April 23, 2012
Even here in sunny (hah! got you looking) Seattle the hints of summer are hinting at the sunnier days to come. Enough so that I’ve been looking towards summer cocktails and starting to plan what might make up the mainstays of my summertime menus. I naturally start with some of the classics (the Summer Beer, as those who know me well know, makes any hot weather drink list of mine, as does the basic and basically wonderful Tom Collins) but then move into trying out new drinks that could make the roster, so to speak. One that’s making a strong push for inclusion is called Ten Nights in June. It come into play thanks to a liqueur somewhat new to me, The King’s Ginger (disclosure: I was sent a bottle in the mail). Carrying a bit more of a hearty hello and wearing more of a citrus hat than other ginger liqueurs, along with its ginger accents, The King’s Ginger was, as legend and lore tell us, created by the Berry Brotheres way back in the year 1903 especially for King Edward VII, the Peacemaker, who desired a pic’um’up before his morning jaunts. Ever since I had the first sip I’ve been playing around with using it in various cocktails in my mind and in the real world.
But it took me awhile to find one that I wanted to keep in the rotation (as they say, whoever they are), and it was somewhat of a left turn in a way. First, the drink is more highball than cocktail. Second, it’s simple as simple can be. Third, and most importantly, the other key ingredient is sparkling hard cider. Are you shocked? C’mon, admit you’re shocked. I was a little shocked. You can be shocked. But not so shocked so as not to try it. Really, it makes sense in a way. Apples and ginger are a good match. Something bubbly and cool is good as summer rolls in to town. And underlying a light drink with a wee boom is good. Good, good, and good. I suggest you put this one onto your summer roster as well.
2 ounces The King’s Ginger liqueur
3-1/2 ounce chilled hard cider (I used Strongbow, but most dry English-style ciders would be good)
Lemon slice, for garnish
1. Fill a big ol’ Old Fashioned or comparable glass about halfway with ice cubes. Add the King’s Ginger and then the cider. Stir well, but respectfully.
2. Squeeze the lemon slice over and then drop it it. Drink up, pals and gals.
October 18, 2011
Peter Lovesey is an English mystery writer, perhaps most famous for his barrel-shaped and brusque Bath detective Peter Diamond and for his Sergeant Cribb books that take place in the Victorian era. I dig both. Lovesey isn’t all flashy, and isn’t perhaps as well-known as he should be over on this side of the pond, but his plots are always incredibly well thought out, his characters are real and motivated, and once you dive into one book featuring one of his two main characters, you tend (or I did, at least) to want to read more. They don’t hit the cocktails as much as other crime solvers of the police-and-non kind, so I haven’t mentioned him much here on the Spiked Punch blog. And, funny enough when considering the above, the quote below comes from the book Rough Cider, which doesn’t contain either of the fictional gentlemen mentioned above. But Rough Cider does has a fine mystery/story, and lots of cider talk (a murder happens at a cider farmer’s, if that makes sense), and I like cider, and so now it all makes sense, right? I did learn a few things from the book, too. First (and this is gross), cider makers at one time would put legs of mutton in the cider to give it a bit of body. Hmm. Second, cider that was bad would be termed “ropy” as in the below quote. Third, never put a human skull in your cider, or it will turn it ropy (unlike if you put mutton in I guess). Did these learnings turn me off cider? Nah. But they have given me a few more things to talk about when drinking it. This quote also features one of my favorite words (hogshead) and talks about drinking from jam jars, which I’m a fan of, even outside of wartime.
One evening in October, 1944, almost a year after the tragic events I’ve been describing, a man in a public house in Frome, the Shorn Ram, ordered a pint of local cider, a drink strongly preferred in wartime to the watered-down stuff that masqueraded as beer. People didn’t object to drinking from jam jars in those days of crockery shortages, but they were still choosy about what went into the jam jars. So when a customer complained that the cider was “ropy,” it was a serious matter. The publican had just put a new barrel on, a large one, a hogshead, from Lockwood, a reliable cider maker. He drew off a little for himself and sampled it.
—Rough Cider, Peter Lovesey
July 29, 2011
Holy Toledo! It’s actually a tad warm up and over here in the Northwest, with the sun beating and bleating down and temperatures approaching something that seems, suspiciously, like summer. And when summer hits, one of my favorite things to drink is a cold hard cider served up over lots of ice cubes. I picked up this habit when visiting the U.K. once (and by visiting, I mean stopping at every little pub I could to taste local brews and booze) with pals Mark and Leslie and wife Nat and have never stopped. While I’ll admit my fav ciders tend to be dry and with accent, I also am a huge fan and support more local ciders, like the lovely Tieton ciders and Ace ciders (from CA). In the below pic, I was sipping an Ace while picking out what smashing sandwich I was going to order at the almighty Smarty Pants. I went with the Ms. Piggy, with Field Roast, and the combo was darn fine.
January 7, 2011
Not too long ago, I was lucky enough to be able to play around with making drinks that feature Washington State cider-maker Tieton’s ciders. Operating out of the Yakima, WA area, Tieton ciders utilize all-natural ingredients, are made with care, and are starting to be more and more widely available. The ingredients and care are evident when drinking them, too, as they boast clear, crisp taste (which is what you want in your ciders—stay away from those overly sugary messes). At first, I was a little unsure about what I’d mix up with them, but after taking a few sips my unsure-ness re-routed straight into excitement. The following are my two favorite Tieton mixes. So, head down to your store and pick up some Tieton cider (or head down to complain that they don’t yet have them) and then cocktail up.
Harmony in C
1-1/2 ounces dark rum
3/4 ounces Grand Marnier
1 dash Peychauds bitters
2 ounces chilled Tieton Wild Washington apple cider
Apple slice, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the rum, Grand Marnier, and bitters. Shake well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Top with the Tieton Blend apple cider. Stir briefly and carefully. Garnish with the apple slice.
1 ounce applejack or apple brandy
3/4 ounce Benedictine
2 dashes Fee Brother peach bitters
Chilled Tieton Blend apple cider
Mint sprig, for garnish (optional)
Apple slice, for garnish (optional)
1. Fill an Old Fashioned glass three quarters full with ice cubes. Add the applejack, Benedictine, and bitters. Stir briefly.
2. Fill the glass almost to the rim with Tieton Blend apple cider. Stir again, briefly. Garnish with a mint sprig and an apple slice, if desired.