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Kojo

KojoGrab your grapefruit for this one—but all you will need is the peel. If you don't have a grapefruit for cutting the garnish—shame on you, you will have to use lemon—but you should know that the grapefruit peel in this cocktail does add an aromatic nuance that is definitely worth the effort. We are referring to the Kojo, a contemporary drink that we recently enjoyed at Hamlet, a fun little restaurant in the Pearl District of Portland, Oregon. It's a sherry cocktail selected to pair with the Spanish jamón they serve, but the drink itself was created by Washington DC's Derek Brown. We recently featured Brown's Getaway cocktail, so it was a happy coincidence to find another one of his creations at a local hot spot.

The recipe splits the base evenly between Oloroso sherry and gin, then balances lemon juice with falernum and a bit of simple syrup, finishing it off with some bitters and a healthy twist of grapefruit peel. It's a great combination of flavors and aromas, and you don't have to be eating amazing cured pig leg to enjoy it.

Kojo by Derek Brown
1 oz Oloroso sherry
1 oz gin
.5 oz lemon juice
.5 oz falernum
.25 oz simple syrup
1 dash of Angostura bitters

Stir with ice, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a healthy twist of grapefruit, expressing the oils over the glass.

Brown's original recipe calls for Green Hat Gin and The Bitter Truth's Decanter bitters. At Hamlet, they opt for Gordon's Dry gin, so you could probably use just about any London dry you have. We were very satisfied using G'Vine Floraison, a smooth but vibrantly floral gin made from grape distillate in France. It's perfect for this drink. We also substituted Angostura for the bitters. The sherry is Oloroso, and this is important. It is a dry sherry that imparts a unique nutty character. Oloroso is often the base for other sherry varieties such as sweetened cream sherry. It is barrel aged, often for many years, and because it loses it's protective flor yeast layer, it oxidizes in the barrel becoming darker and richer. We typically have a bottle of Oloroso in the refrigerator to make the fantastic Night of the Hunter cocktail for guests who like salted caramel, so here's one more reason to keep sherry around.

The complexity of this drink is wonderful. When made with the proper garnish, you get aromas of grapefruit, lemon tartness along with nutty sherry, and a lingering ginger and clove from the falernum and bitters. If you lined up all of the ingredients in falernum with the botanicals in the gin plus everything it takes to make aromatic bitters, it would look pretty intense on paper, but it works in the glass. It is complex but refreshing. Hamlet adds a bit more simple syrup to theirs, but that isn't necessary. You can taste yours and adjust accordingly, but a quarter ounce of 1:1 simple syrup seems perfect to our taste. They also serve their Kojo on the rocks, but we decided to feature it up as Derek Brown intended. It was just as delicious on the rocks, so it's obviously a versatile drink that we highly recommend. The ingredients aren't so obscure that you can't assemble them easily. Falernum used to be hard to find, but you can make your own. Otherwise, head down to Hamlet, or if you know your favorite craft cocktail bar has Oloroso sherry, they should be able to pull this off on a quiet evening.

Chestnut Cup

Chestnut Cup

Whether you enjoyed a Margarita on Cinco de Mayo or a Mint Julep for Derby Day, the first weekend in May has plenty of reasons to celebrate craft cocktails. Classics are always a good choice—they represent formulas that are often simple, but solid. Whenever a new recipe appears that rewards us with flavors and surprises us with simplicity, we take note. Such is the stuff that classics are made of. It's not always easy to produce something tasty that reads like it has been around forever. We cocktail nerds have the tendency to overthink recipes—we like to tinker—and with so many options at our disposal, it's just too tempting to add a dash of this or a spoonful of that. So, when we spotted Raul Yrastorza's Chestnut Cup in the March/April 2015 issue of Imbibe Magazine, we knew we had a winner.

The signature cocktail from Santa

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The Getaway

The Getaway Detail

Five years ago, back when we were knocking bottles around in Minnesota, Derek Brown was mixing his way toward multiple accolades in Washington DC. A two time James Beard Foundation Award semi-finalist and craft bar entrepreneur, Mr. Brown has been recognized numerous times for his professional achievements and was recently named Bartender of the Year by Imbibe Magazine. This drink has been around for several years, but we hadn't tried it until now.

We've always been a fan of cocktails that put an unusual twist on classics, so when we read about The Getaway we knew we had to try it. It has been described as a Cynar Daiquiri which is probably as good of a reference as any. Some of you following along will immediately know what that means, but for everyone else, a few links can help you understand that description. First of all, Cynar is an Click here and take a bigger gulp of this article. . .

Transform Bottom Shelf Booze into Premium Liquor

Bread Filtration

Many of our readers come to expect great things at this time of the year from Summit Sips. Year after year we share innovative recipes and unusual techniques, saving at least one special idea to kickoff the spring. This year, it's all about incredible spirits at bargain prices. We are going to describe an oddly innovative technique to transform cheap vodka into premium liquor for only fifty cents!

It's All About Filtration High-quality filtration is a technique that is often employed by spirit manufacturers to change an otherwise unremarkable product into something worth marketing. It is possible to improve flavor (and even remove color) by simply running the spirit through a filter. Good products can be made even better, and some of the most popular brands use filtration to set their product apart. For example, Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey is a filtered product. They choose not to call the

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Bicycles & Baskets

Bicycles & Baskets

This could be the perfect, simplest blend of your best-tasting ingredients. The floral/citrus Bicycles & Baskets is a whiskey-based original from Kask located here in Portland, Oregon. The menu describes this signature recipe as the perfect drink for a picnic. We won't disagree, but it's actually a drink that can be enjoyed any time. The name evokes images of pedaling leisurely toward a favorite location to enjoy the spring air or summer sun, but it's also a reference to the liqueur made from elderflowers that are supposedly picked by hand in the French hills and transported by bicycle to the distillery. Whichever visual applies for you, this might be a recipe worth scaling up to a batch that can fill a bottle for portability.

Rye whiskey has always held a leading position when it comes

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Turn Signal

Turn Signal Detail

Here's a fun cocktail that is easy to make and tastes great. It's an easy-drinking whiskey concoction that is reminiscent of a sour, but instead of the acidic tang, you get a lightly bittersweet raspberry effect. Grapefruit juice isn't a tart citrus—if anything, it's a little sweet and bitter—and what better time to explore it than at the end of winter. Sure, you could wait for warmer months to make this as a refreshing thirst quencher, but we would rather grab the fruit now and enjoy it. In addition to grapefruit which is enhanced by the Campari, the Turn Signal also contains raspberry syrup. You can make this easily enough by following our fermented raspberry syrup recipe, but you don't have to take that much time if you don't want to. You could just puree some fresh or frozen berries, strain the juice and add sugar.

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Barrel Aged Cocktails Without the Barrel

Oak Infusion

Let's jump right in with the details: We are using toasted oak chips and a charred oak stick in a mason jar to age scaled-up portions of our favorite drink recipes. The results are—in a word—amazing. We could also say surprising, or even easy. Given the fact that we have done true barrel-aging in the past, we were pleased to discover this time-saving alternative that produces results that are similar, if not better than the traditional method. It's so simple, in fact, that we plan to keep it going so that we always have aged, pre-mixed cocktails in the house. This is also so much more satisfying given the limited investment. It's hard to justify not doing this. If you have been thinking about making barrel-aged cocktails but haven't had a chance to track down a barrel—or perhaps you don't want to spend the money on

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