Tales from the Elix: Soiled Kimono

Often times, inspiration for creating cocktails can come from unusual places.  Like, a few weeks ago, during a 19 day SNL Marathon on VH1 Classic, when I was able to catch a glimpse of “Mr. Mike’s Least Loved Bedtime Tales:  The Soiled Kimono.”  The sketch itself is everything we love about strange, vintage SNL, and stars Michael O’Donoghue as a misanthropic bartender, as well as Laraine Newman as a bar patron asked to sing in lieu of payment.  But that’s not what we’re here today to talk about.  We’re here to talk about the drink itself, the Soiled Kimono.
During the sketch itself, a recipe is given for the drink, along with a ridiculous backstory, which I’m including here.  This backstory itself is a perfect parody of cocktail culture and lore, and is one of the main reasons I fell in love with this cocktail.
A Japanese aviator was 
angry with an unfaithful 
Geisha girl. 
“Take this!” he said, 
flinging 2/3rds of a glass 
of costly French champagne 
in her face.
“And this!” he said,
flinging 1/3rd of a glass 
of Japanese plum wine 
in her face.
“And this!” he said,
flinging a paper butterfly 
in her face.
“Why this tastes delicious!” 
she exclaimed, kissed him, 
and then hit him 
in the lungs 
with a gardening tool. 
The end.”
When it came time to create our own Soiled Kimono, we decided to stray from the recipe a bit.  Essentially, we created a variation on a French 75 with Greenhook Ginsmiths Plum Gin Liqueur, a wonderful fruit-forward gin out of NYC, created by some people doing some really great things.  We opted against folding our own paper butterflies to place on top of the drink (albeit not for lack of trying), and ended up using an intricate lemon twist instead.
Overall, we’re really happy with how the Soiled Kimono ended up turning out, and it’s currently available on our brunch menu (Saturdays and Sundays), and during standard Elixir Bar hours (TuesdaySaturday evenings).  This cocktail just goes to show that you don’t have to re-invent the wheel to do a great cocktail, you just have to keep your eyes open.  Inspiration can come from anywhere, as long as you’re paying attention.
Soiled Kimono
1.0 oz Greenhook Plum Gin
0.5 oz Simple Syrup
0.5 oz Lemon Juice
top with inexpensive French Champagne
Shake gin, simple syrup, and lemon juice in a shaker with house ice and double strain into a champagne flute.  Top with bubbles. Garnish with a paper butterfly, or a lemon wheel.  Whichever is easier.

Elixirs of The Week




IMG_3130 1


The Mad King – Parker Girard

St. George’s Absinthe, Commonwealth Gin, Midori, Lemon, Salt, Mint



The Strangler – Diana Cole

Cab Sauv, Old Overholt, Clove, Blood Orange Shrub



The Mountain And The Viper – Diana Cole

Tequila Cabeza Blanca, Laphroig 10 yr, Yuzu, Grenadine, Serrano, Orange



Take The Black – Ruairi De Burca

Blackberry Liqueur, Sorel, Lime, Champagne

Anatomy of a Concept Drink: The Mad King

Last week, when we knew we wanted to stack our house cocktail list with Game of Thrones cocktails, we all decided to draw cocktail names out of a hat and design a cocktail around the name.  So we threw a few GoT-related nouns and phrases into a hat, and we went around the restaurant distributing cocktail names.

Fair warning, guys.  It’s about to get nerdy in here.
television animated GIF
Concept drinks are no stranger to the Elixir Bar.  When we first started playing around with what the Elixir Bar would be and the cocktails we would have on it, we were mostly exploring flavors, ingredients, and drink styles as the central weekly theme.  But as time passed, we received the most positive feedback when we strayed from this for concepts like adapted fictional cocktails, cocktails based on our favorite albums of the nineties, and cocktails based on Quentin Tarantino movies.  So naturally, since GoT is premiering next Sunday, we all got pretty excited.  When it came time to draw names out of a hat, I picked two names,  “The Mad King” and “Whitewalker”.  For this entry, we’ll be focusing on The Mad King.

The first thing I did was refresh my memory, reading up all I could on who the Mad King was, how he died, why he was so crazy, etc.  Reading through GoT wiki entries on Aerys II Targaryen (a.k.a. The Mad King), I was reminded that it was the drinking of wildfire, the bright green fantasy equivalent of napalm in R.R. Martin’s universe, that drove him so mad.  He eventually became so obsessed with fire that he thought it would turn himself into a dragon, and he made plans to burn down King’s Landing with wildfire hidden all over the city.


Game of Thrones

I already had enough information to start making the cocktail.  We knew the cocktail had to be green, we knew we had to involve fire, and since the cocktail was designed for a king, we wanted the cocktail to feature Commonwealth Gin and be up in a coupe.  The rest was just a combining of flavors working together.  For the absinthe, we used St. George’s Absinthe Vert, as it was brandy-based and fully capable of lighting on fire.  To make the whole drink green we used Midori as a sweetener, and added a pinch of salt to mimic the flavor of salted melon.  To garnish, a small sprig of mint floating on top for aromatics.  If you’d like to taste this cocktail, it will be in the Elixir Bar all week.  And if you can’t make it in, here’s the recipe:

The Mad King – Parker Girard
1.5 oz Commonwealth Gin
1.0 oz Lemon Juice
0.75 oz Midori
0.25 St George’s Absinthe
Pinch salt
Mint sprig

Pour absinthe in coupe and set aside.  In a shaker, combine gin, Midori, juice and salt and shake with house ice.  Once mixed, set absinthe on fire in coupe, wait five seconds, and pour contents of shaker into the coupe to extinguish the flame.  Garnish with a small mint sprig.

Tales from the Elix – Swizzles


Sometimes, the best cocktails are the ones that are the hardest to make. At the time,  the Stanton Park Swizzle was the most difficult cocktail we’d ever put on a menu downstairs, but in retrospect, was one of the most fun and different.

This was also one of the first cocktails we had ever done with a shrub, a vinegar-based potable that, when combined with alcohol, somehow makes the perfect cocktail.  I could explain it here, but I’m sure there are better and more knowledgeable resources about the history of shrubs and their emergence in contemporary cocktails.  Like this book, called “Shrubs,” which has been immensely helpful.

This drink continues the tiki theme of at least two different kinds of rum, a complicated additive made in house, crushed ice, and a vibrant and loud appearance.  There’s nothing quite like giving a drink like this to an unsuspecting patron.   It’s a loose riff on a Queen’s Park Swizzle, but named after the park closest to our restaurant.

Stanton Park Swizzle

1.0 oz Gosling’s Dark Rum
1.0 oz Cana Brava Rum
1.0 oz Pineapple/Ginger Shrub
Mint sprig for muddling
Mint sprig for garnish
3 dashes Angostura Bitters
3 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters

Combine both rums, mint sprig and pineapple ginger shrub in a shaker with a small amount of crushed ice and shake until all ingredients are thoroughly combined.  Dump contents of the shaker into a pilsner glass and swizzle with crushed ice until the drink is full.  Form a snowcone-like top with crushed ice (don’t be afraid to use your hands) and garnish with a mint sprig, long straw, and bitters.

Tales From The Elix: That’s a Bingo!

We hit a bit of a creative dry spell trying to create cocktails this week, so someone had an idea that was new to us; turning to the outside for inspiration.  Whereas usually the bartenders creating elixirs will stay in certain lanes, using ingredients for inspiration or twisting pre-existing classics, this week we chose a completely unrelated concept and ran with it.  That concept was the work of film director Quentin Tarantino, and what we are left with is our most diverse and unique elixir selection yet. Rundown to follow.

Thats a bingo!

Each bartender drew a film from a hat. No rules; however a film inspired us, we followed that impulse. Here’s the finished product:

A River Derchi – Inglorious Basterds

Jack Daniels, Cynar, Fig Syrup, Lemon

Buck’s Pussy Wagon – Kill Bill

Plum Gin, Cabernet Sauvignon, Lime, Ginger Beer

Hanoi Watch Locker – Pulp Fiction

Goslings, Ginger Juice, Lime, Beet Syrup

watch animated GIF

Mr. Pink – Resevoir Dogs

Del Maguey Vida Mezcal, Coffee Liqueur, Cardamom syrup, Regan’s Orange Bitters

Polynesian Pearl Diver – Django Unchained

Appleton VX, Lime, Orange Juice, Pearl Diver Mix (Butter, Honey, Cinnamon, Vanila, Allspice Dram, Velvet Falernum, Lemonhart 151)

Hanoi Watch Locker Recipe – Kody Siegel (H/T Tarantino)

Coupe – Salt/Sugar Rim – Shaken

1.5 oz Goslings Black Seal Rum

.75 oz Ginger Juice

.75 oz Lime Juice

.5 oz Beet Syrup

Shake first three ingredients and double strain into a glass with a salt/sugar rim. Drizzle beet syrup in and around the glass in a fancy/bloody fashion. Enjoy.

Tales from the Elix: Member’s only

“Are you putting an egg in a cocktail?”

Flips and fizzes are some of the oldest and most classic cocktails, but in the modern bartending world, they just aren’t as popular as they were at the turn of the century.  So when patrons see bartenders crack an egg into a cocktail, it throws them for a loop.

And before we even talk about egg white cocktails, there’s the food-borne illness element in the room.  Yes, consuming raw or undercooked eggs can increase the likelihood of food-borne illness.  That’s why we’re very careful about selecting which eggs we use for cocktails, and only source the highest quality eggs.  Combine that with a 1 in 10,000 chance an egg contains salmonella, and it’s really not that dangerous.  Trust me.  If you’re that nervous about it, there are safer methods, like powdered egg whites.

Here’s an egg white cocktail about to go on our Elixir Bar menu.  It’s our house take on a Clover Club, one of my favorite egg white cocktails, with a little bit of Campari and the addition of Dry Vermouth, which the original Clover Club recipe called for.  Egg whites in a cocktail necessitate a lot of air to whip and emulsify the egg proteins, which means dry-shaking is a priority if you want a nice, fluffy cocktail.  But even that’s up for debate.

But enough talk, let’s get to the fun stuff.

Members Only
1.0 oz Ford’s Gin
0.75 oz lemon juice
0.5 oz Dolin Dry Vermouth
0.5 oz Campari
0.5 oz Raspberry Syrup
Egg white

Combine all ingredients in a shaker and dry shake for as long as you can until your arm is about to fall off (30-40 seconds should suffice).  Then add house ice and shake for 10-15 seconds and double strain into a chilled coupe.  No garnish.

Raspberry Syrup:
8.0 oz Raspberries
2 cups boiling water
2 cups white sugar

Crush raspberries, pour in sugar, pour in water, bring to a boil and strain.

Tales from The Elix: Necromancer No. 2

elixir BAr

When I first came to Barrel to interview back in early March of 2014, we went downstairs as part of the interview process, and I couldn’t believe my eyes.  It was beautiful; there were large, dark wooden tables and a sliding glass door with some of the rarest bourbons on the market.  I remember thinking it would be an honor just to work downstairs in that space.  I was the last bartender hired to work on our opening staff, and when I arrived for training, I was easily the least experienced bartender in the room.

So when it came time to launch our rotating cocktail program in the Elixir Bar, I was honestly just humbled to be a part of the process.

Once we picked “smoke” as our central theme for our first menu, this was honestly the first cocktail concept to pop in my head:  a smoke-rinsed corpse reviver.  It ended up being slightly more complicated than that, but it’s one of the cocktails I’m most proud of during my time at Barrel.  We’ve even had the honor of featuring it at a few of our off-premise events.  It was also the most fun cocktail to prep that we’ve had on the list.  There’s nothing quite like filling the downstairs room with smoke to turn a few heads.

Necromancer #2:

0.75 oz Hayman’s Royal Dock Gin
0.75 oz Rosemary Syrup
0.75 oz Cocchi Americano
0.75 oz Lemon Juice
Rosemary Sprig
Applewood-smoked 8 oz mason jar.

1.)  First, prep mason jars by setting up smoke gun, filling with smoke, sealing, and storing in a dry place.  This should be done at the beginning of service, but expect to run out of smoked glasses.
2.)  Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice, double strain into prepared mason jar, and garnish with a rosemary sprig.

– Parker

Tales from the Elix: Stranger than Fiction


Having run out of any ideas for a cocktail list this week, and with a dearth of exciting fresh ingredients for inspiration this time of year, BM Parker came up with a left-field idea: Cocktails adapted from works of fiction.

Working from a longer list, we decided on 4 drinks:

Moloko Plus, from A Clockwork Orange.  In the book, Alex and friends drank this milk based cocktail loaded with drugs before going out for a little ultraviolence. Parker turned it into a neat little milk punch, with bourbon, rye, some orange and vanilla bean. Ultraviolence is strongly discouraged until you leave the elix.

Soiled Kimono. This one was dug up from a season 3 episode of SNL that is worth tracking down on hulu. Champagne, Plum Gin, Sugar, and Lemon.

Flaming Moe – Adapted by Ruairi from a little show called The Simpsons. Our version is Sambuca, Brandy, Peppermint, and a little fire. No cough syrup included in ours.

– Lastly, Butterbeer, adopted from the Harry Potter books. JK Rowling describes it as  – a little bit like less sickly butterscotch -, but that’s not really what we were trying to achieve. So we butterwashed some rum, made it a strong, rich drink with an egg yolk, some caramel syrup and a dash of cream soda; and voila. Here is the recipe:

Butter Beer


2 Oz Butter Washed Rum
.5 oz Ramazotti Amaro
.5 oz Heavy Cream
.5 oz caramel syrup
1 Egg Yolk
Dry shake all ingredients until frothy. Ice shake until dilution is achieved. Double strain into a collins glass. Top with Caramel Foam, and garnish with maldon salt flakes.
Butter Washed Rum
750ml Pyrat Rum
2 Sticks of whole butter
1. Cut the butter up into pats and put in a ziploc bag with the rum.
2, Run under warm water or warm in a sous vide bath until butter has fully melted.
3. Put into freezer, for at least 2 hours but preferably overnight.
4. Remove from freezer, and run through a chinois to remove large buttersolids.
Caramel Syrup
1. Put a pint of sugar in a pot, making sure that no sugar hits the sides of the pot. Pour directly into the middle of the pot to ensure this happens.
2. Pour enough water into the middle to just cover the sugar.
3. Turn up the flame to high. Monitor the pot.
4. When the mixture gets brown enough for your desires, remove from heat and add 1/2 pint of water. Voila, 2:1 caramel syrup.
Caramel Foam
In a whipping canister, put:
4 egg whites; 8 oz caramel syrup; 1 oz lemon juice; 1 oz rum (goslings or sailor, something sweet).
1. Close Canister and shake the absolute piss out it. 2 minutes at least.
2. Charge with 2 N20 things.
3. Let rest in cooler/ice to set up.
4. Shake a little before each use to wake it up.

Tales From The Elix: The Valdez

As mixologists bartenders, we have the benefit of standing on the backs of giants when it comes to creating cocktails.  The reality is, while there are quite literally an infinite number of possible combinations of flavors, a lot of the hard work in regard to ratios and flavor combinations has already been done.  This drink, the Valdez, is the perfect example of how we can combine three drinks from within the same genre and create a drink greater than the sum of its parts.

The Valdez is a hodge-podge of concepts taken from three different tiki-inspired cocktails.  Firstly, there’s the daiquiri, which the Valdez imitates mostly in form, as this drink is served to customers in a coupe with a lime wheel, as one would expect a classic daiquiri to arrive.  Then, there’s the Corn and Oil, which is essentially a rum old-fashioned with dark rum and Velvet Falernum, a tiki sweetener with notes of clove and ginger.  Lastly, we find inspiration in the Jungle Bird, a drink that proves Campari is a bitter capable of working in a tiki setting.

To this day, this was the only drink I’ve ever been this proud about that hasn’t had multiple drafts.  After we made it the first time, we were so happy with it that we just decided to preserve the cocktail in this state.  When we featured it on our rum menu earlier this year, I expected a lot of people to send the drink back, unhappy with the bitter finish, but we recieved more repeat orders for the Valdez from unexpected patrons than any drink in recent memory.  People that have never had Campari before were ordering 3-4 of these drinks.  I guess I can’t complain, but I’m still puzzled by it.

This is a drink where chilling the coupe is very important, bitter flavors work extremely well in cold glasses.  Nobody likes warm Campari.

The Valdez:

1.0 oz Gosling’s Black Seal Rum
1.0 oz John D. Taylor’s Velvet Falernum
0.5 oz Campari
0.5 oz lime juice

Combine all ingredients in a shaker tin and shake with ice for 20 seconds.  Double strain into a chilled coupe glass and garnish a with a lime wheel.  Serve immediately.

Tales from the Elix: Milk Punch

Milky Chance


It’s getting harder and harder to surprise people at cocktail bars these days.  Even things like Green Chartreuse, once relegated to a dusty shelf in the back of the liquor store, are being rediscovered as tremendously popular cocktail ingredients.  So naturally, when we stumbled upon a recipe for milk punch, we jumped upon the opportunity to do something we’ve never done before, that we think our customer base would be very interested in.

Let me first of all start by saying that milk punch is a blanket term covering a few different types of cocktails.  The milk punch we’re referring to here is not a thick, fatty cream-based drink, but a silky, completely clear pre-batched cocktail made from adding hot milk to a mixture of spirit, sugar, juice, zest and spices.  It is, without a doubt, one of my favorite cocktails we’ve had the privilege of making at Barrel, and I have a feeling you’ll be seeing more and more batches of it sooner rather than later.

This recipe is courtesy of Dave Wondrich, who helped adapt the recipe from Mary Rockett’s Milk Punch, the oldest known version of the drink.  While the recipe originally calls for brandy, bourbon was an easy and logical substitution.  We are, after all, a bourbon bar.

Also I should note that I switch back and forth between metric and U.S. measurements in this recipe, but mostly because they didn’t really care much for continuity back in those days.  Just try to keep up, and remember that following the recipe by the book is for squares.

Bourbon Milk Punch:

What you’ll need:
1 gallon of bourbon (we used 3.5L, or 2x 1.75L bottles, of Old Grandad 100)
8 Lemons
4 quarts water
2 pounds white sugar
Spices (classified)

1.)  Pour bourbon into a large container and add the rind of 8 lemons, taking care to leave out the pith (white part).  Add a few spices, but not too many (alcohol will amplify and extract more flavor than you’re expecting), cover and let sit for 24-48 hours.

2.)  Remove spices and lemon zests and move into a container capable of holding 10L (at the very least) of liquid, but likely more.  Then add 4 quarts of water, 2 pounds of white sugar, the juice of 8 lemons.

3.)  Bring 2 quarts of milk (1/2 gallon) to a boil and then add to the mixture.  You will see the milk fats starting to curdle, and it’s really gross.  Put it somewhere where you can’t see it so you don’t have to look at it.

4.)  After a few hours, skim the large chunks off the top, then strain the mixture through a chinois fine lined with cheesecloth into a separate, large container.  This is the part where you’ll start to wonder why you ever wanted to add hot milk to a cocktail, but trust me, it’s worth it in the end.  Make sure you soak the cheesecloth with a bit of bourbon before you start the transfer, as the cheesecloth will soak up a good deal of liquid, and you don’t want to lose any of this.  You’ve worked too hard for this.  Let stand for 24 hours in a cool place.

5.)  After this amount of time has elapsed, you’ll start to notice the bottom of the container is full of a fine sediment of milk solids.  As tempting as it is to try to strain this out with cheesecloth, it’s likely too fine, and will make it through the cheesecloth and make the resulting mixture cloudy again.  Lame.  Siphon as much as possible from the top (doing your best not to disturb the sediment) into 750ml swingtop containers, and refrigerate.  What’s left is the resulting lactose sugars from the milk with none of the fat solids, so the resulting mixture should, if done correctly, last indefinitely in the fridge.

6.)  Pour over a ice with a lemon twist.  Revel in your masterpiece, and try to explain to all of your friends that they’re drinking clarified milk.  It’s more fun than it sounds.

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