October 13, 2015

Cocktail Talk: The Big Heat

big-heatThe most famous novel by William P. McGivern (I think at least), and a book made into a sweet 1953 noir movie gem with all kinds of hardasses, The Big Heat is a classic revenge-and-corruption novel set in Philly and featuring a seriously tough cop-then-not-cop. It’s a good one. Good enough that I recently read it twice, and came across a nice roll of paragraphs that feature both Cognac and a swell Scotch line.

“I’m having a poker game tonight,” Stone told him, smoothing down his thinning hair. “We got plenty to drink?”
“Yes, there’s plenty.”
“Well, see there’s French Cognac. Judge McGraw is coming and he won’t drinks nothing else. You got money?”
Alex said no, smiling nervously.

“What’ll it be?” Larry said.
“Scotch and plain water. Make it a double. I guess I need a lift.”

–William P. McGivern, The Big Heat

October 9, 2015

What I’m Drinking: Fires at Dawn

I’m not afraid (of anything except spiders, robot gorillas, driving tests, the dread Dormammu, and old lemons). That means, I’ll try to make cocktails with all kinds of ingredients. Recently, I was lucky enough to get some fermented probionic “tonics” from Seattle’s Firefly Kitchens. And I made a delicious cocktail using one!

If you don’t know, Firefly Kitchens makes raw and naturally-preserved fermented foods, which are freakishly healthy due to the good bacteria proliferating during fermentation, producing lactic acid, keeping the goods naturally fresh, keeping out bad bacteria, creating enzymes and more good bacteria or probiotics. What’s that really mean? The Firefly kimchis, krauts, and more are good for you. Really good! And now, they’re also producing Probionic Tonics, made during the fermentation process (they also have a book, Fresh & Fermented, you should get so you can learn more).

The tonics are where I came in – specifically in this case the Emerald City Kraut tonic. Zesty! Brine-y! Organic! This tonic is great as a daily shot, dressing, marinade, all things you’d expect. At first, it might (between us) seem too powerful and personality-filled to play well in cocktails. But after a fair amount (between us, again) of testing, I found a mix of ingredients that’s not only full of flavor, but I’m thinking healthier than you could imagine. The key was realizing the tang would go good with lemon, and perhaps better with juniper than other, more obvious spices. Well, that and deciding to go all local! Local things seem to play better together.

You might have to work at it, but track yourself down some Emerald City Kraut tonic, some Kur gin, and some Letterpress limoncello. And start your day right*!

Fires at Dawn

Cracked Ice
1-1/2 ounces Kur gin
1 ounce Letterpress limoncello
1/2 ounce Firefly Kitchens Emerald City Kraut tonic
Lemon twist, for garnish

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

2. Strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with the twist.

*Not only good in the morning! Also in the evening. And midday. And before bed.

October 6, 2015

Cocktail Talk: Casino Royale

casino-royale Well, if you don’t know Casino Royale from the movies or books, where have you been hiding? It’s the first James Bond-ing, for super-spy sake! Here’s a secret between us, though. I actually hadn’t read the book, until a few weeks back, when I was traveling in the UK. It was the perfect time, and you know what – the book holds up. Both as a thriller, but also as a character study. Everything gets over-done and distilled somewhat over time, but if you like a good quick read and aren’t opposed to spies and such, and haven’t read it, give it a whirl. It’s better than the movie! And, while the Vesper quote is duly famous, it has other memorable drinking scenes and drinks, too. Check the below, for an example:

The room was sumptuous with those over-masculine trappings which, together with briar pipes and wire-haired terriers, spell luxury in France. Everything was brass-studded leather and polished mahogany. The curtains and carpets were in royal blue. The waiters wore striped waistcoats and green baize aprons. Bond ordered an Americano and examined the sprinkling of over-dressed customers, mostly from Paris he guessed, who sat talking with focus and vivacity, creating that theatrically clubbable atmosphere of ‘l’heure de l’apéritif’.

The men were drinking inexhaustible quarter-bottles of Champagne, the women dry Martinis.

— Ian Fleming, Casino Royale

PS: That “Americano” would be the drink, if you’re wondering, not the coffee, which is a more recent way of moniker-ing that style of java.

October 2, 2015

What I’m Drinking: Welcome Back, Weary Traveler

A couple years back as many know, my wife and I loaded up the dogs and we moved to Italy. It was great (of course), and if you want to know more, go to my Italy blog and start at the beginning. But when moving back, I needed a drink to take the sadness down a little, a drink that brought me back while reminding me of the Italian hours. Don’t get me wrong, I was happy to see the Seattle pals and sights and bars I also love. But hey, sometimes coming back is hard, and you need the right drink to accompany it. And this is that drink! Why am I having it again today? Well, October 2nd was the very day we flew out to start our adventure, those years ago.


Welcome Back, Weary Traveler

2-1/2 ounces bourbon (I used the new Woodinville Whiskey Co. Straight bourbon)
1/2 ounce Luxardo Maraschino
1/4 ounce Fernet Branca
Orange twist, for garnish (I like a wider orange twist here)

1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ie.

2. Add the bourbon, maraschino, and Fernet Branca. Stir well.

3. Strain into a cocktail glass. Twist the twist and drink as happily as you can manage.

September 25, 2015

What I’m Drinking: The Morning Call

I am very sorry, dear readers, for what’s to come in the next few sentences. The kids these days call it “venting,” and I shouldn’t do it here, but we’re all in this together, and trust me, the payoff is good. So, tally ho! To all those who feel that they need to have early morning work meetings where they can be totally self-centered, churlish, idiotic, preening, demanding, aggressive, annoying, smelly, rude, obnoxious, piggish, full of sophomoric one-up-manship, self-absorbed, beastly, un-jovial, un-jolly, un-jiggy-with-it, grabby, grandstanding, stinky, vainglorious, un-fun, stoopid and stupid, pompous, jealous, vindictive, douche-y, territorial at a level way beyond petty, pushy, primpy, powermad, and just plain fatheaded, to all y’all that fit that – please, just let me know far, far, in advance when you’re scheduling your morning meetings, so I can make a Morning Call, or two, and thereby just ignore your sorry ass.

The Morning Call, from Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz

Cracked ice
1-1/2 ounces absinthe
3/4 ounce maraschino liqueur
3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice

1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add the absinthe, maraschino, and lemon juice. Stir well, and hang up the phone.

2. Strain into a cocktail glass.

PS: Sorry about the rant. But the drink is worth it, one hopes.

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September 22, 2015

Warm Up With Washington State Rums

I know, it’s September. That doesn’t mean it’s cold yet. But, but, but, I can feel the cold in the mornings when I walk the best dogs in the world around one of the best blocks in the world, feel that cold behind my ears, people! Which means I want to warm up a bit, and one of the good ways is with some rums from Washington State! Don’t believe me? Read this rummy piece I wrote for the sweet Seattle magazine, called 6 Washington Rums that Bring the Beach to You. Really, you should drink some rum while reading. Though you haven’t read it yet, so you may not know which rums to drink? Hmm, this is a conundrum. I may have to have more rum to think it over.

September 18, 2015

What I’m Drinking: A Classic Martini

The other day, some whippersnapper said something like “but you’d don’t like Martinis, do you?” If I wasn’t a gentleman of the old school, I would have shown them the back of my hand, all close up like. I may not have Martinis that often, but of course I love them (when made right and all that)! Martinis are lovable. Since I don’t have them super regularly though, I try to make my Martini-ing a memorable affair. When at home, that means I use a gin that’s really going to bring some personality. Today, that’s Monkey 47 Schwarzwald Dry Gin, which is bursting with a host of flavors: juniper, spice, botanical, berry, monkey. You can read more about it in this post on The Lord Suffolk (a worthy drink). But let it be said that when connected amiably with Dolin dry vermouth and a lemon (I’m a lemon guy, like all right-thinking people), that’s a memorable Martini, friends. And I loved it. You should try the same, and if any silly person has the temerity afterwards to intimate that you don’t like Martinis, punch ‘em in the snoot.

The Martini

Cracked ice
2-1/2 ounces Monkey 47 Schwarzwald Dry Gin
1/2 ounce Dolin dry vermouth
Lemon twist, for garnish

1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add the gin and vermouth. Stir well.

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

September 15, 2015

Cocktail Talk: Strong Poison

strong-poisonRecently, as anyone on the street would be happy to tell you (though, perhaps, talking to people on the street isn’t your cuppa, and for that matter, maybe not always a good idea, you know), I’ve had a fair amount of Cocktail Talk posts featuring Lord Peter Wimsey, Dorothy Sayers’s nearly-a-duke detective. Because of that, I’m not going to say any more about him, or her, cause you could just click that link in the last sentence, go read the past posts, and only lose say, .5 calories in the clicking. Whereas if I went into it all again, I’d wear my fingers to the bone. To the bone, I tell you.

Wait, where was I? Oh, right, Strong Poison, where Lord Peter falls in love with a woman (an author, which is what did it – everyone loves authors) who’s been convicted of murder. And he of course has to get her off the dock and into freedom so they can enter the world of bliss known as matrimony. Sweet stuff, outside of the poison. Best of all, there’s a scene with Martell brandy, which I’ll detail in the below quote:

Well, then I see he wasn’t drunk, so I mixed him a double Martell with just a splash of soda and he gulps it down, and says, ‘That’s better.’ And the other gentleman puts his arm round him and helps him to a seat. There was a good many other people in the bar, but they didn’t notice much, being full of the racing news.

–Dorothy Sayers, Strong Poison

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