Mixing the Museum – The Bijou

I’m taking some liberties in our visit to the Museum.  I’m skipping a couple of drinks (Between the sheets – a great cocktail, and one we’ll revisit someday; The Berlin Station Chief – sounds weird and I just can’t bring myself to make it yet; The Bellini – I’m waiting until peaches are in season) and moving onto the Bijou.

The Bijou Cocktail was created by Mr. Harry Johnson and the consensus is that the recipe first appeared in his book The New and Improved Bartenders Manual.  This is a spirit-forward herbal cocktail, containing equal parts gin, vermouth, Green Chartreuse and bitters.  Let’s take a look at one of the ingredients of this cocktail, and special favorite of mine.

Green Chartreuse (it also comes in Yellow) is an herbal liqueur made by Carthusian monks, and it really is green.  The recipe is thought to have originated in 1605 as an “elixir of long life.”  The recipe is a carefully guarded secret, and to this day, supposedly only two monks at any one time know the recipe for the herbal mixture that is used to make Green Chartreuse.

Fun DrinkScience Fact

(I’ll do the research so you can impress your friends at your next cocktail party):

The liqueur’s emerald green color is derived from this stuff:

The 'Green' in Green Chartreuse

The ‘Green’ in Green Chartreuse is Chlorophyll B which is produced by the 132 botanical ingredients used to make the liqueur.  (Interestingly, chlorophyll also contributes to the color of absinthe).

Chlorophyll donates an electron in this reaction.

Chlorophyll is involved in a cascade of sophisticated reactions known as Photosynthesis (simplified above).  This is how plants get energy and produce oxygen, and is in fact the source for the majority of all oxygen in our atmosphere.

So it is with no great surprise that Green Chartreuse was known as an elixir of long life, for the same ingredients that make this liqueur, also contribute to the air we breath.

The Bijou Cocktail 

  • 30 ml Plymouth Gin
  • 30 ml Green Chartreuse
  • 30 ml Dolin Sweet Vermouth
  • Dash of Orange Bitters
  • Stir, strain in to  a chilled cocktail glass, garnish with cherry and lemon twist.  Cheers!

    The Bijou by Sugar Sand Photography


A New Day in the Laboratory – Make Some Bench Space for Sugar Sand Photography

There have been many famous duos and partnerships throughout history….Laverne and Shirley, Rocky and Bullwinkle, Bonnie and Clyde, Captain and Tennille, Tarzan and Jane, Thelma and Louise, and the list goes on.  Today, a new partnership and dynamic duo joins this illustrious list of famous twosomes.  I am pleased to announce that Sugar Sand Photography is teaming with the Libation Laboratory to bring you not only tasty cocktail recipes, history, science and narrative, but also sparkly, shiny, mouth-watering pictures to photo document the adventure.  The Laboratory is lucky to have the expertise of Sugar Sand Photography; this is some serious professional photography, folks.  It’s safe to say, the Libation Laboratory has just kicked it up a notch.  Stay tuned, keep your hands in the car, and hang on; this is going to be fun.

Hello World!

Libation Laboratory is migrating to WordPress.com. We are a work in progress in the near term.  Stay tuned.  Mixology Monday is coming up on June 20th.  We’ll be doing an inaugural post on the new site featuring a cocktail created by one of the preeminent bars in the country.

>Mixing the Museum – The Bamboo Cocktail


As work and life (too much of the former; the latter all good, more please) happen and diversions occur (one of which was an awesome trip to some of the best cocktail bars in DC – we’ll read about that in a future post), we are still slowly making our way through the Mixing the Museum exercise. Turning the page from The Barcardi Cocktail, we come to The Bamboo.  Again, a cocktail that is novel to me, reinforcing my justification for our mock Julie/Julia blogging.  

Though originating in Japan, The Bamboo cocktail is credited to a German gentleman, Mr. Louis Eppinger, who managed the luxurious Grand Hotel in Yokohama, Japan in the 1890’s.  In the late 1800’s this elegant hotel, a playground for affluent Westerners, opened in Yokohama, a major trading center of the time.  Yokohama was one of the first major port cities in Japan, and is today, Japan’s second largest city.  Because of its prominence in foreign and Western trading, the city quickly became home to many foreigners and was influenced heavily by those from Great Britain, Germany, and America.  Mr. Louis Eppinger likely created the Bamboo cocktail to cater to his Western clientele.  Except for originating in Japan and the distinctive botanical name, there is nothing very Japanese about the cocktail.  

Unfortunately much of Yokohama and the Grand Hotel was destroyed by a large earthquake in September 1923.  The earthquake and Tsunami that devastated Japan in March 2011 was Northeast of Yokohama, and thus little damage occurred there.   

The Bamboo
1 oz. Dolin Dry Vermouth
1 oz. Lustau Dry Amontillado sherry
1 dash Angostura Bitters
2 dashes Orange Bitters (Regans #6)
Stir and strain into a vintage cocktail glass. 
We garnished ours with an olive.

So mix it, drink it, enjoy it.

>Mixing the Museum – The Barcardi Cocktail


We are through the ‘A’s’ in this empirical research exercise.  As we move on to the ‘B’s’ it’s clear to me that there is value in this research.   Next up in my MOTAC book is the Bacardi Cocktail.  The what?  I’ve never even heard of the Bacardi Cocktail.  I know Bacardi is a brand of Rum, so I’m pretty sure the Bacardi Cocktail is probably rum based.

Hello Wiki-Webtender friend, help me out.  Sources say this drink is “an IBA Official Cocktail.”  The IBA…that sounds important. [apparently, I have alot to learn before embarking on my alternative career].  The IBA is the International Bartenders Association, and the Bacardi Cocktail is “one of many cocktails selected by the IBA for use in the annual World Cocktail Competition in bartending.”

The Bacardi Cocktail has been around in some iteration or another since the early 1900’s.  In the late 1930’s a New York appellate court ruled that to be called the Bacardi cocktail required the use of only Bacardi brand rum.  Use something other than Bacardi, call your cocktail by another name.

The basic mix for the Bacardi is rum, lemon or lime juice and grenadine. 

Fun DrinkScience Fact (I’ll do the research so you can impress your friends at your next cocktail party):

Let’s take a moment to talk about Grenadine.  Grenadine was originally made with pomegranate juice and sugar.  In fact, grenadine is derived from the French word ‘grenade’ meaning pomegranate. Pomegranates have had an illustrious place in history and were mentioned during Homer’s waxing poetic about Aphrodite in the 7th Century BC.

In addition to being a necessary and tasty ingredient in many cocktails, Grenadine is good for you!  Pomegranates are absolutely brimming with antioxidants or polyphenols, such as tannins (drink more wine, people!) and catechins.

Chemical Structure of Catechin

Know Your Phenolics by Washington State Viticulture and Enology Group is a site that contains more information about antioxidants than you would ever want to know.  Basically, our bodies are in a constant battle with a nasty little type of molecule called a free radical.  You might think that a name containing “free” would be indicative of something positive, but not in this case.  Free radicals contain an unpaired electron making them highly reactive and thus cause damage to our DNA, proteins, and cells.  Research has shown that free radicals can cause both cancer and heart disease.  Antioxidants (drink more grenadine cocktails, people!) mitigate the damage caused by free radicals by donating an extra electron to the free radical.  No longer “free” the molecule is now harmless and cannot cause continuing cellular damage.  However, antioxidants are only good for one electron-donating-reaction.  Basically, antioxidants are single-use, which is why we are told to eat (and drink) a diet rich in antioxidants.  This concludes today’s nutrition lesson.  Back to Grenadine……

We’ve all seen that bottle of ACME red liquid next to the Angostura bitters on the shelf in the grocery store.  The ACME red liquid is high fructose corn syrup and disodium 6-hydroxy-5-((2-methoxy-5-methyl-4-sulfophenyl)azo)-2-naphthalenesulfonate (affectionately known as FD&C 40).  I would suggest that you not buy this product.  Instead, make your own.

There are many recipes for house-grenadine.  I use the recipe from Imbibe with slight variations.

House Grenadine
8oz POM
1 c Turbinado Sugar
1 Stash Pomegranate Raspberry Green Tea bag
Heat until sugar is melted. Let tea steep for ~30 min. Cool.
Add 2 tsp Orange Flower Water
1 oz Vodka
Bottle and refrigerate.  

The Bacardi Cocktail
45ml Bacardi Rum
25ml lime juice
15ml simple syrup
7.5ml grenadine
Shake, strain into cocktail glass.  Drink, enjoy, be healthy!

>Mixology Monday – Some Like It Hot


I have been wanting to participate in the ‘Mixology Monday‘ series for some time now.  I was intimidated by last month’s theme ‘See You on the Flipside’.  I think I’ve only mixed a couple of flips, and didn’t really enjoy either of them.  But this month…’Some Like It Hot’ chosen by The Backyard Bartender, Nancy, seemed like a theme I could take a stab at.  Nancy’s rules were pretty simple:  “make anything you want to, as long as it’s served hot.”  It turns out the timing for hot drinks was perfect, as the PNW has suddenly become an arctic tundra zone.

A friend of mine recently gifted me the Mr. Boston Holiday Cocktails book.  One of the drinks I had marked, but not yet mixed, was a hot toddy type of cocktail made with a smoky single malt scotch, St. Germain, and Chamomile Tea.  The Inventory is currently devoid of smoky single malt scotches, so what could be the alternative?   I recently attended a Japanese Whisky tasting with the LUPEC Seattle group that was generously hosted by Liberty.  Of the varieties that we tried, my favorite was Suntory’s Hibiki 12yr Blended Whisky and I subsequently added this to the Inventory.  Up until now, I have been enjoying the Hibiki neat, but this whisky might make a nice stand-in for the smoky single malt in my hot drink recipe.

Here’s my variation of a ‘Some Like It Hot’ Drink: 

ma chère margaret
1.5 oz Hibiki 12yr
0.5 oz St. Germain
0.5 oz honey (I might go with less next time)
4.0 oz Chamomile Tea

Build ingredients in a mug.  Garnish with lemon.  Enjoy.

This is my first submission to Mixology Monday.  I would ask that you all go easy on me.  I realize that my hot drink isn’t really that original.  But when I’m freezing in the arctic tundra, and need something to warm me up, I’ll turn to a hot-toddy drink variation every time.

Thanks for hosting Nancy.  I’m eager to see what drinks others recommend to take the chill off.

>Cocktails for a Cause! LUPEC Throws a Party!


The inaugural Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails (LUPEC) group was founded in 2001 in Pittsburgh.   The group was established with the goal of “dismantling the patriarchy – one drink at a time.”  Their Mission Statement:

“In a post-millenium world of beer and prepackaged Chex Mix™, LUPEC works tirelessly to breed, raise, and release cocktails that are endangered or even believed to be extinct.  The collecting of anachronistic recipes by women, and the resulting creation of endangered cocktails in an all woman setting is intended to achieve the following goals:
    • To create a secular “coven-like” atmosphere in which Classy Broads of today can invoke and honor the spirits of their Forebroads
    • To continue the 150 year American tradition of dangerous women calling themselves Ladies and getting together in groups, clubs, and societies to work undercover while they chipped away at the patriarchy.
    • To protect the collective Joie de Vivre of LUPEC members by assuring them at least one good party a month
    • To encourage the accumulation and use of vintage serving and barware.”

Since the formation of the original Pittsburgh group, active LUPEC chapters now exist in a number of other cities such as New York, Boston, Denver, Portland, and Seattle

Saturday Night, the Seattle Ladies of LUPEC opened the door (of the Rob Roy Penthouse) to the masses.  What an opportunity was bestowed upon the Seattle cocktail community.  Lucky guests (yes, guys too) could join the Ladies for a night of tasty, original cocktails and hors d’oeuvres.  The cocktail menu included drinks by Anu Apte and Jenn Hegstrom and were made with the new Makers Mark 46 (loved the Hestia!), Voyager Gin, Sound Spirits Ebb and Flow Vodka, and Corrido Tequila.  Proceeds from the evening benefited the Jubilee Women’s Center. 

Ted Munat was there mixing cocktails and signing his book Left Coast Libations.  (Buy. This. Book.) Please read his wildly entertaining blog post about his coming-of-age exploits with a young pre-LUPEC group. 

The integrated LUPEC party was a great success.  Stay tuned for more LUPEC fun.  I’m sure there will be future opportunities for the boys to join again.

LUPEC Ladies with Token Boy

>Mixing the Museum – The Aviation

>While surfing the World Wide Web doing my research for the next installment of Mixing the Museum, it quickly becomes clear to me that everyone except for me has mixed, drank, reviewed, and written up the Aviation.  Basically, The Aviation has been put to bed.  However, I will not let this thwart my determination to become a better booze aficionado.  I will stand by my commitment to mix every drink in MOTAC and Mr. Hess and Ms. Miller say that The Aviation is next.  So onward we go….

The Aviation cocktail first appeared in print in 1916 in the book “Recipes for Mixed Drinks,” authored by Mr. Hugo Ensslin, the bartender at the Wallick Hotel in Times Square, New York.  It is unknown whether Mr. Ensslin created the cocktail or merely was the first to record its ingredients allowing others to re-create this drink.  In fact David Wondrich, cocktail historian extraordinaire has found a 1911 reference to The Aviation cocktail (though no recipe was included with the mention).  Mr Ensslin’s original recipe called for gin, lemon juice, maraschino, and creme de violette, a floral violet liqueur.  The recipe next appeared in print in the classic 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book.  However, between 1916 and 1930, the Creme de Violette dropped from the recipe. 

For this exercise I wanted to mix the cocktail from MOTAC, but also Mr Ensslin’s version with the Creme de Violette.  But first a word about Violet liqueur….

Creme de Violette appeared in several pre-prohibition cocktail classics, but fell out of favor post-prohibition.  Perhaps, the violet, floral notes of the liqueur were thought to be old-fashioned and really, who wants to equate hugging your grandma with drinking a tasty cocktail.  Unless, of course, your grandma doesn’t wear flowery perfume and can drink you under the table.  No matter, in 2008, Rothman and Winter resurrected Creme de Violette.  The liqueur is “produced from a careful maceration of Queen Charlotte and March Violets in “Weinbrand” (this distilled from grapes), with cane sugar added for sweetness.”  And it is a beautiful color.  

Let’s mix The Aviation (x2) and toast to Grandmas everywhere.

The Aviation (MOTAC)
2 oz. Plymouth Gin
0.5 oz. Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
0.25 oz. lemon juice

Shake with ice – strain into a cocktail glass.
Garnish with a cherry.

In searching for a recipe using the Creme de Violette, I came upon Stevi Deter’s post where she mixed, with great success,  The Aviation using Magellan gin.  Perfect.  She suggests using Magellan in the violette version of The Aviation.  I’ll do it.

The ‘Blue’ Aviation
2 oz. Magellan Gin
0.5 oz. Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
0.25 oz. Rothman & Winter Creme de Violette
0.5 oz. lemon juice

Shake with ice – strain into a cocktail glass.
Garnish with a cherry.

I enjoyed both variations of this classic cocktail, but preferred the slight sweetness imparted by the Creme de Violette in The ‘Blue’ Aviation.  Besides, I’ve always been a sucker for the color blue and my Grandma.

Cheers, Grandma!

>Mixing the Museum – A Triumvirate to Start

>I’m certainly glad I didn’t commit to 100 drinks in 100 days.  After more than two weeks of mulling things over and numerous delays, we are finally kicking off the “Mixing the Museum” project we described in our last post.   The book, the Museum of the American Cocktail Pocket Recipe Guide (MOTAC) compiled and edited by superstar cocktail aficionados Robert Hess and Anistatia Miller, is a brilliant little tome that everyone must have in their cocktail libary.  There are 100 cocktail recipes that we will be working our way through in the days to come.

KB’s visit was a perfect opportunity to dive into the MOTAC project.  Two super-tasters in the house!…right on!…let’s try to get through a few of these cocktails.  First up…The Algonquin.

A swank hotel that opened in the early 1900’s in New York City, the Algonquin was known for being one of the first hotels to accept single women travelers.  Notably, the early literary feminists Gertrude Stein and Simone de Beauvoir were known to frequent the Algonquin Hotel.  While it is intriguing to think about the conversations these women would have engaged in over a cocktail, their talk would not have been loosened by liquor as prohibition was in full force during much of the time that Gertrude and Simone might have crossed paths in New York City.  Let’s sip an Algonquin in their honor and imagine sharing the bar with these avant-garde women.  

The Algonquin

The Algonquin
2oz. rye (Old Overholt)
1oz. dry vermouth (Dolin)
1oz. fresh pineapple juice

Shake with ice – strain into a cocktail glass.
Garnish with a cherry.

I wanted to like this cocktail.  Rye, vermouth, pineapple juice…what’s not to like?  But the flavor combination just didn’t knock me off my feet.  No complaints from KB and CR.  What’s next?

Turn the page….The Americano.…..  Queue the singing gondolier…

This cocktail dates to the mid 1800’s and was created by Gaspare Campari, and was first served in his bar Caffe Campari in Milan, Italy.  As you probably guessed, Gaspare created the aperitif herbal liqueur Campari.  With a tip of the hat to the ingredient’s brand geography, it was originally known as the Milano-Torino.  Apparently, in the early 1900’s there were such great numbers of Americans in Italy enjoying the Milano-Torino, the people of Italy chose to show their appreciation and affection by renaming the cocktail, the Americano. 

Fun DrinkScience Fact (I’ll do the research so you can impress your friends at your next cocktail party):

The red color of Campari used to come from these little guys:

Dactylopius coccus

The little red beetle makes this stuff:

Carminic Acid = Red Dye

The red dye is also known as carmine.  The cochineal beetles are such impressive carmine factories that the dye actually occurs as 17-24% of the weight of the dry insects.  Besides, Campari, carmine is also used to color a number of other products, such as yogurt and ice cream as well as cosmetics. 

Apparently in the mid-2000’s Campari stopped using crushed Dactylopius coccus as a source of red carmine, and instead began to use “artificial color” to achieve the brilliant red of it’s famous liqueur.  I checked my bottle and sure enough the label reads ‘artificially colored.’

Regardless of whether my red Campari has insect based carmine or FD&C Red 40, let’s mix the Americano.  (I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never tried the Americano).

The Americano

The Americano
1oz. Campari
1oz. sweet vermouth (Dolin)
Soda Water

Build in a highball with ice.  Stir.  Top with soda water.  One more gentle stir.  Garnish with lemon twist. 

Bitter, sweet, tasty.  This is a cocktail that CR and I will enjoy sitting in the steamers looking out at the water next summer.  Or the next time we are in Milan.  Cin Cin!

The last in our triumvirate of cocktails from the MOTAC kick-off party is the Arnaud.  According to Sir Hess and Dame Miller, the Arnaud was “Invented in the 1920’s as part of a promotional campaign in which Booth’s Gin asked famous British stage and screen stars to select their favorite libations.  This particular drink was selected by and named after the French actress Yvonne Arnaud…” 

Yvonne Arnaud

Yvonne Arnaud’s singing and stage career singer spanned from the early 1900’s to 1958.  As a cocktail enthusiast, I have to say I find it impressive in a trading-card-cocktail-geek kind of way that Yvonne has a cocktail named in her honor.  I think one’s prominence in history should be measured by the fact that a classic cocktail bears their name.  Why not?  Sure, all the other stuff that they did to ensure their name is still recognized today carries a lot of weight too.  But a cocktail?  That’s cool.  And a tasty cocktail…even better. 

The Arnaud

The Arnaud
1oz. gin (Plymouth)
1oz. dry vermouth (Dolin)
1oz. creme de cassis (Clear Creek Cassis Liqueur)

Stir with ice – strain into a cocktail glass.
I didn’t garnish, though some recipe variations call for a blackberry garnish.
This was the favorite of the night for KB and CR, and I also enjoyed this cocktail.  We’ll mix it again.  This recipe makes the cocktail notebook for future use.

Let’s Go to the Museum

BACKGROUND:  New Year’s Eve 2009.  CR and I find ourselves looking for trouble in South Lake Union (SLU).  Well, actually, we’re looking for a cocktail.  I should also mention that it is approximately 1:00p in the afternoon.  By this time in my cocktail evolution, I knew of many local superstar bartenders and cocktail bloggers.  I had read that Andrew Bohrer recently moved from the Naga lounge on the Eastside (aka Montana) to create the cocktail program at the new SLU restaurant Mistral Kitchen.  You do the math, CR and I are on our way to drink Andrew Bohrer creations at Mistral Kitchen.  The joint is almost empty except for a couple at the bar.  Two spots left and we take them.  There seems to be some kind of experiment going on and our bar-mates are taking pictures of the drinks Andrew is making.

Andrew takes our order.  I ask for something Manhattan-y.  He pours some booze into a beautiful mixing glass.  Next, he proceeds to carve an ice ball the size of an orange.  And then he takes out the coolest peeler I’ve seen (everyone needs one of these) and peels an orange in one strip, which he wraps around the ice ball.  Seriously, it was the coolest thing I’ve seen.  I loved that drink.  This was a memorable day.  CR and I drinking incredible cocktails in an empty Mistral Kitchen (turns out they closed from 1p-5p, but didn’t ask us to leave) talking cocktails with Andrew Bohrer.  Best. New Years. Ever.  And it turns out that our bar-mate was A.J. Rathbun, author of Dark Spirits.  OK, I’m geeking out on this, and 99.73 % of you will be saying “so?” but I still talk about that day.

We talked cocktail books with Andrew that day.  He told us that one of the most useful books you could have was The Museum of the American Cocktail Pocket Recipe Guide.   So, this is the plan.  All in the name of science…  I’m new here, I don’t really know what I’m doing, but I want to improve my skill set.  This little cocktail book contains recipes to 100 classic cocktails that all good bartenders/mixologists/cocktail enthusiasts should know.  You know where I’m going with this right?  Oh sure, I know…not very original, not very unique.  I know it’s been done.  There’s the famous Julie and Julia Project (I promise I won’t be mean to CR).  And there’s the more subject appropriate Jerry Thomas Project (so much cooler than mine).  But, I don’t care.  I need to know this stuff.  So, here we go with the “Mixing the Museum” project.  100 cocktails in 100 TBD days.  (whoa, too ambitious.  Let’s go with TBD days).  Stay tuned for the Algonquin.