Monday, March 2, 2015


1 1/2 oz Del Maguey Mezcal Vida
1/2 oz Cherry Heering
1/2 oz Crème de Cacao (here, Caffè Borghetti)
1/2 oz Bittermens Mole Bitters
1 Whole Egg

Shake once without ice and once with ice. Strain into a rocks or similar glass. Garnish with grated nutmeg (here, omitted).
On the way home after West Bridge, I stopped into Trina's Starlite Lounge for a drink. There, I asked bartender Tony Iamunno for the #OSMC which stood for the "obligatory seasonal mixology cocktail." Mid-build, Tony realized that they were out of creme de cacao, so I suggested a coffee liqueur instead. Moments later, he could not find the nutmeg... Once fully mixed, the #OSMC began with a dark cherry aroma with a hint of smoke. A creamy cherry sip gave way to a smoky agave swallow with chocolate and coffee roasts on the finish.

Friday, February 27, 2015


The Cosmopolitan has been getting bashed a lot by modern mixologists as of late, and I have found myself defending it a bit more than expected. Sure, the 1980s drink got fame in the 1990s and made big splashes thanks to Madonna and Sex and the City. It is often touted as a chick drink as well. During my early bar years in the 1990s, the Kamikaze was still revered as a serious shot. Vodka, lime juice, and triple sec. So if you add a splash of cran to a Kamikaze, what do you get? True, it would be so much better as a gin drink, and that had already been done in the first few decades of the 20th century with the gin-based Cosmopolitan using raspberry syrup instead of cranberry. In fact, at a Milagro buy-out event, I asked the bartender for a tequila Cosmo perhaps with a hint of irony given that it was expected that I would request something highfalutin to stump the bartender. People looked at me funny until I explained that it was a Margarita with a dash of cranberry. The idea came to me after asking for a tequila Scofflaw since that whiskey classic was on their menu already, and I was thinking of other classics to tequila-ize.

Two days ago on Facebook, there was a thread where one bartender complained that, "Tonight a man told me, after ordering a Cosmo, that he 'truly hated' mine. And that it was 'undrinkable'." I commiserated and shared how someone once called my 3:1:1 Margarita at work the worst he had ever had. But the rest of the thread devolved into bashing the Cosmopolitan ranging from the drink itself to the people who order them as well as questioning their masculinity and class. It got me thinking about how the art form of a Daisy with a splash of tart and bitter cranberry juice could be elevated. My mind went straight for Fernet Branca for it works well in drinks containing triple sec and citrus such as the Ali-Frazier (which was inspired by the citrus-less Alcazer from the same book as the 1903-33 Cosmo). However, all that rosiness from the cranberry and brightness from the other ingredients would be drowned out by a sea of black or brown from the liqueur. But wait, what about Campari? It has worked well for drinks in Beta Cocktails, at the Anvil, and in my own experiments, so why not? I sent myself an email at 1:30 that day to remind myself to tinker with it at work during a slow moment over the next few days.
That night during my shift, CJ, one of the servers, had spoke highly of me to his table, and he came by to relay their question if I could make something with Campari as the base spirit. It just doesn't get any better timing than that! When the ticket for "Campari Up$ (Message: YARM)" came in, I set to work and whipped one up as a modification of my standard Cosmo (more lime and cranberry juice by a touch). It was still a bit bitter before I shook it, so I added a pinch of salt to cut that bitterness and bring out Campari's rich orange flavors that would complement the other citrus notes in the drink. Before I could get their opinion through the server, another ticket came in for "Campari Up$ (Message: YARM)" to the same table which answered my question. Apparently, one of the tablemates fancied it as well. That second one before I sent it out is pictured above. For a name, I opted for the Camparipolitan although the Cosmopari was a close second.
Camparipolitan (or Cosmopari?)
• 2 oz Campari
• 1 oz Triple Sec (Clement Creole Shrubb here)
• 1 oz Lime Juice
• 1/2 oz Cranberry Juice
• 1 pinch Salt
Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange twist. A home version of 1 1/2 : 3/4 : 3/4 : fat 1/4 : 1 pinch would work well too.
Yesterday, I made a mini version to get tasting notes. The orange twist at first contributed a lot of bright orange oil notes, but as those oils were sipped away, the nose became more orange peel driven over time. The sip was tart lime and orange, and a different orangeness, a darker more bitter one from the Campari, came through on the swallow along with the cranberry flavors. Finally, the drink ended with a slightly tart and bitter finish. Overall, it was like a Cosmo made with some extra citrussy vodka with some additional bitter herbal complexity.

The Daisy itself is such a strong base of a drink. I even tinkered with it for a recent Mixology Monday with the Double Daisy where I hybridized the Margarita and the Sidecar. Indeed, it is a family of drink that still makes people very happy and has a classic and elegant history and feel to it.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

lake union

1 1/4 oz Rittenhouse 100 Rye
3/4 oz Old Monk Rum
1/2 oz Cynar
1/2 oz Caffè Borghetti
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a rocks glass. Garnish with lemon oil.

Two Mondays ago, I ventured down to West Bridge after work. There, I was surprised when I spotted one of my old coworkers, Adam Palmer, behind the stick. For a first drink, I asked Adam for the Lake Union that he mentioned was Mike Fleming's creation. I was definitely curious to see how Cynar and coffee flavors would play out; despite it seemingly like such a natural pairing, I cannot recall a drink that did so. I do regret not finding out the secret to the name, but there is a famous Lake Union in the middle of Seattle, Washington, one of the coffee capitals of the country.
Once mixed, the Lake Union offered a bright lemon aroma that later shifted to darker notes from the rum and liqueurs. Next, a caramel-driven sip gave way to rye spice contrasting the dark rum and Cynar's herbal flavors on the swallow. Finally, the drink finished with coffee, allspice, clove, and char notes.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015


1 1/2 oz Rye Whiskey (Old Overholt)
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Grade B Maple Syrup
1 Egg White

Shake once without ice and once with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a few drops of Angostura Bitters and use a toothpick to draw designs through the drops.

Two Sundays ago, I turned to my copy of Left Coast Libations to see what gems left unmade. There, I spotted the Filibuster by Erik Adkin then of San Francisco's Heaven's Dog and Slanted Door. The recipe came across like the classic Maple Leaf (albeit using American rye instead of Canadian whisky) with egg white in the mix as well as bitters for garnish, so it seemed like it was worthy of a go.
The Filibuster's Angostura Bitters' designs contributed clove and allspice aromas to the nose. Next, a creamy lemon and malt sip gave way to rye and rich maple flavors on the swallow. While nothing surprising, the drink was nothing but satisfying.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

50 shades of maguey

1 1/2 oz Mezcal (Montelobos)
3/4 oz Triple Sec (Cointreau)
3/4 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Passion Fruit Syrup (BG Reynolds)
1/4 oz Campari

Shake with ice and strain into a rocks glass with fresh ice. Garnish with a lime wheel and add a straw.

For Valentine's Day two weeks ago, I decided to make a mezcal drink that Jackie Patterson Brenner reposted on Instagram via Nuestra Soledad Mezcal called 50 Shades of Maguey. I was torn on whether to love or to groan at the name, but the thought of a mezcal Margarita supplemented by the great flavor combination of passion fruit and Campari set me in the shaker tin direction.
The 50 Shades of Maguey began with a lime and smoke aroma with hints of citrus and passion fruit on the nose. The lime and passion fruit came out strongest on the sip though, and the swallow offered the smoky mezcal followed by a bitter orange and Campari finish. Indeed, the drink did come across like a mezcal Margarita with more fruit notes and a more complex bitter finish.

Monday, February 23, 2015

schooner punch

1 oz Pierre Ferrand 1840 Cognac (Pedro Domecq Fundador Solera Reserva)
1 oz Plantation 3 Star Rum (Privateer Silver)
3/4 oz Lime Juice
3/4 oz Pineapple Syrup
2 oz Strong Black Tea, cooled (English Breakfast)

Shake with ice and strain into a rocks glass or two punch cups.
Two Thursdays ago, I uncovered my collection of recipes from the Maine-Portland Pop-up Event at Thirst Boston 2014. From that series, I honed in on the Schooner Punch created by Central Provisions in Portland, Maine. With classic-feeling ingredients like a split spirit base of rum and brandy, black tea, citrus, and pineapple syrup, I felt it could do no wrong. Once prepared, the punch shared a roasty tea aroma with fruitiness from the lime and pineapple. The tea continued on into the sip in a drying sort of way along with the lime notes. And finally on the swallow, the brandy and rum mingled with the pineapple flavors.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

yeomen warder

2 oz Beefeater Gin
3/4 oz Dolin Dry Vermouth (Noilly Prat)
1/4 oz Cynar
1/4 oz Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur

Stir with ice and strain into a coupe glass.

Two Tuesdays ago, I reached for my copy of Death & Co. Cocktail Book and spotted the Yeomen Warder in the stirred gin section. This Martini variation was crafted by Phil Ward in 2008, and I figured that it would have work for Mixology Monday "That's Not a Martini!" if it were not for the Baton Rouge that I had made three nights before. Yeomen warders are the official guards at the Tower of London, so I figured that keeping the Beefeater Gin identity (with the guards on the label) was important symbolically here. Overall, the recipe fell between Craigie on Main's gin Brooklyn, the Montmartre, and Death & Co.'s Grand Street.
The Yeomen Warder offered a nutty cherry aroma with hints of juniper. A white wine sip with tinges of cherry gave an almost kirsch-like aspect to the sip. The swallow then showcased a combination of gin botanicals, nutty Maraschino notes, and Cynar's herbal complexity.

Friday, February 20, 2015

spindrift, jr

1 1/2 oz Demerara Rum (El Dorado 3)
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
3/4 oz Orange Juice (Cara Cara)
1/2 oz Passion Fruit Syrup (BG Reynolds)
1/4 oz Vanilla Syrup

Shake with ice and pour into a tall glass. Top with more ice and add a straw. I opted to garnish with an orange slice and a cherry

Two Sundays ago to help honor the Pegu Blog's February is Tiki month theme, and I therefore reached for Beachbum Berry's Remixed. There, I spotted the Spindrift, Jr. which was a 2008 variation on what was originally Trader Vic's Rum Pot. In 1994, the junior's predecessor, the Spindrift, was created at the Venetian Hotel's Taboo Cove in Las Vegas; the junior stripped away two rums and a syrup from the mix.
The Spindrift, Jr. began with an orange aroma with hints of cherry from the garnish. The sip was a medley of fruit flavors including orange, lemon, and passion fruit, and the swallow focused more on the rum and vanilla flavors. Probably the drink would blossom more with an darker, richer Demerara rum instead of the white on the I selected.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

newkirk crusta

1 jigger Bacardi (1 1/2 oz Caliche Rum)
2 dash Port Wine (1/2 oz Taylor Fladgate Ruby)
2/3 Lime Juice (1/2 oz)
1/2 tsp Raspberry Syrup (1/4 oz Royal Rose brand)

Shake with ice and strain into a small wine glass rimmed with lime juice and encrusted with sugar on the rim. Add a wide lime twist.

After the Midnight Stinger, I decided to take it back to earlier in the century via Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars: 1903-1933. There, I spotted a quirky Crusta recipe in the rum section called the Newkirk Crusta. The Crustas in that book, such as the Rye Crusta often leave out key aspects or make strange additions (one has egg in it?!); here, both the Rye and Newkirk Crustas leave out bitters which seem to be a hallmark of the spirit plus small amounts of citrus and liqueur(s) plus bitters structure (not to mention the sugar-crusted rim) laid out in the mid 19th century. Regardless, I was game to try their nonstandard recipe.
The Newkirk Crusta began with a lime oil aroma from the twist along with a fruitiness from the raspberry syrup and port; later, the nose became more rum and lime driven. Next, the fruity grape aspect of the port joined the lime on the sip, and the swallow offered the rest of the port notes in addition to rum and raspberry flavors. Indeed, Andrea commented that despite the lack of bitters, it still "tastes very old school."