Thursday, February 25, 2021

Castle To Castle (Death & Co. Recipe)


So much of this cocktail has been done before in one way or another, but it's never been done quite this good. A twist on the classic Whiskey with a splash of juice--a staple of St. Patrick's Day in American bars--shows up again with the good stuff. Knappogue Castle is one of the maltiest Irish whiskies. It stands out a little more than most Irish whiskies when mixed with juice and soda. Additionally, fresh-squeezed Fuji apple juice is brighter and fresher than juice you can buy in the store. Together, these flavors balance and make for a wonderful long drink.

Unpeated malt whiskies take on an apple or pear-like aroma at 12 years of age. Using a honey syrup as a sweetener instead of sugar plays right to this drink's strong suit. I juiced the Fuji apple for this cocktail by hand, which was no picnic and I don't recommend doing it. I wonder how the bartender's at Death & Co. did it with their juicers.

  • 1 1/2 oz. Knappogue Castle 12-year Irish whiskey
  • 1 1/2 oz. Fuji apple juice
  • 3/4 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. acacia honey syrup
  • basil sprig garnish
Short shake all the ingredients except garnishes with only 3 ice cubes) Strain into a Pilsner glass with crushed ice. Garnish with the basil sprig.

Mr. Kappes (Difford's Guide Reciep)


This rich and boozy cocktail is all about sherry and kirschwasser. It strikes me as very much a style of central Europe, with fruit brandy and fortified wine enjoyed from southern Spain to northern Denmark. There is a hint of citrus from the twist and Lillet Blanc, but hardly enough to lift it from the depths of funk that comes from 90-proof kirschwasser, which has a distinctive flavor like pisco or grappa and the rich age of PX (or solera) sherry. 

It is a big drink that I knew wouldn't fit in a coup, so here it is in a Martini glass. I can't say I love this cocktail, but like anyone who likes all of the ingredients separately, I had to try them together. 

  • 2 oz. kirschwasser (Kammer Kirsch used)
  • 1 oz. Pedro Ximenez sherry (Lustau East India solera used)
  • 1 oz. Lillet blanc
  • lemon twist
Combine all ingredients except lemon twist in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled Martini glass. Twist the lemon zest over the glass and drop it in. 

Mrs. Doyle (Death & Co. Recipe)


This quaint and familiar Sour cocktail with the unusual flavors of Swedish Punsch is named after an Irish actress in the sitcom, Father Ted. I'm not sure if the reference is correct, because it is obscure, but the coincidence is too strong to doubt. This is an Irish whiskey cocktail after all, and a good one. 

While Kronan is a present-day Swedish punsh available in some places in the US, it is possible to make it at home, which I did, with MurLarkey Lemon and Three Tea whiskey mixed with Jamaican rum and infused with lemon and cardamon. 

The addition of Swedish punsch adds a funky tropical flavor to the Sour cocktail: lots of lemon notes with cardamon, black tea (floral and smoky in this case because of the tea whiskey and IPA edition Jameson) and brown sugar sweetness. This was an easy cocktail to make, and an impressive one to serve on St. Patrick's Day.

  • 2 oz. Redbreast 12-year Irish Whiskey (Jameson IPA edition used)
  • 1/4 oz. Kronan Swedish Punsch (homemade used)
  • 3/4 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. simple syrup 

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

St. Columb's Rill (Death & Co. Recipe)


This is an herbal and citrusy all-liquor cocktail with Irish whiskey from Death & Co. It is a simple idea that is surprisingly balanced and requires no bitters or garnish to hold it together. That is because the herbal notes and even the citrus come from the botanicals in the Dolin blanc and Green Chartreuse (Dolin Genepy pictured). 

It is tempting to add more Green Chartreuse to give the cocktail the emerald color of may Irish-themed drinks making the rounds this time of year. That would be a mistake that would upset the delicate balance. Dolin Genepy, which I have substituted for Chartreuse, is similar in flavor but lacks the intensity of the Chartreuse's green color. Ordinarily, I wouldn't make a substitution like this if the amount were as much as an ounce because of this effect, but here the color change, and really the difference in flavor, are negligible. 

  • 2 oz. Bushmills Irish whiskey (Slane used)
  • 3/4 oz. Dolin blanc vermouth
  • 1/4 oz. Green Chartreuse (Dolin Genepy used)
  • 1/4 oz. Luxrdo maraschino liqueur

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

Bella Cohen (Death & Co. Recipe)


My hope that this New York bar named this drink based on the actress' actual preference. It is quite possible that she came to the bar herself, and this was named for her. And even if it isn't, it makes a great St. Patrick's Day cocktail. 

I'm gearing up for St. Patrick's Day with a few new whiskies and this East India solera sherry by Lustau. The recipe calls for pale cream sherry, but that is really a matter of color, not the sweetness of the flavor. This solera sherry is actually very rich, and it is part of the Death & Co. repertoire that gets used a lot, and so I anticipate using more of it as I make my way through their bar book. 

This cocktail is rich and a sweet with plenty of single malt nuttiness that the sherry accentuates. St. Germain is a small portion of the drink, but aids in adding texture to this all liquor drink. The lemon twist, if anything, adds the slightest acidity to cut the sweet and oak notes.  

  • 1 1/2 oz. Knappogue Castle 12-year Irish whiskey
  • 1 1/2 oz. Alvear Festival pale cream sherry (Lustau East India solera used)
  • 1 tsp. St Germain
  • 1 dash Peychaud's bitters
  • lemon twist

Combine all liquid ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled coupe glass. Twist lemon zest over the glass and drop it in. 

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Gin Hound (Death & Co. Recipe)


I love a quirky cocktail, and any drink with celery that's not a Bloody Mary is a quirky cocktail. And I think that Bloody Marys are quirky. This drink was fun because it is a spin on a Gimlet. Gin and lime are still the major players, but celery juice takes it out of the ordinary. Acacia honey (there's my little souvenir jar above) also makes the drink exotic, a bit of a combination of a Gimlet and a Bees Knees.

Celery juice is exactly what it sounds like. It isn't flavorless at all, and in fact is earthy and bitter and equally refreshing. There's not a lot of juice in celery, so expect to have to use a lot of it to get juice for one drink. I needed seven stalks! Typically you juice the celery in a food processor and use a fine mesh strainer to get the the most of the liquid away from the solids. You can further press the solids into a cheese cloth to get the rest.

  • 2 oz. gin (Citadelle used)
  • 1/2 oz. celery juice
  • 1/2 oz. lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. acacia honey syrup

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


I found this simple recipe for an Elisir Novasalus cocktail on the Haus Alpinez website. If you don't know what Novasalus is, think of it as a more bitter Fernet Branca. How is this possible, you ask? Think of it like being punched in the face by an angry old Italian man who has his fists full of birch bark and sap--that's how its been described to me. 

I can only find it in the little airline bottles right now, but I'll have to get more. It has a way of blending into cocktails that puts Fernet to shame, and I think it is because there's no menthol. But it is black and bitter and has the effect of making this drink a lot like a Black Manhattan without the whiskey. This is really drinking like and Italian.

  • 1.5 oz. Cocchi di Torino
  • .25 oz. Elisir Novasalus
  • 2 dashes orange bitters
  • orange twist

Build drink in an Old Fashioned glass with a large ice cube and twist the orange peel over the glass and drop it in. 


Great Northern (Death & Co.)


No surprises here. Akvavit, honey and bitter orange flavors are amazing together. The Death & Co. cocktail book says that akvavit is often overlooked because it doesn't appear in any classic cocktails and that the four drinks they offer are an attempt to remedy that. 

I've been singing the praises ever since someone gave me a taste of homemade akvavit. Now I make it myself with vodka and MurLarkey justice white whiskey. A combination of both gives the cocktail an herbal spiciness that is quite unlike any other spirit. It can go savory or sweet or, in this case, a little of both.

A note on acacia honey: this is an unusual honey made from the narrow-leafed tree. It is usually raw and has bits of the comb in it, so you can make the syrup, but you should strain it through mesh, or double strain the cocktail. I got mine as a travel gift from some western state, and I was glad I discovered it for this drink.

  • 2 oz. akvavit (homemade used)
  • 3/4 oz lillet blanc
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. acacia honey syrup
  • 2 orange crescents as garnishes
 Shake (short shake) all ingredients except garnishes with 3 ice cubes and strain them into a rocks glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with the orange slices.

Gonzalez (Death & Co. Recipe)


This drink is named after  Jessica Gonzalez, the first female bartender at Death & Co. She must have like the Martinez, because that is what this drink is doing, essentially. And it's great, its easy, it's so approachable, I had to make it with my own homemade gin.

  • 2 oz. dry gin (homemade used)
  • 3/4 oz. Punt e Mes (Cocchi di Torino used)
  • 3/4 Luxardo maraschino
  • 2 dashes aromatic bitters (Hella used)

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

Frisco Club (Death & Co. Recpe)


The Death & Co. cocktail book includes this riff on a Pegu Club with Fernet Branca and grapefruit juice. I'm pretty sure that changing the name to Frisco club is a nod to how much the bartenders of San Francisco love Fernet Branca. In the industry this is a well-known fact and anyone in the service industry can count on an out of town San Franciscan to request a shot or cocktail made with the stuff.

The nice thing about this cocktail is that it satisfies the itch of the shaken gin cocktail drinker without putting them off because of the bitterness. Instead, the bitterness gives backbone to the grapefruit juice. A brief note about blood orange liqueur: there's not much of that available. Aperol or in my case, Ambrosia, are fair substitutes with their rich, sweet citrus flavors. 

  • 2 oz. gin (Citadelle gin used)
  • 1/2 oz. Solerno blood orange liqueur (Don Ciccio & Figili Ambrosia used)
  • 1/4 oz. Fernet Branca
  • 3/4 oz. grapefruit juice
  • 1/4 oz. lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. simple syrup
  • grapefruit twist garnish

Combine all ingredients except garnish in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled coupe glass. Squeeze the grapefruit zest over the glass and garnish with it as a twist. 



Okay, if you love Fernet Branca like I do and you are looking for a quick way to enjoy it with other Italian spirits, this is totally it. 

Fernet is extremely bitter and mentholated spirit that was intended as a vitamin and mineral supplement. Now it is pretty much the shot of choice for bartenders when they get off work. But it isn't for everyone. This quick (and not dirty) cocktail is a sure fix for those newly initiated to Italian spirits.

  • 1 oz. Fernet Branca
  • 1 oz. Cocchi di Torino vermouth
  • 1 oz. Strega
  • orange twist garnish

Combine liquid ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain in to a chilled Nick & Nora glass and garnish with the twist. 

European Union (Death & Co. Recipe)


This cocktail really tries to tie together a number of European spirits in a way that is inviting and familiar. The recipe is similar to a Martinez, or other rich gin cocktail with brandy-based spirits. Old Tom gin represents a quasi-British/ Dutch dominance of the gin-drinking culture, and Strega, while Italian, speaks for the entire Alpine region of central Europe. France is represented by calvados, but is here replaced by Laird's applejack-86. It isn't as dry and fusty tasting as some types of calvados but Busnel and Laird's are actually pretty similar.

  • 1 1/2 oz. Old Tom gin (Vitae used)
  • 1 oz. sweet vermouth
  • 1/2 oz. calvados (Laird's applejack-86 used)
  • 1 tsp. Strega
  • 1 dash hella aromatic bitters

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

Four In Hand--In Coup (Death & Co. Recipe)


As cocktail trends come and go throughout the years, there are some recipes that will always find favor. Here's another simple recipe by Death & Co. that is more classic than trendy. This cocktail calls for Old Granddad-114 bourbon, another well priced product, but the overall experience comes across as a spiced rum drink with apple notes I gave it from Laird's applejack-86. The use of George Bowman's Caribbean rum makes for a very colonial-style cocktail, and one that has some staying power. 

A few quick tweaks I made with regards to the syrup: I did not pre-make syrup, I flavored my simples using spirits. For the cinnamon syrup I used MurLarkey cinnamon whiskey. It is an easy way to add a dash of intense cinnamon into your syrup. And while I could have soaked my cinnamon sticks I use for garnishes in hot syrup, with MurLarkey cinnamon, I didn't have to because they made this dry spirit for just this kind of occasion. It is so dry, in fact that you can use it for a cinnamon bitters. 

The vanilla syrup was also an easy correction, adding my vanilla infused vodka to the same simple syrup produced a rich vanilla note with little change to the balance of the drink.

Finally, I used Genepy instead of Green Chartreuse for that herbal lift that the cocktail relies on. Yes, a quarter ounce of Green Chartreuse will be a little more bitter, but it is not enough to affect the color or flavor in such a small proportion, and I'm willing to argue that any Alpine liqueur will do just fine.

  • 3/4 oz. bourbon (Ancient Age used)
  • 3/4 oz. Laird's apple brandy (Laird's applejack-86 used) 
  • 1/4 oz. Smith & Cross rum (George Bowman used)
  • 1/4 oz. Green Chartreuse (Genepy used)
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon syrup
  • 1 tsp. vanilla syrup
  • orange twist garnish 

Combine all ingredients except garnishes in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled rocks glass and twist the orange zest over it and use it for a garnish. 

Beekeeper's Sour (Original Recipe)

 It's fun to mix with bourbon and honey. It's even more fun to mix with a whiskey that is made from infused honey comb. That's what MurLarkey honey whiskey is, the distillery's craft white whiskey aged with homegrown honey comb. 

Master distiller George Zwetkow raises his own bees out in rural Virginia. His honey whiskey has the essence of real honey without the sticky sweetness. This is a far cry from honeyed whiskies that have sugar and artificial flavor added. In fact, if you want a sweet cocktail with Murlarkey honey, you'll need to make it sweet.

So I did. I made a typical Sour but with honey and some bourbon. I changed up the format and did it with crushed ice in a rocks glass. It looks great and tastes even better!

Combine all ingredients except garnish in a shaker with ice. Strain into a chilled Old Fashioned glass full of crushed ice. Garnish with fruit.

Cure For Pain (Death & Co. Recipe)


There's a lot about this cocktail that is classic, simple, and straightforward. It's not a Pain Killer in coup glass format. There are no trendy ingredients or funky syrups that you typically find in Death & Co. recipes--just good old booze. 

I'm pleased that Rittenhouse, along with Old Overholt, seem to to be the ryes of choice for the New York speakeasy. You can't beat them for flavor and price. Overholt makes a great base for infusions of rich flavors. Rittenhouse is spicy and strong--also good for infusions but why bother when it already tastes so good.

Here is a port and rye cocktail I could enjoy in all seasons. My feeling has always been that port cocktails taste a little heavy on sugar and light on alcohol. They are the kind of thing you can handle on winter occasions, but not for everyday consumption. Consider that port usually sweetens a cocktail, and ever so slightly waters it down with grape juice. The craft of this cocktail is the balance, and you get it from depth of port, bourbon and cacao held up by spicy rye and bitter Campari (or bitters in general)

One funny thing I had to do to complete this recipe was to fudge the minuscule amount of Campari with other bitters I had on hand. I can't believe I don't have any Campari, especially since Death & Co. enjoy using it so much. It truly introduced bitterness into the cocktail revolution. For a small portion of Campari, a healthy 10 dashes of Peychaud's bitters in a quarter ounce of amaro (I used Amer Picon which has Rammazzotti in it). 

  • 1 1/2 oz. Rittenhouse 100 rye
  • 1/2 oz. bourbon (Ancient Age used)
  • 1/2 oz. tawny port (Morgado ruby used)
  • 1 teaspoon Campari (bitters substitution used)
  • 1 teaspoon white creme de cacao
  • orange twist garnish

Combine all ingredients except garnish in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a coupe glass and twist orange zest over the drink and drop it in.

Friday, February 12, 2021

Way Of The Sumo (Original Recipe)


I've been playing around with mandarin oranges after having leftovers from making my Mandarine Napoleon knockoff liqueur. I picked up one sumo mandarin orange just in case I didn't have enough of the regular small ones. Just for reference, I want to show the difference in size between a sumo mandarin and a regular one. The sumo version is truly a plus-sized fruit, much like the husky Japanese wrestlers.

So sumo mandarin juice tastes the same as ordinary mandarin juice. I used this with some lemon to increase the acid and paired it with Manzanilla fino sherry because it also has musty fruit notes. Old Tom gin also keeps things spicy when paired with ginger brandy, and again, Mandarine Napoleon backs up and sweetens all of these flavors. 

Finally, the peel of the sumo mandarin comes off neatly and can be used to emphasize the largeness of the fruit when placed in an oversized wine glass. 

  • juice of 1/2 sumo mandarin orange
  • 1 1/2 oz. Old Tom gin (Vitae used)
  • 1 oz. Mandarine Napoleon (homemade used)
  • 1/2 oz. ginger brandy (homemade used
  • 1 oz. Manzanilla sherry
  • 1/4 oz. lemon juice
  • club soda
  • 1/3 peel of a mandarin orange 

Place the orange peel in an oversized red wine glass (stemless used) and fill it with ice. Combine all liquid ingredients except soda in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into the glass and top with soda.

Bros Of Summer (Original Recipe)


I still had some Blue Monkey watermelon juice left over from making the Over And Out. When you are working with a lot of fresh ingredients like mint and cucumber, vodka is all you need to add alcohol. Anything else will confuse things, and sometimes you want to experience the natural flavors for themselves. 

This is a knock off drink that was super popular ten years ago, the Cucumber Mint Martini. This misnomer cocktail was quickly picked up as soon as restaurants began stocking their bars with fresh ingredients. It is still good, but vodka seems to be an "old hat" ingredient. In this case, the drink has aged well.

  • 2 oz. 100-proof vodka
  • 3 cucumber wheels
  • 5 mint leaves
  • 1/2 oz. lime juice
  • 1 oz. watermelon juice (Blue Monkey used)
  • 1/2 oz. simple syrup
  • mint sprig garnish

Muddle mint and cucumber in a shaker and fill it with the remaining liquid ingredients and ice. Shake and double strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with mint sprig.

What Bitch, What? (Original Recipe)


This cocktail is a situational drink. The scene looks like this: It is a crowded bar and the "stick" bartenders taking the orders from the crowd are overwhelmed. It is also noisy and no one can hear each other. Amidst this there is the service bartender, madly muddling fruit for a cocktail that needs to go to a table. A woman approaches the service bartender in her attempt to circumvent the line to the bar and starts trying to shout over the din, maybe asking for what the service bartender is working on.

The service bartender adds the wrong ingredients to the drink in hand and gives it to the woman to get her to leave. Somewhere in the shouted conversation, the service bartender may have uttered the name of this drink.

  • 6 blueberries
  • 5 mint sprigs
  • 2 oz. bourbon (Ancient Age used)
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. simple syrup
  • orange slice 3 blueberries as garnishes

Muddle 6 blueberries and mint sprigs in a shaker. Then add ice and liquid ingredients and ice Pour into an Old Fashioned glass and garnish with remaining berries and orange slice.

Slap 'N' Pickle (Death & Co. Recipe)

Okay, this is the innovative akvavit cocktail from Death & Co. that I've been looking for. It's the first time that I've seen akvavit used with cucumber garnishes and muddled cucumber. Despite the name, there is nothing pickled in this cocktail: these are fresh cucumbers. It is the pickling seeds like fennel, coriander, and anise in the akvavit, and the celery bitters that give this drink its pickled character.

I had already prepared a few of the staple ingredients for this recipe. The first is my homemade akvavit with MurLarkey Justice white whiskey. And I have to say, once you learn to make your own akvavit, it is cheaper and better than the main brands, whatever may be available to you. And mostly you won't find much selection. I also found that making your own celery bitters is very easy and doesn't require gentian root. Just get a tsp. of celery seeds and some bits of chopped celery leaves and stalk and steep them in 100-proof vodka. The longer you steep them, the more bitter they get!

It feels like ten years ago that muddling cucumbers into a shaker was going out of style, but this drink's gimic, if you can call it that, is to put a cucumber spear in the glass to make it look like a pickle. I know why this is done; however, and it isn't for flavor. People at the bar will be wondering and asking about it, so the drink advertises itself.

  • 3 cucumber wheels
  • 2 oz. akvavit (homemade used)
  • 3/4 oz. lime juice
  • 3/4 oz. simple syrup
  • 1 tsp. grenadine
  • 2 dashes celery bitters (homemade used)
  • 1 cucumber spear garnish

Muddle 3 cucumber wheels in the shaker tin and add the remaining ingredients except for the garnish cucumber. Shake and double strain into a chilled Old Fashioned glass with a large ice cube. Garnish with the cucumber spear. 


One, One, One (Death & Co. Recipe)


While Death & Company is known for complicated recipes and combining flavors that are seldom experienced together, they are big fans of the three equal-part cocktail. The name says it by itself. I picked up a bottle of Dolin blanc just for this drink, and it is necessary to give it any sweetness and breathing room.

In terms of flavor, I would put this in the category of Martini variations. It is very dry, despite the wetter vermouth, and the orange and spice of bitters and akvavit really distinguish it from anything made with vodka. That said, it is one of Death & Co.'s many Martini variations that I want to try, mostly because I want to drink more gin and akvavit stirred in a cocktail that is easy to make. 

  • 1 oz. akvavit (homemade with MurLarkey Justice white whiskey used)
  • 1 oz. London dry gin (Citadelle used)
  • 1 oz. Dolin blanc
  • 1 dash orange bitters (Hella used)

Stir all ingredients in a mixing glass full of ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

Over and Out (Death & Co. Recipe)


Death & Co. are renowned for their innovative cocktails back when there were none to be had. Their recipe book includes four akvavit recipes that are all winners; however, this one seems less innovative then the others. 

It's a well known fact that akvavit tastes great with tequila and citrus flavors like orange and grapefruit juice. The unusual part of this recipe is swapping out the typical juice with watermelon. Luckily, it being winter, Blue Monkey makes an excellent fresh watermelon juice in a can just for this occasion. 

Then I couldn't find celery bitters at the liquor store, so I quickly made them the night before: 3 tsp. celery seeds, 1 tsp. chopped celery leaves and an oz. of vodka. Allow to infuse for at least 3 hours.

This drink tastes so much of summer, it is hard to express. And I really wanted to have a summer drink in the middle of a snow storm. Sometimes our preferences are oppositional to our surroundings, which is what cocktails are all about. 

  • 1 oz. blanco tequila (Sauza used)
  • 1 oz. akvavit (homemade with MurLarkey Justice white whiskey used)
  • 3/4 oz. lime juice
  • 3/4 oz. watermelon juice (Blue Monkey used)
  • 1/2 oz. sugar syrup
  • 1 dash celery bitters
  • 1 dash orange bitters 
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and double strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Hoosier Daddy (Original Recipe)


Now for something completely outside the box. I was making Hoosier stew, that midwest skillet dinner with green beans, Polish sausage and potatoes and onions. It's a salty, fatty winter treat. But it occurred to me that cocktails can often be an offshoot of soup recipes, that it is very realistic to make a broth-base drink that is savory and have it actually be good. 

It wasn't my immediate realization that MurLarkey Justice white whiskey, with it's corn spirit nose and vegetel finish (almost like green beans) would be perfect for a Hoosier stew cocktail. 

The drink had to be salty with just a little pepper spice. I got creative and salted the rim and added black pepper, paprika and a just a few dashes of chipotle Tabasco for smoke. But it needed a garnish to get the Hoosier stew concept across. Actual smoked sausage, a steamed green bean and cocktail onions (and the odd olive pictured) festoon this silly cocktail.

But it's not that silly. There's plenty of drinks like the Bull Shot and Steaming Bull. The Bloody Mary is the best example of a savory cocktail that is essentially out-of-control tomato soup. It's no Bloody Mary, but that's not what I was going for. It was more like the Borscht Belt or Gazpacho Cocktaill, a soup cocktail that knows what it is. Hoosier Stew is definitely that, and for those who love the dish, they should try the drink. I have to say, this is way better than a Chicken Shot.

  • 2 oz. chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 oz. MurLarkey Justice white whiskey
  • 1/2 oz. vodka
  • coarse salt rim
  • pinch salt
  • pinch pepper
  • pinch paprika
  • several dashes chipotle Tabasco
  • Polish sausage, onion, and steamed green bean garnishes

Rim an Old Fashioned glass with coarse salt by wetting the rim and dipping it into a dish of salt. Combine liquid ingredients and seasoning in a shaker with ice. Shake and pour into the glass and garnish with stew morsels like smoked sausage, steamed bean and pickled onion.

Park Life Swizzle (Death & Co. Recipe)


When I saw that there was an Old Tom Swizzle recipe in the Death & Co. book, I had to try it. I didn't have Ransom, which is what is specified, and rather than using Vitae's mild tasting Old Tom, I went in another direction.

I know that Ransom is very malty and dank, for lack of a better word. So my choice was homemade Schiedam gin with malt whiskey infused with juniper and citrus. It was dank! This is a spicier lime juice swizzle that tastes more tropical than the Robert Johnson Swizzle. The spice comes from Angostura bitters on top, but also the ginger syrup (which I made by adding ginger brandy to my syrup). It smelled incredible. It tasted even better. The problem with swizzles, though, is that they are a pain to make and they don't last long.

Here's how it's done:

  • 1 oz.  Ransom Old Tom (homemade Schiedam used)
  • 1 oz. amontillado sherry
  • 3/4 oz. lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. ginger syrup
  • 6 dashes Angostura bitters
  • mint sprig garnish

Combine liquid ingredients in a shaker with crushed ice. Shake and pour into a chilled pilsner glass. Add more crushed ice and use a bois lele to stir and chill. Add more ice and continue stirring until the glass freezes over and the contents of the glass reach the top. Dash bitters on the ice and garnish with mint. 

Rodeo Drive Rammer


This is a fun, and a little silly, drink to salute the crazy that is part of driving in Los Angles. Really, this is a cocktail that is part deluxe, part gaudy, and all American--just like Beverly Hills itself.

Here is a  punch drink with the usual rum. falernum and orange juice: but it's not stereotypically American enough until you add peach liqueur and bourbon. In fact this drink flips the tables with bourbon being the base spirit in a punch, which I like. I happened to have a dash left of Evan Williams peach bourbon, which worked for the peach brandy that was specified in the recipe. 

Go ahead and make this one if you are in the mood for day drinking, just don't get behind the wheel.

  • 1 1/2 oz. bourbon (Ancient Age used)
  • 1/2 oz. Jamaican rum (George Bowman used)
  • 1/2 oz. curacao (triple sec used)
  • 1/2 oz. peach brandy (Evan Williams peach used)
  • 3 oz. orange juice
  • 1 tsp. falernum or orgeat (homemade falernum used)
  • pineapple slice and cherry garnishes
  • club soda
 Combine all liquid ingredients except for soda in a shaker or blender. Shake or blend and pour into a Hurricane glass. Top with soda and garnish with fruit.


Robert Johnson Swizzle (Death & Co. Recipe)

I have a bois lele (Caribbean swizzle stick) for my birthday and I'm excited to tackle the swizzle section of the Death & Co. cocktail book. Between crushing the ice and meticulous swizzling and freezing the glass, a swizzle is a lot of work. So I started by making some of the easier recipes. 

This recipe is good for people who love bourbon drinks. There's vanilla, whiskey bitters and some cirtus and fortified wine. What's not to like? 

Unfortunately I didn't have the Fee Brothers whiskey barrel-aged bitters, but that's okay considering I had all the rest. I used my vanilla vodka to flavor the simple syrup for the sweetener. And you can taste it just fine under the Peychaud's that you have to dash on top of the ice so that you smell them while sipping through the straw. 

  • 2 oz. bourbon (Ancient Age used)
  • 3/4 oz. tawny port (ruby used)
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 3/4 oz. vanilla syrup
  • 2 dashes whiskey barrel-aged bitters
  • 3 dashes Peychaud's bitters
  • mint sprig garnish

Add crushed ice to a chilled Collins glass and the shaking tin. Combine all liquid ingredients in the shaker and shake to chill. Pour into the Collins glass and stir with a bois lele, adding ice and continuing to stir until the glass freezes and the contents of the glass reach the top. Dash bitters on the ice and garnish with the mint. 


Winter Clove Cocktail (Diford's Guide)


Clove, that quintessential winter spice, is one of the few ingredients that can be infused on the spot to make for a richer cocktail. This recipe from Difford's Guide simply says to combine all the ingredients in a mixing glass and stir, and it works. You can really taste the cloves!

This was one of those after dinner drinks that really demonstrates how an all liquor cocktail can be balanced and deep at the same time. I emphasize balance because it is a balancing act of proportions to not blow this cocktail out with sweet mandarin liqueur or smoky scotch.

Chocolate bitters are a necessity here, and though these Aztec bitters are a little loaded with cinnamon compared to what Difford's specifies, I felt that the spice pulled the flavors together. If you have the bitters and the other ingredients you should do this cocktail. If you don't have the ingredients, (you can get away with triple sec instead of Mandarine Napoleon, it's hard to find everywhere) go out and get them this winter. You won't be sorry.

  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1 1/3 oz. cognac (Martell single distillery used)
  • 2/3 oz. Mandarine Napoleon (homemade used)
  • 1/6 oz. (1 tsp.) Islay single malt (Ardbeg 10 used)
  • 3 dashes chocolate bitters (Fee Brothers Aztec used)
  • orange zest twist

Combine cloves and liquid ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass (snifter pictured) and garnish with the zest.

Strange Brew (Death & Co. Recipe)


I'm really enjoying beer with my cocktails lately. In some cases, as you may have seen previously, I also enjoy beer in my cocktails. The IPA craze has fueled a lot of creative bitter drinks that use beer for more than fizz. 

IPA is loaded with floral and citrus hop characteristics that make them taste almost juicy. This plays great with tropical flavors of falernum as well as herbal notes of gin. As I have done with previous cocktails, I'm using Stone IPA for its west coast style with more piney flavors. This is a good call when considering the pineapple and gin that goes into the Strange Brew. 

The Death & Co. recipe calls for Tanqueray 10, and I will echo that any high-botanical dry gin will hit the spot. Citadelle has 18 botanicals and it is in a luxury class of dry gin equal to Tanqueray 10. Sometimes you have to consider the quality of the gin, especially when making Death & Co. drinks, and even more so when mixing with beer. 

Overall, I loved how dry and bitter the drink was. It was refreshing and strong, like an IPA, but with lots of acidity and spice. If anything, I felt it could use more sugar; my falernum being a little drier than Velvet Falernum, so it did less to add sweetness. But I'm always appreciative when a Tiki (or near-Tiki) cocktail isn't heavy and doesn't shy away from the bitter and tart side.

  • 2 oz. dry gin (Citadelle used)
  • 3/4 oz. falernum
  • 1 oz. pineapple juice
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • IPA beer (Stone used)
  • 1 mint sprig garnish

Shake all ingredients with only 3 ice cubes, then strain into a pilsner glass filled with crushed ice. Top with IPA and garnish with the mint. 


The Dead Reckoning (Smuggler's Cove Recipe)


This Tiki cocktail is part of the Tiki revival movement--balanced but rich, classic ingredients, but made for the new Tiki bar scene. According to Martin Cate, a lot of restaurants have adopted something similar to this popular cocktail on the menu at his Smuggler's Cove.

You don't see all that many Tiki drinks with maple syrup (behind the glass). Nor did old-school Tiki drinks feature infusions like Smuggler's Cove. This drink has a vanilla infused brandy. I got around it by adding some vanilla infused vodka (that I always keep around for these occasions) to some cognac for a more than passable substitute. 

The experience is like I said above--balanced. A modern Tiki has the richness of the rum flavor as well as the lightness of soda and fresh citrus and fresh squeezed pineapple juice. There are no artificial mixers or canned juices involved, and it shows. I'm featuring George Bowman rum for the first time on my home bar as a great blended aged rum with all the Caribbean flavors of Guyana and Jamaica. It's going to be my main aged rum until I finish it off. 

One last note on preparation: the recipe includes directions for a drink mixing machine, which I don't have, but I was able to replicate a flash blend with agitator cubes in a shaker with pre-crushed ice. I'll include the recipe as written, but the photo in the book shows that this use of the mixing machine really gives you varied sizes of ice, which you can see in my photo above. Some tiny chips, some chunks, and some pretty big cubes. Just pre-crush some ice into tiny chips and lightly crush some cubes and load all of the chips and some of the cubes into the shaker tin and shake. When you strain, open the gate to allow the small and medium-sized pieces to flow into a glass that's already half-full of crushed ice and you are golden.

  • 2 oz. blended aged rum (George Bowman used)
  • 1/2 oz. tawny port (Porto Morgado used)
  • 1 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 oz. pineapple juice
  • 1/2 oz. vanilla brandy
  • 1/2 oz. grade A maple syrup
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters
  • 1 oz. seltzer
  • pineapple leaves and mint sprig garnishes

Add seltzer to a Collins or highball glass. Fill the drink mixer with rum, port, vanilla brandy, juices and syrup. Add 12 oz. of crushed ice and 4-6 agitator cubes and flash blend. Strain the contents over the glass and fill the glass to the top with more crushed ice before adding the garnishes

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Lobby Cocktail


I got this fun and easy recipe off of Kindred Cocktails, a website similar to mine with a large cocktail recipe database. If you haven't noticed, lately I've been trolling the internet looking for modern recipes or twists on classics that I've not tried yet. There is a lot out there, but I've just about exhausted the classics and am looking for things to do with more unusual spirits. Today that was my homemade Mandarine Napoleon recipe.

So the Lobby cocktail seems to take its name from other hotel-themed cocktails like the Grand Hotel or Hotel Plaza. But really I found the experience of the Lobby Cocktail similar to the KGB, which is kirsch, gin and apricot brandy. It's that kind of heavy, all high-proof spirits experience that doesn't let up, or at least not at first, that this drink reminded me of. And it isn't surprising. Mandarine Napoleon is the only sweet spirit in here, like apricot brandy in the KGB, and that barely provides room for the other ingredients. Unlike other Hotel cocktails, there's no aromatized wine like sweet vermouth to thin out the high-proof stuff, so I recommend using wet ice or going with a splash of water in your mixing glass. 

Something else of note: this cocktail calls for Galliano (not pictured) and because I didn't have it, I couldn't put it in the photo. I do have a pretty reliable recipe to substitute for Galliano in a pinch. It wont do for Galliano drinks like the Harvey Wallbanger, but when all you need is a quarter of an ounce, then I suggest combining sweet 3 parts anisette (or anisette with a drop of sugar syrup) and 1 part vanilla vodka. This gets the herbal and vanilla notes of Galliano across when color and texture would otherwise be lost among other ingredients. For this cocktail, I used sweet Aguardiente as the anisette, not a pastis like Ricard or absinthe substitute. Those are playing a different ballgame than Galliano, and Aguardiente has the sweet herbal flavors (minus the vanilla) that I was looking for.

  • 2 oz. gin (Citadelle used)
  • 1/4 oz. Galliano (a mixture of 3 parts Aguardiente and 1 part vanilla vodka used)
  • 1/4 oz. Mandarine Napoleon
  • 1 dash orange bitters
  • lemon zest twist

Combine liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Twist lemon zest over the glass and drop it in. 

The Other Woman


This was a fun cocktail to try out more variations of Citadelle gin and Byrrh, two very French spirits that play well together. The Other Woman comes from London bartender, Lucy Horncastle, according to Difford's guide. It is a dry Sour with herbal bitterness, but orgeat makes it swing slightly creamy. Creole bitters like Peychaud's keeps up the herbal and citrus intensity, but despite it's strength, The Other Woman isn't a manly drink.

No, you'd think a quinine infused wine and dry gin would land heavily on spirits, but this is no Martini. Byrrh is the primary spirit, and gin takes a back seat. Even so, it's not an Upside-Down Martini either. Instead, I found it a bit like a gin Daiquiri, or something from the Daisy class of drinks with its sourness and almond smoothness, and that je ne sais quoi...floral loveliness that that speaks to nightlife in New Orleans and clandestine meetings backstage at the cabaret.

  • 1 2/3 oz. Byrrh 
  • 3/4 oz. dry gin (Citadelle used)
  • 2/3 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 orgeat syrup (Liber & Co. used)
  • 2 dash Peychaud's bitters

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

A Few Of My Favorite Things


This isn't my recipe, though these are a few of my favorite things, that's for sure. Difford's Guide says that a British bartender Dale Bebington invented this, and I have to say it displays superior taste.

Last weekend it snowed in Virginia, and this recipe really called to me. Even the name from the Sound Of Music felt especially appropriate for winter. I had all the things for the recipe, essentially. Genepy is alpine spirit along the same lines as Chartreuse, it is even French, and I believe it comes from the many unsuccessful attempts to replicate Chartreuse back during a time when it was in short supply.

Other ingredients include Martel cognac, which was specified in the recipe as well as mildly sweet Amontillado sherry. Instead of Aperol, I have Ambrosia by Don Ciccio & Figili, amari makers in the U.S. capital. Lastly, a dash of Angostura bitters and orange bitters. It's like a stirred pie!

  • 1/3 oz. Martell cognac
  • 1/3 PX sherry Amontillado used
  • 1/3 Aperol or red sweet Italian amaro (Ambrosia used)
  • 1/6 green Chartreuse (Dolin Genepy used)
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters
  • 1 dash Hella orange bitters
  • lemon zest twist

Combine all liquid ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled Old Fashioned glass full of fresh ice. Twist lemon over the glass and drop it in.