Tag Archives: cocktails

Cocktail Bitters

Measuring out bitters with a dropper

Just a drop will do: Measuring out bitters. (Image taken at Calyer Restaurant, Brooklyn)

Now that cocktails have made their way back into the current drinking repertoire, it’s time to take a look at one the elements of many a good cocktail: bitters. These days, there are many different kinds of bitters with wildly diverging flavor profiles — from blueberry to celery — but their aim is the same. All bitters are concentrated elixirs of botanicals that add nuance and balance to a drink. The flavor doesn’t punch you in the mouth like a a glug of piña colada mix does — but a few drops of bitters can separate a great cocktail from a serviceable one.

A heap of classic and new recipes follow, so you can start flexing your bitters-dripping muscles right away.


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Vintage 1960s cocktail party

Sipping fireside cocktails in the 1960s.

Punches are originally from India (panch in Hindi), and were taken around the world by the boozy merchant sailors of the British East India Company. The idea of a cocktail you don’t have to make one at a time is good, so where ever it went, it took. The undiscerning rabble stuck by a charming rhyme to make their punches: “One of Sour, Two of Sweet, Three of Strong, Four of Weak.” Easy to remember if you’re already three sheets to the wind, but also handy when the kinds of alcohol and available mixers changed at each docking.

Lucky for us, we’re not limited to what can be dredged up at the port. Here are four punch recipes, dug up or invented (and taste-tested) by Lydia Reissmueller, who’s made cocktail magic in legendary bars from New York to Moscow. Right now, she’s running Tender Bar out of Portland, Oregon.


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