A lovely little cocktail that hits the spot every time.  First appearing in print in Harry Craddock’s 1930 cocktail guide The Savoy Cocktail Book, this is most obviously a variation on the classic Sidecar cocktail.  By substituting Chartreuse for triple sec and adding a dash of aromatic bitters, it adds a layer of complexity which transforms the drink into something three-dimensional.  I love the occasional Sidecar, but really they are pretty dull on the taste buds.

If you don’t happen to have Chartreuese Jaune on hand, you can try the green (vert) version, but only use about a third of an ounce instead of the full half ounce. Otherwise things will be out of balance.

My first impression of this cocktail was of apricots with a nose of pineapple. Interesting considering neither is in the recipe.

Champs-Élysées Cocktail
1oz brandy
0.5oz yellow chartreuse
0.5oz lemon juice
1 tsp simple syrup
1 dash angostura bitters

Shake with ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass.

c9b29f44-8d0e-4d67-8a95-1eb17483c764What is Cane Camp? 

Cane Camp is a cultural immersion program set against the vibrant backdrop of Puerto Rico. Over the course of the program, you can expect to learn the ins and outs of rum production and craft brewing, and experience the rich history of this beautiful island. While beverage production will take center stage at Cane Camp, expect a strong focus on conservation, climate and environmental issues. We will be visiting the diminishing Bio-Bay, exploring the intricacies of responsible rum production and experience a snapshot of the current state of the environment in Puerto Rico.

744476db-52c2-4567-a89b-431bc0ec046aHow do I apply?

Follow this link to complete the Cane Camp 2017 application:

0808b8ca-d19c-43aa-8c71-5f02f111c6c0Please keep in mind that there are only 50 spots available for this experience and applications close at 11:59 EST on February 23rd, so make sure you take the time to carefully consider and fill out each field of the application. We read these blind (that means we can’t see your name or bar) and base all of our decisions on the creativity and care you put into your responses.


15626399_144244089397489_1467792453588275863_oThere aren’t a whole lot of spiced whiskies out there. So, I was quite intrigued to receive a sample of one by the same couple who head up Sukkah Hill Spirits (see my reviews of their liqueurs here). Here’s what owners Howard and Marni Witkin have to say about their journey towards creating CALI.

“We didn’t realize that we were going into the liquor business. We just thought that we were sharing a delicious home-made drink with friends. Our founder, Taste Mistress, and resident foodie – started making homemade liqueurs in our kitchen. We poured it for dinner guests, and they were hooked. Soon a few bottles grew to dozens of bottles and we had local stores asking to carry our liqueurs.

By the time we caught our breath, we had an operating distilled spirits plant, pallets of liquor, gold medals, industry recognition, and two of the best liqueurs on the market. But our taste mistress is a whiskey girl at heart, and we started dreaming about a whiskey we could call our own. It took us a few years, but the sipping whiskey that emerged is something unique and incredible. A full-bodied whiskey with whispers of wonderful aromatic spices and botanicals. The flavors of CALI arise organically from the interaction of the rich corn mash bourbon, and spicy rye, mellowed by clean oak and then finished with our own signature blends of herbs, spices and botanicals.

We make every bottle by hand, in our little beach town distilled spirits plant from all natural ingredients. Never GMO. Never Industrial. We are truly excited to bring our family of natural hand crafted spirits to your family.”

CALI California Sipping Whiskey (85 proof)
Visual: Orange-gold.
Nose: Ginger, cinnamon and clove painted against malty whiskey canvas.
Taste: Remarkably smooth for a higher-proof whiskey.  The initial impression is of warmth and spice cake.  This opens up quickly into a broader palate that is predominantly cinnamon.
Finish: Long with a lot of the spices lingering and creating a cooling sensation on the tongue. Very much akin to an allspice liqueur.
Overall: I wish this was more widely available.  It honestly puts many spiced rums to shame.  You can even use it in Tiki drinks for extra pop. Try this is a Hot Toddy or neat in a Brandy snifter.  It is a great winter warmer.
GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: CALI Distillery

ilkeyoteWait…a spirit made from Agave, and it’s not Tequila? Correct. Tequila is a unique product of Mexico, which involves many traditional production techniques. Il Keyote is made from 100% organic Blue Weber Agave sourced from Jalisco, but that is where the comparison to Tequila ends. Cannon Beach Distillery ferments, distills and matures Il Keyote a bit more like Brandy than Tequila. This technique provides the flavor of the agave, which is balanced with the woody tones pulled from toasted American white oak barrels. The result is an entirely new style of spirit. Leave the salt and lime aside.

Mike Selberg opened Cannon Beach Distillery on July 1st 2012 with the singular goal of crafting the best possible spirits. Every drop of alcohol they produce is fermented from raw ingredients, distilled, matured, bottled and labeled in-house, in Cannon Beach, Oregon.

(To order Cannon Beach spirits go to CraftedLife.com)

Il Keyote (80 proof)
Visual: Pure gold.
Nose: Fresh, oak nose with a more subtle grassy and vegetal undertone. New leather, oak shavings and soft pepper.
Taste: Notes of butterscotch, caramel cream, buttered toast, and slight high notes of baking spice and horehound.  Quite unique and very tasty.
Finish: Medium long with a smooth finish.  Just a hint of warm, creamy sweetness to end things on a dessert-like note.
Overall: I was not expecting an agave spirit to taste as different.  This is far and away as unlike Tequila, Mezcal or Sotol as night and day.  Kudos to Master Distiller Mike Selberg for trying something new and succeeding with a crafted liquor that might have been just a curiosity.  This is a spirit to savor and have your mind and palate expanded.
GSN Rating: A+

For more information go to: Cannon Beach Distillery



Mike Selberg was born in Portland, Oregon and spent his young life bouncing around the Northwest and Colorado.  He spent every summer in Cannon Beach, so it was no surprise that he made it his permanent residence a few days after graduating High School.

Mike attended the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA where he studied everything from Music to Psychology to Art History, before finally landing in the Natural Sciences. Biology and Chemistry allowed him the opportunity to learn with his hands in Lab classes.

“There was something about starting with an ingredient or compound and manipulating it into something completely different that was intriguing and fun.”

Mike was introduced to home brewing by his college friends, and continued making beer as a hobby years after he graduated. This foundation in the natural sciences along with experience with fermentation coalesced when Mike and Larry Peters Sr., a friend and regular at the bar he worked at, started discussing what it would take to manufacture Gin. download

“I learned that many, if not most, distilleries did not conduct every step of production to manufacture their spirits. There was a lot of purchasing and blending going on. I couldn’t imagine letting go of any aspect of the process.  There are so many steps to creating a spirit, and each can be manipulated in a host of different ways. I wanted my spirits to be uniquely my own. I wanted to make something that no one had ever tasted before, and the only way to do that was to control as much of the process as I could. There is so much room for experimentation in this industry, it seemed crazy that more distilleries weren’t crafting new styles or new categories of spirits every day.”

In November of 2011, Mike registered Cannon Beach Distillery with the State of Oregon, and on July 1st 2012, he opened the doors to the tasting room. To this day, Mike distills every drop himself.

“My spirits are constantly being refined. I don’t ever want to make the exact same spirit twice. I want to make every batch better than the last. That’s why we put a batch number on every bottle. Every spirit has an extremely complex composition. Minor changes in single aspect of the production can have a significant effect on the final character. It can always be better. The composition can always be more harmonious. I have a ton to learn, but I take pride in everything that has come out of here. It’s my hope that my spirits speak for themselves.”

(To order Cannon Beach spirits go to CraftedLife.com)

Dorymen’s Rum (80 proof) distilled from evaporated cane juice sugar

Visual: Clear.
Nose: A slight funkiness of wet fur that usually is found in cane sugar based rums.  Rustic, earthy and engaging.
Taste: Clean, bright and spicy. Very intense and tightly formed. Only slightly sweet. A well-rounded cane spirit.
Finish: Medium long with a smooth fade.
Overall: This is akin to the original Cuban rums that you might have found at the beginning of the 20th century. Surprising body and character that Hemingway himself would have enjoyed.
GSN Rating: A-

Donlon Shanks Rum (80 proof) distilled from molasses
Visual: Deep gold.
Nose: Some spice on the nose, deep earthen notes topped with sharp oakiness.  Slight brine.
Taste: Mild char, with a smooth entry.  After a few seconds, some sweetness creeps in tempered with oak.  a full-bodied rum that again has a rustic sensibility and will work exceptionally well in Tiki style drinks.
Finish: Medium long with burnt sugar and caramel closing the curtain.
Overall: A spirit in the style of some South American rums.  Bold, masculine and wood forward.  Great for mixing.
GSN Rating: B+

For more information go to: Cannon Beach Distillery

1610834_10152862980905943_61540934822568108_nThe Pisco Sour has been around for nearly 100 years now, but you still rarely see it on cocktail menus outside of metropolitan cities.  Hailing from Lima, Peru, it was created by Victor Morris an ex-patriot American.  Designed as a South American spin on the Whiskey Sour, it became an instant hit.  Originally a simple mix of pisco, simple syrup and lime juice, by 1924 the recipe included the key addition of egg white topped with aromatic bitters.  Sadly, only five years later Morris declared bankruptcy and soon passed from cirrhosis of the liver.  Perhaps too much of a good thing.

If you want the total authentic experience, make sure to use Amargo Chuncho bitters which are made in Peru.

Pisco Sour
1.5oz Peruvian pisco (Porton, Barsol or Encanto are good brands)
0.75oz fresh lemon juice
1oz simple syrup
1 small egg white
Amargo Chuncho Peruvian Cocktail Bitters (use Angostura bitters in a pinch)Combine pisco, juice, syrup and egg white in a shaker; and shake vigorously without ice. Add ice, shake well again and strain neat. Place a few drops of bitters on top of the foam.

brandy-alexander-290x290Sure, we’ve all had at least one Brandy Alexander in our lifetimes.  But rarely does anyone wonder who the eponymous Alexander was.  My good friend Gary ‘gaz” Regan wrote about the origins of this dessert-like concotion a few years ago.  Here’s what he discovered.

“One of the earliest known printed recipes for the Alexander can be found in Hugo Ensslin’s 1916 Recipes for Mixed Drinks. The cocktail, according to historian Barry Popik, was likely born at Rector’s, New York’s premier pre-Prohibition lobster palace. The bartender there, a certain Troy Alexander, created his eponymous concoction in order to serve a white drink at a dinner celebrating Phoebe Snow.

Phoebe Snow, I should explain, was a fictitious character used in an advertising campaign for the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad. The company wanted to get the message across that it powered its locomotives with anthracite, a clean-burning variety of coal. The ads emphasized this by showing Ms. Snow traveling while wearing a snow-white dress.

Getting back to the Brandy Alexander, I should note that it was first known as the Alexander #2. Want to know the secret to making the drink? Go heavy on the brandy and light on the sweet stuff. My recipe is a decent jumping-off point; you can play with it to make it your own. Try the original gin-based Alexander, too.  It’s a mighty fine drink.”

Here’s gaz’s recipe:

Brandy Alexander
2 oz Cognac or other fine aged brandy
1 oz Dark crème de cacao
1 oz Cream
Garnish: Freshly grated nutmeg
Glass: Cocktail

Add all the ingredients to a cocktail shaker and fill with ice. Shake, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.

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