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Arrack? No Phobia!

© photo by Jake Brown

© photo by Jake Brown

One of the greatest things about the modern cocktail scene is, ironically, that it allows us it taste the past. Arrack may sound like some old fashioned torture device, but it's actually a 17th century predecessor to rum that originated in Southeast Asia and is made from sugarcane and rice. It's one of those liquors that disappeared for a few centuries in lieu of other more popular spirits, but has made a comeback thanks to cocktail geeks like us (mostly Dave Wondrich, but we like to think we helped). Its funky, vegetal, spiced flavor makes it a great addition to tiki or rum-based drinks and it can even be swapped in as a base for a unique, more complex spin on the classics. Don't fear the past! Try it in our simple swizzle recipe below; it's the best history homework there is. 

Arrack? No Phobia! (makes 1 drink)

  • 1 1/2 oz Batavia Arrack
  • 1/2 oz Stiggins Fancy Plantation Pineapple Rum
  • 3/4 oz lime juice
  • 3/4 oz falernum

In a collins or highball glass add all of your ingredients and fill it about two-thirds full with crushed ice.

Insert a swizzle stick (like in the photo above; get one here) or a barspoon and spin it between your palms to mix the ingredients. Do this until a frost starts to develop in the glass.

Top it off with more crushed ice and garnish with a pineapple wedge and a couple of pineapple leaves. Serve with a straw.

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Viking Vacation

© photo by Jake Brown

© photo by Jake Brown

Even vikings need to take a break from all of that pillaging sometimes. What better way to relax than a quick and easy canned cocktail. This three ingredient fix uses sweet and spiced Swedish punsch, banana liqueur, and pineapple hard cider to create a funky, refreshing drink to take your mind off of whatever battle you're coming from or headed to. So drop that battle ax (or dish towel, or rake) and take a little vacation in a can.

Viking Vacation (makes 1 drink)

  • 1 1/2 oz Swedish punsch (we used Kronan)
  • 3/4 oz banana liqueur (we used Bols, but Giffard makes a great one too)
  • 10 oz Austin Eastciders Pineapple Cider (in the can)

Pop open the can of cider and pour out—oh, who are we kidding, drink—2 ounces. Pour in the punsch and liqueur.

With a straw or the end of a barspoon stir the mixture gently within the can.

Garnish like a tiki drink (however you want and with enough flair to make it a vacation-y) and serve with a straw.

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Bjorn to Run

© photo by Jake Brown

© photo by Jake Brown

We were staring longingly at our bottle of barrel aged aquavit wondering how we could use it to make more drinks this summer. Keeping it simple at the start, we made this refreshing herbaceous take on a julep. Fresh cucumbers and dill perfectly complement the anise and carroway flavors of the spirit, making this a perfect sunny weather sipper.

Bjorn to Run (makes 1 drink)

  • 1 1/2 oz Linie Aquavit
  • 3/4 oz dill syrup (recipe below)
  • 3 cucumber slices

In a heavy bottomed old fashioned glass or julep cup muddle the cucumber slices.

In a mixing glass or pint glass with ice add the aquavit and syrup. Stir 30 times to incorporate and strain into your glass or cup. 

Top with crushed ice. Garnish with a cucumber disc and dill sprig.

 

Dill Syrup (makes enough for about 8 drinks)

  • 1 C granulated sugar
  • 1C hot water
  • 6 dill sprigs

In a saucepan over medium heat add all the ingredients and stir to incorporate the sugar and water. Bring to a boil stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves.

Remove from heat and bring to room temperature. Let it cool in the refrigerator for about an hour before straining out dill. If you want it stronger, leave the solids in overnight and add more dill if desired (though it can overpower things pretty quickly if you use too much).

Keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks.

 

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Thai'd Race

© photo by Jake Brown

© photo by Jake Brown

Applying traditional Thai flavors to the classic julep recipe makes this drink a rich and funky cooler perfect for watching the ponies (or any other leisurely warm weather activity). Deep sweetness from the coconut palm sugar gets balanced by the zing of ginger and citrus hints from the lemongrass, with Thai rum bringing it all together.

Thai'd Race (makes 1 drink)

  • 1 1/2 oz Phraya Rum (or other lightly age rum like Bacardi Gold)
  • 3/4 oz ginger lemongrass syrup (recipe below)
  • Lime wedge for garnish

In a mixing glass or pint glass with ice add the rum and syrup. Stir 30 times to incorporate.

Strain into a rocks glass or julep cup with crushed ice and garnish with a lime wedge. We like to squeeze the juice from the wedge into the drink to finish, but recommend leaving that up to your guests.

 

Ginger Lemongrass Syrup (makes enough for about 8 drinks)

  • 1 C coconut palm sugar
  • 1 C hot water
  • 2-2 inch pieces fresh lemongrass (well stocked grocery stores will have this along with the other herbs in the produce section)
  • 1 - 2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and chopped

In a saucepan over medium heat add all the ingredients and stir to incorporate the sugar and water. Bring to a boil stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves.

Remove from heat and bring to room temperature. Let it cool in the refrigerator for about an hour before straining out the ginger and lemongrass. If you want it stronger, leave the solids in overnight and add more of either to taste if desired.

Keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks.

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Risky Business

© photo by Jake Brown

© photo by Jake Brown

This drink is an homage to the late great Sasha Petraske, one of the key harbingers of the modern cocktail renaissance. It's a riff on his drink, The Business (which itself is a riff on the classic Bee's Knees) from his posthumously released book, Regarding Cocktails, and it's a great showcase for how a single ingredient tweak can change the entire flavor profile of a cocktail. We used Caledonia Spirits Tom Cat Gin as the base, and Caledonia's raw honey for the syrup to give it a richer taste and a little viscosity. It's a delicious danger that goes down a little too easily and is perfect for a spring afternoon reward when you've decided you've done enough cleaning for one day.

Risky Business (makes 1 drink)

  • 2 oz Barr Hill Tom Cat Gin
  • 3/4 oz lime juice
  • 3/4 oz rich honey syrup (recipe below)

In a cocktail shaker with ice add the gin, lime juice, and honey syrup. Shake for 15 seconds. Strain into a coupe or Nick and Nora glass. Serve without a garnish.
 

Rich Honey Syrup (yields enough for 8-10 drinks)

Put 1/2 cup of honey and 1/4 cup of syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly to incorporate the ingredients. Let it come to room temperature before using. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Note: the kind of honey you use here has a huge influence on the flavor of the cocktail. Raw honey is the best in our opinion, though a little pricey. Try around with a few different types to find your favorite.

 

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All Maple Everything

© photo by Jake Brown

© photo by Jake Brown

Jay-Z may have the market cornered on all black everything, but up north here we've got the maple game locked down. To celebrate the end of sugaring season and this year's harvest we tried some all-Vermont maple on maple on maple action with an Old Fashioned as our basic formula.

All Maple Everything (makes 1 drink)

  • 2 oz Mad River Maple Cask Rum
  • ¼ oz Grade A Very Dark maple syrup (add or subtract to taste)
  • 3 dashes Urban Moonshine Maple Bitters

In a rocks glass add the maple syrup and bitters; stir them together a little to incorporate.

Pour in the rum, add a large ice cube and stir 30 times to incorporate everything. Garnish with a cocktail cherry if desired.

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Suzume Sour

© photo by Jake Brown

© photo by Jake Brown

We made this drink for a pop-up dinner thrown by our friends at Place Invaders at an awesome rental space in the Catskills called Barn on the Pond. We were responsible for creating a pre-dinner drink to whet guests appetites for the amazing food from the crew at The Crimson Sparrow. Taking cues from their Asian cooking style we mixed up a sweet and savory take on a traditional whiskey sour that everyone loved.

Suzume Sour (makes 1 drink)

  • 2 oz Buffalo Trace Bourbon
  • 3/4 oz honey syrup (recipe below)
  • 1/2 oz yuzu extract
  • 1 barspoon white miso

In a shaker with ice add all the ingredients and shake for 15-20 seconds. You'll want to err on the side of longer shaking on this one to incorporate the miso well.

Double strain into a coupe glass or Nick and Nora glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Honey Syrup (makes about 1 cup, enough for 8 drinks)

  • 1/2 C honey
  • 1/2 C water

Whisk together honey and water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and make sure both ingredients are incorporated before removing from the heat. Let it come to room temperature before use. Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks in the fridge.

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For a Good Thyme, Call...

© photo by Jake Brown

© photo by Jake Brown

This herbaceous bubbler is perfect for a pre-, during, or after dinner drink to help usher in spring. Featuring Barr Hill's honeyed gin that's infused with thyme (it's much easier than it sounds) and Caledonia Raw Honey syrup, it hits all the right notes. Slightly sweet, slightly tart, just herbal enough, a little dry, and a lot of refreshing.

For a Good Thyme, Call... (makes 1 drink)

  • 2 oz sparkling wine
  • 1 oz thyme-infused Barr Hill Gin
  • 1/2 oz rich Caledonia Raw Honey syrup (recipe below)
  • 1/2 oz lemon juice

In a cocktail shaker with ice add the gin, honey syrup and lemon juice. Shake for 15 seconds and strain into a coupe glass or champagne flute.

Top with sparkling wine and garnish with a lemon twist.
 

Caledonia Raw Honey syrup (yields enough for up to 12 drinks)

Put 3/4 cup of Caledonia Raw Honey and 1/4 cup of syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly to incorporate the ingredients. Let it come to room temperature before using. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Note: if you can't get Caledonia Raw Honey you can use another raw honey or just regular pure honey.

 

Thyme-infused gin

 In a 750ml bottle of Barr Hill Gin, add 1/2 cup of loosely packed fresh thyme leaves (just don't use the thick part of the stems). Infuse for about 12 hours and strain out leaves before use.

© photo by Jake Brown

© photo by Jake Brown

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Vermont Frostbite

© photo by Jake Brown

© photo by Jake Brown

This Northeast Kingdom-inspired julep features some of Vermont's finest bourbon, our sweet and smoky Campfire Syrup in place of the traditional simple syrup, and a hint of mint. The drink starts with cool and bracing smell and taste, then transitions into the warmth of the bourbon and syrup. It's just like coming in out of the snow to sit by the fire.

Vermont Frostbite (makes 1 drink)

In a mixing glass with ice, combine all ingredients and stir 30 times.

Strain into a rocks glass or julep glass filled with crushed ice and garnish with a sprig of mint.

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Last Run

© photo by Jake Brown

© photo by Jake Brown

Our cold weather take on a daiquiri is perfect for an après ski drink. It's got a little heft from Mad River's sherry cask-aged rum, so it's a perfect reward for a long day on the slopes. If you're not a skier, then just think of it as an excuse to make a richer, bolder rum tipple.

Last Run (makes 1 drink)

  • 2 oz Mad River PX Rum
  • 1 oz lime juice
  • 1/2 oz walnut orgeat syrup
  • 1/4 oz Grade A Very Dark maple syrup

In a cocktail shaker with ice add all ingredients and shake for 15 seconds. Strain into a coupe glass to serve.

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The Snowplow

Photo by Mat

Photo by Mat

We modified the traditional Fog Cutter recipe and took it on a ride through the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont with the addition of Mad River and Barr Hill spirits. Still delicious as an eye opener to clear away any brain snow from the night before, this one features some richer flavors due to the heartier rum, apple brandy, and walnut orgeat. 

The Snowplow (makes 1 drink)

  • 2 oz orange juice
  • 1 ½ oz Mad River First Run Rum
  • 1 oz lemon juice
  • ½ oz Barr Hill gin
  • ½ oz Mad River Malvados Apple Brandy
  • ½ oz walnut orgeat syrup

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake for about 15 seconds.

Strain into a tiki mug or goblet with crushed ice. Garnish with a little bit of everything.

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Walnut Orgeat

This heartier, nuttier take on a traditional orgeat is well suited for dark liquor drinks.

Walnut Orgeat (makes about 1 2/3 cups)

  • 2 C walnuts
  • 1 1/2 C granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 C water
  • 1 oz vodka
  • 1 tsp orange flower water

Toast walnuts in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes, then grind to fine pieces in a food processor. 

In a saucepan over medium heat add the sugar and water and stir to incorporate them. Stir in the ground walnuts when you start to see small bubbles coming up from the bottom of the pan. 

Bring to a boil and remove from heat. Let everything come to room temperature then strain out the solids. Stir in the vodka and orange flower water and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a month. 

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Banana Pancakes

© photo by Jake Brown

This one embodies the perfect lazy Sunday morning: lingering over coffee, reading the paper, listening to some music, and most importantly having a hearty breakfast. Best shared with someone you love on a rainy morning when there's no need to go outside.

Banana Pancakes (makes 1 drink)

  • 1 oz Plantation Pineapple Rum
  • 1/2 oz Four Roses Bourbon
  • 3/4 oz Bols Creme de Banana liqueur
  • 1/2 oz Campfire Syrup
  • 3 dashes orange bitters

In a mixing glass or pint glass with ice add all ingredients and stir 30 times to incorporate everything,

Strain into a coupe glass of Nick and Nora glass. Twist an orange peel over the drink to express the oils, rub the peel along the rim of the glass, and drop it into the drink to serve.

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Kopi & Kaya

© photo by Jake Brown

We were recently visited our friends in Singapore and man, what a trip. The amazing food and incredible cocktail scene were enough to seal the deal, but their breakfast staple, kopi and kaya toast, took it over the edge. Kopi is a rich coffee where the water/coffee are strained over the grounds multiple times, then served with a healthy dose of sweetened condensed milk and, if you're lucky, a pat of butter. To complement this, restaurants toast thick slices of white bread and slather them with butter and kaya, a local coconut jam, for the perfect sweet, savory and slightly bitter kickstart to any day. This drink encompasses all of that goodness in a single pick me up.

Kopi & Kaya (makes 1 drink)

  • 1 oz Cruzan coconut rum
  • 1/2 oz Goslings dark rum
  • 3/4 oz sweetened condensed milk
  • 4 oz strong brewed coffee
  • 1 oz coconut cream
  • Chinese five spice powder
  • butter

In a cocktail shaker add the rums and sweetened condensed milk. Shake vigorously for 15 seconds and pour into a coffee mug.

Add the coffee to the mug and stir to incorporate.

Place a pat of butter in your mug. Shake your coconut cream in a cocktail shaker until thick (about 10 seconds) and pour it over the top of your drink. Garnish with a dash of Chinese five spice powder. 

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Drunk Uncle

© photo by Jake Brown

Everyone has that one relative who's equal parts sweet, bitter, and complex; this drink is an homage to those anti-heroes of the holiday table. Based ever so loosely on the Last Word, we wanted to make a drink that was suitable for colder weather with some cozy warming flavors complemented by a little sweetness, and a touch of bitterness to keep you on your toes. Because what would the holidays be without a little controversy, even if it is by the glass.

 

Drunk Uncle (makes 1 drink)

  • 3/4 oz barrel aged gin ( we used Corsair Barrel Aged Gin)
  • 3/4 oz pear brandy
  • 3/4 oz fresh pressed apple cider
  • 1/2 oz Amaro Montenegro
  • 1/4 oz cinnamon syrup (recipe below)

In a cocktail shaker with ice add your ingredients and shake vigorously for 15-20 seconds. Strain into a chilled coupe glass and serve.

     

    Cinnamon Syrup (yields approximately 1 2/3 cups of syrup)

    • 1 cup granulated sugar
    • 1 cup water
    • 4 cinnamon sticks

    Whisk sugar and water together in a saucepan over high heat. Add cinnamon sticks and bring to a boil until all sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and let come to room temperature. Strain cinnamon sticks out and refrigerate in a sealed container before use.

    For stronger cinnamon flavor, leave the cinnamon sticks in overnight and strain in the morning.

     

     

       

       

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      Campfire Old Fashioned

      © Photo by Jake Brown

      Nothing says summer like a s'mores around the campfire. We took this childhood favorite and adult-ed it up with some bourbon, because we want to have our dessert and drink it too. Orange County Distillery's Honey Bourbon provides a great base here with a little Campfire Syrup™ and some cacao liqueur to round out the flavor and take you back to your summer camp days.

       

      Campfire Old Fashioned (makes 1 drink)

      In a rocks glass add the Campfire syrup, cacao liqueur, and bitters and stir them together.

      Add a large block of ice and pour in the bourbon. Stir 30 times and garnish with a toasted marshmallow.

       

      Graham Cracker Infused Bourbon (makes enough for 4 drinks)

      • 10 oz Orange County Distillery Honey Bourbon
      • 4 graham crackers, crushed

      In a non-reactive container with a lid add your bourbon and crushed graham crackers. Give everything a good stir, place the lid on and let the mixture sit overnight.

      The next day, strain out the solids through a coffee filter or cheese cloth. Be sure to squeeze out every bit of bourbon you can; about an ounce or two will get absorbed by the crackers.   

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      Black Dirt, Blue Skies

      © Photo by Jake Brown

      We're firmly in the camp of people who think that Memorial Day officially kicks off the summer, which in turn officially kicks off warm weather drinking season. To celebrate this year we're making a riff on the Harry Yee classic Blue Hawaii, one of the few tiki drinks to feature vodka. Our friends at Orange County Distillery make their vodka with sugar beets, giving it a sweet and earthy undertone that perfectly complements this summer sipper. 

      Black Dirt, Blue Skies (makes 1 drink)

      • 1 3/4 oz Orange County Distillery Vodka
      • 1 oz pineapple juice
      • 3/4 oz lemon juice
      • 3/4 oz blue curaçao 
      • 1/2 oz cream of coconut
      • Pineapple leaves for garnish (you can use pineapple chunks and/or cocktail cherries too if you prefer)

      In a cocktail shaker with ice add vodka, pineapple juice, lemon juice, curacao, and cream of coconut. Shake vigorously for 20-30 seconds until the cream of coconut is well mixed.

      Strain into a hurricane glass or tumbler filled with crushed ice. Garnish with pineapple leaves and/or your fruit of choice. Serve with a straw.

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      Derby Drinks 2016

      © photos by Jake Brown

      For us, the Kentucky Derby officially kicks off summer drinks season. Sure, there's still over a month to go until it's officially summer, but there's just something about a 2-minute event that calls for getting all gussied up and drinking all day in anticipation. Call us old fashioned I guess.

      For this year's Derby Drinks we stuck close to the principles of a classic mint julep but--purists beware--swapped in rum and cognac as bases, as well as some alternative sweeteners. Don't worry, we still made a bourbon picker upper with some cold brew coffee so you can at least start your day right (or power through those long afternoon stretches). Even if your horse comes in last it's hard not to pick a winner with these three.

      Practice Lap

      Old Money

      Tropical Trifecta

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      Tropical Trifecta

      Part of our Derby Drinks 2016 feature.

      © photo by Jake Brown

      This tiki-influenced julep variation gets a nice funk from overproof Jamaican rum and sweet tropical flavors from an easy pineapple mint syrup.

       

      Tropical Trifecta (makes 1 drink)

      • 1 1/2 oz Wray & Nephew Overproof White Rum
      • 3/4 oz pineapple mint syrup (recipe below)

      In a mixing glass or pint glass with ice add the rum and syrup. Stir for 30 turns to incorporate the ingredients. 

      Strain the drink into a julep cup filled with crushed ice. Top with more crushed ice if necessary and garnish with a pineapple leaf and mint sprig. Serve with a straw. 

       

      Pineapple Mint Syrup

      • 1 Cup water
      • 1 Cup raw sugar or Demerara sugar
      • 1 Cup chopped pineapple
      • 1/2 cup torn mint leaves and stems (loosely packed)

      In a pan over medium heat add the sugar and water. Stir until dissolved, then add the pineapple and mint. 

      Heat to a boil then summer for 5 minutes. Let the mixture cool to room temperature then refrigerate for at least an hour before using (overnight is preferable). 

      Strain the pineapple and mint out and store the syrup in an airtight container. This should stay in the fridge for about 3 weeks. Add 2 teaspoons of high proof neutral spirit (vodka or grain alcohol) to keep in the fridge almost indefinitely. 
       

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      Practice Lap

      Part of our Derby Drinks 2016 feature.

      © photo by Jake Brown

      In a mixing glass or pint glass with ice add the bourbon, syrup, triple sec, and coffee. Stir for 30 turns to incorporate. 

      Strain the drink into an Irish Coffee glass or double old fashioned with ice. 

      In a cocktail shaker add the cream and shake vigorously for 10 seconds or until the cream thickens. You want it just thick enough so it will float on top of the drink but not so thick that it turns into whipped cream. 

      Top the drink with the thickened cream. 

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