SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – Two guys and a reverend meet in a bar – sounds like the start of gag but instead it’s how things went down when I met with the two guys behind a book just out “Colonial Spirits: A Toast To Our Drunken History.”

Described by Food & Wine Magazine as the “Punk-Rock Prince of Small-Batch Spirits”, Steven Grasse is an entrepreneur equally influenced by punk rock and New England transcendentalism. Steven has created some of the most outrageous booze brands of the 21st century: Hendrick’s Gin, Sailor Jerry Rum, Art in the Age Craft Spirits — all seemingly out of thin air. He is the part owner and creative mastermind behind Narragansett (the beer that dethroned PBR as the crushable can of choice), and his agency, Quaker City Mercantile, has brought similar success to beer icons Pilsner Urquell, Guinness, and, most recently, Miller High Life. His first distillery, Tamworth Distilling & Mercantile, opened in 2015 and gained international press and awards within its first year. Steve and QCM have also lent their booze expertise to several collaborations, including Lo-Fi Aperitifs (with E&J Gallo Wines) and QC Malt (with Diageo Beer Company USA). Grasse also found the time to pen Colonial Spirits: A Toast To Our Drunken History a hybrid history/recipe book that explores what our founding fathers drank… and why they drank it.

Reverend Michael Alan – The book’s illustrator Reverend Michael Alan is also the man behind updating these centuries-old recipes for the modern day bar and kitchen.

I met these two cocktail authorities for conversation and beverages at Benjamin Cooper bar in San Francisco. The reverend prepared two cocktails from the book, a New Amsterdam and a Rattle Skull cocktail. The recipes are featured below:

Enjoy our spirit fueled conversation about America’s drunken history with two guys who are serious about the business of cocktails and the history behind them.

Cheers, Liam!

“Colonial spirits – a toast to drunken history”

colonialspiritsnewamsterdam01New Amsterdam Cocktail
Serves 1

  • 2 ounces Cherry Bounce (see recipe)
  • 1/2 ounce Lo-Fi Sweet Vermouth
  • 1/2 ounce Lo-Fi Dry Vermouth
  • Dash of orange bitters
  • 1 strip orange peel for garnish
  • In a cocktail shaker full of ice, combine all ingredients except for orange peel. Shake until chilled and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
  • Wipe the rim of the glass with the orange peel, and garnish.

Cherry Bounce Ingredients:
Makes 1 quart

  • 1 750 ml bottle whiskey or bourbon/li>
  • 1 cup sugar/li>
  • 1 pound sour cherries, stemmed and pitted/li>
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise/li>


  • In a 1-quart jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine 11/2 cups of the whiskey and the sugar. Seal the jar and shake to dissolve the sugar.
  • Add the cherries, vanilla bean and seeds, and the remaining whiskey to the jar and seal again. Shake to combine and store in a cool, dark place for 4 to 6 weeks, or up to six months.
  • Strain through a fine-mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth or coffee filters into a clean container. Press on solids to extract as much liquid as possible, then discard them.
  • Store in a tightly sealed jar or bottle and use within two months.



(credit: Foodie Chap/Liam Mayclem)

Rattle Skull Cocktail

“It is what it sounds like, my friend: a powerful admixture for only the most hearty drinker. We’re talking about 3 to 4 ounces (90 to 120 ml) of hard liquor dropped into a pint of strong beer.”

Serves 1

  • 1 1⁄4 cups (300 ml) chilled brown ale
  • 1 ounce golden rum
  • 1 ounce brandy
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • ½ ounce Brown Sugar Syrup (see recipe below)
  • ½ ounce Nutmeg Syrup (see recipe below)
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper

  • Pinch of salt

  • Freshly grated nutmeg, for garnish

In a pint glass, combine all the ingredients but nutmeg and stir. Garnish with a couple gratings of nutmeg.

Flavored Syrups Recipes
Makes about 2 cups (480 ml) syrup per recipe

Brown Sugar Syrup

  • 1 cup (220 g) packed brown sugar
  • 2 cups (480 ml) water
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon salt

Nutmeg Syrup

  • 1 1⁄2 tablespoons freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup (200 g) sugar
  • 2 cups (480 ml) water
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon salt

To learn more about Steven Grasse & Reverend Michael Alan’s book
“Colonial Spirits: A Toast To Our Drunken History,” visit www.colonialspiritsbook.com
And check out: