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The first time we came across Amer Picon it was when we read the recipe for the Brooklyn Cocktail in Ted "Dr. Cocktail" Haigh's excellent book, Vintage Spirits & Forgotten Cocktails. At the time, we were more interested in exploring the Brooklyn variations, adored by many and no doubt our favorite class of modern cocktails (drinks like the Red Hook, Greenpoint, Bensonhurst and others). Yet, we never bothered with the Brooklyn, which seems almost absurd at this point. We will get there soon, however.

The problem with the original Brooklyn is the Amer Picon, a bitter orange ingredient from France that is simply unavailable in the US. There are alternatives. Ted Haigh recommends using Torani Amer which may or may not be difficult to find, while David Wondrich recommends subbing Amaro CiaoCiarro and orange bitters. Seattle's Jamie Boudreau even tried whipping up a house-made

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Tailspin

Well, the holiday season is just around the corner! Too soon? Ok, then let's have a little distraction before we deal with lots of food, family, gifts and snow. Today, we are stirring a drink called the Tailspin. This is a lovely, spirit-driven classic that follows the same formula as the Bijou cocktail, only instead of orange bitters, the Tailspin uses Campari.

A few things stand out here. First, this gin drink combines the three main ingredients in equal proportions. That makes it fast and easy to remember. The second is that as a gin drink, the gin is not the dominant flavor—not by a long shot. As such, we prefer the spirit to play its supporting role without distracting us with intense juniper. Modern dry gins work well, but we usually reach for Plymouth.

Tailspin 1 oz gin 1 oz sweet vermouth 1 oz Green Chartreuse 1 dash

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Bourbon Bijou

Park Kitchen in Portland, Oregon makes a lovely drink they call the Bourbon Bijou. You may recall the Bijou cocktail we posted several years ago which is the inspiration for this whiskey-based variation. The original is a gin drink with over a century of history, whereas this one is a modern riff. We like them both because they are tasty and easy to make. That translates to "no fresh anything required" which means you can throw one together for yourself or a guest while you consider more involved alternatives. It's also a spirit-driven recipe for bolder palates (which is perfect for us) and another excuse to use Chartreuse.

Bourbon Bijou at Park Kitchen, Portland, OR 1 oz bourbon 1 oz green Chartreuse 1 oz Cocchi Di Torino Italian vermouth 1 dash 50/50 orange bitters

Add all to a mixing glass and stir with ice until cold. Strain into

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Green Glacier

Here's a drink we jotted down several years ago while reading about Chartreuse. It's no secret that this complex herbal elixir is a favorite at Summit Sips—as it is among most cocktail fanatics. One of the more interesting ways to use it is to add a little green Chartreuse to a mug of hot cocoa and top with lightly whipped cream. The Verte Chaud, as Jamie Boudreau calls it, is a combination so wonderfully delicious that it once inspired us to spend an entire afternoon making Chartreuse-flavored chocolate truffles. However, making gourmet candy or even good hot chocolate isn't always practical (forget powder—think melted high-quality bittersweet chocolate, warmed milk or cream, etc.). So, when we read a post by Mr. Boudreau some years back describing a seemingly ridiculous and indulgent cold cocktail that used brandy and creme de cacao in lieu of hot chocolate, we

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Naked and Famous

There's a great passage in the new Death & Co cocktail book that describes the process they use for vetting new additions to the menu. It's basically an interactive taste test with one bartender whipping up a new drink and all of the others making suggestions about proportions or ingredients. It helped us realize that perfecting a new recipe is often an iterative process, and settling on a final list of ingredients can be collaborative, but requires that one has access to (if not knowledge of) a vast array of possibilities. Sure, it's possible to hit incredible combinations right off the bat, but craft cocktail bars can even explore alternative brands allowing a recipe to be perfected to an extreme that most customers probably never realize—and it doesn't always lead to choices that are the most expensive or obscure.

Here's an agave recipe that caught our eye from the

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Drink with No Name: The Harrington

This drink started life in the 1990s without a name. It was originally created by internet blogging pioneer and Wired Magazine's online cocktail writer, Paul Harrington. Back then, Paul went by the nickname the Alchemist and described this drink on the site as an unnamed recipe that can reveal someone's ability to appreciate intense flavor—a description that is rather surprising considering the fact that vodka is flavor-neutral. Of course, he wasn't referring to the base spirit in this cocktail. The intensity comes from the strong, herbal melange in Chartreuse which can be quite a shock to first-timers. Even in small proportions, Chartreuse can easily take over a recipe, but with good vodka the effect is toned down so you can enjoy it—like a luxurious classic that remains lightly sweet and approachable.

Any Chartreuse fan is often looking for a recipe to enjoy their favorite elixir, yet few of us

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Montego Bay

During a recent visit to the Red Star Tavern in Portland, Oregon, Brandon Lockman—the creative genius behind the bar—shared his recipe for a delicious cocktail on the menu right now called the Montego Bay. On the page, the recipe itself is basically a Daiquiri variant at its heart. But as we will explain, this one is complex enough for it to land somewhere in Tiki territory alongside frightful favorites like the Zombie—although it's not described that way on the menu. The fact that it uses Banks 5 Island Rum was enough to captivate our interest, and now that we can finally make a proper Paddington with it, we were eager for another great recipe to share.

We aren't entirely certain why Lockman calls this the Montego Bay—perhaps geography plays

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