1½ ozs. brandy
½ oz. lemon juice
¼ oz. maraschino liqueur
¼ oz. curaçao
Shake well with ice. Strain into prechilled cocktail glass. More tart than the earlier versions of the brandy classic.

Though the recipe doesn’t call for a garnish, it looked a little plain, so I threw a maraschno cherry in to liven it up. As Playboy says, it’s on the tart side, but not unpleasantly so. The various flavours balanced quite well, but for some reason this didn’t really grab me. It wasn’t bad, just nothing I’d really seek out.

This drink first appears in Harry Craddock’s Savoy Cocktail Book from 1930. Craddock’s recipe has 3 parts spirit to 1 part each of lemon, maraschino, and curaçao, with a frosted rim and a twist of lemon peel, so was over twice as sweet as Playboy’s. I tried making another with Craddock’s recipe and I much preferred it.

From its invention to the late 60s the recipe stayed roughly the same. It shows up multiple times in books in the EUVS Vintage Cocktail Books collection and the only effective difference was the type of sugar used on the rim. Then in 1971 we get Playboy’s 6:2:1:1 ratio, then we see a move to a more standard sour ratio of 4:2:1:1, and then Difford’s Guide splits the difference between that and Craddock’s with a 4:1:1:1.

This post is part of my project to make, and where possible improve upon, all the cocktails in “Playboy’s Host and Bar Book” from 1971.



It appears it’s been almost 7 years since my last post that was actually on theme for this blog. Whoops. Well, no time like the pandemic to get back to drinking experiments.


1¾ ozs. brandy
½ oz. lemon juice
1 teaspoon curaçao
½ teaspoon sugar
Orange peel
Shake brandy, lemon juice, curaçao and sugar well with ice. Strain into prechilled sugar-frosted cocktail glass. Twist orange peel above drink and drop into glass.

It’s actually pretty tasty. Very tart, though the sugared rim helps with that. It doesn’t taste as spirit forward as you’d expect from something that’s got over twice as much spirit as all the other ingredients put together.  This is one of the few drinks I’ve had where the sugared rim shows its value; the first tart hit is refreshing but would be a bit much if it lingered to long, so the sugar comes along and tones it down. The orange peel is a really excellent addition to this drink; I don’t think it would be nearly as good without it. I suspect that the fact that all the recipes that came after dropped the peel and the rim are part of the reason the Alabama isn’t more popular than it is.

Researching this drink is confounded by the Alabama Slammer overwhelming any search results. The Playboy recipe is the earliest I’ve found so far. There’s a variant that shows up in one of my books from 1976 that is identical to the one currently on the Mr. Boston website (essentially the same as Playboy’s, just with 1.5 oz brandy instead and without the sugared rim and orange peel), but it isn’t in my 1981 copy of the print Mr. Boston. The most widespread recipe online goes to equal parts of brandy and curaçao and uses lime instead of lemon.

This post is part of my project to make, and where possible improve upon, all the cocktails in “Playboy’s Host and Bar Book” from 1971.

Chatham Artillery Punch

For the last handful of years I’ve been serving a variation on Chatham Artillery Punch at my birthday party (recipe below). It is delicious, and deceptive. At least one person every year misjudges its potency, and is then shamed the following year by having to wear a “punch card” so we can keep track of how many glasses they’ve had.

To try and avoid over-indulgence this year, I’m planning to include a lot of warnings around the bowl. Rather than reinvent the wheel, I headed over to the Library of Congress’s newspaper search to see what has already been said about it. Here’s what I found:

  • “… a drink with a 42-centimeter [Howitzer] kick to it…” – ‘The Labor Advocate’ (Cincinnati, Ohio), 1915
  • “… bites like a serpent and stings like an adder, but produces a jag of monumental proportions and lasting qualities.” – ‘The Sentinel Record’ (Hot Springs, Ark.), 1909
  • “Rumour hath it that every solitary man of the Blues was put under the table by this deceiving, diabolical and most delightful compound. … as a vanquisher of men its equal has never been found. It is as mild as a syllabub, seemingly, but it conquers like a cyclone.” – ‘Augusta Chronicle’ (Augusta, Ga.), 1885
  • “… more formidable than even the Spanish guns which protected Manilla bay” – ‘The Morning News’ (Savannah, Ga.), 1900
  • “President Taft will be ‘up against’ the hardest proposition of his tour when he arrives [in Savannah] this evening. He is about to be invited — nay, urged — to have a bout with the famous Chatham artillery punch, which already has many distinguished visitors to its credit. … If he partakes of it, he will prove his bravery beyond all criticism.” – ‘The Brownsville Daily Herald’ (Brownsville, Tex.), 1909
  • “… looks as deceptive as commencement lemonade, but that three tablespoonfuls of it to a person not used to liquor, is warranted to put him under a table, and do it every time without fail.” – ‘The Morning News’ (Savannah, Ga.), 1892
  • “There are those who, if pain and misery must be encountered, would rather have them come via the Savannah artillery punch route than by any other.” – ‘The Morning News’ (Savannah, Ga.), 1900
  • “The society editor of the Macon News calls ‘punch’ a wine. He should go to Savannah, tackle artillery punch and he would come to the conclusion that it is a solar plexus blow.” – ‘The Morning News’ (Savannah, Ga.), 1898
  • “‘Whatever you do,’ a man is related to have once said to a friend, ‘drink no more than seven glasses.’ ‘Why?’ asked the neophyte. ‘Because,’ answered he of infinite knowledge, ‘eight are fatal.’” – ‘The Morning News’ (Savannah, Ga.), 1900
  • “There is such a beverage made and known as artillery punch. We are living witnesses to the fact that it is no misnomer. When it attacketh a man it layeth him low and he knoweth not whence he cometh or whither he goeth. Like death, it knoweth no age or station in life, or, in other words, ‘it is no respecter of persons.’ It lacks respect. There’s where the trouble is. Its work is as quiet as the breathless working of wizard oil.” – ‘Mexico Weekly Ledger’ (Mexico Mo.), 1883
  • “…some of the old veterans found that artillery, when in the form of punch, was as dangerous as the grim artillery of warfare.” – ‘The Morning News’ (Savannah, Ga.), 1899
  • “Artillery punch is a solid punch. Its veiled wallop is like that of a boxing glove with a brick in it.” – ‘The Cairo Bulletin’ (Cairo, Ill.), 1912
  • “There’s a punch that is called the ‘artillery’.
    Unequalled by any distillery;
    It bring dreams of delight
    In the jovial night,
    But next morn the head fells ‘Jack and Jillery’.”
    – ‘The Sun’ (New York, NY), 1907
  • “J.H. Canon’s case was peculiar. He was charged with assault with intent to murder and he filed a plea of guilty of stabbing not in his own defense. Canon got into the scrape through a slight mistake. He is a waiter, and during the Centennial he went down the river in his professional capacity on the excursion of the Eighth Georgia Regiment. Canin is very fond of lemonade and he helped himself liberally to a lemon-flavored beverage which was on board. The next day Canon learned that he had been tampering with artillery punch instead of an innocent picnic beverage which he supposed it was. Canon had two cuts on his arm, and he had cut some one else, but he did not know any of the particulars. It had all happened while he was unconscious. Canon was shown to have a good reputation and his plea was accepted and sentence was suspended.” – ‘The Morning News’ (Savannah, Ga.), 1886

So,  yeah. Not a drink to mess with.

Hawaiian Artillery Punch
Peels of 12 lemons (just the yellow part – try to avoid pith)
2 cups sugar
500 ml lime-strength pineapple juice
750 ml brandy
750 ml bourbon
750 ml Jamaican rum
3 x 750 ml sparkling wine

Muddle the peel with the sugar. Let sit a couple hours to extract the oils. Add 500 ml of the pineapple juice, stir until sugar is dissolved, and strain into a 750 ml bottle. Top up to 750 ml if the bottle isn’t full (with the pineapple juice if you have some left, or with lemon juice). Store in fridge. To serve, fill a large punch bowl with ice. Add the juice/sugar mixture, the spirits, and the sparkling wine. Stir gently.

A New Invention – Lime Strength Pineapple Juice

In Dave Arnold’s ‘Liquid Intelligence’, he talks about about a method he uses to increase the acidity of orange juice to make it act as a substitute for lemon or lime as the sour component in a cocktail. This got me thinking about other juices that might be suitable for the same treatment. Pineapple juice seemed like a likely candidate, as it’s got some acidity already, and conveniently pineapples have just gone on sale here.

I did some research on the acid content of pineapple juice, wading through various industrial science papers from the pineapple industry, and, as best as I can determine, pineapple juice has an acid content of about 1.2 g/100ml, of which 87% is citric acid and 13% is malic acid (the same acids as in lime juice, just in different proportions).

I picked up a small pineapple, peeled and cored it, and threw it in a blender. Then I strained it and squeezed it through a nut-milk bag to get rid of as much pulp as possible. My final yield was 400 ml of juice. I knew I wanted a final acid content of 6 g/100ml, so I needed to add 4.8 grams of acid per 100 ml, or 19.2 grams acid total for the 400 ml. I went with a mix of 15.6 g citric acid and 3.6 g malic acid (about 4:1, part way between the acidic composition of lime juice and that of pineapple juice). Then I stirred until dissolved.

Based on the combination of acids, I figured the taste would work best as a substitute for lime. I substituted the juice for lime juice in a gimlet and in a daiquiri, and both were spectacular. A couple nights later, at the local cocktail book club meeting (where we were, not coincidentally, discussing ‘Liquid Intelligence’) we tried it in a Last Word. Aside from being a bit to sweet (the pineapple juice has about 8 times the sugar as lime juice), this was also quite good. The only recipe I’ve found it to be an unsatisfying substitute for lime juice is a margarita.

Next time I’m going to try getting the acid ratio a little closer to the 7:1 ratio of pineapple juice (so 4.2 g citric and 0.6 g malic per 100ml) to see how that affects the flavor. My guess is that this will make it a better candidate for replacing lemon than lime.

Lime Strength Pineapple Juice
Peel and core a pineapple. Blend and strain, or run through a juicer. For every 100 ml of juice extracted add:
3.9 g citric acid
0.9 g malic acid
Stir until dissolved. Refrigerate, keeps at least a week, but the flavour is best right away. Use in place of lime in any recipe, but reduce the amount of simple syrup or liqueur or it will be a bit too sweet.

Pineapple Gimlet

Heart of Gold
60 ml gin
25 ml lime strength pineapple juice
20 ml simple syrup
Shake with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass.

The William Revisited

On my last post (over a year ago, whoops!) I gave a recipe for ‘The William’, an 1889 recipe for The Only William’s preferred whiskey sour.

At the time I was working on that drink I had to make a guess as to what Schmidt meant by pineapple syrup. I was recently reading Dave Arnold’s “Liquid Intelligence”, and decided to run The William through his formula for creating a balanced cocktail (in terms of ABC, sweetness, and acidity).

Based on the results of that math, it seemed what I needed for the pineapple syrup spot was 10 ml of something twice as sweet and twice as acidic as pineapple juice, or, ideally, 5 ml of something 4 times as sweet and acidic. So I think that when Schmidt referred to pineapple syrup, there’s a good chance he meant pineapple juice that has been reduced to a syrup, instead of pineapple juice with sugar added.

Trying the drink with this new syrup definitely improved it (it wasn’t a bad drink before, but it’s great now). So here’s my corrected recipe:

The William
60 ml whiskey (Bulleit Bourbon)
15 ml lemon juice
15 ml orange juice
5 ml pineapple syrup* (about 5 mL seems right)
Barspoon of superfine sugar
Shake well with ice; strain.

* Pineapple syrup – boil pineapple juice until it reduces to 1/4 it’s original volume.

Repeal Day Cocktail: The William

William Schmidt
“What is the best recipe for a whiskey sour?”

“The finest,” said William [Schmidt], “is what is known as ‘The William.’ Take the juice of half a lemon, juice of a quarter orange, a dash of pineapple syrup and a barspoonful of sugar. Don’t put any seltzer in, for that would spoil it, but add an ordinary drink of whiskey. Then fill the glass with shaved ice and shake it well; serve in a fancy glass, and there you have a drink fit for a king.”

-The Evening World. (New York, NY), 15 Nov. 1889.

In honour of Repeal Day I’m forgoing the Playboy Host & Bar Book and attempting to re-create a pre-prohibition cocktail invented by “The Only William”, William Schmidt, of ‘the bar by the bridge’. Schmidt was a prolific inventor of cocktails, designing hundreds of the course of his career. He was quite creative in naming them, as well, so he must have thought highly of this one to have named it ‘The William’. Strangely, despite bestowing this honour on it, this drink didn’t show up in his 1891 book ‘The Flowing Bowl’; it doesn’t appear in any other publications, paper or online, that I can find either.

The William
2 oz whiskey (Bulleit Bourbon)
½ oz lemon juice
½ oz orange juice
Dash of pineapple syrup* (about 10 mL seems right)
Barspoon of superfine sugar (I ground table sugar up with a mortar and pestle)
Shake well with ice; strain.

At first I tried it with Alberta Premium Rye Whisky, and it was just okay. Then I tried it again with Bulleit Bourbon and it was excellent. The hint of sour from the pineapple worked well with the lemon to give this enough bite to counter the sweetness of the orange and sugar, and the caramel and vanilla notes of the bourbon really shine through.  This one I will make again.

* Pineapple syrup – equal parts sugar and pineapple juice, heat just enough to dissolve the sugar.

Carrillo’s Honeymoon

I just made up a fresh batch of falernum yesterday and was looking for something to make with it. At first I was thinking about making a Frosty Dawn, but then I noticed that I’d been left with a bottle of brandy after our last party so decided to try a different drink from the same creator.


Honeymoon Cocktail
1 ounce brandy
1 ounce orange juice
¼ ounce Cointreau
¼ ounce Falernum
Shake over shaved ice and serve

It’s quite a good drink, though I think I prefer the Frosty Dawn by a little bit. It is a bit on the sweet side, and might be improved by replacing some of the orange juice with lemon.

This cocktail was created by Albert Carrillo in 1959 for the United Kingdom Bartender’s Guild competition in Los Angeles, where it won first prize and got Carrillo a trip to Copenhagen for the International Bartender’s Guild competition [source].

The similarities to his earlier drink, the Frosty Dawn, are obvious – nearly identical proportions, with orange juice and falernum as ingredients. This gives a fairly flexible formula for creating new drinks (four parts each spirit and OJ, and 1 part each liqueur and falernum), which I plan to play with a bit to see if anything sticks – I’ve got a promising lead already with gin and Ginger of the Indies liqueur.

Art of the Cocktail 2013 – El Humo Grande

Wow, it’s been a while. To do a bit of catching up, about a month ago it was Art of the Cocktail here in Victoria. I went to a couple excellent workshops (“Cocktail Archaeology” with David Wondrich, and “Culinary Techniques” with Jeffrey Morgenthaler), had a bunch of delicious drink and food at the Grand Tasting, and, most relevant to this blog, entered the Best Home Bartender competition.

This was my 2nd year entering, and I’m pretty pleased with how things went. I was much more relaxed than last year – still nervous, but I felt reasonably confident in my performance. I think that came from a combination of being quite sure I had a delicious drink, and doing a lot of rehearsing. It also helped that there were a lot of familiar faces both in the audience and behind the bar (all the other competitors were friends – we’d all brainstormed, created, and tinkered with our entries as a group).

My drink came in a very close 2nd place. One place I lost points was that my drink was a little too diluted. When I make it at home it’s with ice right from the freezer, but the ice at the competition had been sitting out and was therefore pretty wet, and I didn’t think to factor that into my planning. Something to keep in mind for next year.

Anyway, the drink I entered, El Humo Grande, is a variation on a drink I’ve posted on here before – the Margarita de Ajonjoli.

El Humo Grande
35ml reposado tequila
20ml sesame-seed syrup
15ml lime juice
Small piece of chipotle pepper
Shake well with ice. Double strain over ice in a Margarita glass. Garnish with a wheel of lime.

Photo Credit: Michael Beach

Pear Rickey

Pear Rickey

Pear Rickey
1½ ozs. dry pear brandy (birnebrande)
¼ large lime
Iced club soda
2 wedge slices fresh ripe pear
Put three ice cubes into 8-oz. glass. Add pear brandy. Squeeze lime above drink and drop into glass. Add soda. Stir. Fasten the pear slices to a cocktail spear and place across rim of glass. Munch pear piecemeal while you drink.

For this recipe I used Okanagan Spirits Poire Williams Pear Brandy, which I picked up on a recent tour of their Vernon distillery.

This is a very refreshing summer drink, light and dry and aromatic. The delightful pear flavour of the Poire Williams shines through, but is also nicely balanced by the lime. This is one I will definitely make again.

The Rickey dates back to the late 19th century, but the PH&BB is the earliest reference I’ve found so far to the pear variety. It shows up a few places online, occasionally calling specifically for ½ oz. lime juice, and sometimes including a bit of simple syrup.

This post is part of my project to make, and where possible improve upon, all the cocktails in “Playboy’s Host and Bar Book” from 1971.

Mixology Monday LXXIV: San Juan Sling


For my second attempt at Mixology Monday, I decided to stick with the theme of this blog and pull something from Playboy’s Host & Bar Book. Andrea at Gin Hound selected cherries as this month’s MxMo theme, so between maraschino, kirsch, and cherry brandy I had a lot of options, but eventually settled on the San Juan Sling. I’d recently done up a pitcher of Singapore Slings for a party, and I think that may have influenced my choice a bit.

San Juan Sling

San Juan Sling
3/4 oz. light rum
3/4 oz. cherry liqueur
3/4 oz. Benedictine
1/2 oz. lime juice
Iced club soda
Lime peel
Shake rum, cherry liqueur, Benedictine and lime juice well with ice. Strain into tall 14-oz. glass half-filled with ice. Add soda. Twist lime peel above drink and drop into glass.

For this recipe I used Bacardi silver and  Bol’s Cherry Brandy.

This ended up being a really nice drink. The Benedictine is the dominant flavour, but it doesn’t take over at all. Rum and cherry make up the finish, and the lime mostly just keeps the sweetness in check. Next party I may do a pitcher of these instead of the Singapore.

I can’t find much on the history of this one. It doesn’t show up in any of my books, and the few recipes I can find online are identical to the Playboy version. There are mentions of a variation that adds Angostura, but no recipes.

This post is part of my project to make, and where possible improve upon, all the cocktails in “Playboy’s Host and Bar Book” from 1971.

Here’s the roundup of MxMo LXXIV posts: Part 1, Part 2