Dave Wondrich Punches it Up!

That Dave Wondrich guy is amazing.  Not only is he a wealth of knowledge when it comes to everything distilled beverage, but he’s also a darned good bartender. 

Dave talkin' punch

Dave spread his wings earlier this week at the Pegu Club.  He was in good company, might I add:  The Bols Genever team (Tal Nadari, Katie Darling, and Debbie Rizzo) were on hand this fine afternoon, fascilitating this presentation.  That bugger Erick Castro from San Francisco’s Rickhouse was even there!  Yes, folks, an occurrence of this magnitude is enough to provoke SF bartenders to travel 3,000 miles just to be in the same room as Dave and Bols.  Hmm…Dave and Bols…kind of sounds  like a Gaming-themed casual chain restaurant.

Tal Nadari and Katie Darling

There's Erick Castro now! Studying the punch recipes. And I mean studying!

As part of the “Classic Cocktail Series,” Bols Genever hosts wonderful presentations geared towards education and brand awareness.  This day’s focus was on Punches.  I’d focus on punches every day, if I could.


For all we know, Punch could be over 1,000 years old.  As is the case with many origins of cocktails – even the origin of the word “cocktail” itself – it’s exact history can be hard to pinpoint.  Dave spends countless hours, days, weeks, and years researching the history of drink, and as we learned at Pegu this week, he just finished his latest book on, you guessed it, Punch!

Punch has gone through many transitional stages, from a simple beverage made to mask the rough and tumble nature of 16th century crude rum, to a drink for the 18th century upper crust, with expensive and rare spices thrown into the mix to prove just how fancy and dandy these aristocrats were. 

Punch can be any spirit, mixed with water and sugar, including a bit of spice and citrus.  We tasted many combinations of this formula, and all tasted impeccably refreshing and reminscent of olden days.  One such punch had such a smooth texture, one could have swore it had stout in it.  And guess what?  It did!

Here’s that fine recipe below.  The recipe calls for it to be served warm, but we taste it cold.  Feel free to serve it whichever way your heart desires:

Billy Dawson’s Punch (1863)

12 oz. Demerara sugar

8 lemons

1 bottle Smith  & Cross Jamaican Rum

1 Bottle Gosling’s Black Seal Rum

1 Bottle Battavia Arrack van Oosten

15 oz. VSOP Cognac

1 can Guinness Stout

Boiling Water

Method: In a stout earthenware bowl that holds at least a quart and a half, muddle the peel of 6 lemons with 12 oz. demerara sugar.  Add 24 oz. boiling water and stir until sugar has dissolved.  Add 9 oz. lemon juice, 30 oz. rum (20 0z. Smith & Cross Jamaican rum and 10 oz. Gosling’s Black Seal), 15 oz. VSOP Cognac, 3 oz. Battavia Arrack and 9 oz. good porter or Guinness stout, stirring all along.  Finish by slowly stirring 36 oz. boiling water.  Grate nutmeg over the top and serve.

More photos:

Me and Libation Girl, Carmen Carroll

Many thanks to www.lushlifeny.com for the amazing pics!


Defying the Cocktail World

Red Hook, Brooklyn NEEDS to be your next cocktail tour stop.  When I say NEED, I  mean NEED!  First place on your list in Red Hook is Fort Defiance.  You’ll be happy even if it’s your only stop in Red Hook.  If I sound very sure of myself, a bit too sure of myself, it’s because my mind has been altered after two recent meals at Fort Defiance.  Altered in a way I can’t really describe.  It’s like I’m kicking myself in the behind for not coming here sooner.

St. John Frizell is a good pal.  I’ve known him for a few years now, catching up with him from time to time at industry events and soirees.  In recent times (the past 2 years or so), I’ve seen quite a bit less of him.  It’s because he’s had this project of his very own, his little baby (he really does have a little baby, so perhaps that analogy doesn’t really apply), a bar with an amazing cocktail program and delicious plates of grub to go along with it.

Dinner here hit the spot.  And so did brunch.  That spot is still full.  I can’t wait to return once the spot is empty.  The pimento cheese was rockin – the deviled eggs devilishly good – the short ribs nothing short of fantastic – and the drinks:

Kentucky Nightcap – steamed milk, bourbon, and vanilla – soothed my soul.

Joe Ray – Gin, Cointreau, vermouth, bitters – so lovely

Sidecars – flowing like wine, especially at a special price of $5 a pop!

Needless to say, I recommend this place.  If you go, call me, ’cause I want to go back.  Unless you want to be alone with your sweetie, in which case,  I understand.  Sort of.

St. John Frizell himself, standing proudly behind his bar.

 Fort Defiance Brooklyn is located at:

365 Van Brunt St. (corner of Dikeman)

Brookly, NY 11231



Monking it up

We all know monks are cool.  The way they dress, the whole oath thing, the castles…

But did we know that they keep some of the best-kept secrets in all the land?  Mainly the secret recipe behind Benedictine liqueur, an herbal elixir created 500 years ago this year by the jolly men of the Benedictine order in France. 

Our U.S. Bartenders’ Guild NY Chapter met earlier this month for a spirited mixer brought to us by the folk at Benedictine.  We stuffed ourselves into a private room at Bookmarks Lounge, all eager to taste some Benedictine cocktails, eat some food, and hear from a certain young French-man who represents this brand on a world-wide scale.  Ludo Miazga is well-respected in the cocktail world, and our sponge-like minds took in the information he spewed to us happily and openly.

It’s base is beet-spirit, it’s botanicals include anise and coriander, and it’s exact blend of botanicals is secret.  What we do know is that the recipe contains 27 plants and spices.   We tried a lovely cocktail created by Ludo with Benedictine, egg white, honey syrup and lemon juice.

Another special guest of ours was Lynn House, mixologist extraordinaire in Chi-Town (that’s Chicago), and a proud member of the USBG in Illinois.  She’s darlin’, and her cocktails are a pleasure to sip.

Ever wonder what the “D.O.M” on the front bottle label means?  No, not Dominican Order of Monks, silly!  It means “Deo Optimo Maximo.”  Didn’t you know that?

And a special congrats to Mr. Damon Dyer of Louis 649.  He won the Benedictine Esquire competition the following evening.  Congrats, my man!

Enjoy these pics from the night’s festivities:

Lynn House from Chicago mixing up her drinks.

A trippy photo of Ludo speaking to our group.  Hey, I'm no pro at this, k?

Here's a trippy photo of Ludo talking to our group. I'm not a pro photog, k?

There's Lynn again, talking to us about females in mixology.


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