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.

Burgundy Punch

Not all punches are rum and fruit juice. A good number are wine-based. This punch is reminiscent of old world punch and cocktails that use European wines and spirits to create a balance between sweet, sour, tanic and earthy.

The result is a smooth punch with lots of depth. It is neither too strong, nor uninteresting. At first you notice the cabernet (the recipe calls for Burgundy, but I opted for Poppy, Paso Robles cabernet. This wine is not so much rich as it is flavorful. The addition of port softens this somewhat. In the center of the sip you notice the orange and lemon citrus burst. The finish is characterized by more port and a whiff of boozy Kammer Kirsch, one of the best examples of Kirschwasser--a black cherry spirit similar to white brandy.

  • 2 bottles of red Burgundy or cabernet sauvignon
  • 8 oz. kirschwasser
  • 8 oz. port
  • 16 oz. orange juice (fresh squeezed cara cara used)
  • 4 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 oz. simple syrup
  • orange slices
Combine all ingredients in a chilled punch bowl with a block of ice. Stir well and garnish with orange slices.
*Note: I chilled all the ingredients in the punch bowl for two hours before serving on ice. This prevents watering the punch down too much and even enhances the flavor combination as ingredients sit with each other and while the punch warms up. This punch serves twenty.

Imagine Espana (Original Recipe)

I've got a project underway to combine the local Virginia spirits from MurLarkey with international brands. How does one take liqueurs and whiskies from across Europe and Asia and turn them into great cocktails using a base spirit that is unknown overseas? It's easy when you consider that gin is a great base for refreshing spring cocktails.

Licor 43 is a Spanish cordial made from citrus, fruits, spices and brandy. It has a pleasing vanilla flavor and adds sweetness where sugar would usually go in a drink. But it is far more interesting than simple syrup in this twist on a Collins.  MurLarkey makes ImaGination gin, a rich botanical blend of a gin that can really outshine other American gins for its depth of flavor. Far from a juniper-heavy gin, MurLarkey goes for spice and herbs for an unexpected taste.
  • 1 1/2 oz. MurLarkey ImaGination gin
  • 1 oz. Licor 43
  • 1/4 oz. maraschino liqueur
  • 1 oz. lemon juice
  • sparkling water
  • cherries and orange twist garnishes.
Combine lemon juice and liquors in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a Collins glass full of fresh ice. Top with sparkling water and stir gently. Garnish with cherries and orange twist. 

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Pomelo Delta

It's more than a triangle wedge of citrus to garnish a triangular-shaped glass. This cocktail speaks of exotic lands and lush mouths of rivers where forbidden fruit grows--river deltas of the world's equatorial regions.

Pomelo juice is less bitter than grapefruit, far sweeter than lemon, and as honeyed as a mandarin orange but with a different flavor profile than any other member of the rue family. The peel is exceptionally pithy and useful for flavoring the Forbidden Fruit honey-citrus spirit with a cognac base.

In keeping with all the citrus theme, I chose MurLarkey lemon whiskey, which is a lemon zest infused white whiskey. It is one of MurLarkey's subtler infusions, easy to hide in a fruity cocktail that doesn't require whiskey flavors but benefits from the whiff of lemon zest. You could do this drink equally well with vodka or gin, but you might have to use lemon juice and adjust for the accompanying bitterness.
  • 1 1/2 oz. MurLarkey lemon whiskey
  • 1 1/2 oz. pomelo juice
  • 1 oz. Forbidden Fruit (See recipe here)
  • 1 dash RAFT hibiscus lavender syrup
  • pomelo sliced in a delta shape. 
Combine all ingredients except pomelo slice in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the pomelo slice.

Banana Lime Collins

Get ready for St. Patrick's Day! The Banana Lime Collins is exactly like it sounds, simple, approachable, and very refreshing. It's even a little bit green (natural colors of course) to make it festive.

I really like how such a simple change to a classic cocktail can come across as exotic. The whiskey-based John Collins is a refreshing way to enjoy your Irish whiskey. MurLarkey banana whiskey is an Irish-American treat made with an infusion of real bananas in white whiskey. It goes great with lime juice, so I opted for that over the traditional lemon. Then a lime wedge and a green maraschino cherry looked like a fitting garnish. It may not be spring yet according to the official calendar, but this drink will make you feel like the sun has come out.
  • 2 oz. MurLarkey banana whiskey
  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • sparkling water
  • maraschino cherry
  • lime wedge
Combine whiskey, juice and sugar in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a Collins glass full of fresh ice and top with sparkling water (I used lime flavored soda here for even more intense fruit flavor.) Garnish with cherry (green if you have it) and lime wedge.

To Damn Hot

This spiced brandy cocktail is perfect for cold nights. It is rich and satisfying to sip on. Asbach Uralt is a German brandy that has its own distinct flavor apart from French cognac. With aromatic bitters, sweet vermouth and cinnamon whiskey, it imitates an Old Fashioned or a Sazerac and yet remains wholly different.

MurLarkey cinnamon whiskey is definitely hot stuff. It puts Fireball to shame--and it is real whiskey. Use too much of it, though, and you can blow out your drink. The idea here is to coat the cinnamon whiskey in sweet rich flavors. I want to point out that I used Mt. Defiance sweet vermouth, made from apple brandy, herbs and spices, vidal blanc wine and brandy. This is a really special distillery and I recommend that Virginians check out this treasure in your back yard. For the cocktail, their superb sweet vermouth (ordinarily overly sweet for many drinks) is perfect for imparting an apple pie aspect to the brandy.
  • 2 oz. brandy (Asbach Uralt used)
  • 1/2 oz. cinnamon whiskey (MurLarkey used)
  • 1 oz. sweet vermouth (Mt. Defiance used)
  • 1 dash aromatic bitters (Hella used)
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled Old Fashioned glass. 

Icelandic Air

The name for this drink came to me during a late winter cold snap. I wanted to create a drink with the chill and scent of Iceland's landscape. There's sea air, dry grasses, glacial frost and flowers in every breath of Iceland's air in summer. Brennivin is Iceland's native spirit, an aquavit with a strong caraway seed presence and light, clean taste.

In addition to aquavit, there's pomelo juice, sugar, bitters and white creme de menthe. In small proportions, creme de menthe adds a crispness that is herbal but does not immediately give itself away to the drinker as mint. The tingle of chill is perfect and hidden in a tart and herbal cocktail that perfectly represents the country of Iceland.
  • 1 1/2 oz. Brennivin (or aquavit)
  • 1 1/2 oz. pomelo juice
  • 5 dashes Peychaud's bitters
  • 1/4 tsp. sugar syrup
  • 1/4 tsp. white creme de menthe
  • pomelo peel sliced thin as a twist
Combine all liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with the pomelo peel.

White Whiskey Saketini

Is it a Martini if you make it with white whiskey instead of gin or vodka? Furthermore, does a Martini require dry vermouth? (I tend to think it does.) The Saketini, especially this one, is not a Martini at all, but it is a savory treat: especially with a pepper drop garnish like shown above.

MurLarkey Justice White Whiskey is an unaged corn whiskey that really features the distiller's main product. Unadulterated it is still bold and bracing, even when chilled. It takes a significant amount of sake to break through (which is why I can't call this a Martini. The spirit just isn't neutral at all.) I also added a little of the juice from the pepper drop jar for vinegar tang.
  • 2 oz. White Corn Whiskey (MurLarkey Justice used)
  • 1 oz. sake 
  • pepper drop garnish
  • drizzle of pepper drop juice
Combine liquid ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with the pepper drops.

Saturday, February 9, 2019


An Aviation is a classic American gin drink from the golden age of cocktails. Now, thanks to the availability of quality ingredients like creme de violette and maraschino liqueur (as well as a range of good gins both dry and otherwise) you can taste this classic as it was meant to be enjoyed.
  • 2 oz. gin (MurLarkey ImaGination used)
  • 1/2 oz. maraschino liqueur
  • 1/4 oz. creme de violette
  • 3/4 oz. lemon juice
  • maraschino cherry
  • lemon twist
Combine liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with cherries and twist. 

(Virginia Local) Martinez

I love a Martinez, a very sweet gin Martini with sweet vermouth and Old Tom gin. This variation uses some ingredients local to Virginia.

MurLarkey ImaGination isn't an Old Tom gin exactly; it's sweeter than London Dry and has a lot of characteristics of the New American stye of gin going around. There's no malted barley in MurLarkey, but the botanical blend is rich and not overpowered by juniper or citrus. A Martinez made with ImaGination is pretty close to the ones made during the golden era of cocktails.

Mt. Defiance also makes a rustic sweet vermouth, an herbal fortified wine with lots of sweetness that I think comes from the residual sugar of the grape and not from caramel like Italian vermouths. These ingredients work well together in the classic Martinez.
  • 1 1/2 oz. Old Tom gin (ImaGination used)
  • 1 1/2 oz. sweet vermouth (Mt. Defiance used)
  • 1/4 oz. maraschino liqueur
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters (Hella orange--with its baking spice flavors--used)
  • orange twist
Combine all liquid ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the orange twist. 

Monkey Picked Flower Collins

Monkey 47 gin makes an intensely floral Collins. My plan was to substitute Hibiscus Lavender syrup for the usual amount of simple syrup in a standard Collins. This was a good move: it makes the drink even more floral and gives it an attractive color that Collins drinks often lack. Monkey 47 is strong (with an intentional or serendipitous 47% alcohol) and in the full three-ounce pour for a Collins, it is pretty destructive. Feel free to go with a little less and stretch out what precious little Monkey 47 you have left in that tiny 375 ml. bottle.
  • 2 oz. Monkey 47 gin
  • 1 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. RAFT Hibisucs Lavender syrup
  • sparkling water
  • lemon twist
  • maraschino cherry
Combine gin, lemon juice and syrup in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled Collins glass full of ice. Add sparkling water and stir. Garnish with the cherry and lemon twist. 

Krautini (Combo)

I was struck by inspiration when I was drinking a Dirty Martini after work. The olive brine in a cocktail is pleasing and appetizing and really goes well with salty food like nuts and pretzels. Why then, with the exception of the Gibson, are there so few savory Martinis?

The idea of pickled cabbage suggested itself as I fixed a bratwurst for dinner. Why not make a Martini with a little of the cabbage juice in it. I tried it two ways, a gin and a vodka drink, and with two kinds of sour kraut, the white and the red cabbage. The one constant was the Rivata dry vermouth with its heavy herbal notes and slight cabbage scent.

Both drinks worked out really well. the white cabbage juice with MurLarkey Divine Clarity vodka was a great combo. Divine Clarity already has a slight bitter dullness (I detect, but no one else seems to think so) that lends itself well to olive and wine cocktails. The white cabbage made this Dirty Martini variation sour with vinegar zip that was every bit as interesting as a standard Dirty Martini.

The red cabbage juice added to MurLarkey ImaGination gin was sweeter but earthy, a bitterness well suited to rosemary and basil notes you find in the gin. Here is the recipe with proportions that work as well for one as another.
  •  3 oz. gin or vodka (MurLarkey ImaGination gin or Divine Clarity vodka)
  • 1/2 oz. dry vermouth (Rivata Italian used)
  • 1 tsp. sour kraut juice (red or white)
Combine ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

Saturday, January 26, 2019

German Cocktail

I wanted to take another swing at the K.G.B. Cocktail, you know, that one that is supposed to stand for the three ingredients: kirschwasser, gin and brandy, but the ingredients are really kirschwasser, gin and apricot brandy (for sweetness). I guess that a K.G.AB doesn't sound as cool. But I figured, what if this drink could be done with all German ingredients?

Until recently, this wasn't possible. Then Monkey 47 came along and changed everything. I should warn the potential drinker or mixologist who tries this one out. Unlike the K.G.B., there is no sugar from the apricot brandy. That means that this cocktail is make of only overproof spirits. It is dry and strong and should take any normal person a little while to finish. This is good. Slow down and enjoy this drink. Good things take time.
  • 3/4 oz. kirschwasser (Kammer Kirsch used)
  • 2 oz. gin (Monkey 47 used)
  • 1/4 oz. brandy (Asbach Uralt used)
  • lemon twist
Combine all liquid ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with lemon twist. 

Rue The Day

(Photo By Ned Drummond)

Here's an original cocktail with Forbidden Fruit, gin and a ton of fresh citrus. It is both bitter and tart and like nothing you've had before in a cocktail. That is because it and the Forbidden Fruit spirit it contains are made with Pomelo, a grapefruit-like fruit from the rue family. Other rues include tangarine, lemon, lime, orange and blood orange. It is as if the entire rue family is represented in this very exotic drink.

Going along with all that bitterness is the very herbaceous MurLarkey ImaGination gin. It doesn't get lost in all of that flavor and Forbidden Fruit, which tends to flatten out base spirits. Instead, it's rosemary notes shine through and add depth.
  • 1 1/2 oz. MurLarkey Imagination Gin
  • 1 oz. Forbidden Fruit
  • 1 oz. pomelo juice
  • 1/2 oz. tangerine juice
  • 1 tsp. lime juice
  • pomelo peel twist
Combine liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with pomelo peel.

Carrol Cocktail

Yet another Brandy Manhattan style cocktail, the Carrol is closest to the original Manhattan proportions than many others. It is sweeter than most variants, having no added bitters, so the brandy and vermouth get all the attention. It's rich and rewarding. I'm featuring Mt. Defiance sweet vermouth from Virginia to give this recipe a sweeter and more of a local appeal.
  • 2 oz. brandy (Asbach Uralt used)
  • 1/2 oz. sweet vermouth (Mt. Defiance used)
  • maraschino cherry
Combine liquid ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the cherry. 

Verboten Fizz

This original cocktail is a fun way to combine awesome German spirits and my homemade Forbidden Fruit recipe that I've been trying to find uses for since I made it.

Here Monkey 47 is the base flavor of brilliant botanicals while Asbach Uralt adds richness. The forbidden fruit provides the honey balance against the citrus and I use Raft hibiscus lavender syrup to add to the floral and sweet notes and create an exotic experience. This is a refreshing citrus cocktail, with lots of complexity. The gin and brandy combo is always unexpected for ordinary gin drinkers, and Forbidden Fruit leaves most drinkers wondering what creates the complex flavors in this cocktail.
  • 1 1/2 oz. gin (Monkey 47 used)
  • 1 oz. brandy (Asbach Uralt used
  • 1 oz. Forbidden Fruit
  • 1/4 oz. lime juice
  • 1 oz. grapefruit juice
  • 1 tsp. Raft Hibiscus Lavender Syrup
  • sparkling water
  • grapefruit wedge
Combine all ingredients except sparkling water and grapefruit wedge in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled Collins glass full of fresh ice. Top with sparkling water and stir. Garnish with grapefruit peel. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Panama Cocktail

I really am not sure how this drink fits the Panama theme of its namesake. It is a dessert drink with lots of sugar and cream and rich brandy flavors. The color might be similar to a Panama hat, but I think that's a stretch. The Panama Cocktail is a tasty, if a little boring, drink with slightly more than one note of milk chocolate covering the rich brandy.

This is my last cocktail needed to finish the New York Bartender's Guide circa 1997. I still have several punches to go before I can claim to have done them all.
  • 2 oz. brandy (Asbach Uralt used)
  • 1 1/2 oz. white creme de cacao
  • 1 1/2 oz. half-and-half
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

Brandy Vermouth Cocktail

I skipped this cocktail for some time because, with ordinary vermouth, it would turn out no different from a Brandy Manhattan. I decided to hit the Brandy Vermouth cocktail again just to try out this new Virginia vermouth by Mt. Defiance. This vermouth--like all sweet vermouths--is made with white whine. It is golden in color, though, and its herbal sweetness is backed up by bitterness in the botanicals and in the whine itself, which is a little wild tasting. Mt. Defiance really stands out in larger proportions in this cocktail--try it to experience a sweeter Brandy Manhattan.
  • 2 oz. brandy (Asbach Uralt used)
  • 1 oz. sweet vermouth (Mt. Defiance used)
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

Kahlua (Coffee Whiskey) Toreador

I've done the Kahlua Toreador before: egg white, coffee liqueur, brandy blended--done. But it's not really living up to the name of Toreador if there's no topping, no fluffy whipped cream.

This Toreador is rich, but not so much as those dessert cocktails that included blended half-and-half. The egg white adds the creaminess that you expect from a coffee dessert drink. The fun thing about this recipe is that chocolate chunks are perfect to pair with brandy and MurLarkey coffee whiskey.
  • 2 oz. brandy (Asbach Uralt)
  • 1 oz. MurLarkey coffee whiskey
  • 1 tsp. sugar syrup
  • 1/2 egg white
  • whipped cream
  • grated dark chocolate
Combine brandy, coffee whiskey, sugar syrup, and egg white in a blender with ice. Blend until smooth and pour into a chilled cocktail glass. Top with whipped cream and sprinkle chocolate chips on top. 

Charles Cocktail

Bitter Brandy cocktails are fashionable in the winter. They taste like rare antiques, beautiful in the correct setting. It's not a bad idea to dust off this old recipe that has a lot of similarities to a Brandy Manhattan.

To increase bitterness, I chose Punt E Mes vermouth, one of the most bitter sweet vermouths on the market. I also go liberal with the Angostura bitters. When given a choice to use between three and five dashes, I always use five.
  • 2 oz. brandy (Asbach Uralt used)
  • 1/2 oz. sweet vermouth (Punt E Mes used)
  • 3-5 dashes Angostura bitters
 Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

Stirrup Cup

The idea of the Stirrup Cup goes back to drinking at the village in the days of horse travel. A drinker, probably a big spender, finishes up a session of drinking and requires help getting on his horse. Once his feet are in the stirrups, he is given a combination of liquors that he had been drinking already in a cup of booze that will ensure he is done with drinking for the night. He passes out in the saddle and the horse takes him home.

A main ingredient in Stirrup Cup cocktails is brandy, and I just got a bottle of Asbach--not cognac--to try with it. Cherry Heering is a rich black cherry liqueur, and it is sweet enough to balance an equal portion of lemon juice.

  • 2 oz. brandy (Asbach Uralt used)
  • 1 1/2 oz. cherry brandy (Cherry Heering used)
  • 1 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. sugar
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled Old Fashioned glass full of fresh ice. 

Monday, January 7, 2019

Jungle Bird

The Jungle Bird is a newer tiki cocktail to come along recently. Campari makes it a bitter red blended drink and blackstrap rum makes it rich and sweet.

The bottle of Cruzan 151 is shown because it was an ingredient in the homemade blackstrap rum I made to pull of this drink. You can use Goslings Black Seal if you like. I used the one-and-a-half ounces worth or 151 that goes into the drink and white rum and added a teaspoon of blackstrap molasses to it (shaking it up and straining it through a coffee filter) to make it a black rum.
  • 2 oz. pineapple juice
  • 1/2 oz. lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. demerara syrup
  • 3/4 oz. campari
  • 1 1/2 oz. black rum
  • pineapple fronds garnish
Combine all ingredients except garnishes in a blender with cracked ice. Flash blend and pour into a chilled Collins glass. Garnish with pineapple fronds.

Humuhumunukunukuapua'a (Smuggler's Cove)

This cocktail is aptly named after the brilliantly colored Hawaiian state fish. The cocktail itself is beautiful and flowers and fruit accent it. One of the best things about Hawaiian drinks is that there is no spirit native to Hawaii. So you can use a gin; you can use a gin from Virginia; you can even use ImaGination.

If you have the ingredients and a blender, this drink is easier to make than it is to pronounce.
  • 2 oz. gin (Murlarkey ImaGination used)
  • 2 dashes Peychaud's bitters
  • 3/4 oz. lemon juice
  • 3/4 oz. pineapple juice
  • 1/2 oz. orgeat
  • flowers/ maraschino cherry garnishes
Combine all ingredients except garnishes in a blender with cracked ice. Flash blend and pour into a chilled Old Fashioned glass. Garnish with flowers and cherry. 

Norwegian Paralysis (Smuggler's Cove)

This is such a fun use of aquavit, the savory herb-infused spirit of the Scandinavian countries. The bottle pictured is Swedish Osterlenkryddors akvavit herb kit, but I refilled it with my own aquavit recipe. The rest is remarkably simple--you make a fruit punch. Aquavit is savory, with coriander, caraway seeds, fennel seeds and other herbs. (I added birch and angelica seeds in mine.) It goes great with citrus and pineapple.
  • 1 1/2 oz. pineapple juice
  • 1 12 oz. orange juice
  • 1/2 oz. lime juice
  • 1/4 demerara syrup
  • 1/2 oz. orgeat
  • 1 1/2 oz. aquavit (D.I.Y. used)
  • lemon wedge and umbrella garnish
Combine all ingredients except garnishes in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled highball glass full of fresh ice. Garnish with a tiny umbrella stuck into lemon wedge.

Champagne Punch

(Photo by Ned Drummond)

This is a reasonably sized punch for a small gathering, and a really good use of sparkling wine and spirits to produce a strong and balanced communal drink. The photo I used is a half portion, so it doesn't fill the bowl completely. But it was the perfect amount for three big drinkers. The full-size punch makes 15 servings.
  • 1 cup cognac (Mewkow used)
  • 1 cup cherry liqueur (Cherry Heering used)
  • 1 cup triple sec (Cointreau used)
  • 1/4 cup sugar syrup
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 2 bottles (750 ml.) Champagne or sparkling wine (Korbel brut used)
Combine juice, spirits and sugar in a bowl and refrigerate up to two hours before serving. Fill with large cakes of ice (snack bags filled with water and frozen beforehand are great.) Add Champagne and stir when ready to serve.

Hinky Dink's Fizzy (Smuggler's Cove)

I really enjoyed this drink for its rum flavor and dry spiced gin--wholly different from the flavors associated with spiced rum. For this cocktail I chose Monkey 47 to keep the drink dry like a champagne cocktail.

This cocktail comes from Smuggler's Cove. The Hinky Dink's reference points to the 30's vintage Tiki bar in Oakland, California. The drink itself was invented in the 1980s. Better modern rums and gins are now available, so a drink like this gets a facelift with Monkey 47 dry gin and Vitae modern rum.
  • 1 oz. blended lightly aged (white) rum (Vitae Platinum used)
  • 1 oz. dry gin (Monkey 47 used)
  • 1 1/2 oz. pineapple juice
  • 1/2 oz. lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. passionfruit syrup
  • 1/2 oz. apricot liqueur
  • 2 oz. sparkling wine
  • mint sprig/ flower garnish
Combine all ingredients except sparkling wine and mint sprig in a blender with crushed ice. Flash blend and open pour into a large snifter or wine glass with the two ounces of sparkling wine in it. Garnish with mint or flowers.