This, My Friends, is What a Cocktail Party Should Look Like (Part 2)

This is the second of our two part post on the Summer 2011 edition of Four Eleven, a  recurring cocktail party held by the authors of bybe. In this post, knowb discusses his contributions to this iteration which featured a menu of all original drinks. If you haven’t done so already, check out the first post here which introduces Four Eleven and details contributions from bybe’s other author, mccowan. Again, both authors graciously thank Mandy McGee for photographing the event and allowing us to reproduce her pictures here.

Alcohol Collection



Shake with ice:

  • 1.5 oz North Shore Aquavit
  • 0.5 oz lychee syrup
  • 1 oz watermelon puree

Strain into a cocktail glass. Add 1 oz Lindeman’s framboise lambic, mix with two strokes of the flat end of a bar spoon. Top with 3 drops orange flower water. Garnish with an orange peel spiral.

Lychee syrup

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 lb lychee

Bring the water to a boil and add the sugar. After it has dissolved, place pot on warm setting of stove. Peel each lychee, cut a portion from the fruit and remove the seed, then squeeze the flesh to add juices to the syrup before adding the fruit itself. Let sit a few hours. Strain into bottle.

The idea of doing a beer cocktail had been dormant for a while until about a month prior to Four Eleven. I purchased a few bottles of Lindemans for a games night, and the idea for a light, fruity (but not too saccharine) lambic cocktail germinated. I wanted to keep the texture and flavour of the drink light, so I used watermelon as the main component and added lychee for its mild sweetness. I intended to add a small amount of yuzu juice to the drink for its unique citrus qualities, but after scouring a few places, had no luck finding it.

I had decided on aquavit or vodka as the base spirit, and after some testing, we discovered that aquavit imparted a complexity to the Etoh that was missing in the vodka version. It comes across as a note of wheatiness when the drink first hits the tongue. I initially thought the lambic component was overly dominant; this problem was resolved by a small amount of mixing. We also discovered that the drink changes nicely as it is allowed to sit.

Note: I later discovered a similar drink currently exists on the menu at WD50 in New York City, profiled here.


High School Sweetheart

Shake with ice:

  • 1 1/2 oz rose-infused gin
  • 1/2 oz St-Germain
  • 1 tsp Rothman & Winter crème de violette

Strain into a flute or coupe glass. Top with sparkling wine, and mix with two strokes of the flat end of a bar spoon. Top with 2 dashes of rose flower water. Garnish with an orange peel spiral.

For a while, I wanted to do a drink that was entirely floral. As I am clueless when it comes to plants, the rose was the first flower that sprang to mind. I found some with a strong scent, and let the petals sit in Beefeater gin for a few days, though I’m sure there are more effective infusion methods. St-Germain and crème de violette have strong notes, and are also important components for their sweetness and colour, respectively.

I had a strong negative reaction on the first tasting, but I think the drink needs time for the bubbly to do its work. The taste is delicate, but appreciable compared against just sparkling wine. Unfortunately, the High School Sweetheart died a tragic death before she could live up to her potential: at the party, we made the first order with three-day old bubbly that had lost a good portion of its effervescence, and as a result, the drink didn’t catch on.

The Embargo

Quick, hard shake with ice:

  • 2 oz Havana Club Añejo Reserva rum
  • 3/4 oz John D. Taylor velvet falernum
  • 1 tsp Galliano
  • 1/2 oz coconut water
  • 1/4 oz apricot syrup

Strain into a highball filled with ice. Top with a dash of club soda.

Apricot syrup

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 3-4 apricots

Bring the water to a boil and add the sugar. After it has dissolved, place pot on warm setting of stove. Cut up apricots in small chunks. Add to syrup and let sit for a few hours. Strain into bottle.

Note: it may be beneficial to juice the apricots before adding them to the syrup.

My family had brought back a few bottles of real Havana Club from Cuba in 2006 that were never opened (Havana Club sold in the United States is different). The Añejo Reserva is golden and excellent for mixing, with a smooth taste that is not overpowering; it plays well with the other ingredients in the mixing glass. Falernum is a popular partner to rum, and coconut and apricot sprang out of the jumbled sea of possible flavours in my mind. Finally, I enlisted Galliano to serve as a certain je ne sais quoi for the drink.

The final recipe required quite a bit of tweaking. It was initially too watery due to an enthusiasm for club soda, which should add just a touch of carbonation to offset the smoothness of the drink and to bring out the apricot, the anise of the Galliano, and the nuttiness and spiciness of the falernum. The John D. Taylor brand of falernum is quite sweet, so we reduced the amount of apricot syrup in the drink, but this can be adjusted depending on brand choice.

The Embargo was well-received by a wide variety of drinkers at the party.


Add to mixing glass and highball filled with ice:

  • 1/16 cucumber (slice in half through its cross-section, and then slice each half lengthwise, then slice in wedges, as if one were coring half a cucumber)
  • 2 slices Asian pear
  • 3 blackberries

Add to mixing glass and shake:

  • 2 oz Pimm’s Cup No. 1
  • 1 oz Bombay Sapphire
  • 3/4 oz lemon juice
  • 3/4 oz simple syrup
  • 2 dashes Fee’s orange bitters

Strain through julep or hawthorne AND mesh into highball glass. Garnish with sprig of mint.

North American summers need more Pimm’s and less Mike’s Hard Lemonade, Smirnoff Ice, and light beer. In England, the canonical addition to Pimm’s is English lemonade, which is sweet and sort of like 7-up. I wanted to do a Pimm’s cocktail that did not overwhelm the subtle, herbal liqueur. Cucumber is a traditional addition, and I thought Asian pear also fit this requirement.

Unfortunately, the first two trials were bland, unmitigated disasters. The cocktail needed strength in both alcohol content and flavour. Adding a strongly flavoured gin, Bombay Sapphire, solved the first problem. The second was ameliorated with the addition of some blackberries, which are less forward than other commonly available berries. I also caved and added lemon juice and simple syrup. The citrus really does wonders for bringing out the other flavours. I suppose there’s a reason why Pimm’s and lemonade is a classic.


A Peruvian in Italy

Shake with ice:

  • 3/4 oz Campari
  • 1 1/2 oz Peruvian pisco
  • 1/2 oz Bénédictine
  • 1/2 oz dandelion-chrysanthemum syrup
  • 1/4 oz lemon juice

Strain into rocks glass with ice. Garnish with a lemon peel.

Dandelion-chrysanthemum syrup

I adapted the recipe from this site.

  • 1 cup water
  • Two chrysanthemum teabags
  • A few handfuls of yellow dandelion flowers
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 oz lemon juice

Immediately after picking, place flowers in water and bring to a slow boil. Boil for about a minute, and remove from heat. Add teabags. Remove teabags after a few minutes, and let sit at least a few hours. Discard flowers, add lemon juice and sugar, and simmer until sugar is dissolved. Strain into bottle.

Campari had long been on our wish list. A fantastic cocktail of potable bitters that my friend had ordered on a recent post-concert trip to the cocktail temple that is The Violet Hour inspired me. I wanted this drink to be strongly herbal and somewhat challenging because of the bitterness. I didn’t want to do a copy or variation of the Negroni, so gin was out, and I discarded the idea of using any strong liquor that would swamp the Campari. Going through a mental checklist of our stock, I remembered the bottle of pisco a friend had graciously bestowed unto us, and together with another layer from a small addition of the description-defying Bénédictine, the Peruvian began his trip to Italy.

Two childhood memories were jogged while I was thinking about additions to the recipe: my puzzled reaction at my best friend (who is Italian) telling me about his family’s use of dandelions in salad, and the particular sweet-sour combination of boxed chrysanthemum tea I drank as a kid. Thus, the Peruvian completed the transatlantic voyage.

We didn’t expect it to be a hit, but we received quite a few orders.

Note: again, I discovered later that the Papa Ghirardelli, a drink with similar alcoholic components, was recently invented for the 2010 San Francisco Cocktail Week.

A Peruvian in Italy


1 Comment

Filed under Drinks, Mixology

One response to “This, My Friends, is What a Cocktail Party Should Look Like (Part 2)

  1. Pingback: This, My Friends, is What a Cocktail Party Should Look Like (Part 1) | bybe

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s