Cocktails on The Moon

3 Old Men’s labyrinth with full moon

Last week I headed up to Tennessee to To The Moon, the regional burn there. It’s a long drive, longer if the driver’s side window of your 15′ rental truck explodes for no reason, necessitating a five-hour delay while the repair guy shows up to replace it.

Anyway, I promised a few hippies that I would post the recipes of the cocktails my camp (3 Old Men) served, so here we go. (I don’t have time to make each of these and take a photo, but I promise I’ll get around to each of them after I get back from Grand Canyon next week.)

Blandings In Cold Blood

First, an explanation/apology. I felt last week that I was a bit discombobulated in getting my act together to make it to the burn, and if we needed any proof, here it is. The cocktail I served at the burn was not the Blandings, but one called In Cold Blood. I have no idea why I thought it was a Blandings.

  • 1 oz rye
  • 1 oz sweet vermouth, Carpano Antica preferred
  • 1 oz Cynar (bitter artichoke amaro)
  • lemon peel
  • pinch of salt

It’s rich and bitter, one of my favorites — which makes not getting the name right even weirder.

Rose-Colored G

One  of mine. Takes a little prep, but worth it.

  • 1 1/2 oz gin, preferably an old tom
  • tonic water
  • hibiscus-infused dry gin
  • allspice/tiki bitters
  • lime slice

Soak a couple of tablespoons of dried hibiscus flowers in a pint or more of dry gin. It should be a rich ruby color and should take about 45 minutes – an hour. Strain and store.

Make a gin & tonic, leaving room at the top of the glass. Drop in the lime slice. Carefully pour a little hibiscus infusion on top of the ice, forming a pretty layer of red floating on top of the G&T. Dribble 4–5 drops of the tiki bitters on top of that.

This is a spectacular cocktail, especially effective at Christmas. Tart and spicy.

Smoking Hot Molly

I invented this one at the behest of one Molly Honea for her 25th birthday.

  • 2 oz bourbon, preferably rooibos-infused
  • 3/4 oz Ancho Reyes liqueur
  • 1/2 oz creme de cacao
  • cherry wood smoke

Infuse 750ml of bourbon with 3 tablespoons of loose rooibos tea for about an hour. Strain and store. (While not strictly necessary, the rooibos will add a smoky note to the drink.) Likewise, smoking the cocktail with cherry wood is not required but boy will it bump the cocktail up several notches!

The chocolate of the creme de cacao comes through first, and then the ancho chile pepper takes over on the finish. A very fine cocktail, if I do say so myself.

Semele’s Flame

Yes, I just invented this one last month.

  • 2 oz (60ml) Metaxa (I used the 12-star)
  • ¾ oz (25ml) lemon juice
  • ½ oz (15ml) honey
  • ⅛ oz (5ml) mezcal
  • honey/sea salt rim (mixture of granulated honey and sea salt)

Smear honey around 1/4 of the rim of a martini glass. Dip it in the honey/sea salt mixture.

Add the 1/2 oz of honey to a shaker. (Instead of trying to scoop the honey out of your jigger, use a tablespoon and scrape it from there. 1 tbsp = 1/2 oz)

Add the other ingredients and then stir to dissolve the honey. Add ice, shake, and strain into the martini glass.

Besides being a showstopper in its preparation, this drink is one of the best I’ve ever invented. Without the honey/sea salt rim, it’s a little too sweet, but that rim really makes it work.


My fellow Lichtenbergian (and Old Man) Turff sent me this recipe several years ago, and I thought what you’re thinking now: banana liqueur? What the fupp? Trust me.

  • 2 oz bourbon
  • 3/4 oz banana liqueur
  • 1 dash Jack Rudy bitters
  • orange peel

This drink goes down easy, and the banana flavor is actually tasty and not gimmicky. Try it — you’ll like it.

Thyme & Tonic

Another one with an involved prep, but worth it.

  • 1 1/2 oz thyme liqueur
  • tonic water
  • sprig of fresh thyme

Infuse 3–4 tablespoons of fresh thyme sprigs in a 750 ml of neutral spirit, like vodka, for three weeks until it’s a rich olive green. Strain and set aside. Make a cup of simple syrup by boiling 1 cup of water with 1 cup of sugar until the sugar dissolves. (You might try experimenting with brown sugar, etc.) Mix simple syrup into the thyme until it’s just sweet enough. Don’t oversweeten it!

If you’re going to be making a lot of infusions, you will appreciate the simplicity of an infuser like the Alkemista Alcohol Infuser: It’s expensive, but there’s no easier way to infuse and then strain your stuff. No more cheesecloth or coffee filters! Also, it holds 950ml, which, if you’re batching a lot of cocktails, is a good size. Other available infusers with the same design are smaller and less expensive, so if you don’t need 750ml of an infusion, one of those will work just fine.

Otherwise, the cocktail is simply a gin & tonic with thyme instead of gin. I took this to the burn thinking I’d get some reactions and suggestions on how to improve it, but everyone who had it remarked on how refreshing it was, so I suppose its very simplicity is a bonus.

Have fun!