Tag Archives: craft cocktails

Carousel Cocktail

carousel-cocktailA prohibition era style cocktail, the Carousel Cocktail is a modern riff on the oddly named Japalac Cocktail.  Japalac was an extremely popular tinted varnish from Glidden that was heavily advertised on billboards, in magazines, and on radio – so recognizable that it eventually ended up having a cocktail named after it, as was the style (I remember a cocktail named after the TV series “Miami Vice” in the mid-1980s).  After making the rounds of many cocktail lounges, the Japalac Cocktail made its first appearance in print in 1931.

This cocktail has a nice balance between sweet and sour and is not too alcohol forward.

Carousel Cocktail

  • 1 oz bourbon
  • 1 oz Aperol
  • 1 oz raspberry syrup
  • 1 oz lime juice

Shake all with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.  Garnish with a Luxardo cherry.

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The Phoenix Cooler

Phoenix Cooler
Phoenix Cooler

I came up with this cocktail at the request of that Ambassador of Americana, Charles Phoenix.  At the time, we were planning a podcast for the Test Kitchen section of his wonderful site.  There was a kitschy recipe for a party platter that resembled a clown/circus theme that we were going to construct, and I suggested we should have an equally festive cocktail to go with the party theme.  It needed to be tasty, but not too sweet, and have every kitschy Tiki-style garnish I could think of.  Originally I called it the Clown Cooler, but we ended up shooting the podcast later in the year and by that time we had abandoned the circus theme.  Henceforth, the cocktail became the Phoenix Cooler in honor of Mr. Phoenix.  It’s as kitschy and colorful as he is, and it’s quite tasty as well.

The Phoenix Cooler

  • 2 oz white rum
  • 1.5 oz fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz blueberry concentrate or syrup (available at IKEA)
  • 1/2 oz orgeat
  • Thinly sliced strawberry, lime and lemon
  • Luxardo cherry
  • Umbrella pick for garnish

Add all ingredients to a bar glass filled with ice and stir well.  Strain into a Collins glass filled with crushed ice.  Stack the strawberry, lemon and lime slices as well as the Luxardo cherry and pierce with the stem of an umbrella pick for garnish.

A Nolet’s Vesper at The Big 4 restaurant and bar, San Francisco

Vesper @ Big 4 Dec 2014
A Nolet’s Vesper at The Big 4

During my 2014 winter holiday travels in the San Francisco Bay Area I made the trek to a few of the wonderful bars and lounges, both historic and new, that San Francisco has to offer.

I remembered that my old friend Peter Mintun once played (for 16 years) at the famous L’Etoile restaurant and bar on Nob Hill, and that it (and the Huntington Hotel it is part of) had recently undergone a multi-million dollar restoration.  The restaurant and bar had changed previously into The Big 4, and the hotel is now known as the Scarlet Huntington San Francisco.  Happily, they have kept the historic feel to the bar and restaurant, and it feels like walking into a piece of San Francisco history.  What a wonderful respite from an afternoon of shopping, and a climb up the famously steep Taylor street to the top of Nob Hill.  The cocktail menu features several classics as well as contemporary craft cocktail creations.  I was treated to a classic Vesper (Ian Fleming’s famous creation from his 1953 novel Casino Royale) made with Nolet’s gin, which brings light floral notes to the vodka and lillet.  Why didn’t I think of using Nolet’s for this cocktail!  I will from now on.

Classic Movie Cocktail Scenes: The Thin Man

the thin manPerhaps no other single film has done more for popularizing a single cocktail than the delightfully effervescent “Thin Man” film series (or ‘franchise’).  Based on characters created by Dashiell Hammett, the first film in the franchise is an adaptation of his bestselling novel “The Thin Man,” first published in 1934 in the magazine Redbook.  The film was released the same year, and became an instant hit.  Although it was the last novel Hammett would write, it spawned 5 film sequels.

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The Manhattan Cooler: A summery version of a cocktail classic

Manhattan CoolerThis is a cocktail I came up with for a cocktail competition a few years ago, and has proved to be popular at every party I’ve served it at.  A riff on the 19th century recipe that lead to the contemporary Manhattan, I utilize Pama Liqueur in place of the original Orange Curacao, and a touch of Fernet Branca in place of the bitters. I find it works beautifully served over ice in a Collins glass garnished with some Marasca cherries (Luxardo brand is terrific) on a cocktail pick.

Manhattan Cooler

Shake all ingredients hard with ice and strain into an ice filled Collins glass. Skewer 3 Marasca cherries on a cocktail pick for garnish.