January 30, 2015

What I’m Drinking: The Blue Train (Take Two)

I’ve had a Blue Train cocktail up here on the Spiked Punch blog in the past, and it’s a good drink. There is, however, another Blue Train cocktail I like, based on one I saw called the Blue Train Special. It’s a bubbly mix, a celebratory number, an effervescent affair, one that’s sure to provide a hint of elegance for those occasions that demand such. You should try it, whether you’re on a train or not. Though really, it might be, now that I think about it, better when actually had on a train.


The Blue Train, from Champagne Cocktails

Ice cubes
1 1/2 ounces brandy
1 ounce fresh pineapple juice
Chilled brut sparkling wine
Pineapple chunk, for garnish, (optional)

1. Fill a cocktail shaker three-quarters full with ice cubes. Add the brandy and pineapple juice. Shake well.

2. Strain the mixture through a fine strainer into a Champagne flute. Top with chilled sparkling wine and garnish with a pineapple chunk on a toothpick.

January 27, 2015

Cocktail Talk: All Shot Up

all-shot-upI’ve talked a pretty fair amount about my love of the writer Chester Himes, and pretty much everything he’s written. And have had a number of quotes from books of his featuring the Harlem detectives Grave Digger Jones and Coffin Ed Johnson. But I’ve never had a quote from the book All Shot Up? That seems almost unbelievable. But I’m here to rectify that (and might have more quotes from this book in the future, cause it is awesome) with the below from the very first page of the book.

His eyes popped. He knew he was sober. He hadn’t been drinking any whisky and he hadn’t been smoking any weed. But he didn’t believe what he saw. It was a mirage; but this was not the desert and he was not dying of thirst. In fact he was cold enough for his guts to freeze; and the only thing he wanted to drink was a hot rum and lemon.

He saw a Cadillac pass, the likes of which he had never seen. And his business was cars.

This Cadillac looked as though it were made of solid gold.

–Chester Himes, All Shot Up

January 23, 2015

What I’m Drinking: The Back of The Hand

I’m a strong proponent of the non-violent approach. So don’t think this drink is in honor of using the back of your hand in some attempt at masculinity or femininity through smacking folks around (unless it’s like Hydra, or the Nazis, or something). Oh no. This drink is in honor of the actual backside of the hand – a space on your body that you should always take care of, since it’s what shows when you’re holding a drink. This drink has a bit of a beachy lean, too, featuring 3 Howls Navy Strength rum, as well as pineapple and lime, and on the beach every single inch of skin is important, and seen. And, as people tend to gaze at your hand most (even if it’s a beach, right? Right?), especially when you’re holding said drink, that hand backside becomes very important. So important that I thought it needed a drink named after it. This is that drink!

The Back of the Hand

Ice cubes
2 ounces 3 Howls Navy Strength rum
3/4 ounces pineapple simple syrup (see Note)
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
3 ounces club soda

1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with ice cubes. Add the rum, pineapple simple syrup, and lime juice. Shake well.

2. Fill a highball or comparable glass three-quarters full with ice cubes. Strain the above mix over the ice. Top with club soda. Stir well. If you feel this needs a garnish, try a lime wedge.

A Note: To make pineapple simple syrup, add three cups fresh chopped pineapple, 3 cups sugar, and 2 -1/2 cups water to a medium-sized saucepan. Stirring occasionally, bring the mixture to a boil over a medium-high heat. Lower the heat a bit, keeping the mixture at a low boil for five 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, and let the syrup cool completely cool in the pan. Strain and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

January 20, 2015

Moonshine is Shining in Washington State

Moonshine has made a huge comeback onto legal liquor store shelves lately, and much of it is pretty darn swell, dropping the burns-you-all-the-way-down personality for one of tasty-but-strong. And guess what? Washington State has some of the finest ‘shine around. Learn more in a moonshine article I recently wrote for Seattle magazine.

*Read Washington Moonshines to Drink Now

January 16, 2015

What I’m Drinking: Let It Fly

This international (of sorts) country hopper is another that has a bit of a holiday-overload-reviving quality. It even has double bitters, and the slightly bitter vermouth Punt ‘e Mes, making it good anytime you’ve had a filling meal. It’s all underlined by the fine Irish Whiskey, Teeling, which I hope you can find in your neighborhood.

Let It Fly

Cracked ice
1-1/2 ounces Teeling Irish Whiskey
1 ounce Kronan Swedish Punsch
1/2 ounce Punt ‘e Mes vermouth
2 dashes Scrappy’s orange bitters
1 dash Angostura bitters

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with cracked ice. Add everything, and stir.

2. Strain the mix into a cocktail glass.

January 13, 2015

Cocktail Talk: The Moving Toyshop

moving-toyshopNot long ago, I had a Cocktail Talk post talking about Edmund Crispin’s The Case of the Gilded Fly, and how I hadn’t read anything by him, an honest post I must say (sometimes it’s hard to admit things). Since then, I’ve read a second book by Mr. Crispin, another starring his literary (but action-oriented) sleuth Gervase Ven, a book called The Moving Toyshop. I liked it even more! It’s fairly madcap in a way, but still has a good mystery along under the motion, and the below fun drinky quote.

‘My dear Anthony, how delightful to see you,” said Mr. Barnaby with pleasure. ‘I’m sorry there are all these frightful gymnasts about, but they simply invited themselves. What will you have to drink?’

‘What is that that Charles is drinking?’

‘Oh ether and milk, or some terrible chemical affair of that sort. But you know Charles. The poor dear cannot be made to realize that the romantic decadence is over. He still writes verses about affreuses juices and things. How about some Madeira?’

–Edmund Crispin, The Moving Toyshop

January 9, 2015

What I’m Drinking: The Stomach Reviver

A classic cure for gastronomical distress, I’ve featured this favorite on the Spiked Punch blog before. But as it’s such a fine remedy for curing your post-holiday internal ills, and as one or two of you may have missed the earlier post, here it is again, starting your new year off in a fine, tasty, gut-happy way.


The Stomach Reviver

Ice cubes
1 1/2 ounces brandy
1 ounce kümmel
1/2 ounce Fernet Branca
2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with cracked ice. Add everything, and stir well.

2. Strain the mix into a cocktail glass. Think less full thoughts.

January 6, 2015

Cocktail Talk: The Secret of the Bottle

stories-my-motherI’m not always in the mood for an anthology, but sometimes it’s fun to bounce from author to author fairly rapidly instead of settling in with one person. While I don’t know (though I haven’t checked this assertion) that there are less anthology type books today, it feels like there are, and the difference between last century and now seems almost completely to come from the lack of Alfred Hitchcock collections. There used to be tons of these, all fairly reliable, and all with fun names and covers. The below sherry quote comes from one called Stories My Mother Never Told Me, specifically from a story by Gerald Kersh, who must have enjoyed sherry quite a bit.

‘Hold hard, my friend,’ I said in Spanish. But he only bowed low and made a graceful gesture toward the glass. I believe that that sherry was in the hogshead before Napoleon came to handgrips with the Duke of Willington at Badajoz. Sherry is the worst thing in the world for rheumatism, and I meant to take no more than one sip. But that one sip filled me so full of sunlight that I felt myself responding to it as if to Spanish music, and my appetite came roaring back.

–Gerald Kersh, The Secret of the Bottle

Rathbun on Film

Cocktail to Cocktail Hour Series Four, Episode Five, The GizmoNovember 04, 2013
A special Cocktail to Cocktail Hour holiday episode hosted by A.J. Rathbun where very special guest Jeremy Holt stops by to teach us how to make the Gizmo, a...
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Cocktail to Cocktail Hour Series Four, Episode Four, The TrilbyNovember 03, 2013
The Cocktail to Cocktail Hour hosted by A.J. Rathbun has a very special guest in this episode; Alastair Edwards stops by with a drinking problem, solved by t...
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Cocktail to Cocktail Hour, V4, Three, Horse's NeckOctober 06, 2013
In this Cocktail to Cocktail Hour, you'll learn to make the refreshing Horse's Neck from special guest star Mark Butler, and hear host A.J. Rathbun and Mark ...
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Cocktail to Cocktail Hour V4, Two, Aperol SpritzSeptember 24, 2013
The Cocktail to Cocktail Hour hosted by aj Rathbun has a very special guest in this episode, who teaches you how to make the Aperol Spritz, with Aperol and...
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