Category Archives: BRANDS

Pappy Van Winkle At Circa 81

I didn’t get this bartender’s name, but she posed with her restaurant’s bottle of Pappy Van Winkle for me:


On Thursday my family and I dined at Circa 81 in Morehead City.

The restaurant does tapas plates and calls itself a “Cocktaileria” — which is the first time I’d ever heard of such a thing.

The food was good. I had the chorizo black bean soup, a beet salad with chicken and also a shaved prime rib dish served on crostini with a lite horseradish flavor.

That quick recap doesn’t do the food any real justice, so I’ll post photos and copy from the menu below:


Chorizo black bean soup


And I also had this salad, which had a lot of interesting flavors going on:

Bibb lettuce with beets, chevre, sunflower kernels, radish, pear and a cinnamon pear balsamic vinaigrette.


Circa 81’s “Bibb Salad.”

Overall, I really enjoyed my evening here. Since my family and I were on vacation, we’d sort of been snacking all day — and as a result, we weren’t really looking for full, heavy entrees. The tapas-style focus of this restaurant was sort of perfect for us in that regard. We shared a number of different small plates and several of us got cups of soup and then there was also two different styles of homemade cheesecake which we had for dessert.

Oh, and I had a Basil Hayden neat, a Scrimshaw Pilsner and a B&B for dessert.

If I’m ever hear again on vacation (which I intend to be next summer, this place will be the third in my Top 3 to return to — the others being Arendell Room and Amos Mosquito’s).

Last but not least, the Pappy Van Winkle 23 year was $70 for a 2 oz pour.


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Morning Beer — Foothills Brewing’s Hoppyum IPA

Beer on the beach. Is there anything better?


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Morning Beer — Presidente!

I’ve got better pics I’ll Instagram later, but this is me at 10 a.m. on a Tuesday morning — and there’s an ocean beyond that sand:

And here’s the pic I posted on Instagram:


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Filed under BEER, BRANDS

We Call It… The Banana Gun!

This drink was a surprise stroke of genius that came as a result of a little back-and-forth with a customer.

Most times, as a bartender, I’ve got a couple different drinks on my mind in case anyone wants something but doesn’t know what they want. When someone wants me to pick for them and surprise them with something, I’ll still work with ’em to either direct ’em to a classic or one of the slate of drinks I’m holding onto in my brain — I’ll ask a couple of questions and try to read ’em and make sure they get a drink they’re going to like.

Then there are those moments when a little back-and-forth banter leads to a collaboration you would’ve never thought of on your own — which happened to me Tuesday night. 

I’d served a friend a Manhattan after his dinner and then we were discussing where to go next. The idea of rum was raised and the possibility of a banana daiquiri was discussed, but then I brought up the Revolver.

The Revolver is a bourbon drink with coffee liqueur and orange bitters. It’s a simple three-ingredient cocktail, but it’s surprisingly easy for essentially being all booze.

And as I explained all this, my friend nodded in agreement and then said something like: “Yes, but banana.”

So, into the drink went banana rum — which definitely made a sort of sense. I mean, the coffee liqueur we were using in the drink was Kahlua, which is a rum-based coffee liqueur that tastes like vanilla.

And so it was settled and we made the following, a Revolver with all the typical ingredients of the traditional drink plus banana rum — making it a Banana Gun:


Banana Gun
•2 oz Woodford Reserve
•.75 oz Kahlua
•.75 oz banana rum
•2 dashes orange bitters

Thirsty For More?
— Read here about the Revolver.
—’s page about the cocktail.

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My Favorite Southern Tier Beer

Today was quite warm and felt like an appropriate end to August here in Western New York.

Tonight though I’m sipping a fall beer and thinking of the coming season:

Harvest is easily my favorite beer by Southern Tier. Some people fiend for Pumking and others I know like to nurse Old Man Winter on long, cold, snowy nights. But for me, few of their beers taste better than a Harvest — especially outdoors as the summer weather cools and autumn arrives.

And what makes Harvest even better!? A shot of Jameson right in the glass:




Hold Fast The Summer

August is cooling down here in Western New York and although it’s not quite autumn yet, the fall flavors are already in full effect.

I love fall. It’s my favorite season. I love the cool temperatures and long sleeves, the pumpkin flavor and falling leaves — all of it! And I didn’t even mean to make a rhyme there!

Still, despite the fact that I love the fall, it’s hard to let the summer slip away so easily — especially when we’re still in the month of August.

And for that reason there’s this “Hold Fast The Summer.”

Hold Fast The Summer is a transitional drink, one part warm-weather nostalgia and one part acceptance of the changing seasons.

The recipe is easy — just Plantation’s pineapple rum, DeGroff’s pimento bitters and apple cider:

1 oz Plantation Pineapple Rum
1 oz apple cider
1 dash DeGroff’s Pimento Bitters

Stir equal parts Stiggins’ Fancy and apple cider over ice with DeGroff’s pimento bitters then strain and shoot — or double the recipe and enjoy over ice. Adjust the cider accordingly to suit your tastes and prepare mentally for the colder weather coming in the months ahead.


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Modified Midori Sour #2

Earlier in the week I posted about a friend who took a photo of two Midori Sours at the bar where I work.

That photo, and the conversation sparked, spurred me to try and modify the classic Midori Sour. That first post can be read by clicking here.

Everyone I know hates the idea of Midori Sours, and that’s mostly because they’re afraid of two things— getting too much of the liqueur and also having to drink packaged sours mix.

In my first attempt at modifying the drink, I added in Applejack with the Midori and lemon juice.

The addition definitely made for a different and even tasty drink, but it was too different — it didn’t feel like a Midori Sour any longer.

What follows is another attempt at updating the basis Midori Sour:

Modified Midori Sour #2 



•2 oz Midori
•1 oz lemon juice
•1/2 oz Contratto Apertif orange bitter liqueur (or Aperol)


Shake all ingredients over ice ans strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange wedge.


Again, thus was just an okay drink. It was more like a Midori Sour than my first attempt, but it was too sweet. I think the orange flavor worked nicely, but I need to change the proportions.

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Filed under BRANDS, LIQUEURS, MODIFIED DRINKS, Uncategorized

Modifying The Midori Sour #1

About a week ago, a friend snapped this picture of two Midori Sours which had been ordered at the bar where I work:


Everyone I know hates the idea of Midori Sours, and that’s mostly because they’re afraid of two things— getting too much of the liqueur and also having to drink packaged sours mix.

And those are understandable apprehensions. If you’re more used to sipping spirits straight or imbibing bitter cocktails like the Negroni or shooting Fernet-Branca, then the idea of Midori liqueur and sours mix will probably make you shudder.

When I saw the above photo on Instagram though, it sparked something in me — is the Midori Sour beyond saving? Can it be modified for the more discerning cocktail drinkers of the world?

Jeffrey Morgenthaler has had great success in updating other drinks like the Amaretto Sour and the Grasshopper for his bars, and realize that I’m not Jeffey Morgenthaler. But still, Midori tastes alright on its own (if you like melon). And also, a sour doesn’t have to use packaged sours mix.

So with all these thoughts floating around in my head, I figured I’d at least try drinking a Midori Sour or two this week. I mean, it’s probably been years since I even tastes the liqueur. And we actually go through quite a bit of it at the bar. There’s one guy who comes in who likes it in his margaritas, and that’s honestly a pretty taste way to have it.

What follows is my first attempt at updating the basis Midori Sour. I hope to try at least a couple more variations of this throughout the week:

Modified Midori Sour #1 


•1 oz Laird’s Applejack
•1 oz Midori
•1 oz lemon juice


Shake all ingredients over ice ans strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry.


This was an okay drink. The apple came through more than I had wanted it too, but friends who sipped it said that they wouldn’t have been able to identify the flavor as apple — as it paired well with the melon in the Midori.

This actually tasted pretty much like a regular Midori Sour. But it also tasted like an Apple-tini. I was happy that the full ounce of lemon didn’t make it too tart, but the drink still lacked some sort of body and mouthfeel that the sours mix must give it. 

Thoughts for future experiments? Maybe trying it again with egg white. Maybe trying it again with Gomme Syrup.

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Pics From National Tequila Day

 My Paloma:


And a shot:


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Satan’s Whiskers

Following up on yesterday’s Grand Marnier post, I figured I’d share these photos of the Satan’s Whiskers cocktail I made:


A recipe for the Satan’s Whiskers cocktail taken from Imbibe Magazine:

•1/2 oz. gin
•1/2 oz. Grand Marnier
•1/2 oz. sweet vermouth
•1/2 oz. dry vermouth
•1/2 oz. orange juice
•Dash orange bitters

Shake all ingredients over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.


The cocktail first appeared in Harry Craddock’s Savoy Cocktail Book in 1930, and there were actually two versions, “Satan’s Whiskers (straight)” and “Satan’s Whiskers (curled)” — with curacao in place of Grand Marnier in the latter.

Thirsty For More?
— This post on Cold Glass has a thorough assessment of the drink.

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