1 dash Peychaud's Bitters

Build in a tall glass, fill with ice, swizzle to mix and chill, and garnish with a mint sprig. Sub another mild Caribbean 151 rum if Puerto Rican 151 is not in your inventory.

In thinking about the 151 Swizzle Challenge, I decided to craft my own after making the mid-century classic recipe. In contemplating a sweetener, I bandied about ideas of coffee liqueur, crème de cacao, Benedictine, and passion fruit syrup. Andrea seemed to like the passion fruit idea, and I took the passion fruit and honey syrup combination from Don's Special Daiquiri along with its Puerto Rican rum to combine into Don's 151 Swizzle. For bitters, I merged the anise of the Herbsaint and with the drying power of Angostura in the original, and I selected Peychaud's. It turns out that the combination bears some resemblance to Beachbum Berry's Hart of Darkness albeit with a different rum, lemon in addition to lime, some soda water, and no bitters or garnish.
Don's Special 151 Swizzle proffered mint and passion fruit notes to the nose. Next, lime mingled with honey on the sip, and the swallow showcased rum, passion fruit, and anise flavors.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

no vermouth in duluth

1 1/2 oz Fino Sherry (Lustau)
3/4 oz Oloroso Sherry (Lustau)
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Pineapple Syrup
1 dash Regan's Orange Bitters
1 dash Peychaud's Bitters

Shake with ice, strain into a Highball glass, fill with crushed ice, and garnish with a mint sprig.
Two Thursdays ago, I returned to Imbibe Magazine to make a year old recipe called No Vermouth in Duluth. I had skipped over Sam Mattenson's recipe that he crafted at Porchlight in Manhattan since I had lacked Fino sherry in my collection until a few months ago, and now it was time to make this Sherry Cobbler riff (even if I would describe it more as a Sherry Fix given the pineapple syrup). Once assembled, the No Vermouth in Duluth's nose was dominated by the freshly picked mint sprig. Next, lime and grape on the sip slid into nutty, savory, and pineapple flavors on the swallow.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

wicked behavior

1 1/2 oz Bourbon (Old Granddad Bonded)
3/4 oz Pineapple Juice
1/4 oz Elderflower Liqueur (St. Elder)
1/4 oz Aperol
1/4 oz Honey Syrup
1/4 oz Lemon Juice

Shake with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with an optional dehydrated pineapple slice (omit).
Two Wednesdays ago, I decided to make the Wicked Behavior that was published in Imbibe Magazine; this Whiskey Sour of sorts was crafted by Ariana Vitale at Rider in Seattle. In the glass, the Wicked Behavior offered up a Bourbon, honey, and floral nose. Next, pineapple and orange filled the sip, and the swallow gave forth whiskey, bitter, and floral flavors.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

151 swizzle

1 1/2 oz Lemon Hart or Hamilton's Demerara 151 Proof Rum (Lemon Hart 151)
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Simple Syrup
1 dash Angostura Bitters
6 drop Pernod or Herbsaint (St. George Absinthe)

Flash blend with 8 oz crushed ice for 5 seconds, and pour into a flared metal Swizzle cup (build in a Julep cup, fill with crushed ice, and swizzle to mix and chill). Garnish with a cinnamon stick and freshly grated nutmeg.

Two Tuesdays ago, I met the call for the 151 Swizzle Challenge. The challenge was the rebirth of a series started by Instagrammer El Nova that fizzled out at the end of 2015, and he described this year's inaugural event as, "Here's the first challenge of 2019. The 151 Swizzle Challenge... The rules are simple. Make a 151 Swizzle using the original recipe or come up with your own mix. Hashtag it, post it up, but most of all make your swizzle shine. Cheers and good luck!" Since I had never had the original, I started with Don the Beachcomber's recipe (attributed to his bartender Tony Ramos) that Beachbum Berry shared in the Grog Log and Remixed books and later on his site, instead of making up my own or delving into the more spice-driven Mai Kai and Tiki-Ti versions. I probably passed over this recipe on numerous occasions for fear that the drink would come across as too hot, but it was time to experience it first hand. For the rum, I made use of an older Lemon Hart 151 rum circa 2012, and I utilized a swizzle stick to mix the drink instead of a blender.
The 151 Swizzle's garnishes offered up much of the nose with cinnamon and woody spice aromas. Next, lime and the rum's caramel mingled on the sip, and the swallow came through with rum, cherry wood, allspice, and anise flavors. While I was expecting the sip to be rather potent, the dilution through swizzling tamed this into a relatively easy to drink number (albeit with a surprising 2.8 oz equivalent of 80 proof spirit).

Monday, June 3, 2019

rum jumbie

1 1/2 oz Light Virgin Island or Puerto Rican Rum (2 oz Don Q Añejo)
2 oz Pineapple Juice
2 oz Orange Juice
1/2 oz Grenadine
1/2 oz Lime Juice

Stir with ice in a tall glass (whip shake, pour into a Tiki mug, fill with crushed ice, and garnish with a mint sprig).
Two Mondays ago, I wanted to make use of this season's mint that had reappeared along the boarder of my garden plot. Therefore, I delved into Trader Vic's 1972 Rum Cookery & Drinkery and found a drink, the Rum Jumbie, that seemed amenable to a mint sprig garnish. Overall, the combination came across like a more pineapple and orange juice-forward precursor of the 2002 Sven Tiki. Once mixed, the Rum Jumbie donated caramel and fruity aromas under the mint bouquet. Next, orange, lime, and pineapple swirled on the sip, and the swallow shared rum, berry, and pineapple flavors. Overall, the Rum Jumbie was not all that tricky and instead was rather refreshing.

Sunday, June 2, 2019


1 drink Dubonnet (2 oz)
2 dash Benedictine (1/2 oz)
2 slice Orange

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

Two Sundays ago, I began flipping through a digital copy of Jere Sullivan's 1930 The Drinks of Yesteryear: A Mixology that was a retrospective of drinks made before Prohibition. The book came up when I was searching for Dubonnet and Crème Yvette recipes when developing the Zaza d'la Whore recipe earlier in the week. Instead of the Lee Cocktail of equal parts gin, Dubonnet, and Crème Yvette in those pages, I was lured in by the Powhatan that had Dubonnet shaken with Benedictine and orange slices. Shaking with orange slices is something that has surfaced recently in drinks like Sam Ross' Too Soon?, but it also appeared a century before in recipes like Ensslin's Before the Bell. The Powhatan recipe was attributed as "A Virginia Congressman's creation," and Powhatan was the Indian chief that met the English settlers at Jamestown in 1607 and was the father of Pocahontas.
The Powhatan welcomed the nose with bright orange aromas over berry notes. Next, grape and cherry on the sip led into cherry, chocolate, orange, and minty herbal flavors on the swallow with an orange peel bitterness on the finish.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

perfect circle

1 1/2 oz Campari
1 1/2 oz Fino or Manzanilla Sherry (Lustau Fino)

Chill in a Collins glass in the freezer. Add 3 oz dry sparkling wine (Gloria Ferrer Brut), add ice, and garnish with an orange wheel (orange twist).
Two Saturday nights ago, we were drinking a bottle of sparkling wine with dinner. Andrea wondered if we should save the last glass for that night's cocktail, and I remembered a few champagne recipes in Maggie Hoffman's Batch Cocktails book. In that collection, I spotted a recipe from Paul McGee and Shelby Allison of Lost Lake that was not a tropical libation but a sherry riff on the Americano called the Perfect Circle, and I adapted the 8 serving pitcher drink to a single serving one listed above. In the glass, the Perfect Circle offered an orange and white wine bouquet to the nose. Next, a carbonated wine sip led into bitter orange followed by dry savory flavors on the swallow.