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.
Suffering Bastard Cocktail
8 Sep 08 12
The original name for this drink was apparently the Suffering Bar Steward, but as one might expect in a noisy bar after a few drinks, the name gets a little mangled. There are several recipes for this floating about. For mine I turned to one of my favorite sources, Beachbum Berrry's Grog Log, by Jeff Berry.
Sour Mix: Just Say No - Daiquiri Cocktail
22 Oct 14 11
As the saying goes, when you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail. For bartenders, that “hammer” can come in the form of “sour mix”. For sour style cocktails (such as Daiquiri, Margarita, Sidecar, Cosmopolitan, etc.), the proper balance between sweet and sour is important to achieve. You can add just a quarter ounce too much tart citrus juice to a cocktail and send it over the cliff. So imagine the value of getting that “just right” balance ahead of time, in bulk, and then being able to turn out well-balanced drinks that much quicker, without having to be as concerned about getting the recipe right. One of the problems of course is that not all sour style cocktails are created equal. Even a great sour mix, made from scratch, won’t work well in multiple recipes. Probably the only time that a sour mix “batch” is appropriate, is for a catering type of operation or event. This would be where you either know you are going to be slammed all night with people ordering a specific cocktail, or you have to use untrained staff. In such a situation you can have the “right” sour mix for the couple of drinks you’ll be offering, make it easier for untrained staff to get the recipe right, and take a little less time doing it. Sour mix was not created as a cocktail ingredient, but as a cocktail shortcut. The next time you see a recipe that calls for “sour mix”, realize that you will be far better off looking for another recipe.
White Lady Cocktail
29 May 12 11
Without looking too hard, you'll find a few different recipes going by the name "White Lady". Two, three or even four of them are all from the same bartender, Harry MacElhone, who created the drink in 1919. His original recipe called for Creme de Menthe, Cointreau, and Lemon Juice. In "ABC of Mixing Drinks" he lists it as Brandy, Creme de Menthe, and Cointreau, and then in 1923, when he took over the New York Bar in Paris, he updated the recipe again to be gin, Cointreau, and lemon juice, which is far more palatable. Many times these days, you will find this drink made with egg white as well. The recipe used here is as it was served by Harry Craddock at the Savoy cocktail bar in London.
26 Oct 11 11
Named after the Suburban Handicap horse race held in the Brooklyn's Sheepshead Bay during the 1800s, the Suburban Cocktail comes to us via the Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book. It was meant to celebrate men such as James R Keene who made their riches in stocks and owned a number of horses.
6 Sep 11 11
Invented by W.J. Tarling, author of The Café Royal Cocktail Book (1937), the Royalist Cocktail is similar to a Manhattan. The use of Peach bitters in lieu of Angostura as well as the use of dry instead of sweet vermouth are the obvious differences. Benedictine offers a touch of sweetness and spice to what is a delightful cocktail.
Ocean Shore Cocktail
5 Jul 11 11
Having no relation to the beachside Washington state town of (almost) the same name, the Ocean Shore Cocktail is nonetheless reminiscent of the sea. Its lavender blue hue topped with froth created by the addition of egg white and a good hard shake, is reminiscent of the sea. In this episode, Robert demonstrates how to make the Ocean Shore Cocktail and discusses how sloe gin is made.
2 Nov 10 11
Sometime during the year 1919, or perhaps early 1920, the "Negroni" cocktail was invented when Cammillo Luigi Manfredo Maria Negroni (reportedly a Count) asked Fosco Scarselli, barman at the Cafe Casoni to "fortify" his regular Americano with some gin. There is a letter from October 13, 1920 written to Count Camillo (at some point he dropped the second "m" in his name) from Frances Harper of Chelsea, London: "You say you can drink, smoke, & I am sure laugh, just as much as ever. I feel you are not much to be pitied! You must not take more than 20 Negronis in one day!"
Pink Gin Cocktail
16 Mar 09 11
Nothing could be simpler, gin and bitters. It may not be a drink I'd recommend to somebody just getting interested in cocktails, but once you've grown accustomed to the normal lineup, it's a great drink to try. The amount of bitters can easily be adjusted either up or down depending on your tastes.
Hula Hula Cocktail
13 Oct 08 11
Ray Buhen was one of the original bartenders for Don The Beachcomber. The Hula Hula was one of Ray's early creations and still proves to be a great drink. I might recommend one for brunch perhaps?
Gin Fizz Cocktail
7 Apr 08 11
The Fizz, a once popular style of drink, can be made in myriad ways. The Gin Fizz is light and refreshing and deserves re-discovery.
Corpse Reviver #1
6 Sep 12 10
Corpse Revivers were (and are) a style of drink intended for a bit of the hair of the dog (an expression that refers to alcohol used as a treatment for a hangover). Hard to say exactly what it was about these drinks that made them seem more appropriate for this use over other drinks. Regardless of time of day of consumption, the Corpse Reviver #1 is worth discovering as it is not seen very often.
9 Aug 12 10
This drink clearly comes from the era of American Prohibition. I found it in the Savoy Cocktail Book, which was published in 1933, so even if this wasn’t its first in-print appearance, it had to be pretty close. This recipe specifically called for Plymouth gin, as well as Kina Lillet. Plymouth is of course still around, but there is some debate as to if the currently available Lillet is the same as was once marketed as “Kina Lillet”. Some evidence appears to indicate that the product was reformulated sometime in the past, and it’s bitterness from the quinine might have been softened at that time.
12 Jan 12 10
Ratios make a difference. Often, two cocktails have the same exact ingredients. The difference in taste and aroma comes from the ratios. Such is the case with the Ford Cocktail as it is very similar to the Caprice Cocktail.
16 Nov 10 10
Sometimes referred to as the Emerald Martini, the Alaska Cocktail represents Hendrick's Gin and Yellow Chartreuse equally well.
Income Tax Cocktail
15 Apr 10 10
It can often be said that paying your income tax is a bittered experience. As cocktails go, the Income Tax cocktail can be described as a "Bronx" cocktail with bitters, but it might be difficult to know if that is how it originally received its name.
21st Century Cocktail
22 Jun 09 10
The 20th Century cocktail has been around for… well… about a century. Isn’t it time we had something a little more up-to-date? Jim Meehan, of PDT in New York City, felt the same way, and so he came up with this delightful variation that is well worth trying. I appreciate it because it uses tequila, and I personally think the world needs a few more good tequila cocktail recipes.
Monte Carlo Cocktail
1 Jun 09 10
It seems like these days everybody is trying to come up with “variations” on some particular cocktail, Pomegranate Martinis, Raspberri Manhattans, Strawberry Mojitos… you get the point. If a drink is a Manhattan, call it a Manhattan, if it isn’t don’t. Case in point, the “Monte Carlo”. This drink is essentially a Manhattan in which you have simply switched out the sweet vermouth, for something a little sweeter, and a little more complex, Benedictine. If you like Manhattans, you’ll probably like this drink as well.
Scorpion Bowl Cocktail
3 Nov 08 10
This classic "Communal" libation is a classic served at many Tiki inspired lounges, but the original comes from Trader Vic himself. While the recipe changed some over the years, this version from the 1960's is often pointed to as the best.
Product Choice is Important - The Sidecar Cocktail
11 Dec 14 9
I recall one of the first times I went to the liquor store to “stock my liquor cabinet”. It was a tad daunting to try to make sense of all of the different bottles of booze and understand what I was needing. And the price range, wow! At the time, I didn’t really have any true knowledge of brands and quality variations, but I knew enough to realize that just because there might be a brand that I had heard of through their marketing efforts, didn’t necessarily mean it was a good product. Since there were several different products I needed to buy, and a budget to deal with, the $20+ products became less and less appealing. Knowing that with wines, price wasn’t really a useful measure of the quality, I assumed the same could be true with spirits, and so I tried to be selective on finding “bargain” priced bottles. At first, I thought it was just the recipes I was using which were making my cocktails lackluster. Thankfully I did the right thing when it came time to replace a depleted bottle, I intentionally bought a different brand, and since I only needed to buy one or two on this visit, I was able to buy something a little more expensive. My cocktails quickly improved. This isn’t to say that all of the good spirit choices have to be expensive ones. There are lower-cost products that you can use which can make cocktails as good, if not better than, their costlier counterparts. And sometimes, even if a more expensive product will make a better cocktail, is the difference noticeable enough to warrant the expense? Courvoisier, is a great cognac. Their VSOP costs, say $45 per bottle, but their VS is more like $25. A sidecar made with the VSOP will be a better drink, but will it be twice as good? If you were to compare them side by side, you’d probably pick the VSOP as the better drink, but you’d still really enjoy the VS as well. So in this case there is nothing wrong with going with the less expensive Courvoisier VS. Cointreau is a triple sec, and most recipes for a Sidecar simply list “Triple Sec” as an ingredient. Cointreau costs, say $34 a bottle, while you can get a bottle of triple sec for around $10. The difference here however can be quite amazing. Not only would you clearly identify a Cointreau Sidecar in a side-by-side comparison, but you might be hard-pressed to finish the one made with triple sec after this discovery. So selecting products you are going to use in your cocktails, realize that your choices will make a difference.
Don’t Use Bad Ice in Your Cocktails - Mai Tai Recipe
19 Nov 14 9
Ice has become one of those things that some cocktail geeks can really… well… geek out about. You don’t have to look too hard to find people discussing the science of crystal clear ice, how to make hand-carved ice balls, or various other highly involved details about the ice that goes into mixing the perfect cocktail. As these deep examinations on ice start turning into esoteric exercise, it is easy to start dismissing the importance of ice all together. Ice is just frozen water isn’t it? What’s the big deal? In truth, thinking about the ice you put into your drink is a very important consideration. At the most rudimentary level it is all about size/shape, and temperature. Some bars will use what is referred to as Half-Cube or Crescent ice. These are two slightly different shapes, but about the same size, about the size of a pat of butter. This small and flatish ice will fill the glass with more ice than cubes would which will make the glass look like it is fuller of beverage than it actually is. Since there is more surface area exposed on this shape, it will melt faster as well. The result of course is a flabby drink, and not much of it. Higher end bars will go out of their way to use nice sized cube ice, the larger the cube, the less surface area exposed, and the slower the melt. For serving a drink on the rocks, you can select a size that virtually fills up the glass, but for mixing a drink you need something smaller so you aren’t fighting with the ice when you stir. The most common size is just a little over 1” cube. From a temperature standpoint, at a fairly rudimentary level, ice can be either “wet” or so cold it is “dry”. Wet ice has already started melting, and has a thin layer of water on it, which will immediately go into the drink. “Dry” ice (not to be confused with the CO2 based “dry ice”) is so cold that its surface hasn’t started melting yet. If you touch a cube of “dry” ice, your finger will stick to it because the ice is so cold it freezes to the small bit of moisture on your finger. So, while there is nothing wrong with geeking out about ice, your primary concern is to use nice sized cube which are as cold as possible.
Violet Fizz Cocktail
23 Jul 13 9
The use of violet liqueur in the Violet Fizz Cocktail gives the drink not only a delightful pale violet color but an earthy and floral quality perfect for showcasing a floral and well balanced gin. Adding soda water helps to lengthen and bring together the remaining ingredients making for a refreshing summer sipper. Grab a Bottle of Ford's Gin at Caskers.com Created by The 86 Co., Ford's Gin just won Best New Product at the Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards 2013.
Blood and Sand Cocktail
8 May 12 9
In 1922 Rudolph Valentino starred in the movie “Blood and Sand”, a movie that shortly before his death in 1926 he declared as the part he liked the best. He had just undergone a touchy surgery for appendicitis and gastric ulcers and told the gathering press “The part I like best was my role in ‘Blood and Sand’. If I had died, I would have liked to be remembered as an actor by that role – I think it my greatest.” He died a few days later from peritonitis. It is unknown who actually created the recipe for Blood and Sand, but its first appearance seems to be in “The Savoy Cocktail Book” by Harry Cradock in 1930. There it lists the recipe as equal parts of all three ingredients, but I feel that the recipe works better by boosting the scotch.
Young Man Cocktail
31 Jan 12 9
Created by famed bartender, Harry Craddock, the Young Man Cocktail is essentially a Manhattan made with Cognac. The addition of orange curaçao offers a subtle citrus note and a touch of sweetness.
19 Jan 12 9
The Washington Cocktail can be found in the Savoy Cocktail Book. Of the "new" style of cocktails created during the late 1800's, the Washington is typical of that era in that it contains vermouth like the manhattan and the martini but uses cognac as its spirit.
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