September 1, 2015
Paul Clarke is a swell guy. I once compared him to an Anthony Trollope quote and he never complained (it was quite a good quote!). He writes a blog, and has since time began, more or less, called The Cocktail Chronicles, which I read a lot, but was always too shy to comment on – and he still says “hello” when I see him at local Seattle bars. He also is now editor-at-large for the insightfully-tipsy Imbibe, and has written for most of the good mags, online and off. Through all that, he’s been a witty, learned (in the best ways, like, say Dr. Johnson, but with drinks instead of dictionaries), educating, tasteful, and bespectacled voice throughout the cocktail resurgence and renaissance. And now he has a book! It’s called The Cocktail Chronicles (which is logical, as it feels a very thorough extension, in a way, of the blog): Navigating The Cocktail Renaissance with Jigger, Shaker, and Glass, and it’s darn good. It has enough history-of-booze-and-drinks to satisfy the history buffs, and enough humor to satisfy the humor buffs. And enough drinks for a whole year’s worth of parties, and then a few more on top.
If you, like me, are a home bartender who actually, you know, likes to read, you’ll love this, and find much to make your evenings more enjoyable. If you’re a pro bartender, then, well, I consider you a failure of sorts if you don’t devour this book as part of your professional education (oh, buy one of mine, too, cause I need new shoes). If you can’t tell, I think it’s a darn fine book. And I didn’t even mentioned the design, which has a certain 1920s style all its own, with fine drawings and layouts and balance as opposed to over-wrought stylized foodie shots. Which is refreshing.
Not sold? Hmm, maybe you should read the below excerpt, a drink recipe for the Blood and Sand. You’ll understand my enthusiasm once you do, trust me.
The below is from Paul Clarke’s The Cocktail Chronicles: Navigating The Cocktail Renaissance with Jigger, Shaker, and Glass
BLOOD AND SAND
Spoiler alert: the recipe includes neither.
Some legacies deserve permanence, while others could use a little cleanup.
On the permanence side there’s Rudolf Valentino, the actor who, in 1922, starred as an ill–fated matador in Blood and Sand. In 1926, just a few years before the advent of talkies would destroy the careers of many of his co- stars, Valentino shared that Blood and Sand was his favorite of his films; a few days later, he was dead from peritonitis, leaving only the legacy of a dashingly handsome star who would never age, and whose voice would never be heard.
The Blood and Sand cocktail, however, has a less–illustrious legacy. Its print debut was in 1930 as an equal–parts recipe in the Savoy Cocktail Book, but following its revival during the cocktail renaissance, the Blood and Sand began to suffer from its own imperfections. Fact of the matter, the Savoy’s Blood and Sand just isn’t all that great. Oh, it can be nice when made well, but “nice” isn’t the same thing as “holy hell, that’s scrumptious.”
But craft bartenders like to tinker, and many have taken a crack at the Blood and Sand’s formula. Some boost the whisky’s profile by increasing its volume in the drink as well as by utilizing smokier, burlier styles. Others tweak the orange juice’s insipid contribution, either swapping in the juice of blood oranges or adding lemon to the mix; and others just chuck three of the ingredients down the sink and drink the whisky on its own without all the fanfare.
Nothing against straight Scotch, but the Blood and Sand’s legacy is one worth preserving. Tip one to Valentino, and don’t view the recipe specs with anything resembling rigidity.
BLOOD AND SAND
1 oz. blended Scotch whisky
1 oz. orange juice
3/4 oz. sweet vermouth
3/4 oz. Cherry Heering
Method: Shake ingredients with ice to chill; strain into chilled glass. Garnish.
Tips: Give the whisky’s power a jolt by bumping the Scotch to 11/2 oz. and dropping everything else to 3/4 oz., or keep the above proportions and instead swap a blended malt like Great King Street or a single malt like Highland Park 12 for the blended Scotch. You can also add a teaspoon of lemon juice to give it a little more pep, or substitute blood–orange juice for the OJ. And if you put a slice of orange in the shaker before mixing, it’ll give the cocktail an added—and welcome—dimension.
August 28, 2015
A late summer number if there ever was one – Behold, The River is refreshing, full of summer-y flavors without being near treacly, a nice color, and not too hard to make. If you’re actually having it alongside a river, well, you get bonus points for that! Not sure what the bonus points get you however, except a good time, and some undying gratitude from those you make the drink for, and my high esteem. Which may be worth something?
Behold, The River
1-3/4 ounces vodka
1 ounce Sidetrack Distillery blackberry liqueur
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
Four ounces chilled club soda
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the vodka, liqueur, and lemon juice. Shake well.
2. Fill a highball or comparable glass three-quarters up with ice cubes. Strain the mix through a fine strainer into the glass. Top with the soda. Stir carefully, but thoroughly.
A Note: Having trouble finding Sidetrack Distillery blackberry liqueur? Well, you may need to take a trip to Washington, oh intrepid one!
August 21, 2015
Before you say anything – I know I’ve featured this drink-named-after-an-Olympic-fencer on the Spiked Punch blog before! I know it, and that’s okay, me thinks, because it’s such a fine drink that naturally it would be What I’m Drinking more than once. Also, a reader and drinker named sassy Scott has been hankering after more Campari drinks (even if he hasn’t directly requested it, he has talked about his love of Campari drinks, and from that I surmised he probably needs some other options). So, with all that said, here we are, the Lucien Gaudin. En garde!
1 ounce gin
1/2 ounce Cointreau
1/2 ounce Campari
1/2 ounce dry vermouth
Orange twist, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add the gin, Cointreau, Campari, and dry vermouth. Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with the orange twist.
August 14, 2015
This is a very Washington state drink (cause I love my local producers – you should love ‘em, too, and your local producers, no matter what your locale). It uses three Washington-state boozes, at least in its original form. However! If you’re not in Washington state (first, sorry – come visit!), you could conceivably make this subbing in non-WA rum, and sweet vermouth, instead of the Skip Rock Belle Rose rum and broVo Jammy vermouth. It’s a little trickier with the Sidetrack Blackberry liqueur. But I think subbing in Chambord (made from French black raspberries and more widely available at this moment) would still make a dandy drink. But heck, really, come on out here and do some shopping at our local distilleries. I mean, why not?
The Orchard Sea
1-1/2 ounces Skip Rock Distillery Belle Rose rum
1 ounce Sidetrack Blackberry liqueur
1/2 ounce broVo Spirits Jammy red vermouth
1/4 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with ice cubes. Add the rum, blackberry liqueur, vermouth, and lime juice. Shake well.
2. Strain through a fine strainer into a cocktail glass.
August 7, 2015
Recently, as sometimes happens (don’t be jealous!), a bottle showed up in the mail. This time, it was Boodles gin (thanks Boodles!) and I couldn’t have been happier. I’d had Boodles here and there, but not at home (well, unless I’m remembering poorly and it was long long ago, and I’m not that old, really). Boodles is a very proper British gin – a variety of spirit I’m quiet fond of – made from British wheat, with a number of botanicals and herbs (though, a bit unlike a fair share of modern gins, no citrus). As you might expect, it’s dandy in Martinis and the more traditional gin drinks.
But hey, if you’ve read this blog before (and if you haven’t, where have you been, friend), you know I tend on occasion to want to push the envelope so to speak, see if I can create a drink that isn’t necessarily along the lines you might think, or which uses ingredients that at first glance make one say, “what?” An Elusive Memory, a Boodles-based cocktail I made up recently, sorta falls into that category. But darn, the end result is so dreamy. It’s just that Meletti anisette (the finest anisette, in my opinion) doesn’t necessarily seem like it’d go with Boodles at first, and especially Lillet (another key ingredient). Then I brought the new-ish Whiskey Barrel Aged Peychaud’s bitters in, and . . . not an expected “umm,” but a welcome “ah-ha!” It took a big of finagling, but trust me, folks, this is a tasty, layered, mixture that plays nice.
An Elusive Memory
1-1/2 ounces Boodles gin
1/2 ounce Meletti anisette
1/2 ounce Lillet
2 dashes Whiskey Barrel Aged Peychaud’s bitters
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add everything. Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail shaker. Try to remember the time before you’d tasted this fine drink.
A Note: If you can’t find the Whiskey Barrel Aged Peychaud’s, you can use the normal variety. It won’t be quite as elusive, but close.
July 31, 2015
You know a drink’s good when it’s in the title of a book. Hah! See, the funny part is, I’m saying that about this particular drink that is in the title of one of my own books (Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz, that is), which probably makes me sound like a bit of a chump. But heck, when you try the bubbly below drink, you’ll forgive me I’ll bet. It’s another one that’s matches summer like a well-matched sock (I really love socks – one more little tidbit about me you were dying to know), as it’s refreshing but not too taxing to make. I suggest it for brunches, where its color and deliciously delicate flavor is sure to be a hit.
The Violet Fizz
2 ounces gin
1/2 ounce crème de violette
1/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 ounce simple syrup
Chilled club soda
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the gin, crème de violette, lemon juice, and simple syrup. Shake extra well.
2. Fill a highball glass three-quarters full with ice cubes. Strain the mixture into the glass.
3. Fill the glass with chilled club soda, stir well, and drink quickly, before those bubbles have a chance to fade.
July 24, 2015
I decided I needed a break from summer cocktails – even though it’s still sweaty time here in Seattle. But even during these sweaty times, some days, darnit, I’m not feeling bubbly. Say it’s the job (it’s the job), or just the first song I listened to today, or that malaise that creeps in like weeds on even the most jolly of us (I am the most jolly), but even in cut-off wearing summer, there are days like this, days when you need something that’s packs more umph, and delivers a respite to the world and the woes. For me, today, it’s the Oriental.
If you haven’t heard me mention it before (as I’ve written about this drink in a couple spots), I originally found the Oriental in the classic Savoy Cocktail Book, and love the drink’s balance, underlying strength, and story. Which goes, as said in that same book, like this:
In August, 1924, an American engineer nearly died of fever in the Philippines and only the extraordinary devotion of Doctor B. saved his life. As an act of gratitude, the engineer gave Doctor B. the recipe of this cocktail (the Oriental).
So, it’s a lifesaving drink – as well as a bad day saver. Get in front of a fan, forget about all the sunshine, laughter, and summertime kicks outside the window, and start sipping.
1-1/2 ounce rye (Woodinville’s nice)
3/4 ounces sweet vermouth (I used Punt e’ Mes)
3/4 ounce Pierre Ferrand orange curaçao
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
1. Fill a cocktail shaker half way full with cracked ice. Add everything. Shake well (as Rick reminds us in the comments below).
2. Strain the mix into a cocktail glass.
July 17, 2015
The Princess (created by my wife, Princess Nat) is one of my favorite summer drinks. It clicks all the hot weather boxes: super easy to make, super refreshing, super tasty. Just super. I suggest having one right now, if your locale has temperatures that have risen above, say, 75. Make a bunch, have some friends over, and kick up yer summertime heels. Just don’t forget the suntan lotion. Oh, wait, one thing! Originally, and usually, the Princess has raspberries, but as you’ll see in the below picture, today I’m making it with blueberries. Because they looked better than the raspberries! Hence the Princess B moniker. You can go either way and be assured of loving this drink. Trust me, friends, trust me.
The Princess B (using the recipe from Good Spirits)
1-1/2 ounces limoncello
5 or 6 fresh blueberries
Chilled club soda
1. Fill a Collins glass (or another glass – don’t sweat about it, just adjust the amount of limoncello if needed. You’ll know) three quarters full with ice cubes. Add the limoncello.
2. Fill the glass to about a half-inch from the top with the club soda. Add the fresh blueberries. Stir slowly, but with purpose. Don’t be afraid (actually you’re encouraged) to bust up the berries a little. You want to stir until every ingredient is well combined.