Back to the classics! I turned up some blood oranges while Cruising through Greenlife Grocery a couple of days ago. These hold a special spot in my heart. During a short stint in the Navy, they were the first fresh food we had after an extended time at sea. We were eating them (and stuffing them in our pockets) while we passed crates from the supply ship to storage areas below the deck. That was off the coast of Sicily – home of the best blood oranges.

Because of that memory, the Blood and Sand cocktail recipe stuck with me. I read about in Eric Felten’s column last year. It’s a drink from the cocktail golden age that on first glance seems like an odd combination. I had made some a while back with regular orange juice (fresh squeezed) and thought they were a little flabby. Blood orange juice has a little more acidity and makes the drink-

Blood and Sand from Eric Felten

  • 1-1/2 oz Scotch
  • 3/4 oz orange juice
  • 3/4 oz Cherry Heering
  • 3/4 oz sweet vermouth

Shake and strain.

Lovely. You get the base liquor flavor up front, the fruit flavors in the middle and a lingering finish of vermouth.

I put a southern twist on it for my second round using Borboun in place of the Scotch. Not quite as good. Next test will be with some rye – cheers


The genesis for this string of post came from hearing a friend describe her annual egg nog production. I was taken by the amount of work and care she put into making each batch and the obvious craft she brought to the task. She was gracious enough to document the process this year. The techniques involved apply to all of the recipes given in part 2 of these posts-

Here’s my recipe I am true to. It came from my sister’s husband’s family, where they’d keep it in the garage and sip on it until Easter!

  • 1 dozen eggs, separated
  • 1 lb powdered sugar
  • 1 quart bourbon
  • 1 cup light rum
  • 2 quarts whipping cream

Beat yolks until light yellow in color. Add powdered sugar, which will thicken it. Add booze slowly so not to “cook” the eggs. I have been adding some brandy to spice it up! (5 cups of liquor in all). Set aside in large container. Whip cream to soft peaks. Set aside. Whip egg whites to soft peaks. Fold in whipped cream and egg whites. Stir daily until ready to serve. It looses a lot of volume. I like to start now (around Thanksgiving) for Christmas. I usually strain before serving to get out any stubborn lumps.
















Gettting Started 



















Progressive additions to the yolks















Beaten egg whites, then cream are folded in




The final mix is stored in the refrigerator, stirring every few days until it is needed.


We got our hands on some the other night. It was really something – light and airy with the complex flavors of the liquors and a mouth coating texture. A real treat and miles removed from the grocery store cartons.


Amateur Cocktail Guy got caught a little exposed last night. Several times a month work intrudes into the cocktail hour. We tea-total those nights and always make sure I can get away if called. A combination of last minute events put me in a bind and I had to call the Amateur Cocktail Friends for some help. Always gracious, they came through without flinching. I owe them a big one, so I went to work in the ACG test kitchen.

Not everything that passes these lips makes it to these pages. Last weeks I stirred up a recipe from the latest issue of Imbibe. They offered a collection of cocktail recipes for holiday parties. One caught my eye – a mix of Bourbon and Cherry Herring. I’ve been a little taken with Cherry Heering after I spent some time in Atlanta this summer tracking down a bottle. I’ve enjoyed it in Blood and Sands, and wanted to try some other drinks that included it. I mixed one up last week and enjoyed it – slowly, over an hour or so.

It’s a liquor drink with no added juice or syrups. Stir it with ice to dilute and chill it a bit, then sip. It’s not bad. Tim Stookey of The Presidio Social Club in San Fransisco developed the drink. He calls it “And to All a Good Night…” In the article he indicates that he wanted “spiciness” in the drink. He nailed it. I think it works great as an aperitif.

As I was trying to figure out how to thank the friends, it struck me that this drink could be mixed up ahead in bigger batches and poured as needed. A little math indicated that a quadruple recipe would fill a 375 ml bottle. My ABC stop today was to pick up a bottle of Maker’s Mark. It cleaned up nicely. Next, I mixed 6 oz Bourbon with 3 oz each Cherry Heering and Tequila. Bitters were added, then back into the bottle. I got a little crafty with Photoshop and turned out new labels.

I’ll deliver in the morning, fingers crossed that they’ll enjoy it-

Amateur cocktail guy has been away from the blog for awhile – big changes in the family as we moved back into our house after a year long renovation. In addition to the boxes to unpack and things to sort through, our internet service was unavailable (long story, come over for a drink and I’ll tell you about it). The cable was turned on yesterday and now the home network is almost up and running.

Yesterday the blog got a nice comment from our local paper’s food writer. I was inspired. The Amateur Cocktail Test Kitchen, now in it’s new home, was fired up and a celebratory Halloween cocktail created.

p bar

Halloween seems to lend itself more and more to drinks and parties. Of course, that’s after the trick or treaters are satisfied and safely indoors. Then we can begin. Drop dry ice into whatever you’re drinking and it’s a Halloween drink. That’s usually far enough. Another option is to use one of the black or bright red colored liquors to make your drink. Both of these tacks give you a visual treat but what about taste? We’re all about taste here, so we wanted something to capture the night, or better yet the season. Halloween is cold, with the slight mildew smell of wet, fallen leaves. Time for brown liquors, bourbon, cognac, aged rum. There are pumpkins too. They must be included.


The easiest way to make a new drink is to modify an old recipe. We’re fans of the sour around here (and David Embury who pointed out its utility as a base recipe). A good starting place for our drink. We also needed something a little salacious to make it Halloweeny. Here’s what we came up with:

The Pumpkin Spice

  • 2 oz brown liquor
  • ¾ oz fresh squeezed, strained citrus juice
  • ½ to ¾ oz Monin Pumpkin Spice Syrup
  • drizzle of POM pomegranate juice

Shake and strain first three ingredients, drizzle POM into glass.


I mixed up several variations and enjoyed most. Here’s what I learned:

  1. Great aroma from the syrup.
  2. Don’t go higher on the syrup, the drink will got too sweet.
  3. Lime juice with rum, lemon juice with bourbon and cognac
  4. You can make grenadine from the POM by mixing equal parts sugar with juice, but the Pomegrante juice is preferred because it adds less sweetness and diffuses more within the base of the glass – it looks more bloody
  5. Adding some orange flavor would be nice, but Cointreau made it to sweet. Might try a dash or two of ornage bitters in future mixes, or adding in some Grand Marnier
  6. Add 1/4 to 1/2 oz of Goldschläger cinnamon schnapps to give it some zip
  7. Garnish? Sure, why not? Maybe candy corns on a pick, or here’s something cool: roast little marshmallows on a pick and use those

Mountain Java has a great selection of Monin syrups for sale (I still have to figure out what to do with my bottle of Roasted Chestnut syrup). If you can’t find what you need, try Monin’s online store.

They ship.


Yeah. First cocktail created in the new kitchen. Time to make preparations to try it out on Halloween.

I’m still on the trail of a Campari drink (other than the Negroni) I like. The first issue of Imbibe included a reader submitted recipe for the Orange Viola – Campari, gin and passion fruit syrup. It is essentially a Negroni but with the sweet coming from the fruit syrup. I tried to track down passion fruit syrup and even passion fruits locally but no luck. (Monin has the syrup, but it seems too hot right now to have it shipped). An idea came to me one night – if you could substitute syrup for the vermouth, why not substitute another syrup for the passion fruit? Here goes:

Orange syrup

  • 1 cup fresh squeezed, strained orange juice
  • 1 cup sugar
  • grated zest from the orange

Bring it all to boil and simmer for a few minutes. Strain and cool. Save the zest and let it dry – it is candied orange peel that is quite tasty.

ACG Orange Viola

  • 1 1/2 oz gin
  • 3/4 oz Campari
  • 3/4 oz Orange syrup

Good, taste like a Negroni with an orange edge. The original recipe only calls for a 1/2 oz of syrup. Mine wasn’t sweet enough with just that amount so we adjusted upwards. I suppose you could use other commercally prepared syrups as well. You might need to run some test drinks to get the sweetness level right.

Thinking back to my peaches – I made a peach syrup:

  • 1 1/2 pounds of ripe peach flesh, diced
  • 1/2 cup of sugar

Simmer for 15 minutes. Strain and cool. Add 1 tsp of lemon juice. Save the fruit, it is also quite tasty.

This yields about 3/4 cup syrup. It is not as as sweet as the orange syrup, so you might want to add a little more. I will say that the delicate peach flavor was lost against the Campari, not an improvement. Still had lots of peach syrup left. Here’s where it was good:

Peach Bourbon

  • 2 oz bourbon
  • 1 oz peach syrup
  • 2 dashed Angostura bitters

Shake with ice and strain into a glass.

I first tried this in a bourbon sour but the lemon juice dominated the drink, so I omitted it and went the classic cocktail route given above. That one tasted like bourbon, wasn’t too sweet and had a nice peach edge. Keeper.