since February 2012


When Good Recipes Go Bad – The Old Fashioned Cocktail 4 Dec 2014
12:18 pm

Lest any viewers take the admonishment against using an orange peel with rye in an Old Fashioned as dogma, let it also be stated that some of us passionate fans of a proper Old Fashioned would never use anything OTHER than an orange peel with our rye, simple syrup, and bitters concoction ;)  Given the choice of a lemon twist or no garnish with this drink, I’d go with the latter, but oh, how a twist of orange transforms it into something altogether heavenly!

Don't Use Bad Ice in Your Cocktails - Mai Tai Recipe 20 Nov 2014
12:44 pm

Nice to see you update your Mai Tai recipe.  I’ve recommended your book to many, many people, but one thing I’ve pointed out is that the Mai Tai recipe is pretty bad.  FWIW, I think a good, funky, aged Jamaican rum (like Appleton 12), or a blend of aged Jamaican rum and a rhum agricole (Depaz is a nice value) are the best combos, but simply calling for an ounce of light and dark is far too vague and can result in a combination of two rums which don’t really play well together.

Don't Use Bad Ice in Your Cocktails - Mai Tai Recipe 20 Nov 2014
12:52 pm

Two more things…  No mint leaf garnish?  Also, I completely agree with you about not using the “cheap” ice, but I also have issues with ice that comes from silicone molds like you suggest.  In my experience, those molds can leave a somewhat platic-y odor on the ice.  Since my fridge doesn’t have an ice maker, I do what people have done for decades - I simply use cheap plastic ice trays from Target to keep a large plastic ice bucket filled at all times in my freezer.  The ice is colder, stronger, and larger, with no plastic smell, and it makes great cocktails for me at home :)

Improved Tequila Cocktail 24 Jul 2012
5:15 pm

Steve, I don’t mean to speak for Charlotte, but IMO, there’s no sub for maraschino.  It’s a very unique flavor - not really cherry so much as slightly nutty, mostly due to the pits being used as part of the recipe.  There’s already simple syrup, so agave nectar would really just be the equivalent of adding another sweetener.

Martini Cocktail 22 Jul 2012
7:09 pm

I tend to go with Robert Hess’s recipe, which is 2.5 oz. gin and 3/4 oz of dry vermouth with a dash of orange bitters (I use a 50/50 blend of Fee and Regan’s).  Perfection.  Don’t see the need to crack the ice.  I stir for 35 seconds with full cubes and it turns out great.  The olive is obviously an iconic part of martinis, yet that was one of the reasons I always hated them.  It seemed like a terrible mishmash of flavors, though millions of folks would likely disagree.  It wasn’t until I used Hess’s recipe, which leaves out the olive, that I learned to love this drink.  I’ve used several gins, and it’s interesting that you use Heyman’s; it makes a god martini but my personal preference is Plymouth. 

Perry; you can buy some good coupes at Amazon.  They’re supposed to be based on the glasses used in Casablanca.  I just wanted some coupes, but that made it all the cooler.  That being said, the coupes used in here are pretty cool.

I know it may screw up product placement, but the Oxo jiggers have graduated measurements inscribed inside the jigger.  Best jiggers I’ve found.

Cuba Libre Cocktail 8 Feb 2016
9:26 pm

Those are some poorly designed jiggers.  1.5 oz on one side and 1 oz. on the other is far more useful.  Although kegworks probably doesn’t wont it mentioned, I feel it’s worth noting that Oxo makes the best jiggers I’ve found - they actually have gradations etched inside the jigger for easy and precise measurement.  You can find them for $8-&9 at Target.  Also, hitting high like you did the first time on that Boston shaker is an easy way to crack the glass.  You want it to be lower and right at the seam between the two vessels

Algonquin Cocktail 5 Jul 2012
1:37 pm

Just not much of a fan of this cocktail.  It seemed like a bit of a train wreck.  The vermouth stood out as an unnecessary flavor and the rye and pineapple juice seemed like a really unfortunate pairing.  To each their own, but this is one I tried once and don’t plan on trying again.

Jack Rose Cocktail 26 Jun 2012
11:38 am

This is an interesting one.  I’ve noticed a lot of variations on the portions in this drink, and even some recipes calling for lemon juice instead of lime.  I’ve used the ratio you provided here and I found it too sour, with no real apple flavor but loads of lime juice sour and bitterness.  Folks I served it to also felt it was far too sour.  After toying around with various recipes, I settled on 2:1/2:1/2 ratio.  I think that ratio produces a very bright, sweet/sour, and decently complex fruit flavor highlighting both the sour citrus and the subtle apple flavors.

Old Fashioned Cocktail 1 Jun 2012
12:30 pm

I’m not sure about this new series.  For one thing, do we really need another video telling us how to make an Old Fashioned?  For another, I don’t think this woman needed someone to show her how to make an Old Fashioned, and as such, her acting job in terms of being the “student” seemed awkwardly done.  Actually , the whole thing seemed a bit awkward, but if I had a choice, I’d have Small Screen Network give the girl her own show: she’s cute and has a far more engaging personality.  Oh, and if the idea is to make drinks using the home bars of real people, then shouldn’t some emphasis be given to the person’s home bar?  All I say here was some woman’s kitchen table.  I love the Robert Hess videos, but this almost seems like a first take amateur thing uploaded to youtube.

Oh, and as far as the drink goes, I’d suggest making it separately in a mixing glass and then pouring over the large single cube.  I also personally like to add two dashes of angostura (or FBWA bitters) and one dash of orange bitters.

Old Fashioned Cocktail 1 Jun 2012
1:27 pm

I’ve got nothing against properly made Old Fashioneds, but considering that you already have at least five videos on what is a really simple drink, don’t you think it’s getting a bit redundant now?  To some degree, you even risk losing possible viewers who see yet another video on how to mix bitters, whiskey, and sugar and just say, “no thanks”. 

I think you could do more with the home bar concept than just take a basic drink and mix it in someone’s kitchen.  Why not, for example, take what’s in someone’s actual home bar and come up with a few cocktails they can make on the fly with what they have, perhaps by even taking a few classic cocktails and showing how they can modified to make use of what someone may actually have lying around?  Maybe talk to amateur cocktail aficionados about their home bars.  Why certain liquors and not others?  What do they make they make most frequently when guests are visiting and drinks are poured?  For folks who have more than a few bottles but no actual bar, have they come up with any interesting storage ideas?  I’ve actually seen some really cool Ikea bar hacks online which would make some interesting short video content.

Point being, the idea that you seem to have to set this new series apart from what’s already on your site is that it emphasizes real-life home bars rather than real bars, or the dream home bars of guys like Robert Hess.  However, this video seems to just pay lip service to that aspect and instead is just another video showing how to pour together bitters, bourbon, and sugar.

I hope I don’t come across as a troll, but I really enjoy a lot of Small Screen Network content and feel like this new idea has promise but it just wasn’t executed with any thought towards mining the originality in the concept.  Best of luck!

Bridal Cocktail 1 May 2012
4:37 pm

Ginty, I also agree you’re not crazy.  I actually made this first from the recipe in Mr. Hess’s book, The Essential Bartender’s Guide, in which he himself calls for 1/4 oz.  I find it much better that way.  The cocktail has far more depth and a nice subtle sophistication.  I found the recipe in this video to taste like mildly altered gin, however, your tastes may vary.  The version in the Essential Bartender’s Guide also calls for a maraschino cherry for garnish, which I prefer as well.

Ocean Shore Cocktail 5 Oct 2015
3:37 pm

My favorite recipe for orgeat:


Monkey Gland Cocktail 14 Oct 2012
6:38 pm

Obviously, each to their own, but this did nothing for me.  It’s gin and juice with sweetener and a hint of licorice.  I think I accidentally made these back in high school when someone had a bottle of gin and we were trying to find some way to make it palatable enough so that we could get enough down to get a buzz.  Granted, I am not a fan of absinthe/pastis (though I love Sazeracs, so go figure) and in general, just don’t care for OJ and liquor based drinks, so the Monkey Gland faced an uphill battle going in, but this really didn’t sell me.  I agree with Darcy at artofdrink, this cocktail may owe it’s long life to the odd name more than the fact that it’s any good.

Monkey Gland Cocktail 10 Mar 2013
7:12 pm

Just for the hell of it, I tried a version of this drink featured in The PDT Cocktail Book, and I actually enjoyed the drink quite a lot.  Jim’s version differs in two very important ways.  First, he rinses with the pastis, rather than incorporate it directly into the drink in such a large amount.  This results in a far more subtle amount of anise flavor.  Second, and very importantly, he uses a teaspoon of pomegranate molasses instead of grenadine.  It’s a very, very different cocktail with those changes - far more unique, complex (though not exactly the deepest of deep drink) and exceptionally well-balanced.  He calls specifically for Beefeater, which I used, and think is a great call.  Pomegranate molasses is strong stuff, and a London Dry is a bigger gin than the softer Plymouth that I tend to use.

Cloister Cocktail 18 Aug 2012
2:37 pm

Just tried this one and loved it.  So often I find drinks with chartreuse to be overpowering in terms of the chartreuse, however, this one blends and balances it perfectly.  Also, I’ve made this with a few different gins and I strongly believe that a good, solid, London Dry is the way to go.  Both Hendricks and New Amsterdam seemed to throw off the drink a bit, and Plymouth (my usual standby) seemed to be overpowered.

Alaska Cocktail 4 Apr 2012
8:39 pm

Robert, just wondering why in this video, you change the ratio in this cocktail from the one you used in your book, The Essential Bartender’s Guide.  I do enjoy chartreuse, but I found the ratio you used in this video to be really unbalanced.  Flavor-wise, you may as well save the gin and just drink a glass of chilled yellow chartreuse.  The 2 oz. of gin to 1/4 oz. of chartreuse you use in your book makes a much better cocktail in my opinion.  It’s far more balanced, has more complexity, and actually allows the gin to come forward both after the initial sip and to develop on the finish.  Dialing back the chartreuse also opens up the fragrance, allowing the bitters to play a part rather than be overwhelmed by the strong aroma of the chartreuse.  Dialing back the chartreuse also makes it easier on your tongue, keeping the drinker from suffering palate fatigue.  I know that cocktails are quite often a “to each their own” type thing, but I am curious why you abandoned your old recipe for this one.

Alaska Cocktail 5 Apr 2012
10:27 am

Robert, thanks for the feedback.  Yeah, the recipe featured here seems in line with what I’ve seen in most places except your book.  I actually think you tweaked it just right in there.  Like I said, the chartreuse heavy version that seems more in line with the older recipes is just really unbalanced and one-dimensional to my taste.  And I also agree, this is the kind of thing for a cocktail geek with a good home bar to play around with - you’re just not going to find many bars with yellow chartreuse.

Mai Tai Cocktail 13 Jul 2015
3:37 pm

I tried this recipe, as well as about a half dozen other Mai Tai recipes, and I just can’t get behind what’s being made in this video - the basic idea is sort’ve right, but the blend of rums is poor and doesn’t produce a smooth, or even particularly palatable result.  The original drink was meant to showcase a high-end (and now defunct) expression of Wray and Nephew rum.  From my experiments, the basic Wray and Nephew doesn’t quite work, and as such, the next best thing is to just use a good, aged, Jamaican rum, such as Appleton 12, or, if you must, the V/X.  Gold rums are a bit of a vague class, if you can even call them that, and the rums used in this video clash really badly, with the Bacardi being a simply awful example of a white rum.  If you want to use a blend for the drink, the best bet is an equal mix of a rhum agricole and Appleton 12, which also just happens to fall in line with Trader Vic’s officially sanctioned version of a Jamaican and Martinique rum.  Rum flavors are quite diverse, and as such, playing too fast and loose with them in a drink can drastically alter the flavor of a drink.  Despite your good intentions, by using a poor (and also historically inaccurate) blend of rums, you’ve actually perpetuated the very butchering of this drink that you mentioned at the outset of the video.  Also Senor Curacao is probably your best bet for the orange liqueur.  I’m sure you’re aware of all this, and I’m also sure you have the money and means to procure better and more accurate ingredients, so I’m curious why you went the route you did in this video…

Whiskey Sour Cocktail 7 Feb 2012
9:14 pm


I’ve really been digging these videos.  One thing I’ve noticed is that juice presser you’ve got.  That thing is sweet!  Looked at Amazon and couldn’t find one.  Do you have any info on it?

Whiskey Sour Cocktail 8 Feb 2012
12:57 pm

Robert, thanks for the response.  I figured it was some sort of antique.  I did check eBay last night but couldn’t find one, however, now that I have name for the juicer, it might make it easier to track down in the future.

21st Century Cocktail 23 Oct 2012
5:58 pm

Drinking one of these now, and really loving it.  Used Don Julio Silver (a terrific tequila and great value)  and Pernod, because I tend to subscribe to the view that if you don’t like absinthe, and will only be using small amounts as rinses, you shouldn’t go expensive.  I’m okay with tequila, but I’m not a fanatic, and I hate licorice/absinthe/pastis, so when I find a drink that manages to make me love the combination of those flavors, I tend to think it is quite well done.

East India House Cocktail 4 Nov 2012
7:00 pm

Just to add on to the mention of the different versions in the book and on here…  I’m drinking the book version now and I think it’s a tad flat.  I’ll make another one with this recipe to compare, but I think the maraschino would really contribute something.  The version in the book is weak, tasting mostly of diluted sweet brandy with a surprisingly subtle amount of pineapple flavor.  There is a hint of sweet citrus, and an oddly dry finish.  I personally think Angostura would be better than orange bitters.  One thing to note though - the small amount of rum is actually a pretty neat addition.  You don’t taste it up front but after a few sips, it slowly emerges in the finish.  After the drink warms a bit, it becomes a bit more noticeable in the sip as well.  My guess is that the rum (I used Appleton V/X) may have resulted in some of the bitterness I noticed in the finish on this one.

La Louisiane Cocktail 7 Apr 2012
8:14 pm

Of course, personal preference comes first, but I prefer this cocktail with 2 oz. rye, as Jim Meehan has it in The PDT Cocktail Book.  The equal parts version is certainly a tasty cocktail, but it is a bit overly sweet for me.  The PDT version is definitely more rye forward, but it also does a good job of successfully balancing out the sweetness of the vermouth and benedictine.  Also, just to chime in, I usually go 1/8 tsp for a dash.

Japanese Cocktail 19 Oct 2012
4:21 pm

My guess is the type of orgeat must make a big difference in this drink.  I used home-made orgeat that I had made using the recipe at Imbibe and didn’t think much of this drink.  Landys VS cognac is my go-to mixer brandy, and I would have rather just had the cognac by itself.  Basically this just tastes like brandy diluted with some nondescript bittering/souring agent.  I didn’t get much in the way of almond flavors or the orange flower water, or really much of anything from the orgeat.  The lemon twist comes through on the nose and a bit in the flavor, but as a whole, it just tastes like brandy with some strange “off notes”.  Just wondering if the orgeat syrup is perhaps stronger and more concentrated.  Also worth noting that using homemade orgeat produces a completely different appearance; basically instead of the pretty drink you made, I ended up with a chilled coupe of cloudy beige.