Sesame Syrup 2.0

I made a new batch of sesame-seed syrup last night using a much simpler method (no blender and simpler straining).

Sesame-Seed Syrup
2 cups raw sesame seeds
2 cups water
1 cup (approx.) sugar

  1. Spread the sesame seeds on a baking sheet and roast for about 10 minutes at 350° F, mixing occasionally, until lightly toasted.
  2. Mix the seeds and water in a pot and bring to a boil over medium heat. Let simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Strain through a fine mesh strainer (no cheesecloth needed!). This should yield about a cup of liquid. Mix the liquid, while still warm, with an equal amount of sugar and stir to dissolve. Bottle and keep refrigerated.

For my favourite recipe using this syrup, see the Margarita de Ajonjolí.


Mint Julep

I finally had a chance to get over to Vancouver and stop in at The Modern Bartender a couple days ago. One of the things I picked up was a stainless steel julep cup, so I decided to make myself a mint julep.

Mint Julep
Mint Julep
12 mint leaves on stem
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons water
2½ ozs. 86- or 100-proof bourbon
6 mint leaves on stem
Tear the 12 mint leaves partially while leaving them on stem. Place in tall 12-oz. glass or silver julep mug with sugar and water. Muddle or stir until sugar is completely dissolved. Fill glass with finely cracked ice. Add bourbon. Stir. Ice will dissolve partially. Add more ice to fill glass to rim, again stirring. Tear the 6 mint leaves partially to release aroma and insert into ice with leaves on top. Serve with or without straw.

For this recipe I used Jim Beam – it’s not as high-proof as suggested, but it’s what I had handy and I really wanted a julep right then.

Before I looked it up I was a bit worried that the Playboy recipe might try to pull something funny with this one, but it’s a fairly classic and straightforward julep recipe, and was just as tasty and refreshing as I’d hoped.

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.

Port Maria

Port Maria
Port Maria
1½ ozs. light rum
3/4 oz. pineapple juice
½ oz. lemon juice
1 teaspoon Falernum
Grated nutmeg
Shake rum, pineapple juice, lemon juice and Falernum well with ice. Strain into prechilled cocktail glass. Sprinkle nutmeg on top.

For this recipe I used Bacardi silver and homemade Falernum.

This one didn’t do much for me. It was okay, but it didn’t quite come together. The big problem was not enough falernum to really make itself known. I then tried it with different proportions (3:2:1:1), and it was excellent! The nutmeg and falernum combo is wonderful, and both work really well with the pineapple.

I’ve only found a few versions of this online, and none in any of my other books, so I’m not sure exactly when this drink originated. Based on the tiki-esque nature of it, though, I’d guess the 40s or 50s.

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.

Pago Pago

Pago Pago

Pago Pago
1½ ozs. golden rum
½ oz. fresh lime juice
½ teaspoon green Chartreuse
¼ teaspoon white crème de cacao
½ oz. pineapple juice
Shake well with ice. Strain into prechilled cocktail glass. Pineapple comes through beautifully.

For this recipe I used Ron de Jeremy, Meaghers crème de cacao, and canned pineapple juice.

Just based on the ingredients I figured this would be a very tasty drink. But unfortunately the Playboy Host & Bar Book cuts the key flavour ingredients down to a sixth of their amounts in the traditional recipe, and it just ends up bland.

The original recipe, as recovered from 1940’s The How and When by Jeff “Beachbum” Berry uses ounces instead of teaspoons for the Chartreuse and cacao, as well as muddling fresh pineapple chunks instead of using pineapple juice. I tried a second one using the classic proportions (but still using canned pineapple juice, since I didn’t have an fresh pineapple handy) and it was a huge improvement.

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.

Kirsch Cuba Libre

Kirsch Cuba Libre

Kirsch Cuba Libre
1½ ozs. kirschwasser
½ lime
Iced cola drink
Put three large ice cubes into a tall 14-oz. glass. Add kirschwasser. Squeeze lime above drink and drop into glass. Fill with cola. Stir.

For this recipe I used Schloss Kirsch and Coke.

This wasn’t too bad. I thought that the kirsch, being pretty dry, would cut the sweetness of the cola, but it somehow comes off as even sweeter than straight Coke. I guess it’s not too much of a surprise, I’ve never been that big on cherry cola either. I would happily serve this one to a cherry cola fan, though. I prefer the traditional Cuba Libre to this by far, even after the Rum & Coke bachelor party incident of ’96.

There are a few variations of this floating around online, but they’re all basically the same thing. Very few of them specify exactly 3 ice cubes like this one, though.

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.



1½ ozs. rum
½ oz. lime juice
½ oz. Triple Sec
¼ teaspoon maraschino liqueur
Shake well with ice. Strain into prechilled sugar-rimmed cocktail glass.

Since this recipe didn’t specify any specific kind of rum, I whipped out my bottle of Ron de Jeremy. I also used Meaghers Triple Sec, and Luxardo maraschino. I only rimmed half the glass so I could taste it without the extra sugar.

This was really nice! I was surprised by how well the maraschino stood out – the drink starts out all citrus and rum, but slides into the maraschino flavour at the finish. I didn’t find the sugared rim as off-putting as I usually do, either-  it just added a little extra sweetness whenever I wanted.

There are a lot of variations of the Beachcomber out there, many involving being served over crushed ice. I’m glad the Playboy one is served up, since I don’t think the flavour would stand up to any extra dilution. I’ve seen mentions of possible earlier dates, but the first concrete citation for this drink that I know of is from “Trader Vic’s Bar-Tender’s Guide” from 1947.

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.

Canadian Cocktail

Canadian Cocktail

Canadian Cocktail
1 ½ ozs. Canadian whisky
½ oz. lemon juice
¼ oz. curaçao
1 teaspoon sugar
2 dashes bitters
Shake well with ice. Strain into prechilled cocktail glass or over rocks in old-fashioned glass.

For this recipe I used Gibson’s 12-year, and Cointreau instead of curaçao. I also used simple syrup in place of sugar, for easier mixing. Since this recipe calls for non-specific bitters, it was the perfect time to pull out my recent batch of homemade Calamansi bitters*.

Not a really complicated drink. The whisky flavour is quite mild in this one, and it leans towards the citrusy. It might be a bit more interesting with a spicier bitters – some of the versions I’ve found online use orange bitters (which the Calamansi bitters are a good substitute for) and some use Angostura.

There’s a cocktail by this name in “Modern American Drinks” by George J. Kappeler (1895) which is just a Whiskey Cocktail (whiskey, gum syrup, and bitters) made with Canadian whisky. “The Savoy Cocktail Book” (1930) and “1700 Cocktails for the Man behind the bar” by R. de Fleury (1934) both have recipes by this name with Jamaican rum as the spirit and with the proportions of curaçao and spirit inverted. Most of the modern books I’ve checked, and most websites, have a similar recipe to Playboy. It almost looks like the modern Canadian Cocktail is a conflation of the two different historical Canadians.

Calamansi Bitters

*Calamansi Bitters
14 calamansi, halved
1 c. 100-proof vodka
½ tsp gentian
1 star anise, crushed
1 cardamom pod, crushed
¼ tsp coriander, crushed
1/3 c. sugar
Squeeze calamansi juice and seeds into vodka. Add in calamansi rinds and herbs. Let stand 2 weeks. Strain out solids, return liquid to jar. Boil solids in 2/3 c. water. Caramelize 1/3 c. sugar, and add it to water with solids. Let cool. Add caramel water with solids back in to jar with alcohol infusion. Let stand 5 more days. Strain and bottle.

These bitters manage to be sort of the inverse of orange bitters – instead of being citrus over a base of bitter herbs, the bitterness is up front with a very bright citrus tang underneath.

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.