August 16, 2019
While I like many distilleries from around the world, I like Washington State distilleries best-est. I’m a local-leaner at heart, which maybe isn’t a bad thing. It does mean that sometimes I have recipes on here that are all WA distillers, which could be frustrating if you don’t live here. But then think of this – WA is a great place to visit, and when you visit, you can then visit our wonderful distilleries, pick up the ingredients used here, and, well, enjoy a wonderful life and drink. Boom! I solved all the problems.
The Mighty M is vaguely – very – Manhattan-y, uses two ingredients that have “M” in their names, and is a drink my old pal Joel Meister might like, and that’s where the name comes from. But the drink is based on a spirit without an M, funny enough, Woodinville Whiskey Co. Straight bourbon. An award-winner, if you haven’t had this becoming-legendary bourbon yet, well, you need to make the above referenced trip more quickly! Cause it’s great, aged five years, made with only WA grain from one farm, with a spice, caramel, chocolate taste. And it goes amazing with our other two pals in play. First, a WA-amaro (Wamaro?) that I only became hip to recently, Highside Distillery Amaro Mele. Made on Bainbridge Island on a base of their gin, which itself has an apple-spirit base, using five bitter herbs and aromatics and aged up to six weeks in a used Bourbon barrel, it’s leans on the bitter side of the amaro world, with a smoky, herby, beautifully bracing taste. You might be starting to think this is one of those drinks that’s good, but solely strong, without a sweeter side. Enter, our third ingredient: Salish Sea Maple liqueur. The first maple liqueur I’ve ever had, this all organic number is velvety and like a better maple syrup (it would make for amazing pancakes). It adds those distinctive maple notes, pairs perfectly with the above two players, and brings just the right light kiss of sweet. Altogether, a mighty drink indeed.
The Mighty M
2 ounces Woodinville Whiskey Co. Straight bourbon
3/4-ounce Highside Distillery Amaro Mele
1/2-ounce Salish Sea Maple liqueur
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add all the mighties, all three. Stir well.
2. Strain the mix into a cocktail glass. If you’re feeling it, try garnishing with an orange peel. Then let me know how it is.
August 13, 2019
If you missed The Two-Penny Bar Part I
, be sure to catch up on your brandy – and reading – and for that matter, don’t miss a one of the many mighty Maigret Cocktail Talks
, cause they are full of boozy jolly-ness, and will point you to many a classic read by George Simenon. This book (as it says on the back) that goes into the “sleazy underbelly of respectable Parisian life,” is too good, too, for just one Cocktail Talk post, especially because this second one has the good Inspector Maigret a little over-indulged on one of his favorite tipples – but this book does center around a bar!
“What are you drinking?” he heard a voice ask. “A large Pernod?”
The very word was enough to remind him of the week gone by, the Sunday get-togethers of the Morsang crowd, the whole disagreeable case.
“A beer,” he replied.
“At this hour?”
The well-meaning waiter who had offered him the aperitif was taken aback at the force of Maigret’s response.
August 9, 2019
Whiskey (with “e” or not) sometimes – or often – gets short shrift in the summer months, when the temperature is as high as modern hemlines. And I can see the point, a little, as whiskey is deep, dark, strong, and not known as a light-stepper. However! I also feel sad for whiskey, and think that there are many ways to utilize it that get the flavor, and also bring the refresh. Take this drink right here, which is a fruity, friendly, thirst-quencher that you’d be happy to have in the backyard as the sun goes down on an August day – or ever around the pool, if that’s your summertime activity of choice.
It starts with a whiskey that was new to me until recently (when some lovely little bottles showed up at my house – I know, I know, I’m lucky), Tommyrotter Distillery’s Triple Barrel American Whiskey
. If you don’t know them already (and really, you should), Tommyrotter is a distillery from up in Buffalo NY, named after the Tommyrotters’ Club of early 20th century artist types, who (as the website told me), “sought adventure, mischief, and inspiration in nature.” I love that! That’s a good story for sure. Which wouldn’t mean as much if the whiskey wasn’t also good, naturally. A blend of three different whiskeys, which is then finished in French oak ex-wine barrels, this tipple is a very amiable and approachable spirit. It has a caramel and vanilla nature, accented by baking spice, apples (dried and fresh), and hints of herbs and other fruit – a little stone fruit here and there. The nose mirrors that taste, while the finish adds a bit more oak. Smooth! And well worth sipping solo.
But also, due to the approachability, dandy for mixing. Here, I brought in two fruit accents, both because I thought they’d match the whiskey well, and cause it seemed summer-y. To me, at least! First up, Rothman & Winter Orchard apricot liqueur
. A brandy-based liqueur, it boasts a rich, lush, tasty that doesn’t get overwhelmed by cloying sweetness like some. Peach bitters from everyone friends at Fee Brothers
rounds things out with its peach-forward-ness. Finally, some club soda (it is hot out, after all), a bunch of crushed ice I crushed myself (good exercise), and a sprig of mint from the garden. I’ve never really thought of mint, apricot, and peaches, but it’s a delight – when the whiskey is in place to make sure everyone plays nice.
My Final Offer
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with ice cubes. Add the whiskey, liqueur, and bitters. Stir well.
2. Fill a highball or comparable glass with crushed ice (or cracked if needs must). Strain the mix from above into the glass.
3. Top with the club soda. Garnish with the mint. Serve with a straw? I like it, but up to you.
August 2, 2019
Holy where-does-the-time-go! It was eleven years now that I wrote on this very blog (you can pat me on the back for my longevity later) about drinking Margaritas via a trolley in my backyard. ELEVEN YEARS! My mind is blown. And the trolley has fallen to ruin, and I haven’t had a Margarita since.
No, no, I kid, cause that would be insane. I’ve had a fair amount of this classic tequila charmer that’s known near and far and then near again. However! I hadn’t until sort-a recently had one made with wonderful WA distillery (sidenote: WA has the best distilleries in the world) Brovo Spirits wonderful Orange Curaçao. And I feel bad (though many weren’t bad) for the various me’s from history who drank their Margs without it, as this orange curaçao brings said classic drink up even another level when used as the crucial orange component, thanks to a trio of dried orange peels: sweet Californian, bitter Laranha from Curaçao itself, and legendary Seville from Spain. Those mingles with spices and Maui brown sugar on a base of neutrals: cane and grain. End result: rich and balanced orange action underpinned by just the right amount of spice. Try it in your next Margarita, but be warned. You’ll like it so much, you’ll want to make a giant jug of it.
The Margarita with Brovo Spirits Orange Curaçao
3 ounces tequila blanco
2 ounces Brovo Spirits Orange Curaçao
1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
Lime slice, for garnish
1. If making one, fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice cubes. Add the tequila, Brovo Spirits Orange Curaçao, and lime juice. Shake well.
2. Strain through a fine strainer into a cocktail glass. Garnish with the lime slice.
A Note: My Margaritas tend to be pretty and strong. Just as an FYI.
July 19, 2019
Recently, I was talking about bottles to buy dad for Father’s Day on the mighty and mighty fun New Day Northwest. It was great, as I got to highlight some fantastic spirits and liqueurs made right here in way-out Washington state. And, I also got to make a special cocktail for dad using a number of those bottles. But here’s the thing – the drink, which is called Thy Noble Father (from Hamlet, you know), is a dandy one for any time of year, any day, with Woodinville Whiskey straight bourbon, Brovo Spirits Orange Curacao, Seattle Distilling Company brandy, and Scrappy’s Black Lemon bitters. I’m not sure I can conjure many better quartets than that for you, if you’re the type of person who like cocktails layered with flavor, underlined by two base spirits, cocktails with lots of earthy and celestial citrus, along with spice notes, and a little friendly sweetness that isn’t overly sweet, just an echo. And, you can make it for dad whenever you want – it’s not like he doesn’t deserve a good drink multiple times a year, right?
Thy Noble Father
1-1/2 ounces Woodinville Whiskey Co. Straight Bourbon
3/4 ounce Brovo Spirits Orange Curaçao
1/2 ounce Seattle Distilling Company Brandy
Dash Scrappy’s Black Lemon Bitters
Wide orange twist, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add everything but the twist. Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail or coupe glass. Garnish with the twist. Toast all the dads!
July 2, 2019
Another from our series of Maigret Cocktail Talk
posts featuring famous stoic, tall, Parisian Inspector Maigret, created by the celebrated author Georges Simenon, who wrote said Inspector as one who is not shy about having a sip of something boozy here and there. Even when he’s in retirement and not an Inspector (well, really, he’ll always be the tops to his past police pals, and the world at large, which is how he gets involved in this particular post-police case, which a matriarch of a family brings him in to look over a supposed suicide — it’s a sort-of extra long story, which I read in the Maigret’s Christmas
collection) at all. Also, he still has some drinks. Including some kümmel with the landlady of a very down-in-the-mouth hotel he is staying at.
“I wouldn’t mind a glass of something,” he had said, sitting down or rather straddling a chair beside her. “What about you Madame Jeanne. What will you take?”
“Nothing, Monsieur. I’d better not drink. Everything upsets me.”
“A tiny drop of liquor?”
“Well, just to keep you company … some kümmel, then. Will you help yourself? The bottles are on the shelf. My legs are so terribly swollen this evening.
Kümmel was her tipple then. And he, too, had drunk kümmel out of politeness. It had left him still feeling queasy. He vowed never to touch a drop of kümmel again in his life.
— Georges Simenon, Maigret in Retirement
June 28, 2019
The north wind says, I bring a clear spirit with the breath of juniper and some cracked ice for chilling. The east wind says, I’ll bring a classically-style orange essence built on grapes and a nice glass. The west wind says, I’ll bring something with a hint of bitter and herb made in the mountains (or thereabouts) and a twist of orange. The south wind says I’ll bring a bit more bitter undercurrenting via a legend that needs no introducing, along with a long spoon for stirring. That’s all the winds, and now we have our drink for today.
1-1/2 ounces gin (I used nice reliable Bombay)
1 ounce Pierre Ferrand Orange curaçao
1/2 ounce Breckenridge Bitters
1 dash Angostura bitters
Orange twist, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add the gin, curaçao, Breckenridge bitters, and Angostura bitters. Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with the orange twist. Drink four times, once looking each direction.
June 21, 2019
Hey sunshine daydreamers! Guess what today is? That’s right beach beauties, it’s the first day of summer, and you know what that means? Smear on the sunscreen and take off your sweaters, slip on your sunglasses and slip into some short shorts (or whatever your hot weather wear of choice), and start enjoying the rising mercury and retreating clouds and cold. All of that, plus make this this drink, which slides you straight into summer, while remembering that winter, like all seasons, isn’t gone for long. How does it do that? Well, the rum is a summer standby, of course, but dark rum can really play year round, and its pal here, Bénédictine, has that rich herbal monastic thing going on that keeps one warm when the temperature is chillier, but also fits into a number of sun-tastic tiki type drinks. See where we’re going? The final player: Crabbies ginger beer, superficially Orange Spiced variety, but if you can’t find it, go with the regular variety. Ginger beer is of course a refreshing refresher, but the orange spice, well, that’s winter time. Really, though, forget my shoehorning – this is a nice one to sip as the seasons change.
The Happy Crab
1-1/2 ounce dark rum
1/2 ounce Bénédictine
5 ounces Crabbies Orange Spiced ginger beer
1. Fill a big highball or comparable glass about halfway full with ice cubes. Add the dark rum and Benedictine. Stir briefly.
2. Add the Crabbies. Stir to combine. Face the sun with a smile.