July 31, 2015

What I’m Drinking: The Violet Fizz

You know a drink’s good when it’s in the title of a book. Hah! See, the funny part is, I’m saying that about this particular drink that is in the title of one of my own books (Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz, that is), which  probably makes me sound like a bit of a chump. But heck, when you try the bubbly below drink, you’ll forgive me I’ll bet. It’s another one that’s matches summer like a well-matched sock (I really love socks – one more little tidbit about me you were dying to know), as it’s refreshing but not too taxing to make. I suggest it for brunches, where its color and deliciously delicate flavor is sure to be a hit.

violet-fizz

The Violet Fizz

Ice cubes
2 ounces gin
1/2 ounce crème de violette
1/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4  ounce simple syrup
Chilled club soda

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the gin, crème de violette, lemon juice, and simple syrup. Shake extra well.

2. Fill a highball glass three-quarters full with ice cubes. Strain the mixture into the glass.

3. Fill the glass with chilled club soda, stir well, and drink quickly, before those bubbles have a chance to fade.

July 24, 2015

What I’m Drinking: The Oriental

I decided I needed a break from summer cocktails – even though it’s still sweaty time here in Seattle. But even during these sweaty times, some days, darnit, I’m not feeling bubbly. Say it’s the job (it’s the job), or just the first song I listened to today, or that malaise that creeps in like weeds on even the most jolly of us (I am the most jolly), but even in cut-off wearing summer, there are days like this, days when you need something that’s packs more umph, and delivers a respite to the world and the woes. For me, today, it’s the Oriental.

If you haven’t heard me mention it before (as I’ve written about this drink in a couple spots), I originally found the Oriental in the classic Savoy Cocktail Book, and love the drink’s balance, underlying strength, and story. Which goes, as said in that same book, like this:

In August, 1924, an American engineer nearly died of fever in the Philippines and only the extraordinary devotion of Doctor B. saved his life. As an act of gratitude, the engineer gave Doctor B. the recipe of this cocktail (the Oriental).

So, it’s a lifesaving drink – as well as a bad day saver. Get in front of a fan, forget about all the sunshine, laughter, and summertime kicks outside the window, and start sipping.

oriental
The Oriental

Cracked ice
1-1/2 ounce rye (Woodinville’s nice)
3/4 ounces sweet vermouth (I used Punt e’ Mes)
3/4 ounce Pierre Ferrand orange curaçao
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice

1. Fill a cocktail shaker half way full with cracked ice. Add everything. Shake well (as Rick reminds us in the comments below).

2. Strain the mix into a cocktail glass.

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July 17, 2015

What I’m Drinking: The Princess B

The Princess (created by my wife, Princess Nat) is one of my favorite summer drinks. It clicks all the hot weather boxes: super easy to make, super refreshing, super tasty. Just super. I suggest having one right now, if your locale has temperatures that have risen above, say, 75. Make a bunch, have some friends over, and kick up yer summertime heels. Just don’t forget the suntan lotion. Oh, wait, one thing! Originally, and usually, the Princess has raspberries, but as you’ll see in the below picture, today I’m making it with blueberries. Because they looked better than the raspberries! Hence the Princess B moniker. You can go either way and be assured of loving this drink. Trust me, friends, trust me.

princess-b
The Princess B (using the recipe from Good Spirits)

Ice cubes
1-1/2 ounces limoncello
5 or 6 fresh blueberries
Chilled club soda

1. Fill a Collins glass (or another glass – don’t sweat about it, just adjust the amount of limoncello if needed. You’ll know) three quarters full with ice cubes. Add the limoncello.

2. Fill the glass to about a half-inch from the top with the club soda. Add the fresh blueberries. Stir slowly, but with purpose. Don’t be afraid (actually you’re encouraged) to bust up the berries a little. You want to stir until every ingredient is well combined.

July 10, 2015

What I’m Drinking: Fuori Pista

Hey, remember a week ago, when I had a special summertime cocktail featuring Amaro Lucano? The drink was called Good Luck In Pisticci, and was pretty darn amazing (if I can say such without being called someone-who-pats-themselves-excessively-on-the-back). If you missed that post, somehow, go back and read it now. It has lots of info about the particular amari called Lucano, and more. Go on, go read it. Okay, now back to this post, where I’m not going to say anything except that I ended up making two special summertime cocktails with Lucano, and this is the second. It’s also a wine cocktail, for those who understand that wine cocktails are awesome. But enough of this – make the below and be happy.

Fuori-PistaFuori Pista

Ice cubes
2 ounces dry red wine (I used Terragoni, from Donini, my favorite Italian winemaker)
1 ounce Amaro Lucano
1/2 ounce Sidetrack Blackberry liqueur (from right here in WA)
3 ounces chilled club soda
Fresh blackberries, for garnish

1. Fill a goblet or other awesome glass (a highball works) three quarters full with ice cubes.

2. Add the wine, Lucano, and Sidetrack Blackberry. Stir briefly.

3. Add the club soda and a few fresh blackberries. Stir again, briefly. Enjoy the sunshine.

PS: The name of this means “off track” in Italian, a reference both to the fine folks at Sidetrack, and the fine Italian ingredients in this.

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July 3, 2015

What I’m Drinking: Good Luck In Pisticci

I’ve been lucky in life, in that I’ve had a fairly large share of amari (the Italian digestif of herbally goodness everyone loves now), and been a fan for a while, and have brought a couple neat obscure ones back from Italy. I feel like I’m bragging  – please don’t throw a tin can at me! Here’s one thing that will balance it out. I haven’t had a bottle of Amaro Lucano in the house before! Before now, that is (hah)! I’d tasted it before, and liked it, but until a bottle showed up, as they sometimes do, I hadn’t spent any real time with this particular amaro.

If you don’t know, Lucano has been around since 1894, when a well-known cookie baker (really! I love these stories) named Pasquale Vena blended up mysterious herbs and spices and boom, deliciousness. It really kicked up the fame, though, when in 1900 it became the drink of choice to ancient ruling family the House of Savoy, whose crest is on the bottle. Neat, right? The amaro is a tiny smidge to the right on the sweetness scale for amari, with a strong caramel-ness, though containing a rich bitterness as well, and nice floral, citrus, and spice accents.

Anyway, it’s the kind of thing you tend to have after dinner, and not what you think of as a summer treat. Which is why I challenged myself to make a summer drink with it – because I am like that, and because I like bitter sodas, and because what’s the world for if you don’t challenge yourself? All that! So, I paired it up with some usual and some unusual suspects, tried a little of this, and a little of that, and came up with the below. It’s effervescent, it’s got a host of herb and spice and citrus notes, and it’s darn refreshing and flavorful all at once, like a bubbly Tilt-a-While for your tongue. Try it – and then thank the Vena family. And me (well, why not?).

lucky-in-p
Good Luck In Pisticci

1-1/2 ounces gin (I used Kur gin)
3/4 ounce Amaro Lucano
1/2 ounce Grand Marnier
2 dashes Scrappy’s Grapefruit bitters
Ice cubes
4 ounces chilled club soda
Mint sprig

1. Add the gin, Amaro Lucano, Grand Marnier, and Scrappy’s to a mixing glass. Stir well.

2 Fill a highball or comparable glass three-quarters full with ice cubes. Pour the mix from step 1 into the glass over the top.

3. Top with soda water. Stir briefly. Garnish with the mint sprig.

PS: Yes, that’s a Don Ho glass! I am very lucky indeed.

June 26, 2015

What I’m Drinking: The Tartan Swizzle

Summer is now fully upon us – time to drink bubbly things. But, but, but, I feel like Scotch, and most people don’t think about Scotch and bubbly drinks together (except the Scotch and soda, which is indeed sometimes lovely in its simplicity). Which is a shame, when drinks like the Tartan Swizzle, a bubbly Scotch-y treat, are around! Don’t get stuck in your ruts, pals, especially in summer because those ruts can get sweaty, and sweaty ruts are the worst. The worst. Anywho, I picked up this recipe from my old pal Jeremy Holt, a fine man and a fine drinker. He’s introduced me to loads of swell drinks over the years, and this is certainly on the list, and also certainly a swell summer sipper. Try it, and test me out!

tartan

The Tartan Swizzle, using the recipe from Dark Spirits

Ice cubes
2 ounces Scotch (Jeremy suggests something like Dewar’s, J&B, Cutty Sark)
1-1/2 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice
3/4 ounce simple syrup
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Crushed ice
Chilled club soda

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the Scotch, lime juice, simple syrup, and bitters. Shake well.

2. Fill a Collins glass or the like three-quarters full with crushed ice. Stir the ice briefly to chill the glass, then strain the mixture from the shaker over the ice.

3. Fill the glass almost to the top with club soda. Stir a bit, to get a little frothiness.

June 19, 2015

What I’m Drinking: The Highland Fling

I found this Scottish affair in an excellent little bound book called A Guide to Pink Elephants, Volume II (Richards Rosen Associates, 1957). It’s fairly close to a few drinks that are perhaps more famous – the Rob Roy of course, which has Angostura bitters instead of orange bitters, and a slightly different vermouth to Scotch ratio. As well as the Bobby Burns, though a little farther afield in cousinhood. But the taste here, because of those differences, is slightly sweeter and with a different bitter-and-herbal-y hint. It may seem an odd one during June, but, hey, I’m an odd one! I like a strong drink in summer sometimes, as well as the bubbly refreshing ones. Also, having a drink I found in a book with pink elephants in the title is never bad. Never.

highland-fling
The Highland Fling

2 ounces Scotch
1 ounces sweet vermouth
2 dashes orange bitters

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with cracked ice. Add the Scotch, sweet vermouth, and bitters. Stir well.

2. Strain the mix into a cocktail glass.

June 12, 2015

What I’m Drinking: The Snowball

During the summer months (and really, even though we’re not officially in summer, let’s call it summer, okay? June feels like summer to me. Go with it), it’s tempting to have a drink called The Snowball – right? Right. But, there are so many! There’s the one with advocaat (the liqueur made from egg, sugar, and brandy) and sparkling lemonade. There’s another with brandy, simple syrup, an egg, and ginger ale. Both have their moments. But today, this particular day, I’m going with the below, which is wonderful on an early summer’s night, and of which famed drink explorer Harry Craddock said, around 1930, “This is women’s work.” Hah, I’ll show you Harry.

snowball

The Snowball, with the recipe from Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz

Ice cubes
2 ounces gin
1/2 ounce crème de violette
1/2 ounce white crème de menthe
1/2 ounce anisette
1/2 ounce heavy cream

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the gin, crème de violette, crème de menthe, anisette, and cream to a cocktail shaker. Shake well.

2. Strain into a cocktail glass.

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