Cocktail Recipe: Mai Tai-IPA

You folks know that I love Tiki drinks, and that the regular Mai Tai is one of my favorites. Here’s an interesting twist on the classic that includes Indian Pale Ale. Sounds strange, I know. But including beer in cocktails is a popular trend right now.

Bartender-turned-author Jacob Grier literally wrote the book on beer cocktails. It’s called Cocktails on Tap: The Art of Mixing Spirits and Beer and it’s a fascinating book with a lot of good recipes.

Take a look at what he’s done here with Trader Vic’s creation.

Mai Tai-IPA

Mai Tai-IPA


  • 1 1/2 oz. IPA Beer
  • 1 oz. Aged Rum (such as El Dorado 8)
  • 1 oz. White Rum (such as El Dorado 3)
  • 1 oz. Fresh Lime Juice
  • 3/4 oz. Orgeat Syrup
  • 1/2 oz. Orange Curacao
  • Maraschino Cherry, for garnish


  1. Shake everything with ice (including the beer), then strain into an ice-filled glass. Garnish with a cherry.


Recipe from Jacob Grier's "Cocktails on Tap."

Co-created by Ezra Johnson-Greenough.

Photo credit: David L. Reamer


Book Review: Robert Simonson’s “The Old-Fashioned”

The New York Times once dubbed columnist Robert Simonson “Our man in the liquor-soaked trenches.” If there’s a better sobriquet than that in all the spirituous world, I don’t know what it is.

Simonson has written numerous fascinating articles in the Times about cocktails and spirits over the years. Now he’s written his first monograph on the subject of alcohol, and it’s a book that lives up to his considerable reputation. Dedicated to the history and importance of just one iconic cocktail, it ends up becoming a fascinating story of drinking in America itself.

The Old-Fashioned: The Story of the World’s First Classic Cocktail, with Recipes and Lore is a slim volume, but it’s filled with wonderful stories and discourse, all backed up with in-depth research solid enough to make a grad student envious. Naturally, it also contains a substantial volume of recipes for variations on this essential drink, making it the definitive reference on the subject.

A book about a single cocktail might seem a bit too granular, but Simonson makes it work. It helps, of course, that he’s chosen one of the essential drinks, one that was both reflective of a whole new style of drinking, and that had a great influence on the development of cocktails to come.

Once you’ve learned all there is to know about the drink, the second half of the book contains recipes to try on your own. It contains the original Old-Fashioned, of course, as well as the common variations (Brandy, Rum, Scotch, etc.). It also has new creations from a stellar lineup of bartenders, including Brian Miller, Chris Hannah, Erick Castro, Bobby Heugel, Julie Reiner, and Frank Cisneros.

One of my favorites — and a drink that has become a modern classic on its own — is the Oaxaca Old-Fashioned, created by Phil Ward in 2007 at Manhattan’s Death & Co.

Whether you read it for the history or the recipes, The Old-Fashioned is a lovingly-crafted book that earns its place on your shelf.


Book Review: Clay Risen’s “American Whiskey, Bourbon & Rye: A Guide to the Nation’s Favorite Spirit”

Clay Risen’s new book, American Whiskey, Bourbon & Rye: A Guide to the Nation’s Favorite Spirit, calls bourbon “the nation’s favorite spirit.” And although it may not be the most popular — based on sales, vodka is by far the champion — a fair case can be made that he is correct and it is indeed the “favorite.” Given the recent boom in whiskey production, consumption, attention, and obsession, no spirit is hotter in the United States today.

American Whiskey, Bourbon & Rye provides a useful and interesting primer on what whiskey is and how it’s made. (For Professor Cocktail’s short-hand version, check out Bourbon 101.) It also recounts the history of whiskey in the United States in fairly comprehensive details, along with discussion on the contemporary state of bourbon and rye.

In short, it conveys everything that the beginning or intermediate level tippler would likely need to know about American whiskey. (For those looking for advanced level knowledge, Charles Cowdery’s Bourbon, Straight: The Uncut and Unfiltered Story of American Whiskey remains the gold standard.)

The above content consumes only about the first quarter of the book. But the rest of American Whiskey, Bourbon & Rye is where things really get interesting. Risen catalogs the various producers of bourbon and rye, both major and minor, and provides tasting notes and ratings for their products.

More than 200 whiskeys are described and rated in this way, a Herculean effort that makes this guide invaluable.

Here is a sample listing, of one of my favorite whiskeys.

Elijah Craig Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey 18 Years Old
Age: 18 years old
Proof: 90

Nose: Corn, oak, butter, sourdough, leather, and red wine
Color: Russet
Body: Medium to full
Palate: Corn, oak, fresh bread, and dried fruit, lingering spice on finish

General: An excellent whiskey by all measures: smooth and richly flavorful it lives gloriously in the place where the perfect bourbon nose and taste converge. Though it’s out of production for the moment, chances are that demand will make Heaven Hill bring it back. Hurry up, please.

Price: $$$
Rating: ****

Risen has similar write-ups for all the whiskeys he discusses, providing comprehensive and opinionated notes for each. He doesn’t hesitate to say when he finds a whiskey to be sub-par — there are several that receive the score of “NR” for “no rating.” (Most of these are the so-called craft whiskeys, few of which impress Risen.)

Spirits guidebooks aren’t intended to be the final word on any particular brand or product. If you don’t disagree with at least some of an expert’s opinions, you might need to broaden your thinking a little. Instead, these books are road maps that help introduce readers to the breadth and depth of a spirit, giving suggestions for what you might drink and what you might avoid. They also provide guidance on what kinds of flavors to look for, and point the way towards a particular style of spirit you might enjoy best. On that score, American Whiskey, Bourbon & Rye succeeds admirably.

Note: The content of American Whiskey, Bourbon & Rye is five-star, but I’m taking one star off its rating for the very small font the book was printed in. Books like this that are intended to be reference guides need print that is easy to read, for quick flipping through and scanning the text. Unfortunately, this volume lacks that and is consequently a challenge at times to read.


Holiday Drinks Recipe: Poinsettia Punch

My latest ebook,  Professor Cocktail’s Holiday Drinks: Recipes for Mixed Drinks and More, is chock full of over 100 recipes for tasty drinks to enjoy during the holidays. Here is one example. I served this at our Christmas party last year and it was a big hit.

Poinsettia Punch

Poinsettia Punch


  • 1 1/2 oz. Gin
  • 3/4 oz. Lemon Juice
  • 1/4 oz. Cinnamon Syrup
  • 1/2 oz. Grenadine
  • 1 tsp. St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram
  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
  • Lemon Wheel, for garnish


  1. Shake all ingredients with ice, then strain into a rocks glass filled with ice. Garnish with a lemon wheel.


Created by Frank Cisneros, Dram, Brooklyn, New York


Holiday Gift Guide: Non-Spirits

Last week I ran Professor Cocktail’s holiday gift guide for spirits. Now it’s time to share my recommendations for gifts to give that aren’t actually alcohol — although, naturally, they are still related to cocktails or spirits in some way. These all get the Professor Cocktail stamp of approval.

If you’re serious about your spirits (whiskey, rum, whatever), you’re going to want to drink them out of a Glencairn glass. Beloved by single malt fans around the world.
Cocktails just taste better when accompanied by a big ole ice cube. These trays are excellent.
There are cocktail recipe books, and then there is Jim Meehan’s The PDT Cocktail Book. Any cocktail fan or bartender would love to have a copy. Guaranteed.
If you don’t know about bitters, you’re in luck. I wrote up a handy guide: Bitters 101. Read it — and then give this set as a gift.
A book full of wine cocktails by the amazing Jason Wilson? Yes, please!
You knew I was going to recommend my book, right? This is especially
good for the shopper who procastinates. The Kindle version can be gifted
in mere minutes! If you’re planning ahead — like now — the print version would sure look pretty under the tree.
Perfect for zesting citrus, grating spices like nutmeg or cinnamon, ginger, cheeses, whatever you got.
Most inexpensive cocktail shakers aren’t very good. (The main problem with them is that the pieces stick together making it very hard to open.) I have several of these, though, and they work well.
Is it possible that your loved one doesn’t have a good jigger yet? Buy him/her one!
Here’s another gorgeous book. Even if you’re not that interested in cocktails, this would look awesome on your end table. As an added bonus, it’s a really interesting book!
 Cocktail Kingdom If you’re looking for something a little fancier — and more expensive — then here’s what you do. Head over to Cocktail Kingdom and buy anything they have for sale. Seriously. Anything. It’s all awesome. I covet their bar tools.

Excerpt from “Professor Cocktail’s Zombie Horde”

If you’re interested in taking a peek at Professor Cocktail’s Zombie Horde: Recipes for the World’s Most Lethal Drink before you buy it, now you can!

I uploaded a PDF excerpt of the book to Goodreads. (Here’s the link to my author page.) But you should be able to download the file without even going to the website.

Just click here: Professor Cocktail’s Zombie Horde excerpt.

The preview gives the Table of Contents, so you can see which drinks are included, and also includes the first three entries in the book.

Note that not all of the recipes in the book are as complicated as the Don the Beachcomber original. There are several that you can make without having to hunt for ingredients.

If you enjoy what you see, you know what to do!

Zombie horde cover thumb


How to Read “Professor Cocktail’s Zombie Horde” without a Kindle

Several people have written or commented on Facebook, asking how they can read Professor Cocktail’s Zombie Horde: Recipes for the World’s Most Lethal Drink if they don’t have a Kindle. Fortunately, you’re still in luck! You can enjoy the Zombified goodness even without an ereader.

If you have a tablet (iPad, Android, Windows) or smartphone (iPhone, Android, iPod Touch, Windows, Blackberry), you can download the Kindle app via the app store and read the book that way. (I don’t have a Kindle, so I read ebooks on my iPad. And Zombie Horde looks great on the iPad.)

You can also read Professor Cocktail’s Zombie Horde on your computer using the Kindle app for PC or Mac. (Just click on the appropriate link to go to the page with more info.) If you don’t want to install anything on your computer, you can also read the book using the Kindle Cloud Reader. I’ve tried it out on the PC and this also works very well.

As you can see, there’s no reason not to buy the book today! Unless you think it would suck. I guess that’s a pretty good reason.

Amazon kindle

Books Cocktails Recipes Rum Tiki

Cocktail Recipe: Don the Beachcomber’s Zombie Punch (1934)

In my new book, Professor Cocktail’s Zombie Horde: Recipes for the World’s Most Lethal
, I make the case for the Zombie being the quintessential Tiki drink — and one of the most important cocktail creations of the 20th century.

But you might be wondering: What's in a Zombie, anyway? Good question! Most of us have heard of the drink, but a lot of people have never tried one. And even fewer have had a Zombie made in the classic style.

Here is the recipe for the original Don the Beachcomber Zombie, as printed in Professor Cocktail’s Zombie Horde. (This gives you an idea of what you'll see if you buy it.)

ZombieDon the Beachcomber's Zombie Punch (1934)


Jeff Berry
Beachbum Berry's Sippin' Safari
Club Tiki Press/SLG Publishing, 2007

The original version, the one that started it all, as served at Don the Beachcomber's famed Hollywood restaurant. This was the drink that made Don's reputation and secured his place in cocktail history.


3/4 oz. Fresh Lime Juice
1/2 oz. Don's Mix*
1/2 oz. Falernum
1 1/2 oz. Gold Puerto Rican Rum
1 1/2 oz. Aged Jamaican Rum
1 oz. 151-proof Lemon Hart Demerara Rum
Dash Angostura Bitters
6 drops (1/8 tsp.) Pernod or Herbsaint
1 tsp. Grenadine
6 oz (3/4 cup) Crushed Ice

Put everything in a blender. Blend at high speed for no more than 5 seconds. Pour into a chimney glass. Add ice cubes to fill. Garnish with a mint sprig.

*Don's Mix was one of the Beachcomber's secret ingredients. It's made by combining 2 parts grapefruit juice with 1 part cinnamon syrup. It is also available for purchase from B.G. Reynolds' syrups.

Professor's Note:

This recipe, still perhaps the best one in existence, contains several of Don the Beachcomber's signature touches, including the blend of multiple rums, the use of exotic spices, and the one-two punch of Angostura bitters and pastis. It's no wonder this is one of the most imitated drinks in the world.

Obviously Don's original version of the drink contains some obscure ingredients, like Don's Mix, falernum and Lemon Hart Rum. (The book explains what all of those things are, and more.)

But Professor Cocktail’s Zombie Horde also contains a lot of recipes that are easier for the home bartender, including a simplified Zombie recipe that includes only ingredients you can find no matter where you live.

Even if you're not looking to master mixology at home, the book contains plenty of interesting history and fun facts that I think you'll enjoy learning.

Books Tiki

The Zombie Is Alive! “Zombie Horde” available now.

One of the world’s most sublime drinking pleasures, the Zombie is the cocktail that launched a thousand Tiki bars. A sweet and sour mélange of citrus, spice, and lots of rum, the Zombie stands as one of the most significant cocktails of the past century. Created by Don the Beachcomber in 1934, the Zombie took the world by storm, and soon became the quintessential Tiki drink. Eventually, it would appear on the menus of thousands of bars and restaurants around the world.

In Zombie Horde, David J. Montgomery (aka Professor Cocktail) leads you on a journey through the history of the Zombie, starting with its humble beginnings in Hollywood, and following it as it evolved and spread over the decades. Zombie Horde includes recipes from notable bartenders like Trader Vic, David Embury, Salvatore Calabrese, and Dale DeGroff, as well as the formulas for the Zombies served at famous Tiki joints like the Tonga Room in San Francisco, Frankie’s Tiki Room in Las Vegas, and the Luau Room in San Diego.

It also includes recent cocktails that were inspired by the Zombie, with offerings from Martin Cate (Smuggler’s Cove), Brian Miller (Death & Company), Allan Katz (Caña Rum Bar), Brian Dressel (Midnight Cowboy), and Audrey Saunders (Pegu Club).

As a special bonus, Zombie Horde showcases seven new drinks – from Jim Meehan (PDT), Tom Brown (Hogo), Jeff Kinder (Distil), Joseph Swifka (La Descarga), Craig Lane (Bar Agricole), Jack Fetterman (PKNY), and Frank Cisneros (Bourgeois Pig Brooklyn) — that are appearing in print for the first time. Also making their print debut are the recipes for the Zombies served at Mahiki in London, Otto’s Shrunken Head in New York City, and Founding Farmers in Washington, D.C.


Zombie Horde is a marvelous compendium of fabulous and fascinating recipes. Tiki bars are near and dear to my heart, and I’m grateful for David J. Montgomery’s work.”
–Michael Ruhlman, best-selling author of The Soul of a ChefThe French Laundry Cookbook, and Ruhlman’s Twenty

“Good (Tiki) god! I had no idea there are so many new versions of this potion out there — and most by reputable bartenders. A good thing that someone collected them all, or else there would have to be a mid-21st century Jeff Berry (a “Son of the Beachbum”?) to dig all THOSE up! Zombie Horde will give the drink a whole new level of recognition. The Zombie is ALIVE!”
–Sven Kirsten, author of The Book of Tiki and father of the modern Tiki revival

“The Zombie’s family tree is immense, gnarly, and (in parts) wholly fabricated from unnatural elements. Also, it has many dead limbs. Professor Cocktail has done us all a favor by taking on the pruning, grafting, and fertilizing, and by eschewing all topiary embellishment. A great addition to your cocktail library.”
–Wayne Curtis, author of And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in 10 Cocktails

“As I’ve said before, Tiki drinks occupy a space somewhere in the Venn diagram of the American psyche where escapism, irony, and kitsch overlap. No Tiki cocktail is more famous — or infamous — than the Zombie. It is proof that mixology treads a thin line between insanity and genius. Attempting to chart the history and evolution of the Zombie feels like a new level of madness. But David J. Montgomery has survived to admirably tell the tale in this entertaining, insightful ode to a drink that will knock you on your ass.”
–Jason Wilson, author of Boozehound: On The Trail of the Rare, the Obscure, and the Overrated in Spirits and the wine series Planet of the Grapes

“A thoroughly researched, dare I say exhaustive, compendium of this immortal (pun intended) and classic cocktail. It’s a drink like the Zombie that makes it impossible for me to reconcile my vocation (trademark attorney) with my avocation (cocktail geek). Indeed, in no other field do you find such rampant disregard for the sanctity of a name. But there is great chaos under the cocktail heavens and, as Zombie Horde so ably shows, the situation is excellent. Highly entertaining! Hats off to Professor Cocktail, Corpse Compiler No. 1!”
–Philip Greene, author of To Have and Have Another: A Hemingway Cocktail Companion and co-founder of The Museum of the American Cocktail

About the Author

David J. Montgomery mixes his love of history and alcohol into one potent concoction through his work at He is also a nationally renowned book critic and commentator on writing and the publishing industry. Mr. Montgomery is an emeritus columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times and The Daily Beast, and has written for USA TodayThe Washington PostPhiladelphia Inquirer, and other fine publications. His short fiction has appeared both online and in print. A former Professor of History, he lives in the Washington, D.C. suburbs with his wife and two daughters.

Book Reviews Books

Book Review: Vince Keenan’s “Down the Hatch”

Until he was in his twenties, crime writer Vince Keenan knew
as much about cocktails as your maiden aunt Betty. You know, the one who also
happens to be a nun. But one day Keenan’s wife — clearly the brains of the
outfit — convinced him to try a real drink. That was the beginning of what was
to become a minor, but magnificent, obsession.

Keenan became a regular at the Zig Zag Cafe in Seattle,
Washington, where star bartenders like Erik Hakkinen and Murray Stenson plied
their trade. Keenan was an eager learner and a quick study, and he watched
everything the bartenders did, and then went home and tried it out on his own.

Down the Hatch
tells the stories of the cocktails Keenan learned, both the histories and facts
of the drinks themselves, along with his own encounters with them. Naturally,
he also includes the recipes for the drinks so that you can make them at home.
He features the best-known classic cocktails, ranging from the Margarita and
Manhattan, to the Tom Collins and Jack Rose. Unlike the recipes one finds
through Google searches, these are legitimate, tried-and-true recipes that you
can safely follow to create delicious drinks.

Keenan isn’t a bartender or professional spirits taster.
He’s a writer, and not surprisingly, Down
the Hatch
is a well written book. Kennan is a guy like you or me who spent
the time learning how to make cocktails, and now he’s sharing that knowledge
with us. He’s an amateur in the original sense of the word: someone who does
something out of love.

Part recipe book, part history lesson, and part memoir, Down the Hatch makes for a fun,
informative, and very useful read. Be warned, however: just flipping through it
is liable to make you thirsty. If you’re settling in for the long haul — and
you definitely should — you might make sure you have a drink close at hand.

Down the Hatch