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November 2014

Let's Get It On -- The Between The Sheets

Is your mind in the gutter?  If so, get out because I need more room.

In the words of the late great Marvin Gaye -- let's get in on!
In the words of the late great Marvin Gaye -- let's get it on!

This cocktail dates back to Prohibition, when many people flaunted the official social norms.  Here's how you make this potentially libido enhancing cocktail:

.75 ounces light rum
.75 ounces brandy
.75 ounces Cointreau
juice from 1/4 lemon

Combine in a shaker with ice, shake like you're (do I really need to complete this sentence?), and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Once you've finished (pun intended), you might notice this cocktail is closely related to a Sidecar. The Between The Sheets essentially cuts the brandy or cognac in a Sidecar with light rum.   If the end result is too tart, you can adjust the proportions of the liquors, or you can add a small amount of super simple syrup.  Similarly, if you want a slightly different flavor, use dark rum instead of light rum. 

Side effects may include delayed headache, inflated view of one's attractiveness, and loss of indoor voice.  If you experience intoxication lasting more than four hours, stop drinking.

A Spiritual/Religious Cocktail -- The Holy Trinity Manhattan?

No one who knows me would accuse me of being a religious man.  That does not mean I have not had ephiphanies and transcendent experiences.  Those epiphanies and experiences extend into the realm of cocktails. For those of you who appreciate the value of a good Manhattan, I stumbled on a combination of what, for me, might be the perfect combination:

Does the glass make the cocktail better?
Does the glass (a gift from my wife) make the cocktail better?

2.25 ounces Willett Pot Still bourbon
.75 ounces Carpano Antica sweet vermouth
2 dashes Bittered Sling Moondog bitters

When I say this is a perfect Manhattan, I'm not referring to the technical definition (equal parts dry and sweet vermouth).  I mean perfect as in perfection, nirvana, etc. 

As we are on the cusp of Thanksgiving, I hope we all give thanks to our respective favorite cocktail combinations.

Gonna Make You Howl -- The Loup Noir

Loup Noir literally is French for "black wolf."  Did you really think I would be the man behind the Wulf Cocktail Den and not have the word "wolf" in a cocktail I created?


I must give my lovely wife, aka Ms. Wulf Cocktail Den, credit for helping me fine tune this libation.  I came up with the concept and the possible variations, but her input is what made this cocktail be nothing short of glorious.

1.5 ounces rye whiskey (thank you Bulleit)
.75 ounces Cointreau Noir
2 dashes Bittered Sling Moondog Bitters

Combine in shaker with ice, stir like you're a wolf chasing after your target in the wild, and strain ino a chilled cocktail glass.

I became familiar with Cointreau Noir a couple of years ago.  Cointreau Noir is Cointreau blended with cognac.  It is very good on its own (especially if you like orange flavor like I do), and it can be an excellent component of many cocktails.

I must give thanks to Bittered Sling for introducing me to its wondeful products.  I learned about the company earlier this year at Tales Of The Cocktail.  The Moondog gives the cocktail adds a layer of wonderful complexity that it difficult to describe in words.  If you can't get the Moondog, orange bitters make a good substitute. 

Have one of these the next time there is a full moon ............. or no moon at all.


You Might NOT Be An Alcoholic If .....

You have a few cocktails per week.  Today the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released a study that indicated that 90% of heavy drinkers are not alcoholics.  In case you're wondering, the CDC defines heavy drinking as eight or more drinks per week if you're a lady or 15 or more drinks per week if you're a man.  Although the study sample is quite large (more than 138,000 people),  the respondents self-reported, so some people have not have been completely honest (about the alcoholism part, not the amount of drinks consumed part). 

Click here for a short article about the study.

 There are four important points here:

1.  You can have a few libations from the Wulf Cocktail Den per week and not be a heavy drinker clinically speaking.
2.  Drink responsibly.
3.  If you make a mistake and don't drink responsibly, that doesn't necessarily make you an alcoholic.
4.  Hold your liquor.

A Perfect Heist Cocktail -- The Inside Job

The Inside Job
The Inside Job

I'm a big fan of heist films such as The Sting (a classic), Ocean's Eleven (the version with George Clooney), and Inside Man (the only Spike Lee movie I've ever liked). I love the twists and turns, the deception, and the nuances.  A well done heist film should keep you guessing and wondering how it all might end.

Thanks to Larceny bourbon, which is one of my favorite go to bourbons, I learned about the Inside Job.  So if you need a little liquid courage before you take down a mark as part of your big score, this cocktail is for you.

2 ounces bourbon
.5 ounces super simple syrup
.25 ounces Luxardo maraschino liqueur
1 dash Angostura bitters
1 dash absinthe

Combine in a shaker with ice, stir with the cool demeanor of Paul Newman in The Sting, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

I love my Prohibition gangster shot glasses
I love my gangster shot glasses

As with many other cocktails in the Den, you can alter the proportions if you want the Inside Job to be more "alcohol forward" (that's a good euphemism, isn't it?), more sweet, etc.  Like any good heist film, it can be deceptive and engages in misdirection.  That's a polite way of saying that the cocktail may seem sweet and slightly weak, but it will hit you hard when you're not expecting it.  And if law enforcement comes calling, take the Fifth (not a fifth).


Lychee Lovin' -- The Lychee Martini

Angkor Wat in Cambodia really is that impressive (and this photo is unedited)
Angkor Wat in Cambodia is tremendously impressive (and this photo is unedited)

If you've never had the lychee fruit, you're missing one of the edible joys of life.  I've had the good fortune to travel to various countries in Southeast Asia, specifically Thailand, Singapore, Cambodia, and Vietnam.  I had a great time, as well as some amazing cocktails and liquors. None of those countries is a major producer of lychee (China is the big one), but you can find it on many menus. 

There are some lychee liquors on the market, so if you can get one, making this cocktail is easy.

2 ounces vodka (I'm a big fan of Zyr)
1 ounce Soho lychee liqueur
.25 ounces super simple syrup

Combine in shaker, stir with the dynamic energy on the streets in Bangkok and Saigon, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

This is my summer home .... actually it belongs to the King of Thailand
This is my summer home ....  not really.  It actually belongs to the King of Thailand.

Soho makes a very good liqueur that has a solid lychee taste and is vaguely sweet.  I've made this cocktail with Chinese lychee liqueurs that I found in San Francisco, but they were pretty bitter and so were the resulting cocktails.  If this recipe is too sweet for you, forget the simple syrup or add vodka.  If the lychee taste is too strong, then add a little more vodka, simple syrup, or both.

This cocktail brings back memories such as haggling in Thai with  vendors in Bangkok, walking through the almost unreal beauty of the National Botanical Garden in Singapore, watching a gorgeous sunrise on the beach in Nha Trang, and riding an elephant near the majestic ruins of Angkor Wat.  I hope you will associate this cocktail with your own great experiences.

O Canada (or O Ontario) -- The Toronto

This is a great cocktail for cold weather, although when I discovered it in was early fall in Texas (more about that below).  If you like sweet cocktails ....... stop reading because you probably will not like this one. Like many Americans, I have been to the city for which the cocktail is named.  If you have not traveled much (or at all) outside of the United States, Toronto is a good gateway destination.

Spend too many loonies on these and you might become looney
Spend too many loonies on these and you might become looney

So here is how you make the cocktail that will warm you up very quickly .....

2 ounces rye whiskey (I recommend Bulleit)
.75 ounces Fernet Branca
.25 ounces super simple syrup
flame kissed orange peel

Combine everything into a shaker with ice, stir like you're shivering from a cold wind that just came off of Lake Ontario, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

When I mention a flame kissed orange peel, I really mean it.  Kissed, not burned.

So how did I discover this cocktail in Texas of all places?  Last year I tagged along with my wife on one of her business trips, and one night we ended up at CU29, a wonderful cocktail bar in Austin.  I put my liver in the hands of Cole, a fantastic bartender (he no longer works there but Belle and Chris are there and know what they're doing), when I asked for him to make me a rye based cocktail.  What he made was a variation on the Toronto.  He used Branca Menta (a mint flavored cousin of Fernet Branca) and the result was nothing short of amazing. 

Sometimes you have to go in what seems to be the opposite direction to get to your destination.  That's how I went to Texas but ended up in Toronto.

Bourbon For Brunch -- The Good Morning Manhattan

Drinking bourbon at brunch makes a statement.   Is the statement good?  Is it bad?  I guess it depends on your perspective.

Drinking this at 0700 means you're really cool or an alcoholic
Drinking this at 0700 means you're really cool or an alcoholic

If you want a cocktail at brunch, usually your options are a Bloody Mary or a mimosa.  There's nothing wrong with either one, but they're not for me.  Even though I love vodka, I don't like a Bloody Mary.  Similarly, even though I like some champagne, I don't really care for mixing it with orange juice.

So what if you want something else?  Inspired by something I saw in Imbibe magazine, I give you the Good Morning Manhattan.

2 ounces bourbon (I recommend Willett)
1 teaspoon orange marmalade
2/3 ounce sweet vermouth (I recommend Carpano Antica)
2 dashes orange bitters

Combine the bourbon and the marmalade in a shaker, stir until the marmalade is more or less dissolved, add ice and the other ingredients, stir with the attitude that comes from drinking bourbon before noon, then strain into chilled cocktail glass.

This cocktail is definitely not part of a complete breakfast, unless you're Homer Simpson or Peter Griffin. My wife and some friends accurately describe this concoction as "dangerously drinkable."  To me this is high praise, and it serves as a friendly warning to you.