Friday, March 26, 2021

Espadin Queen (Death & Co Recipe)


This is a drink very much in my comfort zone. It includes all of my favorite things: mezcal, St-Germain, Ricard or absinthe, and cinnamon. As a bar, Death & Co. makes a lot of batched ingredients like cinnamon syrup and something called Don's Mix. Looking in the glossary, I discovered that Don's mix is really 2 to 1 grapefruit juice and cinnamon syrup. Having something batched for a drink and already in one bottle saves steps, but there are many steps to making Don's mix if you do it like a restaurant. At home, however, it shouldn't be so hard to make one cocktail.

To make cinnamon syrup you cook simple syrup with cinnamon sticks and allow it to cool before straining out the sticks. This takes about a half hour between dissolving the sugar, bringing it to a low boil and cooling it slowly. Then you have to juice grapefruit and bottle the juice and syrup together. That's three steps, but when you aren't making ingredients for mass consumption you can save yourself a step. If you have MurLarkey cinnamon whiskey you can save yourself two. 

Simply put a splash of cinnamon whiskey in the portion of simple syrup you were going to use for the cocktail and you have cinnamon syrup. Now to make Don's Mix, just adjust the amount of grapefruit juice you will need and think of it as one ingredient--the juice itself--and the cinnamon syrup as another separate ingredient.

That is why I will include my modifications to the recipe so that it is easy to follow. I more than nailed this cocktail with my home bar ingredients and it was easy. The cinnamon sticks in the photo are just for show. 

  • Vieux Pontarlier absinthe (Ricard used)
  • 1 1/2 oz. del Maguey Vida mezcal
  • 1/4 oz. St-Germain
  • 1/2 oz. grapefruit juice (1 oz. total grapefruit juice used)
  • 1/2 oz. lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. Donn's mix (1/2 oz. cane sugar syrup with 1 tsp. MurLarkey cinnamon whiskey used)
  • 1 tsp cane sugar syrup (not needed if you made the modifications above)

Rinse a coupe glass with absinthe (Ricard) and dump. Combine the remaining ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and double strain into the glass. 


Southern Exposure (Death & Co. Recipe)


Chili pepper in cocktails is pretty commonplace at speakeasy-style bars. Red pepper puree is not--not really, anyway. I've only encountered it at a hotel or two, and everyone has a different method of getting peppers into the cocktail.

Most will infuse bell pepper, but it has no effect on the color. A roasted red pepper simple is delicious, but too sweet to use as a juice and a coloring agent. So red pepper puree it is. Now the recipe in Death & Co. is designed for bar use. They will have you pureeing several peppers in water and straining out the bits. And because they are a bar, they make just this much and then throw it away after a few days if they can't sell it. But for home use, this is very wasteful; and that is why I taking it apart for you so that a home bartender can make these cocktails to order and not overproduce ingredients. It gets expensive and it can be wasteful. 

The solution of making this drink to order is to have half a red bell pepper diced and ready to go. When you start the drink, muddle a tablespoon of pepper chunks in the lime juice and cane sugar. Then complete the drink as directed while double straining to catch the solids. 

Is it good? It's fantastic. Really. Maybe one of the best bell pepper cocktails around. The pinch of salt, an underutilized ingredient, is perfect and ties everything together--the heat, the spice and the sweetness. 

  • 1 1/2 oz. jalapeno-infused blanco tequila (Sauza blanco used)
  • 1/2 oz. mezcal (Del Maguey Vida used)
  • 1/2 oz. lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. cane sugar syrup
  • 1/2 oz. red bell pepper puree (1 tbsp. diced red bell pepper used)
  • pinch kosher salt
  • Garnish not listed (thin slice of bell pepper pictured)

Muddle diced red bell pepper with cane sugar syrup and lime juice in a shaker tin. Add ice and the remaining ingredients and shake to chill. Double strain into a chilled coupe glass.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Dhalgren (Death & Co. Recipe)


Believe it or not, a port drink can be light an refreshing if done with juice bitters. Even with the richness of ginger syrup, this fun drink feels like a day at the docks, if not the beach. 

Just as I use cinnamon whiskey to flavor my simple syrup, I've trotted out my ginger brandy for this recipe's sweetener. While my ginger infusion is more intense than Domain De Canton, it is just a backbone to this mostly fruity cocktai made with port and tequila.

  • 2 oz. blanco tequila (El Jimador used)
  • 1 oz. tawny port (Porto Morgado ruby used)
  •  1/2 oz. lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. ginger syrup (simple plus 1/2 oz. ginger brandy used)
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters
  • 1 lime wheel garnish

Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a highball glass filled with ice cubes. Garnish with the lime wheel. 

Cinnamon Girl (Death & Co. Recipe)


Cheers to Eric Clapton! Cinnamon and Caribbean spirits are in the driver's seat for this cocktail like none I've tried before. It's rare that a recipe combines rum and tequila in this way, and rarer still that it stands alone from the Tiki universe with more colonial spice than an attempt at tropical escapism. 

Orange flavors are hinted at with the garnish and muddling, but this cocktail is mostly a lime and spirits drink. As the name suggests, cinnamon syrup is a major part of the flavor profile, and it sits well on top of aged rum and tequila with a baking spice-heavy orange bitters like Hella. 

  • 2 orange wedges
  • 2 oz. reposado tequila (El Jimador used)
  • 1/4 oz. Smith and Cross rum (George Bowman used) 
  • 1/2 oz. cinnamon bark syrup (half simple and half MurLarkey cinnamon whiskey used)
  • 1/4 oz. simple syrup
  • 1 dash orange bitters (Hella used)
  • 1 orange crescent garnish

Muddle orange wedges in a shaker and add the remaining ingredients with ice. Shake and strain into a double rocks glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with the orange crescent and serve with a straw.

Alta California (Death & Co. Recipe)


Alta--a Spanish vision of the New World--ceases to exist except in this golden cup. Even after Spanish colonization ended in California, the indigenous control of the territory remained and continued to produce distilled spirits made from the agave plant. Cinnamon and herbs make up the rounded flavor profile of this stirred drink. It is both light and rich, herbaceous and balanced. If you are a fan of Tequila Martinis, you will fall for this one's charms.

  • 2 oz. blanco tequila (El Jimador used)
  • 3/4 oz. Dolin Blanc vermouth
  • 1/2 oz. yellow Chartreuse (Dolin Genepy used)
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon bark syrup (rich simple plus a splash of MurLarkey cinnamon whiskey used)

Stir all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Strain into a coup with no garnish. 


Spicy Paloma


It's about making a recent and very popular tequila drink even more special--I give you the Spicy Paloma. The change is the addition of tequila infused with the heat of jalapeno capsaicin that gives this drink life. While the Paloma took life as a Margarita with grapefruit juice (what is that, actually?) it is this drink in long form that will have your head buzzing with heat and tartness that you associate with craft cocktails of the early 2000. 

And that is simply saying that this cocktail is an imaginative way to take tequila and juice. It is as good with food as it is by itself. But the whole experience speaks of hot weather and long days and the relaxed moments that shorten them considerably. 

  • 2 oz. jalapeno-infused Sauza blanco
  • 1 oz. grapefruit juice
  • 3/4 oz. lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. simple syrup
  • club soda 
  • lime wheel garnish (and jalapeno pictured)

Rim a highball glass with kosher salt. Shake all ingredients except soda and garnishes, then strain into the glass filled with ice cubes. Top with club soda. Garnish with the lime wheel and jalapeno. 

Enemy Lines


So there's the Allies cocktail with kummel and gin, and now there's Enemy Lines. This is a fun way to combine tequila and aquavit in a similar format--rich and strong with no sugar. The way it works is bitters and more bitters and a little lemon zest give this drink body where normally there would be all spirits. 

Furthermore, it is unlikely that the reposado tequila and aquavit combo would work at all, except that both are herbaceous and funky. It is really a testament to the bonding power of bitters--in high quantity--to make this happen. Is it good? Better than you'd think, and possibly one of the best all spirits cocktails involving tequila. 

  • 1 1/2oz. reposado tequila (El Jimador used)
  • 3/4 oz. aquavit (homemade akvavit used)
  •  4 dashes Peychauds bitters
  • 1 dash aromatic bitters (Hella used)
  • lemon twist 

Combine all ingredients except lemon twist in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into an Old Fashioned glass. Twist lemon zest over the drink and discard.

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Gilda Cocktail (Death & Co. Recipe)

Have your Margaritas gotten boring? Do wish you were on a permanent vacation without a salt shaker? This is the drink for you. Cinnamon spices up your tequila cocktail nicely. Ordinarily cinnamon syrup is a long process of cooking and cooling, like they do at Death & Co. I used to do it, too. Now I just use a teaspoon of MurLarkey Cinnamon whiskey in rich simple syrup. The effect is the same, but you get the added benefit of alcohol, which acts as a preservative. 

The tropical nature of this cocktail can't be understated. Pineapple juice tends to do that. There's nothing revolutionary about that. I think that it is this precise combination of cinnamon and pineapple and a tequila drink finding relevancy in New York in the early 2000s that lets you know that what we might find commonplace now was once really edgy. 

  • 2 oz. blanco tequila 
  • 1/2 oz. pineapple juice
  • 1/2 oz. lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. cinnamon syrup (MurLarkey cinnamon whiskey and simple syrup substituted)
  • 1 lime wheel

Combine all ingredients except lime wheel in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the lime wheel. 


La Valentina (Death & Co. Recipe)


If you are looking for a beer and tequila cocktail, look no further. Often beer and spirits cocktails offend either beer drinkers or spirits purists. I have to say that the design of this drink, from crushed ice to raspberries (muddled and garnish) will win over everyone. You don't really notice either the beer or the tequila, which is to say, this drink is on the sweet side and it sneaks up on you.

And that is more than a bartender can ask for in a recipe involving tequila and wheat beer. The two go great together, mostly because wheat beer is a very forgiving mixer with any spirit. The muddled fruit, however, make the cocktail a little 2006. Let's just say that sometimes it is wise to please everyone. And a bar like Death & Co. can tend to turn off low-brow drinkers, even if they don't display any pretension. That's not the case with La Valentina.

  • 3 raspberries
  • 1 1/2 oz. blanco tequila
  • 1 oz. grapefruit juice
  • 3/4 oz. lime juice
  • 3/4 oz. simple syrup
  • pinch kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 oz. Blanche de Bruxelles beer (Einstok wheat used)
  • 3 raspberries for garnish

Muddle raspberries in a shaker and add remaining ingredients except for beer. Short shake with 3 ice cubes to combine and double strain into a Pilsner glass full of crushed ice. Pour on the beer and garnish with 3 raspberries on a cocktail pick.

Trembling Bell (Death & Co. Recipe)


My final St. Patrick's Day cocktail for the year looks a lot like the last one, a little like a cloudy sour. That's due to the honey syrup and chamomile-infused rye. Believe it or not, this is a stirred drink! There is no juice, and it did taste boozy, but overall it was super fruity. 

If I did anything a little unorthodox with this recipe, it was substituting peach flavored bourbon for creme de peche. There's nothing like that in Virginia, but I know that a creme de peche is sweet and will have a candy-like peach presence. Evan Williams peach bourbon has the right flavor (a little too much of it) but it needs the sugar from the honey syrup to balance. I did not change the protestations at all. 

For all the fuss of being Irish, this cocktail is mostly an infused rye drink. Again, I'm opting for the malt characteristics of Virginia Distilling Company's Brewer's Batch for this cocktail instead of any run of the mill blended Irish whiskey. It has the malt requirement to give heft to rye and honey.

  • 1 1/2 oz. chamomile-infused Rittenhouse rye
  • 1 oz. Knappogue Castle 12-Year Irish whiskey (Virginia Distilling Company Brewer's Batch used)
  • 3/4 oz. Cocchi Americano (Dolin Blanc used)
  • 1 tsp. Massenez creme de peche (Evan William's peach whiskey used)
  • 1/2 tsp. honey syrup
  • 1 lemon twist 
Combine all ingredients except twist in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled coupe. Twist lemon zest over the drink and discard. 

Paddy Melt (Death & Co. Recipe)


This is a great drink with a questionable name. You only get away with puns this bad on St. Patrick's Day, for sure. Normally an Irish cocktail requires Irish whiskey, but in this case, malted whiskey is more important to impart that sweet "melt" flavor we are looking for. 

That's why I used Virginia Distilling Company's Brewer's Batch whiskey. This is a smoke-free scotch and American whiskey blend that's aged in Scottish Ale barrels, so it's loaded with malt character and light oak, just like malted Irish whiskey. I usually have Amaro Meletti on hand, but this time I had to fudge it. the 1/2 oz. I needed is comprised of Ambrosia Apertivo with a drop of Liquore Strega for the minty herbal notes of Meletti. Finally, I infused Rittenhouse rye with chamomile tea to get the apple notes the cocktail is designed to have. 

  • 1 1/2 oz. Knappaugue Castle-12 Year Irish whiskey (Virginia Distilling Company Brewer's Batch used)
  • 1/2 oz. chamomile-infused rye
  • 1/2 oz. Amaro Meletti (Don Ciccio and Figili Ambrosia plus 1 dash Strega used)
  • 3/4 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. cane sugar syrup

Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a fancy fizz glass. 

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Fresca Brava (Death & Co. Recipe)


This is a fun drink to make for tequila lovers looking to try something spicy for a change. There's plenty of heat here with two ounces of jalapeno-infused tequila. But the subtleties of the drink, the alpine spirit and strawberry, make a sublime spring cocktail that taste fresh and surprising, just as the name suggests. 

To make jalapeno-infused tequila, use a blanco so as to not add color. Cut up two jalapenos (the more diced the faster the flavor will infuse) and put them in a jar with the tequila for at least a day. 

One change I made to this recipe out of necessity was that I used Dolin Genepy instead of Yellow Chartreuse. I feel this was a fair move, since it isn't the color or intensity of Chartreuse that is important to this cocktail. It is better to leave the red hue of the strawberry intact, after all. But those alpine herbs and fruits need to be there to suggest cool climes and fresh air. Genepy does this in spades.

  • 1 strawberry
  • 2 oz. jalapeno-infused blanco tequila (jalapeno-infused Sauza 100% blue agave blanco used)
  • 3/4 oz. Yellow Chartreuse
  • 3/4 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. simple syrup

Muddle strawberry in a shaker and add the remaining ingredients with ice. Shake and double strain into a coupe glass. 

Saramago (Death & Co. Recipe)


Sometimes a cocktail is designed to invite the senses and is so well-balanced that it seduces you completely. That is what happens with this drink, a variation on the Tequila Martini. 

My issue with the Tequila Martini is that it is often too dry, too forceful to have as your first cocktail. Saramago gets you over that hump with St. Germain to sweeten and add floral essences. Dolin blanc and tequila makes for a rounder Martini than the extra dry vermouth. It gives more of a grape flavor that plays well with the herbal notes of tequila. Finally, there's just a hint of smoke from the mezcal rinse that signals the deeper pleasures to come.

  • Del Maguey Vida Mezcal rinse
  • 2 oz blanco tequila (Sauza 100% blue agave blanco used)
  • 3/4 oz. Dolin blanc
  • 1/2 oz. St-Germain
  • 1 dash orange bitters (Hella used)
  • grapefruit twist

Rinse a coupe with mezcal and dump. Stir the remaining ingredients on ice and strain into the coupe. Twist a grapefruit zest over the drink and drop it in. 

Dos Besitos (Death & Co. Recipe)


Sometimes tequila--and tequila recipes from speakeasy bars--are a little inaccessible for the average cocktail drinker. The trend seems to be to load up on flavors or to combine things in new and sometimes off-putting ways to get us to think differently about recipes and to appreciate new experiences.

This drink is designed to please the crowd. It tastes like a vacation, and as such brings few challenges to the bartender or drinker. And you need cocktials like this on menus. You don't want anyone feeling left out, and they won't. Not with "besitos" (little kisses) in your glass. 

  • 1 oz. reposado tequila (El Jimador reposado used)
  • 1 oz. blanco tequila (Sauza 100% blue agave blanco used)
    3/4 oz. lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. pineapple juice
  • 1/4 oz. agave syrup (Madhava used)
  • 1 tsp grenadine

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

Cinder (Death & Co. Recipe)


I'm having fun mixing with tequila and mezcal from the Death & Co. cocktail book, as you can see from the surrounding posts. This example was probably one of the funnest to make and drink (whereas some Death & Co. drinks are more or less fun to make, let's be honest. They don't make things easy on bartenders). 

The idea behind this drink is to overwhelm the senses with spice and smoke. Normally jalapeno-infused tequila and smoky mezcal would be enough to do this, but adding the smoked salt really takes it to another level. The result is a Margarita variation that you won't forget, and you will probably crave for days after. 

  • 3/4 oz. reposado tequila (El Jimador reposado used)
  • 3/4 oz. jalapeno-infused blanco tequila (jalapeno infused Sauza blanco used)
  • 1/2 oz. Del Maguey Vida mezcal
  • 3/4 oz. lime juice
  • 3/4 oz. simple syrup
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • smoked salt for rim

Rim a coupe glass with smoked salt by wetting it with lime juice and dragging it through the salt in a shallow dish. Shake the remaining ingredients on ice and double strain into the coupe. 

AKA Cobbler (Death & Co. Recipe)


This is a beautiful cocktail, as Cobblers often are. Looking at the ingredients this is as much a sherry cobbler with a spicy tequila shot thrown in. It uses the juice and acidity of the strawberry to give the right balance to the other sweet and spicy ingredients. My limited success this time around (it was hard to appreciate) is probably due to the fact that strawberry season hasn't hit its stride yet. Riper berries will undoubtedly make for a better taste.

But a Cobbler is usually a winter cocktail, containing lots of ingredients designed to satisfy a sweet tooth and warm you up despite that it is served on ice. So we have Lustau East India Solera Sherry and maraschino liqueur giving liquored fruit notes, some muddled lemon twists for zestiness, and blanco tequila, a portion of which is infused with jalapeno heat. 

I'm still trying to place where this cocktail best fits in. Maybe at Death & Co. on a cold day. It's not poolside sipping or a beach drink, though. 

  • 1 tsp simple syrup
  • 1 tsp Luxardo maraschino liqueur
  • 2 lemon twists
  • 1 strawberry
  • 1 white sugar cube
  • 1 1/2 oz. blanco tequila (Sauza 100% blue agave used)
  •  1/2 oz. jalapeno-infused blanco tequila (Sauza blanco infused with jalapenos used)
  • 1/2 oz. Lustau East India Solera Sherry
  • 1/2 strawberry garnish

Muddle the simple syrup, maraschino liqueur, lemon twists, strawberry and sugar cube in a shaker tin. Add tequilas and sherry and whip (shake with a few pieces of crushed ice, just until the ingredients are incorporated. Dump into a double rocks glass and top with crushed ice. Garnish with the half strawberry. 

El Companero (Death & Co. Recipe)


Beer cocktails, no matter how they are made, always come across as a little strange. This one is no exception, however; it's very specific ingredients and proportions make this one more of a curiosity than a success. 

It's not surprising that Death & Co. served a beer cocktail based on the classic Canadian Dog's Nose, or a somewhat skewed Chelada. What is surprising is they did it back in 2008! Very few people were putting these ingredients together back then, though most bars had them on hand. And this is no ordinary Bloody Beer redux: the Modelo Negra is clearly signaling a darker color and slightly roasted tasting dry beer; Reposado tequila will add more oak notes with its alcoholic kick, Tabasco chipotle will bring the heat and smoke and lime juice and agave syrup balance the whole thing. 

Does it work? Yes. And for fans of the Cheleda or other beer and savory spirits cocktail drinkers out there, this might be a breakthrough. The cilantro garnish really polishes it off. Celery just wouldn't do, and it is so important to the scent and visual experience that I wouldn't make this drink without it.

  • 3/4 oz. reposado tequila (El Jimador reposado tequila used)
  • 3/4 oz. jalapeno-infused blanco tequila (jalapeno-infused Sauza blanco used)
  • 1 tsp. agave nectar
  • 1 dash Tabasco chipotle sauce
  • pinch kosher salt
  • 1 cilantro sprig
  • Negra Modelo beer
  • 1 cilantro sprig garnish

 Shake all ingredients except beer and garnish with 3 ice cubes, then strain into a highball glass filled with ice cubes. Top with Negra Modelo and garnish with the cilantro sprig.

Yama Blanca (Death & Co. Recipe)


Tequila and Dolin blanc go great together. The sweet, white vermouth spaces out the spiciness of the tequila and adds softer wine notes. A little heat from jalapenos and equatorial spices from falernum make for a very complete, full-bodied cocktail that will please rum and tequila lovers alike.

  • 1 1/2 oz. reposado tequila (El Jimador reposado used)
  • 1/2 oz. jalapeno-infused blanco tequila (jalapeno-infused Sauza blanco used)
  • 3/4 oz. Dolin blanc
  • 1/4 oz. falernum. 

Stir all ingredients over ice and strain them into a coupe. 

Monday, March 8, 2021

Hot Lips (Death & Co. Recipe)


This is perhaps my new favorite mezcal drink. It is so well-balanced: spicy, sweet, salty, tangy. Most unusual of all, it is stirred. Apparently a citrus juice cocktail can be stirred when it is rich enough; pineapple juice and vanilla syrup seem to add a kind of thickness that allows for this unorthodox preparation. You can even see by the color of the liquid above that there isn't the kind of cloudy separation that you'd expect from a drink with juice in it. 

  • 3/4 oz. jalapeno-infused blanco tequila (Sauza blanco used)
  • 3/4 oz. mezcal (Del Maguey Mezcal Vida used)
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. pineapple juice
  • 1/2 oz. vanilla syrup
  • 1 tsp cane sugar syrup
  • kosher salt

Rim a fancy Fizz glass half way by wetting the rim with lime juice and dipping it in a dish of kosher salt. Stir remaining ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and double strain into the glass with a large format ice inside. 

Dale Cooper (Death & Co. Recipe)


This is the first of the Death & Co. stirred tequila cocktails I decided to dabble with this weekend. On the dessert side, this cocktail by bartender Jessica Gonzalez is a tribute to the Twin Peaks character of the same name. 

There's a lot going on here, from the cinnamon syrup and coffee infused sweet vermouth. The cocktail ties together the chocolate, cinnamon and coffee flavors associated with ancient and modern day Mexico. It is strong and on the large side--the recipe calls for a large Martini glass because a coup just won't handle it. 

I made a few modifications, as I always do, to save time and make up for ingredients I don't have on hand. The first is replacing the Green Chartreuse with Dolin Genepy, which is a fine move when considering how many powerful ingredients are contending for your attention in this drink. The other thing I did was instantly flavor my simple syrup with MurLarkey Cinnamon whiskey. I just added 1 tsp. cinnamon whiskey to my portion of simple I was using for this drink. I also flavored my portion of sweet vermouth with a tsp. of MurLarkey coffee whiskey. My thinking is that MurLarkey has already made these infusions so I don't have to, which is kind of the beauty of these whiskey flavors.

The result is a rich cocktail that combines your dessert Manhattan with cinnamon, coffee and chocolate flavors for a very round and satisfying nightcap.

  • 2 oz. reposado tequila (El Jimador used)
  • 1/2 oz. coffee-infused sweet vermouth (Cocchi di Torino with MurLarkey coffee used)
  • 1/2 oz. Green Chartreuse (Dolin Genepy used)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon bark syrup (simple syrup and 1 tsp. MurLarkey cinnamon used)
  • 1 dash Aztec chocolate bitters 
 Stir all ingredients over ice, then strain into a Martini glass. 


Monday, March 1, 2021

Monet's Moment (Difford's Guide Recipe)

This cocktail was created by Eric Lorincz at the Savoy Hotel in London. But it is quintessentially French--from cognac to absinthe to Byrrh grand quinquina and Peychaud's bitters. It is like something straight out of New Orleans at the beginning of the 20th century! 

I'm always impressed with French spirits: how flavorful and yet refreshing they are. This cocktail comes across as light and aromatic. You almost get the feeling that it is good for your health. And after doing so many cognac cocktails in coupes, the change of format to large ice really means a more social experience. The flavor doesn't weigh you down. Instead, you get herbal high notes right under your nose and the complexity of cognac that is chilled, not warm, doesn't pull you away from the dazzle of Byrrh bitterness and grape notes. 

  • 1 1/2 oz. cognac (Martell single distillery used)
  • 1 oz. Byrrh grand quinquina
  • 1/6 oz. absinthe (Ricard used)
  • 1/4 oz. sugar syrup
  • 1 dash Peychaud's bitters
 Stir all ingredients and strain into a large glass with a large format ice cube. 

Port Authority (Death & Co. Recipe)


This cocktail needed to be made. The name, the ingredients, even the look all should have happened a hundred years ago. Luckily Death & Co. made this amazingly rich blackberry and port cocktail come true. I love it. I love the chocolatey port accentuated by chocolate bitters. I love how creme de cassis reinforces blackberry and cognac with a Dijon black currant spirit. And of course the fresh ingredients--these are all hallmarks of cocktail revival that Death & Co. ushered in.

Presentation is everything, and the beautiful chocolate grape color and blackberry garnish only add to the experience. Not one ingredient distracts from this purpose. I have to say that even though this is still essentially a Sour or Daisy variation, you wouldn't know it because you can't remove any ingredient and have it be as good. 

  • 4 blackberries
  • 2 oz. cognac (Martell single distillery used)
  • 3/4 oz. tawny port (Porto Morgado ruby used)
  • 1/2 creme de cassis (G.E. Massenez used)
  • 1/2 oz. lemon bitters
  • 2 dashes Aztec chocolate bitters
  • 1 blackberry garnish

Muddle blackberries in a shaker. Add the rest of the ingredients and shake with ice. Double strain into a chilled coupe glass and garnish with the remaining blackberry. 

Black Magic (Death & Co. Recipe)


A Stinger is a beautiful thing. Usually served on ice and a simple pairing of cognac and creme de menthe, Stingers are surprisingly satisfying and balanced. This cocktail is Death & Co.'s attempt to add depth and quality to what often is thought of as a low-brow cocktail or a waste of good cognac. 

Quality comes from from Marie Brizard white creme de cacaco (which I've never tried, but I'm sure my mass-produced creme de menthe doesn't match up. Depth comes from the Fernet-Branca, which is earthy and mentholated. In small proportions, Fernet adds a dark chocolate note rather than overwhelming the drinker with bitterness. An absinthe rinse often is lost in a coupe glass, but this recipe is necessarily short so that the sides remain coated. Absinthe in this situation complements the cognac and gives an herbal high note to counter Fernet's bitter low notes.

That is the philosophy of this drink. You will find that Stinger fans will love it, and Fernet drinkers will enjoy it before asking for a Fernet-Branca chaser. 

  • Vieux Pontarlier Absinthe (Ricard used)
  • 1 oz. cognac (Martell single distillery used)
  • 1 oz. Angostura 5-year rum (Rhum Barbancourt 5-year rum used)
  • 1/2 oz. white creme de cacao 
  • 1 tsp. Fernet-Branca
  • 1 tsp. simple syrup

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

Legend (Death & Co. Recipe)


Going through the Death & Co. stirred brandy cocktail chapter section, I realized they have many drinks that follow this same format: brandy and rum, and bitter aperitifs and sweet fortified wines, served in a coupe with no garnish. 

And this is truly one of the best of them. I love this one because it is light and balanced, yet contains some really deep flavors. No wonder it's called Legend. In something like this, small differences can mean noticeable changes, so Legend may be one to try again with different rums, amari, or bitters. I went with aromatic bitters by Hella (not Bitter Truth) and Angostura. And I don't have Appleton estate rum or Amontillado, but I do have Caribbean rum and solera reserve from Lustau. Finally, I have a local amaro by Don Ciccio and Figili that has to stand in for Amaro Nonino. It doesn't quite cut it, so I used a splash of my Amer Picon to give it the bitter orange peel notes of Nonino.

  • 2 oz. cognac (Martell single distillery used)
  • 1/2 oz. Appleton Estate V/X rum (George Bowman used)
  • 3/4 oz. Lustau Amontillado (Lustau East India Solera sherry used)
  • 1/2 oz. Amaro Nonino (blend of Ambrosia and Amer Picon used)
  • 1 dash Bitter Truth aromatic bitters (Hella used)
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters

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

Martica (Death & Co. Recipe)


This is one of those no garnish needed, all-booze drinks that Death & Co. does to show off their most intensely flavored liquors. This one takes the richness of Jamaican rum and the dry but deep taste of cognac and balances them with sharp maraschino and exotic bitters. 

These kinds of cocktails were part of the revival movement in the early 2000. Once upon a time, we were just discovering how to actually use bitters to tie flavors together, and we learned that Luxardo maraschino is indespensable. It's the duct tape of cocktails. This drink is so straight forward--and good, definitely good--that it doesn't need water or juice and can still be satisfyingly complex.

  • 1 oz. cognac (Martell single distillery used)
  • 1 oz. Appleton V/X rum (George Bowman used)
  • 3/4 bitter Italian sweet vermouth (Cocchi di Torino used)
  • 1/4 oz. Luxardo maraschino liqueur
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters

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

Sloe Scibyville Sling (Death & CO. Recipe)

Not too many drinks are made with sloe gin. It is kind of an old world thing and the sweetness is really only appreciated in winter. I'm sure that the Plymouth sloe gin is much better than this Mr. Boston variety, but it is what I can afford. 

Still, not a bad drink, with the berry liqueur that makes a Sling a Sling coming in the form of sloe gin. There's also an apple note from applejack. Scobeyville is in New Jersey, home state of the Laird's apple brandy distillery.

  • 2 oz. Laird's apple brandy (Applejack 86 used)
  • 1 oz. Plymouth sloe gin (Mr. Boston used)
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 3/4 oz. simple syrup
  • 2 dashes Peychaud's bitters
  • club soda
  • fuji apple slice as garnish

Shake all ingredients except soda and garnish and strain into a highball glass full of ice. Top with soda and stir gently. Garnish with the apple slice.

Lillywhacker (Death & Co. Recipe)


Is it possible I've exhausted all of Death & Co. apple brandy cocktails? Not quite. This silly sounding cocktail calls for Laird's and a bitter vermouth in what amounts to an Apple Brandy Manhattan with chocolate, cinnamon and orange notes. Not bad, considering how much Laird's Applejack 86 tastes like real baked apples. Now we have the makings of an apple pie in one drink. 

  • 2 oz. Laird's apple brandy (Applejack 86 used)
  • 3/4 oz. Carpano Antica (Cocchi di Torino used)
  • 1/2 oz. Cointreau (triple sec used)
  • 1 dash Bittermen's Xocolatl Mole bitters (Fee Brosthers Atec Chocolate biters used)

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

East India Trading Co. (Death & Co. Reciep)


Death & Co., like any bar, has to limit its ingredients to a set of standards that can be re-assembled in different configurations. This one is more variations on a theme involving dark spirits in a coupe glass that taste of exotic rum, chocolate and cinnamon. Here, I put a few of my own liquors to use to pull off this cocktail.

My Amer Picon (hiding behind the Aztec Chocolate Bitters) is made with Ramazzotti, so I used it as an obvious substitute. George Bowman's rum tastes like Jamaican rum, and it is a blend that might include some from Jamaica. Finally, the chocolate bitters are intended to have the cinnamon notes of Mexican chocolate, so Fee Bros. Aztec chocolate works just as well as Death & Co.'s Bittermen's Xocolatl mole.

  • 2 oz. Appleton Estate Reserve rum (George Bowman's used)
  • 3/4 oz. Lustau East India Solera Sherry)
  • 1/2 oz Ramazzotti (homemade Amer Picon with Ramazzotti used)
  • 2 dashes Aztec chocolate bitters

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

Night Owl (Death & Co. Recipe)


More Death & Co. recipes involving sherry are coming your way. This one is actually pretty simple for the speakeasy bar's repertoire. Lustau East India solera sherry is probably the big star in this cocktail with its woody and raisin notes. The one funky ingredient is Batavia Arrack, which I used to have but stopped buying because MurLarkey Justice white whiskey is a fair substitute. I use it when making Arrack punsch and Swedish punsch, because it has a distilled corn taste similar to Arrack's distilled rice flavor. 

Anyway, the funk of sherry and Arrack (or Justice) negates the need for bitters in this cocktail. It is middling sweet, but cognac keeps it from being cloying. I'm glad I tried this before dinner, because there's no reason it has to be had late at night.

  • 2 oz. cognac (Martell single distillery used)
  • 1/2 oz. Punt E Mes (Cocchi di Torino used)
  • 1/2 oz. Lustau East India Solera Sherry
  • 1/4 oz. Van Oosten Batavia Arrack (MurLarkey Justice white whiskey used)

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

Castle of Cordoba (Death & Co. Recipe)


It is beautiful. It is fortified. It is very classic. This cocktail is very much like as Spanish castle. The ingredients aren't especially Spanish, but that hardly matters. There's sherry, a lot of it, and that is good enough.

A couple of things needed to happen for me to knock out this recipe. I have only solera reserve sherry, which was much too dark to used in place of pale cream sherry in such a high dose. I cut it down by half with Manzanilla fino sherry so that it took on a pale color and remained sweet but a little lighter and mustier. I felt it was a great compromise. 

The fortifying ingredient, calvados, was also substituted for by Laird's Applejack 86. I feel that the juiciness of Laird's isn't exactly the flavor of French apple brandy, but the addition of cognac per the recipe adjusts for that anyway. And Martell's single distillery is especially dry and wild tasting--lots of terroir in it like a grappa because it isn't blended with other distilleries like most cognacs. 

This cocktail is decidedly rich, with lots of sweetness from the sherry, but complex. Apples are more than hinted at, and even my modification of Manzanilla sherry did a lot to suggest sour apple notes. This was a winner of a dessert drink.

  • 3/4 oz. calvados (Laird's Applejack 86)
  • 1/2 oz. cognac (Martell single distillery used)
  • 2 oz. pale cream sherry (1 oz. Orleans Manzinilla Fina and 1 oz. Lustau East India Solera Reserve used)
  • 2 dashes Peychaud's bitters
  • 1 apple slice garnish

Combine all liquid ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with the apple slice. 

Heart-Shaped Box (Death & Co. Recipe)


This is a recipe that showcases what Death & Co. does really well: making use of unusual ingredients like balsamic vinegar to balance fresh ingredients like strawberries and citrus. I loved the way this cocktail upends the Strawberry Daiquiri with flavors more akin to strawberry vinaigrette. 

Otherwise, the cocktail is pretty straightforward. Strawberries are muddled in the shaker tin. Crushed ice is in the glass. The recipe calls for cinnamon bark syrup, which I've done a lot in a work situation, but I don't bother to make for single servings at home. I use MurLarkey cinnamon whiskey and plain simple syrup for this. A 1-1 ratio of rich simple and cinnamon whiskey will usually do the trick for single servings. (Obviously if you wanted to make a lot of cinnamon simple with MurLarkey, I would use one oz. cinnamon whiskey per cup of simple syrup.)

  • 2 oz. cognac (Martell single distillery used)
  • 3/4 oz. St. Germain (homemade used)
  • 3/4 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon bark syrup (simple syrup and MurLarkey cinnamon whiskey used)
  • 1/2 tsp. aged balsamic vinegar 
  • 1 strawberry for muddling 
  • 1/2 strawberry as garnish

Muddle one strawberry in the shaker tin and add all liquid ingredients and ice. Shake and strain into a double old fashioned glass full of crushed ice. Place the strawberry on top of the ice in a tribute to Nirvana.

Hoi Polloi (Death & Co. Recipe)


This simple tiki is a little unusual for Death & Co. Not that they don't use pineapple juice in shaken brandy cocktails. It's just a drink that doesn't challenge drinkers very much, which is probably why it is called Hoi Polloi, or "to the common people," in Greek. 

There's nothing to dislike in this cocktail, and in fact it checks all the boxes for a cocktail that doesn't offend. The one unusual ingredient is currant-infused rye. I didn't have dried currant, like the recipe book says, but I have a liqueur made from red currants. Mixing it with a little rye was the perfect save, but in such small amounts, I think it only served to give the drink a whiff of spiciness and rye.

  • 1 oz. cognac (Meukow used)
  • 1/2 oz. dried currant-infused rye (Rittenhouse and red currant liqueur used)
  • 1 oz. pineapple juice
  • 3/4 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. simple syrup
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters
  • pineapple wedge garnish

Combine all ingredients except garnish in a shaker with three ice cubes. Short shake and strain into a Pilsner glass full of crushed ice. Garnish with the pineapple wedge.