Saturday, December 22, 2012

Sloe and Frosty

Here’s a winter woods number we’ve been enjoying for several nights here at the Lounge. Juniper, sloe and blackberry combine to form some imaginary fruit only found in those millpond snow scenes on Christmas cards—and for some reason, in dental offices.

Sloe and Frosty
  • 2 oz gin
  • 1/2 oz sloe gin
  • 1/4 oz blackberry brandy
  • 1/2 oz lime juice
  • 2 dashes Fee Bros orange bitters
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

MxMo LXVIII: Humbug!—Snakebite

Mixology Monday logo
A big Fogged In thank-you to JFL of Rated R Cocktails for braving the hazards of the season to host a Mixology Monday. His theme is “Humbug!” After an evening on the town trying to find a friendly beer or two in a San Francisco filled with smug, banal, poorly socialized revelers, “humbug” seems about right.

JFL invites us to “create or find a drink that is Anti-Holiday Season, or personifies your favorite Holiday Villain.” After last night, I might just become a holiday villain myself, but maybe it’s wiser to retreat with an anti-holiday drink instead. Behold the classic Snakebite. No fake cheer here—just cider and lager. To dress it up a little, I served it with an evil clown. Everything’s better with an evil clown.

Shandy, nonic 20 imperial oz pint glass

  • 1 part beer
  • 1 part cider
Built in a pint glass.

Samuel Smith’s Organic Lager and Crispin Natural Hard Apple Cider combine in a tasty, undemanding pint, good for drowning out those awful voices of the nitwits all around you. Humbug!

Special thanks to Dave Hauslein and everyone at Healthy Spirits for gamely playing along, as always.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Blackberry Manhattan

Greeting, folks. Time once again for the midwinter festivities. Grab that bourbon and follow along for yet another Manhattan cocktail variation. I find blackberry brandy so warming, don’t you? A lovely purple reassurance that I’m not a bad Santa after all—more of a slightly tired holiday ambassador, only too happy to share thoughts on the beautiful things in this life that make it worth living. But you’ll have to sit down here with me by the refrigerator so I don’t have to shout. Perfectly clean here on the floor. Make yourself at home. My blackberry liqueur is under guard in a temperature controlled environment—not unlike my brain. Both reveal Yuletide secrets to those willing to listen. Special secrets. (Where’s that glass? So far away.)

Honestly, I’m not sure where I first noticed the Blackberry Manhattan, though the version on the Leopold Bros site makes reference to a swell-sounding product I have yet to try, Blackberry Whiskey. Mine’s a bit closer to the Tim Knittle version, a noble creation. I present my version simply as a spontaneous riff on the very good idea of blackberry and bourbon together.

Blackberry Manhattan
  • 2 oz bourbon (Buffalo Trace)
  • 1/2 oz sweet vermouth (Dolin)
  • 1 barspoon blackberry brandy (Leopold Bros blackberry liqueur)
  • 1 dash Fee Bros Old Fashion Aromatic Bitters
  • Lemon twist
Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Do the twist.

Sort of a fuller, rounder Manhattan on the front, the blackberry comes in subtly as the drink develops, reminiscent of those blackberry or currant fruit gums I loved as a kid. A fine way to kick off the season.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Banana Colada

The banana: aromatic, starchy, ubiquitous. There is a race to rescue this important agricultural product from Panama disease, in case you didn’t know—pretty freaky, and a disturbingly apt metaphor for our time. I probably eat a dozen of the things a week, and would be at a total loss without them. That said, the banana’s a slightly strange drink ingredient, reducing your cocktail to a sort of alcoholic baby food. But the perfume of the banana has an allure irresistible—so much that I can’t help but try to make it work in various iterations.

Take the Banana Colada. According to the recipes I’ve found, this is a Piña Colada with banana in it. That sounds swell but I had hoped for a more direct banana-coconut relationship. Typically, these things are rarely as you imagine them, even on a Saturday with lots of planning and a guaranteed ride home. Nevertheless, I have whipped up, for your delectation, a pineapple-free Banana Colada. It does not quite have the merits of a fine Piña Colada but it is not a Piña Colada either, as far as that goes.

Special ingredients ingredients for this colada experiment: some homemade crème de banane—easy to do, even on a week night—and a little Licor 43.

Frozen drink

Banana Colada
  • 2 1/2 oz gold Puerto Rican rum
  • 1 oz crème de banane (Serious Eats recipe)
  • 1/2 oz Licor  43
  • 2 oz Thai coconut milk
  • 1 ripe banana, sliced
  • 8 oz crushed ice
Blend at high speed about a minute. Banana, cherry, nutmeg garnish. Coconut mug.

I used Barrilito for the rum, which seemed a little woodier than I would’ve liked with the rawness of the fruit, but worked better as the drink had a little time to develop. I’m still not entirely won over by the starchiness of the smoothie cocktail concept, but this was highly drinkable. Those juice bars really ought to offer rum as an option. Now that would be a boost.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Rum Runner

Drinks that call for crème de banane had been far down on my list for a long time because the commercial bottlings available looked suspiciously like scented lamp oil. But in a moment of wild abandon, I ordered a Rum Runner with a friend while in Nevada and was ruined forever. It was a bubble gum flavored orgy of ecstatic perversion. “Banana! Banana!” I demanded, stamping my gorilla feet.

Luckily, it’s really easy to make crème de banane, as this Serious Eats recipe demonstrates. I pretty much just followed the recipe, waiting until my bananas were at the peak of aroma, and using Mount Gay Eclipse Silver for the base. I also add a few drops of vanilla extract for complexity. Worked great.

The Rum Runner recipe itself presented a few problems. All the ones I saw in my drink book library were blended. The ones my buddy and I got were made with bar ice. More importantly, they were made with things I wouldn’t touch with a barge pole if shopping for the house. How can you lose all dignity with a shelf full of only the good stuff? Well, that’s where we aim for the chopping block here at the old Fogged In Lounge. Below are a couple of craft Rum Runners that should toss you on the seas of dementia.

Rum Runner #1
  • 1 oz Bacardi 151
  • 1 oz crème de banane (homemade)
  • 1 oz blackberry brandy (Leopold Bros)
  • 1/2 oz grenadine (Small Hand Foods)
  • 1 1/oz lime juice
Shake with crushed ice and pour into a chimney glass or tiki mug.

This one was adapted from the original by “Tiki John” Ebert, as presented in Beachbum Berry’s Grog Log. I went with crushed ice and slightly rounded off measures. It makes a fine Rum Runner. For a solution of my own that captures something of my Reno insanity, try the next one.

Rum Runner #2
  • 1 1/2 oz Bacardi 151
  • 1 1/2 oz crème de banane
  • 1 oz blackberry brandy
  • 1 oz lemon juice
Shake with crushed ice and pour into a chimney glass or tiki mug.

If that seems like a lot of 151, maybe it is, but it sort of dries the whole thing down and you’ll feel like you’ve been to the casinos, for better or worse—probably both.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Blackberry Margarita

Greetings, folks. It’s been a rough few weeks. How about a drink?

I’ve been wanting to play with my Leopold’s blackberry liqueur since my buddy and I had Rum Runners in Reno on a photo expedition to the desert. Blackberry liqueur (aka blackberry brandy; crème de mûre) is a great ingredient for winter cocktails, a little escape in the darker part of the year.

Blackberry Margarita

  • 2 oz reposado tequila (Hornitos)
  • 1/2 oz blackberry brandy (Leopold Bros)
  • 1/4 oz Cointreau
  • 1/2 oz lime juice
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Lime garnish. 

Big tequila up front gives way to blackberry somewhere in the middle. The housemate and I had a few of these over the course of chili night, and the food brought out the lime quite a bit.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Fort Point (San Francisco)

John Gertsen created one of the same name at Drink, which is in Boston’s Fort Point, but I’m thinking of a different bay. If you’ve seen Kim Novak jump into the water in Vertigo, that’s the spot.


Fort Point (San Francisco)
  • 3/4 oz Laird’s Straight Apple Brandy
  • 3/4 oz London dry gin
  • 3/4 oz Aperol
  • 1/2 oz lemon
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Lemon twist.

A morning cocktail I ad libbed while having bagels with a friend—on a recent visit to New York, oddly enough. Related to my Baker Beach, hence the name.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Manhattan Variations: Bushwick

Here’s a Brooklyn with sweet vermouth instead of dry. I had wondered if it might be slightly too heavy for my taste but ended up enjoying it. The inspiration of bartender Phil Ward, it was brought to my attention by Keith P, who writes theSpeakista and has a fine Manhattan series of his own.


  • 2 oz rye (Rittenhouse 100)
  • 3/4 oz sweet vermouth (Carpano Antica)
  • 1/4 oz Torani Amer
  • 1/4 oz Maraschino (Luxardo)
Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Richer than the original Brooklyn, there’s a Red Hookish darkness from the sweet vermouth that I may even prefer in this sort of arrangement to dry vermouth.

Monday, September 17, 2012

MxMo LXV: Equal Parts—Arithmetic Leisure

Very warm thanks to Frederic of Cocktail Virgin Slut for both taking over Mixology Monday and for being this month’s host. And most of all, I’d like to thank him for eliminating the need to rack my tipsy brain trying to remember how much was measured for each ingredient in the final version of my drink because Frederic’s theme is equal parts. (Whether I can pour equal parts by the end of the evening is another story.)


Arithmetic Leisure

  • 1 oz Dry Rye Gin
  • 1 oz Punt e Mes
  • 1 oz Campari
  • 1 oz fresh orange juice
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled wine glass. Add fresh ice.

This aperitif cocktail is built around the Dry Rye Gin from St. George Spirits, the fruit notes from the other ingredients balancing the rye, juniper and peppercorns, and the bitter botanicals all coming together as a whole.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Manhattan Variations: Saratoga Cocktail

DJ HawaiianShirt of Spirited Remix suggested that this Manhattan relative might make an interesting taste comparison with the more familiar standard. It’s certainly very grand, swapping half the whiskey with brandy. I went all the way and made mine with Courvoisier and 100-proof rye, just as I sometimes do with Sazeracs. The vermouth on the first round was with Martini & Rossi—good to be sure—but it was much richer when made with the dense and vanillic Carpano Antica as Paul Clarke suggests.

I made a Saratoga and a Manhattan with the same amounts of spirits, bitters and vermouth, and the housemate and I each had a half. We agreed that the Saratoga was rounder, silkier, more contemplative. The Manhattan seemed edgier, like its weight was shifted slightly forward.

I dunno that I have a preference per se except to note that for all my years in San Francisco, my feet still wanna get me everywhere in a New York minute.


Saratoga Cocktail
  • 1 oz rye
  • 1 oz cognac
  • 1 oz sweet vermouth
  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Lemon twist.

This recipe, more or less, appears in Jerry Thomas’s Bar-Tender’s Guide, as per my usual my time machine for the 19th-century cocktail, David Wondrich’s Imbibe!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Manhattan Calling: Manhattan Cocktail Links

The last few days, I’ve been running around like the proverbial decapitated chicken, but don’t suppose for a moment that I haven’t been thinking about and drinking Manhattans in my customary fashion. Below are a few links I happened to like, in no particular order.

The great gaz regan on the great whiskey potion.

And of course you gotta have Wondrich too.

Oh yeah—and Robert Hess has a video.

Then there’s the Wall Street Journal.

None of these mentions that story about Jennie Jerome having invented the Manhattan, presumably because she didn’t and it seems barely worthy of a footnote now. But it turns up now and then—I saw it in the first bar book I read—so you might as well have it. You can say that you read it in The NYT so it must be true that it’s not true. And there’s a variation at Churchill, appropriately, which is named after her, and more of a Brooklyn anyway.


Saturday, September 1, 2012

Calling All Manhattans: Nihil Utopia

This one from Dagreb of Nihil Utopia arrives a bit belatedly cuz I had to fetch the Knob Creek Single Barrel for it, but very well worth the wait. The overproof bourbon balances well with the big jolt of Martini & Rossi, making for something like an ultimate bar Manhattan. And as such, it cries out for a red cherry. (Fear not—it’s naturally dyed.)


  • 2 oz Knob Creek Single Barrel
  • 1 oz Martini & Rossi Rosso
  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
Stir well with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Cherry.

Another superb Manhattan, rich yet graceful. I’m impressed as I make each of these varied recipes how essentially Manhattan-like they all are.

Oh yeah, and in case anyone’s still wondering, I’m on a Manhattan jag, spinning favorites from callers out there in the broadcast area. Anyone can play.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Manhattan Variations: Little Italy

OK—here goes another Manhattan-like cocktail named for a neighborhood. Internet articles abound on this one, but in case you missed Audrey Saunders’ Little Italy, it’s one of my favorites of these neighborhood outings. Cynar takes the place of the Manhattan’s usual aromatic bitters to subtle and elegant effect. Audrey uses Martini & Rossi vermouth, though it seems just fine with Dolin.


Little Italy
  • 2 oz rye (Rittenhouse 100)
  • 3/4 oz sweet vermouth
  • 1/2 oz Cynar
Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Luxardo cherries with a little syrup.

That Pegu link takes you to the site for the Pegu Club in West Houston Street. For the recipe, Imbibe has a nice article, though I’m liking Chuck Taggart’s piece at Looka! as it has that cozy feeling we so appreciate here at the Lounge.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Calling All Manhattans: WDM

For those just arriving at this cocktail party, I’m blogging Manhattan recipes folks send in as well as some of the more unusual variations and sundry bits of Manhattanalia.

And the one below just goes to show that this Manhattan Cocktail party is open to all, whether you blog drinks or not. This is the first time I’ve heard from WDM—at least that I’m aware of—and I thoroughly enjoyed this Punt e Mes edition.


  • 2 oz Rittenhouse Bonded
  • 1 oz Punt e Mes
  • 3 – 4 dashes Angostura Bitters
Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.  Appropriate cherry garnish.

Rich but bright enough to be recognizable as a Manhattan. I’ve made similar many times myself, being a major Punt e Mes fan.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Manhattan Calling: Vermouth!

My refrigerator’s always crowded with a bunch of bottles of vermouth and related wines—probably a typical state of affairs for a cocktail enthusiast. You might think my current Manhattan kick should help use all that stuff down but it’ll probably have the opposite effect. In fact, it already has. I try to restrain myself and concentrate on drinks that can be made from the open ones, but vermouths are not quite interchangeable and I want them all.

Swell sweet vermouth links in no particular order:

Vermouth 101 by Martin Doudoroff.

The folks at Summer Fruit Cup review an astonishing total of 18 red vermouths.

Make vermouth! Haven’t tried myself but Serious Eats has a recipe.

French vermouth production at Noilly Prat with Camper English at Alcademics.

Classic Manhattan vermouth taste test post by Anita at Married with Dinner.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Manhattan Variations: Room Temperature Manhattan

Knowing that I’m particular about my drinks, a well-meaning bartender made my Manhattan with a vermouth that he knew was of better quality than the well: Cocchi Vermouth di Torino. This was fine except that it didn’t have the snap I expect in a Manhattan. Having bought a bottle, I tasted it against the others in the refrigerator and realized there was no detectable cinchona bite. The mellowness made me think of a room temperature cocktail.


Room Temperature Manhattan
  • 1 dash Fee Bros Aromatic Bitters
  • 3/4 oz Cocchi Vermouth di Torino
  • 2 oz bourbon (Buffalo Trace)
  • 1/2 oz water, or to taste
Build in a snifter and stir gently.

The water is there to stand in for the dilution that would come from ice, and it opens up the whiskey and botanicals.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Manhattan Variations: Coney Island

I was looking for distinctive riffs on the immortal Manhattan and spotted this chocolate version, an original by Frederic at Cocktail Virgin Slut. It’s like a cross between a Manhattan and one of those forbidden ice cream things you buy on Surf Avenue thinking you really shouldn’t but it’s like some kind of twisted heaven. It’s even got the little malty thing like the cone or the wafers or whatever. And it tastes more and more like a Manhattan and less like a kiddy ride as you get to the bottom—until you pop the red cherry.

Coney Island
  • 2 oz Old Overholt
  • 1/2 oz Punt e Mes
  • 1/2 crème de cacao (Marie Brizard)
  • 1 dash Angostura Bitters
Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Maraschino cherry.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Calling All Manhattans: The Pegu Blog

For those of you just joining us, I’ve asked folks to send in their thoughts on the venerable Manhattan Cocktail, and I’ll make and blog whatever recipes I can manage through the end of September, making allowances for the availability of brands and whether or not my fingers develop rigor mortis around the barspoon.

Doug at the The Pegu Blog has thoughts of his own on this eternal cocktail. Judging by the results of my attempt to follow his instructions, I must’ve done something right, as this was a rich, boozy, spicy rye number after my own heart. Doug suggested Russell’s 6 or Rittenhouse—both favorites here at the Lounge, though Rittenhouse was what I had on hand. No mention of a vermouth brand so I hope Carpano Antica was acceptable for this recipe. Sure tasted good.


  • 2 1/4 oz Rittenhouse 100
  • 3/4 oz Carpano Antica Formula
  • 4 dashes Angostura Bitters
Stir with ice—for crying out loud, stir—and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Brandied cherry.

All that Angostura? Yup, and I spiked the bottle, too, all you drippers. With big rye and dense vermouth, why fool around? Tasty.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Calling All Manhattans: Spirited Remix

I’m in a major Manhattan mood, and have invited anyone else who wants to play along to send in a favorite recipe. DJ HawaiianShirt of Spirited Remix offered his iteration, and of his recommended bourbons, I realized I hadn’t had a Knob Creek for months. He suggested 3 to 1, so I made the base spirit a 2 1/4 pour to simplify the measuring. And it sounds like he likes to sling the Angostura bottle like I do.


  • 2 1/4 oz Knob Creek Bourbon
  • 3/4 oz Dolin Rouge
  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. The DJ says he likes this with an orange peel as often as a brandied cherry, and that happens to be my own preference for the bourbon option.

Light orange candy from the twist and cinnamon spice on the front give way to autumn leaves and vegetal notes in this classic interpretation of, um, a classic.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Calling All Manhattans

People ask me all the time for my favorite cocktail and I always tell them there isn’t one. But the drink that comes closest to that description, my default notion of a cocktail, is definitely the Manhattan. And there are not less than three ingredients: whiskey, vermouth and bitters. It’s fine to tart it up occasionally with a dash of this or that but the basic three are essential to the drink. A garnish is nice but not necessary. (And for goodness’ sake, bartenders, ask me before you start pouring anything that once held preserved cherries in it. Betcha that bar guide sitting behind you doesn’t include it in the recipe.)

With that in mind, the variations are sometimes a lot of fun. My favorite Manhattans are rye ones but the right bourbon and bitters combo can be wonderful. There can be amaro-type stand-ins for the vermouth or other herbals for the cocktail bitters. Some Manhattans are more Manhattanite than others, but if you live in Red Hook and get into the city now and then, no one will think the less of you.

So I’d like to see what other people are drinking. From now through the end of September, please send in recipes—a favorite or something you thought unusual. Email me or post a comment below. I’ll write you up and link to your post, or you can have me make and photograph the drink and post it for you.

Here’s one I’ve been doing lately—sort of interesting in that it looks a little different but tastes, well, like a Manhattan.

Manhattan du Jour
  • 2 oz Rittenhouse 100
  • 3/4 oz Dolin Rouge
  • 2 dashes Bitter Truth Creole Bitters
Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Lemon twist.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Manhattan Variations: Remember the Maine

Maybe there ought to be a few more drinks named for historical events so they’d stand a better chance of being remembered. One time I was in a bar, looking casually at some photos of planes and airmen on the wall, when along came a friendly guy who wanted to tell me and my friend all about them. Military history buffs are often remarkable people but the best of them understand whether a stranger two tables away might or might not have a desire to know immediately how those six fellows happened to be in China.

I don’t read a lot of military history. But if every drink on the menu contained some historical fact in the name or description, I could have learned them all before I had even ordered, and countered with some trivia of my own. Think of the educational value alone if we incorporated historical allusions with our cocktail lists. I bet you could teach the average sorority girl the entire Second World War.

Remember the Maine
  • 2 oz rye
  • 3/4 oz sweet vermouth
  • 2 tsp cherry brandy
  • 1/2 tsp absinthe
Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Lemon twist.

This was my first recipe with Rothman & Winter Orchard Cherry. It’s lighter in color and flavor than Cherry Heering. I don’t know that I have a preference either way, though the Orchard Cherry was good with the similarly light and clear Dolin Rouge vermouth.

I borrowed the recipe off my fellow cocktail bloggers. Paul manages to work in a McKinley reference. Filip has a grand picture.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Golden Gate No. 2

I found this while rummaging around for San Francisco cocktails in John Poister’s New American Bartender’s Guide and thought it looked interesting. The version he gives is sort of a Twentieth Century with rum accents—more gin-forward than the one below from the CocktailDB. Wanting more of a rum cocktail, I gotta wonder what was meant by “light rum,” since the standard options give this thing no focus at all. But made with Wray & Nephew White Overproof, it’s a completely different story.

Golden Gate No. 2
  • 3/4 oz gin
  • 3/4 oz light rum (Wray & Nephew)
  • 1/4 oz 151 proof Demerara rum
  • 1/2 oz white creme de cacao
  • 1/2 oz Falernum
  • 1/2 oz lemon juice
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

This is a miniature ocean of Tiki magic served straight up. There’s supposed to be a curled orange slice garnish but it sounded too fussy for my nice little gold-rimmed glass—like it would just hit you in the nose or something.

Saturday, August 4, 2012


I dunno—I feel like I should expand my range of garnishes. I’m pretty much reduced to twists, cherries and lime shells these days, if anything at all.

So that said, here for your delectation is another plain brown cocktail. It’s citric but aromatic too, a combination I like more and more. There’s some Punt e Mes, which gets together with the other elements in a way that suggests lemon oil or lemongrass, even though there’s none in there. So it tastes brighter than it looks. Maybe when I make this again, I’ll go find a shaft of fresh lemongrass and stick a piece of it in the drink to dress it up a little.

  • 1 1/2 oz reposado tequila
  • 3/4 oz Punt e Mes
  • 1/2 oz lime juice
  • 2 dashes Fee Bros Aztec Chocolate Bitters
  • 1 – 2 dashes Angostura Orange Bitters
  • 1/4 oz amber agave nectar
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

The flavor sort of reminds me of oxidized copper too. (Remember being told as a kid not to put pennies in your mouth? I must not have paid too much attention.)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Isle of Campari

Sometimes I walk up to the bottles and start grabbing things, going on impulse and not much premeditation. “This one’s gonna be with....” I have to be in an intense sort of mood, so it’s not surprising that I picked up two big tastes this time, white agricole and Campari. The rawness of the one is balanced by the bittersweetness of the other, with some dry vermouth to calm it down.

 Isle of Campari
  • 1 1/2 oz agricole blanc (J.M)
  • 1 1/2 oz dry vermouth (Dolin)
  • 3/4 oz Campari
Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Lemon twist.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Bustle In Your Hedgerow

This one’s all about dashes of stuff. I remember reading somewhere that a dash was a sixth of a teaspoon, though I’d like to know how this was worked out, never having seen a spoon that size. I generally reckon the dash at something around a quarter teaspoon. (I’m freer with my splash.)

Strong flavors can bulldoze a drink, though I think it’s funny when I see a bartender drip the Angostura over a Manhattan, for instance, like it’s going to explode with any sudden movement. If you use Fee Bros Orange Bitters in the drink below, as I’ve done, it’s fine to spike the bottle, though if you do that with Angostura Orange it would be better kept at one dash or you’ll taste nothing else.


Bustle In Your Hedgerow
  • 1 1/2 oz dry gin
  • 3/4 oz sloe gin
  • 1/2 oz lemon juice
  • 2 dashes (1/2 tsp) Laphroaig
  • 1 – 2 dashes orange bitters
  • 1 dash (scant 1/4 tsp) absinthe
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Herbal candy, juniper and blackthorn. Seaside at the end of the wood. Something in the underbrush is late for an engagement.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


Playing with slivovitz again. It’s pretty distinctive and I want to be able to taste it, so there aren’t lot of intense ingredients in this one. A little amaretto and honey help bring out the stone fruit taste of the plum. I used lemon blossom honey because it was in the cupboard though anything light and mild would probably work. Slivovitz can be pretty rich so you may want to adjust the sweet-tart balance according to the dryness of your base spirit.


  • 2 oz slivovitz
  • 1/2 oz lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz honey syrup, 1:1
  • 1/4 oz amaretto
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Lemon twist.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Languisher Cocktail

I like random processes when I make up my mind to. Maybe it’s because this world requires an ever increasing level of deliberation for the thoughtful person just to stay sane. So once in a while in a moment of whimsy (meaning boredom), I like to spin the Mixilator and see what comes out. Since the fun is in letting the machine make the drink, I don’t fiddle with the buttons too much except to specify that the cocktail be simple to prepare. Even if the results are too bizarre to try—and they tend to be—I’d like to be able to make the drink if I want to. And now and then, it gives you something good. Take the Languisher Cocktail, a simple boozy drink with nice ingredients.


Languisher Cocktail

Chill cocktail glass. Prepare as follows:

In pre-chilled cocktail shaker combine
  • 2 oz tequila añejo
  • 1 oz Johnnie Walker
  • 1/2 oz St. Raphael
  • 3 drops cherry liqueur
Shake with large cubes of ice as though you’ve just perceived a rapidly advancing case of the trots. [You see, the charm of the Mixilator is the element of surprise. And don’t you find that sometimes it’s best not to try to follow a recipe too closely? Stir.] Strain into chilled cocktail glass.

This is a rich, strong, medium-dry cocktail not unlike a Manhattan but with the black pepper bite of añejo tequila. (I used Hornitos.) Specific though the instructions are (maybe too specific), there’s no garnish mentioned. I went with a couple of Luxardo cherries, which brought out the taste of the scotch as I ate them. I had no St. Raphael so I substituted another quinquina, Punt e Mes. For the cherry liqueur, maraschino seemed like the obvious choice. I might have had a few more drops than three. Tequila-forward without citrus. Very cool.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Hanky Panky

For Friday the 13th, here’s one that has become a standby here at the Fogged In Lounge, Ada Coleman’s Hanky Panky. It’s a Savoy Cocktail so I’ll let Erik tell the story. I like the Hanky Panky with Punt e Mes in place of regular sweet vermouth, though if made that way following the printed formula, it becomes too heavy for me.


Hanky Panky (Punt e Mes)
  • 2 oz London dry gin
  • 1 oz Punt e Mes
  • 1/2 tsp Fernet-Branca
Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Orange twist.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Sugar Skull

I bought a bottle of Tres Agaves on impulse, and it had an unexpected caramel note that took me off in a different direction from the cocktail planned for the evening.


Sugar Skull
  • 2 oz blanco tequila (Tres Agaves)
  • 1/2 oz Amaro Nonino
  • 1/2 oz lemon juice
  • 1 tsp mezcal
  • 1 tsp coffee brandy (Firelit)
Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

I had been thinking of something with vermouth on the lines of a Manhattan but the caramel thing made me reach for the Amaro Nonino. The lemon’s very bright with the Nonino but the smoke and touch of coffee in the background give it some depth.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

(This Way to) The Egress

A riff on the Barnum with Ransom Old Tom instead of dry gin. P.T. Barnum’s American Museum in New York was a 5-story showcase of curiosities of every description. The exit was marked by a cleverly worded sign, “This way to the egress.” Not realizing that this simply meant the way out, people took the bait and assumed the egress was an exhibit, only to find they had left the museum.

(This Way to) The Egress
  • 2 oz Ransom Old Tom gin
  • 1/2 oz apricot brandy (Apry)
  • 3/4 oz lemon juice
Shake with ice and  strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Ransom’s maltiness seems very 19th-century here, combining with the lemon and apricot in a slightly floral way that reminds me of an old-style punch.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Baker Beach

I’m liking Aperol and apple brandy a lot at the moment. Apple seems to go with Ransom Old Tom too. This one seems classically San Franciscan somehow, and not just the Golden Gate orange. Maybe the combo of Italian beverage bitters and spicy gin feels sort of Beat—a friendly edge.

Baker Beach
  • 2 oz Ransom Old Tom gin
  • 3/4 oz Laird’s apple brandy
  • 3/4 oz Aperol
  • 3/4 oz lemon juice
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Plastered Punch

Like the Singapore Sling, there’s some confusion about what actually goes in a Planter’s Punch. The things I remember seeing most often are Jamaica rum, grenadine and fruit—usually orange juice. It tends to come in a collins glass and not a tiki mug. And it’s not particularly tiki-fied, though a ceramic container might help with presentation. Molasses and orange juice tend to look murky together. The grenadine helps a little—not much. (I somehow remember big, good-looking, reddish ones served in hurricane glasses at Rockefeller Center when I was a kid. No clue what they tasted like.) After some experimentation, I’ve arrived at one I like that seems roughly consistent with other Planter’s Punches I’ve had.

Plastered Punch
  • 2 oz gold Jamaica rum
  • 1 oz dark Jamaica rum
  • 2 oz pineapple juice
  • 1 oz orange juice
  • 1/2 oz lime juice
  • 1/4 oz grenadine
  • 1 dash Angostura Bitters
  • 1 dash orange bitters (Angostura)
Shake with ice and strain into a tall glass. Fresh ice to fill. Cherry, mint, straw.

OK—that there in the photo’s a sprig of basil. My mint was beyond resuscitation. Turns out basil’s actually a pretty good aroma with Jamaica rum. The combination of gold and dark rum is bright but keeps the bass note of the molasses.

For a fine study of the Planter’s Punch, drop in on Tiare at A Mountain Of Crushed Ice.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Matinee of the Gods

Not quite the twilight. More like that funny hour after the early show when you have to find a drink somewhere. Martini-Gordon-Vesper variation with aquavit.

Matinee of the Gods
  • 1 1/2 oz London dry gin
  • 1/2 oz aquavit
  • 1/4 oz fino sherry
  • 1/4 oz dry vermouth
  • 1 dash orange bitters (Regans)
Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Lemon twist.

Sort of a Martini but cozier.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Bacardi Cocktail

I’m loving Small Hand Foods Grenadine, which seems to have improved since I first bought it a while back. It’s rich, bright and flavorful, and a clear natural red. I’ve been using it like crazy to make all the classic grenadine cocktails: Jack Rose, Ward 8, Bacardi Cocktail.

Bacardi Cocktail
  • 2 oz Bacardi rum
  • 1/2 oz fresh lime or lemon juice
  • 1/4 oz grenadine
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

You gotta use Bacardi or it’s not a Bacardi Cocktail, is it? I’ve been using Bacardi 8, and sticking to the Embury 8:2:1 proportion or it turns into a lollipop. Personally, I don’t have a strong preference for lemon or lime for this.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Perfect Rob Roy

Somehow the “Perfect” Manhattan and Martini cocktails (those with both sweet and dry vermouth) always seemed like a way to spoil a sweet or dry cocktail formula that was already perfect. Why would anyone think those were good? But I’ve come to understand that you just gotta try things in the name of science. You never know.

And the Perfect Rob Roy is a revelation. Of all the old drinks I’ve tried, there are certainly older, though the PRR has the power of conjuring a past that vanished just after the beginning of my lifetime. Maybe it’s the blended scotch, the malts processed and smoothed, sort of like turning a tartan into a checked sport coat. The two vermouths complete the lounge suit effect: confusing, slightly neutralizing, wearable for every occasion.

There should always be bitters. The great gaz regan recommends Peychaud’s for the Rob Roy in general. His own Regans’ No. 6 is delicious in this as well. (I’m drinking one now.) I’m inclined to agree with him that Angostura is not particularly nice in this drink, though it’s as Mid-Century here as a midnight blue Impala.

Perfect Rob Roy
  • 2 oz blended scotch (Johnnie Walker Black Label)
  • 1/2 oz sweet vermouth
  • 1/2 oz dry vermouth
  • Peychaud’s or orange bitters, to taste
Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Lemon or orange twist.

Sometimes you see a cherry in a Rob Roy. A very red one is bizarre at best, though a brandied one would be OK.

Paper design: Flex, Jean Orlebeke, eieio.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Manhattan: Dry, Off-Dry, Off-Off-Dry

We drink a lot of Manhattans here at the Lounge, probably more than anything else, though we don’t have the Dry much, if ever. Yeah, I know—it’s one of the established variations, popularized by Ol’ Blue Eyes and the Rat Pack. I guess the last time I had one until recently was about seven years ago. It wasn’t bad, exactly, but dull—probably the fault of indifferent dry vermouth.

The Dry seems a little better now. Orange bitters compliment the white vermouth and turn it floral and summery. I was experimenting and trying to decide which bitters I liked best with the Dry, and actually ran out of dry vermouth. (Somebody keeps making Martinis around here too.) Reaching for the Cocchi Americano instead, I found that an off-dry version was very tasty indeed and, well, more like a Manhattan. (Almost Perfect?) If made almost half Cocchi Americano, it’s sorta Gilded Age, though maybe richer than I’d prefer most of the time.

Dry Manhattan
  • 2 oz bourbon
  • 3/4 oz dry vermouth or Cocchi Americano
  • 2 dashes Regans’ No. 6 Orange Bitters
Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Orange twist.

Paper design: Jazz, Jean Orlebeke, eieio.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Bramble

Like an English summer, Dick Bradsell’s classic blackberry cocktail is over all too soon. The crème de mûre (blackberry liqueur) makes the drink, though it doesn’t need a lot. I get good results by free pouring or “lacing,” as Bradsell puts it—just enough to let some of the flavor and transparency of the Plymouth through.

The Bramble
  • 2 oz gin (Plymouth)
  • 3/4 oz lemon juice
  • 1 barspoon rich simple syrup (2:1)
  • crème de mûre to taste (Leopold Bros.)
Combine gin, lemon and syrup and shake with ice. Strain into a 12-ounce glass of crushed ice. Lace with crème de mûre. Lemon and berry garnish.

Dick Bradsell talking about the Bramble:

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Mystic Bubbles

A non-cocktailian friend asked recently what I drink with food, wondering if I liked wine and that kind of thing.

Sometimes it’s beer. Often it’s water. But there are those evenings that call for something special. You know those nights when you’re so beat that all you can do is dial that phone and hope someone delivers a meal while you still have the strength to eat it? Maybe even icing a glass for a Martini is too much to cope with. Maybe you just want something to go with that pizza or Chinese food for those final moments before total oblivion. You could have a beer. You could have wine. Or you might see a lemon or lime in the fridge and a small bottle of soda, and you could have Mystic Bubbles.

Mystic Bubbles is any correctly prepared fizzy sour that will pair with takeout food: Cuba Libre, Gin and Tonic with Lime, Gin and Bitter Lemon with Lemon. Turn any delivery order into an exotic vacation in the twinkling of an eye. This is not an illusion if you realize that a well-made drink is the closest you’re going to get to a tropical getaway on a weeknight, though total exhaustion does help set the mood.

This is also an occasion to influence your friends. Say you got a buddy coming over to watch a movie. This is the guy who, if you go to his house, starts rummaging in the kitchen, “Um—I think the tonic’s still OK....” Out comes this gigantic plastic bottle containing less than a glass of high-fructose swill and the only gas in there is the stale air at the top. Then he drowns the booze with it. (Don't even get me started on those built-in automatic ice deals with the creepy-tasting ice.)

Here at the Lounge, we never drown the booze.

Cut a lemon or lime, one half per drink. In a tall glass full of clear hard ice cubes, pour 2-3 ounces spirits. Press fruit over the top of the glass. If using lime, reserve shell. Top with 3-4 ounces cold premium mixer from a small container. If you have company, make a big production of this step so your friend remembers the next time he reaches for the 2-liter plastic blimp. You gotta let him know not to cut corners or he won’t create the spell of Mystic Bubbles. Add your lime shell and a straw, and by the time the doorbell rings for the food, you’ll be halfway to Fantasy Island. Good for dates too.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern

Still on a Mid-Century cocktail kick here at the Fogged In Lounge. Judging by the recipe booklets, liquor advertising and printed placemats of the time, they certainly liked dessert cocktails. (And I’ve known more than one older lady who ordered an Alexander or Grasshopper at any hour she perched at the bar.) I like a bit of cacao myself now and then though I don’t really want all the unbalanced sugar in most of those things. So I invented a dry after dinner cocktail—an after dinner cocktail for people who like liquor. As you’ll see, it’s got liquor in it. Enjoy.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern
  • 1 oz aquavit (Aalborg)
  • 1 oz kirsch
  • 1/4 oz white crème de cacao
Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Lemon twist.

Aquavit, dry cherry brandy, hint of chocolate. Looks like a Martini, tastes like Scandinavian furniture looks.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Ti’Punch Gimlet

Over the weekend, I took a first stab at making lime cordial. I threw two pounds of key limes in the centrifuge juicer, strained the results through fine mesh and mixed it thoroughly with a equal amount of white sugar. Stuck it in the fridge for a day. Blam-o: lime cordial. It’s plenty aromatic, though maybe I’d like to adjust the sweet-tart balance for gin drinks.

Looking for something else to try it in, I settled on the bottle of 100-proof J.M blanc, rhum agricole from Martinique that has a way of trouncing all but the most assertive flavors. The housemate and I agreed that the combo is perfect.

Ti’Punch Gimlet
  • 2 oz rhum agricole blanc
  • 1/2 oz lime cordial, or to taste
Shake hard with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Like the classic Gimlet with gin, this is a sensory feast in itself with only two ingredients. Proportions are a matter of taste. The lime cordial is good but I’ll probably keep tinkering.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Ward Eight

Sort of an expanded whiskey sour, this classic is supposed to be from the 19th century though it doesn’t really feel much like that kind of drink. And it probably isn’t, or at least not the one below. Even David Wondrich’s chosen recipe in Imbibe! is post-repeal. This really seems like the 20th century, at home in the 1930s and oddly more so in the 60s or 70s with its orange juice and touch of grenadine. I like the proportions given in Wondrich’s Esquire article. The Lock-Ober recipe is similar.

Ward Eight
  • 2 1/2 oz rye
  • 3/4 oz fresh orange juice
  • 3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp grenadine
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Amarena or brandied cherry.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

SF Pub Crawling: Churchill

I love drinking in the afternoon—especially when the drinks are as good as yesterday’s session at Churchill. It was really a reprise of an earlier visit when I had ordered in the perfect sequence, and had so appreciated Pat’s ministrations behind the bar that I knew I’d be back soon.

First up was the Angostura-tinted classic Army Navy Cocktail, a happy land at the crossroads of lemon, almond and gin. This was followed by the Scotch Crusta, a tangy whisky lollipop that would be a good way for the people who don’t like scotch to change their minds.

For yesterday’s visit, I could stay a bit longer, and added the Farewell to Arms after a nice talk with Micah, another fine bartender, about agricole. The Farewell was made with La Favorite Cœur de Canne, a white I hadn’t had before that seemed less wild than, say, J.M. It gave the drink a lot of structure and worked well as a follow up to the scotch.

Many thanks to everyone at Churchill—a fun place to drink, and to people watch with all those windows looking out at a major transit hub.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

This Drink’s In Love with You

There’s an imaginary cocktail bar in my brain called the 60s where I’m in Las Vegas with the Rat Pack, in Reno with The Misfits and with Dusty in Memphis.

This Drink’s In Love with You
  • 2 oz brandy
  • 1/2 oz white crème de cacao
  • 1/2 oz lime juice
  • 2 oz soda or to taste
Shake all except soda with ice and strain into a 12-oz glass. Fresh ice to fill, soda. Lime shell, mint garnish.

This glass is one of a pair I received as a gift from the housemate from our local de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park. The pattern repeats in oxidized metal all over the façade of the building.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Pisco Pilot

Now, folks—everyone should know that you shouldn’t drink and fly a plane. But you may be wondering what to do with your hands instead. Well I have the answer: paper planes. You can’t kill anyone in a paper plane. (Except if you try to get into one and go sailing out the window.) Maybe you haven’t made a plane in years. No sweat—you can find swell instructions from Alex’s Paper Airplanes. I found this site and knew I was in for hours of harmless cocktail time fun.

For a moment, I wondered if Alex would approve of having his planes plugged from a booze blog, but to my amazement and delight, Alex has a booze site too! How cool is that?

Pisco Pilot
  • 2 oz pisco
  • 1/2 oz maraschino
  • 1/2 oz lemon juice
  • 1/4 oz or less crème de violette (optional)
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

This here’s the old Aviation with pisco instead of gin. Nice and bright with a little wine-like grape note. It works pretty well, though as usual, people will have different ideas about the amount of violette, if any. More candy than perfume here.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Trick Pony

She hides
The television
Says I don’t owe him nothing,
But if he comes back again
Tell him to wait right here for me
Try again tomorrow
I’m gonna kick tomorrow

I’m gonna kick tomorrow
Jane Says, Perry Farrell/Jane’s Addiction

Trick Pony

  • 2 oz Rittenhouse Rye 100 Proof
  • 1/2 oz Amaro Nonino
  • 1/4 oz Ardbeg Single Malt
  • scant tsp simple syrup, 2:1
  • 2 dashes Bitter Truth Xocolatl Mole bitters
Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Oregon Trail: Bar Crawling in Portland

I was back in Portland, Oregon for a long weekend again, and due to the constraints (that is, chaos) of the trip, the drinking was sort of haphazard. Like a visit there earlier in the year, there were no planned expeditions to bars carefully contemplated and chosen in advance. But urban drinking in general is getting pretty good and I didn’t have to think too hard. The job was made easier by all the spirit-forward cocktails defined by distinctive spirits. 23 Hoyt had a rich and good-looking Old Fashioned called Rum & Rye, these being Pampero and Old Overholt respectively. The Heathman Hotel’s O-N Negroni featured the assertive and elegant Organic Nation gin from Ashland. And the Living Room Theater, one of the most fun places to get a drink, had the Reel Martini, made with another Oregon craft gin, Ransom Old Tom from the city of Sheridan, which yielded not a Dry Martini but a real Martini nevertheless. The movie would’ve be fine without it, but after two, I was ready to like anything.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Beach Fire

I had a standing arrangement with a friend to do a recipe for her Meyer limoncello. The limoncello was ready so here’s my end of the deal. The cachaça I mixed it with, Novo Fogo, is rich and complex, and opens up with dilution to reveal a distinct hint of sea water not unlike Brugal Extra Viejo. (Wishing I was walking on the beach right now with the glass shown below.)

Beach Fire
  • 2 oz cachaça
  • 3/4 oz Meyer limoncello
  • 1/2 oz lime juice
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
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