The Orange Russian

Yep, I had to.

The other night in his monologue, Stephen Colbert served this one up on a silver platter.

“You just take a White Russian, you toss in some Cointreau, and a pinch of cat hair — you’re all good.”

orange russian

I omitted the cat hair, dialed down the vodka a bit and subbed the Cointreau for dry Curacao. Despite its origins as a joke, this makes a pretty tasty twist on a White Russian.

Thanks Stephen Colbert. Будем здоровы!

The Orange Russian
1 1/2 oz. vodka
1/2 oz. Curacao
1 1/2 oz. Kahlua
1 1/2 oz. half and half

Add vodka, Curacao and Kahlua to a rocks glass with ice. Top with the half and half.

Del Maguey Vida and the 4 3 1

Some days you just need a little something to whet your palate and warm you up after a rainy walk with the dog.

Today is one of those days, so I made Misty Kalkofen’s 4 3 1, an aptly named combination of Vida mezcal, St Germain, and Ramazzotti amaro.

4 3 1 2

Pairing these three bottles is beyond what I would’ve thought of on my own, but the 4 3 1 is a surprisingly satisfying drink. It’s aromatic and smokey enough to mask the smell of wet dog in my house. It even powers through my seasonal allergy congestion. A really good whiff gets you some of the floral sweetness from the St Germain. Continue reading →

the perfect daiquiri

The true test of a bartender’s skill, says the internet (probably thanks to Sasha Petraske), is the daiquiri.

Cocktail snobs might claim to prefer drinks so laced with amari or shrubs that they’re caustic, but the truth is the classic daiquiri can please just about any palate.


The daiquiri has much more to offer than its sludgy beachside cousins might suggest. Continue reading →

a proper drink: a book review

A Proper Drink is part narrative, part recipe book. In it, Robert Simonson traces the origins and growth of the modern cocktail revival from a dark time before the ubiquity of different types of bitters to the present, where cocktail bars have begun to spring up in suburbs, Nick and Nora glasses are in high demand, and cocktail recipes appear after network news.


Familiar characters amongst cocktail folk, like Dale Degroff and Dave Wondrich* make their appearances — as do more surprising cameos, like TGI Friday’s, whose early days Simonson describes as an “incubator of bartending skill and discipline.” Philip Duff, quoted in the book, goes a step further — “there would be no cocktail movement without them.”  It’s hard to imagine now, when the first drink on their Handcrafted Cocktail Menu is an Ultimate Long Island Iced Tea.

Continue reading →

colleen’s kiss


This is my first post in participation with the Mixology Monday challenge, a “monthly online cocktail party.” Each month, bloggers and cocktail enthusiasts create cocktails around a theme — and this month’s theme, posted by Frederic, is mashups. He mentions a few mashups with the Widow’s Kiss, including the Widow’s Word, which combines the drink with perennial cocktail snob favorite, the Last Word.

I recently tasted my first Widow’s Kiss at Cambridge’s Brick and Mortar, and loved its fall flavors. It’s made with apple brandy, Chartreuse, and Benedictine, so it’s just the right combination of sweet, herbal and apple to make an autumn drink that’s not over the top.

My other favorite cocktail of the moment, the Colleen Bawn, shares the same liqueurs — it’s got the Chartreuse and Benedictine, but switches out the apple brandy for rye, and contains a whole egg. The end result is rich, creamy, and so satisfying on a crisp evening.

So, while I didn’t intend to create another mashup with the Widow’s Kiss, I found it fitting to mash it up with the Colleen Bawn.

Thus: I give you the Colleen’s Kiss. The Benedictine and Chartreuse that the two drinks share are combined with the egg and a touch of rye from the Colleen Bawn and Applejack from the Widow’s Kiss. The result is rich apple pie met with the herbal complexity of the Benedictine and Chartreuse. After making a first round with Applejack, I found it a bit too sweet and added in a touch of rye. I’d be curious to see if these proportions change if I get my hands on a bottle of Calvados to use instead.

colleen’s kiss
1 oz Laird’s Applejack
1/2 oz Bulleit rye
3/4 oz yellow chartreuse
3/4 oz Benedictine
1 egg
1 dash orange bitters
Cinnamon for garnish

Combine ingredients except cinnamon in shaker with ice. Shake vigorously for about 30 seconds, until the shaker is frosted over. Strain and remove ice. Pour ingredients back into the shaker, and dry shake about 20 more seconds. Fine strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with cinnamon.


oaxaca old fashioned

Yet another agave old fashioned.

Unlike the añejo old fashioned from last week, this one uses a blend of smokey mezcal and reposado tequila.

Interestingly (or maybe not), while I love drinking a good añejo by itself, reposado just doesn’t cut it and mezcal is a bit too much for my palate. Combined with a little sweetness and some bitters, though, they’re transformed.

Here, I’m using Del Maguey’s Vida mezcal, which the New York Times calls “unpolished yet sublime.” It’s certainly interesting — fruit and smoke on the nose, funky herbal spiced earth on the palate. For the reposado, I’m using Espolon. It’s got vanilla and caramel on the nose, and since it’s aged it’s got a nice toasty flavor.


oaxaca old fashioned
1 1/2 oz reposado tequila
1/2 mezcal
1 tsp agave nectar
1 dash chocolate bitters
1 dash orange bitters

Stir ingredients in an old fashioned glass. Add a big ice cube and garnish with an orange peel.

añejo old fashioned

The old fashioned is one of the simplest and tastiest cocktails you can make — whiskey, sugar and bitters. But, like many simple cocktails, the base formula lends itself to countless variations. One of my favorites is the añejo tequila old fashioned.


If you’re not that familiar with tequila, you might just know it from margaritas or from the terrible headaches you’ve gotten from a certain leading brand which doesn’t actually make their tequila with 100% agave.

Continue reading →