Washington State is awesome! There are so many fantastic distillers here now, I sometimes feel like the luckiest drinker in the world. And there are a couple even in my neighborhood, including the small-in-size, giant-in-taste Old Ballard Liquor Co., which is focused on making traditional aquavits, lovely forgotten products like Cherry Bounce, and more. Recently, I was doubly-lucky, in that I got to write an article about the Old Ballard Liquor Co. for the smashing Seattle magazine. And then, I got to put up a bit more of my interview with Lexi, the super knowledgeable distiller owner, on the Seattle magazine blog. Read the article and the blog to learn more.
Let me start with an apology: you cannot get one of the main ingredients in this drink in the US. My bad, yo. The ingredient is the Italian amaro called Viparo, and I can’t believe with the many, many amaros now being imported that someone hasn’t brought it in, because it’s a delicious member of the amaro clan, one produced by the Morganti family since 1913, and like most, originally designed for medicinal purposes. So, pick up a bottle when you’re in Italy. Until then, you could, if you want, sub in another amaro, one that shades towards the sweetish middle of the amaro scale, something like Averna. It won’t have the same exact highwayman feel, but it’ll be close. Call it the Highwayman’s Bank Holiday.
1-1/2 ounce gin
1 ounce freshly squeezed clementine juice
1/2 ounce Viparo
1/2 ounce Aperol
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the gin, juice, Viparo, and Aperol. Shake well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass.
A Note: Can’t find clementines? You could sub in orange juice instead. Call it Highwayman’s Parole.
A Second Note: You might want to strain this through a fine strainer to avoid citrus bits in teeth. But no real robber would care about that much.
Hey friends, if you somehow missed it, the newest Starbucks CD is called The Cocktail Hour, and you need to get to your local and demand a copy (well, maybe just ask) today, unless you want your next cocktail party to fall flat. See, the CD features a host of sweet music that accompanies a well-made cocktail perfectly, songs that range from Ray Charles and Betty Carter singing Cocktails for Two to Eartha Kitt’s unmissable I Want To Be Evil. But the CD booklet is also gonna help your party along, as it is bubbling over with 11 drink recipes specially selected by me, and they go with the songs like gin goes with vermouth. The recipes include classics (like the Singapore Sling) and some newer mixes. Add the music and drinks together and your cocktail party is nearly set (in an awesome manner). Just grab some pals and go go go! So, head to a Starbucks and get your Cocktail Hour CD today!
If you’re lucky enough to be sitting outside under some late-summer sun, feeling a wee bit warm, even, and wondering how in the world life could be any finer . . . well, pour yourself one of these and you’ll see how. This is, for sure, in my top ten list of sitting-in-the-sun drinks, one that manages to cool you down without sacrificing any flavor – it has oodles of flavor, actually, an amazing amount thanks to the two ingredients, Italian bitter-kissed sweet vermouth stalwart Punt e’ Mes (from all the way in 1870, for you history buffs), and ginger ale or ginger beer (I used to use the former, but have tried the latter recently with outstanding results). The herbal and spice layers in here are only a wee bit less amazing than the drink’s power to refresh you, when you’re under that sun alluded to earlier.
Punt e’ Mes Highball
1-1/2 ounces Punt e’ Mes
3 ounces ginger ale or ginger beer
1. Fill a smallish highball glass or a big rocks glass three-quarter-ish up with ice cubes. Add the Punt e’ Mes.
2. Top with the ginger ale. Stir. Be happy.
Hey, happy Tuesday! Hope your weekend was dreamy. Of course, a dreamy weekend may mean you’re back at work wanting to think about anything but work. I am here to help! With a little round up of some recent blog posts I wrote for the suave Seattle magazine. These should provide the perfect counter to thinking about work (and maybe well help you get ready for next weekend, too).
Hello late August! You might think in late August, where, for let’s say at least 85.4% of the readers of this blog, it’s pretty hot, that I wouldn’t dare suggest making a drink that means “thought.” But I will dare (as the song says), cause really, you don’t have to think too much about this drink when making it, and because it is rather refreshing and, if I may dare say, yummy. Just be sure your Brachetto d’Acqui (the slightly sweet Italian frizzante wine) is well chilled, or drop an ice cube into the glass. It is August, after all.
The Pensiero, from Champagne Cocktails
1 ounces freshly squeezed orange juice
3/4 ounces Punt e Mes
1/2 ounce Campari
1/2 ounce Simple Syrup
Chilled Brachetto d’Acqui
Lemon twist, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the orange juice, Punt e Mes, Campari, and simple syrup. Shake thoughtfully.
2. Strain the mixture through a fine strainer into a flute glass. Top with Brachetto d’Acqui. Garnish with the lemon twist.
Charles Williams, the hard-boiled, pulpy, mystery, thriller-y writer, has shown up on this blog before a few times in Cocktail Talk posts. With good reason, as he’s one of the best 1950s/60s writers in all the genres mentioned. I’m always pretty excited to track down one of his books I haven’t read – his plots are crisp, his language is entertaining and right on, and his characters aren’t afraid of a good drink. Recently, I picked up his book Man on a Leash, which is about a young-ish guy trying to track down what happened to his recently-murdered and very larger-than-life father, and then getting into all kinds of predicaments himself. And having a Bloody Mary or two (not the normal drink, really, for pulp-ish books). Which is the where the first quote below comes from. The second has nothing to do with drinks, but is just a darn sweet quote. I’ve begun quoting it, actually, every day at work.
‘It sounds a little kooky, out here in the sagebrush, but would you believe a rescue at sea?’ She glanced at her watch and stood up. ‘But I’ve got to run. If you’ll stop by when you get through here, I’ll hammer together a couple of Blood Marys and a bit of lunch and tell you about it.’
Brubaker got up and began to pace the office. ‘Jesus Christ, when I think that I could’ve been a pimp or a geek in a sideshow, biting the heads off chickens!
– Charles Williams, Man on a Leash
Sometimes, in summer, it’s too hot for me to even write up a new, clever, headnote (anyone who shakes their head at “clever” please leave the room). And sometimes, I read another headnote from a book and just think, well, that says it all, really. This is one of those times.
In his famous eighteenth sonnet, when he lays down the immortal line “and summer’s lease hath all too short a date,” Shakespeare perhaps wasn’t exactly referring to a coquetry that happened in those hotter months between him and a fair lady, an ardent connection that slid smoothly past light flirtation into something a trace more serious, a Mercury-rising affaire d’amour that—for at least as long as those months lasted—seemed more important than the sun. As these adoring concerns are, sadly, like this drink, over much too soon, his line does hit the romantic nail on the head, though—showing again why Will S. was the master.
Summer Dream, from Dark Spirits, Serves 2 (because of reasons mentioned above)
3 orange slices
2 peach slices
4 ounces bourbon
2 ounces Campari
1 ounce Simple Syrup
1 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1. Add the orange and peach slices to a cocktail shaker. Using a muddler or wooden spoon, muddle well.
2. Fill the cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the bourbon, Campari, simple syrup, and lemon juice. Shake really well, if a little wistfully, for at least 15 seconds.
3. Strain the dream through a fine strainer equally into two cocktail glasses.
A Variation: Want a more cluttered drink? After step 2, instead of straining into cocktail glasses, pour the whole shebang, ice and fruit and every sad last word, into two large goblets. Rename it the Disordered Dream.