Thursday, December 31, 2015

:: fred's top 10 cocktail moments of 2015 ::

In 2010, I was asked what my favorite drink that year was and I decided not only to start a list of my favorite drinks I had out on the town and in at the home bar, but I decided to list the top moments of the previous 12 months.

1. Job Changes
The beginning of 2015 found me still at Russell House Tavern closing in on my second year, and while I liked many aspects especially the fellow bartenders I was working with, I felt that it was time for a change. I applied for a bartender job at Chef Marc Sheehan's soon to open Loyal Nine; I had met Marc through Matt Schrage when they were doing pop-up events with Brass Tacks. Of course, with an opening restaurant, I did not know when the job was to start, but eventually I received word and the restaurant opened at the end of March. Originally I was one of the opening three bartenders, and by the end of July, I was asked if I could fill in the job of bar manager. It's strange to think back and realize that I have been bar manager for more than half the restaurant's life span!

2. Traveled
The last few years, I have focused more on bartending and less on traveling to events. I believe that Fall 2012 was the last time I went anywhere and that was to Portland Cocktail Week in support of my Drink & Tell: A Boston Cocktail Book and in support of the Drink-Write events that week. This year, I attended the inaugural Cocktails in the Country 2015 held by Gaz Regan in Upstate New York in May. In July, I returned to Tales of the Cocktail for the first time since 2011 to sit in on classes (I attended talks in all 12 slots), go to events, and see the city. And September found me in Kentucky to attend Camp Runamok as part of the Cynar cabin. I did get accepted to Portland Cocktail Week, but I felt that I had spent too much time away. Instead, I attended local events like Diageo World Class classes, Anchor Distilling's Educational Drinking Tour, Tanqueray's Green Room, F. Paul Pacult's Rum Authority class, and a handful of USBG educational events.
3. Hosted Fun Events
Even before I was bar manager at Loyal Nine, we began doing Yacht Rock Sundays once the weather got warmer and the patio opened up. I was tasked to come up with a novel drink menu for each week (as a supplement to the regular menu) and I named them after the songs on the play list. Each week, I was creating two or three new drinks and selecting from the old ones to round out an 8 cocktail and 1 large format list. Some like Hungry Like the Wolf were such great sellers that they were retired from Sundays and put on the main list where they exert their dominance on a regular basis. Seemed it was the summer of Swizzles with drinks like Don't Fight It and Danger Zone making big waves. Moreover, I featured Cobblers, Rickeys, Fixes, and other classic styles that all had a relatively easy drinking yet flavorful feel. The weekly event got some press including this writeup in BostonChefs (has one of the menus to view as well). I also did a menu for Loyal Nine's Walrus & Carpenter event to honor Lewis Carroll's narrative poem. Six drinks named after six lines from the poem such as Hopping Through the Frothy Waves.

4. Got Some Press
It was quite flattering to say the least. Definitely the trio from Eater making their best bartender poll as one of the five finalists, getting on their cocktail heat map each month, and having a great interview published. My recipes saw some love as well with two appearing in the Boston Globe, namely the Mytoi Gardens at Russell House Tavern and Monopoly Money at Loyal Nine. Moreover, my Knickroni was republished in Gaz Regan's The Negroni and got press in places like Esquire. That old layered style of drink also got me into Gaz Regan's sights; I originally submitted it to his call for Poussé-cafe recipes and he chose it for his best cocktails of 2015 project. My Chutes & Ladders got published in his 2014 edition of that book series that came out this year. Also, the Final Countdown appeared in a Fee's recipe book and a variation on my Fireball Fizz appeared in Matt Rowley's Lost Recipes of Prohibition: Notes from a Bootlegger's Manual. Finally, I also was quoted in's BDC-Wire piece on the Boston Cocktail Renaissance and mentioned in a Greg Proop podcast circa 17m40s.
5. Still Writing
While 2015 started off slowly with the posts, the summer saw a great frenzy of activity and it continued on through the rest of the year. I also kept the monthly Mixology Monday event going that unites writers across the blogosphere and I hosted the monumental 100th event and we just had #104 earlier this month. People do constantly ask if there will be a second Drink & Tell like book; I am not against it but it would be great to get a publisher behind it so it was not such a stress in addition to my more than full time work load. My work will appear in other forms soon with a chapter in the upcoming Oxford Companion to Spirits and Cocktails.

6. Random Events Worth Mentioning
The year also saw me teaching a class on blogging at the Boston University gastronomy program's writing course. I judged the Bridge & Tunnel competition at the Barrel House in Beverly. And I redonned my NASA onesie from Camp Runamok to help with the launch of Cynar 70 by making our cabin's famous Cynar Coladas.
7. I Read A Lot
Last year I wrote, "While putting in the hours improves speed, grace, and people skills, there is still a lot of knowledge that needs to be learned from others. My original goal for self-betterment was a book per month and I exceeded that by 50%." This year I exceeded my prior 18 books by 33% with a year end 24. Instead of listing all of them, here are some of my favorites of the year:
• Heywood Gould's Cocktail (a darker, more honest view of bartending than the movie)
• Chantal Martineau's How the Gringo's Stole Tequila
• Jeff Burkhart's Twenty Years Behind Bars
• Paul Clarke's Cocktail Chronicles
• Toby Cecchini's Cosmopolitan: A Bartender's Life
• Joshua Bernstein's The Complete Beer Course: Boot Camp for Beer Geeks
• Dave Wondrich's Imbibe (2nd edition)
• Ian Williams' Rum: A Social and Sociable History
• Edmund Lawler's Lessons in Service from Charlie Trotter

8. Visited New Bars
Besides my own home and work bars, I got to check out new establishments across town. Yvonne's, Tiger Mama, Lone Star Cambridge, Frogmore, Hojoko, La Brasa, State Park, Townsman, and Townshend. Furthermore, I caught up on some oldies that I had missed like Wink & Nod. My travels introduced me to New Orleans prizes like Bellocq, Cane & Table, and Beachbum Berry's Latitude 29.
9. I Created Some Drinks
While I mentioned a few above for Yacht Rock Sundays, the Campari Cosmopolitan, the Cosmopari at Russell House Tavern, the Lucien Gaudin-Cornwall Negroni hybrid, the Rene Barbier at Cocktails in the Country, and the tropical Negroni, the Tarzan Boy at Loyal Nine, all utilized Campari in different ways. I got a bit into Tiki this year with my Mai Tai riff, the Manuia, at home, and the mocktail-turned-cocktail Final Countdown at work. One of the most elegant creations was the Undercover Angel as a madeira riff on the Chrysanthemum.

10. I Knew I Should Have Paced This
The final item is more of a thanks to the bartending community for being a great host, a great teacher, and a great entertainer. Between my experiences here in Boston with my regular cast of characters or broadening my horizon with new faces at Tales of the Cocktail, Cocktails in the Country, or Camp Runamok, I feel that I have gained a better idea of hospitality and of the bartender I hope one day to become. A lot of the above are the more tangible accomplishments, but I hope that the greater ones have been to my guests and my readers. While composing this list, I spotted a photo that Paul H., one of my regulars, took at one of the Yacht Rock Sundays, as well as one of my tweets about mixology. I combined the two and captured the quote in addition to one of Paul's frequent Sunday tipples and his favorite straw of the summer:

Wednesday, December 30, 2015


1/2 jigger Gin (1 1/2 oz Bluecoat)
1 spoon Orange (1/2 oz Orange Juice)
2 spoon Sweet-Sour (1/2 oz Lemon Juice)
1 dash Almond Extract (1/2 oz Orgeat)

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. I added an orange twist.
Two Thursdays ago, I reached for Boothby's 1934 World Drinks and How to Mix Them and uncovered the Oo-la-la. I knew that the drink had some promise if I could class it up a touch by converting the sweet-sour and almond extract into fresh citrus juice and homemade orgeat. I ended up choosing lemon juice for it is more common of a flavor in sweet-sour mix, and this 1934 combination of orange, lemon, and orgeat later resurfaced at the core of Tiki drinks like the Fog Cutter and the Sleeping Giant. In the glass, the Oo-la-la offered an orange oil and fresh lemon aroma. Next, a creamy lemon sip led into gin and nutty flavors on the swallow with an orange finish.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

long eclipse

1 oz El Dorado 12 Year Rum
1 oz Zucca Rabarbaro Amaro
1/2 oz Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth
1/2 oz Amontillado Sherry
1 barspoon Apricot Liqueur

Stir with ice, strain into a rocks glass, and garnish with an orange twist. Note: these were two half portions strained into sherry glasses.
When I was trying to decide which cocktail to get, I asked bartender James Miranda whether I should get the Flushing-Main St. or the Long Eclipse. He recommended the former, and as a thank you with the bill at the end of the night, he made for us the latter split into two glasses. The Long Eclipse began with orange and grape on the nose. The grape continued on into the sip along with a caramel note from the aged rum, and the swallow offered nuttiness from the sherry with herbal notes from the amaro and vermouth.

flushing - main street

2 oz Akasi White Oak Japanese Whisky
1/2 oz Dolin Blanc Vermouth
1/4 oz Green Chartreuse
1/4 oz Tempus Fugit Crème de Cacao
2 dash Angostura Bitters

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

For my first drink at Tiger Mama, I asked bartender James Miranda for their Manhattan variation, the Flushing - Main St. The drink name is Manhattan themed for that stop is the northern terminal station of the IRT Flushing Line of the NYC subway system as well as a station on the Long Island Rail Road. For a base spirit, they chose a slightly smoky Japanese Akasi which put it closer to a Rob Roy-Bobby Burns variation than a Manhattan one. Moreover, I was drawn in most by the combination of Chartreuse and cacao which have worked great in straight spirits drinks like the Prospector as well as shaken drinks like the Pago Pago.
The Flushing - Main St. began with a lemon oil aroma that gave way to a rich white wine-driven sip. Next, the swallow presented much of the flavor complexity as it began with whisky notes with a hint of smoke and ended with light chocolate, herbal, and spice flavors on the finish.

Monday, December 28, 2015

harris shrub

3/4 oz Four Roses Bourbon
3/4 oz Cardamaro
3/4 oz Aperol
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1 oz Pineapple Shrub

Shake with ice and strain into a Collins glass. Fill with ice, garnish with a pineapple fruit leaf, and add a straw.
Two Wednesdays ago, Andrea and I met up to get cocktails and some food at the recently opened Tiger Mama near Fenway. For a first drink, Andrea asked bartender James Miranda for the Harris Shrub. Since bar manager Charles Coykendall was last at Sichuan Garden's Baldwin Bar, perhaps this drink is a riff on their Classic Harris which is Bourbon, Aperol, Cardamaro, and lemon juice. When I had a taste, the nose presented pineapple and vinegar aromas. Next, the sip was full of lemon notes with hints of pineapple, and the swallow offered the rest of the pineapple flavors plus a bitter grape one from the Cardamaro teaming up with the Aperol.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

drunk uncle

1 1/2 oz Islay Scotch (Buchanan's 12 Year)
3/4 oz Martini Bianco Vermouth (Dolin Blanc)
3/4 oz Cynar

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a grapefruit twist.
After the Embassy Jubilee, I turned to Gaz Regan's The Negroni for something a nightcap. There, I uncovered the Drunk Uncle by Shawn Soole of Little Jumbo in British Columbia with a smoky Cynar variation on the classic. Once stirred and strained, the Drunk Uncle gave forth grapefruit and smoke aromas. Sweet grape on the sip gained a roundness from Cynar's caramel, and the swallow displayed the excellent pairing of smoky Scotch and Cynar's herbal notes all with a floral finish from the vermouth.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

embassy jubilee

1/2 Gordon's Dry Gin (1 1/4 oz GrandTen's Wireworks)
1/2 Lillet (1 1/4 oz Cocchi Americano)
2 dash Benedictine (1/2 oz)
2 dash Fleur d'Orange (6 drop Orange Blossom Water)

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
Two Tuesdays ago, I searched through the Café Royal Cocktail Book and discovered the Embassy Jubilee created by "Theo" probably in the 1930s. While I have seen a few cocktails that couple gin, dry vermouth, and Benedictine like the Poet's Dream, this one utilized Lillet for the wine component and bolstered its citrus notes with orange blossom water. Once stirred and strained, the drink shared an orange floral aroma with juniper and herbal-minty notes. Citrussy wine on the sip gave way to juniper and herbal on the swallow and minty on the finish.

Friday, December 25, 2015

gun club punch #1

1 oz Light Puerto Rican Rum (Caliche)
1 oz Dark Jamaican Rum (Coruba)
Juice 1 Lime (3/4 oz)
1 dash Grenadine (3/8 oz)
1 dash Curaçao (3/8 oz Van der Hum)
1 1/2 oz Pineapple Juice

Blend with 1 scoop of ice, pour into a large tumbler, and fill with ice (shake with ice and strain into a tall glass filled with fresh ice). Garnish with mint and a fruit stick (mint and a lemon twist).
After returning home from my adventures in Boston, I reached for Trader Vic's Rum Cookery and Drinkery for something tropical. There, I spotted one of the Gun Club Punch variations that seemed to do no wrong. Once mixed, the punch gave forth mint notes over a fruity aroma. Next, caramel, lime, pomegranate, and a vague fruitiness from perhaps the pineapple and orange liqueur mingled in the sip. And finally, the swallow offered dark funky rum and pineapple flavors with an orange finish.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

high five, so am i

1 1/2 oz Milagro Reposado Tequila
1/2 oz Rothman & Winter Apricot Liqueur
1/2 oz Cynar
1/2 oz Honey Syrup
1/2 oz Lemon Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a coupe glass.
Two Mondays ago, I ventured over to J.M. Curley where bartenders Katie Soule and Amber Carbino were at the stick. For a first drink, I asked Katie for the High Five, So Am I; Katie mentioned that it was created by Laura Ganci. I was drawn to the ingredient list for it reminded me of a Michigander with the Cynar, honey, and lemon crossed with a One One Thousand with Cynar, apricot, and lemon. In the glass, the High Five displayed agave and funky herbal aromas. On the palate, the sip contained honey, lemon, and a hint of stone fruit, and the swallow presented tequila notes and a great Cynar-apricot combination that I tasted in the One One Thousand. Moreover, the honey donated a nice smoothness to the drink.


1 1/2 oz Gold Rum (2 oz Don Q Gold)
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1 tsp Grenadine (1/4 oz)
1/2 tsp Benedictine (1/4 oz)
1/2 tsp Pernod (1/2 barspoon or 1/16th oz Herbsaint)

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
Two Sundays ago after my bar shift, I reached for a book that I rarely flip through, the 1971 Playboy's Host and Bar Book. My search for rare gems from this cocktail book written during the dark ages of mixology was indeed successful when I stumbled upon the Daiquiri variation called the Unisphere. The drink namesake Unisphere was built for the 1964-1965 World's Fair held in Queens, NYC, and this 12 stories high structure had the theme of "peace through understanding." Once built, the cocktail Unisphere presented an anise aroma from the Herbsaint. Next, the sip was fruity with crisp lime and hints of pomegranate, and the swallow proffered rum and herbal notes with a lingering anise finish.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

mum's the word

1 1/2 oz Dolin Blanc Vermouth
3/4 oz Suze Gentian Liqueur (Salers)
1/2 oz Benedictine
1/2 oz Mezcal (Montelobos)
2 dash Orange Bitters (Regan's)

Stir with ice, strain into an absinthe-rinsed coupe (Herbsaint), and garnish with lemon oil.

Two Saturdays ago, I turned to Food & Wine: Cocktails 2015 and spotted the Mum's the Word. I was quite surprised that this creation by Shannon Ponche of Manhattan's Mayahuel was not a Last Word variation like the Word to Your Mom. Instead, it was a blanc vermouth-driven aperitif or shim (although the Benedictine besides the mezcal is also rather proofy).
The Mum's the Word began with lemon, anise, and white grape aromas. The grape continued on in the sweet sip, and the swallow gave forth herbal, smoke, floral, and earthy flavors with a light anise finish.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

south pole swizzle

1 1/4 oz Letherbee Gin (Darnley's View)
3/4 oz Gilka Kümmel (Helbing)
3/4 oz Passion Fruit Syrup
1/2 oz Honey Syrup
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Build in a Hurricane glass, fill with crushed ice, and swizzle to mix and chill. Garnish with an orange twist.

Two Wednesdays ago, I decided to make a drink that I had spotted in Punch Magazine called the South Pole Swizzle. The recipe was created by Billy Helmkamp of the Whistler in Chicago. Indeed, the combination of gin, passion fruit, honey, and lemon reminded me of my Surfer Rosa that was a mashup of Don's Special Daiquiri and a Bee's Knees. Here, additional spice notes were added via kümmel and Angostura Bitters.
The South Pole Swizzle shared orange oil and caraway aromas from the garnish and kümmel, respectively. Next, honey balancing lemon on the sip gave way to juniper, caraway, passion fruit, and spice on the swallow. Moreover, there was a pleasant lingering rye bread note on the finish.

son of santa

1 1/2 oz Four Roses Bourbon
1 oz Cinzano Sweet Vermouth
1/4 oz St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram
1/4 oz Avèze Gentian Liqueur

Stir with ice and strain into a rocks glass with fresh ice. Add straws and optional to garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.
For a private holiday party yesterday, I was asked to come up with two cocktails to serve to 150 guests. Since Jon, one of the other bartenders, was doing that shift with me, I put one of his shaken creations on the list. For the other stirred one, I thought about the new bottle addition to our bar at Loyal Nine, namely St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram. As inspiration, I thought of the vermouth-based Sinnerman that paired allspice dram with Suze Gentian Liqueur, and I decided to take it in a Manhattan direction by making it a Bourbon-forward recipe instead of the last time I tinkered with the flavor combination in a Swizzle. Indeed, the earthiness of the gentian pairs well with the dram's spice to provide great accents to the whiskey and vermouth. Finally, the name came easily for I wanted to pay tribute to one of the East Cambridge characters who we have dubbed Son of Santa from early on; now that the Christmas season is upon us, Son of Santa lives up to our name for him by wearing a red and white Santa hat. While I was trying to keep it simple given the volume we would be dealing with, I kept thinking that the drink needed a garnish of some sort and perhaps freshly grated nutmeg was the answer.

Sunday, December 20, 2015


The theme for this month's Mixology Monday (MxMo CIV) was picked by Dagreb of the Nihil Utopia blog. The theme he chose was "Forgiving Cocktails," and he elaborated on the concept with his description of, "It could be the antithesis of a drink so delicately structured that even 1/8 oz too much or too little of an ingredient causes a trainwreck. I'm not suggesting all out free-pouring but perhaps you've come across a recipe that can roll with the punches of an over/under pour now and again. Perhaps you're at a ballroom or a hotel and the unenthusiastic and/or fresh-faced (bar) staff doesn't inspire confidence. They may not know Campari from calamari but if you want a cocktail what do you do? Order something that can't go too wrong. A Manhattan? Perhaps a Negroni?... This idea of forgiving cocktails first began for me when one night I swapped the 'bottom shelf' for the 'top middle shelf' and was delighted by the results. It wasn't exactly the same but it was delicious none the less! The idea continued with other drinks that welcomed whichever brand I was pouring... Whatever it may be find or invent a drink you feel is a forgiving cocktail and share the results."

While looking up another cocktail that utilized gin and Lillet, I was reminded of the Vesper. The Vesper is one of the drinks in the world that confuses me to no end. The initial time I took an order for one at my first professional bar, I could not remember whether there was more gin or more vodka, so I made it equal parts. Then I learned the drink recipe via the illogical idea that there is only a small amount of vodka to weaken the flavors of the botanicals in the gin. I could see a vodka lover preferring 3 parts vodka to a single part of gin to make something as boldly flavor as say Plymouth out of Beefeater, but could any one detect gin diluted by 25%? Well, that part is symbolic for the Vesper is named after a double agent in Ian Fleming's Casino Royale and appearing British with a secret Russian ingredient in the mix is kind of crafty in a literary way. The Kina Lillet part is intriguing to me since today's Lillet or Cocchi Americano is rather light on the quinine, and I do not see many people getting excited about a gin-Lillet Martini such as the Richmond Cocktail. However, throw vodka into that with even less flavor and people request it with glee? And request it shaken? I have told guests that I will trust an author's take on mixology when an author will take my advice on how he should develop his book's plot. In the remake of the Casino Royale movie, James Bond is agitated about losing at the gambling table and his drink request is particular, but I see his shaken aspect as a sign of frustration instead of wanting a smooth cocktail like it should be. The more I thought about the cocktail and my opinions on it, the more I realized that I had never had more than a straw-taste of ones with Cocchi Americano and one with Kina l'Avion d'Or and that I ought to sink into my own glassful to contemplate it.
"Three measures of Gordon's [gin], one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it's ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel."
• 1 1/2 oz Death's Door Gin
• 1/2 oz Barr Hill Vodka
• 1/4 oz Cocchi Americano
Stir with ice and garnish with a lemon twist.
The Vesper fulfills that idea of "forgiving cocktails" since the exact ratios are not incredibly important and probably an equal parts drink would be delightful (albeit a hint sweeter and more citrus-wine flavored). Or perhaps fitting it to the Drink bar's 2:1/2:1/2 formula? That would probably taste about the same as the literary recipe. And then there are the ingredients. Kina Lillet is defunct and few quinquinas of that style have a crisp quinine signature to them, so using Lillet Blanc, Cocchi Americano, or Kina l'Avion d'Or are all punts. Is Gordon's gin the same now as it was then? Here, I opted for the quirky Death's Door gin with its minimalist botanical blend and grain-forward distillate. And what about the vodka? Was it as clean then as it is today with its hyper-marketed dozen distillations and ultra-premium multiple filtration steps? Moreover, what about the proof dropping over the years to the point that most gins and vodkas are only 80? Instead of worrying about that, I went for a more flavorful vodka from Caledonia Spirits that distills fermented honey to donate earthy and floral components. True, I killed the British and Russian symbolism by using solely American products (save for the aromatized wine component that is), but I was after flavor considerations to make this mix more appealing to my palate. Surely most non-literary and non-movie buff drinkers would forgive my changes and perhaps some of my opinions? Maybe not, but it is the weekend before Mixology Monday and my deadline convinces me that I am rather forgiven.
At least I should be forgiven for giving this cocktail a whirl for once and for taking a photo utilizing an elegant piece of glassware from around the time the Casino Royale book was written. Once prepared, my Vesper shared lemon, floral, and juniper aromas. Next, honey, bready, and white wine notes filled the sip, and the swallow gave forth juniper from the gin and citrus peel from the Cocchi Americano and the gin's coriander. With my spirit choices, the drink was certainly not flabby or uninteresting, and it had a lot more depth than a cold glass of gin.

So thank you to Dagreb for picking the theme to challenge us to be less uptight about drinking. And may he forgive all of us for our choices this month and may he forgive the rest of you who did not pick up the mixing glass and keyboard by Monday night to participate in this 104th Mixology Monday. Finally, thanks again to all of you hosts and participants who have kept this nerdy online cocktail party alive and well for all these years!

bali bali

1 oz Dark Jamaican Rum (Coruba)
1 oz Light Virgin Island Rum (Caliche)
1 oz Gin (Seagram's Dry)
1 oz Cognac (Foret VSOP)
1 oz Lime Juice
1 oz Orange Juice
1 oz Pineapple Juice
1/2 oz Passion Fruit Syrup
1/2 oz Falernum (Velvet)
1/2 oz Simple Syrup

Shake with ice and pour into a tall glass (shake with ice, strain into a Tiki mug, fill with crushed ice, and garnish with mint).

After I got home two Tuesdays ago, I reached for Beachbum Berry's Sippin' Safari since I still had some lime juice left over from the private holiday party that I had bartended. It also gave me a good excuse to give my new-to-me Tiki mug a maiden voyage after buying it at a local antiques mart a few days before. The drink that called out to me was the Bali Bali created at the Bali Ha'i at the Beach in New Orleans circa 1950s. Interestingly, there is a Bali Bali published in the 1940 cocktail book The How and When that has some overlaps with its rum, lime, passion fruit, and sugar. Moreover, the 1950s Bali Bali shares the trio of rum, gin, and brandy that was previously seen in the Fog Cutter.
This Bali Bali began with passion fruit notes supplemented by mint aromas from the garnish I added. Next, lime, passion fruit, and a hint of pineapple filled the sip at first before it later gained more orange juice flavor. And finally, the swallow broadcasted funky dark rum, tropical notes from the passion fruit and pineapple, and spice from the juniper and clove elements.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

sinister street

1 1/2 oz Grant's Scotch
3/4 oz Bonal Gentiane Quina
1/2 oz Amaro Nonino
1/4 oz Benedictine

Stir with ice and strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with 2 spritz Angostura Bitters.

After wrapping up bartending a private party outside of Central Square two Tuesdays ago, I made my way over to Craigie on Main for a bit of unwinding. For a drink, I asked bartender Rob Ficks for the Sinister Street which was his creation; the combination of made me think of a more complex Bobby Burns which seemed rather appropriate for the season and the time of night.
The Sinister Street began with dark aromas of clove and allspice from the bitters garnish. Next, malt, caramel, and grape mingled on the sip, and the swallow presented smoky whisky, bitter herbal, and gentian notes.

Friday, December 18, 2015


2/3 jigger Gin (1 1/2 oz Bluecoat)
1/3 jigger Grenadine (1/2 oz)
2 dash Lemon Juice (1/2 oz)
1 dash Orange Juice (1/4 oz Cara Cara)

Shake with ice (I added a wide orange twist with the ice) and strain into a cocktail glass.

After returning home from Estragon, I was in the mood for a nightcap so I turned to Boothby's 1934 World Drinks & How to Mix Them. There, I spotted the Eureka which appeared like a gin version of a Ward Eight. Since I am at odds with the orange juice in a whiskey drink, I often tone down the orange juice and add orange bitters in that Boston classic; while orange juice and gin and not enemies as shown in the Monkey Gland and others, I still kept to this concept and shook the drink with an orange peel here instead of adding orange bitters.
The Eureka began with orange and lemon notes with hints of pine on the nose. Next, a crisp lemon, orange, and pomegranate sip gave way to gin botanicals supplemented with orange peel flavors.

[west of rome]

1 oz Milagro Tequila
1 oz Lustau Oloroso Sherry
1 oz Zucca Rabarbaro Amaro
1 oz Water

Build in a white wine glass pre-rinsed with absinthe. Stir briefly without ice to mix, and garnish with lemon twist oil. Note: this is a room temperature cocktail.

The libation that I started with at Estragon was one of bartender Sahil Mehta's previous drinks of the day. Sahil mentioned that when he was tinkering with the cocktail, it tasted better when it sat around and warmed up than when it was chilled; therefore, he skipped the ice part and added water to give a similar level of dilution. For a name, I dubbed this one West of Rome after a John Fante novel for it reminded me of one of my agave and absinthe room temperature drinks Ask the Dust.
The drink began with a lemon, anise, and minty aroma that later became more herbal from the Zucca. Next, grape dominated the sip and gave way to an agave and herbal swallow with hints of nuttiness and chocolate that ended with an anise finish.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

[santa rosa]

1 1/2 oz Mezcal
1/2 oz Ancho Reyes
1/4 oz Crème de Cacao
1/4 oz Angostura Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a single old fashioned glass. Garnish with orange twist oil.

Two Mondays ago, Andrea and I paid a visit to bartender Sahil Mehta at Estragon. For a first cocktail, Andrea requested Sahil's drink of the day. Sahil described how he came up with the idea while thinking about Mexican mole sauce and he wanted to recreated the flavors using crème de cacao, Ancho Reyes, and Angostura Bitters for the chocolate, pepper, and cinnamon notes, respectively. For a name, I dubbed it the Santa Rosa after the convent in Puebla that one legend cites as the sauce's creation in the 16th century.
The Santa Rosa began with orange oil over smoke notes on the nose. The rich sip was followed by mezcal, pepper heat, and clove on the swallow with a smoke and cinnamon finish.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

rain killer

1 1/2 oz White Puerto Rican Rum (1 1/4 oz Don Q Cristal, 1/4 oz Vale d'Paul Agricole-style)
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Orange Juice (Cara Cara)
1/2 oz Pineapple Juice
1/2 oz Simple Syrup
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Blend with 4 oz crushed ice and pour into a glass (shake with ice, strain over crushed ice). Garnish with mint sprigs and a paper parasol.
Two Saturdays ago, my post-shift drink desires led me to Jeff Berry's Sippin' Safari. There I was lured in by a rather simple recipe found in Bob Esmino's notebook. With six ingredients, it is definitely not the simplest recipe, but for Tiki, none of the calls are for anything that cannot be found at most home bars. Overall, the Rain Killer is a Daiquiri base with orange and pineapple juice and some spice from Angostura Bitters in the mix. Once built, the mint garnish contributed greatly to the nose. The sip was rather tropical with orange, lime, and pineapple flavors, and the swallow offered rum, pineapple, and clove.


1 oz Hine H Cognac (Foret VSOP)
1 oz Appleton V/X Rum (Plantation Dark)
3/4 oz Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth (Dolin)
1/4 oz Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a coupe glass.

Two Fridays ago, my need for a post-work nightcap found me flipping through the pages of the Death & Co. Cocktail Book where I spotted a straight spirits Phil Ward recipe. Phil's Martica was his 2007 riff on a Martinez substituting brandy and rum for the Old Tom gin. Moreover, the structure also reminded me of a Vieux Carré with a swap of the liqueurs being one of the biggest flavor differences. There also seems to be a Chocolate Martica recipe out there where Phil substituted a healthy dose of Bittermens' Mole Bitters instead of the Angostura, but I went with the original in the book.
The Martica began with funky rum aromas joined by barrel-aged caramel notes on the nose. The caramel continued on into the sip along with grape and light cherry notes. And finally, the swallow shared rum funk, brandy roundness, and Maraschino nuttiness with a bitter and spice finish.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015


3/4 jigger Brandy (1 3/4 oz Foret VSOP)
1 spoon Pineapple Syrup (1/4 oz)
1 spoon Curaçao (1/4 oz Senior)
2 dash Maraschino (1/4 oz Luxardo)
1 dash Lemon Juice (1/2 oz)
2 drop Bitters (1 dash Angostura)

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. I added a lemon twist.
Two Thursdays ago, I reached for Boothby's 1934 World Drinks and How to Mix Them and found the Sun. I was intrigued for the recipe appeared like either an East India House with lemon juice or perhaps a Brandy Crusta with pineapple syrup (but without the sugar rim). Once mixed, the Sun shared a lemon oil and brandy aroma with hints of fruitiness on the nose. Next, a crisp lemon and orange sip fell aside to brandy, nutty Maraschino, and bitters' spice on the swallow.

Monday, December 14, 2015

hot buttered rum

As the weather started to get colder here in Boston, one of the owners at Loyal Nine inquired if I had any hot cocktail ideas. Since we feature a lot of rum on the menu, I began to consider options like converting a drink into a hot one like the Hot Zombie and Sazerac Toddy. Instead, I proposed a classic route of Hot Buttered Rum that included both classic winter spices as well as the spice blend that appears in our house Piccalilli -- a British condiment spice blend based on Indian spices that made its way over to the American Colonies. While I will keep the house spice blend ingredients off the blog, I will share the rest of the technique and recipe.
Hot Buttered Rum Batter
• 4 oz Cultured Butter
• 8 oz Demerara (or Brown) Sugar
• 1/2 tsp Cinnamon (powder)
• 1/4 tsp Clove (powder)
• 1/4 tsp Nutmeg (grated)
• 1/4 tsp Allspice (powder)
Blend the ingredients together using a paddle adapter on a bowl mixer. Let the spices infuse in the butter-sugar carrier overnight in the refrigerator. Keep this batter refrigerated between uses (although the cultured aspect will allow it to be kept at room temperature during service).
Note: With the additional 6 spices, some are toasted and all 6 are not powderized. The spices are powderized in a blender using some of the sugar as a bulking agent to interact with the blender blades. Eventually all of the sugar is blended to a fine powder before mixing this spiced sugar with the butter. The measurements above were for the pilot batch and the production batch is four times the size yielding 3 pounds of batter.

Hot Buttered Rum
• 1 1/2 oz Old Ipswich (Turkey Shore) Tavern Style Rum
• 2 heaping tsp Batter
• ~8 oz Boiling Water
Preheat a small coffee cup with additional hot water. Dump the water, build the drink with part of the hot water, stir to mix, and top off with the rest of the water. Other spirits and liqueurs will work well here besides the aged rum.
With the classic spices, the drink would be delicious, but the additional spices round out the flavor and aroma and make for a good complement to our restaurant's food and spicing. For a spirit, I opted for a rich aged rum made here in state, namely Old Ipswich's Tavern Style Rum. During our staff holiday party a few days ago, I made chef one with the Bittermens Malört that we keep for him, and that was a big hit, so perhaps the Bäska Snaps one will hit the menu as an option. Also, many hot buttered rum batter recipes call for brown sugar; however, most brown sugar is purified white sugar that has been sprayed and dyed with molasses. Therefore, I opted for our high quality demerara sugar that adds a glorious rich molasses flavor to the drink without as much processing.
Update: Hot Buttered Malört is now a reality. It is an option in the Hot Buttered Rum menu item to drink like chef! Same preparation as above with 1 1/2 oz Bäska Snaps Malört filling in for the aged rum.

Sunday, December 13, 2015


1 oz Knob Creek Bourbon (Four Roses Yellow)
1 oz Angostura Bitters
3/4 oz Licor 43
1 Whole Egg

Shake once without ice and once with ice, and strain into a cocktail glass. I added freshly grated nutmeg as a garnish.
Two Wednesdays ago, I returned to the Northstar Cocktails book and found another reason to utilize my now less dusty bottle of Licor 43 after making the Permanent Holiday a few days before. This one was the Angophile created by Pip Hanson that called for a full ounce of Angostura Bitters in a Flip format. Since Licor 43 brings a lot of vanilla notes to the table, I figured that it would be complement to the Angostura's spice. Once prepared, the Angophile shared a nutmeg aroma from the garnish and allspice from the bitters. Next, a creamy sip gave way to vanilla, cinnamon, allspice, and clove on the swallow. Overall, this was rather well balanced with the whiskey playing more of a backbone to the drink rather than a noticeable flavor element.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

espresso bongo

2 oz Appleton Reserve Rum (Plantation Original Dark)
1/2 oz Illy Espresso Liqueur (Galliano Ristretto)
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Pineapple Juice
1/2 oz Orange Juice (Cara Cara)
1/2 oz Passion Fruit Purée (Passion Fruit Syrup)
1/2 oz Simple Syrup (omit, combined with above)

Shake with ice and pour into a Tiki mug.

Two Tuesdays ago, I spotted a Tiki gem in the P.D.T. Cocktail Book called the Espresso Bongo. Jeff "Beachbum" Berry created this one back in 2010, and he named it after a 1959 British Beatnik movie. Overall, it reminded me a gussied up Mr. Bali Hai with different citrus and the addition of passion fruit, and I figured that this recipe was perfect for breaking in the Tiki mug that Andrea bought at Smuggler's Cove (technically, she broke it in at the bar and bought the mug with the drink, but here for home use).
Without a garnish, the Espresso Bongo shared caramel and roast notes from the rum and coffee liqueurs. Next, the sip was rather tropical with passion fruit and orange notes being most identifiable, and the swallow offered dark rum, pineapple, and coffee flavors.

Friday, December 11, 2015

commercial free

3/4 oz Old Monk Rum
3/4 oz Cynar
3/4 oz Velvet Falernum
3/4 oz Grapefruit Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a single old fashioned glass.
Two Mondays ago on the way home from a Hennessy event, I decided to stop into Trina's Starlite Lounge for a drink. The menu item I asked bartender Tony Iamunno to make, the Commercial Free, was one of his own creations; I did inquire even though the name and the ingredient mix had his signature on it. In the glass, the Commercial Free shared a molasses-caramel aroma with funky herbal undertones on the nose. The caramel continued on into the sip where it was joined by the grapefruit notes. Lastly, the swallow gave forth dark rum and funky bitter flavors with a clove finish. Overall, the drink was a touch on the sweet side so perhaps some of the grapefruit juice could be split with some lime juice to give a crisper balance, but the combination of Old Monk Rum and Cynar was rather delightful.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

permanent holiday

1 oz Bourbon (Four Roses Yellow)
1 oz Averna
1/2 oz Licor 43
1 oz Grapefruit Juice (Ruby Red)
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Passion Fruit Syrup

Shake with ice and strain into a Tiki mug or tall glass. Fill with crushed ice and garnish with a grapefruit twist, mint, and a paper umbrella.
Two Sundays ago, I was in a Tiki mood when my post-shift nightcap at home rolled around. Therefore, I decided that it was time to make a drink that I had spotted in September's Imbibe Magazine from Trey Jenkins of Isla in Austin. His fall-inspired Tiki drink was dubbed the Permanent Holiday, and the thought of utilizing my dusty bottle of Licor 43 to generate some vanilla and additional citrus notes seemed intriguing. Once built, it shared grapefruit and mint aromas from the garnishes. Next, the sip was rather citrussy with grapefruit and lime and hints of passion fruit. Finally on the swallow, the Bourbon mixed with the Averna and Licor 43 herbal notes, and the drink rounded off with vanilla and passion fruit flavors.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

the eagle's throne

1 oz Laird's Applejack
1 light oz Cynar
3/4 oz Punt e Mes
1/2 oz Don Julio Añejo Tequila (Espolon Reposado)
1/4 oz Amaro Nonino (Averna)
1 dash Orange Bitters (Angostura Orange)

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail coupe pre-rinsed with Sombra Mezcal (Montelobos). Garnish with grapefruit twist oil.
For a nightcap two Saturdays ago, I turned to Northstar Cocktails where I spotted the Eagle's Throne by Jourdan Gomez. With apple, bitter notes, and hints of smoke and agave, I was definitely intrigued. Once prepared, the Eagle's Throne offered grapefruit and smoke notes to the nose. Caramel and grape on the sip led into apple, agave, and funky bitter on the swallow.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

inna di yard

1 oz Salers Gentian Liqueur
1/2 oz Wray & Nephew Rum
1 oz Orgeat
1 oz Lime Juice
2 dash Orange Bitters (Regan's)

Shake with ice and strain into a rocks glass containing fresh ice cubes. Garnish with a large lime twist.

Two Fridays ago, I turned to my copy of the newly released Experimental Cocktail Club and became interested in a weird Mai Tai-looking recipe called Inna Di Yard. The drink was crafted by Michael Mas of E.C.C. in Paris when he took a trip to St. Petersburg and he and his Russian friend tried to make Trinidad Sours. They decided to get creative when they realized that Angostura Bitters were too expensive in Russia, so they opted for Salers liqueur instead. The end result reminded me also of the Frog Splash with different rum, the addition of bitters, and slightly different measurements.
The Inna Di Yard offered a lime and nutty aroma. Next, crisp lime balanced by orgeat's richness on the sip led into funky rum on the swallow being complemented by gentian earthiness and orgeat nuttiness.

Monday, December 7, 2015

treaty of paris

1 1/2 oz Courvoisier VSOP Cognac (Foret VSOP)
1 1/4 oz Earl Grey Tea Syrup (1:1)
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1 Egg White

Shake once without ice and once with ice. Strain into a coupe glass containing 2 oz champagne (Gruet Blanc de Blanc) and garnish with finely ground Earl Grey tea leaves.

After the Sailor's Swizzle, I decided to end the night with a recipe that I had spotted in Imbibe by Griffin Lawler of Café on the Green at the Four Seasons in Dallas. His treaty of Paris with the Earl Grey tea elements, lemon, and egg white reminded me of Audrey Saunders' Earl Grey MarTEAni. Here, besides having a brandy instead of gin base, the tea was in a syrup instead of an infusion and the drink was lightened with sparkling wine.
The Treaty of Paris began with a bergamot orange aroma with wine notes poking through the egg white froth. Next, a creamy carbonated sip displayed lemon and white wine flavors, and the swallow offered brandy, tea, and orange peel.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

sailor's swizzle

1 1/2 oz Bacardi Carto Oro Rum (Old Ipswich/Turkey Shore White Cap)
2/3 oz Ruby Port (Taylor Fladgate)
3/4 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz 2:1 Simple Syrup (3/4 oz 1:1 Simple)
1/8 oz Allspice Dram (St. Elizabeth)

Build in a Collins glass, fill with crushed ice, and swizzle to mix and chill. Garnish with a few dashes of Angostura Bitters and lime zest strings (spent half lime shell and mint).
Two Thursdays ago, I was in the mood for something a bit more tropical, so I remembered that I had spotted an interesting yet classic-feeling Swizzle on Difford'sGuide a few weeks ago. The drink was the Sailor's Swizzle crafted by Erik Lorincz of the American Bar in London circa 2012. Once built, it offered a mint, allspice, clove, and lime oil aroma. On the sip, crisp lime was balanced by sweet grape notes, and the swallow shared rum and allspice on the swallow that later gained Angostura's clove and cinnamon as the garnish integrated into the drink.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

tony vaughn

1 1/2 oz Rum Blanca (Denizen Aged White Rum)
3 dash Benedictine (1/2 oz)
2 dash Dry Vermouth (1/2 oz Noilly Prat)
2 dash Sweet Vermouth (1/2 oz Dolin)
1 dash Angostura Bitters

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

When nightcap time came around two Wednesdays ago, I found myself flipping through the saucy pages of Bottoms Up and happened upon the Tony Vaughn created at the Hotel Jaragua in Ciudad Trujillo, Dominican Republic. The combination of rum, vermouth, Benedictine, and bitters reminded me of Trina Starlite Lounge's similarly named Tony Montana. Indeed, the Tony Vaughn appearing like a perfect vermouth rum Preakness also sounded alluring.
The Tony Vaughn shared an orange oil aroma over that of the grape notes. The grape continued on into the sip and was followed by funky rum, chocolate, clove, mint, and cinnamon flavors.

Friday, December 4, 2015

double double

1 1/2 oz Beefeater Gin
3/4 oz Campari
1/2 oz Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth (Dolin)
1/2 oz Punt e Mes
1/4 oz Cynar

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

Two Tuesdays ago, I reached for my copy of Northstar Cocktails to find a modern recipe as a nightcap. The one that caught my attention was Pip Hanson's Double Double that reminded me of Phil Ward's Cornwall Negroni that he created at Gary Regan's Cocktails in the Country 2005. The major differences between the two are that the Double Double has a touch more Campari and utilizes Cynar instead of a dash of orange bitters.
The Double Double started with orange oil and grape notes on the nose. Next, citrus-tinged grape on the sip led into juniper and bitter orange on the swallow with Cynar's funky bitter notes combined with Punt e Mes' more rounded bitter ones on the finish.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

bela vista

2 oz Old Overholt Rye
1 oz Amaro Ramazzotti
1/2 oz Giffard Banane du Bresil

Stir with ice and strain into a rocks glass with a big ice cube. Garnish with a cherry.
Two Mondays ago, I stopped into No. 9 Park for a drink when bartenders Ryan Lotz and Gregg Guertin were at the stick. When I scanned the menu, I was curious about the Bela Vista for I wanted to see how banana liqueur would work with another amaro after it did so well with Campari in the Banana Boulevardier. In the glass, the Bela Vista shared a banana and cherry aroma that later displayed darker rye notes. Next, the malty and caramel sip fell aside to rye and cola notes on the swallow and banana and orange on the finish. Moreover, as the ice melted, the banana began to take a larger role in the flavor profile.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

east india

3/4 jigger Sherry (2 oz Lustau Amontillado)
1/4 jigger Swedish Punsch (3/4 oz Kronan)
1 dash Curaçao (1/4 oz Pierre Ferrand Dry)

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

Two Sundays ago, I pondered a drink called the East India that I spotted in Pioneers of Mixing in Elite Bars: 1903-1933. It was curious for there is a better known East India Cocktail first published in Harry Johnson's 1882 Bartenders' Manual that is brandy, pineapple syrup, maraschino, curaçao, and bitters. Here, the only overlap was curaçao, but the combination of sherry and Swedish Punsch seemed rather intriguing despite the name overlap. Charles H. Baker wrote about the more famous East India Cocktail in Jigger, Beaker and Glass and mentioned that there was a second recipe under that name with dry vermouth, sherry, and orange bitters; swapping the punsch for the vermouth and curaçao for orange bitters here would yield something in that ball park.
This East India began with a lemon oil and grape aroma with hints of orange peel. Next, a slightly sweet grape sip led into dry nutty sherry, tea tannins, and orange flavors on the swallow.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015


1/3 jigger Gin (1 1/2 oz Beefeater)
1/3 jigger Dry Vermouth (1 1/2 oz Noilly Prat)
3 dash Maraschino (1/4 oz Luxardo)
2 dash Orange Bitters (Regan's)

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

After the Coola Culla Don, I wanted something a bit more old school as a final drink of the night. Therefore, I turned to Boothby's 1934 Boothby's World Drinks And How To Mix Them and found the Silver which caught my eye as a dry (vermouth) Martinez. While the original Martinez recipe utilized Boker's Bitters, I often prefer to make them with orange bitters like in the Silver instead of aromatic ones like Angostura for I find that the extra fruit note helps to accentuate the Maraschino as well as bring out the orange peel notes in the vermouth and gin. Moreover, Boker's Bitters were heavy on the orange peel so this preference has some historical foundation.
Once prepared, the Silver greeted the nose with a lemon oil bouquet. Next, the sip was rather crisp with light white wine notes, and the swallow shared juniper and nutty Maraschino flavors with an orange finish.