April 29, 2022

What I’m Drinking: Good Morning Sunshine

Does it feel like brunch season to you? It does to me! Spring when springing always sings out “brunching time is on” in my old ears for some reason. More sunshine, perhaps, or the blooming of things equates in my brain having pals over for meals that aren’t really breakfast, but aren’t yet lunch either. Bascially: brunch! Great idea, brunch, by the way. Not that I don’t like brunches throughout the year, between us, but brunching in spring is best. Perhaps because you can, after a long winter (for many), have said brunch outdoors again if you want? Perhaps because by spring the days are longer so you can work up more of a brunch appetite (lots of weeding to be done in the morning, too)? Who knows! But in honor of, let’s call it, brunch season – which of course demands more brunch drinks – here’s a new effervescent cocktail for you, the Good Morning Sunshine. I like my brunch drinks bubbly in the main, and a bit fruity, while still having a smooth kick to help ease you into afternoon napping! That little rubric leads to the ingredient list here: two kinds of juice (oj, pj), the citrus-ish lightly sweet beloved of the nation (currently) Aperol, Aperol’s tight pal Prosecco (bringing the bubbles), and then a bit of a brunch surpriser: tequila, which adds the underlying strength while also bringing a hint of smoke and vegetalness. Quite lovely I have to admit. Brunch lovely, even!

good-morning-sunshine

Good Morning Sunshine

 

Ice cubes

1 ounce blanco tequila

1/2 ounce Aperol

1/2 ounce pineapple juice

1/2 ounce orange juice

4 ounces chilled Prosecco (see Note)

 

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add all but the Prosecco. Shake well.

 

2. Strain into a flute glass or comparable vessel. Top with the Prosecco. Brunch = on!

 

A Note: Could go five ounces here if you want and are feeling extra bubbly. Up to you.

 

 

March 11, 2022

What I’m Drinking: Ti Penso Sempre

This is a cozy drink for a chilly March day! It reminds me, too (as I’ve been making it for a bit), of the dark days before Aperol was available in the U.S., and when the now-everywhere (a good thing!) stateside Spritz was just something Italian sipped. Doesn’t seem that long ago to me (I am very old) when I used to have to always bring two bottles of Aperol back in my suitcase when traveling back from  lovely Italy, one for personal use and one for a pal. What changes have come since then (now I just have to fill my suitcase with grappa unavailable here)! Back to this here, drink. It mingles in a cuddly manner bountiful brandy with that Aperol I was going on about, with a tiny salute of simple syrup and a fresh orange for a tint of tang. It can be a bit sweet, like you, so if you want to take the simple to even tinier levels or out altogether, it’s okay. Things will still be cuddly.

ti-penso-sempre

Ti Penso Sempre, from Dark Spirits

 

Ice cubes

1-1/2 ounces brandy

1 ounce Aperol

1/2 ounce simple syrup

Orange slices, for garnish

 

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the brandy, Aperol, and simple syrup. Shake well.

 

2. Strain the mix into a cocktail glass and be glad your local liquor store shelves are well-stocked (one hopes, at least).

 

February 14, 2020

What I’m Drinking: Ti Penso Sempre

Yti-penso-sempreou know, I think this here lovely drink is such a nice and lovely one for lovely Valentine’s Day that I’ve probably had it on this (lovely) blog before around the heart-iest day of the year. But today is the actual day! Not just close. You knew this right? I mean, you are on it, and have the appropriate gifts etc. for your sweetest, or if single, for yourself (I mean, you deserve it)? It is, naturally, a holiday created for commerce (if you can spare me a non-lovely thought), but darn it all, still fun, or, at least, still a lovely excuse for the below drink for the lovely couples and lovely singles in the house. What a combo! Brandy! Aperol! Sweetness! Citrus! Lovely! Admittedly, a smidge on the dessert-y side for some lovely folks, but hey, if that’s not you, here’s what you do – up the lovely brandy a bit. Just like that, a Valentine’s Day dream, ideal for you, lovely you.

 

Ti Penso Sempre, from Dark Spirits, Serves 2

 

Ice cubes

3 ounce brandy

2 ounces Aperol

1 ounce simple syrup

2 orange slices, for garnish

 

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the brandy, Aperol, and simple syrup. Shake well.

 

2. Strain the mix equally into 2 cocktail glasses.

 

May 3, 2019

What I’m Drinking: The Portofino

A cosmopolitan affair, I found the Portofino in an Italian drink collection called Cocktails Classici & Esptoco (Demetra, 2002) which I picked up in a bella Florence (Italy, that is) bookstore. It’s an intriguing combo with English liqueur Pimm’s – specifically Pimm’s No. 1 Cup, which is “made to James Pimm’s original recipe from 1823, a closely guarded secret known only to 6 people,” a recipe of gin, herbs, and a touch of fruitiness. It’s the main Pimm’s variety today (at one time there were six, made on bases of gin, Scotch, brandy, rum, rye, and vodka) though you can find Pimm’s Winter Cup, based on brandy, spices, and orange peel, if you look. The second main ingredient is Italian favorite Aperol (the light, orange, and barely bitter dream that’s taking everywhere you can imagine by orange-y storm).  Portofino, the city this is named after, is located on the Italian Riviera in the Genoa province and according to reports (that go all the way back to Pliny the Elder, and why would he lie?), the town was settled by the Romans and named Portus Delphini, which means Port of the Dolphin, due to the dolphins that frolicked in the gulf around it. Amazing, am I right?

portofinoThe Portofino

Ice cubes
2 ounces Pimm’s No. 1 Cup
1 ounce Aperol
Chilled ginger ale
Orange wedge for garnish

1. Fill a highball glass three quarters up with ice cubes. Add the Pimm’s and Aperol and stir briefly.

2. Fill the glass almost to the top with ginger ale. Stir again and garnish with the orange wedge.

October 5, 2018

What I’m Drinking: On the Road to Montefalco

Usually, I try not to have favorites in booze categories. Meaning, I wouldn’t say I have a favorite gin (I like too many, too well), or amaro, or vermouth. Or white wine. However, I might say I have a favorite red wine (other red wines, please turn away now). Or, at least a favorite red wine grape, that being Sagrantino. Growing only around Montefalco, in Umbria (lovely town, by the way, the Falcon’s Mount, also referred to the balcony of Umbria, and worth a visit – great churches, great museum, a few mummies, and more, and the wine, naturally), real Sagrantino di Montefalco uses 100 percent Sagrantino grapes, is aged 37 months at the shortest, and has a deep, rich, color (dark purple) and taste of dark stone fruits. Memorable stuff!

But here’s something I recently found out (thanks to a bottle coming my way). There’s also a Montefalco Rosso wine. It’s a bit like Sagrantino’s more playful younger sibling. Aged just 18 months and blended with 60-80% Sangiovese. The specific bottle I tasted was Tenuta Alzatura Montefalco Rosso, which is 70% Sangiovese, 15% Sangrantino, and 15% Merlot. It’s a beautiful wine, with a light ruby coloring, and also a lighter nature than Sagrantino, probably more approachable for a larger percentage of people, with a fruity nature (red fruit, juicy ones), and hints of spice on the nose and taste, but with a softer finish than its sibling. A nice red wine for a late-summer or fall day. And also, a nice one for making into a wine cocktail.

Of course, as you know, I have a hard time not experimenting with any ingredient I have at hand, and while a glass of this Montefalco Rosso by itself is dreamy, it plays well with others, too. Here, I brought in some Italian favorites, starting with light, slightly citrus, aperitif, Aperol. To match up with that and to balance some of the wine’s fruits, a few dashes of Fee Brothers Orange bitters added to the party – not Italian, but we do have another Italian fav, too. See, I wanted some strong undercurrents, too (sometimes in fall there’s a chill in the air), and wanted to stay Italian-style, and so brought in an underutilized cocktail ingredient: grappa. Specifically: Marolo Grappa di Amarone, which is aged in oak, and which has cherry notes, along with an adaptable nuttiness, that go with the wine perfectly. Altogether, this is a cocktail that’ll have you fantasizing of Italy – and savoring every sip.

road-to-montefalco
On the Road to Montefalco

Cracked ice
2 ounces Tenuta Alzatura Montefalco Rosso
1 ounce Aperol
1/2 ounce Marolo Grappa di Amarone
2 dashes Fee Brothers Orange bitters

1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add everything. Stir well.

2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Bella, bella.

April 14, 2017

What I’m Drinking: A Picturesque Procession with Purus Vodka

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-pictauresque-procession
A Picturesque Procession

Ice cubes
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.

March 31, 2017

What I’m Drinking: Ognam

It’s spring right? I mean, according the calendar and all, spring started way back on the 20th. You’re frolicking right? In a meadow? Please tell me you are frolicking. FROLICKING! It’s spring, after all, when meadows should be begging to be frolicked in, as well as various other springtime spring-y-nesses. If you haven’t started your frolicking engines, then I suggest you drink a couple Ognams. They start the spring frolicking in a perfect way. Try it out – but be sure you have your frolicking clothes on.

ognam
Ognam, from Dark Spirits

Ice cubes
1 1/2 ounces brandy
2 1/2 ounces mango juice
1/2 ounce Aperol
Chilled club soda
Lemon slice for garnish

1. Fill a highball or comparable glass with ice cubes. Add the brandy, mango juice, and Aperol. Stir well.

2. Fill the glass almost to the top with club soda. Stir again, well. Squeeze the lemon slice over the glass and drop it in. Frolic!

October 14, 2016

What I’m Drinking: The Burst of Feeling

This is a globe-trotting flavorsome sipper, which actually uses ingredients from three different continents. Really! I think. Tell me if I’m wrong, but I think I’m right, though with the teutonic shifting, well, you never know what’s changed in the many years since my geography classes. What I do know is that it’s a swell mix, thanks in large part to the addition of Bundaberg ginger beer (some of which, lucky me, showed up in the mail not too long ago. Don’t hate me cause I’m lucky). Out of Australia, Bundaberg makes a variety of tasty beverages, but is at the moment best known for its ginger beer, a n/a version made from all-natural nature-y things (roots, spices) and being a very smooth drink, with a hint of sweet and good underlying gingerness. Here, I pair it with two other flavorsome friends: Peruvian brandy Pisco, and a little Euro insertion thanks to old chum Italian aperitif Aperol. As a trio, at first glance, they may seem oddly matched, but everything brings a little this, a little that, a little of their own personality. Lots of flavor, while still being refreshing.

burst-of-feelingThe Burst of Feeling

Cracked ice
1-1/2 ounces pisco
1/4 ounce Aperol
Ice cubes
4 ounces Bundaberg ginger beer

1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add the pisco and the Aperol. Stir well.

2. Fill a smallish highball or a good-sized Old Fashioned-y glass three-quarters up with ice cubes. Strain the mix from Step 1 into the glass.

3. Top with the Bundaberg. Stir well.

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