The Bar Napkin, featuring the Honeysuckle Rose

June 5, 2010 (Day 126) — Honeysuckle Rose

Iron Chef.

One of the modest patently ridiculous ideas that ever came out of Japan. And I AM talking about the surreal amazingness that is the original Japanese version, not the neutered white bread version they show on Food Network now called Iron Chef America.

Anyway, proving that there are no good original ideas, some of my mixologist friends and I got talking about something similar with those of us on Twitter. What about a monthly contest to create a cocktail with one specific ingredient? Then, at the end of the month, we’ll have a peer-to-peer voting system. You couldn’t vote for yourself. Winner gets to choose the next base ingredient.

I can’t even really take much credit for it honestly. I just evesdropped on two of my mixologist buddies and interjected my 2 cents. They came up with the concept. I swooped in to kind of be a douchebag and jump on the bandwagon.

My two compatriots who are spearheading this little experiment? Mr. Mixology himself, Josh Davis, and tonight’s featured cocktaileer, Washington, DC’s own Christopher Martino — or as he’s known on the Twitter: The Mixicologist.

I’ll have some more details about the Beertail Contest later this weekend, because it is a damn cool project and we’d love to have more people invovled. But, for now, Christopher was nice enough to give up some of his time to sit down and talk to Cocktails, 365 about himself. And to feature one of his signature drinks.

So, you hi and I’ll ho? To the interview!

Cocktails, 365: How did you get involved with bartending?

Christopher: I guess bartending/mixology was a natural progression for me. As cliche as it may sound, it all started when I was 7. Before I wanted to be a doctor, a lawyer, an architect, a psychologist or anything else kids wanted to be — I wanted to be a bar owner. That eventually grew to a restaurant, when I later developed a passion for food and cooking at about 13 in the ninth grade. After realizing what I wanted to do as a career, “learn EVERYHING” has been my mantra. So from there I took off, aspiring to do everything working in various back-of-the-house and front-of-the-house jobs for about the past five years. mixology/oenology, I feel, was a natural progression.

Cocktails, 365: According to your blog, you’re also a trained chef. Do you have any specialties/particular styles of cooking you’re fond of?

Christopher: In the kitchen I prepare pretty much all kinds of cuisines. I like many for varied reasons, but I feel my favorites are French and Caribbean. Often I fuse the two utilizing French technique with traditional Caribbean flavor and ingredients. It’s my goal to create a concept around this kind of fusion. While it’s been done before, I feel it hasn’t been done to the measure I’d have it done to; it excites me to think about the possibilities.

Cocktails, 365: For someone visiting DC, any particular local joints they should check out?

Christopher: A local joint in DC to check out… there’s plenty! I would definitely check out Gina Chersevani, she’s an awesome friend and mixologist; but other than that, she always has something new! Always! I’d also keep an eye out for Erin Edwards at Toyland. She’s really looking to do some awesome things at her bar. It’s in a hip, up-and-coming area. And where else can you get fried pickles? EDITOR’S NOTE: Fried pickles are vastly under-appreciated  bar food. Good call! More fried pickles!

Cocktails, 365: Tell us about the signature cocktail you chose. How did you come up with it? What has been the general reaction?

Christopher: My signature cocktail that I serve at home is the Honeysuckle Rose. Yes, I’m somewhat of a huge fan, to those that made the connection. This cocktail is pretty much a daiquiri-esque-ish concoction that I came up with. No matter what I do, I always return to rum and sours. Constante Ribalaigua is pretty much my hero.

Honeysuckle Rose:

• Barbancourt Cinque Etoile (rum) 1.5 ounce

• Lime Juice .5 ounce

• Gran Marnier .25 ounce

• Honey Syrup (2:1) .25 ounce

• Rosewater 1 dash

• Flamed orange zest for garnish

To begin, in a chilled cocktail glass flame the orange over the empty glass and rub the peel around the interior and mouth. In a shaker filled with ice, add the rum and other remaining ingredients. Shake until well chilled and pour into seasoned glass, strain out any flecks of ice if desired/necessary.


Photo Courtesy Christopher Martino

I made this late tonight. Jenn and I spent a good chunk of time with family tonight, so I didn’t back until late and then set right to it.

So… what everyone wants to know. How was it?

Truth be told? It’s drinks like this that make me jealous of those that can make truly beautiful cocktails. The flavors are very subtle and combine into a drink that’s understated, but not boring. Even better, there’s no odd aftertaste that you can sometimes find in cocktails using rum and citrus as mixers.

Here’s my version:

Forgive the batteries in the lower right corner. I need to recharge my flash.

You expect to find that usual aftertaste to be there, but the end of the drink is crisp, breaking off without leaving that farshikkert fuzzy feeling. The porpotions of the ingredients are damn-near perfect. Nothing really overpowers anything else. The rum brings its nice, molasses backing that goes along with the citrus well — of course.

But where it gets interesting is the use of honey syrup and the rose water.

That warm, dark taste of the honey lurks in the aftermath giving a pleasant, autumnal taste. And the rose water — only a dash mind you — fills it with just one teensy bit of floral that floats around in the background.

Honestly, I wish I had come up with this drink. It is truly excellent. The overall feeling, to me at least, is one of fall and smoked foods. I have to imagine this would go amazingly well with a turkey that’s been slowly smoked on a crisp autumn day.

Cheers to you Christopher. Color me sincerely impressed.

Want more information about Christopher? He can be found via Twitter. As he told me: “I’m one of those helpless, hopeless people with an iPhone, so I have Twitter by my side night and day.”

You can also find his blog, which is still in the beginning stages but promises to have lots of great information in the future. That can be found at

Tell him Mark sent you. And stay tuned for more info about the our Iron Alchemist competition! (That’s not the official term for it. I just really like it.)


— Mark


  1. […] People like Chris Martino. […]

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