Issue No.036 “Tails from the Bookworm” Far from the Madding Crowd





omance novels have never been my thing , you know the ones,those blouse ripping tomes where man falls for girl, girl shuns man, she gets into trouble through her strong headed nature and is saved by that knight in shining armor that she previously abhorred . Though I love a good romantic story I’m more attracted to fantastic or mysterious stories rather than naturalistic ones like Far From the Madding Crowd written by British novelist and poet Thomas Hardy ( no, not that strapping nemesis playing fellow Tom Hardy ) . Madding however is a beautiful story , one of only a couple that captivated me into awake mode during my English lit classes back in the day , you see my lit teacher was an old bore of a man , with coffee tainted breath and rumpled tweed suits that could send a whirling dervish to sleep and he would dissect a story into oblivion so that you had no idea what the meaning of it all was. However, why Madding managed to knock me out of my day dreams was due to the female protagonist Bathsheba Everdene , an untamable slightly haughty lass who preferred her independence to being a man’s beck and call, she captivates the hearts of three men, interestingly each one depicts very different interpretations  of what it means to love , one obsesses over her, one wants to protect her and be her equal and one who abuses her . She states toward the end of the book when asked to explain herself “It is difficult for me to express my feelings in a language chiefly made for men to express theirs” , I’m sure the suffrage movement was well on its way when Hardy wrote of Bathsheba’s strong will and refusal to be put into a box but the fact that he created such an inspiring character shows us that not all men back then were misogynistic neanderthals .

What makes this story so appropriate for me at this minute is this disturbing political climate in this country of “women’s cards” and governments passing laws that allow women to be raped when they’re passed out drunk, it feels like we are headed back into the dark ages when a man could grab a by the hair and drag her off into his cave , though Far From the Madding Crowd is set in Victorian times Hardy and our heroine Miss Everdene are thoroughly modern in their outlook , thank goodness!


Our story starts with Bathsheba , a proud beauty joining her aunt on her farm for the winter, we first meet her as she’s tilling  the frozen earth  to turn it over for seed planting in the coming months . On occasion she rides her horse astride ( not side saddle as ladies of that era would) through the copse delighting in the intermingling smells of wet soil, hoof oil and horse sweat. It is on on of these afternoon rides that she is spied by her first love interest, Gabriel Oak a young sheep farmer with the savings of his frugal life, who is intent on buying his farm out right and on becoming the master of his own destiny , he is described as a faithful and good man , hard working and moral and true to his word, in other words he’s a bit of a catch in them there parts . Bathsheba and Gabriel grow to like each other becoming friends . However when Gabriel makes her an offer of marriage she declines since she values her independence over her feelings for  Farmer Oak. A few days later she leaves for the village of Weatherbury , some miles away . The next time they meet their circumstances have changed drastically , Oak has lost all of his sheep due to an inexperienced sheep dog , young George, who drives the flock over the cliff one spring night . He manages to pay what he owes to his lenders and moves on to find work and rebuild himself elsewhere . Bathsheba on the other hand is now a landowner, having inherited her uncle’s farm she is now the Mistress of a small estate .

To honor Farmer Oak, the drink below is a combination of the Brits love of tea for a shock, Sheep milk ( for the obvious ) and spirit, I mean after losing two hundred sheep a stiff drink would be most necessary .

The Madness of Young George

I love tea in cocktails but to get a full flavor from black tea you have to do a super intense infusion which means that the tannins become way too strong and bitter and take over the rest of the drink. To balance the tannins out I use Dave Arnold’s method of milk washing the tea ( appropriate since Brits drink their tea with milk) the casein in the milk latches onto the tannins and strips them from the spirit leaving only the aromatic flavor of the tea, its similar to doing an egg wash where the proteins soften both the effect of the spirit and the tea . Clarifying spirits and cocktails are not a new thing they’ve been around since the 1800’s but it takes a genius like Chef Arnold to make them relevant again.

The drink is delicious just by itself over rocks with a lemon twist, for that added barnyard flavor I finished it with a toasted hay goat milk foam

Milk washed Earl Grey tea vodka

1 750ml bottle vodka
4 earl grey tea bags
1/2 cup of sheep or goat milk ( goat milk gets the spirit more clear than cow milk)
1/2 oz lemon juice

Steep the tea in the vodka for a good 12 hours if not using your trusty immersion circulator, 1 hour if you are using . Strain tea and set aside making sure its totally cooled down before you mix with milk.

In a clear  lidded container pour in the milk, slowly add the tea infused vodka stirring it in, then gradually add drops of the lemon juice stirring lightly until the milk solids begin to separate . Allow to rest for at least 4-5 hours in the fridge before straining off the curds.  The result should be a totally clear pale yellow liquid.

Toasted hay goat milk foam

8 oz goat or sheep milk
2 hay scented egg whites
1/2 oz honey syrup

turn your oven onto 350 degrees , line a small sheet tray with parchment paper and layer on top fresh green hay ( I used alfalfa)  which you can get from your pet store. The hay should be evenly spread on sheet tray so that it all gets toasted .

Once hay has gotten a nice deep yellow color and has a rich aroma, remove and put into a plastic container , nestle 2-3 eggs in their shells in the hay and store in the fridge overnight  ( you could be doing this whilst the tea is being milk washed )

when ready to make the foam add everything to your ISI chamber and charge with two No2 cartridges , the drink needs to be served straight away so the foam stays light and airy .

For the drink

2 oz  milk washed tea vodka
1 oz white verjus
1 oz dry vermouth
1/2 oz drambuie
1/2 oz honey syrup ( 1:1 honey to hot water)
barspoon benedictine
2 dashes orange bitters
finish off with an optional toasted hay goat milk foam


beauty shot by Patrick O'Brien-Smith

beauty shot by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Add everything but the foam and lemon twist to your mixing glass and stir for 10 seconds with 6 ice cubes , strain into your vessel of choice either ice filled or as I chose in a mini milk bottle without ice , top with a lemon twist and your optional milk foam.


Farmer Oak finds himself heading to a hiring fair , on his way there he happens upon a dangerous fire on a farm and leads the farm workers in putting the fire out, dousing himself with water he climbs upon the burning roofs and hacks the fire to death. When the veiled owner comes to thank him he asks if she needs a shepherd, though somewhat uncomfortable she agrees and so they reunite with her having the upper hand which is exactly where she likes to be .

Meanwhile the fair Miss Everdene has attracted another suitor, a middle aged gentlemen farmer Mr.Boldwood who whilst considered an extremely eligible bachelor by the locals is lonely and repressed, not exactly a ball of fun but fully loaded. He becomes a man obssessed . Bathsheba attracts his attention somewhat unwittingly after she sees him at market and he does not give her the customary glance that all men bestow upon her, she sends him as a joke a Valentines card that reads “Marry Me” , pretty wicked of her really! Boldwood not realizing the card was a joke turns into a man possessed and he eventually proposes marriage to her too, she tinkers with the idea after all his fortune would more than assure her safety and comfort for the rest of her life , so she postpones giving him a firm answer so as not to let him down completely , Gabriel on learning of her actions rebukes her for being so thoughtless and for that she fires him.

Ambrose Heath suggests rhubarb as a fruit option at this time of year and its blushing pink color is perfect for the Valentines time of year, I attempted to make a Victorianesque V-day card in the tableau below . You may wonder why three cups, well one for each of B’s suitors and once for the lady herself .

Kiss Me You (Rhubarb) Fool

Rhubarb is  a vegetable thats available from spring to early summer around the time of Valentines day , its beautiful pink hue and vegetal aroma pairs beautifully with strawberries the chosen fruit of this holiday for lovers . A fool is a dessert that has fruit folded into whipped cream and sometimes egg whites . My liquid version is made using rhubarb consommé .

Rhubarb consomme

1000 grams diced rhubarb
100 grams water
5oo grams cane sugar
1 vanilla bean ( optional ) seeded and popped into bowl

you will need either a  warm water bath and immersion circulator or a bain marie consisting of a bowl and a saucepan filled to half with water ( so that it does not touch the bottom of the bowl when placed on top)

add everything to either a ziplock bag or  large stainless steel bowl, if adding to a bag this will get placed into a warm water bath with your immersion circulator set at 55 degrees C. If using a bain marie, wrap the entire bowl securely with plastic wrap and place on top of simmering water, if using the bain marie allow to steam for at least two hours, if using the sous vide method you should have adequate consomme after an hour.

For the drink 

1  oz Rhubarb consomme
1 1/2 oz bourbon
3/4 oz aperol
3/4 oz lemon
1 drop rosewater
1 dash of egg white
top off with Timmerman’s strawberry lambic and  a pinch of pink peppercorn

beauty shot by Patrick O'Brien-Smith

beauty shot by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Add everything to your shaking tin with 5 ice cubes and shakes for 5 seconds, strain into either chilled coupe glasses or chilled punch glasses ,top off with lambic ale and peppercorns .


Farmer Oak leaves the next day, only has fate would have it Bathsheba winds up needing him back to save her own sheep, sheepses are not the smartest of creatures you put something green that smells fresh and delicious  in front of them and well they’ll eat it, except instead of grass they eat young green clover which causes them to bloat up with gas and if left can blow up their intestines , as you can imagine its not something that can be left to subside by itself and wouldn’t you know it the only man in the county that can fix these poor beasts has just up and left . Bathsheba beside herself calls for one of the farm workers to go track Oak down and bring him back to relieve the sheep, only problem with this plan is that Oak being a proud sort refuses to come back unless the Lady herself apologizes and asks him back herself . So off she rides gathering up her pride and begs him to return ,which he does and saves the day and the sheep. Bathsheba starts to realize that she cannot do without Gabriel and he is falling ever harder for her.

Around this point a dashing young Sergeant Francis Troy returns to Weatherbury his native home and bumps into Bathsheba one night as she’s out for a walk (  a little back ground, Troy was recently jilted  mistakenly  at the alter by his sweetheart Fanny Robbin who shows up to the wrong church, Troy humiliated by these events calls off the wedding) we first think he’s a sensitive fellow being so heartbroken by Fanny’s mistake , or at least I did. But soon Troy shows his true nature to be controlling, egotistical and abusive , but I’m jumping ahead to far….Troy bumps into B and is bewitched by her beauty, she initially dislikes him but agrees to meet him in the hollow the next day and is so excited by his swordsman ship that she allows him to steal one big juicy kiss before he marches off into the woods. They next meet when he shows up at Harvest trying to show Bathsheba that he’s her kind of man, a wheat chopping, haystack making and sheep wrangling heartthrob .

John Barleycorn Must Die

The Ploughman’s lunch is a simple packed lunch that mostly consists of apple, cheese bread and pickle, maybe a beer, its served in pubs across the UK but has its roots as the humble farm workers snack to tide them over until dinner time . Instead of beer I thought perhaps a nice refreshing veggie based low ABV drink would be just the trick .  If you want to make enough for two  and bottle it for your next  roll in the hay double up the amounts, just make sure its served over ice or well chilled.

For the drink 

1 oz Vida Mezcal
1 oz celery and romaine lettuce juice
1 oz floc de gascogne  ( a wine based aperitif)
3/4 oz lemon juice
3/4 oz simple syrup
3 dashes of celery bitters ( Miracle Mile is by far the best on the market)

beauty shot by Patrick O'Brien-Smith

beauty shot by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Shake for 5 seconds with 5 ice cubes and strain into either a chilled ice filled glass or bottle and cap for transporting , serve with sliced apples and a hunk of cheese for eh full experience .


Gabriel noticing her interest in Troy tries to dissuade her from pursuing him but like most proud and stubborn young ladies the more she hears she shouldn’t the more she’ll go in the opposite direction to defy her critics. Troy and Bathsheba elope  and marry igniting anger in Boldwood and disappointment in Oak. Upon their return to the farm Bathsheba begins to realize her new husband is not what she first thought him to be , het gets lazier having no interest in the farm, starts to gamble and drink her money away . A chance encounter  that he has with the innocent  Fanny Robin in the village where she informs him that she’s carrying his child makes Troy despise his wife even more . He arranges with Fanny that she must go find a bed for the night in the work house and he will find money and come and fetch her the next day. The next morning he demands money from his wife who denies him, he storms out and starts walking to the work house on his way passing a horse and cart carrying a coffin, not until he returns home does he learn that its Fanny an his baby in that coffin. He storms out of the house in a rage of grief denouncing his love for Bathsheba , his solution for this pain is to throw himself into the English channel to drown.

A year passes with Troy gone and Boldwood starts to court Bathsheba again,she tells him she will only wed after six years have gone since Troy’s passing, its around Christmas time so Boldwood decides to throw a holiday party for the villagers mainly to show to Miss Everdene what kind of life style lies ahead for her once she marries him. Only Troy is not dead, having been reduced by a fishing boat he learns that Boldwood is once again pursuing his wife and goes back to claim her, he tries to force Bathsheba to return with him and she struggles away, Boldwood seeing her in distress picks up his shot gun and shoots Troy dead. Boldwood is arrested and tried for murder however he does not receive the death sentence since his crime was inspired by passion. Bathsheba distraught with theses events  buries Frank with Fanny and their child  so they may at last lay together once again.

Shot Through the Heart

The classic ” corpse reviver” cocktail was a tongue in cheek name for a morning after or hair of the dog remedy for someone that had enjoyed a little too much of the grog the night before . My version here is for young Frank who comes back from the dead only to be shot and killed , its a good drink to have to shock your system back up and also whilst waiting for an unexpected firing squad .

For the drink

1 1/2 oz of Cognac ( I used Parks)
1/2 oz green chartreuse
1 oz sweet vermouth
2 dashes orange bitters
2 dashes angostura bitters
the oils from an orange twist

beauty shot by Patrick O'Brien-Smith

beauty shot by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Stir for 10 seconds with 6 ice cubes and strain into a chilled cordial or coupe glass, spritz the orange oils over the top of the drink and discard peel, good for sipping , equally good as a quick shot before you know, you get shot.


With both Troy and Boldwood out of the picture , Bathsheba is left with her true love Gabriel who has stood by her side through the good and bad . One summer morning he announces to her that he must leave to set sail for America  to search for his fortune there and to avoid the gossip that he means to marry her himself , she tells him that its absurd that they should marry, when he repeats it she says only that it is too short a time since Troy has passed. Filled with hope Gabriel asks here again to be his wife only this time she accepts , they wed quietly and live happily ever after.

Midsummer Madness

Another traditional summer favorite in the UK is the Pimms Cup, I decided to make my own version inspired by a limited release that Pimms made that is flavored with sweet summer strawberries . For the long awaited wedding celebration I thought a touch of bubbles would be nice for the happy couple’s day.

For the Pimms

2 cups sweet vermouth
1 1/2 cups Cap Rock gin
1 teaspoon bitter orange peel ( you can buy this from your local brew shop)
1/2 cup manzanilla sherry for a nutty finish
Peel of one orange
1 pint seascape strawberries cut in half

In a screw top jar add all of your ingredients and allow to steep in the fridge for 2-3 days to get full extraction from the strawberries ,when ready strain and bottle. Store in the fridge until ready to use

For the drink 

3 oz strawberry Pimms
1 oz lemon
1 oz simple 1:1 ratio simple syrup
1 dash celery bitters
mint leaves and sprigs
cucumber  and strawberry slices ( mine were cut using a small cookie cutter)
sparkling rose to top off

beauty shot by Patrick O'Brien-Smith

beauty shot by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Add all liquid ingredients except for rose to shaker and shake with 5 ice cubes for 5 seconds . Stain into an ice filled glass, arrange strawberry and cute slices and top with rose, finish off with a nice fragrant mint sprig, summer perfection in a glass!

Issue No.035 “Tails from the Bookworm” Auntie Mame (an irreverent escapade)




there was ever a motto that inspired my pre-teen and teen ardor to live ,live live and get up to no good it would be a line from Mame Dennis ” Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death !” Miss Dennis viewed life through a kaleidoscope of mildly controlled chaos, she encouraged  the unexpected to happen and embraced eccentricity. I was once told that I am an alien looking for my people, well Mame Dennis is my kind of people , from early on   I could not wrap my head around life in a safe little box, if there was a rule to break  I wanted to smash it, if there was a uniform to wear I would bastardize it beyond recognition  , if there was a statement to be made I wanted to scream it ,  from the minute I popped out of the womb ( and most likely before ) I needed to push the boundaries  , to challenge  my family and  the world in general and Mame Dennis, my screen  idol,  made me do it….well , you know almost. As a kid in school I was sent home regularly for not adhering to dress codes , for not being the proper little miss , I would show up channeling  a cross between Janis Joplin  and Dr.Who or I would skip classes altogether and go to an anti-fox hunting rally. In college I embraced androgyny choosing super short hair and a masculine Oxfam inspired wardrobe whilst smoking cigarettes from  a foot long holder. I had affectations galore but  I was a kid that knew my own mind and refused to be budged regardless of the consequences.

Nothing much has changed, though now I’m a big girl and calmed down a great deal, not all of the themes in Auntie Mame resonate as much with me anymore, Mame Dennis was a strong who am sure would have been capable to get back on her feet after the stock market crash of the twenties without a man to prop her up, but the rest of the book ( and the movie) is solid gold , irreverent  inspiration , my first taste of an independent , free spirited dame . Back in the twenties were Mame any younger she would have been a flapper, flaunting her disdain for what was then considered acceptable behavior, drinking excessively and touting social and sexual norms.

33 Beekman Place
The story begins in the book with Mame’s brother dropping dead of a heart attack and leaving his only son Patrick in her care , he arrives  at Beekman Place with his nanny  Norah Muldoon on a night when Mame is holding one of her many “affairs” , her apartment would change decor depending on the theme of the party all of which were lubricated by bootleg gin and bucket loads of caviar ( which she pronounced “cav-YAAAR) or fishberry jam as she calls it to help Patrick better understand what it is. On the night of Patrick’s arrival the soiree theme is inspired by the Far East, Chinese dragons and buddhas abound with sukiyaki and raw fish tails along with women dressed as men, a monkey wearing a turban and a pianist playing upside down. Since its also a time of prohibition I figured my first drink would be disguised as a box of Chinese take-out. The drink itself is flavored by toasted brown rice orgeat and Chinese five spice


Inspired by a classic Mai Tai this drink takes its flavor cues from Cantonese roasted duck that uses five spice as its dominant accent. The orgeat is made using toasted brown rice that is then ground up in simple syrup and left to release its milk ( recipe below)

Brown Rice Orgeat
2 cups organic brown rice
2 cups rice milk
2 cups cane sugar
1/2 oz orange flower water
1 oz unflavored vodka

*toast the brown rice in a skillet over a medium flame until its medium brown and smelling nutty.
*add the brown rice to a large container along with sugar and rice milk, blend on high with an immersion   blender so the rice resembles coarse grains
*dump everything into  a ziplock bag and sous vide for 1 1/2 hours at 55 degrees C, alternatively you can put it in a screw top jar and let it sit for 24 hours in the fridge, I am impatient so the sous vide is my cure for this downfall.
*strain when finished and add the orange flower water and vodka to perfume and help stabilize . store in the fridge till needed

Chinese 5 spice rum
1/2 cup Chinese fixe spice powder( might sound like a lot but you want to taste the 5 spice once cocktail mixed)
1 750ml bottle of anejo rum such as zacapa or appleton estate

again I sous vide this infusion  as above but it works just as well in a screw top jar that you agitate every so often, steep for about 24 hours.

For the drink
(per 16 oz box)
2 oz five spice rum
1 oz brown rice orgeat
1 oz lime juice
1 oz pierre ferrand orange curacao
1/2 oz pernod absinthe


Add everything to your shaker with 5 ice cubes, shake for 5 seconds strain into a pellet ice filled take-out box of your choice ( I like the pagoda decorated 16 oz version)
garnish with a pickled kumquat, a pinch of 5 spice powder and a mint or basil sprig, add straw for easy consumption

Knowledge is Power ( or bully for Bixby)
Patrick settles into his new routine with Mame, a couple of weeks go by and the trustee that his late father has appointed, Dwight Babcock of the Knickerbocker Bank, sends a telegram that he’s coming to visit to discuss Patrick’s schooling, its the morning after another night before where Mame’s bestie , the honorable Vera Charles is sleeping off her gin fix in the Marie Antoinette room. Mame panics, she can’t be seen to have Patrick living in a house of  ill repute as it were so she sends him down stairs to greet the trustee whilst she wrestles with her halo and reviving Vera. Whilst waiting for Miss Dennis to appear Patrick prepares a Martini for  Babcock, he accepts the drink but then questions Mame on how such a youngster knows drink mixing, she responds with “knowledge is power” ! Which reminds Babcock why he’s there , he suggests Bixby school for Patrick where he’ll turn into a bully little chap,  though Mame has decided on a progressive school in New York’s Greenwich Village run by the dashing and free spirited Acacius Paige, where the kids pretend to be fishes and swim on the floor naked together to learn about conception, nothing in the least wrong with that! Mame feigns agreement with Babcock and shoos him away .

The Shiso-tini
Since Patrick is swimming with the fishies in this scene I thought perhaps a Martini accompanied by some fishberry jam , what goes better with fish than shiso and cucumber , the drink is served in a traditional coupe modeled after the breasts of  Marie-Antoinette herself .

For the drink
1 oz of Cap rock gin ( aromas of cucumber and rosewater)
1  oz shiso infused dolin blanc vermouth ( I sous vide this to get maximum flavor extraction)
1 oz  cucumber junmai sake  ( slice cucumbers and allow to steep in the sake for a day or so)
4 slices of english cucumber
1 drop rosewater


*muddle the cucumber gently into the gin, you want to release the favor without muddying the gin too much
*add the vermouth and rosewater , stir for 10 seconds and strain into a chilled coupe glass, garnish with cucumber slices.

Meditation and the Jackson-Pickett-Burnsides
Babcock soon figures out that Mame is pulling the wool over his eyes, he demands that Patrick gets sent to his alma mater  the restricted and exclusive St.Boniface, this also happens to be the same day as the great crash of 1929 where fortunes, including Mame’s are wiped out. Miss Dennis obviously devastated starts to brainstorm on jobs she can do, she is consoled by that first lady of the theater Vera Charles, who asks her to join her on the stage in a dramatic production, needless to say the gig does not work out and Mame moves onto her next performance as a switchboard operator which again ends in comedic disaster, lastly she signs up as a Macy’s store assistant where she meets her future late husband Beauregard Jackson Pickett Burnside of the Georgia Pickett Burnsides y’all hear. Her Macy’s career may be short lived but a love blossoms fast and hard between the two and soon Mame is being whisked off to Beau’s plantation to meet his mama and the extended family.  In order to show Beau she’s an all round gal,  Mame  agrees to go on a fox hunt and is saddled with a wild horse called Meditation a jealous neighbor’s attempt to de-seat Mame from the the hunt and Beau’s heart , needless to say our heroine lives to tell another day , saves the fox and bags the man.

When I think of Georgia of course I think of peaches, since Mame is hard up for cash I thought perhaps I would use canned peaches gussied up to make a thrifty Peach Bellini style drink , using of course only the finest Crystal to serve it in, the dichotomy in this drink of white trash ( is that horrible I think canned peaches are white trash?) and high class are very satisfying to my sensibilities .

The Fox & The Hound

2-3 canned peach slices
3/4 oz peach liqueur such as gaffed peach de vigne
3/4 oz domaine de canton ginger liqueur
3/4  oz white verjus
3 dashes peach bitters
3-4 oz of bubbles, your choice cheap and cheerful or higher priced .
1 spritz of Aftelier’s galangal essence ( to finish drink)


In the bottom of your glass place the peach slices, crush gently so they break up slightly . Build the remaining ingredients on top and finish with the bubbles, give a couple of stirs with a bar spoon and spritz over the galangal spray, it will fill the nose with a  lovely spiced aroma as the drink is sipped, you can also provide long spoons to fish out the drunken peach slices too.

The Parched Garden
One would think the next chapter would be about how they all lived happily ever after, they did indeed live happily but the ever after only lasted about eight or nine years, Mame and Beau travelled extensively for their honeymoon , in fact eight or nine years and on one of their excursions up the Matterhorn Beau took a step too far back whilst trying to focus his camera and ended, well you know the rest. Mame spends the next few months in mourning when Patrick ( now he’s all grown up and graduating college) suggests  she come back home and write her memoirs. He enlists one Brian O’Banion to help in this endeavor , he charms Mame and presents her with a book of his “pomes” called “The Parched Garden” , along with her secretary Agnes Gooch who follows her every word Mame recounts her life adventures , O’Banion it turns out is a bit of a freeloading scoundrel, whilst the ladies work, he lords it up eating and drinking at his leisure and contributes barely a lick of work, his ardor for Mame growing with every moment, Agnes on the other hand develops a crush on O’Banion  . One evening Mame is invited to a a meeting with Warner Bros. to discuss buying the rights to her book for a film, only thing is Patrick and his girl Gloria are visiting too so she gussies up Missie Gooch to go to the meeting with Brian instead. Agnes returns the following morning looking the worst for wear and not remembering a thing from the night before , O’Banion is nowhere to be found , when Ito the butler asks her what happened all she can say is “I lived!” Of course we later learn Mr.O’Banion had his way with her.

In honor of that cad O’Banion I thought I would recreate a wood sorrel sour I came up with a couple of years ago, wood sorrel looks almost exactly like clover but is tart with yellow flowers , great in salads and on raw fish but also when blended into a liquid creates a great sour layer to drinks . I acquired some from a hike last year and now its taking over my not so parched garden.

O’Banion’s Obligation

1 1/2 oz Irish whiskey
3/4 oz elderflower liqueur
3/4 oz wood sorrel cocchi americano ( 1 cup of wood sorrel leaves blended into 1 bottle of cocchi americano)
1/2 oz simple syrup
1/2 oz meyer lemon juice
2 drops lime bitters
1 oz aguafaba ( chickpea water, used instead  of egg whites )


add everything to you shaker and whip shake for 5 seconds with 1 small ice cube, this will aerate your aguafaba , add 4 more ice cubes and shake hard for a further 5-6 seconds , strain into a vessel of choice , a coupe or goblet works best, garnish with a single wood sorrel leaf or a garland depending on your desire for dramatic effect.

Upson Downs
Lets back up a bit , so you remember Patrick was introducing his girl Gloria to Mame? Well the next day Mame is invited to visit her parents in Connecticut , Mame is not altogether impressed with Gloria but she visits with the parents for Patrick’s sake , whilst at their estate she learns just how wrong Gloria and her family are for her nephew, snobs and racists to boot . Gloria’s father tries to show off his prowess in the drink mixing department and makes her his signature drink the Upson Daiquiri, a trick he learned from a Cuban using honey instead of sugar. You realize thats probably all he’s put in the drink since Mame can hardly drink it, but its a good starting point so the drink that follows is I hope a slightly more drinkable version.

The Upson Daiquiri
The classic Daiquiri Naturale  is three ingredients , rum, sweetener and lime juice , its shaken and served up and its delicious ! Not wanting to stray too far off the formula I added a couple of things to make it my own.

2oz chai green tea infused white rum ( cruzan is the one I use most often)
1/2 oz lime juice
1/2 oz yuzu juice
3/4 oz manuka honey syrup
2 dashes lime bitters
1 drop vanilla
pinch of smoked salt
bee pollen to garnish


Add everything to your shaker with 4 ice cubes, shake hard  for 6 seconds , strain up into a coupe glass and finish with a pinch of bee pollen

Yul Oolu
Mame horrified by her experience at the Upson’s starts working on a plan to turn Gloria off of Patrick, she decides to plan a get together at Beekman Place and make it as eccentric an experience as possible . She enlists the help of her new secretary Pegeen Ryan, a smart and savvy young lady. Beekman gets decorated in the style of Danish Modern complete with interactive furnishings and a mobile that could also double as a giant catcher of dreams.  The Upsons arrive with Gloria in tow expecting a safe family get together ,  Mame terrorizes them with plates of pickled rattlesnake and chalices of burning booze that she calls “The Flaming Mame” , to top it off they get stuck on the elevated furniture which for everyone but the Upsons turns into a hoot. Needless to say both Gloria and her folks storm off into the night never to be seen again, leaving Patrick in the every capable hands of Miss Pigeen Ryan.

The Flaming Mame
Who knows what Mame Dennis put into her concoction but it reminded me of a tiki drink called the Scorpion Bowl that has a small amount  of absinthe ignited on the top, super tasty, pretty boozy and great party drink. This version is an individual serving but if you found a bowl large enough multiply all ingredients by four for a community bowl.

In advance prepare your ice balls, I used  a cube mold then popped them into the cocktail kingdom ice ball maker that magically reshapes a cube into a ball, whoever said you can’t fit a square peg into a round hole be damned!

for the ice cube

1/2 cup filtered water
1 oz grapefruit juice
1/4 oz cynar or campari
freeze overnight then when ready pop them out of the mold, don’t add too much juice or sugar or it wont freeze.

For the Drink

1 oz anejo rum
1/2 oz mezcal
1/2 oz cynar
3/4 oz cinnamon infused orgeat ( cinnamon powder allowed to steep in almond syrup)
1 oz grapefruit juice
1/2 oz lime juice


To present the drink you can get as creative or as simple as you wish, I hollowed out grapefruit halves and place them in large stainless martini  glasses, then surrounded the grapefruit shell with kafir lime leaves to add a touch of a tropical element . The Iceball then went inside the shell

to make the drink add everything to your shaker and shake hard with 4 ice cubes for 6 seconds , strain into your grapefruit shells and garnish with  a lime half that has been doused with absinthe , the lime half is skewered so it will sit on the top without rolling away, when ready to serve light the absinthe.

and finally they all lived happily ever after!

Cheers and Cin Cin!

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.018 Its getting hot in here, so take out all your cloves!




weating yet? If this gratuitous shot of hunky Paul Newman doesn’t do it for you ( I will seriously question your warm bloodedness) then perhaps the offerings we have for you this month might do the trick. Though considering the weather here in Southern Cali as I write is 86 Degrees , even typing is making me schwitz!

Hot spiked drinks were my Pop’s favorite thing about winter, that and the yearly offering of Islay scotch that would wend its way south every Holiday with my brother,a peace offering of sorts, the only moment of the year that these two great minds could come together and agree on one subject. My first whiffs of the fair lady of the Isles would come floating toward my delicate girlish nostrils via Poppa Iggy’s hot Toddy, I don’t remember many more of the contents of his cup except for maybe honey and lemon, sometimes I think black pepper got in there. When researching hot cocktails the one that appears the most popular is indeed the Hot Toddy ( or Tottie which is also slang for a pretty young girl trying to pass for someone older). The toddie became popular in the late 19th century and was possibly brought over from India to Scotland, a traditional mix of scotch whisky, citrus, honey and hot water and was a dram taken before bed time to help cure colds, though the American lung association will advise that drinking alcohol when suffering from a cold is not a good idea since alcohol dehydrates , nonetheless its still a popular drink that is consumed if you’re suffering or not regardless of health warnings. The whisky serves to numb the pain, the citrus for a dose of big C, the honey to soothe and the hot water to raise your temperature. The popular classic cocktail the Penicillin is I personally think a cold version using similar ingredients with the addition of a peaty Islay scotch and ginger for extra kick. The toddy can take many forms, I like to use a variety of liquors and instead of plain hot water I infuse it with teas or herbs that will complement the flavors, for instance, chamomile and calvados, chai tea and rum, Earl grey tea, amaretto and bourbon, you get the picture I hope.

The second most popular hot drink would be the Irish coffee, its rumored was invented by a bartender at the LA tavern Tom Bergins which up until recently when it closed its doors was the hot spot ( pun intended) to go to for the best Irish coffee in town. The drink comprises of Irish whiskey, coffee and a generous topping of heavy cream. Europeans might disagree with this story , in Vienna and Germany coffee has been served with spirits and cream as far back as the 17th century except they used a cloud of whipped cream as a decadent foil to mask some of the liquor.

In old Blighty a popular wintery tipple would be hot apple cider laced with brandy and was used in a game for Guy Faulks night called “Apple Bobbing” ( takes place on November 5th a pagan celebration where a paper stuffed effigy of Mr.Faulks who attempted to blow up Parliament is thrown onto a bonfire in a” take that you cad” type of retaliation, the origins of Burning Man methinks ) , whole apples are tossed into a bowl of the laced cider and the trick is to try taking a bite of an apples before you fall over drunk from taking mouthfuls of boozy cider, those wicked little apples will as soon as you get close duck under the surface making it near impossible to take a chunk out of them, you guess the rest its more a of a drinking game than anything else.

Spiced or mulled wines are another fruity alternative , the Swedes take the infusing of their wines one step further by adding almonds and raisins as well as spices to make glogg, rhymes with hug, am curious if some errant pirate landed on their fair shores and corrupted the Swedes forever, more likely its roots go back to those conquering Romans who drank spiced warm wine all the way back in the first century. I would imagine wearing those short skirts back then demanded some form of inner fortification to keep soldiers from freezing their nuts off. Some version of mulled wine is drank at Christmas time pretty much all over Europe and some Latin American countries. The Germans have something they call “glow wine”, in Italy they have “vin Brule” or burnt wine. My country men the Poles also have an affection for warmed up beer that has honey and spices added to it , Pops would drink it regularly on frigid nights when he had returned from being out all day in the freezing damp air of England, he would warm up a bottle of Newcastle brown or Guinness and sometimes even ramp up its powers by adding a shot of whiskey, kind of like a Boiler maker really.

I hope all this talk of warm and toasty drinks is getting you in the mood, if like me you are sitting in shorts and a bikini then save these ideas for the next time your holed up in a cabin in Mammoth or enduring a rainy afternoon next to the fire with the cat and good book, just don’t let the cat take a nip from your cup or your idillic sojourn will be no more. My favorites for this season without further ado….


The Faulk’s Tail Punch

Per drink you will need:

1 oz Calvados , Applejack or Brandy

1/2 oz Madeira

1 barspoon Kummel ( Germanic cumin spiced liqueur)

1/2 oz honey

3/4 oz lemon

2 oz hot mulled apple cider ( spiced with cloves, nutmeg, allspice and orange peel)


still life with apples by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Heat up your cider in a pot, you can make this a punch bowl or in small batches , throw in your spices as much or as little as you like and let simmer on a low flame covered for about 15 minutes . Meantime add your booze and juice to punch bowl or cup, when cider is ready pour into your bowl or mug and garnish with a cinnamon stick or a couple of whole cloves.

We have a cold version of this drink at Ink that is mixed with buttermilk and tastes like liquid apple pie


Little Oge Flynn

for the drink:

1 1/2 oz of Irish whisky infused with Ibara chocolate ( I used one wafer or tablet per 1 bottle of whisky, you need to break it up and let it sit and ruminate for at least a week, lucky for me the impatient one I sous vide mine at 55 degrees for an hour and a half to get a good amount of flavor)

2 of good quality piping hot coffee or espresso, espresso is my favorite it has less acid and more flavor

3/4 oz cinnamon simple syrup ( Vietnamese or Saigon is fuller and more intoxicating in my opinion) 1 tablespoon per 3 cups of 1:1 simple , needs to be added when the simple syrup is hot

4 dashes Miracle Mile Chocolate Chilli bitters

1 dash of vanilla extract

1/2 oz Pedro Ximinez PX sherry ( the raisins in this and the chocolate are beautiful together)

for the milk foam:

in your ISI gun add all ingredients and charge with one NO2 canister

8 oz of skim milk ( or buttermilk)

1/4 oz vanilla extract

3 oz of egg whites

1 oz 1:1 simple syrup

study in black and tan by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Assemble your ingredients in a shaking tin stir a couple of times and pour into your warmed glass or vessel of choice , top withe generous cloud of milk foam and shaved dark chocolate, garnish with cinnamon stick.


Heathersage Cup

3 oz strong sage tea ( fresh sage leaves steeped in hot water for about 10-15 minutes)

2 oz islay scotch

1 oz lemon juice

1 – 1 1/2 oz clove infused honey syrup ( 10 cloves to 2 cups of honey syrup 1:1 honey to hot water) infuse the cloves whilst your honey solution is still hot, let sit for a day)

a couple of grinds of fresh black pepper ( for kick)

2 juniper berries

sage leaves and a lemon slice for garnish

still life with teapot by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Put all ingredients in a heat proof glass or mug, muddle the juniper berries everso slightly, add the sage tea and stir, top with lemon slice and sage leaves.


Sweet Bowl of Fire

This one takes some time, so be prepared.

1 bottle of average red wine, a good Syrah or Pinot Noir picks up the flavors of the fruit beautifully

1 /2 cup toasted almonds

1/2 cup of raisins

peel of 2 oranges plus the juice for some tartness

1/2 cup of molasses ( pomegranate molasses works too but adds a real tartness to the finish)

2 cinnamon sticks

1 tablespoon crushed pink peppercorns

6 whole cloves

1/2 a whole vanilla bean with the seeds scraped out

1/2 cup Smith & Cross rum ( 1 cup if you want to make a lively gathering)

3 oz st. Elizabeth Allspice dram


still life No. 4 by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Toss everything except the rum and allspice dram into a pot and allow to simmer covered for an hour. Let sit for a further 2-3 hours covered but off the flame to fully infuse. When ready strain out all the fruit and pour the infused wine back into a pot to reheat, when ready to serve pour in rum and allspice, for each cup slice half an orange, add a couple of whole cloves and pour in a generous ladle full of the wine mixture. Great with a slice of gingerbread or a biscotti for dunking.


Coming up ….. a nip of nogg

Issue No. 009 Twas a braw, bricht, moonlicht nicht!

hrough the years I have tended bar at many a NYE celebration, NYE as with most other holidays except for thanksgiving, technically not my holiday, is a complete let down , so I would rather be working or doing a Garbo ( wanting to be alone). There is one NYE however that goes down in memory for me, it was spent in the bonnie town of Edinburgh where until you have experienced the Scot’s celebration of the final day of the year you have not really experienced a NYE. Why you may ask? Well they just do things differently, and plus the party can rage on for days. They even have a different name for the celebration calling it Hogmanay, the word stems from possibly the French or Norse languages of old. They also keep old traditions very much alive and as a bit of a history nut its reet up ma alley. As it should be the traditional drink of Hogmanay is Scotch whisky, in Gaelic it is called the “water of life”, what better tipple to partake in to ring in the new .

Lets toast with a wee dram of Hogmanay history

Hogmanay is the Scottish celebration of New Years Eve and can last for days. It is believed the Scots inherited the celebration of Hogmanay from the Vikings and their celebration of the shortest day but many believe that as Christmas was virtually banned and not celebrated in Scotland from the end of the 17th century until the 1950’s( Christmas” is “Christ’s Mass” and mass was banned in Scotland, there are records of charges being brought against people for keeping “Yule” as it was called in Scotland), New Years Eve was a good excuse for some revelry and the excuse to drink whisky and eat good food. Hogmanay involves parties and festivals across Scotland with the largest and most famous public party in Edinburgh.
There are many customs, both national and local, associated with Hogmanay. The most widespread national custom is the practice of “first footing” which starts immediately after midnight. This involves being the first person to cross the threshold of a friend or neighbour and often involves the giving of symbolic gifts such as salt, coal, shortbread, whisky or a rich fruit cake called black bun, all intended to bring different kinds of luck to the householder. Food and drink (as the gifts) are then given to the guests. This may go on throughout the early hours of the morning and well into the next day (although modern days see people visiting houses well into the middle of January) much better methinks than the boring one night of drunken mayhem which results in either hugging the bog ( toilet to you) or waking up in a strange bed, dont get me wrong nothing bad about either just gets a bit old once you leave yer twenties.The first-foot is supposed to set the luck for the rest of the year, for me this ritual sounds much more interesting especially as traditionally, tall dark men are preferred as the first-foot, any tall dark man would be welcome as my first , second , third or twentieth foot.

An even more interesting and charming custom from the Highlands, which has survived to a small extent and seen some degree of revival, is to celebrate Hogmanay with the saining (Scot’s for ‘protecting, blessing’) of the household and livestock. Early on New Year’s morning, householders drink and then sprinkle ‘magic water’ from ‘a dead and living ford around the house (a ‘dead and living ford’ refers to a river ford that is routinely crossed by both the living and the dead). After the sprinkling of the water in every room, on the beds and all the inhabitants, the house is sealed up tight and branches of juniper are set on fire and carried throughout the house and byre. The juniper smoke is allowed to thoroughly fumigate the buildings until it causes sneezing and coughing among the inhabitants. Then all the doors and windows are flung open to let in the cold, fresh air of the new year. The of the house then administers ‘a restorative’ from the whisky bottle, and the household sits down to its New Year breakfast. The song of “Auld lang syne” is a scots song sang on Hogmanay written by Scottish number one son and poet Robby Burns , the words literally translates to old, long since, or long long ago.The song begins by posing a rhetorical question as to whether it is right that old times be forgotten, and is generally interpreted as a call to remember long-standing friendships. In my humble opinion old times should be revived especially if it means a tall dark handsome man comes through my door bearing a bottle of fire water.

Lets toast with a wee dram of Scotch History

Scotch whisky (often referred to simply as “Scotch”) is malt whisky or grain whiskey made in Scotland. All Scotch whisky was originally made from malt barley. Commercial distilleries began introducing whisky made from wheat and rye in the late eighteenth century. According to the Scotch Whisky Association, Scotch whisky evolved from a Scottish drink called uisge beatha, which means “lively water” or “water of life”. The earliest documented record of distillation in Scotland occurred as long ago as 1494, as documented in the Exchequer Rolls, which were tax records of this time, The following quote records “Eight bolls of malt to Friar John Cor wherewith to make aqua vitae”. This was equivalent to about 1,500 bottles, which suggests that distillation was well-established by the late fifteenth century. Friar John Cor was the distiller at Lindores Abbey in the Kingdom of Fife, he was a Tironensian monk who were well regarded for their skills as alchemists . Lindores Abbey is known as the birthplace of Scotch whisky. You know we owe a lot to those silent men of the cloth, without their alchemic tinkerings we’d all be drinking fermented potato water, oh wait thats vodka ! Scotch whisky is divided into five distinct categories: Single malt Scotch whisky, single grain Scotch whisky, blended malt Scotch whisky (formerly called “vatted malt” or “pure malt”), blended grain Scotch whisky, and blended Scotch whisky. All Scotch whisky must be aged in oak barrels for at least three years. Any age statement on a bottle of Scotch whisky, expressed in numerical form, must reflect the age of the youngest whisky used to produce that product. A whisky with an age statement is known as guaranteed-age whisky. Scotland was traditionally divided into four regions: The Highlands, Lowland, Islay, and Campbeltown, each of these regions produces very different styles of Scotch. Below a selection of my personal favorites.

Lowland Auchentoshen Three Wood is a triple-distilled malt matured in bourbon barrels and finished in Oloroso and Pedro Ximenez sherry casks. These casks impart a great deal of complexity and depth to this nuanced whisky; the nose and palate express dried dark fruit, caramel, roasted nuts, and cocoa, while the finish introduces a citrus note. Unlike many delicate Lowland malts, this spirit boasts satisfying heft and weight, making it an unexpected treat. Auchentoshen is nicknamed the breakfast whiskey due to its sweet and delicate nature, in Gaelic the name translates to “the corner of the field”

Speyside Balvenie Doublewood , two casks of different character produce a deeper, more complex flavor and greater character than maturation in only one wood. During maturation, the Balvenie DoubleWood is transferred from a traditional whisky oak cask to an original sherry oak cask, thereby acquiring character from each. The result is a rich, mellow flavor of great depth and unusual complexity Balvenie produces whisky in a traditional style. The use of locally grown barley is preferred, and is floor malted ( malt grains are spread out on a wooden floor which is then heated and smoked). Balvenie has many ranges of whiskey, a slew of core whiskey as well as many

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limited editions. For the money I love the Doublewood for everyday, the Caribbean cask and the Madeira cask or Islay from the limited edition collection.

The Highlands Oban distillery (Scottish Gaelic Taigh-stail an Òbain) is a whisky distillery in the scottish west coast port of Oban. It is one of the few distilleries to have been built, in 1794, before the actual town which sprung up later in the surrounding craggy harbor.The distillery has only two pot stills, making it one of the smallest in Scotland, producing a whisky that has been described as having a ‘West Highland’ flavor that falls between the dry, smoky style of the Scottish islands and the lighter, sweeter malts of the Highlands. Oban is one of only two remaining distilleries in the Western Highlands, and its stills are some of the smallest in Scotland. Oban’s unique, enticing character reflects its origin, showing characteristics of both the Highland and Island styles. Elegant and glowing, it marries the briny sea air character of Island malts to the soft, rich, fruity style of the Highlands.

The Islands Highland park ,this Orkney Islands malt is produced at the northernmost distillery in Scotland, and is renowned for its consistently excellent whiskies. In Scotland and its Whiskies, Michael Jackson described Highland Park as “The greatest all-rounder among whiskies, because it combines so many elements: maltiness, smokiness, heather-honey notes and sherry character, in a rich, rounded whole.” Highland Park 12 Year Old is a surprisingly good value with tremendous complexity. Aromas of sweet peat, heather, smoke and ripe apple lead into satisfyingly malty flavors of honey, heather, pineapple, pear, and smoky peat. Try this single malt with just a drop of water to unveil its depth Talisker ,the malted barley used in Talisker production comes from Muir of Ord. Talisker has an unusual feature – swan neck lye pipes. A loop exists in the pipes taking the vapour from the stills to the worm tubs so some of the alcohol condenses before it even reaches the cooler. It then runs back in to the stills and is distilled again these coils are believed to give the whisky a “fuller” flavour (itself an indication of higher sugar content).Talisker’s water comes from springs directly above the distillery via a network of pipes and wells. Talisker was the favourite whisky of writers Robert Louis Stevenson and henry Vollam Morton. In his poem. “The Scotsman’s Return From Abroad”, Stevenson mentioned “The king o’ drinks, as I conceive it, Talisker, Islay, or Glenlivet.” Talisker 10 Year Old is a peaty malt with bold aromas of smoke, spice, and heather. The palate is unmistakably briny and quite complex with flavors of smoked meat, cracked pepper, and a hint of candied almond. The finish is slightly sweet and quite spicy.


The whiskies of the distilleries along the southeastern coast of the isle of Islay,Laphroaig, Lagavullin, and Ardberg, have a smoky character derived from peat, considered a central characteristic of the Islay malts, and ascribed both to the water from which the whisky is made and to the peating levels of the barley. Many describe this as a “medicinal” flavour. They also possess notes of iodine, seaweed and salt. Caol Ila, on the northern side of the island, across from Jura, also produces a strongly peated whisky. Lagavulin is an Islay single malt Scotch Whisky produced in Lagavullin on the island of Islay, United Kingdom.The standard Lagavulin single malt is 16 years old (43%), though they regularly release a 12-year-old cask strength variety, a Distiller’s edition finished in Pedro Ximinez casks, and 25- and 30-year-oldvarieties.A recent 21-year-old bottling, matured solely in first-fill sherry casks, has been extremely well received by enthusiasts.The name of Lagavulin is an anglicization of the Gaelic lag a’mhuilin, meaning “hollow by the mill”. Lagavulin was established in 1830 and has the driest start of all single malts. Full amber in color, with a dominant sherry nose. Full-bodied yet smooth. The dryness is offset by the sweetness of the sherry character. Salty notes and a huge powerful peaty finish. A connoisseur’s malt, and with consistently high marks from late critic Michael Jackson of Whisky Magazine. Ardberg The name is derived from the Scottish Gaelic: Àrd Beag, meaning Little Height. Whiskey Advocate has this to say about Ardberg’s Corryvreckan Single malt: “Powerful, muscular, well-textured, and invigorating. Even within the realm of Ardbeg, this one stands out. The more aggressive notes of coal tar, damp kiln, anise, and smoked seaweed are supported by an array of fruit (black raspberry, black cherry, plum), dark chocolate, espresso, molasses, bacon fat, kalamata olive, and warming cinnamon on the finish. Quite stunning!” The Ardbeg distillery has been producing whisky since 1798, and began commercial production in 1815. Like most Scottish distilleries, for most of its history, its whisky was produced for use in blended whisky, rather than as a single malt.Ardbeg whisky is considered to be amongst the peatiest in the world, with most expressions using malt. Ardbeg seldom release whiskies with age statements.

Lets toast with a wee bit o’ the dram

Rusty nail

A rusty nail is traditionally 2 parts Scotch whisky to 1 part Drambuie a honey and spice based liqueur fortified with malt whisky. I tinkered around and came up with my own version of a honey based liqueur .

Spiced Honey Liqueur recipe:

1 cup runny honey , orange blossom is my favorite.

1 cup hot water

1 teaspoon of lapsang tea

2 medium sized chunks of ginger peeled and chopped

10 whole cloves

10 crushed black peppercorns

3 strips of orange peel

5 oz Islay Scotch ( I used laphroaig 10 year)

smoking gun optional

throw everything together into a small sauce pan, heat through but don’t allow to boil, keep on stove at lowest heat for about 1/2 an hour. Strain through a chinoise strainer and add the Islay scotch. If you want to take this one step further add the strained liquid to a plastic wrapped jar and smoke with your smoking gun, see Issue No.005 for full details on smoking a liquid.

Rob Roy Cocktail

2 oz Oban single malt Whisky

3/4 oz spiced honey liqueur

orange twist

3 drops Miracle Mile Chocolate Chilli bitters

garnish of cracked black pepper


Flaming orange peel

In a chilled old fashioned glass add your ice cube/s. Pour in the Oban , liqueur and bitters. Give a good stir for about 30 seconds. Take your orange peel in one hand and a lit match in the other, above your cocktail spritz the orange oils out of your twist onto the flaming match so that the ignited oils drop onto your drink. Rub the orange twist on the rim of your glass and drop into your drink, finish with black pepper.

Crooked kilt

The Crooked Kilt is a new drink on the cocktail scene, created by master drink maker Leo Robitschek, the combination of the scotch with spices and fruit is absolutely lovely and one of my new favorite drinks, here as an homage to the master is my version, instead of Islay scotch I spritz a wee bit of Mezcal on the glass, the addition of the egg white softens the mouth feel of the alcohol so it feels less boozie than it is.

Oaxacan Kilt

2 oz blended scotch such as Famous Grouse or Ballantines

1 /2 oz agave

1/2 oz green chartreuse liqueur

1 oz fresh lime juice

1 oz pineapple juice

1 egg white

5 or 6 mint leaves

2 dash angostura bitters

mint sprig to garnish

spritz of Mezcal

Toss everything into your Boston shaker and give a dry shake sans ice to emulsify your egg whites, add ice and shake again until you get a nice frost on your shaker tin.Spritz your Mezcal on a chilled coupette glass and strain your cocktail into glass. top off with mint sprig.

Tipsy Laird Nog

Tipsy Laird Trifle is a dessert usually eaten as part of the Hogmanay celebrations, it is a layering of cream, fresh raspberries and vanilla cake soaked in some sort of whisky. I took a Ramos Fizz recipe and tweaked it using Tipsy Laird inspired ingredients.

For the Cocktail

2 oz blended scotch whisky that has been infused with vanilla beans or if you want to be really creative get a vanilla pound cake and infuse that in your whisky overnight, one cake usually works for one 750ml bottle of whisky, for vanilla bean infusion scrape out the vanilla paste of one bean and add to half a bottle of whisky along with the bean itself, allow to infuse for a couple of days giving a good shake every so often.

1 oz ruby port

1/2 oz agave

2 drops orange flower water

2 drops Miracle Mile Orange bitters

2 oz almond milk ( can sub 1 oz heavy cream to make it richer, dairy sadly is not my friend)

1 egg white

1 oz fresh lemon juice

splash of champagne to top off .

Toss everything into your Boston shaker except for champagne and any garnish, dry shake without ice for about 20 seconds, add ice and shake again for another 30-40 seconds or so. Strain into vessel of your choice with a couple of ice cubes added , scoop out the foam and plop on top. Finish with a splash of champagne and a star anise pod or cinnamon stick.

Hot Toddy

A toddy is a hot drink traditionally served in the winter months that includes some form of hot liquid such as hot water or milk, some form of alcohol usually whisky or brandy , honey, lemon and a combination of spices. Below is a version I’ve been tinkering with recently.

Hot Cider

1 liter apple cider

juice of 2 lemons

10 whole cloves

1/2 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg

2 chunks of peeled ginger chopped finely

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper or to taste depending on your heat preference.

toss everything into a sauce pan and allow to simmer but not boil for about half an hour till the cider is flavored by your spices.

Mackinnon’s Hot Grog

1 1/2 oz blended scotch whisky

1/2 oz Islay scotch

1/2 oz runny honey

1/2 Fernet branca

6 oz hot cider

Add everything to a heat proof glass and give a good stir, garnish with a lemon twist or wheel plus a pinch more of black pepper.


Bliadhna mhath ùr!


Next up…..The hair of the dog that bit you


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