1 1/2 oz old tom gin (we use ransom)

1 oz amaro nonino

1/2 oz lillet blanc

2 dashes orange bitters

stir over ice and strain into a chilled martini shell.  orange zest garnish.

the result of a bartender challenge from some regulars tonight.  the gentleman in question wanted something with amaro nonino, maybe gin-based, he wasn’t sure.  nonino has a strong nuttiness in addition to the expected bitter notes, and is sweet but not too sweet.  it’s one of my favorites to sip on, though i haven’t used it in many cocktails.  i thought it might play nicely with the malty notes of the old tom, and it did, but that old tom is some powerful stuff, and the cocktail needed some softening; hence the lillet, which i’ve always found very useful for that sort of thing (since before st. germain was cool).  the couple dashes of orange bitters gives it a hint of acid without actually adding any acidity; same with the orange zest garnish.

the end result is a strong, floral cocktail, with some bitter notes playing with the vegetal characteristics of the gin, held just barely in check by the lillet and the orange, so that while it threatens to overwhelm the drinker’s palate, it never quite does.  seemed to work pretty well for the folks i made them for.  after the first one went out, i ended up making three or four more.

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friend’s girlfriend (or girlfriend’s friend)

1 1/2 oz plum gin

1/2 oz st. germain

1/4 oz simple syrup

2 slices cucumber


muddle 1 slice cucumber, top with ice.  add ingredients and stir.  strain into a chilled martini shell and garnish with the other cucumber slice.


as you might guess from the name, this is a girly drink (it’s even pink, for cryin’ out loud).  the plum gin’s really gentle to begin with (the fruit takes a lot of the astringency out of the gin), and st. germain will brighten up anything you put it in.  the additional simple syrup helps with that, but the cucumber rescues it from being too insipid, cutting into all that sugar with a little vegetal bitterness.  in all i was pleased, as was the aforementioned friend’s girlfriend, who had three of them.

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summer camp

3/4 oz cherry heering*

3/4 oz root liquor

3/4 ramazzotti amaro



combine in a tall glass over ice and top with soda.  cherry garnish


tastes like innocence and sunshine, if by that i mean cherry coke, which in this case i do.  original name was a popped cherry coke, but i decided that was a touch vulgar. we just got the root liquor in the bar not long ago (it tastes like root beer or, if i have the story right, root beer tastes like it), and i’ve been wanting to find something fun to do with it.  bit on the sweet side, at least for my usual mixological bent, but even i have a place in my heart for fufu drinks that don’t taste like alcohol sometimes.


*in the bar, i’ve been using bourbon we were soaking cherries in for the last three months, but honestly it’s six of one, half dozen of the other in this case.

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lost in new york

1 1/2 oz rye whiskey

1/2 oz sweet vermouth

1/2 oz averna

1/2 oz orange juice

2 dashes orange bitters


combine over ice and stir.  strain into a chilled martini shell.  orange zest garnish.


this has become my go-to when someone asks me (as often they do) for something like a manhattan, but different.  it’s about halfway between a bronx and a brooklyn (or my recollection of same, which may or may not be fuzzy), with averna standing in for the amer picon, which is no longer available in washington (and maybe the us).  it’s a nice compromise, at any rate, round where a manhattan is spiky, but with enough extra character, thanks to the averna, to keep things interesting.

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slow burn tequila

3 oranges, sliced thin

2 cinnamon sticks

2 ruby peppers

3 fresno peppers, sliced


combine with roughly two bottles of white tequila.  soak for 4-5 days.  any more and the spice gets out of hand.

i’m really happy with how this one came out.  the orange and cinnamon form a lovely bridge between the smoke and spice of the tequila and the medium-hot spice plateau the peppers take you to.  it’s nice, in that it levels out just when you think it’s going to get too hot, and stays with you for just a minute or two before it dissipates, leaving a lingering warmth in the belly.

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plum gin

1 lb plums

2 bottles gin


pit and slice plums.  combine with gin.  takes about 2 weeks.  delightful stuff.  the plum balances out the astringency of the gin and plays well with the botanicals.

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belle epoque

2 oz plum gin

1/4 oz maraschino

1/4 oz cynar

combine over ice.  stir and strain into a chilled martini shell.

lemon zest garnish.

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summer fall

1 1/2 oz cucumber vodka

1/2 oz aperol

3/4 oz lime juice

1/2 oz simple

brut sparkling wine


combine vodka, simple, and lime over ice in a chimney.

top with prosecco, stir to mix.  drizzle aperol over top.

no garnish.


today was supposedly the last warm day, so i wanted something summeresque for my cocktail special tonight (also, i wanted to move some cucumber vodka), but that was boozy enough for cooler weather.  this is what i came up with.

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frankenstein’s monster

1 1/2 oz cinnamon-apple tequila

1/2 oz fermented bean paste

1/4 oz garlic-ginger soy sauce

1/2 oz lime juice

2 cucumber slices

ginger beer


combine all over ice.  shake and strain over fresh ice in a salt-rimmed bucket.


what do you do when someone wants a savory drink and you don’t feel like making a bloody mary?  well, if you’re me, you throw together something like the above, a one-time pad of a cocktail that existed for about an hour last night and will likely never exist again.  not that it was bad; it was actually kind of good.  but the cinnamon-apple tequila was just an experiment, for one thing, and though i’ll likely mess around with it some more it’s unlikely i’ll make it quite so spicy as it was (man, was it spicy; a little crushed red pepper goes a long way).  and while i’ve been wanting to try and integrate some of revel’s sauce quartet into my cocktails, i think the fermented bean paste might be a bridge too far for most people (though savory girl liked it pretty well, and so did i).

on the plus side, i did manage to sell that tequila, which i was not expecting i would, since it was so spicy and i didn’t tell anybody about it (i mean, besides the internet, and who reads that?), but savory girl’s friend asked if i had some spicy tequila lying around, and lo and behold, i did.

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southern belle

1 1/2 oz vodka

3/4 oz cherry heering (can substitute cherry juice)

3/4 oz lemon juice

1/2 oz simple syrup

4-5 drops vanilla extract


combine all over ice.  shake and strain over fresh ice into a bucket or chimney.

garnish with lemon and cherry.


a basic variation on the porch rockin’ punch, made for a lady who usually drank vodka and cranberry but wanted something different.  i’m told she was pleased; her date did all the negotiating, and paid as well.  you’re welcome, dude.  hope it worked out.

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