Friday, August 31, 2018

South Pacific

There's no liqueur that represents the Pacific Ocean in the way that Caribbean rum or Scotch represent the Atlantic. That opens the door to vodka (mainly) or brandy, which comes in handy as the brown spirit in exotic drinks.

I really like this cocktail. That may be because I like brandy and Martell cognac is the clean tasting spirit that a punch-like drink needs. But I also appreciate the need for vodka to control for color and also to keep the drink strong. It wouldn't do to just add more brown spirit in this instance when vodka can thin out the richness and keep the drink bright.
  • 2 oz. brandy (Martell VS used)
  • 1 oz. vodka (MurLarkey Divine Clarity used)
  • 3 oz. pineapple juice
  • 1 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/4 oz. grenadine
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled sour glass. 


Capri is a beautiful island on Italy's coast, full of high end shops and terraced houses. What the hell does this drink have to do with that. I could see using Galliano in this to make it Italian, but this is just a chocolate banana dessert drink.

On the bright side, you don't have to use a really sweet creme de bananes--the creme de cacao is sweet enough. MurLarkey makes a banana whiskey that is not sweet, has natural banana flavor, and a great whiskey taste that gives dessert drinks more traction.
  • 1 oz. creme de cacao
  • 1 oz. creme de bananes (MurLarkey banana whiskey used)
  • 1 oz. half-and-half
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled Old Fashioned glass full of fresh ice. 

Fish House Punch

The name is self-explanatory. It must be a house punch at a restaurant named Fish House, right? I was a little mystified by the ingredients. It teeters between a rich dark rum punch of colonial times and a fresh, bright summer punch for beach drinking.

In practice, when you add as much water as dark rum and basically make lemonade in the punch bowl, you are making a summer punch that is very drinkable and more than a little suggestive of summer peaches.
  • 2 liters dark rum (Pampero used)
  • 1 liter cognac (Martell VS used)
  • 4 oz. peach brandy (Bird Dog peach whiskey used)
  • 1 liter lemon juice
  • 2 liters bottled spring water
  •  peach slices
Add sugar, lemon juice, and spring water to a large punch bowl. Stir to dissolve the sugar, then add rum and brandies. Refrigerate at least an hour before serving. Then add large block ice and peach slices for garnishes.  

Pacific Pacifier

I think that as far as dessert drink names go, this cocktail acts exactly as advertising. There is no spirit that represents the Pacific Ocean, but anything tropical tasting, like banana and orange, will suffice. There's also the pacifier part of the name. It could just be calming, a nightcap for adults, but one can't help think of baby pacifiers and a baby's love of milk.

Here Cointreau is a must to prevent the cocktail from being overly sweet, which cheap triple sec will do. Then the drink calls for banana liqueur, and I thought that banana rum (which is just as sweet) would do fine. It did!
  • 1 1/2 oz. Cointreau
  • 1 oz. creme de bananes (Cruzan banana rum used)
  • 1 oz. half-and-half
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled Old Fashioned glass full of fresh ice. 

Saturday, August 25, 2018


This is one huge drink, and a strong one. This would seem appropriate--the name Frankenjack seems a bit threatening, like it's the name of some old world monster. And the portion size here is monstrous.

I used MurLarkey ImaGination gin, which was a good call because you can still taste some of the earthier botanicals through all that liqueur. Rivata vermouth was also pleasingly present alongside the cheap Jacquin's apricot brandy (I'm out of my homemade stuff.) And I opted for cheap, sugary triple sec over Cointreau or orange spirit because I figured that either would be wasted here.

The result was a surprisingly easy cocktail for drinking, despite the power of all the spirits. In addition, the dry vermouth cut through the liqueurs very nicely and made for a sweet, but not too sweet, rocks sipper.
  • 2 oz. gin (MurLarkey ImaGination used)
  • 1 oz. apricot brandy
  • 1 oz. dry vermouth (Rivata used)
  • 1 oz. triple sec
  • maraschino cherry
Combine liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled Old Fashioned glass full of fresh ice. Garnish with the cherry. 

Jersey Lightning

I'm not a big fan of this drink. It is another example of an apple brandy cocktail that is completely unbalanced with lime juice and no sugar. It's as if the bartender decided that apple brandy was sweet enough to handle two ounces of lime juice, which it is not.

I get where it is going, though. Lightning implies a shockingly tart drink, and this one is. Jersey is the home state of Laird's distillery. That was why I had to use the last of my Apple Jack 86 (100% apple brandy) for this cocktail. Punt E Mes blew the drink out in the other direction, adding so much earthy bitterness. I broke down and added a half teaspoon of sugar syrup because I just couldn't take it.

Here is the recipe as it is printed with notes to help fix the problems that this cocktail has.
  • 2 oz. apple brandy (Laird's Apple Jack 86 used)
  • 1 oz. sweet vermouth (Martini and Rossi recommended, but Punt E Mes used)
  • 2 oz. lime juice (1/2 tsp. sugar syrup recommended for balance)
 Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Vodka Grasshopper

This is a simple recipe intended to strengthen the potency of the famous Grasshopper, but here vodka takes the place of the cream. I rather liked the change. While I would still consider the Vodka Grasshopper a dessert drink, it no longer resembles a scoop of mint chocolate chip ice cream. If you make the drink according to the original recipe, be careful to have a large cocktail glass--its a whopping six ounces! It's also strong. Feel free to scale it down to your liking as I did.
  • 2 oz. vodka
  • 2 oz. green creme de menthe
  • 2 oz. white creme de cacao
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 


This pretty drink is designed to taste like those European sandwich cookies flavored with almond, cocoa, and orange zest. The recipe calls for chocolate liqueur. I used MurLarkey cocoa whiskey--which is not a liqueur. I added a half teaspoon of sugar to sweeten the half ounce of cocoa whiskey in the drink.

My Macaroon turned out very good, rich but not too sweet. Cocoa whiskey has a little more rawness of cocoa nibs and grain liqueur--it's not as smooth as creme de cacao. A large orange zest twisted over the drink and rubbed on the rim really helps cut the surgery ingredients.
  • 3 oz. vodka (Divine Clarity used)
  • 1/2 oz. chocolate liqueur (MurLarkey cocoa whiskey and a half tsp. sugar syrup used)
  • 1/2 oz. amaretto
  • orange twist
Combine liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Twist orange peel over the drink and drop it in the glass. 


There's lots of ways to get the vanilla flavor into a Creamsicle cocktail. You can add vanilla extract or use a vanilla liqueur. I infused Divine Clarity vodka with a vanilla bean and added sugar to it to make a vanilla vodka.

The cocktail is designed to taste like an orange ice cream pop, and it does. More or less of any ingredient throws off the balance and you notice that it is actually alcoholic or that it is too sweet.Follow this recipe to get the exact flavor that was intended.

For making the vanilla vodka: infuse one vanilla bean in a cup of vodka for two weeks. Remove the bean and add 1 oz. of sugar syrup and store it in an airtight container. Now here's the recipe.
  • 2 oz. vanilla liqueur (vanilla vodka used)
  • 4 oz. orange juice
  • 2 oz. half-and-half
  • orange slice
Combine liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a highball glass full of fresh ice. Garnish with the orange twist. 

Flying Grasshopper

There's no cream in this blended version of the Grasshopper, that famous mint chocolate dessert drink we all know, love, or hate. Blended ice changes the dark green color of the creme de menthe into the bright, creamy look of the original.

I like that the proportion of vodka is greater hear then the cremes. I'm showing off the Divine Clarity vodka in its MurLarkey distillery glass. This is the only Grasshopper served in an Old Fashioned glass and the only one with four parts vodka to one of each liqueur.
  • 2 oz. vodka
  • 1/2 oz. creme de menthe
  • 1/2 oz. white creme de cacao
Combine all ingredients in a blender with cracked ice. Blend until smooth and pour into a chilled Old Fashioned glass. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Bermuda Rose

This lovely photo by Ned Drummond shows off this interesting combo cocktail. I call it that because there are two families of drinks involved. The Rose family of drinks (or the broader flower category including Orange Blossom drinks.) These are usually served up.

The other family of drinks is the Bermuda themed drinks. These always include brandy or apricot brandy. It must be a thing. The Bermuda Rose has the pinkness of the Bermuda Bouquet and Rose cocktails but it also has a limey citrus and gin center. Apricot brandy only sweetens it a bit, as does the grenadine.
  • 2 oz. gin
  • 1 tbsp. lime juice
  • 2 tsp. apricot brandy
  • 2 tsp. grenadine
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Satrain over ice cubes in a chilled Old Fashioned glass. 

Maiden's Blush

(Photo by Ned Drumond)
As you'd expect, the Maiden's blush is a pink drink. It is part of the family of Maiden drinks that have gin and orange liqueur. For this drink I used Rose's grenadine to make sure it had the right pink shade. Instead of triple sec, I used Vitae orange liqueur because it is stronger and a little goes a long way with aromatics.
  • 2 oz. gin
  • 1/2 tsp. triple sec (Vitae orange liqueur)
  • 1/2 tsp. grenadine
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon juice
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Damn The Weather

This is a potent and tongue lashing cocktail for heavy weather. I've been waiting to make it when the mood or the spirits were right. When I got Icelandic Vor gin, I knew the time had come. Iceland is known for its chilly weather and pure water. They make delightful gin too!

Icelandic Vor is made with barley and locally grown juniper. These two flavors dominate this spirit, especially the barley. I don't know if it is malted, but the base is very close to how Copper Fox Vir Gin tastes--like it's not a neutral spirit at all. There's a bit of whiskey funk in it, and the higher proof (47%) means that there's a lot of intensity too.

One last note, I made this with Punt E Mes vermouth and the cocktail was mouth-smashingly bitter and herbal. You could do the same to get the effect, which was nice. But a London dry gin and French sweet vermouth would make a much tamer drink. Then again, when the weather is bad, why would you want to do that?
  • 2 oz. gin (Icelandic Vor used)
  • 1 tbsp. sweet vermouth (Punt E Mes used)
  • 2 tsp. triple sec
  • 1/2 oz. orange juice
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

Apricot Lady

I made this cocktail at work where I keep my house made apricot brandy. The other bartenders agree that the apricot flavor needs to be front and center, so after making a first go I added a little more apricot brandy.

What I like about the Apricot Lady is that it is very light and drinkable, easy to make, and probably satisfying to those guests who are not big drinkers. The egg white foam on top is a nice touch, but it is the simplicity of serving it on the rocks that won't turn off men looking for a strong drink with a feminine name.
  • 1 1/2 oz. light rum (Bacardi used)
  • 1 oz. apricot brandy (homemade apricot brandy used)
  • 1/2 tsp. triple sec
  • 1 tbsp. lime juice
  • 1 egg white
  • orange slice
Combine liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain out the ice and re-shake for foam. Pour into an Old Fashioned glass full of fresh ice and garnish with the orange slice. 

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Savoy Hotel (Revisited)

I was writing about the Brandy Melba earlier--a drink named after a recipe at the Savoy Hotel--and I recalled that I wanted to take another try at the Savoy Hotel layered cocktail. I have dark creme de cacao, which is necessary for building the heavy sugar bottom layer. Benedictine is less sweet and can sit on top of it.

Martell single distillery cognac is dry and clean tasting, but it isn't much stronger than Benedictine. A lot of care is necessary with this final layer. You really have to be careful. Use a half teaspoon held upside down and placed inside the second layer to do this right. Then pour the cognac down the handle so it spreads out onto the Benedictine. It also helps to up the quantity of the alcohol to make the layers more visible.
  • 3/4 oz. dark creme de cacao
  • 3/4 oz. Benedictine
  • 3/4 oz. brandy (cognac please)
Pour each liquor over a spoon into a pousse cafe glass, gently layering them in the order that they are listed.

Diamond Head

I'm not sure if this cocktail is named after the Hawaii volcano state monument on Oahu, but it is monumental. Look at that head of foam that tops this potent drink! Gin and apricot brandy with lemon  juice are a perfect combination you see over and over. Then there's egg white, which makes this cocktail a lot like a gin sour with apricot.

MurLarkey ImaGination gin is a good choice for this drink because it has a hefty botanical load that keeps things interesting where other gins would get overwhelmed by egg white and lemon juice.
  • 2 oz. gin (ImaGination used)
  • 1/2 oz. apricot brandy
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 egg white
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

Chelsea Sidecar

A drink named after the posh London neighborhood of Chelsea requires a posh London gin. Boodles is the much-asked-for classic dry gin from London. You won't see it in the U.S. that much, and much less now that American gin is all the rage. But there is something to be said of an old standard. And while the Gin Sidecar is slowly giving way to it original brandy forebears, a Boodles Sidecar is still smashing, baby.
  • 2 oz. gin (Boodles used)
  • 1/2 oz. triple sec
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

Apple Annie's Fruit Punch

This punch was delicious, fun and easy to make. It is the perfect punch for summer afternoons and picnics. I was afraid at first that it would be too strong for my guests, but it was very balanced once the sodas were added. The fresh fruit is also a nice touch. In addition to oranges, lemons, apples and raspberries, I added farm fresh blueberries.

The spirit I used here was Laird's Applejack 86. It was strong enough to taste under all the juice, but a real apple brandy and not some jacked cider, weak with no taste.
  • 1 bottle or 1 liter apple brandy (Laird's used)
  • 3 oz. raspberry liqueur (Chambord used)
  • 10 0z orange juice
  • 8 oz. grapefruit juice
  • 2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 liter ginger ale
  • 1 liter sparkling water or lemon lime soda
  • 1 apple sliced thin
  • 1 lemon sliced thin
  • 12-15 raspberries
Combine applejack, raspberry liqueur and fruit juices in a large punch bowl and stir well. Refrigerate for an hour and add a large block of ice before serving. Add the sodas and fruit just before serving and stir again. Serves 20.

Pendennis Club Cocktail

I was surprised at how elegant this cocktail was. Tart, yet bitter, a bit harsh but well balanced--sort of like on the edge of comfort that is more exciting than unpleasant. If that's not an endorsement, than it is just best to say that the Pendennis Club is classic and requires appreciation and the right ingredients.

The recipe calls for Peychaud's bitters, and I used the maximum amount, five dashes, to provide the pink color and the dry bitterness it is known for. I also wanted a strong and less juniper tasting gin, so Battle Standard Navy Strength it was. My own apricot brandy made up the sweetness.
  • 2 oz. gin (Battle Standard Navy Strength used)
  • 1 oz. apricot brandy
  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • 3-5 dashes Peuchaud's bitters
  • 1 tsp. sugar syrup
 Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Creamy Screwdriver

The Screwdriver is as common as dirt. Not that it's bad. It serves a function of being easy to make and refreshing. But the more uncommon Creamy Screwdriver has egg yolk and is blended. It doesn't get more unusual than that.

And it's good. Blending egg yolk adds a thickness that is hard to identify. It is creamy, helped along by a creamy vodka like Divine Clarity. It is the perfect early afternoon smoothie that doubles as lunch and a drink.
  • 2 oz. vodka (Divine Clarity used)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 6 oz. orange juice
Combine all ingredients in a blender with ice and blend until smooth. Pour into a chilled highball glass. 


This is one of the more tart cocktails I've ever had. 2 oz. of lemon juice are mouth-puckeringly sour. If you sit with it a while, though, you start to recognize the sweetness of the apple brandy and see that it isn't so bad. A lot like seeing by moonlight, your senses have to adjust.

This is the first cocktail I've made with a new product from Laird's distillery--Applejack 86. The label states that the spirit is 100-percent apple brandy. The "applejack" appellation works to make the spirit more folksy and more like the ever-popular whiskey. Brandy is not a spirit that's in favor right now, so that makes sense. This was an easy cocktail to make, but not a great introduction to apple brandy.
  • 2 oz. apple brandy
  • 2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar syrup
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail Old Fashioned glass full of fresh ice.

Brandy Melba

This cocktail of the Melba family is supposed to imitate a dessert named after the Australian singer Nellie Melba. The dessert, called the Peach Melba, was invented by the chef of New York's Savoy Hotel, also the site of many cocktails in its heyday.

I felt it necessary to hurry up and feature this cocktail while fresh peaches are available, even though no fresh peach is used besides the garnish. Cognac here please, and in this case it is Martell Single Distillery for its dry cleanness. There's plenty of sweet ingredients in the recipe to compensate.

It's a fittingly French set of ingredients with Chambord in there as well. For the rest I used peach whiskey by Evan Williams.
  • 2 oz. brandy (Martell cognac please)
  • 1/2 oz. raspberry liqueur (Chambord used)
  • 1/2 oz. peach brandy (Evan Williams peach whiskey used)
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 3-5 dashes orange bitters (homemade bitters used)
  •  peach slice
Combine liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with the peach slice.