My friends know how much I love history. My friends also know how much I love a good cocktail. When I can put the two together it’s a match made in heaven.

One of my favorite magazines is Imbibe, a publication dedicated to “Liquid Culture.” In addition to spirits, beer, coffee, and wine, the editors/writers/contributors always manage to find the latest hot trend in “liquid,” or what I especially love, the most obscure spirit that has some strange historical significance.

This month it is Becherovka. I won’t repeat the article, but instead offer the Cliff Notes summary. Bercherovka is a liqueur from Bohemia, or what is now called the Czech Republic, made from a blend of botanicals macerated in alcohol, sweetened and lightened with the curative waters from the city where it’s made – Karlovy Vary. The full name is Becher’s Original Karlsbader English Bitter, shortened, mercifully to Becherovka. I urge you to read the full article!


What attracted me most, in addition to the weird obscurity of the spirit, is the wintry character of the cocktail recipes Imbibe presented. The one which caught my attention the most is Wakeman’s Air, the product of Rick Paulger at Michael Symon’s Roast in Detroit. I rolled one and was immediately smitten.

The cocktail is warm and inviting with a seductive mix of spicy complexity supplied by the Becherovka. Perfect for a wintry evening!

Ladies and gentlemen, I present Wakeman’s Air:

1 ½ oz. Rye Whisky (I used Bulleit)

¾ oz.     Sweet Vermouth (I used Carpano Antico)

½ oz.     Becherovka

2 Dashes Angostura Bitters

Garnish with a flamed orange peel

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. The original recipe calls for the mixture to be stirred with ice, I prefer to shake with crushed ice, then strain into a cocktail glass. To garnish, cut a quarter-sized disk from the peel of an orange, avoiding the pith. Carefully holding a lit match in one hand above and just to the side of the glass, quickly squeeze the orange disk so the oils from the peel spray through the flame and into the drink. Discard the peel.