Improved Japanese Cocktail

Once upon a time, when curly mustachioes were un-ironic and tattoos were for peg-legged sailors,  a cocktail was a simple means to dress up your breakfast booze.  (The drinking habits of our forebears were a wee bit more…alcoholic, than today.)  You took some spirits, added a bit of sugar or liqueur and a dash of bitters.  Mix it up with some water or ice.  If you were feeling fancy, toss a citrus peel in it.  Finish it by slapping on some name that was “insert name of spirit” + cocktail.  Then down the hatch with whatever passed for Alka Seltzer in the days when Al Swearengen kept a saloon.

Eventually, you run out of booze names and have to start getting creative.  One of the original slingers behind the brass rail was “Professor” Jerry Thomas – he of the seminal 1860’s “Bar-Tender’s Guide”, which amongst its 230 plus recipes includes a “Japanese Cocktail” – brandy, orgeat, bitters & a lemon peel.

You’ll notice there isn’t anything obviously Japanese on that list.   Who knows why its called Japanese.  One theory – which is as good as any – starts in 1860 with New York City hosting the first Japanese mission to the United States.   The official translator for the envoy was a young bachelor named Tateishi Onojirou Noriyuki, called “Tommy” in the local press.  Apparently Tommy was fond of a few things – the saloons and the ladies of Manhattan amongst them.  (Though based on the rampant “yellow peril” racism of the era, who can know how much excessive bon vivant-ing Mr. Noriyuki actually engaged in.)  Professor Jerry ran the hottest spot in town at the time, so legend is that “Tommy” likely frequented the joint and the drink is named after him.

Either that, or its completely apocryphal bullshit.   Regardless, this version is a wee bit more balanced.   Or “improved” as the kids say.

Improved Japanese Cocktail

2 oz. brandy

1 oz. orgeat

1 oz. lemon

3 dashes Peychaud’s bitters

Shake & strain.

Toby Cecchini, Long Island Bar


The traditional story has this classic being invented in Cuba in 1905 by Jennings Cox, an American mining engineer who was working in the town of Daiquiri.  The basic recipe involved pouring a teaspoon of sugar over a highball filled with cracked ice.  The juice of a lime or two was added, followed by white rum.  The drink was then stirred until frosty – basically, a simple swizzle.  This would evolve into a shaken drink with shaved ice.

It remained a Cuban drink until 1909, when U.S. Navy medical officer Admiral Lucius Johnson brought it to the States, to the Army & Navy Club in D.C.    Its popularity grew, particular in the Forties during wartime.   Rationing made most liquors like whiskey in short supply – but rum was relatively plentiful due to Roosevelt’s Good Neighbor policy liberalizing foreign relations and trade with Latin America.   Perhaps the biggest fan of the drink was Ernest “Papa” Hemingway – who would get his own version, the Hemingway Daiquiri or Papa Doble that added grapefruit and maraschino to the mix.  It wouldn’t take long before someone decided to toss one into a blender – which if you stick to fresh ingredients, isn’t a bad way to slurp your booze while sunning on a beach.

Personally, I prefer the base recipe – rum, sugar, lime.  Its hard to get much simpler than that.  (And amazingly, so easy to fuck up.)  If you stick to the basics, its easy to see why its a classic withs its clean, crisp flavor.  I’ve got a weakness for the family of drinks known as Sours – like the Sidecar, the Margarita, or the Whiskey Sour.  Cold, short, refreshing.  Use fresh lime and sugar, stay away from diesel fuel like Bacardi, and you’re in like Flynn.


Version 1

2.5 oz. aged rum
3/4 oz. fresh lime juice
1/2 oz. simple syrup

Shake & strain into cocktail glass.

Version 2

2 oz. light rum
3/4 oz. fresh lime juice
3/4 oz. simple syrup

Shake & strain into cocktail glass.


Gin may be cool, bourbon certainly sweet, and rye the next big thing – but brandy just rocks.  Cognac, Armagnac, American alembic – its all good.   And its even better in the only good cocktail to come out of Prohibition.  Because honestly, anything that involves mixing “bathtub” whatever with something is still going to taste like shit.  So it makes a certain amount of sense that the one good cocktail from that time period came from overseas where Prohibition was likely seen as the Americans going off on one of their periodic mass psychoses.

Where exactly the Sidecar was invented is lost to time,  but it is believed to have come from either London or Paris around World War I.   The Hotel Ritz in Paris claims to have come up with the recipe; others claim it was Harry’s Bar in Paris, a popular hangout for American expatriates of the Lost Generation.  The earliest recipes show up in 1922 in a couple of sources, including Harry MacElhone’s Harry’s ABC of Mixing Cocktails.  (The same Harry from Harry’s Bar.)   In Harry’s own book, he originally claimed it was invented in London at the famous Buck’s Club by bartender Pat McGarry, who also invented the Buck’s Fizz, which we know as the Mimosa.  (What’s with all these famous Scottish bartenders from the 1920s? I have no idea – maybe its good training to grow up serving lots of ornery heavy drinkers in kilts.)  In later additions, Harry would claim he invented it himself.

My favorite origin story, because its so ridiculous, comes from Embury who claims it was the favorite drink of an American Army captain in Paris during WWI and named after the motorcycle sidecar the captain would ride in.  It was supposedly his favorite way to warm up  during the winter after a brisk ride in his sidecar.  Silly? Possibly.  Fucking awesome? A heavy drinking captain during the Great War zooming around on some insane contraption in the middle of Paris, his scarf flying in the wind like Snoopy fighting the Red Baron, regularly ending up at the same bar and downing a French twist on the American Cocktail? Hells yeah.

In truth, the Sidecar is a variation of a classic Sour – with brandy as the spirit and triple sec as the sweetener.  Regardless of who or where it was invented, today there are two basic recipes – the “French” version and the “English” version.   The French version calls for equal parts cognac, Cointreau and lemon juice – its a fairly light, citrusy, refreshing drink.   The alternative English version is the modern classic, more complex and robust with a 2:1:1 ratio.  I personally prefer the latter, but with the Sidecar, the exact proportions are entirely a matter of personal taste.  Some folks also like the addition of a sugared rim – but I often go without.


English version:

2 oz. brandy
1 oz. Cointreau
1 oz. lemon juice

French version:

1 oz. brandy
1 oz. Cointreau
1 oz. lemon juice

Shake and strain into cocktail glass.  Sugared rim optional.

Salty Dog

Loooooong blogging hiatus.  Turns out that regular blogging consumes a lot of time – and effort –  if its not your day job.  Particularly when it involves a regimen of regular boozing.  Regardless,  Mrs. ChinaNob has increasingly complained of late of the lack of booze-blogging – or rather, the lack of weekly cocktail tasting as a product of regular booze-blogging.  Eventually, one has to relent or suffer the marital consequences.

Tonight’s plan involved a lime.  Or, alternatively a lemon.  The crisper drawer had other plans.   Plenty of carrots from the CSA box.   As well as leeks, some beets, a bunch of kale.   Great if my plan involved cooking a winter stew.  Or an incredibly gross drink.  Buried in the back though was a Texas grapefruit I had completely forgotten about.

Grapefruit isn’t a particularly common cocktail citrus.  Lemons – try making a Sidecar or Whiskey Sour without one.  Limes – kiss a Margarita or Daiquiri goodbye without one.   But a grapefruit? There’s the classic Hemingway Daiquiri – but you also need a lime for that one.  Planter’s Punch is a good one, if you also have a lemon, a lime and an orange.  Sea Breeze?  Only if you are a 25 year old hipster reliving the 80’s you were never alive for – and you have cranberry juice and a bottle of grain neutral spirits.

Fortunately, there’s an old classic that is both easy drinking and easy making for the perennially lazy like myself – the Salty Dog.   Gin, grapefruit, salt.   Can’t get much easier than that unless you are just doing shots.   Cafe Van Kleef, a great little bar in Oakland, serves these without salt as Bulldogs.  You have to give some props to a live music dive-y joint whose house drink involves serving gin & fresh pressed grapefruit with a big honking slice of a garnish.  (Total aside – if you haven’t been, get thee hence to Oakland for a visit – best damn town in the Bay Area).   So, in homage to Van Kleef – a Salty Dog, with a big ole garnish.

Salty Dog

2 oz. gin
4 oz. grapefruit juice

Build in salt-rimmed highball with ice.  Obnoxious garnish optional.

MxMo LX: The Bitter Mai Tai

Summer is rapidly winding down – I blinked and the days are already getting shorter.  In the Bay Area, its fully into the gloom and chill of Fog-ust.  Meanwhile, back East where I’m vacationing, muggy heat is doing battle with torrential downpours.   In either case, getting away to a tropical island under sunny, blue skies sounds just about right.  Or the liquid equivalent –  a tiki cocktail.

I’ve been wanting for a while to try this contemporary twist on the classic mai tai.   Its intense color just grabs your attention – its such a bright deep…pink.  Thankfully, the “Come to Your Senses!” theme for this month’s Mixology Monday provided the inspiration.  As host David Solmonson at 12 Bottle Bar describes it:

 We all know that cocktails are supposed to taste good, and for this event, we’re going to take that as a given.  What we’re looking for, instead, are drinks that truly excite one or more of the other senses: touch, smell, sight, or even hearing.  Of course, it you want to get scientific about it – and why wouldn’t you – there are even more sensations which can be played with (echolocation, anyone?)

In addition to the intense hue, it has a nice spicy citrus aroma and the large handful of mint garnish is always welcome.  The flavor is definitely different – you can pick up the mai tai, but the bitter Campari is definitely playing equal billing.   It adds a really nice lean complexity to a tropical drink.

Bitter Mai Tai

1 ½ oz. Campari
¾ oz. Jamaican rum (Smith & Cross)
1 oz. lime juice
¾ oz. orgeat
½ oz. curacao

Shake & strain into double Old Fashioned over crushed ice.  Garnish with mint sprig.

Recipe courtesy of Jeremy Ortel, Dram via Imbibe.



MxMo LIX: Charentes Shrub

As soon as I saw the theme for this month’s Mixology Monday, I knew exactly which drink I was going to choose.  I had spied this cocktail as Imbibe Magazine’s Cover Cocktail Contest.  Besides looking as downright pretty as a Mardi Gras Indian, it combined two of my favorite beverage-ables – hoppy beer and odd homemade ingredients.  Plus, the recipe comes courtesy of a bartender from Worcester – Woostah! – so with the Masshole connection, how can you go wrong?

Host Frederic at Cocktail Virgin Slut chose Beer Cocktails, asking participants to –

“Find or concoct a drink recipe that uses beer as an ingredient. Discussing a glass of beer alone is best done elsewhere, but drop a shot of whiskey or gin in there for a Boilermaker or Dog’s Nose, well, now we’re talking. Feel free to use beer in a syrup, as the carbonation in a Fizz, or as the base “spirit” of the drink itself. Old like the Posset and Shandy or new does not matter. Modifying a soda or Champagne cocktail to a beer one?  Go for it.”

In addition to a hoppy IPA, this tall one calls for two homemade ingredients.  The first involves infusing Pineau des Charentes with Earl Grey Tea.  I had never heard of pineau before.  Its a fortified wine that comes from Western France, and is a combination of unfermented grape must combined with cognac, which is then aged in oak barrels.  I found it light and pleasant when chilled – not very complex, sweet, and easily drinkable, especially on a warm day.  I can see why old ladies in France drink it – for some, that might be considered a drawback.  But these days, in the era of mass produced lowest common denominator tastes, I’d say old French ladies probably know where its at.  Especially when you consider the kids are drinking Four Loko.

The second ingredient is a shrub.  Shrubs are generally a combination of fruit juice, sugar and either an acid (usually vinegar) or alcohol.  Erik at the Savoy Project has a nice run-down of some basics of the two different types.  Shrubs go back several centuries.  I’ve seen references to shrubs as a pre-refrigeration era means of preserving fruit for extended periods, being used as a summer beverage in the American Colonial period when mixed with water.  Regardless, they are a relatively easy way to add an usual twist to a cocktail while giving a shout-out to the historical antecedents of modern day cocktails.

It can take a while to get all of the ingredients together for this one, but its worth it.  It has a great combination of layers, while going down far too easy on a hot day.  You could knock these back like a six-pack of tall boys.  Which I guess is appropriate for a beer-inspired cocktail.

1 ½ oz. rye whiskey
¾ oz. Earl Grey-infused Pineau des Charentes
½ oz. rosemary-pineapple shrub
½ oz. fresh lemon juice
2 dashes Angostura orange bitters
2 oz. IPA

Combine all ingredients except the IPA.  Shake & strain into an ice-filled Collins glass.  Top with IPA.  Garnish with pineapple wedge and rosemary sprig.

Tea-infused Pineau des Charentes

Soak 1 Earl Grey teabag in half a 750 ml. bottle of Pineau for 1 ½ hours.

Rosemary-Pineapple Shrub

Slice a small pineapple and place in a jar and cover with cider vinegar.   Infuse for 4 days, shaking once a day. Filter through cheesecloth and bring 6 ounces of pineapple vinegar to a boil with 5 ounces of sugar.  Skim off top layer and add 1 sprig of fresh rosemary.  Boil for 10 minutes, remove from heat, filter and cool before bottling.

Recipe courtesy of David Delaney, The Citizen Wine Bar (via Imbibe.)

MxMo LVIII : Jack Rose

Been pretty sick the last month or so, which really has limited the tippling and the tipple blogging. I am finally over the last dregs of a spring flu, just in time for a Bay Area heat wave – that week or so in late June or early July when we get the kinds of sun, shorts and swimming weather that the rest of the country gets to enjoy all summer long. Which has me in the mood for crisp, icy shaken drinks as well as highballs.

Mixology Monday has rolled around and this month’s host Filip at Adventures in Cocktails has chosen Niche Spirits as his theme. He describes the theme as:

“…any cocktail where the base ingredient is not bourbon, gin, rum, rye, tequila, vodka etc would qualify. So whether you choose Mezcal or Armagnac get creative and showcase your favorite niche spirit.”

In rummaging around my liquor cabinet, I spied a bottle of applejack that I hadn’t touched in a while. Applejack is an American original – an apple brandy that dates to Colonial times that is a rougher, more rustic version of Calvados. It was made by concentrating hard cider through freeze distillation, also known as “jacking”. Today, applejack is made by one company – Laird’s, a company founded by William Laird, a Scotsman who settled in New Jersey in the late 1600s. His descendant’s would serve under George Washington (the only person outside the family to ever be given the recipe for Laird’s applejack) and found the country’s first licensed distillery. To this day, a goodly percentage of their “Jersey Lighting” is consumed in-state.

The modern product is made with a base of neutral grain spirit (aka vodka) combined with apple brandy and diluted to 80 proof. I much prefer Laird’s bottled-in-bond which is straight apple brandy at 100 proof and retains a much more intense apple flavor. Its a perfect base for a retro classic that combines the tartness of citrus and pomegranate with just enough sweetness to fully bring out all the best parts of an apple. And when shaken to an icy chill, a great thirst quencher to kick off the summer.

1 1/2 oz applejack or Laird’s Bottle-in-Bond apple brandy
1/2 oz lemon or lime juice
1/2 oz grenadine*

Shake with ice and strain. Garnish with lemon or lime wedge.

* For my grenadine I use a recipe that combines Tiare’s hibiscus grenadine with Morgenthaler’s pomegranate molasses version. Take 2 cups of pomegranate juice (fresh squeezed or bottled) and combine with 2 cups of sugar, 2 oz. pomegranate molasses, 1 tsp orange blossom water and a handful of dried hibiscus flowers. Warm ever slightly in microwave, just enough for sugar to dissolve. Let steep for an hour or two. Strain out hibiscus, bottle and store in fridge.

Hop Toad

What do you get when you take two guys from one of the godmothers of San Francisco’s market-driven, restaurant-cum-bar cocktail scene, move them into a turn-of-the-last-century Barbary Coast saloon replete with player piano, and then blend a cocktail list of revisited period classics with a dining menu that brings late nineteenth century bar food into the twenty-first?  Answer: Comstock Saloon, a pretty damn good place to spend an evening.  Jeff Hollinger (co-author of Art of the Bar) and Johnny Raglin have come up  with an almost dangerous combination – a menu of salty, savory small plate items like “beef shank & bone marrow pot pie” or “fried oyster & ham po’boy”  that are perfectly suited to devouring with well-crafted cocktails.  I am quite certain that it is a good thing (for me) that I no longer live in the neighborhood.

This is one of the obscure classics on their regular rotation.  David Wondrich has an early print appearance of the recipe coming from The Ideal Bartender (1917) by Tom Bullock of the St. Louis Country Club.  The 1917 version is fairly simple, containing only apricot eau-de-vie and lime juice.  Wondrich prefers that recipe, but its far too dry and one-dimensional for me.  Comstock features a variation that includes rum – in this case, the high proof, full hogo Smith & Cross.  In addition, it uses the sweet liqueur style “apricot brandy” instead of an eau-de-vie.  Finally, some bitters help round it out.  It’s still a drink on the drier side, but a more approachable modern one.

1 1/2 oz. Smith & Cross Jamaican rum
3/4 oz. lime juice
3/4 oz. Rothman & Winter apricot brandy
2 dash Angostura bitters

Shake & strain into cocktail glass.

Recipe courtesy of Comstock Saloon (via SFist).

MxMo LVII: The Bouquet (Floral Round-Up)

Thanks to everyone (all 27 of you!) who dropped by my corner of the Intertubes for MxMo LVII: Flores de Mayo with some great drinks for the springtime.  With all these cocktails to try, I expect I’ll be “in my cups” for quite some time.   Sticking with the format of this blog, which was inspired in part by the index card box that my Mother kept her recipes in, I’m including the ingredient list and directions for each cocktail in the round-up, so y’alls can have it all in one place.  Photo first, then recipe with links.  Bottoms up!

Kennedy gets us rolling with a twist on a traditional crusta and a fantastic “flower” garnish.

Bourbon Bloom

1 1/4 oz. bourbon
1/2 oz. St. Germain elderflower liqueur
1/2 oz. lemon juice
1/4 oz.  simple syrup
2 dashes Angostura orange bitters

Shake & strain into cocktail glass prepared with sugared rim and lemon peel flower.

Recipe courtesy of Kennedy at That’s The Spirit!

Next, Adam takes an ingredient that I am growing increasingly fond of in cocktails – tequila – for a South of the Border spin through the garden.

South of Tuitan

1 3/4 oz. blanco tequila
1/2 oz. elderflower liqueur
2 dashes orange bitters
3/4 oz.  red grapefruit juice

Recipe courtesy of Adam at Inspired Imbibing.

Dominik went the route of a floral infusion – in this case gin and a flower called osmanthus that was new to me.

Osmanthus White Lady

4 cl Osmanthus infused Beefeater 24
2 cl orange liqueur
2 cl lemon juice
splash egg white
dash orange bitters

Shake & strain into cocktail glass.  Garnish with orange spiral.

Recipe courtesy of Dominik at Opinionated Alchemist.

Jon riffs off a selection from Left Coast Libations with a cocktail that looks really quite elegant.

Elderflower Descant

1 oz. Bluecoat gin
3/4 oz. St Germain elderflower liqueur
1/2 oz. lemon juice
1/2 oz. Dolin dry vermouth
dash Clear Creek pear brandy

Shake & strain into cocktail glass.  Garnish with a long twist of orange and a lilac flower.

Recipe courtesy of Jessamyn at Food on the Brain.

Fellow Bay Area boozehound Rowen throws down with tequila and violets – I really need to try this one.

Arrow of Time

1 1/2 oz. blanco tequila
1 oz. Punt e Mes
1/4. oz crème de violette
1 dash Regans’ Orange Bitters

Shake & strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with lemon twist.

Recipe courtesy of Rowen at Fogged In Lounge.

Going old school, Kim spins up the drink that was first responsible for the ever-expanding exotic ingredients section of my bar.


1 1/2 oz. gin
1/2 oz. maraschino liqueur
3/4 oz. lemon juice
a dash of crème de violette

Shake & strain into cocktail glass.  Garnish with cherry.

Recipe courtesy of Understanding Cocktails.

With the weather turning warmer, Mackenzie comes up with a refreshing patio drink.

Greenhouse Collins

1 inch of fresh cucumber
1 3/4 oz. Sagatiba Pura Cachaca
1/2 oz. St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
1/2 oz. lime juice
1/4 oz Orange Tea Syrup*

Muddle cucumber.  Add remaining ingredients, shake & double strain into Collins glass filled with ice.  Top with soda water.  Garnish with cucumber wheel.

* To make orange tea syrup brew one cup of a strongly flavored orange tea (with at lease two tea bags).  Add tea to a pot with equal parts sugar over low heat until all the sugar has dissolved.  Let cool and bottle in your fridge.

Recipe courtesy of The Spirit of Imbibing.

The ever prolific Frederic busts open a can of Creme Yvette and a vintage recipe to provide one pretty looking drink.  (And by pretty, I mean that in the Treme sense.)

Lilac Domino

1 oz. calvados
1 oz. gin
1/2 oz. yellow Chartreuse
1/2 oz. Crème Yvette
1/2 oz. lemon juice

Shake & strain into a cocktail glass.  Garnish with a cherry.

Recipe courtesy of cocktail virgin slut.

In a move sure to rile up half the state of Kentucky, Doug deconstructs a Southern classic and turns the volume to 11.

Mint Julep

2 oz. rye
1 oz. dark rum (not Jamaican)
1/3 oz. simple syrup
8-10 mid-sized fresh mint leaves
1/4 tsp. orange flower water

Place mint leaves in bottom of a double old-fashioned glass, and cover with simple. Muddle gently but thoroughly (don’t tear the leaves). Add other ingredients and stir. Top with crushed ice and swizzle until a good frost develops on the outside of the glass. Garnish with a generous sprig of fresh mint.

Recipe courtesy of The Pegu Blog.

Lindsay offers up not one but two cocktails involving Fernet arm wrestling with roses.

The Gatsby

1 1/4 oz. Four Roses bourbon
3/4 tsp. Fernet Branca
1/3 oz. rosewater simple syrup*

Shake & strain into Collins glass filled with ice.  Top with ginger ale.  Garnish with lemon twist.

The Daisy

1 oz. Hendricks gin
1/2 tsp. Fernet Branca
1/3 oz. rosewater simple syrup*

Shake & strain into champagne flute.  Top with prosecco.  Garnish with lemon twist.

* Rosewater simple syrup – one drop of rosewater per ounce of 2:1 simple syrup.

Recipe courtesy of Mix It Up Cincinnati.

David strolls through his garden and comes up with something so downright pretty, it might make a Mardi Gras Indian cry. (Sorry, can’t help the Treme references – curse you David Simon!)

The Rosemond

2 oz. Leopold’s gin
1 oz hibiscus-infused dry vermouth
0.5 oz rose syrup
2-3 drops of lemon juice

Shake & strain into cocktail glass.  Garnish with rose petal.

Hibiscus-infused dry vermouth – 3-4 hibiscus flowers in 1 cup dry vermouth.  Steep for 2-3 hours in fridge

Rose syrup – Bring 2 cups 1:1 simple syrup to boil with a handful of washed rose petals.  Cover and remove from heat.  Cool, remove petals and add 1 tsp. rosewater & 2 drops orange flower water.

Recipe courtesy of 12 Bottle Bar.

Zachary boldy dives in with a full ounce of creme de violette.  Try not to be scared – Zack promises it is all good.

Rose Window

2 slices pineapple
1 twist orange peel
2 dash orange bitters
1 1/2 oz. gin
1 oz. Campari
1 oz. creme de violette
1/2 oz. lemon juice
1 egg white

Muddle pineapple, orange peel & bitters.  Combine remaining ingredients & dry shake for 45 seconds.  Shake with ice for 30 seconds & strain into cocktail glass.

Recipe courtesy of Kindred Cocktails.

Heading out to one of my favorite states at any time of year, Cory brings us something from the islands – Mahalo!

King Coconut

1 oz. Kai Coconut Pandan vodka
1 oz. Crown Royal Canadian Whiskey
Splash of SpriteServe over ice on rocks glass.

Recipe courtesy of Wang Chung’s.

Inspired by the popular St. Germain liqueur, Marc uses it as inspiration for an elderflower infusion.

Bijou a Fleur

1 1/2 oz. gin
1/2 oz. elderflower infused vodka
1/2 oz.   Cynar
1 tsp.   hibiscus gomme syrup
2 drops orange flower water

Stir & strain into cocktail glass.  Garnish with lemon peel.

Recipe courtesy of A Drinker’s Peace.

Over in the Motor City, home of the MC-5, the greatest Sixties band that no can believe came out the Sixties,  Dave K. takes the Negroni for a Springtime stroll.

Spring Negroni

3/4 oz. Lavender infused gin
3/4 oz. Lillet Blanc
3/4 oz. Aperol
dash of Spring bitters*

Spring bitters – equal parts lemon, orange, grapefruit and Peychaud’s, infused with mint for 24 hours.

Recipe courtesy of the Sugar House Blog.

With a dash of strawberry, Filip brings us a cocktail fit for Mother’s Day.


1 1/2 oz. gin
1/2 oz. St. Germain
1/2 oz. lemon juice
2 dashes orange bitters
1 dash The Bitter Trush Aromatic bitters
1 strawberry
Muddle strawberry then add the ingredients. Shake & double strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a rose petal.

Recipe courtesy of Adventures in Cocktails.

Ed brings us a floral spin on a classic Martini.

English Garden

chive blossoms
2 oz. Bulldog London Dry gin
¾ oz. Dolin Blanc vermouth
2 dashes A. B. Smeby Nasturtium-Cumin Bitters

Lightly muddle chive blossoms.  Stir with other ingredients and strain.  Garnish with fresh chive blossom.

Recipe courtesy of Wordsmithing Pantagruel.

From the barker of this carnival, Paul brings us a new way to enjoy everyone’s favorite green liqueur.

Beuser & Angus Special

1 3/4 oz. green Chartreuse
1 3/4 oz. green Chartreuse
3/4 oz. lime juice
1/2 oz. maraschino liqueur
1/2 tsp. sugar
1 egg white
5 dashes orange flower water

Recipe courtesy of Cocktail Chronicles.

Back in the Pacific Northwest, Chris comes up with not one but two floral cocktails of his bar’s spring menu.


1 1/2 oz. Bols Genever
1 oz. grapefruit juice
1/2 oz. lavender/chamomile infused honey

Shake & strain into coupe. Top with sparkling wine.

1022 Old Fashioned

2 oz. Woodford Reserve bourbon
1/4 oz. simple syrup
3 dashes saffron/cardamom bitters
wide swath of orange peel

Express orange oil into double old fashioned glass and drop peel in.  Add remaining ingredients and stir with large ice cubes.

Recipes courtesy of 1022 South.

Stephan blends the savory with the floral for a garden twist on a mule.

The Mule From The Alamo

1.5 oz. tomato/basil-infused vodka*
1 barspoon of hibiscus grenadine
Juice from half of a fresh lime

Shake & strain into ice-filled rocks glass.  Fill with ginger beer.  Garnish with spent lime shell.

* Infuse vodka with 6 vine ripe tomatoes and 4 ounces of fresh basil for 1-2 weeks.

Recipe courtesy of Liquid Chef.

Chris AKA DJ Hawaiian Shirt provides a great homemade ingredient with a recipe for floral bitters.

Recipe courtesy of Spirited Remix.

Jacob provides a delicious looking submission marrying tequila with the Milanese grappa and flora liqueur Dimmi.

Sally Port Punk

1 oz. blanco tequila
1 oz. white port
1/2 oz. Dimmi
1/2 oz. Campari

Stir & strain.  Garnish with an orange twist.

Recipe courtesy of Liquidity Preference.

Have shaker, will travel Brandon brings the Twentieth Century to the next.

21st Century Girl

1 1/2 oz. gin
3/4 oz. St. Germain
1/2 oz. lemon juice
2 dashed Scrappy’s chocolate bittersShake & strain into cocktail glass.  Garnish with lemon twist.

Recipe courtesy of The Real McCoy.

By way of Martha Stewart (with an assist from Frederic), Nancy combines the vegetal, the herbal and the floral.

Barefoot in the Garden

1 1/2 oz. celery-infused tequila
.3/4 oz. lime juice
3/4 oz. simple syrup
1/2 oz. St. Germain
1/2 oz. Lillet blanc

Shake & strain into a cocktail glass.

Celery-Infused Tequila – 1 1/2 cups tequila, 2 celery leaves & 1 celery stalk cut in half, infused for 2-3 days.

Recipe of courtesy of The Backyard Bartender.

With a bit of tease on the floral ingredient recipe, Amelia provides a drink fit for a warm spring afternoon in the backyard.

Lavender Gin and Tonic

1 1/2 oz. gin
2 dashes lavender bittersCombine with ice in rocks glass and top with tonic water.

Recipe courtesy of Felicia’s Speakeasy.

Finally, my submission via my favorite drink from the Left Coast Libations book party.

Sandalwood Sour

1 1/2 oz. Plymouth gin
1/2 z.  lemon juice
1/2 oz.  lime juice
1/2 oz. saffron sharbat (see below)
1 barspoon Angostura bitters
1 egg white

Dry shake without ice for 20-30 seconds.  Add ice and shake until frosty.  Strain into cocktail glass and garnish with grated sandalwood.

Saffron Sharbat

1 1/4 cups water
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup rosewater
1/4 rounded tsp. saffron
1 Tbs. boiling water

Place 1 Tbs. boiling water into a small bowl and add crushed saffron threads.  Steep for 15 minutes.  Add rosewater.

Mix water and sugar in a saucepan over low heat and dissolve.  Add rosewater saffron mixture.  Simmer for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat, let cool and store in bottle.  Store in refridgerator.  You can leave in saffron threads or strain.  Makes enough for 16 cocktails.  Can also be used as a flavored syrup with soda water.

Recipe courtesy of Moi.

Bobby Burns

I first came across this recipe in Jeff Hollinger and Rob Schwartz’s excellent book – Art of the Bar: Cocktails Inspired by the Classics.  The book is from 2006 and captures a period when modern cocktail bars – focused on high quality ingredients, restored classics, a speakeasy style atmosphere – were just starting to open.  (Audrey Saunder’s Pegu Club, for example, had just opened about a year earlier.)  On the West Coast in the birthplace of Chez Panisse and California cuisine, this meant bartenders drawing inspiration from fresh, seasonal ingredients.   Jeff and Rob were managing the bar at Absinthe  Brasserie & Bar, a trend setting “New American” style restaurant that featured an equally excellent full bar program.  It was a combination that was rare at the time, but is now almost ubiquitous in the restaurant scene in places like San Francisco or New York.

Since then, of course, the movement has exploded to the point that even mid-sized cities and towns can boast of at least one “mixology” bar – when even my Rust Belt, blue collar  hometown has a speakeasy, you know a trend has gone national.    Things have changed rapidly and the quality of the bar scene has improved dramatically.  As a result, I’ve found the recipes in the book to be a bit of a mix.  Some still taste fresh and interesting, while others have a dated feel or don’t quite hit the mark.   Partially, I think that is due to a more limited access to niche spirits that we now take for granted.  (Shudder to think about those dark days when one couldn’t get creme de violette for an Aviation! God save Eric Seed.)  It was also during a transition time from the Cosmopolitan and Key Lime Pie on one side of the divide, and the Martinez and Ginger Rogers on the other – all recipes included in the book.

The flipside is many of the recipes are a bit more straight-forward, which is a blessing on those days when I come home exhausted from work and don’t feel like dealing with muddling or tinctures or ingredient lists seven items long.  If you like a Rob Roy, I think you’ll like this even better.  The addition of a barspoon full of herbal liqueur smoothes out the rough edges quite well.  Art of the Bar called for Benedictine, per the original published recipe in Old Waldorf Bar Days (1931).  However, David Embury in The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks includes two recipes, one with Benedictine and the other with Drambuie.  I preferred the latter, but both are good.  Slainte!

2 oz. blended Scotch
1 oz. sweet vermouth
2 dashes Drambuie or Benedictine
dash of Peychaud’s or angostura bitters

Stir & strain into cocktail glass.  Garnish with lemon peel.

Recipe courtesy of Art of the Bar and Looka!.


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