February 5, 2016
I was browsing through Crosby Gaige’s Standard Cocktail Guide (which is a smallish book, much smaller that his Cocktail Guide and Ladies Companion, which I love mostest), the 4th printing from 1944, and came across a cocktail called the Boomerang. I’d seen this version before (that’s a name that has probably been used for at 67 different drinks), but it’d been a bit, and fit the What I’m Drinking bill perfectly, because the base is rye, and I had a new rye I wanted to try in a cocktail.
What rye? I can hear you asking, and I’m glad you asked. It was Spirit Works Rye, from Sonoma CA (it came in the mail, I’ll admit). Spirit Works is a “grain-to-glass” distillery, which means that grain is milled, mashed, fermented, distilled, and bottled all on site. That’s neat! The rye is a small-batch number, aged for a minimum of two years in 53-gallon, charred, new American Oak barrels. It’s a rich rye, with nice woodsy-and-baked aromas, and a little spice (nutmeg and hints of clove) on the taste mingling with vanilla and more. Very approachable and mixable.
However! This drink also has a decent helping of Swedish Punsch and Sweet Vermouth. For the latter, I wanted something special, that would deliver its own full range of flavors. Luckily, our pal Michael N had recently given us a bottle of the Martini Gran Lusso Italian vermouth, 150th anniversary edition. Now that’s a gift! It’s based on a blend of Barbera and oak-aged Moscato, with a whole host of secret botanicals. The taste is memorable, with layers of flavors, sweet on the front with just the right amount of bitter on the back end. Delicious on its own, it’s swell in drinks too. And great here with the rye and other players. Crosby would be proud.
1 ounce Spirit Works rye
3/4 ounce Martini Gran Lusso Italian vermouth
3/4 ounce Kronan Swedish Punsch
1/8 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 dash Angostura bitters
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add everything. Shake well.
2. Strain through a fine strainer into a cocktail glass. Drink, then drink again.
January 29, 2016
It’s hard being the conquered. Stinks, even. Whether you’re Gaius Flaminius at the battle of Lago Trasimeno, or at the less-happy end after a re-org in a big company, or destroyed by a hated rival during the NFL playoffs on national TV, being in that position doesn’t tend to lead to happy days. However! The nights at least can be better when you drink the below, instead of feeling the literal whips. Maybe not much better, but a little better.
The Whip of the Conqueror, from Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz
1 -1/2 ounces dark rum
1 ounce Fernet Branca
1/2 ounce apricot liqueur
1/4 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
Lime twist, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the rum, Fernet Branca, apricot liqueur, and lime juice. Shake while longing to be the conqueror.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with the twist.
January 22, 2016
I was recently flying into an airport (I don’t want to irritate said airport, so I’m resisting the urge to name, or to sound too complain-y), and not 25 minutes before landing, we were re-routed due to fog. It seemed strange – we were so close! But I figure the pilots and ATC folks know way, way better than I. And while I’m not really making a comparison, or saying I know better than anyone, really, but . . . you’ll let me now turn that little story into talking about the Black Fog, a drink that seems a little strange at first glance. But one which is darn tasty. Really! Trust me.
Black Fog, from Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz
One 12-ounce can Guinness stout
1 ounce framboise
1 or 2 mint leaves, for garnish
1. Fill a pint glass almost to the top with the Guinness.
2. Slowly pour the framboise into the glass, swirling it as you pour. Garnish with a mint leaf (or two, if you’re feeling it).
A Variation: Sometimes this is mixed using the French black raspberry liqueur Chambord, but I like the slightly stronger framboise (which is usually made from regular red raspberries and has a bit more kick).
January 15, 2016
Hey, happy 2016! Sorry there have been few posts for the last few weeks, but I went to Italy for the holidays and wasn’t able to post due to having wine in each hand. Well, wine, pizza, cheese, and grappa. And amari. And Negronis. And pasta forks. You get it! But now I’m back with a swell and simple drink for your Friday. So easy. So delicious. Just like one wants early in January. It has two key ingredients: Woodinville Whiskey Co’s new bourbon and amaretto. If you need to use another bourbon, well, I feel sorry for you. On the amaretto, I used my homemade version (recipe below), and if you can’t use that, well, I feel sorry for you again. But it would still be a good drink I think, even with slightly different ingredients. Try it! And let me know.
2 ounces Woodinville Whiskey Co. bourbon
1 ounce homemade amaretto
Wide orange twist, for garnish
1. Add a few good-sized nice ice cubes to an Old Fashioned or comparable glass. Then add the bourbon. Then the amaretto. Stir well.
2. Garnish with that orange twist. Enjoy the New Year.
A Note: To make An Enticing Amaretto (from Luscious Liqueurs) follow this recipe:
1 cup skin-on whole raw almonds
1 Tablespoon orange zest
2-1/2 cups brandy
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1-1/2 cups water
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1. Using a chef’s knife, roughly cut the almonds into smallish pieces. Add them, the orange zest, and the brandy to a large glass container, one with a secure lid. Stir well. Place the container in a cool, safe, place, away from the sun. Let sit for two weeks, swirling occasionally.
2. Add the sugars and the water to the medium-sized saucepan. Stirring occasionally, bring the mixture to a boil over a medium-high heat. Lower the heat a bit, keeping the mixture at a low boil for five minutes. Turn off the heat, and let the syrup completely cool in the pan. This step can be done anytime during the two weeks mentioned in step 1, as long as the syrup is refrigerated until it’s added to the liqueur.
3. Add the syrup made in step 2 and the vanilla to your secure container. Stir well. Place the container back in a cool, safe, place, away from the sun. Let sit for two more weeks, swirling at least every other day.
4. After the final two weeks, carefully strain the mix through double sheets of cheesecloth into a pitcher or other container, one that you can easily pour out of–there’s no need to spill.
5. Next, get two new sheets of cheesecloth, and strain the amaretto into bottles or jars with good lids–or one larger container. Serve either chilled or at room temperature, depending on your mood and inclination.
December 25, 2015
Looking for a nice drink to have today, after opening all those presents (or while, as the case may be). Try out this nicely-named-number, which not only is strong enough to balance out the sometimes hectic holiday days, but also has a healthy helping of orange juice, making it both a good breakfast drink and a boon in the cold and flu season. Just consider the suggestion my holiday gift to you! You can thank me later.
The Abbey Cocktail
2 ounces Kur gin (if you have it! If not, be sad and use another awesome gin)
1-1/2 ounces freshly squeezed orange juice
2 dashes Scrappy’s orange bitters
Maraschino cherry, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass half full with ice cubes. Add the gin, orange juice, and bitters. Shake well.
2. Strain through a fine strainer into a cocktail glass. Garnish with the cherry. Have a happy holiday!
December 18, 2015
There’s a key to this particular garden that might be hard to wrangle if you don’t happen to live out northwest way. But you could come visit! We’d be happy to see you. Oh, to jump back, the key. It’s Salish Sea’s Thyme-Coriander liqueur, which is a rich, culinary-esque sipper, and which could do well as a marinade and such, but also makes a very particular cocktail ingredient, one that plays surprisingly well with particular others – here, those others are gin (I used Bluewater Halcyon gin, an award-winner also from up this-a-way), and monastic herbal hit Bénédictine. And a touch of lemon oil, courtesy of a twist. Dang, this is a good drink. You may need to move here.
The Bosun’s Garden
1-1/2 Bluewater Halcyon gin
1 ounce Salish Sea Thyme-Coriander liqueur
1/2 ounce Bénédictine
Lemon twist, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add the gin, Thyme-Coriander liqueur, and Bénédictine. Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with the lemon twist.
December 11, 2015
Ho, ho, ho! This is what Santa drinks to stay warm as he’s delivering the gifts to all you (of age) boys and girls out there. At least the ones that have been good all year. And it’s also a drink that I created for a happening holiday hoe-down at the zesty Zinc recently. If you don’t know (well, why dontcha, first?), Zinc is an art, design, and interiors store in Edmonds, WA, perhaps the finest art, design, and interiors store anywhere ever. EVER! It has (as they say), an eclectically-curated selection that’s truly one-of-kind, and is the best stop if you need gifts. Then, you can also be like Santa, delivering great gifts while having one of these (as long as you aren’t delivering gifts in your car, of course. Don’t be silly.)
Speaking of gifts, I made this the first time with The London No. 1 gin, a small batch beaut made in the heart of London with 12 botanicals, a list including things like juniper (natch), and orange peel, to other more off-the-beaten-gin-path items like bergamot and cassia. All of which means a very individual gin, with layers of flavor. You may want that as a gift for yourself.
Sleigh Bells Ring
1-1/2 ounces The London No. 1 gin
1 ounce Strawberry Gold liqueur (See Note 1 below, and this is from Luscious Liqueurs)
1/2 ounce Red Hembarig (See Note 2 below)
2 dashes Fee Brothers cranberry bitters
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add everything but the reindeer. Shake well.
2. Strain through a fine strainer into a cocktail glass. Ho, ho, ho indeed!
Note 1: You should really pick up Luscious Liqueurs, but if you don’t have time today, here’s the recipe for Strawberry Gold, making about two pints. Gently wash 3-1/2 cups fresh strawberries and dry them on towels. When dry, remove the stems from the strawberries (I cut off the top of the strawberries, stems and all, due to the flesh around the stems being often not as sweet as the rest of the strawberry), and any blemished spots. Coarsely chop the strawberries and then add them (you should have 3-1/2 cups here) to a large glass container with a tight-fitting lid. Add 3 cups vodka to the container and stir well. Seal and place in a cool, dry spot, away from the sun. Let it sit, whirling the strawberries around the jar every 3-1/2 days. Add 1-3/4 cups simple syrup and 1-1/2 teaspoon vanilla, stir and reseal. Return it to its spot. Let it sit for two more weeks, whirling the contents every other day. Filter the liquid through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl. Strain through double sheets of cheesecloth into a pitcher, jar, or other easy-pouring vessel. Strain again through 2 new layers of cheesecloth into bottles or jars that have good lids (or one large one).
Note 2: Red Hembarig is a raspberry-vinegar syrup that made people very happy in the past. And it will now make you happy, too. To make it, start by briefly muddling two cups raspberries in a bowl, then add 1-1/4 cups apple cider vinegar and stir briefly. Let it sit overnight. Then add the raspberry-vinegar combo plus 2 cups sugar and 1/2 cups water to a saucepan. Heat to a simmer and then let simmer for 10 minutes. Take the mix off the heat and let it cool completely in the pan. Once cooled, place it in a refrigerator and let it sit overnight. Then strain the Red Hembarig through a fine strainer. Keep it in the fridge.
December 4, 2015
I first found this warmer-upper in Mary Lou and Robert J. Heiss’s book Hot Drinks (Ten Speed Press, 2007), which you should invest in if you ever like to make a drink during the cold days – and why wouldn’t you? When we’re in the winter months (which we are in WA, for sure. If you’re in an island clime right now, well, you still might want a warm drink. Just for a change), a good hot drink is essential. Essential! If you don’t believe me, make the below the next time you feel that ol’ chill in your bones, and you’ll believe me double quick.
4 ounces pomegranate juice
2 ounces Cognac
1/2 ounce Chambord
Lemon slice, for garnish
1. Add the pomegranate juice to a small saucepan and, over medium heat, let the juice come to a simmer, but not a boil. Add the Cognac and Chambord, and lower the heat to medium-low. Heat, stirring once or twice, for 2 minutes, never letting it come to a boil.
2. Pour the mix into a glass or mug that can handle the heat. Garnish with the lemon slice.