Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Wow, hard to believe it's been so long since I've been able to post regularly. A big thanks to all my readers! I hope to be "taking off" again soon. Here's a look at the Aviation to get us well off!

While I did get an early copy of the PDT cocktail book, I didn't get a chance to read it until recently. Section One, "Setting Up the Bar" should be required reading for every bartender. The advice is spot on and there is an an amazing amount of craft bar know-how being shared in these pages.

Getting into the cocktails, I quickly came across the Aviation and realized I had yet to write a post on this cult favorite.

The Aviation was born along with the dawn of aviation history in the early twentieth century.

1916 Cessna

Airplane flying over Dearborn, MI in 1916

The original recipe from Hugo Ensslin's 1916 book Recipes for Mixed Drinks, was not commonly known until recently. David Wondrich was paging through a copy of Hugo's book that he had just scored on ebay back in 2004 when he came across a recipe for the Aviation and "almost dropped the book into his soup".

Up until David's discovery it was commonly thought that the Aviation originated in the 1930 classic Savoy Cocktail Book, in fact - it was a "cornerstone" drink from the Savoy book.

This discovery lead to a larger understanding of Harry Craddock's book, which for at least three generations of discerning barkeeps, served as treasured reference to the art of American mixed drinks - an art that was mostly lost after prohibition. Since Craddock did not attribute any drinks origins in the book, drinks that did not appear in earlier books haven been authored to him.

Wondrich found that Craddock had either used one of Ensslin's adoptions for a standard drink, or directly copied one of Ensslin's original drinks a staggering 146 times! The Affinity, the Alice Mine, Brandy Blazer, the Castle Dip, the Deshler, Fair & Warmer, Fluffy Ruffles, Raymond Hitchcocktail, and many more - all appearing in Ensslin's book first making Recipes for Mixed Drinks one of the more important and useful books to have in your collection. (Mud Puddle makes an excellent reproduction!).

There was one more surprise though, Ensslin called for the addition of a fairly rare ingredient, "Creme de Violette", an unctuous, deep-purple liqueur made from macerated violets. (Austrian maker "Rothman & Winter" make a very good and readily available "Creme de Violette").

The Creme de Violette turns the mixture a nice color, reminiscent of a late evening sky, which does go a long way to explaining the drinks name in the first place.

Hugo Ensslin Recipe from Recipes for Mixed Drinks 1916

Jim Meehan Recipe from The PDT Cocktail Book 2011

Ensslin calls for equal parts maraschino and creme de violette. I prefer the adaptation in the PDT book calling for more maraschino, as this drink can be a little tart without the extra sweetness the maraschino provides. Go easy on the Creme de Violette though, a little goes a long way here.


2 ounces (60 ml) Good (& strong) London Dry Gin
3/4 ounce (22ml) Lemon Juice
1/2 ounce (15 ml) Luxardo Maraschino liqueur
1/4 ounce (7ml...even 5-6ml) Rothman & Winter Creme de Violette

Shake and Strain into a chilled coupe.

No Garnish

I prefer Gordon's Export Strength Gin (47.3% A.B.V.) when I can get it, otherwise Beefeater is a great choice.

This one is tart and gin forward to be sure. It really shows off the Maraschino nicely. If you don't use too much Creme de Violette then you have a nice subtle complexity that's hard to pin down. Too much and you will know it!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Little Buddy

It has been a fantastic summer and I've been taking time off, delving into new flavor combinations, and at times taking a break from cocktails altogether. Summer is drawing to a close meaning my vacation is just about over, must also be time to return to the blog!

Here's an off the cuff rum based riff on the "Old Pal" that turned out especially well. With a rum base, why not an island reference? Here's the "Little Buddy":

The Little Buddy

1 1/2 oz (45 ml) Anejo Rum
3/4 oz (22 ml) Lillet Blanc
1/2 oz (15 ml) Campari
1/4 oz (7 ml) Aperol
1-2 dashes Falernum Bitters

Stir well with ice, strain into a double old fashioned glass with a large ice cube, spray lemon twist over top and use as garnish.

If the "Old Pal"is a nice, light summer drink, then the "Little Buddy" could be a nice "dark" summer drink?

Either way, I have found it to be a wonderfully easy-to-drink apertif, and a welcome one to mix into my regular rotation of summer Negronis.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Red Hook Cocktail

Created by Enzo Errico while bartending at Milk & Honey in New York. The Red Hook, named for a South Brooklyn neighborhood, is a newer variation on the venerable Manhattan.

The Red Hook

2 ounces (60 ml) rye

1/2 ounce (15 ml) Punt y Mes sweet vermouth
1/4 ounce (7ml) maraschino liqueur

Stir well with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

I love a good Manhattan, and I often find myself going for Punt y Mes for my mix anyway. With only 1/2 ounce of vermouth to stand up to the rye, there is a possibility of the drink being too dry for many tasters. The addition of a generous 1/4 ounce of maraschino provides just enough added sweetness, and prevents the drink from becoming to dry and alcohol forward.

Enzo left bitters out of this one, perhaps counting on the Punt y Mes's strong herbals and slightly Campari-like bitter profile to do all the work. While it is a very nice drink as-is, I've found that I do like the addition of bitters. Ango is fine, but wormwood bitters work especially well in this one.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Sitting Bull Fizz

Here's an interesting fizz variation from 1892. From The Flowing Bowl, by The Only William (William Schmidt).

Sitting Bull died on December 15, 1890, around the time William would have been working on his book. This is a good drink, so I'm of a mind that this recipe was meant to be a respectful tribute.

From The Flowing Bowl by William Schmidt, 1892
Juice of large lemon, in 1892, would have been about an ounce. Fine sugar would be a (non-bleached, organic) granulated sugar, but a barspoon of simple syrup will allow for better mixing of the drink.

Santa Cruz rum of the day was a generic term for light, golden rums that came from the Virgin Islands. Cruzan is certainly a geographically correct rum choice. For my drink I wanted something golden, with good character - so why not Havana 7?

William worked in the New York area, and since the recipe does not call for bourbon, or "Kentucky whiskey" by name, rye whiskey is a safe choice. My choice,  Rittenhouse Bonded!

Sitting Bull Fizz

1 ounce (30 ml) rye whiskey
1 ounce (30 ml) lemon juice
1/2 ounce (15 ml) golden rum
1 teaspoon (5ml) simple syrup

Shake well with cracked ice, strain into a collins glass and top with soda water. Stir with spoon and serve.

This is fantastically good, especially on a hot day. A dash of angostura bitters really brings the flavors of the drink together nicely.

The Rittenhouse Bonded 100 proof base lends a nice backbone, but at only an ounce it is not overwhelming. The Havana 7 lends a wonderful exotic sweetness to help the simple syrup balance the lemon juice.

All in all, a very nice fizz! Wait, I better have one more quick just to make sure....

Thursday, June 30, 2011


The "Picador", from W.J. Tarling's 1937 Cafe Royal Cocktail Book (Coronation Edition). Another of Tarling's darling early Tequila recipes. 

The Picador

1.5 ounces (45 ml) Tequila
3/4 ounce (22 ml) Cointreau
3/4 ounce (22 ml) fresh Lime or Lemon Juice

Shake well and strain into a cocktail glass. 

As simple and tasty as this is, you may want to make two. A Picador is one of a pair after-all, (a "Picador" is one of the two horsemen that spear the bull in a Spanish bullfight with a lance.).

Can't decide between lemon or lime? Try one of each!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Monahan Special

Appearing in the Old Waldorf Bar Days book (1931) and attributed to Mike Monahan, this is basically a Manhattan with Amer Picon substituted for Angostura bitters.

An Old Waldorf Bar Days Recipe


2 ounces (60 ml) Rye Whiskey
1 ounce (30 ml) Italian Vermouth
1 tsp Amer Picon Bitters

Stir with ice and strain over a fresh cube in a whiskey glass.

Just as with the Manhattan, rye is the whiskey to use here, as rye whiskey was the most prevalent and readily available in the New York Region at the time these drinks were brought about.

The Amer Picon of the day was much stronger, so upping from a few dashes to a tsp to allow the flavor to come through is not a stretch.

Wild Turkey and Punt e Mes always work well together in my opinion, and the addition the Amer Picon, gives an extra herbal hint along with the obvious orange flavor the Picon imparts. (If you cannot get Amer Picon in your market, try Amaro Cio Ciaro as a reasonable substitute - maybe add an orange twist as well). A very nice drink Mr. Monahan.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Sour Kisses

From Hugo Ensslin's Recipes for Mixed Drinks (1916-1917)


2 ounces London Dry Gin (strong like Beefeaters or Gordon's 47.3%)
1 ounce French Vermouth (I like Lillet Blanc for this one)
1/2-3/4 ounce egg white
1 dash Orange Flower Water

Shake well in a mixing glass with cracked ice, strain into a small stem glass and serve.

A refreshing summer way to enjoy your vermouth and gin. Great name for this drink, and apt too.

The fluffy egg and thick, wet Lillet combine for a texture that is velvety and soft like a kiss. It is slightly sour and very vermouth forward, even with the soft Lillet.

Be careful not to use too much orange flower water. It should be the salt in your soup. A little goes a long way to bring out the flavors already there. Just as with bitters, if you can taste it, you have used too much.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Fluffy Ruffles - Updated

(Still) A nice gem from Hugo Ensslin's Recipes for Mixed Drinks (1916-1917)

I had originally thought it a fairly safe assumption that "Rin of I lime" was a mistake in the printing, and that the intent was "juice of 1 lime" - Thanks to Frederic over at Cocktail virgin slut, I did some extra digging and found that Ensslin does indeed instruct in the use of the rind of a lime, specifically in his recipe for the Jack Rose:

I have revised this entry accordingly.

Fluffy Ruffles

1 1/2 ounces (45 ml) Havana Anejo Reserva
1 1/2 ounces (45 ml) Cocchi Vermouth di Torino
Rind of 1 lime (2 pre-juiced lime halves)

Shake well with cracked ice and strain into a cocktail glass. 

You'll want a good aged rum with lots of character, but nothing as thick and dark as say an El Dorado 15 or as full hogo as a Smith & Cross. What you will want is a "Planter's Best"( for those of you familiar with Wondrich's rum descriptions in his book "Punch".)

In the absence of a good aged Havana Club rum, go with one of the aged Flor de Cana rums like the Grand Reserva 7 or the Centenario 12.

I'm really enjoying my new bottle of Cocchi Vermouth di Torino which is why I'm using it here. Carpano Antica should do nicely here too.

So...revised drink, revised tasting notes. Shaking this drink nice and hard to really infuse the mix with the lime, and double straining, I ended up with (not surprisingly) a very different drink. Much more of a "limey Palmetto".

Lime then rum taking front seat on the nose, followed by very subtle hints of the vermouth. The drink is light and fresh on the palate. Now the rum and vermouth play better together providing a very enjoyable "Manhattan" like experience.

The essence of lime provided by shaking with the rind gives a very nice, fresh citrus profile, and without the full sour of my earlier drink (where I used the juice of 1 lime). It is spot on actually, and now I have something to do with some of those used lime rinds! I'll be playing with this technique for sure.

Thanks again Frederic for the comments!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Here's How!, published in 1927, is a title known to collectors for the many recipes that were copied verbatim into the 1930 Savoy cocktail book. Harry Craddock and the book's editors also borrowed from McElhone, Ensslin and Vermeire among others, which puts the book in good company. 

Judge Jr. was the nomes de plume of one Norman Hume Anthony, who spent quite a bit of time in Frank & Jack's according to an article from TIME magazine from June 19,1939.

Apparently, Norman was still the editor of the Judge in 1927 when Here's How was published...he was fired in 1930 though and spent "several months biting his nails" in Frank & Jack's speakeasy.

There's a bit of a"wardrobe malfunction" going on here if you look close.
Eventually he was hired by Publisher John Delacorte to start the very successful "Ballyhoo" publication, described as a "bathroom burlesque of bathroom advertising".

The "Frankenjack" cocktail was among the recipes first published in this book, and as it states in the notes, was named after the proprietors of a "very, very" well-known speakeasy in New York City.

A famous Frank and Jack's speakeasy, which I think we can safely assume is the same establishment, was described in Michael Batterberry's “On the Town in New York” as follows:

More typical was Frank and Jack’s, a jolly place where there were generally a hundred people jammed into a tiny kitchen barely large enough to hold three tables. Among those struggling for air and room enough to laugh might be Jimmy Durante, Pat Rooney, or Peggy Hopkins Joyce. It was Frank and Jack who perfected the gambit of getting rid of one drunk by asking him to assist another out the door. 

The Frankenjack from Here's How by "Judge Jr." as pub'd in 1927


1 ounce (30 ml) Gordon's Export gin (or Beefeater)
1 ounce (30 ml) French Vermouth (I used my fav Kina Lillet sub, Cocchi Americano)
1/2 ounce (15 ml) apricot brandy (Marie Brizard "Apry")
1/2 ounce (15 ml) Cointreau

Stir well with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

Over the years many recipes have called for this to be a shaken drink. With the absence of citrus however this drink is much better suited to being well stirred.

This drink is basically a Claridge cocktail (sans the chocolate powder dusting) from Harry McElhone's 1922 ABC of Mixing Cocktails. The Frankenjack sounds like something you'd actually order at a bar though, and made for a good story here.

It's a nice drink. Too fruity to be a martini, though that is obviously the base drink here. I suppose if they'd named this 60 years later it would be a "Aprytini" or something "clever" like that. 

The Apry is certainly the dominate flavor, with the Cointreau's orange playing a supporting role only.

Using the Cocchi Americano over a regular dry vermouth gives the drink a nice roundness and silky mouth feel putting this drink more on the sweet side. 

The 47.3% A.B.V. Gordon's Export does a great job of making sure things don't get too sweet, use a good quality, high proof gin for this one for sure.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Collaboration

Still a big favorite!!!

This is a drink that was created in February of this year through a serendipitous collaboration with a friend, whereby we named off ingredients like a dare, decided on the proportions together, and then we each made one in our own home bar.

The results were jaw droppingly good and the drink has been in regular rotation for both of us for several months now. Up until now I've been keeping it to myself rather greedily - a closely guarded secret, and it's only with said friend's blessings, that I am releasing the recipe now.

It is versatile in its serving requirements, working as equally well as a slow sipper in an old fashioned glass over a large ice cube, as it is served "up" in a cocktail glass as a quick "pick-me-up".

We've played with a few variations, Wild Turkey Rye works best with its big bold spicy rye flavor. The Wormwood bitters add a very nice touch and are worth seeking out, though Angostura will work in a pinch.

The Cocchi's high quinine profile works better than Lillet to provide structure against the Strega/Averna combo, and gives just the right mouth feel to the drink.

The 1/4 ounce of Strega may not seem like much...it is in fact enough to allow the robust character of this spirit to be known in the drink. Also, it somehow allows the more subtle flavors of the liqueur to emerge.

Averna is just the right choice of amari to inject herbal depth and subtle sweetness into the mix, and it balances perfectly Strega's brash character. [Mix these two together over ice on a 2:1 ratio (Averna to Strega), you have an excellent digistif with wonderful balance and depth.]

The sublime in this recipe is the transformation that takes places when all of these ingredients come together.

With this recipe the whole is most certainly greater than the sum of its parts. How we struck upon this crazily good of a drink on the first try, still makes us chuckle in disbelief. Try it for yourself, I'd love to hear what you think!

The "Collab"(oration)

1 1/2 ounces (45 ml) Wild Turkey 101 Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey
3/4 ounce (22 ml) Cocchi Americano
1/2 ounce (15 ml) Averna
1/4 ounce (7 ml) Strega
1-2 good dashes of Cocktail Kingdom's Wormwood Bitters

Stir with ice and strain over a large ice cube, or serve up in a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Friday, May 20, 2011


The Gaslight

1 1/2 ounce (45 ml) Scotch Whisky
1/2 ounce (15ml) sweet vermouth
1/4 ounce (7ml) orange curacao
1 dash Drambuie

Stir with ice (except Drambuie) and strain into a cocktail glass. Float Drambuie and garnish with an orange twist.

Nice. Especially with Talisker 10 and Drambuie 15, and the Cointreau/Antica combo holds its own well against the heavily peated and wonderfully smokey Talisker. 

Warming too on these cool, rainy spring days we've been having lately. A lighter, fruitier Scotch drink that should appeal to those that enjoy a "Rusty Nail" now and again, and are open to trying something new. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Little King

Gin, apricot brandy, applejack and lemon juice. That got my attention. Created by a cartoonist, sounded even more interesting. I came across this in the Big Bartender's Book and was surprised it had not caught my eye before. 

Otto Soglow (December 23, 1900 -April 3, 1975)

From Ted Saucier's 1951 title Bottoms Up, and accredited to cartoonist Otto Soglow, this drink was named after a popular comic strip that Otto created for the New Yorker in 1931.

A 32 year old Otto is on the far left, celebrating the end of prohibition in 1933 with some of his fellow cartoonists.

An article in LIFE from 1951 suggested that Soglow and a number of other cartoonists (one is partially visible in the photo above at the right) were brought together to test the properties of waterproof ink; as after being drawn on, the models were doused in water. 

This is also the year Ted Saucier published the Little King recipe in his book Bottoms Up....coincidence? Most likely, but what a great one to document here!

Ted's recipe from 1951 was listed as:

Little King
Juice 1/4 Lemon
1/4 jigger Apricot Brandy
1/4 jigger Applejack
1/2 jigger Gin

Let's assume a 2 ounce jigger so we can get closer to a 3 ounce drink. The 1/4 lemon is trickier - after some experimenting I've found that 1/3 of an ounce makes for a nicely balanced drink.

Little King

1 ounce Plymouth gin
1/2 ounce Apry
1/2 ounce Laird's Bonded Apple Brandy
1/3 ounce fresh lemon juice

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

Delicate and dry, the drink is well balanced by the slightly sweet apricot and apple notes. With the lemon juice just right, it walks the line between sweet and sour well, trending on the dry side, but only a bit.

I've also noticed that this drink opens up very well, that is, when I've allowed it to sit that long - which hasn't been often!