Sunday, November 28, 2021

Peppermint Bark (Original Recipe)


This cocktail took several tries to get right. The first mistake I made was using any citrus juice. It was unnecessary--it made a good drink but not the drink I was going for. 

I guess I should explain that this original cocktail was an attempt at making peppermint bark in liquid form that can get you drunk. I imagined not only a dry-tasting, spirits-forward cocktail, but one that had the flavor of milk chocolate, mint and holiday sweets without using cream like so many dessert drinks tend to do. I wanted this drink to be an anytime of the day sipper, but especially on holidays. 

I came up with the solution of adding just a tsp. of simple syrup and several drops of Fernet Branca for a sweet and bitter balance that made this peppermint bark cocktail taste more adult than other candy-like versions. 

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled coupe.

Saz Who? (Death & Co. Recipe)


Is it a Sazerac when it is made with rum and pear brandy? If you also use Peychaud's bitters and serve it with a hint of absinthe. 

The overall effect of adding pear brandy instead of the usual rye or cognac is the benefit of fruity softness. Catoctin Creek pear brandy is pretty strong stuff, but it has a soft nose and pear flavors that come from distilling fruit juice. That goes great with a soft Guyana rum like Hamilton 86. The rest of the recipe should look familiar to Sazerac fans. The one difference is that the glass is not rinsed with absinthe, but the liquor has several dashes of absinthe in it.

  • 1 1/ 2oz. aged rum (Hamilton 86 Demerara River used)
  • 1/2 oz. pear brandy (Catoctin Creek used)
  • 2 dashes absinthe
  • 1 tsp. demerara syrup
  • 4 dashes Peuchaud's bitters
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters
  • lemon twist

Stir all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Strain into an Old Fashioned glass. Twist a lemon zest over the glass and discard. 

Grape Spirit Cold Toddy (Original Recipe)

The idea behind this drink was to make the classic holiday hot cocktail with all of its fruity and spicy flavors in a cold form so it is easier to drink quickly. Unusually, I stuck with mostly grape spirits for the base and additional flavors, the one exception being MurLarkey orange whiskey, which comes across like a fruity orange peel and vanilla spice spirit.

But a neutral pisco, ginger brandy and Porto Morgado made this holiday cocktail as much about the juice of the grape as it was about apples and citrus. The spice combination on top was very important, including grated cinnamon, nutmeg, clove and anise.

  • 1 oz. MurLarkey orange whiskey
  • 1 oz. Capel pisco
  • 1 oz. apple cider
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. ginger brandy
  • 1/2 oz. honey syrup
  • 1/4 oz. Porto Morgado
  • cinnamon stick
  • anise pod
  • lemon twist
  • grated nutmeg, clove and cinnamon

Combine liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into an Old Fashioned glass full of crushed ice. twist lemon zest over the glass and drop it in. Grate spices and garnish with the cinnamon stic and the anise pod.


Creole Saz (Death & Co. Recipe)


I described this cocktail as a "dank rum Sazerac." This caused some confusion about whether I was describing the rum or the Sazerac as "dank." To clarify, both dank and rum modified Sazerac. Hamilton Demerara River rum is not overly rich for a dark rum. Unlike the banana peel and funk of Jamaican rums, this one really only hits lightly on brown sugar and woody notes. 

The rest of this cocktail is perfectly Creole, and right in line with something you would find in a New Orleans bar. 

  • absinthe (Absente used)
  • 1 1/2 oz. Haitian rum (Hamilton Demerara River used)
  • 1/2 oz. cognac (Meukow used)
  • 1 tsp cane sugar syrup
  • 3 dashes Peychauds bitters
  • 1 lemon twist

Rinse a rocks glass with absinthe and dump. Stir the remaining ingredients (except lemon peel) in a mixing glass with ice, then strain into the glass. Squeeze lemon twist over the drink and discard. 

Solera Sidecar (Death & Co. Recipe)


I have been waiting to do this cocktail for a while, hoping to source the exact ingredients for the recipe. Unfortunately, I used up the last of my East India Solera sherry during Halloween and I haven't seen it in stores since then. But I figured I could make this recipe with cream sherry, and it definitely works. 

The idea behind this craft Sidecar is to substitute excellent ingredients (and sherry) into a well-known cocktail recipe that is essentially a cognac sour with orange liqueur. Sweet sherry adds richness, as does ameretto and cognac-based orange liqueur like Grand Marnier. The problem remained that I had neither of the latter ingredients as well. Then it occurred to me that I do have a cognac-based orange liqueur and an almond liqueur, they just weren't the brand names the recipe called for.

So I substituted homemade Mandarine Napoleon for Grand Marnier--which is an easy solution. I also used Tempus Fugit creme de Noyaux, a French, rather than Italian, almond liqueur. It worked out well, and the effect of the craft Sidecar was pulled off. In addition I got to use my homemade orange liqueur.

  • 1 1/2 oz. cognac (Meukow used)
  • 1/2 oz. East India Solera Sherry (Dona Luisa cream sherry used)
  • 1/4 oz. Grand Marnier (homemade Mandarine Napoleon used)
  • 1/4 oz. Lazxaroni ameretto (Tempus Fugit creme de noyaux used)
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/4 oz. simple syrup

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and double strain into a coupe glass. 

Alembic (Death & Co. Recipe)


Alcohol my first have been made by Arabic alchemists in the middle ages, but it was the Dutch who invented Genever, the predecessor of gin. This spirit used juniper berries in the malted barley mash as well as juniper and other botanicals in the distillation to create a gin-like spirit with a rich nutty body and pale color. It is so much like whiskey, that you can use it in a Sazerac variation and it comes across as very much like the New Orlean's original. 

  • absinthe
  • 2 oz. Anchor Genevieve gin (Bols Barrel-Aged Genever used)
  • 1/4 oz. demerara syrup
  • 3 dashes Peychaud/s bitters
  • 1 lemon twist garnish

Coat a double Old Fashioned glass with absinthe (Absente used) and add one large ice cube. In a mixing glass, stir the remaining ingredients with ice and strain into a absinthe-coated glass. Garnish with the lemon twist.

Snake Hips Swizzle (Death & Co. Recipe)


You don't see many Swizzles with cognac, sherry, and maple syrup. I have to say, though, that this cocktail was fun to make because, as with all Swizzles, I used my bois lele, the Caribbean island Swizzle stick. And yes, a Swizzle when made properly is still a Swizzle, even if it has cognac, sherry and maple syrup. It still tasted tropical and it still had that frozen glass effect of a well-prepared cocktail.

  • 1 1/2 oz. cognac (Meucow used)
  • 1/4 oz. Grand Marnier (homemade Mandarine Napoleon used)
  • 1/2 oz. cream sherry (Dona Luisa used)
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon bark syrup (simple syrup with MurLarkey cinnamon whiskey used)
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters

Combine all ingredients except bitters in a shaker and dry shake. Pour into a pilsner glass filled with crushed ice. Swizzle with the bois lele until the glass freezes on the outside. Then dash bitters over the top and serve with a straw.

Swedish Solution (Original Recipe)


There are a lot of vodka or gin cocktails with lemon juice and creme de cacao. The Kretchma comes to mind here. But there are many more that usually have some kind of a Russian theme. The thing is, creme de cacao and lemon juice have a mysterious flavor that comes across as tropical. It isn't especially Russian and most people can't identify that it is chocolate that supplies the sweetness to balance the sourness of the drink.

I submit now that this flavor is only enhanced by the addition of Swedish Punsch--and today I'm using Kronan, a real product from Sweden, not my homemade knock off. Swedish Punsch, with its cardamon and clove and hint of lemon, is a perfect way to lift this ordinary sour cocktail to a special crafty bar menu level. The spices make this the solution for your holiday cocktail needs. 

  • 1 1/2 oz. dry gin (Bloom used)
  • 1 oz. Swedish Punsch (Kronan used)
  • 1/2 oz. creme de cacao
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. brown sugar syrup

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled coupe. 

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Fall Apple Sour (Original Recipe)

I know I'm doing a lot of drinks from the Death & Co. recipe book, and pretty soon I'll have completed my third recipe book in my odyssey of cocktails. But I do find time to innovate. Usually this happens when I am inspired by something I make or buy for a Death & Co. recipe. Who says leftovers are not as good as the first time around?

In this case, it was the Braeburn apple syrup I had left over. I used it to make a whiskey sour (no egg white) with a pronounced apple flavor. I used MurLarkey Heritage whiskey for it's intense country whiskey notes. 

  • 2 oz. MurLarkey Heritage whiskey
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. apple cider
  • 1 oz. Braeburn apple syrup
  • apple fan garnish
Combine all ingredients except for garnish in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a rocks glass full of fresh ice. Garnish with apple slices in the shape of a fan.

Cooper Union (Death & Co. Recipe)


Leave it to Death & Co. to name a cocktail after a New York art university. I guess that the inference one can take is that artists like their booze. 

This is yet another Sazerac variation that does not include absinthe but uses Laphroaig as the primary scent on the glass. The smoke and peat really hit you when you get your nose close to the glass, but it is cut by the lemon oils from the twist. Once you delve beneath the surface, you'll find that the liquor beneath is extremely soft: Irish whiskey and St. Germain. The effect is a cocktail like the Sazerac (but with no added sugar syrup) that is far less bitter but just as aromatic. It is at once earthy and floral and goes down all too quickly.

  • Laphroaig scotch
  • 2 oz. Readbrest 12-year Irish whiskey (Slane Irish whiskey used)
  • 1/2 oz. St. Germain
  • 1 dash orange bitters (Hella used)
  • 1 lemon twist

Rinse a double rocks glass in Laphroaig and discard. Stir the remaining ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and strain into the coated glass. Squeeze the twist over the glass and discard.

Bay City Roller (Death & Co. Recipe)


I apologize for this closeup picture. My plan was to show my own label of Amer Picon, which I used in place of Amaro Averna in this cocktail. 

This simple drink is based on the Sazerac, but has no absinthe, so it should be palatable.  to most whisky drinkers. I've notice few whiskey fans who really like absinthe, and some absinthe fans admit that they would happily do without the whiskey. I would say that this cocktail will please just about anyone with refined taste, however. 

A note on the scotch selection: Compass Box Asyla is a blended whisky that is very delicate and smooth. It shouldn't slap you down with peat and smoke, though those things are present. I chose a mild scotch by Bowmore distillery as a fair stand-in.

  • 2 oz. Compass Box Asyla scotch (McClelland's Islay used)
  • 1/4 oz. Amaro Averna
  • 1 tsp. simple syrup
  • 1 orange twist

Stir all ingredients except twist with ice and strain into a double rocks glass. Garnish with the orange twist.

Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree (Death & Co. Recipe)


I had a lot of fun preparing this cocktail. It requires its own special syrup made from cooked apples, which was delicious in itself and made my kitchen smell wonderful. 

What is not to like about this drink (except, perhaps, its painstaking recipe). There's fresh apple garnish, apple syrup and apple brandy--so many fall flavors wrapped into one recipe. Not everyone goes for egg white cocktails, but this is the first I've tried that showcases a spirit other than gin or whiskey, and I have to say it is really worth checking out. 

  • 2 oz. Laird's Applejack 86
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 oz. Braeburn apple syrup
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 dash aromatic bitters (Hella used)
  • 1 Braeburn apple slice garnish

Dry shake all ingredients except for the garnish, then shake again with ice. Double strain into a coupe. Garnish with the apple slice.  

To make the syrup, simply cook one diced Braeburn apple in a cup of water. (Note: keep the core and skin and stem for their potent flavors.) Bring it to boil and stir in a cup of sugar. Continue stirring on low heat until the sugar is completely dissolved and the apple pieces are soft and tender. Strain out the apple chunks and refrigerate syrup once it has had time to cool. (Save the apple pieces for dessert toppings--they're delicious.

Devil Inside (Death & Co. Recipe)

I love the song "Devil Inside" by INXS. But humming along while drinking this scotch and rye cocktail makes me wonder which ingredient is the Devil. It must be the Rittenhouse rye. It is 100-proof after all, and it is nothing at all like the smokey scotches (of which there are two) in this recipe. 

Devil Inside is a take on a Sazerac that coats the glass in Laphroaig rather than absinthe like the recipe for Sazerac usually calls for. That's ok, because absinthe fans will still enjoy their favorite herbal spirit stirred into the glass. And maybe that's the Devil Inside after all.

  • Laphroaig scotch
  • 1 1/2 oz. Rittenhouse rye
  • 1/2 oz. Bruichladdich scotch (or some milder Islay whisky)
  • 2 dashes absinthe
  • 1 tsp demerara syrup
  • 2 dashes Peychaud's bitters
  • lemon twist

Rinse a rocks glass with Laphroaig and dump. Stir the remaining ingredients (except lemon twist) with ice. Strain into a rocks glass. Squeeze the lemon twist over the drink and discard it. 


Grand Street (Death & Co. Recipe)


This cocktail is the perfect mash up between a Martinez and a Negroni. If it sounds like that would be a mouthful of bitterness, it is. But I would say that it is the most pleasing thing made with gin an amari that I've had lately, and that includes a few Negroni variations. Part of it is the intensity and part of it is the way the grapefruit twist leaves a lovely scent on the surface that leaves you ill prepared for what lies beneath.

Punt E Mes is a wine-based apartivo that is like the most bitter form of vermouth you can get. It is super rich. Cynar 70 is the more intense version of the bitter artichoke liqueur, and Luxardo, while lifting in its almond-like maraschino notes, is pretty bitter despite its sugar content. Blend these three things in a rich Martini and you have the Grand Street--an homage to the pretty New York street.

  • 1 grapefruit twist
  • 2 oz. dry gin (MurLarkey ImaGination used)
  • 3/4 oz. Punt E Mes
  • 1/4 oz. Cynar
  • 1 tsp. Luxardo maraschino

Muddle the grapefruit twist in a mixing glass before adding liquid ingredients. Stir with ice and strain into a chilled coupe.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Vampire Blues (Death & Co. Recipe)

This is it! This is just about as Halloween as a cocktail can get, at least at Death & Co., and about as sweet and fall spiced as I want to go. This is thanks to the addition of pumpkin butter and East India Solera Sherry--two very rich and yummy ingredients that make this drink taste like pumpkin pie. I love how bourbon adds the vanilla notes and cinnamon grated on top has that fresh spice scent you expect at this time of year. Everything about this drink, including its color, is perfect for fall.

  • 1 1/2 oz. bourbon 
  • 1/2 oz. East India Solera Sherry
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. simple syrup
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin butter
  • 2 dashes Angostura
  • 1 cinnamon stick garnish

Combine liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a double Old Fashioned glass full of ice cubes. Grate cinnamon stick over the glass and garnish the drink with the cinnamon stick. 


Blue Run Sling (Death & Co. Recipe)

This bittersweet Sling is a little less exotic than the Singapore Sling, keeping its ingredients more or less grounded in apple pie notes rather than citrus. And you don't see bourbon Slings everyday. I think of this as a fall cocktail for those who need to keep things on the light and refreshing side. And it's great: you don't feel bogged down with sweetness or pumpkin spice. 

I don't have Amaro Averna, but I know that it has a bitter orange peel flavor that I tried to replicate with a mix of Don Ciccio & Figili Ambrosia and my homemade Amer Picon (which has Ramazzotti with its orange flavors in it as well). The rest was made simply by combining ingredients and preparing the orange flag with the cherry target center. 

  • 2 oz. bourbon
  • 1/4 oz. Amaro Averna (Ambrosia and Amer Picon used)
  • 3/4 oz. fuji apple juice
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 3/4 oz. vanilla syrup
  • 1 dash orange bitters (Hella used)
  • 1 orange flag with cherry  and barrel-aged bitters dashed on it as garnish

Combine all liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a highball glass full of ice cubes. Garnish with the orange flag and dash bitters on it.


Fix Me Up (Death & Co. Recipe)

I remember when trying this rich and beautiful drink that a Fix is any way to take a spirit into a more comfortable zone with sugar and juice. This was a departure from most Fixes that are sort of crushed ice and pineapple variations on a Sour. In fact, I feel like the overarching flavor is nuttiness from almond orgeat and amontillado sherry. 

Catoctin Creek Roundstone rye is pretty nutty and dry itself. I'd make a Fix with it anytime. This was an excellent use of a high-proof rye as I've ever seen. The presentation is very simple but elegant, and that is why Death & Co. is regarded as a pioneer in reviving the classic cocktail-serving speakeasy.

  • 1 oz. rye (Catoctin Creek Roundstone used)
  • 1 1/2 oz. amontillado (Alexandro sherry used)
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. orange juice
  • 3/4 oz. orgeat (Fee Brothers used)
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 3/4 oz. club soda

Combine all ingredients except club soda in a shaker with three ice cubes. Shake and strain into a snifter with one large ice cube. Pour the soda in on top. 


Crane Kick (Death & Co. Recipe)


Another Karate Kid cocktail because of the presence of Japanese whiskey. Not very original, but this combination of flavors is--and that is all we really ask for from Death & Co. 

This is an intense Tiki recipe that mashes up smoky scotch, malty whiskey, orange and orgeat and coconut notes in an adventure that nearly tells you a story with flavors. I imagine that the story goes something like this:

You are climbing a volcanic mountain in Hawaii and can smell the burning ash in the air from a recent eruption. On the way up you pick an orange and a coconut to enjoy at the top, but on the way you skin your knee and use a Band-Aid to mend the wound. 

In short, that is what this drink experience is like. I recommend everyone try it. It's not super approachable--I think of it as a stretch drink (smoky scotch doesn't appear often in tikis and the medicinal flavor is off-putting to some, but worth the try in this case.) Some drinkers just aren't as adventurous, but I encourage this kind of thrill seeking in cocktail recipes. 

  • 2 oz. Yamazaki 12-year whiskey (Catoctin Creek Colossal X used)
  • 1 tsp. Laphroaig 10-year scotch
  • 2 tsp. coconut liqueur (Malibu used)
  • 1 oz. orange juice
  • 1 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. orgeat (Fee Brothers used)
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with three ice cubes. Shake and strain into a pilsner glass filled with crushed ice. 

Wicked Kiss (Death & Co. Recipe)

Not all fall drinks have cinnamon and apple juice. This one is a wicked kiss because of 100-proof Rittenhouse rye and Laird's applejack 86-proof apple brandy. Angostura ties these flavors together with Dolin Genepy (my stand-in for Yellow Chartreuse) and Benedictine, which are very herbaceous and spicy without the cinnamon. This is a simple stirred drink that hits you quickly, so you don't have to overdo the cider drinks that proliferate at this time of year.

  • 1 oz. Rittenhouse rye
  • 1 oz. Laird's applejack 86
  • 1/4 oz. Yellow Chartreuse (Dolin Genepy used)
  • 1/4 oz. Benedictine
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled coupe. 


Doc's Dram (Death & Co.)

I get it. "An apple a day keeps the doctor away," as the saying goes. Well, this is a prescription for happiness. Another cocktail making use of apple butter (I am using a local grower names Shawnee for my butters and jams.) This is a fall drink to end them all, I think. Solera sherry, rye, maple syrup and apples? What could be better?

But before you start to think this drink is all sweetness with no depth, I'll point out that Ransom Old Tom gin (my homemade Schiedam gin used) is some funky stuff. That and Angostura make this an exceedingly rich and interesting cocktail. Not a one-note fall sipper.

  • 1 1/2 oz. rye (Catoctin Creek used)
  • 1/2 oz. Ransom Old Tom gin (homemade Schiedam used)
  • 1/2 oz. Lustau East India Solera sherry
  • 3/4 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. apple butter
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters
  • 1 apple fan garnish

Combine liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled double rocks glass with a single cube. Garnish with the apple fan. 


Little Engine (Death & Co. Recipe)


Some fun ingredients in this cocktail make it a sweet dessert drink, or something to enjoy on a fall day. Apple butter makes great spiced and sweetened cocktails and lends a little richness of color and flavor. Maple syrup, though, is almost necessary to balance the acids in this cocktail. 

I love how a mild scotch and port come together to make for a fruity spirit drink that almost feels like a sweet Sling. 

  • 2 oz. Famous Grouse scotch
  • 1/2 oz. 10-year tawny port
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. apple butter
  • 1 apple fan garnish
Combine liquid ingredients in a shaker with three ice cubes. Short shake and strain into a double rocks glass full of crushed ice. Garnish with the apple fan. 

Enchanted Orchard (Death & Co. Recipe)


Now we are getting into those thoroughly fall-style cocktails with apple cinnamon flavors. I'm going to be going in this direction for several weeks, each post being progressively more autumnal. 

This cocktail is unusual among its brethren in having pisco be the main ingredients. Yes there is apple cinnamon and spice, but the pisco is very neutral and yet still a fruit brandy spirit. I like the addition of pineapple juice and applejack to produce an exotic apple taste without there being any fresh apple juice present. All in all, this is a chameleon of a cocktail. As soon as you think you have it figured out, the Benedictine  or the pineapple juice or honey snap your taste buds in a different direction. 

  • 1 1/2 oz. pisco (Capel used)
  • 1/2 oz. calvados (Laird's applejack 86 used)
  • 1/2 oz. Benedictine
  • 1/2 oz. pineapple juice
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. acacia honey syrup
  • 1 cinnamon stick garnish
Combine all liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a double rocks glass with one large ice cube. Garnish with the cinnamon stick.

Sweep the Leg (Death & Co. Recipe)

There's some Karate Kid fans working at Death & Co. for sure. This cocktail uses Japanese whiskey, to tie into the name. But I can't afford the stuff and really I get a kick out of using malted whiskey (and beer whiskey, which is malted) to approximate Japanese whiskey. That malted whiskey is Catoctin Creek Colossal X!

I also loved that this drink includes sherry, orgeat and chocolate bitters. These flavors all come across as deep and tropical, so it is no surprise they end up in this Japanese themed cocktail. 

  • 2 oz. Suntory Hakashu 12-year whiskey (Catoctin Creek Colossal X used)
  • 3/4 oz. orgeat (Fee Brothers used)
  • 1/2 oz. Amontillado sherry
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. orange juice
  • 1/4 oz. acacia honey surp
  • 1 tsp. Luxardo Amaro Abano (a combination of homemade Amer Picon and Don Ciccio and Figli Ambrosia used)
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters
  • 1 dash of Aztec bitters
  • Garnish: lime wheel, orange crecent, brandied cherry, mint sprig (not pictured)
Combine all liquid ingredients in a shaker with three ice cubes. Short shake and strain into a pilsner glass full of crushed ice. Skewer garnishes on a pick and place on the top of the glass.


Widow's Laurel (Death & Co. Recipe)


There's an old calvados recipe called the Widow's Kiss that I'm sure I've made in all my years of blogging. Can't find it right now, but I'm sure it will turn up. This variation is supposedly less boozy, but you can't really tell. It is intensely bitter and spicy with sweet vermouth, allspice dram and Drambuie together in one cocktail. 

Almost like an apple brandy Manhattan, this is a long and deep drink that will take you a while. It is perfect for a cold evening after dinner...or before.

  • 2 oz. calvados (Laird's applejack 86 used)
  • 1/2 oz. Drambuie
  • 1/2 oz. Antica formula vermouth (Cocchi dopo teatro used)
  • 1 tsp. allspice dram (homemade used)
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters
  • 3 brandied cherries on a pick

Combine liquid ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled coupe glass and garnish with the cherries. 

Whirling Tiger (Death & Co. Recipe)


There are a number of martial arts titled drinks involving whiskey in the Death & Co. book. This one unusually uses fuji apple juice--which might be the only Japanese-ish thing this drink has going for it. Overall, the Whirling Tiger is much more of a fall cocktail that tastes like a ginger spiced cold cider with the happy addition of bourbon. 

Again, I used my ginger brandy to flavor the simple syrup for this recipe so I didn't have to have a lengthy infusion. 

  • 2 oz. Buffalo Trace bourbon
  • 1 oz. fuji apple juice (R. W. Knudsen apple juice used)
  • 3/4 oz. apple juice
  • 1/2 oz. ginger syrup (simple and ginger brandy used)
  • 1 fuji apple slice

Combine liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a highball glass fulled with ice. Garnish with the apple slice. 

Warehouse C (Death & Co. Recipe)

There is no end to the great drinks you can make with bourbon. This one comes as no surprise, but it seems a little unusual to find orgeat, strawberry an cinnamon all in the same cocktail. To me, the flavors in the Warehouse C signal the end of summer berries and the beginning of fall spice cocktails.

Death & Co. recommends batching your own cinnamon infused syrup for drinks like this, but I never do. I rely on a dash of MurLarkey cinnamon whiskey, which is basically cinnamon infused whiskey. It is the real deal, and so adding some to your simple syrup effectively makes it cinnamon syrup. I did the same with my homemade ginger liqueur and simple syrup to make the ginger syrup.

  • 1 strawberry
  • 1 1/2 oz. Buffalo Trace bourbon (Ancient Age by Buffalo Trace used)
  • 3/4 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/4 oz. lime juice
  • 1/4 oz. orgeat (Fee Brothers used)
  • 1/4 oz. cinnamon syrup (simple and a dash of MurLarkey cinnamon whiskey used)
  • 1/4 oz. ginger syrup (simple and a dash of ginger liqueur used)
  • 1 dash aromatic bitters (Hella used)
Muddle the strawberry in a shaker tin. Add ice and the remaining ingredients. Shake and double strain into a chilled coupe glass.


Friday, October 1, 2021

House of Payne (Death & Co.)


I'm not sure if this cocktail obliquely references Thomas Payne or if the bartender was punning on the hip-hop group and the feeling most Negronis give your tongue from their bitterness. I do know that I love Negronis and raspberries but never considered mixing the two. 

One thing I love about muddling raspberries in a stirred cocktail is that they impart their clear red juice into the spirits and you can just strain out the seeds and pulp and no one would be the wiser. It is as if you used a non-alcoholic raspberry liqueur! The color of this Negroni is impressive, and the berry juice gives it a sweeter texture than you expect. I can't believe I just made this in my mixing glass and not a shaker, but doing so would mean making a cloudy Negroni. That I just can't do.

  • 3 raspberries
  • 1 1/2 oz. London dry gin (Bloom used)
  • 1 oz. Plymouth sloe gin (Mr. Boston used)
  • 1 oz. Campari 
  • 1 raspberry garnish

Muddle 3 raspberries in a mixing glass before adding liquid ingredients and ice. Stir and double strain over a single cube of ice in an Old Fashioned glass. Garnish with one raspberry on a cocktail pick.

Augie March (Death & Co.)

Aged tequila can really make for an interesting take on a Manhattan. While it doesn't taste much like rye, a tequila Manhattan gets a lot of help from Cynar's bitter herbaceous notes. After all, Manhattans are as much about vermouth as they are whiskey, and bitter amaro and bitter vermouth pair exceedingly well with bitter tequila like el Jimador. After a few sips, you forget there is tequila in your glass--which is a cool trick, but let's just say this is not a drink to enjoy with tacos. It is clearly an aperitif, or you can end your meal with it just like you would do with your typical Manhattan.

  • 2 oz. reposado (el Jimador anejo used)
  • 3/4 oz. Antica Formula vermouth (Cocchi Dopo Teatro used)
  • 1/2 oz. Cynar
  • 1 brandied cherry garnish

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

Flor de Jalisco (Death & Co. Recipe)


This is a Margarita, plain and simple. Well, it's made with agave nectar not simple syrup, but you get the point. This cocktail also utilizes one of my favorite tricks. I love using jams and marmalade for a shorthand for fresh fruit or a liqueur. In this case, I'm enjoying orange marmalade made locally in Virginia as a stand-in for triple sec. 

Bartender's Note: Sauza has been recently bought by another spirits corporation and I see them rebranding their products. Hacienda is the same as their old 100% Blue Agave label--same price and quality. While many people would criticize me, I'm a huge fan of everything Sauza from Tres Generaciones to Anejo Commemorativo (which has disappeared under a new label I suspect). Compare them to Patron and you can't beat them for the price.

  • 2 oz. blanco tequila (Sauza Hacienda blanco used)
  • 3/4 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/4 oz. agave nectar (Madhava used)
  • 1 teaspoon orange marmalade (Shawnee used)

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled coupe.

Nitty-Gritty (Death & Co. Recipe)


The inventor of this drink says that this cocktail is a riff on the Fifty-Fifty Martini, which is exactly what it sounds like: Half gin and half dry vermouth. What the hell is this, then? Many ingredients, none of them vermouth... If you are making a Martini variation, I don't want to see Benedictine or pear brandy. 

That sounds harsh, though. I really loved this cocktail. It is unusual to see dry Manzanilla and mezcal used in the same drink, much less pear brandy and Benedictine. And the bartender's note was absolutely right. Sometimes a rich-tasting ingredient like mezcal (which is quite dry in texture) mixed with a dry fortified wine like Manzanilla feels too dry to drink. It's like you need sugar to pull apart the wild flavors of mezcal and sherry when they are mixed in these quantities and chilled. And that is why the agave syrup was a brilliant move. 

Pear is also a difficult flavor to detect when searching for it in a dry pear brandy. Agave syrup helps with that, but apple bitters also suggests pie fruits and baked notes. That's what this cocktail finally brings home. It is a pie drink that is on the dry side and perfect for appetizers rather than dessert. 

  • 1 1/2 oz. del Maugey mezcal
  • 1/2 oz. Manzinilla sherry (Orleans used)
  • 1/2 oz. Benedictine
  • 1/2 oz. pear brandy (Catoctin Creek used)
  • 1/2 tsp. agave nectar
  • 1 dash bar coke baked apple bitters
  • 1 dash aromatic bitters (Hella used)
  • lemon twist garnish

Combine all ingredients except twist in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled coupt and garnish with the lemon twist. 

Pillow Talk (Deat & Co. Recipe)


I knew I'd find a use for Wine Cube sparkling rose when I bought it! Sparkling cocktails are tricky. You have to invest in them because opening a bottle of bubbles is a commitment and not something you typically do on a whim. 

But this is a very whimsical cocktail. Bloom gin and sloe gin just scream Bloomsbury movement (both very relaxed and, at the same time, very English.) I didn't have Creme Yvette (a nut and berry liqueur similar to cassis with a lovely pink color) but I did have a lot of Mazzenez cassis, which is also enjoyed more readily by English folk more readily than it is across the pond--so I'm often looking for a reason to use it. 

I'm sure a better quality sloe gin would have been an improvement. For decades, Mr. Boston was they only brand making sloe gin, and it is still hard to find the new Plymouth in most stores. There just isn't a big market for sloe gin, and I have no idea how to make it. 

The final product was rich and fruity. Bloom is already a floral and fruity gin, but grapefruit juice and all the berry flavors from the liqueurs punched that up a notch. The rose was really there for texture and bubbles, because the drink was going to be bright pink anyways. I'd try this with dry champagne in a heartbeat. Ok. Well, maybe not a full bottle of the Dom, though.

  • 1 1/2 oz. Bloom gin
  • 1/4 oz. sloe gin (Mr. Boston used)
  • 1/4 oz. Creme Yvette (Mazzenez creme de cassis used)
  • 3/4 oz. grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 oz. vanilla syrup
  • sparkling rose
 Shake all ingredients except the sparkling wine with ice. Strain into a flute and top with sparkling rose.

Pressure Drop (Death & Co. Recipe)

 Of course Death & Co. has a tribute to The Clash on their menu--I love that song. Maybe the name is also related to the clash of flavors in this cocktail. But I will say that as jarring and often bittersweet as these ingredients are on their own, they tame each other and make for a very mellow sipping cocktail that is something akin to a bitter Manhattan. The thing is, there is no whiskey in this cocktail. 

The recipe calls for Ransom Old Tom gin, which is pretty dank (and I mean that in several interpretations of the word "dank"). It has a steeped barley and botanicals note that is bitter and earthy. There's Ransom's prohibition style spirit funk that tastes like a small batch moonshine made with barley but selecting the "hearts" of the run. Then there is the malty sweetness at its core if you can stick with the jumble of flavors long enough to enjoy it. 

My own Schiedam gin is also a steeped gin using barley and grain spirits (some of which are smoked with pinewood.) My ingredients are mainly herbal botanicals like juniper, rosemary, angelica, basil, birch, crushed coriander and cardamon pods. It is a very winter spice gin and one, like ransom, you will learn to enjoy with experience. Here is how to make this gin!

For the rest of the cocktail I also had to be creative. I love Amaro Meletti, but had to recreate it as well with equal parts Strega, Don Ciccio & Figili's Ambrosia and Ramazzotti. I also substituted Dolin Dry vermouth for 

  • 1 1/2 oz. Ransom Old Tom (Homemade Schiedam gin used)
  • 1 oz. Amaro Meletti (equal parts Strega, Ramazzotti and Ambrosia used)
  • 1/2 oz. Dolin Dry vermouth
  • 1 tsp. Clear Creak pear brandy (Catoctin Creek pear brandy used)
  • 1 dash angostura bitters
 Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 


Prima China (Death & Co. Recipe)

How many puns can you make with the name Cynar. No there is no Chinese ingredient in this cocktail, but that is also true of the Chinese cocktail as well. Really, this cocktail is a split between Mexican and Italian ingredients, but you don't have an easy play on words there.

This was a rich and bittersweet chocolate cocktail. I really liked how all the flavors came together and each lending its special touch. I am not a huge el Jimador fan, but the bitterness of their Anejo tequila was perfect for this drink and paired well with Cynar. Creme de cacao is often overly sweet, as is Dolin blanc, but in this case it was needed for balance and did that perfectly.

The recipe calls for Earl Gray infused Dolin blanc. I skipped the infusion time and used a drizzle of MurLarkey Three Tea whiskey (really only a few drops to not upset the balance of alcohol in the Dolin or overplay the tea flavor.) MurLarkey flavored whiskies are great for this because they are already an infusion of a flavor into raw (not neutral) corn spirit. Three Tea whiskey is bitter because there is no sugar, and it tastes strongly of Earl Gray, so it was an awesome move. 

  • 2 oz. Anejo tequila (El Jimador used)
  • 3/4 oz. Earl Grey-infused Dolin blanc (Murlarkey Three Tea whiskey and Dolin blanc used)
  • 1/4 oz. Cynar 70
  • 1 tsp creme de cacao
  • 1 dash Aztec bitters
  • grapefruit twist garnish

Combine all ingredients except for garnish in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the twist. 

Saturday, September 4, 2021

Silver Monk (Death & Co. Recipe)


It's no secret that cucumber and mint makes a tequila cocktail amazing. Death & Co. has no fewer than three cucumber and tequila recipes, most having some kind of alpine spirit in the mix. Besides Strega, which I wouldn't use in this drink, I rely on Genepy as my alpine spirit stand-in for Chartreuse. It isn't as honeyed as the yellow Chartreuse or as bitter as the Green, but it has a mild flavor that pushes all the right buttons that Chartreuse does without being too recognizable in the way that Benedictine and Strega are. 

This is one of those early 2000s cocktails where the real highlight is the fresh ingredients: the juice, cucumber and mint, that makes this drink memorable.

  • 2 cucumber wheels
  • 8 mint leaves
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • 2 oz. blanco tequila (Sauza Hacienda used)
  • 3/4 oz. yellow Chartreuse (Dolin Genepy used)
  • 3/4 oz. lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. simple syrup

Muddle mint and cucumber in a shaker before adding ice and the remaining ingredients. Shake and double strain into a chilled coupe glass. (Garnish pictured is not part of the original recipe but too tempting not to use.)

Sweet And Vicious (Death & Co. Recipe)


Muddled fuji apples makes a great start to a whiskey drink. This is the first time I've done a muddled apple cocktail in a mixing glass. It works, but you have to use a fine strainer. 

I especially liked the way that apples and rye play together with a mild amaro and Dolin dry vermouth, which has a little bit of a green apple flavor itself. 

One note when stirring this cocktail is that you have to make sure you stir a lot. Apple pieces tend to slow down the swirl and that prevents a lot of chilling from happening. The ice doesn't melt as quickly, so stay with it and stir longer and a little harder than usual.

  • 2 fuji apple slices
  • 2 oz. rye (Catoctin Creek used)
  • 1/2 oz. Dolin dry
  • 1/2 oz. Amaro Nonino (1/4 oz. each Amer Picon and Ambrosia Apertivo used)
  • 1 tsp. maple syrup
  • 1 apple fan garnish

Muddle apple slices in a mixing glass before adding the remaining liquid ingredients and ice. Stir and double strain into a coupe and garnish with the apple fan. 

Tom Bomb (Death & Co. Recipe)


This cocktail is pretty sweet with orgeat, Donn's spices (allspice dram) and honey syrup. I think that was what was needed to overpower the rank nose of Ransom Old Tom gin. Yes, this cocktail takes an acquired taste like Ransom and turns it into a "bomb" drink that will easily destroy anyone. All it took was three forms of sugar and some pretty wild flavors.

Donn's Spices is a mix of St. Elizabeth allspice dram and vanilla syrup. I used my own allspice dram and vanilla vodka mixed with cane sugar syrup for this recipe. My homemade orgeat spoiled, however, so I bought Fee's from my local wine shop. While it isn't my cognac orgeat, I had said before making the last batch that I was done squeezing almonds to make syrup; and their slogan is "Don't squeeze use Fee's." So I did.

  • 1 1/2 oz. Ransom Old Tom (Homemade Schiedam gin used)
  • 1/4 oz. Donn's Spices (50/50 vanilla syrup and allspice dram)
  • 1/2 oz. pineapple juice
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/4 oz. orgeat (Fee's used)
  • 1/4 oz. acacia honey syrup

Combine all ingredients in a shaker whit ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktial glass. 

B.A.F. (Death & Company Recipe)

The story goes that when trying out this recipe on a Death & Co. guest, the response was, "That drink is bitter as fuck!" I don't know how bitter this was, given that Campari wasn't in the mix, but I know Gran Classico and it is sort of bitter. 

I also didn't have it, so I used the closest gentian spirit I did have: Suze. Now Suze is bitter AF. I also used Ambrosia as a stand in for Aperol (both of which are pretty sweet) and that allowed me to make this drink without needing a simple syrup or honey. That and the Oloroso sherry are the sweet part of the drink. There is still a lot of bitterness even without dashes of bitters. One of those things--the final step--is the twist of lemon over the glass. This gives bitter lemon oil scent on top without any of the acid in the juice or even the pith from dropping it in the glass. 

  • 1 oz. MacCallan Fine Oak (Highland Park Spirit of the Bear used)
  • 1 oz. Lustau Oloroso (Faraon used)
  • 1/2 oz. Aperol (Ambrosia Apertivo used)
  • 1/2 oz. Gran Classico (Suze used)
  • 1 lemon twist

Combine all liquid ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled coupe. Twist the lemon over the glass and discard.


Honshu Punch (Death & Co. Recipe)


According to the Death & Co. book, Honshu punch was a regular offering with an ingredient makeup that changed depending on who was bartending when it is ordered. The recipe the book provides, however, is one that intentionally makes use of Japanese Yamazaki 12 whiskey. This was a great idea back in 2008 when demand for this fabulous whiskey was low, but not at the prices it is going for right now. 

I've been using Catoctin Creek Colossal X--a barley malt whiskey--which is not too different from the barley whiskies of Japan. They are like scotch without the smoke, and this is also true of Colossal X. The rest of the cocktail is necessarily simple, given that it is a punch that is batched before each shift. 

  • 2 oz. Yamazaki 12 (Catoctin Creek Colossal X used)
  • 3/4 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. pineapple juice
  • 1/2 oz. cane sugar syrup
  • 2 dashes Fee Brothers Whiskey Barrel-Aged Bitters (Angostura used)
  • 2 dashes Bitter Truth Aromatic Bitters (Hella Aromatic bitters used)
  • 1 oz. club soda

Combine all ingredients except soda in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a large snifter with a single large format ice cube. Top with club soda. 

La Vina (Death & Co. Recipe)


The inventor of this drink says they like to use an amaro in a Manhattan to surprise guests. I'm not so surprised by this as I am with the use of a rich sherry like East India Solera. The idea for this drink may have begun as a Manhattan variation, but it became a lower ABV cocktail when amaro and sherry make up two thirds of the ingredients. 

To make Amaro Nonino, I use half my homemade Amer Picon, which is really loaded with orange and herbal notes and half Ambrosia cordial from Don Ciccio & Figili. Together you get something approximating the bittersweet Nonino. 

I have the rest of the ingredients as they are specified in the recipe, however, and the final product is pretty and very nice either before or after dinner.

  • 1 oz. rye (Catoctin Creek used)
  • 1 oz. Amaro Nonino (1/2 oz. each Amer Picon and Apertivo used)
  • 1 oz. Lustau East India Solera Sherry
  • 1 dash orange bitters (Hella used)

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled coupe. 

Friday, September 3, 2021

Moon Cocktail (Death & Co. Recipe)


I must be mistaken, but aren't "moon" themed drinks supposed to have apple brandy in them? Anyway, this cocktail was that kind of rich version of a Bamboo, which is a variation itself of a Martini. It is terrific for all of that boozy warmth with a lot more going on with it than a bone-dry Martini with a twist. 

I made use of Bloom dry gin and Alejandro amontillado sherry for this cocktail, which kept things on the lighter, floral side. It was when I got to creme de peche (peach flavored whiskey in my drink) and honey syrup that things get a little heavier. And that's not a bad thing. Altogether this was a grounded drink. You may have been asking for the moon, but you got something just as good. 

  • 2 oz. Plymouth gin (Bloom used)
  • 3/4 oz. amontillado sherry (Alejandro used)
  • 1 tsp. creme de peche (peach whiskey used)
  • 1/4 oz. acacia honey syrup
  • lemon twist

Combine liquid ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled coupe glass. Squeeze lemon twist over it and discard (or keep it as pictured.)

Pink Elephant (Death & Co. Recipe)


It is a little fitting that this cocktail reminds the drinker of Dumbo. It tastes like an Aviation crashed into a Hemingway Daiquiri. For this I used Bloom gin, which is fabulously floral and my own blackberry brandy (pictured left). The rest reads like a classic recipe from Harry Craddock's book. You might even convince someone that it was named back in the 30s when Dumbo was a new film.

  • 2 oz. London dry gin (Bloom used)
  • 1 tsp. Luxardo maraschino
  • 1 tsp. creme de mure (homemade blackberry brandy used)
  • 3/4 oz. grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 oz. lime juice
  • 1 tsp. simple syrp

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

202 Steps (Death & Co. Recipe)


I'm not sure about this cocktail's name. It certainly wasn't complicated, so the name can't refer to the recipe or difficulty. Maybe it has something to do with New York, or the distance from the bar to office or something very Death & Co. 

Tangerine is just different enough that you don't know what gives this drink its exotic flavor. Bourbon and citrus are fabulous together, so it is a wonder that this recipe hasn't been tried before except that tangerines are not typical bar ingredients, and I wonder about that when tasting this drink. Every bit of this is good. Now that I'm looking at the recipe, it is supposed to be served on the rocks, but I was in a coupe mood. I'm sure that having it one way or another wouldn't detract from the enjoyment. It is easy for any novice drinker to handle, but for those insecure guys who require a rocks glass to preserve their manhood, maybe this is a winner all around. 

  • 1/4 tangerine peeled
  • 2 oz. bourbon (Four Roses used)
  • 1/2 oz. simple syrup
  • 2 dashes orange bitters (Hella used)
  • 1 orange twist

Muddle the tangerine in a shaker and add ice and the remaining liquid ingredients. Shake and strain into an Old Fashioned glass with a large ice cube and garnish with the orange twist.

Blazing Saddles (Death & Co. Recipe)

Blazing Saddles is a funny title for a pretty serious cocktail--not at all like the movie by the same name. I guess that the original recipe's calling for High West whiskey has something to do with the inspiration for the drink. 

High West silver oat whiskey is something I've never tried and I fear I could be a long way off on flavor with my substitution of Catoctin Creek Colossal X malt barley whiskey. Maybe I'm not, though.

I made other changes to the recipe with my knockoff Combier Pamplemousse liqueur (a grain spirit infusion of grapefruit peels and juice) and my easy cinnamon syrup (which is basically a dash of MurLarkey cinnamon whiskey in my demerara syrup. 

The overall effect is less blazing cinnamon and more just a balanced cinnamon and grapefruit sour with a malty whiskey center. This is one of Death & Co.'s more approachable recipes both for bartenders and drinkers. It won't challenge either of them. 

  • 2 oz. High West silver oat whiskey (Catoctin Creek Colossal X malt barley whiskey used)
  • 1/2 oz. Combier Pamplemousse rose liqueur (homemade used)
  • 3/4 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. cinnamon syrup (MurLarkey cinnamon whiskey and simple used)
  • 1 dash Bittermen's Elemakule Tiki bitters (Angostura used)
  • 1 grapefruit twist garnish
Combine all ingredients except garnish in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with the twist of grapefruit.

Sweet Hereafter (Deat & Co. Recipe)

This is an unusual pisco cocktail: it is sweet, stirred and aromatic. Nothing like the pisco cocktails you find in South America or California. Some people think the only thing pisco is good for is punch or Sours. Well, Capel pisco is dry and fairly neutral. It functions a lot like a vodka or gin and, therefore, makes a good Martini variation. 

I loved the elderflower and grapefruit nose that this cocktail brings upfront. It melts into rich aromatic wines like Dolin blanc and Cocchi Americano. It's a sweet Martini, and the name fits it perfectly.

  • 1 grapefruit twist 
  • 2 oz. pisco (Capel used)
  • 1/2 oz. Cocchi Americano
  • 1/2 oz. Dolin blanc
  • 1 tsp. St-Germain
  • 1 dash hopped grapefruit bitters (Fee Brothers grapefruit bitters used)

Squeeze the grapefruit twist over a mixing glass and discard (or keep as shown). Combine the remaining ingredients in the glass and stir with ice. Strain into a chilled coupe glass.

Monday, August 16, 2021

Cigarettes And Carrot Juice (Original Recipe)


"Cigarettes and carrot juice. Get yourself a new tattoo for those sleeveless days of June." That's the opening lines of Cracker's The Golden Age album of 1996. Full of the depression and male angst of that era, the protagonist is sitting in a cafe and angry at the happy world because he hasn't gotten over a breakup yet.

I've been wanting to make a cocktail to commemorate this feel-bad song for a long time, and I knew it had to include carrot juice. But what about the cigarettes? I had a breakthrough when I made the Death & Co. recipe Coffee and Cigarettes. This scotch, Galliano, sweet vermouth and chocolate bitters combination really clinched the taste of cigarettes. Now I only needed to combine the two. 

  • 2 oz. Islay scotch (McClelland's Islay used)
  • 1/2 oz. Galliano
  • 1/2 oz. Cocchi Dopo Teatro vermouth
  • 2 dashes Fee Brothers Aztec chocolate bitters
  • 3 oz. carrot juie
  • small carrot garnish

Combine all ingredients except for garnish in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into an Old Fashioned glass full of fresh ice. Garnish with the small carrot. 


I can't believe I've never posted about this classic. I must have made it a dozen times for vodka drinkers who wanted a Caipirinha but didn't want to have the cacha├ža. The trick to success with this cocktail is to use a raw (coarse) sugar and crushed ice. I personally don't like to shake the lime hulls after I've juiced them, but I will leave one or both in the glass with fresh crushed ice. 

I also don't use only raw sugar, but a simple syrup made from the stuff so that the drink is at least a little bit sweet. See, the large sugar crystals don't really dissolve unless you really shake hard, and that seems to water down the drink a lot. A rich simple with sugar crystals in it should give that grainy flavor that lasts even after you sip away the liquid from the straw. This drink is tart, but it shouldn't be shockingly so. A mix of simple and raw sugar grains is the best of both worlds.

  • 2 oz. vodka (Divine Clarity used)
  • juice and hulls of one lime
  • 1 tbsp. raw sugar crystals (1/2 oz. raw simple syrup with sugar crystals used)

Combine all ingredients including lime hulls in a shaker with crushed ice. Shake and pour into a rocks glass. (Alternatively, I like to shake without the lime hulls in the shaker and place them in the glass with fresh crushed ice. Then strain the cocktail into the crushed ice.)

Coffee and Cigarettes (Death & Co. Recipe)


I'm impressed with how well this cocktail mimics the scent and flavor of this smoker's delight. Coffee and cigarettes are known to go well together, and specifically at times when a craving for both hits. I'm not a smoker, but I have to agree that there is something about the bitterness of coffee and that sweet tang of tobacco smoke that mysteriously emerges in this cocktail.

Coffee and Cigarettes is like one of those flavor hacks that tricks your brain into sensing things that are not even there. It has something to do with a smokey Islay scotch (The recipe calls for Caol Ila, not one of the southernmost scotches like Laphroaig with their heavy peat dose). I used McClelland's Islay because it is sourced from the Bowmore distillery, so it is less salty than Laphroaig and Ardbeg, and much closer to Caol Ila.

Then there is the magic created with sweet vermouth, chocolate bitters and Galliano that I cant explain. They come together to make a cold brew coffee taste when done in these proportions. I made a note to use them again whenever I'm going for this flavor but don't want to use it directly in a drink.

  • 2 oz. Caol Ila 12-year-old scotch (McClelland's Islay used)
  • 1/2 oz. Galliano 
  • 1 tsp. Antica Formula Vermouth
  • 2 dashes Aztec bitters

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled coupe. 

Carrots Grow On Carrot Trees (Original Recipe)

Always looking for a new savory cocktail recipe, I decided that I would make carrot juice the new tomato juice. It can't be all about Bloody Mary's after all. There needs to be a rooty and bright alternative with turmeric and ginger. And vodka seemed the perfect spirit to let the vegetables shine in this tall cooler of a drink.

The name comes from "The Carrot Seed" a classic kids song that seems to be all about elders and "betters" knowing that gardening has its share of disappointment. The child gardener's parents and older brother are all saying that the carrot won't grow. That's a little how I feel about this recipe. Many people criticize it before giving it a chance. Hopefully you will try it out first before passing judgement.

This recipe uses MurLarkey Divine Clarity Vodka, but any 80-proof vodka or neutral spirit will do. There's also Lakewood's carrot juice (which has a helping of lemon juice to provide acidity, releasing me of the duty of squeezing lemons.) I made a ginger rice wine vinegar infusion with sweet rice wine and ginger slices. This was for cooking, but it turned out to be the right sweetener for the job and it added a nice spiciness. Finally, turmeric provides the backbone of a strong smelling root that pairs well with carrot.

  • 2 oz. vodka
  • 4 oz. carrot juice
  • 1/2 oz. ginger infused sweet rice wine vinegar
  • pinch kosher salt 
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • dash powdered turmeric
  • carrot garnish as a stir stick

Combine all ingredients except garnish in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled highball glass full of fresh ice. Stir with the carrot and leave it in the glass. 


Sunday, August 8, 2021

Osaka Choya Martini (Original Recipe)


A few years ago I attempted to make a cocktail called the Osaka Dry. This was a sake Martini with a Japanese pickled plum. Unable to find the pickled plums in their traditional plum wine, I pickled small plums (more like apricots than purple plums often found in the U.S.) and made the drink as best I could given the information I had on pickling plums the traditional Japanese way.

Now I'm excited to share that Choya is available in specialty wine shops with single serving jars of plum wine and a traditional Japanese pickled plum. 

Not a sake drink, this Choya Martini is an attempt to spread out the sweet flavor or plum wine. I used MurLarkey Divine Clarity potato vodka for its ability to hang with sweet and even savory cocktails better than wheat vodkas that have more of a citrus whiff about them. It was a good choice and one I'd recommend to anyone looking for ways to mix with plum wine. 

  • 3 oz. Divine Clarity vodka
  • 1 oz. Choya plum wine
  • 1 Japanese pickled plum garnish

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