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Spring 2023 Summer 2023 Fall 2023 Winter 2023
Chai Goes the Lemon Isla Pear'rito    
Fashioned of Chai Kola Tai    
Parche'd Apple Slung Pear    
Mule'd Apple Cider Napa Libertad




Spring 2022 Summer 2022 Autumn 2022 Winter 2022
*W.W.A.D.? Acadian Buttefly Spicy Dog Breakfast Sour
*NVD Beautiful Day Paramour Fall French 75 Sgroppino Pie
*Geranium Lemon Drop Peach Mojito Dirty Grapefruitini Spicy Toast
*Up North Old Fashioned St Angele


Holiday Leftovers


Spring 2021 Summer 2021 Autumn 2021 Winter 2021
* Indian Springs Spritz             * Caribbean Sunset                  * Blue Da-Ba-Dee               * Portland Old Fashioned           
* Carmel by the Sea * Pineapple Sunrise         * Jennifer Juni-Pear * Poms'mo
* Garden Grove     * Pink Flamingo * BlueBerry Sangria * By the Fire
* Citrus Heights * Bird of Paradise * Rosey Mule * Pom Beach Tea


Spring 2020 Summer 2020 Autumn 2020 Winter 2020
* Yellow Brick Road  Strawberry Coast            Goldfinger       *Winter Wonderland        
* Ruby Shoes Pirates Booty          The Oscar Goes to... *Sugar n' Spice
* There's No Place like Home      Walk the Plank The Manhattan Experiment *Naughty & Nice
* Behind the Curtain Davy Jones Locker Key Largo *Mint Condition


Winter 2019 Autumn 2019 Summer 2019 Spring 2019
*Old Fashioned Nutcracker    *Gin Spice & Everything Nice  *NVD Meyer Lemon Drop  *Groundhog Day         
*Fruitcake Fizz *The Big Apple *Rye-N-Spritz *Catcher in the Rye
*Holly Jolly Cocktail *Close Up and Personal *Passion Fruit Daiquirita *San Francisco Sazerac
*Polar Express-o *Newton's Fall-y *Sazherac Agricole *For What Ails You


Aaron Lahey
October 15, 2015 | Aaron Lahey

Happy Spooky Spirited Halloween!

Hello Booze Log Readers!

It's been a while. I'm back, for one night only, to talk a little bit about Halloween; as well as the spooky cocktails this holiday inspired me to create.

Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays. There's a natural creativity to it, between carving jack o lanterns, making haunted houses, and carefully crafting your costume. It's like the arts and crafts fair of holidays. 

For the last few years now this creatively charged holiday has compelled me to make creepy cocktails, inspired by things that go bump in the night.

Nightmare on Ginn Street

I recently watched Wes Craven's slasher classic for the first time, far overdue I may add. The goofy, yet still terrifying Freddy Krueger is more than deserving of a creepy cocktail namesake. 

The main color palette for the drink is green and red, reminiscent of Freddy's grubby sweater. The float of bitters mottles the foam on the top of the drink, making it look like burnt skin. Despite the intimidating visage, this drink is wonderfully refreshing. Full of spices from the Old Hollywood Ginn, with a strong raspberry note, dry botanicals, and more than a touch of rich Cocoa, this is a perfect cocktail for a warm fall night.

Nightmare on Ginn Street

2 oz Napa Valley Distillery - Old Hollywood Ginn
.5 oz Premium Dry Vermouth
.5 oz Small Hands Foods - Raspberry Gum Syrup
8 Drops Napa Valley Bitters - Antique Chocolate Bitters
Lime Wheel

Pour .25 oz Raspberry Gum Syrup into the bottom of a chilled cocktail glass. Add all other ingredients to cocktail shaker and shake hard with ice. Strain into glass. 

Garnish with a lime wheel and 4 additional drops of Antique Chocolate Bitters.

Tower of Terror

Ever since Napa Valley Distillery released the Grand California, something about it reminded me of being a kid and going to Disney's California Adventure theme park. Everyone knows the best ride in the park is the Twilight Zone's Tower of Terror, a creepy 1930's hotel, with quite the drop.

These memories are what inspired the Tower of Terror cocktail. A southern Californian play on a Moscow Mule, replacing vodka with 80 proof Orange Brandy and adding some south of the border kick with tamarind chili lime bitters. The look of the drink, from the Colin's glass to the cherry on top, is supposed to be reminiscent of an Art Deco hotel.

Tower of Terror

1.5 oz Napa Valley Distillery - Grand California
1/2 Lime, juiced 
6 oz Ginger Beer (or 1 oz. Pickett's #1 Ginger Beer Syrup, Medium Spicy & 5 oz soda water) 
8 drops Napa Valley Bitters - Tamarind Lime Chili Bitters
Fresh Orange Peel 

Fill Collins glass with ice. Add the Grand California first, then lime juice, topping with Ginger Beer. (If using Pickett's #1 Syrup and soda water together mix in a separate glass before adding to the cocktail). 

Garnish with flamed orange twist and float bitters on top.


I hope you enjoy these eerie libations as much as I enjoyed creating them. They are alive...ALIVE I SAY!!!

Until next time,
Your ever humble, mad mixologist

Aaron Lahey

*Napa Valley Distillery always recommends drinking responsibly.

Time Posted: Oct 15, 2015 at 2:40 PM Permalink to Happy Spooky Spirited Halloween! Permalink Comments for Happy Spooky Spirited Halloween! Comments (16)
October 1, 2015 |

TCA - The Minimalist Bar

Hello folks! We have been in the throes of moving, but setting up in our new place has been awesome! We can't wait to show it off to y'all. Here’s a sneak peak of our office, we have a noir/gumshoe theme going on right now.

This post is a little more technical than feeling the wind in your hair from the seat of a scooter racing through SF. Nonetheless, technical is often necessary. So here we go!

What does it take to have a minimalist bar? *

I've been trying to stock my home bar with the basic essentials so that whenever I want a common drink, it doesn't require a 20 minute run to the store and a $50 spontaneous grocery bill. I discovered the other night that I don't have a versatile bar. I can pour you any spirit on the rocks, but regarding the whole mixology fun, I don't have much in the way of cocktails from which to choose. (my next post should be about what makes up a cocktail) 

If you are like me, which is just starting out with a home bar and have limited storage space, it's a tricky deal to get the most out of your bar without sacrificing that much shelf space. I currently tuck my bar away on a shelf in my butcher block. The dishes that were housed there are trying to find a new home as we speak. Therefore, I have to keep it simple and this is something vital for me to figure out now before I have no more room for dishes...  
During my research, I discovered it can get quite opinionated and sometimes even heated in differing ideas. There are books written on it, blog posts spewing ideas with arguments in the comments. Even when I was talking to some of my colleagues, they had their own different ideas. The nitty gritty of it all is that our palate will dictate what we enjoy, or don't enjoy.

I have narrowed down that the decision stems from: is a personal bar or an entertaining bar? I'm currently leaning toward a personal bar with the option for a handful of well-known drinks for a handful of close friends. We will see how this evolves.  
I decided to follow my bartending friend's advice. She said, “Always be able to make a long island at any given time and have a form of whiskey.” It consolidated all the advice I was receiving. What spirits are in a long island you ask? Easy!  
Light Rum 
Triple Sec 
Two things not included in a traditional long island I want to keep on hand: 
Whiskey, I was told to keep Bourbon, 
Dark Rum 

To have a bit more flexibility, add dry and sweet vermouth. I read that you should buy small bottles and keep it in the fridge if you won't go through it quickly. 

Something else I have been told is mandatory for a versatile bar is bitters. If you have ever been in the NVD bar shop, it's great if you know what you are doing. Otherwise, it’s overwhelming for beginners.  I didn’t even know where to start! After talking to Paul, our tasting room manager, he gave me a list to always have on hand.   


I grabbed a travel pack of Berg & Haucks bitters set, it has all of the above. 

Next up is Mixers: Simple syrup, lemons, lime, sugar, and salt. Cherries and oranges if you like 

old fashioned’s, manhattans, etc. I always have lemons around, but the other stuff I only have raw cane sugar which doesn’t dissolve well. I want to make my own simple syrup, but for now I bought a bottle. I also will be looking for some flavored syrups and shrubs with fun tastes. The Bang Candy Peach Basil that was included In the June Bar Club shipment is awesome, I’ve had it in a mojito and margarita, and will definitely keep that around. 

Shaker, pint glass, hawthorn strainer, bar spoon, muddler (I have yet to buy a muddler. I use an ice cream scoop or wooden tart molder) 
Rocks, tumbler, martini, and champagne flute. This is what I have on hand.  
Also anything that you know you love, for example, I love scotch. I can drink it neat. I make sure to keep a bottle of that around, especially for when my dad comes to visit. 

As you might have noticed, I don't have everything on that has been recommended to keep on hand. I now have my shopping list. Well this wraps up what I’ve learned so far. What have you found you like to keep on hand? Feel free to comment!
Until next time, 

*Napa Valley Distillery always recommends drinking responsibly.

Time Posted: Oct 1, 2015 at 5:00 PM Permalink to TCA - The Minimalist Bar Permalink Comments for TCA - The Minimalist Bar Comments (17)
September 17, 2015 |

The Vesper

Whoop whoop! We've been scrambling to get your club shipment out in a timely manner and haven't had much time to focus on blogs, but I do have a tale of the city to share today.

We went to the city a couple weekends ago, a glorified stay-cation if you will. We scooted around SF and finished up at the Top of the Mark. If you have never been, I highly recommend it. You have a 360 view of the city from this beautiful lounge. Casual dress is ok, but we had packed a couple items to freshen ourselves up from the Scoots' (rentable scooters) helmets.

After pretty much redressing out of the trunk of our car, our friends and us headed to the International Mark Hopkins Hotel. There was a line for the elevator, as usual. It's worth it! We quickly sped our way to the top, and stepped out. The setting sun was shining its rays across the entire room, and we were able to get a window seat. Had we arrived 30 minutes later, we would have been lucky just to get a seat. Our wonderful waiter named Jim took great care of us, listened to our questions, and fulfilled our orders swiftly and expertly. They have a cocktail menu miles long, but for a type of place to sip a drink in the city, the prices are very competitive.

I ordered a 'Vesper'. When your drink comes out and it's clear, you just know it's dangerous. But, it was exactly what I was craving, refreshing and crisp after a long day in the winds and hills.

The Vesper is named after the love interest of the famous 007 agent, James Bond. He created the drink in the 1953 novel Casino Royale.

"A dry martini," Bond said. "One. In a deep champagne goblet."
"Oui, monsieur."
"Just a moment. Three measures of Gordon's, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet.
Shake it very well until it's ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel. Got it?"
"Certainly, monsieur." The barman seemed pleased with the idea.
"Gosh, that's certainly a drink," said Leiter.
Bond laughed. "When I'm...er...concentrating," he explained, "I never have more than one drink before dinner. But I do like that one to be large and very strong and very cold and very well-made. I hate small portions of anything, particularly when they taste bad. This drink's my own invention. I'm going to patent it when I can think of a good name."
—Ian Fleming, Casino Royale, Chapter 7, "Rouge et Noir

Bond said after taking a long sip, “Excellent .... but if you can get a vodka made with grain instead of potatoes, you will find it still better.” I am sure he would think of it being made exclusively from Sauvignon Blanc grapes would be the only way to drink it.

*spoiler alert* He never again consumes the drink after the death of the namesake.

I have since looked up the official recipe and was thrilled to find out we can make a Napa Valley Vesper.

NVD Vesper:

3 part Old Hollywood Ginn
1 part Napa Reserve Neutral Brandy
half measure equal parts NVD Meyer Lemon Variety and Lillet Blonde

Shake with ice until cold, then strain and pour. Garnish with a lemon peel. Enjoy!*

Until next time,


PS: Want to watch that scene? Click here. 



*Napa Valley Distillery always recommends drinking responsibly.

Time Posted: Sep 17, 2015 at 11:30 PM Permalink to The Vesper Permalink Comments for The Vesper Comments (3)
August 27, 2015 |

The Cocktail Apprentice


Disclaimer: Before you read this, have a drink. 

Imagine. "Thinking Out Loud" by the Mr. Sheeran is playing on the radio as you gaze into your lover's eyes over the rim of a well-balanced cocktail. That is my Sunday evening right now. I am playing with my fledgling knowledge, but I am in the same quandary as most. I don't know much about spirits, cocktails, or even what the Prohibition did to America beyond reversing freedoms and rights by a couple decades. 

So why am I writing a blog about the wizardry of the bar tender? Because office skills of course! Never knock office skills. They get you the best jobs in the best of places. I recently was hired by Napa Valley Distillery. As a new hire, I have started to become educated under the tutelage of the masters, Arthur, Ian, Paul... Pretty much everyone here knows more than me. Hence, my title as the Cocktail Apprentice. So, while I am trying to develop this concept, I've discovered there's two major categories that, while the basics overlap, we will probably tackle in different posts. After today of course. Today, we gab!  

We have to not be afraid to ask the questions, even the basic ones! There are no stupid questions. Knowledge is power, and the power we are entrusted with is to choose what our enjoyment is! Here's some questions I have had, maybe you have had them too.

Going out:  
Do you ever walk into a bar and fall back to the same ole same ole? Does Sex and the City still dictate your Friday night cocktail? Are you stuck in a college rut of fast shots and lack of balance... I am referring to the cocktail's symmetry and not the DUI test. (as always, I will stress drinking responsibly)*  What about that budget adage to order beer or wine when you go out for a drink or two?  Why is that considered advice? Is it because we get ripped off for ordering an adult beverage and it tastes like a juice box in our kids lunch? It’s aggravating and frustrating to pay $10-15 for a glorified fruit punch that doesn’t even leave that nice relaxed feeling. Are mixed drinks simply pocket padding for restaurants? Why do we, should we, even bother?

Staying in: 
What about having friends over? Are we cursed to only serving blended margaritas and spiked punch for all of our house parties? My dilemma was that I had these amazingly crafted sprits by NVD (I thought this even before they signed my paycheck) AND I don't know what to do with them! I tried them straight at the tasting room, I have the recipes they send with the quarterly shipment and then what? They sit there and look pretty? I didn't want to end up like my mother and have bottles of booze in my pantry from the 3 decades previously. 

So where do we start? I can be an impatient sort and thought that the best way to start is to begin with the most gratifying: making a drink.  

So, this lovely Sunday night, I started the dive into experimentations and flirting with science of taste. Even before I indulged in alcoholic beverages, I knew what a cosmopolitan was; I thought that this would be a good start. I pulled out the vodka, but realized I was missing a vital ingredient. After a quick jaunt to BevMo and grabbing a bottle that said it was a natural cranberry & key lime mixer, I could finally get started.  I followed the recipe on the back of the cranberry bottle.

Recipe #1:
3oz Mixer
1.5oz Vodka
Shake with ice, strain/pour. Garnish with lime wedge.

I poured it into my grandmother’s vintage cocktail glass, and because cocktails used to be smaller in her day, I had too much, so I split it with my husband. He and I both took a sip and made faces. The ratio of 2:1 wasn’t working for us, so 2nd lesson is improvise! I looked up the cosmo in my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. It highlighted one missing ingredient. Orange liqueur... 

Recipe #2:
3oz Mixer 2.5oz Vodka 0.5oz Orange Liqueur
Take lime wedge garnish, partially slice in half, run the slit around the rim of the glass. Leave as a garnish.
Shake with ice, strain/pour. (see image above)

It was so much better! The orange liqueur brought out something different in the cranberry, and the little extra vodka cut the sweetness of the juice. The initial tartness of the lime juice on the rim also helped out in the balancing. It was bliss. Definitely something I will make again on a hot summer night. 

Three lessons of today:
1.) Have the basics
2.) Improvise
3.) Trust your palate.

All three of these lessons are inherently intertwined. I can’t wait to explore this more! 

So that wraps up my inaugural post. It’s way too much fun to write up a blog like this.  Feel free to critique or comment!

Until next time,


*Napa Valley Distillery always recommends drinking responsibly.


Time Posted: Aug 27, 2015 at 3:00 PM Permalink to The Cocktail Apprentice Permalink Comments for The Cocktail Apprentice Comments (7)
Aaron Lahey
June 10, 2015 | Aaron Lahey

Witch Doctor Wednesdays

Hello Booze Log Readers!

Welcome to the inaugural Witch Doctor Wednesday blog post, where I will explore alcohol’s history and use as a medicine*.

Today's post was inspired by the release of our Brandy Mint Julep Cocktail, which I found out, through accidental experimentation, to have some healing qualities. Hot toddies are a category of cocktail that actually predate the cocktail. They are defined as a mix of spirituous liquor, sugar (or honey), spices/herbs, and hot water. The hot water actually vaporizes the alcohol, which can clear up congestion in the sinuses and lungs. Alcohol is also a mild anesthetic, so it can sooth a sore or scratchy throat. All of the earliest preparations of alcohol like this were medicinally intended. If you do have a sore or dry throat, adding a small amount, maybe half an ounce, of Brandy Mint Julep Cocktail to hot water and lemon, should really help it feel better. I know it has for me.

Hot Mint Toddy
1oz NVD Brandy Mint Julep Cocktail
1/2 Lemon, juiced
1 Cinnamon Stick
7oz Hot Water

Makes one 8oz cocktail.

Until next time,
Your friendly, neighborhood witch doctor,
Aaron Lahey

*Note: This is not intended to cure, treat, or prevent any disease. The FDA has not endorsed the statements here*

Time Posted: Jun 10, 2015 at 5:10 PM Permalink to Witch Doctor Wednesdays Permalink Comments for Witch Doctor Wednesdays Comments (441)
Aaron Lahey
May 28, 2015 | Aaron Lahey

Thirsty Thursday: The Cherry Lime Gimlet

Hello Booze Log Readers,

Today, I am mixing up a cocktail inspired by two other classics: The Gin Gimlet, and The Cherry Lime Rickey. Both of these drinks were extremely popular from the 20's straight through to the late 50's. Gin Rickey's are ordered by Gatsby in Fitzgerald's classic, and many know the gimlet as Betty Draper's (Mad Men) poison of choice. The Cherry Lime Rickey was a popular soda fountain drink around the same time, using sweet cherry syrup for a refreshing summer pop. Cherry season is still in full swing here in Northern California, and with the hot days driving me for a refresher, I've looked to these classic summer cocktails for inspiration. The result? The Cherry Lime Gimlet. Shaken hard and strained, like a gimlet, this drink looks beautiful in your fanciest cocktail glass.

The Cherry Lime Gimlet
2oz Napa Valley Distillery Cherry Brandy
0.75oz El Guapo Lime Cordial Syrup
0.25oz Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
2 dashes Bittercube Cherry Bark Vanilla

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake hard until shaker frosts. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with lime wheel and Luxardo Maraschino Cherry.

Until next time,
Your ever humble, antiquated mixologist,
Aaron Lahey


*Napa Valley Distillery always recommends drinking responsibly.


Time Posted: May 28, 2015 at 11:50 AM Permalink to Thirsty Thursday: The Cherry Lime Gimlet Permalink Comments for Thirsty Thursday: The Cherry Lime Gimlet Comments (6)
Aaron Lahey
May 26, 2015 | Aaron Lahey

Temperance Tuesday: As Bittersweet Cocktail Example

Dear Readers,

In my last post I promised a nonalcoholic cocktail recipe based on the format I laid out in the crash course. If nothing else, I try to be a man of my word, so here it is! Please refer to my post last week for more information about how I came to this recipe!

Something I forgot to note last week: When you have created a signature concoction, make sure to name it something fun!

South of Wherever
2oz Small Hands or Liber Pineapple Gum Syrup
1oz fresh orange juice
1oz fresh lime juice
2 dashes Mr. Bitters Honeyed Apricot & Smoked Hickory Bitters
12oz soda water

Shake first four ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker. Pour unstrained into a pint glass. Top with soda. Garnish with lime wheel. Makes one 16oz bittersweet cocktail.

As you can see this drink follows the format. It has the pineapple gum as the sweet component, fresh citrus for the sour, bitters that complement the other flavors in the drink, and soda water to dilute.

Hope this helps in your home mixing adventures!

Until next time,
your ever humble, honest mixologist,
Aaron Lahey

Time Posted: May 26, 2015 at 3:57 PM Permalink to Temperance Tuesday: As Bittersweet Cocktail Example Permalink Comments for Temperance Tuesday: As Bittersweet Cocktail Example Comments (3)
Aaron Lahey
May 13, 2015 | Aaron Lahey

Tardy Temperance Tuesday: Bittersweet Cocktails at Home (A Crash Course)

Dear Readers,

Over the past few months I have written about several of the non-alcoholic Bittersweet Cocktails that we serve in our Oxbow Tasting Salon and Bar Shop. Today, I am going to show you how to start creating your own Bittersweet Cocktails at home. Everything here is a rule of thumb, and there will almost certainly be exceptions to the rules. The important thing to remember is to have fun and to experiment!

The Framework
Every Bittersweet Cocktail has a basic framework to it, certain components that will always be there. These components are sweet, sour, bitter, and water.

Every drink is going to have a sweet element. If at all possible avoid using refined sugar in your drinks. Examples of sweet components include demerara sugar, infused syrups, fresh muddled fruit, molasses, maple syrup, brown sugar or agave. 

A sour flavor balances sweetness and is what makes a drink taste refreshing. The sour flavor is produced by one of several types of acids commonly found in food. Citric acid being the most common, as well as acetic acid (vinegars), tartaric acid (grapes), or malic acid (berries). Citrus juice is the most common sour component in cocktails, but various vinegars, and tart fruit juices also fill this role.

*note* Shrubs, also known as drinking vinegars, and tonic syrups, as well as sweetened lime juice, lime cordials, and sweet and sour mix fall into both the sweet and sour categories. With some being on the sweeter side (cordials, sweetened lime) and others on the more sour side (drinking vinegars, tonic syrups) with some being balanced in themselves. Experiment with these ingredients until you get it balanced the way you want.

In non-alcoholic cocktails, bitters add a complexity that makes them as satisfying as a "real drink" as well as tempering the sugar. Bitters tend to play more of a forward role in the flavor profile of non-alcoholic drinks, and can even be the featured flavor in the drink. Feel free to use two or even three different bitters in one drink.

Whether it’s sparkling, still, or flavored, you are going to need to dilute your drink to make it light and palatable.

Proper Proportions
Proportions are important in drink making, and will require some experimentation and practice to perfect, but here are some rules of thumb that have served me well:

In total you want between a 1:3 to 1:4 ratio of flavorings to water. So your sweet, sour, and bitter components should never equal more than 33% of the total volume of your drink.

In general, sweet and sour components should be in a 1:1 mix to stay balanced. If you want a tart drink like a lemonade however, do a 2:1 mix of sour to sweet. Certain sweet and sour ingredients will also be more concentrated than others. Here is where experimentation comes in.

Check back next week for a simple Bittersweet Cocktail I developed based on these rules and framework.

Until then, Happy Mixing!
Your ever humble, sober mixologist,
Aaron Lahey

Time Posted: May 13, 2015 at 3:20 PM Permalink to Tardy Temperance Tuesday: Bittersweet Cocktails at Home (A Crash Course) Permalink Comments for Tardy Temperance Tuesday: Bittersweet Cocktails at Home (A Crash Course) Comments (6)
Aaron Lahey
May 7, 2015 | Aaron Lahey

Thirsty Thursday: The Cherry Sling

Not a Cocktail...

Here in Napa Valley the first fresh cherries have hit the farmer's markets; and to me, that's something worth celebrating. And Napa Valley Distillery has the perfect spirit for all your cherry based cocktails, our Cherry Brandy. This spirit is one of my favorites for mixing in cocktails, because it simultaneously functions as a whiskey and a brandy. You get the soft, fresh fruit note from the cherry, as well as a sharp, dry, peppery oak from the whiskey barrels it was aged in. The drink I am going to share with you today features this distinctive brandy, and falls into a category that actually predates the cocktail: The Sling.

Before the Cocktail
Many assume that a cocktail refers to any mixed drink, and in many places today the two are indeed synonymous. However, once upon a time, a cocktail had a very specific definition, and was just one more in a long line of mixed drink categories. The original definition of a cocktail is a mix of spirituous liqueur with water, sugar, and bitters. Stirred or shaken with ice and strained into a cocktail glass, with a fresh fruit garnish. Other mixed drink categories at the time included The Smash, The Punch, The Julep, The Sling, The Sour, The Fizz, The Flip, The Crusta and many more. Eventually all these families of drinks would fall under the blanket term "cocktail."

For your edification, here are the old definitions for some of these mixed drink families:
-Julep: Alcohol, sugar, water, and sometimes fresh fruit/herbs served in a julep cup with crushed or shaved ice.
-Smash: Like a Julep, but not particularly in a julep cup, and with only shaved ice.
-Punch: Alcohol, fresh fruit juice, and other mixers, normally served in a large bowl for entertaining.
-Sour: Liquor, lemon or lime juice, and a sweetener, sometimes with an egg white.
-Fizz: Alcohol, sugar, and soda water. The soda water makes it a fizz.
-Flip: Has an egg in it.
-Crusta: Has a sugar rim.

What is a Sling then?
A Sling is simply a mix of liquor, water, and sugar, served hot or cold, strained into a glass. Truly the most basic of mixed drinks. I have found very few true Slings that I like. Usually combining sugar and alcohol without bitters produces a drink that cloys at the throat, like cough syrup. The bitters are an integral part to the balance of the cocktail. There are, of course, exceptions.

Sour Cherry Syrup
The syrup I use in this drink makes all the difference. It has a real tart note that offsets the sweetness and provides balance without the use of bitters. The brand I used was D'Arbo, an Austrian company famous for their preserves. Their sour cherry syrup is the best I've found. Our sister store, Napastak, carries it here in the Oxbow Marketplace. If you can't find that, a 50/50 mix of Tait Farms Sour Cherry Shrub and Luxardo Maraschino Syrup makes a good substitute.

The Cherry Sling
1.5oz Napa Valley Distillery Cherry Brandy
1.5oz D'Arbo Sour Cherry Syrup
Fresh cherry, stem on, for garnish

Shake hard in a cocktail shaker with ice until shaker is frosty. Strain into a small cocktail glass. Garnish with a fresh cherry. Give to your Mother this Sunday. She deserves it. Makes one 3oz cocktail.

Until next time,
Your ever humble, antiquated mixologist,
Aaron Lahey

Time Posted: May 7, 2015 at 4:23 PM Permalink to Thirsty Thursday: The Cherry Sling Permalink Comments for Thirsty Thursday: The Cherry Sling Comments (1)
Aaron Lahey
April 30, 2015 | Aaron Lahey

Thirsty Thursday: The Real California Mint Julep

We have a very special weekend coming up Booze Log Readers: The Kentucky Derby! What is the Kentucky Derby without its ubiquitous cocktail, the Mint Julep? It's just another horse race. This iconic libation became the official drink of Churchill Downs in 1938, when they started selling it in commemorative Julep cups.

Although synonymous with Kentucky know, the Mint Julep was originally associated with Virginia. Originally described in 1803 as "a dram of spirituous liquor that has mint in it, taken by Virginians in the morning." These Virginia Juleps were thought to use brandy, rum, or rye as their "spirituous liquor," not Bourbon at all! In fact, in Jerry Thomas's 1887 edition of his bartending guide, he includes several recipes for mint juleps, none of which call for whiskey. However, in my humble opinion, no matter the cocktails origin, if you are drinking one for derby, it better have Kentucky bourbon in it.

The Real California Mint Julep is a play on Jerry Thomas' The Real Georgia Mint Julep, which uses cognac and peach brandy as its base spirits. I really liked the idea of pairing the mint and a stone fruit flavor like peach. I also like how different regions have taken this simple drink and modified it to express local character. I am going to attempt to do the same here, using a fuzzy stone fruit native to California: the apricot. Instead of simple syrup I add a bit of black-strap molasses. This drink is, after all, for the racetrack; and molasses always reminds me of the stables.

Alright, I can tell you are chomping at the bit. Here's the Recipe:

The Real California Mint Julep
2 oz Kentucky Straight Bourbon
1 oz Napa Valley Distillery Apricot Brandy
1 oz Napa Valley Distillery Grand California
1 heaping barspoon Luxardo Apry Apricot preserves, or other high quality apricot jam
1 small barspoon black-strap molasses
6 large fresh mint leaves
More fresh mint to garnish

In a cocktail shaker, muddle the mint with the apricot preserves and molasses. Add spirits, stir well with a bar spoon, making sure to scrape the sides of the shaker. In a julep cup or highball glass, fill to over the edge of the glass with crushed or shaved ice*. Strain the contents of the shaker over the crushed ice, through a fine sieve. Garnish with fresh mint sprigs. Watch a horse race. Repeat. Makes one 8 oz cocktail.

*All juleps will have crushed or shaved ice, that is what makes them a julep.

Enjoy the Derby everyone! Until next week!
Your ever humble, equestrian barman,
Aaron Lahey

Time Posted: Apr 30, 2015 at 11:00 AM Permalink to Thirsty Thursday: The Real California Mint Julep Permalink Comments for Thirsty Thursday: The Real California Mint Julep Comments (30)