December 18, 2020

What I’m Drinking: The Orchid Canopy

Just weeks back, I had a Cocktail Talk from Qiu Xiaolong’s excellent Enigma of China, starring Chief Inspector Chen (be sure to read past Qiu Xiaolong Chen Cocktail Talks), in which we had a quote about classic Chinese poet Wang Xizi and a wine poem games he and other poets played, which is about the most amazing thing! Said poet from many years gone by (and the poets who played the wine poem game described) mostly hung out in the Chinese city (as it’s called today), Shaoxing. Now (and trust me, I’m bringing this all together, somewhat), also a few weeks back, some pals of mine from the wondrous Teacher’s Lounge dropped me off a bottle of what, it turns out, is Shaoxing wine! Also amazing. A fermented rice wine, it’s one of (I’ve read) the most famous of the genre, and one often used for cooking as well as drinking – actually, it’s a key cooking ingredient, due to its herbal-ish, funky-ish, fruit-y taste. But I believe that taste means that it can make a swell cocktail, too, and I think in this drink here, The Orchid Canopy (the name’s a shout out to Wang, too!), proves it. I felt something as personality-rich as Shaoxing wine needed a drinking partner that could stand up to it while mingling, and after some testing, came up with: port! Specifically, Sandeman 10-year-old Tawny port, which is a lush number that’s also fruity, with hint of nutty, too. Those notes, with more emphasis on the “fruity” but stone fruity (equaling a little nuttiness, too), are echoed in our third and last ingredient: Rothman and Winter Apricot liqueur. With these three ingredients, we have a cocktail that’s fit for a gathering of poets. Heck, they might even play a cocktail poem game with it!

orchard-canopy

The Orchard Canopy

 

Cracked ice

1-1/2 ounces Shaoxing rice wine

1-1/2 ounces Sandeman 10-year-old Tawny port

3/4 ounces Rothman and Winter Apricot liqueur

Orange twist, for garnish

 

1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add our three poetic ingredients, and stir well.

 

2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a good-sized orange twist. Drink, write poems, drink more.

 

November 6, 2020

What I’m Drinking: Spirit and Substance

Okay, obvious statement number one: you know what’s awesome? Pals are awesome. Perhaps moreso now than ever (now meaning the moment I’m typing, which is during a very bad year – future reader, I hope whatever time you’re reading this is more conducive to swell-ness), which is a somewhat interesting statement as it can be harder to see (and here I mean see for reals, not through a screen – not that that isn’t real per se, but not as real real, really) to see said pals. Make sense? Clear as brandy? How about, obvious statement number two: awesome pals who make tasty things and then drop them off for you are, well, awesome! Which is what happened for me recently, as pal Rebecca (genius pal, I might say) sent some homemade plum shrub and grenadine our way, and what a pandemic helper they have been! More of the latter later, but today, we’ve delving plum shrub style, as I used it to make a tasty (if I can say so without sounding like a lame-o) sipper which I’m calling Spirit and Substance.

It starts (duh!) with tangy, zingy, fruity plum shrub. I don’t know how it’s made, but can find out if you’re desperate. I matched with with a gin (gin and fruit = yum), specifically Sipsmith London Dry gin, which I adore due to its dry, citrus, fruit (dare I say marmalade), character. But I didn’t stop there! I thought about it (often we just see shrub+base spirit+ soda, but more felt appropriate), tried this and that, and ended up with more fruit in the way of Sidetrack Blackberry liqueur. Made outside of Kent, WA on the same farm the blackberries (and other delights) are grown, its rich berry body was the ideal addition. And then, soda, ice, lemon twist, and boom! A drink that’ll bring summer into fall, and pals into your heart, if not your home bar.

spirit-and-substance

Spirit and Substance

 

1-1/2 ounce Sipsmith London Dry gin

3/4 ounce plum shrub

1/2 ounce Sidetrack Distillery Blackberry liqueur

Ice cubes

4 ounces chilled club soda

Lemon twist, for garnish

 

1. Add the gin, shrub, and liqueur to a mixing glass or cocktail shaker. Stir well.

2. Fill a highball or comparable glass three-quarters up with ice cubes. Strain the mix from step one into the glass, over the ice.

3. Add the club soda, and stir to combine. Garnish with the twist.

October 30, 2020

What I’m Drinking: The Warlock

Well, tomorrow is once again Halloween, often one of the finest funtimes of the year, but in 2020, one of the lamest (not to mention tragic on many levels) years, Halloween like so many other things is different, let’s say. But what’s not different is your scrumptious duty to make a Warlock and turn into a zombie magician. Got it? Spooky good! If you’ve forgotten, the Warlock contains brandy, Strega, limoncello, orange juice, and Peychaud’s bitters, and is my favoritest Halloween special. As you can see below (and you can also learn how to make the Warlock, too)!

October 23, 2020

What I’m Drinking: The Electrician

We recently here in the wondrous Seattle, W-A went through (as did CA and OR) some awful, deadly, smoky air (as if everything else in 2020 wasn’t enough of a shitestorm), leaving most stuck in inside, as walking outside was anything but safe. At least at my house we were stocked up on booze and streaming TV and books and peanut butter, which I can’t do without. And during that timeframe, I utilized the first in that list to make this here drink, which aligned in a way with the smoke – I think I felt if I could drink the smoke a bit, perhaps it would lessen it in the sky; perhaps I felt since my nose and throat were getting smoked out, I might as well go with it. Either way, it ended up being a pretty neat sipper, if I can be so bold. And I was going to name it after the smoked-out skies in some way, but then I didn’t want to give the smoke the honor of being attached to this drink. During this trying smoky time, while being stuck inside, we also needed some wiring and such fixed up, so called in a friendly electrician, and so I decided instead that this dandy cocktail should be named after them.

So, how to build a drink for such a smokocalypse? Well, I didn’t want it to solely smoky, because the earth is still growing and all that, which led me to leaning fruity, too, but how to balance, and what fruit? Pomegranate seemed the ticket after a little picking and grinning (or testing) so I went with Pama, a tangy pomegranate liqueur, combined with a smoky, savory duo: mezcal, and Chase Smoked vodka (which you can read more about in the A Kindred Spirit cocktail recipe). But that wasn’t it (though I do like a good three-bottle drink). Because it was a bitter time, I decided some bitter notes were needed, coming via Breckenridge Bitter (which isn’t a “bitters” as you might think of, but a bitter herbs and rootsy aperitif) and old charmer Peychaud’s bitters (which is a “bitters” in exactly the way you know). To curve the edges of the various ingredients, a drop or three of simple syrup. In hindsight, maybe those drops made it a stitch sweet, but, hmm, on the other side, maybe not. You decide!

electrician

The Electrician

 

Ice cubes

1-1/2 ounce Chase Smoked vodka

3/4 ounce mezcal

1/2 ounce Pama Pomegranate liqueur

1/2 ounce Breckenridge Bitter

Dash Peychaud’s bitters

1/4 ounce simple syrup

Cherry (Rainer is nice), for garnish

 

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add everything but the cherry. Shake well.

2. Add the cherry to a cocktail glass, and strain the mix from Step 1 into the glass. Enjoy, but not while actually, you know, doing electrical work.

 

October 16, 2020

What I’m Drinking: The Aviation

You know I like to make drinks, and I know you know, and you know I know you know, ad infinitum. However, I have to say – I also like drinks made for me. This is perhaps obvious for those who followed my past escapades writing about Seattle bars (the finest bars in the cosmos), but here I’m not talking about professional slingers and shakers and strainers making me drinks; instead, I’m talking about home-bartending pals. Now, due to our circumstances (sucky, circumstances, that is, so do your part to help) it’s not as easy as hopping off a whiskey barrel to have fine drinks made by said pals. However (part II), I was just lucky enough to have a nice socially-distanced evening in the lovely back yard of two pals. Julie and Leroy, and during said evening Leroy made me an absolutely tasty Aviation. I hadn’t flown the friendly Aviation skies for far too long, so it was a treat on multiple levels. It’s such a swell cocktail, the gin base botanicals mingling with the lemon tang, maraschino nuttiness, and crème de violette’s bouquet. Pretty, too, though my pic does it no justice. Forgive me, but I was more interested in distanced-chatting that in picture taking! Now, I didn’t watch up close how Leroy made his high-flying Aviation, so for the ol’ Spiked Punch blog, I’m going to use the recipe from Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz. It might not soar to the same heights, but it’ll get you there!

aviation

The Aviation (using the recipe from Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz)

 

Ice cubes

2 ounces gin

1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 teaspoons maraschino liqueur

1 teaspoon crème de violette

Maraschino cherry (as long as you can get a good one, from Luxardo for instance), for garnish

 

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the gin, lemon juice, maraschino liqueur, and crème de violette, and shake well.

 

2. Strain the mixture into a cocktail glass and garnish with the cherry.

 

October 2, 2020

What I’m Drinking: Caducitivo

Here’s a fine kettle of various ingredients mixed with booze. I had the mad/smart/odd/random/bored/inventive/normal idea not more than a couple weeks ago that I should make up a wine-based liqueur or aperitivo if you like (I like, so I’m gonna call it that), and that it should have basil in it (cause my basil plants were doing so well then, if, admittedly, not as well now as summer has dwindled), and maybe orange (cause I had an orange), and a roasted peach (which also was around and needed to be used, sans pit, but the roasting felt important), and some spices but not too many, and a hint of bitterness cause the best aperitivos (or many of them) tend to have that, and it should be pretty as that hour on a sunny late-summer day when night is nearly there, but not quite there, the hour you realize once again that summer and all things are transient, ephemeral, lovely. Whew, seems like a lot to ask of something made in a big glass jar!

But, you know, it worked out quite well. Not sure I reached the full heights I wanted, but came close-ish, to my taste, which might be different than yours. The basil is the strangest part of the equation, as it lost some of its, well, basil-ness if that makes sense. There’s not overriding basil smell or taste, or any, or very little; instead, it adds a slightly vegetal minty-ness. Interesting! The orange notes come through strong, with a little other citrus (thanks to lemon) and a dream of toasty peach, and the spice notes (tiny bits of ginger, star anise) are more inferred than active, if that makes sense. Oh, I should have started with: the wine I used as the base was an Orvieto Classico white wine, which I love, and which is dry-ish, but fruit-y-ish (more peach notes here), and grape-ish enough to bring a lot of flavor. I also added some vodka, as the wine solo didn’t seem to have enough umph for the end-of-summer delicate sadness I wanted. Sure, I’m weird! Gentian, the bittering agent of choice for so many things, underlines that thought, as well as balancing the sweetness. Really, all joshing and flighty language aside, Caducitivo (caduco in Italian meaning transient or ephemeral) was an awfully fun, and tasty, experiment, a fine pre-dinner, sipper, with a layered, light, orange-citrus-herb flavor containing a friendly bitter back end. Heck, I think I’ll make it again next year! And, with the below recipe, you can try it, too. I like sipping it at room temp, but think it’s best over ice, or chilled a bit. While I haven’t tried it yet, my guess is it’d be great with Prosecco, and also as a cocktail ingredient.

caducitivoCaducitivo

 

2 cups basil

1 roasted peach (see Note)

1 whole star anise

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

3 wide orange twists

2 wide lemon twists

2-1/2 cups Orvieto Classico (I used Ruffino, which is nice, solid, and not overly pricey)

1/2 cup vodka (I used Prairie Organic vodka, which is swell and came in the mail)

1 cup simple syrup

1/4 teaspoon crushed gentian

 

1. Add the basil, peach, star anise, ginger, and citrus twists to a large glass container with a good lid. Muddle nicely. Add the wine and vodka, stir, and put that lid on it. Store in a cool dark place away from the sun. Let sit two weeks, swirling occasionally.

2. Open it back up, add the simple syrup and gentian (see Second Note), and stir well. Place it back in the cool dark place, and let sit two more weeks, swirling occasionally.

3. Strain – I went once through a decent fine strainer to get the fruit out, and then through cheesecloth to add more clarity. You might need a third straining, too.

 

A Note: For the peach, I just baked it at 425 F until it was slightly roasted, not charred. Also, I didn’t use the pit, just the peach itself.

A Second Note: You could add this in Step 1, but I had unexpectedly ran out, so couldn’t. And there’s something (probably nothing) in adding that bittering agent later, letting the other ingredients meet up first.

 

 

September 11, 2020

What I’m Drinking: A Most Particular Friend (or, A White Currant Mint Liqueur)

Back now, oh, four years ago or thereabouts, I had a recipe and write up here on the Spiked Punch blog for a white currant liqueur called Current Currant, which I’ve been making ever since, thanks to the white currant bush/tree/plant that is growing in the side yard. It’s a plant that took some time to bear fruit, but now is pretty reliable as long as I guard it from the deadly and rapacious white currant grub that can take out a whole plant in no time if not guarded relentlessly during the three-to-a-week of days the grub attack occurs. That guarding makes the currants even more precious; well, that plus the fact that picking the currants is also a little laborious. They’re small, but have a singular taste, a little citrus-y in a way, but also hinting of green grapes, along with a bitter echo – and the fruit makes the Current Currant liqueur a singular liquid. But not what we’re drinking today! As the currant bush has gotten bigger, the yield is enough to make that liqueur as well as other experiments – including A Most Particular Friend.

A Most Particular Friend is made starting in the manner of Current Currant, with white currants, sugar, water, and vodka (any neutral spirit can work, as you might expect). The particular addition – if you want to describe it such – is a bunch of fresh orange mint. I happened to have some growing not too far from the white currant tree, and since the two were nearly neighbors as it may be, combining them seemed apt. And it worked an absolute treat. The mint (only the faintest faint echo of the orange remained, but that’s what dreams are made on) combines with the citrus-esque currant flavor in a way that makes me want to do that hand motion where you kiss your fingers and then open them – bellissimo! Lots of flavor, while remaining light as summer twilight. Fantastic chilled or over ice, so much so I haven’t even tried it in a drink. But I might! If you can track down these two flavorful ingredients, I suggest you give this a try (but don’t steal them outta my yard)!

a-most-particular-friend

A Most Particular Friend

 

1 cup fresh white currants

1-1/2 cup fresh orange mint

2 cups vodka

1-1/2 cups simple syrup

 

1. Add the currants and mint to a large glass container with a good lid. Muddle nicely. Add the vodka, stir, and put that lid on it. Store in a cool dark place away from the sun. Let sit two weeks, swirling occasionally.

2. Open it back up, add the simple syrup, and stir well. Place it back in the cool dark place, and let sit two more weeks, swirling occasionally.

3. Strain – I went once through a decent fine strainer to get the fruit out, and then through cheesecloth to add more clarity. You might need a third straining, too.

 

 

September 4, 2020

What I’m Drinking: The Fruit on the Table

I suppose I’ve said this many times, even recently, but also farther back, throughout the ol’ Spiked Punch blog-of-drinks history, but blackberries, to me, are the queen of summertime berries, the champion of August fruits, the glorious harbinger of winter’s doom (because I always know summer is ending when I’m plowing through blackberries), and just generally really good, especially when they’re plump and sweet but holding a tiny tanginess, too. Yummski, blackberries. I like them solo, in drinks, with peanut butter, when they have been taken by Sidetrack Distillery and made into their (also, yummski) Blackberry liqueur, and when they are painted into a still life so I can admire their artistry. So, yeah, I like them, and I like them in this here drink, which is not a far relative from some other drinks, say, the Margarita, but which has its own particular name, because why wouldn’t a good drink deserve an individual name? That’d be just silly, and while I am silly, I am not silly in that way, I’ll have you know.

You know? Back to this drink! It leans heavy into our beautiful blackberries, but that isn’t all naturally. The base, for example, is another summertime (anytime) fav, mezcal, which starts us earthy and smoky. Then, Grandeza orange liqueur, made in WA, and boasting a bright orange, vanilla flavor. You could use another orange liqueur, but this one is a treat if you can get some (I realize that during the present pandemic, it might be harder than normal to travel, so I’m not gonna try to sway you toward a WA trip. Today, at least). A little fresh lime in attendance and you’ll see the Marg mention above come to life. The final piece of this tasty puzzle has also been mentioned above: Sidetrack Distillery’s lush, lovely Blackberry liqueur. Get some! Make this drink! Believe in the power of blackberries!fruit-on-the-table

 

The Fruit on the Table

 

6 fresh blackberries

Ice cubes

2 ounce mezcal

3/4 ounces Grandeza

1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice

1/2 ounce Sidetrack Blackberry liqueur

Cracked ice

 

1, Add four of the blackberries to a cocktail shaker. Muddle well.

 

2. Fill the shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add everything but our second variety of ice. Shake well.

 

3. Fill a goblet (or comparable) glass with cracked ice. Strain the mix from Step 2 into the glass through a fine strainer. Garnish with the remaining blackberries.

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