Monday, April 20, 2015


2 oz Reposado Tequila (Espolon)
1/2 oz Campari
1/2 oz Punt e Mes
1/2 oz Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth (Dolin)
1 dash Chocolate Bitters (Housemade)
1 Grapefruit Twist
1 Sugar Cube (Demerara)

Muddle the grapefruit twist with the sugar cube and Campari. Add rest of the ingredients and ice, shake, and strain into a double Old Fashioned glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with an orange twist.

Two Sundays ago, I turned to the Food & Wine: Cocktails section of my bookshelf and found an interesting and unmade recipe from the 2011 edition called the R'Cobbler. The drink was created by Phil Ward who described the idea as, "I am a Campari-holic and I also love grapefruit twists and mole bitters. This drink is my trifecta." Evidence suggests that this cocktail appeared on Mayahuel's menu as a blanco tequila drink around 2009. I was drawn to the recipe initially for it reminded me of a more bitter Rosita; perhaps, the "R" in R'Cobbler stands for Rosita after all. Now, I realize that it is probably an extension of Phil's Cornwall Negroni that he created at Gary Regan's Cocktails in the Country in 2005. While there has not been a Cocktails in the Country for a while, Gaz is bringing back the tradition this year and I have a spot reserved for the May 11-12th event (more info in the link)!
The R'Cobbler began with an orange aroma that led into a fruity sip with grape, orange, and other citrus notes. The swallow though began with tequila, earthy bitter, and chocolate flavors, and ended with spice from the bitters and lingering citrus notes from the muddled grapefruit twist on the finish.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

red death

The theme for this month's Mixology Monday (MxMo XCVI) was picked by Whitney of the TipicularFixins blog. The theme she chose was "Drink of Shame," and she elaborated on the theme with his description of, "So, you're a certified, mixologist, craft-tender, bar chef, or fine spirit But, there was a time when you only ordered Long Island Iced Tea. Or, maybe you always made the Jello shots for your frat? Perhaps you're the reason that your local had an Island Oasis machine for so long? Rye & Ginger? Vodka Seven? Someone was ordering these things. Your street cred would be ruined if you ordered or (gasp) served one now, but don't you miss it, just a little? Wouldn't you love to have one more Jolly Rancher? A chance to drink a Mudslide without shame? We all made questionable drink choices in our past, the popular drinks from 1970 to the year 2000 were a cheap, sugary mess. Now is the time to resurrect your favourite drink from the time before modern Mixology. Give a new life to the drink... maybe you need to use fresh ingredients, or you can try elevating the spirits. Make everything from scratch or remove an offending ingredient. Do whatever you can to bring back and legitimize a drink you used to love."

Back in the 1990s, I probably feel more shame admitting that I was a club kid than a poor-choice drinker. I used to spend a lot of time at goth and industrial dance clubs and punk, hardcore, indie, and experimental shows, with little going out merely for drinks other than getting beers with coworkers. While I cannot recall drinking much at music shows, dance nights were drink related with pre-gaming, during, and after-parties. Then again, I was a destitute grad student at the time, so I really did not drink at clubs all that much, but I had definitely tried my share of the house specialties like the Mind Eraser served in a pint glass with a few straws and downed on the count of 3. One night, I bumped into one of the sales reps who used to stop by my grad school lab every two months or so. At some point in the conversation, he asked if he could buy me a drink, and his tone suggested more a mixed drink than a beer. I panicked and declared, "a Red Death." He replied "A what?... I mean I'll get it for you, but I want to know what it is." "I don't know, it's red, it's strong, and everyone orders them from [bartender] Terri." At that moment, I felt shame. Red Deaths are merely boozy fruit punch that defy ingredient definition. The next day, I decided that I was going to learn how to drink a business appropriate drink and later began getting Manhattans elsewhere; while I could have gotten a Manhattan at the club, it would have felt weird drinking it out of a plastic cup filled with ice. While this is the first time I am coming clean here about this here, bartender and owner Josh Childs did trick me into talking about it in an interview he did with me about my Drink & Tell cocktail book.
I came close a decade or more later to finding out what was in Terri's Red Death from a photographer that worked at the club when he was at one of our home cocktail parties around 2007 or 2008. He knew Terri and all her secrets, but at the last minute balked especially since I did not care enough to push him. For this post, I figured that the Manray club's Red Death was not all that original (although her take on it might have been) and sought the help of Google to figure out a consensus recipe. Most had common parts, but it was not until I read one description that stated that the drink was "basically... a Kamikaze and an Alabama Slammer mixed together." With the Kamikaze being vodka, triple sec, and lime juice, and the Alabama Slammer being amaretto, Southern Comfort, sloe gin, and orange juice, I figured that I could swap things around to give it some dignity. While Amaretto Sours were my declared "Guilty Pleasures" back in MxMo XXXII, I figured that I could swap that for orgeat. With lime and triple sec in the mix, why not change the drink to a Tiki one with rum instead since those four ingredients were the essentials for a Mai Tai? I also swapped the Southern Comfort for more rum, and I utilized real sloe liqueur in place of the bottom shelf mess that most non-craft bars have.
Red Death (Redux)
• 1 1/2 oz Amber Rum (Appleton VX)
• 1/2 oz Triple Sec (Senior Curaçao)
• 1/2 oz Orgeat (BG Reynolds)
• 1 oz Lime Juice
• 1/2 oz Sloe Gin (Atxa Patxaran)
• 1 oz Orange Juice
Shake with ice and strain into a Tiki mug, Collins, or Double Old Fashioned glass filled with crushed ice and containing a spent lime shell half. Add a straw.
While the end result was not very red and more of an Orange Death due to the dearth of artificial colors in the mix, it was indeed more Tiki than Hawaiian Punch. The new Red Death began with caramel rum aromas. An orange, caramel, and lime sip gave way to more rum flavors, nutty orgeat, and bitter fruit notes from from the sloe liqueur on the swallow. Perhaps reducing the orange juice volume to minimize its flavor smoothing character could have helped bring out some more distinctive notes, but having a slightly more gentle disposition was truer to the original.

So thank you to Whitney for picking the theme running the show, and getting me to talk about embarrassing drink recipes and moments, and thanks to the rest of the Mixology Monday participants for stepping up and admitting their shame and keeping the spirit of the event alive!

Friday, April 17, 2015

full windsor

1 oz Scotch (Buchanan's 12 Year Blended)
1 oz Applejack
3/4 oz Sweet Vermouth (Dolin)
1/4 oz Benedictine
2 dash Angostura Bitters
2 dash Peychaud's Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a rocks glass with ice. Garnish with an orange twist.
Two Saturdays ago, Erick Castro posted a drink on Instagram called the Full Windsor that caught my eye. I never got around to making his drink when it was first published in the March 2014 Imbibe Magazine though. Since Scotch and apple brandy pair so well, I decided to give this recipe from Polite Provisions in San Diego a try and remedy this lapse. Once mixed, the Full Windsor's orange oil brightened the smoke with herbal notes aroma. Next, malt and grape in the sip led into a smoky whisky and apple swallow with an herbal and spice finish. Although the recipe reads like a Vieux Carré in structure, the flavors of the base spirits take the cocktail in a very different direction.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

law harbor

1 1/2 oz Privateer Amber Rum
3/4 oz Dolin Dry Vermouth
1/4 oz Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
1 dash Absinthe
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a rocks glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

After Straight Law, I continued my Kenmore Square adventure up the street at Audubon Boston. Soon I found myself in front of bartender Taylor Knight and requested the Law Harbor. Taylor explained that the recipe was bar manager Tyler Wang's play on the whiskey Lawhill Cocktail, one of his favorite cocktails. Here, the drink used aged rum and veered from Tyler's Drink recipe roots by reducing the proportion of Maraschino relative to dry vermouth.
The Law Harbor began with orange oil notes that later faded to expose the Maraschino aroma. The sip was rather subtle with white wine flavors and a hint of cherry. Finally, the swallow offered aged rum transitioning well into the Maraschino liqueur nuttiness, and things ended with absinthe's anise and Angostura Bitters' clove on the finish.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

sad waltz of pietro crespi

1 1/4 oz Lustau Brandy
3/4 oz Rabarbaro Zucca Amaro
1/2 oz Punt e Mes
1/2 oz Pedro Ximenéz Sherry
5 drop Sherry Vinegar

Stir with ice and strain into a double old fashioned glass with a large ice cube. Garnish the ice cube with a pinch of salt.

Two Thursdays ago, I made use of my night off by traveling down to the Kenmore Square area. My first stop was Straight Law where bartender Julien Urraca was doing his weekly shift to break up his Brick & Mortar routine. For a cocktail, I requested the Sad Waltz of Pietro Crespi which Julien credited Sean Sullivan as the creator. I was drawn to the name because it reminded me of Misty Kalkofen's A Slow Dance with Pedro Infante. Had I read Gabriel García Márquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude, I would have been drawn to the name by connection to the tragic love triangle aspect.
The Sad Waltz of Pietro Crespi began with a raisiny grape aroma with herbal notes. The grape-laden sip possessed a rich mouthfeel, and the swallow progressed into raisin and herbal flavors ending in a dry and crisp note from the vinegar. As the salt integrated into the drink, the herbal elements on the swallow got progressively smoother.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

colleen bawn knickebein

A few weeks ago, Gary Regan posted on Facebook about a challenge to convert cocktails into Pousse-cafés. He wrote, "Dhevandrea Hikaru, a bartender in Indonesia, contacted me recently about Pousse-cafés, and we had a nice back and forth about what they were, how they're made, etc. She asked if PCs could be made from classic drink such as the Grasshopper or the White Russian, and that got me to thinking: 'What an absolutely brilliant idea!' Seems as though those drinks would be sort of easy to layer: heavy cream, Kahlua, vodka for the White Russian, and heavy cream, green mint, white cacao for the Grasshopper, right? I haven't experimented but I think that would probably be the correct order. So I'm issuing a challenge to bartenders out there: make a Pousse-café using a classic cocktail recipe. I'll put the best of the best into my next 101 Best New Cocktails book and app. Thanks for the idea, Dhevandrea! Perhaps you'd like to submit a recipe yourself?"
I originally thought about doing a Bijou because the gem imagery of gin, sweet vermouth, and Green Chartreuse as distinct layers representing the diamond, ruby and emerald would be more stunning than the ingredients all stirred together. Then, I got into a discussion with David Wondrich about Knickebeins -- layered drinks that contain unbroken egg yolk as well as egg white froth. I had previously converted a Negroni into a Knickebein in the Knickroni, but that was adding an egg to the regular ingredients. What if I were to do it to a Flip that already had a whole egg in it? I quickly honed in on the Colleen Bawn that Jessica had at No. 9 Park in the link and I was introduced around that same time by Misty Kalkofen at Green Street. That link also provides a bit of history of this gem found in Edward Spencer's The Flowing Bowl from 1903. With rye, Benedictine, and Yellow Chartreuse in the Flip, it can do no wrong. Until, perhaps it is separated molecularly as such:
Build in a 2 oz sherry glass from the bottom up. Carefully layer each component on top of the next:
• 1/2 oz Benedictine
• 1/2 oz Yellow Chartreuse
• 1 unbroken Egg Yolk
• 1/2 oz Rye Whiskey
• Beaten Egg White Meringue
• Freshly grated Nutmeg and Cinnamon as a garnish.
Note: Benedictine and Yellow Chartreuse have nearly the same densities, so layering the two might not be as crisp or as possible as other liqueurs and liquors pairings.
Of course, building this piece of art might seem complicated until you realize that the Knickebein envisioned by Leo Engel in 1878 by way of his American and Other Drinks book has a very regimented quaffing protocol:
1. Pass the glass under the Nostrils and Inhale the Flavour –- Pause.
2. Hold the glass perpendicularly, close under your mouth, open it wide, and suck the froth by drawing a Deep Breath. -- Pause again.
3. Point the lips and take one-third of the liquid contents remaining in the glass without touching the yolk. -- Pause once more.
4. Straighten the body, throw the head backward, swallow the contents remaining in the glass all at once, at the same time breaking the yolk in your mouth.
And what better time to do it than 3am after getting home after your shift around two weeks ago? Once prepared, the Colleen Bawn Knickebein presented a sweet cinnamon spice aroma over lower nutmeg notes on the nose. On the second stage, the heat of the rye was soothed by the egg white, and the later two stages presented an herbal bounty that was eased by the protein bomb from the yolk at the end. While Knickebeins are best done as a group bonding (a/k/a hazing) ceremony rather than a solo shift drink, the life of a writer sometimes takes over especially in terms of good judgment.

Monday, April 13, 2015

:: notes on madeira ::

I just finished reading Alex Liddell's Madeira: The Mid-Atlantic Wine and wanted to make a list of the salient ideas in the book as a reference for myself and others. Besides having a love of madeira in cocktails, the restaurant I work in, Loyal Nine, has an interest in madeira due to the wine's Colonial history and thus we offer flights of the four noble varieties. While there are a lot of common table wines grown on the island, most of the interest is focused on the aged and fortified variety. At first, the wines produced a high enough acidity and alcohol content on their own to make it over on the hot, spoil-inducing voyage to the American colonies, but later fortification with distilled spirits became the norm starting around the 1750s. British restriction on the American colonies made madeira rather popular; the British banned all European products unless they were brought over on British ships leaving British ports. Madeira, however, despite being under Portuguese control, is an island closer to the shores of Africa than Europe and was exempt from these restrictions. More modern madeira production mimics the long, expensive process of being kept in hot ships' holds through heating the wine via a process called estufagem. Whether modern steam-jacketed heated tanks or more classical casks left in hot parts of buildings, this cooking process converts the wine into something almost unspoilable and capable of long aging. Like centuries long. In fact, the author includes his tasting notes on late 18th century madeiras that were often spectacular (although some had crashed over the years due to poor storage or other issues).

Notes on the four noble varieties of madeira from driest to sweetest:

• Grape variety known on the Portuguese mainland as Esgano Cão or the "dog strangler" due to its "mouth-puckering, astringent acidity."
• Grows at high altitude, difficult to grow, only limited sites.
• Palest and driest of noble madeiras.
• Younger versions have orange and dried fruit notes. Nuttiness develops with maturity. With longer aging, flavors can fade but develop balsamic qualities.
• Great palate cleanser due to its high acidity.

• Different from Verdelho in Portugal but the same as the one from the Azores.
• Capable of growing in harsher environments and moderately high altitudes. Prefers to grow close to the sea.
• Slightly darker and sweeter than Sercial. Less brusque as well.
• Younger versions have honeyed, slightly chocolate, and candied citrus notes. Aging intensifies flavors.
• Great to be drank all through the day as acidity is balanced by a hint of sweetness. As an aperitif and with food as well.

• Grows at low altitudes on the south half of the island.
• Low yields but the grapes are compact bunches of small, sugar-laden grapes.
• Darkest grape of the four.
• Younger versions have a barley sugar aroma and caramel and dried fruit flavors such as apricot. With age, the wine seems less sweet.
• Mostly a dessert wine that works well with fruit and nuts or alone.

Malvasia a/k/a Malmsey
• Grape of Greek origin.
• Very sensitive to climate and only thrives at low altitudes in certain micro-climates that protect the vines from dampness and mildew.
• Grapes are often picked when the begin to shrivel which increases the sugar content.
• Lighter than Boal but of a similar dark tawny tone. Sweetest and richest variety of the bunch.
• Younger versions have a vanilla cream toffee aroma with a hint of meatiness along with caramel, marmalade, and barley sugar flavors. With age, the sweetness also becomes less apparent.
• A dessert wine best drank on its own (instead of paired with food).

Some notes on madeira were taken from this Denver Post article in addition to Liddell's book.

Friday, April 10, 2015

triple crown

1 1/2 oz Glasgow Scotch
1 oz Cocchi Sweet Vermouth
1/2 oz Brovo Amaro #14
2 dash Housemade Coffee Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

For Andrea's first drink at the Baldwin Bar at Sichuan Garden II, she asked bartender Joel Atlas for the Triple Crown which turned out to be another of Ran Duan's creations. The amaro in this Bobby Burns variation was created along with the Brovo Distillery by bartender Mike Ryan who works at Sable in Chicago. The Brovo site describes #14 as, "Mike's amaro starts with Guatemalan chocolate married to thyme for a savory flavor. It moves through cinnamon, sarsaparilla, angelica, and vanilla. It finishes with a strong Gentian finish and is sweetened with agave nectar. It is a sophisticated chocolate flavor."
The Triple Crown offered lemon oil aroma that brightened the slight smoke notes emanating from the Scotch element in the drink. The Scotch continued on into the sip as a malt note that classically paired with the vermouth's grape. Finally, the swallow brought out the rest of the Scotch flavors that transitioned elegantly into a dark, bitter sweet finish.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

father's advice

1 1/2 oz Bacardi Gold Rum
1/2 oz Cardamaro
1/2 oz Punt e Mes
1/2 oz Amontillado Sherry
1/4 oz Giffard Banane du Brésil

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange twist-cherry flag.

Two Tuesdays ago, Andrea and I made use of my night off to visit the Baldwin Bar at Sichuan Garden II in Woburn. There, we were greeted by bartenders Joel Atlas and Charles Coykendall. For a first drink, I asked Joel for "Ran's Banana" which he understood as the cocktail that won the Baldwin Bar's manager Ran Duan the Bacardi Legacy this year! With rum, a pair of bitter-herbal aromatized wines, and fruit notes from sherry and a touch of banana liqueur, I was definitely intrigued. The Father's Advice is not a cheeky banana-laden drink by any means despite my irreverent drink call. The name makes reference to how Ran recently became a father, and his father in turn bestowed upon him the wisdom that the goal of fatherhood is unconditional love and support in order to strengthen the concept of family. In the competition, Ran tied this concept to the Bacardi clan and their familial bonds, and that along with the stunning drink brought home the victory to (Greater) Boston.
In a glass, the Father's Advice began with an orange and cherry aroma that brightened darker herbal notes from some combination of Cardamaro, Punt e Mes, and sherry. The grape elements were rather strong in the sip where merely a hint of banana came through. Finally, the swallow showcased the rum along with the sherry's nutty, the Punt e Mes' complex bitter, and the amaro's herbal flavors.