Sunday, October 30, 2016

Tequila Ghost

Just in time for Halloween, the Tequila Ghost swoops in to elevate the season with herbal and licorice flavors that you won't find in your trick-or-treat bag. This is a relatively simple cocktail that is strong on flavor, so something to sip slowly at a Halloween party. The Pernod is a translucent green that becomes eerily whitish when shaken with lemon juice. You have to love the creepy look of this cocktail if not the strong anise flavor.

(Ghosts dance in the background of this photo.)

  • 2 oz. silver tequila
  • 1 oz Pernod
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
Shake all ingredients on ice in a shaker and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

Monday, October 24, 2016

Whiskey Sling

The Whiskey Sling is a blended whiskey drink, but all I had was bourbon, Cleveland Bourbon, that is. A sling, it seems, is a "helpmate" cocktail. These drinks, like Fixes and Fizzes, are designed to help soften a spirit and get it down your gullet in a hurry, hence the "sling" terminology.

One thing I found fascinating about the Whiskey Sling--and it's the reason it differs from a Whiskey Sour--is it's preparation precludes chilling. I'm not sure why, but the idea is to have a rocks drink that is still pretty warm when served, which melts the ice cubes just as if it was all room temperature hard liquor. But it isn't; it's juice and sugar and a little water, which is easy to drink.

A word about Cleveland Bourbon. It's isn't really bourbon, but it is probably a straight whiskey. The Sling calls for a blend for the obvious mixability of blends. But Cleveland Bourbon is a "black label" of the brand, distilled in Indiana and rapidly aged in Cleveland. It can't be bourbon because of its origins and rapid aging process, but it is very much in the style of bourbon, perhaps more than most American whiskies like Jack Daniels.
  • 2 oz. blended whiskey (Cleveland Bourbon used)
  • 1 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. fine sugar
  • 1 tsp. water 
  • orange twist
Combine water and sugar in a mixing glass and stir until sugar is dissolved. Add whiskey and lemon juice and stir. Pour over ice in an Old Fashioned glass. Garnish with the orange twist and give one more gentle stir. 

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Vanity Fair

This is a very opulent cocktail in terms of ingredients, not presentation. It has a jumbled and dessert-like quality that reminds me of tiramisu. It's not that the drink tastes creamy, it is just that there are many things going on, and all of them contribute to a general flavor direction, but some flavors contend with each other for your attention. It's best not to have too much of this drink, as it becomes cloying after a few sips.

Laird's Apple Brandy, Kammer Kirschwasser, Lazzaroni Amaretto, and Luxardo maraschino liqueur make this cocktail a heavily sweet brandy and cordial cocktail. I recommend splitting the glass up into three shots to be shared with a holiday dessert. 
  • 2 oz. apple brandy
  • 1 oz. kirschwasser
  • 1/2 oz. maraschino liqueur
  • 1 tbsp. amaretto
Combine all ingredients except amaretto in a mixing glass with ice (the NY Bartender's guide says to shake, but don't) and stir. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Float amaretto on top. 


This is a quintessential Italian cocktail, and it is very European in general. Europeans tend to enjoy vermouth in large quantities, mixing it with sugar and citrus. They don't like their drinks too strong, but richness and complexity are the general rule.

It's a multi-layered drink with citrus nose and orange spice, marzipan sweetness and a dry and herbaceous wine center. Ferrari is an appropriate name for such a designer Italian cocktail. It gets good flavor traction on the tongue and moves fast.

There's a series of car drinks including the [Golden] Cadillac, Monte Carlo, Roles Royce, and Bentley. Check them all out on my blog.    
  • 2 oz. dry vermouth (Mancino used)
  • 1 oz. amaretto (Lazzaroni used)
  • dash orange bitters (homemade bitters used)
Build cocktail in an Old Fashioned glass full of ice. Stir well and twist lemon peel over the glass before dropping it in. 


If your godmother is Russian or Italian, then this is a good comfort drink for you. Actually, it is an offshoot of the Godfather, which is a scotch and amaretto cocktail of larger proportions. With that one, amaretto softens and sweetens the scotch. For this cocktail, the amaretto is the expensive ingredient and it is blended down by a larger component of vodka.

It's a great holiday drink that's rich and tastes like amaretto cookies and nothing else. I used Stolichnaya vodka, which is very pleasant and mild. The whole effect is like sipping marzipan.
  • 2 oz. vodka (Stolichnaya used)
  • 1 oz. amaretto (Lazzaroni used)
Build drink in an Old Fashioned glass full of ice and stir well. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Fox River Cocktail

This is a wonderfully rich and spicy cocktail for fall. Mad River Revolution Rye makes a perfect base for a "River" drink, not to mention that it is strong and flavorful. Mad River Distillery makes rum, bourbon and apple brandy, but it's rye is probably the best product in the line. It has a heavy bitterness similar to dark chocolate or coffee beans. This works well with creme de cacao, which smooths the edges, and Hella aromatic bitters add even more baking spice flavors. Even a lemon twist brings it together in the way a lemon twist works for espresso.

I am re-reading Cooper's The Last Of The Mohicans again, and the Fox River Cocktail, with Mad River rye, which comes from a distillery in Vermont--near the setting of the novel--is a great companion cocktail. Consider the villain Le Renard Subtile (Subtle Fox) who throughout the novel seeks revenge on the heroes. His bitterness effects the reader in the way this New World drink affects the drinker.
  • 2 oz. rye (Mad River Revolution Rye used)
  • 1/2 oz. creme de cacao
  • 3-5 dashes Angostura bitters (Hella aromatic bitters used)
  • lemon twist
Combine liquid ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass (coupe is a good size) and garnish with lemon peel.

Perfect Manhattan

I've not made a Perfect Manhattan for this blog yet, but I mentioned it in the original Manhattan entry. The thing is, it's not that different from an ordinary Manhattan, but I've not had a Manhattan in so long because I don't want to waste liquor or my liver on a drink I've already had. The exception, however, is that I have good rye now, not just blended whiskey, which makes all the difference. I also have aromatic bitters, not Peychauds. So the drink is very different from the DIY and amateur Manhattan and a Perfect Rye Manhattan.
  • 3 oz. rye (Catoctin Creek used)
  • 1/2 oz. sweet vermouth (Antica Formula used)  
  • 1/2 oz. dry vermouth (Mancino used)
  • 3 dashes Angostura bitters (Hella aromatic used)
  • maraschino cherry
Combine all ingredients except maraschino cherry in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with cherry.

Indian River

"Indian" cocktails tend to have raspberries or blackberries in them, even in spirit form. This one is made with my homemade raspberry liqueur that is made from fresh raspberries coocked, mashed and strained into sugar syrup. Vodka makes it a liqueur. This drink got great reviews, and I knew it would be good because of how much a fresh squeezed grapefruit juice can improve any cocktail.
  • 2 oz. Canadian whisky
  • 1/2 oz. raspberry liqueur (Chambord is acceptable)
  • 1/2 oz. sweet vermouth
  • 1 oz. grapefruit juice
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled Old Fashioned glass.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Canadian Cherry

I made my own cherry brandy for this cocktail, and I have to say it gives this drink that cherry flavor you loved as a kid. You know the cherry Skittles or Starbursts that you refused to share with your sibling or buddies when you opened a pack and started divvying.

I already had cheery Wishniak with vodka infused with cherries and sugar. I added a little kirschwasser and just a drop of Luxardo maraschino.

The rest of the drink falls out just as you expect. But because it is Canadian, you can't assume the bar has cocktail glasses. Canadians don't do cocktail glasses. Everything must be in a rocks glass, so here it is.
  • 2 oz. Canadian whisky (Black Velvet Reserve used of course)
  • 1 oz. cherry brandy (homemade version used)
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. orange juice
  • bar sugar
Coat the rim of an Old Fashioned glass with cherry brandy and dip in sugar to coat the rim in cherry flavored sugar.  Combine all liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into the glass.

Canadian Blackberry Cocktail

This is a beautiful drink in the model of the Allegheny and other blackberry and whisky cocktails with lemon. I think what I like most is that it is a simple and, might I say, Canadian presentation. "Put it in an Old Fashioned glass and let me drink it," says the Canuck. And I have to agree, it is an easy drink in a rocks glass with no rocks.

I've made my own blackberry brandy for this cocktail. I debated about which brandy I wanted to use as the base before deciding that the flavor I was going for was apple brandy, specifically Laird's. So I used blackberry jelly--seedless, that's key--and dissolved a tablespoon in about two ounces of apple brandy. Then I fine strained it three times to catch any large chunks.  

This is me pushing the apple brandy through the strainer.

Once the jelly is dissolved you get the sugars you need for the cocktail as well. Most store bought blackberry brandies are pretty sweet anyway and this means you can omit any simple syrup.

  • 2 oz. Canadian whisky
  • 1/2 oz. blackberry brandy (homemade blackberry brandy used.)
  • 1/2 oz. orange juice
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. bar sugar (omit)
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled Old Fashioned glass.

Canadian Old Fashioned

The Canadian Old Fashioned is not really an Old Fashioned in the bitters, sugar cube and stirring the cocktail in the glass sense. Canadian's, it seems don't have time for stirring, muddling sugar, and fussing over a drink. This is as much a virtue as a detractor, because I've enjoyed this little cocktail and made many similar lately for people I serve at my bar. It's cold, it's smooth and it goes down easy.

There's no maple syrup in the Canadian Old Fashioned, despite the trend of putting syrup in all Canadian themed drinks. No raspberries either. But orange and lemon twists are called for. I used Hella Aromatic Bitters but Angostura are just as good.
  • 2 oz. Canadian whisky
  • 1 tsp. triple sec
  • dash lemon juice
  • dash Angostura bitters
  • orange twist
  • lemon twist
Combine liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into an Old Fashioned glass and garnish with twists.