Sunday, November 28, 2021

Peppermint Bark (Original Recipe)


This cocktail took several tries to get right. The first mistake I made was using any citrus juice. It was unnecessary--it made a good drink but not the drink I was going for. 

I guess I should explain that this original cocktail was an attempt at making peppermint bark in liquid form that can get you drunk. I imagined not only a dry-tasting, spirits-forward cocktail, but one that had the flavor of milk chocolate, mint and holiday sweets without using cream like so many dessert drinks tend to do. I wanted this drink to be an anytime of the day sipper, but especially on holidays. 

I came up with the solution of adding just a tsp. of simple syrup and several drops of Fernet Branca for a sweet and bitter balance that made this peppermint bark cocktail taste more adult than other candy-like versions. 

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

Saz Who? (Death & Co. Recipe)


Is it a Sazerac when it is made with rum and pear brandy? If you also use Peychaud's bitters and serve it with a hint of absinthe. 

The overall effect of adding pear brandy instead of the usual rye or cognac is the benefit of fruity softness. Catoctin Creek pear brandy is pretty strong stuff, but it has a soft nose and pear flavors that come from distilling fruit juice. That goes great with a soft Guyana rum like Hamilton 86. The rest of the recipe should look familiar to Sazerac fans. The one difference is that the glass is not rinsed with absinthe, but the liquor has several dashes of absinthe in it.

  • 1 1/ 2oz. aged rum (Hamilton 86 Demerara River used)
  • 1/2 oz. pear brandy (Catoctin Creek used)
  • 2 dashes absinthe
  • 1 tsp. demerara syrup
  • 4 dashes Peuchaud's bitters
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters
  • lemon twist

Stir all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Strain into an Old Fashioned glass. Twist a lemon zest over the glass and discard. 

Grape Spirit Cold Toddy (Original Recipe)

The idea behind this drink was to make the classic holiday hot cocktail with all of its fruity and spicy flavors in a cold form so it is easier to drink quickly. Unusually, I stuck with mostly grape spirits for the base and additional flavors, the one exception being MurLarkey orange whiskey, which comes across like a fruity orange peel and vanilla spice spirit.

But a neutral pisco, ginger brandy and Porto Morgado made this holiday cocktail as much about the juice of the grape as it was about apples and citrus. The spice combination on top was very important, including grated cinnamon, nutmeg, clove and anise.

  • 1 oz. MurLarkey orange whiskey
  • 1 oz. Capel pisco
  • 1 oz. apple cider
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. ginger brandy
  • 1/2 oz. honey syrup
  • 1/4 oz. Porto Morgado
  • cinnamon stick
  • anise pod
  • lemon twist
  • grated nutmeg, clove and cinnamon

Combine liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into an Old Fashioned glass full of crushed ice. twist lemon zest over the glass and drop it in. Grate spices and garnish with the cinnamon stic and the anise pod.


Creole Saz (Death & Co. Recipe)


I described this cocktail as a "dank rum Sazerac." This caused some confusion about whether I was describing the rum or the Sazerac as "dank." To clarify, both dank and rum modified Sazerac. Hamilton Demerara River rum is not overly rich for a dark rum. Unlike the banana peel and funk of Jamaican rums, this one really only hits lightly on brown sugar and woody notes. 

The rest of this cocktail is perfectly Creole, and right in line with something you would find in a New Orleans bar. 

  • absinthe (Absente used)
  • 1 1/2 oz. Haitian rum (Hamilton Demerara River used)
  • 1/2 oz. cognac (Meukow used)
  • 1 tsp cane sugar syrup
  • 3 dashes Peychauds bitters
  • 1 lemon twist

Rinse a rocks glass with absinthe and dump. Stir the remaining ingredients (except lemon peel) in a mixing glass with ice, then strain into the glass. Squeeze lemon twist over the drink and discard. 

Solera Sidecar (Death & Co. Recipe)


I have been waiting to do this cocktail for a while, hoping to source the exact ingredients for the recipe. Unfortunately, I used up the last of my East India Solera sherry during Halloween and I haven't seen it in stores since then. But I figured I could make this recipe with cream sherry, and it definitely works. 

The idea behind this craft Sidecar is to substitute excellent ingredients (and sherry) into a well-known cocktail recipe that is essentially a cognac sour with orange liqueur. Sweet sherry adds richness, as does ameretto and cognac-based orange liqueur like Grand Marnier. The problem remained that I had neither of the latter ingredients as well. Then it occurred to me that I do have a cognac-based orange liqueur and an almond liqueur, they just weren't the brand names the recipe called for.

So I substituted homemade Mandarine Napoleon for Grand Marnier--which is an easy solution. I also used Tempus Fugit creme de Noyaux, a French, rather than Italian, almond liqueur. It worked out well, and the effect of the craft Sidecar was pulled off. In addition I got to use my homemade orange liqueur.

  • 1 1/2 oz. cognac (Meukow used)
  • 1/2 oz. East India Solera Sherry (Dona Luisa cream sherry used)
  • 1/4 oz. Grand Marnier (homemade Mandarine Napoleon used)
  • 1/4 oz. Lazxaroni ameretto (Tempus Fugit creme de noyaux used)
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/4 oz. simple syrup

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

Alembic (Death & Co. Recipe)


Alcohol my first have been made by Arabic alchemists in the middle ages, but it was the Dutch who invented Genever, the predecessor of gin. This spirit used juniper berries in the malted barley mash as well as juniper and other botanicals in the distillation to create a gin-like spirit with a rich nutty body and pale color. It is so much like whiskey, that you can use it in a Sazerac variation and it comes across as very much like the New Orlean's original. 

  • absinthe
  • 2 oz. Anchor Genevieve gin (Bols Barrel-Aged Genever used)
  • 1/4 oz. demerara syrup
  • 3 dashes Peychaud/s bitters
  • 1 lemon twist garnish

Coat a double Old Fashioned glass with absinthe (Absente used) and add one large ice cube. In a mixing glass, stir the remaining ingredients with ice and strain into a absinthe-coated glass. Garnish with the lemon twist.

Snake Hips Swizzle (Death & Co. Recipe)


You don't see many Swizzles with cognac, sherry, and maple syrup. I have to say, though, that this cocktail was fun to make because, as with all Swizzles, I used my bois lele, the Caribbean island Swizzle stick. And yes, a Swizzle when made properly is still a Swizzle, even if it has cognac, sherry and maple syrup. It still tasted tropical and it still had that frozen glass effect of a well-prepared cocktail.

  • 1 1/2 oz. cognac (Meucow used)
  • 1/4 oz. Grand Marnier (homemade Mandarine Napoleon used)
  • 1/2 oz. cream sherry (Dona Luisa used)
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon bark syrup (simple syrup with MurLarkey cinnamon whiskey used)
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters

Combine all ingredients except bitters in a shaker and dry shake. Pour into a pilsner glass filled with crushed ice. Swizzle with the bois lele until the glass freezes on the outside. Then dash bitters over the top and serve with a straw.

Swedish Solution (Original Recipe)


There are a lot of vodka or gin cocktails with lemon juice and creme de cacao. The Kretchma comes to mind here. But there are many more that usually have some kind of a Russian theme. The thing is, creme de cacao and lemon juice have a mysterious flavor that comes across as tropical. It isn't especially Russian and most people can't identify that it is chocolate that supplies the sweetness to balance the sourness of the drink.

I submit now that this flavor is only enhanced by the addition of Swedish Punsch--and today I'm using Kronan, a real product from Sweden, not my homemade knock off. Swedish Punsch, with its cardamon and clove and hint of lemon, is a perfect way to lift this ordinary sour cocktail to a special crafty bar menu level. The spices make this the solution for your holiday cocktail needs. 

  • 1 1/2 oz. dry gin (Bloom used)
  • 1 oz. Swedish Punsch (Kronan used)
  • 1/2 oz. creme de cacao
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. brown sugar syrup

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

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Fall Apple Sour (Original Recipe)

I know I'm doing a lot of drinks from the Death & Co. recipe book, and pretty soon I'll have completed my third recipe book in my odyssey of cocktails. But I do find time to innovate. Usually this happens when I am inspired by something I make or buy for a Death & Co. recipe. Who says leftovers are not as good as the first time around?

In this case, it was the Braeburn apple syrup I had left over. I used it to make a whiskey sour (no egg white) with a pronounced apple flavor. I used MurLarkey Heritage whiskey for it's intense country whiskey notes. 

  • 2 oz. MurLarkey Heritage whiskey
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. apple cider
  • 1 oz. Braeburn apple syrup
  • apple fan garnish
Combine all ingredients except for garnish in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a rocks glass full of fresh ice. Garnish with apple slices in the shape of a fan.

Cooper Union (Death & Co. Recipe)


Leave it to Death & Co. to name a cocktail after a New York art university. I guess that the inference one can take is that artists like their booze. 

This is yet another Sazerac variation that does not include absinthe but uses Laphroaig as the primary scent on the glass. The smoke and peat really hit you when you get your nose close to the glass, but it is cut by the lemon oils from the twist. Once you delve beneath the surface, you'll find that the liquor beneath is extremely soft: Irish whiskey and St. Germain. The effect is a cocktail like the Sazerac (but with no added sugar syrup) that is far less bitter but just as aromatic. It is at once earthy and floral and goes down all too quickly.

  • Laphroaig scotch
  • 2 oz. Readbrest 12-year Irish whiskey (Slane Irish whiskey used)
  • 1/2 oz. St. Germain
  • 1 dash orange bitters (Hella used)
  • 1 lemon twist

Rinse a double rocks glass in Laphroaig and discard. Stir the remaining ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and strain into the coated glass. Squeeze the twist over the glass and discard.

Bay City Roller (Death & Co. Recipe)


I apologize for this closeup picture. My plan was to show my own label of Amer Picon, which I used in place of Amaro Averna in this cocktail. 

This simple drink is based on the Sazerac, but has no absinthe, so it should be palatable.  to most whisky drinkers. I've notice few whiskey fans who really like absinthe, and some absinthe fans admit that they would happily do without the whiskey. I would say that this cocktail will please just about anyone with refined taste, however. 

A note on the scotch selection: Compass Box Asyla is a blended whisky that is very delicate and smooth. It shouldn't slap you down with peat and smoke, though those things are present. I chose a mild scotch by Bowmore distillery as a fair stand-in.

  • 2 oz. Compass Box Asyla scotch (McClelland's Islay used)
  • 1/4 oz. Amaro Averna
  • 1 tsp. simple syrup
  • 1 orange twist

Stir all ingredients except twist with ice and strain into a double rocks glass. Garnish with the orange twist.

Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree (Death & Co. Recipe)


I had a lot of fun preparing this cocktail. It requires its own special syrup made from cooked apples, which was delicious in itself and made my kitchen smell wonderful. 

What is not to like about this drink (except, perhaps, its painstaking recipe). There's fresh apple garnish, apple syrup and apple brandy--so many fall flavors wrapped into one recipe. Not everyone goes for egg white cocktails, but this is the first I've tried that showcases a spirit other than gin or whiskey, and I have to say it is really worth checking out. 

  • 2 oz. Laird's Applejack 86
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 oz. Braeburn apple syrup
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 dash aromatic bitters (Hella used)
  • 1 Braeburn apple slice garnish

Dry shake all ingredients except for the garnish, then shake again with ice. Double strain into a coupe. Garnish with the apple slice.  

To make the syrup, simply cook one diced Braeburn apple in a cup of water. (Note: keep the core and skin and stem for their potent flavors.) Bring it to boil and stir in a cup of sugar. Continue stirring on low heat until the sugar is completely dissolved and the apple pieces are soft and tender. Strain out the apple chunks and refrigerate syrup once it has had time to cool. (Save the apple pieces for dessert toppings--they're delicious.

Devil Inside (Death & Co. Recipe)

I love the song "Devil Inside" by INXS. But humming along while drinking this scotch and rye cocktail makes me wonder which ingredient is the Devil. It must be the Rittenhouse rye. It is 100-proof after all, and it is nothing at all like the smokey scotches (of which there are two) in this recipe. 

Devil Inside is a take on a Sazerac that coats the glass in Laphroaig rather than absinthe like the recipe for Sazerac usually calls for. That's ok, because absinthe fans will still enjoy their favorite herbal spirit stirred into the glass. And maybe that's the Devil Inside after all.

  • Laphroaig scotch
  • 1 1/2 oz. Rittenhouse rye
  • 1/2 oz. Bruichladdich scotch (or some milder Islay whisky)
  • 2 dashes absinthe
  • 1 tsp demerara syrup
  • 2 dashes Peychaud's bitters
  • lemon twist

Rinse a rocks glass with Laphroaig and dump. Stir the remaining ingredients (except lemon twist) with ice. Strain into a rocks glass. Squeeze the lemon twist over the drink and discard it. 


Grand Street (Death & Co. Recipe)


This cocktail is the perfect mash up between a Martinez and a Negroni. If it sounds like that would be a mouthful of bitterness, it is. But I would say that it is the most pleasing thing made with gin an amari that I've had lately, and that includes a few Negroni variations. Part of it is the intensity and part of it is the way the grapefruit twist leaves a lovely scent on the surface that leaves you ill prepared for what lies beneath.

Punt E Mes is a wine-based apartivo that is like the most bitter form of vermouth you can get. It is super rich. Cynar 70 is the more intense version of the bitter artichoke liqueur, and Luxardo, while lifting in its almond-like maraschino notes, is pretty bitter despite its sugar content. Blend these three things in a rich Martini and you have the Grand Street--an homage to the pretty New York street.

  • 1 grapefruit twist
  • 2 oz. dry gin (MurLarkey ImaGination used)
  • 3/4 oz. Punt E Mes
  • 1/4 oz. Cynar
  • 1 tsp. Luxardo maraschino

Muddle the grapefruit twist in a mixing glass before adding liquid ingredients. Stir with ice and strain into a chilled coupe.