• Mixology Monday LXXV Cocktail: The Carlos Danger


    The Carlos danger Cocktail.

    Time for another Mixology Monday! This time our host is also the “keeper of the flame” Fred Yarm of Cocktail Virgin Slut. Thanks again from keeping things going Fred. Let’s get right to our theme “Flip Flop”:

    danger8I thought of the theme for this month’s Mixology Monday shortly after making the Black Rene, an obscure drink from Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars: 1903-1933. The combination of brandy, amber rum, lemon, and Maraschino was tasty, but I felt that the recipe could be improved if I swapped in different ingredients. Taking a page from Max Toste of Deep Ellum who converted the Black Devil into the White Devil, I flipped around the ingredients to be pisco, white rum, lime, and Maraschino instead. With this combination that I called the White Rene, the drink really sang but it was still recognizable as being an alteration of the original recipe. Others have done similar swaps with grand effect including the Bluegrass Mai Tai that changes the two rums to two whiskeys and swaps lime for lemon from the classic while holding everything else the same.

    danger1Find a recipe, either new or old, and switch around at least two of the ingredients to sister or cousin ingredients but holding the proportions and some of the ingredients the same. The new recipe should be recognizable as a morph of the old one when viewed side by side.

    danger2This theme was a fun one for us to play with, as we were already doing some experimenting with tweaks to classics. So we decided to use the Manhattan as our foundation. Ever since we tried the excellent Ile St. Honorat from the Liquid Culture Project, an aged rum Manhattan variant, we have worked on our own version. Now we decided to do a fully “flipped” Manhattan using aged rum instead of whiskey, amaro in place of vermouth, and Amargo Chuncho (Peruvian) bitters for Angostura (we kept the orange twist we like to use with our Manhattans). We pretty much went for the “full flip”, just like that idiot guy from Manhattan Anthony Weiner sometimes fully “flips” into his alter ego, Carlos Danger. (Sorry, not much of a segue, but it’s what we had- and we couldn’t resist the name.)

    danger3danger4Since we had the orange twist and the herbal, coffee-ish notes of the Amargo Chuncho bitters, the big question was the choice of aged rum and amaro. We wanted a mild, slightly woody sipping rum, and after trying a few bottles settled on the Matusalem Gran Reserva, a 15-year-old rum with well-integrated floral and burnt sugar flavors. The Matusalem is an easy sipper, and a good fit for this kind of spirit-forward cocktail. As for the Amaro, we tried a bunch. Maria a Monte was good but a bit too minty and boozy (worth revisiting, good stuff), Cynar didn’t quite fit and Averna was too sweet. We settled on Amaro Montenegro with its less bitter, light herbal and orange peel notes.

    danger5danger6So how does the Carlos Danger taste? It has light floral, orange and coffee notes up front with a bit of kick from the booze in the middle (it’s a strong drink, no question). But the cocktail closes with a soft, dry vanilla note from the rum and amaro that is simply delightful. We tried the Carlos Danger up and on the rocks and it works both ways. So if you want to try something new, try a Carlos Danger cocktail and leave that cell phone alone. Continue reading

  • Weekly Cocktail #50: The Brooklyn Cocktail

    Pouring a Brooklyn cocktail.

    Pouring a Brooklyn cocktail.

    One of the many things we enjoy about the blog is that we get to “follow the muse”. Yes there are seasons, events and themes to guide us, but in the end we get to do what makes us happy. That’s the point, plus we usually get a few tasty dishes and drinks out of the deal and have excuses to invite friends over. (Have we found the secret to happiness? Maybe.)

    brooklyn1brooklynSo while we could be blogging on Mint Juleps for the Kentucky Derby (we like them, but not all that much), and we owe our friend Viveka a cocktail for winning our quiz (working on it Wivi!), we somehow found ourselves mixing a Brooklyn cocktail. And the Brooklyn cocktail is worth a try, particularly if you are a whiskey fan. And even if you aren’t, this smooth sip may surprise you.

    brooklyn2brooklyn6The Brooklyn combines rye whiskey, dry vermouth, a dash of maraschino liqueur and a dash of Amer Picon. No one seems to have Amer Picon (a French digestif) these days, so most sources suggest amaro like Ramazotti, CioCiaro, Nonino or Montenegro. The recipe is flexible and all of these will work, we went with the Ramazotti, but also liked it with Nonino (we like a lot of stuff with Nonino). You can even just go with a mix of orange and Angostura bitters in a pinch.

    brooklyn3If you notice a pattern with many of our cocktail posts, we tend to like to match rye whiskey with dry, rather than sweet, vermouth. Rye is dryer and spicier than bourbon, and we think you often lose those notes with some sweet vermouths (not always, but sometimes). If we want to enjoy the flavor of the rye, the herbal notes of a good dry vermouth seem like a natural fit. And we do like the combination in drinks like the Scofflaw (and our variant, the Tax Evasion ), so it isn’t that much of a surprise that the “muse” guided us towards the Brooklyn. (Or maybe it was Google….)

    brooklyn7So what do you get with the Brooklyn? Firstly, you get a beautiful looking drink with deep golden hues. Lovely. As for the flavor, you get a smooth and slightly sweet sip, but with the spice of the rye, herbal vemouth and the bitter notes of the amaro keeping the flavor from becoming cloying. The maraschino adds some sweet, floral and nutty flavors. Basically, the Brooklyn is a dryer, smoother riff on a Manhattan. But since Brooklyn is way cooler than Manhattan these days, we think it makes sense that they have the smoother drink. (And speaking of Brooklyn- Hi Tina, Jonathan, Max and William!)

    brooklyn5The Brooklyn Cocktail:


    • 2 oz. rye whiskey (Rittenhouse 100)
    • 1 oz. dry vermouth (Dolin)
    • 1/4 oz. maraschino liqueur (Luxardo)
    • 1/2 oz. Amer Picon (sub Ramazotti or other amaro)


    1. Combine all the ingredients in a cocktail glass with ice. Stir until well chilled. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass or coupé. Serve.
  • Weekly Cocktail #42: The Kentucky Royale

    The Kentucky Royale Cocktail.

    The Kentucky Royale Cocktail.

    One of our favorite things about cocktails is that they allow you to “follow the Muse” a bit. For inspiration we look at the bar, read some cocktail books, browse some cocktail websites, shop the farmers market or pick fruit from the orchard. Most of the time we have no idea what’s coming, but we certainly enjoy the ride (mostly, a few drinks have gone down the drain). So while we would call this week’s cocktail a “happy accident”, we have come to expect pleasant surprises at the bar.

    royaleroyale2The Kentucky Royale is a Manhattan variant that includes Bourbon (Elijah Craig 12), Cherry Heering, Sweet Vermouth (Carpano Antica), coffee liqueur (Kahlua Especial), Bittermen’s Mole bitters (chocolate bitters) and a cherry garnish. And while this may sound like a bit of a mess, it works beautifully. You get a sweet vanilla and cherry sip from the Bourbon and Cherry Heering, followed by the spice of the Carpano Antica vermouth (good vermouth really helps here) and with slight chocolate and coffee notes at the finish that slightly clean the palate. A very well-balanced sip.

    royale3royale4So what do we mean by “balance”? Well, as you may know, we are not big fans of the term. Often “balance” seems to mean “what I like”. But we would define balance in a cocktail this way; you taste hints of all the ingredients and flavors, but the overall flavor of the drink works from beginning to end, nothing extra, nothing wasted. And the Kentucky Royale, even with a wealth of ingredients, certainly fits the definition.

    royale5How did we find the recipe? We trusted the Muse. Last week we went to a single barrel Bourbon tasting at our local liquor store, and we left with a few bottles. And while the bottles sat on the bar, we opened Fred Yarm’s cocktail book “Drink and Tell”, we literally opened the book, flipped a few random pages and this was the first bourbon recipe we found. (The recipe comes from the Franklin Southie, a Boston-area bar. They developed the recipe for a bourbon-themed industry event.) We had all the ingredients (even the crazy bitters) so we made this cocktail, and enjoyed another “happy accident”.

    royale8The Kentucky Royale:


    • 1 and 1/2 oz. Bourbon (Elijah Craig 12)
    • 1/2 oz. Cherry Heering 
    • 1/2 oz. sweet vermouth (Carpano Antica)
    • 1 barspoon (1 teaspoon) Coffee Liqueur (Kahlua Especial)
    • 2 dashes chocolate bitters (Bittermen’s Xocolatl Mole bitters)
    • Brandied or Maraschino cherry for garnish


    1. Combine all the liquid ingredients in a cocktail glass or shaker. Stir until very cold and strain into a chilled cocktail glass or coupé. Garnish with the cherry. Serve.
  • Bonus Cocktail: Scott’s Manhattan

    Scott’s Manhattan.

    One of the best parts of enjoying cocktails with friends is that they share their favorites and personal creations with you. And sometimes, after a few drinks and/or a visit to the fruit stand, you can build and enjoy “new” drinks. We say “new” but as this cocktail is a variant of the Manhattan, one of the most tweaked cocktails in the world, someone has probably made this before. But a quick search of Cocktail DB didn’t come up with a name, so we will call this one “Scott’s Manhattan”, after our friend Scott who made this cocktail for us during our visit to Long Island.

    A few more ingredients than a regular Manhattan.

    If you read our blog regularly, you will note that we sometimes avoid “brown drinks” like Manhattans, particularly in summer. But Scott is an avowed, and knowledgeable, fan of the Manhattan and made us a version that works in any season. His version includes two ounces of rye, one ounce of sweet vermouth, muddled cherries, a touch of lemon juice and orange bitters to create a bright and “summery” Manhattan. While anyone who likes Manhattans will recognize the whiskey and vermouth, Scott’s additions brighten the flavors and add a clean finish that works very well in warm weather. We all liked this drink and enjoyed quite a few in the last week. Usually whiskey stays near the back of our summer bar, but this drink changed our minds.

    Traditionally, a Manhattan is 2 parts bourbon or rye and one part sweet vermouth. Most recipes include bitters, usually Angostura, and often a cherry as garnish. A classic drink, but very sweet to our tastes, particularly if using bourbon. Scott’s version adds more spice by using rye and citrus notes from the orange bitters. The cherries add both sweetness and tang, and really amp up the color. The first sip of this cocktail is sweet and spicy, but then the citrus and cherries kick in for a lighter, fruitier finish than any traditional Manhattan. Purists may cringe, but we are all for seasonal experimentation and variation with our cocktails- it’s fun, and cocktails are all about fun.

    As for making the drink, it is pretty straightforward, with just a few extra steps. Place two fresh, pitted cherries, a lemon twist and a few drops of lemon juice to a cocktail shaker and muddle to extract the juice from the cherries and oil from the lemon peel. Add the rye, sweet vermouth, orange bitters (we use Regan’s for this version) and ice to the shaker. Shake until chilled and strain into a cocktail glass. For the rye, we like Bulleit and High West for cocktails, but most good rye will do. If using bourbon, the drink will usually be sweeter, so an extra drop of lemon or a touch less vermouth may help balance the drink. As for the sweet vermouth, we use Noilly Prat or Dolin, but we suggest you experiment with the sweet vermouth you prefer (and you do keep your vermouth in the fridge, right?). With the extra red color from the cherries and aroma from the lemon, we don’t think a garnish is necessary, but perhaps an orange twist will add extra dimension…. Again, feel free to experiment. Scott experimented, and we got a great drink….

    Scott’s Manhattan:


    • 2 oz. rye or bourbon
    • 1 oz. sweet vermouth
    • 2 sweet cherries, pitted
    • 1 lemon twist / peel (about the size of a quarter).
    • 2-3 drops lemon juice
    • 3 dashes orange bitters (Regan’s)


    1. Place cherries, lemon peel and juice into a cocktail shaker and muddle to extract juice and oil.
    2. Add rye, sweet vermouth , bitters and ice to the shaker. Shake thoroughly and strain into a chilled cocktail glass or coupe’. Serve.