Archives for category: Gin

Becherovka has been unavailable in our area for quite some time.  I think that hit Phred at Elemental hard; he makes a variation on a classic Manhattan using it.  I found some in Sodo last week and snagged a couple of bottles to experiment with.  It tastes a bit of cloves.  I have no idea what I’m going to do with two whole bottles.  Next month’s party may have to feature a clove punch.

This is something I threw together for a test drive.  It wasn’t a bad drink for a summer evening.  Plus, I got a rather pretty picture of it.

Добрый вечер (Dobri Vyetcher, roughly)

1.75 oz gin (I used Martin Miller’s)
half a lime, cut into quarters
.5 oz Becherovka
two dashes of Arak (though you could use absinthe / herbsaint / pastis)
top with tonic

Muddle the limes and the Becherovka.  Add the Arak (or whatever).  Shake hard with ice and pour the whole thing in a Collins glass.  Add more ice if necessary.  Top with an ounce or two of tonic, to taste.  Go out on the porch, soak up some sun, pretend you’re reading the New Yorker, sip, and fall asleep on the chaise lounge.

If you hadn’t guessed already, this is just a froofy gin and tonic.  That’s what happens when you have a froofy liquor cabinet.  Also, cherries have nothing to do with it.  They’re just pretty.  And delicious.  And now eaten.

вечер, roughly prounounced “vee-et-cher”, is the Russian word for evening, which is as good a time as any to enjoy this drink.  Every time I try to say Becherovka, I end up turning the B into a V – a lowercase ‘b’ in Cyrillic is pronounced as a V.  That’s a long way of saying I’m an idiot and can’t pronounce my ingredients properly.  Whatever.  Добрый вечер.  (Good evening.)

So I’m hitting the herbs.  Specifically, the sage we have growing in the greenhouse.  Here’s a recipe from Brooke Arthur out of the Left Coast Libations book.  (Buy it!)  I have all the stuff to make it, I took today off, it’s sunny, I got up at 5:30am to go to the gym, and dammit, life is good.  Cocktail time!


Four kumquats (they’re in season!)
Four large sage leaves
1.5 oz Plymouth gin (or pick your favorite dry gin)
1 oz St Germain liqueur
.5 oz lemon

Muddle the kumquats and three of the sage leaves with the lemon juice.  Bash ’em up real good.  Add the other ingredients, and (according to Brooke) shake hard, 20 times.  Double-strain this one into a frosty cocktail glass.  Use the other ridiculously ginormous sage leaf to garnish.

I really dig this one.  It’s got a grapefruit-pineapple tartness that’s balanced very well with the lychee-esque St Germain.  Maybe the pineapple is because the only sage I have in the greenhouse is pineapple sage.  <shrug>  It works well, but any fresh sage  you can get your hands on will be fine.

I have no idea why it’s called the Evergreen.  Maybe Brooke originally created it at 4:20.

Got The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks by David Embury today.  If I get through this one, I think I graduate from farter-around to dilettante.  Since it’s my current crush, I was determined to find something new and interesting to do with Cocchi Americano tonight.  Cracked open the book to a random page, and what d’ya know…


3 oz gin (I used Plymouth)
2 oz Cocchi Americano
1 oz apricot brandy

Get out a big-ass cocktail glass, stir, strain, and lament your stupid expensive hobby. The recipe actually calls for a 3:2:1 ratio of the ingredients, but hell. This one is good. Three ounces of gin won’t kill you, and I can’t do math.

The original version of this one called for Kina Lillet, but as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, this is no longer available. Cocchi Americano is close enough.

If anyone reads this thing, yell if you have requests for specific recipes / ingredients / tastes.  I swear I make drinks that DON’T have Cocchi Americano. too.

Out of perhaps 120 bottles in our collection, two are vodka. One was a gift. The other we bought accidentally, mistaking it for a bottle of Dry Fly gin.

Now I know their are legit vodka connaisseurs out there. Apologies in advance. But we generally think of vodka as liquor for people who don’t like the taste of booze, but who want to get drunk.  I’m in it for the opposite reasons.  (Yes, it’s a good trick to be a cocktail geek and avoid getting sloshed.)

Anyway, here’s a classic for which we popped the Dry Fly vodka.

The Vesper

3 oz dry gin
1 oz vodka
.5 oz Lillet blanc or Cocchi Americano

Stir with ice and strain.  Garnish with an overly dramatic lemon twist.  Call a taxi.

This one, of course, originates from Ian Flemming’s Casino Royale.  It was ‘invented’ by James Bond and named for Vesper Lynd, his equally fictitious love interest.  Yes, yes.  Shaken, not stirred.  Stir it, dammit!  I want this one clear and free of ice chips.  Sue me.  But it’s a matter of taste.

The original recipe called for something called Kina Lillet, which is no longer available.  Lillet reformulated their stuff in the 80s and took out its quinine-ish bitter component.  You can make it with today’s Lillet blanc just fine, but for something closer to the original, try the Cocchi Americano.  It’s as close to Kina Lillet as we get nowadays.  I like its bitter edge.  I’m also fond of the overly large and obnoxious twist.  The lemon peel really adds to the drink.

Obligatory warning:  this is Don Draper-level octane.  I have to be in a serious dry, hard liquor mood, and even then, I can manage maybe half of one.  That bottle of Dry Fly vodka is going to be lasting us a looooong time.

I missed derby last night.  One of the girls goes by ‘Reanimate-Her’.  (Clever, but I prefer ‘Jalapeno Business’ in the bad name department.)  Anyway, she’s a joy to watch.  Slides like mercury between ‘Clam Slammer’ and ‘Muffstache’.  That sounds ruder than I thought it would.

To make up for missing our homegirls, here’s one of my favorite classic cocktails.

Corpse Reviver #2

.75 oz gin
.75 oz Cointreau
.75 oz Lillet Blanc
.75 oz lemon
Dash absinthe

Combine everything except the cherry and shake hard enough to raise the dead.  Strain into a frosty cocktail glass.  Drop the cherry in and watch it drown.  Laugh maniacally.  It tastes better that way.

So you’re asking now, if you’re still reading, why is it called a Corpse Reviver?  Apparently, this one (and its cousin, the Corpse Reviver #1) were considered good ‘hair of the dog’ drinks.  You know.  That whole ‘cure your hangover by drinking more’ solution.  (That does, apparently, work, but personally, the last thing I want to look at if I’m feeling delicate is more liquor.)

Don’t have everything you need to make this one?  It’s worth a trip to the liquor store – the cocktail is THAT good – but if you have the gin, it shouldn’t cost you very much.  A bottle of Lillet Blanc will run you about $20.  Better yet, get yourself some Cocchi Americano for about the same price and substitute that.  Both can be consumed on their own as apertif wines.  Because, um, that’s what they are.  Cocchi Americano is particularly yummy, with a slight bitter edge.  And by the way, it’s pronounced COKE-ee.  Learned that after embarrassing myself several times.

About absinthe:  a lot of cocktails will call for a dash of this.  A decent bottle of absinthe will set you back at least $50, so if you’re just looking to add a bit to your drinks, you’ll be stuck with a big bottle of expensive that lasts 10 years.  You can substitute Herbsaint or a pastis for it; they’re a bit cheaper.  It’s a shame to leave it out – really ties the drink together – but it’s still a decent sip without it.

Left Coast Libations is a seriously f’n beautiful read.  This year it’s been nominated for best cocktail book by Tales of the Cocktail. Someday I’ll go to that conference.  New Orleans.  Heaven.  I think I’ll line up a liver donor first.

Anyway, if you’re up for some adventure, there are quite a few recipes in there worth the considerable effort (and expense) they’ll generate.  My current crush:  Chris Ojeda’s Fragola e Aceto.  According to the book, Chris is at Varnish in LA, which has a great reputation.  Perhaps I’ll go if there’s not the typical LA ‘are you beautiful or famous enough to be here’ check at the door.  Name-dropping, vodka-chugging, $2,000 dress-wearin’, read-my-screenplay sayin’, headshot-shovin’ industry wannabes remind me of why I left town.

The Fragola e Aceto is not my recipe, so I won’t be reprinting it here.  (Buy the book.  It’s cheap.)  I will say that it involves a muddled strawberry, gin, simple syrup, lime, black pepper, balsamic vinegar, and basil foam.  Yup.  Basil foam.  I wanted this drink bad enough to make that shit.  It’s delicious.  It damned well better be, for the effort it takes.  Here’s what it looks like, if it’s made by someone who doesn’t know exactly what they’re doing.

Fragola e Aceto

I have two drinks on the books now that call for foam:  this one, and Jeffrey Morgenthaler’s margarita with Cadillac foam and sea salt.  I’ll be experimenting more.  Foams seem to add a nice counterpoint to whatever’s in the drink, and a wonderful texture.  You’ll need a whipped cream cannister to make them and a healthy disregard for the potential risks of consuming raw egg whites.  I will be buying some cream of tartar to add to the foam mixes in the future; the meringue-like mixtures break down pretty quickly after dispensing and look… icky.

Excuse me now, while I go find someone to chase off my lawn.

Busy week.  No time for cocktail concocting until today, but lots of time to think about what to try.  So let me introduce to you…

Sergeant Pepper
2 oz Tanqueray 10 gin
1 oz lemon
.5 oz St Germain
.5 oz Canton ginger liqueur
Sprig of basil
Black pepper

Shake, shake, shake, shake the basil, gin, lemon, St Germain, and Canton.  Twist and shout.  Strain into a frosty cocktail glass.  Grind some black pepper over a lemon wheel and float it on top.  Work it on out.

I’ve been a big Beatles fan since… forever.  I actually ran into Paul McCartney back in the 80s while living in London.  There’s video evidence.  See if you can spot the scruffy blonde with the bad mullet.  Long story.

Huzzah!  My copy of Ted Haigh’s Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails arrived today!  It’s a must if you’re into cocktail history / geekery, and beautifully illustrated with vintage posters and labels.  I will be working my way through it, slowly.  This looked like a good one with which to start.  The earliest versions of it date to the 1800s.

The Blackthorn

2 oz gin (I used Martin Miller’s)
.75 oz Dubonnet Rouge
.75 oz Kirschwasser

Stir, strain, drop a cherry in it (I used a brandied one) and hang a lemon twist off the side.  Getting one of your dogs to invade just as you take the picture makes it taste better.

I have to admit that this isn’t 100% to my liking.  It’s a bit spirit-forward for me (read:  Whoa!  That gin is beating the crap out of my palate!)  Maybe some Hayman’s Old Tom would be better next time.  I added a couple more cherries and a little cherry syrup, but it’s still kicking my ass.  Suggestions on how this might be adjusted are welcome.

It’s spring in Seattle.  I know.  It says so on the calendar.  So I’m looking for cocktails that defy the 60 degree weather and gray skies here.  Screw you, Seattle.  Spring has arrived in my liquor cabinet.

I’ve been enjoying a variation on the Corpse Reviver #2 that substitutes dry vermouth for the Lillet, so that was probably on my mind when I threw this together.  You can’t go far wrong with St. Germain – I believe Phred at Elemental refers to it as “bartender’s ketchup”.  This drinks kind of like a Corpse Reviver with lychee aroma and just a tiny bit of effervescence. 

The Joan Holloway
1.75 oz Hendricks gin
.75 oz St. Germain
.5 oz lemon
.5 oz sparkling wine
Dash Luxardo cherry liqueur

Shake the gin, St. Germain, and lemon.  Strain into a champagne saucer, then add the sparkling.  Pour a little dash of the cherry liqueur in the middle and watch it slink to the bottom.  Note that this isn’t the maraschino liqueur – I think that would be pretty nasty.  If you don’t have the Luxardo cherry, some Cherry Heering would probably work just fine.

I asked friends what to call this one, and one Christina Hendricks fan suggested the name – her character on Mad Men.  Works for me – curvy women of the world unite!  Plus, if you look at the saucer from the top down, the drink kinda looks like a big pale boob.

A properly made Martinez is a thing of beauty.  I go for the original 1862 Jerry Thomas recipe, updated with some novel ingredients.  And it’s a simple drink to make, too:

2 oz Ebb and Flow gin
1 oz Antica Carpano sweet vermouth
Dash of Luxardo Maraschino liqueur
Two dashes Fee’s orange bitters

Orange peel garnish.  I’ve been known to flame mine.

I find the sweetness of the Fee’s works better than Regan’s #6 with the floral qualities of Ebb and Flow.  If you don’t have Ebb and Flow onhand, Ransom Old Tom works just fine.  I’ve also made them with Corsair. 

It’s my current go-to cocktail at home – and a fine one to kick off with.