June 7, 2024

What I’m Drinking: A Smoky House

Here’s a nice smoky, citrusy, smoothy, pepper-y number that’s ideal for the Junes, the time we’re residing within as I drink this. It all came about thusly: for reasons unknown (outside of me getting old, maybe having two many bottles around, those two things, or maybe it was alien interference in the atmosphere, which can be quite a problem on clear early-nearly-summer evenings), I forgot for a moment that I had a three-quarters full bottle of Ancho Reyes, the delectable ancho chile liqueur based on a recipe from way back in 1927, a liqueur delivering a hint of smoke and heat alongside a balanced spice array, cinnamon, cocoa, tamarind, and a little nuttiness. Amazing stuff. So, when I discovered this bottle I’d misplaced in my mind for a short time (very short, compared to the universe’s bdays), I knew I needed to make a drink with it immediately. I first thought “tequila!” as one does, but then my hand when removing the Ancho Reyes brushed again a bottle of Peruvian Pisco, the grape-based brandy beloved in certain South American spots (and by me in Seattle). I felt it’d go grandly in my proposed drink. Then I played around a bit, and ended up desiring some orange-y notes. Voila! I grabbed Brovo’s Orange Curaçao, crafted with care up here in the WA via three types of dried orange peel. It’s a treat of orange mysticism that also brings a smidge of sweet (Brovo’s Orange Curaçao and Ancho Reyes go so well together they both feature in a drink called the All the Devils cocktail). However! Even though these three stalwarts made a swell sipper themselves, I wanted to take it up to another level entirely, and felt some fresh citrus notes, nothing overwhelming, might do it. And, I was right (I say, modestly). A small amount of fresh oj, with it’s bright notes and vitamin C, did the trick. And there you have, a drink destined to make your June jolly.

A Smoky House cocktail

A Smoky House

Ice cubes

1-3/4 ounces Bar Sol Pisco

3/4 ounces Ancho Reyes ancho liqueur

1/2 ounce Brovo Orange Curaçao

1/4 ounce freshly-squeezed orange juice

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add it all! Shake well.

2. Strain the mix through a fine strainer into a cocktail glass or wine glass or goblet or whatever suits you. We’re not gonna glass shame here, friends.

June 4, 2024

Cocktail Talk: The Five Bells and Bladebone

The Five Bells and Bladebone Cocktail Talk

I’ve had a few Martha Grimes Cocktail Talks on the Spiked Punch in the past, and now it’s time for another! From a book of hers I recently picked up called The Five Bells and Bladebone, which may seem a rather odd name for a book. But it’s taken from an English pub (which might differ in one space from the book title, that being between blade and bone), as are all the books I’ve read by Martha Grimes, and a big portion of all the books she wrote – so far, as she’s still alive at 93, and might write more! These titles and the pubs contained within the books makes said books, as you might expect, ripe for Cocktail Talking. That’s not the only reason for reading them, naturally, as she writes a fairly good mystery yarn, too, featuring her crime-solving, somehow wistful to me (as wistful as a hunky tall dude can be), Inspector Jury, alongside, for some of the time, his pal and sometimes helper Melrose Plant, who was an English Lord (before giving up the title, though perhaps not some of the lord-y-ness), and his always-sick-talking hypochondriacal sidekick sergeant Wiggins. I perhaps didn’t love this book of hers as much as past ones I’ve read, but it’s still well worth tracking down, and not just because one character drinks whiskey out of a toothbrush glass, as you’ll see below.

Jury half rose, but she was already out of her chair, moving quickly and purposefully towards her target. All of her movements were quick and purposeful, thought Jury. If this was Lady Summerston sick, he be almost afraid to see Lady Summerston well.

Her voice preceded her as she returned with the picture. As if reading his mind, she was saying, “I imagine Crick told you I had a heart condition, a lung condition, a live condition. The last might be true, but not the first two. There’s a decanter of whiskey on the bureau. Get it, will you? And” – she called after him – “ get the toothbrush glass from the bathroom.”

— Martha Grimes, The Five Bells and Bladebone

May 31, 2024

What I’m Drinking: The Summertivo

It is, according to my calendar, the last day of May. Which means tomorrow (for those who are calendarly challenged) is the first day of June. And while the first day of June isn’t the official start of summer, it is the official (I’m making this up as I type btw) first day of Planning for Summer Drinking season. Though perhaps that should be like April. But let’s make it June 1! I’m all for it, and with that in place now and carved into stone like commandments or famous last words, let me present to you a drink for your summer, the Summertivo.

You may be able to guess that this is specifically a summer pre-dinner drink, a warm weather aperitivo as it may be. And it is! But it is also a drink that you can have with summertime brunches or breakfasts, in the mid-afternoon when you need something just a smidge stronger than tea, or after dinner, when the summer romances are blooming and you don’t want to be weighed down by your sipping. It starts with Galliano L’Aperitivo, lovely drink solo, or mixed as it is here. It’s bitter, but not too bitter, made from a host of delicious ingredients, starting with regular oranges, bergamot oranges, and bitter oranges, as well as citrus pals chinotto, tangerines, and grapefruits, and then spices such as anise, juniper, cardamom, sandalwood, sage, lavender, peppermint, cinnamon, and vanilla, with a bit of the regular (delicious, also) Galliano, too. Altogether, it delivers this fresh, citrusy, herbally, taste, very flavorful, very balanced. And very perfect with Italian sparkling wine prosecco, which is our second ingredient here. The third is a simple lemon twist, to add a hint of high-end tang. As with all good summer drinks, no sweat to make, too. One note: you might try a dash of Scrappy’s legendary Black Lemon Bitters in here. I don’t have it listed below, but it’s worth a gander. Call it Summertivo 2.0 to be all modern.

The Summertivo cocktail
The Summertivo cocktail

The Summertivo

3/4 ounce Galliano L’Aperitivo

4 ounces chilled Mionetto Prosecco DOC Treviso brut

Lemon twist, for garnish

Ice cube, if wanted

1. Add the L’Aperitivo to a flute or comparable glass. Top with the prosecco.

2. Carefully stir in a manner that brings everything together without being wacky. If your prosecco isn’t really chilled, or if it’s hot out, add an ice cube.

3. Garnish with the twist. Give a toast to the sun, and to Italy.

May 24, 2024

What I’m Drinking: The Bruja Smash

Warning: fake nearly swearing heading your way! This delight (ideal for the here and now and for the upcoming sunny days that you’ll hopefully be enjoying with pals or by yourself or with your dog to the fullest) was created by Seattle (and the world) legend, the mthrfcking baron of booze, Andrew Bohrer. I can’t recall when said sloshed sensi created it, but he let me put it into the mthrfcking Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz, thereby making that book like a billion times better times a billion times. That’s mthrfcking right. The Bruja Smash is not only the Hulk himself’s favorite all-time drink (and he knows drinks, mthrfckers), but also is highlighted by Italian saffron, mint, and more goodness containing golden-hued liqueur Strega, which is mingled with tequila and a whole bunch of mthrfcking fruity goodness. Perfectly balanced, of course, cause Andrew is a genius. And he currently slings drinks most Sundays at The Doctor’s Office, which is a, dare I say it, mthrfcking awesome spot.

The Bruja Smash

The Bruja Smash

Crushed ice

7 fresh mint leaves

7 fresh raspberries

1½ ounces white tequila

1 ounce Strega

½ ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 mint sprig, for garnish

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with crushed ice. Add the mint leaves, raspberries, tequila, Strega, and lemon juice. Shake really well.

2. Dump the contents of the shaker (no straining here) into a large tulip-style beer glass or other good-sized pretty vessel.

May 21, 2024

Cocktail Talk: The Return of the Native

The Return of the Native

Here we are and the ol’ Spiked Punch blog has gone high-brow. Countryside high-brow, I suppose, as below we have the first Thomas Hardy Cocktail Talk ever! And Hardy, as we all know, was devoted to his particular countryside, which he called Wessex, perhaps more devoted to this one place than almost any other author was or is to a spot. Perhaps. But I ramble! I went through a heavy Hardy phase as one does in say my late 20s to mid-30s (somewhere in there), and while I never returned to him again and again in the way I do with Dickens, or Trollope, or Mosley, I did recently re-read The Return of the Native, and might delve back into another of his, too, soon. We shall see. But again, I ramble. There’s been enough said about Hardy that I don’t need to give some sort-of Return of the Native critique, but I will say that, outside of the Hardian language and narrative and landscape, the book also features a pub called The Quiet Woman Inn a little, and while not a book full of Cocktail Talking, the pub does set the scene for the below quote, which has the prettiest drink under the sun in it!

“That’s a drop of the right sort, I can see,” said Grandfer Cantle, with the air of a man too well-mannered to show any hurry to taste it.

“Yes,” said Wildeve, “’tis some old mead. I hope you will like it.”

“O ay!” replied the guests, in the hearty tones natural when the words demanded by politeness coincide with those of deepest feeling. “There isn’t a prettier drink under the sun.”

“I’ll take my oath there isn’t,” added Grandfer Cantle. “All that can be said against mead is that ’tis rather heady, and apt to lie about a man a good while. But tomorrow’s Sunday, thank God.”

“I feel’d for all the world like some bold soldier after I had had some once,” said Christian.

“You shall feel so again,” said Wildeve, with condescension. “Cups or glasses, gentlemen?”

“Well, if you don’t mind, we’ll have the beaker, and pass ‘en round; ’tis better than heling it out in dribbles.”

–Thomas Hardy, The Return of the Native

May 10, 2024

What I’m Drinking: The Whizz Bang

You might think a drink with this particular name would be more suited for a specific day in July (the fourth, that is), when whizz-bangers are going off in most US neighborhoods, and, between us, you’d be forgiven for thinking this, as I’ve made Whizz Bang cocktails on that very day in the past. However! I also think that mom’s need to have a hearty cocktail on Mother’s Day, and that mom’s can be firecrackers, too, in their own ways, and go whizzing around doing all that they do. Which means, as Mother’s Day is in two days, I believe it’s completely appropriate to be having this now and then. The drink’s lovely combination of bourbon (I’m going Woodinville Whiskey Company’s Straight bourbon, cause moms deserve the best!) and its sweet bourbon-ness with dry vermouth’s high-tone herbals, and with hints of Pernod’s sharper anise action, and with grenadine’s sweet tang (if you don’t make your own grenadine, you’re really not being fair to the moms), and with the deep herbal underpinnings of Scrappy’s classic Orange bitters, all of that together all being the lovely combination alluded to at the beginning of this sentence, this combination is sure to charm moms, and you, too, even if having it for no holiday at all, just cause it tastes awesomely awesome.

The Whizz Bang Cocktail

The Whizz Bang

Ice cubes

1-1/2 ounces Woodinville Whiskey Co. bourbon

3/4 ounce dry vermouth

1/4 ounce Pernod

1/4 ounce homemade grenadine (recipe at the end of the As Luck Would Have it cocktail recipe)

2 dashes Scrappy’s Orange bitters

 1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the bourbon, vermouth, Pernod, grenadine, and orange bitters. Shake well.

2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Present it to mom (or drink it yourself if mom isn’t available).

May 7, 2024

Cocktail Talk: The Way We Die Now

The Way We Die Now by Charles Willeford

I’ve had a fair number of Charles Williford Cocktail Talks on the ol’ Spiked Punch in the past, and I suggest you go read all of them to learn more about this interesting writer, who became more widely famous when he started a series about a Miami detective named Hoke Mosely (though his other books are well worth tracking down in the main – you’ll catch a few of them and a few Hoke’s in the past Cocktail Talking). Hoke featured in four books, and I sure wish there were more, as he’s quite a character. The Way We Die Now is the last of the four novels featuring him, and was published early in 1988, the same year Williford sadly died. It’s a dark book at times, as a warning, but funny, too, and great, I think, in many ways. One of which is Larry’s Hideaway, featured in the below quote.

Hoke was well pleased by the interrogation. It had gone more smoothly than he had thought it would. Before returning to the station, Hoke stopped at Larry’s Hideaway for a shot of Early Times and a beer. Sergeant Armando Quevedo was sitting at the bar, and staring glumly into a seventeen-ounce strawberry Margarita. A large strawberry floated on top of the drink. Hoke sat on the stool next to him and ordered a shot of Early Times and a Michelob draft.

“When did you start drinking that shit, Armando?” Hoke said.

Quevedo turned and grimaced. “It’s pretty awful, but the doc said I’d have to give up boilermakers. So I figured if I stuck to this belly wash, I wouldn’t overdo it. It’s sweeter than hell. Are you off today?”

“No, I’m working. I just stopped off for a quickie.”

–Charles Willeford, The Way We Die Now

April 26, 2024

What I’m Drinking: Brovo Pretty Vermouth and Tonic

Hey, guess what? It’s the heart of spring (more-or-less), which means the sun is coming out more regularly (hopefully, at least, but hopefully also not so much as to make us enjoy it less), and also that summer is about to rear its sunshiny head, which then means that you and me and all (who are consumers of drinks utilizing booze) need to start to think about refreshing drinks that don’t make you sweat to make them, which are easier to make then this very long sentence. One perfect solution here: XX and tonic. The XX is not a warning, but generic so-as to remind that many things go well with tonic, and end up delicious. Gin, naturally. But many other liquids, too, including other base spirits (rum and tonic: yummy), aperitif-y things (Lillet and tonic: yummy), and one of my favorite “and tonic” things: vermouth. With the right vermouth and tonic, you have an easy to make, wonderful to drink combo. To ensure I have the right vermouth, today I’m reaching for WA-state-made Brovo Pretty vermouth. A blanc vermouth based on Pinot Gris, it has a balanced and beautiful fragrance and taste, backed by hints of spice, vanilla, lemon, and floral notes, it makes a swell partner with tonic. As I had a bottle at hand (and as it’s one of the best of the bottled varieties), I’m going with Fever Tree tonic. I am sadly out – I need to go to the store! – of my local WA tonic syrups cause they would be great, too.

Brovo Pretty Blanc vermouth and tonic

Brovo Pretty Vermouth and Tonic

Ice cubes

1-1/2 ounces Brovo Pretty Blanc Vermouth

3-1/2 ounces Fever Tree tonic

Lemon slice, for garnish

1. Fill a highball or comparable glass three-quarters up with ice. Add the vermouth. Then the tonic. Still briefly.

2. Garnish with the lemon slice. Oh, and add more tonic as/if desired.

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