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Cocktail Recipes

Cocktail Recipes

Drink Like A 1940’s Socialite

Ah, the Margarita, one of the most bastardized drinks on the planet.

When you can find pre-mixed cocktails in plastic bottles, you know the drink is ruined. I am personally not a lover (or even liker) of tequila, honestly. My father used to call it “Ta-Kill-Ya,” and for me, he was almost right. We all have our tequila barfing stories and mine is just like most others, I’m sure, but I will spare you the details.

There really weren’t many opportunities for me to learn to love or appreciate tequila as a cocktail spirit. My only knowledge of it was serving up Jose Cuervo at Chi Chi’s in my late teens, or begrudgingly doing shots and praying the salt wouldn’t run out. That was how it was until I traveled to Mexico.

It was sometime in the mid 1990’s. A few girlfriends and I took a trip from San Francisco via LA to Cabo San Lucas; this was right before it became “Cabo,” aka Obnoxious-Spring-Break-American-Asshole-Takeover.


We were staying in a really nice hotel, because one of the gals had a boyfriend in high places or something. Who cares? Anyway, there was a really nice bar in the hotel, and the bartender was native to the area, and as it turns out, a very talented mixologist. One of the first questions he asked us when we sat down were what type of alcohol we usually drank and what our favorite scents were. I was really blown away and very intrigued by this question. At the time, I was very into rum and my favorite scent was either Gardenia or Orange Blossom; I couldn’t decide. I sarcastically mentioned that my drink better not be a Margarita.

Well, he smiled and went to work, quickly chopping, muddling, dashing and splashing all sorts of things into his cocktail shakers. I was focused on his bartending skills while my friends were a little more interested in his flirty commentary. I fully expected him to present us with some wild, exotic, never-before-seen concoction.

When he was finished, each one of us was presented with a beautiful, vibrantly-colored cocktail with gorgeous floral and fruit garnishes. We all asked what they were and he said: “Just take a sip and then I will tell you.” So we did. Mine was familiar, but I couldn’t place the flavors exactly. It was absolutely amazing.

Then I asked what my drink was, and he replied: “Margarita, senorita!” I almost slapped him in his stupid, attractive, nice, talented face. “Are you friggin’ kidding me?” I asked. After the shock subsided, I took another sip. I didn’t want to be rude. Maybe I was just imagining how delicious it was. Nope, it was, in fact, delicious. But how could this be?

I finally asked him what the heck kind of Margarita that was, told him that I had never tasted anything like it, and I really didn’t even like tequila. He replied: “This is a Gold Margarita, made properly with fresh ingredients and a true Mexican hand.” After begging and flirting as much as I could, he finally told me what he put in it. Ever since that night, it’s the only tequila drink I will consume and it’s the only way I will make Margaritas. I found out sometime later that Margaritas are not even really a cocktail of choice in Mexico for locals. Clearly, this bartender had a mission to teach us silly Americans how to appreciate tequila properly.


So, first a quick word about the history of the Margarita, which is a much debated topic. No one really knows who or when the Margarita was invented! I have read many accounts of purported claims of Margarita inventions, but most agree, as do I, that it is highly unlikely a person of Mexican descent actually created this cocktail. You can choose to believe it was named for Rita Hayworth (born Margarita Carmen Cansino). I mean, who wouldn’t name anything and everything for this stunning lady?


One of the most prevalent stories I decided I liked is the story of an American socialite of the 1940’s named Margaret ‘Margarita’ Sames. A Dallas, Texas native, she was known for throwing lavish parties at her Acapulco holiday home and credited herself with creating the drink in 1948. Among her well-connected guests was Tommy Hilton, who eventually added the drink to the bar menu at his hotel chain. And there you have it. Thanks a lot, lady!


So, seriously, if you do not love tequila, but you want to be cool like all the other kids and drink a Margarita, drink it like this.  Here is my recipe:

  • 3 Jiggers Reposado Tequila (Dos Lunas is a really nice choice and well priced; a quality tequila is absolutely necessary)
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Cointreau
  • 2 Teaspoons Partida Agave Syrup
  • 2 Jiggers Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice (sweet & sour mix is just forbidden, and plain gross!)
  • 2 Jiggers Fresh Squeeze Orange Juice (this is a key ingredient)

Shake well with ice. Put some muscle into it! Then wet the rim of a wide rim cocktail glass.
Pour some coarse Kosher salt onto a small plate, tip the glass upside down, and turn like a screw to coat the rim with salt.

Strain and pour the Margarita into your salted glass, and garnish with a fresh lime and fresh orange wheel.

If you don’t have too many, I can almost promise there won’t be any barfing stories to follow this cocktail.


Cocktail Recipes

It’s Tax Season, Hand Me A Drink!

You are either someone who is usually prepared in life or you are a procrastinator. Perhaps you have already filed your taxes and spent your return on an amazing pair of shoes or a snappy new tie.

However, if you own a business or property, had a move or maybe a divorce, or bought or sold a house, you may wait until the very last minute to file your taxes. In either case, my friend, you need a drink to celebrate or cope with the pain.

Well, I have the perfect cocktail for you called The Income Tax Cocktail. True story.

The Income Tax Cocktail is actually the Bronx Cocktail (not to be confused with the Brooklyn Cocktail; we take our burroughs very seriously), with a couple dashes of bitters added.

As we have discussed previously, I like to alter every recipe I come across. So, here is my version of this quick and easy little ditty that is sure to please a crowd, or keep one from jumping out a window when the tax bill arrives.

  • 1 1/2 jiggers of Organic Prairie Gin
  • 1 teaspoon Dry Vermouth
  • 1 teaspoon Sweet Vermouth (I know, crazy right? Trust me…)
  • 1 jigger of Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice
  • 1 jigger of Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
  • 2 dashes Orange Bitters
  • Shake with ice in a cocktail shaker and strain into a vintage cocktail glass
  • Many recipes suggest to garnish with an orange wheel. When using my vintage goblets, I prefer rind corkscrews or no garnish at all as they over- take the delicate glass, so I would suggest to garnish based on your glass of choice.


And voila, there you have it, a refreshing simple-to-make but complex-to-taste vintage cocktail! So, please drink one per day until April 15th. Doctor’s orders!




Cocktail Recipes

The French 75, Ooh La La

This delicious cocktail is literally heaven in a glass. Okay, well maybe not literally, but pretty friggin close.

I recently had a French themed dinner party, for which I chose the French 75 as our aperitif. Of course since I can never be satisfied with a regular old recipe, I had to play with and be all mad scientist about it. Usually I will test out a few trial runs by myself so that I don’t poison my guests, or at least start the night out with the fancy flavor of vomit on their palettes. That happened once.

This night, however, I wasn’t feeling my usual self and had taken on a rather large 4 course menu with many complex elements, so I decided to wing it. Screw it if they don’t like it, it’s booze, what the hell can go so wrong with booze? I know, the vomit thing.

Anyway, I searched out a few recipes in one of my favorite resources, an amazing little cocktail book ‘Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails’ suggested by some dear friends and given to me by the wonderful man in my life.

And there it was: the French 75. The photo looked splendid, and the drink sounded very clean and refreshing, perfect to prepare the pallet for my meal.

The story goes that this lovely cocktail is named after the French 75-mm gun, model of 1897. This bit of heavy artillery was the mainstay weapon of WWI, and its recoil system made for soft, smooth operation. It was really the first technical weaponry advance of the twentieth century, and its use continued into WWII.

This cocktail was very popular in the US at the famed Stork Club in New York, my absolute dream club! Too bad it closed 10 years before I was born. But just imagine sitting in the Stork Club, sipping on a French 75 while a bedazzled singer croons soft ballads in the background.

So I decided it’s bad ass and smooth. I like it, done deal!


To my surprise, the simple recipe reads like this; 2 ounces of gin, 1 ounce of lemon juice, 2 teaspoons of sugar or 1 teaspoon of simple syrup and champagne to fill the glass.

Hmmm, that’s it? That’s all? It sounded so easy and boring, there is no way that was it.

So I said ‘screw it’ and decided to mess with it. I had time for just 1 test run and I didn’t want to be passed out on the floor with my crinoline over my head before the guests arrived.

Here is the Sailor version of the French 75:

  • 2 ounces of basil infused gin ( my fav gin at the moment is this organic Prairie gin)
  • 1/2 ounce of fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 ounce of fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon of homemade simple syrup from organic raw sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon of apricot brandy
  • pink champagne to fill the glass (I usually prefer vintage goblets, but for this I chose a flute)
  • garnish with a lemon rind twist rolled in raw sugar

And voila! It was superb.

So there you have it, my ooh la la for the evening. Try it at your next cocktail party or dinner and let me know what you think.



Cocktail Recipes

I Love Bourbon

So I thought it would be nice to carve out a little cottage in a dark, dusty corner of the internet; a place for me to stack my recipes, throw down my cocktail concoctions, hang my photos, display some of my beloved vintage items from my vast collection, and pin notes about my favorite re-purposing designs.

And here we are! What better way to start filling up my little cottage than with my favorite spirit, bourbon. And my favorite bourbon at the moment is Bulleit: flavorful, complex and priced really well.

Bourbon not only makes amazing Old Fashioned’s (my favorite cocktail), but it is one of my favorite go-to ingredients when cooking and baking. Bourbon Apple Pie, yes please! Bourbon French Toast, oh yeah! Bourbon soaked peach preserves, yes M’am!

There is definitely a bit of a mad scientist somewhere inside my crazy noggin. I love to mix unusual and complex flavors with a little bit of praying, and it usually turns out pretty yummy. And when it doesn’t, well, just have another cocktail!

Each summer I grab as many fresh cherries as I can (always organic), grab a stack of my trusty little mason jars, stuff those puppies in tight, and pour in as much bourbon as I can fit. If I can get a hold of tobacco leaves, I might just sprinkle in a tiny bit. And I always prep one jar to be a kit for my favorite cocktail: just add 1 orange’s full rind and a spoonful of sugar. It’s a fabulous way to mix an amazing Old Fashioned!


After a few weeks (or even a few months, really), the cherries will be deliciously spicy and the kick is pretty fun.  Spirit infusing is so much fun and the possibilities are endless, I will definitely pin more of my little crazy infusion recipes here in the future.

Enjoy and cheers!