This one is from the Difford's Guide list of the 30 best drinks since 2000. It contains tequila, Yellow Chartreuse, Jagermeister and a whole egg. It looks kind of crazy, but it's delicious. I don't use Jager that much and I probably should experiment with it more often. For now however, I'm content to stock it even if I only use it for this drink. 


The nose sets things up, displaying a rich weightiness even before the sip. The nutmeg from the garnish is present as well and foreshadows an abundance of more rich flavors. There also seemed to be a slight citrus aroma up front. The sip has a creamy, almost custard-like quality, which along with the nutmeg, triggers thoughts of egg nog. Once the Yellow Chartreuse and Jagermeister show up though it becomes a decidedly more herbal affair. Those two however, aren't overbearing - their quantity and the weight of the drink sees to that. But they do spin this thing in a beguiling and wonderful direction. Two adjectives I did not imagine myself using in a drink with Jagermeister. Here, that tandem is soft, slightly medicinal, rich and warming. The Chartreuse contributes a slight lift, keeping things from getting too settled. Tequila, arms folded and smiling, appears at the end and lingers well into the finish with a look that says 'Glad you guys are having fun.'



Death Flip - Chris Hysted, Black Pearl, Melbourne, Australia 
1 oz Don Julio Blanco
1/2 oz Yellow Chartreuse
1/2 oz Jagermeister
1/2 oz Simple (I use 1:1) 
1 Whole Egg
Garnish - Grated Nutmeg

Dry shake, then with ice, strain into a wine glass (or an old water glass if that's what you use for wine), garnish.


Looks like there are a couple of different specs for the Death Flip. Both with the same attribution. The above recipe comes from an Australian site and is the version I've gotten used to. Difford's says an ounce each for the first three and 1/4 oz of simple (2:1 specified). Both versions are great. The Difford's one results in a more consolidated drink - richer, heavier, darker. The recipe above is a bit lighter comparatively, and gives the Chartreuse and tequila a little more room.


Looking through old drink notebooks and journals is something I enjoy but don't do as often as I should. Because inevitably, I come across things that I remember trying and liking but not making regularly enough to commit to memory. 

This drink is a perfect example. The initial pull when I saw it online was too difficult to resist. Not just because it has Laphroaig and Fernet (surprisingly, I hadn't tried mixing those two together so the combination, curious yet appealing, was met with an internal 'Oh no you didn't!' Though truthfully, I was glad someone did). But beyond that pairing, the name just cracked me up.

I made it, I liked it, I wrote it down and forgot about it. It goes like that sometimes. Now that fall is winding down and Halloween is around the corner there seemed to be little question, once I spied it again, that this was a drink I had neglected for too long. 


Of course, it's a monster. A delicious, smoky, bitter, minty monster. Served at room temp there's no effort made to tame this thing either. Put the contents in a glass, garnish, done. As soon as you lift the glass up you get an idea of what you're in for. Fresh mint from the garnish is there and it's nice but it becomes clear that the Scotch and Fernet have become pals and this is their party. Those that stick around can thank the vermouth for trying to make everyone feel comfortable. Eventually, it doesn't matter, the edges of the individual ingredients begin to soften and it all works out in the glass.


Bernet Frankenstein - Dan Chadwick via Kindred Cocktails
1 1/2 oz Laphroaig Quarter Cask
3/4 oz Fernet Branca
3/4 oz Punt e Mes
Garnish - Mint Leaf

Build in rocks glass


Some friends of mine have an imminent celebration in the works (second baby on the way). Drinks have been off the list of indulgences (for one of them, at least) for a while. They've been in the midst of a rather intense kitchen overhaul and I believe may have undertaken the additional task of painting several other rooms in their house as well. Crazy. Soon, they will want to raise a glass. And I didn't want them to work too hard for that.

Quantities below make enough for an extra serving. You know, just to make sure everything came out alright.

Quantities below make enough for an extra serving. You know, just to make sure everything came out alright.

Sun in the Corners is gin, Cocchi Americano and Swedish punsch. Gin comes through nicely with juniper, citrus and spice. Then the Cocchi - soft, rich, floral, slightly bitter which sets up an another wave of flavors from the Swedish punsch. Gin drives this drink but there are also hints of tea, lemon, orange, flowers, brown sugar and rum. Dark rum (Lemon Hart) and funky rum (Batavia Arrack). When I first started working on this I tried it with various rums as the base spirit. Clement Premiere Canne was solid but not quite what I was looking for. Once gin became the backbone however, things fell in line quickly.


Sun in the Corners - enough to fill a 750 ml bottle
420 ml Gin (I used Whitley Neill)
140 ml Cocchi Americano
140 ml Swedish Punsch*
140 ml Water
5 Orange Peels

Add liquid ingredients to a large pitcher. Express oils from orange peels into the pitcher and drop them in there too. Stir briefly. Bottle and refrigerate until circumstances align in such a way that you can pour a few ounces in a glass, sit down and relax.


For a single serving divide by 7 and drop the water since you won't be chilling the drink in advance.

For the Swedish punsch I usually use this recipe from Erik Ellestad. It's a scaled back version of a previous one he came up with and the steps are the same (though I do filter the finished product and switch up the rums sometimes). If Kronan was available up here I'd probably just buy that. It's delicious and you don't have to make it. This version though is just as good and the Batavia Arrack you'll need is worth having around if for no other reason than to make Regent's Punch. There are other reasons of course, but Regent's Punch...well, that is in a class by itself.

Similar Drinks - Since I had Swedish punsch on the brain I started looking through old notebooks for other drinks. Turns out, if you sub dry vermouth for the Cocchi, pull back on the gin and lean more heavily on the Swedish punsch you have a Suedoise. Leave the Cocchi in (Lillet specified) and make rum the base (the initial starting point for this whole thing) and you have a Happy Daze.

One more totally random side note - the labels on Espolon tequila bottles peel off without much effort or subsequent scrubbing of residue. Grab a corner, peel, and you're done. Which can be a handy thing when bottling a gift.


I don't have a ton to say about this one except that it's delicious and after I tried it I'd wished I kept the bottles on the counter for a second round. The California Palace was another pleasant surprise from the Anvil 100 (previously discussed here). If you like herbal-y gin drinks, this one doesn't disappoint. It falls somewhere between the Martinez and the Alaska. Drier and more herbal than the former, more stretched out and relaxed than the latter.



I went with Plymouth here because I wanted the Chartreuse to have plenty of space. Which it did. The gin is there though, contributing some citrus notes and softly anchoring things. Maraschino adds it's distinctive sweetness and you can discern it but it seems content here to nestle in among the herbal qualities of the other three ingredients. Vermouth offsets some of the sweetness and keeps the texture - silky, rich, from getting too out of control. Also, there's an intensely warming alcohol heat present that is assertive even as the overall effect of the drink is round and smooth. Man, does that Chartreuse punch through nicely though.



California Palace - not sure of the origin
40 ml Gin
20 ml Green Chartreuse
20 ml Dry Vermouth
10 ml Maraschino
Garnish - Lime Twist

Stir, strain, up


This one's in milliliters because I pulled the recipe from here and didn't feel like messing with it. If you don't have metric jiggers though, or the patience to divide everything by 5 and use teaspoons (who does?) 1 1/2, 3/4, 3/4, -1/2 oz will get you close enough.



I suppose the title of this one conveys the bulk of the purpose here. I'm a fan of vinegar. There's a lot of information out there about the healthful benefits vinegar can have on the body. Which is great, especially since it tastes good and there's a ton of things you can do with it. 

I also think there are nights when a shot of vinegar mixed with some water can do wonders for the following morning. If you had too much to drink and there's a hangover on the horizon this isn't going to change that. But if it's getting late and you feel like a minor version of such a thing could be in store...reach for the vinegar (again, provided you like the taste of it). 

I use Bragg's Cider Vinegar. It's awesome and usually there's no substitute. I say usually only because it's apple season now and local orchards that sell cider will often sell homemade unpasteurized vinegar too. 

I realize the drink below has alcohol in it which kind of contradicts the whole point of this post. Both of the ingredients however are pretty low in alcohol content. I see this one more as a last-drink-of-the-evening which also manages to sneak in something a little bit healthy.




Tomorrow's Little Helper
1 1/2 oz Amaro Montenegro
3/4 oz Cynar
3/4 oz Bragg's Cider Vinegar

Build over ice


For what it's worth I'm a bit behind regarding the bulk of the tech world. I'd give examples but they're likely to come across as tedious and self-indulgent. Which is a combination I'd like to avoid (though I freely admit that posting stuff on a blog situates those adjectives within arm's reach).

Anyway, for whatever reason, when going back and trying to clean up some previous posts I noticed two were missing from last summer. It's probably my fault and I'd kick myself if I knew how I did it. But I don't, they're just gone, that's all.

They concerned two drinks and this intro is an effort to dodge (re)writing a proper post on them. I found the pictures though, they're below along with the recipes. One is for the Ramos which is a pain-in-the-ass but still worth knowing and making occasionally because it's a classic that's enjoyable as all get out.

And, without making too much of an aside, I think sometimes there are factors beyond flavor that can influence the appreciation of a drink. Fleeting, intangible things like mood, weather, company, the music that happens to be playing, etc. Or, they may be more specific like ice, glassware, or a new/unknown ingredient. The Ramos, however, has other factors at play - time and effort. It's part of the deal with this one. Whether you order it or make it for yourself, knowledge of the labor involved is a consideration. Once it's in front of you though...well, then it's all pleasure. 

The second drink is one I made called Smoke and Bitters. Previously, it was posted as Amari e Fumar but I've gotten used to the translated title. I have a lot of favorite things when it comes to drink ingredients, this one has four of them. The drink lives up to its name. If those qualities appeal to you, give it a spin.

Also, on a totally unrelated note...let's say you get in from a busy night at work sometime in the wee hours of the morning and decide to collect your thoughts with a nightcap before retiring to bed. Two sips in you rethink that decision and go to bed anyway. If all of that happens and the following day you spy the remainder of the drink while enjoying an extra cup of coffee and, for no real reason other than curiosity, you add one to the's possible that, depending on the nightcap, you'll find yourself with a warm and tasty beverage. That drink follows as well.


Ramos Gin Fizzes

Ramos Gin Fizzes

Smoke and Bitters

Smoke and Bitters

The Wind Up

The Wind Up


Ramos Gin Fizz - Henry C. Ramos, New Orleans, late 1800s
2 oz Gin
1 oz Heavy Cream
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Simple Syrup 
1/2 Egg White
4-6 drops Orange Blossom Water
Soda Water

Dry shake all but soda, then add ice and shake as long as you can/feel like it. Pour a couple ounces of soda into a Collins glass and double strain the drink on top of it. Add some more soda to the mixing tin that doesn't have all of the spent ice in it and use that to top off the drink.

Purists will say 12 minutes for the shake. I've tried all sorts of times and haven't noticed a big difference between 8-12. That can still be a bear though. Usually, I land somewhere between 2 and 4 minutes. Adding the soda to the serving glass before straining is a trick I picked up from Fred Yarm's book Drink & Tell. Some recipes include (controversially) a couple of drops of vanilla claiming that it gives the drink a mysterious quality. Give it a shot sometime. It's a nice, subtle twist.


Smoke and Bitters
1 oz Tequila, silver
1 oz Cynar
1/2 oz Mezcal (I usually use Del Maguey Vida)
1/2 oz Fernet
Garnish - Grapefruit Twist

Stir, strain, up


The Wind Up
1 oz Cynar
1/4 oz Green Chartreuse
1/4 oz Barrel Proof Bourbon

Heat the first three and add to hot coffee. 

I saw this technique for heating ingredients to be used in toddies a few years ago and have used it ever since. You put hot water in the small portion of a shaker and the ingredients to be warmed in the larger one. Rest the large one on top of the water in the small one for a couple of minutes while you prep the rest of the drink/work on something else, stirring it occasionally.  

This is basically The Wind Down scaled back and supplemented with coffee. When I make it I usually take the Wind Down's ratio, add zeroes and use those numbers in milliliters. 4:1:1 becomes 40, 10, 10. The result, prior to coffee is 60 ml, which is about 2 oz. That's only a 1/2 oz more than the total listed above...but it's good, so I like that extra 1/2 oz. I know, I probably should have just written it in milliliters above.


also - I watched the Wha Happened? clip while putting this together. Still cracks me up.

Amanda keeps her own journal of drink recipes. I add to it every now and then. Before I started bartending I had, over the years, set up a decent enough home bar and enjoyed making drinks from various books, conversations, blogs, forums, etc... Amanda enjoyed the end results but was happy to not be involved in the actual drink-making. That's at least partially on me for co-opting a corner of the kitchen and cramming it with more barware than an average person would feel comfortable around. Once this sort of thing became a job however, there were nights when I wasn't around to make our evening beverages. On those nights, if she wanted a drink, she was on her own. 

The journal she has is comprised of three ingredient cocktails. Three was the goal at least. Bitters, while important, don't count toward the total. They are always on the counter and a quick dash or two takes almost no time. Garnishes don't count either and I suspect may often be overlooked entirely. And sometimes, in a drink like a Tom Collins, soda doesn't get counted since topping a drink off isn't too labor intensive. So I don't know, calling these 'three ingredient drinks' now seems misleading, maybe it should be four ingredients, occasionally maybe five. Never more know what, let's just say a 'flexible three' and call it good.

It's not rocket science, making drinks, though sometimes recipes can make it seem like a bit of a hassle. The intent of the journal was to gather recipes that a) Amanda liked and b) could be made with a minimal amount of fuss. As far as I can tell, now having surveyed our kitchen in the middle of the night many times, the barware she requires usually involves some sort of glass and one of those small measuring cups that holds four ounces and has lines for teaspoons and tablespoons. Sometimes there's a jar which, I assume, had been used for stirring. I've never seen a strainer in the dish rack so I don't know what happens there. 

Recently, we'd been talking about her journal and I asked her for more specifics on her drink-making routine. I can't believe we haven't had this conversation before. Turns out, more often than not, she mixes in the drinking glass (teacup, rocks, jar, etc), stirs with a knife and employs what I'm going to call a 'reverse strain' by removing the ice from the drink with a slotted spoon. Which, in a shortest-distance-between-two-points (that doesn't involve just tipping a bottle over a glass) way, I kind of love. Effective, practical and very little clean up involved. For shaken drinks it's the jar that's called upon. The lid goes on for shaking, off for drinking. No ice removal involved for those drinks. 

Anyway, first up is the Berlioni from the PDT book. A delicious riff on the Negroni.



Gin, Cynar and dry vermouth...all good things. Gin runs the show, up front with plenty of juniper, eventually making room for additional herbs and a pleasant bitterness from the Cynar and dry vermouth. 

A - "...awesome. Quintessentially what I'm looking for in a drink. No secret ingredients." And as I suspected, "I usually skip the garnish, but it is nice."


Berlioni - Goncalo de Souza, Berlin
1 1/2 oz Tanqueray
3/4 oz Cynar
1/2 oz Noilly Pratt Dry Vermouth
Garnish - Orange Twist

Stir, strain over fresh ice 


I live outside of town. It's about a half hour drive to Portland. Which means I'm in the car a lot. Not as much as some people, I know. Recently, I had been thinking about the Bloody Mary on the drive into town. While I've ordered the drink plenty of times in my life I don't think I would consider it a favorite. It's a breakfast drink I associate with...not feeling so great. And to that end it functions perfectly.

This eventually led me to thinking about Alka-Seltzer and how those tablets look when they dissolve in a short glass of water. In both cases, liquid endeavors to mend. I wanted to replace the contents of that Alka-Seltzer package with a Bloody Mary. To be able to tear it open, shake its contents into a glass and watch it fizz up. Then drink it like a traditional fizz. Which is to say quickly.

This all reminded me of a drink by Tony Conigliaro called 'The Morning After the Night Before'. It's in his book The Cocktail Lab and involves adding tablets of sodium bicarbonate to a drink to make it fizz with the similar goal of mitigating the effects of the previous evening. 

Instead of adding sodium bicarbonate to a drink though I wanted to get the key flavors of a drink, in this case the Bloody Mary, in powder form - then make tablets out of that, maybe incorporating some baking soda to get it to fizz. I had no idea if the drink would actually taste good. It seemed like it might. Or it might be a messy disaster. Figuring it out though had its own appeal so I carried on with it.

Tomato powder seemed to be the best place to start. We have a food dehydrator and an old coffee grinder that we use for spices so making the actual powder wouldn't be too difficult. But to what extent would it dissolve in the drink? Would it be gross? The body and texture of the drink would obviously be completely different, would it still work? How best to dry horseradish? And what about the Wocestershire?

First things first. Tomatoes.



Thank you Goodwill. My wife purchased this dehydrator a year or so ago because I had been wanting one for something. I can't even remember what. Jerky probably. But it sat in the basement until a couple of weeks ago when it became an instrumental piece of this whole puzzle. 

I've never used a dehydrator before. That's why those tomato slices are so thick. The first round of dried tomatoes were sliced much thinner. But they became paper thin and were difficult to remove from the trays. The ones pictured above are too thick and took almost two days to dry. Next time I will split the difference. 



Four trays of thickly sliced tomatoes equals the amount of dried tomatoes pictured above. I have no idea what the percentage is of water in a tomato but it's got to be pretty high. If I had really been thinking ahead I would have put them on a scale before and after. But I didn't. Maybe next time. 



Aside from the tomato powder I knew there would need to be some mustard powder, cayenne, horseradish and Worcestershire involved. The last two were tricky. Until I spied Wocestershire pepper with the spices in the grocery store. I was going to mess around with msg and bouillon powder but not anymore! I don't know why wasabi didn't occur to me sooner as a horseradish substitute. It's called Japanese horseradish for crying out loud. Are they the same? No. Are they close enough for the purpose at hand? Heck yeah!

After a few test batches I settled on some amounts for the dry stuff, mixed it up and then ran it all through the spice grinder to get it as fine as possible. At this point I figured I would add enough sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) to make it fizz when the powder was added to water and vodka. I thought I'd be able to go back and adjust some of the other ingredients to offset any negative flavors associated with the baking soda. That turned out to be too tall an order. To get water and vodka to fizz required the addition of more baking soda than minor adjustments to the other ingredients could accommodate. 

Eventually, surrounded by all of these powder experiments, I realized that if you dump a spoonful of it, without baking soda, into some carbonated water...bammo! You got yourself a fizz going! Instead of trying to fizz up water and vodka with the powder I could drop the baking soda, carbonate the liquids and add the powder to get the fizzing effect while the powder dissolves. 

Now, on to the tablets. After several failed attempts at adding things to get the powder formed into discs I decided to leave it alone for a few days and pursue beverages I already knew I was fond of. I don't know why I didn't pick up on this earlier but when I came back to the powder I noticed how well it held the shape of the jar it was stored in if I turned the jar over or shook it lightly. I'm guessing this was due to residual moisture in the tomato powder. Maybe it didn't need anything added to it to hold its shape.

I began pressing the powder into things like bottle caps and jiggers and whatnot and, once removed, it managed to maintain the shape of the various containers it had been pressed into. I found a small plastic measuring cup that turned out to be ideal. This measuring cup had the added bonus of being just bigger than a muddler which made pressing it into large-ish tablets a cinch.



I ended up cutting the measuring cup off at 3 tsp so that I didn't have to keep picking it up to see how much powder was in there. Getting the tablets out requires a clumsy type of finesse. You've got to rap the thing upside down on a flat surface so that the outer edge makes contact at the same time while also tapping the middle of it. It needs to release all at once or it will fall apart. Its not complicated but it felt that way the first 6-8 times. The tablets are fragile, but not so much so that you can't lift them up and move them around. I think cutting the cup down also helped minimize the casualty rate since the tablets had less distance to fall once they released. 

Time to get on with it then.


Stacking wood can wait. It's breakfast time.

Stacking wood can wait. It's breakfast time.


It worked. It tastes like a Bloody Mary that's also a fizz. It's on the spicy side but the flavors are all there. This isn't one you're going to want to linger over. The fun is in the fizz and you'll want to drink it while it's still somewhat effervescent. 

Thinks I'd do differently:
- Cut the wasabi powder back just a bit next time.
- Cut measuring cup down to 2 tsp instead of 3. The drink doesn't need quite as much powder.
- Cut tomato slices thinner. 
- I tried some citric acid in test batches to give it a little zip and acidity but never could make that ingredient fit in with the rest. I have some lemon confit in the works and I may, at some point, dehydrate some of the wedges and mix them in with the other ingredients. 


Bloody Mary Fizz
5 oz Carbonated Water/Vodka (mixed 2:1 - I made enough for a few using a sodastream)
3 tsp Bloody Mary Powder* pressed into a disc (or not, the result will be the same)

Add tablet to the water/vodka. Poke with a spoon to break up and stir briefly.

*Bloody Mary Powder
5 tsp Tomato Powder
1 1/2 tsp Mustard Powder
1 tsp Wasabi Powder
1/2 tsp Wocestershire Pepper Powder
1/8 tsp Cayenne
1/16 tsp Celery Salt


Here's one from Robert Simonson's The Old Fashioned, which, if you like Old Fashioneds, is a book worth picking up. It's divided into two sections. The first one covers the history of the drink and includes background on a variety of things pertaining to the Old Fashioned. The role of the Whiskey Cocktail is discussed here, how it evolved and how the drinking public helped shape a new name (Old Fashioned) for it when the confusion and novelty of various 'improvements' got in the way of what was initially a simple but beguiling affair - whiskey, bitters, sugar and a splash of water.

There's a chapter on 'The Fruit Wars' which addresses the controversial relationship fruit has had with the drink. The drink has had other adornments too - prior to prohibition the drink was usually served with a small spoon (possibly to get at any undissolved sugar). And once a chunk of ice became involved some saloons went further, cutting the ice into diamonds or having spheres of ice sized just right for the serving glass. Sound familiar?

The second section is all recipes. The book is especially good at accommodating those who, like me, are inclined to tackle both sections at once. Reading about the history of a drink, with that drink in hand, is an enjoyable experience. Though I'm sure it will come as no surprise that too much time spent in the second section may come at the expense of the first. No matter. Reading and mixing from this book is a worthwhile endeavor regardless of how you approach it. 

One more note on the book's layout. The portion that's devoted to recipes is divided into three sections: Old School, Standard Variations, and Modern Classics. There are so many good recipes in each of those sections. The Haunted House is one but really, if you're looking for a boozy, contemplative, peace-restoring beverage, the book has you covered.



The Haunted House has rye, rum, Swedish punsch, ginger and Angostura. On paper it looks pretty far removed from your standard whiskey, sugar and bitters style of Old Fashioned. And it is, but such is the appeal of the 'Modern Variations' section. Purists can find plenty of refuge in the 'Old School' recipes. In the subsequent sections however, the spirit-driven structure of the drink is played with a bit more freely.

Here, the base is split between two spirits - rye and rum. You get some Jamaican rum flavor from Appleton V/X and additional proof from the rye. Then things get interesting. Swedish punsch brings more rum, spice and hints of lemon along with its signature, singular funk courtesy of Batavia Arrack, the Indonesian sugarcane and red rice spirit central to the production of Swedish punsch. Add a spicy kick from the ginger and things are moving right along. Rich and exotic with plenty of flavor, some spice and a decent amount of heat.  


The Haunted House - Jeremy Oertel, Donna, Brooklyn
1 oz Appleton V/X
1 oz Rittenhouse Rye
1/2 oz Kronan Swedish Punsch
1/4 oz Ginger Syrup*
2 dashes Angostura
Garnish - Orange Peel

Stir, strain over fresh ice in an Old Fashioned glass.

*Ginger Syrup
1 cup Sugar
1 cup Water
1 knob (2 inch) Fresh Ginger, sliced into coins

Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Once it boils remove from heat, let cool and strain. 

I tend to have the ginger syrup discussed here on hand. It's basically blending, then straining equal parts sugar, boiling water and ginger. When making The Haunted House with that syrup I usually cut the amount specified in half.


side note - the drink is named after a band that the owner of Donna was in.


This post could just as easily have been titled 'Maybe I've been making this drink wrong for years'.

I recently picked up Mark Spivak's Iconic Spirits. I haven't had the chance to read it yet, unless you count looking through the recipes as reading (which would greatly increase the amount of books I've read). In this book, each chapter deals with a spirit and concludes with a handful of drinks which feature that spirit. The Seelbach follows the section on bourbon.

I've long been a fan of the Seelbach. There aren't a ton of Champagne and bourbon cocktails out there and that one really hits the mark. I first came across the Seelbach in Ted Haigh's excellent Vintage Spirits & Forgotten Cocktails. Ingredients-wise the drink is pretty simple: bourbon, Cointreau, bitters and Champagne. The bitters in that recipe however, are not deployed subtly. Seven dashes each of Angostura and Peychaud's. This allows them to do more than just tie things together and play off of existing flavors. At seven dashes a piece they become a legitimate and significant flavor*.

And that's not a bad thing. However, this bit from Spivak's introduction to the drink piqued my curiosity:

"There are many different recipes for the famous Seelbach cocktail. The following version was described to me by Julie DeFriend, maitre d' and sommelier at the Oakroom at the Seelbach. It is her understanding of the way the cocktail was originally served."

A recipe follows which includes the usual suspects but for the bitters seven drops, not dashes, of Angostura and Peychaud's are called for. That is a significant difference. Also worth noting is the amount of bourbon in this recipe. Here we get a full 2 oz. Most recipes out there call for 3/4 oz or 1 oz. 

Haigh's recipe also came from an employee at the Seelbach, so the provenance of both versions is similar.

Experiments were definitely in order.



Dashes on the left, drops on the right.

Dashes on the left, drops on the right.


Tasting notes - The warm spices of Angostura jump to the front of the version using dashes and inform the bulk of the drink's flavor from beginning to end. I used Old Grand-Dad bonded for the bourbon and that peaks through adding its own spice and just a little bit of heat. Peychaud's brightens and adds some zippy, fruity notes while tying things in with the sparkling wine.

The one made with bitters by the drop was a decidedly more bourbon-heavy affair. Not surprising since it has double the bourbon and less than a seventh of the bitters of the other version. The bitters are certainly present in this one though, they inform the flavor and function as accents. The Cointreau comes through a bit more in this one as well.

I like them both and the contrast between the two is interesting. There's a temptation to say the dashes version is heavier. It does have a weight to it and is heavily influenced by the Angostura. The amount of bourbon in the drops version though contributes its own weight and heat and spice and while it's lighter on the tongue it has, as David Embury would say, 'a shorter reaction time.'

I don't know which version is the most authentic. Cases could probably be made for both. They're quite similar and these things have a tendency to change over time. I'm used to the one with the dashes and it's difficult to deny the comforting familiarity that version affords. However, I do like the more prominent role bourbon plays using the recipe with drops and that will probably be the version I turn to for a while. Until the weather gets colder at least. Which I'm not ready to think about yet. 


The Seelbach Cocktail - Seelbach Hotel, Louisville, KY

from Vintage Spirits & Forgotten Cocktails, Ted Haigh
1 oz Bourbon
1/2 oz Cointreau
7 dashes Angostura
7 dashes Peychaud's
5 oz Champagne
Garnish - Orange Twist


from Iconic Spirits, Mark Spivak
2 oz Bourbon
1/2 oz Cointreau
7 drops Angostura
7 drops Peychaud's
4 oz Champagne
Garnish - none (I added the orange peel out of habit)


Both versions are built in a Champagne flute.


*I was curious what seven dashes actually measured out to since that was a point where the recipes diverged. Seven Angostura dashes came out to just over 1/2 teaspoon, Peychaud's was almost a full teaspoon. Bottle volume can affect the dash amount but the actual dasher tops on these two are different and Peychaud's just dashes heavier. In the picture on the left you basically have a quarter ounce of bitters (2:1 favoring Peychaud's). The bitters in the one on the right, though less, are distributed equally. Since I was already getting nerdy I measured the drops too - seven drops was just about 1/2 ml, or 1/10 tsp.