August 18, 2017
At this point in the summer, it’s best to be sure you’re surrounded by pals and easy-to-build drinks that are scaled for more than just you. Summertime, late summertime especially, isn’t the time for quiet solo contemplation after all. It’s time for simple and swell parties with the below mix (also good to have fruit juice, to ensure you don’t get sick during these late summer weeks, and brandy because, well, brandy needs you and you need brandy – but that’s as much contemplation as we want). Oh, this’ll serve around eight, depending on how hot it is. If it’s really hot, might want to keep it to, oh, six, seven max. And get extra ice.
Power to the People, from Dark Spirits
2 peaches, pitted and sliced
2 apricots, pitted and sliced
4 ounces Simple Syrup
8 ounces brandy
4 ounces freshly squeezed orange juice
One 750-milliliter bottle chilled Prosecco
Orange slices for garnish
1. Combine the peaches, apricots, and simple syrup in a sturdy pitcher, the kind you use when outdoors in the summer. Using a muddler or long wooden spoon, muddle the fruit and syrup well.
2. Fill the pitcher halfway full with ice cubes, and then add the brandy and orange juice into the pitcher’s melody. Stir well.
3. Carefully add the Prosecco and orange slices. Stir again, well. Serve in wine glasses, getting a slice of orange in each glass.
A Note: There will be some leftover fruit here – you should eat it! Or, if that kind of thing makes you icky (well, it shouldn’t in summer, but who am I to judge), you could actually strain out the bigger bits, early in the process. But I wouldn’t.
June 27, 2017
I earlier had a Day Keene Cocktail Talk (there are many Day Keene’s here on the Spiked Punch, cause he’s grand in the pulp way) from the story collection Death March of the Dancing Dolls (one of a series of collections of his pulp mag stories and yarns and legends and tales). But guess what – one was not enough! I almost forgot about the below beaut, which reminds us how long two of my favorites have been coupling in glasses and people’s minds. Sadly, the gent rolling it out isn’t, oh, the most lovable of narrators, and . . . well, you’ll have to read the story!
The only bright spot in the picture was Connie. She’d been a hasher when I met her, and a good one. She took to the job in the joint across from the City Hall like Benedictine to brandy.
–Day Keene, Mighty Like a Rogue
June 16, 2017
It’s morning, and nearly the beginning of summer, which means I (as I always do) am going to sit myself down and have a Baltimore Bracer and read Thomas Osborne Davis’ “The Sack of Baltimore:”
The summer sun is falling soft on Carbery’s hundred isles,
The summer sun is gleaming still through Gabriel’s rough defiles;
Old Innisherkin’s crumbled fane looks like a moulting bird,
And in a calm and sleepy swell the ocean tide is heard:
The hookers lie upon the beach; the children cease their play;
The gossips leave the little inn; the households kneel to pray;
And full of love, and peace, and rest, its daily labor o’er,
Upon that cosy creek there lay the town of Baltimore.
Well, at least that first stanza. Hmm, I sorta think I may be reading at least one word differently than he meant it.
1-1/2 ounces brandy
1-1/2 ounces anisette
1 egg white, preferably organic
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with cracked ice. Add the brandy, anisette, and egg white. Shake well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass.
May 26, 2017
As all know, I am fond of many local WA-state distillers, and one of my very favorites (you probably know this too, having been reading this blog for years and years, correct?) is a distillery on a farm – farm and distillery all the same fine folks – in a valley outside of Kent, WA, a distillery called Sidetrack. Not only do they deliver fine products using produce grown on their farm, but they also have a beautiful event space in a refurbished old barn. Super swell stuff. While they get a lot of deserved plaudits for their liqueurs (from fruit to walnut-based Nocino to more exotic fare like my favorite Lemon Verbena), they also make clear, European-style, fruit brandies. Delicious, strong, and hopefully liquids more Americans will start sipping. I think my favorite Sidetrack brandy – though I like them all – is Strawberry. It’s like the essence of strawberry, the Platonic ideal, while being robust and umph-y. It is a spirit, after all. I like it so much that I wanted to create a drink with it, but it was tough (as it can be with many fruit brandies) at first, due to user error. Hahaha. But I kept at it, and eventually went with a favorite dessert inspiration, the king of dessert drinks, the Alexander. Then, after a bunch of tweaks, the below emerged, and is lush, layered, and if I can say while being humble, pretty darn wonderful. Good after dinner both because of its hints of dessert and because of its strong backbone.
1-1/2 ounces Sidetrack Strawberry brandy
1 ounce Depth crème de cacao
1 ounce heavy cream
1/2 ounce maple syrup
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add everything. Shake really well. Really well!
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Dream of orchards.
A Note: An actual strawberry would make a fine garnish here, but sadly I was strawberry deficient.
May 16, 2017
If you missed our first bout of May Maigret Cocktail Talking, and want to learn more about the burglaring, then by all means, please go read Part I. I’ll wait.
Back? Awesome! Let’s get into our second quote, which is taking place in a small bistro, with Maigret questioning the publican (or, here, I suppose, bisto-lican), who relates a story of said lazy burglar and his desire for . . . well, just read it, why dontcha.
“I was busy with the coffee percolator. I didn’t hear any footsteps. And when I turned round, there he was, leaning on the bar. It gave me quite a turn.”
“That’s why you remembered it?”
“And for another reason, because he asked me if I had any real Kirsch, not the fancy stuff. . . We don’t get too many orders for that. I took a bottle from the back row – that one there, with the German words on the label – and he seemed pleased. He said:
“‘That’s the real thing.’”
“He took the time to warm the glass in his hand, and drank slowly, looking at the clock. I realized he was wondering whether to ask for another, and when I held out the bottle he didn’t say no.”
— George Simenon, Maigret and the Lazy Burglar
May 9, 2017
It’s May, which means this is the perfect time for some Maigret-based Cocktail Talks (because both words start with M – seems like a great reason to me). If for some absolutely insane reason you don’t know who Maigret is, well, friend, you’re in for a treat. He’s the Parisian Police Inspector who stars in many, many mysteries written by the prolific George Simenon. I’ve read a fair amount of Maigret stories and novels, and yet I feel there are still a whole bunch yet to discover – I’m in for treats, too! This particular book revolves around some Paris police and judiciary intrigues, a very proficient and friendly burglar found dead early in the morning, and a series of hold-ups. As well as a series of drinks – Maigret being fond of a number of liquor’d libations (read more about it all here). There’s enough good Cocktail Talk-ing in this tale that I thinks I’m going to have to have multiple quotes, starting with this one (where, funny enough, Maigret isn’t drinking at all):
“Haven’t you anything to drink?”
“No. It’s for you. I’d like you to take a nip of something.”
He remembered she was fond of her glass, and at this, sure enough, she went to the dining-room sideboard and brought out a bottle of plum brandy.
Even at such a moment as this, she could resist cheating a bit.
“I was keeping it for my son . . . He sometimes took a drop after dinner.”
— George Simenon, Maigret and the Lazy Burglar
April 21, 2017
I would never ask the question (being happily married with the bestest wife in the whole wide world – the universe, even) from which this drink takes its name. But Crosby Gaige sure would. Not sure why, and sadly I can’t ask him, as he’s currently tippling (with his wife, perhaps, for all I know, or husband, or alien companion, if we’re getting universal. I’m sure no species-ist) in that great big bar in the afterlife. See, this comes from his book (a jolly one, by the way, if you ever see a copy) from way back in 1941, Crosby Gaige’s Cocktail Guide and Ladies Companion. This particular drink is from “The Department of the Charentes or Brandy Department” chapter, and I was looking for a brandy a drink the other day, and realized, hey, I’d never tried this, and so even though I know many good answers to the drink’s name, I made it anyway. And it’s an interesting mix, because really (oh that joker Crosby), it’s a gin drink, with brandy (and Cointreau, and lemon juice) playing smaller parts. It might have just a stitch too much lemon juice for most modern palates, but I found it refreshing, and like the way the brandy sidekick’d to the gin, with that Cointreau underneath really, and the lemon bright up top. No matter what your views on material status, give it a whirl.
1-1/2 ounces gin (dryer the better)
1/2 ounce brandy
1/2 ounce Cointreau
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with cracked ice. Shake well (yes! I know this all goes against traditional ice/shake/stir/mumbo/jumbo. But this is how Crosby did it, and it worked for me, too).
2. Strain through a fine strainer into a cocktail glass. Drink up. Then walk down that aisle!
March 31, 2017
It’s spring right? I mean, according the calendar and all, spring started way back on the 20th. You’re frolicking right? In a meadow? Please tell me you are frolicking. FROLICKING! It’s spring, after all, when meadows should be begging to be frolicked in, as well as various other springtime spring-y-nesses. If you haven’t started your frolicking engines, then I suggest you drink a couple Ognams. They start the spring frolicking in a perfect way. Try it out – but be sure you have your frolicking clothes on.
Ognam, from Dark Spirits
1 1/2 ounces brandy
2 1/2 ounces mango juice
1/2 ounce Aperol
Chilled club soda
Lemon slice for garnish
1. Fill a highball or comparable glass with ice cubes. Add the brandy, mango juice, and Aperol. Stir well.
2. Fill the glass almost to the top with club soda. Stir again, well. Squeeze the lemon slice over the glass and drop it in. Frolic!