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Featured Cocktail

Mammoth Manhattan, Northern Manhattan, and the Bellaire Cocktail

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Happy New Year! We celebrated the start to 2019 with a blanket of fresh snow in Northern Michigan and some cocktails made with local spirits. We are normally “Up North” during the summer months, but decided to spend a week in Charlevoix during the holiday season. The result is this blog post packed with three recipes (and some travel tips if you find yourself in this part of the world).

As regular readers of our blog know, we often sing the praises of local craft distillers, and when we are on vacation we typically have more time to hunt down and visit new distilleries. This past summer we visited Mammoth Distilling’s wonderful tasting room in the tiny town of Central Lake, Michigan. Thanks to Mammoth, Central Lake is the smallest town (population 936) in Michigan to have its own distillery. The tasting room happens to be next door to another Central Lake landmark, Bachman’s Store – a classic 5 and dime that hasn’t changed very much since it was opened in 1942. We highly recommend a vi…

Traveling Americano

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During December we participated in a fun holiday event sponsored by Matthias Soberon – the creative cocktail genius behind the Served By Soberon blog and Instagram. Through our Instagram account we have come to know fellow cocktail enthusiasts and home bartenders who hail from all parts of the globe. We have learned so much by following, and becoming a part of, this group. During the holiday season Matthias (who lives in Ghent, Belgium) paired up Drinkstagrammers in a cocktail version of “Secret Santa” for his #SecretSanté event – where over 150 people are created and posted cocktails to celebrate a fellow home bartender.
We were assigned Travel, Food, Cool - an awesome Instagram account (and blog) created by Elin. It’s dedicated to cocktails, recipes, restaurants, and cool stuff - with a focus on Italy. Basically, it’s about all things we love! As a tribute to @travelfoodcool, it seemed only right to do a riff on an Italian drink, and so we chose the Americano. This is a wonderful Ita…

Wassail Cocktail

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Now that we have most of the holiday decorations up its time to refocus our energy and make a cocktail! We were a bit parched after struggling with all of those strings of lights. 

Mulling spice, cider, brandy, and citrus are all traditional ingredients in wassail – a warm punch that dates to the middle ages. Wassail is a great holiday drink, but it requires a bit of time and quite a few ingredients. We were looking to make something easier – preferably on the rocks since we worked up a sweat bringing those bins of decorations up from the basement! 
We had some Apple Cider Simple Syrup leftover (previously used in our Apple Rye Cocktail) and some terrific Spiced Rum from Far North Spirits, so we thought we would do a wassail riff on an Old Fashioned. A classic Old Fashioned contains a base spirit, a sweetener, bitters, and garnish. Our rum had plenty of spice, so we didn’t need the bitters, but we decided to throw in a bit more alcohol (and balance the spice) by using some apple brandy.…

Clover Club

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This classic cocktail is well over a century old. It originated at Philadelphia’s Bellevue-Stratford Hotel – which was the meeting place for the men’s social group known as the Clover Club. It’s very similar to a Pink Lady, but without the Applejack. We have a Pink Lady variation on the blog – see our In the Pink cocktail where we replaced the gin with aquavit. Some Clover Club cocktail recipes call for grenadine (which is what is traditionally used for the Pink Lady), but most use raspberry simple syrup. We have a number of cocktails on our blog that call for raspberry syrup, so it’s an ingredient we make and keep on hand. Check out our Up North Raspberry and Rye or Raspberry Smash – or use the syrup in a Daiquiri
Back in October, the Cocktail Artist team took separate overnight trips. Beth (the team mixologist) was in New York City visiting our daughter – where she went out for drinks at the Dingle bar in Fraunces Tavern. This historic tavern has been operating since 1762 and, in a…

Bee Nice

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This cocktail is our variation on the prohibition classic Bee’s Knees. The traditional Bee’s Knees is a straightforward combination of gin, honey, and lemon juice. It was developed at a time when gin wasn’t what you would call high quality. Actually, it was barely drinkable and required the addition of the lemon and honey to mask its flavor. Thankfully we don’t have that problem now!  One of the drinkable spirits we have been enjoying is from the kind people at Bluewater Organic Distilling – who recently sent us a bottle of their new Wintersun Aquavit. This is a clear, crisp aquavit with citrus and anise notes. More people are discovering aquavit – a traditional Scandinavian spirit, and using it as a gin or vodka substitute in classic cocktails (with varying degrees of success). We thought herbal notes of Wintersun Aquavit would be best complimented by honey and some citrus – which brought us to the Bee’s Knees recipe. We then set about experimenting with ratios and ingredients and cam…

Apple Rye Cocktail

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According to the calendar it’s fall, but here in the Mid-Atlantic we are still experiencing summer weather. We’re ready for fall, and we got a taste of it before we left Northern Michigan a few weeks ago – the weather was crisp, leaves on the maple trees were starting to turn, and there were some delicious apples available in the farm markets. While we were in Michigan we created a delicious autumn-inspired cocktail using local ingredients. Now that we are back home in Washington, DC we wanted to replicate the drink, but we failed to bring home the honeycrisp apple syrup that we had picked up at a farm market. Fortunately, we were able to capture the taste by making our own apple cider simple syrup by simmering fresh apple cider with brown sugar and a dash of mulling spice (we had a jar of Williams-Sonoma mulling spice in the cabinet and it was just what we needed). By simmering the syrup to reduce its volume, you are left with an intense apple flavor. The brown sugar adds just enough…

Bright and Sunny

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We are in our home away from home in Northern Michigan, and lucky for us there are plenty of local products to use to create new cocktails and plenty of inspiration to create new artwork!

We are huge fans of Cherry Republic - home to all things cherry. If we haven't already schooled you on this, the northern part of Michigan's lower peninsula is the cherry capital of the United States, and Cherry Republic produces a huge array of products that utilize the local crop. This year we discovered their Cherry Ginger Bear - a ginger spiced cherry soda. We decided that this would be perfect to use in our Northern Michigan cocktail of the season, and the result did not disappoint. This soda is similar to ginger beer, but with the addition of cherry notes.

So what better to do with ginger beer than make a Dark and Stormy - that classic highball made with dark rum and ginger beer. We were lucky to find a local white rum from Iron Fish Distillery to work into our drink, and the results g…

Farmer's Punch

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Planter’s Punch is a classic rum concoction that traces its roots to the West Indies. The first recipe for Planter’s Punch was written in verse in 1878 in Fun– a London magazine. As with all things cocktail-related, the story of the origins of Planters Punch are fuzzy. The Planters Hotel in Charleston, South Carolina and Planter’s Hotel in St. Louis have both claimed to be where this drink originated, but rum punch can be traced back to Jamaica – the birthplace of rum. One story tells of a Jamaican planter's wife who concocted it to cool down the workers. This seems rather dubious since knocking back a couple of cups of rum punch wouldn’t exactly make planters very productive. 
Recipes for Planter’s Punch include all kinds of add-ons, but the basic ingredients are dark rum, lime juice, and some sweetener. We ran across one recipe that said the secret to the perfect Planter’s Punch is fresh nutmeg. That got us thinking about using spiced rum in our variation. Fortunately, we happene…

Blackberry Mint Julep and Blackberry Mojito

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Blackberries from the farm market and mint from the garden can be turned into a simple syrup that works perfectly for cocktails, mocktails, and for topping your pancakes. 
For our cocktails, we used the syrup (recipe below) for Mojitos and Mint Juleps. We liked both cocktails, but the Blackberry Mint Julep really hit the spot. On a hot day it is refreshing to hold that frosty silver cup in your hand; however, we recently learned that proper Julep cup holding involves only gripping the top or the bottom so that the crushed ice can create a frost on the outside. While we do appreciate proper etiquette, our julep technique generally involves simply trying not to spill our drink and pacing its consumption so as to not allow the cocktail to become over-diluted.
The Mint Julep was originally made with spirits like rum and brandy, and got its start as a medicinal concoction used to settle the stomach. It traveled west from Virginia to Kentucky – where it eventually became the official drink of…

Tahoe Trio

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We recently returned from a trip to Tahoe City, California – where we spent a week hiking, enjoying the beautiful blue water of Lake Tahoe, and attended a lovely family wedding. We rented a cozy (and well equipped) mountain cabin – which was perfect for our family in almost every way. The kitchen had all the culinary tools we needed to prepare meals, but upon our arrival, we found that there were absolutely no cocktail supplies. Being located in California, there were plenty of wine glasses (and champagne flutes) but no cocktail glasses, no mixing glass or shaker, and no measuring jigger. We had considered packing some of these items, but when push came to shove, we needed the space in the suitcase for those shoes for the wedding.
Being a resourceful group, we were able to manage just fine. We didn’t want to purchase more liquor (and other ingredients) than we could use during our stay, and we needed to keep the cocktails simple enough to eyeball the measuring. We came up with a drink …