craft

Recommended Reading: The Best Craft Cocktails

Disclaimer:

I was gifted a copy of this book by the authors. This is not a review; There are plenty of places that will do that. More importantly, this is not me posting about any free shit a distributor, manufacturer or publisher sends me. If I didn’t think the contents lived up to whatever standards I’ve set for Death to Sour Mix, you would not be reading this right now.
This is me, sharing someone else’s obvious hard work and dedication to creating craft cocktails.

Any post that starts with a disclaimer just feels wrong. Imagine going out to a fancy restaurant and the first thing you read is “Warning: This food may give you violent gas“. You may rethink your food truck selection after that. Or what if right before kissing someone for the first time they whispered to you “Oh. BTW I drool uncontrollably and I just ate a ton of onions. Now get over here!“. Yeah. Disclaimers. I’ll just put them at the end of the post next time! Problem solved.

 

The-Best-Craft-Cocktails-Bartending-With-Flair-An-Incredible-Collection-of-Extraordinary-Drinks-Paperback-L9781624140273

That book right there was made out of paper. If you enjoy that aspect of reading books, then we’re already off to a good start. But really, The Best Craft Cocktails & Bartending With Flair was written by Jeremy Leblanc (Matt Leblanc’s brother) and Christine Dionese. These 2 darlings made a pretty big list of cocktails that range from personal twists on known classics and some clever creations by Jeremy, who according to Christine “is a damn good mixologist and is one of the nicest guys ever”. You had me at “Matt Leblanc’s brother”. Christine has a background in herbology and food science which sounds uber-nerdy to me but also pretty rad. I don’t know either of them but after reading the book and its recipes, it becomes apparent that they put a lot of effort into making a cocktail book utilizing great small batch spirits and a variety of interesting ingredients with an emphasis on organic.

Here’s a couple of my favorites from the book:

Gypsy_ing

The Gypsy

The Gypsy

vig_ing

The Vig

The Vig

*Disclaimer #2: Jeremy is not really Matt Leblanc’s brother. Or is he…?

Summertime Sadness

summer_drinking

 These are the drinks that kept me busy during this past summer.

I posted a little while ago on twitter on how glad I was that summer was over, making room for some wonderful stirred drinks… and pumpkin spice lattes from Starbucks that nobody seems to shut up about. I mean, they are tasty, much like a pumpkin beer with extra cinnamon on the ri– focus!— I love the fall. Not because I’m lazy and enjoy wearing sweaters and Uggs as much as possible, but because it’s the perfect time to go for a walk without the fear of melting onto the sidewalk, you can meet with friends and not have to cringe internally at their 3rd degree sunburns all around the contours of their sunglasses or better yet, you can stop drinking bud lite lime now.

This past summer, I kept cycling 3 cocktails at home that were tasty representations of summer. Each one with its own merit and nuance but all 3 of them incredibly refreshing and uniquely flavorful. Oddly enough, each one has spirits that I wouldn’t traditionally consider as “summery” but damn if they don’t all work in their own way. In a summer full of margaritas, juleps and bud Lite Lime, these were the ones I kept coming back for when it was time for a refreshment.

Dead Man’s Mule

Originally from Met Bar, London
Presented here as modified @ Drink, Boston
 

I’m a fan of mules. Not the ones that put little balloons full of drugs into their bodies but the kind that you drink out of a metal cup full of crushed ice. This is an odd drink and one that at first you may not like but damn if it’s not tasty as hell! At Drink they make their own delicious ginger beer but if you don’t want to be bothered with it, Fever Tree makes a mean one that works perfect with cocktails.

1 oz Green Velvet Absinthe
1 oz Wilks & Wilson orgeat
1/2 oz St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram
1/2 oz lime juice
Fever Tree ginger beer to top
 
If you have a copper mug, now’s the time to use it.
Add crushed ice to the mug about 1/2 full (or 1/2 empty if that’s how you choose to see the world). 
Pour in everything except the ginger beer. Stir lightly (swizzle even!)
Add more crushed Ice and top with the ginger beer. 
 

Eulogy

Anvil Bar, Houston
 

This is my favorite one of the 3. It’s a bit sweet tho, which is why I add a bit of crushed ice to it so it doesn’t become that overtly sweet drink that you like at first but hate towards the end. Tons of flavor here. So much flavor here on the first sip. Such that I went out and bought a bottle of Strega and Batavia Arrack the very next day.

 
3/4 oz Batavia Arrack van Oosten
3/4 oz Jonh D. Taylor’s Velvet Falernum
3/4 oz Strega
3/4 oz lime juice
 
Pour all ingredients in a shaker with ice and show it who’s boss.
Strain into a rocks glass with crushed ice. Garnish with a lime wheel.
 

Art of Choke

The Violet Hour, Chicago
 

This is like a mojito that threw away its self tanner, stopped partying, went to college and got a job. If you’re a drink snob by now, then just reading that last sentence plus the the fact that this thing has Cynar as a main ingredient is making you salivate.

 
1 oz Banks 5 Island Rum
1 oz Cynar
1/4 oz green Chartreuse
bar spoon of lime juice
bar spoon of Demerara sugar syrup
handful of mint leaves
 
Lightly muddle the mint in your shaker.
Add the rest and shake it with some large pieces of ice.
Double strain into a rocks glass with a single ice cube. Garnish with a small mint sprig.
 
 
 
 

Lost in Translation

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The purpose of a great craft cocktail, one made with thought, skill and care, is to delight.

 

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Holy crap did this post take FOREVER! I was planning on posting this at least 2 weeks ago and then I may have been abducted by aliens (the non-butt-probing kind) or something ’cause I never got around to sharing this delightful post with all of you wonderful alcoholics humans.

I have an upcoming “educational” (say what?!) post on sake where I lie to you all with non-confirmed facts (mainly because I was too lazy to “bing it”) about that deliciousness from Japan. It’ll basically be a “rule of thumb” type of post if you’re interested in sake to sip it instead of boring wine (if you’re feeling sexy) or to mix it with other spirits (if you’re feeling adventurous). In that post I go over soju (used here) which is not a sake but if you can keep a secret, I’ll have you know that this stuff makes for a fantastic vermouth sub. Yup.

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  • Soju/Shochu
  • Vodka
  • Apricot Eau De Vie
  • Triple-Sec
  • Bitters
  • Simple syrup

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Soju or Shochu? At this point its the same thing. Soju is traditionally from Korea, while Shochu is of Japan. This Kaikouzo Soju is actually Shochu marketed as soju. Usually they are all under 25% ABV and are distilled very much like a neutral grain spirit (potatoes used quite often), with the master distiller infusing flavor throughout the process or at the very end.

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I wanted to make it easier to start remembering hot to make my drinks. This is a simple stirred drink in a 4,3,2,1 method where you start with one spirit and from there you add 1/4 less of the next. Yeah that was confusing:

1 oz Kaikouzo Soju
3/4 oz Imperia Vodka
1/2 oz Metté apricot Eau De Vie
1/4 oz Cointreau
2 dashes of Dr. Adam Elmegiram’s Teapot Bitters
1 dash of simple syrup (just a dash)

Add all into a chilled mixing glass full of ice and stir. With every drink you make you’ll start refining your stirring technique. When I started, I was a subtle as a blender on max. It was ugly.

Strain into a smaller martini glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

[ Enjoy ]

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This drink plays close to a vodka martini, what with its crystal clear appearance and velvet flavors. The soju itself could potentially be used as a blanc vermouth of sorts, but there is definitely a broader flavor profile in it making you want to sip it slow to let those flavors do their work. 

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MxMo: Wildfire

*warning: If you or a loved one is suffering from ‘Game of Thrones’ withdrawal at this time time, please consult my creepy hand, which has been held firmly in the air, waiting to give you the most excellent high 5. Also, you are a nerd. And I love you.

That time of the month y’all. Nope. Gotta’ re-do that horrible intro. Fuck it. Mixology Monday is here again, this time hosted by the ever mysterious and always entertaining Muse of Doom of Feu de Vie. A few words to set the mood:

Find and/or develop a recipe that incorporates Fire.

You don’t have to go full Blue Blazer, not nearly — heck, you could go full Fireball Whiskey! (orFire Rock Pale Ale, etc..) You could riff on the Old Flame or come up with an inventive name of your own. You could even use a good firewater or burned wine. (and if you’re grilling fruit, save some for me, will ya?)

In essence, bring the heat! Bring the Fire! Bring your inspiration!

I gotta admit it, you guys. I had no clue as to how to incorporate fire. I mean, that’s not even an ingredient, that’s a freaking element for crying out loud! So I cried for a while and considered making a molotov (a real one with Alize or something amazing) and just having a photo shoot with it, cause you know they look bad-ass but I refrained and here we are.

wild_w

 

So yeah, green fire from Game of Thrones lore. That’s basically the whole premise of this here craft cocktail. Oh what’s that? where’s the green fire? Funny you should ask that, friend. In short: That’s just not gonna happen in an edible way tonight. Booze burns a lovely blue, regardless of the color of the actual liquor. Here I’ve set some absinthe with a bright green hue on fire but mainly because a) it’s 110 proof and that stuff will basically burn a hole in you anyway. b) as I mentioned, this specific brand has a rad color. c) it pairs well with the flavors in the drink which yeah, I guess is important if I’m writing up a recipe around it.

In looking for a drink that had some element of green liquor on fire, I found the “Old Flame” from the excellent PDT cocktail book which I then used as a guide moving forward. Here we subbed the gin for pisco, the Chartreuse for Strega and added some absinthe which FYI, pairs great with pineapple. Fresh pineapple. Not that shit out of a Dole can. You’ve been warned.

crafting:

1 1/2 oz Porton Pisco
1/2 oz Strega
1 barspoon of Bitter Truth Creme de Violette*
1/4 oz Absente
1/2 oz lemon juice
1 oz fresh pineapple juice
egg white

Dry shake (no ice) the pisco, strega, lemon, pineapple and egg white.
Add ice and the barspoon of creme de violette.
Shake some more and strain into a coupe. Almost there…
PRO tip: when using matches, wait until the sulfur has burned off before you use it.
Light the 1/4 oz absente in a jigger and slowly float/pour it over the top (as seen above).

[ Enjoy ]

MxMo: Cosmopolis

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“Find a recipe, either new or old, and switch around at least two of the ingredients to sister or cousin ingredients but holding the proportions and some of the ingredients the same. The new recipe should be recognizable as a morph of the old one when viewed side by side”
-Frederic Yarm

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This month’s MxMo pulled me out of retirement (more on that later). I missed the last one and wasn’t gonna let the same thing happen again, especially with Frederic of CocktailVirgin fame (fancy-shmancy writer at large) and big Kahuna to Mixology Monday. I liked this month’s theme a lot. Whenever there’s a chance to take something old and make it new, I’m all over that. I mean. Isn’t that what mixology is all about?

As soon as I read the stipulations of MxMo LXXV I immediately thought of this great video I watched a while back by Nils Boese. So really its a series of videos (ALL IN GERMAN!) where this guy teaches you how to make classic drinks (and how to wear the tightest shirt possible) but every now and then he’ll throw something random (like a Jaeger negroni) and I’ll be feverishly trying to translate it, like an asshole, until I give up. How much are German lessons?

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  • Junipero gin
  • Cointreau
  • Leopold Bros Cranberry liqueur
  • Lime juice

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Not all cranberry juice is created equal. I stay the hell away from any juice from concentrate (aka sour mix) so in this case, I’ve replaced the cranberry juice for liqueur. It works surprisingly well and the one from Leopold Bros is nice and tarty without tasting like syrup.

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Surprising absolutely no one, this drink is pretty damn easy. The idea here is for a pleasant gin cocktail with familiar flavors enhanced by the botanicals in a good gin that vodka just simply doesn’t have, along with the richness of the liqueur. 

1 1/2 oz Junipero gin (or your favorite gin with citrus notes)
-substituted the citron vodka for a dry gin with citrus notes.
1 oz Cointreau
3/4 oz Leopold Bros. cranberry liqueur
-substitutes the cranberry juice
1/2 oz lime juice

Add all these little creatures into your mixing apparatus and turn it into something tasty.
Double strain into a martini glass and garnish with an orange peel, after pressing its oils on top of the drink.

[ Enjoy ]

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To my left are the proportions used for a common Cosmopolitan. In fact, that drink in the back is a 100% legit cosmo… that I’m actually drinking right now… For this specific iteration with the gin, I would advice crankin’ up the lime to 3/4 oz, as it plays better with the liqueurs’ sweetness.

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Earhart

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I feel like I haven’t posted in ages and for that, I am sorry […commits seppuku]

This is definitely one of my favorite OG cocktails. Hubris? What is that? I like it mostly because it had some actual thought put into it. As you may know, good cocktails have this nice even flow to them; You add a bit of this, you had an idea to add a bit of that or you simply fucked up and added the wrong thing while watching some squirrels run around outside. Well. That’s been my experience at least. But I’m also a guy that sometimes cant recall if I put deodorant on after taking a shower, so I spend the rest of the day paranoid, trying not to sweat.

This drink was for the Aviation American Gin facebook contest that I’ve been participating in for the last 6 weeks. The contest is still going on and there have been some truly fantastic entries. Best of luck to al…..screw that…I hope I (me) win that trip to the House Spirits distillery in Portland, OR [insert maniacal laugh here]. As you perhaps know by the name, this Aviation gin inspired cocktail was an ode to Amelia Earhart. Wiki her or watch that movie, she was a total badass. The American gin signifies her, the Jameson whiskey for where she first landed and the Benedictine and Dolin Blanc for her (missed) targeted LZ. Surprisingly, this works incredibly well and makes for a great drink to sip.

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Aviation gin
Blanc vermouth
Benedictine
Irish whiskey
Bitters

If you dont have Abbott’s bitters (I’m using the stuff made by Bob’s in England), it’ll still be tasty but it’ll be missing something. I’ve made this with cherry, fig, lavender and angostura bitters and it’s been quite nice. Go crazy. Just try and stay away from the more citrus-y bitters as they throw it off quite a bit.

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My wife put it this way when she took a sip:
“it’s like a female version of a negroni”
…I’ll take that. I would have also been happy with:
“it’s like the 90’s era Michael Jackson”.

1 3/4 oz dry gin  [ Aviation American Gin ]
1 oz blanc vermouth  [ Dolin ]
1/2 oz irish whiskey  [ Jameson ]
1/4 oz Benedictine
2 dashes of Abbott’s bitters  [ Bob’s ]

Get that mixing glass out and stir.
Strain into a rocks glass with a nice chunk of ice.

[ Enjoy ]

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Remedies

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You guys, I’ve had a cold now for what feels like the majority of my adult life. You may know it more commonly referred to as “the vapors“. In all honesty, I’m not sure that’s even remotely similar but if it deals with throwing your hand over your brow whilst holding a dainty handkerchief and fainting all over the place, then they might as well be the same thing. Know this: Its been snowing every. fucking. day. here in New England and I’m kinda done with this cold weather business. Done.

In a cry for help, I decided to take matters into my own hands and “cure” myself with some liquor, a large pizza and a marathon session of Girls. What resulted from that was no better or worse than where I started. In fact, I may have eaten too much pizza and Girls has gotten pretty weird lately – FOCUS, Raul! – Drinks. Yes. Basically, I had leftover ginger/honey/thyme syrup from my previous post that lent itself wonderfully to flavors usually associated with cold medicine: honey, ginger, lemon, cherry, chamomile, hard alcohol. All there. So here’s a little something fun to play with. Two drinks to improve your spirits (even when people say NOT to consume alcohol when taking certain cold medicine… But we know that’s BS anyway, AMIRIGHT?!), even if its just for a moment.    

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Normally I write a quick rundown of the type of ingredients needed but since I gave you the ‘ol “switcheroo” here and made 2 in 1. I’m not gonna do that this time. Instead, I will share a ‘Snapple cap’ fact from a tasty lemon ice tea I had the other day:

“You will die alone”

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Santo Remedio

1 1/2 oz El Tesoro Platinum tequila
1/2 oz Drambuie
3/4 oz G/H/T syrup
3/4 part lime juice
1 barspoon Luxardo Maraschino liqueur

Add all to a Boston shaker. Yes, it has to be a Boston Shaker. You don’t have one? Well then good day to you, sir. …but… I SAID, GOOD DAY.
JK. I would never shun you like that. That’s a task best left for family members or loved ones.
Shake it fast. Or in my case, poorly, when you realize that all your strength has left you.
Dont even bother double straining if you’re sick. You wont even feel the ice shards like you would normally.
[ Now enjoy this sweet, sweet medicine ]

The Best Remedy

No association to this wonderful site, which is on my reading list.

2 oz Grey Goose Le Citron vodka
1 eye-dropper of Bitterman’s Boston Bittahs (contains chamomile I’m told
3/4 oz G/H/T syrup
1/2 oz lemon juice

Take everything. EVERYTHING and just dump it all in a cup or zip-lock bag. You choose.
Shake if you’re able and strain into a rocks glass with a piece of ice that’s bigger than my head (FYI: I’ve been told (by my fiance, mainly) that I have an abnormally large head).
Between you and me, I didn’t even bother straining on my first run (there were a few). That ice was delicious.
[ Enjoy ]

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