December 2, 2022
Sometimes it’s good to go back to the basics. This here (or, below here) is my recipe for Champagne Punch, the one I picked up from family holiday gatherings when I was a wee one, the one I was making for parties long before even this blog started (so, dinosaurs were walking the earth), and long before I put the recipe in Good Spirits (and probably others books and articles), and long before I started typing this sentence (which is itself rather long now, though not as long as some by, say, Henry James). It’s a basic ol’ bubbly fruity rummy punchy number, not all la-de-da, but very solid, very tasty, and very much a sparkling treat that’s wonderful around the holiday season – which, low and behold, we are now in, or nearly in if you don’t want to jump the gun. A stance I understand, but good to be prepared pals! So, have the basic recipe below in your back pocket – it’s sure to be a hit at your holiday gatherings, which I’m sure will be anything but basic.
Ice (in block form if possible; if not, large chunks)
6 ounces freshly squeezed orange juice
4 ounces simple syrup
2 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice
2 ounces freshly squeezed lemon juice
6 ounces white rum
6 ounces dark rum
Once 750-milliliter bottle chilled Champagne
Orange, lime, and lemon slices, for garnish
1. Add the ice to a large punch bowl. If using chunks (as opposed to a large block of ice), fill the bowl just under halfway.
2. Add the orange juice, simple syrup, lime juice, and lemon juice. With a large spoon or ladle, stir 10 times.
3. Add the white and dark rums. Stir 10 more times.
4. Add Champagne, but not too quickly. Enjoy the moment. Add a goodly amount of orange, lime, and lemon slices. Stir, but only once.
5. Ladle into punch glasses or festive goblets. Try to ensure that every guest gets a slice of fruit and a smile.
July 12, 2022
Finally picked up another Henry Kane book (to read more about the solo volume I had previously, check out the Martinis and Murder Cocktail Talks) a few weeks ago, one also starring private eye (or “private Richard” as he calls himself) Peter Chambers. The book follows along our big, smart, tough (but sexy!) PI in his mid-60s manner as he enters the world of large dollar signs and political influence. A world he busts right into, as you’d expect, with good suits, lots of suave action, and lots of drinking. He also shows a nice two-fister or two-gun intolerance for fascists no matter how much they pay – as every single person should of course! This book, like the other I’ve read is pretty fun, moves pretty fast, and opens a fair number of bottles of booze in a bubbly manner. Below, it’s Champagne. Taittinger 1921, if you were wondering!
“Coffee?” he said to his wife. The tall silver urn was doing small business. The big business was at the Champagne coolers.
“Wine,” she said.
“Had you better?”
“Taittinger 1921,” she said. “You bet I had better.” She smiled at me with large white teeth. “Which means I have never had better. Taittinger ’21. The best.”
We drank Champagne, ate, chatted, and ate and chatted and drank.
Sturgeon and Champagne. Ah, the sweet life.
–Henry Kane, The Unholy Trio
June 14, 2022
This, friends, is a solemn time here on the Spiked Punch. I’ve just now this moment realized that I’ve never had a Cocktail Talk (unless I’ve lost it over the years, which is possible as my mind is old and there are many posts on there) from the immortal Anthony Trollope novel Phineas Finn. Or, from the also immortal Phineas Redux. What in the world? Y’all know I love me some Anthony Trollope (you know this from reading the many Trollope Cocktail Talks), and of all the Trollopian fictional gems, the two Phineas books – which are the second and fourth I believe in the Palliser series of novels by Trollope, books which revolve around politics, and how those taking part in them acted and talked and such, of his time in the main, while still being fiction – may well be my favorite. Not saying they are the best or making any canonical pronouncements. But they may be my favorites. I’m not even sure I can type out why! But I have a soft spot perhaps for the hero (Phineas), an Irish-born fella who makes his way into the London political world and has adventures and mis-adventures and romances and at least one duel and fox hunts and trials and ups and downs and brandy and all kinds of things. Perhaps I just love the scope and insights into the time period? Or how the characters mingle through the books, some coming and some going until there’s this whole feeling of being a part of the world Trollope is creating, or how the motivations seem to mirror modern ones (with different trapping of course)? Or his “complete appreciation of the usual” as they say? All of that? The one thing I know for sure is that I can’t believe I haven’t had a quote in the form of a Cocktail Talk from either Phineas book! Well, let’s remedy that with the below, shall we? This particular one doesn’t actually feature said hero, but one of the other fairly important, let’s call them sub-main characters, Lord Chiltern.
He told nothing to Captain Clutterbuck of his sorrow, but Captain Clutterbuck could see that he was unhappy.
“Let’s have another bottle of ‘cham,’” said Captain Clutterbuck, when their dinner was nearly over. “‘Cham’ is the only thing to screw one up when one is down a peg.”
“You can have what you like,” said Lord Chiltern; “but I shall have some brandy-and-water.”
“The worst of brandy-and-water is, that one gets tired of it before the night is over,” said Captain Clutterbuck.
–Anthony Trollope, Phineas Finn
May 16, 2022
Our third and last Mr. Pinkerton Goes to Scotland Yard Cocktail Talk (don’t miss, I tell you, don’t miss Part I and Part II, to learn more about the book and all such) shows the dangers of having Champagne cocktails after going to the movies! Very dangerous. And is also fun in a sort-of overly-dramatic way that reminds me of old motions pictures somewhat! With it, we say goodbye to little Mr. Pinkerton, for now, at least!
She laughed as if it weren’t really funny, but there it was.
“Monty and I had a Champagne cocktail or two at a club after the picture and decided we’d do that to Hugh, and then he’d see he was losing me and he’d say “I can’t let you go, you are mine,” and then it wouldn’t matter so much about his mother. Well, we did. We announced to Auntie and the Ripleys that we’d come to an understanding, and . . . and . . .
Linda Darrell bit her lip and smiled brightly.
–David Frome, Mr. Pinkerton Goes to Scotland Yard
May 6, 2022
Last week I went on and on about brunching and brunch season and brunch drinks and then put down the recipe for a new brunch drink Good Morning Sunshine, and all of that and you know what? Not one of you invited me to brunch. Well, my dog Ainsley did, but she’d eat all the time if it was up to her, hahaha! So, just for that, here’s another brunch drink, one from an old (but still bubbly, if I may be so bold) book of mine called, simply enough, Champagne Cocktails, said drink being called The Pensiero (which is Italian for “thought” making this drink “The Thought” which is just so deeply silly), and as you’d expect one influenced by Italy and featuring delicious Italian stalwarts Punt e’ Mes vermouth and Campari, as well as fancy frizzante ruby-esque red wine Brachetto d’Acqui (a brunch treat if ever there was one). Now, I’m just gonna sit here and wait for my invitations.
The Pensiero, from Champagne Cocktails
1 ounces freshly squeezed orange juice
3/4 ounces Punt e Mes
1/2 ounce Campari
1/2 ounce Simple Syrup
Chilled Brachetto d’Acqui
Lemon twist, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the orange juice, Punt e Mes, Campari, and simple syrup. Shake thoughtfully.
2. Strain the mixture through a fine strainer into a flute glass. Top with Brachetto d’Acqui. Garnish with the lemon twist.
April 29, 2022
Does it feel like brunch season to you? It does to me! Spring when springing always sings out “brunching time is on” in my old ears for some reason. More sunshine, perhaps, or the blooming of things equates in my brain having pals over for meals that aren’t really breakfast, but aren’t yet lunch either. Bascially: brunch! Great idea, brunch, by the way. Not that I don’t like brunches throughout the year, between us, but brunching in spring is best. Perhaps because you can, after a long winter (for many), have said brunch outdoors again if you want? Perhaps because by spring the days are longer so you can work up more of a brunch appetite (lots of weeding to be done in the morning, too)? Who knows! But in honor of, let’s call it, brunch season – which of course demands more brunch drinks – here’s a new effervescent cocktail for you, the Good Morning Sunshine. I like my brunch drinks bubbly in the main, and a bit fruity, while still having a smooth kick to help ease you into afternoon napping! That little rubric leads to the ingredient list here: two kinds of juice (oj, pj), the citrus-ish lightly sweet beloved of the nation (currently) Aperol, Aperol’s tight pal Prosecco (bringing the bubbles), and then a bit of a brunch surpriser: tequila, which adds the underlying strength while also bringing a hint of smoke and vegetalness. Quite lovely I have to admit. Brunch lovely, even!
Good Morning Sunshine
1 ounce blanco tequila
1/2 ounce Aperol
1/2 ounce pineapple juice
1/2 ounce orange juice
4 ounces chilled Prosecco (see Note)
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add all but the Prosecco. Shake well.
2. Strain into a flute glass or comparable vessel. Top with the Prosecco. Brunch = on!
A Note: Could go five ounces here if you want and are feeling extra bubbly. Up to you.
February 22, 2022
Don’t miss our Eight Faces at Three, Part I Cocktail Talk, where you can find out more about the book, about the bubbly 1930-ish author who wrote it (and she was the first crime-y writer to be on the cover of Time, which is just a hook to get you to learn more about her, cause there are stories! She being Craig Rice, that is), about how I was tipped to the book (and hopefully through that towards more books by her) by cocktailian and mystery-ian Vince Keenan, and where you can see another quote from the book. When you read said other quote, and our quote below, don’t think as they both are about drinking-in-cars that I am proposing you go out and drink in a car (unless it’s parked)! Cause I’m not. But they are both such jolly quotes, well, I couldn’t skip them. And the book is a darn jolly (outside of a murder or two) read, fast-paced, tipsy, slapstick-y nearly at times, with a little bit of romance to boot. And lots of rye and bubbly!
“Miss Helene,” said Butch joyously,” you’d never guess what I got under them blankets on the floor.”
“Judas!” she said. “Champagne!”
“I thought it seemed sort of appropriate.”
“But no glasses,” she said. “I suppose nobody can think of everything. Just the same, drinking Champagne out of a bottle in a moving car is more than a mere accomplishment.”
–Craig Rice, Eight Faces at Three
December 31, 2021
Goodbye crappy 2021 (I won’t go into all the reasons my 2021 wasn’t a high-roller, actually, pretty sucky, but let me say I hope dearly that your 2021 was a dreamy dose of dandy-ness), and nearly hello to 2022. Time is crazy friends! 2022, hard to imagine. Let’s give this upcoming year the benefit of the doubt, as it hasn’t even started yet, and say it’s gonna be a hum-dinger in the best ways for all. But, but, but, just in case there’s a day or two in the upcoming year where it isn’t the bestest, and where you feel you just need a break, or to break away from it for a moment, well, I want you to have this drink on hand, as it provides (as the name implies!) a Temporary Getaway, what with its juicy juices, floral notes, apple hints, and bubbles. A getaway-ing combo indeed. As a bonus! If you don’t yet have your drink picked out for this evening (New Year’s Eve and all that dontcha know), this bubble number does it right, right.
The Temporary Getaway, from Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz
3 apple slices
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 ounce St-Germain elderflower liqueur
4 ounces chilled brut Sekt or other sparkling wine
1. Place 2 of the apple slices, the orange juice, and the lemon juice in a cocktail shaker or mixing glass. Using a muddler or wooden spoon, muddle well.
2. Fill the cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the St-Germain and, using a long spoon, stir well.
3. Pour the chilled Sekt into the cocktail shaker. Using that same reliable spoon, stir briefly, being sure to bring up the fruit on the bottom when stirring.
4. Strain into a flute glass or cocktail glass (in this instance I like the way the latter breathes, but a flute’s more traditional), through a fine strainer if you want to avoid the fruit bits. Garnish with the remaining apple slice, putting a little notch in it if needed for rim balancing.