Today I'm sharing a somewhat obscure tiki era cocktail called a Night Flight. I wanted to share this drink because, even through it has some tiki origins, it lends itself really well to the winter season. Yes, it was 60 degrees in LA all week and I consider that to be winter : ) This drink was introduced to me by a colleague, but was adapted from Trader Vic's Bartender's Guide; originally published in 1947.  It's a simple but effective cocktail that features just three perfectly balanced ingredients: fresh lime juice, maple syrup, & rhum agricole. 


If you aren't 100% familiar with Rhum Agricole, it's basically a style of rum traditionally distilled in the French Caribbean islands using sugar cane juice rather than molasses (as is the case with most other styles of rum). This method of distillation yields a spirit with a funky vegetal quality that is packed with unique authenticity. Although not as widely produced or distributed as most styles of rum, you should be able to find a decent bottle at your local liquor shop.


I should point out that all maple syrups are not created equal. You'll want to use a syrup that actually came from a maple tree and under no circumstances use a maple flavored high fructose corn syrup. This can easily be achieved by reading the label. A locally sourced Very Dark Grade A or Grade B syrup would be an ideal choice.



  • 1 oz lime juice
  • 3/4 oz maple syrup
  • 2 oz Rhum Agricole

Combine all ingredients in a mixing tin. Dry shake and transfer into a chilled highball glass. Mound with crushed ice, swizzle, and garnish with a lime wheel and grated cinnamon. 







I'm starting a new series on the blog called Methods of Preparation. Every cocktail can be placed into a category with defining features that tell us how to prepare that drink. These features typically suggest the glass and ice we'll need, along with the steps we'll use to achieve optimal temperature, water content, and texture. 

Today, we're talking about STIRRED UP cocktails. This category most famously includes the Martini and the Manhattan. Typically these cocktails contain a base spirit along with fortified wines, liqueurs, amari, and other bitters. These drinks almost never have citrus juice of any kind. 

Simply put, unless otherwise specified, ‘stirred up' cocktails should be built in a mixing glass, stirred with cracked ice, strained into a stemmed glass, and garnished as the recipe indicates.


  • mixing glass
  • bar spoon 
  • julep strainer
  • jigger

STEP 1. Build your drink in a chilled mixing glass. A 16 oz pint glass straight out of the freezer is ideal and crucial for temperature control. What you don't want is for your mixing glass to prematurely melt your ice because the glass is too warm. It'll add unwanted water content to your cocktail before you can get the drink cold enough. Make sense? 


We build cocktails based on an internal Order of Operations, adding each ingredient as we get to its category. In the case of most stirred up drinks, dashes will be the first thing you add. 


Next, we add liqueurs and fortified wines.


We almost always add our base spirits last. Adding the most expensive ingredient last reduces the chance for error later on and also acts as a reminder that the drink is now complete. 


STEP 2: We add hand cracked ice a few pieces at a time until our mixing glass is full. Hand cracking larger pieces of ice into smaller rustic pieces allows us to better insulate the glass, essentially allowing the liquid cocktail to cover more surface area than if using a uniform shape of ice. Don't be shy with your ice. If your glass and ice both come straight from the freezer you should have no problem achieving sub zero cocktail temperatures. 


STEP 3: There is no set amount of time nor a set number of rotations with a bar spoon that will ensure a properly stirred cocktail. However, there are two important variables that one must constantly consider while stirring: temperature and water content. Stir the drink for too much time and you may end up with an ice cold, but watery, cocktail.  Stir it for too little time and you may end up with a warm drink that's too harsh on the palate. 

Temperature: For 'stirred up' drinks, we aim to achieve a cocktail that's just below freezing (-2C or colder).

Water Content: For 'stirred up' drinks with an average starting liquid volume of 3oz we aim to introduce approximately 1 oz or 25% water content to the final drink.  


STEP 4: We strain our finished cocktail directly into our chilled stem glass. This should ideally come from the freezer as well. The coupe glass has become the industry standard for most up drinks, although the Nick & Nora glass is making a swift comeback for obvious reasons. 


STEP 5. Garnish as the recipe indicates. A garnish should always serve a purpose. It must, at the very least, enhance the appearance of the final drink without being cumbersome or distracting. It may also add subtle aromatic notes or enhance the overall flavor profile of the finished cocktail. This is especially true of 'stirred up' drinks.







Happy New Year, everyone! One of my goals for 2018 is to share more cocktail recipes with you here on the blog. It'll be a combination of reliable classics as well as seasonal favorites so you'll be well prepared for every occasion.


Before we get started, let's touch on the word 'Fix.' I'm referring here to a method of preparation or style of cocktail. The 'Fix' is a simple cocktail preparation traditionally calling for a base spirit, with lemon juice and sugar, served over crushed ice. Simplicity at its best.


While nearly perfect as a three ingredient classic, seasonal fruits and herbs can be added for extra appeal. For this traditional rum fix, I muddled in a few blood orange wedges for an added punch of seasonal citrus juice and oil.



  • 2 blood orange wedges
  • 3/4 lemon juice
  • 3/4 simple syrup
  • 2 oz aged rum

Combine all ingredients in a mixing tin. Muddle, add ice, shake, and strain into a chilled double rocks glass. Mound with crushed ice and garnish with a blood orange wedge and straw. 







I love drinking fresh pressed apple cider in the fall. As a kid we’d buy it at a seasonal market in my home town called the The Cider Mill. They pressed the apples in house, bottled it on site, and sold it by the gallon. They sold cider, doughnuts, and candy apples. That was it.


In the midst of an otherwise whirlwind of a ‘wedding season’, Marie and I found ourselves with a day off and were itching for something autumnal. We've been wanting to go apple picking since moving to LA — not because we grow a whole lot of apples here in the City of Angels, but because there is an incredible, not-so-little, apple growing region about 90 miles east of LA; tucked into the foothills of the San Bernardino National Forest. 


There are an overwhelming number of orchards to pick from — each with its own alluring qualities. We ended up at Riley’s at Los Rios Rancho, a family friendly farm with all the people and all the activities. We filled our day sharing apple hand pies, listening to bluegrass, eating BBQ and grilled corn, and braving the ‘U-Pick’ orchard. Marie was a total trooper -- being 8 months pregnant and all. Pro Tip: get there as early as possible or go on a week day if you can swing it. We left with a gallon of fresh pressed cider and a 10 pound bag of hand picked apples. It was my kind of day. 


Now for the cocktail! Bourbon and cider go together like — well, I like bourbon with anything, but this happens to be one of my favorite combos : ) For this recipe we combined fresh lime, house made ginger syrup, and soda water to create ‘fresh ginger beer’ which acts at the base of our Buck. We spike it with bourbon, add a dash or two of bitters, and lengthen it with some fresh pressed cider. 



  • 2 dashes angostura bitters
  • 1/2 oz lime juice
  • 3/4 oz ginger syrup
  • 1 oz apple cider 
  • 2 oz good bourbon
  • *soda water

Combine ingredients (except *soda water) in a shaking tin. Add ice, shake, strain into a collins glass, and top with soda. Garnish with an apple fan and enjoy! 




Lewis Bag

Before the days of 'pebble' or 'nugget' ice (those perfect little pellets you see in cocktails that once called for crushed ice) there was... well, actual crushed ice. 

Today, we're taking it back to to the 19th century where the Lewis Bag was a staple in almost every cocktail bar. It's a sturdy canvas bag with an accompanying wooden mallet. You fill the bag with cubes of ice and wack the hell out of it with the mallet until you've achieved your desired size and consistency of crushed ice. 

The canvas bag has advantages of both durability and water absorption, leaving you with relatively dry crushed ice for your cocktails. Over do it with the mallet and you'll probably end up with shaved ice, but with a little practice you'll be making proper juleps, cobblers, and swizzles in no time. 

While the Lewis Bag is rarely used in modern cocktail bars because it isn't totally efficient for large volume drink preparation, it's perfect for the home bartender looking to make exceptional 'crushed ice' style cocktails at home. 

Given our affinity for tiki drinks, we grabbed our new Bull in China Lewis Bag and made ourselves a Mai Tai. Recipe below!


3/4 oz lime juice

3/8 oz orgeat 

3/8 oz curacao

1 oz jamaican rum

1 oz agricole rhum 

Combine ingredients in a small shaking tin. Dry shake, transfer into a tiki mug (or double rocks glass), and mound with crushed ice. Garnish excessively and enjoy! 

*Adapted from a recipe by Trader Vic 


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I'm often asked, "what are a couple of books you'd recommend if I'm just learning to bartend?"

While there are countless books available for the novice (and advanced) bartender, it's important to consider what you'd like to get out of reading these books -- after all, mixing drinks is a skill acquired more by doing, and less by reading, although both can be worthwhile. When starting out, few things will take you further then some technique, an understanding of the classics, and a history of the sport. 

I'll start near the beginning. In 1862, Jerry Thomas wrote a book called How to Mix Drinks, or The Bon Vivant's Companion. It's largely regarded as the first printed bartender's guide for mixing all types of punches, juleps, sours, toddies, cocktails, and more. 

You can easily get a reprint and should own one as a historical reference. Many a great bartender have combed though the book adapting nearly every recipe for the modern palate along the way. There are some better resources for how to actually execute a gin sour, but you should know that Jerry Thomas wrote it down first -- in 1862.  

1. 'How to Mix Drinks, or The Bon Vivant's Companion', Jerry Thomas, 1862

While Thomas' book is essentially a very early recipe guide, it gives us little to work with in terms of history. Thankfully, cocktail historian David Wondrich wrote an incredibly well researched book that essentially chronicles the life and times of the "Professor" Jerry Thomas.

When learning to mix drinks, you'll want to have a sense of time and place as to where it all began, and this book will set that scene. Trust me, you'll wish you could be transported to San Fransisco and then back to Manhattan all to watch the Professor pour a liquid stream of fire as you sip his famous Blue Blazer. It turns out the Professor was both a showman and a pioneer in his own right. 

2. 'Imbibe!: From Absinthe Cocktail to Whiskey Smash, a Salute in Stories and Drinks to "Professor" Jerry Thomas, Pioneer of the American Bar

I should mention that we don't arrive at the famous 'Prohibition era' until nearly 60 years after Thomas first wrote How to Mix Drinks, but we'll jump there none the less. By the early 1900s, tending bar was a respected career and the cocktail was uniquely American. 

However, The Volstead Act (prohibition) left many bartenders jobless. Some left the States to work in Europe and Cuba, while others posted up in Speakeasies across America. Harry Craddock, a UK born bartender working in the States, went back to London where he took over as the head barman at The American Bar at the Savoy Hotel.

Durning his tenure at the Savoy, Craddock wrote what is largely regarded as one of the most thorough recipe books for mixing American-style cocktails. It's a bit of an encyclopedia in length, which makes it the perfect industry standard reference book for Prohibition era drinks. So many vintage cocktails have resurfaced due to the popularity of this book and have joined the ranks of the Classics.

The Alaska cocktail, one of the first recipes in the book, appears in print several times prior to the 1930 release of The Savoy Cocktail Book. The earliest reference I can find is in the 1914 book, DRINKS, by Jacques Straub, who calls for a dash of orange in his version of the Alaska. Craddock omits the orange bitters. Why? I don't know, but every other recipe I can find calls for them so I use them. But, what I love about Craddock's version of the Alaska is the 3:1 balance of gin and yellow chartreuse -- so I use that too. 


  • 2 dashes orange bitters
  • 3/4 oz yellow chartreuse
  • 2 1/4 oz gin

Combine ingredients in a mixing glass. Add ice, stir, and strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with a lemon twist. 

3. The Savoy Cocktail Book, Harry Craddock, 1930

Dale Degroff is largely credited with reviving the profession of bartending in the late 1990s, but in my opinion (and the opinion of many others), it's the late Sasha Petraske who nearly perfected it. Sasha opened Milk & Honey in 1999 with attention placed on everything from quality spirits, fresh ingredients, accurate measurements, hand cut ice, impeccable service standards, and as for the menu -- bartender's choice.

Regarding Cocktails is a collection of M&H family recipes shared by Sasha's wife and colleagues - many of whom have gone on to open their own bars using Sasha's set of best practices. Not only will you learn a thing or two about making good drinks, you'll get a small glimpse into a little bar that inspired so many, including myself. 

4. 'Regarding Cocktails', Sasha Petraske & Georgette Moger-Petraske, 2016

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Whenever I score a new bottle of booze, I always start with a couple of classics to see how an unfamiliar brand holds up in a few familiar cocktails. When this bottle of Piscología arrived, I knew the first two cocktails I had to try were the timeless Pisco Sour and San Francisco staple, Pisco Punch. 

In short, Pisco is Peruvian grape brandy (although it can also be from Chile, but we'll save that for another day). Pisco is a wonderfully versatile spirit and we love Piscología for its floral nose and tropical finish -- think ripe banana and pecan. 

In his 1951 book, The South American Gentleman's Companion, Charles H. Baker begins his chapter on the Pisco Sour by stating, "Now for the Internationally famous Pisco Brandy Sour, which is by long odds South America's most famous and original mixed drink and founded on Pisco Brandy from Peru."

He goes on to share his recipe for the iconic drink and even mentions "spotting the foamy surface [of the cocktail] with 5 - 7 drops of Angostura bitters, which was the finishing touch put-on by the talented bar-maestro of the wonderful and luxurious Lima Country Club."

We're shaking our go-to adaptation of the recipe below! 


  • 1 egg white
  • 3/4 oz lemon & lime juice (combined)
  • 3/4 oz simple syrup
  • 2 oz Piscologia 

*Combine ingredients in a shaking tin. Dry shake (without ice), add ice, shake and strain into a chilled sour glass. Garnish with 5 drops of Angostura bitters.

Pisco had made it's way to San Francisco by the 1849 Gold Rush, largely by South American trade ships. Duncan Nicol, owner of the Bank Exchange & Billiard Saloon in San Francisco, is credited as the creator of the famous Pisco Punch. Unfortunately the Bank Exchange closed in 1919 due to Prohibition and Nicols is said to have taken the original recipe to his grave.

To this day, like many of the classics, it's a largely debated drink, and while we're not giving out our house recipe for this one, the original is said to have consisted of Pisco brandy, pineapple, lime, sugar, gum arabic, and distilled water. The punch was so strong that one writer of the day wrote “it tastes like lemonade but comes back with the kick of a roped steer.” Good luck!