December 16, 2022
As the end of another year looms in front of us (along with the joyous and jolly holiday season), it reminds me that – I am old, hahaha! So old that I remember being in New York City, the biggest city in the world, make it there, etc., to teach a cocktail class or some such, and when I went into a bar, a good bar, and asked for a Negroni, they didn’t know how to make it. Now, you youngsters with your Negroni weeks and endless Negroni variations probably can’t believe it, but it’s true! The booze world of modern times is an oft-marvelous place, even though not all Negroni relatives are as marvelous, some are. And the Rosita is one of the top international Negroni, let’s call it a cousin. The usual modern-day Rosita recipe I believe goes back to the great, friendly, fantastic Gary Regan (sadly now shaking and sipping at that big ol’ bar in the sky), back to his Bartender’s Bible. The drink is – if you don’t know – a drink that combines tequila, both sweet and dry vermouths, Campari, and Angostura bitters. Delicious! Shades of the Negroni, changed up by tequila’s vegetal smoke and the dry vermouth’s lighter and bitter’s darker notes, holding on to the deep herbs and coloring of the Campari and sweet vermouth.
The other evening, I almost made that very drink, with some DE-NADA Reposado tequila (which had, lucky for me, shown up in the post recently). Almost! DE-NADA Reposado, beyond the all-caps, is crafted from 100% estate-grown blue agave in Jalisco by the fifth-generation Vivanco family distillers, aged in ex-bourbon American oak barrels for a minimum of four months, and ends up a swell, approachable, sipper, smooth, with peach and pineapple fruit notes mingling with almond and cinnamon, underlined by a caramel vanilla yumminess. In the same way as it’s Blanco sibling, it’s confirmed additive free, too (it’s part of the additive-free family – unlike a fair number of others), and certified Carbon Neutral. A good thing to make a drink with! Probably good to make a regular Rosita with, in the normal style. But I, I was feeling contrary, and decided it would be even better subbed for gin straight into my normal Negroni recipe (which is the classic 1:1:1). And, while I’m not saying it was better, it was certainly darn good! The tequila’s vanilla-nut-spice-fruit-ness gets to shine a touch more, and went wonderfully with the sweet vermouth as the only vermouth, while keeping the Campari at an equal level ensured that the sweetness didn’t take over. I also garnished with an orange slice, and that bit of fresh citrus, well, it was a treat I tell you. Try it before you get too old, and see if I’m right!
The Sweet Rosilita
1-1/2 ounces DE-NADA Reposado tequila
1-1/2 ounces Campari
1-1/2 ounces sweet vermouth
Orange slice, for garnish
1. Add the trio of liquids to a mixing glass. Stir well.
2. Fill an Old Fashioned or comparable glass three-quarters up with ice cubes. Strain the mix from 1 over the ice into the glass. Give a brief stir.
3. Garnish with the orange slice (be sure to squeeze over the glass and drop it in after you take the photo).
July 8, 2022
Here is something I learned recently: nearly 80% of the tequila brands sold in the U.S. have additives, things to add sweetening or alter coloring or change up the natural taste. I mean, I knew that additives like caramel for example have been used for, well, ever (or a long time) to change up certain aspects of whiskey or what-have-you, but for some reason never thought this extended in general to tequila. I mean, obviously (by taste alone) you can tell that chemicals are in certain boozes, including tequilas. But just didn’t realize the reach. Until recently, about the same time I was lucky enough to have a little DE-NADA tequila show up in the mail (lucky me!). A newer brand to me, DE-NADA tequilas are confirmed additive free – which means taste, coloring, everything, is coming from the natural ingredients in the tequilas, and the time-honored processes used to make real tequila. Neat! They make both blanco and reposado tequilas (both at a fifth-generation tequila distillery in Jalisco), and while the blanco is a treat – smooth and bright on the tongue, with some fruit notes, peach, grapefruit, and some herbal notes, anise, mint, a hint of pepper at the finish – when I was craving a Rosita, I went with the reposado.
The Rosita (you probably know this, being in the know, but just in case), is a relation in a way to the Negroni. Not, to me, a sibling, but at least a cousin. As well as a cousin to various other drinks served over ice that have spirit + vermouth + something else. The something else here is Campari, and hence the Negroni connection. Oh, though, there are both sweet and dry vermouths – that makes it a cousin only. And also extra bitters (which maybe means, second cousin). But it has a little of that memorable Campari-sweet-bitter-ness (which I love, so much), even though there is less here, allowing the tequila to shine. I feel to stand up to a party properly with the Campari and vermouths, that slightly deeper reposado is needed – and the DE-NADA Reposado shines in the drink. It’s, like the bianco, smooth, very smooth, but the flavor leans nuttier, with almonds and vanilla (okay, a bean, but nut-like), mingling with toasted oak and caramel, roasted agave, and hints of cinnamon, mellowing out buttery at the finish. Yummy! And goes really well with the vermouth, and the bitter-ing undertones. The Campari, too, which might seem an odd pairing at first, but trust me, the end result is lovely summer drink to savor.
1-1/2 ounce DE-NADA Reposado tequila
1/2 ounce Campari
1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
1/2 ounce dry vermouth
Dash Angostura bitters
Orange twist, for garnish
1. Fill a mixing glass or cocktail shaker halfway full with cracked ice. Add everything, except the ice cubes! Stir well.
2. Add some ice cubes – about halfway – to an Old Fashioned or comparable glass. Strain the mix from Step one over the cubes and into the glass. Garnish with the orange twist.
April 29, 2022
Does it feel like brunch season to you? It does to me! Spring when springing always sings out “brunching time is on” in my old ears for some reason. More sunshine, perhaps, or the blooming of things equates in my brain having pals over for meals that aren’t really breakfast, but aren’t yet lunch either. Bascially: brunch! Great idea, brunch, by the way. Not that I don’t like brunches throughout the year, between us, but brunching in spring is best. Perhaps because you can, after a long winter (for many), have said brunch outdoors again if you want? Perhaps because by spring the days are longer so you can work up more of a brunch appetite (lots of weeding to be done in the morning, too)? Who knows! But in honor of, let’s call it, brunch season – which of course demands more brunch drinks – here’s a new effervescent cocktail for you, the Good Morning Sunshine. I like my brunch drinks bubbly in the main, and a bit fruity, while still having a smooth kick to help ease you into afternoon napping! That little rubric leads to the ingredient list here: two kinds of juice (oj, pj), the citrus-ish lightly sweet beloved of the nation (currently) Aperol, Aperol’s tight pal Prosecco (bringing the bubbles), and then a bit of a brunch surpriser: tequila, which adds the underlying strength while also bringing a hint of smoke and vegetalness. Quite lovely I have to admit. Brunch lovely, even!
Good Morning Sunshine
1 ounce blanco tequila
1/2 ounce Aperol
1/2 ounce pineapple juice
1/2 ounce orange juice
4 ounces chilled Prosecco (see Note)
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add all but the Prosecco. Shake well.
2. Strain into a flute glass or comparable vessel. Top with the Prosecco. Brunch = on!
A Note: Could go five ounces here if you want and are feeling extra bubbly. Up to you.
December 10, 2021
Hey hey howdy-o holidays (the winter variety) are nearly upon us, and for reasons known only to the back part of my brain (and it ain’t talking) I tend to smoothly smooth my way into sweeter, creamier drinks about now. Well, maybe I can come up with some reasons. First, they tend to match all those Christmas-and-other-winter-holiday desserts perfectly. Second, on the creamy-side, these drinks often look like little winter-snow-wonderlands, at least those in dreams (and dreams are free, as the song says). Third, hmm, I get cold and drinking a lot of Alexanders and their brethren helps insult me. Does that work? The Silk Stocking definitely works as a holiday treat in the set up I’ve just set up. It’s an Alexander relation indeed, though slightly different. Well, one big difference: tequila instead of gin! That’s big. Then, the ratios in the recipe I use are slightly different than the classic Alexander’s (which is, of course, the king of dessert drinks), and I like them here cause that slightly smoky tequila-ness is allowed to shine, and allowed to mingle more firmly with the chocolate-y crème de cacao, while still having the cream to dress things up like a nice holiday suit (one snow white). A little cinnamon on top, and, delicious is unwrapped like a favorite present with each sip. Yummski.
The Silk Stocking
1-1/2 ounces tequila blanco
1-1/2 ounces crème de cacao
1 ounce heavy cream
Grated or ground cinnamon, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the three holiday liquid pals. Shake well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a dusting of cinnamon.
A Note: My guess is there are a few Silk Stocking cocktails around – it’s such a delightful and frisky name. But this particular lineup matches it best. In my humble opinion, as they say, of course.
April 13, 2021
I recently (finally!) picked up the sixth collection of Day Keene stories from the glory days of pulp magazines, a collection called Homicide House and Other Stories. Like past volumes, it’s a pulp-y gem of fast-paced, twists-and-turns, tough men and tougher women stories, many following the Keene trope of “how are they ever going to get out this predicament” style, but here – I think for the first time – we see a couple of stories that were later fleshed (hahaha) out into novels, perhaps when the mystery/pulp/action/detective realm took a turn from magazines into easily-tote-able paperbacks. One of those is the story “My Little Gypsy Cheat-heart,” which I’ve read and loved in a longer version, My Flesh is Sweet (read the My Flesh is Sweet Cocktail Talk why dontcha – actually, don’t miss all the Day Keene Cocktail Talks). In the latter, there’s a little more character development, a little more plot, a little more this and that, but that doesn’t mean the former wasn’t fun to read – it was! And neat to see how Mr. Keene built on it, as if the story was still in his mind after his first take. The story version of the story, if that makes sense, led me to wanting to highlight the below quote, too, which is an apt one as the story (and the novel) start with a murder in Mexico, before moving stateside for the murderous finale. It also has a lovely description of how one might feel the morning after too many.
The phone bell was loud and insistent. I sat up mouthing the cotton the tequila I’d put away had seeded and looked at my watch. It was five minutes to two.
“Ad Connors speaking,” I said into the phone.
“Come over to the Flamingo,” Elena begged. “Please. As fast as you can get here, Ad.”
— Day Keene, “My Little Gypsy Cheat-heart”
April 2, 2021
I must admit (or partially at least), I stole this title from Ed (the best poet in the world) Skoog. Or think I did, as I had his latest book Travelers Leaving for the City next to me when I was trying to come up with a title for a new drink I’d made, and so I picked up his book and randomly opened it up, and picked the first phrase I saw, but then my mind wandered, as it does, for a moment, and “Work By Lamplight” was what I remembered when fingers finally met keyboard.
And, you know what, it works well, as, though this tipple could be tipped earlier in the day, I feel it’s best later in the hours, after dinner. It can serve, in a way, as your after-dinner coffee and a dessert all in one glass. How, you ask? It starts with Tia Maria, a newly-designed bottle of which showed up neatly packaged on the porch recently (I know, I’m lucky!), and which reminded me of how it’s made with 100% Arabica coffee beans and Madagascar vanilla on a base of Jamaican rum, and in the popular cold brew method. That’s good, yes? Yes! It’s a touch sweet (but so am I), but the coffee-ness comes through smoothly and it melts on the tongue in a swell way. And coffee goes with more other bottled beauties than people give it credit for. Tequila, for example, which is the base for this cocktail, goes deliciously with coffee. In some ways, those two together in the right ratios might be okay all by their paired-ness, but we want better than okay, right? Right! So, in come two delights near-and-dear to all good drinker’s hearts. First up, Pierre Ferrand’s orange curaçao, which bring what you think of curaçao to another level in the same way this drink brings what you think of coffee cocktails to another level (if I may be so bold). And then, Scrappy’s Chocolate bitters, which utilizes organic toasted cacao nibs to add chocolate and herbal notes, without which the drink would feel ridiculously underdressed. And then, a mandarin orange twist, whose citrus oils cut the sweetness charmingly. Altogether, a layered number you’ll want to sip slowly as the evening turns. If you want to read poems while drinking, all the better.
Work By Lamplight
2 ounces silver tequila
3/4 ounces Tia Maria
1/2 ounce Pierre Ferrand orange curaçao
Dash Scrappy’s Chocolate bitters
Mandarin orange twist
1. Fill a mixing glass or cocktail shaker halfway full of cracked ice. Add all but the twist. Stir well, but be mellow about it, cause it’s the evening.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with the mandarin twist (if you only have a non-mandarin orange, that’s dandy, too).
January 10, 2020
It’s funny, in a curious way, because it’s January, and January is known as a bit of a cold-hearted month for a number of reasons; one, cause it’s cold! But, the curiously funny thing is, that for the second time in two weeks, I’m having not a winter warmer, but a light, refreshing, mix with ginger beer and ice cubes and sunshine (admittedly, chilly sunshine, but sunshine, pals, is sunshine). This devilish mix, though, is such an old favorite, and (perhaps more important? I’d say most important) my wife’s top drink, or at least top five, that it gets consumed at our house – or at nearby bars – year round. It’s a treat year round, too, as the tequila smoke and warmth play so perfectly with the ginger beer, and then that unexpected in a way, slight sweet fruity boop from the cassis and tangy tang of lime (or lemon, in a pinch, hence the “esque” in this this title, but, you know, needs must), all combining into a, well, treat! No matter what the day of the year.
One note: some folks (many?) shake the tequila, juice, and cassis first. That’s not my style. I’m not saying my style is better, oh no! But I do how I do. You do you. We all can still toast drinks.
The El Diablo-esque
1-1/2 ounces tequila (often, reposado, but I think blanco is nice, too)
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
3-1/2 ounces ginger beer
1/2 ounce crème de cassis
Lemon slice, for garnish
1. Fill a big-ish highball or comparable glass three-quarters full with ice cubes. Add the tequila, lemon juice, and ginger beer. Stir thoroughly, but no need to chase the devil in an over-rambunctious manner.
2. Carefully drizzle the cassis over-the-top of the mix (I tend to angle towards the edges, but that’s me, again). If you want, give it a brief stir. Garnish with the lemon. Go January, go!
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.