Her Happy Hour


A gin cocktail with Chartreuse.

The Last Word, a Prohibition-era gin cocktail, was created at the Detroit Athletic Club during the 1920s. Frank Fogarty, “the Dublin Minstrel,” a famous vaudeville comedian, discovered the drink there and brought the recipe with him to New York. It was first written down in Ted Saucier’s famous cocktail recipe book, Bottoms Up, in 1951.

The use of Chartreuse, an herbal French liqueur, is important to this drink. If you haven’t had Chartreuse, you are in for a treat. Chartreuse is a very old liqueur that dates back to 1605. The story goes that King Henry IV’s artillery marshal presented a recipe for an ancient elixir that claimed to give the imbiber long life to the Carthusian monks. The recipe was super complex, blending 130 different herbs and botanicals in an alcohol base, and it took the monks until 1737 to decipher and perfect the recipe at their headquarters at the Grande Chartreuse monastery in southeastern France.

Originally intended for medicinal purposes, today the liqueur is drunk straight and very cold or in cocktails, like this one. The Chartreuse monks still use the same ancient recipe to create the spirit in their distillery in France and, to protect the recipe, it’s said that only two or three monks know how to prepare the different parts of the herbal mixture at any given time. 


1 ½ oz. gin
½ oz. lime
½ oz. maraschino liqueur
¾ oz. Chartuese 

Shake ingredients together with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

A simple, sweet signature wedding reception drink.

Signature cocktails are almost a must for wedding receptions these days. They’re a fun way to individualize cocktail hour and reflect your personal tastes as a couple. Recipes can incorporate your favorite spirits, match your color theme, enhance your wedding season or style or incorporate name play e.g. Mary’s Margarita, Groom’s Gimlet and so on.

This Cotton Candy Champagne Cocktail is such a creative, cute drink to serve at a reception, and it can be easily adapted to match your color scheme. It’s also inexpensive and basically labor free; you won’t need to hire a mixologist to stand behind the bar and shake multiple ingredients together. If you just put a little puff of the sugary stuff into a champagne flute and pour liquid over it, it magically dissolves into a beautiful cocktail — the color of your wedding!

And while cotton candy is weird and wonderful — it reminds me of fairs, the circus, Kings Island and Bengals/Reds games (because the giant pink cones always block my view) — it’s very easy to make. Cotton candy is simply spun, heated sugar, which can be turned any color or flavor you want. Just add a little food coloring to the sugar before spinning or use store-bought flavored, dyed sugar and voila! You can buy colored and flavored cocoons at the store or rent a cotton candy maker (usually around $50) and make it yourself.


1fluff of cotton candy 

Champagne to top   


Put a fluff of cotton candy in each champagne flute and then pour champagne over to top it off. It’s best to pour in front of guests so they can watch it dissolve and change color.

A kicky Prohibition gin cocktail.

The expression “the bee’s knees” came about in the 1920s and means the height of excellence or the cream of the crop. It was 1920s slang. No one is completely certain where the saying comes from, but one theory is that it’s derived from the use of the letters “B” and “E” in the idiom “the be-all and end-all,” which also denotes the very best of something.   

Another thought is that perhaps it refers to a popular dancer of the day, Bee Jackson. Bee was a world champion Charleston dancer who danced all over the world. She didn’t invent the dance, but no one danced it better than Bee. She was quite a character. She once punched the king of Albania in the nose. There was no explanation as to why that happened (though the king was reputed to be a notorious womanizer), but I’m sure Bee had a very good reason. She died at the age of 25 of a ruptured appendix. 

Back to the cocktail. The Bee’s Knees is a Prohibition drink. It was created to help mask the taste of the bathtub gin. The recipe was first seen in print in 1930. And after drinking one of these, you’ll be kicking up your heels just like Bee.  

Here’s a tip for making this drink: Make your own honey syrup by heating one part water together with one part honey.


  • 1 ½ oz. gin 
  • ½ oz. honey syrup 
  • ½ oz. lemon syrup


Add all ingredients into a shaker. Shake and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

A warming after-dinner (or pre-dinner) drink.

Brandy, one of the world’s first distilled spirits, has been around since Roman times. With a name taken from the Dutch word “brandewijn,” meaning “burnt wine,” brandy was originally developed as a way to preserve and store wine for long ship journeys. To lighten the liquid and lessen the shipping tax, which was calculated by volume, the wine was distilled, concentrated and then put into wooden casks for transport.

Once the distilled wine reached its destination, water would be added back in to reconstitute the drink. But people found the spirit, which had been unintentionally aged in the wooden shipping casks during the journey, was better than the original.

For some reason, brandy is often overlooked in favor of vodka or whiskey when making cocktails — unless you live in Wisconsin, where a brandy Old Fashioned is the unofficial state drink. But brandy makes a great cocktail base, and will warm you right up on a cold winter night.

The Brandy Fix was a popular drink in the 1860s. A “fix” is a type of drink made on the rocks with a spirit, lemon juice and fruit juice or liqueur. Jerry Thomas was the first to write down this recipe in his Bon-Vivant’s Companion, published in 1862. This is one of my favorite drinks to have during the holidays and is very easy to make.


  • 2 oz. brandy
  • ½ oz. lemon juice
  • ½ oz. cherry brandy or Cherry Heering
  • 2 bar spoons (about 2 tsp.) triple sec


  1. Build ingredients in an Old Fashioned glass over ice. 
  2. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Photo by Jesse Fox

Looking for food, jazz, drinks and fantastic views to spice up your evening?

Covington’s Chez Nora has it all, and musicians aren’t afraid to charm the guests with smooth jazz riffs every Tuesday through Sunday. 

Since 1994, co-owners Jimmy and Pati Gilliece have worked to transform the restaurant into a must-visit hangout within MainStrasse village. With extensive brunch, lunch, dinner and salad menus to complement the alluring tunes on the rooftop bar, many would argue the Gilliece duo has been more than successful, reeling in an array of first-time visitors and eager regulars.

Eager to check out the rooftop? Keep an eye out for Ricky Nye, the Gary Gorrell Quartet and The Dukes in November.

Reward yourself with half-priced red or white wine every Tuesday, or go classy with a cocktail. The Terrace Tea is a Chez Nora special.

Terrace Tea


  • 1 1/2 oz. bourbon
  • 1/2 oz. peach schnapps
  • 2 spoonfuls ginger-infused simple syrup
  • Brewed ice tea
  • Ice


Add bourbon and peach schnapps into a drinking glass with ice. Add two spoonfuls of ginger-infused simple syrup. Shake. Top with brewed iced tea.

To create ginger-infused simple syrup, bring one cup of water and one cup of sugar to a boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Add a piece of fresh, peeled ginger and let it steep for 30 minutes in the pan. Strain the mixture into an airtight container. Can keep in the refrigerator for up to one month.

Photos by Sarah Angel.

Complimentary champagne and signature cocktails.

Complimentary champagne and massage giveaways in an Alice-in-Wonderland dream world: What more could a woman want? A tall, dark and handsome man wedged nicely on the side, perhaps? Even though FB’s Francesca Fridays are catered toward women, there are plenty of men crawling the corners of the Sixth Street bar. 

Started just a few months ago, the Francesca Fridays event at FB’s has already established itself as a night-scene staple. From 9-11 p.m. every Friday, the “Francescas,” a collection of friendly and fashionable females, host an evening of free champagne for the ladies with a Swedish massage giveaway at midnight from Avalon Salon & Aesthetic Day Spa. 

FB’s LA-style cocktail lounge is the perfect setting for a little pampering and partying. Decorated, according to their website, to evoke the “feeling of an eccentric neighbor’s living room or a bohemian artist’s hangout,” the comfortable and decadent mismatched Chesterfield sofas, oversized yellow chair, vintage wallpaper, black velvet curtains and huge golden mirrors create a feeling of fantasy and whimsy. And with a new signature cocktail list, two floors, and occasional gift basket giveaways, who wouldn’t want a taste of the swank?

“We wanted to provide the people of Cincinnati with a new experience where you walk into a swanky lounge surrounded by Cincinnati’s beautiful crowd,” says Kristina White, overseer of Francesca Fridays. “After a long week, you want to come in, dress beautiful and have a mouth-watering cocktail that our bartenders serve.”

By midnight the place is packed, but never fails to romance the visitors. Curious? Try the new Lemon Blossom Martini for a natural and fresh additive to your to-drink list, and allow your definition of ‘classy’ to take on a whole new meaning.

“You feed off of the energy. You see everyone dressed up. You see everyone smiling and laughing, having a cocktail,” says White. “We’re always trying to make this place better for Cincinnati.”

Lemon Blossom Martini


  • 1.5 oz. Ketel One Citroen 
  • .5 oz. 
  • St. Germain 
  • .5 oz. soda and sour 
  • Lemon wedge 
  • Ice

Instructions: Fill a martini shaker with ice. Add the vodka and St. Germain to the shaker. Shake well. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Top with soda and sour. Garnish with a lemon wheel. 

This cocktail club on Fountain Square creates a homemade Happy Hour.

Mynt Martini, which opened about two and a half years ago, is definitely a downtown Cincinnati hot spot, and manages to keep going strong with its lively events schedule, seasonal drinks and prime location right on Fountain Square. With specials and an urban atmosphere to please happy hour bar-goers and night owls alike, patrons can lounge on the nightclub’s furnished patio or scatter across the trendy bar interior, which is accented with pops of bright, minty green.  

From their extensive drink list, which naturally features lots of creative martinis, to themed parties and live bands (dance-punk group Cobra Starship recently performed a DJ set there), Mynt Martini is all about having fun. Just ask the bartenders, like Kayla Lanham. “I love coming to work!” she exclaims, laughing. 

Despite the focus on fun, Mynt Martini does take something very seriously: their drinks. They use the best quality and freshest ingredients whenever possible; Lanham even mentions wanting to purchase ingredients from the Tuesday farmers market on Fountain Square.  

She mixes, shakes and pours martinis with ease as she talks, describing how much she enjoys her job. “I get to hang out here, make drinks and have fun,” she says. The martini she’s making? The “50 Shades of Pink.” Playing on the title of the popular novel, the cocktail is, as Lanham puts it, “sweet, but with a kick to it.” 

Take a cue from Mynt Martini and use fresh, local and organic ingredients when possible to make seasonal drinks at home. The “50 Shades of Pink Martini,” which Lanham describes as a fun twist on a mango martini, is perfect for celebrating the end of summer. 



  • 3 oz. Three Olives mango vodka 
  • 11/2 oz. triple sec 
  • 2 oz. cranberry juice 
  • 2 oz. orange juice 
  • Ice 
  • Fresh, seasonal fruit


Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake with ice. Strain and pour into martini glass. Garnish with fresh pineapple, mango or other seasonal fruit.

Beer. After water and tea, it’s the third most popular beverage in the world.

And as far as alcoholic beverages go, it’s the most widely consumed and may in fact be the oldest. So it makes sense that there are a ton of beers in the world, from mainstream brewers like Budweiser to local micros like The Rivertown Brewing Company, all offering different philosophies and tastes.  

This is where The Listing Loon comes in. Owners Beth Harris and Dave Mikkelsen (both with bartending backgrounds) are the artful curators of this craft beer shop in Northside. And after being open only a couple of months, they’re successfully offering up the best beers they can from the overwhelmingly wide beer sea and bringing them to customers in a beautifully relaxed retail shop.  

“We don’t claim any expertise,” says Harris. “But we do have a lot of experience with a lot of beer, and we want just as much for people to share their experience with us as we do with them.”  

With a name that conjures up “a slightly intoxicated leaning crazy person in the form of an aquatic bird,” The Loon carries a broad selection of specialized beers for such a new shop — a fact they chalk up to previous relationships with local distributor reps and their relationship with The Comet in Northside, a bar known for its incredibly wide selection of draft and bottle beers (where you can actually taste many of the pricier beers The Loon carries before you buy). 

“National distribution mostly decides what beer one can find in the area and it’s certainly true that the established places get first pick,” says Mikkelsen. But a good, limited selection of beers is a boon for The Loon, not an obstacle. 

“Right now everything we get in is selling pretty quickly,” he says. “In other words, none of our beer is getting old or going bad. This is a really great situation for our clientele and our business.” 

While the original plan was to open a craft beer and wine shop eventually expanding into a full service draft beer and wine-by-the-glass tasting room, right now The Loon is on the waiting list for a wine license. This means they can only sell carry-out beer, which is good for beer lovers.  

“We’ve had customers who sought us out from Kentucky because of distribution issues and we just have beers that aren’t available there,” says Harris. “People are willing to travel for great beer.” Some of their favorites they carry: the Weihenstephaner Pilsner, what Mikkelsen calls “an accessible beer;” the 21st Amendment Bitter American, “a fantastic session ale;” Two Brother’s Ebel’s Weiss; and the Unibroue Blanche de Chambly.  

As for making beer into a cocktail, the duo has always had mixed feelings, but The Loon has created a summer lambic and lemonade cocktail — perfect for cookouts, porches and anything else a hot August throws your way. “We haven’t named this yet but are open to suggestions,” Harris says. “We’ll buy the winner a bottle?” 


  • Peppermint leaves 
  • Lemon zest 
  • Turbinado sugar 
  • Lemonade 
  • Cherry lambic 
  • Ice 


Muddle together three to four large peppermint leaves, lemon zest, Turbinado sugar and a splash of lemonade (for some extra acid to break things down). Pour this into the bottom of a Turbinado-sugar-rimmed pint glass. Add ice cubes to just shy of one inch of the rim of the glass. Slowly pour fresh lemonade to the halfway full/empty part of the glass, depending upon your philosophical perspective. Top off by very slowly pouring your favorite cherry lambic over the cubes until the foam stands just proud of the rim and pulls in a few crystals of sugar. Stop to enjoy the visual color scheme. Smell. Stir slowly, as not to disturb the sugar rim. Smell again (this is important). Enjoy.

Photos by Jesse Fox.

The Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar serves up whisky and whisky cocktails for everyone to enjoy.

Hanging above the door of a small Covington storefront is a round wooden sign that reads: “Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar.” The OKBB, despite its name, is the newest addition to the Mainstrasse Village entertainment district, and, according to owner/mixologist Molly Wellmann (co-owner/mastermind behind craft cocktailer Japp’s in Over-the-Rhine) is quite simply a “very small bar for drinking and celebrating American whisky.” 

The counter-to-ceiling shelving behind the bar is stocked with 127 different American whiskys. Wellmann purposely avoids using the word “bourbon” when describing the spirits because “they’re so much more,” she says. All bourbon is whisky, but not all whisky is bourbon. To be considered bourbon, the Federal Standards of Identity for Distilled Spirits dictates (along with several aging and proofing requirements) that the spirit be at least 51 percent corn whereas whisky, on the other hand, can also be made with a variety of grains including barley, rye and wheat. 

At the OKBB you’ll find rye whisky, white (or raw) whisky, experimental whisky, blended whisky, two scotches, two Canadian whiskies and three Irish whiskies. “So we can pour you a Jameson,” says Wellmann, “and then get you on to trying something new.” 

And this isn’t just a bar for men. Wellmann not only wants to celebrate the American whisky she carries, she also wants to celebrate women’s newfound appreciation for the spirit. “The first time you try whisky, all you taste is the burn,” says Wellmann. “But then your palate adapts to tasting all the flavors. Women have a more detailed and complex palate than men. In fact, more women are taste testers for beer and liquor companies than men.” 

Wellmann’s favorite whisky is Bulleit Bourbon because she finds it has a chocolate finish. Another favorite is Old Forester with its earthy flavor. And then Angel’s Envy, an artisan bourbon from Louisville, which you’d be hard pressed to find at any other local bar. “It has an almost tart taste,” says Wellmann. “It’s alive, bright and beautiful.” But everybody’s palate is different, she emphasizes, and each whisky will taste different to you, especially as your palate adapts. 

So what’s her recommended way to enjoy whisky? “Any way you like it, that’s the way to drink it,” says Wellmann. But she suggests you try it straight first so you can start to experience the taste. And if you can’t stand the burn, try it in a Seelbach Cocktail. 



  • Bourbon/whisky 
  • Ice or water 


When you order, ask for your preferred bourbon or whisky straight — and if you don’t have a preference, the knowledgeable bartenders at the OKBB can help you select one. Order a couple of ice cubes in a separate glass and a side of water. Try a small sip of the whisky first and if it’s too strong or the burn blocks the taste, put an ice cube in the glass and let it melt for about two minutes. “The water opens up the flavors and helps take out the burn,” says Molly. 


The Seelbach Cocktail was created circa 1917 in Louisville’s famed Seelbach Hotel, but was lost (most likely during Prohibition) for many years. In 1995, during hotel renovations, the Seelbach hotel manager rediscovered the recipe and the cocktail entered popular consciousness. “It’s still a cocktail not everyone knows how to make, but it’s a great bourbon cocktail for women — and men!” 


  • 1 sugar cube 
  • Angostura bitters 
  • Peychaud’s bitters 
  • ¼ oz. Triple Sec 
  • 1 ½ oz. bourbon (Molly frequently uses Jim Beam Black or Old Forester. “Never use rye whisky,” she says.) 
  • Ice 
  • Champagne 

Instructions: Place the sugar cube in a mixing glass. Add five dashes of Agnostura bitters and five dashes of Peychaud’s bitters. Allow the sugar cube to dissolve into the bitters. Add the triple sec and bourbon. Stir, with ice, and strain into a champagne flute. Top with champagne.