March 6, 2015
It’s one of my favorite weather times of year here in Seattle – early spring, late winter, whatever you want to call it, the hallmarks are a temperature that hovers in the mid-50s, and a sunshine that breaks through for days in a row (though don’t tell anyone, as we like to keep people thinking it’s raining all the time in Seattle). So, chilly and sunny. It’s a beautiful time. Especially on Sundays, when you don’t have much pressing, the whole weather-mosphere in the afternoon is amazing. And it’s ideal Rusty Nail weather. The somewhat misunderstood Rusty Nail gets shafted these days, but its combination of umph and a hint of honey-loveliness goes so well with these types of days. What makes it even better is using Syndicate 58/6 Scotch. A blend of 18 single malt whiskies and 4 single grain whiskies and aged 2 to 4 years in Oloroso sherry casks, this is one tasty Scotch. With citrus and other tropical fruits, ginger, and spice on the nose, and then marmalade, apple, fig, and caramel on the tongue. I supposed many would say it’s a Scotch to savor solo (and they wouldn’t be wrong), but if you’re up for it, mixing this top Scotch into a Rusty Nail will take you to another level, and make your early spring, late winter Sunday afternoon something really memorable. Trust me.
The Rusty Nail
2 ounces Syndicate 58/6 Scotch
1 ounce Drambuie
1. Place ice cubes in an Old Fashioned glass until they reach the halfway point. Let the Scotch and then the Drambuie cascade into the glass.
2. Stir, but not tackily.
March 3, 2015
I’ve had three different Charles Williams Cocktail Talk posts, and you should go read them all. All of them! Both cause you’ll be able to learn a little more about this master of thriller/pulp/mystery writing, and cause then I don’t have to go through it all again. You don’t want me to be repetitive, right? Anywho, I have a fair amount of Charles Williams’ books, enough that I’m always worried I won’t be able to find more – but then super happy when I do, as I recently when I picked up The Wrong Venus. It’s a rollicking read, which starts on a high note and never really lets up until the last page. What does that mean? If you like books that move fast, this one’s for you. And it also has a great scene with both Cointreau and crème de menthe. Really!
‘Do you have any Cointreau?’
‘Cointreau?’ It was obvious she thought he was crazy.
‘You do sell liquor on these flights, don’t you?’
‘Yes, of course . . . But with this turbulence, naturally we couldn’t bring the cart through. And we don’t have any Cointreau anyway.’
‘Then crème de menthe?’
‘Y-e-e-s, I think so. But I’m afraid only the white . . .’
He was conscious again of time hurtling past him, but managed a reassuring smile. ‘It’s all right. I only drink in the dark.’
–Charles Williams, The Wrong Venus
February 27, 2015
I’m heading out to Italy again for a little vacation, and as usual when I start thinking every hour of every day about Italy (as opposed to just every day), I start thinking about when we lived in Italy, and the drinks I made and had when there. Yeah, I know, it’s a hard-a-knock life. To make up for all my musing about it, try the below drink. It’s freaky-delicious. If you can’t go on an Italian vacation this second, this’ll at least help cure a teeny bit of the ache.
1-1/2 ounces Aperol
1 ounce freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 ounce Strega
1 dash Bitter Truth orange bitters
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the Aperol, orange juice, Strega, and bitters. Shake well.
2. Strain through a fine strainer into a cocktails glass, or a pretty wine glass if that’s what’s handy.
February 24, 2015
Okay, after serious consideration (and sitting down with a drink to think about it), I decided that one Day Keene Cocktail Talk from the story collection The League of the Grateful Dead was not enough. Not at all. So, here’s a second, and one of the few quotes I’ve seen about a portable bar. I certainly wouldn’t you to miss that, that’s for sure.
LaFanti told him to shut up. A gun punk whom he called Gordon opened a portable bar and began to slop whiskey into highball glasses. LaFanti asked if I wanted a drink. I admitted that I could use one. There had been plenty of wine where I’d come from, but Old Grandad had been rare.
–Day Keene, Dance with the Death-House Doll
February 20, 2015
This border-busting concoction combines a couple of ingredients that are from fairly different points on the compass: tequila (that’s the southern one), and Washington State’s own Skip Rock Distillery’s Spiced Apple liqueur. The former I’m guessing you know about, but the latter uses local Jonagold apples, and a little bit of sweet and spice, in a dandy manner – meaning, it’s a liqueur that lets the flavor shine through, one that makes a great pairing with tequila and other things. However, when making this cocktail with those two ingredients, I realized that the whole Mason/Dixon quandary was keeping it from fully delivering the awesome, and that I needed one or two last mediators to really make things hum. After some hemming and hawing (and by that I mean, testing and testing), two unexpected other ingredients fell into place: Lillet and Scrappy’s orange bitters. The end result is . . . well, try it and see (okay, a hint: it’s darn tasty).
Up North, Down South
2 ounces tequila blanco
3/4 Skip Rock Spiced Apple liqueur
1/4 ounce Lillet
Dash Scrappy’s orange bitters
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add everything Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass.
February 17, 2015
I’ve had four different Day Keene Cocktail Talk posts – that’s nowhere near enough! C’mon me. Seriously. My appreciation, no, obsession with Mr. Keene and his pulptasticness is certainly not going down to a simmer any time soon. This is why it’s so swell that Ramble House is putting out all of Mr. Keene’s stories and novellas from the Detective Pulps in the ‘40s in book collections. And there are a lot of stories, so more Day Keene for us! Though I do wish Ramble would hire a decent copyeditor. But hey, at least the stories are becoming available again. Anyway, this particular quote is from the first volume, League of the Grateful Dead and Other Stories (and yeah, that’s where the band got its name), from a story with a memorable name: Crawl Out of that Coffin!
‘The D’Andrea’s don’t live to be twenty-one,’ he told me.
While I was considering that, he motioned our waiter to the table and told him to bring whatever we were drinking and a Rum Collins for himself.
The waiter looked at the passed-out girl.
‘No. Nothing for her,’ Pierce said straight-faced. ‘Miss D’Andrea is driving.’
–Day Keene, Crawl Out of that Coffin!
February 13, 2015
I believe that Valentine’s Day is tomorrow – be still my beating heart. If you’ve been planning a host of heart-y things for your sweetness tomorrow, then you are in fine shape. Unless you forgot to plan out the right drink for the evening. What’s that you say? You don’t have a special drink for that special somehow. Hope you like the couch. Though, since I have a warm feeling towards you (you are pretty neat), howsabout I help you out. Serve up the below, which is a tasty mix shading just a wee bit sweet, and watch the evening commence in the proper manner. Oh, you might want to whisper that Ti Penso Sempre means, “I think of you always.” That should help your cause as well.
Ti Penso Sempre, from Dark Spirits, Serves 2 naturally
3 ounce brandy
2 ounces Aperol
1 ounce simple syrup
2 orange slices, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the brandy, Aperol, and simple syrup. Shake well.
2. Strain the mix equally into 2 cocktail glasses. Garnish each with an orange slice. Let the romancing commence.
February 10, 2015
Hello party people! It’s that time again, where you are reminded by me of recent pieces I’ve had in or on the wonderful Seattle magazine. There’s a wide range of imbibing reads I’ve been lucky enough to work on, so dive right in to the bottles below and drink up:
• 12 Hangover Cures From Seattle’s Top Bartenders
• Washington’s Award-Winning Coffee Liqueurs Wake Up the New Year
• 3 Effervescent New Year’s Eve Drinks
• 2 Recipes for Moonshine Cocktails
*See all my pieces on Seattle magazine