March 19, 2019
I recently discovered Cyril Hare, the English mystery author and judge (his real name was Alfred Alexander Gordon Clark, too, which is quite a mouthful), and have now read a couple of his books, and (like many of the best English authors of his time) they tend to be well-plotted, not-overwrought in any kind of distracting way, and full of characters written perfectly, as well as providing an insight into English small towns and such. When the Wind Blows
(which some consider the highest Hare) is a good place to start if the above entices you, or if you like orchestras, as it takes place around an orchestra in a mid-sized English town. Also, there’s whiskey (as the below shows us), and a few folks happy to take a tipple even if this takes place in the lean post-WW II years.
“I have never been able to understand,” said MacWilliam, looking meditatively at the glass in his hand, “why, in these days of shortages and rationing, it should be considered perfectly proper for guests to bring with them morsels of tea and sugar and disgusting little packets of margarine for the benefit of their hosts, while it is taken for granted that they should be supplied ad libitum with substances far more precious – if you will forgive my mentioning it – a great deal more expensive. Now I don’t much care for tea and hardly take any sugar, but I do – as you may conceivably have observed – drink an appreciable quantity of whisky of an evening. I repeat, therefore, I have left two bottles for you in the hall.”
–Cyril Hare, When the Wind Blows
March 15, 2019
Okay, there has to be a drink named this, right? It’s just too good not to have been utilized by some creative bartender (of which there are millions, lucky us), and so whomever has done so, my apologies. And if really there isn’t, than, wheee! Anyway, as you might expect from this name I’ve been mulling over, this is a rye drink, and one that hews close-ish to a rye Manhattan, which I think is a good place to start.
Another good place to start is the rye I’m using here, Clyde May’s rye. Clyde May’s is made by the Conecuh Distillery and is named after Alabama’s most famous bootlegger/moonshiner from days of yore (meaning, days when we had moonshiners, and not liquor stores one could trot into, or fire up online). I had their bourbon in a Mint Julep not too long ago, and you can go read about it. But now, it’s rye time, cause, as the drink name tells us, Rye Not?
The Clyde May’s rye is aged a minimum of three years and rolls off the tongue at 47% ABV. On the nose, it delivers some spice, caramel, and flowery notes, which unfold when sipping into a little stone fruit (apricots, I say!), and more spice and rye goodness, and a hint of pepper and sweetness trailing. A nice sipper, but also nice in cocktails like this one, where I – after due consideration – follow up on those apricot notes I parsed out above, by mixing it with a little (don’t want to overwhelm) apricot liqueur, as well as a little peach bitters, and to bring us all home, some Punt e’ Mes vermouth. All together, a swell drink for right about now, where there’s chill still in the air, but perhaps a dream of spring coming closer every day.
2 ounces Clyde May’s rye whiskey
1/2 ounce apricot liqueur
1/2 ounce Punt e’ Mes sweet vermouth
2 dashes Fee Brothers Peach bitters
Big ice cube (or more little ones)
1. Fill a mixing glass halfway full with ice cubes. Add everything except more ice. Stir well.
2. Add a big ice cubes or some smaller ones to an Old Fashioned style glass. Strain the mix into the glass. Sip up!
February 22, 2019
Beyond the fact that this is a tasty drink – double bitters, bourbon, bubbly, Cointreau – I love the story of the Seelbach. It was once thought an uncovered treasure found in some ancient texts, and brought out of the mists of time for the drinkers of the future. But, turns out, the whole story was made up. Cocktails should have histories like this, sometimes, cause drinking should be fun (also, to read the whole story in more detailed, check it out on Liquor.com) and sometimes made up stories are fun, too. Heck, it tricked me, but I still believe it’s fun, and like drinking the Seelbach, too. Try it, and I’m guessing you will, as well.
1 ounce bourbon
1/2 ounce Cointreau
7 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
7 dashes Angostura bitters
Chilled brut Champagne or sparkling wine
Orange twist, for garnish
1. Pour the bourbon, Cointreau, and the two bitters into a flute glass. Stir briefly.
2. Fill the flute almost to the top with the chilled Champagne or sparkling wine. Stir again, but don’t get nutty about it. Garnish with the orange twist.
January 15, 2019
Making your own bottled delights is awfully fun, and recently (if you take history as a whole, at least), I and wife Nat were lucky enough to go down to Copperworks – a delightful distillery making award-winning single malt American whiskey, gin, and more – right here in Seattle to take part in one of their blend your own whiskey classes. It was dreamy, and then I got to write all about it for the dreamy Seattle magazine. Go check that whiskey blending article out, and then sign up for a class and make your own! Because you can’t have mine, hahaha.
January 11, 2019
Ah, the new part of the year, here we are. And here we go with 2019! At this time, it’s good to use some new ingredients to match the New Year, but (I’m not getting deep here, really, but just trying to roll things into the recipe in some sort of fun way. Fun!) also to use some ingredients from the past year. Which leads us to this here drink, and a duo of lovely products from the Woodinville Whiskey Co., from out here in the W-A. Specially, their limited-time Autumn release from last autumn, which was their rye finished with toasted Applewood staves – learn more about it in the Hero of the Fall recipe (which you’ll like, I’ll bet). That, though, is the last year component, while the new is just “new” to me: Woodinville’s maple syrup. I am ashamed to admit that I opened my first bottle only recently, because it’s delicious. They start with grade-A dark maple syrup from the eastern US, which is aged in empty Woodinville bourbon and rye barrels, adding caramel, vanilla, and woodsiness to the syrup. Yummy! Maple syrup isn’t used in drinks enough, and, admittedly, it can take over – but dang, this is good stuff! And matches that Woodinville rye wonderfully, especially with a last addition: Peychaud’s whiskey barrel-aged bitters. More whiskey-barreling! Those deep herbal bitter notes are a third treat here, in our Manhattan-y mixture. It’s a great drink for toasting both the past and the upcoming year (or anything else you need to toast).
Oh, one note: you might want to pull back to the maple syrup to 1/2 ounce. I was feeling it, and went for 3/4s. You get the rye first, with a hint of the syrup, then that syrup comes on, with the bitters and barrely stuff finishing it off. However, it could be a stitch sweet for you, so go as you go.
New Trees, Old Trees
2-1/2 ounces Woodinville Whiskey Co. Toasted Applewood Finished rye
3/4 ounce Woodinville Whiskey Co. maple syrup
Dash Peychaud’s Whiskey Barrel Aged bitters
Maraschino cherry, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add everything but the cherry. Shake.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with the cherry, cheery.
A Note: I don’t think I have to tell you to use a real Maraschino cherry here, and not one of those neon-red-colored numbers, do I? I sure hope not!
January 4, 2019
I’m sorry, I can’t help myself, baby, it’s cold outside. There, I did it, I sung the song that once was neat, and now has sadly been covered into oblivion. A shame, really. What’s not a shame on a cold-outside-day is this winter Washington warmer. It’s a curious choco-mix in one manner, in that it mixes hot chocolate and whiskey, which isn’t seen often. Silly, that. Here, the whiskey side is Scratch’s straight whiskey. Scratch (you should know this!) is a delicious distillery out in WA, specifically Edmonds, WA. They make all kinds of bottled things, starting with gins, and moving along. Their whiskey can be hard to get, but is worth tracking down, due to its singular (and single-barrel), mash bill, which utilizes a line-up of “old world” grains I hadn’t seen together before: spelt, millet, white winter wheat, and malted barley. Scrumptious stuff. Also scrumptious, the other WA-made ingredient used here, Salish Sea distillery’s organic allspice liqueur. Salish Sea is from Lacey, WA, and makes an incredible array of all-organic liqueurs, a line-up covering classic flavors and more esoteric numbers. And if that wasn’t enough scrumptiousness, a little Seattle-made Scrappy’s orange bitters adds the final touch here, in a mighty-fine way: you put a few drops on top of the whipped cream topping, and the bitter scents waft up as you drink. So, what are you waiting for? Warm up.
Melt the Snow
1-1/2 ounces Scratch Straight Whiskey
1/2 ounce Salish Sea allspice liqueur
2 ounces hot chocolate
Dash or two Scrappy’s orange bitters
1. Add the Scratch whiskey and Salish Sea allspice liqueur to a mixing glass. Stir briefly.
2. Warm a coffee mug or sturdy glass goblet by running it under hot water, and then drying it quickly.
3. Add the hot chocolate to the mug. Slowly and smoothly, add the whiskey-liqueur mix, stirring while you add.
4. Top with whipped cream, and then sprinkle a little bitters onto the whipped cream.
December 14, 2018
I recently received a bottle of Redwood Empire whiskey, made by Graton Distillery, in the mail (don’t be mad), and made this very scrumptious cocktail right here. As you might expect, Redwood Empire is made up in Northern California, near the trees of its name. What you might not expect, or know, is that it’s a blend of whiskeys, intriguingly enough. A blend of house-distilled rye (60%), and four, five, and eleven-year-old bourbons (40%), all aged in charred American Oak, and with some of the rye aged in port and wine barrels, too. Wowsa, that’s almost hard to keep track of, but how creative. It’s like an artist’s collage. But you wouldn’t want to drink that, hahaha!
The nose has a nice vanilla-y sweetness along with spices like cloves, cinnamon, and a little citrus. The taste unfolds a little bourbon sweetness, but also rye spiciness and a bit of pepper, with nice vanilla and caramel swirling throughout. A fine, and intriguing (as mentioned!) blend that rises up to become its own animal. Sip it, and see.
And then make this drink! I couldn’t – of course – not try it in cocktails, and after some thought and playing around, made a strategic choice to keep the number of ingredients small, just two accents to highlight the whiskey. First, I made my own intriguing choice, Seattle Distilling Company’s fantastic coffee liqueur. I just thought its richness and brown-sugar-y sweetness would play well with the whiskey’s personality. And I was right! But I felt we needed some strong herbal undertoning, though, and so brought in a new favorite I feel I’ll be sipping lots: Cynar 70. About twice the proof of regular Cynar (if you don’t know, a popular Italian amaro made from artichokes), it delivers a combo of cocoa, bitter botanicals, and deep herbal-ness, with a touch of sweetness. Everything together: yummy! Strong and yummy, and would wake you up nicely on a cold morning. But it goes smoothly at night, too.
This Morning, Like the Spirit of a Youth
2 ounces Redwood Empire American whiskey
1/2 ounce Seattle Distilling Company coffee liqueur
1/2 ounce Cynar 70
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add everything. Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Enjoy.
October 19, 2018
While not all of you live in wondrous WA, I don’t want you to feel I’m taunting you (you could come here and explore our distilleries, should even) by having a drink that features an ingredient you have to be here to pick up. C’mon over! And pick up a bottle of Woodinville Whiskey Co.’s 2018 Autumn Release, a Toasted Applewood Finished Rye. See, every year, the fine folks at Woodinville have an autumn release, and it’s quite an event – folks start lining up the day before to get a signed and number bottle in a commemorative wooden case. And, of course, to get the limited-edition whiskey within. This year’s takes the distillery’s 100% Rye Whiskey and adds toasted Applewood staves. Which brings out lovely apple notes mingling with the rye’s caramel and spices: cinnamon, clove, and more, all at 100 proof. It’s a great fall whiskey, and one that you might like to sit and sip solo – or with a few drops of water, or an ice cube, as the case may be – as the temperature chills.
But, it’s also a whiskey that can add beautiful background and flavor to a winter or fall cocktail, and recently I came up with a memorable one using it. For the first partner in this drink (again, don’t be upset those not living here – as you’re coming out for the rye, you can load up on a bunch of local lovelies), I went with another fall and winter favorite, Raft’s Cranberry Five Spice syrup. Raft products are made all-naturally in Portland, OR by the same folks who make the Bitter Housewife bitters and such. While “syrup” often equates with “sweet,” this one is only subtly sweet (and has no preservatives, high-fructose corn syrup, or any of that nastiness), and leans more into tart, thanks to the addition of Starvation Alley (a farm in Long Beach, WA) cranberries. Beyond the cranberry, this delivers more holiday spices: ginger, star anise, cinnamon, cloves. It seemed the ideal match for the rye. And it was!
But we needed to invite some more friends to this fall party-in-a-glass, and I wanted to keep it local, and bring even more of those spice notes, and so added Italian-by-way-of-Seattle Letterpress Distillery’s Amaro Amarino. Carrying a little of that traditional amaro bitter, but also more baking spices and a hint of orange, it fit right in. Our final player is Scrappy’s Aromatic bitters, which underlines everything with a final herbal and spice touch. Altogether now! This is an ideal drink for before Thanksgiving or any fall or winter holiday, but perhaps an even better one for after the meal. When sipping it, it introduces itself with the whiskey festival of grain, oak, and the beginnings of the spice, transitioning into apple and fruit and more spice, and then finishing on a little tang from the cranberries and a kiss of sweetness from the syrup – with spices throughout. One to savor like a good meal, and one to savor with good friends.
The Hero of the Fall
2 ounces Woodinville Whiskey Co. Toasted Applewood Finished Rye
3/4 ounce Raft Cranberry 5 Spice Syrup
1/2 ounce Letterpress Amaro Amarino
2 dashes Scrappy’s Aromatic bitters
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add all our northwest heroes. Shake well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Enjoy the bounty.