September 10, 2019
I know, I know, I’ve had a lot of Maigret Cocktail Talks, but when I put up a good boozy quote in The Silent Witness Cocktail Talk recently, I realized I had to have one from Maigret and the Informer, too. See, if you missed that recent Cocktail Talking, I picked up both of these in one of those books-that-contain-two-books, which used to be a thing, and which I think is fun. Often, it was two books by the same author, but sometimes, you see two different authors, sharing the same genre. Here, it worked wonderfully, with the dry, stoic (but funny, in his way) French Inspector Maigret back-to-back with an American PI, Jack Fenner, also a little dry and stoic (and funny in his way). Both crime-solvers like a drink, too. This George Simenon book is an good one (most are!), with a restaurateur killed, young gangsters, a trip to the south of France, an informer on the run, a quirky cop, a cheating wife – all you could want, really! Plus, it all starts with a dinner at the Maigret house (they have Doctor Pardon and his wife over for dinner once a month if you were wondering), one I would have liked to have been at.
The women would take advantage of the occasion to put on a great spread and to exchange recipes, while the men would gossip idly, drinking Alsatian gin or raspberry brandy.
The dinner had been particularly successful. Madame Maigret had made a guinea-hen pie and the superintendent had brought out of his cellar one of the last bottles of an old Chateauneuf de Pape he had once bought a case of, marked down, when he was in Rue Drouot.
The wine was exceptionally good, and the two men hadn’t left a drop. How many liqueur glasses of brandy had they had afterwards? At any rate, suddenly awakened at two o’clock in the morning, Maigret did not feel his best.
— George Simenon, Maigret and the Informer
September 6, 2019
Here’s a question that I’m curious about – in our modern (and here, I’m thinking super modern and recent, in the last years) drinking world here in the U.S., why hasn’t genever become more of a regular base spirit for drinks? I mean, I understand it wasn’t widely available until said recency, and sometimes it’s hard to change, and for a while, even I only really knew about one brand (Bols Genever, which is a dandy spot to start, and which I used recently in a Genever Julep recipe). But recently, I was able to sample a whole range, and it’s really interesting that there are many variations on the theme. If you don’t know (and again, don’t feel bad if you don’t – recency and all. But now you will), genever has been consumed for health and happiness since the 1500s, and is made from malt wine. Think malty-ness a bit like whiskey, but a juniper and herbal profile like gin, with all the variations therein. It was used more, I think, way back in the day, and so I’ve been going the classic route, and it’s still late summer, so I’ve also been hitting the G&Ts (I don’t need to tell you how G&Ts and summer go together). Then it hit me – why not Genever & Tonic? I used Bobby’s Schiedam Jenever (side note: sometimes you see Jenever as well as Genever), which utilizes that malt wine base and then a juniper, cubeb pepper, lemongrass, cardamom herb package. Yummy! But, admittedly, not super available over here yet – don’t worry! Other genevers, and I think Bols, for example, would be delicious here. But you need to have a great tonic, and I used locally-made &Tonic, a tonic syrup (if you’re not on top of tonic syrups, read this tonic syrup article), handcrafted and ridiculously good. Try this drink, as soon as you can!
Genever and Tonic
1/2 ounce &Tonic tonic syrup
3-1/2 to 4 ounces club soda
Lemon twist, for garnish
1. Fill an Old Fashioned or comparable glass with ice cubes. Add the genever and tonic syrup. Stir briefly. Add the soda (use a little more or less as taste drives you). Stir.
2. Garnish with the twist. Think about how awesome the modern drinking world is.
September 3, 2019
I’ve had a couple Cocktail Talks from George Harmon Coxe on the ol’ Spiked Punch, but not an inordinate amount. Which is a bit odd, as I sorta like his probably main star, photographer/drinker/mystery solver Kent Murdock. Maybe I just need to track down some more books? Recently, I did score a good one, The Silent Witness, in a two-novels-in-one hardback-book book, if that makes sense (the others was a great Simenon, Maigret and the Informer, and why don’t we do these “duo” books anymore? Modern authors too snooty to share?). Interestingly, it doesn’t star Mr. Murdock, but instead PI Jack Fenner, though Murdock shows briefly, as they both share the same fictional universe! I love that! It’s a crossover, in a way, and I think there were more, and Fenner shows up in small roles in the Murdocks I’ve read. We talk about crossovers now in movies as if they never happened before, but here we are. Oh, the book’s a good read, too, with a more slow burn development than many (the murder doesn’t happen for say 90 pages), and a neatly draw-out denouement between PI and villain, with lots of clues along the way. A good one – especially when paired with a book staring our old pal Inspector Maigret, and when featuring this quote.
But I can buy a drink while you two get acquainted . . . what will it be? He added when the waiter approached.
Nancy showed no hesitation. “A very dry Martini with a twist, straight up.” “I think – maybe a Cinzano and soda, with a bit of orange peel,” Kathy said, and Fenner asked for a Scotch and water.
— George Harmon Coxe, The Silent Witness
July 12, 2019
This is a nice summertime buzzer, though one that in the past I’ve gone a route that equals a fairly substantial shaking, which can be a bit much if the ol’ sun is beating down and the Mercury’s risen up. Meaning, it’s hot, friends, and so shaking a ton is a little much, but since it’s needed when using honey, that was the situation. Until, however, I decided to make a honey simple syrup, which I should have done anyway cause it makes the mixing much smoother overall. I just went basically 1:1 on the syrup, and it was dreamy. Some use a bit more lemon juice and honey then in the recipe below, and that is okay, too! But I was using the marvelous Sipsmith gin here, and I wanted to let that gin shine just a little brighter, by toning down our other players without toning them out. Not a bad idea, really, and just the thing for a July day in the pleasant Pacific Northwest.
2 ounces Sipsmith gin
1/2 ounce lemon juice
1/2 ounce honey simple syrup
Lemon twist, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway up with ice cubes. Add everything by the twist. Shake well, but not so well as you’d have to with pure honey, which takes some serious shaking.
2. Strain through a fine strainer into a cocktail glass. Garnish with the twist. Kick back, buzz, buzz.
June 28, 2019
The north wind says, I bring a clear spirit with the breath of juniper and some cracked ice for chilling. The east wind says, I’ll bring a classically-style orange essence built on grapes and a nice glass. The west wind says, I’ll bring something with a hint of bitter and herb made in the mountains (or thereabouts) and a twist of orange. The south wind says I’ll bring a bit more bitter undercurrenting via a legend that needs no introducing, along with a long spoon for stirring. That’s all the winds, and now we have our drink for today.
1-1/2 ounces gin (I used nice reliable Bombay)
1 ounce Pierre Ferrand Orange curaçao
1/2 ounce Breckenridge Bitters
1 dash Angostura bitters
Orange twist, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add the gin, curaçao, Breckenridge bitters, and Angostura bitters. Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with the orange twist. Drink four times, once looking each direction.
May 17, 2019
Okay, don’t be upset, but this drink (which is delicious, a smidge sweet, a hint botanical, a miniscule citrus-y, fragrant, all that) uses a homemade ingredient which I’m not providing the recipe for. Because I sorta forgot it! See, I was making some basil-lemon simple syrup as one does, but I didn’t actually write down exactly how much basil I used. It was let’s say a decent-sized bunch and a half. And I didn’t write down the exact amount of lemon juice used, but let’s say it was the juice of half a lemon. Can that get you there if you add it to a regular simple syrup recipe that delivers like three cups or thereabouts of syrup? I think it can (don’t forget to let it seep awhile and strain the basil out and all that)! If you are brave, and resourceful, and heroic, which you, I believe, are!
And it’s one wonderful syrup, which here goes wonderfully with gin. I used Sipsmith London Dry gin, which I like lots, and not just cause of the cool swan art on the bottle. But also cause of the lovely juniper, lemon citrus, and orange marmalade, dry-ish profile. It’s a yummy gin if you haven’t had it. And, speaking of yummy, our third ingredient here is Carpano Bianco vermouth, a light, wine-citrus-mineral-fruit treat that should be a part of any respectable set of liquor shelves. Altogether, this drink delivers in a manner ideal for a spring day or summer evening – now you just need to be a little heroic and make it.
Within the Week
2 ounces Sipsmith London Dry gin
1/2 ounce Carpano Bianco vermouth
1/2 ounce basil-lemon simple syrup
Basil leaf, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add everything but the leaf (beleaf it!). Shake well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass, and now add the leaf. Leaf it up!
April 12, 2019
Here’s something that’ll be no surprise to you, pal (as you’ve read this blog for years and years, and know me so well, and all that): I’m not opposed to a good dessert drink. Actually, I’m a dessert drink proponent, and feel that in our modern must-be-brown-and-bitter (I like brown and bitter, too, by the by) culture, sometimes people frown at slightly creamier and sweeter sippers – but not me! Anyway, the king of the dessert drinks, and an overall classic since 1916, is the Alexander, and I’m a big fan of its perfectly-balanced balance. I’ll have one fairly regularly (like, every six months or some such), but recently I was craving one and realized – GASP! – I was out of crème de cacao! What’s a boy to do? Well, I’m not one to sit around and not have a drink at all just being due to one missing ingredient. Instead of making sorrows, I make solutions! And really bad sayings, hahaha. In this case, my solution was subbing in another component that has the crème de cacao’s sweetness and flavor to the drink – though a different flavor as instead of chocolate, see, I went nutty, with Dumante Verdenoce pistachio liqueur. Really! Made with care in Italy using Sicilian pistachios, it’s a lush sipper and goes perfectly with gin and cream here. Perfectly I say! The combo retains the original’s smooth velvety-ness, with the gin accents and now some nutty nuttiness. Lovely! Especially when topped with a shake of cinnamon sugar, which I did!
1 ounce gin
1 ounce heavy cream
1 ounce Dumante Verdenoce pistachio liqueur
Shake of cinnamon sugar
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add our trio (gin, cream, liqueur). Shake well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Give a little shake of cinnamon sugar over the drink. Yum it up.
April 5, 2019
It’s April, so you might be thinking – why would anyone want to be in bed by 10 p.m. when spring is starting to spring, and the light is slowly shedding more light on the day? But hey, some of us still have to work, and age weighs heavy on shoulders, and, well, I like to go to bed early-ish and read (comics), and maybe have a sip here and there while I read. And this is a sweet drink for being in bed at this time, due to its usage of The Bitter Truth Pink Gin, a beautiful combining of well-crafted gin and aromatic bitters (and you know you can trust the Bitter Truth folks when it comes to that), combined with orange juice (good to citrus up before bed, as it’s healthy and all), an egg white (which bring a lovely nighttime texture, as well as a bit of protein), and simple syrup – that kiss of sweetness you want before tucking yourself in for a night of sweet, sweet, dreams. Now you may want to go to bed a little early with one of these, too!
The We Have to Be in Bed by 10 P.M.
1-1/2 ounces The Bitter Truth Pink Gin
1 ounce freshly squeezed orange juice
1 egg white
1/2 ounce simple syrup
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the Pink Gin, orange juice, egg white, and simple syrup. Shake really well.
2. Strain (through a fine strainer if you have one) into a cocktail glass. Drink and dream.