Aaaand look at that. It’s 2016. Oops.

This is my favorite creation of the year so far. Simple, elegant, and not for the faint of heart. I give you taste of a boozy summer.

Mexican Martini

  • 3 oz Nuestra Soledad mezcal
  • .25 oz Dolin dry vermouth
  • Two dashes Bittercube Bolivar bitters

Stir with ice and strain. Garnish with a thin lime wheel dropped in the chilled cocktail glass. We’ve also played around with a sprig of elderberries or white / red currants for color – try this for a drink your guests will attempt to photograph endlessly before drinking.

Some days you come home, look at your significant other, and say, “Mezcal.”  You know you’re with the right person when mezcal does, in fact, suddenly appear shortly thereafter.

Mezcal Old Fashioned-ish


  • 3 oz mezcal (Fidencio Unico is just fine)
  • .5 oz Ancho Reyes liqueur
  • .25 oz Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao

Combine all into a mixing glass.  Stir with ice. Strain. Or more precisely, have someone else do this for you. Pour into a rocks glass and dispense with the garnish. That just cuts into drinking time.


You’ve heard of ‘Sober October’? It’s ‘Drink a Day December”s preachy asshole brother who makes even your best friend the Buddhist want to pop him in the snoot.  Fuck that guy.


Let’s start with the classic Hanky Panky.  Why?

  • It was invented by a female bartender
  • A female bartender who worked at the American Bar in the Savoy in London
  • In the 1920s
  • It’s a very simple recipe that is strangely easy to fuck up
  • It is a mouthful of boozy, sweet, and bitter, like an aging 70s pop star
  • It’s super-fun to say and vaguely rude

Hanky Panky

  • 1.75 oz London dry gin (mmmmMartin Millers)
  • 1.75 oz sweet vermouth (Carpano if you’re brave)
  • .25 oz Fernet Branca

Combine, ice, and stir.  Think about how badass Ada Coleman looked with her silver shaker pin behind the bar.  Use a vegetable peeler to cut a piece of orange rind. Express the oil over the glass, rub the rind on the rim, and serve.

I can testify: the ones Joe serves at the Savoy nowadays would make Ada proud.


We’ve been known to have large parties a few times a year.  The sound of dozens of liquor bottles hitting the recycling is our way of letting the neighbors know what they missed.  In other words, we go through a lot of booze when we entertain, and yep, it does get expensive.

We know that buying liquor for our house can be a bit intimidating, so if you’d like to bring a bottle next time you visit, here’s a quick guide to stuff we’ll always appreciate a bunch.  It’s also a pretty good cheat sheet for reliably good booze to bring anywhere.  Most of these should be too difficult to find locally.

Around $20:

In the $20-40 Range:

In the $40-60 Range:

Impractically Expensive Shit:

We’re grateful for anything you want to bring, of course!  If you want to be creative and pick up something not on this list, here are some types of liquor we generally avoid – they just don’t get used, and we don’t mix with them:

  • Vodka
  • Flavored vodka
  • Flavored anything, really
  • Canadian whiskey
  • Irish whiskey

Now back to your regularly scheduled booze news.


There’s nothing that says New Year’s Eve like conspicuous consumption.  You can assume I mean booze, because tuberculosis is generally not an invited guest to most holiday celebrations.  Pro tip: if I walk into your bar and ask you to serve me whatever you’ve been working on, there’s a fair chance I will rip it off pay homage to it months later on this page.  Oh hi, Connor from Rumba!

(Ok, this is actually a riff on what he served, but still.)

Hard Day’s Night

Hard Day's Night

3 oz rhum agricole (I used La Favorite Coeur de Rhum – oh, you fancy)
.5 oz agave syrup
Four dashes peach bitters (I used Bitters, Old Men Peach Basil bitters, because yeah, I fancy)
Absinthe wash

For the agave syrup, grab a bottle of light agave from your local hippie mart and dilute it with two parts syrup and one part water.  Or just use simple syrup if you want to live dangerously.  Won’t be as good, but hey. Booze.

Combine the rum, agave, and bitters in a Yarai mixing glass, or a pint glass if you forgot where you left your fancypants.  Add ice and stir, then strain into a rocks glass with an absinthe wash.  Cut a circle of orange peel, heat it, and flame it over the glass.  Throw the peel into the drink with abandon, as if it were a New Year’s resolution on January 3rd.  Or January 2nd, if we’re going to be real here.

Did you notice that this is basically a rum Sazerac?  You did?  Then why aren’t you reading a better blog?

Worth noting:  rum != rhum agricole.  You can’t substitute regular rum for this.  (Well, ok, you can, because hey, booze – but it is nowhere near the same drink.)  Rhum agricole is kind of the mezcal of rum.

Happy new year, everyone!  Baby Got Sauce shall return in earnest in 2014.

Now that you’ve got the hardware to mix, time to get into spendin’ money proper.  There is no one right answer to the question of what liquor you should buy to start.  The best way to decide is to ask yourself what kind of drinks you’re likely to be making.  Suggestion:  start by making what you like.

One from Column A…

Cocktails tend to be a mixture of base spirit (gin, bourbon, rum, etc.), sweetness (sugar, syrups, liqueurs, etc.), bitters (like Angostura or Peychaud’s), and sometimes sour / citrus.  Vermouth also adds to the character of a drink.  If you want to get really technical about it, bitters define a cocktail, but we’re all friends, right?  So trust me on this.  It’s a good way of thinking about classes of ingredients you’ll need to stock your bar.

Let’s look at groups of ingredients you’ll want to have based upon the drinks you’d like to make for yourself.  I’m using for price references.  It’s a great place to get your booze if you don’t have an easy way to buy locally.  Your state allows delivery of alcoholic beverages to your home, right?  RIGHT?  (The correct answer is YES THEY DO.  Now go order.)

#1:  I Like Bourbon.  And Rye.  And Rusty Nails.  No, Not the Drink.  Nails.

I like you already.  Here’s your shopping list.  Everything’s in order of priority, and you can see what drinks you can make with everything below the list.

  • Base Spirits
  • Vermouth (don’t forget to refrigerate after opening)
  • Bitters
  • Liqueurs
    • Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao – $26.99  (cheaper than, and better than Cointreau)
    • Campari – $26.99 (if you’re not scared of bitter.  You’re not scared of bitter, are you, little girl?)
    • Amaretto – $22.99 for Luxardo, but get Lazzaroni if possible
    • Fernet Branca – $29.99 (optional, but great for street cred and manly drinks)
  • Citrus (look for fruit with a firm peel)
    • Lemon
    • Orange
  • Other
    • Cherries in Kirsch brandy – $29.99
    • Simple syrup – 2/3 sugar to 1/3 water, shake
    • Sugar (baker’s sugar is best)
    • Fresh mint (if you roll in the Julep direction)
    • Bottle of dry sparkling wine (Cava or Prosecco is fine – don’t spend more than $12)
    • Eggs
    • Club soda

What Can I Make with This Crap?

Oh, lots.  Including…

  • Manhattan:
    • 2 oz rye
    • 1 oz sweet vermouth
    • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
    • Brandied cherry garnish
  • Perfect Manhattan:
    • 2 oz rye
    • .5 oz sweet vermouth
    • .5 oz dry vermouth
    • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
    • Brandied cherry garnish
  • Old Fashioned (my variation):
    • 3 oz bourbon
    • .5 oz simple syrup
    • .25 oz dry curacao
    • 2 dashes Old Fashioned bitters
    • Brandied cherry / orange wedge garnish
  • Sazerac:
    • 3 oz rye
    • 3 sugar cubes or .5 oz simple syrup (to taste)
    • 4 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
    • Lemon peel garnish
  • Mint Julep
    • 3 oz bourbon
    • 2 tsp sugar
    • Mint
  • Seelbach
    • 1 oz bourbon
    • .5 oz dry curacao
    • 7 dashes Angostura bitters (really.  man up.)
    • 7 dashes Peychaud’s bitters (again.)
    • Sparkling wine to top of champagne flute
    • Orange twist garnish
  • Toronto
    • 3 oz rye
    • 1 oz Fernet Branca
    • .5 oz simple syrup
    • Dash Angostura bitters
    • Orange peel garnish
  • Whiskey Sour
    • 2 oz bourbon
    • 1 oz simple syrup
    • .75 oz lemon juice
    • egg white
  • Amaretto Sour
    • .75 oz bourbon
    • 1.5 oz amaretto
    • 1 oz lemon juice
    • 1 tsp simple syrup
    • egg white
  • Americano
    • 1 oz Campari
    • 1 oz sweet vermouth
    • club soda to taste
    • orange twist
  • Boulevardier
    • 1.5 oz bourbon
    • 1 oz Campari
    • 1 oz sweet vermouth
    • brandied cherry

So that covers a lot of classic cocktails.  If this is your cocktailian wheelhouse, we need to drink together.  But let us not forget our rum, gin, and brandy drinking brothers and sisters.  Up next:  gin.

I often get asked what one should buy to get a home bar started.  Everyone has an opinion on this.  Here’s mine, starting with hardware needs.

Hardware – The Musts

There are a few things it would be hard to do without.

Hardware – The Really Shoulds

You can do a lot with just the stuff on the must-have list.  But here’s what I’d add, in order, to expand your mixing capabilities.

So you can get all the hardware basics for your bar for around $80, or if you want to get all fancy, about $180.  Next time we’ll look at booze.

You know what goes well with tequila?  No, seriously.  Do you know what goes well with tequila?  Because it always gives me hassle.  Anything I make ends up looking suspiciously like a margarita variation, or I rely on orange and/or cinnamon – which still ends up looking suspiciously like a margarita variation.

This is something I’ve been messing around with, based partially on a punch that one of the fine folks at the Blur Ball made a few months ago.

Five Hundred



1.5 oz silver tequila
.75 oz St Germain
2 dashes lemon
2 oz dry sparkling wine
Serrano pepper

Stir the tequila, St Germain, lemon, and a very small slice of the Serrano pepper with ice.  Strain into a champagne flute, top with the bubbles, and garnish with a new little slice of pepper.

Those of you in Washington State or Colorado may want to try my variation on this one, affectionately dubbed the Five Hundred and Two.  Turns out that herbal tinctures do exceptionally well in this drink.  It’s got no illusions that it can mask stinky.  The tequila and pepper just happen to complement the difficult flavors one can encounter when sampling the native vegetation of Vancouver.

That’s what people tell me, anyway.  I certainly wouldn’t know.

Do you need an excuse for putting toasted almonds into booze?  No, you do not.

Warm Fuzzy

2 oz toasted almond infused Old Overholt rye
1 oz Amaro Meletti
.25 oz cinnamon syrup

Think about how good this drink will taste in three days.  Go out and buy yourself a bottle of Old Overholt rye.  Go on.  It’ll set you back maybe $20.  Buy some raw almonds – maybe six ounces or a bit more.  Take them home, put them in a skillet on a medium heat.  Toss them every few minutes.  When they start showing the first signs of getting burnt, it’s time to take them off the fire and let them cool for a few minutes.

You toasted almonds!  I recommend celebrating with a drink.  Maybe an Old Fashioned.  Because that has a LOT of booze.  And it’s the holidays.  Sort of.

Now it’s time to put the almonds in the rye.  Didn’t some guy from the Renaissance point out that putting objects in liquid causes displacement?  Or was that just from Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead?  Oh dear.  There’s no room for the almonds in this (unfortunately) full bottle of rye.  Let’s consider our options.

1.  Pour the offending excess down the drain.  Yeah.  Let’s skip to…
2.  Use the extra rye in the mashed sweet potatoes you have on the stove for Thanksgiving dinner.  What could possibly go wrong?
3.  Make another Old Fashioned.  Or three.

Pro tip:  if you’re going to throw it in the sweet potatoes, it’s polite to suggest to the parents at Thanksgiving dinner that they may want to steer their kids away from this dish.  Or steer them towards it, if they fancy a really nice, quiet after dinner experience.

Then comes the cinnamon syrup.  Grab four or five sticks of cinnamon, a cup of water, and a cup of sugar.  Put it in a small pot on low heat until it gets syrupy and delicious – maybe 30-45 minutes.  Let it cool off, then put it in a squeezy bottle, if you have one.  Refrigerate that bad boy.

You’ve got everything you need!  Now comes the waiting part, while the rye and almonds get it on.  This takes about three days.  Once it’s done, strain it back into the bottle and let the sediment settle for a while.  (You don’t want an almond-clouded drink.)  Combine everything, stir, and garnish with a swath of orange peel.

Normally, I’m too lazy to consider any of this crap.  However, if you’ve done all the above, you have supplies for quite a few delicious Warm Fuzzies.  And everyone loves a Warm Fuzzy.  Bottle that stuff up for cheap holiday gifts!  Next time, I may have to see how this stuff does in an oak barrel.

Finally, here’s the original warm and fuzzy.  He gave me more happiness than I can tell.



You know what really gets in the way of creating new drinks?  Prilosec.  Thankfully, I’m now back to tasting meals only once and have some gastrointestinal bandwidth to make cute pink gin drinks.  This one would make an awesome wedding cocktail.  Just sayin’.  You know who you are.

74 Up

2 oz Tanqueray 10 gin
.5 oz Dolin Blanc vermouth
.5 oz Byrrh
.5 oz lime
.25 oz Bauchant orange cognac (or Cointreau – whatever)

First, think about voting.  Then realize that it’s mail-in only.  This would be better with a cocktail.  Combine everything in a shaker.  Shake with equal parts indignation and style.  Strain and garnish with a queerly gigantic orange twist.  Pop open your ballot, take a sip, fill in the bubble, take a pic, post it on Facebook.  Make a quick toast to friends and civil rights.  Jot down a note:  buy more gin.

If you’ve read this far, please also check out MurrayAid.  Murray Stenson, a friend and a helluva bartender, could (reluctantly) use your help.  He deserves it.  If you kick in, leave a comment!