April 29, 2016

What I’m Drinking: The Hour Glass

It may have been eight years since I’ve sipped this particular refresher – that’s a long time and a long number of drinks. But we’ve had a bit of northwest spring heat wave lately, demanding that something effervescent like this be unveiled, and I was reading Justice Society (okay, I’m making an Hour Glass to Hour Man leap, but you get me, I know), and, well, one thing led to another. It’s a good drink, too, interesting without being affrontive. If you feel badly about Cognac-ing here, then I’d say don’t be so darn stuffy. Haha, but seriously folks, feel free to sub in a nice brandy as you will. Whatever doesn’t overheat you, friend, and whatever makes the hours pass in a lovely manner.

The Hour Glass

Cracked ice
1 ounce Cognac
3/4 ounce Cointreau
1/2 ounce absinthe
Ice cubes
Chilled club soda
Lemon twist, for garnish

1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add the Cognac, Cointreau, and absinthe. Stir well.

2. Fill a highball glass three-quarters full with ice cubes. Strain the mixture over the ice, and then fill the glass with club soda (unless it’s a large-ish highball, then just go up three-quarters of the way).

3. Squeeze the lemon twist over the glass and drop it in.

April 22, 2016

What I’m Drinking: Finished By Midnight

Don’t, I tell you, don’t take the name of this drink overly seriously – if you’re not finished by midnight, it’s not like you’ll turn into a gin-y pumpkin, or a lovely stepsister, or a candle nearly burnt out. But hey, sometimes the midnight oil doesn’t need to be completely burned out, right? And really, just start earlier!

I started here with the new (if you haven’t seen my drink An Elusive Memory, and my write up on Boodles gin proper, don’t miss it. Don’t, I tell you) Boodles Mulberry Gin, which I’ve heard is the first mulberry gin to reach the shores of the U-S-A. More of a standard in Britain, mulberry gin (and of course sloe gin liqueur, a sort-of relative) is a UK standby, a little more light on its feet usually than you’d believe with some of the syrupy fruit liqueurs you may have grown up imbibing before you knew better.

Here, the Boodles Mulberry is quite delicious, made with natural mulberries and other natural things, and the end result is more dry-ish than expected, but blooming with flavor, berries, currents, and the gin’s rich botanicals. It’s nice and complex, and worth sipping over an ice cube or two all by itself. But it makes a dandy cocktail ingredient, too. You don’t need too many dancing partners (or other ingredients). No need to weigh things down if you want to make it to midnight – or beyond.

Finished By Midnight

Ice cubes
1-1/2 ounces Boodles Mulberry gin
1 ounce La Quintinye Vermouth Royal blanc
1/2 ounce Pierre Ferrand orange curaçao
Wide lemon twist, for garnish

1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with ice cubes. Add the Mulberry gin, blanc vermouth, Pierre, and set the clock back an hour (haha, kidding). Stir well.

2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with twist – wide if you can.

April 15, 2016

What I’m Drinking: The Negroni

Some days, some nights, some mornings even, you just want a good drink, like you want to see an old friend, to just talk happily with, without getting all serious and pompous and braggy and posturing and . . . oh, all that stuff that old friends don’t usually do, but so many people do, sadly. The Negroni, now, of course is a superstar, with many variations that are boringly named (really – people, we don’t call the Negroni a Gin-icano, or a Gin Americano, etc, etc), and people all over-board and over-boorish about it. But to me it’s still comfortable like an old friend, and some days, like today, I just feel like sipping one, without all the accompanying sass.


The Negroni

Cracked ice
1 ounce gin
1 ounce Campari
1 ounce sweet vermouth
Ice cubes
Orange slice, or twist – go crazy

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with cracked ice. Add the three amici. Stir well.

2. Fill an Old Fashioned or comparable glass three-quarters up with ice cubes. Strain the mix over the glass. Garnish away. Enjoy, yo.

PS: Some people serve a Negroni up. I wouldn’t turn that down. However, I often want it over ice, the way you’ll get it in the Italian countryside.

April 1, 2016

What I’m Drinking: The Course of the Evening

I’m pretty blessed to live in a state full of swell distilleries: big-ish ones, little-ish ones, medium-ish ones. And so many of them are doing their own, interesting bottled thing – it’s awesome! And during the course of one recent evening, I wanted to celebrate this particular WA-blessing by making myself a drink using all local booze. It wasn’t hard really (due to the many choices intimated at above), outside of narrowing it down – cause I like so many of them! Another night, it’d be completely different. This particular evening I was feeling rummy, though, and went with Skip Rock’s Belle Rose rum, the light-ish rum version, which was aged in white wine barrels, and has a nice vanilla-oaky-ness. I introduced it (hopefully not for the first time in history) to broVo spirits’ wonderful new-ish Lucky Falernum liqueur (especially good today). A lot of falernums available are a little cloying to me, but Lucky is higher-proof and more mighty than cloying, without losing its underlying ginger, lime, pineapple, star anise profile. Those two locals together is a good start, but I wanted a wild card, something to bring one more zing – I went with Salish Sea’s Hibiscus liqueur, made from Egyptian red hibiscus flowers, and carrying a lovely tangy tartness. Together, they made for a wonderful Washington evening indeed. No fooling!


The Course of the Evening

The Course of the Evening
Cracked ice
1-1/2 ounces Skip Rock Belle Rose light rum
1 ounce broVo spirits Lucky Falernum
1/2 ounce Salish Sea Hibiscus liqueur
Orange wedge, for garnish

1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add the trio of Washington-state delights. Stir well (I really wanted to say “just right” there).

2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Squeeze the wedge over the glass, then drop it in.

March 25, 2016

What I’m Drinking: The Merry Widow

Okay, let’s start with another drink – the Martini. Don’t worry, I’ll get to widows. But recently I received (poor me!) a bottle of Ransom Gin and a bottle of Ransom dry vermouth in the mail. If you don’t know (and, if so, why don’t you?), Ransom is a farm-to-glass distillery and winery in Sheridan, OR, started up by owner and distiller Tad Seestedt. With the f-to-g earlier, you can probably guess that they use local ingredients by the bucketful, including in the gin alone, hops, marionberry, coriander, fennel seeds, and chamomile all produced on the Oregon farm where the distillery is, which is fantastic. And the vermouth also features wine and brandy made on the farm, using OR ingredients, too. That’s pretty darn awesome, and means these old pals (gin and vermouth, that is), in this situation are old, old pals, down to the ground. So, when one (if you’re one like me) gets a bottle of gin and a bottle of vermouth from the same spot and sharing the same agricultural legacy, the first thing that happens is opening the bottles. Then making a Martini, of course.

ransom-martiniMine are made in old school style, 2-1/2 parts gin to 1/2 part vermouth, with a twist of lemon. The end result here – darn delicious. Hints of herb and spice, but with a really lovely smoothness overall. Everything, as you’d expect, plays so nicely together. Of course, me being me and all that, I couldn’t just try the Martini, I had to push the envelope beyond the obvious with a lesser-in-the-road’s-middle cocktail. And that cocktail was the Merry Widow, which I’d recently re-discovered (I can’t remember if this is where I saw it first, honestly) in a fun book from 1936 called Burke’s Complete Cocktail and Tastybite Recipes – a fine read if you can find it. Anyway, the Merry Widow lets the vermouth shine a bit more (which is good here, because the Ransom vermouth is very drinkable all alone, with an balanced herbal, citrus, combo), and also introduces just a hint of a few other players, all of whom played well. Give it a whirl, and see if you can taste that good Oregon terroir coming through. I served a round to some pals, and they all could – and thought the drink would make any widow get up and dance.

merry-widow The Merry Widow

Cracked ice
1-1/2 ounces Ransom gin
1-1/2 ounces Ransom dry vermouth
2 dashes Absinthe
2 dashes Benedictine
1 dash Angostura bitters
Lemon twist, for garnish

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

2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Now, bring that twist to the OR party.

March 18, 2016

What I’m Drinking: The Blackthorn

Well, it’s the day after St. Patrick’s Day, so you may be up to your ears already in drinks utilizing Irish whiskey this week – but really, can you have too many? Not when you’re using some deliciousness like The Quiet Man Traditional blended Irish whiskey, which is re-casked in first-fill bourbon casks. It carries a very approachable nature, along with a vanilla, honey, apple, spice, and oak flavor that’s sippable, sure, but which also plays well with others – as in this drink. This drink, by the way, you’ll sometimes see with other ingredients (mostly a sloe gin variety). Well, the name you’ll see on other ingredients I suppose would be proper. But this time of year, this is the only way to go, as many have gone before you (it is a fairly old drink). Have a few, and you’ll be telling stories in no time. Unlike The Quiet Man founder Ciaran Mulgrew’s father, John Mulgrew, who this whiskey was named after and who worked many years in the Irish bar world, and who, as they say “told no tales.” A good story! Which also always makes a drink taste better.

The Blackthorn, using the recipe from Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz

Ice cubes
2 ounces Quiet Man Traditional blended Irish whiskey
1 ounce sweet vermouth
1/4 ounce absinthe
3 dashes Angostura bitters
Lemon twist, for garnish

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the Irish, the sweet vermouth, absinthe, and bitters. Shake well.

2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Twist the twist over the glass and let it drop in.

March 11, 2016

What I’m Drinking: The Washington

I am, admittedly, about 18 days late here, as first president Washington’s birthday is Feb. 22nd. But I’ve never thought one should only honor the father of our country with a drink on that particular day (December 14, the day he passed away, is another good one), and for that matter, feel there’s not one particular drink to have, either. Another good one, for example, is the Washington’s Wish (in Dark Spirits if you want to know more). And I’ll bet there are others called just Washington too, as it seems a good name for a drink. This one is a good one, though it can be tough, as it’s very vermouth forward, so you need a good vermouth, first off. I used Dolin, which is reliable, tasty, and something one should always have around the house. Then, you need a super brandy, since it’s lower in volume than the vermouth – it needs to stand up a bit. I used Lepanto Solera Gran Reserva Brandy de Jerez (which showed up in the mail, to be honest), the only brandy to be produced entirely in Jerez. It’s nearly too swell for mixing (and great on its own), but hey, sometimes you gotta say “why not?” Aged in American oak barrels once used for sherry for 15 years, it has a nutty and spice taste, with strong wood notes, that go amazingly with the vermouth. This is one fine cocktail, friends, and worthy of the historic personage it’s named after – even when had a little later than expected.

The Washington, from Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz

Ice cubes
2 ounces Dolin dry vermouth
1 ounce Lepanto Lepanto Solera Gran Reserva Brandy de Jerez
4 dashes Angostura bitters
1/2 ounce Simple Syrup

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the vermouth, brandy, bitters, and simple syrup. Shake well.

2. Strain into a cocktail glass

March 4, 2016

What I’m Drinking: The Hurricane

Created at some point in the 1940s (as the story goes) by Pat O’Brien (whose bar when first opened during Prohibition had the code phrase “storm’s brewin’” if you wanted in) to get rid of the cheaper rum his distributors forced him to buy in order to get the more desirable whiskey and Scotch, by mixing said rum with fruit juice and such and then giving it all away to sailors, the Hurricane is now thought of as a drink for drunken-and-wanna-be-drunker collegians. It’s usually made with a pre-mix-y thing that would make Pat turn over in his grave, and usually has all the taste of off-brand Kool-Aid. Hopefully whoever gets the $$ from this travesty is happy. But! And however! Even if he was originally  making it as a give-a-way, a Hurricane made more closely to the original idea, and with homemade ingredients (at least the grenadine), and decent rum (which is plentiful), is actually darn good, refreshing, fruity, and a treat. A treat! So, don’t believe the hype. Believe the Hurricane. Oh, the below recipe can easily be doubled, as the below is a lighter wind than my usual recipe, which is only for sailors. For gosh sakes though, if drinking that doubled version, don’t go sailing or driving, and do use a fancy Hurricane-style glass.

The Hurricane, recipe from Good Spirits

Ice cubes
1-1/2 ounces white rum
1/2 ounce dark rum
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 ounce homemade grenadine
1/2 ounce passion fruit syrup
1/2 ounces pineapple juice
Orange slice for garnish

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the rums, lime juice, grenadine, passion fruit syrup, and pineapple. Shake really well.

2. Fill an old fashioned or comparable glass halfway with ice cubes. Strain the mix through a fine strainer into the glass.

3. Garnish with an orange slice.

A Note: Passion fruit syrup can be hard to find – check Asian grocery stores and online. But if you absolutely can’t track it down, substitute 1 ounce simple syrup. Not quite the same, but not quite awful, either.

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