Beyond the fact that this is a tasty drink – double bitters, bourbon, bubbly, Cointreau – I love the story of the Seelbach. It was once thought an uncovered treasure found in some ancient texts, and brought out of the mists of time for the drinkers of the future. But, turns out, the whole story was made up. Cocktails should have histories like this, sometimes, cause drinking should be fun (also, to read the whole story in more detailed, check it out on Liquor.com) and sometimes made up stories are fun, too. Heck, it tricked me, but I still believe it’s fun, and like drinking the Seelbach, too. Try it, and I’m guessing you will, as well.
Haha, I stole this drink name from a line in a comic written by genius writer and all-around good chap Paul Tobin. It’s such as momentous name! And this is such a springtime-y drink, one you might have as the sun goes down in early May with your feet up on the porch railing, or one you might have in January when you’re dreaming of that springtime scene. So, sorta opposite of the name, which I find delightful. Of course, you could also have this when battling for time itself, and in a way you might need to, as one of the ingredients is Bluewater Distillery’s Organic Elderflower Cardamom liqueur, so you’ll need to bend time to visit WA if you don’t live here, specifically the city of Everett, which is where Bluewater is located. It’ll be worth it, cause this singular liqueur is a vision, with the botanical elderflower and citrus-y spice of cardamom all mingling together like that spring day I mentioned above. Yummy.
And, while you’re here, you’ll want to pick up the other awesome WA ingredients that make this cocktail so dynamic, starting with Wildwood Spirits’ Läka gin. Though you might not be able to find it, as it’s a limited release (battling for time again!). This gin is/was made from a host of localities, and has a lovely classic gin profile, with strong juniper and spice notes. If you can’t find it, sub in its sibling Kur gin, which is an award-winning gin charmer you don’t want to miss — a touch more citrus, a smidge more lofty botanicals. You also don’t want to miss our third WA star: Scrappy’s Black Lemon bitters. I’ve talked about a bunch this already (in a recipe called Pina’s Potion, and in a recipe called A Moment of Unmixed Happiness, and in an article for Seattle magazine), so all I’ll say here is, it’s one of those ingredients that might change your life. Probably will. Lemony, floral, earthy, there is nothing like it! And I need a bigger bottle today!
All those together, plus a little lemon juice, and I believe you may well win the dynamic battle for time itself! Try a few of these and see.
Ah, the new part of the year, here we are. And here we go with 2019! At this time, it’s good to use some new ingredients to match the New Year, but (I’m not getting deep here, really, but just trying to roll things into the recipe in some sort of fun way. Fun!) also to use some ingredients from the past year. Which leads us to this here drink, and a duo of lovely products from the Woodinville Whiskey Co., from out here in the W-A. Specially, their limited-time Autumn release from last autumn, which was their rye finished with toasted Applewood staves – learn more about it in the Hero of the Fall recipe (which you’ll like, I’ll bet). That, though, is the last year component, while the new is just “new” to me: Woodinville’s maple syrup. I am ashamed to admit that I opened my first bottle only recently, because it’s delicious. They start with grade-A dark maple syrup from the eastern US, which is aged in empty Woodinville bourbon and rye barrels, adding caramel, vanilla, and woodsiness to the syrup. Yummy! Maple syrup isn’t used in drinks enough, and, admittedly, it can take over – but dang, this is good stuff! And matches that Woodinville rye wonderfully, especially with a last addition: Peychaud’s whiskey barrel-aged bitters. More whiskey-barreling! Those deep herbal bitter notes are a third treat here, in our Manhattan-y mixture. It’s a great drink for toasting both the past and the upcoming year (or anything else you need to toast).
Oh, one note: you might want to pull back to the maple syrup to 1/2 ounce. I was feeling it, and went for 3/4s. You get the rye first, with a hint of the syrup, then that syrup comes on, with the bitters and barrely stuff finishing it off. However, it could be a stitch sweet for you, so go as you go.
I’m sorry, I can’t help myself, baby, it’s cold outside. There, I did it, I sung the song that once was neat, and now has sadly been covered into oblivion. A shame, really. What’s not a shame on a cold-outside-day is this winter Washington warmer. It’s a curious choco-mix in one manner, in that it mixes hot chocolate and whiskey, which isn’t seen often. Silly, that. Here, the whiskey side is Scratch’s straight whiskey. Scratch (you should know this!) is a delicious distillery out in WA, specifically Edmonds, WA. They make all kinds of bottled things, starting with gins, and moving along. Their whiskey can be hard to get, but is worth tracking down, due to its singular (and single-barrel), mash bill, which utilizes a line-up of “old world” grains I hadn’t seen together before: spelt, millet, white winter wheat, and malted barley. Scrumptious stuff. Also scrumptious, the other WA-made ingredient used here, Salish Sea distillery’s organic allspice liqueur. Salish Sea is from Lacey, WA, and makes an incredible array of all-organic liqueurs, a line-up covering classic flavors and more esoteric numbers. And if that wasn’t enough scrumptiousness, a little Seattle-made Scrappy’s orange bitters adds the final touch here, in a mighty-fine way: you put a few drops on top of the whipped cream topping, and the bitter scents waft up as you drink. So, what are you waiting for? Warm up.
It may, at first glance, not seem for much of the world to be the season for walking outside, no matter how nice your greenery is. However, I find a brisk walk on a chilly-but-sunny day to be invigorating, especially if you do it while sipping this cocktail, and then end it with some nice, hearty, slightly sweet, baked goods. How does that all go together? Well, really, it’s thanks to Everett’s (that’s up here in the W-A for those who don’t know) Bluewater Organic Distilling, who just released their Wintersun aquavit. An organic spirit (like all of theirs), it’s a shout out to distiller John Lundin’s Swedish heritage, and with that has an essence much like the traditional aquavits you might have encountered (though there are tons), but with a distinctive balanced aroma and flavor bringing together caraway, anise, and orange.
I (don’t be jealous – it’s the holiday season) recently got a bottle in the mail and after trying it out solo (which you should too, as it’s worthy all alone), had to try it in a cocktail, too. Because that’s what I do! After playing around with a little of this and a little of that, I found some swell in-the-shaker dancing partners, starting with another Northwest hit, broVo spirits’ (from up here in Woodinville) delicious award-winning cherry liqueur Boomerang. It has a lush cherry-ness combined with a little vanilla, walnut, cinnamon, apricot, and citrus. You can – until you try it – dream about how this would combine perfectly with the Wintersun, and why the baked goods are a good idea. However! That wasn’t it. After much liquid hemming-and-hawing, I felt a little bit more of this and that was needed. And the this was old pal maraschino liqueur, and the that was Scrappy’s legendary Cardamom bitters. They rounded that spice and fruit level out to eleven. The shrubbery will feel overjoyed to have you walking through it with this mix – and you’ll be pretty happy about it, too.
Though, admittedly, there are a fair amount of decent ones out there now-a-days, I’m still a little wary of flavored vodkas. Don’t get me wrong, unlike some, I like a good vodka, one with a crisp clear taste – but have just been scared off by pre-flavored vodka nonsense in the past, where the chemicals used to created said “flavor” rule the bottle roost, so to speak. However, CA distillery Hangar 1 is pretty reliably high on the standards, and their Mandarin Blossom, especially is an old fav. So, when I recently (I know, I’m lucky!) received a bottle of their latest in the mail, I was inclined to be welcoming.
But it was a rosé vodka! Which I’d never heard of. However (again!), I am nothing if not adventuresome, so, combining that with Hangar 1’s rep, I decided to dive in (metaphorically), and – I was glad I did! Here’s the skinny: it mixes Hangar 1’s vodka and California rosé wine. That’s it. Neighbors combining together, without anything else. It has a clean, floral, apple-y nose, and an also a clean, fresh taste, with a real rosé-ness, with more floral notes and a bit of fresh berry, and a nice dry finish. It’s good all alone over a little ice, a hit for spring and summer when you want something that’s smooth, but which has a little umph. But it’s a smart choice in fall and winter, too, when you want a dream of spring and summer.
But, as you’d expect from something made with two good neighbors, it’s neighborly playing with others in cocktails – and I didn’t wait long to start playing around with it and others. Because of those floral, botanical notes, I ended up traveling down a bouquet-ish road after trying a few things, bringing in some delicate and delicious crème di violette, and wine-based delicately herbal French aperitif Lillet Blanc (a distant cousin of sorts to our vodka, due to the wine connection). The final part of this flowery fête was a few dashes of Scrappy’s lovely Lavender bitters. All together, you’ll take many looks with One More Look, as the layers of floral fun are sure to be a hit.
If you’ve forgotten (though how could you, marketing being the horror that it is), tomorrow is Halloween! I’m guessing you have your costume set, but what about your drink? If not, then remember the Warlock! It has brandy, Strega, limoncello, orange juice, and Peychaud’s bitters. It will, when consumed, turn you into a zombie magician as the below video shows. But hey, it’s Halloween, that’s what you want!
While not all of you live in wondrous WA, I don’t want you to feel I’m taunting you (you could come here and explore our distilleries, should even) by having a drink that features an ingredient you have to be here to pick up. C’mon over! And pick up a bottle of Woodinville Whiskey Co.’s 2018 Autumn Release, a Toasted Applewood Finished Rye. See, every year, the fine folks at Woodinville have an autumn release, and it’s quite an event – folks start lining up the day before to get a signed and number bottle in a commemorative wooden case. And, of course, to get the limited-edition whiskey within. This year’s takes the distillery’s 100% Rye Whiskey and adds toasted Applewood staves. Which brings out lovely apple notes mingling with the rye’s caramel and spices: cinnamon, clove, and more, all at 100 proof. It’s a great fall whiskey, and one that you might like to sit and sip solo – or with a few drops of water, or an ice cube, as the case may be – as the temperature chills.
But, it’s also a whiskey that can add beautiful background and flavor to a winter or fall cocktail, and recently I came up with a memorable one using it. For the first partner in this drink (again, don’t be upset those not living here – as you’re coming out for the rye, you can load up on a bunch of local lovelies), I went with another fall and winter favorite, Raft’s Cranberry Five Spice syrup. Raft products are made all-naturally in Portland, OR by the same folks who make the Bitter Housewife bitters and such. While “syrup” often equates with “sweet,” this one is only subtly sweet (and has no preservatives, high-fructose corn syrup, or any of that nastiness), and leans more into tart, thanks to the addition of Starvation Alley (a farm in Long Beach, WA) cranberries. Beyond the cranberry, this delivers more holiday spices: ginger, star anise, cinnamon, cloves. It seemed the ideal match for the rye. And it was!
But we needed to invite some more friends to this fall party-in-a-glass, and I wanted to keep it local, and bring even more of those spice notes, and so added Italian-by-way-of-Seattle Letterpress Distillery’s Amaro Amarino. Carrying a little of that traditional amaro bitter, but also more baking spices and a hint of orange, it fit right in. Our final player is Scrappy’s Aromatic bitters, which underlines everything with a final herbal and spice touch. Altogether now! This is an ideal drink for before Thanksgiving or any fall or winter holiday, but perhaps an even better one for after the meal. When sipping it, it introduces itself with the whiskey festival of grain, oak, and the beginnings of the spice, transitioning into apple and fruit and more spice, and then finishing on a little tang from the cranberries and a kiss of sweetness from the syrup – with spices throughout. One to savor like a good meal, and one to savor with good friends.
The Man Behind the Evening's PlansA.J. Rathbun is a freelance food and entertainment writer, poet and author, a frequent guest on the Everyday Food program (Martha Stewart Living/Sirius satellite radio), and is a contributor to culinary & entertainment magazines such as Every Day with Rachael Ray, The Food Network Magazine, Real Simple, Wine Enthusiast, and many others. Of course, there's so much more to it than that...Read More