Tag Archives: COCKTAILS

My Top Cocktails Of 2015

The next few weeks will be full of lists and year-in recaps getting linked on Facebook and every o social media site.

And I’m not going to lie — I love that crap.

Somewhere in all the listicles, recaps and prediction pieces, I’ll inevitably learn something — which makes all the digging around in the dirt worthwhile.

In the meantime though, here’s a quickly-cobbled together recap of five memorable cocktails I was served this past year:

Brazill’s On Main
Westfield, N.Y.


It’s a rare treat to go out and get waited on by someone when most of your nights are spent working in the service industry.

I’ve had two really nice meals at Brazill’s On Main in Westfield, N.Y. — and I’ve had several great drinks! The owner is an older guy and every time I’ve been to the place, he’s been the one behind the bar mixing up drinks.

The Manhattan pictured above was expertly done, and had an extra little kick of flavor — maybe from the (what I assume were) house-made cherries. My father-in-law and I were picking up subtle notes of cinnamon and other flavors. All-in-all an excellent night and a memorable drink.

Mint Julep
Bag & String Wine Merchants
Lakewood, N.Y.


I’m so lucky to have Bag & String in this area.

If you’re new to the blog, I mention them a lot.

This past Derby Day the staff had prepared a pitcher of Mint Juleps to promote the many bourbons available at the shop.

I swung by for a quick sip and also to shoot the above pic, as any reason for a blog post is reason enough! And I’d mentioned to Betsy (pictured) that Jeffrey Morgenthaler had a dynamite recipe for mint syrup… Which can be found online here.

Dill Breaker
Vera Pizzeria
Buffalo, N.Y.


Dill-infused mezcal with ginger syrup and lime. Had this on Halloween. Strange and tasty. Very worthwhile.

Spin The Bottle
Buffalo Proper
Buffalo, N.Y.


Alright, so… Obviously this is a picture of me, but the drink I’m holding is my “Dealer’s Choice” cocktail. You see, on the menu at Buffalo Proper is something called “Spin The Bottle,” where you tell your bartender or waitress what sorts of things you like — and they craft you a drink of their choosing.

For this drink I mentioned amaros (amari?) and even mentioned Fernet-Branca and Campari, but what I got was something black and bitter, but juicy — maybe made with Aperol or Ramazzotti? I’ll never know. But I enjoyed it. Immensely.

Arendell Room
Moorehead City, N.C.


Another “Dealer’s Choice” drink with whiskey and amaro/bitter being the only things I mentioned. 

I’ve made plenty of Boulevardiers for myself in recent years, but sometimes a drink just tastes so much better when someone else is making it for you.

Other Drinks Worth Mentioning 

•A black walnut drink at Cheshire in Rochester made with Fee Brothers Black Walnut Bitters.
•Old Fashioneds at Good Luck with Robert Simonson.
•Champagne before Phantom of the Opera.

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Hey Scout — ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ Turns 55 Today

Today marks the 55th anniversary of the release of Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird.

The book was published on July 11, 1960.

Sometime after its release, a bartender created a cocktail named after the book — the Tequila Mockingbird!

According to Difford’s Guide, this recipe is thought to have been created sometime in the 1960s after Harper Lee’s novel was published. There’s also another version of the drink, and that is the recipe which appears in the recently published cocktail book also titled Tequila Mockingbird.

Tequila Mockingbird 


About This Drink

I took the following recipe from The Ultimate Bar Book by Mittie Hellmich.


•2 oz silver tequila
•1/2 oz white creme de menthe
•1 oz fresh lime juice


Shake over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish by floating a lime wheel on top — or with a wedge on the rim, as I did.



The Last Word

A quick pic of my first cocktail from before dinner in Buffalo last night:

The Last Word

Gin, green chartreuse, maraschino liqueur and lime juice.

This was my first time tasting green chartreuse.

Though the green chartreuse was in a cocktail and I wasn’t tasting it alone, it’s herbal flavor definitely came through. I look forward to my next chance to try some — either in a cocktail or on its own.

Green vs. Yellow Chartreuse:

•Green Chartreuse (110 proof or 55%) is a naturally green liqueur made from 130 herbs and plants macerated in alcohol and steeped for about 8 hours. 

•Yellow Chartreuse (80 proof or 40%) has a milder and sweeter flavour and aroma.

Still Thirsty For More?

—Read this article called “Exploring Chartreuse.”
—A look at its popularity as a shot.

My Recipe Card:

And here’s my recipe card from the Highball app:


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Notes From The Farm To Table

Last night I tended bar at the Athenaeum’s Farm-To-Table Dinner.

Although I was tending bar, I was only making three specialty cocktails — all from a limited menu of drinks which used locally-sourced ingredients:

The meal was prepared by Chef Travis Bensink of the Athenaeum Hotel’s Heirloom Restaurant and Chef Julie Scheira of Forte in Jamestown.

I feel really lucky today to have been a part of the event yesterday. I learned a lot and met a lot of great people. The chefs helped me throughout the process, from the first brain-storming sessions to the last-minute details of setting up. My wife was super supportive and helped me throughout the several hours of set-up yesterday afternoon.

There are a lot of great local businesses which specialize in certain food items, and it was nice to see the spotlight on them. For myself, I was just really happy to have a chance to challenge myself and work within a different set of parameters doing stuff that’s a little atypical of traditional bar service.

But enough blathering. Here are a few more photos from the event:

One of the courses came paired with a beer from Five and 20 Spirits & Brewery:


In addition to the theee cocktails I was making before the dinner, I did create a cocktail to pair with the chicken & waffles course.

I’ve got to give a big thanks to the Southern Tier Brewing Company for giving us a firkin of their one-off kettle sour beer, which used all local ingredients.

The beer was so tart and funky that I wanted to use it in a rum sour, which I made with blackstrap rum, lemon juice, lime juice, falernum syrup, simple syrup and, of course, a hefty pour of the kettle sour beer from Southern Tier Brewing Company.



Prepping Special Cocktails

Prepping cocktail garnishes for the Farm-To-Table dinner tonight at Chautauqua Institution: 

The pre-dinner menu:

  • The Chautauqua Sparkler — Strawberry & jalapeno infused tequila with strawberry simple syrup, soda water and fresh lemonade.
  • Rhubarb Sonic — Rhubarb infused locally-made vodka topped with soda & tonic and finished with The Bitter Truth’s Grapefruit Bitters.
  • The Duck Hunter — A mint julep made with smoked simple syrup and a duck fat infused locally-made rye whiskey.

And paired with the third course:

  • Kettle Sour Cocktail — A beer cocktail with blackstrap rum, lemon juice, lime juice, falernum syrup, simple syrup and a kettle sour beer from Southern Tier Brewing Company.



Assessing What’s On Hand

Making Memorial Day Weekend drinks. Assessing what’s on hand and what I can make with the limited ingredients. 

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Filed under 2015, BRANDS, HOLIDAYS

Today Is World Cocktail Day

Happy “World Cocktail Day” to everyone!

Why a day to recognize cocktails in general as a category of drinks? I dunno… Why not!?

There’s a blog I check daily called Good Spirits News, and just the other day they posted about World Cocktail Day.

The blog post gives several notations about the origins of the word cocktail and cites Good Things Magazine for all its info.

It also explains why May 13 was chosen as the date for World Cocktail Day. Because that’s when the word first appeared in print:

On 13th May 1806, newspaper Balance and Columbian Repository defined a cocktail as, “a stimulating liquor composed of spirits of any kind — sugar, water, and bitters.”

This date is now recognised as World Cocktail Day, an occasion on which drinkers commemorate the first recognised publication of the word’s definition.

So the first recognized publication of the word cocktail described it simply as “a stimulating liquor composed of spirits of any kind with sugar, water and bitters. 

It’s such a beautiful recipe — with all its components being so basic and easily interchanged with other ingredients. There are so many sugars and sweeteners to choose from and now so many bitters on the market, not to mention the open-endedness of being able to use any spirit. 

Whatever you decide to have today, just don’t find yourself without a drink!


Thirsty For More?

— Here’s a link.

— And here’s another link.

And just to round out the “World” part of World Cocktail Day, here’s a link to a site which put together a map of the places where famous cocktails were born.

Here’s the map!


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