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The Bijou Cocktail

The combination of gin and dry vermouth is a natural, and it’s so well entrenched in our thinking, thanks to the Martini, that modern cocktails hardly ever pair gin with sweet vermouth.

It wasn’t always that way. Take, for example, the Bijou.

Continue reading “The Bijou Cocktail”

A taste of the Gilded Age: the Stinger

The Stinger doesn’t show up on the annual “fashionable drinks” lists any more, but cocktail historians tell us it was once a very tony after dinner drink.

A simple combination of brandy and white crème de menthe, a properly mixed Stinger is at once sweet, satisfying, and refreshing. Continue reading “A taste of the Gilded Age: the Stinger”

Mendacity and the Oriental Cocktail

I’m pretty sure that there are no true stories about cocktail origins.

You know the stories I mean—the wonderful, detail-laden, cock-and-bull accounts that ornament so many of our classics. Every once in awhile, there’s a great one. Continue reading “Mendacity and the Oriental Cocktail”

Devil Mix and smoked absinthe: the Future Ghost Cocktail

I hope you still have some of the “Devil Mix” from Johnny Michaels’s Handsome Devil, because we need some for the Future Ghost.

Michaels describes the Future Ghost as “a Sazerac-Manhattan hybrid, served in a bordeaux wineglass.” Continue reading “Devil Mix and smoked absinthe: the Future Ghost Cocktail”

The Black Manhattan Cocktail

I’m always happy to return to my favorite food group: the Manhattan. This time, it’s the Black Manhattan. Continue reading “The Black Manhattan Cocktail”

The Brown Derby Cocktail

Why would a posh LA restaurant name a popular cocktail after a competitor?

At some point in the mid-1930s, the exclusive Vendome Club did just that. The Vendome—sort of a west-coast 21—started serving a version of the whiskey sour named after one of its Hollywood neighbors: the Brown Derby.
Continue reading “The Brown Derby Cocktail”

Mixing with olive oil: the Oliveto cocktail

When I first encountered Pip Hanson’s Oliveto, my reaction was one of wonderment, bordering on denial.

Olive oil? In a cocktail?

I have no idea how people dream these things up, but my incredulousness gave way to intrigue. I had to try this. Continue reading “Mixing with olive oil: the Oliveto cocktail”

More mixing with honey: the Honey Bee

The honey-sweetened Honey Bee cocktail is the rum variant of the Prohibition-era Bee’s Knees.

The Honey Bee is built on the standard rum sour model, but is markedly different from, say, the Daiquiri. Clearly, there is a lot of room for adjusting flavors in even the simplest of drinks. Continue reading “More mixing with honey: the Honey Bee”

Mixing with honey: the Bee’s Knees

Relatively few cocktails use honey as a sweetener. I suspect honey’s assertive and variable flavor is the likely reason—cane sugar’s simplicity and predictability make it a more attractive standard for amending cocktails.

But honey is one of Summer’s great delights, and there are some cocktails that include it.

The best known is the Prohibition-era’s Bee’s Knees. Continue reading “Mixing with honey: the Bee’s Knees”

The velvet glove — Chatham Artillery Punch

Are you ready to take on one of the grandest, and most insidious, punches of all?

It’s whiskey, brandy, rum, and Champagne all bundled up together. The result is Chatham Artillery Punch, a tricksy and seductive charmer—an iron fist in a velvet glove. Continue reading “The velvet glove — Chatham Artillery Punch”

Ti’ Punch and the Caipirinha

One of my neighbors threw an open-house the other day to celebrate a newly remodeled kitchen. When I arrived, he was already holding forth behind a striking, eleven-foot granite island, muddler in hand, serving up icy Caipirinhas. Just the thing for summer afternoons.
Continue reading “Ti’ Punch and the Caipirinha”

The Handsome Devil

I love that scene in Amadeus where the Emperor chastises Mozart for using “too many notes.” That cracks me up. Continue reading “The Handsome Devil”

The Widow’s Kiss

In an earlier article, I wrote about the Full House Cocktail—complex, herbal, strong, and sweet. A little too sweet for me, so I looked at easy ways to cut that sweetness back.

After a certain amount of rejiggering, I ended up with a drier formula. The result nagged at me a little, because it seemed familiar. I finally got time to do a little research, and there it was: George J. Kappeler’s “The Widow’s Kiss.” Continue reading “The Widow’s Kiss”

Apple whiskey and the Full House Cocktail

“Apple whiskey” is a term you rarely encounter these days. It was once fairly common slang for applejack, itself a slang term for apple brandy.

Apple orchards—in fact, all sorts of fruit orchards—were ubiquitous on eastern farmsteads as early as the 17th century, and it was standard practice for farmers in cold states to make their own apple spirits by “jacking” their hard cider during the winter Continue reading “Apple whiskey and the Full House Cocktail”

Scotch and Irish—Cameron’s Kick

I suspect that every spirit ever made has been tried in cocktails. Some—vodka and gin come to mind—are naturals, blending readily with lots of other flavors. Rum and American whiskies do quite nicely, too.

And then there are the Scotch and Irish whiskies. Continue reading “Scotch and Irish—Cameron’s Kick”

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