2 oz Rye Whiskey [Rittenhouse]
3/4 oz Grapefruit Liqueur [Giffard]
1/4 oz Hopped Elderflower Collins Syrup [Bittermilk]
Few dashes Hopped Grapefruit Bitters [Bittermens]
Stir with ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with hop flowers.
I’ve already talked about my love for tonic syrups, which can really take your G&T game to the next level. Well the fun doesn’t stop there. There are also syrups for other drinks, including the Tom Collins (aka G&T’s cousin). Like this Hopped Elderflower number from Bittermilk. It’s the same idea. Grab some gin, citrus of your choice, and club soda, then combine all that with the syrup over ice. Give a quick stir and your in for a real Collins treat. But just cuz it’s labeled a Collins syrup, doesn’t mean you should only use it in a Collins.
The great thing about these syrups is they pack in so much flavor, they can be an ingredient in their own right for any kind of cocktail. To wit, I decided to combine this syrup with rye whiskey and grapefruit liquer, and the result was just as good, albeit totally different, than the aforementioned Collins.
The Hop On, Hop Off starts off with a very strong citrus and elderflower nose. The grapefruit and hops also make for a lovely combo. Rye doesn’t really start showing itself until the sip, where it warms everything up, as its spiciness accentuates the bitter hops. More citrus comes through, as well as some botanicals from the grapefruit liqueur. The finish is sweet, but only for a moment, as the punch of whiskey, citrus, and hops returns to usher things to the end.
If delicious long drinks weren’t reason enough to start picking up cocktail syrups, maybe proper drinks can convince you. There are a number of reputable producers to choose from – Bittermilk, Liber and Co, Jack Rudy – just to name a few (and that’s only focusing on the long drink category). Find a flavor that speaks to go and see how many ways you can use it.
1 1/2 oz White Whiskey [Bully Boy]
3/4 oz Cranberry Liqueur [GrandTen]
3/4 oz Triple Sec [Short Path]
Few dashes Fancy Tony’s Barrel Aged citrus bitters
Stir with ice, strain into an ice filled rocks glass. Garnish with lemon star flag.
Tomorrow is the 4th of July, one of the great drinking holidays in our fair country. And so it’s my civic to come up with a drink to help celebrate. However, I’m not gonna do what you think I’m gonna do. And no, I’m not talking about flipping out, but instead about coming up with a red, white, and blue themed drink.
While those drinks are always fun (h/t to blue curacao), I’m taking thinks in a different direction. Living in Boston during July 4th is a blast, what with the hole birthplace of the Revolution and everything. So I decided to create a drink using only bottles from in and around Boston. Lucky for me, the distilleries around here pump out some pretty tasty sauce.
I decided on white whiseky from Bully Boy, cranberry liqueur from GrandTen (both of which are from Boston, and are pretty American flavors in their own right), and triple sec from Short Path (based in Everett, just a few miles North of Boston). The cranberry liqueur in particular is a quintessential New England spirit, so it fits the theme nicely. I rounded out the drink with some barrel aged citrus bitters bitters made by my friend @young_overholt, bartender extraordinaire at The Automatic in Cambridge and pinofficianato.
The Freedom Trail has strong citrus aromas to start, highlighted by the tart cranberries. Some vanilla notes sneak in from the whiskey as well. On the sip, the whiskey takes over with a smooth alcohol burn, along with some sweetness from the corn and vanilla. Cranberry and orange dance around the edges, with the former adding some depth to everything. The finish is clean and crisp, first tart, then a final wave of hot whiskey goodness.
The name comes from a walking trail in Boston, demarcated by a line of red bricks that snakes through various neighborhoods in the city. It passes landmarks like the Old State House (site of the Boston Massacre and where the Declaration of Independence was first read), Boston Common, and Paul Revere’s House. Seemed appropriate for a July 4th drink representing the best booze Boston has to offer.
There’s a bit of a heat wave coming to Boston this weekend, so I figured it’s the perfect time to talk about some of my favorite refreshing tipples. These classics will keep you cool as the temperature climbs, and they all come together with two or three ingredients. Even better, I put my own spin on each one so you’ll get twice the inspiration.
When it comes to simplicity, it’s hard to beat the Paloma. The marriage of grapefruit soda, tequila, and lime juice is nothing short of mind blowing. Roll up to a barbecue with a bottle of tequila and some grapefruit soda and I guarantee you’ll make 10 new friends. For my Bike Chariot, I turned it into a beer cocktail using Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin to maintain the trademark citrus flavor.
2 oz Blanco Tequila
1/2 oz Aperol
1/2 oz Lime Juice
Few dashes Bittermens Hopped Grapefruit Bitters
4 oz Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin (any citrusy IPA will do)
Combine and shake everything but the IPA with ice, strain into an ice-filled Collins glass. Top with 4 oz Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin. Stir gently to combine. Garnish with lime wedge or twist.
Next up is the Americano. Sipping this low ABV classic instantly transports you to an outdoor cafe in Europe. Equal parts Campari and sweet vermouth are topped with a splash of soda for some lively fizz. It’s a good thing it doesn’t pack a huge alcoholic punch, cuz man does it go down easy. In the Cherrycano, I tweaked things a little bit by using Aperol instead of Campari, and Maraschino liqueur for an extra bit of funky depth. Which ever one you choose, it’s a perfect thing to sip and watch the world go by.
1 1/2 oz Aperol
1 1/2 Sweet Vermouth [Noilly Prat]
1/4 oz Maraschino Liqueur [Luxardo]
Combine in a glass, stir with ice. Strain into an ice filled rocks glass. Top with club soda and an orange twist.
Lastly is a man everyone knows, Tom Collins. Gin, citrus, sugar, bubbles. That’s it. Doesn’t get much more refreshing than that. Almost like an adult lemonade. I like using both lemon and lime juice, cuz sometimes it’s just too hard to choose. My Ruby Collins utilizes grapefruit soda (can you tell I love this stuff) and Campari to change the citrus profile. The extra bitter bite helps quench your thirst even more, and adds another layer of flavors to the mix.
1 oz Gin
1 oz Campari
1 oz Simple Syrup
1/2 oz Lime Juice
~4 oz Grapefruit Soda
Combine everything except the soda in a shaker with ice. Shake, strain into an ice filled Collins glass, and top with grapefruit soda. Give a quick stir to combine. Garnish with lime wedge
As the sun beats down this summer, remember these classics, and these twists, to keep yourself cool and sane. Even if it’s only until the next drink.
2 oz CALI Whiskey [CALI Distillery]
.5 oz Amaro Nonino
.5 oz House Blackberry Cinnamon Shrub
Stir with ice, strain into an ice filled rocks glass. Garnish with blackberries.
A few weeks ago the people behind Sukkah Hill Spirits sent me some of their latest venture, a foray into the whiskey world. They dubbed their CALI Whiskey as a “California twist on the classic American sipping whiskey.” Being card carrying member of the brown spirits fan club, I couldn’t wait to crack it open.
As soon as I took a whiff, I could tell this was going to be a bit of a different beast. The cinnamon is strong with this one, as well as other warm spices – cloves, allspice, even a little nutmeg. Underneath it all is a foundation of familir whiskey aromas of bready toffee, wood char, and malts. The theme continues on the sip, again led by by the cinnamon, but this time the caramel whiskey notes come quicker. The mash bill is corn and rye, so once the sweetness subsides you get a nice spicy kick on the end. Sipping it neat was certainly enjoyable enough, but I was interested to see what it could do in a full on cocktail.
As it happens, I just made a blackberry cinnamon shrub which felt like a natural partner. The rich berry flavors would pair well with all the warm baking spices, and the extra cinnamon adds even more kick. Since there was already plenty of sweetness going on, I rounded out the drink with Amaro Nonino. Its caramel undertones are a perfect whiskey wingman (hello Paper Plane), and it has enough bitterness to cut through everything else.
Once the Jungle Primary (so named after CA’s odd primary election system) came together in the glass, the botanicals in the Amaro combined with the aforementioned spices to add some serious depth on the nose. The sip started again with cinnamon, but this time yielded to the shrub, as the blackberries worked their way though the zing of vinegar. The Amaro did its job, keeping everything from veering into overly sweet dessert drink world. The Cali whiskey took over on the finish, but in its more classic form of malty goodness you get in most whiskies.
I’m so excited to play around with the Cali whiskey some more. It feels like its personality can change depending on which bottles you surround it with. I’ll see what other faces I can get it to show.
1 1/2 oz Rock and Rye [New York Distilling Company]
1/2 oz House Strawberry Basil Black Peppercorn Shrub
1/2 oz Zucca
1/2 oz Punt e Mes
Stir with ice, strain into an ice filled rocks glass.
A few months ago we had some friends over for game night (and cocktails of course). As the night was winding down, one of my friends wanted one more drink, but something on the low ABV side of things. Normally I’m a stiff, boozy nightcap kind of guy, so I was excited to get out of my comfort zone and focus on the other side of the spectrum.
I started by digging in the fridge to see what shrubs I had in stock. They are a great way to provide some strong flavor without the alcohol. I found some house strawberry basil black peppercorn shrub hiding in the back. With this in hand, my mind jumped right to Zucca. Not only did this play on the classic strawberry rhubarb pairing, but amari are another way to bring in lots of flavor without much alcohol. Some Punt e Mes bridged the shrub and amaro, but I still needed a base spirit. There was already plenty of bitterness in the glass, so some sweetness was in order. Rock and Rye was the perfect choice, the whiskey notes provide a nod to the more traditional boozy nightcaps, while rock candy sugar brought in some balancing sweetness.
The Governing Boday starts off as all strawberry and rhubarb on the nose. The basil combines with the other herbs in the amaro to eke its way though. That classic combo starts off the sip, but then the sweentess works its way in. There is a pleasant kick from the amaro and shrub, while the whiskey and wine notes smooth things out. The finish is back again to the strawberry and rhubarb, with the sweetness and bitterness alternating on their way out.
Next time you’re in the mood for a night cap, put down that bottle of single malt, step away from the Old Fashioned. Don’t forget about the wonderful world of low ABV cocktails. They can still pack in the flavor without doing any too much damage to your morning.
3/4 oz Pineapple Rum [Plantation Stiggins Fancy]
3/4 oz Yellow Chartreuse
3/4 oz Benedictine
3/4 oz lime juice
Shake ingredients with ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with lemon twist.
The Last Word. You can almost consider it the poster child for resurrected classic cocktails. Manhattans and Martinis never really went away, they just got the care and respect they deserve with the cocktail renaissance. The Last Word? Well, nobody even heard of it before it was revived in 2004, and it soon became the darling of the pre-prohibition era drinks.Created in the early 19-teens at the Detroit Athletic Club, the combination of gin, Green Chartreuse, Maraschino Liqueur, and lime juice is both citrusy and spirit forward. It also has some more unique flavors thanks to the Chartreuse and Maraschino liqueyr. It’s not all that surprising then that it fell out of favor after prohibition, only to be resurrected by Murray Stenson at the Zig Zag Cafe in Seattle in 2004. It caught on pretty quickly in the burgeoning cocktail revival, and spurred new interest in (at that point) more esoteric bottles like Chartreuse and Maraschino. It became a pretty good signifier of a bar’s cocktail cred – if it was on the menu (and well made) you knew you were in the right place.
Even better, the template of equal parts base spirit, herbal liqueur, fruit/sweet liqueur, citrus has endless possibilities. That’s why my instagram pal Mike @mmydrinks created the #wehavethelastword campaign last year, where he encouraged the drinkstagram community to showcase their own variations on the rediscovered classic. Needless to say, people were enthusiastic in their participation. So much so he’s decided to run it back for another week, and here we are.
I started with the middle bits of the template, using Yellow Chartreuse for the herbal liqueur and Benedictine for the sweet. These two bottles go wonderfully together, now I just had to find the right base spirit. As I scanned my bar, my eyes fell on the bottle of Stiggins Fancy Pineapple Rum from Plantation. That’s the one. There is no way this drink won’t work.
After mixing it up (with lime juice to round it all out), my hunch was proved correct. Lots of warm spices and molasses on the nose, accentuated by pineapple and herbs. The sip is strong, yet drinkable. Pineapple moves to the front and you get more herbaceousness from the chartreuse. The Benedictine keeps everything very smooth, while the citrus gives a zesty counterpoint of a high note. The finish is more molasses and pineapple, with the chartreuse and lime lingering at the end.
It’s always fun to play in the Last Word playground. Sometimes all you need is a good set of constraints to get the creative juices flowing.
1 1/2 oz Buckwheat Whiskey [Catskill Distilling Co]
3/4 oz Ramazzotti
1/2 oz Chile liqueur [Ancho Reyes]
1/4 oz Dry Vermouth [Westport Rivers Winery]
few dashes dry sarsaparilla bitters [Bad Dog Barcraft]
Stir with ice, strain in to a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with lemon butterfly (or a twist will do too)
Guess what? I love whiskey. Mostly of the American persuasion – your bourbons, ryes, and whatnot. I’m always on the lookout for new distilleries or interesting mash bills. So when I saw the bright yellow label of The One and Only Buckwheat Whiskey from Catskill Distilling Company beckoning, I had to answer its call.
First, let’s go back to whiskey. My first love, bourbon, has a mash bill of at least 51% corn, rounded out by some combination of rye, wheat, and malted barley (or other grains). Likewise, rye whiskey has at least 51% rye, with other grains rounding out the bill. The One and Only is made from a staggering 80%(!) buckwheat, and 20% small grains. As a result, it’s not really a true whiskey (which is a grain distilled spirit) since buckwheat is technically not a grain. It’s actually a plant with grain like seeds. But that’s just semantics, cuz this thing looks, tastes, smells, and feels like a whiskey, albeit a very unique one.
Remember that burnt sienna crayon in the crayola box? That’s what this stuff looks like. The nose is very earthy, with aromas of leather, char, tobacco, and a hint of sweetness. Like if you walked into a 19th century parlor where various railroad tycoons discussed business concerns. In terms of taste, all those flavors carry over, with a bit more smoke and toffee notes. The mouthfeel is chewy and almost chalky, in a good way. Truly unlike any other whiskey I’ve had. At 85 proof, there’s a nice burn on the swallow, with more roastiness coming through. It’s a great change-up from my normal sipping whiskies, and puts classics like Manhattans and Old Fashioneds in a whole new light.
I didn’t really have much of a plan when I set out to make this week’s drink, outside of knowing the One and Only would be the base spirit. I knew the other ingredients had to be large personalities as well. Ramazzotti added some cola and root beer notes, plus bitterness to keep things honest. I really like using my dry sarsaparilla bitters with that Amaro since the root beer and birch beer flavors come out even more. Some Ancho Reyes provided a bit of heat, and dry vermouth held all the sweetness in check.
On the nose, musty whiskey notes are complimented by a root beer float aroma. The chalkiness comes through on the sip, but still plenty of toffee and caramel notes as well. They bring out the sweetness in the sarsaparilla and Ramazzotti. Lots of low notes after every sip, with the ancho spice and bitter amaro providing the counterpoints. The finish is more wood and whiskey, followed by a dry spice that perks up the tongue and keeps you coming back for more.
This Buckwheat whiskey is really cool stuff. If you’re a fan of any type of American whiskey, you should grab a bottle. I bet even Scotch lovers will enjoy it too. There really isn’t much else like it on the market (hence the name, I guess), and it’s equally good as a sipper on its own or a component in your favorite whiskey cocktail. As for the name – well, I’ll just let Eddie explain.
1 1/2 oz Apple Brandy [Short Path Distillery]
1/2 oz Suze
1/2 oz Punt e Mes
1/2 oz St. Germain [St. Elder]
Few dashes Fancy Tony’s barrel aged citrus bitters
Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with lemon twist.
A while back while surfing instagram, I tagged a drink called the Kirkwood from Miguel’s @migsology feed (who in turn got it from Nic @ntitz). Anyway, it was an interesting combo of Rye, Punt e Mes, Cynar, and St. Germain. Since I didn’t have any Cynar at the time, I broke it down into its parts (base, fortified wine, amaro, sweet liquer) and then built it back up.
I just acquired a bottle of Apple Brandy from Short Path Distillery, so that was my base. For the Amaro, I wanted something that had a similar savory/vegetal bent to Cynar, but also wanted to bring in some citrus to compliment the apples. Suze fit the bill nicely, as its woodsy spices are undercut by grapefruit notes. At this point, I wanted to stay somewhat true to my inspiration, so left the Punt e Mes an St. Germain as is.
When I first made it, I was pleasantly surprised how well these flavors got along, so I captured it in my cocktail journal. It sat there for a while, not even sure if I made it a second time, until last weekend. On Friday, I had the pleasure of attending a small event where I met the Lisa Laird Dunn, VP (and 9th generation Laird!) of Laird and Company. They have been producing Applejack/Apple Brandy for over 200 years, and Lisa was in Boston to talk about the launch of their newest product, an 86 proof straight Applejack.
We were at Yvonne’s, where the bartenders made 2 different cocktails using the new offering, plus one using the 100 proof Bottled in Bond Apple Brandy. The Right Hand Woman featured BiB apple brandy, bourbon, and Suze. The first sip immediately reminded me how delicious apple brandy and Suze are together, and I couldn’t wait to get home and make my drink with those two spirits. It was just as good the second time around.
Suze and apples dominate the nose. Soft melon notes lurk behind. The sip has even more fruit, as apples and citrus form a tasty alliance. Bitterness from the suze and punt e mes cuts through, and the only sweetness comes from the St. Germain. This is a stiff drink for sure, but still very drinkable. The finish has more bitterness and spice, followed by a final wave of apply goodness.
Its always fun to see an odd pairing I threw together at home show up out in the wild, especially when the drinks are very different, but tasty nonetheless. If I wasn’t already on the Apple Brandy train after grabbing Short Path’s bottle, an evening with Laird and Co. definitely seals it. This stuff is now a staple in my bar, and I can’t wait to grab something from Laird’s and do a taste test when my Short Path bottle is almost done.
2 oz Pisco [Macchu Pisco]
.5 oz House Strawberry Basil Black Peppercorn Shrub
.5 oz Becherovka
Gently muddle some mint in the bottom of a mixing glass. Add remaining ingredients, stir with ice, strain into an ice filled rocks glass. Garnish with mint sprig
One of the more enjoyable parts of home cocktailing is making my own mixers. Syrups, shrubs, bitters and the like are all fun little projects. Sometimes, I get a little ahead of myself, and make too many at once. Well, not really too many – but I’ve been known to have a few random jars scattered throughout the fridge.The positive side of all this is rediscovering something I forgot about. Take this week for instance – as I was looking for something to drink I spotted a jar of red liquid. After moving the yogurt, pickles, and milk, I rescued it from it the depths of the shelf and took a look at the label (blue masking tape FTW!). Strawberry-Basil-Black Peppercorn shrub.
I remember this one, I made it after a berry picking outing with the fam this summer. Opening it up, I was happy to discover the fresh strawberry scent was still there, and the basil and peppercorns were still detectable. Next I reached for my journal to see what I captured when this treat first hit my shelves. Finally I settled on this number, with muddled mint, Pisco and Becherovka.
The Cruise Ship Magician started off with the aroma of herbs combining with the strawberries. Every sniff yielded a different star, with the mint and strawberries most prominent. On the sip the sharp grapyness of the Pisco kicked in. The cinnamon spice and peppery heat followed, only to be rounded out by the strawberries and sugar from the shrub. The finish was herbaceous and zingy, thanks to the mint, basil, and vinegar. This drink definitely makes me want the warmer temps to come sooner than later, but I’m not sure I’ll have any shrub left by the time that happens.
No particularly special backstory to the name. Just one of the many random entries in my long list of possible cocktail names. Every now and then you just gotta pick one.
1 1/4 Slivovitz [Jelinek]
3/4 oz ginger liquer [Barrow’s Intense]
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/4 oz Cherry Brandy [ Cherry Heering]
1/4 oz Besamim
Shake with ice, strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with lemon twist.
Recently my friend @schmaltzychef introduced me to the world of Slivovitz. These plum brandies are from Eastern Europe and have a ton of old world cache. They have been on my mind ever since trying one at his apartment, and with Passover right around the corner, I figured it’s the perfect time to pick up a bottle for my own bar.
As I mentioned, Slivovitz is actually a category of spirits – specifically the distilled juice of damson plums – which are prevalent in Central and Eastern Europe. Full disclosure, this booze is not for everyone. While the aroma is pleasantly plum-y, the sip is very much in your face. The fact that its bottled at 100 proof doesn’t hurt either. Some have (affectionately or otherwise) referred to it as paint thinner or jet fuel. The first sip may come off harsh, but you’ll be rewarded if you take the time to get to know it.
That being said, the old worldness of this stuff is very intriguing. I imagine that if I stumbled into some countryside home in Croatia, they would no doubt have a homemade bottle on the shelf. And much like other seemingly nigh undrinkable spirits (Fernet, looking in your direction), if you have an idea of what’s in store, you can begin to enjoy it.
And so my journey started at my friend’s apartment. It continued earlier this winter while at Mamaleh’s in Cambridge. This restaurant is like a Jewish deli on steriods – classic pastrami sandwiches and smoked fish along with elevated versions of knishes and girbenes appetizers. So naturally they had a Slivovitz flight on their drinks menu (you may have first tried it at your Bubbe’s house) and I jumped on it. After trying four versions, I began to appreciate this spirit even more. Some were very plum forward, others more floral, others still had a hint of sweetness. Sure, they all had some kick, but that’s not a bad thing. I preferred the ones where the plums really came through on the nose and the sip, and left there with a bottle of Jelinek silver in my sights.
When it came time to construct the drink, the first thing I wanted to do was keep it kosher. That meant no grain based spirits – so long bourbons, gins, and most liqueurs. I decided to build on the fruit brandy thing and bring in some Cherry Heering. Sukkah Hill Spirts Besamim was a no brainer, not only for its kosher status but the cinammon and cloves would compliment the plum notes nicely. However, I didn’t want to clobber the strength of the Sliv with sweetness. A spicy kick from Barrow’s Intense ginger liqueur (distilled from cane sugar = kosher!) and citrus from lemon juice provided the perfect assertive counterpoint.
This drink is still a sipper, with plum and citrus aromas on the nose. On the sip the warm spices from the Besamim wrapped the Sliv plum notes in a cozy hug. The aforementioned ginger kick snapped everything back to attention, before more plums and citrus brought up the rear on the swallow.
The name comes from the last part of the Four Questions. After the last “why is this night different from all other nights”, the response is basically “because tonight, while we eat, we are all reclining”. Back in the day, reclining while eating was a sign of royalty or nobility. The Jews weren’t afforded that luxury until they escaped Egypt, and honor that fact during the Seder.
So next time someone offers you taste of the Sliv life, don’t be afraid. Take a deep breath, enjoy the plum aromas, and then dive in. You might be pleasantly surprised.