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angostura bitters

The Japanese Cocktail

It’s June, 1860, just months before the start of the American Civil War. The Pony Express has just made it possible to send a letter overland to San Francisco in just a few days; Abraham Lincoln is busy getting himself elected President of the United States; and Jerry Thomas is writing The Bon-Vivant’s Companion and working at New York’s 622 Broadway bar. Continue reading “The Japanese Cocktail”

Bitters and Brandy—the Alabazam Cocktail

Historians tell us that humans have been mixing medicinal tonics for ages—and trying to get past their intrinsic bitterness for just as long.

This age-old interest in making medicines palatable is one of the things that led to the mixture of bitters into a glass of sweetened brandy or whiskey.   Continue reading “Bitters and Brandy—the Alabazam 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 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”

Feeling bitter in the Bronx — the Income Tax Cocktail

I still remember the first time I filled out a tax form. I felt very official and bureaucratic; I was an important part of the American economy.

Of course, I didn’t make enough money that year to actually owe any taxes—I was filing to get all my withholding back. But still… Continue reading “Feeling bitter in the Bronx — the Income Tax Cocktail”

The Harvard Cocktail

The Harvard Cocktail is another tribute to the design of the Manhattan, but based on cognac instead of rye whiskey. Continue reading “The Harvard Cocktail”

Is the Manhattan too sweet for you? Try the Lafayette Cocktail

If you like Manhattans, but sometimes find them a bit sweet, perhaps the Lafayette Cocktail is your next best friend.

Continue reading “Is the Manhattan too sweet for you? Try the Lafayette Cocktail”

Making Zombie Punch

I never paid much attention to Tiki drinks because of all the hokey trappings—you know: the faux South Seas ambience, the silly mugs, fake idols, umbrellas and overwrought garnishes, the ingredient lists as long as your arm… Continue reading “Making Zombie Punch”

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