Close Menu

Cocktail stories: Alfarrabista, Red Frog

Paulo Gomes of Red Frog has attempted to capture a traditional Lisbon bookshop within the glass of one of his signature smoky cocktails.

Alfarrabista, Red Frog
Red Frog’s cocktail is a twist on an Old Fashioned

*This feature was originally published in the January 2024 issue of The Spirits Business magazine.

Red Frog was a rare breed when it opened in 2015 in Lisbon, a secret speakeasy modelled on the clandestine bars that were common in New York in the Prohibition era.

Nowadays, it’s not such a secret anymore – it’s seen its fair share of accolades since its debut eight years ago, and is widely credited for putting Lisbon on the map as a cocktail city. Guests will find it hidden behind a locked door of sister bar Monkey Mash (press the bell for entry), on the Praça da Alegria, where co-owner Paulo Gomes tends to a range of classic cocktails, each given an imaginative personal twist.

One of those is an Old Fashioned that he’s called the Alfarrabista, named in tribute of antiquarian bookstores dotted around the Portuguese capital.

It’s a showcase cocktail on the bartender’s new monochromatic menu, and aims to evoke memories of vintage bookshops.

Gomes says: “On the top of the glass you are going to see a book, 60-70 years old, and then we take the book off and smoke is released.” He adds that it never fails to have a ‘wow effect’ on guests.

Paulo Gomes, Red Frog
Paulo Gomes, Red Frog

Gomes constructs the cocktail with an Irish whiskey, Flaming Pig, that he fat washes with noisette (brown hazelnut butter).

He says: “We make the hazelnut noisette butter for the kind of scent that you might find when you go to the bookstore – very old books and wood.” This is complemented with the black walnut sugar and bitters, which he and his team make themselves. “For the black walnut we make a syrup and a bitter, we pick fresh walnuts and age them with an OCOO machine – a machine mostly used for food, like heating stocks and broths – until the walnuts turn black.

“When the walnuts turn black, they have an extra aroma compared with normal nuts,” he explains. “There’s balsamic in the taste, and it has a slight honey flavour as well.”

Gomes then smokes the glass, distils an Earl Grey mist on the top, serves with a smoke of spices, and covers with the book, trapping all the notes under the tome before releasing them in front of the guests, like a magician. “They love the presentation and theatre of it all,” he says.


50ml Flaming Pig Irish Whiskey, fat-washed with hazelnut noisette
12.5ml Black walnut syrup
4 dashes Black walnut syrup bitters

Stir ingredients together in an Old Fashioned glass. Garnish with black walnut, spiced smoke and a smoked Earl Grey tea scent.

It looks like you're in Asia, would you like to be redirected to the Drinks Business Asia edition?

Yes, take me to the Asia edition No