Cocktails, etc.

Maggie’s Maple Spiced Rum Old Fashioned
[This drink is an uncomplicated variation on a classic, and it’s so delicious I’m not entirely sure how you’ll remain sober.  Like Lays chips, you can’t stop at one.  Or, if you’re me, two.  Or three.]

>> 2-3 ounces Maggie’s Farm Spiced Rum (…you should probably stick with 2 ounces, but I really like making this bigger, badder, and bolder)
>> .5 – 1 ounce pure maple syrup (…match the measurements to the amount of booze with which you begin, and your taste preference)
>> 3-5 dashes Wigle Pomander Orange bitters (…again, match the dashes to the booze and syrup.  Also, to taste)
>> 1 lovely Luxardo maraschino cherry with a bit of syrup (…scoop it up with a barspoon, and there’s your cherry and syrup measure)
>> 1 thick piece of orange rind
>> 1 large piece of ice
>> Pint glass, or mixing vessel, and strainer
>> Sturdy, short glass that feels right in your grasp!

Here’s what you do.  In your pint glass/mixing vessel, build the booze, maple syrup, cherry juice/syrup, and bitters.  Prepare your drinking glass by dropping the one large ice cube in.  And eat that frigging cherry now, because it’s so good.  Or, save it for after the drink.  Whatevs.  Now, put some ice in the mixing glass and stir for 15-20 seconds.  Strain that over the ice cube in the drinking glass.  Twist the orange rind and rub the rum of the glass and the top of the cube and drop the rind in.  Now drink.  Yum.  Like, really.  Yum!


Amarguinha Old Fashioned
[Recently, I purchased a bottle of amarguinha, which is, best I can ascertain, pronounced, “ahmar-GEE-nah” or perhaps, “ahmar-GEEN-yah.”  In either case, or perhaps neither, it is Portuguese almond liquer and it is delicious.  When I get a bottle of anything unusual, I try to figure out a variety of ways to use said spirit.  The first cocktail I tried with the amarguinha became the BPC, and it is just below this.  Problem with the BPC, it’s a fairly complex recipe and involves several other kind-of unusual spirits, Cynar and sweet vermouth, as well as dry shaking and a raw egg.  You may immediately shy away from such a beast, as delicious as it may be (and it is), so I simplified.  I should communicate, however, before continuing, that amarguinha is perhaps best enjoyed chilled (…stick it in the fridge, stick it in the fridge, stick it in the fridge…) and sipped from a small tasting glass.  Neat.  Meaning with no water.  And also, “groovy.”  However, I like cocktails.  And what better cocktail into which we might incorporate this sweet, almondy nectar than the old fashioned?  I’ll tell you, none better.  The recipe is quite simple…where you would use syrup, simply substitute amarguinha.  Then, you can play around with bitters and garnishes like cherries and citrus rinds to modify the flavor.  I found that a combination of cardamom bitters and aromatic bitters worked best for my taste.  I will also note, before sharing the recipe with you, that I learned Portuguese bartenders will apparently use this liquer in place of orgeat  and falernum, both of which are prominent in rum-based tiki drinks.  So…I  can’t wait to try that out.  But I digress.]

>>2 ounces bourbon (…or your favorite whiskey/whisky.  Wigle Wapsie valley corn bourbon works, but I don’t wanna pressure you)
>> 1 ounce amarguinha
>> Several dashes aromatic bitters (…go local, use Wigle.  If you don’t have it, Angustora is fine and dandy)
>> Several dashes cardamom bitters (…cardamom plus almond plus sugar equals holy-shit-yum-wow-bang-pow.  However, you’d likely do well with chocolate, or coffee, or even Peychaud’s bitters)
>> Cocktail shaker
>> Old fashioned glass (…or small Mason Jar, or whatever the fuck you please)
>> Ice

Here’s what you do.  Get your shaker…the big cup.  Pour in the whiskey, amarguinha, and bitters.  Half fill the cup with ice.  Pop the small cup or cap on and shake it like a Polaroid picture (…meaning gently, not vigorously…) for like 5-10 seconds.  Strain into the glass and drink.  See that?  I didn’t even add additional garnish.  This mofo is good to go.


Bittersweet Portuguese Coffee Cocktail…or, BPC.
[You down with BPC? Yeah, you know me.  There are many skilled, generous, kind, and all-around awesome bartenders in Pittsburgh. Check out this article. Will Groves is certainly one of them.  Many years ago, before I deeply cared about the consciousness-altering potables entering my system, I found myself at Butterjoint…one of the (then) new and (still) well-regarded speakeasy-style cocktail bars in Pittsburgh, packed in with other disposable-cash abundant patrons.  Seemingly magically, we found a small table.  And as fate, serendipity, or dumb drunken luck would have it, Mr. Groves sidled up and asked, “Have you been here before?”  My answer was, “No” literally and also, “No” spiritually…pun intended.  I’d noticed on the menu an item titled: Mercy of the Bartender.  It was a couple of bucks cheaper than most everything else.  “What’s that?!”  Here Will shifted gears, “Tell me about what you normally drink.”  I basically indicated to him that, much like Thomas Haden Church’s character in the movie Sideways, I like just about everything.  “I’ve got something adventurous in mind.”  What Will brought back was a Coffee Cocktail.  It was so good that it shut me up.  That’s right, it shut…ME…up.  He said, “I’ll be back later to tell you what’s in it.”  There’s a good reason one doesn’t reveal the ingredients of this cocktail pre-ingestion for the virgin consumer.  Here’s what was in it: 1 ounce cognac, 1 ounce port, .75 ounces simple syrup, fresh nutmeg, and 1 raw egg.  There you have it, not a drop of caffeine or coffee in it.  And an egg.  The drink was smooth, creamy, frothy on top like a perfect latte, sweet-but-not-too-sweet, and complex.

Okay…so let the egg concept bounce around in your head, Rocky Balboa, ’cause this ain’t your heavyweight uncle’s protein fix.

Get over it.

Okay.  Ready?

This cocktail, the BPC, is directly inspired by that drink Will introduced to me many years back and which I have, in the intervening years, introduced to many other unsuspecting, but ultimately pleased, palates.

This cocktail is also inspired by another wonderful Pittsburgh bartender, Sean Rosenkrans, formerly of Tender and currently of the Allegheny Wine Mixer.  Sean is the man who asserted that he could change my mind, and palate, with Cynar, and succeeded.  His potion is also the inspiration for, “Cynar the Barbarian,” the cocktail just below this one.  Also, unsurprisingly, Sean is featured in that article linked above in the first paragraph.

So…what can a man do with a raw egg and an extremely bitter artichoke liquer?


Keep in mind that this drink uses several unusual spirits, so it’s not a rookie-level highball or even a moderately simple old-fashioned.  However, it ain’t rocket science, people.]

> 1 ounce amarguinha (…this is an amazing Portuguese almond liquer.  Amazing.  That’s not hyperbole, it’s a fact.  Additionally, a bottle of this is much less expensive than a bottle of decent amaretto.  If you have amaretto, though, and don’t feel like getting this wonderfully-sweet and accurately-almond nectar, use it.)
>> 1 ounce sweet vermouth (…I bet you could use port.  In fact, it would make a lovely cocktail.  But I love the bittersweet nature of vermouth.  Also, this drink will get all the thickness and mouthfeel it needs from the egg.)
>>.5 ounces Cynar (…see “Cynar the Barbarian,” the cocktail just below, for more on this.)
>> .5 ounces ginever (…I like to keep it Pittsburgh when I can, and use Wigle.  This also allows me to give a shout-out to yet another bartender on that list of 13 referenced in the article, Wes Shonk. However, if all you have is London dry gin, by all means, us it!)
>> 1 raw egg
>> Cinnamon (…spring for a small container of decent cinnamon.  It’s worth it.  Really.)
>> Ice
>> Cocktail shaker
>>Small wine glass

Making this drink is actually fairly easy.  Just follow the recipe.  Here’s what you do.  Put all of the liquids into the shaker, and crack the egg in.  Dry shake this vigorously for 10 – 15 seconds.  (What the hell does “dry shake” mean?!  Quite simply, it means shaking liquid ingredients without ice.)  Open the shaker and add ice.  Now shake this vigorously again for 10-15 seconds.  Strain into the glass.  Top with cinnamon.  Enjoy.  (Who’s down with BPC?  This whole party!)


Cynar the Barbarian
[Cynar is roughly pronounced, “CHEE-nar.” It is an amaro, or Italian bitter liquer, made with a variety of botanicals and one dominant plant. The artichoke. Yes, that’s right. Artichoke liquer. It is bittersweet. Complex. And not for the weak of palate. The first time I tasted Cynar, I gagged. I sensed no sweet. Jen had purchased a bottle to make a bourbon cocktail and that first time was a monumental bust. So, the large bottle of Cynar took it’s place next to the various other abandoned bottles on the island of misfit spirits. One day, many years later and with that bottle of “Sigh-ner” (…that’s what I called it then…) collecting millimeters of dust in my basement, my wife and I found ourselves at an upscale hipster craft cocktail joint. After my second sublime libation, I spotted the same tall bottle seemingly mocking me from the bar made with lush hardwoods and cloudy vintage mirrors. “Fuck you,” it said with a thick Italian accent. “You don’t deserve to even look at me. Release my cousin from your dungeon of unwanted liquids, you unsophisticated fool.” Large, blockish font in front of a prominant artichoke…CYNAR. I told the impossibly thin, bespectacled mixologist about my first experience with that beast. He paused, looked me in the eye, and claimed, “I can make you like Cynar.” I paused, looked him back in the eye, “Do it.” And he did. And apparently we’re all one-eyed extras from “The Princess Bride.” That drink was like thousands of little boozy Buddhas reaching self-actualization on my taste buds. I can’t remember the precise recipe he used. Gregory then was not the amateur bartender that Gregory now has become. Today, I would take copious notes and get the dude’s twitter handle. Then, I just enjoyed the experience. And I’m glad I did. We often forget to just enjoy an experience. I have, however, stored certain concepts from that cocktail in my pickled cortex. Several weeks back, out of whiskey and wanting something strong and complex, I grabbed the Cynar and a bottle of port that had also been collecting dust. My first attempt was wonderful. A keeper, as they say. So the drink I’m about to present to you is the much simpler, less mature cousin of the one I had that day. If you dig on balanced bitterness, and if you dig on complex and varied flavors, you should give this a shot.]

>>1.25 ounces Cynar (…the large side of a jigger, or one-plus-a-little shots)
>>1.25 ounces port wine (…I’m sure professionals have opinions here, but I’d just tell you use what you have)
>>1.25 ounces lemon & lapsang souchong sweet tea (…this tea is smokey, as is Russian Caravan. I like smokey. You could make a sweet tea out of any strong black tea, though. You choose! Make a medium pot of black tea, super saturate it with sugar, and squeeze in a lemon.)
>>Sparkling mineral water or club soda
>>Bitters (…if you wish)
>>Ice (…ice, baby. Too cold, too cold)
>>Tall glass (…a tall, cool one, as it were)

The beauty of this cocktail is that you can build it right in the glass. Nothing extra necessary. Get your glass, and fill it most of the way with ice. Then build the drink in the order it’s described above: Cynar, port, tea, sparkling water, bitters. Give it a good stir and enjoy. There is a variation of this that I call, “Cynar the Mexican.” In that drink, I use 1 ounce cynar, 1 ounce port, 1 ounce tequila, and then 1 ounce sweet tea. It’s the same drink but with different proportions to allow for the addition of tequila. Have fun!


The Ginetto
[This is a variation on a classic gin and tonic, a staple “highball.” You’ll need the following ingredients, all of which are easily obtainable.]

>> Favorite London Dry Gin (Our favorites, in decreasing order, are: Hendrick’s, Bombay Sapphire, Bombay, Beefeater, Bluecoat)
>> Favorite Amaretto (We use Disaronno, which is the most readily accessible “premium” amaretto.)
>>Tonic water (We use “Fever Tree,” available at many grocery stores. They use filtered water, cane sugar, and real quinine. You can also use the more traditional brands, but I avoid these because of chemical flavorings and high fructose corn syrup.)
>> Angostura orange bitters (Easily accessible in grocery stores and typically only $8 per small bottle. You can search around, however, because the market is now flooded with bitters of all sorts. Pittsburgh’s own Wigle Whiskey produces, among it’s bitters variations, a wonderful “Pomander Orange.”)
>> 1 lime
>> Ice
>> Pint glass (or something large)
>> Long spoon
>> Standard shot glass

Fill glass with ice (…crushed or whole, to preference…), squeeze the juice of one full lime into the glass, put in two shots (approximately 2.5 ounces) gin and one shot (approximately 1.25 ounces) amaretto. Fill the rest of the glass with tonic water, then put in the bitters …3-5 shakes. Stir and serve.


The “Aaargh”
[This is a variation on a rum and coke, another classic “highball.” I pronounce it like a cartoon pirate, because this drink makes me feel like a pirate.]

>> Favorite spiced rum (I prefer two local spirts here. First is Wigle Landlocked spiced. In position “1A” is Maggie’s Farm Rum Spiced. Both are available at select Pennsylvania wine and spirits stores and they can be obtained online. However, use whatever you love.)
>> Favorite root beer (I prefer “Virgil’s,” which is available in four packs at grocery stores. They make a delicious Stevia version for those of you trying to shift low carb. They also make a specialty “Bavarian Nutmeg,” which is extra delicious.)
>> Citrus, molѐ, or chocolate bitters…or all three! (Again, you can go with the Angostura orange here…but a real “Aaargh” has molѐ bitters. Wigle Whiskey makes a wonderful version, and it’s what I use.)
>> One-quarter orange
>> Ice
>> Rocks or double old-fashioned glass (or an 8-12 oz water glass)
>> Long spoon
>> Standard shot glass

Fill glass with ice (…crushed or whole, to preference…), put in two shots (approximately 2.5 ounces) rum and fill the rest of the glass with root beer. Put in bitters…3-5 shakes. Squeeze in one-quarter orange then twist the rind and rub it on the lip of the glass to get the oils and scents on top. Stir and serve.


[This is a simple yet delicious variation on an old-fashioned cocktail. Really, any variation on the old-fashioned, if constructed well, is unimpeachable.]

>> Real maple syrup (No Aunt Jemima in my cocktail!)
>> Favorite spiced rum (I certainly suggest either Maggie’s Farm Spiced Rum or Wigle Landlocked Spiced)
>> Favorite Amaretto
>> Aromatic and citrus bitters (Again, I suggest Wigle Aromatic and Pomander Orange…though Angustora will certainly do.)
>> An orange from which you’ll cut a sliver of rind
>> A rocks or old-fashioned glass (or small water glass)
>> A pint glass
>> A cocktail strainer (or tablespoon)
>> Standard shot glass
>> Ice
>> Spoon

Set the smaller glass to the side. In the pint glass add 2 shots of rum, 1 shot of amaretto, 1/2 shot of maple syrup, 5 drops of each bitter. Fill the glass with ice and stir so that the liquid gets cold. Using either a cocktail strainer (…you can get this anywhere, including Walmart and Target or Amazon…) or a table spoon, pour the liquid contents from the pint glass into the smaller glass WITHOUT THE ICE. The strainer or spoon is holding the ice in the pint glass while the cold cocktail exits. Twist the orange rind, rub it around the rim of the glass and drop it in. Enjoy


Picksburgh Punkin Pie
[Be careful, friends, this is delicious in a very dangerous way. Like remember the first amazing Long Island Iced Tea you ever had? And then after two you would be seeing not double, but quadruple? That. And yes, it’s Picksburgh. With an H. Don’t bug me, ya jagoffs.]

>> 1 bottle Blockhouse Brewing Pumpkin Ale, straight outta Latrobe (“LAY-trobe,” yinz guys.) (This beer is delicious and has a sweetness that no other Pumpkin Ale I’ve ever tried has achieved. Additionally, it’s 7% ABV, so big, but not huge.)
>> 1 ounce/shot Maggie’s Farm spiced rum or Wigle landlocked spiced…or really whatever your “go to” spiced rum happens to be. (I like to keep it in the ‘burgh, yinz know what I’m sayin’?!)
>> 1-2 dashes citrus or chocolate bitters (Pittsburgh = Wigle pomander orange or Wigle mole)
>> A splash, or more, of ginger beer (“Jamaica’s Finest” is a go-to. Made by? The Natrona [“NAY-trona” for locals] Bottling Company.)
>> Ice cubes to get the vessel full (I used a pint glass for this. Just go big. Or go home. Or if you’re already home, then the phrase kind-of falls apart. Go big or go somewhere that you’re not. Fuck it, use a big glass, will ya?!)


Maple J. Fox
[In my house it’s often like “Chopped,” but perhaps we’d call this competition, “Mixed.” I had what I had, and knowing that Alex P. Keaton is an Irish Canadian…well…there you have it. Note, this is a two-drink recipe. Or one big-ass mug, ya hosers. If you can’t handle the temperature, perhaps you might get oot of the kitchen, eh? Not to be rude or nothin’, I’m just sayin’, ya know?]

>1 can of Wexford Irish Cream Ale (Distribute this equally into two pint glasses. Let the head settle. That’s what she said.)
>> 1 ounce/shot Crown Royal Maple (This is a really affordable and lovely flavored whiskey. It has a mild sweetness and a fairly accurate maple flavor. Now, if you don’t have this, here’s an alternate option. 1 shot of whatever whiskey you have and a half shot of maple syrup. If you don’t have whiskey, what the hell are you doing? But really, you could use vodka with maple syrup too. I guess. Vodka…fire water…a flavorless hangover waiting to happen. But hey…you do you, boo.)
>> 1 dash chocolate bitters (If you don’t have chocolate bitters, you can use any bitters, but then also squeeze in like a teaspoon of chocolate syrup. Why? Because…chocolate syrup!)
>> A few good ice cubes (You can’t handle the truth.)
>> Fill to the top with premium ginger beer (I used “Barritt’s” for this one. Barritt’s, for those interested, when mixed with Gosling’s Black Seal Rum, bitters and lime, makes a “Dark and Stormy,” which is the national drink of Bermuda. It’s all kinds of delicious.)

2 thoughts on “Cocktails, etc.”

  1. Do you mind if I quote a few of your posts as long as I provide credit and sources back to your blog? My website is in the very same niche as yours and my visitors would really benefit from some of the information you provide here. Please let me know if this ok with you. Many thanks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Facebook Iconfacebook like buttonAmazon