October 5, 2012
Some sad days, you look at your liqueur shelves and can’t find a thing to drink. Sometimes, this drives you to trying some new liqueurs or spirits. Sometimes, it sends you to searching other shelves and you end up trapped in a cabinet. When you find a stash of cardamom seeds in the corner of said cabinet then you end up making a cardamom liqueur (this has happened to you, right? It’s not just me. Tell me it’s not just me). When the cardamom liqueur actually turns out to be pretty darn intriguing and not bad in taste, it makes all that time trapped in cabinets worthwhile. Especially if you have a pal who then makes a good drink with the liqueur. But I’m getting ahead of myself. First, the cardamom liqueur. I call it Stella di Cardamomo, which speaks to me missing Italy and being oh so fancy. In the bottle, if looking really really closely and squinting, it looks like this:
The taste was and is (I haven’t had every last drop—yet) a bit flowery and with tons of aroma and hints of citrus, but with a kick at the end. Somewhat like one of those early days of spring that end with chilly temperatures when you’ve worn a shorts and a t-shirt combo. But you aren’t too cold cause you have someone to cuddle with. Like that. If you enjoy that sensation, and like cardamom (and let’s hope you do), then the recipe goes like this:
1/4 cup cardamom pods
1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 full orange peels (so, the peels from two oranges, with as little pith as possible)
3 cups vodka
11-1/2 ounces agave syrup
1. Using a mortar and pestle, slightly bash up the cardamom and the fennel. Then add them to a large glass container that has a secure lid.
2. Add the orange peels to the container, and knock them around (just a smidge) with the cardamom and fennel.
3. Add the vodka to the container, give it a swirl or two, and then seal and place in a place that’s away from the sun. Let it sit two weeks, swirling occasionally.
4. Add the agave syrup to the container (by the by, agave is healthy. So, this has now become a healthy drink), stir, seal, and place back wherever it was before. Let sit two week, swirling occasionally.
5. Strain through cheesecloth, at least twice—until it’s clear. Store in a nice bottle and use in the Old Mom (which I’m about to talk about).
Now, back to the pal and the drink. So, I gave a little Stella di Cardamomo to my pal Emi (check this past post for a pic of her Raspberry Gin Fizz) and she whipped up an absolutely divine drink with it, a variation of sorts on the classic Old Fashioned. Yeah, I know, artsy, but the liqueur itself is artsy, and bringing the old and new boozes together is a good thing and worth praise. She went about making her new cocktail by testing this and that until she ended with this recipe:
2 ounces whiskey
1/8 ounce Stella di Cardamomo
1/8 ounce simple syrup
2 dashes Fee Brothers orange bitters
1. Add a few ice cubes to an Old Fashioned or relatable glass. Add the whiskey (not sure which type she used—maybe she’ll let us know in the comments. Though she is quite busy), Stella di Cardamomo, simple syrup, and bitters. Stir well.
Okay, I think that’s how she went about it at least. There may have been a slightly different way about things, but I think that the above instructions would serve you pretty well. You could also shake everything and then strain it over a couple ice cubes, depending on how much time you have and how much exercise you need. But your results may not be quite as lovely as in this picture (also taken by Emi):
And that, adventuresome ones, is a long blog post about both a new liqueur and a new drink. One of the most wonderful things ever, perhaps.
PS: If there are any liqueur companies reading this that now want to make and sell Stella di Cardamomo, please email me now.
July 10, 2012
So, I don’t just write about cocktails, drinks, distilleries, beer, booze, drinkers, drunks, and all that. Not that I don’t like to write about all of the above (and more!), but I like a little balance, too. Which means I have a day job (where I fight zombies, among other things). Which you might think isn’t fun, but let me clear your befuddled mind. See, I work with folks in the daytime who may not make drinks for a living, but who make damn fine drinks–and then sometimes take damn fine pictures of said drinks. Exhibits A and B are below. The first was made and taken by pal and co-worker Emi, and is a Raspberry Gin Fizz:
The next is a Mai Tai with lovely float of dark rum, with the drink made and photographed by pal and co-worker Lorie:
Now, those are some talented home-bartenders I get to work with from the 9 to 5. And yeah, you should be jealous.
April 16, 2012
Sometimes, a picture tells a perfect story. Example A, sent to me by my pal Kristine (who is a jewelry maker, NYC charmer, and also a survivor of years spent in Kansas), is below. Violet Fizzes (with recipe from Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz, dontcha know, and made with the wonderful Rothman & Winter Crème De Violette) served up in their lovely effervescence-ness on Easter. I don’t even need to know any more to know that her Easter was amazing. And that I’m jealous I wasn’t there to share a few drinks and eats with her. But at least she sent me this fab photo:
March 21, 2012
I’ve been embracing the simple life lately (outside of the whole, “I have a million books and comics I’ll never get rid of”). Or, at least, a simpler cocktailing way of life. Not that I don’t still like the wacky, molecular, multi-flavored bitters, and obscurity driven ingredients list drinks that have started to dominate bar menus. If someone else is making it, I’ll try about anything, really. But at home, lately, I’ve been scaling it back. Partially because my daylight hours are often spent at a job that’s on the far far side of busy. But also just because it’s good to distill flavors, instead of trying to overlayer them (if that makes sense). So, some easiness without sacficing any taste. To demonstrate, the Refroidisseur de Mardi: a super simple number, but also one that’s super refreshing, and super in its ability to allow a couple ingredients to shine. It takes advantage of the newish Perrier Lemon sparkling water (full disclosure: I recently came home to a box of Perrier on my front porch) and the oldish gin. And not much more. Both wife Nat and I have been relaxing with these after long days at the office, while watching Perry Mason, and absolutely loving them. I strongly suggest, if you want to simplify, you do the same.
1-1/2 ounces gin (Voyager is what we’ve used, but any London style gin will shine)
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup
Chilled Perrier Lemon
Lemon wheel, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup. Shake well.
2. Fill a highball or comparable glass three-quarters up with ice cubes. Strain the mix into the glass over the ice.
3. Top the glass with Perrier, and stir carefully, bringing everything together. Garnish with the lemon wheel.
February 8, 2012
There are some combinations that you just know, before you even start pouring and experimenting, will go together like the Hulk and green skin. By which I mean, perfectly. Dark rum and Rhum Clément Creole Shrubb are one of these pairings. This of course makes perfect sense, since the latter is made on a base partially of the former. But still, sometimes things don’t go as planned (like the Gamma bomb going off on poor old Doc Banner). However, I’m happy to report that in this case no one was turned into an over-sized misunderstood creature. Instead, the rum and the Rhum Clément Creole Shrubb mingle nicely, aided by an addition from another part of the globe, amaretto. Amaretto is, much like the Hulk, often misunderstood. Here, though, it shines with our two Caribbean pals. All of above leads to the fact that you shouldn’t drink this when angry (or drink anything really—who needs another angry drunk?), but drink it while watching the 1970s Incredible Hulk series, or reading the comics of the same character from the same era.
2 ounces dark rum
1 ounce Rhum Clément Creole Shrubb
1 ounce amaretto
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add the rum, Creole Shrubb, and amaretto. Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass.
A Note: I think cracked ice is crackingly good for stirring here, but if you have only ice cubes and don’t feel like cracking, they’ll work too.
PS: This recipe is from Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz. Which you should get, for gosh sakes.
December 17, 2011
Here’s something that’ll add a little kick to your holiday season–Seattle has another local spirit now available for public consumption. After the various distillery articles, it’s probably not surprising that there are more new spirits, but what’s surprising is that this one probably isn’t going to ring any bells (or not many). It’s a shōchū, a Japanese-origin spirit, one that often goes through a single distilling, usually made from barley (though other options abound), and usually with a lesser alcohol content as well as with less calories than say, vodka and various health benefits (or so the legends go). There are some other rules and such, but I’m starting to digress too far afield. The main point is that the Sodo Spirits distillery here in Seattle (lucky us) is making and marketing a shōchū called EvenStar.
If you’ve never had shōchū, or shochu, then you aren’t alone. I hadn’t tried it but once, until recently experimenting with the EvenStar. It was light on its feet as you might expect, with a hint of rosemary and grain and a tiny herbal undertone. The suggested drinking modes cover the gamut from neat, warm (like some sake is consumed), over ice, and mixed in cocktails. The friendly folks at the Sodo Spirits have some cocktail suggestions on their site and some that come along with the EvenStar (by the way, they were nice enough to send me a bottle) but many of the drinks were using it alongside other base spirits, and to me it seemed to have enough taste to stand as a base spirit, if that makes sense. So, I did what comes naturally to any cocktail-loving cocktail lover; I started experimenting on my own.
I thought that the EvenStar’s hints of herbalness and rosemary might match up with other herb-ish mixtures, and I was right–it matched up well with French liqueur Chartreuse, especially the green version, as well as with the earth mother of bitters, Peychaud’s. After I had those two other ingredients, I just needed to balance everything out a bit, the low and the high, the herbal and the sweet, the gossip and the facts, and a little fresh orange juice did the trick right. The end result is a cocktail worthy of Venus, the goddess of love and beauty, as it’s light, won’t weigh you down, and has a lovely glow. I suggest trotting down to your local liquor store (if in the Seattle area) and picking up some EvenStar and taking Venus out for a spin this winter. Or, try it in other mixes and let me know what you come up with, because I’m always open to other ideas. And if you don’t live here (well, first–why not?), then come for a visit, because our local distillers are making Seattle an even finer place to reside within.
The Venus in Voiron Cocktail
2 ounces EvenStar shochu
3/4 ounce green Chartreuse
1/4 ounce freshly squeezed orange juice
Dash Peychaud’s bitters
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the shochu, Chartreuse, orange juice, and bitters.
2. Strain the mix through a fine strainer into a cocktail glass. Drink looking east, and then drink looking west.
November 29, 2011
Even if you don’t live in Seattle, the general Seattle area, in the western part of Washington State, Washington State, the Pacific Northwest, or even the United States, if you like good liquors and liqueurs and cocktails then you’ll probably want to read my Seattle Magazine article on the host of new local-ish distilleries. I don’t want to say too much (cause when you go read it, you’re going to get a lot of me anyway), but A: though it’s good online, pick up a real, in-your-hands, copy of the issue if you can because the layout and photos and such are fantastic in mag form (even more than the online version, which is also awesome), and B: reading through the article again makes me even happier to live out here. Thanks to all the distillers for talking to me and taking me around, it was one tasty article to write. Oh, also, I have an accompanying article about 12 specific new Seattle bottles-of-booze I thought were worth sipping—ones tasted while writing (sometimes tasted for the 2nd or 32nd time) the main distillery article. You should check those out, and the new liquors and liqueurs coming out all the time, by golly. If you don’t live here, come on by to visit and then check ‘em out. We’ll be glad to see you.
November 3, 2011
Hello dear readers. For those of you not living in Seattle or visiting in the next few days, feel free to walk away from this post right now (I mean walk away, too—I expect you to leave the computer on with this site up so the drunken elves that live in your house can read this). For those in Seattle, I’m sorry this is a little last minute, but there’s still time to clear your calendar so you can go to the Manhattan Experience contest (sponsored by Woodford Reserve bourbon and Esquire Magazine) this Monday, November 7th, at the Columbia Tower Club’s Columbia Room at 701 Fifth Avenue, downtown Seattle. You do have to register first (though it’s free!) at www.wellcraftedmanhattan.com. They’ll be a host of local and local-ish (all from in-state, mind you, if not in city) bartenders (well, a small host of six I think) making their updated takes on the mighty Manhattan. Does the Manhattan need an updated take? No. But, is it nice to have a bunch of drinks made in the spirit of the Manhattan? Yes. And is it even more fun if I get to judge which one is best? Double yes. And yes, I am one of the judges, which means I’ll get to spout off to someone about why the Manhattan is the Dark Knight of drinks, and my whole DC-cosmology-into-drinks theory. Which is always nice. But it’ll be nice if you’re there. So, come on by. But leave the drunken elves at home.
PS: The Manhattan photo above, which is the best Manhattan photo ever, was taken by Melissa Punch for Good Spirits. Which, if you don’t have, you should have.