Cafe con Leche Flip

wpid-wp-1421662228526.jpegThe original version of this drink comes via a news story in the New York Times about the health department cracking down on raw eggs used in cocktails.  This specific recipe was inspired by the one served at Pegu Club in New York.

Good dark rums are heavy on the ground so picking one is pretty easy.  If you have one you like use that instead but I used a new Cruzan Blackstrap as I have been looking for a good dark rum for some time and wanted to try it out.

Similarly in Portland coffee liqueurs are a dime a dozen.  You can’t throw a hipster belt buckle without hitting a distillery that makes a coffee liqueur.  A lot of it comes down to base spirit and the roaster they’re using but anything from the Below deck Coffee Rum to the House Spirits liqueur will work, use what makes you feel good.

Medium cream (30% fat) might be a little hard to find.  I hit three or four stores looking but didn’t see any.  I eventually subbed in normal whipping cream (25% fat) as it was a little lower fat than medium but significantly less than heavy cream (45%+)



1 oz Dark Rum
1.5 oz  coffee liqueur
1 oz simple syrup
2 oz medium cream
1 Egg yolk
Fresh grated nutmeg

This one is going to take some doing.  First put your simple syrup and egg yolks in a dry shaker.  Using a whisk or frother you’ll want to whip them really well.  Next add the cream and ice and give them a good shake to combine.  Add your alcohol and give it a final shake with ice, strain into double old fashioned or flute and grate nutmeg over the top.

I used a cheap frother I picked up at the kitchen gadget outlet store and it worked great.  I wanted to replace the ice in this for the second shake but after looking at the results I thought it was more work for not much difference in result.

The flavor on this is delightful, the egg yolk gives the entire drink a solid mouthfeel.  The coffee flavor is primary but the dark rum lets the cream and sweet flow into more subtle hints of molasses.  It’s almost like a whipped dessert and slides gently around the tongue.  The dark rum and coffee flavors favor each other well and give a nice spiciness without a heavy or syrupy taste.

Drinking Basics: Core Drinks

It was not that long ago that I was like many casual drinkers out there.  There was no complexity in my attempts to get smashed as quickly as possible and I was guilty of drinking some things that these days make me cringe.

An argument I’ve had with a friend of mine is what constitutes a cocktail.  The original definition read something along the lines of “spirits of any kind, sugar, water and bitters.”

Specific enough for my tastes but that defines the classic cocktail, back when people knew a sling from a gimlet.  Today the waters have been muddied to the point that the dictionary says “an iced drink of wine or distilled liquor mixed with flavoring ingredients.”  About the only thing that definition excludes is beer and cider.  Anything else could reasonably rolled into the realm of “flavoring ingredients.”

I’ve stated my position is that anything that uses a soda as the primary carrier in the drink isn’t really a cocktail.  The point of refutation in that argument is the Cuba Libre which does all kinds of things to the cocktail world.

So I’ve performed a strategic retreat and I present to you here the most basic “cocktail” in common consumption for each of the most common forms of hard liquor.


For this most plain of liquors we have two options.
1. The Screwdriver – 1 part Vodka and 2 parts Orange juice.
2. Vodka Cranberry – 1 part Vodka to 2 Parts Cranberry Juice

Vodka is a neutral spirit, when done well it should present no burn either forward or afterwards.  In either of these drinks the dry and sour components in the citric acid are there to try to smooth out a cheaper vodka.  The cheaper the vodka the more juice you add.


The floral bouquet of gin is one of the most complex scents in the liquor world.  A gin basket can contain dozens of ingredients each distinctly detectable in a well made liquor.
1. The Martini – 1.5 oz Gin to 0.5 oz Dry Vermouth
2. Gin and Tonic – the most basic of all, Gin and a quinine containing tonic water mixed in ratios of about 2:3


There are a lot of different kinds of rum.  Too many to recount in this piece I’m afraid but we include here the current swing in rum drinks.
1. Rum and Coke – just like it sounds 1.5 oz rum to an 8 oz can of cola.
2. Scurvy Pirate – 1.5 oz Rum, Ginger Ale


As complex a spirit as tequila is, it seldom mixes well with a lot of the more classic ideas of cocktails and tends to shun bitters and floral arrangements in favor of fruit and citrus.
1. Tequila Slammer – 1.5 oz Tequila, 7-up, Squirt or Mt. Dew.  This one is tricky as the drink is served with some room left in the glass.  You hold your hand over the top of the glass and slam it quickly on the bar to release the carbonation then drink it quickly before it foams over the top of the glass.

Tune in next time with drinking basics as we show you the evolution of tastes from the very basic to the complex as we upgrade the screwdriver.


Blood Opal

blood opal

An Opal Cocktail is a fairly basic drink

1.5 oz Gin
0.5 oz Triple Sec
1 oz Orange Juice
2 dashes orange bitters

A bit more complex than a screwdriver and with a nice sipping quality for earlier in the day.

My own variation comes out of a desire to play with the new Dry Sodas I found at the grocery store.

The opening portion of this is the same we simply replace the orange juice with one of their Dry Blood Orange sodas and garnish with a lemon wheel.

I liked the opening smells on this.  The orange from the cointreau and the drink are both there and the lemon gives a bit more sweetness.

I think on reflection I used too much soda.  The dry sodas are only lightly sweet being much more in the realm of a flavored sparkling water than a soda.  The lack means that they soak pretty much every other flavor out much like club soda would.  I filled the glass there but I think 2-3 oz would be more than enough to get this where you want it.

I reworked it again to try some other things.  I started by muddling the lemon in the glass with the bitters, then shake the cointreau which I upped to a full ounce with the gin and add to the glass, add soda and then stir a bit.

Much better with more lemon in it but the soda is still a flatline compared to something like campari.

Amaretto Sour


There are numerous examples of things which have been classified as “chick-drinks”.  The moniker has probably been around as long as drinking itself when it was felt that women couldn’t handle the kind of hard drinking that men preferred.  This is nonsense of course, but that didn’t stop the Victorians on down from relegating women to things like wine-spritzers instead of the really hard stuff.

I do have friends who prefer drinks where the flavors of alcohol are muted or absent.  Picking drinks where there is little to no hard alcohol, or replacing it with liqueurs is one sure way to ensure that they’re not put off by a concoction.

Perhaps the king of those type of drinks is the Amaretto Sour.  Where many casual drinkers run for the soda fountain to mask their libations, I personally started out with these.   At 24% ABV amaretto isn’t exactly topping the charts and cut in half with sour mix you’re topping a heavy wine or a hefty microbrew for punch.

Amaretto Sour:

1.5 oz Amaretto
2 oz Sour Mix
Add ice, Stir, Garnish with Maraschino Cherry.



Now a couple of things to note here.  If something calls for sour mix in the future I will be making my own.  I’ll try to make that clear, as I have seen other bloggers and YouTube people who don’t mention that they make their own and it occasionally puts people off of a drink.

Next, I’m not using the maraschino cherries I made awhile back.  They’re not done yet, so they stay in the jar and I get to use up the last of the processed ones that were hanging around the fridge.

The quality of amaretto is everything there.  The stuff I’m using, as you can see above, is a local product.  That doesn’t make it good.  It’s cheap, and sweet, and that’s about all one can say in favor of it.  I often find with this brand that I have to water my drinks just to get something that isn’t cloying.  Be picky about your amaretto.  While to most people it tastes like cherry, most amaretto is made from almond extracts.

What a lot of people don’t know is that apricot pits carry some of the same flavors, as do a number of other stone fruits.  Disaronno in particular is entirely made from apricot pits.  Some of the cheaper brands may even go so far as to use Benzaldehyde the chemical in natural flavoring that gives things like Cherry Coke their flavor.

So when you are looking at amaretto don’t assume that since you’re likely going to mix it, that flavor doesn’t matter.

As a mixer it has a lot of flexibility and is a frequent substitute for Orgeat syrups in tiki drinks.

Make Your Own: Sweet and Sour Mix


Part two in my lovely series of how to replace the horrible mixers that you buy at the store.  This one is a big one, sour mix is probably one of the The go to party mixes of anything out there.  It’s a component in the amaretto sour, the whiskey sour, dozens of tiki drinks and even cheaper end margarita mixes.  Holding some of the most baseline flavors in the cocktail world this is something that you should have on hand for any party and making even a big batch is pretty easy.

A lot of the difficulty in this recipe comes from the fact that there are few ingredients.  This may seem counter-intuitive but if you think about it, the fewer things you put into it, the greater weight each has in the outcome.

Much like my adventures in making limeade taste is everything.

Sour Mix:
2 oz Lime Juice
2 oz Lemon Juice
2.5 oz Simple Syrup
Mix all ingredients in a squeeze bottle, shake well, refrigerate.
Like the simple syrup itself this will keep for about 2-3 weeks unless you add vodka to it.

This is my version, and I will stress from the get go that it is not the perfect ratio to please every taste.  This happens to be a very simple outgrowth of the ingredients at their basest.







Using fresh limes and lemons is essential.  If you let them sit too long the pith starts to make the juice bitter and all kinds of things can happen to the outcome.  Your average sized store lime/lemon will press for ~2 ounces of juice.  Larger or smaller than normal you can kinda guess but if you’re shooting on drinking for two people, the juice of one of each will suffice for this project.

The 2.5 ounces of simple syrup come from my previous MYO posting where I used 1/3 of a cup of sugar to get the syrup.  This turns out to be perfectly balanced based on the amount of juice you get from one each of the fruit.

The result is a somewhat neutrally acid, sweet mixture that works well in most cocktails.

To get the right kind of taste for your palate, I would recommend the above amounts of base ingredients. Instead of mixing them all together in a squeeze bottle as I’ve done, put varying amounts into a shot glass to taste.  Half ounce increments in either direction will let you give the mixture a bit of play until you find the spot that tickles your tongue.  I would start by scaling back on the simple syrup and see how you like it at an even 2 parts each then raise or lower the lime and lemon until it’s right.

Make Your Own: Simple Syrup

The cocktail is not the simplest form of alcoholic beverage.  Above it on the rung of simplicity are the On the Rocks, and the Neat to say the least.  The definition of cocktail has been bandied about in my household almost as long as I’ve been doing this.  Mostly because in my aspirations to cocktail snobbery I have denigrated the practice of adding sodas or colas to drinks as a method of claiming cocktail status.  I’ll go into it in a lot more detail some other time but the basic idea that Rum + cola is not a cocktail but with the addition of lime juice it suddenly transmutes into the acceptable Cuba Libre has been the subject of more than one late night debate.

The cocktail itself blossoms in complexity above the line of simple mixed drink and now encompasses everything from the punch to the crusta to the fizz.  Getting into those hallowed categories would take most of a night so I bring myself to the point.  No matter how simple the cocktail you attempt to make there will inevitably be a need for some form of mixer.  That mixer, be it sour mix, pina colada or margarita will contain some form of sweetener.  If you’re buying it off a shelf then 9 times out of ten that sweetener is going to be some form of corn syrup.  The new trend in skinny cocktail mixers means that more and more you’re going to see the addition of artificial sweeteners like aspartame and Phenylalanine.

All of that can be avoided.  Making your own mixers could not possibly be simpler and for the drinker who insists on quality fresh ingredients the results could not be more excellent.

As the first of my series of attempts to put bottled mixers back on the shelf I give you the Mother Sauce of them all.  Simple syrup is the magical application of sugar and water.

The recipe for this magic elixir is even easier.  1 part sugar to 1 part water.

For my test batch tonight I went with the remains of a box of bakers sugar which amounted to just over a third of a cup.  I measured out a third of a cup of water and laid out my project.


In a small saucepan you bring the water to a boil, add the sugar and stir constantly until the sugar dissolves.


At this point you are faced with an interesting choice.  The syrup is going to remain liquid at this point even if you remove a good portion of the water.  The longer you leave it on the boil the more of the water you remove.  At some point the mixture of water and sugar is going to crystalize and seize up but you have some flexibility in how long you keep it going.  The longer you wait, the thicker the syrup becomes.  Personally I like mine a bit runny since it’s going to dry out as it ages and this will give it a bit more shelf life but play with your time until you get something that works for your taste.

We’re not making caramels here so don’t worry about it too much, just keep stirring until you’re ready to pull it off the heat.  Once you do, allow the syrup to cool for a bit before you use it or bottle it.


For my own uses I have these lovely squeeze bottles which I can cap or seal as needed and they work wonders for serving small portions.  Our third cup is slightly reduced here but will serve for a few cocktails over the next few days.  The yield from this batch was about 2.25 – 2.5 oz of syrup depending on how long you left it on the stove.  That’s  usually enough for 1-2 drinks so 1/3 of a cup of sugar looks like a good single serving batch.

Now since this is really just sugar in a liquid it will go bad at some point if you just leave it sitting around.  Refrigeration can postpone that giving you up to three weeks, but the addition of a couple of ounces of vodka to the bottle will keep most things from growing in there long enough for you to run out the bottle.

The beauty of this is that it takes almost no time at all to make.  I had this much done in the time it took me to snap the photos and I could easily have done 3-6 times as much in the same span.

If you do add vodka just remember that you did so before you start making mocktails for the kids.

Once you have your syrup here is a fairly simple thing you can do with it.

Basic Soda:

1-4 Cherries
2 oz Simple Syrup
8 oz Club Soda

Pitt and quarter the cherries, add them to the bottom of a collins glass.  Add Syrup and muddle in the bottom of the glass.  Add club soda to fill glass.  You’ve just made the best possible italian soda without having to buy a $12 bottle of torani cherry syrup.

Seasonal fruit is best, and as with any italian soda you can add a splash of heavy cream if you like it that way.

Special thanks to Jess Hartley for asking me to start doing this feature, expect many more as I explore the various mixers and syrups.

Tools: Working Glass

working glass

Glassware is an important factor in any cocktail.  It can make or break the drink you’re attempting simply for lack of space.

Consider the double old fashioned.  One of the reasons the glass style has that name is the drink the Old Fashioned which calls for a very minor amount of liquid but does ask that the bartender muddle the sugar and orange peel in the bottom of the glass.  That means you don’t need a tall glass but you do need a wide mouth and a solid base so that when you apply the muddler to the glass it doesn’t break in your hand and or miss some part of the bottom and leave the orange peel uncrushed.

To that end my current favorite drinking glass is the Luminarc Working Glass.  I picked up my first set of these while still working at Meyer and Frank many many years ago.  They were going out of stock and we had one box left.  I hid that box in the back room until the next sale day and with clearance and a coupon I picked up an 8 glass set for about 5 dollars.

They are a heavy glass with faceted body and rolled lip.  You will be tempted to stack the Old Fashioneds, resist.  They chip like the dickens and you will find that you’re down to highballs in a matter of months.  One of the nicer things about this glass is that the insides are straight, the bottoms are flat and they hold a lot of liquid.  The highball is a 21 oz which is more than enough for even a garbage pail of a cocktail like the AMF.

Additionally they sell a plastic lid which fits snugly over the top of either size.  Crate and Barrel only shows the white but I picked up one in red not too long ago.  I’ve also seen this same style at places like Kitchen Kaboodle.  What that lid does here is turn our glass into a shaker.

For those one glass cocktails that you don’t want to dig out the entire kit for, this is perfect.  The big glass means plenty of room for ice, and lots of air for the shake.  Not needing to pour means you don’t need a strainer or to crack the seal on your boston shaker.  My boston shaker is 24 oz compared to the glass’ 21.  Not a comparable loss here.

I’ve made a number of things in this and not been disappointed.   It doesn’t travel well.  It’s shorter than my boston all told but it’s wider at the base and the heavy glass isn’t indestructible.  A good all metal boston will be lighter and more durable for something like camping.   Additionally this doesn’t have any flash.  It’s a nice way to get yourself a kamikaze or a Negroni at 2am without having to wash anything but if you want to show off at a party or a convention it’s not the way to do that.

Now that I have a couple of sources for this type of glass I keep myself well in stock of them.  They hold up to drops and bumps a bit better than the standard pint glasses and they’re not much more expensive which means I wind up replacing them less often and saving money.

White Whale: Kina Lillet

I devote this category of posts to a long list of drinks that are very hard to come by unless you really hunt for them.  Some of these are going to be one-off bottles that you can only get at a specific time of year.  Others might simply be too unusual for common taste and so aren’t stocked by the run of the mill liquor establishment.  In many cases the internet can come to the rescue in buying a bottle of a particularly elusive product but the markup for shipping delicate glass bottles makes it expensive for all but the rarest of the rare.

lillet blanc

Enter the Cocktail Snob’s favorite topic of conversation-  Kina Lillet.  Made famous in 1953 by James Bond and Ian Fleming and part of a lost cocktail called the Vesper Martini or simply the Vesper.  Kina Lillet is a quinquina, to the layman a liqueur made with quinine, the flavor common in tonic water.  So much like the gin and tonic, Lillet would pair well with the botanical flavors in Gin.  Unlike simple tonic water Kina Lillet uses a base of white wine and is then blended with herbs and fruit and finally aged in oak casks.

The difficulty comes in that Kina Lillet refers to the product as it was bottled between 1872 and 1987.  In ’87 following a series of upgrades and modernizations to their equipment, Lillet rebranded and started a big marketing push and Kina Lillet became Lillet Blanc.  There is also a Lillet Rouge and a Lillet Rose.  There is some evidence to suggest that the company also changed their formulation at this time making a sweeter drink with less of the quinine bitterness.  Other research suggests that it was perhaps Lillet Vermouth and not Kina Lillet which was the drink of choice for making cocktails in post war england but as with many things in cocktail history the truth may never be known.

For their part the Lillet company line is that the actual recipe for Lillet Blanc is the same as that for Kina Lillet but history seems to disagree with them as it has been noted in some of their own advertisements from the time that the flavor was different.

Savoy Stomp: a blog I’ve recently started following has some notes on the quest for Kina going deeply into the history

For my part I finally found a bottle of Lillet Blanc.  It tends to fly under the radar a bit because it is a wine and not a hard liquor.  Thus it doesn’t make an appearance in the oregon liquor search.  Liquor stores don’t usually carry it, and most of your wine shops haven’t heard of it.  Oddly enough I finally found my bottle at the well tended wine section of my local grocery store.  An unusual find to be sure but at least I can be assured to finding it when I want it without resorting to the internet.

Tastings to follow on this one as I plan to use it in crafting a drink for a local distillery contest and will be playing around with both it and aviation gin.


Mudder’s Milk: Part the First

180px-Jaynes_hatA little background about the series of posts I’m going to be doing on this topic.  While this is a drink creation it isn’t the kind of thing one might normally find in a bar or even in a restaurant I’m hoping it will eventually be something unique and tasty.

For starters those who don’t know what Mudder’s Milk references need to go out and buy a copy of the firefly box set.  The show is 10 years old, only had half a season and it still blows the doors off of most stuff on TV today.

The crew lands on a moon where the primary export is mud used to make ceramics and most of the inhabitants are indentured servants, basically slaves.  The bar in the worker village serves a (presumably) disgusting “beer” called Mudder’s Milk.  As Jayne describes it “All the protein, vitamins and carbs of your grandma’s best turkey dinner, plus fifteen percent alcohol.”

They go on to describe it as liquid bread used to keep the workers healthy and knock them out to prevent revolt.

I had the good fortune to meet a woman who spent time with one of the local pirate groups.  There are apparently several, and similar to the SCA they do a bit of period recreation and more than a bit of camping, hanging out and drinking.  She served as both ships cook and alchemist, meaning that she made up the menus and bought all of the alcohol for their little crew.  We traded ideas back and forth about mixed drinks, alcohol quality, camping equipment and ease of transport.  After a few drinks and quite a bit of conversation the question became if anyone had developed a drinkable version of Mudder’s Milk or if someone had made a cocktail of the same name.

Casual research didn’t turn up much:
Item 1 was an attempt to do justice to the quote mechanically, but a combination of cider, Guinness, milk, rye and vodka not to mention the whey powder and multi-vitamins was beyond gross sounding.

Item 2 Similar idea but easier execution.  Still, soy milk and brewers yeast are not in my list of best drink ingredients.  Nor is the combination of soy and grain alcohol really much of a crowd pleaser.

Item 3 Actually comes from a reference to the same drink as an item in World of Warcarft.  I was more pleased with the results here but it’s really just a white Russian with milk and bailey’s.   Nothing original here.

Item 4 Is actually a site for home brewers giving options for making your own beer.  I’m not much of a beer drinker, or any kind of brewer so I can’t say much about these except that the highest one caps out just above 10% ABV which isn’t anything like the 15% claimed in the show.

So lacking anything unique, tasty, complete or appropriate it behooved me as a budding bartender to correct this mistake and make something both good to drink and in keeping with as much of the quote as I felt necessary.

Evening Mocktail

As a first post I offer the following recipe which has been dubbed “refreshing”.  It contains only minor amounts of alcohol.

3oz Orange Juice
1oz Lemon Juice
Quarter Lime Wedge
1/2oz Grenadine
3oz Tonic Water
Dash of Orange Bitters

In an iced shaker combine Orange juice, lemon juice, squeeze lime wedge and 2-3 dashes orange bitters.  Rim collins glass with lime wedge, sugar part of the rim, attach lime wedge.  Strain shaker into glass, float grenadine, add tonic.

No name for this yet, I was shooting for Shandy-Beeches but I don’t think it’s there yet.  Maybe if I used sugar in the raw for larger grains.

For a full on cocktail I added about 2oz of Limoncello Crema from Ventura Limoncello Company.

A refreshing non-alcoholic treat
A refreshing non-alcoholic treat
A short glass of creamy refreshing awesome
A short glass of creamy refreshing awesome