Cocktails do not live by Spirits Alone

I am enamored with my cocktail shaker, does that make me shallow?  The Alessi is sleek, chic, shiny and fun; it is lightweight and ergonomic with a tight sealing lid allowing for a cool, one handed over the shoulder cocktail shake. The shake technique is an integral part of mixology as explained by Nick Charles in The Thin Man:

  The important thing is the rhythm. Always have rhythm in your shaking. Now a Manhattan you shake to fox-trot time, a Bronx to two-step time, a dry martini you always shake to waltz time.” 

To this day I shake my martinis to the ONE two three, ONE two three rhythm of the waltz. (Here is a link to cocktails scenes from The Thin Man film series including the rhythm explanation: )

Unless you are drinking scotch or bourbon or rye neat (which I have been known to do), a cocktail does not live by spirits alone, so I want to introduce you to some  of our best cocktail hour ingredients

Power and Mohoney Grenadine

Grenadine has been a key cocktail ingredient since the early 1900’s. The pink,high fructose corn syrup masquerading as grenadine  found in local markets is just plain gross. There are many recipes for making your own grenadine which is always the best way to go, but  the Power and Mohoney True Grenadine has a lovely, tangy/sweet pomegranate flavor and a naturally pretty pink color that will  enhance your classic cocktails.                                                

Cocktail: Monkey Gland-  named after Dr Serge Voronoff’s procedure of implanting monkey testicle tissue into human testicles, which  was  very vogue in the late teens and 1920’s, seriously who thought that was a good idea?  This pre- prohibition cocktail is yummy, with layers of flavor, but probably best made at home.     

Woodford Reserve

Bitters have become so universally popular that choices abound. Currently we are carrying Woodford  Aromatic, Orange, Cherry  and Chocolate Bitters. These tasty biters are created by The Bourbon Barrel Foods Company known for crafting artisan, all natural  products which celebrate the history of Kentucky Bourbon.  The eyedropper applicator is easy to use for precise measurements and presentation.

Red Dye number 2 maraschino cherries? No, just no, not for cocktails, not for ice cream sundaes, not for pineapple upside down cake, not ever. The Woodford Reserve Bourbon Cherries have a deep red color  and  elegant long stems, perfect for garnishing and flavoring your cocktail with rich cherry flavor and a hint of bourbon.

Cocktail: Pisco Sour- developed in the 1920’s in Peru or Chile depending on whom you believe,  is essential when I make Peruvian food.  The biters are swirled in the foam rather than incorporated in the shaker for a pretty, nose tickling presentation.

Yuzu Juice

The Yuzu is a Japanese citrus fruit that looks like a bumpy, yellow tangerine.   The flavor is a combination of lemon, lime and  grapefruit with a hint of orange. It has a lovely aroma and a splash of sweetness.  I use it in cocktails that call for lemon or lime juice for a surprising tang.

 Cocktail:  Aviation- another pre-prohibition classic. Purists beware, I find the Yuzu blends with the delicate Crème de Violette and Maraschino liqueur better than lemon juice. This is a very pretty light blue cocktail with layers of flavor, a Bourbon Barrel Cherry is the perfect garnish.    (Top image)

Italian Volcano

Italian Volcano is organic 100% Blood Orange juice from the Mt. Etna area in Italy. It has a distinct, tangy flavor  somewhere between orange juice and lemon juice that works well in many cocktails.   It does not have the lovely bright red color of fresh blood orange juice which is seasonal,  but is is only a pantry away when I need it.

Cocktail:  The Bronx-   named after the Bronx Zoo not the New York Borough, it was one of the most popular drinks in the 1930’s when oranges were a delicacy. Using the Volcano adds a touch of tartness.  I follow Mr. Charles advice in all things cocktail and use the two-step rhythm when shaking.

A note on classic cocktails

Please notice  how small Mr. Charles’ cocktails are in the Thin Man film clips.  Classic cocktails in the 1930’s and 40’s were served in small cocktail glasses, this ensured the cocktail stayed cold in stem ware and did not turn into an ice melting mess in glassware.  We have super sized our cocktails along with everything else.

Cocktail hour should be a time for a delicious cocktail and some equally yummy finger food.  My trick to stay sober enough to prepare a nice dinner, is to put all the ingredients away before I commence cocktail shaking, otherwise it is too easy to say “yum, let’s have another!” 



Monkey Gland

1.5 oz gin
1.5 oz fresh orange juice
.25 oz grenadine
Wash of absinthe
orange twist

Swirl a dash of absinthe in a chilled coupe or martini glass until fully coated and discard the excess. Add the gin, orange juice and grenadine to a cocktail shaker filled with ice, shake until well chilled. Strain into prepared glass and garnish with an orange twist. This is much easier than calling out “One Monkey Gland please” to a bartender.

Pisco Sour

2 oz Pisco
1 oz fresh squeezed lime juice
.75 oz simple syrup
.75 oz of organic, pasteurized egg whites
3-4 drops of aromatic bitters

Place all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously before adding the ice, this gets the egg whites nice and frothy. Add ice and shake until well chilled, strain into a glass and place 3-4 drops of bitters in the foam on top (this is when you will be very happy your bitters have an eye dropper).


2 oz gin
.5 oz Luxardo
.25 oz Crème de violette
1 oz Yuzu juice
1 Bourbon Barrel cherry (really nothing else will do)

Add all ingredients to cocktail shaker filled with ice, shake until well chilled, strain into Martini glass and garnish with a cherry. The lovely blue color the Aviation was named for  is hard to achieve without a little cheating. I pour   heavy on the Yuzu juice and use an eyedropper to add a teeny tiny bit of blue curaçao for color. I hate the taste of the stuff, but it sure is pretty.


1.5 oz gin
.75 oz dry vermouth
.75 oz sweet vermouth
1 oz Volcano blood orange juice
orange twist and cherry for garnish

Add all ingredients to cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake to a leisurely one- two rhythm until well chilled, strain into a coupe and garnish with a cherry and an orange twist.