Mixology Monday

Mixology Monday

Slán, in Gaelic, roughly translates to “goodby”.  That is the theme for this Month’s Mixology Monday.  It’s over.  It’s done.  Kaput.  So now is goodby to the World’s Best Online Cocktail Party. Hosted by our leader and fearless cat herder, Frederic Yarm of the Cocktail Virgin Slut blog, the actual theme for the final Mixology Monday is the Irish Wake.  A most appropriate way to say, “Slán”

Wow! Mixology Monday I, April, 2006.  Almost 11 years ago.  Back then, you probably had a Motorola RAZR with 5 MB of memory and a VGA camera.  Trendy people had a Nokia Chocolate.  Or, if you were into taking pictures, you might have had a Sony Erickson with a whopping 3.0 megapixel camera!  You listened to music on your iPod but there were no iPhones.  No. 9 Park, Milk & Honey, Employees Only and Bourbon & Branch were cranking out the cocktails we love, but they weren’t using St. Germain.  It would be a year before that was introduced.  How things change.

SlantIt would be interesting to know how many cocktails were posted and how many individuals participated in the 115 Mixology Mondays since April, 2006.  I’ve participated for only a little over 2 years.  I’ve always looked forward to it and had the privilege of hosting twice.  I will miss Mixology Monday.

For me, toasting to someone’s memory calls for a shot. Unfortunately, I have raised a glass for several family members and friends that left us.  Some were far too young.  The one Mixology Monday I missed over the past two years was when a close friend died and I wasn’t feeling too creative.  But an essential part of a wake is to celebrate the life that’s ended.

I find that creating a new shot is a bit difficult.  While you can sip a shot, they are by nature made to be downed quickly.  This means that you’re not going to savor the flavors.  So subtlety is out the window.  Plus, shots are generally not served cold.  This means that sweet, sour and salt are dramatically different.

I usually try not to get too esoteric or or use a bunch of ingredients in my cocktails.  This time I’ve done both.  The Slán combines Irish whiskey, fernet, blood orange liqueur, Pineau des Charentes and Punt e Mes infused with coffee and roasted cocoa nibs.  The infusion only took an hour, but it does need to be made in advance.  When you offer someone a shot, it matters how much effort you put into its preparation.


All of these ingredients are very good as stand alone drinks.  I think that Jameson has developed some really amazing whiskeys and their Black Barrel is one of the best.  The Luxardo Fernet is one of my favorites.  It is a touch sweeter than most.  I had to mess with the Punt e Mes adding coffee and a touch of chocolate.  I’ve only recently started using Solerno, but I’m intrigued with the blood orange.  The Penau des Charence adds a touch of sweetness and richness from the cognac.

Even though this is a shot and goes down quickly, there is a lot going on.  The nose is Irish Whiskey, with the distinct caramel and malt of the Black Barrel, there is also vanilla and herbs.  The taste is caramel and toffee from the Jameson with sweetness from the Penau with a background of bitterness from the Punt e Mes and the Fernet.  There is also coffee, orange and touch of woodiness from the Jameson and the Fernet, especially on the finish.  Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 1/2 oz. Jameson Black Barrel Irish Whiskey
  • 1/4 oz. Coffee & Roasted Cocoa Nib Infused Punt e Mes – see below
  • 1/4 oz. Penau des Charence
  • 1/8 oz. Luxardo Fernet
  • 1/8 oz. Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur
  1. Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with 1 or 2 ice cubes.
  2. Stir to chill slightly
  3. Strain into 2 shot glasses

Punt e Mes Infused with Coffee and Roasted Cocoa Nibs

  • 250 ml (8 oz) Punt e Mes plus more for diluting
  • 30 gm Cracked Black Coffee Beans
  • 3 Tbl Cocoa Nibs
  1. Heat the oven to 325
  2. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil and scatter the cocoa nibs across the pan.
  3. Roast in the oven until they smell like fresh brownies – about 10 min
  4. Crack the peppercorns in a mortar and pestle or a baggie and rolling pin
  5. In a lidded glass jar, combine all of the ingredients and allow to infuse for 1 hr.
  6. Strain through a metal coffee filter and then through a paper coffee filter
  7. Taste and dilute with additional Punt e Mes to taste.  I added an additional 1/2 by volume.
  8. Keeps refrigerated for a few weeks.

So here is to all of those who followed or contributed to this and all of the Mixology Mondays past:

CheersMay the road rise up to meet you, and the wind be at your back.

May the best of your past be the worst of your future.


MxMo CXIV – Digestifs

Mixology Monday

Mixology Monday

I love bitter!  So, naturally, I love this theme! I think the amari and other digestifs add an amazing complexity to any style of cocktail, (well, I haven’t tried it with Tiki drinks – yet!)  This month we have two cocktails to offer.  We obviously have the Holidays in mind as these are both rich and creamy drinks!

Danny Boy

Danny BoyThis is a rich, bittersweet version of an Irish coffee.  I’ve used coffee syrup, which is easy to make and works much better than hot brewed coffee in cold cocktails.  The flavors are coffee first with a background of bittersweet and a creamy texture.

  • 2 oz. Cold brewed coffee syrup – see below
  • 1 oz Irish whiskey – I used Tullamore Dew Special Reserve 12 yr.
  • 1 oz. Licor 43
  • 1/2 oz Montenegro
  • 1/2 oz 2:1 Simple syrup
  • 1/2 oz Cream
  • Coffee beans for garnish
  1. Chill a large Coup with ice and water
  2. Combine all ingredients, except garnish, in a cocktail shaker with ice
  3. Shake to chill
  4. Double strain into chilled glass
  5. Allow the foam to rise to the top for 15-20 seconds then carefully drop three coffee beans on top for garnish

Coffee Amaro Flip

Bittersweet Coffee FlipI think that Flips, in all of their forms, are an interesting type of cocktail.  This drink is kind of a grownup eggnog – rich and creamy but not cloyingly sweet, with a bittersweet component which creates an intricate cocktail that speaks rum, coffee and the deep, earthy flavors of Amaro Nino.

  • 2 oz White rum – I used Treaty Oak
  • 1 oz. Amaro Nino
  • 3/4 oz Cream
  • 1/2 oz 2:1 Simple Syrup
  • 1/2 oz Coffee Liqueur – I used Starbucks
  • 1 Lg Egg
  1. Chill a large Coup with ice and water
  2. Combine all ingredients in a shaker without ice and dry shake for 30 seconds (Make 4 of these and you can have an extra slice of pie!)
  3. Add ice to the shaker and shake to chill
  4. Double strain into chilled glass
  5. Allow the foam to rise to the top for 15-20 seconds then grate a little nutmeg on the top.

Cold Brewed Coffee Syrup

Making a cold syrup concentrates the flavors of the coffee.  Definitely use a coffee you like to drink!  We use a dark roast from Starbucks.

  • 3 1/2 cups coarsely ground coffee
  • 5 cups water
  1. Combine coffee and water in a container stir well and let sit for 12 hours at room temperature.
  2. Strain, first through a fine mesh filter, then through a paper filter
  3. Keeps refrigerated for 1-2 weeks


Kumquat Sour

Kumquat SourI love kumquats, partly because it’s a fun word, but mainly because of the sweet and sour flavor.  It’s the only citrus I know of that you eat whole – peel, seeds and all!  A few years ago, I bought and planted a kumquat tree and eagerly awaited it’s first season.  What I did not know was that there are 2 types of kumquats that are common in the US.  The small one that we see in the grocery stores, which are the ones that you just pop into your mouth, and a larger, rounder variety that is not really amenable to eating out of hand.  Guess which one I got!  Well, what to do with a plethora of beautiful, small citrus that is sweet and very tart?  Make cocktails, of course.

The juice of these kumquats tastes a bit like orange, but has a tart/sour taste as well.  It is similar to lemon or lime juice in its tartness.  So I thought of a sour.  First up was a bourbon kumquat sour.  When I say that this that did not go well at all, I mean; “at all!”  What really surprised me was that the juice went very well with Irish Whiskey. I used Tullamore Dew 10 year old Single Malt.  The Tullamore Dew has the earthy, grassy flavors of Irish whiskey with the flavors of fruit, (apricot, pineapple, raisin) and wood.  This blended perfectly with the sweet/sour/tartness of the kumquat.  The kumquat juice is a bit sweeter than lemon juice, so I backed off on the simple syrup.  Here is the recipe:

Kumquat Irish Whiskey SourKumquat Sour 2

  • 2 oz. Tullamore Dew 10 year old Single Malt
  • 1 1/2 oz. Fresh kumquat 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  ice cubes  to the shaker and shake to chill 15-20 sec.
  3. Double strain into a chilled coup and serve



Cranberry Bellini with Cranberry Syrup

This is from Chris Tunstall at abarabove.  I am re-posting it here because making a syrup from jellied cranberry sauce is a great idea, (for other awesome ideas, you should check out their site).  We used the cranberry syrup in their Bellini and I also used it to make a version of Patriot Punch.

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.

Chris Tunstall’s Cranberry Bellini

Chris uses sparking water.  We opted for champagne or sparking apple cider.

  • 1 oz. Cranberry Syrup
  • Champagne or sparkling cider
  1. Add the cranberry syrup to a chilled flute or coup
  2. Top with the champagne or sparkling cider
  3. Toast Chris

Patriot Punch

There are a number of versions of this punch.  They usually call for cranberry juice and apricot brandy.  I saw a use for the cranberry syrup and besides, I can’t leave anything alone!

  • 1 oz. Irish Whiskey
  • 1/2 oz. Apricot Liqueur
  • 1/2 oz. Cranberry Syrup
  • 1 oz. Champagne
  • Lemon twist and brandied cherry
  1. Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir until chilled
  2. Strain into a chilled coup.  Express the lemon peel and float it on top.  Drop in the brandied cherry.


In Search of the Perfectly Balanced Manhattan

This came out of my recent exploration of the venerable Manhattan.  The combination of whiskey and vermouth has not been my personal favorite.  A few weeks ago, we attended a dinner where the chef paired each course with a specific libation.  He included an excellent  Manhattan with a small batch bourbon and an Italian Vermouth.  Inspired by this, I have determinedly pursued the perfectly balanced Manhattan.

“Well,” one may ask, “what makes any drink ‘perfect’?” 

ManhattanThe answer is, of course, the one for whom the drink is made.  Recipes for the Manhattan from the turn of the 20th Century, call for vermouth in a much higher ratio than those from the last 20 years.  In fact, the vermouth in the Manhattan suffered the same fate as vermouth in the Martini – it practically vanished.

The Manhattan is a simple, yet complex drink.  Some time back, I noted Gary Regan’s discussion of the Manhattan in his book The Joy of Mixology.  He points out that the ratio of whiskey to vermouth varies with the chosen ingredients.  Anywhere from 2:1 – 2:1/2 whiskey to vermouth.  The stronger the flavors of the whiskey, the more vermouth it can handle.  The goal is to construct a cocktail that balances the sweet spice of the base whiskey with the complexity of the vermouth.

With that goal in mind, creating your “perfectly balanced” Manhattan will require premium ingredients and some trial and error.  In other words, purchase your favorite bourbon or rye along with a good sweet vermouth and start mixing and tasting!  I suggest that you start with a whiskey that you enjoy straight.  I also suggest that you spring for a couple of different sweet vermouth’s, maybe a French and an Italian.

Manhattan Al

Our Butler Al serves a wonderful Manhattan!

Start building your drink with a high whiskey:vermouth ratio – say 2:1/2 or even 2:1/4.  Chill with ice in a mixing glass and taste from a shot glass.  You can then add a little more vermouth as you taste.  When your ratio is getting close, start thinking about what bitters you would try and any sweetener the drink might need.  To try bitters, taste the bitters on your finger followed by a sip from your shot glass.  You can do the same with the sweetener.

When you think you are close, stir up a fresh drink and strain into a cocktail glass.  What does your nose tell you?  What is the first thing you taste with the first sip?  What garnish will enhance these?  The classic is a brandied cherry and possibly a citrus peel.  Here I used Grand Marnier as the sweetener and brandied cherries for the garnish.  I did not think that either orange or lemon oils added much.

carpano anticaFor the vermouth I chose Carpano Antica, a sweet Italian.  I found this quote concerning Carpano Antica from the Wine Enthusiast dated 2011:  “This dark, mysterious vermouth is rich, complex and layered, boasting aromas of mint and other herbs, plums and figs, reminiscent of Madeira. The rich flavors are hard to pin down: cocoa, red wine, almonds, bitter marmalade, hints of spice and toffee all play across the palate, finishing with a bracing bitter edge. This delectable sweet vermouth would shine in a Manhattan.”  I think that sums up the Carpano Antica!

So, here are my recipes:

Irish ManhattanIrish Manhattan

While rye and bourbon are the classics in the Manhattan, I don’t see any reason not to try an Irish Whiskey.  Specifically the Tullamore Dew 10 year old Single Malt.  As I’ve noted before, the Tullamore Dew has the earthy, grassy flavors of Irish whiskey with the flavors of fruit, (apricot, pineapple, raisin) and wood.  Just the depth of flavors that blend with vermouth.

  • 1 1/2 oz. Tullamore Dew 10 year old Single Malt Irish WhiskeyTullamore Dew
  • 3/4 oz. Sweet Italian Vermouth
  • 1 dash Grand Marnier (1/8 tsp)
  • 1 – 2 dashes Angostura Orange Bitters
  • brandied cherries for garnish
  1.  Chill a cocktail glass with ice and water.
  2. Stir to combine all ingredients, sans cherries, in a mixing glass with ice.
  3. Strain into chilled cocktail glass and garnish with the cherries

Bourbon Manhattan

RussellsFor the bourbon Manhattan, I used Russell’s Reserve 10 Year Old.  This is a bit of a lighter bourbon, but still has the sweet and spicy notes you expect from a quality aged bourbon.  Note that in addition to using a higher ratio of vermouth, the recipe includes more Grand Marnier.

  • 2 oz. Russell’s Reserve 10 Year Old Bourbon
  • 1 1/2 oz. Italian Vermouth (sweet)
  • 1 tsp Grand Marnier
  • 1 – 2 dashes Angostura Orange Bitters
  • brandied cherries for garnish
  1.  Chill a cocktail glass with ice and water.
  2. Stir to combine all ingredients, sans cherries, in a mixing glass with ice.
  3. Strain into chilled cocktail glass and garnish with the cherries

Rye Manhattan

Sazerac-Rye-Black2-1-290x290Sazerac is my rye whiskey of choice.  Made at the Buffalo Trace Distillery, it is spicy and sweet with flavors of orange peels, pepper and allspice.  It blends very well with the Italian Vermouth.  Note that this is the same recipe as the Irish Manhattan, just substituting the Irish Whiskey for the rye.

  • 1 1/2 oz. Sazerac Rye Whiskey
  • 3/4 oz. Italian Vermouth (sweet)
  • 1 dash Grand Marnier (1/8 tsp)
  • 1 – 2 dashes Angostura Orange Bitters
  • brandied cherries for garnish
  1.  Chill a cocktail glass with ice and water.
  2. Stir to combine all ingredients, sans cherries, in a mixing glass with ice.
  3. Strain into chilled cocktail glass and garnish with the cherries

When your guest asks for a Manhattan, he or she is probably expecting a drink that is long on the bourbon or rye and very short on the vermouth.  It will be up to you to introduce them to your version of the perfectly balanced Manhattan!




Mixology Monday XC

Mixology Monday

Mixology Monday

Golden Kiss

Golden Kiss

This month’s Mixology Monday theme is “Perfect Symmetry.”  Hosted by Southern Ash, the idea is to find a balance between two related liquors or liqueurs.  His examples included sweet and dry vermouth, bourbon and rye, gin and vodka, and tequila with mezcal.  I would like to offer two drinks this month.  The first, a bit of a cheat on vermouth and vermouth, is the Golden Kiss.  A blend of Lillet Blanc and Kina L’ Avion D’ Or with dry curaçao.   Of course Kina Lillet, of 007 fame, is no longer available, so combining Lillet with a quinquina makes some sense, (to me anyway.)  I have been playing with Suze and Kina L’ Avion D’ Or so the segue to the Golden Kiss was simple.  The Lillet and Kina L’ Avion D’ Or share the fruity taste of orange, marmalade and apricot.  While the Lillet has a floral note, the Kina L’ Avion D’ Or has the bitterness of cinchona.  Together with the dry curaçao, they play together nicely.  I originally used Suze instead of the dry curaçao, and if you like bitterness, I would suggest you try it, but it will be bitter.  Here is the recipe:

  • 2 ozs. Chilled Lillet BlancLilletBlancAvio d OrPierre-Ferrand-Curacao
  • 2 ozs. Chilled Kina L’ Avion D’ Or
  • 1 oz. Dry curacao such as Pierre Ferrand
  • 3 or 4 frozen strawberries
  1. Combine all ingredients in a chilled champagne flute
  2. Serve with the strawberries as ice cubes

My primary offering is the Autumn Spirit. This drink combines Irish whiskey with American single malt whiskey and bittersweet burnt honey. I finished it with Fees Brothers Whiskey Barrel- Aged Aromatic Bitters and served it neat in a brandy snifter.

For the whiskeys, I used Tullamore Dew 10 year old Single Malt Irish Whiskey and St Georges Single Malt Whiskey. The Tullamore Dew has the earthy, grassy flavors of Irish whiskey with the flavors of fruit, (apricot, pineapple, raisin) and wood. The St Georges has a forward almond flavor with a floral nose and the taste of cocoa. Having been aged in similar casks (bourbon, sherry and port) the wood flavors blend nicely.

Being partial to bitters forward old fashioneds, I thought that burnt honey syrup would be fun to try with whiskey. The burnt honey, which I burned to a dark coffee color, brought out some of the wood while the honey brought along the floral and grassy notes. The cinnamon, spice and wood flavors of the Fees Brothers Whiskey Barrel-Aged Aromatic Bitters enhanced the earthiness, cocoa and fruit of the whiskeys.St Georges Whiskey Tullamore Dew

  • 1 oz. Tullamore Dew 10 year old Single Malt Irish Whiskey
  • 1 oz. St Georges Single Malt Whiskey
  • ½ oz. burnt honey syrup (see below)
  • 10-12 drops Fees Brothers Whiskey Barrel-Aged Aromatic Bitters
  1. Combine all ingredients in a brandy snifter
  2. Serve neat

    Autumn Spirit

    Autumn Spirit

I obviously like this drink. I want to thank Joel at Southern Ash for hosting this month’s Mixology Monday XC and for inspiring me to try these combinations.

Burnt Honey Syrup

Burnt Honey Syrup

Burnt Honey Syrup


  • Large pot – 8 qts
  • Long sleeve jacket/apron/chef’s jacket
  • Pair of heavy heat proof gloves


  • 1 Cup Grade A Honey
  • 1 Cup Water
  1. In a large pot with steep sides, heat the honey over high heat stirring frequently. Note: the honey will foam and multiply several times in volume, so use at least an 8 qt pot.
  2. When the honey begins to boil, about 3 minutes, begin stirring constantly. The foam will be so thick that you will only see the color of the honey in the spoon.
  3. Continue to boil, lowering the temperature if needed to keep control of the foam, until the honey is dark brown to black – about 12 minutes.
  4. Slowly add the water. WARNING: the water will spit molten honey onto exposed skin or your eye. Keep adding water, stirring constantly until incorporated.
  5. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.
  6. Store in the refrigerator.