November 9, 2018

What I’m Drinking: The Volga

I’m just gonna quote one of my favorite headnotes here (I know, I know, vulgar to quote myself, but what the heck), from Good Spirits:

“It’s as if I never left. In a canoe. On the longest river in Europe, the Volga. Ice in every direction. Bears and bear-like animals along the banks. A storm railing against that canoe for every one of the 2,300 miles. Crazy birds circling, waiting for the canoe crash to pick the remains clean from splinters. Water splashing over the sides like a curse. And then the sturgeon with their beady eyes tracing my progress from the deep pockets. The banks birthing jagged rock after jagged rock, taunting me with possible capsize after capsize. But did I worry? No sir, and no ma’am. I poured a Volga and sat backed and smiled. If you’re every stuck on a long river, I suggest doing the same.”

This is made even better if you use Sidetrack Distillery’s Cassis, which is tarty, fruity, and awesome-y.

volgaThe Volga

Ice cubes
2 ounces vodka
3/4 ounce cream de cassis
1/2 ounce heavy cream
Two raspberries for garnish

1. Fill a cocktail shaker half way with ice cubes. Add the vodka, cassis, and cream. Shake well.

2. Add the two raspberries to a cocktail glass. Strain the mix into the glass. Za vashe zdorov’ye!

September 14, 2018

What I’m Drinking: Pup In a Blanket

While we aren’t really into fall (theoretically, the season starts the 22nd), it still feels like we’re oozing into the time of year when bourbon is in the air. Here, in this drink, it’s the sea air, in a way, as the base we’re working with is a new release from Chambers Bay, a distillery here in Washington which ages their whiskey on a floating boathouse (on the Puget Sound, which eventually connects with the sea). The specific whiskey is Chambers Bay’s Straight Bourbon (I received some in the mail, lucky me), Batch #3, which was bottled in late July after being aged in oak barrels a minimum of 3-1/2 years. Due the boathouse movement, however, the aging process actually feels (tastes?) as if it was aged longer. They also make the bourbon with grains (corn, white wheat, barley) from Grant County, WA, and use a wild yeast from local orchards. What’s it all mean beyond the swell local-ness? A bourbon with lots of depth, and a flavor that’ll make you skip with happiness: caramel, and a little fig, nuttiness, oak, and other spices – plus a small hint of salt and sea air.

All of which equals a nice whiskey to sip, but also a nice one to mix with, especially with other spice treats. Here, I started the mingling with an award-winner: Raft Cardamom bitters (which was named 2018 Product of the Year by the Specialty Food Association), a great savory and spice bitters that’s going to add some depth and add to the pack of flavors we’re bringing together. One note: these bitters are also under the Bitter Housewife brand, but don’t get confused, it’s a sibling of Raft. It’s made in Portland, OR, by Genevieve Brazelton, Founder and Chief Marketing Officer of Portland, Oregon’s Improper Goods, the overall brand Raft and the Bitter Housewife live under, along with a great group of syrups, bitters and cocktail kits made with care. Yummy stuff.

But the bourbon and bitters aren’t’ the only yummy stuffs here. I wanted to keep building on the spice notes, and bring in some complimentary pals, too. Enter, one Italian-influenced local favorite, Sidetrack Distillery’s memorable and delicious green-walnut-based Nocino, and one favorite actually from Italy: the divine Meletti Anisette. These two have been parts of many drinks I’ve made due to their fantastic flavors – as well as being favorites when sipped solo. All together, this is a layered, memorable, fall drink that you’re sure to want to make for all your friends.

pup-in-a-blanket
Pup In A Blanket

Cracked Ice
2 ounces Chambers Bay Straight Bourbon (Batch #3)
3/4 ounces Sidetrack Nocino
1/4 ounce Meletti Anisette
2 dashes Raft Cardamom bitters

1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add everything. Stir well.

2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Cuddle with the dog of your choice (without spilling your drink, naturally).

September 7, 2018

What I’m Drinking: Roll Out the Blackberries

Well, here we are, in September, with summer sadly retreating into its annual hibernation. But that doesn’t mean we can’t drag it out a little – after all, summer is both a state of mind and resides in many things. One of the main, for me, is blackberries, which always make me dream of summer no matter what time of year. But this time of year is perfect, because you can still get awesome summer-y blackberries and then use them in many ways – like in this drink! I got the ones used here at the lovely Lazy River Farm, on which is the awesome Sidetrack Distillery, one of my favorites in the state of WA. On the farm they grow the fruit and produce that Sidetrack uses in their liqueurs and brandies and such (it’s all the same fine folks doing the growing and distilling). And, my wife and I and some pals recently went out to pick some berries – and taste some delicious drinks – including blackberries.

Okay, enough pre-amble! On to the show – and by that I mean this drink. Wife Nat came up with this one, and it shows, as the drink is built on some of her favorites, including swell Sotol, the tequila neighbor made in Mexico from the Desert Spoon plant, and the slightly spicy and all-the-way luscious Ancho Reyes ancho chili liqueur. Perfect partners. Of course, as you’re expect from the above graph, it’s also built on blackberries, both fresh and in Sidetrack’s Blackberry liqueur, which deliver a rich, deep, berry taste. An intriguing combo, but one that goes well together, especially with a touch of lime. And now we have the Roll Out the Blackberries all rolled out.

roll-out-the-blackberriesRoll Out the Blackberries

6 fresh blackberries
Ice cubes
2 ounces Sotol
1 ounce Ancho Reyes ancho chili liqueur
1/2 ounce Sidetrack Blackberry liqueur
1/4 ounce fresh lime juice
Lime wedge, for garnish

1. Add the blackberries to a cocktail shaker. Muddle well.

2. Fill the shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add everything outside of the lime wedge. Shake really well.

3. Strain through a fine strainer into a cocktail glass. Garnish with the lime wedge. Remember, summer lives in you (with every sip).

September 4, 2018

Roll Out the Barrel-Aged Gins

I love gin. I love things that have been in barrels (booze in barrels, at least). So, it will come as no surprise to you that I am a fan of barrel-aged, or barrel-rested, gins. It will also come as no surprise to you (long time reader) that Washington-state barrel-aged gins are the ones I’m most a fan of – cause I love our local distillers up here. With that preamble, let me introduce you to an article called: Seattle Distillers Make a Spirited Case for Barrel-Aged Gin, which I wrote for Seattle Magazine. Truth moment: it’s not just Seattle distillers – because non-Seattle WA-state distillers are also making mighty barrel-aged gins! Learn all about all of them, then buy a bottle or three because they’re ideal for this time of year, as well as other times.

August 28, 2018

Tea Up with Four Leaf Spirits

As you know (because I’ve told you) Washington State’s distillers are a dandy, creative, amazing bunch. They just keep putting out more and more tasty, imaginative, treats for drinkers here and there and everywhere. Case in point: I recently wrote about Four Leaf Spirits, a distillery based in Woodinville who makes tea-infused liqueurs and spirits, as well as rums under the Puget Sound Rum Company name. Want to learn more? Of course you do! Read the article cleverly-titled: How One Seattle Distillery Is Using Tea to Infuse Spirits and then start tracking down some bottles.

July 27, 2018

What I’m Drinking: Requiem for Summer with Cadée Medusa and Sidetrack Blackberry

Okay, don’t be upset with me, but this drink contains an ingredient that is not only made in Washington state (so, un-local for some – though, really, come on out here, where the whiskey is fine), but may not even be on the market completely in Washington state yet. See, I received a bit of an advanced sample – again, don’t be upset with me. I can’t help the luck! That ingredient is Medusa!

And, because I liked this Medusa, an American whiskey from the Cadée distillery out this way on Whidbey Island, so much I just had to make a drink with it. A straight bourbon whiskey that’s been matured in 10-year-old Spanish Madeira wine barrels, Medusa, unlike the creature it’s named after, it won’t turn you to stone, though you may be struck by happiness for a moment when you take sips, thanks to its gentle nutty caramelly sweetness, and some intriguing emerging red stone fruit layers (ripe cherries, especially).

With the latter notes in mind, my first partner for it was another lovely local product that also is fruity (in the best way), Sidetrack Blackberry liqueur. Sidetrack grows all the fruit used in their liqueurs and other products on the sweetest farm you’d ever want to see, right outside of Kent Washington, and their Blackberry is the essence of summer. Well, one of them, because I also added muddled up Rainer cherries (the essence of early summer) here two. So much summer! And then, to round things out, a little Peychaud’s bitters. All together, a treat whether the sun is bright or has gone down. It might be hard to track all the ingredients for some, but trust me, it’ll be well worth it.

requiem-for-summer
Requiem for Summer

4 Rainer cherries (could use another variety, but these are the tops), pitted
Ice cubes
2 ounces Cadée Medusa American whiskey
3/4 ounces Sidetrack Blackberry liqueur
Dash Peychaud’s bitters
Big ice cube (or a few not-so-big)

1. Add the cherries to a cocktail shaker. Muddle well.

2. Fill the shaker up halfway with ice cubes. Add everything liquid. Shake well.

3. Add a goodly-sized ice cube to an Old Fashioned or comparable glass. Strain the mix through a fine strainer into the same glass. Revel in the revelry.

July 13, 2018

What I’m Drinking: Such Animals of Summer

Why, just last week, here on the Spiked Punch blog, I had a delicious summer drink (if I can say that humbly) called Pina’s Potion, which used Les Dauphins Côtes du Rhône Réserve rosé – a bottle of which had shown up via the post. If you haven’t checked that recipe out, you’re in for a treat! Go read about rose cocktail Pina’s Potion now, to learn a bit more about Les Dauphins Côtes du Rhône Réserve rosé and to make your summer better.

Back? Yay! Well, I liked this rosé so much, that I wanted to go down another road with it, because the flavor profile gives lots of avenues one could travel, all different, like every animal is different. To prove this furry point, I give you another rosé cocktail, called Such Animals of Summer. A slightly different (as mentioned) mix, it mingles our rose with another summertime treat, Washington state-based Sidetrack Distillery’s Strawberry Liqueur (they grow the strawberries right on their farm! dreamy), and another French friend for our French rosé, Dolin’s Blanc vermouth, a refreshing, citrusy, teensily sweet number. All together a light, flavorful, cocktail that’s ideal as the summer night approaches.

sunch-animals-of-summerSuch Animals of Summer

Cracked ice
2 ounces Les Dauphins Côtes du Rhône Réserve rosé
3/4 ounce Sidetrack Strawberry liqueur
1/2 Dolin Blanc vermouth

1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add everything. Stir well.

2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Enjoy the moment.

July 10, 2018

Sip the Grandeza Old Fashioned at Moctezuma – or at Home

Took a trip south to Southcenter not too long ago (if you consider “long ago” in the way I’m thinking), and stopped at the friendly and tasty Mexican restaurant Moctezuma. Not only did I have some delicious dishes, but also got to try new-ish (at the time!) orange liqueur Grandeza, a lush, rich tipple made by the owner of Moctezuma. I had it both straight and in the Grandeza Old Fashioned – and then wrote it up for the also lush Seattle magazine. So you can easily learn about Grandeza and learn to make the Grandeza Old Fashioned. Neat!

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