Monday, June 29, 2020

Puerto Plata

What a delicious cocktail! The Puerto Plata is a surprisingly refreshing, and an inspired recipe that takes you out of the norm of tropical drinks and transports your taste buds to the Puerto Rico's tourist district. The interplay of orgeat and banana is brilliant for a vodka drink. This iteration, however, does not feature fake flavors: only real stuff like Liber & Co. orgeat and MurLarkey banana whiskey will do.

And I'm pleased that this is one time where MurLarkey Banana whiskey can be used without modifying the recipe at all. Orgeat that is rich and nutty will sweeten the whiskey and give the banana flavor something to stick to. The vodka is there only to boost the alcohol without overwhelming with flavor.
  • 1 1/2 oz. vodka (Smirnoff #57 used)
  • 1/2 oz. banana liqueur (MurLarkey banana whiskey used)
  • 1/2 oz. orgeat (Liber & Co. used)
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled Old Fashioned glass. 

Moonshine Margarita

It's not a stretch to use moonshine in place of tequila in a cocktail. Bootleg boys of Virginia have been doing it since they've been making their own spirits in makeshift stills in the Virginia highlands. Done right, a Margarita will not suffer for having no tequila. You might even like it better, depending on the quality of the tequila you usually enjoy.

I want to point out that Climax Moonshine is a great pot still spirit made with a medley of corn, barley, and sugar. It is easy to drink chilled, but it isn't neutral like Belle Isle's moonshine. It is a white whiskey, filtered no more than twice, with character--the pinnacle of Virginia's spirit.
  • 2 oz. white whiskey or moonshine (Climax used)
  • 3/4 oz. triple sec
  • 1 tsp. sugar syrup
  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • kosher salt for rim
 Rim an Old Fashioned glass with salt by pouring the salt on a flat saucer and wetting the rim of the glass with lime juice. Dip the glass into the bed of salt. Combine liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lime slice.

Danish Manhattan

Okay! I get it. Peter Heering was a Danish liqueur producer (though now his cherry liqueur is made in Sweeden). So I understand the temptation to take a whiskey cocktail and name it a Manhattan even though there is no vermouth and no bitters. The concept is good, but it doesn't taste too much like a Manhattan after all is said and done.

Seagrams 7 Crown is so mellow and Cherry Herring is so sweet, I am unable to find that bite we usually associate with a Manhattan. In keeping with the cherry theme, there's a bit of kirsch here, which does provide a little alcoholic traction, that trenchant fruit brandy flavor that is usually associated with grapa. It's not a bad drink, but maybe a little bit unnecessary. And if I'm feeling that about the name, then maybe a new name is all the Danish Manhattan needs--and maybe some cherry bitters!
  • 1 1/2 oz. blended whiskey (Seagram's 7 Crown used)
  • 1/4 oz. kirschwasser (Kammer Kirsch used)
  • 1/4 oz. Cherry Heering
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

Windward Passage

On first look, this cocktail seems a little like a variation on the Tradewinds that includes Slivovitz. It really is its own thing, however; especially when you consider it being served up with pineapple juice, kirsch, and creme de cassis.  The Windward Passage, nevertheless, is a well balanced tropical drink that deserves more attention.

First, it's balance: there's not a lot of sugar here, and grapefruit juice takes it in a tart direction. Yet you can count on the small proportion of creme de cassis and the outsized gob of pineapple juice to soften the acidity and alcohol presence. That again is helped by the kirsch, which really makes it easier to taste the alcohol through the large juice components.

Then, there's the look--foamy pink without using an egg white or grenadine. You can get away with using that pale canned grapefruit juice here if you like and it will still look nice. (I almost always use fresh squeezed so I can garnish with a slice of grapefruit.)
  • 1 1/2 oz. light rum (Vitae platinum used)
  • 2 oz. grapefruit juice
  • 3 oz. pineapple juice
  • 1 tsp. kirsch (Kammer Kirsch used)
  • 1 tsp. creme de cassis (G.E, Massenez used)
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Tom Neuberger's Toddy

Contrary to popular belief, a Toddy is not a hot drink (that's the Hot Toddy). It is actually mixture of spirits, water, honey and lemon that is used as a curative. Tom Neuberger's Toddy is the kind of cure you need on a hot day.

My first inclination was that adding equal parts spirits and water to a recipe will create something that tastes watered down, and that does happen to an extent. But that is just what you need when looking for a refreshing rocks sipper. All spirits and ice don't go over well when you are sipping in the sun, at least not for very long.

Another thing to consider is making any cold drink with honey means you get a lump of honey that doesn't dissolve into the cocktail like it does when the water is hot. It actually takes a lot of work and creates too much variation when mixing multiple drinks. Bartenders resort to a half-honey/ half-hot water solution that further dilutes the cocktail. You can do that or you can just use MurLarkey honey whiskey.

Either option is good. I enjoyed how much honey presence MurLarkey gave the drink without adding too much sweetness. There's only a twist of lemon in the drink, so it isn't so much a question of balance as it is about having honey represented alongside cinnamon, lemon and whiskey.
  • 1 tsp. honey (or 1/2 oz. MurLarkey Honey whiskey)
  • 2 oz. water
  • 2 oz. blended whiskey (Seagram's 7 used)
  • dash maraschino liqueur
  • lemon twist
  • cinnamon stick
 If using honey, add honey and water to a chilled Old Fashioned glass and stir until the honey dissolves. (For better results try a 1:1 ratio of honey and hot water syrup plus the 2 oz. of cold water.) If you have honey whiskey skip the first step and use the honey whiskey. Add blended whiskey and maraschino liqueur to the glass and fill with several ice cubes. Stir well before twisting the lemon peel over the drink and dropping it in. Garnish with the cinnamon stick. 

Tommy Latta

Is there any chance that this cocktail was named after the Scottish-born doctor who invented the saline solution drip method for the treatment of patients? If not, it is pure coincidence that this Manhattan variation is so easy to drink, I might consider enjoying it bedside from a drip straw.

All jokes aside, I felt that the cocktail itself was a conservative approach to a Perfect Manhattan, both in the ordinary selection of ingredients and its overall size: it was rather small for a cocktail and fit neatly in a cordial glass.

After trying it, however, I recognized that there was an excellent balance of acid and sweetness. The bite of the whiskey was diminished in part because of the sugar syrup and lemon juice and also because of my choice of whiskey. I still stand by an Irish or perhaps unpeated scotch whiskey, as I think that this is an old world kind of recipe designed to make early distilled spirits more palletable for new drinkers. That would also explain the small proportions. This is a great cocktail to be swallowed in one go after a toast, a practice far more common in the British Isles even to this day.
  • 1 1/2 oz. blended whiskey (Proper Twelve Irish whiskey used)
  • 1/2 tsp. dry vermouth
  • 1/2 tsp. sweet vermouth
  • several dashes lemon juice
  • several dashes sugar syrup or to taste
 Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

Flavio's Special

As long as this drink was going to take a deep dive into orange flavors, I felt it was appropriate to complete the journey--by substituting MurLarkey's orange whiskey for the regular blended stuff. Flavio's Special already has orange liqueur and bitters, and I was correct that the taste from the whiskey, particularly the vanilla notes, could be enhanced by this local Virginia whiskey steeped in orange peels and vanilla.

Now the only question is who is Flavio? There are several restaurants and even a food critic and chef who share the same name, but I'm not sure that the title can be traced back to any one individual person or place. Names like these are lost to time, a particular bartender, guest or owner of an establishment who comes up with a Manhattan Variation that is a hit for a short while. What is more likely is that the name is intended to evoke an Italian theme that fits a restaurant, and the orange flavor is an echo of common Italian aperitifs. We may never know the full story, but we don't have to. Make this drink with orange whiskey or a mild blended whiskey and enjoy the spice and orange flavors rolling around your tongue.

One other thing of note: the recipe calls for Grand Marnier (which is French) but I made an equally acceptable substitute of Royal Combier, a competing orange cognac liqueur. With all of these substitutions, I have come a long way from the original recipe, but I think it is an improvement on a recipe that otherwise hews too closely to a standard Manhattan. 
  • 1 1/2 oz. blended whiskey (MurLarkey orange whisky used)
  • 1/2 oz. sweet vermouth (Cocchi Dopo Teatro used)
  • 1/2 oz. Grand Marnier (Royal Combier used)
  • dash orange bitters (Hella used)
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

Orly Bird

This cocktail is named after Paris' famous Orly airport or the aircraft that land there. It is also classically Franco-American in that it resembles a Manhattan with just hints of spirits representing the Paris spirit scene in the 1900s. For the traditional Manhattan drinker, I recommend it over more bitter anise flavored cocktails with the same ingredients. The Orly Bird is milder and more whiskey-forward than the Waldorf or the Hearn's Cocktail, which use a higher proportion of Pernod.

Rather than use a rich cherry brandy--or cherry flavored brandy of dubious make--I decided that this cocktail was really calling for the dry maraschino flavor of Luxardo. The results proved me correct. You will not notice the flavoring effect of a few dashes of cherry brandy or Herring like you do a similar amount of Luxardo maraschino. In doing this, I made something classic and close to the whiskey version of the Martinez.
  • 1 1/2 oz. blended whiskey (MurLarkey Heritage used)
  • 1 tbsp. sweet vermouth (Cocchi Dopo Teatro used)
  • several dashes cherry brandy (Luxardo used)
  • several dashes Pernod
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

7 Stinger

A good Stinger is a work to be treasured. I never felt that I'd come across one that I like as much as a Brandy Stinger. If you don't know, these are pretty basic cocktails that involve white peppermint schnapps and some other strong spirit to space it out. They have been done frozen and on the rocks. Stingers make good shots and awesome dive bar drinks. So it is not surprising to find America's most mixable whiskey in a Stinger recipe.
  • 1 oz. Seagram's Seven Crown whiskey
  • 1 oz. peppermint schnapps (white creme de menthe used and recommended)
Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 


This is not the German spirit that we grew up taking "dare" shots of at dive bars, but it is close. This vodka cocktail goes for sour and earthy flavors just like the famed Jagermeister, which means master of the hunt. That might lend insight into the green color scheme of this recipe.

Kummel and Jager (as it is called) are similar Germanic sweet and herbal infusions. Jagermeister has a lot more clove and licorice root and a number of ingredients that are secrets to all except a small few who work for the distillers. My addition to the cocktail recipe is intended to balance the brightness, a heavy dash of clove and spice aromatic bitters by Hella.
  • 1 1/2 oz. vodka (Smirnoff #57)
  • 1/2 oz. kummel (homemade recipe used)
  • 1/2 oz. lime juice 
  • lime twist
  • dash aromatic bitters (optional)
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Twist a lime peel over the glass and drop it in.

Tortola Gold

What a discovery! I really enjoyed the interplay of tropical flavors, enhanced by rum and spread out and fortified by vodka. This long frozen drink really fits into the category of boat drinks, blended tropical drinks that get you smashed in the sun. The funny thing is that La Grande Passion used to be considered the easy solution to getting passion fruit flavor into your boat drink, something so commonplace at one time that it was served up to tourists. Now you can hardly find it and I have to make it myself to be able to pull off this one time mass marketed cocktail!
  • 1 oz. vodka (Smirnoff #57 used)
  • 1 oz. gold rum (Vitae barrel aged rum used)
  • 1/2 oz. la Grande Passion (homemade used)
  • 2 oz. pineapple juice
  • 1/2 oz. oz. lemon juice
  • mint sprigs
Combine liquid ingredients in a blender with ice. Blend until smooth and pour into a chilled Collins glass. Garnish with mint sprigs. 

Mandingo Gringo

This drink is bananas! It is also a nod to Jamaica distilling and, in my rendition, a recipe very local to Virginia. Here the aged Vite rum and MurLarkey banana whiskey make for a tropical escape. And why not? Virginia is an old colony state that engaged in the rum trade and whiskey rebellion. You can find palm trees here and hot, tropical weather. We even put pineapples ornaments on gates and door frames as a sign of welcome.
  • 1 1/2 oz. Jamaica dark rum (Appleton would be perfect, but having none, I used Vitae barrel aged rum)
  • 1/2 oz. creme de banane (MurLarkey banana whiskey used)
  • 2 oz. pineapple juice
  • 1 oz. orange juice
  • 1/2 oz. lime juice
 Combine all ingredients in a blender with ice. Blend until smooth and pour into a chilled Collins glass. 


I didn't know that this Martini variation even existed. As far as Martini's go, it's not overly extravagant, just sweet and herbal. But I have to say that if you haven't had a black olive with kummel, you are missing out. It is the sweet honey and herbal flavors with the dark scent of black olive and vodka. Don't pass up the chance to make this especially dank and very Russian cocktail.
  • 1 1/2 oz. vodka (Smirnoff #57 used)
  • 1 oz. kummel (homemade used)
  • black olive
Combine liquid ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the black olive. 


You don't see too many Grasshopper taste-alikes made with whiskey, or with white creme de menthe for that matter. The effect is a snow-white cocktail that has the exact, if not better, mint and chocolate flavor of a classic Grasshopper with a whiskey kick. What I like, though, is that it isn't as sweet or as creamy. There's milk and a lot less of it, and the cordials are held in balance as well. You can do this drink anytime--and I mean breakfast is not off limits--and it won't fill you up.
  • 1 1/2 oz. Seagram's Seven Crown whiskey
  • 1/2 oz. white creme de cacao
  • 1/2 oz. white creme de menthe
  • 1 oz. milk
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

Martinique Cooler

I feel that if a cocktail is called a Cooler, it needs to be a long drink. That's just me. This short one is still terrific. It is pretty much a blended Margarita made with rum and Mandarine Napoleon. Because I can't get Mandarine Napoleon, a spiced cognac and mandarin spirit, I made it by a process of estimation (below). I'm still keeping my recipe a secret until I've perfected it, because there was a lot of trial and error.

Martinique is a French speaking island in the Caribbean known for its fresh pressed sugarcane rum. I don't have any of that, but the cocktail doesn't specify this. Vitae Platinum is a good substitute anyway, with a fresh taste not unlike Martinique rum.
  • 1 1/2 oz. light rum (Vitae Platinum used)
  • 1/2 oz. Mandarine Napoleon
  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. orgeat syrup
  • lime slice
Combine liquid ingredients in a blender with ice. Blend until smooth and pour into a chilled highball glass (maybe if you double the recipe. As printed, it's not enough for a highball and I used and Old Fashioned glass). Garnish with a lime slice. 

Poolabanga Sling

A tropical Sling, very much like the Singapore Sling, is a fizzy and fruity cocktail that is easy to drink on a hot day. The substitution of aged rum and falernum made me want to put it in a tiki mug--and that's a good impulse. Slings aren't especially pretty in clear glasses, the Herring and lime juice tend to make them look a little brown. The glass itself, then becomes the decoration. Just be sure to pick a large glass because a lot of tiki mugs don't have room to top with soda.
  • 1 1/2 oz. aged rum (Vitae Barrel Aged used)
  • 2 oz. orange juice
  • 1/2 oz. lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. falernum (homemade used)
  • tsp. cherry brandy (Herring used)
  • club soda
  • mint sprigs
Combine all ingredients except soda and mint in a blender with ice. Flash blend and pour into a highball or tiki mug. Top with soda and garnish with mint.


For Eastern European feudal societies the Boyar was the highest ranking aristocrat. This cocktail features some of the spirits that these guys used to put back with abandon. Vodka--a strong one, too-- is a standard for Eastern European heavy drinking. It's better if the vodka is very clean tasting, or no taste at all, so that it is almost creamy. A well-filtered Smirnoff does the trick for me.

Kummel is a celebratory flavored spirit that is savory and sweetened with honey. Often drunk at Christmas parties, Kummel's caraway, dill, and any number of random spices make it the defining characteristic of this cocktial.

I added cocktail onions in this recipe because their vinegar zing goes along with the other ingredients, and you can eat them, as they are commonly enjoyed with vodka toasts.
  • 2 oz. vodka (Smirnoff #57 used)
  • 1/2 oz. dry vermouth (Carpano dry used)
  • 1/4 oz. kummel (homemade used
  • cocktail onions (optional)
Combine liquid ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with onions of preferred. 

Pepper Tree Punch

Spicy, sweet, bitter, fruity--this drink's description covers it all. I feel that while the flavor execution is on point, the garnish game needs work. Why go through the trouble of blending a cocktail just to put it in an Old Fashioned glass. It doesn't make a lot of sense. Then again, these old recipes often don't.

One thing that Pepper Tree Punch has going for it is the blend of rums. Real tiki style recognizes that you have to have a balance between richness and fresh cane flavors. That and fresh juice, spices and Angostura bitters really set this one apart.
  • 2 oz. dark rum (Vitae Barrel Aged used)
  • 1 oz. light rum (Vitae platinum used)
  • 1 tsp. orgeat syrup
  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • several dashes Angostura bitters
  • one pinch of cinnamon
  • one pinch cayenne pepper
Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into a chilled Old Fashioned glass. 

Seven Veils

Outside of the Playing Cards series of cocktails, there are only a few other whiskey recipes that specify Segram's Seven Crown. This cocktail is very tropical with pineapple juice, creme de cacao and grenadine. It is also the kind of cocktail that you could pull together at just about any dive bar, which I have to admit that I like: unpretentious in a coup glass.
  • 1 1/2 oz. Segram's Seven Crown whiskey
  • 3/4 oz. creme de cacao 
  • 1 oz. pineapple juice
  • 1 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. grenadine
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.