May 20, 2022
En garde! This fencing (or sword-fighting, if you’re using, say, broadswords) drink is a well-balanced (on the balls of the feet, I suppose, if drinks had feet) number, with gin just taking the first position slightly, and then an equality of Cointreau, Campari, and dry vermouth providing the support, with a hint of orange the shining point (if I can drag out the metaphor). Altogether, a lot of herb-botanical-citrus goodness happening, and a cocktail that is fitting for late spring or late fall, one you can serve happily at happy hours and garden parties, and one with just enough of a story to entertain (named as it is after a famous Olympic fencer) but not so much of one to become a bore. And, really, sipping it is much finer than any sort of fight, even a mock one.
1 ounce gin
1/2 ounce Cointreau
1/2 ounce Campari
1/2 ounce dry vermouth
Orange twist, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add the gin, Cointreau, Campari, and dry vermouth. Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with the orange twist.
May 13, 2022
I was at a bar with some old pals (not drinking Old Pals, funny enough, hahaha) just the other day, and thought for a moment how nice it was to be able to be at a bar having a drink with some old pals – what a world that a thought such as that would flit through my mind then, just considering most of my life that thought wouldn’t have even been a thing (at least the “in a bar” part, with the connotations of the pandemic life we’ve been living). At said bar – not what you might consider a “cocktail bar” if that makes sense, and know I don’t mean that pejoratively, but one that still had a nice bunch of bottles – we were sitting outside, and as it does in Seattle in May sometimes, with evening descending, rain started and the temperature also rapidly descended, and I was getting chilly, and for some reason decided I had to have a hot chocolate and Green Chartreuse. The jolly waitress did look at me strangely (with a big smile) for a moment, as no-one there had ever ordered that before! But it was a lovely mix (try it!). However, that’s not what I’m drinking tonight. But the Chartreuse plus being with old pals (mine being like shining sparkling jewels, to me, as I hope your old pals are to you) reminded me of one of my favorite cocktails, the Bijou, which features said Green Chartreuse, and which is also named for the definition of the word bijou which circles around gems and jewels and jewelry. Neat, right? Right!
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.
April 12, 2022
I do so love me a good Pocket Book (not “pocketbook” as in the old-timey word for a smallish purse, at least usually), both the initial-capped brand of books made mainly in the middle of last century, and made to naturally fit in a pocket, but also the many books of the same size but not under the actual kangaroo-reading-a-book-with-a-backup-book-in-the-pouch-logo’d brand. For one, many of this ilk fell into the mystery genre (which I like), though sci-fi, romance, westerns, all found their way into pockets. But also, just the idea of a non-massive book that was easily totable for the bus, or the park bench, or the couch, or anywhere, so you were always ready for reading – I like, that too! Add in that many of the books have grab-your-eyes covers (it was all about getting those newsstand eyeballs), and, well, me and pocket books (branded and not) get along. Which isn’t to say I like every single pocket-sized book, as there are of course as many clunkers in that book-size-genre as any other. Even the book I’m going to Cocktail Talk from today, the Mystery of the Dead Police, didn’t set my world on fire. An interesting set up (London police being killed at random), but the main characters just didn’t grab, and neither did the writing in the main. However, being a pocket-sized book, it wasn’t an inordinately long read, and still had some good twists here and there, but most of all it has the below quote, where two characters drink White Ladies (after mulling about drinking some other choice classics). How often do book characters drink White Ladies? Not enough! Honestly (why not!) speaking of “not enough” I don’t think there are enough White Ladies being consumed today – I’ll bet half the bars within say 20 minutes of me even in Seattle (home of genius bartenders) wouldn’t know what a White Lady was (gin, lemon, Cointreau, egg white), sadly. But at least our pocket-book pals below know!
“What about a cocktail,” said Nicholas Revel, and sat himself down to face her. His hand pressed the bell push upon the table leg.
Jane, as she has confessed, goggled.
“I . . .” she began. “What . . .”
Giulio came hurrying.
“Dry Martini?” said Nicholas Revel. “Bronx? Sidecar? White Lady? . . . Try a White Lady – yes, a White Lady’s just the thing for this morning. Giulio, two large White Ladies – not too much lemon, and make it snappy.”
— Philip MacDonald, Mystery of the Dead Police
March 22, 2022
First, before taking in all or even another word, don’t bypass the Killer Take Call Cocktail Talk Part I, to not only find out more about this pulp-tastic thrill and kill ride by James O. Causey (an author I didn’t know before reading this page-turner, but who I am excited to track down more from), but to also find a stitch more about (and be pointed to even more information about) the book that shares a spine with this in my version, The Deadly Pick-up by Milton K. Ozaki. That’s right, I myself picked up a double book book with both of these deadly delights! Which somewhat describes the bar below, too, where the narrator (who gets in a whole peck of trouble, and then more of the same, in the book) orders of all things a Pernod, not something found in too many pulp fictions.
The bar was a murk of red light and cigarette smoke. The erotic sob of invisible violins counterpointed hushed giggles from the booths. It was like a hall of mirrors, the garish light distorting expressions, accenting the slyness, the moist smiles, the shamed hunger.
The bartender drifted over, soundless as a snake. He looking like the doorman’s twin brother.
“Pernod,” I said.
He gave me a half-moon grin and moved down the bar. That order had branded me as one of the boys. I belonged.
–James O. Causey, Killer Take All
March 11, 2022
This is a cozy drink for a chilly March day! It reminds me, too (as I’ve been making it for a bit), of the dark days before Aperol was available in the U.S., and when the now-everywhere (a good thing!) stateside Spritz was just something Italian sipped. Doesn’t seem that long ago to me (I am very old) when I used to have to always bring two bottles of Aperol back in my suitcase when traveling back from lovely Italy, one for personal use and one for a pal. What changes have come since then (now I just have to fill my suitcase with grappa unavailable here)! Back to this here, drink. It mingles in a cuddly manner bountiful brandy with that Aperol I was going on about, with a tiny salute of simple syrup and a fresh orange for a tint of tang. It can be a bit sweet, like you, so if you want to take the simple to even tinier levels or out altogether, it’s okay. Things will still be cuddly.
Ti Penso Sempre, from Dark Spirits
1-1/2 ounces brandy
1 ounce Aperol
1/2 ounce simple syrup
Orange slices, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the brandy, Aperol, and simple syrup. Shake well.
2. Strain the mix into a cocktail glass and be glad your local liquor store shelves are well-stocked (one hopes, at least).
February 25, 2022
First, before any one gets any Coleridgean ideas or something, drinking this will not give you prophetic dreams (as far as I know, though I suppose as somebody said, there are more things in heaven and on earth and all that). However, it is pretty dreamy! And perhaps I can at least prophesize that if you like gin-y types of drinks (Martinis, say), you will most likely like this one! It stirs up a mighty tasty mélange of Kur gin (made right out here in WA, and one I’ve written about before: short story, it’s a classically-minded juniper-y London dry style gin with citrus and fruit accents), dry vermouth (hence the Martini mention), The Blood Orange’s Revenge homemade blood orange liqueur (which I talked about in a recent blood orange liqueur post, but which is to be clear, yummy), and old pal Scrappy’s Orange bitters, which brings it all together with trademark bright orangean-herb notations. What the future holds, who knows – unless you make this drink. Then the future will be you holding a delicious drink (and drinking it).
Prophecies and Dreams
2 ounces Kur gin
1 ounce The Blood Orange’s Revenge
1/2 ounce dry vermouth
1 dash Scrappy’s Orange bitters
1. Fill a mixing glass or cocktail shaker halfway full with cracked ice. Add all the dreams and prophecies (meaning, all the other ingredients). Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Drink while sleeping (no, no, that’s a joke!).
February 18, 2022
Blood oranges are strange (in a good way, like so many strange things). They can appear from the outside as many of their citrus siblings, from oranges to mandarins. But then, cut them open, and the blood (or blood-esque juiciness) starts flowing. Though, within that bloodiness, there can really be lots of variation in color, even if the darker rich ruby color is probably the main type (hehehe). At first, I was a bit freaked out by them, but now I love them and their sweet, tart, tangy flavor. They can make, as you might imagine, a memorable liqueur, like so many fruits. Years back when I was writing Luscious Liqueurs (a book renowned by at least my mother for its genius), I played around with blood orange liqueur ideas, and came up with the below, which I am still fond of – the hint of cloves adds a strange, and strangely nice to me, touch. So, when I ended up with a batch of blood oranges recently, I decided to revisit the recipe, and still was fond of it.
It’s a yummy winter’s treat, too (hitting hints of the season while reminding of summer).
The Blood Orange’s Revenge
4 blood oranges
1/4 teaspoon cloves
2 cups vodka
1-1/2 cups simple syrup
1. Peel the oranges and lemons, getting just the fruit rind and as little of the pith as possible. Place the peels in a large glass container that has a good lid.
2. Then remove the layer of pith from the flesh of two of the blood oranges (juice the final two oranges and the lemon for drinks or cooking). Cut each of the two un-pithed oranges into pieces, and add the pieces to the container. Stir slightly with a muddler or wooden spoon to smash up the oranges.
3. Add the vodka and cloves to the fruits. Stir a little more and seal. Place the container in a cool, dry spot away from the sun. Let sit for two weeks, swirling occasionally.
4. Once the two weeks have faded into the past, add the simple syrup to the container, stir well, and reseal. Let the mix sit two more weeks, swirling occasionally.
5. After the next two weeks have passed, strain the liquid through a fine mesh strainer, to filter out the larger orange parts. Be careful that you strain into a container big enough that no liqueur is lost.
6. Next, strain the liqueur through double sheets of cheesecloth into a pitcher or other container, one that easy to pour from.
7. Finally, strain the liqueur through two new sheets of cheesecloth into bottles or jars, or one larger bottle or jar.
A Note: Blood oranges, if you don’t know, are a member of the orange family whose flesh contains the pigment anthocyanin, which turns it a dark red color. Their taste is similar to oranges. You do not have to be a vampire to eat them.
January 28, 2022
Hey, no offense to January (I mean, it is the first month of the year, birthing, so to speak, a new time of new beginnings and fresh starts and resolute resolutions and all that, and it tends to start with a smooch, so it definitely has some pluses as a month, however . . .), but by the end of January I’m usually ready, well ready, for it to be over, and usually ready, well-and-truly ready, for some springtime springing. It just gets a little drab, our first month of the year. Maybe not everywhere in the globe! And maybe not for everyone!
But for me, I could use a dosage of spring snazziness in my step, and in my glass, right about this time every year – and, wonders of wonders, here is the Rosé Squirt, ready and waiting for me to take the first sip. It is not a combination of rosé wine and the carbonated soda Squirt (if you were thinking so, though an 18-year-old me might like that – heck, a currently-too-old-to-be-specific-about-dates me might like it too). It is a combination of nutty, dry maraschino liqueur (go with a good brand here – I’m using Luxardo Maraschino, which I’m fond of, and which has been made by the same family from Marasca cherries since 1821, and which boasts hints of chocolate, vanilla, and marmalade notes) rosé wine (the springtime-iest of wines perhaps), and bubbly club soda, with a good maraschino cherry (you couldn’t go wrong with Luxardo maraschino cherries here, too, pals, because they are wondrously delicious) as a final accompaniment. Combine those delights and you have spring in a glass (note: also works beautifully as a summer sipper): refreshing, budding with flavor, light-on-its-feet, lovely. Have one today, and know that actual springtime isn’t too far away.
The Rosé Squirt, from Wine Cocktails
1 ounce Luxardo Maraschino liqueur
3 ounce dry rosé wine
Chilled club soda
Luxardo maraschino cherry, for garnish
1. Fill a highball glass three-quarters full with ice cubes. Add the maraschino liqueur and rosé. Stir briefly.
2. Fill the glass almost to the top with chilled club soda. Stir again, a bit more than briefly. Drop a cherry on top and serve.