Cà phê sữa đá…Large Batch Vietnamese Iced Coffee made easy

Individual Stainless Brew Filter and glass
Espresso/Cafezinho/Cuban Coffee

I love strong Espresso or French roasted coffee. I picked up the taste for this style of coffee while traveling often to Brazil years ago. There they make a little demi-tasse pour of sweetened espresso called cafezinho, very similar to Cuban coffee. Even longer ago I discovered Vietnamese iced coffee and loved it, but it wasn’t until I spent time in Brazil and upon moving back to the U.S. that I always drank small strong coffees this way. The commonality of these styles is that they are heavily dark roasted and full bodied and brewed to be bitter and intense.

The intense bitterness of these styles is assuaged with the addition of sugar and or cream/milk of some kind. It can be as sweet or bitter as one likes, but almost always has some sugar in it. But in intense heat and humidity like, say, in Vietnam, it can be a little oppressive to drink hot coffee…thus the addition of ice is a natural progression for coffee as is with tea.


Sweetened Condensed Milk


In tropical locations around the world the use of sweetened condensed milk is a staple for many dishes and drinks. It certainly is in Brazil, (leite condensada, or leite moça in colloquial terms) where I became accustomed to its use in drinks and desserts. Canned, concentrated and sweetened, it was a way to preserve milk for hot humid climates and for it to be readily available on shelves in markets. This meant that in earlier days it very likely was the only milk available to most people. It thus became an important ingredient for tropical tastes and cultures around the world.


Cà phê sữa đá

The popularity of this style of coffee in the U.S. really began after the end of the wars in South East Asia and with the influx of refugees and immigrants from there in the mid to late 70’s.

My visits to Vietnamese restaurants in the late 70’s with my Vietnamese friends led me to Cà phê sữa đá (this means “iced coffee with sweet condensed milk”) Traditionally it is brewed table side into a glass with ice and sweet condensed milk at the bottom and a spoon for you to mix it up.

An individual coffee press full of dark french roast with hot water is brought to table. Brewed and mixed and iced and done.

3 Pieces of Brew Cup
Coffee ready to be tamped

The coffee brand that is very traditional here with the Vietnamese community in the US is Cafe Du Monde of New Orleans fame. It is a blend of drip grind French roast coffee and chicory . It really is a great coffee for this drink. There are other coffees from Vietnam, most popular of which is Trung Nguyen. It has cocoa added to the ground coffee, which I add to the grounds before brewing, but I find it a bit weak and too sweet when balancing the condensed milk. I don’t have that problem with Cafe Du Monde.

Milk, coffee, cassia, cocoa nibs

This recipe for iced coffee has notes of burnt chocolate, cinnamon, dark coffee, the silky smooth texture that isn’t watered down. There is a rich, complex flavor and the balance of bitter and creamy and sweet that calls for sipping, not gulping.



How To Make More Than One At A Time

I would crave one of these on a hot summer morning, but doing the whole brewing thing each time I wanted one was just not going to happen, so I thought “why not make a huge batch already mixed and keep it in the fridge?”

That was that.

Anyone can do it with no special tools or equipment.

Here is my large batch version of Cà phê sữa đá:

I use a run of the mill 10 cup drip coffee maker which goes to 11 if you push it. Feel free to use a French press or whatever method you prefer. I use the drip maker since I can easily brew the amount I want without too much fuss.

I do two brewings to get to about 1.6 litres.  In my 10 cup drip maker I do one full brew, and a half brew using the same grounds. This is the perfect amount and strength to balance exactly one whole 14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk and it all fits perfectly in a French 2 Litre Carafe.

I fill the filter as full as possible and then add some ground or whole cassia cinnamon along with some cocoa nibs on the grounds. This is to your taste, but don’t overdo it.

Cafe DuMonde, Ground Cassia, Cacao Nibs

I brew the first batch and add it to the carafe and begin the second brew.

Carafe with first brew (hot)

I then add the whole can of sweetened condensed milk to the hot coffee and mix while I wait for the second brew.

Mixed first brew

I then add the next brew to top off the carafe.

Full batch of Cà phê sữa đá

You’re done!

This is also delicious hot and I often have a little cup before cooling.

Allow to come to room temperature and then store in the refrigerator.

To serve, pour over ice in small glass. I prefer large cubed ice, like Kold Draft, so you keep the chill and have a little melt, but not too much melt. Like a whiskey with a cube or two.

Cà phê sữa đá on ice

This can easily be made into an iced coffee cocktail by adding a favorite liqueur and/or spirit like dark rum, Kahlua or coffee liqueur, chocolate liqueur, hazelnut, mint etc…

It is great made into a frozen blender drink…. with or without alcohol.



I first tried Rompope in 1976 when I was a kid visiting Mexico City and the wonderful family of the exchange student we hosted the previous year. I didnt really know what it was then, but I knew it tasted great. What Rompope is, is a delicious sweet egg yolk, milk and rum based drink. There are many similar egg based liqueur style drinks around the world. Advocaat in Netherlands, Coquito in Puerto Rico, Egg Nog in England and the US and many others…They are usually based on Rums or Brandy’s, but many other aged spirits can be used such as bourbon or even aged tequila…Rompope gets its name from rum….the ‘Rom’ part is derived from the Spanish word for Rum, Ron

Rompope is very similar in recipe and method to pastry cream. Only the egg yolks are used and it is cooked so the eggs are not raw. The spirits you use also help keep preserve your Rompope so you can make this days or even weeks ahead of time. I find that it is a wonderful change of pace to Egg Nog during the holiday season.

  • 1 quart whole milk
  • 1 cup white cane sugar(or to taste)
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 Cup Homemade Almond Orgeat (Cashew Orgeat Recipe…Substitute Almonds)
  • 12 egg yolks
  • 3-4  cups (your taste) quality Añejo Tequila

Add milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and orgeat to large sauce pan.

Bring to a boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes.

In a mixing bowl, add egg yolks and beat. With a ladle, add hot milk to egg yolks a little at a time while whisking it in. This will keep the eggs from curdling with the hot milk…once it is all incorporated, pour this mixture back into the sauce pan over simmering water or in a double boiler and simmer slowly while stirring. The mixture will thicken. When it coats a spoon, it is done…should be about 10-15 minutes.

Pour into bowl or other container and allow to cool. Add Tequila. And use a high quality Anejo. This is a special and seasonal drink hand made by you, so dont be cheap. You don’t have to use a rare tequila, just a high quality one. You can place this into bottles or other container…I prefer glass in this case…. and store in the refrigerator. It will be a nice creamy yellow color.

Rompope can be made ahead for holiday parties and will keep in the fridge for several weeks or more.

Serve over ice or shaken and served up with fresh grated cinnamon or served over ice cream, cake, or shaved ice. I gave this the name “Papa Noel” after doing an event for Tres Generaciones and made an Anejo Tequila Rompope. There is a cinnamon stick shown in this photo…skip it…it’s a waste of cinnamon and gets in the way.. 🙂


Aged Rum

Orange Zest
Lemon Zest

Winter Spices

Various Liqueurs

(Grand Marnier, Peach, Banana etc..)


Steel Cut Oats
Steel Cut Oats

After working on homemade almond orgeat and understanding the basis and history of it, I decided to try some other versions. Originally a grain based beverage using barley, Orgeat, or Horchata, it is made with rice in Latin America, Chufa in Spain, and widely known using Almonds for that important “secret” ingredient in a classic Mai Tai.

I was experimenting with different nuts and grains for making orgeat at this time and I needed to come up with a non-nut orgeat for a competition that included judge Bridget Albert who has a nut allergy. I decided to try oats and it worked wonderfully.

It is a great base syrup for many tropical or hot drinks. It adds a creamy texture without being dairy and finishes clean with no cloying texture. I’ve mixed it with Tequila, Bourbon, Cognac, Rum and Gin with great success. It’s a lot more versatile than one might think. It is also great with water shaken on ice and served in a tall glass. A very refreshing N/A summer drink.

The following recipe is very simple and worth the small effort to make it at home.  You wont need a ton of oats to make this work as you can see from the following recipe.

2 Cups Steel Cut Oats
 1 Gallon Water
 3 qts White Cane Sugar
Saigon Cassia Cinnamon Pieces in cloth jelly bag (1 oz)
Cooking oats and water

In large saucepan add oats and water. Always give yourself room to work with in sauce pans or any pans. Slowly cook the oats on lowest heat setting, covered on stove top burner. Stir often. Do not bring to a boil or simmer.

This should be heated for 3-4 hours.


When done (the oats will be fat and tender) turn off heat and allow to rest to room temperature. Refrigerate this until cool. Remove Cinnamon pieces. With a hand immersion blender, blend this mixture well for about 3 minutes. Let rest for 5-10 minutes and blend again for 2 minutes. Fine strain this into a container that you will now add the sugar to.

Add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Add the cinnamon from the jelly bag back to this mixture. Stir. Now fine strain again and you are done. Keep this refrigerated for up to 6 weeks.

It should have a creamy texture like milk, not gelatinous or gooey.

Hand Blender


This can be used in place of almond orgeat for those with nut allergies. It can be used mixed with water and shaken for a delicious and refreshing non-alcoholic long drink in the summer. It is fantastic in many original cocktails as well. It mixes wonderfully with Tequila, Whiskey, Brandy, Rum.

One of my favorite ways to use this Oat Cream is in an apple butter, hot buttered rum. It makes the hot buttered rum that is satisfying. Creamy, silky smooth texture.. Just what you want when coming in from the cold.

Another simple cocktail/cooler is Rum or Tequila, the Steel Cut Oat Cream/Horchata, fresh lime

Cooking apple butter, oat orgeat, cream butter, water
1/2 Cup of Unsalted Butter (1 Stick)
3/4 Cup Apple butter (apple butter recipe)
1 Cup Oatmeal Orgeat
2-3 Cinnamon Sticks
3 Cups Water
Pinch of Salt
5-8 servings

Add all ingredients to sauce pan. Bring to a simmer. Stir frequently.

In hot drink mug or coffee mug (8-10 oz) add 2 oz of aged rum. Top with hot butter, apple and oat mixture. The butter will stay at the top so serve with a ladle, stir mixture first with ladle so as to mix the butter in evenly.
2 oz Silver/Plata Tequila
1.5 oz Steel Cut Oat Horchata
.5 oz Lime Juice
Stir or shake
Strain over fresh iced rocks glass
Lime garnish
2 oz Quality White Rum
1.5 oz Steel Cut Oat Orgeat
.5 oz Swedish Punsch (Arrack Punch)
.5 oz Fresh Lime Juice
Lime Slice
Angostura Bitters
In a shaker tin filled with ice, add all ingredients except the bitters. Shake hard and strain over cracked ice in rocks glass.
Top with a few dashes of Angostura.
Short Straw
Garnish with lime wheel or slice



Autumn in the Midwest leading to the holidays means it’s time for hot drinks. Apple Butter is a great fall ingredient to Hot Toddies, Hot Buttered Rums and hot teas…as well as toasted muffins, waffles and pancakes.

From start to finish it will take about 48 hours in your oven, but the concentrated and caramelized flavor of the apples and spices is well worth the time. The ingredients are simple. The process is the magic. Investing the time and attention to bring something special out of these simple ingredients is well worth it. It will also make your home smell like spiced apple pie for a few days. Not bad dividends.

10 pounds of assorted Apples
1 quart of Fresh Pressed Apple Cider
1/4 cup of brown sugar
pinch of salt
4 Cinnamon Sticks
6 Allspice Berries
6 Whole Cloves
1 Tblsp Mace

Bamix Immersion Blender

Kuhn-Rikor Peeler    

Peeler (Kuhn-Rikon Swiss peeler is best I have ever used)
Dutch Oven (aprox 9.5 qts, I use the Le Creuset 9.5 qt French Oven)
 Sharp Chefs Knife
Cutting Board
2 qt Sauce Pan
2 Large Mixing bowls
Immersion Blender

You can use many different apples for apple butter. I like to use an assortment of sweet and tart apples. My ratio was about 2/3 sweet Braeburn apples to Granny Smith.

Cinnamon, Clove, Allspice, Mace

There are many ways to go about starting the process and most recipes I have found add chopped whole apples to the dutch oven and then use a food mill to clean the apple from the peels and cores. That is a messy process that sucks. But the peels provide flavor and natural pectin, so we don’t want to just discard them. I decided to split the process by peeling the apples and coring them. I discarded the cores with the seeds as they are bitter. I kept the ends and peels of the apples, putting them in a mixing bowl or into the sauce pan to await the cooking process. 
Apple Slicer/Corer
All the cleaned apple goes straight into the large dutch oven. Add 1/3 of the apple cider to the apples in the dutch oven and cover. Put into an oven at 300 degrees.
Cleaned Apples in Dutch oven
To the peels in the sauce pan add the remaining cider and all spices and simmer, covered, on low on stove top. Stir occasionally and simmer for about 45-60 min. Until the peels and apple bits are very soft and mushy. Allow to cool and strain the juices. This does not need to be fine strained. Just separate the peels and spices from the juice and apple.
Peels, ends, spices, cider

Add this juice now to the cooking apples. This should be already about 1.5 hours in oven after cooking the peels and straining. Cook this for another 3 hours covered.
Strained spiced juice

After 3 hours, the apples should be very soft and mushy. Remove dutch oven and use an immersion blender to puree the apples until smooth. Add a pinch of salt, the brown sugar and stir into apples.

Cooking apples with spiced juice

Cook one more hour covered. After one hour you will remove the top and stir and return to the oven uncovered. Lower heat in oven to 250 degrees. This will now enter the longest portion  of the process.

Periodic stirring is necessary to keep the apple butter uniform in the slow dehydration and carmelization process. The apples will eventually reduce by about 2/3. When the top of the apple butter begins to brown, it is time to stir. Probably about once every 30-45 minutes or so.

Pureed apples cooking with top off

Overnight the oven should be set low about 200 degrees or turned off if you plan to be asleep for a long time or are away. You can set the oven to 200 again in the morning.
The apple butter will continue to brown, thicken and reduce.
Apple butter midway through process

This process cannot be rushed by turning up the heat. There is too much of a chance that the apple butter will burn. You can turn off the oven if you will not be home for several hours. You can resume the process when you return. The Apple Butter will be chocolate brown when down.

Finished Apple Butter

Apple Butter in clean 12 oz jars

The Apple Butter will be stable indefinitely. Store in refrigerator.


You can do this several ways. One is to make a compound butter with the apple butter, unsalted butter and some brown sugar. The other is to add the apple butter, butter, brown sugar and hot water to sauce pan and bring to a boil.

1/2 Cup of Butter (1 Stick)
1/2 Cup Apple butter
1/4 Cup Brown Sugar

3-4 servings

Butter and Apple butter at room temp. Add all ingredients to a food processor. Store covered in refrigerator.

In 8-10 oz hot drink mug add 2 oz aged rum, one or two large spoonfuls of the compound butter. Top with boiling hot water and stir.

With this method and an airpot of hot water you can make drinks to order.

Same Quantities add to sauce pan. Add 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil.
In hot drink mug or coffee mug add 2 oz of aged rum. Top with hot butter mixture.

Try a big spoonful of Irish Oatmeal Horchata in the cup for the most creamy and velvety satisfying buttered rum I have ever had. Substitute for the brown sugar.

Recipe for Irish Oat Horchata/Orgeat coming soon!


.75 oz PIMM’S
 Brunoise (julienne diced) of hot house cucumber (2 slices about 1/8 inch thick, then brunoised)
Add all ingredients except cucumber to rocks glass filled with ice. Pour contents of glass into Boston Shaker. Hard shake and strain into original rocks glass filled with fresh ice. Add diced cucumber and stir.

I originally posted this with Plymouth Gin…and it is fantastic with it, but the Hendrick’s, Cucumber and Pimm’s was natural.


XL Cobbler Shaker
All Metal Boston Shaker

  The emphasis in the modern cocktail world has been on Boston style shakers and mixing glasses.

The 2 part Boston shaker/glass/Hawthorne strainer set is the pro bartender’s all around choice.

But there are other choices that can be more specialized, esthetically pleasing, or just a personal choice.

My choice for making many cocktails at home is the free standing mixing glass.

The emphasis of this article is to show some alternatives for the home bartender and the benefits or reasons for using all of these tools in mixing cocktails.

The two most common sets for mixing drinks are the Boston shaker set and the Cobbler Shaker set.

The origins of the names for these sets are debatable. But the Cobbler shaker is most likely named after the pre-prohibition classic style drink, “Cobbler”, that were made generally with wine, syrups and other spirits and decorated with fruit. Shaken and strained over cracked ice for a refreshing summer tipple. It was a very popular, and very old, drink style that most likely lent it’s name to this shaker style.

It consists of 3 pieces. The base in two pieces that open to allow all ingredients to be added easily. The third piece is a cap that finishes the enclosure. This set is made for shaking drinks.

Positives are aesthetic appearance, clean pour, and all in one unit. Negatives are it doesn’t lend itself to making stirred drinks, can easily stick shut making it a poor choice for busy bartenders, caps can be lost thus rendering the whole unit useless. Best for the home bartender.

Classic Boston Set

The Boston shaker. Two pieces that easily separate along with either a Hawthorn strainer or Julep strainer. The Hawthorne being used to strain from the metal shaker tin, and the julep from the mixing glass.

There is a new breed of bartender using metal on metal shakers these days. While it is generally just a personal choice or statement, there are drawbacks to the double metal set. The metal shaker tins are exactly the same. The difference comes in the mixing glass versus the metal replacement and why you would want to have one or the other. There are benefits to the glass and none for the metal except style points.

The metal tin is not a versatile mixing glass. The tin is thin. It makes an unpleasant tinny noise while shaking. The tin is light, the piston motion for a hard shake is less powerful than the heavier mixing glass. The heavier glass is also well insulated, and the melt of the ice, while shaking, is controlled better. We don’t want our warm hands melting the ice. We want the drink inside to do that.

The mixing glass is just that, a mixing glass. You can build and stir your drinks in the glass and strain them with a julep strainer. You can see your drink being built, which can help in avoiding mistakes.

So while it is mostly a style thing, the metal on metal really does have its drawbacks.

This now brings us to the free standing mixing glass that has been kind of lost in our modern world. Familiar in many old movies with a host making “pitchers” of martinis, the free standing mixing glass really is a beautiful idea.

Either for entertaining or making several cocktails at once that may not fit in the Boston or Cobbler shaker or just for aesthetics as the mixing glass can come in various sizes and be beautifully designed, adorned, shaped, colored and cut. And for simplicity, the pinched lip on many of the old mixing glasses acts as a strainer to keep ice out of your drink. Most of these shown aren’t great for muddling, or for drinks that really need to be shaken, so they have a bit more specialized purpose. The tall pinched lip mixing glases are ideal for Martini’s and Manhattans. Cocktails that are spirit heavy that require stirring.

Tall pinched lip mixing glass with glass stirrer

Old 50’s style free standing mixing glass with measurements for cocktails

Snifter style mixing glasses with pinched lips

Old style mixing glass that can act as a shaker. Similar to a Cobbler
Japanese Yarai Mixing glass from Cocktail Kingdom

Many of them do not require a strainer because the lip is designed to trap the ice and let the drink flow. Some have tops with valves that open after shaking to strain cocktails. And some are just beautiful mixing glasses meant to stand alone, but do require a julep strainer such as the Yarai mixing glass above.


Since Americans were introduced to Cachaça in a big way over the last 15+ years in the form of the Caipirinha, there has been lot’s of confusion with the method of making a proper one from even the best bartenders around the country and the world.

Some things don’t fundamentally change the cocktail, like using sugar syrup instead of fine sugar. But some things do, like using brown sugar or sugar water instead of super fine sugar.

I have spent a lot of time traveling and living in Brasil and have seen Caipirinhas made from Rio to Recife. There are always some subtle differences to each person making one but there are common denominators to making the classic Caipirinha like a Brazilian.

There are always 4 things that go into a Caipirinha in Brasil. Lime, white superfine sugar, un-aged cachaça and ice. It should be shaken. You can use simple syrup but it absolutely must be at least 2-1 rich syrup. Superfine or “Bar” sugar is the best. It acts to macerate the lime and extract the lime oils and juice as well as dissolve easier than regular table sugar. Once you understand the traditional method and base, you can then do riffs and adjustments on this theme.
On a beach it will most likely be made in a makeshift plastic container/shaker and served in a plastic cup.

But in a bar it will more likely be served in a small rocks glass.

The proportions will vary depending on the size of the cup or glass. We will be using an 8 oz rocks glass in the demonstration here.

There are a few important nuances to making this cocktail that I will explain. I am not going to give amounts of the ingredients, it will vary according to glass since that is generally the way you regulate the amounts….and it is a good way to get a feeling for making this without measuring tools…the natural or every day way!

The glass should contain lime pieces to at least half full. An 8 oz rocks glass is perfect for 1 small lime. After that it all flows naturally. If you use a bigger glass, you will need more lime…and sugar.


The table sugar in Brasil is comparable to super fine, or “bar sugar” in the US. It melts and mixes easily. “Bar sugar” is kind of a lost item in bars these days with the prevalent use of simple syrup. Regular table sugar in the US is a bit too coarse for making cocktails, hence the use of bar sugar or simple syrup in cocktails here in the States. It grinds up what you want to muddle too much, and is also not as soluble as the fine sugar. Brown sugar or turbinado is almost non-existent in Brasil and, although it makes a rich Caipirinha and seems rustic, it isn’t used in making a classic one. The use of fine white sugar in this case has one more important effect and that is it finely draws out the juices and oils of the lime in a subtle way that simple syrup does not do quite as well It is also much gentler and doesn’t rip up the limes like coarse sugar does.

Brasilians like things sweet. I like balance, but that is in the eye of the beholder. Adjust sweetness and tartness to your own taste, but be careful not to imbalance the spirits and mixer.


Regular Persian limes in Brasil tend to be smaller than in the US where they sometimes get as big as lemons. That large size can throw off your Caipirinha if you use a giant one in a small glass. So try to purchase medium to small limes. Always adjust to the size of glass. When buying Persian limes, choose limes that are rounder and have smooth skins, with hardly any dimples. The skins of these kinds are thinner so there is more juice, less pith and less bitterness. They are also much easier to juice and muddle. The more elongated limes with dimpled skin tend to have very thick skins and interiors. This means less juice and makes the limes more difficult to juice as well. The extra pith makes them more bitter as well. A few trips to the grocer and you will be able to verify the difference easily.

Notice the two limes pictured above. The top lime is elongated and dimpled. Inside the pith and skin is much more prevalent, making the lime harder and less juicy. The one on the bottom is nearly spherical, and inside the pith and skin is hardly noticeable.


Cachaça is made from sugar cane. It is a style of rum called rhum agricole. The most recognizable rum to most Americans is rhum industriale. Bacardi, Myer’s, Appleton Estate, Mount Gay etc..are all this style. The difference between them is that rhum industriale is distilled from fermented molasses and rum agricole is made from fermented cane juice. The flavors are completely different. In the French Carribbean, rhum agricole is used in a cocktail similar to the Caipirinha, Ti Punch, which is lime juice, cane syrup and rhum agricole.

 rhum agricole

There are many cachaças in the US market today. Some are old standards from the large industrial distilleries in Brasil like “51”, Pitu, and Velho Barreiro. There are also many home distilled or artisanal cachaças made all over Brasil that may have nothing more than a hand written label. There are also some larger and more artisanal brands of cachaça being produced now such as Novo Fogo and Sagatiba. Finally we have the cachaças made for the US or international markets such as Cabana and Leblon. If you are at a beach or barzinho (bar-zeen-yo) or botequim (bo-che-keen) in Rio,  you will almost assuredly get one of the big national brands like “51” in your caiprinha. There are bars in Brasil now where you can get amazing cocktails and caipirinhas made with a huge array of different cachaças; aged, flavored, from different regions and in different styles..etc..

For this classic we will use the old standard. But my aim here is not to stifle creativity or experimentation with aged spirits, other fruits, flavors, different sugars etc….It is just to show the classic form of Caipirinha in Brasil…But Please Be free!


This drink is always made with cracked or chunks of ice. Clear bag ice from the grocery store is perfect. If you are using something like Kold Draft, then you will have to crack it. It is important that the ice melts some with the drink. The drink is muddled and built in the glass, then shaken and poured back into the glass or cup. There are always exceptions when at the beach depending on tools and cups and makeshift shakers. It is important that your glass be FILLED with ice. This brings the temperature down fast, making sure that there isn’t too much melt in your Caipirinha.

8 oz Rocks Glass
Wooden muddler
1 Small Lime
2 Heaping spoons of Super Fine sugar
Ice to fill glass
Cachaça to fill glass
Hands down I prefer NOVO FOGO

Your lime

Cut the ends off your lime

 Cut the lime lengthwise into quarters

 Cut the center white rib out of each quarter

 Cut the pieces into eighths

 Add to glass

 Add sugar to taste (2 regular spoons)

 Muddle until sugar is dissolved and all juice extracted

Fill glass with ice

 Fill glass with cachaça

Pour contents into shaker and shake hard

Return all contents, unstrained, back to glass. Top with more ice if needed.
short straw

This is the classic Brazilian Caipirinha



Todd Appel

What should the sugar to water ratios in syrup for cocktails be?This has been a very important subject and one that for some reason still has some controversy over in our new world of drink mixing. One would think sugar syrup wouldn’t be a hot button issue, but whenever I have brought it up, I get some pretty hot responses and like I am a heretic that I should even question such a law of “mixology”. But there are some very good historical as well as logical reasons for my disdain of 1-1 simple syrup in cocktails.

For years I have wondered why my taste buds seemed to be at odds with many of the classic and new cocktails being offered around the country in during the renaissance of our modern cocktail world.
And I thought about something important that I realized many years ago.
Syrup in cocktails should be sugar heavy. Not to make the drinks sugar heavy, but to balance the sour ratios to their proper place and lessen added water.

I am not here to say drinks should be made in any way other than what the drinker wants. That takes precedent over anything. So if they want a sweet or sour or “balanced” drink, or a watered down drink, that is their prerogative. and you can do all of those things with a rich syrup, but once you have made your syrup 1-1, you can’t go back and you can’t get the balance that I believe is needed and was intended from the beginning and in most classic cocktail recipes calling for simple syrup.The original reason for making syrup for cocktails and other drinks was to make the sugar soluble. Pure and simple, no pun intended. One doesn’t need an equal amount of water to dissolve sugar, and I can only speculate as to how this practice came to be. But I believe it was out of a bit of laziness and expediency, both very human traits, but traits that unfortunately lead to things like “White Whiskey” and “Hamburger Helper”.

Many of the oldest drink recipes call for lump sugar to be dissolved by crushing or mixing. This became impractical as the cocktail evolved and pre-melting the sugar into a syrup became a standard.
That being said, the logical conclusion would be to nudge the solid sugar into liquid sugar. But we can’t realistically have that so we must add water to melt the sugar. Logic would have us add only as much water as needed to melt the sugar to be as close to liquid sugar as possible. But that logic has, for some reason, eluded far too many in our modern cocktail world.

Some basic premises, first.
1 When making cocktails, the general rule is that any outside water that gets into the drink, that isn’t added on purpose, will come from the ice melt and/or any juice.  This is very important to getting the correct dilution for spirits in cocktails.
2 The more water you have in your syrup ratio, the less sugar you have in your measurements and the more water you have in your cocktail, and the reverse.

3) The more water you have in your ratio, the less sugar you have in your syrup to balance the acid (lime or lemon juice)  1 oz of 1-1 simple is only .5 oz of sugar.

These two points are incredibly important to making a balanced cocktail, particularly when trying to recreate classic recipes that call for sugar, sugar syrup or gomme syrup.
But points that I realized have been lost on nearly the entire renaissance of cocktail culture in the US.
While there is a definite demand for quality ice and attention to ice melt today, there hasn’t been that same attention to the water and sugar in 1-1 sugar syrup.

It is also the reason, I believe, that far too many cocktails in our new cocktail world are terribly unbalanced, even though they seem to be following classic recipes to a tee. And those erroneous ratios are also translated to many modern originals today with the same poor results.
In Cooling Cups and Dainty Drinks, (William Terrington, 2nd edition,1870, pg. 60)  for making syrup…”..(sugar) …should be close in texture and hard to break. It requires for its solution one-third of its weight in cold, and less of boiling water.” This is a 3-1 sugar to water ratio.

When reading the classic Embury tome, The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks (David Embury,1948), some time ago, I was very disappointed to see his ratios of citrus juice to syrup up to 2-1 in his cocktail recipes, until I read his ratios of sugar to water in his syrup. Now it made much more sense and was important historical and logical evidence to support the use of heavy sugar syrup in cocktails..
He used almost pure liquid sugar and not the 1-1 sugar water that so many of today’s mixologists blindly use and not adjusted to the ratios that Embury might suggest. This leads to a complete disaster in the final product..

The problem here is twofold. 1-1 syrup offers more water and less sugar. This leads to more dilution and/or overly acidic drinks. Another problem is that if you are using measuring cups and not using a scale, you will have even less than a 1-1 ratio since a cup of dry granulated sugar weighs less than a cup of water.

Embury goes on about the sugar to water ratio to my absolute delight..”The object to determining the ratio of sugar and water is to make the syrup as heavy as possible without getting later crystallization. I have found that a mixture of 3 cups of sugar to each cup of water yields very satisfactory syrup.”

Embury also goes on to state he uses only syrups in even his Old-Fashioned cocktails and other cocktails that call for granulated or lump sugar and that there is absolutely no need nor desire to use gum arabic in syrups (pg 83-84, Art of Mixing Mixing Drinks, Embury)
The 1-1 ratio for simple syrup in cocktails is the elephant in the room of bartenders and mixology today.
I can’t think of one cocktail that would be better served with a ratio of more water, less sugar and/or more acid than what is called for in it’s recipe, and that is exactly what is happening in even some of the best cocktail bars in around the country.

The idea of delineating “rich” simple syrup vs “regular” simple syrup use in cocktails today is rendered inane with this realization.

All cocktails that use sugar really should use at a minimum a 2-1 ratio and the days of blindly using 1-1 sugar water in any cocktail needs to be a thing of the recent past.

A Philosophy of the Manhattan Cocktail

Todd Appel
Origins of the Manhattan date back to New York of 1870’s. A different world existed back then. A time when Ulysses S. Grant was President, Stanley met Livingston, and the first Kentucky Derby was run and a time when the cocktail was still in its infancy in the U.S. It was the Manhattan that was born and sired may offspring while staying important and popular above the thousands of cocktail ghosts that litter old bar books today.
It is my favorite cocktail. This is the quintessential drinking man and woman’s cocktail and for good reason.  The simple blend of dark spirit, Italian vermouth (sweet) and bitters yields a cocktail that is very complex and rich in flavors and aromas. It was born for the sophisticated drinker, the one who wants to enjoy each sip with a smile, as it rolls gently over tongue and mouth.
It is excellent in either summer or winter. By adding a dash of orange or peach bitters it becomes the perfect summer evening cocktail. A hint of allspice makes it a special winter sipper.
While tobacco products are certainly becoming taboo, the Manhattan does blend perfectly with a wonderful cigar or slow burning clove scented cigarette.
Recipes abound for this drink, yet the basics are simply a dark, barrel matured spirit, Italian vermouth and bitters mixed over ice and served up in a cocktail glass.
Many other cocktails are derivatives or themes on the Manhattan. The Old Fashioned is a very close relative to the Manhattan, born some years later in Kentucky. Whiskey, bitters, sugar, ice and citrus garnish make the Old Fashioned a very similar play on the theme built by the granddaddy of all these drinks, the Manhattan.
Some variations have actually taken on names of their own. A Manhattan made with Scotch whisky is a Rob Roy and a Manhattan made with Brandy can also be called a Harvard. The Brandy Manhattan is most popular in the state of Wisconsin, where they do call it a Brandy Manhattan and also drink their Old Fashioneds with brandy as well.
Acceptable variations that can be put together like a jazz improvisation on a melody can include any of the following.
Dark Spirit: Canadian Whiskey, Bourbon Whiskey, Rye Whiskey, Brandy or Cognac, Scotch whisky or any other whiskey that you may desire. Añejo tequila and rum are now accepted dark spirits that makes a delicious Manhattan style cocktail.
Vermouth or Amaro could be dry, sweet , bitter or a combination.
Liqueur Modifier  Try a splash of Maraschino, Peach, Pear etc. to add some fruit and depth to your manhattan style cocktail
Garnishes could include lemon peel, orange peel, maraschino or brandied cherries, or olives.
Bitters could be any of a multitude of homemade creations or prepared variations, such as Angostura, Fee Bros. Orange or Peach, or Peychaud’s.
Ice  Try it on the rocks for a cool slow sipping cocktail.
Ratios for any or all of the above can be varied to taste, but the dark spirit should be dominant in the drink.
Mixing the Manhattan is as important as deciding on your ratios. Ice is the unnamed and unseen ingredient that mellows and smoothes your Manhattan while the overt ingredients are blended together perfectly. Whether you drink your cocktail up, or on the rocks, an easy shake, stir, or tumble is essential to finishing your Manhattan.
My current favorite recipe for a Manhattan on the rocks:
½ part Dubonnet Rouge
½ Part Italian Vermouth
2 dashes of Angostura
1 dashes of peach bitters
1 Homemade Maraschino Cherry with stem
Build in your favorite rocks glass filled completely with ice and pour all contents into shaker and gently roll or swirl the cocktail and ice together. Do not shake. 15 seconds should do. Strain over fresh clear ice and add garnish. I sometimes swirl all ingredients including the garnish and pour all contents back into my rocks glass without straining. This adds some seasoning to the garnish and also extracts some subtle flavors from them into the cocktail.


This is the menu I offered at the spirited dinner at Bacco at this year‘s Tales of the Cocktail. I added a rationale for my pairings at the end of this menu.

Bacco Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Dinner Menu 2010

1st Cocktail Welcome
1.5 oz Citadelle Gin
.75 oz Dubonnet ROUGE
Fresh Pitted Sweet Cherries for muddle and garnish
Peychaud’s Bitters
Homemade Bitter Lemon Cordial
Club Soda
12 oz Zombie Glass
1st course
Carpaccio tuna belly with arugula, ponzu and citrus aioli
2nd COCKTAIL Appetizer
Santa Catarina
.5 oz MATHILDE Pear Liqueur
.5 oz Perfect Puree Pear Puree
.5 oz Spiced Syrup*
.5 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
Cracked Ice
Candied Lemon peel
8 oz Rocks Glass
In iced mixing glass add all ingredients except garnish. Hard shake and strain into fresh iced 8 oz rocks glass. Garnish with pear slice and candied lemon peel.
*Spiced Syrup is infused with cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, allspice, wintergreen, mace, vanilla
2nd course
Gulf seafood minestrone with saffron and pancetta
3rd COCKTAIL Interlude
.5 oz Pineapple Shrub Syrup*
Dash Angostura Bitters
Pineapple Ball Garnish
4.5 oz California Style Cocktail Glass
Add all ingredients except garnish and bitters to iced mixing glass and stir. Strain into small chilled cocktail/cordial glass and add pineapple ball and bitters.
*Pineapple-Cane Sugar- rice wine vinegar syrup
3rd course
Quail with Serrano ham, Mission figs and farro risotto
In honor of the Marquis de Lafayette and French assistance in our rebellion against English tyranny
.5 oz Vinagre de Jerez Reserva Solera 1970 and Vinagre de Pedro Ximenez 25 year syrup and Mathilde Orange XO reduction
Bitter Truth Decanter Bitters
1 Large Caramelized Cocktail Onion*
5 oz Antique Coupe Cocktail Glass
*Pearl onions caramelized in bacon fat from Maplewood Meats, Green Bay,WI packed in orange peel and sherry vinegar syrup
Add all ingredients except garnish to iced mixing glass and stir. Strain into chilled cocktail glass and garnish with cocktail onion.
4th course
Braised wagu short ribs with creamy polenta and chocolate stout reduction
Sélection des Anges 1er Cru de Cognac
1 oz Sauternes Wine
3 Tellicherry Black Pepper Corns
3 Fresh Pitted Sweet Cherries

Tulip Glass
Muddle 3 pitted sweet cherries with 3 Tellicherry black pepper corns and .5 oz Sauternes in an un-iced mixing glass. Add rest of Sauternes, Sélection des Anges and stir. Add ice to mixing glass. Stir very briefly just to bring a chill and double strain into unchilled Tulip glass. No garnish.
This drink is chilled just slightly to ensure aroma and nose, and yet be refreshing and playful with dessert. The fruit, spice and young wine bring some youth back to the masterly matured cognac!
5th course
Chocolate glazed chocolate Barolo cake with Louisiana blackberry sauce
About this menu
We begin with a few themes and threads through this cocktail pairing.
First is the use of fine Ferrand Cognac in two different ways. The young Ambre in a chilled traditional cocktail, the Pink Chemise, and a luxurious use of very mature master crafted Selection des Anges in the Gabriel’s Share. Not wishing to diminish the 30 year masterpiece of cognac, we wanted to create a cocktail that would focus on and respect this amazing Cognac. Just a bit of fruit, spice and mature sweet wine. All quality ingredients, but they pay homage to the star: The Ferrand Selection des Anges Cognac.
Cherries are used in two cocktails, the Cherry Bounce and the Gabriel’s Share to contrast the use of the same fruit in different ways. We are also using a Fino Sherry in the Pink Chemise and LaFayette cocktail, the former also including a Sherry vinegar syrup reduction for acid and sweetness and further depth for the main course.
Another theme is the inclusion of two vinegar shrubs/syrups in the Pink Chemise and Lafayette Cocktail; the Pink Chemise being fruitier, and the Lafayette being earthier. To contrast the use of general use of citrus fruit as the acidic part of a cocktail, we hope we can show the earthy tones in vinegar can be quite pleasant.
Two cocktails will also use Dubonnet Rouge, the Pink Chemise and the Cherry Bounce.
We begin the evening using white base spirits in two cocktails and follow with brown base spirits in the last three cocktails. The welcome cocktail is a gin long drink designed to refresh guests and quench thirst before dinner. The second slows down a bit, but stays refreshing by playing on a short Brasilian style batida; The Santa Catarina.
The third is a fun bridge between the previous cachaça based fruit drink. The Pink Chemise uses cognac, Dubonnet and pineapple vinegar reduction and a complex, deeper flavor emerges at the heart of the dinner menu.
The fourth, and main course is a bigger earthier cocktail, the LaFayette, with Rye, Cognac, Fino Sherry, Sherry vinegar syrup reduction and caramelized cocktail onions. The Rye anchors and adds some sharpness; the Cognac some softness, the Fino Sherry adds the dryness to balance the acidity and sweetness of the Sherry vinegar. The cocktail onion adds earthy tones with orange, the smokiness of bacon, sweet acidity, and, well, onion. The Rye and Cognac symbolize French assistance to America in our rebellion against the British.
Finally the Gabriel’s Share uses one of the finest cognacs in the world to end the evening. While the Selection de Anges stands on it’s own in exquisite complexity, we wanted to go against protocol and make a singular and luxurious cocktail as a grand finale to pair with the bitterness of chocolate and sweet/tart blackberries in the dessert.  The grandfather gets out and plays with cherries, pepper and Sauternes.