Curl My Toes

Curl My Toes

This cocktail has all of the flavors of your favorite gin Martini with the added herbals of Kina al Avion d’Or.  Plus, the botanicals in the vermouth are enhanced by creating the vermouth syrup.  Curl My Toes has become one of “Doc’s Greatest Hits” at parties and Pop Ups.

While making beer syrup standing at the stove stirring, my eyes fell upon an open bottle of vermouth on the counter awaiting its use in cooking.  I had read about and tasted beer syrup, but I’d never heard of vermouth syrup.  A quick Google consultation confirmed no results.  After some experimentation, I settled on equal parts dry vermouth and sugar

To my palate, dry vermouth is more herbal than sweet vermouth.  So dry vermouth syrup tastes nothing like sweet vermouth.  In this cocktail, the dry vermouth syrup brings a touch of sweetness to offset the bitter Kina and a nice mouth feel.

I have tried this with multiple gins including London Dry’s and the new style herbal gins.  I’ve even subbed Kinsmen Rakia for the gin.  It all works.

Curl My Toes

  • 2 oz. Premium gin such as Uncle Val’s Botanical
  • 1/2 oz. Dry Vermouth Syrup – see below
  • 1/4 oz. Kina al Avion d’Or
  • Fresh herbs such as thyme and sage plus a dried lemon wheel for garnish
  1. Chill a cocktail glass with ice and water
  2. Add all ingredients, except the garnish to a mixing glass with ice
  3. Double strain into chilled glass
  4. Spank the herbs in your palm and float on the dried lemon wheel or on the drink

Vermouth Syrup

  • 1 part Dry Vermouth
  • 1 part Sugar
  1. The best way is to combine vermouth and sugar in a blender and blend on high several minutes until the sugar is dissolved.  You maintain the flavors of the vermouth if you don’t heat the syrup.  But, if you don’t have a blender, you can combine vermouth and sugar in a sauce pan and heat just until the sugar dissolves.  Do not allow the syrup to boil.
  2. Either way, strain through fine mesh strainer into a glass bottle.  Keeps refrigerated for about a few weeks.



Mélange d’Or

I enjoy gin drinks and bitter drinks.  I also appreciate cocktails that are herbal and complex.  The Mélange d’Or combines the flavors of Hendrik’s Gin, Carpano Blanco, Carpano Dry and Tempus Fugit’s Kina L Avion d’Or.  Then I threw in Dale DeGroff’s Pimento Aromatic Bitters for an additional level of complexity.melange dOr 2

Here’s the recipe:

  • 2 oz. Hendrick’s Gin
  • 1/4 oz. Carpano Dry
  • 1/4 oz. Carpano Blanco
  • 1/4 oz. Kina L Avion d’Or
  • 2 – 3 drops Dale DeGroff’s Pimento Aromatic Bitters
  • Fresh Sage leaf or lemon peel for garnish
  1. Chill a cocktail glass with ice and water
  2. Combine all of the ingredients, except the garnish, with ice in a mixing glass.  Stir to chill
  3. Strain into chilled cocktail glass
  4. Garnish and serve



Coup d Or

It seems that any cocktail containing gin and Lillet gets labeled as a Vesper.  Other than the gin and Lillet, this drink is not even close to 007’s original concoction in Casino Royale.   It is, however, delicious and visually stunning, which goes along with this season of glitz and glamor.  We combine the herbal flavors of the St George Botanivore Gin with the citrus and floral Lillet and the earthy bitterness of Kina L’ Avion d Or.

Coup d OrThe St George Botanivore Gin is perfect for this cocktail.   St George uses 19 botanicals with the juniper taking a back seat.  The nose of this cocktail is a combination of the herbaceous gin and the citrus, grape and orange of the Lillet with the woodsy aroma of the Kina.  The flavors are citrus, herb with a hint of juniper, marmalade and a touch of bitterness cleaning up the finish.

The recipe is:

  • 1 1/2 oz. St George Botanivore Gin (sub Hendricks)
  • 3/4 oz. Lillet Blanc
  • 1/4 oz. Kina L’ Avion d Or
  • For the garnish
    • 1 Pickled green tomato – see note
    • 1 Lemon peel
  1. Chill a cocktail glass with ice and water
  2. Combine the gin, Lillet and Kina in a mixing glass with ice and stir to chill
  3. Strain into the chilled glass
  4. Garnish with the pickled green tomato, express the lemon peel over the drink and float the peel.

Note:  The pickle green tomato works very well and is especially tasty after bathing in the drink.  We found them at World Market.  You can substitute an olive.


Notes on the Second Corpse

Notes on the CorpseI am, of course, referring to the Corpse Reviver (No. 2).  Harry Craddock’s original, as published in 1930, called for equal parts lemon juice, gin, cointreau and Kina Lillet with absinthe.  Kina Lillet, which was less sweet and more bitter than the current Lillet Blanc, has not been produced since the 60’s, (or maybe the 80’s depending on who you’re reading).  So I have wanted to replace the Lillet with Cocchi Americano and Kina l’ Avion d’ Or.  Naturally, these substitutions have been tried by others and published elsewhere.  On further investigation, I have found that there were two types of Lillet produced in the 30’s: one for the French market and one for the English.  So, it’s hard to know which one Harry Craddock was using in 1930’s London.  Of course, none of this really matters unless you are a cocktail historian or really want to discover those original drinks.  What does matter is which flavors you prefer.

As an Anesthesiologist, I am always focused on awakening the unconscious, so playing with the Corpse Reviver appeals to me.  In that spirit, I tried each of the above, as follows:

  • 1 oz. Plymouth Gin
  • 1 oz. Cointreau
  • 1 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 oz. either Lillet Blanc, Cocchi Americano or Kina l’ Avion d’ Or
  • Rinse of Lucid Absinthe (Craddock’s original recipe called for 2 dashes which would be about 1/4 tsp)
  1. Shake the first 4 ingredients with ice
  2. Rinse a chilled cocktail glass with absinthe and drain
  3. Double strain the contents of the shaker into the chilled, absinthe rinsed glass.

 Tasting notes:

LilletBlancWith the Lillet Blanc, the initial nose is anise and lemon.  The flavor throughout is herbal and sweet lemon.  Very refreshing.  The anise aroma fades quickly, but the herbal notes of the absinthe blends well with the Lillet.

Cocchi AmericanoUsing the Cocchi Americano, the initial nose is the same as above, as is the initial flavors of herbs and sweet lemon.  The bitterness of the Cocchi Americano comes through in the middle and overpowers the herbal and sweet notes.  The bitterness quickly fades leaving a finish that is strictly lemon.

Avio d OrThe Kina l’ Avion d’ Or created a drink that is entirely different.  The initial nose is a lemon and anise with a grassy tone.  The flavor is  mildly bitter lemon with an underlying earthiness.  Very nice and very different.

In summary, I prefer the Lillet to the Cocchi Americano.  It makes a more complex drink.  The Kina, as noted, creates a markedly different flavor profile, which I also like.  While I enjoy absinthe, I think it can easily overpower this cocktail.  This is why I reduced it to a rinse.  As always, use premium liquors.  The Lillet Blanc and Cocchi Americano have become fairly common and should be available in any good liquor store.  The Kina l’ Avion d’ Or may be harder to find.

The Corpse Reviver (No. 2) is a wonderful drink and I strongly encourage you to try making one, which ever way you like.  Just keep in mind Harry Craddock’s warning, published with the original recipe: “Four of these taken in swift succession will unrevive the corpse again”


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.