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Bartender Diaries: Professor Plum by Patrick Riley

Editor’s Note: This is a regular series of articles about bartenders (both professional and home enthusiasts) and the inspirations behind their creations. We are delighted to share their stories! Interested in sharing yours? Simply email us at unchartedwine@gmail.com!

Patrick Riley is the Lead Bartender at Balance Restaurant in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. He takes particular delight in seeking out undiscovered spirits to create new cocktails for Balance’s award-winning cocktail menu, and also develops and presents spirit education classes. He also took the photo of the cocktail. Check out his Cherry O Baby cocktail here.


Patrick joined us again with another original recipe, the Professor Plum. It gives us a great excuse to talk about Damsons and Old Tom Gin.


Damsons are a subspecies of plum. They are a common feature of English gardens, where they are turned into jam, sauce, and Damson Gin. Basically, simply combine some gin, sugar and your damsons in a crock, cover with a weight, come back in a few months, and there it is. Just about every European region has a version of spirits made in this way, from limoncello to Ginjinha (the British also do this with sloe berries, but more on that in a few weeks). Since you will be hard-pressed to find Damsons here, you can buy Averell instead. Can’t find it? Ask the local liquor store you have developed a close relationship with (and you have that done that, right?) to order it for you.


Old Tom Gin is having its day again. The original base for many of classic cocktails, it is sweeter and less botanical than other gins. Don’t substitute Old Tom for London Dry, as the flavor profiles are distinct. It is now found in any decently stocked liquor store.

This drink was an exercise in subtlety and balance, As Patrick said, “I was working with Averell and other gins but the more juniper forward London Dry gins overpowered the damson plum flavor of the Averell. The Hayman’s Old Tom was just the right match.”


Also, the simple syrup would also be an excellent complement to tea, so don't worry about making too much.


Professor Plum

1.5oz Hayman’s Old Tom Gin

1oz Averell Damson Gin Liqueur

.25oz fresh lemon juice

.25oz honey/thyme simple syrup

4 dashes Wigle rosemary/lavender bitters


Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker, shake for 10-15 seconds, serve in a coupe.


Recipe: Honey Thyme Simple Syrup



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