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John’s Fancy Booze, No. 7

Remember John?  That super hip global mixology loving pal of ours?  He may have left us for South Africa but he’s still sharing his amazing concoctions with us from the other side of the world.  This time, he’s corralled his pal Dawn Greensides for photo duties and some of his new buddies in Pretoria for tasting duties (we’re more than a little jealous). Thanks John! We miss you!

John's-Fancy-Booze-HeaderCocktails have a way of bringing – and keeping – people together.  Sure, there are the obvious ways; as Dorothy Parker famously said, “I like to have a martini, two at the very most. After three I’m under the table, and after four I’m under my host.” But beyond serving as a social lubricant, they can provide a common ground, a point of interest over which to bond and connect. Case in point, here I am again, all the way from Pretoria, re-connecting with wonderful friends from the Penh. All thanks to cocktails. It’s a beautiful thing. Plus, they’re tasty and make you feel good.

Following the themes of connections and delectability, I submit to C+T’s readers the Dawa. A popular Kenyan beverage – “dawa” is Swahili for “medicine” or “magic potion” – its lineage can be traced back to the Caipirinha and Caipiroska, with a slight nod to the estimable Mint Julep. I was introduced to the Dawa by a long lost family friend, Jeremy, who happened to be in Pretoria a little while back and requested the drink at a braii. And now he’s showing up on this blog. See, connections!Dawn-Greensides---Jeremy-in-Red-Shirt-with-Drink

Dawn-Greensides---Bring-people-togetherTraditionally the Dawa is comprised of vodka, lime wedges, brown sugar, honey, and crushed ice, with a dawa stick thrown into the mix (think combination honey dipper and swizzle stick). Instructions seem to vary, but it appears that the traditional way to make the drink is to build the limes, sugar, vodka and ice in an old fashioned glass, dip the dawa stick in honey and then stir it into the drink, further muddling the limes while you’re at it. The drink can be a little sweet, but a touch of soda water helps mellow it out while adding a little effervescence, and you can always add more lime or vodka to taste.

John's-Drinks-27-April-2016-10Not one to be beholden to tradition, I couldn’t help but tinker, and the end result is what I like to call the Dark Dawa. In place of honey and brown sugar I substituted honey syrup and a simple syrup made with unrefined muscovado sugar. This serves to cut down on the sweetness a skosh, adds a deep molasses flavor to the mix, and helps ensure the drink blends properly. While the dawa stick and associated ritual adds a wonderful aesthetic, I have two issues with it. First, I don’t have a dawa stick, and my muddler is way to big to serve as a garnish. Second, honey is difficult to mix well in cocktails, especially in a drink that is built in the glass rather than shaken. Muddling the limes directly with the honey syrup and muscovado simple syrup prior to adding the ice goes a long way towards resolving both issues.

Dark dawa and John! We miss you!

Dark dawa and John! We miss you!

The biggest change in the Dark Dawa, though, is the move away from vodka in favor of a dark rum. Vodka has its uses, but in cocktails I find it disappears too easily behind whatever other ingredients are incorporated. If you like to taste your booze, try the Dawa with some dark rum and you’ll be pleasantly surprised how well the rum, limes, honey and muscovado sugar blend together.  And in a way it brings the drink back a little closer to its origins in the Caipirinha. See, more connections!



2 oz vodka
2-4 lime wedges
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1-2 teaspoons honey
crushed ice

In an old fashioned glass, add the lime wedges (enough to fill the bottom of the glass) and brown sugar and muddle lightly. Fill the glass with crushed ice, add vodka and stir. Dip your dawa stick in honey and stir into the glass, muddling limes further. If you don’t have a dawa stick or a suitable stand-in, add the honey at the same time as the sugar. Fill glass with more ice or with soda water, if desired.

Dark Dawa and Friends

Dark Dawa and Friends

Dark Dawa

2 oz dark rum
2-4 lime wedges
.5 oz honey syrup*
.25 oz muscovado simple syrup**
crushed ice

In an old fashioned glass, add the lime wedges (see above), honey syrup, and muscovado simple syrup, and muddle.  Add the rum, stir, fill with crushed ice and stir again.  Top off with ice to fill the glass, or add soda water.

*Honey Syrup

.75 cup honey
.25 cup hot water

In a tea kettle bring water to a near boil, then measure out required amount and pour into a mixing bowl. Add honey, then stir with a whisk until fully mixed then store in a sealed container. Makes about 1 cup, and should last indefinitely.

**Muscovado Simple Syrup

1 cup water
1 cup muscovado sugar

In a sealed container add the water and sugar and shake vigorously until mixed. If you’re feeling a little lazy, you can use hot water to help speed up the process.

Thanks for yet another delicious post, John!  We can’t wait to see what you cook up next.  In the meantime, you can check out the rest of John’s tasty things he’s made for us here, or at his blog, Alchemy & a Twist!

All photos by Dawn Greensides. Please request permission for use.  We are not liable for the extreme thirst that results from this blogpost.

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Happy Hour at Deco

Deco---The-Happiest-HourLast Thursday night, we attended the inaugural Happy Hour at Deco in Phnom Penh. If you live in Cambodia, and you do not know about Deco, you are doing it wrong. It’s a fantastic restaurant, run by wonderful people and one of the most consistently delicious places in the city. You should go there right now.

01---Cait-and-MenuJohn, our resident booze guru, joined Deco’s owner, Rob, behind the bar to mix, shake and stir a range of creative, and crazy delicious cocktails. On the menu were classics, like the Dark and Stormy, and what might be the best Old Fashioned in the city. But they also put in a few twists, with John’s signature Kampot Fizz and the Riverside Reviver, which should probably be consumed daily. The crowd kept them busy throughout the evening, and it was wonderful to see so many of our favorite people in one place to support these guys. The night was a huge success, and Deco will now be hosting Happy Hour, every weekday, from 5-7pm.

Deco---I'll-Have-What-He's-MakingDeco---Men-at-Work Deco---Lin-and-Riverside-Reviver Deco - Funny Funny Ha HaFor more information on Deco, visit their website and Facebook page

To see more of John and his cocktail adventures, visit Alchemy & a Twist, and click here.

Oh right, and here’s a GIF.Men-at-Work-GIF

All photos by Tiffany Tsang.  Please request permission for use. C+T are not liable for profound devotion to the Kampot Fizz.

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C + T + John’s Fancy Booze, No. 6


Hey everyone. We are on a LOT of airplanes this week, so we have enlisted our wonderful friends to do our job for us. Get ready for guest posts all week! We will start off with John’s Fancy Booze, No 6. We hope looking at cocktails on a Monday morning gets your week off on the right foot. John's-Fancy-Booze-6-HeaderFor the last two months, I’ve been hosting an intimate gathering of friends and cocktail fiends every two weeks or so in an effort to squeeze one final bit of fun out of our weekends. Dubbed “Sunday Cocktail Club”, the evenings started off as a casual get together in which I subjected friends to recipes I wanted to try but hadn’t had an opportunity to experiment with. Since those first evenings, Sunday Cocktail Club has morphed into a full-blown affair, frequently replete with themes, curated drink menus, and, from time to time, increasingly elaborate – and delicious – food spreads.

Point in case, our latest effort on September 13. With my lovely, talented, and amazing wife DJ back in town for a rare visit, we decided to do a New Orleans-themed affair as an homage to her home town. DJ cooked up her outstanding jambalaya and red beans & rice, as well as delicious beignets and pralines for those with a sweet tooth. Guests contributed a host of treats as well, from home made dips and hummus to a broad array of cheeses and meats.

Menu-and-John-ShakingFaced with such delectable edibles to compete with, I had to step up my game on the cocktail menu. In keeping with the New Orleans theme, I put together a menu of pre and post-Prohibition classics; in the spirit of past Sunday Cocktail Clubs, I also wanted to provide a range of options to appeal to every drinker, while also providing a broad illustration of the evolutionary history of the cocktail. Including the Brandy Crusta – a predecessor of the sour style and staples of that category, like the Side Car and the Margarita – was a no brainer, as was the Hurricane. While Pat O’Briens, the progenitor of the drink, now uses pre-made mixes to make its Hurricanes, you can be sure nothing of the sort is used at the Sunday Cocktail Club; with a base that includes passion fruit syrup, it’s also a perfect and emblematic drink for steamy Phnom Penh.


Ramos’ Gin Fizz getting dished out.

The Hurricane was easily the crowd favorite of the night, but a close runner up was the Ramos Gin Fizz.  Invented in the late 1880s by Henry “Carl” Ramos, the drink was a signature at Ramos’ Imperial Cabinet Saloon and later the Stag Saloon, both staple watering holes in pre-Prohibition era New Orleans. Incorporating both egg white and heavy cream, the drink requires a lot of shaking. Ramos was known to employ “shaker boys” who would work the shaker tin for upwards of 15 minutes, according to some accounts. Without shaker boys on hand, I enlisted the help of the guests who ordered the drink. I like to think they took greater satisfaction in the drink having helped prepare it.


From left: John’s Hurricane and Sazerac.

Balancing out the menu were spirit heavy drinks like the Vieux Carré and Arnaud’s Special, both able representatives of rye and Scotch cocktails, respectively. No New Orleans’-themed cocktail evening could be complete without the most NOLA drink of them all: the Sazerac. An indisputable classic, much ink has been spilt on the history and attributes of this wily rye concoction. In fact, you can read my partner David’s take on it over at A&T, if you’re so

Ultimately, Sunday Cocktail Club is about getting together with friends and like-minded folks to have a few drinks and a little fun before the coming week, and maybe even learn a little something about the drinks and cocktail culture along the way. If you’re interested in joining, feel free to email me at sundaycocktailclubPP (at) for more information.

Thanks for the most excellent post John!  He’ll be back again in October when he brings his fancy bartender outfit to another watering hole in Phnom Penh.  In the meantime, check out the rest of John’s fancy pants concoctions here, and his fabulous mixology blog, Alchemy & a Twist.

All photos by Tiffany Tsang. Please request permission for use.  C+T are no liable for any inebriation that follows following the instructions of this post.

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C + T + John’s Fancy Booze, No. 5

It’s time again for one of our favorite contributors, John, to show us how to make a delicious cocktail. He got back to basics with this one, and explored the details of the classic Tom Collins. A group of friends went to Samai Distillery and Tiff took these gorgeous photos while Cait sat in her room in London, aching with FOMO. Ahem, anyway. We’ll let John tell you all about it.

John's-Fancy-Booze-No-5-HeaderMonths ago a fellow C+T reader and contributor, the lovely Kiira, approached me with a dilemma: how do you make a Tom Collins? I knew enough to tell her the basics – gin, lemon juice, sugar, soda water – but didn’t have much advice to give. While I have a great deal of affection for the G&T – and have spent a fair amount of time consuming them and pondering its finer points – the Tom Collins is not something I ever got into. But it’s never too late to learn, and so Tiff and I rounded up a few friends at the Samai distillery to do a full immersion session on a recent afternoon.

A Little History

Accounts for the Tom Collins origin story vary. David Embry attributes the name to the type of gin used (more on that below), but that seems dubious. According to David Wondrich, who has opined on the subject in various spaces, the Tom Collins has a long, occasionally disreputable, and storied history. It likely originated as a punch in the bowl of English barkeep John Collins before migrating across the Atlantic and landing in New York. Of particular interest, though, is his account of the drink’s rise to prominence in the US in the late 19th century, during which time it evolved, in name at the very least, from a John Collins to the drink we know today:


That Americans would respond to a prank resulting in a free – and delicious – beverage with agitation and aggression says a lot about our national id, but I digress.

The Gin

This is a very straightforward drink, but also provides a great mechanism for tasting gins. In the name of science, we sampled an Hayman’s Old Tom variation; a classic London Dry, Broker’s; a lighter, more floral variation of London Dry, the popular Bombay Sapphire; and, a bridge between London and New World gins, Bulldog.

Old Tom Gin is frequently described as the missing link between Genever gin – a maltier variation originating in 16th century Holland – and London Dry. While it ultimately fell out of favor until recently, for a period in the mid to late 19th century Old Tom style gins dominated the American cocktail world. In all likelihood it was the gin originally used in the Tom Collinses that most Americans were drinking at the end of the century. While there are no real hard and fast rules to its production, Old Tom is generally sweeter than London Dry. Hayman’s version, one of the first to recently reenter the market, still connects with a solid punch of juniper and herbal flavors, but softens the blow with a hint of sweetness and a citrusy aroma. If you don’t think you’re a gin fan, this is actually a great way to get acclimated with this liquor before moving on to a classic London Dry.

A relatively new player on the London scene, Bulldog uses a broad array of botanicals in the compounding process, including lotus leaves, poppy, and longan, a cousin of the lychee. It has a gentler, mellower flavor profile, and in more complex drinks it can be overwhelmed a little bit. That said, it is well complemented by lemon juice and is an excellent choice in a Tom Collins. Like the Hayman’s, Bulldog would be a great gateway gin for those not yet sold on the merits of the spirit.

For the sake of brevity, you can find my thoughts on Broker’s and Bombay Sapphire here.

Soda-Water-and-LemonThe Sweet and Sour

We’ve written before about how to make simply syrup. I like a 1:1 ratio of water to sugar, shaken together in a container rather than mixed over heat. As you increase the amount of sugar, not only will the syrup get sweeter but it also get thicker, which will affect the viscosity of your drink.

The lemon juice was squeezed fresh prior to making the drinks, as it should be. There is actually a decent amount of research out there that indicates lemon (and lime) juice may be best between 4 and 10 hours after juicing, as opposed to immediately after; both options are preferable to anything more than a day old. Regardless, fresh is best, especially in a drink like this.

The Soda

Soda water options in Phnom Penh are somewhat limited, but in general when it comes to cocktails I prefer Singha. I find it has a higher level of carbonation than Schweppes, so you can maximize the effervescence in the drink without overly diluting it.

John-and-CupsThe Drink

Variations abound, but the general recipe is as follows, served in a Collins glass over ice:

  • 2 oz gin
  • 1 oz lemon juice
  • 1 oz simple syrup
  • Soda water

You can shake the gin, syrup, and juice in advance then pour it in the glass over ice and add the soda. If you don’t want to deal with the extra fuss, building the drink in the serving glass and simply stirring it is fine, too (and my preferred method in this case). Finish it off with a lemon twist dropped into the drink.

For our tasting, I used a slightly smaller glass that only holds about 8 ounces total. In order to fairly judge the various gins, I also consistently poured just 3 ounces of soda water. Personally, I found this perfect – you get to enjoy the pleasures of a tall drink without it being so big that by the time you’ve had the last drop it is overly diluted and, heaven forbid, warm.

I also deviated from the recipe depending on which gin was being used. With the Old Tom and the Bulldog, for example, I reduced the simple syrup to ¼ ounce and ½ ounce, respectively.

Tom-Collins-GridThe group generally preferred the Bulldog variation, with the Hayman’s a close second. It was crisp, citrusy, and refreshing, with a great balance of herbal, sweet and sour. The beauty of the drink is its simplicity and malleability, making it easily adaptable to personal taste. Don’t be afraid to play around and find your own perfect recipe!

Thanks for the post John! Check out more of John’s Fancy Booze and more on his mixology at Alchemy & a Twist!

All photos by Tiffany Tsang. Please request permission for use.

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C + T + John’s Fancy Booze, No. 4


I can’t believe Cait had to miss out on this month’s boozy post.  She would usually have a better preamble for John’s concoctions, but all I can say is that on a Sunday afternoon in Phnom Penh, we assembled a tiny group of rum makers and enthusiasts (including the lovely Lin), had both a chemistry and history lesson, and got a little tipsy.  Big ol’ thanks to Daniel and Antonio for letting us invade their space (in the daytime!) and we look forward to some future collabs and photoshoots!

Bottle’s in your court now, John!

The fine folks over at Samai Distillery were kind enough to host us at their amazing distillery and bar for this version of our Fancy Drinks get together. I really can’t think of a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

10---Samai-and-Backs-of-John,-Lin-and-DanielSamai is the first and only rum distillery operating in Cambodia. They also open up their distillery on Thursday nights to serve thirsty Phnom Penhers.  While they are still in the process of developing their flagship premium aged rum (along with a number of other varieties), they are definitely on to something great. Samai follows the classic Spanish method for making rum, distilling the alcohol from locally produced molasses (a byproduct of the sugar refining process) in their traditional, handmade 1800s copper stills before aging in sherry casks. Comparable rums – in terms of process – are those made in Venezuela, Cuba, or Nicaragua, such as Bacardi or Flor de Caña.

Rum-in-Bottle-and-BarrellThe pairing with Samai could not have come at a more perfect time. I’ve long remembered a challenge from a C+T reader to incorporate palm sugar into a drink; I would feel a pang of guilt every time I saw a box of Cambodian palm sugar on the counter whenever I would make a drink, left unused day after day. Recently I was perusing a copy of Beachbum Berry’s Potions of the Caribbean and came across a recipe for a drink called Ti Punch, and the seedling for this post was planted; Tiff made the connection with Samai, and here we are.

Samai-SpaceThe original recipe for the Ti Punch calls for sirop de canne. Making sirop de canne, which involves a reduction of fresh sugar juice, is a messy and time consuming process. We’ve done a few labor intensive posts in the past and I wanted to keep things simple this time, so we cheated a tiny bit. Following Beachbum Berry’s advice, I made palm sugar simple syrup instead (see below for details). If you’ve ever made simple syrup with white, processed sugar, you’ll see and taste the difference immediately. The palm syrup has a dark, rich, coffee color with a touch of froth when shaken and a deep, earthy flavor. This is not something you add simply to sweeten a drink – you’re looking to add some heavy flavors, too.

John-at-Work-and-NotesThe original recipe also calls for rum, agricole, rather than the Spanish style rum that Samai makes. Agricole is distilled from fresh sugar cane juice (rather than molasses), so it too has a much earthier flavor profile compared to most rums you may be familiar with. Since the palm juice is not processed before fermentation, you get a lot more of the natural, grassy flavors of the palm as well as the flavors from the soil it was grown in. It is a difference that is readily apparent when tasting side by side with a molasses-based rum, not unlike comparing Scotch whisky and Kentucky bourbon; they are readily distinguishable, though one is not necessarily better than the other and both have their uses.

Lin-and-Ti-PunchWe did a side by side testing of the Ti Punch made with an agricole from Haiti and Samai’s aged rum. Both were smooth and excellent, with the rums contrasting, and complemented by, the lime juice and palm syrup in different ways. The Samai Ti Punch was certainly the sweeter of the two, with notes of honey and fruit readily apparent. If I were to use Samai again, I would experiment with a touch less of the simple syrup.

Regardless of the rum you use it is an excellent drink, the perfect companion for a July evening whiled away on a balcony in Phnom Penh as the summer rains fall on the city.



  • 2 oz rum
  • 5 oz palm sugar simple syrup*
  • One lime
  • 2-3 medium-large ice cubes

Cut the lime in half and squeeze both halves directly into an Old Fashioned glass (pulp, juice and all). Leave one spent half in the glass. Use the other half to rub the rim of the glass with the rind, and then discard. Add the syrup, rum, and ice to the glass and stir to chill.

*Palm Sugar Simple Syrup

  • Three parts Cambodian Palm Sugar
  • Two parts hot water

Heat the water close to a boil then mix with the palm sugar in a clean container, stirring frequently until the sugar is dissolved. Seal and store in the refrigerator, and it should keep for 2-3 weeks.

Thanks for the most excellent post John!  He’ll be back again in August when he brings us not just one but four different cocktails!  In the meantime, check out the rest of John’s fancy pants concoctions here, and his fabulous mixology blog, Alchemy & a Twist.

All photos by Tiffany Tsang. Please request permission for use.  C+T are no liable for any inebriation that follows following the instructions of this post.


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C + T + John’s Fancy Booze, No. 3


Bacon has no season. Pumpkin is all up in your business in October, ramps flood the menus in April, and it’s all corn and peaches in the summer. Seasonal things are amazing, but bacon stays with you through it all. It’s the last thing that you would logically think to eat when you are already sweating like a pig (zing!), and yet its still welcome in all forms. One of those forms is in whiskey.

We got together with our buddy John for another cocktail class this month, and he showed us how to put bacon in booze. (Isn’t this guy great?) This drink tastes like the best parts of breakfast, with flavors of pig, chocolate, pecan, orange, and coffee. It’s basically a balanced meal. Totally fine to trade in your green juice for this one, same thing.

Over to you, John!

Choo Choo, Chrou

Bacon-BourbonThis is sort of a McGuire original, although I borrowed heavily from Jaime Bourdreau’s Raising the Bar segment on fat washing. He provides a fantastic hack for infusing bourbon with fatty flavors, like bacon, which can be tricky because the fat can ruin the texture of the bourbon. You’ll also see I took his idea of pairing bacon with chocolate (okay, not his idea, but I credit him for applying it to cocktails, rightly or not) and ran with it.

The name: Chrou is Khmer for pig. My daughter is a big fan of trains right now and is frequently heard saying “choo choo”.  I guess I had it on the brain.Liquors

  • 1.5oz Bacon-infused Bourbon*
  • .75oz Amer Picon (a bittersweet apertif with a distinctive orange flavor; vaguely similar, though less bitter and with a thicker mouth feel than Campari)
  • 1/2 teaspoon creme de cacao
  • 1-2 dashes Alpher’s coffee-pecan bitters (courtesy of my A&T partner, David; Angostura’s is a fine replacement, but David’s bitters really help make this feel like breakfast in a bottle).

Mix the ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir until cold. Strain into an old fashioned glass (neat or on one large ice cube; this is a sipping cocktail, so I recommend going with ice) and garnish with a flamed orange twist.


*Bacon-infused BourbonSober-Pig

  1. Cook some bacon. Eat said bacon. Save the fat.
  2. In a wide-mouthed jar, combine bacon fat and bourbon, and let sit for one hour (this is where the flavor is infused into the bourbon);  you can shake if you want, but its not necessary. For every 1 part of fat, add 10 parts bourbon. 1 ounce of fat and 10 oz of bourbon is a good starting point.
  3. After sitting for an hour, put the container in the freezer. Within 1-2 hours, you will see solid fat frozen on top and the liquid bourbon beneath.
  4. Remove container from freezer, break the fat with a spoon, and strain into a container using a fine mesh strainer with 5-7 layers of cheese cloth on top. If you notice fat molecules floating in the bourbon, strain again.
  5. Keep bourbon in an airtight, sealed container. Theoretically bacon fat should not spoil as long as it is kept in a sealed jar and away from direct light, but if there are even tiny bits of bacon meat in the infused bourbon then you do run a risk of spoilage. If you aren’t consuming this in one sitting, best to keep in a fridge and, if its been sitting for more than a few weeks, have a sniff and a small taste before serving.

Thanks again John for the glass of fatty yum! Check out more of John’s Fancy Booze creations here, and his blog for a whole stock more!

All photos by Tiffany Tsang. Please request permission for use. And please use caution when imbibing spirits or you may wind up like the pig above.


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C + T + John’s Fancy Booze, No. 2

HeaderSo I don’t remember if we mentioned that it is hot here yet. In case we forgot to complain, it’s SO HOT WAAAAAAAAAAAA. The only upside of unreasonably high temperatures is that cold cocktails taste even better. Enter John’s Fancy Booze! This week, he made us The Avenue, a throwback cocktail that is simple and clean but full of flavor (and booze).

John is a pro and makes everything from scratch, which makes The Avenue stand out. That being said, some of the steps are pretty labor intensive. You can use store-bought simple syrup, grenadine, and passion fruit juice, but it won’t taste as fresh and amazing. We are very lucky to have John around to keep us classy. That being said, I am tempted to take about four of these out of their pretty little glasses and throw them in a Super Gulp cup with some ice and have a nice little afternoon.


The Avenue

I pulled this recipe from Ted Haigh’s “Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails.” The recipe was originally published in 1937 in the “Cafe Royal Cocktail Book”, which was written/utilized by the United Kingdom Bartenders’ Guild (UKBG). The UKBG was an important source of innovation in mixology during prohibition, when the art form was significantly hindered in the US. That also explains why this calls for calvados (French apple brandy) instead of American apple jack.

1oz Makers Mark Straight Bourbon

1oz Pére Magliore Fine Calvados (this will add a bite; for a smoother finish you can try VSOP, but it will cost you)

1oz Passion Fruit Juice*

3/4 teaspoon grenadine**

1/4 teaspoon orange flower water (careful with this, it is highly concentrated can very quickly over power the other ingredients)

Combine the ingredients, add ice, and shake until cold. Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a chilled, stemmed cocktail glass.

John's-Fancy-Booze---The-2-Faces-of-JohnThis is one drink where sticking to the proportions is critical, because each of the ingredients has a very distinct flavor. Measured correctly they complement each other nicely, but if its unbalanced you end up with a hot mess. Further to that point, when I started experimenting with this I was using Buffalo Trace Bourbon (because Cait+Tiff’s readers deserve the best), but it just didn’t taste right. I ultimately switched to the Maker’s Mark, which has a heavier flavor and stood up better to the calvados, in particular.08---Pouring

John's-Fancy-Booze---Passionfruit*Passion Fruit Juice (PFJ):

  1. Carefully cut a passion fruit in half and scoop the innards (seed, pulp, juice and all) into a blender. 2 passion fruits will yield about 1/3 cup.
  2. For one part passion fruit juice, add 3 parts water to the blender. If you have 1/3 cup passion fruit, add 1 cup of water.
  3. Blend for up to one minute to mix the water and juice and to separate the seeds. You don’t want to break the seeds, so if you notice bits of seed start to appear then stop blending.
  4. Strain through a fine mesh sieve into a container. You can also add 2-4 layers of cheese cloth to the straining process. This will help make the cocktail more clear/translucent, but whenever you strain you also diminish the flavor of the juice.
  5. Add 2-3 times more water (in this scenario, that would be 2-3 cups). As with the straining, the more water you add the more the flavor of the juice will be reduced but the cocktail will be clearer and have a lighter density/mouthfeel. I tend to lean more towards the latter, especially since PFJ can be pretty potent and can over power the other ingredients if not properly accounted for.
  6. Add sugar to taste. For the volume we used (1/3 cup passion fruit juice and 3 cups water), start with 1 tablespoon and then go from there.
  7. Note: This is homemade juice, so it will settle and separate quickly. Make sure to shake before use.


I borrowed the recipe (pom juice to simple syrup ratio) from Gary Regan’s The Joy of Mixology; the juicing and simple syrup methods came from various sources.

  1. Juice two pomegranates (yields about 7 oz):
    1. Cut off the nub on top and a small sliver at the base. Then make shallow cuts (through the skin) along the ridges, roughly corresponding to quarters. Peel off the skin to reveal the seeds.
    2. Over a large bowl, break the pomegranate up and, as best as possible, separate the seeds from the surrounding white membrane, and discard the membrane. If need be, once you’re finished breaking the pomegranate up you can fill the bowl with water; the seeds will sink and the membrane will float to the top where you can fish it out and discard.
    3. Dump the pomegranate seeds into a blender and blend for a minute or so, until liquified and pulpy.
    4. Strain the blended seeds into a bowl using a large, fine mesh sieve (same one you used for the PFJ; no cheese cloth necessary). Push around the pulp with a spoon to release as much juice as possible.
  2. Make simple syrup
    1. Unlike last time, when we were infusing the simple syrup with ginger and lime zest, there is no need to heat the simple syrup this time. Sugar is really soluble, so all you have to do is mix it with water and eventually it will dissolve on its own. You’ll also end up with a richer syrup since you aren’t breaking the sugar down with heat.
    2. In a plastic water bottle mix 1 part sugar to 1 part water. If you want a richer, thicker syrup, add more sugar. Keep in mind you will be adding the pom juice to this, so if you want a thicker syrup increase the sugar.
    3. You can speed up the mixing time by shaking, but you should just let the mixture sit for a bit so the sugar fully dissolves.
  3. Make the grenadine
    1. Mix 1 part simple syrup to 3 parts pom juice. If you stop here, this will only keep for 1-3 weeks (definitely refrigerate it to extend shelf life), so don’t make toooooo much.
    2. You can extend the shelf life further (a month or more) by adding some vodka. If you do this, start with 1 part simple syrup, 3 parts pom juice, and 1/2 part vodka and then taste. You don’t want the vodka changing the flavor too much.

Thank you, John, for making another delicious cocktail!

Photos by Tiffany Tsang.  Please request permission for use.

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C + T / John’s Fancy Booze

HeaderWe are starting a cocktail series with our awesome friend, John. He works as a development consultant in Phnom Penh, and has lived in all sorts of strange corners of the world. He appreciates a well made cocktail, and since that can be hard to find in random developing countries, he started making his own. Graced with an affinity for pulling together some of the most unlikely ingredients, John makes delicious and beautiful drinks. Last year, he and a friend launched a cocktail blog called Alchemy & A Twist. They use unique and local ingredients in their drinks, along with tributes to classic and seasonal cocktails. (We appreciate the nod to The Dude in a recent White Russian post.)

We will feature a cocktail made by John around this time each month. We encourage you to try his recipes and let us know what you think. Now, without further ado, here is John’s first recipe.

By the way, this is John.


Ingredient-SeriesThe Kampot Fizz

The Recipe
6cl – gin
2cl – lime juice
1.5tsp – ginger-lime simple syrup*
1/4tsp – kampot pepper tincture**
1/2 egg white
soda water to taste

Combine the gin, lime juice, simple syrup, and kampot tincture in a shaker and shake for 5-10 seconds. Add the egg white and shake again for 10-15 seconds, until cold. Strain into a chilled old fashioned glass and top with soda water (ice optional).06---Zest-and-Ginger 08---Juicing-Lime 22a---John-Shaken-GIF

*Ginger-Lime Syrup

Derived from Brad Parsons’ Bitters: in a medium saucepan, combine 1 cup of sugar, 1 cup of water, mature ginger (two 4-inch knobs, peeled and sliced into coins), and the zest of 2 limes. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally.

Note from C+T: This stuff is gold. Save leftovers and put it into soda water, on ice cream, or just straight into your mouth.

**Kampot Pepper Tincture
Soak one cup of black Kampot pepper in two cups of grain alcohol (Everclear is a good option) for one week, shaking vigorously once a day. Strain the peppers out, crush them using a mortar and pestle, and return them to the alcohol for another week (or more to taste), shaking vigorously once a day. Strain using a cheesecloth and store in a glass container.

Note from C+T: If you don’t have Kampot pepper where you are, that sucks. You should probably come to Cambodia.Final-Cocktail-Series

PS – We fell in love with our lime twist and named him Linus.Linus-the-Lime-Series

Recipe from Alchemy & A Twist, smart ass comments by us.

Photos by Tiffany Tsang. Please request permission for use.