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 Swet 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.