I love the song Mood Indigo, especially when Ella Fitzgerald sings the Duke Ellington tune with Duke playing. It’s moody, though, in melancholy sense, which for me makes it not a perfect brunch accompaniment (brunch being more of a sunshine-y affair). You know what it a good brunch accompaniment? This drink, Mood Lavender, named with a nod to the aforementioned song. And yes, that was the most random connecting of two ideas a drinks blog has ever had, but I couldn’t resist! I also couldn’t resist using the newish Unicorn vodka (a bottle of which recently showed up in the mail – don’t be mad at my luck, friend) to make a drink that had a color in the name.
Why, you might ask? Well, I’m here to tell you why! It’s because Unicorn vodka is infused with butterfly pea flowers, naturally. What does that do? First, it makes the vodka a deep cobalt-y color. Second, it means the vodka changes color when mixed into a drink with certain other ingredients. Like magic! Drink magic. It’s also infused with a touch of tangerine and rose hips (and based on corn if memory serves). None of the botanicals are so prevalent to take it into flavored vodka realm (a realm which can be dangerous), but do add an echo of the botanical to the taste and aroma. It’s a smooth sipper, too, a vodka you wouldn’t be sad to have solo, perhaps with a cube of ice or two.
But how (I can hear you from here), how does the magic work? The bottle itself says on the back that if you add a squeezed lime wedge or some soda it changes to purple, and two lime wedges or more soda changes it to pink, and that is true and a simple way to test your own sorcerous powers. Other ingredients can have the same effect, however, opening up the options. When working up my own Unicorn vodka cocktail idea, I found lemon a nice match (which also adds that acidic citrus umph to assist in the color changing) with the vodka, so started there. More pals to bring to our cocktail party did prove challenging, in a fun way. See, there’s a flavor component, as always, to think about, but here also a color one. I know color and the visuals are important no matter what, but felt here, even moreso. I wanted to keep the vodka’s color front and center, see.
Which led to some testing, but eventually I went with four more ingredients. First, I felt a true (meaning, not with extra sugar and stupid stuff added, just the pure distilled fruit) fruit brandy would be nice. And another Washington distillery, Oomrang, makes a delicious Donut Peach eau de vie, one that has that layered donut (or Saturn) peach flavor and a dry sweetness. It’s a beauty of a brandy, and a gold-medal winner, and went wonderfully. Two base spirits can give a lot of umph, so rounded out the edges with simple syrup. Good, so far, but needed another layer, and decided, rightly, to follow along the peach road, with a good dash of Fee Brothers fragrant Peach Bitters. A pretty yummy drink right there, but as I was serving it at brunch, decided to lighten it up a touch with club soda. I though long about going with brunch favorite Champagne, but felt the drink had enough punch and enough sweetness, so: soda!
And, if I can say so humbly, it’s a joy of a drink, light, layered, nice on the nose and tongue. And so so pretty! The lemon juice and perhaps the soda took Unicorn’s cobalt hue down a few notches on the dark scale (perhaps the brandy and bitters and simple pitched in as well), but as all but the lemon were clear in color, it kept a radiance that I quite liked. You might, too!
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the vodka, brandy, lemon juice, bitters, and simple. Shake.
2. Strain through a fine strainer into a thin stemmed flute-ish glass, or another glass if you so desire.
3. Top with the soda. Stir briefly, gently. Add an ice cube if you think your soda isn’t chilled enough. Or if you want to. It’s all about the cool, and that means keeping your cool, too. Garnish with a duo of butterfly pea flowers.
Note: I had butterfly pea flowers around (they also came in the mail), and they made such a pretty little garnish I couldn’t resist using them for such. If you don’t have them, don’t fret. You could also go with a lemon twist. It would add a touch more lemon, but that wouldn’t be bad, I don’t think.
When the weather is cold and getting colder (as it is for us here in the northwest), it’s best to look towards those creatures who might be more used to the chillier temperatures than us puny humans. Take the Walrus, for instance. Large-tusked, able to navigate icy waters as if they were a warm bath, singing Walrus songs the whole time, and willing to shake up this warming cocktail between dips. You may not have known that not only does the Walrus provide the title here, but in addition created the delicious rye, sweet vermouth (Punt e’ Mes is my choice), Cointreau, simple, orange bitters (I used Scrappy’s, naturally), combo. I may, between us, be making that up. Not the delicious part, but the walrus creation part. But how cool if I’m not! Either way, this’ll keep you warm while you ponder the idea.
It’s nearly Halloween, the hauntingest holiday of the year, so gather round my ghoulish tell-tale heart tipplers, and let ol’ uncle Spiked Punch spin you spooktacular story about brandy, Strega, limoncello, orange juice, and Peychaud’s bitters, a soulclencher (in the most delightfully demonic way) of a witch’s brew we call the Warlock. See below video for details, but one warning: watching may make you thrill-seekers thirsty as a vampire at midsummer. Second warning: consuming Warlock cocktails can turn you into a zombie magician. Now you know!
While summer doesn’t officially start until, what, a month or thereabout from now, I’m always in my (very old) brain beginning to think “summer” in force on Memorial Day weekend, which is to say, right now! Summer only has a short “lease” (to bring us all together to the all together of this drink’s name), so I like to stretch it out longer than the calendar specifics. I’d say you can disagree, but, really, I doubt many would as it’s a fairly innocuous or unmemorable thought. This drink, however, is very memorable (if I may be so bold and not blush, as I created it), thanks to a double shot of rum – both white rum and the fancy Stiggins’ Fancy Pineapple rum, which is a delight to nature – a splash of herbally-but-approachably-awesome Montenegro amaro (most popular amaro in Italy by-the-way), pineapple juice (the juice epitome of summer), Scrappy’s Lime bitters (which if it would have been around during the first tiki wave, that wave would have never stopped), soda (for cooling and bubbly purposes), and fresh mint. It’s a treat all summer long, no matter how many days you want to celebrate the season.
This drink is no joke. Though tomorrow is of course April Fool’s Day! And because of which, we will all be fools tomorrow (well, in a manner of speaking since it’s now a part of the Gregorian calendar more-or-less, at least in many parts of the world, and as most – or all – use said calendar currently, well, “we will all be fools tomorrow” makes some sense). So, having a tasty drink that is, by it’s very name, a paradise for all us fools at the ready, well, it seems the smart thing, even for fools. Did you know, as a side note, that no-one is exactly sure where April Fool’s Day started, but that it has been going on for centuries, back to say maybe the 13th, but definitely probably the 14th or 15th? Wowza, that’s a lotta fools. Sadly, the ingredients contained herein weren’t available back then – sadly for those living then, that is. Luckily for you, all four of the below are available now. No foolin’!
I love this drink – love it! And, as it’s the lover’s month, so to speak, felt I should kick things off with a drink I love. And this is it! Funny enough, was thinking about it recently over the past holiday season, when making it for some holiday pals. See, I always couched it in a sorta murder mystery persona (if cocktails have personas, which I believe they do), the drop of crimson blood on the slippers giving Miss Marple the needed clue (or whomever detective you desire, I’m feeling Marple-y) to solve the mystery. But, during this holiday season and discussion, a thought popped into my addled mind – wouldn’t Santa have slippers the color of crimson? Maybe? Maybe! So, that meant this could be a holiday drink, too. Either way, I love it. You will do. No matter what holiday you’re sipping it on.
Here’s a nice kettle of booze. Perhaps (due to its minty-crushed-ice-y-fruit-y nature) this is more of a spring and early summer – or late summer – number? But I was feeling the need for some summer feeling, and so decided to revisit it as a mid-winter splash of sunshine. And really, the whiskey base certainly helps warm those winter blues. Maybe it should just be had on sunny winter days? Or maybe whenever one darn well feels like it! Drinking should be fun and not an ever-involved thought exercise, anyway. The first time I made this, I utilized Tommyrotter Distillery Triple Barrel American whiskey (which had happily shown up via the post), but this time I wanted to try a bourbon, and wanted to go local, and so went with Woodinville Whiskey’s award-winning (and always reliable!) Straight Bourbon. The slight sweetness and memorable spice went decidedly well with the fruit and mint notes (might be hard in winter to find good mint, depending on where you are, but stick with it! To the bold come the spoils and all that) I felt. Really, a lush lovely drink, no matter when drunk.
Our recent Graham Greene Cocktail Talking (don’t miss The Comedians Cocktail Talk and This Gun for Hire Cocktail Talk, plus more Graham Greene’s from the past) continues, this time with The Heart of the Matter, which I recently re-read, and in which they drink a lot of Pink Gins, and sweat a lot, too. It’s a classic in the more serious Greene vein, steeped in immaculate, elegant, prose, alongside delving into the interactions and motivations of the main character, including a deep look in his Catholic beliefs and how they cause in a way part of the action to unfurl. Not for the faint of reading heart, neccessarily. But for those who like gin!
“What about you, darling?” He turned quickly away from her and began to fix two more Pink Gins. There was a tacit understanding between them that ‘liquor helped;’ growing more miserable with every glass one hoped for the moment of relief.
“You don’t really want to know about me.”
“Of course I do, darling. What sort of a day have you had?”
“Ticki, why are you such a coward? Why don’t you tell me it’s all off?”
“You know what I mean – the passage. You’ve been talking and talking since you came in about the Esperanca. There’s a Portuguese ship in once a fortnight. You don’t talk that way every time. I’m not a child, Ticki. Why don’t you say straight out – you can’t go?”
He grinned miserably at his glass, twisting it round and round to let the Angostura cling along the curve.
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