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.
April 22, 2016
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
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
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.
1 ounce gin
1 ounce Campari
1 ounce sweet vermouth
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
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
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
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.
Mine 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.
The Merry Widow
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.