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 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.
May 12, 2017
Boodles and Dolin sound a smidge like they could be an old Vaudevillian comedy duo, with the spinning ties, just-about-bawdy bawdiness, and maybe even a seltzer dispenser for a wet-faced final guffaw. The latter of course would be out of place today, as I decided that I needed to keep it about as canonical as you can (or close, I suppose), after having an assortment of high-faluting liquid creations lately. I don’t consume a wheelbarrowful of Martinis, but once in a while I get the urge, and when urge-ing go with a ratio that all should (that’s what really old drinkers would tell us – like, say, 90ish), 2-1/2 to 1/2, stirred (screw off Bond), and go with a lemon, because lemons are fruits of the gods and olives aren’t. Feel free to seltzer me in the face, but not until I finish this drink. Actually, not until I finish the next drink. I surely deserve two.
2-1/2 ounces Boodles gin
1/2 ounce Dolin dry vermouth
Lemon twist, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add Boodles and Dolin. Laff! Then stir. Then laff!
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with the lemon, in a manner that would make your grandfather’s grandmother proud.
April 21, 2017
I would never ask the question (being happily married with the bestest wife in the whole wide world – the universe, even) from which this drink takes its name. But Crosby Gaige sure would. Not sure why, and sadly I can’t ask him, as he’s currently tippling (with his wife, perhaps, for all I know, or husband, or alien companion, if we’re getting universal. I’m sure no species-ist) in that great big bar in the afterlife. See, this comes from his book (a jolly one, by the way, if you ever see a copy) from way back in 1941, Crosby Gaige’s Cocktail Guide and Ladies Companion. This particular drink is from “The Department of the Charentes or Brandy Department” chapter, and I was looking for a brandy a drink the other day, and realized, hey, I’d never tried this, and so even though I know many good answers to the drink’s name, I made it anyway. And it’s an interesting mix, because really (oh that joker Crosby), it’s a gin drink, with brandy (and Cointreau, and lemon juice) playing smaller parts. It might have just a stitch too much lemon juice for most modern palates, but I found it refreshing, and like the way the brandy sidekick’d to the gin, with that Cointreau underneath really, and the lemon bright up top. No matter what your views on material status, give it a whirl.
1-1/2 ounces gin (dryer the better)
1/2 ounce brandy
1/2 ounce Cointreau
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with cracked ice. Shake well (yes! I know this all goes against traditional ice/shake/stir/mumbo/jumbo. But this is how Crosby did it, and it worked for me, too).
2. Strain through a fine strainer into a cocktail glass. Drink up. Then walk down that aisle!
February 24, 2017
There’s no need to yell at me – I realize with the title here, I’m nearly breaking my own soapbox (to stretch a metaphor to the breaking point), or favorite soapbox, as admittedly there are many I like to stand upon. But this one, it’s the one where bartenders make up new drinks and then just name them some bastardization of an existing classic drink. C’mon bartenders, be creative! Though, in this case, bartender heal thyself, as this drink name is partially a play on the classic Negroni. But it’s also a play on my favorite Italian winery, Donini, and really, The Doninoni is so much fun to say! And changed enough (as opposed to, oh, the numerous Strawberry Margaritas I made in college, or something like the Appletini for gawd’s sake) to make me not too egregious, right? Right! If you disagree, drink two of the below and call me in the morning.
1-1/2 ounces Nat’s gin (I used the gin wife Nat made at Scratch, cause she did such a good job – read more about making gin at Scratch)
1-1/2 ounces Donini Tarragoni (if you sadly can’t get this, another slightly-dry but full-bodied Umbrian red could suffice)
1-1/2 ounces Campari
1/2 ounce grenadine (go homemade or go home)
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add everything. Shake well.
2. Add a few good ice cubes to an Old Fashioned or comparable glass. Strain the mix into the glass and over the ice.
February 21, 2017
I recently re-read (for the, oh, let’s say, fourth time) Graham Greene’s classic short post-WW-II Vienna thriller The Third Man. It was written specifically to be made into the (possibly) more classic movie of the same name, and is entirely worthwhile. And a quick read, too, as it both keeps you on the edge of your reading chair or couch – as you, along with the amazingly-named Rollo Martins, unravel the mystery of Harry Lime – and because as mentioned, it’s short. It also has a couple of neat bar scenes. I especially like the description below.
After he left me, Martins went straight off to drink himself silly. He chose the Oriental to do it in, the dreary smoky little night club that stands behind a sham Eastern façade. The same semi-nude photographs on the stairs, the same half-drunk Americans at the bar, the same bad wine and extraordinary gins – he might have been in any third-rate night haunt in any other shabby capital of a shabby Europe.
– Graham Greene, The Third Man
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.