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.