August 17, 2018

What I’m Drinking: Brightly Rouged Cheeks

It was long ago – just last week! – when I had a drink here on the Spiked Punch featuring Louis Raison French Cidre, or cider, made in France, by the Raison family who’ve been making such since 1923. That drink was called The Puget Seine (being a drink that used ingredients from hither and yon), and if you missed it, go back in time and drink it up.

It was so good, that I wanted to try another cider cocktail (or cidre cocktail) right after, going in a different direction, to see where I might land. And I landed with Brightly Rouged Cheeks! What, I hear you ask, is that? Not a cosmetic, I assure you. But a completely different cider drink, one’s that’s also swell for August, using some summer favorites, including mezcal. That’s right, mezcal and apples, and you know what – delicious! This time, I used Louis Raison’s Rouge Delice cidre, made from bittersweet and Rouge Delice apples (you may have guessed the latter). It’s a stitch redder in color (you may have guessed that, too), with a floral, apple, plum flavor, a hint sweeter than other Louis Raisons, but not sickly sweet like some “ciders” out there.

I decided a splash of zing and heat might be nice (sometimes, spiciness in a hot way mingles memorably with the high mercury days of summer), so brought the world’s finest ancho chile liqueur – perhaps the only, but oh so great, and such a favorite of mine – into our party, Ancho Reyes. Everything was going well, but the drink needed something more. Voila! Bitters. And is so often the case. The time, it was The Bitter Housewife Aromatic bitters, whose cherry, ginger, spice, bitter nature brought the needed flush. A wedge of lime, and we’re all set for a sunshine day.

brightly-rouged-cheekBrightly Rouged Cheeks

Cracked ice
2 ounces Montelobos Mezcal Jovan
1/2 ounce Ancho Reyes ancho chile liqueur
Dash Bitter Housewife Aromatic bitters
Big ice cube
3 ounces Louis Raison Rouge Delice cidre
Lime wedge

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with cracked ice. Add the mezcal, Ancho Reyes, and bitters. Stir well.

2. Add a big ice cubes (or a few pretty big ice cubes) to an Old Fashioned or comparable glass. Strain the mix from above into the glass.

3. Top with the cidre. Stir to combine. Squeeze the lime wedge above the drink and drop it in. And start sipping.

PS: Want to learn a bit more about Montelobos Mezcal Jovan, check out the Fire on Popocatépetl cocktail, which is, if I can say it, amazing.

August 10, 2018

What I’m Drinking: The Puget Seine

The middle-to-beginning edge of August is a hot spot in many parts of the world – Seattle, my part at the moment, for example, is heated this time of year, though the temperatures might not seem so high to some, to me, they demand a refreshing tall drink with lots of ice. A cold cider cocktail, for example, isn’t a bad thing this time of year – actually, it’s a good thing! And, what luck, I just received some cidre in the mail. What’s that you say? I’m spelling wrongly? Well, friend, that’s just not true, because specifically I received some Louis Raison cidre – the cider master who popularized cider (French cidre) across France, the stories say.

In this cocktail, I use Original Crisp Louis Raison cidre, which is made from 100% French bittersweet apples. It’s a brightly-flavored, crisp, cider, with a fruity-but-not-to-sweet nature, and little honey and nuts on the nose, and an apple-y, woodsy, taste. I always like apples and ginger as a combo, so the first ingredient I decided to try with this cidre was Salish Sea’s Ginger liqueur. Made up this-a-way with all-organic ingredients, Salish Sea liqueurs are amazing, known for their creative and pure flavors, and the Ginger has the hottest (in a good spice way) and freshest ginger-y taste I’ve had in a liqueur. If you can’t make the trip up to WA to get some, then, well, I feel sad for you – it’s summer, take a vacation! You could try another ginger liqueur here. You won’t get the same ginger umph, but needs must – and use a little less, because most are sweeter than the Salish Sea.

But those two ingredients were just the beginning – or, the first two-thirds. I wanted a solid base (spirit, that is) as well, and after trying this and that, I came back to where I should have started, it being summer and all: rum. Specifically Flor de Caña Añejo Oro, a four-year-old gold-medal-winning amber rum with a lush, vanilla, nuttiness that teamed up like a summer dream with our other two champs. Altogether, our globe-trotting cider cocktail has fresh taste underlined by all sorts of spice currents. It’s ideal for August – or, really, anytime.

puget-seineThe Puget Seine

Cracked ice
1-1/2 ounces Flor de Caña Añejo Oro rum
3/4 ounce Salish Sea Ginger liqueur
Ice cubes
4 ounces Louis Raison Original Crisp cidre

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with cracked ice. Add the rum and ginger liqueur. Stir.

2. Fill a highball or comparable glass three-quarters full with ice cubes. Strain the mix from Step 1 into the glass.

3. Top with the cidre, and stir to combine. Drink up!

August 3, 2018

What I’m Drinking: The Americano

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!

americanoThe Americano (using the recipe from Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz)

Ice cubes
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.

July 27, 2018

What I’m Drinking: Requiem for Summer with Cadée Medusa and Sidetrack Blackberry

Okay, don’t be upset with me, but this drink contains an ingredient that is not only made in Washington state (so, un-local for some – though, really, come on out here, where the whiskey is fine), but may not even be on the market completely in Washington state yet. See, I received a bit of an advanced sample – again, don’t be upset with me. I can’t help the luck! That ingredient is Medusa!

And, because I liked this Medusa, an American whiskey from the Cadée distillery out this way on Whidbey Island, so much I just had to make a drink with it. A straight bourbon whiskey that’s been matured in 10-year-old Spanish Madeira wine barrels, Medusa, unlike the creature it’s named after, it won’t turn you to stone, though you may be struck by happiness for a moment when you take sips, thanks to its gentle nutty caramelly sweetness, and some intriguing emerging red stone fruit layers (ripe cherries, especially).

With the latter notes in mind, my first partner for it was another lovely local product that also is fruity (in the best way), Sidetrack Blackberry liqueur. Sidetrack grows all the fruit used in their liqueurs and other products on the sweetest farm you’d ever want to see, right outside of Kent Washington, and their Blackberry is the essence of summer. Well, one of them, because I also added muddled up Rainer cherries (the essence of early summer) here two. So much summer! And then, to round things out, a little Peychaud’s bitters. All together, a treat whether the sun is bright or has gone down. It might be hard to track all the ingredients for some, but trust me, it’ll be well worth it.

requiem-for-summer
Requiem for Summer

4 Rainer cherries (could use another variety, but these are the tops), pitted
Ice cubes
2 ounces Cadée Medusa American whiskey
3/4 ounces Sidetrack Blackberry liqueur
Dash Peychaud’s bitters
Big ice cube (or a few not-so-big)

1. Add the cherries to a cocktail shaker. Muddle well.

2. Fill the shaker up halfway with ice cubes. Add everything liquid. Shake well.

3. Add a goodly-sized ice cube to an Old Fashioned or comparable glass. Strain the mix through a fine strainer into the same glass. Revel in the revelry.

July 20, 2018

What I’m Drinking: The Foppa

Sometimes, I like to throw ol’ summer a curve ball. Summer, sitting there all hot and sunny and thinking, “I know all the drinks A.J. might make – he’s got nothing on me.” Well, summer, old sweaty pal, let me introduce you to the Foppa, a summer drink (I think it works as one, at least) that uses, you’ll never guess what. C’mon summer, guess! Ah, you’ll never get it – it uses Scotch! Really, and amaretto, and dry vermouth – that sounds like a serious, un-summer cocktail, right? But then, boom, ginger ale, a bunch of ice, and we have ourselves a summer cocktail with Scotch. I guess even summer can learn some new tricks. And you can, too!

foppa

The Foppa (from Dark Spirits)

Ice Cubes
1-1/2 ounces Scotch
1/2 ounce Disaronno amaretto
1/2 ounce dry vermouth
Chilled ginger ale

1. Fill a highball glass three-quarters full with ice cubes. Add the Scotch, amaretto, and vermouth. Stir with a long spoon.

2. Top the glass off with ginger ale. Stir again.

July 13, 2018

What I’m Drinking: Such Animals of Summer

Why, just last week, here on the Spiked Punch blog, I had a delicious summer drink (if I can say that humbly) called Pina’s Potion, which used Les Dauphins Côtes du Rhône Réserve rosé – a bottle of which had shown up via the post. If you haven’t checked that recipe out, you’re in for a treat! Go read about rose cocktail Pina’s Potion now, to learn a bit more about Les Dauphins Côtes du Rhône Réserve rosé and to make your summer better.

Back? Yay! Well, I liked this rosé so much, that I wanted to go down another road with it, because the flavor profile gives lots of avenues one could travel, all different, like every animal is different. To prove this furry point, I give you another rosé cocktail, called Such Animals of Summer. A slightly different (as mentioned) mix, it mingles our rose with another summertime treat, Washington state-based Sidetrack Distillery’s Strawberry Liqueur (they grow the strawberries right on their farm! dreamy), and another French friend for our French rosé, Dolin’s Blanc vermouth, a refreshing, citrusy, teensily sweet number. All together a light, flavorful, cocktail that’s ideal as the summer night approaches.

sunch-animals-of-summerSuch Animals of Summer

Cracked ice
2 ounces Les Dauphins Côtes du Rhône Réserve rosé
3/4 ounce Sidetrack Strawberry liqueur
1/2 Dolin Blanc vermouth

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

2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Enjoy the moment.

July 6, 2018

What I’m Drinking: Pina’s Potion

Rosé (the wine, to be clear) is now a celebrated part of many people’s summers. With good reason, due to its light, easy-going-but-flavorful natures (in most situations, that is). Actually, it’s connected so closely with summer, it’s almost a cliché – but what a tasty cliché! However, rosé cocktails aren’t so en vogue, which is a shame, because with the right rosé, you can make a layered, lovely, drink that also fits summer like a well-made bathing suit. I recently received a bottle (I know, lucky!) of Les Dauphins Côtes du Rhône Réserve rosé to prove this theory (well, is it a theory, if I’ve already proved it? I guess now it’s a rule? A law? Something along those lines, but I don’t want to get too sidetracked). A subtle glowing pink color, this rosé has the wine’s refreshing characteristics and an approachable crispness, with attractive fruits notes on the nose and tongue – both citrus and strawberries and more.

It’s worthy when the sun’s out all on its own, but also a perfect plaything when mixed with others. In this case, those others began with Sipsmith London Dry gin, a classic dry gin with just the right juniper surrounded by botanicals and citrus. Then, thinking of our rosé French history, I decided on another French favorite, Pineau Francois white pineau, an aperitif that has a grape-and-hints-of-orange-citrus delightfulness. With that trio in place, the drink was solidly sippable, but not to the heights I wanted. So, I brought in a fourth player, Scrappy’s unbelievable Black Lemon bitters (if you don’t know Scrappy’s read all about Scrappy’s), which brought an earth lemon-ness that rounded everything off. All together – yummy, and a hit for any summer party.

pinas-potionPina’s Potion

Cracked ice
1-1/2 ounces Sipsmith London Dry Gin
3/4 ounces Pineau Francois white pineau
2 dashes Scrappy’s Black Lemon bitters
3 ounces chilled Les Dauphins Côtes du Rhône Réserve rosé

1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass hallway full with cracked ice. Add the gin, pineau, and bitters. Stir well.

2. Strain the above into a white wine glass. Add the rosé. Stir, gently, to combine.

June 29, 2018

What I’m Drinking: What I’m Drinking: The Sicilian Sling

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.”

sicilian-slingThe Sicilian Sling

Ice cubes
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.

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