June 24, 2016
Sometimes, one gets cravings (I’m no fortune teller, but I’m seeing that in everyone’s future, they’ll get cravings, too), of all sorts, I suppose. Example A: the other day, I had a swell drink made with maraschino (the most misunderstood of all liqueurs, historically, or at least the last, let’s say, 40 years of history, because too many think it’s sickly like those sick twisted things that pass as maraschino cherries in mass market grocery stores, when it’s not, at all, instead being dry and a hint nutty, being made from the pits of the marasca cherries and all), and that swell drink made me crave more maraschino drinks. And so I went for the Sweet Pie, a cuddly classic-y number, where the always tasty and reliable Luxardo Maraschino shines alongside gin and sweet vermouth, and a smidge of simple syrup comes along for the ride to round the edges in a cuddly – as mentioned – manner. Dreamy deliciousness.
Sweetie Pie, from Good Spirits
1 1/2 ounces gin
3/4 ounce sweet vermouth
3/4 ounce Luxardo Maraschino liqueur
1/2 ounce simple syrup
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the gin, sweet vermouth, maraschino liqueur, and simple syrup. Shake well.
2. Add the cherry to a cocktail glass or pretty cordial. Strain the mix into the glass.
PS: Sometimes this is garnished with a Maraschino cherry. But sometimes I want to skip the fruit. You go as you go.
June 17, 2016
This tequila champion takes its name from a quote from General Ignacio Zaragoza, who commanded the forces at the battle of Puebla (where he, in a massive upset, won the day, and that winning is what is celebrated on Cinco de Mayo, but just because that’s a fact, it doesn’t mean that you should only have this drink then. No, no, no! This drink is good anytime. Know that, and you can skip the whole upset thing, and just be happy). It uses the swell Corralejo Tequila Reposado as its base, a tequila crafted out of 100% blue agave, and then said tequila is aged in American oak for at least three months. The end result is a smooth agave-spice-caramel flavor that mingles dreamily with sweet vermouth, orange bitters, and a hint of citrus in this very drink.
The National Arms
1-1/2 ounces Corralejo Tequila Reposado
1 ounce sweet vermouth
1/4 ounce lemon juice
2 dashes orange bitters
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the tequila, vermouth, juice, and bitters. Shake well.
2. Strain through a fine strainer into a cocktail glass. Garnish with the lemon twist.
June 14, 2016
It’s sorta weird, sorta not, that I haven’t had a Cocktail Talk
post before (at least that I or various search engines can remember) from a William Trevor story or book. I mean, he’s awesome, and I’ve read a serious amount of words that originally came from his typewriter, especially on the story side, though admittedly a number of his novels, too, and watched movies made from them as well. Okay, maybe it’s really weird! But his characters don’t tend to be cocktail-ing it up, or maybe I’m too involved in the stories to fold over the page corners as I usually do to remind myself of quotes that might work. However! I was recently re-reading his story collect Cheating At Canasta
, in which you’ll find the story “Old Flame,” and found the below gem (I wish La Mabury was in my office – I’d be nicer), which felt the ideal way to finally bring the Trevor Cocktail Talking to life.
The day Charles appeared – the first time they laid eyes on him – he was being led around by the snooty, half-drunk Miss Maybury, both of them with glasses of vin rosé, which was what La Maybury – her office title – drank every afternoon, sometimes in the mornings also.
–William Trevor, Old Flame
June 10, 2016
As any truly worthy encyclopedia tells us, poets love gin. I mean, poets (most poets) love drinking most anything. Trust me, I’ve known my fair (or unfair) share of them. But gin is up there with things they love. Which is why having a Poet’s Dream on World Gin Day, which is tomorrow, makes lyrical sense, both for those of you that are poets (like Ed Skoog), and those who like a little poetry now-and-again, and those who really just want a good gin drink to celebrate the day. I’m having mine today, along with one tomorrow, because I’m on the ball. Or because I just can’t wait!
Oh, this liquid quatrain of a cocktail dates at least to The Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book, one of the true legendary drink manuals (by Albert Crockett, and originally published in 1935), which is where I first found it. There are, in a sorta rarity, three ingredients in it in equal amounts. To make it work, you must have a gin with a lot of flavor and one that’s nice and dry, or the Bénédictine and French vermouth push it around. I’m using Cadée Gin here, and if you can get it, get it. If not, find another sturdy gin. Oh, and don’t forget the twist, or my “liquid quatrain” line above doesn’t work, and we wouldn’t want that.
The Poet’s Dream
1 ounce Cadée gin
1 ounce Bénédictine
1 ounce French (aka Dry) Vermouth
Lemon 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 shaker, and garnish with the twist.
June 7, 2016
Seattle’s new-ish Heartwood Provisions is an amazing spot, with a singular bar program, part of which is pairing each food item with a specially-designed cocktail, and a swell person running the whole beverage show, Amanda Reed. I recently wrote about the space, her, and one of my favorite drinks on the menu, the What’s New Pussycat, in an article for Seattle magazine. Don’t miss it, yo!
*See all Seattle magazine articles by me
May 27, 2016
Okay, I can hear many groaning at me right now – listen, yucks, just chill out. I know that Ardbeg is a super delicious Scotch. And that tomorrow, May 28, is Ardbeg Day. That’s right – it’s such a dandy Scotch distillery that it has a day named after it. Be sure to celebrate. And perhaps the best way to celebrate is by trying, slowly and reverently, the new Ardberg Dark Cove. The darkest Ardbeg ever and one that’s only being released in a limited way (as they do on Ardbeg Day), Dark Cove takes its name from the smugglers who used to utilize the caves in the rocky hills near the Ardbeg distillery – and they weren’t using said cave for makeout spots (at least not too much). It gets its signature taste from maturing the whiskey in ex-bourbon casks, and the hearts in dark sherry casks. That’s right – two cask types! And that taste: a little raisin and date and spice up front, followed by charcoal and wood, and ending in a singular savory-ness and a little coffee and toffee. Good stuff indeed, and it goes on sale tomorrow (I got a little advance sample), so get some.
But back to the groaning you’re gonna make. See, though you really should sip this solo, I couldn’t resist (this is how my mind works) using it in a cocktail. I wanted one that really let it shine, but then also had one or two other pals along, to see how it played with others. So, I went for the Thistle. An old cocktail, really a Scotch Manhattan of sorts, you often see this with equal parts sweet vermouth and Scotch. But in some old tomes, you see double the Scotch or other slightly different ratios. I’m going even farther here, to give the Dark Cove a little more space. I’m also bringing in a serious sweet vermouth to play its role (the Banquo to the Scotch’s Macbeth, except not a ghost), Martini Gran Lusso Italian vermouth, 150th anniversary edition, based on a blend of Barbera and oak-aged Moscato. Amazing stuff. And this is an amazing. Try it, and stop your groaning.
2-1/4 ounces Ardbeg Dark Cove
3/4 ounce Martini Gran Lusso Italian vermouth
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Lemon twist, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with cracked ice. Add it all, except the twist.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with the twist.
PS: Yeah, this is very close to a Rob Roy. You can groan about that, too. While I’m having fun drinking.
May 24, 2016
Anthony Trollop and I hang out, usually over some port. It’s a swell time, and as a long-time reader of this blog (which you are, right? Right?), you probable already know this, cause of past Trollope Cocktail Talks (which I know you’ve read, right? Right?), and my general fawning over him. I recently just re-read the first of the awesome Palliser novels, a book called Can You Forgive Her. Not the tops of that series of his (to me, the Phineas books are best), but still amazingly good. And it has this quote, which tells about how a good whiskey drink is a swell mood-changer.
And when he got to his club the waiters found him quite unmanageable about his dinner, which he ate alone, rejecting all proposition of companionship. But later in the evening he regained his composure over a glass of whiskey-toddy and a cigar. “She’s got her own money,” he said to himself, “and what does it matter? I don’t suppose she’ll marry her cousin. I don’t think she’s fool enough for that. And after all she’ll probably make it up again with John Grey.” And in this way he determined that he might let this annoyance run off him, and that he need not as a father take the trouble of any interference.
–Can You Forgive Her, Anthony Trollope
May 20, 2016
I’m not usually a sugar-on-the-rim guy, or a salt, or any of that jazz. Unless it’s done really well. Which it sometimes is! So now I’m contradicting myself. But also sometimes it’s done poorly, with the spice in question all on the inside of the glass and overwhelming the drink’s flavors, instead of complementing them. But once in a while, I do go that route, especially when I’m making a drink that suggests it where the drink is also from Crosby Gaige’s Cocktail Guide and Ladies Companion, my favorite book published in 1941. And if that wasn’t enough, this has a fantastic name. If you can name a drink this swell-ly, then let me know about it, and I will make one of these for you. Really!
Mrs. Solomon Wears Slacks
2 ounces brandy
1/2 ounce orange curaçao
3 dashes Angostura bitters
1. Put a good helping of sugar (but not a mound or anything) on a saucer. Wet the outside rim of a Champagne flute (I used a lemon slice, but you could also rotate it through water on a saucer–just don’t get any water in the glass). Carefully rotate the outside rim of the glass through the sugar–but you don’t want to get any sugar on the inside. No, no, not a grain. So, be careful.
2. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add the brandy, curaçao, and bitters. Stir well.
3. Strain the mix into the flute. Slack up.