The “and Tonic” family of drinks is a wide one, and getting wide as people happily realize the breadth of tasty choices. Though still utilized mainly in summer and the sunnier months (especially the grandmother and matriarch G and T), don’t get stuck into thinking that a tonic number isn’t going to treat you rightly during other times of year, too (though cold winter nights can be a tougher sell, you can go for a vocational vibe in those situations). In the current fall time, which bridges summer months and fall months, I find an Apricot Eau De Vie (or fruit brandy) and Tonic especially nice. If you have the right Apricot brandy naturally! I’m using Oomrang’s version, which is a delight thanks to being based on apricots handpicked at the peak of ripeness, with the absolute perfect ones de-pitted, for a robust flavor of apricots tree-ripened in the summer sun. One note: this delicious apricot fruit brandy is not to be confused with some “Apricot brandies” out there, which are actually liqueurs, and tend to be treacly ones. I used Q tonic for that side of the “and,” but others could work, and tonic syrup would be a treat. I was just out!
Robert Bloch was a well-known writer, novelist, short-story-ist, pulper, and though he wrote a fair amount of crime fiction, his best known work is Psycho, which as you could probably guess was the book made into the famous Hitchcock film. He started, interestingly enough, as a student of the legendary brain expanding horror master H.P. Lovecraft, even. Wowsa! But here we’re taking a nice quote from a crime novel, Spiderweb, which was originally an Ace Double, meaning a book from well-known pocket-book publisher Ace that actually contained two books – whatta deal! Here, it was with David Alexander’s The Corpse in My Bed. Though I don’t have that book (I might like to have it!); instead, I have a modern reprint of it from the happening folks at Hard Case Crime. Here’s the ringer: said modern reprint is also a twofer, combining Spiderweb with another Bloch book, Shooting Star. Get it! And enjoy the short quote below, which I thought would fit nicely with the last Friday Night Cocktail, I Should Classicoco, as they both have an apricot component.
’Your order?’ I looked at her. Then, ‘two apricot brandies.’ She slid into the booth across from me and she smiled.
Wowsa, it’s been many a moon since I’ve had this charmer (which featured prominently along with 49 other beauts in Wine Cocktails). As you might expect from the title, it uses saké (which, admittedly, makes it an interesting fit in Wine Cocktails, but a delicious one, and those were interesting times, good times, for sure, but interesting if you know what I mean, and I’m sure you do). I like a slightly dry saké here, by the way, but really, most decent versions are gonna make a swell drink, a drink highlighted by the inclusion of coromandel gooseberry, better known as Star Fruit and also known as kamranga or five- finger fruit. All of which makes me want more names (A.J. Rathbun, better known as drinkaranga), and another one of these.
The Saké’d Saint
2 star fruit slices
1 lemon wheels
1-1/2 ounces saké
1-1/2 ounces St-Germain liqueur
1/4 ounce apricot brandy
1. Add 1 star fruit slice and the lemon wheel to a cocktail shaker. Using a muddler, muddle well.
2. Fill the cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the saké, St-Germain, and apricot brandy. Shake extra well.
3. Strain through a fine strainer into a cocktail glass. Garnish with the second star fruit slice.
It’s the holiday party season, and you’re probably thinking, “what should I serve as I unwrap presents, or in any way enjoy the holiday season with family and friends?” Well, there are lots and lots of options, and I’m not trying to push you one way or another, but this Bombay Punch is a sure charmer, thanks to a flavorful feast of fine friends brandy, maraschino, Cointreau, apricot liqueur, and seasonal bubbly. With a little fresh orange to keep things healthy – it is the cold and flu season after all – and a lot of cheer. Again, not trying to push you, just giving you friendly options. It being the holiday season, I find it’s finest to be friendly, right?
As our producer and director owns stock in the BBC, our “season” lasts a mere six episodes (much like the Snuff Box). Which means (grab those hankies now) this is the last episode in this new season. And, if I can preen the feathers a bit, it’s a humdinger. In this finale, I’ll not only sing and dance (really!), I’ll also teach you to make the somewhat sultry Bedroom Eyes, a fine number that puts I think I delicious cocktail capper on another season of the show about cocktails and drinking and good times, the Good Spirits Cocktail to Cocktail Hour. But wait! Before clicking on the “play” button and icing up the shaker though, I must take another moment to thank our sponsors in writing (it’s a contractual thing—hey, every little helps). So, raise your glasses in a cheer for Holt’s Hangover Helpers, Fuller’s Homemade Liqueurs, Cash and Harley’s Fund for Young Bartenders, Butler’s House of Garnishes. And of course, raise another glass in a cheer for yourself, our viewers. Without you, well, we’d have to drink more ourselves.
Take your New Year’s Eve party up a notch (if that’s possible–knowing the readers and pals I have, your New Year’s Eve parties are already notched up so high the belt might break. But even so, you still might like a new New Year’s bubbly beauty) with the Valencia, a drink I think sounds like it refers to an old, but somewhat shadily classy, apartment house, probably a brick brownstone, where the serious parties have happened, are happening, and will continue to happen as long as we’re lucky to walk and drink on this earth. Valencia the drink contains a captivating combination of apricot brandy, orange juice, orange bitters, and Champagne or sparkling wine (the latter being why it’s so fitting for the last day in December). In the below video, which is posted via the fine folks at How2Heroes (a site you should check out if you like drinking and cooking videos) you can see me making one of these sparklers.
If that’s not enough, and if you really want to start your New Year right (or oddly), check out this video of me (also from How2Heroes) talking about how I got into cocktail love and booze-writing and all that liquor madness. I’m also wearing a pink tie and straw hat and name dropping the Essential Dr. Strange Volume I.
And if that’s not enough, know that I’m wishing you, from a distance, if not in person (though I wish I was), the happiest and most wonderfulest 2009 imaginable. And then some. Cheers!
The Man Behind the Evening's PlansA.J. Rathbun is a freelance food and entertainment writer, poet and author, a frequent guest on the Everyday Food program (Martha Stewart Living/Sirius satellite radio), and is a contributor to culinary & entertainment magazines such as Every Day with Rachael Ray, The Food Network Magazine, Real Simple, Wine Enthusiast, and many others. Of course, there's so much more to it than that...Read More