Liqueurs/Cordials Feed

Pirate Queen -- The Grace O'Malley

Imagine a pirate. Most people picture a man. Grace O'Malley was a notable exception. Known as the "Pirate Queen," in the late 16th century O'Malley was a powerful leader who fought to keep her Irish territories free from English rule. Ezra Star created the Grace O'Malley cocktail centuries after O'Malley made her mark.

Grace O'Malley1.5 ounces Irish whiskey
1 ounce Mr. Black coffee amaro or Kahlua
.75 ounces orgeat syrup
.5 ounces super simple syrup
Juice from 1/2 lemon

Combine in a shaker without ice (this is dry shaking, see below), shake as if you're fighting for your freedom, and strain into a highball or Collins glass over crushed ice. Grated nutmeg and/or lime wheel garnish optional.

Using Irish whiskey in the Grace O'Malley is key, just as it is in other Irish cocktails such as the Tipperary and the Irish Coffee. Mr. Black coffee amaro, used in drinks such as the Blackjack, can be tough to get, but it's worth it. Kahlua is a sweeter and more accessible substitute. Orgeat syrup, a key component of drinks such as the Mai Tai, gives the Grace O'Malley a vague tiki vibe. If you want a stronger, less diluted Grace O'Malley, combine the ingredients in a shaker with ice (this is wet shaking), shake, and strain into a chilled glass without ice. If you like the queen theme and whiskey, try my Whiskey Queen.

Do you like pirates? Queens? Both? The answer doesn't matter because you'll be glad you became acquainted with the Grace O'Malley.


A Loaded European -- The Monte Carlo

When I use the word "loaded" here it's a non-sexual double entendre. Monte Carlo, part of the city-state of Monaco, is loaded in that it has a ridiculous amount of money. The Monte Carlo cocktail is loaded in that it can make you very drunk if you're not careful. Making its grand entrance in 1948 in David Embury's book The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks, the Monte Carlo is simple and sophisticated.

Monte Carlo2 ounces rye
.5 ounces Benedictine DOM
1-2 dashes aromatic bitters

Combine in a mixing glass with ice, stir as if you're suave and rich enough to gamble in Monte Carlo's legendary casino (think James Bond in Goldeneye), and strain into a chilled glass, preferably over a large ice cube.

The Benedictine DOM, a rich French herbal liqueur used in drinks such as my Whiskey Queen, is the key ingredient in the Monte Carlo or its variations. Depending on your perspective, the Benedictine substitutes in for the super simple syrup in an Old Fashioned, or the sweet vermouth in a Manhattan. How dry or sweet you prefer the Monte Carlo depends on the ratio between the rye and the Benedictine. Not into rye? Use bourbon (a Kentucky Colonel), reposado or anejo tequila (a Monte Carlos), or some other aged spirit.

Want to gamble like a Millionaire? A Monte Carlo will make you feel loaded.


Emotional Support Dog -- The Charlie

Blessed with a sunny disposition, Charlie always was excited to see me when Ms. Cocktail Den and I visited our friends who owned him. While staying at their house during a stressful basketball tournament, Charlie calmly sat by my side as I watched my team battle for the title. I deemed him my emotional support dog. Charlie died last year, so I created this cocktail in his memory.

Charlie11.5 ounces vodka
.5 ounces Cointreau
.5 ounces honey syrup
Juice from 1/4 orange
1 dash orange bitters

Combine in a mixing glass with ice, stir with a calming and positive vibe, and strain into a chilled glass.

Vodka is a blank canvas for cocktail artists. Given its namesake, the Charlie had to be on the sweeter side, so I added a liqueur (you can use a different triple sec if you prefer) and honey syrup, a key part of the Bee's Knees and the Brown Derby. Honey and orange work well together, and here the orange juice (use fresh squeezed if you can) and orange bitters keep the Charlie from being aggressively sweet.

Want the cocktail equivalent of an emotional support dog? The Charlie is there for you.


Cocktailiteration -- The Daiquiri 43

Alliteration happens when you emphasize the same sound or letter in consecutive words. Typically alliteration involves the beginning of words. An easy and tasty variation on the classic Daiquiri, my original Daiquiri 43 puts the emphasis at the end of them.

Daiquiri 432 ounces light rum
.5 ounces lime juice (1/2 lime)
.75 ounces Licor 43
2 dashes Peychaud's bitters (optional)

Combine in a shaker with ice, shake with rhythmic emphasis, and strain into a chilled glass. Lime peel or wedge garnish optional.

The Daiquiri 43 simply substitutes Licor 43 for super simple syrup (see what I did there?). Licor 43, an indispensable part of the 43 Up, is a slightly sweet Spanish spirit (I can't help myself).  Among other things, I taste vanilla in it, and it complements the rum nicely. Licor 43 is not nearly as sweet as sugar, and it definitely makes the Daiquiri 43 boozier than its ancestor. Using bitters such as Peychaud's (you also could try tiki or Angostura) adds some intriguing complexity to the Daiquiri 43, and so does using aged rum instead of light rum.

So get the ingredients for a Daiquiri 43, and have yourself a damn delicious derivation of a Daiquiri!


A Dantean Cocktail -- The Purgatory

In some theologies, purgatory is the state after death before some souls ascend to Heaven. It's also the title of the second book in Dante's Divine Comedy (one of my favorite college classes was about The Inferno). Dante Aligheri in Florence created one of the most famous pieces of Western literature, and Ted Kilgore in Missouri who created the Purgatory cocktail in the mid-2000s.

Purgatory2.5 ounces rye
.75 ounces Benedictine DOM
.75 ounces green Chartreuse

Combine in a mixing glass with ice, stir while contemplating where your soul might go (mine will travel in the bar car), and strain into a chilled glass. Lemon peel or wedge garnish optional.

Make no mistake, the Purgatory is a powerful drink. Those who are new to cocktails might have one and think they have descended into one of Dante's circles of Hell. The spice in the rye may make you think of Hell, and the silky sweetness of the Benedictine DOM may make you think of Heaven. The rye stands up to the Benedictine DOM, used in drinks such as the Honeymoon or my Whiskey Queen, and the 110 proof green Chartreuse, used in drinks such as the Bijou and the Last Word. Combining two herbal liqueurs from French monastic orders looks strange, at least it did to me. Have some cocktailian faith. You'll find they work well together in the Purgatory.

Regardless of whether you're religious, agnostic, or atheist, warm your soul with a Purgatory.


Cocktail Revival -- The Renaissance

Leaving a lasting impact in fields such as art, science, and literature, the Renaissance was an important era in Western history. The cocktail renaissance (French for "rebirth") began in the early 2000s. The genesis of the Renaissance cocktail is unclear, but I discovered this version in Difford's Guide.

Renaissance1.5 ounces cognac or brandy
.5 ounces sweet vermouth
.25 ounces Lupo limoncello
2 dashes peach bitters

Combine in a mixing glass with ice, stir with the joy of being revived or reborn, and strain into a chilled glass, preferably a coupe. Orange twist garnish optional.

Courtesy of the cognac, a key part of the Burnt Fuselage, the Renaissance has a spirited start. You can use brandy instead, as it's also derived from torched Dutch grapes. The sweet vermouth and limoncello soften the cognac's punch. Peach bitters are unusual, but as with the Whiskey Queen, they give the Renaissance a nice finishing flourish. If you need a quick substitute, try orange bitters. The drink has no connection to my Bourbon Renaissance, which is a little bit sweeter. Want to pair the Renaissance with modern music?  Try anything by the Rebirth Brass Band or Revival by the Allman Brothers.

I like to think I'm a modern Renaissance man (I'm not). Are you a Renaissance man or woman? Regardless of the answer, having a Renaissance will leave you enlightened ... and maybe reborn.


And Cocktail -- The Ampersand

Signifying "and," the ampersand is a common symbol in the English language (& it makes me think of the late great musical genius Prince). The ampersand symbol dates back a couple of centuries, when children were taught it was the 27th letter of the alphabet. The Ampersand cocktail dates to 1934, when it appeared in Albert Stevens Crockett's The Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book. The story is the Ampersand was named for the "&" in Martini & Rossi vermouth.

Ampersand1 ounce brandy
1 ounce Old Tom gin
1 ounce sweet vermouth
2 dashes orange bitters
.25 ounces curaçao (optional)

Combine in a mixing glass with ice, stir & stir & stir, then strain into a chilled glass.

The Ampersand is a boozy cocktail. The base of three spirits in equal proportions is reminiscent of other underrated classic drinks such as the Bijou. Brandy and Old Tom style gin together? Yes, it looks weird, but it works. Combining Old Tom style gin and sweet vermouth is part of the classic Martinez, so if you like that drink you'll like this one (& vice versa). You could use the more prevalent London Dry style gin in an Ampersand, but then the drink won't be quite as complex (this is one of those times when complexity is a good thing). Curaçao is a type of triple sec (orange liqueur), and if you don't have curacao, Grand Marnier is a good substitute.

Now have some fun & go make yourself an Ampersand!


Lively And Boozy -- The Pura Vida

"Pura vida" is a Spanish phrase that literally means "pure life." While Costa Rica uses the phrase as a national slogan to describe its culture, the Pura Vida cocktail comes from London. Riccardo Aletta at Holy Birds bar created it in 2016.

Pura Vida2 ounces mezcal
.75 ounces Averna
.5 ounces coffee liqueur (I used Mr. Black)
2 dashes orange bitters

Combine in a mixing glass with ice, stir with lively style, and strain into a chilled glass. Orange peel or amarena cherry garnish optional.

If smokiness can shine, mezcal does it here. It gives the Pura Vida a boozy base and a wonderful fragrance. As it does in drinks such as the Naked And Famous and the Good Cork, mezcal plays well with the other spirits. Averna, a Sicilian amaro used in the Peligroso, gives the Pura Vida some depth. So does the coffee liqueur. You don't have to use Mr. Black (its coffee amaro is a key part of the Blackjack), but the coffee liqueur you use will have an effect on the Pura Vida.

Pura vida -- it's not just a state of mind. It's also a fine cocktail.


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.


Irish Capital Craic -- The Dubliner

Dublin, the capital of Ireland, is a lovely city, and there's much more to do than drink beer, whiskey, and Irish Coffee. "Craic" (pronounced crack) is a Gaelic word that roughly means fun in a social context, e.g. a lively bar conversation. The Dubliner is not remotely as old as the city, as the late cocktailian and author Gary "Gaz" Regan created it in 1999.

Dubliner2 ounces Irish whiskey
.5 ounces Grand Marnier
.5 ounces sweet vermouth
2-3 dashes orange bitters

Combine in a mixing glace with ice, stir as if you're walking across the Ha'penny Bridge or the grounds of Trinity College, and strain into a chilled glass, preferable a coupe. Luxardo or amarena cherry garnish optional.

I see the Dubliner as an orange enhanced Manhattan, or a variation on the Tipperary or the Luck of the Irish.  There are a lot of fine Irish whiskies you can use as the base of the Dubliner. I'm not going to recommend a particular one. Regan specifically called for Grand Marnier, used in drinks such as the Burnt Fuselage, as the triple sec (orange liqueur). Using a different triple sec is fine, but of course the result will be different. Amusingly, even though Ms. Cocktail Den and I had some serious craic when we were in Dublin in 2017, we didn't have a Dubliner until later.

Have a Dubliner or two, and your odds of good craic improve immensely. Sláinte!