Open for Business

I shuttered the Libation Lab shop for the holidays a few years ago, got busy, weathered a global pandemic, moved cross-country, and ultimately abandoned the project, but a wave of kind support of my work enticed me to reopen today.

Three Equal Parts prints have been updated and enlarged, and I made a bold one-color version for tee-shirts. Working on getting cocktail kits, handmade muddlers and and engraved decanters back in production, as well as some fun new stuff like cocktail stickers, instructional booklets, and an outrageous, sculptural spirit aging kit.

Prints and tees are discounted through the end of May at shop.LibationLab.com with free shipping to sweeten the deal.

Let me know if there is anything else you would like to see added to the store.

Support My Bartender

We all want to show love to those impacted by Covid-19, and if you don’t have a bartender of your own to support, consider supporting some of mine (while getting an amazing deal if you’re in San Francisco).

Edible Excursions, the tour company that hosts my Craft Cocktails at City Center tour is partnering with Hawker Fare, a Laotian/Isaan (NE Thailand) restaurant that we feature on many of our Mission food tours.

$40 buys you a cocktail kit with ingredients to make four drinks and a live workshop on Saturday night to guide you through making three different cocktails. Four cocktails for $40 is a steal and the workshop on top is just gravy. You can also order takeout with your kit.

If you are anywhere else in the world, you can still sign up for the classes and participate live with your own ingredients for $25, which goes to support the business and their staff.

Click here to order

Different kit and workshop every week. May 30 is Tiki Time!

Cocktail Cake

The complexity of a cocktail doesn’t always translate well into food, but I’ve found a reliable medium in the form of classic pound cake. As summer is winding down and there is a ton of fresh fruit at the market, I have been breaking these out more often. It’s simple even if you’re not a baker. You make a pound cake, poke it full of holes and soak it in a syrup you make by simmering cocktail ingredients and sugar. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can slice and layer the cake with fresh fruit and whipped cream, but it’s great on its own during brunch or at a picnic.

The first iteration was a Tom Collins Cake (pictured), soaked in a syrup of fresh meyer lemon juice, sugar and St. George Spirits Botanivore gin. I did this as a baking project with the kiddo, so we left the gin out of his and called it lemonade cake. Neither version disappointed.

I’ve included syrup recipes for the Tom Collins, Jungle Bird, Sidecar and Blood & Sand, but there are an infinite number of permutations and you can’t screw up too badly because when you substitute your own creation for one of the syrups below, taste your syrup and spend the baking time balancing the sweet, tart and spirit flavors.

Cocktail Cake

  • 3 sticks butter, plus more for pan
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine syrup ingredients in a small sauce pan. Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to low. Remove from heat after 8-10 minutes.

With a mixer, cream butter, then add sugar a little at a time. Add eggs one at a time, beating after adding each. Stir dry ingredients together in a bowl and add to mixer a little at a time alternating with a splash of milk. Add vanilla. Pour into a greased and floured loaf pan and bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

When just cool enough to handle, remove the cake from the pan and poke several deep holes from all sides with a wooden skewer. Pour half the syrup into the pan and gently replace the cake. Pour remaining syrup over the cake and let it sit for an hour or more to soak up all the syrup. If pouring all of the syrup over would overflow the pan, pour as much as will fit and continue adding syrup as the cake absorbs it.

Tom Collins Syrup

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup St. George Botanivore
  • Juice and zest of 3 meyer lemons

Jungle Bird Syrup

  • 1/4 cup sugar (brown sugar works well too)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1⁄2 cup dark rum
  • 1⁄4 cup Campari
  • 1⁄2 cup pineapple juice
  • Juice and zest of 2 limes

Sidecar Syrup

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup Cognac
  • 1/4 cup Cointreau
  • Juice and zest of 3 lemons

Blood & Sand Syrup

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/3 cup Scotch
  • 1/3 cup Cherry Heering
  • 1/3 cup sweet vermouth
  • 1/3 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice

It’s All Gazpacho – One Simple Recipe Perfect For Soup, Bloody Mary Mix, Michelada, and Sangrita

Inspired by overripe tomatoes and stone fruit at the farmers market this week, I mixed up a fresh BLOODY MARY MIX that ended up pretty ideal as the base for a MICHELADA or sipped with tequila as SANGRITA. Eventually I realized that it was all just GAZPACHO and started eating it with a spoon. Then I made a video.


Gazpacho-Bloody-Mary-Michelada-Sangrita Recipe

  • 2 pounds very ripe tomatoes (I like early girl)
  • 1 pound very ripe peaches and plums (optional), pitted
  • 6 sweet red peppers (Nardellos or carmens, or even a couple red belle peppers)
  • 2 pickling cucumbers (or one big one), peeled
  • 1 large shallot
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • juice of one lime
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns, cracked but not ground
  • 2-3 teaspoons sriracha, or more to taste


  1. Blend the fruits and veggies until very smooth, scraping down the sides as needed.
  2. Add the vinegar, juice, spices and sriracha and blend to incorporate.
  3. Refrigerate at least 4 hours, if not overnight.
  4. Strain through fine mesh, pressing all liquid out of the solids.

From here, you could:

  1. Pour it in a bowl, drizzle with olive oil and top with croutons.
  2. Fill one shot glass with this and another with tequila and sip the two.
  3. Stir 4 ounces gently into 8 ounces of Mexican beer in a salt-rimmed glass, garnished with a lime wedge.
  4. Combine 4 ounces with 2 ounces of tequila, roll back and forth between glasses to combine and serve over ice with a celery stick garnish.

New Nocino Recipe

It’s green walnut season again… nope, it’s over. These things are only around for a few weeks, so grab them while you can.

The last time I cranked out a significant batch of nocino was 2010, and I loved it, but my partner in crime at the time found the menthol and herbal flavors too intense (the term she used was medicinal), so this batch is a little warmer, sweeter and less herbal, but still true to tradition.

Five months is more than adequate maceration time, so if you’re already gearing up for Christmas presents, your nocino will be ready just in time. You will also find that it matures and flavors develop in the bottle for up to a year.

Nocino is a fantastic winter warmer, served chilled or over ice after dinner, but also works remarkably well in place of sweet vermouth in classic cocktail recipes and adds great flavor to hearty cold-weather desserts. I’ll post some recipes soon.


Nocino Nuovo

  • 19 green walnuts, washed and quartered
  • 1.5 cups sugar
  • 750 ml bottle of vodka
  • 1 cup port
  • Zest of one lemon
  • Zest of one orange
  • 3-inch cinnamon stick
  • 6 cloves
  • 1 star anise
  • 1/2 teaspoon Szechuan peppercorns


1. Combine walnuts, herbs and sugar in a glass jar, stir to coat, and set in a warm spot for two days.
2. Add the rest of the ingredients, cap tightly and give it a good shake.
3. Let your infusion sit for at least 4 months, or up to a year, shaking the jar weekly, if not daily.
4. Pour into a clean glass bottle through a coffee filter-lined funnel.

This recipe yields over a liter, and makes fantastic holiday gifts, packaged in small bottles or flasks with a hand-made label and a couple of cocktail recipes.



Last Minute Father’s Day Gift Guide

You’re the reason your dad drinks, so you might as well get him what he wants for Father’s Day.

fathers day



There’s even more Japanese influence in the American bar scene now than there was among the Impressionists, so try starting with one of these new, fantastic (yet affordable enough to not make him ask why you are still living in his basement rent-free) bottles of whiskey from the Land of the Rising Sun.

Kikori: named after the Japanese legend of the woodsman (how’s that for a manly dad gift?), Kikori is actually a rice-based spirit, aged in oak for 3+ years like traditional whiskies, and is extremely easy-drinking. A number of cocktail recipes I’ve seen are swapping it out for tequila and even vodka, so he can look tough without upsetting his delicate palate.

Suntory Toki: breaking with tradition, Suntory’s chief blender crafted Toki based not on the usual Yamazaki malts, but focused on their Hakushu single malt with a hearty dose of Chita grain whiskey. It’s additionally unconventional for featuring the boldly flavored grain whiskey, which is usually more of a filler in Japanese blends, so this makes a nice gift for you father, a trailblazer in his day, or perhaps among the other members of his homeowner association.

Hibiki Harmony: a master blend of more than ten different whiskies – perhaps the mellow flavor, warm color, enchanting faceted bottle and overtly calming name will finally get your old man chill out about the Mets.


I don’t know what kind of wine your dad likes to drink; he’s picky. You’re tired of hearing him complain that he never wants to open a bottle of wine anymore, now that he’s the only one drinking it, and since your second-quarter bonus check just came in, check out a Coravin. The impressive nature of the gift will make up for the fact that on Sunday you’ll be handing him a printout of the shipping details.


Yeah, how about you take your dad out for a beer? You never stop by any more and when you do, the kids are always running roughshod over you both, so just take a couple hours and bring him to his favorite pub for a couple of cold ones. He’d like that.

Three More Equal Parts: The Simplest Cocktail Recipes Expanded

It doesn’t get much easier than this: equal measures of three ingredients to make these six fantastic cocktails from only eight bottles – and now I have an excuse to make a new Venn Diagram (here is last week’s).


Stir ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass or an old fashioned glass with a big cube of ice.  Garnish with an orange twist.

  • Bijou: 1 ounce Green Chartreuse, 1 ounce gin, 1 ounce sweet vermouth, dash of orange bitters
  • Boulevardier: 1 ounce bourbon, 1 ounce Campari, 1 ounce sweet vermouth
  • Contessa:  1 ounce Aperol, 1 ounce gin, 1 ounce dry vermouth
  • Dry Negroni: 1 ounce Campari, 1 ounce gin, 1 ounce dry vermouth
  • Negroni: 1 ounce Campari, 1 ounce gin, 1 ounce sweet vermouth
  • Old Pal: 1 ounce Campari, 1 ounce rye, 1 ounce dry vermouth


Three Equal Parts: The Simplest Cocktail Recipes

It doesn’t get much easier than this: equal measures of three ingredients to make these four fantastic cocktails from only six bottles – and now I have an excuse to make a Venn Diagram.


Stir ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass or an old fashioned glass with a big cube of ice.  Garnish with an orange twist.

  • Bijou: 1 ounce Green Chartreuse, 1 ounce gin, 1 ounce sweet vermouth, dash of orange bitters
  • Boulevardier: 1 ounce rye, 1 ounce Campari, 1 ounce sweet vermouth
  • Dry Negroni: 1 ounce Campari, 1 ounce gin, 1 ounce dry vermouth
  • Negroni: 1 ounce Campari, 1 ounce gin, 1 ounce sweet vermouth



Note: This has been updated since it was pointed out to me that, despite my preference, a bijou is made with sweet vermouth and not dry, so in reconfiguring my original design (below),  and I dropped the Vieux Carré, which was a stretch on the theme, but also delicious without the benedictine, bitters or lemon twist.

3_equal_partsVieux Carré: 1 ounce rye, 1 ounce cognac, 1 ounce sweet vermouth, 1 teaspoon of benedictine, 2 dashes orange bitters, and is garnished with a lemon twist)


Bitters Kits and Cocktail Recipes

bitterskitAlways a hot holiday gift, I’ve expanded my offering of DIY Cocktail Bitters Kits to include new flavors and Mini Bitters Booster Kits. (Underlined text all links to the corresponding item in my online store if you are looking to purchase)

If you’re wondering how to use them, you can start off by replacing the Angostura, orange or Peychaud’s bitters in most any classic cocktail, and here are three excellent drink recipes (1 strong, 1 light and 1 bowl of punch) for each of the flavors I offer.

Continue reading “Bitters Kits and Cocktail Recipes”

Simple Citrus Soda Syrup Recipes

I’m buried under cheap, excellent winter citrus and before it ends, I want to bottle every flavor. Everyone’s making seltzer at home, but the commercially available soda syrups are gross, so here’s an easy and inexpensive way to make your own. These also lend themselves to crafting epic highballs, spritzers and even work in beer cocktails.

Continue reading “Simple Citrus Soda Syrup Recipes”