52 Weeks of Cocktails Update #4

Many weeks and a website redesign later, and I’ve got a 52 Weeks of Cocktails update. Also, I’m currently taking new name/tagline suggestions, since it's officially been 52 weeks since I started the project and I’m not even halfway done. But stick with me here folks, we're in this together until the end.

What I perhaps love the most about this project is that it’s continued to inspire and challenge me. This recap is no different, as it features such ambitious people. Oz, for example, has been bartending at the same place for more than a decade, is a professional actor, and owns a boutique wine import biz, O & M Imports. Others featured in this recap include entrepreneurs and world travelers, a female craft distiller, and winery GM.

But as these have challenged me as a person, they’ve also challenged me as a cocktail maker. This month’s cocktail recipes had me playing with ingredients and drinks I never really have, like Chardonnay, pineapple-infused mezcal, Fernet, and one of my favorite new spirits, Ancho Reyes. So without further ado, let’s get to the cocktails.

Sabor a México

While I’ve known Brett for a while through social media, we hadn’t really properly connected in person until a few months ago, and hit it off, talking travel, business, and naturally, cocktails and our favorite cocktail establishments. We met at a local Los Angeles bar, where Brett told me that the drink he ordered, the Basil Jalapeno Bourbon Sour, was a favorite of his. As such, I wanted to create my own version of that. With Brett’s recent trip to Mexico, and having talked at length about Mexico spirits, I wanted to create a drink that captured the spirit of Mexico.

  • 2 oz. Pineapple-infused mezcal
  • 1 oz. Ancho Reyes
  • .5 oz. Lime juice
  • .5 oz. Grapefruit Juice
  • .25 oz. honey syrup (equal parts honey and water)
  • Basil, to garnish

To make this cocktail, you’ll first infuse the mezcal to create a pineapple-infused mezcal, which is one of my favorite infused spirits to date, coming from the book Infuse: Oil, Spirit, Water. You'll do this by roasting twelve one-inch cubes of fresh pineapple for one hour. Then let the pineapple cool before placing in a sealed jar of 12 ounces of mezcal for 48 hours at room temperature. Lastly, strain through cheesecloth and you’re left with a delicious mezcal infusion that’s good just on its own.

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Now, to make this cocktail, you’ll take all of the ingredients (except the basil) and add to a cocktail shaker filled with ice, and shake. Strain into a rocks glass with ice, and garnish with a basil leaf. Summer is coming for this cocktail. 

 Sonoma Spritzer

What says a Sonoma cocktail like a wine spritzer? Am I right? This cocktail features my wine industry friend Bill Smart, who is vice president and general manager of Lambert Bridge Winery (a partner of mine), located in Healdsburg. I first met Bill several years ago, when I was living in San Francisco and writing about wine country for 7x7 Magazine, and we’ve stayed in touch ever since.

Honestly, it nearly seems blasphemous using wine, and especially one of Lambert Bridge’s wines in a cocktail, since I consider Lambert Bridge Winery one of Healdsburg’s classiest wineries. But hey, let’s live a little.

  • 1.5 oz. Pear cider
  • 1 oz. Chardonnay
  • .5 oz. Bellocello
  • Tonic (optional)

I find Lambert Bridge’s Chardonnay to be really nicely balanced, smooth, and fruit-forward wine, which I thought would balance nicely in a cocktail. But I really wanted a cocktail that would explicitly taste like wine country. So in addition to Lambert Bridge’s Chardonnay, I used Ace Cider’s pear cider and HelloCello’s Bellocello’s orange liqueur, both of which are produced in Sonoma County. To make this Sonoma Spritzer, you’ll add the Chardonnay, cider, and orange liqueur together in a glass with ice. And that’s it! If you have it, you can top with a little tonic.

New Tequila Sunrise 

When Noelle first emailed me about meeting, she expressed interest in a cocktail that could work as something of a post-workout cocktail, since she loves to run (see her website here: www.eatplayrun.com). As I thought about it, I pictured something light and fresh that you could make at home after a Saturday or Sunday run (so no Old Fashioneds or Manhattans). So instead of adding all your fresh-pressed juice to a blender, you’re adding it to a cocktail shaker.

  • 2 oz. Tequila blanco
  • 4 oz. Fresh-pressed juice (from 1 grapefruit, 1 lime, 1 lemon),
  • .5 oz Orange Cognac
  • 1 tsp. Homemade grenadine
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Here we have my take on the new Tequila Sunrise cocktail. The traditional Tequila Sunrise calls for tequila, orange juice, and grenadine. At many bars, however, it’s likely being served with mass-produced orange juice and grenadine. With this rendition we’re going as freshly made as possible, using fresh-pressed juice and homemade grenadine (recipe here). Add all the ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice, give it a quick shake, and then strain into a tall glass filled with ice. 2018 brunch, upgraded.

Italian Oz

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This cocktail is for my bartending buddy, Ozborne, who is one of my favorite bartenders. Oz has been bartending, and bartending at the same bar, longer than many of you have done anything (seriously). And among Oz’s long list of skills and titles is wine importer specializing in Italian wines (you can buy his wine here: www.omimports.la). So with Oz’s bartending expertise and love for Italy, I wanted something that married those things into a unique and balanced, yet simple cocktail.

  • 1 oz. Genepi
  • .75 oz. Fernet
  • .5 oz. Lemon
  • .5 oz. Orgeat 

This cocktail is really just an Italian version of a sour. As such, the spirits I used, Genepì and Fernet, have their roots in Italy. But they aren’t exactly spirits you’ll find on many cocktail menus, especially since Genepi (or Genepy), an alpine liqueur, has only recently started becoming available in America (you can sub with Green Chartreuse). To make it, you’ll add all of the ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice, shake it, and then strain into a coupe glass.

Southern California Sour

A few months ago I got to spend the morning at one of L.A.’s newest distilleries, The Spirit Guild, and I could’ve spent all day there. Located in my favorite neighborhood, the Arts District, The Spirit Guild has both a great story and unique product. I spent the morning with Morgan McLachlan, co-founder and head distiller, who gave me a tour of the distillery and shared about her history with British gin because of her Scottish-Canadian roots. That's complemented by her cohort, Miller Duvall, who comes from a family of sixth-generation farmers. 

While most spirits are made from grain, The Spirit Guild’s vodka and gin are made from a base of California clementines. Fittingly, their distillery in the Arts District was once the site for California's first commercial vineyards and orange groves. It couldn't be more appropriate to have a gluten-free, farm-to-glass distillery like they do in the Arts District of Los Angeles.


I’m just going to be honest; this cocktail takes a little elbow grease, but the reward is a real treat. The secret ingredient is what I consider one of the cocktail industry’s best ingredients, Oleo Saccharum, which is translated as oily sugar. Back in the day, it was the backbone of punch recipes, as it truly packed a punch for its flavorful, aromatic properties. To make it, I followed Bon Appétit’s recipe for Oleo Saccharum, except I used an extra lemon and clementine.

  • 1.5 oz. Astral Pacific Gin
  • .5 oz. Aperol
  • .75 oz. fresh grapefruit juice
  • .5 oz. Oleo Saccharum
  • 1 egg white
  • 2-3 dashes Rhubarb bitters

To make the cocktail itself, you’ll add all of the ingredients to a cocktail shaker without ice to dry shake (since there’s egg white). Then, add ice, shake, and strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a grapefruit peel.