Cocktails + Libations = Cocktations

If you are wondering what a cocktation is, yours is a valid question. Cocktation is in fact a made-up word that tumbled from my mouth one day when I was trying to say the word concoction. That nifty little neologism was the seed idea for this blog, and here we both are today.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Pumpkin Pie Cocktail

Hiram Walker's seasonal Pumpkin Spice liqueur begs to be made into a Pumpkin Pie drink. Yet all of the pumpkin pie drink recipes I have thus far found online left me unimpressed. This inspired me to recall a drink I had created in the Fall of 2008 and publish it for the betterment of all pumpkin pie lovers and sweet freaks.

Back then, before I knew better, I served this drink in a v-shaped cocktail glass and called it a Pumpkin Pie Martini. But it is not a martini. A martini is not just any drink served in a v-shaped cocktail glass. It is gin, vermouth, and bitters--and please let's not get started on the whole "vodka martini" issue. Rather, let's get on with this recipe, shall we?

Pumpkin Pie Cocktail
1 oz Hiram Walker Pumpkin Pie Spice liqueur
1/2 oz Smirnoff Vanilla vodka
1/4 oz Licor 43
3 drops Fee Bros Old Fashioned Bitters
1 oz milk
Shake over ice vigorously to chill quickly and strain into a cocktail glass of your choosing. Garnish with a dash of pumpkin pie spice. You can also hit this with a bit of whipped cream if you have it handy.

The drink is very rich, quite sweet, and quite reminiscent of pumpkin pie in a liquid form. It makes a great dessert drink and puts the HW Pumpkin Pie Spice to good use.

Cheers! ~Dr. Cocktation

Friday, October 15, 2010

Menta Stinger

While you may have heard of the classic Stinger cocktail, made with Cognac and Creme de Menthe, this twist is something I had read about nearly a year ago, but was unable to try due to local unavailability of Branca Menta, the mint version of Fernet Branca. While in NYC this past weekend I was able to pick up a bottle of the coveted Branca Menta at Astor Wine and Spirits and today I made a long-awaited, much-heralded Menta Stinger. I can no longer locate the original recipe, but decided to split the difference between Drink Boy's 4:1 ratio and the typical 2:1 ratio I found elsewhere for the classic Stinger, and go with the following:

Menta Stinger
2 oz Cognac (I used Caymus VS)
3/4 oz Branca Menta
Shake over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

The taste is savory, slightly minty (which grows in the back of your throat as you consume the drink), black-tea-like, and nicely herbal (think horehound, anise, baking spice, and subtle citrus). This is a very complex drink, not at all "sweet",  and one that would be great to sip in front of a roaring fire during a snow storm. In fact, I may just consider it my official 2010 Winter cocktail!

Cheers! ~Dr. Cocktation

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Luxardo Bitter & Pepsi Throwback

After my food-and-drink-focused trip to NYC and New Jersey (for the Wine Library 2010 Supertasting), I'm winding down at home and had planned an evening of abstaining from any additional high-calorie foods (that was blown away by my cheese, salami, potato chip, and pretzel dinner) and alcoholic drinks. And yet, in perusing my purchase order from Astor Wines & Spirits I began to fantasize about all of the cocktail-making fun that awaits me when my order arrives. The order consists of items I cannot find locally, in spite of being vocal about my desires for such items, including Delaware Phoenix Distellery's Walton Waters and Meadow of Love absinthes, Pacifique Absinthe, Laird's Bonded Apple Brandy, Sagatiba's Pura and Vela cachacas, Catdaddy Moonshine, and Fernet Branca's Branca Menta. I'm excited to try some of these items, and revisit old friends (so to speak), but the Branca Menta is something I've been wanting to access for the longest time. In anticipation I've been doing some research on Fernet Branca and Branca Menta, and discovered that the former is quite popular with Coca Cola in Argentina, so much so that a popular song, Fernet con Coca, was written about the drink. The notion of mixing a bitter amaro with a sweet soda got me thinking about a bottle of Luxardo Bitter that I have sitting in my basement. Luxardo is most similar to Campari, yet a bit less thick and bracing. If Argentinians love their Fernet con Coca so much that they don't want to be without it in a jail cell (those are the translated lyrics from the song), then maybe Luxardo Bitter and Pepsi Throwback might be equally nice. I mixed 1 oz of Luxardo Bitter to one tall ice-filled glass full of Pepsi and found it to be quite refreshing and delightful. The bitterness balances nicely with the sweetness of the Pepsi and the alcohol content is on the lower side--a perfect ending to a lovely, if calorie-laden, vacation.

Cheers!  ~Dr. Cocktation

Sunday, September 26, 2010

I Actually Won!

This is just a quick update to let readers know that I won the August Bourbon cocktail contest with my Georgia On My Mind cocktail. When I learned that I had actually won I had a bit of a Sally Field moment, exclaiming, "I can't deny the fact that you like me, right now, you like me!" although in actuality you all just like my drink. Either way, I'll take it!

~Cheers, ~Dr. Cocktation

Monday, August 30, 2010

Georgia on My Mind

Here it is--my very first cocktail contest entry. The theme for August is Bourbon, so I've been working diligently in my kitchen on weekends using the tried and true scientific method to carefully vary individual ingredients in each potential cocktail until I came up with what I believe is a winning combination. I've never been good at naming my creations, so a friend came up with Georgia on My Mind as a nod to the peach flavor.

2 oz Four Roses Bourbon
0.5 oz Domaine de Canton Ginger liqueur
1.5 oz Looza peach nectar
4 fresh medium-sized basil leaves
2-3 dashes of Bitter Truth Celery bitters

Muddle the basil in a cocktail shaker and add all of the liquid ingredients. Add ice and shake vigorously. Strain into an ice-filled short glass and garnish with a sprig of fresh basil. 

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Sweet and Spicy Caipirinha

It's a cool late Summer evening and I'm in a spicy mood, due in part to my neighbor's generous donation of  some hot red peppers of unknown lineage. I was asked to make a caipirinha and decided to take this Brazilian favorite in a different direction. The resulting spicy, yet pleasant, decoction, is offered for your enjoyment...

2 oz Leblon Cachaca
1 oz Thatchers Tres Chilis
1/3" ring of a medium-spicy small pepper
Juice of 1/2 Meyer lemon
Juice of 1/2 orange
1 larger key lime
1 bar spoon raw sugar
3 strawberries
Muddle key lime, strawberries, and pepper in cocktail shaker with sugar. Add liquid ingredients and ice and shake hard. Strain into ice-filled short glass.

The drink is the color of a sunset and is sweet, spicy, and perfect for a summer night.

Cheers, ~Dr. Cocktation

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Spicy Sanchez

I bought some new tequila at Lukas Liquor on Manchester Rd (for your STL MO readers)...Tequila El Mayor Reposado Then, on the way home from work I bought some kumquats. Tonight I read enviously of a friend enjoying a traditional gin martini, but wasn't in the mood for gin, so I improvised. As a result of this improv session, I now proudly bring you...

The Spicy Sanchez
2 oz Tequila El Mayor Reposado
1 barspoon of Del Maguey Minero Mezcal
1 kumquat
1.5 oz Thatcher's Tres Chilis
1 dash Fee Brothers Whiskey Barrel Aged Bitters
1 barspoon agave syrup

Muddle the kumquat in the bottom of a shaker tin, add ice and all other ingredients. Shake and strain into a cocktail glass. There is a sweet, slightly spicy smokiness to this drink that seems to fit well with a humid summer night. The subtle hint of citrus from the kumquat adds nicely to the drink. I'm sure I could play more with this basic recipe and go on tweaking, but I liked it "as is" well enough to want to share.

Cheers, ~Dr. Cocktaition

Friday, May 28, 2010


Today is the Friday of Memorial Day weekend, 2010--a great day in my little world. Ahead of me is a 3 day weekend full of food (glorious food!), fantastic beverages, good friends, and good times (along with a little work thrown in for good measure). Tonight I felt inspired to create a new cocktail with the ingredients I have in my refrigerator and behind my bar. I started with some variations on the Caipirinha, which led to this little creation that I call....

1.75 oz Square One Botanical
0.5 oz limoncello 
1 tangerine
1 key lime
1 sprig dill

Quarter and muddle the tangerine and key lime along with the dill in a mixing glass. Add limoncello, Square One Botanical, and ice and shake it like you mean business. Dump the entire contents of the shaker into a short glass.  

The drink is very citrusy, summery, and refreshing. I think it is the perfect Summer beverage to sip on a warm day. 

Cheers! ~Dr. Cocktation

Saturday, April 24, 2010


At a recent private wine tasting event my friend, Tony Viviano, of  Viviano & Sons Italian Market, introduced me to Fragoli Italian Wild Strawberry Liqueur. This stuff smells like a strawberry shortcake, and I'm quite tempted to pour this sweet stuff over a short stack of pancakes or a waffle on Saturday mornings. Bottled with tiny wild strawberries, this delicious Italian liqueur is great mixed with prosecco, lemonade, or 7-up. But tonight, I stumbled upon a combination so obvious, yet so delightful that I just had to share it with the world. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you my latest creation...

In a short ice-filled glass pour 1/2 bottle of good cream soda (I used IBC). To this add 1.5 oz of Fragoli Wild Strawberry and stir. That's it. It is so simple yet so good that I actually exclaimed, "I am a genius!" after the first sip.

Cheers, ~Dr. Cocktation

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Sloe Gin Fizz

In the words of Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, Sloe gin fizzy, do it 'till you're dizzy, give it all you got until you're put out of your misery. With the availability of honest-to-goodness Plymouth Sloe Gin in the US market, it is now possible to make a refreshing Sloe Gin Fizz, without having to resort to artificially-flavored "sloe gin" schnapps. If you can find Plymouth Sloe Gin (I ordered mine from Drink Up New York and it was worth the effort), try one of these on for size...

Sloe Gin Fizz
2.5 oz Plymouth Sloe Gin
0.5 oz fresh lemon juice
0.5 oz simple syrup
1/2 egg white*
Shake vigorously without ice, to froth the egg white. Then add ice and shake again to chill. Pour into an ice-filled short glass, garnish with a lemon slice, and top with 2 oz of sparkling water. 

Cheers! ~Dr. Cocktation

*NB: The American Egg Board states: There have been warnings against consuming raw or lightly cooked eggs on the grounds that the egg may be contaminated with Salmonella, a bacteria responsible for a type of food-borne illness.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Hendrick's Spring

I love Hendrick's Gin. Made in Scotland, it contains rose and cucumber, along with other botanicals, imparting a unique and enticing flavor. Tonight I created a new Spring cocktail using Hendrick's gin and Thatcher's Cucumber (I'll post more about Thatcher's products later. For now, I'll just say that all of their stuff is the shit and you should buy it and try it straight first. You can thank me later.) Anyway, I'm calling my new creation Hendrick's Spring.

Hendrick's Spring
2 oz Hendrick's gin
1 oz Thatcher's Cucumber
4-5 oz tonic (I used Whole Foods 365 Tonic)
1 slice Meyer lemon
6-8 fresh mint leaves

Build over plenty of ice in a lowball glass, placing the mint and lemon slice deep in the glass amid the ice to impart more flavor. Mmmmm, the flavor reminds me of a crisp, sunny Spring day.

Cheers! ~Dr. Cocktation

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Jack Rose Cocktail

Tonight I'm revisiting an old friend--the Jack Rose cocktail. I ordered some Laird's Bottled in Bond Apple Brandy from Drink Up New York. This crucial ingredient plus some Fee Brothers grenadine and Meyer lemon juice make a damned tasty Jack Rose--better than any I've ever had before.

Jack Rose Cocktail
2 oz Laird's Bottled in Bond Apple Brandy
1 oz Meyer lemon juice
1/2 oz Fee Bros Grenadine
Shake over ice. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a piece of lemon peel. 

When prepared in this manner and with these ingredients, the Jack Rose cocktail tastes fresh and inviting, with layers of fruit and a hit of tartness that fits perfectly with the transition from Winter to Spring. It's as if my glass is heralding the coming of warmer weather and blooming red and pink flowers. Also, don't forget this weekend we switch back to Daylight Saving Time. Spring forward!

Cheers! ~Dr. Cocktation

Friday, March 12, 2010

Creme Yvette Absinthe Frappe

To celebrate the appearance of Creme Yvette back on the US cocktail scene, I decided to make an absinthe and Creme Yvette frappe. The recipe is simple and consists of 2 oz of a good blanche absinthe (I used La Valote),
one ounce of Creme Yvette, 4 oz of water, and ice shaken and strained into two ice-filled absinthe glasses. One could obviously split the recipe in half for one drink, but what good is drinking alone? The drink is simple, yet refreshing, and is a striking violet-purple hue. Welcome home, Creme Yvette and welcome Spring!

Cheers! ~Dr. Cocktation 

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Judy's Big Orange Cooler Hurricanes

When most people think of Mardi Gras they think of New Orleans, but St. Louis' Mardi Gras celebration is the second largest celebration in the US. In the weeks leading up to Fat Tuesday, immediately followed by Ash Wednesday, there is the Soulard Barkus Parade, with the Soulard Mardi Gras parade usually being held on the weekend prior. After spending a number of years traveling down to the Soulard neighborhood by cab with friends to stand out in the cold with tens of thousands of people, drinking $10 Southern Comfort hurricanes (utter blasphemy!), and waiting in endless lines for my turn in the 3' X 2' stench cell, also known as a porta-potty, I finally decided to stop the madness and celebrate at home.

When you're inviting over a significant number of friends it's important to have a solid go-to recipe for making a large batch of genuine Hurricanes. I've taken the basic, true Hurricane cocktail recipe and tweaked it out for large-scale use and to allow usage of standard-sized containers of liquor and juice. I prepare my Hurricanes in the standard round, orange cooler with a spout, and freeze large blocks of ice ahead of time to keep the drink cold inside the cooler throughout the party.

Judy's Big Orange Cooler Hurricanes
Add 2-3 large blocks of ice (you could use a cake pan or bread pan to make these) to your cooler.
1 gallon of no pulp orange juice
1 bottle of Myer's Dark Rum (or other dark rum)
1 bottle of Mount Gay Eclipse Gold Rum (or other gold rum)
1 bottle Bacardi White Rum (or other white rum) 
12 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
10 oz freshly squeezed lime juice
14 oz Monin Passion Fruit syrup
12 oz Monon Grenadine syrup
28 oz cold water
8 oz simple syrup
Stir all of the ingredients inside the cooler to mix, and serve the hurricanes to your guests over ice. 

Be forewarned that the mixture of juices and syrups mask the high alcohol content of these drinks, so be sure that guests know that these hurricanes pack a punch.
Cheers, ~Dr. Cocktation

Sunday, January 31, 2010

My NOLA Saint's Superbowl Cocktail Contest Entry--One Saint

As a regular Tales of the Cocktail attendee I was thrilled when I became aware of the chance to enter the Drink Like A Saint cocktail competition. The grand prize is a bunch of free passes to a variety of TOTC events (which has comprised a large portion of my previous years' TOTC budget)! The basis of the contest is for amateur mixologists (that's me!) to create a NOLA Saints-themed cocktail to celebrate their trip to Superbowl XLIV (that's 44 for all of you non-Romans). The contest deadline was noon today, so I emailed my entry to the Times Picayune this morning. Included below is an excerpt, along with the recipe, from my emailed contest entry.

So, without further ado, my creation...

The name of my cocktail entry is One Saint. The name reflects the two main ingredients in the cocktail--Square One Botanical and St. Germain elderflower liqueur.

The recipe is as follows:

1.5 oz Square One Botanical
1 oz St. Germain elderflower liqueur
1/4 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 oz strongly-brewed jasmine green tea
(I used Trader Joe's Jasmine Green tea and brewed it with two tea bags to one cup of hot water.)
1/4 oz Monin Violet syrup

Shake all of the ingredients listed above over ice in a shaker until well-chilled.
Strain into an ice-filled rocks glass, top with 2 oz sparkling water, and garnish with a lemon slice. Add two cocktail straws, sip, and enjoy while watching The NOLA Saints trounce the Colts! GO SAINTS!!!

The rationale for my choice of ingredients is probably readily apparent. I chose to use the St. Germain as it is delicious, has the word "saint" in the name, is a beautiful golden color, and although it is not made in NOLA, I associate it with the city (It's where I first encountered St. Germain at TOTC in 2008). From that basis I found that the floral components of the Square One Botanical, the jasmine green tea, and the Monin violet syrup worked well together to give the drink a summery feel that reminds me of NOLA. I decided to make this more of a long drink and add the sparkling water as I believe that is easier to enjoy while watching the game than a mostly alcohol based cocktail would be. The drink has a nice golden color and the lemon garnish echos this, making it one of the Saint's primary team colors. While some friends say they note a strong guava juice aspect to the drink, others say it reminds them of liquid gummy bears. Either way, most of
the feedback I have received on this creation has been positive.

Cheers! ~Dr. Cocktation

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Bakon-CocoaTini

I just picked up a bottle of Bakon Vodka at The Wine and Cheese Place and started off with a Bakon Bloody Mary that was head-and-shoulders above any plain old Bloody Mary I've ever had. That said, I was struck with the notion to find a way to combine the delicious, smoky, baconlicious flavor of this vodka with chocolate in some way. I think I have done it. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Bakon CocoTini ...

1 oz Bakon vodka
1 oz clear Creme de Cacao
1 oz half-and-half
2 dashes Fee Bros Aztec Chocolate bitters
Shake over ice and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with 2 more dashes of bitters on top and use a toothpick to swirl a design into the top of the drink.

The sweetness of the creme de cacao, coupled with the smoky, meatiness of the bacon vodka, is complimented by the additional layer of chocolate and spice in the bitters, and held together by the richness of the half-and-half. I dare you to resist the temptation of the Bakon-CocoaTini!

Cheers! ~Dr. Cocktation

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Odds and Ends to Close out 2009 and Ring in 2010

Gentle Reader,

Please accept my apologies for having neglected you so thoughtlessly since my last post on 12/24/09. I was on vacay from both jobs, and while I should have found ample time for sharing more of my beverage-related concoctions and imbibing adventures, alas I did not follow through. Today's post will be devoted to catching up with you on what I've been drinking and doing over the holiday season.

But first, I'd like to offer a few quote from one of my gustatory heroes, the inimitable (unless you are Meryl Streep) Julia Child:

Find something you're passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.

You must have discipline to have fun.

Now, let's get down to business. On 12/17/09 I had the pleasure and honor of meeting one of my greatest wine heroes, Gary Vaynerchuk, at his STL World Market book signing for Crush It. Afterwards, my fellow Vayniacs and I retired with Gary to Robust for the special Vayniac wine flight that was being offered that evening, some delicious food, and some private time with Gary. For pics and more details on our time with Gary, visit the Robust Wine Vine blog

On 12/21/09 my local wine tasting group and I went to Brazie's Ristorante on the Hill and took over their back room with all of our holiday wines. Our theme for dinner was sharing a wine that really got each of excited about wine drinking. That night I was lucky enough to try Dom Perignon   (1995 vintage) for the first time, 2001 Clos Mogador, Silver Oak, an '88 Riesling, a '93 Tokaji, 2006 Tignanello, and a '64 Colhieta tawny port, to name a few. If you ever find yourself hungry for good Italian food at the corner of Watson and Arsenal, try Brazie's and don't leave without a taste of their amazing cassata cake. 

Christmas eve Santa brought a wonderful little treat to my house--one of the Del Maguey single village mezcals. The Minero to be exact. Ron Cooper runs an amazing operation and enables those of us stuck in boring old USA to sample the best sipping mezcals that the tiny, remote villages of Mexico have to offer. To me, the Minero tastes of a vanilla Tootsie Roll wrapped with a sliver of teriyaki beef jerky and hidden inside a fire-roasted chipotle pepper, dashed with a hint of vinegar, and coated with the lingering scent of a burnt tire. Although my description may sound anything but delicious, this delightful mezcal is meant to be enjoyed in moderation and will warm you from the inside with its seductive smokey-sweet scent and smooth character. Bottom line, you must try this beverage, and if you are in the STL area you can find it at Lukas Liquors and The Wine Merchant

Christmas morning found me opening what has become over the past week my cocktail New Testament--Gary Regan's "Joy of Mixology." In this book, Regan offers a cohesive theory of mixology that should enable any cocktailian to not only prepare the classics, but also move into new cocktail territory. His classification of cocktails into families, based on shared similarities, enables readers to gain a fundamental understanding of how the various ingredients function in any one drink, and thereby imagine new combinations based on this foundational comprehension. To quote from the book jacket, "Once you understand that the Margarita is a member of the New Orleans Sour Family, you’ll instantly see that a Kamikaze is just a vodka-based Margarita." Brilliant stuff, Gary!

New Year's Eve day found me playing around with a new bottle of Black Bottle blended Scotch whisky, and Drambuie to make a delicious Rusty Nail (2 parts Scotch to 1 part Drambuie stirred over ice and strained). New Year's Eve (and well into New Year's Day 2010) I enjoyed the heck out of a bottle of non-vintage Jacques Copinet Brut Rose. For my dollar, I generally prefer to select a Grower's Champagne to a Grande Marques Champagne. 

Finally, on Palidrome Day [01.02.2010], which was also my mother's 70th birthday, the family dined at our favorite little spot in St. Charles, Vivian's Vineyards and broke into a bottle of 2002 Domaine de Jamet Cote-Rotie. Even with aeration via the Vinturi (another gift from Santa) and time in a Riedel decanter, the wine never reached the heights of the 2003 Jamet Cote-Rotie. Serves me right for being cheap and not wanting to spend the extra 30 bones to get the 2003. Oh well, 2010, like all other years that preceded it will be full of opportunities to live and learn and endeavor to do better next time.  

Cheers! ~Dr. Cocktation