Common Ground Spirits April Blog 2023

Hello Friends,

We spent the better part of April zooming all over Georgia, meeting new people, mixing up cocktails, sampling our gins, and getting to know the local food and drink scene. We had an excellent meeting with our Georgia distributor sales team and are looking forward to announcing new accounts, so stay tuned!

In the meantime, we’re diving into Tom Bullock’s catalog of classy cocktails for inspiration this month. We wrote about Tom Bullock for Black History Month, an important 20th century bartender who wrote the book—literally—on cocktails both familiar and forgotten (you may remember the Bronx, the Julep, and the Bramble, but how about the Fish Club Punch, the Leaping Frog, or the Pousse Cafe?).

Bullock’s 1917 book, The Ideal Bartender, opens with this introduction from wealthy politician and devoted Bullock fan, George Herbert Walker:

“I have known the author of ‘The Ideal Bartender’ for many years, and it is a genuine privilege to be permitted to testify to his qualifications for such a work.

To his many friends in St. Louis, Louisville, Cincinnati, Chicago and elsewhere, my word will be superfluous, but to those who do not know him, and who are to be the gainers by following his advice, it may prove at the very beginning a stimulus to know something of his record of achievement.

For the past quarter of a century, he has refreshed and delighted the members and their friends of the Pendennis Club of Louisville and the St. Louis Country Club of St. Louis. In all that time I doubt if he has erred in even one of his concoctions. Thus if there is “many a slip “twixt the cup and the lip” it has been none of his doing, but rather the fault of those who have appreciated his art too highly. But why go on! His work is before you. It is the best to be had. Follow on, and as you sip the nectar of his schemings tell your friends, to the end that both they and he may be benefitted.”

Bullock’s book is a glimpse into the early heyday of the cocktail and is peppered with fascinating recipes for every spirit, every theme, and every occasion you can imagine (it’s also the first cocktail book published by a Black American). There are healthful draughts to soothe the bowels, fruit shrubs which should be mixed “in a porcelain-lined or agate vessel,” and roughly 34 gin cocktails from the Sour to the Fizz to the Squash.

For our April cocktail, we chose to make a spin on the refreshing Horse Thief Cocktail, an herby and refreshing drink for a warm spring evening. We substituted absinthe for Pernod, favoring its dominant licorice notes in combination with our Gin Recipe 02 (black currant and thyme), but we’ve included Bullock’s original recipe too, in case you want to try it as the maestro himself intended. The Old Tom Gin Bullock calls for is a bit sweeter than ours, so you can also experiment with adding a dash of simple syrup to the mix if you’re so inclined.


Horse Thief Cocktail à la Common Ground Spirits.

Serves 1

2 dashes Pernod or similar pastis

½ oz Italian Vermouth

2 ½ oz Common Ground Spirits Gin Recipe 02

Lemon wheel for garnish

  1. Fill a mixing glass with ice, then add the Pernod, Italian Vermouth, and gin. Stir until a little of the ice has melted and the mixture is ice cold (you’ll see condensation on the mixing glass), about a minute. 
  2. Strain the cocktail into a martini glass, garnish with lemon wheel, and serve.

Tom Bullock’s Horse Thief Cocktail

Fill a large Mixing glass with Lump Ice.

2 dashes green Absinthe.

½ pony Italian Vermouth.

1 jigger Sir Robert Burnette’s Old Tom Gin.

Stir well and serve in a Cocktail glass.

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