Books Feed

Liquid Ecstasy -- The Intense Ginger Sutra

We've all heard of the Kama Sutra, the ancient Indian treatise on sex and love.  Kama Sutra roughly means "love manual" in Sanskrit.  Barrow's Intense ginger liqueur (full disclosure -- I am a very small investor) created this cocktail.  Just as the Kama Sutra spread its teachings to people all over the world, I'm happy to share my knowledge of the Intense Ginger Sutra to drinkers all over the world.

Were you expecting an erotic photo?  Although I guess this is boozerotica.
Did you expect an erotic photo? Consider this boozerotica.

2 ounces vodka
.75 ounces Barrow's Intense
.5 ounces glorious grenadine

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

In 2014 I discovered Barrow's Intense and had the privilege of meeting the people behind it.  If you can't get your hands on a bottle of Barrow's Intense, there are other ginger liqueurs on the market, but they pale in comparison. 

Will this cocktail put you in a state of ecstasy?  There's one way to find out.  Will it help you and your spouse/partner/significant other achieve a state of ecstasy?  That's your business, not mine.

James Bond's ABC

As in Alcoholic Body Count.  Thanks to an infographic from Food & Wine, you can just see how much 007 drinks in every film (23 and counting).  Click here to read it.  You might learn some interesting things, e.g. Daniel Craig drinks more than his counterparts.  Thanks to my wife for finding this for me.

Readers of the Den know I'm a big James Bond fan.  If you want to see Sir Roger Moore's version of 007 cocktail's here, or for a cocktail tribute to my favorite Bond girl click here.

If you want to learn about what Bond drinks in the movies (as opposed to how much), I recommend 007 On the Rocks by Stephan Kurr.  The book is a quick and informative read.

So (cue the theme music), we'll have to see how much Bond drinks when SPECTRE comes to the silver screen later this year.


A Drink For Austin Powers And The Hulk -- The Whiskey Smash

Austin Powers would say "This drink is smashing baby!  Yeah!"  The Hulk would ... you know.
Austin Powers would say "This drink is smashing baby! Yeah!" The Hulk would ... you know.

The Whiskey Smash dates back much further than the hilarious British secret agent spoof and everyone's favorite green superhero. Smash cocktails came on the scene in the 19th century, and this article in Imbibe magazine gives good historical background.

2.25 ounces bourbon
1 ounce super simple syrup
1/4 lemon cut into a couple of pieces
4-5 mint leaves

Muddle the lemon and mint in a shaker, add the super simple syrup, bourbon, and ice, shake like you're the Hulk smashing someone or Austin Powers shagging a babe, then strain into a chilled glass.

The Whiskey Smash essentially is a cross between a Mint Julep and a Whiskey Sour.  A julep has a spirit, herb, and sweetener, and a smash is a julep with added citrus. It's easy to adjust the ratios of the ingredients in the Whiskey Smash to suit your taste for tartness, sweetness, and booziness.  When it comes to the muddling, you don't need to be like you're Dr. Banner in desperate need of an anger management program.

No disrespect to the Hulk, but Captain America is my favorite Avenger.  He exudes honor, stands up to bullies of any stripe, acts like a gentleman, and kicks Nazi ass. Now go get smashed!

Know Your Limits -- The 12 Mile Limit

Even though the anniversary of Prohibition's end was last month, it's never too late to celebrate it.

There's some great history behind the 12 Mile Limit.  At the outset of Prohibition the territorial waters of the United States ended four miles offshore.  Rumrunners would set up shop just outside the line.  In an attempt to thwart them, in 1924 Congress extended the limit to ..... you guessed it, 12 miles.  We all know it didn't work.  To celebrate slightly more than 71 years since the repeal of Prohibition, make this:

As Dirty Harry Callahan once said: "A man's got to know his limitations."
As Dirty Harry Callahan once said: "A man's got to know his limitations."

1 ounce light rum
.5 ounces rye
.5 ounces brandy
.5 ounces Cherry Heering
Juice from 1/4 lemon

Combine in shaker with ice, shake like you're on the run from the law or a rival rumrunner, and strain into a chilled glass.

This is my kind of a Prohibition era cocktail because it's almost all booze.   If it is too tart for you, I suggest minimizing the rum and rye and/or adding a dash of super simple syrup.  The original recipe uses grenadine syrup (the real thing, not the sweet stuff you can buy in almost any grocery or liquor store) instead of Cherry Heering.  I opted for convenience over authenticity, as I already had a bottle of Cherry Heering in my bar.

If you want to read a magnificent book about Prohibition, I highly recommend Last Call by Daniel Okrent.  It is an entertaining read and you will learn all sorts of fascinating things.  Even if you go past your own 12 mile limit.

Hot Cocktail -- The Ship To Shore

When it's really cold outside (like right now), a hot cocktail can hit the spot.  Not hot as in sexy, not hot as in trendy, but hot as in to where Dante traveled in the Inferno.

Looking for some hot stuff?
Looking for some hot stuff?

This cocktail recipe appeared in Mens Journal magazine, and I tweaked it slightly to make it more suitable to the Wulf Cocktail Den, i.e. a little more "alcohol forward"  and less watered down.

.75 ounces light rum
1.5 ounces Laird's applejack
.75 ounces super simple syrup (click here)
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 cinnamon stick

Combine all ingredients in a small pan, put on low to medium heat for a few minutes, pour the mixture into a suitable glass, and add 2-3 ounces of hot water.  Garnish with a cinnamon stick.

This cocktail is an excellent alternative to other hot cocktails such as Irish coffee. So why is it called Ship To Shore?  According to the magazine, its inspiration comes from Prohibition rumrunners.  I haven't been able to confirm this.  Nonetheless, I'm a big fan of Prohibition era cocktails such as the Sidecar, as well as Prohibition inspired cocktails that are much stronger than this one (check out the forthcoming post).  

If this cocktail doesn't warm you up, have another.  If that one doesn't do it ...... use your imagination.

Sicilian Shotgun -- The Lupara

A new year calls for a new cocktail creation!

A cocktail that combines the brains, style, honor, and ruthlessness of the Corleone family (except Fredo)
A cocktail that combines the brains, style, honor, and ruthlessness of the Corleone family (except Fredo)

Lupara is Italian slang for a sawed off shotgun, particularly in connection with La Cosa Nostra (more popularly known as the Mafia).  You might recognize the word if, like me, you read The Godfather and are obsessed with the novel and the film trilogy.  Although I don't think anyone says the word in the films, in the first film (Best.  Movie. Ever.) Michael Corleone's bodyguards carry them when he is in Sicily.

So why did I name this cocktail the Lupara?  Three reasons -- (1) the key ingredient is Averna, a wonderful amaro from Sicily, where La Cosa Nostra was and perhaps still is powerful, (2) the word lupara is derived from lupo, the Italian word for wolf, so there's a tenuous connection to the Wulf Cocktail Den, (3) Vito Corleone (born Vito Andolini) hailed from Corleone, Sicily.

2 ounces rye
1 ounce Averna
2 dashes orange and juniper bitters from Bittered Sling

Combine in a shaker with ice, stir as if you're methodically stalking the target of your vendetta, and strain into a chilled glass.

Last month I discovered Averna.  It has a great combination of citrus and herbal flavors.  Unlike other amari such as Campari, which has a very strong and almost medicinal taste, Averna is smooth enough that you can drink it neat.

I highly recommend using Bittered Sling's product for this cocktail.  The orange and juniper really complement the flavors in the Averna.  If you can't get your hands on these bitters from our friends north of the border, use orange bitters.  Regardless of what you use the result will be more elegant, but just as brutally effective, as its namesake.



A Tale Of Two Bartenders

You can great cocktails to go with the beautiful scenery in Ko Olina
You can get great cocktails to go with the beautiful scenery in Ko Olina

With apologies to Charles Dickens, this is not about the best of bartenders and the worst of bartenders.  It is about two fine bartenders my wife and I met earlier this month when we were in Hawaii.

The first is Charlie (aka Charles) at Monkeypod in the Ko Olina section of Oahu.  Along with the fantastic food, Charlie was part of our great experience.  He was dynamic, knew what he was doing, and even introduced us to two liquors (Averna and Ransom).  Who knew that I would discover a Sicilian amaro and an aged Old Tom style gin in Hawaii?

The second is Brian at Roy's in Waikiki.  Roy's has many locations in Hawaii and some on the mainland.  The food and drinks have been excellent at every one to which I've been.  In addition to making a great cocktail, Brian was more than happy to speak with us about recipes, tradecraft, etc. I learned a lot from him. Conversations like that are one reason why I love the world of cocktails.

Northeast of NYC -- The Maple Manhattan

The Kentucky version
The Kentucky version

Do you like maple syrup?  Of course you do.  Everyone loves it.   It is made on both sides of U.S.-Canada border, and Canada even stockpiles a reserve of it.  The really good stuff comes from north of New York City's most famous and most photographic borough. This cocktail gives you the opportunity to combine that wonderful maple flavor with some tasty brown liquors.  It's so easy to mapelize (I know that is not a real word) a Manhattan even I can do it:

2.5 ounces maple bourbon or whiskey (see below)
1 ounce Carpano Antica sweet vermouth
2 dashes Angostura bitters

Combine into a shaker with ice, stir as if you've just come in from the cold (not in the John le Carre sense of the expression as it pertains to spies), and strain into a chilled glass.

The Canadian version
The New Hampshire version

Kentucky version -- use Knob Creek smoked maple bourbon

New Hampshire version -- use Cabin Fever maple whiskey

You can't go wrong with either version.  It really depends on how much you want a taste of smoke. If you cannot acquire a bottle of either liquor, both of which are quite good, use your favorite bourbon and add a teaspoon of maple syrup.

Regardless of what you use for the bourbon or whiskey (you do know that all bourbon is whiskey but all whiskey is not bourbon, right?) I recommend using Carpano Antica as your sweet vermouth.  To paraphrase the hilariously classic line from Spinal Tap, this sweet vermouth goes to 11.

My Favorite Bond Girl's Drink -- The Pussycat

IMG_20140927_173719957 PussycatCocktails are by no means my only interest and passion.  I am also a big fan of the James Bond franchise.  I probably could write a blog about James Bond related things, but there are far more cocktail fans in the world than Bond fans.  Of course, there is a lot overlap between these two groups.  In addition, the literary and cinematic character himself is a prodigious drinker, and according to this tongue-in-cheek study from The Lancet (the British counterpart of the American Medical Association Journal, click here to read it) a very high functioning alcoholic.

Every James Bond fan has their favorite movie, and I am no exception.  My favorite is Goldfinger, which is the third one in the franchise.  It has the just the right amount of everything – the rough and tumble version of the hero (the archetypal Sean Connery played him), a resonant title number (sung by Shirley Bassey), a classic line from the villain (“No Mr. Bond, I expect you to die!”), and a memorable Bond girl (thank you Honor Blackman) – Pussy Galore.

I must give credit to where it is due, so thanks to Beer Barrel bourbon to introducing me to this cocktail at the Tales Of The Cocktail conference.  Here is how you make it:

That cocktail looks much tastier than fish!
That cocktail looks much tastier than fish!

1.5 ounces bourbon (I love Willett Pot Still)
.5 ounces Campari
.5 ounces Cointreau (or orange liqueur of your choice)
Juice from 1/8 grapefruit (the original recipe calls for 1/2 ounce)

Combine in shaker with ice, shake like you’re a cat who knows it is on its way to the vet (you thought I was going to say something much dirtier, didn’t you?), and strain into a chilled glass.

Those of you who follow the Den will notice that there are some similarities between this cocktail and the Siesta, part of the Grapefruit Triad.  More specifically, both drinks contain fresh grapefruit juice and Campari.  Of course, the big difference is that this cocktail has bourbon as its base, and tequila is the base of the Siesta.  To me it is fitting that bourbon is the base spirit of the cocktail with which I associate Goldfinger.  James Bond drinks bourbon in the movie; he does it in the scene where Goldfinger explains why he wants to break into Fort Knox (spoiler alert -- he doesn't plan to steal the gold).

If you like tart cocktails, then this one is right up your alley (cat).

The Grapefruit Triad, Part Two -- The Hemingway Daiquiri

A holiday like the recent National Rum Day (yes, there is such a thing) calls for a cocktail like a Hemingway Daiquiri.  If you’re not inspired to run with the bulls in Pamplona  (his novel The Sun Also Rises brought the highlight of the Festival of San Fermin into popular consciousness), you can embrace your inner adventurer with this cocktail:

Hemmingway daquiri2 ounces rum
Juice from 1/2 lime
Juice from ¼ grapefruit
.5 ounces Maraschino liqueur

Combine in shaker with ice, shake like the business end of a bull is right behind you, and strain into chilled martini glass.

If you’re paying attention to other posts in the Wulf Cocktail Den, you probably noticed that I despise Maraschino cherries.  So why do I endorse Maraschino liqueur?  Because the two have nothing in common.  Maraschino liqueur (Luxardo is the most popular brand in the U.S.) does not have a cherry flavor. The best way I can describe it is that it has a vaguely sweet nut flavor; this is why you do not need simple syrup in a Hemingway Daiquiri.  In comparison, a Maraschino cherry is a Frankenfruit that is the result of artificial sweeteners and God knows what other toxic stuff corrupted it.  If you want to garnish your cocktail with a cherry, I recommend Luxardo cherries.

Although Hemingway was not a member of the British Special Air Service (the rough equivalent of U.S. Special Forces), he certainly would approve of its motto – Who Dares Wins.  Dare to be different and have a Hemingway Daiquiri.

To read Part One of the Grapefruit Triad (the Siesta), click here