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.
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.
Violet Fizz Cocktail
23 Jul 13 7
The use of violet liqueur in the Violet Fizz Cocktail gives the drink not only a delightful pale violet color but an earthy and floral quality perfect for showcasing a floral and well balanced gin. Adding soda water helps to lengthen and bring together the remaining ingredients making for a refreshing summer sipper. Grab a Bottle of Ford's Gin at Caskers.com Created by The 86 Co., Ford's Gin just won Best New Product at the Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards 2013.
30 Aug 12 7
This drink was named for a member of the family which founded the Guion Line, a steamship company which operated from 1866 to 1892 and was one of the primary steamship lines providing transportation from London to New York. This drink was probably created at the Waldorf Astoria bar.
14 May 12 7
The original recipe for this called for equal parts of all four ingredients. Such a drink would be far too unbalanced, but feel free to give it a try if you want. The recipe shown here is more of a modified dry Martini, with the absinthe and violette being supporting actors instead of co-stars.
Poet’s Dream Cocktail
1 Nov 11 7
Found in the Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar book, the Poet's Dream cocktail is a beautiful representation of how Benedictine can be represented in a cocktail.
8 Mar 11 7
Ones own cocktail recipes are often derived from classics that have come before. The Negroni, equal parts gin, sweet vermouth and Campari, is one such classic that continues to inspire. Thus was the case when Robert created the Trident Cocktail.
Holiday Stinger Cocktail
21 Dec 10 7
Typically made with white creme de menthe, the Stinger cocktail is a wonderful dessert drink that pairs very well with rich chocolate. In this version, Robert substitutes green creme de menthe for the white for a more festive look.
27 Feb 09 7
Aperol is a fascinating ingredient which is making it's way back onto the market these days. It is similar to Campari, but not nearly as intense in its flavor. I created the "Petruchio" as a way to highlight Aperol, as well as mess around with using Scotch much the way you might use bitters in a drink. Aperol is produced in Padova (aka: "Padua") which is the setting for Shakespear's "The Taming of the Shrew", and so I named this drink after the main character in that play.
10 Sep 07 7
Vodka is the most popular of spirits, it's lack of discernable flavor however, when mixed in a cocktail, makes it necessary to approach it's use slightly differently than other spirits. In this episode we use the "Harrington" to illustrate how vodka can play an important role in various drinks.
Product Choice is Important - The Sidecar Cocktail
11 Dec 14 6
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.
15 Aug 13 6
Bitters are a hot topic here on Small Screen. Many of our viewers have written in with various questions about bitters and their use. In this episode, Robert addresses a question from Ian about the interchangeability of bitters and then makes a forgotten classic that is a variation on the Manhattan Cocktail, the Deshler.
Red Snapper Cocktail
21 May 12 6
If you dig into the often confusing history of the Bloody Mary, you will encounter references to it first being served in 1934 at the St. Regis hotel in New York by Fernand Petiot who brought the recipe with him from Paris (where some accounts claim he invented it). Since the name “Bloody Mary” was deemed to be a little to vulgar for the establishment, it was re-christened the “Red Snapper”, it is also said that since vodka wasn’t yet easily available here in the US, gin was used instead. Eventually the original name was returned to the drink, but the Red Snapper continued to be made with gin instead of vodka.
15 Nov 11 6
Robert found the Sherman Cocktail in the book, the "Old Waldorf Bar Days" by Albert Stevens Crockett. It is essentially a twist on the classic Manhattan with the addition of absinthe and double the types of bitters.
18 Oct 11 6
The Delmonico Cocktail is named after what is considered to be the first restaurant opened in the United States. First opened in 1827, Delmonico's has suffered through fire, prohibition and a series of proprietors and still serves its famous steaks today. The eponymous cocktail is just as strong and long lived as the restaurant.
27 Sep 11 6
Essentially a Martini with the addition of Benedictine, the Caprice Cocktail is a simple and delicious drink.
9 Aug 11 6
Many times in making cocktails, just as in life, the simpler the better. Such is the case with the delightful Apricot Cocktail. Originally found in the Fine Art of Mixing Drinks by David Embury,this cocktails three ingredients stirred with ice offer up beautiful aroma and nuanced flavor. Floral, fruity and even herbaceous, the Apricot Cocktail is a classic to be savored.
Lemon Drop Cocktail
12 Apr 11 6
The latter part of the 20th century did not produce the most creative cocktails. With few exceptions, the Cosmopolitan being a notable one, the 70's, 80's and 90's are considered a dark time in the history of mixed libations. But, there are some often overlooked gems that continue to refresh and tantalize. Unfortunately, with the Lemon Drop, the recipe has devolved into a syrupy, cloying, artificial flavor laden mess. As with all great cocktails gone awry, a return to fresh and simple ingredients revives it and brings it back to its former glory. The Lemon Drop also demonstrates how vodka can spread out and maximize the complimentary flavors in a cocktail.
13 Jul 09 6
From what I can figure out, a Diabolo is an odd-looking juggling device that almost looks like a yo-yo. Not quite sure what that has to do with this cocktail, but who am I to argue. This recipe appears in a few different locations starting around 1930, sometimes it also includes a dash or two of orange bitters, so feel free to add some if you wish.
9 Mar 09 6
Benedictine is one of those products which often just seems to gather dust on most bars shelves. When asked, most bartenders only know that it is used in a "B&B" which is why you'll normally see "B&B" on the back shelf instead of "Benedictine". The Cabaret is an excellent way to use Benedictine and grow accustomed to its unique flavor.
10 Nov 08 6
Exotic cocktails often need an exotic display, and few get more exotic than the Volcano. Served in it's namesake vessel, replete with mini volcano burning brightly in the center, this is sure to catch your attention. Fire extinguishers on the ready!
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