June 10, 2022
You probably know this, but just in case, recently the Queen of England had her Platinum Jubilee, which means (another thing you probably know!), that she’s worn the crown for 70 years. It is, in the United Kingdom (and other spots, it seems), a big deal to many, and many parties were had. And, cause she’s so nice, she asked me to come up with a Jubilee Liqueur that she could sip daintily from teacups during the various festivities.
Hahaha, did you believe that, just for a moment? It would have been ridiculously neat if you did. But sadly, it was a lie, the Queen does not know me or my liqueur-making prowess or that my backyard overfloweth with mint (wild and planted) or that I had some extra mandarins lying around lately. Or, at least, if she knows all these things, she isn’t telling me! However! I do have some pals who are from the UK, though currently living in balmy Seattle, and they like many (as mentioned above, in a way) were celebrating said Platinum Jubilee, with a big ol’ English-style knee-up shindig, doing it up right with oodles of eats and drinks and funtimes for neighbors and friends. And I thought – really, they deserve a present fit for a Queen, and so made this here liqueur in her and their honor. As you probably can guess if you’ve made it this far in this paragraph, it has oodles of mint, and some mandarin notes. It’s also based on gin, that most English of quaffs, which is a little different as most homemade liqueurs have a neutral base, while gin brings its own juniper, botanical, spice, citrus, what-have-you nature. Here, go with a good solid London/English juniper forward gin (that’s what I did!). The mint and citrus and gin and sweetness are such a swell snazzy combo, I gotta say – this really is fit for royalty. Including you!
4 small mandarins
3-1/2 cups fresh mint leaves
3 cups gin (English gin, natch – I used Gordon’s)
1 cup water
1-1/2 cups sugar
1. Carefully peel the mandarins. You want the peel, but you don’t want the pith – hence the care! Mandarins tend to be pithy, so you might need/want to scrap a little of that pith off. I did.
2. Add the peels – being sure to save the mandarins – to a large glass container, one with a good lid. Also add 2 cups mint leaves. Muddle the mandarin and mint.
3, Add the gin to the container, stir, and set aside.
4. We’re now going to make a syrup. Usually when making homemade liqueurs, I let flavorings and base sit together solo for a bit before adding the syrup. But as we’re using the juice from the mandarins just peeled, felt it should be made now. It all worked out! Okay, to start, juice the mandarins. Then add the juice and remaining mint leaves to a saucepan. Muddle gently, just to get the mint oils flowing.
5. Add the water and sugar and raise the temperature to medium high. Stirring regularly, bring the mix to a boil, then bring the heat down a bit. Keep it at a smooth simmer for 5 minutes, still stirring. Remove from the heat, and let cool completely in the pan.
6. Pour the mint-mandarin simple syrup into the glass container from Step 2. Stir well, and seal. Place in a cool, dark spot. Let sit for two weeks, swirling regularly. It looks like this:
7. Strain (maybe twice!) through cheese cloth into bottles or one big bottle. Drink solo, over ice, or play around with it in cocktails, all while thinking monarchistically.
May 24, 2022
Are you ready to celebrate tomorrow? I certainly hope so! Wait, celebrate what I hear someone in the back asking? Well, The Thin Man release date day of course! That’s right friends, one of the drinky-est movies of all time (and a swell mystery, too, natch), where the Martinis and such flow like rain in a Seattle winter, was released on 5/25, 1934, if memory serves. Based on the Dashiell Hammett book of the same name (which you must read), and kicking off a series of movies, The Thin Man for those whose lives have been sad so far, features drinking-and-joking-and-quipping-and-drinking-and-just-having-a-swell-time private detectives Nick and Nora Charles. And, for my money (what there is of it), the scene where we meet them for the first time is one of the best scenes in any movie, where a camera swerves through a crowded dance floor before you hear Nick telling the bartender the below, right after which Nora shows and orders seven Martinis. Amazing, as is this quote:
The important thing is the rhythm. Always have rhythm in your shaking. Now a Manhattan you shake to fox-trot time, a Bronx to two-step time, a dry Martini you always shake to waltz time.
–The Thin Man
May 20, 2022
En garde! This fencing (or sword-fighting, if you’re using, say, broadswords) drink is a well-balanced (on the balls of the feet, I suppose, if drinks had feet) number, with gin just taking the first position slightly, and then an equality of Cointreau, Campari, and dry vermouth providing the support, with a hint of orange the shining point (if I can drag out the metaphor). Altogether, a lot of herb-botanical-citrus goodness happening, and a cocktail that is fitting for late spring or late fall, one you can serve happily at happy hours and garden parties, and one with just enough of a story to entertain (named as it is after a famous Olympic fencer) but not so much of one to become a bore. And, really, sipping it is much finer than any sort of fight, even a mock one.
1 ounce gin
1/2 ounce Cointreau
1/2 ounce Campari
1/2 ounce dry vermouth
Orange twist, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add the gin, Cointreau, Campari, and dry vermouth. Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with the orange twist.
May 13, 2022
I was at a bar with some old pals (not drinking Old Pals, funny enough, hahaha) just the other day, and thought for a moment how nice it was to be able to be at a bar having a drink with some old pals – what a world that a thought such as that would flit through my mind then, just considering most of my life that thought wouldn’t have even been a thing (at least the “in a bar” part, with the connotations of the pandemic life we’ve been living). At said bar – not what you might consider a “cocktail bar” if that makes sense, and know I don’t mean that pejoratively, but one that still had a nice bunch of bottles – we were sitting outside, and as it does in Seattle in May sometimes, with evening descending, rain started and the temperature also rapidly descended, and I was getting chilly, and for some reason decided I had to have a hot chocolate and Green Chartreuse. The jolly waitress did look at me strangely (with a big smile) for a moment, as no-one there had ever ordered that before! But it was a lovely mix (try it!). However, that’s not what I’m drinking tonight. But the Chartreuse plus being with old pals (mine being like shining sparkling jewels, to me, as I hope your old pals are to you) reminded me of one of my favorite cocktails, the Bijou, which features said Green Chartreuse, and which is also named for the definition of the word bijou which circles around gems and jewels and jewelry. Neat, right? Right!
Bijou, from Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz
1 -1/2 ounces gin
3/4 ounce Green Chartreuse
3/4 ounce sweet vermouth
Lemon twist, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add the gin, Chartreuse, and vermouth. Stir well.
2. Strain the mixture into a cocktail glass. Twist the twist over the glass and drop it in.
April 15, 2022
It was just hours ago (a week’s worth of hours, that is) that I was sipping some Stambecco and Soda, and in the post about it right here on the Spiked Punch, I went into some detail about Stambecco amaro (be sure to read up), which is made curiously-enough from maraschino cherries, along with a host of botanicals, spices, magic, and goats (well . . .) like any good amaro. It’s a very singular kind of a sipper, tasty, sure, but singular. While this drives it towards being something that’s swell solo, and (as demonstrated in said earlier post) with soda, I couldn’t wait when it showed up to try it mixed with a few other choice pals in a cocktail. Some experimenting of this and of that and here we are drinking How the Rogue Roar’d.
Oh, first, let me say that this cocktail isn’t roguish in the manner of a 17th century thief boosting a coach and four on a dusty road at midnight. But it does roar with a very layered flavor, and has a roguish (the twinkly-eyed lovable rogue way) combination of ingredients. But, mostly, I’ve wanted to have a drink called this forever (it’s a line from Henry IV, Part I, as well as the name of a Shakespeare and Hathaway episode), and here is one that finally deserves this very moniker. So, what’s in it? Stambecco, naturally! And, Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin with Sardinian Citrus. You can read more about this gin treat in the The Suspended Palace with Drumshanbo Gin recipe, but I’ll say here that it boasts a host of regularly-used and rare botanicals and citrus (as well as Gunpowder Tea – which is quite roguish, if not as explosive as you might guess at first read). And, our rogue also features dry vermouth of the Dolin variety (probably needs no explanation), as well as a dash of the delectable Scrappy’s Orange bitters, and, to top it all off, a strawberry. Stambecco goesy, as you might guess, well with cherries, but the strawberry seemed so fitting a top hat for this drink, as there are oodles of fruit and spice notes, while maintaining a dry nature that the slightly sweet strawberry bounces nicely off of, and if that’s not enough, it’s April, so we can dream of summer easily, which means dreaming of strawberries. So, rogue, roar with this cocktail!
How the Rogue Roar’d
2 ounces Drumshanbo Gin with Sardinian Citrus
1 ounce Stambecco amaro
1/2 ounce Dolin dry vermouth
Dash Scrappy’s Orange bitters
Strawberry slice, for garnish
1. Fill a mixing glass or cocktail shaker halfway full with cracked ice. Add all but the lone strawberry. Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish – dare I say, roguishly – with the strawberry. Drink the deliciousness.
April 12, 2022
I do so love me a good Pocket Book (not “pocketbook” as in the old-timey word for a smallish purse, at least usually), both the initial-capped brand of books made mainly in the middle of last century, and made to naturally fit in a pocket, but also the many books of the same size but not under the actual kangaroo-reading-a-book-with-a-backup-book-in-the-pouch-logo’d brand. For one, many of this ilk fell into the mystery genre (which I like), though sci-fi, romance, westerns, all found their way into pockets. But also, just the idea of a non-massive book that was easily totable for the bus, or the park bench, or the couch, or anywhere, so you were always ready for reading – I like, that too! Add in that many of the books have grab-your-eyes covers (it was all about getting those newsstand eyeballs), and, well, me and pocket books (branded and not) get along. Which isn’t to say I like every single pocket-sized book, as there are of course as many clunkers in that book-size-genre as any other. Even the book I’m going to Cocktail Talk from today, the Mystery of the Dead Police, didn’t set my world on fire. An interesting set up (London police being killed at random), but the main characters just didn’t grab, and neither did the writing in the main. However, being a pocket-sized book, it wasn’t an inordinately long read, and still had some good twists here and there, but most of all it has the below quote, where two characters drink White Ladies (after mulling about drinking some other choice classics). How often do book characters drink White Ladies? Not enough! Honestly (why not!) speaking of “not enough” I don’t think there are enough White Ladies being consumed today – I’ll bet half the bars within say 20 minutes of me even in Seattle (home of genius bartenders) wouldn’t know what a White Lady was (gin, lemon, Cointreau, egg white), sadly. But at least our pocket-book pals below know!
“What about a cocktail,” said Nicholas Revel, and sat himself down to face her. His hand pressed the bell push upon the table leg.
Jane, as she has confessed, goggled.
“I . . .” she began. “What . . .”
Giulio came hurrying.
“Dry Martini?” said Nicholas Revel. “Bronx? Sidecar? White Lady? . . . Try a White Lady – yes, a White Lady’s just the thing for this morning. Giulio, two large White Ladies – not too much lemon, and make it snappy.”
— Philip MacDonald, Mystery of the Dead Police
February 25, 2022
First, before any one gets any Coleridgean ideas or something, drinking this will not give you prophetic dreams (as far as I know, though I suppose as somebody said, there are more things in heaven and on earth and all that). However, it is pretty dreamy! And perhaps I can at least prophesize that if you like gin-y types of drinks (Martinis, say), you will most likely like this one! It stirs up a mighty tasty mélange of Kur gin (made right out here in WA, and one I’ve written about before: short story, it’s a classically-minded juniper-y London dry style gin with citrus and fruit accents), dry vermouth (hence the Martini mention), The Blood Orange’s Revenge homemade blood orange liqueur (which I talked about in a recent blood orange liqueur post, but which is to be clear, yummy), and old pal Scrappy’s Orange bitters, which brings it all together with trademark bright orangean-herb notations. What the future holds, who knows – unless you make this drink. Then the future will be you holding a delicious drink (and drinking it).
Prophecies and Dreams
2 ounces Kur gin
1 ounce The Blood Orange’s Revenge
1/2 ounce dry vermouth
1 dash Scrappy’s Orange bitters
1. Fill a mixing glass or cocktail shaker halfway full with cracked ice. Add all the dreams and prophecies (meaning, all the other ingredients). Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Drink while sleeping (no, no, that’s a joke!).
December 14, 2021
Before we dive into our second quote and Cocktail Talk from the Cool and Lam (being Bertha Cool and Donald Lam, the star of this book and others) mystery in question, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point you towards the Some Slips Don’t Show Part I Cocktail Talk, and all the Erle Stanley Gardner Cocktail Talks (he being the writer of said book, as his Cool and Lam-writing alias A.A. Fair, as well as being the writer of course of some books about a lawyer named Perry Freaking Mason), so you can enjoy more drinking fun, after you enjoy the below (which also gives some nice short insight into the Cool and Lam partnership).
“Fifty-seven smackers in one chunk?” she asked, he voice rasping.
“What’s it for? You could have got that broad drunk on gin at a total cost of five bucks. Why the Champagne?”
“It’s for a painting,” I said. “I bought it. It’s called ‘Sun over the Sahara’ and I’m going to put it in a purple frame and –”
“This is long distance, you drunken idiot,” Bertha screamed at me.
–A.A. Fair, Some Slips Don’t Show