Another one from Food & Wine's Cocktails 2014. I'm still enjoying this book, bouncing around from drink to drink. On paper The Tax Lawyer reminded me of The Journalist which shares a core of gin, sweet and dry vermouth, and a little bit of citrus. They also include an additional modifier (triple sec in The Journalist, fernet in The Tax Lawyer) and in the case of The Journalist some Angostura. What I like about these drinks is that the citrus and triple sec/fernet are added in such small amounts that they manage to keep plenty clear of a sour style drink or fernet bomb (which are fine in their own right) and serve mainly as an accent to the always agreeable combination of gin and vermouth. 

The Tax Lawyer uses genever as the base. There's still sweet and dry vermouth and citrus but here they're joined by a skosh of fernet. The result is smooth and rich, malty and sweet, but not too sweet. Genever's aroma starts things off along with a bit of orange from the twist. The sip brings more of that signature genever flavor along with its herbs which tie in nicely to those contributed by the vermouth. Fernet peaks through (a departure from its usual, more bombastic style of entrance) near the finish. I'm not usually one for orange juice in cocktails but here, at 1/2 tsp its impact is subtle and it adds a touch of sweet citrus.



The Tax Lawyer - Derek Brown, DC
1 1/2 oz Bols Genever
3/4 oz Sweet Vermouth
3/4 oz Dry Vermouth
1/2 tsp Fernet Branca
1/2 tsp Orange Juice
Garnish - Orange Twist

Stir, Strain, Up

Usually, standing in line at the grocery store is a drag. I mean sure, it's fun to catch up on celebrity headlines but I tend to save that for the stack of magazines at Kim's Sandwich Shop when I'm waiting for an avocado smoothie (yes, an avocado smoothie. I thought it sounded weird too when I first heard about it. But it's not weird, it's delicious).

Once a year, however, the grocery store checkout line holds a surprise...Food & Wine's annual cocktail book. These books are great. I first started buying them a few years ago and older issues are something I still keep an eye out for when looking through used books. They cover a fair amount of drink-making basics and highlight certain bars and trends but really, it's the recipes that make this book something I look forward to. These guides routinely feature a variety of classics but also drinks from well-known bars and bartenders around the country. Also, there's a lot of amazing glassware.

2014 marks the 10th anniversary of F&W's cocktail books and they've chosen to use it as an opportunity to highlight drinks from previous editions*. There's a ton of stuff I'm looking forward to trying. Heck, I may even have a go at making Aviary's Bloody Mary. First up though was Chris Hannah's Accoutrement.





The scent of apples starts the whole thing off. This runs into a sweet/tart flavor that has a candy-like quality. A delicious and complex candy, at once zippy and bright but also rich with oranges, apples and intriguing spices. The drink has a smooth texture that contrasts nicely with the citrus and bitters. As it warms, Strega's complex herbs begin to peak through more prominently. Creole Shrubb and Strega get along quite well and this pairing is something I look forward to experimenting with in the future. 


Accoutrement - Chris Hannah, Arnaud's French 75 Bar, New Orleans
2 oz Calvados
3/4 Strega
3/4 Lemon
1/2 Creole Shrubb (can sub Grand Marnier)
2 dashes Peychaud's
Garnish - 3 cherries

Shake, Strain, Up


*The format for these books changes every now and then. Often, drinks are grouped by base spirit. Of the handful that I have though, 2012 is the one I keep returning to. In that book each bartender gets a classic. There's a recipe for how they make that classic, then a recipe for a twist on it. This is followed by a drink further removed from the original, though still keeping true to that drink's feel. Many of them also feature non-alcoholic variations.  


I have a soft spot for Cynar and Campari. I may run out of things like Benedictine, curacao, Chartreuse, even vermouth sometimes, but those two bitter ingredients are staples. Running out of them is something I try to avoid. Which usually means having emergency backup bottles on hand.

There are cocktails that feature a combination of these two ingredients (Eeyor's Requiem, The Last Mechanical Art - both from Beta Cocktails) or some other pairing of bitter ingredients (Paper Plane, Ponte Vecchio). If you tend to favor bitter drinks, all of those are worth a spin. The Paper Plane in particular has been a longstanding favorite and its easy-to-remember spirit, bitter, bitter, citrus ratio (1:1:1:1) has been responsible for many variations around the house.

At some point (maybe I was bored and out of Fernet) I wondered how Cynar and Campari would get along unadorned. The answer? Just fine. The result was rich and vibrant, capable of standing on its own but also easy to mix with. The bitter/bitter combination has plenty of flavor but not a huge wallop of alcohol (Cynar 16.5%, Campari 24%) which adds to its versatility.

I usually combine them in bulk 3:2, Cynar to Campari, and pour it in a bottle. This enables me to avoid weird fractions when I do want to work the combination into a drink. Well, I reach for it often enough that I've now taken that laziness one step further and engraved the bottle so I really don't have to measure anything when mixing the base. Cynar up to the first line. Campari to the second. I also tried to label which section was which in an effort to minimize future confusion. It turns out writing on a bottle with an engraver is tricky. And loud.




Often, I just pour this stuff in a glass, maybe add some ice and a twist, and call it good. However, it makes for a decent spin on drinks calling for vermouth, Campari or most amari. Which makes Negroni riffs a pretty solid bet. Add equal measures of this stuff and bourbon for a nice twist on the Boulevardier. Or swap Smith & Cross for the bourbon and get a tasty variation on the Kingston Negroni. 

The picture below is a riff on the Negroni Sbagliato. Or technically, the Sbagliato Due ('second mistake') since that one has gin in it. Gin plus the Cynar/Campari mix plus Prosecco, over ice. Not a bad way to ease into the late afternoon.



3:2 Negroni Riff
1 1/2 oz Cynar/Campari (mixed 3:2)
1 oz Gin
Garnish - Orange Peel

Build over ice in double old fashioned glass.


The Maple Leaf is a simple and tasty spin on the Whiskey Sour. Maple syrup is used as the sweetener and that flavor mixes agreeably with the bourbon while the lemon offsets its sweetness. The result is a sour with a bit more depth and complexity. One that refreshes while complementing these lazy warm evenings. Though, really, once a chill begins to creep in I imagine it'll fit in fine there as well. Also, this one is ridiculously easy. Three ingredients, that's it.

I came across the Maple Leaf while trying to work my way through the Anvil 100 a few years ago. The list changes* and I had two versions at the time but fortunately there was a lot of overlap. It was a pretty fun endeavor (there are still a few left to try), full of pleasant surprises like the Monte Carlo, the Tailspin and the Fedora. The list is thorough and full of classics, with more than a few off-the-beaten-path drinks. I'm not sure that anyone would be a fan of all 100 of them but as Anvil co-owner Bobby Heugel says, the list wasn't intended to be viewed as the 100 best cocktails ever. Rather, an introduction to a bunch of great, historic drinks. Or, as one of the lists says "libations we feel you should try at least once in your life...for better or worse." The Maple Leaf is definitely for the better.



Maple Leaf - unknown origin
2 oz Bourbon
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
3/4 oz Maple Syrup (I usually use something dark)

"Shake and strain into a cocktail glass filled with crushed ice. Drink on a porch with an old dog."


*There have been a couple of updates to the list over the years. I didn't realize until I looked for the link that they're now on version 2.3. Drinks are still grouped under categories like 'sour and short', 'boozy and alluring', 'bitter and bold' etc., but there's some new ones on there. Now I have to figure out how to mix up a Billy Wilkerson Topper. And a Moss Rose. Though I think I'll start with a Fernet Daiquiri.


Here's a drink from David Embury's The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks. The section on Rum Sours is prefaced with his statement that he considers the Daiquiri the most outstanding of the lot. I wouldn't disagree with that sentiment (or pretty much anything he says. He may be opinionated but he's usually spot on). He then goes on to list a handful of variations including the Beachcomber, Airmail, Knickerbocker and one which he created, and named after his favorite community, the Larchmont. 

White rum, lime and sugar are all present but this one veers away from the Daiquiri by augmenting the sugar with Grand Marnier or, as he calls it, "the king of liqueurs". The inclusion of Grand Marnier here works and takes what is usually a crisp, bracing and refreshing affair and rounds things out a bit. The texture itself is smoother and there's a pleasant, slightly mysterious depth imparted by the sweetened brandy and orange liqueur.



Larchmont* - David Embury, The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks, 1948
2 oz White Rum
3/4 oz Grand Marnier
3/4 oz Lime Juice
1 tsp Simple Syrup (Embury's is 3:1**)
Garnish - Orange Peel, optional

*Embury's recipe is actually listed in parts (6:2:2:1/2) and the amounts specified above are an imperfect approximation of those parts. If you've been looking for an excuse to buy metric jiggers this type of recipe converts easily to milliliters (30 ml is about an ounce). Then it looks like this:

60 ml White Rum
20 ml Grand Marnier
20 ml Lime Juice
5 ml Sugar Syrup (5 ml is about 1 tsp)


**Thanks John, for reminding me it's 3:1. I had forgotten this important tidbit.


Random - Embury considers the "original and correct" Daiquiri to be 2 oz white rum, juice of half a lime, 1/2 tsp sugar. Cited among its attributes - "[t]he reaction time is short." Earlier in the book, while discussing his 3:1 simple syrup he bemoans the wasted time spent dissolving sugar in drinks like the Daiquiri and eventually details the 8:2:1 ratio (using simple syrup) for which he is well known. Its not quite as dry, but it's still bracing and plenty delicious. Difford's 10:3:2 ratio (using 2:1 simple) is another popular version and one which I turn to often.


This is one I don't make all that often. Which, I suppose, doesn't sound like much of a recommendation. The thing is though, when I do want this drink, it's the only thing that will cut it. It's rich and luxurious, slightly sweet and has loads of flavor. Bourbon's heat and spice, Fernet's dark and herbal bitterness, hints of orange from the Grand Marnier...there's a lot going on here. This is a drink that wants to be dwelled upon and is tough to beat when it comes to putting the affairs of the day quietly to rest.



I didn't realize until I looked it up to get the attribution info that this drink is a riff on the Hoskins. The Root of All Evil swaps the gin in the Hoskins for bourbon while Fernet and Grand Marnier take on the roles played by the Picon and Cointreau. I like the Hoskins and remember it having a similar texture and richness. The bourbon and Fernet though definitely darken things up a bit in the Root of All Evil.


Root of All Evil - Jeff Grdinich, White Mountain Cider Company
2 oz Bourbon*
3/4 oz Grand Marnier (I usually cut this back to 1/2 oz)
1/2 oz Fernet Branca
1/2 oz Maraschino
2 dashes Orange Bitters
Garnish - Orange Peel

Stir, Strain, Up

*For the bourbon something a little higher than 80 proof is going to fare better against the other ingredients. Old Grand-Dad Bonded is usually my go-to bourbon and that works well here.


Circumstances and ingredients on hand helped facilitate the following Mai Tai variation. There's no curacao because, well, there was no curacao. Rum with a little funk? Check. Orgeat? Check. Lime juice, check...but man, I will be glad when the price comes down on those things. A dollar per? Sheesh. It's summer though, and I try and have at least one or two around. 

This one's not overly sweet. Anise and almonds on the nose from the absinthe and orgeat with hints of Appleton's funk following close behind. Plenty of lime juice here to brighten it up and keep things in an afternoon backyard/beach sort of vein. The citrus here is tempered with agave and orgeat which, in addition to their own flavors combine to add some weight and smooth things out a bit texture-wise. 



2 oz Appleton V/X
1 oz Lime Juice
1/4 oz Orgeat*
1/4 oz Agave Syrup**
Garnish - Lime wheel, 3 dashes Absinthe

Shake and strain over fresh ice.

*Lots of great homemade orgeat recipes out there. For simplicity's sake, this one is tough to beat. If time isn't a factor though this recipe is amazing. I don't make it too often so I usually use the latter. It lasts a long, long while and makes plenty to share.

**Agave syrup here is 3:2 (agave to water). Yes, I realize that is somewhat ridiculous. This is just what I use around the house and while I've tried straight nectar, 1:1 and 2:1 this is the ratio I ended up settling on. On a somewhat, though barely, related note 3:2 is also the ratio I've employed to mix Cynar with Campar. I bottle it and use it all over the place. Sub it for vermouth, or drink it straight, add some soda, or mix it with bourbon/rye, gin, funky rums...etc. I love that stuff. Probably should be another post.


This past weekend was pretty decent weather-wise. I wouldn't say it was warm exactly, but it wasn't cold, there weren't piles of snow on the ground and a fair amount of sunlight managed to break through the clouds. Feeling keen to take what we could get and call it spring, we made a fire in the backyard and had a champagne drink or two. One of them was a tequila and grapefruit concoction which assumed the unlikely moniker of Dr. Soanso. I had been working on some happy hour drinks for work over the last few days and had Dr. Funk on the brain lately (a Dr. worth knowing on warmer days) and once this drink took shape, it seemed to go over alright and I just started calling it Dr. So and so. "What's this?" "Medicine. From Dr. So and So." Lack of sun and fresh air will do that I suppose. 

In the process of mixing this thing up I was reminded of another drink, the Windfall, from a year or so ago when I was at Blue Spoon. The Windfall looks quite similar as it shares tequila, mezcal, grapefruit and cinnamon agave syrup. However, the Windfall is much more direct. Ingredients like grapefruit juice, cinnamon agave syrup and curacao are present but just as accents measuring only a teaspoon or so. The cinnamon syrup and grapefruit play a more prominent role in the Soanso but they're stretched out by the sparkling wine which adds it's own flavor and festive nature.


Dr. Soanso left, Windfall right.

Dr. Soanso left, Windfall right.


Dr. Soanso leads with the grapes and grapefruit. Soft hints of cinnamon and agave follow and linger into the finish. They tie in well to the tequila/mezcal combination which offers a rich, slightly smoky background. The overall effect is refreshing and pleasantly complex. Not too light, not too heavy. 

The Windfall calls to mind drinks in the Old Fashioned vein. Unapologetically spirited. The slight squeeze of grapefruit lightens things a touch while the cinnamon agave rounds things out and contributes background notes of cinnamon spice. Curacao continues to soften but only slightly. It also adds a little bit of orange flavor. I made slight adjustments to the original specs for this one since we did not have access to Pierre Ferrand back then.

Both of these are rich with flavor. The Dr. seems the more festive and sunlit of the two (with clouds on the horizon) while the Windfall wants to be lingered over, contemplating what, if any, fortune the day offered - a gentle nod if present, an accepting shrug if not. Either way, comfort comes on ice. 


Dr. Soanso
1 oz Blanco Tequila
1 oz Mezcal
3/4 oz Grapefruit Juice
3/4 oz Cinnamon Agave Syrup*
Sparkling Wine
Garnish - Grapefruit Twist

Shake first four, strain into highball glass, add ice, sparkling wine, and garnish


2 1/2 oz Reposado Tequila
1/4 oz Cinnamon Agave Syrup*
1 tsp - Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao
1 barspoon Grapefruit Juice
Float - 1/2 oz Mezcal
Garnish - Grapefruit Wheel

Build over ice. 


*Cinnamon Agave Syrup - 1 cup water + 2 cinnamon sticks. Bring to boil, reduce heat to low for 10 minutes. Let cool. Strain. Measure and add equal amount of agave nectar, stirring to dissolve.

Named after the Louisville, KY hotel where this drink originated in 1917, the Seelbach is easy to make, rich, complex and delicious. There are also a lot of bitters going on here, about half a teaspoon each of Angostura and Peychaud's. They work well alongside the bourbon adding depth and in the case of the Angostura, warm spices. Peychaud's isn't to be outdone though and here it helps lift the whole affair up, combining with the champagne and Cointreau to bring hints of bitterness and fruit.

Like a lot of champagne drinks this one works especially well with brunch, the early evening or, well, pretty much anytime. It's got plenty of character but maintains a pleasant lightness. It's bitter, but not so much so that it gets in the way. If you're feeling in the mood for a drink with champagne, but also have bourbon in mind, this one will do the trick nicely.


I took this picture last week. It seemed like the mint was just starting to peek up through the leaves in the garden. Now this stump, and yard surrounding it, are covered with snow again. Not a lot though. And it will probably be gone by tomorrow.

I took this picture last week. It seemed like the mint was just starting to peek up through the leaves in the garden. Now this stump, and yard surrounding it, are covered with snow again. Not a lot though. And it will probably be gone by tomorrow.


Seelbach Cocktail - The Seelbach Hotel, Louisville, KY
1 oz Bourbon, Old Forester specified
1/2 oz Triple Sec, Cointreau if you have it
7 dashes Angostura
7 dashes Peychaud's
5 oz Champagne
Garnish - Orange Twist

Directions are to build in a champagne flute. I usually stir the first four ingredients with ice. Strain, then add the champagne. 

*I've gotten used to this recipe from Ted Haigh's excellent Vintage Spirits & Forgotten Cocktails. Brands and quantities specified above are from that book. He credits Gary and Mardee Regan with getting the hotel's restaurant director to share the recipe. In Regan's Joy of Mixology the quantities differ slightly. The amount of bourbon and champagne are reduced to 3/4 oz and 4 oz respectively.


I was actually feeling in the mood for something with citrus recently and came across this one while looking through Brian Van Flandern's Craft Cocktails. There are plenty of great drinks in this book (and its companion Vintage Cocktails) but half of the time I find myself thumbing through it because the pictures are gorgeous.

This one pairs gin with aquavit so you get a variety of botanical elements making contributions. There are plenty of other flavors involved though. Lime, grapefruit and a hint of grapes keep things light while a rich honey syrup smooths and sweetens. There's a little bit of falernum in the mix as well. Not so much that it takes over but enough to pick out the contributions made by the cloves and ginger. This one also gets a mix of crushed, toasted fennel and salt on the rim. The fennel is a particularly nice touch making an intense aromatic contribution as the glass nears. The impact of the fennel carries into the flavor of the drink as well, tying in nicely to the gin and aquavit while the salt plays off of the citrus elements. This results in a light but rich drink which was a sharp, and welcome, contrast to the icy, gusty lousiness outside.




Gypsy Wedding - Brian Van Flandern, Craft Cocktails, 2013
1 1/2 oz Bombay Dry Gin
3/4 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Krogstad Aquavit
1/2 oz Grapefruit Juice
1/2 oz Acacia Honey Syrup (2:1)
1/4 oz John D. Taylor's Velvet Falernum
6 Green Grapes
Garnish - Toasted Fennel-Salt Rim

Shake, Strain, Up