TotC – Saturday – Live Blogging Making Your Own Cocktail Ingredients

4:29pm – Our panelists today are Erik Ellestad, John Deragon, Jamie Boudreau, and Robert Hess.

4:34pm – Robert Hess takes the mic to talk about bitters. He ran into Abbot’s bitters on ebay. It survived through prohibition, unlike many bitters, but it wasn’t made past the 60s. No one knows what happened to the company, family, or anything about its demise. After finding the ingredient list for Abbot’s bitters, Robert tried to recreate the bitters and failed. His next attempt was using tinctures, basically taking a single herb or botanical and soaking it in alcohol. This got him close and they became his house bitters. Here is Robert’s recipe for Abbot’s bitters.

50-50 Manhattan

  • 1 1/2oz Rittenhouse 100-proof rye whiskey
  • 1 1/2oz sweet vermouth
  • 2 dashes Deragon’s Abbot’s bitters
  • orange peel, for garnish

Stir with crushed ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Twist the peel over the drink to release the oils.

4:43pm – Tonka beans, a potential ingredient for the bitters, aren’t allowed by the FDA since they contain a blood thinner, so bitter makers are looking for substitutes. Wikipedia on the Tonka bean

4:45pm – Paul grabs the mic and begins to talk about how he got into making his own ingredients. One of his first was a simple one, grenadine. The sample of Tequila por mi Amante makes it way around. The recipe is super simple. 1qt strawberries and 1 pint of tequila. Chop strawberries, cover and let sit for 3 weeks. Strain.


  • 1oz Tequila por mi Amante
  • 1/2oz Partida reposado
  • 1oz St. Germain
  • 1/2oz lime juice

Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

4:49pm – One of his favorite ways to mix it is with lime juice, a little salt, and grapefruit soda.

4:51pm – Paul moves on to a tiki staple, falernum. The first available was velvet falernum, and it was quite hard to find. He quickly began to develop his own recipes… now he’s at number 10. It’s surprising that he omits the lime juice, which is common for falernum used in tiki drinks.

Falernum #10

  • 6oz Wray and Nephew Overproof rum
  • zest of 9 limes
  • 50 cloves, toasted
  • 2T blanced, slivered, almonds, toasted
  • 1/2t almond extract
  • 1 1/2oz ginger, peeled and julienned
  • 14oz 2:1 simple syrup

Soak dry ingredients in rum for 24 hours. Strain and add simple syrup to taste.

4:55pm – Erik takes the stage to talk about Swedish punsch. Haus Alpenz carries Batavia-Arrack, which can be used to make Swedish punsch. The Biffy Cocktail is absolutely delicious.

Underhill Swedish Punsch

  • 2 750ml bottles of El Dorado 5-year
  • 1 750ml bottle Batavia-Arrack van Oosten
  • 8 lemons, sliced thin and seeded< ?li>
  • 750ml water
  • 8t Yunnan Fancy China Black Tea
  • 2 crushed green cardamom pods
  • 4c washed raw sugar

Mix all to hell.

Biffy Ccoktail

  • 1 1/2oz Death’s Door gin
  • 3/4oz Swedish Punch
  • 3/4oz lemon juice
  • Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

5:01pm – Erik is now covering orgeat. Oh God, his recipe is delicious; I will definitely be making this. Here it is:

Underhill Orgeat

  • 550 gram blanched and roughly chopped almond & (optional) apricot kernels
  • 150 grams blanched and finely minced almonds & (optional) apricot kernels
  • 3 liters water
  • 9lbs of sugar
  • 1 cup Brandy/Cognac
  • 2 tsp Orange Flower Water
  • 1/4 oz per liter Natural Almond Extract

5:09pm – Jamie again brings it with the smack. “I’m Freakin’ Lazy, but those damn spirit companies (you know who you are) don’t make what I want, don’t make what I want – but won’t give it to me, or charge too much for what I want.”

5:11pm – “I’m a media whore, and it gives them something to write about.” No really, Jamie makes his own liqueurs because he wants unique flavors. You can make adult syrups, wine and beer syrups, lambics, shrubs, etc. We now have a table full of cups, filled with cocktails, syrups, and craziness. This panel is excellent.

5:17pm – Jamie is now going into his unorthodox process of making bitters. The best way he found to maintain consistency was actually to avoid using the specific recipes. He places each flavor component for the bitters in a separate jar. This allows him to use different spirits to pull out flavors, like vodka for orange bitters or cognac for Christmasy spices.

5:20pm – Filtering is tough. A coffee filter takes -forever- and sucks. Jamie actually uses a water filter to strain the bitters. People worry the charcoal will wash away the flavors, but Jamie disagrees. Now it’s time for Jamie to bash Eric Seed (lovingly, mind you). He’s using Swedish punsch as an example; you don’t always have to start from scratch… you taste rhum agricole, tequila, scotch, cardamom, sugar… then Eric Seed comes out with Batavia-arrack. You can make a simple punsch just by adding cardamom and sugar. “The only reason we use the Batavia-arrack for Swedish punsch, so why didn’t he just make Swedisch Punsch?”

5:25pm – Now Jamie moves to Amer Picon. After first tasting and experiencing a new flavor, he immediately decided to rip it apart and figure out how to recreate it. Here is his Amer Picon recipe.

Nirvana Cocktail

  • 2oz Rittenhouse 100-proof Sazerac Rye Whiskey
  • 1oz Amer Picon Replica
  • 1/4oz maraschino liqueur
  • 1/4oz Benedictine
  • 1 dash cherry bitters

Stir with crushed ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Here is another recipe to use the Amer Picon.


  • 1 1/2oz rye whiskey
  • 1/2 sweet vermouth
  • 1/4oz Amer Picon
  • 1 dash orange bitters
  • orange peel, for garnish

Stir with crushed ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

5:33pm – Daniel from PDT is now talking about fat washing. Render the bacon, add it to the whiskey and freeze overnight. The fat floats around in a nice little ball, so just remove it. This tastes ridiculously good. The whiskey is so smoky, fatty and perfect. The Ben’s Old Fashioned uses this bacon whiskey, with maple syrup, and bitters.

5:38pm – Jamie was bored and drunk at home, so he took his leftover truffle popcorn and threw it in cognac. “It was almost like the essence of truffle in cognac.”

5:41pm – This panel has definitely served more cocktails and spirit samples than any so far. And for that, they should be commended.

One Response to “TotC – Saturday – Live Blogging Making Your Own Cocktail Ingredients”

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One Comments to “ TotC – Saturday – Live Blogging Making Your Own Cocktail Ingredients”
  1. VidiotNo Gravatar says:

    Did Robert or anyone go into any more detail about the Abbott’s recipe? This version, from Darcy, doesn’t have any instructions or more info, and I’m really interested in trying Abbott’s.

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Kaiser Penguin is a cocktail blog featuring original recipes, homemade ingredients, classic cocktails, and tiki drinks.

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