Every day a different drink. Not just how to make them, but a detailed review of how they actually taste, photos of the drinks, and stories along the way. Starting from the beginning, The Bartender's Black Book will be our guide, taking us

(and our livers) on a journey from which we may never recover. Cheers!

April 6, 2011

#91: Armored Car

2 oz Bourbon
Dash of Simple Syrup
1 oz fresh Lemon Juice
Combine in a mixing glass with ice and stir
Strain into a chilled glass

This seems like a pretty basic drink. Bourbon and lemon juice. The only thing unusual about it is the taste.

I really don't know why this is called an Armored Car. Typically that is a tequila and amaretto drink. In fact, this is the only version I could find of this recipe, anywhere. Be that as it may, it would take an armored car filled with cash to get me to drink another one of these.

Bourbon is smooth. Lemon juice is not. The two together seemed to cancel each other out. The bourbon was no longer smooth, and the tartness of the lemon juice was oddly twisted into something I don't think many people would like. It just didn't work.

I have no idea how this drink came about, or who invented it. I do know that they should be run over by a large, well-protected truck, filled with cash paid for from a restitution fund set up for those who have tasted this drink.


I'm sure that we all have days at work that feel just like this:

April 5, 2011

#90: Arizona Lemonade

2 tsp Powdered Sugar
2 oz fresh Lemon Juice
Muddle/mix together in a mixing glass, then fill with ice
Add 2 oz Tequila
Shake until sugar dissolves, then use a lemon slice as garnish

First sip: this could have used a bit more sugar.

Second sip: think about how much more sugar this needs

Third sip: the hell with it, there's tequila in here!

This is basically homemade lemonade with tequila, which in my book is never a bad thing. I think that in modern America, we get so used to overly sweetened drinks like soda, that natural lemonade seems overly tart and not sweet enough. Well, this works just fine.

When I think about what Arizona Lemonade would taste like, this is exactly on the mark. It is tart, mildly sweet, and the tequila added a mild kick. Not enough to keep you from having another.


Check out the awesome artwork of artist Adam Watson, who has mashed up Star Wars and Dr. Suess, to create something pretty special. You can check out his blog here.

April 4, 2011

#89: April in Paris

1 oz Orange Liquer
Pour into a champagne glass, and fill with champagne
Use an orange slice as a garnish

Let's see, there was a movie by this name in 1952, with Doris Day and Ray Bolger. I've never seen it, so I have no idea if oranges and champagne play into the plot. It was also somewhat of a hit song back in the 30s, made into a much bigger hit for the movie by Count Basie, although it has been covered by tons of other artists over the years (Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Benny Goodman, on and on). Basically considered a jazz standard now. It's also used in Blazing Saddles, but for the life of me, I can't remember where.

Here are some notes by David Thorne Scott, a modern jazz singer and Associate Professor of Voice at Berklee College of Music, about this song, writing on

The contrast between the A sections and the bridge of “April in Paris” illustrates the process of memory. The A sections are rather static, harmonically and melodically, and the lyrics are fragments of partially remembered images. The bridge speeds everything up musically and the lyrics come into focus in complete sentences with the narrator as the subject. The A sections are like looking back through a gauzy filter, nostalgic, yearning to remember the good old days in Paris, while the bridge makes you feel like you are actually there, young again, strutting down the Champs-Elysees flirting.

The orange liquer really came through the champagne on this one, which seemed a bit surprising, since there isn't much there. It didn't make it overly sweet, just cut through the dry white grape flavor and actually enhanced it considerably.

Normally I am not much of a champagne drinker, but this was really good. I imagine other liquer flavors might work also, but they probably wouldn't be as good as this combination. I think it was the citrus overtones that really made this shine.

I'm not sure if there are a lot of orange trees in Paris, or when they bloom, but if you want to imagine yourself in a café along the Seine while drinking this, go right ahead. This drink will help the illusion.

April 3, 2011

#88: Apricot Sour

2 oz Apricot Brandy
Pour into a tall glass with ice, fill with sour mix, and shake
Use an orange slice and a cherry as garnish

This was a little on the sweet side, but still delicious. That could have been because I had recently switched over to store-bought sour mix, rather than making my own. The store-bought stuff seems basically like thin orange syrup, so I think I am going to go back to the homemade stuff, using the recipe in the book, after this.

The tartness of the sour mix was blunted by the sweetness of the apricot brandy. But it was still light, refreshing, and basically was a burst of sweet juicy flavor.

The orange slice sure looked nice, but I wasn't sure what it actually added to the drink. The cherry definitely was a good addition. On top of the contrasting color, it was a welcome flavor addition when it was finally eaten.

Overall this was a good drink. I would actually order this in a bar. The "apricot" part might sound girly, but anything with "sour" in the name has got a little toughness to it.


Hope springs eternal, especially for baseball fans. Those of us who have the fortune to root for (or live and die by, as the case may be) small market teams that have never one the World Series, take special interest in this time of year. For a little while, even the Cubs can be atop the standings. At least until next week.

Another baseball season is upon us, so I thought I would put up a nice photo of my favorite ballpark, Petco Park, where my beloved Padres play. If you look closely, you won't see me in this photo.

April 2, 2011

#87: Aprés Ski 2

1 oz Brandy
1 oz Apple Brandy
Fill with hot apple cider and garnish with a cinnamon stick

I wrote about the origins of the name in yesterday's post, but this was much more like what I expected from a drink with this name. Now this was what you would expect to be served in a ski lodge, if you didn't want any hot chocolate.

A nice cinnamon smell wafted from the glass and filled the room. That, along with the brandy, mellowed the apple cider quite a bit, making this into one smooth drink.

This was very warming, like cuddling up with a friendly St. Bernard. I have to say that this was one of my favorite drinks that uses brandy in any significant amount. It was also one of the sweetest drinks so far, but not in a cloying or overpowering way.

I would definitely order this after a tiring day on the slopes.


Are these the coolest salt and pepper shakers ever? I think they are just a concept. I could only find this photo on the web, but I couldn't find anywhere i could buy them. Oh well.

April 1, 2011

#86: Aprés Ski

1 oz Peppermint Schnapps
1 oz Coffee Liquer
1 oz White Créme de Cacao
Combine in a short glass with ice, and shake

Aprés-ski (French for after skiing) refers to going out, having drinks, dancing, and generally socializing after skiing. It is popular in the Alps, where skiers often stop at bars on their last run of the day while still wearing all their ski gear. The concept is similar to the nineteenth hole in golf.

The term après-ski is also being increasingly applied in a derogatory sense, to describe those whose interest in snow sports is mainly confined to image, such as expensive prestige brands of equipment and seasonal ski-wear fashion.

Well, the peppermint flavor was strong, but it complimented the Créme de Cacao chocolate tones nicely, and the added coffee notes from the Coffee Liquer made the sum greater than the parts.

I thought that this would be good as a warm drink, the thought being that you would imbibe this one at the ski lodge after a day on the slopes. Imagine my surprise when I could find no evidence in the recipe regarding heat of any sort. This was made with ice, and after tasting it, I believe that the idea is to remind you of those days, even when you can't make it out there to actually ski.

It was bracing (the peppermint) like a cold brisk day, and the other flavors reminded me of a ski lodge, all warm and comfy by the fire. So I guess it all makes sense now. Actually one of the more appropriately named drinks yet.


I found a cool website,, that has all kinds of fun stuff (their motto is "entertain your inner child"), and they have this awesome OCD Chef Cutting Board:

I may have to get one!