May 17, 2013
Okay, this one looks pretty un-2013, with its pairing of out-of-favor-with-snooty-bartenders favorites crème de caco (perhaps the finest drink ingredient to say out loud, if you say it with the right ending emphasis) and peppermint schnapps. Between us, I haven’t consumed as much peppermint schnapps in the last 28 years as I did 29 years ago. Maybe there’s a correlation there? Who knows? However, with the sun starting to shine and the temperature starting to go up, it’s good to get the Coney Island Baby into your repertoire, because it’s an ideal thirst quencher for the summer months. Refreshing, minty, and working well with white outfits, and from Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz, forget about your schnapps bias and stock up for summer. You’ll thank me later.
Coney Island Baby
2 ounces white crème de cacao
1 ounce peppermint schnapps
Chilled club soda
Fresh peppermint sprig, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add the crème de cacao and peppermint schnapps. Stir well.
2. Fill a highball glass three-quarters full with ice cubes. Strain the mixture over the ice. Fill the glass almost to the top with club soda. Stir, and garnish with the peppermint.
May 14, 2013
I recently was lucky enough to spend a short two days (not lucky cause it was short, but lucky in that I was able to go at all) in San Francisco, checking out a few snazzy bars and seeing some snazzy people. And having some Mexican food with my pals Mike and Meredith. But here, cause in theory this is a blog about booze and drinks, I’m gonna focus mostly on pictures of the drinks I had, starting with ones had at Blackbird. From what I’ve gathered, Blackbird is sort-a new, though it had a very comfortable neighborhood bar feel and a bunch of stuffed blackbirds above the wooden and glass shelves behind the bar. I don’t want the term “neighborhood” to confuse you though, into thinking the drinks weren’t crafted with care. Cause they were, and then some, by a bartender named Matt Grippo (and a couple other nice fellas whose names I missed). The menu was scripted on a long big scroll-of-sorts behind the bar (in two spots), and I picked a Knee Slapper off of it:
The Knee Slapper (well-named, as most drinks there) was a combination of Four Roses, Old Overholt rye, Averna, Gran Classico, and, interestingly, crème de cacao. It’s rare to see a doubling of the base spirits, and rarer still to see the crème de cacao thrown into a mix of brown boozes, but the end result was very tasty, rich, and layered with flavor and herbal notes. Dreamy stuff. By the time I ended up with a second drink, the Blackbird was hoppin’. It was a Saturday night, so expected, but I haven’t been in a spot that busy for a few, oh, years probably (hey, I’m old). It was four deep across the whole bar at one point. And here’s what was amazing: Matt kept his easy-going and affable demeanor the whole time, even when people asked incredibly silly things (one order: “can I get four beers, a Martini, and some whiskey?” With no specifics at all). And, during the madness, the drinks were still put together perfectly, and including an off-menu drink he made for me (maybe it was going to be on the next menu) with no name – or no name I remember. It was a wildly intriguing mixture as well: Enchanto pisco, Calpico (an uncarbonated Japanese milky soft drink), cucumber, lemon, orgeat, and a rose water rinse. That is out there friends. But you know what? It all came together into a refreshing, tangy, vegetal, smooth hit:
All-in-all, a fantastic spot, Blackbird. I’d definitely return in a heartbeat. It’s the kind of place where you could get the fancy cocktails made in the modern masterful manner, but also order a High Life if you wanted – as long as you paid cash:
May 10, 2013
Now and then, something shows up on your doorstep that just makes you shake your head confusedly. Maybe it’s a baby unicorn, maybe it’s a basket of bran muffins, and maybe it’s a bottle of Canadian rye whiskey combined with maple syrup. The latter happened to me recently (maybe you, too) in the form of Tap 357. At first, I was as mentioned shaking my head, being generally opposed to pre-blended flavored spirits. But I’m nothing if not adventuresome (with the scars to prove it), so naturally I tasted it. And then tasted it some more. And then a little more. And you know what – it’s pretty swell stuff. Not too sweet, not too maple-y, but with just the right amount of both. It’s nice to sip solo over a little ice, with a little of the trees and the fields about it, and a nice slow ending of grain and syrup. But I’ve also been playing around with it in cocktails, starting with something that seems like it would be just north of awful: a plain whiskey sour but with Tap 357. I keep my sours simple, and this was no different: Tap 357, lemon juice, ice. I figured the lemon and maple would butt heads, but you know what? It was darn tasty. The lemon comes in bright at first, then the whiskey notes, then that maple finish with a touch of tang. Good stuff. Now, if I could just figure out what to do with that unicorn.
The Canadian Sour
2-1/2 ounces Tap 357 Canadian Maple Rye Whiskey
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
Lemon slice, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway up with ice cubes. Add the Tap 357 and lemon juice. Shake like a logger.
2 Strain through a fine strainer into a cocktail glass. Garnish with the lemon slice.
May 7, 2013
If you live in Seattle, near Seattle, or are ever coming to visit Seattle, or just like to hear me go on about bars I love, then listen up: Drink Seattle: A Spirited Journey Through Seattle Bars and Cocktails with A.J. Rathbun is the app for you. It basically means you won’t miss a lounge, bar, distillery, or dive that’s worth sitting down and sipping within. It gives you a great drink in nearly every neighborhood, specific cocktail picks for each place, and a host of insights on individual bar personalities. Each recommended establishment features a detailed review, notes on what to order, and great photos and tips for having the best experience you can. And the app has all those features you expect –GPS, one-touch dialing, and turn-by-turn directions – and vital info like business hours, websites, etc. And, awesomely, the app is updated frequently so you stay abreast of all the top cocktail bars, worthy whistle-wetters, divetasticos, unmissable distilleries, cocktail supply shops, and believe-it-or-not beer shops. All of that. Here are some pictures, too, to tempt you:
So, wait no longer, get the Drink Seattle app today: http://bit.ly/DrinkSeattleApp.
PS: Available for iPhone and iPad!
May 3, 2013
Some days, I want to drink a drink with banana in it (rare days, but sure). Some days, I also want to wear a bowler hat, walk around the house saying “pip, pip” and talking in perhaps the worst English accent of all time. Some days, I also like to have a bit of gin. Some days, I’ve been known to don spats. Some days, I’ll read Agatha Christie until my eyes get tired. Some days, I do every single one of the aforementioned things at the same time. On those days, I’ve probably had more than one Silver Jubilee (using this recipe from Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz).
2 ounces gin
1 ounce crème de banana
1/2 ounce heavy cream
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the gin, crème de banana, and heavy cream. Shake well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. If you’re having one of those days, garnish with a piece of dark chocolate and a thick banana round.
April 30, 2013
Well, it’s been a fine week (or, thereabouts. Or, my week may be different than yours. One of those) of Dickens Cocktail Talk posts, with all of them from his lesser-known, but still a book that should be on your “must-read” list, novel The Old Curiosity Shop. You know what’s funny? At least relating to the book and the Cocktail Talking? I could do, oh, at least four more posts with tipsy quotes from the book. Dickens, naturally, liked his drink a bit, and his drinkers, and his bars, and so his books tend to be dandy spots for those us who don’t mind a drink to dwell in. This last quote has to do with the devilish villain of the book, a certain Mr. Quilip, looking in at his lawyer, who is also villainous, but in a weaker and (to be honest) less admirable way. If you’re going to be a villain, at least don’t be mealy-mouthed about it. And while I can’t like him, I can’t really fault his drinking choices.
Applying his eye to this convenient place, he descried Mr. Brass seated at the table with pen, ink, and paper, and the case-bottle of rum – his own case-bottle, and his own particular Jamaica – convenient to his hand; with hot water, fragrant lemons, white lump sugar, and all things fitting; from which materials, Sampson, by no means insensible to their claims upon his attention, had compounded a mighty glass of punch reeking hot; which he was at that very moment stirring up with a teaspoon, and contemplating with a look in which a faint assumption of sentimental regret struggled but weakly with a bland and comfortable joy.
–Charles Dickens, The Old Curiosity Shop
April 26, 2013
If you didn’t read The Old Curiosity Shop, Part I, you might want to, or just check out all Charles Dickens Spiked Punch posts. Cause I don’t want to take a lot of pre-amble, as this post will have a quote from that classic book, as well as a recipe that relates to the quote (cause I like to have Friday Night Cocktail recipes on Fridays, and wanted to somehow tie it all together. Make sense?). So, here’s the Cocktail Talk, Dickens’ style.
Presently he returned, followed by the boy from the public house, who bore in one hand a plate of bread and beef, and in the other a great pot, filled with some very fragrant compound, which sent forth a grateful steam, and was indeed choice Purl, made after a particular recipes which Mr. Swiveller had imparted to the landlord at a period when he was deep in his books and desirous to conciliate his friendship. Relieving the boy of his burden at the door, and charging his little companion to fasten it to prevent surprise, Mr. Swiveller followed her into the kitchen.
Now, to follow that up, here’s a recipe for Purl from Good Spirits, so you can make your own to sip on while reading Dickens on a cold spring night. Or, to have with friends while you’re acting out scenes from your favorite Dickens’ books. This is something you do, right?
6 ounces porter
6 ounces ale (a pale ale works)
1 ounce gin
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1. Add the porter, ale, and ginger to a small saucepan. Heat over medium-heat, until warm but not boiling.
2. Carefully pour the porter-ale mixture into a pint glass that has been slightly warmed (by running it under warm water).
3. Add the gin. Stir once with a spoon. Sprinkle the freshly grated nutmeg over the top.
April 23, 2013
Hey, readers of this blog, you should know this: I’m a big fan of Charles Dickens. Heck, there are a couple Charles Dickens Cocktail Talk posts on here already (as well as a few other odds and sods related to him). He had the stuff, in my opinion. And, so I regularly re-read him, and recently did such with The Old Curiosity Shop. Not my top Dickens pick – not sure what is, really – but still awesomely awesome (I wonder what he would say if someone referred to him that way, way back when). And full of the lovely cast of Dickensian characters, good, bad, really bad, silly, stupid, wonderful, and tipsy. Of course, the latter are what we’re focusing on here. And the book is so filled with good drinkerly quotes that we’re gonna do a whole week of them! Or more. Who knows? Only me, Dickens, and the pony. This first quote’s from the early parts of the book, and makes some true points on soda water and human hair.
He began by remarking that soda-water, though a good thing in the abstract was apt to lie cold upon the stomach unless qualified with ginger, or a small infusion of brandy, which latter article he held to be preferable in all cases, saving for the one consideration of expense. Nobody venturing to dispute these positions, he proceeded to observe that the human hair was a great retainer of tobacco-smoke, and that the young gentlemen of Westminster and Eton, after eating vast quantities of apples to conceal any scent of cigars from their anxious friends, were usually detected in consequence of their heads possessing this remarkable property.
–Charles Dickens, The Old Curiosity Shop