Monday, August 31, 2020

Bitch's Itch


There's a lot going on in this tropical drink. There's dark rum and cacao. Then there's fresh spices grated under your nose. Other spices show up in the liquors themselves, such as the anise and allspice in Falernum. Then there's just a hint of cinnamon from Murlarkey cinnamon whiskey. 

This tiki cocktail probably got the most favorable response of all the ones I made last weekend. It is also stupefying. The float of 151-proof rum seems a little unnecessary, but maybe it is to reassure veteran tiki drinkers that there is some alcoholic kick in there under all the spice and fruit flavor. 

  • 2 oz. 86-proof demerara rum (Pusser's navy rum used)
  • 1/2 oz. white creme de cacao
  • 1/2 oz. triple sec
  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. falernum
  • 1/4 oz. MurLarkey cinnamon whiskey (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp. 151-proof rum
  • cinnamon stick
  • whole nutmeg 
  • orange slice

Combine liquid ingredients in a shaker or blender with ice. Shake or blend and pour into a chilled Collins glass. Float 151 on top and grate cinnamon and nutmeg over the drink. Garnish with the orange slice.

Zombo (Original Recipe)

Wait! Isn't that tequilla and whiskey in the photo? 

Why yes! Corralejo is my favorite tequila. And it just stands to reason that it would make an excellent Zombie with its caramel notes and rich body. This is my own tiki creation based on a simple zombie recipe. The spices mean a lot in this drink. Allspice and cinnamon are added in liquor form, as is anise in the form of Pernod. Luxardo maraschino makes an appearance, as does triple sec.

There isn't usually any pineapple juice in a Zombie, but that's the beauty of making your own cocktail. You can do what you want. And at the time I wanted tequila and a reason to use up a fresh pineapple. Yes I squeezed it by hand, but if you are blending, just throw the pineapple pieces into the mix and buzzzz!

Ok. Try to keep up. Here's what you need to make this.

  • 1 1/2 oz. tequila
  • 1 oz. light rum
  • 1/4 oz. 151-proof rum
  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • 1 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 oz. orange juice
  • 1 oz. pineapple juice
  • 1/4 oz. MurLarkey cinnamon whiskey
  • several dashes allspice dram
  • several dashes Pernod
  • pineapple spear and leaves
Combine all ingredient except pineapple spear and leaves in a shaker or blender. After shaking/blending, pour into a cool tiki mug and garnish with pineapple.

Kingston #1


I was really excited to make this drink because it is an unusual pairing of rum with kummel. You don't see that every day. I was also eager to try my own allspice dram (in the Monkey 47 bottle with the allspice label) This drink uses allspice dram (also known as pimento dram) as a sweetener and a substitute for Angostura bitters.

I was not disappointed. This cocktail is bold wtih a ton of tropical and European spices fighting for attention. The allspice dram is appropriately sweet and provides the sugar, while orange juice gives the kummel and allspice space so that you can taste them. Kummel is also sweet and lends a honey richness that is hard to pin down but familiar all the same.

You'd think with all that going on, I wouldn't be able to taste a quality rum. Not so! Vitae Barrel Aged rum is finished in bourbon barrels. It's my sipping rum, and I'm glad I used it here. Everything about this drink suggests a labor of love. You really have to pause and appreciate the richness it offers.

  •  1 1/2 oz. dark rum (Vitae barrel aged used)
  • 3/4 oz. kummel
  • 3/4 oz. orange juice
  • several dashes allspice dram
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

Loma Loma Lullaby


A little dry, maybe, for a nightcap, the name just screams tropical beach drink. It's named after a beach on Fiji, after all.

There's a pair of pro tips included in this recipe. The first is that some recipes require just a half of an egg white to make. You can't get a half egg white, however. It's impossible. But if you are going to go through the trouble of measuring and getting the blender dirty, you might as well make two and use the whole egg white. 

The next tip is that blended drinks often taste less alcoholic--that's probably why they are a hit with new drinkers. Floating a potent rum like Cruzan 151 on top keeps your experienced drinkers from feeling like you gave them juice and slush. 

Why is there an egg white in this drink? Unlike strained cocktails or foamy ones, the egg white in blender drinks is really there in place of milk or cream. Think of it as non-dairy substitute.

  • 1 1/2 oz. light rum (Vitae platinum used)
  • 1 oz. La Grande Passion
  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • 1/2 egg white
  • 1 tsp. 151-proof rum

Combine all ingredients except 151 in a blender with ice. Blend until frothy and pour into a chilled Whiskey Sour glass. Float 151 on top.

Banana Rum


It stands to reason that banana and rum go together--they taste an awful lot alike in some forms. This cocktail is designed to play that up. Of course there are any number of banana flavored rums available, that's not what we are going for here. It's nice to have something more natural in the glass when you can get it. If you have creme de banane, use it here. I have banana whiskey.

This Murlarkey flavored whiskey comes from soaking natural dried bananas. It pairs well with Plantation 3-Stars, which has its own whiff of banana peel. The drink needs decoration, however. If you have banana leaves or pineapple fronds, feel free to show them off.

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

Kuai Cup

Not so much a tiki cocktail as a Hawaiian drink, the Kuai Cup really scratches that fresh pineapple itch. I squeezed a real pineapple for this drink and the only sweetness it needs beyond that is La Grande Passion, which I made just for these occasions (i.e. when I can't get passion fruit juice).

La Grande Passion is a passion fruit liqueur. Passion fruit itself is hard to get on the east coast. The fruits don't make it here and not many people know what they are or what to do with them. Put them in your Vitae Platinum rum from Charlottesville!

  • 3 oz. light rum (Viate platinum used)
  •  4 oz. pineapple juice
  • 2 oz. orange juice
  • 1/2 oz. passion fruit juice (La Grande Passion used)
  • pineapple slice
Combine all ingredients except pineapple slice in a shaker and shake. Strain over fresh ice in a double Old Fashioned glass. Garnish with pineapple (I like the fronds too!)



Morning Dip


In keeping with the "Morning" series of strong cocktails with orange juice, this tropical treat is on the spicy side. In this case it is rum and a little bit of juice. The rest is in the liqueurs: maraschino like the Morning Cocktail with falernum in place of the Pernod for spiciness. 

My falernum recipe has a little star anise, cinnamon, allspice and ginger; it's completely tropical tasting. I used brown sugar in this batch, so it is extra rich with molasses sweetness. Pusser's navy rum will have to do for the very specific Puerto Rico gold that the recipe specifies. The difference between Guyana and Puerto Rico is kinda large, but I'm over it. This old recipe I'm using dates from a time where Puerto Rico was the only place you could get rum from in the U.S., and the "gold" lable really means that it is supposed to have more of an aged flavor. Pusser's accomplishes this and then some. 

  • 1 1/2 oz. Puerto Rican gold rum (Pussar's used)
  • 1 tsp. maraschino liqueur  
  • 1 tsp. orange juice
  • 1 tsp. sugar or falernum (homemade falernum used)

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

Tom Tom

This tiki cocktail is strong, hence the name coming for the snappy percussion instrument. It beats you over the head with rum and flavor!

Of course you can put this in a Hurricane glass or whatever globe you like--it's frozen, after all. But I think that no one really wants to look at yellow slush and they might rather have some cool statuary to stare at as their vision starts to blur. 

I picked up some of my old favorite rums for this. Here is Plantation 3-Star recipe for the light rum instead of Haitian. I figured that Haiti is represented in the blend, so we are good. For brandy I had to resort to Mandarine Napoleon, which I made from Courvoissier, so it works pretty well. Even better with its tropical fruit and spice, actually. 

  • 1 oz. Haitian rum (Plantation 3-Star used)
  • 1 oz. coconut rum (homemade used: 1 oz. light rum combined with 1/4 tsp. creme of coconut)
  • 1 oz. Brandy (homemade Mandarine Napoleon used)
  • 1/2 oz. La Grande Passion (homemade version used)
  • 1 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 oz. pineapple juice
  • 1 oz. orange juice
  • orange slice
  • mint sprig

Combine liquid ingredients in a blender with ice. Blend until smooth and pour into a Tiki mug or Hurricane glass. Garnish with the orange slice and mint sprig. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

The Sunset Gun

This is a great cocktail that is steeped in martial tradition--something wholly American. The ritual goes as such: as the sun sets and the flag is lowered to mark the end of a day, a cannon is fired and often music is played. Adding to this ritual is sharing a whiskey cocktail.

The fun thing about this drink is that it takes a little preparation earlier in the day so that it can simply be enjoyed in the fleeting moment. Ingredients are batched and flavored beforehand into something similar to an Old Fashioned. The recipe makes two cocktails and the drinkers are expected to toast when the cannon fires.

  • 4 oz. blended whiskey, bourbon or rye (Catoctin Creek rye used)
  • 6 cloves
  • 1 oz. curacao 
  • several dashes of orange bitters

Combine cloves and liquors in a mixing glass and refrigerate at least one hour before serving. Just before the ceremony, add ice and stir. Strain the mixture into two cocktail glasses and top with orange bitters. Return the used cloves to the glasses.

Derby #2

I'm trying to feature more local Virginia spirits in my classic cocktail posts. MurLarkey whiskey is often one of my most frequent go-to ingredients, but keep in mind that is because they have a huge product line. Even though this recipe calls for blended whiskey, for instance, I realized that rye and MurLarkey lemon whiskey would be a helpful addition. 

The rye I'm speaking of is not from Virginia, but it is one of the best in the country: Glacier Distilling's North Fork rye! This is a rich rye--a little goes a long way. It has such an oak presence that one could mistake it for bourbon on first sip. That is until the spice notes kick in. 

So with a citrus-forward cocktail like all Derby variations, I decided to mix in the lemon whiskey. This increased the citrus richness to include lemon peel infused whiskey to orange flavored liqueur and fresh lime juice.

  • 1 oz. blended whiskey (1/2 oz. each of MurLarkey lemon and North Fork rye used)
  • 1/2 oz. sweet vermouth (cocchi Dopo Tetatro used)
  • 1/2 oz. curacao (triple sec used)
  • mint sprig for garnish

Combine liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and pour into a chilled Old Fashioned glass. Garnish with the mint sprig.

Continental Perfect

This is a sweet tasting Manhattan variation that is done on the rocks with twice as much vermouth as whiskey. I'm not sure if "continental" refers to the European or American continent: with so much vermouth, both French and Italian, there's a strong case for Europe. 

On the other hand, I like the idea of making this cocktail with a blended whiskey made from the island nation of Scotland and American whiskey. That is Virginia Distilling Co. Brewer's Batch. It's similar to scotch and super mellow with a strong malt character and oak but very little peat if any. Then the whiskey's are married in a Scotch ale cask. This, I think unites the continents I mentioned above and makes for an unusual Manhattan variation.

  • 1 oz. blended whiskey (Virginia Distilling Co. Brewer's Batch used)
  • 1 oz. sweet vermouth (Cocchi dopo tetero used)
  • 1 oz. dry vermouth (Dolin extra dry used)
  • several dashes Angostura bitters
  • orange slice for garnish

Combine liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and pour into a chilled Old Fashioned glass. Garnish with the orange slice. 

Monday, August 10, 2020

Rangoon Swoon

What a funny combination of spirits and juices that make up this cocktail tribute to Myanmar's Rangoon River. If anything makes sense, and they usually don't when it comes to cocktail names, bananas seem to go with the idea of an Asian river region. That and oranges in the triple sec: not the pineapple, not the bourbon.

I use MurLarkey banana whiskey for creme de banane. It allows you to control for sweetness and you avoid cheapening a drink with fake banana flavor. MurLarkey distills whiskey, and that pairs well with bourbon and tropical fruit juice. There's character there, not to mention real banana flavor from dried bananas soaked in the whiskey. 

The overall reception of this cocktail is very positive. The glass is large, the alcohol is potent, and the crushed ice feels like a luxury when drinking with a straw. The recipe isn't specific on garnishes, but just about any flower or fruit slice will do. 

  • 1 oz. bourbon
  • 1 oz. creme de banane (MurLarkey banana whiskey used)
  • 1 oz. triple sec
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 oz. pineapple juice
  • 1 oz. sugar syrup (if not using creme de banane)

Combine all ingredients in a blender with ice. Flash blend and pour into a large wine glass using a gated strainer to catch large ice chunks.

Red Rover

There's something cosmopolitan (small "c" cosmopolitan) about then name Red Rover. As with all kids games and playground rhymes, we can all identify with the sensory details of those early life moments where we had fun with friends. 

As an adult, I appreciate this cocktail with its fun, juvenile flavor of sloe gin (which tastes like an Icee) and the color of the drink, which looks exactly like Clifford's red coat. Interestingly, the Red Rover game is called Ali Baba in Russia, where you'd think the word "red" would make an appearance. 

Anyway, if you like a Bourbon Sidecar with a peach slice and a brilliant red hue, this one is for you.
  • 1 1/2 oz. bourbon
  • 1/2 oz. sloe gin
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. sugar syrup
  • lemon slice
  • peach slice

Combine liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with fruit slices. 


Hanley Special

You don't find tangerine juice cocktails on every menu, and there's a reason for that. You pretty much have to juice tangerines: there's not canned substitute, and if you find it, it is probably sweetened nectar, not the natural fruit juice itself.

Tangarine tastes noticeably different from orange juice. It is tropical tasting, and in a drink like this with Falernum and so much tangarine, it can totally disguise itself as tropical ambrosia. 

With falernum being a spice driver here, the gin option is flexible. The vodka is doing the work in terms of alcohol, but you can choose the gin botanicals that suit your tastes. Here a dry gin is appropriate, but might come through as too much juniper for a tropical cocktail.  Vitae's Old Tom gin is probably as good a choice as any, with a touch of sweetness and a sugar (i.e. rum) base to give the drink a Caribbean feel.

  • 2 oz. vodka (Smirnoff 57 used)
  • 1 oz. gin (Vitae old Tom used)
  • 2/3 cup tangerine juice
  • falernum to taste 

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with crushed ice. Shake and pour into a chilled Old Fashioned glass. 

Mother's Whistler

Who's whistling at Mom? I can't make sense of this drink, other than someone thought it was the expected outcome when their mother started drinking. This is an all-out pineapple and vodka drink with the help of the dry fruitiness of kirsch. 

I don't have any pineapple sticks, as is recommended in the recipe, because I only have canned pineapple juice. But a little garnish goes a long way in signaling tropical flavor in this vacation-in-a-glass.

  • 1 1/2 oz. vodka (Smirnoff 57 used)
  • 4 oz. pineapple juice
  • 1/2 oz. orgeat syrup
  • dash kirsch
  • pineapple stick

Combine liquid ingredients in a shaker with crushed ice. Shake briefly and pour into a chilled Old Fashioned glass. Garnish with pineapple stick or whatever tropical flair you have around. 

Kurant Juice Break


This cocktail doesn't lie. It is a juicy drink. It is actually a proprietary Absolut Kurant vodka recipe that I've adapted to using my red currant liqueur and Smirnoff vodka. I also substituted Royal Combier for Grand Marnier because you can totally switch one spiced orange cognac for another. 

The Juice Break is best if you are using fresh squeezed orange juice as shown here. You can safe an orange slice from one of the oranges to garnish with.
  • 2 oz. vodka (Absolut Kurant suggested but Smirnoff used)
  • 1/2 oz. currant spirit (if you don't have Absolut Kurant)
  • 1/2 oz. Grand Marnier or Royal Combier
  • 2 oz. Orange Juice
  • orange slice
  • maraschino cherry
Combine liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and pour into a Cooler glass or a highball. Garnish with cherry and orange slice.

Swiss Manhattan


I love a good Manhattan, but sometimes they are too rich for summer sipping. This Swiss version has the dry vermouth of a summer Dry Manhattan with equally dry cocoa whiskey. Kirschwasser and a cherry suggest a chocolate covered cherry, but there's none of the sweetness you associate with chocolate drinks. 

That is because MurLarkey cocoa whiskey is white whiskey rested on bitter cocoa nibs. It is just as strong as whiskey with a bitter chocolate finish. 

I was disappointed with the New American Bartender's Guide recipe that not only didn't have chocolate, but included such a small proportion of whiskey. I've simply upped the size of the drink by adding cocoa whiskey, but kirschwasser does not add the sweetness that this old recipe anticipates--not the real kirschwasser, anyway. A few drops of sugar is preferable in the large size recipe. 
  • 1 1/2 oz. bourbon
  • 1 1/2 oz. MurLarkey cocoa whiskey
  • 1/2 oz. dry vermouth
  • 1/2 oz. kirschwasser
  • several dashes aromatic bitters (Hella used)
  • maraschino cherry
Combine all liquid ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the cherry. 

Crescent City Special


While its name describes a California coastal town, this drink is all New Orleans in style. Look at the evidence--Peychaud's bitters is quintessentially New Orleans, as is Herbsaint, the spirit that gives cocktails that herbal absinthe zing.
New Orleans cocktails usually combine bourbon, the American South's favorite spirit, with French ingredients. Bourbon and Herbsaint is a combination that is strong and aromatic with overtones of anise, licorice, vanilla and fruit. In small proportions, the anise is noticeable, but it doesn't overwhelm. Balance is central to a New Orleans cocktail.

I don't have Herbsaint, but I've opted to swap one absinthe substitute for another. Ricard, like Pernod, is a French herbal liqueur that imitates absinthe. When shaken with ice, it gets cloudy and brown. Orgeat, an almond syrup, also adds cloudiness that is desirable in this type of cocktail.
  • 2 oz. Bourbon
  • 1 tsp. Herbsaint (Ricard used)
  • several dashes Peychaud's Bitters 
  • several dashes Orgeat or to taste
  • lemon twist
Combine liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass Twist a lemon peel over the glass and drop it in.

Prohibition Bramble

We all know what to do when you have lemons, right? Well, when you have blackberries and lemons and gin, you make Brambles.

It's been a while since I've used my muddler.  But blackberries alone don't make the flavor of this cocktail. It is the combination of the berry and lemon juice, sugar and herbaceous gin that do the trick. I used my Prohibition-style bathtub gin, that simulates how people would flavor raw spirit back when buying gin was illegal. Despite the steeped, less refined gin, the Bramble is more interesting for it. 

You have to start with muddled berries for this drink. Fresh lemon juice and simple syrup are the ingredients that help you taste the berry juice. Have a fine mesh strainer in addition to the strainer you use for your shaker when you make this. You don't want the mess of all those seeds showing up in the drink.

  • 2 oz. gin (homemade steeped gin used)
  • 1 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. simple syrup
  • 5 blackberries
Muddle four blackberries in a shaker with lemon juice and simple syrup. Add the gin and cracked ice and shake. Double strain into an Old Fashioned glass full of fresh crushed ice and garnish with the remaining berry.



Friday, August 7, 2020

Vintage Martinis With Homemade Gins

Here aret two new gins I've been making at home. After several batches, I've settled on the recipes and I am ready to share them, knowing that they are pretty solid. It was a matter of proportions of botanicals to spirits, as well as a tricky trial and error period for infusion time.

Let me be clear, I don't have a still. I wouldn't mind getting into the weeds of how to make gin completely from grains. But I don't have the equipment and it is unlikely that my readers do either. Instead, I'm offering recipes for bathtub gin or steeped gin. These are neutral (or mostly neutral) spirits infused with gin botanicals. The types of gin, their recipes and cocktails I've used them in can be found below:

Dry Gin

Most gin drinkers are familiar with dry gins. There's no added sugar or juices, just dry fruit peels, berries and seeds. Feel free to adjust the recipe to your liking, but know that this method is safe.

In a large jar with an airtight lid add the following and allow to steep for three days. Strain out solids through mesh and store in a bottle with an airtight stopper or cap.

  • 1/4 cup juniper berries
  • 1 tbsp. angelica seeds
  • peel of 1/2 of a lemon
  • peel of 1/2 of an orange
  • 1 tsp. anise seeds (1/2 anise pod is okay but not ideal.)
  • 2-3 sprigs of basil
  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • 1 750-ml. bottle of 100-proof vodka  
Dutch Courage or Shiedam Gin

Steeped gin is kind of a Dutch tradition. The original Dutch genever was made with a malted barley mash with juniper berries fermenting in it. Then the mash was distilled and later flavored by steeping more botanicals. To replicate this malt distillate, I used moonshine rather than vodka. Climax Moonshine from Virginia has the perfect flavor that I'm looking for. It is made from corn, sugar and malted barley, so it has that beery nose that a Dutch gin needs. Finally, after steeping the botanicals, I added 1 1/2 oz. of malt whiskey. This is because Dutch gin is often aged for a few months. Malt whiskey like Copper Fox single malt or Virginia distillery whiskey will work. If you cant get these, use a single malt Irish whiskey. There's no peat in Dutch gin, so a malty and even slightly smoky whiskey will do, but not Scotch. 

Add the moonshine and all dry ingredients to a jar with an airtight lid and allow to steep for ten days. Strain out solids using a mesh strainer and add malt whiskey. Store in a bottle with an airtight stopper or cap.

  • 1/4 cup juniper berries
  • 1 tbsp. angelica seeds
  • 1/4 tsp. corriander
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed cardamom 
  • 1 pinch fresh rosemary
  • 1 pinch fresh basil
  • 1 tsp. dried birch leaves
  • 3 cups of Climax moonshine or other white whiskey with malt character
  • 1 1/2 oz. malt whiskey 

Classic Martini With Homemade Dry Gin:

This is classic Prohibition style Martini with classic proportions. Lots of gin and a fair amount of vermouth.  

  • 3 oz.  homemade dry gin
  • 1/2 oz. dry vermouth
  • 1 dash orange bitters
  • olives or lemon twist garnish

Stir liquid ingredients on ice in a mixing glass. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish according to preference.  

Classic Martinez With Dutch Courage

You want a gin that plays like whiskey for a Martinez. It's a lot like a Manhattan, or more so than a Martini. 

  • 3 oz. homemade Dutch courage
  • 1/2 oz. sweet vermouth
  • several dashes Luxardo maraschino liqueur
  • one dash orange or aromatic bitters
  • orange twist garnish

Combine liquid ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Twist the orange peel over the glass and drop it in. 

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Night Train

How do you spice up a pretty typical Gin Sour cocktail? By making it with a prohibition-style bathtub gin and a touch of kirsch.

Truthfully, this cocktail has a lot of trappings of the pre-Prohibition era: it's a potent gin drink with fresh juice and a name that suggests rail travel. Kirschwasser just happens to be one of the international spirits that bars would have had in the U.S. and a well-traveled person would know of its ability to lend potent fruit-scented punch to drinks when they are served up.

It's the large flat surface of a coup glass that really gives off whiffs of evaporating alcohol that is pleasing to drinkers. Gin itself, with its herbal and citrus botanicals really dances under the nose. Kirsch, which is distilled cherry juice, is a little darker with a smoother flavor and a rustic taste similar to pisco.

Making your own bathtub (steeped gin) is easy with 100-proof vodka, some juniper berries and citrus peels. Just throw about 20 juniper berries in a jar with just a peel of lemon and orange. I like a dozen angelica seeds and a dozen anise seeds as well as a sprig of basil and rosemary, but that's my preference. I've learned that understeeping is better than oversteeping, though, so strain out the solids after about three days.

The result is a green colored gin that is pretty dry and strong. It has the hearty flavor profile of a Prohibition era gin made the same way (hopefully not in a bathtub).    
  • 2 oz. gin (homemade dry gin used)
  • 1 oz. Cointreau (triple sec used)
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • dash kirsch
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Port Light

This is one of those majestic tasting cocktails that are only possible with highly specialized ingredients like La Grande Passion and honey whiskey. Of course, I make a lot of my own ingredients, so what you see here is a cocktail made almost entirely from my knocked off spirits collection. And honey whiskey isn't a requirement at all. The recipe I'm providing allows you to use hone and whiskey separately.

The advantage of honey whiskey for a bartender, however, is huge. Honey is very hard to work with in an environment where you cannot easily produce heat. Now that I'm mostly bartending in my kitchen, I have electrical burners. But you won't often see a bar where the bartender heats up something before adding it to a drink, which is what you have to do when you use honey.

Cold honey becomes a chunk of sugar when you shake it on ice. It gets left behind in the shaker and the drink comes out too tart. That is why honey whiskey exists in the first place. You skip a step when building a drink if you don't have to add hot water to your honey. And there are a lot of honey whiskey products out there--Irish Mist being my longtime favorite. But get your own bottle of whiskey and add two tablespoons of honey to it and let that expand into the spirit. You'll have your own infinitely more drinkable (if it was cheap) whiskey and a go-to sweetener to boot.
  • 2 oz. bourbon (or honey whiskey)
  • 1/2 oz. La Grande Passion
  • 1/2 oz. honey (50:50 mixed with hot water if you don't have honey whiskey)
  • 1 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 egg white (or double the recipe, make two and drink them both)
  • several mint sprigs
Combine liquid ingredients including egg white in a shaker with cracked ice. Shake vigorously and pour into Collins glass. Garnish with mint.

Pere Bise

In French, this cocktail is called "Father Kiss." I'm hoping it is a chaste kiss, which is why I am showing off my Sacre Coeur Basilica coaster. I got it from the gift shop there years ago.

This is another one of those cases where blended whiskey is the recommended base spirit, but feel free to take it in any direction you want with the exception, maybe, of blended scotch. Blended whiskey is usually very malleable in terms of a spirit category. So I usually opt for flavors that compliment the rest of the ingredients. You could use Bourbon and send it sweeter, and a scotch would add sweetness and smoke. But this is already an herbaceous and citrusy drink. With an egg white in it, I wouldn't want to risk going too rich. That's why I've got the lemon whiskey out for it.

Overall, this is a very classy Egg Sour kind of cocktail with the pastis there just to suggest French herbs de Marseilles. It is interesting that in this instance the recipe calls for keeping the ice, which I think tames the foam. Next time I'd like to see what would happen if I really got a foamy top on this glass. Without ice, I'd have the room to do that.
  • 1 1/2 oz. blended whiskey (MurLarkey lemon whiskey used)
  • 1/2 oz. Cherry Herring
  • 1/4 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 egg white (or double the recipe and make two so you can drink them both)
  • several dashes Pernod (Ricard used)
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with crushed ice. Shake vigorously and pour into a Sour glass

Peach Smash Margarita (Original Recipe)

Technically this is closer to a Smash than a Margarita, but I wanted to have a tequila drink, and Bird Dog doesn't actually add much whiskey flavor because the artificial peach flavor is so strong.

I've finally bought a bottle of my favorite tequila, Corralejo! It is a reposado with a lot of caramel notes that come through even better than Patron Anejo or Don Julio. Why does this matter? I like a tequila that is just as good by itself, neat, as it is in a cocktail. And the price, which is always a factor when I say something is my favorite, is very reasonable. It's no wonder that my former favorite tequila was Sauza Anejo.

This cocktail is the first I've needed a muddler for since covid-19 hit this year. I'd prefer not to be too fussy with my drink preparations if I can help it, and muddling seems like an extra step. If you are going to do that, you might as well get out a blender. But it is high summer now and I feel like the fresh ingredients require the respect of fresh muddling.

It was an easy drink to make, despite all that. Muddle in the shaker with your juice and add liquor. I recommend removing the peel from the peach because this drink isn't going to be strained--it's a smash.
  • 1 1/2 oz. tequila (Corralejo used)
  • 1/2 oz. peach liqueur (Bird Dog peach whiskey used)
  • 1/2 oz. triple sec
  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • 1/2 pealed ripe peach sliced
  • tsp. of sugar syrup or to taste.
Combine sugar, juice and peach in a shaker and muddle until the peach slices are nicely pulverized. Add liquors and ice and shake. Pour into a chilled Old Fashioned glass and garnish with a peach slice from the remaining half of the fruit.

Chocolate Soldier

This cocktail has an enigmatic name until you realize that Chocolate Soldier is a breed of peony that has this exact color. The color comes from Dubonnet Rouge, a rich--and appropriately chocolatey--fortified wine from France.

The other ingredient, besides lime juice, is gin. For this post I decided to show off my homemade bathtub gin. My first batch of the stuff was questionable: oversteeped and bitey, it had all the tannin and none of the freshness of a proper gin. I'm happy to say that this latest batch came out remarkably well.
  • 1 1/2 oz. gin (homemade used)
  • 1 oz. Dubonnet Rouge
  • 1/2 oz. lime juice
 Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.