Saturday, May 26, 2018


1 1/4 oz Bourbon (Four Roses)
1/2 oz Scotch (Famous Grouse)
1/4 oz Jamaican Rum (Smith & Cross)
2 tsp Coffee Liqueur (Kahlua)
1 tsp Passion Fruit Liqueur (Ezequiel's)

Stir with ice, strain into an old fashioned glass with a large ice cube, and garnish with an orange twist.

Two Saturdays ago, I was lured in by a recipe posted in Imbibe Magazine for the Highwayman by Tyson Buhler at the new Death & Co. bar that opened up in Denver. The Highwayman came across as a three spirit Old Fashioned of sorts and the trio of Bourbon, Scotch, and Jamaican rum reminded me of Sahil Mehta's Bootlegger's Breakfast. Here, the sweetener was the duo of coffee and passion fruit liqueurs -- a flavor combination that appeared in Tiki drinks like the Kiliki Cooler and Espresso Bongo.
The Highwayman gave forth an orange oil and rum funk bouquet with hints of coffee to the nose. Next, malt and a dark roast note filled the sip, and the swallow showcased the whisk(e)ys, rum's funk, and a touch of smoke with a coffee-passion fruit finish.

Friday, May 25, 2018

my old piano

1 1/2 oz Rittenhouse Rye
3/4 oz Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth (Maurin)
1/2 oz Mezcal (Fidencio)
1/4 oz Kümmel (Helbing)
2 dash Apple Bitters (Bittermens Burlesque)

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail coupe.

For my Friday's nightcap, I turned to Amanda Schuster's New York Cocktails and I paused on the My Old Piano presented by Sother Teague at Amor y Amargo. I had passed over this drink since I lacked BarKeep's Apple Bitters (or homemade ones), but I decided that I could probably get by with another fruit and spice bitters. With a little research, I discovered that the drink was created by bartender Ari Form, and I was lured in by the combination of rye over mezcal that worked well in drinks like the Last Caress, Red Ant, and other recipes. I was also curious about the kümmel ingredient; I recalled how well it paired with whiskey in William Schmidt's 1891 Gladstone. Moreover, modern mixology has demonstrated how well kümmel works with agave spirits such as in the Island of Misfit Toys and Mission Bell.
My Old Piano greeted the nose with grape, smoke, and cumin notes. Next, grape and malt mingled on the sip, and the swallow proffered rye along with smoky vegetal flavors with a caraway and cumin finish.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

threepenny opera

1 oz Fernet Branca
1 oz Campari
1 oz Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth (Maurin)
1 oz Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao
1 pinch Salt

Stir with ice, strain into a double old fashioned glass with a large ice cube, and add an orange twist.

Two Thursdays ago, I began flipping through Food & Wine: Cocktails 2016 until I came upon the Threepenny Opera. The recipe was crafted by Ryan Puckett at Indianapolis' Libertine Liquor Bar as a rather amaro-heavy libation featuring the Fernet-Campari "Ferrari" combination. The musical name along with the Fernet, Campari, and vermouth trio reminded me a bit of Short & Main's Jukebox Opera that came out later that year, but here, the bitterness was mollified by a pinch of salt as was done in the Cornerman and other drinks.
The Threepenny Opera gave forth an orange aroma that met up with a hint of Fernet's menthol on the nose. Next, caramel, grape, and orange on the sip led into bitter herbal-menthol flavors on the swallow. Overall, I was impressed at how the curaçao worked with the Campari to push the balance in a citrus direction to counter the salt-quenched Fernet.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

commodore no. 2

1/3 Bourbon Whiskey (2 oz Larceny)
1/3 Lemon Juice (3/4 oz)
1/3 Crème de Cacao (3/4 oz Tempus Fugit)
1 dash Grenadine (1/4 oz)

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass; I added a lemon twist.
I recently saw a riff on the Commodore No. 2 in Food & Wine: Cocktails 2010, and two Wednesdays ago, I decided to make the original instead. The classic recipe appeared first in the 1935 Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book as a Whiskey Sour with crème de cacao and a touch of grenadine as the sweeteners, and I modified it slightly to make it more spirit forward. Once prepared, the Commodore No. 2 proffered lemon oil over Bourbon and chocolate aromas. Next, a lemon and berry sip led into a whiskey and raspberry-chocolate swallow.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

zombie julep

1 oz Appleton Rum (Appleton Reserve)
1 oz Plantation 5 Year Barbados Rum
1/4 oz Demerara 151 Proof Rum (Lemon Hart 151)
1/2 oz Falernum (Velvet)
1/4 oz Maraschino (Luxardo)
1/4 oz Grenadine
10 leaf Mint

Muddle mint in the syrup and liqueurs in a Julep cup (or double old fashioned glass), add rest, stir, and remove mint leaves. Add crushed ice, stir, and garnish with a mint sprig.
Since my mint patch has come back for yet another season, I decided two Tuesdays ago to finally make the Zombie Julep that I had spotted in Imbibe Magazine. The article cited Travis Brown at Raleigh's Fox Liquor Bar as the creator, and it described how he merged (or was inspired by) two classics, the Zombie and the Mint Julep. Once prepared, the Zombie Julep shared a mint nose over rum notes. Next, caramel, light cherry, and berry flavors on the sip transitioned into rich rum, nutty, mint, and clove elements on the swallow.

Monday, May 21, 2018

cigarettes and chocolate milk

1 oz Michter's Bourbon
1 oz Hamilton's Demerara Rum (*)
1/2 oz Coffee Heering
1/2 oz Cynar
1/4 oz Crème de Cacao

Stir with ice, strain into a rocks glass, and garnish with orange oil from a twist.
(*) Sahil made the drink earlier in the evening with the 86 proof but ran out. When I requested it, he tried it with the 151 proof. It shifted the balance away from the whiskey and more towards the rum.

Two Mondays ago, Andrea and I ventured down to Estragon for dinner. For a cocktail, I asked bartender Sahil Mehta for his drink of the day. Sahil described how the evening's cool weather made him veer away from a citrus drink, so he offered a straight spirits number. With the coffee liqueur and smoky Guyanese rum, he wanted to call this Coffee and Cigarettes, but he ended up naming it Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk after the Rufus Wainwright song.
The Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk began with a caramel, smoky Demerara rum, and bright orange oil bouquet that led into a caramel and roast-filled sip. Next, the swallow offered rum, molasses, and mocha flavors that reminded me of an Imperial stout beer.

Sunday, May 20, 2018


1 oz Mezcal
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Pineapple Juice
1/2 oz Carpano Antica (Maurin Sweet Vermouth)
1/4 oz Crème de Cacao (Tempus Fugit)
1 bsp Campari
1 bsp Grenadine

Shake with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with an orange twist.

On my walk home from work two Sunday nights ago, I began perusing the OnTheBar app's recipe collection for mezcal drinks. There, I spotted Dan Braganca's Langosta that he crafted at Backbar in 2015. Dan was inspired by two events on a trip to Portland, Maine. The first of these was a shot of mezcal, pineapple juice, and Campari that he was served at the Bearded Lady' Jewel Box; the second was a chocolate lobster candy left on his pillow at the hotel. These ingredients got Dan thinking about the Floridita from Cuba and the Tortuga from Trader Vic. Dan also included the equal part Campari and grenadine mix that Trader Vic utilized a lot and that I described in a bit more depth here; moreover, a Torturga riff I wrote about called the Isla Tortuga also opted for that combination. Finally, Dan dubbed his libation the Langosta after the Spanish word for "lobster."
The Langosta proffered smoke overlying bright orange oils and other fruit notes to the nose. Next, lime, pineapple, and grape on the sip led into mezcal and pineapple on the swallow with a bitter chocolate finish.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

singapore sling

2 oz Pineapple Juice
1 1/2 oz Plymouth Gin (Beefeater)
1/2 oz Cherry Heering
1/2 oz Grenadine
1/4 oz Cointreau
1/4 oz Benedictine
1/4 oz Lime Juice
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Shake with ice, strain into a Collins glass filled with ice (wine glass without ice), and garnish with a cherry and a pineapple slice (omit garnish).

Two Saturdays ago, I decided to make the Singapore Sling for the blog. It was a drink I frequently made a few months ago as it was one of the two dozen or so gin classics on the menu at Our Fathers; in fact, one thing I did to speed up the process was making "Sling Juice" that was a one ounce dispense of the three liqueurs from a cheater bottle. The recipe that I utilized here was the one from the PDT Cocktail Book; the one at Our Fathers was similar save for the gin call and only a quarter ounce of grenadine. Moreover, I opted here for a fashion closer to the way we served it at the bar which was in a cocktail coupe sans garnish. While the Singapore Sling was perhaps created around or before 1915 at the Raffles Hotel by bartender Ngiam Tong Boon, the recipe above is a more modern one. Moreover, the recipes for this drink vary greatly in the literature.

To get at the heart of the matter, I went back to my notes from Tales of the Cocktail 2016 to a talk by Jared Brown entitled, "The Life & Times of the Singapore Sling." Singapore is a one city country in the East India Isle chain near Vietnam. The various islands there all adopted Slings as a popular drink type. Sir Stanford Raffles worked for the East India Trading Company in the 19th century, and he selected Singapore to settle down since it was not occupied by the Dutch like many of the other islands. The hotel itself opened for business in 1887.

Slings have a long history with one of the earliest mentions being in 1759 from the History of Sweden where it noted that "Long-sup or sling was one half water and one half rum with sugar in it to taste." In 1862, Jerry Thomas defined the Gin Sling as the same as the Gin Toddy except a little nutmeg is grated on the top. So with sugar, water, gin, and ice, the Gin Sling appeared to have been derived from Punch with the citrus and spice dropped from the roster (the nutmeg garnish could be considered a spice in a way). By the turn of the 20th century, the drink was so common that there was a dedicated glass -- an article in 1903 mentioned a "Gin Sling glass" in Borneo. Around 1908 is when the Gin Sling is speculated to have arrived in Singapore, and the first recipe for a Gin Sling there was recorded in 1913 with a description of "They walked into the S.C.C. [Singapore Cricket Club] and ordered one cherry brandy, one D.O.M. [Benedictine], one gin, one lime juice, some ice, water, and a few dashes of bitters." The bartenders apparently would not mix it for them, so the guests chose to assemble the drink for themselves.

Ngiam Tong Boon started bartending in the late 1890s before retiring shortly before his death in 1918. He is believed to have created the Singapore Sling around 1915, but not the Singapore Sling recipe that is served today at the Raffles Hotel. Moreover, attribution of the drink occurred several decades after his death, so it may be inaccurate (see the Wondrich hoax link below where a recipe was found in a hotel safe). Around that time in the 1910s, a dozen bars in Singapore were making Gin Slings and half of those had a drink called the Singapore Sling. The Straits Hotel has a famous Straits Sling of gin, cherry brandy, Benedictine, Angostura Bitters, and orange bitters, and other places were making their pinkish Slings with sloe gin or claret in place of the cherry brandy. Jared surmised that Boon made the best one of these Singapore Slings which is why it survived and got famous.

During the 1930s and 1940s, the Savoy Cocktail Book, Café Royal Cocktail Book, Stork Club, and Trader Vic's Bartender's Guide all published recipes, and Jared suggested that the Stork Club's was the closest. In tracing the drink recipe's history, the 1960s saw recipes that included orange liqueur as well as the orange-cherry garnish. And by the 1970s, pineapple juice had entered the equation along with gin, the three liqueurs, lime juice, and Angostura Bitters. Jared's history did not mention when grenadine appeared, but David Wondrich at a 2017 Tales of the Cocktail talk on "Great Hoaxes of Cocktail History discussed the financial desire to make the drink more affordable to produce. The drink had always been pink, so perhaps grenadine replaced some of the cherry liqueur as a cost saving measure along with the extra juices not found in the early recipes.
So the bottom line is that the original sling was probably closer to the Raffles Hotel Sling (here is a rum riff of it from the 1970s). As prepared in this more modern way, the Singapore Sling yielded pineapple, cherry, and clove aromas that later yielded gin notes to the nose as it warmed up. Next, creamy pineapple and vague fruit notes played on the sip, and the swallow offered gin, cherry, and pineapple flavors with an herbal finish.

As I curious side note, I was reminded of a 2009 recipe for a Shanghai Sling that I created as a Raffles Hotel Sling that swapped Chinese 5 spice syrup for the Benedictine.

Friday, May 18, 2018

library card

1 1/2 oz Scotch (1 1/4 oz Famous Grouse + 1/4 oz Laphroaig 10 Year)
1/2 oz Bonal (or other) Quinquina
1/2 oz Cynar
1/2 oz Apricot Liqueur (Rothman & Winter)

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with an orange twist.

Two Friday nights ago, I was reminded of the great flavor combination of dark amari (like Cynar and Averna) and apricot, and it made me think about the Mulberry Bend and other recipes where it worked well. Given how my blended Scotch at home, Famous Grouse, has an apricot undertone perhaps from the Glenrothes single malt in the recipe, Scotch seemed to be a direction. To fill out the recipe, I kept with my quinquina kick, but decided to give Bonal some love over Byrrh. For a name, I had the blended Scotch brand Bank Note in my head and it made me think of the the 1970s era checkout card at the back of the retired library book on Scotch that I bought used; therefore, I went with the Library Card.
The Library Card shared peat smoke brightened by orange oils on the nose. Next, malt, grape, and a fruitiness from the apricot brandy on the sip gave way to smoky whisky and bitter apricot on the swallow with an orange-apricot and quinine finish.