May 10, 2024

What I’m Drinking: The Whizz Bang

You might think a drink with this particular name would be more suited for a specific day in July (the fourth, that is), when whizz-bangers are going off in most US neighborhoods, and, between us, you’d be forgiven for thinking this, as I’ve made Whizz Bang cocktails on that very day in the past. However! I also think that mom’s need to have a hearty cocktail on Mother’s Day, and that mom’s can be firecrackers, too, in their own ways, and go whizzing around doing all that they do. Which means, as Mother’s Day is in two days, I believe it’s completely appropriate to be having this now and then. The drink’s lovely combination of bourbon (I’m going Woodinville Whiskey Company’s Straight bourbon, cause moms deserve the best!) and its sweet bourbon-ness with dry vermouth’s high-tone herbals, and with hints of Pernod’s sharper anise action, and with grenadine’s sweet tang (if you don’t make your own grenadine, you’re really not being fair to the moms), and with the deep herbal underpinnings of Scrappy’s classic Orange bitters, all of that together all being the lovely combination alluded to at the beginning of this sentence, this combination is sure to charm moms, and you, too, even if having it for no holiday at all, just cause it tastes awesomely awesome.

The Whizz Bang Cocktail

The Whizz Bang

Ice cubes

1-1/2 ounces Woodinville Whiskey Co. bourbon

3/4 ounce dry vermouth

1/4 ounce Pernod

1/4 ounce homemade grenadine (recipe at the end of the As Luck Would Have it cocktail recipe)

2 dashes Scrappy’s Orange bitters

 1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the bourbon, vermouth, Pernod, grenadine, and orange bitters. Shake well.

2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Present it to mom (or drink it yourself if mom isn’t available).

April 12, 2024

What I’m Drinking: The R56 Sparkler

Hello springtime! Hello sunshine! Hello flowers (sadly, hello allergies, too)! Hello brunches! Which isn’t to say you can’t have brunches and/or late lunches where you feel like it’s brunch even though it’s 1:30 (or 13:30 if on a 24-hour clock system) any time of the year, but somehow spring sunny days seem ideal for brunching. And for brunch drinks! Of which there are many, or many plus one, as I’m adding this here drink the R56 Sparkler to the list, as I made it specially for a brunching/late weekend lunching situation, one in which I needed a specially special drink as said brunch was a birthday occasion, too, and birthday occasions demand special drinks (the birthday-er in question’s name starts with R and I’ll give you a guess what birthday it was). Demand them!

But how to have it be special? Well, for me, I started with Brovo’s new-ish American Aperitivo, a made-in-Washington treat that combins a host of delights – hibiscus, bilberry, Schisandra berry, grapefruit, lemon, orange, and Gentian root – into one flavorful, but light and bright and friendly, sipper, one that’s balanced, accessible, and still has a cheeky quick bittery kiss at the end of a sip. It seems they designed it to pair with tequila, but here I’ve let it shine without a base spirit. But with a few partners! First, Salish Sea’s Ginger liqueur. For some really sad and tragic reasons, it can be hard to find (though I think it is still out there — grab any you see). I’ve kept a couple bottles in reserve for special occasions because it’s the best ginger liqueur I’ve had. Luckily, there are other good ones you can sub in, because the hint of ginger goes swell here. As does Scrappy’s amazing Black Lemon bitters. The finest – or most intriguing? – cocktail bitters being made currently? Perhaps! To those three freakishly good friends, I also added some fresh orange juice (one of the standards in brunch drinks), and a little soda to bring it all together. The end result is a seriously sippable number, one whose citrus and spice notes pair perfectly with brunching – and with birthdays!

The R56 Sparkler, a drink with American Aperitivo, Black Lemon bitters, ginger liqueur, oj, and soda

The R56 Sparkler

2 ounces Brovo American Aperitivo

3/4 ounces Salish Sea Ginger liqueur

1 dash Scrappy’s Black Lemon bitters

2 ounces freshly-squeezed orange juice

Ice cubes

3 ounces chilled club soda

1. Add the first four liquids lovelies to a mixing glass or cocktail shaker. Stir well.

2. Fill a highball or comparable glass three quarters full with ice cubes. Strain the mix from Step 1 through a fine strainer into the glass. Top with the soda, stir carefully to mix, enjoy!

March 29, 2024

What I’m Drinking: Sprezza Rosso

Sprezza Rossa and Pizza

I’ve mentioned the delicious canned Sprezza spritz-style drinks made up here in WA before, and I’m sure I’ll do it again, because they are awesomely awesome. The Blanco variety is delish, and so so swell in summer, and there’s a newer Rose’ that is dreamy, but today I’m sipping the Sprezza Rosso side of the trio. Made from Mancino Rosso vermouth, Scrappy’s Orange bitters (hence the Washington connection if you were wondering), and sparkling mineral water, it delivers a swirl of effervescent rhubarb, burnt orange, and caramel with an ending brisk bitter kiss. Bellissimo! And – which you might expect given its Italian connection – Sprezza Rosso goes perfectly with a good slice of pizza. So, that’s what we’re having today, amici!

Sprezza Rosso

Ice cubes

1 can Sprezza Rosso

Orange twist

1. Couldn’t be easier: fill a wine glass three-quarters up with ice cubes. Pour the Sprezza over the ice and in the glass. Twist the twist, and drop it in. Take a bite of slice, take a sip of Sprezza.

March 1, 2024

What I’m Drinking: Full Moon Over Washington

It is not a full moon today, but that does not mean you can’t drink this delicious drink – really, you can have it any day! It’s that good. I say ‘umbly. And, also, you may not be in the Pacific Northwest today – you can still have this drink if not, though I should warn you it is a very PNW drink, as all of the ingredients are made up this way (actually all are made in WA state proper, but as we’re – me typing in WA now – a part of the PNW, thought I’d stretch a bit). But most I feel are available outside of these hallowed longitude/latitude coordinates, luckily! What are said ingredients? I am glad you asked. First up, is Browne Family Spirits Bourbon, a hit in the late-winter, looking-at-spring days we’re currently in, due to its campfire-echo and oak aroma, wispy smoke-and-pepper finish, and lovely browned-buttered sweetness (it carries a nice warming 90-proofness, too). That taste goes lovely-like with a seriously individual amaro here, Brovo #14 Amaro, whose recipe was created by Mike Ryan and combines singularly Guatemalan chocolate, thyme, cinnamon, sarsaparilla, angelica, and vanilla. One of a kind! With all that choco-buttery-goodness, it only felt right (and tasted right, after some testing) to bring in some orange-ness, and here that’s coming via another Brovo hit, Tacoma Punk, made from half unsweetened Brovo Orange Curacao and half of their Amaro #4, with the end result’s slightly spicy orange flavor mingling mightily with our first two ingredients. But one more note felt needed, to me, when designing this moony number, and following along the theory that if you have four or more ingredients one should be bitters, the last addition is Scrappy’s Aromatic bitters. Made via an herb maceration, this classically-styled bitters is ideally balanced and adds a bit of herb and spice goodness that bring the drink together. A treat, I tell you, no matter what the moon looks like above you when drinking. But as it is called Full Moon Over Washington, I’ve added a cherry for garnish to stand in for the moon, in case, to cover all phases, so to speak (oh, the cherry goes perfectly, taste-wise, too).

Full Moon Over Washington Cocktail

Full Moon Over Washington

Cracked ice

2-1/4 ounces Browne Family Spirits bourbon

3/4 ounces Brovo Amaro #14

1/2 ounce Tacoma Punk orange liqueur

Dash Scrappy’s Aromatic bitters

Maraschino cherry, for garnish

1. Fill a mixing glass or cocktails shaker halfway full with cracked ice. Add all but the moon. Wait, I mean all but the cherry. Stir well.

2. Strain into a cocktail glass, add the cherry, carefully. Howl, if you must.

February 2, 2024

What I’m Drinking: Thy Noble Father

February is here, a month known for hearts and presidents and the birthdays of famous dog-owners (the last very subjective). As the presidents in reference here, in this month, calendarically are those who kick-started or had serious impact on the US, we’re talking males, fathers or father figures or both, and perhaps bourbon lovers (conjecture, unless time machines are on offer), and historically sort-of noble (naturally history is written by those who, well, are able to write it, and without the aforementioned time machines hard to declare nobility – which is a hard word to define anyway – in a way, but go with it, okay), which makes this the ideal month for this drink. A noble drink, I may say, especially if you live in and love WA state (as I do, in the main), as nearly every ingredient here is from WA – oranges excepted. We’re talking some seriously tasty state stalwarts, too: Woodinville Whiskey Co.’s delicious straight bourbon, Brovo Spirits’ bouncy Orange Curaçao, and Scrappy’s uniquely awesome Black Lemon bitters. Plus, a dollop of Seattle Distilling Company’s beautiful brandy – if you have it. That latter is hard to come by, unless you hoarded (like me) a last sip from a limited-release bottling. If you weren’t so lucky (or forward-thinking), then sub in another reputable brandy, please. It shouldn’t make the drink too less noble. It is a swell sipper, for February – or any ol’ month in the year.

Thy Noble Father cocktail with Woodinville bourbon, Brovo curacao, Scrappy's Black Lemon bitters, and more
I originally made this for NewDay Northwest, as evidenced by the snappy wallpaper behind the drink!

Thy Noble Father

Cracked ice

1-1/2 ounces Woodinville Whiskey Co. Straight Bourbon

3/4 ounce Brovo Spirits Orange Curaçao

1/2 ounce Seattle Distilling Company Brandy

Dash Scrappy’s Black Lemon Bitters

Wide orange twist, for garnish

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

2. Strain into a cocktail or coupe glass. Garnish with the twist.

January 5, 2024

What I’m Drinking: The Four Winds

As another year rolls us round the sun, here’s a liquid wish of sorts that the four winds all blow pleasantly for you this year (whatever that means – it certainly sounds nice, I feel, which is a positive), without any one direction overwhelming. If you’re of a traveling bent, you can also take it as a wish that said winds blow you to whatever corner of the world you’re traveling to, and safely. The drink itself is blowing us to England, first, via solid, reliable, junipery Boodles gin, secondly to France, via the delectable Pierre Ferrand Orange curaçao, thirdly to Colorado thanks to the echoing-the-alpine-peaks Breckenridge Bitters, and then finally to the island of Trinidad through a dash of Angostura bitters. Plus, a stop-by at Florida or California or wherever your oranges come from (as there is an orange twist). Have one of these now, and then may fair four winds blow fairly on us all this year.

Four Winds Cocktail

Four Winds

Cracked ice

1-1/2 ounces Boodles gin

1 ounce Pierre Ferrand Orange curaçao

1/2 ounce Breckenridge Bitters

1 dash Angostura bitters

Orange twist, for garnish

1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add the gin, curaçao, Breckenridge bitters, and Angostura bitters. Stir well.

2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with the orange twist.  Drink four times, once looking each direction.

December 22, 2023

What I’m Drinking: One More Look

Here’s a pretty number, one which might make a swell, delicate (though flavorsome), boozy bouquet for your post-Christmas (if you celebrate such) sipping, or for consuming during the late morning hours when the presents have been most-probably opened, and when you’ve had perhaps almost enough of the fam’, and when a drink might make the rest of the day smoother. No judging here, friend! This is also a swell number for having before the year ends, as the name itself points towards giving ol’ 2023 (in this case) another viewing. Was it all you imagined? If not, or if so, this drink’s combination of Hangar 1’s intriguing (and light) Rose Vodka (now available most spots, it seems), made from, well, rose wine and vodka, and a whole field’s worth of flowers, from older classics crème di violette and Lillet Blanc to newer classic Scrappy’s Lavendar bitters, this very combination will help you imagine even more things for next year, once that one final look at last year is gone. A holiday helped on all sides, really. Try it, and see.

One More Look cocktail with Hangar 1 Rosé vodka, crème di violette, Lillet Blanc, and Scrappy’s Lavender bitters

One More Look

Cracked ice

2 ounces Hangar 1 Rosé vodka

3/4 ounce crème di violette

1/2 ounce Lillet Blanc

Dash Scrappy’s Lavender bitters

Wide lemon twist, for garnish

1. Fill a mixing glass or cocktail shaker halfway full with cracked iced. Add every blossom (or everything). Stir.

2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with the lemon twist. Enjoy, enjoy.

December 15, 2023

What I’m Drinking: The Frank Morgan

Frank Morgan was a character actor whose career started in the silents and then moved into the talkies. He’s perhaps most well-known as the Wizard (and corresponding characters) in the original Wizard of Oz, but had a full movie (and radio!) career, lots of roles, lots of parts. All of this Wikipedia will happily tell you. What it won’t tell you is that he also gave his name to this here cocktail, which combines rich dark rum (we’re going Bacardi Gran Reserva Especial) with nutty sherry (Williams & Humbert Dry Sack Medium sherry to be precise), and Angostura bitters. Okay, it’s not a completely agreed upon fact (though we are in the post-fact age, right? Right) that this drink is named for him, but I found it in Crosby Gaige’s Standard Cocktail Guide, 1944 edition, and as Mr. Gaige was a theatrical New Yorker, I think we can take it on fact that this is indeed named for Frank Morgan the actor. Also, since I am probably the only person to have made this cocktail (which is, by the way, a very good, balanced drink, that lets the rum shine heartily, while adding just enough herbal and nutty notes around the edges to elevate) since the middle of last century, I believe I can make the call. And also that I can add an orange twist to the original recipe without having to suffer Mr. Gaige’s disdain from the afterlife. If you have one, it’ll help, naturally. So, whatcha waiting for?

The Frank Morgan cocktail

The Frank Morgan

2-1/4 ounces Bacardi Gran Reserva Especial dark rum

3/4 ounces Williams & Humbert Dry Sack Medium sherry

Dash Angostura bitters

Thin orange twist, for garnish

1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add all but the twist. Stir well.

2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with the twist. Sip. We’re off to the see the Wizard . . .

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