Ship-shape Sharpie

You rarely see whiskey and gin combined in cocktails: the strong flavors require skill to achieve balance and coax the two spirits into playing well together. I found a great example of that skill in the 2015 Food & Wine Cocktails book. Today’s drink is the Sharpie Mustache from Chris Elford, currently of No Anchor in Seattle. Equal parts rye, dry gin, Bonal Gentiane-Quina, and Amaro Meletti (I subbed in Amaro Lucano) come together with a sweet start, a strong flood over the palate, and an herbal and slightly bitter finish. If you’re feeling adventurous and not afraid of ABV, I’d give this a try. At a minimum, enjoy Chris’s story (inset).

Sharpie Mustache, Chris Elford via Food & Wine Cocktails 2015

Everyone looks good in blue

I have been drinking this cocktail almost exclusively for the last month, and it’s a great example of how the whole can be greater than the sum of its parts. Just that little balance between the amaro and the maraschino makes all the difference. The result is a slightly richer, almost chocolatey Manhattan, and I am in love. Via Bartender’s Choice app.

Blue Collar Cocktail, Michael Madrusan, Milk & Honey

 Fill ‘er up

This was a surprisingly wonderful drink!  The ingredients are so simple that I wasn’t expecting the flavors to come together and be so much greater than the sum of their parts.  There’s a rich sweetness, a bit of sour, just a hint of freshness from the mint, and the mellow spiciness of the rye just pulling it all together.  I definitely recommend giving this cocktail a try, especially as we move into summer: the mint helps make this a great sipper for the warmer weather.

Double Fill-Up, Phil Ward, Death & Company

With so many great summer drinks including mint in the recipe, I decided to try to cultivate my own this year.


Fool on the hill

Today is my last day at home before several days of travel for work, but of course i had to make time for an evening taste test.  Cobble Hill is another selection from Regarding Cocktails: a lighter riff on my favored Manhattan.  Normally I don’t enjoy dry vermouth, but this time it’s nicely offset by the cucumber and an equal amount of a lightly citrus amaro.  The first sip takes a bit of reorienting since you don’t usually see rye with cucumber, but after a few sips you taste how the combination really works well together.  It’s a great contrast to the heavier, sweeter Manhattan that usually sees me through the winter.

Cobble Hill, Sasha Petrakse, Milk & Honey

Back to the beginning

Happy New Year’s, everyone!  I’m starting to work my way through Regarding Cocktails, the book started by the late, great Sasha Petraske and completed by his wife, Georgette. Sasha started Milk & Honey in New York, which was arguably the birthplace of the modern craft cocktail movement, and it’s his sensibility that really defined the care and attention that we apply to drink-making today.  There’s something simple yet wonderful to take what can be an extremely complex and involved process down to bare-bones and execute it perfectly. The American Trilogy cocktail is a riff on the Old Fashioned, but with a couple subtle changes that give it an extra bit of flair and interest. 

American Trilogy, Richard Boccato, Milk & Honey

Better than a bird

In honor of Thanksgiving, I picked a random drink from my new copy of The Canon Cocktail Book. What a great way to start a long holiday weekend.  This is a lovely light blend of flavors that doesn’t overwhelm. I did sub in Carpano Antica since Punt e Mes is not my favorite vermouth. 

Wishing all those celebrating a wonderful Thanksgiving, and most especially freedom from any family-related unpleasantness. For those not celebrating, cheers to you!

Cobbler’s Dream, The Canon Cocktail Book

Manhattan Monday

Sometimes it feels like you could take a virtual tour of NYC just by working your way through Manhattan variants. Today I’m visiting Greenpoint via this Milk & Honey concoction. I like the herbal note coming from the chartreuse, but the cocktail itself doesn’t feel quite integrated. I might try this again with a change in the vermouth/chartreuse ratio. Via Bartender’s Choice app. 

Greenpoint, by Michael McIlroy, Milk & Honey, NYC

Manhattan Monday

I really love the Manhattan. On its own (2 ounces whiskey, preferably rye, 1 ounce sweet vermouth, 2 dashes bitters), it leaves room for a ton of variety. Even better, it’s easy to play around with the template and still end up with a drinkable beverage. Search the internet for “Manhattan variations” and you’ll have enough hits to keep you busy for months. Today, I looked to the South in order to visit a Manhattan suburb (apologies to East Coasters who don’t consider Jersey a ‘burb), and was pleasantly surprised to find a delicious Manhattan variant. I am generally not a huge fan of maraschino, but this small jot was perfect to elevate the drink. I added some of my favorite bitters since I used Carpano Antica rather than Punt e Mes as recommended in the recipe. From Thirsty South. 

Red Hook, via Thirsty South

Shine like a diamond

I was looking for an older standard tonight, so I mixed a Diamondback. This deceptively simple rye drink is a lovely contrast in flavors (spicy rye, sweet apple brandy, and herbal chartreuse), but still sweet enough for easy sipping (yellow chartreuse is one of my favorite herbal spirits).

Diamondback, Ted Saucier, Bottom’s Up! (1951)

Manhattan Monday

There’s nothing like mixing a cocktail to refresh yourself after a visit to the gym!  I’m surprised I haven’t yet tried this particular Manhattan variation as it falls into the area where I started my cocktail adventure: original post-Prohibition cocktail recipe books.  It’s a good drink, although I wouldn’t necessarily choose it over a straight Manhattan. The flavors are very similar, and to be honest, it’s just a couple steps too many to make it a contender.  Still, not a bad start to the week.  Via Bartender’s Choice app. 

Remember the Maine, The Gentleman’s Companion, 1939