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Elixir de Amontillado

The plain old Champagne Cocktail is a classic from a bygone era that has remained unchanged since it was invented in the 1800's. Back then, all you did was drop a sugar cube into a flute, douse it with a few dashes of bitters, add bubbly and maybe garnish with a piece of lemon peel. There's not much to it. The sugar cube generates bubbles as it dissolves, more or less carrying the scent and flavor of the bitters throughout. You would be forgiven if you decided not to sacrifice good sparkling wine to this process. Even if it sounds exciting, you might not notice the effect which is probably why you don't see anyone drinking these. At some point, folks started adding other ingredients to give sparkling cocktails a bit more interest. For example, the Casino Cocktail includes a cognac float, and the Kir Royale skips the sugar

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Kojo

Grab 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

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Hunting Vest

There's a restaurant on Southeast Division Street in Portland, Oregon called The Woodsman Tavern. The charcoal-fired local fare as well as the decor pays homage to Pacific Northwest traditions and the rich logging history of the region. The place has a sort of rustic elegance that is part drinking tavern part fancy restaurant. The experience is punctuated with a bar program created by Evan Zimmerman, the local mixology genius responsible for the success of more than a few cocktail menus around Portland. We featured another one of Zimmerman's creations, the Saw Tooth last summer.

This time around, we have a signature cocktail that features a simple but unusual ingredient: charred cedar-infused Campari. The drink is called the Hunting Vest and it has been written up by a couple local publications since The Woodsman Tavern opened. It seems to be seasonally available, so if you visit the restaurant and

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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: Sherry Cobbler

If ever you find yourself thumbing through the pages of old cocktail books, you will inevitably make your way past several entries involving sherry. They are easy to ignore as you search for something that sounds more exciting—maybe a cocktail based on whiskey or gin. After all, when was the last time you actually heard someone ordering a glass of sherry? Furthermore, have you ever seen a sherry cocktail on any bar menu in your entire life? Sure, most of us can probably remember watching Julia Child using sherry occasionally in her recipes on TV (or was it Dan Aykroyd on SNL?), but to me, sherry has always seemed better suited for the kitchen cabinet than the classic cocktail bar. Boy, was I wrong.

Having ignored it for far too long, I decided it was finally time to challenge my opinion about sherry and to use it as the base

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Using Salt In Cocktails

If life on earth started in the sea, it might explain why most of us consider food "unseasoned" without a little salt. It's one of our five (six) primary tastes and it's fundamental in the culinary world. Yet, not many cocktails embrace this flavor. Perhaps drinks are meant to be refreshing and thirst-quenching—a characteristic that is incongruous with salt. However, if added in small amounts, salt can enhance other flavors just like it does with food. Margarita fans recognize that salt tastes great with lime and tequila. Also, some muddled ingredients such as cucumber will benefit by adding a scant pinch beforehand. But generally speaking, salt is largely ignored in cocktails with only a few exceptions here and there that incorporate it nicely. When it is used, it's often crystals on the rim of the glass or sprinkles upon a drink's surface as a garnish. But what if you

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Drink Of The Week: Fog Cutter

Last weekend we got hit with our first snow in the Twin Cities, and although I previously mentioned how the colder, darker months inspire spiritous cocktails, this time the shoveling and the cold had me longing for the tropics. I'm no Tiki expert, but it wouldn't be the first time I've settled on an alluring Polynesian classic to brighten my spirits. More than just a fruity rum drink, it may surprise you that this cocktail contains three different base spirits and multiple citrus flavors. It's complex, balanced and delicious, with a history firmly planted in the Tiki movement. Moreover, it contains orgeat, the darling of homemade simple syrups.

The Fog Cutter has had its share of variations too, as one might expect with so many ingredients. Some bar recipes have even blindly suggested pouring everything from the speed rail into the mixing glass. That would never do, and

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