New Album Reviews

 Tommy Sands, Dream With Me Tommy Sands, Dream With Me
– Who knew? Created as Capitol Records’ answer to Elvis Presley, this former child-hillbilly-singer grew on up to become second to only the King in terms of popularity for a short while. This double album containing both Tommy’s Dream With Me and his Thinking Of You is very good. Born in Chicago but raised by mom in Shreveport, LA, one would expect to hear at least a bit of his former twang sneak through on his later vocals, but you don’t. Tommy Sands voice is pure honey on all twenty-three tracks presented here. Both albums were recorded after his mid-to-late 50’s dip into a country-esque ‘ rock ‘n roll pool. These are cocktail albums, no doubt about it. I believe that Tommy was attempting to reinvent himself into a more night-clubby, sophisticated package and he very much succeeds here. This is soft, sentimental singing best listened to on rainy evenings with more intimate company. Not as schmaltzy as early Mathis or Debbie Reynolds, Tommy Sands has a true smoky lounge sensibility that deserves a spot on your turntable. He was married for a short while to Nancy Sinatra and rumor has it that her Father took it very personally when they divorced and made it a point to get Tommy black-balled in the industry. Just a rumor, mind you, but Tommy went nowhere fast after the split, which blows for us. I for one, would love a thick stack of Tommy Sands’ records to play during my cocktail hour. No finger-snappers on this disk, just heavy-orchestrated by Nelson Riddle, beautifully sung songs which will so take you back. Songs include Far Away Places, Dream, Fools Rush In, and more.

 Tex Beneke and His Orchestra, 'S Wonderful, Rare Recordings of the 1950's Tex Beneke and His Orchestra, ‘S Wonderful, Rare Recordings of the 1950’s – I love Tex Beneke’s voice on Glenn Millar albums. I know, I know, he blew a mean sax, but even more so, I adore his huckleberry way with a vocal. He’s a darn time-machine when you hear him sing on Chattanooga Choo-Choo so much that he easily transfers my mind-s eye to a 40’s train station and how it must have been. Tex sang with an "awww-shucks’ demeanor that really warms the heart. He was also a masterful bandleader and saxophonist. With this collection, you get all three hats. With Twenty-Seven Tracks, you really get your money’s worth with this disk. Eleven Beneke’ vocals are included, plus plenty of Big-Band stylized arrangements & sax. Vocalists Ray Eberle, Bill Raymond & Betsy Gay round out the singing on a few other tunes. If you like Big-Band and Glenn Millar albums, and are interested in seeing where Tex "went with it" before diving more into production. This is a wonderful musical trip. Songs include Blue Moon, You Blew Out The Flame, Danny’s Hideaway, and more.

Steve and Eydie, CozySteve and Eydie, Cozy – They have their place, no doubt about it. On their solo albums, both Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme more than hold their own in terms of semi-sophisticated, cocktail party background … but when famously teamed-up, the couple often caught lightening in a bottle as this album clearly demonstrates. Cocktail music collectors should be more than reminded of their place with Cozy. This double album CD combines both their Cozy and Two on the Aisle records and, for me, it’s plenty of Steve & Eydie for a night’s entertainment. With this one you get both a nice, snappy collection of American Songbook tunes plus the best of Broadway showstoppers from the late 50’s, early 60’s era. They play off of each other throughout, capturing that free and easy style that a husband & wife team, with a few years under their belts only can. Eydie Gorme had a beautiful, up-beat voice that perfectly teams with the choice in material. Steve Lawrence has the perfect pop-pipes that accented her modern mood perfectly. Fun!. Songs include Make Someone Happy, A Fine Romance, and A Lot Of Livin’ To Do.

Connie Francis, Do The TwistConnie Francis, Do The Twist – Connie’s something of an odd duck, in my opinion. She almost sells a song too strongly for me, yet she does have her place and, at one time, was a huge recording star with tons of fans and loads of radio play. This is a 1962 collection of dance songs intentionally recorded to get young adults off the sofa, away from the soda-pop and canapés and onto the living room floor for some swinging. She gives 110% with this try and while riding a wave of popularity at the time, almost tries to prove herself all over again with her rock ‘n roll interpretations. You’ll giggle at the over-the-top nostalgia of it all, but you’ll definitely have some fun too. Connie can more than carry a tune and this wacky collection will turn your patio cocktail gathering into quite an experience. With thirty diddies on this one, your guests will have more than enough time to digest the vibe and grow to "get it". I blast my copy just to freak out the neighbors. Songs include Telephone Lover, Teach Me How To Twist, & the classic Hey Ring-A-Ding and more.

Al Martino, Makin' Whoopee!Al Martino, Makin’ Whoopee! – And he does just that on this collection of Al’s early 20th Century Fox recordings. Al 1950’s gets down on this one and you’ll be right there with him when you put this one on your hi-fi. Like slow love itself, Al Martino wines, dines then takes us up to his 16th floor apartment with his song-bird attention to detail and nuance. His voice is intentional, Italian and cool as blue smoke on this ode to late nights out on the town. You have to buy it at Collectors Choice Music but the albums more than worth a stroll on over. A shank-o-the-evening record if ever there was one, I’ll put Al Martino on when the coffee & liqueurs are broken out and you’re an hour away from looking at your watch a lot. Songs include I Can’t Get You Out Of My Heart, That Old Feeling, and It Had To Be You.

How to Create the Perfect Home Bar

I’m seeing them everywhere.  Just this summer, I found a tiki-bar sitting on a curb in front of a neighborhood house being renovated. I threw her in the back of the Volvo, refinished the top, picked up some whicker barstools at a value-village, and now I have a summer bar-port.

I’ve had neighbors ask me if I want the bar in their cellar, which has been storing old X-mas ornaments for the past few decades. I see them at garage and estate sales, on craigslist and in junk shops. If you’re looking for a home bar, put the drink down and get out there.

If you hit an estate sale and see a bar you like, come back on Sunday when everything’s half price. Home bars are a hard sell and chances are you’ll be lugging that baby back to your home or apartment for under $30. My neighbor, this past Sunday, picked up a hardwood, 6 foot beauty for $12.50. Cleaned and polished, this bar looks amazing.

The hard, cold facts are…not every homeowner wants one. Not every seller wants to deal with the old one in the basement. Forty years ago, 90% of new homes had a bar. Do the math and get out there.

What You Really Need For Your Starter Bar

Just kicking off? Time to move the booze from the cabinet over the stove to a designated drinking area? Here’s what Mr. Booze feels you’ll absolutely need when you take the training wheels off and add that home bar. Storage will be a problem when it comes to barware and booze. If you buy a bar, make certain it has shelving behind for storage. You can even buy those cool little ceiling racks to hold your stemware. A nice set of shelves close by or behind your bar never hurts.  Add the following:

6-10 Cocktail or Martini glasses – Don’t go for the giant 8+ ounce glasses…they just get you and your guests plastered. Look for the older 4 – 6 ounce glasses. Most drinks are only 3 – 5 ounces anyway.
5 Old-Fashioned glasses or Double Old-Fashioned – Many drinks call for ice, or sometimes you or a guest will just want a whiskey on the rocks. Store these upside down to prevent dust from settling inside.
6-10 Hi-Ball (tall) glasses – You’ll find tons of drinks on our site that call for tall, rocks glasses. Tiki drinks, punches, bucks, etc… These are usually sweet, highly drinkable cocktails that everyone will want, so stock up.
An Ice Bucket – What are you gonna do? Open the freezer every time someone wants a drink? Find a fun one with a handle, you never know when the party’s gonna move outdoors. I also keep a small cooler behind my bar, filled with ice to refill the ice bucket.  Remember…cold is key.
Shaker – You just have to have one. Don’t go expensive on your first. Just make sure she has a tight seal and can hold lots of fluid. I also would suggest a tiny, 1 or 2 drink one if it’s just going to be you or two.
Glass Pitcher – Small and cheap works. You’ll need one for Martinis and any other drink you don’t want to pour cloudy. Find one that includes a glass stirrer.
Little Cutting Board – Doesn’t need to be more that 6 inches across. You don’t want to score your new bar or get it all sticky while you’re cutting oranges, do you?
Basic Set of Bar Tools – I see these all the time at Target and for well under $20. Bar knife, muddler, wine/bottle opener, strainer, stirrer, etc… When you have a set, you’ll use them.

On to the Booze

Vodka – 1 bottle for starters; it really doesn’t have a strong flavor so don’t blow the bank. Not too many drinks here call for it.
Gin – Have 2 bottles; a good one with a strong juniper/flowery taste (Bombay Sapphire or Damrak comes to mind) and a basic bottle for mixing (Beefeaters or Bombay are great). Gin was extremely popular when many of these old timers’ drinks were created.
Bourbon – 1 big bottle; I love bourbon but remember, you’re going to be mixing so don’t go crazy on the expensive, small batch brands. I buy the 1.75 liter of Early Times. It’s a great whiskey that really mixes well. If you have to go more upscale, Knob Creek is amazing.
Scotch – 1 bottle.
Vermouth – You’ll need a bottle of Red (sweet/Italian) and White (Dry/French). Manhattans and Martinis are very popular.
Laird’s Apple Jack – A good fifth of the recipes here call for it. You can really pour some interesting drinks with this.
Brandy – E & J is fine and quite affordable.
Rum – 2 bottles; to start, you’ll need a bottle of light and a bottle of dark. If it’s summertime, you might want to get an additional bottle. I don’t know about you, but I drink the hell out of it on hot evenings. Summer punches and tropical drinks all call for it.
Cointreau/Grand Marnier/Curacao – So many cocktails call for an orange flavored splash, you’ll need this.
Simple Syrup, Bitters, Roses Lime and Grenadine, Lime Juice, Lemon Juice, Olives and Maraschino Cherries – Keep ‘em handy in your fridge. If you’re making cocktails, you’ll need ‘em.

This should get you started. Remember to peruse the papers for good deals on Spirits and buy when on sale. Have fun setting your bar up. People should want a drink when they see it. As you get up to speed and master the art of the confident pour, I will pull out the stops and follow up with a 201 class. There’s a lot of stuff you’ll need if and when you want to kick it up a notch. Think about all the money you’re ultimately saving by not going out to bars all the time and paying $10 for a drink. This bar will pay for itself eventually. “Bring a Bottle” parties are also wonderful ways to restock and add.

Ready for more? Click here to read part 2 of How to Create the Perfect Home Bar

Mr. Booze Holiday Cocktails 2013

131134It wouldn’t be the holidays without at least one “red-nosed” evening devoted to festive cocktails, indulgent nosh, and bad sweaters.  We present our annual picks for interesting, flavorful and festive cocktails for you to enjoy, or at the very least make the relatives’ visit a little less intrusive.   It’s the season to break out the good barware and themed glasses, buy a bag or two of ice and mixers at the market, open the spice cabinet, and stock up on a few bottles of the good stuff.   Even if it’s just the family and I gathered ’round the tube watching Jimmy Stewart run down a snowy street, a festive cocktail makes an evening just a bit more celebrated  than say that leftover Rolling Rock you found rattling around the hydrator.

* Side-note, where I normally try to keep the recipes presented on this site traditional and old-school, I usually throw that rule out when it comes to holiday cocktails.  I believe I’ve presented the majority of the classics from bygone eras, so I’m happily forced to venture into the land of the modern or modern variations with our picks presented here.  Go back through our earlier linked-lists if you desire something from decades past.

Candy Cane Lane

Our second holiday, candy-cane themed cocktail (see Candy-Cane Martini), this pick is perfectly seasonal and lives up to the hype of the holidays.  It’s a pretty one, and served in festive glassware maybe on a jazzed up and Christmassy bar top, should set the mood perfectly.  You just need a few available ingredients so she shouldn’t be too difficult to shop for.  This would be a hard one to make for a large party, but if you’re having just a few friends over, a joyful statement can be made.
Here we go –
  •  2  1/2 oz of a good vodka
  • 1 oz white creme de menthe
  • 1/2 oz peppermint schnapps
  • 1 oz cream
  • grenadine
Begin by swirling just a small splash of grenadine on the bottom and sides of a chilled martini glass. Shake the other ingredients with cracked ice in a shaker till creamy and well mixed.  Strain cocktail into the martini class and garnish with crumbled candy-cane or hook a small one over the rim.

Hot Buttered Rye

Just a quick heads-up, this one takes a little while to build, and you’ll need a bit of prep time but it’s more than worth it.  When you think about it, in preparing for a holiday party, you’re already cleaning and decorating ahead of time so why shouldn’t a beautiful cocktail be considered as part of the set-up?  More than worth it if you just put this drink’s prep on your party to-do list ahead of time.  The cocktail has a creamy, maple component that you can do the morning of your party or even the day before.  The combination of a whipped maple topping when paired with the strong peppery, gingery rye should spell out that you’re having a Christmas party just as much as the lit tree in the corner.  A couple logs on the fire and one of our more mellow Christmas album picks and brother … you’ll be in heaven.
Here we go –
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup rye
  • 6 tablespoons hot, hot water
  • 1/2 oz ginger liqueur
The day or morning before you plan on having your party, whip the heavy cream and maple syrup together, cover and set aside in fridge.  When it’s time to make the drink, pour rye, hot water and ginger liqueur into a festive, heat-proof cup or mug.  Dollop the maple-whipped cream on top then dust with ground nutmeg.  Wonderful, I tells ya!

Spicy Ginger Man

Found this one on the fun singlemindedwomen.com site and after trying it, immediately added it to my holiday arsenal.  I love ginger beer and have to try any cocktail that includes the spicy, peppery mixer.  What I like about this one is that the ginger beer (I use the ultra-spicy Goya brand) cuts the sweetness of the drink perfectly.  You still have a sweet, celebratory drink on your hand, but not one your guests will leave on a counter somewhere after getting whammed with too much sweet.  The rocks also help ground the drink.  This would be a very good drink to have before a hearty holiday dinner.
Here we go –
  • 1 oz vanilla vodka
  • 1 oz hazelnut liqueur (I use the affordable DeKuyper brand)
  • 1/2 oz butterscotch schnapps
  • ginger beer to fill
Combine all ingredients except ginger beer in a shaker with ice.  Strain everything into a highball glass filled with ice and fill with ginger beer.   Garnish with a cinnamon stick.

Santa’s Little Helper Punch

Borrowed from this month’s Imbibe magazine and created by Chicago bartender, Stephen Cole, I decided to include this punch this year because … well, I love a good Christmas punch, and want to include a delicious one every year.   Sometimes, you have a full-blown holiday party on your hands and let’s face it, standing in the kitchen or behind the basement bar all night is a drag.   Wouldn’t you rather be walking the rooms with a beautiful bunch of mistletoe in your mitt or slipping on the padded red suit for some laughs?  When you make a punch beforehand, you free up your time for other festivities.  This one couldn’t be any more holiday themed in terms of flavor. Cinnamon and clove!  What more could you ask for in terms of Christmas taste and smell?  You can make this punch in your crock pot or put it on a simmer in a large pot on the stove.  Of course, use caution.   Keep things on low and make sure you have a responsible person ladling out the gold.
Here we go –
  • 1 bottle rye (I used Old Overholt, why break the bank and this Rye’s great)
  • 1 bottle sweet vermouth
  • 1 gallon unsweetened apple cider
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 10 dashes Angostura bitters
(You can half this recipe if you want to.  I did yet didn’t cut the cloves or cinnamon stick components and it turned out fine).   Combine all ingredients in your crockpot, set on low, or in a large pot on the stove and set on low an hour before your bash.   Ladle into heat resistant mugs and garnish with an orange peel.

Pear & Sparkling Cider Cocktail

When I found this one, I couldn’t find an attached name.  I apologize and won’t hold it against you if you give it your own little moniker.  This one calls for pear puree.   I used the Looza brand, available in most grocery stores, and it worked fine.   Here’s another very easy to mix up holiday drink that would be fine for a Christmas brunch or potluck.   I like this one because the earthy pear sweetness pairs nicely with the smokiness of the bourbon.   Highly drinkable.
Here we go –
  • 2 cups chilled pear nectar
  • 2 cups chilled sparkling apple cider
  • 2 cups chilled seltzer water
  • 5 oz bourbon
  • 1 pear
Combine liquid ingredients in a pitcher with a couple big pieces of cracked ice and stir. Pour cold cocktail into old-fashioned glasses and float a nice piece of ice in each.   Garnish with a long slice of pear.
Well, there you have it; our new additions to, what is turning out to be, a very workable and delicious list of Mr. Booze-tested Holiday Cocktails.   If nothing here strikes your fancy, please give our past picks a once-over.   I know you’ll find at least a couple drinks that will be perfect for your holiday celebration.
Happy Holidays!
Browser recipes from previous year’s:

Mr. Booze’s 2014 Holiday Bar Gift Picks!

Man, did 2014 ever fly by! Here we are again offering up ten solid suggestions as gifts for your favorite elbow-bender come the holidays. As in past years, I’m trying to stay and stray just a bit left off the beaten path. I’m presenting to you a list of the more whimsical, yet still practical barware for use and display on a home bar. Buy ’em; wrap ’em; try and be there when he or she opens up the package, hopefully after 5pm. And remember to stick around to make sure everything “works.” Here we go –

FF1101) The Mayan Skull Of Doom Shot Glass – Big enough for two fat fingers of your favorite shot, this odd, yet eye-grabbing, hand-blown shot glass will definitely raise eyebrows as you slide it on over. A glowing skull borosilicate glass (think Corningware durability) makes a statement, even if it just sits there as a prop. For those of you that lean towards the gothic, what’s not to like? From CreationsAndCollections.com . $13. –

SG0042) Remake It Bottle Lamp – If you’re a beer drinker and quaff the harder to get brews with the cool labels, have I got a pick for you. This bar lamp will softly light an end of your home bar with twelve of your clean and empty craft beer bottles. Imagine twelve unique Christmas beers or twelve different Pumpkin Ales or Stouts glowing on a pub table. If you’re like me, you can’t recall what the heck beer you drank last weekend, but you know it was good. Here’s a way to remember. Once again, available from CreationsAndCollections.com. $50 –

Screen Shot 2013-11-15 at 11.55.12 AM3) Wood Martini Glasses – Black walnut martini glasses! What the heck? I asked that question until I did a little research and discovered that the wood is a gangbuster insulator and will keep a drink cold longer than a warm hand-cradled glass one. Anything tropical and served straight up would be perfect for these containers (can I even say “glasses”?). They have that 70’s high-end fern bar look that might really work in a 50’s or 60’s bar build-in. Colorado furniture and architectural designer David Rasmussen incorporates a Danish quality in this sleek and highly functional creation. Not for everybody, but I think they’re cool. $100 for a pair – From Uncommongoods.com

Screen Shot 2013-11-15 at 11.58.11 AM4) Sail Away Glass Decanter Globe – A mouthful of a name, but boy is it a handsome decanter. All glass, what you have here is a glass globe etched outside decanter containing room enough inside for 20 ounces of your favorite whiskey and a beautiful glass ship sculpture set inside a smaller globe. Busy? Yes, but it also has a very old-school charm about it. I have a couple decanters on my basement bars and they really are a product designated specifically to make a statement in house. There was a time when a handsome decanter was a must-own in a swinging pad or on a bachelor’s wet bar. I don’t see a lot of new entries into this barware category and when I do, they’re snapped up quickly. This one is one of the better I’ve seen. From Homewetbar.com at $70. –

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA5) Home Bar Building Plans – Had to put this one up here; it’s a long time coming. Shame on me for sometimes assuming that our readers already have one. I know I didn’t when I had my first pad. A home bar, as you know by being here, is just so much damn fun to have. A place where friends gather, where you store your booze and glasses, a top that you can display your cocktail-themed treasure or that retro-radio you play tunes out of. The winter that follows the holidays might very well be the perfect time for this sort of indoor, home project. This guide has it all. First off, it’s a good looking home-bar that’s tweak able in terms of how you’d like to finish it. There’s an easy to follow step-by-step guide with pictures for everyone. Extremely user friendly the person you gift this to should have their bar up and running in no time. You just have to be a drinker, not a carpenter with this one. From Homewetbar.com, $18. –

71efeX7XkZL._SL1425_6) Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts DVD Boxed Set – I can’t find it on Blu Ray, but I did look around and the Amazon price on DVD seems to be the cheapest copy out there. What can I say about Dean Martin that I haven’t said dozens of times here at Mr. Booze? He was one of a kind, not another entertainer like him before nor ever again. You’ll be getting twelve complete roasts with this boxed set, each and every one of them jewels. From 1973 to 1984, these roasts appeared on NBC’s Thursday night line-up during the height of in-house imbibing. Who over 40 can’t remember their dad slapping his knee in his barcalounger, hi-ball in hand, chuckling at the cast of Hollywood characters Dean Martin assembled for an evening of zingers and one-liners aimed at the funny fop who happened to be sitting in the tables center chair. Imagine yourself nestled in the den on a snowy winter night, fireplace aglow, maybe with a few likeminded pals, sipping an Old Fashioned to one or two of these Roasts on a Friday night. Pre-PC, Dean Martin and his compadres (Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., John Wayne, Lucille Ball, Phyllis Diller, Orson Welles, etc…) gathered for one hell of a viewing experience. A must-own if you like it old-school around your home bar. $43 & change on Amazon.

Screen Shot 2013-11-15 at 12.00.48 PM7) Navy Grog Ice Cone Kit – Our pal here at Mr. Booze, Tiki-Guru Beachbum Berry, created this cone-cube maker specifically to plop in a glass of his recipe for Navy Grog. That being said, the 5 & 1/2 inch cone-cube will chill down any tropical concoction served in a standard rocks glass. Comes with the stainless steel mold and accompanying rod, you’ll be able to freeze a couple the day before a gathering and have the perfect cone of ice that traditionally was added to a grog or tiki drink. Perfect stocking stuffer for your friend with the Hawaiian shirt. $18 at CocktailKingdom.com

BPM026cover_tBPM026cover_tBPM026cover_tBPM026cover_t8) A Subscription to Bachelor Pad Magazine – Risqué’? .. Yes indeedy … but not too. This is nothing more than a modern throw-back for the guy with a strong appreciation of an earlier time. No nudity, I promise, but plenty of scantily clad, 50’s retro-era pin-up style beauties posing between retro-articles on jazz, detective and hard-boiled fiction, cocktails, music and interviews with the entertainers carrying on the 50’s tradition of barbershop magazines. Tongue-in-cheek with every page, one has to have a sense of humor and a not-easily-offended temperament to enjoy it. Mr. Booze reads it and feels, in many ways, the 4 times a year small size mag. is very much akin to what we try and do here … just with girlie pics. I don’t think I’ve even read a curse word in the magazine. Still, one should not keep this book out where the kids or those easily offended might see it. Please, take a long look at the site before you gift this one. – $24 for four issues, shipping included.

178126-mixing-glass-strainer-B49) Yarai Seamless Cocktail Mixing Glass With Strainer – I try and put a cool and functional shaker on my picks list every year, but this season I’m switching things up a little and am going with a strong, industry friendly mixing glass. As cocktail people know, you can’t shake everything. Shaking a Manhattan, Martini, or other non-juice drink will bruise your ingredients and infuse cloudiness in what should be a crystal clear experience. Some cracked ice, a stainless steel stirrer, a good strainer and a pour spout are what you need for more than a few classics found on our site. With the exception of the stirrer, this gem meets all criteria. This is a very attractive piece which will look great on a bar, yet it’s time-tested sturdy and is used by many professional bartenders. The Yarai weave pattern etched into the glass really prevents fumble-fingers. This is what I want for Christmas if that helps. $36.50 from Kegworks.com

176862-libbey-half-yard-ale-B110) Half Yard Beer Glass (32oz) with Stand – Have you ever tried to drink out of one of these? I have and while messy, it was a ton of fun. For the beer drinker in your life, who’s definitely not driving, this gift can be a lot of fun for the home bar. Fill it to the top with an inch or two of foamy head (around 2 1/2 bottles of good beer should do it), sit where it’s easy to clean up, and enjoy the hijinks. Eventually, after a few well spent evenings, you’re friend will master it. A usable novelty is how I look at it. Perfect for an Oktoberfest or holiday outdoor party, or for a serious lover of beer, this would be a fun gift to open … but a pain in the neck to wrap. Kegworks.com again. $21.

Hope one or a few of these selections helps with your holiday shopping. Any of these products, as always, must be used responsibly, hopefully in a home bar near a warm bed later. Search for our older lists for even more ideas.

Happy Holidays from Mr. Booze!

2013 Autumn Cocktail Album Reviews

pulpPulp And Culture Box Set, VI – Not the cheapest collection I’ve reviewed, but worth every penny, this is an excellent exploration into themed music of the 50’s & 60’s. Four discs broken into four far-fetched categories that collectively are perfect for a themed gathering be it Halloween, retro-rockabilly, retro, or just plain fun. Rock & roll invasion, voodoo dolls, teenage rebels, and wild, wild guitar instrumentals are the four themes, and I promise you’ll never find such an eclectic collection of solid odd songs anywhere. It can’t always be The Rat Pack or strong jazz with that cocktail, so why not, on occasion, stir the party pot with some classic counter-culture sounds. Each themed disc plays exactly what’s promised with songs like Blood Beast From Outer Space, Voodoo Kiss, Betty Lou’s Got A New Tattoo, and Little Betty Twist. A weird collection, yes … but a fun one which will compliment your next weird party.

hawkinsThe Best of Screaming Jay Hawkins, Voodoo Jive – Pretty darned difficult to find now, I urge you to dig around in second-hand shops or ebay and try to score a copy while it’s still possible. To sound a bit like every other reviewer, Screaming Jay was crazy, or at least he sang that way. This album is a wonderful one to play during your Halloween party. Spanish moss dripping from tall trees standing tall alongside lamp lit back alleys beckoning you into dimly lit bars where this record plays on the jukebox would be the perfect scenario … but, that’s a tall-order. Still, if you’re looking for a serious jazzy-voodoo vibe & want to create a similar scene in your candlelit kitchen late in October, here’s what you need. Try and find some Screaming Jay, you’ll thank me. With songs like I Put A Spell On You, Alligator Wine, and Do You Really Love Me?, this album is simply unforgettable and has its place at any autumnal gathering. – http://www.amazon.com/Voodoo-Jive-Screamin-Jay-Hawkins/dp/B0000032S3/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1381154533&sr=8-1&keywords=best+of+screaming+jay+hawkins

brubeckBennett & Brubeck: The White House Sessions, Live 1962 – This sure is a cool, new addition to the Bennett library. No duets with Cindy Laupner, no takes on modern country, this is just two jazz giants meeting under a starry DC skyback when both were at the top of their game. I bought this disc the day it was released and have never looked back. I love when these old gems are unearthed and presented to fans who so appreciate the older stuff. With this record, one can actually hear nervousness on Bennett’s part, after all Bennett was just a decade into his popularity, and Brubeck was just three years out from Time Out. The disc is basically broken down into three parts – kicks off with a Brubeck set which leads into a Bennett one, both doing recognizable and classic hits, concluding with a team-up on a few songs which are cool enough to re-chill the martini you’re sipping. Recorded in the White House Rose Garden as a concert intended to thank government interns, both President and First Lady Kennedy were there. You know darned well, with that kind of audience, all three sessions were played at the top of their game. – http://www.amazon.com/Bennett-Brubeck-White-House-Sessions/dp/B00C4XYEFS/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1381155472&sr=8-4&keywords=tony+bennett+live

Halloween Cocktails & More!

Do you hear them? … the Children of the Night? … baying, growling, sniffing at your sealed doors for an invitation.  It happens every October as the month pulls itself out of its moldy tomb & thickens with orange & black promise. You carve the pumpkins, prepare the kid’s costumes & view b&w horror movies you haven’t seen in years. We’ve always taken Halloween pretty seriously at Mr. Booze & this year is no exception. Six feet under, you’ll find a list of all our past Halloween themed & appropriate cocktails, with a few fresh ones moldering on top. If you’re planning a party, just having a few friends over for a potluck, or feel like just staying home & hanging out with Abbott & Costello this year, we’re certain you’ll be able to dig something up from this page to make the cool nights leading up  to the 31st a little more special. Happy Halloween fellow booze-hounds!

Halloween Sunset

That Martha! She really can do it all & this cocktail I discovered on her site proves she also is a master elbow-tipper as well. A very 70’s style drink, my wife & I tipped a few of these back the other night & were reminded very much of the simple, sweet cocktails of our early 20’s. Halloween can be a frivolous & silly time, so if you feel like cutting straight to the chase & pouring just a simple, boozy, gets-the-job-done kind of drink that you can make quickly, yet is delicious, this Sunset is for you.

Here we go –

– 3 1/2 oz tangerine juice

– 1 1/2 oz white rum

– 3/4 oz grenadine

Combine juice & rum in a hi-ball or double old fashioned glass loaded with ice. Drizzle grenadine over top. Don’t stir.

Maple Bourbon Smash

Suggested by a zombie friend of mine up North, this Fall cocktail is as easy as ghost-busting to pull off. A wonderful pre-CURSE-or to a nice bowl of chili, you can fill a glass pitcher w/ everything  x’s 4, but the seltzer & whiskey & make ahead of time.

Here we go –

–  1/2 oz pure maple syrup

–  1/2 oz fresh orange juice

–  1/4 oz fresh lemon juice

–  4 dashes angostura bitters

– 1/2 orange wheel

–  2 oz bourbon

–  ice

–  1 1/2 oz chilled seltzer

 Muddle the 1st 5 ingredients in chilled pitcher, stir in bourbon, pour into ice-filled double old-fashioned glasses & top w/ seltzer. An autumnal take on an Old Fashioned.

Satan’s Whiskers

Just pouring this damned drink might possibly conjure up a surprise party visitor who may or may not ask for a certain something in exchange for a special favor, so be careful. I found this excellent & extremely serious Halloween drink on a very good cocktail site called Sloshed, which I highly recommend.  I wouldn’t suggest this drink as a pour for everyone, this is a sophisticated martini-family cocktail that’s extremely serious in taste, yet still whimsical enough for a dark October night on the front porch with a friend. The smoky, orange back flavor will satisfy tremendously.

Here we go –

– ½ oz gin
-

½ oz sweet vermouth

– ½ oz dry vermouth
-

½ oz fresh orange juice

– 2 tsp Grand Marnier

– 1 tsp orange bitters

Shake well with ice and strain into an iced cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange twist

Drunk Pumpkin Punch

I made one of these once and a boozy Halloween party and it was the hit of the evening. I highly recommend that you set it up outdoors if using a real pumpkin. They look beautiful and work well as a bowl but … pumpkins leak; I found that one out the hard way the next a.m.. Mopping up a floor covered with sticky Halloween punch while suffering a hangover is not the way to kick off November.

Here we go –

Half Gallon Apple Cider

Close to a fifth of dark or gold Rum

3 regular or one large bottle(s) of Ginger Beer

One med-sized, hollowed out, pumpkin

Close to party time, fill your hollowed out pumpkin or pumpkin punch bowl with the cider, rum and ginger beer, stir and add a frozen block of ice to keep things cold. Have your guests ladle the punch into punch cups.

Hot Spiced Cider

If you’re fortunate enough to have a chilly week around Halloween, mix up a batch of Hot Spiced Cider. In the evenings before Halloween, I’ll pull out an old television set, hook up my DVD player and gather neighbors for Monster Movies out in the car (bar) port.  Sure it gets cool, but that’s fall. This drink will set things right.

Here we go –

2 quarts apple cider

4 cloves

3 cinnamon sticks

5 shots Applejack or Apple Brandy

Heat cider with cloves and cinnamon, add booze and stir. Pat the rims of mugs in brown sugar and serve the cider in them.

Witches Brew

One of the few “modern cocktails” I’m including, this is a tasty, fun drink to enjoy while celebrating Halloween. This recipe comes from the Red Brick Tavern in Lafayette, Ohio where the ghost of a scorned young woman is said to roam the bar.

Here we go –

2 oz of mixed Cranberry and Pineapple juices

2 oz 7-Up soda

1 ½ oz Malibu, coconut Rum

Mix the 7-up and juices in a double old-fashioned glass with ice. Pour the rum down the inside of the glass right before serving.

Dracula’ Cocktail

Borrowed from The Playboy Bar Guide, this name-appropriate cocktail can be batched for home entertaining ahead of time. Just pour the amount needed in a small shaker with ice for each individual drink. Dracula will pour red so you get your “pop” as you pass one to your guest. Work on your Bela Lugosi accent ahead of time. You’ll need it as you host.

Here we go –

2 oz white rum

½ tsp grenadine (yes…you can use Roses)

1 oz lemon juice

4 oz cranberry cocktail

couple dashes Angostura bitters

Shake well w/ ice, pour into a tall rocks glass. Add more ice if necessary.

Night Shade

Night-shade-150x150For a “friendly” cocktail which can be enjoyed by most boys & ghouls over the age of 21, this odd little Halloween addition is actually quite complex and runs deep enough to also satisfy the more serious drinker at your Monster Mash. The juice and fruit provide the cut for the casual, yet the chartreuse & whiskey pack the punch. Serve it in those plastic, spooky Halloween martini cups you find at the party store. This is a great cocktail!

Here we go –

1 ½ oz bourbon

½ oz sweet vermouth

½ – 1 oz orange juice

½ tsp yellow chartreuse

Shake ingredients w/ ice in a shaker till cold. Strain up into a cocktail glass & garnish with a slice of lemon and orange.

Black Devil Cocktail

For the dads out there brave enough to sport horns, a red trident and a tail, here’s the perfect martini-type cocktail to go along with your El Diablo outfit. I like a nice white rum, and I love black olives, so this one is a nice change of pace, on occasion, from my beloved martini. I use the Appleton White Rum in this drink and, served iced-cold, you can’t go wrong. The name screams Halloween to me but…you can actually whip one of these up anytime.

Here we go –

2 oz white rum (Appleton is the one)

½ oz dry vermouth

Mix as you would your favorite martini, serve up in a clear cocktail glass and garnish with 2-3 black olives.

Blue Devil Cocktail

One of those gasp-inducing drinks that is horrifically perfect for a Halloween party or simple gathering, the Blue Devil should go swell with most adult costumes. Think of it as a boozy accent piece to your sexy nun outfit or your zombie mask, that happens to taste great and will leave you even more likely to be less inhibited before the night is done with you. The kind of drink that will have you waking up on November 1st asking, through your sandpapered mouth, “Did I really do that last night?” Bartender’s warning: please be careful with the Blue Devil. Just ‘cause it’s Halloween, try not to blame The Devil for your outlandish deeds after the fact.

Here we go –

1 ½ oz gin

½ oz blue curacao

1 oz lemon juice

Shake with ice and serve chilled and up in a cocktail glass. Garnish with a floating lemon or orange slice.

Acapulco Zombie

I guess there would be zombies in Acapulco in the event of a zombie apocalypse. Zombie cliff-divers and zombies selling piñatas & paper flowers would be roaming and diving all over the destination spot. For me, the Zombie is a natural for a Halloween cocktail. This one’s a heck of a lot easier to build than the traditional Zombie I’ve highlighted in previous Halloween and tiki posts. Yet another easy & spooky drink to batch ahead of time, this cocktail would work wonderfully for a party or any creature-feature get together.

Here we go –

1 ½ oz tequila

1 ½ oz vodka

1 ½ oz dark rum

2 oz orange juice

2 oz grapefruit juice

1 tsp grenadine

dash or two of white crème de menthe

Shake all ingredients except crème de menthe in a shaker till cold. Pour into a hi-ball glass over ice & top with a couple dashes of the crème de menthe. Stir softly and garnish with a maraschino cherry.

Screaming Banana Banshee

screaming-banana-banshee-150x150Sure, we’ve all known one, a few of us unfortunate enough to have married one…but isn’t it fun to learn that you can actually drink a screaming banshee, too? This is a perfect drink to enjoy at home, by yourself, or with your partner while carving pumpkins (be careful w/ knives & booze…maybe just watch), or hosting a small party. The cream/banana component makes them a bit thick and sweet so I’d only plan on enjoying one or two, tops. Don’t plan an evening around this drink, but if you’re mixing it up with a few Halloween drink choices, this should go into the rotation.

Here we go –

½ oz banana liqueur

½ oz vodka

½ oz crème de cacao (either light or dark, doesn’t matter)

1 ½ oz light cream

Shake in shaker along with cracked ice till freezing & frothy; strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with cherry.

Candy Corn Martini

A little sweet for my taste, I’ll open the lid on this cocktail just one night a year. Candy corn is the spirit of Halloween wrapped up in a bite-sized nugget of deliciousness, so I get why this drink is so gobbled down by sugar-buzzed kiddies over the age of 21. Positively gorgeous on a silver tray bathed in candlelight, a presentation of these on the home bar would last about half a minute.

Here we go –

3/4 oz vanilla vodka

1/2 oz white Creme de Cacao

1/2 oz butterscotch schnapps

2 oz orange juice

cocoa powder for rim

Ring your martini glasses w/ orange juice then pat into cocoa powder till rimmed. In a shaker filled w/ ice, pour liquid ingredients. Shake then pour up into martini glasses. Garnish w/ orange peel twist and skewered candy corn.

Ghost

I found this on the Drink Nation site and had to try it. This is a very good hi-ball cocktail yet one you should be careful with. You will be seeing ghosts if you have more than three…ghosts riding pink elephants. It has a chugability that can get you in trouble.

Here we go –

1 oz bourbon

2 oz vanilla flavored rum

cream soda

Fill a tall glass w/ rocks then pour in bourbon & rum. Top w/ cream soda. “Boo!”

Dracula’s Kiss

the-dracula-cocktail-150x150You gotta buy one of those goofy flavored vodkas for this one, but what the hell, you’ll have it for something else that calls for it down the line. This is the Halloween drink that your guests have to try when they see it. It looks great on a spooky decorated bar or on a coffee table ‘long side a carved pumpkin. Like “The Ghost”, this cocktail has a drinkability about it that could be dangerous. I mixed up a couple the other night during a DVD showing of The Fearless Vampire Killers, and everyone loved it, so you might consider this one for an October scary movie night.

Here we go –

2 oz black cherry vodka

1/2 oz grenadine

coca-cola

Swirl the grenadine around the bottom half of a clear high-ball glass till the glass is coated. Add ice then the vodka. Fill with cola and garnish with 2 plump cherries. Black straw if you can find them.

Dark & Stormy

dark-and-stormy-150x150Going with this one for Halloween on a name base, primarily. Surprisingly enough, I’ve never mentioned this boozy staple on Mr. Booze. Shame on me. This is the quick one for Halloween night. Maybe you have door duty, maybe you just want to watch a werewolf movie, maybe you don’t want to work too hard. The name is appropriate as is the ginger-spiciness of the mix so I went with it. Do not use ginger-ale w/ this one. Buy a couple bottles of ginger beer and tuck them away. My favorite is the Goya, it’s very spicy.

Here we go –

2 to 3 oz dark rum

ginger beer

1/2 oz lime juice

Fill a tall glass with ice, add lime juice then rum. Lightly stir then pour ginger beer to fill

Well, there you have it. Have fun this Halloween season. You’ve earned it. Watch an old spooky movie, throw a bash & batch a couple of these drinks, have a few friends over while the kids trick ‘r treat, just enjoy yourselves.

If you’d like some tips on great Halloween appetizers check out this Mr. Booze’ piece.

To set the spooky tone with music & sounds, go here

Besides the undead, Mr. Booze should have you all covered.

Autumn Cocktail Extravaganza!

fall-cocktails

Enough already! It’s finally fall. The bourbons, scotch, ryes & brandies can finally be broken out & the white & light rums, vodkas & gins tucked away ’til spring. I’ve decided with this piece, to lump together ALL of our Autumn cocktails from this & years past, in one place.

Cider House Cocktail

  •  2 oz aged rum
  • 1 oz Apple Jack or an apple brandy
  • 3/4 oz fresh lime juice
  • 1 1/2 oz Apple/Ginger Syrup
  • 1 1/2 oz apple cider

Shake ingredients in cocktail shaker ’til ice-cold. Serve up in a cocktail glass or over ice in an old-fashioned glass. Dust with a little nutmeg and garnish with an apple wedge

Stone Fence

This tall drink will tickle your tastebuds as much as the crisp autumn air and falling leaves tickle your eyes and mood.

Here we go –

In a large tumbler, beer mug or tall glass, add ice. Pour in the following:

  • 2 oz Apple Jack or apple brandy
  • 2 oz apple cider
  • couple shakes bitters
  • fill with a good, bottled hard cider and stir
  • dust with ground cinnamon, and garnish with an apple slice. This one will need a straw.

Apple Cider Martini

When you want to up the posh factor on a crisp fall night, an up, apple based martini is a good choice. This is a simple three ingredient cocktail that would be an excellent choice as a pre-dinner cocktail to tag in front of a rich chili, stew, soup or other hearty fare.

Here we go –

  • 2 oz vodka
  • 1 1/2 oz apple cider
  • 1/3 oz ginger liqueur (I’ve used both the excellent Domaine de Canton and Jacquin’s Ginger Flavored Brandy which is so good, too).
  • Shake ingredients with ice in shaker till very cold. Pour up into a martini or cocktail glass, garnish with an apple slice.

Chatham Cocktail

This is a very solid, ginger based cocktail that I find an excellent pour when I want something fall-seasonal, yet different than the usual apple, cinnamon, nutty cocktails I equally cherish.
There’s just something about ginger in a drink that tastes so seasonal and old-worldly that when combined with a chilly night and some thick jazz, makes a fall night special. You’ll need to get your hands on a bottle of ginger brandy, but that shouldn’t be too hard…especially now.

Here we go –

  • 2 oz gin
  • 3/4 oz ginger brandy (once again, I use Jacquin’s)
  • 1/2 oz lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. powdered ginger

Shake/swirl ingredients lightly with ice in a shaker till cold. Pour up into a cocktail glass and garnish with a piece of ginger-candy and a little ground nutmeg.

Apple Harvest Collins

This one on the NY Daily News website. Perez Kiebhan & Jack Judson of the Suba Bar in NYC created the drink. I made a round of six just last night and while a bit time consuming, the drink garnered the most “ooohs” and “ahhhs” of the evening.  Loaded with the tastes of the season — apples, cinnamon, & spiced cider  — this drink is also gorgeous to look at. Tall and satisfying, I’d definitely consider pairing this one with a fall meal. Its rich flavor would tremendously compliment a bowl of spicy chili or a salty lamb stew.

Here we go –

  • 1 Macintosh apple peeled, cored and sliced
  • 1 ½ oz of a complex, juniper gin (Bulldog or Bombay will do the trick)
  • 1/3 oz simple syrup (if you have the ginger, it couldn’t hurt)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 oz spiced cider
  • club soda to finish

Begin by muddling a quarter of a med apple in the bottom of a shaker. Add lemon juice and syrup as muddling. Add ice and gin then shake ‘til ingredients are mixed and cold. Pour into tall Collins glass and add cider. Stir then top with a little club soda. You can rim your glass ahead of time with cinnamon/sugar but I feel it can make the drink too sweet so be conservative. Garnish with a beautiful slice of red or green apple.

The Nutty Monk

Found this surprise in the December 2008 issue of Imbibe magazine. I was quite surprised by the reaction of the Mr. Booze fans that tried this one. More than half called it their favorite of the evening. A cousin of the Manhattan, this is a booze- mixed-with-more-booze cocktail that even unaccustomed strong drink drinkers might enjoy. This one does require a couple days pre-prep because you’re going to infuse toasted walnuts into cognac, so think ahead. You’ll need a quality cognac but they’re expensive so here’s what Mr. Booze did; I purchased a small, split size bottle of V.S. Courvoisier for $15 which ended up making 10 cocktails, more or less. I found this to be an affordable option.

* To make the walnut infused cognac called for in this drink roast ½ lb shelled walnuts  in a 350-degree oven ‘til nuts are toasted dark. Soak warm walnuts in a glass pitcher with the cognac (if you happen to use a full bottle of cognac, use one lb of walnuts) for 1 ½ – 2 days, no more. Infuse the foil-covered pitcher in a dark, cool place. Strain the liquid though a strainer back into the bottle (you’ll notice a little of the liquid is gone but that’s ‘cause your walnuts drank it). You can also substitute with broken chestnuts as a holiday drink.

Here we go –

  • 2 oz walnut infused cognac
  • 1 oz Benedictine liqueur
  • couple dashes aromatic bitters (Angostura are fine)
  • nice, big pieces of cracked ice.

Pour the ingredients into your glass martini pitcher on top of a couple pieces of cracked ice. Stir ‘til ingredients mix properly and get nice and cold. In a double old-fashioned or rocks glass place a piece or two of large cracked ice (just freeze a Tupperware or two with 1 1/s inches of water and crack w/ an ice pick.) Pour cold Nutty Monk over ice and serve. Garnish with a brandied cherry.

Ginger Daiquiri

Mixed up one of these on a whim after making a batch of ginger simple syrup and fell in love. Even back in July, I realized that the strong ginger flavor would carry this drink into the brown & orange months long after my taste for summer sours went off to hibernate. It calls for ginger simple syrup, which is pretty easy to make, and I suggest you make yours strong. You’ll want the ginger to stand up against the lime.

To make the ginger simple syrup start with a large ginger root. Peel the ginger and cut into large enough pieces that grating won’t cause problems. Grate all your fresh ginger with a cheese grater and set aside. Boil 2 cups water along with 1 ½ cups cane sugar. Stir as you heat ‘til liquid is clear. Let sugar water boil for about 45 seconds, then add ginger and boil for another two minutes. Take off heat and let mixture cool to room temperature. Strain out all the ginger and bottle the liquid. Syrup will last in your bar fridge for around 6-8 weeks.

Here we go –

  • 2 oz dark rum (Appleton or Pusser’s are perfect)
  • 1 oz fresh lime juice
  • ¾ oz ginger syrup

Shake ingredients with ice in shaker ‘til frothy & freezing. Pour up into a cocktail glass or serve over rocks in a rocks glass. Garnish w/ a lime wedge

Misty Maple Leaf

A perfect drink to enjoy as the sun sets on the day’s leaf piles, you can walk your yard with this cocktail knowing that in just a week, you’ll have to rake the whole damn thing again. The maple takes the muscle out of the whisky, creating a slightly sweet drink that goes down easy.

Here we go –

  • 2 oz Canadian whisky
  • ½ oz pure maple syrup
  • club soda to fill

Pour the whisky and syrup over ice in a shaker. Shake ‘til cold and well mixed. Pour in a tall glass over ice and fill to top with club soda. Stir with your straw and enjoy. If you can find those pretty little maple candies that come out in the fall, use one as a garnish

Applejack Old-Fashioned

Exactly what it says it is, this drink should be far from a mystery. But I did promise autumn cocktails and Laird’s Applejack is about as fall-like as a spirit can get. I love Applejack. It tastes strong as it goes down and leaves an apple finish in your mouth that will leave you smiling. Just consider this as a lovely October substitute for your regular old fashioned cocktail.

Here we go –

  • 1 sugar cube (yes, I still prefer the cube over simple syrup with an old fashioned)
  • 3 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 2 oz Applejack

In a rocks or double old fashioned glass, place sugar cube and splash it with a couple shakes of your bitters. Muddle ‘til muddy and add ice. Pour Applejack and garnish with a long, fat orange peel. Walk around your backyard with this drink while wearing your tweed hat.

Maple Cocktail

I found this one over at the virtual Vermont site. I’ll trust a Vermontian’s opinion on a Maple cocktail any day. Like our friends from the Green Mountain State, this one’s strong willed and fun, both meant as compliments. One of the few drinks I’ve come across which mixes gin and bourbon, the non-alcoholic ingredients do wonders to fuse it all together and leave the drinker with quite a cocktail experience. This one’s pretty simple to make so, if you’re feeling a bit daring on a crisp fall night, why not try it?

Here we go –

  • ¾ oz pure maple syrup
  • 1 oz lemon juice
  • ¾ oz dry gin (English style)
  • 1 oz bourbon

Mix all ingredients in a shaker with plenty of ice. Strain up into a cocktail glass and enjoy.

Tawny Manhattan

I’m seeing a lot of variations of the Manhattan cocktail this past two years. Contests & bar festivals are now being thrown pitting bartenders against one another coming up with spins on this, my most favorite of all, cocktail. I tried this Tawny version a few weeks ago and she really caught my attention. Right then & there, I knew this was a fall cocktail & squirreled the recipe away for this piece. The affordable tawny port carries her woody, nutty flavor right into the heart of the Manhattan in a woodsy way. You’ll be reminded of the changing leaves outside your window. The orange bitters swirl about between rye & port and provide a subtle backdrop that you’ll appreciate.

Here we go –

  • 2 oz Rye Whiskey
  • 1 oz Tawny Port
  • couple dashes orange bitters

Shake with plenty of ice in a shaker & serve up in a martini glass or pour over ice in a rocks glass. Garnish with a cherry.

Apple Ginger Sangaree

I’m passing on a drink I learned about from reading Dr. Cocktail’s column in Imbibe Magazine ( Jan/Feb 07). I LOVE this drink. You have to try it. I insist. The Apple Ginger Sangaree is a perfect fireside cocktail because the ingredients are all winter flavors – apple, ginger, nutmeg. The drink has a nostalgic, old-time taste. When you are sipping it, you feel as if you are tasting something men and women once enjoyed years back. The kind of flavors your Grandfather or his Dad may have enjoyed. I’ll warn you, one of the bottles you’ll need may be hard to find but look for it. I found one after a few days on the phone.

Here we go –

  • 1 ½ ounces of Stone’s Ginger Wine
  • 2 ounces Calvados
  • 1/4 ounce of simple syrup (as one cup water begins to boil, add one cup sugar. Stir ‘til clear and let cool to room temperature on the stove. Bottle and throw in your fridge. Will last forever in there.)

Fill double old-fashioned glass with cracked-ice. Combine ingredients in glass and stir ‘til mixed. Sprinkle ground nutmeg on top of drink and get ready for one hell of a cocktail experience. I think you’ll really like this one.

Grand Apple

This one’s as delicious as it sounds and I kicked myself for not trying it early enough to get on our fall cocktail list. A bartender poured one for me after I asked him to surprise me with something seasonal.

Here we go –

  • 1 oz Apple Brandy (Calvados or Applejack)
  • ½ oz Cognac
  • ½ oz Grand Marnier

Shake or stir over ice, strain cold into cocktail glass, garnish with a slice of apple.

Applejack Rabbit

Fall in a glass, try and find real maple syrup for this one. The kid’s Mrs. Butterworth won’t do at all.

Here we go –

  • 2 oz Laird’s Applejack
  • 1 oz lemon juice
  • 2 oz orange juice
  • 3/4 oz real maple syrup

Shake all ingredients with cracked ice in a shaker. Serve up and ice-cold in a cocktail glass, garnish with an apple slice, light the jack-o-lantern up and enjoy.

Kentucky

Just another Old School, 1950’s-tasting cocktail that I found in a musty bar bible. I mix ‘em up a lot when I’m playing poker; don’t ask me why, probably because the drink sounds like a card game, and they’re easy to make. I suppose the name derives from the birth state of the cocktail’s main ingredient. Who knows? But I do know one thing … she sure does drink well.

Here we go –

  • 2 oz Bourbon
  • 3 oz Pineapple Juice

Shake in a shaker with ice, strain into a cocktail glass. Badaboom … bottom’s up.

Mr. Booze’s Interview with Philip Greene

Author Of To Have And Have Another, A Hemingway Cocktail Companion

hemingway-cocktail-bookPhilip Greene, founding member of The Museum of the American Cocktail and writer of To Have And Have Another, A Hemingway Cocktail Companion, has taken a few minutes from his busy schedule with his career in law, book tours, and family life in order to answer a few questions pertaining to the book.  His To Have and Have Another, A Hemingway Cocktail Companion does an amazing job exploring the drinking details of Hemingway’s life and characters’ lives without bogging the reader down with snoozy details. Part collection of Papa anecdotes, part recipe book, part deep insight, the book is a true page-turner.  I’m a huge Hemingway fan and have always noticed, and been thrilled by, the writer’s use of spirits and cocktails, as well as food, in his stories and novels, but Phil Greene presents the lion’s share of them to us in a way that’s like discovering Hemingway’s love of drinking and it’s social importance in literature for the first time.  Very cool book, very cool guy. Let’s see if we can ask him some off-the-beaten-path type questions.
1) Mister Booze – Obvious question Phil, but one I gotta ask.  How did you make the transition from Hemingway reader and fan to Hemingway cocktail guy?  What turned you on about and to his numerous cocktail references?
 Phil Greene: I guess it makes sense to go back to how I became “a cocktail guy,” and that begins with my being a history buff.  A history major in college, I’ve always been fascinated with the stories, context, personalities, etc. of any given thing.  I went to law school in New Orleans, learned to cook there, and in a city with such a rich food and drink culture, a history buff simply cannot resist learning all about the stories behind gumbo, jambalaya, Oysters Rockefeller, the Sazerac, Ramos Gin Fizz, Hurricane, and all of the other fascinating (and delicious) local fare.  So I became a “cocktail historian” based on my New Orleans experience (and roots, see, I’m related to Antoine Peychaud, creator of Peychaud’s Bitters and the original Sazerac).  Meanwhile, I’ve loved Hemingway, both his work and his fascinating life, since high school.  I always enjoyed how well he described things, so you could actually experience them, including food and drink.  So, about 20 years ago I started to take note of certain drinks, wanting to try them myself.  The first time I can remember was in Florida, while reading Islands in the Stream, I had fresh limes and coconuts available, so I made a Green Isaac’s Special.  1989, no turning back after that!  Remember that great Washington Post column around 2004 about searching for the Jack Rose, that got both of us thinking, there are other people like us out there!  And it wasn’t just Hemingway; I also enjoyed how Ian Fleming would tell the reader exactly what James Bond was having for breakfast, or what drink he was having.  I think he might have even mentioned if it was shaken or stirred.
2) Mr. Booze – Did the Hemingway estate condone or help out with your book … or did they want to keep Papa’s love of a stiff drink under the radar, so to speak?
Phil Greene: Very good question.  I did not contact them while writing the book.  I had the sense that the family would be uncomfortable with any glorification of his drinking, that it could be done in an irreverent or disrespectful manner.  I wanted to be able to show it to them after it was written, so they could judge it on its merits, as a published work, and not in the abstract, something unknown to fear.  In my book, while I do acknowledge that he likely drank too much, it’s very respectful while remaining fun and light.  It’s not a collection of boozy war stories celebrating excessive drinking.  Since the book has been published, I am happy to say that the Hemingway family has, coincidentally, given their blessings to an amazing new venture called the Hemingway Rum Company.  They’ve just launched a pair of rums, under the Papa’s Pilar name, that are made by some of the leading experts in the field.  Papa’s Pilar has won gold medals in two major competitions already.  Well, I’m now doing some consulting and brand ambassador work for them, and, by extension, my book and I have received an informal “blessing,” if you will, from the Hemingway family.  That means the world to me.  I’ve heard my book described as “a love letter.”  That works.
3) Mr. Booze – While in Europe, after WWI, and as a literary member of Gertrude Stein’s coined “Lost Generation,” Hemingway was in the midst of a Cocktail Revolution as America slogged thru Prohibition. Do you feel that Hemingway’s actual location during a European Cocktail Revolution had much to do with his use of booze in his stories?  Or was he just a drinker to begin with who happened to be in the right place at the right time?
 
Phil Greene: Great observation, Mr. B!  While of course he was a drinker and was going to be one wherever he was, he happened to be (as he was in many respects) where the action was with respect to cocktails.  Paris in the 1920’s was home to bartending legends such as Harry MacElhone (Harry’s New York Bar), Jimmie Charters (the Dingo and many other famous Left Bank bars), and of course, the Crillon and Ritz, and all the other great cafes (Closerie de Lilas, the Select, Brasserie Lipp, et al.).  Then you have him often traveling to Madrid (where he befriended the great barman Pedro Chicote), and Venice (Giuseppe Cipriani, Harry’s Bar), later on Cuba (Constante Ribailagua of the Floridita), and so on.  He knew where great drinks were being made, and the places, the drinks and the people all helped him in adding depth and character to his prose.
4) Mr. Booze – Did Hemingway come up with any of his own cocktails or did he just enjoy the efforts of great bartenders?
 
Phil Greene: Another good question.  It’s a good mix.  Many of the 55 cocktails in my book are “off the rack,” so to speak (Negroni, Jack Rose, Americano, Whiskey & Soda, Gimlet, etc.), but many are either his own creations (Green Isaac’s Special, the Death in the Afternoon, Death in the Gulf Stream, many others) or his own variations on classics (such as his uber-dry Montgomery Martini, using frozen onions, or his Angostura bitters-laced Gin & Tonic, or adding grapefruit juice and maraschino liqueur to his Daiquiri).  In my book, you’ll find a great cross-section of standard classics that are representative of his life and times plus his own takes on those classics.
Hemingway-Champagne
5) Mr. Booze – He lived all over the world, but in any of his houses did Hemingway have an actual bar, or did he just use a massive & masculine table?
 
Phil Greene: I am not aware of any of his houses having a formal bar, you know, with a foot rail, all that.  You can see photos of his tabletop bar in Cuba, at the Finca Vigia, it’s exactly as he left it.  There are dusty bottles of Campari, Havana Club, Old Forrester Bourbon, Schweppe’s Tonic Water, you name it.  I suspect that he preferred to sit in an easy chair when he drank, that he’d do his time on actual barstools when he was at the Floridita, La Terrazza, Sloppy Joe’s, or other of his favorite watering holes.
6) Mr. Booze – How did Ernest handle sobriety? Did he stay off the sauce for any lengthy periods?
 
Phil Greene: He did, indeed.  At various times, either by doctor’s orders or through his own determination, he’d go on the wagon.  He’d especially want to get into shape before starting a book, comparing it to a boxer going into training before a fight.  Late in life, his doctor ordered him to cut back, one cocktail (which he’d nurse as long as he could, it was often Scotch and fresh lime juice), and perhaps some wine.  In a letter he wrote to poet Archibald MacLeish in 1945, he noted that “It’s good for us both to lay off the old liquor too; but by God it’s dull work doing it.  I’d like to hunt and fish the rest of my life and be just drunk enough to sleep well every night…   But instead I’ve got to write, and boil the liquor out to be able to write my best, and get my sensitivity back to be able to write where (I) have sort of burned it away in war.  Hell of a job.”  Biographer Carlos Baker quoted him as saying drinking was a “release,” “the irresponsibility that comes after the terrible responsibility of writing.”  Writing left him emotionally and physically spent.  “When I hit New York,” he once observed to his friend Earl Wilson, “it is like someone coming off a long cattle drive hitting Dodge City in the old days.”
7) Mr. Booze – In terms of drinking and cocktails, and night-spots associated with the two, did you discover any Hemingway imbibing surprises? Did he like any frou-frou cocktails, that sort of thing?
 
Phil Greene: As for the venues, no, no surprises there.  He liked places that had character, not window dressing.  He didn’t mind getting cleaned up on rare occasions (such as going to the 21 Club or Stork Club in New York, or Harry’s Bar and the Gritti Palace in Venice, and of course, the Ritz Paris), but often as not he’d want a place to relax.  Sloppy Joe’s in Key West was a bit of a dive; in fact, when in Key West, he disdained the Casa Marina (I honeymooned there!) because he didn’t like to get dressed up.  He liked to wear his “odiferous Basque shorts” after fishing, have his drinks and not worry about appearances.  As for the drinks, knowing of his disdain for sugar in later years, it’s hard to find any frou-frou drinks.  The two drinks that are on the sweeter side are the Gimlet and the Jack Rose.  Both are solid drinks, mind you, but they can be sweet(ish).  You see the Jack Rose in his earlier work, the 1926 classic The Sun Also Rises.  He was only 27, likely not worried about sugar back then.  Occasionally, you’ll see a drink like the White Lady (Islands in the Stream), or the Cuba Libre (To Have and Have Not), which he likely used to say something about the drinker (rich people on a yacht or a crass tourist), so you get the sense that he’s saying something about the people who are drinking those drinks.  There’s a great scene in Islands where he has to defend the Gin & Tonic as not being frou-frou.  The bartender, Mr. Bobby, would rather serve a shot and a beer, it seems, at his Bimini dive bar.  “To hell with those fancy drinks,” he complains.
8) Mr. Booze – I know they switched according to age, mood, situation and temperament, but did Hemingway have a favorite cocktail throughout his life?
 
Phil Greene: Several.  He learned to love Campari when he was convalescing from wounds in World War I in Italy, age 19, and he was drinking Americanos, Negronis and variations thereon through his life.  Same goes for the Martini; in a 1919 letter he boasted of having 15 Martinis (good Lord!), though he did prefer them to be small.  The Daiquiri was a favorite from his Key West days (circa age 30) through his life, especially in Cuba.  The Whiskey & Soda (the #1 drink in terms of frequency of mentions in his prose) is found throughout his life as well.  It’s tough to pinpoint one particular drink.  He loved gin calling Gordon’s Gin “one of the sovereign antiseptics of our time…,” noting it “of approved merit and can be counted on to fortify, mollify and cauterize practically all internal or external injuries.”  In Islands, he praises the Gin & Tonic:  “It tastes good to me.  I like the quinine taste with the lime peel.  I think it sort of opens up the pores of the stomach or something.  I get more of a kick out of [it] than any other gin drink.  It makes me feel good.”
9) Mr. Booze – Did the effort involved in the anecdotal collecting pertaining to the drinking life of so famous a writer ultimately influence you and your appreciation for cocktails? Did Papa influence how you now drink?
 
Phil Greene: Yes, in any number of ways.  From the standpoint of what to drink, he introduced me to a couple of initially off-putting drinks that I originally didn’t like, notably Campari and Holland gin, and of course, absinthe.  Try a Death in the Gulf Stream (Holland gin, lime, Angostura bitters and crushed ice) and see if you don’t agree, it’s a hell of a good drink.  Have a Negroni or an Americano, both acquired tastes but well worth the acquisition.  But in other ways, deciding what to drink, is there any ceremony (as with dripped absinthe) that should be observed, or should you drink what the locals are drinking, to better immerse yourself into your surroundings, taste the terroir, so to speak.  Also, of course, the cautionary side, being mindful of not drinking too much, the discipline required.
10) Mr. Booze – Completely off subject but what we always want to know here at Mr. Booze, tell us about your home bar and the gatherings held ’round it.
Phil Greene: It’s not at my own home, but that of my dad, down on Chesapeake Bay.  There are actually two of them; one is a beachside bar, right on the water, great views, very rustic. I built it out of scrap lumber from an old deck, and fashioned drink racks from bamboo cut from the neighbor’s yard!  The indoor bar is a great collection of kitschy stuff from our travels, many stories behind each item, not to mention a collection of water samples from around the world.  It’s an odd collection, but in tiny jars there might be water (and maybe sand) from a beach in Hawaii or the Cook Islands, or water from the Mississippi River in New Orleans, the fountains of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, you name it.  It’s cool to look at that water and think “that’s snow melt from the peak of Mount Tongariro in New Zealand,” or “that’s from the Great Barrier Reef.”  And of course I have some great old bar books, many signed by my friends in the biz, from Dale DeGroff to Ted Haigh to Jeff Beachbum Berry to Dave Wondrich.  And an old phonograph, to play Frank, Bing, Nat, Dean, Sammy, Chet, Ella, love the old standards.  And lots of framed ads from the 30s – 50s, clipped out of old magazines.  Gotta get down there soon, Mr. B!
11) Mr. Booze – (sneaking in an extra) What is your favorite Hemingway inspired cocktail? Why?  Can you please share the recipe with us.
Phil Greene: A popular question, and one that is going to change often, but right now it’s a toss-up between the 1920s version of the Jack Rose that I found in Barflies and Cocktails, by Harry MacElhone, and the Bailey, made by Hemingway’s friend Gerald Murphy.  The former is a bit of work, an odd combination of the Bronx Cocktail and the standard Jack Rose, but really exquisite, and the latter is a really nice mix of the Hemingway Daiquiri and Mojito, but with gin!

The Jack Rose – Harry MacElhone’s 1920s Paris recipe:

  • 1 ½ oz Applejack or Calvados
  • ¾ oz dry gin
  • ¾ oz orange juice
  • ¾ oz fresh lemon or lime juice
  • 1/3 oz French vermouth
  • 1/3 oz Italian vermouth
  • Grenadine to colour (about 1/3 oz)
Shake well with ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

The Bailey

  • 1½ oz gin
  • 
½ oz grapefruit juice
  • 
½ oz fresh lime juice
  • 
1 tsp simple syrup (optional)
  • 
1 sprig mint
Gerald Murphy instructs (from a letter to Alexander Woollcott):[i]:
“The mint should be put in the shaker first. It should be torn up by hand as it steeps better. The gin should be added then and allowed to stand a minute or two. Then add the grapefruit juice and then the lime juice. Stir vigorously with ice and do not allow to dilute too much, but serve very cold, with a sprig of mint in each glass.”
12) Mr. Booze – Following the book up with anything, or working on anything booze related you’d like to share?
Phil Greene: I’m very busy promoting the book for now and more events are in the works!
Please see www.ToHaveAndHaveAnother.com, as well as Facebook.com/ToHaveAndHaveAnotherAHemingwayCocktailCompanion for more info!  And my email is PhilipGreene61 at gmail.