April 24, 2015
Sometimes, I even surprise myself when making drinks. This is one of those times! When I started messing around with the three ingredients in this drink, I was all, “there is no way these will come together,” and then, “yowza!” they worked better together than Sonny and Cher. During their good period. It started with Sidetrack Distillery’s new Shiso liqueur, which is made from the Asian herb it’s named after, and which is a singular, herby, botanical elixir that must be tasted to be believed, and which has a brilliant color to match its taste. I figured (rightly, as it turned out) that it would go well with gin, but I needed a gin that had a solid juniper taste, but also a little citrus, and some botanicals as well – and Copperworks gin is just like that (and it’s local to WA, much like the Shiso, so that was nice). But the third ingredient is a wild card – the Italian orange-y and a wee bitter-y aperitif, Aperol. I just worried the cocktail would get muddled with all those flavors, but dang, instead they all just shared the spotlight in a way that let the flavors shine. This is swell spring drink, and if you can track down these three, give it a whirl.
How Does Your Garden Grow
2 ounces Copperworks gin
1 ounce Sidetrack Distillery Shiso liqueur
1 ounce Aperol
Orange 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. Garnish with the orange twist.
April 17, 2015
Okay, I know it’s only April, but dang, we’ve had some serious spring days out this-a-way, with that good ol’ sunshine bringing the light and warmth – and the need for bubbly, refreshing drinks, like the good ol’ Gin Fizz. If you’re in a locale where it doesn’t feel springlike (and admittedly, we’re still having days where it seems anything but spring), well, you should still have a Gin Fizz, because when sipping it you’ll feel the sense of spring, even if outside your window it’s anything but.
The Gin Fizz, using the recipe from Good Spirits
1-1/2 ounces gin
1 ounce simple syrup
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
Chilled club soda
Lemon slice, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the gin, simple syrup, and lemon juice. Shake well.
2. Fill a highball glass three-quarters up with ice cubes. Strain the mix into the glass through a fine strainer.
3. Top off the glass with soda water. Garnish with a lemon slice.
A Variation: Add the white of an egg to the shaker along with the gin, syrup, and lemon juice and you have a Silver Fizz.
A Variation: Add the yolk of an egg to the shaker along with the gin, syrup, and lemon juice and you have a Golden Fizz.
A Variation: Add the white of an egg to the shaker along with the gin, syrup, and lemon juice and you have a Royal Fizz. And breakfast.
April 10, 2015
This is one of those moments where I wonder about my own sanity. I woke up this morning, and thought, “I’ve never had the Bijou recipe on the ol’ Spiked Punch blog. And the Bijou is one of my all-time favorites, at least in the top 20, or 25, somewhere in that range for sure, and a drink I travel back to again and again because of its balance and herbal-spice-nice combination, and cause it’s called the Bijou for Bruce’s sake, and what am I doing not having it on the blog?” So, I thought all that, got up, and instantly made myself a Bijou. You should do the same.
Bijou, from Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz
1 -1/2 ounces gin
3/4 ounce green Chartreuse
3/4 ounce sweet vermouth
Lemon twist, for garnish (sometimes this is skipped, but I sorta like it)
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add the gin, Chartreuse, and vermouth. Stir well.
2. Strain the mixture into a cocktail glass. Twist the twist over the glass and drop it in.
April 3, 2015
You might think if I told you that I made up this cocktail with a cherry-ish liqueur and also Merry Cherry Bee Knee’s (whatever that might be) that it’d be sweet in all the wrong ways, and make your teeth hurt. Well, pals, you’d be wrong! But don’t take it too bad, cause really, you probably didn’t know that the cherry liqueur in question was Boomerang, the new release from Washington’s broVo Spirits, which was created in conjunction with Micah Melton, beverage director at Chicago’s Aviary, and which isn’t just cherry, but cherry mingled with apricot, walnut, cinnamon, orange, vanilla, and peppercorn. So, savory, and not too sweet at all.
But that’s really just the half of it! The Merry Cherry Bee’s Knees is also the kicker, and really what gives this drink the umph that I (and I’ll bet you) love so well. Bee’s Knees, in this situation, means a spirit distilled from mead, the honey-fermented-and-fruit-beverage that probably makes you think of Vikings, or Renaissance Fairs. However, jump back from that thought. These Bee’s Knees are made by the Hardware Distillery, also in WA, and while they take characteristics from the mead and fruit (beyond Merry Cherry, there are Peachy Keen, Fig, Raspberry, and Plum varieties), they’re still a spirit, and aged in oak, and have the heft and personality of a whiskey.
So, what’s that all mean? Come to WA (or, if you’re here, stay here), get these ingredients, and try this drink. Then you’ll see what it means. And be happier for it. Also, if you can tell me where the name comes from, I’ll buy you three drinks.
Like to a Double Cherry
2 ounces Merry Cherry Bee’s Knees
1 ounce Boomerang liqueur
1/2 ounce Cocchi Torino sweet vermouth
Rainer cherry, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add everything except the real cherry. Stir well.
2. Add the cherry to a cocktail glass. Strain the mix into the glass and over the cherry.
March 27, 2015
The Montmartre cocktail was possibly named for the neighborhood, which gets its name from the death and decapitation of a bishop, archdeacon, and priest in 1272. That’s heavy! But the drink itself is fairly light on its toes and on the tongue, while carrying a great balance of flavors. However, recently I made it but changed things up slightly, and it was even better than it has ever been throughout history. Ever. EVER! How? Well, first, I subbed in Pierre Ferrand orange curaçao for the traditional triple sec, and the slightly dry and more flavorful nature of the former was fantastic. I also changed the maraschino cherry in for a Rainer cherry right off the tree in my yard. But what may have helped most (this didn’t change the recipe, but certainly helped the flavor) was using Martin Miller gin, whose 10 botanical blend brings a great amount of friendly complexity to the layers of taste here. All together, this makes one of the best drinks I’ve had this week (or longer). I did, since I made changes, think I needed to change the name, at least a little. Hence, the Montmartre-y.
1-1/2 ounces Martin Miller gin
3/4 ounce sweet vermouth
3/4 ounce Pierre Ferrand orange curaçao
Rainer cherry, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker half way with ice cubes. Add the gin, vermouth, and orange curaçao. Shake well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry.
March 20, 2015
I tend to shy away from pre-flavored spirits. So many, especially in my early years (but even now, for sure) are flavored chemically, with nothing natural involved, and the taste reflects this attitude. It’s a shame, but hey, them’s the breaks. However, with today’s focus on better taste, and so many smaller distilleries who’d rather serve up delicious bottled items instead of just getting out as much as possible, well, there are some good flavored numbers starting to show up. Example A: Skiprock Distiller’s Badger Pocket black peppercorn vodka. I would expect Skiprock (a distillery from Snohomish, WA) to have a good flavored vodka, since their regular potato-based vodka is awfully tasty and uses potatoes grown right here in WA. They use whole peppercorns in the Badger Pocket, and the end result is a vodka that’s spicy, but not as sharp as you might expect – there’s actually a hint of sweetness in there, too. When using it in cocktails, this gives it more flexibility than you might expect. It makes a great Bloody Mary (as you’d guess), but also goes well with fruit liqueurs and a whole wide range of things. But, funny enough, when I was playing around with it, I ended up going a whole different route than originally planned, pairing it finally with the Italian aperitif Aperol (whose just-about-bitter-and-citrus-ness is a dream) and a little Scrappy’s orange bitters, ending with a drink that’d ideal when the sun is shining.
The Badger’s Feather
2 ounces Skiprock Badger Pocket vodka
1 ounce Aperol
1 dash Scrappy’s orange bitters
Lemon twist, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add the vodka, Aperol, and bitters. Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with the twist.
March 13, 2015
Here’s a little rock-and-roll tippler for your upcoming St. Patrick’s Day (forget about that chemical-ized green beer – time to step it up). A cousin of the better-known Tom Collins, the Mike version of the family has the same swell refreshing nature of the TC, but switches the gin for good old Irish whiskey. If you are ready to really step up (and you should be — you deserve it), and aren’t afraid of mixing with a fine whiskey, then try Teeling’s flagship small batch whiskey in this. Aged in ex-rum casks, Teeling has a strong and superb taste, with a little herbalness and vanilla and a smidge of sweetness. Oh, you may want to have a little Teeling by itself, too. Why not?
The Mike Collins, from Dark Spirits
2 ounces Teeling Irish whiskey
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
1/4 ounce simple syrup
Chilled club soda
Lemon slice, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice cubes. Add the whiskey, juice, and syrup. Shake well.
2. Fill a Collins glass three quarters up with ice cubes. Strain the mix over the ice. Fill almost to the top with chilly club soda. Garnish with a lemon slice.
March 6, 2015
It’s one of my favorite weather times of year here in Seattle – early spring, late winter, whatever you want to call it, the hallmarks are a temperature that hovers in the mid-50s, and a sunshine that breaks through for days in a row (though don’t tell anyone, as we like to keep people thinking it’s raining all the time in Seattle). So, chilly and sunny. It’s a beautiful time. Especially on Sundays, when you don’t have much pressing, the whole weather-mosphere in the afternoon is amazing. And it’s ideal Rusty Nail weather. The somewhat misunderstood Rusty Nail gets shafted these days, but its combination of umph and a hint of honey-loveliness goes so well with these types of days. What makes it even better is using Syndicate 58/6 Scotch. A blend of 18 single malt whiskies and 4 single grain whiskies and aged 2 to 4 years in Oloroso sherry casks, this is one tasty Scotch. With citrus and other tropical fruits, ginger, and spice on the nose, and then marmalade, apple, fig, and caramel on the tongue. I supposed many would say it’s a Scotch to savor solo (and they wouldn’t be wrong), but if you’re up for it, mixing this top Scotch into a Rusty Nail will take you to another level, and make your early spring, late winter Sunday afternoon something really memorable. Trust me.
The Rusty Nail
2 ounces Syndicate 58/6 Scotch
1 ounce Drambuie
1. Place ice cubes in an Old Fashioned glass until they reach the halfway point. Let the Scotch and then the Drambuie cascade into the glass.
2. Stir, but not tackily.