A little ditty in the city.

by Columbine Quillen on September 4, 2012

So I find myself back in my old life, far removed from the rigors of law school. (Although it has this perverse way of making you always feel guilty for thinking of anything else.) I am just finishing the last minute touches on two beautiful cocktails that will be presented tomorrow at a trade only gala here in San Francisco tomorrow evening.

Anyhow, I wanted to post the recipes here so people had access to them after the show tomorrow or to anyone else who for some reason wanted to spend hours in their kitchen making bitters and vermouth so to enjoy one cocktail. The base spirits are Pendleton 1910 Rye Whisky and Broker’s Gin. The Pendleton 1910 is a 12-year old 100% Canadian rye whisky finished in white oak barrels. The whisky has a nice vanilla (reminiscent of the regular Pendleton) backdrop with pepper, tobacco, an dark cherry dancing in the forefront. Hood River Distillers just released this rye this year. If you haven’t ever tried the Broker’s, you should as it might just be my favorite London Dry Gin. A wealth of botanicals leaps out in every swig, which isn’t surprising as the Dawson brothers let beautiful herbs and botanicals steep in the juice rather than using a gin basket, whereby the gin fumes escape through the botanicals.


Here’s tomorrow’s lineup – enjoy!

Pomegranate Penhatten


3 parts Pendleton 1910 Rye Whisky

1 part pomegranate vermouth

3 shakes easy Wild Sweet Orange Bitters



Place ingredients in a shaker with ice


Strain into a coup glass

Garnish with a homemade marashino cherry


Wild Sweet Orange Bitters

1 cup Pendleton 1910 Rye Whisky

2 Tazo Wild Sweet Orange tea bags (contain lemongrass, blackberry leaves, rose hips, spearmint leaves, orange peel, hibiscus flower, rose petals, ginger root, and licorice root)

The peel from ½ of a lemon


Place ingredients in an airtight container and let steep overnight. Strain and bottle in a dropper bottle. Very very long shelf life at room temperature.


Pomegranate Vermouth

1 cup white wine

1 Tazo Sweet Orange tea bag

½ cup pomegranate juice

¼ cup sugar


Bring ingredients to a rolling boil. Immediately take off heat and cool. Date and refridgerate up to 10 days.


Marashino Cherries

1 cup dried cherries

1 Tazo Sweet Orange tea bag

2 cups cherry juice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Bring cherry juice to a boil with Tazo tea bag. Pull off of heat and allow to steep for five minutes. Add vanilla extract and stir. Add cherries. Place in airtight container and allow to sit overnight at room temperature. Date and refridgerate up to 15 days.


Brokers Sling


4 parts Brokers Gin

1 part Luxardo Maraschino Liquor

1 part fresh squeezed lemon juice

1 part pineapple juice

1 dash Angostura bitters

1 part Hard Yazi Gingerale



Place all ingredients in a collins glass except for Hard Yazi Gingerale


Add Ice

Top with Hard Yazi Gingerale

Garnish with tropical fruit


Hard Yazi Gingerale

One cup fresh squeezed lemon

½ cup simple syrup

½ cup Yazi Ginger Vodka

4 shakes Angostura Bitters

1 cup soda water



Mix lemon juice, simple syrup, ginger vodka, and bitters together until well blended. Add soda water and stir. Place in an airtight container to preserve bubbles or in a soda syphon if you plan to use over time.





How much should a drink cost?

by Columbine Quillen on May 12, 2012

Image thanks to zazzle.com. If you still use a mousepad you can buy this one there.


One of the most brilliant things that ever happened to me as a bar manager was to manage a bar owned by a man who was almost always on the verge of bankruptcy. It made me learn how to stretch the dime, make and create a lot on my own because we couldn’t afford to buy it, and made me figure out how to fix nearly every piece of equipment behind the bar because if I didn’t fix it, it wasn’t going to get fixed. It also made me extremely good at doing costing, inventory, and forecasting – because I didn’t ever have the luxury of overspending. Friends often ask for advice on these matters and it occurred to me that it might be information that others would like.

This post: Costing

What is Costing?
A way of figuring out bar costs by breaking down the cost of each ingredient in a recipe so that you know exactly how much money it costs to make each drink. It is best to figure this out before you price your menu – as then one can ensure they are charging enough to ensure a profit. (You would think that all bars made profit off of their drinks, but I’ve been in many that sell boozy cocktails for less than they paid for the raw materials or absinthe pours that are so grandiose that it would be cheaper for the neighbor bar to buy absinthe from them rather than the liquor store).  A bar should be extremely profitable – and it will be if you know exactly what your raw materials cost and how much you are charging for them.  Which sounds quite simple – and is if you are willing to put in the leg work.

I’ve actually worked in very few bars that cost out everything behind the bar. I believe it’s one of the main reasons restaurants fail. I have time and time again gone into a place and turned their bar around by lowering liquor costs by pricing according to the actual cost of what is in the drink and taking drinks off the list that are not profitable.

One of the most important thing that a bar manager must recognize is that he/she is almost always going to lose money on Grey Goose (or any premium call) martinis and top shelf manhattans. If a Grey Goose martini has 6 ounces of Grey Goose in it and Grey Goose is $1.20 an ounce. The cost of the spirit in the martini is $7.20! Unless you are in a hot spot in a city, a bar manager is going to have a hard time charging much more than $9 for this drink which only leaves $1.80 in profit. Once you add in the labor of shaking the drink, the garnish, washing the glassware and breakage – it is a loss liter. Therefore, the smart bar manager creates a cocktail list that is highly profitable to compensate for the straight booze drinkers.

What should I cost out?
As much as you have time for. The constant battle with the restauranteur and the restaurant manager is that the job really takes a human being that doesn’t need to sleep. But even Randy Gardner who holds the world’s record for most days without sleep (eleven) eventually has to get some rest medicine. It is understandable why one might not have the time to cost out every tiny ingredient behind the bar (i.e. the salt on the rim of a margarita) but the main ingredients should be accounted for.

Do what you have time for in this order.
1. Cost out the spirit.
–If the spirit is an infusion – you must account for the cost of what was used to infuse.
2. Cost out fresh fruit mixer.
3. Cost out any other expensive mixer (i.e. fruit puree, heavy whipping cream, coffee, tea)
4. Cost out syrups

How do I figure out how much a mixed cocktail costs?
First, you need to have a recipe for each drink that states how many ounces of each ingredient are in the drink. For example we will take a lemon drop that is made with 2 ounces of vodka, 2 ounces of simple syrup, and 2 ounces of lemon juice.

How to figure out how much an ounce of vodka costs:
It is easy to figure out how much an ounce of vodka costs in Oregon because the OLCC does all the costing for you and publishes each month when any price changes (or sales) go into affect. However, if you do not live in Oregon – it is easy math with a calculator.
First you must know how many ounces are in a full bottle.

  • In a 750 ml (a fifth) there are approximately 25 ounces.
  • In a liter bottle there are approximately 34 ounces.
  • In a 1.75 bottle there are approximately 59 ounces.

Take the price of the bottle. Let’s say a .750 bottle of Absolut costs $22. Take $22 and divide it by 25. Absolut vodka is 88 cents per ounce.

How to figure out how much simple syrup costs:
If you make simple syrup with granulated white sugar, there are 2 1/4 cups per pound of sugar. Let’s say that five pounds of sugar costs $5. Therefore, one pound (2.25 cups) costs one dollar. Each cup of sugar yields 1.3 cups (approximately 10.5 ounces) of simple syrup. That means that 10.5 ounces of simple syrup costs $1. Or simply that simple syrup costs about 10 cents per ounce. ($1 divided by 10.5 ounces)

How to figure out how much lemon juice costs:
If you are using lemon juice that is already squeezed and bottled – use the same equation as the liquor costing by dividing the cost of the bottle by the number of ounces in the bottle. For example if 30 ounces of lemon juice costs $5 then each ounce costs 17 cents. ($5 divided by 30 ounces)

If you are using fresh squeezed juice, there are obviously more variables since you don’t know exactly how much juice you are going to get from a piece of fruit and there is labor involved in the juicing. I have done costing where labor is included – but that can get complicated and if you have never costed out a bar before I would leave labor out until you feel really comfortable with costing in general. Then it might not be such a difficult calculation.

How to figure out how much fresh-squeezed lemon juice costs:
In general there are about two ounces of juice in a lemon. You need to figure out how much that lemon costs. Ask your produce man how many lemons there are in the cases you are buying. A lemon weighs on average six ounces. So if you have a 40 pound box there are around 106 lemons in the box. (Calculated by multiplying 40 (pounds in the case) x 16 (ounces in one pound) and then divided by 6 (ounces in one lemon). 106 lemons will produce approximately 212 ounces of lemon juice. Lemon prices heavily fluctuate during the year depending on the season. If a case of lemons costs $40 then each ounce of lemon juice costs 18 cents. (40 (dollars) divided by 212 (ounces of lemon juice))

So to figure out the cost of the lemon drop:
Vodka = $.88/ounce
Simple syrup = $.10/ounce
Lemon juice = $.18/ounce

2 ounces of vodka + 2 ounces of simple syrup + 2 ounces of lemon juice =
$1.76 + $.20 + $.36 = $2.32

How do you use this number to get figure out a percentage of cost to price?
Determine the price you would like to charge for this drink based on the price. Then divide the cost by the price of the drink.

For example:
If you charge $5 for the drink – then you are running 43% cost.
::::: 2.14 (cost of lemon drop) divided by 5 (price of drink)

$5 for the drink – 43%
$6 for the drink – 36%
$7 for the drink – 30%
$8 for the drink – 27%
$9 for the drink – 24%


How much juice is in?
One lime: 1 ounce
One lemon: 2 ounces
One orange: 2 ounces
One grapefruit: 8 ounces

How much simple syrup does one cup of sugar make?
1 1/3 cups

How many ounces of booze are in a bottle?
In a 750 ml (a fifth) there are approximately 25 ounces.
In a liter bottle there are approximately 34 ounces.
In a 1.75 bottle there are approximately 59 ounces.


Tinker Grey, please meet the Miss Kontent.

April 29, 2012

by Anthony Russo from the New York Times review of Rules of Civility. I am honored once again to be a part of the Deschutes Public Library’s Novel Idea Program. Just what is A Novel Idea (other than just another novel idea!)? It is one of the smartest library programs I’ve ever heard of. Every […]

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Best New Spirits of 2011

January 8, 2012

  Tony Sachs, who is a self-declared Drinker of Spirits, Listener of Music, Watcher of Baseball, Writer of Words put together this list of what he considers the Best New Spirits of 2011. Click here for the full article (which includes tasting notes and pricing). 10. Bols Barrel-Aged Genever 9. Drambuie 15 Liqueur 8. Brugal […]

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2011 Delights 2011 Highlights 2011 Peace Out

December 30, 2011

It’s that time of the year to re-cap the best of 2011. What’s hot?  What’s not?  I honestly don’t have a clue, but here’s what I do know about what happened this year. The craft spirit industry is on fire with over 200 small distilleries producing vodka, gin, whiskey, and liqueurs all over the country. […]

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Waiter, waiter there’s a hair on my chair.

October 23, 2011

Once many years ago in a futile attempt to leave the service industry, I found myself temping at a real estate development company in downtown Denver. It was the first time I became hyper aware of the office man’s caste system. There were many tools that the office men used to distinguish themselves from one […]

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Last Call!

August 17, 2011

Minnesota Street – downtown Bend, Oregon photo by Brad Goettemoeller To my blog readers: I would first like to apologize for the lack of posts – I could offer up one of many excuses, but at the end of the day, it all comes down to time and I spent the summer visiting friends and […]

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Tip Top Mr. Thomas – It tastes like watered down champagne!!!!!

June 20, 2011

The Jerry Thomas Project is the re-creation of all of Jerry Thomas’ cocktails from Jerry Thomas’ Bar-Tenders Guide: Receipts for Mixing in their purest form. Jerry Thomas is considered America’s father of mixology publishing the first cocktail book in 1862. Almost all of these drinks I made this week have Batavia Arrack in them. If […]

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Happy Father’s Day!

June 18, 2011

I would like to briefly apologize for falling off the face of the earth, but I found that taking a true break from all of my responsibilities was the best thing that I’ve done for my health in a very long time. I’ve been spending a lot of time with dear friends and family and […]

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Da da dum! Pop goes the pop up!

May 13, 2011

Erica Reilly and I are doing another awesome pop up this Saturday to raise money for Planned Parenthood and the cocktail list is done.  Syrups are a brewing, tonics are curing, and flavors are infusing. :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: Not sure what a pop up is? You see it a lot more with chefs who will create a […]

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