He had dined in town, and by the time that his chamber had been stripped of its appendages, he was nearly ready for bed. Before he did so, he was asked to take a glass of sherry.
‘Ah! sherry,’ said he, taking up the bottle and putting it down again. ‘Sherry, ah! yes; very good wine, I am sure. You haven’t a drop of rum in the house, have you?’
Mrs. Woodward declared with sorrow that she had not.
‘Or Hollands?’ said Uncle Bat. But the ladies of Surbiton Cottage were unsupplied also with Hollands.
‘Gin?’ suggested the captain, almost in despair.
Mrs. Woodward had no gin, but she could send out and get it; and the first evening of Captain Cuttwater’s visit saw Mrs. Woodward’s own parlour-maid standing at the bar of the Green Dragon, while two gills of spirits were being measured out for her.
— Anthony Trollope, The Three Clerks
Like you, some nights (not many, but say one or two or three a lifetime) I find myself just browsing The Calvert Party Encyclopedia (1960 edition). It is “Your complete guide to home entertaining,” after all. Not to mention being,“the party book that gives you the power to please.” Now that’s power! But all joshes aside, it’s a better version than many company sponsored books (and worse than some as well), with a bunch of drink recipes including their products, and some others not, and some food ideas, and general party ideas and tips, and bar set up stuff. Not a bad little browser. And when browsing, I came across the Up-to-Date – maybe again? Maybe I’ve seen it somewhere else? I was intrigued, no matter which or what, and decided to give it whirl. In the book/manual/novella, it’s made with Calvert Reserve, but to keep it really up-to-date, I decided to sub out the Calvert Reserve (sorry Calvert!), with the latest bit of WA-state deliciousness to show up at my house: Epic Sht Gin, from the fine folks at Cadée Distillery on Whidbey Island.
It’s not as big a switch as you might think – being that the Epic Sht Gin is of the barrel-aged gin variety, so shares a kinship with whiskey as you might imagine. It’s a nicely-layered number, with the botanical notes of the gin still there, but also notes of spice and wood and a little nuttiness from the barrel, with a vanilla undertone, too. It’s not easy to get outside of the distillery as of this writing (but the distillery is well worth visiting), but hopefully by the time you’re reading, it’ll be more available. Also, its particular character I thought would go well with sherry – and I was right! Me and the fine folks at Calvert, that is! Try the below and see if I’m right (tip: I am).
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add it all. Stir in a party manner.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Get up-to-date
I’ve had a handful of Allingham Campion Cocktail Talks here recently (I picked up a handful of Campion books recently, too, trying to catch up and see what I thought of them all at once). Tether’s End (aka Hide My Eyes, aka Ten Were Missing – lots of aka here) is one of my favorites, though also a tiny bit disappointing in that Campion actually isn’t in it a ton. But it’s still a fine yarn around a somewhat charming psychopath and various other intriguing characters, all happening within a short time period. But, best of all, is the below Cocktail Talking, because it’s fairly rare in my experience to come across the legendary Fernet-Branca in a mystery book (outside of Italian mysteries, I suppose). So, I was super excited to see it. Actually, I think I’m going to create a drink with said legendary liquid, and call it Tether’s End. It’s such a dandy drink name, and I’m sure Campion wouldn’t mind.
Again the childhood friends exchanged glances, and as Gerry went out of the back door nearest to the theatre the manager’s soothing voice reached him as it addressed Mr. Vick.
“If you’ve been on sherry since opening time, sir, I wonder if you’d like a change? What about a nice Fernet-Branca cocktail?”
— Tether’s End, Margery Allingham
Not too many weeks ago here on the Spiked Punch, I talked about making a swell drink with golden-hued Tio Pepe Fino sherry. That drink was the Gleanbriar, and if you missed it, well, go back and check it out. Neat, right? But sherry, being a lower-alcohol, not too heavy, really, the opposite of heavy, sort-of a ballet dancing booze in a way, is so nice in summertime that I wasn’t going to have just that one drink. Oh, no! My momma didn’t raise no fools. So, I’ve also been delving into other sherry drinks, including the easy-and-classic-y Sherry and Tonic. What a perfect summer fix. Have one today, trust me. Easy, tasty, summer-y, sherry.
1. Fill a highball, Old Fashioned, brandy snifter (I sorta like this idea), or other glass about half way (depending on glass) with ice cubes.
2. Add the sherry and tonic. Stir lightly, but seriously.
3. Garnish with the twisty twist.
Summer seems somehow a swell season for sherry drinks. Lighter, refreshing, sherry won’t weigh you down when the Mercury’s risen. And the Greenbrier (which isn’t the cocktail below, by the by) is one of a handful of elder sherry drinks, in that it shows up in a number of older classic cocktail tomes. It’s a fairly tasty mix, too, with dry vermouth, sherry (duh), and, interestingly, peach bitters, oh, and mint, too. Very summery, right? But for some reason I wanted to try a twist (probably because my dry vermouth and blanc vermouth bottles are right next to each other) on the formula, and changed the vermouth from dry to blanc. Super, duper, choice, if I can be so bold. A tiny bit brighter, and bit, oh, rounder in a way, due to the sweeter (but not sweet) nature of the blanc. Lovely. Do it.
Of course, before the super-duper-ing, you gotta pick the right sherry. I went with Tio Pepe Fino sherry (which, lucky me, arrived in the mail). Fino sherries are lowish in alcohol, light, crisp, and meant to be served cool and kept cool (and best to consume fairly soon after opening, like a light white wine). Tio Pepe’s version is made from the Palomino grape, and is nice and dry with a golden color and a little nutty-ness. It mingles here with the blanc vermouth as if they were cousins (hmm, I suppose they are, in a way), as well as playing nice with the bitters and mingling on the nose with the mint. A swell summer sipper indeed.
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add everything but the mint. Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with that mint.
In case it slipped by you like a ship in the night (for shame, for shame), my most recent Seattle magazine Bar Method article is about local bar Westward, bar manager Andy McClellan, and a cocktail of his, The Tale of Two Sherries – which uses two different kinds of sherry! It’s truly a fine mix, and one you should probably read about, right? So, check it out.
*See all Seattle magazine articles by me
First: no ducks are actually used in this drink. If you were worried. Second, it’s Friday the 13th, and you have enough to be worried about without worrying about ducks. I mean, it’s a day renowned for bad luck (especially if you’re camping) and all that. However, this drink is sure to balance out any bad luck, so I suggest you make one double quick.
Why is this particular drink lucky? I’m glad you asked. It starts with Château du Tariquet VS Classique Bas-Armagnac. Armagnac isn’t as well-known at the level it should be. Distilled once, but aged more than most spirits in barrels, it leans towards warm, full flavors, and is usually made by smaller, family-owned producers who’ve been Armagnac-ing for hundreds of years. Château du Tariquet VS Classique Bas-Armagnac is aged in oak for 3 years, and is lovely, with toffee and bread aromas followed up vanilla, oak, and more. It’s well worth sipping solo, but also makes a fairly magnificent base for cocktails.
Especially when added to just a few other key ingredients. Here, the first is Gonzalez Byass Tio Pepe Fino Sherry (Sherry, by the way, is another ingredient not enough think of for cocktails, though it’s thankfully on the rise). Delicate in color, this Sherry is made by one the preeminent Sherry-making families (they’ve been making fine Sherries since 1835) aged for four years, and is quite dry, but with a light almond aroma, and a nutty taste with just a few fruity hints. It’s also quite nice by itself, with food, but brings an individual note to drinks. And if those two charmers weren’t enough, enter old pal Green Chartreuse. Which also brings a very signature style and flavor to any drink. And a little umph.
All together (plus a tiny bit of simple syrup to round out the edged), this is one seriously swell drink. Rich, layered, elegant (in a way that only certain drinks can be), but still approachable. If you can swing it, change your lucky to the better by tracking down these ingredients and making this before the day ends.
2 ounces Château du Tariquet VS Classique Bas-Armagnac
1/2 ounce Gonzalez Byass Tio Pepe Fino Sherry
1/2 ounce Green Chartreuse
1/4 ounce simple syrup
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with cracked ice. Add the Armagnac, Sherry, Chartreuse, and simple syrup. Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Feel lucky.