Saturday, December 29, 2012

Happy New Year!

Little else says ‘New Year’s Eve’ than champagne. Rarely does a new year pass without a bit of bubbly here at the Firewater Lounge. So, if champagne is on your shopping list, keep these pointers in mind. First, if you are not going to drink it right away, buy it at room temperature. If you need to cool it quick, use the following method. Get a wine bucket (or any bucket), fill it with equal parts water and ice and your bottle of champagne. Salt the ice with regular table salt. Spin the bottle within the ice every four minutes. In 12 minutes you will have cold champagne.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Tom and Jerry

Every Christmas that I remember well while growing up was celebrated with my grandmas. Now that they are gone, I think it’s during this season that I miss them most. It was with this in mind that we called home and asked for a look at Grandpa Knapp’s Tom and Jerry recipe.

A classic tipple whose warmth is only matched by its charm, the Tom and Jerry is Christmas. Its history goes back almost 200 years to a British journalist named Pierce Egan who promoted his book, Life in London, or The Day and Night Scenes of Jerry Hawthorn Esq. and his Elegant Friend Corinthian Tom, by plying would-be buyers with the eggnog variant. Celebrity barman, Jerry Thomas, however, made the drink popular, despite refusing to pour them at his bar until after the season’s first snowfall.

Like everything worthwhile, the Tom and Jerry takes time, work, and love. For an extra set of hands, I called on Paula to help. We set out a few bowls, a whisk, and a copy of the handwritten recipe on the counter. I began to separate eggs while Paula pondered the twists and curls her great-grandpa’s hand, attempting to discover the next step. She put her head in her palm and said, “you know, Dad, I can’t read this.” “It’s ok,” I said, “we’ll figure it out together."

It was a distinct pleasure to carefully reconstruct Grandpa Knapp’s Tom and Jerry. I hope we did right by him, though I’m sure he’d have had a few pointers. All I know is that when we were done, it tasted like Christmas, so we must have followed the twists and curls all right.

For those of you that still can, give your grandparents an extra hug this Christmas; let them know the holiday was made for them. As for us, we’ll raise a glass of Tom and Jerry in their memory. Where’s the recipe for this entry, you ask? I hope you’ll understand it’s a gift we’re not yet old enough to give; after all, it’s a family secret...

Merry Christmas,
Cindy, Jason, Paula and Quinn at the Firewater Lounge

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Granny Apple Flip

In this post, we will teach you how to do a simple fruit maceration. A maceration is a breakdown of fruit through the use of sugar, salt, or liquid or, in this case, all three. So, grab some Granny Smith apples and get to it!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Berry My Daddy

Among the best things that happened to Wisconsin liquor stores in 2012 were the arrival of Catdaddy and the reintroduction of Revel Stoke to the shelves. Here we will bring two of our favorites, Catdaddy Moonshine (from our Catdaddy Express post from April of 2011) and chokeberry syrup, to the party to create a holiday drink of some distinction.

Friday, November 16, 2012

False Vineyard

So Cindy and I were at Maduro’s in Madison over the summer, enjoying their signature cocktails (a Monk’s Summer for her, a Bird of Omen for me) when I spied a bottle of liquor that was new to me. When I asked the bartender for a closer look, he handed me a glass and poured a bit of the bronze-orange liqueur into it. It was Pierre Ferrand dry curacao, resurrected from a 19th-century recipe from Pierre Ferrand proprietor Alexandre Gabriel and legendary spirit historian David Wondrich. Unlike the saccharine orange syrup that passes for curacao today, Ferrand’s version is wonderfully full of orange peel and dry spice with a bit of bitterness on the end, perhaps like biting into a fresh orange peel in the tropics. I bought my first bottle this fall; it was gone before the break of the next day. It is great alone, but is indispensable in classic cocktails that call for orange curacao or triple sec.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Bloody Skeleton

Our next feature drink contains a gin that most Americans have never experienced, genever gin. The version of genever we are using is Bols which is now on the U.S. market. Made from a distillation of 60% malt wine with herbs such as anise, angelica, and coriander, Bols genever is malty with a hint of pear and other fruits not unlike Irish poteen (Irish potato moonshine). Using a secret recipe from 1820, Bols genever is only made in the Netherlands and its secret distillate ingredient is fiercely hush-hush.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Princess of Darkness

It is high time we introduced the world to the best fruit in the world to mix with: the chokeberry. A superfood of the first order, the chokeberry is high in vitamin C and antioxidants, beneficial in combating a wide range of maladies including cancers, cardiovascular disease, chronic inflammation, peptic ulcer, eye inflammation, and, most important to us at the FWL, liver failure. In addition, the chokeberry is rich in tannins which add a blast of late dryness to the palate (hence their names). Once in syrup, the chokeberry delivers a three tier punch of awesomeness- the taste is among the very best berry flavors you’ve had, the astringency of its touch conveys the after-effect of deep dryness, and the color is a glorious shade of dark red velvet.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Plymouth Fury, Lot 6

Our last Stephen King cocktail post involves novels from the early 1980s- Christine and Firestarter. Our Christine cocktail, called the Plymouth Fury from the make and model of Christine herself, requires that the cocktail have Plymouth gin in it and that it was the correct shade of red. So we riffed from the modern classic Cosmo and added Aphrodite bitters (from Dr. Adam Elmegirab’s) to remind us of the bittersweet love Arnie had for his Christine.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

George Stark, Needful Thing

The second of our Stephen King cocktails feature characters from back-to-back novels written from 1989 to 1991. The first we named after The Dark Half villain, the hard-drinking George Stark. The George Stark is a riff off the very-manly Sazerac. The difference is the homemade peppermint-horehound syrup. While you don’t have to be a diabolical killer to enjoy these two cocktails, it helps.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Captain Trips

The Firewater Lounge threw their annual summer shindig in July; this year’s theme was Stephen King characters. To complement the eerie proceedings, we created an interesting menu that was a decent hit with the crowd. Many of the drinks are spin-offs of classic cocktails, which were a lot of fun to make. We’ll post six of the best from the sixteen-drink menu and point out their original classic as well.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Hard Cider - Drinking Notes

Not much is more American than hard cider. John Adams drank a tankard of the stuff every morning and proclaimed it was the reason for his longevity (Adams died on Independence Day in 1826 at the age of 90). It featured prominently in the 1840 presidential election that promoted William Henry Harrison as the common man’s candidate since he was the hard cider imbiber. Strangely, though, the only hard cider available by our college years was Woodchuck, a run-of-the-mill, uncomplicated green apple slug (but still light years ahead of gut-destroying malty hard lemonades). Now, however, we have a number of interesting hard ciders from which to choose.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Nice Saison - Drinking Notes

Besides Wisconsin, Colorado is probably the second state in terms of beer-making (no, Missouri doesn't make beer). This drinking note comes from Tommyknocker Brewery in Idaho Springs, Colorado.

Thursday, August 9, 2012


Three things that Cuba has in abundance (or so we've been told despite that stupid embargo) are sugar, limes, and rum. Legend has it that an American mining engineer fresh off the Spanish-American war named Jenning Cox happened to be living and working in the small town of Daiquiri, Cuba, in 1905. As the tale goes, Cox ran out of gin at a party and switched to the local favorite, rum, to mix with his limes and sugar... and presto, the Daiquiri was born! One of the most loved rum drinks next to the resurging Mojito, the Daiquiri has never really seen a downturn in popularity.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Drinking Notes

In a whiplash-inducing fashion, we cannot simply do cocktails forever in this blog. Sometimes you are just too tired to get off you butt to mix, so this series is dedicated to the stuff we take straight.

First, we are looking for a beer for Cindy to take to football games. Light, refreshing, and approachable are keys to what we require. Our hunt started with Scuttlebutt.

Drinking Notes Series

This Everett, Washington, brewery offers a solid gamut of beers. We chose four of its beers to try: the Amber Ale, the Homeport Blonde, the Porter, and the Tripel Seasonal. The Amber Ale is closest in taste to the regular domestics with double the bittering units of, say, Miller Light. Hoppy in smell and not real distinctive in flavor, the Amber Ale was our least favorite of the four. The Homeport Blonde is Cindy's beer so far. Crisp and lemony with less hops than the Amber. The Blonde is also great looking in a glass, but might not have the strength of flavor for the boys. Tripel is a high-alcohol pale ale; Scuttlebutt's Tripel fits the bill with a pale ale at 9% alcohol and with scents of pears and grain. It doesn't have a strong flavor profile but tastes clean and light on a hot day. Scuttlebutt's Porter is probably the most interesting of the bunch. It pours out blacker than black with a small head. It has a coffee aroma and flavor leading to a hoppy finish with a layer of milk chocolate throughout. All in all, none of the four have dominating 'beer' taste, which is great for Cindy, our beer newbie, while possibly disappointing for our beer connoisseurs.

Potential cocktail compliments: All most all Scuttlebutt will get obliterated in a cocktail, but the Porter might work in a 1700s American tipple called the Rattle-Skull - make it before I do with the following recipe. Mix all in a mug - 3/4 ounce dark rum, 3/4 ounce brandy, 12 ounces (1 bottle) Scuttlebutt Porter, juice of half a lime. Grate nutmeg on top.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Straub's Classics

Bull Pup Cooler
 Jacques Straub had six years to live after publishing his classic cocktail book 'Drinks' in 1914. A wine steward at the Pendennis Club in Louisville and later at the Blackstone in Chicago, Straub was considered one of the foremost wine experts in the world. His tome, 'Drinks' bears this out, devoting the first 15 pages to wine and cocktail service, which is pretty unique for its time. The crazy thing is that even though the last 3/4 of 'Drinks' is the first recorded example of quick reference cocktail manual, Straub didn't like to drink. But this teetotaling drinkmaster has some stuff for the rest of us to try...

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Cincinnati Cocktail

Heat Indices into the 100s. Wow. It's hot. So everyone knows that the cocktails go in trade of beer. Ice cold and smooth. Here at the Firewater Lounge, we like our beers too (and plan on drinking them with you all a bit later in a post), but we also have a new find too - Maine Root Ginger Brew, some of the spiciest and tastiest ginger beers on the market. Maybe M.R. can tell you, the Louisiana way to beat the heat is to ingest some of the hottest gumbo/jambalaya/creole-whatever. So let's grab the coldest beer and the spiciest ginger brew we can find and put them together.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Summery Syrups and Cocktails

Kidman Cocktail
Summer time is syrup time. We are pretty much up to our elbows in fruit and sugar over here and since you can't just squeeze them all, we'll have to cook them down to make them drinkable. We introduced you to syrups long ago with the blueberry spice recipe, but let's add another wrinkle to the mix and use vinegar. And, no, we are not making salad dressing.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Don's Mix, part 2

We introduced you to Don the Beachcomber in September last year, but actually this is the season for his Tiki sensations like the Zombie and Mai Tai. We absolutely love to pour Zombies at the Lounge; we even go so far as to make virgin Zombies for the kids. There is a problem, however. You need Don's mix for a perfect Zombie (see our recipe for the Zombie and Don's Mix here).

Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Boroughs, pt. 2

We promised that we'd finish the New York boroughs cocktails, so tonight we deliver. If you'll remember, there is no Staten Island cocktail, thus there are only two others: the Bronx and the Queens. All the boroughs cocktails are very old. Each appears in the 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book (even though the Queens is spelled with an apostrophe-'s' in the Savoy, it is the same recipe as the borough drink 'Queens').

Saturday, May 26, 2012


In 1813, Joseph Noilly created his first recipe for what will become the immortal French dry vermouth, Noilly Prat. A whisper of Noilly Prat in gin is the quintessential Martini; no other recipe for a Martini will do here in the Firewater Lounge. But likely you have heard of and/or mix your own great Martinis. So, let's give you another classic but largely unknown drink that contains Noilly Prat, the complex and enigmatic 19, which is one of the few drinks in history named with a number. The subtle layers of sweet herb and fruit provide an interesting, some might say challenging, experience. The odd ingredient for most here is kirsch, which is morello cherry brandy. Dekuyper makes kirsch and it is widely sold in Wisconsin supermarket liquor stores. Also in the recipe is absinthe. If you do not have the money (or palate) for it, a dash of either Peychaud bitters, ouzo or another anise liqueur will do as a substitute.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Derby Special

Oooooh. Cinco de Mayo and the Kentucky Derby on the same day. How can we contain our excitement? Like we need two reasons to drink! Anyway, Cindy has been asking me to bring a recipe that more people would have the ingredients for. So, when I found out that the classic Derby Special fits this mold, I was glad to give it a try.

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Boroughs (pt. 1)

I promised a cocktail for the NFL draft this weekend and I am going in a different direction than football with this drink. The Draft is a raucous event at Manhattan's Radio City Music Hall, so I focused on the place rather than the spectacle.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Lunar Mare

It doesn't take a rocket scientist (sorry, Stiff) to notice that I like a good Aviation now and again. So far, the Lounge only has one drink that has multiple versions listed and that is the aforesaid Aviation. The main problem, however, with the Aviation is that it is often too sour in its classic form, so I decided to manipulate the proportions a bit and add chocolate. The result is a sweeter, deeper version of its cousin; if you add grapefruit instead of the lemon, you have a more sophisticated version of the 1969 Moonwalk. In that vein, then, we decided to call this drink the Lunar Mare.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Rum and Amari

We were rum-bombed by Stiff for Winterfest XIX, so we thought we'd pour an initial duo of these rums mixed with the high-class amari that we will also feature at the party. Since these drinks were created while watching jousting, we named them for warriors of the past and their fields of battle.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Jersey Darkling

At the end of the Christmas Carol, a reclaimed Scrooge tells Bob Cratchit that he would talk about raising his wage over a bowl of hot bishop. What the hell is bishop? Well, according to master bartender Jerry Thomas, it involves port, an orange, and an open fire. Frankly, too tedious. It wasn't until I came upon a modernization of it from the experts from New York's Employees Only bar that I would try to make it myself. Let me recount it here from their great book Speakeasy (try it, then buy the book).

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Mule's Hind Leg

It's time to introduce Harry Craddock to the Firewater Lounge Lizards. Craddock, the author of the immortal 1930 Savoy Cocktail book, was one of the many American mixologists who bailed on the good ol' U.S. when she banned liquor sales during Prohibition. Craddock went on to make a name for himself at the Savoy Hotel in London in 1920. Craddock's Savoy Cocktail book is almost 300 pages of vintage drinks, some incredibly awesome and some freaking terrible. Either way, pouring them is an adventure that should be explored by anyone interested in early twentieth century drinking. As an example of a strange taste from the book, I give you the ultra-sweet Mule's Hind Leg. "Drink it quickly," as Harry would say, "while it is still laughing at you!"

Friday, February 3, 2012

Show Stopper

A total riff off of the Champagne Cocktail, this next little beauty adds the sugar back to a brut Rosé by way of a blue curaçao-soaked sugar cube. Remember that sparkling Rosé reacts to the sugar in a dramatic way, so when making this drink, pour the Rosé in slowly until it fills half the glass, wait a second, and then pour the rest of the way. We call this one the Show Stopper; one look at it will show you why.

Show Stopper
Holly's Orignial Series

1 dash of Blue Curaçao
2 ounces of Rosé
1 dash of Benedictine

Place a sugar cube in a Champagne flute. Pour in a dash of curaçao. Slowly add the Rosé. Cap with Benedictine.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Maleku Mai Tai

Drink: Maleku Mai Tai
Around America Series
Estaplishment: Kapi Kapi
Location: Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica
First Connoisseur: Stiff

2 ounces Flor de Cana Rum
1 ounce Malibu
1 ounce pineapple juice
1 ounce orange juice
1 ounce ginger beer
Splash grenadine

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Champagne Cocktail

Let's talk cocktails here. Really, you say? I thought this was a cocktail blog! True, it is, but we often put up non-cocktail recipes for your enjoyment. What's the difference? Well, today almost every mixed drink is referred to as a cocktail. If you have read this blog carefully, you will note that some recipes are referenced as 'drinks' and some 'cocktails.' This is because the Firewater Lounge respects the old masters like Jerry Thomas who defined the American cocktail over 150 years ago.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Mississippi #1 with Bitters

It is a rare eclectic duck to have a cocktail that uses dashes of juice, but some of the oldest classics out of the much-loved Savoy Cocktail Book like the Presto or Harrovian use just a bit of acid to get gin-heavy drinks to pop. The Mississippi #1 is a mid-1900s riff of the Savoy's Mississippi Mule which favors lemon for the orange. Here we pour a modern Mississippi, dried out with a bit of Angostura.