May 22, 2015

What I’m Drinking: Iollas’ Itch

If you aren’t up on your ancient Greek history (shame on you – or, on us, as my memory keeps getting worse, too, making my ancient Greek, not to mention last week, a little hazy at times), Iollas was the son of a Macedonian general, and a royal youth at the court of Alexander the Great. Heavy. The story goes, when Mr. Great (as he was called) was murdered, many wanted to ascribe it to poisoning, and writers (as they’ll do) laid that serious poisoner-of-Alexander tag on Iollas, who carried the royal sipping cup during the emperor’s last sickness. How does that all tie into this drink, which isn’t poison at all, but a nectar of deliciousness? Well, for one, it utilizes mint, which was a favorite of the Greeks (still is, I suppose), and used to help folks transition into the afterlife. So, that’s a tie in. But also, I tend to think (as many do, nowadays) that Iollas wasn’t actually a poisoner, just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Which means he deserves a strong drink in his honor, and this beauty is that drink.


Iollas’ Itch, from Dark Spirits

3 fresh mint leaves, plus 1 fresh mint sprig for garnish
Ice cubes
2 ounces rye
3/4 ounce sweet vermouth
3/4 ounce apricot liqueur

1. Rub (carefully but firmly) the 3 mint leaves all around the inside of a cocktail glass. Then discard them.

2. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the rye, apricot liqueur, and vermouth. Shake well.

3. Strain into the minty glass from above. Garnish with the mint sprig.

May 15, 2015

What I’m Drinking: The Americano

Friends, the weather is heating up. The ol’ Mercury is rising. The sunshine is taking over its annual spot as the meteorological top dog. The sweat is starting to tickle you just behind the ear (well, maybe it’s not that steamy yet, but you get the idea). And when that starts happening, I know one thing for sure. It’s Americano time!

Since 1860, when Gaspare Campari served it at his bar, calling it the Milano-Torino in honor of Campari (his bitter red liqueur from Milan) and Cinzano vermouth (from Turin), this has been a hot-weather hit. The name was changed thanks to the large number of visiting Americans (especially soldiers, at the time) who fell in the love with the drink. Being an American that visits Italy yearly, I love that story – as well as the drink.

The Americano (using the recipe from Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz)

Ice cubes
2 ounces Campari
2 ounces sweet vermouth
Chilled club soda
Orange slice, for garnish

1. Fill a highball glass three-quarters full with ice cubes. Add the Campari and vermouth. Stir gently.

2. Add club soda to the glass until the glass is almost full. Garnish with an orange slice.

May 12, 2015

Seattle Magazine Bar-Hopping: Ändra, Barrel Thief, Brunswick & Hunt, Oliver’s Twist, Prime 809

Hello bar lovers! It’s that time again, when I round up my recent Seattle magazine Bar Hop columns, and array them in easily clickable format, making it easy for you to find out where you want to go this weekend! I take the first drinks, so you don’t have to.

•    Oliver’s Twist (Magnolia version)

•    The Barrel Thief

•    Brunswick & Hunt

•    Prime 809

•    Ändra

*See all Seattle magazine pieces by me

May 8, 2015

What I’m Drinking: The Lord Suffolk

Recently, as I do, I decided I wanted a new cocktail – and often for me that actually means an old cocktail, an unburied treasure in a glass that I haven’t yet had. This time, the first older book at hand was Patrick Gavin Duffy’s Official Mixer’s Manual (1940 edition), and as I browsed through this worthy tome of libations, I came across The Lord Suffolk. With a name so regal, I figured the drink must be regally awesome (oh, an aside – I haven’t yet had time to browse the library and see where this drink first came from. Sue me). And I figured right!

However, it’s a drink with a sizable wallop of gin, which then mingles with much smaller amounts of maraschino, sweet vermouth, and Cointreau. Because of that, I knew it needed a gin with a fair amount of personality, one that brings layers of flavor to the table. I went with the newish (to me, at least), and award-winning Monkey 47 Schwarzwald Dry Gin, and darn if it wasn’t perfect, thanks to the smooth juniper flavor, sure, but even more the accompanying notes: citrus, spice, pepper, and an intriguing stitch of botanical and berries. It’s tasty stuff, and named after a monkey. That says it all.

And here in this cocktail, with just enough nutty maraschino, sweet and orange-y Cointreau, herbal vermouth, and lovely lemon oil coming along for the ride, the gin is allowed to blossom and not get lost. This is a helluva drink folks. And hopefully, somewhere, Mr. Duffy is smiling that it’s in a small way back in circulation.


The Lord Suffolk

Cracked ice
2-1/2 ounces Monkey 47 Schwarzwald gin
1/2 ounce Luxardo maraschino
1/2 ounce Cocchi Torino sweet vermouth
1/2 ounce Cointreau
Lemon twist, for garnish

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with cracked ice. Add everything but the twist. Stir well.

2. Strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with the twist. Give a toast to the past, and then the future.

May 5, 2015

Cocktail Talk: The Glass Key

glass-keyI feel sorta weird right now – I swear I’ve put up a Cocktail Talk post from Dashiell Hammett’s The Glass Key before. I swear! But I certainly can’t find evidence of such. Drinking does take its toll! But even if there is some rogue post, it doesn’t matter, cause I recently re-read the book, and found even more swell quotes. If you don’t know (I’m taking it for granted you at least know Hammett a bit, cause who doesn’t) The Glass Key, it’s one amazing little book, packed with politics, punches, and pulchritude. The inspiration (even if not called out directly) for the Coen Bros. movie Miller’s Crossing, it has swagger, smarts, and sass. The dialogue is crisp, the machinations are mapped minutely, and the drinks flow. As evidenced in the below.

A waiter came. Ned Beaumont said: “Rye.” Jack said: “Rickey.”

Jack opened a pack of cigarettes, took one out, and, staring at it, said: “It’s your game and I’m working for you, but this isn’t a hell of a good spot to go up against him it he’s got friends here.”

“Has he?”

Jack put the cigarette in a corner of his mouth so it moved batonwise with his words.

–Dashiell Hammet, The Glass Key

May 1, 2015

What I’m Drinking: The Manhattan

Well, sometimes there’s nothing that needs to be said. The Manhattan. Damn right.


The Manhattan

Ice cubes
2-1/2 ounces bourbon (I used Woodinville Whiskey Bourbon. It’s great.)
1/2 ounce Punt e’ Mes sweet vermouth
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Maraschino cherry, for garnish

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the bourbon, sweet vermouth, and Angostura bitters. Pause a moment, in honor of all the Manhattans drunk before yours. Then stir well.

2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry.

A Note: I suggest Angostura bitters with a Manhattan, but if you’d like to experiment with Peychaud’s or an orange bitters, I surely wouldn’t caution against it. Though really, I wonder if that would then need a name change?

A Second Note: I used bourbon here, cause I was feeling it today. I know many of you like a rye Manhattan, and I do myself, too. I would probably switch the vermouth in that case.

A Third Note: Here’s a bar challenge to throw out when ordering Manhattans. Who know in what year the now-lost film “Manhattan Cocktail” was released? I believe only a 1-minute sequence from the film survives today, so this can be a bit of a doozy.

April 28, 2015

Cocktail Talk: A Slight Mistake in Corpses

we-are-the-deadNot too long ago, I posted a few Cocktail Talks from the Day Keene story collection, The League of the Grateful Dead. Cause Day Keene is awesome (go see all the Day Keene Cocktail Talk posts to see what I’m talking about). And now, I’ve got my gin-stained hands on the second Day Keene pulps story collection, We Are the Dead, and it is also the tops (and, between us, also needed a good copy editor. But don’t get stuck on the small stuff). There are many worthy novella-length stories in the collection, but our quote today is from A Slight Mistake in Corpses.

“He’s in the chair,” McNeary said grimly. “We caught him, as the colored maid at his hotel informed me, in ‘fragrent delicto.’ The dead blond was in his bed, the boodle was on his dresser, and Little Boy Blue had a hangover that was a yard wide and all rye.”

–Day Keene, A Slight Mistake in Corpses

April 24, 2015

What I’m Drinking: How Does Your Garden Grow

Sometimes, I even surprise myself when making drinks. This is one of those times! When I started messing around with the three ingredients in this drink, I was all, “there is no way these will come together,” and then, “yowza!” they worked better together than Sonny and Cher. During their good period. It started with Sidetrack Distillery’s new Shiso liqueur, which is made from the Asian herb it’s named after, and which is a singular, herby, botanical elixir that must be tasted to be believed, and which has a brilliant color to match its taste. I figured (rightly, as it turned out) that it would go well with gin, but I needed a gin that had a solid juniper taste, but also a little citrus, and some botanicals as well – and Copperworks gin is just like that (and it’s local to WA, much like the Shiso, so that was nice). But the third ingredient is a wild card – the Italian orange-y and a wee bitter-y aperitif, Aperol. I just worried the cocktail would get muddled with all those flavors, but dang, instead they all just shared the spotlight in a way that let the flavors shine. This is swell spring drink, and if you can track down these three, give it a whirl.


How Does Your Garden Grow

Cracked ice
2 ounces Copperworks gin
1 ounce Sidetrack Distillery Shiso liqueur
1 ounce Aperol
Orange twist, for garnish

1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add everything but the twist. Stir well.

2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with the orange twist.

Rathbun on Film 17, 2015
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