The Alcoholipsist

Explore the world of alcohol through John Walsh’s wine column, Christopher Hirst’s cocktail recipes and other intoxicating possibilities

30 October 2019

The Fallen Leaves

The Alcoholipsist

Befitting the hazy, illusory world of cocktails, the book American Bar by Charles Schumann (described by its publisher as ‘the most authoritative cocktail book ever published’) has scant association with America. Mr Schumann’s bar is in Munich and his guide was originally written in German. However, it is one of few bar books to venture […]

30 December 2018

New Year Cocktail: The Ward 8

The Alcoholipsist

The slightly eerie name of this classic cocktail actually refers to an electoral district in Boston. In 1898, the concoction was invented in the bar of the Locke-Ober restaurant to celebrate the election of one Martin Lomasney to the state’s legislature. Curiously, the celebration occurred before the election since the election of Lomasney was a […]


4 May 2018

Cuervo de Mayo cocktail

The Alcoholipsist

For a spring cocktail, head south of the border, down Mexico way. The Cuervo de Mayo is a compound devised by the Cuervo tequila people to celebrate the Cinco de Mayo national holiday. It  commemorates the Battle of Puebla on 5 May 1862 when the 4,000-strong Mexican army trounced twice as many French troops despatched […]

23 March 2018

Tasting Notes: Reflections of an Alcoholipsist

The Alcoholipsist

The Resurrection of Viognier In the first of a new series on wine, John Walsh reflects on the grape that has been around since the Romans, nearly died out in the 1960s and is now making a miraculous 21st century comeback It’s all the fault of Sauvignon Blanc.  In the 1990s, I drank the stuff […]

24 January 2018

Burns Nicht Cocktail

The Alcoholipsist

Christopher Hirst hails a great cocktail for Burns Night – even if it’s named for Bobby not Robbie What better celebration of Burns’ Night, which falls on Thursday 25 January, than one of the handful of cocktails that utilises the potion referred to by the late Alistair Cooke as ‘the golden wine of Old Scotland’. […]

31 October 2017

Satan’s Whiskers

The Alcoholipsist

First appearing in the Savoy Cocktail Book of 1930, both the name and hefty potency of this drink are evocative of the Jazz Age. A rich marmalade in colour with a bouquet that combines orange, ginger and toffee, the Satan’s Whiskers is far from being a hellish torment for the taste buds. ‘Very smooth and […]

15 September 2017

The Hanky-Panky

The Alcoholipsist

A perfect drink for autumn evenings, this cocktail is a rarity in that it comes with dialogue attached. Whenever he was feeling below par, the distinguished stage actor Sir Charles Hawtrey (not to be confused with the Charles Hawtrey who was Private Widdle in Carry On Up the Khyber) would pop into the Savoy’s American […]

23 April 2017

The Bee’s Knees

The Alcoholipsist

As an expression of approbation, Bee’s Knees dates from the early Twenties and the eponymous drink came soon after. Honey was among myriad additives utilised to disguise the rotgut gin of Prohibition. On page 23 of his magisterial volume The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks, David A Embury describes the early version of Bee Knees […]

23 December 2016

Eggnog – a cracking drink for New Year parties

The Alcoholipsist

That party drink you see being ladled out in old black and white American films  as winter snow falls silently outside is more likely to be eggnog than punch. As David A Embury points out in his classic manual The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks (1948): ‘It is the traditional drink of the holiday season […]

16 December 2016

The Cosmonaut

The Alcoholipsist

From Regarding Cocktails by Sasha Petraske (Phaidon, £19.95), this simplest of cocktails demonstrates the merits of flavour-imbued gin over the tabula rasa of vodka. The name was intended as ‘a jab’ at the now passé Cosmopolitan, an unrewarding mix of cranberry and vodka. Despite the singular inclusion of raspberry jam, the result is complex and […]

22 September 2016

The Sidecar

The Alcoholipsist

The Sidecar is one of the very few good things to emerge from the First World War. In his seminal 1948 work The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks, David A Embury writes that it was invented in Paris by a friend of his, a military officer who was carried ‘to and from the little bistro […]

12 September 2016

The Bramble

The Alcoholipsist

by Christopher Hirst A drink in the great British tradition of heftily potent fruit liqueurs, the Bramble was invented in the Nineties by the late Dick Bradsell, a star mixologist if ever there was one. In its original formulation, the Bramble incorporates creme de mure (blackberry liqueur), the somewhat sweeter sister of creme de cassis […]

9 September 2016

The Whiskey Sour

The Alcoholipsist

One of the great classics, this is the first drink I order whenever I arrive Stateside. It’s the taste of the city, best consumed in Bar 65 at the Rainbow Room, high atop (as they say) New York’s soaring Rockefeller Center, but I have been disappointed elsewhere. Once at JFK airport, my request prompted a […]

27 August 2016

The Bloody Maria

The Alcoholipsist

Christopher Hirst tries a Bloody Mary variant that works better than the original Hard-core Bloody Mary fans may shudder but by substituting tequila for vodka, you end up with a more interesting drink. The Bloody Maria is close to Sangrita, the two-glass cocktail that is the preferred way of consuming tequila in Mexico. In one […]

15 August 2016

Blood and Sand: Scotch-based classic

The Alcoholipsist

If you’re looking for a drink to toast the Edinburgh Festival (the thinnest excuse will suffice for the dedicated cocktail enthusiast) how about this Scotch-based classic with artistic associations? Invented for the premiere of a Rudolph Valentino weepie of 1922, Blood and Sand suggests the Sahara but we should really be thinking of Seville. In […]

6 August 2016

The Caipirinha: spirit of Olympia

The Alcoholipsist

To enhance the pleasure – or, possibly, mitigate the boredom – of the 2016 Olympics, there is no more appropriate accompaniment than the Caipirinha. You can rest assured that many in the host nation will be raising a glass of the same stimulant. The active ingredient in the caipirinha is cachaça, a sugar cane spirit […]

1 July 2016

The Manhattan

The Alcoholipsist

  Let’s toast the Fourth of July with one of the greats. Some say it is the greatest. ‘I think the Manhattan is the best cocktail on earth,’ writes Gary Regan in his authoritative guide The Joy of Mixology. The drink is customarily dated to 1874, when it was created by a barman at the […]

25 June 2016

The Last Word

The Alcoholipsist

Given the intoxicating nature of the subject, it seems appropriate to start a cocktail column with the Last Word. Invented in the Twenties at the Detroit Athletic Club (which sounds my kind of sports facility), it is one of the greatest bittersweet cocktails. When I ordered one at Untitled, the restaurant of the Whitney Museum […]

5 May 2016

The Mojito

The Alcoholipsist

Once the cocktail de choix in the hippest bars, the mojito has slipped in favour but when I took my first sip in maybe a decade I was reminded what a sublime refresher this is. Apart from the Mojito’s undoubted Cuban origins, sometime towards the end of the 19th century, much about the drink is […]