Category Archives: Cocktails

Italian Love Bite

Plenty of Aperol in stock inspired Marcella to create her “Italian Love Bite”.

Marcella working her magic behind the bar. Join us at L'Ecole for a Love Bite starting today.

The recipe:

1.5 oz. Aperol
1 oz. Dolin Blanc
1 oz. Finger Lakes Distilling Pear Brandy
1/2 oz. fresh lemon juice
1 egg white (equivalent to 1 oz.)
dash salt
dash club soda

Combine all ingredients, except for club soda, and dry shake.  Add ice and club soda, shake again, and strain into chilled martini glass.  I asked what the garnish was and was told, “it’s so pretty, it doesn’t need one.”  See for yourself:

Candy-heart pink with notes of ripe pear and herbs, and a beautiful froth on top. Girly, without being sweet.

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Put your Christmas tree to good use

Before your Christmas tree dries out, make some Evergreen Simple Syrup:

Combine 1 cup of water with 3/4 cup sugar and bring to a boil. Add a handful of fresh pine needles from your Christmas tree and boil for 3 mins. Strain and cool before combining in cocktails.

Brian brought this syrup when he visited a few weeks ago and we started brainstorming about cocktails.  I’ve experimented with pine flavor before, and decided that this time around an herbaceous gin might be a perfect fit.  Keeping in the holiday spirit, we opted for cranberry as the fruit and acid lift. 

I’m especially pleased that my title stuck.

Twigs and Berries
2 oz. Seneca Drums Gin
1 oz. Evergreen Simple Syrup
1 oz. White Cranberry Juice
Dash of Angostura Bitters

Stir the above ingredients over ice and strain into chilled martini glass.

Pine-y refreshment under the Christmas tree.

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Bitters to go

Leave it to the ever-traveling Germans to come up with a way to have classy cocktails on the go.

Today’s Times clued me in to this adorable kit.  Tasting notes from the company’s website:

CELERY BITTERS: Very complex and exotic. The initial flavor of celery is dominant, leading into a complex palate with aromas of lemongrass, orange peel and ginger.
OLD TIME AROMATIC BITTERS: Classically bitter and tangy. Combining the aromatics of cinnamon, cardamom, anise and cloves, it reminds one of gingerbread.
ORANGE BITTERS: The aroma of bitter orange peel is in the foreground, complimented by the spicy flavors of cardamom, caraway and nutmeg.
CREOLE BITTERS: The complex combination of flavors hints upon spice, bitterness and cardamon with a subtle floral finish that evokes the flavors of Creole cuisine in New Orleans/Louisiana.
CHOCOLATE BITTERS: Deep chocolate notes are supported by classic bitter flavors and accented with a hint of spice. Plays perfectly with most dark spirits, rums and tequilas.

Noah and I had recently been discussing saving airplane-sized bottles and filling them with booze from home in order to have a tastier tipple while in the air.

What a perfect stocking stuffer!

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Greenmarket Mixology for Holiday Cocktails

If you’re free in NYC tonight, Union Square wines is presenting, Slow Food U: Greenmarket Mixology for Holiday Cocktails with Allen Katz from 6-8 pm. 

From USQ’s website:

Holidays are a time for good cheer… and good cocktails.  Local, legendary, “slow” mixologist, Allen Katz, promises, “the best damned holiday drinks you ever tasted.”  Join Allen as he mixes up seasonal, Greenmarket inspired holiday libations featuring some familiar, and some not so familiar, spirits and local, seasonal ingredients.  You will learn technique, and a few secrets, while enjoying a festive flight of unique holiday libations you CAN prepare at home to enjoy with friends and family.

Proceeds from this event will benefit the programs and activities of not-for-profit Slow Food NYC, including the Urban Harvest programs of good food education for NYC kids.

I happen to know that at least two of the ingredients involved tonight are McKenzie Rye and Finger Lakes Distilling Cassis.  You need tickets for this event and you can get them here.

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Mixing a Martinez

For round 2 of our spirits project, we focused on the Martinez cocktail.  Some believe the Martinez is the precursor to the dry martini.  We tried two different recipes, each with two different gins.

Measuring old tom gin for round 1.

The first recipe we tried:

1 dash bitters (Angostura)
2 dashes Maraschnio (we used 3/4 bar spoon of Luxardo)
1 pony (1 oz.) Old Tom Gin (we used Hayman’s)
1 wineglass (4 oz.) dry vermouth (we used Dolin)

This cocktail did not have enough gin!

The second recipe we tried:

2 dashes Angostura
2 dashes Maraschino
1.5 oz. gin
1.5 oz. dry vermouth

This recipe made a much more balanced cocktail.  We made both of these recipes with Tanqueray and with Hayman’s.  The sweetness provided by the Old Tom gin proved to be key.  We opted to omit the lemon wedge garnish suggested by each recipe, not finding it very classy.

The winning combination.

Looking at the ingredients for this cocktail, I didn’t have high hopes.  With the right recipe, however, it turned out to be a very refreshing cocktail.  Something an old man might reward himself with after mowing the lawn.

Some cocktail porn for your viewing pleasure.


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Tackling the Dry Martini Cocktail

We’re launching a new project at school that will require creating and testing cocktail recipes.  Yes, my job is awesome. 

For some reason, we decided to start with a cocktail about which many professionals don’t see eye to eye. We can all agree it’s appetite-whetting, simple to make and storied, but that’s where it ends.  I touched on the history of the martini briefly in this post.

We decided to test two recipes, using three different gins each.

Unsurprisingly, these are boozy cocktails. The ratio you go with probably depends on how much you like gin.

Across all recipes we used Dolin Dry, one dash of Regan’s Orange bitters, and in honor of the orange bitters, a non-squeezed orange peel as garnish.  All drinks were stirred.  For both rounds, we sampled three different gins: Tanqueray, Plymouth and Hayman’s Old Tom.  

First up was equal parts gin and vermouth – 1 1/2 oz. each.  The winner was Tanqueray; well-balanced and you could taste the gin (we like gin here). 

Second time around we went 2:1 – 2 oz. gin to 1 oz. vermouth.  Prior to stirring round two, we anticipated that we would like the equal parts cocktails better.  We were wrong.  The winner was again Tanqueray, and it was an even better martini with this ratio. 

Rich, bold, satisfying, invigorating.  Made you want a big, fat steak, followed by a nap.  Too bad it was 11 am in the middle of the work week and we are aren’t characters on Mad Men.


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Corn Tassel, take 5

In preparation for USQ’s Autumn Cocktail Classic, I’ve been playing around with some cocktails featuring Glen Thunder.  

Brian emailed me this recipe:

Corn Tassel
1.5 oz Mellow Corn 4-year old whiskey
1.25 oz fresh lemon juice
1 oz Cointreau
2 tsp orgeat
1 dash of Jerry Thomas’ Own Decanter Bitters

The Glen Thunder plays nicely with citrus, so I decided to use this as a jumping off point.  I didn’t have orgeat (pronounced or-zat, from the Italian orzata, meaning almond), so I woke up this morning with the idea to substitute Velvet Falernum. Sweet, with almond and orange blossom notes, the Falernum also has some fall-friendly spices, like allspice and clove. 

For the event on Saturday, I need something unfussy that I can pre-batch and serve up, without a garnish (though I may break down and go with an orange peel).  Here’s how it went down:

From left to right: Take 1 - following the corn tassel recipe, subbing Velvet Falernum and Angostura: too tart. Take 2 - dialing back on citrus, adding dash of salt and adding a bit more Velvet Falernum: eh. Take 3 - same as take 2, subbing orange juice for lemon juice: getting there. Take 4 - same as take 3, subbing blood orange juice for regular orange juice: almost there. Take 5: same as take 4, dropping blood orange juice to 1 oz. and adding 0.25 oz. lemon juice: bingo.

The as of yet unnamed cocktail:

1.5 oz. Glen Thunder
1 oz. Cointreau
0.5 oz. Velvet Falernum
1 oz. blood orange juice
0.25 lemon juice
dash salt
dash Angostura bitters

I combined all of these over ice, stirred and strained into a rocks glass.  On Saturday, the delivery vehicle will be plastic. 

Sweet and citrusy, with the right amount of spice, here’s hoping it will help sell some booze!


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Fashion’s Night Out

This past Friday I attended my first Fashion Week event.  The focus was more food and drink than it was fashion.

Finger Lakes Distilling was invited as one of the artisanal whiskeys.

Before the hoards. From left to right: Gable of Tutillhown, Brian from FLD and Noah (making sure the product is safe to serve).

Nastassia, Nils and Dave doing their thing behind the bar.

The very tasty (and cleverly named) cocktail prepared by team FCI. Between the bar and our table, we went through 21 bottles of rye in 3 hours.

Jeff, one of our hosts, stopping by to chat with Brian. He really dug the rye, the Glen Thunder and the cassis. Let's hope he writes about it!

Another thirsty guest.

No cabs to be found that night. We got a few stares on the bus.


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How would you like your eggs?

In this week’s The Talk of the Town in the New Yorker, Michael Schulman hosted an unofficial summit with egg experts to discuss the recent recall of more than half a billion eggs.  His guests were Dave Arnold from the FCI and Stephen Morse, an epidemiologist at Columbia.  They gathered at L’Ecole and feasted on all things eggy.  I was tickled when I saw this sentence:

He {referring to Morse} sipped his cocktail, a Johnny Apple-Fizz, made with raw egg white shaken into a foam. “Wonderful!” he said.

The fizz was a creation by Marcella, which I helped her tweak.  We were looking for some flavors that would help us ease into fall.   She stopped by my office with a tray full of cocktails (which, delightfully, is a fairly common occurence), and this is what we came up with.

*2 oz. McKenzie Rye
*1 oz. FLD Maplejack
*1 oz. fresh lemon juice
*1 tsp superfine sugar
*1 oz. egg white
*1 oz. soda
*healthy pinch salt
*3 shakes of cinnamon

Combine all ingredients except soda in a shaker and shake vigorously.  Add soda and ice; shake again.  Strain into a chilled martini glass.

The Johnny Apple-Fizz. Light and refreshing, with spiced, apple notes.

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Free booze this week

Finger Lakes Distilling has two upcoming events at Union Square Wines & Spirits. From their website:

Event Date: Friday, July 30, 6:00pm – 9:00pm
Description of tasting:
Join USQ and Finger Lakes Distillery’s Selena Shannon for a look at their Vintner’s Wild Berry Vodka! Master distiller Thomas Earl prides himself on the fine elixirs created on Seneca Lake, be they whiskey, gin, eau-de-vie, liqueurs or vodka. Marrying the skills of vintner and distiller, Thomas Earl has created one beauty of a vodka- Vintner’s Wild Berry Vodka starts with a grape neutral spirit distilled from the estate’s local grapes. The distillate is infused with pounds of native strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries before a final distillation to further refine and balance the vodka. This hand-crafted spirit might well pass for a vibrant eau-de-vie from the likes of Massenez or Riesetbauer but stop by and sip for yourself! Selena will be showing the Vintner’s Wild Berry Vodka both neat and in a summer cocktail just in time for the dog days of summer!

Admission to this tasting is free, and no reservations are required!

If you can’t make it Friday, stop by on Saturday:

Event Date: Saturday, July 31, 2:00pm – 5:00pm
Description of tasting:
Few cocktails can capture the feeling of summer like the Gin & Tonic. The trinity of ingredients- the squeeze of lime, the bite of quinine, the juniper-fueled expression of spirit- encapsulate the essence of refreshment on a hot NYC day….anyone thirsty? Stop by the salon for USQ’s Summer Sereis: The G&T Invitational! Featured producers include Europe’s Bulldog Gin, Boudier Saffron Gin, and Old Raj Gin, domestic spirits from Farmer’s Organic Gin, Ransom Old Tom Gin, Death’s Door Gin, Aviation Gin, Junipero Gin, and the Finger Lakes Distillery’s Seneca Drums Gin!

Admission to this tasting is free, and no reservations are required!

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