From Issue Two of the Gear Patrol Magazine. Subscribe today for 15% off the GP Store.
At Michael Somoroff‘s house this winter, he showed me the contact sheets of his father’s elaborate still-life photography from the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s. Ben Somoroff was a student of Alexey Brodovitch — the art director of Harper’s Bazaar from 1934 to 1958. Brodovitch’s work as a teacher influenced a whole generation of photographers and artists whose editorial and advertising work would go on to define the “Mad men” era. Ben’s monthly cocktail shoots for Esquire, created in partnership with the art directors Henry Wolf and Robert Benton, were different from most of what’s printed today. They were intellectual, elaborate, sometimes abstract set pieces that did more than instruct. As art, they gave a heightened sense of what the cocktail was and how you might feel while drinking it. Plus, it was all shot on large-format film.
Michael grew up in his father’s studio, where he assisted in all facets of Ben’s work and had the opportunity to be a personal student of many of photography’s legends — André Kertész, Brassaï, Jacques Henri Lartigue and Helmut Newton, to name a few. Michael created his own studio in 1979, contributing to Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Stern and Life, and worked regularly with top international advertising agencies. Today, he’s widely recognized for his work as a tabletop director and still-life photographer. His photographic, film and installation work have been exhibited internationally and are represented in institutions like the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. His latest undertaking is a marketing and multimedia production company in partnership with the creative studio Imaginary Forces, which is responsible for, among other things, the title sequence for Mad Men.
For this cocktail project, Michael tapped the breadth of his experience, from working in film with his father to imagining the future possibilities of digital imagery. We revisited each place traveled to in this magazine through cocktails evocative of that location. In each spread you’ll see, on the left, a series of cocktails rendered in large-format film — all of the special effects created in-camera — and on the right, a futuristic version, where it’s harder to tell what is real and what is imagined.
Though aguardiente is the national spirit of Colombia, we found ourselves sipping more rum than “firewater” while in Bogotá. Our favorite is Dictador, which is distilled on the coast in Cartagena.
Razzle Dazzle was created by bartender Erbin Garcia at Caña Rum Bar in Los Angeles, CA, a rum-focused cocktail bar that “echoes the allure of the 1930’s Caribbean Isles, while maintaining its modern air of relaxed elegance.”
2oz Mount Gay Black Barrel
6 oz container raspberries
1 cup white sugar
3/4 oz Raspberry Syrup (see below)
1/2 oz Coconut Cream (Equal parts coconut meat and water to condensed milk.)
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
Bar spoon of Montenegro
1. Boil one cup of sugar and one cup of water until sugar dissolves.
2. Turn off heat and add raspberries. Mash and let steep for an hour. Strain.
1. Combine all ingredients into a shaker. Shake.
2. Pour into a tumbler with crushed ice.
3. Garnish with three raspberries.
This drink comes from Slowly Shirley, a Hollywood and Art Deco-inspired basement bar in the West Village of New York City. It was created by mixologist John Henderson.
1.5 Zacapa rum
1.0 water (room temp)
0.25 Demerara syrup
2 dash mole bitters
1. Stir all ingredients together.
2. Serve in a wine glass at room temperature.
3. Garnish with lemon swath.
Puro Cocktail with Tobacco Leaf
This cocktail, which comes from El Barón in Cartagena, requires considerable prep work and a long list of ingredients, most of which are bitters and one shrub. At its core, though, it’s a variation of the Old Fashioned, made with rum, which is a Cartagena specialty; Dictador Rum, one of our favorites, is made there.
2 oz Dictador Rum 12
0.25 oz Caramelized Onion Cordial Syrup (see below)
5 Dashes Bitters Mix (see below)
Angostura Aromatic Bitters
Angostura Orange Bitters
Fee Brothers Whiskey Barrel-Aged Bitters
Bittermans Orchard Street Celery Shrub Bitters
1 Rolled Tobacco Leaf
Ball or Large Cube of Ice
Oil for cooking
For Onion Cordial:
1. Dice onion into small bits, saute on low heat for 15 minutes. Then mash with muddler, and let dry.
2. Add oil to a pan on medium heat, add onion and splash of rum, and let the rum vaporize.
3. Add a splash of simple syrup (sugar and water), and let caramelize a bit before straining into container.
For Bitters Mix:
1. Mix equal parts: aromatic bitters, orange bitters, barrel-aged bitters, Boker’s bitters.
1. Stir onion cordial, shrub and 2oz rum in a tumbler.
2. Add large ball or cube of ice and stir.
3. Add bitters mix.
4. Garnish with rolled tobacco, and light for aromatics.
5. Drink from straw.
Japanese Whisky-Based Cocktails
With production modeled after Scotch and a bump in popularity from Lost in Translation, Japanese whisky has become a coveted and award-winning brown spirit. It tends to be smooth, restrained and a touch sweet.
This cocktail comes from The Dead Rabbit in New York, which has been named the best cocktail bar in the world. It’s a mix of Japanese whisky and Champagne and it was created by mixologist Jillian Vose.
1 teaspoon honey syrup (honey and water)
0.75 oz lemon juice
0.75 oz orange sherbet
0.5 oz Suze
0.5 oz sesame-infused Power’s Gold Label – NEED CLARITY ON RECIPE
1.5 oz Hibiki Harmony Japanese Whisky
1. Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake.
2. Strain into a Champagne glass.
Ken Watanabe Picks You Up at the Airport
Conceived by mixologist Todd Maul, from the restaurant Cafe ArtScience in Cambridge, Massachusetts, this whisky-Based cocktail plays with notes of sweetness, dryness and bitterness, using whisky, Riesling and Carpano.
1 oz Nikka Whisky
1 oz Riesling
0.25 oz Carpano dry
0.25 oz Carpano Antica
Orange peel to garnish
1. Pour all ingredients into a Japanese stirring pitcher with ice.
2. Stir well and pour over a rocks glass with a big rock.
3. Garnish with orange peel.
Grant Wheeler from The Garret in New York created the Yubari Daiquiri specifically for this project. He named it after Yubari, a ski town in Hokkaido, Japan, and it features Japanese whisky, beer syrup and a common ingredient in Japanese cuisine, the shiso leaf.
1 oz Nikka Coffey Grain Whisky
1 oz Otokoyama “Namacho” Sake
0.75 oz Sapporo Syrup (2:1 Demerera Sugar to Sapporo Premium Beer; see below)
0.5 oz Yuzu Juice
1 pinch of Smoked Sea Salt
For Sapporo Syrup:
1. Combine two parts demerera sugar to one part Sapparo Premium draft beer (works best if beer is flat).
1. Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice, and shake.
2. Strain into a coupe and garnish with a shiso leaf for aromatics.
Sri Lankan arrack is distilled from the sap of the unopened flowers of coconut palms. It’s not readily available in the US, though, so we used its Indonesian cousin, Batavia Arrack van Oosten, which is made from sugarcane and fermented red rice.
This cocktail comes from a Denver bar called Occidental, the casual sister bar to Williams & Graham next door. It’s a riff on the menu’s rum-based cocktail called Sailin’ On, here made with Batavia arrack. It was created by Sean Kenyon, who won American Bartender of the Year at the 2014 Spirited Awards.
2 oz Batavia arrack van Oosten (can substitute with rum of choice)
0.75 oz pineapple gomme syrup
0.75 oz lime juice
0.25 oz angostura bitters
1. Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake.
2. Serve in a double old fashioned with crushed ice.
3. Garnish with a pineapple frond.
This cocktail was created by Tyson Buhler, of Death & Co in New York, who was named the 2015 Bartender of the Year by the United States Bartender’s Guild (USBG) and Diageo World Class. It’s made with arrack, along with green curry leaves, lime cordial and scarlet ibis.
1 oz Batavia Arrack
1 oz Scarlet Ibis
1 oz Lime Cordial (see below)
2 fresh green curry leaves
For Lime Cordial:
1. Peel the zest off 10 limes then juice those limes.
2. Add equal parts sugar to the juice, stir to combine.
3. Add the peels the sugar/juice mixture, allow to sit overnight, strain and put into a clean container.
1. Add all ingredients to a shaker. Shake.
2. Fine strain over cracked ice.
3. Garnish with a lime wheel
The Via Maris Milk Punch
In New York’s Flatiron District, Kat & Theo‘s Via Maris Milk Punch combines Batavia arrack with High West Silver Oat whiskey — both infused with Tropicana tea leaves (not the orange juice) — then mixes in spices like pineapple, vanilla, cinnamon and almond.
1 Bottle of Tropicana-Infused High West Silver Oat (recipe below)
1 Bottle of Tropicana-Infused Batavia Arrack (recipe below)
2 cup Tahitian Vanilla Syrup (recipe below)
1 cup Cinnamon Bark Syrup (recipe below)
1 cup Ginger Syrup (recipe below)
2 cups lime juice
2 cups pineapple juice
4 cups whole milk
4 Tbsp Kashmiri Chai tea leaves
2 large pieces of cinnamon bark or 4 cinnamon sticks
To infuse spirits:
1. Add 6 tbsp Tropicana Tea leaves to 1 bottle each High West Silver Oat and Batavia Arrack. Let sit at room temperature for 45 min.
2. Taste after 30 minutes to make sure it isn’t becoming too bitter from the tea tannins.
3. Strain and set aside.
To make syrups:
1. Tahitian Vanilla: Combine 1 cup turbinado sugar, 1 cup water and 1 whole vanilla bean over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Remove vanilla bean and set aside to cool.
2. Cinnamon: Follow same instructions as above, halving quantities and replacing vanilla bean with a cinnamon stick.
3. Ginger: Combine 1/2 cup ginger juice with 1/2 cup water over medium heat; stir until well combined.
To make the cocktail:
1. Combine milk, Chai tea, and cinnamon bark or sticks in a saucepan. Use a muddler to crush up tea and cinnamon. Heat mixture to 180°F, until it’s steaming, with small, active bubbles around the edges. Turn off heat and let mixture sit for 30 minutes.
2. In a large non-reactive container, combine infused milk with both bottles of tea-infused spirits, three syrups, lime juice and pineapple juice; let sit for at least 36 hours.
3. Strain out milk curds & fats through a cheese cloth and let sit another 24 hours. Once the remaining milk fats have settled to the bottom, use a siphon to extract the liquid without disturbing the settled milk fat.
4. To serve: Add a large ice cube to a rocks glass; pour cocktail over ice and garnish with cornflower petals.
Charleston natives and food journalists Matt and Ted Lee wrote that Charleston was once the “Madeira-consuming capital of America” — and it’s experiencing a second act. The fortified Portuguese wine is on wine lists and in cocktails throughout the Lowcountry.
Ashes to Ashes
Named after the late David Bowie, “Ashes to Ashes” takes its name specifically from a song that appeared on David Bowie’s 1980 album Scary Monsters. It’s served at Fig in Charleston, SC.
0.75 oz milk
0.75 oz cream
1 oz brandy
0.5 oz Savannah Madeira
0.25 oz Goslings rum
0.5 oz sugar
12 drops teapot bitters
1. Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake.
2. Strain into a glass and garnish with grated nutmeg.
Mezcal is distilled from the agave plant by artisans using centuries-old techniques. It is produced in small villages across eight Mexican states and has a wide variety of flavor profiles that reflect the terroir, type of agave used and the producer’s methods. Flavors can range from sweet and smoky to vegetal and spicy.
Gun Metal Blue
This cocktail was created by Nick Bennett of Porchlight in New York City, a southern-inspired bar opened by Danny Meyer (of Shake Shack fame).
1.5 oz Mezcal Vida
0.5 oz Blue Curaçao
0.25 oz Peach Brandy
0.75 oz Lime Juice
0.25 oz Bitter Cinnamon Syrup
1. Combine ingredients in a shaker.
2. Shake and strain into a chilled coupe.
3. Garnish with a flamed orange coin.
This cocktail from Brooklyn bar Ramona’s co-owner, Scott Schneider, pairs smoky mezcal, brightened by a jolt of peaches, with from-scratch chipotle agave. The Aperol helps to round out the flavors and the grapefruit zest adds a refreshing, summery twist.
6 dried chipotle peppers
Bottle of agave
Mezcal, we use Vida
Fresh lemon juice
For Chipotle Agave:
1. Cut the 6 Chipotle Peppers in half and place in jar/container.
2. Add 8 oz agave and 8 oz water.
3. Let sit in fridge overnight. Strain into empty bottle and cap.
1. Muddle half a peach in shaker.
2. Add 2 oz mezcal, 3/4 oz Chipotle Agave, 3/4 oz lemon, 1/4 oz aperol.
3. Shake vigorously and strain into rocks glass over rocks.
4. Zest with grapefruit twist and drop in.
This cocktail was created by a bartender named Ivy Mix, a Spirited Award-winning bartender at Brooklyn’s Leyenda. It’s a Mexican take on the Mai Tai, with a hint of smokiness from the mezcal.
1 oz Appleton Reserve Rum
1 oz Del Maguey Vida Mezcal
0.5 oz Toasted Almond Ogreat
0.5 oz Pierre Ferrand orange curacao
0.75 oz lime juice
0.25 oz simple syrup
1. Build in a rocks glass with crushed ice.
2. Garnish with an orchid, mint sprig and lime wheel.
Glassware from the Shoot
Tumblers, Goblets and Flutes
Left to right, top to bottom:
Tapered Tumbler by Makr $28
Veritas Coupe Glass by Riedel $69 (set of two)
Short Tumbler by Makr $28
Vienne Handblown Juice Glass by Restoration Hardware $34 (set of four)
Boulevard Cut Crystal Double Old Fashioned Glass by Restoration Hardware $109 (set of four)
Vienne Handblown Wine Goblet by Restoration Hardware $48 (set of four)
Cupa-Rocks Tumbler by Sempli $50 (set of two)
Monti-Flute by Sempli $50 (set of two)
Flute by Snowe $40 (set of two)
Read More in Our Magazine
A version of this story appears in Issue Two of the Gear Patrol Magazine, 286 pages of stories, reports, interviews and original photography from five distinct locations around the world. Subscribe Now: $35