Category Archives: Cocktails

Kumquat Heaven

Had a recent “disaster.” My little kumquat tree was loaded with kumquats, and I had a fancy for some kumquat marmalade, so the fruit was picked, seeds removed, and cooked with sugar. We ended up with a dozen jars of various sizes. There was one problem, however. The recipe we pulled off the net was not good, and the kumquat marmalade ended up more like kumquat syrup. It did taste good but would work better over pancakes than spread on toast. So, now I am stuck with all this kumquat syrup or throw it out.

When life hands you lemons make lemonade … or a cocktail.

I chose the latter and set about to develop some use for all this kumquat syrup. Since it resembled simple syrup, I figured some variation of an Old Fashioned would work and started testing recipes. I hit a winner on the first try! Janis and I tasted it and declared it good but a bit overly sweet. So, we added a little lemon juice and it went from “good” to “fantastic!” It resembles an Old Fashioned cocktail with a kumquat-ish flavor.

The recipe is as follows:

In an Old Fashioned tumbler filled with quality ice add …

2 oz Buffalo Trace Bourbon

2 tsp kumquat syrup (include a few pieces of kumquat from the “marmalade” syrup)

2 dashes orange bitters

about 1/2 a tsp of lemon juice (to taste)

stir well and wipe the rim of the tumbler with lemon peel and twist it over the cocktail. Then sit back and enjoy kumquat heaven.

You have one problem, however. That is no one sells kumquat syrup. You are going to have to make your own, but that’s another post.

(The little caterpillar-looking thing in the bottom of the drink is a sliver of kumquat peel.)

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Cherry Bounce Update – AT LAST!

 After the three months of “maturing,” my last batch of MB’s Cherry Bounce is ready! I strained off the mash and bottled the juice in an empty Elmer T. Lee Single Barrel Bourbon bottle pressed into service. That and the deer head stopper are what I had available.

It yielded about 1 liter of finished product, plus a half quart jar of cherries that are now flavored by the Sazerac Rye Whiskey they soaked in for three months. I am amazed at how much of the whiskey flavor the cherries retained.

And, man, is it good! The Cherry Bounce is smooth and sweet when consumed straight and will go well over ice cream and in most any other concoction I can dream up.

Someone asked if letting the mixture soak for a longer period of time would improve it? I can’t imagine it getting any better. I tasted it every few weeks as it was maturing, and you could detect the changes taking place. The alcohol burn tended to overpower the flavor in the beginning, but as the three months passed, the cherry flavor took over and it smoothed out considerably.

As for the Sazerac Rye soaked cherries that are a byproduct, Janis made up some miniature pies using little finger-sized pie shells with filling made with the leftover cherries and some Buffalo Trace Bourbon Cherry Preserves. It is to die for!

I am declaring this little experiment a complete success. Now I have to wait for Bing cherries to come back in season to make more. Meanwhile, I am on the hunt for a wild cherry tree so I can try the recipe using Louisiana wild cherries. Everyone I mention this to remembers having wild cherry trees when they were kids but no one has them now. Maybe a well-stocked nursery?

This will be a continuing story …

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Cherry Bounce Has Arrived!

After months of experimentation, I arrived at a recipe for Cherry Bounce I am most happy with. The last experiment finally reached three months maturity—well—one week short of three months; close enough for gubmint work, yes? So I acquired some cheesecloth, strained it, and bottled it. Oh, and I also tasted it.

YUM! It is fantastic!

I emptied the last dregs of a tequila bottle I had and put the strained final product in there. That required a quickie label. This is probably not the final version, but it will do for now.

As you can see from the image, I got about 350ml out of that last test batch. Not to worry, however, a “production” batch is currently maturing in the darkened confines of my kitchen pantry. That one used a whole 750ml bottle of Sazerac Rye, so I expect it to yield as much or a bit more, depending on how much juice the cherries throw off. It is, however, only a month into the maturing process. It should be good and ready for Thanksgiving. I would make more for Christmas gifts, but cherries are evidently out of season.

The label says it is “MB’s Cherry Bounce” made from a secret family recipe handed down from generation to generation—all lies—well, mostly lies. MB did inspire this, but since I could not find his original recipe, I had to experiment. And the recipe isn’t really secret. It is attached below for anyone who wants to make a batch of their own.

MB’s Cherry Bounce Recipe

2 lbs ripe sweet Bing cherries

1 cup Turbinado sugar

juice of one lemon

1 750ml bottle Sazerac Rye Whiskey

Remove the pits from the cherries. In a saucepan, add cherries, sugar, and lemon juice and set aside to allow the cherries to throw off some juice (at least 30 minutes or so). Simmer and stir over low heat for 20-30 minutes until sugar is dissolved and the cherries are just about to begin breaking up. I like to keep them whole for later use. You should have then substantially more juice that cherries, whereas before there was very little juice with the whole cherries. Let cool and add rye whiskey. Mix well and store in a clean covered canning jar in a cool dark place for three months. Check often to be sure there is no fermentation that would build up pressure in the jars. (There shouldn’t be with the rye whiskey in it.) Once “mature” strain through cheesecloth and bottle. Save strained cherries and refrigerate for other uses like over ice cream or as an ingredient in cocktails, or maybe make some jam with them. I don’t know how long these will keep refrigerated. You may want to freeze some in small batches to be thawed and used as needed.

The finished Cherry Bounce can be sipped straight or as an ingredient in a cocktail. See my recipe for MB’s Cherry Bounce Old Fashioned Cocktail here.



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The MB Cherry Bounce Cocktail

I said I would be experimenting with the Cherry Bounce in a cocktail. And it came out great. It is quite simple to make if you have some of my Cherry Bounce. What? You don’t have any? Sorry ’bout that.

The cocktail is named after my father and his “famous” Cherry Bounce. He liked to drink Old Fashioneds, so the MB Cherry Bounce Cocktail is based on an Old Fashioned, which, BTW, is the “hot” retro cocktail right now. Mine is a bit different.


1.5-2 ozs Sazerac Rye Whiskey (Yeah, you can use another, but we designed the Sazerac package.)

2 teaspoons Cherry Bounce (Rye Recipe Version)

2 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters

2 dashes Orange Bitters

a few cherries from the saved mash from the Cherry Bounce

Stir with ice in an Old Fashioned glass and add a twist of lemon peel. (The lemon peel is a Sazerac Cocktail thing. It adds a bit of tartness to the drink.)

The cherry flavor comes through and goes well with the rye whiskey. I may do some fine tuning, but I think I have a winner.



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Cherry Bounce Update #2

Two months ago I posted about my cherry bounce experiments and updated that about ten days later with my first update, concerning the second experiment. I was supposed to wait three months before bottling. Well, that didn’t happen. I figured two was enough. So, today I decanted my mash into 200ml bottles and tasted it.

There were two recipes being tested. The first was based on one supposedly from Martha Washington. It called for cooking the cherries and sugar for 20 minutes and using rye whiskey. The second came from a friend, which was his mother’s recipe. It called for cooking only enough to dissolve the sugar and used vodka for the alcohol. Both recipes called for fresh sour cherries, which I did not have and used dried tart cherries instead. Neither recipe made mention of the sugar, but if you have been following my rants here, you will know that I have a fondness for turbinado sugar, which is sugar that is much less refined than white sugar. It is brown and granular with large grains and retains more of the molasses flavor. I especially like it in my Sazerac Cocktail recipe.

I strained out the cherry mash from both of my cherry bounce experiments and transferred the “juice” to bottles for future consumption. Unlike my dad, who was the inspiration for this experiment, I elected not to dispose of the strained cherry mash by bundling it up in cheesecloth and attempting to toss it onto the roof of the building on the other side of Bourbon Street. (This was to hide his foray into adult beverages at age 12. It didn’t make it, by the way.) Instead, I saved it in jars in the refrigerator. Janis plans to use it over ice cream—and probably a few other things she will eventually dream up. In both cases, the liquid came out a muddy reddish color because I didn’t strain it through a fine mesh, only a colander.

Now for the good part, the testing.

The Vodka Recipe – Both recipes had very intense flavors and leaned to the syrupy side of a liqueur, which is what it is supposed to be. This one much favored the taste of the cherries, and the alcohol seemed a bit stronger than in the other. I did not use an expensive vodka because I have very strong opinions on that matter. Since, by law, vodka must not have s discernible taste or flavor, I would never use an expensive vodka in a drink where its subtle (and expensive) attributes could not be appreciated. And this was such a case. This recipe was very drinkable but intense enough you could possibly use it in various cocktail recipes as a flavor ingredient.

The Rye Recipe – This one also had intense flavors but the cherry flavor was a bit less intense than in the Vodka Recipe. The use of rye whiskey also gave it a much a more complex flavor. There was a lot more going on in your mouth than the simpler and very intense cherry flavor of the Vodka Recipe. The rye whiskey came through in a very subtle way that complimented the flavor of the cherries. It was not an in-your-face whiskey experience at all.

Conclusions – While both recipes are very drinkable, and it is quite probable that some would prefer one over the other either way, my choice leans heavily to the more complex Rye Recipe. If I were using the cherry bounce as a flavor element in some cocktail, I might favor the Vodka Recipe for that purpose. Otherwise, for sipping, the Rye Recipe wins for me.

What next? – We scale up the recipe for a larger batch. I will make the Rye Recipe with a few adjustments to my test version. For one, I will not cook the mash for twenty minutes. At twenty minutes, the sugars were beginning to turn into syrup. I think ten minutes might work just fine.

Other experiments? – My dad almost certainly used a different recipe from these two. Unfortunately, he isn’t around to ask about that, and we can find no record of his original recipe. One thing that makes me suspect his was different is I am pretty sure he did not use added alcohol like the two recipes above. The reason I believe that is he had fermentation going on in his version. Once he corked the bottle too tightly, and it blew the top off, scaring the wits out of our maid who was washing dishes right next to it. The added alcohol seems to inhibit that because it kills any yeast present, preventing fermentation. These recipes would more accurately be called “infusions.” If I can come up with a recipe that I think is closer to my dad’s I will run another experiment.

Meanwhile, I will enjoy what I have so far. Cheers!


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Cherry Bounce Update #1

I wrote of my Cherry Bounce experiment where I am attempting to reproduce my father’s recipe here. Not having his original recipe, I used a modified version of a recipe attributed to Martha Washington.

What I did not mention in that post is I later added a second experiment using an old recipe from a friend’s French mother, although slightly modified to accommodate my available supplies. I will call that one my Roy Recipe in honor of Mrs. Roy. She used wild cherries from her own yard. Not having a cherry tree in my backyard, I used dried, tart, pie cherries. Her recipe called for vodka instead of whiskey or brandy and not cooking the mash. So I have two jars set aside to rest for three months.

Well, I couldn’t wait any longer. I know, it has been slightly less than two weeks, but I had to taste them.

I could drink them now, and probably will next week for Christmas. The Martha Washington recipe with the cooked mash and Sazerac Rye whiskey is rich in flavors and complex, much of which comes from the rye whiskey. The Roy Recipe is less complex due to the vodka but is still quite good. Without the MW version to compare to, you would like it a lot. But I think I much prefer the more complex Martha Washington version. I’m pretty sure that one or a version of it will be the basis of my next and larger batch I’ll make after Christmas.

I will allow others to taste both at Christmas and let you know what comes out of that.


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Cherry Bounce

My dad, Dr. MB Casteix, used to make cherry bounce. His foray into creating adult beverages began when he was quite young. Since he started college two years earlier than most, having skipped two grades, he must have been younger than 16 on his first attempt because he was still living at home with his parents. At that time they were living on Bourbon Street in the building that is now the Famous Door Bar. It was a pharmacy at then, and the family lived above it. I wrote about his cherry bounce escapades here.

I decided I would like to attempt to recreate MB’s cherry bounce, but I don’t have his recipe and have no idea how he made it. I did a search online and found a few recipes, including one that is attributed to Martha Washington.

I did know one thing about MB’s recipe, and that was that it evidently continued to ferment in the bottle. In that linked post above, there was a recalled incident of the top blowing off the bottle and scaring the hell out of our maid. The recipes I found called for adding bourbon, rye, or brandy to the cooked cherry mash then storing that for three months. The alcohol should prevent any further fermenting, I would think. But I have to go with what I have.

So…I created a modified version of Martha’s recipe in smaller test proportions and cooked up a batch. The attached pic is the cherry mash before adding the rye whiskey. Unfortunately, we will have to wait three months to see if it is any good.

So, stand by…


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The Perfect Sazerac Cocktail

SazeracCocktailThis is a continuation of my recent post A Short History of the Sazerac Cocktail.

The Sazeracs Ethan drank in The Last Day of Forever and An Eternity of Four Years were not as sophisticated as the modern versions. Sazeracs in the 1850s and 1860s were probably only Sazerac Cognac, a couple dashes of Peychaud’s Bitters and some sugar. While ice was available then, the drink was more likely served at room temperature.

The modern Sazerac is not an easy drink to make and requires a bit of ritual. While a well-made Sazerac is a delightful drink, a poorly made Sazerac is truly awful. Many bars and restaurants in New Orleans make good Sazeracs, and some not so good. A safe bet to have one is at the Sazerac Bar in the Roosevelt Hotel. You can use theirs to gauge what a good Sazerac should taste like. Or, make one according to my recipe.

The original (modern) Sazerac consists of five simple ingredients: Sazerac Rye Whiskey (I use Sazerac Rye 6YO), simple syrup, Peychaud’s Bitters, a sliver of lemon peel (the yellow part, not the pulpy white part or the juice), and good quality ice. You will also need two heavy-bottomed, Old Fashioned glasses, a teaspoon to measure and stir with, a two-ounce jigger, and a cocktail strainer of some sort. There are variations on this ingredient list; some use Angostura Bitters along with the Peychaud’s. While that is a common practice these days, that is not the original (modern) recipe.

You must prepare ahead. One of the two glasses needs to go into the freezer for at least 30 minutes to chill down. In a pinch, you can pack it with ice and let it chill that way, but the freezer method is much preferred. You must also prepare the simple syrup far enough ahead so it can come to room temperature or even be chilled. I make small batches and store mine in a jar in the refrigerator. They say it keeps for up to a week, but I have kept it a bit longer.

Lane’s Sazerac Cocktail Recipe Secret #1: Most make simple syrup using white refined sugar, but I have recently experimented with Organic Turbinado Raw Sugar, which is partially refined sugar. It retains some of the natural molasses flavor of raw sugar. That little hint of molasses adds a wonderful subtle bouquet and flavor to the Sazerac. I make all my Sazeracs with Turbinado Raw Sugar simple syrup these days.

Simple syrup is easy to make, but you must be careful or you will have a sticky mess to clean up. I make mine in the jar I am going to store it in, and I suggest you use a cooking container that you will not fill to more than one fourth. (Why in a moment.) Mix one part Turbinado Raw Sugar (or white sugar) with one part bottled or filtered water by volume. I usually make only a two-tablespoon batch (two tablespoons sugar and two tablespoons of water). Using only a teaspoon of simple syrup in each Sazerac, this is more than enough for my relatively infrequent needs. Mix it as best you can, but much of the sugar will not dissolve. Next, the mix goes into the microwave or on the stove. I use the microwave because it is faster.

VERY IMPORTANT: You must not leave the cooking simple syrup unattended. Once it starts boiling, it is like a volcano erupting, only much faster. You must stop the cooking before it erupts all over the inside of your microwave! This is why I suggest the total contents not exceed one fourth of the cooking container.

Cooking time will depend on how much is being made. Stop the cooking as soon as it begins boiling. Take it out and stir it to dissolve the sugar. One trip through the microwave will probably not be enough to dissolve all the sugar. Stick it back in and bring it to a boil again. It will boil sooner this time. Take it out and stir. Make sure all the sugar is completely dissolved. Twice usually does it for me, but if a third trip into the microwave is needed, then do it. You can, of course, make simple syrup the old fashioned way in a pot on the stove. Bring it to a very low boil and stir as it cooks. Once all the sugar dissolves, take it off the heat to cool.

If made with Turbinado Raw sugar, the resulting simple syrup will have the color of motor oil. That is because of the molasses content of the sugar. This has to cool before you use it. Once it reaches room temperature, I cap it and stick it into the refrigerator to be used when needed. It will hold for at least a week.

The third ingredient that needs pre-prep is the lemon peel and use good fresh lemons. As mentioned, you want only the yellow part of the peeling and none of the white pulpy part. You are after only the oils in that yellow peel. Use a sharp knife and carefully shave off a strip about a quarter to a half-inch wide and an inch to two inches long. You can experiment with size. I prefer a larger peel.

Lane’s Sazerac Cocktail Recipe Secret #2: Recently, I started experimenting with orange peel instead of lemon peel, and I like the very subtle flavor the orange peel adds. Lemon peel is traditional, but try both and see which you prefer. Whether lemon or orange, you need good quality fruit to harvest the peel from.

Gather your ingredients and get ready to build a fabulous Sazerac. Everything should be at hand and ready to grab except the frozen glass, which I leave in the freezer until the last possible moment.

Step 1 – In the unfrozen Old Fashioned glass, add one teaspoon of your simple syrup, three dashes of Peychaud’s Bitters, and two ounces of Sazerac Rye Whiskey. I use Sazerac Rye 6YO (SPAR did the package), but their Antique Collection Sazerac Rye 18YO, the winner of American Whiskey of the Year (SPAR did this package, too), makes a Sazerac to die for. However, you may have to arrange bank financing to buy a bottle of the 18YO, assuming you can even find it. It is usually released in October and gone before the end of the month. If you want a bottle, make friends with your local liquor store owner. (You might want to consider bribing them.) And expect to pay above MSRP. It is that good and that popular.

Next, fill the Old Fashioned glass containing the ingredients to the top with a good quality clear ice and stir (not shake) vigorously until the ice is partially melted. This usually takes about ten seconds. I stop when I see the ice has melted enough the cocktail is nearly covering it. Obviously, more melt means a weaker drink. Experiment and find your perfect melt level.

Step 2 – Now, you must move fast! Retrieve the frozen glass from the freezer (or dump the ice from it if you chilled it that way). I usually have my wife hovering near the freezer awaiting my call for the glass. Best to do the following over a sink, because you might spill some of the Herbsaint. Put about a tablespoon or less of Herbsaint into the frozen glass. Rotate the glass so the Herbsaint coats all around the inside of the glass as far up to the rim as you can get it. (This is where you are likely to spill some.) Work fast; you want that glass to stay cold! Dump any remaining Herbsaint out. You want only a hint of the Herbsaint remaining in the glass. Too much will ruin the drink.

Step 3 – Using the cocktail strainer, strain the mixed cocktail into the frozen Herbsaint–coated glass. Some drink it “on the rocks.” That is not the original, but if that is “your perfect Sazerac,” go for it.

Step 4 – Wipe the rim of the glass with the lemon (or orange) peel then twist the peel over the drink to squeeze out some of the oils. I toss it in for good measure, but that is not the original. Some say never toss it in but hook it over the rim of the glass as a garnish giving off a citrus aroma as you sip the drink.

Step 5 – After all that work, you must be tired? Head for your favorite recliner and rest from your efforts while you enjoy your perfect Sazerac Cocktail.

I think I hear a Sazerac calling me now?

The Sazerac Cocktail name is a trademark of the Sazerac Company of New Orleans.

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