Monthly Archives: April 2020

Larix’s Lounge: A Virtual Bar

To stave off isolation, I’ve started to host a virtual bar on Twitch under the moniker larix_laricina on Saturday evenings. Using a shelf and some bar stools desperately in need of refinishing, I sit behind a makeshift bar and mix drinks, play some chill music, and answer questions about cocktails and the spirits industry. In the two (and a half) sessions of Larix’s Lounge, I’ve made several drinks, archived in the Videos tab of my Twitch page. The archived videos may change over time, or I may have to re-upload them to YouTube for preservation; if I do so, I will update the links here.

My reaction to the beverages made on stream will be in the video, so for the most part, I won’t recap them here. Some drinks will be interesting or surprising enough, or require further explanation, and those will get their own blog post. But for now, this will be a brief summary of the drinks you can find in the videos.

In the initial test episode, I started with a 20th Century from Meehan’s Bartender Manual. Most of the stream was spent making note of all the things I forgot, and figuring out how I could improve the setup for the initial stream.

The official inaugural session kicked off with an original yet-to-be-named drink, a modified daiquiri substituting equal parts raspberry syrup and coconut cream for the simple syrup. Next up was the Brown Derby, also from Meehan’s Bartender Manual. I finished off the night with another yet-to-be-named negroni variant made with equal parts Aalborg Taffel Akvavit, ruby port, and Aperol.

In the second session of Larix’s Lounge, I started off with a tequila drink (as requested in the first session)—the unfortunately named Mexican Firing Squad. After that, I started working on an ambitious experiment to create a clarified milk punch with coffee and spices. That drink took most of the session, and deserves its own post detailing the results. After that, I made a non-alcoholic beverage for my wife: one part each of lime juice, blood orange juice, and grenadine, and two parts coconut cream, topped off with soda water. I finished off the night with a traditional Manhattan and some bitters & soda.

I’ve really enjoyed welcoming everyone into my makeshift bar each week. It’s a highlight of the week for me. Hanging out with everyone, even if I’m just looking at a webcam, has helped keep me sane during the lockdown, giving me some direction. I’m already looking forward to next week.

Thanks, stay safe, and I hope to see you at the next Larix’s Lounge.

Smoked Cinnamon Highball

Isolation breeds creativity. At least, it certainly has for me with regard to mixed drinks. Maybe it’s because I have more contact with my liquor cabinet working from home, or because of how generally tense everything feels right now, but whatever the reason, I’ve taken this opportunity to experiment with different drinks and techniques. With limited ingredients and tools, can I expand my knowledge of advanced cocktail techniques?

Infusing smoke into a cocktail has been my focus the past few days. Without a fancy smoke gun, I would simply invert the serving glass over a burning brand of cinnamon or rosemary as I prepared the drink, then attempt to pour the drink in quickly once I righted the glass. This technique worked more like rinsing the glass with a spirit, but with less efficacy—any flavor imparted by the smoke dissipated quickly, and very little, if any, made it into the cocktail itself. So I had to modify my technique.

After doing some research with help from Dave Arnold’s Liquid Intelligence, I settled on trying to smoke the drink in a spirit bottle. To do so, light whatever material you’re trying to capture and invert an empty bottle on top of it. Once the bottle fills with smoke, pour your spirit or drink into the bottle and seal it, then shake or swirl to incorporate. The more you agitate the spirit in the smoke, the more flavor you’ll infuse into the drink.

With that technique in mind, I raided my fridge and liquor cabinet and decided on a refreshing drink to combat any cabin fever I may be experiencing. This was the result:


Smoked Cinnamon Highball

  • 1.5 oz rum (I used Flor de Caña 4 year)
  • 0.75 oz Lakkalikööri
  • 0.75 oz lime juice
  • 3 dashes key lime bitters
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters
  • 4 oz tonic water
  • 1 cinnamon stick

Mix the rum, lakka, lime juice, and bitters together in a glass. Light the cinnamon stick on fire and invert a bottle over it until the bottle fills with smoke. Pour the drink into the bottle and shake for ten seconds, then pour into a highball glass filled with ice. Top with tonic water and stir gently to combine. Garnish with the burnt cinnamon stick and a lime wheel.

I avoided talking more about the citrus flavor of the Finnish cloudberry liqueur when I used it in my Rainbow Sherbet Fizz because it’s hard to describe, but I think I’ve got it now. It has a very slight medicinal quality—sweet lemon and echinacea. The tartness of the lime and the bitters smooth out that medicinal quality and everything interacts beautifully here, providing an unconventionally sweet citrus base to compliment the mild rum. I used Q tonic water, which is sweet as well but retains some of the original quinine bite tonic is known for. However, the cinnamon smoke is the real star of the show here. Spicy and ever-so-slightly astringent, the smoke cuts through the sweetness and balances everything out, making this drink supremely refreshing.

I initially left out the dash of Angostura bitters, but it’s a necessary addition. Without it, the cinnamon smoke feels a little out of place without a base cinnamon reference in the drink itself. Adding just a little spice to the drink lets you taste the cinnamon both on your tongue and in your nose, building layers of flavor at different levels.

I’m already looking forward to using this smoking technique for future cocktails. My next project: a smoked clarified milk punch.