April 16, 2019

Cocktail Talk: Maigret and the Minister

Image result for maigret and the ministerMy love of, and diving into, the George Simenon Maigret canon has been well documented here on the Spiked Punch, with loads of Simenon Cocktail Talks that you should go back and read and love. This one here, the newest as I write this at least, cause I’m sure they’ll be more, sees our man Maigret drawn into the wacky world of Parisian (and France, in general) politics, which he doesn’t always enjoy, but which it’s fun to see him navigate and he tried to unravel a corruption case. As usual, he and his team have an assortment of drinks along the way, starting with some sloe gin, but leaning heaviest I believe into Pernod.

And Maigret felt slightly guilty vis-à-vis his two colleagues. Lapointe too must have realized by now what it was all about.
“A beer?” suggested Maigret.
“No. A Pernod.”
And that too was out of character for Lucas. They waited for the drinks to be served, and then continued in hushed tones.

–George Simenon, Maigret and the Minister

April 12, 2019

What I’m Drinking: The Palexander

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!

palexander
The Palexander

Ice cubes
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.

March 15, 2019

What I’m Drinking: Rye Not? With Clyde May’s Rye

Okay, there has to be a drink named this, right? It’s just too good not to have been utilized by some creative bartender (of which there are millions, lucky us), and so whomever has done so, my apologies. And if really there isn’t, than, wheee! Anyway, as you might expect from this name I’ve been mulling over, this is a rye drink, and one that hews close-ish to a rye Manhattan, which I think is a good place to start.

Another good place to start is the rye I’m using here, Clyde May’s rye. Clyde May’s is made by the Conecuh Distillery and is named after Alabama’s most famous bootlegger/moonshiner from days of yore (meaning, days when we had moonshiners, and not liquor stores one could trot into, or fire up online). I had their bourbon in a Mint Julep not too long ago, and you can go read about it. But now, it’s rye time, cause, as the drink name tells us, Rye Not?

The Clyde May’s rye is aged a minimum of three years and rolls off the tongue at 47% ABV. On the nose, it delivers some spice, caramel, and flowery notes, which unfold when sipping into a little stone fruit (apricots, I say!), and more spice and rye goodness, and a hint of pepper and sweetness trailing. A nice sipper, but also nice in cocktails like this one, where I – after due consideration – follow up on those apricot notes I parsed out above, by mixing it with a little (don’t want to overwhelm) apricot liqueur, as well as a little peach bitters, and to bring us all home, some Punt e’ Mes vermouth. All together, a swell drink for right about now, where there’s chill still in the air, but perhaps a dream of spring coming closer every day.

rye-not
Rye Not?

Ice cubes
2 ounces Clyde May’s rye whiskey
1/2 ounce apricot liqueur
1/2 ounce Punt e’ Mes sweet vermouth
2 dashes Fee Brothers Peach bitters
Big ice cube (or more little ones)

1. Fill a mixing glass halfway full with ice cubes. Add everything except more ice. Stir well.

2. Add a big ice cubes or some smaller ones to an Old Fashioned style glass. Strain the mix into the glass. Sip up!

March 8, 2019

What I’m Drinking: The Leaping Drive

This is one of those drinks that appear to be related to a number of other sippers. It has a connection to the Sidecar, with lemon and Cointreau, and especially what some call a Chelsea Sidecar, which uses gin as the base spirit. It’s also connected to a drink called the Leap Year (a fine drink I should talk more about here sometime), which has gin, Grand Marnier, lemon juice, and sweet vermouth. Not to mention bunches of other gin, lemon, vermouth variations (and Cointreau, too). But, with all that, I think this particular configuration is its own animal, and so while the name (perhaps obliquely) points to some of its antecedents, the end result is a worthy sipper just for its own tangy, spring-y, botanical-y, subtle-y orange-y, taste. When you sip it, springtime or not, you’ll understand what I mean, and forget about all that other stuff I mentioned. Just sip, sip, sip.

leaping-drive
The Leaping Drive

Ice cubes
2 ounces gin (I used Bombay Sapphire, and it served me well)
3/4 ounces Blanc vermouth (I used Dolin, and it was delicious as always)
1/2 ounce Cointreau
1/4 ounce freshly-squeezed lemon juice
Lemon twist, for garnish

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

2. Strain through a fine strainer into a cocktail glass (or comparable). Garnish with the twist.

February 22, 2019

What I’m Drinking: The Seelbach

Beyond the fact that this is a tasty drink – double bitters, bourbon, bubbly, Cointreau – I love the story of the Seelbach. It was once thought an uncovered treasure found in some ancient texts, and brought out of the mists of time for the drinkers of the future. But, turns out, the whole story was made up. Cocktails should have histories like this, sometimes, cause drinking should be fun (also, to read the whole story in more detailed, check it out on Liquor.com) and sometimes made up stories are fun, too. Heck, it tricked me, but I still believe it’s fun, and like drinking the Seelbach, too. Try it, and I’m guessing you will, as well.

seelbach-sm
The Seelbach

1 ounce bourbon
1/2 ounce Cointreau
7 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
7 dashes Angostura bitters
Chilled brut Champagne or sparkling wine
Orange twist, for garnish

1. Pour the bourbon, Cointreau, and the two bitters into a flute glass. Stir briefly.

2. Fill the flute almost to the top with the chilled Champagne or sparkling wine. Stir again, but don’t get nutty about it. Garnish with the orange twist.

February 1, 2019

What I’m Drinking: Sweet Bird

Sometimes, people are sort of pooh-pooh-y about Scotch cocktails (though of course there are numerous classics, and noble new ones, too, so maybe attitudes are changing even as I type and I’m just not caught up with the word on the street), thinking that Scotch is only to be sipped solo. But I can’t resist trying it in cocktails. You don’t have to drink them if you’re feeling pooh-pooh-ingly, but that’d be your loss. People also sometimes feel the same way about sweet drinks, usually as they’re eating a doughnut or a pie (not a savory pie, but you guessed that). If it’s not bitter or high proof, they get all angry. Well, that’s silly as (much as mentioned above), there are many classics that utilize sweeter ingredients without getting all sickly about it.

But for folks that fall into those camps (those very very sad camps), well, you’ll want to ignore this drink. Not only is the base Scotch, but it uses two fairly sweet ingredients with it. HAH! IN YOUR FACE! I recently received (lucky me) a bottle of one of my favorite blended Scotches, the Famous Grouse. Not only carrying an amazing name, it’s been made since the late 1800s, is the most popular Scotch in Scotland, and it delivers a taste containing caramel notes, some nice spice, and breezy hints of smoke and citrus. Neat! Meaning, it’s good neat, but also lovely in cocktails.

Our sweeter partners here are nutty: Kahana Royale Hawaii Macadamia Nut liqueur (which is sweet, sure, but not so much that it overwhelms the nuttiness), and Praline Pecan liqueur, which as the bottle says is made in the New Orleans style. It’s a sweetie like the candy that carries its name, but also has a nutty nature. They go nicely with the Grouse and all together unveil a somewhat-buy-not-annoying dessert-y style drink that doesn’t go too far, with that solid background and Scotch-i-ness coming first when sipping, followed by a candy and nutty sweetness. The key, though, beyond those ingredients, is a wide orange twist, one that’s somewhat wild. The citrus oils balance the sweetness and the wildness makes everyone play nice. Nice, I tell you, and also make this a wonderful post-dinner treat.

sweet-birdSweet Bird

Cracked ice
2-1/2 ounces Famous Grouse blended Scotch
1/2 ounce Kahana Royale Hawaii Macadamia Nut liqueur
1/4 ounce Praline Pecan liqueur
Wide orange twist, for garnish

1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add everything but the twist. Stir really well.

2. Strain the mix into a cocktail glass. Garnish with the twist. Enjoy!

January 18, 2019

What I’m Drinking: The Dynamic Battle for Time Itself

Haha, I stole this drink name from a line in a comic written by genius writer and all-around good chap Paul Tobin. It’s such as momentous name! And this is such a springtime-y drink, one you might have as the sun goes down in early May with your feet up on the porch railing, or one you might have in January when you’re dreaming of that springtime scene. So, sorta opposite of the name, which I find delightful. Of course, you could also have this when battling for time itself, and in a way you might need to, as one of the ingredients is Bluewater Distillery’s Organic Elderflower Cardamom liqueur, so you’ll need to bend time to visit WA if you don’t live here, specifically the city of Everett, which is where Bluewater is located. It’ll be worth it, cause this singular liqueur is a vision, with the botanical elderflower and citrus-y spice of cardamom all mingling together like that spring day I mentioned above. Yummy.

And, while you’re here, you’ll want to pick up the other awesome WA ingredients that make this cocktail so dynamic, starting with Wildwood Spirits’ Läka gin. Though you might not be able to find it, as it’s a limited release (battling for time again!). This gin is/was made from a host of localities, and has a lovely classic gin profile, with strong juniper  and spice notes. If you can’t find it, sub in its sibling Kur gin, which is an award-winning gin charmer you don’t want to miss — a touch more citrus, a smidge more lofty botanicals. You also don’t want to miss our third WA star: Scrappy’s Black Lemon bitters. I’ve talked about a bunch this already (in a recipe called Pina’s Potion, and in a recipe called A Moment of Unmixed Happiness, and in an article for Seattle magazine), so all I’ll say here is, it’s one of those ingredients that might change your life. Probably will. Lemony, floral, earthy, there is nothing like it! And I need a bigger bottle today!

All those together, plus a little lemon juice, and I believe you may well win the dynamic battle for time itself! Try a few of these and see.

dynamic-battle-for-time-its
The Dynamic Battle for Time Itself

Ice cubes
2 ounces Wildwood Spirits’ Läka gin
3/4 ounces Bluewater Organic Elderflower Cardamom liqueur
1/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 dashes Scrappy’s Black Lemon bitters

1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with ice cubes. Add everything. Shake.

2. Strain through a fine strainer into a cocktail glass. Drink. Think about time!

January 4, 2019

What I’m Drinking: Melt the Snow

I’m sorry, I can’t help myself, baby, it’s cold outside. There, I did it, I sung the song that once was neat, and now has sadly been covered into oblivion. A shame, really. What’s not a shame on a cold-outside-day is this winter Washington warmer. It’s a curious choco-mix in one manner, in that it mixes hot chocolate and whiskey, which isn’t seen often. Silly, that. Here, the whiskey side is Scratch’s straight whiskey. Scratch (you should know this!) is a delicious distillery out in WA, specifically Edmonds, WA. They make all kinds of bottled things, starting with gins, and moving along. Their whiskey can be hard to get, but is worth tracking down, due to its singular (and single-barrel), mash bill, which utilizes a line-up of “old world” grains I hadn’t seen together before: spelt, millet, white winter wheat, and malted barley. Scrumptious stuff. Also scrumptious, the other WA-made ingredient used here, Salish Sea distillery’s organic allspice liqueur. Salish Sea is from Lacey, WA, and makes an incredible array of all-organic liqueurs, a line-up covering classic flavors and more esoteric numbers. And if that wasn’t enough scrumptiousness, a little Seattle-made Scrappy’s orange bitters adds the final touch here, in a mighty-fine way: you put a few drops on top of the whipped cream topping, and the bitter scents waft up as you drink. So, what are you waiting for? Warm up.

melt-the-snow-2Melt the Snow

1-1/2 ounces Scratch Straight Whiskey
1/2 ounce Salish Sea allspice liqueur
2 ounces hot chocolate
Whipped cream
Dash or two Scrappy’s orange bitters

1. Add the Scratch whiskey and Salish Sea allspice liqueur to a mixing glass. Stir briefly.

2. Warm a coffee mug or sturdy glass goblet by running it under hot water, and then drying it quickly.

3. Add the hot chocolate to the mug. Slowly and smoothly, add the whiskey-liqueur mix, stirring while you add.

4. Top with whipped cream, and then sprinkle a little bitters onto the whipped cream.

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