Original Creations Feed

Milestone Birthday Drink -- The Ron's Four Score

Ron's Four ScoreRon, my father-in-law, recently commissioned an original cocktail creation for his 80th birthday (four score is old way of saying 80; think of the beginning of Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address). His request? A drink that is scotch based, dry, and nutty. So I brought forth upon this world, a new cocktail, conceived in the Wulf Cocktail Den, and dedicated to the proposition that all drinkers are created equal (see below for the non-alcoholic version).

2 ounces scotch
.5 ounces dry vermouth
.25 ounces amaretto
2 dashes hazelnut bitters

Combine in a mixing glass with ice, stir with some matter of fact festiveness like the drink's namesake, and strain into a chilled glass, preferably rocks. Amarena cherry garnish optional.

Ron's Four Score #2The Ron's Four Score takes its place in my pantheon of commissioned cocktails such as the Cancer Killer #1, the Ray's 619, and my personal favorite, the Whiskey Queen. As Ron requested, this cocktail is pretty dry. If it's too dry for you, add a quarter ounce of amaretto or serve it on the rocks. The amaretto and the hazelnut bitters give the Ron's Four Score a hint of nuttiness. If you can't find hazelnut bitters, use chocolate or Angostura, but then of course the drink will taste a little different. Using ingredients Ms. Cocktail Den found online, I also created a non-alcoholic (what I call a 3/4 cocktail) version with Spiritless Kentucky 74, Roots Aperitif Bianco, and Lyre's Amaretti (use the same proportions as the alcoholic version).

You don't have to be named Ron, be 80, or be celebrating a birthday before you can have a Ron's Four Score. What do you need to have? Some spirit (pun intended)!


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!


Celebratory and Solemn -- The Ray's 619

Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865 (some Americans would write the date as 6/19). On that day enslaved people became legally free in Texas, so slavery became outlawed throughout the United States (permanently banning slavery, the 13th Amendment was ratified later). My close friend Doug asked me to create a Juneteenth cocktail in memory of his late colleague Ray, whom I did not know.

Ray's 6191.5 ounces bourbon
.75 ounces Aperol
.75 ounces glorious grenadine
Juice from 1/4 lemon (.5 ounces)

Combine in a shaker with ice, shake with the excitement you would feel as if you learned you were finally free, and strain into a chilled glass. Strawberry or other red fruit garnish optional.

Think of the Ray's 619 as an enhanced Whiskey Sour. Bourbon is the base because it is legally an American spirit. I used Aperol, which pairs nicely with bourbon in cocktails such as the Paper Plane, for two reasons. First, it is red. So what? Like many Americans, I largely was ignorant about Juneteenth until relatively recently. Among other things, I learned red is a big color for Juneteenth related food and drinks. It symbolizes the blood spilled during slavery, as well as African crops such as hibiscus. Second, Aperol's bittersweet taste fits right in with what the day is all about. Grenadine, which is dark red, brings some sweetness to the Ray's 619, and the lemon juice adds some tartness.

Raise a Ray's 619, and honor what (and who, if you knew the man) it represents.


A Muppet Cocktail -- The Kermit The Frog Is Strong

When we were kids Ms. Cocktail Den and I were big Muppets fans. Kermit the Frog is one of the most famous Muppets. Even though he is physically weaker than some of his friends, e.g. Miss Piggy, he more than makes up for it with his honor, friendliness, and positive attitude. Continuing the tradition of a new original creation in a new year, the Kermit The Frog Is Strong pays tribute to his character.

Kermit the Frog is Strong1.5 ounces gin
.5 ounces Barrow's Intense (see below)
.5 ounces green Chartreuse
.5 ounces Midori
Juice from 1/4 lime

Combine in a shaker with ice, shake with the frenzy of Kermit waving his arms as he exclaims "Yay!!!!!", and strain into a chilled glass.  Lime peel garnish optional.

Use whatever gin you like. I highly recommend Barrow's Intense ginger liqueur for the Kermit The Frog Is Strong. Even though I'm biased because Ms. Cocktail Den and I are very small investors, Barrow's Intense gives you a far cleaner ginger flavor than its competitors. Clearly you have to use green Chartreuse (instead of yellow as you would in an Alaska). Combining green Chartreuse with gin and lime juice works very well in the Last Word, and it does the same here. Midori, a melon liqueur, keeps the Kermit The Frog Is Strong from being too tart, and it adds more green color. 

As Kermit might tell you, sometimes it's not easy being green. It's easy with a Kermit The Frog Is Strong.


Not Sober As A Judge -- The Scales Of Justice

Due to a recent job change, a few people asked if I would create a cocktail with a judicial theme. Ms. Cocktail Den cleverly suggested I create a 50-50 cocktail -- two spirits in equal proportions (and sometimes bitters). Just as a judge has to balance the competing interests of parties in court, a 50-50 cocktail has to balance the competing flavors, strengths, and sweetness of its spirits. After deliberating over a lot of different combinations, I ruled in favor of the Scales of Justice.

Scales of Justice1.5 ounces light rum
1.5 ounces Averna
2 dashes orange bitters (optional)

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

Rum gives the Scales of Justice some strength and a hint of sweetness. Averna, an amaro used in other drinks such as the A Thief In The Night and the Sicilian Manhattan, adds complex and rich flavors. If the combination of rum and Averna intrigues you, try a Drop Seed. So why add bitters? When a judge rules, usually someone is bitter about the result. In the Scales of Justice orange bitters nicely complement the Averna, and as we see in drinks such as the When Ernest Met Mary, citrus and rum go well together.

Have a Scales of Justice, and answer this question -- what's your verdict?


Liquid Art -- When Ernest Met Mary

Art can be words on a page, images on a screen, liquids in a glass. Ernest Hemingway was a famous author (and drinker), and Mary Pickford was a trailblazing actress at the dawn of the Hollywood film industry. Named for one of his novels, The Sun Also Rises is an absinthe enhanced twist on the Hemingway Daiquiri. She had an eponymous drink created during one of her movies. Crillon Importers generously provided a free bottle of Absente Absinthe Refined so I could play with it, and the When Ernest Met Mary is my resulting attempt at cocktail art.

When Ernest Met Mary2 ounces rum
.5 ounces maraschino liqueur
.25 ounces absinthe
.5 ounces pineapple juice
Juice from 1/4 lime (.25 ounces)

Combine in a shaker with ice, shake with passionate and artistic flair, and strain into a chilled glass. Lime wedge and/or Luxardo cherry garnish optional.

Like its predecessors, the When Ernest Met Mary uses rum and maraschino liqueur. Half an ounce of maraschino liqueur might seem like a lot, but it leads to a balanced cocktail. The pineapple juice comes from the Mary Pickford, and the lime juice comes from the Hemingway Daiquiri. Use fresh juices if you can. Absinthe adds a splash of anise to this cocktail canvas. I decided to use absinthe directly in the When Ernest Met Mary as you might in a Millionaire, not a rinse as you would in a Sazerac. A little absinthe goes a long way.

Ms. Pickford, meet Mr. Hemingway. Mr. Hemingway, meet Ms. Pickford. And to you ... cheers!


Nothing To Lose Drinking -- the Everything To GAIN

A new corporate client and a new original creation are auspicious signs. Late last year Government Marketing University asked me to present about successful branding, and design a signature cocktail for its GAIN 2020 conference. Guided by my previous experiences such as rocking the red carpet with Cognitio and a golden jubilee with Government Executive Media Group, the result was the unique Everything to GAIN.

Everything to GAIN2 ounces vodka
.5 ounces triple sec (I prefer Cointreau)
.5 ounces maple syrup
2 dashes Angostura bitters

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

I was delighted when the people at Government Marketing University requested I use vodka as a base spirit. Using vodka presents sort of a challenge. It can act as a blank canvas for a cocktail, so you really have to tinker with the other ingredients and the ratios. For the Everything to GAIN I added Cointreau to bring a hint of citrus. Maple syrup is an unusual sweetener in cocktails, but it works nicely here just as it does in drinks such as the Japanese Maple. Like every other ingredient in the Everything to GAIN, maple syrup is easily accessible. 

Presenting at GAIN 2020 was a lot of fun even though it was different. Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic (which is still around despite efforts towards the Flattening Curve), the presentation had to be pre-recorded, so there couldn't be any of the spontaneous give and take that I love so much.

When you have an Everything to GAIN, you have nothing to lose ... except your worries.


When You Had To Go Through THAT -- The Time I'll Never Get Back

It could be a meeting. A movie. A date. A year (I'm looking at you, 2020). After it's over you're just stunned, annoyed, or something else. The Time I'll Never Get Back is the antidote to that feeling. The Wulf Cocktail Den has a tradition of unveiling a new drink in the new year. Considering the general catastrophe that was 2020, at the dawn of 2021 the Time I'll Never Get Back continues this tradition.

Time I'll Never Get Back2 ounces bourbon or rye
.5 ounces sweet vermouth
.5 ounces triple sec
2 dashes Angostura bitters

Combine in a mixing glass with ice, stir with a sigh of relief, and strain into a chilled glass.

Veteran cocktail enthusiasts, and most novice ones, immediately will see the Time I'll Never Get Back is a simple variation on a Manhattan. Using Old Tom gin instead of bourbon or rye makes the drink a riff off a Martinez. To use one of my favorite drink euphemisms, the Time I'll Never Get Back is "alcohol forward." That's deliberate. If you want to try to erase or suppress the memory of wasted time, why waste your time on a watered down drink?

The Time I'll Never Get Back lends itself to experimentation. The type of whiskey will use will make a difference. So will the triple sec, a term that generally refers to orange liqueurs. For example, I'm a big fan of Cointreau, which I use in the 24601, but I figure Grand Marnier, an indispensable part of the Burnt Fuselage, also works quite well.

Spend some time with a Time I'll Never Get Back, and you won't want the experience to end.


Who Am I Intoxication -- The 24601

Who is 24601? It is the prisoner number of Jean Valjean, the protagonist of Les Misérables. Originally penned by the French novelist Victor Hugo, Les Misérables became a popular musical with a very good movie adaptation starring the talented Hugh Jackman as Valjean. This original cocktail creation pays tribute to the character who embodies timeless virtues of honor, strength, and redemption.

246011.5 ounces cognac (c'est français)
.5 ounces green Chartreuse (vrai vert)
.5 ounces triple sec (je préfère Cointreau)
.25 ounces super simple syrup
2 dashes Angostura bitters

Combine in a mixing glass with ice, stir as if you might only have one day more (if you've seen Les Mis, you know what I'm talking about), and strain into a chilled glass.  Bread garnish (see below) optional.

Just as 24601 has five digits, this drink has five ingredients. Even though most brandy is torched Dutch grapes, if you can use cognac in the 24601 because it is French. Like cognac, Chartreuse is undeniably French. I prefer using green, as you would in a Last Word, instead of yellow, as you would in a Diamondback, because it's not as sweet and has more of a kick. I like Cointreau instead of other triple secs (a generic term for orange liqueurs) because of its taste, and it is French. Speaking of France, you'll see the 24601 shares some cocktail DNA with the Champs Élysées. That's intentional. If you like French themed cocktails, I encourage you to try classics such as the Sidecar and the Kir, or less well known but tasty drinks such as the Burnt Fuselage and the Flower of Normandy.

So why bread garnish for the 24601? Because Jean Valjean's crime was stealing a loaf of bread to feed a starving child. There's definitely no crime in having a 24601, which Ms. Cocktail Den describes as "dangerously drinkable."  Vive le 24601!