The Norman Conquest: from England to San Diego

Last year I visited the American Bar at the Savoy Hotel in London and tried one of Erik Lorincz‘s creations, the Norman Conquest. It was similar to a Manhattan with a mix of bourbon and calvados as the base spirit. I love calvados so the drink captured my interest.

At the American Bar they used Woodford Reserve bourbon and Martini Rosso vermouth; at home I recreated the cocktail with Buffalo Trace and Dolin rouge for a more assertive mix. My calvados is Daron.

Then I remembered that I had tried a similar Manhattan variation with apple brandy in the past, Sam Ross’ Grandfather. He calls for applejack but I used calvados. I made them side-by-side for comparison purposes. The differences are minor – the simple syrup and orange twist in Erik Lorincz’s version, the Peychaud’s bitters in Sam Ross’ version, calvados vs. applejack, rocks vs. up. 10661170865_4c1359e330_z.jpg Continue reading

Sweet and vicious

Next week will be the official release of New York City bar Death & Co‘s long awaited cocktail book. Bar founder David Kaplan managed to get an impressive $250,000 advance  for the book, part of which he redistributed to his employees.

The bar opened in 2007 with Phil Ward of Pegu Club as head bartender, joined behind the bar by Brian Miller and Joaquin Simó. Phil Ward has a special connection to San Diego; he trained the bartending staff at Craft & Commerce and helped design its cocktail menu which includes several punch options, including his phenomenal Mother’s Ruin Punch.


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London adventures: from Satan’s Whiskers to the Nightjar

After a great dinner at the Corner Room in Bethnal Green, I decided to check out nearby bar Satan’s Whiskers which had just opened a few months back. The bar, indicated by a red neon sign, had the expected decor of hipster cocktail lounges with a tasteful mix of brick, reclaimed items, light bulbs with visible filaments, a selection of taxidermied and accessorized animals, a unicorn skeleton, and an ironic old school hip hop soundtrack.

Satan's Whiskers

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Spring Sazerac and Summertime Manhattan

The Sazerac and Manhattan are classics that I enjoy all year long. But sometimes I look for variations with a slightly lighter feel to accompany the change of seasons.

Sam Ross’ Cobble Hill is a Manhattan with dry vermouth where half of the vermouth is replaced with Montenegro, an amaro. Cucumber is muddled into the drink. With dry vermouth and cucumber, the cocktail feels light and fresh which is unusual for a rye-based cocktail. The result still has the richness and complexity of a Manhattan/Brooklyn variation, the Montenegro contributing is vanilla notes and bitter finish.

I’ve tried Bulleit and High West Double Rye! in this drink and prefer the version with the latter. Its green and almost floral aromas go particularly well with the Montenegro.


Cobble Hill (Sam Ross) with High west double rye, Dolin dry vermouth, amaro Montenegro, muddled cucumber

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