Not-Quite -A-tini

Mixology Monday

Mixology Monday

Mixology Monday XCIV is upon us and this month’s theme is “That’s Not a Martini!”  Our host, Nihil Utopia, has hit upon something we really enjoy: messing with gin and fortified wines.  We have two offerings for this round, (We had to pare it down from 6 or 8!!).  First is the G-n-Tini, which, combining gin, dry vermouth and quinine syrup, might also qualify as “That’s Not a Gin and Tonic!”.  For our second we offer The Wellington: barrel aged gin, sweet vermouth and amaro.

GnTini Poster

Fords GinI think that Fords Gin cries out for grapefruit.  It so happens that grapefruit is one of the primary flavors in Jeffrey Morgenthaler’s tonic recipe.  His quinine syrup, that you can add to club soda to make tonic water, is simple and takes less than an hour to make.  I thought that including the quinine syrup directly with the drink would make an interesting bitter sweet addition.  I believe I was correct!  Here’s the recipe:




  • 1 1/2 oz. Fords Gin
  • 1/2 oz. Dolin Sweet Vermouth
  • 1/2 oz. Quinine Syrup – see here
  • Grapefruit peel for garnish
  1. Stir the first three ingredients in a mixing glass with ice to chill
  2. Strain into a chilled coup
  3. Express the grapefruit peel over the drink and float the peel

The Wellington


Treaty Oak Distilling is aging their gin in whiskey barrels to create their Waterloo Antique Gin.  This is truly a unique gin.  It has the sweet caramel nose that you would expect from the barrel aging but with the addition of the herbaceous input of gin.  The flavors are citrus, spice and herbs with a finish of charred oak that is long and smooth.   We combined this with Italian vermouth and Amaro.


  • 1 1/2 oz. Waterloo Antique GinWellington
  • 1/2 oz. Carpano Antica Vermouth
  • 1/4 oz. Averna Amaro
  • Lemon peel for garnish
  1. Stir the first three ingredients in a mixing glass with ice to chill
  2. Strain into a chilled coup
  3. Express the lemon peel over the drink and float the peel


Belle Meade Bourbon

We had a magnificent time at the Cured – Belle Meade Bourbon Paired Dinner this past week in San Antonio.   A meal at Cured Charcuterie is always a treat and this 5 course pairing was no exception. Visiting with Andy Nelson of Green Briar Distillery and hearing about the resurrection of his family’s legacy was fascinating. (You can find the complete story on their web site here). The cocktails, featuring their Belle Meade Bourbon, Sherry Cask Finished Bourbon and Tennessee White Whiskey, were excellent and complimented the, as usual, superb food.

Well, this set me to creating some libations with Green Briar Distillery‘s most excellent Bourbon.  At Cured, they served a sour and a bourbon/amaro cocktail.  The “Chas Sour” contained their Sherry Cask Finished Bourbon, cardamom syrup and lemon juice.  The bourbon/amaro, the “Old No. 5”, used Belle Meade Bourbon, Averna and bitters.  I guessed at and came up with my version of the “Old No. 5.  However, I decided to also make a bourbon sour and a Manhattan both using Belle Meade Bourbon.

Belle Meade TastingFirst, lets talk about Belle Meade Bourbon.  I tasted this neat, both at the Paired Dinner and home.  Let me start by saying that the Nelson brothers have a winner out of the gate!  Belle Meade bourbon is worth drinking neat, on the rocks or in cocktails.  Full disclosure note: I am partial to high rye bourbons which includes Belle Meade.  That being said, here are my tasting notes:

  • Nose: Maple syrup and caramel with grapefruit
  • Taste: Rye spice with caramel, smoke and tobacco with vanilla
  • Finish: Smooth.  Several reviewers report that it has a short finish but I disagree.  It is a smooth, long finish with distinct cherry and spice.  If you “chew” it, you up the spice.

Old No 5

Old No. 5

So, on with the drinks.  Here is my version of the Old No. 5:

  • 1 1/2 oz. Belle Meade Bourbon
  • 3/4 oz. Averna
  • 1 dash Fee Brothers Barrel Aged Bitters
  • Orange peel for garnish
  1. Add all ingredients to a mixing glass with ice and stir until chilled
  2. Strain into a chilled coup
  3. Express the orange peel over the drink and float

Belle Meade Manhattan

Belle Meade Manhattan

Belle Meade Manhattan

This bourbon has legs, so I went straight to a 2:1 bourbon:vermouth ratio.  You can go with more vermouth, but I like the flavors of the Belle Meade and prefer that the vermouth complements and not over powers.  I used Angostura for the bitters and Grand Marnier for the sweetener.

  • 1 1/2 oz. Belle Meade Bourbon
  • 3/4 oz. Carpano Antica Vermouth
  • 1 dash Grand Marnier
  • 1 dash Angostura Bitters
  • Orange peel and maraschino cherry for garnish
  1. Add everything but the garnish to a mixing glass with ice and stir to chill
  2. Strain into a chilled coup
  3. Express the orange peel and float then drop the cherry into the drink.

Belle Meade Sour

I like my whiskey sours 1:1 bourbon and lemon sour.  For the lemon sour, I prefer 2:1 lemon to simple syrup.  I also like the mouth feel of egg white.

Belle Meade Sour

  • 1 1/2 oz. Belle Meade Bourbon
  • 1 oz. Fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. Simple syrup
  • 1 large egg white (can use 3 Tbl. pasteurized egg whites but it will not be the same)
  1. Add all ingredients, in order to a shaker and shake for 30 sec without ice to emulsify the egg white.
  2. Add 3 regular sized ice cubes plus on large cube (1 1/2 – 2 inches)* to the shaker and shake to chill 10 – 15 sec.
  3. Double strain into a chilled coup and serve

* using a large ice cube creates a silky finish that complements the egg white.  You can omit this and use regular ice but you should get a large ice cube tray!

So there are three drinks using Belle Meade Bourbon.  I will soon be posting cocktails using Green Briar Distillery‘s Tennessee White Whiskey.




Mixology Monday XCII – Apples

It is Mixology Monday for December and it’s all about apples.  This most excellent theme is the brain child of Frederic at Cocktail Virgin Slut, this month’s host.  mxmo_apple2

Once again, we have two drinks to offer: Cider Punch and the Plymouth Old Fashioned.

Cider Punch

MxMo CranappleThis drink combines apples in the form of calvados and hard cider with the flavors of ginger and cranberries.  The aroma is apples and lemon.  The taste begins with apple and a touch of sweet ginger and cranberry, finishing with musty cider.



  • 1 oz. Calvados
  • 1/2 oz. Ginger Liqueur
  • 1/2 oz. Cranberry Syrup (see below)
  • 1 oz. Chilled hard cider
  • Lemon twist
  1. Stir the first four ingredients in a mixing glass with ice until well chilled.
  2. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
  3. Express the lemon oils over the drink and discard the lemon.

Cranberry Syrup

This is from Chris Tunstall at abarabove.  The syrup is extremely easy.  You will need:

  • 1 – 14 oz can jellied cranberry sauce
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup water
  1. In a quart sized microwavable container, melt the cranberry sauce on high in 30 second intervals, stirring in between.
  2. Meanwhile, using a small sauce pan on the stove, dissolve the sugar in the water.
  3. When the the sugar is dissolved, add the melted cranberry sauce and stir to combine.
  4. Allow to cool.  This will keep refrigerated in a sealed glass bottle for at least a week.

The Plymouth Old Fashioned

Plymouth Old Fashioned 2A few years ago, I came across a post by Jamie Boudreau where he described his “Old Fashioned Simple Syrup.”  He uses a base liquor, sugar and bitters for the sweetener.  Playing with his idea, I have made a number of drinks with various base liquors, sugars and bitters.  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
  1. Stir all ingredients, except the garnish, in a mixing glass with ice.
  2. Strain into a chilled old fashioned glass with fresh ice – preferably a single large cube or sphere
  3. 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
  1. In a small sauce pan over medium heat, dissolve the sugar in the liquid, stirring frequently.
  2. Allow to cool
  3. Will keep in the refrigerator for a few weeks

Thanks to Frederic at Cocktail Virgin Slut for hosting this month’s Mixology Monday.  Go check out their site and be sure to come back for the roundup of Mixology Monday XCII.


Pomegranate Hibiscus Shim

Pomegranate Hibiscus Shim

Mixology Monday

Mixology Monday

The Mixology Monday theme for this month comes from Dinah Sanders, author of The Art of the Shim: Low-Alcohol Cocktails to Keep You Level.   The concept of the “Shim”, a term coined by Dinah, is a complex and artful, yet low alcohol, drink.  A few years ago, I worked on a number of nonalcoholic, “zero proof” drinks.  However, the notion of a low alcohol cocktail was new to me.  When I first ran across Dinah’s book, I thought the shim was a cool idea, and made it part of my collection.  Now that it is the topic for this month’s MxMo, I have been pushed to explore the concept.

I first tried several fortified wines with various liquors, but nothing was exciting.  What I settled on is the Pomegranate Hibiscus Shim, (partly I’m sure because I’m not ready to give up summer).    The Hibiscus floweringredients: lemon juice, allspice dram and the hibiscus and pomegranate liquors, are brought together by the homemade grenadine.  The drink tastes of pomegranate and citrus with floral notes laced with the allspice dram.  You can close your eyes and think of the Islands … or Fall, whichever you prefer!

Hibiscus_sabdariffa_driedI used homemade grenadine and allspice dram.  Both of these can easily be purchased.  Grenadine is supposed to be pomegranate syrup as apposed to whatever that bottled red liquid you find in the grocery store.  My recipe for grenadine, see below,  is basically simple syrup made with pomegranate juice instead of water. There are two additional ingredients: rose water (sub Fees Brothers Orange Flower Water) and pomegranate molasses available at Middle Eastern groceries  or Amazon heregrenadine-newYou can also find small batch grenadine’s, such as Jack Ruby, at better liquor stores.

The allspice dram is from a recipe by Beachbum Berry.  It is also simple but does require 6 – 8 weeks to make.  Allspice DramAllspice dram, also known as Pimento Liqueur, is made by St. Elizabeth and Bitter Truth.  Both are readily available. If you want to try the DIY version, It was published at amountainofcrushedice for a MxMo in 2008.

This drink does not contain any high proof liquor.  It does have the allspice dram which comes in at 35% ABV.  The Pomegranate Hibiscus Shim is less than 6% ABV.

Here is the recipe for the Pomegranate Hibiscus Shim:Pomegranate Hibiscus Shim CU

  • 1 1/4 oz. lemon juice
  • 3/4 oz. simple syrup
  • 1/2 oz. Hibiscus liquor such as Fruit Labs
  • 1/2 oz. Allspice Dram – homemade or St Elizabeth’s
  • 1/2 oz. Pomegranate Liqueur such as Pama
  • 2 oz. club soda
  • 1 dash Hella Bitters Citrus Bitters
  • Lemon wedge and lemon peel for garnish
  1. Build drink in a Collin’s glass over ice
  2. Express the oil from the lemon peel over the drink and discard the peel.
  3. Serve with the lemon wedge as garnish


Grenadine is made from pomegranates, not cherries.  It is supposed to be red.  If you boil this, it will be brown.  There is no need to reduce the juice on the stove.  Heat it just enough to dissolve the sugar, no more.  You can use Whey Low, but it will not be as sweet.Pomegranate

  • 2 cups unsweetened pomegranate juice
  • 4 cups sugar or 2 cups Whey Low
  • 1 tsp. rose water sub Fees Brothers Orange Flower Water
  • 2 oz. pomegranate molasses
  • Handful dried hibiscus flowers (optional)
  1. In a sauce pan, slowly heat juice and sugar, stirring constantly, until sugar is completely dissolved.  Do not allow to boil.
  2. Add hibiscus flowers, if using, and simmer on very low for 10 min.
  3. Remove from heat, fish out and discard the Hibiscus leaves, and add rose water and molasses.
  4. Allow to cool and decant into a glass bottle.
  5. Keep refrigerated.Pomegranate Hibiscus Shim


This is  my personal favorite drink.  I doubled down on the bitterness by adding bitters and the flamed orange zest.  I serve it in a double old fashioned with an ice sphere.

  • 1 1/2 oz. Plymouth GinNegroni (2)
  • 1 1/2 oz. Campari
  • 1 1/2 oz. Sweet Vermouth
  • 2 Dashes Angostura Orange Bitters
  • 2 Dashes Regan’s Orange Bitters
  • Fat Orange Zest
  1. Chill an old fashioned glass with ice and water
  2. Combine all ingredients, except the zest, in a mixing glass and stir with ice
  3. Strain over fresh ice in chilled glass
  4. Flame the fat orange zest over the drink and drop it in.

The Z

This daiquiri was inspired by my friend Marcus Zuazua.  At his instigation, (I swear it was all his fault), I purchased a bottle of premium aged rum.  Then I went looking for a way to enjoy it.  My search brought me to Hemingway’s favorite daiquiri.  With some alterations and a nod to Hemingway, here is my concoction.IMAG0281


  • 2 oz. good aged rum
  • ¼ oz. Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
  • 2 oz. fresh lime juice
  • 1 oz. simple syrup


  1. Chill a martini glass with ice and water.
  2. While the glass chills, combine all of the ingredients in a shaker.
  3. Shake with ice until shaker is fully frosted: 10 – 15 seconds
  4. Strain into the chilled martini glass.
  5. Enjoy (and toast my friend Dr. Z)

Olive Poppers

I saw these made on a cooking show a couple of years ago.  It was one of those where the directions were incomplete and vague.  This is my version.  We use several different types of olives so it becomes a Forest Gump, box of chocolates thing.

Makes about 2 dozen

Time:  20 minutes active, 1 hour 45 minutes total

  • 1 Cup flour


    Olive Poppers

  • 1/3 Cup cheddar cheese – shredded
  • 2 Tbls. cold butter
  • ½ Tsp. cayenne
  • ½ Tsp. salt
  • ¼ Cup plus more water
  • Assorted olives
  • 4 Tbls. white sesame seeds
  • 4 Tbls. black sesame seeds
  1. To the bowl of a food processor or mixer fitted with a dough blade/hook, add the flour, cayenne, salt, butter and cheddar cheese.  Pulse a few times, scrapping down the sides until the butter is in little grains.
  2. Add ¼ cup water and pulse to combine.  Add additional water, 1 Tbls. at a time, pulsing after each, until a dough just forms.
  3. Turn the dough onto plastic wrap, form into a log and refrigerate for 30 minutes – 1 hour.
  4. Preheat the oven to 450o
  5. While the dough chills, drain the olives.
  6. Combine the sesame seeds in a small dish
  7. Cut the dough into coins and flatten with your fingers.  Wrap dough around individual olives.  Roll the poppers in the sesame seeds and arrange them on a parchment paper covered sheet pan.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes.
  9. Cool slightly and serve.

The Aviation Cocktail

A classic, pre-prohibition cocktail, created to honor the brand new heroes of aviation.  It was invented by Hugo Ensslin, head bartender at the Hotel Wallick in New York sometime in the early 1900’s.  He included it in his 1916 book Recipes for Mixed Drinks.  I have changed this recipe to conform to his original.  I also found that, depending on the sweetness of the lemon juice, 2 – 3 drops of lemon bitters works well.DSCN1224

  • 2 oz. Plymouth Gin
  • 1 oz. lemon juice
  • ½ oz. Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
  • ½ oz. Crème de Violette**
  • 2-3 drops of lemon bitters – optional
  1. Chill cocktail glass with ice and water
  2. Add all ingredients to shaker
  3. Shake well with ice 10 – 15 sec.
  4. Strain into chilled glass

** Not Creme Yvette, which is purple but tastes different