Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Pumpkin Spice Old Fashioned (Original Recipe)

To make this drink, I made a basic PSL syrup with turbinado sugar and spices. This was a quick solution to flavoring the syrup of a classic cocktail. The other special touch for this fall drink was the pumpkin-shaped orange zest. I'll deal with the instructions for these first.

Pumpkin spice is really a combination of lots of spices from the tropical regions of the world. Combine in a saucepan 5 allspice berries, 5 cloves, 5 cardamom pods, 12 anise seeds, and a half cup of dark sugar like turbinado or demerara. Add 1/4 cup of water and stir on medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Once the mixture comes to a boil, remove it from the heat and allow it to cool. (I added 1 tsp. MurLarkey cinnamon whiskey because it adds flavor and preserves the syrup.

To make the pumpkin-shaped garnish, simply use a peeler to cut a broad zest from a large naval orange. Be careful not to get any pith--that is a sign you cut the peel too deeply. Use a sharp knife to cut the shape of the pumpkin from the widest part of the zest. (using a pattern cut from card stock may be helpful for those lacking artistic skills.) Cut out a Jack-O-Lantern face of your desire and save for the cocktail.
  • 2 oz. whiskey (MurLarkey Heritage used)
  • 1 tsp. basic PSL syrup
  • 1 dash aromatic bitters (Hella used)
  • pumpkin-shaped zest garnish
Combine all ingredients except garnish in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain over large ice cubes in a chilled Old Fashioned glass. Garnish with the orange zest.

Virginia Moss (Original Recipe)

Like the Spanish Moss cocktail, this drink combines coffee and mint spirits for a rich sipping cocktail on the rocks. It occurred to me that MurLarkey coco whiskey and coffee whiskey would taste especially good together with mint, and that creme de menthe would be all the sugar that the cocktail would need.

The visual effect is pretty. This is a very dark liquid with a greenish tint around the ice cubes that looks like moss growing on rocks. The taste was good too. Not too sweet or overly minty. The coffee and chocolate come through.
  • 1 oz. MurLarkey coffee whiskey
  • 1 oz. MurLarkey coco whiskey
  • 1 oz. green creme de menthe
Combine spirits in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain over large ice cubes in an Old Fashioned glass. 

Savory Tart (Original Recipe)

I came up with this cocktail for a guest who wanted a savory cocktail with basil. I knew immediately I wanted to use aquavit. The addition of MurLarkey ImaGination gin was an afterthought when I considered that basil is one of the botanicals in the gin.

The key to keeping this cocktail savory was to add a pinch of sea salt to the mixing glass. You don't notice it when you drink the cocktail, but salt really amplifies the herbaceousness of the spirits.
  • 1 oz. Linie Aquavit 
  • 1 oz. MurLarkey ImaGination
  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. simple syrup
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • basil leaf
Combine all ingredients except basil leaf in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain over a large ice cube in a chilled Old Fashioned glass. Garnish with the basil leaf.

Washington In-Cider (Original Recipe)

I needed a drink that would show off the flavors of Fall in Washington D.C., including local cider and spirits. MurLarkey cinnamon whiskey suggested itself quickly, but I also like the taste of rum with cider. Cotton & Reed dry spiced rum adds spicy flavor without overloading with cinnamon and baking spices. Between these two spirits, the farmer's market cider needed only a little sugar.
  • 1 oz. Cotton & Reed dry spiced rum
  • 1 oz. MurLarkey cinnamon whiskey
  • 1/2 tsp. brown sugar
  • non-alcoholic apple cider
  • apple slice
  • ground cinnamon
Build drink in a Collins glass with whiskey, rum and sugar. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Then add ice and top with apple cider and stir to combine. Garnish with the apple slice and dust it with cinnamon.

Passionfruit Daquiri

Ron Venado is a Guatemalan rum that is mild on flavor and a little sweet. I used it to make a Daiquiri with a passionfruit syrup I picked up at a bodega. This cocktail was especially pleasing to those restaurant employees from South America. The passionfruit and the rum itself were a little piece of home.
  • 2 oz. Ron Venado light rum
  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • 3/4 oz. passionfruit syrup
  • dehydrated lime slice
Combine liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Float the lime slice on the surface of the drink.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Pina Colada For Friends

I'm not sure why this cocktail gets it's own entry in the New York Bartender's Guide. The Pina Colada is a blender cocktail, so you can make a scaled up version of the single serving recipe if you like. But because it is listed in the book, I had to find an occasion to make the recipe that serves four people!

That is the reason why this is the last recipe in my quest to complete the New York Bartender's Guide 1997 edition. This has been a journey of more than four years, some of it frenetic during spurts of drinking activity and some of it drawn out as rare ingredients proved a challenge to find or make. All in all it has been an amazing journey and one that really made the mundane career as a bartender far more rewarding. It required me to go beyond the popular, the ordinary, and the safe. I had to create ingredients like Amer Picon, falernum, Forbidden Fruit and apricot brandy. I went on quests to find Lillet Blanc, Dubonnet Rouge, Pomelos, Batavia Arrack and Combier. And best of all, I learned how to make the most obscure and out of fashion cocktails just as the cocktail revival was underway, bringing these forgotten classics back to light. Now people ask for Aviations, Brookland Cocktails, and Swizzles and I can make them. So this goal, as arbitrary and costly as it was as, has enriched my bar-tending skill and my life.

Here's the final recipe of my long-awaited finale: the Pina Colada For Friends.
  • 1 cup light rum (Flor de Cana Extra Seco used)
  • 2 oz. dark rum (Pusser's Navy Rum used)
  • 5 oz. coconut cream
  • 10 oz. pineapple juice
  • 2 oz. half and half
  • 4 pineapple spears and leaves
Combine liquid ingredients in a blender with ice. Blend until smooth and pour into four chilled Collins glasses. Garnish with pineapple spears and leaves. 

Saturn (Smuggler's Cove Recipe)

The Saturn is another modern gin Tiki cocktail from the Smuggler's Cove recipe book. It is densely flavored, something that it's pale, cloudy look doesn't belie. The garnish--two lemon zest rings--seems to connect to the theme, while the flavor is the real attraction.

Falernum, orgeat, and passion fruit syrup team up to make this cocktail a transporting experience. I make my own Falernum, and the passion fruit syrup I used is from cooked down juice. I didn't make the orgeat this time, so Liber & Co. gets credit in the picture.

This is the final cocktail in this series with Roku gin, a very dry and floral gin by Suntory. I really dig the sakura blossom scent that is always noticeable when mixed, and the green tea flavor when you enjoy it neat.
  • 3/4 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. passion fruit syrup
  • 1/4 oz. orgeat (Liber & Co. used)
  • 1/4 oz. Falernum
  • 1 1/4 oz. dry gin (Roku used)
  • 2 lemon zests cut into wheels
To make the zests, use a zest tool or a knife to score the peel of a lemon: cut three circles around the middle of the fruit, about 1/2 inch apart. Using the tool handle or the blunt side of the knife, lift the peel off of the fruit being careful not to break the rings. Place the rings inside each other and rest them on the cocktail glass.

Combine all liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass with the lemon zest rings.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Max's Mistake (Smuggler's Cove Recipe)

Max's Mistake is similar to the Hinky Dink's Fizzy in its presentation in a snifter, and that it is a gin-based tiki cocktail. Again, I used Roku gin for it's dryness and floral botanical blend. A special change to the recipe came about when I got Fever Tree Bitter Lemon soda! You get the impression that this drink is a balance between sweet and biter, and this soda does that perfectly.
  • 1 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 oz. passion fruit syrup (homemade used)
  • 1/2 oz. honey syrup (honey diluted with hot water)
  • 2 oz. dry gin (Roku used)
  • 1 dash angostura bitters
  • 2 oz. lemon soda (Fever Tree bitter lemon used)
  • mint sprig
Combine all ingredients except mint garnish in a blender with ice. Flash blend and pour into a large snifter and garnish with mint. 

Bitter Lemon Collins

This was a wonderful find: the combination of Fever Tree Bitter Lemon soda and Ketel One Cucumber and Mint botanical edition. It's the perfect summer drink for rooftop or dockside sipping.
  • 2 oz. Ketel One Botanical Cucumber & Mint
  • Fever Tree Bitter Lemon
  • lemon slice
  • mint mint sprig
Build cocktail in a Collins glass by adding vodka, then ice, then topping with lemon soda. Stir and garnish with lemon and mint.

Old South Martini

Greet tomatoes are just so southern. On a recent vacation in Virginia, I picked up these Tomolives, pickled greet tomatoes. These Old South tomatoes look like olives, but the explode with dill pickle flavor. I had to make a vodka martini with these.
  • 3 oz. vodka (MurLarkey Divine Clarity used)
  • 1/2 oz. dry vermouth (Carpano dry used)
  • 3 Tomolives
Combine liquid ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with Tomolives.

Hinkey Dinks Fizzy (Smuggler's Cove recipe)

This cocktail is featured in Smuggler's Cove. It comes to us originally from Trader Vic's celebration of their fiftieth anniversary in the 1980s. A few things have made this cocktail a treat. I made passionfruit syrup specifically for this recipe and bought sparkling wine in small-format cans. I even got this stemless snifter that is large enough to hold this drink simply for the presentation.

But Roku gin is probably the best addition I made. It is very floral and somewhat bitter. Even mixed in this cocktail, you can taste or smell the cherry blossom botanicals. The drink has a great appeal with its blended ice and fizzy taste. Use a straw to drink this one!
  • 2 oz. sparkling wine
  • 1 1/2 oz. pineapple juice
  • 1/2 oz. lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. passion fruit syrup (homemade used)
  • 1/2 oz. apricot liqueur (Jaquin's used)
  • 1 oz. London dry gin (Roku used)
  • 1 oz. blended lightly aged rum (Flor de Cana extra seco used)
Pour sparkling wine in the bottom of a large brandy snifter. In a blender add ice and the rest of the ingredients. Flash blend and pour into the snifter. Garnish with a mint sprig. 

Grand Royal Margarita (With Royal Combier)

You know the Cadillac Margarita with Grand Marnier. This is a similarly rich rendition of the classic with Royal Combier, a cognac-based spirit flavored with oranges and Mediterranean spices.
  • 2 oz. gold tequila (Sauza Anejo used)
  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1/2 oz. Royal Combier
  • coarse salt
  • lime wedge
Place coarse salt on a saucer. Wet the rim of an Old Fashioned glass by rubbing it with the lime wedge and dipping it in the salt. Combine all liquid ingredients and sugar in a shaker with ice. Shake and pour into the Old Fashioned glass. Use the lime wedge for garnish.

Grayhound And Salty Dog (Revisited)

I've done Greyhounds and Salty Dogs before in different glassware and with other vodkas. This time I'm trying to hit on the rocks glass versions of these drinks. The Salty Dog (bottom) can be done up in a cocktail glass, but the New York Barterder's Guide uses the Old Fashioned glass rimmed with salt and sugar and full of ice. The recipes are basically the same after that.

This is the simple cocktail named after the Greyhound bus lines. It's refreshing and great when you need hydration and relaxation in equal measure.
  • 2 oz. vodka (MurLarkey Divine Clarity used)
  • grapefruit juice
Build cocktail in a Collins glass full of ice. Add vodka, top with grapefruit and stir.

Salty Dog
This pleasing variation adds sweet and salt to the original drink.
  • coarse salt
  • granulated sugar
  • 2 oz. vodka
  • grapefruit juice
  • lime wedge
Mix salt and sugar on a shallow saucer. Rim an Old Fashioned glass by wetting the edge by rubbing a lime wedge on it and dipping the glass in the sugar and salt mixture. Fill glass with ice and build the cocktail with vodka and topping it with grapefruit juice before stirring.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Captain's Grog (Smuggler's Cove Recipe)

There's a lot going on in the Captain's grog, the signature drink from the Captain's Inn at Long Beach, CA. It is really rich, a little sweet, and loaded with intense flavors. On the sweet side, there's maple syrup, falernum, and black rum. There's spice from the vanilla and almond extract, and a ton of citrus with lime juice, grapefruit juice, and dry curacao. I've used Vitae's Virginia hearty orange spirit with a rum base to substitute for the curacao.

Curiously, there an ounce of sparkling water thrown in, which is odd for a blended drink. I believe it is to help in the blending of the ingredients rather than to add fizziness. That all gets wiped out when you blend. But the sparkling water could help with spacing out the extracts and sugars. It also seemed to help create a smooth blend with a consistency in the size of the ice chunks.
  • 1/2 oz. lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 oz. maple syrup
  • 3 drops vanilla extract
  • 3 drops almond extract
  • 1 oz. sparkling water
  • 1/2 oz. falernum (homemade falernum used)
  • 1/2 oz. dry curacao (Vitae orange liqueur used)
  • 3/4 oz. black blended rum
  • 3/4 oz. blended light rum
  • 3/4 oz. blended aged rum
Combine all ingredients in a blender with ice. Blend and open gate strain into a double Old Fashioned glass. Garnish with swizzle sticks, umbrellas and fruit as you like. 


Avua cachaça mades an awesome Caipirinha cocktail, the native drink of Brazil. Though old recipes don't require lime hulls be poured into the glass, they do use them in the shaker with the sugar and spirit. The point, I think, is to make use of the bitterness of the lime zests and add chunky pulp to the drink. 

Originally, this cocktail would be built in the glass because bar tools would have been hard to come by in Brazillian cafes. Once the drink evolved to being shaken, the lime hulls would be shaken but caught by the strainer so that the drink could be served on fresh ice. But the revival of this cocktail and it's migration to the U.S. has meant that drinkers expect to see the lime hulls in the drink and bartenders still insist on shaking the cocktail to encourage the sugar to dissolve. 
  • 2 oz. cachaça (Avua used)
  • 1 lime juiced and its hulls
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
Juice a lime and add the juice and leftover halves to the shaker. Add sugar, cachaça and ice and shake. Pour into a double Old Fashioned glass.

Grand Royal Hotel

This is an unusual drink that combines rum, creme de cacao and light rum. The recipe for the Grand Hotel in the New American Bartender's Guide lists Grand Marnier as the orange spirit. Royal Combier is a similar cognac and orange spirit that also includes some complex exotic spices that distinguish it from Grand Marnier. Combier is less sweet, which is fine, and the spice notes match the flavor that this rum drink is going for: chocolate, orange, lemon and baking spice.
  • 2 oz. light rum (Flor de Cana extra seco used)
  • 1/2 oz. Royal Combier
  • 1/2 oz. white creme de cacao
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and double strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

Jet Pilot (Smuggler's Cove recipe)

The Jet Pilot sounds a little mundane in the 21st century, But Martin Cate reminds us that in the 1950s, these pilots were modern day explorers who pushed the limits of machine and human ability. This cocktail is also designed to push the limits--coming out of nowhere with a full-force of flavor, and overwhelming the drinker with a powerful belt of strong rums.

For this cocktail I used my own falernum rather than John D. Taylor's. I also made black, overproof rum by adding black strap molasses (right).  

Cinnamon syrup is also a must. I simply made it by adding cinnamon sticks to my usual simple syrup recipe. This goes great with the ginger, allspice, clove, and cardamon I used in the falernum.

One final note: Aguardiente is an anise flavored cane spirit from Columbia, which makes it perfect for a rum cocktail. It is great by itself, it's taste sweeter and more mild than absinthe or Herbstura. I used a little more than a dash because of this. 
  • 1/2 oz. lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 oz. cinnamon syrup
  • 1/2 oz. homemade falernum
  • 1 oz. black blended rum (homemade black rum used)
  • 3/4 oz. blended aged rum (Pusser's Navy Rum used)
  • 3/4 oz. black overproof rum (Homemade black rum used)
  • 1 dash herbstura (a drizzle of Aguardiente used)
Add all ingredients to a blender with ice and blend. Open strain into a double Old Fashioned glass with a gated finish to catch the large ice chunks. (No garnish stated, but flowers are lovely.)

Batida (de mango)

A Batida is a Brazilian cocktail that's similar to a Rum & Coke in that it is a simple rocks drink to mix. Beyond that, there are no similarities. Cachaça is a fresh cane spirit that is similar to rum except that it has a rich sugary taste. This drink adds a bit of tropical fruit juice and sugar to play up the Brazilian spirit's relaxed funkiness.
  • 2 oz. cachaça (Avua used)
  • 1 oz. fruit juice (mango/passionfruit used)
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and pour into a highball or Old Fashioned glass.

The Golden Gun

Sounding a lot like a James Bond film, this exotic cocktail from Martin Cate's Smuggler's Cove cookbook is an easy way to go Tiki with just a handful of ingredients. The key, of course, is good rum and fresh ingredients. Demerara syrup makes the sweet flavor taste more earthy and exotic. Apricot liqueur ups the fruitness, and the rum is all important.
  • 3/4 oz. lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 oz. demerara simple syrup
  • 1/2 oz. apricot liqueur (Jaquin's used)
  • 1 oz. blended aged rum (Pusser's Navy Rum used)
  • 1 oz. blended lightly aged rum (Flor de Cana extra seco used)
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
Fill a Collins or highball glass with cracked or cubed ice. Add all the ingredients to the cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake and strain into the Collins glass. Garnish with your choice of fruits, stir sticks, and herbs. (I chose a peach slice as an appropriate pairing with apricot liqueur.)

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Grand Royal Hotel (Original Recipe)

This cocktail, based on the Grand Hotel is a much needed update on the original. I wanted to best represent the recipe for the Grand Hotel, which I pulled of so sloppily in my original post linked above.

In this post I'm addressing my failure to use crushed ice in the cocktail glass when I first tried the drink. It was in part the fault of an amateur bartender. It is also a flaw in the recipe I found in the Poister New American Bartender's Guide, which confusingly calls for either using crushed ice in the shaker or a blender and then pouring the whole thing into a cocktail glass. Is this a blender drink or not?

A few liqueur-forward cocktails I've done lately show off the character of a spirit like Amaretto or Creme de Menthe by serving it on crushed ice. I wanted to do the same thing for Royal Combier, which has orange and the north African spices of the Elixir Combier in it. MurLarkey's ImaGination Gin is a good match for these kinds of spicy and sweet flavors.
  • 1 1/2 oz. gin (MurLarkey ImaGination used)
  • 1 1/2 oz. Royal Combier (Originally Grand Marnier)
  • 1/2 oz. dry vermouth
  • dash of lemon juice
  • lemon twist
Combine liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a cocktail glass full of crushed ice. Twist the lemon peel on top and lay it on the ice. 


I've made this cocktail before (I love this picture, too): the reason I'm bringing it back is that I love the ingredients I have on hand now. It completely changes the nature of this drink do do it with good brandy and Tempis Fugit Creme de Noyaux. This spirit is made with apricot and peach pits and almonds. It is very sweet and creamy, but it has a bitter and earthy notes that go well with a rich brandy.

Liber & Co. orgeat also makes this drink rich and nutty. I'm not sure what the flavor profile has to do with the faux Japanese-themed Gilbert and Sullivan opera, but I can better appreciate this drink as a complete, sweet and rich experience.
  • 3 oz. brandy (Asbach Uralt used)
  • 1/4 tsp. creme de noyaux (Tempis Fugit used)
  • 1/4 tsp. triple sec
  • 1/4 tsp. orgeat syrup (Liber & Co. used)
  • 3-5 dashes of Angostura bitters
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.


The Tantalus can be found in the Savoy Cocktail Book, but the spirit named Forbidden Fruit is no longer available for sale. You can get lucky and find a bar that has this extinct liquor hanging around, but you better believe that no one will let just anyone taste it. An original bottle of Forbidden Fruit is precious for research; bartenders comb over its color and flavor like archeologists, to try to figure out how it was made (see this article in Lost Ingredients.)

I thought at first that Copper Fox would be a good combination with my homemade Forbidden Fruit. I want to try it again with other gins to see how it plays with something more traditional. It was pretty good, however. I'm pleased with the balance between citrus and honey: Forbidden Fruit is very sweet with orange blossom honey and vanilla. And its unusual citrus flavor does stand out somewhat in this drink, but I think that the lemon juice overpowers the subtle notes of spice that I want to find in any drink that is intentionally crafted with a rare spirit.

Play around with this one; try different gins and proportions of spirits. I will continue to use Forbidden Fruit to find the best way to show of its merits.
  • 1 1/2 oz. dry gin
  • 1 1/2 oz. Forbidden Fruit
  • 1 1/2 oz. lemon juice
Combine all ingredients in a shaker full of ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 


Sangria is a classic wine punch that is enjoyable in warm summer months. It seems fitting that the Spanish with their hotter climate would have invented this drink as a way to enjoy a cold and refreshing glass of red wine with citrus juices and liquors. 

Now Sangria has evolved into many variations involving berries, white wine and even gin, but the basic recipe remains relatively unchanged. It is wine, orange spirit, sugar, juice and, in most cases, strong spirits.

For my recipe I used Campo Viejo Rioja (a real Spanish red) for authenticity, Asbach Uralt, a German brandy that doesn't taste like cognac, and Cointreau for the orange liqueur.

This is the recipe found in the Berk NY Bartender's guide, and it still holds up as an awesome sangria for porch drinks in the summer afternoon.
  • 2 bottles of dry red wine (Campo Viejo Rioja used)
  • 4 oz. triple sec (Cointreau used)
  • 3 oz. brandy (Asbach Uralt used)
  • 3 oz. orange juice
  • 2 oz. lemon juice
  • 2 oz. lime juice
  • 4 oz. sugar syrup
  • lemon, orange, and lime slices
Combine all ingredients in a large punch bowl and stir to combine. Chill for at least an hour before serving (but keeping in the refrigerator over night is even better). Before serving, add a large cake of ice. 

Pinstripe Suit (Original Recipe)

This was a moment of inspiration when I was enjoying local spirits used in Martini variations with local gin. I was looking for something that would use Copper Fox's Vir Gin, with its basil and anise flavors and malted barley presence, in a way that would enhance rather than try to downplay the unusual features of this gin. I settled on equal parts of gin, dry vermouth and Don Ciccio and Figli finocchietto liqueur. This infusion of fennel and dill is soft and rich and fairly sweet. It usually goes well with sodas and spritzes, but I wanted to taste it undiluted in this drink. Carpano dry vermouth suggests itself here too because of its bitter herbal flavor. Peychaud's bitters keeps the herbal, not spice, profile.

The overall effect is similar in scent and flavor to a new suit made of fine cotton. The experience of drinking it focuses only on these two senses--a drink to savor with your eyes closed.
  • 1 oz. Copper Fox Vir Gin
  • 1 oz. dry vermouth (Carpano dry used)
  • 1 oz. Don Ciccio and Figli finocchietto liqueur
  • 1 dash Peychaud's bitters
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

Dorchester of London Cocktail

This is one of those nearly extinct cocktails from the Harry Craddock cocktail book that was once served at the Dorchester of London Hotel in the 1930s. I found this recipe on an article about Forbidden fruit and wanted to try it with my own Forbidden Fruit recipe.

The Dorchester is my favorite Forbidden Fruit cocktail so far because it really shows off the complexity of the spirit without burying it in more citrus juice like the Biscayne Cocktail. Instead, a nice, floral gin like Roku is awesome in equal parts to the Forbidden Fruit. A smaller part of Cuban (I used Nicaraguan Flor De Cana) rum really helps to smooth the flavors out and add an round, aged mouthfeel.
  • 1 1/2 oz. dry gin (Suntory Roku used)
  • 1 1/2 oz. Forbidden Fruit liqueur (homemade recipe used)
  • 3/4 oz. Cuban rum (Flor de Cana extra seco used)
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

Friday, May 3, 2019

Bristow Brandy Bramble (Original Recipe for MurLarkey Distillery)

The Bramble has been a reliable summer sour drink for decades. Blackberry liqueur floated on gin and lemon juice in crushed ice is a refreshing combination. But it was rare that bars had blackberries back in the 80s when the Bramble was invented. Creme de Mure was the blackberry ingredient until the cocktail revolution occurred.

This a small break from tradition by using muddled blackberries and sugar for the natural blackberry flavor. The sherry is best when floated on top of the ice to add richness and oak.
  • 2 oz. MurLarkey ImaGination gin
  • 1 oz. E&J VSOP
  • 1 oz. cream sherry
  • 7 blackberries
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • mint sprig
Combine 5 blackberries, sugar and lemon juice in a shaker and muddle to break up the berries. Add brandy, gin and ice and shake. Double strain into an Old Fashioned glass full of crushed ice. Float cream sherry on top and garnish with mint sprig and three blackberries.

Banana Brandy Rose (Original Recipe for MurLarkey Distilery)

The most famous cocktail in the Rose series is the Jack Rose made with apple jack. These cocktails, which can be made with any spirit, are all sour drinks that are usually sweetened with grenadine. I thought that the unusual pairing of brandy with the rich flavor of MurLarkey banana whiskey would balance better than the Jack Rose. I wasn't wrong.

For one thing, I was going for the sweetness and pleasant flavor of the banana whiskey that makes it very drinkable by itself. The banana flavor pairs well with lime juice in an almost tropical combination. The brandy smooths out the whiskey notes and takes the drink in the direction of an aged brandy style of Rose cocktail. The drink was still sour, but far more interesting, providing in turns dried banana, spicy whiskey, and oak.
Combine liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the lime slice. 

Tea Time (Original Recipe for MurLarkey Distillery)

This drink takes its inspiration from the Ice Pick, a cocktail with the dubious intent of hiding alcohol in an innocent looking glass of iced tea. Using flavored spirits and sparkling water enhances that basic recipe: I wondered what would happen if the liquor tasted like tea?

MurLarkey makes Three Tea Whiskey that is infused with Earl Gray, Darjeeling and English breakfast teas. I like a raspberry iced tea, so Chambord black raspberry liqueur suggested itself. My thinking was that a really enjoyable summer cocktail shouldn't feel like a basic iced tea. It should be a treat for a special occasion, or at least turn a typical summer afternoon into a special occasion. This was a very special recipe.
  • 2 oz. MurLarkey Three Tea whiskey
  • 1 oz. Chambord
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • sparkling water
  • blackberry, lemon slices, and mint sprig garnishes
Combine whiskey, Chambord and sugar in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled Collins glass full of fresh ice. Place a lemon slice in the glass and top with sparkling water. Stir gently and garnish with mint sprig, blackberry and lemon slice.

Brooklyn Cocktail (Revisited with Homemade Amer Picon)

Manhattan has it's signature cocktail with rye. Brooklyn's is less well known, perhaps because it is more complicated and one of its ingredients has all but gone extinct. I've made this cocktail before with Catoctin Creek rye, but I used Picon Biere instead of Amer Picon--the hard to find ingredient. This time I did it with my homemade Amer Picon from a recipe that gets as close to the original as possible without going to France to get it.

The cocktail is exactly the same as the Quebec Cocktail (in slightly smaller proportions) but it is rye that centers the drink in New York not Canada. Using rye with such flavorful spirits is a good idea because it holds its own. You can taste the whiskey in concert with bitter cherry and orange flavors. The cocktail is rich but brighter tasting than a Manhattan, perhaps owing to the dry vermouth in stead of sweet vermouth.
  • 1 1/2 oz. rye (Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye used)
  • 1/2 oz. dry vermouth (Carpano dry used)
  • 1/4 oz. Luxardo Maraschino
  • 1/4 oz. Amer Picon (DIY Amer Picon used)
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. (Maraschino cherry garnish recommended.)

Italian Orange Fizz (Original Recipe for MurLarkey Distillery)

This attractive drink is refreshing and herbacious. It relies on two spirits that have an underlying vanilla note. Galliano is a rich Italian spirit with a saffron color. It contains a vanilla liqueur as well as an anise and herb spirit reminiscent of Italian Christmas cookies.

MurLarkey makes their orange whiskey with an infusion of orange zest and vanilla. The only thing this cocktail needs is more fresh squeezed orange juice and more fresh herbs (i.e. mint). This was a memorable innovation you can see below.
  • 1 1/2 oz. MurLarkey orange whiskey
  • 1 oz. Galliano
  • 1/2 oz. fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 7-10 mint leaves
  • mint sprig
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • orange slice
  • sparkling water
Add juice, mint leaves and sugar to a shaker and muddle to break up the mint. Add Galliano, orange whiskey and ice and shake. Double strain into a chilled Collins glass full of fresh ice. Put the orange slice in the glass and top it up with sparkling water. Stir gently and garnish with the mint sprig.

Quebec Cocktail (Revisited with Homemade Amer Picon)

I'm almost done with my cycle using Amer Picon I made with orange bitters, Combier and Rammozzotti. This drink is intended to bring together a very French ingredient (Amer Picon) and Canadian whiskey. This time I picked Crown Royal as a quintessentially Canadian whiskey.

The rest of the cocktail is very international with Italian dry vermouth and maraschino liqueur. It is still a big drink (in terms of proportions) and huge on flavor with several of the most heavily flavored spirits like Picon, Luxardo maraschino and this amazingly bitter Carpano dry vermouth. With all of that going on, the Canadian whiskey gets completely lost. It is as if the whiskey is a vehicle for combining all of the other bodacious spirits--which is exactly what Canadian whiskey does. Crown Royal is such a mild whiskey. Any time you see Canadian whiskey in a recipe, it is chosen because of its smoothness and mixability.
  • 3 oz. Canadian whisky (Crown Royal used)
  • 1 oz. dry vermouth
  • 1 oz. Amer Picon (DIY Amer Picon used)
  • 1/2 oz. maraschino liqueur
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Monahan (Revisited with Homemade Amer PIcon)

Whoever this Monahan guy was, he had a brilliant idea for a bitter Manhattan made with Amer Picon. Though I've made this drink before with Picon Biere, I felt that it needed another try with the Amer Picon I made myself a few weeks ago. It is more bitter and stronger than the sweet-ish liqueur you add to a glass of beer.

Cocchi Dopo Teatro also keeps things bitter with its amaro sweet vermouth with big vanilla notes to offset the deep bitter herbal flavors. The recipe calls for either bourbon and rye, so I chose neither: MurLarkey Heritage is a whiskey made mostly of corn and finished in wine casks. It has a bittersweet note to match the other ingredients, and I was very pleased with the revisited drink all around.
  • 1 1/2 oz. bourbon or rye (MurLarkey Heritage old country whiskey used) 
  • 1/2 oz. sweet vermouth (Cocchi Dopo Teatro used)
  • 1/2 oz. Amer Picon (DIY Amer Picon used)
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

Grape And Grain (Original Recipe for MurLarkey Distillery)

The idea behind the Grape and Grain is encapsulated in the name: a refreshing Spritz using grain and grape juice spirits like MurLarkey lemon whiskey and E&J brandy. With a touch of lemon juice and sugar, the drink gets additional roundness and balance from cream sherry, another grape spirit. The garnishes are designed to exemplify the two main spirits represented in the cocktail.
  • 1 1/2 oz. MurLarkey lemon whiskey 
  • 1 oz. brandy (E&J VSOP used)
  • 1/2 oz. cream sherry (Lustau Capataz Andres used)
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • red grapes
  • lemon peel curl
  • sparkling water
Combine sugar, juice and spirits in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled Collins glass. Add a few red grapes to the glass and top with soda. Stir gently and garnish with more grapes and a long curl of lemon peel.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Amer Picon Cocktail (With DIY Amer Picon)

This is my first attempt at this cocktail, not just the first one made with my homemade Amer Picon. I had been putting it off until I could make the Amer Picon myself rather than substituting Picon Biere, knowing that it would not be a balanced cocktail. If you can't make it with the real deal, it's just not worth bothering to make it at all.

There's a lot of lime juice in this drink, but it is perfectally balanced with sweetness and bitterness. Yes, it is still a sour cocktail in the style of a Jack Rose, but that doesn't make it a bad drink. In fact, I think it is a little better balanced than the Jack Rose because of the orange bitterness of Amer Picon.
  • 2 oz. Amer Picon (DIY Amer Picon used)
  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • 1 tsp. grenadine
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

Picon Fizz (Revisited With Homemade Amer Picon)

This simple Fizz recipe is much tastier with my homemade Amer Picon recipe made from orange peels, Ramazzotti and Combier. It is easy to make, unlike many egg white Fizzes (a proper Fizz in my opinion) but some drinks, especially light and refreshing summer cocktails begin and end with a liqueur (or Amaro in this case) and soda.

That said, there's a lot happening in this long drink. There's a very herbaceous liqueur, grenadine and a brandy top that keeps the flavor of grape spirit strong. For this time around, I chose hibiscus lavender syrup in place of grenadine. This was a good choice. More richness made for a better cocktail.
  • 2 oz. Amer Picon (DIY Amer Picon used)
  • 1/2 oz. grenadine (substituted RAFT hibiscus lavender syrup)
  • 1/2 oz. brandy (Asbach Uralt used)
  • sparkling water
Build drink in a Collins glass full of fresh ice with grenadine and Amer Picon. Top with sparkling water and stir gently to combine. Float brandy on top. 

Monday, April 15, 2019

Prince Street Cocktail (Original Recipe)

Old Town Alexandria needs its own cocktail associated with its colonial history, something classic and regal to contrast it from New York's Manhattan and Chicago's Southside. I give you the Prince Street Cocktail, named after one of Old Town's more pristine cobblestone streets.

This cocktail is based on the Bonnie Prince, a gin, Lillet Blanc and Drambuie cocktail of similar proportions. For this cocktail, I really upped the amount of Drambuie to add richness--look at that honey color! The flavor then becomes one of spiced wine, heather and old whisky. For the gin, I chose northern Virginia's ImaGination gin from MurLarkey Distillery. There's so much spice (Drambuie and ImaGination) and orange flavor(from Lillet and the twist), that Prince Street tastes as decadent as the Royal name it carries. 
  • 2 oz. MurLarkey ImaGination Gin
  • 1/2 oz. Lillet Blanc
  • 1/2 oz. Drambuie
  • orange twist
Combine all ingredients except for orange twist in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with orange twist.

(Ketel One Botanical) Cucumber Mint Martini

Now that Ketel One is making this Botanical series with infusions of fresh ingredients, it's only fitting to tick off a few Martini variations using the new spirits. A Martini only requires a neutral spirit and vermouth, preferably vodka or gin, and some kind of fresh garnish. Cucumber and mint are a pleasingly fresh addition to the Martini cannon, and Ketel One's Botanical blend is a welcome helpmate in this regard. Open the bottle and you have everything you need. I do recommend using a large helping of dry vermouth with this cocktail--keep it wet--it is cucumber after all. And if you happen to have mint and a cucumber handy, so much the better.
  • 2 oz. Ketel One Botanical Cucumber and Mint Vodka
  • 1 oz. dry vermouth
  • cucumber peel and or mint garnish
Combine liquid ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Spear a peel of cucumber or use a mint sprig as garnish. 

Napoleon (DIY Amer Picon Recipe)

Lots of cocktails purport to be quintessentially French, which is to say they belong to a French tradition of drinking or use a selection of French-made ingredients. The Napoleon goes so far as to claim France's most notorious Emperor.

But setting all that bluster aside, Napoleon's namesake cocktail is an excellent mix of France's hard-to-find bitter aperitif wines. Amer Picon--so rare in its pre-prohibition form outside of Paris that we have to resort to making it ourselves--adds an orange bitterness to this classic gin drink. Dubonnet Rouge and curacao lend color and orange sweetness.

I could have picked a French vodka and used Cointreau if I wanted to go the full French, but I decided that a rum based orange liqueur like Vitae would work better as a substitute for curacao. Copper Fox Vir Gin is also a nice treat, it's star anise botanical gives it an absinthe-like flavor fit for cafe sipping. I'm glad I came back to this recipe to try it with these ingredients. Take a look at my attempt at this cocktail in 2015. It wasn't bad back then, but this is a surefire improvement on the concept.
  • 2 oz. gin (Copper Fox Vir Gin used)
  • 1/2 oz white curacao (Vitae orange liqueur used)
  • 1 tsp. Dubonnet Rouge
  • 1 tsp. Amer Picon (Homemade recipe used)
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass full of ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

The Gherkson (Original Recipe)

Vodka and cornichons, those little spicy pickles that are often served with charcuterie, are a combination enjoyed all over the world. There's something amazing about dipping a pickle into a cold shot of vodka, shooting the vodka and finishing with the pickle. In Eastern Europe, vodka and onion is a common pairing. Drinkers enhance their experience by smelling a cut onion after taking a vodka shot.

All of this led me to the recipe for The Gherkson, a Gibson Martini with cornichons (gherkins) and cocktail onions. The garnishes are from Maille, makers of a very spicy Dijon style pickle brine that also includes these amazing cocktail onions and whole mustard. The vodka is MurLarkey Divine Clarity potato vodka, and I happily picked up Carpano Dry vermouth. This vermouth contains a lot of herbal echoes of their Antica formula and fits very well with a dry and savory Martini.
  • 3 oz. vodka (Divine Clarity used)
  • 1/2 oz. dry vermouth (Carpano Dry used)
  • Maille cornichons and onions
Combine vodka and vermouth in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with cornichons and cocktail onions.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Picon (Revisit With Homemade Amer Picon)

This is a bitter cocktail akin to the Negroni, but with an overtly orange and herbal swing to it. A drink like this really requires the classic Amer Picon that is no longer available even in France. It has been sweetened and its alcohol content reduced so that it is now only available as an ingredient intended to be added to beer or wine. The Amer Picon that is available now is not the bracing bitter that it used to be in the golden age of cocktails. That is why making it yourself is so necessary. 

Cocchi Dopo Tetero is a bitter sweet vermouth that uses more cinchona and bitter herbs than many sweet vermouths which are losing their appeal in this era when drinkers really appreciate bitterness. I was surprised that the Dopo Tetero has deep roast notes similar to dark chocolate. It is rich! Doing a cocktail with it and equal parts DIY Amer Picon makes for a dark and bitter drink.
  • 2 oz. Amer Picon (DIY Amer Picon used)
  • 2 oz. sweet vermouth (Cocchi Dopo Tetero used)
Combine all ingredient in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

Sanctuary (Revisit WIth Homemade Amer Picon)

The Sanctuary is one of the first cocktails I made for this blog when I thought I had a suitable substitute for Amer Picon--a very difficult to find French Amaro that bartenders now have to recreate in order to get the strength of flavor of the original recipe. All this fuss over the Amer Picon, one tends to overlook the Dubonnet Rouge, another seldom seen classic cocktail ingredient. In fact, at two ounces, the Sanctuary is really a Dubonnet Rouge cocktail more than an Amer Picon cocktail.

Dubonnet Rouge (Love the new label!) is an aperitif wine spirit that is fortified and flavored with a secret blend of herbs and spices. Unlike Lillet, it is not purely an orange flavored wine, though there is some citrus in Dubonnet Rouge. There are chocolate and roasted cabbage notes in the aperitif as well. So with that depth, this wine cocktail gets punched up with Cointreau, a 40-proof triple sec made with bitter and sweet oranges, and Amer Picon, a bitter orange liqueur. The result is a complex cocktail that keeps changing as you drink it. As it warms it takes on a chocolate orange character and continues to be extremely rich, despite having a lower ABV than most cocktails.
  • 2 oz. Dubonnet Rouge
  • 1 oz. Amer Picon (DIY Amer Picon used)
  • 1 oz. triple sec (Cointreau used)
  • lemon twist
Combine all ingredients except lemon twist in a mixing glass (The NY Bartender's guide says to shake, but I really think that makes the Dubonnet Rouge cloudy and it's unnecessary so I stirred) with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the lemon twist. 

Brittany (Revisit With Homemade Amer Picon)

Brittany is the northwest region of France, known for it's rocky coastline and resorts that dot the English channel. It seems appropriate that an especially fruity cocktail using gin and a French Amaro would bring together the best of English and French qualities in a single drink.

I did not use an English gin for this second run of this cocktail on my site. I thought that the German Monkey 47, with it's dryness and super botanical blend would work well with the bitter Amer Picon and tart juices. It keeps the drink interesting when orange and lemon juices tend to flatten out the flavors of gin.

The other interesting aspect of this cocktail is the use of my DIY Amer Picon. This is made with MurLarkey white whiskey infused with cara cara orange peels, Ramazzotti amaro, and Royal Combier--which is a kind of cognac and orange liqueur with Mediterranean spices. The Amer Picon really adds a deep bitter orange floor to what would ordinarily be a tart and floral cocktail.
  • 2 oz. gin (Monkey 47 used)
  • 1/2 oz. Amer Picon (DIY used)
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. orange juice
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • orange twist
Combine all ingredients except orange twist in a shaker with ice. Shake vigorously to chill and dissolve sugar. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with an orange twist. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

(DIY) Amer Picon

I've done it! Finally, I have my own Amer Picon knock off. I got the recipe from PUNCH, which was easy except that finding Combier is pretty difficult depending on where you live. But that is all easier to get than Amer Picon--a bitter orange liqueur that hasn't been available in the U.S. for decades. Even the varieties available in France are no longer the same bitter boozy product that Amer Picon once was.

It all started with picking up a bottle of Ramzzotti amaro. I'd seen Combier on bar shelves in the past and figured that the other ingredient wouldn't be too hard to find. As it turns out, Elixir Combier (which may or may not be the ingredient listed in the PUNCH recipe) is not available in the Washingtion, Virginia, Maryland region. Elixir Combier is a biter French orange liqueur with spices from the Mediterranean like myrrh. It turns out that I could find Royal Combier, the same liqueur with cognac added so that it is a competitor to Grand Marnier. This, I assumed, would be a suitable substitute.

The small jar on the right of the photo is orange bitters. I made these using MurLarkey Justice White Whiskey--a version that is 110-proof so that it makes infusions better.

I takes 2 cups of Ramazzotti and one cup each of Combier and orange bitters. Add 1/4 cup of orange peels (I used bitter cara cara orange peels) and let the mixture steep for a week in the refrigerator. For my bottle, I used an old scotch bottle and printed one of the many images of this long-lost spirit

Regent's Punch

By far the largest punch in the New York Bartender's Guide from 1997, the Regent's Punch serves 80! It is the reason I had to get a dedicated punch bowl. It still wasn't large enough to handle the full size of the punch, so I served it in a half size (see how full that punch was!) and re-filled the bowl when it ran out.

The need of such a massive punch  comes from those colonial balls and large parties of societal figures including monarchs. Take a look at the ingredients to see the kind of royalty this punch caters to: champagne, riesling, cognac, dark rum and triple sec. It truly was intended for regents or the ruling class.

Besides settling on Gruet blanc de blanc sparkling wine over more expensive champagne, I did not deviate from the recipe.  I used Broadbent rainwater Madiera, Appleton signature blend rum, Meukow cognac (Because it tastes more French than brandy) and Combier Liqueur d'Orange as an expensive and high quality triple sec. Chilling all ingredients first was a major help to pulling off this huge punch in time for the party, and having two bundt pan ice cakes ready was critical. Just after I served the punch with the ice and sparkling wine included, I found a large spring flower to set in the center of the ring of ice.
  • 1 bottle riesling or dessert wine (Chateau st. Michelle riesling used)
  • 2 bottles Madeira (Broadbent rainwater used)
  • 1 bottle triple sec (Combier d'Orange used)
  • 3 bottles champagne or sparkling wint (Gruet blanc des blanc used)
  • 16 oz. dark rum (Appleton Estate special blend used)
  • 1 bottle cognac (Meukow used)
  • 16 oz. black tea
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 quarts sparkling water (2 bottles of San Pellegrino)
  • 8 oz. lemon juicee
  • 24 oz. orange juice
Combine all liquid ingredients except champagne and sparkling water in a large punch bowl and stir to dissolve the sugar. Refrigerate the bowl and liquid for at least an hour before serving. When serving, add a large cake of ice (I prefer a bundt pan rings) and top with sparkling water and champagne and stir.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Banshee's Fix (Original Recipe)

Nothing like going tiki with whiskey, and evoking a malevolent Irish spirit while using an Irish spirit to boot! In truth, this cocktail is close to the Irish Fix--an attempt to make the most pleasing combination of juice and whiskey you'll ever find.

Unlike most Fixes, this the Irish Fix includes pineapple juice. I did the same, but added lemon juice, mint and a good helping of Virginia banana whiskey. That is a cocktail allusion to the Banshee banana dessert drink. In essence, this drink swings tiki when served on crushed ice, and I love the combined effect it produces when garnished with the mint and green maraschino cherry. You don't even notice that this is a whiskey drink and its hard to identify the banana as well. It just comes across as a perfect tropical escape--but the island it takes you to is Ireland.
  • 1 1/2 oz. Tullamore DEW Irish Whiskey
  • 1 oz. MurLarkey banana whiskey
  • 1 oz. pineapple juice
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. orgeat syrup
  •  mint sprig and maraschino cherry garnishes
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled Old Fashioned glass full of crushed ice. Garnish with a mint sprig and a green maraschino cherry.

The Green And Orange (Original Cocktail)

I'm celebrating St. Patrick's Day with Irish and Irish-American whiskies. Tullamore Dew is the well-known Irish whiskey brand in this Old Fashioned redux. MurLarkey distillery makes an interesting orange whiskey that is well suited to Old Fashioned recipes on its own but benefits from the mellowing effects of its Irish forebear.

Here I was going for a color combination of a cocktail that would evoke the dispirit hues of the Irish flag and its problematic history. Interesting how the orange is supplied by the local Virginia distillers. The cara cara orange slice and green maraschino cherry accentuate the sweetness of this drink as well as the color scheme.
  • 1 1/2 oz. Tullamore DEW Irish whiskey
  • 1 1/2 oz. MurLarkey orange whiskey
  • 1 tsp. sugar syrup
  • 1 dash orange bitters
  • Orange slice and green cherry garnish
Combine liquid ingredients in a mixing glass full of ice. Stir and strain into a chilled Old Fashioned glass. Garnish with the cherry and orange slice.