El Presidente

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Serious summertime sipping …
I stumbled onto this delight on Fathers Day, when my son William took me out for drinks. (What a great kid!) We went to Pearl Diver, one of the dozens of watering holes that have popped up recently on the East Side near his house. The concept at Pearl Diver is Tiki/Caribbean/Tropical – or something like that – and the vibe is friendly. 
Lots of the drinks on the menu are crazy concoctions, but there are some more serious choices as well. This is one of those. 
Boozy to the max, it hits you hard at first sip, but smoothes out thereafter. Go slowly and you’ll find it refreshing and exactly right for hot, humid summer sipping.
It’s a classic from Havana in the 1920s. Recipes I’ve found in books and on line are all based on rum, dry vermouth, and usually dry curaçao. But they vary somewhat from there. I’ve tried lots of them – I consider cocktail research a public service – and this is the one I like best.
El Presidente

  • 1.5 ounce white rum

  • 1.5 ounce dry vermouth (I’m using Dolin in this one)

  • .25 ounce orange curaçao

  • .25 ounce grenadine (it’s gotta be the real stuff, not Rose’s)

Combine all the ingredients, shake with ice, and strain into a cocktail glass. I like a coupe for this one. An orange peel makes a nice garnish.


Elliott 16

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Here’s a new one. Not a classic, but deserving of that status, perhaps.
I’m on the sales team for a development in Nashville’s Germantown neighborhood that involves the conversion of the historic Elliott School, built in 1916, into condos. In the spring, we had a party to celebrate the beginning of construction and introduce the project to fellow realtors and Germantown neighbors. 
We decided to have a signature cocktail for the event, so I pulled this idea from an email someone had sent me and adjusted the proportions. The sales team decided to call it the Elliott 16.

Et voila! Instant classic!
Good name, greattipple. Bubbly, slightly tart, and just wonderful for summer sipping!

Elliott 16

  • 1 ounce Campari

  • 1 ounce orange juice – fresh squeezed is best, of course

  • Top with bubbly – doesn't matter too much which kind – proseco, cava, or champagne – as long as it's light and dry.

Shake the first two ingredients with ice to get them very cold, pour into a flute, and top off with bubbly.


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As you know, I love the classics. But this isn’t one of them. All I can find out is that it might date back to a 1988 edition of Mr. Boston Official Bartender Guide. But no matter. That’s not a bad provenance, and it is a variation on a venerable classic, the Negroni. 
It is also absolutely delicious.
Compared to a Negroni, the Rosita substitutes tequila for gin, adds dry as well as sweet vermouth, and dials back the bitterness of the Campari. The result is light, but not too light. Bitter, but not too bitter. And it has a hint of smoke from the tequila. 
Smooth and luscious, you’ll be tempted to guzzle this one. But take it easy. It’s all alcohol. Sip. Savor. Sip … 


  • 1.5 ounces tequila

  • .5 ounce Campari

  • .5 ounce dry vermouth

  • .5 ounce sweet vermouth

Combine the ingredients and stir with ice in a beaker until very cold. Strain into a rocks glass and serve over fresh ice. I like to use one giant cube to keep it cool, but not overly diluted.

Palm Beach Special

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As we transition into spring, the trees are just about ready to leaf out, the birds are chirping again, and a nice transitional cocktail is called for. A Palm Beach Special is just the ticket.
This is another time-tested recipe, dating back to the late 1930s, when people like Edsel Ford and Claire Boothe Luce were in Palm Beach for the winter, hanging out at places like Mar-a-Lago (when Marjorie Merriweather Post owned it) and the Breakers. 
Like almost-spring – neither hot nor cold, and full of surprises – this one has a layered, bracing flavor – a little tart, quite gin-ny – and a pale blush color. It reminds me of chilly mornings that turn into warm days and turn back into chilly evenings. Perfect!
Shake up a few of these, sit on the deck, and bliss out on the coming of springtime.

 Palm Beach Special

  • 2.5 ounces gin

  • .75 grapefruit juice*

  • .5 ounce sweet vermouth

Combine the ingredients, shake until very cold, strain into a cocktail glass, and start sipping.

*About the juice: Any juice you put in a cocktail should be fresh-squeezed. This is an iron-clad rule with lemon and lime juice and highly recommended with orange juice. Fresh squeezed grapefruit juice is certainly best, but you can get away with the bottled stuff if you get the all-juice, no-sugar-added, not-from-concentrate kind. That said, finding it on a grocery shelf may be more trouble than squeezing an actual grapefruit yourself. Best to invest in decent electric squeezer and squeeze all your citrus. 

12 Mile Limit

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Deluxe drinking from the depths of Prohibition … 

Here’s another gem from that shameful era when legislators tried to stamp out drinking, only to make it even more seductive, fun, and flavorful than it was before. Silly legislators!
This one’s called the 12 Mile Limit because during Prohibition, ships sailing from American ports had to clear the US territorial limit before they could legally serve alcohol. Everyone on board waited for the ship to cross the line and then lined up at the bar. 
This is a spicy, potent, sweet-sour concoction. Tasty, but it must be sipped slowly lest one end up sliding off the barstool. There are more ingredients than I generally approval of, but this one is worth the trouble!

12 Mile Limit

  • 1 oz. silver rum

  • 1⁄2 oz. rye whiskey

  • 1⁄2 oz. brandy

  • 1⁄2 oz. grenadine

  • 1⁄2 oz. fresh lemon juice

Combine the ingredients, stir with ice and strain into a rocks glass. I like to toss in a single big cube of ice to keep it cool while I sip.

Re: grenadine, you’ll need to get the real stuff, made from pomegranates, not the red sugar syrup you’ll find at the grocery store. Most of your better liquor merchants will carry one or two brands.