Naval Stores

Until Firefox gets the hang of tracking paths through the browser history, I can’t quite say exactly who started this idea in motion, but I can say what did: an article on using one’s discarded Christmas tree in various dishes, which crossed my transom around about the same time as Imbibe Magazine‘s 2010 Christmas card, which features a cocktail called Walk in the Woods containing Zirbenz, a Swiss liqueur made from the fruit of the Arolla Stone Pine. I doubted that anyone else in the house would like to have their lunch garnished with fir, so why not use it to make a drink?

After removing the Douglas Fir from the house, I dismembered it to simplify handling, then moved it to the garage. It was a fairly warm day, as far as the days this January went, but I’d rather not work in a foot or more of snow. There it sat until this past Monday. I then removed some of the more fragrant needles from the branches and washed them. Yesterday I put a handful or so in a 16 oz. Mason jar. This covered the bottom of the jar to about a 2 inch depth. I then added Tito’s Handmade Vodka up to the 12 oz. mark, put the top on, and let it sit for 24 hours. The result was strained through cheese cloth into an empty Tuthilltown whiskey bottle.

Some experimentation might be needed to determine the optimal infusion time: the result is bitter. And it smells just like the tree. It’s too bitter to drink straight, so what’s to be done? A cocktail!

The Naval Stores Cocktail

Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake until cold, then strain into your favorite glass. Serve straight up, without garnish.

I was experimenting as I built this, so the first version was built in an old-fashioned glass, and only shaken to chill. Dissolve the sugar in the vodka infusion, then add rum and lime. Add ice to your shaker, then the liquids, and shake until cold. You might want to sweeten to taste.

(This one is much better than my first attempt at making a cocktail from scratch, so some folks should prepare to be drinking it.)

Bloody Mary is the … Girl I Love

Happy 3rd Birthday, No. 2 Son! Soon we’ll have the family over for a party in your honor, and they’ll be drinking some stuff you can’t, yet.

It must be my upbringing, but when I think of the Bloody Mary, I don’t think of the drink: I think of South Pacific.

So, what shall we have? Shall it be the recipe from Harry’s New York Bar in Paris? The one given by Ernest Hemingway? Some fancy concoction from the Employees Only cookbook? Or a variation using their common base: vodka, tomato, and citrus?

Harry’s Bloody Mary

In shaker or directly in large tumbler: ice, 6 dashes of Worcestershire Sauce, 3 dashes of Tabasco, pinch of salt, pinch of pepper, juice of ½ lemon, 2 ounces of vodka, fill remainder of glass with top-quality tomato juice, and above all no celery salt.Harry’s ABC of Mixing Cocktails

Hemingway’s Bloody Mary

To make a pitcher of Bloody Marys (any smaller amount is worthless) take a good sized pitcher and put in it as big a lump of ice as it will hold. (This is to prevent too rapid melting and watering of our product.) Mix a pint of good russian vodka and an equal amount of chilled tomato juice. Add a table spoon full of Worcester Sauce. Lea and Perrins is usual but can use A1 or any good beef-steak sauce. Stirr. (with two rs) Then add a jigger of fresh squeezed lime juice. Stirr. Then add small amounts of celery salt, cayenne pepper, black pepper. Keep on stirring and taste it to see how it is doing. If you get it too powerful weaken with more tomato juice. If it lacks authority add more vodka. Some people like more lime than others. For combatting a really terrific hangover increase the amount of Worcester sauce – but don’t lose the lovely color. Keep drinking it yourself to see how it is doing. I introduced this drink to Hong Kong in 1941 and believe it did more than any other single factor except perhaps the Japanese Army to precipitate the fall of that Crown Colony. After you get the hang of it you can mix it so it will taste as though it had absolutely no alcohol of any kind in it and a glass of it will still have as much kick as a really good big martini. Whole trick is to keep it very cold and not let the ice water it down.Ernest Hemingway – Selected Letters, 1917-1961, from a letter to Bernard Peyton, April 5, 1947

Bloddy [sic] Mary

The name is intentionally misspelled because I seem to be unable to type two O’s in a row. In the jargon of my trade, it’s a Blod^Hody Mary.

Last night I dreamt that my grandfather on my mother’s side was about to reveal his secret recipe for a Bloody Mary, and then I woke. It would be a secret because, as far as I know, he did not drink. The recipe that follows is closer to Hemingway’s than to his.

Chill a pitcher, then fill halfway full with ice. Cut two whole tomatoes into large pieces, then puree. This should make approximately a pint of tomato juice. Add to the pitcher. Add one pint of vodka. Stir. Add 1 3/4 oz. lemon juice. Stir. Add 1 tablespoon of Worchestershire sauce. Stir. Add 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper. Stir. Add 1/2 tsp. salt. Stir. Grind fresh pepper over the pitcher, about five turns of the grinder. Stir. Wait for your guests.

Serve in a rocks glass, or a highball if you have it. Garnish with fresh pepper and a lemon wedge.


Over the summer Legal Sea Foods offered a cocktail they call the Deadrise.

Huh? What’s a deadrise? A fishy kind of zombie?

Nope. The deadrise is the angle between the bottom of a vessel and the horizontal in the transverse plane. The deadrise is also a kind of a boat used in the Chesapeake.

Legal Sea Foods’ Deadrise looks like this, and contains Belvedere vodka, cucumber, lime, and grapefruit bitters. They were quite willing to make a sample, which was tasty, but I asked that they substitute Hendrick’s Gin for the vodka.

Hmm, I thought, this is definitely a drink I want to make at home. But what’s the recipe? I suppose one could experiment, but not I. No, experimentation is for those without elite research skills. Someone, somewhere, had published this recipe, and I would find it.

Someone had: Blast Magazine, in their article “Six Light Drinks to Sip on This Summer” (July 20, 2010). Something about this recipe is not quite right, given these remarks about, and this interview with, their cocktail program manager, Patrick Sullivan. One wonders if it was altered for wider consumption; one must buy Fee’s grapefruit bitters and find out.



  • 3 slices of cucumber (with skin)
  • 1.5 oz lime cordial
  • 1 pinch of Kosher salt
  • 1.5 oz Belvedere Vodka
  • 2 dashes Fee Brothers grapefruit bitters


Muddle cucumbers, lime cordial and salt in a mixing glass.
Add vodka, bitters and ice.
Top with a metal tin shaker and shake hard; strain into a martini glass.

Made today, the following were muddled, shaken, and strained as above.

  • 3 slices of cucumber (with skin)
  • 0.75 oz lime juice
  • 0.75 oz agave syrup
  • 1 pinch of Kosher salt
  • 1.5 oz Hendrick’s Gin
  • 2 dashes Fee Brothers grapefruit bitters

Now that’s a remarkably close approximation of the drink I had at Legal’s.

The Cosmopolitan

Girlfriend, I present for your classy enjoyment the Cosmopolitan.

Or, rather, a variation thereof since I don’t stock citrus vodka.

The Cosmopolitan

  • 1 1/2 oz. vodka
  • 1 oz. triple sec
  • 1/2 oz. fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 oz. cranberry juice
  • 1 lime wedge, for garnish

Shake well, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with flair.

This recipe differs quite a bit both from the self-styled Perfect Cosmopolitan and the Cosmopolitan mixed by Robert Hess (video below). It’s derived from the recipe at the CocktailDB, which is from The Joy of Mixology, by Gary Regan. Why? Because I happened to read it first.

About the cranberry juice, I did not use Ocean Spray cranberry juice cocktail. It’s sweetened, and I’m not much for the sweeteners. One might use instead the juice from those fresh cranberries just bought to make cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving. I used a store-bought 100% cranberry juice: Nature’s Promise Cranberry juice from Stop & Shop.

Honeycrisp Apple

The recipe below is from Gotham Bar & Grill, by way of Tuthilltown Spirits. I substituted Harvest Spirits’s Core Vodka and Cornelius Applejack instead of Tuthilltown’s Heart of the Hudson vodka and Busnel Calvados.

I don’t need a quart of spiced syrup, and so adjusted the recipe a bit.

  • 1 c. simple syrup
  • 4 cloves
  • a pinch of fennel seed
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 cinnamon stick

Honeycrisp Apple Cocktail

Recipe courtesy of Gotham Bar & Grill

  • 1.5 oz. Heart of the Hudson apple vodka
  • 0.75 oz. Busnel Calvados
  • 0.5 oz. spiced simple syrup (recipe follows)
  • 0.5 oz. fresh lemon juice

Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with an apple chip.

  • 1 qt simple syrup
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 7 whole cloves
  • 1 whole piece star anise
  • 1 whole piece nutmeg, crushed

Add spices to simple syrup. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. Let steep for 30 minutes. Strain spices from syrup through cheesecloth. Refrigerate syrup.

The Wise Sage

James Frederic Rose, of the Temple Bar, New York, has come up with a tasty way to drain one’s bottle of Harvest Spirits‘s Core Vodka. I have misplaced my camera, so you’ll have to do with the distiller’s picture. The recipe below serves two.

Wise Sage

Wise Sage Muddle 6 fresh sage leaves, 4 slices of fresh apple, 2 ounce lemon juice, and 3 teaspoons of fine sugar. Add 4 ounces of Core Vodka. Shake with ice and strain in a chilled martini glass. Garnish with slice of apple.

Moscow Mule

In an attempt to branch out beyond gin, I made a Moscow Mule. The spirit in this drink is vodka, but unless one wants the effects of the alcohol, there’s really no reason to add it. I have two vodkas on my shelf: Core, which is made from apples, and Exclusiv, made from wheat. I used the Exclusiv. The bulk of the flavor comes from ginger beer, and would overwhelm the subtle apple in Core.

The recipe is a variation on that from the CocktailDB. The drink is traditionally, since 1941, served in a copper mug. I do not have a copper mug, and so used a tumbler. An old fashioned glass is recommended by the makers of the ginger beer I used.

Moscow Mule

Build the drink in your glass.

  • The juice squeezed from one lime, about 1 oz
  • A jigger of vodka, 1 1/2 oz.
  • One half of the lime shell
  • Fill with ginger beer and ice