Thursday, October 29, 2020

Fall Leaves Old Fashioned (Original Recipe)


There's a lot of ways to get smoke in a cocktail. You can do it directly with a smoker or use a smoked whiskey like MurLarkey's Smokehouse. This time I wanted to add a particular kind of smoke without the scent of bacon or salt. To do this, I infused bourbon with lapsang souchong black tea. This tea is smoked over pine embers. It has a tarry taste and a scent like a dying campfire. I love how it pairs with the sweetness of bourbon. Adding a teaspoon of the tea to a cup of bourbon adds complexity to a one-note blend of cheap bourbon. 

In the photo I've shown the used leaves (left) next to the unused dry leaves. To make the infusion, simply add one teaspoon of tea per cup of spirits. It only needs to infuse for 24 hours, after which the whiskey will only get darker with the richness of the leaf tea, not the smoke. Strain out the tea using a fine strainer or tea strainer before using it. \

  • 2 oz. Lapsang Souchong infused bourbon
  • 1 tsp. sugar syrup
  • dash of orange bitters
  • orange peel twist

Combine sugar, bourbon and bitters with ice in a mixing glass. Stir and strain into a chilled Old Fashioned glass full of fresh ice. Twist orange peel over the drink and drop it in. 

Smoke Out Martini (Original Recipe)


A stroke of genius or a sign of madness: this cocktail, like most Martini variations, comes down to the garnish adding that roasted and smoked saltiness that sets it apart.

I took inspiration from the Octopus Garden Martini that uses a smoked octopus arm as its garnish. I figured if you can do that, why not increase the garnish and go for smoked hams and root vegetables? What you are looking at (from left to right) is prosciutto, roasted beet, coppa, roasted radish and roasted parsnip. You can do this with just about any vegetables: zucchini, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower all come to mind. But I wanted to stick to roots and the earthiness they impart. These vegetables were roasted with olive oil, salt and black pepper only. A little olive oil makes its way into the drink and floats on the surface, which is also desirable. 

For my final trick, I used a drizzle of MurLarkey's Smokehouse whiskey on the surface of the cocktail, and that was all it took to elevate the smokey roasted scent and salted meat flavor.

  • 3 oz. vodka (Smirnoff no. 57 used)
  • 1/2 oz. dry vermouth (Dolin Extra Dry used)
  • 1 tsp. MurLarkey Smokehouse whiskey
  • assortment of roasted vegetables and cured meats

Roast vegetables coated in olive oil, salt and pepper at 400 degrees for a half hour or until their skin crisps and they are soft like a cooked potato. Allow them to cool before skewering them with meats for the garnish. 

In a shaker, combine vodka and dry vermouth with ice and shake. Strain into a chilled, wide Martini glass. Garnish with skewer of meats and vegetables and drizzle Smokehouse whiskey over the glass. (Note: this cocktail is not vegan, even if you leave off the meats. MurLarkey Smokehouse has residual bacon from the smoker.)

Dirty Strawberry Rocks Rita (Original Recipe)


There's something about enjoying an excellent Margarita done on the cheap. Strong, flavorful and packed with citrus and salt--just what the body craves. It's easy to adjust your recipe slightly and have a very different result. Here I've substituted a different flavor for the triple sec. For this recipe, I used a homemade moonshine infused with strawberries and sweetened with sugar syrup.

That's not Mother's Moonshine, whatever that is. I used the bottle to store my own strawberry moonshine for this drink. 

  • 2 oz. white tequila (Sauza 100% Blue Agave use)
  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. strawberry moonshine
  • 1 tsp. sugar syrup
  • sea salt and lime slice for garnish.

Begin buy coating the rim of an Old Fashioned glass with sea salt. Do this by rubbing a lime slice along the rim to wet it and dipping it into a saucer of coarse sea salt. Fill a shaker with the remaining ingredients and shake. Pour into the glass and garnish with the leftover slice of lime. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Smoked Manhattan


Plenty of Fall cocktails used to come smoked for the patrons who liked that scent on their drinks. Places went through a lot of trouble to buy wood chips or cedar planks to fire and trap smoke in the glass. Some went even farther: building tiny smokers behind the bar to smoke a finished cocktail in a glass chamber for all to see. It used to be a real to-do!

Not anymore. At least not anywhere around here. Of course you can smoke your own drink, but MurLarkey makes it much easier for you with their Smokehouse whiskey. It is bacon smoked and packed with oaked whiskey flavor and a corn mash finish. It's a little intense on its own and needs sweet vermouth and a traditional bourbon or rye to round it out. The smoke is still heady and delicious, while the dry cocktail has spiciness and depth.

  • 2 oz. bourbon or rye (Virginia Gentleman used)
  • 1/2 oz. (or more to taste) MurLarkey Smokehouse whiskey
  • 1/2 oz. sweet vermouth (Cocchi di Torino used)
  • dash Peychaud's bitters
  • maraschino cherry
Combine spirits in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Drop the cherry in and enjoy!

Pig Roast Old Fashioned


When I first got this Smokehouse whiskey from MurLarkey distillery, I wanted to showcase it in a cocktail designed to play up the bacon savoriness of the whiskey. The first thing that came to mind was rimming the glass with bacon shot (a mix of sea salt, bacon, black pepper and celery seeds), which would really keep things on the savory side. But I was a little unsure of what to do next. Traditional Old Fashioned cocktails have sugar and bitters, but I felt like that would mean abandoning my plan for a savory cocktail.

Then it hit me while perusing my bar. Amer Picon has bitter notes of orange, like the orange twist you squeeze into an Old Fashioned. It also has sugar, but not in the way that you would notice. Finally, I made my Amer Picon using orange peel bitters extracted with MurLarkey Justice white whiskey, so the base of the Smokehouse and Picon would be essentially the same distillate. 

What a success! The orange notes are aligned with bitter orange zest, negating the need for bitters. The sweetness of the Amer Picon is unnoticable and does not detract from the savory flavors of the Smokehouse. Then the bacon rim matches the bacon in the whiskey. It's so good that you want every sip to sample a little of the bacon shot rim!

  • 1 oz. MurLarkey Smokehouse whiskey
  • 1 oz. Amer Picon (DIY Amer Picon used)
  • bacon shot rim

To make the bacon shot, combine 1/2  tbsp. bacon bits, 1/2 tbsp. sea salt, 1 tsp. black pepper and 1/2 tsp. celery salt on a shallow dish. Wet the rim (or half the rim) of a chilled Old Fashioned glass with water or citrus juice and dip it in the dry mixture. Build the cocktail over ice in the glass and stir until it is chilled. 

Hot Passion

I'm not a fan of fruited coffee cocktails. Sure, a spiced coffee with brandy or tequila is very nice if done right. I even like Grand Marnier in a coffee if it has whipped cream. Its just that adding passion fruit in the form of La Grande Passion to coffee only makes it slightly more bitter. And the recipe doesn't call for whipped cream, which would have made this so much better and I would have used it if I had it. Imagine, chocolate sprinkles and all! What a nice drink. Instead, I got a hot mess not a Hot Passion.

Part of my problem is that I don't have real La Grande Passion. Nobody does since it went out of production almost 30 years ago! My homemade version is a very filtered infusion, but that still doesn't prevent it from separating when added to hot coffee. You see passion fruit floaters in the cup. Creme de Grand Marnier would cover it up, but that also wasn't an option because it is now unavailable. If I ever do this one again, and I won't, I'll use whipped cream or shave chocolate on top (or both) to cover up the separation.

Another problem is floating the Creme de Grand Marnier. I'm sure the original product would have floated nicely, but I'll have to play around with the proportions and use heavy cream to get it light enough. You can make it by adding 1:2 proportion of Grand Marnier to heavy whipping cream and sweetening it with confectioner's sugar. Whip it rapidly until the sugar is dissolved and the liquid starts to foam. Again, separation is the enemy of this drink, and I feel like we are observing a dinosaur of the 1990s, extinct and as yet impossible to resurrect.

  • 1 1/2 oz. La Grande Passion (homemade used)
  • 1/2 oz. Grand Marnier (Royal Combier used)
  • 1/2 oz. Creme de Grand Marnier (homemade recipe attempted)
  • 6 oz. hot black coffee

Build drink in a warm coffee mug with passionfruit and Grand Marnier in first. Fill with hot coffee and float Creme de Grand Marnier on top. 


Smokehouse Sour


Honey barbecue is the inspiration for this cocktail. It relies on two MurLarkey whiskies to lend it the signature barbecue flavors, but still requires a principal dose of bourbon to keep things from getting too intense. That's because the bacon smoked Smokhouse whiskey is very savory, but I still wanted vanilla and brown sugar flavors to permeate the smoke.

Otherwise, this is a very straightforward Sour, on the rocks as any barbecue fan would like his drinks so they don't spill on the picnic table's uneven planks. 

  • 1 oz. bourbon (Virginia Gentleman used)
  • 1/2 oz. MurLarkey honey whiskey 
  • 1/2 oz. MurLarkey Smokehouse whiskey
  • 1 oz. lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. brown sugar
  • lemon wheel and maraschino cherry for garnish

Combine sugar, juice and spirits in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled Old Fashioned glass full of fresh ice. Garnish with the cherry and lemon slice. 

Swizzles (Jumbly Jolt/ Skye Swizzel)

I've seen this recipe before. A combination of rum, scotch and gin as a swizzle with lime juice? That's a Skye Swizzle. The proportions are a little different, and not to this example's betterment. I ended up with a little too much ice and not enough liquid to spread around. That is perfectly fine, but I'd like the recipe to reflect that an indicate an Old Fashioned glass as the proper container. 

Like all swizzles, you need plenty of crushed ice on hand before you start mixing. I found that freezing the glass first and choosing a glass with thin walls to be very helpful. I tied on the napkin wrap (like my chicken?) first before freezing the glass so that I could take the glass out and start building the cocktail in it. Otherwise, it might be smart to chill the liquids in a shaker. But either way, put the wrap on before you start building the drink.

One final note: I chose my Dutch courage gin for the gin in this cocktail and greatly improved it over past examples that used dry gins. Look for an Old Tom style or Dutch genever like Bols to get the desired effect. My hope was that if all the spirits shared a barreling process, the flavors would come together better. I wasn't wrong!

  • 1/2 oz. scotch (Teacher's used)
  • 1/2 oz. Jamaican rum (Barbancourt Haitian used)
  • 1/2 oz. gin (homemade Dutch courage gin used)
  • 1/2 oz. lime juice
  • 1 tsp. sweet vermouth
  • 1 tsp. cherry brandy (Cherry Herring used)
  • maraschino cherry garnish

Build the drink in a frozen Collins glass (Old Fashioned with thin walls is preferable if you have one). Add all ingredients except for the cherry garnish and top with crushed ice. Using a swizzle stick, stir to chill the ingredients while melting the ice. As the liquor dilutes and the liquid level rises, add more ice and continue stirring until the glass is frosty and the cocktail is cooled. Add a straw and garnish with a cherry. 

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Autumn White Whiskey Margarita (MurLarkey Justice Variation)


Most tequila drinkers swear by the tequila Margarita, and that makes sense. There's a risk involved in swapping out the principal ingredient in any recipe, that being that the name of the recipe itself becomes meaningless. In the case of white whiskey, however, certain white whiskies have the qualities of tequila: a clean spirit flavor that blends well with citrus and herbal notes that are close to tequila. 

I've done plain white whiskey Margaritas before and they are excellent chameleon cocktails. You really feel like you are south of the border, when the spirit comes from your local distillery. So I felt that a white whiskey Margarita gives me permission to use flavored whiskies to create a flavored Margarita variation. 

MurLarkey's cinnamon whiskey gives any cocktail that essence of Fall weather and the spice we crave to warm us up. Peach is usually associated with summer, but swapping out the traditional orange flavored triple sec also changes the profile. To be honest, if I had pear or apple whiskey, I'd be using that and I encourage you to experiment as well. The whole purpose of this post is to further the spirit of innovation.

  • 1 1/2 oz. white whiskey (MurLarkey Justice used)
  • 1/2 oz. cinnamon whiskey (MurLarkey cinnamon whiskey used)
  • 1/2 oz. peach or other fruit whiskey (Bird Dog peach whiskey used)
  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. sugar syrup 
  • lime slice
  • coarse salt for rim

Rim an Old Fashioned glass with salt by wetting it with a slice of lime and dipping it into coarse salt. Fill the glass with fresh ice. Combine all liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into the glass and garnish with the lime slice.

Bourbon Daisy

I've done the Bourbon Daisy before, but with Southern Comfort, not peach whiskey. I felt that moving away from Southern Comfort was reason enough to explore this cocktail some more. That, and a Bourbon Daisy is a great way to make your summer style Daisy cocktail more suited to Autumnal drinking. 

I used Evan William's bottled in bond bourbon, which has pleasing hazlenut notes on the nose and at first sip. The last of my Bird Dog peach whiskey kept the whiskey-forward style of this cocktail. Southern Comfort is a brandy spirit with peach flavors. It is very rich, whereas Bird Dog's peach whiskey is heavier only on the peach flavor without the sugary cooked spirit notes of Southern Comfort. I know that inexpensive flavored whiskies are not prized, but I have to say that Bird Dog has been one of the most useful liquors on my bar. 
  • 1 1/2 oz. bourbon (Evan Williams bottled in bond used)
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. grenadine
  • club soda
  • 1 tsp. Southern Comfort
  • orange slice
  • pineapple stick (optional)

Combine bourbon lemon juice and grenadine in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled Collins glass full of fresh ice. Top with club soda and stir gently. Float peach liquor on top and garnish with fruit.

Bourbon Rose #2


Rose cocktails are numerous. I'm a little surprised that this is my first Bourbon Rose variation. The majority of Rose cocktails are a combination of a spirit, grenadine and lime juice. They have a brilliant red color that is cloudy from juice and the color of whatever spirit you chose. The Bourbon Rose #1 is one such drink. This is a deeper rouge colored Rose owing to the creme de cassis and there is (quite contradictory to typical Rose recipes) dry vermouth. 

Another unusual thing about this cocktail, and it is fitting that it is a bourbon drink, is that it is served on the rocks. Bourbon drinks are often re-worked recipes designed to appeal to southern drinkers. It's unlikely that southern men, for instance, would find a long-stemmed glass an appealing way to consume their favorite spirit. 

  • 1 1/2 oz. bourbon (Evan William's bonded used)
  • 1/2 oz. creme de cassis (G.E. Massenez used)
  • 1/2 oz. dry vermouth (Dolin extra dry used)
  • 1/4 oz. lemon juice

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and pour into an Old Fashioned glass. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Pumpkin Spice Irish Coffee (Original Recipe)


Pumpkin spice is really a kitchen sink approach to spicing deserts: it includes ginger, cloves, cardamon, allspice, nutmeg and cinnamon. You can buy this mix of spices or you can assemble them from your spice rack if you have one that is well stocked. The other way you can get spice in your coffee cocktail is to use flavored liqueurs. 

Cinnamon whiskey, while it is not a new item anymore, is a relatively recent way to add spice with your booze. It's not just for shots, that is. By comparison, allspice dram is an old way of preserving tropical spice in liquid form; it is basically rum cooked with sugar and allspice. Together these two liquors make up most of the flavors found in pumpkin spice. 

The rest you can sprinkle on top or work into whipped cream. This is a quick and dirty pumpkin spice recipe. Get creative, get inspired, get... Well, with whiskey in your coffee, quick and dirty is just an easy way of deciding Friday morning is part of the weekend. 

  • 1 oz. cinnamon whiskey (MurLarkey cinnamon used)
  • 1 oz. allspice dram
  • 5 oz. of hot black coffee
  • cream and sugar to taste
  • pinch of ground and dried ginger
  • pinch of ground nutmeg

Build the drink with liquors in a coffee mug. Fill with black coffee, add cream and sugar to taste and stir. Sprinkle additional spices on top.

Paducah Palookah

Paducha is the county seat of McCracken County, Kentuckey. That's a fitting site to situate this fun and and tasty cocktail. It has a very southern way of not taking itself seriously: it's a bourbon cocktail with grenadine and lime juice and it's strained but served in an Old Fashioned glass. It's like, having your pretty pink cocktail in a masculine looking glass to compensate for some misguided gender stereotypes. But for all that, it has broad appeal. A drinker who disdains whiskey will be at home in Paducah, and a bourbon drinker will be surprised at how easy this one goes down the hatch. At least you can hold your drink in a party without spilling it, which is always a plus!

  • 1 1/2 oz. bourbon (Evan Williams bottled in bond used)
  • 1/2 oz. apricot flavored brandy
  • juice of 1/2 of a lime
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar syrup or to taste
  • several dashes of grenadine
  • lime slice and maraschino cherry as garnishes

Combine liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled Old Fashioned glass. Garnish with fruit pieces.




Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Shiedam Manhattan (Original Recipe)

 If you get Schiedam gin from the Netherlands or if you can make it yourself, you will enjoy this Manhattan recipe with soft malt and juniper notes for the cooler months. It is nearly the same as any Manhattan recipe out there that uses sweet vermouth, but it substitutes Schiedam gin (A.K.A. my homemade bathtub gin) for whiskey. 

I rather like the spiciness of this cocktail: it has something for both the whiskey drinker and the classic Prohibition-style gin drinker. It's fun and makes your usual Manhattan interesting.

  • 2-3 oz. Schiedam gin or low-juniper bathtub gin
  • 1/2 oz. sweet vermouth (Cocchi di Torino used)
  • several dashes orange bitters (Hella used)
  • maraschino cherry garnish

Combine liquid ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with cherry. 

Brittany (Homemade Shiedam Gin Version)


The Brittany celebrates the crossing of French aperitif Amer Picon with England's version of gin that is dry and heavily junipered.  Geographically, Brittany is on the north west coast of France, across from Britain on the English channel to its north. This cocktail swings the direction of the geography westward toward the Netherlands. 

The style of Shiedam gin is richer and less junipery than the English. The Dutch don't mind a little barrel aging and malt character getting into their gin. This is my third and most successful batch of Shiedam gin, and probably the most authentic. In each batch, I've lowered the juniper level a little bit and reduced the infusion time. Now I only do it for three days, after which I add about an oz. of Copper Fox single malt whiskey to add a touch of smoke and malt.

Here's the recipe to this delicious drink!

  • 1 1/2 oz. Shiedam gin
  • 1/2 oz. Amer Picon
  • 1/2 oz. orange juice
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. sugar syrup
  • orange peel garnish

Combine liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Twist orange peel over the glass and drop it in. 


Dutch Harvest Sour (Original Recipe)


There's no pumpkin in this cocktail--the harvest notes are suggested by a sprinkle of pumpkin spice on top of the Sour and the painting that I was working on in the background. 

But the fun thing about this cocktail is that it is a Genever Sour. It's hard to say what this drink is like because Jenever isn't whiskey and it isn't gin. It is a malty spirit that is aged in oak and flavored with juniper. That makes genever something between the two: perfect for making into a Sour, but rich enough that you can play around with fall flavors. 

I'm tempted to try it again on the rocks or up, but for now this is a traditional Sour glass. Stay tuned for cider versions and other fun creations using Genever for the fall season. 

  • 1 1/2 oz. Bols barrel aged genever 
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. brown sugar syrup or to taste
  • cherry and orange slice for garnish
  • pinch of pumpkin spice
Combine genever, juice and sugar in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled sour glass and garnish with fruit.  Sprinkle pumpkin spice over the glass.