What’s a party without a Barfly? Meet The Best Whiskey Cocktail Ever!

Barfly pic

The occasion: My going away party, with friends and a sprinkle of co-workers. Never mind this was the third such party for the occasion – I write about liquor and have distiller friends, of COURSE there would be parties. Where was I heading off to? I was packing my worldly possessions (including several boxes of the aforementioned liquor) and heading off to learn to make whiskey at Asheville Distilling Company. Troy Ball is one of the most impressive people I’ve ever met, and she’s lovely and gracious as well. Learning to make her whiskey? File that under Dream Job. My theoretical knowledgeable was about to be put to the test. But first, there was a party, and delicious drinks to be had!

The location: One of my favorite local San Diego hangouts, BO-beau Kitchen + Restaurant. Not only is their food delicious, but their main guy behind the bar turned out to be Eater.com’s 2013 Bartender of the Year for San Diego! Talk about a local find! Vasilios Karatolis is an absolute genius with flavors, and was about to shake and stir the delightful concoctions for my official (and last) going away party.

The drink: My go-to liquor is bourbon. As a writer of all things spiritous, I’ll try anything – twice if I like it. But most often, I end up with bourbon. You can usually find a decent bourbon at most bars, and a bartender that can make something that tastes good with it, if it’s not good enough neat. Vasili takes bourbon to an all new level, creating cocktails on the fly, sometimes subbing it out for other liquors in traditional recipes, sometimes making his own recipe. (Trust me when I say you haven’t lived until you’ve tried a Bourbon Paloma. I know, just do it.) Tonight’s adventure was all bourbon, all night long. Savory to sweet, hot, or cold, the drinks were fabulous. My favorite of the night was the aptly-named Barfly. Bourbon, a Vasili-made-for-the-occasion balsamic reduction, basil and ginger beer – individually, I like all those things. Together? The perfect blend with all the right notes, none overpowering the next, but working together as a great cocktail should. It was the first drink of the evening – a long evening of friends arriving at different times, which meant a new drink nearly every time! Several cocktails in (no, we’re not discussing how many), I was describing this particular drink and *might* have gotten a little tongue-tied. Yes, that’s what we’re calling it. Not slurring. Don’t be like that. And the Blarfly was renamed, by my highly-amused friends, which made it even better. Cheers to great friends and great drinks! And to the Best Whiskey Cocktail Ever!

Feni Paloma

Hopefully you just finished reading about what Feni is, in my interview with DrinkFeni’s co-founder, Drew Whited. If not, the quick version is that Feni is a liquor distilled only in India from the juice of a cashew apple.  It’s a perfectly clear, slightly viscous liquid, but you’ll never mistake this for vodka nor gin. Feni has a sweet taste, slightly reminiscent of a new piece of Juicy Fruit gum. There’s little to no alcohol burn, which isn’t too surprising at 42.5% ABV (85 proof). It mixes well with a variety of fruit juices, from sweet pineapple, to the tart grapefuit juice in this month’s Feni Paloma recipe. Lemonade and 7-Up also work well.  My new friend Natalie over at BeautifulBooze.com came up with this recipe and of course, these lovely photos.  Feni is currently available in Chicago for right around $24 a bottle.  If you’re not in the Windy City, visit FeniDrink and fill out the interest form – they’d love to hear from you!Feni4


1 ounce Feni

1 ounce fresh grapefruit juice

½ cup of ice

½ ounce of Grand Marnier

top of with grapefruit soda

Garnish: Grapefruit slice and grapefruit zest


  • In a cocktail shaker add Feni, fresh grapefruit juice, ice, and Grand Marnier
  • Shake mixture for 20 seconds and then pour mixture into serving glass
  • Top with grapefruit soda
  • Garnish: Grapefruit slice and grapefruit zest

Yields: 1 serving


Just Peachy Bourbon Punch

Summer is upon us! Time for BBQs and pool parties. What goes better with a juicy hamburger or spicy ribs than peaches and bourbon? This lightly sweet and very refreshing punch will have your guests asking for the recipe – so here it is!

Photos by Longshots Photography

Photos by Longshots Photography

Just Peachy Bourbon punch

750ml bottle of Bourbon (I used 4 Roses yellow label)

4.5 cups (1L) of ginger beer

4.5 cups (1L) of tonic water

Fresh mint (medium bundle of leaves – 1 package should do)

6-8 peaches, both fresh and freshly frozen

Optional garnish: Blueberries and strawberries, on a skewer

Servings: about 9-18 drinks (depends on cup size: you can easily double or even triple the recipe)

The night before: slice 2-3 peaches and freeze individual slices (wax paper on a cookie sheet will do).  Put the fresh peaches in the bottom of the punch bowl. With a potato masher (or muddler if you have one!) give your peaches the once-over. You’re not looking for baby food consistency, but want to release the juice. Pour in the bourbon, cover and put in the fridge. This will give the peaches time to infuse the bourbon, plus saves you time on party day. Put your ginger beer and tonic water in the fridge to chill, too. You can also make your garnishes now and refrigerate.

Party time: Spank your mint and toss it into the bowl (you know you want to! And if you don’t know how, it’s exactly like it sounds – it’s more gentle than muddling, but still releases the essential oils. Put some in the palm of your hand and gently clap until you smell mint).  Mix thoroughly with the peaches and bourbon. Add ginger beer then tonic water, give it a small stir to mix (it will get fizzy and foamy) and toss in your frozen peaches.

Individual servings: Grab a cup, add some ice and fill with punch.  If you were to make these as individual drinks, it’s 1.5 ounces of bourbon to 2 ounces each of ginger beer and tonic water. You can also substitute ginger liqueur instead of ginger beer, which works really nicely (1 ounce liqueur, 3 ounces tonic instead).


The Angler’s Cocktail

With summer firmly upon us, it’s time to get outdoors! Hiking, swimming, fishing – get a little sun, stretch your legs after a long winter. After a day in the Great Outdoors, here’s a guaranteed catch: The Angler’s Cocktail.  Gin is making a huge comeback, after being mostly relegated to the glasses of the few people that know a proper Martini is gin and not vodka. Natalie over at Beautiful Booze created this lovely cocktail with Genius Gin’s Navy Strength gin. Clocking in at 57% ABV (114 proof), it’s the proof that was carried on the ships of the British Royal Navy fleet.  You could also use regular strength (90 proof) as well, without compromising the cocktail.


The Angler’s Cocktail 

1 1/2 oz gin
1 dash grenadine syrup
2 dashes bitters (Angostura was used)
3 dashes orange bitters

Shake all ingredients with cracked ice, pour contents into an old-fashioned glass over ice cubes, and serve.

Recipe courtesy of DrinksMixer.com


El Presidente!

This month’s featured cocktail by Natalie at BeautifulBooze.com is the El Presidente. I think I get the short end of the deal: she gets to make and drink these lovely cocktails, and I write about them! Sorry, I was distracted looking at her fabulous pictures. Anyway – it’s a Cuban drink, originally created by an American bartender in Havana and named for the president of Cuba. This was during American Prohibition (perhaps why he was tending bar in Cuba!) and it was popular for the next ten or fifteen years, and as with many cocktails, is now considered “vintage” or “lost”.  But fear not!  We are bringing back vintage cocktails, one glass at a time!  There does seem to be some variation on the recipe (I’ve seen it called a spin-off of a daiquiri, so they used pineapple juice), but our version is courtesy of the folks at Imbibe magazine.

For the rum, Natalie used Striped Pig Distillery’s rum, which is made with premium molasses from Savannah, GA.  I’ve not had the pleasure of trying Striped Pig spirits (yet), but they sound fantastic!


El Presidente

1½ oz. rich white rum
1½ oz. Dolin Vermouth Blanc (Martini & Rossi or Cinzano Bianco are fine substitutes)
1 barspoon orange Curaçao or Grand Marnier (Natalie used Grand Marnier)
½ barspoon real grenadine
Thinly cut orange peel
Cracked ice
Garnish: maraschino cherry (optional)

Fill your shaker or pint glass 3/4 with cracked ice; pour in the first 4 ingredients. Stir this one, don’t shake it – and strain into a glass (a coupe would do nicely, or whatever you have). You can twist the orange peel over the drink if you’ve got it, to give it a shot of orange essence, and garnish with a cherry (these are the best!  Luxardo Gourmet Maraschino Cherries – 400g Jar)


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