Friday, December 31, 2021

aces & eights

2 oz Reposado Tequila (Cimarron)
1/2 oz Meletti Amaro
1 tsp Galliano Ristretto
1 tsp Vanilla Syrup
1 dash Bittermens Mole Bitters

Stir with ice, strain into a double old fashioned glass with a large ice cube, and garnish with an orange twist.
After returning from my bar shift late two Fridays ago, I was in a rush to make a drink and get to bed; therefore, I reached for a recent reliable source of great recipes – namely, Death & Co.'s Welcome Home book. There, I was lured in a with a great tequila and amaro nightcap called Aces & Eights created by Jarred Weigand in 2016. He named his cocktail after the hand allegedly held by Wild Bill Hickok when he was shot dead: the Dead Man's Hand of a pair of black aces and a pair of black eights (the identity of the fifth card has been lost to history not to mention the difficulty in determining the veracity of this lore). Here, the Aces & Eights began with an orange and vegetal aroma with darker notes from the amaro and coffee liqueur. Next, caramel and roast elements on the sip shot forth into tequila, herbal, coffee, chocolate, and vanilla flavors on the swallow.

:: fred's top 10 cocktail moments of 2021 ::

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 2021 being what it was), here is the 12th annual installment:

1. Finished up two years as a Whiskey Guardian for Angel's Envy.
Last year, I described how I became a Whiskey Guardian in late 2019, and how I could finally talk about it. 2021 saw the virtual events and videos with liquor stores convert into more in-person activities after I got my second vaccination shot. Some of those virtual events were a series of 30 videos whiskey cocktails created around Boston as well as 2 shot for Black History Month. Another favorite was a cocktail video that I filmed for the Ellie Fund charity (who I donated to at my 2020 post-Speed Rack afterparty) to promote their gala, and thus I was wearing a shiny smoking jacket and actually put on a tie for demonstrating how to make their signature drink that I crafted. Also done virtually were three Bourbon Book Clubs and one Bourbon-Taza Chocolate pairing that were big hits with the bartenders who participated (especially the chocolate one comparing the similar fermentation and toasting processes that go into chocolate and into the Bourbon/barrels to generate overlapping molecules, and how the different chocolates shifted the flavor of the spirit). After I started going out more at the end of April, my two favorite activations were before and after Toast the Trees in September. The first was a cigar afternoon at Stanza di Sigara for the bartenders with Toast the Tree drinks on their menus, and the second was dubbed Toast the Historic Trees of Boston: A Walking Tour that involved revolution, pirates, and more. Also, a photo of the cocktail class at Andy Husbands' The Secrets of Fried Chicken is down below. Alas, after my boss departed the Northeast region at the end of August and leadership became nebulous for a few month, it became time to leave.

2. Helped to re-open Drink.
After I got my second shot, I began working at the Smoke Shop BBQ in Somerville, MA, part-time to complement my Whiskey Guardian work. A combination of having the largest collection of American whiskeys in New England, knowing the GM through my brand work and through the USBG, and having it be walking distance from home (back when Lyfts and Ubers were scarce) made for a solid choice. After my Whiskey Guardian position was wrapping up, I realized that I needed something more. When I saw the ad for Drink's re-opening, I applied. Drink had closed for 4 1/2 months to fix up their leaking foundation that shut them down sporadically for over a decade every time it rained hard, and they figured that it was better to do it right than deal with it multiple times a year. Unfortunately, the staff at the beginning of July all moved on to other jobs which broke up the continuity of the training program that had been going since late 2008. In mid-November, we were led by Drink alum Will Thompson to start the program back up, and now we are towards the end of our 7th week open doing 4 nights per week. This has been a great experience making a wide variety of cocktail recipes with my estimates being somewhere between 100-150 drinks in the 8 hours that we are serving. Everything from Maloney's 1900 Manhattan Bell-Ringer to Phil Ward's Lipspin has come up in my dealer's choice. It has been a great learning experience especially as guests push my knowledge limits (like when there is a request for a Charlie Chaplin or they want a drink that tastes like cotton candy), and a great teaching experience as I help to guide the more junior staff. The latter part of that may blossom into something more in 2022. It has also been very rewarding; one example is how we had two deaf guests the first week, and I spent a bit of time describing the drinks that they got and answering their questions by way of a few dozen Post-it notes. That patience paid off as they returned a few times including one of them taking his party of 9 (all deaf) for his birthday a week or two ago. I think that they won in the communication front because they could sign to each other at a distance over the music levels. Below photo taken by Ran Duan on opening night:
3. Did some writing.
Besides keeping up with the blog for a little over a post per day, my writing for the Oxford Companion to Cocktais & Spirits finally came to fruition as this tome containing two of my articles finally came out in early November. In addition, I wrote an article for the USBG National site (and republished on my blog) about how to deal with the drown during service in response to a question on Reddit. I also wrote up my notes from attending the Boston Baijiu Bar and a sherry class. Hopefully, I will be more motivated to write essays due to working in a thought-stimulating bar environment and as I attend more in-person events if conditions allow for that. 2021 only had me leaving the Boston area once for an Angel's Envy regional meeting, and that gamble showed how risky meeting up in person can be (yes, I was on the wrong end of a super-spreader event).

4. Got some press.
With less going out, I spent more time replying to reporters' questions. For big issues, I was quoted in a Total Food article on how supply chain problems are affecting the beverage industry as well as in a Boston Globe feature on the risks and confusion of bars and restaurants entering the second pandemic Winter. I spent a glorious hour on the phone being interviewed by Hawthorne/Eastern Standard alum Jackson Cannon in regard to Misty Kalkofen's years before and after the Green Street-Drink move for a piece on the Bohemian for The other 15 were my recommendations for lists. quoted me on my favorite white rum, wheat beer, aperitif wine, and beer book (even if they fudged my suggestion of Garrett Oliver's Brewer's Table and replaced it with his Oxford Companion). Bar Business took my interest in boilermaker pairings to heart in their list in honor of International Beer Day. Finally, Uproxx cited my picks for best value Bourbon, strong ale, Irish beer for St. Patrick's Day, beer for Spring, wheat beer and IPA for Summer, award winning whiskey, single malt for Fall, and Oktoberfest beer.
5. Still involved in the Boston chapter of the bartenders guild.
2021 marked the 3rd year of my term as USBG Boston Secretary, and I just got re-elected for another 3 year term. Early in the year, I organized a series of "Classic Cocktail Virtual Happy Hour"s that featured a cocktail theme as an excuse to teach a bit of history and drink lore as well as virtually congregate and chat. Our spirits education started virtually and ended with some real visits: two of the virtual ones included a Seedlip mixology class and a Teeling Irish Whiskey virtual tour (amazing software!) and cocktail class. In person, we visited Short Path and Boston Harbor Distilleries for tours and tastings, and also had the brand ambassador for 818 Tequila come to talk with us. Also in person, we did our 5th annual kayak adventure on the Charles River, the Campari Day of Service packing up and distributing food at the East End House in Cambridge, MA, and held USBG Education Week classes on Coffee 101 and Scotch & oyster pairings. Some of the 2021 programming that we had lined up got delayed due to health concerns and will hopefully come about in 2022.

6. Read a bit but not as much as last year.
I was off to a good start with my reading, but as the world opened up to me after my second vaccination shot, my brand work plus bartending had me too distracted to focus. I read trio of great books for Camper English's book clubs, namely Chantal Martineau's How the Gringos Stole Tequila, Tristan Dononvan's Fizz: How Soda Shook Up the World, and Robin Wall Kimmerer's Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants. I (re)read a trio of whiskey books for my Angel's Envy Bourbon Book Club that included ones from Bernie Lubber, Dane Huckelbridge, and Reid Mitenbuler, and I added to my knowledge by jumping brands with David Jenning's American Spirit: Wild Turkey Bourbon from Ripy to Russell. Another favorite from the remaining books that I read came as a recommendation from one of the Bourbon books for my book club was Stork Club: America's Most Famous Nightspot and the Lost World of Café Society by Ralph Blumenthal. Hopefully, I can regain my pace of two books per month in 2022!

7. Created drinks!
I posted around 44 of my new creations here on the blog. Some of my favorites include a duo inspired by a new batch of raspberry syrup, namely a mashup of a Negroni and Clover Club called the Negroni Club and a Pink Lady-Martini combination dubbed the Gypsy Rose. A duo of Cubist/Dada themed ones were the Nude Descending a Staircase that was inspired by a recipe I acquired from a visit to Amor y Amargo in August and A Prelude to a Broken Arm as a embittered Sidecar riff. T. Cole Newton's Cocktail Dive Bar inspired New Orleans-style creations such as the Tin City Sazerac. And finally, Jackson Cannon's Heather in Queue plus his 2014 "Letter to a Young Bartender" led to my Letter to a Younger Self Scotch-applejack drink.
8. Visited brewery taprooms.
Pre-vaccination days and the cold weather put a crimp in the first third of 2021, but I was able to visit 45 breweries this year. Of those, the following were new to me: Tributary, Definitive Brewing Co., Trillium (their new spot in Canton), True West, Odd Fellows, Lithermans, Progression, Fort Hill Brewery, Woodland Farms, Odd by Nature, and Hopothecary Ales. Of the return trips, I noticed on my Untappd account that there were more than one visit to Oak & Iron, Remnant, Brewery Sylvaticus, Castle Island, Faces Brewing Co., Winter Hill, and True North. And plenty of hops were appreciated on our second floor deck or at my kitchen counter here at home.

9. Increased my bartender-author cat herd.
2021 was a sad year when we lost Budgie, our Maine Coon cat of 18 years who passed on at age 19. Embury (named after David Embury) became rather lonely, so in late October, we adopted a young feral cat who we named Boothby after the San Francisco bartender-author. Embury taught Boothby the ways of indoor life and living with humans, and Boothby has become a delightful work in progress as he just turned one last week (an approximate aged based off his trapping date). We may add a third in 2022 to balance out the age and energy levels of our new recruit, but it is to be determine if we keep with this new naming convention.
10. The tenth entry always causes me pause.
This pandemic has continued to disrupt the continuity of life as things looking better before looking worse. Wearing a mask for 14 hour stretches from getting on the subway to getting out of my Lyft at the end of the night is not a big deal, especially compared to the realization that one of these new strains will get me sick again due to my chosen profession. It has certainly put a crimp in my travel with the effects of my one trip to New York City preventing me from my second one to attend and work an event at the Bar Convent Brooklyn due to my positive lab result. Hopefully, as things improve, either the USBG or my new job at Drink will afford me some travel opportunities or at least local adventures in the future. Luckily, guests at work have been rather understanding as we go either understaffed or without a food menu due to various situations. The show goes on, and with that, I bid you adieu from my year-end wrap up (besides tomorrow's best drinks edition) until 2022. Cheers!

Thursday, December 30, 2021


1 1/2 oz Scotch (Famous Grouse)
1/2 oz Sweet Vermouth (Lacuesta)
1/2 oz Cointreau
1/2 oz Lime Juice

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

Two Thursdays ago after work, I decided to make a drink that a guest stumped me with and I had to look up – namely the Churchill. When I found it online, it reminded me of a Scotch version of the Oriental found in the 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book, and I shook up the cocktail. When I made it at home, I sourced the recipe from Philip Greene's The Manhattan Book and realized that it could have been stirred (there are shaken recipes out there so I am not sure if Greene took liberties to make it more elegant to fit his Manhattan theme). The drink is also linked to the Savoy for it was crafted by Joe Gilmore, the former head barman of The American Bar at The Savoy Hotel, for Sir Winston Churchill on one of his many visits to the bar. The bar kept Churchill's large bottle of Black & White Whisky on the shelf, and in exchange for this or another drink tribute, Churchill gifted Gilmore a cigar that Gilmore never smoked but cherished until it crumbled from age.
The Churchill as a stirred drink welcomed the nose with orange and lime aromas. Next, grape and citrus notes on the sip flowed into Scotch and grapefruit-like flavors on the swallow. Overall, the lime combining with triple sec to make a grapefruit note here reminded me a little of the Pegu Club.

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

district b-13

2 oz Hines H Cognac (Du Peyrat Selection)
3/4 oz Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth (Lacuesta)
1/2 oz Hidalgo Oloroso Sherry (Lustau)
1/4 oz Cynar
1 tsp Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur

Stir with ice, strain into a Nick & Nora glass, and garnish with a lemon twist.
Two Wednesdays ago, I got home from my bar shift and went straight to the Death & Co. Welcome Home book for a recipe. There, I spotted Jon Armstrong's District B-13 that he created in 2014 that reminded me of the Bensonhurst with a brown spirit, dry fortified wine, and scant touches of Maraschino and Cynar. Given the French spirit here, perhaps the drink was named after the 2004 movie that IMBD sums up as "In the ghettos of Paris in 2010, an undercover cop and an ex-thug try to infiltrate a gang in order to defuse a neutron bomb." In the glass instead of the big screen, the District B-13 amassed a lemon and sherry bouquet. Next, a crisp grape sip led into Cognac, nutty herbal, and cherry flavors on the swallow.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

sherry cask cobbler

1 1/2 oz Patrón Sherry Cask Añejo Tequila (*)
1 1/2 oz Orange Juice
2 oz Pineapple Juice
1/2 oz Ginger Syrup

Briefly shake with ice, strain into a wine glass, and fill with crushed ice. Garnish with berries and mint (included a Tiki-style ice shell), dust with powdered sugar, and add a straw.
(*) An añejo tequila aged in Oloroso sherry casks. Perhaps an aged tequila and a 1/4 oz Oloroso or Amontillado sherry would work in a pinch.
The welcome cocktail at the Patrón event two Tuesdays ago at Faces Brewing Co. was this elegant Sherry Cask Cobbler. It featured their añejo tequila which is aged over 2 years in Oloroso sherry butts. Patrón's East coast ambassador Steph Teslar described how she fell in love with this expression when she first visited the Hacienda years ago, but alas, it was a limited offering. Years later, Patrón just relaunched this tequila on a larger scale, so it ought to be available in many markets. The nose of the spirit shared caramel, molasses, nut, apricot, and fig notes, and the flavor came through with dried pineapple, walnut, and baked pear. Sherry has been a cocktail ingredient dating back to the first cocktail book in 1862 by Jerry Thomas and even before that in Charles Dickens' 1844 novel Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit and Nathaniel Hawthorne's 1852 novel The Blithedale Romance. That early and popular drink was the Sherry Cobbler which is sherry, sugar, citrus (frequently orange), and crushed ice served in a tall glass, garnished with fresh berries, and a straw. Indeed, they followed suit by making a Cobbler from their sherry-aged tequila as their welcome drink at the event.

:: from jerez to jalisco -- expressions of sherry ::

Two Tuesdays ago, I attended a class on sherry at Faces Brewing Co. in Malden hosted by Patrón to showcase their new añejo tequila aged in sherry casks (more on that in the next post along with a cocktail recipe). Patrón's East coast ambassador Steph Teslar introduced certified sherry educator May Matta-Aliah; May is a New York-based wine educator, president of In the Grape, and sherry whisperer with 18 years experience talking about that fortified wine. In the past, I have covered sherry before such as in seminars like Derek Brown's at Thirst Boston and when posting recipes from Talia Baiocchi's Sherry book, but I felt it was a good time for a refresher of sherry basics.
So what is sherry? Sherry is a fortified wine of place with that location being the southern part of Spain. Jerez de la Frontera, El Puerto de Santa María, and Sanlúcar de Barrameda make up the "sherry triangle" which is where the maturation occurs, and the vineyards are located throughout that southwestern portion of Spain as long as the soil and growing conditions are correct. The fortification started as a pragmatic reason for casks were not hygienic and storage conditions were not temperature controlled; with these cities being along the coastline, preparing wines to be stable to make it through ocean voyages was essential. Over time, they learned that an elevated alcohol content of 15-17% ABV makes wines more stable against spoilage bacteria. Sherry was perhaps the oldest wine produced to be exported. The Moorish denomination in Spain were knowledgeable about distillation, but as Muslims, they did not use this technology for drinking. The Moors were driven out of this region during the reconquest of 1264, but the technology for distillation remained. The 1800s were a great time for sherry for viticulture was booming in the area with well-established shipping routes such that production jumped from 7,000 to 70,000 casks. Aging Scotch in sherry casks became common for pragmatic reasons since bottles were not as common and there was no system to return the shipping casks.

The most cherished growing regions have albariza soils for they make the best wines for sherry; the high concentration of calcium carbonate gives the soil not only a white color but an amazing ability to retain loads of water. The next best is arenas which is more sandy; Moscatel grapes are grown on this soil, and this soil lines the insides of bull fighting rings and sherry bodegas (wineries). The last is barros or clay soil which is not coveted much for grape production. On these soils, there used to be 40 grape varietals grown, but now there are only 3 main ones, namely Palomino, Pedro Ximenez, and Moscatel. Palomino is rather neutral and not very exciting on its own with low levels of acid and aromaticity; however, the wines are rather heat tolerant and aging friendly. Pedro Ximenez is a white grape varietal that is utilized both for dessert-style sherries as a single varietal or as a sweetener for certain sherry styles (as described below). And lastly, Moscatel is an aromatic grape that is found all around the Mediterranean; none of the sherries we tasted contained this grape though.

The sherry bodegas where the wine is produced are often called cathedrals due to their architecture. They are built with an orientation to allow the ocean winds to provide ventilation. An interesting fact is that the sherry casks are painted matte black for a particular reason – if a leak occurs, the wetted area becomes rather shiny. These barrels stay in the solera system for decades and are repaired in house, and they are not the same as the shipping barrels (600 liters for aging and 500 liters for shipping; aging need to have an air space (see below) and thus are slightly bigger). The solera is an aging system of fractional blending. It imprints a very special dynamic on the aging process and influences the nature of the wine in a singular ways – by eliminating the variation that occurs between vintages to ensure continuity. The newest barrels are often at the top and called the 2nd criadera, and they feed the 1st criadera. The 1st criadera feeds the oldest barrels referred to as the solera. None of the barrels are emptied all the way, and this fractional blending gives a new food source to the older barrels. Food source? Yes, there is a layer of yeast called flor growing on top of the sherry in the barrel, and this yeast not only protects the wine from oxidation but breaks down the wine such as the sugar and glycerine content and returns flavor components and acidity to the mix. This living colony requires humidity and an air source (meaning the barrels cannot be completely filled). Choices are made with each barrel as to what sort of sherry it will become labeled as whether by nature or wine maker's intervention. Fortification of 15% and less promotes this biological aging, whereas as raising it over 17% ABV will kill off the flor and take the sherry on a path of oxidative aging.
The various styles:
Fino: Made from Palomino grapes completely under biological aging in Jerez de la Frontera and El Puerto de Santa María. Both Fino and Manzanilla have been aging in the solera system for at least 2 years and in Jerez often 3 years or more. These wines like Manzanilla are dry, high acid, and bright. Tasting notes include dough, yeast, brine, lemon zest and pith, green almond.
Manzanilla: This is a Fino style that is aged in Sanlúcar de Barrameda which is surrounded by ocean, an estuary, and a river which add a sea brine aspect to the wines. Often lighter in style with more flor influence than Fino. The name translates to chamomile which can be one of the tasting notes.
Oloroso: Here, the wine made from Palomino grapes is fortified above 17% to kill off the yeast before it can become a protective flor. This leads to not only a darker color and nutty notes from oxidation, but the wine will have more weight since the flor did not breakdown all the glycerine and other components. Both Oloroso and Amontillado will be dry, medium in acid, and nutty.
Amontillado: Like Oloroso, this is another oxidative aging, but here, the wine starts its life aging underneath a layer of flor (often 3-4 years) followed by a time when it ages oxidatively due to the flor dying or being killed off. The end result has the nose of an Oloroso but the finish of a Fino.
Palo Cortado: This is a unicorn category that sits somewhere between Amontillado and Oloroso. The wine starts as a fino and within 6 months (as opposed to 3-4 years), the ABV is raised to cut its flor growth.
Pedro Ximenez: Both Pedro Ximenez and Moscatel are raisinated by being placed on straw mats for a few weeks to concentrate the juice. The result is a rather sweet dessert wine that possesses raisin, molasses, figgy, stewed, and carob notes with a syrupy and rich feel. These wines can also be used for blending (see next category).
Cream: These are blends of dry and sweet sherry wines. Pale cream is a Fino or Manzanilla sweetened with concentrated grape must such that it is off dry. Medium falls in between Pale and full Cream in sweetness and often is an Amontillado sweetened by Moscatel or Pedro Ximenez. And finally, sherries labeled as Cream are generally Oloroso sweetened with Pedro Ximenez with a higher sugar content than Medium.

Monday, December 27, 2021

egg nog (adapted from morgenthaler)

2 oz Bourbon (Old Forester 100°)
2 oz Rum (Smith & Cross)
6 oz Whole Milk (Oat Milk)
4 oz Heavy Cream
3 oz Sugar (2 oz)
2 Large Eggs

Blend eggs, add sugar, and blend further. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until combined. Chill and serve in wine glasses or coupes (punch cups) with freshly grated nutmeg as a garnish.
Two weekends ago while I was bartending, Andrea was in the mood for Egg Nog and made a batch of Jeffrey Morgenthaler's Clyde Common's Egg Nog. She found a spirits combination in the comments section that spoke to her more than the original's añejo tequila and Amontillado sherry (2 oz and 2 1/2 oz, repectively), and she also dropped the sweetness level down a touch. Unfortunately, it was way too late to treat myself to a glass when I got home from work on Saturday night, so I dove on in on Monday. After garnishing, this version of Egg Nog welcomed the nose with a nutmeg and rum aroma. Next, a creamy and caramel sip transversed into Bourbon and rum flavors on the swallow with a rum funk finish.

Sunday, December 26, 2021

sokka's cactus juice

1 oz Ming River Baijiu (a strong aroma style)
1 oz Avua Cachaça Plata
3/4 oz Prickly Pear Syrup
1 oz Lime Juice

Short shake with ice, pour into a Collins glass with ice cubes and 3 oz Jans Sparkling Soursop Soda/Juice, and garnish with lemon and lime oil from a twist.
At the Boston Baijiu Bar hosted at Backbar two Sundays ago, I selected from the Avatar-themed menu Sokke's Cactus Juice (subtitled with the element "Water"). Read yesterday's post to learn more about the class we took and the spirit itself; moreover, that post will describe why these two cocktails work in regards to matching baijiu's funky notes. Here, the Sokka's Cactus Juice crafted by bartender Nick Lappen greeted the senses with a lemon and lime oil aroma. Next, a carbonated and fruity sip transferred into a funky overripe fruit-flavored swallow.
Andrea's drink choice from Nick's list was the Twinkletoes subtitled with the element "Air," and it featured a Campari cheese foam. This one proffered an orange and persimmon bouquet before leading into a creamy nectarine noted sip. Finally, Cognac, cinnamon, and funk flavors rounded out the swallow.
• 1 1/2 oz Vinn Baijiu (a rice aroma style)
• 1/2 oz Hine H Cognac
• 3/4 oz Persimmon Liqueur
• 3/4 oz Lemon Juice
• 1/2 oz Orgeat
• 1/4 oz Cinnamon Syrup
Shake with ice, and strain into a cocktail coupe. Top with a Campari cream cheese foam (cream cheese, milk, gum arabic as a stabilizer, sugar, Campari, and a NO₂ charger).

Saturday, December 25, 2021

:: boston baijiu bar ::

Back in October, I met bartender Nick Lappen at a tequila event in town. I soon realized that he was someone I had conversed with on Reddit and that he was the one running the Boston Baijiu Bar at Backbar that I had read about. The Boston Baijiu Bar is a ticketed event held on Thursday nights since September in Backbar's side bar that previously hosted the Olde Mouldy historic spirits bar, and it is an educational experience about China's most popular spirit. I was curious about attending for I could not wrap my head about this liquor as I described in this article on baijiu, and I wanted to be properly guided (spoiler: I was previously drinking it in an American style instead of one that works with the spirit). Between my work schedule and other life events, I expressed that it was not possible to attend this on Thursday nights, and Nick then offered up that he could do a Sunday night for bar industry folks to align better with our schedules. That industry Sunday finally came about two weeks ago, and I took my wife to experience some educational drinking.
The Boston Baijiu Bar comfortably sits six guests per each of the three seatings in a night (costing $35 + gratuity for the experience that includes a cocktail, sample pours, and snack pairings). As we sat down, we were greeted by a Chinese hiphop soundtrack, a glass of water, and a menu of six cocktail options (see tomorrow's post for the two we selected). Once all of the attendee's arrived and the drinks were made, Nick started the formal part of the class. At some point, Nick explained how he got interested in baijiu, and it was a whole story within itself. He mentioned that it began with a decision made with a friend after a bit of Jameson Irish Whiskey to teach in China for 6 months; he later described how it was not stateside as I imagined but in a bar in Jerusalem – a city where he had a short term job as a teacher. After a 6 month stint in China, he returned home to the United States only to find the allure of China calling him back for both bartending and teaching opportunities. Nick lived in China for 5 years before returning home for a short visit; unfortunately, the Pandemic set in, the borders closed, and he got stuck here away from his girlfriend and child. During those 5 years, Nick's bartending jobs there exposed him to baijiu and the drinking culture, and he explored and got into the various styles. Previous to his joining the Backbar team in Summer 2021, he worked at Drink where the various staff there claimed to hate the spirit, and he wanted to prove them wrong by developing this class and exposing them to more quality baijiu than the cheaper common brands like Red Star that come across like nail polish remover. Unfortunately, Drink closed for four and a half months to fix the leaky foundation, and he never got a chance. Luckily, his next bar home embraced the idea.

But what is baijiu besides the world's most popular spirit where total production is greater than that of vodka plus whiskey combined? It is a Chinese grain spirit of sorghum and sometimes rice and other grains in the mash bills, and it is produced from a wild ferment of airborne microbes that gives the spirit terroir or a very region-specific feel. The name itself means bai="white" + jiu="spirit," and it is one of the oldest distilled liquors known to man. Its precursor was shaojiu or "burnt water," and this spread to Korea and Japan as soju and shochu, respectively. Alcohol production dates back around 9000 years in China, and this pre-dates the cultivation of wild rice; it is possible that rice crops came about as a way to produce more alcohol. Baijiu is often fermented in lined pits in the ground, and the oldest provable distillery was set up in 1573 and is still producing today (baijiu production started earlier than this date by a few centuries though). Unlike most traditional spirits, the fermentation work is done by a combination of yeast, mold, and bacteria in a single step (unlike sake which is fermented in two steps with mold followed by yeast). A starter called qū of microbes growing on wheat or steamed rice is used to start the fermentation. One study found more than fifty types of mold in the mix, so lots of variations in microbes and thus flavor is possible. The stills are short, squat, and alembic-like but unique in design, and the stills also function as grain steamers. Finally, blending is a major part of the art to target the desired flavor profile.
Originally, baijius were classified by where they were produced for they corresponded to the stereotypical flavor profiles of the region. Later, as different regions started producing other styles, baijius became classified by aroma (not flavor) with four major styles and several minor ones including ones infused with medicinal herbs and aromatic flowers. Those four major styles are rice aroma, light aroma, strong aroma, and sauce aroma, and for each of them, Nick offered up a pour paired with a snack food. The food pairings were a necessary part of the class for baijiu is most often drank at meals especially with friends and family. Moreover, it is traditionally served in small glasses (1/3 to 4/10 oz or around 10-12 mL) in multiple rounds each with a toast. The classic toast is "Ganbei!" which means "dry (your) cup," and it is practice to clink glasses a little lower to show respect; this can be taken to an extreme with the toast being done close to the floor as each tries to undercut the other.
Style 1: Rice Aroma: This is the most mild and subtle of the styles which originated in rice-rich Southeastern China, and its starter is fermented rice flour made into a ball and pitched into fresh steamed rice. With this style, Nick paired the baijiu with dried shiitake mushrooms with salt, and the umami notes helped cut the slightly sweet aspect of the rice baijiu. My tasting notes of the baijiu were "nutty, rice note, close to rice soju, approachable – no crazy flavors."
Style 2: Light Aroma: Unlike the former category, the light aroma baijiu are made from sorgum, and the style originated more to the north. Nick paired this sample with latiao which are gluten pieces soaked in chili oil and coated with chili dust and MSG. My tasting notes for the spirit were "waxy texture, earthy, grain, savory, soy aroma; funky grain, fruit, and soy taste."
Style 3: Strong Aroma: This style originated in Sichuan in the Southwest of China, and it is made with multiple grains yielding complex flavors and aromas. Nick served this sample with Lay's Mala Barbecue potato chips to capture the numbing and spicy food style that would be traditionally paired with this class of baijiu. Indeed, this spirit could match the intense food for my notes were "overripe tropical fruit, durian, pineapple, guava in front; barnyard funk, fermented hay, Brettanomyces-influenced natural wine on end." The oldest distillery is Luzhou Laojiao meaning "old hole in the ground" and makes Ming River brand; check out Camper English's photos and tour on Alcademics. Many of these pits are over 50-100 years old, and they are never fully emptied; perhaps to keep consistency for sour mash and perhaps to generate additional flavors akin to Jamaican rum.
Style 4: Sauce Aroma: This one is Nick's favorite, and it originated in the landlocked province of Guizhou/Kweichow to the Southwest; this has historically been one of the poorest provinces in China that has suffered from a series of famines. Moreover, it is where Nick was living. Frequently, it is made from a combination of sorghum and wheat. Here, the spirit was matched with pickled mustard greens. Sauce aroma style lives up to its name for it is replete with umami and is rather soy sauce like. My tasting notes were "shiitake, cocoa powder, soy sauce, toasted sesame."

While baijiu lives up to the name of "white spirit," some of the stronger flavored and aromatic ones are aged in neutral clay or porcelain vessels to induce oxygenation and concentration. Rice aroma have short fermentation times of around a week, light and strong aroma spend 2 weeks to over a month, and sauce aroma can be over 9 months. Again, there are other styles including medicine aroma where herbs are added in the fermentation such as mugwort, licorice root, and star anise. And the most unusual sounding was phoenix style aged in wicker baskets sealed in bee's wax and pig's blood (no one opted for this one, but if I weren't a vegetarian, I would have requested it. And perhaps curiosity would have gotten the better of me if it was placed in front of me). The additional baijiu that I requested to taste off the shelf was Mei Kuei Lu Chiew which had rose petals in a gin vapor basket-like contraption, and this was delicious and floral. Chu Yeh Ching Chiew was a sweet yet medicinal one from a bamboo leaf infusion that I passed up to try the rose one.
As I mentioned earlier in my quote in that article, Western bartenders often do not get the spirit for they try to work it like vodka, gin, or whiskey, and also they frequently do not think about food pairings. Many baijiu styles share more with rhum agricole, cachaça, and high ester Jamaican rum than other standard spirits. Therefore, baijiu works incredibly well in tiki and tropical drinks with fruity and bold flavors with pineapple being an easy and obvious example. Baijiu also works great with very bitter ingredients such as Cynar, Suze, and Bitter Bianco. And finally, autumnal baking spice vibes mesh well such as allspice dram liqueur.

Over the last almost 4 months, Nick has taken up to 18 guests a night via three sittings of 5pm, 7pm, and 9pm around 3-4 Thurdays a month. 10% of the ticket price and all the proceeds from the sale of mugs (a donation from Ming River Baijiu) become a donation to the Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center. Nick picked this charity for it funds the local community that includes 80% Chinese immigrants. The charity does a lot of work with children with kindergarten and pre-K classes, and after school tutoring, mentoring, and snacks for the older students such that their parents can work. For adults, they sponsor English language courses and job training opportunities.

To learn more about the Boston Baijiu Bar, follow it on @bostonbaijiubar on Instagram or on email. Use the app's messaging function or the email address to make reservations.

Friday, December 24, 2021

sicilian message

1 oz Rye (Old Overholt)
1 oz Averna
3/4 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Grenadine
1 heavy dash Absinthe (1/2 bsp Kübler)

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail coupe.
Two Fridays ago, I was intrigued by a drink of the week that Backbar posted on their Instagram along with the recipe in the comments. That cocktail was the Sicilian Message, and I decided to make it at home since I would be working all week save for Sunday when we would be attending a baijiu class. The Sicilian Message proffered up a fruity, caramel, and anise aroma to the nose. Next, the lime, caramel, and berry sip reminded me of Giuseppe's Lady, and the swallow came through with rye, herbal, and caramel notes with an anise finish.

Thursday, December 23, 2021

tropical depression

1 1/2 oz White Rum (*)
1/2 oz Wray & Nephew Overproof Rum (*)
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Simple Syrup
1/4 oz Creme de Banane (Tempus Fugit)
1/4 oz Fernet Branca

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail coupe.
(*) Originally made with 2 oz Wray & Nephew which was a bit overwhelming. Splitting it with 3 parts of a solid Daiquiri rum to 1 part Wray & Nephew was my fix concept after the fact. Other funky white overproof Jamaican rums will probably work well too.
After work two Thursdays ago, I was inspired by the banana-Fernet combination from the Lost Horizon two nights prior and being reminded of the Banana Toronto from back in July. The direction that I took it was a Daiquiri with a funky Jamaican white rum. For a name, I dubbed this one the Tropical Depression as a tribute drink to someone I know who was just airlifted off their Caribbean cruise ship that week after testing positive with Covid (the depression part was that they were locked in a cabin for a day or two before the helicopter became available). In the glass, the Tropical Depression wafted to the nose with funky rum à la ripe fruit that was joined by fresh menthol notes. Next, lime and caramelized banana on the sip flowed into funky rum, bitter herbal, and tropical flavors on the swallow.

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

gentleman caller

1 oz Dry Gin (Bombay Dry)
1 oz Laird's Bonded Apple Brandy
3/4 oz Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth (Lacuesta Rojo)
1/4 oz Brown Sugar Syrup
2 dash Peychaud's Bitters

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with an orange twist.
After my bartending shift on Wednesday night two weeks prior, I opened up T. Cole Newton's Cocktail Dive Bar and found the Gentleman Caller created at 12 Mile Limit in New Orleans. With a split base of gin and apple brandy supported by sweet vermouth, it reminded me of a Yale Fence and the So-So. In the glass, the Gentleman Caller announced itself with an orange, apple, and grape aroma. Next, grape and caramel notes mingled on the sip, and the swallow offered up gin, apple, and brown sugar flavors with an anise finish.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

lost horizon

1 oz Appleton Estate Reserve Rum (Appleton Signature)
1 oz Hines H VSOP Cognac (Du Peyrat Organic Selection)
2 tsp Giffard Banana Liqueur (Tempus Fugit)
1 tsp Fernet Branca

Stir with ice, strain into an old fashioned glass pre-rinsed with Laphroaig Scotch, and garnish with an orange twist.
Two Tuesdays ago, I reached for Death & Co.'s Welcome Home book and soon spotted the Lost Horizon. The recipe crafted by bartender Tyson Buhler in 2018 reminded me of the Banana Toronto that I had at Offsuit here in Boston a few months back. Once prepared, the Lost Horizon proffered an orange oil and peat smoke bouquet to the nose. Next, caramelized fruit notes on the sip set into rum, Cognac, banana, and bitter minty-menthol complexity on the swallow.

Monday, December 20, 2021

verdant lady

2 oz Gin (Bombay Dry)
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/4 oz Green Chartreuse
1/4 oz Simple Syrup
4 leaf Mint

Shake with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with a mint sprig (mint leaf).
At Drink, a guest asked me for a cocktail called the Verdant Lady, and I had to look it up to make it. My first idea that it was an egg white number in the White Lady family; however, it turned out to essentially be a Green Ghost crossed with a South Side. The history online is a bit nebulous as is a standardized recipe, but all directions pointed to a San Francisco genesis circa 2007 perhaps at Alembic. The Drink connection is that one of the opening bartenders in 2008 was Josey Packard who previously worked at Alembic, and it may have become part of the Drink regulars' lexicon that way. The above is my hybridized recipe, and once prepared, the Verdant Lady showed off her mint, herbal, and pine aroma. Next, the lime juice drove the sip that led into gin, mint, and Chartreuse's green herbal flavors on the swallow.

Sunday, December 19, 2021

le zombi

1 1/2 oz Plantation OFTD Overproof Rum
1 oz Rhum Agricole Blanc (Rhum Clement Premiere Canne)
1/2 oz Benedictine
1/2 oz Martinique Canne Sirop (JM)
1/2 oz Fassionola (1/4 oz Passion Fruit Syrup + 1/4 oz Grenadine)
3/4 oz Lime Juice
3/4 oz White Grapefruit Juice (Pink)
3 dash Bittermens Tiki Bitters (Bittercube Blackstrap)

Pulse blend with 1 1/2 cup crushed ice for 10 seconds (whip shake) and pour into a Zombie glass (coconut mug). Fill with crushed ice and garnish with mint.

Two Sundays ago was my first night off in a bit, so I decided to make a more involved recipe that I spotted on The Atomic Grog called Le Zombi. This tropical number by Hurricane Hayward was a tribute to French island spirits – both the rhums and the voodoo/zombie culture. With the French liqueur Benedictine in the mix, the combination reminded me of Ryan Lotz's Jet Pilot riff at No. 9 Park, namely Benny & the Jets.
Le Zombi's mint garnish greeted the nose before the straw yielded caramel, grapefruit, passion fruit, and berry notes on the sip. Next, a burst of burly rum was joined by grassy, passion fruit, berry, and herbal flavors on the swallow.

Saturday, December 18, 2021


1 oz Reposado Tequila (Cimarron)
1/2 oz Benedictine
1/2 oz Sweet Vermouth (Lacuesta Rojo)
1 dash Peychaud's Bitters

Stir with ice, strain into an old fashioned glass rinsed with coffee liqueur (Galliano Ristretto), and garnish with an orange twist (orange oil from a twist).
I returned home late from my bar shift at Drink two Saturdays ago, and I was in the mood for a cocktail. Therefore, I quickly turned to my list of recipes and page numbers that I had made while reading T. Cole Miller's Cocktail Dive Bar cover to cover, and I opted for one of its Sazerac-inspired numbers dubbed the Luchador with its coffee rinse instead of Herbsaint. In the glass, the Luchador provided an orange oil, coffee, and agave-vegetal aroma. Next, caramel and grape notes on the sip waved on tequila, herbal, and light anise flavors on the swallow.

Thursday, December 16, 2021

hunt & peck

1 1/2 oz Rittenhouse Rye
1/2 oz Sombra Mezcal (Mezcal Union)
1/2 oz Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth (Lacuesta Rojo)
1/4 oz Averna
1 tsp Campari

Stir with ice, strain into a Nick & Nora glass, and garnish with a cherry and orange oil from a twist.
Two Thursdays ago, I got home rather late after my bar shift at Drink, and I knew that I could find something delicious pretty quickly in Death & Co.'s new book Welcome Home. The first cocktail to catch my attention was the Hunt & Peck that had the rye-mezcal combination that I first uncovered in the Red Ant back in 2010. Here, it was done in Manhattan/Black Manhattan style with sweet vermouth, Averna, and Campari balancing the spirits. In the glass, the Hunt & Peck greeted the senses with an orange oil aroma. Next, grape and caramel notes mingled on the sip and led into rye, smoky vegetal, and bitter orange flavors on the swallow.

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

arthur avenue

1 1/4 oz Old Overholt Rye
1 1/4 oz Aperol
3/4 oz Punt e Mes
3/4 oz Grapefruit Juice
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Shake with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with grapefruit oil from a twist.
Later Wednesday night, I was in the mood for a nightcap. Earlier in the day, I had spotted a whiskey drink called the Arthur Avenue, and I recalled how one of my co-workers at Russell House had crafted a different Arthur Avenue in 2013 and that it made it into my second book, Boston Cocktails: Drunk & Told, but not into the blog. Therefore, I remedied that by making bartender Jay Miranda's tribute to Bronx's Little Italy at home like I had in Harvard Square for that menu season years ago. In the glass, the Arthur Avenue delivered a grapefruit and orange aroma. Next, grape and grapefruit notes on the sip preceded rye and bitter tangerine flavors on the swallow.

ricky bobby burns

1 1/2 oz Dewar's 12 Year Scotch
1/2 oz Cynar
1/2 oz Campari
1/2 oz Benedictine

Stir with ice, smoke a double old fashioned glass on a cedar plank, flip over the glass, place a large ice cube inside, and strain the drink.
Two Wednesdays ago, I made it to Backbar at open to help bartender Alexis' right of passage -- namely his "First Fifty." When a new hire at Backbar is ready to get their wings, they have to make 50 drinks once (with the guest who ordered each crossing off the drink and initialing it). They are observed by a senior bartender to guide and correct them on their first shift behind the stick there. I like going as early so that I have the pick of the litter in hopes of spotting something that I have never had before. This time, I honed in on the Ricky Bobby Burns as a bitter and smoked riff on the classic Bobby Burns, and it reminded me of the a Drambuie drink called the Bitter Nail that they served five years ago at their sister bar, Ames Street Study.
The Ricky Bobby Burns donated a cedar wood smoke aroma to the nose before leading into a caramel-driven sip. Next, Scotch, herbal, minty, and orange flavors rounded out the swallow.

Tuesday, December 14, 2021


1 oz Siembre Valles Ancestral Tequila (Cimarron Blanco)
1 oz Lustau East India Solera Sherry
1/2 oz Plantation Pineapple Rum
1/2 oz Amaro Ramazzotti
1 dash Bittermens Mole Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a Nick & Nora glass.
Two Tuesdays ago, I delved back into the Death & Co.: Welcome Home book and spotted the Nightwing by Matthew Belanger circa 2018 that seemed like it would satisfy my desire for a stirred drink. Once prepared, the Nightwing showcased a vegetal and pineapple aroma. Next, caramel and grape notes on the sip flowed into tequila and nutty grape flavors on the swallow with a pineapple and root beer herbal finish.

Monday, December 13, 2021

guns of brixton

3/4 oz Mezcal (Mezcal Union)
3/4 oz Apple Brandy (Laird's Bonded)
1 oz Bonal Gentiane Quina
1/4 oz Sloe Gin (Plymouth)
1/4 oz Cynar

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail coupe.

Two Mondays ago, I wanted to utilize my new bottle of Bonal as well explore the combination of Cynar-sloe gin that I had first learned about in the Transatlantic Giant and the Lipspin. I had previously tinkered with mezcal in this combination in the Lips Like Sugar and knew that the spirit complemented Bonal, and I recalled that applejack worked wonderfully with sloe gin in the Persephone as well as partnering with tequila and mezcal. For a name, I was listening to a Pandora radio station, and The Clash's Guns of Brixton was playing as I was making the drink. When I realized that sloe plums are grown in Brixton, the name stuck.
The Guns of Brixton welcomed the nose with apple, smoke, and fruity aromas. Next, grape and berry notes on the sip shimmied into apple, berry, chocolate, and vegetal flavors on the swallow with a smoke and berry finish.

Sunday, December 12, 2021

crimson & clover

1 oz Perry's Tot Gin (Junipero)
1/2 oz Del Maguey Vida Mezcal (Mezcal Union)
1/2 oz Dolin Blanc Vermouth
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Raspberry Syrup
1 Egg White

Shake once without ice and once with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with a grapefruit twist.
Two Sundays ago, I opened up the Death & Co.: Welcome Home book and quickly found an interesting Clover Club riff called the Crimson & Clover. The recipe was created at Death & Co.'s Los Angeles' outpost by bartender Matthew Belanger in 2016 with three changes: the splitting of the gin with a small portion of mezcal, switching from lemon to lime, and swapping dry vermouth (or the absence of vermouth) to blanc. Here, the Crimson & Clover flirted with the nose with a floral, juniper, smoke, and berry bouquet. Next, a creamy lime and raspberry sip made its move towards the gin, smoky vegetal, and tart berry swallow.

Saturday, December 11, 2021

lips like sugar

1 1/2 oz Mezcal (Mezcal Union)
1/2 oz Sloe Gin (Plymouth)
1/2 oz Cynar
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Simple Syrup

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
While working at Drink two Saturdays ago, I had made a guest or two Phil Ward's Lipspin. Later, another guest requested a mezcal drink with bitter notes but with citrus, and I decided to convert the Lipspin into a Sour especially after recalling a comment on Kindred Cocktails where someone thought the drink could use some acid. Therefore, I reduced the two liqueurs from 3/4 to 1/2 oz, and since the Lipspin is pretty well balanced as a stirred drink, I countered the lime juice with simple syrup. When I got home, I tried out the recipe for myself and dubbed this Lipspin riff after the Echo & the Bunnymen song Lips Like Sugar. Here, the Lips Like Sugar proffered a smoke, berry, and lime bouquet to the nose. Next, berry, caramel, and lime notes on the sip jumped into vegetal, smoke, and cranberry-cherry flavors on the swallow.

Thursday, December 9, 2021

rope burn

1 oz Smith & Cross Rum
1 oz Aperol
1 oz Bonal Gentiane Quina

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with a grapefruit twist.
Two Thursdays ago, I searched for Bonal recipes on Kindred Cocktails and found the Rope Burn that was attributed to Allan Katz at Caña Rum Bar in Los Angeles via a now defunct 213Nightlife link. When I tagged Allan on Instagram, he replied that it was a Ron Dollete number; I know of Ron from being very active on Twitter where he self-describes as a "LA boozehound. Slightly sweet. Slightly bitter." The combination reminded me of Eastern Standard's Kingston Contessa with sweet vermouth instead of the quinquina here (the original gin Contessa was dry vermouth though). Here, the Rope Burn began with a grapefruit, orange, and rum funk aroma. Next, grape and melon-orange notes on the sip slid into funky rum and orange flavors on the swallow.

Postnote 12/11/21: I left a comment on Kindred Cocktails attributing the drink to Ron, and someone utilized the Wayback site's snapshot of the L.A. website with this quote from Allan:
So I like to always have a Negroni riff on Caña’s menu. Makes it easier to realize my goal of one day having a calendar with a Negroni for each day of the year. For the Spring, I selected a drink created by one of our members, Ron Dollete a/k/a Lush Angeles. More than your average barfly blogger, Ron trained with some real deal bartenders to learn the craft, and Rope Burn is proof.

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

yellow jacket #2

1 1/2 oz Dry Gin (1 3/4 oz Bombay Dry)
3/4 oz Mint Honey Syrup (3/4 oz Honey Syrup + 6 leaf Mint)
1/2 oz Lime Juice

Shake with ice, strain into a rocks glass with fresh mint, and garnish with a mint sprig (cocktail coupe, mint leaf garnish).
Two Wednesdays ago, I was finishing up T. Cole Newton's Cocktail Dive Bar book when I came across the recipe for the Yellow Jacket #2 crafted by 12 Mile Limit's Dani Martire. It was created as Bee's Knees riff with lime and mint flavors, and the lime made me think of Milk & Honey's The Business which only varies here by the mint in the honey syrup. The book recommended shaking with mint leaves to simulate their syrup. After discovering that there were other Yellow Jacket recipes out there such as perhaps this one, they dubbed this one #2 in acknowledgement that it was not the most original of names. In the glass, the Yellow Jacket #2 greeted the senses with a lime, pine, and mint aroma. Next, honey and lime mingled on the sip, and the swallow swarmed with gin and mint flavors with a lime-herbal finish.

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

unfinished business

1 1/2 oz Beefeater Gin
3/4 oz Bonal Gentiane Quina
3/4 oz Cocchi Americano

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with a cherry (Woodford).
Two Tuesdays ago, I finally got around to replacing my empty bottle of Bonal, and I sought out a use for my purchase. On Kindred Cocktails, I uncovered a 2016 creation by New York City bartender Rafa Garcia Febles called Unfinished Business as a sort of Martini riff. In the glass, it provided a pine and plum aroma. Next, plum, peach, and grapefruit notes on the sip closed out to gin, red fruit, peach, and quinine flavors on the swallow.

Monday, December 6, 2021


1 1/2 oz Plymouth Gin (Bombay Dry)
1/2 oz St. Germain (St. Elder)
1/2 oz Aperol
1/2 oz Grapefruit Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass; I added a grapefruit twist as a garnish.

Another request that came up at Drink on Saturday night was the Dejuener that was created there years ago; the name means either lunch or to eat lunch. The structure reminded me of Paul Clarke's Dunniette but with grapefruit here instead of lemon. Moreover, Josh Child's Shaddock is in the same ball park with the lemon juice of the Dunniette but equal parts and Genever instead of gin. Since I had never had a Dejeuner myself other than straw tasting the build two nights prior, I gave this one a go.
The Dejeuner donated a grapefruit and peach aroma to the nose. Next, grapefruit and orange notes on the sip flowed into gin, floral, and grapefruit flavors on the swallow.

Sunday, December 5, 2021

derby julep

2 1/2 oz Citadelle Gin (Bombay Dry)
1/2 oz Rothman & Winter Apricot Liqueur
1/4 oz Demerara Syrup
1 dash Angostura Bitters
8 leaf Mint

Build in a Julep cup, rub the mint along the sides of the cup, fill with crushed ice, and mix. Top with crushed ice, garnish with mint sprigs, and add a straw. The ingredient list is how I made it at work the day before, and the parenthetical ingredients are how I made it at home the next night.

A guest at Drink on Saturday night requested a Mint Julep but wanted it with gin and fruit notes. I immediately thought of Scott Holliday's French Julep and recalled how it was based off of the classic Derby Cocktail of gin, simple, peach bitters, and mint served up (he took it in a pear liqueur direction). The Drink recipe book alters this to apricot liqueur and Angostura Bitters, so I took that route. I kept the Citadelle gin call from Scott's drink at Rendezvous since it was already at my station that night, and I followed through using Drink's Julep building technique.
When I repeated the recipe at home, the Derby Julep welcomed the senses with a mint bouquet. Next, orchard fruit on the sip raced into gin, apricot, mint, clove, allspice, and cinnamon flavors on the swallow.

Saturday, December 4, 2021

dead ringer

1 1/2 oz Ron Zacapa Rum (Zaya)
1 oz Principe Amontillado Sherry (Lustau)
3/4 oz Amaro Nonino
1/4 oz Swedish Punsch (Kronan)
1 tsp Cane Sugar Simple

Stir with ice and strain into a old fashioned glass pre-rinsed with Sombra Mezcal (Mezcal Union).
Two Saturdays ago, I was excited to crack open the new Death & Co.: Welcome Home book, and the first recipe that I spotted was the Dead Ringer that Eryn Reece crafted in 2014. The light touch of Swedish punsch here reminded me of her Mrs. Doyle, so I was curious to give this one a go. Once mixed, the mezcal rinse provided a vegetal smoke nose. Next, caramel, grape, and plum flavors on the sip flowed into rum, caramel, orange, and dry grape notes on the swallow with a rum funk finish.

Friday, December 3, 2021

dinosaurs before dark

1 1/2 oz Gin (Bombay Dry)
1 oz Cocchi Americano or Lillet (Cocchi Americano)
1/4 oz Campari
1/4 oz Apricot Liqueur (Rothman & Winter)
2 dash Angostura Bitters
1 dash Absinthe (12 drop Copper & Kings)

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with an orange twist.
Two Fridays ago, I had been thinking about Joaquin Simo's Sweet Valley High, and I decided to put my own spin on it by changing the liqueur and bitters and by adding a light touch of absinthe. To keep with Joaquin's name, I dubbed this one Dinosaurs Before Dark after another young adult book series. In the glass, the Dinosaurs Before Dark proffered an orange aroma that led into peach and orchard fruit notes on the sip. Finally, gin, melon, clove, and anise flavors came through on the swallow.

Thursday, December 2, 2021

charlie chaplin

1/3 Sloe Gin (1 oz Plymouth)
1/3 Apricot Liqueur (1 oz Rothman & Winter)
1/3 Lime Juice (1 oz)

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Note: splitting this into four equal 3/4 oz parts with the final element being gin was recommended by bartender-author Frank Caiafa (see text below).
Two Thursdays ago was our re-opening night at Drink. Our consultant who returned back to the bar to assist was Will Thompson who asked me to make a Scofflaw for a guest in another section and mentioned that they would probably want to follow that up with a Charlie Chaplin. The Charlie Chaplin was one where I sort of knew the ingredients but had never made tried before; therefore, when I got home, I selected The Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book which has the earliest recipe for this libation. I then found Frank Caiafa's 2016 The Waldorf Astoria Bar Book to see if he had any commentary; his bar staff would sometimes add gin to the recipe as a variation to add backbone and to balance the sweeter notes. They used that version was utilized as an alternative to the Cosmopolitan (and via personal correspondence, it was his personal favorite version). Here, I stuck with the gin-less version to appreciate the original, and it began with a berry and apricot bouquet. Next, lime, cherry, and cranberry notes on the sip flowed into cherry, apricot, lime, and berry flavors on the swallow.

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

sir walter cocktail

50% Brandy (1 oz Du Peyrat Selection)
50% Rum (1 oz Smith & Cross)
1 tsp Lemon Juice (1/2 oz)
1 tsp Curaçao (1/2 oz Pierre Ferrand)
1 tsp Grenadine (1/2 oz)

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
Two Wednesdays ago, I found the Sir Walter Cocktail in the 1933 reprint of Jack's Manual. The recipe first appeared into Harry MacElhone's 1927 Barflies and Cocktails, and Difford's Guide surmised that it was created in honor of either Sir Walter Raleigh or Sir Walter Scott. Once mixed, it showcased an orange and rum funk aroma. Next, lemon, orange, berry, and caramel notes on the sip landed upon funky rum, Cognac, berry, and orange flavors on the swallow.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

dawn of hospitality

2 oz Old Overholt Rye
1/2 oz Borghetti Espresso Liqueur
1/4 oz Pineapple Syrup
6-7 dash Peychaud's Bitters

Stir with ice, strain into a double old fashioned glass rinsed with absinthe, and garnish with a lemon twist.
Two Tuesdays ago, I was leaving my second day of training to re-open Drink (closed for 4 1/2 months for structural work and to stop the flooding when it rained) and ended up at Shore Leave after a dinner in Chinatown. There, I found a seat in front of bartender Abigail Winn who I asked for a Dawn of Hospitality; it was subtitled on the menu with "If we were on vacation, we'd hope this tropical-inspired Sazerac would be for breakfast." The concept of a Sazerac with coffee flavors was one that I had tried in the Mid-City and with pineapple syrup in the Bounty, but never in the same glass. Here, a lemon and anise bouquet greeted the nose. Next, roast and fruity notes on the sip slid into rye, root beer, and coffee flavors on the swallow.

Monday, November 29, 2021

miles ahead

3/4 oz Rittenhouse Rye
3/4 oz Linie Aquavit (Aalborg)
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Dolin Blanc Vermouth
1/2 oz Lustau Amontillado Sherry
1/2 oz Velvet Falernum
1/4 oz Honey Syrup
2 dash Orange Bitters (Angostura Orange)
2 pods Cardamom

Muddle cardamom pods, add the rest of the ingredients, shake with ice, and strain into a cocktail coupe.
Two Mondays ago, I selected The NoMad Cocktail Book for the evening's libation, and I uncovered the Miles Ahead by Pietro Collina that would be a good bridge from Sherry Week 2021. This complex Sour utilized the rye-aquavit duo observed in the Frontier and other recipes, so I was intrigued to give it a go. The Miles Ahead produced a spiced aroma of caraway and cardamom to the senses. Next, lemon, honey, and grape notes on the sip transversed into rye, caraway, nutty, cardamom, and floral flavors on the swallow.

Sunday, November 28, 2021

beginning of the end

1 1/2 oz Aged Rum (Don Q Gran Añejo)
1/2 oz Sweet Vermouth (Lacuesta Rojo)
1/3 oz Amer Picon
1/3 oz Oloroso Sherry (Lustau)

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with a flamed orange twist.
For the final night of Sherry Week 2021, I turned to Difford's Guide for an answer. There, I landed upon the Beginning of the End crafted by Paul Mathew of The Hide in London for the 2008 Boutique Bar Show's cocktail competition. The name reflects how it is a riff on the classic Fin de Siècle but with aged rum and sherry in place of the original's gin and orange bitters. For a last #SherryKu (sherry Haiku) to accompany my Instagram entry, I composed, "Solera system/No beginning or finish/Fractional blending." In the glass, the Beginning of the End donated an orange oil over rum, nutty sherry, and dark orange aroma. Next, caramel and grape notes swirled on the sip, and the swallow rounded things out with rum, nutty sherry, and dark orange flavors.

Saturday, November 27, 2021

poa pretensis

1 oz Bourbon (Old Grand-Dad Bonded)
1 oz Oloroso Sherry (Lustau)
1/2 oz Punte e Mes
1/2 oz Drambuie
1 dash Orange Bitters (Angostura Orange)

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

Two Saturdays ago was day six of Sherry Week 2021, and I sought out a recipe on the Shake Stir site. There, I uncovered a 2018 creation by Sahil Mehta at Estragon called Poa Pretensis which is the genus and species name for the meadow grass better known as Kentucky Bluegrass. Sahil had previously paired Drambuie with sherry in the Sebastian and Pan-European Pandemonium, and that combination that has existed in the literature since at least the 1937 Café Royal Cocktail Book with the Golden Heath. For a #SherryKu (sherry Haiku) to accompany my post on Instagram, I penned, "Kentucky bluegrass/Sherry, Bourbon, & horses/For win, place, & show."
The Poa Pretensis brought forth an orange aroma from both the twist's oils and the bitters. Next, the sherry and Punt e Mes' grape notes filled the sip, and the swallow crossed the finish line with Bourbon, bitter, and nutty flavors and a honey-tinged finish.

Friday, November 26, 2021

auld acquaintaince

1 1/2 oz Scotch (1 1/4 oz Famous Grouse + 1/4 oz Caol Ila 10 Year)
1/2 oz Laird's Bonded Apple Brandy
3/4 oz Palo Cortado Sherry (3/8 oz each Lustau Amontillado + Oloroso)
1/4 oz Cinnamon Syrup
1 dash Bitters (Angostura)

Stir with ice and strain into an old fashioned glass with a large ice cube.
For evening five of Sherry Week 2021, I turned to the Kindred Cocktails database and spotted the Auld Acquaintance by New York City bartender Rafa Garcia Febles in 2013. To pair with this recipe on Instagram, I generated this #SheryKu (sherry Haiku), "A cup of kindness/With old sherry to the brim/Days of auld lang syne." Once prepared, the Auld Acquaintance greeted the senses with a smoke and cinnamon aroma that introduced a grape-driven sip. Finally, smoky Scotch, apple, nutty, and cinnamon flavors rounded out the swallow with a peat-tinged finish.

Thursday, November 25, 2021

in the stacks

1 oz Scotch (Famous Grouse)
1 oz Lustau East India Solera Sherry
3/4 oz Cynar
1/4 oz Apricot Liqueur (Rothman & Winter)
2 dash Angostura Bitters
2 dash Chocolate Bitters (Angostura Cocoa)

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

After returning home from Offsuit, I still wanted to participate in Sherry Week 2021. Therefore, I decided to riff on the Library Card that I had created a few years ago as my fourth night's submission. I originally crafted this variation with Amontillado sherry, but that first pass was too stark, so I swapped in Lustau's cream sherry, East India Solera, with better success. For a #SherryKu (sherry Haiku) to add to my Instagram post, I penned "Sherry & book night/It's time to pamper one's self/A pour per chapter."
For a name, I kept the library theme and dubbed this one In the Stacks. Here, the nose was greeted by orange, apricot, and herbal aromas. Next, caramel, grape, and orchard fruit notes on the sip selected a Scotch, nutty, and herbal swallow with an apricot and spice finish.

hard bargain

1 1/2 oz Sazerac Rye
1/3 oz Smith & Cross Rum
1/3 oz Passion Fruit Liqueur
1/3 oz Falernum
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz 2:1 Demerara Syrup
3 dash Angostura Bitters

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail coupe.
Two Thursdays ago after my final day bar shift at the Smoke Shop BBQ, I took the subway to meet some out of town friends at Offsuit. For a drink, I selected the Hard Bargain off the menu that reminded me of a Last Rites or a Sexpert by its ingredients and balance. When I received the recipe, I was not all that wrong to fit it to the Test Pilot build in my head. Once served, the Hard Bargain proffered rum funk and passion fruit aromas to the nose. Next, lemon, melon, and tangerine notes on the sip led into rye, rum, and spice flavors on the swallow.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

flower & vine

1 oz La Gitana Manzanilla Sherry
1 oz Del Maguey Crema de Mezcal (Mezcal Union)
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Pineapple Syrup
1/2 oz Amaro Montenegro
1/2 oz Giffard Banane du Bresil (Tempus Fugit)
1 dash Regan's Orange Bitters (Angostura Orange)

Shake with ice and strain into a double old fashioned glass.
For night three of Sherry Week 2021, I ventured back to the Hawthorne bar bible and spotted the Flower & Vine by bartender Jason Kilgore. The drink on the menu was subtitled "Throw caution to the wind," and I paired it on Instagram with a #SherryKu (sherry Haiku) of "Mezcal & sherry/Savory & smokiness/A heavenly match." In the glass, the Flower & Vine conjured up smoke and vegetal aromas with a hint of caramel and pineapple. Next, lemon, caramel, and roasted fruit on the sip flowed into tequila, savory, tangerine, and banana flavors on the swallow with a pineapple finish.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

christmas in prison

1 1/2 oz Laird's Bonded Apple Brandy
1/2 oz Cruzan Blackstrap Rum
1/2 oz Lustau Palo Cortado Sherry (1/4 oz each Lustau Oloroso + Amontillado)
1/4 oz Cinnamon Syrup
1/8 oz Maple Syrup
1 dash Bittermens Cranberry Bitters (Crude's Orange-Fig)

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

For the second day of Sherry Week 2021, I found an interesting sherry recipe on Kindred Cocktails by Timothy Miner at the since closed Jake Walk in Brooklyn circa 2013. Like the beer cocktail I had in Louisville a few years ago, this one was named after the 1973 John Prine song. After reading through the lyrics, I was inspired to pen the #SherryKu (sherry Haiku) "Christmas in prison/There's no sherry to be had/One day I'll be free."
Christmas in Prison proffered an orange, apple, and maple bouquet. Next, caramel and maple notes on the sip locked down an apple, rum, and cinnamon swallow.