Friday, December 31, 2010

Three reasons to go to Drink

Drink is without a doubt my favorite bar in Boston. The cocktails are fantastic, the bartenders are deeply knowlegeable and serious about their craft, and the bar has an artistic, industrial elegance befitting a place in the Fort Point neighborhood. It is a short walk from South Station, and an evening there often results in a cab ride home, since last call happens after the T stops running.

The greatest thing about Drink is that the bartenders are happy to share their carefully crafted recipes with their customers. All they want is for the general public to enjoy more great cocktails -- whether at Drink, or at home. And the cocktails are so unique and memorable that there's a huge thread on Chowhound where satisfied patrons record what they drank at Drink.

Here are 3 formulas I've particularly enjoyed at Drink, courtesy of John Gertsen and Scott Marshall. John even took the time to dictate a recipe over the phone when we called one night, desperate for a coffee flip and unable to get it right on our own.

Irma La Douce

  • 1.5 Hendrick's gin
  • .5 Green Chartreuse
  • .5 cucumber puree
  • .5 lemon juice
  • .5 grapefruit juice
  • .25 simple syrup
  • Garnish: thin cucumber slice
Maxmillian Affair
  • 1 Milagro
  • 1 St. Germain
  • .5 Punt e Mes
  • .5 lemon juice
  • Garnish: None (!)
Coffee Flip
  • Muddle 10 espresso beans
  • 2 Old Monk rum
  • .5 St. Germain
  • .25 simple syrup
  • 1 large egg, don't use the whole white (it adds too much volume)
  • Shake 15 seconds without ice, then 1 minute with ice
  • Garnish: 3 espresso beans

Happy New Year from all of us at If You Mix It!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Mai Tai

The Pegu Blog has a nice post about the hotly contested origin of the Mai Tai. At the time, I was more interested in consuming one than learning about the drink's rich and fabled history, so I went for the easy-to-assemble Trader Vic's Modern recipe:
  • 1 oz gold rum (Bacardi)
  • 1 oz dark rum (Meyer's)
  • 1 oz triple sec
  • 1/2 oz lime juice (freshly sqeezed, of course)
  • 1/2 oz Orgeat syrup 
  • pineapple garnish
This is simpler than the Trader Vic's original 1944 recipe, and was quite refreshing and delicious. Lest you think there is only one way to make a Mai Tai, check out a list of 10(!) here.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Perfect Margarita (rocks)

It might be a little late in the season for margaritas, but I'm in Albuquerque, and tequila seems like the official beverage of the southwest. The proportions of this Margarita are from Dale Degroff, of course, but I've added a little agave nectar to smooth things out. This was my first use of Patron Citronge (read more about how it compares to Cointreau and other alternatives here), and I have to say that I'm a fan. 
  • 1.5 Tequila (Milagro Blanco)
  • 1.25 Patron Citronge (cheaper than Cointreau and very tasty)
  • .75 Lime juice, freshly squeezed, no pulp.
  • .375 agave nectar

Shake with ice and strain into chilled glasses with ice.

margarita atop formula

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Ginger Lemonade Martini

Based on Dale DeGroff's Ginger Lemonade Highball, but in a martini form factor, and much gingerier.

A great follow up to Erin's Vegan Ginger Cookies.

  • 1.5 vodka
  • 1 fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 simple syrup
  • 1 ginger juice (not ginger syrup -- juice from pressed ginger)
  • dash of grenadine
  • dash of Q tonic (no club soda handy)
  • lemon twist to garnish
The verdict: Extreme ginger, but good. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Sling

As noted in Dale DeGroff's superlative The Essential Cocktail, the class of alcoholic beverages known as slings have been around longer than the venerable cocktail itself: a sling is simply strong liquor plus water plus sweetener, so a cocktail was a bitters sling until at least 1806. According to Jerry Thomas in 1862 (by way of the helpful Musings on Cocktails), a sling was a teaspoon of powdered sugar, half a glass of water, half a glass of spirits (probably whiskey or a Holland gin), and a lump of ice. The sling did long and honorable service in a number of forms as it morphed into the fruitier and currently better-known Singapore Sling, while the rest of the sling family languished in obscurity.

Tonight we mostly followed DeGroff's recipe, with a few necessary and a few improvised substitutions. This makes a very light and summery drink--an alternative gin and tonic, perhaps for those who really can't stand quinine.

  • 1 1/2 oz gin (we used Beefeater's)
  • 1/2 oz sweet vermouth (we used Lillet, more by dogma than anything else)
  • 1 oz fresh-squeezed lemon juice (we used lime cause that's what we had)
  • 3/4 oz simple syrup
  • Dash of Angostura
  • top with club soda
  • garnish: lemon
lemon garnish by feleghazy

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Can't Wink in this City

New Cocktail, based on Dale DeGroff's Manhattan East, made with ingredients on hand:

  • 2.5 Van Winkle Bourbon
  • .5 Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur
  • .5 Stoli Vodka (Dale uses Sake here)
  • 3 dashes Orange bitters
  • garnish: flamed orange peel (I was out of oranges, so this cocktail went naked. Shame!)
Delicious and autumnal. I recommend! 

Monday, July 26, 2010

Featured Ingredient: Chartreuse

It seems like I can't drink anywhere without hearing Chartreuse mentioned these days. So I decided to do a little investigating and whip up some Chartreuse-based cocktails. Like Bénédictine and Frangelico, Chartreuse is an herbal liqueur developed hundreds of years ago by monks, in this case the Carthusians.

I chose the following two cocktails based on availability of ingredients. Both were a success; the flavors of the Chartreuse's 130+ herbs  made for a clean but complex flavor that was fun to savor.

The Bijou
  • 4 gin
  • 3 chartreuse
  • 2.5 lillet
  • .5 vermouth
  • 2 dashes orange bitters

Bijou, which means "jewel" in French, also has the advantage of being fun to say. It is typically made from gin, sweet vermouth, and chartreuse. I used Lillet because I always have it around, and I like the taste. CocktailDB puts the ratio at 3:1:1, but I fine-tuned it a bit to suit my taste.
From iPhone

The Last Word
  • 1 gin
  • 1 maraschino liqueur
  • 1 chartreuse
  • 1 lime juice

This is a prohibition-era cocktail; I found the recipe on Cocktail Chronicles. Equal parts all ingredients makes this an easy recipe to remember!
From iPhone

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Two Savoy Cocktails

The Calvados Cocktail

The Calvados Cocktail first appears in The Savoy Cocktail Book, published in 1930 by Harry Craddock, the bartender at London's famous Savoy hotel. That recipe called for using equal parts orange bitters and Cointreau. I've used Robert Hess's modification to use a more reasonable amount of bitters, although apparently with freshly squeezed orange juice, more bitters are required.

  • 1.5 Calvados
  • 1.5 orange juice
  • .75 Cointreau
  • 2 dashes angostura bitters

From iPhone

The Pegu Club

Also featured in the 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book, the Pegu Club is a great hot-weather drink.

  • 2 Gin
  • .75 Cointreau (Orange Curacao is recommended, but I didn't have it)
  • .75 Lime juice
  • 1 dash angostura bitters
  • 1 dash orange bitters

From iPhone

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Tonic, Tonic Everywhere and Not a Drop to ...

So after becoming increasingly interested in cocktails, it was growing clear that there was still a road that we had yet to travel.

Making Tonic at Home

After doing some preliminary research we dug up some recipes and how-to advice:

From Jeffrey Morganthaler
4 cups water
1 cup chopped lemongrass (roughly one large stalk)
¼ cup powdered cinchona bark
zest and juice of 1 orange
zest and juice of 1 lemon
zest and juice of 1 lime
1 tsp whole allspice berries
¼ cup citric acid
¼ tsp Kosher salt
~ 3 cups agave syrup

From a commenter further down the above link, this slight variaion was designed for 209 gin:
4 Cups: Water
1 1/4 Cups: Lemongrass, julienned
Zest & juice of 2 Limes
1/2 whole Star Anise
1/4 Cup: powdered cinchona bark
1/4 Cup: Citric Acid
1/2 Tsp: whole allspice berries
1/4 Tsp: whole Cardamom pods, bruised
1/4 Tsp: Kosher Salt
This recipe was also found, along with the somewhat amusing anecdote of the author at this foodie blog.
4 cups of water
3 cups pure cane sugar
3 Tbsp quinine (powdered cinchona bark)
6 Tbsp. powdered citric acid – check bulk bins at grocery stores
3 limes
3 stalks lemongrass, chopped
The Method

We used the first reference for methods and for the choice of sweetener (agave syrup). In order to filter we had very good success by both using cheesecloth and pouring the liquid off the top, leaving much of the sediment behind.

We decided to make both the original recipe espoused by Mr. Morganthaler (which I call mix #1), as well as the variation for 209 (which I'll call mix #2). (We purchased some 209 for this purpose.) We used Tensing Momo as our supplier for the Cinchona bark.

For the relative rankings, we compared the tonics both on their own, and paired with the gin. In the case of mix #2, we also paired it with 209.


For comparison, we purchased tonic by Fever Tree, Q, and 365 (the Whole Foods store brand).

We had a wide range of results about each of the two tonics. We chose Plymouth Gin, which seems to be acknowledged as a good reference gin for gin and tonics among most of the sources we could find.

From here out, as mentioned above, I'll refer to the original recipe as Mix #1 and the variation for 209 as Mix #2 for brevity.

Tasting notes:

Q - Q didn't score very well on its own. It's much less sweet than the others (it has about half as much sugar as Fever Tree). When paired with gin, it fared much better, its lack of sugar giving plenty of space for the gin's flavors to shine. On the other hand, the combination was much closer to a gin and soda than you expect, and it was still considered somewhat too boring by most of the testers.

Fever Tree - Fever Tree was by far our favorite commercial tonic of the batch. It was pleasant and light on its own, and its slightly greater levels of sugar still left plenty of room for the gin to assert itself. It seemed that it was more of a partner with the gin than the Q.

365 - The Whole Foods store brand held its own better than one might expect. It may have been the easiest on the palate of all the naked tonics. Once mixed with gin, it was called 'Tonic Candy', and 'Gin and Tonic for Kids' by one tester. Its unassertive character and sweet almost 7-up like flavor was fine, but it was the least bitter of the tonics, and this may have actually worked against it when paired with the assertive Plymouth. It may fare better if paired with Sapphire or Hendricks, with their slightly less Junipery and more subtle aromatics.

Mix #1 - Jeffery Morganthaler's recipe did quite well overall, chosen by three out of four panelists as their favorite, when paired with the gin. On it's own, however, its mulled character (from the allspice), and the very floral almost patchouli-like aroma from the Cinchona Bark overwhelmed the palate. Personally, I found that it slightly too tart as well. We left the syrup out until the end so that we could adjust the sweetness to match our mood. This gave us some flexibility to reduce it slightly from the amount called for, which I think allowed us to really dial in a sweetness level that balanced the gin.

Mix #2 - This combination may have been hampered by the fact that it was boiled longer. Since it had Cardamom Pods that it was trying to infuse, we left it on the burner another 5 minutes or so, which seems to have resulted in much more bark infusion, resulting in more of the odd floral character, as well as slightly more bitter. This was the bottom of the barrel on all counts. It had an odd aftertaste when considered on its own, and when pared with the Plymouth was not awful, but it just couldn't quite find any supporters. We paired it with the 209 only to be overwhelmed by the piles of cardamom (which is almost undetectable in the pairing with Plymouth or on its own.) 209 already had a notable amount of cardamom, and when tickled by the additional amount in the tonic, it overflowed making it almost undrinkable; it was drunk, do not fear, we have an overwhelming sense of duty when it comes to drinking gin, but it was nearly sink-bound.

Overall rankings:

These are from memory, so I will entreat my fellow testers to reorder as they remember generally. I believe, however, that this represents the consensus of opinion among our group.


1) Fever Tree
2) 365
3) Mix #1
4) Q
5) Mix #2

With Gin:

1) Mix #1
2) Fever Tree
3) Q
4) 365
5) Mix #2 (w/ Plymouth)
6) Mix #2 (w/ 209)


Overall results are hard to evaluate. Since you're probably going to drink the tonic with gin, I'm tempted to mirror the w/gin results. Among the store-bought tonics, the overall winner is clear: Fever Tree was nice on its own, great with gin, and also for better or for worse, the most carbonated of the ones we tried. Once we include our tonics in the mix, the overall winner is more cloudy. I think that the floral character of our bark means that I still can't place it as #1, but it definitely takes the #2 spot in my estimation.

Final thoughts

All in all it was a good time, we were able to drink some gin and appear thoughtful at the same time. I was surprised at how different the result tasted from standard tonics (and how different the tonics we tasted were from each other). If you have some free time, and some inclination, you can create a result as good as the best tonics we could find.

At ~$8 for four bottles for the boutique tonics, you could really save some dough, as well. If you're not as crafty, Fever Tree is very very good, and as a slightly more budget version, even the Whole Foods 365 brand is better (in our opinion) than Schweppes or Canada Dry.

One final note, Mr. Morganthaler mentioned that the bark from Tensing Momo was particularly floral. To that end, we've ordered from a few other sources as well to see if we can push home-made tonic to an undisputed #1 in all categories. Perhaps there is an edit in this post's future.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Three new Martinis

Ginger-Pear Martini
1 Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur
2 Grey Goose Le Poire (Pear Vodka)
1/2 Aqua Perfecta (Poire Williams)
2 drops cardamom bitters
garnish with ultra-thin Bosc pear cross-section

Pear Martini
2 Grey Goose Le Poire
1 Regular Vodka (Stoli)
1/2 Aqua Perfecta
garnish with ultra-thin Bosc pear cross-section

Orange Martini
3 Vodka (Stolichnaya)
1/2 Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur
garnish with ultra-thin blood orange cross-section.