Issue No.032 “Tails from the Bookworm” Siddhartha





ome  years back I was introduced to a Buddhist teacher in NY, Pema Chodron.  Her teachings center around attachment or “shenpa” , working in the fashion industry at the time there was a lot of that going on, I lusted after jobs,pairs of shoes, people I wanted in my life and paychecks , I was a fledgling capitalist , but what I discovered through of all of this was that I didn’t feel any better or different by attaining any of it.  It was all just empty nonsense. I can’t say  I was a good student but meeting Pema and listening to her words put me on a very different path to the one I was on,  yoga also helped in my meditation of the present moment and the middle ground rather than the highs and lows of past and future. Now don’t think I’m some perfect zen creature who wakes up and lights Nag Champa and chants Om before my first bowel movement ( too graphic?) , because I am so not, I still have bouts of  intense nuttiness  and constantly search for more peace in my life, in fact have just been dealing with a couple of months of self doubt and ennui when it came to work and I remembered both Pema’s words and the words of my ex roomie who is a Nietzsche lover, the only moment that exists is now, this very second, everything else is unimportant . On my quest for re-centering,  I searched out a couple of books that were instrumental in clearing my head in the past, Clarissa Pinkola Estes “Women who run with the Wolves” which may show up in later posts and Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha .

Siddhartha is the story of a privileged young man born to highly respected Brahmin in India who decides that he needs to find enlightenment in his life by first following ascetics who eschew all attachment to everything including food and clothing , then a student of Gotama the Buddha , a student of desire and lastly he becomes an apprentice  of a humble ferryman . The story is set some six centuries before the birth of Christ so when using this story as a starting point I hope you understand my imagination is in full force when it comes to any kind of libatious creation, one thing I do know  is the kind of flavors Siddhartha would have enjoyed , heady spices and floral notes for sure but the rest is purely circumspection  .

The Chosen one

Everyone knows Siddhartha,  he is destined for greatness because he has mastered all the rituals and wisdom of his religion at an early age. His village is idyllic, and Siddhartha seems to live an enviable life. His father is a Brahmin, a religious leader and esteemed member of the community. Siddhartha seems well on his way to following in his father’s footsteps. What he does not see in his father’s life though is complete fulfillment even after reading all the scriptures he feels his and his father’s existence is  mechanical , unbalanced and not whole, for him this has to change .

My thoughts on the drink that followed , since Siddhartha is looking to feel rooted and whole I thought I would include  earthy and sweet carrot juice as the main flavor , scented with one of the main spices in Indian cooking , cardamom , keeping it bright  and balanced with a bit of Aperol.

Earthly delight

2 oz carrot juice

1  1/2 oz gin

3/4 oz Aperol

3/4 oz lemon

1/2 oz simple syrup

2 dashes scrappy’s cardamom bitters

photo and Art direction by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Add everything to your shaker with 5 ice cubes and shake for 4-5 seconds , strain into an ice filled glass , garnish with whatever is seasonally available, pea tendril in spring, or parsley flowers in summer.

Barefoot in the Grass

One day a group of Samanas,wandering mendicant priests pass through Siddhartha’s city, the Samanas are starved, half-naked, and must beg for food, but only because they believe enlightenment can be reached through asceticism, a rejection of the body and physical desire. He decides to leave his comfort and safety behind and follow them in his quest for finding balance .

Ok, so I know these guys would probably never touch a drop of alcohol , so I figured  the next treat  could be either boozy or booze free, cherries that are bountiful at this time of year felt like the right choice for a shrub, I snagged a pound of black republicans from my local Farmer’s Market, sweet, tart and floral all in one juicy package. Then I cheated, yes I do that a lot ,by coming up with my own version of 20 minute tonic water.

Cherry Tamarind shrub

4 oz of tamarind paste soaked in 1 cup boiling hot water and strained through a chinoise ( reserve water from soaking for tonic water below)

1lb black republican cherries, pitted ( or farmers market cherries, the ones in stores pale by comparison in the flavor department)

1/2 cup organic cane sugar

1/4 cup of banyuls vinegar

mash cherries and tamarind together with sugar in a screw top jar, add vinegar and stir. Screw on lid and let sit in fridge for about 5 days, stirring daily for first couple of days. When ready strain off liquid through your trusty chinoise cap and bottle , keep some of the solids to the side.

Cheater’s Tonic

1 cup of water reserved from tamarind soaking

1/8 oz gentian liquid ( Nature’s Answer is my favorite) instead of cinchona

1/4 oz rosewater

1/4 cup simple syrup

1/2 teaspoon of citric acid

Mix everything together and add to either an ISI siphon or a Twist and Sparkle device, charge with C02 and serve immediately

Stone Free

1 bar spoon cherry shrub solids

1 oz cherry shrub liquid

2 oz manzanilla sherry ( optional)

4 oz cheaters tonic

photo and Art direction by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Build in glass, start with shrub and pulp, add ice and sherry if desired, top with cheaters tonic , garnish with whole cherry and curry leaves for that festive touch.

New Sheriff in town

Three years pass and Siddhartha feels no different, then a rumor reaches him that an enlightened one, Gotama the Buddha who has overcome the suffering of the world and brought his chain of karma to an end . The Samana’s are skeptical but nothing can sway Siddhartha from seeking out this Buddha fellow. He is accepted by Gotama as a spiritual pilgrim and is anxious to learn true enlightenment.


Sweet Neem

1 1/2 oz mezcal ( vodka and gin also work well)

3/4 oz coriander &  curry leaf simple syrup ( I used my immersion circulator and cooked 1 quart of syrup with 1/4 cup coriander seeds and 30 grams of curry leaves at 55 degrees C for 1 1/2 hours,  conventional steeping takes about a day, infuse the same amounts in boiling water then turn into a simple syrup once steeping time is completed)

3/4 lemon juice

1 oz dolin blanc vermouth

3 dashes scrappy’s firewater bitters ( more consistent than muddling hot peppers but they can be subbed out if you prefer )


photo and Art direction by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

add everything to your shaker tin with 5 ice cubes and shake for 6 seconds , strain into a rocks filled glass, garnish with curry leaves and chilli flakes if you want extra kick.

Lust for Life

Something however is still not connecting for Siddhartha, he confronts Gotama about his doctrine and questions how can one embrace the unity of all things, as Gotama asks, if they are also told to overcome the physical world? He also points out that Gotama reached this state of Nirvana without any kind of teaching and is not convinced that this is the correct path for him, so he decides to leave and go on a quest to learn from himself , find himself , he also realizes that he is truly now by himself which puts him in  a state  of awakening. He wanders alone for a time looking at the world through new eyes, then one day finds himself in a city where he meets the beautiful Kamala, an elegant  courtesan , he is transfixed! He attempts feebly to seduce here but she rejects him on the grounds that he is not wealthy and has nothing to offer her. She recommends him to her a friend a successful merchant and asks that he increase his wealth by working with this businessman. Over time Siddhartha becomes more accomplished and richer than the merchant, at hit point he revisits Kamala in a second attempt to seduce her.

What kind of delicious delight would he present to Kamala as a form of love potion? When I think of love  ripe sweet strawberries and roses come to mind, inspired by Barman Jeffrey Morgentahler’s book I decided to create a potion called ” tequila poor mi amante” or tequila for my lover, strawberries are infused in tequila, I took it a step further and added rose geranium leaves.

Tequila por mi Amante

1 pint ripe strawberries, the farmers market ones are way better ( of course) than store bought

1 750ml bottle of reposedo tequila

20 grams of rose geranium leaves

add everything to a large screw top jar and let sit for a week, the tequila will draw out the flavor from the berries , the berries sadly will  become useless and tasteless so don’t bother to save them . Once ready strain off tequila and store either in a cleaned jar or sealed bottle.

Rosewater foam

1 oz alwahdi rosewater

2 oz egg white

12 oz bottle Timmermans strawberry lambic ale

1 1/2 oz simple syrup

add everything to you ISI and charge with 2 N02 chargers, store in fridge till ready to serve.


On the Wings of Desire

2 oz Tequila por mi Amante

3/4 oz red verjus

1/4 oz lime juice

3/4  oz simple syrup

3/4 oz  amontillado sherry

2 turns of fresh pink peppercorns

photo and Art direction by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Add everything to your shaker tin with 5 ice cubes and shake for 6 seconds, strain into a chilled glass and top with a generous helping of the rosewater foam, garnish with berry and rose geranium leaf

This is this, that is that, that is all there is 

Kamala excites Siddhartha, she teaches him how to enjoy his physical body and exploit his senses, but she is not in love with him and he not in live with her, she uses his instruction for financial gain which considering she’s a courtesan is not surprising. From her,  Siddhartha learns much that is useful in the world of time, including how to live happily in the moment and induce it to yield its fruits. Some Twenty years pass and he realizes that this life he has been living seems only a diversion from his path to enlightenment, he realizes it cannot continue forever and distraught leaves the city without a word. He finds himself by a river and contemplates ending his life in it, as he sits by its banks the sound of OM reverberates through his body, he becomes transfixed by the river and vows never to leave its side. His next decision to find work by the river leads him to meet a humble ferryman, the every day man , Siddhartha is fascinated that this man exudes such unattached enlightenment and yet strong connection to the river, he surrenders himself to the ferryman and follows his example in leading a life of calm fulfillment and wisdom, the river teaches him that time does not exist only the present moment. Siddhartha can now see that all life is unified, just as the river is in all places at one time, everything and everyone is connected, it is here that he finally finds true enlightenment.

What to drink for a hot day on the river and something for the everyman , for me a banana slushy sounds like just the trick…using banana rum, and the food staple of the humble brown rice to make a milk.

Brown rice milk

2 cups of brown rice toasted on a sheet tray or in a large pan till golden.

1 container of rice milk

1 container of unsweetened almond milk

grind toasted rice in a food processor till it resembles a coarse grind, add this to a container with rice and almond milks and using an immersion blender blend till rice is finely ground. Let sit for 24 hours in the fridge and them strain off the liquid

Banana rum

An old favorite of mine…

6 ripe bananas

1 cup brown butter melted

1 liter white rum

mash bananas with hot brown butter till bananas smell caramelized. Pour over rum and let sit for 12 hours. Strain off liquid then place in fridge, this allows the fat to separate form the liquid which can then be scooped off only leaving its delicious flavor in the rum.


Banana the Republic

2 oz banana rum

2 oz brown rice milk

1 oz saigon cinnamon simple syrup ( simple syrup that has been steeped with cinnamon powder then strained)

orange bitters to dash over the top

1 foot long piece of banana leaf



Form your banana leaf into a cone and fold the bottom portion over to seal the cone roughly, place the cone point down into a tall vessel of choice , I used a tin, a shaker tin would also work. Scoop in a generous amount of shaved ice ( I found an ice shaver at my local Japanese market for a few dollars and now can’t live without it) . In another tin add the rum, simple and milk and stir, pour over the shaved ice cone and dash over orange bitters, garnish with marigolds or carnations.

Issue No 031 “Tails from the Bookworm” Pride and Prejudice




any moons ago ,  I had a relative  try to fix me up with a wealthy farmer , also a distant cousin (!) I was turning into an old maid at 25 and I needed to be tamed and turned into a good little wife. It reminded me of the opening line from Pride & Prejudice “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune , must be in want of a wife” , I insisted I would only marry for true love or not at all parental units and societal norms be damned!

Pride and Prejudice is first and foremost a tale of one family’s struggle to marry off not just one but five daughters ,Elizabeth Bennet, the protagonist of this story  and  thought to be  based on Jane Austen herself, was ahead of her time she was known to have singular beliefs , to be uncompromising and stubborn as well as intelligent , witty and handsome, she was what one would call a strong woman .  These days the western world at least is filled with many such examples , thank fully we no longer have to wait for a dashing man on a horse to whip us up in their arms and wend us away to a make believe land of parties, dresses , dancing and a life lived on an overstuffed wing armchair. Lizzie Bennet of course would have been mucking in and getting her hem dirty rather than idling away as a lady of leisure ,  its because of her willingness to be a participant of life rather than an observer that she is one of my idols,we  have a lot in common ,  passionate, check, stubborn, check, willful, check, love getting my hands dirty, check, have no patience for nonsense , weakness, ignorance  and mediocrity , check all of the above.

During the story  we  also meet a cast of hilarious and wicked characters, Mr. Collins the ridiculous pastor, Miss Bingley the meddling aristo, Mrs. Bennet the reactionary , always in a tizzy mother, Mr. Wickham the opportunist cad and the pompous Lady Catherine De Bourgh. My solution to all this drama would be to feed them all a jolly good drink and in so thinking about what they may have enjoyed I took myself on a history lesson of drinks of the early Eighteenth century when the book is set, before Whisky and Vodka were widely imbibed spirits , the time when the Sangaree was in a fashion and a cobbler was fruit filled drink rather than a pastry topped dessert.

In the study with Mr. Bennet

At the start of the book we meet Mr.Bennet, father and husband to the Bennet ladies, he has to possess the patience of a saint or be able to switch off at will the drama of his household. Mr. Bennet  I would imagine as a gentleman of that time probably spent a good amount of time reading ledgers, talking to farm hands, meeting with the villagers and hiding from his wife . On such occasions I’d like to think of him in his study pottering around possibly reading but definitely with something libatious in hand , now remember whisky had not yet become a popular spirit, it was only once disease killed all the grapes and brandy production that whisky grew in popularity . Gents of the time drank Madeira, Arrack, port, sherry, wine, for Mr.Bennet I decided on a sherry cobbler ( forgive my inclusion of some more modern day mixers the purists amongst you). Sherry was drank extensively throughout Europe, its nutty flavor comingling perfectly with citrus and fruit, served tall on that new fangled stuff called ice it must have been a very refreshing change to room temp ports and wines. It is here in his study that we first meet Papa Bennet, his wife has barged in to demand that he go calling on the young  single gentleman Mr.Bingley , who has just rented the nearby stately home  Netherfield Hall , though this might sound like she’s being friendly  her ulterior motive is to get him  and his wealth matched to one of her daughters. Mr.Bennet would in be in dire need of some soothing refreshment by the end of his convo.  Without further waffling may I present…The Sherry Cobbler
The Cobbler
A Cobbler is usually a fruity drink served over cobble shaped ice, pellet ice is the preferred one of bartenders but bashed up half moon ice will do for home use, pellet ice can get a little pricey, bit is worth the splurge if you are entertaining.
The Gentleman’s  Home Companion
2 oz Oloroso sherry
1 oz lemon juice
3/4 oz maraschino liqueur
3/4 oz Battavia Arrack
1 teaspoon powdered sugar
3 dashes peychauds bitters
6 lemon verbena leaves plus one generous sprig
cherries for muddling ( I used homemade brandied cherries from last years crop)

beauty shot by the dashing Mr.Obrien-Smith

In a shaker tin, muddle powdered sugar, cherries and verbena leaves . Add everything else   plus a couple of ice cubes, shake for 5 seconds then dump into a glass of choice , pack full with ice and garnish with verbena sprig

Jane, Jane! Don’t get caught in the rain!

The next time we see the  clan Bennet the ladies are having a good old knees up ( dance) at the local town hall dance and its here that the dashing and rather shy  Mr.Bingley falls head over heels for Miss Jane Bennet the eldest of the five daughters. He is intoxicated by her beauty and demeanor and she too is smite in return. His BFF Mr.Darcy is another story, he looks like he has a bad smell under his nose,  could it be not enough deodorant in this room plus  lots of smelly socks after all that twirling around ? I don’t think its the smell that has him turning his nose up, it is here we first witness the prejudice of the books title, he comes across as being too hoity toity to be bothered with these dancing minions, it is only until he spies the lovely Elizabeth that he  bothers to take a second glance at anything . Cut to the next morning and Jane has received an invite to dine with Mr.Bingley’s sister Caroline ( who we later learn is a bit of a minx) . The sly Mrs.Bennet realizing its about to rain sends Jane off on horseback instead of safely in a carriage, she figures Jane will get soaked and need to spend the night and more time at the Bingley household, her scheme works like a treat , Jane catches cold and has to recuperate Chez Bingley nursed by the sweet Mr.B himself. Jane would be in need of a warming cuppa, so I whipped up this hot port Sangaree to give her some cheer….

The Sangaree

A Sangaree, is the  18th century precursor to the better known Sangria, named after the Spanish word for blood , Sangre. A Sangaree should contain wine, beer, port or madeira, lemon , sugar and either hot or cold water. In this case I used hot for Jane’s cold remedy. I made my trusty Jello stock cubes for that just add water instant experience .

The Loving Cup

28 grams of Knox unflavored gelatin

1  cup of fresh squeezed orange juice

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

1 cup madeira

1/3 cup  St. Elizabeth allspice dram

1 cup ruby port

2 cups blueberry or hibiscus tea

2 heaped tablespoons of brown sugar

sliced apples and black pepper for garnish

beauty shot by the dashing Mr. O’Brien-Smith


The trick to remember for any boozy jello shot is that 1/3 of your mix can be boozy and the remaining 2/3 should be a mix of juice or low ABV liquids, too much liquor and the jello will not set.

add the gelatin powder and armagnac/brandy and allspice dram to a bowl and allow the gelatin to bloom, meanwhile add red wine , lemon and  OJ to a pan with falernum and bring up to a simmer, once simmering take off the heat and pour into the bowl where the gelatin is blooming. Let sit for a couple of minutes and then stir in the sugar till dissolved.

Prepare your cube molds with a bit of vegetable spray which will help pop the Jello cubes out easily, wipe out any excess oil.  For the molds I usually us the Tovollo silicon 1″ cubes molds.

Pour the Jello mix into the molds and allow to set in the fridge for at least 6 hours .

Once ready to drink, boil some water and steep your fruity tea ( I like blueberry but hibiscus just as tasty). Take three cubes and places them in a cup with an apple slice and a twist or two of cracked black pepper. Pour over the hot tea and stir to dissolve the cubes, should take about a minute.

 Off to the ball at Netherfield 

Mr.Bingley by this point is so head over heels for Jane that he’ll agree to anything , so when the younger Bennet sisters insist he throw a ball he cannot refuse them, any opportunity he can get to be with his love. Mr.Darcy is also clandestinely planning to woo Miss Eliza, though as we know she’s a proud and stubborn young lass so his task ahead will not be an easy one. Mrs B is beside herself and can’t stop twittering on about favorable matches and imminent weddings , oblivious to Le Toute Monde her chatter is picked up by siss Bingley who sets about unravelling her brother’s tied and bound heart. Mr.Darcy meanwhile is intent on stealing some time with Lizzie so he asks for a dance, Lizzie politely accepts but the whole episode just seems to annoy her and she finds Darcy quite pompous , Darcy, obviously bowled over by her beauty and honesty  starts falling for our girl. When dreaming up this next drink I thought about the time period, the whimsy and romanticism of the early 18th century, the time of Napolean and in England  the Georgian  era, anything served as somewhere as grand as Netherfield would need to be fittingly pretty and whimsical,  for a large group  a punch is of course the best choice, fruity, light, refreshing and easily tarted up with flowers and trim.

The Punch

The classic 18th century punch  punch would have  contained water, citrus, alcohol and spice, as well as the secret ingredient  an Oleo-Saccharum, which is a mix of citrus oils and sugar, its easy to make but adds real depth of flavor to the simplest of punches.
The peel of 6 lemons
1 cup of cane sugar
1 cup of lemon juice
muddle the peel and sugar and let sit for half an hour so the oils have enough time to extract. Add the lemon juice the strain the liquid off and store till ready
Heartsease Punch

1 cup Brandy

1 cup lillet rose

1/2 cup velvet falernum

1 1/2 teaspoons honey

brandied cherries halved

grilled pineapple cut into 1/2″ pieces

heartsease pansies and leaves to decorate such as strawberry or mint

3/4 cup lemon peel oleo-saccharum

3/4 cup lemon juice

beauty shot by the dashing Mr.Obrien-Smith

Lightly muddle pineapple with falernum, add remaining ingredients and stir, the ice once you place it in the glass will provide your water component . The punch mix should be stored in a fridge to get it cold before serving. To serve add add to a punch cup, pour over a small ladle of punch mix and decorate .

Constant Companions

After the ball, we learn the Bingleys have decided to winter away from the hall and head back to London, Miss Bingley has managed to persuade her brother that Jane is not a good match for him or the family. In desperation Mrs. Bennet decides to send Jane off to London to visit with her aunt and uncle in the hopes she will bump into Bingly. At the same time Lizzie’s best friend Charlotte gets married off to a hilarious character and pastor who’s parish belongs to Darcy’s Aunt, with both Jane and Charlotte gone Lizzie’s life becomes quite boring as she spends her time reading and well, doing some more reading. So she decides to pay a visit to her friend and in so doing bumps into Mr.Darcy who has by this point fallen head long into love with Miss Elizabeth, at this point in  the story he irks her even more by proposing, what a preposterous thought, in this mindset sh of course refuses!  Lizzie later learns that Darcy is not such a meddling twerp and starts to see him as a real gentleman, ( for the full story you really have to read the book) At the same time the youngest Bennet sister gets  sent of to Brighton to entertain the regiment  . Lizzie returns and shortly after goes on a tour of the Midlands ( my old stomping ground) with the afore mentioned aunt and uncle ( remember who  Jane gets sent to visit?) They decide to visit Pemberley one of the grandest houses in Derbyshire and also coincidentally Darcy’s family home. Of course Lizzie bumps into him and meets his sister, their acquaintance quickly starts to turn to friendship and more as the visit continues . Meanwhile back in Brighton , Lydia, the youngest Bennet has eloped with the wicked Wickham and are living in sin, he hopes she has money that he can drain her of, she fantasizes of marriage and security , the news reaches Lizzie on her travels and she rushes back to the bosom of her family in an attempt to undo the pending scandal, Darcy, ever the gent goes galloping off on his steed to be the knight in shining armor and save the day. Mrs .Bennet at this point is having a nervous collapse, no amount of fanning or smelling salts seems to be doing the trick so I thought perhaps a drop of brandy right do the trick for this mother in  need of solace.

The Crusta

A crusta is a drink that has a sugar rimmed glass, most often a  classic crusta contained some for of brandy of armagnac. You have two choices on how to achieve your perfect crusted glass, pour a generous amount of sugar into a bowl bigger in diameter than the glass your drink will go in, you can  rim your glass with a lemon wedge and either sprinkle the sugar onto the surface or dip the gas into the bowl of sugar. Don’t over do the lemon rimming or you will end up with a sloppy crusta rather than a nice dry rim. Brandy is the traditional tipple after someone has had a shock or is in a nervous state.

Mother’s lil’ Helper 

1 1/2 oz Germain Robin craft method brandy

3/4 oz yellow chartreuse

3/4 oz lemon juice

1/2 oz pineapple gomme syrup

drop vanilla

3 dashes orange bitters

1 oz egg white

photo by the dashing Mr. Obrien-Smith

Rim your glass with sugar and set aside. In your shaker tin add all ingredients and dry shake for 5 seconds. Add 4 ice cubes and shake for a further 8 -10 seconds. Strain into your sugar rimmed  glass and garnish with a lemon twist.

The shades of Pemberley poluted.

Darcy succeeds, I mean he has the dosh and  pays off Wickham, forcing him to marry and make an honest woman of Lydia,( if you can call a fifteen year old a woman) . After ascertaining that Jane is truly in love and a good match , he  also gives Bingley the nudge to go and propose to her making both of them a quivering mess of  tears. Darcy meanwhile saunters off dreaming of his Lizzie and wishing she would be his. Later on that night Darcy’s aunt Lady Catherine de Bourgh shows up unannounced to grill Lizzie about Darcy’s proposal of marriage to her, and how dare she make her nephew fall in love. Lizzie, tells the old bird pretty much to buzz off and that if she decides she’ll marry whosoever she chooses to. Darcy hearing this news marches back over to the Bennet household to declare his love, love, love for her. Elizabeth accepts his second proposal and the book ends with both Bennett sisters happily married to the two honorable gents. For their wedding  cocktail I wanted to do a cross between the classic English Pimms cup and something with a celebratory ring to it, here a mix of cucumber, lemon balm , gin and bubbles.

The Fizz

A fizz is defined as a  drink that contains citrus and carbonated water, or in this case carbonated wine

The Longbourn Fizz

Rather than have a muddy brown Pimms colored fizz i thought i would add the Pimms and some cucumber juice to an ice cube tray instead to make Pimms cubes, I used the 1 ” square silicone trays from cocktail kingdom.

For the cubes:

1 cup cucumber juice

1/2 cup pimms

1/2 cup of lemon juice

1/2 cup simple syrup

stir everything together and pour into the ice cube trays, let set over night for best results.

For the drink:

1 1/2 oz bols genever

1 oz lemon,

3/4 oz simple syrup

1 oz Floc de Gascogne ( an armagnac grape based aperitif )

2 dashes celery bitters

strawberry slices for garnish and muddling

lemon balm for muddling  (mint will do if you can’t get lemon balm)

photo by the dashing Mr. Obrien-Smith

add a strawberry slice and  6  leaves of lemon balm to your tin and muddle with the simple syrup, add remaining ingredients and shake for 5 seconds with 2 ice cubes, strain into your ISI or twist and sparkle and carbonate . In a chilled highball glass add your pimms cubes, about 4 per drink. Pour over the carbonated cocktail and garnish with strawberries and a lemon balm sprig

Issue No.O30 “Tails from the Bookworm” Chinatown




here was something odd about the room, the lights were dim and the polished glass  tables were set with long sticks. Strange figures were painted on the light shades and on the menus , the kid sniffed the air heavy with garlic, onion and a whiff of aroma wending its way from the kitchen that she had never smelled before, this was new territory and it made her nervous. A small woman  in pajamas shuffled over and nodded politely at the gathered diners, pen and pad in hand. The kid stares at the menu, none of it makes sense! What does this mean?  How can something be sweet & sour and what are egg drops???  Oh, and why is this woman wearing jammas in a restaurant! This place is weird! The kid slithers down in her seat hoping to become miraculously  invisible. “What would you like miss?” Six pairs of eyes look in her direction, as she feels heat running up her neck. She scans the paper menu in her hand and shrugs, “C’mon love, we haven’t got all day , we’re hungry!” She slides down even further in her seat then flinches from the kick aimed at her under the table “Ummm, I’m not hungry” She blushes the shade of the silk lantern hanging above her head “Well you’ve got to eat something or there won’t be anything till breakfast” . Realizing the seriousness of the situation she was in, eat now or starve till morning, she chooses starvation  “not hungry” she mumbles then slips under the table hoping the fancy carpeted floor would just swallow her hole , she receives another kick under the table and hears a snicker “I don’t think she’s ever had Chinese food before” the words directed at the waitress ” any chance you can make her a ham omelette?” The waitress shakes her head and replies  solemnly “I’m sorry lady,we don’t make omelettes  ,  this is Chinatown!

The kid in question was myself, just in case you had not figured it out, I grew up in a Polish household raised primarily on sauerkraut , latkes kabanos  (dry sausage) and chicken  soup ( which we ate every single day) . My first outing to an actual sit down restaurant where a waiter takes your order and you don’t have to do the dishes when you finish eating , was at a Chinese restaurant, where instead of my omelette I was presented with a steaming bowl of egg fried rice with crisp english peas that would burst in my mouth when I bit them, it was sublime! I think it was my best friend’s birthday treat, her sister tormented me with  kicks under the table and rolling eyes, I was the Polak nit twit and they were better than me because they knew Chinese food. I wanted to punch her for making fun of me.

Times naturally have changed , I mean thirty some years have passed and thankfully I now  brandish  chopsticks with flair. Chinese food ranks up there as one of my favorite cuisines along with Thai and Japanese food, give me a bowl of eggy, crunchy rice or a cup of miso and I’m as happy as you’ll ever see this curmudgeon.  2015 in the Chinese horoscope is the year of the goat or sheep, I was born under that sign, stubborn , tenacious and the ability to chow down a mountain of food are all flags I fly with panache. I decided in honor of the Chinese New Year , February 19th, to explore one of my favorite movies ( yes I realize its not a book but it would have  made a rather splendid hard boiled crime novel a la Chandler or Hammett) . Set in Southern California amid the water wars and droughts (what’s new?) that took place in the early 20th century , the movie has everything ,there’s a smoking hot dame with a killer wardrobe, a dead guy, an evil father, a midget with a knife and lots of whiskey, what the film does not have is anything to quench the thirst on all those hot, parched days, there’s a mention of a Tom Collins  and iced tea but thats about it. So I figured I’d gather up a basket of foods the Chinese use to symbolize good luck and prosperity    ( lord knows some of the characters need a big change of fortune)  and whip up a few refreshing beverages to revive and keep these characters cool. Its also citrus season here in Socal so I made abundant use of our seasonal bounty too. Cheers and  Kung Hei Fat Choy!

Take 1 scene 1: Another stakeout

Enter our hero, J. J Jake Gittes, a hardened whiskey drinking Private Dick and ex LAPD. Jake is on the tail of  one Hollis Mulwray, chief engineer for the LADWP, according to his wife he’s been cheating and she wants hard proof so she can screw him for every penny! J. J has spent the day and part of the night in his hot automobile , driving from the Pacific ocean to the east side where he finally gets his proof, Hollis is shacked up with some hot little chica who can’t keep her arms from around his neck. What Jake needs to stop his mouth from feeling like sandpaper and his eyes from drowsily closing is this version of Duke Antone’s Harvey Wallbanger, featuring tangerines (which in Chinese culture symbolize good luck ; oranges represent gold and prosperity, a favorite addition to any Chinese New Year table) Galliano, jasmine  scented Gunpowder green tea and gin.

The Duke’s Punch

serves 12

1  bottle Aviation gin

1 liter of Jasmine gunpowder green tea, chilled

6 oz of  fresh squeezed lemon juice

12 oz of Galliano liqueur

12 dashes of orange bitters ( angostura orange works well here)

3 oz of simple syrup

1/2 oz vanilla extract

1 liter of tangerine or orange soda ( my favorite for this is Fanta)

3-4 tangerines segmented and cleaned of any stringy membranes

2 blood oranges sliced thinly on a mandolin

beauty shot by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

In a large pitcher or punch bowl add all of your ingredients except for the orange soda, add either one great big chunk of ice or 5-6  2 inch cubes to dilute and chill, store in fridge until ready to serve. Once ready, portion out ice in your glasses and pour over the chilled punch, top with an oz or two of orange soda and decorate with tangerines and oranges.

Take 1, scene 2: Chez Mulwray 

Jake gets back to his office thinking his job is done, all he can think of is a shot of scotch and that little blonde he met at the diner two nights ago. As he walks though the door he’s flagged by his two assistants, Mrs. Mulwray is back except this time its the real one. Jake realizing he’s been set up goes back to the water plant to confront Hollis and find out what the deal is, too late though Hollis is being fished out of the drink dead as a dodo! The only way to get to the real story is track down his lady wife.  J.J arrives at Chez Mulwray just in time to see the gardener looking at something shiny  in the Coi pond, curious Jake thinks but just then is distracted by Hollis’s wife, her silk blouse and riding breeches clinging to her, Jake gives her elevator eyes as his words and throat dry up. Evelyn Mulwray, a stunning beauty offers our man iced tea, Iced tea! Methinks not, I propose this  refreshing combination of Mezcal , lettuce juice ( lettuce represents rising fortune), aloe vera, and meyer lemon juice finished off with some tart wood sorrel.

Green Manalishi

1 1/2 oz mezcal

1 1/2 oz lettuce juice

1 oz floc de gascogne

1/2 oz aloe vera juice

3/4 oz meyer lemon juice

1/2 oz simple syrup

maldon smoked salt to finish

garnish with wood sorrel flowers and leaves.


beauty shot by Patrick O’Brien-Smith


In your trusty shaker add all ingredients except for salt and garnish. Add 4-5 ice cubes and shake hard for 8-10 seconds. Strain into a chilled double old fashioned or rocks glass, add a pinch of smoked malden salt and few wood sorrel leaves to finish  .

(note: wood sorrel grows in abundance in Southern cali, you’ll find it on your hike in the canyons or growing in your back yard, wood sorrel like sorrel is a sour grass and adds an incredible freshness to any drink or dish, I snagged some and planted it in my yard)

Take 1 scene 3: Murder, a midget and Lunch at the Country Club

After Jake meets with the grief stricken Mrs. Mulwray he suspects foul play, the smoking dame Evelyn has him hooked and he’ll do anything to bring her some peace , turns out Hollis was in trouble over some  missing water deal, JJ starts to investigate and heads back to the water and power headquarters where he’s met with double  trouble in the form of a security guard and his midget henchman monkey, Jake trying to escape gets his nose slashed by the ape. Cut to the next morning and Gittes receives news at his office , Hollis and Evelyn’s father were once business partners so he figures who better to visit to collect dirt on the stiff. Pops comes in the intimidating and powerful form of Noah Cross, he meets Jake at his Country Club and thinks he can sway Jake away from his water investigation by offering him double to search for Hollis’s missing girlfriend.  The old man plies him with wine hoping to soften him up. No dice old timer! Jake don’t work that way! Cross may have faired better had he tried getting our man JJ one of these delicious smashes, pineapple mixed with coconut scotch  ( the golden pineapple symbolizes prosperity , luck and fortune whilst dried coconut at New year represents  friendship and unity) finish all this love off with a touch of Saigon  cinnamon .

Bol D’Or

1 1/2 oz of toasted coconut scotch ( see below for details)

3/4 oz cardamaro amaro

4-5 chunks of grilled pineapple

2 halved limequats

1/2 oz Vietnamese cinnamon simple syrup ( simple syrup that has cinnamon powder infused in it whilst still warm)

3/4 oz of lime juice

beauty shot by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Toss the halved limequats and pineapple chunks into your shaker tin, add the simple syrup and muddle pressing the oils out of the citrus, add the remaining ingredients and cracked ice and shake for about 5 seconds. Dump into a vessel of your choice and garnish with citrus leaves and a speared limequat.

(Note: Toasted coconut scotch, you will need 2 cups worth of shredded coconut that has been toasted in a medium oven for about 5-10 minutes till its partially nice and golden, toast too much and you will remove all of the yummy fatty oils that will fragrance your scotch. Add this to a container with a bottle of inexpensive blended scotch, such as Famous Grouse, stir and allow to sit overnight covered. If you are using the sous vide method to infuse , add your ingredients to a bag, seal it up and sous vide at 55 degrees for 1 1/2 hours, strain immediately and store in an airtight container).

Take 1 scene 4 :Alone at last

….and action!  J. J now has some serious questions for Hollis’s ex , he meets up with the dame for dinner where he gives her news of Papa Cross trying to throw him off track , he needs Evelyn’s help to get more answers , but first she needs a drink, stiff and  thirst quenching, something to loosen her lips and spill some beans, she orders a Tom Collins..and Cut! so how to make a Tom Collins more , well interesting, its fine and all but its essentially a boozy lemonade which if thats what you want then great, but how about trying it with preserved or fermented citrus. My version here uses preserved kumquats ( the literal meaning of the word is golden and as we heard earlier the color gold is very auspicious for new year celebrations in China, Kumquat plants are given as gifts) , coriander tincture, Old Tom gin , a touch of chili and club soda.

Tom Tom Club

2 oz Old Tom gin such as Haymans or Ransom ( if gin is not your bag substitute a good vodka)

3/4  oz lemon juice

1 oz simple syrup

1/8 oz of coriander tincture ( soak one cup of coriander seeds in a bottle of Everclear spirit, strain after 2-3 days of soaking)

1 dash Scrappy’s firewater bitters

2-3 preserved kumquats ( see below for recipe)

sliced kumquats and a pinch of Szechuan pepper for  garnish

club soda to top off

beauty shot by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Muddle the kumquats with the simple syrup in your shaker, add remaining ingredients and 4-5 ice cubes, shake hard for 8 seconds and dump into highball glass, top off with soda. garnish with kumquat or citrus slices and a pinch of ground Szechuan pepper.

(Note: Preserved Kumquats, you will need a large jar, a couple of pounds of kumquats halved , kosher salt and in this case a cup of coriander seeds. Line the bottom of your jar with salt, layer kumquats and salt with coriander seeds until they’re all used up, finish with a heavy layer of salt and seal the jar. Leave for a couple of weeks, when ready to use rinse off the kumquats to eliminate some of the salt)

Take 1 scene 5: Bedtime stories

After dinner , Jake and Evelyn decide to do some in depth investigations , they head to the Mar Vista Inn retirement home to get a personal look at these land owners who are stealing all the water, whilst there they are confronted once more by the switchblade toting midget and his big dog handler, the exchange must have been exhilarating since our hero and his beauty end up in each other arms and finish the scene in bed , smoking, literally!  Early in the morning Evelyn hears some news and has to leave tout suite, but not before telling JJ that her papa, Noah Cross is dangerous and he should stay away. He follows her to a house where she seems to be holding Hollis’s piece on the side hostage . He confronts her and she confesses the girl is her sister. I would think after this all nighter Jake would be ready for a choice beverage , since the time of day is dawn might I suggest this version of a tequila sunrise….

Rise and Shine

1 1/2 oz tequila

3/4 oz strega

1 oz pomelo juice ( pomelos again signify prosperity)

1/2 oz simple syrup

1/2 oz lime juice

pinch of smoked salt

3/4 oz aperol to line the bottom of your rocks glass

blood orange slice and pink peppercorns  to garnish

beauty shot by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Shake everything but the Aperol in your shaker with 4-5 ice cubes, shake hard for 8 seconds. Meantime layer the Aperol on the bottom of your chill glass and place on top one large rocks cube. Strain the shaken drink slowly onto the rocks cube so as not to disturb the Aperol, you want this drink to look layered. Finish with a pinch of peppercorns and the blood orange slice.

Take 1 , scene 6: Forget it Jake, its Chinatown!

The next day JJ get an anonymous tip off that leads him to the original but fake Evelyn’s place where he finds not Evelyn murdered and the cops waiting there for him in hiding, the cops suspect the real Evelyn of this murder and Hollis’s, he pressures Jake to produce Mrs. Mulwray or he’s going down himself. Jake returning to Evelyn’s mansion discovers whats shiny in the Coi pond, a pair of glasses he assumes belonged to Hollis, he confronts Evelyn about her sister to discover she is both her sister and daughter and guess who’s the daddy? That’s right evil papa Cross. Jake decides to help the ladies escape their predicament and spirit them away to Mexico, he suggest they hide out in her butler’s pad in Chinatown. Before she leaves she lets Jake know the eye glasses belong to her father implicating him as Hollis’s  and not Evelyn’s killer, you follow? JJ summons papa Cross to the mansion once the ladies have left to settle his deal for the girl. Sadly things go awry , the movie ends with Evelyn shot in the eye and papa Cross  whisking the sister/daughter away. Jake tries to help but his buddies stop him with the words “forget it Jake , its Chinatown”.

This sad ending makes me think that only one drink could soothe a man’s soul . The Sazerac has a special place in my heart, its the perfect ending to a day, a meal, a story. This one gets a little extra aroma from the Chinese Five spice syrup thats paired with this lovely Taiwanese ( yes thats correct) whisky ,this particular one aged in ex bourbon barrels. Its quite stunning in a cocktail as well as by itself.

The Chinatown

2 1/2 oz Kavalan ex bourbon barrel aged whisky

1/2 oz cynar

1/2 oz Chinese 5 spice simple syrup ( use same method as for cinnamon simple syrup above)

1/2 oz absinthe ( such as Kubler or Pontarlier)

1 pomelo twist

beauty shot by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Pour your absinthe into a chilled glass, swill around  coating the inside of the glass and pour off a little if theres is too much in the glass. Set aside. In your mixing glass add the whiskey, sugar and Cynar plus a handful of ice cubes. Stir for about 20 seconds then strain into your absinthe rinsed glass. Finish off with the pomelo twist.


Issue No.029 Tails from the Bookworm “Into the Woods”


ow many stars is the sky? Thats how much I love you….

My Granny’s favorite goodbye, goodnight, birthday, christmas , easter, weekend, just for the hell of it blessing ( though she spoke no English so in Polish  it would go something like “ile światła na niebie tyle mam serce dla ciebie”. Gran was a bit unhinged to tell the truth, am not sure if it was the war and watching the Nazis destroy everything around her or she was just born that way, regardless she inspired me in my potion making ( her skills at healing with plant life were legendary in our hamlet) showed me how to stitch like an elf using invisible thread and how to grow anything from scraps ( though I’m still trying to figure out how to propagate my married crush by planting his toenail clipping in the dirt).We were born on the same day, I was equal parts her baby and her little devil that she tried saving using both the Catholic sword and stories of bogeymen that lived around the corner just waiting to pounce on my naive, unsuspecting self.

Her  bed time story characters ranged from the evil  Baba Yaga who lived far in the woods and stood on chicken legs waiting to eat little girls or the big bad wolf  in  Little Red Riding Hood who also lurked in the dark forest waiting to gobble up pretty much anything that moved, including Granny. My Gran grew up in a small village in eastern Poland and am sure her Gran would tell her to stay away from those forbidden woods, so for her I would imagine she was carrying on the torch of fear and dread. Stay close to Grannie little girl, don’t wander off the path chasing butterflies or shadows of dreams that will just end up hurting you or worse eating you for dinner !

Christmas eve always brings to mind my Gran, the holiday that she went all out creating the  feast of fishes, laid out on the table followed by a mountain of sweets and snowballs made from Advocat followed by a couple of her terrifying bedtime stories.  In honor of  my Gran Caroline  I chose to loosely re-tell  Grimm’s tail of Little Red Riding Hood, her love of Granny so profound that she was brave enough to venture into the woods to bring the old girl comfort , joy and good tidings….

How Red got her name and a stranger on the road

‘Once upon a time there was a dear little girl who was loved by everyone who looked at her, but most of all by her grandmother, and there was nothing that she would not have given to the child. Once she gave her a little riding hood of red velvet, which suited her so well that she would never wear anything else; so she was always called ‘Little Red Riding Hood.’

…….One day her mother turned to her and said “Little girl , I need you to take this basket to Grannie, she is very ill so I have packed it with  a few of her favorite things , red wine , spiced cake and crisp red apples , they will surely revive her and make Grannie feel well again” So Little Red grabs her velvet cape bundled up tight against the wind and sets out with the basket of goodies into the woods. Little Red is a brave girl, obviously much more than her mother , she thinks nothing of the perils that lie in the woods, Grannie always told her “stay on the path Little Red and God  will keep you safe” so she stays on the path and heads deep into the dark , black forest. “Snap!!!” she hears a branch break, “Oh its nothing” Red thinks but then she hears another and another and it suddenly occurs to her someone is following her. “Who’s there?” she calls into the shadows. A voice as oily as…well oil  replies “nothing to worry your pretty little head with, I’ve just come to keep you safe . Prey tell what brings you to these neck of the woods my sweet?” Red peers into the dark , she can’t see yet her eyes still not adjusted to the light ” Come out” she asks ” Oh I dare not ” the voice replies “I’ve not eaten in a week and I’m all skin and bones, I’m afraid I’ll frighten you”. Little Red lets out a chuckle “Me scared, I’m not afraid of anything or anyone, I have cake in my basket that I’m taking to Grannie’s house , I’m sure she won’t mind if I break off a piece to give to you…here” she outstretches her hand . The Wolf, for it is he, smells an enticing blend of raisins , cinnamon, apple and little girl flesh that intoxicates him in one whiff, his nose leads him hungrily out into the pathway. Sidling up to Red he slowly licks the cake from her hand   and becomes a wolf possessed, he has to find a way of finishing off this tasty morsel. “Where is Grannie’s house?” he asks coyly, Red points down the path ” There’s a quicker way for sure if you follow the Nasturtiums , you’ll get to Grannie’s in no time , this path winds far too much and will take  too long” Red sighs ” I can’t step off the path, Granny says not to” she eyes the flowers growing in the bush and thinks to herself how lovely it would be if she could take some flowers with her. “For certain its safe little one, fear not I will stay close and keep you safe from harm”.

Little Red convinces herself she’s safe so off she skips into the thick of the wood picking flowers and  leaves to make Granny the prettiest bouquet. Meantime Mr.Wolf bounces ahead on the path to Grannie’s house full of energy knowing that this night he sleeps sound with his belly full…..

With all the flowers Red has picked there’s plenty for both a handsome bouquet and refreshing drink methinks , something light and floral with a hint of peppery green, Nasturtium leaves are both grassy and lightly peppery , a great complement to say  Irish whiskey or even gin , a  pick me up drink for Grannie or the wolf.

The Pepper Pot

1 1/2 oz Irish Whiskey

1 oz juiced Nasturtium leaves ( add a 1/4 cup cold water to a packed cup of leaves and blend on high, strain)

3/4  oz  fresh lemon juice

1/2 oz St.Germain

1/4 oz simple syrup

a dash of orange bitters

a handful of torn sorrel leaves ( add a lovely woody tartness)

Nasturtium leaves and flowers for garnish

photo by Patrick O’Brien-Smith, still life by the Cup


Add everything to your shaker with 4 ice cubes and shake for 25 seconds, strain into a cup or tin filled with crushed ice and garnish with a straw , leaves and flowers.

The Secret Knock

……Red feels like she’s spent hours in the woods and gotten no-where, she’s a smart girl though she knows how to read the time by the angle of sun in the sky ( you know Granny taught her) the sun appears to be past noon and heading close to 3 of the clock, Red picks up her basket and bushel of flowers and heads back to the path, the wolf no-where to be seen, Red wonders where he could have gotten to and why he thought off the beaten path would be quicker than the path itself. She skips along and finally smells the wood smoke coming from the Hunter’s lodge, he regularly builds a fire where he smokes all manner of beasties, in the clearing just beyond the bonfire she sees the familiar thatched  roof of Grannie’s  red cottage , she can’t wait to help Grannie polish off those apples and cake , picking flowers makes for thirty work.

That sneaky wolf meantime has broken into Grannie’s, gobbled her up in one go and dressed himself in her nightgown ,  bonnet and glasses he just has time to stuff himself under the covers when he hears a knock on the door. Red knocks their secret knock  ( I admit I had a secret ring on the doorbell with my Gran) but no reply comes from within the house , so Red knocks again, this time she hears a feeble “come hither my child .I’m too weak to move” . Red enters into the dark cottage ” Would you like me to turn on the lamps, its so so dark, I’m not sure I can see you Granny darling” Granny creaks back ” no my dear, keep it dark I have a horrible migraine, but come closer I can smell such delights in your basket, I am ravenously starving!”

She heads to the kitchen and locates a couple of plates and glasses then approaches Grannie’s bed where she is huddled deep under the covers, only a bonnet and glasses poking out from the blanket….and a giant pair of ears, Red’s hand shakes slightly as she pours the wine “My what big ears you have ” the wine sloshing out onto the floor….

Little Red’s mum would have been much better served in making something easier to transport on the journey to Grannie’s house than spillable wine, my suggestion would be these spiced wine Jello stock cubes similar to the Toddy cubes I made last year. Don’t be afraid they’re pretty easy to make it just takes a bit of time to prep so if you have the time try them out.

The Loving Cup

28 grams of Knox unflavored gelatin

1  cup of fresh squeezed orange juice

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

1 cup armagnac or calvados

1/3 cup  St. Elizabeth allspice dram

1 cup red wine such as pinot noir or Syrah

2 cups blueberry or hibiscus tea

1/3 cup cinnamon and clove simple syrup ( simple syrup that has been infused with ground cloves and Saigon cinnamon

2 heaped tablespoons of town sugar

sliced apples and black pepper for garnish


photo by Patrick O’Brien-Smith, still life by the Cup

The trick to remember for any boozy jello shot is that 1/3 of your mix can be boozy and the remaining 2/3 should be a mix of juice or low ABV liquids, too much liquor and the jello will not set.

add the gelatin powder and armagnac/brandy and allspice dram to a bowl and allow the gelatin to bloom, meanwhile add red wine , lemon and  OJ to a pan with spiced syrup and bring up to a simmer, once simmering take off the heat and pour into the bowl where the gelatin is blooming. Let sit for a couple of minutes and then stir in the sugar till dissolved.

Prepare your cube molds with a bit of vegetable spray which will help pop the Jello cubes out easily, wipe out any excess oil.  For the molds I usually us the Tovollo silicon 1″ cubes molds.

Pour the Jello mix into the molds and allow to set in the fridge for at least 6 hours .

Once ready to drink, boil some water and steep your fruity tea ( I like blueberry but hibiscus just as tasty). Take three cubes and places them in a cup with an apple slice and a twist or two of cracked black pepper. Pour over the hot tea and stir to dissolve the cubes, should take about a minute.

I love the idea of these cubes because you can make a batch and have them in the fridge for a week or so, they’re also a bit of fun . Perfect with a slice of Christmas pudding or  Stollen cake.

Dinner is served

…..Little Red looks at Grannie’s hairy hands as she takes the cup of hot wine and slice of cake, “But Granny, what big hands you have!” The Wolf’s eyes twinkle ” All the better to hug you with my dear ” Red stares  alarmed as “Granny” devours the cake and almost eats the cup too, saliva dripping down her chin. “But Granny what big eyes you have ” the wolf licks his lips ” All the better to see you with little one”. He reaches for the rest of the cake and stuffs it into his ever widening jaw. ” But Grannie” Red quavers ” what big teeth you have”  The wolf springs out of bed and bellows ” All the better to eat you with!!!” Red squeals and screams in the hopes the Hunter will hear her but the big bad wolf gobbles her up whole without even stopping to breath.

He throws himself back down on the bed a small belch escaping as he pats his firm round  and still wriggling tummy, he looks around for something to wash it all down with, cake, apples , wine , little girls and red velvet make for a heavy meal….

My suggestion for Mr.Wolf would be something celebratory ( he did just now eat better than he probably has in months) and something with a powerful digestif, my friend over at Addiction Mixology makes an Aigre-Doux ( agrodolche in Italian or sweet and sour in Inglese) a combination of strawberries , vinegar,  wine and spices are infused then aged in oak cask for six weeks, similar to a shrub but with more complexity , the vinegar makes this an excellent digestif helping to break down the heavy fats in humans and butter in spiced cake.

The Red Slipper

1 1/2  oz Old Tom Gin such as the one from Anchor or Barr Hill

1 1/2 oz Quady winery’s Elysium (  a mix of black muscat grapes with rose and litchi notes)

1 oz Addiction Mixology’s Aigre-Doux ( called Casanova’s naughty nightgown)

1 oz fresh beet juice

1 oz soda water

2 dashes Peychauds bitters

for garnish candied olives recipe just featured in LA Magazine , and apple slices pickled in beet vinegar ( you know the stuffing the jar)

photo by Patrick O’Brien-Smith, still life by the Cup

add everything to your tin with a couple of ice cubes to chill down, pour via a funnel into your twist & sparkle , soda stream contraption or ISI gun, if using the ISI or Twist & sparkle  charge with one C02 capsule and dispense into your chilled champagne flute, if using a sad stream just press the button to charge.  Garnish with candied olives and fruit slice.

Sweet revenge and time for tea

…..As the wolf lies back his head sinking into the pillows he starts to dream he’s a factory worker stuffing little girls into giant pie crusts , still wearing Grannie’s bonnet in his dream it keeps slipping over his eyes , he grumbles and moves it out of the way , the scene in his head has changed and he’s standing next to a table axe in hand ready to cut open the wriggling pie, the bonnet slips once more only this time when he moves it out of his eyes the giant pie is now chasing him axe in hand swiping at his bushy tail! He wakes with a start beads of sweat pouring down his back , he tries pushing himself off the bed but something is pressing him down, the bonnet is still covering his eyes, his arms grow weak as he tries moving the cap off his head,the bonnet slips and he sees Little Red jumping out of his belly tugging Granny by the hand , he gets weaker and weaker and the last sight he sees before drifting off this mortal coil  is the tall, strapping Huntsman, cleaver in hand dripping with blood readying himself to chop of his tail to fashion into a hat!

Red and Granny slump to the floor, the wolf’s belly was hot and they were squished in there with bits of cake and red wine, Granny exhausted passes out from the ordeal, but quickly the Huntsman is at hand, he mixes her a woodland potion , a life giver, a corpse reviver , she springs back to life and runs to the kitchen to make them all tea and they all lived happily ever after!

The Corpse Reviver cocktail became a morning tradition of revelers in the 1930’s, said to fix the body and put it back together again after  a night of merry making, there are a couple of versions out there that can be found in Harry Craddock’s Savoy cocktail bible, since its Christmas I thought I’d make a festive version using Pannetone as the main flavor. Pannetone in case you were wondering a traditional Christmas bread eaten in Italy, with candied orange peel, spices and raisins, Germanic countries have something similar called a Stollen and us Brits have this heavy concoction called a Christmas Pudding, to each their own, I love a slab of Pannetone . My drink is a play on a sidecar.

Abbra Cadavare

2 oz Pannetone infused Hine brandy ( I chopped up one large Pannetore and infused it into a bottle of brandy for 24 hours, strain and rebotttle)

1 oz lemon juice

1 oz pierre ferrand dry curacao

2 drops of vanilla

2 drops of orange bitters

a splash of egg white

optional sugar rim as garnish


photo by Patrick O’Brien-Smith, still life by the Cup

Add everything to your shaker with 4 ice cubes and shake for 25 seconds, strain into a chilled coupe glass and slurp, its as simple as that!




Issue No.028 “Tails from the Bookworm” Ode to Autumn


Illustration by Mara Piccione


eason of mists and mellow fruitfulness,O’ where art thou?

Here stuck in the monotony of constant sunshine ( it gets to you trust me !) I dream of crashing thunderstorms and wild , tempestuous winds, I yearn for the smell of rotting leaves and damp air , of bundling up and bonfires. If I’m lucky I’ll get to wear a scarf for a couple of weeks sometime around December but even then its a flimsy pretender to the throne of big King woolly muffler. I admit to being a sufferer of  seasonal affected disorder, except in reverse, a recent trip to Seattle gave me a quick fix of torrential rain and Autumnal air, but I want more !

So in my nostalgic quest I was  reminded of this  sumptuous poem  by John Keats, the Times writer Rosie Schaap posted it on her FB page and it took me back to a dreary classroom where I read Keats’ Ode back in secondary school , wait, scratch that! We were force fed Keats amongst other fine writer’s works , I say force fed since my English Lit teacher  had no idea how to make learning palatable and exciting  , he was pretty dour , he was  beige and homogenized  in both the way he dressed and the way he spoke , his voice reminded me of the whaa whaa whaa from Charlie Brown so for me it was a chance to sit in the back of the class against the radiator and catch up on some zzzz’s . Thankfully my mop of hair that resembled Cousin It from the Adams Family made it difficult to discern what was going on behind it.  It wasn’t until Art school that I started to appreciate the finer points of classic English poetry and novels when I began my search for inspiration , I studied fashion and was mentored for a moment by Dame Vivienne Westwood who  used a ton of historical detailing for her incredible creations. the writing that accompanied these period details sucked me in, the romance and lusciously constructed sentences wrapped me up in wonder and massive amounts of day dreaming .

In this issue of the Cup I decided to play “lets pretend its Autumn”  my favorite season that makes me homesick for both my elected home NY and the wilds of Derbyshire where I grew up , the land  of Mr.Darcy , of rolling hills, horse chestnut trees full of conkers and those  stormy, wintery nights, as good a reason as any to pick up a book and a wee dram  to warm your cockles. I take my cue for ingredients from Keats’ Ode itself or as close as I can get to them in sunny California.

“Conspiring with him how to load and bless with fruit,  the vines that round the thatch-eves run”

The Cape Gooseberry,  more akin to a tomato than a berry, grows on a vine like plant similar to the tomato, but the  tart/ sweet ratio of flavor veers more toward sweet with touches of savory  flavor too. One of the cooks at Ink restaurant, Nick Russo ,  asked me if I’d tried making a drink with Cape Gooseberries, sure I’d eaten them but never tinkered with them. So I ordered some and the drink below is the result…in essence a cross between a cobbler and a margarita

Love in a Cage

1 1/2 oz silver tequila

1 oz dry oloroso sherry

3/4 oz lemon juice

1/4 oz Suze gentian aperitif

1/2 oz agave syrup

8-10 cape gooseberries halved

a couple of sprigs of lemon thyme

pinch maldon smoked salt

photo by Patrick O’Brien-Smith, still life by The Cup

Muddle the gooseberries and a bit of the thyme with agave and lemon, release the juices but don’t destroy them totally. add the rest of your ingredients and ice to a shaker and shake with 4-5 ice cubes for 20 seconds. Dump into a glass of your choice and garnish with lemon thyme sprig.


“And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core; To swell the gourd and plump the hazel shells”

High Five

1  oz aged rum such as ron Zacapa or Matusalem

1/2 oz of Smith & Cross Jamaican overproof rum

1/4 oz absinthe

1/2 oz madeira

1 oz lime juice

1  healthy teaspoon of unsweetened pumpkin puree

1 oz coconut milk

3/4 oz of Chinese 5 spice syrup ( simple syrup that has been steeped with 5 spice powder for a 3-4 hours then strained off)

you can leave the drink at that or  I decided to get fancy and add a coconut foam and Fernet dust for a bit of fun.

photo by Patrick O’Brien-Smith, still life by The Cup

add everything to a shaker ice 4 ice cubes and shake for 25 seconds, strain onto crushed ice and garnish with a straw and something festive like a whole anise seed pod. If you choose to use leaves, make sure they are 1) not toxic and 2) have been washed properly with hot water.

Bonfire of the Vanities

A take on an Old Fashioned but using Maurin quina as the sweet element and chestnut infused rye whiskey

2 oz roasted chestnut infused rye whiskey such as Old overholdt or Rittenhouse ( the chestnuts need to be roasted first or their flavors will not come out) infuse by either sous vide using Polyscience immersion circulator for 1 1/2 hours at 55 degrees C, or  conventionally for 2-3 days in a dark , draft free closet.

3/4 oz Maurin Quina

3 dashes Miracle Mile Cherry bitters

2 dashes Miracle mile Chocolate Chilli bitters ( my ketchup)

2 orange twists ( one for muddling).

2-3 brandied cherries either luxardo brand or homemade using this recipe from Melissa Clark

photo by Patrick O’Brien-Smith, still life by The Cup

In  a chilled old fashioned glass, add 1 cherry, 1 orange peel, your bitters and your Maurin quina, plus a splash of soda water ( it helps all the flavors co-mingle) muddle gently to release the oils and juices from the  fruit. Add your whiskey and a couple of good hunks of ice, stir about five times with a bar spoon.

If you’re feeling  like being a bit more experimental, do the first muddling step in glass. In a small narrow necked carafe or bottle, pipe in a generous amount of cherry wood tobacco smoke using your Polyscience smoking gun  ( if tobacco is not your thing try smoking a cherry vanilla or Rooibos tea instead), seal the bottle with a cork until ready to pour in your whiskey. Add the whiskey to the smoke filled bottle and cork again, swirling the liquid around the bottle. Now add to your muddle mixture in the glass and stir.

garnish with a flamed orange peel and a couple of cherries.

Note: for all you purist Old fashionistas out there, there is a version of an OF made  with cherries but the only state that still serves this “old fashioned ” Old Fashioned seems to be Wisconsin, the cherries add a nice sweet tart element .


“And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep, steady thy laden head across a brook; Or by a cider-press with patient look, Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours”.

A Roll in the Hay

Toasting hay in an oven, brings out its earthy and sweet grassy notes, it can then  be used to infuse either a spirit or syrup, or nestle some eggs into the toasted hay, the shells are porous so any scent will permeate and perfume the eggs inside , the whites can then be separated off and used to make a whipped  meringue foam or incorporated into a sour. I used it two ways here, for meringue and infusing Calvados. Again I picked up this toasted hay idea  from Jedi master Voltaggio at Ink. You can buy hay at any feed supply store or sometimes at pet stores. The style of drink is somewhere between a Fizz and a sour.

1 1/2 oz Le Compte 5 year Calvados that has been infused with toasted hay ( I used the sous vide method for rapid infusion , conventional infusing works well too but takes about a day to get full extraction)

1/2 oz Madeira

3/4 oz  honey syrup

3/4 oz lemon juice

1 oz fresh pressed pear juice

3 dashes orange bitters

1  oz of pear or apple cider ( the fermented version )

for the meringue : nestle whole raw eggs in their shells in a bowl of toasted hay for a day or so in the fridge . When ready to use separate whites from yolks and add the whites to a shaker tin with a 1/4 oz of honey syrup and 1 ice cube , shake vigorously to aerate the whites and whip up into stiff peaks, this can then be spooned over the top of the drink. Alternatively whip them in an ISI gun with 1 No2 charger


photo by Patrick O’Brien-Smith, still life by The Cup

Add all liquid ingredients except for cider  into your shaker tin with 4 ice cubes and shake for 20 seconds, strain into a vessel of choice and pour in the cider, spoon over the hay meringue and garnish with a pear leaf or herbaceous sprig.


And to round this all out a fiery smoky version of a margarita , something to warm you up after trudging through those crisp Autumn leaves.

California campfire

2 oz of del Maguey Vida mezcal

1 1/2 oz of yellow pepper juice

3/4 oz lemon juice

3/4 oz simple syrup

3/4 oz yellow chartreuse

3 dashes Scrappy’s firewater bitters

pinch maldon smoked salt

red pepper garnish


photo by Patrick O’Brien-Smith, still life by The Cup


Add everything except the salt to your shaker with 4 ice cubes, shake for 20 seconds and strain into an ice filled rocks glass, garnish with a pinch of smoked salt and sliced red pepper.


Coming up next….Into the Woods

Issue No. 027 “Tails” from the Bookworm “The Sun Also Rises”


“One generation passeth away and another generation cometh, but the earth abideth forever.

The sun also ariseth and the sun goeth down and hasteth to the place where he arose.

The wind goeth toward the south and turneth about unto the north;it whirleth about continually,and the wind returneth again according to its circuits.

All the rivers run into the sea;yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come,thither they return again.”

emingway, the master of deep dark stories, war hero and legend as well as legendary drinker, Hemingway and his generation that endured the First World War and came out the other side darker and disillusioned and yet in some ways emancipated from the morals and traditions that their ancestors held so highly . The quote above from Ecclesiastes discusses our impermanence , the cycle of life-death-life, how everything that is returns to where it came from, it is also where the book gets it’s title from. WWI was the catalyst that made a good portion of the world examine this Zeitgeist, writers, painters, poets all wondering and exploring who are we, where did we come from, where are we going, a major theme in this story of the lost generation in The Sun Also Rises, who wander empty filling their time with partying, drinking, traveling , chasing after what they can’t have and searching for the unknown to make them feel whole again , no-one exemplifies this more than the main protagonist Jake Barnes.

In an alternate universe where the war had never happened, Jake would be considered a total stud, men want to be him and women want to be with him, but Hemingway decided to emasculate this poor chap who’s war scars are not only mental but physical too. After suffering a serious injury he is left impotent ( I think the one thing men fear most ) its almost cruel that papa doled out such a heavy burden on this poor chap, there’s not much else for him to do but to drink and hide himself in a glass of beer, brandy ,absinthe, wine and back to beer again, yes this guy knew how to hold his drink , and sometimes not, in every way but one the true man’s man . The other major theme for Jake’s character is his relationship with Miss emancipation herself Lady Brett Ashley, she nursed him through his war wounds then tears his heart to shreds all through the book , all because she can’t live a life without S.E.X.

So in following Jake through the book I decided to concoct drinks for him through various points in the story, there’s a lot of travel and back and forth, Paris, San Sebastian, Pamplona, Madrid and stop offs in between, Hemingway had a deep affection for Spain, along with fellow journalist Martha Gelhorn he covered the conflict of the Spanish civil war and became an aficionado of bullfighting, the flavors of Spain are my starting points in most of the drinks, from the saffron and fennel in Paella, cherries and chocolate in Basque country , to Jamon and sherry in Jerez.

Hotel Crillon, Paris

Its Five O’clock and I’m waiting for Brett, but she’s not here, I fill my time writing letters, they’re not very good letters but they’re on Crillon stationary so I hope that’ll make them better. At a quarter to six Brett still has not shown up so I head down to the bar to see George the bar-man, he fixes me the popular drink of the day a Jack Rose, I take a sip and give a deep sigh , where could she be?

The classic Jack Rose is made from applejack brandy, grenadine and lemon, simple and tasty enough but what if we tweaked the ingredients and gave it some complexity and Jake Barnes something else to think about other than the heart stomping “Lady” Brett.

Le Jacqueminot

1 1/2 oz Lustau Spanish Brandy de Jerez infused with black peppercorns for a couple of days ( 1/4 cup black peppercorns to 1 750ml bottle brandy)

1 oz Spanish rioja/tempranillo

3/4 oz pomegranite grenadine ( I used Wilks & Wilson)

3/4 oz lime juice

2 dashes peychauds bitters

two drops rosewater

1 drop vanilla

1/2 oz egg white

fresh ground black pepper

strawberry lambic ale for finishing

shot by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Toss everything but the ground black pepper and lambic ale into your shaking tin with 4 ice cubes, shake for about 20 seconds, and strain into a chilled coupe or martini glass, top with splash of lambic ale and finish with ground black pepper


Fishing in Burguete

It was a long walk and the country was very fine, but we were tired when we came down the steep road that led out of the wooded hills and into the valley of the Rio del la Fabrica. The road came out from the shadow of the woods into the hot sun. Ahead was a river valley.Beyond the river was a steep hill.There was a field of buckwheat on the hill. We saw a white house under some trees on the hillside.It was very hot and we stopped under some trees beside a dam that crossed the river. Bill put the pack against one of the trees and we jointed up the rods, put on the reels, tied on leaders and got ready to fish…..this is thirsty work and we hadn’t even begun!


A classic refreshing drink to partake in when you’re hot and parched is the Gin & Tonic, a drink that the Spanish have come to claim as one of their national drinks, sipped at lunch with boquadillos or at the beginning of a late late dinner. I’ve been playing with flavoring tonic water for a while, my most successful were a red pepper tonic where I used red pepper juice instead of water or my other favorite a pinch of saffron that gives that golden hit of yellow and intense, complex flavor.

One of the quintessential seafood dishes of Spain is Paella, rice flavored with saffron and fennel that is baked in skillets with a selection of seafood, mussels, clams, shrimp, calamari or whatever came fresh from the water that day, peppers and pimenton also imbue this dish with fruity and earthy flavors.

Tie me up, Tie me down

1 1/2 oz Bols genever gin ( maltier than a regular gin)

1/4 oz kubler absinthe

3/4 oz genepy

3/4 oz dolin or martini blanc vermouth

3/4 oz white verjus

for the saffron tonic

if you want to be adventurous you can make your own tonic syrup but you have to be very careful about the amounts of cinchona bark you put into the mixture, too much can make a person quite sick.

if you feel like cheating as I very often do, ( not from laziness more that I’m incredibly impatient) try this hack…

1 liter bottle tonic water

4-5 strands saffron

add saffron strands to tonic water and tighten bottle so you limit the bass that escapes, if you’re luck enough to have a CO2 tank at home and the carbonating apparatus that goes along with it then you don’t have to worry, and good for you! The Saffron infuses fast so don’t worry too much about time on this one


shot by Patrick O’Brien-Smith


For the drink

Build your ingredients into a mixing glass, add 5-6 ice cubes and stir for twenty seconds or so. Strain into a chilled collins glass filled with ice cube of choice, top off with the saffron tonic, and garnish with a long fennel frond and if in season some halved pea pods and a pea tendril make this drink really super pretty as well as tasty.

Fiesta of San Fermin, Bullfights and Pamplona…

“I leaned over the wall and tried to see into the cage. It was dark. Someone rapped on the cage with an iron bar. Inside something seemed to explode. the bull, striking into the wood from side to side with his horns, made a great noise. Then I saw a dark muzzle and the shadow of horns, and then, with a clattering on the wood in the hollow box, the bull charged and came out into the corral, skidding with his forefeet in the straw as he stopped, his head up, the great hump of muscle on his neck swollen tight, his body muscles quivering as he looked up at the crowd on the stone walls. The two steers backed away against the wall, their heads sunken, their eyes watching the bull.

“My god isn’t he beautiful?” Brett said

Bloody Mary/Bloody Bull

The Bloody Bull is a drink similar to a Bloody Mary but has the addition of beef stock, the Bloody Mary ( or Bucket of Blood as it was first called)has its origins in early 19th century Paris made in Harry’s Bar ,an American bar that had been shipped over to Paris and reassembled just in time to rehydrate all those thirsty expats who had decamped in the city around the time of Prohibition, also just after the Russian Revolution happened, Paris was flooded with that odorless , clear spirit called Vodka, that the bartender at Harry’s began mixing with tomato juice , salt, pepper and other seasonings. It quickly caught on with the American contingency as a hangover cure and was renamed sometime in the Forties as the Bloody Mary.

Rather than use beef stock to flavor my version I used a ham bone and some bacon fat, that I sealed in a vacuum bag with vodka and allowed gentle heat to do the rest. I’m also quite obsessed right now with making a clear drink that looks like water but packs a punch of flavors so instead of tomato juice I made tomato water, made by hanging pureed tomatoes in muslin over a container where the tomato water drips into, all the flavor of sweet ripe tomatoes without the chunky bits.

Jamon , Jamon

2 oz smoked ham and bacon fat washed vodka

2 oz tomato water

1 oz fino sherry

1 oz white verjus

good 2 pinches of maldon smoked salt

1 pinch ras el hanout

1 pinch pimenton espellete

3 dashes celery bitters

baby radish with leaves to garnish

For the tomato water

blitz 15-20 roma tomatoes in a vitamix, pour liquid tomatoes into a heavy bottomed pan and set on a medium heat until it starts to simmer and the pulp rises to the top of your pot. whilst this is happening line a large chinoise strainer with an even larger coffee filter and place over a pot or large pitcher. Once the tomato liquid has bubbled up, pour it into the chinoise strainer and allow the tomato water to drip through without agitating it. The yield should be about 2 quarts, store ing the fridge it will last a couple of days.

For the Jamon vodka

for those of you without fancy gadgets here’s a hack to achieve similar result to sous vide….

1 liter bottle vodka

1 ham bone ( your local butcher can provide and also chop in half if needed)

1 tablespoon smoked bacon fat ( a good excuse to make BLT’s, save the bacon fat after cooking)

1 large ziplock bag

1 ice cooler ( igloo will do, keeps ice cold but also hot things hot due to its insulation)

a long cooking thermometer

Add your vodka, ham bone and bacon fat to the ziplock bag, zip up the bag until almost closed, leave a small opening where you can squeeze the air in the bag out, if you don’t the bag will not sink the air keeping it afloat and the vodka will not infuse fully) once the air is removed seal the bag fully. To your igloo ice chest add 60 degree celsius hot water, insert thermometer and bag of vodka/ham. Close lid on chest, I’ve gone so far as to place my igloo in a box surrounded by a blanket ( no I did not sing it a lullaby ) The water temp can go down as far as 54 degrees but you will need to top it off with hot water once it starts to dip below 55, so have a kettle of hot water ready to go. Let the bag sit for a couple of hours, then remove and allow contents to cool off before straining out fat and ham bits. Pour vodka into a sealable container , put on lid and store in fridge for 3-4 hours until fat has frozen solid and is easy to scoop off. Strain vodka again then store in airtight container back in the fridge till ready to be used.


shot by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

For the drink

add all ingredients to a mixing glass with 4-5 ice cubes, stir for about twenty seconds , strain into a chilled collins glass filled with ice , garnish with a pickled or non pickled radish and a spindle more of smoked salt and pimenton. You can also garnish with pickled peppers or baby tomatoes, the choice is yours.


After Fiesta and back to Bayonne

“It was pleasant to be drinking slowly and to be tasting the wine and to be drinking alone. A bottle of wine was good company. Afterward I had coffee. The waiter recommended a Basque liqueur called Izzarra. he brought in the bottle and poured a liqueur glass full. he said Iazzarra was made of the flowers of the Pyrenees. The veritable flowers of the Pyrenees. It looked like hair oil and smelled like Italian Strega. I told him to take the flowers of the Pyrenees away and bring me a vieux marc. The marc was good. I had a second one after the coffee

Bayonne , a town that straddles the Pyrenees on one side of it Gascogny on the other the Basque region,( oh, no you thought I meant Bayonne NJ famous for its drugs, prostitution and mob influences as well as for producing Shaquille O’Neil) no the original French Bayonne is famous for its chocolate making, wine production and scenic vistas and is slightly more civilized. Vieux marc is a dessert brandy made from grape pomace similar to grappa, a great accompaniment to the classic Basque dessert of cherries, kind of like a cherry soup , officially known as Gerezi beltza arno gorriakin, mmm, yes long isn’t it? Imagine trying to say that after making friends with a bottle of wine and a couple of brandies. This cherry soup served with a dollop of fresh cream to balance out the sweet tartness of the fruit, all you need is chocolate curls and you’d have a liquid Black Forest cake…so I got to thinking

For my cherry soup I kinda sorta made a version of a Ramos Fizz crossed with an egg cream, but with a cherry shrub and Maraschino instead of lemon and orange flower water, and chocolate chili bitters with a dusting of chocolate powder atop, and to give it some base a touch of dry oloroso and topped off with soda.



1 1/2 oz bourbon

1 oz cherry shrub

1 oz dry oloroso sherry

1/2 oz maraschino liqueur

1/2 oz simple syrup

1/2 lemon

1/2 oz cream

1 oz egg white

3 dashes chocolate chilli bitters

1-2 oz soda water

For the cherry shrub

pit about a pound of cherries and let them cold macerate with 1 cup of sugar in the fridge for a couple of days, the juice should be drawn out of the cherries , then add 1 cup of banyuls vinegar, stir and put back into the fridge to allow, fruit, sugar and vinegar to get on first name terms. Leave for further 2 days. When finished strain liquid through a cheesecloth and chinoise strainer, taste, you are looking for a balance between perfect tartness and a little sweet, you can add sugar or vinegar as needed but remember you don’t want to wash out the cherry flavor.

shot by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Add everything except the cream and cola to your boston shaker with 2-3 ice cubes, whip shake to froth up the egg for about 40-50 seconds. Add cream and gently stir in, pour into a chilled collins glass and top off with coca cola, dust on top a pinch of chocolate powder. Garnish with fresh or homemade maraschino cherries.


Madrid, to pick up the pieces of Lady Brett

The Norte station in Madrid is the end if the line. All trains finish there. they don’t go on anywhere. Outside were cabs and taxis and a line of hotel runners.It was like a country town. i took a taxi and we climbed up though the gardens by the empty palace and the unfinished church on the edge of the cliff, and on until we were in the high, hot modern town. the Taxi coasted down to Puerta del Sol and then through the traffic onto the Carrera San Jeronimo. All the shops had their awnings down against the heat. The windows on the sunny side of the street were shuttered. The taxi stopped at the curb. I saw the sign HOTEL MONTANA on the second floor. The taxi driver carried the bags inside and left them by the elevator. I could not make the elevator work so I walked up. On the second floor up was a brass sign: HOTEL MONTANA. I rang and no-one came to the door. i rang again and a maid with a sullen face opened the door.

“Is Lady Ashley here?” I asked, I knew what was waiting, Brett would fall into my arms and I’d make her feel safe but she would never truly love me , it was pretty to think we could have had a damned good time!

To come to Jake’s aid on this hot summer day in Madrid , were I the maid opening the door I would be handing him a cold refreshing glass for his thirst and his woes, this drink below is based on Ajo blanco or what is sometimes called a white gazpachio, that uses grapes , almonds and bread, instead of bread am using manzanilla sherry for a touch of nuttiness and depth , for the almond factor a delightful orgeat from the gents at Wilks & Wilson and then of course crisp , sweet grapes with dry Txakoli as a spritz, its a sort of take on a Rebujito a couple of these and a plate full of pintxos and he’d forget all about that fickle lady he lost his heart to, at least for a moment !



2 1/2 oz good manzanilla sherry, Lustau is my current favorite

1 oz orgeat

1 oz lemon juice

1/2 oz amaretto

6 or so ripe green grapes, plus a small bunch for garnish. If you can get muscat grapes even better

2-3 lemon verbena leaves plus a sprig or two for garnish

1-2 oz Txakoli ( a sparkling dry white wine drank in regions of Spain as early as breakfast, I mean we have champagne brunches so why not eh)?

shot by Patrick O’Brien-Smith


In your trusty Boston shaker muddle lightly grapes and lemon verbena leaves with orgeat and lemon, add the rest of your ingredients plus 5-6 ice cubes. Shake for about 20 seconds then dump into a vessel of your choice. Top off with the sparkling Txakoli , garnish with either a mini bunch of grapes or a few grape halves plus a lemon verbena sprig.


Next up….an ode to Autumn

Issue No.026 “Tails” from the Bookworm “Moby Dick”


was a dark and stormy night , the wind howled and waves leapt from the ocean muffling the sounds of the sirens as they tried to drag us onto the rocks. I grabbed my blanket closer round me, my stomach grumbling reminded me of my last supper before I left fair Nantucket Isle and how I wished I could be back on those distant shores, aside a fire , drink in hand. From below decks I could hear the clump clump as the Captain’s leg hit the wooden floor, the man was pacin, he was ready for the fight that lay ahead of him, preparing to meet his maker by way of the giant white jaws that lurked deep within the bowels of the sea below…..

I recently happened upon a thought as I lay in my bed reading myself to sleep, (no not of giant white jaws) I thought of so many books containing such rich and vivid stories , journeys of great explorers, tales of love lost and treasure found, so many books, so little time, how can I make time to read them and still get work done? My head is always stuck in a book searching for inspiration, flavor combinations, culinary techniques yet I rarely have the chance to sit and have a quiet moment with a story that sweeps me off my feet into its pages (I’m not a kindle reader), I love ink and paper, the feel , the smell of it is always the invitation to my journey of ravishing a book usually ten chapters at a time. I’ve been suffering from artists block for a few months, trying to find something interesting to write about has been a bit of a headache, I

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love writing and getting my ideas down in black and white so I thought rather than struggle, I’d take some time out over the summer to get back to reading the stack of neglected books that have been hovering in the corner like Boo Radley waiting to be noticed and loved. I realized as I was reading in my half asleep state that the book in my hands held a key to another journey of discovery, the book in question was Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises”, it was peppered with scenes of drinking and eating, parties and mayhem, I can’t say I was armchair traveling since I was lying down , more like futon surfing vicariously through the story and then my lightbulb moment hit, how about exploring Hemingway’s Spain in the book through drink and flavors, the story as my muse. I scribbled the thought down and then swiftly drifted off to the land of bedfordshire.

So its taken me some time to get back to The Cup, my first task was finishing off that first book , the ideas came thick and fast all through it, Saffron gin & tonic, Jamon and sherry bloody mary, amongst a few others. Each month my aim is to complete a book and find flavor inspiration from it , I’m still tweaking those Spanish flavored drinks and they’ll be with you shortly but in the meantime I’ve charted the journey of Captain Ahab as he travels the oceans hell bent on destroying one giant fish, Moby Dick.

Captain’s Log: setting sail and on to battle; Nantucket/Cape Cod

Nantucket, known affectionately as the little grey lady of the seas was the capital of the whaling industry back in Melville’s day, its where the ill-fated Pequod’s journey begins. I imagine cobbled streets , gas lamps and dark, damp, fire lit inns , air thick with pipe smoke and tall tales of the one that got away ( fish that is). The classic Cape Codder cocktail is pretty much vodka and cranberry juice, refreshing and sweet enough to mask the burn of alcohol as it heads to yer belly , its pretty much a blank canvas that could do with a little enhancing. I eat cranberries once a year, Thanksgiving is pretty much it and when I think cranberry I usually associate stuffing (or is it dressing?) as its companion , thyme, sage, maybe some rosemary and isn’t there a little bit of spice usually in that cran jelly, like cloves and maybe orange?

The Little Grey Lady of the Sea

1 1/2 oz sage & thyme infused vodka

3/4 oz allspice dram

1/2 oz ginger syrup

1 oz lemon juice

1 oz Dolin dry vermouth

2 drops vanilla extract

3 dashes orange bitters

6 fresh cranberries

thyme twigs to garnish

beauty shot by Patrick O’Brien-Smith, styling by The Cup

Muddle cranberries, thyme syrup and lemon. Add rest of your ingredients and shake with 4-5 ice cubes. Dump into a chilled rocks glass, garnish with whole cranberries and thyme sprig or halo if you want drama

Captain’s log: we spy palm trees and many a small island; Arroz Islands/ The Caribbean

So like any good drink smith the Caribbean conjures up quickly the thought of dark and spicy rum, Tiki drinks and Navy Grog. Navy grog was invented it is said by a British Admiral Edward Vernon,sometime in 1740, Navy strength rum was added to water to dilute it,sometimes mixed with lime and sometimes drank with gunpowder . The watering down of the rum prevented it from igniting the gunpowder aboard ships but it also improved the taste of the rancid water stored aboard ships on long journeys, the lime prevented scurvy and gave rise to the nickname of the British “Limeys”. Beachbum Berry ( bar tender Jeff Berry) invented his own “grog” back in the eighties inspired by the original but adding sweeter flavors taken from the Islands themselves, my own take on it below uses smokey mezcal adding earthiness to balance out all the sweetness.

Kill-Divil’s Grog

1 1/2 oz mezcal

1/2 oz dark rum

1/2 oz pineapple gomme ( I used Liebers, really tasty and rich)

1/2 oz orgeat (Wilks & Wilson do a really nice floral version)

1 oz lime juice

3/4 oz Lustau East India Solera sherry ( dont skimp, find this , its heady and raisiny and full of delicious spicy fruit)

1 oz egg white

3 dashes Miracle Mile chocolate chili bitters

dust of mole powder for garnish ( recipe follows)


Mole Powder recipe

1 /2 cup slivered almonds toasted on a dry skillet

1/2 cup black sesame seeds also toasted on a dry skillet

1 cup Dutch Process cocoa powder

1 teaspoon guajillo chilli powder

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon ground ancho chili powder

1/4 teaspoon ground star anise

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon ground Vietnamese cinnamon

Let your almonds and sesame seeds cool a bit then blitz them in a food processor pulsing until not quite complete powder. Add the cocoa powder and spices and pulse again just to incorporate everything together. Store in an airtight jar , works well on drinks as well as ice cream.


beauty shot by Patrick O’Brien-Smith, arranged by The Cup

For the drink:

add everything to your shaker except for garnish plus 1 small ice cube, whip shake for about 10 seconds to wake up the strands of egg white and get them nice and frisky . Add 3-4 more ice cubes and shake for about 20 seconds more. Stain into a chilled vessel of choice and dust over mole powder .


Captain’s Log: we round Cape Horn and onto the bitter Atlantic ocean

Situated at the southern most tip of Chile, Cape Horn is the last point of land that a ship will see before heading off into the vast Atlantic, the East Indies and Africa. The National drink of Chile is the grape based Pisco, there is much debate as to where Pisco originated, Chileans and Peruvians claim its invention. Chile also produces some beautiful wines, earthy and peppery. The drink below is inspired by the classic Jack Rose cocktail which uses AppleJack ( a type of apple brandy) and grenadine and the flavors of Chilean grapes.

Pequod Sour

1 1/2 oz Alta Del Carmen Chilean Pisco

1 oz Chilean red wine such as a Syrah

3/4 oz grenadine ( I used Wilks & Wilson)

3/4 oz lime juice

drop of rosewater

drop of vanilla extract

3 dashes peychauds bitters

1 oz egg white

black pepper and strawberry lambic to garnish

beauty shot by Patrick O’Brien-Smith, arranged by the Cup

Dry shake all of your ingredients except for pepper and ale in your tin (that is without ice) for 20 seconds, add 4 ice cubes and shake again for a further 20 seconds. Strain into a chilled vessel of your choice , top with a splash of the lambic ale and a couple of turns of fresh black pepper.


Captain’s Log:We spy land this fair mornin. We head for The Cape of Good Hope in search of vittles .

After leaving the Americas and sailing east across the Atlantic the next bit of land the doomed Pequod would have hit would be South Africa, and the Cape of Good Hope that stretches out into the ocean like the claw of an eagle readying itself to pick up prey. Part of Cape Town, the Hope just like the Horn in Chile is a marker on most sea farers maps, a milestone of the seas. South Africa and in particular Cape Town is known for its great wines ,its love of Barbecue and smoked meats. For me there’s no better partner to BBQ than beer and whiskey, in particular Bourbon. Bourbon is often added to BBQ sauce to add vanilla and woody spices and beer used as a marinade to tenderize steak. I figured I would use both for this Capetonian inspired Old Fashioned . Here it is hidden in the jungle waiting to pounce on your thirst !

Fedallah’s Old Fashioned

2 oz smoked Bourbon ( I used a smoking gun but you can add a couple of drops of liquid smoke instead, just don’t get heavy handed with it)

3/4 oz lager simple syrup ( reduce a bottle of good lager beer down to half then add equal parts cane sugar for a spin on simple syrup)

3 dashes MIracle Mile Red Eye bitters ( as the name suggests its strong coffee with a bacon fat wash to finish it)

2 dashes Angostura bitters

flamed orange peel to garnish

beauty shot by Patrick O’Brien-Smith, arranged by The Cup

In a chilled rocks glass muddle lager syrup and bitters together , add whiskey and stir a little more before adding your cracked ice. Stir for about 10 seconds, I like my Old Fashioned’s served hot , pretty much meaning slightly diluted allowing the dilution to continue as you drink the cocktail. Peel off strips of orange peel and spritz their oils over a match or lighter allowing the flamed oils to drop onto your drink. Rub the zest on the rim of your glass and pop into the cocktail for added aroma.


Captain’s Log: We follow the coast of the East Indies, the air full of salt, spice and fruit.

The East Indies is a term used to describe the swath of lands from South to Southeast Asia, including India,

Bangladesh, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam and Indonesia, all countries that create some of the most flavorful and aromatic foods. By this time on Ahab’s journey I would Imagine him needing somewhat of a strong and long drink to kill the pains that ail him, from his phantom leg to the bitterness and anger in his heart. Its also here that the giant Moby Dick makes his home , Ahab so close to his Nemesis but still out of reach. The Painkiller cocktail is my starting point for this coconut laced drink.

Garnish based on ceremonial Temple offerings and the Southeast Asian jungle.

Temple of Solace (Ahab’s Advil)

(if these portions seem large to you , bear in mind that its being poured into this Thai Coconut shell which yields around 12 oz of liquid, if not using the coconut shell the drink can be split between two drinking vessels)

2 oz toasted coconut infused white rum ( toast 500 grams of desiccated coconut in your oven, add to 1 750 ml bottle of white rum and infuse for 2-3 days, strain before using)

1/2 oz blackstrap molasses rum ( such as Cruzan)

1/2 oz Jamaican rum such as Smith & Cross

1 oz passion fruit pulp

1 oz orgeat ( I used Wilks & Wilson)

1/2 oz St.Elizabeth allspice dram,

1 oz lime

1 oz madeira

2 oz coconut milk,

1 oz coconut water

1/4 teaspoon Tahitian Vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon curry powder

beauty shot by Patrick O’Brien-Smith, arranged by The Cup

Prepare your Thai young coconut by lopping off the top and draining out its guts, mostly coconut water and some coconut meat, carve a large enough hole to place the end of a funnel into.

To make the drink , toss everything into a large tin shaker with 6 ice cubes and shake for about 25 seconds , strain into the funnel/coconut. Top with leaves and flowers of your choice and present with incense and smoked cinnamon sticks if you like.


Captain’s Log: The Beast is spied in the Japan Sea

Ahab and his crew finally meet Moby Dick in the Seas off Japan, it is here that both their and Melville’s journey ends. I could not decide which one of these drinks would be a fitting companion to the end of the story so am using both, the first based on a sherry cobbler and the second my take on a filthy, dirty, briny martini that I imagine Melville diving into once he puts his pen down. Both drinks star some lovely provisions that I picked up at my local Japanese market.

The Kyoho Cobbler

1 oz manzanilla sherry

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( I know, not Japanese)

1 1/2 oz Junmai sake

3/4 oz Avua aged cachaca ( not Japanese either bit works really well with the grapes and shiso)

1 oz martini bianco

1/2 oz gomme syrup such as Liber & Co.

3/4 oz lemon juice

4 shiso leaves

6 Kyoho grapes plus mor for garnish

beauty shot by Patrick O’Brien-Smith, arranged by The Cup

Muddle 2 of the shiso leaves with 6 grapes and the gomme syrup for about 5 seconds, add the rest of your ingredients and 5-6 ice cubes and shake for about 20 seconds, dump into a chilled wine glass that has been lined with the remaining 2 shiso leaves, garnish with an abundance of Kyoho grapes for maximum drama.

Melville’s Postscript

1 1/2 oz Ford’s gin

1 1/2 oz dry sake

1/4 oz Umeboshe vinegar

3 dashes Mircale Mile celery bitters

2-3 Umeboshe plums for garnish

beauty shot by Patrick O’Brien-Smith, arranged by The Cup

In a mixing glass add all of your ingredients plus 6-7 cracked ice cubes, stir for 30 seconds then strain into a chilled coupe glass, garnish with Umebsohe plums in the bottom of your glass.


“Gone Fishin”


he Cup will be back shortly I promise. I’m not one that can just crank out drinks or ideas just for the sake of cranking and I felt I was getting a wee repetitive so am taking a time out to

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research and gather inspiration for an upcoming series called “Bar & Books”


Next Issue…..the Tale of Moby Dick

Issue No.025 ” My Heart belongs to Daddy”


up, I know Miss Monroe is singing about her sugar daddy, she’ll gladly flirt but won’t lift her skirt for any laddy. The Daddy in question  here is my Pops who you may remember my mentioning in previous posts, Popsi’s name was  Iggy, Ignacy to be exact. He passed away from the big C on June 8th 2001, as you can imagine it utterly destroyed me, he was my hero, my light, my anchor , my all. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t remember him, I had dog tags made for me that I wear daily as a reminder of him worn close to my heart, I’m a sentimental fool but you see  like any little girl I think my Popsi was the best dad that walked the earth. Of course   there were times when he drove me absolutely bonkers like the day I came home from college looking for my cool ass beaten up leather motorcycle jacket only to discover he had cleaned out my closet of anything he thought was unladylike and pretty much burned all of it!!!?  Or the time he wouldn’t let  fourteen year old me hang out with the pot smoking boy of nineteen I was dating one summer so I sneaked out anyway and had the entire police force of my home town looking for me , I could handle my shit , I was a mature kid,  I knew when to say no   but to my Pops I was his baby that he needed to protect forever and ever amen till time ends and hell freezes over!  My ode this issue and for Father’s day is for  Iggy Mlynarczyk  , musician, day dreamer, soldier, life saver, father and best friend  .

We had a curious journey together the 33 years that I spent with him, filled with fairy tales  and make believe that helped me out of the darkest places when I was a kiddie. He taught me to follow my dreams and my heart as he had not been able to, to  be respectful, keep my eyes and ears open and my mouth closed until it was needed. My pops was a farm boy, one of nine kids being raised  in rural Poland  like so many other families   eking out an existence where they could,when the kids reached eleven or so they were sent out to work for other farmers to bring money back to the house, it was on one of these excursions  during WWII Popsi’s  sister who I’m named after was captured by the Gestapo, a petrified farmer trying to save his own kids  gave her away as a migrant gypsy, my dad saw the scene from the field he was working in and ran to her aid, he  begged them not to take her  knowing she was not strong enough to survive the ordeal instead he struck a deal and they took him instead  to a camp first in Poland then later to Germany where  he was forced to work digging ditches for burying bodies and farming the land.  During his time there he made friends with a German girl called Gisella who would sneak him food from her family table and books to read to teach him the German language. After  a few years of watching , waiting and building courage Pops hatched an escape plan  aided by his friend , so his story goes she helped him  and two others escape . Dad was just 17 , the other two were not as lucky as young Iggy, they were captured and shot as an example to the rest of the inmates, Pops journeyed on alone through a bitter winter  traveling on foot from Germany to France picking clothes and boots off dead soldiers and existing on frozen roots and other peoples throw aways.  One morning he found himself staring into Bakery  shop window, it was early enough that there were no people around except the baker who took pity on him and beckoned Pops in, so hungry he  stopped for a second not knowing if he would get turned in but that gnawing ache in his belly lead him forward through the door, the baker turned out to be one more of his guardian angels, he fed him, gave him clothes and a hot bath and a few days later he was picked up by  the French  resistance who transported him to an  RAF  hospital  close by . There he was enlisted in his Majesty’s service and  eventually he was sent to the UK  , Pops was taught to play the Piano and in his barracks and would play at the town hall dances in Lincolnshire where he shared more than one dance with a very young Miss Thatcher, it was also in that town that he had his heart broken by a young lass who’s own father forbade her to mix with a foreigner . In his early thirties he moved to a small town in Derbyshire ( home to Miss Austen’s Darcy) where he met and married  my mum, not a long union but one that produced two very different kids, my brother first then in 67 myself . According to family stories Pops suffered a serious mental breakdown, not surprisingly the trauma of his earlier life finally caught up with him, giving him night terrors and turning him into a ghost, he was further tormented by the barbarian “Doctors” of that time and given the One flew over the Cuckoo’s nest treatment, “healing” by electrocution! I won’t go into the details of how or why my parents divorced, they did when I was about five, it was a nasty experience all around, fights and attempted suicides  turned into a year of custody battles and tugs of war, it was also the first time I ran away from home, I think I was maybe six. Iggy was eventually granted custody of his two willful children and devoted   the rest of his years raising two kids as a single parent, we were his everything and though he had a funny way of showing it  his love was never ending, he never said I love you, or gave us hugs ( not until I was older and forced him into expressing himself) but there were many nights he would sit by my bed side stroking my hair and singing  a Polish “Lulka” or lullaby to get me to sleep.

Pops was never much of a talker, he was however an amazing story teller and  would on occasion after a wee nip of his favorite dram spill his memories for me as a  reminder to be grateful for the life I was given, no wars to fight , food on the table, a roof over my head and a good education were pretty much all he said I needed, boyfriends and rock music were most definitely not part of his prescription .  Since we’re talking booze you know there has to be a link here in my story to some sort of liquid refreshment, yes indeed, the wee nip of Iggy’s truth serum was the Mother of all libations uisige beatha ,  the water of life, fire water whatever you want to call it, commonly known as  Whisky, to be exact that peaty, stinky green bottled monster,  Laphroaig. My first taste came   somewhere back in the early eighties when I was going through my teenage angst years, the bottle was only ever brought out on special occasions and was kept in Iggy’s not so secret, secret stash hole, I would watch my dad sip his glass of amber nectar watching with awe as his face brightened and his smile would erupt, I felt for sure it would cure my blues so I poured myself a glass and retreated to my red painted womb of a bedroom, lighting a clove cigarette and whisky in hand  I thought I was super sophisticated, that is until I choked on the first sip of Laphroaig the rest being spilled on the floor. Times have certainly changed, Islay scotch whisky is now one my preferred tipples, over the years I have learned to love that smoky , briny flavor picked up by smoking the barley over peat moss fires before going off to be distilled .

There’s nothing  unusual about the drinks that follow , but I think the old man would have enjoyed one or two whilst waiting for the horse he backed to win or relaxing reading one of his Louis Lamour Western novels or maybe comforting his troubled memories,   his tastes were pretty simple and classic, Chopin played the theme song to his life, Maggie Thatcher was his dream girl,  when he could scrape his pennies together  meat and two veg were his idea of fine dining, every day I saw him he wore a jacket and tie, pressed pants and shined shoes, at times his socks may have been full of holes but he presented as the perfect put together gent, both inside and out .

Islay be seeing you

1 1/2 oz Laproaig 10

1/2 oz Smith & Cross Jamaican rum

1/2 oz honey syrup ( 1:1 honey to hot water)

1/2 oz ginger syrup ( fresh ginger juiced and added to a simple syrup)

1/2 oz fresh lemon juice

1/4 oz Yuzu juice


photo by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Toss everything into your trusty Boston shaker and add 5 ice cubes, this drink needs a good shaking and the flavors of both the scotch and rum stand up to being well whipped around so shake for about 35 seconds until the drink is ice and chilly . Strain into a chilled old fashioned glass filled with ice, garnish with one or more candies ginger cubes.

when to drink:  whilst watching the horse races  on the telly, as an aid to numb the pain of the local clergyman’s sunday visit, or just for the hell of it!


Peat-er & the Wolf 

2 oz Laphroaig 10

1/2 oz St.Elizabeth allspice dram

1 oz fresh lime juice

1 oz ginger syrup

2 oz Theakstons Old Peculiar ale or Newcastle Brown ale ( plus the bottle for topping up)

photo by Patrick O’Brien-Smith


Shake everything except the beer over ice for 30 seconds, strain into a chilled ice filled highball glass and top off with the brown ale

When to drink: After painting the house , fixing the roof, cleaning your daughters closet and building a fire, as a reward for being the Best Dad EVER!


 Lincoln’s Peach

1 1/2 oz Laphroaig 10

1 oz creme de peche

1 oz calvados

3/4 oz maple syrup

1 oz lemon juice

2-3 oz Lapsang Souchong tea chilled ( depending on glass size)

1 ripe peach

2 drops vanilla extract

photo by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Chop half the peach into cubes and put aside for muddling, the other half of the peach needs to be sliced into 1/4″ slices for garnish.

In the bottom of your shaker add the peach cubes, vanilla and maple syrup and muddle, add the rest of your liquid ingredients plus 5 ice cubes to shaker and shake  for about 25 seconds, dump into a chilled glass and top off with more ice, garnish with peach slices.

When to drink: Goes down well after a day spent chasing thunderstorms away with that big stick, unravelling the cat from the washing line, or tending to Aunt Judy’s raucous brood of five.


The Old Man’s Fashioned

1 1/2 oz Earl grey tea soaked Laphroaig 10 ( steep 6 tea bags in one 750ml bottle of whisky)

3/4   oz cinnamon simple syrup ( 1 spoon of Vietnamese cinnamon powder steeped for 4-5 hours in hot simple syrup)

1/2 oz  brandy

3 dashes angostura bitters

two orange twists

photo by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Muddle the simple syrup, bitters and 1 orange peel in the bottom of a chilled old fashioned glass, add the whisky and brandy and stir for a few turns. Add a couple of hunks of ice and stir for about 15 seconds to chill slightly but not dilute too much. Spritz over the orange oils from the second twist and rub on the rim of the glass , plop the twist into the glass and sip slowly.

When to drink: As an after bed time story treat,  as a partner to your favorite Spaghetti western or just to warm the cockles of your heart.


Cheers to you Popsi , wish you were still around for hugs on this Father’s day! Miss you so so much,  Love always!!!

Issue No. 024 “Bittersweet Symphony”




hat bitter ruby red elixir , something about its balance of bitterness ,sweet and underlying herbal notes had me hooked from the get go. Yes I’m talking about Campari the bitter sorceress that plays so well with others yet always manages to stand out with her own amaroidal voice, I use it in all manner of ways , mixed with lemon lime soda, IPA beer & grapefruit, freeze it into an after dinner palate cleansing treat, or dehydrate it into pink fairy like dust for sprinkling.

There’s a tale out there (maybe tall maybe true) about a  Nobleman also partial to a glass or two of this jewel like temptress, the story goes that  one day around 1919 a certain Count Camillo of Florence , Italy  made a simple request  to his bartender , he needed his usually satisfying Americano cocktail made stronger, the Americano is a highball built over ice consisting of equal parts Campari  and sweet vermouth topped with soda water . The bartender pondered and turned to a bottle of gin, he poured out an equal amount of gin and added it to the glass but this time without soda and finished with a spritz of orange oil. The result was at once bitter and sweet, racy and refreshing and warming and spicy, the color of a deep red treasure  winking across the bar at the Count demanding that he savor it, he became a man bewitched , the bartender named it using Camillo’s last name  and so the Negroni was born.

Who knows why the good Count thought of it, maybe a day of frustrations led him to need something stiffer we shall never know, so happy was he with the result  the Count and his family opened a distillery and made the first pre-packaged version marketed as Antico Negroni ( and you thought bottled cocktails were new!). The Negroni  has become one of the most recognized classic drinks and in many cocktail bars I’ve  auditioned at the first drink I was  asked to make to prove ability. If the bartender shakes it or adds the wrong ratios then its an immediate fail, but get the proportions, garnish  and the chill on the nectar just so and your taste buds will be enveloped in its splendid bittersweet symphony.

Typically drank as an aperitif  , the  bitterness rounded out by a spicy sweet vermouth plus the nerve taming tonic of a good dry gin is the perfect end in my mind to the day or beginning of a great evening,   these days  I’ve seen the Negroni made with Dutch Genever adding a lovely malty finish or turned into a lesser known classic the Boulevardier by subbing out whiskey for the gin, the whiskey I think turns the drink into an after dinner sipper which is fine since the chinoto from the Campari also works as  a digestive aid. The Negroni to me is also the quintessential summer cocktail  and with summer  ( yes time has gone too fast this year) comes Negroni Cocktail week put together by Imbibe magazine and Campari , a seven day celebration of the classic Negroni and its variations, participating bars will donate a portion of Negroni sales to their favorite charities,its also a chance for the bar community to gather together and give something back. If you would like to join in the festivities go here for a list of participating bars in your area, my own list includes The Varnish, Eveleigh, Tasting Kitchen and Harvard & Stone in Los Angeles and Broadway restaurant in Laguna , please also visit us at Ink in West Hollywood where I’ll be serving up our Rapid Barrel aged Negroni sous vide for 2 days, as well as our Boulevardier finished with a splash of lambic ale, or if you’re hearing the call of adventure maybe I’ll hook you up with a hit or two of Campari dust.

And now , without further stories my Ode to the Negroni and all it inspires , but if like me you prefer playing the Hermit from time to time and are not in the mood for playing with others, here’s seven days worth of recipes for you to get your own bitter sweet symphony on with!

monday June 2nd….Start your engines with this lovely smooth Barrel aged Negroni. 

Serves 12 ( or 4 really thirsty peeps)

12 oz Fords Gin

12  oz Noilly Prat or Cocchi Vermouth Di Torrino

12 oz Campari

16 dashes orange bitters

1 barrel stave ( Tuthilltown distillery  in NY sells packs)

orange zest for garnish

shot by the one and only, delightfully talented Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Combine everything in an airtight preferably glass container like a ball canning jar ( a big one) stir and add the barrel stave. Allow to sit in a dark corner of your pad for at least a week, no cheating you need a nice flavor to develop. If you are lucky enough to have access to an Immersion Circulator, toss everything into a large vacuum sealable bag, seal up and sous vide at 55 degrees C for 2 days, let  the bag chill down before decanting into an airtight bottle .

Once ready, pour in 3 oz of batch per person into a mixing glass, add cracked ice and stir for about 30 seconds until a nice chill develops on your glass, strain into chilled ice filled rocks glasses and garnish with an orange twist, feeling fancy, you can flame the twist by setting fire to the expelled oils from the twist.

Tuesday June 3rd….chill out with a Negroni sour

1 1/2 oz Cap Rock gin

3/4 oz Campari

3/4  oz Sweet vermouth of choice

1/2 oz lemon juice

1 oz grapefruit juice

1/2 oz simple syrup

dash rosewater

1 oz egg white

garnish with Campari dust (recipe below)

shot by the one and only, delightfully talented Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Add everything except garnish to a Boston shaker and dry shake without ice for 1o seconds, add 4-5 ice cubes and shake again for 25 seconds or so. Strain into a chilled vessel of choice and sprinkle over a pinch of Campari Dust


Wednesday June 4th…round out hump day with Ink’s variation on a Boulevardier

1 1/2 oz Buffalo Trace Bourbon

1 oz Campari

1 oz Cocchi rosa

3 dashes Miracle Mile chocolate chili bitters

a splash of Timmerman’s strawberry lambic ale

garnish with an orange peel

shot by the one and only, delightfully talented Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Add spirits only into a mixing glass with cracked ice and stir for 25-30 seconds, strain into a chilled coupe glass , add splash of lambic ale and finish with your twist of orange peel.


Thursday June 5th….indulge with a Negroni Milk shake (you did Yoga all week you deserve it)

1 1/2 oz  Bols Genever

1 1/2 oz Campari

1 1/2 oz sweet vermouth

1 cup of vanilla ice cream

2 dashes peychauds bitters

1/2 oz simple syrup

1 bar spoon citric solution 10:1 water to citric acid

1/8 oz vanilla extract

Campari dust to finish if you so wish

shot by the one and only, delightfully talented Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Add everything to a blender  with 4 ice cubes and blitz for about 15 seconds or until its nice and smooth, pour into a chilled glass of choice, add straw and slurp away!


Friday June 6th….get your friday frisk on with this cross between a Negroni, a salty, spicy margarita and a michelada….The Negritalada (perhaps)

3/4  oz of thai chili infused tequila ( if you want a pony kick instead of a ass whooping you can use half spicy and half regular tequila)

3/4 oz Vida Mezcal

3/4 oz Campari

3/4 oz sweet vermouth

1/2 oz agave nectar

1 oz fresh ruby  grapefruit juice

1/2 oz lime juice

a dash of vanilla extract

salt rim and IPA beer to finish

shot by the one and only, delightfully talented Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Add everything except garnish into a your Boston shaker, shake for 25 seconds with 5 ice cubes. Strain into a chilled, salt rimmed highball glass filled with ice, top off with a generous splash of IPA beer.


Saturday June 7th….Amp up your weekend with Negroni jello shots and Campari Dust Pixy Stix (or lines depending on your mindset)

For the Jello shots ( you will need to do this in stages giving one layer time to fully set before adding second layer)

Gin layer:

1 x 7 gram packet of  Knox gelatin

1/3 cup of Aviation gin

2/3 cup of lemon lime soda

1 tablespoon cane sugar

1/4 oz rosewater

Campari layer:

1  x 7 gram packet Knox gelatin powder

1/3 cup Campari

1/3 cup sweet vermouth

1/3 cup orange juice

Add gin+rosewater / Campari to a small bowl with the packet of gelatin powder, stir and allow to dissolve for 1 minute, meanwhile in a pan add your lemon lime soda/sweet vermouth+OJ to the heat and heat up to just before simmering. Take off and add lemon lime soda to gin rosewater and vermouth OJ mix to Campari. Stir to incorporate and fully dissolve the gelatin powder, add sugar and stir again dissolving sugar. Let sit for 3-4 minutes then pour into silicone ice cube trays from Cocktail Kingdom filling up to the half way line. Let sit for few minutes then place in the fridge for 3 hours to let fully set. When set repeat with second layer. To extract from tray, warm up a small palette knife with hot water and run around the edges of each cube, gently coax out and , depending on your mood, either gobble up or arrange neatly on serving tray .


For Campari Dust

1 cup Campari

1 cup powdered sugar

mix together well to dissolve sugar, I found its quicker to get absolutely all the lumps out if your sieve your sugar first. Add the slurry to a heavy bottomed pan and set onto a medium heat, this part takes some patience since you have to stand and stir the mix whilst it slowly evaporates down to a paste. Once pasty, take off heat and quickly spread out onto a silpat lines baking sheet ,spreading evenly with your trusty palette knife. Add to a very low oven and let it dehydrate over night. Once dry add to your blender and wazz it until it resembles a fine pink powder. Store in airtight container with silicone packets to stop it from clumping . Slurp up through straws, add to your ice cream, milk shakes, sours etc.


shot by the one and only, delightfully talented Patrick O’Brien-Smith


Sunday June 8th….Finish off with a refreshing Negroni Bianco Sgroppino

The Classic Negroni made with white bitters , carbonated  and poured over Campari grapefruit granita

serves 4

For the Campari Granita:

1/2 cup Campari

3 cups strained ruby grapefruit juice

3/4 cup of sugar

1/2 oz rosewater

1/4 oz vanilla extract

Add grapefruit juice and sugar to pan and set on heat to dissolve sugar, add to Campari, rosewater and vanilla and stir. Allow to chill before pouring into a metal container that you will then set in the freezer. Every couple of hours you will need to stir the freezing mix to stop ice crystals from forming . When set, cover top with a sheet of parchment paper to protect from freezer burn.

for the Negroni Bianco:

6 oz Aviation gin

6 oz Tempus Fugit Gran Classico

6 oz Dolin blanc vermouth

add everything to a pitcher with a scoop of ice and stir to chill and dilute . Pour into either an ISI gun or a Twist and Sparkle contraption and charge with one CO2 gas charger.


shot by the one and only, delightfully talented Patrick O’Brien-Smith


With all your components ready and your glasses nice and frosty, get an ice cream scoop and portion out a generous scoop of the Campari granita into Coupe glasses, pour over the carbonated Negroni Bianco and garnish with  a twist of grapefruit peel.


Cin Cin!!!


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