March 31, 2015
We are now onto the third Cocktail Talk post featuring drinky talk from a book by Henry Kane. Please, please, for the love of all that’s dear to you, go back and read Part I and Part II, because you’ll only kick yourself when you miss them. Though the below may be my favorite, just cause you don’t see Sidecars come up in literature that often – and you need to savor them when they do!
I pursed my lips. I said, ‘Two sidecars.’
We sipped and looked at each other and set them down.
‘Let’s pay and leave,’ Edith said. ‘Mine stinks. And you look like yours does, too. Sacrilege. I’m going home. Got work.’
I put her into a taxi.
‘Bye, Red. Be seeing you.’
I walked home and went straight to the kitchen and fused lemon and Cointreau and cognac and in the living room I lapsed into beautiful beatitude.
–Henry Kane, Martinis and Murder
March 27, 2015
The Montmartre cocktail was possibly named for the neighborhood, which gets its name from the death and decapitation of a bishop, archdeacon, and priest in 1272. That’s heavy! But the drink itself is fairly light on its toes and on the tongue, while carrying a great balance of flavors. However, recently I made it but changed things up slightly, and it was even better than it has ever been throughout history. Ever. EVER! How? Well, first, I subbed in Pierre Ferrand orange curaçao for the traditional triple sec, and the slightly dry and more flavorful nature of the former was fantastic. I also changed the maraschino cherry in for a Rainer cherry right off the tree in my yard. But what may have helped most (this didn’t change the recipe, but certainly helped the flavor) was using Martin Miller gin, whose 10 botanical blend brings a great amount of friendly complexity to the layers of taste here. All together, this makes one of the best drinks I’ve had this week (or longer). I did, since I made changes, think I needed to change the name, at least a little. Hence, the Montmartre-y.
1-1/2 ounces Martin Miller gin
3/4 ounce sweet vermouth
3/4 ounce Pierre Ferrand orange curaçao
Rainer cherry, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker half way with ice cubes. Add the gin, vermouth, and orange curaçao. Shake well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry.
March 24, 2015
I introduced you to the book Martinis and Murder by Henry Kane (originally titled, A Halo for Nobody, by the way, which is nowhere near as good) in an earlier post, and promised, much like old Jacob Marley, that we’d have three different quotes from the book. And here’s the second!
‘Now,’ she said and she produced rye and bitters and cherries and olives and gin and two kinds of vermouth, dry and sweet, and then she backed up against a table and put her hands behind her and clasped the edge of the table and watched me, her body tight against her dress.
I mixed drinks. And set them up on the washtub and I looked at her and she didn’t move and I looked again and I don’t know which of us was breathing more heavily.
–Henry Kane, Martinis and Murder
March 20, 2015
I tend to shy away from pre-flavored spirits. So many, especially in my early years (but even now, for sure) are flavored chemically, with nothing natural involved, and the taste reflects this attitude. It’s a shame, but hey, them’s the breaks. However, with today’s focus on better taste, and so many smaller distilleries who’d rather serve up delicious bottled items instead of just getting out as much as possible, well, there are some good flavored numbers starting to show up. Example A: Skiprock Distiller’s Badger Pocket black peppercorn vodka. I would expect Skiprock (a distillery from Snohomish, WA) to have a good flavored vodka, since their regular potato-based vodka is awfully tasty and uses potatoes grown right here in WA. They use whole peppercorns in the Badger Pocket, and the end result is a vodka that’s spicy, but not as sharp as you might expect – there’s actually a hint of sweetness in there, too. When using it in cocktails, this gives it more flexibility than you might expect. It makes a great Bloody Mary (as you’d guess), but also goes well with fruit liqueurs and a whole wide range of things. But, funny enough, when I was playing around with it, I ended up going a whole different route than originally planned, pairing it finally with the Italian aperitif Aperol (whose just-about-bitter-and-citrus-ness is a dream) and a little Scrappy’s orange bitters, ending with a drink that’d ideal when the sun is shining.
The Badger’s Feather
2 ounces Skiprock Badger Pocket vodka
1 ounce Aperol
1 dash Scrappy’s orange bitters
Lemon twist, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add the vodka, Aperol, and bitters. Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with the twist.
March 17, 2015
The cover blurb from the NYT review of this book says it all, “A brutal story of mayhem and murder, liquor and lust.” Okay, it doesn’t seem all that brutal today maybe as in 1947, but it does deliver on the murder, liquor, and lust, no doubt about that! Written by Henry Kane and starring a detective named Peter Chambers, Martinis and Murder is probably B level hard-boiled pulp action – not at the level of the masters, but not a bad little read. And as far as cocktail talking goes, this book is packed and overflowing with booze-y asides, varieties of imbibibles, and lots of general drinking. Oh, there’s a mystery, too, which gets solved in-between the drinks. Because the book’s so tipsy and happy about it, this is only going to be the first Cocktail Talk, of three! And there could have been more! Really!
She touched a cord with a gold tassel and the butler came in.
‘Aperitif?’ she inquired and looked at me.
‘Manhattan,’ I said.
‘Manhattan, Alfred. And several Martinis, dry. Please serve them in the garden. Now, come along, Peter Chambers. And don’t disgrace me.’
–Henry Kane, Martinis and Murder
March 13, 2015
Here’s a little rock-and-roll tippler for your upcoming St. Patrick’s Day (forget about that chemical-ized green beer – time to step it up). A cousin of the better-known Tom Collins, the Mike version of the family has the same swell refreshing nature of the TC, but switches the gin for good old Irish whiskey. If you are ready to really step up (and you should be — you deserve it), and aren’t afraid of mixing with a fine whiskey, then try Teeling’s flagship small batch whiskey in this. Aged in ex-rum casks, Teeling has a strong and superb taste, with a little herbalness and vanilla and a smidge of sweetness. Oh, you may want to have a little Teeling by itself, too. Why not?
The Mike Collins, from Dark Spirits
2 ounces Teeling Irish whiskey
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
1/4 ounce simple syrup
Chilled club soda
Lemon slice, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice cubes. Add the whiskey, juice, and syrup. Shake well.
2. Fill a Collins glass three quarters up with ice cubes. Strain the mix over the ice. Fill almost to the top with chilly club soda. Garnish with a lemon slice.
March 10, 2015
Tales of Whisky and Smuggling is a fun read, full of stories that take a variety of paths, but at heart are all about the struggle between what we might call the revenue men, though in the book they’re usually referred to as gaugers or excisemen, versus the smugglers, the home-distillers operating outside the tax scheme much as their foreparents did, making their Uisge Beatha (water of life, or whisky). Neat, right! Even neater though, is when reading one of the stories I learned of the deoch-an-dorus, or a drink-at-the-door you give a guest as they leave. That’s a great tradition. I am in to that! Check out the below quote to see it in action.
‘Ach,well, you’ll just have a deoch-an-dorus before you go, I insist,’ their host said. Although feeling vaguely disappointed Holton and Muir were delighted to have this traditional Gaelic drink-at-the-door. James fetched glassed and poured them a hearty measure each and a smaller one for himself. The gaugers tossed off their drinks and said goodbye to their very convivial host, who was delighted to see how unsteady they were on their feet as they set off down the road.
–Stuart McHardy, Tales of Whisky and Smuggling
March 6, 2015
It’s one of my favorite weather times of year here in Seattle – early spring, late winter, whatever you want to call it, the hallmarks are a temperature that hovers in the mid-50s, and a sunshine that breaks through for days in a row (though don’t tell anyone, as we like to keep people thinking it’s raining all the time in Seattle). So, chilly and sunny. It’s a beautiful time. Especially on Sundays, when you don’t have much pressing, the whole weather-mosphere in the afternoon is amazing. And it’s ideal Rusty Nail weather. The somewhat misunderstood Rusty Nail gets shafted these days, but its combination of umph and a hint of honey-loveliness goes so well with these types of days. What makes it even better is using Syndicate 58/6 Scotch. A blend of 18 single malt whiskies and 4 single grain whiskies and aged 2 to 4 years in Oloroso sherry casks, this is one tasty Scotch. With citrus and other tropical fruits, ginger, and spice on the nose, and then marmalade, apple, fig, and caramel on the tongue. I supposed many would say it’s a Scotch to savor solo (and they wouldn’t be wrong), but if you’re up for it, mixing this top Scotch into a Rusty Nail will take you to another level, and make your early spring, late winter Sunday afternoon something really memorable. Trust me.
The Rusty Nail
2 ounces Syndicate 58/6 Scotch
1 ounce Drambuie
1. Place ice cubes in an Old Fashioned glass until they reach the halfway point. Let the Scotch and then the Drambuie cascade into the glass.
2. Stir, but not tackily.