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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Be It Hereby Resolved

Continuing my quest for the perfect retro-cocktail from the Savoy Cocktail Book, I discovered the Resolute (on p. 133).  It had the virtue of simplicity and, more importantly, I had all the ingredients on hand.  I discovered that this cocktail is well-named.  You must be really Resolute to drink it when mixed as specified in the book.  The recipe from the Savoy called for lemon juice as a full ¼ of the cocktail with no sugar or syrup to offset the tartness.  Who knows – perhaps apricot brandy used to be a lot sweeter…  Although I’m known for making Margarita’s with just tequila and lime juice (no sugar), this cocktail was a bit (well, a lot) tarter than anything I generally care to drink.

I decided this recipe needed some adjustment.  I didn’t want to add sweetener, since that wouldn’t keep the recipe true to the spirit of the book.  The alternative was a radical reduction in the amount of lemon juice.  The recipe below cuts it by half, but you might want to go farther than that. I recommend that you make it with less lemon juice than specified, and add a little more if you feel you could withstand a little more tartness.  I added the garnish; none was specified in the original.


Resolute (Savoy Cocktail Book)

1 ½ oz. Bombay Sapphire® Gin

3/4 oz. apricot brandy

1 heavy dash freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 3/8 oz. max.)

Combine ingredients in a shaker and shake resolutely until your hand gets too cold.  Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.  Garnish with a twist of lemon peel.


Sunday, April 26, 2009

Photograph ©

Friday, April 24, 2009

Spanish Town Cocktail

This week I’ve continued my exploration of the retro cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book.  The Spanish Town cocktail was right next to the Special Rough (on p.152), but it was a recipe for making six cocktails, calling for five glasses of rum.  You will notice that I have trimmed the recipe down quite a bit.  Unfortunately, old Harry Craddock didn’t specify the type of rum to use, so I had to improvise.  Normally, I would use dark rum (Gosling’s®) for sipping (this cocktail is almost all rum), but I thought that it was unlikely that Harry would use a dark rum for this cocktail, so I used Bacardi® 8.  You can use any high quality rum; experiment with your favorite.  The original recipe just specified Curaçao, but I substituted some Blue Curaçao (it’s all I had) that gave the cocktail a nice, pale green color when mixed with gold colored rum.  I thought that sprinkling the nutmeg was a nice touch from the Savoy, and it added some interesting complexity to the drink.  This cocktail has a really nice finish, you should enjoy it!


Spanish Town (Savoy Cocktail Book)

2 ½ oz. Bacardi® 8 Rum

1 dash Blue Curaçao

Combine ingredients with ice in a shaker.  Shake to wake the town using a flamenco beat.  Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.  Sprinkle top with (preferably) freshly ground nutmeg.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Savoy Cocktail Book

Last week I followed a link in a tweet to the Underhill-Lounge blog, where Ellestad was describing an obsessive (but noble) quest to make all 888 cocktails in the The Savoy Cocktail Book.  Ellestad’s rather long post describing enthusiastic cocktail shaking and stirring activity inspired me to go out to to order my own copy of the much esteemed work.  It just came today and it’s definitely a fun book.  The first edition was written by Harry Craddock at the Savoy Hotel in London in 1930, and contains miscellanea of bartending wit and wisdom in addition to the cocktail recipes.  While I don’t have the time, the money, or the dedication to make all of the cocktails, I thought I owed it to myself (and posterity) to give some of them a try.

Many of the cocktail recipes in the book specify exotic ingredients like Capertif, Fernet Branca, or Groseille that I not only do not have in my bar, but have never even heard of.  Plus I’m pretty sure that the Utah State Liquor Store has probably never heard of them either (assuming that they’re alcoholic).  Several recipes specified “for bottling” are for making mass quantities of a cocktail; one of them lists ingredients in such proportions that it calls for a quart of bitters.  I was still, however, inspired to set off on my own Savoy Cocktail quest…  Sad to say it’s kind of a poor man’s depression-era quest.  I decided that rather than emulate Ellestad’s example of making all of the cocktails in the Savoy book in order, I would just make random recipes that sounded interesting as I browsed through the book; cocktails for which I already had all (or most) of the required ingredients.  Next I would translate the proportions of the ingredients into modern equivalents.  As I mentioned earlier, some recipes labeled “for bottling” deal in quarts and gallons: two gallons of this and one quart of that.  Others are in “tenths”, but even if you take a tenth to be ½ ounce, you would still end up with a five ounce cocktail, which is a little excessive.  Some recipes make six servings and specify “glasses” of ingredients that allegedly fit into a single shaker (must be bigger than mine).  So I’ll also be adjusting quantities to get a single serving.  Still, I hope to be faithful to the spirit of the book, but if you want 100% accuracy, you’ll have to buy your own copy.

The first recipe I came across that met my exacting criteria was the Special Rough, found on page 153.  Unfortunately, the Savoy Cocktail Book doesn’t give background information on the cocktails or tell how they were named, so I’m at a loss as to exactly what this means.  There is no Special Smooth cocktail to evaluate for contrast.  The Special Rough is a simple cocktail; its major ingredients are brandy (I used cognac) and applejack, set off by a little absinthe to add some background complexity.  If it sounds good to you, give it a try.  I added the garnish; none was specified in the original.


Special Rough (Savoy Cocktail Book)

1 ½ oz. brandy or cognac

1 ½ oz. applejack or calvados

1 dash absinthe

Combine ingredients in a shaker and shake especially roughly (or, since this is a clear cocktail, you can stir it roughly if you prefer).  Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.  Drop in a Luxardo Marasche® Marasca Cherry and enjoy while contemplating better days at the Savoy.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Tax Day Cocktails

Yes, there it is, looming on the horizon.  Tax day.  I am a tax procrastinator; I willingly admit it.  It may have something to do with the returns for three different states I have to fill out, or the fourth state return I have to do to help out my dad, but I just hate doing taxes.  I never finish on the last day (I’m not that much of a procrastinator), but I come close.  Especially when I have to pay in, like I do this year.  On tax day, I will be ready for a good stiff drink or two (or three), and I would guess that the same is true for you.  So I’m not here to recommend some cute cocktail that takes a lot of time, I’m here to suggest some classic cocktails that are easy to make and easy to double for those of us that need a good stiff drink once they have their taxes done.  Just remember, you may have to go to work Thursday, so don’t overdo it.  Have a great cocktail, curse the taxman soundly, and get a good night’s sleep.

The Sazarac is reputed to be the original cocktail, first concocted in “partay central,” Nouveau Orleans.  This brown beauty is almost straight whiskey and deserves to be treated with respect.  Sazaracs are traditionally (and according to my recipe) served in an old-fashioned glass, but in honor of tax day I will tell you one of my darkest secrets: I like to drink Sazaracs out of a cocktail glass.  Yes, I know it’s perverse, but I like to take a cocktail glass out of the freezer, rinse it with Absinthe (coating the inside of the glass to the rim), strain in that heavenly mixture, and then drink my way around the rim of the glass so that I get that little hint of Absinthe with each sip of Sazarac.  The sensation can be almost orgasmic.

The Manhattan is another venerable cocktail.  It’s around 140 years old, and is sometimes attributed to Winston Churchill’s mother.  The more likely story is that it was concocted for a party she was throwing.  The ratio of whiskey to vermouth in a Manhattan can be as low as 1:1, but my recipe is considerably drier at 4:1.  You may also vary the bitters you use to influence the flavor and make this drink your own.  One secret to a good Manhattan is to use quality maraschino cherries.  If you have any Luxardo Marasche® Marasca Cherries, use them.  If not, I guess you’re stuck with the bright red, plastic ones… at least they taste good.  What the hell, if you’ve got your taxes done, drop in two cherries; you’ve earned them.

You didn’t think I would forget the Martini, did you?  Whether made with Gin or Vodka, a Martini is one of the old stand-bys for rapid intake of alcohol to dull the pain of paying taxes.  This cocktail supposedly originated during the California gold rush, so it’s kind of à propos to drink a Martini as you see your gold rushing away from you.  After the agony, it’s nice to have the biggest decision you must make be the choice between olive, onion, or lemon peel.  Decisions, decisions…

One final suggestion as your money goes south comes from south of the border: a Margarita.  I’ve always had a weakness for this cocktail.  You’ve probably noticed that my recipe is for a blended Margarita.  That doesn’t mean that I have anything against a Margarita on the rocks or straight up.  Au contraire, I tend to make my Margaritas frozen because they go down too fast otherwise.  For tax day, assuming your taxes are done, I recommend shaking your Margarita like a maraca and serving it straight up in a chilled cocktail glass with a lightly salted rim. Olé!  And death to taxes!

Photographs ©

Friday, April 10, 2009

Easter Egg

Easter is upon us, and it hasn’t snowed in three or four days, so I thought it was about time to get into developing an Easter cocktail.  I thought about doing one called the Easter Bunny with beer in it (for the hops), but couldn’t come up with anything that sounded appetizing.  I’ve always had a weakness for chocolate covered cherries at Easter, so that led me into the development of the Easter Egg.  This cocktail has all the essentials of Easter (for me, anyway) in a single glass: chocolate, cherry, and cocoanut.  As you can guess, this one’s a sweetie.  It will remind you of pigging out on candy Easter morning as a child (if you have a sweet tooth, that’s a good thing).  If you’re looking for something dry, look elsewhere.  The Easter Egg may be enjoyed on its own or after dinner, but is definitely not a good choice for an aperitif. 

The cocktail mix itself is very simple, only three ingredients.  The complexity comes in the presentation, so you might want to practice this one before you prepare them for guests to ensure you have the technique down.  Besides, cocktail practice is always fun because you get to drink your mistakes.  The basic cocktail comes out thick and white.  After it’s in the glass, you will drizzle Blue Curacao and Grenadine in it to color the egg.  You can either drizzle from a spoon or dip a plastic straw into the liquid, put your finger over the end, and then carefully let air into the straw (and dribble the liquid out) over the glass.  If you use straws, you might want to use a thicker one for the Grenadine and a skinny one for the Blue Curacao.  Do a lot of your drizzling near the sides of the glass, not the center, so that the colors show up down the side of the glass.  This is the part you need to practice to get the affect you want.  The result should remind you of a speckled or striped egg.  If you want to go all out, shoot a swirl of chocolate syrup into the glass before pouring the cocktail (be sure this works for the type of glass you’re using), and drizzle a bit more on top after you add the Blue Curacao and Grenadine.  Since this is a sweet cocktail, you may also serve it on the rocks or frozen to cut the sweetness.  If you make it frozen, serve it in a Margarita glass.


Easter Egg

2 oz.  Coco Réal® cream of cocoanut

1 oz. DeKuyper® white Crème de Cacao

1 oz. Kirsch (cherry brandy)

1 tsp. Grenadine

1 tsp. Blue Curacao

Chocolate syrup (optional presentation)

Be sure to pre-chill your cocktail glasses.  Combine cream of cocoanut, Crème de Cacao, and Kirsch with cracked ice in a shaker.  Shake long and hard (the cream of cocoanut is pretty thick and must be well mixed) while humming that song about Peter Cottontail.  Grab a glass from the freezer, drizzle the inside (optional) with chocolate syrup, and carefully strain the mix into the glass to avoid mussing the chocolate.  Drop in a maraschino cherry for a surprise Easter Egg.  Drizzle the Blue Curacao and Grenadine as per above, and finish with more chocolate syrup (optional).  If you really want to go over the top, use a sharp knife to cut an angled slit into a Peep® candy and perch it on the lip of the glass.


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

French 75

Legend has it that the French 75 cocktail was invented in France during the First World War and named after the French 75 recoilless canon, renowned for being able to keep up a rapid rate of fire with high accuracy.  It is rumored to have quite a kick, and it is a little stronger than most champagne cocktails.  Since it’s almost 100 years old, there are a lot of recipe variations available.  (I’ve seen one that uses gin, calvados, and absinthe, and others substitute cognac for the gin.)  Feel free to do some research and experiment if this version is not to your taste.  Like most champagne cocktails, it’s easy to make, fun to drink, and looks elegant in a flute. 

The original French recipe only calls for four ingredients, champagne included, and no mixing or shaking.  It uses a lot less gin, so I’ve adjusted my recipe closer to most American recipes.  Unless you keep your gin in the freezer and your lemons in the fridge, you will want to either shake or stir the non-champagne ingredients to chill them down so they don’t warm up your champagne.  Note that if you’re using sweeter champagne, you may want to cut back on the simple syrup.  The recipe below will make about two ounces, and most flutes only hold around six, so you can use the shaker contents for two cocktails if you want to have more champagne in the mix (this is closer to the original recipe).  This cocktail is worth a little extra effort to get it right.  You should really enjoy the interplay of the botanicals in the gin with the fruit in the champagne.

French 75 (with acknowledgement to

1 oz Bombay Sapphire® Gin

½ oz freshly squeezed lemon juice

½ oz simple syrup

4-5oz well chilled champagne

Combine gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup with cracked ice in a shaker.  Shake like you’re trying to whip up a nice froth on a cup of chocolat chaud while thinking of Juliette Binoche.  Strain into a chilled champagne flute and fill with ice cold champagne.  Garnish with a maraschino cherry in the glass and a small orange wedge on the lip.  Get ready for a treat. 


Sunday, April 5, 2009

Ladies and Distress

On the Twitter front, it sounds like the reality show (For the Love of Ray J?) that includes a woman named Cocktail is down to three contestants.  Thank God!  I hope they don’t rerun it.  I hate having all those tweets clogging up my cocktail feed.  The bad news is that Cocktail appears to be one of the lead contenders and may not get kicked off soon.  (This even though I discovered how to block "cocktail" tweets containing “shrimp” or “ray”.) 

My list of saved tweets keeps growing, so I thought I would harvest a bunch to share with you.  I have enough in the queue that I was able to go through and try to find a common theme.  I found a group of tweets that all seem to be from young women under different degrees of cocktail distress.

“Tonight at dinner my mom ordered a giblet as her cocktail. Then a gimlet. She meant a gibson. I drank her gimlet. Mmm, turkey guts.” @beautifulkind 4/3/9 (Well, they all have gin in them (except the giblet). – UM)

“I need a stiff one. Cock or cocktail. I'll take either. I'm not so picky.” @DPH_13 3/26/9 (As for me, I’ll have the cocktail. – UM)

“I like my men like I like my tequila... Able to knock me out with little effort.” @monicawesome 3/24/9 (I like a woman who knows what she likes. – UM)

“for tonight's cocktail party should i look "for real" nice or "hooker that took a shower" nice?” @itsakawskything 4/3/9 (Depends on who you want to hook up with… – UM)

“made the mistake of saying 'cocktail' (dress) in an update & is now being followed by what seems to be a group of alcoholics” @staceeeeee 3/29/9 (No, the UM is not following her. – UM)

 “Almost just puked up the mexican lunch and cocktail I had before working out. Perhaps not a great idea.” @MissBritannyD 4/3/9 (Thanks for sharing that with us – UM)

“I'm working on a new cocktail called The Sheep F*cker” @gloomy_tuesday 4/3/9 (WTF!! This is an original.  (I try to avoid encouraging stereotyping, but I must inform you that she is from Australia.) – UM)


Saturday, April 4, 2009

Nuit de Folie

While doing my intensive research on the French Aphrodisiaque cocktail, I noticed that the link trace at the top of the page included “Boissons Aphrodisiaques” (aphrodisiac drinks).  Being naturally curious on this topic, I clicked on the link and scanned the list of cocktails.  Nuit de Folie (night of madness) caught my eye.  That sounded like fun, so I clicked through.  The recipe is fairly simple with only three ingredients: grapefruit juice (I used white), rum, and framboise.  They specify Havana Club Cuban rum, which is not available in the US.  I would normally substitute Gosling’s Black Seal®, one of my favorite rums, but when mixed with the grapefruit juice it resulted in a rather unattractive hue, so I decided to use a light rum (I ended up using Bacardi®).  The original proportions of the Nuit de Folie were two parts grapefruit juice to one part rum.  This resulted in a rather tart cocktail, so after experimentation I reversed the proportions to two parts rum to one part grapefruit juice.  Feel free to experiment, especially if you like grapefruit juice.  You could also try adding simple syrup to sweeten it a little.

Nuit de Folie  (with acknowledgement to

2 oz light rum

1 oz grapefruit juice

.5 oz framboise liqueur

Combine ingredients with cracked ice in a shaker.  Shake friskily while thinking of Emmanuelle Béart.  Strain into the cocktail glass.  This cocktail can use some color, so garnish with a maraschino cherry.  Get ready for the night. 


Friday, April 3, 2009


I found Aphrodisiaque while exploring a French cocktail site as part of a self-imposed assignment for my French class to pass out a set of French cocktail recipes to the class.  French cocktail style differs from American, but both result in great cocktails.  When I adapt a French recipe for the American audience, I tend to slightly increase the amounts of liquor and liqueurs, to decrease the amounts of lemon juice and fruit juice, and to decrease or eliminate the water or club soda.  Cocktails (as opposed to simple drinks) cost a lot more in Europe, so they tend to have more “filler” to stretch out the time it takes to drink them.  Not a bad idea under the circumstances, but not always what American drinkers are looking for.  The French recipe for the Aphrodisiaque includes filling the glass with Perrier® (or club soda/ seltzer), which I have omitted.  On the other hand, if you’re looking for a cocktail with lower Alcohol by Volume (ABV), the French style may be a good way to go.  Think of the differences between how you would mix a cocktail for serving in a highball glass as opposed to a cocktail glass (see Dark and Stormy for an example).

As for the name, I decided to test the Aphrodisiaque out on my wife.  While she really enjoyed it (the cocktail, that is), it did not appear to have any more aphrodisiac affect than any other drink.  Apparently, even the French have not yet perfected aphrodisiac science.  C’est la vie!

Aphrodisiaque  (with acknowledgement to

1 ½  oz. Bombay Sapphire® Gin

1 ½  oz. Grand Marnier® or Cointreau® (or Triple Sec)

Juice of ½ lemon (about 1 oz.)

Rim a chilled cocktail glass with fine sugar.  Combine ingredients with cracked ice in a shaker.  Shake lovingly while thinking of Julie Delpy.  Strain into the cocktail glass.  Add some chilled Perrier® if you feel the need.  Garnish with a pair of maraschino cherries.  Enjoy!


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

French Martini

I had my first French Martini at First Press on a rainy evening in San Francisco.  I loved it.  The combination of raspberry and pineapple was intriguing.  I jotted down the ingredients and, after a little experimentation at home, came up with proportions I liked.  As you get into French cocktails, you will discover that they use a lot of fruit liqueurs.  Chambord® is made from raspberry (framboise) and you can substitute other framboise liqueurs, and even Bonny Doon® Framboise from California, which is quite good.  Blackberry (mûre) is another popular fruit, as is black currant (cassis).  When I checked out a French cocktail site for another French Martini recette, I discovered that they used regular vodka, mûres instead of framboises, and left out the pineapple juice.  I’ve put my favorite below, and I’ll let you be the judge of which one you like better.  BTW, you can cruise French cocktail sites without being able to read French if you know the basics of mixing cocktails and have access to a good online dictionary.  Rather than trying to convert all the measurements for the ingredients, look at the ratios between ingredients and substitute measures you’re used to using.  If you can’t figure something out, drop me an email.

French Martini (with acknowledgement to First Press)

2 oz. Svedka® Raspberry Vodka (or substitute Absolut® Raspberri)

½  oz Chambord (or other framboise liqueur – see above)

2 oz. pineapple juice

Combine ingredients with cracked ice in a shaker.  Shake patriotically while humming a verse of La Marseillaise (watch “Casablanca” if you don’t know the tune).  Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.    Garnish with a twist of lemon peel.  Enjoy!

Next time, the French Aphrodisiaque cocktail. Magnifique!