New York Sour.

Start spreadin’ the news…

New York Sour.

You know how it goes; you’ve had some friends over for dinner and at the end of the evening there’s a quarter of a bottle of red wine left over (yes, yes, but let’s just pretend that’s actually true). Options: chug it before bed (looks bad), make a coq au vin (meh) or chuck in the fridge to use the next day in a really nice cocktail? I thought so. The drink in question is a modified Whisky Sour but given the name it should definitely be a bourbon or rye based affair. Because we’re going to add some wine we can boost the lemon and syrup components up to a 2:1:1 ratio and serve it in a double Old Fashioned glass. Since you’re a person of impeccable taste no doubt the leftover wine is something like a nice punchy cabernet sauvignon, merlot or malbec. Oh, good – because we really don’t want a wishy-washy red wine for this. We’re basically just going to make a Whisky Sour at the 2:1:1 ratio and then float some red wine on top. Simple but visually attractive as well as pretty damn tasty. The decision on whether to use egg white (or chickpea juice) or not is yours to make but I prefer my New York Sour without (but my Whisky Sour with). The biggest issue with the New York Sour is how to drink it. There are two options; with a straw, in which case it tastes like a Whiskey Sour followed by a glass of red wine or without a straw, whereby it’s like drinking a glass of red wine followed by a Whiskey Sour. I prefer the third way; ruin the beauty and mix it up. Not pretty but Goldilocks would surely be proud. The combination is just right with the tannic qualities of the wine – this is why we prefer a ballsy one – fusing with the freshness of the Whiskey Sour to create something with a lot more depth and complexity. And using leftovers. Score.

New York Sour.

2oz / 60ml bourbon of choice (or rye if you prefer – it’s more New Yorky).

1oz / 30ml fresh lemon juice.

1oz / 30ml sugar syrup (1:1).

Shake with ice and strain into a DOF glass containing a large block of ice.

Carefully float 0.75oz / 22.5ml of red wine on the surface – using a teaspoon bent into and L-shape makes this pretty easy.

Toast Frank Sinatra (1915-1998). Obviously.


Shake with 0.75oz / 22.5ml of egg white or chickpea juice for a creamy head.

Skip the block of ice, in which case you might need a smaller glass.


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Molly Picon + Amer Picon.

Good golly Miss Molly!

Molly Picon.

I have to admit that I don’t know too much about this drink so let’s engage in a little detective work. I wrote this recipe down quite a while ago from something I read on one of those early internet cocktail databases but the sole mention of it I can find these days is a very spartan entry on CocktailDB. And it isn’t even the same recipe that I have. But all is not lost as we can glean some clues from the cocktail’s name. It turns out Molly Picon was a Polish/American actress so the fact that this drink is named after her should give us an idea of when the drink was created. Pity her career spanned nine decades then. Well at least we know this drink was created between 1904 and 1984 – although if I had to guess I’d say it would be somewhere between her two biggest movie roles; Yiddle with his Fiddle (1936) and Fiddler on the Roof (1971) [I promise I’m not making this up]. It doesn’t look much like a Dark Ages recipe so that narrows it down to “probably” the 1940s-50s. On examination of the recipe – equal parts of gin, sweet vermouth and Amer Picon – we can see a very close similarity to a Negroni as well as the reason for the name of the cocktail. But we’re not going any further without a discussion on the nature of Amer Picon…

Amer Picon.

Amer Picon is a French bitter liqueur in a similar stylee to those great Italian amari the most famous of which is Campari. Picon has strong notes of burnt orange and gentian making it Campari’s long lost French sibling (although they’re definitely not twins). Word has it that the French like to splash a little in their beer or wine to tart it up – and I can confirm that this is indeed a worthwhile endeavour. Wikipedia suggests there are two varieties of Amer Picon but in fact there are three or four. To save you the trouble I’ve tried most of them and promise you that the one you want is the one pictured above and bottled at 21%. Which brings us to the first of Amer Picon’s issues. You see Picon used to be a viscous 39% powerhouse and since the 70s has been somewhat debased down to the 18-21% offerings on sale today. Which brings us to Picon’s second problem. Regretably Picon is not sold very far afield of its home nation [hint to European types: if you want to ingratiate  yourself with an American cocktailian bring them a bottle of Picon]. The Picon desert that is the USA has attempted two solutions to the above problems, the lesser of which is called Tonari Amer (which I’ve not tried but according to the word on the street is a bit meh) and Amer Boudreau. The latter is a home-made version of the original Amer Picon by Seattle startender Jamie Boudreau. Of course I have my own version of Jamie’s version of the original version of Amer Picon but we’re so far down the rabbit hole at this point that I think we should just stop. Check out the Amer Boudreau story (complete with a great cocktail recipe) if you like but otherwise rest assured that the black label 21% Amer Picon remains pretty damn tasty (if a little thin) and should be your #1 shopping list item if visiting France or its closest neighbours.

Molly Picon (Slight Return).

While some drinks need the gusteau of Amer Boudreau, thankfully the Molly Picon isn’t one of them (although it certainly wouldn’t do it any harm) and can be satisfactorially formulated with off-the-shelf Amer Picon black label. It’s a very nice little drink that I’d really, really like to save from extinction so here’s my best guess version of what the Molly Picon should be.

Molly Picon.

1oz / 30ml gin of choice.

1oz / 30ml Amer Picon (or Amer Boudreau).

1oz / 30ml Punt e Mes (or another sweet vermouth).

Stir with ice and strain into a chilled champagne coupé – or, ideally, a chilled Nick & Nora glass as pictured.

Garnish with a lemon twist.

Toast Molly Picon (1898-1992).


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The Martini.

Gin Martini, stirred, not shaken. Suck on that 007.

The Martini.

Creation myths of the Martini are many and varied and we are unlikely to ever find out which of them are true. What we do know is that by the first years of the 20th century the Martini existed as an equal mixture of gin and dry vermouth with a dash of orange bitters and spent the rest of that century getting dryer and dryer. For the uninitiated, the less vermouth the “drier” the Martini. However the definition of a “dry” Martini is somewhat contextual. In 1910 a Dry Martini might have meant two parts gin to one part vermouth but fifty years later it largely meant drinking some chilled gin whilst looking at a bottle of vermouth. A 10:1 ratio was not at this time unheard of and the orange bitters had been quietly dropped. In the 1950s and 1960s the Martini reigned supreme, untroubled by other cocktails and ensconced firmly in the famous three-Martini lunch. The end of the Martini began with James Bond’s “Vodka Martini, shaken not stirred” which was, frankly, not a Martini at all but just try telling that to, well, anyone. By the late Dark Ages almost every drink in the cocktail lexicon had become a [insert fruit flavour]tini. These drinks were evil giant vodka and artificial flavour based monstrosities and the damage to the original stirred gin Martini was pretty much complete. Of course things have improved and those Frankentinis have found their deserved place down the drain of cocktail history. Yet our cocktail revival seems to still be a touch wary of the Martini for reasons that are quite understandable, if none-the-less misplaced. It wasn’t the poor Martini’s fault that it was so horribly debased and we should really cut it a bit more slack – and indeed some enlightened drinkers now are. While to many the Martini may still seem a tad prosaic, the classic Martini appears to be on the verge of reclaiming its rightful place in the cocktail canon. We should also acknowledge many tipplers who have stuck with the Martini through thick and thin, including the Queen of England who reportedly enjoys a dry Martini. Every. Single. Day. In its new found acceptance we see the Martini returning to its early years with preferences looking decidedly “wetter” – 4:1, 3:1, 2:1 and even 1:1 Martini requests (aka the “Fitty-Fitty”) will no longer result in a look of utter disgust from the bartender. And the dash or two of orange bitters is back – largely because you can actually buy orange bitters again after a near total drought in the late 20th century. Furthermore we now have the luxury of a veritable plethora of quality and innovative gins and dry vermouths to endlessly pair up in search of Martini nirvana. For the true Martini is a thing of undeniably pristine, piercing, primordial beauty. It is at once a perfect diamond, a crystal clear mountain stream, the light of the evening star. It is as crisp and pure as the first snow of winter. It is, at once, both demanding yet accessible. Simple yet complex. Egalitarian yet decadent. Whether you’re a stranger to Mr Martini or it’s just a long time since you last spoke, it’s time to put things right. Pick up your favourite dry gin, an excellent dry vermouth and take a step into the past. Or is it the future?

The Martini.

2oz / 60ml quality dry gin of choice (I used Blackwood’s).

0.5oz / 15ml dry vermouth – or anything between 1ml and 2oz. (I used Dolin dry.)

2 dashes orange bitters (I used Regan’s No.6).

Stir well with ice and strain into a well chilled cocktail glass.

Garnish with either a lemon twist or a green olive.

Toast Queen Elizabeth II – keeping the Martini alive, one day at a time, since 1953.

Some notes:

If making your first Martini I suggest a 4:1 ratio. Thereafter adjust to your taste. Make sure your glass is well chilled – preferably having spent at least a few hours in the fridge. In this case do NOT peel the lemon over the glass; we don’t want to be making a Lemontini here. Make sure your vermouth is as fresh as possible. Not. Ever. Vodka.

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The Garnish. Part One + dehydrated citrus wheels

The Golden Age (a work in progress).

Garnish schmarnish.

“So what’s all this garnishing nonsense,” you ask. Ahhh. I’ve been expecting and slightly dreading that question. You’re right of course, it’s something we need to talk about. Now first up I should point out that a) I’m not the most accomplished garnisher and b) I’m a bit opinionated on the subject (no surprise, right?) but if you want my twist on it read on and, as always, I’ll try to reward your patience with a handy shortcut. Oh, you’re still here? Great.

First of all let’s get one thing straight. Garnish and presentation are two different things which shouldn’t be confused. When a fancy-ass cocktail bar serves your drink in a tin can wrapped in brown paper and string that’s presentation (or more likely a gimmick to justify their eye-watering prices). When a bartender serves you a Negroni without its proper garnish – a twist, swathe or slice of orange – that’s a crime against civilisation.

The garnish, while by all means attractive, must primarily be functional. By which I mean it should add something to the flavour profile of a drink. In the example above I’ve garnished my Dutch East Indies Company themed drink with a sprinkling of spices and an orange and clove “Admiral’s hat”. If it looks nice that’s just a happy bonus – each of those ingredients is primarily there to be tasted and or smelled (smell making a big contribution to perceived taste). By far the most common garnish, and the only one we’ll deal with today, is some kind of citrus fruit; in mixed drinks usually a slice or wedge and in cocktails more often a thin slice of peel. Be assured that none of this is just for show. After all, surely everyone agrees that a gin and tonic without a slice of citrus (usually lemon but these days it could just as easily be lime, grapefruit or even yuzu) just doesn’t taste right? But while a slice is nice, the peel is the real deal. The peel of fresh citrus fruit is packed with flavourful oils and the act of cutting those and twisting them releases a surprising amount of flavour that can absolutely change the taste of a drink without watering it down. For maximum effect cut the peel right above the finished drink but be aware that this can give too much oil. For example if you want to add a lemon twist in a delicate drink like a Martini cut your spiral away from the glass or it will overpower it. Those lovely fragrant oils reside on the outermost layer of the peel (the bumpier the surface the better) but the white layer beneath is bitter so try to avoid taking the pith [snare, cymbal]. In general you want as thin a slice as possible and, for those without chef level knife skills, the humble potato peeler is the easiest way to achieve this.

Use of standard issue potato peeler.

Using a knife and going a just little bit into the pith is also fine and gives a more forgiving swathe to work with. Going deep into the pith or as far as the flesh are definitely no-no’s.

Or a small sharp knife. Note increased pithiness.

Once you have your swathe of citrus there are no more rules; trim it, twist it, shape it, skewer it, flame it. Whatever. It’s up to you. Be creative and be assured you’ll quickly get better with practice. All you need it a chopping board and a small sharp knife. I like the one I found in a kitchen supplier which has a full sized grip but a very small sharp blade. It probably has some special cheffy purpose that I’m ignorant of but it’s absolutely idea for garnishing. If you’d like to make very long thin citrus ribbons you could also invest in an inexpensive tool called a channel knife which is easy to use and positively sprays out citrus oil.

Tidy it up a bit – if you can be arsed.

In my opinion (oh, yes, here we go), there is a prevailing tendency to over-garnish (and over-present) these days. My theory for this follows: It’s quite hard to make a decent margin on cocktails compared to beer or wine so good cocktails tend to have a premium price. And if you have a premium price you need to make sure the customer doesn’t have a “Damn, I could just make this myself at home!” moment. Fancy garnishing has a role to play in preventing that idea getting traction (along with esoteric liqueurs and bitters). Well, it’s either that or have another rant at the hipsters and that’s getting a bit old. If you promise not to laugh at my hypocrisy considering my lead picture (cut me some slack – I’m trying to run a blog here and a bit of visual impact does help) I’d advocate keeping things relatively simple and restrained on the garnish front. Except with Tiki. Obviously.

There are few hard and fast rules in garnishland and opinions do vary. For example, I never garnish a Daiquiri – although plenty of people do. A Daiquiri already tastes of fresh lime – at least it f***ing better – so what is the point of a lime wedge on the edge? Exactly. A whisky Old Fashioned on the other hand is quite unfinished without the thin layer of intense orange oil that coats its surface. Ignore garnishing at your peril. Yes, we’ve only covered citrus this time but we’ll get to some other ideas later.

But hang on, did I offer you a shortcut through the garnishing maze? I think I might have:

Dehydrated citrus wheels: garnishing lite.

The problem with citrus garnishes are that they really can’t be prepared in advance as citrus peel loses it zing amazingly quickly after being separated from the fruit. And that sucks if you’re having a cocktail party. While they’re not the exactly the same thing as a fresh twist, dehydrated citrus wheels are a pretty acceptable substitute that cover much of the same ground. Carefully dried citrus becomes very sweet, very strong and, better yet, very stable, yet when remoisturised (yes, in a drink) releases its essence with aplomb. And you can chew on them. You can buy a dehydrator which will do the job of sucking the moisture out of your citrus wheels over the course of several hours. But that’s not how we roll is it? Especially as we already have a perfectly good dehydrator in our kitchen. Non-cocktailiens call it an “oven”. If you have an oven with a low enough setting – and preferably a fan – you’re sorted. The process is only a few minutes work, even if it takes all day:


Before breakfast slice some citrus of your choice as thinly as you can (about 1-2mm) with a very sharp knife. Spread them out evenly on a drying rack with a tray beneath to catch any drips. Set your oven on the fan setting and about 50ºC or thereabouts and slam in the fruit. Gently. Turn each slice over around lunch time – or don’t, it probably doesn’t matter that much. By early evening you should have some nice dehydrated fruit wheels that are completely dry to the touch but not “cooked”. Taste one. Wow – right? To be honest the timing is a bit oven-dependent so take note of the required time and temperature it takes to achieve total dryness the first time you try this and use those settings in future. That way you can  run a batch overnight or while you’re at work once you have those timings down. A nice bonus is that your kitchen will smell amazing.


If properly dried and stored in a cool dry place in a zip-loc bag they are fine for about a month. Thereafter they start to brown a bit and – while very probably still safe – start to look a bit gnarly. I prefer to chuck those I haven’t used after a week or two in the freezer. That way you always have some handy and they only take seconds to defrost at room temperature.

…and only a few hours later!

As you can see I’ve used limes in these pictures but in my experience any citrus fruit dries at the same rate if sliced to the same thickness so you can even dry different fruits at the same time. Use them however you see fit – but they do float quite nicely.

Freeeeeedom! Drop a slice in your Angle Park or Negroni.







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The Sun King.

Sun King treasure.

The Sun King.

Cognac is a wonderful spirit that I don’t feel is getting used enough these days. Especially as in the early days of the cocktail cognac was the de rigueur mixing spirit. Let’s put things right with a new cognac cocktail. Now it might seem to some that cognac is too good to mix with. Those “some” being those who enjoy sipping on a pricey snifter of VSOP or XO after a good meal and frankly, I totally agree. But fortunately the oft overlooked younger VS cognac is an excellent mixer that turns all it touches to silk and, at least in these parts, costs about the same as a bottle of standard issue Jacky D – or even less if you watch out for special offers like a thrifty Scotsman.

Anyway, if we’re going to create an new cognac drink – and we most certainly are – it seems to me that we should go all out French. It should be a drink fit for a king. A French king. Like Louis XIV. Who they called the Sun King. And who once visited Château de Chambord and tried their famous black raspberry liqueur. Which is also not used nearly enough. But that would be a bit sweet so we’d need something bitter to balance it. Something French. Like Suze. See, some drinks just invent themselves. All we have to do is balance it and then fine tune it. And this drink proves responsive to some standard approaches; a couple of dashes of orange bitters and a thin slice of lemon peel. I must say that I’m rather partial to this drink. While the main ingredients combine together very well there are also times where it seems like one of them tries to elbow its way to the front for a moment only to be pulled back by another one. Maybe it’s a French thing.

The Sun King.

2oz / 60ml VS cognac (I find Courvoisier rather good in the VS department).

0.75oz / 22.5ml Suze.

0.5oz / 15ml Chambord.

2 dashes of orange bitters.

Stir with ice and strain into a chilled champagne coupé*.

Garnish with a slice of lemon peel.

Toast Louis XIV (1643 – 1715) for sheer tenacity if nothing else.

*By the way American friends, it’s pronounced “Koo-pay“, not “Koop“. That’s a place you keep chickens.

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The Sultan.

Full of eastern promise. And whisky.

The Sultan.

The avid cocktailien must keep his/her eyes peeled at all times. Case study: Recently I was in my local Turkish grocer picking up my kofta supplies and while waiting my turn my eyes wandered over the shelves packed with eastern wares. Date syrup? Pomegranate juice? Orange flower water? Hang on – this is starting to sound like a recipe! I grab the lot as well as a couple of lemons – time to get to work! Given these slightly “exotic” ingredients I decide I want to approach this drink from a Tiki direction but I don’t want to use rum this time. Let’s go somewhere that Tiki has seldom dared: Scotch. Tiki is well used to blending two or more rums to create the right flavour and body balance. It strikes me as a little strange that we don’t do that with other spirits, usually relying on just a single base spirit. I love to work with smoky heavily peated Scotch single malt whisky but they can be overwhelming when used alone. Combining such a spirit with a mild blended whisky would be much like blending a a Demerara rum with a white Cuban rum – an everyday occurrence in the Tiki genre. Let’s do it. We have some strong flavours and well as citrus juice so shaking hard with crushed ice will give us a little extra dilution and maximum chillage. Keeping true to the Tiki theme is an added bonus. Even though the amounts of pomegranate juice and date syrup are small they give a wonderful deep red colour to the drink. A few drops of orange flower water floated (or sprayed) on top release a wonderful exotic aroma.

We’ll need a name. We want to connect Scotland to Turkey and also embody the rich luxuriousness of this drink. Well it turns out the “last” Sultan, Abdul Hamid II, visited Queen Victoria at Balmoral in the Scottish Highlands in 1867 – exactly 150 years ago. Jackpot – ding, ding, ding! The Sultan it is then.*

Sultan Hamid II at Balmoral in 1867.

The Sultan.

1oz / 30ml peated single malt Scotch whisky (I used Finlaggan).

1oz / 30ml mild blended whisky (I used Johnnie Walker Red Label).

0.75oz / 22.5ml fresh lemon juice.

0.5oz / 15ml date syrup†.

0.5oz /15ml pomegranate juice (100% juice, no added sugar).

Shake well with crushed ice and pour unstrained into a DOF glass or similar sized glass.

Float or spray about 6 drops of orange flower water on top.

Serve or garnish with a chunk of Turkish delight.

Toast Turkish grocers everywhere.

†Date syrup is sticky stuff. Use a small teaspoon to get all of it out of your measure and stir it in with the other ingredients prior to shaking.

*To be clear I’m not in any way suggesting that the Sultan partook of the Highland waters. The name simply reflects a link between two lands.

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The Japanese Cocktail + home-made orgeat.

Japanese Cocktail; new style.

The Japanese Cocktail.

Appearing in the first ever cocktail book – Jerry Thomas’ Bartenders Guide (sic) of 1862 (#113, page 51) – the Japanese Cocktail is a curious drink. Although this hallowed tome contains almost 500 recipes only a handful are cocktails as such and the Japanese Cocktail is one of those few. As was usual in early books the author tells us nothing more than the recipe but cocktail historian David Wondrich has a theory that goes something like this: Shortly before the publication of Bartenders Guide Japan opened up its previously insular culture and sent some diplomats to New York. It happened that they stayed quite close to Jerry’s bar (and Jerry T. was something of a superstar in those days). While the diplomats were presumably the usual stuffy crusty old types their much younger translator was a certain Tateishi Onojirou Noriyuki who was better known as “Tommy” (well, duh!) and was apparently quite popular with the New York ladies. Wondrich hypothesizes that Tommy was a regular at Jerry’s bar and that the Japanese Cocktail was either made for him or in honour of him. So far, so good. We like an ancient cocktail with a good back-story. We also like a nicely balanced cocktail which the Japanese certainly is not:

As printed in Bartenders Guide 1862 (copyright expired).

So unless Bogart’s long-extinct bitters were the most bitter substance ever created or 19th century orgeat was much less sweet than today we are left with a seriously unbalanced cocktail. Bummer. However, I’ve recently noticed a (new?) trend of rehabilitating the Japanese Cocktail by adding a little lime juice to turn it into a more balanced sour style drink and serving it “up”. Count me in. To make it even more specialer use some delicious home-made orgeat, the recipe for which follows thereafter. Those interested in perusing old cocktail books should note that the 19th century “wine glass” used to measure spirits was quite small – around 2oz / 60ml.

Japanese Cocktail.

2oz / 60ml Cognac (VS is fine, VSOP if you want to be a bit flash).

0.5oz / 15ml orgeat (preferably home-made as detailed below).

0.5oz / 15ml fresh lime juice.

2-4 dashes of aromatic bitters.

Shake with ice and double strain into a chilled champagne coupé.

Garnish with lemon peel.

Toast Tommy and Jerry.

Home-made orgeat.

Turn this…

Orgeat is an almond flavoured syrup. Depending on where you live, you should be able to buy orgeat – Monin brand is decent and widely available – but it’s much tastier to make your own. There are many recipes online that involve using whole almonds and while I’m sure they are great they are also quite labour intensive. The method below is simple, tasty and pretty stable – if made correctly. The trick is to use almond milk instead of whole almonds but you need to be sure to use the best you can find; certainly unsweetened and preferably organic. If you still have a choice go for the one with the highest percentage of almonds in the ingredients list. The recipe is simple but don’t be tempted to skip the blending stage or your syrup will separate, which is annoying. That apart the orgeat seems to keep extremely well in the fridge.

…into this.


300ml almond milk (see above).

400g fine white sugar.

Warm (not boil) together in a clean pan and stir until smooth.


0.5oz / 15ml almond extract.

0.5oz / 15ml orange flower/blossom water.

Allow to cool then blend at high speed for at least 30 seconds.

Store in sterilised bottle.



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The Black Watch.

All right, so you noticed that’s not Black Watch tartan. It’s as close as I could get. Don’t tell anyone.

The Black Watch.

Since it’s St Andrew’s day – Scotland’s national day – I thought I might post something appropriate. Named after a Scottish military unit, The Black Watch is a variation of my own Lord Lucan. I changed the ingredients and proportions slightly and was looking for an excuse to test my newest bottle of bitters. I’m not usually a big fan of Fee’s bitters but I’d heard good things about their Black Walnut bitters. And very nice they are too, giving a pleasant nutty woodiness to all they touch. If you’re a bitter fan I’d recommend them but if you just want to make a Black Watch you could go without or use a dash of good old Angostura. This drink is deep and dark yet still allows the flavour of the whisky to shine through. Hopefully it’s more accessible than its twin brother as Averna is usually more available than Lucano. Ramazzotti would also work as they are quite close in profile – I’d call Averna “earthier” and Ramazzotti “brighter”. You could certainly try a different Scotch and a good blend such as Johnnie Walker Black Label or even a young malt would be perfectly at home in this mix. In general, Scotch, amari, sweet vermouth and bitters are a combination that can be very rewarding to experiment with so let’s hear those mixing glasses clinking!

The Black Watch.*

2oz / 60ml Scotch (I used Monkey Shoulder).

0.75oz / 22.5ml Averna (or Ramazzotti – see text).

0.5oz / 15ml Punt e Mes (or a lesser sweet vermouth if you must).

2 dashes Fee’s Black Walnut bitters (or 1 dash Angostura).

Stir with ice and strain into a DOF glass containing a big chunk of clear ice.

Garnish with a twist of lemon peel.

Toast The Black Watch – marching around in kilts since 1725.

*Yes, I am aware of an existing drink of the same name. If you’d rather drink a mixture of Scotch, Kahlua and soda be my guest. I’m reclaiming the name from the Dark Ages.

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Daisy Duke.

As served at the Boar’s Nest.

Daisy Duke.

A daisy is a largely forgotten class of cocktail that is made by adding a little soda water to a sour style cocktail. Everyone loves a daisy but when I was twelve years old the Daisy I was in love with was on my TV screen every weekend. I expect we won’t be seeing much more of The Dukes of Hazzard due to Daisy’s cousins flying around Hazzard county in a whip positively dripping with controversial symbolism. Still, I decided that if I was going to make a daisy it would have to be one that honoured Catherine Bach’s character from those halcyon days. This should have been a fairly easy brief – Southern, feminine, bourbon based – but the profile I was looking for proved stubbornly elusive. I almost gave up a couple of times but persistence eventually paid off and with a bit of inspiration from Donn Beach and Sasha Petraske I settled on the honey and passion fruit syrup combo for the sweet component – which fit perfectly on every level. Think of it as kind of Southern country bourbon lemonade. You could use any decent bourbon but I like to use Four Roses Small Batch because; a) it’s a really nice bourbon that works well in this drink, b) it fits the “sweetheart” brief perfectly and c) I got a load of it dirt cheap. The Daisy D, being a rather fun and tongue-in-cheek cocktail is a prime candidate for the jam jar shake but it can be made just as easily in a shaker with crushed (or even cubed) ice. Friends who liked this drink suggested I branch out with a whole family of variations. I’m thinking maybe a Jesse Duke with rye instead of bourbon. Y’all got any other suggestions?

Daisy Duke.

2oz / 60ml bourbon (I like to use Four Roses Small Batch).

1oz / 30ml fresh lemon juice.

0.5oz / 15ml honey syrup (3:1)*.

0.5oz / 15ml passion fruit syrup*.

1oz / 30ml soda water.

Shake with crushed ice in a jam jar.

Toast Catherine Bach who played Daisy Duke from 1979 – 1985.

*Details on syrups here.



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Terrible Love.

Terrible Love (and I’m walking with spiders.)

Terrible Love.

I recently created a drink named after a song by The National but it seems I’m not the only one to have done so. I was perusing my new copy of the Death & Co cocktail book* when I noticed this recipe which has the same name as the opening track on The National’s 2010 album High Violet. Furthermore the book has a useful page on flavour combinations, one of which is mezcal and Suze which I had already been fiddling with myself and is the salient combo of the Terrible Love. How could I resist?Created by Phil Ward in 2013 the Terrible Love is quite straightforward; a mezcal base, Suze for a bitter component and sweet elderflower liqueur for balance. A dash of orange bitters and a grapefruit twist add just a touch more complexity. As we know mezcal is a very dominant spirit and in this case Phil has deliberately let its unique character shine through giving us a drink that doesn’t try to be something that it’s not. If you don’t like mezcal you won’t like the Terrible Love but if you do this cocktail is a great delivery system for your favourite mezcal. And in my case that would be Los Siete Misterios Doba-Yej although the original nominates Del Maguey Chichicapa. But let’s talk a little more about Death & Co’s book. Big, black and square (that’s it under the glass in the photo) to be honest it’s annoyingly unwieldy but that aside if you are looking for an all in one modern cocktail book that covers all bases and gives an insight into a modern cocktail bar you need look no further. Your basics of tools, technique and recipes are all there but what is invaluable is the window into the philosophy and energy that make Death & Co one of the top cocktail bars in the world.

Terrible Love.

1.5oz / 45ml high quality mezcal (no worm).

0.75oz / 22.5ml Suze.

0.5oz / 15ml elderflower liqueur (eg. St Germain or Fiorente).

1 dash orange bitters.

Stir with ice and strain into a DOF glass containing a large chunk of clear ice.

Garnish with a grapefruit twist.

Toast Phil Ward of Death & Co, New York.

*Thanks Franco and Qristina!

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