Amer Picon Highball

Amer Picon Highball
1 Liqueur Glass of Amer Picon. (Amaro Ciociaro)
3 Dashes Grenadine. (1 teaspoon Small Hand Foods Grenadine)
1 Lump of Ice.
Fill medium size glass with syphon soda water or split of soda. Ginger Ale can be used if preferred. Add twist of lemon peel if desired.

It’s a bit odd that the only highball listed specifically is the Amer Picon Highball. Maybe because it includes Grenadine? In any case, this is pretty much exactly a Picon Punch.

What exactly is a Picon Punch? Well, to quote Chuck Taggart, “It’s the most popular cocktail in Bakersfield, California. Why, you may ask? I did, and looked it up — it ‘s the “national drink” of the Basque people, and there are lots of Euskadi folk and Basque restaurants in B’field (known otherwise only for Buck Owens’ place and for being the hometown of a lot of people I know who couldn’t wait to move to L.A.)”

So feel free to order one in Bakersfield, Reno, or even San Francisco. I have to admit I did not see anyone drinking them when we visited the Basque country in Spain, though.

Why am I using Amer CioCiaro instead of Amer Picon? The big reason is, I just don’t have any. I do have Torani Amer, but I have to admit that the rather rubbing alcohol-esque nose on Torani Amer always puts me off. But back to Amer Ciociaro, about a million years ago, Mr. David Wondrich, (aka Splificator) took it upon himself to taste through all the considerable Amari he had in his closet to find the one closest to vintage Amer Picon. He documented this on eGullet: A Bitter Truth

Not too long ago, our own Scratchline was generous enough to give me a half-bottle of the original, 78-proof Picon (thanks again!). The other day, I rummaged through the various hidey-holes where I keep my aperitifs and amari and rounded up enough to do a comparative tasting, Amer Picon against the world.

After much nosing and not a little tasting, the closest match in aroma and taste proved to be the 60-proof Amaro Ciociaro. Now, it’s not a perfect match (it’s a little more herbal), and admittedly 60 proof isn’t the same as 78 proof, but it does a great job of evoking the clean orange notes of the old Picon without being nearly as watery as the new Picon. Plus it avoids the vegetal notes of the Torani, which are entirely absent in the old Picon.

So when Mrs. Flannestad took a trip to NY, one of the things I tasked her with was finding a bottle of the stuff. Little did I know she would trek all the way to the now legendary LeNell’s in Brooklyn to find it. I knew there was a reason I married her!

In any case, such fortitude is no longer necessary in California, as Amaro CioCiaro is now distributed here and carried in San Francisco by Cask and K&L Wines. Cask, in particular, seems hell bent on resurrecting the amazing array of bitter substances previously seen only at the late lamented LeNell’s.

By the way, there’s no particular reason you couldn’t make a Highball with just about any Amer or Amaro, leaving out the sweetener if they are already particularly sweet. In fact, Amaro Montenegro is another one pretty close to Amer Picon. Though, now that I think about it, Fernet Branca Highball anyone? Rick? Angostura Highball? Dion? Jaegermeister Highball? Jeffrey?

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

Yamazaki 12 Highball

There’s a bunch of stuff to get out of the way with the drink called the “Highball”.

First off, like with the Martini, there is a modern tendency to use the name “Highball” for a whole class of drinks. In the case of the Highball, people use it as a category name for any drink with spirits and a carbonated mixer served over ice. Gin and Tonics are Highballs, Dark and Stormies are Highballs, Bulldogs are Highballs, Sleepyheads are Highballs, Seven and Sevens are Highballs.

Personally, I tend not to be so inclusive.

Highballs are shortish drinks served over a rock or two of ice and composed of spirits and soda water. Maybe Ginger Ale, but only if you’re a girl.

There’s a letter to the New York Times in the archive attributed to one “Patrick J. Duffy” from October 25, 1927.

THE FIRST SCOTCH HIGHBALL; Claim of the Adams House, Boston, Disputed by a New Yorker.

To summarize the article, an English actor came in to Mr. Patrick J. Duffy’s bar in the early 1890s and asked for a “Scotch and Soda” and was surprised to discover that Mr. Duffy did not stock Scotch, except in casks and mostly for winter warmers. The actor provided a reference, or source, for Scotch, presumably in bottles, and soon Mr. Duffy was selling nearly nothing but Scotch and Sodas or “Scotch Highballs” as the actor called the new drink.

It doesn’t sound like Duffy invented the drink, as the English actor asked for it, or that he named it, as he also gives the credit to the actor for that.

Here’s the first paragraph of Mr. Duffy’s Letter:

An editorial in THE TIMES says that the Adams House, Boston, claims to have served the first Scotch highball in this country. This claim is unfounded. The honor not only of making the first Scotch highball but of first introducing “case” Scotch whisky into this country belongs to E. J. Ratcliffe, the actor, who came here in the early 90’s from London with Mary Anderson’s company of players and who later was a leading actor in the old Lyceum Stock Company when that theatre was between Twenty-third and Twenty-fourth Streets on Fourth Avenue.

Use medium size glass.
1 Lump of Ice.
1 Glass of any Spirit, Liqueur or Wine desired. (2 oz Yamazaki 12*)
Fill glass with syphon soda water or split soda. Ginger Ale can be used if preferred. Add twist of lemon peel if desired.

So, as we talked about on the Collins Post, sometimes there is a problem with glassware.

As a cocktail geek, one of the notable things I like to check out in pictures of pre-prohibition bars is the large variety of glassware.

However, after prohibition, or at least by the 1970s, we were down to pretty much these three glasses for Drinks: Collins, Cocktail, and Bucket.

The modern tendency is to use the same tall 12-14 ounce Collins Glass for the Collins family and Highballs. However, Mr. Duffy, the person who allegedly introduced the Highball to American audiences, is very clear: The Highball is served in a 8 ounce glass.

So, two ounces of spirit, a large-ish hand cut cube, and maybe another two ounces of sparkling water in a rather short glass compose a Highball. I am lucky to have recently purchased this glass, as it is exactly 8 ounces.

Sadly, this glass size, which I really happen to like, has pretty much been extinct behind every bar in American since Prohibition.

Though, if you look, you will find lots of these glasses on eBay: shortish, straight sided glasses, often with the name of the bar or logo on the side. Usually, the eBay seller mistakenly calls them “water glasses,” but before prohibition, these were highball glasses.

As the first Highball was, in fact, a Scotch Highball, I figured I should at least make a gesture in that direction. However, as usual, I am being difficult. I decided to use Japanese Whisky, Suntory Yamazaki 12.

Quoting from the Suntory Yamazaki Website:

Both Suntory YAMAZAKI 12- and 18- year old single malts are aged in casks of three different kinds of oaks: American, Spanish and Japanese. This gives Suntory Whisky its unique quality. Each drink has a distinct taste.
YAMAZAKI Single Malt 12-Year Old Whisky
This is a medium-bodied whisky with the aromas of dried fruits and honey. It has a delicate, mellow taste with a lingering, woody, dry finish.

Interestingly, the Highball, or “Whisky-Soda”, is one of the most popular drinks in Japan, or at least one of the most common ways to drink Whisky. People who have been there tell me that Yamaki 12 is a more expensive whisky than anyone in Japan would typically drink in a Highball, they’d probably drink a cheaper blended Whisky, but it does make a fantastic and rediculously easy drinking Highball.

*I’m pretty sure I was sent this bottle of Yamazaki 12 some time ago by a publicity firm promoting the brand. Life doesn’t suck.

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


When I was talking to some friends about our recent “Hop Off!“, I asked what they thought of the beers we had tried. A couple of them professed to not really like those rather extreme examples of Hopsmanship.

One example a friend gave, was that they preferred Drake’s Denogginizer to the more extreme Hopocalypse.

Denogginizer Double India Pale Ale – 9.75% ABV, 90 IBUs
Silver Medal winner for Imperial India Pale Ale, Great American Beer Festival 2009. Besides Jolly Roger, this is probably Drake’s most renowned beer. An Imperial (or Double) IPA, Denogginizer is a big bold beer hopped with an abundant amount of Simcoe and Amarillo with a touch of Ahtanum and Chinook. Mashed with Crystal malt and Caramalt for color and flavor to help balance out the hop assault. Denogginizer is also Drake’s most powerful regular offering, at a whopping 10% alcohol by volume!

Well, I don’t know, Denogginzer is an Imperial IPA and Hopocalypse is a Double IPA. What the difference is technically between a Double IPA and an Imperial IPA, I do not know. I do know Denogginizer is even stronger, sweeter, and maltier than Hopocalypse. Hopocalypse seemed Hoppier, but it might just have been the varieties used, not the amount of Hops. If I remember correctly from the Hop Off!, and night of the Hop Off! is a little blurry for some reason, I think I preferred Hopocalypse.

WesMar 2006 Russian River Zinfandel

2006 Zinfandel, Russian River Valley (183 cases)
Aromas of spice, and berry fruits. The mouth offers a sweet blackberry entry followed by wild berries, anise,
chocolate, cola with minimal oak. This is a fun medium bodied zinfandel with a medium length finish that is vinous
and well balanced.

Beef Stew with Winter Vegetables.

CUESA Shrub Class

A few days ago, I mentioned the CUESA Shrub Class that Aaron Gregory Smith and Jennifer Colliau are giving for CUESA.

The description site is now up and there’s a link to purchase tickets:

Berry Shrubs with Jennifer Colliau of Small Hand Foods & Aaron Gregory Smith of 15 Romolo

Don’t know what shrubs are yet? Visit the Ark, Oh Parched One… and read up about this almost lost (and recently revived) art. Then get ready to learn from bartenders extraordinaires, Jennifer Colliau of Small Hand Foods and Aaron Gregory Smith of 15 Romolo, they will share their recipes for vinegar-based shrubs using delicious seasonal berries during this hands-on class.

The class will learn all about shrubs, particularly pre-prohibition style traditional shrubs, taste already made shrubs, make 2 shrubs of their very own and learn about how to use them in cocktails. They’ll each take home 2 quart jars of their own shrub made with fresh seasonal fruit (apricots, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries) and herbs from the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. Also includes take-home booklet. (and yes, non-alcoholic options – and samples- of both will be available.)

Port Wine Sangaree

Port Wine Sangaree
1 1/3 Wineglasses of Port Wine. (Generous 2 oz Smith & Woodhouse 1999 Late Bottled Vintage Port)
1 Teaspoonful of Sugar. (1 teaspoon caster sugar)
(1 oz Chilled Sparkling Water)
Fill tumbler 2/3 full of ice. Shake well and grate nutmeg on top. (Err, well, as in the previous two Sangarees, muddle sugar in a splash of soda water to dissolve. Add big ice cube, pour over port, stir briefly, and top with an ounce of Chilled Sparkling water. Garnish with Lemon Twist and Nutmeg.)

I’ve been annoying the wine clerk at Canyon Market this week, he keeps asking me what I need, hoping to make some swank and perceptive wine recommendation, and I say “Well, I need some Madeira for a 18th Century Drink I’m making.” Fortunately, they do have small, but decent, selection of fortified wines.

I had to explain the whole Sangaree thing, and he got it right away. “You mean something you could drink on your lunch our and your boss wouldn’t fire you?” Exactly. Just enough to take the edge off, but not enough to get much of a buzz.

Or, as David Wondrich remarked last night at the Cointreau event at the Boothby Center for Beverage Arts, “…They just didn’t have bottled soft drinks back then, and sometimes you’d want something a little milder than a cocktail.”

Anyway, I picked this Late Bottle Vintage Port, because I wanted a Port with enough “grip” to stand up to being diluted. So many of the modern Ruby Ports are being made in such a mild, sweet style, as to be nearly Sangarees without adding the extra water and sugar for dilution.

This Port Wine Sangaree and the Madeira Sangaree were definitely my favorites of the bunch. Give them a try some hot summer afternoon and tell me they are not great drinks.

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

Sherry Sangaree

Sherry Sangaree
Use small bar glass.
1 Wineglass of Sherry. (2 oz Solear Manzanilla Sherry)
1 Teaspoonful of Fine Sugar. (1 Teaspon Caster Sugar)
Fill tumbler 1/3 with ice, and grate nutmeg on top.

Sorry, was kind of grumpy looking in the video. I made it once, and didn’t realize the batteries on my camera had given out. Then realized the spare batteries weren’t charged, either. Ran around the house looking for actual AA Batteries, only to find those were all dead, too. Fortunately, by that time, the rechargeables had gotten enough charge to record the brief video.

Anyway, after writing the last post, I thought to myself, “Hey, Self, you should look this up in David Wondrich’s Imbibe!: From Absinthe Cocktail to Whiskey Smash, a Salute in Stories and Drinks to “Professor” Jerry Thomas, Pioneer of the American Bar. and see if he has anything to say about Sangarees.”

And, even though the Sangaree was an Old Fashioned drink by the time Jerry Thomas wrote his book, they are covered.

This is my favorite part of Mr. Wondrich’s writeup, “As longtime East Coast bartender Jere Sullivan recalled in 1930, ‘In the Author’s experience it was found principally the order of the elderly business man, after the counters were closed in the late afternoon.’ But not every drink has to play the classic American go-getter, all youth and drive and swagger. The Sangaree maintains a certain Old-World courtliness that has its appeal.”

Well, that and his comment, “Sangaree…was drunk in Britain by gentlemen and sea-captains and in America by infants, invalids, and Indians.”


Here’s Jerry Thomas’ version:

Sherry Sangaree.
(Use medium bar-glass.)
Take 1 claret glass of Sherry wine.
½ tea-spoonful of fine white sugar.
2 or 3 small lumps of ice.

Shake up well, strain into a small bar-glass, serve with a little grated nutmeg.

The one thing, I think that Thomas and the Savoy miss out on, is that the drink should be milder than just being shaken with ice. I mean look at the Miss Leslie version referenced in the Savoy Sangaree recipe, “2/3 Water, 1/3 Sherry”! That is a very mild drink. So, in both the Savoy Sangaree I made and this Sherry Sangaree, I’ve added about an ounce of Sparkling water to the 2 oz of fortified wine I’ve stirred briefly on a cube.

Maybe I’m heading towards “Elderly Business Man” status, myself, but I have to admit I quite enjoyed all the Sangarees I’ve made so far, including this one with Sherry.

The music is from a CD called “Moa Anbessa” by Dutch group The Ex and Ethiopian saxophonist Getatchew Mekuria.

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

Domain Name Change

I’ve moved the site to a new hosting service (Laughing Squid), and while I was at it, took the opportunity to move the website to a new URL.

The unwieldy is now gone and has been replaced by the shorter and punctuation free

Through the magic of Apache httpd Rewrite rules, Redirects, and .htaccess files, it appears the old links, and RSS feeds should continue to function.

I’ve also added a dedicated twitter ID for the site, so if you want site updates to show up in your twitter stream, follow SavoyStomp

Low Gap Old-Fashioned


06-04-2011, Low Gap Whiskey Old-Fashioned with Miracle Mile Forbidden Bitters.

2 oz Low Gap Clear Whiskey
1 tsp Caster Sugar
1 tsp Water
3 dash Miracle Mile Forbidden Bitters
Lemon Peel

Add sugar, water and bitters to the bottom of a heavy glass. Muddle until sugar is dissolved. Add cracked ice and pour in whiskey. Stir until well chilled. Squeeze lemon peel over glass and drop in.

A friend sent me this sample from a line of bitters he is working on, the Forbidden Bitters are designed to be an Old Fashioned style bitters in the vicinity of Abbott’s Bitters.

Well, what better to do with Old Fashioned style bitters than make an Old-Fashioned?

And a delicious Old-Fashioned it is!

Savoy Sangaree

Savoy Sangaree
1 Teaspoonful Powdered Sugar. (1 tsp Caster Sugar)
1 Glass of Sherry or Port. (2 oz Cossart and Gordon 5 Year Bual Madeira)
Stir well and strain into medium size glass, add slice of orange or lemon peel, and a little nutmeg on top. (Errr… Muddle Sugar in a like amount of water until dissolved. Add piece of ice, pour over Madeira. Stir until chilled and top with 1 oz Chilled Soda Water. Drape on Horse’s Neck of Orange and freshly grated nutmeg.

Well, that’s interesting, the fact that the Savoy bothers to list a branded version of the Sangaree! To me, that seems to indicate that it was still being made at the Hotel, or at least lingered in their bar book, by the time the Savoy Cocktail Book was written in 1930!

For this post, I’m going to lean a bit heavily on the shoulders of two of my inspirations in the cocktail writing field, Paul Clarke and Ted Haigh.

The History of Sangaree Cocktails, Ted Haigh, Imbibe Magazine

According to this article, the earliest mention of the Sangaree was around 1736 as some sort of Madeira punch served in the Strand District of London (adjacent to the Theaters and Savoy Hotel!) Well, if that was the earliest version, I believe that base is where I will start, especially since Port Wine and Sherry Sangarees are covered in the next two drinks.

However, a more interesting description comes in 1785, where someone describes an Arrack Punch as a Sangaree.

Certainly by 1785 the strange drink, now called sangaree, was thoroughly equated with the Antilles islands and with Spain. Several dictionaries now listed the word and pointed to the West Indies as its place of residence. It had also achieved a fuller definition and one obliging it more to punch than wine. The Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, published that year, wrote, “Sangaree: Rack punch was formerly so called in bagnios.” Well, a bagnio in this sense was a brothel, and the “rack” punch referred to the arrack that was the first of five elements in classic punch: arrack, citrus fruits, spices, cane sugar and water. The arrack in the dictionary was not the anise-tinged spirit of the Middle East but the father of modern rum, Batavia Arrack from the Antilles, Java specifically. Given this definition, the sangaree was a single-serving punch!

Well, not much to go on, but according to Ted, by 1837, recipes similar to the Sangaree had begun to appear in print as in, “Directions For Cookery In Its Various Branches” by a Miss Leslie, “Mix in a pitcher or in tumblers one-third of wine, ale or porter, with two-thirds of water either warm or cold. Stir in sufficient loaf-sugar to sweeten, and grate some nutmeg into it.”

Interesting really, that Wine, Ale or Porter can be used as a base for the Sangaree, but 2/3 water to 1/3 Wine, Ale or Porter? That’s some weak sauce to modern tastes, why on earth would you dilute beer, unless you were feeding invalids or children? In 1867, the Professor, Jerry Thomas is a bit more circumspect, prescribing that just about any base spirit may to be used as a base for a Sangaree, irrespective of that making it an identical recipe to his Slings. Well, due respect to Mr. Thomas, but that is just a bit Catholic of him.

As things go, I’m going to propose that the Sangaree be limited to non-spirituous bases: Wine, Fortified Wine, or, well, if you are feeling particularly perverse, beer. A little citrus peel won’t hurt anyone, or, as was the style of the 19th Century, maybe “berries, in season.” If you’re going to use distilled spirits, you might as well go ahead and call it a Sling (or Toddy).

The only thing I will further note, is that by 1867, when Jerry Thomas published his cocktail guide he offers one improvement over Ms. Leslie, using Ice to cool the drink, instead of water, and a fine, fine improvement that is, especially with a drink already somewhat dilute!

Port Wine Sangaree, Paul Clarke, Cocktail Chronicles

OK, at least half of the appeal of making this drink is the opportunity to say (or in this case, write) “Sangaree.” If you’re looking for a new way to get tossed out of a bar, you could do worse than making it a habit to stroll in, rap loudly on the bartop with your knuckles and shout, “Barman! A Port Wine SAN-GAREE, extra nutmeg, s’il vous plait — and keep ‘em comin’!”

And that’s why these men actually get paid to write articles!

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


At this point, none of these Shrub recipes really make sense to me, even enough to try making.

Things I know:

There are two things commonly called Shrub(b). One is fruit (typically citrus) infused booze. The fruit infused booze is sometimes spelled “Shrubb” and may be traditional in the Caribbean (or West Indies). The commercial example of this is Clement Creole Shrubb. The other Shrub is a flavored Syrup. Sometimes this flavored syrup has added vinegar, sometimes added booze. Presumably the booze or vinegar is added as a preservative, so the Shrub can be bottled for later use.

I guess the Rum Shrub below sounds vaguely like the process I’ve heard for the Caribbean (West Indian) Shrub(b), whole fruit aged with booze and sweetened.

The other recipes are interesting mostly for their complete lack of fermentation or vinegar, two things I had previously assumed to be necessary for the other style of Shrub. They basically seem like prepared cocktails, or flavored syrups.

I’m going to do some more research and attend an upcoming class that Jennifer Colliau and Aaron Gregory are giving at Cuesa.

CUESA & UKSF Class: Shrubs!Aaron Gregory Smith of 15 Romolo and the SF USBG! Thursday, June 23, 2011, 4:00 PM – 11:00 PM.

Hopefully, afterwards, Shrubs will make enough sense that I can get down with some Shrub related projects this summer.

I keep thinking a Rhubarb Shrub(b) might be fun…


Brandy Shrub
To the thin rinds of 2 Lemons and the juice of 5, add 2 quarts of Brandy; cover it for 3 days, then add a quart of Sherry and 2 pounds of loaf Sugar, run it through a jelly bag and bottle it.

Rum Shrub
Put 3 pints of Orange Juice and 1 pound of loaf Sugar to a gallon of Rum. Put all into a cask, and leave it for 6 weeks, when it will be ready for use.

Currant Shrub
1 Pint of Sugar.
1 Pint of Strained Currant Juice.
Boil it gently for eight or ten minutes, skimming it well; take if off and, when lukewarm, add half a gill of Brandy to every pint of Shrub. Bottle tight.

White Currant Shrub
Strip the fruit, and prepare in a jar, as for jelly; strain the juice, of which put two quarts to 1 gallon of Rum, and 2 pounds of Lump Sugar; strain through a jelly bag.

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