Tuesday, January 21, 2020


Alright, champagne cocktail drinkers--here is another beauty! The Ric-O-Chet is a lot like a Death In The Afternoon, in that it is a sparkling cocktail with a ton of herbal flavored and grape-based spirits in it. It's almost a drink designed to display the color of the spirits and present an interesting form of glassware for consuming something that pretty much tastes like absinthe. It will also kick your butt and make you quite tired if you make it part of your day drinking routine.

The recipe calls for cognac, and there is almost no reason to use a high quality spirit. But since I didn't have any cheap cognac, I opted for my pricey armagnac by Larressingle. I'd like to say that this was a good move, but a lot of the subtlety of armagnac is lost behind the anise and licorice of Ricard. If anything, the cognac is there to spread that flavor around and make the Ricard a little more rich.

One key to this drink (and any restaurant bartender who tries this by reducing the liquor content by half in order to be sold legally in most states) is to build the drink with the cognac and Ricard in the glass first and add ice to chill it. This allows the herbs in the Ricard to express out and create a cloudy caramel visual effect. Remove the ice with a spoon and top with the champagne and stir.
  • 1 oz. cognac (Larressingle armagnac used)
  • 1 1/2 oz. Ricard
  • sparkling wine or champagne
Add Ricard and cognac to a chilled champagne flute and stir to chill. Remove the ice with a spoon and top with sparkling wine or champagne and stir gently. 

Imperial Kir

Now that I'm on the subject of Kirs, let me introduce you to this baddie! It is a Kir on steroids (or Kirsh, actually) and it combines two fruit spirits with bubbles and a lot of crushed ice. The Kirshwasser--not a small portion, here--is probably what promotes the Kir Royale to an emperor. If not that, though, it must be the massive size of this drink. It's like it is designed to wipe out any drinker in one cocktail.

Kirschwasser--the traditional stuff from Germany, like this Kammer Kirsch--is very high proof. It tastes like dry fruit brandy, and I love how that dryness and fruit comes through what is normally a sweet black current pie of a cocktail. Crushed ice makes the whole think unbelievably cold compared to the often improperly-served warm Kir (when you don't chill the cassis and just put it in the warm glass and top with champagne and hope for the best.) It turns out that the Imperial Kir is a drink that is enjoyable when you take your time with it and let it dilute a little. At this strength and size, you almost have to!
  • 2 oz. creme de cassis (G. E Massenez used)
  • 1 oz. kirschwasser (Kammer Kirsch used)
  • champagne or sparkling wine
Combine creme de cassis ingredients with crushed ice in a shaker or blender. Shake or blend briefly to combine evenly and pour into a large wine goblet. Top with champagne or sparkling wine and stir gently.

Bubbling Passion

This sparkling wine cocktail is the passionfruit edition of of a Kir Royale! It uses the now extinct la Grande Passion liqueur that Grand Marnier used to make. In this resurected drink, the passionfruit comes through the bubbles even better than cassis, and you can even taste the chocolate notes--not bad for an easy bubbles cocktail.
  • 1 1/2 oz. la Grande Passion liqueur
  • sparkling wine or champagne
  • lemon twist
Pour la Grande Passion into a chilled champagne flute and top with sparkling wine or Champagne. Twist lemon peel over the glass and drop it in.

Ricard Rose

This cocktail is not a Jack Rose. It isn't even a Rose by another name. It is the one and only, fully alliterative Ricard Rose. The fun thing about this drink besides the interesting combination of Ricard, an anise and licorice Pastis, with cranberry juice, is the addition of a lot of dark rum. For this cocktail I used my own black rum that is made with molasses and a blend of aged and overproof lightly aged rums.
  • 3/4 oz. Ricard
  • 1 1/2 oz. dark rum (aged molasses-based rum recommended)
  • 4 oz. cranberry juice
Fill a wine goblet or large balloon stemmed glass with crushed ice*. Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake to chill and strain into the wine goblet.

*Note--Try this cocktail might work equally well blended until smooth and poured directly into a wine glass.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

The Mystery Cocktail

I want to call this drink La Mysterie just to make it more French. It uses two lesser known French liqueurs in such a unique way. It is both metropolitan Paris and representative of the far-flung colonial reaches of Asia and the pacific with rich passion fruit flavors.

Though La Grande Passion is extinct, it can still be reproduced. And even though pastis like Ricard are so herbaceous and dry, you can still taste the passion fruit sweetness coming back in this cocktail's extremely long finish.
  • 1 oz. Ricard
  • 1 1/2 oz. La Grande Passion (homemade liqueur)
  • lemon twist
Combine liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake to create cloudiness and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Twist lemon zest over the drink and drop it in. 


Another French/Florida cocktail, the Apassionata is a blended drink using grapefruit juice, a nutty liqueur and the now extinct La Grande Passion. It has all the mistique of exotic fruits like passion fruit and grapefruit juice (the forbidden fruit of the new world) all in a setting where the legendary fountain of youth was rumored to be hidden--the Spanish colony of Florida.
  • 1 1/2 oz. La Grande Passion
  • 3/4 oz. amaretto
  • 4 oz. grapefruit juice
  • maraschino cherry
Combine liquid ingredients in a blender with cracked ice. Flash blend and pour into a chilled wine goblet. Garnish with cherry. 

Ricard Floridian

Alright. It's not Christmas anymore and this Florida-themed drink is neither a holiday treat, nor a tropical cocktail. It is a perfect example of a drink not knowing what it is. I do know, however, that it was surprisingly refreshing on crushed ice, and I can see what the bartender was thinking. This is an easy way to get tourists to try pastis in a refreshing and exotic mix.

Ricard is a strong anise and licorice spirit with a caramel color. When you add water to it, the herbs express out in a hazy cloud like absinthe. This pairs well with the boldly red Creme de Noyaux by Tempus Fugit. This is a peach pit and almond liqueur that adds a nutty sweetness to balance the bitter herbs and grapefruit in this drink. You can use amaretto or orgeat as a substitute, but you lose the effect of the bright color.
  • 1 1/2 oz. Ricard
  • 1 tsp. Creme de Noyaux
  • 4 oz. grapefruit juice
Combine all ingredients with cracked ice in a shaker or blender. Shake or blend briefly and pour into a chilled double Old Fashioned glass. 

La Grande Passion Cocktail

This is the signature cocktail of La Grande Passion, a passion fruit liqueur designed by Grand Marnier as a specialty item back in the 1990s. It didn't sell well and was costly to make, but La Grande Passion appeared in classic and tropical recipes in cocktail books published in the two or so years that it was on the market.

I've recreated as closely as possible the original recipe, keeping in mind that Grand Marnier's recipe is a product of distillation and not infusion. Still, a strong infusion and careful straining and sweetening can copy such a meticulously crafted distilled spirit. More on how to make this spirit later. First the cocktail recipe:
  • 1 1/2 oz. La Grande Passion
  • 1 oz. Grand Marnier
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • sugar syrup to taste (optional and proportionate to the size of the lemon)
 Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Now for the La Grande Passion recipe:
  • 10 passion fruits
  • armagnac
  • 1 oz. dark chocolate shavings
  • 1/2 cup sugar syrup

Add the seeds and pulp of 10 passion fruits to a large jar and fill the jar with a quality armagnac like Larressingle. Shave chocolate into the jar and store it in a dark and cool place for 30 days.

Strain the passion fruit and chocolate out of the infusion with cheese cloth, then strain out the smaller particles by pouring the infusion through a coffee filter.

Cook a 1:1 white sugar simple syrup and allow it to cool. Add 1/2 sugar syrup, stir and seal for 15 more days. (At this point you can transfer the infusion to a bottle for storage.)

Picon Orange

I'm always looking for ways to enjoy Amer Picon and have a good time with my homemade French spirits. This simple cocktail is similar to an Aperol Spritz or Americano, just more French.
  • 2 oz. Amer Picon
  • 2 oz. orange juice
  • club soda
Combine Amer Picon and juice in a shaker with cracked ice. Shake and pour into a chilled double Old Fashioned glass. Top with soda and stir gently. 

La Condamine

This cocktail is trying very hard to be French. It might be named after the French explorer Charles Marie de la Condamine, or any number of towns and districts bearing his name across the globe. But the flavor of the drink screams French cafe style.

Pernod is a popular absinthe substitute with lots of sugar. Why the recipe calls for a touch of aguardiente, another sweet anise spirit, is beyond me. Perhaps it is because of the theme of the drink as being worldly, as the explorer himself, and sampling spirits around the world. Perhaps because aguardiente has a dry anise seed flavor that is more like candy than absinthe. Anyway, this is a great way to enjoy a foamy long drink with fizz and get your French kicks on at the same time.
  • 2 oz. Pernod
  • 1 oz. gin (MurLarkey ImaGination used)
  • 1 tsp. Aguardiente 
  • 1 egg white
  • club soda
Combine all ingredients except soda in a shaker with ice. Shake to chill and remove ice by straining. Shake again to add foam and pour into a highball glass full of fresh ice. Top with soda, allowing room for the egg white foam to rise just above the rim of the glass.

Picon Sour

You can make a Sour out of just about any liqueur or spirit, but you can't do it with Picon unless you get it from France or make it yourself. Since I knocked off the recipe last year, I've been enjoying this classic bitter spirit in just about any way I can mix it.

Amari (or Amer in French) are very trendy right now. Anyone who is on board with the trend probably has tried making Sours with them. And they are far more interesting than whiskey. Amer Picon has a rich citrus flavor--this bottle has two dozen orange peels in it. I like using the traditional Sour glass over serving it on the rocks.
  • 1 1/2 oz. Amer Picon (homemade version used)
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. sugar syrup
  • lemon slice and maraschino cherry garnish
Combine all liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled Sour glass and garnish with fruit.