Monday, April 23, 2018


I forgot how delicious a Kamikazi is when made with quality vodka. Three ounces of vodka, in such large proportion to the other ingredients, really makes the vodka you choose a main feature of the drink. I enjoyed sipping a Divine Clarity Kamikazi with it's 100-percent potato vodka. This is a really clean vodka that is still produced in small batches. You can find it in Virginia ABC stores now, but if you can't get MurLarkey spirits, make sure you use a good vodka. That will keep this drink from sliding back to the pre-craft era of the 90's when bad cocktails were the norm.
  • 3 oz. vodka (Divine Clarity used)
  • 1/2 tsp. lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp. triple sec
  • lime wedge
Combine liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the lime wedge. 

Polynesian Cocktail

The Polynesian Cocktail is really an attempt at making a cocktail taste tropical with traditional bar ingredients. There are no native Polynesian spirits, so vodka is an acceptable base. The flavor comes from cherry brandy, which would be very rich if it wasn't for the citrus juices.

In the photo I'm paying homage to Duke Kahanamoku, the famous Hawaiian surfer, with this necklace of shells and coaster. These ideas are loosely connected to the theme of Polynesia. 
  • 2 oz. vodka (Divine Clarity used)
  • 1 oz. cherry brandy (Heering used)
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. lime juice
  • lime wedge 
  • sugar
Rim a cocktail glass with sugar. Combine liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the lime wedge.

Gumdrop Martini

This was a complicated drink with difficult-to-handle garnishes. Why? Gumdrops have a mind of their own, and I didn't want them just sitting at the bottom of the glass, even though that is a perfectly good serving suggestion. The gumdrops do look beautiful on the edge of that sugar rim.

The 90's are responsible for funny ideas like the Gumdrop Martini, back when vodka drinks emulated candy and almost encouraged children to drink. (JollyBartender does not advocate for underage drinking.) It was the age of vodka and people's tastes were simpler then. Alcohol had to taste like candy to entice new drinkers. I know some people who have not evolved beyond this drinking trend. For this reason a 90's vintage bar manual will be full of vodka drinks with these kinds of flavors.

For this cocktail I made my own lemon flavored rum rather than use the Bacardi Limon that was common back in the 90's. This is a simple infusion of the zest of one lemon and four ounces of light rum. A ready-made alternative available in Virginia can be found in MurLarkey's lemon whiskey, which is made the same way but with a whiskey base. If you can get that, you'll also find that Divine Clarity is a suitable vodka at a decent price.
  • 2 oz. lemon flavored rum (homemade infusion used)
  • 1 oz. vodka (Divine Clarity used)
  • 1/2 oz. Southern Comfort (Bird Dog peach whiskey used)
  • 1/2 tsp. dry vermouth
  • lemon slice
  • gumdrops
  • sugar
Rim a cocktail glass with sugar. Combine liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into the glass and garnish with a lemon slice and gumdrops. 

Pineapple Lemonade

This is an easy drink to pull off with canned pineapple juice and lemonade, two common bar staples. I'm surprised how special it tastes, despite this. Pineapple Lemonade is the kind of drink that I want to recommend to beginner home bartenders.
Combine vodka and pineapple juice in a Collins glass full of ice. Top with lemonade and stir. 

Apple Pie

Unusually, I made this entire cocktail with bootleg moonshine. I can't tell you where I got the stuff, but it is a very small amount, as you can see in the jars in the photo above. Vanilla infused vodka is a major part of the flavor of this drink. I made it by dropping a vanilla bean in a jar of vodka and let it infuse for several days.

The apple brandy I used is actually an infusion of winesap apples in apple brandy (moonshine). I used this in place of Calvados, which also has a strong apple flavor. Either of these spirits is preferable to applejack, which doesn't have much flavor.

As it was, this moonshine cocktail was too strong to enjoy. I recommend adding a touch of simple syrup or even a splash of water to make it more refreshing.
  • 3 oz. vanilla flavored vodka (vanilla infused vodka used)
  • 1/2 oz. Calvados (apple infused apple brandy used)
  • 1/2 oz. dry vermouth
  • apple slice
Combine liquid ingredients in a Collins glass full of ice. Stir and garnish with the apple slice. 

Aqueduct Cocktail

This enigmatically named cocktail feels like it is trying to be European, but mixing a cocktail with vodka is mostly an American thing. More complex than a Lemon Drop Martini, the Aqueduct Cocktail has noticeably rich stone fruit flavor in addition to citrus. 
  • 2 oz. Vodka (Divine Clarity used)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. curacao
  • 1 tsp. apricot brandy
  • 1 tsp. lime juice
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • lemon twist
Combine all ingredients except lemon twist in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with lemon twist. 

Vodka Cooler

The Vodka Cooler is unusual in that it is one vodka drink that accentuates the flavor (little that it may be) of the vodka rather than trying to change it with syrups, liquors or juices. A quality vodka has a pleasant mouthfeel and richness, not just burn. It comes from multiple distillations and careful filtration.

MurLarkey Distillery gave me their Divine Clarity potato vodka to play with, and I am enjoying using it in non-traditional ways. This vodka recently won gold in the San Francisco Spirits Competition for craft vodka. They are still a small craft distillery and the quality of this spirit reflects this.
  • 2 oz. vodka (Divine Clarity used)
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • sparkling water
  • lemon peel
Combine vodka and sugar in a Collins glass full of ice. Fill with sparkling water and stir. Garnish with the lemon twist. 

Pink Lemonade

Pink Lemonade is a flavored vodka and lemonade drink. The New York Bartender's Guide suggests maraschino liqueur, but the better maraschino cherry liqueurs are colorless and will not make the drink pink as its name suggests. Cherry Heering is the obvious solution to this problem. It does make the drink a red-pink color and really increases the amount of alcohol in the drink.
  • 2 oz. vodka (Divine Clarity used)
  • 1 oz. maraschino liqueur (Cherry Heering used)
  • lemonade
 Combine vodka and liqueur in a Collins glass full of ice. Top with lemonade and stir.

Lemon Drop (Shot)

Sometimes a shot is just a shot. Vodka needs drinking and the flavors that follow are intended to help it along. The Lemon Drop shot predates the Lemon Drop Martini of the 90s. It is essentially a Tequila Shot but with sugar instead of salt.

The experience that this shot is selling is physical and it changes as you go through the motions. For this reason, it can't be called a cocktail; it is a serving suggestion.

Start with a quality shot of vodka--a 100-percent potato vodka like MurLarkey Distillery's Divine Clarity is a good choice. Place a pinch of sugar in the natural indentation between your thumb and wrist and hold a lemon slice in the same hand. Begin by licking the sugar off your wrist, then drink the shot in one swallow, and finish by biting and sucking on the lemon wedge.
  • 2 oz. vodka (Divine Clarity used)
  • sugar
  • lemon wedge

Monday, April 16, 2018

Fancy Brandy

People ask me to make a cognac drink that really shows off the flavor of the brandy. This Fancy Brandy cocktail really does this. It's really similar to an Old Fashioned cocktail made with brandy.

I originally hoped to do this drink with a rich American brandy, but not finding one that is suitable when the desire struck me, I opted for cognac. I was glad that I did. This will be the perfect drink that fits that guest request for the cognac drink. The portion is small, so rather than use a cocktail glass, I like to serve it in a sour or cordial glass.
  • 2 oz. brandy (cognac please)
  • 1/2 tsp. Cointreau
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 3 dashes Angostura bitters
  • lemon twist
Combine all ingredients except lemon twist in a shaker with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass (cordial glass pictured) and garnish with a lemon twist.


What a beautiful name for an amazing rum cocktail. Rum and tonic is not so bad an idea in itself, but all of these tropical additions really up the game of this rum and tonic drink. First, the recipe calls for gold rum--which is really more a description of a color of the rum more than anything to do with it's flavor. Cruzan rums only include the label stating "aged rum" no matter the color of the spirit. But just for fun I used Cruzan 151-proof and the silver rum to give this drink some richness and a real punch of alcohol.

There's also lime juice, maraschino liqueur and curacao in there to make things even more tropical. I used Q tonic for an especially rich and bitey rum cocktial.
  • 2 oz. gold rum (1 oz. Cruzan rum and 1 oz. Cruzan 151-proof rum)
  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp. maraschino liqueur
  • 1/4 tsp. curacao
  • tonic 
  • lime slice
Combine all ingredients except for tonic and lime slice in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled Collins glass full of ice. Add tonic and stir. Garnish with lime slice. 

Count Stroganoff

I've made this drink before. It has that unmistakable taste of lemon juice sweetened by creme de cacao. But the last time the drink had more lemon juice and possibly a gin base. This cocktail makes a lot of sense, it tastes classic, if not a bit too sweet, but there's nothing unplesent here. And that I think is the point of Count Stroganoff, a classic Russian-themed cocktail named after the famous Russian historian, art collector and philanthropist (Sergei Gregoryevich--I think) and owner of the Stroganov palace.
  • 2 oz. vodka
  • 1 oz. creme de cacao
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

Shark Bite

More shark drinks with grenadine, this one is a delicious frozen dark rum cocktail. Dark rum tends to have a sweet taste, and this drink goes further with sweetness, adding a whole ounce of grenadine. This might not be necessary. The orange juice does a lot to spread the tartness out, but for a boat drink, the Shark Bite is very nice.
  • 2 oz. dark rum (Pusser's British Navy Rum used)
  • 3 oz. orange juice
  • 1 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 oz. grenadine
Combine all ingredients in a blender with ice. Blend until smooth and pour into a chilled wine glass. 

Caribbean Champagne

Caribbean Champagne is a rummy sparkling cocktail with banana notes. You can do it with creme de bananes and light rum, but that makes the drink cloudy with sugar and yellow dye. Cruzan banana rum is sweetened and flavored rum that doesn't have any artificial coloring. Skip using light rum and just use the banana rum instead for a clear sparkling wine cocktail with Caribbean appeal.
  • 1/2 tsp. light rum
  • 1/2 tsp. creme de banana (use a whole tsp. of Cruzan banana rum for simplicity and clarity.)
  • champagne or sparkling wine
  • banana slice
Add rum and banana liqueur in a chilled champagne flute. Top with champagne and garnish with a banana slice. 

Devil's Tail

This is a final Devil-themed cocktail, notably a blended drink in a champagne flute with a curious green twist of lime peel. It looks devilish, but I imagine the name comes from it being a rum drink and the old slander for the spirit--Demon Rum!

I like that this light fruity cocktail can still have a rich center with a tasty rum like Buzzard Point by District Distilling Co. This panela sugar rum has a natural and unrefined taste of the fresh pressed cane sugar that it is made from.
  • 2 oz. light rum (Buzzard Point used)
  • 1 oz. vodka
  • 2 tsp. apricot brandy
  • 1/2 oz. lime juice
  • 2 tsp grenadine
  • lime twist
Combine liquid ingredients in a blender with cracked ice. Blend until smooth. Pour into a chilled champagne flute and garnish with a lime twist.

Purple Passion

I just wanted to begin with a rant against grape juice that is mostly apple juice. When the bottle says 100 percent juice, it doesn't mean grapes. That's why when you mix with it, the drink doesn't become purple like the juice.

This drink is quite nice, whatever the color. I'm sure it would be more purple if the juice was 100 percent grape juice, but I doubt it would be much different with four ounces of grapefruit juice in there as well.
  • 2 oz. vodka
  • 4 oz. grape juice
  • 4 oz. grapefruit juice
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled highball glass full of fresh ice. 

Shark Attack

I always thought that the Shark Attack was a showy drink that was supposed to look like blood in the water. Following the directions, though creates a pink lemonade drink that is pretty sweet. Not a bad drink but you lose that moment when you add the grenadine to make it look like blood in the water. Just thought I'd try this drink again to show it after it is stirred. For a look at the drink before stirring see my first attempt.
  • 3 oz. vodka
  • 1 1/2 oz. lemonade
  • 2 dashes grenadine
Build drink in a Collins glass with ice and stir. 

Tropical Cocktail

It may seem antithetical to suggest a tropical cocktail that has no juices and is composed solely of liqueurs. But this drink succeeds in being tropical--a sort of liqueur Tutti Fruity with no actual fruit. It is also sweet, with creme de cacao and maraschino liqueur. That doesn't make it a bad idea. Just don't make it your first drink of the night. It is suited to a dessert, much like the liqueurs that compose it.
  • 2 oz. creme de cacao
  • 1 1/2 oz. maraschino liqueur (use Luxardo)
  • 1 1/2 oz. dry vermouth
  • dash Angostura bitters
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Spanish Town

The Spanish Town is one of those quality liqueur cocktails that rests on an flavorless base. It is a way to spread out the good stuff and make it last in what becomes a much more potent drink. The specified liqueur in this drink is Cointreau. This deluxe orange liqueur is more complex and drier than budget brand triple sec. It is triple sec, however. Early bottles of Cointreau stated this at one time to avoid confusion--triple sec being one of the most prominent ingredients in all cocktail books.

This drink is very simple, and its simplicity will give it lasting power. You can go to almost any bar and order it if you know the proportions. Here they are.
  • 3 oz. light rum (Bacardi superior used)
  • 1/2 oz. Cointreau
Combine ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Black Magic

This drink, basically a Black Russian, can go two ways. It can be sweet and juicy or dry and bitter. I went for the latter as a contrast to the Black Russian. You can't do this if you use Kahlua or your sugary coffee liqueurs, though.

MurLarkey distillery gave me a bottle of coffee whiskey to use and I felt that this dry spirit was needed here. This whiskey is basically cold brew coffee infused white whiskey. So now the drink comes across as a cup of cold espresso with a touch of lemon. Add sugar to taste, just like espresso, but you won't miss Kahlua if you are a real coffee and vodka drinker. Here's to having both at once.
  • 2 oz. vodka
  • 1 oz. coffee liqueur (MurLarkey coffee whiskey used)
  • sugar to taste
  • 1-2 dashes lemon juice
Combine ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into an Old Fashioned glass full of fresh ice.


This cocktail will take some getting used to. Vermouth lovers, and I'm beginning to count myself as one, will like the wine-forward flavor of this drink. Rivata is much spicier than French vermouth that I know and love. There's a lot going on here, though. Orgeat for sweetness and grenadine for the color, as well as egg white and all of it blended until fluffy. This is not a cocktail that comes highly recommended. I'm more excited to have made this obscure drink that isn't sure if it is tiki, or a pre-prohibition classic.
  • 3 oz. dry vermouth (Rivata used)
  • 3-5 dashes grenadine
  • 3-5 dashes orgeat
  • egg white
Combine all ingredients in a blender with ice. Blend until smooth and fluffy and pour into a chilled cocktail glass. 

Palmetto Cocktail

This is one of the many rum Martini variations. It gets a punch of exotic flavors more from the amount of dry vermouth and bitters than anything else. A whole ounce of dry vermouth, especially a spicy one, makes this cocktail very much more like a wine drink with a strong alcoholic kick. The name though suggests a palm tree, a tropical landscape, and a rum cocktail among many.
  • 2 oz. light rum (Cruzan used)
  • 1 oz. dry vermouth
  • 3 dashes Angostura bitters
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

Ich Bin

I've been putting this cocktail off for a long time; the main reason is I don't want that much cream. But I like this drink in concept. Think of it as an Eggnog with apple brandy and Curacao. The color of the spirit and the addition of two ounces of cream make it fluffy white, and extremely rich.
  • 2 oz. apple brandy 
  • 1/2 oz. Curacao
  • 2 oz. half-and-half
  • 1 egg yolk
  • freshly grated nutmeg
Combine all ingredients except nutmeg in a blender with cracked ice. Blend until smooth and fluffy and pour into a chilled sour glass. Sprinkle nutmeg on top. 

Derby Special

Derby drinks are mostly juicy rum cocktails that are served up. This cocktail is especially fruity with Cointreau to boost that orange juice center. Think of the Derby Special as a Daiquiri meets Margarita.
  • 2 oz. light rum
  • 1/2 oz. Cointreau
  • 1 oz. orange juice
  • 1/2 oz. lime juice
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2018


If you want a light and refreshing and light, clammy cocktail--this is perhaps the only one in the New York Bartender's Guide that doesn't turn into a Bloody Mary. This bottle of Wild Irish that Glendalough distillery sent me last year is not only a bright and uplifting gin to use with clam juice, it is also apropos Irish like Co. Conemara's famous cocktail.

I kept my dash of Tabasco light for this one so I could appreciate the gin, which come across as extremely fresh. This is because the botanicals that Glendalough uses are foraged from the wilds around the distillery and distilled with the gin the same day they are picked. It can be said that the taste of this gin is an expression of the natural environment of Glendalough.
  • 2 oz. gin (Glendalough Wild Irish botanical gin used)
  • 3 oz. clam juice
  • dash Tabasco sauce
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into an (double) Old Fashioned glass full of fresh ice. 

Golden Hornet (Copper Hornet variation)

I've made this rocks drink with sherry before, but never with Amontillado sherry and never with American single malts. I'm back to using my gifts from Copper Fox to show what different directions these spirits can go.

Vir Gin gin and the Wasmund Single Malt whiskey mix very well together because they are made from the same single malted barley. The Wasmund malt is smoked with cherry and apple wood so it has the mouthfeel and nose of a robust scotch without the peat. It was an easy choice to ditch the carmel-tasting blend I used before (and the overly sweet blend of sherry). Now it is more reserved, a little more cohesive as a cocktail, since whiskey and gin don't usually mix so well.
  • 2 oz. gin (Copper Fox Vir Gin used)
  • 1/2 oz. scotch (Wasmund single malt used)
  • 1/2 oz. amontillado sherry
  • lemon twist
Combine gin and sherry in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into an Old Fashioned glass full of fresh ice. Float scotch on top and add lemon twist garnish.

Valencia Cocktail

Valencia is a large city on Spain's east coast. This cocktail is a little more refined than the Straight Law Cocktail with a bit more gin and a twist. It's the perfect size for a coupe glass.

Vir Gin, a gin that Copper Fox distillery gave me to play with, has a wonderfully malty and rich body that comes with its all single malt barley base. There's a ton of botanicals in it as well, including basil, rosemary, nutmeg, ginger, black pepper and lemongrass. It goes well with a little nutty and rich Amontillado sherry.
  • 2 oz. gin (Copper Fox Vir Gin used)
  • 1 oz. Amontillado sherry (Lustau Los Arcos)
  • lemon twist
Combine gin and sherry in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a twist of lemon. 

Straight Law Cocktail

The name of this cocktail suggests that this drink belongs to the "Judge" category of cocktails. These are usually a clear spirit served up with juices or wines. On second look, though, this is a simple stirred cocktail designed to spread out the rich nutty flavor of Amontillado sherry.

I chose to use ImaGination gin that MurLarkey Distillery gave me because it has a deep earthy character. You mostly notice the large proportion of sherry in this drink, but that one ounce of ImaGination comes through with botanicals like grains of paradise.
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

Monday, April 2, 2018

Cherry Cooler

When did a "cooler" begin to imply a cola drink? I've seen more than one cola "cooler," but this one stands out as the best. It has to do with Kammer Kirsch's high 45-percent ABV and its bright cherry flavor that is not unlike rum. Yes, this is just a cherry cola (Pepsi pictured), but it is also a good drink, specifically because of its simplicity.
  • 2 oz. kirschwasser (Kammer Kirsch used)
  • cola
  • lemon slice
Build drink in a Collins glass full of ice. Pour kirsch into the glass and top with cola. Stir gently and garnish with the lemon slice. 

Cafe Romano

As far as dessert drinks go, the Cafe Romano is one of those excellent mixes of liqueurs and cream that have been around a long time but are often overlooked.

Part of the reason this drink doesn't fly in the U.S. is the use of sambuca and our hesitance to mix with it, particularly with Kahlua. But the Cafe Romano is evidence that this works. Even people who hate the taste of anise (which is most Americans) have to admit that this drink mellows and improves the bitterness of sambuca.
  • 1 oz. white sambuca
  • 1 oz. coffee liqueur
  • 1 oz. half and half
Combine all ingredients with ice in a shaker. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.  

Bongo Cola

Yes, there is cola in this drink, so the temptation is to view it as a special Rum and Coke. It's more than that. Actually, the Bongo Cola is very tiki-themed. The ugly color of the liquid after juice and liqueurs are added almost requires a tiki mug (pictured left) just to hide the drink. But there's reason to put Bongo Cola on full display--namely it's surprising simplicity and unexpected flavor experience.

The recipe calls for gold rum, but I think any aged rum will do so long as it isn't heavily molasses flavored or spiced. You want the drink to taste light and fizzy, not like Christmas. I used equal parts of Cruzan 151 and white rum to achieve this, and that made it pretty strong.

My own coffee liqueur suffices for that rich cold brew coffee and coke flavor that's made in heaven. Kirschwasser is a curious addition that I think would be more effective if substituted with maraschino liqueur, but I have kirsch so I use it when directed.
  • 2 oz. gold rum (Cruzan rums used)
  • 1 oz. coffee liqueur
  • 2 oz. pineapple juice
  • dash kirschwasser
  • dash lemon juice
  • cola
  • maraschino cherry
Combine juice and liquors in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled highball glass full of fresh ice. Top with cola and stir gently. Garnish with the cherry. 

Imperial Cocktail

Sometimes a standard Martini isn't enough in terms of liquor or flavor. That's when you need an Imperial Cocktail. The word "imperial" implies lots of things in the world of drinks. Often it denotes an especially alcoholic drink. This is true here. There's a good punch of gin and a whole ounce of dry vermouth. Imperial also means richly flavored or something extra has been added. That can be witnessed with the dashes of Angostura and maraschino liqueur.

For this cocktail I chose KO's Navy Strength gin at 114 proof. That was enough to set this Martini variation over the top.
  • 2 oz. gin (KO Battle Standard Navy Strength gin used)
  • 1 oz. dry vermouth (Dolin dry used)
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 1/2 tsp. maraschino liqueur
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 


Like the Boomerang (previous entry) the Kangaroo is a Martini variation with a hefty amount of vermouth. Also like the Boomerang, there's some kind of allusion to Australia. I don't understand why. But if it looks like a kangaroo, and hops like a kangaroo, than it must be one.

This cocktail is made with vodka and a hefty dose of dry vermouth. I'm open to trying different vermouths, since the cocktail is mostly a wine drink and its flavor will be determined by the kind of vermouth you use.

Something nice about this drink is the ease with which it can be prepared. You only need three ingredients and a mixing glass.
  • 2 oz. vodka
  • 1 oz. dry vermouth
  • lemon twist
Combine vodka and vermouth in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into an Old Fashioned glass with fresh (large cube) ice. Twist lemon peel over the drink and drop it in. 


I like this Martini variation with a dash of Angostura bitters and maraschino liqueur serve to make it a little more special. There's a few of these types out there, so I guess the name suggests a recipe that keeps coming back.
  • 2 oz. gin (Plymouth used)
  • 1/2 oz. dry vermouth
  • dash Angostura bitters
  • dash maraschino liqueur
  • lemon twist
Combine all liquid ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a twist of lemon peel. 

Saturday, March 24, 2018

California Lemonade

So-named California cocktails usually have rye or blended whiskey and a combination of lemon and lime juice. I don't know why, but it seems to be a thing. Check out the Frisco Sour and the Los Angles Cocktail if you don't believe me.

For this drink, I wanted to land somewhere between rye and bourbon with my whiskey choice. Luckily Filibuster Distillery from Virginia makes The Boondoggler. It's a blend of their dual cask bourbon and rye. This drink goes down easily, and is made even prettier with that orange slice.
  • 2 oz. blended whiskey (Filibuster Boondoggler used)
  • 1 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • 1 tsp. bar sugar
  • sparkling water 
  • orange slice
Combine juices, whiskey and sugar in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled highball glass full of fresh ice. Top with sparkling water and stir. Garnish with the orange slice. 

Buddha Punch

This photograph is of Buddha Punch made as a single serving. This is my punch of the week at work and the large batch doesn't look that appealing in a large plastic container. But if you do choose to make this punch, it will come out fine according to the recipe from the New York Bartender's Guide from the 90's, which is for a crowd of about 20 people.

The fun thing about this punch is that it involves, among other things, a sweet wine base and champagne or sparkling wine top. It's pretty much a white wine punch with fizz, but there is a lot going on underneath. There's light rum, cherry brandy, triple sec and orange bitters. It's really a fruity punch!
  • 16 oz. sweet white wine like Riesling (Fox Run used)
  • 8 oz. light rum
  • 8 oz. orange juice
  • 4 oz. lemon juice
  • 4 oz. triple sec
  • 1/2 oz. cherry brandy
  • 1/2 oz. sugar syrup
  • several dashes orange bitters
  • 1 bottle of champagne or sparkling wine
  • lime slices
Pour all ingredients except champagne into a large punch bowl and refrigerate. Before serving, add a block of ice, stir and top with champagne.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Fare Thee Well

Fare Thee Well is the name of an old Celtic love song with the title repeated at the end of each verse. In it the singer is going away, maybe never to return, and he wishes his "Honey" a goodbye.

This bittersweet song is a great name for a cocktail that's made best with Glendalough Wild Botanical Gin from Ireland. This gin is so bright and fresh that it's floral notes are the main sensation in this Martini variation of a cocktail.

The blue-ish color of the liqueur is a result of the botanicals releasing into the ice-melt from mixing, as this non-chil filtered gin will do.
  • 2 oz. gin (Glendalough used)
  • 1/2 oz. dry vermouth
  • dash sweet vermouth
  • dash Cointreau
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 


This funny named cocktail is bizarre and pretty disgusting. You can tell that something bad will happen when you add so much lime juice and cream with creme de cacao and shake it. It will curdle into a brick, or so I thought.

The interesting thing about Liebfraumilch is that making the cocktail in the shaker does cause curdling, but on the micro level. The whole drink becomes like a foam. When you taste it, it reminds me of Greek yogurt with a chocolate and lime finish. It's actually not terrible.

But then I would never drink a whole one of these, and the idea that this drink being so mildly alcoholic makes it seem unthinkable. It is more of a treat that Europeans might give a child back in the old days when strange alcoholic formulas were given to colicky babies.

Which leads me a new understanding of the name: Liebfraumilch. This means the "beloved wife's milk" or, loosely translated as Mother's Milk. I'm almost certain that this is an old cocktail given to children.
  • 2 oz. lime juice
  • 2 oz. half-and-half
  • 2 oz. creme de cacao
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 


A fun tropical drink, the Chi-Chi is no more than a rum and pineapple juice mixer. The thing that stands out here is blackberry brandy used as a floater. For some reason you see blackberry brandy in tiki cocktails, used almost exclusively as a floater.

There are really no brandies made from blackberry juice. The flavor come from natural or artificial additives in a brandy or sugary liqueur. You can use these store bought versions; I made my own blackberry brandy by cooking a blackberry syrup and adding it to cognac. It's pretty smooth and fruity, and it is at least made from real stuff.
  • 2 oz. light rum
  • 1/2 oz. blackberry brandy
  • pineapple juice
Pour light rum into a highball glass full of ice (crushed is preferable) and add pineapple juice until it is almost full. Stir lightly and float blackberry brandy on top. 

Monday, March 12, 2018

Anatole Coffee

You can't go wrong with this list of ingredients used with iced coffee and prepared perfectly. This coffee drink is mild on alcohol and strong on caffeine, so enjoy it in the afternoon as a nice treat.

I did a few things that made Anatole Coffee especially nice. One was I used MurLarkey coffee whiskey, which is dry with no sugar. There's enough sugar in there anyway, but the coffee whiskey has a lot of real cold brew coffee flavor. Then I used coffee chocolate shavings that give off a great mocha scent and flavor in the whipped cream.
Combine liquid ingredients in a blender with cracked ice. Blend until smooth and pour into a chilled wine glass. Top with whipped cream and sprinkle chocolate shavings on the whipped cream. 


This cocktail comes across as a misguided attempt to combine a Strawberry Daiquiri with a Martini. Something like this could only happen in the 80s, I'm betting. I'm glad I tried it with Filibuster gin with it's unassuming presence--very mellow when you need it to be, rich when served up.

The thing is, I don't want blended ice or strawberry puree in my Martini, thank you. And there's this issue with the seeds...the Bloodhound is just wrong on many levels. The name, though is fitting.
  • 2 oz. gin
  • 1 oz. sweet vermouth
  • 1 oz. dry vermouth
  • 3 strawberries halved and stemmed
Combine all ingredients in a blender with cracked ice and blend until slushy but not watery. Pour into a chilled cocktail glass. 

Golden Slipper

Egg yolk and sweet liqueurs often blend well together--in a blender with ice. This is true of the Golden Slipper, which really uses golden ingredients to get a silky texture to a dessert drink.

I can't help but think that it would be even better with a little milk, though. As it was, the egg yolk was still very present and yellow Chartreuse just wants to stand out too much here. So this was a case of a blender drink with the ingredients fighting each other rather than being as silky smooth as advertised.
  • 2 oz. apricot brandy
  • 1 oz. yellow Chartreuse
  • egg yolk
Combine all ingredients with cracked ice in a blender. Blend until slushy and pour into a chilled Old Fashioned glass.


Amer Picon is an extinct liqueur. I was able to re-create it as best as I know how with one of the remaining Picon liqueurs known as Picon Biere. It is sweeter and not as strong, so I used only a quarter portion of this orange bitter liqueur for the total amount of Amer Picon called for in this very old drink.

So 1/2 oz. of Picon Biere, 1/2 oz. Amaro Meletti and a whole ounce of 100-proof vodka sufficed to make a bitter orange liqueur with the potency of the original Amer Picon. It's the closest thing I can come to an original that I've never had a chance to try.
  • 2 oz. Amer Picon (See substitute above)
  • 2 oz. sweet vermouth
Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

Amaretto Sour

This is probably the quintessential amaretto cocktail--the one at the forefront of everyone's mind. That's why I've been putting it off for some time. I like the more obscure, the arcane.

But as far as sours go, it is really easy. Take care to serve this up in a sour glass. Otherwise it will just be a Fix of some sort. There's only two ingredient and a garnish, so it's hard to screw up.
  • 2 oz. amaretto (Lazzaroni used)
  • 1 oz. lemon juice
  • orange slice
Combine juice and amaretto in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a sour glass. Garnish with the orange slice. 

Fairy Belle Cocktial

A belief in fairies is necessary when reading Yeats Celtic Twilight. It may be inspired by Glendalough Wild Irish Botanical gin in the Fairy Belle Cocktail. This drink is unusual among the many apricot brandy and gin cocktails in that it it has egg white but no lemon juice. It also has grenadine, so it is an Easter egg pink color.

I really liked how the Glendalough gin is so floral and fresh. There's a lot going on in this drink, and the last thing you want is for it to taste like a Christmas tree when it is going for spring scents.
  • 2 oz. gin (Glendalough Wild Irish Botanical used)
  • 1 oz. apricot brandy
  • 1 tsp. grenadine
  • 1 egg white
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

Farmer's Cocktail

What would be a spicy and herbal cocktail turns out to be a subtle "Perfect" Martini with bitters when you use Catoctin Creek Watershed gin. Catoctin makes a mild gin that is more suited to summer drinking, whether in tonic and soda or in a Martini. Here it mattered less what gin I chose, but I wanted to circle back to Watershed gin because I've been doing such heavy-hitting American gins. While lots of distilleries are using barley and barrel aging their gins for a flavor punch, Catoctin still makes this soft 100-percent rye gin that tastes very clean.
  • 2 oz. gin (Catoctin Creek Watershed gin used)
  • 1 oz. sweet vermouth (Cocchi de Torino used)
  • 1 oz. dry vermouth (Dolin used)
  • 3 dashes Angostura bitters
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

Lone Tree Cocktail

Ooh, I like this photo. The Lone Tree is pretty much the same style of gin and vermouth drinks like the Martinez, and so it is a Martini variation.

I decided to go with an aged gin, though. Filibuster Dual Cask gin fits the bill here. And the rest is pretty simple. I did opt to use my own orange bitters here instead of Hella orange bitters. This is because my orange bitters are extremely orange zest flavored with much less of the baking spices that Hella uses. I made these bitters so long ago--they keep forever--that I forgot what I used in them other than lots of orange peels.
  • 2 oz. gin (Filibuster Dual Cask used)
  • 1/2 oz. sweet vermouth (Cocchi de Torino used)
  • 3 dashes orange bitters (homemade used)
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

Slippery Nipple

I imagine that before there was the shot that was popularized in the 90s, this cocktail must have existed. It is harder to make than the shot, though, because it requires floating Bailey's on top of cold Sambuca. This works, though if you use the back of a spoon resting in the Sambuca. And if you chill the Sambuca in the refrigerator, it will be more dense than if you add water from shaking or stirring. (Don't do that.)

Rose's grenadine--and I'm sorry to say that there is a lot of chintzy 90s appeal to this cocktail that can only be replicated with chintzy 90s ingredients--is the only option to make the nipple tip. It sinks to the bottom of the glass, giving you a clear breast shape above it, coated with a creamy skin-colored float of Bailey's.
  • 2 oz. Sambuca
  • 1 oz. Bailey's Irish Cream 
  • dash Rose's grenadine
Pour chilled (refrigerated) Sambuca into a cocktail glass and float the Bailey's on top by pouring over the back of a spoon. Drop the dash of grenadine in the center. 

Plaza Cocktail

This is another of those heavily vermouthed cocktails. This one has equal parts of all three ingredients. I was going for a particularly Italian tasting drink, here. Cocchi sweet vermouth is the star. Italians are not known for good dry vermouth, or at least any that stands out so take your pick in that department.

The gin will be very downplayed at only one third proportion. So you can play it safe or use something with more character like MurLarkey.
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

Marsalatini (Original)

I was struck by a good idea to use dry Marsala in a Martini. It's not part of the NY Bartender's Guide, but it was too good to pass up. Hopefully this concept will catch on at Italian restaurants because it was amazing.

First, a little dry Marsala goes a long way. Not as grape-like as a sherry, Marsala is bitter and savory without the herbaciousness of vermouth. I used MurLarkey ImaGination gin and it lent a meatiness to the drink that I think comes from their white whiskey base. It almost has the feel of a fresh cane rum...I don't know. It's just a little more pungent than dry vermouth.

Then I used these great garlic stuffed olives. The effect was like having steak! Very satisfying.
Combine liquid ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with olives skewered on a cocktail pick.