Friday, March 27, 2020

Proper MurLarkey

There aren't many great Irish whiskey sipping cocktails. Most of the St. Patrick's Day-themed cocktails are sugary and heavy on cream and artificial green colors. This cocktail may be slightly orange, but the flavor is undeniably Irish.

MurLarkey Honey whiskey is a rare bottling. The master distiller soaks naturally harvested honeycomb in a barrel of their white whiskey. It isn't sweet, but it has a honey essence. Irish whiskey like Proper Twelve has a honey scent on the nose as well. The rest of the drink brings bitter citrus and spice to make this a well-rounded and rich cocktail.
  • 1 1/2 oz. Proper Twelve Irish whiskey
  • 1 oz. MurLarkey honey whiskey
  • 1/ 2oz. Royal Combier
  • 1 dash orange bitters
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled Old Fashioned glass full of ice. 

Irish Drinks with Knappogue Castle

The Kerry Cooler (above) benefits from using a single malt Irish whiskey like Knappogue Castle and a quality sherry. The effect is a sweet orgeat and lemon sour with a nutty malty richness that swings between a solid Whiskey and Soda and something more tropical.
  • 2 oz. Irish whiskey (Knappogue castle)
  • 1 oz. medium sherry
  • 1 oz. orgeat syrup
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • club soda
  • lemon peel
Combine all ingredients except club soda and zest in a shaker full of ice. Shake and pour into a highball glass. Top with soda and garnish with a lemon peel. 

Irish Buck--I've done this drink as a standard Buck with lime juice and soda. That kind of defeats the purpose of using a quality Irish whiskey. Just like the "correct and proper" Scotch and Soda, the Irish Buck dispenses with the citrus juice and just uses the scent from a slice of lemon or a twist of the peel. Nothing gets in the way of tasting that lovely malt of Knoppogue Castle, but you'll appreciate how much the essence of fruit changes a plain Irish Whiskey and Soda into a fabulous cocktail.
  • 2 oz. Irish whiskey (Knappogue Castle used)
  • club soda
  • twist or slice of lemon
Build the cocktail with ice and whiskey in a Collins glass. Top with soda and stir gently. Twist the lemon peel and drop it in the glass. 

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Hesitation Cocktail

An answer to the Hasty Cocktail, I guess. The Hesitation lives up to this name well because I can imagine the concern the drinker might have with mixing rye with equal parts Swedish punsch. The two things shouldn't go together, and yet they do. (See how I make Swedish punch here.)

Like so many rye drinks, a dash of lemon juice or zest pulls the flavors together. In this case, it is the lemon slices that are used to flavor Swedish punsch. The flavors are rich and wintery, but the drink remains light--and strong--vacillating between citrus and dry rye and sweet black tea and rums in Swedish punch.
  • 1 1/2 oz. rye (Catoctin Creek Roundstone used)
  • 1 1/2 oz. Swedish punch (homemade used)
  • several dashes lemon juice
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and double train into a chilled cocktail glass.

Tivoli Cocktail

This is a rich and rewarding cocktail made with bourbon and punched up with aquavit. Though aquavit is a Scandinavian spirit and bourbon comes from Kentucky, this is an all-local cocktail.

Ragged Branch bourbon is an excellent wheated bourbon out of Charlottesville, Virginia. This Mt. Defiance sweet vermouth comes from Middleburg, Virginia. And I made this aquavit with MurLarkey Justice white whiskey from Bristow. The cocktail also calls for a dash of Campari. I regret that I drank all my Campari a while ago and resorted to a citrus bitters that I made to mimic Campari. Again, that bitters was made with local moonshine, so I felt like it was a fitting decision.
  • 1 1/2 oz. bourbon (Ragged Branch wheated used)
  • 1/2 oz. sweet vermouth (Mt. Defiance used)
  • 1/2 oz. aquavit (homemade used)
  • dash Campari
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Shaker Heights

This cocktail must be named for the classy neighborhood on Cleveland's east side. It swings like a Roaring Twenties Manhattan with a higher proportion of vermouth to the whiskey (rye of course.) I'm using North Fork rye from Glacier Distilling Company and Vitae Old Tom gin for that classic 20s flavor profile.

Tucked in there are also sweet vermouth, a rich one by Cocchi and a cheap brandy, both in equal parts. You get a lot of barrel and oaky vanilla in this drink, and that comes mostly from the brandy and the richness of the vermouth if you make it like this. But Old Tom gin also keeps it from being overly spicy and more on the rich sipping side.
  • 1/2 oz. rye (North Fork used)
  • 1/2 oz. gin (Vitae Old Tom used)
  • 1/2 oz. sweet vermouth (Cocchi dopo teatro used)
  • 1/2 oz. brandy (E&J American brandy used)
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

Rocky River Cocktail

There's a lot of rivers out there with this common name. I like to think it has something to do with Rocky River, the little town on the west side of Cleveland with its beautiful shale river gorge.

I'm representing another river, the North Fork in Montana. The Glacier distillery makes North Fork rye, really one of the best ryes I've ever tasted, hands down. Virginia makes plenty of tasty ryes, and there are better ones on the market from Kentucky, but North Fork gives them good competition for the best.

Rocky river is quite a classic pairing of spirits with lemon and apricot brandy. The proportions make for a sweet sour, not a tart drink at all. It tastes like summer sunshine.
  • 1 rye (North Fork used)
  • 1 oz. apricot brandy
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • sugar syrup to taste (none used)
  • maraschino cherry
Combine liquid ingredients (and sugar to taste) in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the maraschino cherry. 


There are two cocktails named after the famous family hotels: the Waldorf Cocktail with bourbon and the Waldorf. I've not made this version with gin before because it's primary ingredient is Swedish punsch, something that you have to get from Sweden or make at home. It's not on the market here.

This is a sweet and sour cocktail with lots of herbal spices and dark black tea flavors. That is why I chose Vitae old tom gin for this. It is barrel aged and a little sweeter to cut through that lemon and provide balance against the Swedish punsch.
  • 2 oz. Swedish punsch 
  • 1 oz. gin (Vitae Old Tom used)
  • 1 oz. lemon juice
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

*Note the Tacoma, WA coaster representing Odd Otter Brewing Co.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

St. Patrick's Day Fizzy Drinks with Proper Twelve

I've revisited two good drinks for St. Patrick's day, or any day so long as you have a bar stocked with Irish whiskey and some quality mix-ins. My first attempt at the Wicklow Cooler was with orgeat. This is an alternative recipe using falernum. Either way, you get one of those tropical whiskey drinks that somehow work fine. You could be enjoying this on any island, but it just so happens that the whiskey comes from the island of Ireland. 
  • 1 1/2 oz. Irish whiskey (Proper Twelve used)
  • 1 oz. dark rum (Vitae Barrel-Aged used)
  • 1/2 oz. lime juice
  • 1 oz. orange juice
  • 1 tsp. falernum (homemade used)
  • ginger ale
Combine all ingredients except soda in a shaker or blender. Pour into a chilled Collins glass. Top with ginger ale.

Next up is the Glenbeigh Fizz. This is a nutty and pink cocktail that should be done in a long drink. My first attempt used different ingredients, but now I have quality Creme de Noyaux from Tempus Fugit and Proper Twelve Irish whiskey. The recipe calls for medium sherry and I remember using cream sherry. This update, Amontillado or lighter sherry only, increases the nuttiness of the drink and really draws forward the grain flavor of the whiskey.
  • 1 1/2 oz. Irish whiskey
  • 1 oz. medium sherry
  • 1/2 oz. creme de noyaux (Tempus Fugit creme de noyaux used)
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • club soda
Mix all ingredients except club soda and lemon slice with ice in a shaker. Pour into a chilled highball glass and fill with club soda.

St. Patrick's Day Shamrocks

The Shamrock is a dessert drink designed for consumption on St. Patrick's Day. The basic formula for most recipes (not the Shamrock #1 which involves green Chartreuse and has no dairy) involves Irish whiskey, milk or cream, and green creme de menthe. They are all sweet, minty and creamy and go well with cookies. That is why I show them with good snack options. 

The first I want to show off is J.J.'s Shamrock, my favorite one and definitely a special recipe of some Irish bar belonging to the so-named J.J. 
  • 1 oz. Irish whiskey (Proper Twelve used)
  • 1/2 oz. white creme de cacao
  • 1/2 oz. green creme de menthe
  • 1 oz. milk
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and double strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

Another variation is the Shamrock #2, done on the rocks with a cherry garnish. This subtracts the creme de cacao and adjust proportions accordingly.

  • 1 1/2 oz. Irish whiskey (Proper Twelve used)
  • 1 1/2 oz. green creme de menthe
  • 2 oz. heavy cream 
  • maraschino cherry
Combine liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and pour into an Old Fashioned glass. Garnish with the cherry. 

Another quality version of the Shamrock is the P.V. Doyle, named after the Irish Hotel chain pioneer. For this drink, you want to use crushed ice or a blender and pour it all in a large Martini glass to enjoy the minty-slushy goodness. 

  • 1 1/2 oz. Irish whiskey (Proper Twelve used)
  • 3/4 oz. green creme de menthe
  • 1 oz. heavy cream
  • maraschino cherry
Add all liquid ingredients with cracked ice in a shaker or blender. Shake or blend and pour into a large Martini glass. Garnish with cherry. (I recommend using a cocktail spear.)

Monday, March 9, 2020

Smorgasboard Martini (Original Recipe)

Alright, this isn't an original idea. In fact, one of the distinguishing feature of a Martini is the variety of garnishes. Pickles and savory ingredients are pretty common, but olives tend to rule the day. I thing what I was going for was a pickle and vodka cocktail that is reminiscent of Scandinavian pickle boards. Pickled beet, gherkin pickles and goat cheese are pretty original and delicious with vodka. Why not add them to your Martini. 

The trick, though, was not to add pickle juice to the liqueur. (More drinks like that to come.) I wanted a clean look with the taste of pickles and beets without turning the drink purple. I patted off the garnishes to keep them from leaking into the cocktail.
  • 3 oz. vodka (Divine Clarity used)
  • 1/2 oz. dry vermouth
  • sweet pickles, cheese, pickled beets (ham, pickled fish, anchovy as suggested garnishes) 

Sumatra Planter's Punch

Swedish Punsch is a great shorthand for punch flavors all contained in a single bottle. My house-made Swedish Punsch contains several rums, lemons, cloves, and cardamom as well as black tea and demerara syrup.

Therefore, using a Swedish Punsch in a Planter's Punch cuts out a few ingredients you usually have to prepare: namely, lemon juice, and tea. This was a great, tasty punch cocktail that I was able to do without a blender but by shaking crushed ice. Much easier to make on the fly.

  • 1 oz. golden rum (Vitae golden rum used)
  • 1 oz. Swedish Punsch
  • 2 oz. pineapple juice
  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • 1 tsp. 151-demerara rum
Combine all ingredients except demerara rum with cracked ice in a shaker or blender. Shake or blend and pour into a chilled Old Fashioned Glass (snifter pictured). Float 151-proof rum on top and garnish at will.

Colloden Cheer (Revisited)

I'm returning to this rich passion fruit cocktail because I now have La Grande Passion, a liqueur that used to be made by Grand Marnier. I should say that I made La Grande Passion, because the armagnac and fruit liqueur is pretty much unavailable. My original attempt at this cocktail was with a syrup made with passion fruit and brandy. This is much closer to the real deal.
  • 1 oz. Scotch (Highland Park Spirit of the Bear used)
  • 1 oz. dry sherry (Lustau fino used)
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz/ La Grande Passion (homemade liqueur used)
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

Aquavit Sour

If you can make a sour out of just about anything, why not make it with Aquavit? The Nordic spirit is very light, almost like a dry gin. It goes with tart, sweet and savory cocktails. It just stands to reason that this cocktail will work.

With that in mind, remember that caraway and coriander flavors are toasty and fit savory drinks. Its probably better to go a little easier on sugar and let the acid and herb flavors dance here.
  • 2 oz. aquavit
  • 1 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. sugar or 1/2 oz. sugar syrup (or to taste)
  • maraschino cherry and orange zest garnishes
Combine aquavit, lemon juice and sugar in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the orange twist and maraschino cherry.