Monday, May 30, 2016

Shriner Cocktail

I get it. This drink is supposed to look like the color of the hats that Shriners wear when they meet at their club or are out raising money for charity. If you've seen them you know what I mean. It doesn't imply that they especially like sloe gin.

Sloe gin is responsible for the color and spice flavor of this cocktail. I used Catoctin Creek 1757 brandy for a more American style brandy with lots of richness. The amount of bitters seems a little auspicious, like it is part of a secret ceremony.
  • 2 oz. brandy (Catoctin Creek 1757 Reserve used)
  • 1 oz. sloe gin
  • 1/2 tsp. bar sugar
  • 3 dashes Angostura bitters
  • lemon peel
 Combine all ingredients except lemon peel in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with lemon. 


The Opening is really just an easy drink to make for someone who is not used to the bite of whiskey. I was hoping that it would be an "opening" to a series of complimentary whiskey drinks I could make, but it turns out that this one is too sweet as the recipe is written. It comes off a little like candy and less like a cocktail.

Carpano Antica Formula does great work in keeping a bitter edge to this drink, and I wanted to add bitters as well just to make it more interesting. Look, with Canadian whisky, you already have the most drinkable whiskey on hand, 1/2 ounce of grenadine is overkill. But this might just be your opening to Manhattan drinking.

  • 2 oz. Canadian whisky
  • 1 oz. sweet vermouth
  • 1/2 oz. grenadine (1/4 oz. recommended)
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Friday, May 27, 2016


This is another one of those blackberry brandy and bourbon cocktails that I love. The Allegheny is similar to the Black Dog, an Old Fashioned glass serving with identical ingredients in different proportions. This cocktail is more like a bourbon sour with blackberry flavor. That flavor comes from my homemade blackberry brandy (American brandy infused with real blackberries) and a tsp. of blackberry preserves. Here's how to make the cocktail the way I made it. If you have store bought blackberry brandy, omit steps involving blackberry preserves. Your brandy will be sweet enough not to need the preserves.
  • 1 1/2 oz. bourbon
  • 1 oz. dry vermouth
  • 1 tbsp. blackberry flavored brandy
  • (seedless blackberry preserves optional)
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice
  • lemon twist
Muddle blackberry preserves in a shaker with bourbon, blackberry brandy, vermouth and lemon juice until it dissolves completely. Add ice and shake. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with lemon twist.

Belmont Stakes

I can't explain how long I've been preparing to make this cocktail and thinking about it: how to display it, how to acquire the spirits, which spirits to use... It's been about a month of ruminating; meanwhile the Preakness and Kentucky Derby have already been held. I am excited that the Belmont Stakes (the drink) is a rum cocktail, so it has little to do with southern whiskey.

The Belmont Stakes (the race) is held outside New York at the Belmont racetrack for almost a century. The cocktail that has its namesake is like most other New York cocktails in that it is pink or red. (See Cosmopolitan, Manhattan, New York Sour, New York Cocktail or, The New Yorker) The pink color comes from strawberry syrup and grenadine. For this cocktail I chose to make my own strawberry liqueur: the recipe follows below.

Boil 8-10 large cored and sliced strawberries in a cup of water until the berries are soft and the water has cooked down (about 5 minutes.) Cut heat and add 1/2 cup of fine white sugar and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Using a potato ricer, mash the strawberries until they are pulverized and their juice is extracted. Allow the mixture to cool. Add 1 cup of 100-proof vodka or light rum and stir until evenly combined. Using a fine strainer, remove the strawberry pulp and preserve the liquor and sugar mixture in a clean saleable bottle.

Now the recipe for the cocktail:
  • 2 oz. vodka 
  • 1 oz. gold rum (Lyon Bijou Batch used)
  • 1/2 oz. strawberry liqueur (homemade liqueur used)
  • 1/2 oz. lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp. grenadine 
  • orange slice
  • lime wedge
  • strawberry
Combine liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with fruit.


Bolero is a kind of slower, rhythmic Latin dance music. This cocktail with the same name is a slow sipper. I was surprised how much Laird's Apple Brandy stands out as the dominant flavor. And it really did taste like apples and sweet vermouth. This drink was spicy, boozy and light.
  • 2 oz. light rum
  • 1/2 oz. sweet vermouth (Lacuesta special edition used)
  • 1/2 oz. apple brandy or applejack (Laird's Apple Brandy used)
  • dash Angostura bitters
 Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir until chilled and strain over fresh ice in an Old Fashioned glass.

Beachcomber's Gold

I'm not sure how a "perfect" rum Martini rates as a beach drink. The rum, however, makes it a more likely candidate for grass hut bar drinking. I really enjoyed this drink for its smoothness and round flavor. It really struck me as a wine cocktail despite the rum base. This, I think, is because of the softer notes of Lacuesta vermouths.
  • 2 oz. light rum
  • 1/2 oz. dry vermouth
  • 1/2 oz. sweet sweet vermouth
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir until chilled and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

Monday, May 23, 2016

Habitant Cocktail

I've been wanting to try this drink ever since I got a bottle of Knob Creek smoked maple bourbon. Products like this didn't exist when the drink was invented, so maple syrup as a sweetener distinguished this one from a Whiskey Sour made with sugar. I thought that the intense smoky maple of Knob Creek would help it along, though.

I was right. An extra ounce of bourbon also helps the balance between the ounce of lemon juice and just two ounces of whiskey. Two to one proportions of whiskey seemed too small to keep the drink from tasting tart. So of you want to try the original recipe just use the two ounces of whiskey and keep everything else the same, including garnishes.

Canadian whiskey is required, though; as this is a Canadian cocktail. For some reason the maple syrup and whiskey are supposed to represent being a inhabitant of Canada.
  • 2 oz. Canadian whiskey
  • 1 oz. Knob Creek smoked maple bourbon (recommended)
  • 1 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. maple syrup
  • cherry
  • orange slice
Combine whiskey, maple syrup and lemon juice in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with cherry and orange slice.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Black Dog

It's that lovable character from Stevenson's Treasure Island; it's that rocking song by Led Zeppelin; it's also a drink. The Black Dog is a blackberry brandy cocktail with a base of bourbon. You could just buy blackberry brandy, but where I live you can only get cheap sugar syrup liqueur. I wanted real blackberry flavor in brandy.

I started with blackberry infused E & J brandy that I made months ago. It is dry and tart, so I wanted to add more natural berry flavor. I recalled a story I did on jelly used in cocktails and picked up a jar of seedless blackberry preserves. You can try it my way or follow the recipe at the bottom.
  • 3 oz. bourbon
  • 1 oz. dry vermouth
  • 1/2 oz. blackberry brandy
Build cocktail in a mixing glass. Add brandy and dry vermouth and muddle 1 tsp. seedless blackberry preserves until it dissolves. Add bourbon and ice and stir until chilled. Strain into an Old Fashioned glass with fresh ice.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Ardmore Cocktail

Ardmore is a village in the whisky producing area of the Scottish highlands. This drink is a variation of a Blood and Sand. I have made the aforementioned Blood and Sand with Cherry Heering, then again with single malt and Luxardo maraschino liqueur and I found I liked the dryness of the second attempt. I used Luxardo as the inspiration to create another ingredient that is hard to source, Cherry Marnier. Now this is no longer in production, but I'm guessing it is a cherry flavor of Grand Marnier. I tried to replicate it with equal parts kirschwasser and cognac with just a dash of Luxardo. Another equally good substitute (perhaps better) is Cherry Heering, but I ran out and I have a bottle of kirschwasser sitting around waiting for just this sort of thing.
  • 1 oz. scotch 
  • 1/2 oz. sweet vermouth 
  • 1/2 oz. Cherry Marnier (substitute cognac and kirschwasser, or Cherry Heering)
  • 2 oz. orange juice
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

Colloden Cheer

This drink commemorates a famous battle in Scotland's history. It is a fairly tropical drink with sherry notes. It calls for a hard-to-find ingredient, La Grande Passion, which is no longer produced. I assume it is a cognac flavored with passion fruit. I tried to replicate La Grande Passion with passion fruit rum for the passion fruit flavor, mixed equal parts with cognac. I don't know how the original drink tasted, but this was a good move. I chose Cutty Sark Prohibition Edition for its caramel notes and how well it plays with rum and sherry.
  • 1 oz. scotch
  • 1/2 oz. La Grande Passion
  • 1 oz. dry sherry
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
 Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Affinity #2

This is the after-dinner Affinity to set across from the before-dinner Affinity #1. I think I like this one just as much if not more than its vermouth laden brother. This one has a good helping of sherry and port, which makes it sweeter. I let these dessert wines stand out by using Barrelhound blended scotch. There's no peat flavor here, just sweet wines with a scotch backbone.
  • 1 oz. scotch
  • 1 oz. dry sherry
  • 1 oz. port
  • several dashes Angostura bitters
  • maraschino cherry 
  • lemon twist
Combine all ingredients except cherry and lemon peel in a mixing glass with ice. Stir well and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the maraschino cherry and lemon twist.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Rum Swizzle

Rum Swizzle: Is there any other kind? This was one drink in which the caramel sweetness of Lyon dark rum is well balanced with a lot of lime juice acidity. A swizzle requires a decent amount of stirring. Unlike other swizzles I've made, though, this one has club soda, which means you don't want to stir the finished product too much or you will lose carbonation and make the drink flat. You do want to serve it with a swizzle stick shown above as a garnish that gives the drinker something to play with.
  • 2 oz. dark rum (Lyon Bijou Batch used)
  • 1 1/2 oz. lime juice
  • several dashes Angostura bitters
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • club soda
  • lime slice
  • swizzle stick 
Combine rum, lime juice, sugar and bitters in a highball glass with ice. Stir quickly with the swizzle stick and add ice while drink chills. Top with soda and garnish with lime slice and leave swizzle stick in the glass. 

Rum Daisy

As far as Daisies go this is not the most outstanding. It is, however, much like its family members, a light, strong, and pink drink. I still like the Canadian Daisy (all other types listed here as well) as the strange one with raspberries. But the Rum Daisy is the one I want in a beach cabana. There's nothing like the taste of rum when you are sunbathing poolside. Now that its almost summer, I can see the appeal of this drink.
  • 2 oz. light rum
  • 2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. grenadine
  • club soda
  • maraschino cherry
  • orange slice
Combine all ingredients except club soda, cherry and orange slice in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain over fresh ice in a Collins glass. Top with club soda and garnish with orange slice and cherry.

Rum Collins

There might be some debate if this drink is necessary. If all you have is rum and soda, though, it's pretty necessary. Lime juice is the only other substitute from the Tom Collin's lemon juice. Everything else is done the same.
  • 3 oz. light rum
  • 1 1/2 oz. lime juice
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • club soda
  • lemon slice
  • maraschino cherry
Combine rum, lime juice and sugar in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a Collins glass over fresh ice. Top with soda and garnish with lemon slice and cherry

Sloe Gin Fizz

This is perhaps the most famous sloe gin cocktail. It's like a sweet Fizz or Collins that has some distinctly gin-like flavors, but it also has a ruby red color and fruity taste that has nothing to do with the lemon juice. It's fun on a warm day, stronger than a Pimm's Cup and eye-catching to boot.
  • 2 oz sloe gin
  • 1 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. sugar syrup
  • soda
  • lemon slice
Combine all ingredients except soda and lemon slice in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a Collins glass over fresh ice. Fill with soda and stir. Garnish with lemon slice.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Bourbon Sloe Gin Fizz

Bourbon differentiates this sloe gin fizz from the other fizz drinks that fortify sloe gin with more gin. I loved the inviting color of this cocktail, so cherry red it was unbelievable. But that's what an ounce of sloe gin will do to a drink. It will also make your drink taste a little like cough syrup. After drinking half a bottle of sloe gin while suffering through a cold, I am amazed that I am struggling with the stuff now that my senses are back to normal.
  • 2 oz. bourbon (Four Roses yellow label used)
  • 1 oz. sloe gin
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. sugar syrup
  • maraschino cherry
  • lemon wheel
Combine all ingredients except cherry and lemon wheel in a shaker with ice. Shake and pour into a chilled highball glass. Garnish with cherry and lemon.

Barrow Blues

This must be a reference to Barrow Island off the coast of New Zealand. That funky industrial place where workers had to fly to and home from on commute. There's even a Paul Hunt song called Barrow Island Blues. This is a simple drink, a dive bar special, that I spruced up a bit to make more attractive and to connect it with tiki style drinks of Pacific islands.

To that end, I used crushed ice and a few garnishes I had on hand. Strawberry and mint are especially fitting with the color. I thought about serving it in a tiki mug, but the color is too important to hide.
  • 1 oz. blue curacao
  • 1/2 oz. light rum
  • 1/2 oz. dark rum
  • 1 1/2 oz. pineapple juice
  • 1 tsp. coconut cream
  • fruit garnish and mint
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled rocks glass full of crushed ice. Top with more crushed ice and decorate with fruit and mint.