July 25, 2014

What I’m Drinking: The McCutcheon Cocktail with G’Vine Floraison Gin

applegreensRecently, I was browsing again through Applegreen’s Bar Book, a book sized to fit in your vest or shirt pocket, by a guy named John Applegreen, printed first in 1899. I’ve gone through it many times before, but like a lot of old bar books, I still love looking it over. And sometimes I find gems I missed or didn’t make before. The McCutcheon Cocktail is one of those very gems.

It’s a gin-based drink, and I decided to go with G’Vine’s Floraison gin, which is a small batch gin made in the Cognac region of France, and crafted from neutral spirits distilled from grapes. The juniper is there, but subtle, and mingling with a strong grape-ness (in a good way) and other floral notes leading into spices (chamomile and ginger and a few more). It’s has enough going on that it can play well with other herbal mixers (though really, try it solo, too), which is why it seemed – and is – an ideal gin for this unburied treasure of a cocktail, a cocktail which also contain both dry and sweet vermouth (I went with Dolin for the dry, and Carpano for the sweet) and a bit of maraschino and orange bitters. I went with Scrappy’s on the bitters, in a local shout out. It’s a beauty of a drink, and here’s a toast for Mr. Applegreen for introducing me to it, at whatever afterlife bar he’s shaking and stirring at.


The McCutcheon

Cracked ice
1-1/2 ounces G’Vine Floraison gin
3/4 ounce Dolin dry vermouth
3/4 ounce Carpano Antica sweet vermouth
1 dash maraschino liqueur
1 dash Scrappy’s orange bitters

1. Fill a mixing glass or cocktail shaker halfway full with cracked ice. Add everything (be careful on your dash of maraschino, you don’t want to go too heavy). Stir well.

2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Dream of the late 1800s, and France.

July 18, 2014

What’s I’m Drinking: The Beach Bubble

Hey, babies, it’s hot outside. Even up here in the northwest, the temperature is too much. It’s time to head to the beach – or, if you’re landlocked, or just can’t get away to the beach, or don’t want to deal with all those crowds, it’s time to head to the Beach Bubble. This little cooler-downer is the tropical ticket when the temperature has gotten troublingly high. Just try it!


The Beach Bubble, from Dark Spirits

Ice cubes
2 ounces dark rum
2 ounces pineapple juice
1 ounce mango juice
Chilled ginger ale
2 pineapple chunks for garnish

1. Fill a Collins glass or large goblet three-quarters full with ice cubes. Add the rum and juices. Stir, but with respect for the beach’s mellow demeanor.

2. Fill the glass up with ginger ale. Stir, but again, mellow-ly.

3. Spear the pineapple chunks on a toothpick, and float them in the glass (watch out for that toothpick when drinking).

July 11, 2014

What’s I’m Drinking: The Lucky Apple

When I began to write this post, I was looking at a calendar for June. And so I thought today was going to be Friday, July 13th. When it’s actually Friday, July 11th. I’d planned to warn you, friends, to not walk under a ladder today, cuddle a black cat, or forget to toss a whole handful of salt over your shoulder. And tell you to instead have one of these drinks, too, as it’s a very lucky drink. Now, it’s not Friday the 13th. But I still think you should have one of these, because everyone needs a bit of luck every day. And, as I said, this is a lucky drink.

Why, you might ask? Well, first it has apples in it, and apples are the luckiest form of produce. You might think clover, but that’s a myth. It’s apples that are healthy, patriotic, and crunchy – all lucky things. And, also lucky, in this drink I’m using Tree Top fresh pressed apple juice. See, Tree Top is a company from up here in Washington State, in Selah to be specific, that has been here for 50 years supporting the state’s fruit growers – over 1,000 apple and pear growers to be specific, and all their juices are made from 100% USA-grown fruit. That is lucky on all sides.

Also, this drink features 3 Howls single malt whiskey. If you didn’t know, 3 Howls is a distillery in Seattle itself, and they’ve managed to put out 12 different spirits in just one year! Including this whiskey, whose caramel and vanilla hints go smoothly here, is also lucky. And if that wasn’t enough, the third core ingredient is Averna, a nice amaro that brings just the right amount of herbalness.

And this drink is of the super-refreshing variety and, as it’s summer, the mercury has risen for most and us, and a super-refreshing drink is needed. So, this Friday, the 11th, is a great day for this lucky drink.

The Lucky Apple

Ice cubes
1-1/2 ounces 3 Howls single malt whiskey
3/4 ounce Averna
4 ounces Tree Top Fresh Pressed 3 Blend apple cider
Mint sprig, for garnish

1. Fill a highball or comparable glass three-quarters up with ice cubes. Add the whiskey and Averna. Stir a bit.

2. Top the glass off with the apple cider. Stir a bit more. Garnish with the mint. Feel lucky.

July 4, 2014

What’s I’m Drinking: The Happy Crab

Hey, it’s the 4th of July! Is anyone reading this? Perhaps not, but just in case here’s a drink that’s sure to up the refreshing ante for your holidays – the Happy Crab. It’s not, as you might think, a reference to how holidays make some folks crabby. Oh no, it’s a reference to the happiness of summertime when you have a really refreshing drink. One of my favorite refreshers in summer, by the way, is English boozy ginger beer Crabbies. And Crabbies not too long ago released a new version, Spiced Orange Crabbies, which is also tasty when the sun rises high in the sky.

But, you know me – even tasty things I believe can sometimes be tastier when mixed with other tasty things. Which is the case with this very drink, as it takes the tasty new Crabbies orange and mixes it with another summer fav, dark rum, and then, just cause I’m crazy for it, Bénédictine. And you know what? The end result is awesome. Try it this holiday, or anytime this summer, and see how right I am. You’ll be happy . . . as a crab.


The Happy Crab

Ice cubes
1-1/2 ounce dark rum
1/2 ounce Bénédictine
5 ounces Crabbies Spiced Orange ginger beer

1. Fill a big highball or comparable glass about halfway full with ice cubes. Add the dark rum and Benedictine. Stir briefly.

2. Add the Crabbies. Stir to combine. Face the sun with a smile.

June 27, 2014

What I’m Drinking: The Ivanel

It may surprise no one to know that I’ve tried a fair number of the spirits and liqueurs and such that are available around the world. But still, there are many, many imbibables that I’ve yet to sample (so please, send me any you think I haven’t had. Hah!). Example A until recently was palinca, or pálinka, the fruit brandy made in the Carpathian Basin and thereabouts. I hadn’t even heard about it until my Romanian pal George (who I work with remotely at a giant video game company, but don’t hold that against us) was visiting Seattle and brought a bottle. It wasn’t earmarked for me, at first, but I quickly convinced him that I should go home with it, and he eventually agreed – he also told it was very dangerous stuff and super strong.

After tasting it, I certainly agree with the latter, but not the former. The version he gave me, Palinca de Maramures, or palinca made from plums or prunes, has a kick, no doubt, but also a nice fruit undertone, with a tiny hint of nuts. He also told me that I could never come up with a cocktail using it – this, of course, was a challenge I couldn’t back down from. So, I invented The Ivanel, named after George. I mellowed out the umph of the palinca and added some layers of flavor with a little Cocchi di Torino (a lovely sweet vermouth) and the unbeatable Pierre Ferrand orange curaçao. The end result was good enough that I expect George to come back soon to try it.


The Ivanel

Ice cubes
1-1/2 ounces Palinca de Maramures
1 ounce Cocchi di Torino vermouth
1/2 ounce Pierre Ferrand orange curaçao
Wide orange twist, for garnish

1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with ice cubes. Add everything but the twist. Stir well.

2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with the wide orange twist and a salute to Romania.

June 20, 2014

What I’m Drinking: The Mint Meridian

Welcome back Brancamenta lovers! Wait, you say you don’t know what I’m talking about? Well, then go read my first post about the Brancamenta Mint Challenge (#brancamenta) and The Better Days cocktail. Neat, right? Remember in that post I said I made a second drink? Well, the Mint Meridian is that very drink.

But first, I realized I didn’t say much about Brancamenta in that earlier post, and maybe some folks still don’t know about it – which is a crying shame. It’s made from the same herb-and-spice set up as its older sibling, Fernet Branca, with the addition of Piedmontese peppermint oil. It’s super minty, a bit less of a digestif than Fernet Branca, and fantastic (I think) with soda over ice and in drinks. And it was inspired by opera singer Maria Callas. Neat, again, right? For my second ‘menta (I sometimes shorten it suchly) drink I wanted to hit the refreshing route more heavily, to help y’all out with summer. But I still wanted to get creative with it – hence building on another summer favorite, rum. Really!


The Mint Meridian

Ice cubes
2 ounces dark rum
3/4 ounces Brancamenta
1/4 freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
Chilled club soda
Mint sprig, for garnish

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway up with ice cubes. Add the rum, Brancamenta, lemon juice, and bitters. Shake well.

2. Fill a highball or closely comparable glass up with ice cubes. Strain the mix from Step 1 into the glass.

3. Top with 3 ounces club soda. Stir. Garnish with the mint spring. Enjoy your afternoon.

June 6, 2014

What I’m Drinking: The Better Days

Recently, I ended up with a bottle of Brancamenta via the post. Yeah, I have a good life. I did feel sort-of bad about it. See, it was part of the Brancamenta Mint Challenge (#brancamenta), where the fine folks at Fratelli Branca (perhaps best known for Brancamenta’s sibling Fernet Branca – hey, why not read about my Branca tour) send around some bottles to folks who like to make up drinks – like me! – and then we cut loose and see what happens. None of that was bad, however. The bad part was that after the bottle showed, I realized I already had a bottle of Brancamenta on the shelf. But, I suppose, as Shakespeare said, you can never have too much of a good thing.

And I did come up with not one, but two swell drinks using the minty-herbally-goodness that is Brancamenta. I’ll post the second one later, but first The Better Days cocktail. When I heard “challenge” I took it a little literally, and challenged myself to make a drink that would make people say “what, that can’t be right” when they saw the ingredients list, but then say “jump back! that is awesome,” when they took the first sip. I also wanted to keep the ingredients list slim, as a secondary challenge for myself. And have a drink that you could have early in the day. And yes, I managed to deliver on all three, if I can be so bold, cause The Better Days is tasty, good before noon, and deceptively simple.


The Better Days

Cracked ice
2 ounces gin (I used Voyager – stick with a nice juniper-y gin)
3/4 ounce Brancamenta
3/4 ounce Borghetti coffee liqueur (also made by the fine folks at Branca and a fantastic coffee-lover’s dream)

1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add everything. Stir well.

2. Strain into a cocktail glass.

May 23, 2014

What I’m Drinking: The Crimson Slippers

I recently brought this back into the rotation – and couldn’t be smile-ier about it. I like it so much, I’m gonna quote myself:

I choose to believe there’s a hidden mystery by Dame Agatha (Christie, that is) called The Crimson Slippers, where mercurial and Belgian (not French) detective Hercule Poirot must solve the multiple murders (seems there’s almost always more than one) circling around two single clues: a pair of comfy slippers with a tiny bloodstain on the toe, and a cocktail glass containing the remains of a bitter-ish combination aglow with a deep red hue. Naturally, if there isn’t a yet-to-be-discovered Agatha manuscript with this title out there—perhaps in a trunk in the back corner of the attic in an English country house—then I guess you’re going to have to write that mystery. Once it’s an international publishing phenom, though, I’ll expect you to buy the next round.

The Crimson Slippers (from Dark Spirits)

Ice cubes
2 ounces dark rum
1 ounce Campari
1/2 ounce triple sec
Dash of Peychaud’s bitters
Lime slice for garnish

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the rum, Campari, triple sec, and bitters. Shake well.

2. Strain into a cocktail glass (being sure not to spill on any manuscripts lying around).

3. Squeeze the lime slice over the glass and drop it in without any mystery.

Rathbun on Film

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