Thursday, December 29, 2016

Tequila Stinger

Moving right along with the tequila drinks, the Stinger is a creme de menthe drink. The Tequila Stinger is self explanatory. I have to say that I liked this one more than I thought I would. You have to be in the right mood for a minty drink. But silver tequila doesn't immediately clash with mint, and if you make it with peppermint schnapps instead of creme de menthe, like I did, you get a crisp, frosty tasting drink that's good for the holiday season.

I don't know why the NYBG calls for an Old Fashioned glass for the Stinger and a cocktail glass for the Tequila Stinger, but I met somewhere in the middle with this canted Old Fashioned Glass for the photo.
  • 2 oz. silver tequila
  • 1 oz. creme de menthe (peppermint schnapps used)
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass (or glass of your choice, really.)

Tequila Sour

If life hands you lemons, make a sour. If you have tequila, make a Tequila Sour. With no egg white, this made for a fast and easy drink good for any time of the year. The NYBG calls for silver tequila, but I'm sure just about any tequila will do. Silver tequila like Sauza blanco makes for a clean sour flavor that is tropical or refreshing. This drink calls for a sour glass like the one seen here.
  • 2 oz. silver tequila
  • 1 1/4 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • maraschino cherry
  • lemon slice
Combine all liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled sour glass. Garnish with fruit.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Alternatini / Truffletini

I know what you are thinking, a Chocolate Martini. No, this must predate the Chocolate Martini of the mid 90s with all the chocolate syrup and berries and cream. In fact the Alternatini has a few characteristics that land it squarely in the real Martini category with an alternative garnish (as long as you allow that a Martini has to include vodka or gin, vermouth and a garnish and not much more.

This cocktail has both sweet and dry vermouth, so it is well covered. Sweet vermouth and chocolate go together like wine and chocolate, so I can see where this is headed. There's only enough creme de cacao to suggest a chocolate flavor.

I have sweet Aylesbury Duck vodka for this cocktail because it is well suited to dessert drinks, or pretty much anything. It is a vodka designed for bartenders, super versatile, easy to grip the bottle (in your face Ciroc) and it has a graduated bottle so you can measure the amount left in the bottle.

The original recipe (and this was the 90s) calls for cocoa powder and a Hershey's Kiss. I think we can do better than some Swiss Miss and a waxy chocolate. I have a Godiva truffle and some really nice Bellagio cocoa powder for my garnishes. This drink may still taste like vodka, but it finishes like dessert. It is no more filling than a truffle.
  • 3 oz. vodka
  • 1/4 oz. sweet vermouth
  • 1/4 oz. dry vermouth
  • 1/2 tsp. creme de cacao
  • chocolate truffle
  • cocoa powder
Combine liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with truffle and sprinkle cocoa powder on top.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Tequila Mockingbird

As a book nerd, I had to make this drink at some point. The thing is, I had to be in the mood for a creme de menthe cocktail--which is rare--and I had to have creme de menthe on hand--which is rarer still. The thing is, the New York Bartender's Guide has the recipe showing white creme de menthe, while the accompanying photo is clearly green. I thought, why go with white for a bland-looking tequila drink, when you can have so much color to work with. (Plus, I'm saving my peppermint schnapps for the Tequila Stinger, soon to come.)

The reason book nerds will like this drink is the name: "To Kill A Mockingbird," an excellent book and a very fun play on words with this cocktail. Make it how you like, but I will tell you that the whole ounce of lime is necessary to counter the sweetness of the creme de menthe. It also makes for a more balanced creme de menthe cocktail, whereas others tend to be overly minty. Lime cuts through it nicely and the whole experience is very fresh, and less like mouthwash than I expected.
  • 2 oz. silver tequila
  • 1 oz. creme de menthe (green used)
  • 1 oz. lime juice
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a white wine glass. 


What a fun name for a drink! And what better tequila to use for the Sauzaliky than Sauza? I really enjoyed this cocktail more than most blended drinks I've made this year. For one thing, it was like a smoothie with a tequila kick. Fresh bananas, fresh squeezed orange juice, and a hint of lime give the drink a tropical feel, while blended ice and fruit have a silkiness (not grainy like a Frozen Margarita) that makes for non-stop sipping.

Half a banana for one drink is a lot of banana, but I appreciate how the flavor remains without the need for artificial tasting liqueurs. If you have a blender and a few fruit staples on hand, this is a great choice. Sauza gold has this rich taste that also appeared in the cocktail, despite all of the other ingredients.
  • 2 oz. gold tequila
  • 4 oz. orange juice
  • 1 tsp. lime juice
  • 1/2 banana sliced
Add all ingredients in a blender with ice and blend until smooth. Pour into a cocktail glass or wine goblet. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Tequila Sunrise

This cocktail reminds me of the Eagles 1973 song. I had to listen to it while making this one. You have to love how the grenadine gives the drink a two-tone look like a sunrise, even though you add it to the top of the drink. You also have to love how sweet the drink is, no lime juice to make it a boring Margarita variation. If all you have is tequila, orange juice and Rose's lime juice, it's really not a bad way to go.

My recommendation is to use less than the ounce of grenadine called for in the recipe. You just get too much syrupy sweetness from that much grenadine. 1/2 oz. will do just fine.
  • 2 oz. silver tequila 
  • orange juice
  • 1 oz. grenadine
Build drink in a Collins glass and stir. Add grenadine to the top and allow it to sink to the bottom.

Cowgirl's Prayer

Homemade lemonade makes the Cowgirl's Prayer a tangy treat. It would be enough to add lime juice and simple syrup to make it tart beyond normal, but the lemonade sweetens and adds complexity. Make your lemonade extra sweet to counteract the lime juice acidity. Make it witha an ounce of lemon juice, 3/4 ounce of simple syrup and an ounce of water (enough for one drink.) You could, of course, make a whole pitcher of lemonade. You never know when you need to make another cowgirl's prayer come true.
  • 2 oz. gold tequila
  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • fresh lemonade
  • lemon slice
  • lime slice
 Build drink in a Collins glass with fresh ice. Stir and garnish with fruit. 


Ever done a tequila and ginger ale? It's called a Changirongo and it is pretty tasty. Tonight I was making quesadillas and looking for a low-hanging fruit cocktail that I could make without a shaker. This fit the bill really well. Build Changirongo in the glass--no shaking or squeezing fruit. This should be the back of the house drink at any Mexican restaurants.
  • 2 oz. tequila
  • ginger ale 
  • lime slice
Build drink in a Collins glass full of ice. Stir and add lime slice garnish. 

Monday, December 19, 2016

Cool Yule Martini

Stolichnaya vodka is my choice for the Cool Yule Martini. Of course any vodka will do, but Stoli just says Christmas to me. I sense that this Martini variation is not stepping out of bounds of what can be considered a true Martini. I mean there's more than a hint of dry vermouth. So what if peppermint schnapps is added, it's still an actual Martini because the original proportions are maintained.

With the candy cane, you almost don't need the schnapps, and I appreciate that the peppermint schnapps proportion is so slight, but don't overlook the heft of that dry vermouth. I used Mancino vermouth, which is loaded with botanicals and It felt like I was having a traditional Martini with a candy cane stuck in it. (On second thought Noilly Prat would have been a better choice because it is more subtle.) 

I figure if you are going to go peppermint, you can go a little more than 1 tsp. But please keep it under an ounce. I mean this is a real Martini after all. It's not just some crap Christmas drink with peppermint schnapps and vodka, though that might taste cleaner, it's a classic cocktail variation. Treat it with some respect and have a merry Christmas!
  • 3 oz. vodka (Stolichnaya used)
  • 1/2 oz. dry vermouth (Mancino used, but Noilly Prat recommended)
  • 1 tsp. peppermint schnapps
  • 1 candy cane garnish
Shake liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with candy cane. 

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Wassail Bowl

Wassail is the old time holiday tradition of pestering the nobles until one of their servants goes out and dumps some of the leftover alcohol in a bowl that a bunch of rowdies carries from door to door. These revelers, or wassailers, carry the bowl and sing and jeer at each aristocrat's house and fill the bowl with ale, sherry, spiced wines and beers and add whatever they are carrying to the swill. Then they drink it!

A basic Wassail recipe is built around a spicy brown ale, just like the "Gloucestershire Wassails Song" says. The bowl is wooden "of the white maple tree." And while you get drunk on Wassail, it is quite alright to praise maids who let the Wassailers in, and damn butlers to hell if they add something putrid to the bowl.

For my Wassail I chose Samuel Smith's Winter Welcome Ale. This is a hoppy and dry tasting brown ale for the holiday season. I am impressed that it's robust character stands out despite all the adulteration this drink goes through. When done well, Wassail has a whiff of holiday spice in the foam,  a sherry and hop burst in the center, and a sour zip of citrus.

Serve it in a bowl, and dip mugs in it to pass it around. Holiday mugs, hot drink mugs, beer mugs. Let's not be particular here.
  • 6 12-oz. bottles of brown ail (Samuel Smith's Winter Warmer Ale used)
  • 1 cup cream sherry
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. powdered ginger
  • lemon slices
Warm sherry and 1 bottle of ale in a saucepan. Do not boil. Add sugar and spices and stir until sugar dissolves. Add the remaining 5 bottles of ale. Remove from heat and let stand for 3 hours. Pour into a (wooden) punch bowl and garnish with lemon slices. (Serves 10.)

Scotch & Milk

What's this? I mean, really... What? An old man showed asked me to make this at the bar today. It turns out that scotch and milk, specifically Dewar's and milk is not so bad after all. This is, of course, the time of year when you will drink the strangest things because it is part of a holiday tradition. I'm talking about eggnog. If you think that is normal, than' what's wrong with scotch and milk.

The milk simply softens the scotch's liquor flavors and gives the drink fattiness on the mouthfeel. Scotch is naturally spicy, so it fits with a holiday theme. I thought this was so funny I had to post it.
  • 1 1/2 oz. scotch (Dewar's recommended)
  • 1 1/2 oz. milk
Build drink in a rocks glass full of ice and stir.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Woo Woo

Yes, this is a real cocktail. The name is more evocative of the cheers that certain women (Woo girls) make when they are drunk. I don't know if that is where the name comes from, but when a woman orders this drink and then you hear "Woo!" shouted across the bar, you can put two and two together.

I apologize for snapping pictures at the bar, as they don't make for the best lighting or presentation, but I'm spending so much time at work that it leaves me little time to mix at home.

The Woo Woo is like a Sex On The Beach fail--someone forgot to get orange juice. People like it nonetheless. Hey, when given the option of drinking each of the ingredients separately, this simple cocktail still wins out, which is all that is asked of a drink recipe.
  • 2 oz. vodka
  • 2 oz. peach schnapps
  • 3 oz. cranberry juice
Combine all ingredients in a highball glass with ice and stir.

Jolly Roger

On paper, I love this drink. It has the promise of greatness, and like so many citrus-forward Drambuie drinks, it fails a little at that promise.

The Jolly Roger refers to the scull and crossbones (or swards) pirate flag, which is no coincidence since rum is piratical and scotch the native spirit of many pirates, or so I've heard. The trouble is that Drambuie is sweet but not sweet enough to offset the tartness of the lime juice (also a pirate necessity to combat scurvy.) I feel that a flavored soda or tonic would up the game a little and make the drink less like a spicy Rum Rickey.
  • 2 oz. light rum
  • 1 oz. Drambuie
  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • club soda
  • 1/4 tsp. scotch
Combine all ingredients except soda and scotch in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a highball glass full of fresh ice. Top with soda and stir gently. Float scotch on top.

Sex On The Beach

This is one of the official International Bartender's Guild cocktails and it is so recent (early 90s) that I'm surprised it is listed in my copy of the New York Bartender's Guide from 1997. I've heard that it was the winning recipe in a contest by DeKuyper liquor company to sell the most peach schnapps. The story goes that it was invented by a Myrtle Beach bar serving kids on spring break. You can see the appeal.

This is one of those drinks that tastes like juice but gets the job done. It's not the first time that vodka, peach schnapps and cranberry juice have teamed up to give you this kind of drunk candy drink, but it is probably the most popular. The photo above was taken at work because someone out there still needed to get the rush. The combination of the name and its drinkability probably account for the drink's popularity. (All the cafes along the Siene in Paris advertise the cocktail on their awnings, which shows how up to date they are not.) There's something about being young and transgressive suggested by drinking a Sex On The Beach, so don't expect it to go away soon.
  • 2 oz. vodka
  • 1 1/2 oz. peach schnapps
  • 3 oz. cranberry juice
  • 3 oz. orange juice
  • maraschino cherry (optional)
Build drink in a highball glass full of ice and garnish with cherry if desired.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Balmoral Cocktail (Revisited)

Last time I did the Balmoral Cocktail, I didn't have Dubonnet blanc and I used Lillet blanc instead. That wasn't a bad move by any means, but now I have the real deal. Since it is the only drink with Dubonnet blanc in the New York Bartender's Guide, I had to do it again to check it off my list.

Dubonnet blanc has bitter vegetable notes, making it less popular than its red brother. It matches very well with the peaty flavors of scotch. The cocktail has a nice traction from Angostura bitters and the quinquina bitters of the aromatized wine. You still taste the single malt peat of Glenfiddich 12, if that is your choice. Last time I used a blend and was a little underwhelmed. This is a good single malt cocktail, where the quality of the scotch goes a long way to improving the drink.

This also marks the last scotch drink I have to do to finish the New York Bartender's Guide. I'm closing in on 1000 cocktails soon, with bourbon all but finished as well. You'll see a lot more brandy cocktails in the future, I'm sure.
  • 2 oz. scotch (Glenfiddich 12 single malt used)
  • 1/2 oz. Dubonnet rouge
  • 1/2 oz. Dubonnet blanc
  • 3 dashes Angostura bitters
 Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

Monday, December 12, 2016

Hot Butter Scotch

So this hot drink is not in the New York Bartender's guide. Hot Buttered Rum is, though and the recipe works better with scotch,  I think, than it does with rum. I picked Cutty Sark's Prohibition Edition scotch for its caramel flavor and because it is 100-proof. Any drink where the majority of the liquid is water needs a little help from higher proof spirits.
  • 2 oz. scotch (Cutty Sark Prohibition Edition used)
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • cinnamon stick
  • 1 pat butter
  • fresh ground nutmeg
  • hot water
Combine scotch and brown sugar in a hot drink mug. Add hot water and stir with cinnamon stick. Float butter on top and dust with nutmeg.

Derbey Fizz

There's a few Derby cocktails out there, but I don't think these have anything to do with Kenducky, or else I'd see bourbon in this drink. This whole egg fizz is unique in that it uses scotch and doesn't just ask for the egg white. I chose a kolsh glass simply because I needed the space for all the ingredients, and that whole egg was pretty big.

The effect of this cocktail is a silky and fizzy taste that pairs peaty scotch and triple sec very well. It is definitely a dessert drink, but the lemon and triple sec keep it light and easy to sip.

I'm not going to recommend doing this cocktail over other fizzes, but as a member of the fizz category, I think it is valuable and proves the point that eggs are important in changing the texture of a cocktail, even a fizzy one. A whole egg changes the color as well, and gives a drink a thickness that cream cannot match, especially when mixed with lemon juice.
  • 2 oz. scotch
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. triple sec
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • sparkling water
Combine all ingredients except sparkling water in a shaker and shake until foamy. Add ice and shake again to chill. Strain over fresh ice in a highball glass, top with sparkling water and stir.

Paisley Martini/ AKA Smoky Martini

The Paisley Martini is pretty much a gin Martini with a touch of smoky scotch, hence it's other name. Paisley is that Persian rug pattern that looks like a water drop or seed pod blowing in the wind. I don't know what that has to do with scotch or the drink itself, though. Smokey is the dominant direction of the drink.

So I made a few unusual choices for this cocktail. One was picking Glenlivit Nadurra with its peaty barrel aging that gives it a great smoke character. It's not a big, bold Islay, but it punches above its weight and blends better with a gin cocktail.

The other choice was to use D.C. local Magnus Vigilant gin for the cocktail. It's a very spicy gin that's strong and dry. The list of botanicals includes tumeric, cubeb, bergamot orange, white grapefruit, and something called marionberry. I can't help think this is a tip of the hat to Marion Barry, the former D.C. mayor.

Here's how to make this easy cocktail.
  • 3 oz. gin (Magnus Vigliant gin used)
  • 1/2 oz. dry vermouth
  • 1 tsp. scotch (Glenlivit Nadurra used)
  • lemon twist
Combine gin and vermouth in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Float scotch on top and garnish with twist.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Black Stripe

Here's a strangely piratical cocktail that's good for warming you up on a winter night. Dark rum is usually made from molasses, and blackstrap rum is made with adding more molasses to the spirit to color it black. This hot drink capitalizes on the black color of molasses to keep the liquid dark after adding boiling water, as well as to add sweetness.

Blackstrap molasses is especially dark and rich. It is bittersweet because it is the sugar residue from processing white sugarcane. Cooking it down longer makes it darker and more bitter. Replacing brown sugar in a hot drink with blackstrap molasses is a good idea because it adds thickness and sugar sweetness.

The recipe says to serve it flaming and to use a spoon to extinguish the flames by stirring the rum topper under the hot water. This is not easily done. You can ignite the rum topper, but it flashes quickly and goes out almost instantly. So maybe just ignite it in front of the drinker for show, but more importantly, singe the cinnamon stick to get it smoking like incense.
  • 3 oz. dark rum (Lyon Bijou Batch used)
  • boiling water
  • 2 tsp. molasses (blackstrap molasses used)
  • lemon twist
  • cinnamon stick
  • fresh grated nutmeg
Add molasses, lemon twist, cinnamon stick and boiling water to a warm mug. Float dark rum on top and ignite. Stir to extinguish the flame and dust with nutmeg.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Blue Blazer

The Blue Blazer is a funny hot drink that is designed to burn before it is extinguished by hot water. I can see Jerry Thomas tossing the flaming liquid from glass to glass as the instructions suggest. The problem with the recipe that I encountered is that most scotches don't burn. The closest I could come to a combustible scotch was Cutty Sark Prohibition Edition, which flashes briefly and dies.

This is a showmanship cocktail for sure, and the original recipe describes using two glasses to toss flaming liquid from one glass to the other. Scotch won't do it, but a dash of 151 rum, about 1/4 oz. will do the trick, along the edges of the glass gives you the right light show that we are looking for. Moving the glass much puts this all out, so just appreciate the flame--which is very blue, of course--and pour the hot water to get things going. This is a great winter drink when you feel a warming cocktail will improve your health.
  • 2 1/2 oz. scotch (Cutty Sark Prohibition Edition used)
  • 1/4 oz. 151-proof rum
  • 1 tsp. brown sugar
  • boiling water
  • lemon twist
Pour scotch (and 151 rum) into a mug and ignite with a lighter. If you are feeling brave, pour flaming concoction into another mug, moving them back and forth to create a tossing fire effect. Add sugar and boiling water to put out the flame and garnish with a lemon twist.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Irish Pickleback

The Pickleback is not really a cocktail but a way of ordering a shot. You see here my Irish whiskey (left) and a graduated shot glass of pickle brine. The thing about doing a pickle back is that, like most back-shot shots, the point is to mitigate the pain of the alcoholic burn with something that opposes the astringency of alcohol with a non-alcoholic wash.

The best thing about doing a pickle back for Irish whiskey is that Irish whiskey is so sweet and malty. The honeyed and fiery spirit goes down, but before the burn hits, you take a shot of mostly water, but the sour brine hits and relieves any pain. I've heard that doing one for one shots of whiskey and brine prevent a hangover the next day because the brine replaces the salt and minerals you lose in a night of drinking. My experience was that the pickle brine felt like a rejuvenating balm, and I perked up after the shot with lots of energy provided by the pickle juice and salts. I can totally see how this is a thing. Not to mention that following a sweet flavor with sourness is a good move, a pickleback shot should be on everybody's bucket list.

No cocktail recipe here, but 1 oz. Irish whiskey in a shot glass and 1 oz. pickle juice in a shot glass taken in order are a thing of beauty.


Still a popular cocktail after decades of heyday, the Gimlet is still going strong. Even my parents said they used to use new fallen snow to make gin Gimlets. Not sure that I would do the same with snow these days, but this simple cocktail still stands, especially considering how many I make a night in one of DC's best bars. It is still a thing, apparently.

So the original recipe from the New York Bartender's Guide calls for 3 oz. gin and 1 oz. Rose's lime juice. Not fresh juice. And I know why This is a safeguard, a cordial that every bar must have. It is sweetened and lasts at least a year (mine gave out completely after 4 years, but who's counting) and is perfectly fine if you are operating a mid-90's bar. But if you are with the times, you have to have fresh lime juice. So my revised recipe is as follows.
  • 3 oz, gin (Bombay Sapphire used)
  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • 1 oz. simple syrup
  •  lime slice
Combine liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lime slice. 

Thursday, December 1, 2016


Despite the name, this is not a rum drink. Rumfustian belongs to a class of colonial winter drinks that make use of whatever rich spirits our forefathers had on hand, usually eggs and fortified wine, and they didn't shy away from doing a hot beer drink. Other drinks of this nature include the Rattle-Skull, Syllabub, and Splitting Headache, which use sherry or beer or both.

Rumfustian is a trifecta of eggs, ale, and sherry, as well as gin and winter spices. It's not at all like the Hot Buttered Rum with it's fatty surface and predictably strong flavor. No. Rumfustian is a protein-rich treat with spices that surprise and confuse if not delight. I chose Samuel Adams Toasted Caramel Bock as the ale for this because it is sweet with caramel roasted barley and a hoppy backbone. It heats up very nicely and goes well with the mulling spices. Picking any bock or brown ale should be fine, though.
  • 2 oz. gin
  • 2 oz. fino sherry 
  • 8 oz. brown ale
  • 5 cloves
  • cinnamon stick
  • lemon twist
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • fresh grated nutmeg
Combine gin, sherry, cloves and ale in a saucepan and heat slowly to nearly a boil. While the mixture is heating, combine egg yolks with sugar and beat to make a sweet yolk mixture. While whisking the hot liquid, pour in the egg yolks and continue stirring rapidly for 45 seconds. Pour into a hot beverage mug. Garnish with a cinnamon stick, lemon twist, and fresh nutmeg.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016


As long as I'm doing Martini variations, let's get down with a Dilltini. At first this seems like a corny idea conceived in the 90s Martini craze. Actually it makes a lot of sense if you look at vodka's countries of origin.

Russia and Eastern Europe, where vodka comes from, are also pickle countries. Pickles are often served alongside flights of vodka shots and it is customary to dip the pickle in the shot glass or consume both in one mouthful. I've done this at Russia House and the effect is delightful.

Stolichnaya vodka is actually a wheat vodka, not potato. It is more clarified than Grey Goose, something to do with the filtration, I guess. But it has a slightly sweet taste. It doesn't back down to the brine of a single pickle. I was surprised that it was the pickle that picked up the Stolichnaya flavor and not the other way around. Don't add pickle brine to this Martini to make a Dirty Martini with the brine. That will completely ruin the balance and leave you feeling like you are just drinking the brine.

  • 2 1/2 oz. vodka (Stolichnaya used)
  • 1/2 oz. dry vermouth
  • dill pickle
Combine vermouth and vodka in a shaker with ice and shake. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with pickle. 

Dirty Martini

Judging by how many orders I fill for this drink a night, I assume that the Dirty Martini is the most popular white spirit cocktail right now. I often scoff at these orders, mainly because drinkers don't seem to want any vermouth in their Martinis, and the olive brine really makes vermouth seem unnecessary anyway. The other problem I have with Dirty Martini drinkers is that they prefer vodka, usually good vodka, which defeats the point of making the drink dirty. At least it does to me.

Unlike the commonplace Dirty Martinis you see these days, the original recipe is with gin and good helping of vermouth. Olive brine is the smallest portion of the three ingredients. Back in the prohibition days, vermouth was what saved a cocktail from terrible tasting liquor. At least the vermouth had flavor, and olive brine does a lot to kill stench. I'm glad to say that the original recipe for Dirty Martinis is still solid with quality gin.

Bombay Sapphire is one of the driest and most flavorful of gins out there. There's a lot going on in it. Adding Mancino vermouth with more than 20 botanicals just makes it that much better. The olive brine prevents the cocktail from becoming overly spiced. It does wonders for improving your appetite before dinner.
  • 3 oz. gin (Bombay Sapphire used)
  • 1 oz. dry vermouth (Mancino used)
  • 1/2 oz. olive brine
  • olives (Tipsy Olives used)
Combine liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with olives.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Artillery Punch

This is a trial run of the Artillery Punch, a big bowl of punch that I intend to make for a holiday party soon. It is a good idea, when trying a punch for the first time, to make a scaled down version of the punch to test it and see if it needs tweaking. This 1/32 scale punch was excellent and supports my judgement that a good punch needs a little bit of a spice kick to counter the sweetness and citrus of all the fruit juice.

I was attracted to Artillery Punch because it uses nearly a bottle of rye and half of a bottle of dark rum. It seems it is a counter to those old Navy Punches you come across in old cocktail manuals or seafaring tales. It is strong and quick to lay you low, but easily drinkable when it comes down to finishing the bowl amidst rowdy spectators. You can see a bunch of artillery men egging each other on to drink another from the bowl, perhaps stirring it with loggerheads.

A few modifications need to be addressed. I went with port instead of red wine for a richer body for winter. Spiced rum seemed appropriate and with it I used a spiced black tea as one of the four tea bags to brew the four cups of black tea, the other three bags were Irish breakfast for their strength and blackness. Peach schnapps is an ok and noticeable substitute for apricot brandy, which you might not detect underneath everything else, but you might want to back off the proportions slightly.

Below I've included the proportions for the drink, but be warned, it is no small matter to drink this one with fewer than six people.
  • 4 cups rye (Catoctin Creek Roundstone rye used)
  • 4 cups red wine (ruby port used)
  • 2 cups dark rum (St. Croix spiced used)
  • 1 cup apricot brandy (peach schnapps used)
  • 1 cup gin (Bombay Sapphire used)
  • 4 cups black tea (Irish breakfast used plus one bag of Republic Of Tea Comfort & Joy)
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • 4 oz. lemon juice
  • 4 oz. lime juice
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • several slices of lime and lemon and star anise
Combine liquid ingredients in a large punch bowl and stir to dissolve the sugar. Refrigerate for several hours before serving. Serve on ice with pieces of fruit and garnish glasses with star anise.

Vodka & Tonic

So simple it doesn't require a name, nor for that matter does the drinker have to give a rats ass. Gin is too fragrant for your delicate palate? Maybe you've stuck with this one since the Carter administration and are afraid to try something new lest it challenge you. For all the knocks I'm giving it, it is still a good standby drink--in the summer. A guest who orders this one in the winter--and one did--admits that she is telling everyone it is just club soda and lime. I'm not fooled, and neither are your friends. At least she had the sense to order rail vodka because it would be a shame to waste good stuff on a drink in disguise.
  • 2 oz. vodka
  • tonic water (Fever Tree Tonic used)
  • 2 lime wedges
Build drink in a highball glass with vodka, ice and topping with tonic. Stir with straw and add lime wedges to the rim.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Cork Screw

I get the concept of this drink. So you want a Screwdriver with all the flavor of a juice drink but plenty of alcoholic punch, make it like this. Rum, dry vermouth (you won't notice it) and peach schnapps. The peach flavor overwhelms, which is a sure sign that someone will be ok with it and even get drunk off this drink. Perish the thought.

It's not a bad drink, but it could be so much better. Try again, cocktail gods.
  • 2 oz. light rum 
  • 1/2 oz. dry vermouth
  • 1/2 oz. peach schnapps
  • lime slice
Combine liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lime slice. 


So I've decided that the Hammerhead is part of the "shark" series of cocktails designed to sneak up and hit you like Jaws. This is really much more of a liqueur drink than a gold rum cocktail. I still used my small flask of Mad River First Run Rum, but the real flavor profile belongs to bitter oranges from triple sec, peach pits and sweetness of amaretto and Southern Comfort. The mouthfeel is very thick and sweet and orange flavors linger a long time. Forget that this is a rum drink altogether, you are drinking the heaviest stuff at the bar. I get the impression that a bartender grabbed the most rich spirits and threw them all into one drink.

Some notes on drinking this one: I cut the proportions (wherever it says 2 oz.) to 1.5 oz. Do this and you can actually fit it in a cocktail glass. Ignore this and you will have an overflowing glass and drunk patrons.
  • 2 oz. gold rum
  • 2 oz. triple sec
  • 2 oz. amaretto
  • several dashes Southern Comfort
Combine all ingredients is a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Byrrh Cassis

At long last, I have the ingredients for the Byrrh Cassis. It is the only Byrrh cocktail in the entire New York Bartender's Guide, and though Byrrh is pretty versatile, you won't find many recipes that use it. That's because it is a little used gentian infused fortified wine from France. Say what you will, this aperitif lacks the bitter punch of an Italian sweet vermouth or amaro. On the other hand, it has a nice violet and black currant flavor that just matches creme de cassis. So I can see where this drink is going.

I like how this cocktail phases in and out of bitterness and sweetness. It is low in alcohol and good for an afternoon of sipping, but the flavors remain mostly floral and not overly sweet and berry flavored. It is almost a wine spritzer and a good one at that, so grab a wine glass and fill it up with these ingredients when you are in the mood for a soft bubbly berry treat.
  • 2 oz. Byrrh
  • 1 oz. creme de cassis
  • sparkling water
Mix all ingredients in a wine glass and add ice. Stir.

Ostend Fizz

I liked the Ostend Fizz as a fresh lemon and black currant cocktail with fizz. I also liked that it never reverted to blackberry pie flavors. There was a constant shift between berry flavors and dry kirsh cherry brandy whiffs. It wasn't a one note cocktail, and for that, I think it belongs in the cocktail lexicon, and maybe needs to be on next summer's hottest cold drinks list. Here's how to make it.
  • 2 oz. kirschwasser 
  • 1 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 oz. creme de cassis
  • sparkling water
  • lemon slice
Combine kirsch, lemon juice and creme de cassis in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a highball glass full of fresh ice. Top with sparkling water and garnish with a lemon slice.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Free Silver

The Free Silver is part of a series of (usually gin) drinks that achieves an off-white color with either milk or eggs or both. This is a cream drink, but the amount of cream is slight enough that it doesn't add texture, only color. That is a good thing, because cream and lemon juice tend to curdle quickly. There is a method to making this drink that prevents some of that unpleasantness; when done correctly you have a fizzy and tart drink with an opaque off-white color.

For this I used Lyon dark rum and Bombay Sapphire gin, which was a good call. You can really taste the spiciness of dry Bombay Sapphire rising over the sweetness of dark rum. It is not at all disconcerting that the drink has white bubbles.
  • 2 oz. gin (Bombay Sapphire used)
  • 1 oz. dark rum (Lyon Bijou Batch used)
  • 1 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tbsp. milk
  • sparkling water
Combine gin, rum lemon juice and sugar in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled highball glass full of ice. Add sparkling water and milk at the same time and stir.

Shark's Tooth

This is another one of those 90's vintage "shark themed" cocktails that were considered so deadly, and for good reason. This one has a hefty dose of 151-proof rum to make sure that the Shark's Tooth is one you can really feel. Other infamous shark drinks include the Blue Shark and the Shark Attack.

The Shark's Tooth is a lot like a fizzy version of the Lexington Avenue Express. It is so tart and relies on the heat of the rum to balance it, that you feel like you are consuming battery acid. It's not a bad drink for all that, just intense. And when you add soda, the bubbles create even more sensation. Don't say I didn't warn you about this one.
  • 2 oz. 151-proof rum
  • 1 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp simple syrup
  • several dashes grenadine
  • sparkling water
  • lime wedge
Combine all ingredients except lime wedge and soda in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a highball glass full of fresh ice. Top with soda and stir. Garnish with lime wedge.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Jamaica Shake

The Jamaica Shake has a name that's really fun to say. It sound's like you are asking if someone made a shake.... Ok, maybe it's not that funny. I prefer this cocktail over the Torridora Cocktail if only because of the hefty dose of bourbon with its vanilla notes. In a way, cream kind of ruins this drink, and I would rather have the bourbon and rum by themselves. Even with the cream the cocktail is hot and a little bothersome. Bourbon is the main flavor, which is nice, but better if it wasn't in a cocktail to begin with. Cream softens the whole thing, and I get that. But more needs to be done to make this a real cocktail worth it's cool name.
  • 2 oz. bourbon
  • 1 oz. dark rum 
  • 1 oz. half-and-half
 Combine all ingredients in a shaker and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

Torridora Cocktail

I see where this drink is going: it's like an iced coffee with cream. And that should be good enough, in theory, to make a good cocktail. Look, most creamy drinks aren't really all that. I mean, the cream doesn't counter the bitterness of the coffee liqueur or alcohol in general. So when I drank this I was challenged with the bitterness and just trying to enjoy my rum without cream getting in the way. This is not a drink that will satisfy creamy drink fans or rum lovers. I say let it go.
  • 2 oz. light rum
  • 1 tbsp. 151-proof rum 
  • 1 oz. coffee liqueur (homemade coffee liqueur used)
  • 1/2 oz. half-and-half
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Demerara Rum Old Fashioned

This is the revised Rum Old Fashioned I've been talking about. When you have a rum as good and as whiskey-like as Mad River First Run Rum, just make this drink the oaky and sugar bomb that a classic Old Fashioned should be. I used brown sugar and Hella Aromatic Bitters to start this cocktail off. I'm not treating the rum any differently from whiskey. I like a dry Old Fashioned--no muddled orange or cherry. The rum does the rest of the work and the sugar dissolves with bitters to make a beautifully rich rocks sipper.
  • 2 oz. demerara rum (Mad River First Run used)
  • 1 tsp. brown sugar
  • several dashes angostura bitters (Hella Aromatic used)
  • lemon twist
Add brown sugar to a rocks glass and douse with bitters. Drop lemon peel into glass and muddle. Add rum and stir until sugar dissolves. Add ice and stir. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Ankle Breaker

Ankle Breaker is a get-drunk-quick cocktail, hence the name. Drink this and in minutes you can't even walk. This drink takes the title of Most Dangerous Cocktail in my arsenal, supplanting the Cablegram, which is known to cause memory loss. The recipe calls for 151-proof vodka, lime juice, cherry brandy and an optional 1/2 oz. of sugar syrup. I opted out on the sugar. It doesn't matter that this drink is tart, you won't remember drinking it anyway.
  • 2 oz. 151-proof rum
  • 1 oz. cherry brandy (kirshwasser and whishniak used)
  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. sugar syrup (optional)
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain over fresh ice in an Old Fashioned glass.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Big Apple

The Big Apple is really a big drink, and a good one. The recipe calls for it in a parfait glass because the quantity and the look it is going for seems appropriate to such a large dessert container. This is a frozen cocktail, a smoothie of a drink, but it tastes like apple cider slush.

I recommend using real cider over apple juice that might be cut with other fruit juices. That's the first bit of advice I think holds true. Second, make this with real apple brandy and not with applejack, which doesn't really have any flavor to speak of. I used Laird's Old Apple Brandy, which has a rich apple flavor and a good alcoholic kick.

Amaretto is the secret ingredient that holds everything together. I'm fond of the cookie sweet Amaretto Lazzaroni on my bar. It adds a little sweetness where the other ingredients tend to taste pretty hollow by themselves.

This is a big fall treat and perfect for a day of apple picking.
  • 2 oz. apple brandy
  • 1/2 oz. amaretto
  • 1 tbsp. apple sauce
  • 3 oz. apple cider
  • pinch of cinnamon
Combine all ingredients except cinnamon in a blender with ice. Blend until smooth and pour into a parfait glass or highball. Add pinch of cinnamon on top.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Bee's Knees

Here's a mysterious cocktail with a bee in the title but no honey in the drink. That must be because in the 20s and 30s, if something was the bee's knees, it was really good or popular. Kind of like saying something was awesome in the 90s. Mad River demerara rum is a nice aged gold rum to use in this cocktail. There's plenty of vanilla spice and a hint of whiskey in the rum that shows through in the cocktail.
  • 2 oz. gold rum (Mad River First Run rum used)
  • 1/2 oz. orange juice
  • 1/2 oz. lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 3-5 dashes curacao
  • orange peel
Combine all ingredients except orange peel in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the orange twist.

Hudson Bay

I liked this juicy drink, one that stands as a more complex version of a Bronx Cocktail that is just orange juice. Here there is lime and 151-proof rum, albeit in small proportions. Use a dry and spicy gin for this one if you have a choice. You want to taste all the botanicals when juice tends to soften things out. When I was making this, I threw in a pinch of sugar knowing that it would be needed to balance the tartness of the juices. It was a good move.
  • 2 oz. gin
  • 1 oz. cherry brandy (kirschwasser and whishniak used)
  • 1 oz. orange juice
  • 1 tbsp. 151-proof rum
  • 1 tbsp. lime juice
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Lexington Avenue Express

I think that this drink gets its name because it is a quick train ride to drunkenness. 151-proof rum is powerful stuff and sneaks up on you. I limit myself to only one 151 base cocktail. This is very much like tiki cocktails I've had before, but when served on the rocks, you really taste the aged rum. This is a tart drink but easy enough to drink, but be careful that you pace yourself with this one.
  • 2 oz. 151-proof rum
  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • 1 tsp. grenadine
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and pour into an Old Fashioned glass.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Rum Old Fashioned

This is such a good idea, I wholly support it. Just use a rich rum and make an Old Fashioned in the glass. Here's the rub, if you have a good demerara sugar rum, why just use it as a topper?

I have to keep in mind that the NY Bartender's guide I'm blogging on is from the early 90s and it was unlikely that anyone would have a good rum other than Bacardi Silver, so this is a compromise. There's also the function of making cocktails of spreading out the good stuff so you get drunk on good flavors without breaking the bank.

This is still a great drink. I used Mad River First Run rum, with is a rum produced from rich cane sugar, not molasses, and aged in new oak barrels (or formerly bourbon barrels, depending on who you ask at the distillery.) It is strong and flavorful. You can see it sitting on top of the white rum and sugar mixture. The lime twist is a nice touch.

For real Old Fashioned fans, I would recommend this adjustment:

Make the Old Fashioned with a lemon peel and brown sugar muddled in a splash of soda until it dissolves. Add bitters and ice and stir the demerara rum in. The recipe as it stands is as follows:
  • 2 oz. white rum 
  • 1 tbsp. 151-proof (or overproof) demerara rum
  • 1/2 tsp. simple syrup
  • dash Angostura bitters (Hella aromatic bitters used)
  • lime twist
Combine bitters and simple syrup in an Old Fashioned glass. Add ice and stir. Add white rum and stir again. Top with demerara rum and lime twist.

Rum Punch (Tiki version)

This is another blended rum punch drink that's pretty strong. Unusually, it is also a very sugary cocktail with so much brown sugar, white sugar and grenadine. With a sweet and caramel flavored dark rum, it is enough to rot your teeth. I recommend dropping one tablespoon in the brown sugar proportions just to keep it from getting syrupy. If you are using a dry dark rum like El Dorado, though, you might want the sugar.

Again, this is an ugly drink by itself. It needs dressing up. A chill tiki mug like this one, mint and orange slice make the drink look as special on the outside as it is on the inside.
  • 3 oz. dark rum (Lyon Biju Batch used)
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. grenadine
  • 1 1/2 oz. lime juice
Combine all ingredients in a blender with ice. Blend until smooth and pour into a highball glass. Alternatively, go all out with a tiki mug and random garnishes. 

Myrtle Bank Punch (Tiki version)

As punches go, this is pretty typical for a rum punch. The thing that sets it apart is that it calls for an all 151-proof rum dose. No other rums, like in the Planter's Punch or Zombie, are used, so the only rum flavor comes from aged overproof rum.

What's 151-proof rum? It's really strong rum that's not proofed-down, or watered down for sale. It comes off the still at 75% alcohol and is aged a short while before being bottled.

Why can't I get Bacardi 151 anymore? It is so strong that Bacardi has opted to pull the product in the face of lawsuits from restaurant guests who get burned from flaming desserts and drinks. In steps Cruzan 151, which has no flame guard and a smaller warning label. I'm not sure this is a safe thing, and I am a little intimidated to drink it. It turns out that my caution was necessary. I had only one 151 cocktail and it was quite enough even for me.

But I think it is too soon to ignore the benefits of 151-proof rum. A cocktail like this can have so much more juice and other flavors and use so little a proportion of rum and still be very strong. 151-proof rum is also tasty when mixed, unlike blended down white rums. Try this drink and see for yourself.
  • 2 oz 151-proof rum
  • 1 oz. maraschino liqueur (I used Luxardo and a little cherry wishniak I made a while ago.)
  • 1 1/2 oz. lime juice
  • 1 tsp. grenadine
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
Combine all ingredients in a blender with ice. Blend until smooth. Pour into a chilled highball glass. Note: this drink looks really boring in a clear glass with no garnishes. Get out an angry tiki mug and top it with mint and a cherry. I used a vodka-soaked cherry so that the flavor fits the overall cherry flavor of the cocktail.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Pernod Flip

Whoever came up with this drink was either a genius or insane. Yes, you can flip any spirit, but it's more fun to flip something weird like Pernod with its intense anise flavor. This cuts through the creaminess in the way that old world cookies with anise flavor can me sweet and delicate but also spice-assertive.

This recipe calls of orgeat syrup, which I made special for the drink. With proportions, I felt that there's a chance it can become too creamy, so I cut a half ounce off the half-and-half and upped the orgeat component by equally as much. You get a nuttiness and floral aroma that accompanies the nutmeg and anise.
  • 2 oz. Pernod
  • 1 1/2 oz. half-and-half (use 1 oz.)
  • whole egg
  • 1/2 oz. orgeat syrup (use 1 oz.)
  • ground nutmeg
Combine all ingredients except nutmeg in a blender with ice. Blend until smooth and pour into a sour glass. Garnish with nutmeg.

Sherry Flip

Lately I've been Flipping things. Whiskey and rum and port are the most common Flips, drinks made with egg and nutmeg and sometimes a little cream. Flips are like eggnog, really like eggnog, but you can make them with any number of base spirits. They are serious throwbacks in the cocktail cookbook, back when raw egg and cream were a fun after dinner treat.

And you should treat these drinks as a dessert, our colonial forefathers did. They are delicious by high calorie drinks that help send you off to sleep, but don't really get you drunk.
  • 2 oz. fino sherry
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar (1/4 oz. simple syrup used)
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1/2 oz. half-and-half
  • grated nutmeg
Combine all ingredients in a shaker and shake like hell. Add ice and shake again to chill. Strain into a goblet or sour glass. Garnish with nutmeg.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Pernod Frappe

What an awesomely frothy dessert drink! I really like the licorice and anise flavors of Pernod and ouzo, both of which become a great eggnog like treat when mixed with egg whites. This is one to do the dry shake first--shake with only liquid ingredients before adding ice and shaking again--to make sure that the egg white gets nice and fomy.

The recipe calls for anisette, but ouzo is pretty much the same thing, just made in Greece, not France. Meltemi ouzo is really a nice treat here, and it intensifies the licorice flavor. 
  •  2 oz. Pernod
  • 1/2 oz. anisette (Meltemi ouzo used)
  • 1 oz. half-and-half
  • 1 egg white
Combine all ingredients in a shaker and shake vigorously. Add ice and shake to chill. Strain it into a chilled cocktail glass. 

International Cocktail

I swear that I've made this drink before, but then it was just another cocktail that spans Europe with its spirits. The idea is simple. French cognac and Pernod, Italian triple sec, Russian vodka keep the drink going. Vodka seems to have an important part in the cocktail despite its small proportions. I was surprised how balanced the drink was, and I think it was the vodka giving the ingredients space to shine.

Pernod is the obvious flavor here, but it is softened by the triple sec and cognac so that you get bitter orange flavors and oak. I think this is one of the better Pernod cocktails, especially for someone who doesn't like the anise flavor as much.
  • 2 oz. cognac
  • 1/2 oz. triple sec
  • 1/2 oz. Pernod
  • 2 tsp. vodka
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.