Chuck Burns

since February 2010


Fancy Whiskey Cocktail 18 Mar 2011
10:42 pm

Bailey, I looked long and hard for the right Martini glasses. The local restaurant supply is willing to sell me the Libbey glasses at restaurant prices as long as I buy a full case of 36. In searching for glasses I found that a problem was in how the glasses were described. I had bought the Lenox Tuscany 6 ounce glass but when they were delivered I found that 6 oz was lost in the class and that they actually held 11 oz! The glass didn’t look right with less than 8 oz in it!

I have a lot of 4 oz Martini glasses and large ones in the 10-11 oz range that we bought before we know better. What cocktail do you serve, that doesn’t look lost, in 10 plus ounce glass?

I recently found a glass at Amazon that is great. It is the Bornioli Rocco Ypsilon Martini Glass. It is described as 6 oz but in reality it is an 8 oz glass. In reality it is perfect for a 4 1/2 to 5 oz cocktail with the drink about 1/2 to 5/8” below the rim. This means it can be delivered without spilling and people at your cocktail party can walk around with no worries. The way the stem flows into thebase is elegant and the glasses look great. Not inexpensive at 6 for 44 but not cheap either; especially for Italian crystal. Here is the link to the glasses:

Robert, I’m going to give this cocktail a try. It seems very much like an old school non-muddled Old Fashioned.

Fancy Whiskey Cocktail 20 Mar 2011
6:20 pm

Bailey, the more I use the Bormioli Rocco Martini glasses the more I like them. They also offer the same glass in 4.5 oz I’m thinking of retiring the dozen generic 4 oz glasses I have and buying the BR. I really like the elegant profile.

As to shakers. I long ago retired my three piece shaker. Once you get used to a good Boston Shaker you’ll wonder why people still use the three piece. I bought this set from get this, a store in Boston called the Boston Shaker:
I bought two and have used the dickens out of them booth and can see no reason to spend more. Amazon has sets from WMF and others that approach or exceed 50.00. I really don’t see the need to spend a dime more than the 14.50 that BS charges for the glass and mixing tin. The tin seals well and the mixing glass is very heavy duty. I sure don’t want a glass with any marking or recipes on it. There is something classy about using a Boston Shaker.

As an aside I like to use a nice mixing glass for stirred drinks. I picked up two of these Yarai glasses from Cocktail Kingdom: .
I saw them in use at Colt and Gray in Denver and had to have a couple. The Oxo Hawthorne Strainer fits perfectly in these glasses. I like the additional width for drinks that need to be stirred; it is much easier to stir well in these than a mixing glass like you use with the Boston Shaker.

Brandy Alexander Cocktail 18 Mar 2011
10:21 pm

Well, to return the discussion to the drink in question - my wife and I love the Brandy Alexander. My twist on it is a little different. We consider it a “dessert drink” so go a bit heavy on the cream. I use 1 1/2 oz of Brandy, 1 1/2 of Marie Brizzard Brown Cacao and 2 1/4 oz of heavy whipping cream. Grate some fresh nutmeg on it and is is fantastic.

I think the secret is the Marie Brizzard Brown Cacao. I went away from using the less expensive cacaos. I have found that the MB allows you to use a modestly priced brandy and come up with a great drink. In addition to modest brandy’s I have tried espensive brandy’s and some very nice cognacs and find virtually no improvement in taste as long as the I use MB Brown Cacao.

Due to the use of a heay whipping cream it has a great mouth feel. Shaking a bit longer than necessary to cool and dilute helps too. If a person wanted a lighter drink you could cut the cream to 1 or 1 1/2 oz or use regular cream; or do both. We have done both and all are good.

After getting this drink dialed in our Bailey’s consumption when way down!

As to “jiggering” I believe in it. It is important to me to be able to exactly duplicate a drink. Some mixers and liqueurs are intense and a differnce of less than an eight of an ounce can be important. I am working on a modified Cosmo using Leopold Brothers Cranberry Liqueur; it’s flavor of cranberry is so intense that measurements must be exact. An eight of an ounce more or less of vodka won’t matter; with the Leopolds or St Germaine it will.

Rye Old Fashioned Cocktail 30 Nov 2010
3:37 pm

This is a drink you probably have to make at home. One of my favorite drinks is a Rye Manhatten so every time I go into a bar I ask if they have any Rye Whiskey. 80% of the time I’m told no.

When I first started making Old Fashions I was fascinated with muddling. I have moved away from that and know prefer Robert’s recipe. I also prefer using simple syrup instead of a sugar cube as does Lawrence.

For a old Fashioned horror story at a bar: at a local high end hotel I ordered an Old Fashioned. When it was served it was the color of a weak Cosmo. In inquired of the cocktail waitress what in the dickens was in the concoction. The bartender had put in two barspoons of the syrup from the jar of phony maraschino cherries; in addition to muddling a cherry! She did not use any bitters and had topped it off with soda water. It was perhaps the worst drink I have ever been served.

I am just about reduced to ordering beer at most bars. Are there any bartenders out there that take any pride in their work? I think many exhaust their repertoire at Jack and Coke.

Rye Old Fashioned Cocktail 4 Dec 2010
3:07 pm

Lawrence, I’ve never worked as a bartender - but in everything I do I try to become very proficient. I can’t you how may times I’ve had people over and made them a proper Martini, Old Fashioned (rye or bourbon), Manhatten, Margarita or Cosmo and seen them light up. It’s not uncomon to hear “that’s the best cocktail I’ve ever had”. If a rank amatuer can do it why not those who make their living doing it? Using quality ingredients, a good recipe, measuring so the proportions are right, stirring or shaking to get the proper cooling and dilution are not that hard.

My wife and I were at Colt and Gray in Denver recently and the bartenders were wonderful. We each had four drinks and they were prepared carefully and with top shelf ingredients. How many bars have Carpano Antica Formula Vermouth to use in a Manhatten? They had a very good selection of bitters - with some home made. They used fresh fruit and not nasty syrups. The two bartenders got an oustanding tip!

Rye Old Fashioned Cocktail 4 Dec 2010
5:28 pm

No apology needed - I knew you were speaking generally. I guess my point is that those of us who are “in to it” and do it at home for pleasure find a way to do it right and that it simply amazes me that those who do it to earn a living (and for whom tips make a huge difference) take less interest in the craft than we do.

Is it that they think we won’t pay for a decent cocktail so they only stock generic stuff? There is not a bar in town that has anything better than NP or M&R Vermouth and most have something cheap like the Stock brand. But I have Dolin, Vya and Carpano Antica at home. I have not found a bar in town that has any Rye; but I have Whistle Pig, Thomas Handy, Van Vinkle Family Reserve, Sazerac 18, Baby Saz, WT, Rittenhouse and several others. Most bars in town don’t even have one bottle of bitters yet amatuer me has five different bitters.

I guess I just find it frustrating that I can’t go out and order a quality Old Fashioned or Manhatten well crafted and made with top drawers incredients.

Rye Old Fashioned Cocktail 7 Dec 2010
6:42 am

Robert, I find a lot of variability in the willingness of bartenders to “take instruction” from a customer. I certainly agree that it should only be done during slow times and needs to be handled delicately; after all he is the pro behind the stick. I recently had to spend a week in Dallas and stayed at a high end hotel. I succeeded in teaching one of the bartenders how to make a proper Manhatten (bourbon unfortunately as they had no rye - and after a search he found a bottle of biters) but the other was hopeless. I ordered beer from the hopeless one. Guess who got the better tip?

To defend bartenders, of whom I tend to be critical, I have come across a number who would have liked to do a better job but a hampered by management. I was at the Cruise Room in Denver which is a prominent known bar, we sat at the bar and chatted with the bartender. He had no absinthe to use in the Sazerac I ordered and had to substitue Sambuca, he had only one Rye (generic), and he had nothing but generic well vermouth so a high quality Manhatten or Martini was out of the question. He said he would like to have the things I mentioned by corporate management wouldn’t let him. Does anybody out there understand the dramatic effect a quality vermouth like Dolin, Vya, or Carpano Antica can have on a cocktail?

FWIW Wild Turkey Rye is excellent at it’s price point but try using Baby Saz or Sazerac 18 in an Old Fashioned or Manhatten - outstanding.

Rye Old Fashioned Cocktail 8 Dec 2010
6:10 am

Of course if your ideal Old Fashioned had a strong orange taste you could experiment with reducing, or eliminating the simple syrup, and replacing it with a like amount of Grand Marnier or Marie Brizzard Grand Orange. I don’t think I’d try it with a cheap generic TripleSec.

FWIW I really like the Marie Brizzard products. We’ve been making Brandy Alexanders on some of these winter nights and the MB Brown Cacao makes a huge difference relative to using the cheap Dark Creme de Cacoa’s.

Champagne Flamingo 5 Dec 2010
9:07 pm

I too would love to see the deleted portion of the episode that dealt with books. Though perhaps, given the recently available reprints, a new episode on nothing but books would be appropriate.