Monday, May 10, 2021

Mexi-Gin Martini (Death & Co. Recipe)


With all the parts of this cocktail that are not Martini ingredients, this Mexican-themed Martini is very much what it says. Yes, it is basically a Martini with ingredients added, but it is so much more than that. 

Mezcal, celery bitters and alpine spirit really lift the standard Gin Martini to new and more festive heights. The flavor of the Mexi-Gin Martini is very Mexican, similar to tequila Martinis I've had at nicer Mexican restaurants in D.C. It's super herbal with a little burn of jalapeno-infused blanco tequila. Mezcal itself adds to herbal and fruity flavors, and it helps to have a heavily botanical gin like ImaGination from MurLarkey to carry off the gin portion of the cocktail.  

Finally celery bitters is the lifting effect that bridges the connection between dry Martini and fruity tasting spirits. Celery adds earthiness as well as additional herbal boost to hold together juniper from the gin and smokey mezcal by Del Maguey. 

  • 2 oz. dry gin (MurLarkey ImaGination used)
  • 1/2 oz. Dolin dry vermouth
  • 1/4 oz. Del Maguey Crema de Mezcal
  • 1/4 oz. jalapeno-infused blanco tequila
  • 1/4 oz. Green Chartreuse (Dolin Genepy used)
  • 1 dash celery bitters

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

Camp Council (Death & Co. Recipe)


This is a strange concept for a tequila cocktail. When I think of summer camp, I'm thinking of a rye cocktail with maybe some pine smoke and apple juice. But the concept of the Camp Council is sound. This is a woody reposado tequila with herbal flavors that imitate pine needle scent. 

Death & Co. specifies Zirbenz Stone Pine liqueur for its cultivation and distillation of stone pine fruits that give the liquor a spicy pine flavor. I, on the other hand, have juniper berries--the other pine fruit. To make a quick pine liqueur, I used MurLarkey gin and fresh juniper berries. I didn't have time to infuse the berries and I'm not sure that was the flavor I was going for. Gin already has infused juniper. I wanted crushed juniper, so I muddled the berries into the gin and built the drink in the shaker around that.

The result achieved a noticeable pine note in the final drink. Dolin Genepy was also a way to get alpine herbs into the drink (similar to the listed Yellow Chartreuse.) Overall, this was a different way to enjoy tequila. I'm not convinced that it is a summer camp drink that I envision, but it is still good, especially on a hot day.

  • 1 1/2 oz. reposado tequila
  • 1/2 oz. Zirbenz stone pine liqueur (5 juniper berries muddled into gin)
  • 1/2 oz. Yellow Chartreuse (Dolin Genepy used)
  • 1/2 oz. pineapple juice
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 mint sprig garnish

If using my juniper berry substitution muddle 5 juniper berries in 1/2 oz. of gin in a shaker. Add ice and the remaining ingredients. Shake and double strain into a pilsner glass full of crushed ice and garnish with a mint sprig.

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Deadpan Fix (Death & Co. Recipe)


I'm used to a Fix being in a rocks glass, but anything goes in cocktail naming, and I'm not sure there is anything fixed about the meaning of the word Fix. 

This is a fun way to get the whiskey to go down, which is the real point of a Fix--make it as easy to drink as possible and it will fix you up. Some fun ingredients in this, including Campari and ginger syrup. The Grand Marnier adds sweetness and citrus in a cocktail that already has a lot of both. My substitution is homemade Mandarine Napoleon. This just adds more mandarin orange and spice notes that Grand Marnier doesn't have. 

  • 1 1/2 oz. Catoctin Creek 92-proof rye
  • 1/4 oz. Campari
  • 1/4 oz. Grand Marnier (homemade Mandarine Napoleon used)
  • 3/4 oz. grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/4 oz. ginger syrup (homemade ginger brandy and simple syrup used)
  • 1 orange twist garnish
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled coupe glass and garnish with the orange twist. 

Double Fill-Up (Death & Co. Recipe)

Pomegranate molasses is a store-bought ingredients that I don't have in my neighborhood. I don't really understand what makes it molasses, anyway. I imitate the flavor (I imagine) is in the ingredient listed in the Death & Co. recipe by using a little blackstrap molasses in pomegranate syrup. The rest of this cocktail is very much in keeping with the Rose family of drinks with a good helping of mint muddled into it to give it freshness and spicy rye for that high-test punch.

  • 2 oz. Catoctin Creek 92-proof rye 
  • 3/4 oz. lemon juice
  • 3/4 oz. simple syrup
  • 1 tsp. pomegranate molasses (half pomegranate syrup and blackstrap)
  • 3 mint leaves
  • 1 mint leaf garnish

Shake all ingredients with ice and double strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with the mint sprig. 


Monongahela Mule (Death & Co. Recipe)

What a beauriful name for a Mule cocktail made with rye (especially Catoctin Creek). It refers to the Monongahela national forest in the Allegheny Mountains. This mule gets its red color from muddled raspberries and its ginger flavor from ginger syrup (ginger liqueur in my modification.) Mint--which is a great addition to any Mule drink--really stands out as a gamechanger here. 

  • 4 raspberries
  • 6 mint leaves
  • 2 oz. rye (Catoctin Creek 92-proof used)
  • 3/4 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. ginger syrup (simple syrup with ginger liqueur used)
  • 1 mint sprig garnish

Muddle mint leaves and raspberries in the shaker tin before adding the remaining ingredients and ice. Shake and double strain into a highball glass full of fresh ice and garnish with a mint sprig.


Blown Rose (Death & Co. Recipe)


The coaster in this picture says it all. Death & Co. has some of the most innovative cocktails back when nobody knew how to make a Manhattan. This one is especially fun to make as well as to drink. For starters, I've never muddled apple slices before. This is easier than it looks. Also, chamomile rye is the perfect pairing for apple and cinnamon flavors. The pineapple and lime juice sound tropical, but they just lend sweet acids and balance to the spirits giving the overall effect of having apple pie in a glass. 

Just looking at the name of this drink, you'd assume it has a natural relationship to the Jack Rose or any Rose cocktail that usually involves a spirit, lime juice and grenadine. But there is so much more going on here. A few of my modifications happened naturally based on what I have available and my personal preferences for stocking my kitchen. 

The chamomile tea is Republic of Tea's Chamomile Lemon, which has no lemon in it but it does have lemon balm in it. This is an herbal flavor that doesn't step on but adds to the complexity of other flavors. The cinnamon syrup is a mix of my cane sugar syrup and MurLarkey cinnamon whiskey--the best shortcut for syrup making I've ever come up with. (MurLarkey infuses cinnamon into their spirit so you don't have to.)

It is important to use Fuji apples, as a Granny Smith or Golden Delicious just won't taste the same. Cut the slices thin so that they are easy to muddle. The rest takes care of itself.

  • 3 Fuji apple slices
  • 2 oz. chamomile-infused rye (Rittenhouse used)
  • 1/2 oz. pineapple juice
  • 1/2 oz. lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. cinnamon bark syrup (simple syrup and MurLarkey cinnamon whiskey used)
  • 1 lime wheel garnish

Muddle apple slices in the shaker before adding the remaining ingredients with ice. Shake and double strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with a lime wheel.  

Waterloo Sunset (Death & Co. Recipe)

One of the most fabulous spirits and juice cocktails in a rocks glass ever! That's high praise, and well worth the effort when you make this cocktail. I love how vegetel, citrusy and herbaceous this drink is. The flavor goes from fresh mint and lime juice to a spicy gin and watermelon center and finishing with a numbing peppery taste backed up by more mint. It was a very cool (and hot) experience. 

There's a lot of steps to this drink. There's the infusion of Szchuan peppercorns in gin. Then juicing, then muddling and making the syrups. And it is a cocktail involving two gins. I used my Szchuan pepprcorn-infused MurLarkey ImaGination gin as the first ingredient and my homemade dry gin as the second spirit (which keeps the peppercorns from being too spicy.) I also juiced the watermelon rather than pay for a large jug of watermelon juice this time. (I know you can freeze it, but I don't need that much watermelon juice when a few pieces of fruit will do.)

Once you have all that ready, we can proceed with the recipe.

  • 7 mint leaves
  • 1/2 oz. cane sugar syrup
  • 1 oz. Szechuan peppercorn-infused gin (MurLarkey used)
  • 1 oz. dry gin (homemade with asparagus botanical used)
  • 1/2 oz. Dolin blanc vermouth
  • 1 1/2 oz. watermelon juice
  • 3/4 oz. lime juice
  • mint sprig garnish

Muddle mint leaves in the syrup in the shaker before adding ice and the remaining ingredients. Shake and double strain into a double Old Fashioned glass over a large piece of ice. Garnish with the mint sprig. 


Sergio Leone (Death & Co. Recipe)

This cocktail is named after the Spaghetti Western filmmaker and is, of course, a tequila and Italian vermouth cocktail. Blood orange liqueur, another Italian ingredient is also part of giving this stirred cocktail a juicy flavor. I can't get Solerno blood orange liqueur, so I made it as close as possible to something on the market. Here's how.

First I juiced blood oranges and made a syrup, setting aside some of the juice to add to the infusion of blood orange and 100-proof vodka. After the syrup cooled, I added an oz. of cognac to preserve it and provide that grape and oak spirit whiff that is often central to orange liqueurs. While this was cooking, I put the peels of the blood oranges in 100-proof vodka to make a bitter tincture. After a week, I combined all three of these batches and fine strained them before bottling them. This is as close to a mass marketed blood orange liqueur as I think you will find and I'm proud of how it tastes. 

The rest of the cocktail is surprisingly simple and very tasty. It's like a fruity tequila Manhattan with cinnamon and chocolate notes from the chocolate bitters. 

  • 2 oz. reposado tequila
  • 3/4 oz. Cocchi Dopo Teatro vermouth
  • 1/4 oz. blood orange liqueur
  • 1 dash Aztec chocolate bitters

Stir all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Strain into a chilled coupe glass. 


Buffalo Soldier (Death & Co. Recipe)


Yep. That's my label on the bottle of pecan-infused bourbon (not honey-infused this time). I had fun with this Death & Co. recipe that only uses three ingredients: bourbon, pecans and demerara sugar syrup. Doing the infusion is easy. Just soak a cup of pecans in a cup of bourbon for more than a week and it is ready to strain through cheesecloth and use in the drink. 

I used Ancient Age bourbon because it is made at the Buffalo Trace distillery and is where this drink takes its name from. This is very much a cocktail in the dessert spectrum with a ton of vanilla-and-pecan-coated in-rich-sugar sort of experience, not unlike having one of the bourbon and pecan bon-bons they sell at Buffalo Trace. As I drank it down, however, there was increasing bitterness and a dry nutty note from the pecans that I appreciated much more than the sweetness of the sugar. 

Play around with the sugar portion as well as the proportions of pecans to bourbon, to find your favorite Buffalo Soldier. I adjusted the sugar down a little because I don't like my drinks too sweet, but everyone will have their preferred recipe with something this simple. 

  • 2 oz. pecan-infused Buffalo Trace bourbon
  • 1/4 oz. demerara sugar syrup

Stir all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Strain into a double rocks glass over a large single piece of ice. 

Friday, May 7, 2021

Overhead Smash (Death & Co. Recipe)

This is actually a Smash cocktail, much like those made with fruit and base spirits back in the early days of cocktails. The difference is that this Smash (a name that denotes its method of preparation) is very much of the Tiki era of cocktails with cucumber, ginger and Angostura bitters. It is a riff on the Suffering Bastard of nearly identical ingredients. The difference here, however, is the addition of strawberry and the fact that that the Bastard's ginger beer preparation is now replaced with ginger syrup--effectively making it a ginger soda cocktail. 

One other notable change in this Overhead Smash from its forebears is that it has a potent aromatized wines, quina vermouth and Bonal, giving the entire cocktail a bitter base that goes well with the vegetable notes of cucumber smashed into the mix. 

The drinking experience is still the same as the Suffering Bastard, but knowing that is prepared as a Smash and has Bonal Gentaine-Quina just helps you appreciate the craft of it.

  •  1/2 strawberry
  • 2 cucumber wheels
  • 1 1/2 oz. dry gin (MurLarkey ImaGination used)
  • 1/2 oz. Bonal
  • 1/2 oz. Carpano Antica (Cocchi Dopo Teatro used)
  • 3/4 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/4 oz. orgeat (homemade used)
  • 1/4 oz. ginger syrup (homemade ginger brandy and simple used)
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters
  • 1 dash orange bitters (Hella used)
  • club soda
  • 1 cucumber ribon, 1 mint sprig and 1 or 2 drops of Angostura as garnishes. 

Muddle strawberry and cucumber wheels in a shaker. Add the remaining ingredients except soda and shake with only a few ice cubes, then strain into a highball glass full of fresh ice. Top with soda and garnish with the cucumber ribbon and mint sprig. Then dash Angostura on the mint. 


Le Subtil (Death & Co. Recipe)


Subtle is a good way to describe this drink. It isn't the kind of cocktail that beats you over the head with bitterness or spicy gin. Spirits like genever and Cardamaro are soft. Any spicy notes they carry are smoothed out by aging. The genius of Le Subtil comes from finding that sweet balance of these ingredients that don't especially assert themselves too strongly, then boosting them with lifting bitters like hopped grapefruit.

I got this Fee Brothers' grapefruit bitters to make this cocktail, since I couldn't find Bittermen's hopped grapefruit bitters. I know from past experience that a dash of my own celery bitters gives a drink hoppy notes of bitter flowers very similar to hops. The experience, once you twist grapefruit peal on top, is a drink with a no grapefruit juice that smells and tastes like a grapefruit juice drink but rich with all the other spirits. The Bols barrel-aged genever has the oak, malt and juniper that fits right in with cardamom of Cardamaro, which also has other bitter herbs. The Antica Formula vermouth (which the recipe calls for but I am using a Cocchi product with a similar profile) is rich with quinine and oak as well. And it all floats upward with citrus notes at first sip and at the finish. 

  • 2 oz. Bols Genever (barrel aged used)
  • 1/2 oz. Cardamaro
  • 1/2 oz. Carpano Antica Formula vermouth (Cocchi Dopo Teatro used)
  • 2 dashes Bittermen's hopped grapefruit bitters (Fee Brothers' grapefruit bitters and homemade celery bitters used)
  • grapefruit twist

Combine all liquid ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with the grapefruit twist.

Le Bateleur (Death & Co. Recipe)


The smaller, black eagle known as the Bateleur is a great name for a drink. While the dark spirits like Cynar in this cocktail aren't exactly black, they are almost the components in a Black Negroni (whatever your recipe for that mysterious drink happen to be.)

For once I didn't have to alter this recipe to make it with my limited budget and bar space. I was happy to make this Death & Co. Recipe with Cynar 70-proof and Citadelle gin--two powerfully flavored and potent spirits. Strega is the sweetener for Bateleur, but it also adds herbal notes like mint and saffron to the already sturdy underbelly of this cocktail. The recipe calls for Punt E Mes, but I ended up going with Cocchi's version of the gentian-infused vermouth known for its bitter base. 

Just like the smaller African eagle, this drink is easily to underestimate but unforgettable. 

  • 2 oz. dry gin (Citadelle used)
  • 3/4 oz. Punt E Mes (Cocchi Dopo Teatro used)
  • 1/2 oz. Strega
  • 1/4 oz. Cynar (Cynar 70-proof)
  •  1 dash Angostura bitters
  • orange twist garnish

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

La Dolce Vita (Death & Co. Recipe)

Like a Boulivardier or Negroni but with fun rye and St-Germain. That's how I think of this cocktail; and it was really enjoyable as a simple, ruby-colored cocktail that was both easy to make and easy to drink.
The think that makes this drink stand out is the infusion of chamomile tea into the rye. I used Republic of Tea's Chamomile Lemon tea (which doesn't have the acidity of actual lemon but lemon balm instead.) Rye and chamomile have really complementary flavors--not unlike apples and cinnamon--but spicy with alcoholic kick. This is balanced with sweet floral St-Germain and given bitter traction and an attractive look by the hefty pour of Campari. This drink, like life, is beautiful!
  • 2 oz. chamomil-infused Rittenhouse rye (with Republic of Tea Chamomile Lemon)
  • 3/4 oz. Campari
  • 1/2 oz. St-Germain

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain over a large format ice in an Old Fashioned glass. 


Key Party (Death & Co. Recipe)

I like a stirred cocktail that is unapolegetically French. In keeping with this thought, I tried to go as French as possible with ingredients that I had a choice about. The first is obvious: Citadelle gin is one of those top tier dry gins packed with beautiful floral and spice botanicals that are perfectly balanced. It was an excellent choice to pair with Bonal, a rich and earthy French aromatized wine with quinine. 

Amaro Nardini is the only Italian ingredient in this Death & Co. recipe, and the only one I don't have. Amari have simple substitutes that you can go with for cocktails, so I started with my homemade Amer Picon (made with Ramazzotti and orange bitters) and a touch of Frenet Branca to give it that cool menthol flavor of Nardini as well. I've not tried Nardini, but everyone who does raves about its orange, menthol and caramel notes, and I think I accurately captured this with a 2 to 1 proportion of Picon and Frenet.

A final substitution--my usual Dolin Genepy for Chartreuse--is totally acceptable because of its low proportion to the cocktail that doesn't rely on Green Chartreuse to produce a green colored drink.

  • 2 oz. gin (Citadelle used)
  • 1/2 oz. Bonal Gentain-Quina
  • 1/2 oz. Amaro Nardini
  • 1/4 oz. green Chartreuse (Dolin Genepy used)


Yeoman Warder (Death & Co. Recipe)

A yeoman was a master woodsman, leader of the hunt and a skilled fighter with a yew bow. Picture Robin Hood in green garb standing around in the woods. With all the herbaceous flavors going on in this cocktail, you can taste that medieval trope right in the glass.

I picked up a bottle of Cynar 70-proof to make this drink, and I find that this new release of Cynar is even more flavorful than the original artichoke amaro. I don't know if that is because more flavor can be packed into an infusion of botanicals when the proof is higher, or it is just a more intense formulation. Either way, a little Cynar 70-proof goes a long way.

In addition to the vegetable notes of artichoke in the Cynar, I used my homemade gin that has asparagus as one of the botanicals. You notice it, but not as much as the spice and bitterness. Overall I'd say this drink is intense with all flavors dialed up to the max. Despite that, sweet and bitter, tart and spice, are all balanced and contribute to an enjoyable sip.

  • 2 oz. dry gin (homemade gin with asparagus botanical used)
  • 3/4 oz. Dolin dry vermouth
  • 1/4 oz. Cynar (70-proof used)
  • 1/4 oz. Luxardo maraschino 

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


Petticoat (Death & Co. Recipe)


There are many strange botanicals in new American gin styles, from lemon balm to birch leaves. What you never see in gin is Szechuan peppercorns. I don't know why, though. Szechuan peppercorns are not pepper. They are a dried flower bud that has an interesting numbing effect that enhances spicy Chinese soups and roasted meats. In a drink, Szechuan peppercorns give you a flavorless tingle that blends with alcoholic burn that makes you salivate more--a good thing, right?

I made the peppercorn infusion with MurLarkey ImaGination gin. My reason for picking MurLarkey is because I didn't want to use a super-dry gin that would have a noticeable change in its profile. ImaGination is robust and can take some altering without being overwhelmed by new flavors. This infusion needs to be about 30 minutes. Any longer just invites ruining the gin with too much numbing effect. For the purpose of this drink, I made 4 ounces of infusion with 1/2 tsp. of Szechuan peppercorns.

I also altered the recipe by using a tsp. of apricot jam and a splash of cognac to replicate Marie Brizard apricot liqueur. The use of jelly and jam as a sweetener and a way of flavoring a cocktail is common and an easy way to get ingredients you don't have. Apricots, sugar and cognac are often ingredients in apricot liqueur; so I feel my decision is sound. When you can't get something, make it--I always say. 

  • 2 oz. Szechuan peppercorn infused gin (MurLarkey ImaGination used)
  • 1/4 oz. falernum (homemade used)
  • 1/4 oz. Marie Brizard apricot liqueur (1/4 oz. cognac and a tsp. apricot jam used)
  • 3/4 oz. lime juice
  • 1/4 oz. cane sugar syrup (omitted when using jam as above)

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



What do you get when you make a Bramble with raspberries instead of blackberries? The answer is, a Ramble! This is a super conventional recipe: raspberries, gin, sugar syrup, ice. That's it; I added the rosemary because it is suggestive of one of the botanicals in MurLarkey's ImaGination gin. I've gone too long without it on my bar, and I'm super pleased how well it improves a simple recipe like this. 

The funny thing is that the Ramble has a kind of backwards preparation designed to get the muddled raspberries on top of the ice and not stuck at the bottom of the glass. It uses a shaker to chill and combine a gin sour that sits underneath the ice then re-shakes raspberries and simple syrup to add extra sweet raspberry syrup and hunks as a float of sorts. The effect is that the pink syrup drizzles down through the crushed ice and creates a two-tone look that's extra pretty.

  • 2 oz. gin (MurLarkey ImaGination used)
  • 1 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 1/4 oz. simple syrup
  • 3 raspberries 
  • (Optional rosemary sprig garnish)

Combine gin, lemon juice and 3/4 oz. of the simple syrup in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled highball glass full of crushed ice. Empty the shaker and add the raspberries with the remaining simple syrup (3/4 oz.). Muddle the berries gently in the syrup and pour over the ice. Garnish with berries or optional rosemary.