Tuesday, May 26, 2020

(Napoleon's) Corpse Reviver

One of two Corpse Reviver recipes in the New American Bartender's guide, this one is not accompanied with a number like most. It is, however similar to the Savoy Corpse Reviver, which I haven't done for the blog, it being a bar guest request.

The difference is that instead of brandy, I used the brandy-based liqueur Mandarine Napoleon. This lead me to adopting the name Napoleon's Corpse Reviver for this particular variation. As all Corpse Revivers are intended as hangover remedies, as such, they are a mix of the liquors that the drinker had the night before--sometimes with a bracing effect.

That supports my use of Mandarine Napoleon, a citrus and spice cognac liqueur. Along with Frenet Branca and a mint liqueur, it has a refreshing morning cocktail finish. The minty scent may even help dispel the rumors that the drinker is hung over.
  • 3/4 oz. brandy (Mandarine Napoleon used)
  • 3/4 oz. white creme de menthe
  • 3/4 oz. Fernet Branca
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

Grapefruit Cooler

As far as Coolers go, this one is pretty accurate to the flavor of the drink. Again, I'm showing off the versitility of MurLarkey's flavored whiskies with juice drinks. I feel that it is out of character to use two ounces of a richly oaked whiskey in such a tropical cocktail. If vanilla flavor was the intention, there are liqueurs that can do that instead.

MurLarkey orange whiskey is aged in oak with orange zest. There's no juice or added sugar and the whiskey comes across as dry with hints of vanilla and orange spice, but it's not overwhelming.
  • 2 oz. whiskey (MurLarkey orange whiskey used)
  • 4 oz. grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 oz. red currant syrup (creme de cassis used)
  • 1/4 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 lemon and orange slices
Combine liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and pour into a chilled Collins glass. Garnish with the citrus slices.

Rue de Rivoli

The famous street in Paris that runs beside the Louvre and Sainte Chapelle and offers views of the Cathedral Notre Dame is the namesake of this cocktail. I don't know what that has to do with oranges, but there's plenty of orange in this cocktail.

More and more, I'm deciding that some whiskey drinks, especially when they are mostly wine or juice-heavy ingredient lists, do not need rich or characterful whiskies. Instead, you can assume that the point of the cocktail is the juicy flavors and that the whiskey you use can bolster those. In this case, I added MurLarkey orange whiskey to go with the orange juice and citrus in the wine spirits.
  • 1 oz. whiskey (MurLarkey orange whiskey used)
  • 1 oz. dry vermouth (Carpano dry used)
  • 1 oz. Dubonnet Rouge
  • 1 oz. orange juice
  • orange slice
Combine liquid ingredients in a mixing glass full of ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the orange slice. 

le Coq d'Or

This cocktail is classical in its name and style: "Hymn to the Sun," the Opera by Rimksy Korsakov. With no citrus, you get an intensely fruity and dry spicy liquor kick. This drink is rich, so I recommend using a dry gin here. Bulldog is perfectly London in style, so It is appropriately spicy and light. Tanqueray, Beefeater or Broker's would also be appropriate choices.
  • 1 oz. gin (Bulldog used)
  • 1/2 oz. dry vermouth
  • 1/2 oz. apricot brandy
  • 1/2 oz. triple sec
  • maraschino cherry
Combine liquid ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the cherry. 

Old Orchard Sour

One expects apples not strawberries in an old orchard. Even so, this sour is fizzy and fruity with strawberry liqueur standing in for plain sugar.

I feel like a fizzy drink needs a light tasting whiskey like Seagram's 7 Crown. You don't need your whiskey and soda to taste heavy or overly spicy. Now that I think of it, an Irish whiskey would do equally well. And it is the citrus and strawberry liqueur that really stand out here. My homemade strawberry liqueur is rum-based from Vitae distillery in Charlottesville, VA.
  • 2 oz. blended whiskey (Seagram's 7 Crown used)
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. lime juice
  • 1 tsp. sugar syrup
  • 1 tsp. strawberry liqueur (homemade used)
  • club soda
  • berry and citrus garnishes
Combine liquid ingredients except soda in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled Collins glass full of fresh ice. Top with soda and stir. Garnish with fruit.

Red Rooster

Simple and elegant with a brilliant ruby hue, the Red Rooster is a rare breed! It is a majority wine cocktail, calling for three ounces of Byrrh, St. Raphiel, or Dubonnet Rouge. The latter is the reddest, and all three are French aperitif wines with sweetness and bitterness added.

If you only get one ounce of whiskey in a recipe, make sure it has character. That's why MurLarkey Heritage whiskey with its corn scent and white wine finish makes for a great aperitif cocktail whiskey.
  • 1 oz. whiskey (MurLarkey Heritage used)
  • 3 oz. red wine aperitif (Dubonnet Rouge used)
  • several dashes lemon juice
  • orange or lemon twist
Combine all liquid ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Twist citrus peel over the drink and drop it in. 

Bal Harbor Cocktail

This cocktail's name refers to the harbor with its twin islands off the cost of Miami. The combination of dry vermouth, rye and grapefruit juice is as dry as a Miami beach. Grapefruit juice appears in other Miami cocktails as well, including the Miami Beach!

Catoctin Creek makes this single barrel rye that is very traditional--you can taste the organic grain with no wine barrel finish like many ryes are doing lately. You notice the rye's dryness when the other ingredients are similarly dry.
Combine liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Drop the cherry into the glass. 

Cortina Cup

Cortina is a town in the southern Alps know for being a location along a famous bicycle race by the same name. This cocktail is a golden cup that emulates the race's prize, and it appropriately uses the Italian Alpine spirit, Strega.

Strega is made with saffron, mint and a number of proprietary herbs and fruits. It is gold but tastes chilly and cool. Add to this a bit of creme de menthe and a splash of Pernod and you have a sugary cocktail that is bursting with herbal flavor. You don't notice the mint as much as you'd expect with all of the juice. And the garnishes smell exactly like the drink tastes. 
  • 2 oz. Strega
  • 1/2 oz. peppermint schnapps
  • 1 oz. orange juice
  • 1 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. Pernod
  • orange slice and mint sprig
Combine liquid ingredients except Pernod in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled wine goblet. Add garnishes and float Pernod on top. 

Commodore #1

I've made a Commodore Cocktail before: that bourbon and creme de cacao drink with lemon juice. I've never heard of a Commodore #1, and that implies that there's a #2 and beyond, right?

I did this one because I made this strawberry liqueur from Vitae Platinum Rum, sugar and fresh strawberries. It was a good idea. MurLarkey Heritage Whiskey provides a spicy base for this fruity drink. You notice the wine cask and rapidly aged oak of the heritage while the strawberry provides a fresh sweetness. Overall, though, this is a very juicy drink and you might not notice that it is predominately orange juice, so bitters do a lot to keep it interesting and balanced.
  • 1 1/2 oz. whiskey (MurLarkey Heritage used)
  • 1/2 oz strawberry liqueur (homemade used)
  • 1/2 oz. lime juice
  • 2 oz. orange juice
  • dash orange bitters
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Fernet Branca Cocktail

You don't have to love Fernet Branca to appreciate the balance of bittersweet notes in this mostly gin cocktail. I consider this cocktail to be quintessentially Italian and I wanted an Italian-tasting gin like MurLarkey's ImaGination gin. This has rosemary and basil as botanicals and it is so herbaceous while it remains very dry in a cocktail.

The real dry and bitter flavor comes from Fernet Branca. The sweet vermouth, however tames the menthol flavor of the spirit, for those who are not fans of that, but you do get more caramel and earthiness that otherwise is overpowered when you have Fernet by itself.
  • 2 oz. gin (ImaGination gin used)
  • 1/2 oz. sweet vermouth (Cocchi Dopo Teatro used) 
  • 1/2 oz. Fernet Branca
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 


The Mooch

Simple, light, and classic tasting, The Mooch isn't a burden. In fact, you'll enjoy having one of these on a hot day to cool and relax you on the porch.

Apricot brandy, even inexpensive apricot flavored brandies, have such an outsized effect on a cocktail's profile. It is almost hard to identify the flavor, but it is exotic and welcome when we are feeling tired of the predictable vodka and soda.
  • 2 oz. apricot brandy
  • lemon-lime soda
  • lemon and lime slices
Add ice and apricot brandy to a Collins glass. Top with lemon-lime soda and garnish with the fruit slices. 

De Rigueur

This is a classic combination that you find over and over again: grapefruit juice, honey, whiskey. It's the Brown Derby, its a whiskey version of so many gin drinks as well. This mix is so universal that it earned the name de Rigueur, meaning "that which is expected."

Of course you could just follow the recipe as written and add the honey (or honey syrup, as is more practical when it comes to shaken drinks sweetened with honey. But I have this honey bourbon that is perfect for the job. I made it by soaking a honeycomb in a bottle of bourbon and coming up with this silly old-fashioned snake oil label. The balance with the half oz. of grapefruit juice was perfect. Not too sweet and not, as I feared, too sour. I have to think that any mass marketed honey whiskey should be just as balanced, so have at it with your Jack Daniel's Tennessee Honey or Wild Turkey Honey.
  • 2 oz. bourbon or blended whiskey (homemade honey bourbon used)
  • 1/2 oz. grapefruit juice
  • 2 tsp. honey (dissolved in 1 tsp. warm water if not using a honey whiskey)
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

Fred Ferretti's Delight

Such a whimsical name for a drink, and one that's perhaps become enigmatic over time. The question remains: who is this Fred Ferretti? Is it the New York Time's food critic or just some guy at the bar who had a thing for Italian spirits. We might never know.

This is a proper name for an Italian cocktail, however, with grappa and Strega and citrus. I didn't have grappa, which is a brandy made from grape pumice. But in terms of taste, kirschwasser comes very close. It is made from black cherry juice, it is also clear, and hit has a funky fruit brandy taste and scent. Plus, Black Forest cherries aren't too far from Northern Italy anyway.

I think the overall experience with this drink is that it is balanced citrus flavors with rich liquors with a lot of character of their own. I'd like to try it again with grappa, or try it out on someone. If I ever run into a guy named Fred Ferretti, I'll ask him if he wants one.
  • 1 oz. kirschwasser
  • 1 oz. Strega
  • 1 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 oz. orange juice
  • lemon or orange twist
Combine liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with the twist. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Kilauea Kup


It felt good to break out the tiki mugs again last weekend. I especially enjoy trying new rums like Vitae Barrel-Aged. This rum is really flavorful and oaky, owing to its aging in cabernet franc and ex-bourbon barrels.

The cocktail itself is simpler than many tikis, taking several shortcuts like Rose's lime cordial and coconut rum where those are no longer necessary. It also calls for creme de banane where I get away with the drier and more real-tasting MurLarkey banana whiskey. I can't imagine how sweet this drink would be with all of that pineapple juice if I didn't substitute out the sugary syrups and cordials. Still, there's something fun about having a sweet tiki cocktail once in a while. It really shows that you have very few cares, not the least being what's in your drink.

I've updated the recipe with my changes (improvements?) in parentheses.
  • 1 1/2 oz. gold rum (Vitae barrel-aged used)
  • 1/2 oz. creme de banane (3/4 oz. MurLarkey banana whiskey used)
  • 4 oz. pineapple juice
  • 1 tsp. coconut rum (1 tsp. cream of coconut used)
  • orange slice and cherry for garnishes
Combine all ingredients except garnishes in a shaker with cracked ice. Shake and pour into an chilled Collins glass (or a fun tiki mug as shown). Garnish away with fruit on hand.

Rush Street

I was doubtful at first that Rush Street was a real place, like the imaginary London Below in Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere. It turns out that it is a one-way street in northern Chicago, named after Benjamin Rush, an original signatory of the U.S. Constitution. That means it is another Chicago cocktail and a late colonial style drink. That explains why it is a cognac cocktail; before whiskey took over as a locally-made spirit, cognac and French liqueurs were popular with colonials who refused to drink British rum.

So the Rush Street belongs with the cognac-based Chicago Cocktail and the gin-heavy South Side! The fun ingredients that set the Rush Street apart display a  full-on Frenchness:  orgeat syrup and Mandarine Napoleon. I used to make my own orgeat syrup, but now I buy it. And now because of the Pandemic, I am making my own Mandarine Napoleon, the mandarin orange and spiced cognac spirit that Napoleon himself was said to enjoy.
  • 1 1/2 oz. brandy (Larressingle armagnac used)
  • 1/2 oz. Mandarine Napoleon
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • several dashes orgeat syrup
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

Monday, May 18, 2020

Barranquilla Buck

A Buck is a fizzy short drink, often made with rum. This cocktail is exactly that and a typical serving you might find in Barranquilla, Columbia. The exception however is that this particular cocktail was made with Vitae Platinum Rum, not a Colombian offering.

It is light, a little dry, but the falernum helps with balance. You really taste the rum, which is a good thing. It should be a little rustic tasting, like most South American rum cocktails. Not fussy, and easy to make and drink.
  • 1 1/2 oz. light rum (Vitae Platinum Rum used)
  • 1/2 oz. falernum 
  • 1 oz. lemon juice
  • club soda
  • orange slice
Combine all ingredients except soda and orange slice in a shaker with ice. Shake and pour into a chilled Old Fashioned glass. Top with soda and stir. Garnish with the orange slice.

Bandana

This cocktail's name comes across like a Freudian slip or a spoonerism--and that might be its origin. I can just see someone asking a bandana-clad bartender to make them one of those bandana cocktails. The flavor, though, is banana, and it comes from MurLarkey banana whiskey. Normally we associate banana drinks with rum, but when you try this, you'll see how good banana and whiskey can be.

Typically fake banana flavors can be added to a cocktail with banana flavored rums or cheap creme de banane. MurLarkey Banana whiskey is made from their corn whiskey infused with dried bananas. It is dry, not like banana candy. You can sweeten it for a cocktail or drink it neat and it tastes like an aged rum agricole.
  • 1 1/2 oz. blended whiskey (Proper Twelve used)
  • 3/4 oz. banana liqueur (MurLarkey banana whiskey used)
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. orange juice
 Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Banyan Cocktail

It's not huge like the ancient tree it is named after, nor is it visually impressive. The flavor, however, can transport you to a tropical place. This is accomplished with exotic tasting rum, apricot brandy--which always makes heads spin--and rich, creamy orgeat.

Vitae has a special edition barrel aged rum that I selected for this cocktail. It has a rich and spicy flavor that is close to an aged rum from Barbados, and less funky than a Jamacian rum. This was definitely a good choice, but be careful in selecting any "gold" rum for your own version. A blended down gold rum like Bacardi will have less character and you lose some of the woody notes that I think the cocktail requires. Aged rum is the key (though also blended) because it isn't trying to sneak into a blended daiquiri, it is making a statement in a stiff tropical cocktail.
  • 1 1/2 oz. gold rum (Vitae barrel aged rum used)
  • 3/4 oz. apricot brandy (Jacquin's used)
  • 1/2 oz. lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. orgeat (Liber & Co. used)
  • dash grenadine
 Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Hearn's Cocktail

According to Robert F. Moss, author of Southern Spirits: Four Hundred Years of Drinking in the American South, this cocktail can be traced back to one man. Lafcadio Hearn was a popular news and magazine author who collected popular New Orleans recipes in la Cuisine Creole. Much of his recipes refer to punches and pousse cafes designed to impress dinner guests, but he also included two dozen recipes of "New Orleans style" cocktails with whiskey, absinthe and bitters. This one includes all three:
  • 3/4 oz. Irish whiskey (Proper Twelve used)
  • 3/4 oz. Pernod (Ricard used)
  • 3/4 oz. sweet vermouth
  • several dashes Angostura bitters
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

Polynesian Sour

Though there's no traditional spirit from Hawaii or the Polynesian islands, La Grande Passion is probably the the closest a liqueur has come to being Hawaiian. It is, however, French and it is also out of production. I made my own version with armagnac and passion fruit. Now we have the most tropical of Sours ready for consumption on Waikiki Beach or just in your own backyard (or mine.) 

There's a lot going on here: sour lemon and orange juice backed by passionfruit's acidic bitterness, and soft, round armagnac and sweet sugar cane from rum. I'm using the Vitae Platinum rum again with it's light flavor and smooth body. Altogether, you get the impression of something very familiar--because it is just a sweet Sour--and something wholly exotic you've never experienced before.
  • 1 1/2 oz. light rum (Vitae Platinum used)
  • 1/2 oz. La Grande Passion (homemade recipe used)
  • 1 oz. orange juice
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 oz. pineapple juice
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar syrup (or rock candy syrup made thicker with a rich sugar)
  • pineapple slice
Combine all ingredients except pineapple slice in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled Sour glass and garnish with the pineapple slice. 


Waterloo

Napoleon was defeated by this cocktail--the lightweight.* That's the thinking behind this lovely summer cooler with whiskey and mandarin orange flavors.

This recipe is super local to Virginia while I'm stuck bartending at home right now. It has MurLarkey Heritage whiskey, from Bristow, VA, and a Mandarine Napoleon liqueur that I made myself. You may be able to buy Mandarine Napoleon, a proprietary French liqueur made with cognac, but I can't. Deciding I wouldn't be defeated, I infused my own cognac with oranges and spices.
  • 1 1/2 oz. whiskey (MurLarkey Heritage used)
  • 3/4 oz. Mandarine Napoleon
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. sugar syrup
  • club soda
Combine all ingredients except soda in a shaker with ice. Shake and pour into a chilled Collins glass. Top with soda and stir. 
 

* Note: Napoleon may have been a light drinker, but the Duke of Wellington defeated him at Waterloo.

French Twist

Bourbon, named after the French royal family at the time of it's creation, is the most French whiskey made in America. Cognac is quintessentially French as well. All this cocktail needs is a liqueur to sweeten it--why not something bearing a royal name as well?

Royal Combier is the coup de grace (in place of Grand Marnier listed in the original recipe) because of its regal combination of cognac, oranges and spices. The only thing left according to the name is the twist (not listed in the original recipe.) I think I really improved this cocktail. The only thing I wouldn't change is the portion size--its kingly.
  • 1 1/2 oz. bourbon
  • 1 1/2 oz. cognac
  • 1/2 oz. Grand Marnier (Royal Combier used)
  • lemon twist
Combine all ingredients except lemon peel. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Twist the lemon peel over the glass and drop it in. 

Maria's Manhattan

A few lucky coincidences made this cocktail especially good. One is that I made my strawberry liqueur from Vitae's platinum rum and fresh (underripe strawberries.) The other is that I used MurLarkey Heritage whiskey instead of a lighter blended whiskey. The ingredient that makes this cocktail different from any other Manhattan, strawberry liqueur, also has the potential to cover over the richness of the other ingredients that define a Manhattan's profile.

MurLarkey's Heritage is a rich and well-aged corn whiskey with hints of smoke and spice cake. It isn't bourbon, however, and tastes closer to Irish whiskey except for its high proof and old country whiskey style. My strawberry liqueur is a combination of strawberries infused in rum and a cooked strawberry simple syrup. It's delicious, and with a rich vermouth, supplies hints of fresh fruit as well as a cooked jam.
  • 1 1/2 oz. whiskey (MurLarkey Heritage used)
  • 1/2 oz. sweet vermouth
  • 1/2 oz. strawberry liqueur (homemade version used)
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a strawberry if you have one.

Pino Frio

This long frozen drink really screams Caribbean vacation. It is easy to make with a blender and only a little more of a hassle if you are just using crushed ice and crushed pineapple.

I'm using Vitae's Platinum rum again because it is so flavorful, you can drink it by itself. This cocktail really depends on an interesting rum because it doesn't have much else except pineapple going on. And that is to its credit. It is easy to overdo a tropical drink to the point that it ceases to be refreshing in hot weather--which is kinda the point of tropical drinks. Here falernum serves as the sweetener, so you don't get a sugar rush in the summer sun.
  • 1 1/2 oz. light rum (Vitae Platinum used)
  • 1 oz. pineapple juice
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 2 pineapple slices cubed
  • dash falernum (homemade falernum used) 
  • mint sprig garnish
Combine pineapple and liquid ingredients in a blender with ice. Blend until smooth and pour into a chilled Collins glass. Garnish with the mint sprig. 

Istrian Smiling

I have always thought that this cocktail had a lovely name: a quixotic mashup of an active verb signaling pleasure and a peninsula to the west of Venice. (It's not a typo: "I Strain Smiling.")

One of the difficulties I've had in Virginia is acquiring less common spirits, especially unusual European liqueurs. I've had to fall back on making them myself. Sometimes I have the help of an on-line recipe for things like Amer Picon and Swedish Punsh. Other times, I've had to take a chance that my hunch of how the liquor tastes based on its description and hope that I can approximate it with ingredients I have at home. That is the case with Mandarine Napoleon; I was really shooting in the dark. But tips describing it's spicy citrus brightness (clove, coriander and mandarin zest) and its relatively low sweetness (caramel and vanilla) helped me zero in on a recipe that is close to the citrus and cognac liqueur.

Once I've confirmed that my recipe I'll include it with this post. As it stands now, this is the recipe for this very satisfying and not too sweet cocktail.
  • 1 1/2 oz. gin (Bulldog London Dry used)
  • 1 oz. creme de cassis (G. E. Messenez used)
  • 1/2 oz. Mandarine Napoleon (DIY Mandarine used)
  • tonic water (Fever Tree used)
Combine all ingredients except tonic water in a shaker with ice. Shake and pour into a chilled Collins glass. Top with chilled tonic water and stir. 

Monday, May 11, 2020

Allies

Gin and kummel go well together, so the thinking goes. Why not put two German spirits in a single cocktail and enjoy it with a little dry vermouth? What a classic pairing!

Monkey 47 is a dry gin with black forest botanicals that make this gin the deluxe brand that it is. Kummel is sweet and requires a dry gin to keep the balance. What you get is a cocktail that is more than the sum of its parts. There's juniper and caraway, gentian and fennel, anise seed and black pepper! Too many flavors to take in at one time. Make yourself a second drink!
  • 1 oz. gin (Monkey 47 used)
  • 1 oz. dry vermouth
  • several dashes of kummel (1/2 oz. recommended)
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into an Old Fashioned glass full of fresh ice. 

Silver Bullet (revisited with homemade kummel)

I remember not liking this drink very much when I opted for Jagermeister (the recommended substitute for kummel). After having several drinks with my homemade honey and caraway kummel, I'm happy to say that the best part of the Silver Bullet is the kummel.

This is a sweet and sour classic combination with gin. I chose Vitae Old Tom gin for its barrel age and sweet marshmallow flavor that I was correct in assuming would play nice with kummel. It did and I had a very enjoyable afternoon drink that was surprisingly easy to make.
  • 2 oz. gin (Vitae Old Tom used)
  • 1 oz. kummel (homemade kummel used)
  • 1 oz. lemon juice
 Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

Laurali

This pretty cocktail is named after a lovely green island on the Rhine River. It uses kummel in its attempt to associate it with Germany's national caraway spirit.

Green creme de menthe has a tendency to overwhelm a cocktail with the scent and flavor of mouthwash. It is rare that the balance is right to make for an appetizing cocktail. This is one of those rare occasions.The gin and kummel come through and give an earthy lower register to the airy mint notes. The honey in the kummel is warming and delicious as well and takes the flavor profile out of the mouthwash zone.
  • 1 1/2 oz. gin (MurLarkey ImaGination gin used)
  • 1/4 oz.kummel
  •  1/2 oz. green creme de menthe
  • 1/4 oz. lemon juice
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and double strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Pavilion Caprice Cooler

This cocktail has a charming name. It is appropriately whimsical and suggests a luxurious escape to the shade on a hot day.

The original Pavilion Caprice recipe calls for peach flavored brandy. I could have used apricot brandy, but I think that the intense peach flavor of Bird Dog peach whiskey is more suited to balance the grapefruit juice and lemon.

I'm impressed by the balance in this cocktail. I rarely come across flavor combinations that surprise me anymore. I expected a peaches and cream flavor. Instead, the Pavilion Caprice comes across as exotic with grapefruit juice and peaches rising and falling away from the tongue in a delightful way.
  • 1/2 oz. honey
  • 4 oz. grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 oz. peach brandy (Bird Dog peach whiskey used)
  • 1 egg white
Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend to combine without ice to incorporate the honey. Add ice and blend until smooth and pour into a chilled Squall glass or brandy snifter.

Berliner

That's not the U.S. Capitol Building in the background, that's the Reichstag in Berlin! That is because this cocktail is the German capital's namesake. I thought it fitting to use a German gin like Monkey 47, and I wasn't disappointed. It is dry and loaded with botanicals to keep things interesting in what is basically a Gin Sour with a German bent.

Kummel, the other signature ingredient, is a sweetened neutral spirit flavored with caraway and other herbs and spices. It is the sweetener in this drink and you must use a sweet variety of kummel or the cocktail will be too acidic. Even with my sweet honey kummel, I still felt I needed to add a dash more to balance the lemon juice--it wasn't because I love kummel and drink it by itself. Okay, I do love kummel and drink it by itself, but you should adjust this recipe for taste as I did.
  • 1 1/2 oz. gin (Monkey 47 gin used)
  • 1/2 oz. kummel (homemade used)
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. dry vermouth
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and double strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

Manhattan Cooler

New York has so many cocktails named after it and its many boroughs. And rightly so! After all, this is one of the birthplaces of the cocktail--certainly the Atlantic coast origin of mixed drinks, if not the world's most cocktailing city.

Like all Coolers, the Manhatan Cooler attempts to make a fizzy long drink with soda. And it is fittingly New York in style with a whiskey based Sour drink. Here MurLarkey's Heritage whiskey threads the needle between Bourbon and Rye style whiskey that tastes quintessentially American.
  • 1 1/2 oz. blended whiskey (MurLarkey Heritage whiskey used but any blend or straight is fine as long as it is American. 
  • 1/2 oz. dry vermouth
  • 1/2 oz. amaretto
  • 2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 oz. orange juice
  • club soda
Combine all ingredients except soda in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled Collins glass full of fresh ice. Top with soda and stir. (Note: I used a classic Sour garnish of a lemon wheel and a cherry.) 

Kummel Chameleon (Original Recipe)

I've been waiting to make a cocktail with this name for a long time. It's a silly name that banks on the color-changing effect of butterfly pea flower and the memorable song Karma Chameleon by Culture Club. This is a cocktail with a gimmick. Butterfly pea flower has a potent die that tasteless and changes with the ph of the liquid it is infused into. In its neutral color, it looks like a deep cobalt blue. In a basic solution, the pea flower turns turquoise. Add acid to the solution and it turns a rosy purple. That is why it is so fun to work with! You can make a drink that changes before your eyes!

Kummel is a German caraway and honey spirit with a funny name. I made it the same way I do with aquavit--infusion of neutral spirits with caraway and other spices. I finish the spirit with honey diluted with hot water.

To make the pea flower solution, soak several butterfly pea flowers in a cup of vodka for twenty-four hours. To maintain its color, keep it separate from other ingredients: wine, citrus and milk will change the ph and cause the infusion to change.

When making this cocktail I use a basic simple syrup. You can make your simple syrup basic by adding a pinch of baking soda. Using this syrup will cause the pea flower to turn turquoise. Now to get the color change effect, follow the instructions for the cocktail carefully and have someone film the drink. The change is so immediate that it is shocking!
  • 1 oz. gin (Monkey 47 used)
  • 1 oz. kummel (homemade kummel used, but either sweet or dry commercial brands will work)
  • 3/4 oz. butterfly pea flower infused vodka
  • 1 tsp. basic simple syrup (which has a pinch of baking soda in it)
  • 1 oz. cold gruner veltliner or off-sweet white wine
  • 1 oz. cold lime juice
Combine kummel, pea flower infused vodka, gin and basic simple syrup in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. To create the color change, add cold white wine and lime juice and stir.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Ladbroke Road Cocktail

This bright fizzy drink is going for everything English from strawberries to gin. The British love their gin! What better way to enjoy it than with fresh fruit and a long refreshing soda drink. Ladbroke probably refers to Ladbroke Grove tube station in London, a posh area near Notting Hill. Or else it might be the village of Ladbroke in Warwickshire, but I tend to think the former as it is better known.

A note on the bottle pictured left: the label doesn't correspond with a product that I know of. This was an image I printed, perhaps of a now defunct producer of flavored moonshines. What you see here is a Vitae rum distillery bottle with the printed label on top. I have the recipe for this here.

I'm finding that I enjoy these liqueurs I'm making at home more than store-bought ingredients. Often you pay too much for them or the quality is poor compared to what you can make in your kitchen if you have the fresh fruit and good booze.
  • 1 1/2 oz. gin (MurLarkey ImaGination used)
  • 1 oz. homemade strawberry liqueur made with Vitae Platinum rum 
  • dash triple sec
  • club soda 
  • lemon peel
  • whole strawberry
Combine liquid ingredients except soda in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a Collins glass full of fresh ice. Top with soda and stir gently. Garnish with the strawberry and lemon twist.

Bateaux Mouche

The Bateaux Mouche are those long sight-seeing boats on the Seine river in Paris. The ingredients in this cocktail are appropriately French. Silky cognac and Lillet blanc blend well together. Curacao and lemon juice lighten and add fresh citrus juice and scent to round everything out. It is like French cuisine, well-honed and time-honored--a little predictable in a good way--with elegance and charm.

I like the addition of Lillet Blanc in what would otherwise be a standard Sidecar. Parisians take Lillet chilled the the afternoons. It's not especially strong and only a little bit bitter. But it is much better in a cocktails where its sweetness adds balance.
  • 1 1/2oz. cognac (Courvoissier VS used)
  • 1/2 oz. Lillet blanc
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. sugar syrup
  • 1/2 oz. curacao
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

Grand Passion

I've seen this name before, referring to La Grande Passion passionfruit liqueur, but this is the first time I've seen it done this way: no juices and a heavy helping of gin. Unfortunately a dry and spicy gin competes with the soft armagnac and passion fruit flavors. To make it worse, Angostura bitters have such a strong baking spice blast that you have to try very hard to detect passion fruit.

I'd like to try different variations of this cocktail: one that uses an Old Tom gin and some kind of citrus bitters. That might take care of the balance problem that I found. Another trick might be to increase the la Grande Passion proportion, maybe invert it to two-to-one passion fruit to gin. For now I am going to post the recipe and encourage everyone to adjust it to your preference.
  • 2 oz. gin
  • 1 oz. la Grande Passion
  • several dashes Angostura bitters
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

7 of Diamonds

This is the only one of the playing card series of Seagram's Seven cocktails that is served up. I half wonder if it was created by mistake: shouldn't it be made with orange juice and some kind of red liqueur like Campari?

Like as not, this was the most popular of the many different attempts to come up with two distinct tasting whiskey cocktails with a red color. Given that the agreed-upon recipe probably came about during the "dark ages" of cocktails, the 1970s-1990s, I can understand why the only other ingredient available on most bars that will suffice was creme de cassis.

Too bad that creme de cassis is made with black current--or at least it is colored and flavored like black current--and it isn't very red. The color is a little deep, like a cloudy ruby, and the flavor is unbalanced and too sweet, like the rest of the playing cards series. But you can respect that given that they are all long drinks. This cocktail is neither promoting casual cocktail mixing nor is it classy enough to warrant a cocktail glass. But you  can't police taste, and the fact that this drink is still with us means that enough of them were consumed once upon a time to make their mark on history.
  • 1 1/2 oz. Seagram's Seven Crown whiskey
  • 1 oz. creme de cassis
  • dash of lemon juice (make it a heavy half ounce)
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

7 of Clubs

That's right! I have Mexican Coke! What's so great about Mexican coke? Real sugar: you can tell it tastes a bit more rich, the cola less citric. It's a throwback flavor for some of us who miss the way Coca-Cola used to taste.

Here the classic Seagram's Seven Crown playing cards series experiments with the idea of a mint flavored cola. It is not as bad as it sounds. The sweet long drink known as the 7 of Clubs has a cool minty finish. I rather like how it is cleansing and a little like a classic soda fountain treat from bygone years. When sipped through a straw, it comes across like a quaint but almost forgotten luxury.
  • 1 1/2 oz. Seagram's 7 Crown whiskey
  • 3/4 oz. peppermint schnapps (white creme de menthe used)
  • 6 oz. cola (Mexican Coke used)
Build cocktail with whiskey and schnapps in a Collins glass. Add ice and top with cola. Stir gently with the straw.

7 of Spades

I'm ticking off the Seagram's 7 playing cards drinks while I have a bottle of the blended whiskey. Whatever you may think of this American standard, especially now that Bourbon and local whiskey are in full swing, Seagram's 7 is smooth. It is made with seventy-five percent grain neutral spirit. That means that the remaining twenty-five percent is what tastes like aged whiskey. The rest is as smooth as vodka. This is useful when mixing a basic cocktail, one or two mixers that are nominally very sweet ingredients.

I'm not saying that these cocktails are bad or good. They are good if you are in the mood for a flavored Coke with an alcoholic kick. And if you are going to throw together a sweet long drink, Seagram's Seven Crown is as good as any other whiskey, and probably better, really. Of course, you're welcome to mix your best bourbon with Coke, but I bet you won't. I wouldn't.
  • 1 1/2 oz. Seagram's 7 Crown whiskey
  • 1/2 oz. amaretto 
  • 6 oz. of cola (Mexican Coke used)
  • several dashes of lemon juice (optional, but very nice)
Build drink with whiskey and amaretto in a Collins glass. Add ice and top with cola. Stir gently and add lemon juice dashes if desired. 

Picon Cocktail

Yet another Amer Picon Cocktil--this time it is with equal parts dry vermouth. I like that dry vermouth gets out of the way and lets you get a good gob of this French orange bitter spirit. The color is lovely, not muddy from sweet vermouth or citrus juice like other cocktails that bear the same name.
 Combine ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

George V Cocktail

A kingly cocktail requires royal ingredients--I mean Lillet and Royal Combier. This cocktail fits well within the classic French gin cocktails using wine and cognac-based spirits. Orange and spice rule here. Lillet blanc is an orange bitter and fortified wine. Royal Combier has north African spices and oranges in its cognac and eau de vie blend. Finally, orange bitters punch up the baking spices like clove and allspice and bring the orange flavor to the front.
  • 1 1/2 oz. gin (MurLarkey ImaGination used)
  • 1 tsp. oz. Cointreau (Royal Combier used and recommended)
  • 1 oz. Lillet Blanc
  • several dashes orange bitters (Hella used)
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Vincennes

Whiskey takes a back seat to richness, here with Ricard and Dubonnet taking over. Every drink needs its "thing." In this case that thing is lime peel. Im not sure what that's about, but the overall experience is one of those licorice cough drops you got at the druggist and your mom ate all of them, even though you had a cough and she didn't. It all comes together in this Quasi-French experience, and perhaps the experience of people my age who went to druggists for penny candy as children once did.
  • 1 1/2 oz. blended whiskey (Proper Twelve whiskey used)
  • 1 oz. Dubonnet Rouge
  • 1/2 oz. triple sec
  • dash Pernod (Ricard used and totally acceptable as a substitute, maybe even preferable)
  • lime twist
Combine liquid ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Twist lime zest over the glass and drop it in. 

Appian Way

This is such a beautiful name for a beautiful cocktail! The Appian Way is named after the Roman road built between Rome and Brindisi by Appius Claudius Caecus. This drink bursts with Italian herbal spirits like Strega and ameretto. You get mint, saffron, lemon, basil, vanilla and almond among many other spices.

Again, when making Italian cocktails, I go for MurLarkey ImaGination because it has basil and rosemary botanicals and it really mixes well with sweet liqueurs for a classic gin cocktail experience.
  • 1 1/2 oz. MurLarkey ImaGination gin
  • 1/2 oz. Strega
  • 1/2 oz. amaretto
  • orange slice
Combine liquid ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the orange slice.

Bonsoni

This is a very balanced Italian cocktail with a very Italian name. I don't love Fernet Branca as much an many people say I should. That is to say it is not always my spirit of choice and I find it difficult to work into cocktails without overwhelming everything else. But this is a simple and elegant cocktail that uses Fernet Branca sparingly and pulls of the proper balance by simply adjusting the proportions.

I recommend a rich Italian vermouth like Cocchi with this drink. For one, it keeps with the Italian theme. But it also ensures that necessary balance with the Fernet Branca. I'm using their Dopo Teatro vermouth, which is extra bitter and has a lot of oak barrel weightiness. Perfect for balancing Fernet.
  • 3 oz. sweet vermouth (Cocchi Dopo Teatro used)
  • 1 oz. Fernet Branca
  • lemon or orange peel
Combine liquors in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Twist citrus zest over the drink and drop it in.

7 of Hearts

One of the Seagram's Seven cocktails associated with playing cards, the Seven of Hearts is a rich and rewarding long drink that satisfies the sweet tooth. How do you make America's smoothest whiskey even easier to drink? Add amaretto and orange juice. That's basically it.

I used Tempus Fugeit creme de noyaux as an amaretto substitute since they are basically equivalent. Since the seven of hearts is a red suit, I thought that noyaux actually made an improvement with its bright red color.
  • 1 1/2 oz. Seagram's Seven Crown whiskey
  • 1/2 oz. amaretto (Tempus Fugeit creme de noyaux used)
  • 1 tsp grenadine
  • 6 oz. orange juice
Build drink in a Collins glass by adding the first three ingredients. Then add ice and top with orange juice. Stir gently before serving. 

Gin Bolognese

I like this cocktail. I like its name, too. A kind of mix of things that are gin and also go with gin. There's something quaint and quintessentially Italian about it. First it uses Fernet Branca unabashedly and doesn't try to sweeten things up at all. Then there's the half ounce of orange bitters! A half ounce! The Gin Bolognese is by far the most dry and bitter cocktail I've ever had. And yet, it is still balanced and enjoyable. Just make sure to make it your first drink of the night.

Here MurLarkey ImaGination gin is a perfect pairing because of its basil and rosemary botanicals. I like how it accentuates the Italianness of this cocktail. 
  • 1 1/2 oz. gin (MurLarkey ImaGination gin used)
  • 1/2 oz. Fernet Branca
  • 1/2 oz. orange bitters (homemade used, but I recommend Regan's)
  • lemon twist
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Twist lemon zest over the glass and drop it in. 

Dubonnet Manhattan

I'm making a lot of Manhattan variations to prove that there are many ways to make this classic cocktail. This one falls in the Sweet Manhattan category, using the sweet Dubonnet Rouge instead of Italian Sweet vermouth. Vermouth and Dubonnet are both bitter wine spirits, but Dubonnet adds even more richness, and that is easy to appreciate.

I grounded this Manhattan in the U.S. with MurLarkey Heritage whiskey. So that while this is a French Manhattan, it tastes very Virginia. Heritage is a straight whiskey, but it is so different from bourbon or rye that it is kind of its own thing. It has a strong corn presence, so I felt it was ideal to use it in a drink with Dubonnet, which tends to smother base liquors in cocktails.
  • 1 1/2 oz. blended whiskey (MurLarkey Heritage used)
  • 1 oz. Duboennt Rouge
  • maraschino cherry
Combine liquid ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the cherry.

Whiskey Curacao Fizz

Not exactly a Fizz, but very fizzy. It gets a great reception from those who are not big whiskey drinkers and are looking for something refreshing and clean tasting in the afternoon. That doesn't mean it isn't potent or full of flavor. It is bursting with vanilla and orange from the juice and curacao!
  • 2 oz. blended whiskey (Seagram's Seven Crown used)
  • 1/2 oz. curacao (Vitae Orange Liqueur used)
  • 1 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • club soda
  • orange slice
Combine juice, sugar and liquor in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a highball glass full of ice. Top with soda and stir gently. Garnish with the Orange slice.

Parisian Manhattan


I guess you can call a Manhattan a Parisian if you use any French liqueur, but then it might not taste like a Manhattan. It depends on the flavor of that several dashes of liqueur you choose. That is why I felt that this Manhattan Variation was especially adroit!

Amer Picon is essentially an orange bitters recipe. Yes, it is a little sweeter--easier to drink by itself--but since many Manhattan recipes call for orange bitters, Picon is really an easy way to slip something French into an American classic without really changing the overall profile.
  • 1 1/2 oz. blended whiskey (Seagram's Seven Crown used)
  • several dashes Amer Picon
  • maraschino cherry
Combine whiskey and Amer Picon in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the cherry. 

Dutch Martini

This is a cocktail that kind of swings between a classic Martini with gin and a Dry Manhattan with malt whiskey. That is because Dutch genever like Bols is made (in part) with a malted barley mash that is steeped in juniper and botanicals. The juniper and herbal flavor is lighter than gin, but it also has a heavy malt body and a beery nose. So I am doing this drink because it really isn't like any other Martini, or any other cocktail for that matter.

This recipe appears in Poister's New American Bartender's Guide, 1997 edition. This was a time where vermouth was at its lowest influence, in terms of people's preference for Martinis. The recipe calls for a half teaspoon of dry vermouth, but I happen to like to use more, particularly when it is good vermouth like Carpano Extra Dry.
  • 1 1/2 oz. Bols Genever 
  • 1/2 tsp. dry vermouth (Carpano used)
  • lemon twist
Combine liquid ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Twist lemon zest over the glass and drop it in. 

Monday, April 20, 2020

Bourbon Branca

This is a simple cocktail that combines two very unlike things. I love how bourbon softens the dryness of Fernet Branca, adding vanilla notes to the menthol and earthy Italian spirit. For this cocktail, I chose the whiskey that is iconic of Kentucky bourbon flavor, Evan Williams Bottled in Bond edition. It is strong and smooth, with a vanilla and hazelnut nose and a sweet center and nutty finish. The recipe says that the lemon twist is optional. I strongly advocate for it if you have fresh fruit. It ties these two spirits together. Without citrus zest they tend to fight each other for your attention.
  • 2 oz. Bourbon
  • 1 tsp. Fernet Branca
  • lemon twist (cut zest in a long strip and use a sharp knife to shape it into a shoestring width. Twist it over the drink and drop it in)
Combine all ingredients except zest in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with long lemon twist.

Botofogo Cocktail

There must be an alternate universe out there where bitters are hard to find but you can walk into any liquor store and pick up a bottle of Amer Picon. In our world, Amer Picon has disappeared in the U.S.

That's the link between the Botofogo and a Manhattan. Amer Picon is a great substitute for orange bitters. It has a cola-like richness and tons of bitter orange flavor. My homemade Amer is made with Ramazzotti, orange peels, MurLarkey Justice white whiskey, and Royal Combier.

A Manhattan with orange bitters lightens up a Manhattan for spring drinking. Fortunately there are a half dozen commercially available kinds of orange bitters from Regans and Hella to Fee Bros. Bittermans. You can still make your own with the peels of six oranges and a cup of high proof neutral spirits. Let the peels soak for a month and strain out the solids. These bitters are cheap and never go bad. Once you have these, you are on the right track to making Amer Picon.
  • 1 oz. blended whiskey (MurLarkey Heritage used)
  • 1 oz. sweet vermouth (Cocchi Dopo Teatro used)
  • several dashes Amer Picon
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

Summer Fizz (and DIY Strawberry Liqueur)

This is a fun drink that I imagine would be great for outdoor sipping in the summer. If only it was warm enough this spring...and we weren't social distancing. Sadly, no pool drinks in the foreseeable future. 

You can use any whiskey you choose, and I recommend Irish or Canadian for their lightness and the fact that they are blended for swift drinking. The heavy portion of grapefruit juice needs a sweet cordial for balance. That's where strawberry liqueur comes in.

There are a number of strawberry flavored cordials on the market. I quickly made this rum-based one using Vitae's platinum rum infused with strawberries while I folded in some strawberry syrup I made on the stove.

DIY Strawberry Liqueur
To make this take a cup of any white rum and soak six cored strawberries in it for three days. Take an
additional six berries and add them to 1/2 cup of white sugar and water. Heat these to boil and stir until the sugar dissolves. Mash the berries while they are hot to make a jam and allow it to cool. Strain the fruit from the syrup and fold it into the strawberry rum. Bottle it in something that seals. It should keep for six months refrigerated.

Now for the cocktail:
  • 1 1/2 oz. blended whiskey (Proper Twelve used)
  • 3 oz. grapefruit juice
  • 1 tsp. strawberry liqueur (Homemade Vitae based used)
  • club soda
Combine all ingredients except club soda in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a highball glass full of fresh ice. Top with soda and stir gently.