Friday, May 18, 2018

Velvet Kiss

I can see what this cocktail is doing. It is so much like a tropical smoothie, but it is easy to make in a shaker without crushed ice. So this must be a cocktail glass serving of a boat drink.

But then everything about the Velvet Kiss is unusual. You don't usually see gin in a banana flavored cocktail. You don't usually see pineapple juice and cream used together either. Then you taste it and realize that none of that matters. The spice of gin botanicals adds to the tropical spice notes. The banana spirit makes it exotic, especially if it is real banana flavor not some sugary creme de bananes. Even the little bit of grenadine is used for tropical sweetness rather than for color. So this is a cocktail that is all about the flavor combination that is more than the sum of its parts, almost to the exclusion of appearance.
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice (adding half-and-half last to prevent curdling). Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.


This pretty cocktail is a favorite of mine from the 1980s. There's been plenty of versions of this drink, but it is pretty much a Bailey's cocktail with vodka and coffee liqueur. The recipe I used doesn't include chocolate syrup, but I feel like it is a nice touch. Chill the glass first, then add the syrup in fun patterns like the floral one above or swirls. Be imaginative.

I used two MurLarkey products for this drink in addition to Bailey's Irish Cream Liqueur. First I needed vodka, and Divine Clarity fits the bill. Coffee liqueur is also necessary, but since Bailey's adds plenty of sweetness in itself. You don't need a sweet coffee liqueur, though. So MurLarkey Coffee Whiskey is perfect and keeps the cocktail strong when a sweet coffee liqueur would make for a weaker cocktail. So go strong with this recipe.
  • 1 1/2 oz. vodka (Divine Clarity used)
  • 1 1/2 oz. Bailey's Irish Cream
  • 1 1/2 oz. coffee liqueur (MurLarkey Coffee Whiskey used)
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass (with an optional chocolate syrup garnish.) 


MurLarkey's Heritage whiskey has a great corn scent and it is unbelievably dry with a whiff of wood and wine. It really likes egg white and lemon juice. But this is no ordinary sour. The Rattlesnake has a bit of the Sazerac to it with the addition of Pernod.

Anise flavor is pretty strong and turns some people off. Fortunately, this recipe uses such a low proportion of Pernod that it doesn't register as anything other than a bit of spice. Any Whiskey Sour lover will enjoy this variation.
  • 2 oz. blended whiskey (MurLarkey Heritage used)
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. sugar syrup
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/4 tsp. Pernod
Combine all ingredients with ice in a Shaker. Shake and strain into and Old Fashioned glass full of fresh ice. 

Wembley Cocktail

The Wembley Cocktail could be a Martini variation except of the proportions, which is lesson gin and more on dry vermouth. The thing that sets it apart, and makes it really stand out from other apricot brandy cocktails with gin bases, is the small amount of apple brandy. These small additions are really elegant and give the cocktail a fruitiness that's unexpectedly good and natural tasting.

The apple brandy I used is actual bootleg apple brandy at 90 proof and aged in oak. The gin is of a better pedigree.
  • 2 oz. gin (ImaGination gin used)
  • 1/2 oz. dry vermouth
  • 1/4 oz. apple brandy
  • 1/4 oz. apricot brandy
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

Chocolate Martini

Despite all the ways this cocktail is being prepared now, the Chocolate Martini is still a Martini. That means it is dry, clear, and strong. There's no cream, milk chocolate liqueur, added sugar, coffee liqueur or espresso. I know this will confuse people who have been drinking or serving Chocolate Martinis with all this other stuff. But the real confusion comes from people confusing a Mudslide and an Espresso Martini with the very simple Chocolate Martini.

So how do you do a Chocolate Martini right? First use a lot of good vodka. Treat it like a regular Martini. I am using MurLarkey Distillery's Divine Clarity potato vodka. Use whatever you like, but it's not a flavored vodka. I also used a teaspoon of MurLarkey Coco Whiskey. This is a brown liquor, so I want to use only a little bit of it for its dry coco flavor. A teaspoon of white creme de cacao adds sweetness without changing the color. Then you need the chocolate curl--and let me tell you: these things don't just make themselves.

A chocolate curl is a nice touch to dessert drinks. You can make them at home with bittersweet baking chocolate and a little cooking oil and a baking sheet.

Melt chocolate (about 3 large squares or 2 tablespoons on low heat in a saucepan with a teaspoon of canola oil. The chocolate should be thick and runny with no lumps in it when it is ready.

Spread it evenly on the underside of a baking sheet or bread pan using a spatula and store the pan in the freezer for about three minutes.

Use a sharp spatula to scrape the chocolate slowly to create curls. Test the firmness of the chocolate. The ideal firmness is when the chocolate is still soft enough that it doesn't crack as you scrape it but is firm enough that it rolls forward instead of piling up on the spatula's front edge. If the chocolate is too firm, leave out of the freezer for a few minutes to allow it to warm up.

Store the chocolate curls in a freezer bag in the freezer so that they are ready for use.

Ok. Now the drink recipe!
  • 3 oz. vodka (MurLarkey Divine Clarity used)
  • 1/4 oz. MurLarkey Cocoa Whiskey (recommended)
  • 1/4 oz. white creme de cacao or other clear chocolate liqueur
  • chocolate curl
Combine liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the chocolate curl.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Peggy Cocktail

There's something Mad Men and French at the same time about the Peggy Cocktail. Might be the name, but the french part is clearly from all the quintessential French liqueurs present in this drink. I like that the dominant flavors are spicy gin and bitter wine flavors. There's not much Pernod present to tip the scales, so it is very balanced for some of the more squeamish drinkers, particularly those with an aversion to absinthe.

So there's Dubonnet Rouge as well as sweet vermouth. And I bucked the Italian trend for sweet vermouth and grabbed my Byrrh. This floral and not too bitter wine aperitif is so French that it takes most ordinary drinks to an unrecognizable exotic place.
  • 2 oz. gin
  • 1/2 oz. sweet vermouth (Byrrh recommended)
  • 1/4 tsp. Dubonnet Rouge
  • 1/4 tsp. Pernod
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Pluggy's Favorite

Historically, the only Pluggy I know of was a Mohawk chieftain who allied with the British in the 1770's raiding settlements in the west from his base near present day Columbus, Ohio. While it wouldn't be out of the ordinary for a Mohawk to love absinthe in those days, I wonder if my conjecture about the origin of this drink are way off the mark.

More likely, Pluggy was a nickname for a guy who really liked his anise liqueur. The recipe I have calls for Pernod, which is all the sweetness this drink really needs. Then I chose MurLarkey distillery's ImaGination Gin for the other main spirit because it has a spicy coriander, cardamon, celery and szechuan peppercorns that add bitter spice to their botanical blend.

All that is left, and I have to think that this is intentional, is an equal measure of water to allow the botanicals to release from the liquor and create this milky color.
  • 2 oz. Pernod
  • 2 oz. gin (ImaGination used)
  • 2 oz. water
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into an Old Fashioned glass full of fresh ice.