One big hit from last summer was the Ginger Daiquiri. A really enjoyable citrus-rum-ginger chilled masterpiece. The secret ingredient was homemade ginger syrup detailed here. It was made for the daiquiri but worked equally well to make up homemade ginger ale or a cola-like drink when mixed with Aveena Amaro. Even with all these uses, I never finished a batch quick enough to feel comfortable with the last bit in the bottle. I dumped out about as much as I consumed. That got me thinking: The cocktail is just a vehicle for getting alcohol in the system by way of the mouth. Various flavor ingredients work to make the mouth time pleasurable. Does it really matter if the flavor compounds originate within a syrup or a liquor base? Not to the mouth, at least not unless one of the flavors is off because the base has gone bad. Why not just put the flavor compounds into the liquor so they keep longer thereby lowering overall cost and spreading out enjoyment? Done:

Ginger Infused Rum

  • 8 oz of peeled and chopped fresh ginger
  • 1/2 oz crystallized ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp crushed Cardamon pods
  • 12 peppercorns
  • 75 cl of white rum

Combine ingredients and allow to steep for ____ weeks.

I’ll get back to you on how long to let it soak, but I’m thinking at least until school is out. I’ll probably add some lime zest this weekend when I have time to process a few of the little guys.

Note: the crystallized ginger was added after I read that the people who make Domaine de Canton liqueur use both root and crystal ginger in their mix.

Note 2: I did add the zest of one lime yesterday (May 17)


The “Amateur” in our title was accentuated again today with Eric Felten’s latest great cocktail article in the weekend Wall St. Journal. Like last year, this weeks topic was Halloween cocktails. He mention a drink containing Monin Pumpkin Spice syrup in passing and dismissed it out of hand. Ouch.  I didn’t hurt too much, really. I was thinking fast when I came up with the Pumpkin Spice cocktail, and still feel pretty good about it (It’s pretty much a daiquiri if you use rum, and we do like us some daiquiris. In fact, I’m having one now, made with Meyer’s Dark Rum left over from a try at a Jamaican Black Cake. That’s for another blog). That said, his suggested drink from this year’s column as well as the one put out last year deserve a try. Today he pulled one out of the Savoy Cocktail Book: Satan’s Whisker. Great name, no pumpkin flavoring, no blood colored ingredients, just the name. Worth trying, but beware – very little acid, so it might come off flabby. Put some dry ice in it. Ha ha

Satan’s Whisker

  • 1/2 oz gin
  • 1/2 oz sweet vermouth
  • 1/2 oz dry vermouth
  • 1/2 oz fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 1/2 oz Grand Marnier
  • dash of orange bitters

Stir and strain. Garnish with an orange peel.

The drink from last year’s column was in a somewhat similar vein. A dry cocktail without bizarre color or ingredient additions. One big plus for this one, it includes apple cider, a staple of our local apple industry. Unfortunately, the liquors called for aren’t carried by our ABC stores. Oh well – go to Green’s or Total Wine in Greenville SC and you will be rewarded. wink wink, nudge nudge

Wicked Witch

  • 1 oz Strega liquor
  • 1 oz Averna Amaro
  • 1 oz apple cider

Shake and strain.

Click here for another Averna recipe. It’s a good one.

Addendum (Nov 2nd): I’ve made several Satan’s Whiskers now. It is low acid as predicted, but very orangey without being cloying. I’m making mine as doubles – 1 oz of everything. That will give you enough to fill a decent sized cocktail glass


I keep coming back to this drink because I like it so much. It can be a bit of a chore to make though. The orginal recipe came from an article by William L. Hamilton (Shaken & Stirred, New York Times, May 23, 2004). His came from the restaurant Mas, and included white Rum, Cointreau, Lemon juice and a home made ginger simple syrup.  A great drink when made by the recipe, but the syrup takes two days to make. I’ve made them using our homemade ginger syrup. Quite good. Another good variation is to use Domaine du Canton Ginger Liquor in place of half of the rum. But the ginger Liquor ain’t cheap. Monin has a premade ginger syrup, $8 a bottle,  that seemed worth trying. That lead to this:

  • 2 oz white Rum
  • 1 oz fresh squeezed and strained lime juice
  • 3/4 oz Monin Ginger Syrup

Shake and strain.

Lots of ginger on the nose, but the taste seemed a bit fake.


The Ginger Daiquir Deluxe that gets its spice from the ginger liquor and Oregeat syrup is still the favorite around here. No planning required.

Finding an old drink recipe to mix up is part of the attraction to all this cocktail lore. Sipping a drink mixed years ago gives you a chance to connect with folks a generation or two past. One drink that fits that bill is the Last Word. It’s been written about across the web, which is how I suppose I stumbled across it. The ingredient list is tempting. I had some Chartreuse and some maraschino picked up to make various forms of daiquiris. Rum comes second to gin for me. After making my share of daiquiris though, I still had a good portion of each liquor left over. The Last Word was a drink that could consume some of each.

The Last Word is made from one part each of gin, Chartreuse, maraschino and lime juice. I like gin, I like lime and I like the symmetry of a drink composed of equal parts. Very easy to remember after you’ve had a couple and need to mix more for your guest. I made one a few nights back. Not bad. The lime was too dominant. The maraschino also sticks it’s head up too much. Last night I played around with it a bit more.

Last week there was a Chartreuse ad from the 70s for sale on eBay. It gave a recipe for a drink called “Swamp Water,” six parts pineapple juice, one part Chartreuse. It struck me as a not-good-way to waste Chartreuse. That said, maybe mixing pineapple and Chartreuse together was worth a try. I made a drink substituting fresh pineapple juice for the lime. Not good, insipid from lack of acidity. Next try: 3/4 ounce of each liquor and the pineapple plus a 1/2 ounce lime juice. This was better but the Maraschino remained way too dominate. One last try gave this:

Last Word from the Swamp
3/4 ounce gin
3/4 ounce Chartreuse
1/2 ounce Maraschino
3/4 ounce Pineapple Juice
1/2 ounce lime juice

Shake and strain. Good drink for the person who likes maraschino. The pineapple was not too prominent which is why I suppose someone thought to put six parts of it to one part Chartreuse.

I had an “ah ha” moment at work today. I have a bottle of Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur, this from a run at making Ginger Daiquiris (see a theme?). I like that drink and think it is the best thing I’ve come up with to date. It was a short leap from that to this (second best drink to date):

Next Word
3/4 ounce gin
3/4 ounce Chartreuse
3/4 ounce Ginger Liqueur
1/2 ounce lime juice
dash of Maraschino

Shake and strain, garnish with one maraschino soaked cherry.

I used some of the liquor the cherries had been soaking in for my maraschino dash. It is a little red and did muddy the drink color a bit. Use straght from the bottle maraschino if you want to keep the faint lime color. The amount of lime juice to use could vary with the acidity of your limes.

There is plenty of maraschino aroma off the drink, but the Chartreuse takes center stage. The ginger is subtle and I think a perfect compliment to the botanicals of the gin and Chartreuse. I think I need one more to confirm that observation. cheers

More on the Last Word

The 2:1 syrup recipe is being pressed into service again. This is my fourth batch of ginger syrup. The idea came from reading an old Shaken & Stirred column from the New York Times by William L. Hamilton. He gave the recipe for a Ginger Daiquiri served at Mas restaurant. The drink sounded quite good. He gave a recipe for ginger syrup that required stepping for around 2 weeks. It tuned out well, but was fairly mild and took foorevveeer to make…

More searching turned a video on You Tube for making a cooked syrup at home. I combined that with the recipe from the latest issue of Imbibe! and a recipe in The Art of the Bar to come up with my first cooked syrup. Big success and GREAT daiquiris. The syrup adds a twist to several summer drink recipes. It also gives a wonderful Ginger Ale when mixed with sparkling water. I  tweaked the recipe each time I make it. Here’s the latest (double everything for a 1 liter recipe):

  • 8 oz peeled and chopped ginger root
  • 1 cup demera sugar
  • ¾ cups cane sugar
  • ¼ cup corn syrup
  • ¼ maltodextrin
  • zest of one orange
  • 1 Tbsp crushed cardomom pods
  • 12 pepper corns
  • 1 cup of water

In a saucepan, warm the water over low heat, add the sugars and syrup until dissolved. Add the cardomom, peppers, malotdextran and half the ginger. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes then remove from the heat. After 10 to 15 more minutes of cooling, add the remaining ginger and orange zest. Allow to step for 30 minutes. Add water to bring final volume to 50 cl. Bottle.

(The maltodextrin was added after reading Darcy O’Neil’s recipe for sweet and sour mix. It adds viscosity without adding sweetness. It could be skipped)

Here’s the Ginger Daiquiri recipe:

  • orange peel
  • 2 ounces white Haitian rum
  • ½ ounce Cointreau
  • ½ ounce Meyers lemon juice
  • ¼ to ½  ounce ginger-infused simple syrup

Swipe the orange peel on the rim of a cocktail glass. Combine the remaining ingredients in a shaker with ice; shake and strain into the glass to the rim. Garnish with peel.

Here’s another drink I concocted one night: Sicilian Cola

  • 1 ½ ounce Averna Amaro
  • 1 ½ ounce ginger syrup
  • 4 to 5 ounces sparkling water

Build in a Collins glass over ice, stir gently