June 26, 2015
Summer is now fully upon us – time to drink bubbly things. But, but, but, I feel like Scotch, and most people don’t think about Scotch and bubbly drinks together (except the Scotch and soda, which is indeed sometimes lovely in its simplicity). Which is a shame, when drinks like the Tartan Swizzle, a bubbly Scotch-y treat, are around! Don’t get stuck in your ruts, pals, especially in summer because those ruts can get sweaty, and sweaty ruts are the worst. The worst. Anywho, I picked up this recipe from my old pal Jeremy Holt, a fine man and a fine drinker. He’s introduced me to loads of swell drinks over the years, and this is certainly on the list, and also certainly a swell summer sipper. Try it, and test me out!
The Tartan Swizzle, using the recipe from Dark Spirits
2 ounces Scotch (Jeremy suggests something like Dewar’s, J&B, Cutty Sark)
1-1/2 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice
3/4 ounce simple syrup
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Chilled club soda
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the Scotch, lime juice, simple syrup, and bitters. Shake well.
2. Fill a Collins glass or the like three-quarters full with crushed ice. Stir the ice briefly to chill the glass, then strain the mixture from the shaker over the ice.
3. Fill the glass almost to the top with club soda. Stir a bit, to get a little frothiness.
June 23, 2015
Hah! I told you there’d be three Cocktail Talk posts from Dashiell Hammett’s hard-hard-boiled book Red Harvest, and now we’re up to the third (and really, I could do more!). If you’ve missed Red Harvest Part I or Part II, then go catch up if you know what’s good for you. But don’t miss this one! Where a few of the key characters in the book sip on Martinis – in the way they probably did at the time the book takes place, meaning they have some orange bitters in the mix. Which is delicious!
When I came back she was mixing gin, vermouth and orange bitters in a quart shaker, not leaving a lot of space for them to move around in.
“Did you see anything?” she asked.
I sneered at her in a friendly way. We carried the cocktails into the dining room and played bottoms-up while the meal cooked. The drinks cheered her a lot. By the time we say down to the food she had almost forgotten her fright. She wasn’t a very good cook, but we ate as if she were.
We put a couple of gin-gingerales in on top of the dinner.
–Red Harvest, Dashiell Hammett
June 19, 2015
I found this Scottish affair in an excellent little bound book called A Guide to Pink Elephants, Volume II (Richards Rosen Associates, 1957). It’s fairly close to a few drinks that are perhaps more famous – the Rob Roy of course, which has Angostura bitters instead of orange bitters, and a slightly different vermouth to Scotch ratio. As well as the Bobby Burns, though a little farther afield in cousinhood. But the taste here, because of those differences, is slightly sweeter and with a different bitter-and-herbal-y hint. It may seem an odd one during June, but, hey, I’m an odd one! I like a strong drink in summer sometimes, as well as the bubbly refreshing ones. Also, having a drink I found in a book with pink elephants in the title is never bad. Never.
The Highland Fling
2 ounces Scotch
1 ounces sweet vermouth
2 dashes orange bitters
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with cracked ice. Add the Scotch, sweet vermouth, and bitters. Stir well.
2. Strain the mix into a cocktail glass.
June 16, 2015
Dashiell Hammett’s Red Harvest is a pummeling of a book, where the fists, bullets, and drinks are flying (read more in the Red Harvest Part I Cocktail Talk post). Because of this, I sure couldn’t have just one post – so here’s the second (and I think they’ll be one more)! This one’s one of my favorite quotes of the moment, and maybe one of the really swell lesser-quoted quotes about being tipsy. Or at least part of it is – see what you think, and if you can guess what part!
“All right, Mr. Knowitall,” she said, “I’m going to play with you. You can think it’s not going to cost you anything, but I’ll get mine before we’re through. You think I won’t?” she challenged me, peering at me as if I were a block away.
This was no time to revive the money argument, so I said: “I hope you do.” I think I said it three or four times, quite earnestly.
“I will. Now listen to me. You’re drunk, and I’m drunk, and I’m just exactly drunk enough to tell you anything you want to know. That’s the kind of girl I am. If I like a person I’ll tell them anything they want to know. Just ask me. Go ahead, ask me.”
–Dashiell Hammett, Red Harvest
June 12, 2015
During the summer months (and really, even though we’re not officially in summer, let’s call it summer, okay? June feels like summer to me. Go with it), it’s tempting to have a drink called The Snowball – right? Right. But, there are so many! There’s the one with advocaat (the liqueur made from egg, sugar, and brandy) and sparkling lemonade. There’s another with brandy, simple syrup, an egg, and ginger ale. Both have their moments. But today, this particular day, I’m going with the below, which is wonderful on an early summer’s night, and of which famed drink explorer Harry Craddock said, around 1930, “This is women’s work.” Hah, I’ll show you Harry.
The Snowball, with the recipe from Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz
2 ounces gin
1/2 ounce crème de violette
1/2 ounce white crème de menthe
1/2 ounce anisette
1/2 ounce heavy cream
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the gin, crème de violette, crème de menthe, anisette, and cream to a cocktail shaker. Shake well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass.
June 9, 2015
I recently did some Cocktail Talk posts featuring the quotes from the Dashiell Hammett book, The Glass Key, a fine read of politicking, rough-housing, drinking, and plot twists. It’s one of my favs! I also recently re-read the Dashiell Hammett book Red Harvest, and while I don’t love it as well as The Glass Key, it’s still a fun read – a little more of a punch in the face then a tightly plotted yarn (though it does have its share of twists and turns), with a high, high body count, and a whole city boiling over with the rat-a-tat-tat of the tommy gun as The Continental Op (Hammett’s cowboy with no name, in a way) tries to clean up Poisonville (or at least that’s what the residents call it). As you might expect, there’s a fair amount of boozing that goes on, and that’s where we come in! Starting with the below:
Robert Albury, the young assistant cashier of the First National Bank, was sitting in the lobby when I returned to the Great Western Hotel. We went up to my room, had some ice-water brought, used its ice to put chill in Scotch, lemon juice, and grenadine, and then went down to the dining room.
–Dashiell Hammett, Red Harvest
June 5, 2015
It was just 3 days and 133 years ago when Giuseppe Garibaldi passed away, after being one of the most formative figures in Italian history, as the general who was largely responsible for unifying one of my two favorite countries. His army, if you didn’t know, was often referred to as the “red shirt” army, thanks to reasons you can guess from the name! And, if all that wasn’t enough, he has a dandy drink named after him, The Garibaldi, which you should be drinking this week in his honor — and also because it’s a citrus-y, tangy number, with a slightly beautiful bitter hint, thanks to Campari (another fine Italian figure).
2 ounces Campari
5 ounces freshly squeezed orange juice
1. Fill a highball glass three quarters full with ice cubes. Add the Campari and the orange juice.
2. Stir well.
June 2, 2015
I recently received the Uncommon Goods’ Molecular Mixology Cocktail Kit in the mail – without even ordering it! I know, I’m lucky (and trying not to be smarmy about, too). It’s an interesting combo kit in a way, with three boxes covering fun ways to science-up three classic drinks, the Margarita, Mojito, and Cosmopolitan.
Each box contains recipes for three different molecular mixology takes on the drinks, including making “caviar” bubbles, tasty foam, and what I’d call liquid “spheres,” as well as the food additives and some of the tools needed to make the drinks. It’s like a little chemistry kit that just needs booze (and sometimes some mixers and stuff) to take your drinking into another realm, a sorta futuristic feeling place that’s still awfully jolly (oh, I suggest when you get your molecular mixology on, you do it with friends. It’s even more jolly. Of course this is pretty much true with all drinking)!
Oh, wait, before I get in to my experimenting with the kit, I suppose a little about UncommonGoods might be, well, good. Heck, instead of me trying to talk it out, let me tell you what they say:
UncommonGoods is a retailer that endeavors to feature unique designs and handcrafted gifts created in harmony with the environment and without harm to animals or people. We make it our mission to support and provide a platform for artists and designers; in fact, half of what we sell is made by hand. Most of the products we carry are created right here in the USA, and about one-third of our entire collection incorporates recycled and/or upcycled materials.
And now you know! And now we can get to the drinks. I took on (with the help of wife Nat) the Margarita sphereification first (and, I’ll admit, it’s the only one so far, though I look forward to more), cause in some past molecular drinking, I always love the sphere-ing. Really!
The kits come with nice little recipes books. I’m not gonna walk through every step, cause that’d get long. But will give the highlights. You mix a little calcium lactate with some water, orange liqueur, and mango, freeze it into spheres (in the handy sphere freezing tray), mix some water and sodium alginate, drop the frozen spheres in it, then rinse them with water, and top them with tequila, coconut milk, and lime. Boom!
The instructions were by-and-large pretty good (it would have been nice to have a general idea how long the spheres will take to freeze, as the instructions just flow as if that doesn’t take time – but that’s pretty easy to figure out). I wasn’t a huge fan of the tequila-and-coconut milk combo as it was, honestly. But I loved making more of an actual “deconstructed” Margarita (as they call it in the book), just with tequila, lime, and the orange liqueur (I used Gran Gala) mango spheres:
I love, love, love slurping the tequila and lime and sphere, and then breaking the spheres open in my mouth (hah, that sounds bad – but tastes so, so good). The whole process creates this little skin around the orange liqueur/mango liquid combo, and when you bite down, all that flavor is a blast. A blast! Very swell stuff.
I can’t wait to try more, both the other recipes for the Marg and the other two cocktails, but also playing around with my own recipes using some of the science-y stuff that came along. Neato!