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*Polar Express-o *Newton's Fall-y *Sazherac Agricole *For What Ails You


Aaron Lahey
March 27, 2015 | Aaron Lahey

Two Variations On The Classic Gin Fizz

Welcome back to the final post on our second favorite New Orleans cocktail! The Ramos Fizz is one of those drinks you can judge a good bartender by, and every good bartender I know has their own variation on a Ramos. The way they make their Ramos Fizz says a lot about their perspective and approach as a bartender, and there are as many variations on this cocktail as there are bartenders mixing it. Here are a few variations I have found over the years that I really like. click to find Part 1 & Part 2

Kipper's Breakfast Gin Fizz
This is the first Ramos Fizz I ever made. Kipper was a regular of mine at my first bartending gig out in Occidental, and every Sunday he would come in and order one of these, the way his Dad used to make Sunday mornings. There are a couple of huge differences between this drink and the original. Firstly, this is a blended drink, not shaken at all. This makes it a lot easier on the bartender. Secondly, it seems like it’s made from things you would have lying around after an American breakfast. Orange juice instead of lemon and lime, maple syrup instead of gum or simple syrup, half and half instead of cream, and a whole egg instead of just the white. This makes a sweeter drink, reminiscent of an orange creamcicle. It is imperative that this drink be garnished with freshly grated nutmeg; at least according to Kip.

2 oz NVD Old Hollywood Ginn
1 oz half and half
1 oz orange juice
1 oz maple syrup
1 whole egg*
3 dashes (18-24 drops) orange flower water (Fee Brothers)
freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup ice

Add all ingredients but nutmeg to a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into Collins glass. Garnish with orange twist and nutmeg and serve. Makes one 12-14 oz cocktail.

Apricot Brandy FizzTwo Variations On The Classic Gin Fizz
This is one of mine. A modern, dressed up version of the original Ramos with Apricot Eau de Vie, blood orange, almond milk and vanilla. If you can find "barista series" almond milk, it makes a better foam. This cocktail has a decidedly Tiki drink quality to it, which I see no problem with. The NVD Apricot Brandy plays up the floral element always present in the Ramos, but is balanced by a spicy complexity missing from the original. Sometimes new is good!

1 oz NVD Old Hollywood Ginn
1 oz NVD Apricot Brandy
1 oz unsweetened almond milk
0.5 oz blood orange juice
0.5 oz lemon juice
1 oz gum syrup (Small Hands Foods or Liber & Co) or simple syrup (Sonoma Syrup Co)
3-4 drops vanilla extract (De La Rosa)
1 egg white*
3 dashes (18-24 drops) orange flower water (Fee Brothers)
1 dash (6-8 drops) Bittermens Elemakule Tiki Bitters
soda water
lemon wheel, orange twist, and lemon flavor pearls for garnish

Add all ingredients but bitters and soda and shake like a traditional Ramos Fizz. Pour into Collins glass, top with soda, and finish with bitters and garnish. Makes one 12-14 oz cocktail.

Well that's all for today folks. Happy shaking!
Your ever humble, foamy mixologist,
Aaron Lahey

*Napa Valley Distillery always recommends drinking responsibly.

**Napa Valley Distillery suggests using caution when consuming raw eggs due to the slight risk of food-borne illness. To reduce this risk, we recommend that you use only fresh, properly refrigerated, clean grade A or AA eggs with intact shells, and avoid contact between the yolks or whites and the shell.

Time Posted: Mar 27, 2015 at 1:04 PM Permalink to Two Variations On The Classic Gin Fizz Permalink Comments for Two Variations On The Classic Gin Fizz Comments (99)
Aaron Lahey
March 26, 2015 | Aaron Lahey

The Ramos Fizz: Tips & Tricks

Welcome to Part 2 of our foray into the Ramos Gin Fizz. The Ramos Fizz is not just a notoriously laborious cocktail, it is also a notoriously difficult one to get right. For such a seemingly innocuous set of ingredients, there is a ton of bartending technique that goes into it. I'm going to use this opportunity to share some do's and don’ts with the Ramos, as well as egg white drinks in general. Did you miss Part 1? No worries, accress it here.

Here Are Some Tricks To Getting A Nice, Thick Egg White Foam With The Least Amount Of Shaking

  • Have everything ready to go before you start shaking. Have your glass, garnish, etc. all ready and next to you. You want to immediately pour the cocktail after shaking.
  • Citrus juice, alcohol, cream, and sugar will all help to emulsify an egg white foam.
  • Always do a "double shake." Shake the ingredients first without ice, and then again with ice. The egg will begin to whip much easier closer to room temperature.
  • Replace simple syrup with gum syrup. The gum Arabic in gum syrup does an incredible job at thickening and stabilizing an egg white foam. This also cuts down on shake time, saving your arms. At least 0.25 oz gum goes in every one of my egg white drinks. Try one of these gum syrups from Small Hands Foods or Liber & Co.

Here Are Some Tips Specifically For The Ramos Fizz

  • Make sure you hold on to the top and bottom of the shaker firmly. The combination of heavy cream and egg white in this drink make for a lot of expansion in a short time. Expansion in a confined space results in a rapid increase in pressure, and I have seen the top of a shaker get launched across a bar with so much force that they had to scrub Ramos Fizz off the ceiling that night.
  • Do not substitute cream for low fat milk. The fat in the cream helps stop the alcohol and citrus juice from curdling the dairy.
  • Mix up the direction of your shake several times during the course of shaking. This will increase agitation and the overall stability of the foam.
  • Some bartenders say to add the soda to the glass and top with the cocktail. Others say to pour the cocktail in the glass and top with soda. The former method leads to a uniform texture from top to bottom of the glass. The latter will cause a distinct break between foam and drink. *see the photo for an example*

Troubleshooting Common Issues

  • Foam easily breaks: Did not shake long enough
  • Top of the shaker sticks: Run only the top of the shaker under hot water until it loosens.
  • Watery cocktail: Didn't add enough ice to the shaker before shaking.

I hope these tips help, and will take away some of the apprehensions surrounding egg white cocktails. Check back tomorrow for a few of my favorite twists on the Ramos!

Your ever humble, tricky mixologist,
Aaron Lahey

*Napa Valley Distillery always recommends drinking responsibly.

**Napa Valley Distillery suggests using caution when consuming raw eggs due to the slight risk of food-borne illness. To reduce this risk, we recommend that you use only fresh, properly refrigerated, clean grade A or AA eggs with intact shells, and avoid contact between the yolks or whites and the shell.

Time Posted: Mar 26, 2015 at 1:53 PM Permalink to The Ramos Fizz: Tips & Tricks Permalink Comments for The Ramos Fizz: Tips & Tricks Comments (12)
Aaron Lahey
March 24, 2015 | Aaron Lahey

The Classic Ramos Fizz & A Defense of Eggs

Hello there drinkers! Today I want to talk about a classic and very famous cocktail that has all but disappeared from modern bar menus: The Ramos Gin Fizz. This will be part one of a three part post about this drink. Today, we will learn about the history of the drink, provide the classic recipe, and defend an oft maligned cocktail ingredient. Check back tomorrow for tips, tricks, and troubleshooting, and on Thursday for several of my favorite variations!

A Brief History
The Ramos Gin Fizz was invented by Henry C. Ramos in 1888 at his New Orleans bar, The Imperial Cabinet Saloon. To make a Ramos Fizz, you mix Gin, cream, lemon juice, lime juice, gomme/gum syrup, an egg white, and orange flower water, and shake hard for an absurd 12 minutes, before pouring it over soda water. The result is a light, bright drink with a texture like no other. At the height of this drink’s popularity, Henry Ramos would sometimes have over 20 "shaker boys," behind the bar, just to shake up his "New Orleans" Fizz's for eagerly awaiting guests. It is said that even with all this dedicated staff, Ramos still had trouble keeping up with demand. His fizz was simply too labor intensive, and overall time consuming for a busy bar to handle. For these reasons, outside of a few historic hotel bars in New Orleans, you will be hard pressed to find a Ramos Fizz on a bar menu. Also, if you ever want to ruin a bartender’s night, order a Ramos Fizz just before closing time. All jokes aside, this cocktail, done right, is transcendent. It is indicative of its era, when people were still willing to wait for something to be made well. It's a drink that says, "If you can't wait 15 minutes, you don't deserve me," and there's something I kind of like about that.

The Classic Recipe Ramos Fizz
2 oz NVD Old Hollywood Ginn
1 oz heavy cream
1 oz gum syrup (Small Hands Foods or Liber & Co) or simple syrup (Sonoma Syrup Co)
.5 oz fresh squeezed lemon juice
.5 oz fresh squeezed lime juice
1 egg white**
3 dashes (18-24 drops) orange flower water (Fee Brothers)
1 drop vanilla extract (De La Rosa) *this is under some debate by New Orleans bartenders, but I like it*
1-2 oz soda water

Add first seven ingredients to a dry cocktail shaker, and shake hard for one minute. Add half a cup of ice, and continue shaking at least 3 minutes, or up to the original 12 (you might need to grab some friends for shaker relay). Strain into a Collins glass, and top with soda. Finish with a gentle stir and the single drop of vanilla. Garnish with a lime twist. Makes one 12-14 oz cocktail.

In Defense of Eggs**
Eggs do amazing things to cocktails. However, for the majority of the public, the idea of putting raw egg into their beverage is nauseating at best, and could even be dangerous! Right? Wrong. A thousand times wrong. First let me debunk the health concerns. Yes, uncooked eggs, in very rare instances, can transfer salmonella. How this works is salmonella from the chicken coop gets onto the outside of the egg. When you take that egg and crack it, the inside of the egg comes into contact with the outside, possibly transferring the salmonella to your egg white. Because that egg white doesn't get cooked, you could get sick. But you could have gotten just as sick by licking the shell. So, all you have to do to eliminate the chance of getting sick from raw eggs, is quickly rinse the shell with warm water before cracking.

But won't it make my drink all slimy, you ask? Absolutely not. In fact, raw eggs don't have a whole lot of flavor, so the only real reason to put them in a drink is to change and improve the texture. Not to make it slimy. That would be awful. Egg whites and egg yolks do different things to cocktails, just like in cooking or baking. Some drinks will call just for the egg white, some others just for the yolk, and others still for the whole egg. Egg white proteins like to stick to each other. So when you shake them or whip them up, they create a lattice, like a net, that traps air bubbles. This is what makes a soufflé rise, and those peaks on your meringue stiff. In fact, for an egg white cocktail, you are basically making a soft meringue in your shaker. The proteins in the egg yolk don't like to stick to each other. They like to spread out and emulsify into the drink. So adding an egg yolk will give your drink a silky, rich, heaver texture, akin to adding gum syrup. Adding the whole egg will, you guessed it, do a bit of both. You will get more body in the base of your drink, as well as a light foam on top.

If this little manifesto for eggs seems unwarranted, let me say this. The majority of professional bars now use dehydrated egg white powder in their cocktails, solely because of negative reactions from customers to seeing fresh eggs cracked behind a bar. Egg white powder can clump, is much more expensive, and can alter the proportions of classic cocktails. Love the egg, the real egg, and it will love you back.

Good luck and happy shaking! If you run into any troubles making this notoriously finicky cocktail, check back tomorrow for Tips, Tricks, and Troubleshooting. Until then...

Your ever humble "shakerboy"
Aaron Lahey

*Napa Valley Distillery always recommends drinking responsibly.

**Napa Valley Distillery suggests using caution when consuming raw eggs due to the slight risk of food-borne illness. To reduce this risk, we recommend that you use only fresh, properly refrigerated, clean grade A or AA eggs with intact shells, and avoid contact between the yolks or whites and the shell.

Time Posted: Mar 24, 2015 at 3:34 PM Permalink to The Classic Ramos Fizz & A Defense of Eggs Permalink Comments for The Classic Ramos Fizz & A Defense of Eggs Comments (90)
Aaron Lahey
March 17, 2015 | Aaron Lahey

BONUS RECIPE: Guinness Simple Syrup

I don't know about you, but I tend to have a lot of left over Guinness the day after St. Patrick's Day. Here is a way to use it up! This syrup is great in whiskey drinks, but is also fantastic in coffee, or on pancakes.

Guinness Simple Syrup
2 16 oz. cans Guinness Draught beer
1 cup dark brown sugar (The darkest you can find. I like dark muscovado sugar.)
3 cups organic cane sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract (We carry a great one from De La Rosa)
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp Irish whiskey
.5 cup water

Pour beer in a heavy bottomed saucepan over low heat. Simmer until reduced by half, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the sugars, honey, vanilla, and water. Continue to heat on medium low until sugar dissolves. About 5 minutes, stirring gently but frequently to stop the sugar from scorching. When all sugar is dissolved, remove from heat, strain into a heat proof bowl, and add whiskey. Stir and let cool. Store in the fridge for 3-6 months. Makes approximately 3 cups syrup.

Your ever humble, lucky barman,
Aaron Lahey

Time Posted: Mar 17, 2015 at 3:34 PM Permalink to BONUS RECIPE: Guinness Simple Syrup Permalink Comments for BONUS RECIPE: Guinness Simple Syrup Comments (272)
Aaron Lahey
March 17, 2015 | Aaron Lahey

The Cordial Clover or The Limey Bastard?

Happy St. Patrick's Day Booze Log Readers!

Today is a day for celebrating all things Spring, green, alcoholic, and most importantly, Irish. Like many Americans, today I celebrate the Irish side of my heritage, traditionally with corned beef and cabbage, and a nice cold Guinness.

This year, however, I thought I would celebrate it in the way I know best, by making a cocktail! I'm having a hard time naming this drink however, and I'm calling on you: Booze Log Readers, to help me decide! I have narrowed it down to two names. Either The Cordial Clover, or the Limey Bastard. What I ask of you, readers, is to make this drink at home, or at least imagine it, and write your vote for the most fitting name in the comments section of this post. The name with the most votes will become the official name of Napa Valley Distillery's St. Patrick's Day cocktail, for this year at least.

Without further ado, here's the recipe.
(click here for a bonus recipe, Guinness Simple Syrup!)

The Cordial Clover or The Limey Bastard (you decide)
2 oz. Irish Whisky
.75 oz Napa Valley Distillery Brandy Cordial
.75 oz Royal Rose Cardamom Clove Syrup
1 bar spoon clover honey
.5 fresh lime, juiced
1 dash Bitter Bastard Clove Bitters
1 spritz Napa Valley Bitters Toasted Oak Bitters
lime twist, for garnish

Heat the honey and lime in a small saucepan over low heat, until the honey dissolves. (This can be done ahead of time, and scaled as needed. Just one bar spoon of honey for every half a lime worth of juice). Let juice cool. Then add to a shaker with all other ingredients but the bitters and garnish. Add ice, and stir for one minute. Strain, over ice, into a highball glass. Float bitters and garnish.* Makes one cocktail.

*note: To make the snakes tongue lime twist as seen in the photo, fold one end of the twist in half and cut at a 45 degree angle*

Well that's all for today! Remember to wear green, and stay safe!
Your ever humble, lucky barman,
Aaron Lahey

*Napa Valley Distillery always recommends drinking responsibly.

Time Posted: Mar 17, 2015 at 3:25 PM Permalink to The Cordial Clover or The Limey Bastard? Permalink Comments for The Cordial Clover or The Limey Bastard? Comments (126)
Aaron Lahey
March 10, 2015 | Aaron Lahey

Temperance Tuesday: Spring Tonic

Hello all and welcome to this week's Temperance Tuesday! Today I will be highlighting another of our bittersweet cocktails, the Spring Tonic. This drink has been extremely well received in the shop. With bright, floral flavors and a touch of tropical pineapple gum, this is a drink that truly hearkens the coming of spring.

Spring Tonic
Makes one 16 oz drink
2.5 oz Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. Elderflower Tonic Syrup
1.5 oz Liber & Co. Pineapple Gum Syrup
2 dashes (12-16 drops) Fee Brothers Orange Flower Water
4 drops (NOT DASHES!!!) Scrappy's Lavender Bitters*

Fill pint glass with ice. Add tonic and gum syrup. Fill with soda water. Top with orange flower water and lavender bitters. Garnish with lavender sprig.

*Note: In this drink, be very conservative with the lavender bitters. Any more than four drops and the lavender takes over, causing you to lose the subtle interplay of the different floral components.

Want to take this Temperance Tonic in a post-Prohibition direction? Try adding 2 shots of our NVD Old Hollywood Ginn.

One of the main components in this cocktail is a tonic syrup. I want to take a moment to talk about quinine and different forms of tonic. Quinine, the main ingredient in tonic, is an alkaloid found naturally in the bark of the Cinchona tree. The Quechua, a tribe indigenous to Peru, originally steeped the bark in sweetened water to aid with muscle relaxation. Europeans incorporated quinine into their medical practices, using it to effectively treat malaria since the 17th century. Even today, quinine is used as a home remedy for muscle spasms and cramps. As time progressed, we have been able to extract quinine to higher levels of purity, and this pure quinine powder is what is now added to most commercial tonic water.

The most common form of tonic on the market today is tonic water. For my personal preferences, most tonic water is far too bitter, with an almost chemical aftertaste. This is due to the fact, as I mentioned earlier, pure quinine powder is being added to it, as opposed to an extraction of Cinchona bark. In my cocktails, I much prefer using tonic syrup.

Tonic syrup is actually quite a bit more similar to the original Peruvian preparation of tonic. Cinchona bark is steeped with flavorful herbs and spices, and sweetened with sugar or agave to balance out the sharp bite of quinine. Warm reddish brown in color, tonic syrup adds a rich complexity to any number of drinks, from tiki drinks to gin fizzes (not to mention adding new life to a stale gin & tonic).

Now a brief note about the other ingredients, Liber & Co. Pineapple Gum Syrup is an awesome ingredient. The pineapple note it lends is subtle, giving it much more versatility than one would originally think. Far from being confined to tropical rum and tiki drinks, I use this syrup just as often in a light gin cocktail or a dark whisky one. It has a brightness and balance to it often lacking in simple syrups. The addition of gum Arabic makes it even more versatile in vintage cocktails or egg white drinks.

Fee Brothers Orange Flower Water lends a light, sweet floral flavor, but must be used in moderation. This is another ingredient that can easily overwhelm a cocktail. Most well known as a key ingredient in the ubiquitous cocktail, The Ramos Gin Fizz.

Scrappy's Lavender Bitters are made with true herb maceration (the right way to make bitters) in Seattle, Washington. This is my personal favorite brand of lavender bitters on the market, as I think it gives the best, well rounded, lavender flavor. The closest to the fresh herb I should say. That being said, as I mentioned earlier, these bitters are very potent, and might need to be used in conjunction with another bitters in some cocktails as not to overwhelm with lavender. 

Well, that's all for this week folks. Until next time,
Your ever humble, bitter bartender,
Aaron Lahey

Time Posted: Mar 10, 2015 at 4:10 PM Permalink to Temperance Tuesday: Spring Tonic Permalink Comments for Temperance Tuesday: Spring Tonic Comments (3)
March 6, 2015 |

Friday Fun Time Listening

Friday Fun Time Listening

Tasting Room Manager Paul here. Our Resident Mixologist Aaron and I did a radio show with Steven Andrews and Sally James for Slow Living, a coast to coast broadcast! It was a ton of fun talking about what we do and all things spirited. Lots of great ideas and information to be had here. Give it a listen, preferably while drinking one of our Napa Valley Distillery liquid creativity boosters.

Click here to check out this Friday Fun Time Listening gem!

Time Posted: Mar 6, 2015 at 3:14 PM Permalink to Friday Fun Time Listening Permalink Comments for Friday Fun Time Listening Comments (23)
Aaron Lahey
March 5, 2015 | Aaron Lahey

Thirsty Thursday: The Dirty Margarita

Hello and welcome to another Thirsty Thursday! 

The cocktail we're going to make today uses salt both to bring out the flavors in the drink as well as add a textural and flavor component by using a salt rim. A complex, smoky play on a classic Margarita, this drink sure is worth its salt. 

The Dirty Margarita
2 oz Good Mezcal
0.75 oz Grand Marnier
1 oz C&B Quinine Syrup
1.5 oz Liber & Co Pineapple Gum Syrup
2 dashes (12-16 drops) Napa Valley Bitters Fleur de Sel
1 whole lemon, juiced
2 dashes (12-16 drops) Crude "Rizzo" Bitters

Rim a highball glass with salt, fill with ice. Add all ingredients but Rizzo Bitters and stir gently. Float bitters on top, garnish with lemon wheel or twist and serve.

Today we are going to be talking a bit about an ingredient used in everything we eat, but is often ignored when it comes to cocktails. This ingredient is salt. Sodium chloride is a flavor enhancer and modifier, as Harold McGee explains in his book On Food and Cooking: "It strengthens the impression of aromas that accompany it, and it suppresses the sensation of bitterness." When the right amount of salt is added to food or drink during preparation, all the other flavors become more pronounced, without any salty taste being perceived. When salt is added directly on top of food as a seasoning, the salty flavor becomes more apparent. 

The same methodology goes for adding salt to cocktails. When a moderate amount of salt is added into the drink during its preparation, the salt itself is not perceived, but the entire drink is more flavorful. Salt doesn't readily dissolve in alcohol, so there are several easy ways to add salt to cocktails. The first is a salt tincture. This is a high concentration suspension of salt in alcohol, and mixes readily into a cocktail. Napa Valley Bitters Fleur de Sel tincture is a good one. Another is to simply dissolve salt into a small amount warm water, and add the salt water to your drink. Keep in mind that adding water to any drink will dilute the flavor, so this salt/water method can be counteractive. 

The classic way to achieve a salty taste with a cocktail is to rim the glass; the Margarita being a prime example. Modernist methods might include using salt cured fruit, salt foams or flavor pearls filled with a salty solution to add that salty character to drinks. In my personal opinion every cocktail should have a little bit of salt in it, just like all food should have some salt.

Until next week!
Your ever humble, briny bartender,
Aaron Lahey

Time Posted: Mar 5, 2015 at 3:25 PM Permalink to Thirsty Thursday: The Dirty Margarita Permalink Comments for Thirsty Thursday: The Dirty Margarita Comments (122)
Aaron Lahey
March 3, 2015 | Aaron Lahey

Temperance Tuesday: Year of the Ram

Good afternoon and welcome to another Temperance Tuesday!

I've got a brand new drink to share with you today, in honor of the Chinese New Year! It is the year of the ram (or sheep or goat), which just so happens to be my sign in the Chinese Zodiac. This drink plays off of flavors traditionally seen in Chinese cooking. Ginger, star anise, and Chinese celery. Added to this is Mr. Lee's Ancient Chinese Secret Bitters, with notes of ginger, ginseng, and sichuan peppercorn. The result is a refreshing herbal tonic, with the complexity and character of a traditional Chinese apothecary. This drink also has a green, almost grassy quality; sure to please any rams you know.

3 oz Pok Pok Som Chinese Celery Drinking Vinegar
1 oz Morris Kitchen Ginger Syrup
1 dash (6-8 drops) Addition Star Anise Cocktail Spice
2 dashes (12-16 drops) Mr. Lee’s Ancient Chinese Secret Bitters
Soda water

Fill a pint glass with ice, and add the Chinese Celery Drinking Vinegar and Ginger Syrup. Fill with soda water. Top with Star Anise Cocktail Spice & Ancient Chinese Secret Bitters. Makes one 16 ounce drink.

Now a bit about the ingredients:
Pok Pok is a James Beard award winning Thai restaurant in Portland, OR, that has produced a line of what they call Pok Pok Som: drinking vinegar. Pok Pok Som is like a shrub, but with a much higher proportion of vinegar to sugar. Therefore, in a cocktail, it acts more as a souring agent and less as a sweetener. We carry four fairly exotic flavors of Pok Pok Som here in the bar shop: tamarind, turmeric, Thai basil, and Chinese celery.

Morris Kitchen produces high quality cocktail syrups out of Brooklyn, NY. Their ginger syrup is spicy and sweet, like liquefied fresh ginger.

Addition was founded in the hope of making savory, spicy, and traditionally culinary flavors accessible to the bartender. Based out of Seattle, Washington, their extensive line of tinctures ranges in flavor from jalapeno, to cumin, to rosemary. Unlike a bitters, these tinctures contain no bittering agent. So they provide nothing but the clean flavor of what's on the bottle. This also makes them very useful in cooking, as they truly are liquid spices.

Mr. Lee's Ancient Chinese Secret bitters are produced by Dashfire, a tiny craft bitters company out of St. Paul, Minnesota. Their founder, Lee Egbert, spent a year and a half living in China, and traveling extensively throughout Southeast Asia. These bitters are inspired by his experiences in the east, and the rich flavors seen in their culinary traditions.

Well that's all for this week! Until next time...
Your ever humble, sheepish mixologist,
Aaron Lahey

Time Posted: Mar 3, 2015 at 3:04 PM Permalink to Temperance Tuesday: Year of the Ram Permalink Comments for Temperance Tuesday: Year of the Ram Comments (5)
Aaron Lahey
February 19, 2015 | Aaron Lahey

A Big Cherry Twist on a Big Apple Classic

The Cherry Manhattan
2 oz Napa Valley Distillery Cherry Brandy
1 oz Carpano Antica
2 dashes (12 drops) maraschino liqueur
2 dashes (12 drops) Abbott's Bitters or other high quality aromatic bitters
1 Luxardo Cherry for garnish

Fill a cocktail shaker half way with ice. Add cherry brandy, Carpano Antica, maraschino liqueur, and one dash bitters. Stir, DO NOT SHAKE, for 20 seconds. Garnish cocktail glass with Luxardo cherry, and strain contents of shaker into glass. Float one more dash of bitters on top, and you're done! Classic Manhattan flavor with a big cherry twist!  Served up in a chilled cocktail glass, makes one 4 oz cocktail.

*Note: An easy way to remember the proportions of the classic Manhattan: Manhattan's area code. 2-1-2. 2 oz spirit to 1 oz vermouth to 2 dashes bitters.

The true origins of the most ubiquitous drink in America remains a topic of some contention. The popular story goes that The Manhattan cocktail was first served at The Manhattan Club, in New York, sometime around 1870. A Dr. Iain Marshall is said to have first crafted the cocktail in honor of Lady Randolph Churchill, Winston Churchill's mother, during a banquet hosted by Lady Churchill. The drink was so popular, guests of the banquet would later ask for the drink by the name of the club they were first served it: "Can I have one of those Manhattan Cocktails?"

The story is likely fiction, but nevertheless the Manhattan remains the classic American cocktail. Specifically calling for American Whiskey in Jerry Thomas's 1887 edition of his famous bar tending guide. His book was the first time a recipe for the Manhattan was printed, and by some, this is considered to be THE classic Manhattan. Thomas's recipe included two dashes of maraschino liqueur or curacao, which is often absent from modern Manhattans. His recipe also calls for a 1/4 wheel of lemon to garnish, as opposed to the now standard maraschino cherry.

The cocktail I am going to make tonight is not a classic Manhattan. However, this drink stays very true to the spirit of Jerry Thomas's original, encompassing the elegant finesse one expects from true pre-prohibition cocktails. However, Instead of any kind of whiskey (American or otherwise) I'm going to be using an American brandy. To be specific, cherry brandy, made from whole bing cherries. To be even more specific, Napa Valley Distillery's cherry brandy, aged in charred American oak for two and a half years.

Let me take a moment to talk about this very unique spirit. The oak really comes through strong on this one, making it very dry and peppery on the front palate. This moves into a nuttiness on the mid palate, like toasted almond. Only on the finish do you get the cherry, which builds and lingers on the palate. The oak really gives this spirit a rye whiskey character, despite its true brandy nature. An esoteric spirit that eludes definition, it will make a Manhattan like no other.

Signing off for this week,
Your ever humble, curious mixologist,
Aaron Lahey

*Napa Valley Distillery always recommends drinking responsibly.

Time Posted: Feb 19, 2015 at 4:58 PM Permalink to A Big Cherry Twist on a Big Apple Classic Permalink Comments for A Big Cherry Twist on a Big Apple Classic Comments (5)