Creating New Cocktails with Fortified Wines

Using vermouth or another fortified wine, along with a base liquor and flavoring liqueur, is a simple way to make a good cocktail.  Jamie Boudreau calls this the “Golden Ratio.”  It is:

  • 1 1/2 oz. Base Liquor (gin, vodka, rye, tequila, etc.)
  • 3/4 oz. Fortified Wine (sweet or dry vermouth, Lillet, Punt e mes, Cocchi Americano, etc.)
  • 1/4 oz. Liqueur (you can go wild here!)Vermouths

This is the starting point.  A way to taste a new liqueur, develop a “custom” drink or recreate a cocktail you enjoyed.  For instance, I had a cocktail that contained Hendricks, sweet vermouth and Chartreuse.  Starting with the “Golden Ratio,” playing with green vs yellow Chartreuse, and tinkering with the ratio, I settled on this:

  • 1 1/2 oz. Hendricks Gin
  • 3/4 oz. Dolan Sweet Vermouth
  • 1/2 oz. Green Chartreuse
  • Lemon zest

Another “for instance”: I was trying Cocchi Americano in various drinks.  To me, Cocchi Americano does not have the spice of a premium sweet vermouth.  What it does have is an herbal/bitter note.  I chose St. George’s Botanivore Gin as the base – herbal but not as much as Hendricks. For the liqueur, I used St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur vs Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur.  Here are the finals: Gin Ratio 1b

  • 1 1/2 oz. St. George’s Botanivore Gin
  • 3/4 oz. Cocchi Americano
  • 1/4 oz. St. Germain Elderflower LiqueurSt Germain
  • 4-5 drops Rhubarb Bitters
  • Lemon zest


  • 1 1/2 oz. St. George’s Botanivore Gin
  • 3/4 oz. Cocchi Americano
  • 1/2 oz. Luxardo Maraschino LiqueurLuxardo
  • 4-5 drops Rhubarb Bitters
  • Lemon zest

Both of these drinks are good.  Your guests will be impressed.  They may not order a second, but they will enjoy their first.

Now. lets push this a little further.  Substitute Aperol for the Cocchi Americano.  Aperol is not a fortified wine but it has a low ABV (11%) and is herbal/bitter.Gin Ratio 5

  • 1 1/2 oz. St. George’s Botanivore Gin
  • 3/4 oz. Aperol
  • 1/4 oz. St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
  • 4-5 drops Rhubarb Bitters
  • Lemon zest
  • Sprig of fresh thyme for garnish

All of the above are stirred with ice in a mixing glass, strained into a chilled cocktail glass and garnished.

Now for one more stretch.  The first cocktail listed above with Hendricks, sweet vermouth and chartreuse.  Add cucumber and shake with ice and you have the Lido Martini.Lido

Remember to use all premium liquors and liqueurs, and fresh premium vermouth.


Tequila Moonlight

Mixology Monday

Mixology Monday

This is my entry into the MixologyMonday LXXXIX, hosted by abarabove.   September’s theme is “The Unknown.”  The challenge is to venture out and do something new.  So I have chosen Kahlua Midnight and pecan infused tequila.

This drink is a testament to the fact that my wife and I are not good together in a liquor store.  Thus, not so very long ago in a liquor store not so very far away, she walks up to me and I point out a bottle of Ancho Reyes and say, “If you weren’t here, I’d buy this.”  Her response as she wonders down the aisle is, “Oh! We have to get this Hibiscus Liqueur.”  Then we both spot the Kahlua Midnight.  We ended up buying all three.  This is why I usually stop by the liquor store on the way home from work.  It’s less expensive.

The Ancho Reyes and Hibiscus liqueur were tried immediately with good results.  I’ve been thinking about the Kahlua Midnight.  Coffee, at least in my mind, goes with chocolate and pecans.  This led back to my thoughts of trying to infuse something with nuts.  Thus the Tequila Moonlight.

Tequila Moonlight

Tequila Moonlight

In the creation of this, I compared silver, reposado and anjeo tequilas combined with Cocchi Rosa, Dolan Sweet Vermouth, Punt e Mes, and Lillet Rouge.  The reposado and Cocci Rosa won with the sweet vermouth a close second.  The Punt e Mes was too bitter and the Lillet too mild.

I tried using nitrogen cavitation to infuse the tequila with pecan, cocoa and bitter orange.  The cocoa and orange came through but the pecan flavor was missing.  It took 7 days in a mason jar to adequately infuse the pecan flavor.

So here’s the drink:

Tequila Moonlight

Tequila Moonlight

  • 1 1/2 oz. Pecan Infused Milagro Reposado Tequila – see below
  • 3/4 oz. Cocchi Rosa
  • 1/2 oz. Kahlua Midnight
  • Garnish: brandied cherry such as Luxardo and an orange zest
  1. Chill a cocktail glass with ice and water
  2. Stir all of the ingredients, except the garnish, with ice in a mixing glass.
  3. Strain into chilled cocktail glass
  4. Drop the cherry into the drink, express the oils from the orange zest over the drink and drop it in.

Pecan Infused Tequila

Pecan Infused Tequila

Pecan Infused Tequila

  • 8 oz. Milagro Reposado Tequila
  • 1/3 cup toasted pecans, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 tbs Cocoa nibs
  • 1/2 tbs Dried bitter orange peel (available on line)

Combine all ingredients in a mason jar and seal.  Store in a cool place, shaking daily, for 5-7 days.  Pass through a fine mesh strainer, followed by a gold coffee filter and finally a paper coffee filter.  Decant into a bottle.  Will keep indefinitely,  but the flavor will fade after a few months.

The Mayahuel

mayahuel_codex_riosMayahuel was the Aztec Goddess of the maguey of which the agave is a type.  She was the mother of the “400 rabbit” gods of drunkenness.  This margarita plays on the agave with tequila, agave orange liqueur, and agave nectar.   I use Maestro Dobel Diamond Tequila or you can use Hornitos.  I find both of these tequilas one-dimensional with a spicy pepper note which actually plays well here.  You can easily use any good white tequila.

  • 1 ½ oz. Maestro Dobel Diamond Tequila
  • 1 ½ oz. fresh lime juice
  • 1 1/2 oz. Agavero Orange Liqueur
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Agave Nectar
  • Pinch of salt


  1. Chill margarita glass with a few ice cubes and water
  2. To a shaker add all of the ingredients.
  3. Shake with ice until shaker is frosted 10-15 sec
  4. Strain into chilled glass

Lido Martini

This drink plays on the faint cucumber note in Hendrick’s and doubles down with the herbal Chartreuse.  Allowing the ice cubes to muddle the cucumber in the shaker, produces just the right flavor intensity.  Unless, of course, you want your cocktail to taste like a salad!

  • Lido1 ½ oz. Hendricks’ Gin
  • ¾ oz. Sweet Vermouth
  • ¼ oz. Chartreuse
  • 3 -4 thin slices of English Cucumber
  • Lemon Zest for Garnish
  1. Combine all ingredients except the lemon zest in a shaker with ice cubes (not crushed). Shake for 30-45 sec.
  2. Double strain into chilled coup or martini glass and express the lemon zest. Float the zest.

Old Fashioned Tent Revival

This drink requires Bad Dog Barcraft’s Fire and Damnation Bitters available here.  You want several dashes of the bitters to enable the flavors to come through.  Then balance the bitterness with the agave.  Be careful not to make it sweet.


  • 2 ozs. Good aged bourbon such as Russell’s Reserve 10 Year Old or Basil Hayden
  • 3-4 dashes Bad Dog Barcraft’s Fire and Damnation Bitters – about 1 barspoon
  • 1/4 oz  Agave Nectar or more to taste
  • Lemon or orange zest
  1. Chill a single old fashioned glass with ice and water.
  2. Add all ingredients to a mixing glass with ice and stir.
  3. Pour over a large fresh ice cube in chilled glass.
  4. Twist zest over glass and discard

Roasted Tomato Chipotle Salsa

I learned the basis for this one on a beach in Mexico.

  • 4 – 28 oz. cans whole tomatoes – see note
  • 1 large onion peeled and quartered
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 5 Chipotles in Adobo
  • 1 tsp. Adobo sauce from the chilies
  • 1 bunch Cilantro washed, with the long stems torn off.
  1. Line a sheet pan fitted with a rack with aluminum foil. Place the rack in the sheet pan
  2. Drain the tomatoes and reserve the liquid
  3. Blacken the tomatoes under a broiler, 20 – 30 minutes depending on the size of the tomatoes.
  4. Place all of the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and process until everything is thoroughly chopped.  Add a little reserved tomato water if the salsa is too thick.
  5. Serve.  Will keep refrigerated for about a week.

Note: You can substitute 8 lbs. of fresh tomatoes.  Remove the skins, cut them in half and roast them on the grill cut side down.  This is a lot more trouble but the salsa will have a nice smoky flavor.

Tuna Wontons

These look and taste great.  The tuna will slice more easily if it is partially frozen.  If you cannot find the Ginger Teriyaki Marinade, a quick recipe follows.

  • ¼ lb. Sashimi grade Tuna sliced into 2- 3/4X3/4 in. rectangles
  • ½ cup Ginger Teriyaki Marinade
  • 2 egg roll wrappers
  • Wasabi paste and pickled ginger for garnish
  1. Marinade tuna in ginger teriyaki marinade for 1 hr.
  2. Lay egg roll wrappers on a clean cutting board.
  3. Pat the tuna pieces dry with a paper towel and place each tuna piece at the top left hand corner of a wrapper.
  4. With a sharp knife, cut the wrapper even with the right end of the tuna. The wrapper will now be the same width as the tuna.
  5. Carefully roll the tuna in the wrapper for one complete turn.  Cut the extra wrapper off so that there is a ¼ in. overlap. Wet the edge of the wrapper so that it will stick.
  6. Heat a nonstick skillet over med high heat.
  7. Cook tuna briefly on each side to just cook the wrapper.
  8. Slice wontons ¼ in thick and arrange on plate.
  9. Garnish with wasabi paste and pickled ginger.

Ginger Teriyaki Marinade

  • 8 oz. Teriyaki
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh ginger
  1. Add all ingredients to whipper and follow instructions for nitrogen cavitation or let the teriyaki and ginger sit overnight

Chicken Satay

These make great appetizers or small plates bites.  Serve with Crab Rangoon and chicken wings for a cocktail party.

  • 1 cup lemongrass, topped and tough bottom removed
  • 1 cup sugar (this is a marinade so you need to use sugar and not substitute)
  • ½ cup fresh ginger peeled and chopped
  • 4 Thai chilies, stems removed
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 Tbl. turmeric
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup dark rum
  • 1 oz. tequila
  • 2 Tbls. fish sauce
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 12 boneless chicken thighs
  • 1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
  • 2 Tbls. soy sauce
  • 3 Tbls. water
  • bamboo skewers
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Vegetable oil, as needed
  1. Remove a few outer layers of the lemongrass, thinly slice, and set aside.
  2. In a food processor, combine the lemongrass, sugar, ginger, Thai chile, garlic, turmeric, lime, rum, tequila, and fish sauce. Process until the mixture is as smooth as possible. Scrape down the sides of the processor periodically to ensure an even puree. Remove the mixture from the processor and transfer to a bowl. Whisk in the coconut milk.
  3. Cut the chicken thighs into strips about 1/2-inch wide. Place the chicken in a freezer bag with the marinade and refrigerate for at least 24 hours or up to 48 hours.
  4. Soak bamboo skewers in cold water for 1 hour before threading.
  5. Make a peanut sauce by whisking the peanut butter, soy sauce and water together in a small bowl.  Set aside.
  6. Begin threading the chicken and allow for approximately 1 thigh per skewer. If the chicken thighs are big, 1/2 a thigh per skewer will suffice.
  7. Heat a cast iron griddle or grill on medium-high flame. Season the chicken with sea salt on all sides and grill.
  8. Serve with peanut sauce

Ellen’s Hummus

  • 1-16 oz. can garbanzo beans – drained, liquid reserved
  • 2 cloves garlic – minced
  • 4 Tbls. lemon juice
  • 2 Tbls. tahini
  • 2 Tbls. olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Add all ingredients to a blender along with 3 oz. of the reserved bean water
  2. Blend until smooth, adding additional bean water if needed

Quail Poppers

Quail legs are actually pretty easy to find in the frozen food section.  This is a fairly simple recipe and they make an unusual appetizer for your next cocktail party. Note: make the Green Goddess Dressing at least 2 hours before serving.

Time 4 hrs: 3 hrs for brining, 1 hr prep

and cooking

  • Quail legs – figure 4 – 8 per person depending on what else your serving
  • 2 Tbls sugar
  • 2 Tbls. salt
  • 1 quart water
  • Regular thickness bacon – 1/2 piece per leg
  • Jalapenos – stemmed, seeded and sliced lengthwise in 1/4 pieces
  • Green Goddess Dressing – see below
  1. Dissolve the sugar and salt in the water and pour over the quail legs in a one gallon baggie.  Refrigerate for 3 hours or over night.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350
  3. Remove the leg sections from the brine.  Cut away the backbone if present so that you have leg/thigh sections.  You can use these leg/thigh sections as is or you can remove the thigh bone and fold the thigh meat over the leg.  It may seem like an extra step, but removing the thigh bone makes it easier to wrap it with bacon.  If you want, use sharp kitchen scissors to remove the thigh bone.
  4. Lay a piece of jalapeno on each leg section and wrap with 1/2 piece of bacon.  Place the wrapped legs on a foil lined baking sheet fitted with a rack
  5. Roast the legs for 30 – 40 minutes until the bacon is crisp and the legs are cooked through.
  6. Serve with the Green Goddess Dressing

Green Goddess Dressing

This is our version of the classic.  You should adjust the herbs to align with your own taste preferences.  Note that tarragon is the classic herb for this dressing.  It will keep in the refrigerator for 3 – 5 days.

  • 1 – 2 oz. can anchovy fillets well drained
  • 2 Tbls. Chopped shallot
  • 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves coarsely chopped
  • 3 Tbls. chopped fresh chives
  • 3 Tbls. chopped mixed fresh herbs such as tarragon (classic), basil, thyme and/or oregano
  • 3 Tbls. white wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbls. lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • Fresh ground black pepper to taste
  1. Combine first 7 ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth
  2. With the blender running, stream in the olive oil
  3. In a mixing bowl, combine the contents of the blender with the sour cream and black pepper.
  4. Allow to rest in the refrigerator for a couple of hours before serving.