April 14, 2017
Vodka has gone from over-rated to under-rated. Due to an over-abundance of flavorless vodkas enjoyed more for their lack of character than taste, and then an over-abundance of drinks made with them during the dark days (like, the 80s and 90s) of drinking, vodka got a bad – if, perhaps, deserved – rap. But here’s the thing: there are plenty of good vodkas today, which bring flavor and personality to the party. I didn’t know, however, that one was made in Italy!
Until recently, that is, when I received a bottle of Purus organic vodka in the mail (I know, I know, lucky me). Made from Italian grain and water from the Italian Alps, up in northern Italy’s Piedmont region, it felt on first glance – no, on first hearing about it – that the vodka was made for me. Though admittedly I used to live in Central Italy, but hey, it’s ITALY! And it’s made by the Sacchetto family. Who I don’t know, but c’mon, they sound awesome – and they placed their vodka, certified GMP free and organic by the USDA, in a curvingly artistic bottle that’s lovely and recyclable, as is the bottle top.
So, with all that I say they’re an awesome family. Well, that and from this vodka, which not only sounds good, but is good. It’s clean and bright, with a lush slightly sweet essence mingled with notes of peach and plum and good grain and the Italian springtime. It’s that kind of tipple. If you don’t believe me, it’s won a bunch of awards, too, picked by famous people. It’s dandy solo, over an ice cube or two. I liked a twist of lemon with it, too, as it balances a bit. It’s also a willing and able contributor to cocktails, including this one, where I bring two other Italian favs, Strega and Aperol, into the mix, and a little lemon. I’ll probably have another drink up here with it before long, as well, so don’t be a stranger.
A Picturesque Procession
2 ounces Purus Organic Italian vodka
3/4 ounces Strega
1/2 ounce Aperol
1/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
Lemon twist, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add everything but the twist. Shake well in an Italian manner.
2. Strain through a fine strainer into a cocktail glass. Garnish with the twist. And a toast.
December 27, 2016
Just for fun recently, I re-read Charles Williams’ Man on a Leash. It might not have even been that long since I read it the first time – I know I had a Spiked Punch post about it not that long ago. Go read that so you can get some background. You back? Good. Anywho, decided to re-read it when in one of those Williams moods, and came across another quote, ideal for Cocktail Talk-ing. Check it out – bet you agree.
“No,” she said. “I’m glad you came; I wanted to talk to you. She led the way down the short vestibule into the living room. “Come on into the kitchen,” she said, “while I fix the drinks. It’s Carmelita’s day off.”
The kitchen was in front, on the opposite side of the living room, with a separate dining room in back of it. There was a door at the far end of it, probably to the garage. She opened the refrigerator for ice cubes. “Martini, vodka and tonic, Scotch?”
“Vodka and tonic would be fine,” he said.
She began assembling the drinks, the old ebullience and blatant sexiness subdued now, though the simple sheath she wore was still overpowered by the figure that nothing would ever quite restrain. Her legs were bare, as usual.
–Charles Williams, Man on a Leash
November 20, 2015
Sometimes, you can both help out and enjoy yourself – and this is one of those times! As we’re in the season for giving, I wanted to whip up a drink that in itself helped out a cause I believe is a good one, and Snow Leopards at Dawn is that drink. It starts with Snow Leopard vodka, which is the world’s first vodka made from Spelt grain, a rarer grain, and one grown without pesticides and such. Spelt (plus natural spring water) gives the vodka its taste, too, which is crisp, clear, and slightly nutty. All cool stuff! But even cooler is that 15% of all profits from the vodka are given directly to Snow Leopard conservation projects through the Snow Leopard Trust. That’s awesome! Snow Leopards are endangered, and can use the help. All of which leads to having the below cocktail. Drink up, help out. That’s a pretty darn swell combination.
Snow Leopards at Dawn
2 ounces Snow Leopard Vodka
1 ounce Pierre Ferrand dry orange curaçao
2 dashes Regan’s orange bitters
1/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the vodka, curaçao, bitters, and juice. Shake well.
2. Strain through a fine strainer into a cocktail glass. Drink up.
August 28, 2015
A late summer number if there ever was one – Behold, The River is refreshing, full of summer-y flavors without being near treacly, a nice color, and not too hard to make. If you’re actually having it alongside a river, well, you get bonus points for that! Not sure what the bonus points get you however, except a good time, and some undying gratitude from those you make the drink for, and my high esteem. Which may be worth something?
Behold, The River
1-3/4 ounces vodka
1 ounce Sidetrack Distillery blackberry liqueur
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
Four ounces chilled club soda
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the vodka, liqueur, and lemon juice. Shake well.
2. Fill a highball or comparable glass three-quarters up with ice cubes. Strain the mix through a fine strainer into the glass. Top with the soda. Stir carefully, but thoroughly.
A Note: Having trouble finding Sidetrack Distillery blackberry liqueur? Well, you may need to take a trip to Washington, oh intrepid one!
March 20, 2015
I tend to shy away from pre-flavored spirits. So many, especially in my early years (but even now, for sure) are flavored chemically, with nothing natural involved, and the taste reflects this attitude. It’s a shame, but hey, them’s the breaks. However, with today’s focus on better taste, and so many smaller distilleries who’d rather serve up delicious bottled items instead of just getting out as much as possible, well, there are some good flavored numbers starting to show up. Example A: Skiprock Distiller’s Badger Pocket black peppercorn vodka. I would expect Skiprock (a distillery from Snohomish, WA) to have a good flavored vodka, since their regular potato-based vodka is awfully tasty and uses potatoes grown right here in WA. They use whole peppercorns in the Badger Pocket, and the end result is a vodka that’s spicy, but not as sharp as you might expect – there’s actually a hint of sweetness in there, too. When using it in cocktails, this gives it more flexibility than you might expect. It makes a great Bloody Mary (as you’d guess), but also goes well with fruit liqueurs and a whole wide range of things. But, funny enough, when I was playing around with it, I ended up going a whole different route than originally planned, pairing it finally with the Italian aperitif Aperol (whose just-about-bitter-and-citrus-ness is a dream) and a little Scrappy’s orange bitters, ending with a drink that’d ideal when the sun is shining.
The Badger’s Feather
2 ounces Skiprock Badger Pocket vodka
1 ounce Aperol
1 dash Scrappy’s orange bitters
Lemon twist, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add the vodka, Aperol, and bitters. Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with the twist.
October 17, 2014
This is a drink from days of yore (which means, usually, with drinks, sometime in the late 1800s, early 1900s – this goes a bit on the front end) named after a beloved Russian ballet troupe that operated in Paris and sorta changed ballet and was also a fav of artist types. Also, one of the main female dancers was Tamara Karsavina, who I’m a bit fond of. What does that all mean for you, dear reader? Well, for one, now you know more about ballet, which may come in handy. Two, it means when you have a couple of these, you should plan on dancing around the room, probably in tights. Please send pics.
2 ounces Seattle Distilling Company vodka
1 ounce Sidetrack Distillery Cassis
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the vodka, cassis, and lime juice. Shake well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a small ballet shoe.
August 8, 2014
It’s wedding season, I do believe, evidenced by the lacy white outfits I keep seeing women wearing (usually accompanied by a bunch of other women in really oddly colored and shaped outfits – poor bridesmaids), and the number of gentlemen in tuxes with scared looks on their faces. Hah! I kid, I kid. I love weddings – they’re an especially nice kind of a party, a big ol’ celebration of two folks that hopefully are well-liked by everyone in attendance. In honor of the couples I know hitching it up this month (or right around this month), I’m going to whip up some Blushing Brides. These have to be made in batches of two, cause, well, I should think it’d be obvious.
The Blushing Bride, from Dark Spirits, Serves 2
12 fresh raspberries
6 lime wedges
4 ounces Cognac
2 ounces vodka
1 ounce Simple Syrup
1. Put the raspberries and 4 of the lime wedges into a cocktail shaker. Using a muddler, wooden spoon, or stiletto-heeled bridesmaid’s shoe, muddle well.
2. Fill the cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the Cognac, vodka, and simple syrup. Shake in a celebratory manner.
3. Strain the mix equally into two cocktail glasses through a fine strainer. Garnish each with a remaining lime wedge.
PS: I’ve seen drinks with this title that contain other ingredients. Avoid them. They are all awful
September 20, 2013
Sometimes, you (or I – though if this doesn’t happen to anyone else I’ll eat my hat) forget about a drink that you actually really like. There are so many drinks out there! Then you come back to it like an old friend after that first sip and think, why did I not drink this for so long? I recently had this moment with the Perseverance, which is a recipe featured in Wine Cocktails. It’s actually a nice end-of-summer-beginning-of-fall drink, so fit my mood as well. Tastiness.
1 ounce vodka (I think Rocket vodka is good)
2 ounces chilled Maryhill Rosé Sangiovese
1/2 ounce maraschino liqueur
2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the vodka, rosé, maraschino, and bitters. Shake well.
2. Strain the Perseverance equally into two cocktail glasses.