July 24, 2020
I’ll admit, usually when doing infusions of any kind (and they are usually Luscious Liqueurs), I tend to do my own, pick the fruit and herbs (or pick up the phone and order them), all that. However! Only someone very silly doesn’t try anything new, and so when I recently heard about this cool company called InBooze (what an awesome name!) run by a cocktail-loving mother of four who wants to make it easier for people to have swell cocktails, well, I wanted to give it a whirl. So, I ordered the Caribbean Rum Punch alcohol infusion kit, and it was not only super fun, but also really tasty! It starts with this pouch of goodness:
which for this recipe contained a host of delectables in a little cheesecloth-y bag, including dehydrated pineapple, oranges, Michigan cherries, and limes, and also contained some bitters-infused cane sugar cubes. You just place it all in a Mason jar, or (in my case here, a big glass container):
and then you add rum (I went with white rum cause I had a bottle at hand, but you could use dark rum – which I think I’ll try next time! – or even spiced rum, but I might be wary of that, as the flavors here are tasty already):
and then seal it up, and store it in a cool, dark place for at least three days, giving it a little swirl now and then to make sure all is covered by rum, and so it knows you care about it! After that, you just remove the bag, and you’re ready for island-style drinking. She suggests adding a couple ounces of the mix to a lemon-lime soda, Fresca, or pineapple-flavored sparking water. I tend to stay away from sweetened sodas in drinks (outside of ginger ale!), cause they are, well, a bit too saccharine in the main for me. You do what’s best for you! I actually liked the infused booze all on its own, and suggest trying that, though it’s got a kick of course. I had a sip or two that way (with some pals, at a distance, natch), and then tried it with just soda and loved it. Super for summer, friends. Another suggestion from InBooze is garnishing with an orange or pineapple, and that seems perfect, though I had to go with lemon (I’m not sure how I was unstocked, but it happens), which also added a nice citrus burst, and mint, which felt punch-y! Overall, a flavorful, rummy charmer that I’m glad I tried. And I’m excited to try more InBooze creations – you should too!
July 17, 2020
In the middle of summer, the heat is naturally on, but so is the barbecue-ing, the backyard smoking, and, one hopes, the sitting on the porch/picnic table/deck/backyard, consuming the edibles of the labors that have happened over the flames. Yummy, right? But not as yummy without the right drink to have not only with the consuming, but also afterwards, as you and your stomach are mellowing down. There are many worthy options for this summertime moment, but I’d like to throw another in the mix, one called At Once to Ashes, which I created. Really! See, a pal of mine (I am lucky in pals) gifted me some small bottles of smoked simple syrup recently, and while that sounds like she must have used magic to create it, she assures me it was not spells. Now, I don’t know how she (non-magically) made it, but do know it sure is delicious. I can’t ask her if you want? The syrup’s smoky-sweetness is crying out (listen, you’ll hear it) to be had after smoky eating, and also, I believe, crying out to be had with another smoky-ish, earth-y-ish favorite: mezcal. Which is what I’ve done here – I wouldn’t ignore the simple syrup, would I? No! But I wouldn’t stop there, either. I’ve also added Grandeza, a lush orange liqueur made here in WA. Its orange flavor really pops, and it also adds another sidge of sweet, too. You can sub another orange liqueur if you’d like, but Don Ho will not sing of it. But it’ll still taste good! I wanted to balance the sweetness a bit, and also wanted to add a few herbal notes, and a hint of a hot spice kick, so our final ingredients here are Scrappy’s Orange bitters, and Scrappy’s Firewater tincture. If you like heat (habanero heat), then Firewater better be on your radar pals, cause it brings it. End result: At Once to Ashes is smoky-spice-citrus-sweet loveliness in a glass. Enjoy!
At Once to Ashes
2 ounces mezcal
1/2 ounce smoked simple syrup
1/2 ounce Grandeza
Dash Scrappy’s Orange bitters
Dash Scrappy’s Firewater tincture
Big ice cube (or a few good-sized ice cubes)
Cherry, for garnish
1. Fill a mixing glass or cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the liquids. Shake well.
2. Add a big (really big) ice cubes to an Old Fashioned or comparable glass. Strain the mix from Step 1 into the glass. Garnish with a cherry. Rainer if you have it!
July 10, 2020
I hear you, don’t worry – it’s July, it’s summer, it’s hot, the sweat is pouring off your hard-working brow, the yard has yet to be mowed (again), the sun is so high and hot in the sky, a winter-ific, fall-tastic, chill-in-the-air idealistic, hearty, flavorful, Scotch whisky is perhaps the last slow sipper that comes to mind. But darn it, conventions are made to be chucked, and sometimes the last idea is the most needed, the best. Just like some days you realize that only a good whisky will balance out the hours. Lucky for me, I recently received not one, but two good ones in the mail (lovely mail!), and so quenched my summer Scotch thirst with Ardbeg Wee Beastie and Ardbeg Blaaack. And what lovely tipples they are!
Let’s start with Ardbeg Wee Beastie, a youthful number at just five years of age (“mellowed” as they say in ex-bourbon and ex-Oloroso sherry casks), but packing a walloping taste none-the-less, like a powerful toddler you won’t want to ignore. Especially if you like some smoke in your sip – that smokiness is a fine match for summer, too, if you think about all the flame-y cooking happening. But even though it’s young and bold, it’s smooth, too, starting with a peat-y, pepper-y, fire-y nose that ends sweet with a hint of citrus. That folds into a taste that’s smoky as well, especially at the tail, but with loads of spice, a little vanilla, and herbs intertwined. A few drops of water are a neat addition, bringing the smoke, vanilla, and citrus notes more into play.
Right along the heels (it’s a two-Scotch day after all!) is Ardbeg Blaaack, the limited-edition whisky released to celebrate and commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the Ardbeg Committee. What is the Ardbeg Committee? It’s a sweet fan club, really, one that spreads the good Ardbeg word as well as getting some neat stuff, too. But back to the Blaaack! New Zealand Pinot Noir casks (first time Ardbeg’s used these for those counting) held the lush liquid. New Zealand and Scotland’s shared sheep-ness add the extra “baaa” to the name! But what about the taste? Glad you asked! The aroma has a distinctive berry-ness (summery!), light smoke, and hints of flowers and oak, flowing into a flavor that’s more berries, baked fruit, cherries, a bit of oak and nuttiness, followed by a little spice and more fruit. Yummy. Add a little water here, and the cherry notes are unleashed even more, with an echo of citrus along for the ride.
And now you have two great reasons for believing me that whisky can be just the ticket, even in the height of summer.
July 3, 2020
This lesser-known (but awesome) drink from days of yore feels appropriate in many ways for this weekend (named after the sound bombs made and all that), and it is incredibly tasty (and sorta surprising when you look at the list of ingredients), and a drink if you haven’t made you sure should try, but, but, but, listen, I don’t want to soapbox, but I really am not a big 4th of July fan. Not the, oh, sentiment I suppose, but going overboard with the fireworks. As a long-time dog owner, and as someone with the belief that dogs are, actually, a higher species than humans (in the main), and knowing how said fireworks can drive, and do drive, dogs insane, then you can see why I don’t enjoy the holiday, or the days around it.
On the other hand, this is why I need a good drink, and why I’m having a Whizz Bang. A curiously explosive number, this time I’m starting with Woodinville Whiskey Co. bourbon, which is local (support your locals!), award-winning, and tasty. I’ve had this drink made with a smooth Scotch, and that’s not a bad idea. However, it being the fourth and all, wanted to stay more American, and the Woodinville is a treat. Next up: dry vermouth. You don’t see enough whiskey and dry vermouth combos, and even rarer (I think? I could be wrong) is that combo with anise-y Pernod! I believe this may have originally been made with absinthe, before the big silly oh-no-scary-absinthe moment in history, but I’ve grown to love the Pernod here, so we’ll stick with it. And we’re still going! Next up: grenadine. This drink only works with really good grenadine (it somehow brings it all together), so make your own, or have a friend make some good grenadine and convince them to give you some. That’s what I did! Our final sparkly addition is orange bitters, for those herbal undertones. I went with Scrappy’s orange bitters, cause it’s, well, sparkly! Altogether, the Whizz Bang’ll make any weekend shine. Maybe have one or two, with some pals, and skip exploding things and terrorizing pups? Just an idea!
The Whizz Bang
1-1/2 ounces Woodinville Whiskey Co. bourbon
3/4 ounce dry vermouth
1/4 ounce Pernod
1/4 ounce homemade grenadine
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 and give your dog a pet.
June 26, 2020
Upon reflection while sipping one of these beauties, I’ve realized that perhaps The WAD isn’t the most attractive of names. Am I right? Tell me I’m wrong? Perhaps I’m right, but, well, it’s too late to change the name now, cause it’s out in the world, and the poor drink would be sad cause people would always be calling it by the wrong name. So, here we are, The WAD. I do think it’s made better if I say that it stands for Washington Aligned Daiquiri of Sorts? And that WADS would be worse (well, maybe)? Cause that’s where the name comes from. See, I was making a Daiquiri type drink for a pal, or was wanting to, and also wanting to use all WA-made ingredients, for fun, and wanted to differentiate it a bit, all that, okay. Okay! So, started with the Puget Sound Rum Company’s Rum 47 Amber rum – so named as it was carefully made on the 47th parallel, with organic panela from a family farm in Columbia, and aged in ex-bourbon barrels. Great start! Next, sticking with Puget Sound Rum Company, their Comb and Cane honey-infused rum, which is made with Pacific Northwest honey, and has a slight sweetness and more good rum-ness. Add some fresh lime juice, and some brown sugar simple syrup, and The WAD is here. Potentially not awesome name and all.
1-1/2 ounces Puget Sound Rum Company Rum 47 Amber rum
1 ounce Puget Sound Rum Company Comb & Cane
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 ounce brown sugar simple syrup
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add everything. Shake well.
2. Strain through a fine strainer into a cocktail glass or comparable. Sip it up, WA style, whatever your name.
June 19, 2020
So, it was just a few weeks ago when I was talking about how flavored vodkas weren’t necessarily my boozy jam, but then went and talked about this Cucumbers and Tonic highball I was having and how tasty it was. And now here I am, doing it again! Sorta. I mean, here, I’m talking (typing?) about, or about to type about, a smoked vodka that I really am liking. Specifically, Chase Smoke flavored vodka, a bottle of which showed up in the mails recently (lucky for me, and then some!). It’s made by smoking spring water with English Oak for five good days, and then blending with Chase vodka (which itself is made from British potatoes, grown on a farm in Herefordshire – same farm the distillery is on if I have it all right). But what does it all mean? It seems like it could go perfectly wrong, but it goes perfectly right! With a memorable and lovely oak smokiness, and echoes of the forest and campfires and sunsets in fall. That last bit too much? Well, sometimes that’s okay! Sadly, right up front, I have to admit I don’t think it’s available in my own state of WA at this moment – but soon, one hopes. Secondly up front, I think this smoked vodka dream was really designed to craft legendary Bloody Marys – and I don’t like Bloody Marys. SHHHH! Don’t tell.
But I believe this vodka is actually a treat on its own, or over a little ice. And good in other drinks, including A Kindred Spirit, which I’m going to detail right here. Influenced by the Oaxacan Old Fashioned, a favorite of my wife’s, and another smoky delight. Which means I’m upping the smoke quotient! And also going to go with two base spirits — upping the base spirits! We’re going up here! Second base spirit: mezcal (you may have guessed this already, with the smoke talk). But with two base spirits, need to make sure they get along, so also here, a little rosemary brown sugar simple syrup. And then, for the final ingredients, a little Angostura bitters, to add a few herbal undercurrents, and a wide orange twist for some rich citrus hints. Everything comes together to form a lovely sipper for the back patio, or in front of the fire, or wherever you please (you’re sipping, after all), as well as a swell way to showcase the swell Chase Smoked Vodka.
A Kindred Spirit
2 ounces Chase Smoke flavored vodka
1/2 ounce Montelobos mezcal
1/2 ounce simple syrup (see Note)
Dash Angostura bitters
Big ice cube, or a few regular ice cubes
Wide orange twist, for garnish
1. Add everything but ice to an Old Fashioned glass. Stir well.
2. Add a big ice cubes or a couple regular ice cubes. Stir again, briefly. Garnish with the twist.
A Note: I used a rosemary-y brown sugar simple syrup here, and it was yumski. However, regular could work, too! For the rosemary, just add some to your normal recipe.
June 12, 2020
Having a good drink on your birthday is (if you’re a drinker, and of legal age in the country you choose to live within) a treat, and should be something everyone gets to enjoy. With that in mind, I made up the below drink for an old pal of mine (I’ll bet you can’t guess his name) for a recent birthday, bottled up a few, and gave them to him in the appropriate manner for the times. But, because he is a such a rad dude, I didn’t feel I could just come up with any ol’ drink, but wanted it to have a little bit of a backstory. That might be, you’d think, difficult, but said fella has been a traveling man here and there in his time here, and so the lightbulb moment was “hey, how about using some ingredients from where he went in his life” or where he did “go” so to speak. And if I also made Bingo boards around said birthday, well, that’s just me. Back to the drink. It starts with a little smooth and friendly Barsol Peruvian pisco, as our base. Then, traveling back here to the states, we go to Indianapolis, where some lush limoncello is made by Hotel Tango Distillery. And then, right back here to the W-A where birthday boy lives now, with Sidetrack’s amazing Strawberry liqueur (made on the world’s swellest farmer, just outside of Kent), and Scrappy’s unbelievable Black Lemon bitters, made in Seattle. Altogether, get your go on with the Shango! On your birthday, or anyone’s birthday!
1-1/2 ounce Barsol pisco
3/4 ounce Sidetrack Distillery Strawberry liqueur
3/4 ounce Hotel Tango limoncello
Dash Scrappy’s Black Lemon bitters
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add everything, and stir. Go, go, go!
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Drink around the world.
June 5, 2020
I gotta be straight with y’all. I tend to not be into flavored boozes – pre-flavored, that is. Too many taste, to me, like chemical-ized messes. Though, to flip flop, I can say that in our modern world of boozes, with more small, focused distillers using high-end and natural ingredients, there are more and more of these types of bottles that do taste better than in the dark days of yore. And, we are luckier for it. Speaking of lucky, I myself received a bottle in the mail (don’t be upset at me, just be happy for me) just the other day, Prairie Organic Cucumber vodka, and you know what? It’s darn delicious. The cucumber flavor is very natural in essence and personality, smooth, and not overwhelming, approachable and in a positive way, delicate. Nice (well, unless you don’t like cucumber). The base is Prairie’s normal vodka, made from organic corn from a co-op of Minnesota farmers. Also, nice! Their products are becoming more and more available, even in spots as remote as the one I’m typing from, Seattle W-A. Triple nice!
Prairie’s Cucumber vodka is just perfectly ideal for summer, too. And you know what, summer is (by the calendar at least – it may feel already here for some!) only days away. With this in my mind, I recently whipped up a tasty tall treat using said vodka, one that’s a mighty match or summer, easy to make (as you want in summer to reduce sweating), and sure to become a favorite under that bright summer sun: Cucumbers and Tonic. Seems simple, and it is. In it, I up the vodka’s cucumber quotient with a little fresh cucumber, and the rest is much as you’d think it. Go forth now, and enjoy that sunshine.
Cucumbers and Tonic
Two fresh cucumber rounds
1-1/2 ounce Prairie Organic Cucumber vodka
4 to 5 ounces tonic (I used Fever Tree and it worked a treat)
Cucumber spear for garnish
1. Add the cucumber rounds to a cocktail shaker. Muddle well.
2. Fill the cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the vodka. Shake well.
3. Fill a highball or comparable glass three-quarters up with ice cubes. Strain the cuc and cuc vodka into the glass and over the ice.
4. Add the tonic to the glass (go a little stronger or lighter as desired with tonic), and stir well. Add the cucumber spear. Summer awaits.