Thursday, February 8, 2018


This was my submission to the Bacardi Legacy contest in 2017. The flavors of the rum reall got brought out by this classic sour cocktail. The mouthfeel is wonderful. The story is, of course, an absolute fabrication. I'm not a man with a lot of history or sentimentality. Maybe I'll learn to lie better in the future. 

1.5 Bacardi Gold Rum

0.75 Fresh Orange Juice
0.5 Brown Sugar Banana Syrup
0.5 Aquafaba
0.125 Roasted Walnut Oil

Add the Bacardi, orange juice, banana syrup, aquafaba, and walnut oil to a mixing tin. Dry shake until well emulsified. Add ice and shake again until well chilled and frothy. Rinse a coupe with Bénédictine. Double strain the cocktail into the coupe. Add a spritz of Benedictine on top of the cocktail for aroma and garnish with an orange twist.

Brown Sugar Banana Syrup:
Weigh a banana. Measure out equal weights of brown sugar and water. Bring the water to a simmer in a small pot and slowly add the brown sugar. Peel the banana and slice the insides and add them to the pot. Use a hand blender to puree any chunks of banana. Slice the skin of the banana and add them to the pot. Let the syrup simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Strain through a mesh strainer several times to eliminate any chucks. Keep chilled until ready to use.

This cocktail stems from a classic birthday treat my grandmother taught my mother to make. I suppose she didn't use rum though. For birthdays in my house growing up, I remember having a party with my friends, but we'd always have a family dinner as well where the birthday boy or girl could ask for whatever meal they wanted. I'd always ask for this lovely sweet banana nut bread as a dessert. It had orange zest, brown sugar, ripe bananas, and fresh nuts. It became a tradition. These days, my family is spread out all across the country. Every once in a while I like to make a batch as best I can. I was born in 1990, but I've had many more than 27 of this delicious treat. I hope you enjoy. 

Monday, May 1, 2017

BOLS of Pears

This cocktail was a collaboration between myself and my dear friend Micah. For the first round of the Bols Around The World competition, we were required to make a cocktail that was a variant of a classic cocktail that would be drunk in the year 2025. It was a very humorous notion but one that did inspire thoughts of new techniques and the trends of today. 

2.25 oz. Pear, lime leaf Genever
3/4 oz. Dolin Blanc Vermouth
1 dash Angostura Orange Bitters
Lemon Twist

Stir all of the ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Strain the cocktail into a coupe. Garnish with an expressed lemon twist.

Instructions for infused Bols Genever:
Preheat a water bath to 130°F/54°C. Place 8 oz. of Bols Genever, 2 Asian pears (diced), and 5 fresh kaffir lime leaves in a sealed plastic bag. Let the Bols Genever infusion cook for 3 hours. Remove the bag from the water bath and let it come back to room temperature. Strain the infusion.

Bols of Pears is an homage to the Turf Cocktail no. 2, a classic relative of the martini. Normal infusion of Bols Genever, Asian pear, and kaffir lime leaf can take up to 2 months. Using the modern cooking technique of sous vide you can infuse much faster due to heating up the infusion and having it sealed so none of the alcohol steam escapes. By the year 2025, this technique will be used more and more to create faster infusions for unique cocktails.

The unashamed sweet flavors of this cocktail while still maintaining impeccable balance is why Bols Genever has been a favorite since I discovered it. We decided on mixing it up with kaffir lime leaf and Asian pears because so many modern technologies are being created and perfected in Eastern Asia. I love how much parts of Eastern Asia continue to strive to create new ideas while maintaining customs and cultures of the past. This is exactly what Bols of Pears represents: striving for exciting cutting edge ideas while still maintaining respect for tradition.

"Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut."
- Ernest Hemingway

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The Unbridled

This was the cocktail I submitted for the Woodford Reserve Manhattan Experience as my original cocktail. It was good enough to make it to the regional finals. Unfortunately, it didn't make it past that stage but my co-worker, Damian, was crowned the winner and will be going on to the next round. The presentation to the judges wasn't ideal on my part, but I believe that the cocktail stands.

1 1/2 oz. Woodford Reserve Double Oaked
3/4 oz. Amaro Ramazzotti 
3/4 oz. Campari
3/4 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
7 drops Saline Solution

To make saline solution, simply mix 1 part salt to 8 parts water. Stir until dissolved.

Add all of your ingredients to a shaker tin. Add ice, cap, and shake. Double strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with an expressed lemon twist and orange twist.

My cocktail, The Unbridled, is a tribute to the thoroughbreds and other horses that make up so much of the iconography of Kentucky. The name is borrowed from a government motto reflecting both the Kentucky Derby and Bourbon, "Unbridled Spirit". This is reflected in the drink by the sheer power the drink has initially. Then, thanks to the saline solution, the more intense bitter flavors calm down, and the more elegant flavors shine a bit more. Even the fastest and strongest horse can be elegant when calm and unburdened.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Hot Blooded

This was a cocktail I made for the Old Forester Old Fashioned competition. The only rule for this round was that it had to use at least an ounce of an Old Forester product. This was at WhiskeyFest Philadelphia. I figured the people judging this drink would appreciate a slightly lighter style cocktail. It was rainy weather that day. I wanted something warm. 

1 oz. Old Forester 90 proof
1/2 oz. Aperol
1/2 oz. Mulling Spice Syrup*
2 oz. Hot Rooibos Red Tea

Start by brewing 8 oz of hot rooibos tea. Add that to a tempered mixing beaker. Add 4 oz of whiskey, 2 oz Aperol, and 2 oz. mulling spice syrup. stir lightly to mix. Serve in 4 stemmed or handled glasses. Garnish with an orange peel with cloves. Feel free to make larger batches.

Mulling Spice Syrup:
2 tbsp Mulling Spice (mix of cinnamon chips, orange rind, allspice, and cloves), 1 tsp Fresh Ginger, 1/2 Orange (Sliced), 1/2 Lemon (Sliced), 8 oz. Water, 4 oz. Wildflower Honey, 4 oz. Demerara Sugar. Steep over medium heat for a half hour. Strain into a bottle and keep chilled. 

Like I said, I wanted to go with a cocktail that was nice and light and would warm the spirits of the people who had already been drinking for 5 hours at WhiskeyFest. A hot toddy was I found that my favorite tea for use with citrus flavors is red tea. In a hot toddy, you need to have a bit of spice. Cinnamon and cloves are pretty classic. I decided to add a bit of depth to the citrus components with the Aperol, and it helped the color too. It's a nice winter warmer style cocktail. Good to drink under the blanket on the couch. 

"Come, let us drink some tea and talk about happy things."

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Hidden Orchard

This was a cocktail I made for the Old Forester Old Fashioned competition. The only rule was that it had to use at least an ounce of an Old Forester product and it had to resemble an old fashioned. I actually had been experimenting with different bitters around this time and came up with a fun, earthy, fall old fashioned. 

1 1/2 oz. Old Forester 86 proof
1/2 oz. Averna Amaro
1/4 oz. Maple Syrup
2 dashes Apple Bitters

Add all the ingredients to a mixing glass. Add ice and stir. Strain into a rocks glass with fresh ice, ideally one big cube. Garnish with an expressed orange twist.

I had recently had a seminar with one of the owners of Amor y Amargo and we tried some lovely products. I decided to procure a bit of the Barkeep Apple Bitters. I thought it matched with some of the apple notes of the bourbon and the citrus from the Averna played well. For sweetener, the maple syrup worked with the earthiness. 

I actually won judges' choice for this cocktail, the grand prize of the competition, though there was a people's choice round too. This was the first competition I've won without participating as a group. I did have a darling friend barbacking for me, helping me out. It was a great honor. I got to see some great friends and meet some new people. And I left with a fantastic prize. 

"It's an old fashioned kind of day."

Bhang! Cannabis Smoothies, a Diwali Tradition (NSFW)

Cannabis smoothies are becoming a bit popular in the states these days. People are adding weed to their breakfasts and just about anything else. Weed has been around for ages and is a part of more than one religion it turns out. Aside from the Rastafarians, the Hindu religion has a lot of affiliation with cannabis. Many of their gods smoke, which may explain some of their stories. During the Diwali holiday, which is a sort of Hindu New Years, they drink a milk based smoothie with cannabis leaves. Be aware, this is not a single serving, This should serve about 20 people. 

1/4 oz Cannabis (buds for this recipe)
1 cup Water
2 1/4 cup Whole Milk
1/2 cup Cream
10 Almonds
1 teaspoon Sugar
1 teaspoon Saffron
1 teaspoon Cardamom
1 teaspoon Fennel seeds
2-3 dashes Rose Water

You will also need some cheesecloth, a mortar and pestle, and your usual kitchenware like bowls, funnels, strainers, and a bottle to serve. 

To prepare you will need to soak the almonds overnight. Then remove the skins. Muddle the skinned almonds into a paste.

Start by removing any stems from the buds of cannabis. Discard these. If you are using dried buds, like most people do, you will need to hydrate the buds a bit. Boil a cup of water and add the weed and heat till it soaks up the water. Heat a 1/2 cup whole milk and heavy cream mixture (you could use half and half). Add the cannabis, milk mixture, and almond paste to a mortar and muddle until it becomes one consistent paste in the milk. More muddling doesn't really hurt, it just allows more time to infuse. You may need to do this in stages depending on the size of your mortar. The almonds and the fats in the milk with start to pull out the oil in the plant. Heat 2 cups whole milk mixed with 1/4 cup cream in a pot.

There are a few ways to go from here. You can steep this entire paste in the warm milk and let the flavors all mellow out, which does add some grassy flavor, or you can sort of wash the paste in cheesecloth with the warm milk which is much more labor intensive to get the cannabis effects but does greatly reduce the grassy taste. I personally don't mind a little grassiness so I'll just go with the method we used for this last batch.

Add the weed milk almond paste concentrate to the milk mixture over heat. add the spices and rose water and stir constantly for 30 minutes. Do not let it boil or allow scum to form on the surface. Set up a rig of three layers of cheesecloth over a mesh strainer over a funnel over a sealable bottle. Pour the mixture through the cloth slowly, allowing it to filter into the bottle. Allow this to cool and then squeeze the cloth to extract as much of the fluid as you can. you may want to repeat this filtering process. Chill the bhang. Shake before serving.

 Take note this is exceptionally potent and it takes a while to kick in. Start with no more than a shot glass worth and wait an hour to 90 minutes before taking anymore to gauge the effects. This is a fat based edible so it takes longer for the body to process than smoking.

"We didn't have rehab in the 70's. Back in the 70's, rehab meant you stopped doing coke, but you kept smoking pot and drinking for a couple more weeks."
- Denis Leary

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Milk Punch: Italian Flavor

So, this is my fourth attempt at making milk punch and my third success. For the record, this post is in no way an exact recipe with a glorious final product. It is a process I've been playing with and am still honing. That said, this was a pretty tasty drink. I first heard of the concept when I was in New York City for a bartending conference with the USBG, United States Bartender's Guild. I was actually truly fascinated by the process. It was captivating seeing clear liquid come out of that filter when it started with so many opaque. Let's start with the ingredients and tools you'll need:

6 1/2 oz granulated sugar, 3 - 4 Lemons depending on size, 3 - 4 Limes, 2 Tsp Crushed Pepper, 1/2 tsp Cracked Black Pepper, 1 bag Rooibos Tea, 1 bag Mint Green Tea, 3 sprigs Rosemary, leaves of 3 sprigs of Sage, 1/16 oz. Thyme, 1/2 tsp dried Marjoram, 1/2 tsp dried oregano, 3 oz. Amaro del Capo, 9 oz. Gin, 20 oz. Milk

Mixing bowl, muddler, measuring spoons, measuring cup, at least 2 large pots buckets or bowls, a chinois, enough cheese cloth to line the chinois 4 times over (I used 28 x 24 thread count), and lastly a means of bottling the final product

The start to any good punch, in my opinion, is an Oleo Saccharum. Peel two large lemons and two large limes and all your dry ingredients. For the tea bags tear them open and dump them in. The oils and the flavors from the herbs, leaves, and peels will be pulled out by the dried ingredients in a form of osmosis. Everyone has different feedback about how long this process takes. It, of course, depends on the recipe. Some people say that for a standard oleo is takes up to 72 hours to achieve full osmosis. This can be reduced with fancy cryo-vac machines, which I do not own. I only let this sit for 6 hours.

The next step does help infuse the flavor a little faster, though. Add 8 oz of boiling water to the bowl. This is how we make tea. Hot water infused much faster than cold, and much faster than osmosis between the flavors alone. the point is adding all this to the final product so we need to pull as much flavor out as we can without diluting too much. Let this steep, covered, until it settles down to about room temperature. Strain the whole contents of the bowl to a large pot. Rinse the bowl with some of the alcohol to collect any flavors or undissolved sugars. Add 4 oz of lemon juice and 4 oz. lime juice. Stir this around to make sure it's uniform. Next, comes the risky part. 

The milk. Start by heating it and bringing it to a near boil. If it starts to boil, take it off the heat immediately. Trust me it gets messy. Add the hot milk to the pot. The mixture should start to curdle. If it doesn't curdle well, add more citrus. Stir it around a little to let it all bind. You could put this in the fridge and then skim off the curds. I'm told using cheese cloth is not only faster but certainly more reliable at getting all the particulates out. Line the inside of the chinois with several layers of cheesecloth and clamp it to the rim. The more volume you can fit the better. Pour the punch through the strainer. Naturally, have a bowl or a bucket under the strainer to catch it.

The first part of the run will come out slightly cloudy as the curds fasten themselves into the cloth. Once it starts running clear, start cycling the liquid back into the strainer. the more you keep cycling it the cleaner the product will be. Yes, this process does take some time, several hours. I tend to cycle it back in once the flow slows to being drop by drop. Usually, it takes about 3 to 4 full runs. It takes ages the to get those last few drops out. One it's effectively done, take the cloth and lightly squeeze it over another bowl. If it comes out fairly clear, drink it, if you're getting a cloudy liquid out, you can still drink it but it might not taste great if you're getting curd. Next, I just funneled the good stuff into a bottle and stuck it in the fridge to chill. Serve with ice and drink up. You can also cut it with soda, sprite, or sparkling wine. I made my batch over a week ago and it tastes exactly the same. The shelf life is effectively infinite. 
The final product is a clear liquid with a slightly golden brown tint. It is a very herbaceous cocktail. The rosemary and black pepper pop as flavors and it leaves the mouth feeling dry. The alcohol is not too dominant. The dryness does not make it a drink you could drink for hours on end like some of my other punch batches. but it is tasty. The infinite shelf life granted by this process is ideal for a fancy drink you'd have once in a while. Stick a bottle in the fridge and have some every now and then.

“Drinking just to get drunk is like having sex just to get pregnant.”
- Robert Hess