Two For The Bar is a space dedicated to illustrating the magic of shared experience that can occur in the presence of a great cocktail and a talented bartender. These stories and recipes are meant to highlight what I have come to love about craft cocktail culture and perhaps even inspire readers to go and experience it for themselves.
You know what one of my favourite things about cocktails is? The happy accidents! The times where you mistakenly pour in rye instead of bourdon or you run out of one ingredient and sub in another just to discover (again) that necessity is the mother of invention. This is how many a cocktail have been born in our home.
For example, last week I was warming up a pot of mulled wine, following a classic Martha Stewart recipe. I had forgotten that I wasn’t working with a full 750ml bottle as I had used a bit for cooking earlier that day. As I added in the ½ cup of honey the recipe called for, I quickly realized that it was going to be way to sweet. Without a second bottle of wine on hand to balance it out, I decided the only logical answer was more booze- and not more of the brandy the recipe already called for. No! I decided what this simmering pot of spiced goodness really needed was bourbon. And somehow the minimal additional just pulled all the ingredients together beautifully. I’m sure I’m not the first person to modify their mulled wine with a bit of whiskey and I certainly won’t be the last. But going forward, a splash of bourbon will always be included in my mulled wine recipe!
Recipe (Adapted from Martha Stewart):
The peel of one orange
The peel of one lemon
6 whole cloves
2 star anise
2 cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick
1 bottle of red wine (cheap and cheerful- I used a Merlot)
6 allspice berries
½ cup of honey
¼ cup brandy
¼ cup bourbon
Combine all ingredients in a pot over medium heat. Once it begins to simmer, reduce to medium low and allow to slow simmer for 30 minutes. Strain out spices and peels. Serve in a mug or glass. Garnish with a cinnamon stick and a clove-studded orange peel.
Bottom of the Barrel- where questionable spirits get a helping hand from some very skilled bartenders! Last time we paid a visit to Rod Redford at The Diamond where he was tasked with creating something out Palm Bay Key Lime Cherry. Up next is Matt Benevoli of Nomad Restaurant who was recently gifted a bottle of Russo Pistachio Cream.
Matt took this challenge by the horns and created something that’s not only palatable but that he’s really quite proud of (as he should be). It’s nutty, it’s effervescent, it’s original and it’s damn tasty! Benevoli suggests that this drink is best enjoyed while listening to it’s namesake song- Speak No Americano. Enjoy!
Speak No Americano
40ml Russo Pistachio Cream Liqueur
30ml Marquis De Villard VSOP French Brandy
10ml Alvear Medium Sherry
7.5ml Lemon Juice
7.5ml Wild Blossom Honey Syrup
1 egg white
Dry shake all ingredients minus Tonic, add ice and shake well. Double
Strain into short Collins glass. Add Tonic Water to shaker, swirl with ice and pour over head of cocktail.
Oh my gosh folks! Where have I been for the past couple of months. Great question! The answer is long and winding but mostly involves many a weekend spent eating, drinking and taking photos in Portland, OR (shocker, I know). For the past two years in a row, September has meant Feast PDX- the city’s food festival dotted with celebrity chefs, local makers, artisanal sandwich competitions and an entire evening dedicated to smoked BBQ. Count me in.
I returned for the second year in a row to photograph a few events, co-mingle with some fellow bloggers and of course, eat and drink all of the things.
Where I Stayed:
This time around I settled in at the Hi-Lo Hotel which just opened this year at the corner of SW 4th and Stark. The hotel is housed in the 1910 Oregon Pioneer Building and drew on the talents of local makers to furnish the new space. From Pendleton Wool blankets to Maak Lab’s shampoo and conditioner to reclaimed wood from Pioneer Millworks, the space really highlights some of the best the city and state have to offer.
My personal favourite touch were the swings in the lobby which I sat in every day while sipping on my morning coffee. Well…..that and the MASSIVE shower in my room. Seriously, I could have have fit my entire apartment in the bathroom (ok….not my entire apartment but definitely my kitchen). It was a luxury to come home to after a long day of shooting.
What I Did:
Because I was actually in Portland to photograph events at Feast, most of my time was spent doing just that….not that I’m complaining! Anytime I get to listen to people talk food and drink while sipping on a sampling of local beers and taking the occasional picture, I’m happy as a clam.
This year I photographed three events including a seminar on Beaujolais moderated Bon Appetit Wine Editor Marissa Ross (if you don’t know of her work, look her up! She recently wrote a book and she’s a hilarious human being).
And I wouldn’t be much of a cocktail writer if I didn’t attend a cocktail event, so I did! Demystifying the Cocktail with Daniel Shoemaker (owner of Teardrop Lounge and co-owner of The Commissary/Superjugoso) and Sean Hoard (formerly of PDT, Teardrop and current co-owner of The Commissary/Superjugoso). The two teamed up to teach a barful of eager imbibers how to drink well and how to communicate more effectively with your bartender. We all walked away happy, a bit tipsy and a lot more knowledgeable about how to be a rad bar patron that knows what they want.
Where I Ate:
So the truth of the matter is I didn’t have a ton of spare time to hit up a bunch of restaurants on the trip but even on the busiest of weekends, there are a few spots that can’t be missed.
Little Bird Bistro’s burger is top of my list. On my first night in town, I sidled up to the bar by myself and savoured every bite of their burger ordered L’Americaine with a glass of red selected by the bartender to wash it all down.
I also always make time to visit the fine folks at Bar Casa Vale for a little chorizo-style charred octopus and a gin and tonic. And somehow, amid all of the hustle and bustle of the weekend, I managed to sneak away for a friend brunch at Milk Glass Market- my first visit to the cafe but definitely not my last. Just order anything on their buttermilk biscuits. You won’t be disappointed. I promise.
This is nowhere near an exhaustive list of my favourite spots in the city. I plan to post a more comprehensive city guide in the near future but in the meantime, never hesitate to email me if you’re headed to Portland. There are so many spots that are dear to my heart and I’m always happy to share with folks eager to explore the city! Cheers y’all!
Three Parts is a column inspired by the Jack Rose Society- a group of bartenders in Boston that set out to test classic cocktail recipes until they landed on their favourite iteration. The concept is simple- we ask three bartenders to provide their preferred recipe for one classic cocktail. This week we’re looking at the margarita.
Beckaly Franks Owner- The Pontiac
1.5 Derrumbes San Luis
0.75 dry curaçao
1 tsp 2:1
Shake, rocks, grapefruit oil
“San Luis is the most vegetal mezcal I have ever had. It taste like pickled okra!!!! It also comes across more sweet on the palate (it is not sweet) so dry curaçao helps balance that out. 2:1 for viscosity and grapefruit for aromatics and bitterness. Grapefruit and mezcal hold hands. They just fit.”
Bobby Heugel Owner- Anvil Bar and Refuge
1 oz Cabeza Blanco Tequila
1 oz Del Maguey Chichicapa
.5 oz Persian Lime (Standard American Grocery Store Limes) Juice
.5 oz Key Lime Juice
.5 oz Agave Nectar
Shake all ingredients with ice and dump into a rocks glass without ice, garnished with a Tajin and salted rim.
“If this is about the Margarita I’d make for myself, not necessarily the one I’d serve in a bar to a guest, that means I get to be a little pickier right? Well, here goes.
First, spirits – I like a basic tequila Margarita just fine, and I enjoy a more robust Mezcal Margarita as well. But rarely do people mix the two together to get the best of both worlds; that’s a mistake. The smokiness from the mezcal really helps cut the sweetness in a Margarita, but it can be overwhelming at times – particularly when it’s hot outside and you really want to emphasize the refreshing qualities of the drink. The 50:50 balance of the two is perfect however. I like Cabeza Tequila in Margaritas because of the higher (but not too high) proof and Del Maguey Chichicapa because of the iconic mezcal profile, which isn’t too mineral-driven (like those aged in clay – not the best for a Margarita) or too sweet.
Limes. It’s weird to me how neglected the evolution of citrus is as a topic in today’s modern bartending community. What we use as a standard lime today is a hybrid that was cultivated increasingly throughout the last century – reaching heights as globalization standardized citrus sold in the US. Blending Persian and Key Limes is ideal for a Margarita – the Key Limes are bright and acidic and the Persian Limes have a great texture for mixing. Together, they make a better “lime juice” for Margaritas.
Sweetener. I know lots bartenders and Margarita peanut gallery members hate agave nectar and prefer an orange liqueur. I like Margaritas done in that style too, but I want something sessionable/poundable when I’m drinking Margaritas, and that to me means I want a friendlier drink that has a touch more sweetness. That’s why I opt for agave nectar, and if it’s good enough for Julio Bermejo, it’s good enough for me. After all, this recipe is just a riff on a Tommy’s Margarita anyway.
The dump. I don’t know – the shake and dump just tastes better than the shake and strain over fresh ice, which causes another washing of the drink to occur. People typically avoid this because the shaken ice tends to melt quicker than the fresh ice you would strain a cocktail over. Those people don’t know how to drink a Margarita.
Tajin. Who doesn’t like Tajin? And, I’ve always preferred my Margaritas with salt.”
Daniel Parker Guidry Bar Manager-Bar Casa Vale
“The Margarita is one of my favorite drinks. It’s a quintessential cocktail for a reason. It’s also one of the only cocktails my dad ever ordered when we went out to eat at our family’s favorite Mexican restaurant. I love the margarita and short of using fresh squeezed juice, I’ll drink it in many of it’s forms. This is my recipe:
1 1/2 oz. Blanco Tequila
1 oz. fresh lime juice
3/4 oz Cointreau
1/4 oz Oleo Saccharum
Prepare two lime wedges and pint glass with a salted rim, measure all ingredients into a dry shaker, add ice and shake, double strain into your prepared glass, and add bar ice. Garnish with two lime wedges.
“There are two camps to the Margarita. Non-purists who grab any exotic fruit and squeeze it in for fun or add a touch of orange juice to brighten up the lime… On the other side there are the purists. It’s a classic recipe and anything that calls for more than tequila, lime, triple sec and agave or sugar is a derivative. Call it a Grapefruit Margarita or a Prickly Pear Margarita, if you must. I fall closer into the purist camp, but I want to reinforce the floral components of lime juice. The Margarita, however it came to be, is a daisy and daisy’s unify the spirit and sour ingredients with an aromatic sweetener, but triple sec doesn’t do it alone in my book. Introducing citrus oils to the mix only increases this agreement while amplifying all of their flavors. This is pure un-adulterated Margarita goodness.”
Three Parts is a column inspired by the Jack Rose Society- a group of bartenders in Boston that set out to test classic cocktail recipes until they landed on their favourite iteration. The concept is simple- we ask three bartenders to provide their preferred recipe for one classic cocktail. This week we’re changing it up a bit and we’re asking cocktail writers and historians to weigh in on their favourite specs for a classic Manhattan.
David Wondrich Cocktail Historian Author- Imbibe!, Punch: The Delights and Dangers of the Flowing Bowl
“The Manhattan is not something I screw around with. Here’s my basic one, which I think is impossible to beat:
Stir well with cracked ice:
2 oz Wild Turkey 101 rye or Rittenhouse rye
1 oz Cocchi vermouth di Torino or Martini & Rossi red vermouth
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Strain into chilled cocktail glass and twist a swatch of thin-cut lemon peel over the top.
So this is a standard 2-1-2 Manhattan. But I’m not the most consistent of sorts, so I do like to vary it. Sometimes I add 1 dash of absinthe. Sometimes I make it the Manhattan Club’s way:
Stir well with cracked ice:
1 1/2 oz Wild Turkey 101 rye or Rittenhouse rye
1 1/2 oz Cocchi vermouth di Torino or Martini & Rossi red vermouth
2 dashes orange bitters (I use “Feegans” or Hermes, from Japan)
Strain into chilled cocktail glass and twist a swatch of thin-cut lemon peel over the top.
The standard 2-1-2, if you use a good, strong rye, manages to blend perfectly so no one ingredient dominates (I will never, ever use Carpano Antica in my Manhattans for this reason: it asserts its sweet vanilla nature far too much to blend). At the same time, it’s still a strong, forthright drink, where you can taste the rye.
The Manhattan Club version is also nice: the whiskey is less noticeable, but the vermouth doesn’t have the whole dancefloor to itself. The orange bitters make for a softer drink.
Shanna Farrell Oral Historian, Berkeley Author- Bay Area Cocktails: A History of Culture, Community and Craft
2 oz rye (playing around with different expressions is the fun of this recipe)
.5 oz sweet vermouth (either Cocchi Torino or Vermut Lacuesta)
.5 oz Nardini amaro
3 dashes orange bitters
Garnish with an expressed orange peel
“When I was first discovering amaro, we had Nardini on the shelf at the bar where I was working. It was my gateway to amaro-land and I haven’t looked back. I found it’s chocolate notes, hints of black liquorice, and hit of orange and gentian to be a lovely balance with the bitterness. Nardini remains one of my favorites because of its versatility—it’s delightful to sip neat, over ice, or mixed in a cocktail. As a rye drinker, I like to add it to my Manhattans to round out the spice from the spirit and give the drink some subtle complexity. The orange bitters bring it all together, and the orange essence give it an enticing aroma. Just typing this makes me want one. Too bad it’s 10am.”
Robert Simonson Drinks+Liquor Writer- The New York Times Author- Three-Ingredient Cocktails, The Proper Drink
Combine ingredients in a mixing glass filled with ice and stir until chilled, about 30 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry.
“I drink a lot of Manhattans, and, while I have set proportions—which are classical in nature—I am not locked into specific brands of whiskey or vermouth. The Manhattan is a very democratic cocktail. Any decent expression of bourbon or rye, or sweet vermouth, can play and expect a decent degree of success. You don’t need top shelf whiskey, or rare or overproof stuff. Accessible and affordable brands of bourbon or rye will perform just fine. Same goes for the vermouth. While I drink bourbon Manhattans and rye Manhattans is equal numbers, I prefer the rye. Rye adds a necessary zip and spice to the mix. Rittenhouse, Sazerac, Knob Creek, Bulleit and Wild Turkey 101 are all fine. For the vermouth, I’ve used Dolin, Martini & Rossi and Noilly Prat. They all work. The resulting Manhattans all differ slightly is character, but none are bad. In ratios, however, I am unswerving. Two parts whiskey to one part vermouth. Always. And Angostura bitters. No other brand of bitters. Finally, the cherry must be homemade. It makes an enormous difference. Homemade cherries are very easy to make. They are worth the small effort that is required. And once you’ve made a decent-sized batch, you’re set for Manhattans for the rest of the year.”
Bottom of the Barrel- where questionable spirits get a helping hand from some very skilled bartenders! Last time we paid a visit to Mike Shum of The Lobby Lounge where he was tasked with creating something (ANYTHING!) out of the shimmering vodka-based spirit known as Viniq. Up next is Rod Redford of The Diamond who has was recently gifted a bottle of Palm Bay Spirit- Key Lime Cherry…..
The best compliment I can give this cocktail is that I drank it all. It was like smoky blue Kool-Aid and I could have slammed three of them sitting poolside. If you’re in the hood, pop by The Diamond and ask Rod if he has any leftover Palm Bay. Something tells me he’d be happy to whip one of these bad boys up for you.
1oz Palm Bay Key Lime Cherry
0.25oz Blue Curacao
0.25oz Lime juice
Shake all ingredients over ice and strain into a chilled class.
Three Parts is a column inspired by the Jack Rose Society- a group of bartenders in Boston that set out to test classic cocktail recipes until they landed on their favourite iteration. The concept is simple- we ask three bartenders to provide their preferred recipe for one classic cocktail. This week we’re looking at the Martini.
Jeffrey Morgenthaler Head Bartender, Clyde Common Author- The Bar Book
2.5 oz Beefeater
0.5 oz Carpano dry vermouth
Served up with a twist
“…..for me, Carpano and Beefeater are the quintessential vermouth and gin flavors. I love them separately, I love them together, and with a lemon twist to tie them up, that’s just heaven in a glass.”
Kaitlyn Stewart Head Bartender, Royal Dinette Diageo World Class Canada Bartender of the Year, 2017
“I prefer my martini to be served extra cold, so shake the crap out of it and give me all the ice chips. But before you do, rinse the chilled down coupe with a whisper of absinthe and finish it off with a twist of grapefruit.
I personally really like the citrus notes of Tanqueray 10 and the underlined finish of liquorice root and chamomile. The Dolin dry vermouth also has a noticeable citrus peel nose and fresh pine finish. The absinthe rinse, for me anyways, ties it all together just adding that one extra step of depth and complexity. Finish it off with the zest of a fresh grapefruit, and boom, my perfect gin martini.”
Alex Day, Co-Owners, Proprietors LLC Death and Co., Honeycut, Nitecap, The Walker Inn, The Normandie Club
“Being forced to pick a favorite martini recipe is cruel! There’s a martini for every situation: heavy on the vermouth before dinner, a 2-to-1 with food, something a bit stiffer for all family occasions. Gin usually, but an Elyx vodka martini with a whisper of dry vermouth hits the spot after a long day. If pressed for only one choice, I’ll always be happy with a fifty fifty, and my combo is:
1.5 oz Tanqueray Ten
1.5 oz Dolin Dry Vermouth
1 dash Orange Bitters (2/3 Angostura Orange, 1/3 Regan’s)
Method: Stir in a frozen mixing glass with a lot of ice, strain into very very very cold cocktail glass. Lemon twist perfume over the top, but don’t you dare run the skin along the edge of the glass or I’ll cut you. Lemon twist resting on rim for me to dip a couple of times then discard. Heaven.
Tanqueray Ten happens to be my choice in this moment, but if pressed I’m equally passionate about a martini laced with Ford’s, Plymouth, or Sipsmith. Beefeater will never be kicked out of bed, nor will I scoff at classic Tanqueray. The point is, the martini is uniquely flexible; it’s not just the choice of base spirit, but the proportion of booze to vermouth, garnish, glassware, and preparation can lead you down very different, and equally delicious, paths.”
Three Parts is a column inspired by the Jack Rose Society- a group of bartenders in Boston that set out to test classic cocktail recipes until they landed on their favourite iteration. The concept is simple- we ask three bartenders to provide their preferred recipe for one classic cocktail. This week we’re looking at the Daiquiri.
Jeff Bell General Manager- PDT, New York, NY
2 oz. Banks 5 Island Rum
0.75 oz. Lime Juice
0.5 oz. Martinique Canne Syrup
Shake with ice and strain into an ice cold cocktail coupe. Garnish with a lime wheel.
“I love this ratio with Banks 5 and evaporated cane juice. The cane syrup is more robust and flavorful than simple syrup made from refined sugar and works well with the full bodied, full flavored Banks 5. I like white sugar with lighter white rums like Bacardi, Flor de Cana 4 yr or Havana Club 3- those lend to a better tart, snappy daiquiri. At the end of the day, it all depends on your preferences and what you’re in the mood for.”
Mike Shum Bartender, The Lobby Lounge at Fairmont Pacific Rim, Vancouver, BC
Half of a lime
2 bar spoons of superfine/berry sugar
60mL of Bacardi Superior
Press the lime into the tin to also get some oils. Add the sugar and stir to dissolve (the amount will vary a bit based on your lime). Add rum, fill with ice (cubed and crushed if you have both). Shake, strain and drink immediately.
“Bacardi embodies the spirit of the daiquiri- light Puerto Rican rum that has a nice dry and slightly bitter finish. Superfine sugar because it dissolves easily and will give you a different texture than simple syrup. And because, even though I’m a bartender, I can’t seem to stock simple syrup in my house…”
Daniel Shoemaker Bar Owner, Teardrop Lounge, Portland, OR
2 oz El Dorado 12-yr
1 oz Commissary lime juice
.5 oz Commissary 2:1 Demerara
Shake with ice and strain into a coupe. Top with 3 drops of orange blossom water.
“I always prefer my daiquiris with demerara. My default is to think regionally with sugars in a cocktail anyway, since there is a natural affinity of flavors with the spirits we’re pairing to them. In my ideal daiquiri, I use El Dorado 12-year (sure, 15-year will do in a pinch), since it has a luscious viscosity and bold broadness of flavour.
The addition of orange blossom water is from Charles Baker, who makes the suggestion in his signature offhand fashion. But it adds such a dramatic aspect of aromatics, inviting me to the whole experience with a wry smile.”
Cocktail Of The Day (because it’s always cocktail hour somewhere in the world)! Have I ever mentioned that I hate beer? Because I do. I hate it. And it’s not for lack of trying! I’ve put in the effort, I’ve tried Pilsners and Porters, Sours and Stouts and nothing sticks. The only exception I found came on a recent visit to Seattle’s No Anchor where I had a house made Grapefruit Radler- a perfectly balanced combination of fresh grapefruit juice, Campari and IPA. I immediately texted my husband to tell him we had to recreate it at home. Low and behold! I have no idea what the actual proportions were but I think we’ve done a decent job at a homemade version! Beer cocktails….who knew (the correct answer is everybody but me).
1 oz Campari
3 oz Fresh grapefruit juice
Combine Campari and Grapefruit Juice in a pint glass. Top with IPA. Sip like a boss!
Addendum: So after I posted this, I got a message from the folks at No Anchor and they kindly provided their official recipe for their housemade Radler!
1/2oz Grapefruit Oleo Saccharum
5oz Fresh Grapefruit Juice
A pinch of salt
I was recently reading Robert Simonson’s A Proper Drink and stumbled upon a story about three bartenders in Boston who got together to make the perfect Jack Rose. They pooled their cocktail book collection and tried over 25 different iterations before landing on a single recipe. Once the task was complete, the group dubbed themselves The Jack Rose Society and continued to gather to recipe test the classics, trying every recipe they could find until they came to a consensus on their favourite.
I love this idea- that even the classics have multiple iterations and not a single one is necessarily wrong or right. Because at the end of the day, taste is so subjective and the way I like my martini is different from the way my husband likes his martini which is different from how The Savoy tells me to make it. As such, I’ve decided to start a new column inspired by the idea behind The Jack Rose Society. One classic cocktail, three bartenders, three different recipes. The variations may be as minimal as a quarter ounce, a different garnish, a preferred spirit brand. But sure enough, not one bartender provided the same answer. So let’s start with The Old Fashioned, shall we?
Buck Friend, Bartender, The Noble Experiment, Melbourne
5 mls Demerara Syrup
3 dashes Angostura Bitters
2 dashes Angostura Orange Bitters
60 mls Lot 40
Stir in old fashioned glass add ice as necessary Garnish with orange twist
Sarah Brewer Bartender, Annette Food Market, Toronto, ON.
In a mixing glass add 1 sugar cube. Saturate with 3 dashes of Angostura bitters. Measure out 1oz of bourbon and pour just a bit onto the sugar. Add 2 peels of orange then muddle hard. Add the rest of that oz of bourbon, some ice, and stir. Add another ounce of bourbon, a bit more ice, stir again until sugar is dissolved. Strain onto a fresh large ice cube in a rocks glass. Garnish with a flamed orange zest.
Shaun Layton, Bar Consultant, Vancouver, BC
60 ml Buffalo Trace bourbon
1 brown sugar cube
1 orange peel
4 dashes Angostura bitters
Add bitters, sugar, and orange peel to mixing glass. Let soak for 15 seconds. Muddle all together, add bourbon. Slowly add ice while stirring, add more ice, stir. When ready (to taste) strain over fresh rocks. Zest an orange peel over top, serve with a cherry. And I quote: “Don’t you dare flame my orange twist. Thanks.”
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