Saturday, January 31, 2015

gin cobbler

1 1/2 oz Ford's Gin
1 oz Lustau Amontillado Sherry
1/4 oz Grade B Maple Syrup
1/4 oz Allspice Dram

Build in a Highball glass (or Julep-like cup), fill with crushed ice, and add a straw. Float 1/4 oz Giffard Apricot Liqueur (*), garnish with a dried apricot, and spritz clove essence over the top (most likely something akin to the clove-infused rum used in the Model T at their sister establishment Backbar).
(*) This float sank, so perhaps mixing it in with the rest of the ingredients would work better.

For a second drink at Ames Street Deli, I asked bartender Rob Hoover for their Gin Cobbler as the combination of nutty sherry and apricot liqueur work rather well together. Moreover, sherry and maple syrup partner splendidly too such as in the Midtown and French Toast Flip.
Once built, the Gin Cobbler offered a clove-driven aroma. The grape and maple filled the sip, while the first few swallows were all about the apricot. One of the problems here was that the apricot float sank due to its high density, and it did not help that the liqueur was more flavored than say Rothman & Winter; see my note in the instructions about incorporating this flavor better. Midway through the drink, the swallow began to present juniper and allspice notes and darker flavors from the maple and sherry; finally, the clove spice reared itself as a flavor at the very end in a way that worked well in conjunction with the allspice dram.

Friday, January 30, 2015

zig zag wanderer

1 3/4 oz Fidencio Clasico Mezcal
3/4 oz Averna
1/2 oz Aveze Gentiane Liqueur
1/8 oz Tempus Fugit Creme de Cacao

Stir with ice and strain into a coupe glass.

A few Tuesdays ago, I paid another visit to the Ames Street Deli after one of my day shifts. Working that night were Rob Hoover and Schuyler Hunton, and for a first drink, I asked Rob for the Zig Zag Wanderer. I inquired if the drink was created by a bartender from Seattle who spent time at the Zig Zag where Murray Stenson used to work. Rob informed me that this was Nate's recipe and that he was not in fact from Seattle; however, the drink was named after a Captain Beefheart Song. Nate felt that the recipe was all over the place with the ingredients and it happened to be the anniversary of Captain Beefheart's death, so he dubbed this wandering drink in tribute. The Captain Beefheart aspect reminded me of Ashtray Heart, Erik Ellestad's own tribute that appears in Beta Cocktails.
The Zig Zag Wanderer began with a smoky mezcal nose with dark notes from a mix of caramel, herbal, and chocolate elements. A light caramel sip gave way to agave flavors and earthy bitterness on the swallow. Finally, the swallow finished with gentle chocolate, smoke, and vanilla flavors.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

sherry colada

1 1/2 oz Palo Cortado Sherry (*)
3/4 oz Manzanilla Sherry
1/4 oz Amontillado Sherry
3/4 oz Pineapple Juice
1 oz Housemade Coconut Cream
3/4 oz Lemon Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a Collins glass. Fill with crushed ice, garnish with two cherries on a pick, and add a straw.
(*) Other dry sherry ratios and identities will work in place of this 2 1/2 oz house sherry blend.

For a second drink at the Baldwin Room at Sichuan Garden II, I asked bartender Joel Atlas for the Sherry Colada that Ran mentioned had just come off of the menu. Luckily, they still had enough of their house sherry blend and housemade coconut cream left to make my drink. I was definitely excited to see another entry into the sherry Tiki tapestry with this Piña Colada to add to my collection of Sherry Mai Tai, Sherry Jungle Bird, and Royal Cadiz (was Bermuda) Yacht Club.
Once prepared, the Sherry Colada donated a cherry aroma from the garnish that accented the drink's pineapple bouquet. The sip was at first lemon and pineapple but became more coconut-tinged over time. Next, the nutty oxidized sherry notes on the swallow complemented the coconut flavors quite well. Indeed, other sherry mixes would work here, but having some nuttiness in the blend would be a boon to the drink's flavor profile.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

thief of my heart

1 oz Great King Street Scotch
1/2 oz Hamilton's Black Strap Rum
3/4 oz Amaro Sibona (*)
3/4 oz Byrrh Quinquina
2 dash Fee's Rhubard Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a rocks glass. Twist a lemon peel over the top.
(*) Sub Amaro Nardini in a pinch (see text below).

Two Sundays ago, we made the pilgrimage north to have dinner at the Baldwin Room at Sichuan Garden II. Working the bar that night were Ran Duan and Joel Atlas, and for a first cocktail, I asked Ran for the Thief of My Heart. While I was familiar with a few of Ed Hamilton's new rum line, I had not tried his black strap rum; compared to Cruzan, this one sang with funky rum elegance and complex molasses notes. I was also curious about the Amaro Sibona. Ran described how it was like Amaro Nardini but half the price; overall, it tasted similar to me but a little bit more menthol though.
The lemon oil on the Thief of My Heart brightened the black strap rum's molasses and funk aromas. The sip shared the rum and amaro's caramel, the quinquina's grape, and the Scotch's malt. And the swallow was complex with smoky Scotch, rum funk, and menthol-tinged herbal notes; as the drink warmed up, the quinine from the Byrrh became more evident on the finish.

Monday, January 26, 2015

east india trading co.

2 oz Appleton Estate Reserve Rum
3/4 oz Lustau East India Solera Sherry
1/2 oz Ramazzotti Amaro
2 dash Bittermens Mole Bitters (Homemade Chocolate Bitters)

Stir with ice and strain into a coupe glass.
Two Saturdays ago, I delved into the Death & Co. Cocktail Book and spotted the East India Trading Company. While little or no relation to the classic East India (House) Cocktail, this one was Brian Miller's 2009 creation that was probably named after the sherry, Lustau's rather balanced and mixable East India Solera Sherry. Once prepared, the East India Trading Co. gave forth a caramel rum and dark orange aroma. The caramel continued on into the sip where it mingled with the sherry's grape flavors. Next, the swallow presented the rum and Ramazzotti's dark bitter notes on the swallow with a chocolate and anise finish from the bitters.

Friday, January 23, 2015


2/3 Dry Gin (1 oz Beefeater Summer)
2 dash Sweet Vermouth (1 oz Cocchi)
2 dash Creme de Cassis (1 bsp G.E. Massenez)
1 dash Orange Bitters (Regan's)

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. I added an orange twist.

After the Tequila Zoom, I stuck with the cocktail time era and reached for Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars: 1903-1933 to find another quirky original. There, I spotted the Marblehead which I envisioned as a Martinez with cassis instead of Maraschino as the liqueur. Thus, I opted for a Martinez-like structure and made it more sweet vermouth forward. In picking a gin, I wanted to focus on the black currant notes and selected Beefeater Summer since the fruit is in the botanical mix (despite it being anything close to summer here).
The Marblehead offered a grape aroma lightened by the orange oil. The grape flowed on into the sip where it was complemented by a bright berry note from the cassis. Next, the cassis continued on into the swallow along with the gin, but the cassis here was a darker currant flavor that added a tart and bitter component to the finish.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

tequila zoom

1 drink Spirit (2 oz Piedra Azul Tequila) (*)
1 tsp Honey, dissolve in Boiling Water (2 tsp 1:1 Honey Syrup)
1 tsp Cream (1 tsp Half & Half)

Shake with ice and strain into a small wine glass.
(*) Original read Bacardi with the next option being brandy, gin, or whiskey.

Several months ago when Erick Castro was plotting out the Boiler Maker menu, he asked on Facebook about the Zoom and its origins. I replied that it was in Frank Meier's 1934 The Artistry Of Mixing Drinks and provided the information within. I remembered the drink's location because the Zoom was quite quizzical in that it appears like an orphan drink class that I do not recall seeing before or after that in the classic literature. I looked past it since honey and cream added to a spirit seemed rather basic, but if Erick was asking about it, perhaps it required a deeper look? I later found it in Difford's Guide as a Cognac drink with a higher amount of cream and honey with milk also in the mix as well as a chocolate powder dusting (bringing it closer to an Alexander especially with the option of adding crème de cacao). Forget about the modern and heavily modified recipe, and let's look at the 1930's Zoom.
For a spirit, I opted for tequila even though the main recipe in the book was for Bacardi that was made "special for Comte Jean de Limur" (a French film star and director most famous for his work in the 1930s). The secondary recipe recommended brandy, gin, or whiskey. With so much spiritous leeway, I figured that my hankering for tequila was within the realm. Once mixed, the Tequila Zoom shared an agave aroma with floral notes from the honey. A sweet, creamy, and smooth sip led into an herbal and spice tequila swallow. Indeed, the combination of honey and cream certainly brought out the earthiness of the tequila. I thought that the drink could also gain some complexity with a dash of bitters. When I posted the drink on Instagram, Tenzin Samdo (bartender at Trade) replied to the bitters part with a suggestion of Bittermens Mole Bitters. I agreed (although my initial thought was basic Angostura), and now I realize that chocolate bitters is the same flavor suggestion that the Difford's Guide recommends.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

blue peter

The theme for this month's Mixology Monday (MxMo XCIII) was picked by Andrea of the Ginhound blog. The theme she chose was "Blue" which seemed like a fun lead-in to drinks that could break up the winter doldrums and be a good foreword to February's Tiki month celebrated by the Pegu Blog and others. Andrea elaborated on the concept by describing, "January needs a bit of color -- or perhaps the month after all the holiday mania makes you Either way this month' Mixology Monday is a chance to live those emotions out. You can dazzle us with a brilliant blue drink or you can share that blue feeling with a melancholic drink. Blue has been predicted as a new cocktail trend several times in recent years... But any mixer of blue drinks is faced with a bit of a dilemma as there is nothing 'natural' about E133 -- the most common of blue food colors: Do I really want to mix chemicals into my prefect mixture of fresh juices and good booze? Feel free to interpret blue as freely as you wish -- if natural is the way you want to go blueberries, violets, cornflower or red cabbage could be good ingredients to work with."
According to this history of blue curaçao, the origins are a little confusing but many point to Bols who created their version in the 1920s while others point to Senior Curaçao of Curaçao. Both still produce their formulations today. While liqueurs have had artificial colorants for quite a while, the blue cordial trend seemed to gain steam along with pre-bottled sour mixes and the like. True, these liqueurs are fake in color, but real in the fun and frivolity that they can deliver. Instead of taking the Tiki route with something festive like the Blue Hawaiian or the Blue Marlin, I opted to take blue drinks to the earliest roots that I know of in the cocktail world, namely, 1937's Café Royal Cocktail Book. While I have made a few blue drinks (and one green one, the Green Line using blue food coloring and other ingredients) from that book, it was still easy to find something new and intriguing.
Blue Peter
• 1/4 Blue Curaçao (1 oz clear Senior Curaçao + 1 drop blue food coloring)
• 1/4 Booth's Gin (1 oz Hayman's Royal Dock)
• 1/4 Lillet (1 oz Cocchi Americano)
• 1/4 Orange Juice (1 oz Cara Cara)
Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. I added an orange twist.
The one that caught my eye was the Blue Peter that lay somewhere between a Corpse Reviver #2 and an Abbey Cocktail. The recipe was attributed to G. Munro who also crafted the Dee Don and Georgia drinks sans any blueness. Once mixed, the Blue Peter shared an orange and juniper aroma. The sip offered a complex orange flavor on top of the wine from the Cocchi Americano, and the swallow continued on with bitter orange notes as well as the gin botanicals. I opted for navy strength gin to dry out the drink since there was no lemon juice or bitters in the mix; perhaps a more juniper-forward gin might have done better here though for my palate to donate some additional herbal complexity. Dagreb commented on my Instagram post that he is suspicious of any time orange juice and orange liqueur are combined. I definitely agree, and the idea made me think that maybe I should have used tart Seville oranges with their lemon-like acidity that Stephen Shellenberger introduced me to.

Also, go see my companion post on the MocktailVirgin blog with a riff of the Blue Lady dubbed the Blue Girl from the same Café Royal Cocktail Book.

So thank you to Andrea for picking the theme and running this month's show, and thanks to the rest of the Mixology Monday participants for keeping the shakers shaking and the spirit of the event alive!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015


1 1/2 oz Old Monk Rum
1/2 oz Kahlua Coffee Liqueur
1 oz Punt e Mes
1 barspoon Allspice Dram
1 dash Bittermens Mole Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a coupe glass. Flame an orange twist over the top.

A few Mondays ago, we trekked over to Audobon for dinner. For a first cocktail, I asked bartender Taylor Knight for the 1919'36 that was on their drink of the week board. Bar manager Tyler Wang later came by and explained how the cocktail was a riff on the 1919 from Drink that included Kahlua coffee liqueur (which was first produced in 1936) in the mix.
The 1919'36 presented orange and coffee aromas with another darker note from either the Old Monk Rum or the Punt e Mes. A grape and caramel sip gave way to a dark rum, coffee, Punt e Mes' bitter, vanilla, and allspice swallow. Overall, the drink had a similar feel and structure to the original 1919, but it was more flavor forward with the coffee liqueur and spice opposed to subtle and complex with the rye and Benedictine.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

18th century

1 1/2 oz Batavia Arrack Van Oosten
3/4 oz Marie Brizard White Crème de Cacao
3/4 oz Carpano Antica (Cocchi Sweet Vermouth)
3/4 oz Lime Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail coupe.

A few Saturdays ago, I opened up the Death & Co. Cocktail Book and happened upon the 18th Century. The recipe was Phil Ward's variation on the classic 20th Century as his "love letter to Batavia Arrack." Until the book was published, I was unaware of this Death & Co. variation and only had known their 19th Century, his barmate Brian Miller's whiskey-based variation of said vintage drink from 1937.
The 18th Century began with funk notes from the Batavia Arrack and hints of cacao. A lime sip with a touch of grape led into a swallow where the Batavia Arrack was smoothed over by the chocolate liqueur. Overall, the 18th Century reminded me of a Floridita with a different rum-like spirit but devoid of grenadine in the mix.

Friday, January 16, 2015

trinidad & toboggan

3/4 oz Angostura Bitters
1/2 oz Braulio Amaro
1/4 oz Smith & Cross Rum
3/4 oz Orgeat
3/4 oz Lemon Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with grated nutmeg.

For a next drink, I requested the Trinidad & Toboggan from bartender Look Theres which was subtitled on the menu as "see what we did there? drink lots of Angostura bitters with winter flavors!" Fortuitously, it was bartender Look's creation, and he explained how the drink came about. One night, he had a guest who was amazed with the Angostura Bitters-heavy Trinidad Sour and also interested in Amaro Braulio. Look threw the two together and was pleased with the first pass results; it did require a touch of tinkering, and the improved version is what appears on the menu right now.
The freshly grated nutmeg garnish paid dividends on the aroma front. The sip was lemon and caramel with hints of orgeat, and surprisingly, the swallow was only gently herbal (instead of and relative to the blast I was expecting) soothed by the nutty orgeat.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

improper scaffa

1 1/2 oz Pierre Ferrand Ambre Cognac
1/2 oz Cardamaro
1/2 oz St. George Spiced Pear Liqueur
1/2 oz Maraschino Liqueur
1/2 oz Water
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Build in a rocks glass and stir briefly without ice to mix. Note: This is a room temperature cocktail.

Two Fridays ago, I ventured down to Backbar after my shift. For a first drink, I asked bartender Look Theres for the Improper Scaffa off of their menu's Tradesman section. Look attributed the recipe to bar manager Sam Treadway with help, suggestions, and tweaks provided by other members of the Backbar staff. Bartender Melinda Maddox later came by and explained the drink name and concept. First, it is not a Scaffa, but an improper one, since Scaffas do not contain a water component such as the one included here. Second, Scaffas are improper cocktails, since cocktails require at a minimum spirit, sugar, water (which can include ice melt during mixing), and bitters. Backbar also utilized a similar concept in their Missing Link room temperature libation.
The Improper Scaffa began with a brandy and pear aroma with hints of nutty cherry from the Maraschino liqueur. The sip was viscous in mouthfeel but not sweet since the spirits' heat helped to neutralize the sugar content's effects; moreover, the sip shared vague fruit notes. Finally, the swallow presented the majority of the fruit flavors by way of a combination of pear and Maraschino with an allspice, clove, and cinnamon-tinged finish.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

turn signal

1 oz High Proof Bourbon (Fighting Cock 103)
1 oz Grapefruit Juice (freshly squeezed Ruby Red)
1/2 oz Campari
1/2 oz Raspberry Gomme Syrup (Royal Rose Raspberry Syrup)

Shake with ice and strain into an ice-filled rocks glass. Garnish with an orange twist.
A few Tuesdays ago, I decided to make a drink that I spotted in the January/February issue of Imbibe Magazine called the Turn Signal. The recipe was attributed to Sean Hoard and Daniel Shoemaker of Portland, Oregon's Commissary, a juicing and syrup-making company founded by that duo who also have roots at the Teardrop Lounge. The combination of overproof Bourbon, Campari, and raspberry reminded me of Russell House Tavern's offering for Negroni Week, namely Sam Gabrielli's The Palazzo:
The Palazzo
• 1 oz Beefeater Gin
• 1 oz Campari
• 1/2 oz St. George's Raspberry Liqueur
• 1/2 oz Booker's Bourbon
Stir with ice and strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with an orange twist.
Once prepared, the Turn Signal shared an orange and grapefruit aroma. On the sip, the raspberry and grapefruit flavors mingled, while on the swallow, the Bourbon's barrel notes paired well with Campari's bitter orange flavors. Overall, the bitter bite of Campari complemented the tartness of the raspberry in the syrup rather elegantly.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

luna de cosecha

1 1/2 oz Espolon Añejo Tequila (Reposado)
3/4 oz Cocchi Sweet Vermouth
1/4 oz Cynar
1/4 oz Creme de Cacao (Marie Brizard)

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail coupe. Garnish with a cherry.
After the Twin Six Cocktail, I decided to make a recipe that I spotted in the most recent issue of Chilled Magazine called the Luna de Cosecha. The drink was created by Justin Noel of 1534 in New York, and it seemed worthy of making since both Cynar and crème de cacao partner so well with tequila. However, I had not had them both paired with agave in the same drink; in fact, the only drink that combined forces of Cynar and crème de cacao that I can recall was Colin Shearn's Transatlantic Giant with rum and whiskey as the base. Once prepared, the Luna de Cocecha proffered tequila and cacao aromas. A grape like sip led into an agave swallow with a minty, chocolate finish.

Monday, January 12, 2015

twin six cocktail

1 jigger El Bart Gin (1 1/2 oz Tanqueray)
1/2 jigger Sweet Vermouth (3/4 oz Cocchi)
1 dash Grenadine (1/2 oz)
3 slice Orange
1 Egg White

Shake with ice and strain into a wine glass (a coupe glass with an orange twist).

Two Mondays ago, I began the cocktail hour by reaching for one of my older books, a reprint of Hugo Ensslin's 1916 Recipes for Mixed Drinks. There, I spotted the Twin Six Cocktail and was lured in by the orange slices in the shake as Sam Ross later did with his Too Soon?. The drink name most likely refers to the Packard Twin Six line of American luxury cars that were launched around the time the book was written, and the car also inspired the Packard Twins as found in the 1934 Angostura Recipes book. The Twin Six Cocktail once it hit the 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book dropped the orange slices in the shake to regular orange juice though.
Once shaken and strained, the Twin Six Cocktail presented a bright orange aroma from the twist. A creamy sip shared candied orange flavors and almost berry-like aspect from the combination of vermouth and grenadine. Finally, the gin and bitter orange peel notes on the swallow were somewhat reminiscent of Campari.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

night owl

2 oz Pierre Ferrand Ambre Cognac (Foret Brandy)
1/2 oz Punt e Mes
1/2 oz Lustau East India Solera Sherry
1/4 oz Batavia Arrack

Stir with ice and strain into a coupe glass.

After the Betty Carter, I turned to the Death & Co. Cocktail Book and spotted the Night Owl. The recipe was crafted by Alex Day in 2009 as a Manhattan riff that utilizes a touch of Batavia Arrack for complexity all without making it too funky. I think that I was drawn in by the combination of sherry and Punt e Mes to back the brandy base, and it seemed like the right time of the night to have a Manhattan-like drink.
Once mixed, the Night Owl presented a raisiny grape aroma that preceded the grape sip. Next, the swallow began with the brandy flavors and continued on to Punt e Mes' bitter notes and a funky and drying Batavia Arrack finish.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

betty carter

1 1/2 oz Buffalo Trace Bourbon (Bulleit)
3/4 oz Pedro Ximenez Sherry (Lustau)
1/2 oz Amaro Nonino (Averna)
3/4 oz Lemon Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a coupe glass.

Two Fridays ago, I turned to Talia Baiocchi's Sherry book for a recipe to begin the cocktail hour. The one that caught my eye was created by Natasha David and Jeremy Oertel for the drink list at Berlyn in Brooklyn (which is where one of my old coworkers Caleb Linton, the one that created the Poppin' Tags, works, and apparently one of David Wondrich's favorite hangouts in the City). Their drink, the Betty Carter, is their tribute to the American jazz singer as a Whiskey Sour variation. The two put the amaro in the mix to span the low notes of the sherry and Bourbon and the high notes of the lemon juice.
The Betty Carter proffered a raisiny aroma from the sherry that was brightened by the citrus notes. Next, a crisp caramel and raisin sip gave way to a tart whiskey swallow replete with herbal notes.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

[sagarno scaffa]

1 oz Daron Calvados
1 oz Amontillado Sherry
3/4 oz Strega
1/4 oz Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur

Build in a cocktail glass without ice, and stir to mix. Twist a lemon peel over the top. Note: this is a room temperature cocktail.
For a second drink at Estragon, I spotted a room temperature recipe on Sahil Mehta's Instagram that was his drink of the day on December 8th. With apple brandy, nutty sherry, and spiced and herbal liqueurs in the mix, I was definitely game to try this Scaffa. Once built, it showcased apple, ginger, and spice aromas at first, and later it gave forth more lemon and grape notes. The apple and grape continued on into the sip, and the swallow began with Strega's herbal offerings and ended with a ginger finish. Still lacking a name, I dubbed this one the Sagarno Scaffa to pay tribute to the Basque country's long history of making delicious apple ciders. Sagarno literally means "apple wine" which seems fitting here since the drink contains an apple distillate and a fortified wine.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

little sinner

2 oz Amontillado Sherry
1 1/2 oz Bonal Quinquina
1/2 oz Avèze Gentiane Liqueur
2 dash Orange Bitters
1 pinch Salt

Stir with ice and strain into a rocks glass pre-rinsed with absinthe. Garnish with an orange twist.
A few Mondays ago, we made our way down to the South End to have dinner at Estragon. For a first drink, I skimmed bartender Sahil Mehta's drink note book, and spotted the Little Sinner that was his drink of the day towards the end of November. Once mixed, the Little Sinner presented an orange, grape, and absinthe aroma. The grape continued on into the sip, and this was followed by a nutty swallow and an earthy finish with soft lingering gentian notes. The coldness and pinch of salt helped to mellow the flavors here, and as it warmed up, the bitter aspects of Bonal and Avèze that I find so alluring began to increase. Overall, the Little Sinner worked rather well as an aperitif.

Monday, January 5, 2015

pineapple project

1 oz Pineapple Juice
1/2 oz Green Chartreuse
1/2 oz Yellow Chartreuse
1/2 oz Laphroaig 10 Year Scotch
1/4 oz Maraschino Liqueur
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1 dash Absinthe

Shake with ice and strain into a coupe glass.

A few Tuesdays ago, I made my way to Ames Street Deli where I asked for the Pineapple Project from the menu. Bar manager Joe Cammarata attributed the recipe to Kyle Powell at Russell House Tavern which was his spin on the neo-classic Laphroaig Project from Bourbon & Branch. Kyle and Joe later worked together at Backbar where this drink appeared as a drink of the day. The drink was originally made with Russell House Tavern's peach bitters; since they lacked those, they honed in on the anise notes in the bitters and opted for absinthe as a substitute.
The Pineapple Project began with a smoky, pineapple, and herbal aroma. The sip was rather fruity from the lemon and pineapple juices, and the swallow shared smoky, fruity, and herbal flavors.

Friday, January 2, 2015

:: fred's picks for the top cocktails of 2014 (in) ::

I will complete my fifth annual trilogy of year end wrap up posts by picking out the best recipes we tried at our home bar this year. I used to also tack on the best of my own creations at the end of the post, but I think I covered that in the first part of the trilogy. Thus, this list is dedicated to the best recipes created by bartenders, living, deceased, and unknown, from around the world all brought to me at my home bar (where pants are optional).

January: The top two drinks of the month were Dee Allen's Bitter Stripper, a White Negroni variation from Gaz Regan's Negroni book, and Brian Summers' Chicago Typewriter, a Genever and rye tribute to the Thompson submachine gun that I spotted on the Bols Bartending Facebook page.

February: The month's nod goes to a drink that pre-dated the name for the Vodka Martini also known as the Kangaroo. This Kangaroo from Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars: 1903-1933 is like a gussied up Puritan. For runner up, Erik Carlson's Primrose Hill (pictured below) that I spotted in Imbibe Magazine was a solid Martini variation that had aspects of the Martinez and Hanky Panky playing out (with dry vermouth instead of sweet though).
March: My mind returns to the West Indies Punch that I found in Trader Vic's Book of Food & Drink; guava paste brought out aspects of Jerry Thomas' Barbados Punch, and green tea and Madeira did no harm here either. For second nod, the sherry Negroni riff the Haberdasher from Josh Harris and Scott Baird as appears in The Art of the Shim book. Also for second nod, the quirky and intense Louis Special from 1940's The How and When equal parts the gin, Chartreuse, and Benedictine in a very modern style.

April: The hands down recipe for April is Meaghan Montagano's Persephone that I spotted on the ShakeStir website; it possessed a sparkling Seelbach-Lucien Gaudin sort of magic.

May: I went classic with my top choice of the month with the Fedora that sporadically gets ordered at work. Since I have never made one of these Sidecars with the brandy split with Jamaican rum and Bourbon for the blog, I went ahead and merged recipes from Harry Johnson's 1882 New and Improved Bartender's Manual and Stan Jones' Complete Barguide. Runner up was a sadly unattributed recipe from 75th Anniversary Edition of Mr. Boston called Count Camillo's Paloma (pictured below) -- yes, a tequila Negroni lightened with grapefruit soda!
June: A tough two to pick a winner, but the Bone Machine from Jeff Lyon via made for an elegant Manhattan variation with sherry and a pair of herbal liqueurs as accents. For a runner up in this tight race, Doff Your Hat from David Willhite via 75th Anniversary Edition of Mr. Boston combines genever, Cynar, and Grand Marnier rather well.

July: The nod for July goes to the Seelbach variation, Handbook for the Recently Deceased, created by Timothy Miner that I spotted on the OnTheBar app; the drink's name and movie allusion does not hurt its standing either. For second tier awards, Roman Milotivy's Visionary Cocktail from World's Best Cocktails was rather good with my gin-for-vodka substitution, but it might have taken the lead for July with a dark rum sub instead.

August: Another tough month to narrow winners down, but in the end the Lizard King from Carlos Garcia and CM Almeida via the OnTheBar app had alluring funky notes in Tiki format. For runners up, there was the more classic feeling Autumn Leaves, a Jeffrey Morganthaler recipe I spotted in the 75th Anniversary Edition of Mr. Boston , and the modern eccentric riff Haji Sling (pictured below), Ian Loh's Angostura-heavy Singapore Sling variation from Gary Regan's 101 Best New Cocktails.
September: Two Tiki recipes got my attention this month. The winner was The Valdez from Parker Girard via the OnTheBar app that he describes as a cross between a Daiquiri, Jungle Bird, and Corn and Oil. Second nod goes to a classic Tiki from Beachbum Berry's Potions of the Caribbean, namely Joe Scialom's Sol y Sombra from 1957.

October: For top dog of October, I picked Amanda Elder's Midnight Matinee from this year's Vinos de Jerez Cocktail Competition due to its elegance and flavor complexity. For runners up, there was Eryn Reece's Broken Oath from the Death & Co. Cocktail Book with more sherry love -- this time with mezcal and espresso liqueur. And there was the Kentucky Island (pictured below), a Bourbon tiki number from Sanctuaria, the Dive Bar of Cocktail Bars book.
November: A quirky drink from Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars: 1903-1933 called the Chauncy Depew caught my attention; the best way to describe it is a sherry Japanese! With the right nutty sherry-orgeat pairing, the idea is more solid than the Japanese Cocktail itself. The runner up for November stuck with the fortified wine idea with the Vermouth Cocktail from The Only William's 1891 The Flowing Bowl.

December: Tied for drink of the month are Erick Castro's hot toddy Boulevardier riff, the Babbo's Toddy via his Instagram, and Leo Robitschek's agave-sherry drink, the Repossession via Talia Baiocchi's Sherry book. For a secondary nod approval, I picked Theo Lieberman's Third Bird via the Amaro Montenegro Facebook page; this Tiki libation riffed on the Jungle Bird but added cacao and utilized a less bitter amaro in the mix.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

:: fred's picks for the top cocktails of 2014 (out) ::

In December 2010, someone asked me the difficult question of what was my favorite cocktail of the year, and I was a little lost for words for there were so many. In working out a post for this, I decided to sort it out by dividing the list down by month and also by whether I had them out at a bar or in at home. My choices were influenced by two factors -- tastiness and uniqueness; it had to be both memorable and worth repeating. The drinks were organized by when the drink post appeared and not when they were had. Here is the fifth yearly installment with my monthly breakdown for drinks I had out on the town for 2014 with a runner up or two listed. If I had to pick recurrent themes, fortified and aromatized wines like sherry and Pineau des Charentes were rather big, as were Swedish Punsch, Tiki, lower proof aperitif-style drinks, and Manhattan variations.

January: For the best drink out, I will go with Barrel House in Beverly's Cooper; the combination of Pineau de Charentes and Averna made for an excellent complement to rye in this Manhattan variant. For runner up, the nod goes to another Pineau de Charentes drink, the Pinky Ring from Kirkland Tap & Trotter. While it was described as reminiscent of a Chrysanthemum, it looks more like a Pineau de Charentes-based Puritan.

February: My nod for February goes to a simple but elegant number with a strange name of numbers, the 11+2/12+1 at the Citizen Public House. Two ingredients that balance each other so well plus bitters and a twist; the post explains the bizarre name. For runners up, I was torn between the subtleties of the Hawthorne's Cardo Bendito's lightly herbal tequila Manhattan of sorts and Estragon's sherry Tiki, the Fangataufa.
March: A Swizzle with Madeira and Campari caught my attention for March, namely Brick & Mortar's Red Duster Swizzle (pictured above). For runner up, I chose another Campari libation, Eastern Standard's Mela Rose which smooths out the bitter Campari with egg white and fruit notes.

April: I narrowed the month down to three contenders, and I selected the Laughing Boy at Deep Ellum; Fernet and Meletti pair well together here and are softened over time with salt done Little Giuseppe style. For runners up, I chose a pair of Swedish Punsch drinks. Merrill & Co.'s Battle Over Dutch worked the punsch between sherry and cacao notes, and Russell House Tavern's Poppin' Tags worked the punsch into a Negroni-Americano hybrid of sorts.

May: My pick for May was also Tales of the Cocktail's pick for the year, Backbar's Hurricane Caesar; the drink prospered from the Campari-passion fruit pairing that integrated over time via a Campari float. The choice for runner up was tougher with Kirkland Tap & Trotter bringing a Tiki-Rum Corpse Reviver #2 mashup called the Tidbit.
June: Another challenging month to pick a winner, but Fairsted Kitchen's Giuseppe's Lady (pictured above) elegantly merged a a Little Giuseppe and a Pink Lady. The secondary honors go to the Baldwin Room at Sichuan Garden II with a tropical take on the Room With A View called the Mother of Turin and to the Barrel House in Beverly's equal parts number, Against the Strain.

July: Instead of choosing a winner, I'll give co-top honors to Sarma's riff on the Prizefighter called the Pugilist (pictured below) that successfully beats down Fernet Branca into an unsurly ingredient and to Estragon's complex and floral Hurricane-like Tempest.
August: The most notable drink of August was The Murder of Dutch Schultz at Stoddard's. This tribute to Murder, Inc. utilized sherry to great effect to tie together Genever and cacao-Curaçao flavors.

September: Torn between two for top pick. Estragon's Zaragoza paired Campari-cacao flavors that were de-bittered by a pinch of salt and Barrel House of Beverly's Manhattan variation the Killing Floor that vaguely reminded me of a Brooklyn minus the Maraschino. For runner up, another Negroni-Americano hybrid of sorts caught my taste buds, No. 9's Torino Retiree in a crushable summertime delivery.

October: My nod for October goes to a crafty room temperature cocktail at Backbar dubbed the Missing Link. As a second place for the month, I'm picking a Tiki drink that reminded me of a Mr. Bali Hai and a Pago Pago fused into one, Citizen Public House's Jungle Madness.
November: Honors for the month go to "Fall in a glass," also known as Alden & Harlow's Port of Call (pictured above) with apple, Madeira, and spice notes in the mix. For runners up, the quirky, earthy, and herbal Maximo Blue at Bronwyn and the Viale house Negroni riff, the Eldridge were notable.

December: Top honors for December go to the Baldwin Room at Sichuan Garden II with another drink that pairs passion fruit and Campari except here accented by yuzu in the Forbidden Fruit. The two runners up fall to the Independent's Rainy Dayz and West Bridge's Sinnerman.

So there are my 29 best drinks of 2014 that I had out spread out over 21 establishments across town. There were certainly ones that got edged out that I wish I could mention, but the scope of this post was kept tight (although not as tight as a top 12 would have been). I am looking forward to what 2015's list will bring. Cheers!