Krabappel Punch

One of the great parts about being in the San Francisco chapter of the United States Bartender’s Guild is that you get to participate in fun events for good causes.

The other day I received a message titled, “Bartenders Needed for Holiday Farmer’s Market Cocktails with CUESA at the Ferry Building”.

“Would you like to showcase your talents and your workplace at our favorite fundraiser series Farmer’s Market Cocktails with CUESA at the Ferry Building on Wednesday November 20th?

“The theme this time around is Holiday Punches. A group of 12 talented USBG bartenders will utilize a sponsored spirit and the best fall produce to create unique punch recipes and pour them in sample size portions for a crowd of 300 foodies and cocktail enthusiasts.”

Well, yes, now that you mention it, I would!

I knew I wanted to do a Milk Clarified Punch, a la Jerry Thomas’ California Milk Punch. Initially, my idea was to recycle an old punch of mine, “Great Pumpkin Punch“.

However, when others chose the brown spirits, I took another tack. Trying the remaining spirits, the Reyka Vodka stood out as the cleanest tasting. But I knew the subtlety of a plain vodka would get lost in the pumpkin-spice punch. I needed a punch recipe that would be lighter.

I love apples and apple brandy and have always wanted to do an apple flavored Milk Punch.

There were some awesome little crab apples at one of the Ferry Plaza vendors, and I thought, what better tribute to Edna Krabappel than to make a punch?

If you want to sample it, you can make it yourself, or even better, tickets are still available to the CUESA event tomorrow, and then you’ll be able to try some 11 other fall themed beverages and enjoy some snacks! Hope to see you there!

Beat Them to the Punch

“Pull your party dresses and bow ties out of the closet for the kick-off event of the holiday season: Beat them to the Punch: Fall Cocktails of the Farmers Market. While the months ahead will surely feature obligatory office parties and family gatherings, you won’t want to miss this evening of overflowing punch bowls and savory bites with your friends.

“Join CUESA and the Northern California chapter of the United States Bartenders Guild (USBG) in the Ferry Building’s Grand Hall for a cozy night of creative holiday punches, hot spiced drinks, and nogs. An all-star lineup of bartenders and chefs will highlight fresh produce from the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, like pomegranates, persimmons, pears, citrus, and other fall delights.

“Guests receive two full-sized signature cocktails featuring Herradura Tequila, 11 sample sized drinks, and delicious hors d’oeuvres from ten of the Bay Area’s hottest chefs. A recipe booklet will be shared with attendees featuring all 13 seasonal drinks to inspire future party planning. Beat the party season to the punch and warm your soul with good friends as the winter holidays set in. There’ll be no Chardonnay, baked Brie, or fruitcake at this fete!

Krabappel Punch


8 750ml Bottles Reyka Vodka
1/2 750ml Bottle Batavia Arrack
8 Pounds Crab Apples, shredded
8 Lemons, Peeled and juiced

64 Ounces Water
32 Ounces Washed Raw Sugar
1 Cup Chai Spice Tea
6 Lemons, Juiced

1 Gallon Whole Milk, preferably not homogenized


4 Pounds Small Baking Apples, Cored
Enough Cinnamon Sticks, broken in half to fit inside apples
1 tsp Sugar per apple


Shredding Apples.

Zest citrus and add zest to Vodka and Arrack. Juice 8 Lemons, strain, and add to aforementioned liquid. Add Shredded Apples. Allow to infuse for at least 1 week.

Heat water and add tea. Steep 6 minutes and stir in sugar. Strain tea leaves out of syrup and chill.

Apples Baking.

Roast Apples at 350 until tender but not too mushy.

Strain Peels and Apples out of liquid, squeezing to get as much apple juice/vodka out as possible. Juice other 6 lemons and add to Flavored Booze Mixture. Heat milk to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Add to Flavored Booze Mixture. Allow to stand undisturbed for 30 minutes and filter through cheesecloth…

Straining Miik Solids.

…removing milk solids. Add Tea Syrup to filtered booze mixture and pour into clean containers. Allow to stand for a couple days. Rack clear liquid off of any accumulated sediment into clean, sanitized bottles and store. Chill well before serving. Serve on ice and garnish with freshly grated nutmeg. Makes about 3 gallons.

Krabappel Punch

Here are a few pictures from the event!

Krabappel Punch Sign

Krabappel Punch Sign

Reyka Vodka Tablescape.

Reyka Vodka Tablescape.

Punch Station Ready to Go.

Punch Station Ready to Go.

Yokohama Cocktail

First, just a reminder that Sunday, Feb 27, 2011, is our monthly exercise in folly, Savoy Cocktail Book Night at Alembic Bar. If any of the cocktails on this blog have captured your fancy, stop by after 6 and allow the skilled bartenders (and me) to make them for you. It is always a fun time.

The countdown to the last “Cocktail” continues.

Say it with me, “EIGHT!”

Yokohama Cocktail
1 Dash Absinthe. (1 dash Duplais Absinthe Verte)
1/6 Grenadine. (1/2 oz Grenadine)
1/6 Vodka. (1/2 oz Awamori)
1/3 Orange Juice. (1 oz Orange Juice)
1/3 Dry Gin. (1 oz Beefeater’s Gin)
Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.

Well, it does have a Japanese name, so I figured I should mix this with Japanese “Vodka”.

The Japanese were another culture which, as far as anyone knows, did not discover distillation until it was introduced from abroad.

The Japanese, being a particularly closed society for much of its history, were pretty late to the game, with the earliest written records showing up some time in the mid-1500s.

Distillation was probably introduced via the slightly looser federation of Islands to the South of Japan. These Islands were often in flux between Indonesia and Japan, so developed a more independent spirit and had contact with the various traders plying those waters. Like the Scottish Highlands, each Island would often have a distillery and a specialization.

Among the oldest traditions of Distilled spirits in the Islands near Japan are those of the Islands around Okinawa. Usually made from Rice, the Okinawan Spirits, called Awamori, are often aged for lengthy periods in clay jars.

While mildly flavored, this is really, by no stretch of the imagination anything near a “vodka”. With a good amount of character and flavor, this actually contributes far more than just Ethanol to the drink.

A close relative of the Monkey Gland, also from Harry McElhone’s 1928 “ABC of Cocktails”, the Yokohama is not bad. There is some interesting thing going on between the Grenadine, Orange and Awamori. I can see why people often mix Shochu with fruit juice!

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.

Laika Cocktail

Laika Cocktail

2 oz Vodka
Shy quarter ounce Lemon Juice
Quarter ounce 1-1 Honey Syrup
Allspice (aka Pimento) Dram

Stir with ice and strain into a glass coated with Allspice Dram. Squeeze thick swath of orange peel over cocktail and discard.

Another vodka cocktail I worked up for Heaven’s Dog.

I was trying to riff on the ingredients used in the Eastern European beverage calld Krupnik: vodka, lemon, honey, spice.

Trying to think of a name, Krupnik reminded me of Sputnik, which reminded me of the first animal to orbit the Earth, Laika.

If you have a vodka with some character, this cocktail will show it off.  I like to make it with the grape based vodka we have at work, CapRock.

Triomphe Cocktail

Triomphe Cocktail

1 1/2 oz Vodka
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Yellow Chartreuse
1/2 oz 1-1 Simple Syrup

Shake well with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with lemon peel.

At work, we often get asked for vodka cocktails. We have a few in the bar book, and quite a few of the gin cocktails can be made to work well enough with vodka.  But I still try to struggle to think up new and interesting vodka cocktails that customers enjoy.  I’ve gotten good response to this one.

The Triomphe is a variation on the Savoy Cocktail, Champs Elysees, made with vodka instead of Brandy.  And to be honest, I kind of prefer it to the original Brandy version.  It turns out less busy, and is a better feature for the Yellow Chartreuse.  Not entirely happy with the name, but the Arc de Triomphe is on the Champs Elysees in Paris, so that’s why I gave it that name.  It’s also something of a personal “Triumph” for me, whenever I think of a vodka cocktail I actually like.

Of course, smart aleck servers like to point out that another way of looking at the “Triomphe” is as a slightly herbal Lemon Drop.

Russian Cocktail


Russian Cocktail.
1/3 Crème de Cacao. (3/4 oz Bols White Creme de Cacao, errr, no, 3/4 oz Yellow Chartreuse!)
1/3 Dry Gin. (3/4 oz Beefeater Gin)
1/3 Vodka. (3/4 oz Crystal Head Vodka)
Shake well, strain into cocktail glass, and tossitoff quickski.

To be honest, I don’t really get the combination of Gin and Creme de Cacao, Vodka or no. And to be perfectly honest, you could probably sub in any other relatively clear liqueur and be happier. I know I was, using Yellow Chartreuse instead of Creme de Cacao.

The goofy Crystal Head vodka came in the mail from some company promoting the brand. It is a perfectly fine, if somewhat bland vodka.  I think it retails for something like $45 US, more than I ever pay for vodka.  Nice skull, though.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.

Vodka Menace

3 Major Accidents Strain Bay Area Commute, LIVERMORE (CBS 5 / BCN)

“Meanwhile, in Santa Clara County, two lanes of southbound U.S. 101 in Sunnyvale reopened at about 9:15 a.m., following a crash in which a big rig transporting vodka overturned and spilled the product onto the roadway, city spokesman John Pilger said.”

Too bad a tanker of Rose’s Lime Juice, a truck of ice, and a food service supply truck weren’t also involved. Could have been an early morning Gimlet Break for Apple employees…

Blue Monday Cocktail

I thought the Blue Monday a fine opportunity to gather a few of the examples of Orange Liqueur I seem to have accumulated and do a little comparison.

From Left to Right, we have Luxardo Triplum, Brizard Orange Curacao, Senior Curacao of Curacao, and Cointreau.

Blue Monday Cocktail

1/4 Cointreau (1/2 oz Orange Liqueur)
3/4 Vodka (1 1/2 oz Rain Vodka)
1 Dash Blue Vegetable Extract (1 drop Blue Food Coloring)

Shake (stir – eje) well and strain into cocktail glass.

What was immediately apparent, (and perhaps responsible for my reaction to the Blue Devil,) is that the Blue Food Coloring I used is not flavorless. Definitely adds a subtle unpleasant odor and flavor to the proceedings. In the future, a replacement will be needed. Just glad I didn’t try making these for guests.

In order from sweetest to least sweet, the liqueurs seem to go, Brizard, Luxardo, Senior, Cointreau.

The Brandy base of the Brizard, especially, makes it stand out. It’s more like an orange flavored brandy than a Triple Sec. This tasting made me re-think using it as an ingredient.

Of the others, I found the Luxardo to have the harshest base character. It definitely has that “after shave” kind of smell and is pretty hot on the tongue. Also slightly odd, the Luxardo cocktail seemed to haze slightly when chilled, like some of the orange oils were dropping out of solution. The Cointreau was next, still having a bit of alcohol heat and smell; but, more subtle and pleasant.

I was actually surprised how much I enjoyed the Senior Curacao of Curacao. It’s not a piercing or bitter orange flavor; but, a very nice, fresh, orange flavor. The base spirit, as well, is the smoothest, making it the most pleasant to enjoy in this cocktail.

As for the Blue Monday Cocktail itself, unless you are fond of slightly sweet and orangey, super-dry vodka martinis, I can’t really recommend it. I think it might be significantly improved with a dash of lemon juice, orange bitters, or a squeeze of orange peel. Just be sure your blue coloring is truly neutral in flavor before embarking.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.

Barbara Cocktail

Barbara Cocktail

1/4 Fresh Cream. (1/2 oz Cream)
1/4 Crème de Cacao. (1/2 oz Bols White Crème de Cacao)
1/2 Vodka. (1 oz Rain Vodka)

Shake well and strain into cocktail glass. (Shake on some Cocoa Powder to garnish.)

This Alexander variation is one of the only 4 uses of Vodka in the Savoy Cocktail book. I admit, I prefer my Alexanders made with Brandy. But, that’s not really saying much.

By the way, if anyone has advice on better brands of white Crème de Cacao, please let me know. The Bols (US) isn’t bad; but, not the greatest, either. Not a very intense chocolate flavor. I suspect these cocktails would be better with a more full flavored liqueur. Brizard, maybe?

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.