June 7, 2024

What I’m Drinking: A Smoky House

Here’s a nice smoky, citrusy, smoothy, pepper-y number that’s ideal for the Junes, the time we’re residing within as I drink this. It all came about thusly: for reasons unknown (outside of me getting old, maybe having two many bottles around, those two things, or maybe it was alien interference in the atmosphere, which can be quite a problem on clear early-nearly-summer evenings), I forgot for a moment that I had a three-quarters full bottle of Ancho Reyes, the delectable ancho chile liqueur based on a recipe from way back in 1927, a liqueur delivering a hint of smoke and heat alongside a balanced spice array, cinnamon, cocoa, tamarind, and a little nuttiness. Amazing stuff. So, when I discovered this bottle I’d misplaced in my mind for a short time (very short, compared to the universe’s bdays), I knew I needed to make a drink with it immediately. I first thought “tequila!” as one does, but then my hand when removing the Ancho Reyes brushed again a bottle of Peruvian Pisco, the grape-based brandy beloved in certain South American spots (and by me in Seattle). I felt it’d go grandly in my proposed drink. Then I played around a bit, and ended up desiring some orange-y notes. Voila! I grabbed Brovo’s Orange Curaçao, crafted with care up here in the WA via three types of dried orange peel. It’s a treat of orange mysticism that also brings a smidge of sweet (Brovo’s Orange Curaçao and Ancho Reyes go so well together they both feature in a drink called the All the Devils cocktail). However! Even though these three stalwarts made a swell sipper themselves, I wanted to take it up to another level entirely, and felt some fresh citrus notes, nothing overwhelming, might do it. And, I was right (I say, modestly). A small amount of fresh oj, with it’s bright notes and vitamin C, did the trick. And there you have, a drink destined to make your June jolly.

A Smoky House cocktail

A Smoky House

Ice cubes

1-3/4 ounces Bar Sol Pisco

3/4 ounces Ancho Reyes ancho liqueur

1/2 ounce Brovo Orange Curaçao

1/4 ounce freshly-squeezed orange juice

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add it all! Shake well.

2. Strain the mix through a fine strainer into a cocktail glass or wine glass or goblet or whatever suits you. We’re not gonna glass shame here, friends.

May 31, 2024

What I’m Drinking: The Summertivo

It is, according to my calendar, the last day of May. Which means tomorrow (for those who are calendarly challenged) is the first day of June. And while the first day of June isn’t the official start of summer, it is the official (I’m making this up as I type btw) first day of Planning for Summer Drinking season. Though perhaps that should be like April. But let’s make it June 1! I’m all for it, and with that in place now and carved into stone like commandments or famous last words, let me present to you a drink for your summer, the Summertivo.

You may be able to guess that this is specifically a summer pre-dinner drink, a warm weather aperitivo as it may be. And it is! But it is also a drink that you can have with summertime brunches or breakfasts, in the mid-afternoon when you need something just a smidge stronger than tea, or after dinner, when the summer romances are blooming and you don’t want to be weighed down by your sipping. It starts with Galliano L’Aperitivo, lovely drink solo, or mixed as it is here. It’s bitter, but not too bitter, made from a host of delicious ingredients, starting with regular oranges, bergamot oranges, and bitter oranges, as well as citrus pals chinotto, tangerines, and grapefruits, and then spices such as anise, juniper, cardamom, sandalwood, sage, lavender, peppermint, cinnamon, and vanilla, with a bit of the regular (delicious, also) Galliano, too. Altogether, it delivers this fresh, citrusy, herbally, taste, very flavorful, very balanced. And very perfect with Italian sparkling wine prosecco, which is our second ingredient here. The third is a simple lemon twist, to add a hint of high-end tang. As with all good summer drinks, no sweat to make, too. One note: you might try a dash of Scrappy’s legendary Black Lemon Bitters in here. I don’t have it listed below, but it’s worth a gander. Call it Summertivo 2.0 to be all modern.

The Summertivo cocktail
The Summertivo cocktail

The Summertivo

3/4 ounce Galliano L’Aperitivo

4 ounces chilled Mionetto Prosecco DOC Treviso brut

Lemon twist, for garnish

Ice cube, if wanted

1. Add the L’Aperitivo to a flute or comparable glass. Top with the prosecco.

2. Carefully stir in a manner that brings everything together without being wacky. If your prosecco isn’t really chilled, or if it’s hot out, add an ice cube.

3. Garnish with the twist. Give a toast to the sun, and to Italy.

May 24, 2024

What I’m Drinking: The Bruja Smash

Warning: fake nearly swearing heading your way! This delight (ideal for the here and now and for the upcoming sunny days that you’ll hopefully be enjoying with pals or by yourself or with your dog to the fullest) was created by Seattle (and the world) legend, the mthrfcking baron of booze, Andrew Bohrer. I can’t recall when said sloshed sensi created it, but he let me put it into the mthrfcking Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz, thereby making that book like a billion times better times a billion times. That’s mthrfcking right. The Bruja Smash is not only the Hulk himself’s favorite all-time drink (and he knows drinks, mthrfckers), but also is highlighted by Italian saffron, mint, and more goodness containing golden-hued liqueur Strega, which is mingled with tequila and a whole bunch of mthrfcking fruity goodness. Perfectly balanced, of course, cause Andrew is a genius. And he currently slings drinks most Sundays at The Doctor’s Office, which is a, dare I say it, mthrfcking awesome spot.

The Bruja Smash

The Bruja Smash

Crushed ice

7 fresh mint leaves

7 fresh raspberries

1½ ounces white tequila

1 ounce Strega

½ ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 mint sprig, for garnish

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with crushed ice. Add the mint leaves, raspberries, tequila, Strega, and lemon juice. Shake really well.

2. Dump the contents of the shaker (no straining here) into a large tulip-style beer glass or other good-sized pretty vessel.

May 10, 2024

What I’m Drinking: The Whizz Bang

You might think a drink with this particular name would be more suited for a specific day in July (the fourth, that is), when whizz-bangers are going off in most US neighborhoods, and, between us, you’d be forgiven for thinking this, as I’ve made Whizz Bang cocktails on that very day in the past. However! I also think that mom’s need to have a hearty cocktail on Mother’s Day, and that mom’s can be firecrackers, too, in their own ways, and go whizzing around doing all that they do. Which means, as Mother’s Day is in two days, I believe it’s completely appropriate to be having this now and then. The drink’s lovely combination of bourbon (I’m going Woodinville Whiskey Company’s Straight bourbon, cause moms deserve the best!) and its sweet bourbon-ness with dry vermouth’s high-tone herbals, and with hints of Pernod’s sharper anise action, and with grenadine’s sweet tang (if you don’t make your own grenadine, you’re really not being fair to the moms), and with the deep herbal underpinnings of Scrappy’s classic Orange bitters, all of that together all being the lovely combination alluded to at the beginning of this sentence, this combination is sure to charm moms, and you, too, even if having it for no holiday at all, just cause it tastes awesomely awesome.

The Whizz Bang Cocktail

The Whizz Bang

Ice cubes

1-1/2 ounces Woodinville Whiskey Co. bourbon

3/4 ounce dry vermouth

1/4 ounce Pernod

1/4 ounce homemade grenadine (recipe at the end of the As Luck Would Have it cocktail recipe)

2 dashes Scrappy’s Orange bitters

 1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the bourbon, vermouth, Pernod, grenadine, and orange bitters. Shake well.

2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Present it to mom (or drink it yourself if mom isn’t available).

April 26, 2024

What I’m Drinking: Brovo Pretty Vermouth and Tonic

Hey, guess what? It’s the heart of spring (more-or-less), which means the sun is coming out more regularly (hopefully, at least, but hopefully also not so much as to make us enjoy it less), and also that summer is about to rear its sunshiny head, which then means that you and me and all (who are consumers of drinks utilizing booze) need to start to think about refreshing drinks that don’t make you sweat to make them, which are easier to make then this very long sentence. One perfect solution here: XX and tonic. The XX is not a warning, but generic so-as to remind that many things go well with tonic, and end up delicious. Gin, naturally. But many other liquids, too, including other base spirits (rum and tonic: yummy), aperitif-y things (Lillet and tonic: yummy), and one of my favorite “and tonic” things: vermouth. With the right vermouth and tonic, you have an easy to make, wonderful to drink combo. To ensure I have the right vermouth, today I’m reaching for WA-state-made Brovo Pretty vermouth. A blanc vermouth based on Pinot Gris, it has a balanced and beautiful fragrance and taste, backed by hints of spice, vanilla, lemon, and floral notes, it makes a swell partner with tonic. As I had a bottle at hand (and as it’s one of the best of the bottled varieties), I’m going with Fever Tree tonic. I am sadly out – I need to go to the store! – of my local WA tonic syrups cause they would be great, too.

Brovo Pretty Blanc vermouth and tonic

Brovo Pretty Vermouth and Tonic

Ice cubes

1-1/2 ounces Brovo Pretty Blanc Vermouth

3-1/2 ounces Fever Tree tonic

Lemon slice, for garnish

1. Fill a highball or comparable glass three-quarters up with ice. Add the vermouth. Then the tonic. Still briefly.

2. Garnish with the lemon slice. Oh, and add more tonic as/if desired.

April 12, 2024

What I’m Drinking: The R56 Sparkler

Hello springtime! Hello sunshine! Hello flowers (sadly, hello allergies, too)! Hello brunches! Which isn’t to say you can’t have brunches and/or late lunches where you feel like it’s brunch even though it’s 1:30 (or 13:30 if on a 24-hour clock system) any time of the year, but somehow spring sunny days seem ideal for brunching. And for brunch drinks! Of which there are many, or many plus one, as I’m adding this here drink the R56 Sparkler to the list, as I made it specially for a brunching/late weekend lunching situation, one in which I needed a specially special drink as said brunch was a birthday occasion, too, and birthday occasions demand special drinks (the birthday-er in question’s name starts with R and I’ll give you a guess what birthday it was). Demand them!

But how to have it be special? Well, for me, I started with Brovo’s new-ish American Aperitivo, a made-in-Washington treat that combins a host of delights – hibiscus, bilberry, Schisandra berry, grapefruit, lemon, orange, and Gentian root – into one flavorful, but light and bright and friendly, sipper, one that’s balanced, accessible, and still has a cheeky quick bittery kiss at the end of a sip. It seems they designed it to pair with tequila, but here I’ve let it shine without a base spirit. But with a few partners! First, Salish Sea’s Ginger liqueur. For some really sad and tragic reasons, it can be hard to find (though I think it is still out there — grab any you see). I’ve kept a couple bottles in reserve for special occasions because it’s the best ginger liqueur I’ve had. Luckily, there are other good ones you can sub in, because the hint of ginger goes swell here. As does Scrappy’s amazing Black Lemon bitters. The finest – or most intriguing? – cocktail bitters being made currently? Perhaps! To those three freakishly good friends, I also added some fresh orange juice (one of the standards in brunch drinks), and a little soda to bring it all together. The end result is a seriously sippable number, one whose citrus and spice notes pair perfectly with brunching – and with birthdays!

The R56 Sparkler, a drink with American Aperitivo, Black Lemon bitters, ginger liqueur, oj, and soda

The R56 Sparkler

2 ounces Brovo American Aperitivo

3/4 ounces Salish Sea Ginger liqueur

1 dash Scrappy’s Black Lemon bitters

2 ounces freshly-squeezed orange juice

Ice cubes

3 ounces chilled club soda

1. Add the first four liquids lovelies to a mixing glass or cocktail shaker. Stir well.

2. Fill a highball or comparable glass three quarters full with ice cubes. Strain the mix from Step 1 through a fine strainer into the glass. Top with the soda, stir carefully to mix, enjoy!

April 5, 2024

What I’m Drinking: How Does Your Garden Grow

I believe there are people, industrious, good people, who garden well all year round, and have yards and gardens in much better shape than mine. For me, the gardening starts soon, usually late April/early May. And even then, to be honest (as we are here), I’m not a stupendous gardener, and find myself putting it off more than putting on the gloves to get everything in order. However! I have found that one of these here drinks helps make the gardening more palatable. Pull a weed, take a sip! You should try it. One warning: this here cocktail, when you look at it, sounds an odd pairing, like putting nightshade next to your pea patch. But the three ingredients actually go swell together! There’s gin, to start, and I’m using Copperworks stellar gin here. And then Sidetrack Distillery’s one-of-a-kind Shiso liqueur, made from the Asian herb it’s named after, and delivering an herby, botanical beauty one must taste to believe. Then, and this is the odd side, as you might thing the Shiso and this would go well, the third ingredient is the orange-y and teensy bitter-y aperitif, Aperol. It’s a magical match, honestly, and perfect planting of three different tasty items (planted into a shaker and then your mouth, that is), and makes even the most boring yard work a more palatable affair (no mechanized yard tools when drinking, please).  

How Does Your Garden Grow, a cocktail with gin, Shiso liqueur, and Aperol

How Does Your Garden Grow

Cracked ice

2 ounces Copperworks gin

1 ounce Sidetrack Distillery Shiso liqueur

1 ounce Aperol

Orange 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. Garnish with the orange twist.

March 29, 2024

What I’m Drinking: Sprezza Rosso

Sprezza Rossa and Pizza

I’ve mentioned the delicious canned Sprezza spritz-style drinks made up here in WA before, and I’m sure I’ll do it again, because they are awesomely awesome. The Blanco variety is delish, and so so swell in summer, and there’s a newer Rose’ that is dreamy, but today I’m sipping the Sprezza Rosso side of the trio. Made from Mancino Rosso vermouth, Scrappy’s Orange bitters (hence the Washington connection if you were wondering), and sparkling mineral water, it delivers a swirl of effervescent rhubarb, burnt orange, and caramel with an ending brisk bitter kiss. Bellissimo! And – which you might expect given its Italian connection – Sprezza Rosso goes perfectly with a good slice of pizza. So, that’s what we’re having today, amici!

Sprezza Rosso

Ice cubes

1 can Sprezza Rosso

Orange twist

1. Couldn’t be easier: fill a wine glass three-quarters up with ice cubes. Pour the Sprezza over the ice and in the glass. Twist the twist, and drop it in. Take a bite of slice, take a sip of Sprezza.

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