Finally, a drink that can stand up to the vigors of industrial music. Upgrade your tasteless vodka drinks for one of these.

1 oz gin
1 oz makers mark bourbon
1 oz kraken dark spiced rum
1/2-3/4 oz absinthe
2 dash angostura bitters
2 dash orange bitters
1/2-1 tsp sugar


1. Chill a cocktail glass with ice water
2. Pour the sugar into the bottom of a cocktail shaker, add bitters and muddle.
3. Add the spirits, fill shaker with ice
4. Shake until well chilled, strain into pre-chilled glass
5. Optional: Garnish with a twist of lemon or orange peel

1. I used Tanqueray gin because that’s what I have, would be good with others as well
2. Use rye instead of bourbon for more of a Sazerac. I would also reduce the rum and absinthe to 1/2 oz ea and increase the rye to 1-1/2 oz.
3. I used 3/4 oz of absinthe, it’s not unpleasant but still quite strong, next time will reduce to 1/2 oz to get more balance of the flavours.
4. If using a martini glass coating the glass with dry vermouth would be a nice touch.



Hot Chocolate for Grown-Ups


  • 1/3 cup high quality cocoa (min. Ghirardelli. Valrhona, Scharffen Berger, Maison du Chocolat, or other premium brand preferred.)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 TB cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup hot water
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • 4 cups (or 1 liter) unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Kahlua (optional)


  1. Mix dry ingredients except nutmeg in 4-quart saucepan. Add hot water and stir to incorporate over high heat until it boils. Start with 1/3 cup and add up to ½ cup if necessary to prevent from burning.
  2. Slowly pour in milk while stirring.
  3. Heat until hot, stirring occasionally, until almost at a boil. But do not bring to boil.
  4. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla and nutmeg.
  5. Ladle into mugs and add 1 TB Kahlua per cup.


  1. Splurge for the “good stuff”, the quality of the ingredients makes all the difference. The cocoa, cinnamon, and vanilla should be the best you can get your hands on.
  2. For an extra kick, add a shot of espresso. Then top with some frothed milk. Just like your favourite coffee shoppe, only much better, and 1/8 the price.


Kid’s Version

Follow the directions on the side of Hershey’s cocoa box. Essentially the same as above, but use ¼ cup Hershey’s coca, ½ cup sugar, 1 quart cow milk, omit spices and Kahlua, and top with mini marshmallows.

Cocoa for Grown Ups

I grew up drinking Hershey’s cocoa, following the recipe on the side of the box. Sadly, it’s no longer as good as it used to be. I blamed Hershey’s for a while, then slowly accepted the reality that I am no longer a little kid. So I tinkered a bit, and now make Cocoa For Grown Ups.

Instead of 1/4 cup cocoa and 1/2 cup sugar, I use 1/3 cup of each. And Ghiradelli [good] or Scharfen Berger [better] or Maison du Chocolat [best] instead of Hershey’s.

I basically stopped drinking cow’s milk this year, the unsweetened vanilla almond milk I’ve been using istead works just fine.

Spice it up with a sprinkle of cayenne, a generous amount of good cinnamon, and thicken slightly with a bit of cornstarch (not too much or it becomes chocolate pudding, which is also good but not the goal here).

Remove from heat and add 1 tsp Mexican vanilla, then ladle into a mug and add a generous splash of Khalua and top with a dusting of freshly grated nutmeg.

To retain some semblance of childhood joy, toss in a few mini marshmallows.


I just made the most outrageous martini ever. But before we get to that, a bit of background. As you may know, martinis were originally made from gin, with a hint of vermouth. In modern times, as gin fell out of favour, it came to be replaced with vodka. So basically, a “martini” to most people these days is just a vehicle to consume a large amount of vodka in a fancy glass. Boring.

Not being a huge fan of either plain gin or vodka, I experimented with olives, olive juice, and various other garnishes. But it was still basically just a shot of booze, in a fancy glass. Then my former cow-worker Scott made me his version, and it was a revelatory experience. He used a regular low-ball glass, with large hand-cracked ice cubes, with a jigger each of vodka and gin, and a twist of lemon peel. Smooth, silky, elegant, and refreshing, and easier to handle than those stupid top-heavy fancy glasses. Who’s idea was that anyway?

I took his idea, and ran with it. Thus was born the Aardtini:



3/4 oz dry vermouth
1-1/4 oz Tanqueray gin
1-1/4 oz Crystal Skull vodka (or preferred brand)
2 pimento stuffed manzanilla olives
A splash of olive juice (about 1/2 tsp)
A twist of lemon peel


Chill a martini glass by filling with ice cubes and cold water.
In a cocktail shaker, add the booze and olive juice, then fill with ice.
Shake well, until frosty on outside.
Strain into chilled martini glass, garnish with olives and lemon peel

This has been my standard martini, and still my favourite. The best I ever had was at a club in Baltimore, prepared by an actual bartender per my directions. I guess it helps to know what you’re doing.

My friend Dawne (handle Tree, mine is Aardvark hence the “Aardtini”) makes a martreeni:
“Ice, splash of vermouth, vodka to the top, 3 olives. I recommend tito’s”
I’ve never actually tried it that way, but figured that she might be on to something.

So I just made a hybrid between the Aardtini and the martreeni, with the goal of being the best of all possible worlds. I came pretty damn close.



3/4 oz dry vermouth
1-1/4 oz tanqueray gin
2-1/2 oz Tito’s vodka
3 green olives, stuffed with feta or blue cheese
A dash of olive juice (about 1/4 tsp)
A twist of lemon peel


Chill a martini glass by filling with ice cubes and cold water.
In a cocktail shaker, add the booze and olive juice, then fill with ice.
Shake well, until frosty on outside.
Strain into chilled martini glass, garnish with olives and lemon peel

Warning: This is a lot of alcohol, and will render you numb. Do not attempt to drive, or operate any heavy machinery, or text your ex, at any time after or during consumption.

The verdict: the cheese stuffed olives were novel, and the salt from the cheese helped balance the flavour, but so does olive juice, which is more evenly distributed. Not to mention the hassle of cramming crumbly cheese into a non-cooperative olive. The extra shot of vodka went straight to my head, and just seemed to dilute the flavours. Fun eperiment, but I think I’ll stick to my Aardtinis.



Off white Russian

Made a nice variation on a white Russian earlier.

1.25 oz vodka
1.25 oz kalhua
3/4 oz Jameson
Splash frangelico
2.5 oz milk

Shake with ice

Coffee Roasting

My first foray into coffee roasting last week was a success. I purchased some green beans and some roasted of the same variety, from a fancy coffee shop downtown. Actually I got three different varieties to see if the difference was consistent across different beans, and in all three cases I preferred the batch that I roasted myself. I wasn’t expecting this to be the case, as I roasted them in probably the worst way. In a roasting pan in the oven. Even at 425F with the convection fan blowing, it took almost 20 min to get dark enough, which is too long. And even with shaking the pan every few minutes, this hard to get an even roast. And then I didn’t have a good way to separate the chaff.
But since it worked well despite all that, I ordered a dedicated coffee roaster, and a sampler of 8 different types of green beans, including several espresso blends. Hopefully I like one of them as much as Stumptown’s Hair Bender.

The roasted beans:20120828-001556.jpg

The green beans pre-roasting:20120828-001618.jpg

Commodore 64 Cocktail

This sounds kinda gross, but I really like the name and have all the ingredients, so will try it soon.



1 1/3 ounces bourbon
2/3 ounce white crème de cacao
2/3 ounce fresh lemon juice
2/3 ounce fresh orange juice
1/2 ounce grenadineDash of Fee Brothers Old Fashion bitters or Angostura bitters1 orange wedge, for garnish
  1. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add all of the remaining ingredients except the garnish and shake well. Strain into an ice-filled rocks glass and garnish with the orange wedge.

Old Fashioned Manhattan?

To be honest, I’m still a bit confused on the difference between an Old Fashioned and a Manhattan. I had a delicious one the other day at Meat & Potatoes gastropub in Pittsburgh, but it had weird things in it like black pepper, thyme, and lemon, and whiskey bitters. The cocktail was smooth and strong, well balanced and flavorful, but tasted like none of those things. So instead of attempting to duplicate the recipe, I opted instead to create my own version. The exact proportions could use a bit of tweaking, but overall I was quite pleased with the results.

In a large mixing glass, add the following:
1.5-2 oz bourbon
.75 oz dry vermouth
.75 oz port
.5 oz Cointreau
Several dashes of bitters
Add ice, stir gently to chill
Strain into chilled Old Fashioned glass over 2 large square ice cubes

note: I don’t have the square ice cubes so used 4 normal ones that the freezer makes

Bloody Aardvark

Since this is my first post on this new blog, I figured I’d get things off to a an eye-opening start with a cocktail.


Bloody Aardvark

It’s like a Bloody Mary, but based on an Aardtini instead of just plain boring vodka.


  • 1 oz vodka (good quality, but doesn’t have to be the bestest ever)
  • 1 oz gin (I use Tanqueray)
  • Dry vermouth
  • 1 5.5oz chilled can V8 (I use the low sodium, but any are fine)
  • 2-3 splashes (about 1/8 teaspoon) Tabasco sauce
  • Several drops (about 1/8 teaspoon) Worcestershire sauce
  • A few drops (about 1/8 teaspoon) Extra Virgin Olive oil (optional)
  • Pinch of dried Sumac (optional)
  • Pinch Celery salt
  • Black pepper, preferably freshly ground
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • Sea Salt, to taste (preferably French Atlantic)
  • 3 Cocktail olives (eg Manzanilla stuffed with pimentos)


  1. In a cocktail shaker, add 1 oz ea of the vodka and gin. Increase to a full jigger (1-1/4 oz) for an extra strong drink. Add a splash (about half a capful) of dry vermouth.
  2. Shake V8 and add to shaker, along with a few drops of the olive juice if using the low sodium V8.
  3. Season to taste with the rest of the ingredients. Add salt last as the other ingredients are salty.
  4. Fill shaker with ice cubes, and shake vigorously for a minute.
  5. Strain into cocktail glass over ice (about 4 cubes).
  6. Garnish with 3 olives.


This makes a relatively thin bloody Mary, not the gloppy stuff when using the store-bought mix.


For a version to accompany Mexican food, substitute tequila for gin, tapatio for tobacco, and chili powder for sumac