Featured Cocktail

Apple Rye Cocktail

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 brink 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

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

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

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

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 …

Lemon Bergamot Gimlet

In case you don’t know us personally, or haven’t read the bio on our blog, you may not realize the “The Cocktail Artist” is really a partnership between two architects (who also happen to be married to each other). One of us comes up with the recipes, does the photography, and writes the blog posts – the other one creates all of the original artwork and offers opinions on the cocktail recipes. Being architects, we sometimes let our design-sense get the better of us – meaning we have been known to purchase a bottle of booze because we like the design of the bottle.  Occasionally this backfires, but rest assured (with some creative mixology or a bit of barrel-aging) we have always been able to make use of the contents of those impulse-buy bottles.
Right now, two of the most attractive bottles in our liquor cabinet contain Italian spirits – Malfy Gin Con Limone and Italicus. Italy has always been a design trendsetter, so it’s not surprising that these bottles stand out (they even have bea…

The Seascape Cocktail

A seascape is an artist’s view of the sea - typically a beautiful scene either tranquil or menacing. What you don't generally see in a seascape is pollution. If we want this to be our reality we need to think about how we live – and how we drink.
We were invited to participate in Strawless Cocktail Week to raise awareness for the damage that is done to our waterways from plastic pollution. According to the Plastic Pollution Coalitionover 500,000,000 plastic straws are used each day in the United States. People have come to expect plastic straws in drinks - an example of extreme waste being generated for minimal convenience. These short-lived tools are usually dropped into a garbage can with no further thought, instantly becoming a source of plastic pollution. 
Let’s make a commitment to say "no" to plastic straws. We don’t use them in our cocktails. For drinks that require a straw there are options other than plastic (reusable metal straws or paper straws). So for our cont…

The Last Word and the Buzzword Cocktails

We can’t say why it has taken so many years for us to get around to trying the classic pre-prohibition cocktail “The Last Word”. It’s an equal parts mixture of gin, green Chartreuse, lime juice, and maraschino liqueur. The balance of sour (lime) and sweet (liqueur) marries perfectly with the herbal (Chartreuse and gin). So shame on us for not only ignoring this cocktail, but for not using this recipe as a launching pad for an array of variations - as so many others have done. In this article from Punch, bar owner Padraig O’Brien says that The Last Word “is like lasagna… There are 100 different variations on lasagna, but they all work. It’s about getting the ingredients and the proportions right.” By the way, O’Brien’s bar (in Astoria, Queens) is named “The Last Word”.
So we’re including the original recipe in this blog post, and a version we came up with that incorporates Aloe Liqueur (that we recently purchased on a whim while browsing through a liquor store) and mint (which is taking…

Strawberry Rhubarb Daiquiri

We’ve moved on from winter – although it seems like we bypassed spring (typically a lovely season here in Washington, D.C.) and went right into summer! The good news is that fresh produce is now available at our local farm market. During the winter we tend to drink dark spirits (bourbon, rye, brandy, dark rum) and the only fruit in our cocktails is citrus or fruit brandy. When fresh fruit becomes available, we can’t wait to get out of our rut and freshen up our cocktails with something locally grown added to a light spirit (gin, vodka, tequila, light rum).
Last week we picked up local rhubarb and strawberries at the farm market and went right home and captured their fresh flavors in a home-made simple syrup. We put this to good use in margaritas and even a rye-based cocktail, but we think that the daiquiri fully captures the fresh sweet/tart flavor of the fruit. The bonus of making a fruit syrup is that you can add it to club soda for a fresh non-alcoholic drink (or pour it on your pan…

Yacht Club Cocktail

We’re thinking warm thoughts these days. Spring has been officially here for almost a month, but we’ve barely had any decent weather. Before we know it though, we’ll be be complaining about how hot it is! Of course, we would complain less if we were at the Yacht Club sipping a cocktail.
The mixologist member of the Cocktail Artist team was perusing one of our favorite cocktail books (The Waldorf Astoria Bar Book by Frank Caiafa) and came across the recipe for the Yacht Club cocktail. We had some surplus apricot liqueur after experimenting with it in the Coronation Cocktail, and the recipe sounded like a good way to put it to use. The Waldorf’s version of the Yacht Club uses white rum, apricot liqueur, sweet vermouth, and orange bitters. As usual, we changed things around a bit to create our own spin on the drink, but we did retain the slightly pink color by using True Grenadine in place of the sweet vermouth. We wanted a bit of sweet and tart flavor and real grenadine (made from pomegr…