Trader Vic’s (1946)

“I hate like hell to bring up unpleasant things at a time like this, but go easy on this one because it’s tough on your running board,” said Trader Vic in his 1946 “Trader Vic’s Book of Food & Drink.” Not sure what tequila he was using, but this really isn’t tougher than any other drink, certainly less so than his skull-cracking Navy Grog.

Vic gets high marks for including tequila in his tiki arsenal (in the ’40s, even) – a rarity that still hasn’t been fully addressed, if you ask me. This one also includes crème de cassis – a blackcurrant liqueur that’s delicious enough to chow down on by the spoonful. Some take to boosting the flavors in this drink by using fresh-muddled ginger, infusing the tequila with a slice of jalapeño, or adding bit of mezcal – and I say a resounding “¡ay, mami chula!” to that.


Hardware: Shaker, Jigger, Barspoon, Straw (optional), Hawthorne strainer (if using Boston shaker)
Ice: Ice cubes, Cracked ice
Glassware: Collins glass
Spirits: Tequila (blanco or reposado, recommended: El Jimador, Espolón)
Mixers & Liqueurs: Crème de cassis (recommended: Gabriel Boudier), Ginger beer (recommended: Barritt’s, Reed’s Extra Ginger Brew)
Juices, Accents, & Garnishes: Lime juice, Lime wedge


In a shaker about a third-full with ice cubes, add:

1 1/2 oz tequila
oz crème de cassis
oz lime juice

Shake well to blend and chill, then strain into a Collins glass filled about two-thirds of the way up with cracked ice. Top with:

2 oz ginger beer

Stir lightly to blend and garnish with a lime wedge. Optionally, serve with a straw.

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Milk & Honey, New York City (2007)

Here’s a fine example of the current “craft” movement in cocktails – combining culinary techniques with bold flavors to create something new and amazing. This one’s by Sam Ross of Milk & Honey and Little Branch, two of New York’s craft bars getting a lot of attention these past couple years. A friend who tried this drink recently said she had an immediate flashback to watching her grandfather work on his car in his garage. Something about the smokiness of the Islay whiskey floating on top triggered that memory, and I like that idea. Not-so-basic aspects of this one: double-straining and floating a spirit on the drink’s surface. Just lower a barspoon, convex side up, to the surface of the drink and gently pour the Islay Scotch over the back of the spoon. It’ll settle on top without sinking in too much.


Hardware: Shaker, Jigger, Muddler, Barspoon, Fine mesh strainer, Cocktail pick
Ice: Ice cubes, Ice chunk
Glassware: Double Old Fashioned glass
Spirits: Scotch whiskies (blended {recommended: The Famous Grouse} & Islay {recommended: Ardbeg or Bowmore})
Mixers & Liqueurs: Honey syrup
Juices, Accents, & Garnishes: Fresh ginger, Fresh lemon juice, Candied ginger


Chill a double Old Fashioned glass in the freezer at least ten minutes.
In a shaker, add:
3 slices fresh ginger (peeled)
Muddle well to pulverize ginger and extract its juice. Add ice cubes to about a third-full, then add:
2 oz blended Scotch whisky
3/4 oz lemon juice
3/4 oz honey syrup
Shake well to blend and chill, then double-strain into the chilled glass through a fine mesh strainer over a large ice chunk or two to three ice cubes. Gently pouring over the back of a barspoon at the surface of the drink, add:
1/4 oz Islay Scotch whisky
Garnish with a slice of candied ginger skewered on a cocktail pick.


Honey Syrup keeps honey from freezing and seizing when mixed in cocktails. Just mix three parts honey with one part water over low heat and stir to combine. Keep cool.

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