Wednesday, August 24, 2016

oaxacan old fashioned

2 oz Los Altos Reposado Tequila
1/2 El Buho Mezcal
1/2 oz Agave Syrup (1:1)
2 dash Bittermens Mole Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a Double Old Fashioned glass with a large ice cube. Flame an orange twist over the top and discard.

For my second drink at Backbar as part of Sam Cronin's "First 50" exercise, I asked him for a Oaxacan Old Fashioned -- a drink that I have had but strangely have never entered into the blog. The drink was created by Phil Ward circa 2007 while at Death & Co., and the recipe eventually landed in Food & Wine: Cocktails 2011 (among other places). In that book, Phil explained, "This was one of the first cocktails I made using mezcal; I realized that combining mezcal with tequila was like putting tequila on steroids. Most tequila in the U.S. is only 80 proof, and I wanted more oomph! I discovered the oomph in mezcal." The recipe in that book utilized Angostura Bitters for the Bittermens' production of bitters had not been producing in any scale in 2007 (but was definitely around in 2011) as well as a half ounce less of tequila.
The Oaxacan Old Fashioned here presented orange and vegetal agave aromas. Next, the rich sip from the agave nectar led into smoky chocolate and agave flavors on the swallow. Overall, rather simple yet satisfying even as the large ice cube melted down.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

union mule

1 1/2 oz Beefeater Gin
1/2 oz Laird's Applejack
1/2 oz St. Germain
1/2 oz Lemon Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a rocks glass with 1 oz ginger beer. Add ice cubes and float a barspoon of Batavia Arrack.

Two Tuesdays ago, I headed down to Backbar where bartender Sam Cronin was doing his "50 Firsts". The point of the exercise is Backbar's way of training and testing all of their bartenders to make 50 house favorites that include classics and house originals by having friends, regulars, and other bar patrons order and cross off drinks on a list. I arrived shortly after open to get the pick of the litter and I started with one that I had never had before, their Union Mule. The Backbar webpage blog in September 2012 declared, "Or come have our most popular cocktail at Backbar, the Union Mule. So far, two thousand, four hundred and seventy three made and counting. This blend of Beefeater Gin, apple brandy, St-Germain, fresh lemon juice, and house made ginger beer is unbeatable!" Regardless of how their riff on the Moscow Mule sold that many in the 8 or 9 months that they were open (which would only be 10 per day), I had somehow skipped over the drink in favor of the Model T on their opening menu. When I saw the recipe written down, it did remind me of the Pink Lady in structure.
I put Sam to the task, and the Mule he presented me with offered a ginger spice and Batavia Arrack funk bouquet. Next, a lemon and pear flavored sip led into gin, apple, floral, and ginger aromas.

Monday, August 22, 2016

summertime sling

2 oz Bombay Sapphire Gin
1/2 oz St. Germain
1 1/2 oz Watermelon Juice
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Simple Syrup
10 drop Orange Blossom Water

Shake with ice and strain into a Collins glass with 1 1/2 oz soda water. Top with ice cubes and garnish with mint.

For a second drink at the Baldwin Bar at Sichuan Garden II, Andrea asked for what turned out to be one of the most refreshing drinks of the summer, namely the Summertime Sling. Bartender Vannaluck Hongthong described how it was his creation in collaboration with fellow bartender Mick Kellogg. Watermelon juice has been quite successful in several drinks that I have had including Kolb's Gem, Corpse Reviver #33, and Sip Sip Hooray due to its interaction with herbal liqueurs.
The Summertime Sling presented a rather summery mint and watermelon aroma. Next, carbonated watermelon and lemon notes filled the sip, and the swallow was a combination of floral, watermelon, and gin flavors with an orange blossom finish. Indeed, I was rather impressed at how well the watermelon paired with the elderflower liqueur with perhaps an assist from the orange blossom aspect, and Andrea commented about how the whole drink reminded her of jasmine.

Sunday, August 21, 2016


1 1/2 oz Angel's Envy Bourbon
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Orange Juice
1/2 oz Pineapple Juice
1/2 oz Grenadine
2 dash Angostura Bitters

Shake with ice and strain into a glass. Garnish with an orange peel-cherry flag.

For my second drink at the Baldwin Bar at Sichuan Garden II, I asked bartender Vannaluck Hongthong for the Halekulani. Van explained that it was his take on the Tiki classic that he pulled off of the Beachbum Berry app, and he mentioned that he upped the grenadine here and dropped the demerara from the original. The drink itself was first crafted at the House without a Key Lounge in the Halekulani Hotel in Waikiki circa the 1930s. One reason that I had skipped this in the Beachbum Berry books is that it called for okolehao, the Hawaiian moonshine of sorts (there are a few legally distilled bottlings though) made from the root of the ti plant, and it listed Bourbon as a possible substitution. Overall, the Halekulani with whiskey reminded me of a Tikified Ward Eight with the addition of pineapple juice and bitters; interestingly, Yvonne's Ward Eight utilized pineapple as a garnish in an intermediary step between the two ideas.
The Halekulani proffered an orange and cherry aroma that led into a lemon and pineapple sip. Finally, the swallow began with Bourbon, orange, and pineapple notes and ended with clove and allspice from the bitters.

rumble bee

1 oz El Dorado 12 Year Rum
1 oz Old Monk Rum
1/2 oz Amontillado Sherry
1/2 oz Pedro Ximenez Sherry
2 dash Fee's Whiskey Barrel Aged Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a Double Old Fashioned glass. Fill with ice and garnish with a lemon oil from a twist.

At the Baldwin Bar at Sichuan Garden II, Andrea started with a more straight spirits drink called the Rumble Bee. Bartender Vannaluck Hongthong described how this recipe was Nika Orlovsky's first menu contribution; she originally had Benedictine and the PX sherry, but it was too sweet, so she switched to two sherries and utilized amontillado's drying qualities. Overall, it reminded me of a split rum and split sherry Arawak from 1940s era Trader Vic books.
The Rumble Bee's lemon oil brightened up the dark aroma from the rums and sherries. Next, the rums' caramel and the sherries' grape filled the sip, and the swallow was rather cola-like with rum, raisin, and nutty flavors with a cinnamon-driven spiced finish.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

jamaican bobsled

1 1/2 oz Smith & Cross Rum
3/4 oz Lime Juice
3/4 oz Pineapple Juice
3/4 oz Cinnamon Syrup
1/4 oz Allspice Dram

Shake with ice and strain into a rock glass. Fill with crushed ice and garnish with an edible orchid.

Two Mondays ago, Andrea and I ventured up to Woburn to pay homage at the Baldwin Bar at Sichuan Garden II. For a first drink, I asked bartender Tyler Benfield for the Jamaican Bobsled off of the menu. From the ingredients list, I knew that this was a different Jamaican Bobsled than the one created at Drink which took a more ginger and chocolate route. Instead, bartender Vannaluck Hongthong provided the back history that this one was created by Mick Kellogg as a spiced-up pineapple Daiquiri.
The Jamaican Bobsled shared a floral, cinnamon, and pineapple bouquet. The pineapple continued on into the sip where it was complemented by the lime, and the swallow offered up funky rum and allspice flavors with a growing cinnamon aspect on the finish.

rock island

2/3 Rye Whiskey (1 1/2 oz Sazerac)
1/3 Sweet Vermouth (1 oz Alessio)
1 dash Crème de Cassis (1/4 oz Massenez)
1 dash Picon Bitters (1/4 oz Amer Picon)

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

Two Sundays ago, I returned to Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars: 1903-1933 to find any gems that I had passed over. The Rock Island caught my eye as a Liberal Cocktail (essentially a Manhattan embittered with Picon) darkened by black currant liqueur, and that darkening effect worked well in the Sweet Martini dubbed the Marblehead from that same tome. My best guest as to what the drink is named after is the city in Illinois located the largest island on the Mississippi River; the most notable business there is the largest government-owned weapons manufacturing plant, the Rock Island Arsenal, that is famous for their 1911 series of handguns.
After stirring and straining, the Rock Island greeted the nose with dark berry and rye aromas. Next, caramel, malt, grape, and dark berry mingled in the sip, and the swallow was rye forward and accented by bitter orange and black currant notes.

Friday, August 19, 2016


3/4 oz Lemon Juice
3/4 oz Licor 43
1/2 oz Barenjager
1 1/2 oz Light Puerto Rican Rum (1 oz Caliche Rum + 1/2 oz Cuca Cresca Cachaça)

Blend 5 seconds with 8 oz crushed ice and pour into a Pilsner glass (shake with ice, strain into a Tiki mug, and fill with crushed ice).

Two Saturdays ago, I decided to make one of the drinks in Beachbum Berry's Remixed, the Beachnik, that I had skipped over previously. However, when it had popped up on someone else's Instagram, I figured that it was worth a try putting my dusty bottles of Licor 43 and Barenjager to work. I figured that this 2004 creation was a reference to Beachbum Berry; however, the term "beachnik" certainly dates back to at least 1960 given H. Allen Smith's Waikiki Beachnik book as a hybrid of beachbum and beatnik.
The Beachnik presented a mint and floral aroma from the garnishes I added that might have masked the rather honey aroma that I detected while shaking the drink. The honey did appear on the sip where it mingled with the lemon, and the swallow offered a pleasant combination of rum, vanilla, and spice.


The theme for this month's Mixology Monday (MxMo CX) was pickled, er... picked by Adam of the Mr. Muddle blog. The theme he chose was "Vinegar," and he elaborated on the concept with his description of, "Earlier this summer I went berry picking with the family, and we ended up with a quart of strawberries. If you don't know exactly how many berries are in a quart, let me assure you it's a lot. Obviously some of these were earmarked for cocktail usage, but I wanted to do more than garnishes and muddling. Enter the shrub, also known as drinking vinegar. The combination of fruit, sugar and vinegar has been around for centuries, particularly popular in Colonial America. While these are delicious with a splash of soda on the rocks, they bring a fresh, bright flavor when combined with spirits... This got me thinking -- how else are people incorporating vinegar into their drinks? And why stop at shrubs? For this month's MxMo, let's make the whole range of vinegary things fair game."
In thinking about this theme, I did two things: reaching for Michael Dietsch's Shrubs book and rooting around in the back of the fridge to see what shrubs I had available. In Dietsch's book, I honed in on the shrub-Negroni hybrid, the Shrugroniz, that offered up a lot of flexibility with the call for a fruit shrub of any type. In the back of my fridge, I found bottles of strawberry, mulberry, and kiwi shrubs. With disbelief, I tasted the strawberry one and it still tasted rather good for having been bottled on August 14th, 2009. Yes, the Colonial folks were on to something with their preservation methods since the flavor was still intact (albeit not as bright and vibrant) 7 years later! Strawberry and Negronis have been paired in my mind since I tried the Sbagliato Grosso from Left Coast Libations.
• 1 oz London Dry Gin (Beefeater)
• 1 oz Sweet Vermouth (Tempus Fugit's Alessio)
• 1 oz Campari
• 1/2 oz Fruit Shrub (Strawberry)
Stir with ice and strain either into a rocks glass filled with ice or into a cocktail glass (cocktail coupe, served up and garnished with a floated strawberry slice).
The Shrugroniz greeted the nose with a strawberry aroma that was accented by Campari's bitter herbal notes. Next, the sip was an elegant pairing of grape and berry flavors, and the swallow began with gin and a strawberry-bitter orange combination and ended with a light vinegar tang. With the shrub, the drink was not as sweet as it would have been with a fruit syrup, and in fact, it might have been slightly drier than the classic.

So thank you to Adam for hosting this excellent theme and bringing back Mixology Monday from its hangover rest, and thank you to the rest of the Mixology Monday participants who keep the shakers shaking and the mixing spoons swirling each and (almost) every month! Cheers!