Friday, December 6, 2019

Baracuda #2

I take it that the Baracuda name suggests a tropical drink. The #2, however is simple with classic lines, a far cry from the tiki-style pineapple shell drink called Baracuda #1. The flavors of fresh grapefruit juice, gin, and Benedictine are made for each other. MurLarkey ImaGination gin, with it's basil and malty tasting botanicals is a perfect match.
  • 1 oz. gin (MurLarkey ImaGination used)
  • 1 oz. Benedictine
  • 2 oz. grapefruit juice
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

Virgin Cocktail

The is an old recipe from Harry Craddock's Savoy Cocktail Book. The recipe calls for the now defunct Forbidden Fruit spirit that was availible during Craddock's time but is no longer on the market. Fortunately I have reproduced this citrus and honey cognac spirit for use in these classic cocktails.

The recipe also says the drink is one third dry gin. I decided that with all the bright flavors of mint and grapefruit/ pomelo peel in this cocktail, that a wet spirit would also do well. Particularly a prohibition era style spirit that approximates an older style of gin. That is Bol's Genever. The choice may have been a mistake. The two liqueurs, creme de menthe and Forbidden Fruit, may have already been too syrupy and needed a dry gin to clean things up. On the other hand, I enjoyed the richness and was glad that my gin choice stayed in the background and allowed me to appreciate the interplay of flavors.

Mint and grapefruit are great flavors in cocktails. The Virgin Cocktail allows you to have them together in liquor form--no juice added! The herb and citrus flavors are perfectly balanced. It made for a strong drink that could be enjoyed over a long time, appreciating the rich spices of the Forbidden Fruit as it warmed up.
  • 1 oz. Forbidden Fruit (homemade recipe used)
  • 1 oz. dry gin (Bol's Genever used but a dry gin may be more appropriate)
  • 1 oz. white creme de menthe
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

Amsterdamer (Original Cocktial)

I picked up this bottle of barrel-aged Bol's Genever. It is one of a few precursors to modern gin. The difference is that it is a spirit that is distilled from maltwine and infused with botanicals. That is to say, unlike gin, genever has a malted barley base and the flavors are not added during distillation but after.

All of this makes Bol's very rich with darker malty flavors with a body closer to whiskey since it is barrel aged for eighteen months. It lends itself well to a boozy, whiskey-like drink like this one.
  • 2 oz. Bol's Barrel Aged Genever
  • 1 oz. benedictine
  • maraschino cherry 
Combine liquid ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir to chill. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with the cherry. 


This simple cocktail dresses up a basic Screwdriver with the rich herbal flavor of Benedictine. I love how it is surprisingly familiar, yet special--a holiday treat that you don't usually enjoy throughout the whole year.

Benedictine is a brandy spirit from France that is forty proof and flavored with fruits and herbs. It shares some similarities with the stronger Alpine spirit, Green Chartreuse.
  • 1 oz. Benedictine
  • 1 oz. vodka (Belvedere used)
  • 4 oz. orange juice
  • (optional citrus and cherry garnish)
Build the drink in a chilled highball glass full of ice with vodka and Benedictine, then top with orange juice and stir. Garnish at will. 

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Bombay Government Punch

This is a terrific punch for all seasons: tart and sweet, rummy and strong, and well spiced. It is more colonial than Tiki, as it's name suggests. According to Chowhound, this punch is one of the regulated punches of colonial Bombay's punch houses. 

It makes use of an unusual ingredient--Batavia Arrack. This is a forerunner to rum; a cane spirit that uses yeast from fermented rice in its mash. It tastes like a cross between rum and tequila with a funky rice note in the finish. My other choice for the rum is Rhum Barbancourt. I love this stuff. It is well aged but light because it is not a molasses rum. It has a fun, funky flavor of fresh pressed cane sugar from Hati. 

The other colonial addition to this punch is the turbinado sugar syrup. You can make this by boiling 2 cups of turbinado sugar, a rich unrefined sugar, in one cup of water and allowing it to cool.
  • 2 cups Demerara or turbinado sugar (turbinado used)
  • 7 cups water
  • 12 limes
  • 16 ounces Batavia arrack
  • 1 quart dark, funky rum Rhun Barbancourt used)
  • Grated nutmeg, for garnish
Make the sugar syrup and allow it to cool. Add the sugar, rums, lime juice and water to a large punch bowl and stir. Refrigerate for one hour before serving. Cut lime slices to float on top for garnishes and grate nutmeg over the bowl. Add large cakes of ice just before serving.

Virginia Commonwealth Cocktail (Original Recipe)

This cocktail is very Virginia-centric, with two ingredients coming from the Old Dominion. (Local bitters could also be used but that would mean using something from D.C.) This variation on an Manhattan has a lot of orange and apple flavors as well as herbal notes to keep the rye interesting.

Catoctin Creek from Purcellville, VA, has a unique bite to its 100% rye formulation. It loves being mixed with amari like Ramazzotti, which gives this cocktail an orange flavor. Mt. Defiance Distillery makes a piquant apple brandy and wine-based vermouth that is tawny and sweet. Alone it doesn't carry off the cocktail, but with Ramazzotti it is nicely rounded with bitterness. Hella orange bitters tighten everything up, as does the orange zest.
  • 3 oz. Catoctin Creek rye
  • 1/2 oz. Mt. Defiance sweet vermouth
  • 1/2 oz. Ramazzotti
  • 3 dashes Hella orange bitters
  • orange zest
Combine liquid ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the orange zest. 

Strega Daiquiri

I can't believe that this Daiquiri concept never came to me in all my mixing at home. Strega, instead of sugar syrup, is an excellent choice for making a flavored Daiquiri. You can't do it without rum, however. Flor de Cana Extra Seco is a good choice for that--a flavorful white rum that lends itself naturally to Daiquiris but doesn't fight the Strega.

This drinks departs so far from the traditional Daiquiri, and yet it is familiar. Lemon and orange juice replace lime. Orgeat replaces sugar syrup.

A rich orgeat is perfect in this cocktail. I'm surprised that more Daiquiris don't specify orgeat in some way. The balance of this drink is exceptional, between sweet and sour and bitter and nutty.
  • 1 oz. Strega
  • 1 oz. light rum (Flor de Cana Extra Seco used)
  • 1/2 oz. orange juice
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. orgeat to taste
  • maraschino cherry
Combine liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry.

Witch's Promise (Original Cocktail)

This cocktail is as good for summer months as it is in the fall and winter, provided you have the herbs for the garnish. I dedicated this drink to Jethro Tull's song by the same name in which the witch is looked for as a bringer of blessings as well as curses. The apearance of Strega (the witch's liqueur) is appropriate, but so are other medicinal ingredients.

This is the first time I used MurLarkey honey whiskey in a cocktail for this blog. This whiskey is sweet tasting but has very little sugar, as the honey comb is added to the barrel but spun out of the final product before bottling. It is made once a year in very small batches, so it is hard to come by. Fans in Virginia keep a lookout for when Papi harvests honey from his hives. There's lemon, tonic water, passion fruit syrup, and basil and dill as garnishes as well.
  • 1 1/2 oz. MurLarkey Honey whiskey
  • 1 oz. Strega
  • 1/2 oz. passion fruit syrup
  • 1 oz. lemon juice
  • tonic water (Fever Tree light tonic used)
  • basil leaf and dill sprig (optional garnishes)
Combine the first four ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled Double Old Fashioned glass full of fresh ice. Top with tonic water and stir gently. Garnish with herbs.

Bali Hai (Revisited)

I'm told that this pseudo-Tiki cocktail was just about everywhere back in the 1950s and1960s. That is probably because it is named after a song in South Pacific. The drink is very evocative of Hawaiian cocktails of that time, if a little bit too tart. The proportions in the New York Bartender's guide are all out of wack--not that they are themselves wrong, they just make enough for two drinks, and I'm sure that can't be right.

I've re-done this cocktail because I wanted to make use of Aguardiente. When originally researching this recipe, I thought that any white fruit or cane spirit would work for Aguardiente--a generic name for white alcohol in South America. But I've come to understand that the drink requires the sweet anise flavored spirit that is native to Columbia. Aguardiente is made from sugar cane and sweetened, so it really helps balance all the citrus in this recipe. I'm still including the recipe as it was originally printed with the caviat that it makes two servings.
  • 2 oz. light rum (Flor de Cana Extra Seco used)
  • 1 oz. Aguardiente
  • 2 oz. lemon juice
  • 2 oz. lime juice
  • 1 tsp. orgeat syrup
  • 1 tsp. grenadine (I recommend 2 tsp.)
  • chilled sparkling wine or champagne
Combine all ingredients except for sparkling wine in a blender with cracked ice. Blend on high for a few seconds and pour into a large hurricane glass or tiki mug, Top with sparkling wine and stir. Garnish liberally.

Bee Sting

This cocktail is easy to make and relies on the herbaceous Benedictine and the vanilla notes of bourbon to dress up ordinary orange juice. This is one of the few cocktails I've made with Ragged Branch bourbon from Charolottesville, VA.

This is not an original cocktail, nor is it a classic. It was created by Benedictine as a suggestion for using their spirit. Sometimes I find that they are really on the mark with their recipes. Other times, I feel that I'm better at mixing with the sweet liqueur. But when I'm pressed for options, I'll often take any suggestion availalble.
  • 1 oz. Bourbon (Ragged Branch wheated used)
  • 1 oz. Benedictine
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 2 oz. orange juice
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled highball glass full of fresh ice. Garnish at will.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Ubecherovka (Original Recipe)

This is is an original cocktail using the Czech herbal liqueur, Becherovka, gin and honey syrup. It was dry and pleasingly herbaceous in nose and flavor.

Filibuster's Dual Cask gin is aged in whiskey and wine barrels. It has only four botanicals, but that makes it easily mixable with dry or dessert drinks. In this case it gets out of the way of the Becherovka, which is honeyed and sweet. Honey, therefore, is a perfect sweetener to balance the acid of the lemon juice. Just to punch up the herbal scent, I dropped an anise star on top.
  • 2 oz. Filibuster Dual Cask gin
  • 1 oz. Becherovka 
  • 1 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. honey syrup
  • anise star
Combine liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Float the anise star on top. 


Nightmare and Nightmare Abbey (Revisited)


The Nightmare cocktail with its unusual mix of gin, Madiera and cherry brandy rises again from the recesses of lost cocktail lore. I've found no mention as to why the drink has this name. Nor is there a satisfying origin story that explains the darkness of this creation. For this iteration, I modernized it a little and tried to fit it into a Halloween theme.

The Nightmare is good; a wine and rich cherry brandy-forward kind of drink provided you use a dry gin like Roku as I did. This is a modern tasting gin with green tea and cherry blossom flavors. These play well with the aromatics of the drink. I also decided that the teaspoon of orange juice gave me license to make a bat-shaped orange twist garnish. This isn't hard with a little artistic vision and a sharp knife. I might have gotten carried away, but I encourage you to do so as well. It's not everyday we get to enjoy a nightmare.
  • 2 oz. gin (Roku used)
  • 1 oz. Madeira (a rainwater medium recommended)
  • 1 oz. Cherry Heering
  • 1 tsp. fresh squeezed orange juice
  • bat-shaped orange zest
Combine all liquid ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir (yes, Stir! This drink looks better without cloudiness of shaking) and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the bat-shaped zest.

Nightmare Abbey:

It stands to reason that the unusual addition of Madiera in a drink like the Nightmare would have a derivative using Dubonnet Rouge, the bittersweet French wine aperitif with the bold red color. This drink very nearly approximates a mashup of the Abbey cocktail and the Nightmare but uses the Dubonnet in place of the Lillet Blanc.

It also turns out that this drink might be named after the 19th century Gothic comedy novel by the same name. There's something appropriate about a rich, red cherry and wine cocktail. Here, MurLarkey's ImaGination, even in its small proportion, stands out as herbaceous and bitter behind all that sweetness. 
  • 1 1/2 oz. Dubonnet Rouge
  • 1 oz. gin (ImaGination used)
  • 1/2 oz. Cherry Heering 
  • 1 oz. orange juice (pulp free recommended)
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Abbey (with Battle Standard Barrel Finished Gin)

The Abbey is a pleasing drink with lots of bitter and sweet orange flavors. I love how balanced that it is, and Lillet Blanc and gin are just classic pairings that will please most cocktail drinkers.

For this cocktail, I chose K.O. Distillery's Barrel Finished gin. It has round citrus notes and an almost tea-like flavor. All of this perfectly complemented this Golden Age of Cocktails special, which I enjoyed at Vermilion restaurant in Old Town Alexandria.
  • 1 1/2 oz. gin (Battle Standard Barrel Finished gin used)
  • 1 1/2 oz. Lillet Blanc
  • 1 oz. orange juice
  • 3-5 dashes orange bitters (Regan's used)
  • orange twist (optional)
Combine all liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Twist orange zest over the glass and drop it in. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Pumpkin Spice Old Fashioned (Original Recipe)

To make this drink, I made a basic PSL syrup with turbinado sugar and spices. This was a quick solution to flavoring the syrup of a classic cocktail. The other special touch for this fall drink was the pumpkin-shaped orange zest. I'll deal with the instructions for these first.

Pumpkin spice is really a combination of lots of spices from the tropical regions of the world. Combine in a saucepan 5 allspice berries, 5 cloves, 5 cardamom pods, 12 anise seeds, and a half cup of dark sugar like turbinado or demerara. Add 1/4 cup of water and stir on medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Once the mixture comes to a boil, remove it from the heat and allow it to cool. (I added 1 tsp. MurLarkey cinnamon whiskey because it adds flavor and preserves the syrup.

To make the pumpkin-shaped garnish, simply use a peeler to cut a broad zest from a large naval orange. Be careful not to get any pith--that is a sign you cut the peel too deeply. Use a sharp knife to cut the shape of the pumpkin from the widest part of the zest. (using a pattern cut from card stock may be helpful for those lacking artistic skills.) Cut out a Jack-O-Lantern face of your desire and save for the cocktail.
  • 2 oz. whiskey (MurLarkey Heritage used)
  • 1 tsp. basic PSL syrup
  • 1 dash aromatic bitters (Hella used)
  • pumpkin-shaped zest garnish
Combine all ingredients except garnish in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain over large ice cubes in a chilled Old Fashioned glass. Garnish with the orange zest.

Virginia Moss (Original Recipe)

Like the Spanish Moss cocktail, this drink combines coffee and mint spirits for a rich sipping cocktail on the rocks. It occurred to me that MurLarkey coco whiskey and coffee whiskey would taste especially good together with mint, and that creme de menthe would be all the sugar that the cocktail would need.

The visual effect is pretty. This is a very dark liquid with a greenish tint around the ice cubes that looks like moss growing on rocks. The taste was good too. Not too sweet or overly minty. The coffee and chocolate come through.
  • 1 oz. MurLarkey coffee whiskey
  • 1 oz. MurLarkey coco whiskey
  • 1 oz. green creme de menthe
Combine spirits in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain over large ice cubes in an Old Fashioned glass. 

Savory Tart (Original Recipe)

I came up with this cocktail for a guest who wanted a savory cocktail with basil. I knew immediately I wanted to use aquavit. The addition of MurLarkey ImaGination gin was an afterthought when I considered that basil is one of the botanicals in the gin.

The key to keeping this cocktail savory was to add a pinch of sea salt to the mixing glass. You don't notice it when you drink the cocktail, but salt really amplifies the herbaceousness of the spirits.
  • 1 oz. Linie Aquavit 
  • 1 oz. MurLarkey ImaGination
  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. simple syrup
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • basil leaf
Combine all ingredients except basil leaf in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain over a large ice cube in a chilled Old Fashioned glass. Garnish with the basil leaf.

Washington In-Cider (Original Recipe)

I needed a drink that would show off the flavors of Fall in Washington D.C., including local cider and spirits. MurLarkey cinnamon whiskey suggested itself quickly, but I also like the taste of rum with cider. Cotton & Reed dry spiced rum adds spicy flavor without overloading with cinnamon and baking spices. Between these two spirits, the farmer's market cider needed only a little sugar.
  • 1 oz. Cotton & Reed dry spiced rum
  • 1 oz. MurLarkey cinnamon whiskey
  • 1/2 tsp. brown sugar
  • non-alcoholic apple cider
  • apple slice
  • ground cinnamon
Build drink in a Collins glass with whiskey, rum and sugar. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Then add ice and top with apple cider and stir to combine. Garnish with the apple slice and dust it with cinnamon.

Passionfruit Daquiri

Ron Venado is a Guatemalan rum that is mild on flavor and a little sweet. I used it to make a Daiquiri with a passionfruit syrup I picked up at a bodega. This cocktail was especially pleasing to those restaurant employees from South America. The passionfruit and the rum itself were a little piece of home.
  • 2 oz. Ron Venado light rum
  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • 3/4 oz. passionfruit syrup
  • dehydrated lime slice
Combine liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Float the lime slice on the surface of the drink.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Pina Colada For Friends

I'm not sure why this cocktail gets it's own entry in the New York Bartender's Guide. The Pina Colada is a blender cocktail, so you can make a scaled up version of the single serving recipe if you like. But because it is listed in the book, I had to find an occasion to make the recipe that serves four people!

That is the reason why this is the last recipe in my quest to complete the New York Bartender's Guide 1997 edition. This has been a journey of more than four years, some of it frenetic during spurts of drinking activity and some of it drawn out as rare ingredients proved a challenge to find or make. All in all it has been an amazing journey and one that really made the mundane career as a bartender far more rewarding. It required me to go beyond the popular, the ordinary, and the safe. I had to create ingredients like Amer Picon, falernum, Forbidden Fruit and apricot brandy. I went on quests to find Lillet Blanc, Dubonnet Rouge, Pomelos, Batavia Arrack and Combier. And best of all, I learned how to make the most obscure and out of fashion cocktails just as the cocktail revival was underway, bringing these forgotten classics back to light. Now people ask for Aviations, Brookland Cocktails, and Swizzles and I can make them. So this goal, as arbitrary and costly as it was as, has enriched my bar-tending skill and my life.

Here's the final recipe of my long-awaited finale: the Pina Colada For Friends.
  • 1 cup light rum (Flor de Cana Extra Seco used)
  • 2 oz. dark rum (Pusser's Navy Rum used)
  • 5 oz. coconut cream
  • 10 oz. pineapple juice
  • 2 oz. half and half
  • 4 pineapple spears and leaves
Combine liquid ingredients in a blender with ice. Blend until smooth and pour into four chilled Collins glasses. Garnish with pineapple spears and leaves. 

Saturn (Smuggler's Cove Recipe)

The Saturn is another modern gin Tiki cocktail from the Smuggler's Cove recipe book. It is densely flavored, something that it's pale, cloudy look doesn't belie. The garnish--two lemon zest rings--seems to connect to the theme, while the flavor is the real attraction.

Falernum, orgeat, and passion fruit syrup team up to make this cocktail a transporting experience. I make my own Falernum, and the passion fruit syrup I used is from cooked down juice. I didn't make the orgeat this time, so Liber & Co. gets credit in the picture.

This is the final cocktail in this series with Roku gin, a very dry and floral gin by Suntory. I really dig the sakura blossom scent that is always noticeable when mixed, and the green tea flavor when you enjoy it neat.
  • 3/4 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. passion fruit syrup
  • 1/4 oz. orgeat (Liber & Co. used)
  • 1/4 oz. Falernum
  • 1 1/4 oz. dry gin (Roku used)
  • 2 lemon zests cut into wheels
To make the zests, use a zest tool or a knife to score the peel of a lemon: cut three circles around the middle of the fruit, about 1/2 inch apart. Using the tool handle or the blunt side of the knife, lift the peel off of the fruit being careful not to break the rings. Place the rings inside each other and rest them on the cocktail glass.

Combine all liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass with the lemon zest rings.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Max's Mistake (Smuggler's Cove Recipe)

Max's Mistake is similar to the Hinky Dink's Fizzy in its presentation in a snifter, and that it is a gin-based tiki cocktail. Again, I used Roku gin for it's dryness and floral botanical blend. A special change to the recipe came about when I got Fever Tree Bitter Lemon soda! You get the impression that this drink is a balance between sweet and biter, and this soda does that perfectly.
  • 1 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 oz. passion fruit syrup (homemade used)
  • 1/2 oz. honey syrup (honey diluted with hot water)
  • 2 oz. dry gin (Roku used)
  • 1 dash angostura bitters
  • 2 oz. lemon soda (Fever Tree bitter lemon used)
  • mint sprig
Combine all ingredients except mint garnish in a blender with ice. Flash blend and pour into a large snifter and garnish with mint. 

Bitter Lemon Collins

This was a wonderful find: the combination of Fever Tree Bitter Lemon soda and Ketel One Cucumber and Mint botanical edition. It's the perfect summer drink for rooftop or dockside sipping.
  • 2 oz. Ketel One Botanical Cucumber & Mint
  • Fever Tree Bitter Lemon
  • lemon slice
  • mint mint sprig
Build cocktail in a Collins glass by adding vodka, then ice, then topping with lemon soda. Stir and garnish with lemon and mint.

Old South Martini

Greet tomatoes are just so southern. On a recent vacation in Virginia, I picked up these Tomolives, pickled greet tomatoes. These Old South tomatoes look like olives, but the explode with dill pickle flavor. I had to make a vodka martini with these.
  • 3 oz. vodka (MurLarkey Divine Clarity used)
  • 1/2 oz. dry vermouth (Carpano dry used)
  • 3 Tomolives
Combine liquid ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with Tomolives.

Hinkey Dinks Fizzy (Smuggler's Cove recipe)

This cocktail is featured in Smuggler's Cove. It comes to us originally from Trader Vic's celebration of their fiftieth anniversary in the 1980s. A few things have made this cocktail a treat. I made passionfruit syrup specifically for this recipe and bought sparkling wine in small-format cans. I even got this stemless snifter that is large enough to hold this drink simply for the presentation.

But Roku gin is probably the best addition I made. It is very floral and somewhat bitter. Even mixed in this cocktail, you can taste or smell the cherry blossom botanicals. The drink has a great appeal with its blended ice and fizzy taste. Use a straw to drink this one!
  • 2 oz. sparkling wine
  • 1 1/2 oz. pineapple juice
  • 1/2 oz. lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. passion fruit syrup (homemade used)
  • 1/2 oz. apricot liqueur (Jaquin's used)
  • 1 oz. London dry gin (Roku used)
  • 1 oz. blended lightly aged rum (Flor de Cana extra seco used)
Pour sparkling wine in the bottom of a large brandy snifter. In a blender add ice and the rest of the ingredients. Flash blend and pour into the snifter. Garnish with a mint sprig. 

Grand Royal Margarita (With Royal Combier)

You know the Cadillac Margarita with Grand Marnier. This is a similarly rich rendition of the classic with Royal Combier, a cognac-based spirit flavored with oranges and Mediterranean spices.
  • 2 oz. gold tequila (Sauza Anejo used)
  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1/2 oz. Royal Combier
  • coarse salt
  • lime wedge
Place coarse salt on a saucer. Wet the rim of an Old Fashioned glass by rubbing it with the lime wedge and dipping it in the salt. Combine all liquid ingredients and sugar in a shaker with ice. Shake and pour into the Old Fashioned glass. Use the lime wedge for garnish.

Grayhound And Salty Dog (Revisited)

I've done Greyhounds and Salty Dogs before in different glassware and with other vodkas. This time I'm trying to hit on the rocks glass versions of these drinks. The Salty Dog (bottom) can be done up in a cocktail glass, but the New York Barterder's Guide uses the Old Fashioned glass rimmed with salt and sugar and full of ice. The recipes are basically the same after that.

This is the simple cocktail named after the Greyhound bus lines. It's refreshing and great when you need hydration and relaxation in equal measure.
  • 2 oz. vodka (MurLarkey Divine Clarity used)
  • grapefruit juice
Build cocktail in a Collins glass full of ice. Add vodka, top with grapefruit and stir.

Salty Dog
This pleasing variation adds sweet and salt to the original drink.
  • coarse salt
  • granulated sugar
  • 2 oz. vodka
  • grapefruit juice
  • lime wedge
Mix salt and sugar on a shallow saucer. Rim an Old Fashioned glass by wetting the edge by rubbing a lime wedge on it and dipping the glass in the sugar and salt mixture. Fill glass with ice and build the cocktail with vodka and topping it with grapefruit juice before stirring.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Captain's Grog (Smuggler's Cove Recipe)

There's a lot going on in the Captain's grog, the signature drink from the Captain's Inn at Long Beach, CA. It is really rich, a little sweet, and loaded with intense flavors. On the sweet side, there's maple syrup, falernum, and black rum. There's spice from the vanilla and almond extract, and a ton of citrus with lime juice, grapefruit juice, and dry curacao. I've used Vitae's Virginia hearty orange spirit with a rum base to substitute for the curacao.

Curiously, there an ounce of sparkling water thrown in, which is odd for a blended drink. I believe it is to help in the blending of the ingredients rather than to add fizziness. That all gets wiped out when you blend. But the sparkling water could help with spacing out the extracts and sugars. It also seemed to help create a smooth blend with a consistency in the size of the ice chunks.
  • 1/2 oz. lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 oz. maple syrup
  • 3 drops vanilla extract
  • 3 drops almond extract
  • 1 oz. sparkling water
  • 1/2 oz. falernum (homemade falernum used)
  • 1/2 oz. dry curacao (Vitae orange liqueur used)
  • 3/4 oz. black blended rum
  • 3/4 oz. blended light rum
  • 3/4 oz. blended aged rum
Combine all ingredients in a blender with ice. Blend and open gate strain into a double Old Fashioned glass. Garnish with swizzle sticks, umbrellas and fruit as you like. 


Avua cachaça mades an awesome Caipirinha cocktail, the native drink of Brazil. Though old recipes don't require lime hulls be poured into the glass, they do use them in the shaker with the sugar and spirit. The point, I think, is to make use of the bitterness of the lime zests and add chunky pulp to the drink. 

Originally, this cocktail would be built in the glass because bar tools would have been hard to come by in Brazillian cafes. Once the drink evolved to being shaken, the lime hulls would be shaken but caught by the strainer so that the drink could be served on fresh ice. But the revival of this cocktail and it's migration to the U.S. has meant that drinkers expect to see the lime hulls in the drink and bartenders still insist on shaking the cocktail to encourage the sugar to dissolve. 
  • 2 oz. cachaça (Avua used)
  • 1 lime juiced and its hulls
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
Juice a lime and add the juice and leftover halves to the shaker. Add sugar, cachaça and ice and shake. Pour into a double Old Fashioned glass.

Grand Royal Hotel

This is an unusual drink that combines rum, creme de cacao and light rum. The recipe for the Grand Hotel in the New American Bartender's Guide lists Grand Marnier as the orange spirit. Royal Combier is a similar cognac and orange spirit that also includes some complex exotic spices that distinguish it from Grand Marnier. Combier is less sweet, which is fine, and the spice notes match the flavor that this rum drink is going for: chocolate, orange, lemon and baking spice.
  • 2 oz. light rum (Flor de Cana extra seco used)
  • 1/2 oz. Royal Combier
  • 1/2 oz. white creme de cacao
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and double strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

Jet Pilot (Smuggler's Cove recipe)

The Jet Pilot sounds a little mundane in the 21st century, But Martin Cate reminds us that in the 1950s, these pilots were modern day explorers who pushed the limits of machine and human ability. This cocktail is also designed to push the limits--coming out of nowhere with a full-force of flavor, and overwhelming the drinker with a powerful belt of strong rums.

For this cocktail I used my own falernum rather than John D. Taylor's. I also made black, overproof rum by adding black strap molasses (right).  

Cinnamon syrup is also a must. I simply made it by adding cinnamon sticks to my usual simple syrup recipe. This goes great with the ginger, allspice, clove, and cardamon I used in the falernum.

One final note: Aguardiente is an anise flavored cane spirit from Columbia, which makes it perfect for a rum cocktail. It is great by itself, it's taste sweeter and more mild than absinthe or Herbstura. I used a little more than a dash because of this. 
  • 1/2 oz. lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 oz. cinnamon syrup
  • 1/2 oz. homemade falernum
  • 1 oz. black blended rum (homemade black rum used)
  • 3/4 oz. blended aged rum (Pusser's Navy Rum used)
  • 3/4 oz. black overproof rum (Homemade black rum used)
  • 1 dash herbstura (a drizzle of Aguardiente used)
Add all ingredients to a blender with ice and blend. Open strain into a double Old Fashioned glass with a gated finish to catch the large ice chunks. (No garnish stated, but flowers are lovely.)

Batida (de mango)

A Batida is a Brazilian cocktail that's similar to a Rum & Coke in that it is a simple rocks drink to mix. Beyond that, there are no similarities. Cachaça is a fresh cane spirit that is similar to rum except that it has a rich sugary taste. This drink adds a bit of tropical fruit juice and sugar to play up the Brazilian spirit's relaxed funkiness.
  • 2 oz. cachaça (Avua used)
  • 1 oz. fruit juice (mango/passionfruit used)
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and pour into a highball or Old Fashioned glass.

The Golden Gun

Sounding a lot like a James Bond film, this exotic cocktail from Martin Cate's Smuggler's Cove cookbook is an easy way to go Tiki with just a handful of ingredients. The key, of course, is good rum and fresh ingredients. Demerara syrup makes the sweet flavor taste more earthy and exotic. Apricot liqueur ups the fruitness, and the rum is all important.
  • 3/4 oz. lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 oz. demerara simple syrup
  • 1/2 oz. apricot liqueur (Jaquin's used)
  • 1 oz. blended aged rum (Pusser's Navy Rum used)
  • 1 oz. blended lightly aged rum (Flor de Cana extra seco used)
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
Fill a Collins or highball glass with cracked or cubed ice. Add all the ingredients to the cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake and strain into the Collins glass. Garnish with your choice of fruits, stir sticks, and herbs. (I chose a peach slice as an appropriate pairing with apricot liqueur.)

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Grand Royal Hotel (Original Recipe)

This cocktail, based on the Grand Hotel is a much needed update on the original. I wanted to best represent the recipe for the Grand Hotel, which I pulled of so sloppily in my original post linked above.

In this post I'm addressing my failure to use crushed ice in the cocktail glass when I first tried the drink. It was in part the fault of an amateur bartender. It is also a flaw in the recipe I found in the Poister New American Bartender's Guide, which confusingly calls for either using crushed ice in the shaker or a blender and then pouring the whole thing into a cocktail glass. Is this a blender drink or not?

A few liqueur-forward cocktails I've done lately show off the character of a spirit like Amaretto or Creme de Menthe by serving it on crushed ice. I wanted to do the same thing for Royal Combier, which has orange and the north African spices of the Elixir Combier in it. MurLarkey's ImaGination Gin is a good match for these kinds of spicy and sweet flavors.
  • 1 1/2 oz. gin (MurLarkey ImaGination used)
  • 1 1/2 oz. Royal Combier (Originally Grand Marnier)
  • 1/2 oz. dry vermouth
  • dash of lemon juice
  • lemon twist
Combine liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a cocktail glass full of crushed ice. Twist the lemon peel on top and lay it on the ice. 


I've made this cocktail before (I love this picture, too): the reason I'm bringing it back is that I love the ingredients I have on hand now. It completely changes the nature of this drink do do it with good brandy and Tempus Fugit Creme de Noyaux. This spirit is made with apricot and peach pits and almonds. It is very sweet and creamy, but it has a bitter and earthy notes that go well with a rich brandy.

Liber & Co. orgeat also makes this drink rich and nutty. I'm not sure what the flavor profile has to do with the faux Japanese-themed Gilbert and Sullivan opera, but I can better appreciate this drink as a complete, sweet and rich experience.
  • 3 oz. brandy (Asbach Uralt used)
  • 1/4 tsp. creme de noyaux (Tempus Fugit used)
  • 1/4 tsp. triple sec
  • 1/4 tsp. orgeat syrup (Liber & Co. used)
  • 3-5 dashes of Angostura bitters
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.


The Tantalus can be found in the Savoy Cocktail Book, but the spirit named Forbidden Fruit is no longer available for sale. You can get lucky and find a bar that has this extinct liquor hanging around, but you better believe that no one will let just anyone taste it. An original bottle of Forbidden Fruit is precious for research; bartenders comb over its color and flavor like archeologists, to try to figure out how it was made (see this article in Lost Ingredients.)

I thought at first that Copper Fox would be a good combination with my homemade Forbidden Fruit. I want to try it again with other gins to see how it plays with something more traditional. It was pretty good, however. I'm pleased with the balance between citrus and honey: Forbidden Fruit is very sweet with orange blossom honey and vanilla. And its unusual citrus flavor does stand out somewhat in this drink, but I think that the lemon juice overpowers the subtle notes of spice that I want to find in any drink that is intentionally crafted with a rare spirit.

Play around with this one; try different gins and proportions of spirits. I will continue to use Forbidden Fruit to find the best way to show of its merits.
  • 1 1/2 oz. dry gin
  • 1 1/2 oz. Forbidden Fruit
  • 1 1/2 oz. lemon juice
Combine all ingredients in a shaker full of ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 


Sangria is a classic wine punch that is enjoyable in warm summer months. It seems fitting that the Spanish with their hotter climate would have invented this drink as a way to enjoy a cold and refreshing glass of red wine with citrus juices and liquors. 

Now Sangria has evolved into many variations involving berries, white wine and even gin, but the basic recipe remains relatively unchanged. It is wine, orange spirit, sugar, juice and, in most cases, strong spirits.

For my recipe I used Campo Viejo Rioja (a real Spanish red) for authenticity, Asbach Uralt, a German brandy that doesn't taste like cognac, and Cointreau for the orange liqueur.

This is the recipe found in the Berk NY Bartender's guide, and it still holds up as an awesome sangria for porch drinks in the summer afternoon.
  • 2 bottles of dry red wine (Campo Viejo Rioja used)
  • 4 oz. triple sec (Cointreau used)
  • 3 oz. brandy (Asbach Uralt used)
  • 3 oz. orange juice
  • 2 oz. lemon juice
  • 2 oz. lime juice
  • 4 oz. sugar syrup
  • lemon, orange, and lime slices
Combine all ingredients in a large punch bowl and stir to combine. Chill for at least an hour before serving (but keeping in the refrigerator over night is even better). Before serving, add a large cake of ice. 

Pinstripe Suit (Original Recipe)

This was a moment of inspiration when I was enjoying local spirits used in Martini variations with local gin. I was looking for something that would use Copper Fox's Vir Gin, with its basil and anise flavors and malted barley presence, in a way that would enhance rather than try to downplay the unusual features of this gin. I settled on equal parts of gin, dry vermouth and Don Ciccio and Figli finocchietto liqueur. This infusion of fennel and dill is soft and rich and fairly sweet. It usually goes well with sodas and spritzes, but I wanted to taste it undiluted in this drink. Carpano dry vermouth suggests itself here too because of its bitter herbal flavor. Peychaud's bitters keeps the herbal, not spice, profile.

The overall effect is similar in scent and flavor to a new suit made of fine cotton. The experience of drinking it focuses only on these two senses--a drink to savor with your eyes closed.
  • 1 oz. Copper Fox Vir Gin
  • 1 oz. dry vermouth (Carpano dry used)
  • 1 oz. Don Ciccio and Figli finocchietto liqueur
  • 1 dash Peychaud's bitters
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

Dorchester of London Cocktail

This is one of those nearly extinct cocktails from the Harry Craddock cocktail book that was once served at the Dorchester of London Hotel in the 1930s. I found this recipe on an article about Forbidden fruit and wanted to try it with my own Forbidden Fruit recipe.

The Dorchester is my favorite Forbidden Fruit cocktail so far because it really shows off the complexity of the spirit without burying it in more citrus juice like the Biscayne Cocktail. Instead, a nice, floral gin like Roku is awesome in equal parts to the Forbidden Fruit. A smaller part of Cuban (I used Nicaraguan Flor De Cana) rum really helps to smooth the flavors out and add an round, aged mouthfeel.
  • 1 1/2 oz. dry gin (Suntory Roku used)
  • 1 1/2 oz. Forbidden Fruit liqueur (homemade recipe used)
  • 3/4 oz. Cuban rum (Flor de Cana extra seco used)
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

Friday, May 3, 2019

Bristow Brandy Bramble (Original Recipe for MurLarkey Distillery)

The Bramble has been a reliable summer sour drink for decades. Blackberry liqueur floated on gin and lemon juice in crushed ice is a refreshing combination. But it was rare that bars had blackberries back in the 80s when the Bramble was invented. Creme de Mure was the blackberry ingredient until the cocktail revolution occurred.

This a small break from tradition by using muddled blackberries and sugar for the natural blackberry flavor. The sherry is best when floated on top of the ice to add richness and oak.
  • 2 oz. MurLarkey ImaGination gin
  • 1 oz. E&J VSOP
  • 1 oz. cream sherry
  • 7 blackberries
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • mint sprig
Combine 5 blackberries, sugar and lemon juice in a shaker and muddle to break up the berries. Add brandy, gin and ice and shake. Double strain into an Old Fashioned glass full of crushed ice. Float cream sherry on top and garnish with mint sprig and three blackberries.

Banana Brandy Rose (Original Recipe for MurLarkey Distilery)

The most famous cocktail in the Rose series is the Jack Rose made with apple jack. These cocktails, which can be made with any spirit, are all sour drinks that are usually sweetened with grenadine. I thought that the unusual pairing of brandy with the rich flavor of MurLarkey banana whiskey would balance better than the Jack Rose. I wasn't wrong.

For one thing, I was going for the sweetness and pleasant flavor of the banana whiskey that makes it very drinkable by itself. The banana flavor pairs well with lime juice in an almost tropical combination. The brandy smooths out the whiskey notes and takes the drink in the direction of an aged brandy style of Rose cocktail. The drink was still sour, but far more interesting, providing in turns dried banana, spicy whiskey, and oak.
Combine liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the lime slice. 

Tea Time (Original Recipe for MurLarkey Distillery)

This drink takes its inspiration from the Ice Pick, a cocktail with the dubious intent of hiding alcohol in an innocent looking glass of iced tea. Using flavored spirits and sparkling water enhances that basic recipe: I wondered what would happen if the liquor tasted like tea?

MurLarkey makes Three Tea Whiskey that is infused with Earl Gray, Darjeeling and English breakfast teas. I like a raspberry iced tea, so Chambord black raspberry liqueur suggested itself. My thinking was that a really enjoyable summer cocktail shouldn't feel like a basic iced tea. It should be a treat for a special occasion, or at least turn a typical summer afternoon into a special occasion. This was a very special recipe.
  • 2 oz. MurLarkey Three Tea whiskey
  • 1 oz. Chambord
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • sparkling water
  • blackberry, lemon slices, and mint sprig garnishes
Combine whiskey, Chambord and sugar in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled Collins glass full of fresh ice. Place a lemon slice in the glass and top with sparkling water. Stir gently and garnish with mint sprig, blackberry and lemon slice.

Brooklyn Cocktail (Revisited with Homemade Amer Picon)

Manhattan has it's signature cocktail with rye. Brooklyn's is less well known, perhaps because it is more complicated and one of its ingredients has all but gone extinct. I've made this cocktail before with Catoctin Creek rye, but I used Picon Biere instead of Amer Picon--the hard to find ingredient. This time I did it with my homemade Amer Picon from a recipe that gets as close to the original as possible without going to France to get it.

The cocktail is exactly the same as the Quebec Cocktail (in slightly smaller proportions) but it is rye that centers the drink in New York not Canada. Using rye with such flavorful spirits is a good idea because it holds its own. You can taste the whiskey in concert with bitter cherry and orange flavors. The cocktail is rich but brighter tasting than a Manhattan, perhaps owing to the dry vermouth in stead of sweet vermouth.
  • 1 1/2 oz. rye (Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye used)
  • 1/2 oz. dry vermouth (Carpano dry used)
  • 1/4 oz. Luxardo Maraschino
  • 1/4 oz. Amer Picon (DIY Amer Picon used)
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. (Maraschino cherry garnish recommended.)

Italian Orange Fizz (Original Recipe for MurLarkey Distillery)

This attractive drink is refreshing and herbacious. It relies on two spirits that have an underlying vanilla note. Galliano is a rich Italian spirit with a saffron color. It contains a vanilla liqueur as well as an anise and herb spirit reminiscent of Italian Christmas cookies.

MurLarkey makes their orange whiskey with an infusion of orange zest and vanilla. The only thing this cocktail needs is more fresh squeezed orange juice and more fresh herbs (i.e. mint). This was a memorable innovation you can see below.
  • 1 1/2 oz. MurLarkey orange whiskey
  • 1 oz. Galliano
  • 1/2 oz. fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 7-10 mint leaves
  • mint sprig
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • orange slice
  • sparkling water
Add juice, mint leaves and sugar to a shaker and muddle to break up the mint. Add Galliano, orange whiskey and ice and shake. Double strain into a chilled Collins glass full of fresh ice. Put the orange slice in the glass and top it up with sparkling water. Stir gently and garnish with the mint sprig.

Quebec Cocktail (Revisited with Homemade Amer Picon)

I'm almost done with my cycle using Amer Picon I made with orange bitters, Combier and Rammozzotti. This drink is intended to bring together a very French ingredient (Amer Picon) and Canadian whiskey. This time I picked Crown Royal as a quintessentially Canadian whiskey.

The rest of the cocktail is very international with Italian dry vermouth and maraschino liqueur. It is still a big drink (in terms of proportions) and huge on flavor with several of the most heavily flavored spirits like Picon, Luxardo maraschino and this amazingly bitter Carpano dry vermouth. With all of that going on, the Canadian whiskey gets completely lost. It is as if the whiskey is a vehicle for combining all of the other bodacious spirits--which is exactly what Canadian whiskey does. Crown Royal is such a mild whiskey. Any time you see Canadian whiskey in a recipe, it is chosen because of its smoothness and mixability.
  • 3 oz. Canadian whisky (Crown Royal used)
  • 1 oz. dry vermouth
  • 1 oz. Amer Picon (DIY Amer Picon used)
  • 1/2 oz. maraschino liqueur
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Monahan (Revisited with Homemade Amer PIcon)

Whoever this Monahan guy was, he had a brilliant idea for a bitter Manhattan made with Amer Picon. Though I've made this drink before with Picon Biere, I felt that it needed another try with the Amer Picon I made myself a few weeks ago. It is more bitter and stronger than the sweet-ish liqueur you add to a glass of beer.

Cocchi Dopo Teatro also keeps things bitter with its amaro sweet vermouth with big vanilla notes to offset the deep bitter herbal flavors. The recipe calls for either bourbon and rye, so I chose neither: MurLarkey Heritage is a whiskey made mostly of corn and finished in wine casks. It has a bittersweet note to match the other ingredients, and I was very pleased with the revisited drink all around.
  • 1 1/2 oz. bourbon or rye (MurLarkey Heritage old country whiskey used) 
  • 1/2 oz. sweet vermouth (Cocchi Dopo Teatro used)
  • 1/2 oz. Amer Picon (DIY Amer Picon used)
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

Grape And Grain (Original Recipe for MurLarkey Distillery)

The idea behind the Grape and Grain is encapsulated in the name: a refreshing Spritz using grain and grape juice spirits like MurLarkey lemon whiskey and E&J brandy. With a touch of lemon juice and sugar, the drink gets additional roundness and balance from cream sherry, another grape spirit. The garnishes are designed to exemplify the two main spirits represented in the cocktail.
  • 1 1/2 oz. MurLarkey lemon whiskey 
  • 1 oz. brandy (E&J VSOP used)
  • 1/2 oz. cream sherry (Lustau Capataz Andres used)
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • red grapes
  • lemon peel curl
  • sparkling water
Combine sugar, juice and spirits in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled Collins glass. Add a few red grapes to the glass and top with soda. Stir gently and garnish with more grapes and a long curl of lemon peel.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Amer Picon Cocktail (With DIY Amer Picon)

This is my first attempt at this cocktail, not just the first one made with my homemade Amer Picon. I had been putting it off until I could make the Amer Picon myself rather than substituting Picon Biere, knowing that it would not be a balanced cocktail. If you can't make it with the real deal, it's just not worth bothering to make it at all.

There's a lot of lime juice in this drink, but it is perfectally balanced with sweetness and bitterness. Yes, it is still a sour cocktail in the style of a Jack Rose, but that doesn't make it a bad drink. In fact, I think it is a little better balanced than the Jack Rose because of the orange bitterness of Amer Picon.
  • 2 oz. Amer Picon (DIY Amer Picon used)
  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • 1 tsp. grenadine
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.