Nov 282012

San Francisco Winter League for Ultimate Frisbee is back in the swing of things. I am still knocking of the rust from my body and getting in shape, and getting back into the groove of making large batches of cocktails for my team after the games. (The theme for team names this year is Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, and our team is named after an incidental character, Gogrilla Mincefriend.)

Last night, despite forgetting some equipment, I was able to put together some Eastern Sours for us. This is one of the fantastic Bourbon and Lime Juice combinations (besides the Ninth Ward). Both are on the sweet side, but they have the tart lime juice undercutting them.

Eastern Sour

  • 2 oz Bourbon (Bulleit)
  • 1.5 oz Orange Juice
  • 1 oz Lime Juice
  • 0.25 oz Orgeat
  • 0.25 oz Simple Syrup
  • Lime Wedge, for garnish

Shake all ingredients over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with lime wedge.

If this is a little too sweet for you, drop off the simple syrup, as the Orgeat is quite sweet on its own.

Speaking of Orgeat, the Trophy Wife and I were in Paris a few weeks ago, and went into The Experimental Cocktail Club on the recommendation of friends. Paris is not quite a cocktail city – at one place I had to teach the bartender how to make a Martini. There are, however, amazing exceptions, including The Experimental Cocktail Club. They had a cocktail they called “Inna da house”, which we tried despite the name and it was fantastic, in no small part due to the house made Orgeat which was both fresh and super creamy so it gave the drink a foamy head as though they had used an egg white. I’ll be working on recreating that soon.


 Posted by at 10:11 am
Jul 122011

This is a winner.

I’ve broken it out at a few events, and got instant responses – one person said “I’ve found my drink” after only a couple sips. If you are partial to browns and like your citrus, step on over to this. Even if you don’t, and one of my sisters-in-law does not like Bourbon at all, had one after tasting her husband’s.

Scofflaw Cocktail
1.5 oz Bourbon (Bulleit)
1 oz dry vermouth (Dolin)
.5 oz grenadine (homemade – that will be my next post)
.5 oz lemon juice
2 dashes orange bitters (Regan’s Orange Bitters No. 6)

Shake with ice, strain into chilled cocktail glass or rocks glass, garnish with lemon peel.

It’s got the core of a whiskey sour, but added herbal elements from the vermouth and more fruit sweetness from the grenadine.

This recipe is closest to Imbibe‘s, but I dropped down the grenadine and lemon juice and switched from rye to bourbon. Gary Regan published this calling for 2 oz of bourbon, but dropped the lemon juice to 1/2 oz and grenadine to 1/4 oz and has orange bitters, but I thought that was a tad too bitter and too boozy. Erik Ellestad followed Harry Craddock’s recipe strictly – that equalizes the whisky (not the lack of an ‘e’ – Canadian Whisky) and vermouth and keeps bitters in.

So I like it at this level, but if you want it a bit stronger, take the Bourbon up to 2 ounces and the lemon juice and grenadine up to 3/4 of an ounce for each.

The Trophy Wife likes to corrupt everything with a sweet Maraschino Cherry, so I’m going to have to order the Amarena Fabbri again, but I’m going to work on making our own cherries, more on the next post.




 Posted by at 12:19 am
Nov 172010

About time, dammit. Close to a year after the first Manhattan Project. This one was scheduled for National Martini Day 2010.

The last one was variations in bitters and vermouth. This one was some change up in the base liquor (a couple bourbons and a rye), aromatic bitters, and cherries.

The cast is was a little bigger this time – myself, Duke, Ben T. Smith, Adam Nelson, and Gabriel Kra. So each round saw five variations on the recipe. Stayed with 2 parts base liquor, 1 part vermouth, 2 dashes bitters, and a cherry.

First we tried an array of bourbons – Bulleit, Maker’s 46, Woodford Reserve, and Redemption Rye. Vermouths were either Martini & Rossi or Punt e Mes. Stayed with Angostura bitters and bing cherries that had been cured in sugar and brandy.

Only the fifth manhattan used Punt e Mes – I had suspected before that the vermouth would be to aggressive and flavorful and would overpower the liquor (as I mused previously). That was the consensus among the tasters – Punt e Mes is delicious, but not in this drink at this proportion. Maybe cut in half…

So among the first round drinks – I didn’t get Gabriel’s vote here, but three of us (myself, Ben S, and Adam) all preferred the Redemption Rye. Duke liked the Woodford Reserve, but Redemption was a close second for him.

That result skewed the second round a bit. Went with Maker’s 46 for two manhattans and Redemption Rye for 3, each with Martini & Rossi, but this time with some house made aromatic bitters (I’ll see if Adam will divulge the recipe) except for one that stayed with Angostura, and the cherries were either sugared and brandied, or brined and brandied.

The easiest to record is the cherry – everyone preferred the saltiness of the brined cherries. If I am recalling correctly, I added the whole fruits (pits and stem and all) into nearly boiling heavily salted water. After soaking them overnight, I removed them and cured them in a spiced brandy mix (cinnamon, allspice, citrus rind) for several months.

Duke and Gabriel both preferred the Maker’s 46 manhattan by a little bit, while Adam and team Ben all went for the Redemption manhattan. The choice was pretty clear between the Angostura bitters and Adam’s “60 First Street” bitters as well – Adam’s balanced things out the best.

Thanksgiving dinner will be preceded by Redemption manhattans with brined cherries and Adam’s bitters. Looking forward to that.



Oct 292010

This is a nice variation on the Manhattan from Dale DeGroff’s The Essential Cocktail: The Art of Mixing Perfect Drinks. Gary Regan had a background write up of this recipe as well.

It takes a couple special ingredients – ginger liqueur, the best marketed brand right now is Domaine de Canton, and dry sake. Duke has used some Domaine de Canton in a previous recipe, and it was his bar that was raided to for this purpose…

2.5 oz Bourbon
0.5 oz Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur
0.5 oz dry sake
2 dashes orange bitters (Regan’s Orange Bitters No. 6)
Flamed orange peel for garnish

Stir over ice 30 seconds or so, strain into chilled cocktail glass.

I’d recommend a smokier bourbon for this – Maker’s Mark or Knob Creek would make it too sweet. I’d go for Bulleit or Buffalo Trace. It’s a very complicated, balanced drink with the ginger and the orange and the sake. Both warm and crisp at the same time. Great for a late evening.

Oct 062010

This come from Char No. 4 in Brooklyn. If you want to see an awkward video about it, you can go here or here.

If you just want the recipe, here:

1.5 oz Bourbon (something strong & smokey – like Buffalo Trace)
0.5 oz maple syrup (grade B, for fuller flavor)
0.5 oz fresh lime juice
a little ginger beer or ginger ale

Shake the first three ingredients with ice. Strain into rocks glass with fresh ice in it. Top with ginger beer.

I’ve been using a strong ginger beer – Fever Tree brand – which is quite ginger-y. So go easy on that, maybe 1/4 of an ounce or 1/2 at most.

It’s an interesting balance – the lime bitterness cuts through the maple syrup sweetness, and they neutralize each other’s main aspect, but the citrus and smokiness of the syrup are still there, and they go well with a bourbon that’s aggressive enough to make its presence known.

Surprisingly, the Trophy Wife kinda liked this one, even though she drinks very little of the browns (except for the occasional sidecar).

Ginger ale will make it more of a spritzer for a hot day, but the bourbon/lime/maple syrup flavors should hold up okay.

I’m really liking this for a Bay Area autumn day, when it’s kinda warm, but kinda chilly, and can’t make up its mind.


Sep 172010

This is tasty.

2 oz Bourbon (Bulleit)
1/2 oz Sweet Vermouth
1/2 oz Benedictine
2 dashes bitters
Lemon twist

Add all except the lemon twist to a pitcher or shaker with ice. Stir and strain into cocktail glass and add lemon twist. For a rocks version, just build in a rocks glass with ice and add garnish.

I found this at Cocktail Times – unfortunately the site does not seem to be fully maintained.

Manhattany at heart, but the botanicals from the Benedictine and the citrus from the twist make this quite crisp and refreshing. Just the right amount of complexity and heartiness.


Sep 172010

This is National Bourbon Heritage month – I think that’s the right title. So I’ve been working my way through some bourbon drinks.

I was thinking of doing a different cocktail for every night of the month, but that’s going to take a bit more planning. Next year.

But I have been running through some standards – Manhattans, Mint Juleps, Old Fashioneds. Here’s the first of a few about some bourbon-based drinks that were new to me.

Seelbach Cocktail

Named after the Seelbach Hotel in Louisville, KY, this has a story behind it of a bartender with an overflowing bottle of champagne that poured into a Manhattan, which was then modified. The actual recipe had been tightly controlled until recently when it was published in New Classic Cocktails by Gary and Mardee Haidin Regan. It has found its way onto a few other sites since then. So here’s what I got:

1 oz bourbon
1/2 oz cointreau
7 dashes Angostura bitters
7 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
5 ounces chilled champagne
orange twist for garnish

Build the drink in a champagne flute, stirring before adding the champagne.

It’s a bit intense. Too intense for me, and I loves me the bitter. The Regans specify a feisty, pre-prohibition style bourbon, like Old Forester. I had Bulleit on hand, which is a reasonable hearty whisky, so I don’t think I was too far off with it. But I didn’t taste the bourbon and the bitters were too much.

For the second batch, I doubled the bourbon to 2 oz, and cut the bitters way down to 3 dashes each. That was pretty tasty. A more reasonably balanced drink. Worth a try, if you’ve got some bubbly that needs drinking.

I haven’t had great luck with champagne cocktails in general, ‘cept Mimosas, of course, and the occasional Kir Royale. That might just be me. I’ll keep on trying though!


May 242010

What? This thing is still on?

Sorry about the radio silence for a while. Rest assured, I have been drinking, just not logging all of it. Thanks for stepping up there, Duke.

I have a small backlog of drinks to enter over the next week, so warm up your livers.

First is a Kentucky Sidecar. The classic sidecar, a delicious drink on its own, is 1.5oz brandy, .75 oz lemon juice, and .75 oz triple sec/cointreau shaken over ice, then poured into a sugar rimmed martini glass. If you’re not familiar with it yet, make a batch to get a baseline before you have one of these.

There, ready now?

Kentucky Sidecar
1.5 oz Bourbon (Rye is nice too)
1 oz fresh Tangerine Juice
0.5 oz fresh Lemon Juice
0.75 oz Triple Sec/Cointreau
Tangerine twist

Moisten the rim of your chilled martini glass with tangerine juice, then dip in sugar.
Shake all the liquid ingredients over ice, then pour into prepared glass.
Garnish with twist of tangerine peel.

I found this at White On Rice Couple’s website – they do drinks, food, gardening, and photography:

Tangerines are a little out of season here (late spring in Oakland, CA), but still available as juice. I tried muddling the whole fruit, but that’s not so efficient (or easy to pour).

The last time I mixed a drink with tangerine juice, the original recipe was for orange juice (and dark rum and grenadine and something else I forget…), and I just subbed out the oj for tangerine juice. That didn’t quite work, and I silently vowed that the next cocktail I would pair it with gin – the sweetness of the tangerine juice mixed with the floral notes of juniper and herbs – and I’m still excited for that. But the balance of the lemon juice, tangerine juice, and triple sec is just right.

Dec 142009

Mmmm. Love the Manhattan Cocktail.

Chance came on Thanksgiving Day, 2009, to try a couple variations on the basic bourbon manhattan. I had two companions in the tasting – my brother in law Rob, and his friend Dean. Forgive me if I cannot recapture in words all the subtle nuances of all the flavors, but we did sample six different recipes.

The classic recipe:
2 oz bourbon or blended whiskey (that night, all Maker’s Mark)
1 oz sweet vermouth (Martini & Rossi)
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 maraschino cherry for garnish

Round 1

A set of simple variations:

  1. The classic manhattan
  2. The perfect manhattan (substitute 1/2 oz of the sweet vermouth with 1/2 oz dry vermouth (Noilly Prat here)
  3. The classic but with 1 dash Angostura bitter and 1 dash of Peychaud’s bitters

Between these three, it was a very close race. I had a slight preference for the classic  recipe’s balance with this bourbon, with the perfect manhattan coming a very close second. The Peychaud’s added a bit of an unfamiliar twist – one most welcome in a Sazerac, but not quite right with the manhattan.

We each tasted each of the three options, then each chose one to drink.

Round 2

Three slightly more creative recipes:

  1. The classic, but replace all the bitters with Blood Orange Bitters from Stirrings.
  2. A recipe described in Gary Regan’s The Joy of Mixology – “Kentucky’s Best”. See below.
  3. One that I dreamed up, splitting the vermouth to 1/2 oz sweet vermouth and 1/2 oz Campari

These three all drifted much farther afield from what my mouth was prepared for. Not quite bad drinks, but not “to style”.

The one that, to me, bordered on unpleasant, was the 3rd. 1/2 oz of Campari was too much in there. I loves me the Negroni (equal parts gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari – we’ll talk about this drink in another post), but it destroyed the balance here. I’ll try again using a dash or two of Campari to replace the bitters at some other date.

The second was also a little unusual. In fairness, I did use a “vintage” port instead of a ruby, and Maker’s Mark instead of Knob Creek. Both Maker’s and Knob are on the sweeter side for bourbons, so kinda comparable. There was just too much going on in this drink.

Finally, the orange bitters didn’t quite taste right in this. I’ll mix it up again some time, but Round 1 recipes all were preferable to the Round 2 drinks.

The variables that we left for future testings:

  • Bourbons – Knob Creek, Maker’s Mark, Heaven Hill, Woodford Reserve, Wild Turkey, and so many others…
  • Blended Whiskies/Whiskeys – Canadian or not, with varying amounts of rye
  • Sweet Vermouth balances – reducing by 1/4 or 1/2 an ounce when mixing with sweeter Bourbons or increasing

So, as you may have guessed by the “Part 1” in the header, this will be an recurring project, with time to “clear the palate” (i.e. recover from the hangover) in between.

Finally, that recipe for “Kentucky’s Best” Manhattan recipe – it’s available through Google books, but here it is directly:

2 ounces Knob Creek bourbon
1/4 oz maraschino cherry juice
3 dashes ruby port
3 dashes Martini & Rossi sweet vermouth
2 dashes creme de cassis
1 dash Angostura bitters
1 maraschino cherry, for garnish
Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Add the garnish.