Cocktail Recipe: The Pear Dream

cognac apple brandy St. Germain craft cocktail
The Pear Dream cocktail
Ingredients
  • 1½ oz A. de Fussigny Selection cognac
  • ½ oz Laird’s straight apple brandy
  • ¾ oz pear juice
  • ½ oz St. Germain elderflower liqueur
  • ¼ oz simple syrup
  • ¼ oz lemon juice
Tools
Glass

Libbey 3773 Embassy 5.5 oz champagne coupe

Instructions

This one’s easy: shake the ingredients with ice, and strain into a coupe.

Tasting Notes

In light of what’s happening in Washington DC later today, I’m sure many of us could use a drink. Given how appealing Canada is starting to sound—despite it being the dead of winter—I thought I’d choose one of several drinks I have inspired by the Canadian sketch comedy troupe Kids in the Hall. This one is named for The Pear Dream sketch, which might be the sort of thing you’ll only appreciate if you grew up watching it the way I did.

First, a few notes on the ingredients. Unlike a number of other spirits (notable exceptions being vermouth and Lillet), St. Germain definitely goes bad over time. In addition to turning a few shades darker, it loses some of its brightness and takes on an unwelcome bitter note, so make sure you have a relatively new bottle. Unless you’re churning out a lot of drinks with it, consider opting for the smaller size. As for the other spirits, you have a bit of leeway with the cognac. While your choice will affect the final flavor of the drink, it seems like just about any decent VS or VSOP cognac will get you in the ballpark of what I make. However, when it comes to the apple brandy, do not get Laird’s applejack—stick to the bonded straight apple brandy instead. The former is mostly neutral grain spirits while the latter is pure American apple brandy goodness. Finally, let’s talk juices. I’m usually happier making this cocktail with Meyer lemon juice, but sometimes you have to settle. As for pear juice, if you can/want to juice your own pears, I’m sure that’s great, but I’ve always settled for a bottle of pear juice from Whole Foods.

What you’re going to end up with is a drink that puts pear flavors front and center, hence the choice of cognac as the base spirit. Apple brandy nicely complements pear, and the elderflower liqueur adds a bit of a floral note and some sweetness without being overbearing. The small amounts of lemon juice and simple syrup brighten and round out the drink.

Could you try to add baking spice notes to this or complicate the drink in another way? Perhaps, but as it is, it’s refreshing and easy drinking year round. I like making these for my friends who aren’t cocktail aficionados but are interested in something beyond their usual Greyhound or Vodka Tonic, although I’m perfectly happy to drink one myself.

Cocktail Recipe: the ℏ Whiskey Sour

Wild Turkey 101 bourbon Aperol egg white craft cocktail
the ℏ Whiskey Sour
Ingredients
  • 1½ oz Wild Turkey 101 bourbon
  • ¾ oz Meyer lemon juice
  • ½ oz simple syrup
  • ¼ oz Aperol
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 dashes Bitter Truth grapefruit bitters
Tools
Glass

Libbey 8054 6 oz Georgian Irish coffee glass (save if you buy a case of 36—great for parties)

Instructions

As with most egg white cocktails, this one requires you to dry shake the ingredients (except for the bitters). Once you have a nice foam, add ice, shake again, and fine strain into your fancy cocktail glass. Wait a few moments for a foamy head to build up then add the bitters. (This has the effect of mostly restricting the effect of the bitters to the nose of the drink. It’s a technique used in many egg white cocktails such as the classic Pisco Sour.)

Tasting Notes

The Whiskey Sour is a classic introduction to the world of cocktails, but why leave well enough alone? While a number of variations call for the use of an egg white, novice drinkers often steer clear because, like, OMG, ew, a raw egg white? (I’m sure there’s a minute risk involved, but let’s be real, the alcohol poses much more of a risk to your health.) So aside from the not-entirely-novel inclusion of an egg white, what makes this version worthwhile?

For starters, those bright red maraschino cherries that so often garnish Whiskey Sours are omitted. (If you’re going to use a cherry as a garnish, use the much darker Luxardo maraschino cherries, homemade brandied cherries, or really anything except the bright red ones you’d find in a bar in the bad old days of drinking—reserve those for baking.)

More substantially, Aperol lends a sweet and bitter orangey complexity to the drink that Cointreau/Grand Marnier/curaçao/triple sec or orange juice wouldn’t provide. The drink’s pretty pale pink hue is largely a result of the combination of egg white and Aperol, and visual appeal is obviously important—otherwise why bother with glassware with ornamental cuts and curves? My favorite part is the interplay between the aroma of the bitters against the taste of cocktail. All you get on the nose is the bright and complex grapefruit bitters, and on the palate you get a creamy, elevated take on the classic whiskey sour with absolutely no eggy flavor or aroma. It’s a bit drier than what one might be used to with a more traditional Whiskey Sour recipe, and using regular lemons instead of Meyer lemons would further reduce the sweetness, so a smidgen more simple syrup might be called for depending on your personal taste. Dry or not, I think this one is very much a crowd pleaser.

I have tried a variation with Rittenhouse 100 rye whiskey, and while it’s more complex than Wild Turkey 101 bourbon, that added rye spice may not be to everyone’s taste. It’s something where I could go either way, but if you’re trying to drag your friends into the world of craft cocktails, stick with a high proof bourbon.

It’s still very much a Whiskey Sour at its core, but it’s different enough to warrant putting that weird little ℏ symbol in front of the name (see the post on what’s in a name if you’re curious about what that means).

Cocktail Recipe: Cooper Island Cocktail

Beefeater London dry gin craft cocktail
Cooper Island Cocktail
Ingredients
  • 1½ oz Beefeater London dry gin
  • ¾ oz Lillet blanc
  • ½ oz Giffard crème de pamplemousse
  • ¼ oz simple syrup
  • ¼ oz Coco Reàl cream of coconut
  • 1 tsp Pierre Ferrand dry curaçao
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
Tools
Glass

Libbey 3773 Embassy 5.5 oz champagne coupe

Instructions

Shake ingredients with ice, and fine strain into a coupe. Garnish with half an orange wheel.

Cream of coconut can be kind of annoying to measure. Using a squeeze bottle of Coco Reàl really helps (perhaps there’s another brand out there with similar packaging?), but I have an even better trick. Take the ½ oz side of your small jigger and fill up to the ¼ oz line with simple syrup, then fill the rest of the way with cream of coconut. The simple syrup will lubricate the cream of coconut so it doesn’t stick to the jigger (at least not as much as it would otherwise). See? Those fancy Japanese jiggers are worth it.

Tasting Notes

The union of cream of coconut and London dry gin isn’t the most obvious, but even if this unconventional pairing isn’t to your taste, at the very least, it’s an eye-catching cocktail.

On the nose, the scent of the orange wheel dominates, and the crème de pamplemousse adds a hint of grapefruit. Things take a turn on the palate where gin and bitters come to the fore, accentuating the bitterness of the pamplemousse before giving way to an almost tropical citrus flavor. The cream of coconut lends more to the appearance and body of this drink than it does to the flavor—any notes of coconut are hidden deep in the background—but the drink’s milky look makes the cream of coconut worth including. Curaçao is used to enhance the tropical flavors by adding a subtle floral note and playing off the garnish. Lillet is present mostly in the aftertaste, but it also provides a clean backbone to the drink, preventing it from becoming too syrupy and sweet and too astringent. Simple syrup serves to add just a little more neutral sweetness (I originally thought that elderflower liqueur would serve well in this position, adding a floral note in addition to some sweetness in order to enhance the tropical vibe of the drink, but even at a quarter ounce, it did not blend nicely with the rest of the ingredients).

The bright, summery appearance of the drink brought to mind white sands beaches and crystal clear water, and with London dry gin as the base spirit, I thought a British Virgin Island would make an appropriate name. As much as I enjoy the MTV Cribs episode of Richard Branson showing off Necker Island, I decided to go for a place with fewer well known associations.

Cocktail Recipe: Oro Azteca

Tequila Cointreau crème de cacao craft cocktail
Oro Azteca cocktail
Ingredients
  • 2 oz Calendé tequila reposado
  • 2 tsp Cointreau
  • 2 tsp Drillaud’s crème de cacao
  • 1 tsp King’s Ginger liqueur
  • 1 tsp Cynar
Tools
Glass

Libbey 3773 Embassy 5.5 oz champagne coupe (alternately, Luminarc 5.5 oz coupe cocktail glasses)

Instructions

Stir ingredients with ice, and strain into a coupe. Slice an orange peel, express oils into the drink, and drop the peel into the glass.

Tasting Notes

Tequila funk and a bright orange scent dominate the nose while a sip reveals the spiciness of the base spirit. This gives way to the sweetness of the four liqueurs, which is held in check by the bitterness of the Cynar and crème de cacao. The former lends an earthy and herbal complexity (in a much more restrained way than Fernet Branca, which was used in an earlier iteration), while the latter anchors the drink in a muted chocolate flavor alongside the Cointreau’s sweet orange taste. No single component dominates the drink, which is why the amounts are so carefully calibrated. In a pinch, you can use a barspoon to measure out teaspoons, but I find it’s easiest to use a dedicated measuring spoon for this task as the smaller surface area makes for a more accurate pour. (A similar reason lies behind my preference for Japanese jiggers over their wider and shorter counterparts.)

The drink’s rich golden hue and mostly Mexican flavor profile lend the drink its totally obvious and unoriginal name (but I maintain that if you’re going to give a drink this name, it should at least be gold).

Cocktail Recipe: Santo Noche

Tequila Chartreuse craft cocktail
Santo Noche cocktail
Ingredients
  • 2 oz Cimarrón tequila reposado
  • ½ oz Pierre Ferrand dry curaçao
  • ½ oz tawny port
  • ¼ oz yellow Chartreuse
  • 2 dashes Regan’s orange bitters
Tools
Glass

Libbey 3773 Embassy 5.5 oz champagne coupe (alternately, Luminarc 5.5 oz coupe cocktail glasses)

Instructions

Add ingredients to ice-filled mixing glass (I always add the bitters to a stirred cocktail first to ensure that they don’t end up just sitting on top of the ice), and stir until the mixture is fully chilled. Strain into a coupe, and garnish with a long orange twist.

Tasting Notes

This is definitely a spirit-forward cocktail. All the sweetness introduced by the tawny port, curaçao, and yellow Chartreuse is balanced by spiciness of the tequila, bitters, and yellow Chartreuse. (It almost begs the question of whether you should just drink yellow Chartreuse by itself. If you happen to wind up in the Alphabet City bar in Kyoto off of Pontocho Alley, getting a glass of yellow Chartreuse on the rocks with a hand-carved cube wouldn’t be the worst way to spend part of your night, but I digress.)

The port and curaçao are what give the drink its body, and the former provides the rich red hue, while the latter serves as a sort of bass note to the orange twist and orange bitters. The interplay between the bitters, Chartreuse, and hot, funky, smoky tequila is where the magic lies, and it keeps the drink from becoming too cloying, although the mouthfeel is very syrupy. I think if you enjoy Manhattans and tequila, this cocktail should be up your alley.

Embarrassingly, despite being an Angeleno, my español is anything but bueno, but the drink’s name is my attempt at acknowledging the holiday season. Plus I think it rolls of the tongue well.

Cocktail Recipe: La petite mort dans l’après-midi

gin champagne absinthe craft cocktail
La petite mort dans l’après-midi cocktail
Ingredients
  • 1½ oz Beefeater London dry gin
  • ¾ oz Meyer lemon juice
  • ½ oz simple syrup
  • ½ tsp St. George Absinthe Verte
  • 1½ oz champagne (or dry prosecco in a pinch)
Tools
Glass

Stolzle Weinland 6.75 oz champagne flute

Instructions

Shake gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, and absinthe with ice, fine strain into a flute, and top with champagne. About that Meyer lemon wheel garnish in the picture: I’d skip it. While it’s visually appealing, it’s only going to get in the way of sipping from the narrow mouth of a flute. If you simply must garnish this drink, opt for a long lemon twist instead (you’ll want a channel knife for that).

Tasting Notes

Don’t get me wrong, I love a French 75 and a Death in the Afternoon, but sometimes I want something right in the middle. Because absinthe is such a bold ingredient, only half a teaspoon is necessary to add a certain je ne sais quoi to the drink. Actually, I do know what it is—a light anise spice and a little extra body on the tongue. I find this cocktail immensely drinkable year-round, and it’s been a staple of the Fantabulon menu since I put one and one together a couple years ago to create an obvious albeit enjoyable tipple.

I’m sure my suggestion that prosecco can be substituted for champagne ellicited more than a couple exclamations of “Sacre bleu!,” but in my experience, some champagnes can be much sweeter than some proseccos. Personally, if I’m unwilling to pop the cork on some Moët et Chandon Imperial Brut or a bottle of Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut, I find that the Zonin prosecco at Trader Joe’s works well enough, providing just the right amount of tartness, sweetness, and effervescence for this cocktail. As for using Meyer lemon juice instead of regular lemon juice, I find it to be a little softer and sweeter on the palate, and for my taste, I prefer to use it wherever possible.

Some francophones out there will appreciate the double entendre of the name, but for the rest of you, know that the French would never be so gauche as to call a cocktail a Sex on the Beach (nor would they drink such swill). If your pronunciation isn’t that great, try saying the simpler, “Moi aussi,” when the person next to you orders one of these.

Cocktail Recipe: Portuguese Sour

Portuguese Sour Hendrick's gin craft cocktail
Portuguese Sour cocktail
Ingredients
  • 1 oz Hendrick’s gin
  • ½ oz Wray & Nephew overproof white rum
  • ½ oz Cointreau
  • ¼ oz simple syrup
  • ¾ oz grapefruit juice (fresh squeezed, of course)
  • ½ oz tawny port
Tools
Glass

Libbey 3773 Embassy 5.5 oz champagne coupe (the Luminarc 5.5 oz coupe cocktail glasses presumably work just as well, although I’ve not used them myself)

Instructions

Shake ingredients except tawny port with ice, strain into the coupe, and pour in the port so it sinks in the glass.

Tasting Notes

The nose is sweet, fruity, and a little grassy (most of which comes from the rum), while on the palate, the drink takes on some of the herbal complexity of the gin while still retaining its sweetness. Grapefruit juice keeps the drink from becoming too cloying even with the syrupiness of the tawny port and Cointreau. If you’re looking for a drink that masks its alcohol content, this is not it, but neither would you classify it as jet fuel.

This drink is somewhat similar to the classic New York Sour, but rather than floating a dry wine on top of a sour, a heavy fortified wine sinks to the bottom of a not-quite-basic gin sour. Tawny port’s Portuguese origins lend the cocktail its name.

Cocktail Recipe: Seal Flipper

Seal Flipper rum craft cocktail
Seal Flipper cocktail
Ingredients
  • ¾ oz Gosling’s Black Seal rum
  • ½ oz El Dorado 5 year Demerara rum
  • ¼ oz Smith & Cross Jamaica rum
  • ¼ oz Amaro CioCiaro
  • ¾ oz lime juice
  • ½ oz simple syrup
  • 1 whole egg—yes, that includes the yolk!
Tools
Glass

Libbey 8054 6 oz Georgian Irish coffee glass

Instructions

Crack the egg into the small tin of your shaker set and beat the yolk with your barspoon. Add the remaining ingredients and dry shake (i.e. shake without ice) until the mixture becomes frothy—about 10-15 seconds of vigorous shaking will do. Break the seal, add ice (about 6-8 cubes from an ordinary ice cube tray), and shake again until the tins become frosty (another 10 seconds or so should be enough). Fine strain using a Hawthorne strainer and a conical mesh strainer into a 6 oz cocktail glass.

Tasting Notes

Ok, I know it seems ridiculous to have three kinds of rum, but believe me, each one makes a difference. Even just a quarter ounce of Smith & Cross will contribute an almost egg nog-like note to the nose, although too much will throw off the balance of the drink and make it too harsh. Gosling’s, in addition to providing part of the inspiration for the name (the other half coming from the class of cocktails using whole eggs called flips), gives the drink a rounded sweetness, and the El Dorado Demerara rum bridges the gap between the other two rums.

Rum, lime juice, and simple syrup is a classic combination to which Amaro CioCiaro adds sweetness and a slight earthy complexity. Finally, the whole egg provides the sort of creamy mouthfeel one finds in egg white cocktails with extra richness coming from the yolk.