Monday, November 30, 2020

Napoleon Sidecar


If you are just flipping through your bar book, this recipe will strike you immediately as grand for a variation on a Sidecar. That is not to say that it isn't, but subbing in a liqueur called Mandarine Napoleon for orange flavored brandy sounds like an imperial move. 

I've read somewhere that after you have finished your Cointreau and are done with triple secs in general, the next bottle of orange liqueur you need to get is Mandarine Napoleon. It's just that I can't get it where I live. So I knocked it off with cognac, lots of mandarin orange juice and peels, sugar and a whiff of cardamon seeds. I don't recommend this approach, but it is lovely and, while it took a month of steeping, was almost worth the wait. 

I think what greatly helped this cocktail was the use of Martel single distillery cognac. I'm so happy to have found a good deal on this cognac, a littler wilder tasting than ultra smooth blends but a no-brainer buy when lesser quality brandies often cost more.

I found this recipe on Difford's guide 

  • 1 1/2 oz. cognac (Martel VS single distillery used)
  • 1 oz. Mandarine Napoleon (homemade used)
  • 1 oz lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. sugar syrup
  • lemon slice

Coat the rim of a cocktail glass with sugar by rubbing it with a lemon slice and dipping it into a saucer covered with sugar. (Do this ahead of time so you can chill it.) Combine spirits, sugar syrup and lemon juice in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into the cocktail glass. Garnish with the lemon slice.

Apple Buck


Another Buck cocktail that eschews the use of lime juice for lemon. At least the ginger ale is still present as well as the addition of something very special: ginger brandy.

When I taste this cocktail, I can see why these variations were made to the usual Buck recipe of spirit, lime juice and ginger ale. For one thing, applejack isn't a clear spirit like light rum, gin or vodka--the main spirits used in a Buck. Applejack tastes better with lemon than lime--or at least the acidity of lemon juice does not detract from the aged fruit spirit taste in the way that lime juice does. 

Then, since we need to sweeten the drink a little, here comes ginger brandy, which tastes great with applejack as well. Top with ginger ale and you have a spiced apple fizzy drink that started as a Buck and is now something entirely different and perhaps better. 

  • 1 1/2 oz. apple brandy or calvados (Laird's Applejack 86 used)
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. ginger brandy
  • ginger ale (Teddy's used)
  • candied ginger piece

Build drink in a Collins glass with juice and spirits. Add ice and top with ginger ale and stir gently. Garnish with the piece of ginger.

Ginger Jolt


I thought that a drink with "Jolt" in the name would involve cola or coffee--something with caffeine. Well this easy sipper has soda, and as such is good any time of the year. It is light in body and sweetness, but there's a rich ginger and vanilla flavor that you can't beat on a gloomy winter's day. 

It seems like you can get ginger wine now, at specialty stores like Total Wine, but I can't think it is readily available. The other option is to make it yourself, a sort of brewed sugar beverage flavored with ginger. I still don't trust myself, and as with my recipe for the Gingersnap, I decided to use my homemade ginger brandy instead. This brandy is so heavily spiced and sweetened, it is almost as if it is a proofed up, flat  ginger beer. The result is more than acceptable, and if you purchase Domaine de Canton, you can do this as easily as I have.

  • 1 1/2 oz. blended whiskey (bourbon used)
  • 3/4 oz. ginger wine (homemade ginger brandy used)
  • slice of ginger root
  • club soda

Build cocktail in a Collins glass with spirits and cracked ice. Top with club soda and stir. Garnish with the ginger root. 

Pusser's Pain Killer


There's not much difference between the standard Pain Killer and the Pusser's variety other than it is a proprietary recipe of the British Navy rum. And when you use Guyana rum like this, it is a major feature of the drink. It tastes more like fresh cane sugar than a heavy molasses rum, for one thing. The other is that a lot of it will have you feeling no pain. 

So adjusting for the difference in rum and pineapple juice, which is higher in this recipe than standard, there's just the question of nutmeg. The recipe doesn't call for it, but I feel it is an integral part of the Pain Killer experience, like salt on a Margarita. So while it is in the picture, because that is the way I like it, you don't need to use it if you don't. 

In fact, don't go out of your way to get nutmeg for this recipe, or spend time looking for the British flag you used to get with every bottle of Pusser's. Mine didn't come with a flag. I just made sure to use red and blue straws to signify the Union Jack. 

  • 4 oz. Pusser's British Navy rum
  • 4 oz. pineapple juice
  • 1 oz. orange juice
  • 1 oz. coconut cream or syrup
  • orange slice as garnish
  • tiny British flag (optional, but go for some British symbolism in the garnsih)
Combine all ingredients except orange slice and other garnishes with cracked ice in a shaker or blender. Shake or blend briefly and pour into a chilled Collins glass. Garnish with orange slice and British Flag. (Note: nutmeg is pictured but not required for this recipe.)


Ginger Snap


Not to be confused with the vodka drink of the same name, (but written as one word) the Ginger Snap is a Whiskey and Cola variation. The major difference is the use of ginger flavored brandy (not ginger wine, as in the Gingersnap.)

Right now the most common brand of ginger flavored brandy is Domain de Canton. I have a passable substitute made from candied ginger infused Korbel brandy. By sweetening up the infused liquor to a cordial level, I've got a spicy spirit to slip in any drink to lift it above the basic spirit and mixer.

Speaking of not being basic, I thought I'd give Fentiman's Curiosity Cola a try and I was not sorry. Again, it is a matter of craft ingredients when they make up the majority of the drink. I can't say that I always do this, especially when social drinking, but right now, little things like craft cola go a long way to improving my drinking experience.

The recipe calls for blended whiskey, and you can feel free to use Canadian whiskey or Seagram's 7 Crown if you are a stickler. I had straight bourbon, but I felt that was acceptable, as is Tennessee whiskey. But I would draw the line at blended scotch and you might not want an Irish whiskey either. Cola, and this rich one in particular, wants to paired with vanilla notes from American oak, so an American style is preferable. 

  • 1 oz. blended whiskey (bourbon used, American recommended)
  • 1 oz. ginger flavored brandy (homemade used or Domain de Canton)
  • 6 oz. cola (Fentiman's used)
  • several dashes lemon juice
  • (optional cherry garnish pictured)

Build drink with liquors in a Collins Glass. Add ice and cola and stir gently. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and garnish if desired.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Golfe Juan


I'm breaking out the French-themed drinks, even though not all ingredients are French in and of themselves. Golfe-Juan is a seaside resort on France's Côte d'Azur. The place has an air of tropical paradise to it with all the trappings of French tourist sites. The cocktail blends these two attitudes perfectly with European liqueurs of the golden age of cocktails and pineapple and lemon juice.

Altogether, you can possibly have as many as three European nationalities represented in one touristy cocktail: French brandy, Italian maraschino liqueur, and German kirschwasser. Don't use an American sweet kirsch. It tastes like cherry candy and you already have maraschino for that. A true kirsch, however will easily float on this drink, kicking up the alcoholic nose and giving the whole drink the boozy beachside cafe feel you are looking for.

  • 1 1/2 oz. brandy (Korbel used but use cognac to make it more French)
  • 1/2 oz. maraschino liqueur like Luxardo
  • 1 oz. pineapple juice
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. kirsch float (Kammer Kirsch used)
Combine all ingredients except for kirsch in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Use a bar spoon to float the kirsch on top of the drink.

Eve's Seduction


This French-style aperatif cocktail does not appear in any of my bar books. Instead, I found the recipe on Lee Spirits website for their revival of a liqueur known as Forbidden Fruit. It is almost winter, so I made a small batch of my own Forbidden Fruit recipe in order to try Lee Spirit's Eve's Seduction and other recipes. 

Forbidden Fruit is a brandy-based spirit that has bright citrus notes, particularly grapefruit (the original forbidden fruit, or so it is said). The liqueur itself is sweetened with honey, though this recipe calls for some honey as well. Since the amaro is not specified, I think Averna or Montenegro will suffice or maybe Amer Picon if you can make or find that. I had free choice to use Don Ciccio and Figili's Ambrosia. Now Ambrosia is the sweetest of their Italian bitters, with plenty of its own honey flavor, I felt justified in leaving out the additional honey for fear of creating a honey bomb. 

This drink turned out well. A perfect sipper before or after dinner. I was happy with the elegant look and color and put it in my cordial glass to show that off. Additionally, the flavor was a lovely blend of bitterness and sweet honey.

If you happen to buy a bottle of Lee Spirit's Forbidden Fruit, and I hope you do if you can get it, I'm including the recipe as it is printed on the website. I'm making a note, however, as to the use of a half ounce of honey. If you put that much honey in your shaker, it will solidify before you pour the drink. You should make a 1:1 ratio mixture of honey simple using honey and warm water. Then only use half an ounce of the honey simple in the cocktail. 

  • 1 oz. dry gin (homemade used)
  • 1 oz. Forbidden Fruit
  • 1/2 oz. amaro (Don Ciccio and Figili Ambrosia used)
  • 1/2 oz. honey syrup
  • (lemon twist or slice as garnish recommended but not included on the original recipe)

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

Bess Arlene

I'm on a French cocktail swing again, this time with Ricard in place of Pernod and Korbel brandy as the base spirit. Whoever Bess Arlene was, I bet she was French. This cocktail of hers is all about the Parisian cafe experience--sipping a light cocktail like this as the sun sets on the Seine. 

For pastis and absinthe substitutes, Ricard is a great choice when it comes to giving a few drops of herbal pop to your sodas or lining the glass of a Sazerac. I woudn't use it in place of real absinthe in a Frappe or other all-absinthe drinks. Because it becomes a cloudy gray-brown, I also wouldn't try to treat it like the green-colored Pernod when it comes to all-Pernod drinks. But in cases like this where it only comes down to a few drops, who can tell the difference between Parisian Pernod and Mersaille's Ricard. 

  • 1 1/2 oz. brandy (Korbel used)
  • 1/2 oz. curacao (triple sec used)
  • club soda
  • dash Pernod (Ricard used)

Pour brandy and curacao into a chilled Collins glass and fill with ice. Top with soda and add Pernod on top before stirring gently.


Adrienne's Dream

I can totally see where this is going. A bartender or guest has an idea--something that comes to one in a dream after drinking too many Stingers. The flavor remains with you as you nod off and nearly vanishes upon waking. How to get that flavor of a potent rocks drink in a light and refreshing soda? 

The trick is dilution and proportion. Creme de menthe is fun to drink in large quantities, but it is so sugary. Even mixed at a disadvantage with brandy and served on ice, it leaves you feeling tired and looking for someplace to lie down. Whoever Adrienne was, she figured out fun way to have your brandy, mint and chocolate so that it can continue all night long.

  • 2 oz. brandy (Korbel used)
  • 1/2 oz. peppermint schnapps (white creme de menthe used)
  • 1/2 oz. white creme de cacao
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar syrup or to taste
  • club soda
  • mint sprig garnish

Combine brandy, liqueurs, sugar syrup and juice in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a Collins glass full of fresh ice. Top with soda and stir gently. Garnish with the mint. 

Escoffier Cocktail


This cocktail is named after the famous French chef school started by Auguste Escoffier. The concept is simplicity and elegance, like French cuisine. A lot of French cocktails, made for cafe sipping, are pro-forma calvados or apple brandy mixed with some aperitif wine, and this is no exception. Laird's Applejack 86 is as rich as any apple brandy. And while it doesn't have that dry French oak whiff of Normandy calvados, there's nothing wrong with mixing it with Dubonnet rouge and bittering it up with Angostura. 

  • 1 1/2 oz. apple brandy or calvados (Applejack 86 used)
  • 3/4 Cointreau (triple sec used)
  • 3/4 Dubonnet rouge
  • dash Angostura bitters
  • maraschino cherry (Bada Bing cherry used)
 Combine liquid ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the cherry. 

High Appleball


I had to laugh when I saw the name of this drink. I'm sure it was so dubbed because drunk people kept failing at calling it an Apple Highball! It is the applejack equivalent of a Tito's and Vodka!

All jokes aside, this is one dive bar cocktail that stands up well with flavor and practicality. You don't want to stump a bartender or go out on a limb for complicated ingredients at a dive bar. Admittedly, you won't find applejack on every bar, but the chances are good that it is simply there gathering dust. You probably won't spend too much on it either. I really love Applejack 86 for its quality and fair price. 

Another thing that you'll find at dive bars is your basic ginger ale--it's the most popular mixer behind plain soda. Here I'm testing out Teddy's ginger ale. It's not a fancy ginger ale or a spicy ginger beer that's cropped up recently. I think Teddy's serves this drink well in that it doesn't overpower the spirit. In fact, that is the beauty of cheap ginger ale--you use it as a back following a shot or a way to tone down the burn of strong spirits. You don't actually want something to increase the heat after a shot. So Teddy's is fine, but don't go mixing a Moscow Mule with it, you'll be disappointed. Stick to mixing it with your applejack.

  • 2 oz. apple brandy (Applejack 86 used)
  • ginger ale (Teddy's)
  • lemon twist

Build cocktail with ice and apple brandy in a highball glass. Top with ginger ale (or club soda or a mix of the two as other options). Twist a lemon zest over the glass and drop it in.

Ho-Ho-Kus Pocus


Is this a Christmas cocktail or did you just stutter? I'm asking because the phrase Hocus Pocus is a medieval term that mocked the use of Latin in church. Adding an additional "ho" to the phrase makes it sound like Santa is doing magic. Either that or you've had too many drinks already, as I'm sure I've already had. Somehow, though, I don't think that this is a typo.

The one thing I did think was a typo was to pour the drink, ice and all, into the cocktail glass. That's seldom done unless it is a blended drink. One could do that, but it would destroy the subtle flavors that the drink has going for it. Sure, you could blend it, but you'd want more sugar.

This cocktail comes out pretty dry and stiff. If there's any magic to it, it is the idea of mixing three spirits that don't always work well together. Applejack and brandy go well together; as do brandy and bourbon--but all three? The trick, it seems, is to use only a few dashes of bourbon as vanilla flavor. You might as well use vanilla extract. My impression is that the whole mix isn't as sweet as it could be, but I didn't mind. I was drinking a lot of cocktails at the time.

  • 1 oz. applejack (Laird's Applejack 86 used)
  • 1 oz. Brandy (Korbel used)
  • several dashes bourbon (Virginia Gentleman used)

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice.  Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. (Alternative recipe: blend all ingredients with a tsp. of suger and pour into the cocktail glass.)



This simple cocktail was an excellent way to showcase my homemade ginger brandy. Now it is just diluted with the brandy I used to make it with more simple syrup and grated ginger on top. It is a winner and a spicy way to sip brandy on a cold night. 

The portion is a bit small for a cocktail glass, so I broke with tradition and chose a cordial glass that looks a bit more like a grenade. I'm sure if you drink the Grenadier quickly enough, the warmth in your stomach will feel like an explosion.

  • 1 1/2 oz. brandy (Korbel used)
  • 3/4 oz. ginger brandy (homemade ginger brandy used)
  • dash of simple syrup or to taste
  • pinch of grated ginger

Combine liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass (cordial glass pictured). Garnish with a pinch of ginger sprinkled on top. 

Ginger Jones


This is a fun cocktail for winter sipping. I especially like how ginger and orange juice play off of each other to create a warming sensation in a cold drink, especially when served in an Old Fashioned glass where there is more spirit-to-juice ratio.

This is the first use of my ginger brandy made from Korbel and a combination of fresh and dry ginger. To make it, I soaked a quarter cup of candied ginger and a tsp. of fresh chopped ginger in a jar with about six ounces of brandy. After a week, I strained out the solids and folded an ounce of simple syrup into the liquor. 

I'm especially proud that I found an old defunct label from Paramount Distillers in Cleveland. In the prohibition era, they used to label their ginger brandy as medicinal for stomach aches. Feel free to take this cocktail for medicinal pourposes.

  • 1 1/2 oz. brandy (Korbel used)
  • 1/2 oz. ginger brandy (homemade used)
  • 1 oz. orange juice
  • 1/2 oz. lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. simple syrup or to taste
  • candied ginger garnish

Combine all liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and pour into a chilled Old Fashioned glass. Garnish with the ginger piece.

Newton's Gravity Apple


This is a funny and sublime name for a cocktail made with applejack. I can just see it now. A physics major drinking at a bar asks for some kind of a cocktail that he can name after Issac Newton. Afterward there is some confusion among the laity as to why applejack is an important ingredient. The bartender explains that its the "gravity apple guy's drink!"

Even so, this simple cocktail suffices. I'm really enjoying Laird's Applejack 86. This is the third bottle I've purchased and I like it better than their 80-proof for its strength and flavor and I'm not sure I'll bother buying aged apple brandy again.

  • 1 1/2 oz. apple brandy (Laird's Applejack 86 used--as it is actually apple brandy)
  • 1/2 oz. curacao or triple sec (Leroux triple sec used)
  • several dashes Angostura bitters
  • apple slice (optional garnish)
Combine spirits in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. The apple slice is not required but it is a nice touch.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Ambassador West


I'm not sure which historical figure that this drink's name refers to, but I bet it isn't the Ambassador West hotel. If I had to decide, I think I would go with the novel by the same name by Mark West. The fact that the book is about an assassination plot against South Vietnam's president in the 1960s is a not congruent with a Martini variation that makes copious use of brandy. 

As far as Martinis go, this variation is a winner. I really like how brandy changes the texture a little so that it is richer and a little silky. I knew that the brandy had potential to cover over the gin, however, so I went with a spicy gin that I made at home through infusion. This gin is high on juniper and as dry as 100-proof vodka that it is made from. There is some lemon peel and fresh herb garden notes, but overall, the gin is designed to stand out, and it should. The ingredients that flavor it were steeping in vodka for a week and their influence arrives in the glass. 

  • 1 1/2 oz. brandy (Korbel used)
  • 1 oz. gin (homemade used and dry gin recoomended)
  • 1/2 tsp. dry gin (Dolin used)
  • green olive
Combine liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Drop the olive into the drink. 

San Remo


San Remo is a beautiful coastal town in northern Italy. Like the bright colors of the rooftops of San Remo, the cocktail of the same name has a brilliant hue. The Italian Alpine spirit, Strega is a white brandy-based liquor flavored with a secret recipe of herbs and spices such as saffron and mint. 

The San Remo is designed to spread out this flavor across a dry palate of herbal gin. That is the reason I chose Bulldog for its light London dry style. Is it a good drink? It is balanced, is is fresh and herbacious and bright despite having no citrus juice. So yes, unless you don't like Strega, and then I can't help you.

  • 2 oz. gin (Bulldog used)
  • 1 oz. Strega
  • 1/2 oz. dry vermouth (Dolin extra dry used)

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

Alabammy Bound

The name, of course, refers to the southern state of Alabama where peaches and peach liqueur are symbolic of Southern drinking. The recipe calls for Louisiana's proprietary liqueur, Southern Comfort, but other peach flavored spirits are also acceptable. 

For this drink, I used a sample of Evan Williams peach bourbon, which seems appropriate because of Bourbon's prominent place in southern cocktails. It is the brandy that seems out of place in an Alabama-themed cocktail. That is, at least, until you realize that Southern Comfort is a brandy--not a bourbon--spirit. 

I heartily recommend this cocktail. The peach flavor tastes unique when paired with citrus and mint. This drink stands out from many southern-styled cocktails like the Alabama Slammer and a whole host eye catching drinks made from  flavored and artificially colored liqueurs. I enjoied Evan Williams peach bourbon so much that I would be happy to buy a full-sized bottle. 

  • 1 oz. brandy (Korbel used)
  • 1 oz. Southern Comfort (Evan Williams peach bourbon used
  • 1 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar syrup or to taste
  • mint sprig

Combine liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the mint sprig. 

Brandy Julep


Since both bourbon and brandy are aged in oak, albeit oak from different origins, it stands to reason that a brandy based Mint Julep would be a thing. Making it is similar to the bourbon version as well. The recipe is a little loose since it requires freezing the Julep cup with crushed ice and making a muddled mint simple in the glass. Therefore, exact proportions are not listed. You have to make the ingredients work for you, and being beholden to a specific set of measurements can work against the overall cocktail.

I recommend that you have more than enough simple syrup on hand to get started. You can cap the amount of brandy to about three ounces, but feel free to experiment with that proportion. What you really need is about two trays of crushed ice cubes. This estimate is a little high, but you don't want to come up short.

  • brandy (Korbel used)
  • simple syrup
  • 6 mint leaves 
  • mint sprig
  • confectioner's sugar
  • crushed ice

In a metal Julep cup, muddle mint leaves and 1/2 oz. simple syrup. Add crushed ice and churn with a bar spoon while adding brandy. The goal is to mix the ingredients while lowering the temperature of the cup. Add ice and brandy as needed and continue to churn until ice forms on the outside of the Julep cup. The end result should have a mound of fresh crushed ice above the lip of the cup. Garnish with mint sprigs and sprinkle with confectioner's sugar.

Brandana Cooler


This is the cousin of the Brandana Frappe that includes real banana and club soda to make it a fizzy Cooler. I think I like this version better, though, because of its larger (and more sturdy) glassware format and the inclusion of banana slices. 

You can see that I chose this recipe to use up my bottle MurLarkey banana whiskey. As always I remind readers to use a little sugar or sugar syrup to compensate for the dryness of MurLarkey products when you substitute them for sweeter cremes. With regards to the banana slice used as a garnish, I also like to throw a few slices into the blender. Banana adds texture to a blended cocktail, so by all means put some in there if that suits you as it does me.

  • 1 1/2 oz. brandy (Korbel used)
  • 3/4 creme de banane (MurLarkey banana whiskey and 2 tsp. sugar syrup used)
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • club soda
  • lemon wedge
  • banana slice

Combine brandy, banana liqueur, lemon juice (and banana slices if desired) with cracked ice in a blender. Blend until smooth and pour into a chilled Collins glass. Top with soda and stir gently. Garnish with the lemon wedge and banana slice. 

Adrienne's Dream

I'm not sure who this Adrienne is, but the dream she had just came true with this cocktial. I often overlook fizzy drinks and those that combine creme de cocoa and mint liqueurs as simply being gimics. Something else caught my eye in this instance, though. There wasn't a call for green creme de menthe to make a glaringly green soda--the only colorful liqueur is the brandy. The proprotion of the liqueurs to the rest of the ingredietns is so small that the flavors are more like suggestions to the senses than a main aspect of the overall drink. 

Brandy is the big feature here, and it is a rich, oaky brandy like California's Korbel to carry the weight of this cocktail. Citrus, which seems misplaced in a drink with sweet liqueurs, is actually a major element of the Adrienne's Dream's balance. Again, the cremes add a lot in small proportion, and the lemon juice just makes the drink feel light and fresh. 

  • 2 oz. brandy (Korbel used)
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. creme de cacao
  • 1/2 oz. white peppermint schnapps
  • club soda
  • mint sprig
Combine lemon juice and spirits in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled Collins glass full of fresh ice.  Top it with soda and stir gently before garnishing with the mint sprig.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Apple Bang!

This cocktail comes with an exclamation point! And I have to say that it deserves it. Seldom do I come across a blended apple cider cocktail that includes egg white and has a specific suggestion of glassware and all of the elements work out perfectly. It is truely an ace of a drink that is frothy, rises perfectly above the glass and is delicious to the last sip.

  • 2 oz. calvados or applejack (Laird's Applejack 86 used)
  • 3 oz. apple cider
  • several dashes lemon juice
  • 1 egg white
  • club soda
  • 1 tsp. apple schnapps

Combine all ingredients except soda and schnapps in a blender with crushed ice. Blend until frothy and pour into a large wine goblet. Fill with cold club soda and top with apple schnapps.

Jack Rabbit

This cocktail is a fun play on the Jack Rose, originally a sour cocktail with applejack, lime juice and grenadine. The minor changes to the recipe include swapping out the lime juice for lemon and orange and using maple syrup instead of grenadine. The result is a sweeter cocktail that doesn't have the characteristic red glow of the Rose family of cocktails. But, as the name suggests, the Jack remains and its fruitiness is accentuated by the orange juice and maple syrup. Now you really notice that you are having apple brandy and not some flavorless apple spirit.
  • 1 1/2 oz. applejack (Laird's Applejack 86 used)
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. orange juice
  • 1 tsp. maple syrup

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

Apple Knocker

What a silly sounding name for a cocktail. I can only surmise that the knocking that goes on is in your head when the apple brandy reaches your brain--this recipe callso for three ounces of the stuff. Despite the fact that not much of the rest of this cocktail contains any apples, the name and the apple brandy (I used Laird's Applejack 86, which is an apple brandy) suggest the flavor of apples nonetheless. Perhaps it's the caramel in the sweet vermouth, but I felt like this was a candy apple of a drink.

  • 3 oz. apple brandy (Applejack 86 used)
  • 1/2 oz. sweet vermouth (Cocchi di Torino used)
  • 4 oz. orange juice
  • 1/2 oz. sugar syrup
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and pour into a chilled Collins glass.

Boomerang (Swedish Punsch Version)

The Boomerang that I know is a Martini variation with a dash of Angoastura bitters and maraschino liqueur. This is more of a Manhattan variation. There's rye, dry vermouth, and Swedish punsch, which is a rum-based spirit with spices and citrus. (Note: the bottle pictured is actually my own recipe for Swedish punch, not the name on the lable.) The punsch added a sweetness that I was not accustomed to in a dry Manhattan, and it was a welcome change that made this cocktail unusual and more international than the standard New York drink. This is another cocktail recipe that I came across in researching Swedish punch and does not appear in any recipe book I've used.

  • 1 oz. rye (North Fork rye used)
  • 1 oz. dry vermouth (Dolin used)
  • 1 oz. Swedish punshc (homemade used)
  • 1 dash lemon juice
  • 1 dash angostura bitters
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Brandana Frappe

This is an odd cocktail in that it is a frappe (blender cocktail) of an already blended drink by the same name. I suspect that because this was the easier cocktail to make having no fresh banana, it was invented later as an easier substitute. It is also strange that even thought the name suggests brandy (Brand-ana), it is apple brandy that shows up. The selection, however, was thoughtful because the overall experience is fruity: apples, bananas and oranges. It's a liquor lunchbox!

  • 1 1/2 oz. applejack (Applejack 86 used)
  • 1/2 oz. creme de banana (MurLarkey banana whiskey and 1/2 oz. simple syrup used)
  • 1/2 oz. lime juice
  • orange slice garnish

Combine liquid ingredients in a blender with cracked ice. Blend and pour into a wine glass and garnish with orange slice. 



From the name, you might guess that this is a tropical drink. And I would say you're not quite wrong. Swedish punsch isn't exactly a Nordic ingredient--it's a recipe. A punch cocktail known as caloric or Swedish punch was popular at the beginning of the 20th century. Eventually it was bottled like a bottled cocktail or a punch ingredient that had wide distribution. Prohibition ended this, however, and now the only Swedish Punsch you can find is in the Scandinavian countries. (Note: this is not the modern Kronan Swedish Punsch but a recipe I've made that replicates it in a bottle with a fake lablel.)

The Diki Diki is very tropical in fact. Swedish punsch includes cloves and cardamon, so it has that equatorial bitter note. There's also black tea and lemon scent sweetened with brown sugar. The spirits are a combination of rums, but in this case, my recipe involves mixing MurLarkey lemon and three tea whiskies with rum. 

  • 1 1/2 oz. applejack (Laird's applejack 86 used)
  • 1 oz. Swedish punsch (homemade recipe used)
  • 1 oz. grapefruit juice 

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

Monday, November 9, 2020

Doctor Cocktail (#3)


I found this recipe in a photo of a 1900s vintage restaurant menu. Jotted under the name Dr. Cocktail were three simple ingredients in equal proportions. The only spirit is Swedish punsch, a bottled punch that was very popular a century ago. This concoction (the bottle is mine and the label is inaccurately displaying a popular Swedish punch brand that is not available near me) is a mix of rum and Batavia Arrack that is sweetened and spiced with cardamon and cloves. I made this version using flavored spirits as well as natural spices.

Note: Difford's Guide says that this recipe is also known as the Doctor #3.

  • 1 oz. Swedish Punsch (Homemade version used)
  • 1 oz. orange juice
  • 1 oz. lime juice

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

Apple Blossom #1 & #2


This is a double post featuring both Apple Blossom recipes. These drinks are similar but use different spirits. The Apple Blossom #1 (pictured right) is an apple juice and brandy cocktail, but the inventor of the Apple Blossom #2 went one step further and made the cocktail with apple brandy. The second is a major improvement, one because there is even more apple flavor, but also because it is better balanced with maple syrup.

Here they are in order:

Apple Blossom #1

  • 1 1/2 oz. brandy (Korbel used)
  • 1 oz. apple juice
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • lemon slice

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

 Apple Blossom #2

  • 1 1/2 oz. applejack (Laird's used)
  • 1 oz. apple juice
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. maple syrup
  • lemon slice
 Combine all liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon slice. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Smokehouse Bacon Bloody


Before you say anything about the size of the glass, the original Bloody Mary cocktail specifies an Old Fashioned glass. It wasn't until much later that Bloody Marys became the tall pint glass or pitcher thing that they are now. The sad thing about that evolution, however, is that it hides the flavor of the booze under twice as much tomato juice and hot sauce. What if you want to taste the spirit you used?

Well, you can't miss MurLarkey's Smokehouse whiskey. The bacon smoke accentuates the peppery and tangy Bloody mix and just demands that you add a slice of bacon to the drink. Generally I'm in favor of outlandish garnishes with Snapper genre cocktails. But I prefer there to be balance: anytime your garnishes are larger than the drink itself, you are just hung over and hungry. So in the spirit of balance, a lime slice is a lovely addition. 

  • 1 1/2 oz. MurLarkey Smokehouse whiskey
  • 4 oz. Bloody Mary mix, Clamato or use a homemade Red Snapper recipe
  • coarse sea salt
  • lime slice
  • slice of bacon
Rim an Old Fashioned glass in salt by rubbing the lime wedge around it and dipping it in a shallow dish of sea salt. Combine liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake. Pour into the Old Fashioned glass and garnish with bacon and lime slice.

The Highlander


I love scotch; I love the peat smoke, the sweet maltiness of the barley, and the raisin-like fug of sherry cask that you get from whisky of the northern Scottish Highlands. For me, a chilled scotch cocktail is a rival of any bourbon or rye Manhattan. But quality single malt scotch is super expensive right now. It's not something that you just want to throw into a mixed drink and slam quickly. That is why I went to some effort to create a scotch cocktail using local Virginia whiskey.

Scotch has a flavor that is hard to imitate with other ingredients. Blended scotch is particularly hard, but it is possible to knock off regional expressions of the Highland spirit. Highland whiskey is well rounded, with it's maltiness central to the flavor profile. Smoke is understated in most cases, but some distillers rely on used sherry casks to finish their whisky. In The Highlander, I bring together each of these flavor notes from three different ingredients: Virginia beer whiskey, smoked black tea leaves, and amontillado sherry.

First, a limited release of MurLarkey Brutality uses Octoberfest beer for its mash build. That means actual beer, hops and all, is distilled and aged for two years in oak. The whiskey is then proofed down with more beer, which gives Brutality its mellow malty flavor. Octoberfest lager is malty beer to begin with. That brings this Virginia whiskey closer to scotch than bourbon. German style hops linger in the finish, also imitating the style of Highland peat water. 

For smoke, I used a tsp. of lapsang souchong tea leaves steeped in whiskey. This black tea that is smoked on pine embers. When steeped in whiskey, it is not as smokey as it is if you steep it in hot water. This is further downplayed when used in small proportion in the cocktail, but it hints at smoke that the Brutality does not have in itself.

Finally I cut the corner of finishing in sherry by adding amontillado sherry in a small proportion. This also rounds out some of the beer notes of the Brutality and takes the flavor toward the fruitier style of Highland whiskey. 

  • 2 oz. MurLarkey Brutality Octoberfest whiskey
  • 1/2 oz. lapsang souchong infused whiskey
  • 1/2 oz. amontillado sherry

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

Wake The Dead Coffee (Featuring MurLarkey Flavored Whiskies)


This is a take on a Mexican Coffee done with flavored coffee whiskey and cinnamon whiskey instead of tequila. MurLarkey makes both by barreling their white whiskey whiskey with real coffee and cinnamon. White whiskey, and the final product of flavored young whiskey has a fairly tequila-like herbaciousness. There's also that grain-like flavor that Irish Coffee drinkers enjoy. Together the flavored whiskies add more to the hot coffee than tequila and toppings alone can do.

  • 1 oz. MurLarkey coffee whiskey
  • 1/2 oz. MurLarkey cinnamon whiskey
  • 1 cup of hot black coffee
  • whipped cream
  • grated chocolate
  • grated cinnamon

Build the cocktail with whiskies and coffee in a warm coffee mug. Top with whipped cream and sprinkle chocolate and cinnamon on top. (See the video below.)