August 26, 2016
Did you know, National Whiskey Sour day is the 29th of this very month? Knowing you, you may already know this, but if not – how awesome if that? I believe that, as every day has a sunrise and sunset, every day in the modern world is the celebration of something. Today might be National Striped Sock day (which would also be awesome – I love striped socks). I’m all for these celebrations, cause then there is just an endless number of reasons to pal up with pals and start celebrating! Woo-hoo-you! And really, the Whiskey Sour deserves a day – I mean, it goes back to the 1800s (who knowns exactly when? Not me), and its basic formula of booze, citrus, sweet is the bedrock of at least 1,564,348 drinks, and probably more. Sometimes, there’s the extra addition of some egg white, but today, in honor of purity and because I’m out of eggs, I’m making it in middle-of-the-road style. And, I’m making it with Four Roses bourbon, because roses are celebratory (I wrote more about Four Roses in an earlier post – check it out!), and because its apple-caramel flavor (with a little nutty and oak-y happening, too), and slight spice finish, are a fine pick for a nice, solid, regular, wonderful Whiskey Sour. Which is a mighty fine way to celebrate.
The Whiskey Sour
2 ounces Four Roses straight bourbon
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup
Lemon slice, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the bourbon, lemon juice, and syrup. Shake well.
2. Strain through a fine strainer into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon slice.
August 19, 2016
The name of this drink sounds a bit like a dance move beloved by those who tend to wear mostly black, listen to moody tunes, and shake their fist at all and sundry (I’ll admit to that phase at once point, so I’m not judging here, oh no). But, it’s in reality nearly the opposite, a blended drink that’s really not all that bitter, and is sure to bring a smile to the face of anyone who drinks it.
Where, then, does the name come from? Well, the wonderful Fernet-Branca, of course! Here’s the scoop. Not long ago a bottle of that essential elixir showed up in the mail (I know, I couldn’t believe my luck either), with a little bit of a challenge – come up with a blended Fernet-Branca drink. At first, this seemed like a conundrum, due to blended drinks being usually either extra fruity or extra frothy and Fernet-Branca shading heavily towards what some people call “bitter,” though I think that’s just one part of it, with the other being its magic mix of herbs and spices and such. But, you know what? It turns out that with the right aligning of other ingredients, Fernet-Branca plays perfectly in blended form, and provides a nice rich bedrock for an icy, creamy, frothy, summertime treat, one perfect for the hot weather. Those other ingredients here (I’m guessing there are many more possible permutations) include gin (I used Voyager, which is swell), whose juniper hints mingle well, and Bénédictine, whose sweet herbal goodness also mingles well. A little actual cream, a splash of simple syrup (it is a blended drink!), and loads of ice, and we have the Bitter Shake. Which may actually make you want to dance, but with joy, instead of with your head down, mumbling.
The Bitter Shake, for 2 (never drink a blender drink alone – that’s foolishness)
2 ounces Voyager gin
1 ounce Fernet-Branca
1 ounce Bénédictine
1-1/2 ounces heavy cream
1 ounce simple syrup
Ice cubes (you’ll want a lot, like a whole tray’s worth)
1. Add everything but the ice to a blender. Swirl a little.
2. Add the ice cubes. Blend well (I used a combo of ice crush and smoothie settings on my blender – you want it well combined, smooth, and frothy). Drink and chill out.
August 12, 2016
I know, I know, it’s the middle of August, hottest month of the year for most of us stateside, and so for many not perhaps the right time of year for a whiskey forward (very so, classically so) cocktail. These folks think that this should be a winter, or maybe fall choice, and they in some ways are right. But in other ways, they’re wrong. Exhibit A way: when you’ve received an absolutely choice bottle of single malt whiskey in the mail and decide you must have it in a classic drink. This, friends, is that exhibit. Or story. Or some such.
Let’s back up. Recently (and yeah, don’t hate me cause I’m lucky like this), I received a bottle of Paul John Brilliance single malt whiskey. An Indian – maybe the Indian – single malt, it’s made from ingredients, including a special six-row barley, grown at Himalayan foothills, and aged for five years in the tropics of Goa, India. This tropical climate makes for a fast maturation, in American white oak. The end result has won awards all over the world already, but just recently become available here. It’s a very distinctive whiskey, one that, by all rights, you should sip solo and let the demerara and barley fragrance tempt you and the spice and vanilla taste and intriguing cocoa finish with just a hint of orange linger (maybe a splash of water or a single ice cube for the second glass, just to see how it goes).
But, if you’re me (and of course you aren’t, cause that would be an existential pickle that would be, oh, too much to go into now) or like me, you can’t stop at that, even with a whiskey of this level. No, you have to try it in a cocktail. And now I’ve gotten a little weird with pronouns. Let’s stop that. I decided on the Rob Roy, one of the legendary Scotch cocktails. A single malt and a Scotch are of course, at least cousins, maybe siblings, in the grand scheme of things. And I wanted a cocktail that would really let the Brilliance flavors come alive, and provide some proper cocktail partners – here, the otherworldly Carpano Antica vermouth, and Angostura. The end result is dreamy. Any time of year.
The Rob Roy
2-1/2 ounces Paul John Brilliance single malt whiskey
1/2 ounce Carpano Antica sweet vermouth
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Lemon twist, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with cracked ice. Add the Brilliance, vermouth, and bitters. Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with the lemon twist.
August 5, 2016
It’s August, which means even way up here in Seattle we have some warmer weather happening (and in some spots, I know it’s even moreso), which also then means that refreshing drinks are on the menu (though, admittedly, sometimes I like to play devil’s advocate and have what seems like not-as-refreshing-drinks when it’s hot. Today is not that day!). Luckily, I recently received some Hard Frescos (yeah, I’m lucky), which are very refreshing numbers, and lend themselves to refreshing drinks.
Brewed right in Washington State (in Stevenson), and based out of a love of Mexican fresh-pressed juices, if you don’t know them, Hard Frescos are a malt beverage, but one made with real fruits and botanicals, cane sugar, and yeast. Like a fruit beer, though they also use Mexican Fruit Cider as a name, which to me works a little better, because it points to their very unique nature – fruity, flavorful, but also with a slight underlying beer-y/cider-y-ness, with an end result that’s really different, in a good way.
There are four versions currently available: Tangy Tamarindo, Citrico, Juicy Jamaica, and Cola Buena. In this summer drink, I used the latter to delicious (if I can say that and sound humble) results. I don’t drink much, if any, cola-of-the-soda sort, so playing around with Cola Buena, which use Kola Seed, and has a bit of that cola taste, but a bit more bitter and fullness was good stuff. And as you might expect, goes well with rum! As it does here, but I’ve also added another local ingredient, broVo’s Lucky Falernum, which is higher-proof than most falernums, and which has a swell subtle spice and citrus taste. You could sub in another falernum, but it wouldn’t be nearly as good. And who wants that?
2 ounces dark rum
1 ounce Lucky Falernum
4 ounces Cola Buena Hard Fresco
Lime wedge, for garnish
1: Fill a cocktail shaker just under half way with ice cubes. Add the rum and falernum. Stir well.
2. Pour everything into a highball or comparable glass (a green goblet works nice, if you have one). Top with the Cola Buena. Stir carefully.
3. Top with the lime wedge.
July 29, 2016
You might think, to yourself, “A Manhattan-y cocktail is not quite the thing, old boy, for summer.” You would be wrong. Sorry! Exhibit A: The Tranquil Hills. How does this rough-and-tumble rye beguiler manage to hold its brown likker umph while still navigating the higher temperatures of summer? Well, I’m glad you asked. First, it’s just a good drink, and good drinks are always good. But, it’s helped along by using a key summer fruit, the blackberry, here in the form of Sidetrack Distillery’s lovely Blackberry liqueur. The rich berry taste covers for the Manhattan’s regular sweet vermouth, bringing enough depth, but also the very core of summer along for the ride.
Sidetrack’s Blackberry liqueur also mingles in a manner most wonderful with the rye I used, Templeton’s The Good Stuff rye. A rye made with the idea of matching the taste of an old prohibition recipe, one that was once, as legend has it (and nothing is better than drink legends) loved by Al Capone himself, Templeton has a spiciness, and a combo of dried fruits and caramel, that hit the spot here and now. A little of Scrappy’s Orange bitters (Scrappy being Seattle’s favorite son, and now an international bitters of renown, because, well, they’re great), and you have a whiskey cocktail that can help you survive the summer in fine fashion.
The Tranquil Hills
2-1/4 ounces Templeton rye
3/4 ounce Sidetrack Blackberry Liqueur
2 dashes Scrappy’s Orange bitters
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add everything. Stir well, but don’t get sweaty.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Drink it up.
July 22, 2016
Sometimes, it’s good to keep things simple, tall, refreshing, and the lesser-known cousin of a better-known drink. At least that’s what I’m doing today. Because hey, I’m a simple person, at heart. And that’s why I’m keeping this short. No long speeches today, or talks about this booze or that booze, this writer or that writer, this awful person or that awful person that leads me to really desiring a tall, simple, refreshing drink on a Friday. Oh no, none of that. You feel the same way? Mix this up, friend, and think of me, and your favorite Mike. Mine is, um, Mike Caine (if that isn’t too informal). Here’s to you, Mike!
2 ounces Irish whiskey
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 ounce simple syrup
Chilled club soda
Lemon slice for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the whiskey, juice, and simple syrup. Shake well.
2. Fill a Collins glass three-quarters full with ice cubes. Strain the mix over the ice. Fill almost to the top with chilly club soda. Garnish with the lemon slice (stirring briefly if you want Mike mixed more).
July 15, 2016
Here’s an oldie (by that I mean, not very old at all, but one that has been on the blog before, which may make some run in horror, but really, those folks probably aren’t all that cool, anyway, which means run away, by all means, while the rest of us sit here drinking it up, and laughing at your antics), but a nice goodie of a refreshing and classy number. It’s hip, too, as it feature rosé, which seems to be the star of this year’s summer, in a number of ways (meaning, everyone’s talking about it). A good summer to be rosé, especially the sparkling version of rosé in this drink, as it gets to play which such a fine array of summertime stalwarts: rum, lime, ginger. Together, they manage to deliver the yumminess and the chic-ness, without any of the sometime accompanying annoying-ness. Try it, and see.
The Tropicaliana, from Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz
1 ounce white rum
1/4 ounce fresh lime juice
1/2 ounce Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur
1/2 ounce simple syrup
Chilled rosé sparkling wine
Lime slice, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the rum, lime juice, ginger liqueur, and simple syrup. Shake well.
2. Strain the mix into a flute. Top with the rosé sparkling wine. Garnish with that lime slice.
July 8, 2016
Summer seems somehow a swell season for sherry drinks. Lighter, refreshing, sherry won’t weigh you down when the Mercury’s risen. And the Greenbrier (which isn’t the cocktail below, by the by) is one of a handful of elder sherry drinks, in that it shows up in a number of older classic cocktail tomes. It’s a fairly tasty mix, too, with dry vermouth, sherry (duh), and, interestingly, peach bitters, oh, and mint, too. Very summery, right? But for some reason I wanted to try a twist (probably because my dry vermouth and blanc vermouth bottles are right next to each other) on the formula, and changed the vermouth from dry to blanc. Super, duper, choice, if I can be so bold. A tiny bit brighter, and bit, oh, rounder in a way, due to the sweeter (but not sweet) nature of the blanc. Lovely. Do it.
Of course, before the super-duper-ing, you gotta pick the right sherry. I went with Tio Pepe Fino sherry (which, lucky me, arrived in the mail). Fino sherries are lowish in alcohol, light, crisp, and meant to be served cool and kept cool (and best to consume fairly soon after opening, like a light white wine). Tio Pepe’s version is made from the Palomino grape, and is nice and dry with a golden color and a little nutty-ness. It mingles here with the blanc vermouth as if they were cousins (hmm, I suppose they are, in a way), as well as playing nice with the bitters and mingling on the nose with the mint. A swell summer sipper indeed.
2 ounces Tio Pepe Fino sherry
1 ounce Dolin Blanc vermouth
1 dash Fee Brothers peach bitters
Mint sprig, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add everything but the mint. Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with that mint.