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.
July 1, 2016
This refreshing relative of the Diablo cocktail is sure to become a summertime favorite, whether you’re wearing your 10-gallon hat and chaps (and maybe little else – it is summer after all, and very sweltering) or normal attire. It uses one of the new Stolen Fruit cocktail mixers, which I surely hope are available in your town (if not, complain to the mayor). Not a “cocktail mixer” in the yucky, pre-made un-natural way, but instead, grape-based, and more just a mixer in really-good-thing-you-add-to-booze way. What happens is, they use the fresh-pressed juice from green grapes (which is called verjus, if you’re feeling fancy), combined with other natural flavors, to make mystical (why not?) liquids, which can be added in with spirits and liqueurs and such to make cocktails and highballs and more, oh my, or just added to soda water or other juices to make fine non-boozy beverages.
So, I recently received a few to try out (I know – I’m lucky!), and made this very drink with the Hibiscus Grenache Stolen Fruit mixer, which is not only perhaps the most poetic (the word “hibiscus” is really poetic, me thinks), but which also boasts a berry, zingy, and tiny bit spicy flavor that to me screamed out tequila! Tequila! Tequila! As that’s another summer favorite around these parts, the combo felt right. And you know what? It was! Try the below, and make your summer not only more bubbly, but just plain better.
2 ounces Reposado tequila (I went with Corralejo Reposado, and it was great)
1-1/2 ounces Stolen Fruit Hibiscus Grenache
4 ounces ginger beer (I used Q ginger beer, and it spiced right)
Lime wedge, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the tequila and the stolen fruit. Shake well.
2. Fill a highball glass (preferably one shaped like a boot) three-quarters up with ice cubes. Strain the mix from step 1 into the glass.
3. Top with the ginger beer. Stir well. Garnish with that lime.
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.