August 24, 2021
Not a lesser novel in the whole scope of the novel form, but perhaps considered a lesser Graham Greene novel, Travels with My Aunt is even with that brief and not-awe-inducing intro phrase a worthy read. In a nutshell: slightly boring chap takes early retirement to be slightly boring, but then runs into his “aunt” who is an eccentric traveler and jolly woman, who then takes said chap (Henry Pulling is his name) on adventures and opens his eyes to the world – and unveils family secrets? I won’t give it away – and more travels ensure until it turns out early retirement maybe is much more fun than expected. A good summertime read, and as it’s still summer, jump in (also, it was made into a movie, which is a good summertime watch). But first, the below quote, which is a bubbly favorite. As I’m drinking bubbly right now (you’ll understand this sentiment when you read the below), I feel I have to tell the truth and admit: I’ve had this quote on the blog before. but it’s so good, twice is twice as nice!
Champagne, if you are seeking the truth, is better than a lie detector.
— Graham Greene, Travels with my Aunt
August 3, 2021
A bit of a departure for many fans from his more tense thriller-ific films, To Catch a Thief is still, I believe, a wonderful Hitchcock film. The glamour of the setting and the leads (Cary Grant and Grace Kelly of course), the movement of the lens, the pace, the light suspense and banter, all of it comes together in a summery kind of way that lends itself to repeat viewings. If you haven’t seen it, well, you should. And if you have, but not recently, give it another viewing. It is, in one word, charming. But why (I hear you asking) am I blathering a bit on about it? Well, it was released on this day exactly in 1955! So, that deserves a Cocktail Talk, and the below quote is a dandy one.
“Bourbon’s the only drink. You can take all that champagne stuff and pour it down the English Channel.”
–John Michael Hayes (screenwriter), To Catch a Thief
July 23, 2021
Once, I, and some athletic and newsworthy and hilarious and thirsty and running pals made a very silly Class of the Race video, which you should watch cause you like fun, and you like drinks (or why would you be here). But you can watch it without a pen in hand to write down the recipe for the drink had in the video, The Class of the Race that is, because I have the recipe directly below. It’s a swell sipper, too, one worthy of any race winners, and, though bourbon-based (well, bourbon and bubbly-based), one that I believe can be had in summer, due to said bubbly, chilled. A little simple syrup, to sweeten things up, a little Benedictine, to add those monastically-herbal notes, and a little Peychaud’s bitters to underline it all, round the drink out and make a worthy finishing line for your July Friday.
The Class of the Race, from Dark Spirits
2 ounces bourbon
1 ounce Benedictine liqueur
1/2 ounce simple syrup
2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
Chilled brut Champagne or sparkling wine
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the bourbon, Benedictine, simple syrup, and bitters. Shake well (but not so well that you expire from the effort).
2. Strain the mix into a Champagne flute. Top with the bubbly.
A Note: Pheidippides was the original marathoner, running from Marathon to Athens after a battle in 490 B.C. without stopping once, announcing, “We have won,” and then reportedly dying. I feel this is something you should know when having this, but don’t let it flatten your bubbles.
July 9, 2021
Oh, the life of a 1500’s explorer and colonialist, traipsing around under the sunshine, and probably never having this drink. I mean, without a time machine, I’ll admit, if I knew where and why this particular drink was attached to this particular explorer, I can’t remember it. There is a nice French and the Caribbean tying-in, as the drink features the boldness and beauty of both Cognac and rum, so at least there is some here-to-there-ing happening (though Ponce was from Spain, but let’s bring the Euro together today). However! The drink also contains Cointreau, which naturally came about a little later. And then there’s grapefruit juice and sparkling wine, which might imply a little globe-trotting. It’s a little elegant, which could be like the curve of a conquistador’s helmet, if you want to go along that particular flight of fancy. But overall, I think it’s that if you drink a couple of these, you may decide to go exploring, or at least meander in your mind hither and yon, or at least sit on the couch and watch a program that takes you on a exploration. However! If you want to just enjoy this layered, effervescent, citrus-y, number on a sunshine-y day without worrying about how our explorer name ties in, I certainly wouldn’t hassle you about it.
The Ponce de León, from Dark Spirits
1 ounce Cognac
1/2 ounce white rum
1/2 ounce Cointreau
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
Chilled brut Champagne or sparkling wine
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the Cognac, rum, Cointreau, and grapefruit juice. Shake well.
2. Strain through a fine strainer into saucer-style Champagne glass or cocktail or coupe glass. Fill the glass not quite to the top with the Champagne.
December 25, 2020
Recently (speaking here of just weeks ago, as opposed to minutes ago) here on the Spiked Punch blog, I had a drink called Far More Red, featuring Trentodoc sparkling wine, or wine crafted particularly finely within a particular spot within the Trentino region, if I have everything correctly. The drink was tasty (I say, without hopefully overly-tooting-my-own-horn), and I hope you try it. But today, just days before (well, nearly a week before as the calendar tells us), the bubbliest night of the year (New Year’s Eve, natch), and maybe then, too, I’m having sparkling wine in a non-cocktail-form. That’s right, straight up! But, I’m sticking the a Trentodoc sparkler, so if you haven’t read the Far More Red recipe, then do, cause it has more Trentodoc info, though here I’m having a different wine (that showed in the mail, also, probably from Santa) than there. Today, it’s: Monfort Riserva Brut. Made in the same classical method, sure, but here we have a grape combo of 80% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Nero, grown in vineyards that lie between 400 and 600 meters above sea level on hills where lie the towns of Meano, Vigo Meano, Cortesano, Gazzadina, and other spots I need to visit. What’s it all mean? A full frizzante, a delicate but flavorsome wine, a mix of floral, strawberry, pear, Honeycrisp apples, and an echo of fresh pastry (well, that’s my take), a sparkling wine ideal for pre-dinner sipping, but also, to me, one that’s ideal for sipping with that special someone as one year ticks away into another. Try it next week and see! Also, happy holidays!
November 20, 2020
You know, 2020 hasn’t been overly-packed with good days. There have been some, I’m sure and I’m hoping, for everyone, some big-ish good days, and some small-ish good days, even within it all. I had one recently when some bubbly showed up here, which made the day more, well, bubbly. It was also bubby from Italy (you know I love Italy, right?), specifically Trentodoc sparkling wine – Trentodoc being from the Trentino region, which is in the far north of Italy, a mountain-alp-y region, one which also has some Mediterranean-ness on the lower slopes. I’ll admit that’s not the Italian area I know best, but after tasting the sparkling wine from there, I need to know more! Made in the Meted Classico, or classic method, Trentodoc sparklers are also made from picked-by-hands Trentino grapes. Sounds yummy, right? But the proof is in the bottle, as the saying goes, and the one I’m popping off now is Maso Martis Extra Brut Rose.
Starting with its pale pink-y coloring, and enticing effervescence, it’s a wine you’ll want to drink as you pour – which is what you want, right? The taste (pino nero grapes, if you’re interested) has a berry-centric-ness, raspberries, strawberries, and then some currants, with a few delicate herbal notes, too, and a creamy nature ideal for a sunny day, a date night around the appetizer course, or, really, almost anytime. It’s also a swell base for cocktails. Well, you wouldn’t think I wouldn’t try it in a cocktail, right? I do so love bubble mixes, and with a flavorsome rose like this, I had to see how it’d play with others. Starting with another delicious number (and by some crazy occurrence also showed on the porch), but from closer to US home: Clear Creek Pear brandy. Made with Bartlett pears grown in OR (where Clear Creek is), it has a phenomenal pear nature, from the small to the lingering pear echoes, while still maintaining a warming brandy undercurrent. Then, I traveled back to Italy (to help the wine feel at home), with bitter and beautiful classic Campari – which not only adds layers of taste, but a rich redness, which is further underlined by our last ingredient, homemade grenadine. Altogether, what a drink! Refreshing but bursting with delights, and one the showcases and perfectly utilizes the wine and brandy. Dive in.
Far More Red
1 ounce Clear Creek Pear brandy
1/2 ounce Campari
1/2 ounce homemade grenadine (see grenadine recipe here, in the Note section)
3-1/2 ounces Maso Martis Extra Brut Rose sparkling wine
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the brandy, Campari, and grenadine. Shake it.
2. Strain the mix from Step 1 into a Champagne flute or comparable glass. Top with the bubbly. Stir carefully to combine. Enjoy.
October 13, 2020
The third of our Cocktail Talks from the Trollope collection Early Short Stories (be sure to catch up on Part I and Part II, so as not to cause Trollope any sadness in the great library beyond) takes place in Rome, amongst a group of writerly and artistically and wannna-be ex-pats, and includes a little, oh, confused affection let’s say, and some bubbly, and some ruins, and Trollope’s eye into human foibles and drive, and ability to picture the 1800’s scene perfectly. Oh, before you pour the below though, don’t miss the array of past Anthony Trollope Cocktail Talk posts, which are oodles of fun, too.
She did not come among us on the occasion of this banquet, possibly because we had no tables there to turn in preparation for her presence; but, had she done so, she could not have been more eloquent of things of the other world than was Mrs. Talboys. I have said that Mrs. Talboys’ eye never glanced more brightly after a glass of Champagne, but I am inclined to think that on this occasion it may have done so. O’Brien enacted Ganymede, and was, perhaps, more liberal than other latter-day Ganymedes, to whose services Mrs. Talboys had been accustomed. Let it not, however, be suspected by any one that she exceeded the limits of a discreet joyousness. By no means! The generous wine penetrated, perhaps, to some inner cells of her heart, and brought forth thoughts in sparkling words, which otherwise might have remained concealed; but there was nothing in what she thought or spoke calculated to give umbrage either to an anchorite or to a vestal. A word or two she said or sung about the flowing bowl, and once she called for ; but beyond this her converse was chiefly of the rights of man and the weakness of women; of the iron ages that were past, and of the golden time that was to come.
— Anthony Trollope, “Mrs. General Talboys”
August 21, 2020
Whoa, summer is already deep into its summerness, and I feel I haven’t had nearly enough bubbly sparkly shimmery (while still cooling) drinks yet. It goes so fast! Could be that with all that’s happening in the world, having a celebratory effervescent mix seems, oh, off a bit? But that’d be silly, cause there is still so much to celebrate, every day, if I can be a little starry-eyed. Maybe I’m just lazy (far more likely)? Or maybe I haven’t had the right mixing option?
Luckily, at least for the latter open-ended (potentially rhetorical) question, a nice selection of Chateau Ste. Michelle’s new line of wine in single-serve aluminum bottles recently showed up in the mail (see, that’s something worth celebrating), and the selection included the “Bubbly” white wine variety (or varietal, if you will, hahaha). All of the four different options have screw-top caps for those that don’t finish in one go – but at 250 ml, I can’t see that happening for you! – lovely artsy decoratives (I made that word up!), and come in a 2-pack. The non-Bubbly choices include a crisp, citrus-y Pinot Grigio and a summer-y and strawberry-and-currant-y Rosé that I’ve tasted, and a Something Sweet white wine blend I’m excited to taste.
But back to Bubbly! It’s made from a bountiful blend of Pinot Gris, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Muscat Canelli, and Gruner Veltliner, and delivers a nice apple core flavor, with a little spice, a hint of summer, a dry enough nature, and a clean inviting bubbly-ness. Well worth having chilled all on its own under the shining sun (though I suppose some might be too much in the wine snob category to sip something from an aluminum container – let’s pity them, shall we?), Bubbly also is convivial enough to serve as a solid base for a classic Champagne Cocktail or other sparkling-based cocktail. And the 250 ml size makes it ideal for making two drinks, which is what you’ll want to do so your paramour, bestie, spouse, sanitized neighbor, or other personality doesn’t feel left out. It’s what I did! With that very-legendary and mentioned-above Champagne Cocktail. Side-non-Bubbly-note: I suggest you choose Scrappy’s Orange bitters for your bitters here. Because it has a rich, herbal, bitter-y flavor that goes perfectly (so well that I just ran out of my bottle. That’s the opposite of an occasion worth celebrating).
Champagne Cocktail (using the recipe from Champagne Cocktails: 50 Cork-Popping Concoctions and Scintillating Sparklers, of course!)
1 sugar cube
3 dashes Scrappy’s Orange bitters
Chilled Chateau Ste. Michelle Bubbly white wine
Lemon twist, for garnish
1. Add your sugar cube to a flute in any manner you see fit. Dash the 3 dashes orange bitters over it. Let it settle in for a minute.
2. Fill the flute almost to the top with Bubbly. Garnish with the lemon twist.