Admittedly, I’m usually (as anyone who knows me knows, or, even if you don’t actually know me in an in-person way, if you read this blog you probably know) a staunch soapboxer about drinks-that-borrow-names-from-other-drinks. Meaning, I think a drink name should be as creative as a drink, and that even a small ingredient change needs a new name. So, inis, ritas, olitans, all those, make me sad, as does the recent proliferation of Negroni names. Jaysus, bartenders, be creative!
However, this Dry Negroni is pretty darn swell, and so I can step off my soapbox while I’m sipping. For some reason I’d never even thought to try the subbing of dry for sweet vermouth, cause I am silly. And, I picked up the recipe and idea from rollicking Rob Chirico’s new book, Not My Mother’s Kitchen: Rediscovering Italian-American Cooking Through Stories and Recipes! Rob has a host of good books you should pick up, and his latest is both funny and tasty. It up-ends the hoary tradition of so many cookbooks, where the cook/writer has learned the craft at the side of some family elder, because it turns out Rob’s mother was a terrible cook, and he had to learn in spite of it. It’ll have you laughing and have you making delish dishes all at once, thanks to the combination of funny stories and helpful recipes, the whole of which is written in a wonderful convivial style. There’s even a short chapter on Italian libations, and that’s where I picked up this recipe.
Canlis is one of Seattle’s restaurant gems, and I (and wife Nat of course!) recently got to stop in and sit at the re-designed bar and sip and chat with friendly bar manager James MacWilliams and bartender José Castillo. One of the sippers was the Ouroboros, a mezcal-based delicious drink that José came up with. Then, I got to write about the drink (including the recipe for it) and the place and the people for Seattle magazine. You should read about it now. Then head to Canlis yourself.
Sometimes, a holiday week can feel like you’ve been on a trip. Sometimes a fun trip! Sometimes a filling trip. Sometimes a tiring trip. Sometimes . . . well, you get the idea, right? Right! Even with a wondrous trip, you still may feel a little weary after it, and that’s where this drink comes in (it was created after my return from my longest trip, seven months living in Italy, hence the Italian-American-ness of it). I’ve used a number of bourbons when making this but most recently used the new-ish Backbeat bourbon, from Seattle’s swell 3 Howls distillery. It’s got a mix of 75% corn, 21% rye, and 4% barley and is finished in French Oak. Smooth, with a little honey-ness, spice, and oak, it mingles swell-ly with maraschino and old pal Fernet-Branca here. Try it and see! You’ll feel less weary, I’ll bet.
It’s the day after Thanksgiving – if you don’t think I’m drinking a Gizmo, you’re mad, friend, mad (oh, see past Gizmo posts, if you must):
The Gizmo, from Jeremy Holt
2-1/2 ounces gin
1 ounce homemade cranberry sauce, which I know you have leftovers of right now
1/2 ounce simple syrup (optional)
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the gin and cranberry sauce, and syrup if using (if you’re not into the sweets, omit the syrup). Shake exceptionally well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a turkey leg. Or, for vegetarians, a hunk of stuffing on a toothpick.
A Note: Not sure about making homemade cranberry sauce? Try this (also courtesy JH): Add 1 bag cranberries, the juice and zest of 1 orange, and 1 cup sugar to a saucepan. Heat until required sauce texture is reached.
While some may think of Thanksgiving’s upcoming table as an enchanted field of food, well, I understand where you’re coming from, but we haven’t gotten there yet, food-loving friends. So, instead, have this Enchanted Field now, and then that one later. Really, we all may need enchantments now, or now and then, but especially now. I’m typing a little bit like I’m enchanted, and maybe in a field, too, at the moment. But hey, you have a couple of these, see how it goes – you’ll want to type enchantingly your own self.
So, you know about 11:11, right? Magic number? All that? Here’s what the reliable (depending on your source) Wikipedia says to kick things off:
Numerologists believe that events linked to the time 11:11 appear more often than can be explained by chance or coincidence. This belief is related to the concept of synchronicity. Some authors claim that seeing 11:11 on a clock is an auspicious sign. Others claim that 11:11 signals a spirit presence. The belief that the time 11:11 has mystical powers has been adopted by believers in New Age philosophies.
I may believe all of that. Well, who knows. I may be kidding, too. I remember that – or think I do – my old pal Jon was the first to tell me about 11:11 being something you wish on when you see it randomly on the clock. Though it could have been an ancient spirit posing as Jon? Maybe. But I’ve spent many years making wishes in this situation, and now, today, it’s actually 11-11 on the calendar, so I’m going to drink a Three Wishes cocktail at exactly 11:11 today (both in the morning and at night, to be safe), and make some wishes. Wish me luck! Oh, you can do the same – I’m happy to share wishes.
Well, you play that tarantella, all the hounds will start to roar
The boys all go to hell and then the Cubans hit the floor
They drive along the pipeline, they tango ’til they’re sore
They take apart their nightmares and they leave them by the door
Let me fall out of the window with confetti in my hair
Deal out Jacks or better on a blanket by the stairs
I’ll tell you all my secrets, but I lie about my past
And send me off to bed for evermore . . .
That’s Tom Waits, friends. Lyrics from the song “Tango ’til They’re Sore,” naturally. The inspiration, that song, and the record it’s on, for this very drink. You’ll need to listen to the whole thing and the whole of Rain Dogs, now. If you weren’t already.
The Hounds They Start to Roar
2 ounces bourbon
3/4 ounce St. Elizabeth’s Allspice Dram
1/2 ounce brandy (Spanish, of course)
2 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with cracked ice. Add the whole bunch of ingredients. Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass or goblet. Sing Tom songs, of course.
Well, it’s nearly Halloween, and that means it’s time for one of the traditions here at Spiked Punch, the one where I drink a Warlock cocktail and turn into a zombie magician of sorts. Oh, the Warlock is a good drink, too, well worthy of your spooky celebrations, with brandy, Strega, limoncello, orange juice, and Peychaud’s bitters. I can’t wait to drink it, consequences be darned. You should take the same stance this October.
The Man Behind the Evening's PlansA.J. Rathbun is a freelance food and entertainment writer, poet and author, a frequent guest on the Everyday Food program (Martha Stewart Living/Sirius satellite radio), and is a contributor to culinary & entertainment magazines such as Every Day with Rachael Ray, The Food Network Magazine, Real Simple, Wine Enthusiast, and many others. Of course, there's so much more to it than that...Read More