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Category Archives: Cocktails

Mexican Chocolate Toddy

At home and a little at work I’ve recently been working with chocolate in some of my drinks trying to find both a thicker desert style drink and also a hot seasonally appropriate but innovative drink that isn’t necessarily for after dinner. The following finds a happy medium between the two. After experimenting through a bottle or so and finding that chocolate for baking or eating doesn’t dissolve how I would like (it clumps and falls to the bottom, leaving an unsightly sludge of sweetness in the glass) and knowing that chocolate syrup isn’t the taste I was after I tried using some Fee Brother’s Chocolate Bitters. It worked like a charm, I had created a drink that was both chocolaty and transparent, without any unwanted sedimentation.

  • 2 oz cinnamon infused tequila*
  • .5 oz cayenne-thyme syrup
  • 6 dashes Fee Bro’s Chocolate Bitters
  • 15 drops Bitterman’s Habanero Shrub
  • 2-3 oz hot water (to taste)
  • 1 oz lightly whipped heavy cream
  • sprinkle of cinnamon

Build all of this in the order posted in a steaming hot footed glass mug, with the cream floating on top of the mixture and the cinnamon as a garnish. You can let the cream fall into the mixture, rounding out the flavor more over time, or you can mix it all together in the beginning, I prefer to let it sit and watch it change over the course of drinking it.

*For cost effectiveness I used Sauza Gold, to each 750ml bottle I added 10 cinnamon sticks and let sit 4-5 days until the tequila turned a dark reddish color.

The Season

After dinner the other night I was looking around the bar trying to figure out a good dessert/nightcap drink and came across this rye based darkly flavored concoction:

  • 2 Rye Whiskey
  • 1 Campari
  • .5 Creme de Cassis
  • 2 dashes Fee Brother’s Aztec Chocolate bitters
  • 1 dash Angostura

Stir all of this over ice and strain into an old fashioned glass, top with a twisted orange. This is definitely not a drink to have before a meal or during a hot day, this is much better on a cool night after a heavy meal.

Rhapsody in Orange

Here’s another strong but easy drinking one for summertime. This is a variation on a light rum old fashioned with the addition of some other liquors for some more layers of flavor:

  • 2 oz light rum
  • .5 oz cognac
  • .25 oz mint syrup
  • 2 dashes orange bitters
  • 1 dash old fashioned bitters
  • splash green Chartreuse
  • 1 lime wedge

Muddle the rum, cognac, and lime wedge, add the syrup and orange bitters. Wash a chilled coupe or cocktail glass in the Chartreuse, stir mixture over ice and strain, float a lime wheel on top and dash the old fashioned bitters on the wheel. If this is too strong or you want a highball feel free to put this on the rocks with some tonic, the base still shines through with a lot of character.

I’ve played with this a decent amount using both Remy Martin VSOP and Hennessy VS, peppermint syrup and chocolate mint syrup, Regan’s and Angostura orange bitters, and Fee Brother’s and Angostura old fashioned bitters, and both Chartreuses. My preference so far is with Hennessy, peppermint syrup, Angostura bitters for both kinds, and green Chartreuse. This makes for the most aromatic and layered cocktail in my opinion.

Lotus-eaters

I went on a prolific sake kick the other day and made so many new drinks that Bourbon is my Spinach will be putting out a short series of sake based cocktails. For part one, I present the Lotus-eaters, a sweet, earthy, and close-your-eyes-in-insouciance-for-the-external kind of drink:

noun: a person who leads a life of dreamy, indolent ease, indifferent to the busy world; daydreamer.

  • 2 oz nigori sake (I used Rihaku Dreamy Clouds)
  • 1/2 oz dry vermouth
  • 1/2 oz honey lavender syrup (equal parts honey and strong lavender tea)
  • 1 dash orange bitters
  • 1 dash black peppercorn/rosemary/grapefruit bitters
  • 2 slices cucumber

Muddle the cucumber into the sake and vermouth, add bitters and syrup, stir over ice and strain into chilled white wine glass, garnish with a lemon twist or floated cucumber slice. I recommend a wine glass so that the drink can be swirled as the solids in the sake will eventually start to sink to the bottom, though, the cocktail will also work in a coupe or cocktail glass.

In the Second Degree

Oh gin! I’ve waited all winter to pick you up from the store and order you in the bar, and it has been a long wait (Lou Reed sang a good blues about gin and how sad it is when its gone). Now your time is here though, here’s a take on a gin old fashioned:

  • 1.5 Bluecoat or similar gin
  • 2 splashes simple syrup
  • 2 splashes cognac
  • 1 splash orange juice
  • 2 dashes lemon bitters
  • 4-5 basil leaves

Muddle the basil and gin in a shaker, fill with ice, top with remaining ingredients, stir, and serve up. Garnish with a sprig of basil and orange twist for a smooth, slightly sweet creation.

Alex’s Two Wheels

With the blooming of all the dogwoods recently I felt compelled to make something that reminds me of growing up in Florida, so I grabbed some grapefruit juice and whiskey and started mixing:

  • 1.5 Rye Whiskey
  • .5 St. Germain
  • .25 coriander ginger syrup
  • 2 splashes grapefruit juice
  • 1 dash Peychaud’s bitters
  • 1 dash lemon bitters

Stir over ice and strain into chilled coupe glass. No garnish is needed, and this could also be served on the rocks as a punch. This is sweeter than most of my drinks, but not cloyingly so, with light citrus, and crisp.

The Seven-Jack-Deuce

This is an interesting drink for me, its the first time that I’ve intentionally introduced smoke into a drink. This starts with a light gin and citrus base and slides into a light herbal finish:

  • 1.75 Hendrick’s Gin
  • .5 ginger coriander syrup
  • .5 basil infused limoncello
  • .5 fresh lemon juice
  • 3 dashes Regan’s Orange bitters
  • sprig of rosemary

Take a large wineglass and turn it upside-down, burn the rosemary underneath it and catch the resulting smoke, do this until smoke is cascading out of the glass, then cover it with a napkin or coaster. Stir over ice the remaining ingredients until well chilled, carefully slide the cover of the glass open just enough to strain the drink into it, re-cover and let sit for at least 30-60 seconds. Serve. 

As this drink sits on your table more and more smoke is absorbed into it taking away the intense rosemary aroma and turning it into taste. Overall, this drink should be slowly enjoyed to get the full progression of flavor and aroma.

The Rosy Crucifixion

For the impending start of spring I figured that I would put out a champagne topped cocktail, but would keep it true to my own heart with a strong measure of whiskey:

  • 1.5 Bulleit bourbon
  • .5 Cointreau
  • 6 dashes Angostura
  • 6 dashes Peychauds
  • 4 champagne

Stir the first four ingredients over ice and pour into a white wine glass (a flute won’t hold the whole cocktail), top with the champagne, and garnish with a healthy lemon twist. Cheers.

George’s Last Word

In case you haven’t noticed, there has been a revival of classic cocktails going on for quite a while now, one of these gems is the Last Word. This is a great prohibition era drink that came from the Detroit Athletic Club and is now pretty popular in Seattle. I was charged with selling through the Galliano at my bar, which is no easy task because nobody really ever wants a Harvey Wallbanger. So I tweaked the Last Word to make it my own and toss another bottle into the recycling:

  • .75 gin
  • .75 Galliano
  • .75 Maraschino
  • .75 lime juice
  • splash Fernet Branca

Shake the first four over ice and strain into a chilled, Fernet washed, cocktail glass. This variant is much more neon in color than the original, which calls for Green Chartreuse instead of Galliano and Fernet Branca.

On a side note, Fernet is an amazing Italian Amaro, with some great notes of pretty much everything. It is the everlasting gobstopper of liqueurs, nobody quite gets the same flavor profile. For a different approach and a nice dram of healthy absurdity check out an interesting take on Fernet, from a blog focused on ferns by a friend of mine.

Lemon Haze

This here is a variation of the The Mother-in-Law, inasmuch as it uses citrus, bitter orange liqueur, and Chartreuse. This concoction is a bit lighter and more easy going though, as it can be served on the rocks or punch style if you prefer:

  •  1.5 oz white rum
  • .75 Cointreau
  • .5 Green Chartreuse 
  • .5 Lemon juice
  • .25 Aperol (or Campari if Aperol isn’t available)

Build in ice filled shaker, shake, and strain into chilled cocktail glass, float a lemon wheel on top (or pour into old fashioned glass and garnish with lemon wedge, a sprig of your favorite aromatic herb, or a few brandied cherries).

Drinking this is like having a tart lemonade in an herb garden and it goes quite well with fish and lighter fried foods. It’s also easy to batch this up to make enough for a punch bowl or a picnic. I am also going to try making this without the rum and using it either as a marinade for fish or as the base of a lemon caper sauce.

Enjoy.

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