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.
Rob Roy Cocktail
27 Jul 09 16
The Rob Roy gets it's name from an opera by the same name which opened in New York in 1894. In those days it was common to bring about new cocktails and name them after popular shows. For the Rob Roy, they simply took an existing popular cocktail, the Manhattan, and substituted the rye for scotch. Most likely, it would have been made with Dewar's blended scotch, which had just recently begun being imported into the states.
18 May 09 16
The Widow's Kiss dates back to around 1895. This was during a time when a "new" age of cocktails were coming into existence as bartenders were letting it expand beyond it's previously held definition of "spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters". They were experimenting with the use of vermouth (and hence the Martini and Manhattan), as well as various herbal liqueurs which would have previously been simply sipped neat. The Widow's Kiss doubles up on it's elixir content by using both Chartreuse and Benedictine. If you can only find green Chartreuse and not yellow, you can substitute if you cut back by about a third.
Pimm’s Cup Cocktail
21 Jul 08 16
This easy to make drink, is not only full of great flavors, and a wonderfully refreshing drink during the summer, but it also is slightly lower in overall alcohol content then most drinks and so is a good way to introduce folks to classic drinks. The common garnish is just a slice of cucumber, but it was also once popular to "festoon it with fruits in season".
El Floridita Cocktail
30 Jul 07 16
The "Floridita" Cocktail gets its name from the Floridita bar in Cuba. If you glance through various cocktail books, you will most likely find a variety of different drinks that go by this name, I'm not sure which one should be considered the original version, but this particular one I find to be quite delightful. You'll also learn about how to make homemade Grenadine in the process. (And as to the name of this drink using the masculine "El" instead of the feminine "La"... I've been told that while the establishment takes the feminine name of "Floridita", in Spanish the bar itself is masculine, and thus "El" should be used. At least that's what I've been told.)
Don’t Use Old Vermouth
12 Nov 14 15
There used to be a time when the amount of dry vermouth that would make it into your Martini would have been better measured by an eye dropper instead of a jigger. To this day, you can still find little spray bottles being sold as “vermouth misters” to allow only the slightest amount of vermouth to be added to your Martini. When you are using that little vermouth in your Martini, that means that you are going through your vermouth very slowly, making it very, very old before you make even the slightest dent in it. Vermouth is a wine. And like any wine, it will oxidize over time, which will impact its flavor. Vermouth is what is known as a fortified/aromatized wine (Port and Sherry are simply fortified wines). Fortification simply means adding an alcohol to the wine, usually brandy. This originally was done to help preserve it, the higher alcohol content would make it last longer. Aromatization means that herbs, spices, and botanicals have been added to it. The original intent of this was to produce a supposedly medicinal beverage, with wormwood being the key ingredient of vermouth, which is where it gets its name. These botanicals also had a side-effect of giving the wine a longer shelf-life, not because it reduced oxidation, but because it would sort of mask the effects of oxidation. Even with fortification and aromatization vermouth is still a wine, and so its shelf life, once opened, is limited. Those dusty bottles of vermouth you might have on your shelf are not going to do anything good for any drink you use them in. This could be part of what leads to the fear that some people have of vermouth, and hence the gymnastics they may go through to use as little of it as possible in their cocktails (the Martini specifically). You owe it to yourself, and the guests you are serving, to use as fresh of a bottle of vermouth as you can. This will mean buying as small a bottle as possible and keeping it refrigerated when not in use. If you have any doubts about the age of that bottle, then relegate it for use in cooking, where it works quite well.
Monkey Gland Cocktail
26 Apr 11 15
The present day cannot lay claim to all that is outrageous and downright strange. Back in the day, men used to attempt amazingly misguided, ill informed shenanigans with the goal of increasing their virility and longevity; like taking monkey testicles and implanting or grafting them in to their own bodies. Thus, the Monkey Gland cocktail was created by Frank Meier, of the Ritz Hotel Paris (April, 1923). It is delicious. Promise.
6 Dec 10 15
Some seem to think the Bijou cocktail should be a layered drink, but it isn’t. The Bijou (meaning jewel in French) cocktail was reportedly invented by Harry Johnson in the 1890's. The oldest recipe I have comes from his 1900 "New And Improved Bartenders Manual", where the instructions clearly state "mix well with a spoon and serve." I can understand why somebody might think the layered presentation would be more appropriate, but it was not the way this drink was originally intended to be served. In a previous episode, you saw Dale DeGroff’s take on this the Ritz Bijou.
15 Jun 09 15
Originally, cocktails had such fanciful names as “gin cocktail”, “whiskey cocktail”, and “brandy cocktail”. Now that is some creativity the likes of which we haven’t seen in a long time. Such names were common in the original bartender’s guide published in 1862 by Jerry Thomas. By the time he published his second book in 1887; cocktail names had taken a decidedly different turn. Besides the Manhattan, Morning Glory, and Martinez cocktail, we also see one of the first appearances of the Saratoga cocktail. This variation on a Manhattan includes brandy along with the whiskey.
Tequila Old Fashioned
4 May 09 15
Think there is only one way to make an Old Fashioned? Think again. Unlike drinks such as the Martini, Margarita, and Daiquiri which have fairly specific recipes, the "Old Fashioned" emerged during the late 1800's as a way to refer to a cocktail as it was originally made in the "old days". The old cocktail books would refer to "Old Fashioned Whiskey Cocktail" so there was no confusion as to what spirit to use. While today it is simply assumed that Whiskey will be the ingredient in your Old Fashioned (or Brandy if you are from Minnesota), that doesn't mean you can't enjoy this style of cocktail with other spirits. So join me as I make mine with Tequila. And since cocktails should be all about celebrating the spirit, I'll be using a quality tequila, specifically Hornitos 100% blue agave tequila.
18 Jun 07 15
A pre-prohibition cocktail which highlights the value of orange bitters. Few bartenders will know this once popular drink, but is worth rediscovering.
24 Jan 12 14
The Biter Cocktail can be found in Harry Craddock's Savoy Cocktail Book. Similar to the Last Word Cocktail, the Biter is a bit more complex because of the addition of Absinthe. Also, Robert reviews yet another juicer he has found with the hopes that this company does not go out of business.
Lucien Gaudin Cocktail
8 Feb 11 14
Lucien Gaudin was a French fencer who won gold medlas at the '24 and '28 Olympic Games. So fond were the French of this master swordsman that they named a cocktail after him after his most recent victories. His namesake is a very European flare with its use of gin, vermouth, Cointreau and Campari. Delicious!
Brandy Alexander Cocktail
1 Feb 11 14
Few bartenders dread the chocolate martini more than any other drink request. First, it is not a martini. Second, you might as well have a scoop of chocolate ice cream instead! To the rescue comes a classic that is sure to please, simple to make and much more interesting: the Brandy Alexander.
8 Sep 09 14
I am always on the lookout for cocktails which use slightly offbeat, if not downright obscure ingredients. Ramazzotti as an Italian Amaro Bitters, which has a fairly robust and complex flavor. It can present a delightful play of flavors when balanced against the right ingredients. I ran across this drink at the Zig Zag Café in Seattle, where it is regularly one of their go-to drinks when a customer wants something just a bit different.
9 Feb 09 14
The Bijou is a classic, but not terribly common cocktail. Dale DeGroff recently released a new book "The Essential Cocktail", in which he presents classic cocktails along with several variations which illustrate how one recipe can be used as a springboard to other creations. He presents the "Ritz Bijou" as one such variation, and it is an excellent drink to become familiar with.
13 Aug 07 14
I feel that there are far too few good tequila cocktails available, and so I'm always excited when I encounter a new one to add to my collection. I'm hoping that you'll appreciate the complex collection of flavors that the Rosita provides as much as I do.
30 Nov 09 13
The word "Scofflaw" has come to mean "A person who flouts the law, especially an unsustainable one." But such was not always the case. It was in 1923, when Delcevare King, a member of the Anti-Saloon League, posed a contest to create a new word in order to combat the continued drinking which was going on during American Prohibition. The new word was to be one "which best expresses the idea of a lawless drinker, menace, scoffer, bad citizen, or whatnot, with the biting power of 'scab' or 'slacker.'" The $200 prize elicited a huge response. On January 16th, 1924, the Boston Herald announced the winning word as "scofflaw", with the winnings shared by the two Boston area residents, Henry Irving Dale and Kate L. Butler, who both submitted it. This was not the end of the story however, in just a little over a week, a salvo was launched from Harry's New York Bar in Paris, where they created a new drink and christened it the "Scofflaw".
30 Mar 09 13
First encountered in Jerry Thomas' 1887 Bartender's Guide, he specifically notes that "The name of this cocktail is a misnomer, as coffee and bitters are not to be found among its ingredients, but it looks like coffee when it has been properly concocted, and hence probably its name."
27 Oct 08 13
When preparing to add some Tiki... er... Exotic Cocktails to my site, I asked Jeff "Beachbum" Berry what drink he recommended besides the Mai Tai. This classic "Trader Vic" creation was first on his list. As Trader Vic himself said: "Fog Cutter, hell. After two of these, you won't even see the stuff."
Beach Bum’s Own Cocktail
20 Oct 08 13
Bosko Hrnjak is a noted sculptor and is famous for his "Tiki" creations (http://www.tikibosko.com). He once created a Tiki Mug in the likeness of Jeff "Beachbum" Berry, but alas, it had no signature drink to be filled with. The Beachbum himself soon rectified this problem by coming up with this delightful creation.
How to Garnish a Cocktail
9 Jun 08 13
Most cocktails are not complete without the garnish. Not only does a garnish add eye appeal but it can be, and most often is, a major flavor component. So, don't discount the garnish when creating cocktails at home or at your bar. They are quintessential in crafting the drinking experience.
2 Jul 07 13
It's hard to understand how the Japanese Cocktail has slid into obscurity. While you might find it listed in some of the modern cocktail books, you'll be hard pressed to find one that uses the original recipe from Jerry Thomas' "Bar Tenders Guide" published in 1887. Properly made the sweet almond flavor of the orgeat balances the brandy and the bitters to present a very enticing drink.
Bainbridge Island Iced Tea
27 Oct 12 12
Ever wonder what we do with the leftovers from all the cocktails we make during a Cocktail Spirit shoot? Bainbridge Island Iced Tea of course!
23 Aug 12 12
This cocktail was believed to have been named after Douglas Fairbanks Sr. If that was the case, then why is it “Fairbank” and not “Fairbanks”? An alternate story says it was named after Charles Warren Fairbank, who was Theodore Roosevelt’s vice president.
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