August 26, 2014
Charles Williams, the hard-boiled, pulpy, mystery, thriller-y writer, has shown up on this blog before a few times in Cocktail Talk posts. With good reason, as he’s one of the best 1950s/60s writers in all the genres mentioned. I’m always pretty excited to track down one of his books I haven’t read – his plots are crisp, his language is entertaining and right on, and his characters aren’t afraid of a good drink. Recently, I picked up his book Man on a Leash, which is about a young-ish guy trying to track down what happened to his recently-murdered and very larger-than-life father, and then getting into all kinds of predicaments himself. And having a Bloody Mary or two (not the normal drink, really, for pulp-ish books). Which is the where the first quote below comes from. The second has nothing to do with drinks, but is just a darn sweet quote. I’ve begun quoting it, actually, every day at work.
‘It sounds a little kooky, out here in the sagebrush, but would you believe a rescue at sea?’ She glanced at her watch and stood up. ‘But I’ve got to run. If you’ll stop by when you get through here, I’ll hammer together a couple of Blood Marys and a bit of lunch and tell you about it.’
Brubaker got up and began to pace the office. ‘Jesus Christ, when I think that I could’ve been a pimp or a geek in a sideshow, biting the heads off chickens!
– Charles Williams, Man on a Leash
August 22, 2014
Sometimes, in summer, it’s too hot for me to even write up a new, clever, headnote (anyone who shakes their head at “clever” please leave the room). And sometimes, I read another headnote from a book and just think, well, that says it all, really. This is one of those times.
In his famous eighteenth sonnet, when he lays down the immortal line “and summer’s lease hath all too short a date,” Shakespeare perhaps wasn’t exactly referring to a coquetry that happened in those hotter months between him and a fair lady, an ardent connection that slid smoothly past light flirtation into something a trace more serious, a Mercury-rising affaire d’amour that—for at least as long as those months lasted—seemed more important than the sun. As these adoring concerns are, sadly, like this drink, over much too soon, his line does hit the romantic nail on the head, though—showing again why Will S. was the master.
Summer Dream, from Dark Spirits, Serves 2 (because of reasons mentioned above)
3 orange slices
2 peach slices
4 ounces bourbon
2 ounces Campari
1 ounce Simple Syrup
1 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1. Add the orange and peach slices to a cocktail shaker. Using a muddler or wooden spoon, muddle well.
2. Fill the cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the bourbon, Campari, simple syrup, and lemon juice. Shake really well, if a little wistfully, for at least 15 seconds.
3. Strain the dream through a fine strainer equally into two cocktail glasses.
A Variation: Want a more cluttered drink? After step 2, instead of straining into cocktail glasses, pour the whole shebang, ice and fruit and every sad last word, into two large goblets. Rename it the Disordered Dream.
August 19, 2014
I’m a big fan of the local distillery scene here in Washington State (as any regular readers – the three of you – already know). And one of my favorite distilleries here is the Sidetrack Distillery, in Kent. They make award-winning fruit liqueurs using fruit grown on their farm, a lovely Nocino made with walnuts grown on their farm, and other tasty items – all using ingredients from their farm. Their latest is a must-taste-to-believe-how-amazing-it-is Lemon Verbena liqueur. Which I wrote about for Seattle magazine. You need to know more about this liqueur, trust me, so go read my Sidetrack Lemon Verbena liqueur article now.
August 15, 2014
Even though it’s probably 10 degrees hotter in central Italy right now than in Seattle (where I’m typing this – not sure where wherever you are falls in the temperature spectrum, but wherever, it won’t make a different in how much you enjoy this drink), even though, I’d still at this particular moment rather be kicking it in my old Italian home (oh, hey, I used to live in Italy), with my dogs, sitting in the olive grove, having this very drink, which I came up with when living in Italy. It’s highlighted by the Italian liqueur Strega, which is one of my favorite things, a beautiful drink on its own, with herbal goodness and trademark golden hue (brought on by saffron), but also a fine player in cocktails. Have one of these with me, and we can both dream in Italian.
1-1/2 ounces gin
3/4 ounces Strega
1/2 ounce simple syrup
1/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the gin, Strega, simple syrup, and juice. Shake as if you were rolling down a hill.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass or creatively cute wine glass. Drink while looking over the valley.
August 12, 2014
Holy awesomeness! If you didn’t know, I was recently lucky enough to be on the wonderful and wonderfully fun Happy Hour Radio here in Seattle (if you did miss it, you might want to follow me on the Twitter at @AJRathbun so you don’t miss the next one). It’s a swell show hosted by the friendly and knowledgeable (he’s like a sensei of a sommelier) Christopher Chan, which runs every Saturday from 11 AM to noon on 570 KVI AM. The episode I was on also featured Steve Metzler and Almudena de Llaguno from Classical Wines of Spain and Auction of Washington Wines Executive Director Aimee Sheridan – who were super great – and I made a Last Word in Kent and a Princess and talked up local spirits. So, not a show to miss, right? Lucky for you (we’re all lucky here), the show is archived and available, so you can listen to it whenever you want (maybe twice), or download it. Just go to this link: https://app.box.com/s/vgimk224vu4rmcogm8n2. You’ll love it! And here’s the line-up visually, if you want to picture us as you listen:
August 8, 2014
It’s wedding season, I do believe, evidenced by the lacy white outfits I keep seeing women wearing (usually accompanied by a bunch of other women in really oddly colored and shaped outfits – poor bridesmaids), and the number of gentlemen in tuxes with scared looks on their faces. Hah! I kid, I kid. I love weddings – they’re an especially nice kind of a party, a big ol’ celebration of two folks that hopefully are well-liked by everyone in attendance. In honor of the couples I know hitching it up this month (or right around this month), I’m going to whip up some Blushing Brides. These have to be made in batches of two, cause, well, I should think it’d be obvious.
The Blushing Bride, from Dark Spirits, Serves 2
12 fresh raspberries
6 lime wedges
4 ounces Cognac
2 ounces vodka
1 ounce Simple Syrup
1. Put the raspberries and 4 of the lime wedges into a cocktail shaker. Using a muddler, wooden spoon, or stiletto-heeled bridesmaid’s shoe, muddle well.
2. Fill the cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the Cognac, vodka, and simple syrup. Shake in a celebratory manner.
3. Strain the mix equally into two cocktail glasses through a fine strainer. Garnish each with a remaining lime wedge.
PS: I’ve seen drinks with this title that contain other ingredients. Avoid them. They are all awful
August 5, 2014
Hello! I recently wrote an article on refreshing (as heck) beer cocktails that combine Seattle-and-WA-made spirits, liqueurs, and beers. It’s called Warm-Weather Cocktails Made with Local Beer, Spirits and Liqueurs as you might expect, and was written for the mighty-fine Seattle magazine. If you like beer, cocktails, spirits, liqueurs, refreshing drinks, entertaining your friends, entertaining yourself, enjoying a righteous libation, or reading anything I write (there has to be at least one person out there who feels this way), then this beer cocktail article is for you.
* See all Seattle magazine articles by me
PS: I am also the hand model in the photo. Hah!
August 1, 2014
This refreshing number with a kick will not make you younger, or provide you (after you drink, say, three) with a vision that takes you to the fountain of youth. However, however, however, if you do consume three, with a good friend or two, my guess is you’ll start acting a bit more youthful, and feel perhaps more youthful, and have a generally awesome time. Maybe we shouldn’t ask for more?
The Ponce de León, from Dark Spirits
1 ounce Cognac
1/2 ounce white rum
1/2 ounce Cointreau
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
Chilled brut Champagne or sparkling wine
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the Cognac, rum, Cointreau, and grapefruit juice. Shake well.
2. Strain the elixir into a cocktail glass. Fill the glass not quite to the top with the Champagne. Serve with a youthful grin.