mai tai

In the 1970s, due to unfortunate fashion trends such as leisure suits and mustaches, American men had a terrible time getting laid. To address this issue, a few intrepid entrepreneurs invented Fern Bars. The purpose of Fern Bars was to get women so intoxicated they would overlook the aforementioned questionable fashion of the era and be convinced to put out. The seduction was accomplished by serving syrupy sweet fruity drinks that packed a fucking shit-ton of alcohol. These abominations were detrimental to the reputations of classic savory cocktails, but in no way resembled them.

Trader Vic, inventor of the Mai Tai, is often accused of being associated with the fern bar movement. While his signature drinks were co-opted and bastardized by the fern bar proprietors, Trader Vic actually created a wholly different animal: the tiki bar.

Given its affiliation with fern bars, and their modern equivalent, TGIFriday’s, the Mai Tai is one drink I avoided. However, Paul Harrington did see fit to include it as one of the 50 classics in Cocktail: The Drinks Bible for the 21st Century. So I got over my prejudice and mixed a couple of Mai Tais for the Photographer and myself.

While the rum is buried in the Mai Tai and it is a sweeter drink than I normally prefer, when made properly the sweetness is not overwhelming. The Mai Tai pours a nice red and the flavor is fairly fruity, with a hint of almond. I recommend the Mai Tai, but probably will not mix it terribly often.

The recipe I used is the simplest one of three available in my collection of bar books. The other two call for the addition of apricot brandy, which would cause excessive sweetness and extraneous fruitiness. In Cocktail: The Drinks Bible for the 21st Century, the recipe provides the option of simple syrup or grenadine - I chose to use Fee Brother’s American Beauty. Using a cheaper brand would make the Mai Tai saccharine sweet.

planter’s punch

After sampling the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club, I mixed up two Planters Punches for the photographer and I. However, at this point in the evening, I was a bit into my cups and all I had written on my notepad was make more.

So in the interest of providing quality reviews to all five Propeller Skies readers, I made a few more Planters Punches this evening. Depending on who is telling the story, the Planters Punch was invented in St. Louis or Jamaica. Also depending on the source, the recipe varies substantially. The recipe I used consists primarily of rum and lemon juice, with a dash of orange juice and simple syrup.

The Planters Punch is an extremely tart libation. Initially, I was overwhelmed by the lemon, next came the sting of the alcohol, and finally a hint of orange appeared in the aftertaste. While the flavor is similar to the Frisco, the Planters Punch lacked the herbal complexity of the former. I found the Planters Punch rather boring.

On the second one, I increased the orange juice slightly and replaced the simple sugar with Stirrings Blood Orange Bitters*. The orange flavor was slightly more pronounced and the bitters added a hint of complexity. Even modified, Planters Punch is not recommended and will not be in regular rotation at Casa del Smoove.


* These are not bitters in the traditional sense of the term, in that they are non-alcoholic and rather sweet.

meet the new boss, same as the old boss

Those of you expecting change are in for a big disappointment.

royal bermuda yacht club cocktail redux

Alert Propeller Skies readers will recall I previously cheated by making the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club with rum from an improper island. A few days ago, The Photographer came over for drinks and dinner, so I acquired some actual Barbados rum to make the drink correctly. I found Mount Gay Special Reserve at Green’s on Ponce de Leon, which worked perfectly.

While I liked the previous version of the cocktail, when made properly it is off the hizzle fo’ shizzle. The flavor remains about the same, however the Mount Gay Special Reserve makes for a much mellower and slightly sweeter concoction. The Royal Bermuda Yacht Club is smoove as hell. Try one today.

magic hat summer 2008 variety show review

Alert Propeller Skies readers will recall I discovered Magic Hat beers at a bar in Pittsburgh about a year ago. Until sometime this summer, Magic Hat’s delicious products were unavailable in Atlanta - Strip City™ and The Republican was too lazy to bring me back any when she drove to New England, so I was thrilled to find a variety pack at Green’s.

While consuming the myriad brews in the variety show, I recorded my impressions to share the joy of Magic Hat with Prizzo Skeezy readers. Unfortunately, I was heavily into my research when I did that and my notes are rather unclear, so some errors or omissions may occur.


Magic Hat #9 is billed as an almost pale ale. That is not inaccurate, as the beer does not explode with hoppy zest like Smoove D reference pale ales Sierra Nevada and Phinn and Matt’s. Nevertheless, this is a fine brew with hints of apple and raspberry. Although Magic Hat #9 is not in my regular pale ale rotation, I do enjoy it and will pick up a six pack every now and again.

circus boy

I hate hefeweizen. When I get some as part of a variety pack, I sample it, confirm I dislike it, and then unload the rest on unsuspecting homeless people, of which my neighborhood has plenty. Much to my surprise, I enjoyed Magic Hat’s Circus Boy. The hefeweizen was savory, with a stinging hint of citrus. I suspect I liked it because it was a fairly minimalist example of the style - Magic Hat did not overdo the beer with an excess of competing flavors.

hocus pocus

Hocus Pocus is a seasonal ale produced by Magic Hat. I found it crisp, with a taste of copper. There is a nice, but not overwhelming, hop bitterness to the beer. Hocus Pocus is nicely balanced and reminds me of unnaturally blue sky and open fields.

notion (summer 2008)

I have no idea what the fuck this beer was, but I liked it. In contrast to the previous three brews, this is a fairly dark beer. The flavor was caramel with plenty of malty goodness and an unexpected finish with hints of lemon.

mr. beer review - part one

Several months ago, Deezy offered The Photographer and I some brews he made with a Mr. Beer Home Beer Kit. I was skeptical, but the beer tasted perfectly fine.

About a week ago, The Photographer hooked a cracka up with a Mr. Beer Home Beer Kit. I cooked up a batch, and while I have not sampled any yet, I expect decent results based on Deezy’s beers.

ease of use

As a beginner, a key advantage of the Mr. Beer Home Beer Kit is simplicity. The tedious work is already completed - all I had to do was boil water, dissolve the Booster, and add hopped malt extract. While the pre-made hopped malt extract limits flexibility compared to all grain brewing, the final flavor of the beer can be modified with additional hops, or by adding honey, brown sugar, or molasses to increase alcohol content and subtly change the flavor.

mr. beer home beer kit initial impressions

Mr. Beer is extremely easy to use. I only needed an hour to sanitize everything, cook the wort, fill the keg, and pitch the yeast. I plan on brewing a few of the ingredient kits to get a feel for the process and then experiment a bit.

If all goes well, I see an upgrade to a more hard core setup in the future. However, Mr. Beer provides enough avenues for customization to keep me occupied for at least the next year.

jack rose

I fired up the internet and ordered some Fee Brothers products from Kegworks, amusingly located in Buffalo, New York, after discovering Toco Giant and Decatur Wine and Spirits carry a limited amount of Fee Brothers’ product line. My shipment included some Fee Brothers American Beauty grenadine, so I mixed up a Jack Rose.

I started with the Jack Rose version found in Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails. The Jack Rose poured a gorgeous deep red, which was almost purple. I suspect this would be a popular cocktail in Midtown. It would likely cause substantial anger as well, because it looks sweet but is not. The secret is difficult to find real pomegranate grenadine, which is not disgustingly sweet like certain popular brands.

The first taste is delicious lemon citrus sharpness. Then comes a hint of apple. Finally the pomegranate flavor of the grenadine comes through in the slightly sweet finish.

As the Jack Rose can also be made using lime, next I tried the recipe in Cocktail: The Drinks Bible for the 21st Century. This version of the Jack Rose increases the Applejack and grenadine, while substituting lime for lemon. As expected, more grenadine makes the drink sweeter, but using lime mitigates this. The key difference is the extra grenadine pushes the apple flavor far into the background. While it was sweeter, I liked this version of the Jack Rose best.

The Jack Rose is recommended and will have a place in my regular cocktail rotation. Try one today, if some real pomegranate grenadine is on hand.

sunday sours: the whiskey sour

Sunday, I decided to stick it to Big Brother by mixing up a classic Whiskey Sour. The recipe in my favorite bar book called for two ounces of blended whiskey and another two ounces of lemon juice, which I found absurd. So I busted out American Bar, amusingly written by a German, Charles Schumann.

Mr. Schumann’s Whiskey Sour recipe had far more sensible proportions, so I mixed one up - except I substituted Rye for Bourbon. The results were all right, but far too sweet, with the sugar overpowering the lemon. For the second round, I omitted an extraneous bar spoon of sugar and came up with the following:

  • 1.5 ounces Rye;
  • 0.75 ounces lemon juice; and
  • 0.25 ounces simple syrup.

Shake vigorously in an iced cocktail shaker and serve in a sour glass*.

Much better. Alert drunks will note that this recipe is similar to the Frisco - which uses Benedictine as a sweetener instead of simple syrup and features slightly more whiskey.

A classic cocktail worth trying, the Whiskey Sour is recommended. However, I likely will not mix them on a regular basis, as I have several other favorites.

royal bermuda yacht club cocktail

The other day I gave Fee Brothers a call to see if any of their fine syrups and bitters were available in the greater Atlanta area. Much to my surprise, they do have distribution down here and pointed me to Toco Giant and Decatur Wine and Spirits. So I went on a mission to the east side to acquire some Fee Brothers items.

My first stop was Toco Giant, which did indeed carry roughly three different Fee Brothers syrups. None of which I was looking for. I picked up a bottle of Fee Brother’s Falernum and scored some rare Marie Brizard Triple Sec, so the trip was not a total waste. Next, I paid a visit to Decatur Wine and Spirits - they carry the full line of Fee Brothers bitters. While there, I noticed they also stock Luxardo Maraschino liqueur.

Upon returning home, I needed to find a recipe to try out my shiny new bottle of Falernum, so I turned to my copy of Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails and found the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club Cocktail. Consisting of rum, lime juice, and with Falernum and Cointreau as a sweetener instead of simple syrup, the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club Cocktail is a strange kind of daiquiri.

I made mine with Bacardi instead of the prescribed Barbados rum, as that is what I had handy. The concoction poured almost white, with a nice citrus bouquet. The Royal Bermuda Yacht Club Cocktail has a light refreshing citrus flavor, with a hint of the exotic added by the Falernum. I stuck to the recipe for the first one, but could not taste the Cointreau, so I doubled it for taste test number two. Much improved. I highly recommend the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club and it makes a tres dope summer cocktail.


As I am a huge fan of Martinis and enjoy the odd Manhattan, I was looking forward to trying the Algonquin, which is made with rye whiskey, dry vermouth, and pineapple juice. I expected it to taste like the bastard child of the two previously mentioned cocktails with a touch of pineapple.

Instead, the Algonquin highlights the flavor of the rye very well, with subtle pineapple in the finish. Unfortunately, I discovered I do not like whiskey mixed with dry vermouth. When in the mood for whiskey and vermouth, I much prefer a Manhattan or Rob Roy, which require sweet instead of dry. And when in the mood for rye, I find a Frisco or Sazerac hit the spot much better.

I will not be making the Algonquin again. However, it was worthwhile to mix up a few for the purposes of scientific inquiry.