Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Vampire Blues (Death & Co. Recipe)

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

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

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


Blue Run Sling (Death & Co. Recipe)

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

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

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

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


Fix Me Up (Death & Co. Recipe)

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

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

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

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


Crane Kick (Death & Co. Recipe)


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

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

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

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

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

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

Wicked Kiss (Death & Co. Recipe)

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

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

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


Doc's Dram (Death & Co.)

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

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

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

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


Little Engine (Death & Co. Recipe)


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

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

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

Enchanted Orchard (Death & Co. Recipe)


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

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

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

Sweep the Leg (Death & Co. Recipe)

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

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

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


Widow's Laurel (Death & Co. Recipe)


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

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

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

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

Whirling Tiger (Death & Co. Recipe)


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

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

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

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

Warehouse C (Death & Co. Recipe)

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

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

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


Friday, October 1, 2021

House of Payne (Death & Co.)


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

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

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

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

Augie March (Death & Co.)

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

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

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

Flor de Jalisco (Death & Co. Recipe)


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

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

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

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

Nitty-Gritty (Death & Co. Recipe)


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

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

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

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

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

Pillow Talk (Deat & Co. Recipe)


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

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

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

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

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

Pressure Drop (Death & Co. Recipe)

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

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

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

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

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


Prima China (Death & Co. Recipe)

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

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

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

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

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