Saturday, November 30, 2019

red morning light

1 1/2 oz Scotch (Cutty Sark Prohibition)
1/2 oz Campari
1/2 oz Dry Vermouth (Noilly Prat)
1/2 oz Coffee Liqueur (Kahlua)
2 dash Bittermens Mole Bitters

Stir with ice, strain into a double old fashioned glass with a large ice cube, spritz with smoky Scotch (several drops Laphroaig 10 Year), and garnish with an orange twist.
After getting home from work two Saturday nights ago, I spotted the bookmarked copy of the November/December 2019 Imbibe Magazine and opened up to the Red Morning Light. That recipe was crafted by Tonia Guffey-Stamper at The Kitchen at Atomic in Las Vegas; Tonia recently headed out to Vegas to open her own spot after honing her craft in such New York watering holes as Dram, Flatiron Lounge, and Lani Kai. Here, this Scotch Negroni reminded me of similar coffee-tinged ones like the Lodge Negroni, Lonnie Desoto, and Sailor's Negroni, so I figured that it would make a great way to wrap up the evening. Once prepared, the Red Morning Light donated an orange and peat smoke bouquet to the nose. Next, malt and roast notes on the sip rose to Scotch, coffee, and bitter orange flavors on the swallow with a chocolate finish.

Friday, November 29, 2019

alley cat

2 oz Citadelle Gin (Tanqueray)
1/2 oz Benedictine
2 dash Orange Bitters (Regan's)

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with an orange twist to mimic a cat's tail over the side of the glass.
Two Fridays ago, I reached for Frank Caiafa's The Waldorf Astoria Bar Book for a nightcap idea and spotted Frank's Alley Cat that was his riff on the Alaska for the 2005 reopening of Peacock Alley. With the structure of spirit, Benedictine, and bitters, the combination reminded me of Paul Harrington's Highlander. Once prepared, the Alley Cat swiped at the nose with an orange and pine aromas. Next, a dry yet rich sip hopped the fence to a juniper, herbal, orange, lemon, chocolate, and minty swallow.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

submarine pilot

1 1/2 oz Plantation 3 Star White Rum
1/2 oz Smith & Cross
3/4 oz Velvet Falernum
1/4 oz Green Chartreuse
1/2 oz Mango Puree (*)
1/2 oz Lime Juice
2 dash Angostura Bitters
2 dash Chocolate Bitters

Whip shake, pour into a Tiki mug, fill with crushed ice, and garnish with an orchid and a lime wheel.
(*) We use Perfect Puree brand, but muddling a cube of fresh mango (plus a fine strain step) will work well here. Perhaps 1 oz of mango nectar would sub in a pinch.
When I started the position at Area Four in Boston, the previous bar manager had departed the night before leaving no one to fill in her shoes. While I have helped to keep up on the batching and syrup making for the other drinks, the Freaky Tiki offering required a few hours of prep to make its complex toasted coconut-hibiscus cordial. Instead of trying to invest the time into that, I crafted a replacement tropical drink. I began with the Test Pilot as my starting point, and I tried to mix in the mango puree that had previously only served to make the kitchen happy during my time there. The curaçao aspect did not seem to work here, so I switched to Green Chartreuse especially with falernum drinks like Telenovela, Dwarf Leopard, and Chartreuse Swizzle in mind. The end result made me happy, and I combined the Test Pilot with my Jet Pilot riff, the Lost U-Boat, names to dub this one the Submarine Pilot. Since this was done during my shift, I did not write down tasting notes but recall how the fruit was bolstered by spice and herbal accents with a strong rum backbone.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

wooden shoe

3/4 oz Genever (Bols)
3/4 oz Aged Apple Brandy (Boulard VSOP Calvados)
1 oz Cardamaro
1/4 oz Benedictine
1/4 oz Yellow Chartreuse
2 dash Peychaud's Bitters

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

After writing up the Le Subtil, I kept thinking about the Genever-Cardamaro duo. That added to the knowledge I gained earlier in the week when I had checked the Haus Alpenz site where it recommended the apple brandy-Cardamaro pairing, so why not work in both? That was supported by the great Genever-apple brandy drinks on the blog such as Yvonne's Toronto and A Two-Fold Operation; both of those were Calvados recipes, so I opted for that instead of Laird's Bonded. Finally, the apple brandy aspect made me think of the Widow's Kiss and its Benedictine-Yellow Chartreuse accents. For a name, I looked up Dutch fairy tales to support the Genever ingredient and was inspired by the "The Legend of the Wooden Shoe."
The Wooden Shoe stepped to the nose with lemon, malty, and minty-herbal aromas. Next, apple, malt, and grape clopped together on the sip, and the swallow followed through with chocolate, apple, and earthy flavors.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

much ado about nothing

1 1/4 oz Jim Beam Black Bourbon
3/4 oz Averna
3/4 oz Lustau Amontillado Sherry
1/4 oz Benedictine

Stir with ice, strain into a glass, and garnish with a short sprig of rosemary.
After we closed up La Brasa on the earlier side two Tuesdays ago, there was still time to make it Backbar for a nightcap. There, I was presented with their new literary-themed cocktail menu, and I asked bartender Kat Lamper for the Much Ado About Nothing. This drink was subtitled "A marriage of flavors from Spain to Sicily," and the wedding theme was central to that Shakespearean play. The rosemary was listed in the ingredients list, but it factored in not as an infusion, syrup, or muddling, but as a very aromatic garnish; indeed, the Much Ado About Nothing greeted the nose with a rosemary bouquet over darker notes. Next, grape and caramel on the sip tied into Bourbon, nutty, and herbal flavors on the swallow.

Monday, November 25, 2019

le subtil

2 oz Bols Genever
1/2 oz Cardamaro
1/2 oz Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth (Martini Grand Lusso)
2 dash Bittermens Grapefruit Bitters (Bittercube Jamaican #2)

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with a grapefruit twist.
Two Mondays ago, I returned to my list of Cardamaro drinks that I had assembled, and I selected Toby Cecchini's 2009 Le Subtil from The Death & Co. Cocktail Book. Genever and Cardamaro are a duo that I experienced in the Deck Hand and the Walking Spanish, so I was interested in trying it again in a simpler form. Here, the Le Subtil began with grapefruit oil and Genever's malt aroma. Next, the malt continued on into the sip where it mingled with the grape notes, and the swallow showcased the Genever's botanicals melding into a gently bitter finish that ended with grapefruit accents.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

this and that

2 oz Scotch (Cutty Sark Prohibition)
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Peach Liqueur (Mathilde)
1/2 oz Ginger Syrup

Shake with ice, strain into a rocks glass with fresh ice, and garnish with a lime wheel-candied ginger pick (lemon twists-ginger slice pick).
Two Sundays ago, I turned to Imbibe Magazine for the evening's nightcap. The one that I selected from my list to make was the This and That created by Beth Willow of New Orleans' Seaworthy as her riff on Sam Ross' Penicillin. Once prepared, the This and That shared a lemon, ginger, peach, and smoke nose. Next, lemon, malt, and orchard fruit on the sip progressed into Scotch, peach, and ginger flavors on the swallow.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

garibaldi wallbanger

1 Orange, Juiced and Blended (2 1/2 oz)
1 oz Campari
1 oz Vodka (Barr Hill)
1/2 oz Galliano

Build spirits in a small glass and chill in the freezer. Juice a refrigerated orange and blend (stick blender). Pour the fluffy orange juice into the chilled glass with the spirits, mix, and garnish with an orange slice. If a Breville juicer is used, skip the blending step.

After brunch two Saturdays ago, I was reading Instagram and noted that the day before, November 8th, was National Harvey Wallbanger Day. I had written about the last time I had celebrated that holiday which was also the first time that I had that 1970s drink back at an event at Eastern Standard in 2010, and I was curious what direction that I could take it. One of the drinks that I had heard about for a year or two but finally tried late this past summer was the fluffy orange juice-Campari Highball called the Garibaldi. What if I were to merge the two of them? I lacked the Breville juicer that makes beautiful fluffy juice, so I improvised by whipping up freshly squeezed juice with a stick blender. It felt like a solid tribute to the holiday albeit 12 hours late.
The Garibaldi Wallbanger surfed on in with a star anise and bitter orange aroma. Next, a creamy orange sip landed with a slightly bitter orange, vanilla, and star anise swallow. The spice elements of the Galliano melded well with the orange juice and Campari flavors to elevate the classic Garibaldi. And using a local and quality vodka did not hurt things here.

Postnote 11/28/19: I later discovered that there was a 2017 Garibaldi Wallbanger consisting of "Stoli Vanilla, Galliano, San Pellegrino Blood Orange Soda." Considering the absence of Campari or orange juice, mine is closer to a mashup whereas theirs is closer to a spritzy abstraction, but they did beat me to the punch by 2 years or so.

Friday, November 22, 2019

the reluctant saint

1 oz Mezcal (Fidencio)
1 oz Byrrh Grand Quinquina
3/4 oz Campari
1/4 oz Crème de Cacao (Tempus Fugit)
1 dash Absinthe (20 drop St. George)

Stir with ice, strain into a rocks glass with a large cube or into a cocktail coupe (*), and garnish with an orange twist.
(*) The drink seemed to fall apart as it diluted so perhaps a warm drink would be preferable than a wet one over time. The recipe was also based off of a room temperature drink, so perhaps up is best.

Two Fridays ago, I got home from my work shift at Area Four in Boston (I am there on Thursdays and Friday nights and at La Brasa in Somerville on Tuesday and Saturday nights and Sunday brunch) and was in the mood for a cocktail. The day before, I had entered the Ask the Dust into the KindredCocktails database, and the recipe was still on my mind. Here, I took that room temperature Scaffa that I created a little over 5 years ago at Russell House Tavern and moved it closer to a Mezcal Negroni. While the proportions changed, I did remove the Angostura Bitters and added a slug of Campari in its place. For a name, I took the John Fante theme of the inspiration and named it after one of his screen plays, The Reluctant Saint.
The Reluctant Saint welcomed the nose with orange, cherry, and smoke aromas. Next, a dark cherry and grape sip blessed a vegetal agave, chocolate-orange, and quinine-tinged bitter swallow. As the drink diluted over time, the flavors fell apart somewhat so perhaps serving it up (or down) would be better for this combination (especially since it was based off of a room temperature drink).

Thursday, November 21, 2019

bay roc special

1 1/2 oz Gold Jamaican Rum (Appleton Signature)
1/2 oz Drambuie
1 oz Jasper's Basic Stock Mix.

Shake with ice, strain into a cocktail glass (punch cup), and garnish with a cherry (omit)
(*) Jasper's Basic Stock Mix: Stir to dissolve 12 oz sugar in 16 oz lime juice. Add 1 oz Angostura Bitters and 1 heaping tsp freshly grated nutmeg. Refrigerate. Shake before using. I made this at a 1/8th scale which yielded around 3 oz.
When I returned home late from my work shift two Thursdays ago, I remembered that I still had enough Jasper's Basic Stock Mix to make another drink. Therefore, I reached for Jeff Beachbum Berry's Potions of the Caribbean for I recalled that there was another recipe besides the Jasper's Rum Punch in its pages. Beachbum sourced those drinks from Trader Vic's 1974 Rum Cookery & Drinkery book, and there, I saw an array of options and pointers like how Jasper LeFranc used Appleton Special for his call of light-colored Jamaican Rum. All of those recipes were created by LeFranc at Jamaica's Bay Roc Hotel, and I ended up selecting the Bay Roc Special that subbed some of the stock mix in the Rum Punch for Drambuie. Once prepared, the Bay Rock Special greeted the senses with an aged rum caramel, allspice, and honey nose. Next, lime and honey mingled on the sip, and the swallow showcased rum, Scotch, allspice, and clove flavors. Overall, the Drambuie pushed the balance to a slightly sweeter than desired level, but the addition of honey and Scotch notes was rather delightful.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

we don't need another hero

1/2 oz Reposado Tequila (Cimarron)
1/2 oz Mezcal (Fidencio)
1/2 oz Batavia Arrack (von Oosten)
1 1/2 oz Jasper's Basic Stock Mix (*)
1/4 oz Sfumato or Zucca Rabarbaro (Sfumato)
1/4 oz Green Chartreuse
Build in a metal cup, fill with crushed ice, swizzle to mix and chill, and garnish with a lime shell Thunderdome and freshly grated nutmeg.
(*) Jasper's Basic Stock Mix: Stir to dissolve 12 oz sugar in 16 oz lime juice. Add 1 oz Angostura Bitters and 1 heaping tsp freshly grated nutmeg. Refrigerate. Shake before using. I made this at a 1/8th scale which is good for around 2 drinks.

For Tina Turner's 80th birthday on November 26, Amanda Schuster made a call for tribute drinks for the Alcohol Professor site. Like I did for the Freddie Mercury cocktail biopic with the King of the Impossible, I honed in on movies from the 1980s -- namely, 1985's Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. Tina Turner was such a strong character in that movie, and she also did parts of the soundtrack. Therefore, I selected her song "We Don't Need Another Hero" from her discography. Given the post-apocalyptic themes in that movie, I thought about darkness, roughness, smokiness, and spice. As a start, I considered the Jasper's Basic Stock Mix that I tested out in the Jasper's Rum Punch. In place of the Jamaican rum, I substituted the three spirits in Phil Ward's Airbag: reposado tequila, mezcal, and Batavia Arrack. And as an accent, I considered the duo of Rabarbaro and Green Chartreuse that was at the core of John Mayer's 11+2/12+1.
When I called dibs on the song title, Amanda was excited and became fixated on the serving style with advice like, "I think it needs something metallic for the movie theme. Or shiny, anyway!" I replied that I had a metal Julep cup but alas no glassware in chainmail. Then I remembered that I owned a chainmail bracelet that I had bought in the mid 90s, and I opted for a Moscow Mule mug instead of the Julep cup. I had already thought out the Thunderdome that I could carve from a citrus shell even before I had figured out the proper vessel. Once prepared, the We Don't Need Another Hero strapped in with nutmeg, spice, and lime aromas on the nose. Next, lime and dark roasty notes on the sip did battle with smoky, funky, vegetal, and herbaceous flavors on the swallow.

rose gold

1 1/2 oz High West American Prairie Bourbon
1/2 oz Campari
1/2 oz Honey Syrup 1:1
1/2 oz Lemon Juice

Shake with ice, strain into a rocks glass with a big ice cube, and garnish with an orange twist.
Two Wednesdays ago, the Boston USBG chapter hosted Chris Furtado at the Smoke Shop in Somerville to discuss the history and product line of Utah's High West Distillery. For a welcome drink, I selected the Rose Gold that Smoke Shop beverage director Michael Boughton made for me, and I had to assume that it was a bitter riff on the Gold Rush. This whiskey Sour featured Campari and honey that worked well rather recently in the Low Down and was rather pleasant in the Negroni Grog. In the glass, the Rose Gold panned out whiskey, orange, and honey-herbal notes to the nose. Next, lemon, honey, and malt on the sip soon discovered Bourbon and bitter orange flavors on the swallow with a dry floral finish.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

forbidden dance

1 oz Krogstad Aquavit
1 oz Bols Genever
3/4 oz Lustau Amontillado Sherry
1/2 oz Orgeat
1/2 oz Pineapple Juice
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/4 oz Velvet Falernum
1/4 oz Vanilla Syrup

Whip shake, pour into a Tiki mug, and fill with crushed ice. Garnish with a mint bouquet and freshly grated nutmeg.

Two Tuesdays ago, I began perusing The NoMad Cocktail Book and was somewhat surprised when I came across a tropical drink recipe. That one was called the Forbidden Dance by Wally Suarez, and it featured an unlikely spirits duo of aquavit and Genever; Vandaag, the now defunct bar in Manhattan, featured those two spirits, yet I do not recall a drink on the menu with both of them together. Once prepared, the nose snuck caraway, woody spice, and mint aromas from the Forbidden Dance. Next, a creamy pineapple, lime, and grape sip writhed into a caraway, nutty, vanilla, and allspice swallow.

Monday, November 18, 2019

cassini slingshot

1 1/2 oz Gin (Tanqueray)
1/2 oz Limoncello (Sogno di Sorrento)
1/2 oz Passion Fruit Syrup
1/4 oz Orgeat
1/4 oz Falernum (Velvet)
1 Whole Egg

Shake once without ice and once with ice, strain into a single old fashioned or coupe glass (coupe), and garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.

Two Mondays ago after dinner, Andrea mentioned that she would enjoy a Flip due to the chilly weather. After spending a bit of time searching my library for a recipe, I decided to craft one instead. The Flip the Bird as a Jungle Bird riff turned into an egg drink came to mind, and I began to ponder what other Tiki classic could be transformed. I soon honed in on the Saturn, and I figured that limoncello could substitute for the citrus similar to how Paul McGee swaps curaçao for orange juice.
For a name, I honed in on the modern adventures with Saturn via the Cassini probe, and I dubbed this after the probe's final entry to study Saturn's atmosphere. Cassini utilized a slingshot technique around Saturn's moon Titan to gain enough velocity to achieve its last experiment and its demise. The Cassini Slingshot before an entry sip yielded a woody and tropical aroma. Next, a creamy and almond-noted sip sped into a gin, lemon, passion fruit, and clove swallow.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

marilou sazerac

3/4 oz Rye Whiskey (Sazerac)
3/4 oz Cognac (Courvoisier VS)
1/2 oz Laird's Apple Brandy (Laird's Bonded)
1/4 oz Demerara Syrup
6 dash Peychaud's Bitters

Stir with ice, strain into an absinthe-rinsed rocks glass (Butterfly Absinthe), and garnish with a lemon twist.
Two Sundays ago, I returned to Maxim article on Sazerac riffs to make the Marilou Sazerac. I first learned of New Orleans' Bar Marilou through the Brave Margot Jungle Bird riff this summer, so I was definitely excited to try Sam Perez's three spirit Sazerac. His take on the Sazerac welcomed the nose with a familiar aroma of anise-herbal and lemon oil. Next, a semi-sweet malt sip slipped aside to rye, apple, Cognac, and anise flavors on the swallow. While there were no curve balls here, the complex spirit base added a lot of depth to the standard formula.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

last man standing

3/4 oz Rittenhouse Bonded Rye Whiskey
3/4 oz Gin (Tanqueray)
3/4 oz Campari
3/4 oz Fernet Branca

Build in a mixing glass, express 2 orange twists over the contents, add ice, and stir. Strain into a cocktail coupe and garnish with an orange twist.

Two Saturdays ago, my copy of Brad Parsons' Last Call arrived on my doorstep, and I opened up the book to a recipe called the Last Man Standing. The name reminded me of an event at Drink before the exam for the BAR course perhaps a decade ago. As all of the bartenders were leaving to get a good night of sleep before the test, a famous curmudgeon bonded with me as he wanted to enjoy life and the open bar (and I was only a guest of the event and not taking the course myself). I was his pal that evening for I was the last man standing besides him.
The drink itself was crafted by Benjamin Hash of the Horse Inn of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and the idea reminded me a little of Eeyore's Requiem or any of the number of Ferrari (Fernet-Campari) containing drinks like the Black Stallion Sets Sail. Hash in contemplating his last drink provided Parsons with a burly shot turned cocktail that he described as, "It's clearly not for everybody. It is a simple cocktail, but it's strong and full of flavor and depth, really rich in character. It doesn't allow you to drink it without demanding your full attention. It forces contemplation, a moment of clarity... We must be grateful for our fortitude, yet careful and aware of our own fragility." In the glass, the Last Man Standing donated an orange, menthol, and caramel bouquet to the nose. The caramel and orange on the sip inherited rye, pine, and menthol flavors on the swallow with a lingering menthol and bitter orange finish.

Friday, November 15, 2019

the bounty

1 oz Sazerac Rye Whiskey
3/4 oz Oloroso Sherry (Lustau)
1/2 oz Pineapple Syrup
2 dash Peychaud's Bitters
1 dash Bittermens Tiki Bitters (2 dash Bittermens Burlesque)

Stir with ice, strain into a rocks glass pre-rinsed with Herbsaint, and garnish with an orange twist.

Two Fridays ago, I decided to make one of the recipes from Maxim's recent article on Sazerac riffs. The first one that called out to me was The Bounty by T. Cole Newton who owns and bartenders at 12 Mile Limit in New Orleans. He described how "It's a Tiki-tinged spin on the classic Sazerac, inspired by Antoine Peychaud's Caribbean roots and named for the ill-fated ship from Mutiny on the Bounty." I was excited because I wanted to see how pineapple syrup would work as a sweetener in a Sazerac, and whether it would be akin to the pineapple rum Sazerac dubbed the Stigginserac.
The Bounty captured the nose with an orange, anise, and nutty aroma. Next, pineapple and grape cashed in on the sip, and the swallow returned rye, nutty grape, and anise spice flavors on the swallow. With the sherry in the mix, the concept took a tasty Manhattan angle similar to how the Merchants Exchange Manhattan came across.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

marley's ghost

1 1/3 oz Appleton V/X Rum (Appleton Signature)
2/3 oz Punt e Mes
1/3 oz Smith & Cross Rum
1/3 oz Myer's Dark Rum (Gosling's)
1/3 oz Cardamaro

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with a grapefruit coin twist.

My search for Cardamaro drinks continued on the Punch Drinks site where I spotted the Marley's Ghost by Pip Hanson. I grew to appreciate Pip's drink aesthetic through the Northstar Cocktails book with recipes like the bitters-heavy Angophile and the Negroni riff Double Double, so I was excited to try this one that he crafted at the Marvel Bar in Minneapolis. While the name might be a reference to the character in Dickens' A Christmas Carol, the trio of Jamaican rums suggests that it could be a tribute to the reggae master Bob Marley.
Marley's Ghost entered the room with a grapefruit oil over dark and aged rum aromas. Next, caramel and grape swirled on the sip, and the swallow jumped out with funky and almost smoky rum notes that transitioned smoothly to lightly bitter herbal ones.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

midnight mass

2 oz Scarlet Ibis Rum (Privateer Navy Yard)
3/4 oz Cardamaro
1/4 oz Benedictine
1 dash Jerry Thomas Decanter Bitters

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with an orange twist.
Two Wednesdays ago, I began a search for an inaugural recipe to take my new purchase of Cardamaro on a test run. I noted that the Death & Co. Cocktail Book had a few recipes, and the one that caught my eye was the Midnight Mass by Joaquin Simo circa 2009. The drink came across like a rum Preakness with Cardamaro subbing in for the vermouth; Trina's Starlite Lounge had a rum Preakness that they called the Tony Montana, but I was curious to see how the amaro would shape the drink. Once prepared, the Midnight Mass incanted an orange, aged rum, and herbal grape aroma. Next, caramel and grape convened on the sip, and the swallow offered up dry rum and minty-herbal flavors.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

five families frank

2 oz Rittenhouse Bonded Rye
1/2 oz Cocchi Barolo Chinato (Dubonnet Rouge)
1/4 oz Averna
1/4 oz Zucca (Sfumato)
1 tsp Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail coupe.
For a nightcap after work two Tuesdays ago, I ventured back into Leo Robitschek's The NoMad Cocktail Book and spotted the Five Families Frank. The recipe was subtitled, "An Italian-style Manhattan as smooth as Frank in his suit"; I decided to utilize another quinquina since I have only purchased one bottle of Barolo Chinato in the last 13 or so years, and due to the price tag (that one was $60 back then), I probably would not buy another bottle for home. With the Dubonnet, the Five Families Frank presented the nose with herbal bitterness from the Sfumato's Chinese rhubarb root. Next, caramel and a hint of cherry on the sip gave way to rye on the swallow with Averna's smoothness and Maraschino's nuttiness balancing Sfumato's smoky roughness.

Monday, November 11, 2019

:: the joys and agonies of opening a new bar ::

First published on the USBG National site in December 2017 and slightly edited here to reflect time change.

When it comes time to look for a new gig, there are plenty of opportunities to fill a spot on an existing bar's roster, but there are occasionally chances to help to open a new bar program. Is it worth going through the challenge of forming new systems or is it easier to jump in for someone else departing in a more developed establishment? These are some of the things that I pondered before I made a move to open another restaurant's bar some time ago.

One of the perks of joining an existing program is that the staff can teach you the way things are done there, and after that training week or so, you can get right into the swing of earning a living from the regulars and the crowds that have already been built up. For less experienced bartenders, learning from the veteran staff is a great way to get oriented on how to do your job. And for less opinionated or more flexible bartenders, adopting their systems without complaint or input is just part of getting situated in the job.

In opening a new spot, often there are few systems firmly in place, but the bar manager or lead bartender will have ideas on how things should work. Sometimes the ideas match the space and other constraints, but sometimes aspects need to be figured out during the training period and adapted after open. Some leaders are very open to letting the other bartenders have great say in how things should be done and thus decide by consensus, while other leaders feel that it is their right to exert their system to begin with and adapt from there. This can range from house recipe specs to how the wells should be set up. Regardless, rules and standards will be in flux from dress code to comp policies, and sometimes you are alerted to these midway through your evening's shift.

Opening a place also takes a decent sense of humor and humility. Often recipes and processes will change on nights that you are not working and frequently the communication system to alert everyone is not in place. If you are into firm rules and boundaries, these rapid and poorly announced alterations can be jarring especially if delivered with the wrong tone. In addition, expectation for things like closing protocols can be written on paper, but following those to another's judgment when they arrive the next day can be very different.

There are two major problems financially with opening a new bar. The first comes with the open date. Very few places open when they think they will due to construction, city inspections, or other. Unlike joining an established program, the start time for training and opening are not fixed. If you are between jobs, that can mean an extended and indeterminate amount of unemployment (followed by underemployment since most places pay minimum wage for the training hours and sometimes training can drag an extra week or so past the standard expected two weeks). If you are in a position and looking to switch, that can mean playing a waiting game as a sleeper cell; unless of course you are honest and open about your plans to move on with your employer and do not fear them letting you go as soon as they hear that you are not 100% committed to their establishment.

The second financial consideration is earning potential. As mentioned above, the time waiting for training to begin and for the opening night can cost a bit in lost earnings. Following that, building up the guest traffic can be variable. Some places have such a buzz that they gain crowds from the open and continue on through. But in some restaurants, the opening week or two are filled with foodie tourists who are looking to check off that new box and most rarely return. Other spaces start slowly whether being in a developing neighborhood or due to a lack of public relations buzz being built up. Getting the right guests who agree with what you are offering to come in and you providing the right service, food, and drink to get them so that they return is a long haul process. Having some money saved up for this wage gap is necessary; some bartenders will keep a few shifts at their old bar and have fewer days off to tide them over in the meanwhile.

There are also differences in choosing your coworkers. In an established bar, you can sort out the dynamics while staging and quickly discern if there are some trouble spots on the roster. When opening a place, frequently there are only a few pieces in place when you accept, so perhaps you might know the bar and general managers, but the rest are a mystery. And once you gather together, often some percentage will drop out and some will enter into the equation starting in the middle of training and going into the first few weeks of service. If a manager hired well with both personality and talent in mind, there is a chance that a team can gel together rather quickly. Moreover, it is easier for a new hire to carve out their role in the team when it is forming than in joining one that has already hit their stride.

It can also take a bit of time to get the bar firing on all cylinders. Often there is a bit of over-staffing to make up for the inefficiencies of the start up effort. This can lead to frustration of money being split too many ways that can be compounded by other problems such as figuring out where things live (or where they moved to in that rearrangement that happened when you were not there).

When it comes time for a change, it is a good idea to weigh out all the options. New places can come with promises of tip and sales expectations or program greatness, but these are never set in stone. Joining an established program is less risky of a venture, but it can take a lot longer to make an imprint on how the bar functions. In the end, picking a new gig is a lot like dating. There has to be a mutual acceptance of the program and the worker, but after that, it is still a roll of the dice. It can be exciting to see who your regulars will be; although you can pick your food and drink offerings, the guests who return chose you. While you can escape that crazy regular and mourn your kind and generous ones at your last bar, you will find out what develops over time as to who will fill those two roles in the new location. Moreover, opening a new place can give you great insight into various bar programs’ philosophies and techniques as people are often really open to discussing how things were be done in their old spots. While there can be a lot of pleasure in opening a new spot, there is generally a lot of discomfort (both financial or psychological) involved: it is a lot like childbirth where new moms swear off of having another kid, but many return to it with renewed optimism over time.

mount makana

2 oz Pot Still Black Rum (Coruba) (*)
1 oz Pot Still Gold Rum (Smith & Cross)
1 1/2 oz Pineapple Juice
1 oz Lemon Juice
3/4 oz Fernet Branca
1/2 oz Coffee Liqueur (Kahlua)
3/4 oz Demerara Syrup

Shake with crushed ice, pour into a Tiki mug, and garnish with Tiki intent (mint sprigs).
(*) Coruba is a blend of pot and column; the only pot still black rum that I know of (and do not have) is the Hamilton's.
Two Mondays ago, I made another recipe that I had spotted on BigSmokeTiki's Instagram feed called the Mount Makana. His Fernet-laden riff on the Mr. Bali Hai was named after the mountain (also known as Bali Hai) on the South Pacific island of Kauai and is the last part of the United States to see the sunset every night. Once prepared, the Mount Makana erupted with caramel, mint, and menthol nose. Next, lemon, pineapple, and caramel on the sip flowed into dark and funky rums on the swallow with a menthol and coffee finish. Surprisingly, the Fernet Branca was kept in check here by the other strong flavors.

Sunday, November 10, 2019


1 jigger Dry Gin (1 1/2 oz Beefeater)
1/2 pony Brandy (1/2 oz Camus VS Cognac)
Juice of 1/2 Lime (1/2 oz)
3 dash Grenadine (1/2 oz)

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

Two Sundays ago, I turned to the wood-covered 1939 Just Cocktails by W.C. Whitfield for the evening's libation. There, I spotted the Flamingo that seemed like an egg-free Pink Lady of sorts. There are two other Flamingo that I know of with the first one being the one that I probably sourced off CocktailDB (most likely through Stan Jones' Complete Barguide) for the International Migratory Bird Day cocktail party we threw in our home in 2008. That Flamingo was gin, lime, apricot liqueur, and grenadine akin to the Bermudian that was later renamed the Boston Cocktail (I surmise that it was the Mr. Boston books that did so). The other Flamingo is the one from Ted Saucier's 1954 Bottoms Up with rum, pineapple, lime, and grenadine. Interestingly, all three recipes have an overlapping aspect of lime and grenadine.
The Flamingo from Whitfield's book began with a pine, berry, and aged brandy nose. Next, lime and berry notes on the sip flew into juniper supported by Cognac's richness on the swallow with a pomegranate finish. While contemplating the "brandy" aspect of the recipe, I did wonder if an unaged pisco would work better than Cognac here.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

brown sugar

1 oz Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva Rum
3/4 oz Rittenhouse Bonded Rye
3/4 oz Lustau East India Solera Sherry
3/4 oz Cynar
2 dash Bittermens Mole Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail coupe.
Two Saturdays ago, I was excited to crack into my new purchase of Leo Robitschek's The NoMad Cocktail Book; I had held off for years when it came as a mini addendum to the NoMad cooking book, but now that it was a stand alone (as well as expanded) version, I gladly made the purchase. The first recipe that clicked with me as I flipped through the pages was Leo's Brown Sugar with a 1919 Cocktail feel to it. Once prepared, the drink greeted the nose with a brown sugar and grape bouquet. Next, the sip continued on with grape and caramel notes, and the swallow offered rum, rye, nutty sherry, and vegetal bitterness with a rye spice and chocolate finish.

Friday, November 8, 2019


1 1/2 oz Scotch (Cutty Sark Prohibition)
1/2 oz Ruby or Tawny Port (Sandeman Tawny)
1/2 oz Campari
1/2 oz Zucca or Sfumato (Sfumato)
2 dash Orange Bitters (Regan's)

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with a lemon twist. Perhaps increasing the port to 3/4 oz and decreasing each of the amaro to 3/8 oz might balance the drink for a wider range of palates. Or perhaps 2 oz Scotch, 1/2 oz port, and 1/4 oz each amaro (with the bitters).

After work two Fridays ago, I had been thinking about how well Campari and rabarbaro (such as Zucca and Sfumato) can join forces to make a complex bitter note like in the Cosa Nostra. Since Scotch and Sfumato paired so well in drinks like the Caustic Negroni, I began to think about classic whisky cocktails and ended up on the port-containing Chancellor from the 1956 Esquire Drink book. With Phil Ward's Baltasar and Blimunda (a Negroni of sorts with port) in mind, I altered the Chancellor to include these two amari.
For a name, I kept with the academic theme that runs in Chancellor-like drinks like the Administrator, Guardian, and Professor and dubbed this one the Preceptor. The drink itself began with a lemon oil aroma over dark herbal smokiness and grape notes. Next, the port's rich grape filled the sip, and the swallow answered with a smoky Scotch flavor and bitter rhubarb root quickly merging into bitter orange on the swallow with a peat smoke finish. While I found the balance to hit the spot for my mood that night, perhaps increasing the port and/or decreasing each of the amaro might make the drink more accessible (see note in the instructions).

Thursday, November 7, 2019

over the yardarm

1 1/2 oz Demerara Rum (El Dorado 5 Year)
1/2 oz Plantation OFTD Overproof Rum
1 oz Amontillado Sherry (Lustau)
3/4 oz Crème de Cacao (1/2 oz Tempus Fugit) (*)
1/2 oz Swedish Punsch (Kronan)
1/2 oz Lemon Juice

Whip shake, pour into a Tiki mug, and fill with crushed ice. Float 1/2 oz Amaro Ramazzotti (*) and garnish with mint and cherries (omit cherries).
(*) For a less sweet drink, perhaps decreasing the crème de cacao to 1/2 oz and Ramazzotti to 1/4 oz and/or increasing the lemon juice to 3/4 oz would help the balance.

After work on Thursday, I decided to make a drink called the Over the Yardarm that I had spotted on Instagram. The recipe was crafted by BigSmokeTiki in London as he riffed on Trader Vic's Tortuga (which was perhaps a riff on the Floridita Daiquiri). The combination of dry sherry and citrus reminded me of the Kuula Hina that I created at Russell House Tavern years ago. Moreover, the Swedish punsch-crème de cacao combination was one that I had observed working well in the Battle Over Dutch and Swedish Sweet Tart.
The drink name may derive from the expression "The sun is over the yardarm"; in the North Atlantic, the sun would appear above the upper mast spars or yards around 11 am which coincided with the time when officers would take their first rum tot break of the day. The Over the Yardarm raised up a mint and root beer aroma. Next, lemon, caramel, and grape on the sip gave way to funky rum, chocolate, and nutty grape flavors on the swallow with a black tea finish. As the Ramazzotti float entered the equation, the balance got a bit sweeter and gained cola-like notes. Overall, the combination was perfect for the Autumn air as advertised.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

gully brood

3/4 oz Mezcal (Sombra)
3/4 oz Campari
3/4 oz Rabarbaro Zucca (Sfumato)
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Rich Simple Syrup (2/3 oz 1:1)

Shake with ice, strain into a Collins (rocks) glass, fill with crushed ice, and garnish with a grapefruit twist.

Two Wednesdays, I selected Clair McLafferty's 2017 The Classic & Craft Cocktail Recipe Book for the evening's libation. There, I honed in on the Gully Brood by Beckaly Franks who now lives in Hong Kong where she owns The Pontiac bar. I was able to uncover a 2015 version of the Gully Brood that she created at Portland's Clyde Commons that lacked the Campari, but the additional amaro in the mix seemed like a great addition; indeed, Campari and Zucca/Sfumato worked well in the Low Down.
The Gully Brood awakened the senses with a grapefruit and smoky-herbal nose. Next, lime and hints of roast on the sip led into smoky mezcal, bitter orange, and smoky-bitter rhubarb root flavors on the swallow.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

el puente

2 oz Mezcal (Fidencio)
1/2 oz Elderflower Liqueur (St. Elder)
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Grapefruit Juice
3 slice Cucumber

Muddle cucumber slices in lime juice and simple syrup. Add the rest of the ingredients, shake with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with a grapefruit twist.
After my work shift two Tuesdays ago, I spotted Greg Boehm and Jeff Mason's 2009 The Big Bartender's Book on the shelf and wondered if there were any passed over gems in there. The one that I uncovered was a Jim Meehan number called El Puente perhaps created in the early days of PDT that was never published in either of his books. The El Puente paired cucumber and elderflower liqueur together which worked elegantly in the Easy Street, so I was intrigued by this recipe. Once assembled, the El Puente met the nose with a grapefruit and smoke bouquet. Next, lime, grapefruit, and unripe melon on the sip crossed over into smoky mezcal, floral, grapefruit, and cucumber flavors on the swallow.

Monday, November 4, 2019

tropic thunder

2 oz Plantation OFTD Overproof Rum
1 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Passion Fruit Syrup
1/2 oz Don's Spices #2 (1/4 oz Vanilla Syrup + 1/4 oz Hamilton's Allspice Dram)

Shake with crushed ice, pour into a Hurricane glass (Tiki mug), and garnish with a mint sprig and a lemon wheel (nasturtium flower).

Since I decided to make fresh rolls two Mondays ago, I picked extra mint to make a tropical drink later that night. Therefore, I reached for Matt Pietrek and Carrie Smith's Minimalist Tiki book, and I ended up selecting Justin Wojslaw's Tropic Thunder. With rum, passion fruit, and lemon, the combination appeared like a Hurricane riff with half the syrup split with Don's Spices. Once assembled, the Tropic Thunder boomed in with minty and floral aromas from the garnishes over a passion fruit nose from the drink itself. Next, lemon and caramel on the sip slid into funky rum, passion fruit, vanilla, and allspice flavors on the swallow.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

banana spider

1 1/2 oz Pisco (Macchu)
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Giffard Banane du Bresil
1/4 oz Simple Syrup
1 Egg White

Shake once without ice and once with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with Angostura Bitters.
Two Sundays ago, I decided to make a Pisco Sour riff called the Banana Spider. The recipe published in Imbibe Magazine was crafted by Kirk Estinopal at Cane & Table in New Orleans, and the name is a reference to a rather poisonous spider that lives in Peru and other parts of Central and South America that has occasionally turn up in shipments of bananas. While the alcohol content was the only venom to found in the drink, the banana aspect was captured with a crème de banane. Once prepared, the Banana Spider bit the nose with banana, allspice, and cinnamon aromas. Next, a creamy lemon sip crept into pisco and banana flavors on the swallow.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

waldorf cocktail

1/2 Swedish Punsch (1 1/2 oz Kronan)
1/4 Dry Gin (3/4 oz Hayman's Royal Dock)
Juice 1/4 Lemon or 1/2 Lime (3/4 oz Lime Juice)

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail coupe; I added a lime wheel garnish.

Two Saturdays ago after work, I reached for the 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book and spotted the Swedish punsch-containing Waldorf Cocktail. This recipe was halfway between a Daiquiri and a Gimlet and parallel to the Doctor Cocktail with rum in place of the gin. I was surprised that the drink does not appear in the 1935 The Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book, but a Waldorf Cocktail of equal parts whiskey, sweet vermouth, and absinthe does. Bartender and author Frank Caiafa replied to my Instagram post that he always thinks of the Waldorf as an absinthe-rinsed Manhattan, and his version in The Waldorf Astoria Bar Book is just that.
This Waldorf Cocktail began with rum funk and caramel aromas on the nose. Next, the caramel continued on into the sip where it mingled with the lime, and the swallow offered up juniper, funky rum, and black tea flavors.

Friday, November 1, 2019

explorer's dream

3/4 oz Batavia Arrack (Von Oosten)
3/4 oz Mezcal (Fidencio)
1 oz Dry Vermouth (Noilly Prat)
1/2 oz Benedictine
1 dash Absinthe (20 drop St. George)

Stir with ice, strain into a punch cup, and garnish with a lemon twist.

After work two Fridays ago, I was thinking about the Poet's Dream after enjoying the Dead Poet. Instead of gin, I honed in on the Batavia Arrack and mezcal duo that worked well in the Smoking Jet Pilot, Airbag, and Esmino's Escape. Here, I felt that the Benedictine could bind the two oddball spirits akin to the liqueur working wonders in the Shruff's End, and I felt that absinthe instead of orange bitters would tie this combination together better.
The Batavia Arrack made me think of exotic trade routes, and I dubbed this one the Explorer's Dream. For a moment, I considered pisco instead of mezcal since it was a spirit picked up by sailors as well as they made their way around landmasses; however, I figured that the mezcal would help to bring out the smokier side of Batavia Arrack. Once in the punch cup, the Explorer's Dream found its way to the nose with lemon and smoke notes. Next, a white wine and caramel sip discovered a smoky mezcal and funky Batavia Arrack swallow accented by chocolate, mint, and anise flavors. My Instagram post inspired user xjthree to make the drink for he explained, "This sounds amazing. I’m going to make one later. Poet's dream was one of my favorites early on in my journey." A few days later, he posted his version with a commentary of "It is very bold, and boozy. Strong funky flavors up front give way to Benedictine sweetness, and an absinthe finish. I'd say it's a bartender drink, not for the faint hearted."