Tuesday, January 31, 2023


2 oz Mezcal (Fidencio)
1/2 oz Crème de Cacao (Tempus Fugit)
1/4 oz Amaro Sfumato
2 dash Chocolate Bitters (Bitter Truth)
2 dash Orange Bitters (Angostura Orange)

Build in an old fashioned glass, add ice, stir to mix and chill, and garnish with a grapefruit twist.
Two Tuesdays ago, I was perusing the Bartender's Choice app when I came across the Maravilla created by José Cardenas of Raines Law Room in 2017. The drink named after the Spanish word for "marigold" was inspired by the African Flower at Little Branch (which I ended up making two days later); however, the combination of agave, cacao, and rabarbaro reminded me of Misty Kalkofen's Low Rider at Brick & Mortar. In the glass, the Maravilla showcased bright grapefruit oils over roasty darker aromas. Next, the roast notes continued on into the sip where they were chased by vegetal, smoke, chocolate, and bitter flavors on the swallow.

Friday, January 27, 2023

lupe velez

2 oz Convite Mezcal
3/4 oz Honey-Hibiscus Syrup (*)
3/4 oz Lime Juice
1/4 oz Honey Syrup
2 dash Dr. Sours Manganero Bitters (sub other spicy bitters or a little hot sauce)

Shake with ice, strain into a glass, and garnish with a sprinkling of chili powder.
(*) A strong 4 minute steep of hibiscus flowers in boiling water. Strain into an equal volume of raw honey, and stir until integrated.
For my two shifts at the Convite Mezcal bar, I needed to proffer two recipes to serve that utilized more market ingredients than liqueurs. I took that as a challenge to not use any liqueurs (although I opted for them in on-the-fly requests the second night). For one of them, I selected the mezcal version of the Gilded Paloma; this was a recipe that I crafted on the fly at Drink as a Paloma variation that was a mashup with Death & Co.'s Gilda (tequila, pineapple, lime, and cinnamon). For the other, I was inspired by two Milk & Honey family recipes: the Red Grasshopper at the Everleigh with tequila, lime, honey, and garnish cayenne powder, and the Dahlia's Revenge at the Varnish with mezcal, lemon, honey, and garnish cayenne powder (via a podcast and not the Unvarnished book). I figured that I could opt for mezcal and lime which had not been tried in those drinks and split the honey with another ingredient that I spotted at the market akin to the honey-ginger of the Penicillin. That ingredient was hibiscus flower that they call Jamaica that would add an elegant berry-floral note and a beautiful red hue. Its slightly drying nature required me to add an additional bit of regular honey syrup for balance (see above for syrup instructions). The mix seemed a bit flat, so I opted for something spicy – namely a semi-local (Mexico City) bitters company's mango, habañero, and tamarind bitters – as inspired by the spice element in the similar in structure Mexican Razor Blade. I was in a bind for a name, I decided to recycle the Lupe Velez from the 1934 edition of Boothby; that drink is better know as the Kingston Heights anyways.

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

:: as a beginner bartender, how can i be less nervous? ::

When Dr. Jorge Vera of Convite Mezcal asked the audience if there were any questions following my talk, one person spoke up and asked, “I am just a beginner in the world of bartending, so how can I control the nervousness?” To which I replied the following:

There are many ways. One is to learn to own the space – this is your bar. When you are a server, the guests rent the table in a way, and you are approaching their domain. If they choose to sit at the bar, it’s your bar. You own this bar, and you take pride in it. When there is a problem in a restaurant, servers will often run away, and bartenders often will not. I can act fifty pounds heavier and confront the problem.

Other things you can do are go out and experience a bar – another bar – and see how every interaction makes you feel. Like when the lights are too bright, the music is too soft or too loud, the bartender doesn’t give you water, the bartender doesn’t get you a drink fast and instead talks to their friends. How does that make you feel because that is the way your guests may feel. Now you know. You’re going to make a lot of mistakes, but seeing other people make mistakes and learning from it will aid you.

It’s not about being perfect but being aware, being mindful of what you’re not doing right. And asking a mentor, an older bartender “What do I do?” I remember I had one coworker who was a great mentor. When you say that you have a problem or a bad shift, some bartenders will just say, “That sucks.” Instead, this bartender explained what I ought to do in those situations and these are things that have worked for them.
When I first started bartending, all of the guests knew I was new, I was vulnerable, I was fresh meat in the water for the sharks. Some made it a game of making fun of you, and being mean, and eventually you learn tricks. You’ll learn your own tricks. One is to have more energy than them – be animated, have a smile, seem like you want to be there, that you care about them, and very few people will give you a hard time for they do not want to lose that energy. Also being able to conjure that angry parent voice… You control the candy. They will be like, “I don’t want to hear that voice from him again.” Learn to conjure it and then bring it back to normal to see how they react. If they continue pushing you, then just say, “No más!”

There are other ways if a person is giving you a hard time or you just don’t like that type of person. Sometimes you are working with another bartender who can deal with people that make you uncomfortable or angry and they will handle it, and there are people where I love that challenge and I’ll switch with them to the other side of the bar and I’ll make their life easier.

This is a career and you’ll get better if you want to get better. Find books, find podcasts, find teachers – they’re here. They will teach you. You either have to come to them or observe [them working]. When you see bartenders doing something right, steal from them. I remember I used to say “Hey guys, welcome to my bar” and ‘guys’ has a gender. And then I had guests that were transitioning and I became self-conscious about how that phrasing seemed very disrespectful. They’re not coming here to be judged or have any linguistic slight. So I stole from a bartender named Sother Teague. When you sit at his bar at Amor y Amargo in New York City, he says “Welcome friends!” So, “Amigos!” — well that has gender… oh crap! Amigxs with an ‘x’? Perhaps “Mi gente” since it doesn’t have a masculine or feminine aspect. So I stole that from – borrowed it, stole it without shame since I attribute that to him.
Know when you are lacking something, seek out the answer whether you ask or observe, you will find ways. Not all of the ways will work for you. And some will work better depending where you are working, who you are working with, and who is the guest. It will vary if you are working at a dive bar, a fancy cocktail bar, a casual restaurant, or a fine dining restaurant. You will acquire different tools, and the more diversified the tool kit, the better.

To reiterate, you’re going to spend hundreds of hours behind your bar, sometimes thousands. I actually did the math of how many hours I worked at different places. It’s your spot. You get there before the guests, you can wage a war of attrition and you’ll be there at the end. Take pride. Take ownership. And realize what you’re doing wrong. You don’t have to be perfect now. You only have to get better. Wonder what went wrong that night. I always beat myself up over it and get overthoughtful about what I did wrong.

You may be a bartender for a couple more months, and you may be a bartender for decades. Even if it’s not long term, getting better at the craft is applicable elsewhere. Once you become a good bartender, you become a good businessperson. You can then move on. The skill set is how to deal with people. True, you make drinks – it’s arts & crafts and it’s fun. Does it matter? Yes and no. I make great drinks – I hope, but people come back to me because I try to make them feel good, try to make them feel special, try to give them what I think they want. There are two concepts, the Golden Rule and the Platinum Rule. The former is “Do unto others as you would want to be done to yourself,” and the latter is “Do unto others as you think they would want to be treated.” What you want is not necessarily their need, but if you can figure out what their need is, you can do better for them.

Monday, January 23, 2023

:: mindful bartending, my master class at casa convite:

Below is the master class that I gave at Casa Convite for bartenders in Oaxaca on January 12th. It was on "Mindful Bartending" and bartender Jorge Vallejo from Chicago followed with "Mindful Menu Design" (and he translated my words and thoughts into Spanish).

Greetings, I am Fred Yarm and I was last at a bar called Drink in Boston where I was the general manager, bar manager, and bartender, and our bar was rather unique in that we were a cocktail bar without a drink menu. This required a lot of connection with the guest – we needed to start a conversation to get them the best drink possible, and I often made use of a concept called mindful bartending.

My interest in mindful bartending came from reading Gary Regan’s thoughts on the matter in his 2011 Annual Manual for Bartenders, which led me to attend his Cocktails in the Country retreat in 2015. Many of these thoughts either stemmed from his teachings or from what I learned through experience or through other resources afterwards.

In This Must be the Place: Memoirs of Jimmie the Barman, Jimmie who worked in the Mountparnasse section of Paris in the 1920s said, “Almost anyone can learn to mix drinks accurately and fast. That is the least of it. I have always believed success behind the bar comes from an ability to understand the man or woman I am serving, to enter into his joys or woes, make him feel the need of me as a person rather than a servant.”

Mindfulness is often associated with Buddhism, but one need not be a Buddhist to practice mindfulness. And it’s not a one size fits all, but is a way that is tailored to the individual and establishment and can change over time.

In a bartending sense, mindfulness means that you are aware of everything that is going on around you and focusing on all of your guests’ needs. It is not something that needs to be 100% perfect but it is worth striving for that.

Mindfulness of a bartender begins by leaving one’s personal problems at the door so that they can focus on the guests and set their intentions to be of service to them. Once that happens, it’s easier to be aware of what the guests want, what else is going on with their coworkers and what is happening in the whole restaurant.

Part of that preparation for the shift can come from some sort of meditation. Silence, loud music, or actual meditation can separate one from thoughts of life’s troubles. I have never personally taken it as far as proper meditation, but it was something Gary did. Lately, for me it was listening to podcasts while walking to the bar. Whatever can block out the conversations in your mind will work.

Intuition is an essential tool for the bartender that takes a lot of practice to hone in on. A bartender can sense when guests need something, when a guest should not be served any more, or when there is tension between two guests. Tricks to accomplish this include scanning the entire bar on a regular basis if not the entire restaurant. Observe the body language and vibes of the guests. Try to figure out why the guests are there, how much they want to be interrupted and by whom. An example of this was when I was first bartending at night, a senior bartender asked what I observed at the corner of the bar. I replied “An older man with a middle-aged woman.” He countered, “What else? … Look at their hands.” I then noticed, “He has a [wedding] ring and she does not.” My mentor explained, “Exactly. That is everything you need to know. They do not have names, do not want to be spoken to, and will be paying in cash (as opposed to a credit card that could be traceable).” He was right. Indeed, everything can be a clue.

Nobody goes to a bar for a drink. You can drink at home, but people go out to celebrate, meet other people, find romance, conduct business, or read. People will go out for a drink if they hear that the place has quality cocktails, but they will not return if that is all they get. The most important goal of a bartender's job is to make sure that every guest leaves the bar happier than when they walked in. Something Maya Angelou once said that has a lot of applicability to bartending, “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” 

Communication is also important, and listening is just as important as talking. Listen intently and make sure that the person who is talking is aware that they are heard. Guests respond very well when they realize that the bartender is focusing all of their attention on them. Communication with coworkers is also important because if you are mindful of their needs, they often gladly reciprocate when you are falling behind.
Communication is also important in terms of phrasing. Telling people that they ought to think about doing something often works better than telling them what they should do. People will be more receptive if the phrasing of the request is mindful. This even worked in a supervisory role where I brought to their attention an issue and asked that they consider changing certain behaviors instead of making demands. Moreover, asking for help also works well especially in getting one of their friends to correct a behavior.

Communication without anger is key. Take a moment, breath, observe, and practice mindfulness to proceed without reactivity. Figure out what is making you angry. Same with the guests and figure out what is driving them. Anger is based in fear and embarrassment. Reducing any fear such as confusion of what the guest ought to do in a situation works well if applied early. (At our menu-less bar, teaching the other bartenders on how to anticipate fear and embarrassment in the ordering process led to happier guests and fewer bad reviews online). Being pre-emptive in addressing these issues pays dividends.

Gary Regan declared that fear and love are key, and every other emotion is based on these two. Anger is based on being afraid; if you take away fear, you can take away the anger in a situation. You can count to ten and in that time figure out what you are afraid of. And when you get angry, it is really only affecting one person – you. Finally, mindfulness can change your reality. For example, if you pretend to like the people you really do not, those people will change the way they interact with you.

Another point is that it is important to stay humble.

Regardless of any accolades and accomplishments of a bartender, each guest is a new challenge that you need to prove yourself to them. True, prior experiences offer confidence, knowledge, and a depth of tools to make the next guest’s experience better and to make that moment matter. In my mind, it is the only moment that matters. No guest will be consoled that their mediocre (or worse) night out was handled by someone who on paper should have been above average.

During the beginning of the Pandemic, one of my quarantine reads was The Book of Ichigo Ichie: The Art of Making the Most of Every Moment, the Japanese Way. Ichigo ichie is a tenet of Zen Buddhism, and it is often used as a greeting or a goodbye. It conveys that the moment is unique, special, and once in a lifetime. In martial arts usage, it means that there is no “try again” in life-or-death moments, but in casual usage, it is a means to focus on the moment at hand for it will never happen again. That guest sitting at your bar will never have a first greeting, first cocktail, or first night sitting at your bar ever again. They will be celebrating that birthday, anniversary, or promotion only once. They may return, but that special moment has fled. The book quotes the Greek philosopher Heraclitus who declared, “No man ever steps into the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” Ichigo ichie will lead to greater satisfaction if one is not weighted down by the past or anxious about the future; if one can live fully in the present, the journey can be a unique and once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Subtle self-promotion does have its value especially in gaining the confidence in the guest, but this needs to be backed up with action eventually if not first. I am not without an ego for sure, but I try to put it on a back burner for most of my bar shifts unless the guest begins to inquire. Self-aggrandizing perhaps has its place to some extent in reassuring a guest as to why that moment is unique. Many have a curiosity as to why this interaction feels different and special, and they desire an explanation. Without prompting, that same story reveal is unnecessary and pretentious, and it could across as insecurity and seem like a way to make up for shortcomings by resting on laurels or worse – acts of fiction and delusion. Micah Solomon in The Heart of Hospitality: Great Hotel and Restaurant Leaders Share Their Secrets wrote, “The heart of hospitality, for me, is the ability to focus completely and totally on one person, even if only for a matter of seconds, yet long enough that you’ve got a clear connection, a channel between the two of you.” Working towards that connection is the goal with many ways of getting there.

In thinking about other bar mentors in the industry, I wondered what would legendary NYC barman Sasha Petraske say about all this [since he was a bit of an iconoclast]. In his Regarding Cocktails book, he instructed, “Do things not for applause or personal gain, but simply because it is the right way to do things.” Indeed, Sasha promoted the idea of hospitality over self-needs to choose the best path possible for the guest.

In returning to Gary Regan, he stressed to not underestimate your ability as a bartender or server to change the world one customer at a time. If you make one guest happy and they pass that on to other, and if you consider how many guests you see in a work shift, in a week, and in a year, it can make the world better.

Sunday, January 22, 2023

pippin flip

1 1/2 oz Applejack (Laird's Bonded)
1/2 oz Amaro CioCiaro
3/4 oz Grenadine
1 Whole Egg

Shake one round without ice and one round with ice, strain into a glass, and garnish with freshly grated cinnamon.
Two Sundays ago, I was perusing the Bartender's Choice app when I saw a dessert drink called the Pippin Flip that sounded delightful. This creation by Juyoung Kang at the Dorsey in Las Vegas circa 2018 reminded me of Misty Kalkofen's Fort Washington Flip given the structure of apple brandy, whole egg, a syrup, and a liqueur. Here, instead of maple and Benedictine, it was grenadine and Amaro CioCiaro which is a bit like Amer Picon. That combination of grenadine and bitter orange liqueur can be seen in the Basque-derived Picon Punch, and Trader Vic utilized that combination in recipes like the Jayco. Moreover, it is one that I opted for in my French variation of the Ward 8 that I dubbed the 8th Arrondissement. In the glass, the Pippin Flip conjured up cinnamon and apple aromas to the nose. Next, a creamy pomegranate sip switched into apple and bitter orange-berry flavors on the swallow.

Saturday, January 21, 2023

monte carlo

2 part Rye Whiskey (2 1/2 oz Old Overholt 86°)
1 part Benedictine (1/2 oz)
(1/8 oz Demerara Syrup)
1-2 dash Angostura Bitters (1 dash)

Stir with ice and strain into a glass. I served it in an old fashioned glass with a large ice cube and a lemon twist.

One of the many Old Fashioned riffs that I served at Drink was the Monte Carlo and variations thereof; despite having posted the tequila riff called the Monte Carlos, mashups with it such as the Call of the Wild, and a Cognac-Madeira recipe by that name, I have never posted the classic on the blog. Therefore, I turned to David Embury's 1948 The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks to review the original drink spec. Embury with a notoriously dry palate strangely proffered this sweet recipe in his tome. He agreed that it ought to be shifted from 2 parts rye whiskey to 4-5 parts and even suggested adding lemon juice to push it further. I opted for the 5:1 ratio that I did for my Monte Carlo offerings at work, and I stuck with one dash of Angostura Bitters because a heavy hand will mask the beauty of the liqueur to my palate. In addition, I felt that the combination needed some body, so I tasked a barspoon of 1:1 Demerara syrup to donate a pleasing mouthfeel. For complexity, I would split that 2 1/2 oz rye whiskey with apple brandy (1 3/4 oz rye, 3/4 oz Laird's Bonded) or with Cognac (2 oz rye, 1/2 oz Pierre Ferrand Ambre) to make it two steps removed from a classic Old Fashioned. Moreover, it taught guests that fruit flavors such as apple and grape did not have to be sweet.
Built without the brandy addition, it donated a lemon and rye bouquet to the nose. Next, caramel from the Benedictine on the sip slid into rye, herbal, minty, and clove flavors on the swallow.

Friday, January 20, 2023

prospect park sour

2 oz Rittenhouse Rye
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Orange Juice
1/4 oz Maple Syrup
1/4 oz Luxardo Amaro Abano

Shake with ice, strain into a Sour glass (coupe), and garnish with an orange twist.
Two Fridays ago, I pulled my copy of Carey Jones' Brooklyn Bartender off the shelf to see if there was a glossed-over gem. There, I uncovered the Prospect Park Sour by Brian Farran at Clover Club that utilized a more recent addition to my liquor shelves, Amaro Abano, which is why I had not made it before. Overall, its structure reminded me of a Ward 8 with maple-Abano in place of the classic's grenadine moreso than Eastern Standard's similarly named Prospect Park. Once prepared, it donated an orange oil over caramel-maple aroma to the nose. Next, caramel and citrus notes on the sip gave way to rye, maple, and herbal flavors on the swallow with a lemon and pine finish.

Thursday, January 19, 2023

the cachaça drink at lullaby

1 oz Amburana-aged Cachaça (Salinas)
1/2 oz Cognac (Pierre Ferrand 1840)
3/4 oz Sweet Vermouth (Cocchi)
1/4 oz Luxardo Maraschino
1/2 tsp Benedictine
4 dash Aquavit (1/8 oz Linie)
1 dash Orinoco Bitters (Bitter Cube Jamaica #2)
3 drop Saline Solution (1 pinch Salt)

Stir with ice, strain into a Nick & Nora glass, and garnish with 3 skewered membrillo cubes (omit).
Two Thursdays ago, I came across a recipe on Spirited from the Lullaby Bar in New York City called The Cachaça Drink. The cocktail was created by co-owner Harrison Snow; I met and wrote about Harrison right before the Pandemic when he was running Wit's End in Cambridge, and it reflects the drink build style he showed in the It's a Long, Long Way. Here, he was inspired by Amburana barrel-aged cachaça which called out to him to be stirred in an up fashion. Once prepared, The Cachaça Drink proffered mostly a grassy aroma given that I omitted the quince paste cubes as garnish. Next, a caramel and grape sip flowed into funky, grassy, nutty cherry, and spice flavors on the swallow.

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

two gents

1 1/2 oz Rye Whiskey (Rittenhouse)
3/4 oz Cynar
3/4 oz Amaro CioCiaro
3 dash Bitters (Angostura)

Stir with ice, strain into a double old fashioned glass with a large ice cube, and garnish with an orange twist.
Two Wednesdays ago, my new bottle of Amaro CioCiaro caught my eye, and I sought out a recipe to use it on ShakeStir's drink database. There, I spied the Two Gents from Caitlin Pfeiffer in Los Angeles in 2014; I recognized the name for the following year, I attended Camp Runamok (a/k/a Bourbon camp for bartenders) with her in Kentucky. Since Amaro CioCiaro is in the ballpark of Amer Picon, perhaps this would be similar to Ran Duan's Rock Beats Scissors at the Baldwin Bar and possibly the Bonsoir with a different aged spirit at Craigie on Main. Here, the Two Gents welcomed the nose with orange and caramel aromas. Next, caramel with orange notes on the sip led into rye, funky vegetal, caramel, orange, and clove flavors on the swallow.

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

a gentleman in old mexico

1 oz Ransom Old Tom Gin
1 oz Mezcal (Fidencio)
1/2 oz Averna
1/2 oz Cynar
1/4 oz Benedictine
1/4 oz Campari
2 dash Orange Bitters (Angostura Orange)
2 dash Mole Bitters (Bitter Truth)

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with a flamed orange twist (unflamed).
For a drink two Tuesday ago, I searched in Kindred Cocktails and uncovered A Gentleman in Old Mexico created by Colton Richarson at the Stolen Glass Saloon in Strongville, Ohio, circa 2022. The combination of mezcal and gin was one I was introduced to in Beta Cocktails with Nicholas Jarrett's Black Cat. Moreover, the only other two recipes that I have experienced it in have been the Crimson & Clover and White Mezcal Negroni. Here, it was a Black Manhattan of sorts utilizing four different herbal liqueurs. Once prepared, it donated an orange, vegetal, and smoke aroma. Next, a caramel-driven sip strolled into vegetal, herbal, and smoke flavors on the swallow.

Monday, January 16, 2023

away colors

2 oz Añejo Rum (Privateer New England Reserve)
1/2 oz Banana Liqueur (Tempus Fugit)
1/2 oz Fernet Branca

Build in an old fashioned glass, add ice, stir to mix and chill, and garnish with an orange twist.
Two Mondays ago, I was in need of Fernet Branca to settle the stomach, and I sought out a recipe in the Bartender's Choice app. There, I came upon the Away Colors created by Zachary Gelnaw-Rubin at Lion Lion circa 2018. While the name made me think of the little colored dot on certain apps and websites to indicate if an user is logged in or away, the more common usage is the second uniform in sporting matchups utilized by the visiting team when the jerseys of the two teams are too close in color. In the recipe, the combination of crème de banane and Fernet first made me think of the Banana Toronto that I had at Offsuit and later of drinks like the Lost Horizon and San Francisco Treat. The bitter tropical note that the duo generates entered into a few creations of mine including the Hanky Panky riff Monkey Business and the Kingston Negroni-inspired Kingston Watusi. Once prepared, the Away Colors donated an orange, caramel, and banana aroma. Next, caramel and a hint of tropical on the sip changed into rum, minty, menthol, and banana flavors on the swallow.

Sunday, January 15, 2023

bellshire old fashioned

1 oz Cognac (Pierre Ferrand 1840)
1 oz Rye Whiskey (Rittenhouse)
1 bsp Benedictine
1 bsp 3:1 Honey Syrup (1/4 oz 1:1)
2 dash Peychaud's Bitters
1 dash Absinthe (8 drop Copper & Kings)

Build in an old fashioned glass, add ice, stir to mix and chill, and garnish with a lemon twist.
Two Mondays ago, I returned to the Bartender's Choice app and uncovered the Bellshire Old Fashioned created by Mitchell Taylor at Nashville's Attaboy in 2018. The recipe was Mitchell's mashup of the Beekeepeer Sazerac riff with the Monte Carlo from David Embury's 1948 book with Cognac entering to the equation as well. In the glass, the Bellshire Old Fashioned proffered up a lemon, honey, and Cognac aroma. Next, honey and caramel notes on the sip converted into rye, Cognac, herbal, and anise flavors on the swallow.

Saturday, January 14, 2023

new york in the seventies

1 oz Old Overholt Rye (86°)
1/2 oz Smith & Cross Rum
1/2 oz Laphroaig Scotch
1/4 oz 2:1 Demerara Syrup (3/8 oz 1:1)
2 dash Angostura Bitters

Stir with ice. Add a scant 1/4 oz Green Chartreuse to a double old fashioned glass along with a lemon twist and an orange twist, ignite the Chartreuse, and swirl to singe the peels and warm the glass. Strain the chilled drink to extinguish the flame.
As mentioned a few posts ago, the drink that inspired the Berlin in 70s at Cure was Paks Pazuniak's New York in the Seventies. Makz served this in 2011 at his Something Like This night at the Counting Room in Brooklyn, and it was published in the Jupiter Disco: Preservation zine in 2021. Below the printed recipe was Maks' lament about how the fire aspect made this drink enviable across the room, and soon the odds were not in his favor as he eventually ended up with broken glass and burnt Chartreuse on the bar top. Luckily, my glass survived the light show and yielded warmth, smoke, and whiskey aromas. Next, caramel notes on the sip led into whiskey, funky rum, smoke, and Green Chartreuse's herbal flavors on the swallow with an allspice finish.

Friday, January 13, 2023

final cut

1 1/2 oz Pikesville Rye (Rittenhouse)
1/2 oz Booker's Bourbon
1 tsp Campari
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
3/4 oz Raspberry Syrup

Shake with ice, strain into a double old fashioned glass with a large ice cube, and float 1 tsp Hamilton's Jamaican Pot Still Gold Rum (Smith & Cross).
Two Fridays ago, I selected Death & Co.'s Welcome Home book for the evening's recipe where I was lured in by Tyson Buhler's 2016 Final Cut. Overall, the combination reminded me of the Whippersnapper with the whiskey and raspberry Sour concept, but here with overproof spirits and accents of bitter Campari and funky rum. Indeed, the raspberry-Campari combination reminded me of the Turn Signal, the Palazzo (Russell House Tavern's Campari Week 2014 offering provided in the previous link), and the Negroni-Clover club mashup the Negroni Club. In the glass, the Final Cut spoke out with a funky rum aroma. Next, a lemon and berry sip stepped into whiskey and bitter raspberry flavors on the swallow.

Thursday, January 12, 2023

pop gun

1 1/2 oz Calvados (Morin Selection)
1/2 oz Islay Scotch (Laphroaig 10 Year)
1/2 oz Coffee Liqueur (Kahlua)
2 dash Orange Bitters (Angostura Orange)

Build in an old fashioned glass, add ice, stir to mix and chill, and garnish with an orange twist.
Two Thursdays ago, I opened up the Bartender's Choice app and spotted the Pop Gun as a nightcap idea. The recipe was crafted by Zachary Gelnaw-Rubin at Lion Lion in 2018 as an apple-Scotch riff on the Revolver. Once prepared, it shot forth with orange oil over coffee, apple, whisky, and smoke aromas. Next a roast-driven sip landed upon apple, coffee, and smoke flavors on the swallow. Overall, it yielded a pleasing fruity and smoky variation on the classic.

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

unicorn fizz

1 1/2 oz Hayman's Old Tom Gin
1/2 oz St. Germain
1/2 oz Amaro Nonino
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Lime Juice
3/4 oz Simple Syrup
3/4 oz Heavy Cream
1 Egg White

Shake one round without ice and on round with ice, strain into a Highball glass with 2 oz soda water, and garnish with a long, thin orange twist.

Two Wednesdays ago, Andrea and I ventured down to Backbar for Rachel Kopelman's last night, and she was joined by alumni Kat Lamp for moral support. On Rachel's "Final 50" cocktail list, besides many classics and some of her own creations were a few of Kat's. While I opted for a Sidecar since I had been hankering for one after hearing the episode on that drink on the Cocktail College podcast, Andrea selected the Unicorn Fizz which lacked a description (although the name reminded me of this one). It ended up being a Ramos riff akin to the Sureau Fizz but with St. Germain and Amaro Nonino as modifiers. When I asked Kat for a back story, she provided that it was a drink of the day, and it became a prank between her and bar manager Sam Treadway since it appeared on a few menus with a different set of ingredients each time. She said that this was the original way that it was concocted though.
The Unicorn Fizz welcomed the nose with an orange-herbal aroma. Next, a creamy citrus sip flowed into caramel and floral flavors on the swallow.

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

shade thrower

2 oz Bourbon (Evan Williams Bonded)
1/2 oz Averna
1/2 oz Sweet Vermouth (Cocchi)
1/4 oz Aperol
2 dash Angostura Bitters

Stir with ice, strain into an old fashioned glass with a large ice cube, and garnish with an orange twist.
Two Tuesdays ago, I received the January/February 2023 issue of Imbibe Magazine in the mail that contained the Shade Thrower by Freddy Schwenk at Geist in Nashville. The combination reminded me of an Aperol-tinged Rhythm & Soul as well as a Finishing School with Aperol instead of Campari. Once prepared, the Shade Thrower gave forth an orange, Bourbon, and caramel aroma. Next, grape and caramel notes mingled on the sip, and that was followed by Bourbon, orange, and herbal flavors on the swallow.

Monday, January 9, 2023

berlin in the 70s

1 oz Mezcal (Fidencio)
1 oz Blanco Tequila (Avion)
1 oz Orange Juice
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Cinnamon Syrup

Shake with ice, strain into a double old fashioned glass full of ice, and garnish with an orange slice accented with 7 drop Fee's Old Fashioned Bitters (Fee's Whiskey Barrel-Aged).
For a drink two Mondays ago, I returned to Cure: New Orleans Drinks and How to Mix ’Em and spotted Berlin in the 70s. The recipe was attributed to bartender Billy Dollard who was inspired by Cure bartender Maks Pazuniak who was tinkering with a recipe that he was calling New York in the Seventies (that recipe will post here in 5 more days) right before he was leaving for New York City. Billy named his drink after a group of Germans who ordered shots of tequila and mezcal with cinnamon-dusted orange wedges as chasers. I was introduced to this phenomenon in 2009 by John Gertsen at Drink, and it too inspired me to create a recipe soon after using that combination dubbed Peniques. Once shaken and strained, Berlin in the 70s welcomed the nose with a cinnamon bouquet. Next, orange and lemon notes on the sip progressed into smoky agave and cinnamon flavors on the swallow.

Sunday, January 8, 2023

cab calloway

1 1/2 oz Oloroso Sherry (Lustau)
1/2 oz Rye Whiskey (Rittenhouse)
1/4 oz Apricot Liqueur (Rothman & Winter)
1/4 oz Dry Vermouth (Noilly Prat)
2 dash Angostura Bitters
2 dash Orange Bitters (Angostura Orange)

Stir with ice, strain into a rocks glass with ice, and garnish with a lemon twist. On Instagram, the drink creator recommended, "Be sure to play some of Cab's Music as you sip. It makes it taste better."
On Christmas Day, I was in a need of an aperitif before we set off to have a large dinner at a friends' house. Within my new purchase of Robert O. Simonson's Modern Classic Cocktails, I had spotted the sherry-based Cab Calloway created by Tiffanie Barriere during her time at Atlanta's airport bar One Flew South. She named it after the "famed and flamboyant bandleader from the early twentieth century." The oxidized sherry and apricot duo here reminded me of Joaquin Simo's Flor de Jerez, so I was game. Once prepared, the Cab Calloway orchestrated a lemon oil over rich, nutty sherry aroma. Next, grape with a hint of fruit on the sip flowed into nutty sherry, rye, and apricot flavors on the swallow with an allspice and orange finish.

Saturday, January 7, 2023


2 oz Gin (Tamworth Garden White Mountain)
1/2 oz Fino Sherry (Tio Pepe)
1/2 oz Yellow Chartreuse
1 dash Orange Bitters (Angostura Orange)

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with a lemon twist.
Two Saturdays ago, I was perusing the Bartender's Choice app for a cocktail to wrap up the evening. There, I spied the Anchorage that was Sam Ross' 2017 riff at Attaboy on the Alaska. It reminded me of the dry vermouth instead of Fino sherry Puritan Cocktail that has been my go-to Alaska riff; both recipes dry out the liqueur's effect as well as put it in check slightly. One prepared, the Anchorage migrated to the nose with lemon, juniper, and herbal aromas. Next, crisp white wine notes balanced by a honey-tinged sweetness on the sip led into gin and mint-herbal flavors on the swallow with an orange peel finish.

Friday, January 6, 2023

dahlia's revenge

2 oz Mezcal (Fidencio)
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
3/4 oz Honey Syrup

Shake with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with a light dusting of cayenne chili powder.

Two Fridays ago, I was listening to an episode of the Cocktail College podcast on the Clover Club, and host Tim McKirdy mentioned that he went to the Varnish in Los Angeles, and he was served the Dahlia's Revenge with the explanation that it was one of Eric Alperin's favorite drinks. When I heard the recipe, it reminded me of the Red Grasshopper with mezcal and lemon instead of tequila and lime (I learned of the recipe from his book Unvarnished). Moreover, it made sense when I recalled how Eric Alperin took a liking to the Genever-simple syrup Holland Razor Blade from Charles H. Baker Jr. circa 2009, and he gave it new life akin to Murray Stenson and the Last Word.
The Dahlia's Revenge proffered a smokey, vegetal, and red pepper aroma. Next, honey and lemon on the sip retaliated with smoky mezcal and spice on the swallow.

Thursday, January 5, 2023

under the kilt

1 oz Blended Scotch (Cutty Sark Prohibition)
3/4 oz Laird's Applejack (Laird's Bonded)
1/2 oz Walnut Liqueur (Russo Nocino)
4 drop Lemon Bitters (1 dash Berg & Hauck)

Stir with ice, strain into an absinthe-rinsed old fashioned glass, and garnish with lemon oil from a twist.
Two Thursdays ago, I spied a curious Sazerac riff called Under the Kilt on the Kindred Cocktails database. The recipe was created by Adam Bagby in 2013 at Copper Common in Salt Lake City, and the combination of Scotch and walnut liqueur reminded me of Damon Boelte's Storm King. Once built, it gave forth a lemon and anise aroma. Next, rich notes from the walnut liqueur and malty Scotch on the sip were chased by smoky Scotch, apple, and walnut flavors on the swallow.

Wednesday, January 4, 2023


2 oz Gin (Beefeater)
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1 heaping bsp Raspberry Preserves (Spencer Trappist)
(3/8 oz Simple Syrup for balance)

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail coupe.
I had mentioned the Cosmonaut that I had spotted in Steve the Bartender's Cocktail Guide, and Andrea picked up a raspberry preserves when she went shopping two Wednesdays ago. Therefore, I turned to Sasha Petraske's Regarding Cocktails where I had first learned of the recipe. This was one of Sasha's creations circa 2004 at Milk & Honey that was named as a jab at the popularity of the Cosmopolitan. Sasha most likely modeled the recipe after the Marmalade Cocktail in the 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book. Overall, the concept felt like an egg-free Clover Club, so I gave it a go. When I built it in the shaker tin, it was awfully tart so I added simple syrup until it was in the ballpark of acceptable for my palate. Similarly, Difford's Guide recommends three spoons of raspberry jam and warns "don't scrimp on the quality or amount of raspberry jam used." In the glass, it launched to the nose with raspberry and juniper-pine aromas. Next, lemon with red berry notes on the sip cruised into gin and tart raspberry flavors on the swallow.

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

.38 special

2 3/8 oz Blended Scotch (Famous Grouse)
3/8 oz Yellow Chartreuse
3/8 oz Amaro CioCiaro

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with a lemon twist.
Two Tuesdays ago, I splurged on a bottle of Amaro CioCiaro after seeing several New York City recipes that call for it; I had held off since I own Amer Picon and Torani Amer, and I had always thought that CioCiaro was only used as a substitute for Picon. The price was right, so I bought one to test it out. The recipe that I started with was the .38 Special from Sasha Petraske's Regarding Cocktails. Michael Madrusan crafted this at Little Branch in 2007, and he described how Sasha fought him on the name for it sounded too violent. Michael countered that it had relevance due to the recipe measurements and was no more violent than the French 75. About a month later, Sasha came around on the name. Once prepared, it shot forth with a lemon, Scotch, and herbal aroma. Next, caramel and honey notes on the sip loaded up a Scotch, caramel, herbal, and orange swallow.

Monday, January 2, 2023

halls of power

1 1/2 oz Wild Turkey 101° Rye (Rittenhouse)
1/2 oz Cynar
1/3 oz Sweet Vermouth (Cocchi)
1/3 oz Benedictine
1/3 oz Scotch (Cutty Sark Prohibition)

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail coupe.
Two Mondays ago, an interesting recipe was posted on Kindred Cocktails by Travis Bickel who I follow on Instagram as Cocktails.At.3. The recipe was the Halls of Power that had the rye whiskey modified by the Cynar-Benedictine duo seen in the the Filthy Rich and Death on the Installment Plan. In the glass, it provided a rye and herbal bouquet to the nose. Next, grape and caramel notes on the sip flowed into rye, herbal, and Scotch flavors on the swallow with a vegetal and smoke finish.

Sunday, January 1, 2023

:: fred's picks for the top cocktails of 2022 ::

At the end of 2010, someone asked what my favorite drink of the year was, and I lacked an answer at first 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, as I found myself going out less due to my work schedule and other factors, I cut it down to one post a few years ago. Each month here was selected for when the drink post appeared and not when it was enjoyed (unlike my real time Instagram account, I have a two week delay here before it goes live to give myself an ample window to write). Without further ado, here is the thirteenth annual installment of my best drinks for the year with a runner up or two listed.

January: The theme for the month is love, and both of these recipes saw some action getting remixed at Drink this past year. For a winner, Love & Murder as Nicholas Bennett's oddball Chartreuse-Campari Daiquiri of sorts at Porchlight in New York City named after a Broadway play. For a runner up, Death & Co.'s Clover Club riff, Love Bug by Sam Penton, took things in an agave and pineapple direction that was a crowd pleaser.

February: The theme here seems to be Manhattan riffs, and they were rather close. I guess for a winner, The End is Nigh communicated by Cure's Neal Bodenheimer in Lift Your Spirits had a great bitter backbone of Amaro Sibilla to bolster the Bonal. I did get a lot of traction at work from the Little Italy-esque Last American Hero that I sourced on Reddit's cocktail forum from an user I only know by their handle 1000YearOldStreet.
March: Both of March's drinks got a bit of play at Drink this year. When a guest asked for a Holland Razor Blade, I knew how to make one but had never made one before; researching that drink from Charles H. Baker's adventures led me to the NYC update called the Mexican Razor Blade that swapped the Genever for tequila or mezcal and added in some vegetal touches. For a runner up, I enjoyed the Knight from David Embury as his Sidecar with Chartreuse that turned out to work superbly with other spirits besides Cognac.

April: April was the first challenging month, but I decided upon Kelsey Chase's Ground Control to Major Tom on Backbar's space-themed menu. For runners up were two NYC drinks: Joaquin Simo's Charming Man at Pouring Ribbons akin to a mezcal Negroni and Al Sotack's Dial 'M' at Death & Co. that got me thinking about maple syrup (see yesterday's year end wrap up).
May: May was also a difficult choice, but I narrowed it down to the theme of Boston drinks. I gave the top nod to the one that I had where it was invented, namely Brian Callahan's Smoking Section at Coquette that utilized an elegant and complex Armagnac that I went out and purchased for home. The other two were Ryan Lotz's Fernet Flip at the Hawthorne that mollified the Fernet with two other herbal liqueurs and The Accent created at Backbar and influenced by a Ran Duan drink at the Baldwin Bar.

June: I rather enjoyed the London recipe Mind Maps created by Will Meredith at Lyaness and based off notes he found in certain blended Scotches. For runner up, I went old school with Robert Vermeire's Yellow Parrot; I had a collection of Drink regulars who came to me for absinthe-laden drinks, and this was a great one I pulled out from 1922 that held up. Moreover, for name alone, I need to acknowledge the Pineapple Death Squad.
July: With my mint patch at its peak and with my copy of The Bartender's Manifesto in hand, I selected the tropical-Scotch mint Julep Riki Tiki Tavi for July. The runner up was Tom Richter's Post Modern given the fascination with sloe gin at Drink (regulars requested the Charlie Chaplin all the time) and my interest in the Modern and Ted Haigh's sloe gin-free riff the Modernista this past year.

August: Despite it being rather warm, I opted for a dark spirits stirred number called The Upstart by Jim Betz at Eleven Madison Park since dark rum, rye, sherry, and Cynar can do no wrong. For a runner up, Jon Mateer's The African Queen at TPC Sawgrass in St. Augusteen was a complex and herbal Old Fashioned; it reminded me of Death & Co. recipes from their new book; during my trip to Ireland, Jon was one of the fellow bartenders on the adventure, and I learned that he had spent some time at one of the Death & Co. outposts.
September: The Brown Bittered Stirred read as an orange-tinged Little Italy, and this recipe from Jason Schiffer at 320 Main did not disappoint. Also getting a nod for the month was Backbar's Hummingbird off of their bird-themed menu with its chocolate-floral notes on top of a funky rum Daiquiri.

October: The Roaring 50s from Declan McGuirk at the American Bar in London was an elegant stirred tequila drink. For runners up, I went with two older Drink recipes: John Gertsen's Caesar Cardini now on the menu at the Wig Shop, and the Andrew Square bitter Manhattan variation that I found in the "Drinks of Drink" notebook.
November: For top honors this month, I opted for the Dark in the Corner by Turk Dietrich from the new Cure: New Orleans Drinks and How to Mix'Em book as a Cognac nightcap. For honorary nods, two drinks from Portland need to be mentioned: the mezcal-based In Absentia at Teardrop Lounge and the rum-mezcal Vieux Carre Piano Hands by Mike Treffehn at Rum Bar.

December: Another challenging month, but the smoky whisky nightcap with an orange finish of Coffee & Cigarettes by Chad Austin was quite enjoyable. Andrew Rice's Don't Give Up the Shift mezcal riff at Attaboy called All Hands on Deck and Matt Robold's Cognac-rum Obstructed Vieux were two stirred numbers that were worthy of mention.

Kindred Cocktails: As a side note to yesterday's list of drinks that I created and was proud of, the top 5 drinks that I did not mention before but were highly rated on the Kindred Cocktails database by scoring plus number of folks who rated it there were: The Drink of Insignificance as my hybrid of Cure's The Drink of Laughter and Forgetting and the Red Hook. Broadway Nights as cross of David Embury's Knight with a rye-mezcal Manhattan. Fleur Carre as a request at Drink for a flowery De La Louisiane. Vaquero which worked both as an Old Fashioned as well as an up drink of an herbal rye-mezcal concept (the idea progressed into the Devil's Highway and other recipes). And Songs My Mother Taught Me as a mezcal take on Brick & Mortar's Khartoum crossed with Backbar's Scarecrow.

Overall, it was a good year of cocktailing with the exception that I did not spend much time at other folks' bars across town. Mathematically, I was able to cut down my list of 300-something drinks this year to 12 best drinks of the month, 17 runners up, and 1 honorable mention for name. Good luck to all of your imbibings in 2023!


1 oz Aged Dominican Rum (Bacardi 4 Year)
1 oz Blanco Tequila (Avion)
3/4 oz Simple Syrup
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
2 dash Orange Bitters (Angostura Orange)
1 Egg White

Shake one round without ice and one round with ice, and strain into a coupe glass.
Two Sundays ago, I delved into Steve the Bartender's Cocktail Guide and spotted the Conquistador that was crafted by Sam Ross in 2008. A split base rum and tequila egg white Sour seemed so delightful that I did not bother to confirm if I had tried it before. Alas, I had it from the PDT Cocktail Book, but that was drink was 11 years ago. Revisiting it, the Conquistador attacked with a lemon and agave nose. Next, a creamy lime sip sailed into tequila, rum, and lemon-lime flavors on the swallow with an orange peel finish.