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After a long hiatus, Rob finally has a new cocktail worthy of posting!  I was asked to create a signature cocktail for a Spanish-themed fundraiser for Tehiyah School, where my friend Joan’s daughter Sophie attends, and also to head up the bartending staff at the event.  They had an initial suggested recipe called the Sao Paolo Samba, consisting of Absolut Mandarin vodka, lime juice, and simple syrup.  I tried this and it was reasonably drinkable and refreshing, but not very nuanced.  And besides, we needed a Spanish-themed cocktail, not a Brazilian one, and I wanted to put my own stamp on the drink in any case.  So after the usual extensive experimentation and arduous sampling over several weeks, the Sevilla Mandarina was born.  The final recipe combines the lovely tangerine-flavored Absolut Mandarin with equal parts fresh tangerine juice, lime juice, Cointreau (thanks Shannon for suggesting), and simple syrup, and I believe it achieves the desired effect of a refreshing yet multi-layered quaff that with a little imagination transports one to the patio of a bodega on a warm night in Seville, contemplating the beautiful Moorish architecture while listening to flamenco music.  Ole!

Sevilla Mandarina

  • 4 parts Absolut Mandarin vodka
  • 1 part fresh tangerine juice (Trader Joe’s works well)
  • 1 part fresh lime juice
  • 1 part Cointreau
  • 1 part simple syrup
  • Garnish:  Skewered blueberries & strawberries or kumquat

Shake all ingredients vigorously in a shaker half full of ice, strain into cocktail classes, and enjoy.

Note that for ease of serving or transporting, you can pre-mix equal parts tangerine & lime juice and Cointreau & simple syrup,  then combine those mixtures with the mandarin vodka in a 2:1:1 ratio.  I used this trick to enjoy Sevillas all through a trip to Panama by traveling with a liter plastic bottle of  Absolut Mandarin and 2 half liter water bottles with the juice and Cointreau/syrup mixtures in my luggage…




Chatham Artillery Punch

Punch has made a big comeback in recent years and even spawned punch-focused bars…at least in the hipster districts of San Francisco (e.g. Hobson’s Choice). While I’m not a huge fan of most punches (too fruity), I will admit that there is something festive about a full punch bowl. And something even more festive about an empty one!  And when you’re entertaining 50+ people, like we were recently, it certainly allows the host to enjoy the party without being tied up behind the bar.

So I settled on Chatham Artillery Punch for our occasion because I thought it would please everyone including my discriminating mixology partners:

  • 8 lemons
  • 1 pound superfine sugar
  • 750-milliliter bottle of bourbon. I used Maker’s Mark.
  • 750-milliliter bottle Cognac. You don’t need to be too fancy here.
  • 750-milliliter bottle dark Jamaican rum…I would avoid the spiced stuff.
  • 3 bottles Champagne or other sparkling wine. Don’t skimp to much on the champagne…it makes a difference.
  • Nutmeg



Bloody Dr. Watson

Last night I went to a friend’s holiday party and she greeted me with “Would you like something to drink? I have champagne and also lots of hard liquor.”  As she poured me a glass of champagne and lamented that she wasn’t sure she had enough on hand I admitted that I was known, on occasion, to mix a cocktail. It didn’t take too much effort from the host to get me to work on putting something together.Something we could make a big batch of and folks could server for themselves.

There weren’t a great deal of ingredients on hand but there was plenty of bourbon. And my eye was drawn to the fresh blood orange juice. A little tinkering and here’s what I cam up with:

  • 3 parts bourbon
  • 1 part fresh blood orange juice
  • 1 part Martinelli’s sparkling apple juice
  • 1/2 part fresh lemon juice
  • A dash of Angostura bitters (to add some depth)

Simply stir all the ingredients together in a pitch or a punch bowl. Serve on the rocks with a twist of blood orange peel.

There are lots of different ways you could present this. In some ways it is similar to a Bourbon Smash. So if you had blood oranges you could muddle those with bitters in an old-fashioned glass, add the bourbon and lemon juice, pack in some ice and then top with the sparkling apple juice. I think this would also make a nice punch presented in a big glass bowl with thinly sliced blood oranges floating on top.

The name was brainstormed by several folks enjoying the drink in the kitchen. “Bloody” came, of course, from the blood oranges. “Watson” came from Watsonville California where Martinelli’s hails from. I added the “Dr.” in part because the new Sherlock Holmes movie had just debuted and I thought that a fitting tribute. Holmes fans know that he was an adept boxer. And since I prepared this as a “punch” I thought…why not?

Watson Punches Holmes

Is the name too contrived? Let me know what you think by leaving a comment. Happy Holidays!


Barrel-aged Cocktails

We normally only write about cocktails we’ve actually made on this blog but this post from the Wall Street Journal Weekend Edition caught my eye and I couldn’t resist sharing. It describes using old whiskey barrels (small ones) to infuse a pre-mixed cocktail with the flavors of whiskey. Presumably you avoid bourbon/whiskey-based drinks that have already been barrel-aged…the idea is to infuse a bit of that depth and complexity into something else.

If you make a full barrel you end up with something like 80-100 cocktails (depending on how heavy your pour is) so I’m going to need some opinions on what would be good to make. If you’d like to sample a cocktail or three prepared in this fashion what would it be? Leave a comment below…


The Chang: A Tamarind Sazerac

A few months back we wrote about two cocktails we created in honor of Phillip Katanda’s new play, I Dream of Chang and Eng. And while I posted the ingredients for those very successful drinks I did not follow through with the recipes. So this post gets us halfway to fixing that.


The Chang is named after one of the famous Siamese Twins that are the subject of the play. The play itself mentions both cognac and absinthe (in a scene of temptation featuring the wife of the French attaché). And the twins married sisters from the Southern United States, a place famous for bourbon. So we immediately turned to the Sazerac…in particular a variant from Dale Degroff‘s The Essential Cocktail (cheezy website, great cocktail writer). Degroff’s insight is to take the absinthe, which is typically swirled in the glass and tossed, and move it out of the glass into a foam. It’s really lovely and a great technique for any ingredient that is swirled in a glass or is added in a very small (“a splash of…”) proportions.

Without further ado, here is The Chang:

  • 1 part cognac (don’t use the real cheap stuff but no reason to spend $100 on a bottle either)
  • 1 part rye whiskey. Or bourbon. For extra bonus points use a whiskey like CatDaddy from Piedmont Distillers in North Carolina (where the brothers settled down).
  • 1/2 part Tamarind Simple Syrup
  • Absinthe foam
  • Peychaud’s and Angostura bitters



I Dream of Chang and Eng

Chang & Eng PosterAbout a year ago we had the distinct pleasure of seeing a staged reading of Philip Kan Gotanda‘s new play, I Dream of Chang and Eng, at the ACT. Just before that we also had the good fortune of serving Philip (and many others) a few rounds of the ever popular Corpse Reviver #2. Feeling effusive, Phillip hatched the idea that we should build a couple of cocktails in honor of I Dream of Chang and Eng. An honor and a worthy challenge.

The play features Chang and Eng, the very famous Siamese twins. They were very interesting characters and, among other things, settled in North Carolina where they married sisters (not twins) and had 21 children between them. But you should see the play to learn more about them.

The creative process started with some obvious givens. First there would be two cocktails, one for each brother. We briefly considered a pousse-café but these are both hard to make for a crowd and, more importantly, usually not very good. The play itself mentions both cognac and absinthe (in a scene of temptation featuring the wife of the French attaché). And of course, being from Siam, a variety of Thai scents and flavors make an appearance, most notably Kaffir Lime. So we started making a list of relevant ingredients, which looked something like this:



Black Opal

I recently wrote about a then-upcoming cocktail party that featured several custom artisanal cocktails. Well the party itself was a smashing success and, of course, we secured the recipes for each of the featured drinks. And it is imperative, of course,  that we try them all.

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Today’s post is about the most unusual of the lot, a concoction containing Guinness, port and tequila (among other things). Here’s the recipe as provided by Jacques:

  • 1 1/2 oz Partida Reposado
  • 1 1/2 oz Guinness Draft
  • 1/2 oz Tawny Port
  • 1/4 oz Agave Nectar (The Agave Nectar is cut with equal parts water)
  • Dash of Angostura Bitters

Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled wine glass or small pint glass without ice. Garnish with some grated or ground cinnamon.

A few notes on the recipe. At the party, as you can see, this was served on the rocks. It works this way but is definitely better served up in a wine glass. You really shouldn’t substitute Ruby port–those caramel/butterscotch notes in the Tawny are important to bringing this together. I didn’t bother cutting the Agave Nectar with water and the drink didn’t suffer.

You definitely need to use Guinness cans with the “widget” in the bottom or you won’t get the pretty foam on top and it just won’t taste right. Finally, freshly grated cinnamon is a must for the proper aroma and appearance–I recommend using a micro-grater.

How this works is a mystery to me….that it works is undeniable. The metallic tang of Guinness provides depth and compliments the same flavor components in the Tequila. And the caramel flavors in the Tawny Port provides the appropriate rich sweetness and works well in conjunction with the Agave Nectar. I encourage you to try it even if you don’t think you like any of the ingredients individually.


A few more photos, including shots from the party itself, are included below

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Here at Four I’m Under My host we generally don’t include recipes for basic cocktails. Or for cocktails that are, how shall I put it…designed for people who don’t actually like cocktails. Or for cocktails made popular by 30 minute comedy shows. So, for example, a recipe for a Cosmopolitan cocktail isn’t something I’d expect to see in this space. And yet rules are made to be broken.


This is something I decided to do while thinking about what cocktail to serve on Thanksgiving. The winner was definitely the Turkey Daze, but I also decided to infuse some vodka with cranberries and orange peel. It was a beautiful color and, given the cranberry and orange, I decided to start by mixing a Cosmo. It’s actually quite a good cocktail when made properly but for a long time it wasn’t made properly (too sweet) and had, in any case, completely jumped the shark. For reference, the International Bartenders Association specifies the recipe as follows:



Of course you’re going to have a cocktail before Thanksgiving dinner. Yes, champagne is nice. But if you want something to warm you up in the chill autumn air you’ll want to have a proper cocktail served up in a martini glass. And nobody will stop you from having a glass of champagne or making a nice champagne cocktail after you’ve finished this off. Although you may want a second pour of this one if your host/bartender is willing to mix another round.

When thinking about a Thanksgiving cocktail there are a variety of considerations. Thanksgiving is an American holiday so you need typically American ingredients. And November is in the thick of fall…so autumnal flavors are also a consideration. And, of course, if you can work in flavors associated with the traditional Thanksgiving meal you’re doing even better.

So, in this spirit, I present the Turkey Daze. Start with Rye Whiskey and incorporate fresh apple cider. Some fresh squeezed lemon juice and simple syrup round out the primary flavors. And add egg white to build a nice foam on top of the drink, whose main purpose is to present an attractive garnish of swirled bitters and grated cinnamon. As follows…



Artisan Cocktail Menu

I’m so psyched that my terrific Mother-In-Law purchased a special “Cocktail Party” event in support of Music in the Vineyards, a local non-profit that brings top classical music to Napa (you should attend one of their events if you’re able…they’re really terrific). The event is coming up and I just got an advance copy of the menu:

Beefeater Gin, Fresh Apple Juice, Cider, Cinnamon, Clove, Anise, Nutmeg and Sparkling Water

Partida Reposado, Fino Sherry and Pear Liqueur

Plymouth Gin, Dry Sack Williams Humbert 15Yr Oloroso and Maraschino Liqueur

Partida Reposado, Guinness, Port and Angostura Bitters

Bourbon, Punt e Mes, Cherry Herring and Artisanal Cocoa Bitters

Winter Spice Infused Vodka with fresh lime juice and ginger beer

The mixologists are Erick Castro of Rickhouse and Jacques Bezuidenhout who works with the Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants are clearly pretty creative. I can’t see how the Black Opal will possibly work….which means I’m definitely looking forward to trying it first. And getting the recipes, trying them myself, and reporting the results on the blog. My only regret is that Rob won’t be able to make it…he’ll be hiking the Hanakapiai trail in Kauai.

Did I mention that my MIL is terrific?