New Life from Old Spirits

Hand crafted mixed drinks have been the driving force behind the evolution of most metropolitan area bars for the last six or seven years with no sign of letting up. The movement comes from the resurrection of pre-prohibition mixology using real juices, house made mixers, big ice, and layered flavors. Instead of going away as a fad, they are becoming part of the bar landscape…a resurrection of an art form.   A well-crafted cocktail is no longer a luxury but an expectation. Hand crafted, century-plus old classics like the Moscow Mule, Pimms Cup, Caipirinha, and the Pisco Sour have dethroned yesterday’s Mojito, Cucumber Martini, Cosmopolitan, and Prickly Pear Margarita. This movement isn’t about being nostalgic as much as it’s about remembering and celebrating a quality cocktail that is prepared with authentic ingredients right in front of you by someone who is qualified to do so. The slow food movement has hit the bar.

This isn’t new, but if you happen to own a bar and are a late adopter, you needn’t worry about having missed the boat. It’s safe to introduce some nostalgia to your bar – or your drinking regimen. If you’re in a rural area or a third tier city, you may be the first to host a party or open a bar featuring pre-prohibition style drinks.

Here are a couple of easy ones to goose your bar (whether you have a FEIN or you just want to make a killer drink for your Bunco group)

Absinthe Bollyside

Absinthe is a ‘spirit’ and not a liqueur, because sugar isn’t a player in the fermenting process – and, you may hear that the ingredient ‘wormwood’ is a hallucinogen. Not proven – but the mystique alone can spark enough interest to encourage a try.


  • ¾ oz Absinthe (I like Lucid or La fee Parisienne
  • ½ part Bourbon (I prefer Woodford Reserve or Bookers)
  • ½ part Gin (Hendricks or Bombay)
  • ¼ part Peach Schnapps
  • 1 part Red Bull (the Absinthe is the throw back…not the Red Bull)
  • 1 drop of Cranberry Juice (hold aside)


  • Add ingredients (all but the cranberry juice) to a Boston Mixer (stainless steel cup) with ice
  • Cap with a mixing glass Vigorously shake ingredients with ice  (you should hear the ice pop loudly as you shake…if you don’t, you’re being soft…)
  • Pour into a collins glass over ice (preferably large chunks or cubes of ice)
  • Add drop of Cranberry Juice and serve (don’t mix…allow cranberry to bleed into drink)

If you want to add some real theater, try making a “Green Fairy”…this is a true throw back using a cube of sugar suspended over the glass of absinthe using an “absinthe spoon”…drip ice cold water over the cube to dissolve the sugar into the absinthe, making the drink cloudy while slightly diluting the strong anise flavor.


Caipirnha (pronounced kie-purr-REEN-yah) is the national cocktail of Brazil, made with a sweetish rum-style spirit called Cachaca (pronounced kah-SHAH-sah – like rum but made with sugar cane instead of molasses). It is often seen at Carnavale. The word Caipirnha, roughly translated from Portuguese, means “country bumpkin” or “hillbilly” but is used mostly to describe the drink.


  • 2 oz Cachaca (pronounced kah-SHAH-sah – like rum but made with sugar cane instead of molasses)
  • 1 lime (cut into quarters then in halves of quarters)
  • 2 tsp granulated sugar


  • Place lime wedges and sugar into an old-fashioned glass and muddle (moosh it with a muddler – looks like an itty bitty baseball bat)
  • Fill the glass with ice cubes
  • Pour in Cachaca Stir well
  • if you can get you hands on real sugar cane, use this as a garnish / swizzle stick

*Blue Orbit Restaurant Consulting is a full service restaurant consulting firm based in Atlanta, Georgia

Ray Camillo – Founder & CEO, Blue Orbit Restaurant Consulting

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