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.
Hot Buttered Rum
23 Nov 10 4
Making a hot buttered rum can be a complicated process. The batter itself can have a dozen ingredients. Although it is delicious (Kathy Casey makes a wonderful Hot Buttered Egg Nog and if you are lucky enough, you can snag a delectable rendition at Zig Zag Cafe in Seattle) it is not necessary. In this episode, Robert shows you how to make a quick and easy hot buttered rum with simple ingredients any one would or should have available at a moments notice.
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.
Learn the Foundational Cocktail Recipes - Trident Cocktail
22 Jan 15 3
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
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.
Cherries in Cocktails - A Proper Garnish for the Little Italy Cocktail
10 Apr 15 2
Maraschino cherries are a staple ingredient behind almost any bar. They are an extremely common garnish for a wide variety of cocktails, and if you look through the annals of historical cocktail books, you find cherries to have been a cocktail garnish for over a hundred years. The common maraschino cherries we have today, however, bare little resemblance to the cherries bartenders in the 1800’s would have used. The original maraschino cherries were imported “Marasca” cherries, a dark sour cherry from Dalmatia (now Croatia). They were packed in a thick flavorful liqueur, and where considered a luxury treat. Soon cheaper imports sprang onto the market, trying to satisfy the American sweet tooth. These “imitation” maraschino cherries were sometimes made using questionable methods, and were usually artificially flavored in order to disguise either the lack of flavor in the resultant product, or the off-flavors which resulted from the processing. American cherries were deemed unacceptable for use since they had a softer texture which got even worse once the cherries were prepared. The Pure Food Act of 1906 paved the way to clean up the methods used for manufacturing consumables. This helped to eliminate much of the downright dangerous cherries on the market, but did nothing for the “imitators” of the real thing. In America, methods were developed to turn a “Royal Anne” cherry into a crude approximation of the maraschino cherry. Then in 1912, the FDA stepped in to clarify what it meant to be a “maraschino” cherry: - “maraschino cherries” should be applied only to marasca cherries preserved in maraschino. This decision further described maraschino as a liqueur or cordial prepared by process of fermentation and distillation from the marasca cherry, a small variety of the European wild cherry indigenous to the Dalmatian Mountains. Products prepared from cherries of the Royal Anne type, artificially colored and flavored and put up in flavored sugar sirup might be labeled “Imitation Maraschino Cherries” Today, non-marasca maraschino cherries are no longer required to refer to themselves as “imitation” but, once you’ve tried the real thing, you can clearly see there is no comparison. To help distinguish true marasca cherries from rest it has become common to pronounce real maraschino cherries as “mare-es-KEE-no”, as it was originally pronounced, and those neon red globes as “mare-a-CHEE-no”. For your cocktail use, the best cherries to look for are Luxardo Maraschino Cherries, while costing more than the supermarket variety, they are worth having on hand. You can thank the Pegu Club of New York for establishing the relationship with the Luxardo Company back in 2005 to bring these cherries into the US in bulk and then popularizing them amongst craft bartenders across the nation.
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.
Pre-Chill Your Cocktail Glass - Rob Roy Cocktail
12 Feb 15 1
Have you ever gone to a bar, ordered a drink, and once you picked it up, the glass felt warm? Fine restaurants will typically pre-heat your plates before the meal you ordered is added to them. It only makes sense; if the plates were cold, then it would quickly suck the heat out of any food that was put onto it. It’s called Thermal Transfer. If Thermal Transfer can turn hot food cold, then it only makes sense that it can also turn cold drinks warm as well. It takes very little effort to pre-chill your glass. The best bars will have specialized glass chillers so that their glassware starts its journey as cold as possible. Even if a glass chiller is more than you can muster, it is easy enough to simply add some ice and a little water to your cocktail glasses before you start mixing up the drink. - Robert Hess
Double Strain Your Cocktails - Old Cuban Cocktail
29 Jan 15 1
Anyone who mixes up a drink knows that an important step is straining the drink into the glass. There are a number of ways to accomplish this, some of them better than others. Every bartender should at least have a hawthorn strainer on hand which fits their mixing glasses and tins. In many cases however, it is also useful to have a small fine-mesh strainer on hand as well. A fine-mesh strainer comes in handy for when you want to “double-strain” your drinks. Many people always double-strain a shaken cocktail as it will hold back any little ice-shards that result from hard shaking. Some people on the other hand like the little bits of ice that will dot the top of their drink. Double straining can also be used for keeping citrus pulp or pieces of muddle fruit or herbs out of the drink; you don't want little green specks of mint on your teeth! While not a critical step in preparing great cocktails, double straining is a technique that can help take your cocktails to a finer level of quality. To demonstrate the double straining technique, I chose to make a Old Cuban Cocktail, first created by Pegu Club owner, Audrey Saunders. - Robert Hess
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.
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