April 18, 2014

What I’m Drinking: The Stinger

I’ve taken a lot of flak for my love of Stingers. “That’s a granny drink,” behatted bronc-busters have bellyached, while tight-jeaned fillies laugh, joking, “You’re a fogey for drinking brandy,” and everyone would cackle at my black-and-yellow bee suit (worn in honor of the Stinger). But those people are idiots. IDIOTS.  If you don’t also want to fall into this category, then Stinger up. You’ll be happier, too. Trust me. You can trust me, right?

stinger

The Stinger (from Dark Spirits)

Ice cubes
2-1/2 ounces brandy (or Cognac, if you’re feeling it)
1/2 ounce white crème de menthe

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the brandy and crème de menthe (be sure it’s the white kind, ’cause green gets icky). Shake, while proclaiming your Stinger affection loudly.

2. Strain the mix into a cocktail glass, being sure not to spill any on your bee costume.

April 15, 2014

Cocktail Talk: Lucky at Cards

Once, long ago, in a galaxy far far away (or, in my office barroom), I surfaced a Cocktail Talk quote from the book Lucky at Cards, by master writer Lawrence Block. If you missed, go read it and all the Lawrence Block quotes now, and catch up on what I think and get the full view. Anywho, now that you’re back, I can say that I missed another quote from that book that is perfect for repeating, and which mentions a couple classic Scotches not so in evidence anymore.

The bartender glanced our way. I asked for Cutty Sark on the rocks for both of us. He didn’t have any. I tried him on Vat 69 and Peter Dawson and he didn’t have those fellows either. We settled on Black and White. He brought it over and Joyce and I touched glasses and drank. Most of her Scotch disappeared on the first swallow. She shivered a little, then let out a sigh.

–Lawrence Block, Lucky at Cards

April 11, 2014

What I’m Drinking: Captain’s Blood

Argh, shiver me timbers, and yo-ho-ho. If the Captain’s Blood is flowing across the mizzenmast, it may be time to give up the ship. Or invite the marauders over, where you can splice the mainbrace in proper fashion–eye-patches, peg-legs, cutlasses, and black hats required. And if you think I know what that means, you are a very tipsy pirate. Which, I suppose, is the only way to be.

Oh, also, this makes a good drink if you’re watching any pirate movie, taking a bath with some sort-of floating ships in the bath with you, or watching BATTLESHIP, BATTLESHIP, BATTLESHIP. Heck, it’s just a good drink.

captains-blood

Captain’s Blood, from Good Spirits

Ice cubes
2-1/2 ounces Sun Liquor barrel-aged rum
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
2 dashes orange bitters
Lime slice, for garnish

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the rum, bitters, and lime juice. Shake matey, shake.

2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with the lime slice.

April 4, 2014

What I’m Drinking: Donini Wines

We (wife Nat and I) recently got back from another trip to Italy. Sadly it was two weeks in Italy, and not seven months in Italy, but it was still darn fun. And while there, we stopped to see our pal Diego, the amazing and friendly third-generation vintner at Donini Wines, who I’ve talked about more in-depth like on the Italy blog. Every time we stop by, it’s exactly like visiting a friend combined with what I think every wine tasting should be like. We sit down, he starts opening wine:

donini-1

even some unlabeled new bubbly that is fantastic, crisp, clear, and lovely:

donini-2

Then he brings out cheese and crackers and more wine:

donini-3

Then opens another bottle of wine:

donini-4

The whole time we’re catching up, talking about wine and the seasons and Italy and America and our families and this and that, and Diego is charming and always opening and pouring more wine for us to try:

donini-5

And then the table looks like this (with new reds and whites alongside old friends, all in Umbrian style and all great):

donini-6

If you’re ever in Italy, especially southern Tuscany or northern Umbria, you should be sure and stop by and see him and Donini Wines, too. Sadly, they’re only imported into the US in Montana and few other select states so far. But you needed a trip to Italy, right? Oh, one thing – you’ll probably need to take some home. So leave room in your suitcase. I always do.

April 1, 2014

Cocktail Talk: The Girl With the Long Green Heart

long-green-heartI’ve had a few Cocktail Talk quotes from Lawrence Block books before – I tend to like the older ones, some of which have awesomely been reprinted by the awesome Hard Case Crime folks. The Girl with the Long Green Heart falls firmly into the latter category, as it was originally published in 1955, then reprinted in 2005, and as it’s full of cons, dames (one real serious dame, really), back-dealings, and drinks. No foolin’, just check out the below quotes:

The maître d’ beamed his way over to us, and Evvie said something about Mr. Gunderman’s table, and we were passed along to a captain and bowed through a cocktail lounge and a large dining room into something called the Terrace Room. The tables were set far apart, the lighting dim and intimate. We ordered martinis. “You might as well order big,” she told me. “He’ll be unhappy if I don’t give you the full treatment. This is quite a place, isn’t it? You don’t expect it in Olean. But they have people who come from miles to eat here.” The martinis were cold and dry and crisp. We had a second round, then ordered dinner. She touted the chateaubriand for two and I rode along with it.

The Girl with the Long Green Heart, Lawrence Block

March 28, 2014

What I’m Drinking: The Snake Banisher Cocktail

It’s sad that people only remember St. Patrick on March the 17th – and that people only tend to really get enthusiastic about Irish contributions to cocktail culture then (sadly, I myself may fall into that a bit. Forgive me). But we, friends, can get together and drive these oversights out, much like St. Patrick himself drove the snakes out of Ireland. But to do it, we’ll need a serious drink – this drink, right here!

It’s highlighted by two great Irish products, Clontarf 1014 Irish whiskey (which I talked about in the Dublin 8 recipe post), and Celtic Honey liqueur. The latter is inspired by an ancient recipe (as many good things are) and is supposed to bring you luck when drinking. I can’t say for sure on that, but can say that the liqueur’s combination of local Irish honey, spring water, Irish whiskey, and secret herbs is tasty.

snake-banisher

The Snake Banisher

Cracked ice
2 ounces Clontarf 1014 Irish whiskey
3/4 ounce Celtic Honey liqueur
1/4 ounce Punt e’ Mes
2 dashes Scrappy’s Saville Orange bitters

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

2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Start banishing snakes.

A Note: You could use another orange bitters instead of Scrappy’s Saville Orange bitters (which is otherworldly good). But you might want to have some snake anti-venom on hand.

March 21, 2014

What I’m Drinking: The Leviathan 477 with Westland First Peated American Single Malt Whiskey

I found this beast (in the best way) of a drink in David Embury’s classic The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks. However, he doesn’t say where the name is from, and I’ve never managed to track it down in Bible, Talmud, Blake, Milton, Hobbes, or other spot (those all seemed like they could have a Leviathan 477). Where the name comes from is a secret that Mr. Embury may have taken to the big bar in the sky.

One thing on our side, though, that Mr. Embury sadly missed, is Westland Distillery’s new First Peated American single malt whiskey. And probably so will most others (hah) as it’s a limited release. But, the distiller’s regular peated whiskey is soon to follow, and I’ll bet it will also be amazing in this drink. The First Peated has a deep smoky peatedness, but also an underlying chocolate, leather, shortbread mix with little hints of citrus and cherry. It’s a fine whiskey, and one that is delicious solo. You might not even think of it as a spirit to have in cocktails, but let me tell you, mixed into the below it shines and helps deliver a drink worthy of the monstrous name (in the best way, of course).

leviathan

The Leviathan 477, from Good Spirits

Ice cubes
2 ounces Westland First Peated American single malt whiskey
1 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 ounce freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the remaining ingredients. Shake smoothly.

2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Sip. Sip. Sip.

March 18, 2014

Single Malt Whiskey, Washington State Style

best whiskeys seattle magazineIf you live in Washington State, you (like me) should feel pretty happy about the distillery explosion over the last few years, cause it’s delivering a host of dandy local spirits and liqueurs. The list includes a number of single malt whiskies, and recently I was lucky enough to talk to a bunch of distillers making said whiskey, and write about it for Seattle magazine. And now I’m passing that luck on to you, since the Washington State Distillers Embrace American Single Malt Whiskey article (and a few single-malt picks) is just a click away.

 

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