June 24, 2016
Sometimes, one gets cravings (I’m no fortune teller, but I’m seeing that in everyone’s future, they’ll get cravings, too), of all sorts, I suppose. Example A: the other day, I had a swell drink made with maraschino (the most misunderstood of all liqueurs, historically, or at least the last, let’s say, 40 years of history, because too many think it’s sickly like those sick twisted things that pass as maraschino cherries in mass market grocery stores, when it’s not, at all, instead being dry and a hint nutty, being made from the pits of the marasca cherries and all), and that swell drink made me crave more maraschino drinks. And so I went for the Sweet Pie, a cuddly classic-y number, where the always tasty and reliable Luxardo Maraschino shines alongside gin and sweet vermouth, and a smidge of simple syrup comes along for the ride to round the edges in a cuddly – as mentioned – manner. Dreamy deliciousness.
Sweetie Pie, from Good Spirits
1 1/2 ounces gin
3/4 ounce sweet vermouth
3/4 ounce Luxardo Maraschino liqueur
1/2 ounce simple syrup
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the gin, sweet vermouth, maraschino liqueur, and simple syrup. Shake well.
2. Add the cherry to a cocktail glass or pretty cordial. Strain the mix into the glass.
PS: Sometimes this is garnished with a Maraschino cherry. But sometimes I want to skip the fruit. You go as you go.
June 17, 2016
This tequila champion takes its name from a quote from General Ignacio Zaragoza, who commanded the forces at the battle of Puebla (where he, in a massive upset, won the day, and that winning is what is celebrated on Cinco de Mayo, but just because that’s a fact, it doesn’t mean that you should only have this drink then. No, no, no! This drink is good anytime. Know that, and you can skip the whole upset thing, and just be happy). It uses the swell Corralejo Tequila Reposado as its base, a tequila crafted out of 100% blue agave, and then said tequila is aged in American oak for at least three months. The end result is a smooth agave-spice-caramel flavor that mingles dreamily with sweet vermouth, orange bitters, and a hint of citrus in this very drink.
The National Arms
1-1/2 ounces Corralejo Tequila Reposado
1 ounce sweet vermouth
1/4 ounce lemon juice
2 dashes orange bitters
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the tequila, vermouth, juice, and bitters. Shake well.
2. Strain through a fine strainer into a cocktail glass. Garnish with the lemon twist.
June 10, 2016
As any truly worthy encyclopedia tells us, poets love gin. I mean, poets (most poets) love drinking most anything. Trust me, I’ve known my fair (or unfair) share of them. But gin is up there with things they love. Which is why having a Poet’s Dream on World Gin Day, which is tomorrow, makes lyrical sense, both for those of you that are poets (like Ed Skoog), and those who like a little poetry now-and-again, and those who really just want a good gin drink to celebrate the day. I’m having mine today, along with one tomorrow, because I’m on the ball. Or because I just can’t wait!
Oh, this liquid quatrain of a cocktail dates at least to The Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book, one of the true legendary drink manuals (by Albert Crockett, and originally published in 1935), which is where I first found it. There are, in a sorta rarity, three ingredients in it in equal amounts. To make it work, you must have a gin with a lot of flavor and one that’s nice and dry, or the Bénédictine and French vermouth push it around. I’m using Cadée Gin here, and if you can get it, get it. If not, find another sturdy gin. Oh, and don’t forget the twist, or my “liquid quatrain” line above doesn’t work, and we wouldn’t want that.
The Poet’s Dream
1 ounce Cadée gin
1 ounce Bénédictine
1 ounce French (aka Dry) Vermouth
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 shaker, and garnish with the twist.
May 27, 2016
Okay, I can hear many groaning at me right now – listen, yucks, just chill out. I know that Ardbeg is a super delicious Scotch. And that tomorrow, May 28, is Ardbeg Day. That’s right – it’s such a dandy Scotch distillery that it has a day named after it. Be sure to celebrate. And perhaps the best way to celebrate is by trying, slowly and reverently, the new Ardberg Dark Cove. The darkest Ardbeg ever and one that’s only being released in a limited way (as they do on Ardbeg Day), Dark Cove takes its name from the smugglers who used to utilize the caves in the rocky hills near the Ardbeg distillery – and they weren’t using said cave for makeout spots (at least not too much). It gets its signature taste from maturing the whiskey in ex-bourbon casks, and the hearts in dark sherry casks. That’s right – two cask types! And that taste: a little raisin and date and spice up front, followed by charcoal and wood, and ending in a singular savory-ness and a little coffee and toffee. Good stuff indeed, and it goes on sale tomorrow (I got a little advance sample), so get some.
But back to the groaning you’re gonna make. See, though you really should sip this solo, I couldn’t resist (this is how my mind works) using it in a cocktail. I wanted one that really let it shine, but then also had one or two other pals along, to see how it played with others. So, I went for the Thistle. An old cocktail, really a Scotch Manhattan of sorts, you often see this with equal parts sweet vermouth and Scotch. But in some old tomes, you see double the Scotch or other slightly different ratios. I’m going even farther here, to give the Dark Cove a little more space. I’m also bringing in a serious sweet vermouth to play its role (the Banquo to the Scotch’s Macbeth, except not a ghost), Martini Gran Lusso Italian vermouth, 150th anniversary edition, based on a blend of Barbera and oak-aged Moscato. Amazing stuff. And this is an amazing. Try it, and stop your groaning.
2-1/4 ounces Ardbeg Dark Cove
3/4 ounce Martini Gran Lusso Italian vermouth
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Lemon twist, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with cracked ice. Add it all, except the twist.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with the twist.
PS: Yeah, this is very close to a Rob Roy. You can groan about that, too. While I’m having fun drinking.
May 20, 2016
I’m not usually a sugar-on-the-rim guy, or a salt, or any of that jazz. Unless it’s done really well. Which it sometimes is! So now I’m contradicting myself. But also sometimes it’s done poorly, with the spice in question all on the inside of the glass and overwhelming the drink’s flavors, instead of complementing them. But once in a while, I do go that route, especially when I’m making a drink that suggests it where the drink is also from Crosby Gaige’s Cocktail Guide and Ladies Companion, my favorite book published in 1941. And if that wasn’t enough, this has a fantastic name. If you can name a drink this swell-ly, then let me know about it, and I will make one of these for you. Really!
Mrs. Solomon Wears Slacks
2 ounces brandy
1/2 ounce orange curaçao
3 dashes Angostura bitters
1. Put a good helping of sugar (but not a mound or anything) on a saucer. Wet the outside rim of a Champagne flute (I used a lemon slice, but you could also rotate it through water on a saucer–just don’t get any water in the glass). Carefully rotate the outside rim of the glass through the sugar–but you don’t want to get any sugar on the inside. No, no, not a grain. So, be careful.
2. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add the brandy, curaçao, and bitters. Stir well.
3. Strain the mix into the flute. Slack up.
May 13, 2016
This drink has one of the truly adorable classic-y drink monikers in my humble opinioning. Well, the original does, meaning Maiden’s Blush, the first. That coy cocktail (if you don’t know) features gin, orange curacao, grenadine, and lemon juice, and is a mixture surely fit for most maiden’s a-blushing. Which may be all, as I think maidens and young ladies (and perhaps not-as-young) do blush a little, even in these rough-and-tumble days. However, my lords and ladies and maidens and non-maidens, today we are sipping on, and blushing about, the lesser-known Maiden’s Blush #2. Actually, I think the name is just as good, as it calls to mind that second maiden, the one that’s a tad overlooked at first, because she’s a bit bookish, and not so la-de-da, and she wears her hair back, and her gown isn’t cut up the thigh, and she has a pair of cat’s eye glasses on. I sorta like her. And I like this drink, though admittedly it’s not for all, due to the decent-sized dollop of Pernod in it, alongside the gin and grenadine. It works, though, if you sway towards things like Pernod, as long as you use decent (and by that I mean: homemade) grenadine, which has a tangy berry-ness that balances everything. If all that wasn’t enough, the famous Harry Craddock (famous in an early-19th-century-bar-star way, plus the author of the Savoy Cocktail Book) said about this drink, “on the principle that if you first don’t succeed, cry, cry again.”
Maiden’s Blush #2
1-1/2 ounces gin (I say use Seattle Distilling Company gin)
1 ounce Pernod
3/4 ounces homemade grenadine
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add everything. Shake well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Begin the blushing.
May 6, 2016
Hey, the Kentucky Derby is tomorrow! I’m guessing you have your hat and outfit picked out, and that you’ve slaved over the list of horses racing in the big race, and are ready to make your pick, place your bets, show off your hat, and eat your Derby pie. But do you have the right Mint Julep makings ready? I sure do, cause that’s what I’ll be having tomorrow. And this year, I’ll be using Four Roses Single Barrel bourbon in it, and feeling pretty awesome about the idea (I did get a bottle in the mail – don’t be jealous). It’s a fine, fine sipping whiskey, with some rich, smooth flavors and aromas: fruits, spices, hints of maple syrup. I nearly feel bad about having it in a drink! Except that it makes such a darn good julep!
Four Roses also has a good story – and every drink is better with a good story. It starts with founder Paul Jones, Jr., who was enthralled by a particularly beautiful Southern girl, and so sent her a proposal of marriage. She replied that if her answer to him was yes, he’d be able to tell because she’d be adorned with a corsage of roses at an upcoming ball. She showed up with a corsage of four red roses, and his love for her was so great, he named his whiskey after those roses. Add telling that story to your Derby traditions!
1 ounce simple syrup
Fresh mint leaves (4 or 5)
3 ounces Four Roses single barrel bourbon
Fresh mint sprig for garnish
1. Take one mint leaf and rub it over the inside of a metal julep cup (if you have one) or a highball glass. Be sure the mint touches each inch of the glasses inside. Drop the leaf in the glass when done.
2. Add the remaining mint leaves and the simple syrup to the glass. Using a muddler or wooden spoon, muddle the leaves and syrup. You want to be strong, but respectful.
3. Fill the glass halfway with crushed ice. Add the bourbon. Stir until the glass gets chilly.
4. Fill the glass the rest of the way with crushed ice. Stir once. Garnish with a mint sprig.
A Note: To be traditional, you must crush the ice in a cloth bag. But if this is too much work, just start with crushed or cracked ice.
A Quote: “A Mint Julep is not the process of a formula. It is a ceremony and must be performed by a gentleman possessing a true sense of the artistic, a deep reverence for the ingredients, and a proper appreciation of the occasion.” –S.B. Buckner, Jr. in a letter to General Connor, 1937.
April 29, 2016
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
1 ounce Cognac
3/4 ounce Cointreau
1/2 ounce absinthe
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.