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 cachaça. 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. 


May Fair (Death & Co. Recipe)


This Vieux Carre adaptation is an intense dive into the world of herbal liquors. The original cocktail chef from Death & Co. explains that they tried to meld two different styles of aquavit--one that is traditional carraway and another that is more anise-forward. The idea is not only sound, but appropriate given the anise flavor that appears in many New Orleans cocktails like the Vieux Carre. 

I was fortunate to have two kinds of homemade aquavit with exactly these same characteristics. My Altungstad aquavit has a heap of anise along with its more traditional ingredients. The other is made with MurLarkey Divine Clarity Vodka and Justice White Whiskey and the normal mix of caraway, fennel, cumin and angelica seeds. It is interesting how different the two are and I was proud to feature them in this superb cocktail. 

  • 1 oz. London dry gin (Bloom used)
  • 1/2 oz. Krogstad aquavit (Homemade Altungstad used)
  • 1/2 oz. Linie aquavit (Homemade traditional aquavit used)
  • 1 oz. sweet vermouth (Cocchi Dopo Teatro used)
  • 1/4 oz. Benedictine
  • 2 dashes Peychauds bitters
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 1 orange twist

Combine liquid ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into an Old Fashioned glass with one large rock. Twist the orange zest over the drink and drop it in. 

Pressure Drop (Death & Co. Recipe)


This cocktail took me several attempts before I landed on a formula that seemed to work the way the original bartender intended it. That is because I often make my own ingredients, which are very close to those in the recipe but require some tweaking to get them right. 

In this case, it was necessary to emulate Meletti Amaro, that saffron and fruit rich amaro that is so pleasant by itself. Several renditions approached Meletti, but the one that worked best was equal parts (1/3 oz. each) of Strega, Amer Picon, and Aperol. 

With that problem solved, I had to pick a gin that was close to Ransom Old Tom. Fortunately I had an aged barley malt gin I made a year ago that really mimics Ransom. This is an infused vodka gin recipe that also includes barley moonshine and smokey barley whiskey. Not exactly Ransom, but the idea is still good. 

Finally, I played around with vermouth and bitters choices and settled on the original ingredients. There is only one Dolin dry and Angostura bitters. Hopefully my trick with replicating Meletti will prove helpful to others. Overall, I hope that anyone following this recipe uses as many of the specified ingredients as possible or else risk making a few "off" examples to drink. Really, though, is that so bad.

  • 1 1/2 oz. Ransom Old Tom gin (homemade Schiedam gin used)
  • 1 oz. Amaro Meletti (1/3 oz. each of Strega, Amer Picon and Aprol used)
  • 1/2 oz. Dolin dry vermouth
  • 1 tsp. Clear Creek 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 coupe glass. 

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

A Coffee In Manhattan (Original Recipe)


Another original recipe, here: this time I'm playing around with flavors that aren't often paired together to create yet another Manhattan variation. The theme I'm going with is breakfast--coffee enjoyed with half of a grapefruit. I love this combination of acidic flavors. They don't go together at all. Coffee is so dark and bitter and grapefruit juice is so tart but also a little bitter and sweet. Having them together is jarring, but not unpleasant. I recommend it.

But I really recommend this Manhattn variation because of its lifting grapefruit bitters that set it apart from other coffee Manhattans. Lifting bitters bring essences up to your nose and provide a palate lift that breaks up heavy tasting ingredients. This is opposed to binding bitters that help join disparate flavors like whiskey and vermouths. This cocktail still has whiskey and vermouth, but it the use of Fee Brothers grapefruit bitters puts a burst of acidity right in the middle of that bitter depth of MurLarkey Coffee whiskey and bittersweet vermouth that normally a Manhattan drinker looks forward to. It essentially causes you to wake up from the boring slumber of drinking the same kind of Manhattan, and it does this with the flavors I enjoy at breakfast. 

  • 2 oz. MurLarkey Heritage whiskey
  • 1 oz. MurLarkey coffee whiskey
  • 1/2 oz. Cocchi Dopo Teatro sweet vermouth
  • 4 dashes Fee Brothers Grapefruit Bitters
  • 1 Luxardo cherry garnish

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

Summer of '69 (Original Recipe)


Okay, this is a '60s nostalgia cocktail and one that is doubly nostalgic because I named it while the Brian Adams song was playing. I'm referencing 1960's flavors to give you an impression of cocktails from that era. One must remember that grapefruit juice was huge back then. Grapefruit juice and any spirit of choice including moonshine were popular combinations, so I created a liqueur with the bitterness of grapefruit peels and the sourness of the juice. This simple recipe is as follows:

  • 1 cup 100-proof vodka
  • peel and juice of 1/2 grapefruit

 Allow to infuse for 7-14 days: juice will taste fresh for one month. Store someplace cool and dark. 

The other thing to keep in mind is that Byrrh was a popular cocktail ingredient in the '60s as it is now, but for a long time in between it had nearly disappeared from American bars. So I brought together the bittersweet Byrrh with grapefruit spirit and pitted it against honey. The drink required more acidity so lemon juice brought it back on balance. The review was great! Complex but easy to drink. It helps if you don't think about it too much and just go with it, like the way most Americans survived the 1960s.

  • 1 1/2 oz. grapefruit liqueur (Deep Eddy's ruby red grapefruit vodka is a fair substitution)
  • 1 oz. Byrrh
  • 1/2 oz. honey syrup
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice

Shake all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Pour directly into an Old Fashioned glass, but something quirky and vintage is also appropriate. 

Imperial March (Death & Co. Recipe)

This cocktail is nearly the same as a Martinez served in a "fancy Fizz glass." I think that this vintage glass will do. I made two small adjustments to the recipe: first because I am only using MurLarkey ImaGination gin as my dry gin right now and, second, I had to find substitutions to the fortified wine because I cant find Alvear Festival Pale Cream Sherry. I'm using Oloroso instead; and, while it is darker in color, it has the sweet nuttiness I'm looking for. In such large portions, it is important for the taste of the sherry to fit the style of the drink.

On tasting this Death & Co. recipe, I discovered that I was correct--this is a Martinez with sherry and a bit of grapefruit flavor. Not bad, and the change of glass does affect your impression of it, but orange (and grapefruit) bitterness blends well with sherry richness and all of it is lifted by Luxardo.

  • 1 1/2 oz. Martin Miller's Westbourne Strength gin (MurLarkey ImaGination used)
  • 1 oz Alvear Festival Pale Cream Sherry (Faraon Olorso used)
  • 3/4 oz. Cocchi Americano
  • 1 tsp Luxardo maraschino liqeur
  • 1 dash orange bitters (Hella used)
  • 1 grapefruit twist garnish

Combine liquid ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into the fancy Fizz glass and twist a grapefruit zest over the glass and drop it in. 


Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Little Birdy (Death & Co. Recipe)

This is a wonderfully approachable cocktail. This is one case where I am not lamenting my purchase of Chileanl pisco, because I was glad that its relative tastelessness took on the infusion flavors so well. 

It starts with strawberry and pineapple pieces soaking in pisco for about a week. This is a perfect flavor combination that is a little bit tropical and a little familiar. Interestingly, the pineapple in the pisco still has a slight foaming effect that pineapple juice tends to provide--like a vegetarian foam. 

Then St-Germain and citrus juices balance out to make for a candy-like cocktail that is really a different taste experience. A little sweet, but so many changes in the waves of flavors you detect as they wash over your tongue. I would do this one again with a different spirit, maybe with a fruitier Peruvian pisco.

  • 2 oz. strawberry and pineapple infused pisco
  • 1/2 oz. St-Germain
  • 3/4 oz. Grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. simple syrup

Shake all ingredients with ice, then strain into a coupe. 


Peachy Pachacuti (Death & Co. Recipe)


Yogurt is a great addition in mixed drinks, whether or not they are alcoholic. Consider the Mango Lassi, for example. This is similar to the Mango Lassi, but with peaches and pisco. The Death & Co. bartender who invented it said he came up with it in a cocktail competition in Peru and used the name of one of the Inca emperors to sway the judges. 

You be the judge of this one: I loved the proportions--not a milkshake or a sour bomb. Ripe peaches are all natural and there is no fake flavor there. Pisco is a strange choice of spirit and if one is not in Peru, I could see almost any spirit except for absinthe (and that's still a maybe in my book) as a good choice for this very cosmopolitan cocktail.

  • 3 ripe peach slices
  • 2 oz. pisco (Capel used)
  • 1/2 oz. lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 3/4 oz. honey syrup
  • 1 tsp Greek yogurt

Muddle peach slices in a shaker tin. Add the remaining ingredients and shake with ice. Double strain into a snifter with one large ice cube. 

Friday, July 16, 2021

Manhattan Transfer (Death & Co. Recipe)


I'm still in a Manhattan mood and trying new variations of that classic, this time with rye, Ramazzotti and dry vermouth. It turns out that Ramazzotti is one of the ingredients in my homemade Amer Picon, which is mostly an infusion of oranges in MurLarkey Justice white whiskey. So I used Amer Picon to carry off the Ramazzotti flavor needed for the drink and inadvertently made a variation of the Brooklyn cocktail. 

I'm sure the Brooklyn was the inspiration for the Manhattan Transfer, but having no Amer Picon, they used Ramazzotti and the rest is history. 

  • 1 1/2 oz. Catoctin Creek Distiller's Edition rye
  • 1 oz. dry vermouth (Dolin used)
  • 1 oz. Ramazzotti (homemade Amer Picon used)
  • 1 dash orange bitters (Hella used)
 Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

Eagle Eye Cherry (Death & Co. Recipe)

I loved the taste of this cocktail. I was worried it would be too sweet, like a cordial, or too fruity as its name suggests. I was wrong. The flavor was more bitter and Manhattan-like than rum and sherry cocktail. This is because of many small touches in the recipe that keep the drinker's interest with their bitter notes holding down the sweetness of rum and cherry liqueur. 

These bitter elements were my homemade cherry blossom bitters--still going strong--and Suze gentian spirit (in addition to a hearty sweet vermouth like Cocchi Dopo Teatro). 

One note about the chocolate flavors in this cocktail: I was unsure what substitute to use for Alchemia chocolate vodka (1/4 oz. in the original recipe). I don't have it and I wasn't sure that coco whiskey or chocolate mole bitters would be the right substitute. I almost used Godiva dark chocolate liqueur, but reasoned that it would make the cocktail cloudy. I opted for creme de cacao, which in such small proportions was unlikely to add too much sugar.

  • 2 oz. Flor de Cana 7-year rum (George Bowman used)
  • 1/2 oz. Cherry Heering
  • 1/2 oz. Alvear Festival Pale Cream Sherry (Alexandro Amontillado used)
  • 1/2 oz. Lustau East India Solera Sherry
  • 1/4 oz. Alchemia chocolate vodka (creme de cacao used)
  • 1/2 tsp. Suze
  • 1 tsp. Antica Formula vermouth (Cocchi Dopo Teatro used)
  • dash cherry blossom bitters
  • orange twist
  • brandied cherry (Luxardo used)

Combine liquid ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a port glass and twist the orange zest over it. Garnish with the cherry on a cocktail pick. 


Black Market Manhattan (Death & Co. Recipe)


I was in the mood for a Manhattan, or at least something like one. That is where the Black Market Manhattan (or my version of it) was born. The concept by Death & Co. seems to be an attempt to make a Manhattan without rye and changing a few other ingredients and still pull off something nearly like a Manhattan--hence the black market moniker. It's as if the normal ingredients are unavailable, either because of legislation or by pure happenstance, but a crafty bartender still comes through with a satisfactory knock off.

So Death & Co. use a wheat whiskey called Bernheim. I actually don't have that, so my rationale is the latter necessity. I chose corn whiskey as my base--three of them in fact. A big part of the original recipe is orange tea infused sweet vermouth. I, instead, went with orange and tea infused whiskies. It was a good call and one that mimicked rich barrel aging of whiskey by using only unaged spirits. I supplied the fruit and vanilla of MurLarkey orange whiskey and the bitter tannin of their three tea whiskey and only a hint of their cinnamon whiskey to round out a cocktail that is almost like the real thing. 

  • 2 oz. MurLarkey orange whiskey
  • 1/2 oz. MurLarkey three tea whiskey
  • 1/2 oz. Cocchi Dopo Teatro sweet vermouth
  • 1 tsp. MurLarkey cinnamon whiskey
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters
  • lemon twist garnish

Combine liquid ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Twist lemon zest over the glass and drop it in. 

Monday, July 5, 2021

Soul Clench (Death & Co. Recipe)


This grape and grapefruit spirit cocktail has everything but juice. There's pisco and vermouth for the main notes, but accents of elderflower and spice from St-Germain and falernum. 

There is also an unusual ingredient known as Combier Pamplemousse Rose Liqueur. This is made from the juice and peel of grapefruit steeped in cognac--and it's lovely. I knocked it off with the peel of one grapefruit and one ounce of its juice infused into 2 oz. of vodka and one oz. of cognac for about twelve hours. A lovely taste and very brilliant, but I only made enough for two drinks. 

  • 2 oz. pisco (Capel used)
  • 3/4 oz. Dolin dry vermouth
  • 1/2 oz. Combier Pamplemousse Rose Liqueur (homemade used: see above)
  • 1/2 oz. oz. St-Germain
  • 1/4 oz. falernum (homemade used)
  • 1 grapefruit twist garnish

Combine liquid ingredients in a mixing glass full of ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Twist the grapefruit peel over the glass and drop it in. 

Poire Man's Cobbler (Death & Co. Recipe)

This little bon mot of a drink is a Pear Cobbler (a type of sweetened brandy cocktail on crushed ice). The joke comes from Poire (French for pear), which is used in the garnish and muddled into the spirits. It is one of the better Cobblers out there (keeping in mind that there are some sub-par Port and Sherry Cobblers fit only for consumption on winter holidays and even then in the privacy of your own home.

Peychaud's and Benedictine take this drink in a fun, spicy direction. But apple brandy is the main ingredient that thrusts the pear juice into relief. I don't have Calvados, but Laird's Applejack 86 is more than up to the task.

  • 2 oz. Busnel VSOP Calvados (Laird's Applejack 86 used)
  • 1/4 ripe Bartlett pear, cubed
  • 1/4 oz. Benedictine, 
  • 2 dashes Peychaud's bitters
  • 1 pear slice

Muddle the cubed pear in the shaker, then add the remining liquid ingredients and ice and shake. Strain over crushed ice in an Old Fashioned glass and garnish with the pear slice. 


Mucho Picchu (Death & Co.)


This cocktail name sounds like a bar inside joke--a pun on Machu Picchu. I don't get the reference, but it's ingredients are sound, as are most of the champagne cocktails in the Death & Co. recipe book. Unusual for a champagne cocktail, the juice is grapefruit and there are no bitters other than the maraschino, which is more sweet than bitter. The grapefruit twist is both attractive and aromatic with the bubbles coming up all around. 

This is one of the better ways to use Pisco (a grape spirit itself) by putting it in a sparkling wine. The number of ingredients is small and easy to prepare. All that is required is an open bottle of Chandon. 

  • 1 1/2 oz. pisco (Capel used)
  • 1/4 oz. Luxardo maraschino liqueur
  • 1/2 oz. grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 oz. simple syrup
  • dry champagne (Chandon used)
  • grapefruit twist garnish

Combine all liquid ingredients except champagne in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled champagne flute and top with champagne. Twist grapefruit zest over the drink and drop it in. 

Joker's Wild (Death & Co. Recipe)

This cocktail contains an unusual spirit that gives it this pretty red glow. Zoco Pacharan Navarro liqueur is a Spanish sloeberry, anisette, vanilla and coffee infusion. I don't have any way of getting it, but I figured I could pull off a replica with Aguardiente topped up with Galliano, and sloe gin and infused with whole coffee beans. This ingredient makes up the bulk of this cocktail, so I made enough for two. The recipe for the Pacharan Navarro knock off is as follows:

  • 2 oz. Agurdiente
  • 1/2 oz. Galliano
  • 1/2 oz. sloe gin
  • 10-15 coffee beans

The infusion only takes about 12 hours and is not a big deal to pull off ahead of serving the drink as long as you have the ingredients and the time. I will say that this is a pretty sticky-sweet liqueur, like an anise and sloeberry amaretto. The coffee comes through ever so subtly and adds bitterness, and the sloe gin doesn't completely overpower. The pisco, however is simply an afterthought that gets lost in the mix and the final result is little more than a spicier Sloe Gin Collins of some sort.

Lastly, there is a little foam from the liqueur and absinthe that is produced by shaking. It is, however, short lived and didn't stand up to being photographed. I'm still a little confused about this cocktail and what it is going for, but sometimes a drink is simply a method of enjoying a strange liqueur. And in that case Joker's Wild has that is spades.

  • 1/2 oz. pisco (Capel used)
  • 1 1/2 oz. Zoco Pacharan Navarro Liqueur (homemade recipe used)
  • 2 dashes absinthe
  • 3/4 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. simple syrup
  • 1/4 oz. vanilla syrup (vanilla-infused vodka used)
  • club soda

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a highball glass full of fresh ice. Top with soda and garnish with a spoonful of foam left over in the tin. 



Morfeo (Death & Co. Recipe)


This cocktail is named after the god of sleep and dreams. The name is fitting because this champagne cocktail uses chamomile-infused rye in a combination that would already make one drowsy in the afternoon (See Death In The Afternoon: an Ernest Hemingway cocktail that is guaranteed to make you pass out if consumed with lunch.)

My version is especially soporific because I used a blend of chamomile tea from Republic of Tea called Chamomile Lemon. This blend includes skullcap and valarian, which are herbal sleep aids. I don't know if any of the properties of the herbs actually make it into the rye infusion, but given the nature of this cocktail and the added punch from the tea, let's just assume that you will sleep well after having a nightcap of Morfeo.

  • 1 1/2 oz. chamomile-infused Rittenhouse rye
  • 1/4 oz. Galliano
  • 3/4 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. acacia honey syrup
  • dry champagne

Combine all ingredients except champagne in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled champagne flute. Top with champagne. 

Little Miss Annabelle (Death & Co. Recipe)


This cocktail is very light and French tasting--more of a Normandy cocktail with Benedictine and pear notes than the excessively absinthed cocktails of Paris. I like the balance that the small bit of Benedictine brings to this cocktail. It adds herbs and sweetness but doesn't overwhelm the brandies. 

Catoctin Creek pear is in there in a small proportion and you notice it because it is a bit of a distraction from the grape notes of the cognac. This is an excellent cocktail for someone who is new to French spirits because it is well rounded and shows off cognac and Benedictine without hitting you over the head.

  • 2 oz. of cognac (Meukow VS used)
  • 1/4 oz. pear liqueur (Catoctin Creek pear brandy used)
  • 3/4 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/4 oz. Benedictine
  • 1/4 oz. cane sugar syrup
  • 1 dash Peychaud's bitters

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

Miss Behavin' (Death & Co. Recipe)


I'm going back to Death & Co.'s amazing champagne cocktail list because every one of their recipes is a good idea and works well with champagne.

This time I'm using Moet and Chandon champagne with two American spirits to make this champagne drink taste like ripe pears. Catoctin Creek distillery makes this awesome pear brandy that has a whiff of ripe pears because it is distilled from fermented pear juice. It also has the nose of a calvados or fruit eau de vie. Laird's Applejack 86 is just a burst of apple flavor throughout because it comes from cider. The two read as pears when you add the bread-like bubbles of real champagne and some lemon juice.

  • 3/4 oz. pear brandy (Catoctin Creak used)
  • 3/4 oz. Laird's Applejack 86
  • 3/4 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 oz. simple syrup
  • dry champagne
  • 1 anju pear slice garnish

Combine liquid ingredients except champagne with ice in a shaker. Shake and strain into a chilled champagne flute and top with champagne (take care to add it slowly because it reacts to the lemon juice and can bubble over easily.) Garnish with the anju pear slice.

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Bahama Whammy (Original Recipe)

I'm riffing on the Bahama Mamma, that rum drink with all the tropical fruit and a few rums to boot. This time I'm leaving rum out and going with fruity whiskies. MurLarkey orange and banana whiskies are not fake flavors: they are made by soaking dried oranges and bananas in barrels of white whiskey so the flavors are all natural. 

That really helps when you are going for fresh squeezed fruit juice and coconut puree that makes you feel like you are on a beach somewhere where the fruit is growing on nearby trees. The drink is also more authentically fresh without having the fake red color of a Bahama Mamma

I still have a soft spot in my heart for that Jimmy Buffet-style of boat drink cocktail, but this is healthier and local and all organic when it comes to MurLarkey products. They call it "farm to flask" and I'll admit that it still tastes like unicorns and rainbows. 

  • 1 oz. MurLarkey orange whiskey
  • 1 oz. MurLarkey banana whiskey
  • .5 oz. lime juice
  • .5 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 oz. pineapple juice
  • 1 oz. orange juice
  • .5 oz. cream of coconut
  • .5 oz. falernum
  • lemon and lime wheels as garnishes

Combine liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled pilsner. Garnish with the fruit wheels. 


Circe (Original Recipe)


It stands to reason that a Calypso cocktail needs a companion cocktail named Circe. These are the exotic demi-gods of Homer's Odyssey and the only women that delay Odysseus on his journey home from Troy. 

The Calypso cocktail is very Tiki and is loaded with pineapple juice, rum and spiced with falernum and nutmeg. I went in a different direction for Circe--not as sweet and a little challenging. Lime and grapefruit juice keep it tart while MurLarkey three tea whiskey and my homemade allspice dram shift the bitter and spice notes to other tropical islands.

The combination is seductive but a little bit tart, just like Circe. The half-submerged grapefruit twist garnish hints at things lurking beneath the dark sea.

  • 1 oz. white rum (Mt. Defiance used)
  • 1 oz. MurLarkey three tea whiskey
  • .5 oz. allspice dram
  • .5 oz. lime juice
  • 1 oz. grapefruit juice
  • 1 oz. pineapple juice
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters
  • Cherry and grapefruit twist garnishes
 Combine all liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and double strain into a coupe glass and garnish with a grapefruit twist and cherry speared on a cocktail pick.


Bristow Planter's Punch (Original Recipe)


In the Barbados song describing punch proportions it helps to remember that punch is made of "1 of sour, 2 of sweet, 3 of strong and 4 of weak" ingredients. Black tea has always been a large part of the "weak ingredients in Planter's Punch. Now it's a "strong ingredient" with MurLarkey three tea whiskey. This is a rich and strong whiskey steeped in Earl Gray, Darjeeling and English breakfast teas. Now that the tea is strong, the problem then is what are the other ingredient proportions. 

Pineapple juice comes to the rescue. Pineapple juice isn't in the original Planter's Punch, but it is not exactly sour. You can use a lot of it and it won't require balancing with sugar like grapefruit juice will. So I'm breaking the ban on Pineapple Juice for this recipe just this once and I think it works fine. The sweetness of the juice will balance against the bitter tannin of the tea and the tang of lime juice.

I also used a dash of Angostura and MurLarkey cinnamon whiskey just to spice it up a bit. And George Bowman rum was necessary for the fruity rum flavors of a good Jamaican rum. 

  • 1 oz. George Bowman rum
  • 1 1/2 oz. MurLarkey three tea whiskey
  • 1 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • 1 oz. grapefruit juice
  • 1 oz. pineapple juice
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters
  • 1 dash MurLarkey cinnamon whiskey 
  • 1 oz. club soda
  • lemon, lime and hibiscus flower garnishes

Combine all liquid ingredients except for soda in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain over large ice rocks in a large blown red wine glass (stemless is best). Top with soda and stir before adding garnishes.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Island Iced Tea

You've heard of the Long Island Iced Tea, the drink that puts you on your ass mainly because its recipe has grown to include almost everything on the bottom rail of the bar and sour mix (not iced tea, anyway) and a splash of coke. This is the same idea but with fewer ingredients--a nice trick if you are a bartender and trying to save yourself a few touches on bottles. That's not to say there aren't a few touches on rums--its an island drink after all. But there are a few differences that taste more craft than triple sec and rail tequila.

My new secret is MurLarkey three tea whiskey: all the flavor of tea but with an alcoholic punch for your punch. It is made from English breakfast, Darjeeling and Earl Gray teas, and I have to say I love the balance between the three in their latest batch. Not too much tannin, but plenty of malty notes that carry your iced tea cocktail to the next level. 

  • 1 oz. light rum (Mt. Defiance used)
  • 1/2 oz. dark rum (George Bowman used)
  • 2 oz. MurLarkey three tea whiskey
  • 1 tsp. falernum 
  • 1 dash lemon juice
  • 1 dash 151-proof rum
  • 2 oz. water
  • lemon slice and mint sprig

Combine liquid ingredients except dashes of rum and lemon juice in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a highball glass full of fresh ice. Top with water and stir, then add dashes of rum and lemon juice and garnish.

Rum Runner

I feel a bit perplexed that in all these years this is the first Rum Runner I've made for this blog. Still, I've neglected the drink in this post by not using rum. Sure, there is some rum in the falernum I made, but MurLarkey banana whiskey is the core ingredient with its rum-like flavor. And it is fine that I didn't use rum in a Rum Runner. This cocktail is named after Prohibition smugglers, who mainly didn't smuggle rum and were more known for moonshine or Canadian whiskey runs instead. 

The one consistent thing in all Rum Runner recipes is blackbery brandy, which I made using real blackberries in my simple syrup and adding cognac. With falernum and the craft banana whiskey that MurLarkey is known for, this turned into a real hand-crafted drink. I added a hibiscus flower as a garnish to make it especially pretty.

  • 1 1/2 oz. gold rum (2 oz. MurLarkey banana whiskey used)
  • 1/2 oz. blackberry brandy
  • 4 oz. orange juice
  • dash falernum or grenadine (1/2 oz. homemade falernum for the rum flavor)
  • orange slice garnish

Combine all liquid ingredients in a shaker or blender with cracked ice. Shake or blend briefly and pour into an oversized wine goblet. Garnish with the orange slice. 

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Shruff's End

This scotch cocktail is really going for medicinal flavors. There's nothing wrong with it, but it is a little jarring to smell and taste something that has iodine and plastic notes in it like a hospital wing or a box of Band-Aid bandages.

All of the ingredients are designed to magnify the medicinal quality, from the Peychaud's bitters to the Islay scotch--Laphroaig 10 is specified--and even the Benedictine and apple brandy are a calculated ploy to add other properties to the nose and taste that strike one as a medicinal compound from a pharmacy. And let's face it, cocktails were born at pharmacies and were used as curatives for all sorts of things before Prohibition and the FDA. It just takes a little getting used to these flavors. After sitting with them for a while, you start to appreciate what this cocktail is doing with ingredients; and you do start to feel like it is having a healthful effect on you. 

I'm not sure what occasion warrants a dose of Shruff's End, but this is clearly not a drink for all occasions and more of a specific tool for scratching a particularly unusual itch.

  • 1 oz. Laphroaig 10 (Laphroaig Select used(
  • 1 oz. Laird's bonded apple brandy (Applejack 86 used)
  • 1/2 oz. Benedictine
  • 2 dashes Peychaud's bitters

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

Bristow Sling (Original Recipe)


This is what happens when you grab a flavored whiskey and just wing it with things you have on hand. I'm talking about the Sling and how the sling is one of the oldest cocktails around, yet we often overlook it as an easy formula that will please bargoers. 

So this whiskey sling is using naturally-flavored MurLarkey lemon whiskey, which is just dried lemons soaked in the barrel with their Justice white whiskey. The rest of this sling's ingredients are pretty standard, with Cherry Heering, lime juice and soda being the main ones. I changed things up by adding my own Mandarine Napoleon liqueur to add more richness from the cognac spirit and the spices and orange notes that it provides. 

  • 1 1/2 oz. MurLarkey lemon whiskey 
  • 1 oz. pineapple juice
  • 1/2 oz. lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. Cherry Heering
  • 1/2 oz. Mandarine Napoleon (homemade) liqueur
  • club soda
  • luxardo cherry and lime slice garnish
Combine all ingredients except soda and garnishes in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled highball glass full of fresh ice. Top with soda and stir gently. Add garnishes to the top of the glass.

Honshu Punch (Death & Co. Recipe)

Death & Co. keep a rotating Honshu punch for guests all year long. The recipe goes through variations depending on who is bartending, it seems. The settled-on recipe they put in the book involves Yamazaki 12-year-old whiskey. That all made sense back in 2008 when Japanese whiskey was still fabulous but inexpensive. Now it is just fabulous. 

This no-frills presentation is designed to keep your attention on the whiskey, which is a malted barley whiskey from Japan. That malt adds a tropical honey sweetness not unlike rum but with a more oat-like note. For this cocktail, I didn't use the expensive Japanese whiskey, opting for the slightly less expensive Catoctin Creek American Malt whiskey. This is a Virginia whiskey made from a Scottish wee heavy ale, so it has the malted barley component but no peat smoke. That makes it strikingly similar to Yamazaki single malt. 

  • 2 oz. Yamazaki 12-year-old whiskey (Catoctin Creek American Malt whiskey)
  • 3/4 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. cane sugar syrup
  • 2 dashes Fee Brothers whiskey barrel-aged bitters (1 dash Angostura used)
  • 2 dashes Bitter Truth aromatic bitters (Hella aromatic used)
  • 1 oz. club soda

Combine all ingredients except soda in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled snifter full of two large chunks of ice. Top with club soda. 


London Dock Cooler

I might be just an alcoholic, but I'm not a big fan of hot drinks. They cook off a lot of the alcohol and get you feeling flushed, which is the point on cold days. I'm just saying I like feeling refreshed and tipsy from my drinks and hot drinks don't do that. 

That's why I'm all in on this summer version of the London Dock. It has all the same ingredients without the spice float on top. Falernum is the stand-in for cinnamon and nutmeg and the like. And it really works! I like it better than the hot version, even. More like a Sangria than a punch, which is why it works so well for patio sipping.

  • 1 1/2 oz. Jamaican rum (George Bowman's used)
  • 3 oz. Claret or dry red wine (Poppy Cabernet used)
  •  1/2 oz. falernum
  • 1/2 oz. kirschwasser
  • orange twist garnish
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a highball glass full of fresh ice. Twist orange peel over the glass and drop it in. 


Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Doc Daneeka Royale (Death & Co. Recipe)

What is up with the Catch-22 reference in the name? This is the famous fictional doctor who gives name to the insanity catch underpinning the novel. Maybe this is a drink for paranoids, or maybe it is a balm for paranoia. Either way, it was an interesting take on a French 75 with maple syrup used as the sweetener and grapefruit bitters to provide a bitter lifting notes. 

This cocktail is an all-around fruity and bitter drink that is far more complex than the French 75. A squeezed grapefruit peel adds even more citrus bitterness on the nose, and dry sparkling wine (Aria cava) and herbal gin (MurLarkey ImaGination) do not let up on dry and spicy notes. The direction the flavors take on your tongue is up, only up. Sourness and tang give way to a bubbly tingle that isn't solely produced by the sparkling wine. What a fun and dangerous drink!

  • 2 oz. gin (MurLarkey Imagination used)
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz grade B maple syrup
  • 1 dash bittermen's hopped grapefruit bitters (Fee Brothers' grapefruit and celery bitters used)
  • dry champagne (Aria cava used)
  • 1 grapefruit coin

Combine all liquid ingredients except for champagne in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled champagne flute or coupe and top with champagne. Squeeze the grapefruit zest coin over the glass and discard.