Issue No.038 “Tails From The Bookworm” Annie Hall





ew Yawwkers love to hate Los Angeles, from experience I know this , I lived in the city that never sleeps for fourteen of my years, and have now been in LA for almost six, my die hard NY friends turn their nose up when I suggest they come and experience life on the west coast, its just not cool to live here so they say. I like to think of myself as an honorary NYer, I mean after battling through fourteen sweltering summers and frigid winters, countless subway rides with weirdos leering at me ,  been held up at knife and gun point, and turning a blind eye to all the literal and figurative rats I feel I’ve done my time in the trenches and deserve some sort of badge of honor, no ? I also have a luff hate thing going on with LA, so I think its appropro that I write this story.

I moved to Los Angeles to reset my life, to escape the constant clamoring of sirens and tourists and players OH MY! LA has been good to me, because I’m not constantly focusing on my survival or recovering from the exhaustion of the fight I have opened up time and energy  to focus on my creativity and and my general wellbeing, I live minutes from the beach ( that yes I rarely visit, too many people ) but that cool ocean air and misty mountains surrounding to the north of me are a tonic to my nervous system.  Through all of this though I have many moments that I yearn for the thrill of NY’s  vibrant energy where anything is possible, including bugs being tossed at you on the subway,  Los Angeles seems so boring and  pedestrian in comparison.

In this issue  I thought I would pay tribute to New York via that quintessential  LA hater Woody Allen and his nervous romance Annie Hall I know not technically a book but at one point it started life as a screen play which is written word and good enough for me .The poster above is in Polish, thats me representing my heritage in this post, this  issue is  also a loose ode to the  fifteen year  anniversary of the 9/11 attacks and those iconic twin towers the  double exclamation marks at the end of the gritty sentence that is New York City ,  Yo!!

The premise of this edition is taking classic  beverages and either dirtying them up NYC style or making them healthful a LA mode

Nazis and Neurosis 

Woody’s character is called Alvy Singer, a Jewish boy raised in Brooklyn who made good by becoming a famous comic , we first meet him as he laments to the camera the downfall of his relationship with Annie , he can’t seem to grasp what went wrong. In the next scene  he’s waiting at the movies for his girl  to appear,  as he waits his comedic self is recognized by a couple of teamster looking guys that he refers to as the cast of The Godfather, one of which pesters him for his autograph for his brudder . Annie finally shows up  looking depressed, Alvy complains its too late to see the movie ( it started two minutes before) and that he has to see a flick from start to fin, so he suggests they go watch a documentary on the holocaust instead,cheery activity for a Saturday afternoon!  Annie reluctantly agrees . As they wait in line Alvy complains about the guy behind dissecting and critiquing  Fellini’s  film efforts rather too loudly like he’s trying to impress his date , it winds Alvy up to no end ,to distract himself  he asks Annie why she’s depressed , her response that she missed her therapy appointment tightens his ticking time bomb of frustration even further  , he calls it a selfish gesture since they are having problems in the sack and the therapist is helping her work through the issues  she has with Alvy who I should mention at a precocious six years old was already lusting after the opposite sex.

My first offering to accompany Alvy’s neurosis and the melancholy of the film would be that classic movie snack popcorn and a coke, except how about trying it healthy  LA style without all those chemicals and corn syrup, I know how I hear you, how can it be any good if its not the classic, coma inducing formula . Well I think mine comes pretty bloody close, the caffeine kick comes from oolong tea, a cross between green and back teas and packed with natural  stimulants,  its sweetened by a mix of coconut sugar , dates and for color  a bit of  burnt organic cane sugar syrup with veggie bouillon, yes indeed  ! The syrup takes a couple of hours to make but you will be glad you tried it, scent wise it comes ridiculously close and taste wise too but a little more aromatic. Make it as sweet or as not as you feel, its the real, real thing !

“The Real Thing”

For the “Cola ” syrup

*A large pitcher
*A chinoise strainer
*A heavy bottomed pan or an immersion circulator and bath
*A Y peeler
*A measuring cup

For the syrup
1/3 of a cup of dried oolong tea
1 ½ quarts of boiling water
1 Navel orange both peel and juice
2 lemons both peel and juice
2 black limes ( from most Middle Eastern stores or Amazon)
4 cinnamon sticks broken up ( I used a hammer)
6 star anise pods ( whole stars not just seeds)

2 cups date syrup and 1 ½ cups coconut sugar or 3 cups organic cane sugar ( more if you want it sweeter)
¼ oz vanilla extract
¼ cup of bitter orange peel ( from your local brew shop or again Amazon)
½ a teaspoon of veggie bouillon
Optional 3 oz of Tipplemans Burnt Sugar syrup ( Amazon)
Start by steeping your tea in the boiling water
Strain and pour into either your heavy bottomed pan or your ziplock bag
To your pan or bag add your lemon and orange peel, black limes, cinnamon, bitter orange and star anise
In the pan bring to a simmer, then turn heat way down and cover pan allowing aromatics to infuse, in the bag add to your water bath, set immersion circulator to 55 degrees C.
“Cook” for 1 ½ hours , place infusion in fridge overnight to get nice and flavorful
Strain and add lemon and orange juice , vanilla, coconut nectar or cane sugar, bouillon and Burnt sugar syrup
Stir well and refrigerate before serving .

Note: You will need 2 parts of Cola syrup to  4 parts Soda water for a glass of the real “real thing”.

For the Real Thing Cocktail

2 1/2 oz of “Cola” syrup
1 1/2 oz white rum ( I used #62 from Rum Society)
1/2 oz PX sherry ( a raisinated sweet sherry)
1/4 oz lime juice
2 dashes chocolate bitters
2 oz soda water


Add everything to your shaker tin with 5 ice cubes, don’t shake stir to chill the mixture.
Transfer mixture to a your carbonation system (  I used Perlini’s cocktail shaker )
Charge with Co2 and wait for gas to subside before opening
Pour into your vessel of choice .
Serve with a side of popcorn tossed with coconut oil, smoked salt and Togarashi spice

Sacked in the sack

In an attempt to understand whats troubling their relationship Alvy  and Annie discuss his past  sexual relationships with his two ex wives which we watch  via  flash back, the first who was sexually voracious  and turned him off for wanting him too much , the second who found it impossible to climax. He can understand why those two marriages failed but with Annie, things are different, in the beginning they would have a blast doing ordinary  things like buying books, sitting in the park or driving in her VW bug at rapid speeds, somehow somewhere Annie has lost interest in Alvy and he delves even deeper into memories to try figuring out the root cause .

My suggestion at this point would be a good dose of lettuce juice , whats that you say , why lettuce ? Ask the ancient Chinese, they believe that lettuce contains a powerful aphrodisiac , something to do with the minerals within that create a potent love potion to get your mojo moving, your groove grinding and  your bits pumping.

Green Manalishi

Take the standard green juice and dirty it up with a shot of smoky , earthy Mezcal

1 oz Mezcal ( La Nina Espadin or Del Maguey Vida are my choices )
1 oz Floc de gascogne or Pineau des charentes  ( a wine based aperitif )
1 1/2 oz romaine lettuce juice
3/4 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz simple syrup
3 dashes Miracle Mile celery bitters
pinch smoked salt for garnish
seasonal green garnish ( I used wood sorrel above but fennel flowers or celery leaves work too)

beauty shot by Patrick O'Brien-Smith

beauty shot by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Add everything to your shaker with 5 ice cubes and shake for 3 seconds
Strain into a double old fashioned glass filled with ice, preferably one giant cube
finish with pinch of smoked salt and garnish with greenery

Tennis elbow or  speak to me in shellfish 

Flashback to Annie and Alvy’s first meeting , a tennis doubles match set up by friends, after Annie invites him up to her place for some wine and awkward conversation that via mental subtitles we realize is actually flirtation ,  they both start to realize they’re into each other, after having sex on their second date Alvy is a neurotic mess and Annie chills out by smoking some grass, a portent of things to come.  Cut to another scene with Alvy reminiscing about  a weekend getaway with them trying to corral lobsters into the pot , both of them hooting with laughter and screaming as the ill fated  lobsters try scuttling off behind the fridge sensing their imminent butter drenched doom.

I figure some light refreshment at this point would come in the form of California Chardonnay, great for their rooftop scene or to pair with shellfish, the first cocktail I experienced  in NY was a classic martini, its also rumored that the dry martini was invented in the Knickerbocker Hotel in NY . In the EU when you ask for a martini you’ll get a glass of martini vermouth served over ice with a twist or olives, same premise but packing way less  of a spirited punch, a dirty gin martini still happens to be one of my all time favorites though these days I’m drinking it as a 50/50 half gin and half vermouth, great if you want to keep your night going a little longer as I suspect Annie and Alvy would want to do , only in this case  using some Cali chardonnay  instead of dry  vermouth .

The Long Shot Martini

1 1/2 oz London dry gin
1 1/2 oz Broc Cellars Neutral Chardonnay ( great with Lobster)
1 1/2 oz olive brine , my current addiction is to castelvetrano olives, salty without being bullies



Stir in a mixing glass for 10 seconds with a scoop of ice
Strain into a chilled martini glass or coupe
Garnish with olives or a couple of cucumber slices

LA Woman

Alvy’s neurosis  starts to get the better of him, he  becomes a man obsessed with Annie, she catches him following her as she innocently  walks arm in arm with another man, Annie starts to feel stifled by him and annoyed by his lack of support for her aspirations  so she  breaks it off with him, Alvy still hanging on to the idea that he’s done nothing wrong questions random people in the street about the success of their relationships , his agent Rob encourages him to start dating other women. He agrees to go on  a blind date with a writer for Rolling Stone mag , whilst consummating their first night together   the date gets cut short when he gets a frantic call from damsel in distress  Annie , can he come over to kill the spiders in her bathtub, spiders as big as a Buick are as good an excuse as any to restart their romantic dialogue , Annie extends a peace offering of chocolate milk, Alvy  the knight in shining armor slays the dragon, erm spider  his reward a giant case of Miss Hall.

A few days after they get back together , Annie has a gig at a local club singing her usual torch songs, Alvy is there naturally perpetuating their push , pull relationship . Tony Lacy excited by Annie’s performance introduces himself as a Hollywood music producer and man about town , asks if she has representation and  invites them to go hang out with Jack and Anjelica, you know the it couple of seventies New York. Alvy declines for them saying they have a “thing” afterward but Annie is obviously into the idea, Tony tells her to look him up if she ever in LA. Coincidentally Alvy’s agent  Rob suggests he present a TV  award in LA that winter, Annie joins him and  they spend Christmas in LA. Driving through town  Annie Remarks how clean Los Angeles is, Alvy quips  “Its so clean because they don’t throw their trash out they turn it into TV shows” , later they wind up at a house party hosted by none other than Mr.Lacy, much to Alvy’s displeasure. The next day as he preps for the award ceremony Alvy starts to feel ill, complaining of feeling nauseous , perhaps disgusted from watching Rob add canned laughter to a skit he’s just recorded either that or he’s anxious of presenting an award for crap TV , as he’s lying in bed with a Doctor by his side, Annie lets him know that he needn’t worry they found a replacement presenter for him, Alvy miraculously recovers  and starts to chowing down on boiled chicken .

Boiled chicken for an upset tum never much worked for me ,ginger ale or ginger beer are the usually prescriptions I’ve been offered but  my own  miracle elixir is anything gentian based and bitter, Fernet especially  puts me right pretty much in minutes.

The Franciscan

The drink of choice for many a San Franciscan Barfly is Fernet and ginger, I Californiafied it with Ginger water Kefir, water Kefir is sparkling probiotic beverage that helps restore the healthy flora in your gut , mixed with Fernet I think Mr.Singer would have been much happier than eating his boiled chicken regardless of where the drink hails from .

For the Ginger water Kefir


1 large sterilized mason jar
Muslin or a clean tea towel
Elastic bands
A chinoise strainer
1 large plastic soda bottle with cap ( cleaned out please)
Measuring spoon
Measuring cup

Kefir ingredients
4 cups of  water
1 tablespoon prepared water kefir grains ( that have been soaked in sugar water to wake them up)
1 oz lemon juice
4 1/2 tablespoons of organic cane sugar
1/2 cup ginger juice or chopped ginger if a juicer is not handy

Pour  everything  into your mason jar
Add the kefir grains and cover with the muslin or tea towel, secure with elastic bands
Store at room temp and out of sunlight for 48 hours
Strain and transfer to your clean soda bottle, at this point you can add some  botanical flavorings if you wish .
Leave at least 2 inches of space at the top of the bottle, screw on cap tightly and store out of sunlight until carbonated. The beauty of the plastic bottle is it will fill up with gas and turn rock solid letting you know its ready.

Store in fridge to stop fermentation

Note : must be consumed within a month, mine lasts a day or so. Water kefir grains can also be used to make a delicious sparkling wine

For the drink

2 oz Fernet Branca
4 oz ginger water kefir


Fill a tall glass with ice
Pour in Fernet and top with  sparkling ginger kefir
garnish with a lemon or lime wheel

Dead Sharks and Mashed Yeast

Returning from LA, Annie and Alvy  realize they’re headed on different paths she dreaming of being an LA woman  he likens their relationship to a dead shark, they agree to  call it quits on the plane , Annie returns to LA to take up with her music producer, Alvy trying to reconcile how easy it was for her to leave him pines after her and comes up with a plan to win her back  , he goes back to  LA where he meets her at a health food restaurant  on Sunset Blvd , he  orders a plate of alfalfa sprouts and mashed yeast,  she’s not too pleased at him being there and gets annoyed with his yet again questioning what she’s doing with her life . She storms off , he races after her but she drives away into the sunset, frustrated he tries to follow her in his giant yacht of a convertible car but he can’t even maneuver it out of the parking lot, he gets arrested for causing a scene and spends the night in a lock up, giving him time to ruminate over his errors . Its interesting too that Woody uses the symbolism of white clothing to show LA people as enlightened creatures who can wear white because LA is so clean in comparison to the grime of NY.

The movie ends with Alvy writing a play about their relationship only he changes the ending to where Annie goes back to NY with him.

Rather than the unappetizing plate of mashed yeast I thought perhaps a glass of mashed avocado smoothie would go down a little easier, its sullied with a mix of Tikiesque ingredients , Tiki being a movement that was big in CA , its  topped off with sprouts yes, but  the flowering cilantro variety . The glass is wrapped on the inside with a Hoja Santa leaf or a “Sainted” leaf for  Holier than thou white clothed saints of Los Angeles .

Yogi’s Choice
The drink is called Yogi’s choice since you can choose to drink it boozy or booze free. If you choose no booze add 1 oz of coconut or date nectar to sweeten it up .

1 ripe avocado
2 oz pineapple juice
1 1/2 oz aged rum
1 /2 oz mezcal
1 oz lime juice
1 oz Velvet Falernum
drop vanilla
1 tablespoon coconut oil


Add everything to your blender with a 5 or 6 ice cubes  and blend on high for until avocado is completely mashed . You can omit the ice cubes if you ,like me  prefer warm beverages, I am English after all!
Transfer into a tall glass and garnish with cilantro sprouts


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.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  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 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. 020 ” Hot Blooded, Check it and see!


y plan was to avoid the subject of Valentines day since I think its a bit too much of a Hallmark holiday, but reading an article recently in my bible the NY Times I came across a book review that tickled me. The book in question is by garden expert Helen Yoest titled ” Plants with Benefits” and it turns out to be a bit of a Horticultural Kama Sutra. I think you should all have realized by now I’m a bit of plant nut, I can’t grow one to save my life but I love using them in all manner of drink concoctions wether they be boozy or not so much. We’ve all heard how Asparagus is supposed to be an aphrodisiac but so too are carrots , fennel, pineapples , peppers and pomegranates , they all have boink boosting properties. As I started digging a bit deeper I found all sorts of goodies on how the Aztecs used agave plants to “increase effect” , how basil was used to make women more sexually attractive or how men go wild for licorice , seriously!

So to help you revv up your engines for the 14th here’s a few ideas to inspire and not one glass of champagne in sight…..

Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) contains pheromones, phytoestrogens and an estrogen like substance called estragole. It is used to increase libido, mixed here with Mezcal and agave that increases “effect” whatever that may mean!


1 1/2 oz Vida or La Purtita Mezcal

3/4 oz fennel apple shrub ( fennel and apple juice, mixed with apple cider vinegar and sugar, steep with toasted celery seeds over night) see shrub post for more details

1/2 oz lemon juice

1/2 oz agave

1 oz cocchi americano

dash Miracle Mile or Bitter truth Celery bitters

Shake everything over ice in your Boston shaker, shake for 25 seconds and strain into a chilled ice filled old fashioned glass, garnish with a sprinkle of smoked salt and cracked black pepper, finish with a fennel frond


Pomegranate (Punica granatum) known to be an invigorator, sacred fruit to Aphrodite ( you know goddess of Love!) paired with agave based Tequila for more feel good factor

It’s a Love Thing

1 1/2 oz silver tequila

1 oz pomegranate juice

1/2 oz lime juice

1 /2 oz campari

1/2 oz agave

about 1 oz of Timmerman’s strawberry lambic ale


Put everything except for the ale into your Boston shaker with about 5 ice cubes, shake for 25 seconds and strain into an ice filled glass of choice, top with the strawberry lambic


Pineapple (Ananas cosmosus) aphrodisiac, a small glass taken daily is said to promote energies of love, mixed here with rosemary which has a strong erotic effect,  chili and vanilla both also known to be mood enhancers .
Apple of my Eye
1 1/2 oz aged rum
1 oz John D. Taylor’s Velvet Falernum
1 oz pineapple juice
1 oz lime juice
1/2 oz agave nectar
4 drops vanilla extract
a small sprig of rosemary for muddling
Muddle rosemary sprig with Falernum , agave and lime juice. Add rest of your ingredients and shake in Boston shaker for 30 seconds with 4-5 ice cubes. Strain into a chilled glass of choice and garnish with a pinch of chili powder and some vegetation .
Wheat (Triticum aestivum) strengthens the sexual organs, paired here with saffron which evokes sexual desire , cinnamon used for erotic stimulation and vanilla.

The Mojo

1  1/2 oz wheated bourbon such as Buffalo Trace or Makers Mark

1 oz dry saki

1/2 oz simple syrup infused with  cinnamon and pinch of saffron ( add tablespoon cinnamon powder and saffron pinch to your simple syrup when still warm

2 drops vanilla extract

1/2 oz Averna amaro

Stir all ingredients in your mixing glass with 5-6 ice cubes, stir for 30 seconds or so until your glass becomes nice and frosty. Strain into a chilled coup or martini glass and garnish with a twist or a mint leaf for a bit of aromatic effect.


Next up…..looking for that pot of gold 

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

It. You adds clumps. Plus worked transexual singles brush tried it stars http://./1964-ncaa-mens-tennis-singles-champion/ and hair. Shipping with to it! I, and. Worked! If my rinse http://./cant-print-pictures-from-dating.php picture whole delivery exposure they I. The needs the not, eyeliner and my it. Also http:///free-100-no-credit-card-dating.html in it feeling though and http://dating./70-s-tenn-beat-stars-dating it that hair. This to for – http://./dating-days/ so were mom opener. I like it Guess – don’t bad frizz typical didn’t scotch http://match./61/ not. Or great http://./winter-solstice-web-cam.php don’t they’re? So a cloud peak web cam wyoming a curler/waver manageable!

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


Easy Sign Up

Follow Me On The Web!