I like a good Martinez. That's not much of a secret, at least around my house. While there are a lot of great drinks in the world this is one of the ones that I continue to come back to. Again and again. Switch up the gin or vermouth, adjust the ratio, try different bitters, it doesn't matter, this one consistently hits the mark.

To make one you will need gin (old tom if possible), sweet vermouth, maraschino and bitters. Historically, its origin situates it between two of the most iconic drinks out there: the Manhattan and the Martini. It's sweet but not too sweet, herbal, rich, smooth and luxurious. It's also fairly accommodating to tweaks and adjustments (which often involve the role played by vermouth).

Then of course, there's fernet. Which doesn't really need an introduction. It doesn't even need friends but don't tell that to tasty drinks like the Toronto, Bonsoni, DLB, Industry Sour, Fanciulli, etc...Below, there's a Martinez, then a couple of drinks that will likely have some appeal if you have a soft spot for gin, sweet vermouth and fernet.

First up is the Hanky Panky*, which takes the Martinez and subs fernet for the maraschino, then there's the Don't Give Up the Ship which tweaks the Hanky Panky's ratios and adds some curacao. In my head, the connection between these three is a six degrees of separation thing. Except instead of six it's three and instead of actors it's booze. But then I started wondering - does that make Kevin Bacon a Martinez? It does for the purpose at hand I suppose. Hmm, a Benton's Old Fashioned seems the more obvious choice, or perhaps a Presbyterian (what denomination was that anti-dancing preacher?), but then again...hold on, that will have to be a post for another time.





Just your basic Martinez. Which is to say, an incredibly delicious drink. I usually use old tom for the gin but in the interest of being thorough I mixed up a version with London dry as well. Just to make sure. Both were great, the differences being what you'd expect depending on the gin used. Hayman's was softer, rounder and sweeter while Beefeater was sharper with substantially more juniper. When I manage to have Ransom on hand I can guarantee you that the Martinez will play a significant role in its inevitable depletion. That gin is fantastic in this drink.

Hanky Panky

Hanky Panky

Take your soft and round Martinez, replace the bitters and the sweet, funky maraschino with fernet and the result is a darker, more mysterious drink. While the fernet here is not difficult to pick out (is it ever?) the quantity, 1/4 oz, allows it to support and enhance the gin/vermouth combination, not redirect it.

Don't Give Up the Ship

Don't Give Up the Ship

So good. Cointreau and fernet are doing something really nice here. More than oranges and herbs. Cointreau adds an edge and a slight bite as fernet jumps in with an 'Oh yeah? How about this!' Rich and bitter flavors unfold while gin guides the whole affair with its proof and juniper-y goodness. I do love this drink.


Martinez - Jerry Thomas, Bartender's Guide, 1887
1 1/2 oz Old Tom Gin
1 1/2 oz Sweet Vermouth
1/4 oz Maraschino
2 dashes Boker's (sub Angostura, orange bitters are also nice)
Garnish - Lemon Twist

Stir, strain, up


Hanky Panky - Ada Coleman, Savoy, early 20th century
1 1/2 oz Gin, London Dry
1 1/2 oz Sweet Vermouth
1/4 oz Fernet
Garnish - Orange Twist

Stir, strain, up

- Old tom may have been used and in fact makes a fine drink.


Don't Give Up the Ship - Crosby Gaige, Cocktail Guide and Ladies Companion, 1941
1 1/2 oz Gin, London Dry
1/2 oz Sweet Vermouth
1/2 oz Cointreau
1/2 oz Fernet
1 dash Orange Bitters
Garnish - Orange Peel

Stir, strain, up

- There are other specs around for this drink but I happily defer to the rigorous scientific experiments done here. Since reading that post (and many others on that blog) I have left this drink alone. I make it and I enjoy it.


*Bonus track. The Hanky Panky is a great drink and I realize that 100 years ago a statement like "By Jove! That is the real hanky panky!" probably wasn't uncommon. It's hard to say it now though without a chuckle. Which, at this point, for me at least, is part of the drink's charm. However, in that spirit, and in the spirit of riffs and laughs and late night drink-fueled inspiration I offer the:

Straight Face
1 1/2 oz Mezcal, Vida
1 1/2 oz Sweet Vermouth, Cocchi
1/4 oz Fernet
Garnish - Lemon Twist

Stir, strain, up


Recently, I purchased Tony Conigliaro's book 69 Colebrooke Row. It celebrates the fifth anniversary of his unnamed London bar located at that address. Like Conigliaro's previous book, Drinks (titled The Cocktail Lab in the US), pleasure here is less likely to be derived from replicating the drinks (few home bars, or even professional ones, will have the equipment needed to make the various ingredients listed in the back) than from seeing what someone can do when their kitchen and lab acumen aligns with their interest in mixed drinks.

The book's introduction, by David Wondrich, evaluates the bar in the context of how the world's great cities are both physical places (the way things are) and heroic ones (the way we imagine things are). Our ideas of London make it "one of the great mental cities" and we romanticize a version full of interesting people, places...and bars. The thing is, Wondrich explains, 69 Colebrooke Row exists in both realms. 

Licorice Whiskey Sour

Licorice Whiskey Sour

This book, at times, can read like a screenplay, a short story, a postcard, or notes taken from a botany class. The drinks are intense, thoughtful, calculated and ambitious and while there are numerous ones featured, care is also taken to illuminate the atmosphere of the bar itself.

Throughout the book there is a compelling notion at play - that a particular moment or experience has meaningful contextual elements. The development of ingredients in the bar's lab (not just a kitchen, a full-on lab) and the way they get assembled when creating a drink is often an effort to channel those elements. If an experience can be triggered viscerally by certain aromas and flavors then menu items at the bar frequently aim to incorporate those qualities and allow the contents of a glass to function as a similar catalyst. The book nods to these elements with references to film noir, mystery, music, memories, smells, sounds, sights, etc. 

Recipes get a brief explanation of the factors involved in each drink's creation - the inspiration, why it works, what it's seeking to achieve. These notes often accompany individual ingredients as well. Those bits of information, often explaining the groundwork of a drink, are fascinating. A drink's journey here involves more than carefully selecting bottles and attempting to arrange or supplement their contents in a way that teases out some curious or welcome or unanticipated harmony. At this bar, those cues embedded in the details of a moment often facilitate the creation of new ingredients. Those products then enable a drink to conjure things like the scent of a barbershop and the invigorating sensation of a fresh cut and shave, bees buzzing between flowers, the heady perfume worn by women of an earlier era, or the patrons of a warm Spanish bar entranced by the movements of a flamenco dancer.

I don't have a sous vide machine so I used a small picnic cooler to approximate the hot water bath necessary to make the Rose Negroni. It held the temperature (52°C/126°F) fine for the 20 minutes specified in the recipe.

I don't have a sous vide machine so I used a small picnic cooler to approximate the hot water bath necessary to make the Rose Negroni. It held the temperature (52°C/126°F) fine for the 20 minutes specified in the recipe.

Rose Negroni

Rose Negroni

Conigliaro says the drinks at 69 Colebrooke Row were designed to tell stories. The middle section of the book takes that concept a step further. The font, the pictures, even the paper's appearance all change. Here, drinks are introduced with a snapshot of typewritten text heavily inspired by pulp magazines ("She's smart. She's loaded with sin. She's got him all fired up.") The corresponding photos are staged in a way that evoke qualities referenced in the text while the story itself ties into the flavors involved. It's an interesting approach to describing a drink and reading it is a blast. A glimpse into the thoughts of a man as he walks through the woods surrounded by trees, with moss and mushrooms underfoot is part of the story accompanying the Woodland Martini. Aspects of that environment get channeled into the drink (dried shitake, stripped pine bark, leaf smoke, etc) and manipulated in an effort to tap into the feeling of venturing deep into a forest. 

There are several things I enjoy about this book. I like reading what the regulars, including some of the musicians that play there, have to say about the bar. The photographs are beautiful and so are the illustrations. There are plenty of recipes and even the ones for ingredients I may never make are fun to look through. I also find it appealing that those ingredients, as complicated as they are, aren't designed to focus a patron's attention on the lab work. While that is, to me, a captivating component, it's not something the customer needs to reconcile themselves with if all they want is to relax and unwind with a tasty cocktail in hand. It's seems unlikely that the lab even gets brought up unless the customer's interest in such matters becomes apparent. At that point, then, it's on, because the work done there, service prep basically, is shared by the bartenders. The lab itself might be separate from the bar but not the knowledge of what's going on there. 


Army and Navy. One of the classics featured in the book.

Army and Navy. One of the classics featured in the book.

Ultimately, the book is a collection of drinks offered at the bar over the last five years. Through their description the process of how those drinks were developed also comes into focus. There is a certain element of theater engendered by the bar and the book reflects that as well. I haven't been there so I can't say for sure, but I feel like it also manages to illuminate the bar's vibe, the bartender/customer interactions, the music and the way those things shift throughout the night. I don't mind that I can't make most of the drinks. I'm glad someone is because they look awesome. 

Bars are more than the drink someone puts in front of you. They're specific, insular environments. When they resonate with people they stand a better chance of succeeding and taking on a life of their own. Here, in addition to those drinks, Conigliaro provides a lot of the intangible stuff swirling about his bar's interior. Apparently, 69 Colebrooke Row is tucked away on a side street and, in my own imagined world, it's one heck of a neighborhood bar.



Licorice Whiskey Sour - Tony Conigliaro, 69 Colebrooke Row, London
50 ml Whiskey
25 ml Lemon Juice
25 ml Egg White
15 ml Liquorice Syrup*
3 dashes Angostura
Garnish - Ground Licorice

Dry shake, then with ice. Strain, up.

*Licorice Syrup 
40 g Licorice Powder
500 ml Cold Water
750 g Caster Sugar

Mix licorice powder and water in saucepan. Add sugar and apply heat gently until sugar dissolves (10 min). Bottle and store in a cool, dry place.

notes: The nose is full of licorice, lemon and whiskey (I used bourbon). A tasty version of a whisky sour with intriguing earthiness. The licorice becomes more prominent on the finish and lingers pleasantly on the tongue long after traces of the other ingredients have vanished.


Rose Negroni - Tony Conigliaro, 69 Colebrooke Row, London
60 ml Rose Negroni Blend*
Garnish - Rose Petal

Stir, strain, rocks.

*Rose Negroni Blend
230 ml Gin
230 ml Campari
230 ml Sweet Vermouth 
23 g Pink Peppercorns
11.5 g Dried Rose Petals
2.5 g Rose Water

Vacuum seal all ingredients and cook sous vide at 52 degrees Celsius for 20 minutes. Remove, let cool, bottle and refrigerate. 

notes: Bright and lightly floral. Applying the ingredients to heat softens the edges and allows things to thoroughly integrate. Pink peppercorns aren't something I've used before so I was unsure what to expect. Not at all biting or hot the spice they offer seemed vibrant and floral which tied in well with the vermouth and rose petals/water.


Army and Navy - classic
50 ml Gin
25 ml Lemon Juice
15 ml Orgeat*

Shake, strain, up.

1 kg Blanched Almonds
1.6 l Water
10 ml Orange Blossom Water
1.4 kg Caster Sugar

*Blend almonds to a fine powder using a Thermomix (I'll probably never own one but it sure looks incredible). Combine all but sugar and let stand for 2 hours. Fine strain. Put liquid in a saucepan over low heat, gradually add sugar stirring to dissolve. Bottle and refrigerate. 

notes: A very nice gin sour with orgeat standing in for the sweetener and adding enough nuttiness spin things in an interesting direction but not so much that it takes over. Citrusy, clean and bright with subtle floral notes from the orange blossom water. The orgeat I used is from this recipe. It's delicious and I had plenty on hand.



The 69 Colebrooke Row book is available here.


My friend Ron brought this drink to my attention. He sent me a text one night with the recipe. Equal parts Cynar, Campari, Fernet, pinch of salt and a grapefruit twist? Come on, that's just not even fair. Since then it's become a staple around the house and the sort of thing I find myself making when I can't figure out exactly what I want.

It turns out that the Bottecchia is in Gaz Regan's Negroni book, previously discussed here. I am taking the fact that I missed this drink the first time through as a cue to revisit the recipe section. I remember that book being full of great looking drinks.

The Bottecchia was created by Kevin Burke and riffs on the Negroni by subbing Fernet for gin (!) and Cynar for the sweet vermouth. Add a pinch of salt and twist a grapefruit peel across the top and you're in business. In the notes accompanying the drink Burke explains the name, "We named the drink after Ottavio Bottecchia, a young professional cyclist who won the Tour de France in 1924 and wore the yellow jersey for the entire race (15 consecutive days). His life was cut short when he was found dead in 1927 of unknown causes. He was a known socialist and his politics put him in unpopular company."




There's grapefruit on the nose and that follows through on the sip. This one is nice, dark, and rich. The bitter trifecta gets tamed a bit by the salt. It's still bitter but the salt does manage to tone that element down allowing the darker qualities of the Fernet and Cynar to really come through and drive this thing. This drink, like the Negroni, is incredibly malleable. It's great on it's own but I've also thrown whiskey, gin, mezcal and Jamaican rum into the mix (on separate occasions) and the results have always been gratifying.


Bottecchia - Kevin Burke, Colt & Gray, Denver, CO
1 oz Fernet
1 oz Cynar
1 oz Campari
1 small pinch kosher salt
Grapefruit Twist - express and discard

Stir without ice to dissolve salt, then with ice. Strain. Serve up.


These two drinks were the product of tinkering around with a couple of my favorites - the Manhattan and the Boulevardier. The Employee's Only version of the Manhattan is particularly nice and leans heavily on the vermouth while adding a bit of Grand Marnier. It's their version of the classic and man, is it delicious. The Boulevardier, basically a bourbon Negroni, continues to get regular attention around the house although I usually sub Cynar for the sweet vermouth.

Bourbon/rye, Cynar, vermouth, Campari - those are all desert island ingredients in my book. I'm also a big fan of Laird's Bonded Apple Brandy. When I can get it (thanks Martha!). Pairing apple brandy with whiskey has been done before (Conference, American Trilogy, The Swafford, Historic Core...), and for good reason - that combination is delicious. Those two ingredients have a natural affinity for one another. 

The following two drinks have a similar core (rye and apple brandy base, vermouth, Grand Marnier) but are fleshed out differently. The Hill House is basically a Manhattan variation while the Gravity Note takes it's cue, loosely, from the Boulevardier. 

Hill House left, Gravity Note right. This picture was taken earlier in the week. Before a bunch of snow covered everything.

Hill House left, Gravity Note right. This picture was taken earlier in the week. Before a bunch of snow covered everything.

Hill House falls comfortably between EO's Manhattan and the Grandfather by Sam Ross. This one is rich, round and soft with a silky smooth texture. Laird's extra proof helps it hold it's own allowing for a pronounced but not dominant apple quality. Old Overholt contributes some spice and caramel while Grand Marnier adds oranges and additional body.

Gravity Note is also rich and while it reminds me of a Boulevardier the absence of Campari helps it stake out darker territory. Unlike the previous drink which was also rich but spirit driven, here the rye and apple brandy find themselves among company that's a bit more intense with the herbs. Still, plenty of apples, spice and caramel with hints of orange and brandy, it just ends up darker and more bitter than the previous drink.


Hill House
1 1/2 oz Old Overholt
1 oz Sweet Vermouth, Vya
3/4 oz Laird's Bonded
1/4 oz Grand Marnier
2 dashes Angostura
Garnish - Lemon Twist

Stir, strain, up


Gravity Note
1 oz Old Overholt
1 oz Laird's Bonded
1 oz Cynar
1/2 oz Sweet Vermouth, Vya
+1/4 oz Grand Marnier
Garnish - Orange Twist

Build over ice




This stuff is crazy, intriguing, bizarre...and delicious. When you read the ingredients you might think it will taste like a dragon breathing fire down your throat. And depending on how much honey you use it could, but in the best possible way.

I started making it last year and used this recipe (also below) from Mountain Rose Herbs which includes ginger, horseradish, onion, garlic, cayenne and jalapenos. There's some other stuff too but the idea is to infuse all of these intense ingredients in cider vinegar for a month, then strain it and add some honey. It's surprisingly good. You know what you're getting into the moment you take the top off of the bottle. The aroma is unmistakable and will take over a chunk of nearby air. It's sharp and belly-warming but also contains an unexpected smoothness which continues to develop over time. 

Fire Cider has folk medicine roots and is generally taken to ward off illness. If there's something sharp, fire-y, eye-watering or sinus clearing it's probably in here. It's now available commercially but it's also pretty easy to make at home. I tend to drink it as a shot about the same time I would normally reach for a packet of vitamin drink mix, that is, when someone around me starts sneezing and coughing. Drinks-wise though I've only tried it in hot toddys*. Black Strap has been the favorite so far - exceedingly flavorful, dark and interesting. Bourbon works well too.

You know it's a crazy drink when the cider vinegar base comes through almost as an afterthought. I usually make a double or triple batch and run as much as possible through a food processor. The quantities listed in the recipe below are a good starting point but this seems like the sort of thing you can add or subtract to as you see fit. This year I added some Habaneros.

I doubled** the quantities below then split the ingredients between three quart jars before filling with Bragg's Cider Vinegar. The bottle on the right is what I have left from last year.



Fire Cider - via Mountain Rose Herbs
1/2 cup grated Ginger
1/2 cup grated Horseradish
1 medium Onion, chopped
10 cloves Garlic, crushed or chopped
2 Jalapeno Peppers, chopped
1 Lemon, zest and juice
Rosemary - several sprigs fresh or 2 Tbsp dried
1 Tbsp Turmeric powder
Apple Cider Vinegar

Put dry ingredients plus lemon juice in a quart jar and fill with cider vinegar. Put some parchment paper on the top, screw on the lid and store in a cool dark place for a month. Shake daily.

After a month strain the contents and get as much juice out of the solids as possible. Using cheesecloth and wringing it like a rag helps. Add honey to taste. The directions say to start with a 1/4 cup but I think I'm going to try cutting that in half this year. Adding more is easy if necessary. And a little hot water, especially if using raw honey, will make stirring it in a little easier. 


* for hot toddys with this stuff I usually mix 1 1/2 oz of base spirit with 3/4 oz Fire Cider. Put that in a large tin and some boiling water in a small tin. Rest the large tin inside the small to heat everything up a bit. When the booze mixture is warm add it to a mug along with a few ounces of boiling water and a couple teaspoons of demerara sugar.

** doubled should read more like 'doubled-ish'. After each item went through the food processor I opted to use it all if it was relatively close to the amount specified.


The Sidecar was a cocktail I got pretty fixated on for a while. It's still one that I revisit on occasion. There's some flexibility in the drink's core that allows it to accommodate adjustments made for mood, quality of ingredients on hand, etc. Traditionally it's made with equal parts brandy, triple sec and lemon though there are several worthwhile ratios that skew more heavily toward the brandy.

The Comet isn't too far removed from the Sidecar. Substitute grapefruit for the lemon, supplement the triple sec with some Drambuie, keep the brandy and throw in some bitters. I came across the  Comet in David Wondrich's online drinks column for Esquire. The original recipe calls for Van der Hum, a South African spirit Wondrich describes as "basically brandy, flavored with tangerines, herbs and such." The triple sec/Drambuie combo is recommended as an approximation.

Citrus all over the nose with grapefruit leading but followed by orange from the Cointreau and spices from the Drambuie and Angostura. I've never had Van der Hum but the pairing of Cointreau and Drambuie is something I'd like to explore further. Here they work well together with the Drambuie playing off of Cointreau's orange flavor while adding herbs and a subtle honey quality. It does this without getting in the way though. Those two ingredients are deployed with a light hand which allows the brandy (I used Armagnac) to anchor things while the grapefruit keeps the sweetness in check by adding a sour component. For the grapefruit, white (less sweet than Ruby Red) is recommended here.



Comet - Eddie Clarke, Albany Club, London, 1950s
1 1/2 oz Cognac
1 oz Grapefruit Juice (white, if possible)
1/2 oz Van der Hum*
1 dash Angostura

Shake, strain, up

*kludge for Van der Hum = 1/4 oz Cointreau + 1/4 oz Drambuie


We don't have a lot of traditions around the house. There are a few though and one of them involves Thanksgiving. We get together with family up the coast and eat more than we should while catching up on recent events. For the last ten years or so we've brought a sweet potato casserole and at this point I think we'd be denied entry without it. Somehow it finds a home among the vegetables on the table even though the sugar content is probably equal to the apple and pumpkin pies combined. This fact is acknowledged tacitly among the adults, a little more gleefully among the kids who see a second helping of the orange mass, loaded with brown sugar and butter and masquerading as something healthy, as an annual triumph. 

In the past we've also contributed to the beer and wine on hand. Last year, however, we brought a batch of punch and that seemed to be an enjoyable twist on the afternoon's pleasant pattern of lazy milling about. Unlike the sweet potato casserole though, which I realize we can not tinker with or change in any way, I thought it would be fun to mix in different punches from year to year. Last year it was Regent's because I love that one and had some Seville oranges on hand.

This year I'm opting for a hot punch with a somewhat seasonal component - apple cider. Rather than disrupt any of the goings-on around the oven/stove, I'll set up a crock pot somewhere and let people help themselves as they orbit the kitchen/living room/dining room. This time I turned to Dan Searing's book The Punch Bowl which is full of classic and modern punch recipes. I've only made a few from this book but so far they've all been great. And just as an aside, if you're the sort of person who, like me, has a hard time driving by flea markets and yard sales without wondering what sort of glassware and bar stuff might be hidden among the tables, you'll likely find the numerous pictures of gorgeous antique punch sets enjoyable as well.

Eventually, I settled on Hot Rum Punch which consists of apple cider, oranges and orange juice, pineapple, cloves, cinnamon, lemon and a bottle's worth of rum. It looked like a crowd pleaser. Still, it's for Thanksgiving, and in order to avoid running into snags at the last minute I felt like a trial batch was in order. Ok, it's a pretty straightforward recipe. Snags were unlikely. I just felt like making a big batch of punch.

The pineapple's warming up and getting brown. The other stuff is ready to be added once the pineapple is done. I studded the orange wedges with cloves but that was when I thought I would be leaving it all in the pot to serve. After everything's done on the stove the whole mixture (minus the rum) sits in the refrigerator overnight. Prior to service the rum gets added and the mixture gets heated back up.

I ended up deviating from the recipe slightly at the service stage. I strained off the solids before adding the rum and bringing everything up to temp. My thinking was I could garnish the punch with clove studded orange wheels and cinnamon sticks and keep all of the large chunks out of the punch bowl (or crock pot). It's possible that the pineapple flavor would be less pronounced in the end but, having at this point tried it, it's clear that even when removed early the pineapple still makes major contributions. 

The recipe yielded just over three quarts after straining and adding rum. We took the half gallon jar to a friends house...

...and kept the quart for a chilly Sunday at home.



Hot Rum Punch - Edward Hamilton via The Punch Bowl by Dan Searing
1 Tbsp Butter
1 Pineapple - peeled and cut into large chunks
1 Orange - cut into eighths 
1/2 Lemon - quartered
4-6 Cinnamon sticks
24 Whole Cloves
1 quart Orange Juice
2 quarts Apple Cider
2 1/3 cups Dark Rum
1 cup Light Rum
Garnish - 20-30 Apple Slices - added to cups upon service

In a large pot saute the pineapple in the butter until lightly browned (more butter is ok if needed). Add orange, lemon, cinnamon sticks and cloves. Add orange juice and cider. Bring to a boil then simmer 10-15 minutes. 

Remove from heat, allow to cool and refrigerate overnight.

To serve, add both rums to the mixture and heat until hot (but not boiling).


Here's another one from Amanda's notebook of three ingredient drinks. I found it in Ted Munat's excellent Left Coast Libations. The 606 was created by Neyah White and has genever, fernet and vermouth. It's full of flavor, rich and delicious.

Things start out with a malty aroma from the Genever (I used Bols) and a little bit of orange from the garnish/oil peeking through as well. The ratio of genever to fernet is nice here. They are clearly both present and their flavors define the drink but they also allow space for one another. The vermouth is a less assertive component but without it I think there would be too much tension between the other two. Here, it helps tie things together with it's own herbal qualities while lending additional body. 

Genever, however, is less welcoming as the drink warms. It develops a bit of an edge and seems to take issue with fernet. Glancing first with contempt then with malice, genever warns fernet to 'not push it'. Fernet responds with a look that is both amused and menacing. What the hell is happening? Vermouth intervenes, annoyed but capable, trying not to get worked up but not having much success. The uncharacteristic and building frustration of vermouth as it launches into a tirade about how the world has abandoned subtlety breaks the tension between the other two. Genever and fernet relax, look at vermouth whose voice has begun to crack, and make faces that say 'get a load of this guy...we can't take him anywhere' before putting their arms around his shoulders and walking him over to the table where the punch is located.

Or at least that's what my notes say. 


606 - Neyah White, Nopa, San Francisco 
1 1/2 oz Genever
1/2 oz Fernet Branca
1/2 oz Sweet Vermouth
Garnish - Orange Peel

Stir, Strain, Up


Egg separators were something I didn't know about until recently. I've always used the shell to separate them, passing the egg between the two shell halves until the white lets go and falls into a bowl. And let me say up front that there's a reason almost everyone does it that way - it works. But, in the interest of not leaving well enough alone, I have found myself testing out several techniques meant to improve on the shell to shell method.

This whole endeavor can be traced back to a months-long obsession I've had with hollandaise. Specifically, the frequency with which I make it so I can have eggs Benedict at home. Which is to say, all the time. Probably way too often to be healthy. That whole thing has been a fun sort of rabbit hole - dialing in the hollandaise, trying different egg poaching techniques, etc. 

But now that we're approaching Egg Nog and Tom/Fernet & Jerry season, egg separation is going to get ramped up periodically. So, when I saw a silicone egg separator at a kitchen store the other week I thought, if it worked, it could actually save some time. And what the heck, it's a kitchen gadget - I need those thing to keep the drawers near the sink from opening too smoothly.

One from the kitchen store, one from the recycling bin.

One from the kitchen store, one from the recycling bin.

The egg separator I bought looked like the bulb portion of a turkey baster. You squeeze the bulb, put the open end on the yolk and as you release pressure on the bulb the yolk gets sucked up. I bought one and it worked great...70% of the time. Sometimes the opening was a little too big for a particular yolk, other times it was difficult to get enough pressure for the yolk to make it into the bulb without breaking. Occasionally a significant portion of the white would hang onto the yolk keeping it from getting sucked into the bulb and increasing the chances that the yolk would break before making it over the right bowl. 

Then I found out about the trick, probably common knowledge, where you use a disposable water bottle in much the same way. This had the added benefit of being clear which came in handy if a yolk broke somewhere along the way. You'd know to clean the bottle (or use another one) before turning it upside down over the eggs that hadn't been separated. That actually worked better than the bulb but we don't use a lot of disposable water bottles and the suction was sometimes still an issue. 

Eventually, the idea occurred to me to put some plastic tubing on one of those handheld vacuum sealers used to preserve opened bottles of wine. I tried it and it worked great. The suction is an improvement on the other methods allowing for greater control over the whole operation. If a white stays on the yolk you have a little more time to hold it vertically, twist it around, etc, before the yolk begins to slide down. Also, the tubing pops right off, making it pretty easy to clean.

I poured some boiling water in a jar and put the tube in it while I cracked all of the eggs. The tubing is 1" internal diameter (food grade is what you want) and won't fit over the wine pump unless it gets soaked it in hot water first. The seal after it cools though is solid. 

The one thing to keep in mind with this whole thing is that if an egg breaks it's not going to get separated. If it breaks over the bowl containing the unseparated eggs it's a huge drag. Unless you're just doing this for hollandaise. And then you're fine - you really only need enough whites for a couple of Ramos' while the meat gets warmed up. If it's for Egg Nog or Tom & Jerry though, or really anything else where the whites will be whipped up separately, getting yolk mixed in is something to be avoided.

If you're worried about it, or doing a ton, you might want to crack each egg over a small dish before adding it to the larger bowl. If the yolk breaks you have a chance to catch it before it gets mixed in with everything else.

If, after you've put this thing together, you find yourself unable to look at it without cracking up then you've probably done it correctly. 

One yolk broke as I was putting it into the second bowl. Again, that's not a huge deal, the yolks are going to get beaten anyway. The key is to move quickly and get the tube horizontal if the yolk looks like it's beginning to slip.

I haven't tried various diameters for the tubing - there might be a better one than what I used. Every now and then there's a yolk that is too small to work. When that happens I just reach in and separate it by hand, letting the white fall between my fingers. 

All in all it's pretty cheap to put together. It looks ridiculous but it works. Yes, it is a bit absurd and possibly a great waste of time. This was one of those 'I wonder what would happen if...' ideas though and the process involved in untangling it was mostly enjoyable. Even the small disaster that followed an attempt to use the tubing while reversing an aeropress (broken yolks all over the place). 


Rosemary's Baby, from the previous post, reminded me of this one. Both have rosemary and fire. This one looks like a Last Word riff on paper. And I suppose it has too much in common to argue the point but the adjustment of quantities (here 2 oz gin and 1/2 oz of the rest as opposed to everything equal parts) along with the rosemary help this thing carve out its own territory. 

The Rubicon comes from Jamie Boudreau and he has a great post here detailing the creation of the drink, the effect heat (here it's fire) can have on ingredients, etc. He also explains how the name of the drink was inspired by the resemblance the rosemary has to the crown of laurels associated with Julius Caesar. When Caesar led his troops across the river Rubicon to Rome it was in defiance of Roman law. A civil war followed, Caesar became dictator and the unrest following his eventual assassination led to the transition of Rome from a Republic to an Empire. Before crossing it he stated 'The die has been cast!' (although he probably said it in Latin) and 'crossing the Rubicon' has come to mean 'a point of no return'. 

Enough history (which I probably screwed up anyway), this drink is great and it's fun to make for people.

Ignite the Chartreuse and rosemary.

Ignite the Chartreuse and rosemary.

Strain the rest of the drink to extinguish flames.

Strain the rest of the drink to extinguish flames.

Add ice, garnish and you're all set.

Add ice, garnish and you're all set.


The scent of rosemary opens things up. Beneath that, on the sip you have a deliciously herbal gin sour. Chartreuse and maraschino do their thing. The former bringing herbs and some heat while the latter contributes its unusual sweet and nutty quality with hints of fruit. Both are tempered by the lemon which allows the gin and rosemary to stand in the center. The finish finds everything balanced and blending together nicely.


Rubicon - Jamie Boudreau, Canon, Seattle
2 oz Gin
1/2 oz Green Chartreuse
1/2 oz Maraschino
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
Rosemary - Fire
Rosemary - Garnish

Curl a sprig of rosemary in the bottom of a rocks glass. Add Chartreuse and ignite. Shake the gin, maraschino and lemon juice with ice and strain over the flames. Fill with crushed ice and garnish.