Archive for the ‘absinthe & pastis’ Category

Corpse Reviver Article

Monday, December 9th, 2013

Another article just appeared in DRiNK. Since this issue looks at brandy, I wrote about the Corpse Reviver. The Corpse Reviver is more like a semi-forgotten category than a single cocktail. The famous Corpse Reviver #2 is based on gin, but most of the other Corpse Reviver recipes use brandy. Oddly, despite being a diverse bunch, Corpse Revivers never seem to call for American spirits like bourbon, rye, etc. I figure they were a specifically English thing. (more…)

Old-School Genever Cocktails

Thursday, June 5th, 2008

I said I would follow up my recent Genever post with a post on Genever cocktails. Here are five recipes for traditional Genever cocktails. These are all drinks you could have ordered in an upscale bar in the Nineteenth Century United States. In other words, these are the drinks that got gin cocktails started. The recipes come from Jerry Thomas’ Bartender’s Guide. Darcy O’Neil from the Art of Drink kindly put the entire book online, accessible here.


Briottet Crème de Violette and the Classic Aviation

Thursday, April 10th, 2008

I finally tracked down a bottle of crème de violette in Auckland today*. This ingredient has been eluding me for a long time now. Some years ago I sampled the Benoit Serres version in Shanghai. It was never actually sold there, but Mr. Benoit Serres attended a Shanghai food and wine show seeking an importer and I was able to sample the stuff and have a chat with him. Besides his crème de violette he also makes a couple of interesting herbal and nut infused liqueurs – I seem to remember an unusual almond infused cognac.

Today I came across a crème de violette from Briottet. The Briottet version seems fuller flavored then how I remember the Benoit Serres. The Benoit Serres had a subtle (i.e. diluted) cognac base with a violet overlay, and may have been relatively high proof (25%?). The Briottet seems more like intense violet on a base of lowish proof (18%) neutral alcohol. It has a strong aroma, happily more reminiscent of a flower shop (or maybe potpourri) than a soap factory. On tasting you get a rich, smooth, fairly deep violet taste that lingers on the tongue. The finish is really quite long, and somehow never turns to soap. While I cannot taste anything besides violet, I still would not call the taste one dimensional.

I am hardly a crème de violette expert. I have only ever tasted two brands, and those several years apart. I may completely wrong about this comparison. Both Briottet and Benoit Serres seem to be good products. However, I think Briottet may pack a little more power and be more suited to mixed drinks. Most drinks using creme de violette require only small quantities, so you want to use a reasonably intense product.



After tasting some of the liqueur straight the obvious thing to do was to make an original recipe Aviation. (more…)

Passion Fruit Cocktails I: Classical Recipes

Monday, March 31st, 2008

I picked up a big bag of passion fruit and did some experimenting with passion fruit juice cocktails. I started with some ‘classical’ recipes from the early 20th Century. I have not personally checked the origins of these drinks, but I am guessing the first three are from the 1920s pr 1930s.




Raiders of the Lost Cocktail (Apricot Brandy Edition): The Self Starter

Thursday, February 14th, 2008


This is my first time participating in Raiders of the Lost Cocktail, hosted this month at Cocktail Chronicles. Resurrecting undeservedly forgotten things appeals to me, so Raiders of the Lost Cocktail seems like a great idea. Unfortunately I do not have much of a library of old cocktail books to scour for recipes. My only older book would be the Savoy Cocktail Book. Does Ted Haigh’s Cocktail Database website count as a source for the purposes of this event?


Anyway, the theme for this month’s Raiders of the Lost Cocktail is apricot Brandy. I have taken my research extremely seriously and my bottle of Marie Brizzard Apry has the scars to prove it. It feels like I must have tried a dozen or so apricot brandy cocktails, mostly from In the end the drink I settled on for my entry turned out to also be in the Savoy. (more…)

Pisco Punch

Monday, December 3rd, 2007


The theme for this month’s Mixology Monday is Repeal Day, and Pre-prohibition drinks are thus in order. Pisco is flavor of the month at my place since I managed to pick up three different brands of the stuff. That makes the Pisco Punch the obvious choice for this month’s drink.

I mentioned Pisco Punch the last time I wrote here. The problem with Pisco Punch, and it is quite a problem, is that the original recipe seems to have been lost. Certain things about the drink are known with certainty though. (more…)

The Bunny Hug

Friday, December 1st, 2006



It was the craze of the day.

The Bunny Hug (click to listen) was a ragtime dance. It was one of a family of ‘lewd’ animal dances that were originally danced in bars and bordellos and spread from there to the dance halls frequented by the more polite portion of American society. Other such dances included the Grizzly Bear, the Camel Hop and the Turkey Trot. In its day the Bunny Hug was the cutting edge, the latest fad. It was loved and loathed, and swept across America and around the world even as cities passed ordinances banning it. On March 27, 1913, dance hall manager Ed Spence of Grants Pass, Oregon was reported to be “in serious condition from 11 knife wounds as a result of trying to enforce his taboo of the ‘Bunny Hug’, the ‘Turkey Trot’ and like terpsichorean confections.” Forgotten today, the Bunny Hug once stirred passions.

The Bunny Hug was part of the transition from the old to the modern. Like ragtime itself, the Bunny Hug filled an awkward gap between two different ages. Traditionalists abhorred it. Its fashion conscious champions quickly discarded it The craze of the day changed. People hearing the words ‘bunny hug’ are now more likely think of a brand of diapers than anything else.

Fittingly, as the craze of the day the Bunny Hug had its name attached to a cocktail. You can resurrect the Bunny Hug by mixing equal parts whiskey, gin, and pastis, stirring over ice (or shaking) and straining into a cocktail glass. Any type of whiskey is OK, but given the strong flavors at work a blended Scotch probably brings a little more to the drink than a Bourbon does. On the other hand, in America (the place the drink would have been most popular) a rye or bourbon would have been more likely suspects. To be authentic substitute absinthe for the pastis.


This mixture of whiskey, gin and aniseed probably divides drinkers as much as Bunnyhug dance divided society. Liking pastis is obviously a prerequisite for trying this drink. Even then the drink is raw, unconventional, and not for the faint hearted. Give it a chance though and you will find some interesting layers of taste to reflect upon. Although this looks like a drink dreamed up by someone in a hurry to get drunk and not much caring how they went about it, just possibly this lush had a sense of style? They certainly created something to ponder on. The pastis grabs the foreground, while the gin and whiskey fight an unresolved struggle for second place. The mixture is jarring in the extreme, yet something in the chaos pulls it all together. Another nice thing about this drink is that virtually any bar has the ingredients on hand to make it (an important consideration given China’s sometimes primitive bar culture), and the concoction is robust enough to stand up to a fair bit of mistreatment.  The only way to really destroy it would probably be to light it on fire. It makes a handy drink when in doubt but feeling brave.

In terms of cocktails, the Bunny Hug evokes another age, an age that predates almost everything drinkers now associate with the cocktail. The Bunny Hug predates vermouth atomizers, umbrella garnishes, Oreo cookie rimmed glassware, and snickered requests for Sex on the Beach. It caters to those expecting to be served straight liquor and not much else. Challenging and roughly stylish, it combines the fire of whiskey, the abandonment of gin and the divisive funkiness of pastis.

The same cocktail is now probably better known, in so far as it is known at all, as the Earthquake. Possibly someone recognized the problem with walking into a bar and requesting an extra large Bunny Hug? The name Earthquake is less evocative though. The Earthquake a potent concoction to be downed with lots of bravado and little thought. The Bunny Hug suggests something that to be savored, if only during a quick break from the dance floor.

This site is dedicated to the spirit of the Bunny Hug. Dubious it may be, but did it deserve to be quite so forgotten?