Jan 082011

This is a prohibition era cocktail that is making a very deserved comeback. It came out of Harry Craddock’s guide, and was rediscovered and repopularized by Ted Haigh.

The recipe is quite simple, as it’s the same quantity of each of the four main ingredients – gin, Lillet blanc, triple sec, and lemon juice.  Plus a little absinthe or absinthe substitute and an optional garnish. This also makes it very easy to scale up for batches, which I did earlier for my ultimate frisbee winter league team. Got some good reception there.

The Recipe:

  • 3/4 oz gin
  • 3/4 oz Lillet blanc
  • 3/4 oz triple sec or Cointreau
  • 3/4 oz lemon juice
  • a few drops of Absinthe or Absinthe substitute (I rinsed the glass with Herbsaint)

The cocktail has been covered by a few – Cocktail Enthusiast, Chuck Taggart, Serious Eats, and others. They all recommend a cherry as a garnish, but each of their pictures shows a commercial maraschino cherry. I’m not a big fan of those. But the cherries that I make are soaked in either brandy, Maraschino liqueur, or bourbon. (More on those in a future post…) I might make a batch soaked in kirsch or something light some day, but until then, I’ll save the cherries for manhattans and old fashioneds.

Kaiser Penguin dedicated some time (and liver) to trying out a few different recipes, and is to be commended. He seems to have more of a taste for the herbs than I do, and I prefer the floral notes, so would keep the Absinthe to a minimum. Married with Dinner suggested a dried cherry that had been revived in a pastis like Pernod. A creative idea, but I think that if and when I garnish this, I’m going to go with an orange peel to pick up the citrus a bit – I’m in good company on this with Randy from SummitSips and Imbibe Magazine (who have a video for this).


 Posted by at 6:37 am
Jun 292010

Okay, I got intrigued about the Aviation Cocktail. And I like the thought of floral notes on top of the floral/herbal notes of gin, so I got me some crème de violette tried a few recipes out.

Aviation Cocktail, from the SF Chronicle (also in Chron.com from Houston):
1.5 oz gin (Gordon’s London Dry)
0.5 oz maraschino liqueur (Luxardo)
0.5 oz crème de violette (Rothman & Winter)
0.5 oz lemon juice (Meyer lemons)

Shake with ice (you’ve got 1/2 oz of juice in there!), and strain into chilled cocktail glass.

Not bad. Flowery, of course, but pretty well balanced. Very nice on a relaxed summer day – not something you want more than one of, but with a light cheese and cracker appetizer, or green grapes – quite refreshing. I’d even consider popping a green grape in the glass as a garnish.

Aviatrix Cocktail from Food52.com, by way of Cooking4theWeek (to which I intend to return again and again…):
2 oz gin
1 oz Lillet Blanc
1 teaspoon crème de violette
2 dashes citrus bitters (Regan’s orange)
lemon twist as garnish

Stir over ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Add the garnish.

This one just brought out too many floral notes, and tasted like perfume. Food52.com’s recipe called for lemon bitters, but I don’t think that would have saved the drink for me.


The Attention Cocktail from SpiritsAndCocktails:
2 oz gin
0.25 oz absinthe (Lucid)
0.25 oz dry vermouth (Noilly-Prat)
0.25 oz crème de violette
2 dashes Regan’s orange bitters

Not bad, not bad. The anise is prominent, of course, but there’s a lot going on in this drink, so it’s not totally dominating. But this is about crème de violette, not absinthe. A one-off drink (not one you’d have more than one of), but should be enjoyed only before a strong flavored meal – roast beef with horseradish or goose maybe.

Aside: I’m still looking for an absinthe cocktail I can really enjoy. I loves me a nice Sazerac, but that only rinses the glass in absinthe (or absinthe substitute). I tried Death in the Afternoon – a good shot of absinthe under a couple ounces of champagne, but that didn’t thrill me either. Papa Hemingway did stipulate drinking 3 to 5 of those, so maybe I just didn’t go far enough.

Okay, Mr. Regan – you got something for me?

The Moonlight Cocktail
1.5 oz gin (he says “Beefeater, Plymouth, or Tanqueray”, but I had Gordon’s. So there.)
0.5 oz cointreau
0.5 oz crème de violette
0.5 oz fresh lime juice

Shake over ice for 15 seconds, then into a chilled champagne flute. I used a martini cocktail glass. Seemed to work okay.

This has been my favorite so far. The double floral hit of gin and violets is balanced by the citrus in the lime juice and the cointreau. The tongue gets most of the citrus, but the upper palate feels the floral tones. I’ll be back again for this.

Yale Cocktail – back to Cooking4TheWeek
2oz gin
1/3 oz dry vermouth
1/3 oz crème de violette
dash bitters (aromatic – went with the local (as in made by a friend down the street) 60 First Street bitters)

Stir with ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Puts you in the mind of a flowery martini. The recipe crafter (Haus Alpenz credited) balances the floral with the bitters. Not bad. I would try this one again.

Jupiter Cocktail from SFBartending.com (a different balance found at 1001Cocktails)
0.75 oz gin
0.5 oz dry vermouth
2 tsp crème de violette
2 tsp orange juice

Shake over ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass.

Not awful, but kind of a Martinez on its way to a Martini, but jumped in the parking lot by a screwdriver (and beaten badly). Juice was store bought, I admit, but this was not what I wanted. Not as bad as the Aviatrix, but taste was reminiscent of fancy soap.

Soooo, after all of these (and frequently more than one), I still have 7/8 of a bottle of Rothman & Winter staring at me.

Nothing really grabbed me here, but enough pleasant options that could be served as entertaining, if not novelty, drinks. And all except the Jupiter, which came out grey, were quite pretty purple/lavender hues. I’d be happy, and confident, serving up an Aviation or a Moonlight Cocktail to you, next time you’re over.


Feb 072010

This is an original recipe from the author of my bartender’s guide. Tasty, light, refreshing and not too alcoholic. Perfect for a summer day, even though we had it on a cold February evening.

1 1/2 oz gin
2 oz guava nectar
1/2 oz fresh lime juice
1 oz pomegranate syrup
3 to 4 oz chilled club soda
Lime wheel for garnish

Shake the gin, guava nectar, lime juice and pomegranate syrup vigorously with ice. Strain into an ice filled highball glass, top with club soda. Garnish with lime wheel. Also called for an orange blossom garnish, but seriously, get over yourself.

 Posted by at 12:53 pm
Jan 222010

With winter clementines available, my wife took notice of this recipe in Bon Appetit.

Good, but we thought it was still a little too bitter. Those of you who are big fans of Campari may wish to stick with the original recipe, but we found that adding some Grand Marnier adds just enough sweet and makes for a truly delicious cocktail. A sugar rim can do the same trick.

I made a pitcher of them for friends and found that using a juicer instead of muddling the clementines did the drink no harm whatsoever.

Final recipe (makes 2):


    * 3 clementines, peeled
    * 3 dashes of orange bitters (Regan’s)
    * 1/4 cup Hendrick’s Gin
    * 1/4 cup Campari
    * 1/8 cup Grand Marnier
    * 3 tablespoons sweet vermouth
    * Ice cubes
    * 2 clementine slices (for garnish)

special equipment

    * Cocktail shaker


       Place 3 whole peeled clementines and orange bitters in cocktail shaker and muddle until clementines are broken down. Add gin, Campari, Grand Marnier and vermouth. Fill shaker 3/4 full with ice. Shake vigorously 30 seconds. Strain into 2 Martini glasses, dividing equally. Garnish each with clementine slice.