September 30, 2016
This, oh, topical drink goes far back for me. I created it for my very first drink book, Party Drinks, way back in 2003. In hindsight, it’s really just mini-variations on about 10,000 other drinks, starting with the whiskey sour and moving forwards, sidewards, and backwards. But I still dig it, and still love calling it the Presidential cause it’s such a boon to election seasons when you sometimes need a drink with a bit of a wallop underlying strong citrus and some sweet to make everything more cuddly.
However, to do it right, you need a bourbon you believe in (hey, I also sound election-y). I had mine this time with WA-state Heritage Distillery’s Duel Barrel Bourbon (which is only available at Total Wine & More, but that store is nearly nationwide, so track it down). It’s aged in charred new American oak barrels first, then in whiskey barrels that have held small batches of pure vanilla extract. As you’d expect, it has some vanilla notes, but not annoyingly so, and also some nice spice and oak. It really mingles well with lime, which surprised me for a second (until remembering that rum, lime’s cocktail partner on many occasions, often also has vanilla happening). Here, it all comes together. Trust me!
You may find this drink helpful over the next month and so. I suggest serving it in a tennis-themed glass, as elections are sometimes, oh, tennis-y as things are batted, knocked, and hit back and forth.
2-1/2 ounces Heritage Distilling Duel Barrel Bourbon
3/4 ounce freshly-squeeze lime juice
1 ounce simple syrup (you could easily go less if you wanted, and older me might even suggest it, however after a big presidential debate, for example, I often feel I deserve the extra sugar)
Lime slice, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with ice cubes. Add the bourbon, juice, and simple. Shake well.
2. Add a good amount of ice cubes, or one or two really large cubes, to an Old Fashioned glass. Strain the mix through a fine strainer over the ice. Garnish, turn off the TV, and drink happily.
September 27, 2016
One of the friendliest newish spots here in Seattle, Bar Noroeste knows how to heat things up – as you’ll see when ordering their Masa y Aceite, garnished with a corn stalk lit on fire at the table. That’s fun stuff! And I’ve had a few of them – for research, of course – made by bar manager Cara Stuber. But hey, why not go read about it in my Bar Noroeste Masa y Aceite article on Seattle magazine and get your flame on!
* See all Seattle magazine pieces by me
September 23, 2016
Many many many years ago (I can’t remember when, it was so dratted long ago), wife Nat talked me into buying a white currant tree (plant? small tree? shrub? I’m not sure which to go with) when we were at a garden store in Portland. We drove it back up to Seattle, put it in the side garden, and there it stayed, seen by few (as the side garden’s facing the alley), but a nice little plant, getting a stitch bigger every year in a slow-and-steady manner. It gave us a few stray white currants, then a few more, then a few more, then this year a solid harvest. Eating them isn’t for everyone – not a ton of fruit, a little bittery – but I like them fairly well. But I liked them even more when we decided to pick ‘em all and make a liqueur. It started like this:
with a harvest of currants in a big glass jar. Then time, spirit, sugar, and water took over (and some serious filtering), and we ended here:
At first, I wasn’t sure how it was going to come together. Mid-way, still wasn’t. But once all was strained and such, the end result is tip top – a little citrus, light, a little grape-y, and a small small bitter nudge. Delicious stuff, especially served up cold. I wish I had twice as much. C’mon little currant plant! I’m excited to try it in some cocktails, too. I know white currants aren’t just everywhere, but if you happen to be near a plant with some, harvest those up, and try them in the below.
Current Currant Liqueur
2 very full cups white currants
2-1/2 cups vodka
1 cup simple syrup
1. Add the currants to a large glass container with a good lid. Muddle slightly. Add the vodka, stir, and put that lid on it. Store in a cool dark place away from the sun. Let sit two weeks, swirling occasionally.
2. Open it back up, add the simple syrup, and stir well. Place it back in the cool dark place, and let sit two more weeks, swirling occasionally.
3. Strain – I went once through a decent fine strainer to get the fruit out, and then through cheesecloth to add more clarity. You might need a third straining, too.
September 20, 2016
I recently was lucky enough to get to go out to Whidbey Island (or, the Isle of Whidbey as the case may be) to visit with the awesome and Scottish Colin Campbell, distiller and owner of Cadée Distillery. Then I got to write about the visit, the distillery, and some of their delicious spirits for the spirited Seattle magazine. You should read my Cadée Distillery article right now, cause I shouldn’t have all the fun, all the time.
* See all Seattle magazine pieces by me
September 16, 2016
It’s a swell age for tonics. Heck, we have at least two good ones made here in Seattle (Bradley’s and & Tonic), both being tonic syrups you then add (usually) soda too, along with your spirits and such. There are also a number of worthy bubbly pre-bottled tonics – though be sure to give these non-pre-bubbled tonics a try, as they bring loads of flavor. With all the tonics, I’ve been drinking a lot of gin and tonics, as you might expect, and other things, like Sherry & Tonic. Recently, thanks to all-star pals Jon and Nicole, I tried another new tonic, Sir Teddy’s, from Wilks & Wilson out of Indianapolis (which, funny enough, is where Jon and Nicole are from), a company that calls themselves “purveyors of fine elixirs.”
In this case, at least, the product completely lives up to the billing. But I didn’t know this at first, cause you can’t believe everything you read, so I had to, you know, try it! I was going to go just straight G&T, but in the interest of being interesting, I decided why not try some other items and this tonic? And it was a good decision! The day was sunny, the mood was experimental, the time was in the aperitivo hours, and so I went with classic Italian aperitif Aperol (which I’m guessing everyone has had, but if not, it’s like Campari’s younger sister, meaning a hint bitter, but more citrus and a smidge sweet), and blanc vermouth. In this case, La Quintinye Vermouth Royal blanc, which is a light, herbal, scrumptious vermouth ideal for sunny days.
And then Sir Teddy’s of course, which has a swell taste – the quinine you’d expect, plus lime, spices, and a nice bitter current from gentian – and really a swell story. Turns out (as this legend goes – by the way, kudos to Wilks & Wilson for the stories, really good stuff) Sir Teddy after having a life at sea was known as the “Gentleman of the Night” as he doled out his famous tonic on the street of NYC. But go read the whole Sir Teddy story as you’re sipping one of the below. Both came out wonderfully. Each had its own personality, but I can’t say which I liked better. Luckily, you can make each and then make up your own mind. I’m just going to have to do more testing.
Aperol/Blanc Vermouth & Sir Teddy’s Tonic
3/4 ounce Sir Teddy’s tonic
1-1/2 ounce Aperol or La Quintinye Vermouth Royal blanc
3 ounces club soda
1. Add the Sir Teddy’s and your Aperol or vermouth to a brandy snifter (or highball, as the case may be). Stir briefly.
2. Add a goodly amount of ice to the glass. Top with the club soda. Stir well, but carefully.
3. Garnish with the twist. Drink. Then make whichever you didn’t make the first time.
September 13, 2016
I’ve had a handful of Allingham Campion Cocktail Talks here recently (I picked up a handful of Campion books recently, too, trying to catch up and see what I thought of them all at once). Tether’s End (aka Hide My Eyes, aka Ten Were Missing – lots of aka here) is one of my favorites, though also a tiny bit disappointing in that Campion actually isn’t in it a ton. But it’s still a fine yarn around a somewhat charming psychopath and various other intriguing characters, all happening within a short time period. But, best of all, is the below Cocktail Talking, because it’s fairly rare in my experience to come across the legendary Fernet-Branca in a mystery book (outside of Italian mysteries, I suppose). So, I was super excited to see it. Actually, I think I’m going to create a drink with said legendary liquid, and call it Tether’s End. It’s such a dandy drink name, and I’m sure Campion wouldn’t mind.
Again the childhood friends exchanged glances, and as Gerry went out of the back door nearest to the theatre the manager’s soothing voice reached him as it addressed Mr. Vick.
“If you’ve been on sherry since opening time, sir, I wonder if you’d like a change? What about a nice Fernet-Branca cocktail?”
— Tether’s End, Margery Allingham
September 9, 2016
Sometimes, writing about drinks takes its toll (well, not really, but it’s giving me a convenient out, and also reducing the grumbling about how awesome writing about drinks is). Recently, for example, I somehow forgot that I’d already had Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva rum, before a bottle showed in the mail. See, my memory is failing! And I even wrote about it here on Spiked Punch. But seriously, the very distinctive bottle reminded that of course I’ve had it – it was, for gosh sakes, probably my favorite rum in a long time.
It’s a molasses-based rum distilled in copper pot stills and aged for 12 years, and boasting an array of awards. If you haven’t had it, get it (if you’re in Venezuela, where it’s from, should be a snap – though it’s widely available, so no-one should have any problems). You’ll catch the complexity from the first smell, with caramel, nuts, orange peel, vanilla, nutmeg, and allspice all hanging together, and the taste, where they all come back together with a little more spice forwardness and just a hint of sweetness. Tasty.
Tasty enough that if you’re not going to have it by itself, you should have it in a cocktail that really lets the rum shine. I went back to one of my old favorite books, Crosby Gaige’s Cocktail Guide and Ladies Companion, to re-discover a cocktail that has both a great name, and which lets rum take center stage: My Heart Stood Still. If you want to quibble (which is sorta sad for you), this is a rum Manhattan with a little heavier pour of vermouth, or perhaps some other things, none of which are named as lovely as the current name. And the drink itself is so lovely, too. The Diplomatico brings so much, but the vermouth here – Martini Gran Lusso Italian vermouth, the 150th anniversary edition – also delivers a nice layered flavor to our heart-y party. Try it. Love it. Thank me later.
My Heart Stood Still
2 ounces Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva rum
1 ounce Martini Gran Lusso Italian vermouth
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add everything. Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Savor and sip. Sip and savor.
September 6, 2016
Hey, guess what? I’ve written some fun and exciting (well, I think so!) items about booze, bars, and booze for the mighty Seattle magazine lately, and just in case you might have missed them (which would make me sad), I’m going to list them right here and now:
• German Cocktails at Altstadt, Vote for Local Distillers and More
• Three Impressions of Corvus & Co.
• New Gin from Wildwood Spirits and More Distillery News
• Super Chilly Summer Drinks in Seattle Bars
• Three Impressions of The Nest
* See all Seattle magazine pieces by me