April 7, 2020
Only weeks in the past, I had a Cocktail Talk from the Robert Barnard story “Boxing Unclever,” which was featured in the awesome anthology The Big Book of Christmas Mysteries, which is both big as advertised (my version nearly 800 pages) and bouncing over with holiday cheer – meaning, murders, thievery, and the like, with authors ranging from 100s (or thereabouts) of years old to more modern fare. It’s a winter gem! This Cocktail Talk is in the older bracket, though not old in a pejorative sense! The story is by Damon Runyon, and, weirdly, I used to rent an apartment near where he was born in Manhattan, KS! He made his mark in the other Manhattan, where his writing on the glittering and tarnished made him famous. This story starts on a scrumptious holiday high note with the below quote, and then rolls its prohibition-y way from there, in a language and style right on time.
Now one time it comes on Christmas, and in fact it is the evening before Christmas, and I am in Good Time Charley Bernstein’s little speakeasy in West Forty-seventh Street, wishing Charley a Merry Christmas and having a few hot Tom and Jerrys with him.
This hot Tom and Jerry is an old time drink that is once used by one and all in this country to celebrate Christmas with, and in fact it is one so popular that many people think Christmas is invented only to furnish an excuse for hot Tom and Jerry, although of course this is by no means true.
–Damon Runyon, Dancing Dan’s Christmas
March 6, 2020
Can you feel it, deep in your bones? A wisp in the wind in your hair and/or behind your ears? A light peeking out from the dark clouds, peeking out as the wind and bones make their respective natures felt? What do I mean? Spring! Spring! Spring! Well, it’s not here yet, of course, but I can sense it, lurking with all its happiness. And lurking behind it, summer! But let us not get to far in front of ourselves. Sometimes, though, it is admittedly hard to wait, cause you want those sunny and then sunnier days to arrive like a speeding chicken into your days. You want the whole sunshine and flowers feeling in your hand now. And here we are with this drink, which has a whole spring and summer feel, refreshingly rolling like a spring river with rum, rum’s old spring break compadre Falernum, totally tubular Tuaca (which reminds us with its citrus-vanilla-y-ness of a blooming orchard), pineapple juice’s jingly-jam, and ginger ale’s bubbly dance beat. Wowza! Come aboard the sunshine train y’all.
The ASAP. from Dark Spirits
1-1/2 ounces dark rum
1/2 ounce Falernum
1/2 ounce Tuaca
1/2 ounce fresh pineapple juice
Chilled ginger ale
Lime slice for garnish
1. Fill a highball glass three-quarters full with ice cubes. Add the rum, Falernum, Tuaca, and pineapple juice. Stir, but only twice.
2. Top the glass off with ginger ale. Stir once more. Garnish with the lime slice.
January 17, 2020
Yes! Football is happening. Important professional football. Football, football, football! And, it’s nearing the time when football isn’t happening (oh, btw as the texters txt, here I am referring solely to USA-style football, and not the football played around everywhere else in the world. Though that kind of football is most-likely happening, too, in some form, which I admit, and if you are watching the original football, and want to have this delicious drink with a passel of pals, that would be amazing and you would be able to say “score!” loudly when drinking, too), so if you haven’t yet had your football punch yet this professional football season, well, rah-rah-rah-ers, now is the time for you to have it! With a team of friends – though perhaps not as big a team as a full professional football team, unless you can make multiple batches, that is, in which case, do that – cause this is a drink scaled for more than just one. And it’s so awfully tasty, that even if – and I do hope with every pigskin inch, whatever that means, that this isn’t the case – your team of choice isn’t playing anymore, having bowed out already in ignominy, you will still be able to smile after sipping. If not the first glass, at least the second. Let the football-ing and Football Punch-ing commence!
Football Punch, recipe from Dark Spirits
One 750-milliliter bottle dark rum
16 ounces apple juice
10 ounces sweet vermouth
5 ounces freshly squeezed lemon juice
5 ounces freshly squeezed orange juice
Two 25.4-ounce bottles chilled sparkling apple cider
2 apples, cored and sliced
1. Fill a large punch bowl halfway full with ice cubes. Add the rum, apple juice, vermouth, lemon juice, and orange juice. Stir with a pennant from your team of choice.
2. Add the sparkling apple cider, but in a sustained drive, not in a sprint (meaning, slow and steady wins this game), and the apple slices. Stir well. Serve in punch glasses, mugs, or little plastic footballs.
December 13, 2019
I was browsing the small-but-swell Standard Cocktail Guide from Crosby Gaige today, and read this, “In this year of 1944 it behooves the prudent mixer to know his rums. Good whiskey is now scarce and will be scarcer for some time to come while good rum is in plentiful supply.” First off: glad we have so many plentiful options of both rums and whiskey (and other delights) today! Secondly, it still behooves the prudent mixer to know and love rum. Thirdly, I found a delightful little recipe in this Rum section of this delightful little book, one I can’t remember if I’d made before, called The Frank Morgan. So, I wanted to make it again, even though I’m not sure which Frank Morgan it’s named after – though I think it’s the early 19th century actor. Let’s say that!
Anywho, the drink is deceptively simple: rum, sherry, Angostura bitters. But with that simplicity, the rum must be one – it behooves the drink – that really shines. Lucky for me, I recently received a bottle of Bacardi Gran Reserva Especial dark rum in the mail (don’t hate me, be happy for me!). Admittedly, this is a really fine, fine rum, and one that in most situations you’d want to sip solo. I mean, it’s a limited-edition number, aged a minimum of 16 years (!) in American white oak in the Caribbean. You’ll find stone fruits, caramel, a little island forest, and more unveiling as you sip, and an overall lushness that can’t be beat. So, sip solo for sure. But, you know me (right?), I had to try it in a cocktail, too, and this one is ideal, cause the rum really does shine, with just a few other players. Starting with the sherry side, where I went with Williams & Humbert Dry Sack Medium sherry, which has a nice nutty and spice notioning that matched well. Add old pal Angostura, and here we are. Well, almost! Though it’s not in the original recipe from the esteemed (from whatever afterlife bar he’s at) Mr. Gaige, I added a small orange twist. And that burst of citrus was a treat. Both he and Mr. Morgan would approve, I believe.
The Frank Morgan
2-1/4 ounces Bacardi Gran Reserva Especial dark rum
3/4 ounces Williams & Humbert Dry Sack Medium sherry
Dash Angostura bitters
Thin orange twist, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add all but the twist. Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with the twist. Sip, and think about 1944 – and about the bounties in your local liquor store.
October 25, 2019
Hey pals, Halloween is just around the corner of the calendar! It’s the eeriest (in the fun way) time of the year, and leads to lots of costume and generally spookily jolly parties, at which of course if the host or hostess is one with the mostess, they’ll have a cocktail or two that matches the holiday – in fun and in mood – a cocktail like this devilish delight. It starts with a classic cocktail mixer, Bacardí Superior white rum. Sometimes, sadly, in our modern world of many choices, people forget just how good this white rum is in cocktails – it’s light, dry, and flavorful with vanilla and nutty notes, without overwhelming. Yummy, really. And fun, as demonstrated by a special bottle they’re releasing for Halloween, one with a glow-in-the dark jack-o-lantern on it! I was ghoulishly lucky enough to receive one in the mail recently (don’t pull any tricks on me because of it), and I just had to come up with a cocktail featuring it: All the Devils is that cocktail!
To go along with the legendary and scarily garbed rum, I brought in a few other uncannily delightful additions, starting with one made right here in WA: Brovo’s Orange Curaçao, made from three types of dried orange peel, and carrying a layered orange-ness. Then, to deliver a hint of ghostly-good zing (it is a devilish drink), spicy Ancho Reyes ancho chile liqueur knocks at the door. And then, for some underling un-nerving (in the best way) herbal hints, Regan’s Orange bitters. Altogether, a cocktail that’s not scary at all – but one that is scary good for your Halloween-ing.
All the Devils
2-1/4 ounces Bacardi Superior rum
1/2 ounce Brovo Orange Curaçao
1/2 ounce Ancho Reyes
Dash Regan’s orange bitters
Lime 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 glass, and garnish with the twist. And a small skull or pumpkin if you want.
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.
May 14, 2019
The more I mulled it over, the more I realized that having just one quote from this Ian Fleming James Bond starring classic would be a mistake of mighty proportions (if you somehow manager to miss On Her Majesty’s Secret Service Part I
, as if you were skiing too fast and passed it right by, then please, go back and read that now). Especially because I find this second Cocktail Talk-ing so much fun in a silly kind of way. I mean, I like Daiquiris! I like Orange Blossoms! Sadly, there’s still a little of Bond’s backwards attitudes (as he sometimes has) today I feel, but that might be a conversation for another time. I don’t want to get us away from the below sipping.
Bond’s drink came and he was glad to find it strong. He took a long but discreet pull at it. He had noticed that the girls were drinking Colas and squashes with a sprinkling of feminine cocktails–Orange Blossoms, Daiquiris. Ruby was one of the ones with a Daiquiri. It was apparently OK to drink, but he would be careful to show a gentlemanly moderation.
–Ian Fleming, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
April 26, 2019
Thought the rain and clouds and more some are experiencing (some meaning even me) may make it hard to imagine, spring is springing into action, and palates are moving slowly or quickly (depending on how fast your palate moves) into more refreshing numbers here and there and otherwheres. Which means this drink’s title becomes more and more apt, because the drink is a tall refreshing number, but one which has an undercurrent of rummy goodness (which, I suppose, points to summer, too), so fits the transition into spring. If any of that makes sense, fantastic! But I haven’t even mentioned what may be the key to all of this: Sidetrack Distillery’s lovely Nocino green walnut liqueur. Deliciously made using walnuts from their own farm, this Italian-inspired treat adds an individual note here. It, the rum, and the cider all bring this together into a manner that – between us – is ideal for spring, but also fall, and for that matter, summer, and winter!
What the Doctor Ordered
2 ounces dark rum (I used Mount Gay)
1/2 ounce Sidetrack Nocino walnut liqueur
3 ounces Seattle Cider Company Semi-Sweet cider
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with cracked ice. Add the rum and Nocino. Stir well
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Top with the cider. Stir carefully and briefly. Enjoy the good health.