Recently I held the second iteration of an improv cocktail event I created, which I’m currently calling “Dealer’s Choice”. People come to my house and I make them random drinks based on ideas I’ve had in mind or have been playing with. I had a couple of infusions made from backyard herbs, rose geranium, lemon-balm, fig+dill vermouth, and had also procured some candy caps which were fun to play with. I made about 10 drinks in total, including a tiki-esque number with guanabana liqueur and several rums, a coconut+shiso spirit-forward drink that worked surprisingly well, and a rose geranium+cucumber long drink that was likewise a nice surprise. I attempted a riff on the excellent pear+dill+yogurt drink I had recently at the San Jose bar Paper Plane, it didn’t quite come together but was a fun experiment and I plan to keep playing with it. Previously I was working on a cherry+honey+smoke cocktail for a friend and her party, and I served a variation of that at the event as well. Of the two working versions – one with Japanese whiskey, leaning more heavily on actual cherry juice, and one with mezcal, with a greater emphasis on cherry liqueurs – I’m favoring the mezcal one, but decided to see what people thought of the whiskey version and it was well received. For the next Dealer’s Choice I am thinking of doing a “forgotten classics” theme, pulling out lesser-known old-school recipes like the Culross. They’re drinks I have on my lengthy list of recipes to try, but I’m so often driven by free-form experimentation and home infusions and the like that I very seldom actually test any of them. So for me this will give a chance to taste some of these possibly interesting classic creations, and for my guests it will be a perhaps less hit-and-miss experience since these are (theoretically) proven recipes.