June 9, 2009 - Leave a Response

.5 oz smoked-paprika vodka
1 oz Cointreau
2 oz orange juice
1 dash peach bitters
1 dash cinnamon tincture*

Shake and pour into rocks glass with ice, top with cinnamon tincture. Scoff at poor suckers drinking regular Screwdrivers.

*To make cinnamon tincture, soak a 10 or so cinnamon sticks in 1 C of J. Wray and Nephew overproof rum for at least 1 week. Store in a dark dropper bottle if you can get one; they’re cheap on


Smoked-Paprika Vodka

June 9, 2009 - Leave a Response

0.5 L vodka
1/4 C sweet smoked paprika (pimenton)

Combine in a large, plastic freezer bag, squeezing out as much air as possible. Heat water in a large saucepan and place bag in water for 10 min, keeping the water temperature around 145-150 degrees F. Remove bag and place in an ice bath.

Because it’s such a fine powder, this mixture is a pain to filter. I’ve had best luck with a French press, though it’s still plenty grainy. Mixed with juice, you can’t really tell though.

Saint Bernard

April 18, 2009 - Leave a Response

The eponymous drink.

1.5 oz brandy (St. Remy VSOP or XO)
1.5 oz chai vermouth

Stir and strain into a contemplative glass. Garnish with a lemon or orange twist, depending on the season.

Chai Vermouth #1

April 18, 2009 - Leave a Response

This is the recipe from my first attempt at chai vermouth, which when combined with brandy becomes a Saint Bernard, the namesake drink at, well, Saint Bernard.

Vermouth is flavored, fortified wine, so in essense it’s made of:

-White wine. All vermouth is made from white wine. The red color of sweet vermouth comes from carmelized sugar and various herbs.
-A spirit of some sort, to fortify the wine and slow oxidation. Since I’ll be drinking the vermouth with brandy, brandy seems like a natural choice here.
-Herbs and spices. Herein lies the magic.


1 bottle dry, acidic white wine (I used a $7 bottle of trebbiano)
4 oz brandy
3 cinnamon sticks
2 whole pieces star anise
9 pods black cardamom
9 pods green cardamom
15 black peppercorns
5 allspice berries
3 cloves
0.5 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp thyme (all herbs are dried)
1 tsp marjoram
1 tsp basil
1 T chamomile flowers
zest from 1 lemon, 1 orange
1 cup sugar
1 tsp Fernet Branca
1 teabag (or 1 tsp) lapsang souchong (or other smoky black tea)

1. Infusing the brandy

Infusing the brandy with your spice mixture is an easy way to get your flavors into the brandy as well as the wine. I let my infusion sit about 3 days.

Combine 4 oz brandy with your herbs and spices (on the list: from cinnamon to citrus zest).

Note: In retrospect, the dried herbs and small spices like fennel seeds are hard to strain out of such a small amount of liquid. In retrospect, it’d be easier to just only infuse the brandy with the cinnamon, anise, cardamom, and citrus zest.

2. Infuse the wine

Strain the herbs and spices from the brandy. Reserve the brandy and simmer the herbs and spices in a saucepan with half the bottle of wine for 10 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat and let cool to room temperature.

While wine is cooling, carmelize your sugar. To do this, combine sugar with 1/2 C of water in a saucepan and simmer on low heat until it’s a deep amber color, about two shades darker than honey.

3. Combine everything

Strain the mulled wine. In an empty glass bottle or mason jar (or whatever you’re storing this in), combine the mulled wine, other half of the wine, brandy, and carmelized sugar. You will not need all of the carmelized sugar. Start with about 2 oz  and add more to taste.

You have leftover carmelized sugar. Pour it over ice cream and consume while the vermouth flavors combine for a few minutes.

4. Oops, forgot the tea.

Yeah, so…I meant to steep the tea in the mulled wine. Oops.

To get the tea flavor in there, I made double-strength tea (3 oz water + 1 teabag), cooled it, and added it to the vermouth. The tannins added a deep “bass note” flavor to the vermouth. If you want to mull the tea with the wine, add the tea to the wine right when you turn off the heat, and remove after five minutes so it doesn’t get bitter.

5. Wait, but I want some bitterness, right?

Yes, vermouth is usually made with way more spices we used, like hundreds or something. And many of them are Amazonian; that is, exotic and require online shopping to procure them. It’s actually not that hard to buy, say wormwood or gentian root online, but I didn’t plan ahead that much. So I found a lazy way around this.

Fernet Branca is a bitter, super-herbal liqueur and probably contains a lot of those bittering herbs I didn’t feel like buying. So add 1 tsp to your vermouth. (Maybe start with less, then taste it.)

Good, right?

6. Observations

Obviously, I want to try this again with the tea infused in the wine instead of added later — that was kind of the whole point. And next time I would bump up the cinnamon, anise, and cardamom by about 30% to get more chai profile.

But for now I’m content with this little frankenstein vermouth, duct-taped together with tea and Fernet, which cover the bright “grape juice” flavors of the unbittered wine.

A note about effort: This recipe is 700 words. As you might imagine, it takes some effort to put together, so I’d go ahead and double it. The vermouth will keep in the fridge for probably a year, and its versatile in cocktails (especially in the fall and winter) and delicious on its own.

If you’ve read this far, thanks! And please let me know if you try this at home or have any of your own vermouth experiments to share. Cheers!


April 18, 2009 - Leave a Response

This drink is dedicated to the people of Trollhattan, Sweden, and to the wiki-linguists who cleared up the confusion that the name has anything to do with Manhattan. The drink, however, is Manhattan-inspired.

1 oz Laphroiag single malt whisky
0.5 oz Maker’s Mark bourbon
0.5 oz Punt e Mes
2 dashes Fee’s whiskey barrel-aged bitters
2 dashes orange bitters

Stir ingredients over ice and strain, garnish with an orange twist.


April 18, 2009 - Leave a Response

1 oz Appleton Estate V/X rum
0.5 oz Del Maguey crema de mezcal
1 oz orange juice
0.5 oz lime
.25 oz Trader Vic’s Macadamia Nut Liqueur
.25 oz cinnamon syrup

Build in a highball glass with just one or two ice cubes; the buttery macadamia flavors don’t come out to play until the drink warms up. If possible, consume on a small boat.

Green Lantern #2

April 18, 2009 - Leave a Response

Inspired by 1905, which makes a similar drink with gin instead of absinthe.

1.5 oz absinthe*
1.5 oz pineapple juice
0.75 oz lemon (or a little more)
0.75 oz simple syrup (or a bit less)
8-10 mint leaves

Muddle mint in a tall glass. Fill glass with crushed ice, add other ingredients, and top with soda water.

*I use Kübler Absinthe, which is 53% abv. You may need to adjust if you’re using a stronger absinthe.


April 1, 2009 - Leave a Response

1 oz Plymouth gin

1 oz Plymouth sloe gin

0.5 oz 100% pure cranberry juice

0.5 oz honey syrup (1:1 honey and water)

5 drops good-quality sherry vinegar

sprig of rosemary

Thoroughly sweep rim of cocktail glass with rosemary and discard. Shake remaining ingredients and strain into glass. Sip, smile, get excited for Christmas.

Date Syrup #1

April 1, 2009 - Leave a Response

15 dates, halved and pitted

1.5 C water

.75 C sugar

Combine in saucepan and simmer uncovered until reduced to about 1 C. Remove saucepan from heat and let rest until it reaches room temperature. Remove dates and measure syrup. If less than 1 C, add water to reach 1 C.

Note: To make the leftover dates into candied dates, throw them in a low-heat oven for maybe an hour, then let them cool.


April 1, 2009 - Leave a Response

1.5 oz bacon-infused bourbon (here’s one recipe, but double the bacon fat)

1 teaspoon date syrup

1 dash Fee Bros. Whiskey Barrel Aged Bitters

5 grains fine sea salt (optional)

Stir and strain. Bow before altar of Jose Andres.