A very gracious friend gave me the heads up on Virgin Atlantic’s cocktail competition for their new bar at JFK.  Unfortunately, I farted around until the last moment, so I had to come up with something a) palatable, and b) memorable in name within a few hours.

I think I hit it out of the park on the second one.

Jackie’s O

2 oz Chalfonte cognac
1 oz tawny Port
.25 oz amaretto
dash Angostura bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a coupe.  Garnish with a long orange twist, fashioned into a spiral stemming from the bottom of the glass.  Make your finest Jackie O face and drink up.

Wish me luck!  Prize is a trip to NYC to attend the grand opening.  A girl can dream, can’t she?

I should be blacked out today to protest SOPA / PIPA, but no one reads this anyway, so I’m safe.

I’ve been meaning to try the Rye Brouhaha from Chuck Taggart’s site, Looka, for a long while.  But never before have ginger, club soda, and the ability to juice pineapple converged on my household simultaneously.  I’m burning out on Manhattan variations, we’ve been stuck in the house snowed in for the better part of four days, and I got the Chuck Norris of juicers for Christmas.  So it’s on.

Rye Brouhaha

2 oz rye (I used Bulleit)
.5 oz pineapple juice
.5 oz lime
.5 oz simple syrup
1 egg white
fresh grated ginger

about 3 oz club soda or sparkling water (maybe a little less)

Put it all in a shaker with the coil from your strainer and two ice cubes.  Shake it until the ice cubes are completely gone.  Gasp for air.  Pour into a Collins glass and give it a minute or two to settle.  Gently pour the club soda down the side of the glass.  Two or three ounces should fill it up.  Sprinkle the ginger on top.  Go rest.

Thanks to Brian at Canon for showing me the ‘dissolve the ice cube’ technique for fizzes.  Mine were always coming out too flat.  And flat is not usually a word people associate with me.

Someone once came to one of our parties and said, “I’d like something that doesn’t taste too much like alcohol.  Can you make me some kind of a martini?”  (You know who you are.  I’m not telling.)

Martinis are evil.  They’re basically pure gin with a vague memory of dry vermouth, invaded by a twist or an olive.  I don’t normally go for them.  But I’ve been cutting down on the sweet stuff until the holiday blubber subsides, which oddly enough makes you crave sweet stuff less.  Here’s a little something I made tonight that is calling me a wimp.


2 0z Plymouth gin
1 oz Dolin dry vermouth
.25 oz Fernet Branca

STIR the damned thing with ice.  None of this pansy shaking stuff.  Strain into a cocktail glass.  Garnish with a lemon twist.  Plot the way in which Bond is going to die.  Design a clever, maniacal trap involving an industrial die-cutter, 17 purebred pit bulls, a rhododendron, and a guy named Norman.  Decide just to shoot him in the head instead.  Emit a sinister laugh.

This drink would have the Don Draper seal of approval, if he knew what the hell Fernet was.

Lots of people know how to play Texas Hold ‘Em.  The rules are stupid simple to learn.  Lots of people know how to make a Manhattan.  It’s just rye, vermouth, bitters, and a cherry.  So why do most people suck at playing poker and making Manhattans?

One mark of great game design is ‘easy to learn, difficult to master’.  Simple yet deep is hard to design.  Games that manage it tend to last a while.  Like poker.  Or Duke Nukem Forever.  Wait.  One of those is wrong.  A great poker player knows the stats on any given hand, how they’re modified by position, and the exact cards any other player is probably holding.  And how drunk each person at the table is.

Great bartenders aren’t much different.  Liquors and proportions are just the starting point.  Rye, yes.  But what kind of rye?  And which vermouth is right for the one you choose?  Then what bitters go with both?  Who’s drinking this, and what are their tastes?  How should you adjust for that?  Maybe we should play around with proportions or throw in a couple of flavor accents?

This is why Murray (currently at Canon in Seattle) is a great bartender.  I asked him to make me his favorite variation on a Manhattan.  This is as close as I’ve come to mocking it.

Another Manhattan Variation

2 oz Bulleit rye
1 oz Cocchi di Torino sweet vermouth
.5 oz Amaro Nardini
.25 oz Benedictine

Stir and strain into a cocktail glass.  Drop a brandied cherry.  Don’t think about that song “The Gambler”.  Really.  Try not to think about it.  It’s horrible.

The holidays are for being fat, dumb, and happy.  And I don’t like breaking tradition.  But I finally stopped eating and drinking long enough to write down one of the more successful recent efforts at mixology.  Here’s a new one that’s going on the winter menu.

Adios Maria

1 oz Bulleit Rye
1 oz Laird’s Applejack
1 oz Amaro Maria al Monte
.5 oz Cointreau
Big dash of Bittermen’s Burlesque bitters

Stir it all in a mixing glass with ice.  Strain into a fancy glass.  Brutalize a lemon for a really, really long twist, just because it’s the holidays and you have patience for this shit.  In January, it’ll be screw you, Mr Garnish, so go for it now.

Adios, Maria al Monte.  For now.  With the passage of 1183 here in Washington State last month, liquor sales are officially privatized as of June 1st, 2012.  So the state liquor stores, which had just started to understand the needs of their well-heeled cocktail nerd customers, will be shutting down.  Off-the-beaten-path stuff, like amari, has already disappeared from the shelves here.  We’re fucked for six months, at least.

Now I’m all for privatizing liquor sales.  Hey, I spent most of my life in California, and this whole weirdness about restrictions on selling booze in most states is foreign to me.  But this crappy intiative limits sales to stores of 10,000 square feet or more.  Unsurprisingly, Costco funded it to the tune of something like $20 million.  None of Washington’s state liquor stores have that kind of square footage, so they can’t even use the space anymore.  How much did the state spend on that new premier liquor store in West Seattle a few months ago?  It’s toast.

I’m trying to remain open about the whole thing.  It would be great if BevMo showed up and large wine sellers branched out into hooch.  But there’s pretty much no getting around the fact that 2012 is going to be a fucked up year for booze snobs in Washington.  And I want small, independent, specialty liquor stores to pop up.  Unfortunately, I am the 1% here.  I am sure the majority of drinkers in the state will have an uninterrupted supply of Jagerbombs.

Hello, holiday spirit.  Hello, finding innovative ways to get fat.  Let’s just get right down to it and start with the most efficient blubber generator known to humankind.

Egg Nog with Rum Caviar

What wacky new recipe did I invent for this?  Um.  I’m not even going to pretend I can do better than this one from Alton Brown.  It’s quick to make, too.  If you’re going to drink any of it, have someone else make it.  You don’t want to know what goes into it.

Now about this rum caviar.  A friend pointed me at this site, which introduced me to the concept.  And bless the person who thought of this.  It’s like boozy, succulent bubble tea.  Unfortunately, following the instructions on the site explicitly will render you some sugary, alcoholic goo floating in the bottom of a tumbler-full of vegetable oil.  So if you’re going to try this, here are a few suggested modifications:

  • Add a lot more agar agar than they call for.  Like ten times more.  Seriously.  I’m still working on exactly how much – overshot it a little this time – but too much is better than not enough in this case.
  • Put the tall glass of vegetable oil in an ice bath while you eyedropper the rum into it.  Otherwise, the oil is going to heat up too quickly, and, well… goo.
  • Get someone else to do this for you.  Bribe them.  Whatever it takes.  This is a serious pain in the ass.  But hey.  Thanksgiving.

The little glass of eggnog with rum caviar pictured here was almost worth all the effort.  But then again, I got someone else to do most of the caviar work.  Thanks, honey!  And happy Thanksgiving, all.


Gin and lavender.  How very British.  I bet this sort of thing is just what Liz needs to get through another bloody day of shaking hands, rendering polite smiles, and looking at Phillip and Charles.

The Queen’s Breakfast

2 oz Hendricks gin
.5 oz Navan vanilla liqueur
.5 oz lime
dash lavender bitters

Shake with ice, strain, and pour into a cocktail glass.  Add a lemon twist.  Lie back, sip it, and think of England, even though you don’t know who’s on the team.  Smack yourself for ripping off Billy Bragg.

In other news, I’m about to barrel age some Cointreau, and have a bottle of Buffalo Trace to infuse with roasted almonds.  It’s all for Christmas punch, recipe courtesy of the official cocktail of Tales of the Cocktail in Vancouver next year.  Oh, the lengths I will go to for a good drink.  If only that energy were directed at something that supplemented my income…

Ok, hifallutin’ way of saying “sun of the south”.  Got an urge to be fancy in the pants.  I’m not responsible for whatever urges you get after one of these.  #highoctane

Le Soleil du Sud

1.75 oz Bulleit bourbon
1.75 oz Calvados
.5 oz amaretto
.5 oz Becherovka

Stir it all up in a mixing glass with ice.  Strain into a cocktail glass.  Garnish it with a nice star anise.  If you believe, as I do, that the only way this could be better would be to set it on fire, pour a little Stroh 80 on the anise and ignite it.  Set a bad example for your kids in multiple ways.

My only regret is that the fire was pathetically miniscule.  Perhaps next time we can find something that’s more than 80% pure alcohol to torch.

Thursday Drink Night challenge from this website!  Mission:  make a tiki drink with one German ingredient.  Bonus points for FIRE.  Bonus points?  Hell, why else would you even spend time trying this?

Mary Ann’s Revenge

1 oz bourbon (I used Bulleit)
1 oz Kümmel (It SOUNDS German.  But my bottle’s from Philadelphia.)
1 oz orange juice
.5 oz Trader Tiki’s passion fruit syrup
.5 oz Trader Tiki’s orgeat
two dashes Absinthe Duplais (It IS German.  It COUNTS.)
two dashes Regan’s #6 orange bitters
two thin slices fresh ginger
three brandied cherries
.25 oz 151 proof vodka or rum (I used Galen’s cheap, nasty-ass vodka)

Put everything except the ginger, cherries, and overproof vodka / rum in a cocktail shaker.  Ice and stir.  Strain over cracked ice into a rocks glass.  Skewer alternating cherries and fresh ginger slices with a cocktail pick and balance it on the glass rim.  Pour a little of the overproof booze over the skewer and IMMEDIATELY light on fire.

Why ‘Mary Ann’s Revenge’?  Because it’s fun to set ginger on fire.

“I’ll let you be… macrobiotic… / if you let me have some pie.” – The Bobs

All things in their season?  Not when there are strawberries somewhere in the world and the remarkably carbon-footprint-indifferent Whole Foods to bring them to me.  Hooray for strawberries in late October!  And hooray for sparing just a few from the Great Berry Massacre of 25th October for a new cocktail.

Having Manhattan’ed myself out for the past week or two, I was in the mood for something a little lighter and fruity.  George Clooney was unavailable.

Strawberry Moon

One big-ass mutant strawberry, or two normal helpless strawberry victims, hulled
2 oz Tanqueray 10 gin
.5 oz Gran Classico bitters
.25 oz Amaretto
dash Bittercube Jamaican Bitters #1

Combine the gin and strawberry in a shaker.  Muddle the hell out of them.  Add everything else and shake mercilessly.  Double-strain into a cocktail glass or a coupe.  Further torture it by telling it you’ll give it a garnish.  Then serve it without one.  Sip and shake a tiny, angry fist at the rain and gloom.

It was way too easy to make and down the second one of these for the night.  But hey.  I had to take the picture.

Tanqueray 10 is really best for this drink, but you could go for any gin that’s not too junipery / herbal.  There’s really no getting around the Gran Classico.  Aperol or Campari will make a different (but probably pretty good) drink, but if you use Campari, I’d cut the amount in half.  The bitters are hard to find.  They have a touch of sweet, clovey spice to them, so if you had some Benedictine lying around, you could try that.  Or Becherovka.  If you go this way, you might try adding a dash of Regan’s Orange Bitters #6 as well to get that little bit of bitter finish on it.

Since I’m now just making shit up, I will stop.  Next up:  a runthrough of our fall menu.