The “L” Word


by Raul Faria

I created the “L” Word cocktail for a charity event put on by Backbar USA benefiting Tony Abou Ganim’s Helen David Relief Fund that benefits Bartenders affected by breast cancer. It was called “For the Love of Cocktails” and it tasked 14 Mixologists to create a cocktail themed around love and Valentines Day featuring 14 amazing spirits. I was lucky enough to get Woodford Reserve Double Oak for my base spirit. A truly amazing Bourbon.

My inspiration for the “L” Word was the cocktail the Last Word and I decided to create my own version utilizing St Germain Elderflower Liqueur and rose water instead of the Luxardo Maraschino, lemon instead of lime and to add fresh strawberries. I figured what says Valentines Day more than flowers and strawberries? I also wanted to incorporate another Valentines Day staple the  conversation heart. The candy garnish featured the Helen David Relief Fund logo and all the components of the cocktail as well. Lets make an “L” word.

Lets get our tools together; we will need our Boston Shaker, Hawthorne Strainer, a jigger with 1.5 oz, a 1 oz and a .75 oz measure, our Double-Strainer, and an 8-10 oz cocktail glass. Our shopping list will include Woodford Reserve Double Oak, Yellow Chartreuse, St Germain, Lemons, Strawberries, and Rose Water. Optionally you will need 2 pounds of powdered sugar, gelatin or agar agar, a large cutting board as our clean sanitized counter top, a Kitchen Aid Mixer, a rolling pin, and red food coloring…its a Valentines Day cocktail…its gotta be pink 🙂

We can begin by getting our prep out of the way If utilizing the super cool convo heart garnish. Be sure to plan ahead as these will need 24 hours to set.

Infused Conversation Hearts– This candy is super simple combination of sugar, Gelatin (or Agar Agar for a Vegan friendly option) and sugar. Begin by adding .25 oz of gelatin or agar agar, 1 oz of corn syrup, 1 cup of hot water and microwave for 30 seconds. Be sure mixture is blended smooth then add to Kitchen Aid mixer bowl. Now add 1 cup of powdered sugar from our 2lb bag. Mix on the lowest setting until blended. Keep adding all the sugar cup by cup until we get a sticky ball of dough. Once its all in there lets add our flavoring. We will need 2 oz of Woodford Double Barrel, 1 oz of St Germaine, 1 oz Yellow Chartreuse, .5 oz strawberry flavoring, .5 oz of lemon flavoring, .25 oz rose water and a barspoon of red food coloring. Your dough ball is now gonna be SUPER sticky. Time to add more powdered sugar. Keep adding and mixing until we get a dryer, more manageable dough ball. Before we start kneading the dough and rolling it out, we will need to prep our cutting board with a layer of powdered sugar so it doesn’t stick to it too much. Now lets lay the dough ball out and roll it flat. Cut into 4 flattened squares about 1/4 inch think. Start using the heart shaped cookie cutter to make our convo hearts. Insert cocktail garnish picks into the hearts and set them out on a silpat or powdered sugar lined tray to dry out. Re-knead any remaining dough and repeat for the remaining sections. If you do not have the cocktail picks you can cut a slice into a whole strawberry and add the garnish like the photo above.

Strawberries– We will be utilizing trimmed and sliced strawberries. The trimmed strawberries will be used for muddling. We simply need to remove the stems from the strawberries with a pairing knife. For the slices we will slice the strawberries by setting them down on the fat end and slicing down. Creating heart shaped slices and keeping the leafy green parts.

1) We can begin by adding 2-3 (depending on size) trimmed strawberries to the mixing glass. Always be sure all fruit is washed before it is used in the cocktail or even as a garnish.

2) Next lets add our 1 oz of St Germain. We’ve used this truly incredible elderflower liqueur from France in our  Strawberry Truth and our God save the Queen. Its got the aromatics and flavors of elderflower plus the perfect level of sweetness.

3) Now we will add just a drop of rose water. When I say a drop I mean a DROP. This stuff goes a looooong way so dispense with care unless you feel like drinking perfume.

4) Lets muddle our ingredients.

5) Now that we have our ingredients muddled lets add our 1 oz of our Yellow Chartreuse. Ahhh the “Elixir of long life”. Love this stuff. Technically the Green Chartreuse was the old school alchemists secret recipe, the Yellow variant was introduced to the world by the Carthusian Monks in 1838 (see brand spanking new) and is generally more accessible in flavor and in cocktail construction. It is said that Yellow Chartreuse includes saffron giving the distinctive yellow color. Only two Carthusian Monks know the complete 130 plants, herbs and flowers in this secret recipe.

6) Time to add our 1 oz of lemon juice. Slice our lemons and utilizing our citrus press we can squeeze right into the jigger. If you plan on making more than one Id recommend squeezing them into a separate container through a double-strainer to catch all the pulp and seeds. Store for later use.

7) Lets add our 1.5 oz of Woodford Reserve Double Oak. It smells like fresh wood right after a rain. Wonderful aromas and flavors of oak, toffee, caramel and also an oaky, almost tannic dry finish. Simply perfect in my humble opinion. Woodford Double Oak is made by taking the traditional Woodford Reserve and utilizing a high toast and very light char barrel to mellow in for around 9 months. Woodford spends 6-7 years in high toast and light char barrels so Master Distiller Chris Morris sought to increase the influence and the presence of the oak plus present it in a different way in terms of flavor. The Double Oak achieves this by adding that additional resting period in a barrel that is toasted and charred in a different manner. This stuff may be hard to find but its worth the effort. If you cant find the Double Oak feel free to use Woodford Reserve in this recipe.

8) Next add ice and shake! Double-strain into our chilled 8-10 oz cocktail glass and garnish with a strawberry slice and the optional but very cool infused conversation heart. Enjoy!

The “L” Word– 3 trimmed strawberries, 1 oz of St Germain, 1 oz lemon juice, muddle ingredients, add 1 oz Yellow Chartreuse, 1.5 oz Woodford Double Oak, and a drop of rose water, shake double-strain into chilled 8-10 oz cocktail glass. Garnish with strawberry slices and the optional Infused Conversation Heart.

A very special thank you to Tony Abou Ganim for all that he does to advance the craft of Bartending. Be sure to visit to find out how you can help out the Helen David Relief Fund and check out Tony Abou Ganim’s Books and Barware or even find out where to catch the Modern Mixologist live.

Also a big thank you of course to everyone at Backbar USA, Tim Haughinberry, Flor Bernal Gonzalez, Lucia Cifonelli, Jana Blackburn, and Josh Payne for putting on one of the most fun events featuring craft cocktails the city of Las Vegas has ever seen. The talent in the room and their creations were simply overwhelming and I was humbled to be among them.

Click here to check out the video of “For the Love of Cocktails” courtesy of Backbar USA

Click here to check out Tony Abou Ganim, Tim Haughinberry and myself as we discuss the Helen David Relief Fund and For the Love of Cocktails.

Below are some pics from the Party. Thanks to Mona Shield Payne for the pro pics!




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Peruvian Love


by Wendy Hodges

Peruvian Love is a delicate and floral twist on the very popular cosmopolitan. It is made with the oh so elegant achalodo pisco, La Diablada, (Pisco is an unaged brandy, but more on that later.) Cointreau, fresh squeezed lime juice, simple syrup, splash of cranberry juice, and a few drops of bar keep lavender bitters. Garnish for this beautiful cocktail has to enhance its floral components and give it a “wow” factor, so I chose edible flowers to accentuate my new favorite springtime cocktail.

Before I go into details of making this cocktail I want to share with you a little about the main spirit in it. Pisco is an unaged, single grape varietal, brandy that can only be made in two countries. Peru and Chili. While both countries have laws involved in the distilling of pisco, the Peruvian laws (in my humble opinion) truly encompass the simplicity and beauty that is pisco. Because I’m such a huge fan of this remarkable spirit, I will focus this article on the Peruvian piscos. By law, Peruvian pisco can only be made from a single grape varietal. They can use any of the approved varietals grown in Peru, but can only distill them one varietal at a time.

There are a few types of pisco. Pisco puro, aromatic pisco, mosto verde, and achalado.

We will be using an achalado pisco in this cocktail. An achalado pisco is a blended pisco that uses 2 or more grape varietals. Usually consisting of both aromatic and non aromatic distilates. Every achalado is different depending on the producer. Usually family recipes are secretly guarded and passed down from generation to generation.

Now that you know what our base ingredient is, let’s make the cocktail.

You will need: chilled martini glass, Jigger, Boston Shaker, Hawthorne Strainer and ice.

.75 oz Fresh lime juice

splash of cranberry juice

.5 oz Simple syrup

.75 oz Cointreau

1.5 oz La Diablada pisco

4 drops Lavender bitters

Garish with Edible flowers

Pour first 5 ingredients in mixing glass and fill with ice. Shake vigorously. Strain into chilled martini glass. Add lavender bitters on top and garnish with flower.

You could also use a small spray bottle to float the perfect amount of bitters on top.


Be sure to visit Wendy Hodges at the Fusion Mixology Bar at the Palazzo Resort Hotel and Casino.

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What is Mezcal?


by Raul Faria

Mezcal is treated by those uneducated in spirits and a large portion of general consumers as the stuff with the worm in it. I’ll be the first to tell you that the stuff with the worm has nothing to do with Mezcal and everything about selling garbage to ignorant tourists looking for the donkey show in Tijajuana. Unauthentic, stereotypical, garbage. So what then is real Mezcal? Well thanks to the hard work of folks like Ron Cooper of Del Maguey, Steve Olson of BAR to name a few and of course the growers and distillers of this carefully crafted artisanal product with roots in ancient native culture, we now know.

I like to think of Mezcal as the dark, brooding, brainy, complex, exotic, older, Goth sister to the bubbly, bouncy, popular and pretty cheerleader, younger sister known as Tequila. See Tequila gets invited to all the parties, is probably the most common shot called for and is the main ingredient in the most popular cocktail in the world, the Margarita. Tequila is approachable and easily understood. Mezcal however, can be dark and smoky, light, herbal, vegetal, or any combination of those factors and more. Its complex and doesnt fit easily in any box. The rebel that refuses to go along with the status quo. I like Tequila (check out my impressions of the Don Julio line for proof) but I love Mezcal, for all the reasons I just listed. Its got as much flavor and depth as any fine Scotch and all the agricultural factors that go into the bottle are simply incredible.

I do want to repeat that I truly dig Tequila. 100% blue agave Tequila in all its variations. There is depth and craftsmanship in that category for sure but when it is stacked against the varying flavor profiles found in Mezcal it is simply no contest In my opinion in terms of variety. There are so many factors that will effect the final product like type of agave used, where the agave was grown (terroir), how the agave was processed, even where it was fermented can have a huge effect on the final product as Mezcal is fermented in open air vessels.

In Mezcal, one of the most important and easily detectable flavor variant would have to be type of agave used. To be called Tequila it must be made with one specific agave variety, Agave Weber Azul (Agave Tequilana), commonly known as Blue Agave. Generally the flavor variations in tequila will usually come from how the agaves were cooked and how long it spent in barrel. These factors do effect flavor and create enough variety in the Tequila class to keep folks interested. Tequila’s main benefit in cocktail construction is a consistent flavor throughout, making it great for cocktails. In Mezcal making there is no set rule about which agave must be used so you get such a drastic and fun variation in flavor with just that one factor alone. There are currently 42 Agave species approved by the Mexican government for Mezcal production! Now combine that with terrior, process and ferentation variations…well the possibilties are almost endless. Barrel aging, which is not typically done,  is just now becoming a thing for some Mezcal producers, so if that catches on you could have exponentially more variation. Tobala Anejo in used Congac casks? Wild Espadin Reposado in Sherry Oak casks? Wild Tepextate Extra Anejo in used Bourbon barrels? Sign me up 🙂

My point here is that Mezcal is fun. Why? Because there is so much flavor variation to explore and so much history and craftmanship. Its worth seeking out the good stuff, Del Maguey, Delirio, La Nina, Ilegal to name a few. I got the opportunity to try some Mezcal during the Manhattan Cocktail Classic at the amazing Mayahuel and also during Arizona Cocktail week at the Valley Ho hotel and Im going to share with you my impressions of what I tasted. This will give you an idea of the variety of flavor found in these bottles and you may also spot some common threads that will give you of good idea of what to expect and the surprises that await. Find out for yourselves, check it out online or at your favorite Tequila bar. Try mixing your favorite Tequila cocktail with a smoother, lighter bodied Mezcal like the Delirio Blanco or instead of an after dinner Scotch grab a glass of Del Maguey Single Village series instead. I’ll leave you with the traditional cheers when drinking Mezcal, Stigibeu! (pronounced stee-jee-bay-oo)


Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal, Minero, Santa Catarina Minas, Oaxaca (espadin/angustifolia) 49%- ceramic/bamboo still

Aroma– musty cave, waterfall, pond, herbal, reminded me of the Disneyland ride Pirates of the Caribbean.

Taste– mild spice and vanilla, white pepper, very smooth with herbal and floral notes.

Finish– Warming finish with lingering herbal white pepper notes.


Del maguey single village Mezcal, santo Domingo albarradas, Oaxaca (espadin/angustifolia) 48%- These agave are grown at especially high altitude and broken with bats in lieu of the Tohona or grinding wheel.

Aroma– buttery,  with rich fruit aromas.

Taste– Tamarind, Starfruit, with a spicy cinnamon heat.

Finish– warming, clean, mint, lingering faint cellar note.


Bacanora Cielo Rojo Blanco, Sonora (Wild Espadin known also as Sylevestre utilized in the Cielo Rojo Blanco) 42%

Bacanora is a Mezcal with its own designation of origin and was actually illegal until 1992. This Mezcal can be made in multiple locations and is made utilizing Wild Espadin agave varieties. It is now considered the state drink of Sonora where it originated.

Aroma– buttery,  citrus, with faint ripe tropical fruit.

Taste– clean, lush water and faint herbal mint with mild spicy cinnamon heat.

Finish– clean, mild minty finish.


Ocho Cientos Sotol Blanco, Chihuahua (Dasylirion-Sotol) 43% abv

Sotol is another agave spirit, or Mezcal, that isn’t even made from agave. See Sotol or the Dasylirion is not technically an agave and is actually a member of the garlic and onion family. The Sotol takes about 10-15 years to reach maturity and it takes an entire plant to make one bottle. Sotol is a protected designation of origin, must be made from 100% Sotol and is considered the state drink of Chihuahua.

Aroma– big vegetal, lettuce, floral mint, faint buttery note.

Taste– definitive minty, herbal.

Finish– astringent and clean, minty lingering veggies.


Del maguey single village, Tobala, Oaxaca (tobala/potatorum) 45% abv

Aroma– green bell pepper, herbal mint with faint earthy undertones.

Taste– minty, herbal, earthy mushroom or beet vegetal notes with a little butter.

Finish– clean and minty, with roast vegetal smoke lingering.


El Jolgorio Pechuga, Santiago Matalan, Oaxaca (Wild Espadin/Angustifolia)- 43% abv

Pechuga is a distilling tradition in which a already distilled batch of mescal is redistilled with various fruits and other grains….and a wild turkey breast. It is hung over distilling tank and during this second distillation, the steam passes through the turkey and is condensed and collected as Pechuga. The fats and proteins are said to add texture, mouthfeel and acts to soften and balance the overall flavor between the smokiness and the added fruits and grains.

Aroma– heat, mild vegetal notes and roast vegetable smoke.

Taste– smooth velvety mouthfeel, mild vegetal flavor with lush water, luxurious texture.

Finish– smokey roast vegetable finish.


llegal Mezcal repasado, Santiago Matatlan, Oaxaca (espadin/angustifolia) 40% abv

Aroma– vanilla, sweet aroma. Honey, faint smoke.

Taste– clean, light smoke, very mellow,mild honey vanilla.

Finish– lingering vanilla.


Delirio Anejo, Santiago Matatlan, Oaxaca (espadin/angustifolia) 40% abv

Aroma– big vanilla, oaky, with a bit of smoke and a faint cellar note.

Taste– smokey with a touch of honey, smooth texture and mouthfeel, a very round spirit.

Finish– lingering soft honey.


Del Maguey San Jose Rio Minas, Oaxaca (Espadin) 48% abv

Aroma– a bit sour, a little sweet, with notes of smoke.

Taste– big charcoal, herbal, charcoal smoke.

Finish– clean, almost minty, mint like.


Del Maguey Wild Papalometl, San Pedro Teozacoalco (Wild Papalome) 45% abv

Aroma– vegetal, agave sugar, mild, soft aroma.

Taste-sweet start, smoke, very much like a blended scotch.

Finish– smoke, strong cinnamon spice, long finish, loooong finish.


Del Maguey Wild Tepextate (Wild Marmorata) 45% abv

Just to show you how unique our individual palettes can be, check out my impressions versus those listed on the site. Totally different! I was so concerned I actually had to write the wonderful and amazing Misty Kalkofen and Mr Steve Olson himself to make sure I had tasted the right stuff. Remember with these types of impression guides it is merely to share an experience and provide a rough expectation of flavor.

Aroma– sweet jalapeño pepper, green pepper, bright veggies, shishito.

Taste-shishito and bell peppers, lush vegetable, faint floral notes.

Finish-astringent, clean, long.

Id like to thank Misty Kalkofen and Steve Olson for the help with my flavor concern in regards to the Tepextate and also for helping all of us understand this amazing spirit better. Thanks also to Ron Cooper of Del Maguey for putting on the tasting and for the folks at Mayahuel for hosting us. Thank you also to everyone involved in producing this year’s Arizona Cocktail Week and especially for the Mezcal Seminar that was held at the Valley Ho. Be sure to visit Del Maguey’s website for all the details on their extensive line. I would definitely recommend a visit to Steve Olson’s for all things Steve. If you are planning a vacation next year, why not check out Arizona Cocktail Week? I had a blast there and Scottsdale is a vacation destination on its own. If you live in New York City or the surrounding area and looking for the definitive agave spirits bar then look no further than Mayahuel. Located at 304 E 6th St, New York, NY 10003, this place has amazing food and a dizzying array of Agave spirits.

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Exodus of Flavor


by Adam Rains

This was first Published as a 2 part article in the October/November 2013 issues of Las Vegas Food & Beverage Professional

It was the 1950’s and freedom was in the air. America had won the war. Even with a partially manufactured rivalry with Russia, we were still riding high. On top of the world! Top of the food chain… the big dogs! Even as we cooked from the bottom of our basement bomb shelters, nuclear test explosions could be seen across the Nevada sky and they lit it up like an artificial man-made sun, no strike that, an American-made sun.

American ingenuity and know-how could and did save the world! Of course our science and technology surpassed all other nations and we were, as a society, on board and ready to follow it to the moon. At that moment in history, science was king and it was decided that we could use our technology to make anything, do anything, solve any problem, and defeat any foe. We dreamed that we could go to the moon, we could go to Mars, even more dramatically, we could even make our own manufactured “mother’s milk” (what?!?!)! We could even have a “fresh” tomato in the middle of winter. Gone were the fresh herbs and delicious produce from backyard gardens, instead we used canned peas and Shake ‘n Bake. Everywhere you’d look, there was frozen this and canned that. T.V. dinners were all the rage; Tang, Spam and all sorts of unfathomable processed “foods” were enticing the American public with their saccharine-siren songs. Of course when company labs created these “food products” and the ad companies created markets for these products and then more remarkably, the really good ones were able to actually create needs. We then became lazy and we got fatigued, along with our palates. Cooking from the depths of our bomb shelter pantry, we filled our diets with so much sodium, fat, corn syrup and artificial flavoring that we had almost lost our ability to taste what real food was. This was echoed in the world of Cocktails.

King Cocktail himself, Dale DeGroff has called what happened during this period of time, the “Exodus of Flavor.” Where most of the country and a lot of the world departed from those majestic, and at the time, mandatory ideals of keeping it fresh and being in season. Staying within the confines of Mother Nature became very old fashioned. We were ready for whatever technology had in store for us. Fast food became en vogue at this time and after that we all know what happened (we ended up in a Jack in the Box drive thru at 4 A.M.). Yes, we had lost our way. It seemed as though convenience, as well as a scientific assault on our flavor sensors, added fuel to the fire.

As a counterpoint, Chef Zach Taylor of B&B and CarneVino once exclaimed to me, “Some of the best things in the world are rotten.” Whether it’s sausage, cheese, wine, or beer, they have all been chemically transformed from a fresh ingredient to a preserved ingredient. It comes from thousands of years of trial and error on ways of preserving crops/products before we had the benefit of refrigeration. At that time they were still seasonal by necessity and freshness was a required truth; but it was nearly impossible to completely lose our taste and our affinity for the freshness. I do have to admit that in some cases the canned goods are not any better or any worse that the fresh, they are just different. There is as much a place for dried oregano as there is for fresh basil. Some pasta recipes actually call for a dried pasta as opposed to the fresh; just as most recipes for a Gimlet calls for Rose’s Lime Cordial (but I still prefer the fresh stuff!). Not to beleaguer the point that fresh is best, even some of the canned seafood of Spain actually goes through a transformation into something equally as wonderful, not to mention costs a pretty penny. It “can” be great, but just different from the fresh.

Let’s face the facts. As bartenders, all of us are using a concentrated “rotten” substance, alcohol, as our base for a consumed product. Just by this very fact, I feel that we owe it to our guests to be as fresh as possible with the other ingredients that we use. The range of flavor that we can evoke is vast when using both fresh and aged products together. Also, one cannot argue about the nutritional value and bursting effervescence of a fresh product that trumps all preserved organics. In the preserved food, all or most of the essential oils can disappear and are replaced by the preservative (salt, chemicals and others). All of the fresh aroma is gone or has been muted and all of the life that is apparent in the fresh ingredient is fleeting. It is obvious when saying, using fresh ingredients comes through in the drink just the same as it would in a dish.

Armando Rosario is a longtime proponent of the power of freshness. I spoke to him in an interview for my podcast Las Vegas Cocktail Weekly. We discussed the last international cocktail competition that he won in Europe; Armando mentioned, “I was the only one that had three fresh ingredients in my cocktail.” We talked at length about the changing face of Mixology and how the USBG is leading the way for changing the way things are done. Even if everyone has not yet caught on, it is no secret that his mantra of “Making it Fresh, Keeping it Simple” has influenced many, including myself. As we were concluding our interview, Armando reminded me, “Remember, there is no substitution for freshness.” I hold on to that statement as an absolute and plain truth.

Fresh is best, no doubt, but what does that mean exactly? Does it mean that whenever I come for a cocktail at your bar, that you are expected to use juice freshly squeezed from an actual fruit? Yes, if the recipe calls for it, absolutely!!! Should you be uncompromising when it comes to what you produce? Positively! Even if there are times when we cannot adhere to our personal standard of freshness, we must try! You may work in an industrial grade food desert, but make do with what you have and always strive for better. Write emails, tell management what you need, even bring your own supplies if you have to, because there will come a time when this is required by the guest. Try not to get caught behind.

The times are changing; we have already made the “Exodus from Flavor,” but the pendulum is swinging back the other way. We are no doubt in a new renaissance for bartending; there is a new desire for new flavor profiles and for simplicity as well as complexity of flavor in drinks. Many of us are looking back in order to move forward, and making drinks from before the time of agricultural industrialization and widespread refrigeration. Bars all across this nation are now becoming reacquainted with the citrus press and people’s palates are yearning for what is real. It is no secret that people are demanding it and we should all do it, if for no other reason than not to get caught in the wake of the new “fresh movement.” It will soon come to pass that the artificially flavored and pasteurized juices that occupy the shelves behind most bars will not be the norm (I hope) and only be used by absolute necessity. Don’t live in the past; we are no longer subjugated to use bomb shelter bartender ingredients. Please don’t be afraid of doing things the way they should be done. Say it; yes, we can! And just know that Freshness is a Virtue, Freshness is Easy and Fresh is Best! To accept mediocrity and the status quo is to accept defeat; just don’t do it!

Let’s not let the lazy norms of bartenders past creep up on us during those endless moments of chaos and weeded nightmares. Embrace the chaos, put life back into your bar and into your drinks. You will get used to the “new norm” and be able to put out an amazingly fresh cocktail that your guest will be talking about for years, and you will be able to do it fast and with a smile; it is more than worth it. And please remember, drinkers should have all the time in the world, and they never forget…

Oh, well, maybe sometimes!! Salute!


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Baileys Chocolate Martini


by Raul Faria

The Bailey’s Chocolate Martini Cocktail #24 in our mission to recreate all the cocktails in the Joy of Mixology by Gaz Regan. We are no stranger to dessert cocktails here at, for example our original cocktails Cotton Candy Martini, Captain Crunch Cocktail and the Caramel Apple Martini. They are super fun to make but often times when made wrong can run too sweet and run the risk of being undrinkable. Sweet to heat balance is key to creating a great dessert cocktail. The Baileys Chocolate Martini is pretty straightforward and is a good building block foundation on which to create your own versions and open that box of crayons :). Let’s make a Baileys Chocolate Martini!

1) Lets get our tools together; we will need our Boston Shaker, our Hawthorne Strainer, a 10-12 oz cocktail glass, a Jigger with a 1 oz and a .75 oz measure. Our shopping list will consist of Baileys Irish Cream, Dark Crème de Cacao, Vodka and a bag of Hershey’s Kisses.

2) We can begin by adding the namesake ingredient, our .75 oz Baileys Irish Cream. Baileys Irish Cream has flavored versions to try out in this recipe like Caramel, Hazelnut, Coffee and Vanilla Cinnamon.

3) Next add the .75 oz Dark Crème de Cacao. Bols and Marie Brizard make a great Dark Crème de Cacao and Hyram Walker and Dekuyper are solid standbys.

4) Now we will add our 2 oz of Vodka to the glass. Here is another opportunity to play, try a strawberry vodka, or caramel, or whipped cream…you see where this is going. The possibilities for this recipe are vast. Play!

5) Lets add ice to our mixing glass and shake. Strain into our chilled 10-12 oz cocktails glass and garnish with a Hershey’s Kiss. Enjoy

Check out our video walkthrough of the Baileys Chocolate Martini on our YouTube channel here.

Be sure to pick up a copy of the Joy of Mixology by Gaz Regan and visit for more info on his other books and sign up for the always informative and entertaining newsletter.

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Bahama Mama


by Raul Faria
The Bahama Mama is categorized as a tropical cocktail by the Joy of Mixology by Gaz Regan and is #23 in our mission to recreate all the cocktails in this amazing book. This cocktail is known in name by many but the actual, original recipe, is a bit more elusive. See tropical cocktails, more specifically Tiki drinks, are their own exclusive sub section of the bartending/mixology world that contain a ton of cocktails with a ton of varying components, multiple rums, differing small measures, and techniques. This often results in a bartender deciding on a one size fits all template recipe that they would then modify depending on the call, for example; throwing 151 in a Mai Tai or triple sec in a Zombie, even though they are all the same tropical template recipe with shuffled ingredients. Chances are it’ll taste tropical enough for the person who ordered it and more than likely the guest doesn’t know the recipe either. I have to confess, in my younger bartending days I was guilty of this, every tropical cocktail was a Mai Tai. Not even the actual recipe but a bastardized, sugar laden, Friday’s version. Order for a hurricane, here’s a Mai Tai with orange juice. Hurricane? Here’s your Mai Tai with triple sec. Nowadays the bartender unfamiliar with the dizzying amount of intricate cocktails in the tropical or Tiki family has a cellphone and no excuses. Look it up! Of course we don’t have to worry about that because we have and our copy of the Joy of Mixology by Gaz Regan 🙂 Let’s make a Bahama Mama.

1) Let’s get our tools together; we will need our Boston Shaker, Hawthorne Strainer, a 14-16oz collins glass, a jigger with a 1 oz and a .5 oz measure. Our shopping list will consist of Myers Dark Rum, Don Q Coconut Rum, Bacardi 151, Kahlua, pineapple juice and lemons. Optional tool will be our Double-Strainer.

2) We can begin by adding our 1 oz lemon juice to the mixing glass. You can opt to simply cut the lemon in half and squeeze directly into the jigger or you can use the double-strainer to remove any seeds or pulp and squeeze the juice in a separate container. This way it’s easier to measure, you have cleaner juice and you can store it for later.

3) Next we will add our 4 oz of pineapple juice to the glass.

4) Now let’s add our .5 oz of Myers Dark Rum. This blend of 9 Jamaican Rums should be readily available at any bar or liquor store. The book calls for a dark Jamaican rum and I believe Myers fits the bill perfectly.

5) Let’s now add our .5 oz Don Q Coconut Rum. The book does call for a coconut liqueur and there are a few on the market like Coconut 99, Bols Coconut and Marie Brizard Coconut. They are however not easy to find outside large liquor stores, specialty spirit shops or online if that option is available to you. Utilizing the coconut rum reduces the sweetness that you would get with a liqueur. If you like your cocktails a bit sweeter and more coconutty than go with the liqueur option.

6) Time for the infamous Bacardi 151, we will need .5 oz of the flammable over proof Puerto Rican rum.

7) Now the ingredient that I feel really gives the Bahama Mama its character, .25 oz of Kahlua. This rum based coffee liqueur is also pretty easy to find.

8) Next let’s add ice into our mixing glass and shake. Strain into our chilled, iced Collins glass and serve. For some extra touches of tropical flair we can utilize crushed ice instead of cubes and serve it in a  Tiki mug. It is also not uncommon to find a float of grenadine but its a slippery slope tinkering too much with the sweet/sour balance. Enjoy.

Check out our video walk through for the Bahama Mama on our YouTube channel here.

Be sure to pick up a copy of the Joy of Mixology by Gaz Regan and visit and sig up for the newsletter and get more information on Gaz’s other books.

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Phuket Ginger Colada



by Raul Faria

The Phuket Ginger Colada is my entry in this year’s Domaine de Canton Bartender of the Year competition. It is inspired by the use of ginger in Thai cooking along with the combination of sweet, sour and salty, plus the freshness that is also a common strand in Thai food. The spirits I chose reflect these flavors through the Vietnemese baby ginger and Tahitian Vanilla in the Domaine de Canton to the lemongrass and black pepper found in the Bombay Sapphire East to the nutmeg, clove and cinnamon found in the St Elizabeth Allspice Dram. Combine those spirits with fresh Thai green chilies, kaffir lime leaves, coconut milk, pineapple juice, and yuzu. All of that is then topped off with some Bazai Bunny Sparkling Sake which adds body, effervescence and sweetness. If you are looking for an exotic cocktail featuring Thai inspired, Tropical, Southeast Asian flavors then the Phuket Colada is right up your alley. Lets make one!

1) Lets get our tools together; we will need our Boston Shaker, our Hawthorne Strainer,  our Barspoon, a Citrus Press, our Muddler, a Double-Strainer, a 14-16oz collins glass, a jigger with a 1.5 oz, 1 oz and a .5 oz measure. Our shopping list will include Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur, Bombay Sapphire East, St Elizabeth Allspice Dram, Bonzai Bunny Sparkling Sake, Kaffir Lime Leaves, Yuzu Fruit, Green Thai Chilies, a Pineapple, Pineapple Juice, Coconut Milk, and Fish Sauce.

2) We can begin by adding our .5 oz of fresh yuzu juice to our mixing glass portion of the Boston Shaker. Yuzu is a citrus fruit that originated in China but is grown primarily in Japan and Korea. It’s full of bright, tart citrus acidity along with a distinct, almost savory, herbal note. Simply slice off the ends of the yuzu, then slice in half and utilizing our citrus press and squeeze the yuzu halves into our jigger. If you plan on making multiple cocktails or wish to utilize our double-strainer to catch any pulp or seeds and squeeze the juice into a separate container for use later. fresh yuzu may be difficult to find but check your international or Asian markets for the fresh stuff first. Bottled yuzu juice should be readily available at specialty markets.

3) Next let’s add our .5 oz of coconut milk to the mixing glass.

4) Add our 4 kaffir lime leaves. Kaffir lime leaves are commonly used in Southeast Asian cuisine and have leaves full of aromatic citrus oil and a distinct “twin leaf” with a matte side and a glossy side. One kaffir lime leaf is actually two individual leaves on one stem. So technically in this recipe you really only need 2 “twin leaves” that equal 4 individual leaves. Check out the pic above for the visual reference.

5) Lets add our green Thai chili pepper (remove the stem and slice in half) to our mixing glass. This pepper is known as the “Birds Eye Pepper” and comes in red, orange or green and any of those will work.

6)  Now we add our 1 oz of pineapple juice and muddle contents.

7) Next we will add our 5-6 dashes of fish sauce. I used Tiparos in this recipe but feel free to use what you prefer. Fish sauce is STRONG. Very strong. So when dashing be very careful not to over do it. We are looking to add just a touch of a savory, umami note to the cocktail.

8) Lets get to the star of the show, or 1.5oz Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur. We have discussed this amazing ginger liqueur before and it has been a component to many of our cocktails like the Wild Turkey Ginger Julep and the Mango Tamarindo. We also got to see how it’s been used in cooking with our “Ginger, Its what’s for dinner” article. It’s a Cognac based liqueur made with Vietnamese baby ginger, Tahitian vanilla, Tunisian ginseng and sweetened with Provençal honey.

9) Time to add our 1 oz of Bombay Sapphire East. This gin adds Lemongrass and Black Pepper to the already superb botanical blend found in Bombay Sapphire.

10) Now we will add ice to the mixing glass, shake and double-strain into our iced, chilled 14-16 oz collins glass.

11) Lets add our 2.5 oz of Banzai Bunny Sparkling Sake and give a light stir.

12) Float a barspoon of St Elizabeth Allspice Dram and garnish with a kaffir lime twin leaf and a pineapple wedge. Enjoy 🙂

Check out our video walkthrough and competition submission for the Phuket Ginger Colada on our YouTube channel here.

Phuket Ginger Colada- 4 (or 2 twin leaves) kaffir lime leaves, 1 green Thai chili (Birds Eye Pepper), .5 oz coconut milk, .5 oz yuzu juice, 1 oz pineapple juice, muddle contents, next add 5-6 dashes of fish sauce, 1.5 oz Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur, 1 oz Bombay Sapphire East, shake, double-strain into chilled, iced 14-16 oz collins glass, add 2.5 oz of Banzai Bunny Sparkling Sake, quick light stir, float a barspoon of St Elizabeth Allspice Dram, garnish with two kafir leaves and a pineapple wedge.

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Bacardi Cocktail


by Raul Faria
The Bacardi Cocktail is #22 in our mission to recreate all the cocktails in the Joy of Mixology book by Gaz Regan. It’s a cocktail consisting of only three ingredients and can be easily reproduced in any bar. It’s got a nice tart flavor with a bit of sweetness from the grenadine, perfect for the Cosmopolitan or Lemon Drop drinker looking for something different. Another interesting note is that it is highly recommended you use Bacardi Superior. Legally recommended, see back in the day a bar was actually sued for not using Bacardi in their Bacardi Cocktails. So as law abiding citizens of the drinking world I say, Lets make a Bacardi Cocktail!

1) Lets get our tools together; we will need our Boston Shaker, Hawthorne Strainer, our Citrus Press, a chilled 6-8oz cocktail glass and a jigger with a 1 oz and .5 oz measure. Our shopping list will include of course Bacardi Superior, limes and grenadine. Optional tool will be our Double-Strainer.

2) We will begin by adding our 1 oz of lime juice. We can simply squeeze with our citrus press our limes directly into our jigger or squeeze into a separate container and store for later use. The latter is best if you plan on making multiple cocktails. We can also utilize our optional double-strainer to catch any pulp or seeds.

3) Next up we will add our .5 oz of grenadine. I utilized Rose’s Grenadine as its the most widely available and easy to find. There are quite few homemade recipes online that will really change up the flavor of this cocktail in some fun ways, so if you are have the time and access to fresh pomegranates, go for the homemade. If not the Roses will work just fine.

4) Now the legally mandated star of the show, our 2 oz of Bacardi Superior. Facundo Bacardi Massó, A Spaniard in the wine selling business immigrated to Cuba in the early 1800’s and really changed the Rum game when he developed the recipe and for Bacardi Superior. He saw an opportunity to create something refined and unique out of the killdevil, rumbustion that was being consumed at the time. By utilizing a proprietary yeast strain (still used today) and applying techniques typically only used for whiskeys and vodkas, that being barrel aging and charcoal filtration respectively, he created a rum that was light, crisp, with subtle notes of vanilla and perfect for mixing. A Cuban Bartenders best friend at the time when making cocktails like the Daiquiri and the Cuba Libre , which were originally created with Bacardi.

5) Time to add ice to our mixing glass and shake! Strain into our chilled, 6-8 oz cocktail glass. Enjoy.

Check out our video walkthrough on our YouTube channel here.

Be sure to pick up the copy of the Joy of Mixology by Gaz Regan and visit for more info on Gaz’s other books.

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São Paulo Sling


by Raul Faria

The São Paulo sling was created for the BACKBAR USA Christmas party and was inspired by the flavor notes found in Leblon Cachaca and of course the cocktail classic Singapore Sling. Much like what is found in the flavor profile of the aforementioned original, I wanted a fun tropical cocktail that was easy to make but had complex and layered flavors. The original cocktail, the Singapore Sling has a bit of a muddy history in regards to its original recipe but we do know that it was created around 1915 at Raffles Hotel in Singapore by Bartender Ngiam Tong Boon. There are also two versions according to the Joy of Mixology by Gaz Regan. Both cocktails share Gin, Pineapple and cherry liqueur so they are still fairly similar. I chose to try and stay true to its tropical roots and add the bright, fresh, herbal, citrus and vanilla notes of the Leblon Cachaca. All right all you Paulistas out there, Let’s make a São Paulo Sling!

1) Lets get our tools together; we will need our Boston Shaker, our Hawthorne strainer, our barspoon, a jigger with a .75 oz and a .5 oz measure and a 14-16 oz Zombie or Collins glass. Our shopping list will include Leblon Cachaca, Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur, Cherry Heering Cherry Liqueur, Fever Tree Tonic Water (Indian Tonic preferably), pineapple juice, limes, a pineapple and Maraschino cherries.

2) We can begin with our .5 oz of fresh lime juice. Now you can do this by squeezing directly into the jigger or you can squeeze it through a double-strainer ahead of time, into a separate container for later use and easy pouring.

3) Next up will be our 2 oz of pineapple juice

4) Now its time for the .75 oz of Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur. This is a funky addition to our cocktail that will provide our sweet element. Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur is herbal and earthy with spice notes plus the sweetness of a liqueur. It is made from the Marasca cherry, stems and all, sweetened with honey then aged in ashwood vats.

5) Time for the star of the show, Leblon Cachaca. We are going to put 1.5 oz into our mixing glass. Leblon Cachaca is distilled from sugarcane juice. Fresh sugarcane juice. This stuff has to be pressed within 24 hours of being cut, Leblon does it within three. I believe this is why Leblon has such a big, fresh, fruity flavor. It is also distilled in alambique copper pot stills and then aged in XO Congac barrels. This artisanal method really sets it apart from other cachacas on the market.

6) Lets add ice to our mixing glass and shake! Strain into our chilled, iced 14-16 oz Zombie or Collins glass.

7) Top off with Fever Tree Tonic Water, about 1.5-2 oz. I prefer the Fever Tree Indian Tonic but both will work. Both are made with quinine obtained from the bark of the “Fever Trees” known as Chinchona. The Indian has more of a complimentary Floral pop in this particular cocktail but the Fever Tree Tonic Water will work just find and has a bit more bittering quinine and bright citrus flavor.

8) Give your São Paulo Sling a quick, light stir with your barspoon to distribute the ingredients and then float a barspoon of Cherry Heering Cherry Liqueur over the cocktail. Garnish with a picked pineapple wedge, half lime wheel and a Maraschino cherry. Saude!

Check out our video walkthrough here on our YouTube channel. Subscribe to get the latest videos as soon as they’re up!

São Paulo Sling- 1.5 oz Leblon Cachaca, .75 oz Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur, .5 oz fresh lime juice, 2 oz pineapple juice, add ice, shake, strain into chilled, iced 14-16 oz Zombie or Collins glass, top off with Fever 1.5-2 oz Tree Indian Tonic Water, float barspoon of Cherry Heering and garnish with a picked pineapple wedge, lime wheel half and a Maraschino cherry.


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Booze School


by Raul Faria
The Academy of Spirits and Fine Service put on by Southern Wine and Spirits is focused on booze and everything about it. As simple as that explanation sounds you will spend a few hours each week tasting and learning about what I just said, booze. The who, what, why and where of Spirits, from Bourbon vs Rye, to what makes a wheat vodka different in flavor from a rye, detecting the various herbal notes in a particular Amaro, Mezcal vs Tequila, Cachaca vs Rhum Agricole, Cocktail Classics and Cocktail menu creation. In one of the final lessons of the program you will learn how to compete in a cocktail competition and then create an original cocktail to compete with your classmates! As part of the program you will also be tested along the way and it will culminate in a final exam. By that time however you will have the knowledge, confidence and preparation to pass. You will return to your bar, your brand or your home with knowledge and experience that will help you achieve broader understanding of whats in those bottles and you will be able to share that with your guests or customers. I got a chance to speak with Francesco Lafranconi director of mixology and education at Southern Wine and Spirits about the program and what its all about.

Why did Southern Wine and Spirits start the Academy?

The Academy of Spirits was started with the intention to specifically educate the local bartenders of the Las Vegas bar industry scene. It happened back in the days in 2000, through the visionary skills of my boss Mr. Larry Ruvo, who runs Southern Wine and Spirits here in Las Vegas Nevada, for the whole state. When he met me in Venice, Italy he started talking to me and found out about my passion and product knowledge for the liquor industry, he saw a great opportunity to share my knowledge with the local  bartending community. The purpose is really to bring information and awareness about our wonderful industry, because we truly believe knowledge is power and the more you know, the more you sell.

What are the benefits of the Academy for the Novice, the Professional and the Enthusiast?

I think one of the common denominators for the three different skill levels is imparting a great sense of humbleness towards our industry. Each segment of our trade whether it is a skillfull bartender or a spirits writer or the liquor salesperson, one of the true benefits is to allow this individual to be exposed to the wonderful world of alcoholic beverages and cocktail mixology. Through the Academy each individual will be able to appreciate the craftsmanship, the industry commitment to the heritage of each individual spirit brand or liquor brand. Its such an incredible industry that is so intertwined with the history of civilization and will benefit every individual who is exposed to this lifestyle of consuming alcoholic beverages and to also be able to play around with them in terms of mixing and creating new flavors. Its basically education, its giving the individual the ability to be aware of the products that he or she is dealing with on a daily basis in their line of work.

Is there an advanced class for those who want to learn more?

Its our intention to take the Academy of Spirits to the next level, which means offering a second course which would be more advanced, there will be fewer attendees because its going to be much more intense, also the set up requires much more time. There is already a successful platform from my dear colleague Bridget Albert in Chicago shes started the level two advanced and when she puts out seminars or trips to distilleries nationwide or internationally she sells out within minutes. The advanced class will be possible after the new facility is built by the end of spring 2014. The purpose of the advanced class is to dig deeper in the manufacturing process, a little bit more chemistry involved, identifying the central factors that will differentiate one brand of whiskey from another or vodka or whatever the case may be, but also its about taking the student to go on site and experience for themselves how the product is made. So going to distilleries whether it be Ireland, Scotland, France, Italy or even Peru for Pisco not only will allow the individual learn how the product is made, they’re also going to immerse themselves in the local culture so they will understand how the locals are appreciating the spirit or liqueur and will see how these spirits and liqueurs can be a true embodiment of a nation.

That’s what these advanced programs are doing, actually taking the students on site to locations like these?

For Southern Wine and Spirits of Illinois, Yes. Have glass, will travel.

How has the environment in regards to the desire to learn changed in your time in the industry? Has that hunger always been there at this level or is it emerging?

Its definitely emerging, you know when I started probably over 20 years ago, actually counting hotel school 25 years ago, and without the help of social media and modern technology, it would probably take you 10 years to learn what someone can now learn in year and a half to two years because of the overwhelming amount of information available to them on the internet. For the Bartenders approaching the industry now, they are much more facilitated to be able to learn the right way. However it is not only about product knowledge that you need to work behind the bar, its people skills. With people skills there are no books that can teach you that. You must have great mentors that can give you clues on how to read and interpret your bar patrons or guests but above all its really about practice, and you know practice makes perfect. Its experience that you need. There is only so much you can learn from the books, however when it comes to blind tasting you have to taste, taste, taste and when it comes to finding the right balance in cocktails you just need to mix and go through different tries and experiment. In this decade we have shortened the amount of time it takes to be able to gain information on the Backbar products so to speak but when it comes to the human aspect we all still require to go through the length of time necessary to be able to master the hospitality aspect.

When will the next class be held?

We were supposed to start the renovation in December unfortunately due to permit issues its going to require more time because we totally flipped the room and it will be on a different side now. Its going to be a fantastic state of the art facility with hundreds of thousands of dollars in audio visual features, I designed the wells and there are no wells like the ones we are building in the whole world in terms of what the artisans brought to the project, to the quality of the steel, we are going to have a different approach to freezing and refrigeration, in the jockey station we are improving, from the bartender perspective, the ergonomics and we are speeding up service by increasing output through functionality. There are a lot of elements here that the Academy is going to become the benchmark for the industry not only in the United States but around the World. We should be able to have the new facility ready at the end of spring, beginning of summer however we will try to do our best to figure out if we have a temporary location for the next level 1 Spirits Academy. The advanced class will only take place in the new facility due to the logistics.

How many do you estimate have graduated from the academy?

If we are looking at how many bartenders and industry professionals that we’ve touched we are definitely in the couple thousands. Fully graduated, a conservative number, would be between five to seven hundred. The good thing is some of these graduates, they move out from Las Vegas and end up in Atlanta, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago or Miami and they were so influenced that they started little sparkles all around the country so I see my students reaching new heights and great career opportunities.

How many cities have a Spirits Academy and are there any plans to expand the program?

As of now there are about fifteen Southern Wine and Spirits of America Mixology Educators and besides Las Vegas who started the academy in 2000, the second one is Illinois in Chicago with Bridget Albert. She’s doing an amazing job, very organized, She’s also the only advanced class and that’s been running for two years. Then Orlando, Florida is starting an Academy with Armando Rosario who left Las Vegas but had been teaching the Academy with me. David Nepove, who is also the president of the United States Bartenders Guild National, is going to start an Academy in San Francisco  coming soon. We have Arizona in Tempe and Pheonix. New York is still more challenging due to permits and regulations in regards to consumption and sampling. Around the country we are reorganizing and trying to create a calendar will organize and set up the openings for the next year or two. I think that right now Las Vegas and Chicago are the strongest reference points.

I’ve graduated from the Academy of Spirits and Fine Service and I simply cannot recommend it enough for anyone in our industry who wants to know more. For more information on the Academy of Spirits and Fine Service contact Southern Wine and Spirits via their homepage. Be sure to look out for the interview of Francesco Lafranconi with Adam Rains at Las Vegas Cocktail Weekly Podcast coming soon. Adam and Francesco discuss the evolution of the American palette. As Francesco says “We are not drinking, we are learning.”

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