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Figgy Pudding

Over four years ago we had the pleasure enjoying a few drinks at the Strip Club, a wonderful little steak joint in St. Paul, Minnesota. In addition to serving its delicious namesake New York Strip done several different ways, the place also has a wonderful cocktail program. In fact, the Strip Club blossomed in this regard relatively early in the Twin Cities cocktail scene. At that time, the number of places serving great cocktails in both Minneapolis and St. Paul could arguably be counted on one hand. Still, these guys were already veterans of house made tonic, bacon-infused bourbon, bitters and so on. One such masterpiece was a drink that is no longer on the menu called Figgy Pudding.

The original concept is based on whiskey that has been infused with butternut squash. This was combined with a muddled black mission fig

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Lion's Tail and Allspice Liqueur

During the cooler months of winter it seems like everyone is interested in baking spices. Cinnamon, nutmeg, clove and allspice are seasonal favorites. Micro breweries start to churn out winterfest beer selections and cocktail bars start infusing spirits. Winter drinks are great—who doesn't love a warm toddy or a Hot Buttered Rum to help block that chill in the air? It's easy to get into the spirit of such flavors by selecting certain ingredients and recipes that use them. Liqueurs like Becherovka and Drambuie are good options because they bring a spiced element to cocktails, but today, we will take a look at Pimento Dram, also known as allspice liqueur.

One of the forgotten recipes that appears in Ted Haigh's Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails is a drink called the Lion's Tail. It's a wonderful classic that features this resurrected

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Gomme Syrup

Assorted Syrups

One of the joys of mixology, like many pursuits, is that it affords the cocktail enthusiast an opportunity to be creative. We're not just talking about the exploration of drink recipes, although that is a big part of it. In many ways, the best rewards come from making homemade ingredients. One of the easiest and perhaps the most inevitable is simple syrup, and although you can buy a commercial product off-the-shelf, it's so easy to make that buying it is rarely a consideration. After all, isn't that why it has simple in the name?

It turns out that a more appropriate name for this product is simplified syrup. As you probably know, simple syrup is merely a combination of sugar and water, but it is based on a more traditional product that also contains gum arabic. Gum or gomme syrup is better than simple syrup for several

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Secrets of the Past: Old Cocktail Books

Anyone with a sustained interest in cocktails inevitably collects a few books. Some of us find pleasure in the obscure, letting a beat-up vintage tome transport us to another place and time. Such was the case last holiday season when we were presented a gift of several old cocktail volumes. One of them entitled Prelude to Pleasure by Ogden Nash was published in 1934 as a 1000 copy limited edition for the Continental Distilling Corporation of Philadelphia. What made this book so intriguing wasn't the poetry or the dated photos and kitschy line art—it was the handwritten recipe on the last page.

The rest of the book confirms some delightful classics that appear in other publications, but we wanted to know more about this personal notation. The book was purchased in a used bookstore in St. Paul, Minnestota, and a little research reveals that a Charles Nybeck did indeed live

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Drink of the Week: Amaretto Sour

We are sometimes asked: Where do you find content? What inspires you to write about one particular topic or another? How do you come up with recpies to post? While completely original ideas do come along, it’s far more common (and often more interesting) to find inspiration among existing sources. We certainly didn’t invent the recipe for falernum, nor did we make the first homemade tonic or cola. Even barrel-aged cocktails are documented at least as far back as the first published cocktail book. Acknowledging previous accomplishments is one thing, but confirmation is so much more rewarding. Drink books both old and new are good places to start. The online cocktail community is also very collaborative. But nothing quite compares to sitting opposite a professional and watching a master

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Drink of the Week: Chaplin

Here's a great and somewhat unusual cocktail for those of you looking for a spirit-driven tipple that's a bit out of the ordinary. It comes by way of Ben Dougherty of Seattle's Zig Zag Café. It contains equal portions of bourbon, dry sherry and Ramazzotti, with a splash of Cointreau and a couple dashes of o-bits. Wait. Back up. Ramazzotti? We're guessing we couldn't slip that one past you. Like we said, this drink is a bit unusual, so it stands to reason that it might include an odd ingredient.

So, bourbon—no problem. Then we have sherry which isn't that common in cocktails but it's not unheard of. Cointreau and orange bitters—easy. But what's with this Ramazzotti? Actually, it's not that hard to find. It's another Italian Amaro, or potable bitters that happens to be a lovely aperitif. This one comes from Milan and it's

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Drink of the Week: Derby

It's one of several drinks by this name which shouldn't be too surprising. Plenty of cocktails are inspired by sporting men, the sports themselves and often the events that bring them all together. One of the more popular venues in bourbon country is the Kentucky Derby where the Mint Julep is king, but it's not the only thing worth trying. At least that's what somebody thought way back when this was invented.

This version comes to us from Trader Vic, but it also appears in Ted “Dr. Cocktail” Haigh's Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails. It's presented here as our Drink of the Week not because we recently watched the Belmont Stakes which reminded us of Churchill Downs, but because we read somewhere that it's Bourbon Day. We're not exactly sure this is an official holiday, but it's a good enough reason to

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