Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Blue Basil

2 oz reposado tequila
3/4 oz blueberry-basil syrup
1/2 oz lime juice

Shake all ingredients over ice and double strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a basil leaf.

For the blueberry-basil syrup:
Puree 1 cup of blueberries in a food processor. Add to 1 cup water and 1/2 cup sugar in a saucepan and bring to a simmer for about 10 minutes. Take off the heat and add around 10 basil leaves to steep for 10 minutes or so. Strain mixture through cheesecloth into a clean container.

Monday, May 18, 2009

New Word

1 1/2 oz gin
1/2 oz St. Germain elderflower liqueur
1/4 oz simple syrup
3/4 oz lemon juice
1 egg white
2 dashes grapefruit bitters

Froth the egg white in a mixing glass by shaking (no ice) or with a hand held frother. Add ice and the rest of the ingredients, shake hard and double strain into a cocktail glass.

This drink is just a variation of the Vieux Mot (old word) from PDT, I only added the bitters and the egg. The original drink is so good it really doesn't need any tinkering with though.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Mint Julep

2 oz. Bourbon or rye
1/2 oz. mint syrup

Fill a highball glass or julep cup with finely crushed ice. Stir together the spirit and syrup and pour over the ice. Garnish with a mint sprig and serve with short straws.

Mint Syrup: Combine 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water in a pot and bring to a boil. Take off the heat and add about 12 mint sprigs (1 bunch) to steep for at least 20 minutes until the syrup develops a mint flavor. Cool to room temperature, strain into a clean container, and store in the refrigerator.

The traditional method of making juleps is to gently muddle a handfull of mint leaves in the bottom of a cup with sugar or simple syrup, and then build the rest of the ingredients on top. I prefer to make the mint syrup, especially if making a lot of these, plus you don't end up with mint leaves clogging your straw.

The mint julep first appeared in print in 1803 as a "dram of spirituous liquor that has mint in it, taken by Virginians in the morning." The origins of the drink itself are a little fuzzy, but likely come from the julab. A julab is an Arabic drink made centuries ago with water and rose petals. When introduced to the Mediterranean, the rose petals were replaced with the indigenous mint. Great post with videos on how to, and how not to, make a mint julep here.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Watermelon Cooler


3 oz watermelon juice
1 1/2 oz vodka
1/2 oz falernum syrup
1/4 oz lemon juice
soda water

Shake all ingredients (minus the soda) with ice and strain into an ice filled Collins or high ball glass. Top with soda water and garnish with a long twist of lemon.


3 oz watermelon juice
1 1/2 oz vodka
1/2 oz Canton ginger liqueur
1/4 oz simple syrup
1/4 oz lemon juice
~5 mint leaves
soda water

Gently muddle the mint with the lemon juice and simple syrup, then add the rest of the ingredients (minus the soda). Shake with ice and strain into an ice filled Collins or high ball glass. Top with soda water and garnish with a long twist of lemon and a mint sprig.

To make watermelon juice: quarter a seedless watermelon and remove all of the fruit from the skin. Process in a blender and strain into a clean bottle. The falernum can be a little hard to find, but it can be ordered from here.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Old Fashioned

2 oz. rye or bourbon
1 tsp. water
1 sugar cube
2 dashes Fee Bros. old fashion aromatic bitters, or Angostura

In a rocks glass, muddle the bitters with the sugar and water. Add a few large ice cubes and the whiskey, stir to combine. Garnish with a broad peel of orange, making sure to twist it over the top of the drink, and a cherry.

This is a "whiskey cocktail made the old fashioned way". The ingredients of this drink represent the original cocktail, but it first appeared in print in 1880. There should never be a pulpy mess of fruit at the bottom of an old fashioned. The orange peel, twisted over the drink, should release enough oils to give a slight orange flavor. Caster or superfine sugar could replace the sugar cube and probably dissolve better, or you could use simple syrup.

Applejack Cobbler

2 oz. applejack
1/4 oz. simple syrup
2 dashes peach bitters
2 strawberries
4 blackberries

Muddle the the berries, syrup, and bitters in a mixing glass, then add the applejack. Shake with ice and strain into a footed or highball glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with blackberries and quartered strawberries. Serve with a spoon and a straw, or a spoon-straw.

The cobbler was the most popular drink of it's time, the king of which was the Sherry Cobbler (sherry, sugar, ice, orange slices, muddled and garnished with berries). This drink was first mentioned in print in 1809, but most early references come from the 1840's when it really became popular. A few decades later it had moved past just wines to include spirits as a base, and was still going strong. In the 1888 edition of Harry Johnson's Bartender's Manual, he noted that the Sherry Cobbler is "without a doubt the most popular beverage in the country, with ladies as well as with gentlemen. It is a very refreshing drink for old and young." Along with the Julep, this drink helped popularize the use of ice in your drink (and was possibly the first to be shaken with ice), and the straw was almost unheard of. Still a great summer drink with endless variations.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Hello There

1 1/2 oz. gin
1/2 oz. Pimm's
1/2 oz. lemon juice
1/2 oz. raspberry syrup
1/4 oz. green Chartreuse

Shake over cracked ice and double strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Naming drinks is tough; I think it should be something with at least a little relevance. For this one I took the easy way out. I did a Google search for raspberry, lemon, chartreuse, and somehow came upon a garden nursery page with this as one descpription:
Hello There: Ev, M-L
Light raspberry pink with a rose red halo and contrasting chartreuse centre. Distinctive eyed variety.
Works for me.

Smokey Mary

3 oz. vodka
2 1/2 oz. smoked tomato juice
2 1/2 oz. tomato juice
1/2 oz. lemon juice
1/4 oz Worcestershire
pepper/celery salt to taste
dash of hot sauce (I used Sriracha)

Shake all ingredients over cracked ice and strain into an ice-filled collins or high-ball. Garnish with pickled vegetables or celery.

Smoked tomato juice
Halve tomatoes and smoke over indirect heat on a charcoal grill using hickory or mesquite wood chips for 20 minutes. If you happen to be cooking a steak at the time, even better. Remove and allow to cool. Transfer to a blender and process, then strain. 4 medium tomatoes will yield about 2 cups of juice.

This was inspired by the recent Imbibe's Smoke Signals article, and I thought if any drink could handle some smoke it would be the Bloody Mary. At full strength this has a pretty intense smoke flavor, which is good, but better diluted by half.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Deep Red

2 oz. Syrah, or similair
1 oz. brandy
1/2 oz. Canton ginger liqueur
1/4 oz. lemon juice
2 dashes peach bitters

Stir over cracked ice and double strain (Hawthorne or julep and tea strainer) into a cocktail glass.


Random cocktail experiment

Esquire magazine has one thing going for it: David Wondrich is a monthly contributor. This month, he gives a basic formula for creating cocktails: 2 oz. liquor, 1 oz. fortified wine, 1 tsp. liqueur, 2 dashes bitters. To this recipe I blindly contributed Jim Beam rye, Dubonnet rouge, parfait amour, orange bitters, and ended up with...

2 oz. rye
1 oz. Dubonnet rouge
1 tsp. parfait amour
2 dashes Regan's orange bitters

Not to say that any combination of the above formula would be worth drinking, but this ended up being pretty tasty, like a Manhattan with a sweet orange flavor. Wondrich is a genius.

Terms of Endearment

After Jerry Thomas' Bon Vivant's Companion (1862) and before prohibition (1919), drinks fell under a much more standardized classification. Although these distinctions were still used following prohibition, they had been mostly forgotten by the public. Back then, a cocktail was a cocktail (see below), not just a term for any mixed drink. And a martini was gin, vermouth, and orange bitters, not anything that is served up in a cocktail glass.

  • Buck = a highball made with ginger ale + lime/lemon juice.
  • Cobbler = base spirit or wine/sherry, stirred with sugar, poured over crushed ice with plenty of fresh fruit, served with a straw and a spoon.
  • Cocktail = base spirit, sugar, bitters, chilled and generally served up. The word "cocktail" first appeared in print 1803, but the first printed explanation of the word was in The Balance on May 13, 1806:
    Cocktail is a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters-it is vulgarly called bittered sling and is supposed to be an excellent electioneering potion...
    Later, especially with the introduction of vermouth, a cocktail could be any spirit with a sweetening and bittering agent, usually served up.
  • Collins = lemon juice, spirit, sugar, soda water built in a tall glass over ice.
  • Cooler = a long spiral of a whole lemon/lime/orange placed in a Collins glass, then ice, spirit, and soda built in the glass.
  • Crusta = a relative of the cocktail, but with a sugared rim, and garnished with the entire zest of a lemon or orange.
  • Daisy = a single-serving punch, using grenadine or raspberry syrup as sweetener, citrus and spirit, served over crushed ice and garnished with fruit.
  • Eggnog = spirit (usually rum or brandy) shaken with eggs, milk, and sugar.
  • Fix = another single-serving punch like the Daisy, but using pineapple syrup.
  • Fizz = lemon juice, sugar, spirit, (and sometimes egg) shaken and poured into a medium sized glass, topped with soda water.
    Golden Fizz = egg yolk
    Silver Fizz = egg white
    Royal Fizz = whole egg
  • Flip = wine, sherry, or spirit, shaken with sugar and a whole egg, served hot or cold.
  • Frappe = a cordial or sweetened spirit shaken and poured over crushed ice, then stirred until frost forms on the outside of a glass.
  • Highball = any spirit and carbonated mixer over ice.
  • Julep = mint and sugar muddled then combined with a spirit served over shaved ice.
  • Pousse Cafe = small amounts of spirits floated on top of each other. The higher the specific gravity, the lower in the layer it will be. Usually, higher alcohol means lower specific gravity. Good lists of weights here.
  • Punch = spirits, water, and sugar flavored with fruits and spices, usually made in large quantities.
  • Rickey = pretty much a Collins with lime instead of lemon. The Savoy Cocktail Book (1930) states that:
    Most Rickeys are made with the following recipe : Use medium size glass. 1 lump of ice. The juice of 1/2 lime. Then add 1 glass of any Spirit or Liqueur fancied. Fill with carbonated water and leave rind of lime in glass.
  • Sangaree = chilled, sweetened spirit or sherry, served over ice with nutmeg grated on top.
  • Shrub = spirit infused with sugar and fruit for several days, served over ice, sometimes with a carbonated mixer.
  • Sling = spirit, sugar, and sometimes lemon juice, often stirred with cold water to chill, and served over a small amount of ice.
  • Smash = mint, sugar, and sometimes lemon juice (muddled), and spirit served over ice. Jerry Thomas called this a "julep on a small plan", as this was usually a smaller, quicker drink.
  • Sour = from The Savoy again:
    A Sour is usually prepared from the following recipe: The juice of 1/2 lemon. 1/2 tablespoonful of sugar. Add 1 glass of Spirit or Liqueur as fancy dictates. Shake well and strain into medium size glass. One squirt of Soda water. Add one slice of orange and a cherry.
    ...though sours are often also made with egg whites.
  • Swizzle = the name of this drink refers to the old swizzle stick used to make it. The stick would have prongs around it's base so that when spun between the palms it would mix the spirit, citrus, and sweetener in an ice filled glass.
  • Toddy = spirit and water, usually hot, with sugar, citrus, and spices.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


1/2 oz. Scotch
1/2 oz. Parfait Amour
1/2 oz. Sweet vermouth
2 dashes absinthe
2 dashes orange bitters

Stir over cracked ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

The Trilby has been around since at least 1895, and has taken many different forms (great post on it here). These days a Trilby would be made as a Manhattan with orange bitters, a delicious drink but not as interesting as this version. This recipe most closely resembles Harry Craddock's Trilby cocktail no. 2 (1930), however I first came across it in the great literary work that is Easy To Make Maidens & Cocktails: A Mixing, Swingers Bar Guide (1965). The measurements listed make for a pretty small drink, but with the equal proportions it's easily adjusted. I use a blended scotch for this one, such as Johnnie Black.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


2 oz Plymouth gin
1/2 oz Canton ginger liqueur
1/4 oz Fernet Branca
2 dashes rhubarb bitters

Stir over cracked ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

This drink starts off sweet and finishes with the bitterness of the rhubarb and Fernet. The name Hullabaloo comes from the rhubarb (which is also probably one of the ingredients used to make Fernet). Apparently, extras in acting would repeat the word "rhubarb" to create a general "hubbub" or "hullabaloo".