Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Slow Screw

There are so many sloe gin drinks out there, and many are just repetitions of oldies with the substitution of sloe gin. The Slow Screw, of course, is just a screwdriver with sloe gin. Had I any Galliano left I would have also made a Slow Screw Against A Wall, a mashup of a Harvey Wallbanger and a Slow Screw. Look for this on in the future.
  • 2 oz. sloe gin
  • orange juice
Build the drink in a highball glass with ice. Add sloe gin and top with orange juice. Stir gently.

Cape Cod Cooler

Tired of the same old vodka and cranberry Cape Codder? Enhance your cranberry juice with sloe gin. Sloe gin is made from a liqueur from the sloe berry, which is related to the plum. It's much sweeter than gin, but there's still the juniper spice that dry gins have. The fun thing about sloe gin is the deep purple color--and of course the fun you can have with puns on the word "slow."

This cocktail was really sweet. The addition of orgeat syrup more than compensates for the sour lime and bitter cranberry juice. It has a tropical, Sling, sort of feel, much like the Singapore Sling without the fizz.
  • 2 oz. sloe gin
  • 1 oz. gin
  • 1/2 oz. lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. orgeat syrup
  • 5 oz. cranberry juice or to top
  • lime slice
Combine lime juice, orgeat syrup and gins in a highball glass with ice. Top with cranberry juice and stir gently. Garnish with the lime slice.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Fireman's Sour

This bright red drink evokes the flashing lights and red paint of a fire engine speeding down the street, something I see a lot lately here in D.C. Rose's grenadine is responsible for sweetening and coloring the drink. Despite the fact that I'm making most of my own syrups, I still count on Roses grenadine (more than the lime cordial) when it is specifically called for in recipes. When you are trying to get a specific color for your cocktail, it's not worth leaving it to chance.
  • 2 oz. light rum
  • 1 1/2 oz. lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp. simple syrup
  • 1 tbsp. grenadine
  • lemon wheel
  • maraschino cherry
Combine all liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled sour glass (or small wine glass) and garnish with lemon wheel and cherry.


This drink is intended to evoke Alpine flowers in autumn, but I'm going to make it for spring anyway. After all, floral notes are more in vogue in the spring and richer spices are called for in fall. For this drink I got to use St. Germain elderflower liqueur and a dash of orange blossom water, both of which have a potent blossom aroma. I also used the last of my bottle of Machu Pisco, a fitting end to a terrific run of grape spirit drinks.
  • 2 1/2 oz. pisco
  • 1/2 oz. orange juice
  • 1/2 oz. grapefruit juice
  • 1/4 oz. lemon juice
  • dash orange blossom water
  • orange twist
Combine all ingredients except twist in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled coup or cocktail glass (coup shown). Garnish with orange twist.

Cherry Blossom

I've re-made the classic Cherry Blossom this year to commemorate the annual Cherry Blossom Festival in D.C. Bars all over the city are making their own cherry-themed drinks in order to appeal to the thousands of tourists that come to see the flowering trees. I made this cocktail at work, but I'm doing it at home as well with a bottle of Destillerie Kammer-Kirsch Black Forest Kirschwasser. Kirschwasser or kirsch is a cherry brandy that is clear and strong and only faintly taste of cherries. That is why it is very different when you use the amaretto tasting maraschino cherry liqueurs for this drink, which often tastes too sweet. Cognac is a better substitute for the brandy as well, as it is smoother and will soften out the harsh notes of the kirsch.
  • 2 oz. brandy or cognac
  • 1 oz. kirschwasser
  • 1/2 oz. triple sec
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • tsp oz. simple syrup
  • 1 tbsp. grenadine
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with cherries.

Thursday, March 24, 2016


Meghan's first response to tasting this was, "Wow! That's different!" It is different from your usual Margarita. It's a lot like the Batida I ordered in Mexico. The difference is the pink color it gets from Grenadine. So this is perfect for spring drinking and may even qualify as a Cherry Blossom Festival drink ripe for the tourism season in D.C.
  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • 2 oz. silver tequila
  • 2 oz. pineapple juice
  • 1/4 tsp. grenadine
 Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and pour into a highball or large Old Fashioned glass.

El Centro's Red and Smokey

What an amazing drink. You won't find the Red and Smokey in any bartender's guide--it's a restaurant original. The thing about tequilerias like El Centro is that they have so many tequilas and mescals that they don't need any other spirits to produce varieties of flavors. They have to be especially inventive with their cocktails, though, because it is easy to have a cocktail menu made up entirely of margaritas.

The Red and Smokey is the antidote to this problem. It's deep and syrupy and full of hibiscus flavor with a smokey burn and prickle on the sides of the tongue. It can be an easy slurping straw pint and full-bodied slow sipper at the same time, both refreshing and strong! There's just one catch: you have to do a lot of prep with some strange ingredients.

It is sweetened by chili ginger simple syrup. This is made by blending fresh ginger and chili powder and soaking it in boiling water for a while before straining out the solids. This will infuse the chili and ginger spice flavors without making it lumpy. Add sugar and stir to make a solution. Do this the same way I made my raspberry syrup.

Then you need to make the hibiscus puree--which is a simple matter of blending dried hibiscus flowers in water until fine. Strain it to remove the solids. (I haven't done this, but this is how I am told they do it at El Centro, and it sounds easy as long as you start with a little water--less than 50 percent to the amount of flowers).

Once you have the hibiscus puree and the chili and ginger syrup, you are ready for mixing.
  • 1 1/2 oz. El Silencio Mescal
  • 1/2 oz. chili ginger simple syrup
  • 1/2 oz. hibiscus puree
  • 1 oz. lime juice
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Pour into a highball glass.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Bali Hai

What a fun champagne tiki! It's really acidic and dry with brut champagne and all the citrus, but stick with it. The almond syrup and grenadine give it a lovely pink color and flavor complexity but there's not enough to sweeten the drink too much. So this is an example of a tiki that makes you pucker, and a rare one with the kick from champagne fizz.
  • 2 oz. light rum
  • 1 oz. aguardiente (kirschwasser used--as any clear fruit brandy is acceptable as aguardiente)
  • 2 oz. lemon juice
  • 2 oz. lime juice
  • 1 tsp. orgeat syrup
  • 1 tsp. grenadine
  • chilled sparkling wine or champagne
Combine all ingredients except champagne in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a grim-faced tiki mug and garnish with whatever fruit you have on hand.


I love that this cocktail exists. It's one of those champagne drinks that I wouldn't think of to make and requires a lot of raspberries in the prep, but it is so worth it.

This rendition of Ambrosia is all-American, and most of it is made with Virginia spirits. I got some Lairds Old Apple Brandy, which is really rich and fruity. Plus, I used Catoctin Creek's 1757 Reserve brandy which is like a bomb of grape and oak flavors. Add to this a dry Korbel sparkling wine and raspberry syrup, and it tastes like a mouthful of fresh and dried fruits.
  • 1 1/2 oz. apple brandy
  • 1 1/2 oz. brandy
  • 1/2 tsp. raspberry syrup
  • chilled champagne or sparkling wine 
Combine brandies and syrup in a shaker with ice and shake until chilled. Strain into a chilled white wine glass and top off with champagne and garnish with raspberries. (Directions say to drop the berries in the glass, but I was afraid that the dark color of the liquor would make them look strange. Once I unloaded them into the glass and gave it a stir, though, I can see why this is the best option for drinking.)

Monday, March 14, 2016

Irish Coffee

I bet there are some doubters out there who think that this is just a mug of coffee--that I didn't really put 2 oz. of Teeling in the coffee and drink it before I went to work. That's where you'd be wrong, though. The Irish Coffee is a great pick-me-up. Caffeine affects me way more than alcohol, so I was bouncing off the walls. To any Irishman, however, this is what you have for breakfast.
  • 2 oz. Irish whiskey (Teeling used)
  • black coffee
  • teaspoon of sugar
  • whipped cream.
Heat the mug with hot water and pour it out before adding whiskey and coffee. Stir in sugar and top with whipped cream.


Unlike the Arawak Cup, the Arawak is just a chilled sipping drink with cream sherry. So that makes it perfect for after dinner. I could see it going especially well with cookies or chocolate cake. The recipe I followed said to put this in a cocktail glass, but the proportions are so small that it would look dinky in such large glasses that we have now. A rocks glass is more fitting.
  • 1 oz. dark rum
  • 1 oz. cream sherry
  • several dashes angostura bitters
  • maraschino cherry
Combine all ingredients except cherry in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled rocks glass. Garnish with cherry.

Arawak Cup

The Arawak are the indigenous people of Caribbean Islands, so this, like the Gauguin, is a Westerner's interpretation of tropical paradise. Again, passion fruit is necessary to give the Arawak Cup the exotic zip of the Mai Kai No, but there's no soda here and pineapple juice (and South African baby pineapple spear) make the Caribbean theme a little spurious. This was a rich, dark brown cocktail that disappeared quickly when sipped through a straw.
  • 2 oz. dark rum
  • 1/2 oz. pineapple juice
  • 1/2 oz. lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. passion fruit syrup
  • 1 tsp. orgeat syrup
  • pineapple spear
Combine all ingredients except pineapple spear in a shaker with ice. Shake and pour into a tiki or highball glass full of fresh ice. Garnish with a pineapple spear.

Mai Kai No

I was going to compare the Mai Kai No to the Mai Tai or Zombie, but it is its own monster. It's one of those tart tikis with lots of lime juice and only orgeat syrup to sweeten it and add a nutty complexity. Passion fruit sets it apart from the rest, and passion fruit syrup mixed with sugar is sweeter than the plain juice. Put this drink in an opaque tiki mug because the orange colored syrup and dark rum really make an unappealing brown liquid, but just taste it and you'll recognize the burst of tropical flavors that this tiki packs.
  • 2 oz. light rum
  • 2 oz. dark rum
  • 1/2 oz. 151-proof rum
  • 2 oz. lime juice
  • 1 oz. passion fruit syrup
  • 1/2 oz. orgeat syrup
  • club soda
  • pineapple spear
Combine rums, lime juice, and syrups in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a grim faced tiki full of fresh ice. Top with soda and garnish with pineapple spear.


The Gauguin reminds me of many of the artist's paintings. It's a pretty two-dimensional representation of indigenous (read tropical) beauty. The flavor, though, is very colorful and bold with passion fruit syrup. For this I used real passion fruit puree, which is hard to come by, and added a little simple syrup for sweetness. Passion fruit is pretty tart, which is why there are more of the syrup in drink recipes than the juice itself.
  • 2 oz. light rum
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. passion fruit syrup
  • maraschino cherry
Combine all liquid ingredients in a blender with ice and blend until smooth. Pour into a chilled Old Fashioned glass and garnish with cherry.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Heart's Cocktail

Heart's Cocktail is an all-liquor rocks drink with wormwood and cinchona bitterness that is surprisingly well balanced. The recipe specifies Irish whiskey because of the sweetness of the grain composition. I've made it here with Teeling Irish whiskey, which sits on the dry edge of Irish whiskeys and has a sugary finish that I think is due to aging in ex-rum barrels.

This is one of those few cocktails like the Earthquake and Thunderclap that I am a little afraid to drink. These are simply equal parts of strong liquors that would likely fight with each other, and they are frighteningly strong. Absinthe is 110-proof and Teeling is 92-proof. I was surprised how much Pernod is called for, and even though I substituted absinthe which is even more dry, the drink was still very balanced and, yes, very strong. I guess that's why it's named after somebody named Heart, which is the English translation of the French "courage."
  • 2 oz. Irish whiskey (Teeling used)
  • 1 oz. sweet vermouth (Antica Formula used)
  • 1 oz. Pernod (Absinte Refined used)
  • 3-5 dashes Angostura bitters
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake well and strain into an Old Fashioned glass full of fresh ice. 

(Irish) Whiskey Collins

The Tom Collins is a gin drink with lots of lemon and soda. It's reputedly an Irish cocktail named after a fictitious man with the gift of the gab. That's why I chose to make the whiskey variant with an Irish whiskey, and not just any Irish whiskey. Glendalough double barrel is about as close to bourbon as an Irish whiskey can get, with part of its aging in ex-bourbon barrels and a high corn component of its grain composition.
  • 3 oz. whiskey (Glendalough double barrel used)
  • 2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. simple syrup
  • club soda
  • maraschino cherry
  • orange slice
Combine whiskey, lemon juice and soda in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a Collins glass full of fresh ice and top with soda. Garnish with cherry and orange slice.

Bourbon Cobbler

Cobblers are rich drinks by definition. This one is really like a liquid peach cobbler and has little in common with the Rum Cobbler or Sherry Cobbler. These really feature the spirit by itself and the addition of granulated sugar fruit, especially pineapple. The Bourbon Cobbler is an attempt to play up the Southerness of bourbon and the peach flavor of Southern Comfort. Fresh peaches are a must, but only for the garnish.
  • 2 oz. bourbon (Four Roses yellow label used)
  • 1 oz. Southern Comfort
  • 1 tsp. peach brandy (Peachtree used)
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar 
  • peach slice
  • club soda
Combine all ingredients except peach slice and club soda in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a highball glass filled with fresh ice and top with club soda. Garnish with peach slice. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Irish Canadian Sangaree

This is one of the weirder things you can order up at an Irish pub. It's bound to get you funny looks from the bartender. But it shouldn't surprise anyone that Irish and Canadian whiskeys play well together--better than Irish and Scottish whiskeys anyway. (The Canadians are always so polite.) Canada is known for having a large population of Celtic people, some who still speak Gaelic. So it is fitting that there is a drink that serves as a tribute to people who are Irish Canadian every day, unlike Americans who wait for St. Patrick's day to show off their Irishness.

The drink itself is juicy and strong with spicy notes. I chose Crown Royal as the quintessential Canadian whiskey. That gave the drink a kind of coppery and oak undertone with the citrus and liquor spice in the foreground. Nutmeg makes this drink similar in profile to the Scotch Sangaree or Scotch Cobbler.
  • 2 oz. Canadian whiskey (Crown Royal used)
  • 1 oz. Irish Mist
  • 1 oz. orange juice
  • 1 oz. lemon juice
  • grated nutmeg 
Combine liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and pour into a chilled Collins glass. Sprinkle nutmeg on top. 

Irish Kilt

I've been asked to do a cocktail with one of Teeling's reserve bottlings and I chose the single grain to make the Irish Kilt. Teeling single grain has a prominent malt character with honey notes on the nose and a long finish. It's lovely by itself, but works just fine in a cocktail that's designed to play up the malt character of whiskey.

You'll want to choose a soft scotch that stays out of the way of the single grain so that you can appreciate it, and if I had my druthers, I'd cut the lemon juice and simple syrup portions by half so that they don't drown out the interplay of malt and spicecake from the single grain.
  • 1 oz. scotch
  • 1 oz. Irish whiskey (Teeling single grain used)
  • 1 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 oz. simple syrup
  • dash  orange bitters
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

Shetland Pony

I was waiting to try this drink once I got another bottle of Irish Mist. Then I realized that I could go to the Dubliner and have the drink made for me there. After a little searching, the bartender found the Irish Mist--the trouble was the way the bottle is now labeled as a honey whiskey and not a liqueur. Not that the Irish Mist recipe has changed, but the liqueur is trying to benefit from the popularity of honey whiskey and has changed its appearance and so confused those who already know and love the sweet and spicy liqueur.

Shetland Pony is a cute name for this cute drink that effectively combines Ireland and Scotland into a bit of a mutt of a drink. It's lovely and full of complex spice and citrus, not to mention peatiness from the scotch. Bitters makes the whole thing pop, and I definitely had the classiest looking drink at the bar.
  • 2 oz. scotch (Dewar's white label used)
  • 3/4 oz. Irish Mist
  • dash orange bitters.
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir until chilled and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.


I stopped in to Kelley's Irish Times to order up this beauty. Kelley's is a dive bar near Union Station. They have no cocktail menu, so I was working with what they had behind the bar. The bartender was a little taken aback by my order, like he'd never had occasion to use a cocktail glass, and no offense to Kelley's but this drink is really a bad one. Of course it has a lovely green shade, but that is all the Shamrock has going for it. I've talked at length before about bad St. Patrick's Day drinks and this one seems to fit all the criteria: drink designed for its color, little concern for how the spirits will play together, and the impression that for this holiday you should shut up and drink something even if it tastes like mouthwash.

Still, I'm glad I had the experience, and if you happen to have the ingredients, you can too. Though if you really wanted a green drink that tastes good, I would swap out the green creme de menthe and use a drop of green food coloring. Then up the green Chartreuse to 3/4 oz.
  • 2 oz. Irish Whiskey (Teeling used)
  • 1/2 oz. green creme de menthe
  • 1/2 oz. dry vermouth
  • 1 tsp. green Chartreuse
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.