Saturday, December 31, 2022

:: fred's top 10 cocktail moments of 2022 ::

Back in 2010, someone 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, here is the 13th annual installment:

1. Worked at Drink.
Back in November 2021, I helped to re-open Drink after it had been closed for several months to do some repair work to the leaky foundation (see #2 on the 2021 year end wrap-up). When it came time for the director of operations to pick a general manager in early 2022, I turned it down three times with the reply "I don't know what I'll tell you the fourth time that I haven't told you the three times before." I wanted to keep things simple and focus on making cocktails (see #10 on this list). One of the other bartenders had some management experience and stepped up. By mid-March, he needed some assistance and I was asked if I would like to be the bar manager to do staff training, produce ordering, and inventory. Soon I was doing two of the closes per week once we went to five shifts per week (generally only working four long shifts though). Once the liquor ordering was handed off as well, I began to be suspicious; and I was right, for the GM gave notice. We were without a GM for two weeks, and I decided to step up. I was then the GM, bar manager, and bartender all at the same time unless I was the doorman or a barback (or one night I was both barbacks) as needed. Depending on whether it was inventory week, this was 54-61 hours plus time spent at home such as doing the liquor ordering, hiring phone calls and correspondences, etc. We had a system on Sundays where one of the bartenders would send me numbers and I would do the books and time sheets from home so I could spend one full day with my wife (part of my demands when I stepped up to GM). Pre-pandemic, this was all split up between a GM, a manager, and two primary bartenders. Eventually, in a perfect week, I was working two bartending shifts and then two floor manager shifts on the busier nights (although some weeks, it dropped to one bartending shift I needed to fill in another role). Unfortunately, some of the bartenders were coming in on their days off on Sunday and one of them caused an incident. The director of operations said that a manager should have been there, and I was the manager, so now I need to work Sundays. Since this would add 11 hours and take away the one full day I got to spend with my wife (I would still have Saturday and Sunday mornings and Monday and Tuesday nights with her), I gave notice. My life-work balance would be completely off otherwise. On my last night which was a full year after joining the team to re-open, I gave advice to the two barbacks, "Just like no one gets promoted at a company Christmas party, no one gets promoted going to their bar on their day off." Unfortunately, I was the casualty here (but one where I would not have to put out a job ad and restart the process of interviewing, hiring, and training). That last night was the day before Portland Cocktail Week, so I treated myself to a vacation, but more on that later. Overall, 8 of my 12 months were spent in a management role. I ended up taking the end of November and all of December off. I will begin to consider new directions in January 2023, so who knows what the future holds.
2. Did some writing.
Besides writing for the blog where I had just shy of 360 posts in 2022, I also began a year long residency with Edible Boston and Edible Worcester. I began with a Summer issue that centered around garden herbal delights in the article with three recipes called Make this Summer a Smash. Fall went back to my interest in Johnny Appleseed who was born north of Worcester with my article and three recipes for Fall into Apple Season. The third for Winter focused in on hearty egg drinks – one hot: my favorite of Tom & Jerry and one cold: Eggnog! – for Liquid Sweater Weather. Finally, I have just finished up my fourth one for Spring 2023 with three recipes (posted here this week in advance) on maple syrup production and maple's use in cocktails. Other than that, I wrote an essay here on The Ego and the Bartender about how humility leads to better hospitality.

3. Got quoted or mentioned in a book and in the press.
Towards the end of the year, Philip Greene's Cheers!: Cocktails & Toasts to Celebrate Every Day of the Year came out where he chose to feature my Tin Can Telephone for one of the calendar days (Alexander Graham Bell's birthday, I believe) which was a pleasant surprise. As for magazines and websites, in forward order: I was quoted on my favorite underrated Bourbon in VinePair, in a somber article about agism in the drinks industry for SevenFifty, another VinePair article on favorite shift drinks, on the best tequilas for GQ, and my bartender origin story for Spill Magazine (article is behind a pay wall). Moreover, Total Food Service referenced my opinion on technology and equipment to improve the beverage world, Serious Eats sought out my thoughts on coupe glasses, Robert O. Simonson wrote up my thoughts on Boston's number drinks after he bought my first book at the Boston Shaker Store where he was doing a signing and discovered the 1919 and other recipes, Mashed quoted me on how to make the best possible Gin & Tonic, and VinePair quoted me on my favorite all-around gin for mixing. One that had me shaking my head was a SevenFifty article on drink influencers which namedropped me by saying "A few, like Boston-based blogger Frederic Yarm, have even written cocktail books" at a time when I was both the bar manager and a full time bartender at Drink.
4. Still involved in the Boston chapter of the bartenders guild.
This was my 10th full year of being a member of the USBG (joined in October 2012) and my 4th year as the chapter secretary. I organized a trip to the New England Aquarium (and drinks after) with Sipsmith Gin, and ran three-fourths of Education Week. Through my industry connections at Drink, I arranged for classes on gin of the world with Hotaling, vermouth and amari with Fernet Branca, and wild agave mezcals with Del Maguey and hosted these three on two separate days at work before the staff arrived to set up for the evening. I also attended and helped to promote events with Wahaka Mezcal, Conniption Gin, Bar Hill (up in Vermont!), Dorchester Brewing (part 4 of Education Week), and the Campari Day of Service. My essay writing skills got me on the USBG-organized Wellspring trip to Dublin, Ireland, with 20 bartenders in August. Overall, I tried to stay as busy as I could given that my involvement at Drink took up a lot of my time.

5. I read a decent amount but half as much as years past.
As I took on more responsibility at Drink, my reading slowed down, and when I was GM, it nearly stopped. I still finished 13 books in 2022 (my range for the past few years has been generally 24-30 with a one-time high of 60). I can break my favorites into three categories. The first is industry with a great hospitality book being Pouring with Heart: The Essential Magic Behind Bartenders We Love by Cedd Moses which was pure fire, and two management books with the first being the brilliantly named given my situation The Surprise Restaurant Manager by Ken McGarrie and the other being The Bar Shift: 41 Management Lessons You Don’t Have to Learn the Hard Way by Nave Nitzel and Dave Domzaliski. Sadly, often when you get promoted to management, you have to figure it out yourself, and these books were great mentors. The next category was history with Doctors and Distillers: The Remarkable Medicinal History of Beer, Wine, Spirits, and Cocktails by Camper English and From Barley to Blarney: A Whiskey Lover’s Guide to Ireland by Sean Muldoon, Jack McGarry, and Tim Herlihy (became especially relevant when I scored my trip to Dublin and it became a primer of places to check out on my free time). The last is recipe-driven and drink-theory ones that were The Bartender's Manifesto: How to Think, Drink, and Create Cocktails Like a Pro by Toby Maloney, Emma Janzen, and the staff of the Violet Hour and Cure: New Orleans Drinks and How to Mix ’Em by Neal Bodenheimer & Emily Timberlake. I think that I finished up 4 of those books once I left Drink in the month of December. Hopefully, I can get back to the regular pace of two per month from my slow period of 1 per two months.
6. Traveled a little.
With a slow 2021 in terms of travel where I made it to New York City once for my Angel's Envy work, things picked up a little in 2022. My first time on an airplane since January 2020 was heading off to Dublin, Ireland, to participate in the Wellspring program. That adventure included a tour of the Guinness Brewery, a trip to the old Jameson Distillery and their special event space for bartenders a few blocks away, a Glendalough adventure that included seeing the old ruins nearby, foraging for gin botanicals, and doing a tasting at the distillery, and a trip to the top cocktail bar in the city – Bar 1661. On my own, I visited the Teeling Distillery and hit a bunch of Victorian pubs that were mentioned in From Barley to Blarney including O'Donoghue's, the Palace, Mary's Hardware, Neary's, and Kavanaugh's the Gravedigger; I also got to meet up with the family of one of the Drink bartenders and hear his dad and sister play traditional Irish music at the Cobblestone. One adventure that I applied for was Portland Cocktail Week that I had to turn down when I was accepted in a student track for my GM role did not allow me the freedom to travel. After I gave notice, the organizers wrote back to see if I was still interested, and the time frame lined up rather tightly (I left work on my last night around 4:15am and was at the airport before 10am the next morning) but it would work. I had not been to Portland or the cocktail week there since 2012. Luckily, the organizers got me back into the student track despite missing the deadline to sign up for things and scored me some cool classes. When I had not seen my wife as much, we talked about visiting the other Portland – the one to the north in Maine – for an overnight getaway on a Monday-Tuesday when I had off. After I left Drink, we took off for a Wednesday-Thursday adventure visiting a bunch of breweries (see #7), getting cocktails at Portland's Hunt & Alpine Club and The Danforth, and sampling beers at the Novare Res Bier Café and the Blind Pig Tavern. There should be more travel in 2023 with two trips lined up already. In early January, I will be going to Oaxaca to visit the Convite Mezcal facilities, teach a class, and bartend for a shift or two. And finally, in May, I will be traveling to San Francisco to be a judge in the Bartenders Spirits Awards.

7. Visited brewery tap rooms.
Besides running the beer program at Drink which got me more in touch with the industry, I got to visit breweries in four parts of the world with the grand total being 52 with many of them on my one day off with my wife. Within one hour or so of travel, the new to-me breweries included Banded, Blaze, Agronomy Farms Vineyard, Distraction, Outlaw, Modestman, and Dirigible. My trip to Ireland of course scored me a visit to Guinness as mentioned above. Portland Cocktail Week allowed me the time to visit Living Häus, Level Beer, Brewery 26, Wayfinder Beer (although I did not realize until afterwards that I should have gotten the "cold IPA" which is a style they invented), and Steeplejack. And lastly, our adventure in Portland, Maine, had us visiting Bissell Brothers, Battery Steele, and Foundation.
8. Cool moments at work.
I might have forgotten some of these if I had not noted them on Twitter, although some of them I won't ever forget. One cool one is pictured above; a gentleman asked for a Sazerac, and he loved it so much that his wife asked why it was so good. I wrote out my recipe, and they ended up framing it and sending me said photo of it. Another great memory was having a man repeatedly trying to tell me and the other couple what his date wanted to drink which was something vodka-based. I shushed him the second time with "This is her drink, her moment, and I would like to hear what she has to say." She explained a preference for whiskey or other darker spirits, and her Cognac nightcap was perfect for her as was her look of thanks that she gave me. I frequently get asked what the weirdest drink request I got at our menu-less bar, and the answer was often a duo on their third round where one requested "when Taylor Swift got the microphone taken away from her – that drink" (I made a Swizzle because Taylor fans stole the hashtag #Swizzle on Instagram and I was taking it back) and the other "when your are standing at the beach and the waves are lapping at your feet and your feet begin to sink into the sand" (she got a Sinking Ship Swizzle). And finally, I impressed folks at the bar with this: a bar guest complains, "I lost my phone – I was only here and in the bathroom." Me as the manager replies, "Have you checked the bathroom because it's not here at the bar?" Guest, "Yes, done that." Me, "Go back and check the garbage." Guest returns with her phone and everyone looks at me astonished. I reply "Not my first rodeo."

9. New cocktail bars.
I did get to visit some of the new crop of cocktail bars that opened up this year. This included Daiquiris & Daisies, Wusong Road, Wig Shop, Birds of Paradise, and Coquette (technically opened in late 2021). During our trip to Portland, Maine, I got to see the new Death & Co. project The Danforth. As for new cocktail bars to open up in 2023, I am excited about Equal Measure and Eastern Standard that are opening and re-opening, respectively, sometime in the middle of the year. I am sure that there are others, but they have been a bit more shy about announcing their arrival to the scene.
10. Created some drinks.
Some being 59 posted here in 2022. Part of these were created at Drink and others at home, and many of them got served to guests throughout the year. The Devil's Highway was created when a guest made a request for "tequila and Scotch" in an Old Fashioned sort of format and did not mean smoky mezcal. Old Fashioned requests were pretty common, and I even crafted a tropical one called the Pickwick Club and another Scotch one called Blues from a Gun. 2022 was also a big year for Espresso Martinis, and I got creative; one of my most popular ones was preceded with a question if they're adventurous and/or do they trust me. If so, they got Coffee's For Closers named after a line from the movie Glengarry Glen Ross that also has "ABC: Always Be Closing" but here the ABC was "Averna Benedictine Coffee liqueur (+ a whole egg)!" One time during the Summer, I eventually had 10 of my 12 bar guests drinking this Flip as they communicated how great it tasted to the others. A request for "Bourbon and vanilla" made me think of Don's Spices #2 (vanilla and allspice liqueur) which sent things in a tropical direction with Cave-In-Rock. For egg white Sours, there's was the Pisco Sour riff the South American Honey Bee and the Amaretto Sour riff the Am-Am Sour (the second Am is for amaro). Two inspired by art museum visits were All of Freud's Beautiful Women and Clown Car (with overlapping structures although the second one is amari-driven). And then there's the Sazerac variation based off of a Ferrari (Fernet-Campari) and Red Hook mashup that I called the Trash Polka.

I traditionally cap off the list at 10 with that last one or two being a challenge, but not this year. Last year, I had one of the 10 being "Increased my bartender-author cat herd", and we did gain one on a year ago that broke the author pattern of Embury and Boothby with the addition Coley after Savoy bartender Ada Coleman. With 2022 wrapping up, I am curious where 2023 will bring me. I did mention two trips in the first half of the year, and I should be appearing on an industry podcast sometime in January. But other than that, it will be fun to find out.

bazaar boulevardier

1 1/2 oz Bourbon (Evan Williams Bonded)
1 oz Campari
3/4 oz Sweet Vermouth (Cocchi)

Stir with ice, add 1 bsp (1/8 oz) Green Chartreuse to a cocktail coupe, and ignite the liqueur. After several seconds, strain into the coupe to extinguish the flame, and garnish with a flamed orange twist (expressed into the burning Chartreuse).
To Saturdays ago, I decided to make the Boulevardier riff described on that week's episode of the Cocktail College podcast. It was offered by the guest, Amanda Gunderson of Another Round Another Rally, and she developed the recipe while at the Bazaar which is chef José André's restaurant that features molecular gastronomy. Amanda figured that the fire and caramelized Green Chartreuse would take the drink to another level, and she explained that in later bar programs, she kept the barspoon of Chartreuse but added it to the mixing glass instead of setting it ablaze in the coupe. The burning Chartreuse reminded me of the Krakatoa that I had at Drink and years later made a bunch at the same bar, and the hint of Green Chartreuse reminded me of the reverse – the touch of Campari in the Bijou riff, the Tailspin. Once prepared, it donated an orange, Bourbon, and herbal aroma to the nose. Next, grape and orange notes on the sip strolled into Bourbon, herbal, and bitter orange flavors on the swallow. Note, there is a photo of the burning Chartreuse on my Instagram for those that are curious.

circles and seasons

1 1/2 oz Gin (Beefeater)
1 oz Grapefruit Juice
1/2 oz Maple Syrup
2 dash Angostura Bitters

Shake with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with a grapefruit twist.
For a third and final drink during recipe R&D for an article on maple syrup, I wanted to do another Sour of sorts. I ended up naming it Circles and Seasons after the 1979 album by Pete Seeger that contains the song "Maple Syrup Time" which pretty accurately describes the process in folk song stylings down to warnings about not overcooking the syrup and burning it. I utilized the gin-maple aspect from from David Embury's Old Vermont (which was a gin and bitters version of the Applejack Rabbit) and the maple-grapefruit duo from the Don the Beachcomber Tiki classic, the Volcano Bowl. Combined, the complementary flavors sing splendidly together just like the medley in Seeger’s other recording of "Maple Syrup Time" on his album Seeds. I left out of the article the influence of Al Sotack's Genever-based Dial 'M' to simplify things, but I needed to give that recipe a nod here. I also kept the 3:2:1 formulation of how I mixed up the gin-grapefruit Seventh Heaven at Drink. Once prepared, it donated a grapefruit, pine, and maple aroma. Next, grapefruit with maple's richness on the sip flowed into gin, grapefruit, maple, allspice, and clove flavors on the swallow.

Friday, December 30, 2022

maple sugar moon

2 oz Blanco Tequila (*)
1/2 oz Cointreau (or other Orange Liqueur)
1/2 oz Maple Syrup
3/4 oz Lime Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a double old fashioned glass with fresh ice. Garnishing with a lime wedge or wheel would make for an elegant touch (garnish omitted here).
(*) I wanted to do 1 1/2 oz tequila and 1/2 oz mezcal but I ended up keeping things simple. Feel free to sub it in.

For the second drink in recipe R&D for an article on maple syrup, I considered how well tequila and mezcal's vegetal notes work with maple; this is not surprising since darker agave syrups and maple share some flavor similarities. Tequila and maple have been complementary in the Debbie Don't, Sable, and Illuminations, so I took that in the direction of a Margarita to make it accessible. This Margarita variation was named after the chapter on maple syrup in Robin Wall Kimmerer's Braiding Sweetgrass book that I read for Camper English's Alcademics book club circa January 2022. It is the traditional name for the full moon that occurs around the time that the weather switches to warmer days followed by a return to freezing temperatures at night when the maple sap starts to flow. I considered splitting the tequila with mezcal to bring out notes evocative of the fires utilized to boil down the tree sap every March and April, but instead left it as an advanced suggestion in the instructions.
The Maple Sugar Moon rose with maple mingling with agave on the nose. Next, orange and lime notes on the sip lit up a tequila and maple swallow.

evening in a sugar orchard

1 1/2 oz Bourbon (Evan Williams Bonded)
1 oz Aged Rum (Privateer New England Reserve)
1/4 oz Maple Syrup
1/4 oz Cinnamon Syrup
2 dash Angostura Bitters

Stir with ice, strain into an old fashioned glass with fresh ice, and garnish with an orange twist.
Two Fridays ago, I did some recipe R&D for an article on maple syrup cocktails and came up with three drinks. The first was an Old Fashioned variation that I named Evening in a Sugar Orchard after a Robert Frost poem. I was influenced by the revised version of the American Trilogy (Michael McIlroy's original called for Demerara syrup instead of maple). And the cinnamon aspect came from my recent tinkerings that developed the Two Roads Diverged (also a Robert Frost allusion); the combination of cinnamon and maple also appeared in Death & Co.'s Ole Bull and Timothy Miner's Christmas in Prison. In the text, I describe how the "Bourbon is bolstered by rich flavors from an aged rum and complemented by maple, cinnamon, and bitters. While Bourbons are generally consistent due to the laws regulating the spirit, rums vary a lot. I developed this recipe with a local aged rum, Privateer New England Reserve, but I can see this recipe prospering with darker rums as well. Use what you have got and experiment over time." In the glass, the Evening in the Sugar Orchard floated orange oil over darker maple notes, allspice, and Bourbon aromas. Next, a maple-driven sip dawned upon Boubon, rum, cinnamon, maple, and clove flavors on the swallow.

Thursday, December 29, 2022

five keys

1 1/3 oz Bourbon (1 3/4 oz Evan Williams Bonded)
3/4 oz Sweet Vermouth (Cocchi)
1/4 oz Luxardo Maraschino
1/4 oz Cynar

Stir with ice, strain into a Nick & Nora glass, and garnish with a cherry.
Two Thursdays ago, I returned to another recipe that I had spotted on Difford's Guide called the Five Keys. The site did not provide attribution, but I was able to locate some on the Boxes & Booze blog that linked it to the Blade & Bow Whiskey company that has a Five Keys Club. The name refers to the 5 brass keys on the door of the Stitzel-Weller Distillery with each symbolizing the five steps of making a great Bourbon – namely, a focus on the grains, yeast, fermentation, distillation, and aging. The light accents in a whiskey drink of Maraschino and Cynar reminded me of the Artichoke Hold and Bensonhurst, so I was intrigued. In the glass, the Five Keys conjured up a Bourbon and cherry aroma. Next, grape and caramel notes on the sip with a hint of cherry unlocked a Bourbon, herbal, and cherry flavors on the swallow.

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

needles & pins

2 oz Gin (Farmer's Botanical Organic)
1/2 oz Cocchi Americano
1/2 oz Manzanilla Sherry (Tio Pepe Fino)
1 bsp Benedictine (1/8 oz)

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with a lemon twist.
Two Wednesdays ago, I returned to the drinks of the Bartender's Choice app and spotted the Needles & Pins. The name triggered the Ramones song playing in my head; however, the track was originally recorded by Jackie DeShannon fifteen years before that in 1963. The recipe itself was crafted by David Molyneux at Melbourne's The Everleigh in 2015 as a drier version of the Rolls Royce that appeared in the 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book. A similar dry sherry swap of sorts was done in the Aston Martin, but that got rid of the vermouth component completely. Once mixed, the Needles & Pins gave forth a lemon, fino sherry, and pine aroma. Next, a semi-dry white grape sip with hints of orchard fruit drove into gin, citrus, herbal, and floral flavors on the swallow.

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

old pal

1/3 Canadian Whisky (1 oz Old Overholt 86° Rye)
1/3 Dry Vermouth (1 oz Noilly Prat)
1/3 Campari (1 oz)

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

While writing up the Nearly Headless Nickroni, I made reference in the text to the Old Pal and realized that I still had never written up the drink here. Through the years, I have made mention of it such as in the Perfect Pal and Good Buddy, and now it was time to fix the recipe's absence. The Old Pal was first mentioned in the 1927 Barflies and Cocktails where it was attributed to Harry MacElhone's old pal "Sparrow" Robertson except with "Eyetalian" vermouth instead of the French style that it became associated with; this is odd for the Boulevardier appears two pages before in that section with the same makeup but with Bourbon instead of Canadian Club. Various books like the PDT Cocktail Book attribute the recipe to the 1922 Harry's ABC of Mixing Cocktails, but the 1923 edition of that book on EUVS lacks the recipe; it does appear though in the updated version that added recipes in 1986 listing the source as "Sparrow Robinson, Sporting Editor, New York Herald Tribune, 1929" still with Canadian whisky but finally with dry vermouth as the aromatized wine. It is odd that it lists 1929 which is two years after it was mentioned in Barflies and Cocktails (albeit with a different style of vermouth) Modern cocktail books such as the ones published by PDT and Death & Co. switched the whiskey to American rye, and the latter book added a lemon twist to the otherwise ungarnished equation.
The Old Pal without a garnish proffered a rye and bitter orange aroma. Next, caramelized orange peel notes on the sip befriended rye and bitter orange flavors on the swallow. Overall, the Old Pal was more stark than the Boulevardier due to not only the decreased sugar content to allow the bitterness to shine through more but the lack of the roundness and complexity donated by sweet vermouth; as a result, the Old Pal seemed like a better aperitif choice of the two.

Monday, December 26, 2022


1 1/2 oz Armagnac (Marie Duffau Napoleon)
3/4 oz Lillet Blanc (Cocchi Americano)
3/4 oz Benedictine
2 dash Black Walnut Bitters (4 dash Strongwater Mountain Elixirs Walnut)

Stir with ice, strain into an old fashioned glass with a large ice cube, and garnish with a walnut piece resting on the ice.
Two Mondays ago, I was in the mood for Armagnac, so I searched the database on Difford's Guide and came upon the Bastille. This cocktail was crafted by Robert Weeks in 2020 at the Coldroom Bar in Montreal, and its structure reminded me of Eastern Standard's Houdini. Here, the Bastille approached the nose with walnut and rich brandy aromas. Next, caramel with a hint of orchard fruit on the sip gave way to brandy, minty, leather, chocolate, and walnut flavors on the swallow.

Sunday, December 25, 2022

coffee & cigarettes

1 1/2 oz Japanese 12 Year Whisky (Kavalan Classic (*))
1/2 oz Amaro Nonino
1/2 oz NOLA Coffee Liqueur (Galliano Ristretto)
1/4 oz Averna
2 dash Angostura Bitters
2 dash Allspice Dram (1/2 bsp Hamilton's)

Stir with ice and strain into a rocks glass with a large ice cube.
(*) This was as close as I could get to Japanese whisky.
For a drink two Sundays ago, Chad Austin's Everyone Has a F*cking Cocktail Book caught my eye. There, I selected his circa 2015 Black Manhattan of sorts called Coffee & Cigarettes. Once prepared, it donated a caramel, coffee, and whisky bouquet to the nose. Next, caramel and roast notes on the sip lit up whiskey, coffee, and allspice flavors on the swallow; moreover, as the ice melted, it gained orange elements on the swallow.

Saturday, December 24, 2022

love lies bleeding

1 1/2 oz Punt e Mes
1/2 oz Mezcal (Fidencio)
1/2 oz Cardamaro
1/2 oz Aperol
1/8 oz Lime Juice
2 dash Bittercube Jamaica #2 Bitters

Stir with ice, strain into a double old fashioned glass with a large ice cube, and garnish with a grapefruit twist.
Two Saturdays ago, I selected the Bartender's Manifesto book and came across Love Lies Bleeding. This was Levi Tyma's 2018 take on the Art of Choke, and with the Punt e Mes, mezcal, amaro, and hint of citrus, it reminded me of Carlota's Collapse. In the glass, Love Lies Bleeding showed off the grapefruit oils from the twist over smoke aromas from the mezcal. Next, a grape, orange, and lime sip bloomed into herbal, vegetal, and smoke flavors on the swallow.

Friday, December 23, 2022

monte burns

2 oz Scotch (Cutty Sark Prohibition)
3/4 oz Sweet Vermouth (Cocchi)
1/4 oz Amaro Montenegro
2 dash Angostura Bitters

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with a lemon twist.
Two Fridays ago, I returned to the recipe collection on Sam Ross' Bartender's Choice app and landed up the Monte Burns. This was Tim Phillips riff on the Bobby Burns with Amaro Montenegro in place of the Benedictine, and he named his creation at London's Milk & Honey circa 2009 after the character in The Simpsons, C. Montgomery Burns. Once stirred and strained, the Monte Burns provided a lemon and peat smoke aroma. Next, grape and orange notes on the sip released Scotch, clementine, apricot, clove, and allspice flavors on the swallow.

Thursday, December 22, 2022

west end

1 1/4 oz Wild Turkey 101° Rye
3/4 oz Rainwater Madeira
3/4 oz Punt e Mes
1/2 oz Blume Marillen Apricot Eau De
2 dash Orange Bitters

Stir with ice, strain into a Nick & Nora glass, and garnish with an orange twist.
Towards the end of our evening in Portland, Maine, two Wednesdays ago, we headed over to The Danforth for a nightcap. There, I asked bartender Garrett Jones for the West End that he attributed to Death & Co.'s Tyson Buhler who helped to consult on the menu. This was Tyson's Manhattan tribute to the neighborhood where The Danforth is located. In the glass, the West End gave forth an orange and grape aroma. Next, the grape notes continued on the sip where they were chased by rye, dry grape, apricot, and spice flavors on the swallow.

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

color in your cheeks

1 1/4 oz Fernet Branca
1/2 oz Laird's Applejack
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
3/4 oz Maple Syrup
1 Egg White

Shake one round without ice and one round with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with a Granny Smith apple fan.
Two Wednesdays ago, Andrea and I made an overnight excursion to Portland, Maine. After dinner, we headed out for cocktails at the Portland Hunt & Alpine Club. There, I asked the bartender for the Color in Your Cheeks; I did not inquire about the recipe for this creation by Hayley Wilson had been published in Punch Drinks. Once served, it donated an apple and minty aroma to the nose. Next, a creamy lemon sip lit up into a Fernet minty-menthol, maple, and apple swallow.

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

trouble & desire

2 oz El Dorado 5 Year Rum
1/2 oz Smith & Cross Rum
1/2 oz Licor 43
3/4 oz Carpano Sweet Vermouth (Cocchi)

Stir with ice, strain into a double old fashioned glass with a large ice cube, and garnish with an orange twist.
Two Tuesdays ago, I ventured back into Cure: New Orleans Drinks and How to Mix'Em and spied the Trouble & Desire. This rum Manhattan of sorts akin to Eastern Standard's Ponce de Leon was created by Michael Yusko at Cure who named it after a line from Hal Hartley's 1992 movie Simple Men where a character exclaims, "There is no such thing as adventure. There is no such thing as romance. There's only trouble and desire." Once prepared, the Trouble & Desire gave forth an orange, caramel, and vanilla nose. Next, caramel and grape notes on the sip flowed into funky rum, citrus, and vanilla flavors on the swallow.

Monday, December 19, 2022


1 1/2 oz Blanco Tequila (Avion)
3/4 oz Strega
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Cinnamon Syrup

Shake with ice, strain into an old fashioned glass with a large ice cube, and garnish with a lemon twist.
Two Mondays ago, I returned to Neil Ratliff's Seattle Cocktails where I landed upon the Witch created by Joanna "Jojo" Kitchen while at the Fog Room. Since tequila and Strega had paired well in the Fallen Angel, I gave this one a whirl. Here, it showcased a lemon, cinnamon, and anise aroma. Next, a lemon-driven sip led into tequila, fennel, cinnamon, and mint flavors on the swallow.

Sunday, December 18, 2022

all hands on deck

1 1/2 oz Mezcal (Fidencio)
1/2 oz Sweet Vermouth (Cocchi)
1/2 oz Curaçao (Pierre Ferrand)
1/2 oz Fernet Branca

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

Two Sundays ago, I uncovered a collection of flashcards online that were sourced from Sam Ross' Bartender's Choice app. That eventually led me to purchasing the app once I discovered that it was finally available for Android phones. That night, I made the All Hands on Deck which was created by Andrew Rice at Attaboy in 2015 as a mezcal take on the Don't Give Up the Ship. That classic is a gin and Dubonnet one from Crosby Gaige's 1941 Cocktail Guide and Ladies' Companion. It was pretty common for Gaige in that book to take existing recipes and rename them to fit the themes of the book's chapters, and it happens to be the same recipe as the Napoleon from the 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book. Since Gaige's cocktail name is so much more poetic and evocative, it won out over time (unlike many of his purloined drinks that lost out such as his Up in Mabel's Room that is better known as the original Brown Derby).
The All Hands on Deck saluted the nose with an orange, caramel, smoke, and menthol bouquet. Next, caramel and dried orange peel notes on the sip flowed into smoky mezcal, orange, minty, bitter gentian, and menthol flavors on the swallow.

Saturday, December 17, 2022


2 oz Jamaican Rum (1 3/4 oz Appleton Signature + 1/4 oz Smith & Cross)
3/4 oz Lime Juice
3/4 oz Honey Syrup
2 dash Angostura Bitters

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
Another drink that I spotted in Unvarnished was the Brooklynite listed as a variation under the recipe for the Honeysuckle. David Embury listed the Honeysuckle under the recipe for the Bee's Knees in his 1948 The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks; he explained that the gin-based Bee's Knees could be made with rum, "the same drink, except for the use of white Cuban rum in place of the gin, is known as the Honeysuckle. The same drink with Jamaican rum is the Honey Bee." Interestingly, Unvarnished listed the Honeysuckle as a lime drink whereas most others including Embury have it as a lemon one. Here, the Brooklynite uses that lime juice with the addition of Angostura Bitters. With the help of Imbibe Magazine, I was able to trace back the Brooklynite to 1940s where it appears in both the 1946 Stork Club Bar Book and the 1947 Trader Vic's Bartender's Guide (confirmed in my 1948 edition) that year. Sadly, the Imbibe Magazine version omitted the bitters leaving the concept closer to a honeyed Daiquiri. Once made with the bitters, it buzzed in with a rum funk, allspice, and clove aroma. Next, a lime and honey sip flew over to a funky rum, honey, clove, and allspice swallow.

Friday, December 16, 2022

mystic wood

2 oz Rye Whiskey (Rittenhouse)
1/2 oz Cherry Heering
1/2 oz Rothman & Winter Apricot Liqueur
2 dash Angostura Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail coupe.
Two Fridays ago, I began perusing the Kindred Cocktails database when I came across the Mystic Wood created by Kelly Swenson at Ten-01 in Portland, Oregon, circa 2008. The combination of rye whiskey, Cherry Heering, and apricot liqueur reminded me of Todd Maul's Laura Lee that presented the trio as a Sour instead of as a stirred cocktail here. Once prepared, the Mystic Wood showcased a rye and cherry aroma. Next, a dark fruit sip flowed into rye, cherry, apricot, and clove flavors on the swallow.

platform lime and 3/4

2 oz Denizen Merchant Reserve 8 Year Rum
3/4 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Orgeat
1/4 oz Honey Syrup
1 dash Angostura Bitters
1 dash Orange Bitters

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail coupe.
For my second drink at Backbar for their Harry Potter Week menu, I selected the Platform Lime and 3/4 from bartender Alexis Vazquez. A Harry Potter Wikipedia described how, "Platform nine and three-quarters is the train platform from which students board the Hogwarts Express, the scarlet steam engine that brings students to and from Hogwarts. It can be accessed by walking straight through the apparently solid barrier between platforms nine and ten." And the menu item's subtitle explained, "Don't miss the train on a Mai Tai Daiquiri." During Harry Potter Week 2021, the Platform Lime and 3/4 was a Hamilton 86 rum Daiquiri with cinnamon syrup as the sweetener, but this year it became a Denizen 8 Year Rum Daiquiri sweetened by honey and almond syrup. Once it was served, it conjured up caramel, rum, and lime aromas. Next, lime and honey on the sip drove into rum, nutty, honey, and clove-cinnamon flavors on the swallow.

Thursday, December 15, 2022

nearly headless nickroni

1 1/2 oz Sagamore Rye
1/2 oz Campari
1/2 oz Dolin Blanc Vermouth
1/2 oz Amaro Montenegro

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

Two Thursdays ago, I ventured to Backbar for their Harry Potter Week menu. There, I found a seat in front of bartender Alexis Vazquez and asked him for the Nearly Headless Nickroni. While the name reminded me of the layered Knickroni, it was actually a Boulevardier tribute created by Sam Treadway to a wizard, Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington, who gained the name Nearly Headless Nick after a failed execution via decapitation. The drink's combination of Campari and Amaro Montenegro reminded me of Paul Manzelli's Monte Cassino and Montenegroni at Bergamot though.
The menu item was subtitled, ""Slow sipping and bitter sweet, just like our old pal Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington." I wonder if the "old pal" part was a reference to the Boulevardier riff the Old Pal containing rye whiskey, dry vermouth, and Campari. Interestingly, when Backbar ran this drink last year, it was a Scotch-based one according to their Instagram post in 2021. In the glass, the Nearly Headless Nickroni proffered an orange oil aroma. Next, a caramel orange sip cast its way into rye, bitter orange, and clementine flavors on the swallow.

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

spring blossom

1 1/2 oz Mezcal (Fidencio)
3/4 oz Dolin Blanc Vermouth
3/4 oz Suze Gentian Liqueur
2 dash Bittermens Mole Bitters (Bitter Truth Chocolate)

Build in a rocks glass, add a large ice cube, stir to mix and chill, and garnish with a grapefruit twist (orange twist).
Two Wednesdays ago, I had pulled Eric Alperin's Unvarnished from the bookshelf to reference something, and while it was out, I began to peruse the recipe section in the middle. Under the recipe for the White Negroni was a note about the mezcal-chocolate bitters variation created at the Varnish by Gordon Bellaver called the Spring Blossom. It shared similarities with the White Mezcal Negroni that I had earlier this year but pre-dated it. Once prepared, the Spring Blossom gave forth orange, wood smoke, and earthy aromas. Next, a white grape sip bloomed into mezcal, vegetal, and smoke flavors on the swallow with a chocolate and smoke finish.

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

modern love

2 oz Reposado Tequila (Cimarron)
3/4 oz Campari
3/4 oz Giffard Pamplemousse Rose (St. Elder)
1 pinch Himalayan Sea Salt

Stir with ice, strain into a double old fashioned glass with a large ice cube, and garnish with a grapefruit twist (orange twist) and another pinch of Himalayan sea salt.
Two Tuesdays ago, I selected the Drinking Like Ladies book from the shelves and spied the Modern Love by Jane Fishel at the Andaz Hotel in Savannah, Georgia. I had to check to see if I had made it before, for I had confused it with the Modern Lover by name. Previously, I had skipped over this recipe when the book came out for I lacked a grapefruit liqueur at home back then, and it seemed like a good time to make this tribute to Martha Coston who finished her deceased husband's work to create what became the formulation for highway flares today as well as an invaluable tool during the Civil War. Once built, the Modern Love donated an orange and grapefruit aroma to the senses. Next, caramelized citrus peel elements on the sip ignited tequila and vanilla flavors on the swallow with a finish that alternated bitter orange and bitter grapefruit notes.

Monday, December 12, 2022

the elder jack

2 oz Laird's Bonded Apple Brandy
3/4 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Grenadine
1/2 oz St. Germain (St. Elder)
1/8 oz Simple Syrup
7 drop Orange Bitters

Shake with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with orange oil from a twist.
Two Mondays ago, I returned to The Bartender's Manifesto to make another drink that I had spotted the night before, namely the Elder Jack. This riff on the Jack Rose was created by Stephen Cole at the Violet Hour in 2008, and it reminded me of the Clara Bow sans mint. In the glass, the Elder Jack proffered orange, floral, berry, and apple aromas to the nose. Next, lime and red berry notes on the sip flowed into apple and floral flavors on the swallow with a tart apple finish.

Sunday, December 11, 2022

crocodile tears

1 oz Blanco Tequila (Avion)
1/2 oz Mezcal (Fidencio)
1/2 oz Green Chartreuse
1 oz Dolin Blanc Vermouth
1/4 oz Salers Gentian Liqueur (Suze)

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with a grapefruit twist (orange).
As I was reading my way through The Bartender's Manifesto by Toby Maloney and Emma Janzen two Sundays ago, I spotted the Crocodile Tears that reminded me of Sother Teague's Disco Ball. This recipe created at the Violet Hour in 2019 by Rubi Villagomez seemed like the perfect herbal number to wrap up the evening. In the glass, it rejoiced the nose with orange, herbal, and herbaceous aromas. Next, a white grape sip shed into smoky agave, genetian, and herbal flavors on the swallow.

Saturday, December 10, 2022


1 1/2 oz Mezcal (Fidencio)
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Crème de Cassis (Massenez)
1/2 oz Honey Syrup 2:1 (1/2 oz 1:1)
2 dash Lavender Bitters (Scrappy's)

Build in a Collins glass, fill with crushed ice, swizzle to mix and chill, and garnish with mint sprigs (shake with ice, strain into a coupe, and garnish with a mint tip).
Two Saturdays ago, I delved into my new purchase of Neil Ratliff's Seattle Cocktails and landed upon the Sharpshooter. The recipe was crafted by Jesse Cyr at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel, and the structure and cassis ingredient reminded me of Morgenthaler's Bourbon Renewal. In the end, I opted against doing a Swizzle and served it up for simplicity's sake. Once prepared, the Sharpshooter aimed at the nose mint, smoke, and dark berry aromas. Next, lemon and honey mingled on the sip, and the swallow hit the target with mezcal, dark berry, and lavender flavors with a smoky finish.

Thursday, December 8, 2022

mount rushmore

1 oz Bourbon (Evan Williams Bonded)
1 oz Amaro Montenegro
1 oz Fino Sherry (Tio Pepe)
1 tsp Galliano Ristretto

Stir with ice and strain into an old fashioned glass with a large ice cube.
Two Thursdays ago, I was perusing Difford's Guide when I spotted the Mount Rushmore. The recipe was crafted by Patrick Pistolesi at Drink Kong in Rome as a Boulevardier riff. Considering that Amaro Montenegro and coffee liqueur had paired well in the Black Magic and Poderoso, I was curious to mix this one up. Moreover, I had just watched Alfred Hitchcock's North By Northwest on my flights back from Portland, Oregon, which featured said historic landmark towards the end of the movie. Here, the Mount Rushmore gave forth a clementine, savory white grape, and roast bouquet. Next, coffee roast, orange, and white wine on the sip climbed into a Bourbon, savory, clementine, and coffee swallow.

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

:: rum tasting of raising glasses new releases ::

My friends John and Lorri have started a spirits importing company called Raising Glasses that has done some interesting single cask work in terms of Scotch and rum. On my last shift at Drink a few Saturdays ago, they arrived on the early side to bid me adieu and also gave me their recent rum bottlings to taste. These included a 15 year Barbados, an 8 year Trinidad, and a 9 year Guyana rum as well as a blend of the three to attempt a replica of British Navy-style rums.

The Barbados one entitled "Burning Cane" on the front and curiously "The Steel Donkey" on the back is a 15 year old specimen that they were careful to point out spent 11 years in Barbados before being aged another 4 years in the UK (which violates the proposed Barbados Rum designation that requires all aging and bottling to be on the island to be called Barbados Rum) in ex-Bourbon barrels. The rum was distilled from a molasses-based wash on both column and pot stills at the Four Square Distillery, and it was bottled at cask strength at 62.3% ABV. The Steel Donkey name was later explained as part of the island mythos in regards to cane burning. In a Glencairn glass, I got orange peel and balsa wood on the nose. Next, dried orange peel, caramel, dried fig, and ginger flavors came through elegantly on the palate.

The Trinidad one titled "The Guardians" is a 8 year old offering that spent 6 years on the island before spending 2 years maturing in the UK in used Bourbon barrels. The rum was distilled from a molasses-based washed on a column still at Trinidad Distillers Limited, and it was bottled at cask strength at 67.9% ABV. The name reflects the island legend of the River Mother and Forest Father who protect the environment. In a Glencairn glass, I got caramel, toffee, wood, and dried fruit akin to date on the nose, and after the addition of a few drops of water gained an apricot note. Next, caramel, wood spice, butterscotch, root beer, dried orange peel, and lemon came through on the palate.

The Guyana one entitled "Moongazer" is a 9 year old rum that spent most of that time in the UK instead of South America. The part that I was excited about is that this molasses-based wash was distilled in a wooden Versailles pot still. The rum has added caramel color as is traditional with many of the aged Demerara-style rums coming out of the Diamond Distillery (added at the distillery to the rum going into the barrel), and its proof was cut from cask strength of 62.7% ABV to 57.5% for bottling. The name reflects the local legend of a giant that roams the shoreline while gazing at the moon. In a Glencairn glass, I picked up cherry wood and cedar on the nose. Next, caramel, chocolate, and dried cherry fruit came through on the palate.

The final offering was the FTG Blend (with the 'F' for the Four Square Distillery instead of a 'B' for Barbados) that blended the three single casks above to replicate a British Navy blend. The final breakdown was 58% Barbados, 38% Trinidad for spice, and 4% Guyana for finish that was bottled at 62.5% ABV. Unfortunately, my bottle had two back labels, so I was not able to get a photo of the more attractive front label. In a Glencairn glass, I got pine wood, orange peel, and straw aromas. Next, caramel, chocolate, cola, dried fig, and clove flavors came through on the palate. 

For more about the Raising glasses project, read here. For more about these rums and where to buy them, look here.

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

cut and paste

1 1/2 oz Clear Creek 8 Year Apple Brandy (Laird's Bonded)
3/4 oz Redbreast 12 Year Irish Whiskey (Redbreast Lustau Finish)
1/4 oz Honey Syrup (scant 1/2 oz 1:1)
3 dash Peychaud's Bitters
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into an old fashioned glass pre-rinsed with Vieux Pontarlier Absinthe (Kübler).
Two Tuesdays ago, I returned to Death & Co.'s second book, The Cocktail Codex, and uncovered the Cut and Paste created by Alex Day in 2012. Given that it read like an apple, Irish whiskey, and honey Sazerac variation, I was game. Once prepared, it donated a honey and anise aroma to the nose. Next, honey and malt on the sip flowed into apple, whiskey, anise, allspice, and clove flavors on the swallow.

Monday, December 5, 2022

obstructed vieux

1 oz Park VO Cognac (Pierre Ferrand 1840)
1/2 oz Hampden Estate 8 Year Rum (Smith & Cross)
3/4 oz Cynar
1/4 oz Benedictine
1/8 oz Maraschino (1/2 bsp Luxardo) (*)
4 dash Angostura Bitters

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with a lemon twist.
(*) Rumdood wrote confusingly wrote "1/8th tsp Maraschino" which seemed like an odd measure. Since 1/8 oz and 1 tsp are close, perhaps that is what he meant.
On a Vieux Carré riff on the blog, Matt Robold a/k/a Rumdood commented that he had a rum-brandy variation that he had been tinkering with and shared his recipe. The drink he dubbed the Obstructed Vieux in my hands gave forth a lemon, caramel, and rum funk aroma. Next, caramel notes on the sip peeked into Cognac, funky rum, herbal, nutty cherry, and clove flavors on the swallow.

Sunday, December 4, 2022


1 oz Cynar
1 oz Lustau Amontillado Sherry
1 oz Dolin Dry Vermouth (Noilly Prat)

Stir with ice, strain into a rocks glass with ice, and garnish with an orange twist.
Two Sundays ago, I uncovered a recipe that I had scribbled down from Backbar's bird menu called the Blackbird. The subtitle on the menu was, "let this dark, bold Negroni sing you a lullaby." Once prepared, the Blackbird rustled up an orange and nutty sherry aroma. Next, a caramel and grape sip flew into a nutty and herbal swallow.

Saturday, December 3, 2022

the peripheral

1 oz Bols Genever (Bols Barrel-Aged)
1 oz Cocchi Sweet Vermouth
1 oz Amaro Nonino
1 Whole Egg

Shake once without ice and once with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with 2 spritzes Angostura Bitters (3 drops).
Two Saturdays ago, I returned to the Cure: New Orleans Drinks and How to Mix'Em book and came across Turk Dietrich's the Peripheral. Turk described how his Genever Negroni riff ended up tasting better as a Flip. Here, the Peripheral greeted the senses with a clove, malt, and chocolate-caramel aroma. Next, a creamy grape sip plugged into a malty, herbal, and orange swallow.

Friday, December 2, 2022

the vetruvian man

1 oz Monkey Shoulder Scotch (Cutty Sark Prohibition)
1 oz Salers Gentian Liqueur (Suze)
1 oz Amaro Sfumato

Build in an old fashioned glass, add a large ice cube, stir to mix and chill, and garnish with a grapefruit twist.
After I got home from Portland Cocktail Week, I was in need of a nightcap after all that airplane and airport time. During my trip, Bourbon+ magazine had reached out for a photo for a drink of mine that they were featuring, so I began to peruse their issues. There, I spotted the Vetruvian Man by Dakin Pollard at Seattle's The Walrus and the Carpenter. This drink named after a Leonardo da Vinci drawing began with a grapefruit, roast, and herbal aroma. Next, caramel and roast notes on the sip led into Scotch, gentian, smoky, and bitter flavors on the swallow.

Thursday, December 1, 2022

copley plaza

1 1/2 oz Park VS Cognac
3/4 oz Dubonnet Rouge
3/4 oz Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail coupe.
After the Death & Co. takeover at Deadshot and the Bourbon Disco event at Hey Love! hosted by Bardstown Bourbon two Thursdays ago at Portland Cocktail Week, I headed back towards the hotel on the other side of the Willamette River. Not wanting my Portland experience to end so soon, I stopped into Teardrop Lounge for a nightcap and for a second visit that week. I was greeted by bartender Amy who remembered my name, and I asked her for the curiously dubbed Copley Plaza subtitled "subtly austere; a refined, thoughtful jaunt." I was unable to find a reference to an older drink called this, so perhaps it was the bar's tribute to the 110 year old Long Oak Bar at the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel here in Boston. Once prepared, the Copley Plaza began with an orange and Cognac aroma. Next, the Dubonnet's grape notes filled the sip, and the swallow rounded things off with brandy, caramel, and orange flavors.