Making Music: A July cocktail

For this musical edition of Motif, I thought to myself: What would be better than casting a spotlight on one of the few-and-far-between, musician-owned distilleries that are actually good? I chose Heaven’s Door, which, like its owner, stands out amongst the rest. 

Heaven’s Door is the one and only Bob Dylan’s distillery. Right now they produce a bourbon, a rye and a double-barrel bourbon. I have had all three and I can say that all three are worth your time. They all sip and mix beautifully. 

The cocktail recipe this month utilizes Heaven’s Door’s double-barrel bourbon, but you could use all or any of the three whiskey options that they offer. The rye will make the cocktail spicier, so you may want to add more sugar. The bourbon will create a less woody cocktail. All different, but all yummy.

Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door

  • 1 ½ ounces Heaven’s Door double-barrel bourbon
  • ½ ounce Amaretto 
  • ½ ounce filtered water
  • 1 barspoon sugar
  • 2 dashes orange bitters
  • 1 Maraschino cherry
  • 1 king cube (4 ounces cube)

In a rocks glass, add the sugar, bitters, and water. Stir until sugar is dissolved.

Add king cube, Amaretto, and bourbon. Stir lightly.

Garnish with skewered Maraschino cherry. 

Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door is a play on an Old Fashioned without the warm spices of the Angostura Bitters. It’s more orange-forward with the nutty notes of Amaretto, followed by the woody caramel notes of the bourbon. Despite having roots in the Old Fashioned, it tastes nothing like one. It makes for a delicious dessert cocktail, and despite being all spirit, it is light enough to enjoy on a hot summer night. 

So enjoy Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door and maybe a classic Bob Dylan album while you do so. 

Tropical Summertime Spritz 

Summer is upon us (finally) again! And what better way to celebrate the hot weather than a new spritz in your cocktail repertoire? 

This month I made a coconut fat-washed Campari as a base for a unique, crushable spritz to liven up your warmer months. The most involved process is not that involved, so don’t get nervous. 

Get yourself some unrefined coconut oil and for every four and a half ounces of Campari, add two ounces of the coconut oil. I’d recommend starting small with four-and-a-half ounces of Campari in case you don’t like the final product. If that happens, you haven’t wasted much alcohol. 

First make sure the coconut oil is liquid, which just means submerging its vessel in hot water for about ten to fifteen minutes. Once the coconut oil is liquefied, marry it with the Campari. Seal the liquid in a glass jar and allow it to sit at least four hours at room temperature. Next, put it in the freezer overnight. The longer you allow it to freeze, the more the coconut flavors will pop. I personally recommend twenty-four hours in the freezer. 

When you remove the jar, you will see the coconut oil solidified on top of the Campari. Remove the coconut fat and fine strain with a mesh strainer or cheesecloth to make sure none of the coconut fat remains. The result is a coconut forward, slightly bitter Campari. Yummy! 

The rest is even easier:

Coconut Campari Spritz

4 ounces seltzer water 

1 ½ ounce coconut fat-washed Campari

¾ ounce pineapple juice

½ ounce simple syrup

1 orange wheel, sliced about ¼ inch thin

Add all ingredients but the orange wheel to a highball glass, top with ice and roll between glass and half a shaker

Garnish with the orange wheel pressed against the glass, held in place with a straw

The coconut fat wash really mellows the Campari’s natural bitterness, which is only further pushed to the end of the palate by the pineapple juice and seltzer. This is a subtle, tropical and ever so slightly bitter spritz. If you’re a fan of an Aperol Spritz or an Americano, I’d recommend trying this at home.

Happy fat-washing! 

French 75: but make it art 

In honor of this month’s art theme, I thought I’d take things literally. I chose to utilize a product from Collective Arts, which is a distillery and a brewery operating out of Hamilton in Ontario, Canada. While they have been brewing beer for nearly ten years, they only recently started distilling, beginning with a dry gin and a “one off” gin, distilled with rhubarb and hibiscus. 

And Collective Arts does more for art than have the word in its name. They support artists by rotating the designs on their beer cans to showcase different work from different people. This makes their cans as interesting, fun and cool as their contents! 

I chose to use their rhubarb and hibiscus gin, so that means that if you’re interested, get it while you can — this bottle won’t be available forever! You can find bottles right now at Nikki’s Liquors on Branch Ave in PVD. 

This month’s cocktail is a play off of a French 75: a lovely, refreshing gin-based cocktail that is perfect for this warmer weather. 

To make this, you will need about a teaspoon of dried hibiscus petals and twice as much of your choice of sugar (granulated, raw, whatever you like!). 

Combine the hibiscus petals and sugar and muddle until the hibiscus petals break up and become small, nearly as small as the sugar grains if you can. Mix the hibiscus and sugar thoroughly. Pour evenly onto a small plate. 

Collective 75

1 ½ ounce Collective Arts Rhubarb and Hibiscus Gin

¾ ounce lemon juice

¾ ounce simple syrup 

1 lemon wedge, scored

Hibiscus petal sugar

1 ounce cava (dry sparkling wine)

Run lemon wedge around the rim of a champagne flute to make it sticky. Discard lemon wedge. 

Put the flute upside down in the hibiscus sugar and rotate so that the sugar and petals stick to the rim. Place right side up. 

In a shaker with ice, combine the gin, juice, and simple syrup. Shake and strain into the champagne flute. Top slowly with cava.

The hibiscus sugar rim will have tart notes, like cranberry, and will be a sweet, tangy prelude to this dry sparkling cocktail. On the palate, the drink will be light with juniper-forward, summery notes from the Collective Arts gin and dry bubbles from the cava. 

Cheers to art! 

Let the Sea Witch be Your Guide

​​’A cocktail is a potion, adding CBD lifts it to the level of ceremony.’ 

– Jessica Gorman, owner of Sea Witch Medicinals

There’s no shortage of cannabis or hemp products these days, so finding the right brand is a new challenge for many people. Fortunately for us Rhode Islanders, we have an amazing company in Newport that makes a variety of awesome, delicious, and healthy products. 

Founded in 2014, Sea Witch Medicinals provides Greenleaf Compassion, a medicinal cannabis dispensary in Portsmouth, RI, with THC products. But that’s not all they do. Sea Witch also sells hemp products, which only contain CBD. Both their THC and CBD products are handmade by owner Jessica Gorman. She makes everything from tonics to topicals and more! 

Sea Witch’s hemp products are sold at Rhode Island Reef in Newport, which is also where Sea Witch’s hemp is sourced from. Additionally, their hemp tonics can be found at Mend Yoga Studio in Newport. 

After I learned about this awesome company, I chose to use Sea Witch’s Mango Passionfruit CBD Tonic for this month’s cocktail. Before you make this cocktail, you’re going to have to make yourself a hibiscus syrup. This is not difficult, don’t worry! 

Hibiscus Syrup

½ cup filtered water 

½ cup sugar

1 tablespoon dried hibiscus petals

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water over low heat; stir until sugar is dissolved

Add hibiscus and allow to steep for five minutes before straining

Store refrigerated in a sealed container for up to two weeks

The Rhode Island Sea Witch

4 ounces Sea Witch Medicinals Mango Passionfruit CBD Tonic

1 ½ ounces white rum 

¾ ounce hibiscus syrup

¾ ounce lime juice

1 Sea Witch Watermelon CBD Gummy Tail

Add rum, hibiscus syrup, and lime juice to a shaker with ice 

Shake and strain up in a large coupe or martini glass

Top with CBD Tonic

Garnish with skewered gummy

You can look for more exciting stuff from Sea Witch as they prepare to launch in Massachusetts soon! Follow them on Instagram @seawitchmedicinals for all their cool projects and company updates! 

Nip Trips: Tiny cocktails for big outings


It used to be that nips, or small bottles of alcohol amounting to roughly one-and-a-half ounces, were something for people just looking for a cheap, quick buzz – or looting a hotel minibar. More and more, however, the nip world has become more fanciful and interesting. 

I started to notice the rise of craft nips pre-COVID when adorable bottles of Fernet Branca and Campari were just too cute to not purchase. Then, when we went into lockdown, my friends and I purchased more nips than ever. We would meet in a park and toast at a distance with our nip of choice. Now, as we approach that time of year when we can rejoin nature without the fear of hypothermia, the nip culture reemerges for new possibilities! 

Bringing a couple of nips with you on a picnic can be more than a shot. If you can find a nip of sweet vermouth, you can easily make a Manhattan. A classic Manhattan recipe is Manhattan’s area code of 212: two ounces of bourbon, one ounce of sweet vermouth, and two dashes of Angostura Bitters. So when you’re in the great outdoors and without a jigger, you can make yourself a large Manhattan with two bottles of bourbon and one sweet vermouth. And yes, they do make teeny tiny Angostura Bitters as well. Those bottles are about 0.12 ounces and are perfect for one-time use, so bring a cube for stirring (every cocktail has half an ounce of water in it) and pour yourself an easy Manhattan for your picnic!

And if you can find sweet vermouth, it’s worth making yourself a Negroni. Negronis are equal parts gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth. So as long as you have bottles that are the same size, you can pour all of them in your glass with a cube and have one of the most famous classic cocktails of all time. You can go the extra mile by packing yourself an orange to enjoy on your walk. Express the orange peel over your Negroni and thank me later. 

So next time you’re planning an outing with a picnic or time to just chill, consider bringing along some nips to enhance the experience! Especially if the RI legislature, in its focus on really important legislative priorities, outlaws nips, which could make this a limited-time offer! (See article here)

A Sour for Springtime

This month I decided to make something that is refreshing and light, with roots in a classic. One of my favorite cocktails is a classic Whiskey Sour, which calls for bourbon, lime juice, lemon juice, simple syrup, and an egg white. While nowadays many bars don’t include the egg white, I insist that you try one with egg white at least once in your lifetime: you won’t regret it! 

I chose to use Cardamaro as the base of this Whiskey Sour variation. I wanted to make something light that wouldn’t go to your head, and I wanted to choose a spirit that would compliment the citrus notes of the sour to create a ‘springtime’ flavor. Cardamaro is not quite an amaro, it’s a marriage of an amaro and a fortified wine. This makes it a unique tasting spirit that should be properly stored in a refrigerator once opened. It is bitter, sweet, and brings its own brightness of lemon and orange to the table. I like to sip on Cardamaro after a big meal, I also like to utilize it in Manhattan variations. 

I call this a Springtime Sour for us to welcome in the warming temperatures and melting snow.

Springtime Sour

2 ounces Cardamaro

¾ ounce simple syrup

½ ounce lemon juice

½ ounce lime juice

1 egg white 

Add all ingredients to a shaker and dry shake (shake without ice) for about one minute. Add ice and shake for about another two minutes. (Tip: Add one cube to your shaker for the initial shake to act as a timer. Once you can’t hear that cube anymore, you can add more ice.) 

Strain up into a coupe. 

This cocktail is bright, tart, and chewy with a hint of orange from the Cardamaro. It’s a great drink to make yourself for dessert and an easy way to impress a guest! Cheers to springtime, amaro, and dessert!

Puppy Love: A Lovely February Libation

This February, in honor of Black History Month, I decided to create a cocktail that utilized products from a local black-owned distillery. I chose White Dog Distilling in Pawtucket. 

White Dog Distilling has a variety of products including a selection of whiskies of various ages and rotating seasonal options of flavored moonshine. Right now, they have cherry moonshine for sale, so I couldn’t resist the opportunity to mix this tasty spirit with their signature Puppy Bourbon.

I started by making my own chai syrup. Here is the recipe:

Chai Syrup

¼ ounce sugar

¼ ounce hot, filtered water

1 teabag of chai-flavored tea (decaf recommended)

Combine sugar and water and stir until sugar is dissolved

Add teabag and allow to steep about ten minutes before removing

Now we can get on to mixing the cocktail, which I call Puppy Love, for the bourbon used and the time of year. 

Puppy Love

1 ½ ounces White Dog Distilling Puppy Bourbon 

½ ounce White Dog Distilling Howling Cherry Moonshine

½ ounce chai syrup

1 orange swath 

1 match

Add all ingredients but orange swath and match to a mixing glass with ice, stir and strain over one 4-ounce ice cube in a rocks glass

Light match and hold orange swath over it, over the drink, express orange swath over flame; oils from the swath will make the flame get bigger over the drink

Repeat and discard orange swath

This cocktail is a play on an Old Fashioned and is great for these cool, wintery nights. If you like rich, cherry flavors with your whiskey, you’ll enjoy this drink. 

White Dog Distilling is located in Pawtucket and has a gorgeous, safely spaced bar featuring local artwork you can purchase, tasting options, house-made cocktails (using 100% house-made ingredients), and even cocktails to go. Follow them on social media (@whitedogdistilling) for updates on the opening of their new production facility, which will be open to the public by appointment only for tasting tours.

White Dog Distilling, 560 Mineral Spring Ave, Pawtucket, whitedogdistilling.com, @whitedogdistilling

New Year, New Bar!

COVID has done a number on the hospitality industry, but the relentless work ethic of the people behind the industry have kept the dream alive. Now we are seeing exciting things happen with new places blossoming in old spaces. The former Far West space at 55 Cromwell in Providence is one of the shuttered venues that now is having new life breathed into it.

Leah and Chris Rivera have partnered with the owners of the former Far West space to create a new concept all their own. The bar, rebranded and renamed High Dive, is an elevated dive bar with everything from the ‘Champagne of Beers’ to actual Champagne. Both Leah and Chris are trained sommeliers from Michelin star restaurants, with more than twenty-five years of hospitality experience each. “Our dream has always been to retire, throw on a plaid shirt and work in a dive bar,” Leah said, “so we just finally decided, ‘why wait?’” 

Expect a ‘come as you are’ attitude with bartenders that are equally as happy to crack a beer for you as they are to whip up a classic cocktail. Four different draft cocktails are available with fun, rotating bar snacks like potato chips and caviar to crudo and trail mixes from the Virginia and Spanish Peanut Company. The only thing this bar doesn’t have is a menu. The goal is to be casual but have all the arsenal to make well-crafted cocktails and serve gorgeous wines from all over the world, and of course offer a diverse beer selection. 

The music and vibe of High Dive change along with the bar’s small staff of rotating bartenders. Spring and summer plans include jazzing up the outdoor space for additional seating and more.

Follow High Dive on Instagram @highdivepvd to stay up to date on options, hours, and who’s on the bar.

A Drink for Dry January

Somehow, it is now 2022. Regardless of how fast these last two years have gone, it’s time to set those New Year’s resolutions and for some of us, that means sobering up. Dry January has gone from a personal project to a national movement. As awareness about alcoholism rises along with the importance of detoxing and being more health conscious, this month is a great time to refocus, rebalance and take a break from one of my favorite vices: alcohol. 

I’ve been doing a lot of exploring in the nonalcoholic world, and it’s an exciting place! We have more options than ever when we want to feel indulgent without actually being indulgent. 

I wrote a few months back about Seedlip, a distillery in LA that makes nonalcoholic spirits. I find their citrus option very versatile, bright, funky and tart. It brings a lot of flavor to any mocktail, which I love in a spirit. So this is where I started.

Next, I got some Fre Sparkling Brut, which is an alcohol-removed wine from California. What’s the difference between alcohol-removed wine and grape juice you ask? Well, Fre makes their alcohol-removed wine by starting with wine, then removing the alcohol using a spinning cone column. This means that Fre products are made from fermented grapes, which gives them a flavor profile true to wine. 

I call for a dehydrated lemon wheel to garnish this mocktail. If you don’t have a dehydrator, it’s a simple process to dehydrate citrus in the oven, it just requires a day of being at home to monitor the oven. (You can do this with any citrus.) 

Preheat your oven to the lowest possible setting and thinly slice your citrus into wheels about ¼ (or less if you can) inch thick. Place wheels on a non-stick baking sheet or on parchment paper on a baking sheet. Put your wheels in the oven and flip every one to two hours (settings at 170 degrees can be left to sit for two hours before flipping; higher temperatures should be monitored more frequently.) Every time you flip, inspect your citrus and remove wheels which have dehydrated faster than others. This usually takes me up to six hours at 170 degrees. 

Sparkling Mocktail

  • 1 ounce Seedlip Citrus
  • ½ ounce simple syrup 
  • ¼ ounce lemon juice
  • Add all ingredients to a shaker with ice, shake and strain into a coupe
  • Top with 2 ½ ounces of Fre Sparkling Brut 
  • Garnish with floating dehydrated lemon wheel 

This is a light, subtle cocktail. The combination of the Seedlip and Fre products makes a nice, piney flavor, so adding the simple syrup mellows tartness while the lemon enhances the citrus flavors. In the end it goes down easy – and there’s nothing wrong with that because it’s completely alcohol free! 

Best of luck in your sobriety, whether it’s just for a day, a month or a lifetime!

For the Festive Drinker

It’s that time of year to get cooking, get traveling, and get shopping! And while lots of people can be easy to shop for, some prove more difficult. That person can often be the alcohol enthusiast, as the world of cocktails, wine, and beer get so big so fast! So what do you get for the home bartender, or just plain lover of alcohol? I reached out to a few local shops to see if they’re doing any gift packages for the holidays, this is what I found out!

Campus Fine Wines

127 Brook Street

Campus Fine Wines is doing holiday wine packs to bring to a party, give to a friend, or easily stock your own bar for guests! They have two options for packs consisting of six bottles of wine which include red, white, and bubbles! All these wines are small production and low intervention. You’re bound to impress your friends and family with these hard-to-find wines!

Holiday Vax’d Pack $100

Holiday Boostah Pack $150


756 Hope Street

This adorable shop for all things cooking and bartending will have their shelves stocked with various cocktail books, glassware, and of course bar tools for you to choose from. And while they always have the materials, the staff is well adept at putting together personalized gift baskets for you. From the perfect shaped ice to a variety of shakers, mixing glasses, and jiggers, Stock has you covered!

And of course, books are always fun! Here are some cocktail books I recommend, which Stock is selling right now:

The Art of the Japanese Cocktail by Masahiro Urushido and Michael Anstendig from PR powerhouse Hanna Lee Communications. This is on my personal wish list! I can’t wait to get my hands on it! I’d recommend it for the more advanced home bartender, someone who will hunt down rare ingredients and make time to make their own syrups. 

For beginners, Stock has The Curious Bartender Cocktails at Home by Tristan Stephenson. 

So whether you’re looking for gifts or just looking to stock your own shelves, local shops have you covered! Happy shopping!