A Brief Moment of Sobriety

As some of you may know, I do some blogging at AOL. I just put up a post recently which I'd also intended to put up here. As writers who write about drinks, I think it is also imperative to mention the very real consequences of the alcoholic jewels we rave about, even as just a gentle reminder not to enjoy these gems a little too much. Despite all the media that has been devoted to the perils of drinking and driving or even over-consumption, the statistics still show an alarming amount of incidents involving alcohol. Some might point to declining fatality stats as a sign of progress, but my answer to that would be to point out the window on the corner of 1st and Union outside our restaurant late on a Friday or Saturday night.

In other words, be safe out there this New Years.

Okay, okay...

Has it really been that long since I posted something? Really? September? Well, I'm settling in to my new digs, finally, and do have a backlog of cocktails, rants and miscellaneous stuff to share. I promise, some new stuff is on the way.

In fact, I'll make it my New Years resolution...I'll get started...um, tomorrow.

Have a happy and safe New Years, everyone.

Know Your Bartender

Just wanted to post this link because I found it absolutely hilarious. Actually, the whole site is hilarious. Brilliant writing throughout. And if you haven't bought the book, you should.

What kind of bartender are you??? Me? Somewhere between Bar God and Professional. I'm trying hard to move away from Bar God status though.

The Union

My entrant to this Mixology Monday event, hosted by Gabriel over at Cocktail Nerd, marks my first post (gulp) with an original cocktail. As I've mentioned in this space, I don't really consider myself overly talented when it comes to creating new cocktails. I'm no Jamie Boudreau, who seemingly creates three stunningly innovative cocktails per day (I'm sure he comes up with at least one before he's even brushed his teeth in the morning...that dang Canuck!).

Like any proud papa, I'd like to share this cocktail's backstory. Once upon a time we had a bartender at Union who made up a drink called Le Vie en Rose. He misted a cocktail glass with rosewater, then mixed up Absolut Mandarin with Chambord, strained it into the marinated cocktail glass, topped up with bubbly then plopped a rose petal atop the drink. Rose aromatics, a bit of bubbly candy in the glass and a rose petal. . .sheesh, you can imagine how popular it was. Once that bartender left, the drink left with him. The new bar manager and our floor manager didn't like it because the scent of rosewater dominated the bar (and the cabinet where the mister was kept). This disappointed legions of fans, some of whom went out of their way to get one.

I've always wanted to bring this cocktail back, only doing it differently to appease my own palette, and that of my newly betrothed. I wanted to refine this drink for Christine, as a cocktail meant to celebrate our engagement. After some experimentation, Cameron and Anita came in and tried it and came up with a wonderful name, The Pistola Rosa, along with a few helpful observations regarding the composition. Unfortunately, Christine seemed a little bummed, since the name didn't reflect romance or our matrimony. Unbeknownst to her, I think I finally came up with a name, one that also mirrors the name of the restaurant.

So here it is, The Union.

4 mint leaves
2 drops rosewater
2 barspoons cremé de cassis
Muddle above in a pint glass
Add 2 oz Hendricks gin, fill glass with ice then stir
Pour into a cocktail glass, top off with 1 oz prosecco or other light bubbly
Garnish with a single rose petal

No pic of it just yet, since I broke my camera and it's off being repaired. It should come back this week and I'll post a picture of it then, because it really is a pretty drink.

Know I just have to come up with a drink that uses the wonderful name Cameron and Anita came up with. That is, if that @&*#!!! Boudreau doesn't beat me to it.

Well, Howdy AOL Readers

Just want to take a moment to welcome AOL food and drink blog readers to my darkened and frequently neglected corner of the internet.

For the five or six of you who read this site regularly, let me announce that my friend Kat Kinsman has brought me aboard as a contributor to AOL and their food and drink blog site. Should be great. I believe we're calling the column Raising the Bar (har!!).

Essentially, the gist is to give readers ideas on how to expand their repertoire when they walk into a bar.

And for that, I'll be playing the bartender.

I raise a Sazerac in your direction, my friends. I encourage you to peruse the cocktail blog sites listed on the left. They are the best of their kind; all of them are brilliantly written and chock full of knowledge. Good people to boot. Welcome to our little subculture, the drinks are great here.


(ah, Jeffrey has pointed out how useful it would be for me to post a link. Doh!!! Smart guy, that Jeffrey. You can find the first post here, along with a familiar shot of my smarmy mug).

A Shout Out to Cameron and Anita

That wonderful duo, Cameron and Anita from Married With Dinner popped into Union last night, which for me turned an otherwise unremarkable Labor Day Friday night into something special. I was lucky enough to borrow them from Murray and the Zig Zag crowd for a couple hours and they humored me by sampling a few new cocktails I'm experimenting with, providing incredibly useful commentary and ideas on how to refine them. I've never considered myself very talented when it comes to inventing new cocktails, preferring instead to concentrate on educating myself (and my guests) on forgotten and under-ordered classics. I have to admit, I was a little nervous, same as when Murray or Kacy happen to pop up at the bar. They are, of course, very gracious and fun to talk with, and I'll definitely take them up on their offer to tour San Fran's bars (as much fun as it is to have them at the bar, I imagine it'll be even more fun to be on the other side of the bar with them).

Thanks again for popping in, Anita and Cameron.

Two Posts In One Day!!!

Haven't thrown down a good rant in awhile. Given that I'm riding a pretty good high right now (engaged, good weather, decent baseball being played here in Seattle, just had some great guests over, Labor Day coming up), this seems an odd time to pitch a hissy fit... but here's a few just to get them off my chest.

Dirty Martinis.
Yeah, who came up with this one? What a good way to waste some tasty booze. The other night, I had a clown who wanted his extra extra extra dirty. Know what he got? 3 parts olive juice to a drop of vodka. Verdict? Delicious, although the poor guy went through three glasses of water before he finished it, mua ha ha ha!

Pomegranate and cucumber drinks. Really, I'm just waiting for the fad to pass. Pomegranate may have some legs, but my money is on the cuke trend burning out before too long.

Not knowing your surroundings
. Union is a fine-dining restaurant, and our decor reflects this. So walking in and being mortally pissed that we don't carry Miller Lite or Pucker cracks me up. Two ditzy chicks walked in and complained over our lack of, ahem, "normal beer", missing that we have several iconic Belgian and German beers. I don't get mad when I go to KFC and they don't offer a burger.

High fives and WOO HOO's
. Get a hold of yourself there, brother.

Long Island Iced Teas
. Nothing screams ROOKIE more than this drink. Really, what they want is a fast buzz, so I introduce them to Stroh '80' (a 160 proof abomination from Austria) and then watch them pinball out the door with cartoon stars spangling around their noggin.

Making me read the menu to you because you didn't bring your glasses. Honestly, you wouldn't believe how often this happens. Pack some reading glasses, Mr. Magoo!

"What's good?" Uh, everything!!! Were you expecting a different answer?

Making out (and I mean really making out) at the bar. Get a hold of yourself there, sister.

Snobbery. Yeah, gotta save this one for last, because I can be guilty of this sometimes (I'm looking at you, weekend warrior. . . WOO HOO! I got your Apple Pucker right here). Really, I just try and have fun at work and not take myself too seriously, and usually do just that. Bartending is a gas, most of the time, and I haven't found a better job.

Enjoy the last days of summer everyone. See you in September.

The Spumoni

By now you might have noticed the sidebar I recently included on this site, the current cocktail menu at Union. I've been wanting to post it since seeing Jeffrey Morgenthaler's menu. He has his as a PDF, but I'm far too dumb and lazy to figure out how to do that, so I just presented it this way.

With fall coming, most of these cocktails will get the elbow. The Spumoni, however, won't be one of them. This spin on the woefully under-ordered Americano is too easy to whip up, my boss loves it, it's popular and, of course, it be too dang tasty to bump aside.

The Spumoni
1 oz Campari
1 oz fresh grapefruit juice
1 oz tonic water
Build in collins glass, garnish with an orange twist.

That's it. The pub for the drink goes to our old bar manager, Jerry Tide. It is utterly simple, both in construction and taste. The little bugger is refreshing too, and given the low alcohol content, you can knock 'em back all friggin' night.

What a Long Strange Trips It's Been

Well, I missed the party this Monday, and I never miss a good party, especially when it's thrown by people who know their way around the sauce. And for the second month in a row I managed to squeak out three measly posts and have barely had time to read through my favorite blogs.

So what's up? Plenty, my friends, plenty.

The weather's been great, the Mariners are in playoff contention, I 'pulled a Waldbauer' and dropped my digital camera (so no pics for a bit), a family reunion in Oregon, extra days tending bar, family dropping into town, my 20th year high school reunion (sheesh), brainstorming ideas to improve the bar and update the cocktail menu at Union, planning my wedding, studying and plotting the cocktail books I'm writing, trying to quit smok. . . woops, what was that????

Did I say wedding? Yup. I'm happy to announce that Christine and I have gotten engaged!!! After three and a half years, I finally get to call her my fiancé.

Right now we're planning on a Caribbean beach wedding (I'm just gone on the idea of a barefoot, tropical beach reception, whooping it up with some aged rum and a steel pan band in the background). And I wish I could invite every one of you, but since space is limited for us down there, I'll have to find another way to share a round of drinks with my favorite drinkers.

Oh, how about an engagement party?

Keep your ears open in the next month (in other words, once I can catch my breath), I'll be announcing an engagement cocktail party similiar to the Mixology Monday events, and you're all invited. Theme? I'm open to suggestions, but I have a few ideas.

Oh, and Dr. Bamboo, just wanted you to know I celebrated my engagement with . . . ta da! A gin and tonic. (and having just finished reading your recent post, I toast your newborn and your new life as a father with one as well)


Yup. That's me, staring longingly at a bathtub chock-filled with hooch. Let me explain....

You see, just before the 4th of July weekend, I went to NYC for the wedding of one of my best friends in the whole wide world. At the pre-wedding dinner, Christine and I mentioned we had bought the bride and groom a bottle of Lucid, the new legal absinthe being sold in the city, to Kat, one of those electric human beings you run into every now and then who seems to know everybody and everything. She told us we simply had to go to this one liquor store in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn. The way she described this little place, I felt my life would be lesser if I didn't make the trip.

And wouldn't you know it, it probably would have.

First, we couldn't find a cab driver who even knew how to get us to Red Hook. You should know we were already in Brooklyn, staying at the Marriott near the Brooklyn Bridge. I had to get us there, reading the map for the cabbie. What should have been a ten minute ride from the hotel ended up being closer to 30 minutes. Beginning to sound like the quest for the Holy Grail?

In a way, yes. Welcome to Lenell's, the coolest liquor store on the planet.

You want bourbon? They've got the largest selection in NY. Rye? In addition to their own (which, apparently, kicks all kinds of ass), they've got a hefty amount. The gin is stored in a bath tub, seen in the picture above. There are tastings every day, Chartreuse VEP when I went.

I was duly stunned. My gast was flabbered.

I don't have the space to go into everything they do, or everything they have. Go to the website, browse around, peruse the gallery and their selections. Plonk yourself on their mailing list. And for the love of King Arthur and his Knights, embark on the quest the next time you're in NY.

The Ines Cocktail

First, a big huzzah!!! to Paul for hosting a deliriously fun Mixology Monday. I haven't had time to browse through all the blog love, but somewhere in between this post and compiling my recipes into book format, I plan to.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I've got a backlog of drinks I'd like to write about, starting with one of the weirder cocktails I know. This one, like so many others, was introduced to me via Ben Dougherty at Seattle's iconic Zig Zag. It graced the menu at Union for a hot second, until the seasons changed and found itself elbowed aside.

The history behind The Ines Cocktail is slim. All I know is that it won a 1982 bartender challenge in Portugal, whipped up by Alain Nevers of France. Ben found it in an out-of-print cocktail book, then made one for me.

1 3/4 oz gin
1/2 oz sweet vermouth
1/2 oz dry vermouth
1/4 oz amaretto

Stir, strain into chilled cocktail glass
Add one green olive as garnish

After Ben made it, he watched me taste it, furrowed his brow and said something like "it's pretty interesting, isn't it? It's good..."

Interesting is a good word for it. It's an odd little bugger. The combination of Amaretto and gin and an olive seems to throw people off, yet it works, darn it. Something about the sweet-almond flavor of the Amaretto and the saltiness of the olive creates an ethereal flavor I've never tasted in a cocktail.

Just about every bar has the ingredients (Christine even had me instruct a bartender at a casino how to make one). Rather than buying Amaretto for this one drink, I'd recommend you jot the recipe down and teach your local bartender how to make it. It's worth the effort.

Drinks like The Ines are hopefully what this site can be about....saving really good cocktails from the scrap heap.

My Pink Elephant

Been far too long since I threw an entry down, or even trolled through the ever-growing cocktail blogosphere. There are quite a few reasons (excuses?) for that, one of which dovetails slightly with todays Mixology Monday theme. First, the weather in Seattle has been, in a word, sweet. We just don't get that many spectacularly hot and sunny days here. It's kind of hard to be home and blog when the weather is so nice. And second, I've just been flat-out busy either working or going out or recovering from going-out (my hooch intake during the summer borders on the ridiculous).

But really, Paul's public call as to why we blog couldn't have come at a better time. I've been stuck. Not that I don't have a backlog of drinks to highlight, but I've been stuck on the why I blog bit along with - more importantly - what I want my blog to be.

A little background on two elements which got me started blogging. About sixteen years ago, I read 'On the Road' by Jack Kerouac and I, like thousands of other brethren before me, got the I-WANNA-BE-A-WRITER bug. I even went to Boulder, Colorado and graduated with a degree in writing from The Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at the Naropa Institute, studying at the elbows of those same characters I read about in Kerouac's books (all of them except Jack and Neal, of course). I tried working on a novel, the title of which is now the title of this blog. After years of writing, I finally decided I flat-out don't have the stamina to complete my book. I ho-hummed my way around America for awhile waiting tables, looking for something else to tie my identity around, until one day I stood behind a bar and helped the bartender kick out Cosmos and Margaritas to a thankless rabble during a private party.


So, blogging is a way to get my writing chops back (gotta say, I'm feeling pretty rusty, too), and on a topic I really do love. But this is non-fiction, a completely different beast. Non-fiction requires a type of superior knowledge which often trudges toward education, and this is what invites the thousand-pound pink elephant into the room (ha! I love mixing metaphors). Skimming through the blogs, I'm always reminded how much everyone involved knows about cocktails, history and lore, spirits and bartending. Is there anything new I have to contribute? I don't know, really. I don't feel comfortable enough to be an educator. What I do know is that are a bajillion cocktails out there, some have been undeservedly put out to pasture, and my direction will probably focus on uncovering those which should get more love.

Ok, on to the blog love-fest...

Truly, I browse through all the sites I have listed, and keep them on there because I like them and want you to like and visit them as well. I tend to gravitate toward other bartenders, so Explore the Pour, Jeffrey Morgenthaler, Drinkboston, Spirits and Cocktails, Jimmy's Cocktail Hour, and the Bottle Gang are the ones I usually hit first. But my biggest shout-out goes to the one who initiated this post and inspired me to try my own blog (and also the one I plagarize the most)... Paul.

Maybe it's because he's from Seattle and I'm a shameless homer... maybe it's because I have a black belt in kiss-ass and he is our host today... or maybe it's simply because he knows more than me and writes better to boot and has a unique talent to beat me to topics I want to write about. The updates are frequent and entertaining and inspiring.

The drink? The Ganesvoort Fizz. To be fair, I had noticed the recipe in Wondrich's book well before I read Paul's blog entry, but his unabashed enthusiasm for it got me off my ass. I wrote a little about it one of my earlier posts and eventually this little gem found its way onto the Union cocktail menu.

The Ganesvoort Fizz

2 oz medium-bodied rum
1 oz fresh lemon juice
1 oz Drambuie
2 dashes Peychaud bitters

Shake, strain into a highball glass, top with soda.

Cheers everyone. I've got a barload of cocktail recipes coming up. Stay tuned.

And last but not least, should any of you fine bloggers come to Seattle, let me know... your first drink at The Zig Zag will be on me.

Arsenic and Old Lace

I missed out on this months Mixology Monday. Rather, I let it pass by, mostly because I didn't know any cream-based cocktails that I loved and felt the need to pass on. I did figure I could throw in a créme-based cocktail, but the only one I'm in love with now is the Arsenic and Old Lace, featuring the regrettably impossible to find créme de violette, which I thought might be unfair (as in, here is this great cocktail, you can't make it, neener-neener-neener.. ptttttttttt)

Paul over at Cocktail Chronicles did just that, however, and now I feel the need to share this drink, because it is truly extradordinary.

Like most cocktails I've had recently, this one was introduced to Christine and I by Ben and Murray at the Zig Zag. It's almost impossible to describe. The flavors are delicate, that is the first thing you notice, and long after you've finished it, the delicacy is the element you remember. All the flavors are there, but the violet is haunting and seductive, as if you're sipping on the essence of the flower alone.

The recipe I have comes from Cocktail DB. Not sure if this is exactly how Murray and Ben make it, as they tend to re-interpret and improve upon recipes.

Arsenic and Old Lace
1 1/2 oz gin
1/2 oz pastis
1/2 oz créme de violette
1/4 oz dry vermouth
Stir, strain into cocktail glass, garnish with a lemon twist.

This is now the initial cocktail Christine orders when she sits down at the Zig Zag. Also, it is so unique and fascinating it's inspired me to try and craft some homemade violet liquer.

Too late for Mixology Monday, but if you can track down a bottle of créme de violette, or if you can find someone to bring you a bottle from Japan or France, stir one up and see for yourself.

Jones Complete Bar Guide

I've been trolling the internet for this book for what seems like forever. Not long ago, it popped up on eBay and became my first purchase on that site.

Lucky me....

The Jones Complete Bar Guide is the product of a lifetime of experience and research by Stan Jones. Jones had been a lifer in the restaurant management business and involved in nearly every aspect of the beverage industry. The back-jacket pictures show a man in touch with the hilarious fashion sense of the early 70's, huge black-rimmed glasses, an intimidating afro and a chin second only to Dick Tracy's.

Clocking in at nearly 500 pages, this book has nearly everything you could want in a cocktail book: in-depth history of the spirtis industry, backgrounds on major brands, origins of famous cocktails, and approximately 1 bazillion cocktail recipes. Seriously. There are enough forgotten cocktails in this monster to scratch your research itch for years.

Come to think of it, it seems this is close to becoming a forgotten cocktail book, which would be a shame. It deserves a space on every serious cocktail-geek's bookshelf.

Aside from the merits I've just outlined, there is one other aspect I love about this book; the layout. It is large. One thing I dislike about pocket-sized guides is that it's difficult to make a cocktail while reading the recipe at the same time. The Jones Complete Bar Guide is large enough where it can lay on the table next to you while you're building the cocktail that made your mouth water.

In short, were I to write a cocktail guide (something I've been spending a fair amount of time plotting), this is the book I'll use as my model.

Hunt it down, if you can, my fellow cocktail dorks. It is a classic.

When a Fizz is a Collins and a Smash is a Julep

Fizzes and fixes and flips.... well, I was gonna finish that with the Wizard of Oz ditty, but I'll take whatever shred of dignity and taste I have remaining and spare everyone.

This post is a selfish one, wherein I try to get these categories settled. There's some convolution here, in that some of the categories blur into one another depending on the cocktail book you're reading, exactly the same as how cocktail recipes vary from book to book. I would love some feedback if someone's definition is different than posted here.

Let's dig in.

Buck: spirit, lemon or lime juice, ginger ale (or ginger beer?) I'm unsure if ginger beer excludes a cocktail from the buck category. Does this mean a Moscow Mule and a Gin-Gin Mule is actually a buck???

Cobbler: wine or sherry, simple syrup, crushed ice, gobs of fresh fruit as garnish.

: spirit, sugar (simple syrup), lemon juice built in a highball, topped with soda water with a lemon or orange twist and a cherry as garnish. A different spirit changes the name of the collins...
Tom Collins: London dry gin.
John Collins: in London, Holland gin. In America, bourbon or whiskey.
Pedro Collins: white rum
Rum Collins: dark rum
Captain Collins: Canadian whisky
Sandy Collins: Scotch whisky
Colonel Collins: bourbon
Mike Collins: Irish whiskey
Pierre Collins: Cognac
Joe Collins: Vodka (why it's not something like a Boris Collins is beyond me)
Rueben (or Pepito) Collins: tequilla
Pisco Collins: Pisco (natch)

Cooler: this one's a snap. Spirit, carbonated beverage over ice, citrus twist.

Daisy: spirit, fruit syrup or grenadine, crushed ice, topped with soda water.

Fizz: spirit, citrus juice, simple syrup, soda water. Sound familiar? Yup, the ingredients are exactly the same as a Collins. The differences lie in the garnish, preparation and glass. A Collins is built in the glass it is served in, a highball. A Fizz is shaken (prior to adding the soda water), strained into a rocks-filled old-fashioned glass, then topped with the soda water. Fizzes also frequently contain an egg. Here's a list of the different Fizzes, according to egg component:
Silver Fizz: egg white
Golden Fizz: egg yolk
Royal Fizz: whole egg

Flip: wine, spirit, liqueur, or even beer, whole egg, sugar and sometimes cream, straight up in a wine goblet, either hot or cold, fruit garnish.

Gimlet: spirit, simple syrup, Rose's lime juice. Not fresh squeezed lime juice, but Rose's specifically.

Julep: spirit, mint, simple syrup, crushed ice. The word julep comes from the Arabic (julap) which means 'rose water'. The irony of course is that there is no rose water in a julep.

Rickey: order a gimlet in my bar, and this is what you'll get...spirit, fresh lime juice, simple syrup.

Sling: spirit, juice, bitters, fruit brandy, soda water, fruit garnishes.

Smash: spirit, mint, simple syrup. Now this sounds just like a bleeping julep, to me. I've read that lemon juice is added to differentiate it from a julep, and also that crushed ice is actually the difference-maker. Sigh. Any help out there???

Sour: spirit, lemon juice, simple syrup. Not so hard. Quite a few recipes include egg white. Obviously, there are a lot of people who take issue with the egg. What I do is top it off with soda water in the shaker, then shake the crap out of it as if it contained egg white. Then you get foam without the textural and trace flavor of the egg. Personally, I like the egg... in some sours.

I skipped over a few (highball, crusta, swizzle, toddy), but I think I hit the majors. And maybe, just maybe, I cleared up these terms for myself.

The Zig Zag Cafe

Where do I start?

Is it enough that I refer to this bar as my University? I haven't been to class in a while, but I never fail to learn something whenever I visit... a new drink, a cocktail book, an obscure flavoring of some sort, a methodology...

Or, even, my Temple Step down the Pike Place stair-walk and that yellow awning greets you, candlelights backlighting the bar, the crowd of regulars and fellow bartenders and cocktail/spirit enthusiasts hunched on the bar... When I walk in an awe-inspired hush moves through me, all those bottles winking and grinning. Setting my hands on that bar with my back slightly hunched even becomes a sort of half-bow...

...It is my perfect bar. There! I said it. I'm not the only who feels that way, of course. Anyone who owns a cocktail blog and has visited has gushed over it: Robert at Drinkboy, Paul at Cocktail Chronicles, Cameron and Anita at Married with Dinner...several others, and now that collective of unabashed enthusiasts include me.

It starts, of course, with the bartenders. Murray Stenson, has been written about extensively, here, here, and here, to name a few without even including the aforementioned blogs. He is one of the most efficient bartenders I've seen, his technique exact and fluid. His memory is jaw-dropping, his encyclopedic knowledge of cocktails and spirits legendary. All of that comes with an inspiring level of service and an eagerness to share his craft. If anything, the accolades fall far short of the experience.

Most other bartenders (including yours truly) would be lessened in comparison, but Kacy Fitch and Ben Daugherty are most definitely not just 'other bartenders'. They don't get as much press, which is a shame; they are equally skilled, equally knowledgeable, equally a joy to talk to and laugh with.

They are collectively the three best bartenders in the city. How many places can boast that!

Then there's the ambience. Those three could sling drinks out of the back of an ice-cream truck and I'd still go, but the Zig Zag has a unique feel and a pitch-perfect setting. There is a patio ringed with potted plants, intimate tables, circular booths, a standing bar plus a dozen highly-prized bar stools... in short, every conceivable seating request. Behind the bar is the largest well I've ever seen, a staggering collection of booze lovingly lit by candles, and a library of old cocktail books quietly awaiting discovery.

Finally, it is located off the beaten path, lending a type of in-the-know speakeasy element, just shy of a city-wide secret. Borrowing some of that historic, turn-of-the-century vibe doesn't hurt either...it feels like it's been a treasured part of the city forever.

If you're coming to Seattle, it simply has to be on your itinerary. Kacy, Ben and Murray deserve to be among the wealthiest and most universally acclaimed bartenders in America, and you deserve to experience their legendary cocktails and standard-bearing service.

I raise my glass to you gentlemen.

Thank you for making me a better bartender. And thank you for the Zig Zag Cafe.

Quit F*&$%in' With My Manhattans!!!!

Honestly, I'm not the anal retentive type. I have few rules when it comes to my bar, which is the way I think it should be. I may grumble about making Long Island Iced Teas or Bloody Mary's or Duck Fart shots, but they don't make me mad. A careless Manhattan, though? Don't get me started...

Actually, it's too late... the pump has been primed and I'm already on a roll. Put on your seat belt and grab a helmet....


Just got done reading an article in the latest Food and Wine about Philadelphia. In the article, Editor Dana Cowin mentions having a great cocktail scene is part of what makes a great food city, then goes on to mention the best cocktail in the city is a Manhattan.... wait for it...shaken by Kip Waide at Southwark.


Now, Dana Cowin should know better. Each year, Cowin and friends travel the country and release a wonderful collection of original and classic cocktails prepared by the best bartenders in the best bars. Sooooooo, Dana, how can I say this nicely....

If the best cocktail in the city is a SHAKEN Manhattan, you've got to get the hell out of that town!!!!!

The only good Manhattan is a stirred one. Made with good rye or superior bourbon. Furthermore, it should have a rich vermouth (not the cheap crap. Vya is the choice here). A healthy dash of bitters too. Then stirred. No Manhattan should come with a head on it. One more time....

...no Manhattan should come with a head on it!!!

And if the bartender insists on shaking the crap out of one, step away from the bar...in fact, turn your back and walk out. If you must stay, order a beer.

As I like to say, life is too short for crappy drinks.

The Royal Bermuda Yacht Club Cocktail

One of the few benefits of a slow night in the bar is the ability to test out cocktails. At Union, I'm lucky enough to have a kitchen crew who is as equally curious about trying out drinks as I am in making them. Sundays are usually the day I get to experiment, though this usually happens during service and they can only have a few sips. A recent Saturday night, however, gave me a rare opportunity to help the kitchen crew get their buzz on (ok, that part is not so rare) with some new drinks, at a time when they're ready to party (again, not so rare for Saturday night).

I'd been making Jason Stoneburner, our extraordinarily talented chef de cuisine, Ganesvoort Fizzes during their cleanup. By the time he was done, I'd run out of Drambuie, and a new cocktail needed to be whipped up. He'd had his first Ganesvoort Fizz the previous night and had been so excited he did some research to a) find out how to pronounce it and b) find another drink I could make him. Somehow, he landed on the Bermuda Rum Swizzle, a drink I'd never made but had the general idea. I mistakenly thought it contained Cointreau. I threw one together and Jason loved it, as did the rest of the table, so I made four more. Then I began to have second thoughts about the Cointreau. Sure enough, a gander at the recipe revealed no Cointreau.

I got home around 4 a.m. and dived into my new Jones Complete Bar Guide (review on this beautiful monster forthcoming) and sure enough, discovered The Royal Bermuda Yacht Club, a Bermuda Rum Swizzle with Cointreau.

1 3/4 oz Barbados Rum
1/2 oz lime juice
1/4 oz Cointreau
1/4 oz Falernum (I always jump at the chance to show my Falernum off)
Shake, strain into cocktail glass

I made this with both Barbados rum and Bermuda rum with equal success. If you enjoy richer flavor, go with the Goslings Black Seal Bermuda. Personally, I thought it was funny not using Bermuda rum given the name of the drink, then again Barbados rum allows the other ingredients more of the spotlight.

Three days later, I snapped the above picture of Christine enjoying one in the sun on our back porch. No yacht, no Bermuda, but she's got the drink so she's at least one step closer...

Bartender v.s. Mixologist

Does this turf war exist, or am I igniting one?

I just read an old interview with Ryan Magarian, a local mixologist who works with Kathy Casey Food Studios. He asserts a difference between a bartender and a mixologist, claiming a bartender to be more like a line cook and a mixologist to be more like a head chef. Taking the analogy one step farther, he seems to claim that a mixologist is an artist, while a bartender simply does the grunt work. This implies bartenders lack artistic vision.

That may be true of some bartenders, but I always have a problem with blanket statements such as that. I personally consider it part of my job to create new cocktails, to ensure consistentcy in recipes and to display some sort of artistic vision in our menus. It's an overly simplistic view to assume bartenders don't respect their crafts while mixologists do. It might be true to say that for every bartender who truly cares about his craft there are hundreds more who only sling drinks for tips while they work toward a different career, to state flat-out that only mixologists care about their craft is, in a word, wrong.

I can't stand when people call me a mixologist or a bar chef. It's embarassing. I'm a bartender, and damn proud of that. Everything Magarian claims for himself as a mixologist, I find to be inherent in my job description.

All of this may just be hair-splitting semantics, but my own definition of mixologist would be simply someone who creates cocktails but doesn't earn a living tending bar. If Magarian no longer works behind a bar, that'd be fair to call him a mixologist.

Overall, however, I've a feeling Magarian is just trying to seperate himself from the common bartender. Me, I'm proud to trace my lineage from Jerry Thomas (try explaining how that guy was not an artist) to the flair bartender wowing the crowd on a Saturday night, to the server feeding cans of Budweiser to thirsty blue-collar workers at your local hole-in-the-wall.

Bartenders are equal parts line cook and executive chef. To suggest otherwise is neither accurate nor fair. There is no doubting Magarian's talent, nor his resumé, and I have tremendous respect for his devotion to our craft and his contributions to our cocktail library. I only wish he had greater respect for bartenders.


I'm not an expert in my field, let's just start there and get that out of the way. There are numerous sites out there that thoroughly cover the full range of topics in the cocktail and spirit world, and if they don't, the massive library going back over 100 years does. So what can I contribute that's new??? Not sure, but I'm going to pitch a few pennies and see....

My first penny is my own experiments with falernum.

Falernum, for the unitiated, is a syrup/sweetener used in tropical drinks, sometimes with alcohol, sometimes without. Here in Seattle, it is difficult to get a hold of , though the non-alcoholic version by Fee Brothers is now available at DeLaurenti near the Pike Place Market. The alcohol version, however, is unavailable. If you're anything like me, when something is unavailable, I become obsessed with obtaining it somehow (like Creme Yvette, Dave Embury's book etc.) When I learned there were recipes out there to make your own, well, I just had to take a crack at it.

I was first introduced to falernum by Kacy over at the Zig Zag Cafe here in Seattle. (A profile on the Zig Zag will have to be forthcoming, as it deserves a blog entry of its own...). The taste of fresh lime, cloves, almonds was unlike anything I'd ever had. Kacy told me they'd gone through a series of batches until they settled on their current recipe. He gave me the ingredients off the top of his head, but didn't have the proportions with him. He also told me the process, but by then I'd had a few Corn-n-Oils and his instructions were lost in the vapors...

Paul Clarke detailed his own trials and errors on his website, and his latest batch looked like a good place to start, so I gleefully ripped off his instructions without his permission, brought in Kacy's ingredients, and went from there.

The Ingredients
6 oz Cruzan 2 year white rum
9 limes
40 cloves
40 whole allspice berries
1.5 oz ginger (by weight)
Pure vanilla extract
Pure almond extract
Homemade simple syrup

And now for Paul's instructions... with some, ahem, liberal adjustments...
*Zest the limes, being careful not to slice so deep you get the white pith (a microplane grater works best for this), then set the limes aside
*Julienne the ginger (i.e. cut into matchstick strips)
*Add into mason jar, along with the rum, cloves and allspice berries
*Piss off your significant other by taking up room in the refrigerator, right next to your homemade pimento dram, various grenadines and other infused syrups
*Let it sit with optimum serenity overnight

*The next day, strain the solids from the infused rum through a cheesecloth, pressing on the solids to extract all the goodness
*Dump the solids into a saucepan, along with 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar, essentially making an infused simple syrup. Heat water until sugar is dissolved.
*After it has cooled, strain syrup into mason jar and mix with the rum
*Add juice pressed from the 9 zested limes held over from the day before
*Add two tsps each of vanilla extract and almond extract
*Wait 24 hours, then, Dr. Frankenstein, test your creation in a much-deserved drink

How does it turn out? At first, the lime and clove dominate, but eventually every ingredient integrates. This falernum keeps it's snappy lime flavor, and the spices and flavorings stay in the background where they belong.

The drink to test it on? The Corn-N-Oil, of course...

2 1/4 oz. Cruzan Blackstrap St. Croix rum
3/4 oz. your freakishly delicious new falernum syrup
1 dash Angostura bitters

Build in a rocks glass, garnish with a lime wedge, dutifully squeezing it into the drink.

Dance Around the Maypole

Happy May Day to all the socialists and Wiccans out there. Today is the day of my first post, and I'll have to lobby Wikkipedia to add my blog to it's May Day page. This will allow non-socialists and non-Wiccans the ability to celebrate May Day as well.

So, my initial 'Cocktail of the Day' selection begins on International Workers Day and on a pagan holiday. I'm not sure if there is an over-arching meaning to this, but my cocktail selection will most certainly have to reflect the spirit of the day.

I am not aware of any pagan cocktails (though a quick Web search revealed some bizarre ones, such as the Witches Brew on Cocktail.com, which doesn't read well).

Ahem, on to the socialist inspired cocktails then, of which there are a few. We could select any of the classic Cuban drinks, as I'm sure Fidel Castro would encourage. 'La Floridita', 'El Presidente', a 'Mojito' or two, a 'Cuba Libre', the 'Papa Dobles', heck, any Daiquiri would do today as well. In fact, I strongly recommend drinking your way through the entire Cuban cannon. My initial feeling, though, is that today is not the best day to honor those glorious Cuban barmen who kept Hemingway and countless other thirsty expats satiated during the dark days of Prohibition. Plenty of other days on the calender to raise our collective glasses in their memory.

So today's 'Cocktail of the Day' and this blog's initial selection goes to 'The Communist'. This recipe is from my favorite cocktail author Dr Cocktail aka Ted Haigh, from his book 'Vintage Spirits & Forgotten Cocktails'. If you don't own this book, get it; Dr Cocktail deserves to be wealthy.

1 oz gin
1 oz orange juice
1/2 oz cherry brandy
3/4 oz lemon juice

A gin and juice cocktail. Snoop Dogg would be proud. Power to the peoples.

Cocktail Recipes

* Absinthe Frappe - Absinthe, sugar, water
* Aku Aku - Rum, peach liquer, mint, lime juice, pineapple, simple syrup
* Alfonso - Dubonnet, sugar, Angostura bitters, Champagne
* Algonquin - Rye, pineapple juice, dry vermouth
* Americano - Campari, sweet vermouth, soda water
Ancient Mariner
* Anejo Highball - Rum, orange curacao, lime juice, Angostura bitters, ginger beer
* Aperol Sour - Aperol, lemon juice, simple syrup, orange bitters
* Applejack Old-Fashioned - Applejack, maple syrup, Fee Brothers Whiskey Barrel Aged bitter
* Arsenic & Old Lace- Gin, creme de violette, dry vermouth, absinthe
* Ascot - Bourbon, Amaretto, peach bitters, star anise
* Astoria - Gin, dry vermouth, orange bitters
* Aviation - Gin, lemon juice, maraschino liquer

* Batida Rosa - Cachaca, lemon juice, pineapple juice, grenadine, simple syrup
* Bee's Kiss - Light and dark rum, honey, cream
* Bellini - White peach puree, prosecco
* Blinker - Rye, grapefruit juice, raspberry syrup
* Blood & Sand - Scotch, sweet vermouth, cherry brandy, orange juice
* Blue Moon - Gin, lemon juice, creme de violette
* Bobby Burns - Scotch, sweet vermouth, Drambuie, Angostura bitters
* Boulevardier - Bourbon, Campari, sweet vermouth
* Black & Tan - Rye, blackberries, mint, simple syrup, lime juice, ginger beer
* Bramble - Gin, creme de mure, lemon juice, simple syrup

* Caipirinha - Cachaca, lime, simple syrup
* Canton - Jamaican rum, orange curacao, maraschino liquer, grenadine, Angostura bitters
* Champagne Cocktail - Champagne, Angostura bitters, sugar cube
* Chartreuse Swizzle - Chartreuse, falernum, lime juice, pineapple juice
* Choke Artist - Cynar, tequilla, sherry, orange bitters
* Chrysanthemum - Dry vermouth, Benedictine, absinthe
* Citron Buck - Absolut Citron, creme de cassis, ginger simple syrup, ginger beer
* Clermont Smash - Mint, falernum, bourbon, lemon juice, peach bitters
* Cocktail a'la Louisiane - Rye, Benedictine, sweet vermouth, absinthe, Peychaud bitters
* Corn-N-Oil - Cruzan Blackstrap rum, falernum, bitters, lime
* Corpse Reviver #2 - Lillet, gin, Cointreau, lemon juice, absinthe
* Creole Resolution - Lillet, grenadine, sugar cube, champagne

* Dark And Stormy - Goslings rum, ginger beer, lime
* Dead Man's Dram - Demerrara rum, brandy, falernum, pimento dram, 1/2 & 1/2
* Death In The Afternoon - absinthe, champagne
* Delicious Sour - Applejack, peach liquer, lime juice, egg white, simple syrup
* Deshler - Rye, Cointreau, Dubonnet, Peychaud bitters
* Diamondback - Rye, chartreuse, applejack
* Drink Without A Name - Vodka, Chartreuse, Cointreau
* Duwamish Julep - Bourbon, mint, blackberry liquer, Angostura bitters

* Eastern Sour - Bourbon, lemon juice, orange juice, orgeat, simple syrup
* El Diablo - Tequilla, lime juice, creme de cassis, ginger ale
* Eldwerwilde - Gin, elderflower syrup, absinthe, Angostura bitters
* Expatriate - Pimm's, ginger syrup, champagne

* Floridita - Rum, sweet vermouth, grenadine, lime juice, white creme de cacao
* Fort Washington Flip - Applejack, Benedictine, maple syrup, egg
* French 75 - Gin, Cointreau, lemon juice, champagne
* Friar's Pint - Gin, cardamom-infused Guinness, sherry, simple syrup, Angostura bitters

* Ganesvoort Fizz - Rum, Drambuie, lemon juice, Peychaud bitters, soda water
* Gentleman Johnson - Bourbon, iced tea, Cointreau
* Gimlet - Gin or vodka, Roses lime juice
* Gin-Gin Mule - Gin, lime juice, mint, ginger beer, simple syrup
* Gypsy - Gin, lime juice, maraschino liquer, elderflower liquer

* Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch - Strohs rum, absinthe, lime juice, orange juice, simple syrup, cherries
* Hoskins - Gin, Torani Amer, Cointreau, Maraschino liquer, orange bitters
* Hurricane - Light and dark rums, orange and lime juices, passion fruit syrup, grenadine, simple syrup

* Ines - Gin, Amaretto, dry and sweet vermouths
* Irish Coffee - Irish whiskey, hot coffee, whipped cream, sugar

* Jaguar - Tequilla, Amer Picon, green Chartreuse, orange bitters
* Japanese - Brandy, orgeat, Angostura bitters
* Jasmine - Gin, Campari, lemon juice, Cointreau
* Jolly Roger - Dark rum, orange juice, falernum, Angostura bitters

* Last Word
* Limon Fresca - Gin, lime juice, ginger beer, simple syrup
* Little Italy - Rye, Cynar, sweet vermouth

* Maharajah Burra-Peg - Cognac, champagne, sugar, Angostura bitters
* Mai Tai - Jamaican rum, Martinique rum, lime juice, orgeat, Cointreau
* Manhattan - Rye or bourbon, sweet vermouth, Angostura bitters
* Margarita - Tequilla, Cointreau, lime juice
* Marmalade Sour - cachaca, orange marmalade, lemon juice, orange bitters, egg white
* Martini - Gin, dry vermouth
* Milk Punch - Brandy, rum, simple syrup, whole milk
* Mint Julep - Bourbon, mint, simple syrup
* Mojito - Rum, mint, lime, simple syrup
* Monkey Gland - Gin, grenadine, orange juice, absinthe
* Moscow Mule - Vodka, lime juice, simple syrup, Angostura bitters

* Nacional - Rum, apricot brandy, lime juice, simple syrup, Angostura bitters
* Negroni - Gin, Campari, sweet vermouth, orange bitters
* Night And Day - Cognac, Grand Marnier, Angostura bitters, champagne
* Nirvana - Rye, Amer Picon, maraschino liquer, Benedictine
* Noa Noa - Demerara rum, lime juice, Angostura bitters, mint, brown sugar
* None But The Brave - Brandy, Jamaican rum, pimento dram, lemon juice, simple syrup
* Nui Nui - Rum, pimento dram, cinnamon syrup, vanilla syrup, lime juice, orange juice, angostura bitters

* Oaxaca Old-Fashioned - Tequilla, mezcal, agave nectar, Angostura bitters
* Old Cuban - Rum, mint, lime, Angostura bitters, simple syrup
* Old Fashioned - Rye or bourbon, Angostura bitters, simple syrup
* Old Pal - Rye or bourbon, sweet vermouth, Campari
* Opera - Gin, Dubonnet, maraschino liquer, orange bitters

* Papa Dobles Rum, lime juice, grapefruit juice, maraschino liquer, simple syrup
* Paloma - Tequilla, lime juice, grapefruit juice, Sprite, salt
* Paloma Mi Amante - Tequilla por mi amante, lime juice, Sprite, grapefruit juice, salt
* Pearl Diver Punch - Jamaican rum, Demerara rum, Puerto Rican rum, lime juice, orange juice, Pearl Divers Mix, falernum
* Pegu - Gin, lime juice, Cointreau, Angostura bitters, orange bitters
* Philadelphia Fish House Punch - Rum, cognac, peach brandy, simple syrup, lime juice, orange juice
* Picon Punch - Amer Picon, grenadine, soda
* Pimms Cup - Pimms No. 1, lemonade, 7UP
* Pink Lady - Gin, Applejack, grenadine, lemon juice, egg white
* Pisco Punch - Pisco, pineapple, gum syrup, water, lemon juice
* Pisco Sour Pisco, lemon juice, simple syrup, egg white, Angostura bitters
* Planters Punch - Jamaican rum, lime juice, orange juice, pineapple juice, grenadine, Angostura bitters
* Police Gazette Cocktail - Bourbon, dry vermouth, grenadine, simple syrup, Angostura bitters, orange curacao, maraschino liquer
* Pusser's Painkiller - Pussers rum, pineapple juice, cream of coconut, orange juice, nutmeg

* Queens Park Swizzle - Rum, simple syrup, mint, Angostura bitters
* Ramos Gin Fizz - Gin, lemon juice, lime juice, egg white, orange flower water, simple syrup, cream, soda water
* Red Hook - Rye, Punt e Mes, maraschino liquer
* Reveillion - Calvados, pear eau-de-vie, pimento dram, Punt e Mes, Fee's Old Fashioned Aromatic Bitters
* Rosemary Gimlet - Gin, lime juice, rosemary syrup
* Rosewater Rickey - Gin, lime juice, rosewater, bruleed cherries, sugar, Angostura bitters mist, soda water
* Royal Bermuda Yacht Club Cocktail - Rum, lime juice, Cointreau, falernum
* Rubicon - Gin, maraschino liquer, lemon juice, rosemary, green Chartreuse

* Saratoga - Rye, cognac, sweet vermouth, Angostura bitters
* Sazerac - Rye, simple syrup, Peychaud bitters, absinthe
* Scofflaw - Rye, lemon juice, dry vermouth, grenadine
* Scorched Earth - Cognac, Cynar, sweet vermouth, flamed lemon twist
* Seventh Heaven - Gin, grapefruit juice, maraschino liquer, mint
* Sidecar - Brandy, Cointreau, lemon juice
* Silver Lining - Rye, lemon juice, Licor 43, egg white, soda water
* Southside - Gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, mint
* Spumoni - Campari, grapefruit juice, soda water
* Strega Daiquiri - Rum, Strega, lemon juice, orange juice, orgeat
* Swami - Pisco, lime juice, green Chartreuse, grapefruit bitters, simple syrup

* Tailspin - Gin, green Chartreuse, sweet vermouth, orange bitters
* Test Pilot - Rum, Cointreau, falernum, lime juice, Angostura bitters, absinthe
* Tipperary - Irish whiskey, sweet vermouth, green Chartreuse

* Verona - Rye, Aperol, Dubonnet, grapefruit bitters
* Vesper - Gin, vodka, Lillet
* Vessel 75 - Bourbon, Peychaud bitters, maple syrup foam (egg white, maple syrup, water, lemon juice
* Vieux Carre - Rye, cognac, sweet vermouth, Benedictine, Peychaud bitters, Angostura bitters

* Union - Hendricks gin, rosewater, creme de cassis, mint, champagne

* White Lady - Gin, Cointreau, lemon juice, egg white
* White Russian - Vodka, Kahlua, cream
* Windemere County Julep - Bourbon, Applejack, maple syrup, mint
* Wisdom of Pele - Rum, more rum, lime juice, grapefruit juice, falernum, honey, cinnamon syrup, Fees whiskey-barrel aged bitters, vanilla liquer

* Yeh Yeh Yeh - Bourbon, blonde Lillet, Lillet rouge

* Zaza - Gin, Dubonnet, orange bitters