Thursday, March 9, 2017

Almond Brother

Almond Brother

Last week I mentioned a cocktail recipe from the Death & Co book that showed me how well tequila and amaretto can work together, so I figured this week I ought to share it! I give you the Almond Brother. I think amaretto is a seriously underestimated cocktail ingredient. Sure, it's crazy sweet, but it can add such great flavor to a cocktail in small quantities. This one ramps up the almond flavor with some sweet, nutty orgeat as well.

Apricot really compliments amaretto, and this isn't the first time I've used them together. Unfortunately I still don't have a bottle of apricot liqueur - I had plans to finally buy some on my last trip to the liquor store, but they didn't have any. Soon! But until then, my usual substitute of apricot preserves seems to work quite well.

Almond Brother

This cocktail smells heavenly, like almonds and citrus with hints of vanilla. Kind of like a citrus pound cake. But the nutty angel's food flavor of the amaretto and orgeat is tempered by the tequila and lime for a perfect balance of sweet and sour. It's one of those cocktails where the ingredients really sing.

History: This recipe was created at Death & Co in new york by Jason Littrell in 2011. Though the Death & Co book doesn't specify, it's pretty clear that the name is a reference to the Allman Brothers band.

Almond Brother

Almond Brother

2 oz. tequila reposado
1/4 oz. amaretto
1 tsp. apricot liqueur (or 1/2 tsp. apricot preserves)
3/4 oz. lime juice
1/4 oz. orgeat
1/4 oz. maple syrup (I used Noble Chamomile & Vanilla)

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake until chilled. Strain into a coupe. No garnish.

Recipe from Death & Co: Modern Classic Cocktails.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Gold Lion

Gold Lion

Thanks so much to everyone who participated in the Black Cloud Bitters Giveaway last week! We've already contacted our winner - congratulations, Ashley! I can't wait to see what cocktails you make with the sampler set. And if you didn't win this time, don't worry - I'm hoping to do more giveaways with Muddle & Stir in the future, so stick around!

Now on to today's cocktail! I'm pretty obsessed with this one, primarily because of the garnish. It all started with a bottle of tequila reposado that the fine folks at Gran Centenario sent me. In addition to having a pretty drop-dead gorgeous bottle, this tequila has a very distinct, smoky agave flavor that really comes through in cocktails where other tequilas might get a bit lost. I had a lot of fun experimenting with it.

Gold Lion

During the course of my attempt to make basically every cocktail from the Death & Co book, I came across the Almond Brother, a really delicious tequila cocktail with amaretto as its second ingredient. I've only used amaretto once before on the blog, but it's a liqueur that I have a real soft spot for. I love the almond flavor, and used sparingly in cocktails, it can be quite a delicious and unexpected addition. It also goes surprisingly well with tequila. I particularly like it in this cocktail with the Gran Centenario, because I think it does a nice job of softening the sharp edges of the agave. Along with some lime, maraschino liqueur, and El Guapo Polynesian Kiss Bitters (you can sub mole or citrus bitters), the Gold Lion has a strong, smoky agave flavor with hints of nuttiness and cherry. I named it for its color (after a song by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs), and could resist using some edible gold leaf I bought on the dried lime garnish.

Gold Lion

1 1/2 oz. tequila reposado (I used Gran Centenario)
3/4 oz. amaretto
1/4 oz. maraschino liqueur
3/4 oz. lime
1 dash El Guapo Polynesian Kiss bitters (sub mole or citrus bitters)

Monday, February 20, 2017

Bee's Knees + a Giveaway!

Bee's Knees

Guys, I am so excited. This week I am hosting my first ever giveaway on Garnish! The fine folks at Muddle & Stir and Black Cloud Bitters are offering one lucky reader a Black Cloud Bitters Sampler Pack. This pack comes with a 1-oz. bottles of each of Black Cloud's five artisan bitters: Charred Cedar, Saffron Mango, Garden Party, Black & Blue, and Prairie Rose. Scroll down for your chance to enter and win!

Black Cloud Bitters

If you've been reading the blog the last few months, you know that I'm pretty obsessed with the five fantastic varieties of bitters in this pack. I used the Black & Blue in my Ginger Sage Smash, the Saffron Mango in the Bombay Sour, the Garden Party in the Green Thumb, and the Charred Cedar in the Hotel Belvedere. Today I'm making use of the Prairie Rose as a nice addition to a classic cocktail - the Bee's Knees.

Bee's Knees

The Bee's Knees is a prohibition-era cocktail with a very simple recipe - gin, lemon, and honey. It's like lovely, boozy lemonade. The Death & Co cocktail book, which does a great job of sprucing up the classics, adds lavender bitters to their recipe, and I thought the Prairie Rose bitters would be even better. Made with rose petals, rose hips, and other berries and botanicals, these floral bitters are perfect in this cocktail. If you don't have a bottle, don't despair - head below for your chance to win all five of Black Cloud's wonderful bitters!

Black Cloud Prairie Rose Bitters

History: The Bee's Knees is prohibition-era cocktail, named after a slang term meaning "the best." Calling something the "bee's knees" actually goes back to the 1800's, when the phrase was used to refer to something small and insignificant. But in the 1920's, there was a bit of a fad going on in which something great would be described as an [animal]'s [body part]: "the snake's hip," "the ant's pants," or "the eel's ankle." Another one that survives today is "the cat's pajamas." Even though it once referred to something insignificant, "the bee's knees" was quickly absorbed into this fad.

Bee's Knees

The earliest the Bee's Knees appears in print is in the 1934 edition of William "Cocktail" Boothby's The World's Drinks and How to Mix 'Em; that version is 1/2 jigger of gin and 1 spoon apiece of lemon, orange, and honey. But most people credit Frank Meier, a bartender at the Ritz in Paris, with creating the cocktail. He included it in his 1936 book The Artistry of Mixing Drinks. Meier was hands-down one of the coolest bartenders I've ever heard of. He tended bar during the Nazi occupation of Paris and used his position to help the resistance by passing along messages and forging passports for Jewish citizens. He was even involved in a plot to assassinate Hitler. I don't know about you, but I'd watch the heck out of a movie about Frank Meier.

Frank Meier
Frank Meier

The use of honey instead of sugar or simple syrup in the Bee's Knees is unusual, and it's often speculated that this was a response to one of the less glamorous aspects of prohibition - the ubiquity of bad-tasting bathtub gin. The strong taste of the honey may have been included in this cocktail to help cover up the flavor. However, if Meier created the cocktail in Paris, getting good gin wouldn't have been a problem, and this explanation becomes a bit questionable. Maybe he just realized that the honey tasted really darn good.

The recipe for the Bee's Knees is below! But first, sign up for your chance to win a sampler pack of Black Cloud Bitters from Muddle & Stir! The giveaway will run until midnight EST on Sunday, February 26th, and I'll contact the winner on Monday. You can get additional entries by tweeting about the giveaway as often as once a day!

Black Cloud Bitters Giveaway

Bee's Knees

2 oz. gin
3/4 oz. lemon juice
3/4 oz. honey simple syrup*
1 dash Black Cloud Prairie Rose Bitters (optional)

Combine gin, lemon juice, honey syrup, and bitters (if desired) in a shaker with ice. Shake until well chilled and strain into a coupe. Garnish with dried roses, fresh lavender, or a brandied cherry.

*For honey simple syrup, combine equal parts honey and water in a small saucepan and heat, stirring, until honey is dissolved. Let cool before use.

Recipe adapted from Death & Co: Modern Classic Cocktails and The PDT Cocktail Book.

Historical information on the Bee's Knees came largely from Paste Magazine and JustCocktails.org.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Mixology Monday: Wake the Dead

Wake the Dead

This is a sad post to write - my contribution to the very last Mixology Monday. As Fred writes in his announcement post, participation has been flagging in recent months, and the MxMo website locking him out seemed to be a sign that it was time to end the online cocktail party's 11-year run. I'm really glad I got to participate in so many of these events and even host one last month. It's been fun, inspiring, and a great way to connect with other cocktail nerds.

And so, fittingly, the theme for the final Mixology Monday is Irish Wake. Fred has encouraged us to make a cocktail using Irish Whiskey and/or to talk about a time in our lives where drinks helped with the grieving process. I'm quite lucky to have had few friends or family members to grieve in my adult life, so I don't really have a story to share. But I will happily pull out a bottle of Irish Whiskey and help give Mixology Monday a proper sendoff.

Wake the Dead

I don't use Irish Whiskey much, reaching instead for rye, bourbon, or Scotch. The only bottle I have is GrandTen's South Boston Irish Whiskey, which is really lovely but tends to go overlooked in my bar. I mostly pull it out when recipes specifically call for Irish Whiskey, such as in the Cooper Union or a classic Irish Coffee, and I've never used it in a recipe of my own.

That Irish Coffee was still fresh in my mind when I mixed up this simple Irish Whiskey cocktail. Some coffee liqueur, a dash of Allspice Dram, and a bit of Demerara syrup made for a spirit-forward tribute to the winter staple. It's rich and sweet and strong, with enough coffee in it to - maybe - wake the dead.

I recommend reaching for a coffee liqueur that's not very sweet for this recipe - two I definitely recommend but that might be tough to find in most places are Durham Distillery's Damn Fine Coffee Liqueur and Seymour's Coffee Liqueur from Boston Harbor Distillery. I haven't tried St. George's Nola Coffee Liqueur, but since everything they make is top-notch, I bet it would be quite good as well. If you must use Kahlua or something similarly sweet (nothing against Kahlua, I actually quite like it), reduce the Demerara syrup accordingly.

So here's to 116 months of Mixology Monday. Fred, thanks for keeping the party going so long.

Wake the Dead

Wake the Dead

2 oz. Irish Whiskey
1 oz. coffee liqueur (Damn Fine Coffee Liqueur)
1/4 oz. Allspice Dram
1/2 oz. Demerara syrup*

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir until chilled. Strain into a Nick & Nora glass and garnish with star anise. Raise a toast to Mixology Monday - may it rest in peace.

*For Demerara syrup, combine 2 parts Demerara sugar with 1 part water in a saucepan and simmer, stirring, until sugar is dissolved. Let cool before using.

Monday, February 13, 2017



I've got a real classic for you today - the Bijou. It may not show up on a lot of menus these days, but this elegant gin cocktail is over 100 years old. The name, which means "jewel" in French, is a reference to the gemlike hues of the three main ingredients: gin (diamond), sweet vermouth (ruby), and Green Chartreuse (emerald). The traditional recipe for the Bijou is equal parts of these three ingredients, plus a dash of orange bitters.

I eagerly mixed up this equal-parts cocktail, but when I took a sip, I grimaced. The Chartreuse completely dominated the gin and vermouth, making it way too sweet and not at all balanced, at least to my taste. I immediately understood why a lot of modern recipes for the Bijou, like these from Punch and Tuxedo No. 2, tweak the recipe a bit. I tried some variations and decided that this one from Imbibe is my favorite, with more gin, less Chartreuse, and two dashes of bitters. With these proportions, I think the cocktail really takes on the elegant, herbal flavor it's meant to have.


History: The first recipe for the Bijou that appeared in print, in C. F. Lawlor's 1895 book The Mixicologistwas a bit different from the version that ended up standing the test of time. Lawlor's recipe is equal parts gin, sweet vermouth, and Grand Marnier, an orange liqueur that probably wouldn't have helped much with the issue of balance and sweetness. Five years later, the equal-parts-plus-orange-bitters version of the recipe appeared in Harry Johnson's Bartenders' Manual. As far as I know, these are our only two clues about the origins of the Bijou.


1 1/2 oz. gin
1 oz. sweet vermouth
3/4 oz. Green Chartreuse
2 dashes orange bitters

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir until chilled. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a brandied cherry and a lemon twist.

Recipe adapted from The New Cocktail Hour via Imbibe.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Recipe Round-Up: The Last 100

Can you believe that this is my 200th blog post? That's a lot of cocktails! I've really enjoyed trying new recipes and coming up with some of my own. For my 100th post, I went through the first 100 recipes I posted and picked my ten favorites. I decided to do the same for number 200. I picked these without thinking too hard about getting an equal distribution of base spirits, and I'm quite surprised to realize that half of them are made with rum - not what I would expect, since I'd usually say gin or whiskey cocktails are my favorites. But I'm enjoying rum more and more as I try different varieties - I think you'll continue seeing more rum cocktails on here in the future!

So here, in no particular order, are the best of the last 100 cocktails on Garnish:

Lucien Gaudin

1. Lucien Gaudin. I was so pleasantly surprised by this old but relatively unknown recipe. It quickly joined my regular rotation, a perfect aperitif when you want something a bit sweeter and lighter than a Negroni or Boulevardier.

Trinidad Sour

2. Trinidad Sour. Speaking of surprised, I was nothing short of shocked when I found out how much Angostura goes into this cocktail (a whole ounce!) and I was even more surprised when I realized how utterly delicious it is.

Black Manhattan

3. Black Manhattan. This cocktail really cemented my newfound love of amari and basically replaced the traditional Manhattan in our house. The recipe calls for Averna, but you can try all sorts of amari in its place.

Satsuma Mojito

4. Satsuma Mojito. It might be the middle of winter, but one of these is summer in a glass. Muddling a whole satsuma into this cocktail, peel and all, makes it ridiculously refreshing.

Naked and Famous

5. Naked and Famous. This equal-parts cocktail made with mezcal, Yellow Chartreuse, Aperol, and lime juice is definitely one of my all-time favorites, right up there with the Last Word and the Paper Plane.

French Pearl

6. French Pearl. This instant classic from Pegu Club is deceptively simple but utterly delicious. If you've never had one, I suggest you rectify this as soon as possible.

Bombay Sour

7. Bombay Sour. I'm pretty proud of this original recipe, which includes 1/2 tbsp of Greek yogurt to make it extra smooth and sour. With rum, mango, lemon, and Saffron Mango Bitters, it's reminiscent of a mango lassi.

Twin Peaks

8. Twin Peaks. I made this recipe from St. George Spirits the day after I posted my first 100 favorites. After one sip I remember thinking, "This is going to end up in my next roundup." Fresh sage and Green Chartreuse perfectly compliment St. George's unique Terroir Gin.

Pale King

9. Pale King. I guess it's sort of inevitable that some of my own recipes make it into this list, since I basically tailor them exactly to my taste. This is a particular favorite of mine - basically a dry rum martini, it's quite different from anything else I've ever had. And I'm kind of obsessed with the garnish.

Flor de Jerez

10. Flor de Jerez. I had to include a sherry cocktail in this list, as it's one of my new favorite ingredients. I decided the best choice was the Flor de Jerez from Death & Co, because it was the first one I ever made. If you buy a bottle of Amontillado and use it in absolutely nothing else, it would still be worth it. But I have a feeling it's going to end up sneaking into a lot more cocktails than this!

Thanks for sticking around for 200 posts - hope to see you for number 300 as well! Cheers!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Devil's Backbone

Devil's Backbone

Before I talk about today's cocktail, some shameless self-promotion: a couple of weeks ago I submitted my Mediterranean Gimlet recipe to Nautical Gin's Gimlet contest, and now voting has begun. Check out all the entries on Nautical Gin's Facebook page and vote for your favorite by giving it a "like." You can find my recipe here - I'd appreciate your votes!

Whenever I'm feeling uninspired or I'm not sure what cocktail to make, I head over to Fred Yarm's blog Cocktail Virgin Slut. It's an incredible database of recipes - Fred posts at least one basically every day - and each one is accompanied by historical details, expert tasting notes, and often good suggestions for substituting the more unusual ingredients. A clickable list of spirits on the side of the page allows you to pick at least one thing you definitely want in your drink, helping to narrow down the vast number of recipes on the blog.

I was using this feature, browsing through the recipes that used amaro, when I came across the Devil's Backbone. It was really too intriguing to pass up. Two bitter liqueurs (Averna and Gran Classico) and a whole half ounce of peaty Scotch promised for a pretty intense cocktail. It seemed right up my alley.

Devil's Backbone

The Devil's Backbone smells intensely smokey with citrusy undertones. It's sweet and citrusy at the beginning of your sip, and then all the bitterness hits you, blending with smoke and peat at the end. It's big and complex and really wonderful - one of the best new cocktails I've made in a while.

If you're lacking some of the ingredients in this recipe, don't despair! You've got some options. For the Scotch, anything with a lot of smoke and peat will do - some examples are Laphroig, Lagavulin, Caol Ila, and Ardbeg. I used Compass Box's Peat Monster, which is a blended Scotch that I got for my peat-crazy husband - it's quite good. You could try subbing Amaro Montenegro or maybe Ramazzotti for the Amaro Averna. And Campari is a decent substitute for the Gran Classico; Fred used Campari when he made this drink.

History: Fred got this recipe from The Complete Cocktail Manual by Lou Bustamante, but it was originally created by Chris Lane at Lolinda in San Francisco. The idea behind the recipe was to use two whiskeys, two amari, and two types of bitters.

Devil's Backbone

1 oz. rye whiskey
1/2 oz. smoky single malt Scotch
3/4 oz. Averna
1/2 oz. Gran Classico
1 dash Angostura bitters
1 dash orange bitters

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir until chilled. Strain into a coupe and garnish with an orange twist.

Recipe from Cocktail Virgin Slut.