Recent Entries in Mixology

Savoy Guide A-Z: Bombay Cocktail (No. 2) - Uploaded by Zuckervati.

- 1 dash Absinthe
- 2 dashes Curaçao
- 1/4 French Vermouth
- 1/4 Italian Vermouth
- 1/2 Brandy

Shake and strain into cocktail glass.

Savoy Guide A-Z: Absinthe Cocktail (special) - Uploaded by Zuckervati.

- 2/3 absinthe
- 1/6 gin
- 1/6 simple syrup (or gomme syrup)
- 1 dash orange bitters
- 1 dash Angostura bitters

Shake and strain into a cocktail glass.

  On making gin

I got on a bit of a craft liquor kick a while back, and recently started making wine, syrups, shrubs, and other bartending-related treats. The latest was to make gin (and allspice dram, but that's still aging; check back near the middle of July).


There are many many recipes online for making home gin, most of them are of the infusion of botanicals into vodka variety. Some would say that this isn't making gin, but simply infusing botanicals into vodka. They would be partially correct, I suppose. Gin is essentially a neutral grain spirit infused with botanicals (specifically juniper berries), either before or after, or during the distillation process. In any case I had to do a re-distilling in order to get anything even remotely tasty the first time around.

So, here's what I did.

  • 350 ml 50-57% neutral grain spirit alcohol (I only had Stolichnaya)
  • 3 Tbsp crushed juniper (purple)
  • 1 tsp crushed coriander
  • 1/4 tsp dried, chopped licorice root
  • 1 tsp lemon peel (fresh zest)
  • 1/2 tsp orange peel (fresh zest)

The list of added botanicals is large, and can include orris root, bitter almond, angelica root, rosemary, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, and others. I didn't have any of these others, so I made due with the above list. The process in the online recipe was terse, but simple:

Soak juniper for 24 hours, rest of botanicals for 9 hours. Fine strain.

The resulting concoction was brown, cloudy, and horrible tasting. Probably, the recipe omitted an important step:

Add vodka to fill 750ml.

I took half of the foul tincture (about 200ml) and topped up a 375ml wine bottle with straight vodka, and the result was a clear, cleaner, transparent gold liquid. It still didn't taste like gin, but it tasted a bit better. My guess was that if we filled a 750ml bottle, it would have turned out ok.

Instead, since I didn't have that much vodka left, I ran it through an internal alembic still:


... yep, an asparagus cooker, the lid reversed, and filled with ice, with a measuring cup set inside to collect the spirit. Hint: keep changing the ice, and keep the burner set on low. Amazingly, this method of purification was quite effective, giving me 200ml of fine, clear, 50% alcohol distillate. A little math suggested I could add 50ml of filtered water to bring it down to drinking strength. This tasted exactly like gin.

For those interested in trying to make gin at home without going crazy and burning the place down, Jeffrey Morgenthaler has an interesting article about infusing gin here.

For those who like fire and explosions, try this reference. Both have some interesting recipes.

  Homemade Syrups

Homemade Syrups - Uploaded by Zuckervati.

For cocktails. The homemade stuff always seems to taste better, unless you mess it up, as I have.

Luckily, the latest batches are delicious.

  Falernum #4

I went on a syrup-making kick earlier this summer, and had a bit of a spoilage problem. My last falernum got clumpy, my vanilla syrup got attacked by ants (of all things), my 2:1 syrup crystallized, and my homemade grenadine got moldy. Undaunted, I vowed to try, try again until I perfected my recipes.


So, the trick this time was to make a good falernum which would be stable at room temperature or slightly cooler (the bar is in a basement). I made four notable changes to the recipe:

1. Made a smaller batch. Falernum's pretty easy to make, so a smaller batch means less chance of spoilage
2. Left out the lime juice from previous recipes. Some forum discussions suggested that adding the lime juice in previous batches were the cause of some of the cloudiness and spoilage. So I left it out, just to see if it affected the taste.
3. Used invert sugar. It has a longer shelf life, tastes sweeter, and shouldn't crystallize. That's where the lemon juice comes from in the recipe. The simple syrup is 1 cup water, 1 cup sugar, and 1/2 tbsp lemon juice. Boil the syrup for 10-15 min, making sure to keep stirring, lest it burn and darken the syrup considerably.
4. Added a pinch of sodium metabisulphite. It's used as a disinfectant, antioxidant and preservative agent in wine and other fruit-based products. It only takes a 1/4 tsp to sulphite a gallon of wine to 60 ppm. A tiny pinch should do, without imparting a sulphur taste to the falernum.

Here's the recipe:

250ml Wray & Nephew overproof rum
Zest of 2 limes
Zest of 1 lemon
30 whole cloves
1 tbsp chopped ginger, skin on
1/4 tsp orange flower water
1/4 tsp almond extract
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1:1 simple syrup to fill 375ml bottle
1/2 tbsp lemon juice
pinch of sodium metabisulphite

Add rum, zests, cloves, and ginger to a 12oz wide-mouth bottle or jar and let soak for 24 hours. Strain through a jelly strainer (these are perfect for all syrup/vinegar/liqueur recipes) with a drip coffee filter nested inside. Do this three times. Add extracts and orange flower water to the liquor, and funnel into a 375ml wine bottle. Add pinch of sulphite, and fill with the invert sugar syrup.

The falernum came out quite tasty, though I would leave out the orange flower water next time. I figured it might add some complexity that was lost with the smaller quantity of lime zest. I didn't notice the sulphite, and I served falernum sodas at a party on Saturday, with compliments.

So, not a bad recipe. I would add allspice back into the next recipe (I used mine all up making allspice dram), and would try to scale it back up to a 750ml bottle, since this batch will be gone by the end of the week.

  Hey, it's a tiki bar!

Hey, it's a tiki bar! - Uploaded by Zuckervati.

In Cambridge, Ontario. The Golden Kiwi Pub and Grill. Unfortunately, most of the drinks are standard pub drinks. No classic tiki drinks to be found.

Good news, everyone. Now, if only they could open one a little closer to me ... say in Toronto.

Still, this will give me reasons to go down there, now that ISPCON is defunct, and my brother appears to be moving to Australia with his family.

Hopefully, having a new tiki bar in SF will forgive the (potential) closure of the Tonga Room, and the bad experience of finding a urine-soaked alcove where the defunct Trader Vic's used to be (I can't believe people are still writing reviews for the closed location).


This fall, San Francisco will become home to Smuggler's Cove, a new bar designed to celebrate the incredible diversity and versatility of the world's most exciting spirit: Rum. Smuggler's Cove offers a whole new approach to rum by featuring a vast array of traditional Caribbean drinks, classic libations of Prohibition-Era Havana, and famous exotic cocktails from legendary tiki bars- all under one roof. In addition, Smuggler's Cove will offer an unparalleled selection of rare and premium rums from around the world carefully selected for enjoying on their own or skillfully blended into cocktails. For over a decade, owner and creator Martin Cate has been passionate about rum & tropical cocktails. He was the co-creator, designer and chief mixologist for Forbidden Island Tiki Lounge in Alameda, CA. He has judged in international rum competitions, met with over a dozen rum distillers in five countries, and lectured at Bourbon and Branch's Beverage Academy, Tales of the Cocktail, and Tiki Oasis.

Rum Bar Opening This Fall In San Francisco

  New Pisco Bottles

New Pisco Bottles - Uploaded by Zuckervati.

Traveling vicariously through others, I've received bottles of Peruvian and Chilean pisco.

The shorter one is Inca Pisco, and the Easter Island figure contains Capel Pisco Reservado.

  Cabaret cocktail

Cabaret cocktail - Uploaded by Zuckervati.

Having a few drinks with Clevermonkey tonight. Found this little gem in the Mr. Boston bar guide.

-1/4 oz Benedictine
-1 1/2 oz gin
-2 dashes bitters
-1/2 tsp dry vermouth

Shake with ice and strain into cocktail glasses. Garnish with maraschino cherry.

  Making mead

Making mead - Uploaded by Zuckervati.

This marks the first attempt at making mead in a number of years. I used to do a lot of hobby winemaking, but sort of fell out of it.

This new mead should have hints of cranberry and rose when it's ready. Right now it still tastes a bit young, an it should be aged for another 6 months.

  Jet Pilot

Jet Pilot - Uploaded by Zuckervati.

- 1/2oz lime juice
- 1/2oz grapefruit juice
- 1/2oz cinnamon syrup
- 1/2oz falernum
- 1oz Havana Club 7 year rum
- 3/4oz gold rum
- 3/4oz Wray & Nephew overproof rum
- 1 dash Angostura bitters
- 3-6 drops Absinthe or Versinthe
- 4oz crushed ice

Put ingredients in blender. Blend 10 seconds. Pour into collins or tiki glass and garnish with a maraschino cherry (and a cute twist of lemon).

  Time for a drink

Time for a drink - Uploaded by Zuckervati.

Trying tapas tonight. But first, a martini.

  Falernum #3

I had a few hours over the weekend to kill, and was working on a batch of mead (I suppose I can talk about that project at some point ...). While I was in the creative mood, I decided to press on with the third batch of falernum, since the old stuff was almost gone. I had all the ingredients except sugar, so a quick run to the store cleared that problem up.


So, here's Falernum #3 for anyone who's interested:

  • zest of 5 limes
  • 1/2 cup diced ginger with skin removed
  • 5 tsp coarsely ground allspice
  • 6 oz Wray & Nephew overproof rum
  • 1/2 tsp ground decorticated cardamom

Add ingredients to a 12oz wide-mouth bottle or jar and let soak for 24 h. After this is done, strain the liquor and add:

  • 5 oz lime juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp almond extract

Strain through coffee filters so that resulting mixture is free of larger solids, pulp, etc. Then mix with 2:1 simple syrup to fill a 750 ml bottle.

The resulting mix is more yellow than green, and is also a little cloudy, but it shouldn't separate for quite a while, if you've filtered it enough (i.e. twice through coffee/tea filters). The falernum we got in Barbados (I think it was Hanschell's Old-Time Recipe falernum) was clear, and had a faint greenish tinge to it. It also didn't have much body, smelled faintly like limes, and acted pretty much like a thin sugar syrup.

Falernum #3 appears to be another winner, and the ground cardamom adds a little more something than the black cardamom seeds from the previous recipe.

As for alcohol content, a rough calculation (hope my math is ok):

63% of 6 oz = 3.78 oz alcohol

3.78 / 26 (a 26 oz/750 ml bottle) X 100 = 14.5%

So, we're looking at a fairly strong syrup with around 14.5% alcohol. Too sweet to drink straight, but makes a nice falernum soda, or a Corn 'N Oil.

  Falernum follow-up

Just about time to make a new batch of falernum, since the latest batch, while almost gone, has started to separate. Not bad, considering it's been stored out in the open, on the bar top. The high sugar content (simple syrup 2:1) and overproof rum have allowed it to keep fairly well without refrigeration.

Another good recipe and writeup on falernum is at this newly-discovered (and possibly defunct) blog, Bunnyhugs. They've got a great amount of bartending information and drink history, so it's a good find. They've got a great bit on gum syrup, which I'm going to try next.

Bunnyhugs - Blog Archive - Falernum

Here's their attempt at making falernum:

Take 4 oz overproof white rum (Sangsterâ..s Conquering Lion, 64%) and infuse it for three days with the following: 20 cloves, 2 tablespoons chopped almonds (approx 25 gms) lightly toasted in a frying pan. Add the zest of 4-5 limes (depending on size) and 3/4 oz fresh ginger and infuse for a further day. Adding the limes and ginger only on the last day of the infusion stops the mixture from turning slimy and avoids over-extraction of these flavors.

Strain the above mixture through a moistened cheesecloth, extracting all liquid. Mix the rum infusion with 7 oz simple syrup (2:1 sugar to water ratio), 2 1/2 oz fresh lime juice (strained), 1/8 tsp high quality almond extract, 1/8 tsp high quality vanilla extract. Bottle and use.

Stay tuned for falernum #3 and gum syrup. Also, I'm planning on creating some infused spirits, just to see what happens.

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