The Cocktail Spirit with Robert Hess
The Cocktail Spirit with Robert Hess is dedicated to the creation of quality classic cocktails. Watch as he mixes up cocktail recipes from the past using the best ingredients.
El Diablo Cocktail
29 Jun 09 4
It is hard to say exactly why this drink is called El Diablo (Devil in Spanish), perhaps it is its red color, or perhaps it's due to the little bit of spice brought in from the ginger ale. Either way, this is a wonderfully refreshing drink, and a good way to introduce somebody to tequila.
11 May 09 4
Calvados is an apple brandy famously made in the Normandy region of France. It's American counterpart is called Applejack, which in a pinch I suppose you could substitute, but only in a pinch. 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 as much orange bitters as there it was Cointreau. I felt that was just a tad overbearing, so I've pulled it back to the more modest amount you see here, as well as using Angostura Aromatic Bitters instead of orange. But feel free to try it the original way if you want!
23 Apr 08 4
Often confused with the Mimosa, the Bucks Fizz Cocktail is an elegant drink suited to the simple brunch or extravagant celebration.
Measuring is Important - Floridita Cocktail
15 Jan 15 3
There are two distinct camps that bartenders often segment themselves into, those that free-pour and those that measure. Personally, I am a strong proponent of measuring. I feel that the only mildly valid argument against it, is that measuring takes a little longer, and so in a very busy bar it might slow things down. While it is possible to train yourself to be fairly accurate at the free-pour, it is also possible to train yourself to be fast enough at using a jigger that it doesn’t matter. I have no intention of settling this debate here, but I do feel it is valuable to emphasize the importance of properly measuring your ingredients. For some drinks, the proper measure is more important than others. One-Quarter of an ounce is not a very big measure, and it can be easy to accidentally over or under pour by that much when mixing drinks. Drinks such as the Old Fashioned, Manhattan, and Martini are such that being off a little bit may not be very noticeable, but when mixing drinks with tart citrus, or intense ingredients like Chartreuse, that 1/4 ounce can make a big difference. I think many bartenders see it as a rite of passage to feel they are skilled enough to free-pour, while others see it as a sign of how serious they take their craft that they carefully measure everything. Feel free to make up your own decision on this issue, but hopefully you realize that whether you free-pour or jigger, being sure you get the precise measure is important for making great cocktails.
Not All Recipes Are Good Recipes - Cosmopolitan Cocktail
8 Jan 15 3
Just because you see it in print, doesn’t mean it is a good recipe. Similarly to when good recipes can result in bad drinks, the flip side of that is when a recipe is just flat-out bad to begin with. One thing that is important for any bartender (or consumer) to realize, is that not all recipes are “good” recipes. This problem is only exacerbated by the plethora of cocktail books that have come out on recent years. Often in an attempt to differentiate themselves, they go to great lengths to try to publish recipes that other books haven’t used. This can sometimes mean they are either dredging up long forgotten recipes that should never have existed in the first place, or trying to create new recipes through what often appears to be little more than a random recipe generator. There are several ways that recipes can go bad. The typical bad recipe will start with a failure to understand the fundamentals the make for a good cocktail. There are several facets to this, which include: using quality ingredients, proper proportions of ingredients, proper usage of ingredients, and proper methodologies of making the drink. All of these are due to trying to create a new cocktail recipe before you should. Next there is just being downright sloppy with how a recipe is communicated, and leaving too much up to the imagination of the reader. And probably the biggest reason for bad recipes out there, is that many times the creator is more interested in making a drink that is “good enough” to get somebody drunk on, and not “great enough” for somebody to enjoy. NOTE: In this video, when describing the “original” Cosmopolitan, I forget to mention the defining ingredient of the drink, the cranberry juice! NOTE #2: And if you are interested in a “random recipe generator”, you’ll get a kick out of The Mixilator by Ted “Dr. Cocktail” Haigh. It attempts to randomly produce cocktail recipes (and names!) by loosely using the cocktail structures described by David Embury in his book “The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks”.
When to Shake and When to Stir a Cocktail
16 Oct 14 3
This is one of those galvanizing issues that can really show that you take quality cocktails even slightly seriously. Shaking a Manhattan is like serving your guests instant coffee. There, I’ve said it. The question about When to Shake and When to Stir still confuses many, more so when you see contradictory information about this in different recipes for the same drink. The rule to follow here is really quite simple. “Stir drinks that are made with transparent ingredients, shake drinks that include cloudy ingredients.” The reason for this is mostly due to aesthetics. Drinks served in a beautiful clear glass, look better when they themselves are clear and transparent. Shaking a drink will often make it cloud up, and make it unappealing. Often it will also put a scummy looking foam residue on the top which makes it even more unappealing. If the drink already includes cloudy ingredients (such as a citrus juice, cream, or egg white) then no amount of stirring will make it clear, so go ahead and shake it. A corollary of our simple rule, is this: “It is rarely wrong to stir a drink, but often wrong to shake it.” Which makes it all the more surprising when you see bartenders who not only shake all of their drinks, but don’t even have the tools necessary to stir a drink if they wanted to. So the next time you find yourself making a Martini, Manhattan, Negroni, or Derby, take a little extra time and stir it instead of shaking it.
Rum Ramsey Cocktail
5 Nov 13 3
This may, or may not, be the recipe for the Bon Ton Café's Rum Ramsey Cocktail. Kept secretly behind the bar, the only recipe Robert could unearth was a supposedly reverse engineered one that has since been circulated. The key to the drink is accurate measurement and a quality rum as your base spirit.
5 Jul 12 3
This cocktail was named after the Algonquin Hotel, which opened its doors in 1902 in one of New York’s most fashionable neighborhoods. The hotel gained its greatest fame a few years later as the home of the Algonquin Round Table, the repeating literary lunch in which Alexander Woollcott, Harpo Marx, Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley, and their compatriots held sway on New York’s cultural scene. There were in fact several drinks named after this historic venue, but this recipe is the one currently served by the hotel’s bartenders.
22 Nov 11 3
Another drink from The Savoy Cocktail Book by Harry Craddock, and one that isn’t seen hardly at all as far as I can tell. Apricot Brandy can be a bit of a challenging ingredient to understand when used in a recipe like this, since it could either mean a true brandy distilled from Apricot juice, or it could also mean a sweet liqueur flavored with apricot flesh and seeds. We are going to assume that it is the liqueur that was intended for this cocktail.
Interview with Tom Bulleit of Bulleit Bourbon
13 Oct 11 3
Robert had the great pleasure of sitting down with Tom Bulleit of Bulleit Bourbon at Needle and Thread above Tavern Law in Seattle to discuss Bulleit's newest product, Bulleit Rye.
14 Sep 11 3
The Metropole Cocktail was the house cocktail at the Metropole Hotel, opened in New York just before the beginning of the 20th century. Some say it is a stronger and spicier version of the Manhattan. We say, it is delicious.
Tip Top Cocktail
3 Aug 09 3
I am not sure where this drink comes from although I first found the recipe in "Old Waldorf Bar Days", by Albert Crockett Stevens from 1931. What I find the most fascinating about this drink, is that it uses dry vermouth as it's base. With so much vermouth, please don't try to use that tired old bottle that might be sitting in your liquor cabinet. Pick up a nice fresh bottle of a good quality vermouth, and really see what it can do.
23 Mar 09 3
Calvados is a brandy from the Normandy region of France. But instead of being made from grapes, it is made from the regions various apples. Here in America, a similar product, but with a slightly different character, is Applejack. The Ante cocktail is one that provides a great way to enjoy calvados, with a gentle and slightly sweet flavor.
Travel Like a Mixologist
28 Apr 08 3
Not only must you stock your bar with the best ingredients and most useful tools, you need to be able to take your act on the road. Robert packs up his traveling mixologist bag and let's you in on some secrets of transporting those all important bitters.
Queen’s Park Swizzle Cocktail
3 Dec 13 2
A favorite of Trader Vic, the Queen's Park Swizzle is a rich and flavorful rum based tiki cocktail named for the oasis that was the Queen's Park Hotel, formerly located in Trinidad's Port of Spain. Along with this delicious cocktail, Robert demonstrates proper swizzling technique as well as a quick and easy way to crush ice with common household items, should you not have a Lewis Bag on hand.
Eagle’s Dream Cocktail
23 Oct 13 2
Like drinking a cloud! This delicious gin cocktail is a frothy and light drink perfect for brunch. Robert also demonstrates a great tip for adding thick froth to cocktails that use egg white and require a dry shake.
Applejack Fix Cocktail - Punch For One
9 Oct 13 2
"What the heck is a Fix?!", Sam asks. Well, Sam, a fix is a category of drink, like a sour, that is, essentially, a punch for one person. A fix can be made with any base spirit and usually contains a flavored syrup, like pineapple. For this Fix, Robert uses Applejack as his base spirit and combines it with pineapple syrup he made from scratch, which he also explains and demonstrates how to make in this episode.
29 Aug 13 2
There are several accounts of the origins of the Bamboo Cocktail. One claims the name comes from Bob Cole's 1902 hit song "Under the Bamboo Tree". William Boothby, a noted bartender of the day, says in his 1908 book "The World's Drinks" that the drink was created and named by Louis Eppinger, at the Grand Hotel in Yokohama, Japan. Either way, this is a cocktail that contains no base spirit that we think you will enjoy.
Captain’s Blood Cocktail
31 Jul 13 2
Robert answers a viewer's question about bitters in this episode of The Cocktail Spirit. Specifically, he discusses basic "rules" when using bitters in cocktails. Similar to the Daiquiri, the Captain's Blood Cocktail is typically made with a darker, Jamaican rum rather than a lighter style rum; any dark rum will do. The main difference you will find is that the measurements of both lime juice and simple syrup are reduced significantly allowing the rum and bitters to really shine. Building off the base of the Daiquiri (or a rum sour), this cocktail contains aromatic bitters that elevate it to a new height of complexity. Some recipes will also contain Falernum. If you have it, try the drink both with and without Falernum and let us know what you think.
Eye Opener Cocktail
19 Nov 13 1
For a variety of reasons (nudge, nudge), it can be a difficult task forcing one's eyes to open in the morning. Fortunately, early on, our imbibing forefathers and mothers created smooth and delicious concoctions that might help gently lift our eyelids to greet the day. In this episode, Robert demonstrates the recipe for an Eye Opener Cocktail (of which there are many variations) featuring a nice aged rum and an egg yolk making it perfect for breakfast or brunch.
27 Sep 12 1
This drink was created by the owner (and sometimes bartender) of “Monas Bistro & Lounge” here in Seattle. It was one of my hangouts in my early years of digging into cocktails, in fact Tito (the owner) even built my home bar for me.
Zig Zag Café - Hot Buttered Rum Batter
17 Dec 08 1
Just in time for the holidays, Robert sits down with Kacy Fitch of world renowned Zig Zag Café in Seattle for a classic winter warmer done right - The Hot Buttered Rum.
Dry Martini Cocktail
16 Jul 07 1
It is time perhaps that we tackle that quintessential cocktail, the Martini. This drink originated in the late 1800's, and quickly became one of the standards, alongside the Manhattan. The pre-prohibition Martini however was different from what you might expect today in many ways, and frankly it was a lot better for it. NOTE: Ok, so you got me pontificating about the Martini so much that I messed up making the dry Martini in this episode. I should have added a dash of orange bitters to the dry Martini cocktail just like I did to the sweet version.
Learn the Foundational Cocktail Recipes - Trident Cocktail
22 Jan 15 0
I think there is probably nothing more important for making truly great cocktails than understanding the “Foundational” cocktail recipes. By taking the time to master those cocktails which represent the basic and classical foundations, you will not only better understand all of the other cocktails which are based on them, but you will be better prepared to experiment with creating your own recipes. In any culinary school, one of the first things that will be drummed into the students are the classic recipes. In French cooking school specifically, students are carefully taught the foundational sauces. Once you understand these sauces, you can then add additional herbs, spices and other appropriate flavorings to tailor the sauce to the specific needs of the moment. The cocktail world is no different. The classic cocktails can often be thought of in the same light as the foundational sauces of French cuisine. The recipes I will typically encourage people to master are Old Fashioned, Sazerac, Manhattan, Martini, Whiskey Sour, Sidecar, Margarita, Daiquiri, Negroni, Bloody Mary, and Mai Tai. Even in this list, we have drinks which are based upon one another. The Whiskey Sour, Sidecar, Margarita, and Daiquiri are all very close variations of one another, with the Mai Tai being closely related. So even here, understanding how one of these cocktails is just a slightly different expression of another, and how the flavor profile changes due to those differences, goes a long way in better understanding that style of cocktail in general. - Robert Hess
Liqeuer, Aperitif & Digestif
- Almond Liqueur
- Apricot Liqueur
- Blackcurrant Liqueur
- Chocolate Liqueur
- Cherry Liqueur
- Ginger Liqueur
- Herbal Liqueur
- Mint Liqueur
- Pomegranate Liqueur
- Orange Liqueur
- Violet Liqueur