ELDERFLOWER SALTY DOG - A Vodka Grapefruit Cocktail

Spring is grapefruit season here in Tucson and my neighbors are always generous with their harvest. Sometimes a little too generous* and I have to find ways to use all the beautiful citrus I'm gifted with. My answer is usually to head over to the bar, grab the juicer and serve those free grapefruit right back to my neighbors at happy hour.

When I only have one or two grapefruit I'll serve up my Pink Grapefruit Martini, but when I'm blessed with a multitude of grapefruit to take advantage of then a party and a tall drink is called for. A classic Paloma, a Greyhound or a Salty Dog are all good solutions to using up grapefruit gifted by the dozen. The Paloma is made with tequila, the Greyhound was originally made with gin and I was in more of a vodka mood so I went with an adaptation of both the Greyhound and Salty Dog. As a nod to spring I added a little floral twist to the classic recipes.

Whenever you have fresh grapefruit, you need to make this cocktail. It's comparatively light in alcohol, healthy and very refreshing when temperatures and thirsts are high.


1 Oz. Vodka
1/2 Oz. St. Germain Elderflower Liquor
8 Oz. Fresh Grapefruit Juice
4 Tbsp. Grapefruit Lemon Honey Syrup**

Rim: 1 Part Kosher Salt to 2 Parts Demerara Sugar

Garnish: Long Grapefruit Peel, Grapefruit Wedge

Tools: Vegetable Peeler, Cocktail Shaker

Glass: Pint Glass

Peel the entire skin of one grapefruit and set aside.
Cut 2 grapefruit in half. Slice off one wedge and set aside. Juice the remainder of the grapefruit.
Rim your glass with grapefruit juice then dip in the salt and sugar, press the grapefruit twist against the inside of the glass, fill glass with ice then chill the glass in freezer.
** Blend one ounce of warmed grapefruit juice with two tablespoons of Honey Ridge Farms Lemon Créme Honey and add this to the cocktail shaker.
Fill shaker with ice then add the vodka, elderflower liqueur and fresh grapefruit juice.
Shake until chilled, strain into the glass, garnish with the grapefruit wedge, add a straw and serve.

* I usually tell people I don't like grapefruit, but the truth is grapefruit doesn't like me. I actually love fresh grapefruit, but it can be very hard on my stomach unless it's very sweet and even then I always add a pinch of salt and extra sweeteners to ease the tartness. Canned grapefruit is always too acidic and never passes my doorstep so don't ever drop in at happy hour for a Salty Dog or Greyhound*** when grapefruit aren't in season.

*** What's the difference between a Salty Dog and a Greyhound?
The Greyhound, originally a gin cocktail, not vodka, is simply either of those spirits mixed with grapefruit juice. The Salty Dog just adds a salt rim.



BLACK FOREST CAKETAIL, A Chocolate Cherry Bourbon Cocktail

Black Forest Caketail

I love revisiting my past cocktail recipes. With National Black Forest Cake Day being March 28th I thought it might be time to have a new take on my original Black Forest Cake Martini. Back in those days I was big into all the flavored vodkas, these days I'm exploring whiskies and decided it was time for a bourbon Black Forest Cake in a glass.

Think of a creamy Chocolate Manhattan or a maybe Fancy Free Cocktail but with Kirsch instead of Maraschino liqueur, creme de cacao added and the bitters changed to chocolate instead of orange. Before I added the creme de cacao it reminded me a bit of Cherry Bounce, a Colonial cocktail of cherries and sugar fermented in brandy or whiskey. Not a bad thing at all.

Adding the creme de cacao is an even better thing.

Black Forest Caketail Cocktail Recipe with Ingredients and Instructions


2 Oz. Bourbon
1/4 Oz. Kirsch
3/4 Oz. Creme De Cacao
2 Dashes Chocolate Bitters

Float: 1 Oz. Lightly Whipped Heavy Cream

Garnish: Luxardo Cherries, Cherry Bitters

Tools: Cocktail shaker

Glass: Old Fashioned

Chill glass in the freezer.
Shake ingredients with ice until chilled then strain into ice filled glass.
Top with lightly whipped cream
Do not stir, it will gently settle into the cocktail by itself.
Tap a few drops of Cherry Bitters on top.
Garnish and serve.

National Black Forest Cake Day is March 28th.


Updated 3-2021



Quaker City Malting (@QCMalt) recently sent me some samples of their QC Malt Lemon Shrub and Old Dutch to try out in new cocktail recipes.

I'm not historically fond of malt beverages. My first exposure was back in my youth with Colt 45, then came Zima and it's ilk. None of those ever graced my lips again. Later I tried Mike's Hard Lemonade, expecting a refreshing lightly alcoholic refreshment, I didn't get past the first not-refreshing sip. My experiences had led me to be wary of anything alcoholic labeled "malt". Imagine my surprise when I popped the tops on both these beverages and drank every last drop.

I shouldn't have been surprised at my enjoyment of both these products. They are the brainchild of Steven Grasse (@StevenGrasse), father of some of my favorite bar staples including Hendrick's Gin, Sailor Jerry Rum and the beyond excellent Sweet Lips Cherry Bounce from Tamworth Distilling, to mention a few. If Steven puts his name on it, it's just plain quality.

The Lemon Shrub was automatically in my wheelhouse as I love shrubs, aka drinking vinegars. These are vinegars infused with fruit juice, herbs or spices and they make lovely mixers and syrups for cocktails. I had high hopes and I was not disappointed. Where the Mike's Hard Lemonade missed, the QC Malt Lemon Shrub hit my not-so-sweet spot. It was lightly tart, brightly lemony and judicious in its sweetness; perfect light alcoholic refreshment for a hot  day or night. I had a very hard time saving some for a cocktail recipe, but I did manage to came up with a delicious Blackberry Lemon Shrub Cooler.

With the Old Dutch I wasn't too sure what to expect, there's no mention of root beer at all, but - hello! - I immediately wanted to make a boozy float (see below). If you're looking for a root beer style flavored beer, the Old Dutch is exactly where you want to go. I not only finished the whole can, I loved it. I've tried Not Your Father's Root Beer and couldn't finish it as it was way too sweet. However, though it's not really root beer flavored but a birch sap flavored drink, the Old Dutch brought home the root beer for me. It's less in-your-face than typical "root beer" beers and the lower sweetness is perfectly balanced so the flavors could shine. What a nice surprise!

Of course, you had to know the ice cream was coming.


Take one tall, chilled mug or glass.
Add 2 Scoops vanilla ice cream.
Pour in Old Dutch.
Top with whipped cream.
Drizzle with caramel syrup.
Sprinkle on crushed cashews.
Plop on one Bordeaux cherry.
Add ice cream spoon and straws.
Get decadent.

I must remember to send Steven Grasse hugs and kisses.




Having a newly created bottle of homemade Blackberry Simple Syrup from my Blackberry Daiquiri of yesterday, I decided I'd better get at least one more cocktail out of the delicious syrup before I poured it all on pancakes or ice cream in the next few days. Since Q.C. Malting Company had sent me samples of their Lemon Shrub Malt Liquor, I thought the combo sounded like the beginning of a nice afternoon cocktail cooler and got to it.

Good thing I made that syrup too because I was in danger of finishing every one of those Lemon Shrubs before I ever got around to making a cocktail. Yup they're that good, and perfect for 90° March Tucson temperatures, so the danger was real.


1-1/2 Oz Fresh Blackberry Simple Syrup
1 Ice Cold Can Q.C. Malt Lemon Shrub Malt Beverage
3 Mint Leaves
Crushed Ice

Garnish: Lemon Wedge, Sprig of Mint

Glass: Large Mug or Tumbler

Chill mug in freezer.
Crush ice.
Fill the chilled mug with the crushed ice, gently rub the mint leaves between your fingers and drop on top of the ice.
Pour the Blackberry Simple Syrup over the ice, top off with the Lemon Shrub, garnish and serve.




I got some out of season blackberries on sale yesterday which leaned pretty far to the tart side for munching on. Being on sale, and out of season, I suppose that was to be expected, but that didn't mean I couldn't make a great cocktail with them. It was just a matter of helping Mother Nature along a bit.
To turn my slightly sour blackberries into a great cocktail ingredient I simply turned them into a delicious simple syrup. Problem solved, cocktails served.
2 Oz Light Rum
1 Oz Fresh Lime Juice
1/2 Oz Blackberry Simple Syrup
(Recipe Below)
Pinch of Sea Salt*
1 Cup Ice
Garnish: Sugared Blackberries (Recipe below.)
Tools: Cocktail Shaker, Hawthorne Strainer
Glass: Coupe
Chill glass in freezer.
Make the Blackberry Simple Syrup from the recipe below and set aside to cool.
Shake the ingredients with a cup of ice until chilled, strain into the cold coupe, garnish with the sugared blackberries and serve.
* Why the sea salt? To balance out the tartness of the lime juice and the particularly tart blackberries that I had without adding additional syrup.
2 Cups Sugar
1 Cup Water
1-1/2 Cups Fresh Blackberries
1/4 Tsp. Lemon Zest
1/8 Tsp Lime Zest
Add the ingredients to a medium saucepan, bring to a boil over medium heat then simmer until the sugar has dissolved and berries are soft, about 20 to 30 minutes.
Remove pan from heat and let it cool completely.
Strain into a bottle squeezing out any excess juice from the blackberries.
Makes 10 – 12 oz.
Save some for ice cream and waffles!
1 Egg White
1 Tsp. Water
1 Pint Berries
1 Cup Sugar
Whip the egg white and water until slightly frothy. 
Dip the berries in the egg white then drop the berries one by one into the sugar and toss until coated.
Lay the berries out to dry on parchment paper until they're no longer sticky.
National Blackberry Day is September 12th and National Daiquiri Day is July 19th.
Updated 7-2108


TEQUILA TUESDAY MARTINI, A Tangerine Tequila Cocktail

Making Tuesdays just a little better one shot of tequila at a time.
1-1/2 Oz Tequila
1 Oz Triple Sec
1 Oz Fresh Lime Juice
1 Oz Fresh Tangerine Juice
1/4 Oz Agave Syrup
1/4 Oz Grenadine
Garnish: Maraschino Cherry
Tools: Cocktail Shaker, Hawthorn Strainer
Chill your glass in the freezer.
Fill cocktail Shaker with ice then add the tequila, Triple Sec, lime and tangerine juices and agave syrup, shake until chilled, strain into the glass.
Gently pour the Grenadine down the side of the glass so it settles on the bottom Garnish and serve.
Purchase the Tequila Tuesday Martini Recipe Card Here 
Oh, tequila, savage water of sorcery, what confusion & mischief your sly, rebellious drops do generate ~ Tom Robbins 
Happy Tequila Tuesday!


DEATH IN THE AFTERNOON Cocktail, Hemingway's Champagne

Since it's National Absinthe Day a good cocktail to talk about would be what Ernest Hemingway himself called Hemingway's Champagne, otherwise known as Death In The Afternoon, named after Hemingway's book of the same name. It's a potent drink supposedly enjoyed by Hemingway after his stay on the Left Bank of Paris where he was introduced to Absinthe.

Hemingway later contributed the recipe to a 1935 celebrity cocktail book called So Red the Nose, or Breath in the Afternoon by Sterling North and Carl Kroch. In it Hemingway states the drink originated "by the author and three officers of the H.M.S. Danae after having spent seven hours overboard trying to get Capt. Bra Saunders’ fishing boat off a bank where she had gone with us in a N.W. gale." Or so the tale goes.

Since Hemingway was known to be very inventive when it came to cocktails, (he also has his own Daiquiri namesake) I'd take the whole story with a grain of salt. Created in the days when absinthe still possessed it's infamous Green Fairy punch, I think they all might have had three to five of the powerful drink before putting pen to paper.

Ernest Hemingway's

1 Jigger (Oz.) Absinthe
4 Oz. Champagne

Garnish: Lemon Twist

Glass: Champagne Flute

"Pour one jigger absinthe into a Champagne glass. Add iced Champagne until it attains the proper opalescent milkiness. Drink three to five of these slowly."

I suggest just one.

Voiceover Video with Ingredients & Directions:

Updated 3-2022



The Chicago Cocktail is a drink mentioned in several cocktail books around the early 1900's. Obviously named after the city of Chicago, there's no evidence of its actual origin in any information I could find  but the 1931 Dining in Chicago guide by John Drury states it was being served at the American Bar in Nice and the Embassy Club in London.

My recipe is adapted from the 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book.


2 Oz. Brandy
1/4 Tsp. Cointreau
Dash Angostura Bitters
Champagne Float

Rim: Sugar

Garnish: Slice of Lemon

Tools: Mixing Glass, Barspoon, Hawthorn Strainer

Glass: Champagne Flute

Rim the glass with lemon, dip into the sugar then chill glass in the freezer.
In a mixing glass stir the brandy, triple sec and bitters with ice until chilled, strain into the chilled glass, top off with a splash of Champagne then garnish with the lemon slice.


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