The Cocktail Spirit with Robert Hess
The Cocktail Spirit with Robert Hess is dedicated to the creation of quality classic cocktails. Watch as he mixes up cocktail recipes from the past using the best ingredients.
Don’t Use Bad Ice in Your Cocktails - Mai Tai Recipe
19 Nov 14 9
Ice has become one of those things that some cocktail geeks can really… well… geek out about. You don’t have to look too hard to find people discussing the science of crystal clear ice, how to make hand-carved ice balls, or various other highly involved details about the ice that goes into mixing the perfect cocktail. As these deep examinations on ice start turning into esoteric exercise, it is easy to start dismissing the importance of ice all together. Ice is just frozen water isn’t it? What’s the big deal? In truth, thinking about the ice you put into your drink is a very important consideration. At the most rudimentary level it is all about size/shape, and temperature. Some bars will use what is referred to as Half-Cube or Crescent ice. These are two slightly different shapes, but about the same size, about the size of a pat of butter. This small and flatish ice will fill the glass with more ice than cubes would which will make the glass look like it is fuller of beverage than it actually is. Since there is more surface area exposed on this shape, it will melt faster as well. The result of course is a flabby drink, and not much of it. Higher end bars will go out of their way to use nice sized cube ice, the larger the cube, the less surface area exposed, and the slower the melt. For serving a drink on the rocks, you can select a size that virtually fills up the glass, but for mixing a drink you need something smaller so you aren’t fighting with the ice when you stir. The most common size is just a little over 1” cube. From a temperature standpoint, at a fairly rudimentary level, ice can be either “wet” or so cold it is “dry”. Wet ice has already started melting, and has a thin layer of water on it, which will immediately go into the drink. “Dry” ice (not to be confused with the CO2 based “dry ice”) is so cold that its surface hasn’t started melting yet. If you touch a cube of “dry” ice, your finger will stick to it because the ice is so cold it freezes to the small bit of moisture on your finger. So, while there is nothing wrong with geeking out about ice, your primary concern is to use nice sized cube which are as cold as possible.
Blood and Sand Cocktail
8 May 12 9
In 1922 Rudolph Valentino starred in the movie “Blood and Sand”, a movie that shortly before his death in 1926 he declared as the part he liked the best. He had just undergone a touchy surgery for appendicitis and gastric ulcers and told the gathering press “The part I like best was my role in ‘Blood and Sand’. If I had died, I would have liked to be remembered as an actor by that role – I think it my greatest.” He died a few days later from peritonitis. It is unknown who actually created the recipe for Blood and Sand, but its first appearance seems to be in “The Savoy Cocktail Book” by Harry Cradock in 1930. There it lists the recipe as equal parts of all three ingredients, but I feel that the recipe works better by boosting the scotch.
Young Man Cocktail
31 Jan 12 9
Created by famed bartender, Harry Craddock, the Young Man Cocktail is essentially a Manhattan made with Cognac. The addition of orange curaçao offers a subtle citrus note and a touch of sweetness.
19 Jan 12 9
The Washington Cocktail can be found in the Savoy Cocktail Book. Of the "new" style of cocktails created during the late 1800's, the Washington is typical of that era in that it contains vermouth like the manhattan and the martini but uses cognac as its spirit.
Between the Sheets Cocktail
16 Aug 11 9
Not many cocktails contain more than one base spirit, let alone three (unless they are created by Jamie Boudreau). The Between the Sheets cocktail is one exception.
Bobby Burns Cocktail
25 Jan 11 9
Fans of the Manhattan will no doubt enjoy the Bobby Burns Cocktail. Named after the Scottish poet, Robert Burns, it will certainly give you poetic inspiration. Grab your kilt and pipes or at least a pen and paper, mix up a Bobby Burns and get writing!
How to Make Rum Punch
11 Jan 11 9
Punch is great any time of year! With books like David Wondrich's Punch: The Delights (and Dangers) of the Flowing Bowl punches are becoming even more popular. Whether at home or behind the bar making a great punch is a wonderful way to bring friends and family together. In this very special episode, Chesterfield Browne, global ambassador for Mount Gay Rum, demonstrates his recipe for Rum Punch.
9 Nov 10 9
The Gimlet is an old style navy drink most likely invented when sailors in the British navy mixed their ration of gin with lime juice. A 1953 description was: "a real gimlet is half gin and half Rose's lime juice and nothing else" (Terry Lennox in Raymond Chandler's The Long Goodbye). Thus, Robert Hess shows you how to make a gimlet with Hendrick's Gin and Rose's Lime Juice, going against the idea that fresh is always better.
Fancy Free Cocktail
25 Nov 09 9
While Whiskey has always had its dedicated followers, for a long time it has been shunned by those who might feel the brown spirits are something which should be avoided. Lately however, there has been some renewed interest into this classic American spirit, and it's flavorful characteristics. While a Manhattan might be a little too forward for the beginner, the Fancy-Free might provide a slightly more comfortable introduction.
Zig Zag Café - Hot Buttered Rum
17 Dec 08 9
Now that you have chilled your batter grab some dark rum and let Kacy Fitch of Zig Zag Café in Seattle show you how to mix up a molten Hot Buttered Rum.
How to Choose Proper Glassware - Sazerac Cocktail
30 Oct 14 8
When it comes to glassware, it can far too often come down to simply using what you have on hand. In a pinch, there may not be anything wrong with that, but even when you are simply making a drink for yourself, you deserve to do things properly and serve it up right! Wine drinkers have long known that different wines taste better in particularly shaped glassware (Thank You Riedel!) In much the same way choosing the right glass for your cocktail can make a big difference in the final results. With cocktails it isn’t so much the nuances of the flavor profile, but instead it is the functionality of the form, the visual presentation, size of the drink, comfort, and elegance as well. Drinks that need to be served with ice obviously need to be in a larger glass than those that don’t. Iced drinks should also be served in glasses with more vertical sides like a typical “Rocks” glass as opposed to an angle-sided “Martini” glass. Many times, the cocktail glassware you might see for sale in various houseware stores, while well intentioned, only exacerbates the problem. Most of the “Martini” style glasses you will see for sale are designed to hold 7, 8, 9, or even more ounces. When you think about a true Martini, it is mostly booze, with a little water from the melting ice. A properly sized Martini will only be a little over 3 ounces of liquid once it is made. If you put this into a 9 ounce glass, it will look like an insignificant drink, which may lead you to pour WAY too much into the glass. Even a “sour style” drink like a Cosmopolitan, should only be around 4 ounces when it is properly made, which is still too small for such a large glass. So even if you are simply preparing to make drinks for yourself at home, you should gather a small collection of glassware so you can treat every drink you make properly. For tonight, Lucullus dines with Lucullus!
La Paloma Cocktail
25 Sep 13 8
Occasionally, adding salt to cocktails can help enhance, or even mask, certain flavors. In the case of the La Paloma Cocktail, arguably the most popular cocktail in Mexico, the addition of salt enhances the combined flavors of Tequila, lime juice and grapefruit soda. This is a refreshing cocktail any time of the year, especially if you live or are traveling south of the border. Learn more about Tequila Cabeza Grab a Bottle of Tequila Cabeza at DrinkUpNY.com
Weeski Cocktail - Courtesy of David Wondrich
16 Aug 12 8
Necessity can often be a wonderful inspiration. David Wondrich created this drink several years ago when he wanted to bring a bottle of pre-mixed Manhattans to a gathering of friends on Halloween. But his liquor cabinet was missing a few critical ingredients. Using what was at hand, he crafted a drink which focused on Jameson and Lillet, and the "Weeski" was born.
3 May 11 8
A beautifully simple and refreshing drink, the Americano was popularized by American tourists in Italy in the 1960s. Try one with your antipasto!
Fancy Whiskey Cocktail
15 Mar 11 8
The Old Fashioned is an old and distinguished cocktail, as well as one of my personal favorites. Many may point to its origins as being at the Pendennis Club in Louisville Kentucky around 1890, but its true roots go much deeper. Today we call it the Old Fashioned because it is a cocktail that is made in the true "old fashioned" way. You might even say it is the original cocktail, although in those days it would simply have been known as a whiskey cocktail, which with a little fancy embellishments becomes the Fancy Whiskey Cocktail.
22 Feb 11 8
A proper library of cocktail books is essential for exploring and finding inspiration. Many times gems are unearthed that can really get your wheels turning. Or, at the very least help bolster you cocktail menu. While visiting the Zig Zag Café, Robert and owner Ben Dougherty came upon the Cloister Cocktail in an obscure book neither of them had ever seen before.
19 Jan 11 8
Classic Tequila cocktails can be hard to come by. There is the Margarita, the most famous cocktail on planet Earth, and the Tequila Sunrise, and well, how many more can you name? Thus, Robert was pleasantly surprised when he came upon the Prado Cocktail in Jones Complete Bar Guide. With a hint of maraschino liqueur and the use of egg white, this cocktail is sure to become one of your favorites and hopefully, a classic.
Corpse Reviver #2 Cocktail
26 Oct 10 8
Said to have the ability to revive a corpse, hence the name, the Corpse Reviver was first listed in "The Savoy Cocktail Book" by Harry Craddock (1930). If you are feeling six feet under this Halloween, one or two of these cocktails is sure to bring you back to life.
Tom Collins Cocktail
19 Oct 10 8
The recipe for the Tom Collins first appeared in the 1876 edition of Jerry Thomas' "The Bartender's Guide". Apparently named after a little practical joke popular around 1874 in which one person would tell someone on the street that Tom Collins is in a local bar and is talking about them. The now agitated person would hurry off to confront this Tom Collins and soon enough a forward thinking bartender created the drink.
Interview: Sean Harrison and Desmond Payne
20 Jul 09 8
As if our coverage of Tales of the Cocktail 2009 could get any better! In this very special episode of The Cocktail SPirit with Robert Hess, Robert sits down for an exclusive interview with Sean Harrison, master distiller of Plymouth Gin and Desmond Payne, master distiller of Beefeater and now Beefeater 24. Together they have decades of experience crafting some of the world's finest gins. And, Robert has about the same amount of experience drinking them!
6 Jul 09 8
This drink was created by Zane Harris. I asked him for some ideas on a "summertime" cocktail, and he said this is one that he had recently worked up. He said it was a good summertime drink not only because it uses cachaça, but also because of the use of egg whites. Zane had noticed that during the summer, people tend to gravitate towards his egg white drinks more than they do the rest of the year. Check out our video on adding eggs to cocktails on Raising the Bar with Jamie Boudreau.
Strait’s Sling Cocktail
26 May 09 8
Of course almost everybody has heard of the famous Singapore Sling, invented at Raffles Hotel in Singapore. What they might not know, is that sometime during the 1930s they stopped serving the drink, and when they decided to start making it again, they discovered they no longer had the original recipe. As the rumor goes, an old customer had a recipe written on the back of an old napkin, and they used that to bring back the drink. There are some who say that this isn't the same recipe. Instead, they feel that the "original" Singapore Sling recipe is found here, in the recipe for the Straits Sling. We may never know.
17 Nov 08 8
This represents my entry into the classic Tiki cocktail arena. Since those Polynesian inspired restaurants were intended as a mini-vacation, I felt the name "Voyager" worked really well... or perhaps it's because I'm a big Star Trek fan... either way, it's a great drink.
Product Choice is Important - The Sidecar Cocktail
11 Dec 14 7
I recall one of the first times I went to the liquor store to “stock my liquor cabinet”. It was a tad daunting to try to make sense of all of the different bottles of booze and understand what I was needing. And the price range, wow! At the time, I didn’t really have any true knowledge of brands and quality variations, but I knew enough to realize that just because there might be a brand that I had heard of through their marketing efforts, didn’t necessarily mean it was a good product. Since there were several different products I needed to buy, and a budget to deal with, the $20+ products became less and less appealing. Knowing that with wines, price wasn’t really a useful measure of the quality, I assumed the same could be true with spirits, and so I tried to be selective on finding “bargain” priced bottles. At first, I thought it was just the recipes I was using which were making my cocktails lackluster. Thankfully I did the right thing when it came time to replace a depleted bottle, I intentionally bought a different brand, and since I only needed to buy one or two on this visit, I was able to buy something a little more expensive. My cocktails quickly improved. This isn’t to say that all of the good spirit choices have to be expensive ones. There are lower-cost products that you can use which can make cocktails as good, if not better than, their costlier counterparts. And sometimes, even if a more expensive product will make a better cocktail, is the difference noticeable enough to warrant the expense? Courvoisier, is a great cognac. Their VSOP costs, say $45 per bottle, but their VS is more like $25. A sidecar made with the VSOP will be a better drink, but will it be twice as good? If you were to compare them side by side, you’d probably pick the VSOP as the better drink, but you’d still really enjoy the VS as well. So in this case there is nothing wrong with going with the less expensive Courvoisier VS. Cointreau is a triple sec, and most recipes for a Sidecar simply list “Triple Sec” as an ingredient. Cointreau costs, say $34 a bottle, while you can get a bottle of triple sec for around $10. The difference here however can be quite amazing. Not only would you clearly identify a Cointreau Sidecar in a side-by-side comparison, but you might be hard-pressed to finish the one made with triple sec after this discovery. So selecting products you are going to use in your cocktails, realize that your choices will make a difference.
Liqeuer, Aperitif & Digestif
- Almond Liqueur
- Apricot Liqueur
- Blackcurrant Liqueur
- Chocolate Liqueur
- Cherry Liqueur
- Ginger Liqueur
- Herbal Liqueur
- Mint Liqueur
- Pomegranate Liqueur
- Orange Liqueur
- Violet Liqueur