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.
February 27, 2015
I’m heading out to Italy again for a little vacation, and as usual when I start thinking every hour of every day about Italy (as opposed to just every day), I start thinking about when we lived in Italy, and the drinks I made and had when there. Yeah, I know, it’s a hard-a-knock life. To make up for all my musing about it, try the below drink. It’s freaky-delicious. If you can’t go on an Italian vacation this second, this’ll at least help cure a teeny bit of the ache.
1-1/2 ounces Aperol
1 ounce freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 ounce Strega
1 dash Bitter Truth orange bitters
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the Aperol, orange juice, Strega, and bitters. Shake well.
2. Strain through a fine strainer into a cocktails glass, or a pretty wine glass if that’s what’s handy.
February 20, 2015
This border-busting concoction combines a couple of ingredients that are from fairly different points on the compass: tequila (that’s the southern one), and Washington State’s own Skip Rock Distillery’s Spiced Apple liqueur. The former I’m guessing you know about, but the latter uses local Jonagold apples, and a little bit of sweet and spice, in a dandy manner – meaning, it’s a liqueur that lets the flavor shine through, one that makes a great pairing with tequila and other things. However, when making this cocktail with those two ingredients, I realized that the whole Mason/Dixon quandary was keeping it from fully delivering the awesome, and that I needed one or two last mediators to really make things hum. After some hemming and hawing (and by that I mean, testing and testing), two unexpected other ingredients fell into place: Lillet and Scrappy’s orange bitters. The end result is . . . well, try it and see (okay, a hint: it’s darn tasty).
Up North, Down South
2 ounces tequila blanco
3/4 Skip Rock Spiced Apple liqueur
1/4 ounce Lillet
Dash Scrappy’s orange bitters
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add everything Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass.
February 13, 2015
I believe that Valentine’s Day is tomorrow – be still my beating heart. If you’ve been planning a host of heart-y things for your sweetness tomorrow, then you are in fine shape. Unless you forgot to plan out the right drink for the evening. What’s that you say? You don’t have a special drink for that special somehow. Hope you like the couch. Though, since I have a warm feeling towards you (you are pretty neat), howsabout I help you out. Serve up the below, which is a tasty mix shading just a wee bit sweet, and watch the evening commence in the proper manner. Oh, you might want to whisper that Ti Penso Sempre means, “I think of you always.” That should help your cause as well.
Ti Penso Sempre, from Dark Spirits, Serves 2 naturally
3 ounce brandy
2 ounces Aperol
1 ounce simple syrup
2 orange slices, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the brandy, Aperol, and simple syrup. Shake well.
2. Strain the mix equally into 2 cocktail glasses. Garnish each with an orange slice. Let the romancing commence.
February 6, 2015
People who know me best know that as the song says, I’m a lover not a fighter. So, don’t take the sorta aggressive nature of this title to mean I’m all up in your face. I’m not! I just had a friend suggest this as a title, and it’s a dandy name for a cocktail in my mind (and that’s the only mind I got). Also, at the time I was looking for a name for this very drink, a drink I created using the swell Old Ballard Liquor Co. Riktig Aquavit (I wrote a lot about the Old Ballard Liquor Co. here), which has a strong and memorable flavor. Not so strong as to give you a thrashing, but strong enough that you’ll remember it – and hopefully this drink, too.
I Will Give You a Thrashing
2 ounces Riktig Aquavit
1/2 ounce sweet vermouth (I used Cocchi Torino)
1/2 ounce Pierre Ferrand orange curaçao
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add everything. Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Drink while facing Ballard.