From the Savoy Cocktail Book:


The cobbler is, like the Julep, a drink of American origin, although it is now an established favourite, particularly in warm climes. It is very easy to make, but it is usual to make it acceptable to the eye, as well as the palate, by decorating the glass after the ingredients are mixed. The usual recipe for preparing Cobblers is given below. To make a Whisky Cobbler substitute Whisky for Gin, For a Brandy Cobbler, substitute Brandy, and so on.

Fill glass half full with cracked ice.
Add 1 Teaspoonful of Powdered Sugar.
Add 1 Small Glass of Gin (or Whisky, or Brandy, as above).
Stir well, and decorate with slices of orange or pineapple.

The above comes mostly verbatim from Jerry Thomas’ “Bartender’s Guide”.

The Cobbler was probably an old fashioned drink by the time Jerry Thomas got around to writing about it in 1862. He includes 7 variations in his 1862 book, basically all identical: Sherry Cobbler, Champagne Cobbler, Catawba Cobbler, Hock Cobbler, Claret Cobbler, Sauterne Cobbler, and Whiskey Cobbler.

98. Sherry Cobbler

(Use large bar glass.)

2 wine-glasses of sherry.
1 table-spoonful of sugar.
2 or 3 slices of orange.
Fill a tumbler with shaved ice, shake well, and ornament with berries in season. Place a straw as represented in the wood-cut.

I wasn’t really feeling the Sherry Cobbler and am unclear about if I could even find Hock or Catawba. Champagne seemed a little hackneyed and the Whiskey Cobbler like Thomas was throwing a bone to modern taste by including a Cobbler based on spirits instead of wine.

I thought about a Port Cobbler, which sounded nice, but my favorite old fashioned wine is Madeira. So, over my lunch hour, I dropped by to pay the lovely women of Cask Store a visit and scored a new bottle of Madeira.

Madeira Cobbler.
4 oz Blandy’s 10 Year Malmsey Madeira
1/4 oz Rich Simple Syrup

Half fill a mixing glass with cracked ice. Add Madeira and simple Syrup. Pour back and forth between mixing glass and serving glass a couple times, finishing in serving glass. Ornament with slices of orange and berries, in season. Serve with a straw.

In “Imbibe!: From Absinthe Cocktail to Whiskey Smash…” David Wondrich makes a couple notes regarding Cobblers in Imbibe, and I’ve been re-reading another couple things online. First off, it was one of the couple first American drinks to really make an impact on European and especially English drinkers. There are several references to Cobbler drinking in the works of authors as notable as Charles Dickens. Second, it was THE drink that introduced the straw to the world.

If there is a mistake that modern mixers make with the cobbler, it is that they make it too strong, either by using spirits in the drink, or by making it too concentrated with additional citrus juice or liqueurs and syrups. The Cobbler, like punch, is a sort of “session drink”. The Cobbler, especially, should be a light, refreshing, cold drink that you can enjoy at lunch on a hot day and still go about your business for the rest of the afternoon.

Americans, with our obsession with intense, strong flavors, often have a hard time wrapping our minds around the aesthetics of subtlety or mild flavors in drinks and food. One of the hardest lessons for us to learn is when to stop adding ingredients, flavors, and additional complexity to our beverages or dishes. We tend to say, “If it’s good, it’s better with bacon. If it’s better with bacon, it’s would be really awesome with cheese. If it’s good with bacon and cheese, it really could use some avocado to make it pop… Oh hell, just put some Foie Gras on it.”

If you are a bartender, or a drink mixer, the Cobbler is a pretty good place to start to teach yourself to appreciate austerity and simplicity, as long as you resist the temptation to add any additional ingredients. Save your creativity for the garnish.

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.

Overheard on MUNI

Overheard on the 22 Filmore MUNI Bus:

“I’m homeless right now. I was living in the occupy encampment, but my friend got stabbed the other day. He’s in the ICU at San Francisco General. I described the person who stabbed him to the police and the occupy people called me a snitch. They said they’d kill me if I came back.”



The ‘Smash’ is in effect a Julep on a small plan.

To prepare it the following recipe is usually used:

Use medium sized glass.
Dissolve 1 Lump of Sugar. Add 4 leaves of Green Mint, and crush Mint and sugar very lightly together. Place lump of ice in glass. Then add one small glass of either Bacardi Rum, Brandy, Gin, Irish Whisky or Scotch Whisky as fancy dictates. Decorate with a slice of Orange, and squeeze Lemon peel on top.

This recipe, and the quote regarding the “Julep on a small plan,” come almost verbatim from Jerry Thomas’ Bartender’s Guide, going back to the original 1862 version of the book.

As is usual with these 19th Century cocktails, before making the Savoy version of the drink I first consulted David Wondrich’s “Imbibe!: From Absinthe Cocktail to Whiskey Smash…” where he notes:

“Thomas’s cursory assessment of the drink leaves one with insufficient appreciation of its importance. From its first appearance in the mid-1840s until after the Civil War, the Smash was just about the most popular thing going. In the 1850s, at the height of the Smash’s popularity, all the “pert young men,” the Broadway dandies, San Francisco swells, and junior New Orleans grandissimes, seemed to spend the warm months of the year with a smash glued to one hand and a “segar” to the other.”

However, to me what was more interesting was the illustration which accompanies the writeup, a picture of the “Fancy Brandy Smash” from Harry Johnson’s 1888 edition of his “New and Improved Illustrated Bartender’s Manual”.

One of the cool things about many of the illustrations from Mr. Johnson’s book is he gives you two pictures, one of the preparation of the drink and another of the serving glass. Looking at his illustration, though, I realized it looked like he was serving his “Fancy Brandy Smash” as an “up” Cocktail.

Fancy Brandy Smash.
(Use a large bar glass.)
1/2 tabelspoonful of sugar;
1/2 wine glass of water or selters;
3 or 4 sprigs of fresh mint; dissolve well;
1/2 glass of shaved ice;
1 wine glass of brandy (Martell);

Stir up well with a spoon, strain it into a fancy bar glass, and ornament it with a little fruit in season, and serve. (See illustration, plate No. 9.)

And indeed, his instructions here are clear, the “Fancy Brandy Smash” is not served over ice.

However, going through the book a bit further, I discovered he also had a recipe for an “Old Style Whiskey Smash”.

Old Style Whiskey Smash.
(Use an extra large whiskey glass.)
1/4 tablespoonful of sugar;
1/2 wineglass of water;
3 or 4 sprigs of mint, dissolve well, in in order to get the essence of the mint;
Fill the glass with small pieces of ice;
1 wine glass of whiskey;
Put in fruit in season, mix well, place the strainer in the glass and serve.

So the “Fancy” version of the drink gets strained into another glass, while with the “Old Style” version of the drink, the guest is simply served the drink with a julep strainer in the glass!

Well, as a moderist, I will choose to make the “Fancy” version of the drink!

Fancy Brandy Smash.
(Use a large bar glass.)
generous 1/4 oz Small Hand Foods Gum Syrup;
3 or 4 sprigs of fresh mint; dissolve well;
1/2 glass of finely cracked ice;
2 oz brandy (Artez Folle Blanche Armagnac);

Stir up well with a spoon, strain it into a fancy bar glass, and ornament it with a little fruit in season, and serve.

Well, I have to say that does have a certain simple charm! Not only that, but you don’t have to contend with the ice when you swilling the drink. I could understand why this would be a more modern, let’s get down to drinking, kind of version of the drink.

However, if you order a “Whiskey Smash” today, the one you are most likely to be served has lemon in addition to the mint. This version of the drink was popularized by Dale DeGroff at the bars he ran in NY and in his book, “The Craft of the Cocktail”. According to Mr. DeGroff, he never really understood the appeal of the Julep, so he started adding muddled lemon slices in with the mint in the Smash, sort of crossing the Smash with the Fix.

DeGroff Whiskey Smash

2 lemon pieces
2 to 3 mint leaves
3/4 oz Simple Syrup
1 1/2 oz Maker’s Mark Bourbon
1 oz of water
Sprig of fresh mint

Muddle the lemon, mint leaves, water, and Simple Syrup in the bottle of a mixing glass. Add the bourbon and shake. Strain into an old-fashioned glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with the mint sprig.

Personally, I hate muddling fruit. Especially, since I’ve already got lemon juice, muddling fruit is just messy. Gets your sink full of cloggy fruit pulp. The mint is bad enough.

So how about this little solution?

Fixed Modern Brandy Smash

Peel 1/2 Lemon;
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar;
Splash Water;
2 oz Spirit of Choice, I used the Artez Folle Blanch Armagnac above.
Juice 1/2 Lemon;
1/2 teaspoon Small Hand Foods Gum Syrup;
3 or 4 leaves mint;
Mint Sprigs for garnish;

Muddle lemon peel and granulated sugar in a heavy glass until fragrant. Splash in some water and continue muddling until sugar is dissolved. Fill with finely cracked ice. In a mixing tin, combine lemon juice, brandy, mint leaves, and gum syrup. Shake with ice and strain into iced glass. Stir to combine, garnish with mint sprig and serve.

You get the aromatics from the peel in the drink without the bitterness of the pith. Not bad at all!

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.

10 Mistakes that Could Doom Your Career as an IT Pro

10 Mistakes that Could Doom Your Career as an IT Pro
Randy Muller, MCT, MCTS, MCSE, CEH

“10. Lack of Soft/People Skills.

“A mistake many IT Professionals make is to assume that their IT skills will see to their advancement and not their Soft or People skills. We all know of an IT Pro who is fantastic at their job – one who can write code faster than you make a martini. But there are times when it is the Martini maker who is advanced ahead of the programmer. This is due to soft skills. IT Pros who can talk in non-geek speak and who can interact with end users and customers who will be in demand. If you want to move into the C-level rank, you need to get involved in other areas that will emphasis your people skills in addition to your techie skills.”

As a Martini maker and IT Pro, I am not sure how I feel about this comment…

Also, does the converse apply?

Tough Week

Oof, what a tough week. Sick with a sinus infection, Mrs. Flannestad out of town for a conference.

Came home after a night at the bar to find the dog had been sick in his crate while I was away, and remained sick pretty much all night and into the morning.

Felt so bad to leave him the second night and worried that he would be OK.

He was sick again when I got back we were both up again for a second night and into the morning.

Worried that he had gotten some parasite, called the vet, collected a fecal sample to drop off, then realized, out of all the variables in what he had eaten, it was probably the “treat” I had given him before heading to work both nights. They must have gone off since the last time I had given him one.

How bad do I feel for making him sick?

So, no Savoy Cocktails this week.

Barely kept it together, as is, was.

Mrs. Flannestad gets back today, dog and I are both feeling better.

It’s looking like a bright, sunny, California day.

Southern Mint Julep

Southern Mint Julep
4 Sprigs Fresh Mint.
1/2 Tablespoonful Powdered Sugar.
1 Glass of Bourbon, Rye, or Canadian Club Whisky.

Use long tumbler and crush the Mint leaves and dissolved sugar lightly together, add Spirits and fill glass with cracked ice; stir gently until glass is frosted. Decorate on top with 3 Sprigs of Mint.

Everyone seems to have an opinion about the proper way to make a Mint Julep. From mint flavored simple syrup to mint infused Bourbon, there are 1001 ways to skin this cat.

Even among the more basic recipes, as with the Mojito, there is disagreement about how crushed, or muddled, the mint leaves should be. Some people muddle the mint up into a paste, others leave the leaves more intact.

Interestingly, Issue 3 of McSweeney’s Lucky Peach magazine has an article by food science guru Harold McGee called, “On Handling Herbs”, in which he talks about how to get the best flavor out of herbs when using them in cooking.

One of the first things he notes is, “Ripe fruits are delicious as is, because the parent plant has evolved to encourage animals to eat them and spread their seeds far and wide. Herbs and spices can make foods delicious, but they’re usually not delicious in themselves, because plants don’t want animals to chew up their leaves and seeds and roots…most herb and spice flavors are actually chemical weapons.”

He goes on to say, “How you handle herbs can also affect their flavor. The defensive chemicals responsible for plant flavors are usually concentrated in fine, hairlike glands on leaf surfaces (the mint family, including basil, oregano, sage, shiso, and thyme) or in special canals within the leaves (most other herbs). If you leave the herbs pretty much intact, what you get is mainly the characteristic flavor of that herb. But if you crush the herb, or cut it very finely, you damage a lot of cells and cause the release of the green, grassy, vegetal defensive chemicals.”

I’ve known this anecdotally, but never had it explained quite so clearly. If you muddle the mint in your Mojito or Julep, it tastes grassy and bitter. If you handle the mint gently, you get light, clear, mint flavor and scent.

To me, this argues against truly “crushing”, “pulverizing”, or “muddling” the mint (or other herbs) in any drink.

To make a mint Julep these are my usual instructions:

Mint Julep

4 fresh and lively sprigs mint (there is nothing sadder than a julep made with wilted mint)
1/4 oz Simple Syrup (generous 1/4 oz Small Hand Foods Gum Syrup)
2 oz Bourbon and a little extra for garnish (2+ oz Old Forester Birthday Bourbon, bottled 2003)
Fine Ice

METHOD: Strip the leaves from the lower stems of the mint and place in julep cup. Reserve upper sprigs for garnish. Pour in your simple syrup and use a spoon or muddler to gently rub the mint and syrup up and down the sides of the cup. Add Bourbon and ice to fill half way up the cup. Vigorously mix together mint leaves, syrup, bourbon, and ice. Top up with more fine ice and sprinkle a little extra bourbon over ice. Slap the reserved sprigs against your palm, form into a bunch, and insert into ice. Poke straws in ice near the mint sprigs, serve, and inhale.

Also, if you aren’t reading Lucky Peach, you really should be. For my money, it’s the best writing about food, cooking, and working in restaurants that you can currently find. If you have to, cancel your cable subscription to the Food Network, and subscribe to Lucky Peach instead.

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.

Pineapple Julep

Pineapple Julep
(6 People)
Take a large glass jug and fill it 1/4 full of crushed ice. Pour in the juice of two oranges, a glass of Raspberry Vinegar, a glass of Maraschino, a glass and a half of Gin, and a bottle of Sparkling Moselle or Saumur. Pull a pineapple to pieces with a silver fork and place the pieces in the jug. Stir the mixture, add a little fruit for appearances’s sake, and serve.

The Pineapple Julep has always been a drink that has intrigued me. Why is it a Julep? What on earth is that Raspberry Vinegar doing in there? I didn’t think people started adding vinegar to drinks until the 21st Century! Not to mention, what’s that business with pulling a pineapple to pieces with a “silver fork”?

Since it is my suspicion that many of the older drinks came from some edition of Jerry Thomas’ “Bon Vivant’s Companion”, I thought I would check for the recipe there and see how it compares:

92. Pineapple Julep

Peel, slice, and cut up a ripe pineapple into a glass bowl, add the juice of two oranges, a gill of raspberry syrup, a gill of Maraschino, a gill of old gin, a bottle of sparkling Moselle, and about a pound of pure ice in shaves; mix, ornament with berries in season, and serve in flat glasses.

Uh, whoops, that’s quite a bit different, even if it contains most of the same elements. The biggest difference, being the Savoy’s change from “Raspberry Syrup” to “Raspberry Vinegar”. Bizarre. Typo? Intentional change?

Regarding the Sparkling Moselle in the Julep, I did some searching on the Internets and discovered that the Moselle is a region along the Mosel River in France and Germany. Sparkling wines are, or were, produced in both France (Crémant de Luxembourg) and Germany (Mosel Sekt).

Not sure which to look for a sent a quick note to Heaven’s Dog’s Wine Director, Gus Vahlkamp.

Erik: Gus, If a punch recipe from 1862 called for “Sparkling Moselle”, what
modern wine would you recommend?

Gus: Hi Erik, nice to hear from you. Yes, sekt is your best bet, although most of it comes from the Rheingau these days and not so much from Mosel. Solter is probably the easiest producer to find in SF, but I would check either at Ferry Plaza Wine Merchants or K&L for others. Also I’d imagine that 19th century sekt was probably a little sweeter than the majority of most modern products. I hope that helps. Cheers, Gus.

Well, I never mind a trip to K&L Wines, where I found a single Sekt from the Rheingau, Latitude 50 N Sekt Trocken Weiss, described as follows:

This Methode Champenoise sparkler is made from a combination of pinot blanc, muller-thurgau and silvaner. It is dry, bright and made for food, especially oysters, and this would be just the ideal sparkler to usher in a brand new 2012.

Sparkling German Wine in hand, the only thing which remained to reproduce the original Pineapple Julep Recipe was Raspberry Syrup.

I really liked the Raspberry Syrup I made for the Albemarle Fizz, so I searched the site for the recipe and whipped up another batch:

Raspberry Syrup
1/2 cup Water
1 Cup Washed Raw Sugar
1 Cup Frozen Raspberries
1 Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar

Combine water and sugar in a saucepan over low heat. When sugar is dissolved, add raspberries and Balsamic Vinegar. Strain through chinois or cheesecloth, mashing to get as much of the liquid as possible. Cool and refrigerate. Makes about 12 ounces.

Regarding the amounts in the Jerry Thomas recipe, a “Gill” is about 4 ounces. Not sure whether Mrs. Flannestad would be up to split the Julep, I decided to make a half batch.

Lastly, depending on the wine you use and the level of sweetness in your ingredients, you may find the Julep comes out too sweet for modern tastes. I know I did, and found it significantly improved with the addition of the juice of 1/2 Lemon.

Pineapple Julep
1/2 Pineapple, peeled and chopped
2 oz Bols Aged Genever
2 oz Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
2 oz Raspberry Syrup
Juice 1 Orange
Juice 1/2 Lemon
1/2 Bottle Sparkling Wine

METHOD: Combine Pineapple, Gin, Liqueur, Raspberry Syrup, and Juice in a bowl. Fill half way with crushed ice and top with Sparkling Wine. Stir gently, garnish with berries in season, and ladle into appropriate glassware.

My coworkers and I have occasionally joked, with the horrible ingredients that are often mixed up and sold as “nutcracker” or “crunk juice”, we should get together and bottle a high quality equivalent.

Tasting the Pineapple Julep, I believe I have a starting place for that endeavor! Alize and X Rated Fusion look out, this is some exotically tasty and easy sipping beverage! Pineapple Juleps for all my friends!

Bonus Beer of the Week! Some of my favorite Belgian Beers are actually the less strong ones. Designed to be drunk during the day by the Monks, these are tasty examples of the Belgian style, without so much alcohol.

The Witkap Pater Singel, now called “Stimulo” is one of my favorites.

Witkap·Pater Stimulo (Alc. 6% vol.) is a refreshing gold-colored beer of high fermentation and with fermentation on the bottle – thus a living beer with evolving taste. Pored with care you get a rich, white and stable foam collar with a creamy structure and sticking to the glass. You can smell the aromatic hop flowers of Erembodegem near Aalst (Belgium), a local natural product. You can also smell a strong ferment typically for the Witkap-Pater. Their are no other taste-makers used. During degustation you get a taste sensation starting with a soft mouth filling taste, passing in the a refreshing taste and ending with a tasty hop-bitter after taste.


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.