It’s Gizmo time again friends and neighbors and all who have perhaps had a wee bit too much Thanksgiving munching this week, or those who have some leftovers to deal with in the nicest way, or those who just are looking for a drink and like cranberry sauce and gin! All are welcome at the annual Gizmo party, which takes places the day after Thanksgiving here in the US at those spots that are in the know (which hopefully covers many many spots), and which has taken place ever since genius Jeremy Holt came up with this beloved drink, bless his boozy soul.
2-1/2 ounces gin
1 ounce homemade cranberry sauce
1/2 ounce simple syrup (optional)
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the gin and cranberry sauce, and syrup if using. Shake exceptionally well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Drink up, Thanksgiving-style.
My re-read of a couple David Goodis charmers (“charmer” in the sense of reads that pull you in, sure, but also in the sense of some con artist types, which would fit into the Goodis globe), as detailed recently in the Nightfall Part II Cocktail Talk, continues as I just re-read Night Squad. He likes the night, our David! It’s another classic of the noir-y genre, with a shady-ish character who has, as they say, gone through some stuff. And is vaguely on the side of light, while walking in the darkness. Woo, that’s heavy. The books isn’t as melodramatic, but does have some serious and seriously eff’d up moments and tales. And the weirdest drink ever, which I detailed in an earlier Cocktail Talk (don’t miss the Night Squad Cocktail Talk Part I and the Night Squad Cocktail Talk Part II – the weird drink in the latter). This moonlit gem centers around an ex-cop (kicked off for being on the take), who drinks a lot, has a lot of regrets, and gets involved working both for the head hood in the rotten part of the town and the most mental cop troop all at once. Brother, he gets into it! Luckily, as the quote shows, he knows how to think properly.
The gin came; he put it away in one fast gulp and ordered another. There were times when he drank slowly and chased the gin with water. But this ain’t one of them times, he told himself, downing the second gin and ordering a third. This is a time for heavy thinking, which means, of course, heavy drinking. And I got the notion it’s gonna take a lotta gin to set your mind straight
While I wouldn’t say our front yard in the north Seattle area is the prettiest – I tend to shade towards the scraggly when it comes to the grass, for one, cause over-watering is a problem, ya’ know – it is blessed with an abundance (or over-abundance as neighbors might say) of lovely, bee-utiful, lavender. When it flowers in summer, the air smells delish, the flowers hide the dead grass, and the bees are buzzing happily. But what, if anything, to do with it? I mean, pretty for pretty-ness’ sake is swell! All for it. Art for art’s sake, too. And making bees buzz jollily is a state of being we should aim for, cause bees rule. But, but, it’s also quite fun to utilize a little of that lavender in making lavender simple syrup (recipe below), which can then be mixed with gin and Prosecco into this very cocktail, the Lavanda (which sounds like a sultry dance, but isn’t. Not saying you can’t have a few of these and dance btw. Cause that, that you should do). The combo is classy in a summertime way, fragrant in a floral way, and makes an ideal accompaniment to a summer’s late afternoon or evening. Thinking more, what a crowning glory of a drink this would be at a summer wedding. You should get married! You can serve this – I have lots of lavender to spare.
1. Add the flowers from the top of one lavender sprig, gin, and lavender simple syrup to a cocktail shaker. Using a muddler or wooden spoon, muddle well.
2. Fill the cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Shake like dancer.
2. Strain into a flute. Top with chilled Prosecco, and garnish with the second lavender sprig.
First Note: To make lavender simple syrup, add 1/4 cup chopped fresh lavender, 2 cups sugar, and 1 1/2 cups water to a medium-sized saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat until it reaches a low boil, stirring regularly. Once it reaches that low boil, reduce the heat to medium- low and keep the syrup at a simmer, still stirring, for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool completely.
Second Note: For gin here, you could go traditional London style (like, Broker’s gin, which wouldn’t be a bad choice), as the juniper plays with lavender well. But you could also go something less traditional,
Back a few years now (not a century’s worth, but a few, which over the last decade can feel nearly like a century at time – at other times, barely a second. Time? It’s a strange one), I had a Nightfall Cocktail Talk, and it was peachy! But I just took a re-read into this noir-ish book by David Goodis (nearly the noirish-est). It’s a dandy read, by the way. A twisty-ish, nearly character study in a way. I mean, there’s a murder that’s happened, and a crime (in Seattle! Of all spots. Though the action as it is takes place in NYC). And a beating. And some hidden? Lost? Spent? money around somewhere. And love, too! And maybe camaraderie. It’s interesting, in that (as mentioned in the early Nightfall Cocktail Talking), you feel there is no way it’s gonna work out happily for anyone, I felt that multiple times. but . . . well, I’m not giving it away. Read the book yourself! I will give away the below Cocktail Talk quote, however.
In this particular Village place there wasn’t much doing. Four men at the far end of the bar were having a quiet discussion concerning horses. A young man and a young woman were taking their time with long, cool drinks and smiling at each other. A short, fat man was sullenly gazing into a glass of beer.
Vanning turned back to his Gin Rickey. A peculiar sense of loneliness came upon him, and he knew it was just that and nothing more. He wanted to talk to somebody. About anything.
You may not be aware (knowing you, you probably are), but this is the last Friday of Spring, 2023 – the first day of Summer being next Wednesday, the 21st. So, Spring (initial-capping here to give it some personalizing, dontcha know) today is at the end of its tether, so to speak, which means it’s the ideal day for this drink. Which was originally named after a book by Margery Allingham, but which I believe shouldn’t be relegated to only being sipped when writing posts around books. Not that books aren’t dreamy dreams (my favorite things are books, after a few other more favorite things), but this dandy combination of gin, amari, and grenadine is such a sprightly, amiable combination, that it should be had more often – unless you’re reading books all the time, which I, now that I think about it, am, then you’d be having it more. But I digress. You should go with a nice, London-style gin – I’m with reliable and reliably yummy Boodles here – and the amari should be if you can get it, Amaro di Toscana (which has a wild boar on the bottle), which is a well-balanced member of the family, meaning between bitter and sweet, rich in herbally flavor though lighter in syrup-i-ness than some on the tongue, and made from 27 herbs and spices growing in Tuscany. The final ingredient, the grenadine, you should make yourself, because it’s better than storebought and I expect better from you. A homemade grenadine recipe to assist you can be found at the end of the As Luck Would Have It recipe. The one funny thing about the name? It’s sounds like having one would be the last drink. The end of the tether and all. But my guess is you’ll want at least two of these. So, you know, don’t be completely literal.
Way, way, way, way back when (as people old-like-me say), when I first started getting into the cocktailing and the old-cocktail-booking, and cocktail-recipe-experimenting, lots and lots of bottled beauties weren’t easily available, including many now available at the click from phone, computer, TV, glasses (I suppose), all that. Partially, because I am old. But not that old, children. Also, then, because our modern booze availability explosion is just that – modern. New! But oh, so welcome!
Take, for example, Swedish Punsch. Made with a base of sugar-cane and fermented-red-rice based spirit Batavia Arrack (a rum of sorts, and itself not readily available here in the US in most spots until fairly recently), other rums, spices, and more treats (it’s rum based spice liqueur, really), it’s the national drink of Sweden, and a key component of many tiki hits and cocktails. But went through a period where in many spots, spots I inhabited, it wasn’t available. Now, easy to get in most US places. And delicious! Take Kronan Swedish Punsch, which I’m having today in The Astor cocktail. It has a spice (think allspice, clove, dried orange), toffee, molasses, and leather (in the best way!) taste with a hint of smokiness. Delicious, as mentioned! Great on its own, but also, an important component of many cocktails, like this one. It’s so so swell that it’s now available in our modern world, and that so many more once rare cocktail components are, too. Which means, even though there are many days where it doesn’t seem the happiest world, some things are worth smiling about.
The dining room at the Banker’s Club was large and ornate, its linens crisp, and there was enough geography between table to prevent eavesdropping. Although I arrived on the dot, Lambert S. Denton was already seated and tinkering with a dry Martini. So dry, I found when he ordered one for me, it seemed as if the vermouth had been applied with an atomizer.
Listen, the Martini isn’t consumed enough today. I mean, I don’t know every single person drinking one at this moment, but I feel (and, like a good cop, sometimes you have to trust your feelings, or instincts) that not enough are. I feel that there was a time when all other cocktails were subsumed in the Martini’s overwhelming overwhelmingness, and that wasn’t a good thing. But now, perhaps, if my feeling is right, things – boozy things – during our modern cocktail renaissance have swung so far the other way thanks to the endless array of new and rediscovered cocktails that maybe not enough classic Martinis are consumed? Well, I’m going to do my part to balance that out, by having one right now. I like mine with the Embury proportions, meaning 2-1/2 parts gin to 1/2 part dry vermouth, and with a twist (lemon, naturally). Today, the gin component is going to be Thinking Tree Spirits Gifted gin, made down (down from me, at least!) in Eugene, OR. I was gifted a bottle recently, and couldn’t be happier. Gins always make swell gifts, friends. This particular gin is even called “Gifted” so it’s doubly perfect. It has a non-GMO Willamette Valley wheat base and is made by soaking botanicals (including Turkish juniper, Spanish coriander, fresh orange and lemon rind, star anise, lemongrass, angelica, grains of paradise, and cassia bark) in said base spirit for forty-eight hours before it’s distilled in a copper pot still. Then, English cucumber is infused in post-distilling. Neat! As you might expect after reading the last few sentences, it’s a complex gin-y number, with a junipery, cucumber-y, smell trailing citrus and bitters, and then a taste that echoes that (juniper, fresh cucumber) with more lemon and lemongrass and spice, finishing with nods towards the angelica and cassia. It makes, when mingled with the vermouth, an intriguing Martini – the many individual gins out there are what makes the Martini even more special now, as it allows them to shine. This one is a treat. I may have two. Helping to address that Martini imbalance and all!
The Man Behind the Evening's PlansA.J. Rathbun is a freelance food and entertainment writer, poet and author, a frequent guest on the Everyday Food program (Martha Stewart Living/Sirius satellite radio), and is a contributor to culinary & entertainment magazines such as Every Day with Rachael Ray, The Food Network Magazine, Real Simple, Wine Enthusiast, and many others. Of course, there's so much more to it than that...Read More