Some recent writing for Williams-Sonoma with thanks for the re-print.

All This Rum! A New Tiki Bar Cocktail

Ever since I sat as a Rum Judge at the 2010 Ministry of Rum tasting competition in San Francisco, the whole direction of my spirits-writing career has changed. I used to only write about wine.

Then a flash went off: wine is so serious; why not write about something fun, like spirits?

I’ve always loved rum. Rum appeals to me.

Rum is a spirit woven from history. Flavors exist within rums that don’t reveal themselves in other lighter-colored liquors. I’m a fan of rums aged in used wooden casks that formerly held bourbon or cognac. The caramelized notes of smoke, butter and bittersweet chocolate reveal themselves beautifully with the white flower aromas of freshly crushed cane sugar.

What is good rum, and how does it differ from all other rums? I’m not entirely sure. But when you’re out on a yacht, somewhere between Bermuda and the Virgin Islands, nothing tastes so delicious with some coconut water ice.


Over the past few years, Tiki Bar cocktail lounges have revealed themselves as funky representations of times gone past. Tiki gives credence to the easier times in America.


Smuggler’s Cove in San Francisco faithfully reproduces a dream Tiki bar located down off a decaying pier, jutting out into a world of rotting boats and handcrafted cocktails. If a stage set of liquid pleasures could be created, Smuggler’s Cove fits the West Coast genre to a T. Over on the East Coast, on the Island of Manhattan — described as the Greatest Island in the World – PKNY – formerly named Painkiller(the name is another story for another day) has a knack for Tiki as well.


Here’s a Tiki Bar cocktail you’ve never had before.


The Yachtsman’s Demise

3 oz. Kōloa Rum from Hawaii (use their Spiced Rum for this cocktail)

1 oz. fresh mango juice

1/2 tsp. freshly chopped coconut meat

1/2 tsp. freshly scraped ginger

3 drops Bitter End Thai Bitters

6 ice cubes made with coconut water and freshly grated nutmeg (just a bit, it’s strong stuff!)

1/2 oz. Lemon Hart 151 Rum

Q-Ginger Ale to finish


Fill a cocktail shaker with fresh ice (reserve your coconut water ice for the glass). Add the Kōloa Rum to the shaker, then the fresh mango juice, coconut meat and ginger. Add the Bitter End Thai Bitters.


Shake and strain into a tall Tiki (ceramic) mug filled with your coconut water and grated nutmeg ice cubes. Float the Lemon Hart 151 Rum over the top, and finish with Q-Ginger Ale. Makes 1 cocktail.

Sleepwalker’s Delight?

Cocktails for Insomniacs

by Warren Bobrow, Wild Table editor, food writer and cocktail whisperer


This drink, code-named “The Sleepwalker’s Delight,” is of particular interest to those who, instead of sleeping, find themselves walking the floors at all hours of the night.

It’s an easy cocktail to make, especially when sleepwalking. Many of the ingredients hail to Europe, where meanderings in the nighttime are less suspect.

You won’t want to find yourself wallowing in your neighbor’s pool at 4 a.m., so be careful when sipping this warming cocktail. (Note: The aforementioned swimming pool reference is completely hypothetical and in no way related to an actual event. I plead the Fifth.)

The Somnambulist Cocktail

A few sips of this sleep-maker makes dreamweaving a whole lot easier. Cue the sheep.

  1. Pre-heat a large, chunky ceramic mug: Fill boiling hot water into the mug prior to cocktailing. Pour out just before making the drink.
  2. Prepare the spicy hot chocolate and add to the preheated mug. Add the liquors and sip carefully!

If your Somnambulist needs a chaser, try the film version of a sleepwalker’s cocktail, quite possibly the best horror film of all time. Sure, you’ll have nightmares, but you’re not sleeping anyway.

Cocktail Reading???

Featured writer: Warren Bobrow

Mark your calendar – Wednesday, Oct. 19 is the next Drink.Think reading event!

Once again, we’ve got a great line-up of writers slated to read from their work — and over the next few weeks, I’ll entice you with mini-biographies, starting this week with Warren Bobrow.

Now, if you’re out and about in the NY food and drink scene, surely you’ve run across this chap. Somehow, the man seems to be everywhere — He’s at spirits launch parties. He moderated a panel on food writing I attended at the IACP regional conference. He was front and center at a rum seminar I attended at Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans (he’s a rum judge for the Ministry of Rum, so that makes perfect sense). And all the while, Warren manages to tweet up a storm like it’s an Olympic sporting event–go ahead, follow him @WarrenBobrow1I dare you.

Warren is a prolific writer off Twitter, too:  he’s the Food and Drink Editor of the 501c3 non profit Wild Table on Wild River Review; he is a cocktail writer for William-Sonoma’s Blender Blog, Foodista and Serious Eats; and his research on Biodynamic and Organic Wine and Food will appear in the 2012 Oxford Encyclopedia of Food/Drink in America, Ed. 2.

Whew!  Come on out to Lolita Bar on Oct. 19 and hear what he has to say.

Early Fall Cocktail

I came up with this little beauty while fishing some leaves out of my pool on an unusually cold day — what to do when it’s too chilly to swim? Make a drink.

The Early Fall Cocktail is based on the premise of a cold winter coming. Days before the Labor Day holiday, it’s freezing cold here in the Northeast and I wanted to concoct something truly American for the upcoming holiday.

The anchor of this cocktail is the Tuthilltown Manhattan Rye Whiskey, redolent with the flavors of late summer, and it’s easy to produce in large batches. Peaches are fresh now and grill beautifully.

The Early Fall Cocktail

  1. Heat a charcoal grill. Grill slices of peaches until uniformly brown and caramelized.
  2. Add ice, rye and vermouth to a cocktail shaker with ice.
  3. Chill, don’t shake. Add bitters.
  4. “Purée” the peaches with a cocktail muddler. Add 2 tablespoons of the grilled peach mash to a sterling silver julep cup and add some crushed ice.
  5. Pour rye and vermouth mixture into the sterling silver julep cup.
  6. Mix carefully with a wooden mixer — never use metal on silver (you know by now that’s my pet peeve).
  7. Serve with grilled corn and barbecued ribs that have been marinated with peaches and rye whiskey.

Culinary Cocktails

What happens when a man is snowbound with only his wits and his sideboard? He crafts a perfectly balanced flight of cocktails:  too cool!

Passage to India

We just had some snow, about 8 inches this time. The last time it was about two feet. Everything is covered in a fine white dust. It’s quite lovely to look at as long as you’re inside and not shoveling. A friend of mine just sent a lovely container of Fig and Pear Chutney. I had been looking at some photographs of India and it churned my imagination. There was a picture of the Ganges River comingonto the computer screen and I thought of a Passage to India cocktail.

  • 2 shots Bluewater Organic Vodka
  • 1 tablespoon of a spicy chutney (homemade if possible)
  • 1 or 2 saffron threads
  • Orange peel
  1. Add crushed ice and vodka to a cocktail shaker. Do not shake or stir.
  2. Add spicy chutney to a well-chilled martini glass.
  3. Strain iced vodka into the glass and garnish with saffron threads and an orange peel.

The Red Hour Cocktail

The Red Hour Cocktail’s inspiration comes from the Star Trek show of the same name. How completely rational people can go quite crazy when the clock strikes The Red Hour.

  • 2 shots Siesta Key White Rum
  • 1 or two drops of Bitter End Thai Bitters
  • Freshly squeezed orange and lime juice (just enough)
  • Q-Tonic Water
  1. Add a few cubes of ice to a cocktail shaker, then the rum, followed by bitters, then fruit juices.
  2. Shake. Strain onto fresh ice in a tall glass.
  3. Top with a few splashes of Q-Tonic Water and a RED Cherry.

The Pure Driven Snow

Another cool-as-ice cocktail. If you live anywhere outside the tropics this year, you’re in the snow belt and understand the inspiration for this drink.

  • 1 wheat beer such as Brooklyn Brewery Hopfen-Weisse
  • 2 shots Anchor Junipero Gin
  • 1 lime in chunks
  • 1 tablespoon sugar cane syrup
  1. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, pour in beer and gin.
  2. Add lime and syrup.
  3. Shake very gently, or the drink will foam wildly.
  4. Serve in a short glass with fresh ice.

Morning awake

  • 2 shots Calvados
  • 1 shot good cognac
  • Hot Black Tea to fill a mug
  • Scraping of fresh nutmeg
  1. Serve hot.

Sleepy time, sleepy time! 

Thirst Quenching Cocktails

Friends of mine just got back from attending the Tecate 500 off road race in Mexico. They scoffed at all the attention Mexico has received, often unfairly over the last few months. Mexico is a place of many incongruities. Our newspapers shout about how dangerous it is, but here in Baja California, it’s the same as it ever was … A mixture of ex-pats from the United States and back to the future locals who live on surfing, fish tacos and fine locally produced wines. Beer is popular too, as refreshment against the relentless sun. Lime is good for food and beer to raise the flavors up to higher levels (plus it acts as a preservative) and rum, as we all know is safer to drink than the local water.

The grueling, off-road car and motorcycle race known as the Tecate 500 is one of those events that make you thirsty before you even get out of the air-conditioning in your hotel into the blistering heat of Baja, California.

A quenching pair of rum cocktails: Trouble in Paradise and The 500 Cocktail.

The 500 Cocktail

  • 1 Tecate Mexican Beer
  • 2 shots Denizen Rum
  • 1 lime, quartered
  • 2 splashes simple syrup
  • Fresh mint
  1. Muddle mint with lime chunks and simple syrup to a nice paste in a cocktail shaker.
  2. Add some ice and the rum.
  3. Shake, pour into a chilled glass and top with Tecate.

I grew up between New Jersey, Europe and the British Virgin Islands. My family owned a sailboat and they lolled away the winter months basking in the sun and reveling in the trade winds that wound their way up from the Brazilian coast to the Caribbean Sea.

This little cocktail, a twist on the classic punch, is reminiscent of those enjoyed in the British Virgin Islands. Great local rums sold there have a rich history of flavors. Many of these speak the stories of pirates, privateers and forced hard labor in the relentless, brutal heat. Clean water sources are rare, rum costs less than water on many of these islands, so you drink rum!

Trouble in Paradise

  • 3 shots Denizen White Rum
  • 1 ounce each freshly squeezed lime, orange, grapefruit and lemon juices (to ward off scurvy)
  • 1 teaspoon dark brown sugar or cane sugar syrup from Martinique
  • Coconut water, frozen in ice cube trays (I use Goya)
  • Several shakes Bitter End Thai Bitters
  • Splash club soda (use instead of soda water, you’ll need the addition of salt in the heat)
  • Orange and lime zest to garnish
  1. Add several cubes of coconut water ice to a cocktail shaker.
  2. Add rum, fruit juices and bitters. (The Bitter End line of cocktail bitters may well be the most assertive and flavor-driven bitters I’ve ever tasted.)
  3. Shake and finish with a splash or two of club soda.
  4. Serve in an old fashioned glass, with several cubes of coconut water ice, garnished with lime and orange zest.

Red Velvet Armchair Cocktail

This drink has made the rounds from New Orleans to Switzerland and return.

Red Velvet Lounge Chair Cocktail

by Warren Bobrow, Wild Table editor, food writer and cocktail whisperer
This is a little firecracker of a cocktail. This drink has all the excitement of a TikiBar concoction. They are so easy to drink, yet easier to fall into a lounge chair after drinking a few too many of them.

The Red Velvet Lounge Chair

  • 4 ounces freshly squeezed blood orange juice
  • 1 ounce Absolut Vodka
  • 2 ounces Campari
  • Splash club soda
  • Fee Brothers West Indian Orange Bitters
  • Chunk of lime
  1. Add ice and the spirits to a cocktail glass.
  2. Add blood orange juice.
  3. Shake, strain into a chilled rocks glass filled with fresh ice and lime chunk.
  4. Add exactly three shakes of Fee Brothers West Indian Orange Bitters

Hollis Bulleit-cocktail chanteuse

August 10, 2011

The Five Questions to Bourbon/Rye Bonne Vivante- Hollis Bulleit


Hollis Bulleit: Photo: Warren Bobrow

I met Hollis at a table in the press room during the Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans.  She is hard to miss in her “Facinator” hats that seemed to change hourly.   You can see her a mile away with these hand made- crafty pieces of fabric and metals.  They fit her personality- or so I found out after bumping into her several times- always on the arm of some incredibly well- dressed and talented mixologist who escorted her through the fray.

Being the daughter of the owner of Bulleit Bourbon (one of my favorite brands) must have many rewarding moments.  She was free-pouring her dad’s Bourbon and Rye into glasses with their family name emblazoned on them.  I knew we would have much to talk about.  A few months earlier- one of the PR agencies sent me some samples of Bulleit Bourbon for subsequent article I wrote about flavor.

I was taken by their Rye Whiskey (from Bulleit)- and made a Mint Julep with it.  The flavors carried through the crushed ice, Kentucky Mint and my favorite go/to- Sugar in the Raw all served in a sterling silver Julep Cup.

The memory of this taste hung in my mind for weeks afterwards and I was driven to write about it.

There are many personalities in the spirits world.  I’ve met some incredible people along the way.  They are inclusive, not exclusive with their friendship.

During the Tales, I met many people I only knew through my meanderings within the world of Social Media.  It was a honor to meet many of y’all in person down in New Orleans!

I asked Hollis to answer the Five Questions because I knew she would have an interesting take on the process.  Her replies would be honest and a good representation of her own personal life which is revealed in her carefully penned answers.

Without further delay, may I present- Hollis Bulleit!

WRR 1. Where are you from? Do you cook? You’re out on the road so much, do you seek out local foods? What are you passionate about food wise?

I grew up in Lexington Kentucky, but I’ve got gypsy blood in me so since I turned 18 I’ve moved around quite a bit. I’ve spent time in Boston, East Village in New York, Bed-Stuy Brooklyn, Aix-en-Provence France (with stints in London, Spain, and Italy), and now I’m on the west coast. So I’ve certainly earned my street cred to have the World Ambassador of Bulleit Bourbon title. The one thing that I learned from my Mama was to always cook with love. No fighting in the kitchen lest it get into the food. So when I cook, I only cook when I’m happy. When I’m on the road I seek out happy chefs and mixologists. My passion with food as with cocktails is to have new experiences and unique experiences that I cannot duplicate at home. As my Father says, “Our chemistry stops in front of the bar and the mixologist’s art starts behind it”. I included a photo of my father and I with David Nelson at Spur Gastropub of Seattle in 2009 who helped run a six course private dinner for us with food pairings based on the notes in the whiskey (cherry, smoke, etc). It was like cocktail theatre. Truly, a once-in-a-lifetime experience.


Hotel Monteleone Carousel Bar- Photo: Warren Bobrow

WRR 2. If you could be anywhere in the world where would that be? What would you be doing while there? Eating? Drinking? What do you like to do when you’re on vacation somewhere?

I’d be in the right here, right now. You know, I’m old enough to know that the best experiences out there are ones that I do not plan. I love meeting new people and being in new places just as much as I love my old haunts and old friends. One of my favorite old haunts that always offers new experiences is the Tales of the Cocktail week in New Orleans where we met. The week- long event is a great place to talk about my whole family, including my bourbon and rye, in an atmosphere of passion about the spirits. I’ve attached a photo of me and Toby Maloney (of Alquemy Consulting… he serves a wicked “Vincent’s Ruin” with the Bulleit Rye) at the Diageo Cocktail Hour at TOTC 2011.

WRR 3. You’re the brand ambassador of a fantastic product. How do you like your Bourbon mixed?

In good company. I’ve attached Warren’s photo of me… in good company.

In Good Company- Photo: Warren Bobrow

WRR 4. Do you use Social Media? If so, what do you use?

I use my personal website, as a gateway to my Facebook Fanpage where I post recipes, toasts, and my personal artwork (performance installations, paintings, prints, jewelry, and hats). FB is a great way to multitask because I have fanpage for people I’ve briefly met or haven’t met, and I use my personal Facebook page as a Rolodex of colleagues. I have dozens of FB friend folders and I like having a photo that goes along with a name because I’m constantly meeting people in one city and then seeing them in another… it can get confusing. I like the FB places “check in” option, which is especially helpful when I’m on the road corralling my friends and such. I am only Facebook all of the time with my San Fran BFF’s Michael and John – this is us at the Bulleit Rye Launch in SF Spring 2011)


Hollis Bulleit and her friends

WRR 5. Is there anything that when you eat or drink- it brings a tear to your eye? Why? What reason?

The last time I cried over food was during a 10 fast and my next-door neighbor was baking chocolate cookies! Yet, every year when we have a Bulleit dinner at Antoine’s I get a little verklempt watching my father’s excitement over their baked Alaska made just for him. Whenever someone names a drink after me, it is always very special. These are particularly close to my heart; Lu Brow (at the Café Adelaide & The Swizzle Stick Bar of New Orleans) “The Mad Hatter” to me, Marvin Allen (the Bar Manager of the Hotel Monteleone made a drink called “The Happy Hollis”, and Josh Durr (co-founder of Hawthorn Beverage) created a “From Augustus to Hollis” cocktail.


Hollis and her dad in New Orleans

Thank you Hollis not only for your friendship, but for sitting down and sharing your thoughts with my readers of the Five Questions!  Cheers! wb

To support our mission and passion for good storytelling, please help support my work and make a tax-deductible donation by clicking here:  Wild River Donation.

Wild River Review/Wild Table editor, Warren Bobrow grew up on a Biodynamic farm in Morristown, NJ. A graduate of Emerson College in Boston- with a degree in Film, he spent his senior year of college as a research assistant in visual thinking. (Center for Advanced Visual Studies @ MIT)

To learn more about Warren, click here:  Wild River Review.

Please follow me on Twitter @WarrenBobrow1

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