I am neither a bartender nor a chef by vocation. Nor have I received any formal training. I am a practicing Anesthesiologist who enjoys good food and craft cocktails.This site is meant to share techniques, recipes and insights with those who enjoy creating great food and drink.
This cocktail has all of the flavors of your favorite gin Martini with the added herbals of Kina al Avion d’Or. Plus, the botanicals in the vermouth are enhanced by creating the vermouth syrup. Curl My Toes has become one of “Doc’s Greatest Hits” at parties and Pop Ups.
While making beer syrup standing at the stove stirring, my eyes fell upon an open bottle of vermouth on the counter awaiting its use in cooking. I had read about and tasted beer syrup, but I’d never heard of vermouth syrup. A quick Google consultation confirmed no results. After some experimentation, I settled on equal parts dry vermouth and sugar
To my palate, dry vermouth is more herbal than sweet vermouth. So dry vermouth syrup tastes nothing like sweet vermouth. In this cocktail, the dry vermouth syrup brings a touch of sweetness to offset the bitter Kina and a nice mouth feel.
I have tried this with multiple gins including London Dry’s and the new style herbal gins. I’ve even subbed Kinsmen Rakia for the gin. It all works.
Curl My Toes
2 oz. Premium gin such as Uncle Val’s Botanical
1/2 oz. Dry Vermouth Syrup – see below
1/4 oz. Kina al Avion d’Or
Fresh herbs such as thyme and sage plus a dried lemon wheel for garnish
Chill a cocktail glass with ice and water
Add all ingredients, except the garnish to a mixing glass with ice
Double strain into chilled glass
Spank the herbs in your palm and float on the dried lemon wheel or on the drink
1 part Dry Vermouth
1 part Sugar
The best way is to combine vermouth and sugar in a blender and blend on high several minutes until the sugar is dissolved. You maintain the flavors of the vermouth if you don’t heat the syrup. But, if you don’t have a blender, you can combine vermouth and sugar in a sauce pan and heat just until the sugar dissolves. Do not allow the syrup to boil.
Either way, strain through fine mesh strainer into a glass bottle. Keeps refrigerated for about a few weeks.
I really like bitters forward old fashioneds. To me, bitters bring flavor and spice that you aren’t going to find elsewhere. One way to get a lot of bitters into a cocktail without making it, well, too bitter, is to make a syrup with bitters as all or part of the liquid. For this drink I have chosen Applejack, brown sugar and black walnut bitters to use in the syrup. It is then combined with calvados, bourbon and rum.
This is a big drink in size, strength and flavor. The taste of apple blends with the vanilla and spice from the rum and the combined smoky notes of the rum and bourbon. The black walnut bitters really stand out. I initially used Fees Brothers Aztec Chocolate Bitters, but I think that Angostura Bitters with the Fees Brothers Black Walnut Bitters and Orange Bitters is better.
You can easily lighten up this drink by substituting Cruzan Dark Aged Rum for the Zaya and/or Russell’s 10 year old Bourbon for the Basil Hayden’s.
Here is the recipe:
1 oz. Calvados
1 oz. Aged rum such as Zaya 12 Year Old
1 oz. Aged bourbon such as Basil Hayden’s
1 oz. Black Walnut Syrup (See below)
1 bar spoon honey syrup (1 part honey dissolved in 1 part water)
2 dashes Fees Brothers Black Walnut Bitters
2 dashes Fees Brothers Orange Bitters
2 dashes Fees Brothers Aztec Bitters or Angostura Bitters
Thick orange peel for garnish
Stir all ingredients, except the garnish, in a mixing glass with ice.
Strain into a chilled old fashioned glass with fresh ice – preferably a single large cube or sphere
Express the orange oils over the drink and float the peel.
Black Walnut Syrup
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 oz. Applejack
1 oz. Fees Brothers Black Walnut Bitters
In a small sauce pan over medium heat, dissolve the sugar in the liquid, stirring frequently. Or you can put all of the ingredients in a blender and run on high for a few minutes.
Allow to cool
It will keep longer if you filter it through a metal coffee filter to remove any undissolved sugar crystals.
I enjoy paring cocktails with food, especially if creating a new drink. We were serving salmon and asparagus the other day. Since asparagus does not pare with any wine, this seemed the perfect opportunity for a cocktail! Cue the Flavor Bible. (If you cook, and or make cocktails, you need this book!) I simply looked up salmon and asparagus comparing them for complementary flavors in common. I chose thyme, lemon and carrots. Yes, carrots.
Fish in general tastes best with a light, dry beverage. Heavy or sweet can hide some of the subtle flavors inherent to fish. In this case, I chose a gin martini. You could substitute vodka for the gin, but you will lose the herbal notes that work so well. I selected Ki No Bi gin for its flavors of kumquat, orange oil, juniper, spice and a slight bitterness of wormwood. I used Reisetbauer Carrot Eau de Vie that has an intense bright taste of carrots. Lemon peel expressed over the drink and fresh thyme as a garnish completed the complementary flavors.
The Mad Hatter Martini
As noted above, I used Ki No Bi gin. Your favorite gin will work quite nicely in the cocktail. I would avoid the highly herbal gins as they might overpower the subtle carrot. If you find this too bitter for your taste, decrease the amount of vermouth or make it a perfect with 1/2 bianco vermouth.
The nose is thyme, lemon and citrus. First flavors are clean, herbal, with a touch of spice. Then you note subtle carrots and juniper. The finish is long and dry.
1 1/2 oz Gin
1/2 oz Premium dry vermouth (or 1/4 oz dry & 1/4 oz. bianco vermouth)
1/4 oz. Reisetbauer Carrot Eau de Vie
2-3 drops Bitter Truth Olive Bitters
Lemon peel for expressing
Fresh thyme for garnish
Dried lemon wheel for garnish (optional)
Chill a cocktail glass with ice and water
Combine the gin, vermouth, eau de vie and bitters in a mixing glass with ice and stir to chill
Double strain into the chilled cocktail glass
Express the lemon peel over the drink and discard
Spank the thyme and float it on the dried lemon peel
When we host a party, my wife often tells me she wants a cocktail(s) that will pair with food “X” for which she can coordinate a name, even the colors she wants. This time she wanted a cocktail with tequila and pineapple. While there are a few delicious, classic pineapple/tequila cocktails, most of these drinks are sweet and poorly balanced. Now I’ll digress!
You can download this spread sheet, Pineapple Simple Sour, follow the directions and skip the explanation below. Then just jump down to the recipe here.
The problem you encounter when you substitute one juice for another in a cocktail, especially if you swap a citrus for a non-citrus juice, is loss of balance. The drink easily becomes too sweet, (the most frequent result), too sour (acidic), too bitter, too strong or too weak. The example for this cocktail is pineapple juice, but this discussion is equally true of orange, strawberry, apple or practically any juice. When you substitute all or part of lime or lemon juice with pineapple juice, you are decreasing the primarily acidic and not very sweet lime/lemon juice and adding the sweet and not as acidic pineapple juice. Lime juice is 6% acid and 1.5% sugar, while pineapple juice is 0.8% acid and 10% sugar. Let’s say that you have a cocktail that is:
2 parts Spirit (45% ABV)
2 parts Lime juice
The above drink will have an ABV of 22.5% and will be 3% acid and 0.75% sugar … and will not be very good. If you were to add 2 parts pineapple juice, your drink will have an ABV of 15%, and will be 2% acid and about 4% sugar. While adding pineapple juice to the above drink would probably be an improvement, it will still be a completely different cocktail. Now, think about the above with 1 part simple syrup. Figuring out how to maintain the cocktails sweet/sour balance quickly becomes mind numbing.
Dave Arnold extensively covers all of this in his book, Liquid Intelligence. A book I highly recommend. His suggestion for solving the above substitutions is to add acid to the juice to make it equal in acidity to lime juice. Then you can sub away. I heard Dave speak at this year’s San Antonio Cocktail Conference. In addition to discussing the above, Dave covered creating fruit juice syrup with the same sugar content by weight as 1:1 simple syrup. It is not uncommon for a cocktail to be 20% simple syrup. That means a 20% dilution. If you use a fruit simple syrup, you will still be diluting the ABV and acidity, but you’ll at least be enforcing the fruit flavor. This is all a whole lot easier than it sounds.
Acidifying Fruit Juice
Lime juice has both citric and malic acids. So, to acidify a juice, you need only know the percent acid in that juice and subtract that from 6% (the acid content of lime juice). Since pineapple juice is 0.8% acid, 6%-0.8% = 5.2%. To acidify a liter of pineapple juice, you will add 32 gm of citric acid and 20 gm of malic acid. Pineapple juice has a highly variable quantity of pulp, even if you filter it. This means that 1 liter of pineapple juice will actually weigh more than 1 Kg. However, it usually makes little difference, so you can just measure out 1 liter of juice and add 32 gm of citric acid and 20 gm of malic acid. The spread sheet above, actually asks you to weigh 1 cup of juice because it also calculates your pineapple simple syrup.
Making Pineapple Simple Syrup
Simple syrup is made by dissolving 1 part sugar in 1 part water. This should be by weight, though it’s frequently made by volume. The issue with making a syrup from fruit juice is that the juice already contains sugar. Adding the full quantity of sugar by weight or by volume will result in a syrup that is too sweet, thus easily unbalancing your cocktail. To avoid this, you need to know the weight of sugar in the juice and the weight of the liquid – which will equal the weight of the sugar to make 1:1. If you’re using bottled juice, just look at the label to see the weight of sugar in a “serving” of the juice. The weight of sugar per volume will vary by brand. The nutritional chart shown here indicates that 240 ml of juice contains 30 grams of sugar. If you’re using fresh juice, consult the Google! So to use this juice:
Weigh 240 ml of juice in grams
Subtract 30 grams (the weight of sugar in that juice) to calculate the weight of liquid.
The weight of the liquid will equal the weight of sugar needed. But you already have 30 grams of sugar. So subtract 30 from the calculated weight of liquid to equal the weight of additional sugar needed.
So by example:
Lets say the 240 ml of juice weighed 250 grams
The liquid weight will equal: 250-30 = 220 grams
You need 220 grams of sugar. But, you already have 30 grams.
Therefore, the weight of additional sugar needed will equal 220-30 = 190 grams.
The only extra tool you will need for this is a digital kitchen or postal scale that will measure in grams. You can purchase one from Amazon here. You will also need to purchase citric and malic acid, also available from Amazon.
The name of this cocktail is derived from Ghost Tequila and the fact that I made the drink for my birthday! The flavors are pineapple and the tequila with the Ghost Tequila bringing just a touch of heat. You can alter the amount of Ghost Tequila to adjust the spiciness to fit your taste.
1/2 oz. Ghost Tequila
1 1/2 oz. Silver tequila such as Milagro
2 1/2 oz. Acid adjusted pineapple juice
1 1/2 oz Pineapple Simple Syrup
1/4 oz. Cointreau or triple sec
To make the Acidified Pineapple juice and the pineapple simple syrup, refer to the spread sheet: Pineapple Simple Sour
I fell in love with Suze at first taste. The full-bodied citrus and herbs and the long spicy, bitter finish had me! I frequently use it as a modifier to add richness and a little herbal bitterness to various cocktails. Almost a secret ingredient.
I created this cocktail to highlight the flavors of Suze. After trying multiple styles of gin, I settled on Navy Strength Plymouth Gin. Various London dries and Botanist were also very good. I further experimented with vermouth. Sweet vermouth alone does not work well. A premium dry or a “perfect” with dry and bianco are best.
I’ve been making variations of this cocktail for a few years. Only recently have I added Bigallet’s Thym. While totally optional, the Thym enhances the woody notes of the Suze and prolongs the herbal flavors into the finish. Just remember that the Thym is the modifier here. More than 3 or 4 drops will result in a powerful taste of thyme. The nose is lemon and faint herbs. The first flavors are herbal and a touch woody. Juniper follows with continued herbs and just a hint of thyme. The finish is herbal, spicy and clean
2 oz. Navy Strength Gin (Plymouth)
1 oz. Premium Dry Vermouth such as Carpano
1/2 oz. Suze
3-4 drops Bigallet’s Thym (or half a bar spoon) – optional
Lemon peel for garnish
Dried lemon wheel and/or sprig of fresh thyme for garnish – optional
Chill a cocktail glass with ice and water
Combine all of the ingredients, except the garnishes, in a mixing glass with ice and stir to chill
Double strain into chilled cocktail glass
Express lemon peel over drink and discard
If using, dress up your cocktail with the dried lemon wheel, spank the thyme and float it on the lemon wheel.