May 192017

Hi. Been a while.

So for those who are not keeping up, I’ve left the programming world (mostly) for the world of professional bartending.

This was a rather dramatic change – going from thinking that I knew a fair amount about something to seeing how much there is actually to know. I’ve learned a bit in the last 4 years or so. Lots about spirits and cocktails, and even more about bartending and being in the service industry. I’ll reminisce a bit at some point.

I’m going to try to use this now more for my own continuing education and collecting resources than for sharing. But if you see something you like, let me know. If you see something that needs correction or elaboration, definitely let me know.


 Posted by at 2:55 pm
Nov 222012

Manhattans always appealed to me as a pre-turkey drink. Got together with the in-laws (Rob and Tane) and their in-laws (David and Maki) and tried out a couple variations. Rob brought along his ingredients for a Red Hook, and I brought makings for a Leaving Manhattan, and we ended up with two bottles of Rittenhouse 100 and two bottles of Punt e Mes. Then the ingredients got different – Rob going with Maraschino Liqueur and a traditional cherry garnish, me adding crème de cacao, a tea syrup, and an orange peel garnish.

Red Hook

  • 2 oz Rye (Rittenhouse 100)
  • 0.5 oz Punt e Mes
  • 0.25 oz Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
  • Cherry garnish (used sweet and delicious Amarena Fabbri cherries)

Stir first three ingredients with ice until well chilled, strain into chilled cocktail glass, and garnish with cherry.

This is a good variation. Punt e Mes can be overly powerful, so I like dropping the vermouth element down to 1/2 oz, and then adding the Maraschino Liqueur, which brings a sophisticated cherry sweetness with a distinctive tang to the party. Rittenhouse is spicy and comes in hot at 100 proof, and either needs to be tamed, or, as in this case, challenged with the right balance of other distinctive flavors. This is a little more dry, but quite tasty.

Then, we tried the Leaving Manhattan that was recently featured by Gary Regan in the SF Chronicle. I made the alterations as described in parentheses.

Leaving Manhattan

  • 2 oz bourbon (I used 1.75 oz Rittenhouse Rye 100)
  • 0.5 oz Punt e Mes
  • 0.25 oz dark crème de cacao
  • 0.25 oz Lapsang smoked tea syrup (described below, but I used Formosa Oolong, as I had no Lapsang Souchon in the house)
  • 2 dashes orange bitters
  • orange twist as garnish

Stir the liquid ingredients in a mixing glass until well chilled, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, garnish with orange twist (removed over the finished drink so that the most oils are caught in the drink).

To make the tea syrup – add 4 oz (1/2 cup) sugar to 4 oz (1/2 cup) strong, hot, fresh-brewed tea.

Since the rye was going to be tighter and dryer than a bourbon, and hotter as well, I dropped it down 1/4 ounce. I want to try it with the smoky Lapsang tea, but I’m probably going to cut that with a less aggressive tea. But a little smoke here would be really nice. The flavors of the tea and the crème de cacao marry together really well. This is a fine beverage – don’t be intimidated at all by the tea syrup, as it is super easy to make. This had a sweeter mouth feel to it and really set the mouth mood for a delicious turkey dinner, which just so happened to be awaiting us.

Okay – I got this out. Time to give in to the food coma. Might do some more testing tomorrow as we host our second t-day.


 Posted by at 11:18 pm
Nov 282011

Okay, I said I was going to write about grenadine, and I will. Someday. Also about tonic, but I’m still learning some of the finer points on that.

What I have in front of me now, however, is too tasty to wait.

I went up to Portland, OR for Turkey Day to visit my mother’s side of the family – my wonderful Aunt Jocelyn and Uncle Tom (yes, “Uncle Tom”) and my wonderful cousins Joanne and Sherri, and their undeserving husbands, Gordon and Jeff. (And I know from undeserving husbands, as I’m the president of that club.)

So I craftily manipulated the family plans, and guided the “adult night out” (myself, my cousins, and our spouses) to Clyde Common, to see PDX’s highest profile bartender, Jeffrey Morgenthaler. It ended up being worth the visit, several times over. More on this later.

Star, my Trophy Wife, saw a drink with Bourbon and lemon juice and stopped reading the Clyde Common cocktail menu. That was the Bourbon Renewal. I was chatting with Mr. Morgenthaler about Rye Whiskeys, and he made a tasty “West Coast” Old Fashioned for me out of Jefferson’s Straight Rye Whiskey 10 yr., and I did not complain.

But this is about the Bourbon Renewal. Here’s his recipe, what he published on his blog way back in ‘aught-4:

Bourbon Renewal

  • 2 oz Bourbon (Morgenthaler recommends Woodford Reserve. I’ll not gainsay him, but I had Bulleit on hand)
  • 1 oz lemon juice (Morgenthaler specifies “fresh” – I don’t recognize any other kind)
  • 0.5 oz Crème de Cassis
  • 0.5 oz simple syrup (1 to 1)
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters (or similar aromatic)

It’s got lemon juice, so you should shake, but you might get away with stirring all the ingredients before pouring over (cracked) ice with a lemon slice garnish.

My Crème de Cassis has been languishing in the back of my liquor cabinet in between rounds of Kir Royale, but it’s painfully obvious (now) how well the currant liqueur goes with Bourbon and lemon juice. Fruity berry flavors, the sharp citrus and the sugar balancing, and the smoky sweetness of the Bourbon. Lovely.



 Posted by at 4:07 am
Sep 292011

Having recently invested in a bottle of Barenjager (sorry I don’t know how to put the little dots over the letters) NMD commander Ben linked me to Barenjager’s recent cocktail competition. A beautiful warm evening in the garden ensured that I would try the winner.

Grand prize winner, Kyle Ford, mixed up the SS Europa a perfectly balanced cocktail that according to the judges “highlighted Barenjager beautifully and created an instant classic.”

SS Europa
1 part Barenjager Honey Liqueur
2 parts Noilly Prat Dry Vermouth
3 dashes St. George absinthe
Method: Stir for 20 seconds and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

I lacked St. George’s absinthe (which is excellent) but some dashes of Tabu absinthe made a fine stand-in.  Very refreshing and light, slightly sweet, almost as if there were a kids drink called honey juice. Will definitely make again.

 Posted by at 11:01 pm
Aug 012010

Brad from St. George’s Spirits came around to Game Revolution for our podcast (#119) and the first installment of their cocktail of the month feature. He brought their Qi Black smoked tea liquor. That’s pronounced “chee” by the way, like you know, your aura or some crap.

His drink, the Dr Qi:

2oz Qi Black
4oz Dr Pepper

Combine on the rocks. Not bad, but we can do better, and I took home the extra bottle.

The stuff is delicious just straight, by the way. A bit smokey like scotch, but otherwise very different. My wife, Miranda, and I both detected hints of orange (bergamot?) so we started there and ended delicious.

2oz Qi Black
4oz Aranciata (natural orange soda from San Pellegrino)
Dash orange bitters (Regans’ No 6)

Combine on the rocks. Fantastic.

 Posted by at 6:18 pm
Jun 242010

We recently recorded the podcast live at St. George’s Distillery in Alameda, California. This concoction prepared for us by Inebriation Consultant (yes, it says that on his card) Brad McLelland.

3 oz Root Beer
1 oz St. George’s Absinthe

Pick a nice root beer, not a cheap one. Fill a tumbler with ice. Add root beer then absinthe. Stir delicately. As intensely flavored a drink as you’ll ever have, it’s not for everyone, but we thought it was delicious.

 Posted by at 4:53 pm
Apr 302010

Quick, what the best selling liquor brand in the world? Stolichnaya? Johnnie Walker? Not even close. Unless you’ve spent a lot of time in Korea, you’d never guess Jinro. Brewed and distilled in South Korea, it is traditionally drunk straight up with meals.

Soju is an interesting liquor, as it has a specific exception in California and New York allowing it to be served with only a beer and wine license. Also, at 48 proof, it allows you to make a mixed drink an a cocktail glass that doesn’t knock you on your ass after a couple of them. For all it’s glory, the Martini is a drink you cannot take lightly.

Perfect, thought my wife, Miranda, for a little experimentation. Her creation: the Chick Korea follows.

2 oz soju
1 oz lemon juice
1 oz St Germain
1 oz Cherry Liqueur (homemade in this case)

Combine everything with ice in a cocktail shaker. Serve in a cocktail glass with a twist.

Frankly, I really liked it, not too sweet and the cherry lends it a little color while not overpowering the delicious elderberry.

 Posted by at 10:54 am
Mar 292010

We made this one exactly to spec and didn’t experiment (minus the edible flower). Tasty, like ginger beer with more complex florals and herbals. Tasted mostly like ginger, however as we used a strong ginger beer.

Per Bon Appetit:

This Cognac-based fizzy cocktail gives a nod to one of bartender Vincenzo Marianella’s favorite chefs: Lyon native Daniel Boulud. (makes 2)

1/2 cup Cognac (Courvoisier)
3 tbsp St Germain
3 tbsp egg whites
1 tbsp green Chartreuse
2 dashes orange bitters (Regans’)
Ice cubes
1/2 cup chilled ginger beer (Cock & Bull)
2 edible flowers

Combine first 5 ingredients in cocktail shaker. Fill shaker with ice cubes. Cover; shake vigorously 18 times  (Really? Exactly 18 times? Go see a shrink). strain cocktail into 2 sour glasses, top each with 1/4 cup ginger beer.  Garnish each with one flower (meh).

 Posted by at 6:54 pm
Mar 242010

Our first original cocktail!

Jeremiah Weed is best known for their eponymous Southern Comfort-esque rocket fuel that every U.S. fighter pilot keeps in his/her freezer. However, they’ve recently branched out into some tea-flavored offerings. The following drink is seriously delicious.

2oz Jeremiah Weed Sweet Tea flavored Vodka and Borboun Whiskey (It’s in one bottle, seriously)
4oz San Pelegrino Limonata
Orange wheel
Mint Sprig

Fill a highball glass with ice, orange wheel, and Jeremiah Weed. Top with the Limonata and garnish with mint sprig. Too freakin’ delicious,

 Posted by at 10:04 am
Mar 232010

Alright! I’m going to do two in a row here because we’ve been experimenting with San Pelegrino Limonata as a mixer, and what a fantastic mixer it is.

There is no real traditional Pimm’s Cup as it is variously mixed with 7-up, ginger ale, sparkling wine, citrus fruits, strawberry, or cucumber. Our limonata variation has plenty of cirtus already, which is perfectly mellowed by the cool cucumber. Light in alcohol, refreshing and delicious.

2oz Pimm’s #1
San Pelegrino Limonata
Cucumber slices

Fill a highball glass with ice, add a couple cucumber slices and the Pimm’s. Fill the remainder with Limonata. Yum.

 Posted by at 7:08 pm