June 30, 2017
I was recently in the U.K. (London, Dover, Warehorne) with wife Nat and some of my bestest pals, Jon and Nicole. It was a groovy trip (you should visit all three places, right now!), and we had oodles of English fun. At the beginning, in old Londinius, we had a little apartment, and while we visited some swell bars (especially Oriole, which is wonderfully dreamy), we also hung out in the apartment drinking G&Ts. To do it right, the G we used was from the East London Liquor Company, picked up at their stall at the bountiful Borough Market.
The first distillery in London’s east end in over a century, the East London makes vodka, rum, whisky, and of course gin, including their flagship Dry Gin, which is what we had! Made from 100% British wheat and using both vapor and direct infusion of spices, citrus, and juniper, it boasts a clear juniper and lemon/grapefruit taste underlined by cardamom, coriander, and more. Yummy stuff. We also picked up a bottle of 3/4Ounce Tonic Maison tonic syrup – from Montreal! We were very international. The Maison has a steady bit of cinchona bitterness and spices and mingled nicely with the gin. It all made from some wonderful moments, sitting around with good friends sipping while discussing the wonders of London.
Gin and Tonic
1/2 ounce 3/4Ounce Tonic Maison tonic syrup
1-1/2 ounces East London Liquor Co. Dry Gin
3 ounces soda water
Lime wedge, for garnish
1. Add the Tonic Maison and East London Liquor Company gin to a brandy snifter (or highball, or whatever glass they have at your rented space, as the case may be). Stir briefly.
2. Add a decent amount of ice to the glass. Top with the club soda. Stir well, but carefully.
3. Garnish with the wedge. Dream of London (or, if you’re there, of Montreal).
June 23, 2017
It’s interesting – we hear “leaves” and we think “fall,” because seasonally that’s when leaves become more iconic I suppose. Which may be backwards, since so many leaves are in place now, providing shade and such. And anyway, when titling this drink “Afternoon Leaves,” I was thinking more that it feels like such a nice drink for the end of the afternoon, the moment when afternoon itself is leaving to make room for dusk and evening.
Whew, that almost got too sappy! Late afternoon is also when many have tea (those pals in the U.K. first and foremost perhaps), and that also ties into this drink, since one of the two ingredients is Four Leaf Spirits Liath, an Earl Grey tea-infused gin. Pretty neat! Four Leaf is a small (in square feet, but not in taste) distillery in Woodinville, WA that makes tea-infused spirits and liqueurs (and rums under the Puget Sound Rum Company moniker), and also donates a portion of proceeds to cancer research and education-focused non-profits. Drinking and doing good is, well, good!
The Liath (named after the Irish for “grey”) is swell all on its own, with the juniper and botanicals from the gin mingling around the citrusy bergamot from the tea. But in the declining afternoon hours (which can be a little lonely), I wouldn’t want it to operate alone, and so picked a perfect partner: Italian vermouth legends Carpano’s Bianco vermouth.
I just recently picked up a bottle of this elixir, and it’s a special tipple, starting from the citrus, fruit, and nutty nose to the light-but-full taste, which has the flavors promised to the nose, with a touch of white-wine mineral-ness. Delicious solo as well, when combined with the Liath you have a complex but so sip-able cocktail. Try it, in the afternoon of course.
2 ounces Four Leaf Spirits Liath Earl Grey tea-infused gin
1 ounce Carpano Bianco
Lemon twist, for garnish
1. Fill a mixing glass or cocktail shaker halfway full with cracked ice. Add our two charmers. Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with the twist.
May 26, 2017
As all know, I am fond of many local WA-state distillers, and one of my very favorites (you probably know this too, having been reading this blog for years and years, correct?) is a distillery on a farm – farm and distillery all the same fine folks – in a valley outside of Kent, WA, a distillery called Sidetrack. Not only do they deliver fine products using produce grown on their farm, but they also have a beautiful event space in a refurbished old barn. Super swell stuff. While they get a lot of deserved plaudits for their liqueurs (from fruit to walnut-based Nocino to more exotic fare like my favorite Lemon Verbena), they also make clear, European-style, fruit brandies. Delicious, strong, and hopefully liquids more Americans will start sipping. I think my favorite Sidetrack brandy – though I like them all – is Strawberry. It’s like the essence of strawberry, the Platonic ideal, while being robust and umph-y. It is a spirit, after all. I like it so much that I wanted to create a drink with it, but it was tough (as it can be with many fruit brandies) at first, due to user error. Hahaha. But I kept at it, and eventually went with a favorite dessert inspiration, the king of dessert drinks, the Alexander. Then, after a bunch of tweaks, the below emerged, and is lush, layered, and if I can say while being humble, pretty darn wonderful. Good after dinner both because of its hints of dessert and because of its strong backbone.
1-1/2 ounces Sidetrack Strawberry brandy
1 ounce Depth crème de cacao
1 ounce heavy cream
1/2 ounce maple syrup
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add everything. Shake really well. Really well!
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Dream of orchards.
A Note: An actual strawberry would make a fine garnish here, but sadly I was strawberry deficient.
May 19, 2017
Washington is a state under a good sign, one with I think an awesome good fairy (or whatever mythological taker-carer-of creature you’d like), and just lucky, because we have such an outstanding local distillery community. We have distillers of all types, and some make a wide range of tasty products – one of those is Skip Rock distillery out of Snohomish, WA. They make rums, whiskeys, vodkas, liqueurs, and recently unveiled their Bicycle Tree gin, named after a local legendary tree you could ride cycles through, and with a classic-via-the-northwest flavor (juniper, local botanicals, yumminess). They have so many options I thought – why not make a single-distillery cocktail? Single-barrel things are all the rage, but a single-distillery cocktail, which only uses ingredients from one distillery? That’s next wave stuff people! And exactly what I did here, using that new gin as a base, then their tangy and fresh Raspberry liqueur with it, and a little of their walnut-y Nocino to round it out. Lots of layers of flavors, starting with fruit and those gin-ical botanicals and spices, and then ending a little nutty, it’s all here, and all from one distillery.
1-1/2 ounces Skip Rock Bicycle Tree gin
1 ounce Skip Rock Raspberry liqueur
1/2 ounce Skip Rock Nocino
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add all the Skip Rock. Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Drink up.
February 7, 2017
Not so long ago in the past (though, admittedly, not yesterday either), wife Nat and I were lucky enough to go with some pals out to Scratch Distillery in Edmonds, WA to take part in one of their Ginology classes, where you end up with a bottle of your very own gin – one you designed! It’s neat, and even neater was that I got to write an article about Scratch Giniology for the Seattle magazine. You should read it! And then go do the class.
September 20, 2016
I recently was lucky enough to get to go out to Whidbey Island (or, the Isle of Whidbey as the case may be) to visit with the awesome and Scottish Colin Campbell, distiller and owner of Cadée Distillery. Then I got to write about the visit, the distillery, and some of their delicious spirits for the spirited Seattle magazine. You should read my Cadée Distillery article right now, cause I shouldn’t have all the fun, all the time.
* See all Seattle magazine pieces by me
September 6, 2016
Hey, guess what? I’ve written some fun and exciting (well, I think so!) items about booze, bars, and booze for the mighty Seattle magazine lately, and just in case you might have missed them (which would make me sad), I’m going to list them right here and now:
• German Cocktails at Altstadt, Vote for Local Distillers and More
• Three Impressions of Corvus & Co.
• New Gin from Wildwood Spirits and More Distillery News
• Super Chilly Summer Drinks in Seattle Bars
• Three Impressions of The Nest
* See all Seattle magazine pieces by me
July 29, 2016
You might think, to yourself, “A Manhattan-y cocktail is not quite the thing, old boy, for summer.” You would be wrong. Sorry! Exhibit A: The Tranquil Hills. How does this rough-and-tumble rye beguiler manage to hold its brown likker umph while still navigating the higher temperatures of summer? Well, I’m glad you asked. First, it’s just a good drink, and good drinks are always good. But, it’s helped along by using a key summer fruit, the blackberry, here in the form of Sidetrack Distillery’s lovely Blackberry liqueur. The rich berry taste covers for the Manhattan’s regular sweet vermouth, bringing enough depth, but also the very core of summer along for the ride.
Sidetrack’s Blackberry liqueur also mingles in a manner most wonderful with the rye I used, Templeton’s The Good Stuff rye. A rye made with the idea of matching the taste of an old prohibition recipe, one that was once, as legend has it (and nothing is better than drink legends) loved by Al Capone himself, Templeton has a spiciness, and a combo of dried fruits and caramel, that hit the spot here and now. A little of Scrappy’s Orange bitters (Scrappy being Seattle’s favorite son, and now an international bitters of renown, because, well, they’re great), and you have a whiskey cocktail that can help you survive the summer in fine fashion.
The Tranquil Hills
2-1/4 ounces Templeton rye
3/4 ounce Sidetrack Blackberry Liqueur
2 dashes Scrappy’s Orange bitters
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add everything. Stir well, but don’t get sweaty.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Drink it up.