Cocktail Advent 28: Winter Warmth

Image via Whiskey Blue at W Los Angeles

Image via Whiskey Blue at W Los Angeles


  • 2 oz Old Forester Bourbon
  • .25 oz Pomegranate Molasses
  • .5 oz Simple Syrup
  • .5 oz Fresh Lime Juice
  • 1 dash of Angostura Bitters

Pour a splash of Absinthe in a rocks glass and then pour out (in and out repeatedly) and add ice. Pour all other ingredients into a shaker into the rocks glasses over ice with the interior of the glasses lined with the Absinthe. Garnish with a twist.

No, it’s not just the alcohol making that sentence seem wrong–I think something got lost in translation when it was sent to me. Try this, instead:

Rinse a rocks glass with Absinthe just to coat and discard the rest. Fill the rocks glass with ice. Combine the bourbon, molasses, syrup, lime juice, and bitters in a cocktail shaker over ice and shake vigorously. Strain the cocktail into the waiting rocks glass and garnish with a twist.

Why strain out the ice in the shaker when you’re just pouring the cocktail over ice anyway? Unless you’ve got an ice shortage going on, you always want to use fresh ice for your drinks. The ice that’s in the shaker has been agitated and is already starting to melt. That’s good for a prescribed amount of water mixing into the cocktail, but you don’t want to over-dilute the completed drink, either. The ice cubes in the glass will hold up longer since you’re pouring an already-chilled mix over them.

***This recipe was submitted by a representative of Whiskey Blue at W Los Angeles. I am not affiliate with the establishment, nor was I compensated for this post. As always, we encourage responsible refreshment and the use of the Designated Driver. No drunken monkeys, please!***

Cocktail Advent 27: Holiday Spice


Continuing our calendar of libations through to the end of the month, here’s one good for sipping along with friends in front of the fire or pairing with all those yummy leftovers.

Image via Basil Hayden

Image via Basil Hayden

Basil Hayden’s® Holiday Spice
(by Joaquín Simó)


  • 2 parts Basil Hayden’s® Bourbon
  • 3/4 parts Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 part Maple Syrup
  • 1/4 part Amaretto
  • 3 dashes Angostura® bitters


  1. Combine Basil Hayden¹s®, lemon juice, maple syrup, Amaretto and bitters in a mixing tin with ice and shake vigorously.
  2. Strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice.
  3. Grate a cinnamon stick over the top as garnish


 ***This recipe was submitted by a representative of Basil Hayden®. I am not affiliated with this brand nor was I compensated for this post, not even with review samples. As always, we support responsible refreshment and the use of the Designated Driver. No drunken monkeys, please!***

Cocktail Advent 8: Spiced Apple Brew


Sure, this recipe was actually sent to me for a Halloween promotion, but a good apple cider(ish) drink can carry you through the entire winter season in fine form and I think this one would work well cold, as presented, or sans ice and on the warm side.

Image via Basil Hayden

Image via Basil Hayden

Basil Hayden’s® Spiced Apple Brew
Created by Thomas Waugh (New York, NY)


  • 1 ½ parts Basil Hayden’s® Bourbon
  • 1 ½ parts cool Lapsang Souchong Black Tea
  • 1 part Apple Juice
  • ½ part Lemon Juice
  • ½ part Simple Syrup
  • 1 dash Angostura® Bitters
  • 1 slice of Ginger
  • 1 Apple
  • 2-3 sprigs of Mint


1. Muddle small slice of fresh ginger in a cocktail shaker.
2. Add Basil Hayden’s® Bourbon, black tea, apple juice, lemon juice, simple syrup and bitters over ice and shake.
3. Strain into a tall highball glass over fresh ice.
4. Garnish with a fan of apple slices and mint sprigs.

***This recipe was submitted by a representative of Basil Hayden. I am not affiliated with the brand nor was I compensated for this post, not even with review samples. As always, we encourage responsible refreshment and the use of the Designated Driver. No drunk monkeys, please!***

AlcoHOLidays | Repeal Day | Good Clean Fun


Good Clean Fun cocktail for Repeal Day, December 5

From 1920 to 1933, the United States was technically dry, minus a few loopholes and a helluva lot of bootleggers.

See, the temperance movement thought that many of society’s ills would be cured if drinking were just outlawed. And even though President Wilson tried to veto it, Congress used their 2/3 vote to overrule him and they signed the 18th Amendment into existence, banning the sale, importation, or exportation of intoxicating spirits throughout the country. For the curious the intoxicating spirit threshold was .5% alcohol.

Now, the funny thing about number 18 was that it didn’t make consuming alcohol illegal, just the making, buying, and selling. So folks in the know stocked up big-time before the Volstead Act took effect on January 16, 1920. And even the making of spirits wasn’t completed forbidden–individuals could brew fruit-based wines and ciders for personal consumption and vineyards took to selling grape concentrates to facilitate just those measures with packaging that told folks exactly what not to do if they didn’t want their reconstituted grape juice to ferment. Wink wink.

Of course the hope that banning alcohol would immediately dissuade folks towards drinking backfired spectacularly. To many the law made absolutely no sense and it ruined a lot of faith in both the government and the police forces tasked with enforcing the new law. And then there was the not-so-small matter of the government losing out on all that taxable revenue now that all sales were under the table.

It took 13 years for folks to see the light. Thirteen years of bootleggers, speakeasies, and increased crime rates (instead of the hoped-for lessening). Prohibition was repealed on December 5, 1933, by the ratification of the 21st Amendment.

Good Clean Fun

1 sugar cube
Angostura Bitters
1 3/4 oz Gin
3/4 oz Limoncello
strips of citrus zest for garnish

Drip enough drops of the bitters onto the sugar cube to “soak” it and place it in the bottom of a low-ball or small cocktail glass. Combine the gin and limoncello over ice and stir until thoroughly chilled (10 to 15 turns should do it). Strain the chilled alcohol over the  sugar cube and add a couple strips of citrus zest to the drink, swirling it to start the sugar dissolving.

Soaking a sugar cube in bitters is a long-standing tradition of blending the savory and the sweet in drinks. And while cocktails were around two decades before the U.S. tried their little “Noble Experiment”, the trend to drink good alcohol neat was problematic when you were dealing with the low-quality and sometimes dangerous concoctions that served for spirits in speakeasies, hence the many mixers of Prohibition-era cocktials.

The term bathtub gin refers to grain alcohol flavored with various items (like juniper) and topped off with water from the bathtub spigot (as the bottles were apparently too tall to fit easily under the kitchen faucet)–so the story goes. In this cocktail I use gin as an homage to those dark days but pick a good one. Limoncello, while not tied to Prohibition per se, appealed to me in the vein of making lemonade out of lemons. Limoncello make take longer (though not 13 years, thank goodness), but it’s certainly tasty.

We all know full well that drinking without discretion or moderation can lead to some very bad things. Anything from bad choices of who to go home with to DUI-accidents to diseases of various sorts can befall someone who drinks too much or too often (or both). But a well-made cocktail really is, in my opinion, good clean fun.


50 Shots of America–Maine

Bitter Berry

Have a drink with Louie the Lobster (a leftover party favor from my 30th birthday party where he and his buddies were Crawfish Impersonators--it was a Bayou-themed party)

The Pine Tree State became the 23rd state of the Union on March 15, 1820, as part of the Missouri Compromise in order to balance the number of slave and free states. Before that, Maine was part of Massachusetts.

Edna St. Vincent Millay, the first woman to receive the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, was a native of Maine and wrote one of my favorite poems ever (and I’m not much for poetry)

First Fig

My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends–
It gives a lovely light!

It described me well, then, when I first read it in high school and still fits pretty well. Anyone who “likes to stay busy,” sometimes to the point of exhaustion, can probably relate.

She isn’t, of course, the only poet or author or “somebody” to live in or be from Maine, (the list is long and includes Stephen King, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Andrew Wyeth, Jonathan Frakes, Patrick Dempsey, and a whole bunch of folks whose names I don’t recognize but probably should) but she’s probably my favorite so far.

Bitter Berry

3/4 oz Gin
3/4 oz Cranberry Juice
1/2 oz Blueberry-infused Vanilla Vodka*
1 drop Angostura Bitters

*Soak a heaping tablespoon of dried blueberries in 4 oz Vanilla Vodka for a minimum of 2 hours. Muddling some of the berries increases the finished flavor.

Combine over ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled cordial glass and garnish with three of the plumped blueberries on a toothpick.

I normally don’t go for garnishes on these little drinks but the blueberries are significant as well as the toothpick itself: Maine is the main exporter of both blueberries and toothpicks, producing 20 million of the latter each day at the Strong Wood Products in Strong, Maine.

And don’t be fooled by the name–this drink isn’t actually bitter. Tart, yes, with a strong flavor from the gin, alone, but Bitters tend to enhance and warm the flavor of a drink. Plus, there’s a common ingredient between Angostura Bitters and the state beverage, Moxie: gentian root. I would have named the drink Wild Moxie but the company sued a neighboring state’s soda company for infringement for having the name Modox–I’m just not going to go there!