Monday, May 21, 2018

cigarettes and chocolate milk

1 oz Michter's Bourbon
1 oz Hamilton's Demerara Rum (*)
1/2 oz Coffee Heering
1/2 oz Cynar
1/4 oz Crème de Cacao

Stir with ice, strain into a rocks glass, and garnish with orange oil from a twist.
(*) Sahil made the drink earlier in the evening with the 86 proof but ran out. When I requested it, he tried it with the 151 proof. It shifted the balance away from the whiskey and more towards the rum.

Two Mondays ago, Andrea and I ventured down to Estragon for dinner. For a cocktail, I asked bartender Sahil Mehta for his drink of the day. Sahil described how the evening's cool weather made him veer away from a citrus drink, so he offered a straight spirits number. With the coffee liqueur and smoky Guyanese rum, he wanted to call this Coffee and Cigarettes, but he ended up naming it Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk after the Rufus Wainwright song.
The Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk began with a caramel, smoky Demerara rum, and bright orange oil bouquet that led into a caramel and roast-filled sip. Next, the swallow offered rum, molasses, and mocha flavors that reminded me of an Imperial stout beer.

Sunday, May 20, 2018


1 oz Mezcal
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Pineapple Juice
1/2 oz Carpano Antica (Maurin Sweet Vermouth)
1/4 oz Crème de Cacao (Tempus Fugit)
1 bsp Campari
1 bsp Grenadine

Shake with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with an orange twist.

On my walk home from work two Sunday nights ago, I began perusing the OnTheBar app's recipe collection for mezcal drinks. There, I spotted Dan Braganca's Langosta that he crafted at Backbar in 2015. Dan was inspired by two events on a trip to Portland, Maine. The first of these was a shot of mezcal, pineapple juice, and Campari that he was served at the Bearded Lady' Jewel Box; the second was a chocolate lobster candy left on his pillow at the hotel. These ingredients got Dan thinking about the Floridita from Cuba and the Tortuga from Trader Vic. Dan also included the equal part Campari and grenadine mix that Trader Vic utilized a lot and that I described in a bit more depth here; moreover, a Torturga riff I wrote about called the Isla Tortuga also opted for that combination. Finally, Dan dubbed his libation the Langosta after the Spanish word for "lobster."
The Langosta proffered smoke overlying bright orange oils and other fruit notes to the nose. Next, lime, pineapple, and grape on the sip led into mezcal and pineapple on the swallow with a bitter chocolate finish.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

singapore sling

2 oz Pineapple Juice
1 1/2 oz Plymouth Gin (Beefeater)
1/2 oz Cherry Heering
1/2 oz Grenadine
1/4 oz Cointreau
1/4 oz Benedictine
1/4 oz Lime Juice
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Shake with ice, strain into a Collins glass filled with ice (wine glass without ice), and garnish with a cherry and a pineapple slice (omit garnish).

Two Saturdays ago, I decided to make the Singapore Sling for the blog. It was a drink I frequently made a few months ago as it was one of the two dozen or so gin classics on the menu at Our Fathers; in fact, one thing I did to speed up the process was making "Sling Juice" that was a one ounce dispense of the three liqueurs from a cheater bottle. The recipe that I utilized here was the one from the PDT Cocktail Book; the one at Our Fathers was similar save for the gin call and only a quarter ounce of grenadine. Moreover, I opted here for a fashion closer to the way we served it at the bar which was in a cocktail coupe sans garnish. While the Singapore Sling was perhaps created around or before 1915 at the Raffles Hotel by bartender Ngiam Tong Boon, the recipe above is a more modern one. Moreover, the recipes for this drink vary greatly in the literature.

To get at the heart of the matter, I went back to my notes from Tales of the Cocktail 2016 to a talk by Jared Brown entitled, "The Life & Times of the Singapore Sling." Singapore is a one city country in the East India Isle chain near Vietnam. The various islands there all adopted Slings as a popular drink type. Sir Stanford Raffles worked for the East India Trading Company in the 19th century, and he selected Singapore to settle down since it was not occupied by the Dutch like many of the other islands. The hotel itself opened for business in 1887.

Slings have a long history with one of the earliest mentions being in 1759 from the History of Sweden where it noted that "Long-sup or sling was one half water and one half rum with sugar in it to taste." In 1862, Jerry Thomas defined the Gin Sling as the same as the Gin Toddy except a little nutmeg is grated on the top. So with sugar, water, gin, and ice, the Gin Sling appeared to have been derived from Punch with the citrus and spice dropped from the roster (the nutmeg garnish could be considered a spice in a way). By the turn of the 20th century, the drink was so common that there was a dedicated glass -- an article in 1903 mentioned a "Gin Sling glass" in Borneo. Around 1908 is when the Gin Sling is speculated to have arrived in Singapore, and the first recipe for a Gin Sling there was recorded in 1913 with a description of "They walked into the S.C.C. [Singapore Cricket Club] and ordered one cherry brandy, one D.O.M. [Benedictine], one gin, one lime juice, some ice, water, and a few dashes of bitters." The bartenders apparently would not mix it for them, so the guests chose to assemble the drink for themselves.

Ngiam Tong Boon started bartending in the late 1890s before retiring shortly before his death in 1918. He is believed to have created the Singapore Sling around 1915, but not the Singapore Sling recipe that is served today at the Raffles Hotel. Moreover, attribution of the drink occurred several decades after his death, so it may be inaccurate (see the Wondrich hoax link below where a recipe was found in a hotel safe). Around that time in the 1910s, a dozen bars in Singapore were making Gin Slings and half of those had a drink called the Singapore Sling. The Straits Hotel has a famous Straits Sling of gin, cherry brandy, Benedictine, Angostura Bitters, and orange bitters, and other places were making their pinkish Slings with sloe gin or claret in place of the cherry brandy. Jared surmised that Boon made the best one of these Singapore Slings which is why it survived and got famous.

During the 1930s and 1940s, the Savoy Cocktail Book, Café Royal Cocktail Book, Stork Club, and Trader Vic's Bartender's Guide all published recipes, and Jared suggested that the Stork Club's was the closest. In tracing the drink recipe's history, the 1960s saw recipes that included orange liqueur as well as the orange-cherry garnish. And by the 1970s, pineapple juice had entered the equation along with gin, the three liqueurs, lime juice, and Angostura Bitters. Jared's history did not mention when grenadine appeared, but David Wondrich at a 2017 Tales of the Cocktail talk on "Great Hoaxes of Cocktail History discussed the financial desire to make the drink more affordable to produce. The drink had always been pink, so perhaps grenadine replaced some of the cherry liqueur as a cost saving measure along with the extra juices not found in the early recipes.
So the bottom line is that the original sling was probably closer to the Raffles Hotel Sling (here is a rum riff of it from the 1970s). As prepared in this more modern way, the Singapore Sling yielded pineapple, cherry, and clove aromas that later yielded gin notes to the nose as it warmed up. Next, creamy pineapple and vague fruit notes played on the sip, and the swallow offered gin, cherry, and pineapple flavors with an herbal finish.

As I curious side note, I was reminded of a 2009 recipe for a Shanghai Sling that I created as a Raffles Hotel Sling that swapped Chinese 5 spice syrup for the Benedictine.

Friday, May 18, 2018

library card

1 1/2 oz Scotch (1 1/4 oz Famous Grouse + 1/4 oz Laphroaig 10 Year)
1/2 oz Bonal (or other) Quinquina
1/2 oz Cynar
1/2 oz Apricot Liqueur (Rothman & Winter)

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with an orange twist.

Two Friday nights ago, I was reminded of the great flavor combination of dark amari (like Cynar and Averna) and apricot, and it made me think about the Mulberry Bend and other recipes where it worked well. Given how my blended Scotch at home, Famous Grouse, has an apricot undertone perhaps from the Glenrothes single malt in the recipe, Scotch seemed to be a direction. To fill out the recipe, I kept with my quinquina kick, but decided to give Bonal some love over Byrrh. For a name, I had the blended Scotch brand Bank Note in my head and it made me think of the the 1970s era checkout card at the back of the retired library book on Scotch that I bought used; therefore, I went with the Library Card.
The Library Card shared peat smoke brightened by orange oils on the nose. Next, malt, grape, and a fruitiness from the apricot brandy on the sip gave way to smoky whisky and bitter apricot on the swallow with an orange-apricot and quinine finish.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

desk job

3/4 oz Zacapa 23 Rum (Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva)
3/4 oz Smith & Cross Rum
3/4 oz Punt e Mes
3/4 oz Cynar

Stir with ice, strain into a rocks glass with ice, and garnish with a lime twist.
For a nightcap after my Thursday night bar shift two weeks ago, I returned to Food & Wine: Cocktails 2016 and landed on the Desk Job. The recipe was crafted by Donny Clutterbuck of Rochester's The Cure as his happy hour drink if he had a desk job. The dual rums, vermouth, and Cynar aspect reminded me of the Blossom Bar's Palm Viper, but here there was extra depth from a bitter vermouth and a funky rum. Once prepared, the Desk Job's lime oils from the twist joined the caramel and rum funk bouquet on the nose. Next, grape and caramel paired elegantly on the sip, and the swallow brought forth funky rum matching funky bitter flavors.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018


2/3 Bacardi (2 oz Barbancourt 8 Year + 1/4 oz Smith & Cross)
2 dash Cointreau (1/4 oz)
2 dash Kümmel (1/4 oz Helbing)
2 dash Maraschino (1/4 oz Luxardo)

Stir with ice and strain.
After my bar shift two Wednesdays ago, I dove into Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars: 1903-1933 for a nightcap. There, the Minsky with its spirit, Maraschino, and kümmel reminded me of William Schmidt's 1891 Gladstone from a few weeks ago, so I was curious to see what a rum-forward cousin would be like. In the glass, the Minsky proffered Jamaican rum funk and hints of caraway to the nose. Next, caramel from the aged rum on the sip gave way to rum, nutty, and orange flavors on the swallow with a cumin followed by caraway finish.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

spider of the evening

1 oz Blanco Tequila (Cimmarron)
1 oz Swedish Punsch (Kronan)
1/2 oz Campari
1/2 oz Passion Fruit Syrup
3/4 oz Lime Juice

Build in a Collins glass, fill with crushed ice, and swizzle to mix and chill. Garnish with 3 dash mole bitters (Bittermens) and add a straw.

Two Tuesdays ago, I set out to craft a Swizzle utilizing Katie Emerson's tribute to the Death & Co. formula, the Company Swizzle, as my recipe skeleton. For a spirit and fortified wine combination, my mind drifted to tequila and Swedish punsch which worked great in my Metexa riff Chutes & Ladders. While Swedish punsch is not a fortified wine, it can act as a substitute for one as demonstrated in Crosby Gaige's 1941 Corpse Reviver #2 which swapped the punsch for the original's Lillet. Tequila and Swedish punsch went rather well with Campari in the Mambo #5, and Campari and passion fruit are a match made in heaven as I first discovered in the Novara. Finally, lime juice and molé bitters garnish were the last two elements of the Company Swizzle format to round out the recipe.
My Eyes on the Table named after Remedios Varo kept me in the surrealist painting mindset, so I began looking over Salvador Dali works. Given the tequila aspect, I did confirm that Dali visited Mexico, but he found that he could not stay there, for "There is no way I'm going back to Mexico. I can't stand to be in a country that is more surrealist than my paintings." His 1940 Spider of the Evening seemed to connect with the feel of the drink and won out here. In the glass, the Swizzle donated a chocolate aroma from the bitters that later allowed hints of the agave spirit through. Next, lime and a touch of passion fruit danced on the sip, and the swallow gave forth tequila and a tropical orange flavor that came across in an almost grapefruity way.

Monday, May 14, 2018

french aquatics

2 oz Orgeat
1 oz Calvados (Boulard VSOP)
1 oz VS Cognac (Courvoisier)
1/2 oz Hamilton's Demerara 151 Proof Rum (Lemon Hart 151)
1 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Pineapple Juice

Shake with ice and pour into a Collins glass.

For a drink to round out that Monday night two weeks ago, I perused Food & Wine: Cocktails 2016 for a recipe idea. There, I landed upon the French Aquatics crafted by Cleveland bartender Shannon Smith at the Tiki Room and Porco Lounge. His creation paid tribute to French ingredients in classic Tiki, and here, orgeat, Calvados, and Cognac were three of the main players in a Scorpion Bowl-like number.
The French Aquatics greeted the nose with apple and nutty aromas with a brightness from the citrus. Next, a creamy sip shared tropical notes from the pineapple, and the swallow gave forth apple, Cognac, pineapple, and nutty orgeat flavors to make for a rather fruity but complex refresher.

improved dunlop

2 oz Croft Reserve Tawny Port
1 oz Clement 6 Year Rhum Agricole
1/4 bsp Cane Syrup
1 dash Mole Bitters

Stir with ice, strain into a double old fashioned glass with a large ice cube, and garnish with a grapefruit twist.

Two Mondays ago, I attended a seminar on port wine at the Hawthorne given by Chris Forbes, a Fladgate Export Manager, and Andy Seymour of Liquid Productions. Throughout the seminar, we tasted various ports as well as a handful of port cocktails crafted by Liquid Production's Lulu Martinez. One of my favorites of the collection was a simple modification of the Dunlop that appeared in the 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book. The Savoy's Dunlop was a 2:1 rum to sherry cocktail embittered by Angostura akin to Trader Vic's Arawak. Here, the fortified wine was swapped to tawny port, the rum to wine proportions were inversed, and the bitters were changed to chocolate molé. Andy started his talk by describing how underdog spirits can be introduced to people using cocktails as a bridge, and this strategy worked wonders for gin, mezcal, and sherry. So here, a sherry drink was elegantly modified into a port one.
The Improved Dunlop greeted the senses with bright grapefruit oils that countered darker notes from the port on the nose. Next, the sip showcased a crisp grape note, and the swallow had grassy rhum meeting earthy grape and dried fruit notes with a chocolate and acid-rich finish.