Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Planter's punch

Picture this if you will, a Southern gentleman in his white plantation suit and hat sitting on the veranda of an old Antebellum home somewhere in Kentucky fanning himself and sipping on a refreshing drink such as planters punch.
This drink was very typical of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in large plantations in the south and in the Caribbean where rum, sugar and tobacco were the best crops and it was hot and humid and drinks like this were a necessity. The punch was a simple mixture of local rums, often with cane syrup and citrus juices which was sometimes produced on the same plantation. I've had this drink and can't say enough about it being so refreshing especially during the long hot summer days. Try it and let me know what you think.


John Apodaca

Planters Punch

3/4 oz Myer's dark Rum
3/4 oz light rum
3/4 oz orange curacao
1/2 oz John K. Taylor's Velvet Falernum
1 oz simple syrup
3/4 oz fresh squeezed orange juice
3/4 oz unsweetened pineapple juice
1/2 oz fresh squeezed lime juice
Dash of grenadine
Dash of Angostura bitters
Orange slice and Marasca cherry for garnish

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Forest Fizz ( A drink for the designated driver)

The fourth of July will be here in less then a week, most likely there will be alcohol at a lot of parties and some guests should either drink responsibly or have a designated driver. The only problem is what's the the non drinker going to have? Since fresh fruit is in season and it's used it in a lot of classic cocktails why not try the Forest Fizz. Both adults and kids alike can have this tasty drink and not feel like they're missing out. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

John Apodaca

The Forest Fizz

One handful of fresh blueberries
One handful of fresh blackberries
6 - 8 raspberries
1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
1 tsp powdered sugar
top off with club soda.

Place the berries in a blender with the lemon juice. Sprinkle the sugar over the berries, blend until smooth and strain with a strainer into a highball glass filled with ice. Top with club soda and garnish with selection of berries on a cocktail stick and serve with a straw.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Whiskey Cobbler

As a kid during on a hot day summer, I craved a snow cone to help cool me off and my ears would delight in hearing the musical sounds from the nearby ice cream man on his way to my block knowing that I would soon be satisfied. As an adult, I love shaved ice drinks one such is Whiskey Cobbler that contains fresh fruit that I can sit on my patio and sip and enjoy as I watch the sun set. It's an easy drink and I recommend it for your fourth of July celebrations. 

Whiskey Cobbler

2 fresh pineapple wedges, one with skin and one without
2 orange slices
2 lemon wedges 
3/4 oz orange curacao
2 oz top shelf whiskey

In the bottom of a bar glass, muddle the skinless pineapple wedge, 1 piece of orange, and 1 piece of lemon with the orange curacao and o1 once of water.  Add the whiskey and ice and shake well. Strain into an double old-fashioned glass filled with crushed or shaved ice. Garnish with the remaining pineapple wedge an orange wedge and a lemon wedge. 

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Time for Mississippi Punch

When it comes to Mississippi Punch, master Barman Jerry Thomas said in the nineteenth century, " Wherever it's from, it testifies to the capacity and taste of our forbears." In other words we can't be sure where in South this punch originates but punches where very popular in the 1850's and served in parties and drinking establishments and this one happen to be a winner.

Mississippi Punch

2 oz of Brandy
1 oz of Jamaican Rum
1 oz of Whiskey Bourbon
1 Tbsp of powdered sugar
Juice of half a large lemon

Squeeze the lemon juice into a mixing glass, add the sugar, and stir to dissolve it. Add the spirits and the iced and shake well and serve.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Prescription Julep just what the doctor ordered

We've often heard it said this will cure whatever ails you. There happen to be some medical humor from "A Winter in the South," a series that ran in Harper's Monthly in 1857.  The Doctor wrote out a prescription  for a patient that goes like this. White sugar, with spring water as as necessary, strong cognac, spirits of Rye, mint leaves, as desired, thus we get the Prescription Julep. 

I tried this julep at the Varnish bar in downtown Los Angeles and it was one of the best drinks I've ever had and is great to sip on during a hot summer day just like in the old South. 


John Apodaca 

Prescription Julep

2 oz White sugar
1 oz Spring water
1 1/2 oz strong cognac
1/2 oz Rye Whiskey
Mint leaves as desired

Dissolve the sugar in the water, lightly press the mint leaves in the resulting syrup, add the spirits and ice, and stir. Add another sprig of mint leaves for garnish on top of the ice. Serve in a julep cup with a straw. 

Friday, June 25, 2010

Death in the Afternoon

Death in the Afternoon is a book published by Ernest Hemingway in 1932 and depicts the ceremony and traditions of Spanish Bullfighting. The book provides readers with the history and magnificence of the sport
along with the deeper contemplation on the nature of fear and courage. Hemingway became a bullfighting aficionado after seeing the Pamplona fiesta in the 1920s which he also wrote about in The Sun Also Rises.

Death in the Afternoon also refers to a cocktail that is said was invented by the writer himself, with two ingredients Absinthe and Champagne. I had a chance to try it and I can say it's very tasty and simple to make for you're next party or when you're sitting relaxing. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

God bless & Cheers,

John Apodaca

Death in the Afternoon

1/2 oz Absinthe (La Fee Absinthe Parisienne)
4 1/2 oz Champagne Perrier-Jouet)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Aviation Cocktail

One of last great cocktails invented before prohibition was the Aviation cocktail. It's mentioned in several bartenders book such as the Savoy Cocktail book 1930, Recipes for Mixed Drinks and one 1911 News paper called the New York Knickerbocker press.

The drink fell into obscurity because the Crème de Violette stopped being produced but since it's comeback thanks to Rothman and Winter, our palates can jump for joy. Crème de Violette is made from Violette's growing in the Alps and adds such wonderful flavor to this tasty cocktail along with Aviation Gin . Give it a try and let me know how you like it.


John Apodaca

The Aviation Cocktail # 1

2 oz    Gin (Aviation Gin)
1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
2 tsp Maraschino liqueur
1/4 oz Crème de Violette

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake very hard for a 30 seconds and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A Vitamin for Drinkers

I stumbled upon this article a couple of weeks ago and thought I should share it with you. You can take it with a grain of salt or try it out to see if it works.

Your quest for immaculate health has taken you many strange places.

You've consulted physicians. You've read scholarly journals. For one brief, crazy moment, you were in congress with a medicine man who may or may not have married your spirit with a bald eagle.

But through it all, you've made sure to get your regularly scheduled intake of the one substance you couldn't be healthy without: booze.

Which brings us to another miracle of science:Drinkwel, the world's first daily multivitamin designed especially for drinkers, available now.

Now, first things first: we're not doctors, and so we couldn't say whether this pill will make your life better, worse or changed in a way you may never fully understand. All we can say is that when someone has the chutzpah to attempt such a noble project, we feel it's our solemn duty to make you aware of those efforts.

As for what this is, it's basically a multivitamin—clear capsules loaded with a powder that contains basics like vitamin C—that's been tricked out with ingredients known for their booze-fighting properties. Think healthy-sounding-enough ingredients like amino acids (which help your body process the sauce) and milk thistle, known to help detox your liver. (Never trust a multivitamin without milk thistle.) You're advised to take three a day, and three more if you're drinking to excess.

We're not quite sure what that means.

God bless & Cheers,

John Apodaca

Saturday, June 19, 2010

National Martini Day

If you didn't know that June 19th is national Martini day, well by all means let's all raise a glass. It has an interesting history along with several stories of how it actually came into being. The most famous of them is legendary bartender Jerry Thomas who was working at the Occidental Hotel in San Fransisco, CA in the second half of the nineteenth century.  When a traveler on his way to Martinez, CA stopped in for a drink and wanted him to make him something special, Jerry created one in honor of the place he was headed.  He mixed one pony (one ounce) Old Tom Gin, one wine glass (four ounces) Italian sweet vermouth, a dash of Boker's bitters, two dashes of maraschino liqueur, and called it the Martinez cocktail.  The Martini has evolved over the decades and some even think a Martini is made with Vodka and various flavored syrups, but that's proves criminal negligence!

If you talk about a classic Martini, then it's a two to one ratio (that dates back to 1915) including bitters. Meaning two parts of top shelf gin to one part dry or semi dry vermouth and a few dashes of orange bitters, shaken very hard and served in a stem glass usually about three to four ounces. A popular recipe I use is the following:

Classic Martini

1 1/2 oz gin (such as No 209 or Hendricks) Don't even think about Beefeaters or Seagrams
3/4 oz vermouth such as Cinzano  Blanco or dry
2 - 3 dashes of orange bitters (such as Regan's or Fee Brothers)

Shake very hard with ice for about 20 seconds and serve in a chilled cocktail glass.

Give it a try and let me know what you think, happy National Martini day!

God bless and Cheers,

John Apodaca

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Singapore Sling

There are many types of slings that date far back into the 19th century and too many to count. Both world wars brought these recipes back to the states but the most famous of these is the Singapore Sling. It was created in 1915 by Ngiam Tong Boon a bartender at the Raffles Hotel in Singapore. According to Charles Baker the Raffles Sling was" immortal, never forgotten a delicious, slow-acting insidious thing". I believe he was right and you will too. Give it a try and let me know how you like it.


John Apodaca

Singapore Sling

2 oz gin
3/4 oz Cherry Heering or other cherry flavored brandy.
2 tsp Benedictine
2 tsp Cointreau
2 oz pineapple juice
3/4 oz fresh lime juice
2 dashes of real pomegranate grenadine
1 dash of Angostura Bitters
Soda water

Combine all except soda water in an iced cocktail shaker. Shake and pour into a highball or collins glass, add ice and top off with soda water. Garnish with a cherry , pineapple slice and orange wheel.

Queen's Park Swizzle

My theme this week has been on vintage tiki based drinks and another one you'll love is called Queen's Park Swizzle. This was invented back in 1946 in Trinidad with plenty of Guyanese Rum that makes it cool and refreshing drink for summer. You don't have to go to a tiki bar to have one, I've provided the recipe for you and it could also be found at some vintage style cocktail bars in Los Angeles, Orange County or from my acquaintance Matt Robold who runs the website Try it and let me know how you like it.


John Apodaca

Queen's Park Swizzle

3 oz Demerara Rum
.75 oz lime juice
.5 oz simple syrup
3 dashes of Angostura Bitters
Fresh mint for garnish

Add ingredients into a collins glass along with crushed ice and swizzle with a bar spoon until the glass is frosted over. Garnish with fresh mint. 

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Navy Grog AKA The Ancient Mariner

Last week I wrote on Don of Don the Beachcombers restaurant and bar and I mentioned had created several cocktails including the Navy Grog also known as the Ancient Mariner. It's a rum based drink and I've had the pleasure of tasting it at 320 Main in Seal Beach, CA and at  Caña  Rum bar in Downtown Los Angeles.

This is is a wonderful drink that can be served at you're next Patio Daddy-O function this summer and also can be found in Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails.

Navy Grog (Ancient Mariner)

1 oz Demerara rum not the 151 proof
1 oz Dark Jamaican rum
3/4 oz fresh lime juice
1/2 oz grapefruit juice
1/2 oz simply syrup
1/4 oz Allspice Dram

Build in an old-fashioned glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with a lime wedge and a mint sprig.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Don The Beachcomber

Whenever I drive down Pacific Coast Highway to go surfing, I pass Don the Beach Combers restaurant. Don's is not really new like most would think, the history of the Don's goes back to the 1930s. The Founder  was born Ernest Raymond Beaumont Gantt in Limestone County Texas in 1907 and left home in 1926 and traveled around the word including the islands of the Caribbean and the South Pacific. He was a former bootlegger during prohibition  and in 1934 opened up Don's Beachcomber cafe in Hollywood and a later changed the name to Don the Beachcomber along with his name to Don Beach. Don's gained popularity due to it's tropical decorated theme and wonderful tiki drinks made from various rums and Don's own secret recipe.

Don had several exotic drinks that patrons loved such as the Zombie, Navy Grog, Tahitian Rum Punch and many other cocktails along with what customers considered wonderful cuisines but were nothing more than standard Cantonese dishes served with flair. There were several chains of Don's across the country with the help of his wife in the 1940's and 1950's but his competitor Trader Vic's ( another Tiki themed restaurant) had more locations then Don's and both of them claimed they invented the Mai Tai.

Gantt Divorced his wife and business partner in the 1950s and because she had control over the restaurants he wasn't allowed to open any more locations in the United States so moved to Hawaii before Statehood to continue his operation. He settled in Waikiki and opened up his Polynesian Village and International Marketplace in Honolulu and had his office up in the center of a giant Banyan tree. He also built an elaborate houseboat in hopes it would catch on as floating housing in Hawaii but it never did and he lived and retired in it Moorea. It was destroyed  later after several hurricanes and Don died later in Honolulu.

There's been a revival of the restaurant since the early 2000s starting in Disney's California Adventure but no alcohol was served along with the newer Don the Beachcomber in Huntington Beach, CA. Unfortunately I've been to Don's in Huntington Beach and tried the Mai Tia and Zombie and  they seem to be missing correct ingredients. I've used recipes from vintage cocktail books that are more flavorful. On the other hand, Don used a "secrete recipe" that he would change from time to time so no one may really know what his original recipe for his drinks are. I have one recipe for a Zombie I use which I find is very tasty and after serving it to a friend of mine a few days ago he now realizes why they call it a Zombie, because he felt like one afterwards.  Give it a try and let me know what you think.


John Apodaca

Don the Beachcombers Zombie 

1 Tsp brown sugar
1 oz fresh lemon juice
1 oz Gold Puerto Rican Rum
1 oz 151 - proof Demerar Rum from Guyana
1 oz White Puerto Rican Rum
1 oz unsweetened pineapple juice
1 oz fresh lime juice
1 oz passion fruit juice
1 dash angostura bitters

Dissolve the brown sugar in the lemon juice and combine it with the other ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well and serve it in a collins glass over ice.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Carrie A Nation The Famous and Original Bar Room Smasher

The recent primary election results are a fine example of woman who are movers and shakers in society. There was one many have forgotten who headed the temperance movement at the end of the nineteenth and early part of the twentieth centuries named Carrie A. Nation. She was known for making a point of her cause by entering an alcohol serving establishment with a hatchet and destroying the bar.

Nation was a large woman almost six feet tall, 175 pounds and a stern countenance and described herself as "a bulldog running along the feet of Jesus, barking at what he doesn't like." Many of Nations family members suffered from mental illnesses and her mother had a delusion that she was Queen Victoria. Nation was first married to Charles Gloyd who was a severe alcoholic and the two divorced after the birth of the her daughter. She married a second time to David Nation who was a minister, news paper editor and attorney and had a try at running a hotel.

Later Nation and her husband moved to Medicine Lodge, Kansas where David Nation found a job as preacher in a local church. Carry there started her work in the temperance movement and would greet bartenders in front of saloons with "good morning destroyer of men's souls". She began to pray for direction and it's said she heard from a voice telling her to Go to KIOWA and to take something in her hands and smash them. Responding to her revelation, Nation gathered several rocks (smashers she called them) and entered Dobson's Saloon and announced "men I have come to save you from a drunkards fate" and began smashing up the bar with her rocks. After destroying a few more bars in Wichita Kansas her husband jokingly said, why not use a hatchet for maximum damage her reply was "that is the most sensible thing you've said since we've been married", they soon divorced.

She, accompanied by several women would sing hymns and go into bars smashing them up, get arrested and have to pay fines. Carrie Nation lead a movement which eventually lead to prohibition but towards the end of that era people saw it created more problems then it solved. She was a mover, shaker and smasher and her name is joked about by several of us bartenders and patrons that enjoy well made libations. Next time you have a cocktail say here's to Carry Nation.


John Apodaca

Friday, June 4, 2010

Will the Real Mai Tai please Stand up!

The Mai Tai has a Polynesian name but was invented by Victor Bergeron (Trader Vic) in Emeryville, California in 1944.  According to documented accounts Vic was manning the bar at his restaurant (Hinky Dink's when two of his Tahitian friends asked him to make them something unusual. Vic did so and after tasting the drink they raised their glasses shouted "Mai tai Roa ae" which loosely translated, means the best damn thing we've ever drunk.

The cocktail has some complex flavors that are both sweet and sharp, I've tried the recipe and have made it for friends and they love it. Unfortunately over the years like a lot of cocktails, lazy bartenders have used shortcuts to make the drink and it has been degraded to nothing more than spiked fruit punch. If your serious about quality bartending using ingredients that were intended for this cocktail use the following recipe and let me know how it comes out.


John Apodaca

Mai Tai

1 oz light Rum
1 oz dark Rum
Juice of one lime
1/2 oz orange Curacao
1 1/2 oz simple syrup
1 1/2 tsp orgeat (almond syrup)
Lime peel
Mint sprig

Place rums, curacao and syrups in a cocktail shaker with cracked ice. Shake and strain into a chilled old fashioned glass with ice and garnish with lime and mint. Serve with a straw.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Carpano Antica a wonderful sweet vermouth

There are so many cocktails and not enough good vermouths but I found one at a Bartenders Cabinet meeting last month called Carpano Antica. It's been called the king of sweet vermouth and dates back to 1786 from Turin Italy and was invented by Antonio Benedetto Carpano and is a secret family recipe.  For your information this vermouth is an aromatised wine that's flavored with a variety of botanicals that makes it very complex but gives great body when mixing it in a Manhattan, Negroni, Americano or to even drink it on it's own over ice is tasty.

You can find this at you're local liquor warehouse or look on line for it. I've used it in the cocktails I make and featured it on Martini in the morning show and you can't go wrong with it. Let me know what you think.


John Apodaca

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Bartending schools = bad bartenders

When I had decided to go to bartending school over two years ago, I thought I might be able to learn the secrets of good bartending, was I wrong. I was taught a lot of short cuts using things such as sweet and sour, speed guns and not even learning how to make a classic martini.

I remember the two weeks was very rushed with a brief descriptions of base spirits and was told a good bartender could crank out 10 drinks in five minutes. I also brought in orange bitters and some of my own bartending books I had collected such as the Craft of the Cocktail, Hollywood cocktails and Vintage cocktails and the teachers looked at the books and especially Regan's orange bitters and told me they had never seen them. One of the instructors even tried to convince me that classic martinis don't take orange bitters and he finally looked it up in a bartending book not from the school and told me "oh, I guess you're right" and this guy is supposed to be teaching me? I was also told that most high volume bars such as the corporate chains like Elephant bar, TGI Fridays or BJ's would hire a hot looking 20 something year old girl then a good looking guy so where does that leave a lot of the bartending students. Other options were to either work at a dive bar or a gay bar. That's why I started Daddy-O's martinis and have no regrets because I care what I create for clients and friends alike and want to use fresh fruits, herbs, top shelf spirits and proper balance and flavors rather than high fructose syrups and cheep liquor.

If all someone wants to do is pour vodka and Red bull, Jager bombs and serve cheep beer all night long,  great there's plenty of places like that to find some work . On the other hand if one cares about bartending as a craft or an art then bartending schools are not the way to go. You're best off buying some recommended books and learn from find a bartender that is creating cocktails they way they were intended to be made. I recommend looking for prohibition style bars and talking with the bartenders or there are a lot of online forums and groups you can join to learn more about classic cocktails, punches, juleps, sours, smashes and crustas. I'll list a few resources to get started but you can always ask me and find an answer for you.


John Apodaca

Recommended books

Craft of the Cocktail by Dale DeGroff

Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails: From the Alamagoozlum to the Zombie 100 Rediscovered Recipes and the Stories Behind ThemVintage Spirits and forgotten Cocktails by Ted Haigh AKA Dr. Cocktail

Classic Cocktails by Salvatore Calabrese

How's your Drink? by Eric Felten

Vintage Cocktails by Susan Waggoner and Robert Markel

Imbibe by David Wondrich

Online Resources