March 22, 2019
As spring continues shaking off winter, and the world continues its slow movements, various plants are springing up and blooming and peeking through the cold and snow (if you still have snow) and such. One of which – which really, toughs it out pretty well throughout the earth’s whirls – for me is rosemary. I have, as do lots up here, lots of rosemary. And while it’s fragrant and a nice herb to have around, sometimes, you have to think outside the box to decide what to do with it all. So: rosemary simple syrup! Or making a giant rosemary robot. I tend to go for the former, but if you go for the latter, okay! So, rosemary simple, which goes perfectly with rum and herbal-sipper Becherovka from the Czech Republic. So, if you have a little rosemary happening, now you know what to do with it.
Atomula (with the recipe from Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz)
1-1/2 ounces dark rum
1 ounce Becherovka
1/2 ounce rosemary simple syrup (see A Note below)
Rosemary sprig, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the rum, Becherovka, and rosemary simple syrup. Shake well.
2. Strain the mixture into a cocktail glass. Garnish with the rosemary sprig.
A Note: To make rosemary simple syrup add 1 cup fresh rosemary leaves, 2½ cups water, and 3 cups sugar to a medium-size saucepan. Stirring occasionally, slowly bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-low to medium heat. Then lower the heat a bit, keeping the mixture at a simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, and let the syrup completely cool in the pan. Strain through cheesecloth or a very fine strainer, and then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
August 31, 2018
A swell drink as we slowly shift away from the height of summer into the end of summer and the beginning of fall, the Bijou, as legends have it, was originally created by the legendary Harry Johnson in the late 1800s, with a recipe printed in his New and Improved Bartender Manual from 1900. But I first found it in The Stork Club Bar Book by Lucius Beebe (published first in 1946). The name comes from the jewel definition of Bijou, as the drink has three ingredients aligning with jewels: gin and diamond, sweet vermouth and ruby, and Green Chartreuse and emeralds. Pretty!
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.
August 3, 2018
The Americano is a summertime favorite around my back porch, and should be one around yours, too. It’s been consumed as a warm-weather aperitivo for well over a hundred years, tracing its history back to at least 1860, and is a snap to make (you don’t want to be sweating drink-construction too much when the heat is on). Also, if you’ve been dreaming of a vacation, but just haven’t been able to take one yet, this can help transport you to Italy, in your mind, at least. Which is better than nothing!
The Americano (using the recipe from Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz)
2 ounces Campari
2 ounces sweet vermouth
Chilled club soda
Orange slice, for garnish
1. Fill a highball glass three-quarters full with ice cubes. Add the Campari and vermouth. Stir gently.
2. Add club soda to the glass until the glass is almost full. Garnish with an orange slice.
June 29, 2018
This should be your go-to this summer (or one of them, at least), as it’ll transport you all over Europe without you having to leave the yard, while at the same time serving as a cool cooler, just as you want when the temps are tempting the higher digits. It was created by an old pal and bartending legend, Jeremy Sidener (who owns the Eighth Street Taproom in Lawrence, KS), who was genius enough to bring together the herbally Italian amaro Averna (which is about in the middle of the bitter scale when looking over the amaro family) and French herb-y Bénédictine, along with cherry brandy, lemon juice, and soda. I myself said in Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz that “the result will break any hold a dusty, hot summer’s day has on you.”
The Sicilian Sling
1-1/2 ounces Averna
1/2 ounce cherry brandy
1/2 ounce Bénédictine
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
Chilled club soda
1 or 2 fresh basil leaves, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the Averna, cherry brandy, Bénédictine, and lemon juice. Shake well.
2. Fill a highball glass three-quarters full with ice cubes. Strain the mixture into the glass. Top with chilled club soda, filling it almost to the top. Gently smack the basil leaf or leaves and let them rest on the drink’s top.
March 30, 2018
First things first – this here cheek-tinger has a crucial ingredient not always available easily in the US. You can track it down sometimes online. And you can find it simply enough by traveling to the U.K. And really, you need a vacation right? I’m talking about Glayva liqueur, which is made in Leith, Scotland, through a combo of aged Scotch whiskies, citrus fruits, anise, clove, herbs, a whisper of heather honey, and more treats. It’s well worth trying and tracking down. Especially for this charming charmer, which mixes Glayva with old pal gin (a good U.K. gin makes sense, and I like one in a London traditional sense), cranberry, and orange juice, all together into a treat that will make your day, and your favorite favorite’s day, too.
Scottish Blush, from Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz
1-1/2 ounces gin
1 ounce Glayva
1/2 ounce cranberry juice
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed orange juice
Lime wheel, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the gin, Glayva, cranberry juice, and orange juice. Shake well.
2. Strain through a fine strainer into a cocktail glass and garnish with the lime wheel.
March 23, 2018
It seems like spring should be in full force now, right? If, wherever you are, it doesn’t feel like spring, then, hey, knock back a couple of these springtime delights, and you’ll feel the presence of spring in your soul, no matter what the temperature and sky shading. Why, you ask? It could be the gin (I like a gin with solid juniper here, but a few orange and floral notes sure won’t hurt either), or the lemon juice or grenadine (use homemade for gosh sakes) with their tangy tangs, or even the fruity garnishing. But I think, even moreso perhaps, it’s the Yellow Chartreuse (you may have guessed I’d say that from the title)! With a recipe of 130 plants (a recipe known only to two monks, who also are the only two who know the secret macerating and aging processes), it’s surprisingly smooth, delicate almost, a little sweet, and with lovely botanical and herb layers. A perfect partner for your springtime sipping.
Chartreuse Daisy, from Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz
2 ounces gin
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 ounce grenadine
1 ounce Yellow Chartreuse
Strawberry, for garnish
Orange slice, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with cracked ice. Add the gin, lemon juice, and grenadine. Shake very well, until the shaker gets frosty.
2. Fill a goblet three-quarters up with cracked ice. Strain the mixture over the ice. Stir briefly. Float the Chartreuse over the ice, and stir again briefly. Garnish with the strawberry and the orange slice.
December 22, 2017
Washington State distillers are dreamy (you probably have realized my feelings in this already, as I do go on – but they are awesome!), with so many worthy bottles out already, and more continuing to be released regularly. The latest example? Chambers Bay Straight Bourbon. A follow up to their highly-regarded 20-month aged Greenhorn bourbon, Chambers Bay Straight Bourbon is aged 3-1/2 years, and made from sweet yellow corn and soft white wheat from Grant County, WA, and the distiller’s proprietary wild-yeast strain harvested from a local apple orchard. If that wasn’t enough, though, the real sets-it-apart-thing here is that the aging takes place on a boathouse floating on the Puget Sound – from what I’ve been told, it’s the only whiskey in the world aged that long on the water, where the waves and tides speed up the aging (that’s the theory, at least). End result? A darn tasty tipple, with some nice sweetness from the wheat, and a mingling of sea-salted caramel, toffee, fig, orange, and chocolate.
It’s dandy to enjoy as a solo act, but of course I also wanted to try it in cocktails, and after trying this and then trying that, liked it best in The Hounds They Start to Roar. That drink has a bit of a history, which we won’t get it to too much here (you’ve already read the full story in Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz anyway, right? Right!), but I will remind you that the name comes from a Tom Waits’ song, as do the ingredients, in a way. Said ingredients are bourbon, naturally, but also St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram (the spice flavors contained therein, cinnamon, clove, and others, go wonderfully with the Chambers Bay bourbon mélange), brandy (which helps balance everything out), and Peychaud’s bitters (which adds another herbal tint or two). Together, it’s a drink fit for any sailor, dog lover, song-singer, or person reading this blog, which means you. Take it out for a walk or a sail and see if I’m right.
The Hounds They Start to Roar, from Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz
2 ounces Chambers Bay Straight Bourbon
3/4 ounce St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram
1/2 ounce brandy
2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add the whole bunch of ingredients. Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass or comparable.
September 22, 2017
It’s now Fall, as of today, actually, September 22, and your summer is now fading into a dream, as summer sadly always does. But if you miss the hot nights of the sunny months now in the past, and want to try and rekindle a little of that lovely summertime feeling, you might try this drink – though I wouldn’t have it alone. Have it with someone you are either close to (in a cuddly sense) or want to be close to, as it is – legends say – a romantic summer drink. That’s my advice, at least.
Hot Night in Hidalgo, from Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz
2 ounces dark rum
1-1/2 ounces Damiana
3/4 ounce fresh pineapple juice
Pineapple chunk, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the rum, Damiana, and pineapple juice. Shake well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with the pineapple chunk, and dream of a sunshine daydream with your favorite daydreamer.