Tuesday, December 31, 2019

the bachelor

1 oz Meletti Amaro
1 oz Diplomatico Aged Rum (Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva)
1/2 oz Absinthe (Kübler)
5 dash Bitter Truth Aromatic Bitters (Jerry Thomas Decanter)

Stir with ice, strain into a rocks glass with ice, and garnish with a grapefruit twist.
After my busy bar shift two Tuesdays ago, I was in the mood for a stiff drink. Therefore, I selected the Bachelor from Punch Drinks that I had marked off months ago; the recipe was crafted by Chris Flannery-McCoy at Maison Premiere, and I saved this one until I was up for a healthy slug of absinthe. Once prepared, the Bachelor opened up with grapefruit, caramel, and anise aromas. Next, a rich caramel sip transitioned to rum and herbal flavors flowing into anise-driven spice on the swallow.

:: fred's top 10 cocktail moments of 2019 ::

Back in 2010, someone asked what my favorite cocktail of the year was, and I decided not only to start a list of my favorite drinks but to assemble a compilation of top moments of the previous 12 months. To continue this tradition, here is the 10th annual installment:

1. Still bartending.
The beginning of 2019 found me still bartending at Nahita in downtown Boston, and I stayed with that team until the turnover of management and coworkers was so great that it was time to leave. I took a few months off in the summer to heal up a case of tennis elbow before in August joining the crew at La Brasa down the road from me in East Somerville. Towards the end of the year, I was approached by a brand to become a part time ambassador, and I accepted the job. I cannot reveal more until I am fully trained, but it does coincide rather well with my love of American whiskey! I will continue to bartend with soon seven years under my belt, but this will add diversity and intrigue to my professional life.

2. Got more involved in the U.S. Bartenders Guild.
I was elected to the board of directors for the USBG Boston chapter late last year, and that position began in January. I soon took on the role of secretary which included much of the social media, member emails, and the like. Moreover, I took the helm on running some of the chapter events. The position also led me to travel to New Haven in April for the USBG Regional Conference where I had the chance to interact with my peers in other chapters across the Northeast. Finally, I kept up with writing for the national site with essays like Always a Barback and one about people's starting places in the drink world in regards to empathy (including a few entertaining and perhaps slightly embarrassing personal anecdotes). Over the last year, I have to thank many in the USBG for being mentors, advisors, and beacons of strength with great thanks to local heroes Geo Thompson and Carol Britt who helped to make the year what it was (see the final photo below).
3. Traveled a little.
Besides the trip to New Haven mentioned in #2 for the USBG Regional Conference, my association with the USBG allowed me to apply for the Casa Noble Sustainability Tour. My essay skills won me one of the 60 spots spread over 5 trips to Guadalajara, and I ventured down there in September for a few days (see the third photo below). Otherwise, I kept close to home and participated in Thirst Boston, the NERAX cask beer festival, and several smaller events. Next year will find me in Pittsburgh for the USBG Regional Conference as well as a few trips to Kentucky (plus perhaps other trips yet to be scheduled or realized).

4. Appeared in books.
This past year, three of my recipes found homes in books! The first was the Queen of the Lava Beds that I created for Valentine's Day 2016 at Loyal Nine, and it appeared in Clair McLafferty's Romantic Cocktails: Craft Cocktail Recipes for Couples, Crushes, and Star-Crossed Lovers. The second was the Derby Cup that began as a drink of the day at Loyal Nine and ended up scaled up into Maggie Hoffman's Batch Cocktails: Make-Ahead Pitcher Drinks for Every Occasion. Finally, one of my older Tiki drinks, the Bikini Atoll, appeared in Justin Cristaldi's book The Tiki Triangle. In retrospect, the name was rather insensitive given the history and treatment of the indigenous people (the name derived from it being a riff on the Nuclear Daiquiri). The world was less focused on that subject back in 2011 when I named it, and with a lot of things, I am trying to do better. I took a class on it at Thirst Boston this year, and wrote up my notes on Tiki Through the Polynesian Lens.
5. Recipes elsewhere.
Besides the three recipes that appeared in books above, my recipes found four homes on the web. Three of those were musician tribute collections: the Life on Mars from Loyal Nine in a David Bowie one, Christopher Tracy's Parade in a Prince biopic, and We Don't Need Another Hero in an 80th birthday celebration of Tina Turner. My Algiers Point that I made up on the fly at River Bar in 2018 found a home in an article on American brandy usage in cocktails.

6. I got quoted a bit.
Besides recipes, my quotes found quite a few homes this year -- 8 that I know of! One of my bar hacks ended up in a PunchDrink article. My thoughts on affordable American whiskey ended up in this Bloomberg article on stocking home bars. I was quoted in an Eater piece on toxic cultures in restaurants. After cracking open a 7 year old bottle of Scott Marshall's milk punch and finding it quite tasty, my thoughts on bottle-aged cocktails got captured in this WineMag article. Is Baiju for you? Well, my skepticism on the topic ended up in Liquor-dot-com. An Engadget writer asked for my opinions on the Keurig Drinkworks home cocktail maker and I found a few more positives than I expected about the idea (of course a few negatives, but it depended on what the drink was). I'm a big fan of pooled house tips, and I honed in on the positive aspects from the guest's perspective in VinePair. And finally, I shared my experiences of working in a restaurant on a major holiday for this Thanksgiving piece on Chowhound.
7. Read a lot.
Besides the instances of being able to share my thoughts, I certainly looked to others constantly. One metric is my reading: I kept up with my goal of two books a month and ended 2019 with a total of 26 titles finished. Here are a few that stood out for various reasons:
• Brad Parson's Last Call: Bartenders on Their Final Drink and the Wisdom and Rituals of Closing Time. It was certainly more poignant reading it when I did due to Gary Regan's passing part way through my read. I did enjoy a quote by Jabriel Donohue enough to Tweet about it, "A perfectly made Martini is a tunnel that you drive through to a new world of optimism and possibilities. A poorly made Martini is a painting of a tunnel you drive at with enthusiasm."
• Dale Carnegie's How To Win Friends and Influence People. This title appeared on a list of non-bar books that were recommended to bartenders. I decided to start reading the copy that I had purchased earlier in the year after making a social media blunder that I could have avoided. Perfect for anyone looking to move up to head bartender or manager as well.
• Jason Wilson's Godforsaken Grapes: A Slightly Tipsy Journey through the World of Strange, Obscure, and Underappreciated Wine. It made for great travel reading on my flights to and from Guadalajara, and it came in handy when Andrea went on a business trip to Switzerland -- the chapter on that region helped guide her to some intriguing bottle finds.
• Derek Brown's Spirits, Sugar, Water, Bitters: How the Cocktail Conquered the World. A playful history of the cocktail taken through the eras.
• Don Miguel Ruiz's The Four Agreements. A book highly recommended to me by Gary Regan during Cocktails in the Country and in his writings. A text on how to live more admirably and how to get along better with your guests and coworkers.

8. Created some drinks!
Looking through the blog, over fifty drinks that I created in 2019 ended up in posts. Three of these appeared on menus (and one on a hypothetical menu):
As Perfect as a Limerick appeared on Nahita's menu as the Lock Stock. A Martini riff with 3:1 split base of Hendricks to Avua Cachaça and a 3:1 vermouth base of dry vermouth to celery syrup (making an a la minute blanc vermouth) turned out to be surprisingly popular.
The Ticket that Exploded was created after I left Nahita and was staging at a place that had a limited bottle selection. I contemplated what I could make with the ingredients on hand, and this was the result (I ended up not working there but not due to their back bar).
• I was challenged at La Brasa to make a mezcal Paloma riff in a coupe glass, and I created the Quetzal that currently appears as The Dove on the menu.
• During a brief stint at Area Four in Boston, we ran out of a complicated cordial for one of the drinks, and I replaced the recipe with something less complicated when batched. I dubbed it the Submarine Pilot here but it took the name of the old drink -- the Freaky Tiki -- on the menu.

A few of the home bar creations (some of which got served to guests) that I was proud of this year:
• The 1872 as my smoky tribute to the Great Boston Fire is popular with some of my regulars at La Brasa.
Carlota's Collapse was done in the style of a few of the Rogue/Beta Cocktails drinks. I also wrote a 10 year retrospective on the Rogue/Beta Cocktails books that coincided this year with the 10th anniversary of the Cure bar in New Orleans.
Texas Cakewalk was one of my first creations featuring Fino sherry -- a bottle that I added to the home bar this year -- and I took it in a funky direction with Cynar and mezcal.
• Another new bottle on my shelf this year was Cardamaro, and the Wooden Shoe was my inaugural recipe utilizing two spirits that I had observed good pairings with said amaro in the past.
• There were several tiki or tropical numbers crafted this year: two that caught my attention as I browsed my list were the Lahaine Noon as a riff on Joe Scialom's Sol y Sombra and the Dolce Far Niente as an Italian take on the Polynesian Paralysis.
9. Visited a lot of brewery tap rooms.
While cocktails and spirits gets most of the attention here on this blog, I am indeed a big beer fan. Besides volunteering again for the NERAX cask festival, we spent a bit of time traveling across New England to visit nearly 80 tap rooms in the past year (although it has become a lot less frequent now that I work both Saturdays and Sundays). Some of my favorite Massachusetts breweries were Amory's Tomb (famous for their saisons), Stellwagen, Navigation, Two Weeks Notice, Vitamin Sea, Second Wind (a lot accomplished in the smallest space of them all), and River Styx (great stouts). In Rhode Island, Long Live was the clear winner, and New Hampshire's picks were Kelsen, Garrison City, and Pipe Dream. Also cool was that I finally found a frame (an awesome sidewalk find on the way home from work one night) to hang my Dan Blakeslee print "Make Way for Halloween!" that I bought in 2013; Blakeslee is best known for creating the Heady Topper label. See the photo after #10.

10. The last one is always the toughest.
Life in 2019 has been interesting with my time spread between bartending, USBG work, and writing. The blog entered its 12 year this year (with my participation for 11 of those), and it is still going strong with almost 400 posts this year (I think I have been the sole author since mid-2010). And the fruits of the blog -- my two books, Drink & Tell (2012) and Drunk & Told (2017) are still selling decently at the Boston Shaker Store in Somerville, on Amazon, and elsewhere. Over the next few months, my brand work will begin to take off, so that will be an interesting direction for the new year -- one that will be a personal growth challenge similar to how becoming a member of the USBG board of directors was a year prior.
Photos from top to bottom save for my photo of my Blakeslee print (all borrowed from various sources): USBG Boston taking over the Boston Food Bank for the Campari Day of Service; we boxed up lots of food for the needy in our city. Here, I'm making a Ramos for one of the servers after her brunch shift was over at La Brasa. Third is the USBG trip to Casa Noble distillery in Mexico to learn about all things tequila and how to do things better for the environment. And lastly are the 2019 USBG Boston board of directors who are heading into 2020 (to be joined by two or three great folk) and these two taught me lots about the world.

Monday, December 30, 2019

pink garter

1/2 jigger Gin (1 1/2 oz Beefeater)
1/4 jigger Grenadine (1/2 oz)
1 spoon Lemon Juice (1/2 oz)
1 spoon Orange Juice (1/2 oz)

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

Two Mondays ago, I began thumbing through Boothby's 1934 World Drinks and How to Mix Them when I spotted the Pink Garter. While the name conjured up the Pink Lady especially with the overlapping gin, lemon, and grenadine elements, I soon realized that it was a gin version of the Ward Eight. Therefore, I shaped the recipe recipe closer to how I make that Boston classic.
The Pink Garter met the nose with an orange oil, pine, and pomegranate bouquet. Next, berry, lemon, and orange on the sip gave way to gin and berry flavors on the swallow with a lemon finish. Overall, gin worked better with orange juice than rye or Bourbon do in the Ward Eight, so the combination was definitely more of a win.

Sunday, December 29, 2019


1 oz Rhum Agricole Blanc (Rhum Clement Premiere Canne)
1 oz Fino Sherry (Lustau)
1/2 oz Cynar
1/2 oz Pineapple Syrup
20 drop Absinthe (St. George)

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

Two Sundays ago, I began contemplating a rhum agricole Martini of sorts akin to the Georgetown Club that utilized Fino sherry instead of dry vermouth. Elements of pineapple syrup came to mind akin to the Diamond Queen and then Cynar which paired well with the syrup in the Handsome Bob, and soon the Martini idea morphed into something closer to a Negroni in feel. Cynar entered the equation for it pairs well with both rhum agricole and Fino too. For a name, I dubbed this one the Quimbois after the Martinique concept of black magic that is parallel to Haiti's Voodoo.
The Quimbois aroused the nose with lemon and grassy funk aromas. Next, tropical notes from the pineapple syrup on the sip conjured up grassy and vegetal funk brightened by the pineapple and hints of absinthe on the swallow.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

max baer

1/3 jigger Calvados (1 1/4 oz Boulard VSOP)
1/3 jigger Gin (1 1/4 oz Alchemy Dry Gin)
2 dash Grenadine (1/2 oz)
2 dash Absinthe (1/2 bsp Butterfly)

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
I turned to Boothby's 1934 World Drinks and How to Mix Them book for a cocktail idea two Saturdays ago. There, I spied the Max Baer, an Old Fashioned of sorts named after an American boxer who became the world heavy weight champion in 1934 besides being in the popular 1933 movie The Prizefighter & the Lady. The gin, apple brandy, and grenadine reminded me of drinks like the Margaret Rose and Pink Lady, so I was intrigued. After making it, I realized that this recipe was renamed the Dempsey in W.C. Whitfield's 1939 Just Cocktails; at least it kept the boxing theme intact. Here, the Max Baer greeted the nose with an anise and apple-berry bouquet. Next, apple and pomegranate notes on the sip punched into apple, juniper, berry, and anise flavors on the swallow.

Friday, December 27, 2019

meauxbar rum cocktail

1 oz Plantation Stiggins' Fancy Pineapple Rum
3/4 oz Plantation OFTD Rum
1/4 oz Green Chartreuse
1/4 oz Grenadine
1/2 oz Passion Fruit Syrup
3/4 oz Lime Juice

Shake with ice (cracked ice), pour into a Collins glass, top with cracked ice, and garnish with a half orange wheel and freshly grated nutmeg.
Two Fridays ago, I returned to Imbibe Magazine to make another pineapple rum drink that I had spotted previously but could not make before. That drink was the Meauxbar Rum Cocktail by Gillian White at Meauxbar in New Orleans, and I had previously enjoyed her Meauxbar Rye Cocktail a little over a year ago. This riff on the Hurricane began with orange and woody spice aromas. Next, caramel, lime, and a tropical note from the passion fruit on the sip blew into rum, pineapple, passion fruit and herbal flavors on the swallow.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

dickensian villain

1 oz Rye Whiskey (1 1/4 oz Rittenhouse Bonded)
1 oz Plantation Stiggins' Fancy Pineapple Rum (1 1/4 oz)
1/4 oz Grenadine
1 bsp Fernet Branca

Build in an old fashioned glass, add a large ice cube, stir to mix and chill, and garnish with orange oil from a twist (add the twist as well).
Two Wednesdays ago, I broke down and finally added Plantation's pineapple rum to my liquor shelves. For a start, I returned to Imbibe Magazine and selected the Dickensian Villain as its inaugural use; that recipe was invented by Allan Katz of Los Angeles' Here's Looking at You bar (and not Allan Katz the distiller). The name makes an allusion to the character that the rum is named after, Reverend Stiggins who plays a dark force in Dickens' The Pickwick Papers, and the combination of grenadine and Fernet reminded me of two Sours -- the Jim Rose and the Noble. In the glass, the Dickensian Villain proffered orange, pineapple, and menthol notes to the nose. Next, berry and tropical flavors on the sip gave way to rye spice, rum, and pineapple elements on the swallow with a bitter pomegranate finish.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

mr. pink

2 oz Aged Rum (Plantation Original Dark)
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/4 oz Campari
1/4 oz Pineapple Juice
1/4 oz Simple Syrup 1:1
1 Egg White

Shake once without ice and once with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with an edible flower (thin lime wheel).
Two Tuesdays ago, I decided upon the Mr. Pink in Imbibe Magazine as the evening's drink for it seemed like an allusion to the movie Reservoir Dogs. This mashup of a Jungle Bird and a Campari Sour was created by Troy Tingling of the Rum House in New York City, and the idea of an egg riff on a Jungle Bird reminded me of the Flip the Bird. In the glass, Mr. Pink welcomed the senses with a dark rum and lime aroma. Next, a creamy lime and caramel sip led into rum, pineapple, and bitter orange flavors on the swallow.

Monday, December 23, 2019

wray's nephew

1 oz Wray & Nephew Overproof White Rum
1/2 oz Amber Rum (Old Ipswich Tavern Style)
1 oz Pineapple Juice
1/4 oz Lime Juice
1/4 oz Rich Simple Syrup (1/3 oz 1:1)
1 tsp Fernet Branca

Shake with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.
Two Mondays ago, I delved back into my collection of Food & Wine: Cocktails books and selected the 2016 edition. There, I spotted the Daiquiri variation called Wray's Nephew crafted by Sean Hoard of Portland's Teardrop Lounge. With Fernet in the mix, it reminded me of the Tiger Balm, Pencil Thin Mustache, and other drinks. Once prepared, the Wray's Nephew greeted the nose with the Jamaican funk suggested in the name along with woody spice and a hint of menthol. Next, pineapple, lime, and caramel mingled on the sip, and the swallow showcased rum funk melding into a bitter minty note.

Sunday, December 22, 2019


1 1/2 oz Plantation Stiggins' Fancy Pineapple Rum
1 oz Punt e Mes
1/2 oz Yellow Chartreuse
1 dash Angostura Bitters
1 dash Regan's Orange Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a rocks glass.
Two Sunday nights ago, we stopped into State Park where Peter Nelson and Steph Hiltz were behind the stick. For a drink, I asked Steph for the Bodega, and Pete later informed me that it was created by Evan Harrison. I surmised that it was one of Evan's for it reminded me of his Nonantum Cocktail in structure (besides making me think of a pineapple rum Green Point). In the glass, the Bodega welcomed the nose with pineapple and herbal notes. Next, caramel and grape on the sip sold out to pineapple rum flavors pleasantly joined by bitter herbal ones.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

thick as thieves

3/4 oz El Dorado 15 Year Rum (Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva)
3/4 oz Jameson Black Barrel Irish Whiskey (1 oz Teeling Small Batch)
1/2 oz Connemara Peated Irish Whiskey (1/4 oz Caol Ila)
1/4 oz Lustau Amontillado Sherry
1/4 oz Lustau East India Solera Sherry
1/4 oz Crème de Cacao (Tempus Fugit)
1 tsp Giffard Banane du Bresil
1 tsp Grade A Maple Syrup
3 dash Pernod Absinthe (1/2 bsp Butterfly)
2 dash Mole Bitters (Bittermens)

Stir with ice and strain into a double old fashioned glass with a large ice cube.
For a nightcap after my work shift two Saturdays ago, I reached for the NoMad Cocktail Book and spotted the Thick as Thieves. Opposed to the one by Toby Maloney, this one was created by Alex Lerman and featured a rum-Irish whiskey base with sherry and tropical notes. Once assembled, it donated an anise aroma to the nose. Next, maple, grape, and caramel offered up a rich sip, and the swallow showcased smoke, whiskey, rum, and banana flavors with a chocolate and anise finish.

Friday, December 20, 2019

jerezana cocktail

5/6 oz Manzanilla Sherry (1 oz Lustau Fino)
5/6 oz Amontillado Sherry (1 oz Lustau)
2/5 oz Sweet Vermouth (1/2 oz Martini Grand Lusso)
2/5 oz Dry Vermouth (1/2 oz Noilly Prat)
1/3 oz Vanilla Syrup (2/5 oz)
6 dash Orange Bitters (3 dash Angostura Orange + 3 dash Regan's)

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with an orange twist.
Two Fridays ago, I spotted a recipe on KindredCocktails that was sourced from Difford's Guide called the Jerezana Cocktail. Given the name, I knew it was going to be a sherry drink, and this one was crafted by Rhys Wilson of Happiness Forgets in London. The proportions seemed a bit odd until I realized that they work rather well with the metric jiggers used in Britain; with a slight scaling, I was able to make all but one of the measures work with American jigger sizes. Once prepared, the Jerezana met the nose with an orange, grape, and vanilla bouquet. Next, red grape on the sip stepped aside to nutty, savory, vanilla, and orange flavors on the swallow. Andrea commented that the combination tasted like "a sherry Dreamsicle."

Thursday, December 19, 2019

canadian glory

3/4 Canadian Club Whisky (1 1/2 oz Alberta Premium)
1 tsp Cusenier Sec Curaçao (1/2 oz Pierre Ferrand Dry)
1 tsp Bols Apricot Brandy (1/2 oz Combier)
1 tsp Lemon Juice (1/2 oz)

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

Two Thursdays ago was 86th anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition, and I felt inclined to honor that event with something from that decade. Therefore, I selected the 1937 Café Royal Cocktail Book and stopped on the Canadian Glory that called for Canadian whisky which seemed appropriate to represent Prohibition itself. The recipe crafted by Max Müller reminded me of a whiskey and lemon version of the rum and lime Periodista (or vodka and lime Aqueduct), so I knew that it would be solid.
In the glass, the Canadian Glory launched into an orange oil and apricot nose. Next, lemon and orchard fruit on the sip led into whiskey and orange flavors on the swallow with an apricot finish.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019


1 oz Rittenhouse Bonded Rye Whiskey
3/4 oz Cocchi Sweet Vermouth (Martini Grand Lusso)
1/2 oz Bonal Gentiane-Quina
Scant 1/2 oz Cynar
1 tsp Luxardo Maraschino
1 dash Angostura Bitters
1 dash Orange Bitters (Regan's)

Stir with ice, strain into a double old fashioned glass with a large ice cube, and garnish with 3 cherries on a pick (omit).

Two Wednesdays prior, I reopened the NoMad Cocktail Book and became intrigued by the Broadway subtitled, "A bitter Manhattan variation named after the famous street where NoMad NYC is located." The recipe was created by Nathan O'Neill, and the combination made me think of the Maloney No. 2 and the Bensonhurst.
The Broadway paraded to the nose with nutty cherry and grape aromas. Next, grape and caramel on the sip crossed into rye, nutty cherry, and herbal flavors on the swallow.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019


1 oz Medium Aged Puerto Rican Rum (Flor de Caña Añejo Oro)
3/4 oz Aged Rhum Agricole (Rhum Clement Premiere Canne, unaged)
1 oz Pineapple Juice
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Passion Fruit Syrup
1/4 oz Honey Syrup
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Shake with ice, strain into a hollowed out pineapple or a large snifter glass, and fill with crushed ice.
Two Tuesdays ago, I selected the Minimalist Tiki book and turned to their section of 30 classics. The Bolo called out to me; it was the Luau in Beverly Hill's take on Don the Beachcomber's Pi-Yi. The combination of rums, two juices, and two syrups reminded me of the Samoan Typhoon and perhaps the Lili'uokalani's Downfall. Once prepared, the Bolo danced to the nose with grassy funk and passion fruit aromas. Next, lime, passion fruit, and pineapple notes on the sip erupted into funky rum and passion fruit flavors on the swallow with a honey and clove finish.

Monday, December 16, 2019

double down

1 1/4 oz Rye Whiskey (Rittenhouse Bonded)
1 1/4 oz Cardamaro
1/2 oz Fino Sherry (Lustau)

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with a lemon twist.
Two Mondays ago, I delved back into Maggie Hoffman's Batch Cocktails and spotted the Double Down. The recipe was created by Morgan Anders at Seattle's Rob Roy; I was excited to try one of Morgan's drinks for I met him a little over four years ago at my Camp Runamok session in Kentucky. Once I adapted the Double Down to a single portion size, it met the nose with a lemon, funky herbal, and fino sherry bouquet. Next, a semi-dry grape sip led into rye spice transitioning into Cardamaro herbal flavors on the swallow with a savory finish from perhaps the sherry.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

tom & jerry

Two Sundays ago was our first significant snowfall of the year. It used to be a tradition that John Gertsen at No. 9 Park and later Drink would announce with the first snow that it was officially Tom & Jerry season, and batter would only be made on snowy evenings. Alas, John departed to the West Coast, so I carried on the tradition by announcing the beginning of this Winter tradition on Instagram and Facebook.

John has been immortalized in a few publications with regards to this tradition. In the 2012 edition of Food & Wine: Cocktails, he declared, "It may seem like a bit of a nuisance to make such a labor-intensive drink, but at the end of a long shift there's nothing better than a nice, hot Tom & Jerry." A 2016 article in Punch traced John's fascination back to Audrey Saunders and his being enraptured at the Japanese art deco bowl at Bemelman's in 2002. John's version was to acquire a cream-colored Homer Laughlin version with gold lettering for No. 9 Park to make this "liquid internal sweater" for the first snowfall of the year, and he expanded his collection with other sets after moving on to Drink.

Tom & Jerry is a 19th century style of Egg Nog first written about in 1827. According to David Wondrich in Imbibe, Jerry Thomas tried to take credit for the drink, but alas Thomas was born in 1830, and several other references appear before his claim of creating the drink in the 1847. The drink has always been linked with cold weather for its combination of hot water or milk, batter, and spirits delivers a lot of warmth and richness. Commercial sets of drinkware began appearing in the early 1870s, and vintage sets can be found in antique stores and on eBay.
Our introduction to the Tom & Jerry was at Drink in 2009 (despite having seen the bowl and mug set since 2007 at No. 9 Park). It was that night that we were exposed to how weird Tom & Jerrys could get -- instead of brandy, rum, or whiskey, we were served one with Fernet Branca! Since then, we have tinkered at home with strange spirits like Cynar and Angostura Bitters as well as cocktail combinations like the Negroni. This season, we tried out four using this recipe as a base:
2 Eggs (separated into whites and yolks)
3 oz Sugar
1/2 oz Aged Rum (Appleton Signature)
1/10 tsp Ground Clove
1/10 tsp Ground Nutmeg
1/10 tsp Ground Allspice (~3 berries)

Beat yolks until watery and then add rum and spices. Beat egg whites separately (I shook in a Boston shaker containing a balled up Hawthorne spring) until whites are stiff. Fold yolk mixture into the whites. Thicken with sugar until the mix has the consistency of cake batter. This is enough batter for six 4 oz servings (see below) or three 8 oz servings depending on your mug size.

Pre-warm each cup with boiling water (and dump), and then add:
1 part Batter
1 part Spirit
2 part Hot Milk (hot water is okay, but less rich)
Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.
After making this batch, my research pointed out that many people utilize equal parts batter, spirit, and hot milk. There is a trade off in temperature for ABV in this decision though.

The four combinations we made were:
(1) Baltimore T&J based off of the Baltimore Egg Nog. 1/2 oz Blandy's 5 Year Verdelho Madeira, 1/4 oz Camus VS Cognac, 1/4 oz Stolen Jamaican Overproof Aged Rum. Here, Jamaican rum funk worked well with delightful Madeira dried fruit notes.
(2) Ferrari & Jerry based off the Fernet-Campari shot. 1/2 oz Fernet Branca, 1/2 oz Campari. Minty, menthol, and orange for a great Christmas-y feel.
(3) Tropical & Jerry. 1/2 oz Coruba Rum, 1/4 oz Tempus Fugit Crème de Cacao, 1/4 oz Giffard Banane du Bresil. Funky rum, caramel, banana, and chocolate flavors underneath a nutmeg and banana nose.
(4) Smoky & Jerry. 1/2 oz Cutty Sark Prohibition Scotch, 1/2 oz Sfumato. The Chinese rhubarb came through on the nose and its bitter herbal flavor worked well with the Scotch on the swallow.

Overall, the tropical one was the winner with the Fernet-Campari one garnering second place.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

rusty soul

2 oz Apple Brandy (Laird's Bonded)
3/4 oz Cardamaro
1/4 oz Kümmel (Helbing)

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with a lemon twist.
While I was perusing the Kindred Cocktails database, I spotted the Rusty Soul that paired apple brandy with Cardamaro as was recommended by Haus Alpenz; I discussed this combination recently in the Wooden Shoe post. Here, Owen Thomson's recipe that he created at Washington DC's Bar Pilar and Café Saint-Ex was published in a 2014 Eric Felton article in the Wall Street Journal, and Owen rounded the duo off with spice from kümmel liqueur. In the glass, the Rusty Soul donated lemon and apple aromas. Next, the apple worked well with Cardamaro's grape on the sip, and the swallow showcased the apple flavors being complemented by caraway and herbal notes.

Friday, December 13, 2019

cross-eyed and painless

3/4 oz Tequila (Lunazul Blanco)
3/4 oz Sloe Gin (Atxa Pataxaran)
3/4 oz Dry Curaçao (Pierre Ferrand)
3/4 oz Lillet Rouge (Dubonnet)
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe pre-rinsed with Herbsaint, and garnish with a lemon twist.

Two Fridays ago, I reached for Sarah Baird's New Orleans Cocktails book, and there I spotted the Cross-Eyed and Painless. The recipe was crafted at the Ace Hotel in New Orleans and was named after a Talking Heads song. The combination of tequila and sloe gin made me think of Phil Ward's Lipspin, and agave and sloe gin have also worked well together in the Gail Collins, Ticket to Paradise, and a few other drinks.
Once prepared, the Cross-Eyed and Painless met the nose with lemon, tequila, anise, and sloe plum aromas. Next, berry, plum, and cherry notes mingled on the sip, and the swallow shared tequila, orange, coffee, and allspice flavors. I most likely skipped over this recipe before since it reads as though it has a high sugar content; when someone on Instagram asked if it was sweet, I replied, "Surprisingly drinkable although definitely a touch on the sweeter side."

Thursday, December 12, 2019


1 oz Laphroaig 10 Year Scotch
3/4 oz Rittenhouse Bonded Rye Whiskey
1/2 oz Bonal Gentiane-Quina
1/2 oz Lustau Amontillado Sherry
Scant 1/2 oz Lustau Pedro Ximenez Sherry (Oxford 1970)

Stir with ice, strain into a single old fashioned glass pre-rinsed with Pernod Absinthe (Butterfly), and garnish with lemon oil from a twist.
Two Thursdays ago, I returned home from work and was in need of a nightcap. For recipe inspiration, I turned to Leo Robitschek's The Nomad Cocktail Book and spotted his Vagabond that was described as a "smoky Scotch Old Fashioned with hints of anise." Once prepared, the Vagabond waved to the nose with lemon, anise, and peat aromas. Next, a rich, raisiny grape sip meandered into grape, Scotch's smoke, and rye's spice on the swallow with a quinine-anise finish.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019


1 1/2 oz Corn-based White Whiskey (Junior Johnson's Midnight Moon)
1/2 oz Punt e Mes
1/2 oz Cardamaro
1/4 oz Lustau Amontillado Sherry
1 dash Orange Bitters (Regan's)

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with orange oil from a twist (include the twist).
Two Wednesdays ago, I began thumbing through my Food & Wine: Cocktails library when I spotted the Luchador in the 2013 edition. That time point was in the heyday of the white whiskey craze that seems to have subsided greatly, and the Luchador was one that called for a corn-forward white dog. The recipe was crafted by Greg Buttera and Stephen Cole at Chicago's Barrel House Flat, and Buttera commented, "I wanted to build up layers of spice in this cocktail. The effect is a little like Christmas Pudding." Once prepared, the Luchador bowed to the nose with orange, grape and a hint of nuttiness. Next, it threw grape and a hint of orange into the sip, and finally the swallow began sweet and ended herbal, bitter, and oxidized-nutty.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

warday's cocktail

1/3 Dry Gin (1 oz Beefeater)
1/3 Calvados or Apple Brandy (1 oz Laird's Bonded)
1/3 Sweet Vermouth (1 oz Martini Grand Lusso)
1 tsp Chartreuse (1/6 oz Green)

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
Two Tuesdays ago, I was flipping through the 1937 Café Royal Cocktail Book when I spotted the Warday's Cocktail. I had first tried the drink back in early 2008 when I found it the Savoy Cocktail Book. My journal entry shows that it was the same recipe, and that "The Chartreuse wasn't specified and my notes say that I used Green but Yellow might do just as nicely (in fact, a quick Google search seems to indicate that most modern recipes for this drink use Yellow). The sweet vermouth and Calvados add a lot of fullness which is balanced by the gin and Chartreuse's complexity." I stuck with Green Chartreuse for it is my default when the color is not specified, and also the combination reminded me of an apple-rich Bijou; Yellow would most likely provide a softer and more rounded drink. Once prepared, the Warday's Cocktail's nose was dominated by the Chartreuse's herbal aromas. Next, grape and apple notes mingled on the sip, and the swallow showcased pine, apple, and herbal flavors. Overall, the teaspoon of Chartreuse went a long way and offered a much better balance than the equal parts Bijou.

Monday, December 9, 2019


1 1/2 oz Reposado Tequila (Cimmaron)
1/2 oz Aged Cachaça (Avua Balsamo)
3/4 oz Campari
3/4 oz Lime Juice
1/4 oz Vanilla Syrup
1/4 oz Allspice Dram
1/4 oz Cinnamon Syrup
1 pinch Salt
1 dash Angostura Bitters
2 dash Orange Bitters (Regan's)

Whip shake with crushed ice, pour into a Tiki mug, fill with crushed ice, and garnish with a citrus peel jelly fish (mint sprigs).
Two Mondays ago, I selected another Instagram drink that I had bookmarked -- namely, the Man-O-War by London's BigSmokeTiki. The Man-O-War was his Nui Nui riff with Campari and a pinch of salt subbing in for the orange juice and tequila and cachaça filling in for the rum (besides slightly altered proportions). Once prepared, the Man-O-War stung the nose with mint over vegetal notes (I was not feeling creative enough to make a citrus jellyfish and instead opted for my Zombie mint that had survived the last few frosts). Next, lime and orange notes on the sip swam into tequila, woody, allspice, and cinnamon flavors on the swallow.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

no quarter

1 oz Smith & Cross Rum
1 oz Jagermeister
1 oz Sweet Vermouth (Martini Grand Lusso)
1 bsp Benedictine
1 dash Angostura Bitters
1 dash Regan's Orange Bitters

Stir with ice, strain into an old fashioned glass with a large ice cube, and garnish with an orange twist.
Two Sundays ago, I returned to a cocktail that I had spotted on Instagram called the No Quarter. The recipe was crafted by Keith Corwin (@BerlinCocktails) of the Quarter Bar in Brooklyn, and it was the first drink that he got on a menu ever while at the Thelonious Bar in Berlin (then called "Keith No. 1"). Once prepared, the No Quarter welcomed the nose with orange, rum funk, and grape aromas. Next, caramel and grape mingled on the sip, and the swallow showcased the rum's funk and the Jagermeister's spices especially the ginger and clove. While I was expecting this drink to come across like a Kingston Negroni, the balance and feel were closer to an Arawak.

Friday, December 6, 2019

morale & welfare

1 1/2 oz Plantation OFTD Overproof Rum
3/4 oz Cinnamon Syrup
3/4 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Grapefruit Juice
2 dash Bittermens Mole Bitters

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail coupe with an ice cube.

Two and a half weeks ago, La Brasa held its monthly E-Som (East Somerville) Market, and the guest bartender was Ryan Lotz representing Shore Leave (he is also the bar director of Bar Mezzana and Black Lamb). I have known Ryan for over 9 years since he was at the helm of the cocktail program at Lineage, and it was both an honor and a lot of fun to share the bar with him. Ryan mentioned that he was working a bar shift that Friday night, and I figured that it would be convenient to stop by after I took the first cut at Area Four as Shore Leave is two blocks away.
The drink that I selected two Fridays ago was the Morale & Welfare whose name reminded me of another Daiquiri riff, the Death & Sundries, and it was subtitled "This Daiquiri variation will keep your spirits high." The Morale & Welfare greeted the nose with dark rum notes with a hint of funk. Next, a caramel, lime, and grapefruit sip slid into a funky rum swallow with a cinnamon and chocolate finish.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

significant other

2 oz Blanco Tequila (Lunazul)
3/4 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Apricot Liqueur (Combier)
1/2 oz 1:1 Agave Syrup
8 small pieces Chopped Celery

Shake with ice, strain into a rocks glass with fresh ice (cocktail coupe without ice), and garnish with a celery leaf.
After work two Thursdays ago, I turned to the Brooklyn Bartender book for a drink idea. There, I spotted Tom Dixon's fruity and vegetal Significant Other that he crafted at Roberta's. Once prepared, the Significant Other donated a vegetal nose from the agave and perhaps celery elements. Next, a lime sip slipped into tequila and apricot flavors on the swallow with a delightful celery finish.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

:: great gift ideas ::

1360 recipes from Boston from ~2005 to 2017: the Golden Age of Boston Cocktails! My first book, Drink & Tell: A Boston Cocktail Book came out in 2012 as my love letter to my city, its bartenders, bars, and recipes. That book alone drove me to drop my day job and become a professional bartender. My next, book, Boston Cocktails: Drunk & Told in 2017 covers the next 5 years of progression tracing the diaspora of talented bartenders across town as new places opened up. A completely new book with no repeats (save for parts of the techniques section) with a dozen or so essays about hospitality, the Daiquiri Time Out origins, and the history of modern Boston speakeasies. While the first book captured a little over 40 bars and 505 recipes, the second was in excess of 100 locations and 855 recipes.

One of my favorite reviews on Amazon:

Perfect holiday presents right here:
Drink & Tell: A Boston Cocktail Book: on Amazon, B&N, and at the Boston Shaker (signed copies available online and in-store).
Boston Cocktails: Drunk & Told: on Amazon, B&N, and at the Boston Shaker (signed copies available online and in-store).

final ward eight

1 1/4 oz Rye Whiskey (Old Overholt)
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1/4 oz Green Chartreuse
1/4 oz Maraschino (Luxardo)
1/4 oz Grenadine
1/4 oz Orange Juice

Shake with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with an orange twist (a cherry or a lemon twist or no garnish at all would work well here too).

Two Wednesdays ago, Phil Ward's Last Word riff, the Final Ward, came into my mind. My mind free associated with the name and thought about the 1898 Boston classic, Ward 8. Those two drinks share two ingredients, rye and lemon juice, and one word in the name, so why not try to mash them up?
The Final Ward Eight was the end result, and it welcomed the nose with orange oil over rye whiskey and nutty Maraschino notes. Next, a lemon and berry sip slid into rye, nutty cherry, orange juice, and Chartreuse's herbal flavors on the swallow. Overall, it was not as blaring as the Final Ward and not as basic as the Ward 8 but somewhere pleasantly in between.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

magic truce

4/10 Segram's Bourbon (1 1/3 oz Wild Turkey 101)
3/10 Drambuie (1 oz)
1/10 Noilly Prat Dry Vermouth (1/3 oz)
1/10 Orange Juice (1/3 oz)
1/10 Lemon Juice (1/3 oz)

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass; I added a lemon twist.
After having had success with the 1937 Café Royal Cocktail Book via the Morning Glory, I returned to that book two Tuesdays ago and found the Magic Truce. The recipe was crafted by UK Bartender Guild member C. Chiswell who was most famous for being one of the founders in 1951 of the International Bartender Association or IBA. Once prepared, the Magic Truce conjured up a lemon and floral aroma. Next, malt, orange, lemon, and honey on the sip agreed upon Bourbon, honey, and herbal notes on the swallow. Overall, it was not sweet as I first expected, but raising the dry vermouth and juice quotients a bit (or dropping the Drambuie amount) would make for a more balanced drink.

Monday, December 2, 2019


1 1/2 oz Manzanilla Sherry (Lustau Fino)
1 oz Sweet Vermouth (Martini Grand Lusso)
3/4 oz Campari

Stir with ice, strain into a Nick & Nora glass, and garnish with orange oil from a twist.
Two Mondays ago, I was still exhausted from a long work week, so I wanted something low proof as a compromise to abstaining completely. Therefore, I reached for Drew Lazor's Session Cocktails book and spotted the Sharon by New York City bartender Tristan Willey. The Sharon was his lower proof Negroni riff, and he described how "Dry sherry has such as strong backbone. It lends so much to a drink while asking so little of the drinker." Once assembled, the Sharon welcomed the nose with savory and orange oil aromas. Next, an off-dry red grape sip stepped aside to sweet vermouth transitioning to dry, crisp sherry with bitter orange notes in between on the swallow.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

morning glory

1/2 Brandy (2 oz Camus VS Cognac)
1/4 Curaçao (1/2 oz Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao + 1 bsp simple syrup)
1/4 Lemon Juice (1/2 oz)
2 dash Absinthe (3/4 bsp St. George)
2 dash Angostura Bitters

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

Two Sundays ago, I revisited the 1937 Café Royal Cocktail Book for a drink idea. There, I was lured in by the Morning Glory which is not the better know Fizz one but somewhat close to the Morning from Boothby's 1934 edition. Moreover, it was similar to a Sidecar with absinthe and bitters or perhaps an Alabazam with absinthe. The idea appealed to me since earlier in the day, I made one of the servers at work a Sidecar for his brunch shift drink since he recently had an enjoyable one out on the town, and we spent a few moments discussing the drink's history and where it fits in with the cocktail families.
The Morning Glory opened up with lemon oil, brandy, and anise aromas. Next, lemon and orange notes on the sip climbed towards Cognac, orange, clove, and anise flavors on the swallow.