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Ask the bartender: Wake up and smell the cocktails!

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Sean Kenyon knows how to pour out both drinks and advice. A third-generation bar man with almost 25 years behind the bar, he is a student of cocktail history, a United States Bartenders Guild-certified Spirits Professional and a BAR Ready graduate of the prestigious Beverage Alcohol Resource Program. You can find him behind the bar at Squeaky Bean -- and here every week, where he'll answer your questions.

Say these two words together: "breakfast," "cocktail." Now say that again: "breakfast cocktail." Two words that should not go together, but are actually a perfect match.

Together, the words are poetic and calming, right? They conjure up thoughts of carefree weekends, a much-needed vacation, the life of a bon vivant (and possibly a hardcore alcoholic)...

Throughout biblious history, the cocktail has also been known colloquially as an "eye opener," "fog-cutter," "phlegm-cutter" and a "morning glory." These names refer to the cocktail's ability to cut through the morning fog (maybe the effects of a hangover), and allow the imbiber to see the coming day through rose-colored (cocktail) glasses. My days off seem much more relaxed when I ignore society's prejudice against daytime drinking. Sure, this has led to a few benders that render my weekend a blur of bar crawls and bad decisions (Ben & Bowman, Sunday Fun-Day, Blackout Tuesdays, you know)....But a morning drink does not have to lead to all of that -- although every bad experience is a funny story later.

So, what to drink in the a.m.? The obvious -- the Bloody Mary (the Bacon Bloody Mary at Steuben's is delicious), the Irish coffee (a proper one is brilliant), the Bellini (never had a correct one that I didn't make) and the Mimosa (everyone fucks them up with too much OJ) -- will not be discussed here. Instead, I'll introduce you to a few of our country's classic breakfast cocktails in different categories.


The Widow's Kiss was created in the late 1800s by George Kappeler, who was the head bartender at the famed Holland House bar on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. At first glance, the ingredients should not work together; Applejack, Chartreuse, Benedictine and bitters are all overwhelmingly flavorful. But Kappeler defied convention by shaking this cocktail rather than stirring it, as was the custom. The added dilution rounds out the edges and allows these potent ingredients to coexist harmoniously while also pleasing the palate. I find that the Widow's Kiss acts as a stimulant of sorts. (Also try the Corpse Reviver #2.)

The Widow's Kiss

1.5 oz. Laird's Applejack .75 oz. Yellow Chartreuse .75 oz. Benedictine 3 dashes of Angostura Bitters

Shake all ingredients with ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass. No garnish.

Get your Vitamin C here:

Satan's Whiskers (from Harry Craddock's 1930 Savoy cocktail book) and the Fog Cutter (the history is um, foggy -- I used Don the Beachcomber's early recipe) are excellent ways to get your vitamins and also enjoy a fine cocktail at the same time.

Satan's Whiskers

.75 oz. Carpano Antica Vermouth .75 oz. Dolin Dry Vermouth .75 oz. Plymouth Gin .5 oz. orange juice .5 oz. Grand Marnier 1 dash orange bitters

Shake and strain into cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

The Fog Cutter

2 oz. Gold Rum 1 oz. Pisco .5 oz. Plymouth Gin .5 oz. Cream Sherry 1 oz. fresh orange juice 2 oz. fresh lemon juice .5 oz. Orgeat

Shake all ingredients except sherry with ice. Strain into a tall Collins glass over fresh ice. Float sherry. Garnish with an orange cherry flag.

Got milk?:

Everyone needs their milk in the morning -- well, at least those of us who are lactose-tolerant. Milk strengthens our bones and teeth, right? I am usually not one for cream-based cocktails, but I make an exception for one of New Orleans' most famous cocktails, the Ramos Gin Fizz. It was invented in the 1880s by Henry C. Ramos, in his bar at Meyer's Restaurant. Creamy and frothy, the drink must be well shaken; legend has it that Ramos used to have a line of "shaker boys" who would shake each drink until their arms were tired. (In)famous Louisiana governor Huey Long actually brought a NoLa bartender with him to New York City, so that he could train Manhattan bartenders how to make a proper Ramos Gin Fizz. The main ingredient, Old Tom Gin (a sweetened type of gin), can be hard to find, but has had a resurgence lately; two brands, Hayman's and Ransom, can be found here in the Mile High. The most distinctive ingredient is the Orange Flower Water (here in Denver, Savory Spice makes an amazing one). It takes a delicate touch, or your cocktail can taste like St Joseph baby aspirin. But done correctly, the Ramos Fizz is the ultimate eye-opener.

Ramos Gin Fizz

2 oz. Old Tom Gin (Hayman's or Ransom) .25 oz. fresh lemon juice .25 oz. fresh lime juice .5 oz. simple syrup (1:1 ratio) .5 oz. cream .5 oz. whole milk 10 drops Orange Flower water .75 oz. egg white 2 oz. soda water

Shake all ingredients without ice to emulsify. Add ice and shake for 2 minutes. Strain into a chilled Collins glass (no ice) and top with soda.

Cheers! Have a question for Sean Kenyon? Send it to bartender@westword.com

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