Spirits of Any Kind

Now that I have more than two bitters in the house, let us try something.

A cocktail is spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters. How about an Old-Fashioned with gin?

Gin, the Old-Fashioned Way

  • cube of sugar
  • splash of water
  • 3 dashes grapefruit bitters
  • 2 oz. gin

Build in an old-fashioned glass. Soak the sugar cube with the bitters and muddle with water. Add a cube of ice or two, then the gin. Stir and enjoy.

What Fashion of Gimlet Might This Be?

Having acquired an essential ingredient in the Deadrise, I find myself without another: the cucumber. Well, there’s nothing to it then but to make the necessary sacrifice and drink the result anyway.

Oh, this is good. This is very good. (And without the cucumber it does not give me gas!)

In the back of Speakeasy (Ten Speed Press, 2010) there is a recipe for lime cordial.

As I also do not have Kaffir lime leaves, this prompted the substitution given below.


  • .75 oz. lime juice
  • .75 oz. agave syrup
  • 1.5 oz. Hendrick’s Gin
  • 2 dashes Fee Brothers grapefruit bitters

In a mixing glass, stir well to combine the lime juice and agave syrup. Add the gin and bitters, then shake with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass.

Harvest Punch

We typically host Christmas Day dinner at our house, after my brother-in-law and his wife host the Feast of the Seven Fishes at his. Christmas Day is a more subdued affair, with fewer guests, and more flexibility in the menu. This year we had turkey, and this year I thought I’d serve a punch.

Finding a punch recipe was harder than I thought it would be. There are so many options, and so many of the options require liqueurs and other ingredients that I don’t yet have in my cabinet. Some I considered were Philadelphia Fish House Punch, Garrick Club Punch, Planter’s Punch, Chatham Artillery Punch, and those in this month’s issue of Imbibe Magazine. I settled on this Harvest Punch from Mutineer Magazine. The picture is pretty.

The spirits in the recipe are the fine products of Philadelphia Distilling: Bluecoat Gin and Vieux Carré Absinthe Supérieure. Unfortunately, none of the shops around sells Vieux Carré, and the absinthe varieties they do have seem to insist on using artificial food colorings. I should have decided earlier; I could have ordered by mail. Fortunately, a nearby shop does sell Bluecoat Gin.

As a result of the lack of absinthe I substituted Romana Sambuca. The punch lost, I’m sure, some complexity, but I wouldn’t know: I’ve not had absinthe. I also left out the cranberry bitters.

I’ve reduced this to serve the eight adults at our Christmas dinner, and still had a quart left over. This recipe can be prepared in the punch bowl or in a mixing bowl beforehand. I used a mixing bowl. I did find that the cranberry in the punch is quite strong, and mellows substantially if it rests overnight.

Harvest Punch

  • 375 ml Bluecoat Gin
  • 4 oz Romana Sambuca
  • 4 oz lemon juice
  • 8 oz cranberry juice
  • 20 oz apple cider
  • 6 toasted cardamom pods
  • 2 toasted star anise
  • 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 16 oz. sparkling water
  • 5 dashes Fee Brothers Cranberry bitters
  • 5 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Mint sprigs
  • Orange wheels
  • 6 oz. cranberries

Freeze a thin layer of water and cranberries in a bundt pan, filling about a quarter of the pan.

Toast the cardamom pods and star anise over a medium flame. While waiting for them to toast, squeeze the lemons. In a larger mixing bowl, mix the confectioner’s sugar with the lemon juice until dissolved. Add the gin and sambuca, mix until thoroughly combined with the lemon juice and sugar, then add the remaining ingredients, save the sparkling water and the garnish. Stir well.

At this point you may wish to sample the punch to see if needs adjustment. Bear in mind that the punch will be diluted later by sparkling water and ice. I increased the apple cider ration from 16 oz. to 20 oz. to cut the bitterness of the cranberries.

Combine with sparkling water over ice in a punch bowl. Garnish with cranberries, orange wheels, and mint.

A Martini

The Martini that most folks know, if they order a Martini in a bar, is between six and nine ounces of chilled vodka or gin, perhaps with the glass washed with vermouth. (Great! Three drinks for the price of one!) And depending on the vermouth being used this is perhaps a reasonable caution. However, it’s not a classic Martini: it’s a glass of [insert spirit here].

A lot of mixing drinks is taste, often opinionated taste. This is fine. One can even be snooty about it if one wants. I’ve found that each of the Martini variations I’ve tried has its own taste, some better than others, and its own rewards, such that the proportion I mix tends toward my preference of the moment. Tonight, to go with the Italian Wedding Soup my wife made, I stirred up a Sweet Martini, using Tanqueray London Dry Gin, Martini & Rossi Rosso, and Angostura Bitters.

Sweet Martini

  • 1 1/2 oz gin
  • 3/4 oz sweet vermouth
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters

Stir in a mixing glass and strain in to a cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry.

The proportion here is 2:1 gin to vermouth. This is slightly less gin than called for in the CocktailDB recipe, but if one uses their scaling tool to adjust from a 4.5 oz. glass to a 4 oz. glass, one arrives at this ratio. I have a 4 oz. glass, but wasn’t considering that; I just like the taste at 2:1. Robert Hess, in the video below, uses 3:1. That’s also fine, if one prefers.

Last time I checked James Bond was an imaginary character. And I’m guessing that you probably stopped listening to imaginary characters in childhood. — Robert Hess


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.

Gin Basil Smash

Back when I wrote about mixing my wife’s pesto with gin, the Internet didn’t offer up any suggestions of what do with the pesto. Shortly afterward, however, I ran across this video of a Gin Basil Smash, which provided an idea of what to do the next time I have some fresh basil.

I was reminded of this today when I saw someone had come calling after looking for “gin and pesto,” and, more amusingly, saw that my post was the first result in Google for that search, while a few below was Jörg Meyer’s original description of his Gin Basil Smash, which he called Gin Pesto. I can’t read the German, but Google Translate helps — some. One can watch Jörg Meyer make it, if you’d like, in this nice video by Jay Hepburn.

(And, since it’s just a shame that a borrowed item is the top search result for Gin Basil Smash, here’s a link to the Mixology magazine article that was — how shall we say? — borrowed: Gin Basil Smash.)

I have some basil. Perhaps tomorrow I’ll see what this is made of.

The Gimlet

The Gimlet is one of those drinks, like the martini, where there’s a question of what the correct proportions are. CocktailDB uses a 2:1 ratio of gin to Rose’s lime juice. The recipes in the Wikipedia article on the gimlet use 2:1, 3:1, 3:2, 4:1, and 8:1. BULLDOG gin (our gin of the evening) suggests a ratio of gin to lime to sugar of 3:2:1. Like most things in life, it’s a matter of taste. However, an essential characteristic of a cocktail is balance, so neither the gin nor the lime should dominate.

The Rose’s lime juice one finds in the U.S. markets these days is a concoction of citric acid-flavored high-fructose corn syrup. This is a shame. But don’t worry: I have limes and sugar. Tonight we’ll be trying the 2:1 and 8:1 ratios.

The Gimlet, 2:1

  • 3/4 oz. lime juice
  • 3/4 oz. finely granulated sugar
  • 1.5 oz. gin

The Gimlet, 8:1

  • 1/4 oz. lime
  • 1/4 tsp. finely granulated sugar
  • 2 oz. gin

Shake the lime juice, sugar, and gin with ice, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

The 2:1 ratio is preferred over the 8:1. Surprisingly, the lime was harsher in the 8:1 ratio than it was in the 2:1, possibly because there wasn’t enough sugar to mellow the lime and gin. Unless the 4:1 or 3:2 ratios have something to recommend them, I’ll continue to assert that a gimlet is 2 of gin to 1 of lime.

Pink Gin

Browsing through videos from Robert Hess‘s show The Cocktail Spirit (on the Small Screen Network), I was reminded of the Pink Gin, a cocktail I made back at the beginning of this adventure, before I started writing down what I was making. It is dead simple to make, with only two ingredients: gin and Angostura bitters.

There are two results for Pink Gin in CocktailDB. I’ve made both. They differ slightly, in that the first washes the glass with bitters in addition to mixing bitters with the gin, whereas the second does not. The proportions of gin to bitters are basically the same, and can be varied to taste.

Pink Gin

  • 1 1/2 oz. gin
  • a dash or four of Angostura bitters

Add the gin and bitters to a mixing glass. Add ice, then stir briskly to chill. Strain into a cocktail glass.

Not a Malibu® St. Lawrence Lemonade

Some friends of ours had us over for dinner last night, and, having heard of my hobby, asked me to come up with something to drink. The guideline was simple — “We like Malibu” — so I spent some time among the recipes on the Malibu Rum website. The Malibu Limbo Lady looked interesting, but I have none of the ingredients. I do have what it takes to mix this Malibu St. Lawrence Lemonade, but I didn’t want to use Sprite.

Malibu® St. Lawrence Lemonade

The Malibu® St. Lawrence Lemonade is a fresh and sweet mix of mint, lemon, and coconut.


  • ½ part Malibu®
  • ½ part Absolut® Vodka
  • 3 parts Lemon-Lime Soda
  • 2 sprigs of mint


Fill a tall glass with fresh cubed ice. Smack 2 sprigs of mint between fingers to bruise them and place them in the glass. Pour in Malibu®, Absolut® and lemon-lime soda. Stir vigorously to infuse the mint.

But that’s not what I mixed.

Sometimes one simply needs an idea of what tastes might go well together. I’m not familiar with Malibu, except to know that it’s a coconut-flavored rum. Here’s what I prepared, for two. For this I used a thick, somewhat stubby glass; I’m not sure of its name.

St. Lawrence Lemonade?

  • 4 sprigs of mint
  • 2 oz. fresh lemon juice (one lemon)
  • 1 oz. fresh lime juice (one lime)
  • 2 teaspoons of sugar
  • 1 oz. Malibu Rum
  • 1 oz. Tanqueray London Dry Gin
  • 6 oz. Apollinaris mineral water

Place one sprig of mint in each glass and fill with ice. In a mixing glass, combine the lemon, lime, sugar, rum, and gin. Shake with ice, and strain half into each glass. Top with mineral water, and stir. Smack the remaining mint springs and garnish.

Why is it called a St. Lawrence Lemonade?


D and the children planted a nice garden this year in Gram’s front yard: tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, corn, watermelon, butternut squash, zucchini, and cucumber. We took our first batch of zucchini and cucumber off the vines the weekend of July 17th, and are coming up with some new dishes to eat.

I just happen to have a gin here that claims to taste of cucumber: Hendrick’s. And it does taste of cucumber, if you put a cucumber in the glass with the gin.

First up in the mixing cup was Hendrick’s twist on the martini.

Cucumber Martini

  • 2 1/2 parts Hendrick’s Gin
  • 1/2 part dry vermouth
  • cucumber slice

Stir Hendrick’s Gin and vermouth in a mixing glass with ice. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Finish with a cucumber garnish.

Then in “Ginning Things Up,” Imbibe Magazine (Sept./Oct. 2009), I ran across mention of the Eastside, a variation on the Southside which adds cucumber.

The Eastside

  • 2 oz. gin
  • 1 oz. fresh lime juice
  • 3/4 oz. simple syrup
  • 8 mint leaves
  • 2 slices cucumber
  • Ice cubes
  • Tools: shaker, muddler, strainer
  • Glass: cocktail
  • Garnish: thin slice of cucumber

Using a muddler, lightly crush cucumber and mint leaves in a cocktail shaker. Add liquid ingredients and shake well with ice. Strain into a chilled glass. Float garnish on top of drink.

And the Poughkeepsie Journal just happened to publish a recipe syndicated from McClatchy-Tribune: the Capulet Collins. This is basically the same as the Eastside, but in a Collins glass filled with ice and seltzer water.

Capulet Collins

Mixologist Toby Maloney prefers to make this cocktail with Hendrick’s gin, which has a crisp, cucumberlike flavor note.

  • 3 slices cucumber, each 1/2-inch thick 1 tiny pinch salt
  • 2 mint sprigs
  • 2 ounces gin
  • 1 ounce simple syrup
  • 1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 5 drops rose water, optional
  • Soda water

Muddle cucumber and salt thoroughly in cocktail shaker. Add 1 sprig of the mint. Bruise gently. Add remaining ingredients. Add ice. Shake. Strain into a Collins glass over fresh ice. Top with soda water. Garnish with remaining mint sprig

A Martini

When anyone asks what I’m mixing up now, I say that I’m attempting to perfect my martini. I have a feeling that will hold true for some time.

I enjoyed a Three Olives martini, garnished with three olives stuffed with bleu cheese, at the Bonefish Grill, so the olives in my refrigerator are stuffed with bleu cheese. (Well, they say it’s bleu cheese, but I don’t see any blue on it.)

Tonight, though, my martini did not have an olive in it, nor did it have vodka.

Begin with a chilled glass. Wash the inside of the glass with Martini & Rossi extra dry vermouth. Stir two jiggers (3 oz.) of Beefeater gin with three cubes of ice, about a minute, then strain into the glass. Twist a lemon peel over the drink. Brush the edge of the glass with the peel, and add it (or discard if you prefer) to the drink.