Category Archives: Cocktails

Rosé Sangria

Happy Summer, ya’ll!  It sure feels like it out there today.

I will admit to having never liked sangria in the past.  I feel the same way about mimosas, spritzes, etc. – I like my wine as it is.   That said, I thought sangria could be a refreshing addition to the summer menu at ABV.  Having never made sangria before, I scoured recipes online, ultimately combining a few, and adding my own twists.

Berry Rose Sangria, now available at ABV for $9 a glass

Berry Rosé Sangria
*1 cup water
* 1/2 cup sugar
*1/4 cup cassis (I used Finger Lakes Distilling)
*1 1/2 cups mixed berries (I used blueberries, raspberries and blackberries)
*1 bottle rosé (I used 750 ml Inman Family, Endless Crush, Olivet Grange Vineyard, CA 2010)
*juice from two lemons
*1/2 cup white port (I used Ferreira)

Combine the water, sugar and cassis and heat until the sugar dissolves.  You are basically making a tasty simple syrup.  Pour the syrup over the berries, then add the wine, the lemon juice and the port.  I have been using frozen berries and I’m getting great results.  They puff right up when the syrup is poured over them and they absorb a lot of flavor.  The first batch I let chill overnight, but this is not necessary.  The recipes I read said everything from serve immediately, to chill for an hour, to let sit overnight.  I’ve found the flavors come together pretty quickly.  We are serving it in a highball glass, over ice, topping it with club soda and garnishing it with a lemon-thyme orange wheel garnish.  Cheers!

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Searching for a Port in the stormy

The Dark and Stormy cocktail is one of my all-time favorites. Dale DeGroff’s recipe is this:

  • 2 ounces Gosling’s or Myers’s dark rum
  • 5 ounces ginger beer
  • Lime wedge

Pour the rum over ice in highball and fill with ginger beer. Squeeze in the lime wedge.

Gosling’s Black Seal 80 proof is definitely the rum you want.  For ginger beer, I’ve had good luck with Reed’s Extra Ginger Brew and Regatta.  I use more lime in mine – I squeeze the juice from 1/2 lime and shake it with the rum and ice, before pouring over rocks and adding the ginger beer.  A little salt is also tasty.
Thanks to Marymount School, our bar will have a beer and wine license only.  I do plan on having a full list of low-proof cocktails, however, which brings us to the point of this post.  Our list will most certainly have a take on the D and S.

Experimenting with some tawny Ports - Niepoort and Warre's Otima 10.

The Niepoort, while delicious, proved to have too much grape-y sweetness.  The Warre’s, mixed with the same proportions discussed above, would make most D and S fans smile.

Even the color of the Warre's was closer to the original.

Bermuda is far from Portugal and 40% abv vs. 20% abv is quite a jump, but the complexity from barrel aging and the natural sweetness found in both main ingredients makes it work.

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Sampling Speakeasy

All of these wine posts made me thirsty for a cocktail.  Fortunately, my friend Dushan recently gave me a copy of his book Speakeasy: The Employees Only Guide to Classic Cocktails Reimagined and I tested a few of the recipes yesterday.

First up, the Americano

Few things quench your thirst in summer like Campari.

1 1/2 oz. Campari
1 1/2 oz. Dolin Rouge Sweet Vermouth
1 orange half-wheel (I cheated and used what was already at the bar)
3 oz. club soda

I shook the Campari, vermouth and orange, poured it over fresh ice, topped with club soda and added a fresh orange garnish.  Some fun facts from the book:

*this drink was first created in the 1860s at Gaspare Campari’s bar in Milan.  It was originally named Milano-Torino for its two main ingredients: Campari from Milan and Cinzano from Turin.

*this drink inspired the Negroni.

*Americano is the first cocktail that James Bond orders in the novel Casino Royale (long before he orders a Martini).

Next up, Secret Crush

Secret Crush
5 oz. Llopart Cava Leopardi brut rosé, divided (I didn’t have any rosé Cava open, so I used Lucien Albrecht Cremant d’Alsace rosé)
1 raw brown sugar cube (I only had white)
4 or 5 dashes Angostura bitters
3/4 oz. Campari (yes, I’ll be drinking a lot of this this summer)
1 lemon twist

Pour 1 1/2 oz. of sparkling into the flute, saturate the cube with bitters and place it in the flute.  Wait a moment, then top off with Campari and the balance of sparkling.  Garnish with lemon twist.

The book describes this cocktail as sexy and I couldn’t agree more.  Look at it.  If you think you don’t like Campari, this will change your mind.

Then, the New York Sour

New York Sour
1 3/4 oz. rye (he suggests Rittenhouse 100, I used McKenzie)
3/4 oz. lemon juice
3/4 oz. simple syrup
3/4 oz. dry red wine (I used Malbec)
1 orange half-wheel
1 brandied cherry

Shake the rye, lemon and simple with ice.  Strain over fresh ice into a rocks glass, float the wine on top and garnish with the orange and cherry.

In 2003 this cocktail made it on to the opening drink list at Schiller’s, the year before Dushan opened Employees Only.  The origins of the drink are unclear, though the best guess seems to be that it’s a Prohibition-era favorite, as the lemon juice, sugar and wine would have camouflaged the crap, watered-down whiskey available at that time.  When made with tasty ingredients, however, this drink is pretty killer – rye dominated backbone, with added structure from the red wine, but balanced by the citrus and a kiss of sweetness.  Quaffable and aesthetically pleasing!

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Salon, part deux

This past Sunday was our second Salon.

Dave Martin, from the first season of Top Chef and Jason Littrell, from Death and Co., discuss "New American Classics".

I generally do not care to have cocktails with food.  Before, after, or on their own, absolutely, but the complex flavors and high alcohol content make cocktails a challenge when it comes to pairing with food.  Dave and Jason did a fine job of making me reconsider.

1st course: Salad of Roasted Beets with Candied Walnuts, Gorgonzola, Watercress and a Roasted Shallot and Brown Sugar Vinaigrette. 1st cocktail: The Drink with No Name; Courvoisier VS, ginger and cinnamon syrup, lemon, Old Fashioned bitters. The fresh ginger component of the cocktail was my favorite - it was spicy enough, without overpowering the other ingredients. The sweetness of the Cognac and cinnamon complemented the candied walnuts and the earthiness of the bitters was a great match to the beets.

2nd course: Dave's Sage and Applewood Bacon Mac with Irish Cheddar and Cream. 2nd cocktail: North Garden; Laphroaig Scotch, Laird's Bonded Applejack, Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Demerara Syrup and Angostura Bitters. Two things to point out regarding this cocktail: it's pretty much all booze and the Islay Scotch imparts a good deal of peat smoke. After having a bite of one of the richest macaroni and cheese dishes I've ever had, I was happy to have such a strong and smoky cocktail. In fact, the mac made this cocktail taste like apple juice and enabled everyone at my table to lick their ramekins clean.

I didn’t get a great photo of course 3: Coca Cola Braised Boneless Lamb Shoulder with Sweet and Sassy Smokehouse Rub and Roasted Poblano Sauce.  3rd cocktail: Gold Rush; McKenzie Bourbon, honey syrup and lemon.  This dish had a lot going on – it was sweet, it was spicy, it was earthy and Jason was wise to pair it with a simple, refreshing cocktail.

Arguably the prettiest and most surprising cocktail of the afternoon was the La Vie en Rose: Nolet's Gin, St. Germain, Raspberry Syrup, Egg White and Cream. All of the acidity was supplied by the raspberry syrup and the combination of egg whites and frothed cream gave the cocktail a silky density. It smelled and tasted like a sweet old lady's perfume (in a good way).

La Vie en Rose's partner was Homemade Lemon and Vanilla Sponge Cake with Fresh Berries and Whipped Mascarpone. The dessert brought out the raspberries in the cocktail and was (thankfully) a light way to end the tasting.

See you on July 10, when we’ll be pairing Jim Meehan’s original cocktails with Aaron Meicht’s orginial compositions.

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Camp Swampy-tini

My mother-in-law recently mailed me this cartoon as part of a homemade postcard.  She describes it as “sort of a tough guy/Swedish/Italian/Southwest drink recipe.”


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Craft American Vodka Tasting Notes

Scrolling through today, I noticed a web component to my article that appeared in the March issue.

Photo by Anna Stockwell for

Victoria, Ethan and I made tasting notes for close to 20 different American vodkas and our favorites are featured on the site.  In addition to the Hibiscus Rose Vesper, I submitted these recipes as well:

Vintner’s Fizz
2 oz. Vintner’s Vodka
1.5 oz. St. Germain
1 oz. fresh lemon juice
1 egg white (equivalent of 1 oz.)
Pinch of salt
Barspoon of superfine sugar
1 oz. seltzer

Combine all ingredients except for seltzer and dry shake.  Add ice and seltzer and shake again.  Strain into chilled martini glass.

Celery Cider
1.5 oz. Organic Nation Vodka
2 oz. apple cider
Dash simple syrup
Pinch of celery salt
3 dashes celery bitters
Juice of one lime

Combine all ingredients over ice, shake and strain into a rocks glass over ice.  Garnish with a celery salt rim.

Unnamed Coffee Deliciousness
2 oz. Vermont Gold Maple Vodka
1 oz. espresso
1 oz. Kahlua
1 oz. heavy cream

Combine all ingredients over ice, shake and strain into chilled martini glass.  Garnish with grated nutmeg.

Bottoms up!

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Fun with gum

Pineapple gum syrup, that is: pressed pineapple mixed with organic cane sugar and gum syrup.  We recently got some at the restaurant and I’ve been wanting to mix with it.  It used to be in the Haus Alpenz portfolio, but now you can buy it direct from small hand foods.

The back label promises a cocktail with a “silky, lush mouthfeel and the bright acidity of fresh pineapple”.  It delivers.

The gum syrup is rich, so I wanted to mix it with something spicy and something earthy.

A key ingredient in Pisco Punch (2 oz Pisco, ¾ oz fresh lemon juice, ¾ oz Pineapple Gum Syrup, shaken and strained), I think this gum syrup will prove pretty versatile. 

Today’s inspiration was one of my favorite things that contains pineapple – fruit salsa.  I muddled fresh cilantro with lime, salt and pineapple gum syrup.  Tequila is a natural salsa partner, so that went in next.  While I do think something hot spicy would be good with this stuff, I opted instead for earthy spicy with Domaine de Canton.

The bright flecks of cilantro make this a pretty cocktail. I didn't bring a decent camera to work today. Garnish options: lime, candied ginger, fried cilantro, caramelized pineapple...

Here’s the recipe:

Yellow #6
1.5 oz. unaged tequila
1 oz. Domaine de Canton
1 oz. pineapple gum syrup
juice of 1 lime
handful cilantro, enough to fill 2″ in the bottom of your muddling glass
dash salt

Muddle cilantro with gum, lime and salt.  Add ice, tequila and Domaine de Canton.  Shake and serve on the rocks.

I chose Yellow #6 because there are 6 ingredients, if you count ice and also because another term for it is “sunset yellow”.  It may or may not lead to hyperactivity.

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So Much Pretty

One week from today, my sister-in-law has a book coming out. 

You can pre-order it from Amazon.  You can read more about the book and about her on her website.

My favorite review for it so far is the LA Times:

“So Much Pretty” is harder to pin down, trickier in its aims and delivers a skillful, psychologically acute tale of how violence affects a small town, its tentacles enmeshed so deeply into the collective fabric that it takes the thoughts and actions of one intelligent adolescent to shake things up and force everyone to examine their duplicitous complacency. To say more about Hoffman’s constantly surprising story is to reveal too much, but the payoff is more than worth the slow-building suspense.”

Look for her in the NYT Book Review this Sunday, 3/13. We’ll all need a drink in anticipation of that, which leads me more to the point of this post. 

I’ve developed two cocktails for the release party we’re hosting for Cara at The Monday Room next week. 

So Much Pretty
1 1/2 oz. McKenzie Bourbon
1 oz. Campari
1 oz. Carpano Antica Vermouth

Combine ingredients and shake with ice.  Serve up in a chilled glass with a cherry garnish.

Cara’s favorite cocktail is a Negroni (she hasn’t tried this one yet), and if you subbed gin for bourbon, that’s what you’d get. I wanted to use a spirit from upstate, since that’s where the story takes place. The drink has a girly color, which belies its non-girly flavor. Once you read the book, you’ll get why this last part makes sense.

So Much Pretty, 0% abv
4 oz. ginger beer (I like Fentimans, though I think we’re using Ithaca for the party, for additional upstate-appropriateness)
½ oz. fresh lime juice
½ oz. star anise simple syrup (made this at home, more on this later)

Shake with ice, strain into rocks glass over ice and garnish with candied/crystalized ginger.

When asked in an interview if she could only eat one thing for the rest of her life, Cara replied crystalized ginger, so that explains version 0% abv.

Looking forward to toasting So Much Pretty with a So Much Pretty!

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Hibiscus Rose Vesper

A cocktail of mine made it into Saveur’s March Issue.  I also figured out how to embed documents into wordpress.  Big day. 

Use the zoom key at the bottom so you can actually read what it says.  Does my crooked scanning make you feel like you’re reading it from the magazine?


Filed under Cocktails, Noteworthy articles


Noah recently picked up these bitters at Formaggio Essex:

Sriracha (pronounced SIR-rotch-ah) bitters by Brooklyn Hemispherical Bitters. A bit spendy, at $12.95 for 4 oz., the flavor is true to the beloved "rooster sauce".

I opted for the recipe printed on the back label of the bottle: Srirazerac. Step 1 is to coat a rocks glass with Absinthe.

In a stirring glass with ice, I added 2 1/2 oz. rye (I used McKenzie). This is 1 teaspoon of simple syrup going in. Next was 2 dashes Peychaud's, followed by 2 dashes Sriracha Bitters. The dropper in the bottle yields less than a dash would, so that, combined with how spicy you'd like your drink, should dictate how much you add.

The finished cocktail, garnished with a lemon peel and a few additional drops of Sriracha Bitters. It's not terribly complex, but I really like rye, so I'm not the best judge in this instance. The best part is the finish - an intense, yet pleasant heat creeps up on you. These bitters are definitely worth experimenting with. Stay tuned.

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