Walking Spanish


Here’s the other cocktail on the Metrovino menu based on the Alto Cucina, with the wine element toned down a bit to compensate for the strong flavors of amontillado sherry:

1 oz Bols Genever
3/4 oz amontillado sherry
1/2 oz Cardamaro
1/2 oz St. Germain

Stir, strain, and serve up with an orange twist.

A friend of mine likes to contrast my drinks with those of another bartender in town, Kelley Swenson at June. Mine often tend to be big, in your face, cocktail geek-type drinks. Kelley’s are subtle and wonderfully complex. He has an amazing touch for harmoniously layering flavors. I can’t always pull that off, but the ingredients come together really well on this one, and I like to think of it as Kelley Swenson-style drink.

The name comes from the Tom Waits song, which few customers recognize but I love it when they do. “Walking Spanish” is used as slang for the prisoner’s stoic final walk on Death Row, or more generally for going somewhere unpleasant against one’s will. Or as Waits explains it:

Walking Spanish is an expression they use when you don’t want to go somewhere. It’s 5:30 in the morning and the baby just woke you up screaming and you drag yourself out of bed, you’re walking Spanish. Somebody says, “Listen, buddy, give me all your money.” and your hand goes back around toward your wallet, you’re walking Spanish, you don’t want to go. Walking the plank, basically, walking Spanish is walking the plank.

As a personal joke then it might have been better to use this name on some kind of Lemon Drop variant, since I’d be walking Spanish every time someone orders it, but the tie-in to sherry came to me first.


Sally Port Punk

sallyport 006

Last week I promised one more cocktail made with Dimmi, the Milanese liqueur flavored with grappa and fruit blossoms. Coincidentally this month’s Mixology Monday hosted by The Barman Cometh is about cocktails made with floral ingredients:

The challenge is to feature a cocktail that highlights a floral flavor profile or includes a floral derived ingredient, whether home-made or off the shelf. With the ever expanding catalogue of spirits (and the kitchen labs of home enthusiasts), there’s a whole host of directions for you to choose from – elderflower liqueur, creme de violette, chamomile infused gin, hibiscus grenadine, rosewater, lavender syrup – or to create. With some luck, one of the garnish gurus will figure out a way to turn an orchid into a swizzle stick.

The Sally Port Punk, a slightly bitter aperitif-style cocktail, is the newest addition to the menu at Metrovino:

1 oz blanco tequila
1 oz white port
1/2 oz Dimmi
1/2 oz Campari

Stir, serve up, garnish with an orange twist.

This drink is a straightforward variation on one of my favorite contemporary cocktails, Stephen Shellenberger’s Alto Cucina. Like the Negroni or Last Word, his is a drink that lends itself to infinite variation by substituting one or more of its components for similar spirits:

1 oz Scotch
1 oz dry vermouth
1/2 oz St. Germain
1/2 oz Cynar

Stir, serve up, garnish with an orange twist.

We have one other cocktail on the current menu based on this template, which I’ll post sometime soon.



House of Bols

I’m flying to Amsterdam today along with the rest of the Bols USA team to hunt the Kopstootje in its native habitat of the Netherlands. I’ll be back on Thursday, hopefully with a suitcase full of genevers, kruidenbitter, and maybe even the intriguing Bols yoghurt liqueur.

My schedule will be pretty packed, but any recommendations for site-seeing or places to get good coffee (by which I really do mean coffee) are appreciated.

[Photo by Effervescing Elephant.]


Yirgacheffe Cooler


In the latest issue of my favorite drinks magazine, Imbibe, the editors asked me to provide an iced coffee cocktail for their “Distilled” Q&A column (not pictured). Despite the surge in popularity of both craft coffee and cocktails in recent years, the two drinks don’t show up in the same glass all that often, probably because most coffee shops don’t have liquor licenses and the coffee at most bars is terrible.

Iced coffee drinks are a good way to bridge the gap. It’s just as easy to make as hot coffee, but it’s more temperature stable so that a bar doesn’t have to worry about making it a la minute or letting it go stale during service. My favorite way to make it is the “Japanese method” popularized by Peter Giuliano of Counter Culture Coffee, in which very concentrated hot brew coffee is poured directly ice. The ice melts, cooling the coffee and bringing it to the proper level of dilution (just like stirring a cocktail). This preparation captures flavors and acidity that would be lost in a cold brew. It’s fantastic with East African or Central American coffees with bright fruit notes, making a refreshing drink reminiscent of iced tea. For details on this method, see Imbibe or the Counter Culture brewing guide.

For the cocktail, I picked ingredients to play off the citrus, fruit, and floral notes of African coffees:

1 1/2 oz pisco
3/4 oz Dimmi
1/4 oz lemon juice
4-5 oz iced Yirgacheffe coffee

Build in a rocks glass with ice. (The print recipe instructs to shake and strain, but that’s not necessary.)

Campo de Encanto is still my go-to choice for pisco. Dimmi is a Milanese liqueur flavored with grappa, herbs, and flowers, which I’ve paired with pisco once before. And for the coffee Yirgacheffe from a quality roaster is great, but any other coffee with a fruity flavor profile will do fine.

If you make a big batch of iced coffee, this can make a refreshing patio drink. Or if you want to serve an iced coffee cocktail at a bar, the coffee can be made before service and be good for the night.

For more iced coffee cocktails to explore, here are a couple from Elizabeth McElligott at Food Shed.


Curse the lightning

Talk about bad luck: A couple weeks ago the backup server for this site was taken out by a lightning storm, and then last week a second lightning took out the facility holding the main server. So the site has been down for the past few days and the most recent backup we’ve been able to recover is from November. Fortunately I have copies of the lost comments and posts, but I’ll have to manually republish them, which will be time-consuming and result in duplicate posts showing up in your RSS readers. Apologies for the inconvenience.