August 20, 2021
Let’s just be open about it: today is Friday the 13th. For some (how many I wonder, actually listen deep in their brain to the old luck lore?), today is a potentially very unlucky day, one in which all are prone to accidents, downer deeds, bad juju, and the potential for potentially poor potentiality. I certainly don’t want to argue with other’s deep held beliefs on this blog, so if you’ve a worry about Friday the 13th, well, do what you do. I will say that I believe you can balance out a bit of potential bad luck by drinking something tall and refreshing and named to be lucky. It’s all about the balance! Here, the balance begins with a WA-state treat: 3 Howls single malt whiskey. Made out this-a-way with Northwest brewing specialty grains and traditional Scottish peat smoked barley (a lucky combination if ever), it’s a lush number, vanilla-y and caramel-y and smoky in a friendly way. Good solo for sure, but also good here, mixed with, first, legendary Italian, Sicilian specifically, amaro Averna, whose sweet-bitter herbal and other tastes (citrus, juniper, rosemary, sage, and more) goes in a lovely manner with our single malt. And also with apple cider, the non-booze kind. Apples and our above two players are quite a lucky thing. I’m going with nice and straightforward Tree Top 3 Blend cider, but you can experiment a bit. A sprig of mint in the manner of an extra stitch of summer funtime luck, some ice, and we’ve moved from potential into perfection, balancing out the day’s bad luck lore with some darn good sipping.
The Lucky Apple
1-1/2 ounces 3 Howls single malt whiskey
3/4 ounce Averna
4 ounces Tree Top 3 Blend apple cider
Mint sprig, for garnish
1. Fill a highball or comparable glass three-quarters up with ice cubes. Add the whiskey and Averna. Stir a bit.
2. Top the glass off with the apple cider. Stir a bit more. Garnish with the mint. Feel lucky.
May 7, 2021
Summer proper (first day of summer and all that) is still over a month away, but I can feel it creeping up with every sunny day, temperature rising, refreshing fruity drinks bubbling, flowers blooming, gardens growing, sweat sweating, outdoor meals aromatizing evenings, and did I mention the drinks? We had a precursor summer day recently, one of those days that provides a preview of all that sun and such just described, and I just had to make up a new drink to accompany said day, and had to name it after summer, and had to transport my mind into a summer mindset, and between us, I (humbly), think I did a fairly decent job, and that Theros would approve. Oh, what’s in the drink? I started with rum (a summer favorite), white rum, that is, and then upped the rummy-ness with a little Stiggins’ Fancy rum, which is a referred to as “pineapple rum,” but for summer’s sakes don’t take that to mean chemically-induced or saccharin-y or against nature, as (if you haven’t had it), Stiggins’ is none of those, instead, wafting a perfectly roasted pineapple aroma over a dark flavorful rum. If you haven’t had it, try it now. Then, to round out those rummy siblings and to underline with citrus, herbs, caramel, sweetness, and lushness, I added some Montenegro amaro – one might not think of amari as summer standbys, but one also might be foolish, as these flavor-packed pals can bring just the right layers to hot weather treats, when mixed with the right partners. Like rums! And, like pineapple juice, our next ingredient. And, like Scrappy’s Lime bitters, which delights with lime and lighter herbal notes (remember kids: bitters makes it better). Finally, ice, club soda, mint, and here we are, summer, a month or so early. Enjoy it now, and then.
1 ounce white rum
3/4 ounce Stiggins’ Fancy Pineapple rum
1/2 ounce Montenegro amaro
1-1/2 ounce pineapple juice
1 dash Scrappy’s Lime bitters
4 ounces chilled club soda
Fresh mint sprig, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with ice cubes. Add the rums, amaro, juice, and bitters. Shake well.
2. Fill a highball or comparable glass with ice cubes. Strain the mix from step 1 into the glass. Top with club soda. Stir, carefully (no need to spill). Garnish with the mint.
A Note: You could serve this over cracked ice, even crushed ice. But I wasn’t so prepared or industrious as you might be. Next time, I might be!
January 24, 2020
Earlier this month of January, I had a drink I was drinking called the The Libellule (basically, a classic Dragonfly but with lemon), in which I utilized the lovely PiùCinque gin, a gin made in Italy with 10 botanicals. If you haven’t read that post, for gosh sakes, where have you been? Nah, I kid, I kid, I know you’re busy, what with the this-and-that’s. But do go read it now, to get more info on said Italian gin. Okay, back? See, wanted you to catch up on that there, cause in this drink, I mix PiùCinque gin with a few other Italian bottles: Anonima Distillazioni’s Ippocrasso vermouth from Gubbio, and Zafferaneto Di Corciano’s Safra Amaro all Zafferano from (as you might guess here) Corciano.
As you might guess, for those unlucky souls not visiting Umbria in central Italy, those two ingredients are probably not on your local liquor store shelves – yet at least! Who knows what tomorrow brings; one hopes. The fourth ingredient is orange juice, but that’s easy, so let us focus on the other two, both of which are delicious, in their own way. Ippocrasso vermouth is based on a red wine from Donini (my favorite winery in the world I’d say), so it starts in a wonderful place. It’s on the light side, but still lush, and has a bountiful fruitiness that sets it apart from many Italian vermouths, and a little less sweetness perhaps? Perhaps. Some friendly herbal and bitter notes bring up the rear. Safra (there’s an accent over that “a” by the way, but it’s annoying to type) Amaro alla Zafferano is one of the few – if not the only – amari I’ve had that sets itself apart with saffron. It doesn’t have a saffron-y coloring, but the smell and taste both benefit from saffron’s florally-honey-coaxingly-bitter-y nature, here backed by other herbal notes, friendly ones. On the amari scale, this leans a smidge on the sweet side, very approachable.
So, with our gin, we have three amazing Italian ingredients, all crafted with care from what I can tell, and all worth tracking down. Will it be easy? Perhaps not super easy, but hey, as our drink title tells you, just ask boldness to be your friend. Will it be worth it? Yes, for sure! Both to have each separately, but also to have in this cocktail, where they combine into the liquid equivalent of, oh, a painting by Perugino – one of the darker ones, as there is a rich, deep, herbal and fruit taste here, but also one that’s savor-able and approachable. Get your tickets, today!
Boldness Be My Friend
1-1/2 ounces PiùCinque gin
3/4 ounce Anonima Distillazioni Ippocrasso vermouth
1/2 ounces Zafferaneto Di Corciano Safra Amaro all Zafferano
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed orange juice
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add everything. Shake well.
2. Strain through a fine strainer into a cocktail glass. Enjoy your Italian night!
December 20, 2019
This was originally created as an after-Thanksgiving-feast-is-feasted-on cocktail (featured on the fantastic New Day Northwest), but I was thinking the other day, as I sometimes do, that, hey, you know, the winter holidays also deliver lots of moments where the eating heads into eating-a-whole-lot territory, and you know what that means? That this stomach-easer will also easily be a hit throughout the whole darn holiday season! Try it friends, and see if I’m wrong. A hint: I’m not. It has some bitter-ing, but also some sweet underneath it all, and well, the holidays are sweet, though they pass so quickly often that there is a little bitter-where-did-it-all-go-ing, too. This drink has all that!
1-1/2 ounces Seattle Distilling Company gin
1 ounce Brovo Amaro #1
1/2 ounce Four Leaf Spirits Sásta herbal-tea liqueur
1/2 ounce Woondinville Whiskey Bourbon Barrel Aged maple syrup
2 dashes Scrappy’s Grapefruit bitters
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add each ingredient with a holiday smile. Shake well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Drink up. Then head for the leftovers.
December 10, 2019
Eating too much this holiday season? Well, you need a good digestif – and I’ve got a bunch to suggest, all made by the world’s best distillers, right in WA state! And I’ve got the perfect place to suggest them – the mighty morning show New Day Northwest, with mighty morning show host Margaret Larson. Okay, to be honest, the show was right before Thanksgiving. But the digestifs are still good, and the sipping advice goes through the whole season – and beyond! Check it out, pals!
August 16, 2019
While I like many distilleries from around the world, I like Washington State distilleries best-est. I’m a local-leaner at heart, which maybe isn’t a bad thing. It does mean that sometimes I have recipes on here that are all WA distillers, which could be frustrating if you don’t live here. But then think of this – WA is a great place to visit, and when you visit, you can then visit our wonderful distilleries, pick up the ingredients used here, and, well, enjoy a wonderful life and drink. Boom! I solved all the problems.
The Mighty M is vaguely – very – Manhattan-y, uses two ingredients that have “M” in their names, and is a drink my old pal Joel Meister might like, and that’s where the name comes from. But the drink is based on a spirit without an M, funny enough, Woodinville Whiskey Co. Straight bourbon. An award-winner, if you haven’t had this becoming-legendary bourbon yet, well, you need to make the above referenced trip more quickly! Cause it’s great, aged five years, made with only WA grain from one farm, with a spice, caramel, chocolate taste. And it goes amazing with our other two pals in play. First, a WA-amaro (Wamaro?) that I only became hip to recently, Highside Distillery Amaro Mele. Made on Bainbridge Island on a base of their gin, which itself has an apple-spirit base, using five bitter herbs and aromatics and aged up to six weeks in a used Bourbon barrel, it leans on the bitter side of the amaro world, with a smoky, herby, beautifully bracing taste. You might be starting to think this is one of those drinks that’s good, but solely strong, without a sweeter side. Enter, our third ingredient: Salish Sea Maple liqueur. The first maple liqueur I’ve ever had, this all organic number is velvety and like a better maple syrup (it would make for amazing pancakes). It adds those distinctive maple notes, pairs perfectly with the above two players, and brings just the right light kiss of sweet. Altogether, a mighty drink indeed.
The Mighty M
2 ounces Woodinville Whiskey Co. Straight bourbon
3/4-ounce Highside Distillery Amaro Mele
1/2-ounce Salish Sea Maple liqueur
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add all the mighties, all three. Stir well.
2. Strain the mix into a cocktail glass. If you’re feeling it, try garnishing with an orange peel. Then let me know how it is.
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.
April 24, 2018
An intriguing read by an author I don’t know, an Italian author, this book’s title was too good to pass up, plus the fact that it takes place in Sicily (where the author, Leonardo Sciascia is from), and that it says on the back “in the very first rank of Italian writers,” and so, well, I had to give it a good look. It falls into the crime genre, which combined with everything else also brought me in. It’s well worth reading, too, though if you only read very straightforward crime novels, it might take you down a slightly different path – which isn’t a bad thing, me thinks. Don’t get me wrong, there is crime, a worthy police Captain, serious pacing, and the Mafia. But there’s also a lovely beauty to the prose that feels different, a way of capturing and condemning the social scene in this place and time, and a more literary lean, if any of that makes sense. Check it out if you can find it for all of the above, and for the below quote (which I think is slightly off-translation actually, but still perhaps the only Averna quote in a crime book that I’ve seen):
Pizzuco, who had invited him to a bitter vermouth at the Cafe Gulino, as so often in the past, was astounded at Parrinieddu’s refusal and abrupt flight; though not particularly bright, he wondered about it for the rest of the day. Parrinieddu, for his part, was so rattled that he spent the day attributing sinister meanings to that offer of a bitter vermouth, bitter betrayal, bitter death, over-looking the well-known fact that Pizzuco suffered from what the doctors call cirrhosis due to his fondness for Averna’s bitter vermouth – a beverage which made him proclaim his faith as a Separatist and ex-soldier of the Volunteer Army for Sicilian Independence.
–Leonardo Sciascia, The Day of the Owl