Category Archives: Drinks

Icelandic Birch Cocktail

Icelandic Birch Cocktail

My friend Bea sent me this cocktail  recipe from the Sons of Norway Magazine about 6 weeks ago. My super market finally got blood oranges but I had no luck finding Birkir Snaps. The recipe said you could substitute Bourbon with a dash of pine syrup. The Bourbon was easy but I didn’t know where to start looking for pine syrup. I substituted a dash of Retsina, a Greek wine made with a bit of pine resin. I suppose people in Iceland don’t have it too easy getting blood oranges either.
Here’s looking at you, Bea. Thanks for the challenge. It was delicious.


Icelandic Birch CocktailIcelandic Birch Cocktail

Put the Bourbon, orange juice, Retsina and syrup into a shaker full of ice. Shake and strain into a rocks glass. A splash of club soda or San Pellegrino and a couple of dashes of Angostura – done.

Icelandic Birch Cocktail


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Shaken or Stirred

Shaken or Stirred

There’s a fairly simple rule about when to shake and when to stir a cocktail. If there’s any fruit juice (even that mere ½ ounce like in the Oh Gosh), cream or egg, you shake. If all of the ingredients are clear, you stir – like the Martinez below. I can’t imagine why James Bond would ask a bartender to shake his Martinis but what the hell – he’s 007.

The Oh Gosh Cocktail  – shake

Shaken or Stirred

Shaken or Stirred

Add all the ingredients to a shaker and fill with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled coupette.

Shaken or Stirred

Martinez Cocktail – stir

Shaken or Stirred

Shaken or Stirred

Place all of the  ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Stir with a bar spoon until thoroughly chilled. Strain into the chilled glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

Shaken or Stirred


Oatmeal Stout

Oatmeal Stout

You can buy beer or you can brew it yourself. My sister Nicki gave me a Brooklyn Brew Shop brewing kit and I’ve been using it to make my own beer. The kit comes with all of the equipment you need except for pots and strainers. They also supply the grain, hops and yeast.
I made IPA a few times and it was as good as any I ever got on tap at a bar. I recently ordered the grain and hops to make Oatmeal Stout. The general procedure is similar to the IPA but with a few minor variations that are pointed out on the instructions.

The first step is the Mash – This is where you cook the grain in water for 60 minutes, stirring  and keeping it within a proscribed temperature range.

After that is the Sparge – You strain the cooked grain and then pour more hot water through it until you have about 6 quarts of wort (that’s what will eventually become stout.)

Now for the Boil – You bring the wort to a low boil for 90 minutes, adding hops at set intervals.                                                     Oatmeal Stout hops

The last step for day one is Fermentation – Cool the wort and pour it through a strainer into a fermenter (that’s the the gallon jug that came with the kit) and add the yeast.

I then inserted a blow-off tube to let the CO2 to escape.  All of the preceding steps take place in one day over about five hours. After a few days, I removed the tube and inserted an air-lock in the mouth of the jug to let additional CO2 escape and let it sit in the dark for 2 weeks.

Finally, the Bottling – I siphoned the stout from the fermenter into a pot, leaving the sediment behind. Then I mixed in some maple syrup to feed the yeast and I filled the bottles. Another 2 week wait and it’s ready for drinking.

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Café Cubano

Café Cubano

For Cuban coffee the only ingredients you’ll need are espresso and sugar. For equipment, a moka pot is preferred but any other espresso maker will do. This recipe is for two cups.

Café Cubano

Café Cubano

Start by putting a two-cup espresso pot on the stove.

Café Cubano

While the coffee is brewing start making the espuma –
Add two teaspoons of sugar to a small serving pot for each cup plus one more. More sugar makes more crema. As soon as it’s brewed, add two teaspoons of coffee to the sugar and stir vigorously for a few minutes until you have a creamy café au lait colored syrup. Pour the coffee over it and stir until the espuma rises to the top.


Café Cubano


Cafe Cubano


Some More Cocktails Made With American Whiskey

Some More Cocktails Made With American Whiskey
There’s Scotch, Irish and Canadian whiskey and in America we have Rye and Bourbon. Here are three more cocktail ideas.

There are at least three different cocktails called the “Derby.” This is the one associated with the race held at Churchill Downs in Kentucky.Some More Cocktails Made With American Whiskey

Some More Cocktails Made With American Whiskey

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a lemon peel. Some More Cocktails Made With American Whiskey

Whiskey Crusta
A New Orleans classic, invented in 1850.Some More Cocktails Made With American Whiskey

Some More Cocktails Made With American Whiskey

Shake with ice, strain into a sugar rimmed cocktail glass and garnish with an orange peel. The glass should be prepared in advance so the sugar can harden.Some More Cocktails Made With American Whiskey

This rye whiskey drink was invented in Paris while America suffered through Prohibition.

Some More Cocktails Made With American Whiskey

Some More Cocktails Made With American Whiskey Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

It was invented in Paris so, of course they used French vermouth. Try it with Italian vermouth – much better.Some More Cocktails Made With American Whiskey

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Some Cocktails Made With American Whiskey

Some Cocktails Made With American Whiskey
There’s Scotch, Irish and Canadian whiskey and in America we have Rye and Bourbon. Here are three classic cocktails made with American whiskey.

Vieux Carré
This one was invented at the Monteleone Hotel in New Orleans, and is named for the “The French Quarter” – le Vieux Carré (“Old Square”).

Mix all the ingredients in a rocks glass with ice.

Bourbon Smash
Not unlike a Mint Julep but with a bit of lemon added to offset the sweetness.
 Muddle the lemon and 3 sprigs of mint in a shaker. Add the bourbon, simple syrup, ice and shake. Strain into a rocks glass filled with crushed ice and garnish with a mint sprig.

My wife Bridget and I went to four bars in the New Orleans’ French Quarter to try Sazeracs and take away the best recipe. This was our favorite but after four Sazeracs I could only remember the recipe and not the name of the bar where I got it – maybe the Hotel Monteleone? Put ½ shot of Anisette in a small rocks glass. Coat the sides of the glass with it and then add some ice. In another small rocks glass add: a few dashes of Peychauds Bitters and 1 tsp of simple syrup. Mix, add ice and stir. Add a shot of rye and stir. Empty ice and excess Anisette from 1st rocks glass and strain mix of Peychauds, syrup and rye into it. Float a few dashes of Angostura on top.

*Simple syrup – Heat one cup of sugar in one cup of water. Stir until it’s clear and liquid.

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Swizzle Stick Cocktails

Swizzle Stick Cocktails


Originally from the Caribbean, swizzle sticks were used by bartenders to mix rum cocktails. It’s a stick made from the wood of a tropical tree called the Quararibea turbinate. Its branches naturally grow outward like the spokes on a wheel. You rub it quickly between your hands and it works something like a whisk.

You can get one here – Cocktail Kingdom



If you don’t have a swizzle stick, use a long handled bar spoon.

Classic Frozen Daiquiri

Three simple ingredients and one of them should be Cuban rum but…




Swizzle with shaved ice and pour into a cocktail glass.

Meyers’s Swizzle

This is one my father taught me.20161108_160522



Swizzle 1st 4 ingredients with shaved ice. Pour into a cocktail glass. Add more ice and Angostura. Serve with a short straw.

Simple syrup – 1 part water / 2 parts sugar  Mix in a small pot, heat and stir until it’s clear.


Improvise – serve in a tall glass topped with some club soda.

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Scotch Cocktails

Scotch Cocktails


Save the top shelf Scotch like Johnny Walker Black for sipping on the rocks. Something like J&B is less pricey, still a good Scotch and perfect for cocktails. My father, who was a bartender when he was a young man always said that someone who orders a high end liquor in a cocktail is being pretentious because when it’s mixed they can’t tell the difference anyway.

The Churchill

The Churchill cocktail was created for Winston Churchill, a Scotch drinker.



Shake with ice, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.


Rob Roy

Rob Roy was named after the Scottish folk hero. It’s pretty much a Scotch Manhattan.



Stir ingredients in a mixing glass and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.


A Rob Roy can also be served on the rocks.

Rusty Nail

A nice mix of a cordial made from Scotch and honey, and Scotch.



This one is served on the rocks so you can mix it right in the glass.



Scotch Hot Toddy



Mix Scotch and sugar in a cup. Add heated milk and stir. You might try this with a sprinkle of nutmeg.


Here’s one more that got it’s own post some time back –

atholl-brose2ATHOLL BROSE

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Cocktails Made with Gin

Cocktails Made with Gin

Invented by the Dutch 350 years ago, this colorless spirit, flavored with juniper berries was originally called genievre or jenever. Lately, it’s been replaced in popularity with vodka but for the four cocktails made with gin listed here, there is no substitute.

Belmont Cocktail

belmont bbelmont

Very simple – just shake the 3 ingredients with ice and pour into a chilled cocktail glass.

Pink Lady

pink b


Put the ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice cubes. Shake vigorously & strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the cherry.

White Lady

white awhite

Everything goes into the shaker and shake thoroughly because of the egg white.

Old Tom Martini

martini b


An early Martini recipe – put gin and Vermouth in a mixing glass and stir (never shake) with ice. Pour into a chilled Martini glass and add bitters and olive.

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