Mixology Monday LXXXIII Cocktail: Winter’s Last Gasp

winter2It’s time for another Mixology Monday! Well, actually we are a week early. But it is St. Patrick’s Day, so may as well do a cocktail post. To be honest, we are not big fans of “drinking holidays” (we don’t need excuses to enjoy a fine cocktail). But when in Rome…uh…or Dublin…hmm…whatever. In any event, here is the theme from Craig at the excellent “A World of Drinks” blog (and thanks for Fred at Cocktail Virgin Slut for keeping the party going):

mxmologoFor this month’s challenge I would like to take us back to the humble beginnings of the cocktail bar, the days when bartenders didn’t have the luxury of daily deliveries of ingredients from around the world. In these times bartenders would have been uncertain when they would again have the privilege to work with special ingredients so would naturally try to make the most of them… Such methods of preservation such as syrups and preserves have been staple ingredients behind the bar ever since, while others such as shrubs and sherbets were relatively short lived. The aim of the challenge is to go back to the days of the preserve, pick an ingredient, seasonal or not and treat it as if you won’t be seeing it again for quite some time. Syrups, sorbets, jam, shrubs and the like are all fair game, anything that will preserve the integral character of your favourite ingredient.

winter5Seeing as how we are here on our “farm” and we make our own jams and preserves, this is a theme right up our alley. Right now we have apricot, strawberry and fig preserves from last year to work with. All are tasty and would mix well, but it was another project that guided us.

winter3winter4Over the holidays, we got a small barrel for aging spirits and cocktails. The instructions said to start with “aging you own bourbon to season the barrel”, which really means aging some “white dog” (moonshine or un-aged corn whiskey) for a couple of months. So it has been a couple of months and what we have is something “bourbon-like”, with a light brown color and some vanilla and caramel notes, but lacking in any integration, sweetness or spice. Fun, but not necessarily good.

winter6winter7But our immediate thought was if we added some sweet fig jam to our “bourbon” we might be onto something. And we were right, the overt sweetness, spice and slightly oxidized notes of the figs really smoothed out the edges. After that we played with bitters and decided to use the “Bitter Frost” Basement Bitters from Tuthilltown, the suppliers of our aging barrel. These bitters use aged rye whiskey as a base along with sarsaparilla, maple and spices. This added some needed depth of flavor and complexity. Better.

winter8But we still lacked for enough sweet caramel and brightness. So we made a rich simple syrup with turbinado sugar to get those caramel and molasses notes. Nice.

winter1But then we were stumped on finding a clean finish (that didn’t taste like moonshine). We thought of citrus, but figured that lemon and lime would be too tart. But we did have blood oranges, and a hint of zest and just a few drops of the juice did the trick. We get just a hint of orange and bright berry notes at the finish. A twist of orange peel for garnish (and aroma) was even better.

So what did we really end up with? Basically a riff on a bourbon Old Fashioned that tasted like we used decent bourbon instead of homemade hooch. And since we have to drink the stuff before we start aging Manhattans or Negronis, that is good enough for us. And we enjoyed some fun, boozy geekery. Now that is a worthwhile pursuit on St. Paddy’s day….

winterWinter’s Last Gasp Cocktail:


  • 2 oz. homemade “bourbon”, or just a drier style bourbon
  • 1 teaspoon fig jam
  • 1/4 oz. rich simple syrup
  • 3 dashes Bitter Frost bitters (sub Regan’s orange, in a pinch)
  • 2 dashes blood orange juice
  • 2 orange twists


  1. Add the bourbon, fig jam, simple syrup, bitters and blood orange juice to a cocktail shaker. Twist one of the orange peels over the ingredients and add the peel to the shaker. Add ice and shake until well chilled.
  2. Double-strain the cocktail (fig jam has seeds) into a chilled cocktail glass, coupé or flute. Garnish with the remaining orange twist. Serve.

11 thoughts on “Mixology Monday LXXXIII Cocktail: Winter’s Last Gasp

  1. Hi there, you two …. a while since I visit, not because I haven’t wanted to *smile
    So happy to see that your still mixing deliciously. By the way I love fig jam. *smile

    • Hi Wivi! Hope you are well. The fig jam is a real treat. And just about the only way to use the figs (too many ripen all at once). Hope Spring is arriving for you….

      • Fig over here … doesn’t taste the same as they do in the South of Europe … they are not ripe when picked.
        Spring is extremely early this year .. we have only had 10 days with snow in total this winter. But no sunshine since before Christmas … only overcast and dull. Expect two weeks ago .. a whole week of sunshine, it was magical. *smile

    • Hi, Jam or preserves in cocktails work very well. It used to be more common but, like many things cocktail, faded after prohibition. Starting to come back now…

  2. Lovely photo! It’s a blustery day filled with snow and ice where I live; your cocktail makes me feel like I’ve taken a bit of an island vacation! 🙂

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