Thursday, June 30, 2016


Yorsh is a Russian way of spiking a beer. Because it combines vodka and beer, it is technically a mixed drink, so I cover it for this blog. I don't usually want to consume my vodka this way and I was wondering what conditions make a Yorsh appealing.

Then I had a really clumsy day at work. After breaking about $1000 dollars of merchandise, I was too afraid to handle bottles while drinking at home. The Yorsh is perfect for this situation. You need a beer and a strong drink and you don't want to have to fuss over it. Vashe zdorov'ye!
  • Beer
  • Vodka (about 2 ounces)
Fill a beer glass 3/4 full and add vodka to the top. Drink quickly.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Soyer Au Champagne

Think of this drink as belonging to a dessert class of cocktails. There's ice cream with creme de cassis or cherry brandy added as a topper or syrup. Then you can go all out with brandy, maraschino, triple sec and champagne. Throw a cherry on top for fun!

While you really won't get tipsy drinking these, you will have an excellent dessert. It left me wondering why drinks like this aren't dessert options at more restaurants. It could really make a comeback. The champagne makes a milky foam, and the liquid is sugary and potent. Then the ice cream freezes some of the champagne into sparkly crystals that melt in your mouth. It really is a sensational dessert, if not a cocktail.

  • 1/4 tsp. cognac
  • 1/4 tsp. maraschino liqueur
  • 1/4 tsp. triple sec
  • 2 heaping tbsp vanilla ice cream
  • champagne
  • maraschino cherry
mix cognac, vanilla ice cream and liqueurs together in a chilled wine glass. Fill with champagne and top with a cherry. 

Kempinsky Fizz

There was something appealing to this recipe that made me excited to buy a whole case of lemon soda. I think it was the specification of "bitter lemon soda" that did it. This was something a little old world and very much a cafe style drink, not a speakeasy slammer.

Again, a good creme de cassis makes a huge difference, making this soda drink taste like a fizzy fresh fruit pie. Vodka is as good as any spirit to strengthen the bite of the Kempinsky Fizz, but someone tell me who this Kempinsky is. The luxury hotels in Europe are spelled with an 'i', so that can't be it.

But wherever the name comes from, this is a refreshing drink for warm days on the patio.
  • 2 oz. vodka
  • 1 oz. creme de cassis
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice
  • bitter lemon soda
Pour all ingredients in a chilled highball glass full of ice. Fill with soda. Lemon twist garnish is optional.

Champagne Cocktail

So simple, it's really brilliant. The Champagne Cocktail is like so many fortified wine cocktails, but with the special distinction that it is bubbly. Much like the Old Fashioned, this drink starts with sugar and bitters and ends with a twist. It's perfect for celebrations.
  • 1 sugar cube
  • several dashes Angostura bitters
  • chilled champagne 
  • lemon twist
Add sugar and bitters in the bottom of a champagne flute. Top with chilled champagne and stir. Garnish with a twist. 

French '75'

The original French '75' cocktail seems to have been intended to pack a major punch. You won't see it served in a highball glass like this in restaurants, mostly because this much cognac and champagne amounts to two expensive and potent drinks in one. Presumably no one would pay such a steep price for one drink, and bar guests would get fall-down-drunk pretty quick if these were served.

So make this one at home. It's still as refreshing as it was in New Orleans before prohibition hit, and it is just as intoxicating as ever now. Good cognac really amounts to a richer and more interesting drink, as does the use of quality champagne. Then you are really pushing this drink into a super deluxe category of cocktails. It might easily be possible to order a Remy Martin Louis XIII French '75' with a very rare vintage champagne and pay somewhere around $700 dollars for it. But Remy Martin Louis XV and cava will do just fine for me.
  • 2 oz. of cognac
  • 1 tbsp. sugar syrup
  • 1 oz. lemon juice
  • champagne or sparkling wine
  • lemon twist
Combine cognac, lemon juice and sugar in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a highball glass full of fresh ice. Top with champagne and garnish with a lemon twist. 


There are several champagne drinks out there involving brandy (or cognac, which I think was the originally intended ingredient), but the Chicago seems to have almost all of the components of the best of them. It's a pretty cocktail and I'm not sure why it is named Chicago except that it's architecture is pretty classical. There's an ornate sugar rim, a half slice of lemon on the glass, and the lines are very early-20th-century modern in a coupe glass.

There's something fussy and old-style about drinking a champagne and cognac drink as a cocktail, something that seems seldom done since the end of World War II. If you have the ingredients, just go with it. It will make you more sophisticated.
  • 2 oz. brandy (Courvoisier VS used)
  • several dashes of triple sec
  • several dashes angostura bitters
  • sugar
  • lemon slice
  • champagne or sparkling wine
Combine brandy, triple sec and bitters in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a coup glass or wine goblet with a sugar coated rim. Top with champagne and garnish with lemon slice.

Kir Royale

So I'm seeing this drink's popularity on the rise again lately. The unfortunate thing is that it isn't because people are discovering quality creme de cassis. I think it has to do with douchy guys doing douchy things with their champagne. I'm sorry, if you make a Kir Royale with Chambord, it's not a Kir Royale. (I've wasted half a bottle of champagne and very good French creme de cassis on a table of guys who were disgusted with the flavor and kept asking me to re-make the drink, only to find out that they wanted Chambord!)

Good creme de cassis like this G. E. Massenez from Dijon are made from real black currants and have a thick creamy texture. In large portions, it gives a drink the flavor of blueberry pie, with is really great if you want a sweet drink. That's what the Kir Royal is. A pie flavored fizzy drink that is great for dessert but very high in sugar content. Champagne or sparkling wine distinguishes the Royal from the ordinary Kir made with wine.
  • 2 oz. Creme de Cassis
  • Champagne. 
Build drink in a champagne flute. Top with chilled champagne. 

London French '75'

This is the British version of the classic French '75.' The idea being that gin makes this champagne cocktail British while Cognac would be the spirit of the French originator. The London French '75' is the most popular of the two today as gin is far and away the crowd pleasing clear spirit at the dawn of the classic cocktails revival. Cognac is still the brown spirit that people know least about, except that old folks seem to like it in a snifter or with a scoop of ice cream. That's for another time, though.

The coupe glass is ideal for the French '75' drinks as it holds more liquor than a flute. And that's a good thing too. These old recipies call for 2 ounces of strong spirit, not the 3/4 oz. you'll find at bars today. Be careful when you make this one. It hits pretty hard.
  • 2 oz. London dry gin
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • champagne or sparkling wine
Combine all ingredients except champagne in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled coupe or champagne glass. Fill with chilled champagne. 

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Smoked Maple Old Fashioned

Not actually the oldest drink in the lexicon, the Old Fashioned hearkens back to days where bitters were in regular use and whiskey was the king spirit in America. It's been about eighty years since then and you will find Old Fashioned cocktails being ordered non stop at the top bars in D.C. This is one you will be lucky to experience either at home or at a bar with an extensive whiskey list.

I decided that Knob Creek's smoked maple bourbon would make an awesome addition to the traditional (not fruit laden) Old Fashioned. The whiskey is sweet enough itself not to require a cherry or whole orange slice, but it is also strong enough to make this double sized drink fit for a king.
  • 2 oz. blended whiskey
  • 1 1/2 oz. Knob Creek smoked maple bourbon
  • 1 brown sugar cube
  • several dashes angostura bitters
  • lemon peel
  • splash of water
Build drink in a double Old Fashioned glass with sugar cube and a splash of water. Muddle mixture until the sugar is dissolved in the water. Add whiskeys and ice and stir until chilled. Squeeze lemon peel over the drink and drop in.

Chapel Hill

Just the other night a guest requested a Chapel Hill. There was some trepidation between the servers and other bartenders, but I stepped up. After all, I lived in the Raleigh-Durham region for three years and made the Chapel Hill many times for myself and others as a regional delicacy.

Curacao makes the cocktail more drinkable, less bitter and fiery with alcoholic heat, than many bourbon cocktails. This is a citrus--orange particularly--cocktail with a fat orange peel to remind you that nothing is so bad that a little sugar and fruit can't make it better.
  • 2 oz. bourbon (Four Roses yellow label used)
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. white curacao
  • orange slice
Combine liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with orange slice.


A bittersweet Manhattan-like cocktail, the Trilby is best made with the finest ingredients. Basil Hayden bourbon is rye-heavy and spicy, as is Antica Formula vermouth. Throw in several dashes of Angostura bitters and you have a complex and tasty before dinner cocktail that's good looking and luxurious to drink.
  • 3 oz. bourbon (Basil Hayden used)
  • 1 oz. sweet vermouth (Antica Formula used)
  • several dashes of Angostura bitters
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a cocktail glass. (Coup glass shown).

Coco Loco

Another classic tiki drink, but this one has the extra challenge of making it in a fresh coconut and using the milk that you find inside when you open it. This is no small feat. Coconut shells are really hard and you risk losing the milk if you go about opening it too quickly.

Coco Loco is mostly a tequila drink, or at least that's the dominant spirit, as the name suggests. But you get this great natural coconut water flavor and scent that is nothing like the coconut rums out there that taste like coconut scented sunscreen smells. This is more earthy and vegetal. Try these steps to open the coconut. Once you accomplish this, go about making the drink.  

 1. Use a handsaw to score a circular groove around the top end of the coconut (the skinny side with the three dimples. This will make a sort of lid. The groove should be at least 1/8 inch deep or more. If the coconut does not naturally rest with this side up, you may want to level it by shaving off a flat spot on the bottom for it to stand on.

2. Using a hammer and chisel (or regular screwdriver) tap the grove until you puncture the shell in several places along the grove line. You should be able to pry off the lid without spilling the milk inside.
3. Combine these ingredients in a shaker with ice and strain into the coconut, which you should pack with crushed ice.
  • 2 oz. silver tequila
  • 1 oz. gin
  • 1 oz. light rum
  • 1/2 oz. sugar syrup
  • juice of 1/2 lime
4. Decorate coconut with tiki trappings like straws, swizzles, umbrellas, etc. This amazingly affects the enjoyment of the drink. I chose a pirate's chest theme for my Coco Loco.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Love Cocktail

This is one drink that seems to live up to its name pretty well. It has a great fruity flavor and color and an awesome pink egg foam that is fun to sip through. The coupe glass really does the foam justice, too.

The thing about sloe gin is that it can get sickeningly sweet pretty quickly. Lemon juice balances that, and raspberry syrup gives the sweetness another direction that takes your taste buds away from that Icee syrup taste (you know, that red slush drink at amusement parks). So, while this was a sweet dessert drink, and not too strong, I still appreciated the thickness of the mouthfeel and the tickle of foam bubbles that seem to slosh around in corners of the rounded glass like pink caviar when the drink is empty. This cocktail is a gooey kind of love.
  • 2 oz. sloe gin
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 3/4 oz. raspberry syrup
  • 1 egg white
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with no ice and shake until well mixed and foamy. Add ice and shake until cool. Pour into a chilled cocktail glass (coupe glass preferred.)

Thursday, June 16, 2016


I used my homemade raspberry syrup to make the Belmont, a creamy gin drink with raspberry sweetness. Interestingly it was fairly dry for a dessert drink and you almost didn't notice the cream except that it made the drink white. Pink, really... This is a New York cocktail, like the Cosmopolitan and therefore must have a little red coloring of some kind.

Dry gin and homemade raspberry syrup with its jam-like flavor gave the Belmont an old colonial style flavor and mouthfeel. That's why I was glad to use my new coupe glass for this entry. I can't say I liked the Belmont all that much, but I'm not a dessert drink drinker. I tried to pair it with cookies, but it was really dry and spicy, so it might actually do better as a before dinner drink.
  • 2 oz. gin
  • 1/2 oz. raspberry syrup
  • 3/4 oz. half and half
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Kirsch Rickey

Kirsch is a very versatile spirit. Unlike maraschino liqueur or aged cherry brandies, it can be used as a base for a drink without it overwhelming your senses with bitterness or sweetness. Kammer Kirsch is 95 proof, too. A little goes a long way, but it's flavor is akin to tequila or light rum. So you can treat it like vodka, but you get something with taste--a dry, dark and somewhat bitter black cherry flavor that won't add sugar. That means it is ripe for the refreshing Rickey.
  • 2 oz. kirschwasser
  • 1 tbsp. lime juice
  • club soda
  • two pitted black cherries (maraschino used)
Build drink in a highball glass filled with ice with lime and kirsch first. Top with soda and stir gently. Add black cherries for garnish.


I wasn't sure if this cocktail was an allusion to the Soviet intelligence agency or some other acronym. I decided it was the latter because of the ingredients: kirsch, gin, and brandy. Then I looked more closely at the recipe and it is apricot brandy that the recipe called for, so that would make it a KGAB--not as cool sounding. Maybe this is a drink about the communists after all. Having no apricot brandy, and knowing how that stuff tends to have an almost body wash like scent, I opted for apple brandy. The combination I chose was strong and liquor scented with a little oakiness from the Laird's apple brandy and Bluecoat barreled reserve gin. Kirsch was what stood out, with that familiar cherry scent.
  • 3/4 oz. kirschwasser
  • 2 oz. gin (Bluecoat barrel reserve used)
  • 1/2 tsp. apricot brandy (Laird's apple brandy used)
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

Cherry Fizz

Kirschwasser or kirsh is a clear spirit made from distilled cherry juice. The Cherry Fizz is a basic fizz that substitutes kirsh for whatever other spirit (usually gin) that you would make a fizz with. This is a tall drink and almost indistinguishable from a Collins except for that unmistakable funk of black cherry liquor. I used authentic German kirschwasser called Kammer Kirsch made from black forest cherries for this delightful summer drink.
  • 2 oz. kirschwasser
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • club soda 
  • maraschino cherries
Combine sugar, kirschwasser, and lemon juice in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a Collins glass full of fresh ice. Top with cold club soda and add cherries for garnish.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Aperol Spritzer

Aperol is an Italian amaro that's a little sweeter than its big brother, Campari. The Aperol Spritz is a champagne cocktail that's perfect for cafe sipping. Not too sweet, with rhubarb and grapefruit-like flavors, it doesn't get old and the alcohol content is light enough to have several sessions of the same drink.
  • 2 oz. Aperol
  • 3 oz. champagne or sparkling wine
  • 1 oz. club soda
  • orange slice
 Build cocktail in a highball glass full of ice. Add Aperol, champagne and soda. Stir gently and garnish with orange slice.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Happy Apple

This drink is happily refreshing and one of the better cider cocktails out there. Of course the original recipe was intended to fortify cloudy farm squeezed cider. I changed it up and used Angry Orchard's crisp apple cider. It is hard cider with a nice sweet sparkle. The presence of Lyon rum in my version means that there is a caramel aspect that also fits with cider.

Incidentally, this is the first drink made at my new condo, so there's a new background and drinking. I'm looking forward to doing a lot more drinks at my new home.
  • 2 oz. gold rum (combined Lyon dark rum with equal parts light rum)
  • 3 oz. cider (Angry Orchard Crisp Apple used)
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • lime peel
Build drink in an Old Fashioned glass with ice and liquid ingredients. Stir gently and garnish with lime peel.

Dark And Stormy

The cocktail world hasn't seen a well-marketed drink like this take over the bar scene lsince the Moscow Mule. It's interesting that the Dark And Stormy and the Moscow Mule were products of marketing campaigns and both are made with ginger beer. There's something to the simplicity of the Dark And Stormy that makes it so successful. Just open a can of ginger beer and you have a nice black rum drink that's refreshing for summer drinking.

Like Smirnoff's launch of the Moscow Mule in the 1950s, Gosling's proprietary cocktail is supposed to be made with rich black Gosling's rum. Goslings even makes a ginger beer so that they have a monopoly on the ingredients. The Dark And Stormy has staying power, but I can't imagine it will remain solely a Gosling's drink in the same way that no one thinks of Smirnoff when making a Moscow Mule.
  • 2 oz. dark rum
  • ginger beer
  • 2 lime slices
Fill a highball glass with ice and ginger beer, leaving about 2 inches at the top for dark rum. Float dark rum on top and squeeze one lime slice over the drink. Garnish with the other lime slice.