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Death in the Gulf Stream

Something we often admire about classic cocktails is their simplicity. We suppose early recipes had the advantage of being first to attempt basic combinations. Such is the case, for instance, with the Daiquiri: rum, lime and sugar—a favorite of rum lovers everywhere, including at least one famous writer from the Florida Keys. It shouldn't surprise you to know that in addition to his reputation for enjoying such drinks, Ernest Hemingway also had a hand in creating a few. One of them is called Death in the Gulf Stream, and it is both easy and efficient.

Cocktail construction efficiency isn't something we think about very often. In a typical setting, one has plenty of ice, a sink to rinse tools and glassware, and just a general concern for making the best use of every step and ingredient—it's the end result that counts. Need to shake a drink over ice,

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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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Barrel Aged Cocktails Without the Barrel

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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Batches and Bowls

Whether you are prepping for a weekend party or a spring picnic (we are probably several months early for that), you may be looking for ways to enjoy the event and the company of your guests without spending time mixing individual cocktails on request. Beer and wine are easy options, but you shouldn't have to sacrifice good flavors and quality ingredients just because you'd rather join the party instead of busily shaking craft cocktails. As log as you are willing to do some preparation a day or so ahead of time, you don't need to play bartender. We are talking about batched cocktails—a common request we get from friends who are either searching for the perfect recipe or are interested in techniques they can leverage to make the process easier once guests arrive.

For us, the Super Bowl refers to any vessel large enough to hold a batch of Philadelphia

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Travel Cocktail Kit

Not long ago, someone sent us the link to a clever gift item called the Carry On Cocktail Kit. We checked the link, read the descriptions, viewed the pictures and decided to make our own. To be fair, we haven't actually had our hands on one of these commercial kits, as they are still listed as a pre-order item on the website, but we did consider placing an order. It's basically a tin box that you toss into your carry-on baggage when traveling that enables you to construct two Old Fashioned cocktails while in-flight. For only $24 it seems like a reasonable price to pay for such a fun item. The idea alone is fantastic, but we immediately started thinking about ways we could improve upon it. We decided it would be a fun project and that we could share our results and hopefully stir up a bit of

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Palmetto

Despite the improved quality and availability of citrus in winter, colder months always seem better suited for spirit-driven cocktails. Whiskey usually comes to mind, but other spirits also fill the need. Many classics also include vermouth, and the most typical recipes seem to start with the letter M, such as the Martini, the Manhattan, and the Martinez. Setting gin and whiskey aside for the moment, there is another classic cocktail in this family that contains rum.

Most folks have never even heard of the Palmetto cocktail, not because it isn't any good, but because it contains vermouth. You see, vermouth has been mistreated over the years, often banished to the back of the cabinet only to collect dust. People claim they dislike the taste of it. We find this hard to believe—if such claims are made honestly, they

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Egg Nog

For several years running we have resisted making egg nog after we read about a process that includes aging. This possibly ill-conceived idea starts with a basic egg, dairy and brandy recipe that accompanies an understanding that the alcohol will fortify the mixture and protect it from going bad during the weeks or months it is allowed to age. Although we have seen other references to aged egg nog, we never completely understood why aging is even necessary. Do eggs and dairy improve with time? Certainly, flavors can develop as ingredients are allowed to combine, but aging a homemade recipe with raw eggs and milk doesn't sound very appealing. Such a notion seems borrowed from the 1988 sci-fi film Alien Nation in which Newcomer Sam Francisco (a humanoid extra-terrestrial played by Mandy Patinkin) guzzles past-due cartons of sour milk as though it were fine wine, checking the sell-by-date and proclaiming

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