Thursday, December 31, 2020

atta girl

1 1/2 oz Gin (Beefeater)
3/4 oz Sweet Vermouth (Cocchi)
3/4 oz Dry Vermouth (Noilly Prat)
1/4 oz Fernet Branca
1/4 oz Grenadine

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

Two Thursdays ago, I spotted a reference to the Dickensian Villain, and I recalled how well Fernet Branca and grenadine paired there and in the Jim Rose and Noble. The ingredient duo made me think of two gin drinks from the Savoy Cocktail Book, namely the Hanky Panky with Fernet and the Atta Boy with grenadine, and I wanted to see what a mash up would yield.
For a name, I figured that it ought to be a tribute to the Hanky Panky creator, Ada Coleman, so I dubbed this one the Atta Girl. Once prepared, it donated an orange, fruity, and mint aroma to the nose. Next, berry and grape on the sip transferred into gin and red fruit on the swallow with a bitter gentian and menthol finish.

:: fred's top 10 cocktail moments of 2020 ::

In 2010, I was asked what my favorite cocktail that year was, and I decided not only to start a list of my favorite drinks, but I decided to list the top moments of the previous 12 months. So to continue with the tradition (despite 2020 being what it was), here is the 11th annual installment:

1. I became a whiskey guardian.
Last year, I hinted that I had a new gig as a part time brand ambassador, but I did not give any details past it being a whiskey distillery and they found me. A year later, I can reveal that it is Angel's Envy, and I have been enjoying the position. The beginning of the year had me doing lots of activities in bars and restaurants (including hosting a killer post-Speed Rack after party at Silvertone), and we pivoted the program to reach out to liquor stores to do promotions, events, and videos as well as to home consumers through virtual events. I planned on doing this alongside bartending part time; however, just as I finished off my 7th year behind the stick, the pandemic knocked out that means of work. I have not returned due to the lack of positions, diminished earning potential, increased stress, and health concerns. Perhaps in 2021, I will find myself bartending again, but until that point, I will be focusing on American whiskeys.
2. Got more involved in the bartender's guild.
This year I continued on with my roll as secretary for the Boston chapter of the USBG. While it was not the most active year given safety concerns, we did have a few events in the beginning of the year and one in-person event once the quarantine began which was a kayaking on the Charles adventure. The rest were some cool virtual events such as our tour and tasting with Barr Hill. To assist with the pandemic issues themselves, I volunteered with the USBG charitable arm to help with the caseload. And finally, I joined the national educational committee and put in a number of hours to get education week off the ground; I also assembled the wrap-up slide show from the various chapters' social medias. I did get featured twice -- once in a chapter leader spotlight and the other was actually my cat Embury (photo of him below) as part of animal shelter appreciation month.

3. Learned how to shoot and edit videos.
The brand work really helped bolster my confidence speaking in front of groups, but it was the addition of video work that rounded off this skill set. The virtual age of quarantine extended my job description to include Zoom tastings, video shoots, and video editing to my repertoir. I began an Instagram-TV series of whiskey cocktails created here in Boston (13 episodes to date) with me providing backstory on the recipe, the bartender, and/or bar while making the drink. Also in that link is a video of me making whiskey-glazed maple walnut scones, so baking videos as well! I also did videos with stores such as the Boston Shaker and Ball Square Fine Wines. Moreover, I gave a few virtual talks and tastings, and the one at Julio's Liquors was recorded (that had an in-person aspect with 10 spectators behind plexiglass stations that were spread out in a large room).
4. I wrote some essays.
For my post-Speed Rack after party, the featured Angel's Envy menu item was not some fancy cocktail but a boilermaker where we donated money to a breast cancer charity that spoke to me, namely the Ellie Fund. Afterward, I wrote up a tribute to said beer-shot duo. When the lock down began, I penned an essay for the USBG site about how life's path is rarely a straight line; it was in the first week of things so forgive any optimism or naïveté. There was also an essay that should have been merely a mention in the "got press" section in this list, but the article's author trimmed my quote to fit his right wing agenda; therefore, I won't link to that article but instead to my treatise on hospitality versus activism that followed. Finally, during quarantine, I noticed that I began dipping into my collectors bottles -- whether old, rare, or meaningful to only me -- and I wondered if others were doing the same. I put the question out there but did not get many responses, so I wrote later wrote up what the pandemic and spirits collecting taught me about life.

5. Got press.
Despite the limitations, I did get a bit of press this year. The coolest one came out this past month where a recipe that I created at Russell House Tavern almost 6 years ago (that never made a menu and might not have been served to a guest) got noticed and picked up by Epicurious in this article with the recipe published separately here. I also had a recipe published in Distiller using Benedictine with a bonus quote about Drambuie. When the lockdown came on, I was quoted in the Weekly Dig about how the service industry was handling things. And finally, some of my recommendations found their way into Uproxx and related sites for late season IPAs, Fall beers, Scotches for Bourbon drinkers, Canadian whisky, tequila, Scotches (original question was favorite Highland), and triple IPAs.
6. I read a bit.
I started the year off with a solid pace but somewhere around June or July, I began to falter. In the end, I read 19 books with 16 in the beginning of the year and 3 over the second half. Some of my favorites were Charles Bukowski's On Drinking, Bernie Lubbers' Bourbon Whiskey: Our Native Spirit, Bob Holmes' Flavor, Rafe Bartholomew's Two and Two: McSorley's, My Dad, and Me, Hector Garcia's The Book of Ichigo Ichie: The Art of Making the Most of Every Moment, Lulu Miller's Why Fish Don't Exist: A Story of Loss, Love, and the Hidden Order of Life, Lew Bryson's Whiskey Master Class, and Eric Alperin's Unvarnished.

7. I created some drinks!
Given that I did not work behind a bar or go out for cocktails for most of the year, I was a bit more productive at my home bar than usual. With Tiki drinks, I crafted the Shipwrecked, Who Killed Mr. Moonlight?, and the Doomscroller as my top three. For Sours, the Saidoka and Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea were probably my better two. And lastly, I did several bitter drinks with honorable mention going to The Elephant in the Room, Horror Hotel, Caveat Emptor, and The Kid with the Replaceable Head.
8. Visited brewery taprooms.
We tried to play it as safe as we could, and we found that brewery taprooms were good options (especially with recommendations of which ones were up on their protocols). Technically, beer gardens since all of them were outside. We finally got brave and ventured out starting in August to Lookout Farms which had a website-based ordering system and tables spaced out 15 feet apart in one of their fields. Some of the new ones that we made it to were Medusa's beer garden (down the street from the brewery), Faces Brewing Co., Cold Harbor Brewery, Backbeat Brewing Company, Timberyard Brewing Company, and Spicket River Brewery. We did not make it out to as many as previous years; with the need to buy food at each first round, we also limited our adventures to a single brewery instead of hitting 2-4 per adventure. Otherwise, much of my local beer appreciation happened at home either in my kitchen or in warmer months on our unit's deck on the second floor. That deck was a great escape where we watched the sun set and the bats flit around.

9. Traveled slightly.
Before the pandemic, I made it to New York City twice. There, I got to have beers at McSorley's (pictured above) where my dad drank in the late 60s when he went to nearby Cooper Union. There were cocktail adventures to Amor y Amargo, Pouring Ribbons, and Holiday Cocktail Lounge. I also made it to Louisville once for Angel's Envy training, and I got to visit some old and some new spots there. Unfortunately, my April trips to Louisville for the Angel's Envy national meeting for Whiskey Guardians and to Pittsburg for the USBG Northeast regional meeting got canceled. After that, I think the only time that I left Massachusetts was cutting through Rhode Island to get to another part of Massachusetts to visit a beer garden.

10. Really, you expect 10 good answers of what I got done during a pandemic?
The last one has historically been the hardest to answer. No, I was not energized enough to write a third cocktail book. Instead, we lived somewhat frugally and made use of our kitchen for most of our meals. We found a love of our deck to hang out on and even gussied it up with cafe string lights. Virtual drinking parties were also a thing with two major rituals springing up. One was Sazerac Sundays (pictured above) which lasted for several weeks, and the other one was Daiquiri Time Out which was every Monday and Friday for a little over two months. These were quite valuable as a way of socializing and not feeling alone, but soon Zoom fatigue set in, and the events trailed off. Who knows what next year will bring, but cheers and thanks for reading along this year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

lost leader

1 oz Plymouth Gin (Beefeater)
1/2 oz Bull Run Pacific Rum (Privateer Tres Aromatique)
1/2 oz Combier Crème de Peche (Mathilde)
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1/4 oz 2:1 Demerara Syrup (1:1)

Shake with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, spritz Herbsaint over the top (4 drop), and garnish with a lemon twist.
Two Wednesdays ago, I delved into the 2012 The Cocktail Hour series and spotted the Lost Leader in gin edition. The Lost Leader was crafted by Tommy Klus at Kask in Portland, Oregon, and an old menu found online suggested that there was some ingredient drift given the description, "Haymans Old Tom Gin, Ron Matusalem Platino, Orchard Pear Liqueur, lemon, Herbsaint." In the glass, the Lost Leader presented a peach, anise, and lemon bouquet to the nose. Next, lemon with a hint of stone fruit on the sip gave way to gin, rum, and peach on the swallow that gained anise on the finish over time. Overall, the rum acted as a good flavor bridge between the gin and the peach liqueur.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020


1/2 Orange Gin (1 1/2 oz Beefeater + 1 bsp Cointreau + 2 dash Angostura Orange Bitters)
1/2 Lillet (1 1/2 oz Cocchi Americano)
2 dash Maraschino (1 bsp Luxardo)

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

Two Tuesdays ago, I decided to make the Comet from the 1937 Café Royal Cocktail Book that was distinct from the 1952 Comet that David Wondrich uncovered. While the more recent Comet was named after a jetliner, it was not made clear what the elder recipe referred to; the book only proffered that it was created by bartender Dorothy Perosino. One possibility was the Comet Skjellerup–Maristany that was visible for 32 days in 1927 and was noteworthy enough to be mentioned in J. R. R. Tolkien's book Letters From Father Christmas. I had skipped over this recipe previously since I lacked orange gin -- a style once rather common given the number of recipes that it appeared in and now can be found produced by Malfy (although I have only seen and tried their lemon gin). Luckily, Jeff Masson and Greg Boehm provided adaptation advice in The Big Bartender's Book.
The Comet soared to the nose with orange and pineapple-like aromas. Next, apricot notes on the sip led to orange, juniper, and nutty cherry flavors on the swallow.

Monday, December 28, 2020

talent scout

2 oz Buffalo Trace Bourbon (Old Tub Bonded)
1/2 oz Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao
2 dash Angostura Bitters
2 dash Orange Bitters (Angostura Orange)

Stir with ice, strain into an old fashioned glass with ice, and garnish with an orange twist.
Two Mondays prior, I delved back into Carey Jones' Brooklyn Bartender book to find a glossed-over gem. There, I was drawn in by the Talent Scout crafted by Brian Smith at the Colonie for it reminded me of a curaçao-for-Maraschino Fancy Free or perhaps a Bourbon-for-Genever Dutch Courage. Once prepared, the Talent Scout welcomed the senses with an orange and Bourbon aroma. Next, a malt-driven sip led into whiskey, orange, clove, and allspice flavors on the swallow with an orange finish.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

dead monk's society

1 1/4 oz Rittenhouse Bonded Rye (1 3/4 oz due to a misread)
3/4 oz Broadbent Verdelho Madeira (Blandy's 5 Year)
light 1/4 oz Benedictine
light 1/4 oz Amaro Ramazzotti
2 dash Regan's Orange Bitters (Angostura Orange)

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with an orange twist placed on the edge of the glass.
Two Sundays ago, I returned to Brian Bartels' The United States of Cocktails and spotted the Dead Monk's Society. The recipe was attributed to Kevin King at McCrady's in Charleston, SC, circa 2016, and I had to assume that this Creole-like number was a reference to the monks that make Benedictine. The book did describe that the Madeira factored into the equation here since George Washington drank that fortified wine with his meal at the original McCrady's centuries ago. Once prepared, the Dead Monk's Society met the nose with an orange, rye, and root beer bouquet. Next, a semi-dry grape and caramel sip carried into a rye, root beer, herbal, and orange swallow.

Saturday, December 26, 2020

yule grog

3/4 oz Aged Jamaican Rum (3/8 oz each Plantation Xaymaca and Smith & Cross)
3/4 oz Aged Barbados Rum (RL Seale 10 Year)
3/4 oz Pineapple Rum (Plantation)
1/4 oz Branca Menta
1/4 oz Don's Spices #2 (1/8 oz each vanilla syrup and Hamilton's Allspice Dram)
1/4 oz Passion Fruit Syrup
1/2 oz Honey Syrup
3/4 oz Lime Juice
3/4 oz Graperuit Juice

Shake with ice, strain into a double old fashioned glass with a Grog ice cone, and garnish with mint sprigs, flowers, and powdered sugar (omit the garnishes).

Two Saturdays ago, I was lured in by one of Brian Maxwell's Christmas drinks that he posted on his Shaker of Spirits blog. That one was the Yule Grog which was a riff on the Navy Grog with the honey found in Don the Beachcomber's version and the allspice from Trader Vic's. There were other flavors added to the mix including vanilla, passion fruit (found in the Old Yellowstain Grog), pineapple, and Branca Menta.
The Yule Grog presented a tropical aroma from the passion fruit syrup and the pineapple rum. Next, lime, grapefruit, passion fruit, and honey filled the sip, and the swallow rounded out the profile with funky rum, pineapple, allspice, and minty-menthol flavors.

Friday, December 25, 2020

tre amici

1 oz Amaro Montenegro
1 oz Punt e Mes
1 oz Martini Riserva Speciale Sweet Vermouth (Cocchi)
4 dash Fee's Orange Bitters (Angostura Orange)
1 wedge Orange (1 slice)

Shake with ice, strain into an old fashioned glass with ice, and garnish with an orange twist.

Two Fridays ago, I reached for Dale DeGroff's The New Craft of the Cocktail book and spotted the Tre Amici that reminded me of my Tre Amari Fizz. Here, there was only one amaro with a vermouth and a vermouth-amaro as the three main players. Dale seemed to attribute the drink to George Delgado of the Greatest Bar on Earth at the Windows of the World restaurant in New York City. Windows of the World was located in the north tower of the World Trade Center, and the name perhaps alluded to Delgado's loss of friends on September 11th. The shaking with an orange slice was a technique utilized in Sam Ross' Too Soon?, Hugo Ensslin's Twin Six, and my Before the Bell where the slice donated not only juice but aromatic and bitter peel flavors to the mix.
The Tre Amici presented an orange and dark grape aroma that set the stage for an orange and grape sip. Next, there was a complex bitter swallow finishing with tangerine citrus notes.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

beverly pickup

1 oz Cognac (Pierre Ferrand Ambre)
1 oz Dubonnet
1 oz Dry Sherry (La Garrocha Amontillado)

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

Two Thursday ago, I selected Ted Saucier's Bottoms Up for the evening's libation. There, I spotted the Beverly Pickup attributed to the Beverly Country Club in New Orleans. I was curious about the club, and the first article that I found had the title, "Remembering The Beverly, a mob-run playground in Jefferson Parish," so immediately I was intrigued. This illegal yet elegant casino ran from 1945 through 1962 when it became a dinner theater until it burned down in 1983. Mobsters drinking sherry and Dubonnet? Epic if true, but not so far fetched if owner Phil Kastel lived up to his nickname of "Dandy."
The Beverly Pickup welcomed the senses with a lemon, Cognac, and plum aroma. Next, grape and red fruit notes on the sip gave way to Cognac, nutty, and light herbal flavors on the swallow.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

swine & roses

1 1/4 oz Barbados Rum (RL Seale 10 Year)
1 1/4 oz Cognac (Plantation Ambre)
1/2 oz Falernum (Velvet)
2 dash Angostura Bitters
2 dash Peychaud's Bitters

Stir with ice, strain into a rocks glass rinsed with absinthe (Kübler), and garnish with a lime twist on the edge of the glass.

Two Wednesdays ago, I mentioned in an internet thread on the Corn'n'Oil about how there was an old Cognac-based one that distiller Richard Seale found in a 1911 book. The rum version has won out over time, but I had to imagine that the French brandy choice was the aristocrat's version as it was in America in the Julep and other drinks. Therefore, I wondered what it would be like as a split-base cocktail using both Cognac and Barbados rum, and the split base with rum reminded me of the rye-Cognac Sazeracs that I rather enjoy. Therefore, I took the riff in that direction by adding Peychaud's Bitters and an absinthe rinse to the mix, but I opted for a lime instead of lemon twist.
The original's name was derived from Deuteronomy 11:13-15, and after searching related Bible verses, I got frustrated in the hopes of finding something that worked. The name Swine & Roses popped into my head from the 1990 dance club hit "The Days of Swine and Roses" by the band My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult, and it seemed to flow. Once prepared, the Swine & Roses offered up a lime and anise aroma to the nose. Next, a slightly caramel sip led into Cognac, rum, lime, ginger, clove, and anise flavors on the swallow.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

flora astoria

2 oz Hendrick's Gin (Tanqueray Malacca)
1/2 oz Dolin Blanc Vermouth
1/2 oz Dolin Dry Vermouth (Noilly Prat)
1 bsp Velvet Falernum
4 dash Lavender Tincture (1 dash Scrappy's Lavender Bitters)

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with a dried lavender sprig (lemon twist).

Two weeks ago, I attended a Zoom session with the Scrappy's Bitters folks where they sent me a bunch of bitters samples in advance. Also in the kit was a sweetened whiskey sample that would serve as a base of an Old Fashioned with our choice of bitters or combinations thereof. In the mix was Scrappy's Lavender Bitters, so I decided the next night to make the Flora Astoria from the PDT Cocktail Book. The recipe was crafted by Lindsay Nader and Anne Robinson as their flowery riff of the inverse Martini, the Astoria, from The Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book (it actually appeared a little before that in the 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book).
The Flora Astoria presented a lavender, citrus, and pine bouquet to the nose. Next, a semi-sweet white grape sip slipped into gin, lavender, and lime flavors on the swallow.

Monday, December 21, 2020


1 1/2 oz Reposado Tequila (Lunazul)
1/2 oz Mezcal (Fidencio)
1/2 oz Apricot Liqueur (Rothman & Winter)
1/2 oz Lime Juice
2 dash Peychaud's Bitters

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail coupe. Perhaps increasing the apricot and lime to 3/4 oz each would give this a bit more body.
Two Mondays ago, I was thinking about the Pendennis Cocktail with its apricot, Peychaud's, and lime, and wondered what it would be like as an agave-based drink instead of a gin one. Therefore, I subbed in the reposado tequila-mezcal combination from the Oaxacan Old Fashioned to round out this mashup. For a name, I dubbed this the Lupita after the Mexican actress Lupita Tovar who was born in Oaxaca and starred in the 1931 Spanish language version of Dracula. Once prepared, the Lupita shared a smoke aroma over apricot notes. Next, lime and orchard fruit on the sip sallied into smoky agave, bitter apricot, and anise on the swallow.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

smoking hand

3/4 oz Highland Scotch (Deveron 12 Year) (*)
3/4 oz Islay Scotch (Caol Ila 12 Year) (*)
3/4 oz Sweet Vermouth (Cocchi)
3/4 oz Campari
3 dash Bittermens Mole Bitters

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with a cherry.
(*) I only had the ingredients list, so I utilized the related Tres Hands with tequila and mezcal as my model. Adjust the ratios of the two according to taste and whisky choice.

Two Sundays ago, I returned to Sasha Petraske's Regarding Cocktails and came upon the entry for the Right Hand. In the description were its siblings, and the only one that I had not made was the Smoking Hand with Scotch for I could not find a recipe for it. Therefore, I improvised instead and used the Tres Hands as my recipe model with its equal parts nonsmoky and smoky spirit split. To balance that, I opted for a less intense Islay, namely Caol Ila, to work well here and not overwhelm my Highland Scotch. The Hand series was described by Sam Ross, but he did not attribute the creators of these less famous Milk & Honey classics.
The Smoking Hand met the nose with a peat smoke aroma before heading into a grape and malt sip. Next, smoky and briny Scotch flavors were joined by bitter orange ones on the swallow and followed by a chocolate and smoke finish.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

la belle femme

1 3/4 oz Cognac or Armagnac (Larressingle VSOP Armagnac)
3/4 oz Dubonnet Rouge
1/2 oz Aperol
1/4 oz Absinthe (Butterfly)

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

Two Saturdays after having luck with my 2010 A Taste for Absinthe book, I decided to dust off the other absinthe recipe book from that year, namely Kate Simon's Absinthe Cocktails. There, I spotted Chris Hannah's La Belle Femme crafted at Arnaud's French 75 in New Orleans that he named for the beautiful women of the French Quarter. I then found the recipe on Food & Wine and merged the two keeping the Kate Simon's orange twist (opposed to a lemon one) but opting for the site's increased Dubonnet and Aperol measurements (up from 1/2 oz and 1/3 oz, respectively). Dubonnet and Aperol was one that I have seem Chris utilize before in the Decolletage, and it also appeared in PDT's Foreign Legion.
La Belle Femme greeted the nose with an orange, grape, and licorice aroma. Next, grape, berry, and orange notes on the sip rounded the corner to brandy, fruity, and licorice-herbal flavors on the swallow.

Friday, December 18, 2020

angel's envy rye-glazed maple walnut scones

This is my own riff on the scone recipes in Isa Chandra Moskowitz's Vegan with a Vengeance book using the flavors in Angel's Envy Rye Whiskey as my inspiration.

Check out my cooking video (3m43s with music) here!

First, pre-heat the oven for 400°F. The glaze is presented first in the video, but it can be made while the scones are baking to be most time efficient. I powderized my own sugar in the blender, but confectioners' sugar is quicker and produces a better glaze texture. However, by making your own, you can use something more flavorful than white sugar. I used cane crystals but some brown sugar in the mix would work great!

Mix and then set aside:
• 2 Tbsp melted margarine (or butter)
• 2 Tbsp Angel's Envy Rye
• 1 cup powderized (or confectioners') sugar
Solid scone ingredients:
Add to a bowl and mix:
• 3 cups white or all purpose flour (I often replace 1/2 – 2/3 cup of that with whole wheat)
• 2 Tbsp baking powder
• 1/4 tsp salt
• 1 cup chopped walnuts
Wet scone ingredients:
Add to a separate container and mix:
• 1/3 cup vegetable oil
• 1 1/4 cup soy milk
• 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
• 2 Tbsp maple syrup
Add the liquid scone ingredients into the dry and mix until combined. Divide the dough into 12-16 pieces, place on an oiled baking sheet, and insert the baking sheet into the 400°F oven. Sip some Angel's Envy Rye for 12-15 minutes and then remove the baking sheet from the oven. Let cool to room temperature. Pour the glaze over the scones and wait several minutes for the glaze to set (or face sticky fingers).

montresor & fortunado

1 1/2 oz Mezcal (Fidencio)
3/4 oz Amontillado Sherry (La Garrocha)
3/4 oz Cynar
1/4 oz St. Germain (St. Elder)
2 dash Orange Bitters (Angostura Orange)

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with lemon oil from a twist (garnished with twist).

Two Fridays ago, I desired a sherry recipe, so I searched the Kindred Cocktails and found the Montresor & Fortunado. This Edgar Allan Poe-themed drink was created by New York City bartender Rafa Garcia Febles in 2014, and it was named after two of the characters in "The Cask of the Amontillado." The agave spirit, fortified wine, Cynar, and elderflower liqueur structure reminded me of the Libretto, Mexican Turnover, and Nina Brava, so I was definitely intrigued by this libation. Moreover, the concept tied into a bit of Boston history for Poe was inspired by a legend he heard while serving in a fort in Boston Harbor called Fort Independence on Castle Island. It involved a duel over a card game where the other soldiers got the duel's winner drunk and entombed him in a vault in the fort as revenge. The only evidence backing up this legend was that a skeleton in a decaying military uniform was uncovered in 1905 chained to the wall in an abandoned gun emplacement.
The Montresor & Fortunado greeted the senses with a lemon, smoke, and vegetal nose. Next, grape, caramel, and grapefruit notes on the sip followed with smoky mezcal, funky herbal, nutty sherry, and floral flavors on the swallow.

Thursday, December 17, 2020


1/2 Brandy (1 1/2 oz Courvoisier VS Cognac)
1/4 Bacardi (3/4 oz Santa Teresa Claro + 1 bsp Batavia Arrack)
1/2 juice of Lime (1/2 oz)
2 dash Fraise Syrup (1 frozen Strawberry muddled in 1/2 oz Simple Syrup)

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
Two Thursdays ago, I opened up Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars: 1903-1933 and spotted the Richelieu. While I did not have a fraise syrup on hand, I improvised with a frozen strawberry and simple syrup to make this drink. There was no history provided about the name, but there was the 1914 American silent historical drama film based on the play "Richelieu" which would at least match up with the book's time frame. That title referred to Armand Jean du Plessis known as Cardinal Richelieu in France, and his nickname of "The Red Eminence" would match the drink's color. Once assembled, the Richelieu cocktail proffered a strawberry, lime, and rum aroma. Next, it decreed a strawberry and lime sip that gave way to Cognac and grassy funk flavors on the swallow.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

caveat emptor

1 oz Plantation OFTD Overproof Rum
1 oz Lustau East India Solera Sherry (*)
1/2 oz Benedictine
1/2 oz Cynar
1 dash Mole Bitters (Bittermens)

Stir with ice, strain into a Campari-rinsed cocktail coupe, and garnish with a grapefruit twist.
(*) An Amontillado or Oloroso will work here in a pinch but will come across as a little drier and lacking light raisiny notes. Lustau's cream sherry is a mix of Oloroso with a little Pedro Ximenez.

Two Wednesdays ago, I recalled Maks Pazuniak's Warning Label from the 2011 Beta Cocktails book and was inspired to riff on it. I subbed out the 151 proof Demerara rum and Punt e Mes for Plantation OFTD and Lustau's East India Solera Sherry, respectively, for starters. I also split the Cynar with Benedictine as drinks like the Filthy Rich and Chachita were still fresh in my mind. Finally, instead of the grapefruit bitters, I utilized mole bitters and replaced the grapefruit notes by swapping out the lemon twist with a grapefruit one, and I kept Maks' original Campari rinse intact.
For a name, I dubbed this one the Caveat Emptor which means that the buyer is responsible for assessing the quality and suitability before purchasing the goods. In the glass, the Caveat Emptor met the nose with an offer of grapefruit, smoky, chocolate, and bitter orange aromas. Next, a grape and caramel sip approved of the funky rum, vegetal, herbal, and bitter orange flavors on the swallow.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

royal scot

6/10 Vat 69 Whisky (1 3/4 oz Famous Grouse)
2/10 Drambuie (1/2 oz)
1/10 Grenadine (1/4 oz)
1/10 Lemon Juice (1/2 oz)

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass; I added a lemon twist.
Two Tuesdays ago, I returned to the 1937 Café Royal Cocktail Book and spotted the Royal Scot by UK Bartender's Guild member F. Bowling. I found this Whisky Sour with Drambuie and grenadine to be curious enough to try especially after remembering how well Scotch paired with grenadine in Eastern Standard's Coup d'État and Hugo Ensslin's Little Rebel. Once assembled, the Royal Scot welcomed the senses with a lemon, whisky, honey, and berry bouquet. Next, a lemon and berry sip led into Scotch, honey, and herbal flavors on the swallow. Indeed, the grenadine added a fruity complexity to the mix that was absent in the Lake George.

Monday, December 14, 2020

dutch coupe

2 oz Bols Corenwyn
1/2 oz Carpano Sweet Vermouth (2/3 oz Cocchi)
2 tsp Cynar (1/3 oz)
1 dash Orange Flower Water (6 drop)
1 dash Orange Bitters (Angostura Orange)

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with an orange twist.
Two Mondays ago, I perused Gary Regan's The Joy of Mixology, Revised and Updated Edition and spotted the Dutch Coupe that would make use of the bottle of Corenwyn Genever that I bought in the Schiphol Airport during a layover on a business trip many years ago. The recipe was for the Dutch Coupe crafted by Tess Posthumus at Door 74 in Amsterdam (now at Flying Dutchmen and Dutch Courage bars) to commemorate the abdication of Queen Beatrix of Netherlands in 2013. Once prepared, the Dutch Coupe proffered an orange aroma from the twist and the flower water over that of the Corenwyn's malt. Next, caramel and grape of the sip transitioned to a bitter malt swallow with a vegetal orange finish.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

volcano house hot buttered rum

1 jigger Myers' Rum (2 oz Plantation Original Dark)
1/2 jigger Sirop (1/2 oz Simple Syrup)
1/2 jigger Lemon Juice (1/2 oz)
A few dashes Maraschino (1 scant bsp Luxardo)

Build in a large Fizz glass (pre-heated single old fashioned). Fill with very hot tea (5-6 oz Japanese green tea), float a small piece of butter, and add a lemon twist and 3-4 cloves.

For a cocktail suggestion two Sunday nights ago, I picked out Ted Saucier's Bottoms Up and spotted a hot drink recipe that seemed perfect for the chilly weather. That drink was the Hot Buttered Rum created at the Volcano House in Hawaii by Bob A. Ida. I came to love Hot Buttered Rum when I tasked myself to create the house recipe at Loyal Nine for the inaugural winter season, and I have enjoyed the other Tiki-style ones that I have found in the literature such as the Pub & Prow's Hot Buttered Rum, Hot Tiger's Milk, and the Hot Zombie. This Hawaiian recipe was closest to the Hot Zombie for it contained citrus juice in the mix.
The Volcano House's Hot Buttered Rum was subtitled in the book with "A welcome drink on cold rainy days" which sounded more delightful than the weather we were experiencing in the Northeast. On the nose, butter, lemon, and dark rum aromas greeted the senses. Next, lemon with a slickness from the butter filled the sip, and the swallow came through with dark rum, lemon, green tea, and a hint of nuttiness from the Maraschino.

Saturday, December 12, 2020

23 jump street

1 3/4 oz Calle 23 Reposado Tequila (Lunazul)
1/2 oz Bonal Gentiane-Quina
1/2 oz Punt e Mes
6-8 dash Creole Bitters (Peychaud's)
6-8 dash Orange Bitters (Angostura Orange)

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

Two Saturdays ago, I opened up Doni Belau's Paris Cocktails and spied the 23 Jump Street that reminded me of the late 1980s television series 21 Jump Street with a young Johnny Depp more so than the movies that followed. Here, the name was influenced by the French run tequila brand Calle 23, and this recipe created by Joseph Biolatto and Yoan Bonneau won them the Trophées du Bar competition in 2012.
The 23 Jump Street greeted the nose with an orange and agave bouquet. Next, a grape-driven sip led into tequila and bitter grape flavors on the swallow with an anise and orange finish. As the drink warmed up, it got rather bitter, so perhaps a lighter hand with the dashes or serving this drink on the rocks could help reduce this shift.

Friday, December 11, 2020

nice one

1 1/2 oz Perucchi Sweet Vermouth (Cocchi)
1 1/2 oz Amontillado Sherry (La Garrocha)
Scant 1/2 oz Giffard Banane du Bresil
(1 dash Abbott's Bitters)

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

Two Fridays ago, I reached for Drew Lazor's Session Cocktails book and spotted the Nice One. The recipe was crafted by Dan Greenbaum at the Diamond Reef in Brooklyn with banana nut bread being the starting point for this riff on the Adonis. The combination of Amontillado sherry and crème de banane was one that worked well in the Good Samaritan and the French Connection, so I was definitely game to give it a try. I regret that I did not have the spice-driven Spanish vermouth that the recipe called for on hand; with the Cocchi sweet vermouth, the drink turned out a bit too sweet for me, so my addition of a dash of aromatic bitters helped here to donate spice, provide depth, and dry things out a touch.
The Nice One proffered an orange, nutty, and banana aroma. Next, a sweet grape sip gave way to a nutty and banana swallow.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

california zephyr

1/2 jigger Applejack (1 1/4 oz Laird's Bonded)
1/2 jigger Coronet Brandy (1 1/4 oz Pierre Ferrand Ambre Cognac)
1 bsp Apricot Brandy (1/3 oz Rothman & Winter)
1 bsp Absinthe (>1/2 bsp St. George)

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with an orange twist.
Two Thursdays ago, I opened up Ted Saucier's Bottoms Up and spotted the California Zephyr. I assumed that the name was a nod to Coronet Brandy being a domestic brandy made in California, and the combination seemed intriguing. As I was drinking it, I soon realized that I had this combination years ago as the classic Saucy Sue from The Savoy Cocktail Book that had a more international flair with Calvados and Cognac as its spirits call. Regardless, the California Zephyr showcased the brandy, orange oil, and hint of orchard fruit on the nose. Next, the apple-driven sip gave way to Cognac morphing into apricot on the swallow with an anise finish.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

char no. 8

1 1/2 oz Bourbon (Old Grand-Dad Bonded)
1/4 oz Compass Box Peat Monster Scotch (Laphroaig 10 Year)
1/4 oz Zucca Rubarbaro (Sfumato)
(1/8 oz Simple Syrup)
2 dash Bitter Truth Jerry Thomas Decanter Bitters

Build in an Old Fashioned glass, add a large ice cub, and stir. Note: I found this rather bitter and dry with the Sfumato as the only sweetener, so I added a barspoon of syrup as noted above.
Two Wednesdays ago, I spotted an Old Fashioned riff in Sother Teague's I'm Just Here for the Drink, and it was a Bourbon-based one with smoky elements added from Scotch as was seen in the Base Camp and Sfumato such as was done in the Knife to a Gun Fight. Sother was inspired by Buffalo Trace's experiments where they went past the normal barrel char levels of no. 3 or 4 (35 and 55 seconds under flame, respectively) and took it all the way up to 7 (3 to 3.5 minutes under flame); here, Sother wanted to outdo that by calling this one Char No. 8. In the glass, Char No. 8 offered up an earthy and smoky bouquet from peat in the the Scotch and the Chinese rhubarb root in the Sfumato. Next, caramel and char notes on the sip rolled into Bourbon, peat smoke, dried fruit, and bitter finish on the swallow.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

island of islay punch

2 oz Aged Barbado Rum (RL Seale 10 Year)
1/2 oz Peated Scotch (Laphroaig 10 Year)
1 oz Passion Fruit Juice (1/2 oz Passion Fruit Syrup)
1/2 oz Cinnamon Syrup
3/4 oz Lime Juice
2 dash Bittermens Tiki Bitters (Bittercube Jamaican #2)

Shake with ice (cracked ice), pour into a Collins glass, and garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.
Two Tuesdays ago, I opened up Chloe Frechette's Easy Tiki book and found the Island of Islay Punch. The recipe was crafted by Taylor Ray Adorno of Ghost Donkey in New York City as a twist on the classic Bajan Rum Punch. Once prepared, the punch donated a peat smoke, woody spice, and cinnamon aroma to the nose. Next, lime and tropical fruit notes from the passion fruit on the sip led into rum, Scotch, passion fruit, and cinnamon flavors on the swallow.

Monday, December 7, 2020

black apple old fashioned

1 1/2 oz Apple Brandy (2 oz Laird's Bonded)
1 1/2 oz Jagermeister (1 oz)
2 dash Apple Bitters (Dashfire)

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

Two Mondays ago was Sother Teague's birthday, so I opted for a recipe of his that I had saved from one of the Jagermeister "Behind the Shot" emails called the Black Apple Old Fashioned. While the recipe was equal parts, I shifted things to reflect the 2:1 balance found in the Black Manhattan; however, some of the recipes online have it even more Jagermeister-heavy with only a single ounce of apple brandy (2:3). In a Punch article, Sother described the rationale of the drink created at Amor y Amaro as, "The fruit notes and the ginger-cinnamon [in Jägermeister] pair real well with the apple brandy. Who wouldn't like apple pie with ginger and cinnamon in it?"
The Black Apple Old Fashioned gifted an orange, apple, caramel, and ginger bouquet to the nose. Next, caramel and apple notes on the sip turned over to apple, gentian-like bitterness, and spice such as anise and ginger on the swallow.

Sunday, December 6, 2020

gill sans

2 oz Plymouth Gin (Damrak)
3/4 oz Manzanilla Sherry (Hidalgo La Gitana)
1/4 oz Maraschino (Maraska)
2 dash Orange Bitters (Angostura Orange)

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail glass pre-rinsed with absinthe (Kübler), and garnish with a lemon twist.

Two Sundays ago, I selected the 2010 A Taste for Absinthe book on my shelf that I had not touched for several years. There, I chose the Gill Sans from Jeff Hollinger at San Francisco's Absinthe Brasserie & Bar. I never made that recipe back in the day for I only added Fino and Manzanilla sherries to my collection in the last year or so. Overall, it reminded me of the Improved Martini better known as the Tuxedo No. 2 with the dry sherry element from Eastern Standard's Tuxedo No. 3 instead of the dry vermouth. The drink was most likely named after the font invented in 1928 and modeled after the one used by the London Underground, praised for its "classic simplicity and real beauty," and popular throughout England.
The Gill Sans proffered a lemon, anise, and pine aroma. Next, a crisp white wine sip displayed a hint of cherry, and the swallow continued on with gin, briny sherry, and nutty cherry flavors with an anise finish.

Saturday, December 5, 2020

arnaud's atomic bomb

1/3 Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon (1 oz Old Grand-Dad)
1/3 Gin (1 oz St. George Dry Rye)
1/3 Italian Vermouth (1 oz Cocchi Sweet)
1 dash Abbott's Bitters (Tempus Fugit's recreation)

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass; I added a cherry garnish here.

Two Saturdays ago, I selected Ted Saucier's Bottoms Up book for the night's libation. There, I spotted the Arnaud's Atomic Bomb that reminded me of the H Bomb in Stan Jones' book with its split base spirit and herbal sweetener. The combination of Bourbon and gin was one that I would normally skip; however, the combination of Bourbon and St. George's Dry Rye Gin in the Fool's Gold the day before worked wonderfully. Therefore, I went with that duo and gave this recipe a spin. The only history provided was that it was crafted at Arnaud's French 75 Bar in New Orleans.
The drink greeted the senses with Bourbon accented with the vermouth's grape aroma. Next, the grape continued on into the sip, and the swallow shared whiskey, gin's botanicals, clove, and allspice flavors. Overall, the H Bomb lived up to the name more with its Green Chartreuse, but this certainly was a pleasant Manhattan-Gin&It hybrid.

Friday, December 4, 2020

fool's gold

1 oz Buffalo Trace Bourbon (Old Grand-Dad Bonded)
1 oz St. George Dry Rye Gin
3/4 oz Bittermens Amere Nouvelle (Torani Amer)
1/4 oz Giffard Banane du Bresil

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

For a drink two Fridays ago, I returned to Brian Bartels' The United States of Cocktails. There, I spotted Jen Ackrill's Fool's Gold that fell somewhere between a Liberal and a Banana Boulevardier. Jen created this drink at the Top of Waikiki restaurant in Honolulu, and it appeared in Gaz Regan's 101 Best New Cocktails 2015 alongside my Colleen Bawn Knickebein (strangely, I submitted that recipe for a section on Pousse cafe-style drinks (it never garnered enough submissions to make a full section), and Gaz liked it more than the drink that I had submitted for the regular 101 cocktails section).
The Fool's Gold met the nose with Bourbon and banana aromas at first with orange notes coming through later. Next, the caramel from the Picon filled the sip; then, the swallow showcased Bourbon, juniper, and a bitter tropical note that came across almost like pineapple, and this was followed by a banana finish.

Thursday, December 3, 2020


1/3 jigger Gin (1 1/2 oz Beefeater)
1/6 jigger Italian Vermouth (1/2 oz Cocchi Sweet)
1/6 jigger French Vermouth (1/2 oz Noilly Prat Dry)
1/3 jigger Pineapple Syrup (1/2 oz)

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
Two Thursdays prior, I started perusing Bill Boothby's 1934 World Drinks and How to Mix Them and discovered the Louise. The name and components reminded me of the Madame Lou in that tome, and the Madame Lou with a hint of pineapple syrup led me to craft the Diamond Queen for the Tales of the Cocktail 2017 Martini riff competition. Here, it was a Perfect Martini with a lot more pineapple syrup that I ended up toning down. In the glass, the Louise met the senses with a pine and pineapple bouquet. Next, a semi-sweet and semi-tropical sip danced into a gin, pineapple, and herbal swallow. Overall, the balance was a bit too sweet for me (even with the reduced syrup level) as it warmed up, and perhaps the combination could have used a dash or two of absinthe or other bitters for not only drying abilities but for a little extra depth.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

frau holle

1 1/2 oz Zacapa 23 Rum
3/4 oz Dolin Dry Vermouth (Noilly Prat)
3/4 oz Cynar
1/4 oz Smith & Cross Rum

Stir with ice, strain into a rocks glass with ice, and garnish with a sprig of rosemary (grapefruit twist).

Two Wednesdays ago, I opened up my other recent acquisition of Brian Bartel's The United States of Cocktails. There in the Idaho section, I was intrigued by the Frau Holle by Boise bartender Samuel Bishop. This drink named after a character in a Grimm Brothers' fairy tale reminded me of a few cocktails like the Desk Job, but nothing with that exact combination.
The Frau Holle met the nose with a bright grapefruit oil over darker caramel, smoke, and rum funk aromas. Next, the caramel from the dark rum and Cynar filled the sip, and the swallow brought forth the rum flavors along with chocolate, funk, and vanilla blending in the Cynar's herbal elements.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

la vida buena

1 1/2 oz Del Maguey Mezcal Vida (Fidencio)
3/4 oz Carpano Sweet Vermouth (Cocchi)
3/4 oz Aperol
3 dash Regan's Orange Bitters (Angostura Orange)

Stir with ice, strain into a double old fashioned glass with a large ice cube, and garnish with an orange twist.
Two Tuesdays ago, I delved into my new purchase of Dale DeGroff's The New Craft of the Cocktail book, and I spotted Steve Olson's La Vida Buena. This mezcal drink reminded me of the Dub Treo and Pulitzer with its sweet vermouth and Aperol combination. Once prepared, La Vida Buena proffered an orange oil over Aperol's orange notes and mezcal's smoke to the nose. Next, orange and grape on the sip turned into smoke, vegetal, and savory flavors on the swallow.