New Cocktail: Mitchum’s Scam

I’ve been reliably informed that Robert Mitchum apparently has a credible fifties rockabilly hipster outlaw vibe in the real world.  Who knew?  I live, I’ve been informed, a sheltered life.

Anyway, Mitchum’s son has capitalized on his cult classic Thunder Road by opening a moonshine distillery of the same name in Tennessee.  Coming home from Virginia last month, we stopped and got free tastings; I ended up buying a basic moonshine and their rye, which is completely raw, i.e., this stuff has not spent a second in a barrel of any kind.

As such, it has presented a challenge, a challenge that I decided to tackle yesterday.

Given the raw, even nasty, nature of the stuff, I decided to fight fire with fire.  I pulled out the Montenegro Amaro, which I’ve never quite developed a taste for, and went to the herb garden.  Next year perhaps I’ll have a better grip on angelica or vervain or valerian and how they might work, but for this drink I chose lovage, one of my favorite herbs, for its strong peppery flavor.

I thought about whether lemon or lime juice would help take the edge off, but my mental taste buds couldn’t see it doing much good.  Maybe grapefruit might be worth a shot in the future, though.

Finally, I thought, this thing is going to need a strong undergirding of bitters to make it through the aftertaste.  I used 18•21 Bitters’ Tonic and then, at first, their Havana & Hide Bitters before settling on their Saffron & Tart Cherry Bitters.

And here we are.  I figure it may be an abortive attempt; if upon a second one I find that it’s still not quite delicious, I may adjust the proportions, or toss it altogether, but for the time being:

Mitchum’s Scam

  • 2–3 leaves of lovage
  • 1.5 oz Thunder Road Runner’s Rye
  • .5 oz Montenegro Amaro
  • .25 oz 18•21 Bitters Tonic
  • 10 drops 18•21 Bitters Saffron & Tart Cherry Bitters
  • lemon peel for garnish

Muddle the lovage with all the ingredients.  Stir with ice, strain into a coupe.  Garnish with the lemon.

As I said on Facebook, this drink is not my best, but it’s not my worst either.  It has the potential to become a cult favorite on its own.  My first assessement — “The herbal nastiness of the Montenegro is rounded out by the unbarrelled nastiness of the rye, with nice floral notes from the bitters and a lovely overall pall created by the lovage” — may need to be adjusted.

More work is required.

New cocktail: Brad’s Bebida

So, the other day my badly-behaved friend Jobie sent me this image:

Dear reader, I was scandalized.[1]

Anyway, Jobie said that there should be a cocktail created especially to employ these tawny, vaguely Latino youth.  (Why Jobie is interested in full employment for tawny Latino youth, I am not prepared to speculate.[2])

My first reaction was to laugh gently at my friend’s humor and go about my business, but then I noticed a curious detail:

These tawny Latino youth have the whitest white boy names emblazoned on their asses.

Well, who could resist that?[3]

This one came together rather immediately, flashing into my imagination as a gift from the gods.[4]

Brad’s Bebida

  • 1.5 oz gentle tequila (I used Casamigos Reposado; their silver might be even better)
  • .75 oz vanilla vodka (VANILLA VODKA, BRAD!)
  • 1.5 oz pineapple juice
  • 2-3 dashes 18•21 Japanese Chile & Lime Bitters
  • honey sea salt, dosed with sriracha salt
  • lime wedge

Rim the glass with the salt.  Shake the other stuff with ice, pour.  Garnish with lime wedge.

It’s pretty tasty, although I think I’m going to try it again with an actual vanilla liqueur instead of vanilla vodka (VANILLA VODKA, BRAD!), either Navan or Tuaca.  In which case maybe I’ll rename it the Classy Brad.

Stay tuned for updates.


[1] I was not scandalized.  Especially since the day before I had sent him an escalating series of double-entendre photos of children’s toys while on a jaunt through Five Below, which I seem to have deleted from my phone, quel dommage.

[2] Speculations welcome in comments.

[3] Comment from Jobie in 3… 2… 1…

[4] Apollo probably, although his penchant was for more lissome boys.

New Cocktail: Who’s Your Bunny?

As you no doubt will recall, last Easter I was called upon to come up with a signature cocktail for our traditional Easter luncheon with friends, the result of which was the suspiciously tasty Jellybeanitini.

This year, on Saturday, I got the cryptic text message that I was to bring a cocktail called “Who’s Your Bunny?”  Well, all right then.

I figured I had two options: silly and sweet like the Jellybeanitini, or dark and mysterious.  I bought both chocolate caramel bunnies and Peeps as garnish for either eventuality.  But by the time I finished my rounds at Kroger, I was pretty sure it was going to be the latter, and in the end I used neither candy.

If I were a real blogger, I’d have photos of every step in the process, but I’m not and so I don’t.  I don’t even really have a good photo of the drink itself, and it’s too early in the morning to make one.  Although—and hear me out here—it occurs to me that I could pour one and not drink it.  Crazy talk, I know, but sometimes it’s radical thinking like this that moves humankind forward.

Hold on, I’ll be right back.


That was difficult, but I have prevailed.  And now…

Who’s Your Bunny

  • dipping chocolate (I used Ghirardelli’s dark)
  • chocolate sea salt
  • 1.5 oz brandy
  • .75 oz blood orange juice
  • .75 oz Amaro di Angostura
  • .5 oz creme de cacao
  • .25 oz Chambord
  • 2-3 dashes chocolate bitters

Melt the chocolate, then dip the rim of the glass into it.  Immediately dip a quarter of the rim in the sea salt.

If you’re feeling frisky, go download a Playboy bunny tattoo design and create a fabulous garnish by piping the melted chocolate into that iconic shape.  After it hardens, brush more melted chocolate onto the tips of the ear and where the eye should be; sprinkle with sea salt.  (When you’re piping the shape, extend it downward into two prongs, then glue it onto the glass with piped chocolate.)

Shake the other ingredients with ice, pour and serve.

The rabbit garnish is not really necessary and actually gets in the way of drinking it, so feel free to go with the simple elegance of the rimmed glass.

The drink is kind of sweet with bitter undertones, and the chocolate/chambord flavors lurk just in the background.

I’ve saved the photo for last, because this was outrageous.

Yes, that’s a disposable plastic wine glass. Sue me.  Here’s close-up of the bunny:

Pro tip: to transport these things safely, use painter’s tape to tape them to a tray.

Sportsball? Have some cocktails.

I am given to understand that there is some kind of sportsball thing this weekend, and that at least one of the “squads”—I think that’s the correct term—prefers dressing up in red- and black-colored clothing items.

I was also told that acquaintances of my Lovely First Wife were hoping to avail themselves of my cocktail expertise to create a cocktail for this event.  Since I was not available, I offer instead two cocktails that are red and black, created for another concern that prefers red and black.

The first one is a champagne cocktail; the second is a margarita.

Ms. Dawg

  • 1 oz. orange brandy, e.g., Grand Marnier
  • 1 oz. cranberry/pomegranate juice
  • 1 tsp. blood orange bitters
  • champagne/prosecco
  • lime
  • black sugar

Take a small slice of lime and juice the rim of a champagne flute.  Rim with black sugar.  Drop the lime slice into the flute.  Add the first three ingredients, then top off with champagne or prosecco.

Some helpful tips: Make your own Grand Marnier. (This is also useful.)  The blood orange bitters is amazingly available at Publix in the mixer section.  I haven’t checked locally, but both Michael’s and Hobby Lobby should carry Wilton Black Sugar.

Srta. Dawg

  • 1-1/2 oz. tequila, your choice, but for the love of Dionysus, don’t use cheap stuff
  • 1 oz. orange brandy, e.g., Grand Marnier
  • 3 oz. cranberry/pomegranate juice
  • black salt
  • lime wedge

Rim the glass with the lime wedge and black salt; dump the wedge into the glass with ice.  Pour all the other stuff into the glass.  Drink.

The combination of the salt and the sweetness of the juice is a very nice touch.

So there you go, cocktails for your sportsball event party thing.  Enjoy.

A new cocktail: The Viola Nouveau

I’ve already blogged about the creation of this drink over at, but for the sake of completeness I’m adding it here.

The Viola Nouveau

Stir with ice, pour into coupe, twist lemon peel and toss it in, and finish with 3–4 drops more of the bitters.

Violette Syrup (Regarding Cocktails, p. 20)

  • 2 oz gin
  • 1 oz violet syrup, such as Monin Violet Syrup
  • 1 oz simple syrup

It is quite tasty, with a lovely floral/citrus bouquet finishing with the slight bitterness of the gentian in the Suze.


[1] The owners of 18•21 Bitters suggested (via Twitter) naming it The Morning After because it starts sweet and ends in bitter regret or something, but then admitted they weren’t good at naming cocktails.

A new cocktail: The Smoky Topaz

Riffing off the Bijou cocktail, specifically my favorite variation using barrel-aged gin, I now have the Smoky Topaz!

updated, 12/12/16: I’ve made a small adjustment to the original, upping the gin and going for a balance between the yellow and green Chartreuse

The Smoky Topaz

  • 1.5 oz barrel-aged gin (Tom Cat preferred)
  • .75 oz yellow Chartreuse
  • .25 oz green Chartreuse
  • .75 oz Averna Amaro

No orange bitters in this one; maybe the next one.  Or cranberry bitters.  But definitely an orange peel for garnish.

New Cocktail: the Pear-ly Legal

I bought pear juice for a Vanilla Pear Margarita, and that was fine but not exciting.  So now I’m stuck with all this pear juice.  I grabbed the first thing to hand, and …

the Pear-ly Legal*

  • 1.5 oz pear juice
  • .75 oz apricot liqueur
  • .5 oz cognac

Shake with ice.  Garnish with a thin slice of pear, edged with cinnamon sugar.

This is quite tasty.


  • Thanks to Craig for the name!

A cocktail, of sorts

Okay.  Can we talk?

A couple of months ago I was in a liquor store frequented by my Eldest Son1 and came across a bottle of Feni.

Feni, as the label on the bottle has it, is “an exotic spirit 3x distilled from cashew apples and native to Goa, India.  Feni has a rich mysterious taste with fruity flavors of pineapple, citrus, and cashew apple.  Since the 1700s Feni has been popular in Indian cuulture. Feni is to Goa, India, just as Scotch is to Scotland and tequila is to Mexico.”

Well, I mean to say, wot?

Misreading the bottle entirely, I was intrigued by the idea of a “cashew liquor” and thought how much fun it would be to get in on it before all those trendy bartenders featured in emails.

Oh my.  The rich, mysterious taste of cashew apples, i.e., the fleshy part of the tree-spawn from which dangles the oh-so-tasty nut, is apparently an acquired cultural taste.  It’s pretty nasty, and I say this as a man who bravely assayed Hog Master liqueur.2

But I persevere.  This evening I decided it was time to face my fears and create something drinkable from this stuff.  The official website was of no help at all—it was rife with recipes involving sweet-and-sour mix and/or Sour Apple schnapps and/or Sprite.  I am not making this up.

So I breathed in the nose of the stuff, took a tiny3 swig, and came up with this:

A Feni cocktail

  • .75 oz Feni
  • .75 oz Butterscotch schnapps
  • .75 oz honey whiskey

Stir with ice, strain, garnish with lemon.

That’s the best that I could do.  It’s drinkable, but if I were you I’d make it with 1/2 oz portions instead.

Equal portions of limoncello and Feni are passable, if you like limoncello.


1 He is my only son, and hence my eldest.

2 Which I gave to my Eldest Son, who then pranked all of his friends with it.

3 tiny

Easy, fun, and SWANKY

Now someday it may happen that a victim must found you will find yourself hosting a little soirée for a friend’s book launch, and you will think to yourself how nice it would be to have those little plastic plates with the event  printed on them.  But you don’t have them, because a) they’re expensive; b) you only need a couple dozen, not 500; and c) you waited too late to even try to get them.

So you make your own:

Here’s how.

Open your favorite program to make posters/brochures/labels/bookmarks.  I use Apple’s Pages because it has everything I need.

Create a rectangle the size of your label (clear mailing labels are what we’re looking at here.)  I got 2″x4″ labels.  To make it easier to select the rectangles later, make sure that the rectangle is filled with white.  (If you leave it just blank, then you have to click exactly on the border to select the rectangle, and that’s going to be very tedious indeed.)

Now fill it with your text blocks and images and whatever.

One reason I like Pages is that when you’re in “canvas” mode, little blue lines pop up to show you when objects are aligned/centered/etc.

Pro tip: once you get your one label made to your satisfaction, select everything and GROUP THEM so that nothing slides out of place.

Here’s the critical step: flip that sucker horizontally:

Think about it: you’re going to be peeling these off and putting them on the bottom of the clear plastic plate.  You’re going to be seeing the label from the other side.


  • Duplicate your label across.
  • Align the labels.
  • Group them.
  • Duplicate that row and position the new row.
  • Measure your label sheet and position everything to land on the labels.  My labels were edge-to-edge, but if there are spaces between yours you will have to ungroup the row of labels to position each one.
  • Print on a piece of paper, then hold it up to the light behind a label sheet to see if you got the positioning right.
  • Adjust if necessary.

Once you get all the labels where they need to be, here’s the tedious part:

  • UNGROUP everything down to the level where you can select each rectangle and turn off the border line.  In Pages, it’s called the stroke of the object.  Your mileage may vary.  You’re doing this because you don’t need or want the lines, just the contents of the rectangle.
  • I wouldn’t delete the rectangles themselves, because one day you’re going to want to do this again and will need those borders.  If you’re clever, you can LOCK the position of each rectangle so that they won’t slide around by accident and all you have to do is duplicate the contents.
  • Print the labels.
  • Apply them to the bottom of your plates.

Have your soirée.

your host, the author, some rando

And don’t forget to make your bar as hipster as you can:

And bookmarks.  Don’t forget the bookmarks:


(The book, by the way, is Another Farewell to the Theatre, by Marc Honea, pictured above.  It is published by The Lichtenbergian Press and was designed by me.)

Cocktail update: Turff’s Curve

In the Lichtenbergian tradition, there’s a thing called Successive Approximation.  Some day you will be able to read all about it.  After your Abortive Attempt, you step back and do the Gestalt thing and figure out what’s missing.  Then you fix it.

So it is with the Turff’s Curve.  It was tasty, but it lacked depth.  So I futzed with it.

Turff’s Curve (improved)

  • 1.5 oz Calvados
  • .75 oz Swedish Punsch
  • .5 oz Velvet Falernum
  • .25 oz Averna Amaro
  • 3-5 drops 18.21 Havana & Hide bitters
  • lime slice

Much nicer.

The 18.21 Havana & Hide bitters were a discovery recently at the inestimable Decatur Package Store.  For such a small place, its selection for the cocktail craftsman is phenomenal.  Havana & Hide gives a dark flavor/aroma of cigars and leather—a nice complement to the sweetness of the main liquors in the drink.