Bars and Restaurants Feed

B Is For Bravo -- The Boulevardier

The Boulevardier was an English language literary magazine in Paris in the 1920s. Erskine Gwynne, the editor, was a loyal customer of Harry McElhone, who founded the eponymous Harry's New York Bar. Even though it's not clear if Gwynne or McElhone created the Boulevardier, McElhone mentioned it in a footnote in his 1927 book Barflies and Cocktails.

Boulevardier1 ounce bourbon
1 ounce sweet vermouth
1 ounce Campari

Combine in a mixing glass with ice, stir with some American je ne sais quoi, and strain into a chilled glass. Lemon or orange peel garnish optional.

Fundamentally a Boulevardier is a Negroni with bourbon instead of gin. Another way of viewing it is that it's a modified Manhattan with Campari instead of Angostura bitters. Like other cocktails such as the Old Pal (which McElhone created for another one of his loyal customers), the Bijou, and the Last Word, the Boulevardier is a bartender’s dream because of its simple ratio and short ingredient list. If you want to emphasize the bourbon, a variation I like uses one and half ounces of bourbon and .75 ounces each of the sweet vermouth and Campari. The Boulevardier lends itself to tinkering. For example, add some molé bitters, and you have a Left Hand.

Looking for a simple and laudable cocktail? Have a Boulevardier and look no further.


Straight Outta Brooklyn -- The Greenpoint

Greenpoint is a neighborhood in Brooklyn. In 2006 Michael McIlroy created the Greenpoint, a variation on ... yeah you guessed it, the Brooklyn.  I wasn't in Greenpoint when I was introduced to its namesake cocktail. That happened in the Lower East Side in Manhattan, specifically at Attaboy, where McIlroy and Sam Ross (who created the Paper Plane and the Penicillin) operate.

Greenpoint2 ounces rye
.5 ounces yellow Chartreuse
.5 ounces sweet vermouth
1 dash Angostura bitters
1 dash orange bitters

Combine in a mixing glass with ice, stir with a bit of Brooklyn hustle, and strain into a chilled glass. Lemon peel garnish optional.

Spirits and bitters converge to make the Greenpoint a balanced and spirit forward cocktail. The rye stiffens the drink's spine. To me the Chartreuse is the key element separating the Greenpoint from other variations on the Manhattan or the Brooklyn. Joining rye and yellow Chartreuse works well here, just as it does in the Diamondback. If combining rye and green Chartreuse intrigues you (it should if you like strong drinks), try the Final Rye.

To paraphrase the Beastie Boys song, no sleep 'til Greenpoint!


A Cocktail Of Light -- The Parisian

Known as the "City of Light," Paris is one of the great cities of the world. Ms. Cocktail Den and I have been fortunate enough to explore iconic sites such as the Eiffel Tower and the Champs Élysées, as well as cocktail landmarks to know We'll Always Have Paris. In 1930 the Parisian cocktail appeared in The Savoy Cocktail Book by Harry Craddock. I slightly adapted the recipe.

Parisian1.25 ounces gin
1.25 ounces dry vermouth
.75 ounces crème de cassis

Combine in a mixing glass with ice, stir with Parisian joie de vivre, and strain into a chilled glass.

Crème de cassis is a blackcurrant liqueur used in cocktails such as the classic Kir. It's pretty sweet, so you need something to counterbalance it. That's where the gin and dry vermouth, foundations of the classic Martini, come in.  Aside from a Burnt Fuselage or Scofflaw, normally I wouldn't use more than an ounce of dry vermouth in any cocktail, but it works well in a Parisian (the original has equal proportions of all ingredients, so if you prefer sweeter drinks make it that way). Its rich purple color reminds me of the liveliness of Paris and its people. 

Want your cocktail life to shine even brighter? Have a Parisian.


A High Flying Drink -- The Paper Plane

You may have made and thrown one as a kid. As an adult, you can drink one. The Paper Plane flew onto the scene in 2008 when Sam Ross, the New York City bartender who created the Penicillin, created it for the opening of The Violet Hour bar in Chicago. Named for the M.I.A. song Paper Planes, it took off in Chicago and New York and made its way onto cocktail menus around the world.

Paper Plane.75 ounces bourbon
.75 ounces Amaro Nonino
.75 ounces Aperol
Juice from 1/2 lemon (.75 ounces)

Combine in a shaker with ice, shake to the theme from Rocky (the tune's title is "Gonna Fly Now"), and strain into a chilled glass, preferably a coupe. Lemon peel garnish optional.

Following the equal proportions of four ingredients format of the Last Word, the Paper Plane is easy to make (the same goes for the Naked and Famous). Bourbon and Aperol, used in cocktails such as the Venetian Kiss, are easy to acquire. Amaro Nonino, a bittersweet grappa based amaro from northern Italy, can be tougher to find, but thankfully we have the Internet. Originally the Paper Plane used Campari, but within days of unveiling it Ross changed his mind and used Aperol instead. The result is a really well balanced cocktail. In terms of balance and format, the Paper Plane more resembles the thematically similar Burnt Fuselage than the Aviation.

Looking to rack up some cocktail frequent flier miles? Then it's time to board the Paper Plane.


Dangerously Drinkable -- The Peligroso

Peligroso is the Spanish word for dangerous. The Peligroso comes from the excellent La Factoría bar in San Juan. Ms. Cocktail Den and I visited La Factoria many times when we went to Puerto Rico for part one and part two of Tales of La Isla del Encanto. Like the original Peligroso, the danger in my minor adaptation only lies in its smoothness.

Peligroso1.5 ounces light rum (I like Don Q)
.5 ounces Campari
.5 ounces Averna
.25 ounces allspice dram
Juice from 1/2 lime
.5 ounces super simple syrup 
2 dashes Angostura bitters

Combine in a shaker with ice, shake as if you're a dangerously good bartender, and strain into a chilled glass, preferably a coupe. Lime peel garnish optional.

The Peligroso is creative and complex. Combining rum with amari (bittersweet liqueurs) might seem odd, but it's not. After all, the classic Jungle Bird has rum and Campari, a part of drinks such as the Bitter Rasputin. Incorporating Averna, used in drinks such as the Midnight Train, and allspice dram give the Peligroso a hint of richness. La Factoría's Peligroso uses spiced syrup with allspice berries and sugar. My easy workaround includes allspice dram, part of my Les Bon Temps Roulé, and super simple syrup.

Do you want to bring some good danger into your life? Have a Peligroso.


Not North But -- The Southside

Like drinks such as the Margarita and the Jack Rose, the origin story of the Southside is hazy. In the late 19th century the Southside Sportsmen's Club in Long Island featured an eponymous cocktail with soda water. During Prohibition, the no fizz Southside became associated with two cities. New York was home to the 21 Club, a premier speakeasy that served a lot of them to thirsty Scofflaws. It also was popular on the South Side of Chicago, where the Racketeer Al Capone plied his trade. This is the variation I prefer.

Southside2.25 ounces gin
Juice from 1/2 lemon or 3/4 lime
.75 ounces super simple syrup
5-7 mint leaves

To make the Southside, you have two options: (1) Muddle the mint and super simple syrup in a shaker, then add everything else and ice, shake as if you're playing in a tough tennis match, and strain into a chilled glass, or (2) combine everything in a shaker with ice, shake as if you're fighting for control of organized crime, and strain into a chilled glass.  Mint leaf garnish optional.

Lemon or lime? Fresh squeezed juice or citrus wedges? Muddle or not? Granulated sugar or super simple syrup? Ask five bartenders and you may get five different answers. As long as you stick to the basic formula (gin sour and mint), there's no wrong answer. If you use lime, the Southside more or less becomes a gin Mojito. Gin and lemon go well together in the Bee's Knees and the Lemony, and they do here, too.

Pairing the refreshing Southside with music I can go to multiple destinations. Maybe I'll go Southbound with the Allman Brothers, to Sweet Home Chicago with Buddy Guy or the Blues Brothers, or to New York, New York with the one and only Frank Sinatra. All of these musical options are like the Southside itself -- many ways to get there, all of them good.


A Monk From New Orleans -- The Carthusian Sazerac

The people of New Orleans are known for their joyous, free spirited lifestyle. Monks are not. That includes the monks of the small Carthusian Order. The Carthusians are known for their Chartreuse liqueur. Combine it with the Sazerac, the official cocktail of New Orleans, and you get a Carthusian Sazerac. Spice Kitchen & Bar in Cleveland created this drink, and my fellow cocktailian Michael Bounds, creator of the Ides Of March and the Another Green World, introduced me to it.

Carthusian Sazerac2.5 ounces rye
.75 ounces super simple syrup
.25 ounces green Chartreuse
2 dashes lemon bitters
Teaspoon of absinthe

Swirl the absinthe so you coat the inside of a chilled glass, then discard the remainder. Combine the other ingredients in a glass and stir with the rhythmic solemnity of a mass or a slow jazz piece. Lemon twist garnish optional.

If you like "spirit forward" (I love this euphemism) cocktails, the Carthusian Sazerac is for you. Rye is a powerful base of any Sazerac or spinoffs such as the Orange Satchmo. Green Chartreuse, a key component of the Bijou and the Last Word, has more alcohol by volume than most whiskies and its yellow counterpart, which you use in drinks such as the Diamondback and the Renegade. Lemon bitters, which are fairly easy to acquire, substitute for the Peychaud's bitters that are an indispensable part of the iconic Sazerac.

Whether you're introverted like a stereotypical monk, extroverted like a stereotypical New Orleanian, or both, the Carthusian Sazerac might be for you.


Ask Not What Your Cocktail Can Do -- The Fitzgerald

"Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." This memorable call to action in President John Fitzgerald Kennedy's inaugural address inspired and challenged Americans in 1961. Roughly 40 years later legendary bartender and author Dale DeGroff created the Fitzgerald at the Rainbow Room in New York. Compared to its original name (Gin Thing), the name Fitzgerald evokes more class.

Fitzgerald2 ounces gin
1 ounce super simple syrup
Juice from 1/2 lemon
2 dashes Angostura bitters

Combine in a shaker with ice, shake as if you're excited to have a drink with a certain President (JFK) or author (F. Scott Fitzgerald), and strain into a chilled glass. Lemon wedge garnish optional.

The Fitzgerald is easy to make, tasty, and refreshing.  It is more or less the gin equivalent of a Whiskey Sour or a Lemon Drop with bitters. DeGroff uses an ounce and a half of gin to an ounce of simple syrup, but I like the Fitzgerald better with a 2:1 ratio. The bitters make it vaguely pink. Reputedly President Kennedy preferred a Daiquiri or a Bloody Mary, but my guess is he would have had a Fitzgerald or three while going toe to toe with the Soviet Union during the Cuban Missile Crisis (read a book about it or see the movie Thirteen Days). Feeling Presidential? Think about having a Roosevelt, a Fireside Chat, or an El Presidente.

And so my fellow cocktailians -- ask not what a Fitzgerald can make for you, ask when you can make a Fitzgerald.


Romantically Blissful Drinking -- The Honeymoon

The word "honeymoon" evokes thoughts of happiness and new beginnings. It can refer specifically to a honeymoon after a wedding (Ms. Cocktail Den and I went to Hawaii), or more generally to the period after a positive change in your life. First mentioned in a 1916 book from Hugo Ensslin, who also gave us the Aviation, the Honeymoon was a featured drink at the famous but now defunct Brown Derby restaurant in Los Angeles.

Honeymoon2 ounces applejack or apple brandy
.5 ounces Benedictine DOM
.5 ounces triple sec (see below)
Juice from 1/2 lemon

Combine in a shaker with ice, shake with the passion of (use your imagination), and strain into a chilled glass.

When you compare apples to apples, you'll know today applejack is a blend of apple brandy and grain neutral spirits, and apple brandy is exactly what it sounds like (Laird's makes both). Either spirit works well in the Honeymoon. If you like cocktails with an apple flavor, try the classic Jack Rose, the underappreciated Diamondback, or my original American Apple. Brought to us by French monks (not the ones behind Chartreuse), Benedictine DOM is an herbal liqueur used in drinks such as my Whiskey Queen. A little goes a long way, and it more than justifies its price. The Widow's Kiss is an excellent example of another cocktail combining Benedictine with apple brandy. Triple sec is a generic term for an orange liqueur.  Different Honeymoon recipes call for specific ones.  Even though I'm a big fan of Cointreau, use whichever one you like.

What do you get when you put all of these flavors together in a Honeymoon? A drink that warms your soul and introduces a new period in your cocktail life.


Dawn Of A New Day -- The Alba Dorata

Alba DorataSunrise speaks to a new day, a new beginning, a new opportunity. Translating as "golden sunrise" in Italian, the Alba Dorata evokes that potential in cocktail form. The Alba Dorata is a new creation from Christiano Luciano at the Bar Longhi in the Gritti Palace hotel in Venice. Ms. Cocktail Den and I had a wonderful experience staying at the Gritti Palace and meeting people there; our journey inspired the Venetian Kiss. So how do you make this liquid gold?

1.5 ounces cachaça
1.5 ounces ginger liqueur (ciao Barrow's Intense, see below)
Juice from 1/2 lime
.25 ounces super simple syrup

Combine in a shaker with ice, shake with the joy of discovering a new love, and strain into a chilled glass.  Lime peel or mint sprig garnish optional.

Alba Dorata 2
Gritti Palace, Venice (photo taken from across the Grand Canal).

Cachaça is very similar to many rums, as it comes from fermented sugar cane juice. I'm a big fan of Barrows's Intense, and not just because I'm a small investor. It gives you a clean, strong, and unmistakably ginger taste. Courtesy of the cachaça and super simple syrup (Luciano calls for a few drops of it), the Alba Dorata is a little sweet at first, but then the ginger liqueur and lime juice kick in and give it a nice little afterburn. It's a lovely drink, particularly in warm weather. Luciano described the Alba Dorata as "expressing our wishes for a new beginning." Like Luciano, who created the Alba Dorata at home during the COVID-19 pandemic (which inspired my Flattening Curve), I hope the drink leads you to a new and promising chapter in your journey.

Join me and Signore Luciano, have an Alba Dorata, and declare bravo e cin cin!