Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Island Iced Tea

You've heard of the Long Island Iced Tea, the drink that puts you on your ass mainly because its recipe has grown to include almost everything on the bottom rail of the bar and sour mix (not iced tea, anyway) and a splash of coke. This is the same idea but with fewer ingredients--a nice trick if you are a bartender and trying to save yourself a few touches on bottles. That's not to say there aren't a few touches on rums--its an island drink after all. But there are a few differences that taste more craft than triple sec and rail tequila.

My new secret is MurLarkey three tea whiskey: all the flavor of tea but with an alcoholic punch for your punch. It is made from English breakfast, Darjeeling and Earl Gray teas, and I have to say I love the balance between the three in their latest batch. Not too much tannin, but plenty of malty notes that carry your iced tea cocktail to the next level. 

  • 1 oz. light rum (Mt. Defiance used)
  • 1/2 oz. dark rum (George Bowman used)
  • 2 oz. MurLarkey three tea whiskey
  • 1 tsp. falernum 
  • 1 dash lemon juice
  • 1 dash 151-proof rum
  • 2 oz. water
  • lemon slice and mint sprig

Combine liquid ingredients except dashes of rum and lemon juice in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a highball glass full of fresh ice. Top with water and stir, then add dashes of rum and lemon juice and garnish.

Rum Runner

I feel a bit perplexed that in all these years this is the first Rum Runner I've made for this blog. Still, I've neglected the drink in this post by not using rum. Sure, there is some rum in the falernum I made, but MurLarkey banana whiskey is the core ingredient with its rum-like flavor. And it is fine that I didn't use rum in a Rum Runner. This cocktail is named after Prohibition smugglers, who mainly didn't smuggle rum and were more known for moonshine or Canadian whiskey runs instead. 

The one consistent thing in all Rum Runner recipes is blackbery brandy, which I made using real blackberries in my simple syrup and adding cognac. With falernum and the craft banana whiskey that MurLarkey is known for, this turned into a real hand-crafted drink. I added a hibiscus flower as a garnish to make it especially pretty.

  • 1 1/2 oz. gold rum (2 oz. MurLarkey banana whiskey used)
  • 1/2 oz. blackberry brandy
  • 4 oz. orange juice
  • dash falernum or grenadine (1/2 oz. homemade falernum for the rum flavor)
  • orange slice garnish

Combine all liquid ingredients in a shaker or blender with cracked ice. Shake or blend briefly and pour into an oversized wine goblet. Garnish with the orange slice. 

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Shruff's End

This scotch cocktail is really going for medicinal flavors. There's nothing wrong with it, but it is a little jarring to smell and taste something that has iodine and plastic notes in it like a hospital wing or a box of Band-Aid bandages.

All of the ingredients are designed to magnify the medicinal quality, from the Peychaud's bitters to the Islay scotch--Laphroaig 10 is specified--and even the Benedictine and apple brandy are a calculated ploy to add other properties to the nose and taste that strike one as a medicinal compound from a pharmacy. And let's face it, cocktails were born at pharmacies and were used as curatives for all sorts of things before Prohibition and the FDA. It just takes a little getting used to these flavors. After sitting with them for a while, you start to appreciate what this cocktail is doing with ingredients; and you do start to feel like it is having a healthful effect on you. 

I'm not sure what occasion warrants a dose of Shruff's End, but this is clearly not a drink for all occasions and more of a specific tool for scratching a particularly unusual itch.

  • 1 oz. Laphroaig 10 (Laphroaig Select used(
  • 1 oz. Laird's bonded apple brandy (Applejack 86 used)
  • 1/2 oz. Benedictine
  • 2 dashes Peychaud's bitters

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

Bristow Sling (Original Recipe)


This is what happens when you grab a flavored whiskey and just wing it with things you have on hand. I'm talking about the Sling and how the sling is one of the oldest cocktails around, yet we often overlook it as an easy formula that will please bargoers. 

So this whiskey sling is using naturally-flavored MurLarkey lemon whiskey, which is just dried lemons soaked in the barrel with their Justice white whiskey. The rest of this sling's ingredients are pretty standard, with Cherry Heering, lime juice and soda being the main ones. I changed things up by adding my own Mandarine Napoleon liqueur to add more richness from the cognac spirit and the spices and orange notes that it provides. 

  • 1 1/2 oz. MurLarkey lemon whiskey 
  • 1 oz. pineapple juice
  • 1/2 oz. lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. Cherry Heering
  • 1/2 oz. Mandarine Napoleon (homemade) liqueur
  • club soda
  • luxardo cherry and lime slice garnish
Combine all ingredients except soda and garnishes in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled highball glass full of fresh ice. Top with soda and stir gently. Add garnishes to the top of the glass.

Honshu Punch (Death & Co. Recipe)

Death & Co. keep a rotating Honshu punch for guests all year long. The recipe goes through variations depending on who is bartending, it seems. The settled-on recipe they put in the book involves Yamazaki 12-year-old whiskey. That all made sense back in 2008 when Japanese whiskey was still fabulous but inexpensive. Now it is just fabulous. 

This no-frills presentation is designed to keep your attention on the whiskey, which is a malted barley whiskey from Japan. That malt adds a tropical honey sweetness not unlike rum but with a more oat-like note. For this cocktail, I didn't use the expensive Japanese whiskey, opting for the slightly less expensive Catoctin Creek American Malt whiskey. This is a Virginia whiskey made from a Scottish wee heavy ale, so it has the malted barley component but no peat smoke. That makes it strikingly similar to Yamazaki single malt. 

  • 2 oz. Yamazaki 12-year-old whiskey (Catoctin Creek American Malt whiskey)
  • 3/4 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. cane sugar syrup
  • 2 dashes Fee Brothers whiskey barrel-aged bitters (1 dash Angostura used)
  • 2 dashes Bitter Truth aromatic bitters (Hella aromatic used)
  • 1 oz. club soda

Combine all ingredients except soda in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled snifter full of two large chunks of ice. Top with club soda. 


London Dock Cooler

I might be just an alcoholic, but I'm not a big fan of hot drinks. They cook off a lot of the alcohol and get you feeling flushed, which is the point on cold days. I'm just saying I like feeling refreshed and tipsy from my drinks and hot drinks don't do that. 

That's why I'm all in on this summer version of the London Dock. It has all the same ingredients without the spice float on top. Falernum is the stand-in for cinnamon and nutmeg and the like. And it really works! I like it better than the hot version, even. More like a Sangria than a punch, which is why it works so well for patio sipping.

  • 1 1/2 oz. Jamaican rum (George Bowman's used)
  • 3 oz. Claret or dry red wine (Poppy Cabernet used)
  •  1/2 oz. falernum
  • 1/2 oz. kirschwasser
  • orange twist garnish
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a highball glass full of fresh ice. Twist orange peel over the glass and drop it in. 


Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Doc Daneeka Royale (Death & Co. Recipe)

What is up with the Catch-22 reference in the name? This is the famous fictional doctor who gives name to the insanity catch underpinning the novel. Maybe this is a drink for paranoids, or maybe it is a balm for paranoia. Either way, it was an interesting take on a French 75 with maple syrup used as the sweetener and grapefruit bitters to provide a bitter lifting notes. 

This cocktail is an all-around fruity and bitter drink that is far more complex than the French 75. A squeezed grapefruit peel adds even more citrus bitterness on the nose, and dry sparkling wine (Aria cava) and herbal gin (MurLarkey ImaGination) do not let up on dry and spicy notes. The direction the flavors take on your tongue is up, only up. Sourness and tang give way to a bubbly tingle that isn't solely produced by the sparkling wine. What a fun and dangerous drink!

  • 2 oz. gin (MurLarkey Imagination used)
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz grade B maple syrup
  • 1 dash bittermen's hopped grapefruit bitters (Fee Brothers' grapefruit and celery bitters used)
  • dry champagne (Aria cava used)
  • 1 grapefruit coin

Combine all liquid ingredients except for champagne in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled champagne flute or coupe and top with champagne. Squeeze the grapefruit zest coin over the glass and discard. 

Julian Sorel (Death & Co. Recipe)


For some reason, Julian Sorel is called "the worst drink name ever," in the Death & Co. recipe book. I don't see why, exactly, though. It's named after the protagonist in The Red And The Black, by Stendhal. In my mind, that makes it a bit of a Scholarly French name. And Julian Sorel doesn't appear in the list of staff picks for worst names in "On The Naming of Cocktails" page of the bar book. Good name or no, Julian Sorel is a good idea.

It blends The Last Word with a champagne cocktail, which is an awesome idea--dare I even say "a genius-level move." If a Negroni can be crossed with a French 75, then why can't a Last Word be mashed-up with a classic French 75 with cognac. And it works surprisingly well. Best of all: it maintains the easy-to-remember proportions of The Last Word!

  • 1/2 oz. Courvoisier cognac
  • 1/2 oz. green Chartreuse (Dolin Genepy used)
  • 1/2 oz. Luxardo maraschino
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • dry champagne (Aria cava used)
  • 1 lemon twist garnish

Combine all ingredients except champagne and garnish in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled champagne flute. Top with champagne and garnish wtih the twist.


Dick and Jane (Death & Co. Recipe)


More champagne cocktails! I've been looking forward to using hibiscus flowers packed in syrup in a cocktail, and this cocktail presented itself as a likely candidate. It calls for hibiscus syrup, which provides sweetness and this lovely red color. The flowers themselves are chewy and sweet like brandied cherries, so I decided to use one as a garnish. 

There's something for everyone in this champagne cocktail. ImaGination gin and Peychaud's bitters for those New Orleans French 75 drinkers and St-Germain and hibiscus for a nice floral drink with bubbly. The nice thing is the recipe is not overly sweet and the color and garnish suggestion makes it look more royal than a Kir. 

  • 1 1/2 oz. gin (MurLarkey ImaGination used)
  • 1/2 oz. St-Germain
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. hibiscus syrup
  • 2 dashes Peychaud's bitters
  • dry champagne
  • 1 long, thin lemon twist (and optional hibiscus flower) garnishes

Combine all ingredients except champagne and garnishes in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Curl lemon twist and drape it over the glass. 

Lilly's Cartel (Death & Co. Recipe)


Perhaps one of the largest category of cocktail in Death & Co.'s book is the champagne section. There are just so many cocktails you can make with champagne or sparkling wine. I'm using Cava, which is dry but doesn't have the same bread-like notes in the nose we associate with a good dry champagne. But a good champagne is worth appreciating by itself, so as long as your sparkling wine isn't sweet, most of these drinks are worth doing with sparkling wine or champagne. 

Blood orange juice is a rare ingredient that is seasonal. It also varies in sweetness a lot between oranges, so it isn't always a reliable juice. I fully understand why blood oranges are more interesting to work with than naval oranges, but I can't expect to get them like I can any other kind of orange. 

That is why I chose to use half naval orange juice and my blood orange infused spirit. This liquor is an infusion of blood orange peels as well as their juices in vodka that is sweetened by blood orange syrup made from the juice. It is really intense in its particular flavor, and after mixing it with naval orange juice, you only notice the blood orange. 

Other minor substitutes include using Don Ciccio & Figli Ambrosia for Aperol. 

  • 1 oz. pisco (Capel pisco used)
  • 3/4 oz. Aperol (Ambrosia used)
  • 3/4 oz. blood orange juice (naval orange juice and blood orange liquor used)
  • 1/4 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. simple syrup (scant 1/2 oz. used)
  • dry champagne (Aria cava used)

Combine all ingredients except for champagne in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled champagne flute and top with champagne. 

Bitter French (Death & Co. Recipe)


This cocktail is a basic mash-up of a Negroni and a French 75. I happened to have a bottle of brut cava last weekend and put it to good use in five cocktails. This one was immediately fascinating because I like both of the cocktails that this recipe is derived from. 

  • 1 oz. gin (MurLarkey ImaGination used)
  • 1/4 oz. Campari
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz simple syrup
  • dry champagne
  • 1 grapefruit twist 

Combine gin, Campari, lemon juice and simple syrup in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled champagne flute and top with champagne. 


Thursday, June 10, 2021

Melancholy Summer (Death & Co. Recipe)


This might be my favorite summer drink in the Death & Co. cocktail book. At least it's my favorite so far and maybe the best combination of sherry, gin, cucumber and cantaloupe I've ever had. This is a cocktail that is so well constructed that every ingredient has a special part to play and you can appreciate them all at once. 

Manzanilla sherry is known for its funny, melon-like nose that makes it especially good to drink with cantaloupe. La Gitana is one of the best. 

Suze--a new aquisition--is a bitter gentian spirit that really grounds this drink with herbal bitterness as well as some citrus notes. 

Gin, MurLarkey or otherwise, is in here because it is more than a blank canvass that is vodka. Herbs and fruits are a big part of ImaGination and essential to making this amazing cocktial work. 

  • 2 cucumber wheels
  • 1 oz. Lustau Manzinalla sherry (La Gitana used)
  • 1 oz. gin (MurLarkey ImaGination used)
  • 1/2 oz Suze liqueur
  • 3/4 oz. cantaloupe juice
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. acacia honey syrup
  • 1 cucumber ribbon garnish

Muddle cucumber wheels in the shaker tin before adding the remaining ingredients and ice. Shake and double strain into a chilled Nick & Nora glass (Coupe shown). Cut a cucumber wheel and spear it on a cocktail pick as a garnish. 

Schuman's Alley (Death & Co. Recipe)


The name is a nod to Tin Pan Alley. This cocktail amounts to an embellished Upside Down Martini. All the usual characters appear, from blanco and Americano vermouth to yellow Chartreuse. Of course there's the gin--MurLarkey ImaGination--and a dash of allspice and grapefruit bitters. It's a hit squad of flavors in a rich and fruity wincocktail that takes longer to drink than you'd expect. 

This drink, like any Martini, benefits from lifting bitters with citrus and spice. These minute ingredients help other flavors rise to the surface. Some changes to the recipe in my home bar are to be expected for bitters. My allspice dram isn't especially bitter, but I figured it would be fine. The Fee Brothers grapefruit bitters aren't hopped like the Death & Co. recipe specifies, but a dash of my homemade celery bitters has a similar effect to the hops and I often use celery and grapefruit in tandem to mimic hops and citrus. 

  • 3/4 oz. contratta vermouth bianco (Dolin blanc used)
  • 3/4 oz. Dolin dry vermouth
  • 3/4 oz. Cocchi Americano
  • 1 oz. gin (MurLarkey ImaGination used)
  • 1 dash Bittermens hopped grapefruit bitters (1 dash Fee Brothers grapefruit and 1 dash celery bitters used)
  • 1 dash Dale Degroff's pimento bitters (homemade allspice dram used)
  • 1 lemon twist

Combine liquid ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled Nick & Nora glass (coupe shown). Twist the lemon peel over the drink, roll it up and skewer it on a cocktail pick and drop it in. 

Midnight Mass (Death & Co. Recipe)

I love the imagery that this name evokes. Benedictine and Cardamaro give this Latin Mass of a drink a whiff of  incense. It's herbs, after all. And a stirred rum cocktail can take on the airs of holy water in bottles found in a monastery's reliquary. Most of that is all marketing, however. But so is the magic behind bartending. There are no saints in this industry, and magical elixirs are all basically the same alcohol molecule. 

There is something to be said about proportions and preparation in bartending that makes it somehow more sanctified when done well. Benedictine, while not made by monks, has the ability to transport drinkers to a simpler time when real art was behind every recipe that came from French liqueur distillers. 

And amari are the same way. Cardamaro may taste like spiced boiled sweets, but it is actually a wine infusion with gentian and cardamom, not something that I'd feel comfortable making myself. I'll leave it to the experts and pretend that they have a special relationship with God.

  • 2 oz. Scarlet Ibis rum (Rhum Barbancourt used)
  • 3/4 oz. Cardamaro
  • 1/4 oz. Benedictine
  • 1 dash Jerry Thomas bitters (Hella aromatic used)
  • 1 orange twist as garnish

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir. Strain into a chilled coupe glass and garnish with the orange twist.


Flor De Jerez (Death & Co. Recipe)

I love apricot liqueur. I used to make the stuff when apricots were plentiful in early summer. I'd soak the fruits in brandy and cook a sugar and apricot juice. When you cant find Rothman and Winter at your liquor store or you just don't have time to do all that with the apricots, you can use jelly. It comes together easily in the shaker tin when you stir a bar spoon of jam into citrus juices. 
In this case, I built the entire drink in the shaker before adding the apricot jam. (And I used a little less sugar syrup than I would have if I had liqueur because jams are sweet.) And, yes, I stirred in my shaker tin, but the result is pretty exceptional and I recommend the jam trick to any home bartender. Your refrigerator is loaded with good ingredients, so you don't need to go hunting around for liqueurs that are expensive and hard to find.

And Death & Co. knows this. How many of their drinks have marmalade or apple butter or some such ingredient or infusion. Be creative with your cooking staples, that's how cocktails were invented in the first place.

  • 1/2 oz. Jamaican rum (George Bowman used)
  • 1 1/2oz. Lustau Amontillado (Alexandro Amontillado used)
  • 1/4 oz. Rothman and Winter apricot liqueur (apricot jam used)
  • 3/4 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. sugar syrup (1/4 oz. when using apricot jam)
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters 

Combine all ingredients in a shaker. If using apricot jam, make sure to stir before adding ice to dissolve the solids into the liquid ingredients. Add ice and shake, then double strain into a coupe glass. 

The Gift Shop (Death & Co. Recipe)


Cucumber seems to be a common ingredient in summer drinks at Death & Co. And that makes a lot of sense. Cucumber has a way of brightening and lending body to juicy drinks that may otherwise require more sweetener and fall flat or heavy on the palate. 

What surprises me is cucumber used in a Cardamaro and Tiki-style cocktail with Angostura bitters and light rum. Needless to say that all of this is possible due to the exacting proportions of the recipe. Death & Co.'s recommendation with all muddling is also helpful. Never overmuddle; you can easily bruise the ingredients and cause them to go bitter or jammy in the mouth. I've learned so much from their cocktail book--I bet I've covered half of the cocktails in the book at this point. 

  • 3 cucumber wheels
  • 2 oz. white rum (Mt. Defiance used)
  • 1/2 oz. Cardamaro
  • 3/4 oz. lime juice
  • 3/4 oz. simple syrup
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters
  • 3 cucumber wheels garnish
Muddle 3 cucumber wheels in the shaker tin before adding the remaining ingredients and ice. Shake and double strain into an Old Fashioned glass with a large-format ice cube. Fan the cucumber slices as garnishes.

Maggie Smith (Death & Co. Recipe)

This cocktail is named after the famed British actor, though I wonder how much Maggie Smith enjoyed pisco or even Daiquiris for that matter. It does seem a bit like a custom classic cocktail that a Dame might appreciate, though I've not heard any apocryphal story about a bartender coming up with the recipe for her like there is with Greta Garbo. 

Anyway, this is my first time trying Capel pisco from Chile. The thing about Chilean pisco is that every label tastes different and the flavor swings from fruit brandy to whisky to vodka. Capel is very close to vodka, which is fine, but it doesn't do much for changing the flavor of this drink. 

I've got a few of my own ingredients here as well. I have homemade Mandarine Napoleon and orgeat, though they are in bottles that appear to have the proper brands on them. 

Finally, I want to mention Mt. Defiance rum as an exceptional Virginia rum that makes a damn good Daiquiri. It's pretty amazing just how light yet complex their white rum's flavor actually is. 

  • 1 oz. pisco (Capel used)
  • 1 oz. white rum (Mt. Defiance used)
  • 1/2 oz. orange liqueur (homemade Mandarine Napoleon used)
  • 3/4 oz. lime juice
  • 1/4 oz. orgeat (homemade used)
  • 1 tsp honey syrup
  • lime wheel garnish
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the lime wheel. 

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Cafe Sandinista (Death & Co. Recipe)


This cocktail is by far the lightest on alcohol of all the fortified wine drinks in the Death & Co. book. That doesn't mean it is light on flavor. There's only a quarter ounce of chile and coffee-infused Campari, but that's enough for it to take over the entire drink. The East India Solera sherry and orange juice really add body to the drink and spread it out across the crushed ice. 

To make the Campari infusion, I simply too three ounces of Campari and crushed one guajillo chili and a teaspoon of ground coffee and infused it for twenty-four hours. Any more than that might be too much, really. Then I strained it out using a coffee filter because it catches all the coffee particles. 

The finishing touch on the drink is grating a fresh coffee bean on top of the crushed ice. It gives the cocktail a nice aroma and prepares you for the bitterness underneath. 

  • 1 oz. Lustau East India Solera sherry
  • 1/4 oz. chili and coffee infused Campari
  • 1/2 oz. lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. orange juice
  • 1/2 oz. demerara syrup
  • small pinch of kosher salt
  • coffee bean garnish

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Short shake and strain into a rocks glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with a few grates from a whole coffee bean. 

Stringer Bell (Death & Co. Recipe)

Anytime there is celery juice in a citrus cocktail, it is a little weird but almost always in a good way. This is the case with the Stringer Bell. There's rich Amontillado as the nutty base of this cocktail, but lime and spicy tequila provide acid and heat to cut through that. Celery juice is surprisingly bitter and that is helped along with Cynar--so now there's celery and artichoke in a sherry cocktail, right? It's almost too strange to believe. A generous helping of cane sugar and a pinch of kosher salt brings this cocktail back from the brink and helps you experience it as sort of a bitter and spicy Margarita (more Spanish than Mexican) and a lot of fun to serve people without telling them what's in it first. 

  • 1 12 oz. Amontillado sherry (Alexandro used)
  • 1/2 oz. jalapeno-infused tequila (Sauza used)
  • 1/4 oz. Cynar (Cynar 70-proof used)
  • 1/2 oz. celery juice
  • 3/4 oz. lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. cane sugar syrup
  • pinch koshur salt
  • celery stick garnish

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into an Old Fashioned glass with a large format ice cube. Garnish with the celery stick. 


Cynard de Bergerac (Death & Co. Recipe)


Bergerac is a French wine region known for its combination of Cabernet and Merlot grapes. This particular cocktail requires the mix of ingredients in its "Bergerac Mix" In the Death & Co. book, this works out as 6 parts blended red wine (Bergerac), 1.5 parts Cynar, 1.5 parts black strap rum (homemade used), and 1/2 part Demerara syrup. This stuff is bittersweet and savory, adding its own color and sweetness to any cocktail. 

The rest of the Cynard de Bergenac involves genever, old Tom gin, and Benedictine. It is further flavored with a dash of absinthe and Aztec chocolate bitters. The end result is a wine and gin cocktail that really comes across like a dark rum punch with lots of barrel-aged notes from the genever and an herbal lift from the absinthe. It is grounded, however by chocolate and orange in the finish. You almost can't taste the Benedictine, but it is in there adding sweetness and texture. All the way through, you get red wine tannin from Cabernet. It is pretty overwhelming and easily underestimated in such a cute little glass. 

  • 1 1/2 oz. Bergerac mix
  • 1 oz. Bols barrel-aged genever
  • 1/2 oz. Vitae Old Tom gin
  • 1/2 oz. Benedictine
  • 1 dash absinthe vert
  • 1 dash Aztec chocolate bitters (Fee Brothers used)
  • orange twist garnish

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled Nick & Nora glass. Roll the orange twist tightly and skewer on a cocktail pick.

Shoots And Ladders (Death & Co. Recipe)


Death & Co. have a handful of fortified wine cocktails. Some of these, like Shoots and Ladders, are low ABV cocktails. They are bold on flavor, but with fortified wine as the main ingredient, they are light on alcohol and you can have several of them in one sitting with no problem. 

This cocktail is served neat like an Old Fashioned, but it is far more herbal and spicy. Lots of infusions in here: basil infused Dolin Blanc and jalapeno infused blanco tequila. I'm trying out a new ingredient as well, Alexandro Amontillado is comparable to Lustau's Amontillado in price and style. It is dry and nutty and full of oak flavor. It is one of the two main components of this rich cocktail.

  • 1 1/2 oz. basil-infused Dolin blanc
  • 1 1/2 oz. Amontillado (Alexandro used)
  • 1/2 oz. jalapeno-infused blanco tequila (Sauza used)
  • 1/2 tsp. cane sugar syrup

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a rocks glass. (Optional smacked basil leaf garnish.)

Monday, May 10, 2021

Mexi-Gin Martini (Death & Co. Recipe)


With all the parts of this cocktail that are not Martini ingredients, this Mexican-themed Martini is very much what it says. Yes, it is basically a Martini with ingredients added, but it is so much more than that. 

Mezcal, celery bitters and alpine spirit really lift the standard Gin Martini to new and more festive heights. The flavor of the Mexi-Gin Martini is very Mexican, similar to tequila Martinis I've had at nicer Mexican restaurants in D.C. It's super herbal with a little burn of jalapeno-infused blanco tequila. Mezcal itself adds to herbal and fruity flavors, and it helps to have a heavily botanical gin like ImaGination from MurLarkey to carry off the gin portion of the cocktail.  

Finally celery bitters is the lifting effect that bridges the connection between dry Martini and fruity tasting spirits. Celery adds earthiness as well as additional herbal boost to hold together juniper from the gin and smokey mezcal by Del Maguey. 

  • 2 oz. dry gin (MurLarkey ImaGination used)
  • 1/2 oz. Dolin dry vermouth
  • 1/4 oz. Del Maguey Crema de Mezcal
  • 1/4 oz. jalapeno-infused blanco tequila
  • 1/4 oz. Green Chartreuse (Dolin Genepy used)
  • 1 dash celery bitters

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

Camp Council (Death & Co. Recipe)


This is a strange concept for a tequila cocktail. When I think of summer camp, I'm thinking of a rye cocktail with maybe some pine smoke and apple juice. But the concept of the Camp Council is sound. This is a woody reposado tequila with herbal flavors that imitate pine needle scent. 

Death & Co. specifies Zirbenz Stone Pine liqueur for its cultivation and distillation of stone pine fruits that give the liquor a spicy pine flavor. I, on the other hand, have juniper berries--the other pine fruit. To make a quick pine liqueur, I used MurLarkey gin and fresh juniper berries. I didn't have time to infuse the berries and I'm not sure that was the flavor I was going for. Gin already has infused juniper. I wanted crushed juniper, so I muddled the berries into the gin and built the drink in the shaker around that.

The result achieved a noticeable pine note in the final drink. Dolin Genepy was also a way to get alpine herbs into the drink (similar to the listed Yellow Chartreuse.) Overall, this was a different way to enjoy tequila. I'm not convinced that it is a summer camp drink that I envision, but it is still good, especially on a hot day.

  • 1 1/2 oz. reposado tequila
  • 1/2 oz. Zirbenz stone pine liqueur (5 juniper berries muddled into gin)
  • 1/2 oz. Yellow Chartreuse (Dolin Genepy used)
  • 1/2 oz. pineapple juice
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 mint sprig garnish

If using my juniper berry substitution muddle 5 juniper berries in 1/2 oz. of gin in a shaker. Add ice and the remaining ingredients. Shake and double strain into a pilsner glass full of crushed ice and garnish with a mint sprig.

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Deadpan Fix (Death & Co. Recipe)


I'm used to a Fix being in a rocks glass, but anything goes in cocktail naming, and I'm not sure there is anything fixed about the meaning of the word Fix. 

This is a fun way to get the whiskey to go down, which is the real point of a Fix--make it as easy to drink as possible and it will fix you up. Some fun ingredients in this, including Campari and ginger syrup. The Grand Marnier adds sweetness and citrus in a cocktail that already has a lot of both. My substitution is homemade Mandarine Napoleon. This just adds more mandarin orange and spice notes that Grand Marnier doesn't have. 

  • 1 1/2 oz. Catoctin Creek 92-proof rye
  • 1/4 oz. Campari
  • 1/4 oz. Grand Marnier (homemade Mandarine Napoleon used)
  • 3/4 oz. grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/4 oz. ginger syrup (homemade ginger brandy and simple syrup used)
  • 1 orange twist garnish
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled coupe glass and garnish with the orange twist. 

Double Fill-Up (Death & Co. Recipe)

Pomegranate molasses is a store-bought ingredients that I don't have in my neighborhood. I don't really understand what makes it molasses, anyway. I imitate the flavor (I imagine) is in the ingredient listed in the Death & Co. recipe by using a little blackstrap molasses in pomegranate syrup. The rest of this cocktail is very much in keeping with the Rose family of drinks with a good helping of mint muddled into it to give it freshness and spicy rye for that high-test punch.

  • 2 oz. Catoctin Creek 92-proof rye 
  • 3/4 oz. lemon juice
  • 3/4 oz. simple syrup
  • 1 tsp. pomegranate molasses (half pomegranate syrup and blackstrap)
  • 3 mint leaves
  • 1 mint leaf garnish

Shake all ingredients with ice and double strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with the mint sprig. 


Monongahela Mule (Death & Co. Recipe)

What a beauriful name for a Mule cocktail made with rye (especially Catoctin Creek). It refers to the Monongahela national forest in the Allegheny Mountains. This mule gets its red color from muddled raspberries and its ginger flavor from ginger syrup (ginger liqueur in my modification.) Mint--which is a great addition to any Mule drink--really stands out as a gamechanger here. 

  • 4 raspberries
  • 6 mint leaves
  • 2 oz. rye (Catoctin Creek 92-proof used)
  • 3/4 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. ginger syrup (simple syrup with ginger liqueur used)
  • 1 mint sprig garnish

Muddle mint leaves and raspberries in the shaker tin before adding the remaining ingredients and ice. Shake and double strain into a highball glass full of fresh ice and garnish with a mint sprig.


Blown Rose (Death & Co. Recipe)


The coaster in this picture says it all. Death & Co. has some of the most innovative cocktails back when nobody knew how to make a Manhattan. This one is especially fun to make as well as to drink. For starters, I've never muddled apple slices before. This is easier than it looks. Also, chamomile rye is the perfect pairing for apple and cinnamon flavors. The pineapple and lime juice sound tropical, but they just lend sweet acids and balance to the spirits giving the overall effect of having apple pie in a glass. 

Just looking at the name of this drink, you'd assume it has a natural relationship to the Jack Rose or any Rose cocktail that usually involves a spirit, lime juice and grenadine. But there is so much more going on here. A few of my modifications happened naturally based on what I have available and my personal preferences for stocking my kitchen. 

The chamomile tea is Republic of Tea's Chamomile Lemon, which has no lemon in it but it does have lemon balm in it. This is an herbal flavor that doesn't step on but adds to the complexity of other flavors. The cinnamon syrup is a mix of my cane sugar syrup and MurLarkey cinnamon whiskey--the best shortcut for syrup making I've ever come up with. (MurLarkey infuses cinnamon into their spirit so you don't have to.)

It is important to use Fuji apples, as a Granny Smith or Golden Delicious just won't taste the same. Cut the slices thin so that they are easy to muddle. The rest takes care of itself.

  • 3 Fuji apple slices
  • 2 oz. chamomile-infused rye (Rittenhouse used)
  • 1/2 oz. pineapple juice
  • 1/2 oz. lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. cinnamon bark syrup (simple syrup and MurLarkey cinnamon whiskey used)
  • 1 lime wheel garnish

Muddle apple slices in the shaker before adding the remaining ingredients with ice. Shake and double strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with a lime wheel.  

Waterloo Sunset (Death & Co. Recipe)

One of the most fabulous spirits and juice cocktails in a rocks glass ever! That's high praise, and well worth the effort when you make this cocktail. I love how vegetel, citrusy and herbaceous this drink is. The flavor goes from fresh mint and lime juice to a spicy gin and watermelon center and finishing with a numbing peppery taste backed up by more mint. It was a very cool (and hot) experience. 

There's a lot of steps to this drink. There's the infusion of Szchuan peppercorns in gin. Then juicing, then muddling and making the syrups. And it is a cocktail involving two gins. I used my Szchuan pepprcorn-infused MurLarkey ImaGination gin as the first ingredient and my homemade dry gin as the second spirit (which keeps the peppercorns from being too spicy.) I also juiced the watermelon rather than pay for a large jug of watermelon juice this time. (I know you can freeze it, but I don't need that much watermelon juice when a few pieces of fruit will do.)

Once you have all that ready, we can proceed with the recipe.

  • 7 mint leaves
  • 1/2 oz. cane sugar syrup
  • 1 oz. Szechuan peppercorn-infused gin (MurLarkey used)
  • 1 oz. dry gin (homemade with asparagus botanical used)
  • 1/2 oz. Dolin blanc vermouth
  • 1 1/2 oz. watermelon juice
  • 3/4 oz. lime juice
  • mint sprig garnish

Muddle mint leaves in the syrup in the shaker before adding ice and the remaining ingredients. Shake and double strain into a double Old Fashioned glass over a large piece of ice. Garnish with the mint sprig. 


Sergio Leone (Death & Co. Recipe)

This cocktail is named after the Spaghetti Western filmmaker and is, of course, a tequila and Italian vermouth cocktail. Blood orange liqueur, another Italian ingredient is also part of giving this stirred cocktail a juicy flavor. I can't get Solerno blood orange liqueur, so I made it as close as possible to something on the market. Here's how.

First I juiced blood oranges and made a syrup, setting aside some of the juice to add to the infusion of blood orange and 100-proof vodka. After the syrup cooled, I added an oz. of cognac to preserve it and provide that grape and oak spirit whiff that is often central to orange liqueurs. While this was cooking, I put the peels of the blood oranges in 100-proof vodka to make a bitter tincture. After a week, I combined all three of these batches and fine strained them before bottling them. This is as close to a mass marketed blood orange liqueur as I think you will find and I'm proud of how it tastes. 

The rest of the cocktail is surprisingly simple and very tasty. It's like a fruity tequila Manhattan with cinnamon and chocolate notes from the chocolate bitters. 

  • 2 oz. reposado tequila
  • 3/4 oz. Cocchi Dopo Teatro vermouth
  • 1/4 oz. blood orange liqueur
  • 1 dash Aztec chocolate bitters

Stir all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Strain into a chilled coupe glass. 


Buffalo Soldier (Death & Co. Recipe)


Yep. That's my label on the bottle of pecan-infused bourbon (not honey-infused this time). I had fun with this Death & Co. recipe that only uses three ingredients: bourbon, pecans and demerara sugar syrup. Doing the infusion is easy. Just soak a cup of pecans in a cup of bourbon for more than a week and it is ready to strain through cheesecloth and use in the drink. 

I used Ancient Age bourbon because it is made at the Buffalo Trace distillery and is where this drink takes its name from. This is very much a cocktail in the dessert spectrum with a ton of vanilla-and-pecan-coated in-rich-sugar sort of experience, not unlike having one of the bourbon and pecan bon-bons they sell at Buffalo Trace. As I drank it down, however, there was increasing bitterness and a dry nutty note from the pecans that I appreciated much more than the sweetness of the sugar. 

Play around with the sugar portion as well as the proportions of pecans to bourbon, to find your favorite Buffalo Soldier. I adjusted the sugar down a little because I don't like my drinks too sweet, but everyone will have their preferred recipe with something this simple. 

  • 2 oz. pecan-infused Buffalo Trace bourbon
  • 1/4 oz. demerara sugar syrup

Stir all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Strain into a double rocks glass over a large single piece of ice. 

Friday, May 7, 2021

Overhead Smash (Death & Co. Recipe)

This is actually a Smash cocktail, much like those made with fruit and base spirits back in the early days of cocktails. The difference is that this Smash (a name that denotes its method of preparation) is very much of the Tiki era of cocktails with cucumber, ginger and Angostura bitters. It is a riff on the Suffering Bastard of nearly identical ingredients. The difference here, however, is the addition of strawberry and the fact that that the Bastard's ginger beer preparation is now replaced with ginger syrup--effectively making it a ginger soda cocktail. 

One other notable change in this Overhead Smash from its forebears is that it has a potent aromatized wines, quina vermouth and Bonal, giving the entire cocktail a bitter base that goes well with the vegetable notes of cucumber smashed into the mix. 

The drinking experience is still the same as the Suffering Bastard, but knowing that is prepared as a Smash and has Bonal Gentaine-Quina just helps you appreciate the craft of it.

  •  1/2 strawberry
  • 2 cucumber wheels
  • 1 1/2 oz. dry gin (MurLarkey ImaGination used)
  • 1/2 oz. Bonal
  • 1/2 oz. Carpano Antica (Cocchi Dopo Teatro used)
  • 3/4 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/4 oz. orgeat (homemade used)
  • 1/4 oz. ginger syrup (homemade ginger brandy and simple used)
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters
  • 1 dash orange bitters (Hella used)
  • club soda
  • 1 cucumber ribon, 1 mint sprig and 1 or 2 drops of Angostura as garnishes. 

Muddle strawberry and cucumber wheels in a shaker. Add the remaining ingredients except soda and shake with only a few ice cubes, then strain into a highball glass full of fresh ice. Top with soda and garnish with the cucumber ribbon and mint sprig. Then dash Angostura on the mint. 


Le Subtil (Death & Co. Recipe)


Subtle is a good way to describe this drink. It isn't the kind of cocktail that beats you over the head with bitterness or spicy gin. Spirits like genever and Cardamaro are soft. Any spicy notes they carry are smoothed out by aging. The genius of Le Subtil comes from finding that sweet balance of these ingredients that don't especially assert themselves too strongly, then boosting them with lifting bitters like hopped grapefruit.

I got this Fee Brothers' grapefruit bitters to make this cocktail, since I couldn't find Bittermen's hopped grapefruit bitters. I know from past experience that a dash of my own celery bitters gives a drink hoppy notes of bitter flowers very similar to hops. The experience, once you twist grapefruit peal on top, is a drink with a no grapefruit juice that smells and tastes like a grapefruit juice drink but rich with all the other spirits. The Bols barrel-aged genever has the oak, malt and juniper that fits right in with cardamom of Cardamaro, which also has other bitter herbs. The Antica Formula vermouth (which the recipe calls for but I am using a Cocchi product with a similar profile) is rich with quinine and oak as well. And it all floats upward with citrus notes at first sip and at the finish. 

  • 2 oz. Bols Genever (barrel aged used)
  • 1/2 oz. Cardamaro
  • 1/2 oz. Carpano Antica Formula vermouth (Cocchi Dopo Teatro used)
  • 2 dashes Bittermen's hopped grapefruit bitters (Fee Brothers' grapefruit bitters and homemade celery bitters used)
  • grapefruit twist

Combine all liquid ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with the grapefruit twist.

Le Bateleur (Death & Co. Recipe)


The smaller, black eagle known as the Bateleur is a great name for a drink. While the dark spirits like Cynar in this cocktail aren't exactly black, they are almost the components in a Black Negroni (whatever your recipe for that mysterious drink happen to be.)

For once I didn't have to alter this recipe to make it with my limited budget and bar space. I was happy to make this Death & Co. Recipe with Cynar 70-proof and Citadelle gin--two powerfully flavored and potent spirits. Strega is the sweetener for Bateleur, but it also adds herbal notes like mint and saffron to the already sturdy underbelly of this cocktail. The recipe calls for Punt E Mes, but I ended up going with Cocchi's version of the gentian-infused vermouth known for its bitter base. 

Just like the smaller African eagle, this drink is easily to underestimate but unforgettable. 

  • 2 oz. dry gin (Citadelle used)
  • 3/4 oz. Punt E Mes (Cocchi Dopo Teatro used)
  • 1/2 oz. Strega
  • 1/4 oz. Cynar (Cynar 70-proof)
  •  1 dash Angostura bitters
  • orange twist garnish

Combine liquid ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the orange twist. 

La Dolce Vita (Death & Co. Recipe)

Like a Boulivardier or Negroni but with fun rye and St-Germain. That's how I think of this cocktail; and it was really enjoyable as a simple, ruby-colored cocktail that was both easy to make and easy to drink.
The think that makes this drink stand out is the infusion of chamomile tea into the rye. I used Republic of Tea's Chamomile Lemon tea (which doesn't have the acidity of actual lemon but lemon balm instead.) Rye and chamomile have really complementary flavors--not unlike apples and cinnamon--but spicy with alcoholic kick. This is balanced with sweet floral St-Germain and given bitter traction and an attractive look by the hefty pour of Campari. This drink, like life, is beautiful!
  • 2 oz. chamomil-infused Rittenhouse rye (with Republic of Tea Chamomile Lemon)
  • 3/4 oz. Campari
  • 1/2 oz. St-Germain

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain over a large format ice in an Old Fashioned glass. 


Key Party (Death & Co. Recipe)

I like a stirred cocktail that is unapolegetically French. In keeping with this thought, I tried to go as French as possible with ingredients that I had a choice about. The first is obvious: Citadelle gin is one of those top tier dry gins packed with beautiful floral and spice botanicals that are perfectly balanced. It was an excellent choice to pair with Bonal, a rich and earthy French aromatized wine with quinine. 

Amaro Nardini is the only Italian ingredient in this Death & Co. recipe, and the only one I don't have. Amari have simple substitutes that you can go with for cocktails, so I started with my homemade Amer Picon (made with Ramazzotti and orange bitters) and a touch of Frenet Branca to give it that cool menthol flavor of Nardini as well. I've not tried Nardini, but everyone who does raves about its orange, menthol and caramel notes, and I think I accurately captured this with a 2 to 1 proportion of Picon and Frenet.

A final substitution--my usual Dolin Genepy for Chartreuse--is totally acceptable because of its low proportion to the cocktail that doesn't rely on Green Chartreuse to produce a green colored drink.

  • 2 oz. gin (Citadelle used)
  • 1/2 oz. Bonal Gentain-Quina
  • 1/2 oz. Amaro Nardini
  • 1/4 oz. green Chartreuse (Dolin Genepy used)


Yeoman Warder (Death & Co. Recipe)

A yeoman was a master woodsman, leader of the hunt and a skilled fighter with a yew bow. Picture Robin Hood in green garb standing around in the woods. With all the herbaceous flavors going on in this cocktail, you can taste that medieval trope right in the glass.

I picked up a bottle of Cynar 70-proof to make this drink, and I find that this new release of Cynar is even more flavorful than the original artichoke amaro. I don't know if that is because more flavor can be packed into an infusion of botanicals when the proof is higher, or it is just a more intense formulation. Either way, a little Cynar 70-proof goes a long way.

In addition to the vegetable notes of artichoke in the Cynar, I used my homemade gin that has asparagus as one of the botanicals. You notice it, but not as much as the spice and bitterness. Overall I'd say this drink is intense with all flavors dialed up to the max. Despite that, sweet and bitter, tart and spice, are all balanced and contribute to an enjoyable sip.

  • 2 oz. dry gin (homemade gin with asparagus botanical used)
  • 3/4 oz. Dolin dry vermouth
  • 1/4 oz. Cynar (70-proof used)
  • 1/4 oz. Luxardo maraschino 

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


Petticoat (Death & Co. Recipe)


There are many strange botanicals in new American gin styles, from lemon balm to birch leaves. What you never see in gin is Szechuan peppercorns. I don't know why, though. Szechuan peppercorns are not pepper. They are a dried flower bud that has an interesting numbing effect that enhances spicy Chinese soups and roasted meats. In a drink, Szechuan peppercorns give you a flavorless tingle that blends with alcoholic burn that makes you salivate more--a good thing, right?

I made the peppercorn infusion with MurLarkey ImaGination gin. My reason for picking MurLarkey is because I didn't want to use a super-dry gin that would have a noticeable change in its profile. ImaGination is robust and can take some altering without being overwhelmed by new flavors. This infusion needs to be about 30 minutes. Any longer just invites ruining the gin with too much numbing effect. For the purpose of this drink, I made 4 ounces of infusion with 1/2 tsp. of Szechuan peppercorns.

I also altered the recipe by using a tsp. of apricot jam and a splash of cognac to replicate Marie Brizard apricot liqueur. The use of jelly and jam as a sweetener and a way of flavoring a cocktail is common and an easy way to get ingredients you don't have. Apricots, sugar and cognac are often ingredients in apricot liqueur; so I feel my decision is sound. When you can't get something, make it--I always say. 

  • 2 oz. Szechuan peppercorn infused gin (MurLarkey ImaGination used)
  • 1/4 oz. falernum (homemade used)
  • 1/4 oz. Marie Brizard apricot liqueur (1/4 oz. cognac and a tsp. apricot jam used)
  • 3/4 oz. lime juice
  • 1/4 oz. cane sugar syrup (omitted when using jam as above)

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



What do you get when you make a Bramble with raspberries instead of blackberries? The answer is, a Ramble! This is a super conventional recipe: raspberries, gin, sugar syrup, ice. That's it; I added the rosemary because it is suggestive of one of the botanicals in MurLarkey's ImaGination gin. I've gone too long without it on my bar, and I'm super pleased how well it improves a simple recipe like this. 

The funny thing is that the Ramble has a kind of backwards preparation designed to get the muddled raspberries on top of the ice and not stuck at the bottom of the glass. It uses a shaker to chill and combine a gin sour that sits underneath the ice then re-shakes raspberries and simple syrup to add extra sweet raspberry syrup and hunks as a float of sorts. The effect is that the pink syrup drizzles down through the crushed ice and creates a two-tone look that's extra pretty.

  • 2 oz. gin (MurLarkey ImaGination used)
  • 1 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 1/4 oz. simple syrup
  • 3 raspberries 
  • (Optional rosemary sprig garnish)

Combine gin, lemon juice and 3/4 oz. of the simple syrup in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled highball glass full of crushed ice. Empty the shaker and add the raspberries with the remaining simple syrup (3/4 oz.). Muddle the berries gently in the syrup and pour over the ice. Garnish with berries or optional rosemary.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

19th Century (Death & Co. Recipe)


Trying to encapsulate a century in a cocktail sounds like a difficult task, but not when you consider that France made the cocktail what it is today before the 20th century. As spirits moved from punches of port and rum to single servings of cognac and whiskey mixed with juices and liqueurs, the French contributed with aromatized wines and cremes. 

This recipe works with Byrrh, Dubonet Rouge. or Lillet Rouge--all are brilliant ruby wines bittered up with quinine and citrus. These wine spirits give drinks their tannin traction on the tongue where otherwise they would feel extremely silky (which isn't always a bad thing.) 

Creme de cacao is more of a sweetener, but it adds a candy chocolate depth that makes the overall experience less acidic and better rounded.

  • 1 1/2 oz. bourbon (Ancient Age used)
  • 3/4 oz. Lillet Rouge (or other French red aromitized wine) 
  • 3/4 oz. white creme de cacao
  • 3/4 oz. lemon juice

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

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Broken Oath (Death And Co. Recipe)


Death & Co. has many Martini and Old Fashioned variations among their recipes. This is one of their Manhattan variations with Mezcal--a perfectly suitable substitute for whiskey. In addition to the vermouth and main spirit, they added Galliano and rich sherry. This takes this drink in a cordial direction, and that is fitting because they serve it in a Nick& Nora glass. (I'm using a cordial glass because I don't have a Nick & Nora.) Chocolate and cinnamon from the Aztec bitter is a perfect finishing touch to this new classic showing off the spirits coming to us by way of Mexico and Spain.

  • 1 1/2 oz. mezcal (Del Maguey Vida used)
  • 3/4 oz. Lustau Amontillado sherry (Lustau East India Soleara used)
  • 3/4 oz. cocchi vermouth di Torino
  • 1/2 oz. Galliano
  • 2 dashes Aztec bitters

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled Nick & Nora glass. 

Howlin' At The Moon (Death & Co. Recipe)


I was looking for a fun spring seasonal Old Fashioned that I had the ingredients for and it turns out I needed this. I was most intrigued that this cocktail is made with Bols Barrel-Aged Genever, which doesn't get a lot of attention in the cocktail world for its being very divergent from London dry gin. But that is all to Bols' advantage when making an Old Fashioned variation. 

I also happened to have cherry bark bitters since my early days of bartending. Making bark bitters is as easy as infusing bark in high-proof spirits. This little bottle of mine also includes blossoms and green tea and it is very bitter. There's also creme de cacao for some chocolate sweetness and the traditional orange twist. But the addition of the lemon twist in the mixing glass was new to me and gave the drink a refreshingly light nose. 

  • 1 lemon twist
  • 2 oz. Bols Barrel-Aged Genever
  • 2 tsp. white creme de cacao
  • 1/2 tsp. cane sugar syrup
  • 2 dashes cherry bark bitters
  • 1 orange twist garnish

Muddle lemon twist in a mixing glass before adding ice and the remaining ingredients. Stir and strain into an Old Fashioned glass with one large ice cube in it. Twist the orange zest over the glass and drop it in.

Tommy And The Ron-Dels (Death & Co. Recipe)


This is almost like having a Tiki redux cocktail in a handy Old Fashioned glass. It's got all the wild, exotic flavors of the Carbbean spirits mixed with the most herbaceous spirits of Europe. The Death & Co. recipe calls for Ron Del Barrilito Puerto Rican rum, which is where the name comes from. But it is also the base recipe for a Margarita by this bartender there named Tommy. 

Often enough, I find that I want to enjoy tequila and mezcal in ways that don't involve lime juice or take the form of a Margarita. This was different enough that I took it for what it was--something far richer than an ordinary Margarita.

  • 3/4 oz. reposado tequila
  • 1/4 oz. Del Maugey mezcal
  • 1 oz. Ron Del Barrilito 3-star rum (George Boman used)
  • 1/2 oz. Galliano
  • 1 dash absinthe (Ricard used)
  • 1 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. agave nectar
  • 1 dash tiki bitters (Angostura used)
  • 1 lime wheel garnish

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled Old Fashioned glass over 1 large ice cube. Garnish with the lime wheel. 

Short Rib Death & Co. Recipe)


Just like the Caribbean Shrub in the following post, this cocktail is based on ingredients used in cooking food. The name Short Rib indicates that molasses and jalapenos used in a short rib recipe appear in in liquid form in this spicy tequila drink.

I didn't have or know how to make pomegranate molasses, but I have a bottle of blackstrap that really only gets used in tropical drinks. Knowing that pomegranate molasses is a much lighter and sweeter than blackstrap, which is really thick and salty, I thinned out my black strap. I used equal parts grenadine and blackstrap to approximate pomegranate molasses and I think it worked. 

The other homemade ingredients is jalapeno-infused blanco tequila. This worked almost too well with jalapenos left over from enchiladas. I infused the chopped peppers for four days, and the tequila was about as spicy as you can stand to drink by itself. (You never know how hot a chili is going to be until you try it, and even then your infusions can surprise you.) So it turned out that this was a very spicy, sweet and savory cocktail, just like short rib sauce.

  • 2 oz. jalapeno-infused blanco tequila
  • 3/4 oz. lime juice
  • 1 oz. simple syrup
  • 3/4 tsp. pomegranate molasses (mixture of equal parts grenadine and blackstrap molasses)
 Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled coupe. 

Caribbean Shrub (Death & Co. Recipe)

I've drank shrub cocktails before. I rather like them. This is the first I've made from scratch. A shrub is a mixture of vinegar, fruit and sugar. Some barenders keep living shrubs in jars, feeding them with leftover wine. This shrub is a balsamic gastrique, which is more like a dark, tangy sauce drizzled on cooked meats or vegetables as an accent flavor. 

The reception of this cocktail was tremendous. Sweet cocktails need balance with acid, and this acid (the strawberry balsamic gastrique) had barrel aged balsamic vinegar and strawberries cooked into it. The chemical formula of vinegar is different from citric acid, your typical lemon juice acid, and we take notice with our senses. But the drink works. It transports you to a colonial time when shrubs were used to preserve fruits and add acid to cocktails that haven't been in fashion for 200 years.

To make the strawberry-balsamic gastrique combine 1 1/2 cups of sugar and 1 1/2 cups of water. Cook over low heat stirring constantly the sugar is dissolved. Add 2 cups of cut strawberries and simmer for 30 minutes while stirring occasionally. Stir in 1 cup of balsamic vinegar and raise heat to a boil while stiring contiuously. Lower the temperatore and allow to thicken for 30 minutes, still stirring. Allow to cool and strain through a cheesecloth. This gastrique will keep if refrigerated for up to three weeks.

For the Caribbean Shrub recipe:

  • 1 oz. Appleton Estate rum (George Bowman used)
  • 1 oz. Rhum Agricole blanc (Barbancourt 4-year-old used)
  • 3/4 oz. strawberry-balsamic gastrique
  • 3/4 oz. cane sugar syrup
  • 1/2 strawberry garnish

Shake all liquid ingredients with three ice cubes in a shaker to chill. Strain into a highball glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with the half strawberry.


Dangerous Liasons (Death & Company Recipe)


I just picked up a new bottle of MurLarkey Heritage whiskey from their distillery. I've really missed this craft whiskey on my bar. This batch seems to have been aged in barrels that previously held Cabernet or Merlot because it has a rich red color and the kind of tannin traction you'd expect from a full-bodied wine. I'm looking forward to their reading this post because they might let me know if I'm right about this. 

The only "dangerous" thing about this drink is that it puts a potent whiskey in sweet honey and tart citrus juices for a summery-tasting sour. It goes down all to easily. But I don't lament using my good whiskey--that "old country whiskey" comes through in the finish.

  • 1 1/2 oz. MurLarkey Heritage whiskey
  • 3/4 oz. Dolin blanc vermouth
  • 3/4 oz. grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. acacia honey syrup
  • 1 grapefruit crescent.

Shake all liquid ingredients with ice and strain into a highball glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with the grapefruit crescent.