Monday, August 16, 2021

Cigarettes And Carrot Juice (Original Recipe)


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Coffee and Cigarettes (Death & Co. Recipe)


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

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

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

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

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

Carrots Grow On Carrot Trees (Original Recipe)

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

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

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

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

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


Sunday, August 8, 2021

Osaka Choya Martini (Original Recipe)


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

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

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

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

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


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.