2 oz Blanco or Reposado Tequila
1.5 oz Appel’s Grapefruit Cordial
Chilled Club Soda
Grapefruit Peel/Lime Slice

In a 16 oz glass filled with ice, fill 1/4 full with chilled soda.

In a mixing glass or shaker tin with ice, add spirits and cordial and chill. Strain into glass and top with more chilled soda. Add grapefruit peel and/or lime slice.

When making tall drinks like this it is important to have all ingredients chilled so the ice doesn’t immediately melt. It also keeps the soda bright and sparkling. Filling the glass a little with soda prior to adding the mixers also makes a drink where the spirits and cordial aren’t just sitting at the bottom of the glass.

Grapefruit peeled and ready for juicing to make Grapefruit Cordial








1 oz Vodka
1 oz Appel’s Spiced Cranberry
Chilled Sparkling Wine

In a large red wine glass or rocks glass filled with ice, add a splash of sparkling wine like in the Paloma above. In a mixing glass or shaker tin with some ice, add cordial and vodka. Chill and strain into glass. Top with more sparkling wine. Add a couple cranberries or an orange peel for garnish.






Every summer for the last 15 years, at the end of July, I have traveled north from Chicago to Door County, Wisconsin to pick tart, Montmorency Cherries.

I grew up doing this with family from Appleton. We would pick cherries around Algoma, and then go back home and pit them all outdoors by the garden. My grandma, Delphine, would then can them for pies and cobblers and other desserts. I loved helping her with the canning process.

I grew and traveled and moved throughout my life, but Wisconsin was always a place of grounding for me and as I developed a career in the bar and cocktail world, cherries and Wisconsin were always there calling me back.


One influential thing about Wisconsin that I grew up around was the remnants of a real cocktail culture. There was always a dinner at a local supper club, replete with cocktails at the bar while we waited for a table, or cocktail hour at home with grandparents served with summer sausage and cheese and pickled vegetables. Of course, the kids got kiddie cocktails, which would be horrifying today but was good prep for future bartenders.

I have been developing recipes over the years for making cocktail cherries, cherry bounce, and Creme de Noyeaux from the cherry stones and incorporating them in cocktails.

The Wisconsin Old Fashioned, along with classics like Manhattans, Gimlets, and Martinis, were the go to’s for the adults. Old Fashioneds and Manhattans are almost always made with brandy in Wisconsin, a legacy of German and central European immigrant culture.

I make Cherry Bounce each year with Bourbon, Rye, Brandy or Cognac. Those spirits are perfectly complimented with cherries. They just go together.

Of course, the next logical conclusion was to make an Old Fashioned with the cherries and cherry syrup we make.

Here is the recipe:

2 oz Sacred Bond Brandy
.75 oz Montmorency Cherry Syrup
2-3 Dashes Angostura Bitters
Orange Peel
2 Montmorency Cocktail Cherries

Add all liquid ingredients to a mixing glass filled with ice. Stir briskly to chill. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass or an iced rocks glass. Express the orange peel over the cocktail glass and discard, or add to the rocks glass as a garnish. Two cherries on a pick.

You can find cherry syrup in some specialty stores or make your own with cherries or buy tart cherry juice or juice concentrate and make your own syrup. I have found homemade to be much better, but it’s still good with a quality premade one. To make a syrup, just add equal parts refined cane sugar and tart cherry juice and dissolve on low heat. Cool and refrigerate.

Making cocktail cherries quickly isn’t hard. Make the cherry syrup. Blanch some pitted cherries (1 minute in boiling water) add to a glass jar, top with cherry syrup, store in a refrigerator. These will last for a long time this way and will be ready to use in 1-2 weeks and get even better over time.

I sometimes add a splash of vermouth or bourbon or brandy to the cocktail cherries. You can add orange peel or make them spiced with cinnamon or allspice, if you wish, as well.


6 years ago Dan De Oliveira and I began a tradition here in Chicago that lasted 3 years: The Beefeater Gin Boat Cruise.

We turned some classic cocktails into frozen drinks and created some originals. Frozen Beefeater Gin Gimlets, Frozen Gin Lemon Ices, Frozen Aviations, Frozen Gin and Bitter Lemon.

While we intended to make a frozen Negroni for the cruise, we opted for making a Summer Negroni which was a tall drink that included Grapefruit Cordial and Club Soda. The addition of the citrus and acid of the grapefruit with the dilution of the club soda made this a refreshing summer long drink.

Bar Boss Blender

But this works so well as a frozen drink with these ingredients that I wanted to share this for Negroni week 2016 and the upcoming summer.

One thing about blender/frozen drinks is that the base ingredients need to be concentrated and not diluted in any way. This helps them stand up to the ice that they are blended with. This is where the grapefruit cordial/syrup really shines. It is concentrated and can bring all the spirits along with for the ride. It also balances the bittersweetness of the Negroni with citrus and acid, something I have always found the Negroni missing.


You also need to have the right balance of ice to mixer. Too much ice and it becomes snow and weak, too little ice and it becomes watery with ice floating. I find that for this recipe 1.5 pint glasses full of ice works perfectly. Adjust for more. I also find making one to be blender overkill. Make at least two at a time.

Gin, Campari, Grapefruit Cordial



Quality London Dry Gin


Quality Sweet Vermouth

Grapefruit Cordial

Club Soda

Fresh Grapefruit


Ice and Grapefruit Negroni




2 Drinks

4 oz Beefeater 24 or Beefeater

1 oz Campari

1 oz Sweet Vermouth

2 oz Grapefruit Cordial

Two Iced 10 oz Rocks Glasses


Add Negroni mixture above to rocks glasses completely filled with ice.

Pour contents into blender

Cover blender.

Blend until smooth.

Pour back into rocks glass or coupe or wine goblet.

Grapefruit peel garnish.

Compostable Straw or stirrer






“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet…” Shakespeare

The first thing I would like to try to clarify is that the terms orgeat and horchata are derivatives of the same Latin root word for barley, hordeum. The French word for barley is orge. Without getting too involved, I think it is relatively apparent that those root words were transformed into the two above terms that we are familiar with for a beverage originally made from barley.

It isn’t a far reach to see how this style of beverage could easily be applied using other grains and even nuts and tubers (chufa for example). Orgeat is typically almond based or fake almond flavored and a main ingredient in many tiki cocktails. Horchata is generally rice based and often flavored with fruit or cinnamon and is mostly used as a non-alcoholic refreshing drink. My opinion is that these terms are interchangeable, even though they each have different connotations.  I also sometimes call this an oatmeal cream. But, in common parlance, the term orgeat means a sweet almond syrup, and if one uses the term horchata, then it is a sweet rice/cinnamon based syrup or refreshing drink. There are different techniques or recipes for making all of them.



I love this syrup in cocktails and N/A refreshing long drinks. I have read some recent articles using orgeats in similar ways. I have also been making a variety of  alternatively based orgeats/horchatas for many years now but the one I use most is the steel cut oat based version.

This horchata consists of steel cut oats, cane sugar, water with hint of cinnamon.

It adds a creamy texture to drinks and cocktails without the use of dairy. The grain and cane sugar are clean on your palate and the flavors are both subtle and apparent.

Oats are naturally gluten free for anyone who suffers from celiac and they also do not present dangers to people with nut allergies that an almond orgeat may.

Since this oat horchata is made into a base syrup, it needs some dilution from spirits and/or water.  It can be used in place of almond orgeat in Tiki drinks, but it also works wonderfully in many other classic and original drinks that may not be considered Tiki.

I would like to share a few successful and popular ways I have used this steel cut oat horchata to make cocktails.



I am using the name Horchata Margarita for this drink, even though I am not a fan of using a classic as a descriptor for cocktails…like putting the suffix “tini” at the end of drinks, but the following use of the term, Margarita, seems to have stuck here. But I am open to suggestions for a better name.






Add to shaker tin full of ice, shake very hard, and then strain into fresh iced rocks glass or into a chilled cocktail glass. Lime garnish.

The oatmeal and cinnamon work wonderfully with a good young tequila. The hint of lime brings them together and adds freshness and balances the sweetness in the horchata without making it an acid bomb. It is very similar in build to a classic Mai Tai, that being rum, orgeat, lime and triple sec/orange curação.

This cocktail was mentioned in the Playboy Magazine summer feature on the Best Bars in America 2015 at the bar Best Intentions. Owned by my good friends Chris and Calvin Marty, Best Intentions is located in Logan Square, Chicago where I have made it often on their patio and where they feature it on their current menu (2015-2016).


The Steel Cut Oat Orgeat (switching to orgeat now) is also at home with brown spirits. Bourbon, Cognac, other brandies, and rum are natural base spirits for this orgeat and can be made hot or cold. This one uses Clyde Mays Alabama Whiskey which has a hint of dried apple in it that makes it exceptional when mixed with oatmeal and cinnamon.







Pour all ingredients, except the bitters, into a shaker tin full of ice and shake hard. Strain into fresh iced rocks glass. Top with a couple dashes of Angostura.

This drink can easily be made hot by simply heating all the ingredients, except the spirits, together and then pouring over the spirits in a warmed mug. Bitters are optional. Lemon twist is also an option.




The Apple Betty can also be made with an apple cider based oat orgeat to make it an APPLE BROWN BETTY. Instead of using water as the base of the regular orgeat, we substitute apple cider to add another dimension of flavor.

This Apple Cider-Oatmeal Cream (yes, another term) is wonderful as the base mixer for a hot buttered rum.


4 Servings
8 oz Quality Aged Rum, Dry
12 oz Apple Cider Oatmeal Cream
4 Tblsp Unsalted Butter
Pinch of Salt
4 Hot Drink Mugs (8oz Size)
In a saucepan, add all ingredients except the rum. Bring to a low simmer while stirring frequently.
Heat each mug or glass by filling them with hot water. Dump the water before building. Then add 2 oz of rum to each of the heated mugs and top with hot Apple-Oat Cream.
Serve with a cinnamon stick or no garnish. Serve with a spoon on the side for stirring.
Notes on Butter
I know it seems odd to use unsalted butter and then add salt, but unsalted butter is better and sweeter by itself and adding salt to it after doesn’t harm those flavors. It also allows you to control how much salt is used in your recipes with butter. Salt is used in butter as a preservative.

One Last Observation

I looked for other versions of horchata and tequila drinks online since this doesn’t seem like a drink that hadn’t been tried before and I came across many simply awful recipes that aren’t even using real horchata of any kind and use ingredients like fireball and sweet condensed milk in them…I saw one entirely covered in powdered cinnamon…gross.

I plan to write some reviews of drinks like these that are tragic messes and uncomfortable to drink because they are not balanced and/or have garnishes that are idiotic and oppressive.








Lime Cordial

Lime Cordial

The most common confusion I encounter when I talk cordials is that people think I am making a liqueur. The word “cordial” can mean several things, one of which is a liqueur, and another which basically means syrup. The syrup one is the focus of this article.


Generally, I use the term “cordial” when the syrup is fruit/citrus juice based, (e.g. Lime Cordial) When it is an infused sugar and water base with little to no acidity, I generally use the term “syrup” (e.g. Ginger or Rosemary Syrup).  But I often call the pineapple cordial a pineapple syrup. I have the same issue when talking about orgeat, horchata, and non-dairy creams.


The primary purposes and benefits are providing the bartender and consumer with delicious, natural, quick and concentrated flavor vehicles for drinks and cocktails of all kinds. When you want lemon, you’ve got lemon. Appel’s Lemon Cordial is like liquid lemon oleosaccharum. It gives you the lemon aromas, flavor, sugar and acid that juice alone doesn’t. The same thing holds for Lime, Grapefruit and others.

Cordials aren’t meant to be a replacement for fresh juices, but, rather, compliment a fresh juice program and provide a ready made, non perishable workhorse ingredient that can be used in classic or improvised drinks on the fly behind a busy bar or at home.

Highballs made with club soda and spirit are perfect for cordials where a fresh juice may fall flat.  It also gives the bartender/consumer the freedom to control the sweetness or intensity that you can’t expect from a packaged flavored soda  The riffs are endless and easy once you realize their utility.

Another benefit is their long shelf life. High acid, high sugar, low water cordials are naturally resistant to spoilage (how sugar acts as a preservative) and thus you are able to make them far ahead of time for use when you need them. The original idea behind making these cordials was based on research my father, Gary, and I did on the preserved lime cordial that was used by the British Navy to stave off scurvy (Preserved Lime Juice Cordial and the Gimlet). Minus the sulfites used in Rose’s Lime Cordial, this is a natural means of preserving juices for future use and keeping waste to a minimum.

One more benefit is that they add concentrated flavor, aroma, sugar and acidity with no extra added water. This means you wont over dilute your cocktail and work perfectly in drinks that are naturally diluted (sodas and blender/frozen drinks).

They pack a lot of flavor in a small amount. They expand in your glass with the ice and spirits/soda diluting the cordial and the cordial modifying the spirits or soda. This concentrated, low water syrup also means they really shine when used in frozen drinks. They stand up beautifully to the ice required for blender drinks without watering them down, making the frozen drink that a straw stands up in. Non-alcoholic, frozen Lemon Slushies in the summer are outstanding… just add some gin or rum to make them into perfect boating drinks.


The Gin Gimlet

To make a perfect lime cordial based Gin Gimlet all you need is 2oz London Dry Gin and .5oz of homemade lime cordial, stirred or shaken, strained up or served on the rocks. This is an Americanized version and there are many valid versions of the Gimlet. But this is my favorite recipe in that it squarely emphasizes the gin with the lime cordial playing the only supporting role. They work beautifully together in this fashion.

This is a 4-1 ratio, but the lime packs a punch and really expands. The ice expands both the spirits and lime, and the spirits expand the lime. Easy and real. Perfectly balanced. Delicious.

The differences between a standard Gimlet made with fresh lime juice and simple syrup and one made with lime cordial are subtle and several.

In a fresh lime Gimlet the simple syrup, combined with lime juice, leaves a bigger liquid footprint in your drink. Even in small amounts like 1/2 oz lime and 1/2 oz simple, you now have a combined ingredient that is half your Gimlet. This changes the texture of the drink to one that can be refreshing and delicious, but one that I believe is more often imbalanced because of the lack of bartender attention to the simple syrup/lime juice ratio (Sugar Syrup In Cocktails) and by it taking up a larger portion of your drink. You could add more gin, but this then begins to get a a little unwieldy for most people. With a 2 oz gin pour, this often leads to the gin being overwhelmed by the mixers with the mixers too often starting out imbalanced in the first place. If you are using 1 oz of lime juice in a drink that only has 2 oz of spirit, with the addition of sugar to balance that much lime juice, in my opinion, your drink will be a mess. But balanced with a small amount of lime juice and rich simple (1/2 oz each), it is still a great drink. More like a gin daiquiri than what I think of as a gimlet, but delicious and refreshing.

Plain juice also doesn’t impart the natural lime oils derived from the lime zest that lime cordial does. One way around this and the use of juice/simple syrup in Gimlets is by pre-making fresh lime sour.

1 Part Fresh Lime Juice, Zest of Lime, 1 Part Cane Sugar

Mix until dissolved. This technique compacts your lime/sugar flavor vehicle while bypassing any added water. It also allows you to pour or jigger only the sour you need, rather than add juice and simple syrup in separate actions. It’s pre-balanced and ready to mix. If you want 3/4oz of mixer to the 2 oz of gin and do it separately, you need a minsicule .375oz each of simple and juice and this gets ludicrous to hand measure/jigger.


2 oz London Dry Gin

1/2 oz Lime Cordial



2 oz London Dry Gin

1/2 oz Fresh Lime Juice

1/2 oz Rich Simple Syrup (2-1)



2 oz London Dry Gin

1/2-3/4 oz Fresh Lime Sour



Two Types of Cordial

Making lemon or lime cordial is straightforward since the acidity is more than able to balance the sugar needed. But when using sweeter fruit (e.g. grapefruit, pineapple, etc) as the base, we encounter a problem.

Sweeter citrus requires more acidity to balance the sugar needed for the preserving and the textural qualities of a good cordial. Using citric acid would be an easier and much cheaper way to increase the acidity, but I prefer an all juice base for my cordials. My preferred choice, then, is fresh lemon juice. Plain fresh lemon juice acts as a natural and neutral base acid mix for these kinds of cordials that are too sweet to accept the required amount of sugar.


Most of these cordials are slowly heated to a temperature of 180F. In my earlier trials making lime cordial I over heated the syrup by bringing it to a simmer and that had a detrimental effect on the flavor, aroma and color that I was looking for. Easing the cordial into this below-simmer level of heat is necessary for several reasons; concentrating the juice/sugar mixture into a syrup over time with some evaporation, keeping the colors and flavors vibrant without browning (maillard effect and caramelization) , aiding in anti-microbial effects by thermal process, aiding in creating the viscous texture desired by activating the natural pectin in the juices and dissolving the sugar with minimal inversion. The heat, sugar, acidity and low water content all add up to a very spoil resistant syrup.

Sugar Inversion

Inversion of sugar, in this case, is the breakdown of sucrose into glucose and fructose when it is mixed and heated in the acidic fruit juices used to make cordial. I prefer the clean mouth feel of sucrose over fructose, so I don’t want this to become honeylike. The use of fructose in the American soda market is one reason that Mexican Coca Cola has become so popular in the U.S. The data on taste differences is mostly anecdotal and the corn syrup industry denies any taste difference between sucrose and high fructose corn syrup, but I can easily tell and so can most other people. (Huffpost Taste Test) Fructose gives honey and agave nectar that palate coating effect (honey is up to 40% fructose and agave nectar can be up to 90% fructose!). It’s great in hot remedy drinks for sore throats, but that coating effect leaves a cloying, lingering and overly sweet taste that, I think, makes it unpalatable in most drinks that aren’t medicinal in purpose.

Any health issues surrounding sugars are beyond my expertise or the scope and point of this discussion, but my philosophy is that balance is not only a necessity in food and cocktails but also for body and soul.

No Water

No extra water is ever added to any cordial, except in the those where cranberries are used. Cranberries are high in acidity and pectin and need a little added water to bring out the juice and offset the thickening effects of the pectin. But, for the most part, the only liquid used in cordials are the base juice or the base juice and modifier (lemon juice). This keeps the percentages of acid and sugar at the level you want flavor-wise and also preservation-wise.

Evaporation is also a desired effect for further concentration. The slow heating means more time evaporating.

All of these things (time, real juice, heat, evaporation, etc.) add to the overall cost but also add to the quality and taste of your crafted cordials.

Note: the pectins, along with other super fine particulate matter that isn’t strained from the juices, will add a naturally colored opaqueness to your cordial that I actually find pleasing, not off putting. The cordials could be clarified and juice extraction increased by using a pectin enzyme, pectinase, that is used in brewing and wine making, or by using a centrifuge, or egg whites etc.., but, again, I prefer to be minimal and natural in these recipes so I do not use anything but fine, double straining.

I am not opposed to any of these techniques or additives, as long as they do not compromise the taste or texture of the final product.

Acidity and pH Level

The pH level of most of these cordials is generally just above 2, which means they are high acid syrups. Combined with the high percentage of sugar added to the juices/fruit, this makes a very difficult environment for bacteria to live in, let alone thrive in. Any problems would occur if these were lower and this is one reason why lemon juice is added to the sweeter juices so as to increase the sugar level while keeping the acidity levels high. The other reason is for balance, flavor and texture.



I love wine and fortified wine cocktails…Aperitif wine cocktails….Sometimes lightly fruity…sometimes lightly bitter…sometimes both…But always refreshing and easy to sip.

I imagine drinks off the Spanish Riviera…Seaside or by the pool… Perhaps on a yacht… Spain, grapes, wine and gin are the theme. Civilized and refined and not about self indulgence or self promotion. You don’t need to call attention to yourself, your confident style already does that naturally. You drink to please no one but yourself and you share your good taste with others around you.

I recently created this recipe for a local cocktail competition under a different name. Very simple in ingredients, but not simple on the palate.

Sliced Grape Garnish

Sliced Grape Garnish

There is nothing Earth shattering here ingredient-wise as one could view this as just a riff on a reverse style martini (2 parts Vermouth 1 Part Gin). But the addition of fresh grapes makes this familiar combination something entirely new. It is very refreshing and invites you to drink one after the other, yet not so boozy that you couldn’t make the attempt. The flavors are sweet with a bit of tartness. Tannin from the grape skins adds a very nice astringent quality that works well in balancing the sweetness. But the sweetness is not sugary or cloying at all. I originally thought I would want lemon or lime for the acid balance, but after I sipped the prototype without it, I never gave it another thought. I love this cocktail and have been making it all summer (2014)

It is also versatile and I really enjoy being able to improvise other drinks based on a theme. It can be served on the rocks, up in a cocktail glass as is or topped with sparkling wine, or served as a long drink with either soda or sparkling wine. It can be based with other aperitif wines, like Lillet, in place of vermouth. Pisco would be fantastic substituted for gin. It is easily batched for larger service.



Tools and Ingredients

From top left to right

Shaker tin, measuring shot glass, rocks glass, mixing glass, grapes, secondary strainer, julep strainer, Hawthorne strainer




1 Serving


1 oz London Dry Gin (Beefeater, Plymouth or Spanish Gin)

2 oz Dry Vermouth (Martini and Rossi, Carpano Bianco, Dolin)

9-12 Firm Ripe Green Seedless Grapes

Large Style Ice Cubes

3 Sliced Green Grapes for Garnish


Mixing Glass and/or Shaker Tin

Mixing Spoon


Julep and/or Hawthorne Strainer

Secondary Strainer



In a mixing glass, add grapes



and 2 oz Vermouth




Muddle the vermouth and grapes.

(NOTE I didn’t cut the grapes for these photos, but it is easier to muddle this drink if you do cut the grapes in half first)


Muddled Grapes and Vermouth


Add gin and stir this mixture a bit before adding ice..

Add ice to fill mixing glass (if you dont have enough room, pour into the larger shaker tin or use a larger mixing glass or mixing pitcher).

You should have about half ice and half cocktail mix. Don’t cheat your cocktail on enough ice. You don’t want it just to melt, you want melt and chill. Use regular ice for mixing.


Ice and Cocktail

Stir this to chill and double strain (using the secondary strainer between mixing glass and rocks glass to catch any bits and pieces as you strain normally) into rocks glass filled with large ice cubes and sliced grapes interspersed. (Kold Draft Style Ice)*

The large ice cubes take up less room and melts more slowly and it shows off the grape slices better.

Yes that big cube is a bit much for this glass!


 Yes that big cube is a bit much for that glass…Kind of Flintstone-esque



* I long ago I realized it was futile trying to make my own clear ice, but luckily I have access to beautiful classic style cubes at markets here in Chicago (LANG CLASSIC ICE) It’s an ingredient that I can’t add value to by making myself nor is it worth investing in the equipment to make, so I let the pros make the ice for my cocktails.