The Gingerbread Cocktail

December 20th, 2010

My wife and I had the opportunity to visit the Terrace Lounge at Pebble Beach a few weekends ago, and to our delight they had a menu of delicious sounding Christmas-inspired cocktails. One of the drinks that stood out was a concoction called the Gingerbread Martini (I’ll call it the Gingerbread Cocktail since the drink isn’t technically a variation on the Martini). I had wanted to provide a recipe for a great holiday drink on this blog that Cocktail Renaissance readers could enjoy this season, and this cocktail was just the thing I was looking for.

The Gingerbread Cocktail is a delicious, sweet drink that’s perfect for holiday parties or quiet nights spent at home by the fire. I bet that even Santa would prefer the Gingerbread Cocktail over the usual glass of milk…so help the jolly man out on his journey this year…we all know the reindeer do the driving anyway!

Here’s how to make it:

1 1/2 oz. Bailey’s Irish Cream
3/4 oz. butterscotch schnapps
1/2 oz. Goldschlager cinnamon schnapps
splash of milk
crushed cookies for the rim of the glass

If you’re making this drink for a number of people just multiply the proportions and use 1/4 oz. of milk per drink as the base proportion of that ingredient.


The first step is to rim a cocktail glass with cookie crumbs (some Christmas sugar cookies will do the trick). Take a few dabs of simple syrup and coat the outside rim of the glass. The simple syrup will act as the glue that binds the cookie crumbs to the glass (this is in place of the usual fruit juice that would act as the glue since there is no fruit garnish for this drink). Dip the coated rim into a saucer or small plate of cookie crumbs and try to evenly distribute the crumbs around the rim of the cocktail glass.

Cookie Crumb Rim

Now that you’ve prepared the glass, it’s time to make the drink! Fill a mixing glass with ice. Pour in the Bailey’s, butterscotch and cinnamon schnapps and the splash of milk. Stir the mixture until the outside of the mixing glass is cold, and then strain the mixture into the rimmed cocktail glass. You can even add some ground cinnamon to the top of the drink to further enhance the taste.

The Gingerbread Cocktail

Now that’s a tasty holiday cocktail! Enjoy, and Merry Christmas!

The Sazerac

December 6th, 2010

This cocktail is right up there with the Old Fashioned as far as my list of favorite drinks goes. The Sazerac is the classic New Orleans cocktail fashioned with two key ingredients that come direct from The Big Easy: Peychaud’s bitters and Herbsaint. The base of the drink is rye whiskey, but these two New Orleans-made modifiers give the drink the kick and taste that make it a distinct and aromatic wonderland of flavor. That’s right…a wonderland.

Sipping a Sazerac makes me think of huge river boats gliding along the Mississippi, and crowded gambling halls and saloons in mid-19th century New Orleans. The air of adventure that people must have felt at that time and place would have been astounding; seated at the edge of the American frontier but also at one of the busiest port towns providing access to trade along a bustling river into the heart of the country.

The Sazerac was born into a booming, fast-paced environment, but it needs to be paid the slow, careful attention of a connoisseur. Even the busiest person, when drinking this cocktail, is sure be thrown back into a pause, wanting to understand the complexity of the drink by taking each successive sip slower than the last. It’s the only way to truly be transported back to that burgeoning time in American history, and the only way to enjoy the drink that witnessed the rise of New Orleans in it’s own big easy way.

Here’s how I make the Sazerac:

3 oz. rye whiskey
1/2 oz. simple syrup
5 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
A cap-full of Herbsaint
Lemon peel

I like to use a brandy snifter as the glass, but an old fashioned glass will also work. Chill this glass in the freezer while you prepare the drink. Pour the rye whiskey, simple syrup and Peychaud’s into a mixing glass or shaker (without ice) and stir to combine.

Remove the drinking glass from the freezer and dash the Herbsaint into the glass. Swirl the glass around to coat the sides with the Herbsaint. Dump out any excess liquid when you’re done.

Now pour the whiskey, bitters and sugar mixture into the glass. Peel the lemon, coat the rim of the glass with the oils of the outside of the lemon skin and drop the peel into the glass.

And there you have it…the Sazerac:

The Sazerac

Just writing about it makes me want one for myself! Enjoy making yours!

The Pegu Club

November 18th, 2010

This cocktail first appeared in the 1920’s and was the signature drink of a club of the same name located in Rangoon, Burma. Not sure whatever happened to the original Pegu Club, but they sure invented a killer combination with this cocktail. Not too sweet, and not too sour…the triple sec and lime create a nice balance while the gin holds down the base. I think the standard garnish on this one is a lime, but I’ve also heard of grapefruit being used. I didn’t have either so I made one with two maraschino cherries. Here’s the recipe:

2 oz. gin
1 oz. triple sec
1/2 oz. lime juice
2 dashes Angostura bitters

Combine the ingredients in an ice-filled shaker. Shake until cold and pour into a chilled cocktail glass.

The Pegu Club

And here’s the addition of the cherry garnish which actually turned out to be pretty tasty!

With Garnish

The Changeling Cocktail

November 11th, 2010

The Changeling Cocktail

Alright, back in full action with this cocktail creation of mine (a variation on the proportions of the Preakness) that can rival any classic low ball drink on the rocks. I’d suggest sticking with the proportions given below to get the cleanest version of the drink on the palate. The bourbon comes through fine but the Benedictine and vermouth give the drink enough balance to make it go down easy.

While you’re enjoying the Changeling take notice of how all the ingredients have their place in the sequence of each sip. The lemon is immediately apparent in the aroma, the bourbon is initially strong but it fades into the sweet vermouth and bitters and leaves the Benedictine to linger after you’re done. As you can probably tell…I’m a big fan of this one. Here’s how to make it:

2 oz. bourbon
1/2 oz. Benedictine
1/2 oz. sweet vermouth
2 dashes of Angostura bitters
Lemon peel

The Changeling Cocktail

In an ice-filled low ball glass, combine the ingredients in the order given above. Stir the ingredients until cold, and then drop the lemon peel directly into the drink. Enjoy!

The Changeling Cocktail

The Remedy

September 8th, 2010

I bought a bottle of Chambord, the French raspberry liqueur, the other day. Having never tried the liqueur before, I wanted to make a cocktail with it that would appeal to both Erica and I (something sweet, but still a hard cocktail with a kick). I hadn’t found a cocktail that contained Chambord that I really wanted to try which made me to want to create a new concoction to try my hand with this unfamiliar ingredient. The result was the cocktail that Erica dubbed, the Remedy.

In order to stick to my goal of “sweet, with a kick”, I used white rum as the base of the drink, and decided to add equal amounts of triple sec (Cointreau) and Chambord as modifiers which gave the cocktail a fruity taste, but left the palate clean. The rum gave the drink the kick, but also worked well to accent the sweetness of the Chambord. I also threw in 2 dashes of Angostura bitters to raise the complexity level of the drink and scale the sweetness back a little, but this addition is optional depending on your taste.

Here’s how to make it:

2 oz white rum
1/2 oz triple sec
1/2 oz Chambord
Angostura bitters
(optional, but no more than 2 dashes)
Orange peel

Shake the liquid ingredients (including the bitters) in an ice-filled shaker until cold. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and drop the orange peel into the drink.

The Remedy

Enjoy the Remedy!

The Stinger

September 2nd, 2010

This is very simple cocktail, but very easy to make incorrectly. There are two keys to making a good Stinger: one, go easy on the creme de menthe, and two, use a good brandy (or cognac). Since the brandy takes up the majority of the drink I’d advise using a higher quality brandy (no room for bottom shelf liquor here). The creme de menthe can easily overpower the drink, so definitely experiment to find a balance that suits your tastes. Otherwise, you might be gulping down a fresh and minty abomination.

I’ll say right out that this is not one of my favorite cocktails (I think it has something to do with the taste of mint), but it is an old classic (originated in the late 19th century) so it’s definitely worth covering. I think I’d just prefer a glass of brandy to tell you the truth, but here’s how to make the aptly named Stinger…adjust the amount of creme de menthe to suit your taste:

2 1/2 oz. brandy
1/2 oz. white creme de menthe

Combine the ingredients in an ice-filled shaker and shake until cold. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

The Stinger

The French 75

August 26th, 2010

This classic World War I cocktail was created in 1915 in Paris at Harry’s New York Bar. It was named the French 75 because drinkers thought the libation was so powerful that drinking it was like being shot by a French 75mm howitzer. Well, I don’t exactly know what that feels like, but this cocktail definitely packs a punch. Depending on the proportion of simple syrup to lemon juice you prefer, you can make this one sour or sweet, but I’d suggest starting off with a 1:1 ratio. The Here’s how it goes:

1/2 oz. simple syrup
1/2 oz. lemon juice
1 oz. gin
(preferably brut or extra brut)
Lemon peel

Pour the first three ingredients listed in an ice-filled highball glass. Add the Champagne until the glass is full. Stir, and add the lemon as a garnish.

The French 75


The Golden Cadillac

August 19th, 2010

This is a somewhat obscure cocktail in both name and content, but it’s a tasty one nonetheless. The Golden Cadillac doesn’t have a typical base liquor; instead it uses a mixture of creme de cacao and an Italian liqueur known as Galliano, which draws its primary flavoring from aniseed and vanilla. The chocolate flavoring of the creme de cacao, matched with the anise and vanilla of the Galliano make the Golden Cadillac a sweet cocktail treat. I like to think of it as a liquid snack.

Here’s how to make it:

2 oz. creme de cacao
1 oz. Galliano
1 oz. cream

Pour the ingredients into an ice-filled shaker, and shake until cold. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

The Golden Cadillac

Apparently, Poor Red’s in the small town of El Dorado, California is famous for their Golden Cadillac. They are also supposedly the largest consumer of Galliano in the world. I definitely plan on making my way to the bar there in the near future to partake of one of these sweet libations. Enjoy!

The Preakness

August 17th, 2010

There’s no doubt that the name of this cocktail is based on the Baltimore leg of the Triple Crown, but all we really know about its history is that it was first concocted and dubbed the Preakness sometime in the first half of the 20th century. The mix of ingredients recalls the basis of some classic cocktail recipes, such as the Manhattan (with the addition of the Benedictine and lemon).

It’s easy to envision this drink being enjoyed in the early 1900’s by racegoers at Pimlico on the day of the Preakness Stakes – the thrill of a close horse race, putting money on the line for that chance at beating the odds, and sipping a clean, well-composed cocktail as thousands of people cheer for their favorite.

Unfortunately, if you attend the Preakness today, you won’t find this cocktail being served. Since the 1970’s the official cocktail of Preakness has been the Black-Eyed Susan (named after the state flower of Maryland) and it is a very different cocktail from the Preakness, but one that definitely holds its own. I’ll cover that recipe in another post, but for now, here’s how to make the Preakness cocktail:

2 oz. bourbon
1 oz. sweet vermouth
Dash of Benedictine
Dash of Angostura bitters
Lemon peel

The Ingredients

This drink is technically supposed to be made in a cocktail glass, but I like mine built in a low ball. Fill a low ball glass with ice. Pour in the ingredients in the order given above and stir gently. Cut the lemon peel and drop it in the drink.

The Preakness

I enjoyed this cocktail while my wife and I watched the new episode of Mad Men the other night. I could just see the people of that era (and those before them) attending the races at Pimlico and having this cocktail. The Preakness was definitely the right drink for the occasion…especially with this awesome glass that I used. We just got these low balls from a friend of my mother-in-law who has had them since the 60’s! You’ll definitely being seeing more of these sweet retro glasses on this blog as we dive further into the world of cocktails. Enjoy your Preakness and go watch Seabiscuit!

The Gin Rickey

August 9th, 2010

Refreshing. The word describes what a good cocktail should be, and the Gin Rickey is the embodiment of refreshment. I’m enjoying a Gin Rickey as I write this and it is certainly the perfect drink for a summer day. Don’t be afraid of it if you’re not a fan of gin; it’s not overpowering. All of the ingredients in the Gin Rickey work together to create an incredibly “drinkable” drink. The lime juice balanced by the inclusion of a touch of simple syrup provides the perfect combination of sweet and sour, while the gin and club soda provide a balance of dry and wet that make this cocktail appealing no matter who’s enjoying it.

The Rickey can really be made with any base liquor, but the Gin Rickey has been, by far, the most popular over the course of the 20th century. The Rickey was created in the 1880’s by a Washington, D.C. bartender named George A. Williamson, at the request of a congressional lobbyist, Colonel Joe Rickey, by adding lime to his regular cocktail of bourbon and tonic. As the addition of lime to the base liquor/tonic combination continued, the version of the drink based on gin gained popularity and became the Gin Rickey.

Here’s how I make my Gin Rickey:

2 oz. gin
1/2 oz. lime juice
Club soda
Dash of simple syrup
2 lime wedges

The Ingredients

Coat the bottom of highball glass with simple syrup. Fill the glass with ice. Add the lime juice and the gin. Fill the rest of the glass with the club soda. Stir the drink.

Stir after building

Add the lime wedges. And there you have a beautifully crafted Gin Rickey.

The Gin Rickey

Enjoy this refreshing Rickey during a beautiful summer’s day…in fact, have two if you’d like!