The moment I first tasted a Sazerac something inside clicked and I knew nothing would ever be the same. Even though several years have passed, I know exactly where I was and the circumstances. It is the same for many people. The Sazerac just does that to people.

On a Christmas Eve many years ago, when I was just starting to delve into all things cocktail, Tracy's dad was telling me about a magical drink he had consumed once upon a time in New Orleans. In his tale, a bartender expertly flipped Herbsaint into the air to coat a cocktail glass before adding the brilliant pink-tinged whiskey. Such a presentation certainly influenced him, as I am sure it did many others. The bottle of Herbsaint now residing in his liquor cabinet is a testament to the drink's impression. That is how I first heard of the Sazerac. But there is more—with classic cocktails there is always more.

A myth proclaims the Sazerac the very first cocktail, though this is not true. However, though the Sazerac was popularized sometime in the 1850s in New Orleans, it is actually a variation of the original cocktail, now known as the Old Fashioned, consisting of a spirit, bitters, sugar, and some water (usually as ice). The early Sazerac (cognac, sugar, Peychaud's bitters), notably without the absinthe rinse, firmly fits into this category. The bitters made it unique. Antoine Amedie Peychaud, Sr. brought his secret family recipe for the bitters with him when he fled Haiti. But it was his son, Antoine Amedie Peychaud, Jr., who made them famous. By the late 1830s, Peychaud was producing his bitters just down the street from what would become the Sazerac Coffee House, where the house cocktail was the Sazerac, thus named because it used Sazerac-de-Forge et Fils cognac.

In the 1870s when the phylloxxera epidemic essentially wiped out the vineyards in Europe, cognac became hard to find. Americans' tastes were forced to change to the local, more readily available rye, and so it became the base of a Sazerac. As absinthe became more fashionable, the absinthe rinse was introduced. When absinthe became illegal in 1915, pastis was used as a substitute. But after Prohibition, a new anise-flavored spirit Herbsaint, created and manufactured by New Orleans natives, became a key ingredient.

Of course I knew nothing about the cocktail's long history as I prepared for our next visit to Tracy's parents' house. I came equipped with a recipe and a fresh bottle of Peychaud's bitters and Sazeracs were on the menu (although, I had no plans to toss Herbsaint in the air). If you have no idea what you are doing, Sazeracs are quite complicated. With my cocktail glasses packed with ice, I remember muddling the bitters and sugar with the back of a butter knife. Then I added Bourbon, probably Maker's Mark of all things, and ice. I stirred and strained this into my Herbsaint-rinsed martini glasses and inexpertly broke several lemon twists before plopping them in. I can hear the purists cringing at my beginner's mistakes, which were many. But there is a lesson
here . . . even though I made a barely recognizable Sazerac, it was still the best thing I had ever tasted.

Now, looking back on those early days in home bartending, I have to smile. We all have to start somewhere, and I know that the importance lies on whether what ends up in the glass tastes good. I am no purist. I believe that a recipe can change, that substitutions are sometimes necessary, and that expensive booze isn't always the best way to solve a problem. But there are some things that just taste better the old way, and taste is everything. And the truth is, at least in our house, rye is better than bourbon, syrup is easier than sugar, and if you want more lemon oils in your drink, throw that twist in. And the glass, well if it is clean, use it. But if it's not pretty, don't take a picture.


2 ounces quality rye
1/2 ounce simple syrup
2-4 dashes Peychaud's bitters

In a mixing glass, stir rye, syrup and bitters. Rinse a chilled whiskey glass, or rocks glass, with Herbsaint and add rye-syrup-bitters mixture. Express the oils from a strip of lemon peel over the drink and coat the rim. Lose the twist.

Notes on Ingredients: I used Templeton Rye and Herbsaint Legendre.


The Ups and Downs of Champagne

 Half-opened bottles of champagne are a joy and a curse. I am not afraid to say it. It all begins innocently enough. First some cocktail recipe sparks your interest, and the next thing you know you are mentally rearranging your refrigerator to accommodate a bottle of bubbly. For me, it was the Jaguar, a tiki drink created in Seattle in 1955. This drink stands out because it uses so many unusual ingredients and one of them is champagne. Now maybe you are thinking: Is she crazy? Tiki drinks usually include at least three ounces of rum (or other equally potent things), and combining that with a champagne top is madness. And you are right, it is madness. Glorious tasty madness. So, there I am in the middle of the wine/beer aisle at my local PCC, the teardrop bottle enclosed with its festive foil calling to me, and I swear I can hear the pop of the cork in the distance. But alas . . . they don't have any half bottles (or at least not in my price range) and all I need is a champagne top. Could I go to another store, hunt down a half-bottle of sparkly? Sure, but I won't. I leave the store with a 750 of champagne and a skip in my step, my mind full of tiki. All is good.

adapted Jaguar

1 ounce lime juice
2 ounces dark Jamaican rum
2 ounce champagne
1/4 ounce brandy
1/4 ounce orgeat syrup
1/4 ounce simple syrup
1 teaspoon sloe gin
1 teaspoon Cointreau
1 teaspoon creme de cacao
1 teaspoon port
1 teaspoon sweet vermouth

Pour all ingredients, except champagne, into a tall frosted glass packed with crushed ice. Stir to chill. Add champagne. Garnish elaborately in tiki manner. 

But then tiki night has passed. The tiki mugs have been returned to their place in the cabinet The ice crusher is stashed back on the shelf. But the champagne sits forlorn in the refrigerator door jammed in next to vermouths and syrups, a champagne saver strapped to its top and only four ounces missing. I feel guilty every time I need jam or butter, or even water, seeing it there steadily losing flavor, and, well, sparkle. Such a curse is the already opened bottle of champagne!

The race is on, can I use it before it gets flat and loses all flavor. Some people would just drink it. But not in our house. A open bottle of champagne holds endless amounts of possibility—we don't just stock bubbly for rainy days (though considering how many rainy days we do have, that would be wonderful). All week I plot, keeping my fingers crossed that I actually got that top on tight enough, that maybe there will still be some bubbles left. So many options: Morning Glory, French 75, Seelbach, Airmail, Old Cuban, Sazerac Royale. and that is just off the top of my head. 

With plans to go out on Friday, we will have to kill the bottle while we are home on Saturday night. The Seelbach has won out. But there is still half a bottle left after. The race begins again: reseal, refrigerate, cross those fingers. And then I came across this:

adapted Mexican 75

1 ounce tequila (reposado)
1/2 ounce lime juice
1/2 ounce agave nectar

Shake ingredients in an ice-filled shaker. Strain into a chilled champagne flute. Top with 4 ounce of champagne and add a lime twist.

Notes on Ingredients: The original recipe calls for blanco tequila, I used Milagro reposado instead.

I had never had tequila with champagne before. So I commandeered Tracy's cocktail-making night; it seemed the reasonable thing to do.

The smell of agave and lime dominated the aroma. The first taste was dry and though there are four ounces of champagne the tequila's warm earthy spices were able to shine through. As the drink warmed up the lime juice became more apparent and added a nice brightness. The aging of the reposado brought certain caramel notes to the drink that worked really well to make the agave nectar shine. Using a blanco in this drink is like using a blanco in a margarita, it keeps the drink refreshing and light, perfect for summer. But with the addition of the reposado, and its fuller flavor, the drink became more robust and would stand up to even a colder night. The drink was a very nice, simple combination of sour and sweet, dry and herbal, but it will never replace a French 75, which is one of my favorite drinks. This would be a wonderful variation for a someone who doesn't like gin, or who alternatively is kind of wary of tequila. But all in all, it certainly took care of that champagne.


Ode to Bitters: Epilogue

Long before I ever dreamed of plunging into the world of heavily bittered cocktails, and having my mind and taste buds thoroughly challenged to boot, there was the Seelbach. I guess it has been inevitable since that day when Tracy and I sauntered into Vessel shortly after it first opened, now years ago, and I watched as the waitress placed before me a glass of bubbling dark pink goodness. I was hooked, and we have been making Seelbachs ever since. It is a house favorite, as we always have the ingredients on hand, except for the bubbly. Usually Seelbachs get trotted out when there is an open bottle of champagne in the house that needs to be polished off. I also enjoy introducing it to people who like champagne cocktails. Bubbles make everything so festive and fun, but the bitters add a dimension, and albeit a seriousness, that most people don't expect. It can be an eye-opener, and I don't mean in a corpse reviver mode, though it would work that way too.

As with all great classic cocktails, there must be a legend. The drink was named for and created at the Seelbach Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky in 1917. According to legend, a bartender was preparing two drinks at once: an Old Fashioned and some champagne. Side note: The substitution of triple sec for the sugar (or simple syrup) in the recipe for a Seelbach leads me to believe he was making a fancy whiskey cocktail, but that is neither here nor there. When the bartender pops the champagne, it simply explodes going everywhere . . . including in the Old Fashioned. Said bartender puts the mess aside and quickly fixes up another Old Fashioned for his customer, probably with any number of good curse words mumbled under his breath. As he starts to clean up, like any curious person, he takes a swig of that ruined Old Fashioned with the champagne and, as they say, the rest is history.

Now Prohibition must enter the story, as it usually does when it comes to anything good that existed before 1920. The Seelbach recipe was lost in those dark times, as were a great many other things, during the Noble Experiment. In 1995 the recipe was rediscovered by the hotel manager and now we all can enjoy it.

adapted Seelbach Cocktail

1 ounce bourbon
1/2 ounce triple sec
7 dashes Angostura bitters
7 dashes Peychaud's bitters

Pour ingredients into a chilled champagne flute. Top with champagne (4 to 5 ounces, to taste) . Give it a little stir. Garnish with a long piece of orange peel (optional).

Notes on ingredients: I used Basil Hayden's Bourbon.

This is a wonderful combination of bitters and champagne with a hint of bourbon and orange. The drink's beautiful pink color, a side effect of the Peychaud's bitters, glints in the sun as the bubbles rise. Overall, it is very dry and refreshing, with just the right amount of sweetness and complexity. This is a perfect drink to enjoy out on the porch before dinner while gazing out as the sun slides behind the mountains to the west. It is also good in the dead of winter when you just want to huddle down under a blanket and forget whatever is going on outside.


Tequila and Fernet in the Same Glass

Earlier this summer I started exploring the realm of tequila cocktails that include nontraditional ingredients. Since then I have started seeking out other cocktails that push the boundaries of what tequila can do in the glass. Fortunately for my taste buds, many bartenders have been pushing these boundaries as well, giving me a lot to be excited about. But there are only so many cocktails a girl can put away in one night, so this is the first one I have really been able to try since my earlier tequila escapades.

Guadalahara (as adapted)

2 ounces tequila (reposado)
1/2 ounce Fernet Branca
1/2 ounce agave syrup
2 dashes Bitter Truth Xocolatl bitters

Stir the ingredients in an ice-filled mixing glass. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Twist a bit of grapefruit over the drink, releasing the oils. Dispose of the spent peel.

Notes on ingredients: I used Milagro tequila, and a 1:1 agave syrup. A chilled double old-fashioned glass would also work well as it is a sort of an amped up tequila old fashioned variation.

When I first saw this recipe the first thing I thought was: Tequila and Fernet . . . in the same glass . . . no fucking way! With my nose hovering over the glass, the smell of agave and the menthol notes of the fernet wafted up to meet me. Though I could see the citrus oils on the top of the liquid, only the faintest hint of grapefruit came through. Perhaps next time—and there will be one—I will use either a bigger peel or some grapefruit bitters. The tequila came through first on the sip, followed by slightly bitter herbal notes of the fernet. The drink was nicely balanced between the two heavy hitters, and the agave syrup provided a mellow sweetness to the drink overall. The bitters were more apparent at the end of the sip, providing a spicy warmth to the other flavors. As the drink warmed up and my mouth became more accustomed to the fernet, the drink took on a rich honey-like cactus flavor.

This crazy combination is the brainchild of Misty Kalkofen, bartender extraordinaire, of the legendary bar Drink in the Fort Point area of Boston. On our recent trip back East, we were fortunate enough to visit Drink and we had an amazing time. And just to note, they do live up to the hype.


Ode to Bitters: Stormy Mai-Tai

I have emptied three bottles of Angostura bitters during this summer alone! We once had a bottle of Angostura last us a couple of years when we lived in NYC. Now that we drink so many classic cocktails, we definitely go through Angostura faster, but it can still take a year to get through a bottle. Partially that is due to the sheer number of bitters that we own—so many options. On Saturday night, as I was collecting ingredients, I noticed that my bitters bottle was only half full. So, off I went on an impromptu jaunt to the local market for bitters. Tracy didn't even think a little market would have them. But there they were next to the Rose's Lime and bottled margarita mix.I think I am the only person who brings a photo ID to buy bitters. But since Angostura has a higher proof than most vodkas, you never know. Of course most people don't realize this.  Alas, the cashier didn't either and I didn't get carded.

Stormy Mai-Tai

1 1/2 ounce Angostura bitters
3/4 ounce orgeat syrup
1/4 ounce curacao
1 ounce lime juice

Preshake. Pour in to a double rocks glass and top with crushed ice. Swizzle lightly. Float light rum. Garnish with a mint sprig.

Notes on Ingredients: Plan ahead: if you are making two drinks you will use 3/4 of a bottle of Angostura. I used a 1/2-ounce float of Cruzan white rum. As we had no mint, I skipped it. Also I  substituted triple sec for the curacao.

Of all the ingredients, the rum is the most readily detectable when nosing this embittered tipple. This makes sense since it was right under my nose, being a float after all. It makes a very subtle clear rim that contrasts with the bright rusty redness underneath, though you can't tell in the picture. The smell of bitters was also apparent. But then again, I would be surprised if they weren't detectable. When sipping I first tasted the light rum, the nice lightness before falling through the citrus into the depths of cinnamon, allspice, cloves. Each sip began with the brightness of citrus coupled with a hint of almond. The end was equally the same: the complex, spicy bitters, with their unique dryness, though here for the first time, a sort of sharpness that wasn't at all unpleasant. The complexity definitely meant that this was a drink to be sipped. Weighing in at around 89 proof, the Angostura worked well as a base spirit over crushed ice. The higher proof means that Angostura can stand up to the dilution better than a lower proof spirit would. And true to form, this drink retained its strong flavor and depth even as the night wore on and the ice melted. (I am sure that the extreme flavor of the bitters contributed to this as much as the proof.) All in all this drink was very refreshing and complex with a lot of substance in each sip. It completely highlights what a heavily bittered cocktail is all about.

Now that we are at the end of our tribute to bitters, we must have a recap. What have we learned, besides the fact that heavily bittered cocktails are yummy? One thing we noticed was that heavily bittered cocktails have a unique texture. They are smoother and thicker than most cocktails but in a totally new way. Egg whites or jam when added to a cocktail also create a smooth, thick texture, but the mouth feel of a heavily bittered cocktail is quite different. These cocktails are not velvety smooth, and luscious, but instead they start off smooth and thick, and then, because of the bitters, they immediately become dry and astringent, like when you drink a wine that has a lot of tannins. These cocktails are very complex and the flavors are layered. By using such a hefty amount in an environment tempered with water, citrus, and a sweetener, the full taste of the bitters can really be appreciated. We also noted that all of these cocktails were quite foamy, as if half of an egg white had been added. Conclusions aside, what fun we have had pushing our expectations and boundaries and tasting something new and different. For me, at least, that is part of the joy of drinking cocktails.


Kraken and the Cable Car

I am not usually a fan of spiced rum. Let's get that out of the way. It took me almost three years to get rid of a bottle of Captain Morgan's that I bought because it was an ingredient in the Pearanha from The Art of the Bar (a great cocktail, btw). Surprise, I didn't replace it. I also have a bottle of Rogue Hazelnut Spiced Rum, which is actually quite brilliant, but very underappreciated, both in general and in my own house. The problem I have with spiced rum is that there aren't a lot of cocktail recipes that call for it. Wait, let me rephrase—there aren't a lot of recipes that call for it that I would actually want to drink. And because of this, it sits in my liquor cabinet gathering dust.

Last week a friend of mine presented me with half a bottle of Kraken Black Spiced Rum. I'll admit to being dubious given my hit or miss history with spiced rums. Of course, I accepted the bottle. But the more pressing issue became, well, what do I do with it? I figured I could put it in a highball with ginger beer and a bit of lime. And it might be okay in a Corn 'n' Oil, which doesn't really call for spiced rum. But then I remembered the Cable Car. The Cable Car was created in 1996 by Tony Abou-Ganim when he was at the Starlight Room atop the Sir Francis Drake Hotel in San Francisco. Now that is one wonderful drink that specifically calls for spiced rum. It is a Sidecar variation with the addition of a cinnamon-sugar rim.

Cable Car

1 1/2 ounces spiced rum (Kraken)
3/4 ounce cointreau
1 ounce lemon juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup
Add ingredients to an ice-filled shaker. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass with a cinnamon-sugar rim. Garnish with an orange twist.

The aroma is full of the orange and cinnamon. The initial taste is dominated by the cinnamon-sugar rim, followed closely by the lemon flavors. On a second taste, it is apparent that the citrus is adding a nice brightness against the sweetness of the orange liqueur. The warm vanilla and cinnamon spices of the rum fill out the rest of the drink with the bold molasses notes of the dark rum acting as the foundation. I also detected hints of cinnamon that  lingered pleasantly between sips.

I think that the Kraken is successful here because its deep molasses flavor really stands out against the citrus. When I made this drink with Captain Morgan's, although I could detect the spices, I could barely taste the rum. Tracy and I decided that even though the Kraken makes a very yummy Cable Car, the Hazelnut Spiced Rum from Rogue Spirits is still our favorite. But, because of its good showing here, a Corn 'n' Oil with Kraken seems imminent—especially once my homemade falernum is finished.


Grand Street

Recently, Tracy and I were on vacation in NYC and we went to Death and Company. It was a night to remember, and one of the fabulous cocktails I had was called a Grand Street. I knew as soon as I saw it on the menu that I had to order it. Gin, Punt e Mes, Cynar and maraschino—a whole lot of my favorite things all in one glass. But as the night wore on, and more drinks were ordered and relished, I forgot to ask about proportions. This is especially sad because after all, I was sitting at the bar, chatting with the bartender, and she was really nice. So now weeks later, I am home, wishing I could have a Grand Street. And the search begins.

Well, let me tell you, dear reader, the recipe is not on the Internet—I checked. I could throw my hands up and say, oh well and move onto something that would be reminiscent, like a Hoskins or a Fin de Siecle. So I thought to myself, I have all of the ingredients, why not try to figure it out . . . it might even be fun. Staring at the ingredient list, I began looking for any similarities with the classic cocktails I am familiar with. A lot of contemporary cocktails start as riffs on classics. And lo and behold a lightbulb went off, I saw spirit, vermouth, amaro, and liqueur. You see, my favorite cocktail is the Brooklyn: rye, dry vermouth, amer picon, maraschino. I at least had a place to start.

Brooklyn Cocktail (adapted) 

2 ounces rye
3/4 ounce dry vermouth
1/4 Amer Boudreau
1/4 ounce maraschino

Stir ingredients in an ice-filled mixing glass. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

So here is what I came up with for my interpretation of the Grand Street:

Drink Inspired by the Grand Street

2 ounces gin
3/4 ounce Punt e Mes
1/4 ounce Cynar
1/4 ounce maraschino liqueur

Stir ingredients in an ice-filled mixing glass. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a grapefruit twist.

Notes on ingredients/method: I used Bellringer gin, though any London dry would work.  Plymouth would also work well. I used the Maraska maraschino as that is what I had on hand.

The grapefruit was very strong in the aroma, as it should be with all of those oils glittering on the surface. Underneath, I could just make out the bittersweet fragrance of the Cynar and the Punt e Mes.  With the grapefruit still lingering in my nose, I dove in to find, in addition to the grapefruit, the dry juniper flavors of the gin mingling with the richness of the Cynar and Punt e Mes. There were definitely a lot of herbal elements floating around in there. The strength of the other ingredients tempered the funky cherry sweetness of the maraschino and rounded out the flavors. The bittersweet flavors of the herbs and the dryness of the gin lingered long after each swallow. In combination, the slightly bitter sweet vermouth, the slight sweet amaro, the dry gin and sweet maraschino all seemed to balance one another in a very complex way. The grapefruit twist provides just enough brightness, to the eye, nose and mouth,  to make drink really sing. 

Now, I am not quite sure that I have re-created the Grand Street as it is at Death and Company. But I am happy to have created something very nice that was inspired by something equally very nice.


Ode to Bitters: Don's Little Bitter

Since we began our ode I have found that is nigh impossible to gather up the courage to indulge oneself in more than one heavily bittered drink in a weekend. This lack of fortitude has led a July full of heavily bittered drinks, tiki drinks--which I only make during the summer, though for the life of me I can't remember why--and any odds and ends that happen to strike my fancy, usually consisting primarily of rum or tequila, or mezcal, or cachaca, or pisco, or gin, or rye--though much less gin or rye than in the winter. I can't say this is a bad thing. But that has meant that this little series of posts that might have occurred over one or two weekends has spanned the entire month. I am not really complaining. We certainly don't get bored.

Don's Little Bitter was created by Don Lee, formerly of PDT (Please Don't Tell), who now works his magic at Momofuku Ssam Bar also in NYC. This drink is a curious little bitter monster with three types of cocktail bitters weighing in at over a quarter ounce, and the addition of the ultimate digestive bitter, Fernet Branca. I first read about this drink in a comment to drinkboston's blogpost about the Trinidad Sour, and then on cocktailvirgin's blog. It would be easy to say that this drink has definitely made the Boston cocktail scene circuit. The simplicity of the drink, despite all the bitters, is what really makes it shine. It is basically a rum sour with a hefty (and I mean fat) dose of bitters. But the taste is not even on the same planet as simple.

Don's Little Bitter

1/4 ounce Peychaud's bitters
1/4 ounce Angostura orange bitters
1/2 ounce Angostura bitters
1/2 ounce Fernet Branca
1/2 ounce lemon juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup
1 ounce Barbancourt 8-year

Shake ingredients in an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Stare in wonder as it doesn't eat through the glass, though you were worried for a half-second.

Notes on ingredients/method: I do not have any Barbancourt rum at my house at the moment, so I subbed the Matusalem Clasico, as it also has vanilla and oak flavors. Also, the simple syrup in my refridgerator is about 3:2 (sugar to water ratio).

This color of this drink is darker than the two previous heavily bittered concoctions. I imagine that the addition of the Fernet is responsible. It still retains the same opacity and foam. The smell of bitter oranges, cherry and cloves are present in the aroma, as well as the hint of the other bitter elements, though I couldn't pinpoint one over another. When I first tasted this drink instead of analyzing it, I found myself just sitting back in my chair and savoring the complexity. I had no idea where to start, there were so many different flavors bumping around in my mouth. First of all, the drink is very balanced and complex, though also challenging. The clove and cinnamon spices came across first, followed by the menthol notes of the Fernet, which was then followed by the lemony sweet-sour taste of the sour. The spices and herbs of the bitters return at the end, each fighting for recognition. But this understates the complexity of this drink: no sip was exactly the same. Different flavors came through as I drank. Tracy detected a woodsy flavor, like that of bark, and I quite agreed--a possible note of the aromatic Angostura. As the drink warmed up, it changed again. The sweet-sour flavors started to dominate more and the bitters receded a bit, acting like an accompaniment. I believe that this is because as my mouth became more and more accustomed to the bitters, the citrus flavors started to become more apparent. Throughout the experience, the flavors of the Angostura and the Fernet lingered after each sip. This drink was another heavily bittered home run.


Ode to Bitters: Trinidad Sour

Continuing our poem to heavily bittered drinks, I could not pass up the chance to try the Trinidad Sour. To date it is the most heavily bittered drink I have ever tried (though there may be one to surpass it in the immediate future). I first came up on this creation when Paul Clarke blogged about it last summer during his mad dash to post 30 times in 30 days. The drink initially caught his notice because of the whopping full ounce of Angostura bitters. I have to admit that it made me do a double take as well.  The drink is the original creation of Giuseppe Gonzalez of Painkiller in NYC.

Trinidad Sour

1 ounce Angostura Bitters
1 ounce orgeat syrup
3/4 ounce lemon juice
1/2 ounce Rittenhouse rye

Shake ingredients in an ice-filled shaker. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Notes on ingredients/method: The orgeat syrup that I used was not homemade, but a Monin product. The rule of the house is no making new syrups until the old ones are used up because of space constraints. Well, unless they are totally gross--we do have standards.

Like the Alabazam, the high amount of bitters are apparent in the drink's color, opacity, and pink foam. The reddish hue, however, is much darker. Cinnamon, allspice, and cloves dominate the aroma. And it tastes exactly as it smells, a glorious combination of spices, like liquid Christmas. The lemon flavor is more apparent mid-sip with the almond syrup's sweetness providing the appropriate balance. The finish is dry and full of the more astringent aspects of the Angostura. Complex and balanced, this drink is a really interesting take on what a sour is. The almond flavors make an especially nice touch. And despite the ridiculous amount of bitters, the refreshing qualities make is one excellent summer cocktail.