In the Spirit

In the Spirit

Dissecting a Cocktail

By Tony Cross

Its origin dates to the early 1900s, and its recipe was first printed in the 1920s. I’ve found various sources that have differing opinions on which bar and what bartender had the first recipe, but many agree that the mojito we all now love and cherish was the drink famously served at Sloppy Joe’s in Havana, Cuba.

There are different ways to attack the execution of this cocktail — some bartenders prefer to build this drink in the glass that they are serving it in, while others employ tins to shake the mint, lime, sugar and rum. I’ve practiced both methods, and I prefer the former. No matter which one you choose, one thing should not be overlooked: Do not annihilate your mint.

 

Mojito

Specifications

3/4 ounce fresh lime juice

1/2 ounce rich simple syrup (or 1 tablespoon organic cane sugar)

8-12 mint leaves

2 ounces white rum

2-3 ounces club soda

4 drops salt solution (optional)

Mint sprig for garnish

 

Execution

Combine lime juice, syrup or sugar and mint leaves in a Collins glass. Gently press and twist to express mint oils. (If you’re using cane sugar, you can mix with lime juice before adding mint to dissolve. Bartender and author Garret Richard has a great hack: Use a milk frother — it’s perfect.) Add rum and cracked ice. Gently stir. Top with more cracked or crushed ice and garnish with mint sprig.    PS

Tony Cross owns and operates Reverie Cocktails, a cocktail delivery service that delivers kegged cocktails for businesses to pour on tap — but once a bartender, always a bartender.

In the Spirit

In the Spirit

Dissecting a Cocktail

Shannon Mustipher’s Lorikeet

By Tony Cross

When Tiki: Modern Tropical Cocktails hit the stands five years ago, I had just become familiar with the book’s author, Shannon Mustipher. I found Shannon on Instagram and immediately became a fan. Her extensive knowledge of rum was highly impressive from the get-go, but it was how she was able to get the information across that lured me in. The relatability in her delivery is uncanny. I purchased Tiki right away and couldn’t take my eyes off it.

A few months after ordering her book, I hosted a cocktail class, and one of the drinks I taught was her Lorikeet cocktail. The crowd I was entertaining was a blast and up for anything, so I thought that this rye whiskey-based cocktail, Shannon’s spin on the Jungle Bird classic, would be a treat. The spice from the rye pairs nicely with the banana liqueur, cinnamon syrup and pineapple juice. What I love about this cocktail is how you can convert those who aren’t fans of whiskey while turning on whiskey fans who don’t do tiki.   

 

Lorikeet

Specifications

2 ounces rye whiskey (preferably Rittenhouse)

1/2 ounce banana liqueur
(preferably Giffard Banane
du Brésil)

1/4 ounce cinnamon syrup

1 ounce fresh pineapple juice

3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice

6 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters

4 dashes Angostura bitters

Garnish

Orange twist

Pineapple spears

 

Execution

Combine all ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake hard for 5 seconds and strain into a Collins glass filled with crushed or pebble ice. Top with more ice and garnish with orange twist and 2 pineapple spears.   PS

Tony Cross owns and operates Reverie Cocktails, a cocktail delivery service that delivers kegged cocktails for businesses to pour on tap — but once a bartender, always a bartender.

In the Spirit

In the Spirit

Dissecting a Cocktail

The Daiquiri

By Tony Cross

It’s hard for me to pick favorites in the cocktail realm, but I would be lying through my teeth if I didn’t say that the daiquiri is near and dear to my heart. It will forever be underrated. One of the simplest, yet most complicated cocktails to master, the daiquiri is a telltale way of judging how good (or satisfactory) your bartender is.

Dating back to 1898 in Cuba, the daiquiri was created by Jennings S. Cox, a mining engineer from New York. Cox threw the drink together with Bacardi rum, lemon, sugar and ice. He first called the drink a “rum sour,” but at the suggestion of a fellow engineer, later changed it to “daiquiri,” the name of a beach near Santiago de Cuba. The daiquiri recipe that is used today was printed in Charles H. Baker’s 1939 book, The Gentleman’s Companion, and is made using white rum, lime juice and sugar.

For a classic daiquiri, you need light Cuban rum, which is impossible to get here in the U.S., so use whatever rum you prefer. With that said, a quick word on the specs: Whether you’re using light or dark rum, try to opt for something higher proof, especially if you’re using simple syrup as the sugar. Simple syrup contains water, so watering down an 80 proof rum will yield, in my opinion, lackluster results. If you only have access to a lower proof rum, use a 2:1 ratio simple syrup or use granulated sugar instead. 

 

Specifications

2 ounces rum

3/4 ounce lime juice

1/2 ounce simple syrup (2:1) or 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

4 drops salt solution (4:1) (optional)

 

Directions

In a cocktail shaker, combine all ingredients, add ice, and shake until vessel is ice cold. Strain into a chilled coupe glass. No garnish is necessary. If using granulated sugar, you may shake ingredients first without ice to dilute sugar into liquids.   PS

Tony Cross owns and operates Reverie Cocktails, a cocktail delivery service that delivers kegged cocktails for businesses to pour on tap — but once a bartender, always a bartender.

In the Spirit

In the Spirit

Dissecting a Cocktail

Creating the Andie Rose

By Tony Cross

Many years ago, while bartending, I was befriended by PineStraw’s art director, Andie Rose, when she took the time to let me know she had enjoyed her cocktails that evening. A few months later, she asked me to design a cocktail for the magazine’s anniversary issue. A year after that I was invited by mutual friends to a birthday dinner they were hosting for Andie, and I was asked if I would like to create a cocktail in her honor. Of course I would. I knew that Andie has an affinity for old-fashioneds, so I wanted a drink that would be whiskey-forward. However, I wasn’t sure if the other guests would be receptive to a spirit-forward cocktail. I decided to create a sour and build the drink around Monkey Shoulder malt whiskey. Monkey Shoulder is a versatile Scotch whiskey, perfect even for those who usually shun Scotch. Her birthday falls in the first part of March, but it was still cold, so the combination of allspice, orgeat and Angostura enhanced the creaminess and winter spice notes from the whiskey.

 

Specifications

1 1/2 ounces Monkey Shoulder whiskey

1/2 ounce Rittenhouse Rye

1/8 ounce allspice dram

3/4 ounce orgeat

3/4 ounce lemon juice

1 organic egg white

Angostura bitters

 

Directions

In a shaking tin, add all ingredients, except for the bitters. Seal tin and shake hard for 10 seconds. Add large cube (or sufficient amount) of ice and shake again for 10-15 seconds. Double-strain over a large rocks glass with large cube. Add three dashes of Angostura bitters over the cocktail.  PS

Tony Cross owns and operates Reverie Cocktails, a cocktail delivery service that delivers kegged cocktails for businesses to pour on tap — but once a bartender, always a bartender.

In the Spirit

In the Spirit

Change Is Good

Improving the way you cocktail

By Tony Cross

I’m not doing dry January this year, so I’m giving myself a break from taking a break. The new year looks to be a very important one for my business, and I’ll be elbow-deep in new endeavors. I’m always trying to improve recipes and I’m never 100 percent satisfied with the end result — that’s what keeps it fun and interesting. I’ll be tasting (or testing, if you will) many different recipes in January and changing up the way I approach cocktails, but for you home — and away — bartenders, here are a few staples you should keep in mind.

 

Measuring

This might sound like a no-brainer, but it doesn’t get said enough. If you’re not measuring your cocktails, they’re not going to be balanced, plain and simple. When I first started making classic cocktails, I wanted to be like the bartenders at Employees Only and free-pour my drinks — they measure by eyeing all of their pours in a pint glass. I got pretty decent at a few drinks, but I quickly realized that when I was busy and mixing drinks that called for 1/4 ounce of this or 1/8 ounce of that, getting those drinks perfectly balanced was futile. And while there are many more bartenders in establishments who use jiggers to measure, I still see some measuring incorrectly. How’s that? If you have a cocktail calling for 2 ounces of gin, and you fill up the 2-ounce jigger 3/4 of the way, not only is your cocktail incorrect, but you’ve just shorted a paying customer. This is not to say that the bartender is purposely shorting a patron; it has more to do with rushing through the process. And overflowing the jigger isn’t doing anyone any favors either.

 

Juice

This might sound like another no-brainer but, first of all, your juice should be fresh. (If it’s not super juice, a process that stretches the flavor profile at least a week.) When the juice loses its pop, it’s not going to work in your margarita. Another idea worth considering is acid-adjusting some juices, like orange juice. Back in the day I had the Blood & Sand on my menu. It was a classic drink, a bit unusual, and it had Scotch in it. I liked the cocktail, but I never loved it. I always felt like the orange juice — even if juiced that very minute — fell flat on my tastebuds when I mixed the drink. All these years later I found the solution. I learned about acids in Dave Arnold’s book Liquid Intelligence. One of his protégés, Garret Richard, had a quick recipe for acid-adjusting orange juice: For every100 milliliters of juice add 3.2 grams of citric acid and 2.0 grams of malic acid. That adjusts the acidity to that of lime juice. If you’d like your orange juice to have more of a lemon backbone, add 5.2 grams of citric acid per 100 milliliters of orange juice. And speaking of orange juice, if you’re going to add it to your margarita without adjusting the acid to the juice, please make the cocktail balanced. There’s nothing worse than paying $14 for a lousy margarita.

 

Salt

Just like adding salt to certain meals, adding it to certain cocktails, especially those with citrus, will make your drinks “POP!” — according to Instagram bartender Thirsty Whale. Not convinced? Do a side-by-side comparison of two daiquiris: one with a salt solution added and the other without. To make a salt solution, use a 4:1 ratio combining 80 grams of water with 20 grams of salt. It’s important to say again: Measuring is key, especially using salt. Get your 2024 off to a balanced start. You can lose it later. PS

Tony Cross is a bartender (well, ex-bartender) who runs cocktail catering company Reverie Cocktails in Southern Pines.

In the Spirit

In the Spirit

Dissecting a Cocktail

Jeffrey Morgenthaler’s eggnog

By Tony Cross

As a child, I loved it when my mother broke out the eggnog during holiday parties. However, when I reached adulthood, I couldn’t stand more than a cup of the store-bought goop. That all changed a decade ago when I whipped up boozy eggnog from a recipe I found on Portland bartender Jeffrey Morgenthaler’s blog. Not only is Morgenthaler’s version silky smooth, but the flavor profile is insane.

There’s no rum or cognac in this one — there is, however, añejo tequila and Amontillado sherry. Say what? I know, I squinted the first time I read that, too. The combination of a dry, nutty sherry and semi-sweet tequila is perfect for this Yuletide cheer. The first weekend that I made this a cocktail special when I was behind the bar, we almost sold out by Saturday lunch. Not only was it popular with our patrons, but our host, who worked the day shift, pleaded with me to give him any leftovers before we closed for Christmas. This is the best eggnog you’ll ever taste.

 

Eggnog

12 large eggs

450 grams baker’s sugar

15 ounces Amontillado sherry

12 ounces añejo tequila

36 ounces whole milk

24 ounces heavy cream

Fresh nutmeg, for garnish

In a stand mixer on low speed, beat eggs until smooth. Slowly add sugar until incorporated and dissolved. Slowly add sherry, tequila, milk and cream. Refrigerate overnight and serve in small, chilled cups. Dust with fresh nutmeg before serving. Makes approximately one gallon.  PS

Tony Cross owns and operates Reverie Cocktails, a cocktail delivery service that delivers kegged cocktails for businesses to pour on tap — but once a bartender, always a bartender.

In the Spirit

In the Spirit

Barware Breakthroughs

Drink smarter, not harder

By Tony Cross

Every now and then while I’m scrolling through social media, I’ll come across a bartending or kitchen tool that catches my eye. This has become more frequent in the past couple of years as bartending/cocktail influencers flood my algorithm like a Category 4 hurricane. There are a ton of folks online who will do anything for likes and are way too flashy, but there are a few quality accounts with a passion for spirits, cocktails and hospitality. I’ve actually found new ways to make drinks easier and more fun from a couple of the better-quality sites. Since we live to serve, here are a few of my favorites:

 

Morgenthaler Triomphe Atomizer

Having an atomizer is nothing new when it comes to my collection of bar tools, but it’s the details of this one that made me splurge. I’ve been following longtime bartender Jeffrey Morgenthaler for years, whether it’s his bartending blog, cocktail books or YouTube videos. When he announced he was collaborating with Cocktail Kingdom, I pretty much knew that I’d be interested in whatever he was pitching. Plus, I’m a fanboy, so there you go. The main reason I purchased my first atomizer years ago was to make my Sazerac cocktails better: On busy nights, I was wasting absinthe by rinsing my rocks glasses with it. An atomizer gave me the opportunity to evenly coat the glasses by spraying a mist of absinthe inside them. Another perk was saving absinthe; having a 1- or 2-ounce atomizer makes whatever is inside it go a long way. In addition to having a fine mist, the Morgenthaler atomizer has one detail that makes it more user-friendly: a rotating, color-coded system. When I see a green dot, I know it’s absinthe; when I grab my orange dot atomizer, I know it’s Angostura. There’s also an option to turn it yellow and red. This makes grabbing the right atomizer easier without having to label them. The fact that it’s easy to fill and use makes it a great addition to my set.

 

Vintage Kitchen’s “The Press”

This citrus press has gotten pretty popular, pretty damn quick. It seems like I saw it for the first time on an Instagram account and within a few months, everyone had their own — maybe not this exact brand, but a version of it. “The Press” is another way to juice your lemons and limes. What makes it different from your standard hand juicer, you ask? A couple of things. First, if you’re using a hand juicer and you press the citrus, you’re getting the juice, but the oils are lost. Using “The Press” squeezes the oils into the juice. This gives you a more flavorful fruit juice and will make your cocktails taste better. Second, hand juicers don’t allow for juicing oranges and grapefruits; they’re just too big to put in the fitting — even some lemons are hard to fit into hand juicers. This is exactly why I purchased one. Juicing grapefruits and oranges on the fly is effortless and, with the addition of the oils . . . it makes my tiki cocktails tastier and easier to make on-the-go.

 
Crew Supply Co. Crew and Chubby Bottles

The first time I came across Crew Bottles, I thought, “Why in the hell didn’t I think of that?” I was watching a bartender make a flavored syrup, and when he finished, he grabbed a glass bottle, twisted off the bottom and poured the syrup in. I had to have one. So, not only does it make adding syrups easier, it makes cleaning the glass bottles a cinch. Ever clean a bottle through just the small opening at the top? It’s more than a pain, especially if what was inside it stains and leaves an odor. Not only does Crew Supply make their syrup “Chubby” bottles, it also sells standard 750-milliliter “Crew” bottles. The same twist-bottom setup applies, but with the addition of measurements for 250, 500 and 750 milliliters. When the bottle is flipped upside down, you see graduated markings from 100 through 700 milliliters. No more guessing how much juice, spirit, syrup, or whatever else you’ve filled the bottle with, is left. Such a no-brainer moment. Even if you’re not a cocktail enthusiast, these make great gifts for anyone who spends time in the kitchen. PS

Tony Cross owns and operates Reverie Cocktails, a cocktail delivery service that delivers kegged cocktails for businesses to pour on tap — but once a bartender, always a bartender.

In the Spirit

In the Spirit

Which Sweet Vermouth?

Finding the best cocktail companion

By Tony Cross

One of my best friends is an avid beer drinker. He gets off on all of the subtle complexities that make beer and all of the varietals unique. He sent me a message last week asking, for probably the third time, “What’s the name of that damn vermouth again?”

My friend and his wife were at a cocktail lounge in Canada where they enjoyed a few classic drinks. The negroni was one of them. For someone who never drinks cocktails, he was amazed at the possibilities when combining spirit, sweet and bitter. Now, if he could only remember which vermouth they used, he could recreate the drink at home. Because we live to serve, here are a few sweet vermouths and how to pair them with some of the classics — including his. Now he’ll have a paper trail.

 

Manhattan

The first time I made a proper drink, it was a Manhattan. I had special-ordered a case of rye whiskey from our ABC and taken a trip to a wine shop in Southern Pines to purchase a bottle of vermouth. Rittenhouse was the rye and Carpano Antica was the vermouth. The drink forever changed the way I viewed cocktails. I’ve always been adamant about making Manhattans with Carpano, but I do change the specs from time to time. Lately, I’ve been using Mancino vermouth. It was birthed in Asti, Piedmont, in 2011, when owner Giancarlo Mancino wanted to create the world’s finest vermouths with hand-picked botanicals and spices. The Mancino vermouth is a little more full-bodied than the Carpano, with notes of baking spices and juniper. Trying this on its own, with or without ice, is a great way to understand your vermouth’s flavor profile before adding it to your cocktail. It’s also great as an aperitif.

2 ounces rye whiskey

1 ounce Mancino vermouth

2 dashes Angostura bitters

Put whiskey, vermouth, and bitters into a cold mixing vessel, add ice, and stir until cocktail is properly chilled and diluted. Strain into a chilled cocktail coupe. Garnish with Luxardo or brandied cherry.

 

Red Hook

In the 2000s, there were a number of bartenders who created cocktails that were spins on the classic Brooklyn cocktail, which consisted of rye whiskey, dry vermouth, maraschino liqueur and Amer Picon, a hard to find French apéritif. One of these variations, the Red Hook, caught my eye when I was behind the bar. I had seen a video where bartender Jamie Boudreau showed how to barrel-age this stirred cocktail. I was “hooked.” (Apologies to all.) Even though Boudreau might have been the first to barrel-age the Red Hook, it was originally created in 2003 by bartender, Vincenzo Errico at the Milk & Honey bar in New York City. The cocktail still uses rye whiskey and maraschino liqueur but incorporates the sweet vermouth Punt e Mes. This Italian vermouth translates to “point and a half” — one part sweet, one-half part bitter. That little bit of bitterness from the vermouth is exactly why using Punt e Mes is the perfect fit.

2 ounces rye whiskey

1/2 ounce maraschino liqueur

1/2 ounce Punt e Mes

Combine whiskey, maraschino liqueur and vermouth in a chilled mixing vessel. Add ice and stir until drink is chilled and diluted. Strain into a chilled cocktail coupe. Garnish with maraschino cherry.

 

Negroni

Last but not least, we have the beloved negroni. This cocktail can be considered a cocktail and an apéritif. It’s lovely to enjoy right before dinner because it really does awaken your taste buds. At the same time, it’s perfectly fine to enjoy a negroni any time you feel like having a drink. The drink is easy to create — the first time I learned, it was 3/4 ounce (each) of gin, Campari and sweet vermouth. Later I upped the amount of each ingredient to an ounce, and then began adding a bit more gin than the other two ingredients. I also rearranged the types of gin. For example, a London Dry like Beefeater’s is a great go-to because of the juniper and orange notes, but a Plymouth gin will make the cocktail more earthy and soft. Campari was always a staple but I could swap out several vermouths. One of my favorite vermouths to use is Carpano Antica — the vermouth my friend keeps forgetting. With its notes of orange and vanilla, it creates the perfect bridge between the higher proof gin and bitter Campari. If you’ve never tried a negroni, I implore you to.

1 1/4 ounces gin

3/4 ounce Campari

3/4 ounce Carpano Antica

You can create this cocktail three ways. The first is to build it in the glass you’ll be drinking from. To do this, simply combine all ingredients in a rocks glass, add ice, stir, and garnish with an orange slice. The second, is to put all the ingredients in a chilled mixing vessel, add ice, and then strain into a rocks glass over ice. Lastly, and this is done to completely control the dilution, repeat the second method but strain into a chilled cocktail coupe. If straining over ice in a rocks glass, garnish with an orange slice; if straining into a coupe, garnish with orange peel, expressing the oils over the cocktail before adding to the glass.  PS

Tony Cross owns and operates Reverie Cocktails, a cocktail delivery service that delivers kegged cocktails for businesses to pour on tap — but once a bartender, always a bartender.

In the Spirit

In the Spirit

Cognac, Pisco and Applejack

Here’s the story ’bout a spirit named Brandy

By Tony Cross

The other day I was watching Anders Erickson on YouTube, and he was demonstrating how to make the brandy crusta — a classic cocktail that I haven’t whipped up in almost a decade. It got me thinking about the different types of brandy that have been sitting, untouched, in my cabinet. Let’s discuss.

First, what is brandy? Simply put, it’s a spirit distilled from fruit. Cognac, for example, is produced in the Cognac region of France. There are six sub-regions, or appellations, where the grapes are grown. The grapes are fermented after being picked and then double-distilled in copper pots. The “eau de vie” is then aged in oak barrels. Cognac is classified in three different categories: VS (Very Special/Superior), aged for at least two years in oak casks; VSOP (Very Special/Superior Old Pale), aged for at least four years in oak casks; and XO (Extra Old), aged for at least six years in oak casks.

Pisco, another type of brandy, is native to parts of South America, Peru in particular, and is made by the distillation of grape juices and musts (the pulp and skins of crushed grapes). There was a time, long ago, when pisco was the only spirit you could get in the western United States. In Meehan’s Bartender Manual, bartender and author Jim Meehan explains: “Pisco Punch became legendary thanks to Scottish barman Duncan Nicol, who purchased San Francisco’s historic Bank Exchange Saloon — with its house punch recipe — in 1893 and kept it a secret, despite fanfare and public prying, until his dying day in 1926.” Some speculate that Nicol’s secret ingredient wasn’t just the gum arabic, it was cocaine. Meehan says, that might “explain why he permitted only two portions per patron.”

Another type of brandy, this one native to the United States, is apple brandy. An argument can be made that apple brandy has just as much claim to be America’s spirit as bourbon whiskey. Laird & Company, originally based in New Jersey, has been making brandy since the 1700s. Laird’s bonded apple brandy adheres to the same set of standards required for bonded whiskey, yielding a rich, deeply aged, spicy spirit. In addition to apple brandy, there is applejack. This spirit is traditionally produced by freezing distillation, known as “jacking.” Modern applejack is usually a combination of apple brandy and a neutral grain spirit (a 30 percent to 70 percent ratio). France has its own version of apple brandy, called Calvados. Produced in the Calvados region of France, it’s defined by production and aging regulations similar to those for cognac and Armagnac. It tends to have a crisp apple flavor with loads of barnyard funk.

In his YouTube video, Erikson says he never thought much about the brandy crusta because he felt it was more about the presentation than the ingredients in the cocktail itself. That resonated with me. I remembered making the cocktail and thinking that the whole thing was kind of silly. It’s one of the only cocktails that you garnish before you prepare the drink. The copious amounts of sugar crusted on the rim (hence the name) was kind of a turn-off for me. Erikson confessed that if it wasn’t for this cocktail, he would have never tasted the drink that turned him on to bartending — the Sidecar. (Another classic cocktail with links to the brandy crusta.) The lesson I learned is to respect all of the classics — even if it’s not your thing. So, without further ado, here’s Anders Erickson’s recipe:

 

Brandy Crusta

Take a large lemon and (with a Y-peeler or other peeler) peel around the entire fruit. Cut the lemon in half. Rim a coupe glass with the open half of sliced lemon; dip the rimmed coupe in sugar (don’t skimp). Carefully curl the long lemon peel all along the inside of the glass.

2 ounces Pierre Ferrand 1840 cognac

1/4 ounce Pierre Ferrand dry curaçao

1/4 ounce Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur

1/4 ounce semi-rich simple syrup (1 1/2:1 sugar/water)

1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice

2-4 dashes Angostura bitters

Combine all ingredients in a shaker, add ice, and shake hard for 15 seconds. Double strain into coupe glass.  PS

Tony Cross owns and operates Reverie Cocktails, a cocktail delivery service that delivers kegged cocktails for businesses to pour on tap — but once a bartender, always a bartender.

In the Spirit

In the Spirit

Three’s Company

Have liquor, will travel

By Tony Cross

On a lovely trip to Wrightsville Beach I had my fair share of margaritas and Mexican lagers from Tower 7 restaurant and Lagerheads Tavern. I also brought rum and liqueurs — as well as syrups and bitters — for my travel bar at the Airbnb. Naturally, I brought way too much. I definitely should have scaled it back. Lesson learned. With that in mind, here are some suggestions for those of you who would like to make a few quick and easy cocktails while on vacation but don’t want to lug around any more stuff than absolutely necessary. I’ll keep them in mind for my September trip, too.

Ti’ Punch

With the exception of a vodka and soda, this might be the easiest drink a beach-loving vacationer can make. Rum, lime and sugar are the only ingredients you’ll need. You may be asking yourself, “Isn’t that the recipe for a daquiri?” Well, sort of. You’ll need the end of a lime, not the juice, and this cocktail will not be shaken, only stirred, without ice. A quick history of the national drink of Martinique, per rum bartender, enthusiast and author Shannon Mustipher: “There is no real ‘recipe.’ It is meant to be built and enjoyed according to one’s own personal taste, and it is reflected in the local saying, Chacun prepare sa propre mort, which roughly translates as ‘Each prepares his own death.’”

Rhum agricole is recommended; these are usually 50 ABV or higher in spirit. I’ve used Clairin before (a Haitian rum) and thoroughly enjoyed the results. This is a spirit-forward drink and great sipper.

2 ounces rhum agricole (50 percent ABV)

1 bar spoon cane sugar or cane sugar simple syrup

1 lime

Cut a disc of skin from a lime, about the size of a silver dollar, taking as little of the pith and actual flesh of the lime as possible. In a rocks glass, muddle the lime disk with sugar or simple syrup. Top with rhum. Stir well to mix.

Gold Rush

I don’t drink a lot of whiskey during North Carolina summers, but if you do, the Gold Rush might be intriguing. It’s basically a whiskey sour, but with honey syrup for the sweetening agent. You might call it a Bee’s Knees with gin instead of whiskey. No matter how you look at it, it’s an easy cocktail to make. Use a younger bourbon, or one without a lot of oak present. As for the honey, you’ll want to make a syrup out of it, so it mixes easier when shaking the cocktail. You can do a 1:1 ratio with water, but a 2 or 3:1 ratio of honey to water will make the syrup richer and, in my opinion, a better mouthfeel.

2 ounces bourbon

3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice

1/2 ounce honey syrup (3:1). If using a smaller ratio of honey to water, use 3/4 ounce

Add all ingredients to cocktail shaker, add ice, and shake hard for 10-15 seconds. Strain into cocktail glass over a large cube. Add lemon peel for garnish.

Tommy’s Margarita

Be warned. If you haven’t had this margarita, you are going to be hooked. There’s no orange curaçao, no simple syrup, no fruit. I’m in love with this simple three-ingredient margarita that’s courtesy of Julio Bermejo of Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant in San Francisco. From Robert Simonson’s book Modern Classic Cocktails, he writes: “The seeds of the drink were planted when Bermejo was not yet of drinking age. Like many teenagers, he experimented with booze. Beer, rum and brandy left him with bad hangovers. But he found that tequila — filched from Tommy’s, his family’s restaurant in the Richmond District — didn’t do as much damage. And Herradura tequila in particular, made from 100 percent agave, left his brain largely unscathed.” Once Bermejo was of age to bartend, he began experimenting with higher quality tequila, fresh juices, and ultimately 86-ing any orange liqueur. By the mid-’90s, his margaritas began to turn heads, including well-known bartenders and newspapers like The Wall Street Journal.

For this margarita, you’ll need to make an agave syrup. A 2:1 ratio (2 parts agave and 1 part water) works great. Add agave and water into a saucepan and put over medium heat, stirring until agave is dissolved — should take less than a minute. A quality tequila is strongly recommended. Don’t even go through the trouble making your own agave syrup if you’re going to end up using inferior tequila. Though blanco tequilas work great in margs, a good reposado tequila really shines through in this one. Herradura reposado is still a great choice. These are addicting — don’t say I didn’t warn you.

2 ounces reposado tequila

1 ounce fresh lime juice

1/2 ounce agave syrup

Take a rocks glass and use a lime wedge to rim 1/4 to 1/2 of glass. Roll that part of the rim into a small plate containing kosher salt (Celtic salt is yum). Add a large ice cube into the glass. In a cocktail shaker, add tequila, lime juice, agave syrup, and ice. Shake hard for 10-15 seconds. Strain into a rocks glass and toast the beach.  PS

Tony Cross owns and operates Reverie Cocktails, a cocktail delivery service that delivers kegged cocktails for businesses to pour on tap — but once a bartender, always a bartender.