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Monster in a Glass
Not Only History of Cocktails, but History Through Cocktails
Category: History
Location: http://blackliverproject.com/
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May 29, 2017 01:17 PM PDT

Some say the Brandy Crusta is distinct enough to be considered an entirely different type of drink than a cocktail. Others say it is just a variation on or an evolution of a true cocktail. When it really comes down to it, having this kind of argument is just going to end up with you having a warm drink and a sad face. Going all the way back to the 1840s, this is one of the older drinks we have explored. The basic ingredients of brandy, lemon, lemon peel and the sugar crusted rim seem to stay consistent as time goes on, but the other ingredients start changing almost as soon as it starts showing up in recipe books. Curacao and maraschino liqueur make appearances in different recipes, as does gum syrup and various types of bitters, and hell, throw some fruit in there for good measure!

For once, we have a drink that does not have a dispute over who created. With the great majority of information pointing to Joseph Santini out of New Orleans and no one else claiming ownership, we should be done looking at this one, right? Well, exactly where, when, and why he created it depends on the source. We find that a lot of the details on the origin require some parsing and piecing to get closer to the truth. So we dig deeper into Santini and just what he was doing in mid-19th century New Orleans. Was he a bartender? Bar manager? Café owner? Tobaccoist? Wine importer? Yes, probably all of that. And add super-businessman, mason, and reformer who cared a whole lot about New Orleans.

We don’t care if it is a cocktail or not, so join us as we try to nail down the origin story of the Brandy Crusta.

January 18, 2016 12:45 PM PST

passion fruit flowerThis was a fun episode.  The cocktail itself had a fairly ordinary background, so we made the most of it by disparaging passion fruit and spotlighting the UK Bartenders' Guild. The drink itself appears first (and only) in the Cafe Royal cocktail book which for the first time we discuss as part of the drinks compilation project the UK Bartenders' Guild took on in the 1930s. This drink is itself remarkable because it's the only one we've seen that features passion fruit juice and the Cafe Royal cocktail book is equally remarkable because it's the only cocktail recipe book that features passion fruit juice at the time...and it does so 37 times. So we decided to focus on passion fruit since we knew nothing about it. We also sample some real grenadine and orange flower water. The Avenue cocktail contains:

  • 1 oz bourbon
  • 1 oz Calvados
  • 1 oz passion fruit
  • 1 dash of grenadine
  • 1 dash orange flower water

Despite the lack of information on this cocktail, it was delicious. The team generally did enjoy this drink, appreciating a break from gin for this fruit forward beverage with a bourbon base. Nicole also pointed out where one could find the Passion of the Christ in the passion fruit flower.

March 24, 2015 10:48 AM PDT

Since our researcher Jason Kruse has joined us on the project our episodes have really stepped up... so much so that we're actually refuting prevailing history with hard evidence. This cocktail is not about an actor; it's about a US Vice President getting himself embroiled in undeserved political drama; a classic comedic story tied to a classic lesser-known cocktail

March 17, 2015 09:52 AM PDT

Jay and Cameron chat about a cocktail from 1882 and the East India Company, including Japanese ronin, waterboarding, and how Queen Vicky got to India and Rachel, Bethany and Kevin all love the drink as they slowly slip into puddle form from one of the stronger drinks we've tried.

March 11, 2015 11:09 AM PDT

Cameron had a cold and Rachel has a serious love for hot liquids so we invited Michael at the Brixton to introduce us to the hot toddies he serves at his bar. Along the way we learn what the hell "toddy" is.

March 04, 2015 12:05 PM PST

This hundred year old drink has got nothing but the name. It's a lime juice monstrosity from Trader Vic's that everyone loved at the tasting table, except Cameron with his well established disdain for all things lime.

February 23, 2015 02:36 PM PST

A cocktail with an adorable name and a kooky story. We sample some calvados and experience Swedish punsch for the first time. Also, we welcome Ms. Bethany Lang to the podcast as a regular member of the tasting team

February 11, 2015 01:56 PM PST

So having done the Mint Julep, what more is there to say about derbies?

We take a look at the Derby Cocktail which poses a few problems when trying to talk history about it. First, there are numerous recipes for Derby Cocktails, and none seem to be related to the others. Second, derby could be referring to any number of things like the Kentucky Derby, derby races, derby hats, Derby, England, or the Derby restaurant. So which is it? All and none!

The many derbies generally have a common source though in Mr. Edward Smith-Stanley, 12th Earl of Derby. He arranged with his chums an annual horse race, and a flip of a coin determined the name. But further investigation into the father of the modern derby revealed steamy courtly intrigues in the lives of 18th century English nobility involving illicit affairs and false gardeners.

Due to the popularity of derbies at the time, it is possible that different versions were created independently in honor of horse racing. Maybe the recipes in print became more well-known, beating out the others. There has to be a winner though, so this is the version we tried:

  • 1 oz bourbon
  • 1/2 oz sweet vermouth
  • 1/2 oz orange curaçao
  • 3/4 oz fresh lime juice

This cocktail was definitely one of the more challenging ones for me to enjoy.  Kevin and Rachel, both fans of bourbon and lime, thought this cocktail was wonderful. The lime juice was simply too overpowering; all I tasted was lime and for me that is not a good thing.  But I have to admit, trying it gave me a sense of how much citrus juice was appropriate for drinks of that time.

January 27, 2015 12:10 PM PST

The Delicious Sour. I like a cocktail that tells you all you need to know right in the name. Sours are a family of cocktail going back a long way, with notable features of putting a lime or lemon peel in the glass and an egg white.

We also dive into the life of William “The Only William” Schmidt, a bartender who some call the “godfather of mixology.” Acrobatic bartending feats, cranking out on-the-fly cocktails on a near daily basis, and creating cocktails with ten or more ingredients may have earned William this posthumous title. His recipe books are filled with hundreds of recipes and apparently there are tons more that never even made it to print.

Join us this episode where we discuss this prolific proto-mixologist and one of his creations. We also talk Applejack, a colonial American apple brandy with an interesting method of creation and some history of its own.

The ingredients in the drink are as follows:


  • 2 oz Applejack
  • 2 oz Peach Brandy
  • 1 oz fresh lime juice
  • 1 barspoon sugar
  • 1 egg white
  • Splash of soda
January 22, 2015 12:59 PM PST

I chatted with one of the BLP's regular contributors, Mr. Charles Brinkman. We talk about beer and then we talk about talking about beer. And then we talk about some other things.

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