Sunday, January 31, 2021

just the paperwork

1 1/2 oz Amaro Nonino
1 oz Cognac (Pierre Ferrand Ambre)
1 oz Cocchi Americano
2 dash Orange Bitters (Scrappy's)
1/2 oz Water

Build in a rocks glass, give a quick stir, and garnish with an orange twist. Note: This is a room temperature cocktail.
Two Sundays ago, I returned to Sother Teague's I'm Just Here for the Drinks book where I spotted the Just the Paperwork. This curious room temperature cocktail was something that Sother frequently mixed up for himself to do the finances at Amor y Amargo after closing the bar at night. Although he referred to it as a Scaffa, the presence of water in the mix put it at a room temperature cocktail; Scaffas are not cocktails due to their missing water component in the 1806 definition of a cocktail of spirits, sugar, water, and bitters. One curious thing about this combination was that all three main ingredients are made from grapes for Amaro Nonino is grappa based. Once prepared, the Just the Paperwork wrote out an orange oil and brandy aroma. Next, caramel, orange, and peach notes on the sip waylaid into Cognac, orange, and grapefruit flavors on the swallow.

Saturday, January 30, 2021

rodeo ghost

1 oz Fidencio Mezcal
1 oz Zucca Amaro (Sfumato)
1 oz Sweet Vermouth (Cocchi)
2 dash Mole Bitters (Bittermens)

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

Two Saturdays ago, I saw a mention of a mezcal drink called the Rodeo Ghost, and I hunted down the recipe in a 2012 article in Serious Eats. The drink created by Brent Butler at San Francisco's West of Pecos was a simple equal parter with Zucca and sweet vermouth accented with mole bitters; this was the recipe that I stuck with despite finding a perfect split of sweet and dry vermouth in Drink Me magazine and Punt e Mes as the vermouth on the Kindred Cocktails database. Since mezcal and rabarbaros like Zucca and Sfumato worked so well in the Chain Smoker, Gully Brood, and Postcard Home, I was excited to try this one out.
The Rodeo Ghost welcomed the senses with orange oil over smoky, dark herbal aromas. Next, a roast and grape sip rode into smoky agave melding into smoky bitter flavors on the swallow with a chocolate finish. Overall, this combination brought out a mineral note from the mezcal.

Friday, January 29, 2021

mr. burgess

2 oz Hardy VS Cognac (Pierre Ferrand Ambre)
1/2 oz Walnut Liqueur (Rosso Nocino)
1/2 oz Aperol
2 dash Cardamom Bitters (Bitter Housewife)
2 dash Grapefruit Bitters (Bittercube Jamaica #2)

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with a grapefruit twist.
Two Fridays ago, I reached for my collection of The Cocktail Hour booklets and found an interesting one that I had not made before in the 2013 brandy volume. That recipe was Mr. Burgess by Vincenzo Marianella at Santa Monica's Copa d' Oro, and he named it after a famous motorcycle engineer. In the glass, the Mr. Burgess delivered a grapefruit oil aroma over Cognac notes to the nose. Next, a caramel and vaguely fruity sip drove into a Cognac, orange, and walnut swallow with a cardamom finish.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

uptown manhattan

2 oz Bourbon (Four Roses)
3/4 oz Amaro Nonino
1 tsp Cherry Heering
2 dash Orange Bitters (Angostura Orange)

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with a cherry and orange oil from a twist (orange peel-cherry flag).

Two Thursdays ago, I wondered if there were any recipes that I could make with my new liqueur purchases in Paul Clarke's The Cocktail Chronicles book. There, I spotted the Uptown Manhattan that reminded me a little of the Remember the Maine (minus its absinthe part). This Manhattan riff was crafted by San Francisco's Marcovaldo Dionysos of Chartreuse Swizzle fame. According to an article that Gary Regan wrote in 2003, Marco created this at the Denton's Starlight Room for a Maker's Mark competition with syrup from a jar of brandied cherries instead of the Cherry Heering called for here.
The Uptown Manhattan greeted the nose with an orange oil over Bourbon and cherry aroma. Next, a caramel and vaguely fruit sip flowed into Bourbon, caramel, cherry, and orange flavors on the swallow.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

rosa amargo

1 1/2 oz Mezcal (Fidencio)
1/2 oz Grapefruit Liqueur (St. Elder)
1/2 oz Blanc Vermouth (Dolin)
1/2 oz Campari

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

Wednesday two weeks prior, I began thumbing through my Food & Wine: Cocktails book collection, and I spotted the Rosa Amargo in the 2015 edition. This recipe by Jeremy Oertel at Donna in Brooklyn reminded me of a mezcal Rosita with grapefruit liqueur in place of one of the vermouths or perhaps a mezcal Lucien Gaudin with grapefruit instead of orange liqueur.
The Rosa Amargo welcomed the senses with a grapefruit, smoke, and orange bouquet. Next, an Aperol-like orange note on the sip slid into smoky mezcal transitioning into a bitter grapefruit and orange on the swallow.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

rock and a hard place

1 1/2 oz Rittenhouse Bonded Rye
1/2 oz Dolin Dry Vermouth (Noilly Prat)
1/2 oz Carpano Sweet Vermouth (Cocchi)
1/2 oz Amaro Nonino
1 tsp Nux Alpina (Russo Nocino)
2 dash Fee's Walnut Bitters (Strongwater)

Stir with ice and strain into a Nick & Nora (coupe) glass.
Two Tuesdays ago, I selected The NoMad Cockatil Book as the source of the evening's libation. There, I was lured in by the Rock and a Hard Place by Alisa Bobcat Rabovsky as an intriguing Manhattan variation with Amaro Nonino and walnut liqueur as the modifiers. In the glass, the cocktail shared a walnut aroma accented by caramel and rye notes. Next, a soft sip of malt, grape, and caramel gave way to rye, herbal, and orange flavors on the swallow with a walnut finish.

Monday, January 25, 2021

triple crown

1 oz Bourbon (Old Tub Bonded)
3/4 oz Grapefruit Liqueur (St. Elder)
3/4 oz Amaro Montenegro
3/4 oz Lemon Juice

Shake with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with a lemon twist.
Two Mondays ago, I returned to Carey Jones' Brooklyn Bartender and spied the nearly equal parts Triple Crown. This recipe by Jay Zimmerman of Ba'sik reminded me of drinks like the Hurly Burly and Hoop La, and it would make good use of my new grapefruit liqueur purchase. In the glass, the Triple Crown presented a lemon oil aroma over Bourbon and grapefruit notes. Next, a lemon and tangerine sip conjured up thoughts about peaches, and the swallow came through with Bourbon, grapefruit, and tangerine flavors.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

i want to believe

2 oz Aged Puerto Rican Rum (Don Q Gran Añeo)
3/4 oz Cynar
3/4 oz Pedro Ximenez Sherry (Oxford 1970)
4 dash Orange Bitters (Scrappy's)
1 pinch Salt

Stir with ice, strain into a Nick & Nora glass or cocktail coupe, and garnish with an orange twist.

Two Sundays ago, I delved into my new purchase of Chad Austin's Everyone Has a F*cking Cocktail Book and spied the I Want to Believe that was most likely an X-Files reference. The combination of rum, Cynar, and fortified wine reminded me a little of the Palm Viper, so I was intrigued to try it out.
The I Want to Believe began with an orange, raisin, and rum aroma. Next, the raisin from the sherry continued on into the sip where it mingled with the Cynar's caramel, and the raisin aspect joined the rum and sweet vegetal flavors on the swallow with a caramel and orange finish.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

los amargos

1 1/2 oz Reposado Tequila (Lunazul)
3/4 oz Amaro Nonino
3/4 oz Cardamaro
1 tsp Maraska Maraschino Liqueur
3/4 oz Lemon Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail coupe.
Two Saturdays ago, I turned to the Death & Co. Cocktail Book and spotted the Los Amargos by Thomas Waugh in 2009 as a recipe that I could now make given my purchase of Amaro Nonino. In the glass, it donated a bouquet of tequila's vegetal notes to the nose. Next, lemon, caramel, and grape mingled on the sip, and the swallow proffered tequila, nutty cherry, orange, and herbal flavors on the swallow.

Friday, January 22, 2021

new ceremony

1 oz Rittenhouse Bonded Rye
1/2 oz Grapefruit Liqueur (St. Elder)
1/2 oz Byrrh Quinquina
1/2 oz Dry Vermouth (Noilly Prat)
1/4 oz Aperol
3 dash Orange Bitters (Scrappy's)

Stir with ice, strain into a double old fashioned glass with a large ice cube, and garnish with a grapefruit twist.
Two Fridays ago, I sought out a recipe for my third and final new purchase -- grapefruit liqueur. The book that taunted me with enough recipes in that regard enough to finally buy a bottle was the Brooklyn Bartender book, so I started there. The drink that called out to me was the New Ceremony by Tonia Guffey at Dram circa 2013 that she named after the 2012 song by the folk rock band Dry the River. Once assembled, the New Ceremony shared a grapefruit and orange aroma to the nose. Next, a bright citrus and grape sip slid into rye and bitter citrus flavors on the swallow.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

storm king

2 oz Blended Scotch (Famous Grouse)
1/2 oz Nocino (Russo)
1/4 oz Benedictine
3 dash Angostura Bitters

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with a cherry.
One of my other purchases was a bottle of walnut liqueur, and for a starting point, I looked to the Kindred Cocktails database. There, I spotted the Storm King created by Damon Boelte at Brooklyn's Grand Army Bar and published in the November/December 2019 issue of Imbibe Magazine; the combination of Scotch and walnut fondly reminded me of drinks like My Triumphs, My Mistakes and the Expatriot. Once prepared, the Storm King summoned a malt, cinnamon, and clove bouquet to the nose. Next, malt paired with a dark richness from the liqueurs on the sip, and the swallow came through with Scotch, walnut, and herbal flavors on the swallow with a clove and nutmeg finish. Overall, it was a touch more spiced than the 2012 Sentimental Gentleman but otherwise rather similar.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021


1 1/2 oz Rittenhouse Bonded Rye
1/2 oz Laird's Bonded Apple Brandy
1/2 oz Amaro Nonino
1/2 oz Dubonnet Rouge
1/4 oz Grenadine

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail coupe.
Two Wednesdays, I wanted to crack open my new addition to my shelves of Amaro Nonino, and I started with the Solstice from the PDT Cocktail Book. The recipe was crafted by John Deragon in the summer of 2007 for the other solstice -- the winter one which is the shortest and darkest day of the year. The Solstice donated an apple and red fruit aroma to the nose. Next, berry, cherry, and grape notes on the sip faded into rye, apple, and orange flavors on the swallow.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

black squirrel old fashioned

2 oz Four Roses Bourbon
1/4 oz Cherry Heering
1/4 oz Maple Syrup

Stir with ice, strain into a rocks glass with ice, top with 3 dash Miracle Mile Toasted Pecan Bitters, and garnish with an orange twist.
Two Tuesdays ago, I ventured into Brian Bartels' The United States of Cocktails book and spotted one of his originals that he crafted at Fedora in Manhattan. Brian was inspired by an Old Fashioned-like number by Damon Doelte of Prime Meats, and he named his drink after a supper club in Wisconsin. In the glass, the Black Squirrel Old Fashioned welcomed the nose with an orange and pecan aroma. Next, maple with a hint of dark fruit on the sip gave way to Bourbon and cherry-maple flavors on the swallow with a nutty finish. Overall, I was impressed at how the maple tamed the medicinal note often found in Cherry Heering cocktails.

Monday, January 18, 2021

lost voyage

1 1/2 oz Aged Martinique Rhum (JM Gold)
1 1/2 oz Amontillado Sherry (La Garrocha)
1 oz Cinnamon Syrup
1 oz Lemon Juice
1 oz Orange Juice

Whip shake, pour into a Collins glass (Tiki mug), fill with crushed ice, float 1 tsp Angostura Bitters (6-8 dash), and garnish with an orange slices and mint sprig (omit mint).
Two Mondays ago, I continued on with another drink for January's Tiki the Snow Away event on Instagram with the Lost Voyage. I had spotted this creation of Michael Kotke of Milwaukee's Foundation Tiki Bar in Chloe Frechette's Easy Tiki book. Once assembled, the Lost Voyage presented an allspice and clove aroma from the floated bitters over cinnamon, grassy, and nutty notes from the drink underneath. Next, a fruity sip of lemon, orange, and grape sailed into grassy, nutty, and cinnamon flavors on the swallow.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

the erin

2 oz New York Distilling Ragtime Rye (Rittenhouse Bonded)
1/2 oz Sweet Vermouth (Cocchi)
1/2 oz Bigallet China-China (Torani Amer)
1/2 oz Suze Gentian Liqueur
5 dash Allspaice Dram (1 bsp Hamilton's)

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

After attending Camper English's book club on Brad Parson's Last Call, I began to thumb through the recipes that I had not looked at in a year. While the book is certainly not a cocktail book, there were some interesting ones at the end of each section such as the Last Man Standing. Here, I was lured in by the Erin created by Toby Cecchini at the Long Island Bar in Brooklyn; he had hope to come up with a better name for the combination, but alas, he ended up keeping the placeholder name which was the person he crafted it for.
The Erin proffered lemon and orange oils over grape, dark orange, and earthy herbal aromas. Next, grape and caramel on the sip slid into rye, dark orange, bitter gentian, and allspice flavors on the swallow.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

corpse hand

1 oz Cognac (Pierre Ferrand Ambre)
1/2 oz Apple Brandy (Morin Selection)
3/4 oz Campari
3/4 oz Sweet Vermouth (Cocchi)
3 dash Mole Bitters (Bittermens)

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

Two Saturdays ago, I thought about the Cognac-apple brandy combination of the Corpse Reviver No. 1 from the Savoy Cocktail Book and wondered what I could do with it. Two years ago, I was pushed to take the uninspiring split spirit Manhattan of sorts without bitters and provide it some pizzazz by giving it the Vieux Carré treatment to concoct the Corpse Carré. Here, I wondered how these spirits would do in the Campari-laden Hand series created at Sasha Petraske's Milk & Honey in New York City.
For a name, I dubbed this one the Corpse Hand. Once assembled, it reached out with a rich brandy aroma with a sharper bitter orange element. Next, grape, caramel, and apple on the sip led into Cognac, apple, earthy bitterness, and chocolate flavors on the swallow that helds create a lavender-like note.

Friday, January 15, 2021


1 oz Batavia Arrack (von Oosten)
1/2 oz Plantation OFTD Rum
3/4 oz Manzanilla Sherry (La Gitana)
1/2 oz St. Germain (St. Elder)
1/4 oz Ginger Syrup
3/4 oz Lemon Juice

Shake with ice, strain into a rocks glass with a large ice cube, and garnish with 3 grapes on a pick (whip shake, pour into a Tiki mug, fill with crushed ice, and garnish with a grapefruit twist).
Two Fridays ago, I kicked off my celebration of the January Instagram phenomenon of Tiki the Snow Away with the Circe from Chloe Frechette's Easy Tiki book. The recipe was crafted by Channing Centeno at Otis in Brooklyn, and I took the on-the-rocks delivery and made it a bit more tropical. Here, the Circe met the nose with a grapefruit, floral, ginger, and rum funk aroma. Next, lemon, peach, and white wine notes on the sip transformed into funky rums, floral, and ginger flavors on the swallow.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

smokey hollander

1 1/2 oz Genever (Bols)
1/2 oz Mezcal (Fidencio)
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Agave Nectar (1:1 Agave Syrup)

Shake with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with a lemon twist.
Two Thursdays ago, I ventured into the 75th anniversary Mr. Boston Official Bartender's Guide and spotted the Smokey Hollander. The recipe was crafted by Chris Hannah who was still at Arnaud's French 75 in New Orleans at the time. The only other reference to the drink that I could uncover was in a 2012 StarChefs article with a photo showing the Smokey Hollander being served in a snifter glass with ice and the caption declaring muddled strawberries as an additional ingredient. Chris' recipes can drift over time, but I kept with the simplicity of this Genever-mezcal Sour without the berries. Once prepared, the Smokey Hollander donated a lemon oil and malty aroma with a hint of smoke to the nose. Next, the lemon and malt continued on into the sip, and the swallow followed up with sweeter Genever notes blending into sharper vegetal mezcal ones.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021


2 oz Dickel Rye (Rittenhouse Bonded)
3/4 oz St Germain Elderflower Liqueur (St. Elder)
1/2 oz Cherry Heering
1/4 oz Fernet Branca

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

Two Wednesdays ago, I spied the trainspotter on the Kindred Cocktails site as a twist on the Brooklyn named after the 1990s movie. The recipe was crafted by Thomas Newcomb at the Continental Room in Fullerton, California, and was first published in Gaz Regan's 101 Best New Cocktails: 2013 book. Overall, the combination reminded me at first of the Heather in Queue, and the cherry liqueur-Fernet duo was one that has worked in drinks since the early 1900s in the Pinto and more recently in Murray Stenson's Porteño and Misty Kalkofen's Darkness til Dawn.
The Trainspotter showcased a grapefruit aroma from the twist, floral notes from the elderflower, and darker notes from the Heering on the nose. Next, a dark fruit-laden sip slipped into rye, grapefruit, floral, and menthol flavors on the swallow.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

yale fence

1 oz Gin (Beefeater)
1 oz Applejack (Laird's Bonded)
1 oz Sweet Vermouth (Cocchi)

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

Two Tuesdays ago, I was flipping through Brian Bartels' The United States of Cocktails book and spotted the Yale Fence. Since he mentioned that it was from David Embury's book, I found one of my three copies of the The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks and set to work. The combination seemed like a Gin & It crossed with a Marconi Wireless, and the lack of bitters in the three ingredient mix made me think of the Corpse Reviver #1. In researching the name, one article pointed to a fence that divided the Yale University yard from the rest of New Haven; the fence was a gathering point where various sections were reserved for the different class years of students. This picket fence lasted from 1833 to 1888 when it was removed for the construction of a new building, and in its memory, the students created the Yale Fence Club as a fraternal organization. The New York Times described how it was the richest and most exclusive of the university's fraternities in its heyday; in this 1979 article about the club closing down due to incurring a large debt, the paper proffered a quote of "By 1970, the whole idea of Yale as place to have a good time and incidentally to get an education had simply gone out the window."
The Yale Fence gathered apple and grape aromas with pine accents for the nose. Next, apple and grape combined on the sip to conjure an almost plum note, and the swallow proffered juniper and cherry flavors with a fruity finish.

Monday, January 11, 2021


3/4 oz Batavia Arrack (1 1/4 oz von Oosten)
3/4 oz La Gitana Manzanilla Sherry (1 1/4 oz)
3/4 oz Rhum Clement Creole Shrubb (3/8 oz Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao) (*)
3/4 oz House Chocolate Liquor (3/8 oz Tempus Fugit Crème de Cacao) (*)

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with a flamed orange twist (not flamed).
(*) The house chocolate liquor was an unsweetened recipe as a cacao and vanilla infusion. I adjusted ingredients to make for a more balanced recipe given my sweetened chocolate liqueur.
Two Mondays ago, I decided to make a recipe that I had spotted on social media from the Left Coast Libations book called the Catch-22. I had previously skipped this recipe for it appeared to0 sweet (not to mention that I only added Fino and Manzanilla sherries in the last year or so, and I certainly did not have them on hand when the book was published ten years ago). The key was that the recipe created by Jackie Patterson at Heaven's Door in San Francisco called for a house chocolate liquor (not liqueur), and there was no sugar in that cacao and vanilla infusion; therefore, I adjusted all the proportions to keep the overall sugar level about the same as intended given my chocolate choice. Once prepared, the Catch-22 met the nose with an orange, chocolate, and rum funk bouquet. Next, a semi-dry sip shared roast notes from the crème de cacao, and the swallow offered up funky Batavia Arrack, chocolate, orange, savory, and briny flavors to round out the drink.

Sunday, January 10, 2021


1 1/2 oz Zacapa 23 Rum
1 oz Cream Sherry (Lustau East India Solera)
1/2 oz Del Maguey Crema de Mezcal (Fidencio) (*)
2 dash Bittermens Mole Bitters

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with a cherry.
(*) To replicate the crema de mezcal's sweetness, at 1/10 volume of agave nectar to every measure of mezcal. I skipped this adjustment here since the balance appeared pleasing already.

Two Sundays ago, I selected Amanda Schuster's New York Cocktails and I spotted the Dulcinea, and a sherry drink seemed perfect for the evening. The Dulcinea was only attributed to the Raines Law Room in that book, but in Finding Mezcal, it narrowed it down to Meaghan Dorman. There, Meaghan described how, "The deep, dark flavors put me in mind of my first trip to Oaxaca, which was right around Día de los Muertos, a special time of year."
The Dulcinea welcomed the senses with a caramel, vegetal, smoke, and raisin aroma. Next, grape and caramel on the sip danced into rum, fig, and smoky mezcal flavors on the swallow with a chocolate finish.

Saturday, January 9, 2021


1 jigger Rye Whiskey (1 1/2 oz Rittenhouse Bonded)
1/2 jigger Brandy (3/4 oz Pierre Ferrand Ambre Cognac)
1/2 jigger Apricot Brandy (1/2 oz Rothman & Winter Liqueur)
Juice 1/4 Lemon (1/2 oz)
(1 bsp Simple Syrup added for balance)

Shake with ice, strain into an old fashioned glass with cracked ice (coupe with no ice), and garnish with a lemon twist.
For a drink two Saturdays ago, I ventured into Ted Saucier's Bottoms Up and spotted the T.N.T. The recipe was attributed to Tay Garnett who was a motion picture director best know for the 1946 The Postman Always Rings Twice. Since Cognac and apricot liqueur pair rather well, I was curious to see what rye whiskey would do in the mix in this Sour. In the glass, the T.N.T. met the nose with a lemon, Cognac, and apricot aroma. Next, lemon and stone fruit on the sip came across almost like apple at times, and the swallow let forth rye and brandy flavors with a tart apricot finish.

Friday, January 8, 2021


1 1/2 oz Blanco Tequila (2 oz Cimarron)
3/4 oz Rosemary Syrup (*)
3/4 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Egg White (1 full Egg White)

Shake once without ice and once with ice, and strain into a cocktail coupe.
(*) I made this by mixing 3/4 oz sugar, 3/4 oz water, and leaves from 1 sprig rosemary in a small bowl (lightly covered). I microwaved for a few short bit until it started to boil, and I let it steep 20 minutes or so before straining.
On Christmas Day, I opened up Carey Jones' Brooklyn Bartender and spotted the Rosarita that would make good use of the rosemary sprigs that we had sitting in the fridge. Besides the rosemary syrup, this recipe by David Moo at the Quarter Bar seemed like a delightful yet simple Tequila Sour with egg white. I was able to find other Rosaritas and Rosemary Margaritas that muddled the herb instead of making an infused syrup, but I stuck to the recipe as written. Once prepared, the Rosarita gave forth a rosemary over vegetal agave bouquet to the nose. Next, a creamy lime sip led into tequila accentuated by resin-y notes of the rosemary on the swallow.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

smoky bear

1 3/4 oz Havana Club 7 Year Rum
2 tsp Mezcal (Fidencio)
2 tsp Maple Syrup
2 dash Absinthe (1/2 bsp Kübler)
2 dash Aromatic Bitters (Jerry Thomas Decanter)

Stir with ice, strain into a rocks glass with ice, and garnish with a lemon twist.
On Christmas Eve, I selected Tom Sandham's 2012 World's Best Cocktails and spotted the Smoky Bear. The recipe was crafted by Marcis Dzelzainis at London's 69 Colebrook Row, and the combination of rum, maple, and a smoky ingredient made me think of the Mr. Howell with Scotch and my Miracles Take Longer with mezcal. Those two drinks were Daiquiri variations whereas the Smoky Bear was more of a Rum Old Fashioned though. Once prepared, the Smoky Bear donated a lemon oil aroma over a maple and smoke nose. Next, maple's richness filled the sip, and the swallow showcased rum, clove, and allspice flavors with a smoke, anise, and maple finish.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

dead to rights

1 oz Reposado Tequila (Lunazul)
1 oz Mezcal (Fidencio)
3/4 oz Sweet Vermouth (Cocchi)
1 tsp Allspice Dram (Hamilton's)
1 tsp Maraschino Liqueur (Luxardo)
1 dash Mole Bitters (Bittermens)

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with a cherry.
Two Wednesdays ago, I spotted an agave Martinez of sorts called the Dead to Rights. The recipe was crafted by New York City bartender Rafa Garcia Febles in 2015, and he posted it on the Kindred Cocktails web database. I have enjoyed similar drinks such as the Stockyards and South of the Border Martinez, and this one had a split base of reposado tequila and mezcal with the addition of allspice dram and a great name. Once prepared, the Dead to Rights proffered a smoky agave and allspice bouquet to the nose. Next, a grape-driven sip gave way to smoky agave, allspice, nutty cherry, and chocolate flavors on the swallow.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

winter hill

2 oz Buffalo Trace Bourbon (Old Tub Bonded)
1/2 oz Cointreau
2 wedge Lemon
2 wedge Satsuma (*)
2 dash Chocolate Bitters (Bittermens Mole)

Muddle the citrus, add the rest, and strain into a pre-heated Irish coffee mug (Toddy glass). Top with hot water and garnish with a lemon wheel studded with 4 cloves.
(*) Sub tangerine or mandarin orange.

When the copy of Left Coast Libations was out, Andrea spotted the Winter Hill recipe, and she mentioned that we could get satsumas at Trader Joe's. Satsumas are a citrus fruit that originated in China that came to our country through Japan, and this mandarin-pomelo hybrid tastes a lot like a tangerine. I was intrigued for we live in Winter Hill in Somerville, MA, and a little over 12 years ago, I named an early cocktail of mine that as well. The following day, we bought a bag of satsumas and made this Hot Toddy by James Pierce at Portland's 50 Plates.
With the steam coming off the drink, the Winter Hill was rather aromatic with chocolate, citrussy-orange, and Bourbon notes. Next, a tart lemon and tangerine on the sip gave way to tart orange and Bourbon flavors on the swallow with a chocolate finish. Overall, the lemon was a bit much here given the hot format; when it cooled down, the Toddy came across as tea like and well balanced though. Something closer to a 1/4 oz of lemon juice would probably mitigate this perception of citrus' acid being too intense when heated.

Monday, January 4, 2021

alexandria hotel cocktail

1 oz Cachaça (1 1/2 oz Salinas Umbarana)
1 oz Campari
1/2 oz Mathilde Peach Liqueur
2 dash Orange Bitters (Angostura Orange)

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

Two Mondays ago, I uncovered my copy of the 2010 Left Coast Libations and spotted the Alexandria Hotel Cocktail created by Marcos Tello at the Edison in Los Angeles. The concept of a cachaça Negroni of sorts was something that I had seen in the Lua Bonita, Brazilevardier, and Urban Anxiety, but this combination lacked the sweet vermouth in favor of peach liqueur. Peach and Campari was a flavor combination that I was introduced to by Derek Brown's Bitter Peach and I later utilized in recipes like the Barry's Corner and Monkey Steals the Peach. As a sweetness precaution, I upped the cachaça proportion slightly.
Given the Edison's location, perhaps the drink was named after the historic luxury hotel built in 1906 in the old heart of Los Angeles' downtown. As business center shifted to the west, the hotel lost its grandeur and became a housing project. It was recently revitalized and has become a set for movie shoots and social events, and the rooms were remodeled as apartments. As a drink, the Alexandria welcomed the nose with an orange, peach, and grassy aroma. Next, a vague fruity sip led into grassy funk blending into bitter peach on the swallow with an orange finish.

Sunday, January 3, 2021


1 oz Gin (Maine Craft Distilling Alchemy)
1 oz Cocchi Americano
1 oz Manzanilla Sherry (La Gitana)
2 dash Orange Bitters (Scrappy's)

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

Two Sundays ago, I ventured into Michael Madrusan and Zara Young's A Spot at the Bar book and landed on the Jabberwock. The original found in the 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book called for gin, dry sherry, orange bitters, and a South African aperitif wine called Caperitif, and it was named after the creature from Lewis Carroll's 1871 poem. I did not make the drink when I first discovered it for Caperitif was unavailable for quite a while until it was recently resurrected (to unknown accuracy) a few years ago. The original Caperitif was a quinquina likened to Lillet. Erik Ellestad's research which helped him make every recipe in the 1930 book led him to the conclusion that Cocchi Americano was the closest modern day substitute in a single bottle, and perhaps a 6:1 mix of Dolin Blanc to Amaro Montenegro might approximate the flavors as well.
With Cocchi Americano and Manzanilla as the quinquina and sherry choices, the Jabberwock recited a lemon and briny sherry opening stanza to the nose. Next, grapefruit and peach notes from the Cocchi Americano filled the sip, and the swallow yielded gin, savory sherry, and dry orange flavors.

Saturday, January 2, 2021

barbary coast

1/4 Gin (3/4 oz Barr Hill)
1/4 Scotch (3/4 oz Cutty Sark Prohibition)
1/4 Crème de Cacao (3/4 oz Tempus Fugit)
1/4 Cream (3/4 oz)

Shake with cracked ice and pour into a Highball glass (shake with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with freshly grated cinnamon).

Two Saturdays ago, I selected Crosby Gaige's 1945 Cocktail Guide & Ladies' Companion and spotted the curiously named Death & Mr. Morgenthau. Soon, I realized that this combination of Scotch, gin, cacao, and cream was better known as the Barbary Coast first published in the 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book. While Gaige was the first (and occasionally the only one) to publish several recipes, that book is rife with renamed drinks (sometimes to fit the chapter's theme and other times for less obvious reasons). The original Barbary Coast was the section of North Africa patrolled by the Barbary pirates (also known as the Ottoman corsairs); however, the Barbary Coast with a cocktail connection was the saloon and red light district of San Francisco popular with sailors and gold seekers from 1849 into the early 1920s. It was the sailors who called this part the Barbary Coast in the 1860s due to its lawlessness. Gaige, though, opted to rename this quartet the Death & Mr. Morgenthau perhaps after Henry Morgenthau who was the US ambassador to the Ottoman Empire during World War I. Henry was one of the most prominent Americans who spoke up against the Armenian genocide.
Neither recipe specified a garnish, so I went with freshly grated cinnamon; grated nutmeg does appear in later recipes, but I had just used nutmeg the night before. Once prepared, the Barbary Coast welcomed the senses with chocolate and cinnamon aromas. Next, a creamy sip with roast notes flowed into smoky, chocolate, pine, and medicinal flavors on the swallow. The Scotch did take this Alexander-like drink in an unique direction; a softer, less smokier whisky might yield something a little less quirky.

Friday, January 1, 2021

elvis ziggurat

1 1/2 oz Cachaça (Avua Balsamo)
1/2 oz Heavy Cream
1/2 oz Crème de Banane (Giffard)
1/2 oz Honey Syrup
1/2 oz Pedro Ximenez Sherry (Oxford 1970)
1/2 oz Oloroso Sherry (Lustau)

Shake with ice, strain into a sherbert glass with ice (coupe no ice), and garnish with a banana slice dusted with nutmeg (omit banana slice).
Two Fridays ago, I had some heavy cream open from filming this video on the Sazerac Toddy, and I sought out some more uses for it. In The Canon Cocktail Book, I was drawn towards the Elvis Ziggurat dessert drink created by Chris Goad. Once assembled, it donated a woody spice over raisin bouquet to the nose. Next, grape, honey, and creamy notes on the sip gyrated into funky cachaça, raisin, and banana flavors on the swallow with a grassy finish.

:: fred's picks for the top cocktails of 2020 ::

At the end of 2010, I was challenged to declare my favorite drink of the year, and I was overwhelmed for there were so many good options to chose from. My choices were influenced by two factors -- tastiness and uniqueness; it had to be both memorable and worth repeating. In the past years, I did one post for drinks that I had out at bars and one post for drinks that I had at home; however, my last two years before this one found me out on the town less, so I combined the two. This year of course, I barely had any cocktails out before quarantine, and the rest were occasional cocktails or mixes to-go (where I did not inquire about the recipe). Each month here was selected for when the drink post appeared and not when it was enjoyed (I have a two week delay before it posts). Before we get going on this, let's take a moment to pay our respects to the bars and restaurants this year; I have written my government officials and tried to support takeout and patios when I can (albeit with my diminished earnings this year). I feel powerless and overwhelmed by the situation, but I can at least control the safety of things in my own home. Without further ado, here is the eleventh annual installment of my best drinks for the year with a runner up or two listed.

January: For top pick of the month, Sother Teague's Improved Kingston Negroni as a riff on Joaquin Simo's 2009 neo-classic gets the nod. The Argyle from the NoMad Cocktail Book as a stylish aquavit cocktail and Jason Alexander's tropical sensation Commando Life are worthy of runner-up status.

February: The month seemed to be amaro heavy with Paul MacDonald's The War on Christmas as part of his Fibonacci series at Philadelphia's Friday Saturday Sunday having a delightful elegance to it. Worthy of mention are Paul McGee liqueur-based Zombie riff Music that Stays on for Extra Days at Lost Lake and The Negroni that Wasn't by Seattle-based bartender Scott Diaz.
March: March's stand outs were all about the sherry. For top billing, Misty Kalkofen's Sel del la Mer captured the beauty of Chartreuse-Maraschino pairing in a Cognac straight spirits drink. For silver and bronze medals, in no particular order, are Fede Cuco's Countess of the Caribbean that appeared in Imbibe Magazine and a quirky number featuring the Cynar-sloe gin that Phil Ward loves in New Zealand home bartender Leslie Craven's Sloe Loris.

April: For 100 days of quarantine, Brian Maxwell offered up a new recipe every day on his Shaker of Spirits blog, and the Reverend Mather was the stiff drink that was needed. Honorable mention to two citrus-laden ones: Colin Shearn's fruity and floral Fair Fight and Beckaly Frank's Daiquiri riff, the Hop, Skip, and Jump. With our Daiquiri Time Out sessions on Zoom twice a week, the Daiquiri and its kin were frequent guests for the first few months of quarantine.
May: I was impressed at Maks Paznuniak's quirky flavor mastery in his Red Hook Burning as a weird abstraction of a Red Hook Manhattan -- very Rogue/Beta Cocktails-ish from one of his Counting Room menus. I also rather enjoyed Brian Maxwell's tribute to Bowie and Beachcomber with Ground Control to Major Donn and Ezra Star's Dry Martini with something extra, the When the British Came to Spain.

June: Found in an unexpected place was another of the quirky recipes that really worked, namely Stephanie Andrews' Sandy Bottoms with the watermelon-Peychaud's component in Maggie Hoffman's Batched Cocktails (I have a recipe there but few in the book come close to being this unusual). I was also impressed with Chantal Tseng's Spectacle Island with Chartreuse-pineapple in Easy Tiki and Ivy Mix's Sinking Stone from her Spirits of Latin America book.
July: There were a lot of tropical options for July especially with my mint patch in full effect. I ended up selecting Paul Shanrock's How to Kill a Friend for it took the Mezcal Jungle Bird template in an unique direction with the Pedro Ximenez sherry and other novel ingredients. Also mezcal but more summery than tropical was the Little Oaxacan and the no tropical at all Genever-aquavit Martini riff, the Bohemia, from the NoMad Cocktail Book were worthy competitors.

August: The heat of this month made the blender see a lot of use as I explored the genre. Jeffrey Morgenthaler's PX Sherry Mudslide gave dignity to the much maligned Mudslide and impressed me with the depth of flavors (even more so than other blender drinks like the Frozen Negroni). For runners up, it was a tough choice between two Jason Alexander drinks in Minimalist Tiki but his Arkham Kula was a bit more complex than his mighty and delicious Doomsayer's Grog; also, there was more than one vodka tropical drink of note with my nod to Kirk Estopinal's Paradise Lost with coconut water, Fino, lime, and orgeat.
September: The month's standouts were all about agave. I miss being able to sit at Sahil Mehta's bar at Estragon, so I was pleased to find his Passiflora online. For two recipes of distinction, Eric Alperin's Mexican Monk as a straight spirits number and Samir Osman's Pancho & Lefty with its whiskey-mezcal and maple-sage flavors were both intriguing tipples.

October: I was rather impressed at how Sother Teague's 8 Amaro Sazerac from Amor y Amargo was greater than the sum of its parts; the two recipes that I found online suggest that the composition shifts, and I had to make a few substitutions to get it done. Two other delicious drinks were Yael Vengroff's Clover Club-esque Pink Panther and Rafa Garcia Febles' complex Jamaican rum drink The Host Body. Indeed, we made quite a few of Rafa's drinks this year.
November: I do not frequently pick Old Fashioned riffs as the month's winner, but Matty Clark's Base Camp with accents of peat smoke, chocolate, and allspice was a true delight. I was also impressed with Kyle Davidson's Bells & Whistles as a Manhattan with light but effective touches of the 3 As: apricot, Averna, and Amontillado; in addition, Zachary Gelnaw-Rubin's Filty Rich impressed me with the Cynar-Benedictine match up.

December: Only citrus in the twists for December's winner and next of kin. For top billing, I gave it to Tre Amici by George Delgado in Dale DeGroff's The New Craft of the Cocktail book with its three Italian ingredients (okay, I lied with the first statement since it was shaken with an orange slice). The batters up go to a duo in Brian Bartels' The United States of Cocktails: Kevin King's Creole-like Dead Monk's Society at McCrady's and Jen Ackrill's Banana-Liberal Fool's Gold at the Top of Waikiki restaurant.
Trends?: As for trends this year in my picks, I found myself more drawn to aquavit in both stirred and shaken drinks than previous years. Moreover, I am still a sucker for sherry cocktails (especially with the addition of Fino and Manzanilla to my fridge) and Genever ones. Tropical and blender drinks were winners in the warmer months (although I made some Tiki picks even in the colder ones), and bitter drinks shined in the cooler months especially ones with Zucca/Sfumato, Cynar, Cardamaro, and Campari. I think I featured more Martini riffs than I had before which is intriguing since I rather infrequently make myself classic Martinis. Mezcal and quinquinas still held their ground this year as well.

Favorite Angel's Envy Drinks: Since they were paid for with brand money, I wanted to separate these from the list. However, these three were worthy of mention with that caveat. In no particular order, Fabio Steven Gonzalez's creation at NYC's Park Hyatt Hotel that I dubbed the Battle Annie, the Earl Grey Angel at Backbar, and the Tipperary riff created by Harrison Snow at Wit's End that I called It's a Long, Long Way

Somehow 2020 has come and gone, and I have a feeling that the drinks mentioned above helped get me through the year that it was. Overall, I narrowed the time frame to 36 recipes plus three related to work that proved to be noteworthy mementos of my trip around the sun. Good luck to all of your cocktail adventures in 2021 and stay in touch!