Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Canadian Apple

This was another great opportunity to use Catoctin Creek apple brandy. This is a whisky-forward drink that benefits a lot from the citrus and spice. 
  • 2 oz. Canadian whisky
  • 1/2 oz. apple brandy
  • 1 tsp. sugar syrup
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • lemon slice
  • pinch of cinnamon
Combine all ingredients except for lemon slice in a shaker with ice. Shake and pour into a highball glass and garnish with lemon slice.

Artillery Cocktail

I'm not sure why this Martini-like cocktail has a martial name, but I bet it has something to do with the simplicity with which a glass can be reloaded. I used Bluecoat Barrel Finished Reserve for the gin and Carpano Antica Formula to make a rich and bitter drink.
  • 2 oz. gin
  • 1/2 oz. sweet vermouth
Combine all ingredients in a stirring glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Apple Daiquiri

The Apple Daiquiri requires real apple brandy, which I got on a trip to Catoctin Creek distillery. This small, expensive bottle is made from distilled apple juice from local orchards. Unlike Applejack, it really tastes like apples. It is very rare; I got one of the last eight bottles. Here's the recipe for this treat.
  • 4 oz. light rum
  • 3/4 oz. apple brandy
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. sugar syrup
  • apple slice
Combine all ingredients except apple slice in a shaker or blender with ice. Shake or blend and pour into a chilled highball glass.

Saturday, September 26, 2015


With this drink, I've added to the Italiano series of drinks in which the word "Italiano" is used as an adjective, not a noun. I'll explain. All the drinks use the word to modify something, like Banana Italiano, for instance. My thinking was to do the reverse of the drink called Americano. The funny thing about the Americano is that it is composed of Italian liqueurs that somehow describes an American's taste for bitter cocktails.

My Itailiano is made with a lesser-known amaro called Meletti. It is sweeter than Campari and doesn't need vermouth--my Carpano Antica would have made it more bitter not less. Ok. Enough about it, here's how it's made.
  • 1 1/2 oz. Meletti Amaro
  • club soda
  • orange slice
Build drink in a highball glass with ice. Top with club soda, stir and add orange slice.

Hugo Rickey

The Rickey is a classic D.C. cocktail. It's made with gin or whiskey, lime juice, and soda. Hugo is also my cat's name, which is why he is present in the Hugo series of drinks. This Rickey has the characteristic red color of grenadine that functions also as a sweetener.
  • 1 1/2 oz. gin
  • 3/4 oz. lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. grenadine
  • 1/2 lime shell left over from juicing
Build the drink in a stirring glass full of ice. Stir all ingredients except lime shell. Place lime shell in a chilled highball glass and pour contents of stirring glass into the highball glass.


I wish I knew who this drink is named after; there's conjecture it is named after boxer Jack Dempsey. It's a boozy drink with a strong absinthe flavor despite the small proportion of it. Grenadine makes for a soft rouge color and keeps the drink from getting too dry. I used Bluecoat Barrel Aged Reserve gin for this recipe because the oak and vanilla flavor would play well with apple brandy. That was a very good move. Usually apple brandy and gin don't go together easily: the apple brandy loses its color, the gin covers softer notes in the apple brandy. With Barrel Reserve, the drink was spicy--in a good way--and the gin contributed without standing out too much. I shudder to think how it would have tasted with a cheap London dry style gin.
  • 2 oz. gin (Bluecoat Barrel Reserve used)
  • 1 oz. apple brandy
  • 1 tsp. grenadine
  • 1 tsp absinthe or Pernod
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir until well chilled and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.


The Deauville is a sour but brandy-heavy drink that I appreciated after trying out so many drinks with added sugar in the form of grenadine. Apple brandy can absorb some of the acidity of lemon juice, and fortunately this drink is strong enough to not need simple syrup. You can really taste the apple brandy and oak from the aged brandy. Deauville is similar to a Sidecar in this way.
  • 1 1/2 oz. brandy
  • 1 oz. apple brandy
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. Cointreau
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

Hugo Bracer

I'm doing a few brandy and grenadine drinks lately, and it is surprising how many there are. The obscure Hugo series of drinks uses lime juice with grenadine in place of sugar as a sweetener. This changes the color to a brilliant red despite the brownness of the Picon. This drink was very tart and I felt that upping the alcohol content (perhaps with 1/4 oz. of 100-proof vodka and a dash more Picon) improved the balance without making it too sweet.
  • 1 oz. apple brandy
  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. grenadine
  • 1/2 oz. Amer Picon (Picon Biere used)
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

American Beauty

This is a drink I've been wanting to make for a while, but I didn't have port and creme de menth at the same time. I have to say that I had a few reservations, however, when floating the ounce of port. I used a spoon, but it still sank to the bottom, and with so much orange juice, I wasn't surprised. Still, the brandy, vermouth and port make for a very grape forward drink that is a little tropical. I used Christian Brothers American brandy to keep with the theme.
  • 1 1/2 oz. brandy
  • 1 oz. sweet vermouth
  • 1 oz. orange juice
  • 2-3 dashes grenadine
  • 2-3 dashes creme de menthe
  • 1 oz. port
Combine all ingredients except port in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Float the port on top using a bar spoon.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Dundee Dram

I made the Dundee Dram for a few fans of the blog who came to visit me at the bar. I'm not sure how well this photo represents the drink. I want to make it again once I get my hands on some Drambuie. I used to drink this one a lot several years ago as it is one drink you can do with Drambuie that's not a Rusty Nail.
  • 1 oz. scotch
  • 1 oz. gin
  • 1/2 oz. Drambuie
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • lemon peel
  • maraschino cherry
Mix ingredients except lemon peel and cherry in an Old Fashioned glass with ice. Twist lemon peel over the drink and top with cherry.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Liberal Cocktail

This drink calls for either bourbon or rye. I felt it could stand to be a little more on the sweet side, so I opted for Calumet Farms bourbon. Bourbon and bitter orange are flavors that go so well together, and this cocktail really highlights this.
  • 1 1/2 oz. bourbon or rye
  • 1/2 oz. sweet vermouth (Antica Formula used)
  • 1/4 oz. Amer Picon (Picon Biere used)
  • dash orange bitters 
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Brooklyn Cocktail

This drink has some notable variations from its neighbor, The Manhattan. One is the almost impossible to find Amer Picon bitters. What I have here is the milder Picon Biere, which has a nice bitter orange flavor and dark brown color. It isn't a s strong as Amer Picon, but you won't find anything like the original in the U.S. for now.

The drink itself is sweeter than a Manhattan. I recommend making it with rye so that you don't confuse the flavors with vanilla in the bourbon. What you experience is that sugary nuttiness of rye whiskey with bitter orange from Picon, bitter maraschino from Luxardo, and a general dry wine flavor of dry vermouth. It is a complex drink that is more than the sum of its parts. I think I like it as much as a Manhattan, but they are just so different, it's impossible to decide.
  • 1 1/2 oz. rye
  • 1/2 oz. dry vermouth
  • 1/4 oz. Luxardo
  • 1/4 oz. Amer Picon (Picon Biere used)
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Rye Cocktail

This is a very appropriately named drink. It's been a while since I mixed with my Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye. I love this photo because you can see the bitters hanging out above the perfectly focused cherry.
  • 3 oz. rye
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar syrup
  • dash bitters
  • maraschino cherry
Combine all ingredients except cherry in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with cherry

Applejack Sour

Meghan will drink anything with lemon sour, but I haven't made her a sour with Applejack yet. This is brighter than a whiskey sour and very approachable.
  • 2 oz. applejack
  • 1 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. sugar syrup
  • lemon wheel
Combine all ingredients except lemon wheel in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon wheel.

Watermellon Wine Sangria

I just came up with this recipe to make a nice end-of-summer drink with a bottle of Alison's Wonderful Watermelon Wine. In case you are wondering, it is a grape wine with watermelon juice to make it sweet, but it still has a strong grape aroma. I added pisco and soda along with a few other fruits to finish off the Sangria.
  • 1 orange
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 lime
  • 3 oz. pisco
  • 1 bottle Alison's Wonderful Watermelon Wine
  • 1/2 bottle of club soda
In a large container, combine cut wheels of fruit, pisco, and entire contents of wine bottle. Refrigerate for an hour. Serve in a wine glass topped with soda.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Scotch Cooler

I was expecting this drink to be a little gross like most creme de menthe drinks. It helped that I was using a better quality white creme de menthe and that the recipe doesn't call for that much of it or it would have been overpowering. This cocktail shouldn't taste like a Christmas Tree or a Green Goblin (I have not even bothered to make either of these for my blog, having tasted them before. But then there is always the possibility that I can get someone else to drink them.)

Anyway, this one tasted a lot like a Scotch and Soda made with a scotch that sourced its water from a spring that flows through fields of mint plants rather than heather. It's that subtle hint that is interesting without being overpowering that makes the Scotch and Soda such a hit for me when I go out for social drinking. I always recommend Chivas Regal for a Scotch and Soda, but I only had Famous Grouse to make this one.
  • 3 oz. scotch
  • 1/2 tsp. white creme de menthe
  • club soda
Build the drink in a highball glass with ice. Stir in alcoholic ingredients until chilled and top with club soda. The mint spring (since the creme de menthe is really a substitute for the real thing) is optional.

Old Cuban

The Old Cuban is a precursor to the Mojito, and it is made very similarly. It's done like a sour with mint and topped with champagne. It's no wonder it was popular in Paris, where we tried it at The Experimental Cocktail Club (photo below)
  • 5-8 mint leaves
  • 1 1/2 oz. light rum
  • 1/2 oz. sugar syrup
  • champagne
Muddle mint and sugar syrup in a shaker. Add ice and rum and shake to cool. Strain into a chilled coup or sour glass. Add champagne to top and garnish with a mint leaf. 

Blue Firth / The Charmer

This drink goes by The Charmer in the New York Bartender's Guide, but it has its own more Scottish name as well. I'd made it years ago during a Democratic primary election night because of its color. I'm really impressed with its flavor, though. I don't smoke but I associate its taste with having a cigarette for some reason. It has a lot of orange bitterness before you even add the orange bitters. My bitters sank to the bottom, which made it even more interesting when you finish the drink.
  • 1 1/2 oz. scotch (Barrelhound used)
  • 1/2 oz. dry vermouth
  • 1/2 oz. blue curacao 
  • several dashes orange bitters
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

Harry Lauder

Harry Lauder is a famous name in the scotch whisky business, being one of the first brand name blenders in Glasgow. His namesake drink is equal parts scotch and sweet vermouth with 1/2 tsp. of sugar syrup.
  • 1 1/2 oz. scotch (Famous Grouse used)
  • 1 1/2 oz. sweet vermouth (Antica Formula used)
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar syrup
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.


I can appreciate such a vermouth heavy cocktail since I returned from Europe, where a Martini is just vermouth on ice. It was savory to enjoy dry vermouth in such a large quantity with just hints of oak and peat coming through to sweeten it up in the finish. Vermouth takes some getting used to, but once you start enjoying it like wine, than you think of vermouth cocktails as wine cocktails and taste them for their grape flavors.
  • 2 oz. scotch (Barrelhound used)
  • 1 1/2 oz. dry vermouth
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2015


A drink like this can only be accomplished with a full flavored scotch like Lagavulin 16. It is well balanced with smoke, peat, bitterness and anise. This was a perfect time to use my 1.5 inch ice balls.
  • 1 1/2 oz. scotch (Lagavulin 16)
  • several dashes of orange bitters (see previous post)
  • several dashes of Pernod
Build drink in a highball glass with ice. Add scotch the dashes of bitters and Pernod on the cubes.

Rob Roy (Revisited)

I feel I did a poor job of the Rob Roy in the past. Just having the ingredients present in a glass does not do justice to the drink itself. For one thing, this drink is really improved by good scotch, quality vermouth, and real orange bitters. Here's my quick orange bitters recipe as a bonus:

Nate's Orange Bitters
  • Peel of one orange
  • 2 oz. 100 proof vodka
  • several seeds of coriander, fennel and cloves
  • 1/2 oz. Campari
  • 1/2 oz. Meletti Amaro (or other bitter)
  • 1/2 oz. Picon Biere (or flat Pepsi) for color
Infuse in a small container for a week or more. Strain into a clean bottle with an airtight lid.

Next, the drink itself was very noteworthy. I like how Dalmore, as one of the sweetest tasting single malts, has hints of orange marmalade if you really look for it. Orange bitters make this more of a reality.

Rob Roy
  • 2 oz scotch (Dalmore 12 used)
  • 1/2 oz. sweet vermouth (Antica Formula used)
  • several dashes of orange bitters
  • maraschino cherry
Combine all ingredients except cherry in a shaker with ice. Stir or shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the cherry.

Scotch Mist

The Scotch Mist is almost not a mixed drink. It's really more of a crushed ice pour with a twist, but did that ever change the profile of this single malt. GlenDronach is probably the heaviest highland single malt I have on my bar. It floors you with lots of peat and smoke and heaps of oloroso sherry dried fruit flavor. I remembered it was almost too much to take when I tried it neat. It was the perfect scotch to do the Scotch Mist with because I relied on its strength to carry through the citrus nose. The quickly melting ice really opened up the scotch and made it a fast drink, not a slow sipper.
  • 2 oz. scotch (GlenDronach 12 used)
  • lemon peel
 Build drink in a highball glass full of crushed ice. Twist lemon peel over ice and drop in.


 Thistle is the first scotch drink I made after having trouble enjoying some good single malts. All this cocktail drinking has made it hard for me to just drink whisky neat. I decided to test my taste buds with a scotch cocktail that is a lot like a Rob Roy except it has a high ratio of sweet vermouth. It made for a very spicy and bitter drink!
  • 2 oz. scotch
  • 1 oz. sweet vermouth (Antica Formula used)
  • several dashes of Angostura bitters
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Red Chili Coconut Mojito

This was an incredible discovery I made at the beach in Barcelona. There was a great beach bar that was turning out amazing drinks for 10 euros (not cheap). The trick to this drink is in the chili-infused rum. Here's how to do that first.

Get a medium size red chili and poke a few holes in it to allow the rum to enter and pick up more heat. Put it in a bottle with about 1 cup of rum and let it sit for 3-7 days. The longer it sits, the hotter the rum gets. Remove the pepper when it is to your liking.

Now for the drink.
  • 8-10 mint leaves
  • 1/2 oz. Real Puree Coconut (fine ground coconut is a good substitute)
  • 1/2 -1 oz. red chili rum
  • 1 1/2 oz. coconut rum
  • 1/2 oz. simple syrup
  • club soda
  • chili pepper garnish
Muddle mint leaves in simple syrup and coconut puree in a shaker. Add rums and ice and shake. Pour into a highball glass and top with soda. Garnish with the chili pepper and a mint sprig.

Quebec Cocktail (Revisited)

I'm circling back to this drink I made almost a year ago when I thought I had a good substitute for Amer Picon. It turns out that I wasn't too far off except mine wasn't bitter or dark enough.

A little about Amer Picon: it's not available in the U.S. and bartenders are trying to recreate its flavor and color for cocktails like this. Most are using a mild amaro, cola, bitter oranges, cloves. It's impossible to perfectly copy it. The bottle I brought back from Paris is Picon Biere, which the French use to make their cheap beer taste stronger. That's fine, and I liked it enough with soda. But I got it for cocktails or to have by itself.

That said, I think that there was a proportionality problem with this drink. It was too large, and didn't use the Canadian whisky to good effect. It tasted too much like root beer, which is a little of what Picon tastes like. I think a half ounce of vermouth and Picon each is sufficient to add flavor without overdoing it. This drink was so big I was tempted to transfer it into a coffee mug.
  • 3 oz. Canadian whisky
  • 1 oz. dry vermouth
  • 1 oz. Amer Picon
  • 1/2 oz. maraschino liqueur
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Canadian Cocktail

Folks have been asking me to make more cocktails with good Canadian whisky, and I've been wanting to try this one, myself. It is pretty much just a quick way to serve your whisky up and change its flavor to make it less hot and more interesting.
  • 2 oz. Canadian whisky
  • 2 tsp. triple sec
  • 1/2 tsp. simple syrup
  • dash Angostura bitters
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.