Monet and Mixing -- The Water Lily

Claude Monet painted the famous Water Lilies series at his garden in Giverny, France. I've never been there (Ms. Cocktail Den has), but she and I have had the good fortune to see some Water Lilies paintings in places such as the Musée de L'Orangerie and the Musée Marmottan Monet in Paris. Richie Boccato created the Water Lily cocktail in New York in 2007.

Water Lily.75 ounces gin
.75 ounces triple sec
.75 ounces crème de violette
.75 ounces lemon juice (1/2 lemon)

Combine in a shaker with ice, shake with a tempo evoking the placidly vivid colors of the paintings, and strain into a chilled glass.

Think of the Water Lily as combining the DNA of the Aviation with the format of the Last Word. The crème de violette gives the Water Lily its purplish hue. Keep in mind the purple color won't be as vibrant if you use a darker triple sec. Like other cocktails such as the Bijou or the Naked and Famous, the Water Lily is a bartender's dream because of its equal proportions.

Even though this Water Lily won't last nearly as long as Monet's, it gives you the opportunity to become a cocktail artist.


Comparing Oranges to Oranges

Comparing orangesTriple sec. Grand Marnier. The three Cs (curacao, Cointreau, Combier). Whether it's a popular drink such as the Margarita, an underrated oldie such as the Burnt Fuselage, or an original such as my Cancer Killer #1, a lot of recipes call for one of these orange liqueurs. So what are the differences? And why should you care? This article from Tim McKirdy distills (pardon the pun) this liqueur category into some key facts.

So back to the second question ... why should you care? Because the liqueur you use will affect your cocktail. For example, an orange and cognac or brandy hybrid such as Grand Marnier or Gran Gala has a thicker, richer taste. That makes it great for a whiskey based drink such as a Dubliner, but not so much for a vodka based drink such as a Cosmopolitan. Of course, it all depends what you prefer, and what you have in your liquor cabinet.

In the past we compared apples to apples. Now that we've compared oranges to oranges, you'll use your new knowledge to make which cocktail?


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.


Spanish Liquid Courage -- the Carajillo

Coffee and liquor is a winning combination. Derived from the Spanish word "coraje" (courage), the Carajillo is popular in Spain and Spanish speaking countries such as Mexico and Colombia. One origin story of the Carajillo involves Spanish soldiers who mixed rum into their coffee while stationed in Cuba. The Carajillo has a lot of variations. Here's my simple one:

Carajillo1.5 ounces Licor 43
1.5 cold brew coffee (room temperature)

Combine in a shaker with ice, shake with the energy that comes from courage, and strain into a chilled glass.

Licor 43, a Spanish liqueur that's a key part of the 43 Up and my Daiquiri 43, is the star of the Carajillo. Many, if not most, versions of the Carajillo use Licor 43. To me that's the way it should be because Licor 43 is a Spanish spirit. After all, you wouldn't use something other than Irish whiskey in an Irish Coffee, would you? As for the type of coffee, that's up to you. You can use espresso (that's common) or regular coffee instead of cold brew. Similarly, you can serve the Carajillo hot or cold, or on the rocks, or you can use different proportions of the coffee and Licor 43 ... you get the idea. It's all about striking a balance between the strength and sweetness of the cocktail's two components.

So do you want some dark liquid courage? There's only one answer: si!

 


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.


The Bitch Is Dead -- The Vesper

"The bitch is dead" -- this is what James Bond icily utters when he learns of the death of Vesper Lynd, the woman who broke his heart. In Casino Royale (both the novel and the movie starring Daniel Craig), Bond falls in love with Vesper before he learns she is a double agent. All of this happens after he creates a cocktail in her honor.

Vesper3 ounces gin
1 ounce vodka
.5 ounces Lillet Blanc

Combine in a shaker with ice, shake with the fury of Bond exacting vengeance, and strain into a chilled glass. Lemon peel garnish.

Bond’s original creation is not far removed from a Martini, either the original or his version. Bond's Vesper calls for “three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet.” Gordon’s was and is a popular gin. Use whatever gin you prefer or have on hand.  Kina Lillet was a French aperitif wine.  It no longer exists under that name, but with a new formula it’s now known as Lillet Blanc. As you would with vermouth, make sure the Lillet Blanc is fresh and keep it in the fridge. If you can't find Lillet Blanc, dry vermouth is a good substitute. Bond never specifies the vodka brand, which amuses me because in popular culture he forever will be associated with vodka. If you or your guest is not a fan of gin (like I once was), adjust the ratios of gin and vodka.

The Vesper is a big cocktail because it contains four ounces of high proof alcohol.  Go Bond or go home.


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.