Wednesday, July 31, 2019

rx sour

3/4 oz Glenfiddich Fire & Cane Scotch
1 oz El Dorado 12 Year Rum
3/4 oz Pineapple Juice
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Simple Syrup

Shake with ice, strain into an up glass, and garnish with an edible flower, lime twist, and pineapple leaf.

Two Wednesdays ago, we ventured up to the Baldwin Bar in Woburn for I had just learned that Backbar-alum Dan Braganca had returned from his adventures in Baltimore and started working there. For a first drink, I requested the Rx Sour that Dan mentioned was created by Ran Duan; I neglected to ask if the name was somehow inspired by the Prescription Julep (the only similarities are the split base spirits and the sugar though). Once mixed, the Rx Sour shared a smoke, floral, and lime bouquet to the nose. Next, malt and pineapple played on the sip, and the swallow was all about the smoky Scotch with a solid backbone from the Demerara rum. We tried to figure out where the floral notes were stemming from, and we deduced that it was either from the Scotch and pineapple like in the Gory Guerrero or perhaps the Scotch and lime.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

st. nicholas manhattan

2 oz St. Nicholas Abbey 12 Year Rum (RL Seale 10 Year)
1 oz Cinzano Sweet Vermouth (Martini Grand Lusso)
2 oz Coconut Water
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Mix, chill in the freezer along with a coupe glass, pour into the coupe, and garnish with an orange twist.

Two Tuesdays ago for the cocktail hour, I reached for the Experimental Cocktail Club book and spotted the St. Nicholas Manhattan. This large format batched cocktail (that I adapted for a single serving above) was crafted by Julien "Papa Jules" Gualdoni at the Cliff Restaurant in Barbados. The drink called for a rum from St. Nicholas Abbey which is one of the last rum producers on Barbados that is tied to a functioning plantation instead of purchasing molasses from elsewhere; the historic space was renovated in 2006 and production began again. Since this pot-stilled rum is not only very expensive but hard to source, I figured that my R.L. Seale 10 Year from the other side of the island would be a good substitute (especially since he made that 12 year rum for them at the Four Square Distillery).
This Rum Manhattan riff greeted the nose with orange and grape aromas. Next, grape mingled with the coconut water notes on the sip, and the swallow proffered rum, coconut water's brininess, and the bitters' clove and allspice flavors.

Monday, July 29, 2019

monkey steals the peach

2 oz Gin (Beefeater)
1 oz Orange Juice
1/4 oz Crème de Peche (Briottet)
1/4 oz Campari
1/2 bsp Absinthe (Kübler)

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

While going through the blog posts to add tags for essays and seminars, I spotted the recipe for the Monkey Paw that added banana liqueur to the traditional Monkey Gland. I then thought about the peach liqueur in the Missionary's Downfall that I had tinkered with a few days prior, and my mind jumped to the phrase "monkey steals the peach" which is a caption to a move in Ninja Mind Control. While I have never seen the book itself, the two images and the description for that maneuver which will apparently cause a lethal amount of blood loss have circulated around the internet. Instead of just adding the liqueur in like with the Monkey Paw, I also changed the red element from grenadine to Campari, for Campari and peach pair rather well as I learned in Derek Brown's Bitter Peach and I later utilized in the Campeche aperitif.
The Monkey Steals the Peach attacked with an orange, anise, and pine bouquet. Next, the orange juice controlled the sip, and the swallow tore away with gin, peach, and orange flavors on the swallow with a celery-like finish.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

here's how zombie

3/4 oz Heavy Bodied Rum (RL Seale 10 Year)
3/4 oz Dark Puerto Rican Rum (Don Q Añejo)
3/4 oz Light Puerto Rican Rum (Privateer Silver)
3/4 oz Red Rum (Appleton Select)
1/2 oz Apricot Liqueur (Combier)
3/4 oz Pineapple Juice
Juice of 1 Lime (1 oz)
1 tsp Brown Sugar

Shake with ice, pour into a Zombie glass (Tiki mug), and top with ice. Float 151 proof rum (1/4 oz Plantation OFTD), and garnish with mint, pineapple (omit), and cherries (omit).

My freshman year of college, I was invited to Halloween party one Saturday night at a nearby fraternity. One of the best drinks of the event was a Zombie that I vividly recall being rather potent with pineapple and apricot being the most noteworthy flavors. By potent, I mean that I had four and then I stopped, but my roommate who arrived on his own had at least double that in less time and was a mess. We tried to get him to walk home with us, but he kept with his troublesome antics and darted. He did make it back to the room and later woke up with a black marker line down his face for his efforts (disclaimer: he was not the nicest of roommates). So with the teenage high jinks aside, my memory of the Zombie from 30 years ago was very specific and nothing like the mysterious spice hints of the 1934 classic Zombie. The Zombie that came closest to it was first published in 1941 in W.C. Whitfield's wood-covered Here's How that I mentioned in the Bath Salts post. While the Don the Beachcomber offering had a limitation of two per customer, this recipe was subtitled "one to a customer" despite being somewhat weaker in strength.
Whitfield's Zombie welcomed the senses with mint, funky overproof rum, and a fruity nose. Next, lime and the rums' caramel on the sip lumbered into rich rums, brown sugar-pineapple, and apricot flavors on the swallow. While made with better ingredients than the party one and not served in a plastic Solo cup, it was definitely less sweet and more citrus defined but rather similar in flavor.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

honi makai

1 1/2 oz Aged Rum (Appleton Select)
1/2 oz Overproof Rum (Stolen Jamaican Overproof)
3/4 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Orange Juice
1/4 oz Allspice Dram (Hamilton's)
1/4 oz Orgeat
1/4 oz Herbsaint

Shake with ice and strain into a double old fashioned glass (whip shake, pour into a Tiki mug, and fill with crushed ice). Garnish with a mint sprig, pineapple leaf (omit), and orange wheel.
Two Fridays ago, I returned to Clair McLafferty's The Classic & Craft Cocktail Recipe Book where I spotted the Honi Makai by Hadi Ktiri at Arnaud's French 75 in New Orleans. This tropical drink reminded me of the A Tale of Two Kitties with orange juice, Herbsaint, and a second rum thrown in the mix. Once prepared, the Honi Makai donated a mint, orange, and anise aroma to the nose. Next, lime and orange mingled on the sip, and the swallow proffered funky rum, anise, and allspice flavors. Overall, the Herbsaint's anise was rather strong, but if that is your thing (like it is ours), then you are in luck! After making the drink and posting it on Instagram, Hadi reached out to inquire how I enjoyed the drink. I replied that it definitely worked for us and I inquired as to what rums he had used given the vagueness of the book's recipe; he specified El Dorado 8 Year for the aged rum and Plantation OFTD as the overproof one.

Friday, July 26, 2019

northern lights

2 oz Malört (Jeppson's) (*)
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Passion Fruit Syrup
1/2 oz Honey Syrup
1 Egg White

Shake once without ice and once with ice, strain into a double old fashioned glass with crushed ice, and garnish with mint sprigs.
(*) Perhaps 1 oz each of Malort and Bourbon would work well here too for a slightly less bitter-herbal balance.

After seeing the recipes for the Port Light and Starboard Light in Trader Vic when I made the Pinky Pincher, I still had the structure in my head two days later. For some reason, I decided that instead of whisk(e)y, what if I were to replace the spirit with Malort? I might have made the connection when I misremembered making a riff of Nick Jarrett's Prizefighter that included Malort and passion fruit; in the end, those were two different drinks: the Cutman and the Cornerman, respectively. For a name, I was considering the Nordic Light akin to the Nordic Toddy, but the Northern Lights seemed rather nautical especially for boats a bit further north.
The Northern Lights welcomed the nose with mint and passion fruit aromas. Next, a creamy lemon and honey sip transitioned into a bitter herbal and passion fruit swallow. Overall, the egg white and honey worked to mollify the Malort's bitterness and the passion fruit seemed to modulate it into something a bit more fruity and pleasant.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

rum runner's downfall

1 1/4 oz White Rum (Uruapan Charanda)
3/4 oz 151 Proof Caribbean Rum (Don Q)
2 oz Pineapple Juice
1 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Banana Liqueur (Giffard Banane du Bresil)
1/2 oz Blackberry Liqueur (Marie Brizard)
1/2 oz Crème de Peche (Briottet)
8-10 leaf Mint
8 oz Crushed Ice

Blend with out ice to pulverize the mint leaves. Blend with ice for 10 seconds on high, pour into a 16 oz glass or Tiki mug, fill with crushed ice, and garnish with mint sprigs.

Two Wednesdays ago, the heat made me crave a blender drink, and my glorious mint patch made me wonder what I could do along the lines of the Missionary's Downfall. I had previously taken that drink in a Hawaiian direction with the Lili'uokalani's Downfall, but the overlapping rum, pineapple, lime, and fruit liqueur elements reminded me of the Rum Runner (not that specifically that recipe which Jeff Berry uncovered, but the one we did at River Bar last summer with equal parts of dark rum, white rum, pineapple juice, lime juice, crème de mûre, and crème de banane). When I merged the two, I left out the former's honey and latter's grenadine, and I was considering leaving out one of the fruit liqueurs. However, when I asked Andrea's opinion, she suggested leaving all three in there (I was considering leaving out the blackberry since I felt that it might dominate the flavor profile).
For a name, I kept things simple with the Rum Runner's Downfall which reminded me of the Franklin Bearse, a rum runner who met his downfall with a shotgun blast to the face. In the mug, the Rum Runner's Downfall donated a minty and berry bouquet to the nose. Next, lime, blackberry, and vegetal notes on the sip gave way to rum and banana flavors on the swallow with a peach and mint finish.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

pinky pincher

1 oz Bourbon (2 oz Old Grand Dad Bonded)
1/2 oz Orange Juice (3/4 oz)
1/2 oz Lemon Juice (3/4 oz)
1 dash Orgeat (1/2 oz)
1 dash Simple Syrup (1/4 oz)

Shake with ice and pour into a double old fashioned glass (whip shake, pour into a double old fashioned glass, and fill with crushed ice). Garnish with a thin orange slice and thin lemon slice (omit both) and a mint sprig.

Two Wednesdays ago, I selected Trader Vic's 1972 Bartender's Guide Revised for something a bit tropical. There, I latched on to the Pinky Pincher that was marked as a Trader Vic original, and the recipe reminded me of a Ward Eight with orgeat instead of the grenadine. I could not find a good explanation for the name other than it being in the same alliterative time era of Vic's along with drinks such as the Potted Parrot and Shingle Stain.
The Pinky Pincher offered up a mint aroma over Bourbon notes to the nose. Next, a creamy lemon and orange sip led into Bourbon and nutty orgeat on the swallow with a lemon and vanilla finish.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

zombie d'chambon

1 oz Daron Calvados (Boulard VSOP)
1 oz Plantation Rum (Plantation Original Dark)
1/2 oz Citadelle Gin (Tanqueray)
1/2 oz Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao
1/2 oz Mathilde Cassis (Massenez)
1/2 oz Mathilde Poire Liqueur
1 oz Pineapple Juice
1 oz Lime Juice
3/4 oz Orange Juice
4 dash Angostura Bitters

Shake with crushed ice, pour into a Tiki mug (Plantation Rum mug), and fill with crushed ice. Garnish with mint sprigs and orange slices (omit orange slices).
Two Tuesdays ago, I fielded a question about Zombie variations on Reddit and had thus taken out David Montgomery's Zombie Horde to find the answer. Since it was already out, I utilized it for the drink of the night which was the Zombie d'Chambon. This Zombie riff was crafted in 2012 by Brian Dressel of Austin's Midnight Cowboy in honor of Hugo Chambon Rothlisberger who was the brand ambassador for Pierre Ferrand back then. I was able to match a good number of the calls for Pierre Ferrand products, but alas, I had to utilize other spirits and liqueurs for this tribute. Once prepared, the Zombie d'Chambon yielded a mint bouquet over a dark berry nose. Next, lime, dark berry, and orange notes on the sip lurched into rum and apple flavors on the swallow with an orange and clove spice finish. Unfortunately, the cassis seemed to overtake most of the other flavors in the mix (I am not sure if Mathilde brand is lighter than Massenez or if this was intended).

Monday, July 22, 2019

:: staff bonding of the day ::

Adapted from an article published on the USBG National site November 2016.

The owners of one restaurant I worked at for better or for worse look to me as a role model and as a bridge between the bar staff and the rest of the front of the house. For the first many months after we opened, there was a decent divide between the two that was unfortunate since we pooled the house. We the bar did not help run their drinks and they did not help us with washing and polishing the glassware, for example. While not optimal, things moved along for a while until we came up with ideas to bridge the gap.

One of the solutions was to have the drink of day that one of the bartenders would come up with and explain in great detail to the servers. Some of the bartenders used this as testing grounds for new recipes that made my job easier to include them in the next menu change, so this was an added benefit. But even teaching servers about classics turned out to beincredibly useful since it gave them a better groundwork for drink basics and began them asking better questions. Classics afforded us the opportunity to explain drink families, cocktail and world history, and drink making theory. It paid dividends when the servers would sound more intelligent in their recommendations to their guests which in turn made the bar program shine since we were being utilized better. To include the servers even more, I would take requests for spirits and then narrow it down whether they wanted to learn about a straight spirits drink or a citrus-driven one. It kept me on my toes, but it allowed me to suggest things that either they or their guests preferred at the time. The whole process proved a great way to introduce the staff to more modern classics, and many of these became staff favorites to recommend like the Division Bell and Fort Washington Flip.

Another great bonding mechanism and a good way to learn about my coworkers was to begin asking the question of the day either at the slow part at the beginning of the service shift or in the middle of a lagging moment. I found that it made the less senior ones such as the server assistants feel important when you call them over and ask them for their input. Moreover, there was no playing favorites here for everyone gets asked.

Here are six of our most successful questions of the day:
• What non-aquatic bird is your favorite and why?
• What childhood viewed movie (seen 10 years old or before) that you revisited as an adult (18+) that is your new favorite from that era?
• Who is your favorite person at the circus and why?
• What is your favorite salad green?
• Which is your favorite imaginary or mythical creature and why?
• Which of the bottles back here would be your first grab in a bar fight?
I was reminded of the value of this exercise when I was too distracted to think up and ask a question, and some one inquired pleadingly if there will be a question of the day. Some of the questions are still being debated to this day especially the melee weapon bottle question, and Rick Dobbs of the Last Word had fun with it on Facebook after I told him about it when he visited Boston. Feel free to add your own question ideas to the comments below.

On Sunday nights at that location, the business and hence the money were lower, but it became one of the more fought over shifts. In one way, you can feel like you are at your guest-pampering best due to the amount of time you can spend with the guests, and it did not hurt that management and the kitchen have started sending out bonus dishes to make the nightmore pleasurable. But adding a theme greatly helped. The summer before that one, we did a theme of Yacht Rock Sundays that made the two Sunday night servers with a great interest in that musical genre rather happy. We began wearing Hawaiian shirts (actually, due to those nights, I continued to do so on other nights as my wardrobe has expanded) and I conjured up a special drink menu each week of 8 drinks or so named after the songs. For the 2-3 new drinks each week, I solicited requests from the servers as well as the kitchen, and there was definitely an excitement to see whose drink name won out that week. Would it be Chef’s epic duet of Kenny Loggins and Steve Perry’s “Don’t Fight It” envisioned as a Gin Swizzle or would it be one of the servers request for a drink named the “Danger Zone”? Another popular Sunday was Cowboy Sunday with a soundtrack laden with Johnny Cash and Dolly Parton and with cowboy shirts and other accouterments to add accent. Even without a dress up aspect, a theme like Sinatra Sunday can change the way the restaurant feels especially if your playlist is otherwise typically in a narrow range.

True, I have been part of bar staffs where drinking behind the bar was the major form of staff bonding, but that definitely left out the servers. And the establishment I just described was not the proper one to have those sorts of safety meetings that seem to work better at industry and party bars. Since none of the above acts include drinking (other than tasting the drink of the day), the management had generally been behind each of them. And they were pleased with the greater ties between the various aspects of the front of the house and how well it has translated into a more pleasant experience for the guests.

del rio

1 1/2 oz Blanco Tequila (Lunazul)
3/4 oz Manzanilla Sherry (Lustau Fino)
3/4 oz Elderflower Liqueur (St. Elder)
2-3 dash Angostura Orange Bitters

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with a grapefruit twist.
Two Tuesdays ago, I reached for Clair McLafferty's The Classic & Craft Cocktail Recipe Book and spotted the Del Rio by the Bon Vivants' Scott Baird. The combination reminded me of John Gertsen's Means of Preservation but with tequila and a dry sherry instead of gin and dry vermouth. Once prepared, the Del Rio welcomed the senses with a grapefruit oil, tequila, and floral aroma. Next, a melon-like fruit note on the sip from the elderflower liqueur gave way to tequila, floral, and savory notes from the fino on the swallow.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

riddles in the dark

1 1/2 oz Rye Whiskey (Rittenhouse Bonded)
3/4 oz Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth (Martini Grand Lusso)
1/2 oz Pedro Ximenez Sherry (Oxford 1970)
1/4 oz Nardini Amaro
1/2 tsp Rothman & Winter Orchard Cherry (Cherry Heering)
8 drop Bitter End Moroccan Bitters (Jerry Thomas Decanter)

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

After paying homage to the 10 year anniversary of Rogue Cocktails, I picked up the edited successor, Beta Cocktails, which had just turned 8 years old. There, I was drawn in by Riddles in the Dark by Al Sotack when he was at the Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co. in Philadelphia. Interestingly, Al now co-owns Jupiter Disco in Brooklyn with the book's author Maks Pazuniak, and this cocktail appeared on a recent menu there. The drink name is a reference to The Hobbit where Gollum challenged Bilbo with said word games, and the book described things as, "We could wax poetic on the harmony and narrative of the cocktail, or we could point out that it tastes like an oatmeal raisin cookie."
Riddles in the Dark greeted the nose with lemon oil over raisin aromas. Next, grape with a hint of cherry on the sip led into rye, raisin, and herbal bitter flavors on the swallow.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

army navy grog

1 oz London Dry Gin (Beefeater)
1 oz Demerara Rum (El Dorado 5 Year)
1 oz Dark Jamaican Rum (Coruba)
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
3/4 oz Lime Juice
3/4 oz Honey Syrup
3/4 oz Orgeat
3 dash Angostura Bitters

Shake with ice, strain into a double old fashioned glass, and fill with crushed ice. Garnish with a lemon twist.
Two Saturdays ago, I decided to make another drink that I had spotted on the Modern Tiki site. That recipe was a mashup of the Army & Navy that first appeared in David Embury and Don the Beachcomber's Navy Grog minus the grapefruit juice that they dubbed the Army Navy Grog. Once prepared, the Grog donated a lemon and caramel bouquet to the nose. Next, a creamy lemon, lime, honey, and caramel sip saluted a dark rum, earthy-nutty, pine, clove, and allspice flavored swallow.

Friday, July 19, 2019

east somerville sour

2 oz Bourbon (Old Granddad Bonded)
1/2 oz Apricot Liqueur (Combier)
1/4 oz Orgeat
1/4 oz Simple Syrup
1 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Orange Juice

Shake with ice and pour into a double old fashioned glass (whip shake, pour into a double old fashioned glass, and fill with crushed ice). Garnish with a cherry-orange slice flag.
The Eastern Sour riff that I made a lot last summer at River Bar was the East Somerville Sour that reduced the orange juice volume and replaced it with apricot liqueur. The apricot also worked to bolster the nutty aspect in the Giffard Orgeat we were using. I have traced that apricot-orgeat duo to at least the 1930s with the Yellow Mist from the Café Royal Cocktail Book, and I was inspired that summer to utilize it in the Hiva Oa. Once prepared with my orgeat (made from almonds and not almond extract like Giffard), the East Somerville Sour donated an orange and whiskey aroma with hints of apricot and orgeat's nuttiness on the nose. Next, lemon, orange, and a hint of creaminess from the orgeat on the sip led into Bourbon, apricot, and almond flavors on the swallow. Overall, it was not too dissimilar to the classic Eastern Sour but with less of an effect from the orange juice which took over the original's taste profile.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

eastern sour

2 oz Bourbon or Rye (Old Granddad Bonded Bourbon)
2 1/2 oz Orange Juice
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1/4 oz Orgeat
1/4 oz Simple Syrup

Shake with crushed ice, pour into a double old fashioned glass, and garnish with spent orange and lemon shells.

After having enjoyed the Seahorse, I decided the next day to visit the Eastern Sour that was the inspiration for the drink. The recipe that I went with was Beachbum Berry's presentation in Remixed of the 1950s Trader Vic classic. I later found the drink in Trader Vic's 1972 Bartender Guide Revised (it was absent from Trader Vic's 1974 Rum Cookery & Drinkery though where I looked before picking up Remixed), and that recipe was very similar except the sweeteners were a dash each of orgeat and rock candy syrup, the juices were specified as 1/2 of a lemon and 1/2 of an orange, and there was a fruit stick and mint garnish in addition to the spent citrus shells.
The Eastern Sour welcomed the nose with Bourbon, orange, and nutty aromas. Next, orange, lemon, and malt on the sip gave way to Bourbon and a hint of almond on the swallow. As the ice melted a little, the Bourbon's heat subsided and the orange juice notes began to take over the flavor profile.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

the seahorse

1 1/2 oz Bourbon (Old Granddad Bonded)
1/4 oz Allspice Dram (Hamilton's)
1/2 oz Orange Juice
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
3/4 oz Simple Syrup
2 dash Orange Bitters (Regan's)

Shake with ice, strain into rocks glass (small Tiki mug), and fill with crushed ice. Garnish with mint sprigs and freshly grated cinnamon.
Two Wednesdays ago, I visited the Modern Tiki website and spotted a post for the Seahorse. The drink was their riff on the Eastern Sour with spice elements that reminded me of a Lion's Tail. Once assembled, the Seahorse proffered mint and cinnamon notes over Bourbon and allspice aromas. Next, orange, lemon, and malt swam on the sip, and the swallow curled up with Bourbon and allspice flavors.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

barbadian gin punch swizzle

2 oz Genever (Bols)
2 oz Coconut Water
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Rich Demerara Syrup (3/4 oz 1:1)
2 dash Angostura Bitters, optional (included)

Build in a tall glass, fill with crushed ice, swizzle to mix and chill, and garnish with a lime wheel.

Two Tuesdays ago, I continued on with my coconut water recipes with a gem found in Imbibe Magazine. Drink historian David Wondrich wrote about some of the various punches found throughout the Caribbean in the 17th-19th centuries; while most of them were rum-based libations due to the abundance of the local spirit, he discovered that the Dutch utilized their home liquor of Genever through an 1876 travel book West India Pickles by William Talboys. Talboys was served a bowl of punch using Holland gin at a local planter's house in Barbados, and the spirit had been brought over by Dutch traders that were doing business throughout the Caribbean. Wondrich provided a recipe for this punch, but I was more taken by his single serving-sized Swizzle incorporating all of the drink elements.
The Barbadian Gin Punch Swizzle donated lime aromas over malt and coconut water notes to the nose. Next, lime and salinity from the coconut water on the sip led into malty Genever, wormwood, and clove flavors on the swallow.

Monday, July 15, 2019

arkansas traveler

1/2 Rye Whiskey (1 1/2 oz Old Overholt)
1/3 French Vermouth (1 oz Dolin Blanc)
1/6 Grapefruit Juice (1/2 oz)
1 dash Orange Bitters (Regan's)

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass; I added a grapefruit twist.
Two Mondays ago, I delved into Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars: 1903-1933 and spotted the Arkansas Traveler. After having the Brown Derby on my mind after trying the Santa Barbara from Boothby, I envisioned this similar in balance if the French vermouth were blanc instead of dry. Once prepared, the Arkansas Traveler gave forth a rye and grapefruit bouquet to the nose. Next, a semi-dry white wine and grapefruit sip moved along to a rye and floral swallow with a slightly bitter finish from the grapefruit and barrel-aged notes.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

watermelon negroni

(a.) 1 oz Campari
1 oz Watermelon Juice
(b.) 1 oz London Dry Gin (Beefeater)
1 oz Sweet Vermouth (Martini Grand Lusso)

Freeze the Campari and watermelon juice (2 cubes, will not completely freeze solid) in advance. Add the cubes, gin, and vermouth to a rocks glass, stir, and garnish with a lemon twist.

Since it was the last night of Negroni Week and I was still on my watermelon kick, I searched for "watermelon Negroni" and found a recipe from food writer Alton Brown. I modified the recipe to be equal parts of the four ingredients as well as altering the preparation. I was bothered that I could not get my Campari-watermelon ice cubes to look as solid as Alton's, so I did the math. With Campari and watermelon being 22° and 7.8° Brix, respectively, that averaged out to around 15° Brix for the mixture; American Campari (yes, we get a lower proof than Europe) is 24% ABV, so that averaged out to 12% ABV for the combination. As I learned at Daren Swisher's frozen drinks class, the perfect alcoholic slushee will be between 12-15° Brix and 12-15% ABV; hence, solid cubes would not physically be possible at standard freezer temperatures. I was okay with the cubes being semi-solid for it provided an adequate amount of cooling with no additional dilution (the only dilution of the Negroni was by the watermelon juice). Also, this caused me to ask my wife if Alton was one of those food writers that tell you that caramelized onions take only 10 minutes to prepare.
My version of the Watermelon Negroni donated lemon oil over a fruity nose. Next, the vermouth's grape paired up with the watermelon on the sip, and the swallow proffered the gin and the intriguing melding of watermelon with Campari's bitter orange to make an almost watermelon candy-like flavor.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

pharaoh cooler

1 1/2 oz Blanco Tequila (Lunazul)
1 oz Watermelon Juice
3/4 oz Grenadine
1/2 oz Lime Juice
4 drop Rose Flower Water

Shake with ice, strain into a Collins glass with ice, and top with 1 oz soda water.

The other watermelon recipe in the PDT Cocktail Book was the Pharaoh Cooler that made me think of a watermelon-laced carbonated Mexican Firing Squad. Jack McGarry of Dead Rabbit fame created this drink when he was at the Merchant in Belfast and came over to the states for Tales of the Cocktail in 2009. Before he traveled down to New Orleans, he visited New York City and spent a night bartending at PDT. The book described how Jack "named the drink after the mythic Egyptian origins of watermelon seeds," and the PDT staff was so impressed by the result that they put it on the menu.
The watermelon element was joined by the tequila and rose water aromas on the nose. Next, a carbonated berry and lime sip led into tequila and watermelon flavors on the swallow. Andrea summed it up by declaring, "Mmm... that's summertime in a glass."

Friday, July 12, 2019

melon stand

2 oz Plymouth Gin (Tanqueray)
1 oz Watermelon Juice
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Aperol
1/2 oz Simple Syrup

Shake with ice, strain into a Collins glass with pebble ice (cocktail coupe without ice), and garnish with 3 watermelon balls on a pick (one watermelon chunk on the edge).

Two Fridays ago, I found myself at Haymarket after renewing my driver's license at the RMV. Among all of the produce, what caught my eye were the mini-watermelons; given the price and their size, it seemed quite worth lugging one home. For a drink, I spotted two recipes in Jim Meehan's PDT Cocktail Book, and the first one I made was the Melon Stand by Jane Danger circa 2008. The book provided the brief history of, "Danger named this drink after her Minnesota dream bar, Jane's Sweet Melon Stand." Tom Sandham's World's Best Cocktails also contained the recipe and provided a little more information through a quote from Jim Meehan, "This is Jane Danger's nod to Milk & Honey bartender Michael McIlroy and Richard Boccatto's Archangel, and Pegu Club owner Audrey Saunders' Intro to Aperol."
The garnish supplemented the fresh watermelon aroma on the nose. Next, watermelon and lemon mingled on the sip, and the swallow offered up gin, more watermelon, and a lightly bitter orange flavor from the Aperol. Overall, it was rather summery and light with just enough complexity from the Aperol to keep things interesting.

Thursday, July 11, 2019


1 1/2 oz El Dorado 3 Year White Rum (Privateer Tres Aromatique)
1/2 oz Giffard Banane du Bresil
1 1/2 oz Coconut Water
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1 oz Orgeat

Shake with ice, strain into a Hurricane-type glass, fill with crushed ice, and garnish with a lime wheel and freshly grated nutmeg.
In my search for coconut water cocktails, I spotted the Kokomo on the BarNotes app that seemed like a great Tiki drink (and distinct from the other Kokomo on the blog). This Kokomo was created by Shawn Vergara in 2014 at Blackbird in San Francisco. Once prepared, the drink offered up woody spice and lime aromas that combined into a floral note. Next, a creamy lime sip led into rum, nutty almond, and coconut water flavors on the swallow with a banana finish.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

skull & bones

1 1/2 oz 151 Proof Demerara Rum (Lemon Hart)
1/2 oz Gold Puerto Rican Rum (Don Q Añejo)
3/4 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Passion Fruit Syrup
1/2 oz Grenadine
6 drop Herbsaint or Pernod (St. George Absinthe)
1 dash Angostura Bitters
8 oz crushed ice

Blend all but the ice to mix, blend with ice for 5 seconds at high speed, and pour into a skull mug or a double old fashioned glass. Top with crushed ice. I garnished with a bouquet of chocolate mint sprigs.

After seeing the call for the Skull & Bones Challenge on Instagram, I set about to research the drink. Previously, I had written up Jason Alexander's take on the Skull & Bones which came across like a spiced version of the Shrunken Skull (see the Skull & Bones link for a bit of the history). After Jason had come up with that recipe, Beachbum Berry uncovered an 1960s recipe crafted by a Don the Beachcomber's bartender, namely Tony Ramos, and published in Berry's 10th Anniversary Sippin' Safari book. The combination reminded me of the Fiji Mermaid with the grenadine and passion fruit syrups and the Jet Pilot-esque 6 drops of Herbsaint and a dash of Angostura Bitters for spices. The duo of passion fruit and grenadine also pops up in drinks like the Pahoehoe and the Cobra's Fang. Once blended and served, the Skull & Bones' garnish offered up mint aromas over the fruity nose. Next, lime, berry, and tropical notes on the sip flipped into rum, cherry, passion fruit, and spice flavors on the swallow.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

green isaac's negroni

1 oz London Dry Gin (Beefeater)
1 oz Sweet Vermouth (Martini Grand Lusso)
1 oz Campari
4 oz Coconut Water
3/4 oz Lime Juice
2 dash Angostura Bitters

Shake with ice, strain into a Collins glass, fill with ice, and garnish with a lime wheel or wedge.

One of the coconut water drinks that kept popping into my head was the Green Isaac's Special that was a modified Tom Collins of sorts with bitters which Ernest Hemingway came up with during his time in Key West in the 1930s. It first appeared in his Islands in the Stream and was named after the islands in question that are north of Bimini. Since it was Negroni Week, I wondered if the two classics could be mashed up, and I was curious how the coconut water's salinity would affect Campari's bitterness.
The Green Isaac's Negroni's freshly cut garnish welcomed the senses with a lime aroma. Next, grape and briny coconut water notes on the sip led into gin, orange, and clove flavors on the swallow. Indeed, the coconut water's salt content neutralized Campari's bitterness and let the liqueur's orange aspect shine similar to the pinch of salt in the Camparipolitan.

Monday, July 8, 2019

chien chaud

2 oz Coconut Water
1 1/2 oz JM Rhum Agricol Blanc (Rhum Clement)
1/4 oz Yellow Chartreuse
2 dash Angostura Bitters

Shake with ice, strain into a Fizz glass, and garnish with a lime wheel.
In continuing my search for coconut water recipes, I delved into the PDT Cocktail Book and turned up two cocktails. The one that called out to me was the Chien Chaud that the book's author Jim Meehan created with David Wondrich in 2008. Jim wrote, "After driving past a hotdog stand in Martinique, David Wondrich and I came up with this drink whose name means hotdog in French." With a slight 'Ti Punch feel to it, I was game to give it a go. Once prepared, the Chien Chaud donated a lime, grassy, and cinnamon bouquet to the nose. Next, a mellow sip with coconut water notes led into grassy and herbal flavors on the swallow with an allspice and coconut water finish.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

:: a 10 year retrospective on the rogue/beta cocktails books ::

When Andrea and I traveled down to New Orleans for Tales of the Cocktail the first time in 2009, we went to Cure that first night on the Tuesday before things got underway. The Cure had just opened a few months before in February of 2009, and it had already attracted the attention of the cocktail intelligentsia. I started my night off with the Art of Choke made at the hands of Maksym Pazuniak, and I enjoyed it so much that I bought a copy of Rogue Cocktails from Maks that he and Kirk Estopinal had just put out. The front cover touted, "A meticulously edited guide to rare and unusual cocktails, vintage and contemporary, classic and original." By page 3, they launched into a manifesto that began with "Fellow bartenders and cocktail aficionados, the international cocktail renaissance is in danger of falling into a state of discontent and stagnation... It's time to surprise our customers and each other with something that challenges the palate, not just soothes it with familiar and balanced flavors."

The book then retorted that if you did not feel like reading the manifesto, they offered a softer list of philosophy. The first two points (and the fifth) were very influential when I conceived and wrote my Drink & Tell: A Boston Cocktail Book. The first was that a bartender should be able to make the majority of the drinks without visiting a farmers market or having access to molecular mixology tools. True, there are some obscure ingredients that not every bar or home will have, but they should endeavor to carry them. The second was that drink prep should be limited to juicing without needing to make difficult syrups, tinctures, infusions, and foams; such difficult drinks were considered "drink porn" when put into cocktail guides. These first two points were bolstered by the book's opening quote by Kingsley Amis, "More practically, you will waste a lot of time -- unless of course you are simply using your drinks manual as dipsography, the alcoholic equivalent of pornography -- reading about concoctions that call for stuff you simply have not got at hand." Points three and four were that the recipes ought to be reproducible and that not everyone will love the results (although a good number will). Number five was that Rogue Cocktails was a complement to books that contain the classics. They did not feel the need to take up space to offer the Sazerac or basic technique tutorials (which was critical since the book is only 40 pages long). Despite the fourth declaring that the drinks were not for everyone, the sixth pointed out that while the recipes may be complex and different, they need to taste good; they need to make some people rather happy. The final point was that the "roots of this book lie within the culture of the 19th century cocktails... the ingredients may be different, but the techniques certainly are not."
In my bringing together recipes from the Boston world for my 2012 book as well as the second compendium, Boston Cocktails: Drunk & Told in 2017, there were many drinks that fit into this edgy category. Some that pop into my head immediately were John Gertsen's abstraction of the Pegu Club called the Mission of Burma, Ryan Lotz's rethinking of the Martinez into The Fritz, and Tom Schlesinger-Guidelli's reformulation of the Bijou into the tequila and Picon Jaguar (my first exposure in 2007 to the fact that tequila could be utilized in a stirred drink). None of these drinks require a fancy syrup or infusion, all of them pushed boundaries yet were rather enjoyable, and all use common ingredients (save for Amer Picon in the Jaguar, but that was still available in Boston when the drink came out and we bought a bottle for our home bar from that lot). Moreover, none of these amazing experiences involved fancy garnishes: all of them had citrus oils with only one of them being dropped into the drink.

The last point is where I see the major shift over the last 10 years: presentation. While cell phones certainly had cameras in 2009, the social networking avenues were limited. Instagram was not even founded until 2010, and it did not even begin to catch on until around the time when Facebook purchased the app in 2013. I did not even post on the app until July 2014 (I had downloaded it before that since Twitter impeded Instagram images from coming through the feed in an effort to thwart Facebook, and since I had downloaded it, I eventually I began using it). Somewhere around 2015, the cocktail world began to change. Soon, it was less about the flavors and unique combinations, and more about the vessel, the intricate garnish, the tiny wooden clothespin to hold the garnish, the hand-hewn ultraclear ice, and the presentation. The drink combinations more resembled basic drinks such as a Daiquiri with a botanical or two infused into the syrup and/or spirit; however, the local food media touted these drinks and bartenders as the hottest things for they were eye candy and articles about them drove web traffic. Some places like the Baldwin Bar and Backbar were able to combine the two with well thought out mixtures of ingredients and well composed presentations, but that seemed more like a minority. Around this same time came the period of "peak orchid" where non-Tiki bars were throwing hothouse-grown edible flowers onto every drink for it looked great on Instagram. However, they began to look like every other drink with an orchid on top, and it added considerably to the cost of the drink. In 2009, the average cocktail in Boston was about $8-10; in 2014, it was $10-12; and in 2019, it seems to be $12-17. Having a great looking drink does indeed lessen the impact of having to pay double for a cocktail a decade later.

Rogue Cocktails was forced to change their name by Rogue Spirits, and they came out with Beta Cocktails as a 'zine in 2010 (reminiscent of the punk and indie rock ones I collected in the 1990s) and as a book in 2011. The quotes in the new book had changed such as opening with Charles Bukowski instead of Kingsley Amis via "Boring damned people. All over the earth. Propagating more boring damned people. What a horror show. The earth swarmed with them." David Wondrich got in on the act by providing a foreword where he described how he was so used to books amusing him with "interesting stories and snappy prose. I don't expect much from the recipe part... the classic ones are drawn from the same old books I've got and the new, creative ones are made with ingredients I don't have access to or techniques I'm too lazy to employ." Needless to say, Wondrich was pleased to write a foreword to the rebirth of the book concept through Beta Cocktails. The manifesto was gone from print with an introduction in its place. It reiterated some of the points, and perhaps softened some of them hoping that the recipes would speak for themselves and would get you to think about cocktails in a different way. If it did not get you to reconsider drinks and techniques or at least offer an ace up the sleeve when a guest asked for something different "then it will probably fit in with the rest of your modern cocktail book collection (gathering dust)."

The punk rock feel of the brash cocktail recipe that works (albeit not for beginner palates) is a lot harder to find these day. The two camps that seem to have sprung up are the aestheticians and the hospitalitarians. I have already covered the former, but the latter I am quite pleased with. With this, you can get a good cold cocktail served with a garnish of warm hospitality. I remember when Pegu Blog Doug visited me the last time from Ohio, and I took him to a bar that morphed into an image-driven one with fancy straws and plastic flowers for garnish. The drinks were definitely solid, but after our first round, I suggested that we move to an old school cocktail establishment nearby. There, they did not double strain their drinks, and garnishes were generally not fancier than a rough-hewn Y-peeled citrus swath or an orange slice moon; however, that was where we stayed for three or four rounds. The hospitality and lack of pretense allowed us to focus on catching up and talking about the world. The drinks were balanced, showed respect to cocktail history, and were on the low side for cocktail prices out there. It felt like home, and we stayed. True, I Instagrammed the hell out of my one drink at the other place, but I fondly recall the moments spent at the last. When John Gertsen gave his seminal "it's not what's in the glass" TedX Talk in 2010, I was rather skeptical especially after some of the delights that he had crafted such as the flaming until extinguished Krakatoa, but later I came to understand it. Hospitality does suffer when the drinks take too long to make and the tools take too long to wash and reset. Michael Neff pointed this out at his talk at Tiki by the Sea with his "I make the best paper airplane" demonstration. The Rogue/Beta Cocktails tie in is that the drinks in those books frequently do not take more time than other cocktails to make, but it can impart that extra level of humanity to the guest who is craving something unique while not taking away from the time spent on treating the rest of the guests well.

It's now 2019, and I see a lot more effort in the media spent on which Old Fashioned or Hemingway Daiquiri recipe specs are the best. There is a lot more fine tuning of the classics than pushing of the boundaries. The boundaries that are being pushed are what garnishes, clear ice, and vessels are being used to the point that they may cost more than the ingredients to make the drink itself. Cocktail competitions that favor imagination and the like are seemingly rewarding the story and the presentation over the flavor and ingredient combination thought process. At my last visit to the Cure in 2017, they were definitely still pushing out inventive cocktails, but it makes me wonder if the Rogue Manifesto back in 2009 was important to get the next wave of bars to be noticed as "world class" before that died away to the power of the camera's eye.

antilles jewel

500 mL Aged Barbados Rum (2 1/2 oz RL Seale 10 Year)
250 mL Aged Demerara Rum (1 1/4 oz El Dorado 5 Year)
200 mL Banana Liqueur (1 oz Giffard)
100 mL White Crème de Cacao (1/2 oz Bols)
250 mL Coconut Water (1 1/4 oz)
350 mL Lime Juice (1 3/4 oz)

Combine, stir, refrigerate, and add to a punch bowl over a large ice block (whip shake, pour into a Tiki bowl, and fill with crushed ice). Garnish with citrus wheels and edible flowers (citrus wheel and mint sprig).
To find another tropical use of the coconut water, I delved into Shannon Mustipher's Tiki: Modern Tropical Cocktails and spotted the Antilles Jewel. The punch's name perhaps references Haiti (then Saint-Domingue) which in the 17th century was known as the "Jewel of the Antilles" for being the most prosperous colony in the world due to it producing 80% of the world's sugar. Once prepared, the Antilles Jewel welcomed the senses with banana and mint aromas. Next, lime, caramel, and a salty coconut water sip transitioned into rum, banana, and chocolate flavors on the swallow.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

scotch and coconut

1 oz Scotch Whisky (Famous Grouse)
1 oz Aged Rum (RL Seale 10 Year)
1/2 oz Coconut Water
1/4 oz Dry Curaçao (Pierre Ferrand)
1 bsp Demerara Syrup
2 dash Mole Bitters (Bittermens)

Stir with ice and strain into a rocks glass with a large coconut water ice cube.

In continuing on with my coconut water recipe list given the ingredient's short lifespan, I opted for the Scotch and Coconut cocktail by Nick Detrich at Cane & Table in New Orleans. I found this recipe on Imbibe Magazine, and I was able to confirm it from a perhaps earlier post on Tuxedo No. 2. That earlier post did not contain the half ounce of coconut water in the stir, but it suggested adding a splash to get the coconut water integrated into the drink earlier; perhaps the recipe was created that way, and without the New Orleans heat, the full effect would take longer to achieve. That post recommended a less smoky Scotch and suggested that there was wide flexibility in the rum; the Cane & Table menu that I found listed Monkey Shoulder Scotch and Don Q Grand Añejo as the spirits. Moreover, it provided the back story of, "Scotch, rum, and coconut are a popular combination in Puerto Rico. We took some license and combined them in an Old-Fashioned format with a coconut water ice ball.(Adapted from Five Years in the West Indies, 1843)."
The Scotch and Coconut greeted the nose with the rum's caramel. Next, the caramel continued on into the sip where it mingled with the salty coconut water notes, and the swallow combined Scotch, rum, and orange flavors.

Friday, July 5, 2019

monk's respite

1 1/2 oz Broker's Gin (Beefeater)
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/4 oz Honey Syrup
1/4 oz Yellow Chartreuse
3 oz Coconut Water
1 dash Orange Bitters (Regan's)
1 oz Seltzer Water

Flash blend with crushed ice and pour into a coconut shell (shake all but the seltzer with ice, strain into a coconut Tiki mug with the seltzer, and fill with crushed ice). Garnish with a mint sprig and an orchid (mint sprig and ornamental pea blossoms).
Two Friday's ago, I bought coconut water at the store and later sought out recipes to utilize them. Feeling the Tiki mood, I selected from my list Steven Liles' Monk's Respite that he crafted at Smuggler's Cove in San Francisco via Imbibe Magazine. I checked back with the Smuggler's Cove book and discovered that the book had no garnish listed (though an orchid in the photo), but Imbibe had a mint sprig and orchid. Once prepared, the Monk's Respite delivered a mint over lemon and coconut water bouquet to the nose. Next, a slightly carbonated lemon and coconut water sip led into a gin and herbal swallow.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

the hazard

40 mL Rittenhouse Rye Whiskey (1 oz + 2 tsp)
20 mL Cognac (1/2 oz + 1 tsp Courvoisier VS)
10 mL Benedictine (2 tsp)
5 mL Maple Syrup (1 tsp)
2 dash Chocolate Bitters (Bittermens)

Stir with ice, strain into a double old fashioned glass, and garnish with a cherry.

While researching the Rapscallion that I found in the PDT Cocktail Book, I found a site called the Cocktails of Copenhagen that provided a little extra information. I soon found myself flipping through the drinks on that site and found the Hazard that was crafted by Jiri Malis at Gilt in Denmark. The recipe's combination of maple and Benedictine is one that has worked rather well in Misty Kalkofen's Fort Washington Flip and Teardrop Lounge's A New Hope, so I was curious to try this Old Fashioned-Vieux Carré hybrid.
The Hazard proffered a brandy aroma to the nose that led into a rich mouthfeel from the maple syrup on the sip. Next, rye's spice, Cognac's roundness, and Benedictine's herbal flavors filled the sip that ended with a maple finish.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

santa barbara

1/2 jigger Whiskey (2 oz Four Roses Bourbon)
1/4 jigger Grapefruit Juice (1 oz)
2 dash Apricot Brandy (1/4 oz Combier)
2 dash Simple Syrup (1/4 oz)

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass; I garnished with a grapefruit twist.

Wednesday two weeks ago, I sought out William Boothby's 1934 World Drinks & How to Mix Them and uncovered the Santa Barbara. The recipe reminded me of the Brown Derby with apricot liqueur and simple syrup in place of that classic's honey syrup, so I opted for Bourbon as the whiskey as well as utilizing one of the common recipe skeletons for that drink. After I made it, I was curious if something similar appeared in Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars: 1903-1933 given its collection of grapefruit Sours, and indeed, the Quebec was very similar with only apricot brandy as the sweetener plus a dash of orange bitters.
The Santa Barbara welcomed the senses with a grapefruit, Bourbon, and apricot aroma. Next, the grapefruit joined the malt notes on the sip, and the swallow showcased the whiskey plus an apricot flavor pleasantly modulated by the grapefruit juice.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

age of reason

2 oz Michter's Rye
1/2 oz Pierre Ferrand Cognac Ambre (Courvoisier VS)
1/2 oz Cocchi Americano
1+ bsp Green Chartreuse
1+ bsp Yellow Chartreuse
10 drop Tiki Bitters (Bittercube Jamaica #2)

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with a lemon twist.
Two Tuesdays ago, I spotted Gary Regan's 101 Best New Cocktails 2012 and decided to give it a look over after all these years. There, I was lured in by Han Shan's Age of Reason that he crafted at the B-Side in New York City before moving on to sell whiskey with William Grant. It was his tribute to Thomas Paine's 1794 work, and he thus utilized French and American ingredients; when Regan made the drink, he compared it to a Vieux Carré which is apt given New Orleans' French and American influences. In the glass, the Age of Reason donated a lemon oil and herbal aroma to the nose. Next, malt mingled with white grape on the sip, and the swallow proffered rye and brandy flavors with Green Chartreuse's herbal notes coming through on the finish.

Monday, July 1, 2019

baron of brooklyn

1 1/2 oz Cachaça (Seleta Gold)
1 1/2 oz Tawny Port (Sandeman)
1/2 oz Crème de Banana (Giffard)
1/2 oz Suze Gentian Liqueur
1 dash Angostura Bitters
1 dash Mole Bitters (Bittermens)

Stir with ice, strain into a snifter (double old fashioned glass) with a large ice cube, and garnish with a lemon horse's neck twist.
One of the recipes in Doni Belau's Paris Cocktails that caught my eye was not from Paris or even Europe, but it was from America from the French-inspired Maison Premiere in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Despite the disparate ingredients of cachaça, port, gentian liqueur, and banana liqueur in the Baron of Brooklyn, the end result was rather elegant. In the glass, the drink let go a lemon, dark grape, and banana bouquet to the nose. Next, a sweet grape sip transitioned into funky cachaça, fruity banana, and complex gentian flavors with a cinnamon and allspice finish.