Brandy Mixology Rum Whiskey

Spiking the Egg Nog

My sister wrote to me yesterday to ask about adding liquor to store-bought egg nog. While I highly recommend making your own egg nog — it just tastes so much better than the stuff from the store — I realize a lot of people don't want to put in the time to do this.

In that case, you definitely want to add some spirits to your nog. Otherwise, the stuff is just nasty, with no redeeming alcoholic kick. But what kind to add?

Bourbon is the traditional accompaniment to egg nog, and it works well. Don't bother putting anything too expensive in it — the subtleties of the taste will just get lost. So use something like Evan Williams Black Label and you'll be off and running. If you want to go a little more upscale, you could always use Buffalo Trace.

There are some people, however, who are put off by the flavor of bourbon. For them, I would recommend using brandy as the spirit in your egg nog. You could go with a VS Cognac, although probably even that is overkill. Buy a bottle of good, cheap French brandy — Raynal VSOP is excellent and under $15 — and your nog will be more than worth drinking.

Your third option is rum. I love rum, and I do sometimes have it in my egg nog, but I don't think it works as well as brandy. It makes a nice change of pace, but it wouldn't be my go-to selection. If you do want to use rum, I would recommend a gold/dark Jamaican variety. Appleton VX would be great, but Coruba or Myers would work in a pinch.

The other question is: how much to use? This really depends on you. I would recommend something around 2 ounces of spirit per cup of egg nog to start. (Basically, one shot per mug.) You can always add more if you like it a little stronger.

Merry Christmas!

Cocktails Miscellaneous

Top 10 Drinks the Douches Have Ruined

Just so you won't think it's always serious here at the Professor's place…


The Top 10 Drinks that Are Decent, but Make You Feel Like a Douche Because of the People Who Drink Them

Courtesy of Derek Brown, owner/bartender of The Passenger in Washington, DC.

10. Tequila Shots

9. Sidecars

8. Tennessee Whiskey

7. Light Beer

6. Margaritas

5. Anything and Tonic

4. Daiquiri

3. Jägermeister

2. Layered Shots

1. Highballs


There are several favorites of mine on here. So, to all you DB's out there: stop spoiling our drinks!


Wednesday Link-O-Rama

It's Hump Day and you probably need a little pick-me-up to help you get through the rest of the week. Here are some links that might hit the spot.

In case you haven't finished your holiday shopping, a few more gift guides to give you ideas:

  • From, recommendations featuring Scotch. In addition to the Auchentoshan Three Wood, which I would love to try, they recommend the Glenfiddich 15 and Highland Park 18, plus a couple others.
  • Also on, gifts for the high-roller. Some great (and very expensive) picks, including Grand Marnier Quintessence. The one I'd really like, though, is the Appleton Estate Signature Marque.
  • The Wall Street Journal gives suggestions for "The 12 Bottles of Christmas," including Canadian Club 12, Dewars Signature, Campari, Frangelico and Mount Gay Eclipse Rum.
  • Here's a fun one: "A Holiday Wish List from the Booze Pros." I have to admit, I wouldn't be disappointed if someone got me my own barrel.
Spirits Reviews Whiskey Whiskey Reviews

Whiskey Review: Buffalo Trace Bourbon

BuffaloBuffalo Trace Bourbon
Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Final Grade: A-
Price: $24 (750ml)

Reviewed by Bob Montgomery

A glance at the shelves of my local liquor store reveals that bourbon has become the Merlot of the whiskey world, charging ahead of its more stately cousins from Scotland and Ireland and showing its back to the generic Canadians on the bottom shelf. There seems to be three times as many bottles of bourbon as any other kind of whiskey, with a bewildering number of brands and ages to choose from.

Elbowing to the front to stand next to Maker’s in the center of the array is Buffalo Trace. It has a deep amber color in the bottle, and upon opening it immediately fills the room with scents of vanilla and molasses. In the glass, the vanilla is even more powerful, with perhaps a whiff of mint as well.

The initial taste impression is of sweet corn and honey, with a little fruit and mint as it develops. Despite its rye content, it didn’t seem to have any of the typical spice notes of a rye whiskey. This is a thick, rich spirit that hangs around for quite a while in the mouth. What starts as a pleasant warmth soon matures into a mild burn, but nothing too fiery. Definitely sippable, although a splash of water would not be amiss. It makes a decent Manhattan, but, for my part, once you’ve had a Manhattan with good rye, the bourbon version just doesn’t compare.

Buffalo Trace is a solid whiskey for the price, mellow enough to sip but complex enough to linger over. Fans of heavier whiskeys, in particular, should pick up a bottle. An excellent value on an American original.

Report Card

Quality Grade: B+
Value Grade: A
Final Grade: A-

Videos Whiskey

Christopher Hitchens on Johnnie Walker Black


RIP, Hitch.

Bars Miscellaneous

The Myths of the Bar, Debunked

The New York Times recently tackled a collection of beloved bar and spirits myths, debunking them with the help of some well-qualified experts.

Among them:

  • Older is better: “It’s absolute nonsense,” said Ronnie Cox, director of the Glenrothes, a Speyside Scotch. “It’s not about oldness, it’s about maturity. Age doesn’t mean anything other than that whiskey’s been in that cask for that amount of time.”
  • Sweet is silly: “I think expectations are still informed by the cocktails of the pre-craft era, when people added sour mix and cranberry cocktail,” said Tom Chadwick, owner of Dram, who insists that all his cocktails, even the sweet ones…are balanced, with the spirit, citrus, sweetener and other elements cohabiting in the glass.
  • Absinthe: Customers “really hope they’ll hallucinate,” said Maxwell Britten, beverage director at Maison Premiere, a Williamsburg bar well stocked with absinthe. “I tell them, ‘If you drink enough alcohol of any category, I guarantee you will hallucinate.’ ”
  • Irish Whiskey are Catholic or Protestant: “If you look into the ownership, it’s all international corporations,” Mr. Frizell said. “I don’t think the Irish even care.”
  • The worm in the bottle of mezcal: [Note: The myth usually claims that tequila has a worm in the bottle. It doesn't. It was mezcal, tequila's uglier sister, that did.] “It was created by Gusano Rojo in the 1950s,” said Steve Olson, an owner of the Lower East Side tequila and mezcal bar Viktor & Spoils, of the widely sold mezcal brand, “when the tequila market had boomed and left mezcal far behind, as an enterprising marketing attempt to get mezcal away from its image as moonshine.”

Kudos to the writer, Robert Simonson, for a great piece. He includes some more quotes that didn't fit, over on his blog.


Wednesday Link-O-Rama

Are you all set for the holidays? Is the pressure starting to get to you? Here are some spirituous links to improve your mood.

  • Based on this article, the New York Times has apparently never heard of ordering hard-to-find spirits over the internet. (Even so, "Going the Distance to Make Craft Cocktails at Home" is still worth reading.)
  • Seven bar jokes involving grammar and punctuation, courtesy of McSweeney's.
  • The amazing Chris McMillian has been named New Orleans' Bartender of the Year by the Museum of the American Cocktail. A well deserved honor for a great bartender.
  • Want to know why Chris McMillian is such a great bartender? Watch these videos.
  • offers up suggestions for giving Tequila this holiday season. They recommend 7 Leguas Blanco, Espolón Reposado and El Jimado Añejo, among others.
  • Washington's own The Passenger has been named to Food & Wine's list of the 50 Best Bars in America. Also on the list are NYC's PDT and Pegu Club, Alexandria's PX, Bar Agricole and Smuggler's Cove in SF and Anvil Bar in Houston.
  • Bartender Jamie Boudreau demonstrates how to barrel age a cocktail — in this case, the Whitehook, his variation on the Red Hook.
  • If you're interested in reading about how barrel aging cocktails began, Jeffrey Morgenthaler is your man.
  • Cocktail historian David Wondrich discusses What Your Drink Says About You.
  • What does a $25,000 bottle of Scotch look like? This! (Granted, it's 50-year-old Macallan, distilled in 1928. But still — 25 grand?)
  • Calling all Tiki fans! Camper English has some interesting suggestions for using Bittermen's new liqueurs as Tiki ingredients.
  • And another for the Tiki lovers: Seattle is your new town. (The article doesn't really say much, but it does give a nice shout-out to the Mai Tai.)
  • Finally, another holiday gift guide, this one from The

Cocktail Recipe: Hot Buttered Rum

Hot Buttered Rum

Hot Buttered Rum


  • 2 oz. Dark Rum
  • 2 tsp. Demerara Sugar (or Brown Sugar)
  • 1 tbsp. Salted Butter
  • Hot Water
  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters


  1. In a pre-warmed Irish Coffee mug (or small coffee cup), add the sugar and a small amount of hot water. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add rum and fill with water. Add butter and bitters. Stir until combined.
  2. Garnish with a cinnamon stick and/or orange slice, if desired.
  3. Can also be made with hot cider instead of hot water.

Rum Rum Reviews Spirits Reviews

Rum Review: 10 Cane Rum

10cane10 Cane
Trinidadian Rum
Final Grade: C-
Price: $25 (750ml)

According to their website, 10 Cane rum is made from first press Trinidadian sugar cane juice. Technically this would make it a "rhum agricole," since it's distilled from the cane juice instead of the more common molasses. It's called "10 Cane" because it supposedly takes ten sugar cane stalks to make one bottle of the rum. They've branded it as "THE WORLD’S BEST RUM." It is not.

Right out of the bottle, 10 Cane had no aroma I could detect, other than a whiff of alcohol. After it had opened up for a few minutes, I could start to smell the sugar cane. It has a sweet, brown sugar aroma; subtle, but pleasant.

Drinking it neat — again, right out of the bottle — the rum didn't do anything for me. It had a strong alcohol bite, and that's it. No real flavors that I could discern, other than a generic taste of rum.

Trying it again after a few minutes it was definitely smoother, but I still didn't find much going on. A little sweetness, a little heat, but not much else. There is none of the typical rhum agricole flavor that one finds with such brands as Clément or Neisson.

The producers recommend mixing 10 Cane in a Cuba Libre, Mojito or Daiquiri, so I whipped up a Daiquiri. My standard recipe is 2 oz rum, 1/2 oz lime and 3/4 oz simple syrup. It tasted fine; reasonably pleasant, but nothing special. Again, the flavor of the rum just seemed to get lost. This could actually be an advantage to a lot of drinkers, but I prefer my rum to taste like, well, rum.

10 Cane is certainly not a bad product, but I think there are many better options at its price point. For $25 a bottle, I expect more than just okay. And this doesn't deliver it.

Report Card

Quality Grade: C
Value Grade: D+
Final Grade: C-


Does the Mixology Movement Have a Shelf Life?

Jeff "Beachbum" Berry, the great archaeologist of Tiki drinks and cocktail commentator, posted a short essay wondering about the state of mixology today:

We love mock speakeasies. We love bartenders who wear bowler hats, Jerry Thomas facial hair, and sleeve garters. Even more than the theatricality, we love the ceremony of watching a vintage cocktail being scrupulously and lovingly brought back to life before our eyes…But we have seen the future, and it’s not mock speakeasies. It’s mocking speakeasies.

Berry relates how he was recently watching a show on FX called The League when one of the characters (Andre) announces that he's become a mixologist. Andre converts his loft into a speakeasy for a party and starts making custom ice and showing off his muddling technique. His friends, naturally, mock his pretentions, and the guys all end up drinking shots of vodka instead.

It sounds like a funny gag, although I'm not sure who the intended audience for the humor would be. (Bartenders and cocktail bloggers?) But this points out a real challenge that those of us who appreciate fine spirits and craft cocktails face.

Is the mixology movement nothing more than a fad? Will we end up back in the bad old days, where all cocktails were made with canned sour mix shot out of a sticky gun? Will rye whiskey and Creme de Violette disappear back into the mists of time?

I don't think that's going to happen. I think enough people have come to appreciate how fun and and satisfying it is to enjoy a well-made cocktail. (Or to make one themselves at home.) I do, however, think that the more precious aspects of mixology — some of them the very things Berry leads off this post expressing his love for — will fall by the wayside.

The allure of drinking in a mock speakeasy is the kind of thing that is likely to last only in certain environments with a certain audience. (Manhattan, for example.) Bartenders with unusual facial hair — I never got that one in the first place. Homemade tinctures, carbonated cocktails — the jury's still out. Molecular mixology — well, even El Bulli closed.

But the emphasis on fresh, quality ingredients, expert mixing, authentic recipes — in other words, all the things that truly make modern mixology great? I think they're here to stay.