Kitchen Counter Cocktails

As a bartender and drink maker, I have through the years, accumulated a great number of sample bottles. Being that I am not behind a bar of my own at the moment, I have committed to putting these products to use, and keep my creative juices flowing in the form of Kitchen Counter Cocktails.

These are drinks that I have developed at home, with the ingredients, tools, and glassware I have on hand. Together, with my personal photographer, Sammy Faze, I commit to chronicling these creations as regular exercise to keep technique sharp and mind flexible. 


Photo: Sammy Faze Photography

Photo: Sammy Faze Photography

Smoothie | September, 2017

Veering towards the end of summer and into fall, I have really gotten into delicious smoothies in the morning.

Yes, they are spiritfree! No alcohol here, although I have found them to be quite tasty with gin or rum from time to time.

Peaches, Mango, Greek Yogurt, Agave Nectar, Mint

Glass: Handblown by Sammy Faze at Ignite Glass Studios.

Ice: For blending and chilling the glass.

Garnish: Manicured Lemon Swath; Pickled Peaches; Mint Leaves.

Photo: Sammy Faze Photography

Photo: Sammy Faze Photography

R{H}ums Sour | August, 2017

A favorite of mine for the summer time: an Agricole Daiquiri. Specifically, a split-base daiquiri with Banks 5 Island Rum and a bold Agricole rhum. The extra proof is dashingly refreshing, quenching thirst and begging to be fully consumed. With these r(h)ums, my preferred syrup is a rich (2:1) cane syrup so that I can use a little less, and allow the natural sweetness of the sugarcane distillates to shine. 

Banks 5 Island Rum, Clement Canne Bleue Rhum Blanc Agricole, Lemon, Cane Syrup, Mint

Glass: Vintage.

Ice: For shaking and chilling the glass.

Garnish: Manicured Lemon Swath.

For a little twist, and as I did not have limes at home at the time, this Daiquiri is made with lemon juice instead of lime, and the addition of refreshing mint leaves, shaken with the cocktail for a gorgeous green burst of color.

Photo: Sammy Faze Photography

Photo: Sammy Faze Photography


Manhattan | July, 2017

I’m not sure which origin story is true for this cocktail — perhaps they all are. But what I do know is that a Manhattan was made with rye whiskey and Italian vermouth. Dashes of bitters, gum syrup, and absinthe appear in some of the oldest recipes, but we have since dropped the latter dashes in favor of a three ingredient cocktail.

Willett Family Estate Bottled 2 Year Straight Rye, Cocchi Vermouth di Torino, Angostura Bitters.

Glass: Steelite Sip Champagne Cordial; Steelite Gatsby Carafe.

Ice: Regular Ice to Stir, Crushed Ice to Chill Carafe.

Garnish: Lemon Expression; Filthy Foods Amarena Cherry on a vintage demitasse spoon.

The vermouth must be Italian, or as it is said in the March 8th edition of the Racine Wisconsin Daily Journal, “A cocktail made from the French brand is no more a Manhattan cocktail than it is a Spanish omelette.”

East of milan | June, 2017

Created for Chicago Magazine. Recipe available here!

Kalak Single Malt Irish Vodka, Campari, Joto Junmai Nigori Sake, Strawberry, Fever-Tree Tonic Water, pinch of Salt

Glass: Steelite, Rona Rocks Glass.

Ice: Hoshizaki.

Garnish: Strawberry Wheels & Rosemary Sprig.

Aside from pinches and splashes, this is an equal parts cocktail, making it quite easy to make a large batch for when friends are coming over, or for when you just want to lay out in the sun with a pitcher of refresher for your own glass. If you are feeling extra festive, try substituting the tonic water for Cava or Champagne.

Photo: Clayton Hauck

Photo: Clayton Hauck

flower glass margarita.jpg

Daisy | March, 2017

I typically don’t drink shaken, citrus-forward drinks; however, every now and then, I get a craving for something sunshiny-bright and refreshing.

Hornitos Tequila Reposado, Agave Syrup, Scrappy’s Orange Bitters & Lemon Juice

Glass: Hand-painted vintage find from Etsy.

Ice: Large, crystal clear, frozen-at-home chunk.

Garnish: Lemon Expression & Manicured Lemon Swath.

My initial thought was to make a Tommy’s Margarita. But, all I had were lemons in my kitchen. So, I opted for vanilla-mellow tequila reposado, with a touch of orange bitters to go along with the bright lemon.

Highball | March, 2017

I am obsessed, absolutely obsessed with highball cocktails. I find that it is the simplicity of ingredients and precise technique that make it so enjoyable to both drink and to make this style of drink.

Koval Dry Gin, Rhine Hall Plum Brandy, Weatherby’s Saffron and Orange Bitters & Fever-Tree Tonic Water

Glass: Steelite, Stellar Highball by Rona

Ice: Back-porch cooler, unilateral-direction-freezing method.

Garnish: N/A

One other element of the highball that I love, it being completely at the mercy of the ice. Ice is always changing sizes, and when broken down by hand, the pieces sometimes fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. No two highballs are ever the exact same. Washlines naturally vary depending on how the ice falls.

julia highball flash.jpg

julia cocktail 1.jpg

Mezcal Spritz | March, 2017

When the weather was a touch warmer, I had a craving for something vegetal, smokey, and refreshing. I choose not to serve with a straw to avoid waste, but also because this drink is so aromatic! 

Mezcal Don Amado Rustico, La Quintinye Vermouth Royal Blanc, Bittercube Jamaican #1 Bitters & Sparkling Water

Glass: Handblown, by me, at Ignite Glass Studios.

Ice: Frozen by harsh weather, through directional freezing, in a cooler on the back porch.

Garnish: Lemon Expression

This simply hit the spot, with a tingle of black pepper and ginger meeting, semi-sweet vermouth, and mighty mezcal. Cheers!