May 24, 2024

What I’m Drinking: The Bruja Smash

Warning: fake nearly swearing heading your way! This delight (ideal for the here and now and for the upcoming sunny days that you’ll hopefully be enjoying with pals or by yourself or with your dog to the fullest) was created by Seattle (and the world) legend, the mthrfcking baron of booze, Andrew Bohrer. I can’t recall when said sloshed sensi created it, but he let me put it into the mthrfcking Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz, thereby making that book like a billion times better times a billion times. That’s mthrfcking right. The Bruja Smash is not only the Hulk himself’s favorite all-time drink (and he knows drinks, mthrfckers), but also is highlighted by Italian saffron, mint, and more goodness containing golden-hued liqueur Strega, which is mingled with tequila and a whole bunch of mthrfcking fruity goodness. Perfectly balanced, of course, cause Andrew is a genius. And he currently slings drinks most Sundays at The Doctor’s Office, which is a, dare I say it, mthrfcking awesome spot.

The Bruja Smash

The Bruja Smash

Crushed ice

7 fresh mint leaves

7 fresh raspberries

1½ ounces white tequila

1 ounce Strega

½ ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 mint sprig, for garnish

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with crushed ice. Add the mint leaves, raspberries, tequila, Strega, and lemon juice. Shake really well.

2. Dump the contents of the shaker (no straining here) into a large tulip-style beer glass or other good-sized pretty vessel.

August 14, 2018

Cocktail Talk: Hot Summer, Cold Murder, Part II

Image result for hot summer, cold murderThe memorably-titled, Wichita-based, PI-featuring, crime-and-criminals riddled, mystery and murder-packed pocket-style book Hot Summer, Cold Murder by Gaylord Dodd had too many Cocktail Talk moments to just have one post from it (if you missed Hot Summer, Cold Murder Part I, then please read it now, as it’ll give you more background). I actually like this quote even more than the first, though it doesn’t feature muscatel, our hero’s (hero of sorts, that is) favorite summertime tipple. But the below quote is a fabulous one, summing up a certain type of bar at a certain time period perfectly:

Tom Silver’s big red and white face swam in an ocean of bar glasses hanging from a rack above the bar. He was the perfect bartender. He spoke when spoken to and otherwise stood leaning against the counter with his arms folded across the massive pad of his enormous gut. The drinks he made were clean and when you ordered call-booze you got what you called. When some woman you were with ordered a Gin Fizz or a Gold Cadillac, Tom made it quickly, correctly, and without the condescending leer of the bartender whose only desire is to stir a jigger of whiskey into a six-ounce tumbler with Seven-Up.

“Waddle it be, Mr. Roberts?”
“Old Grandad with water back, please Tom.”
“Yes, sir.”

— Gaylord Dodd, Hot Summer, Cold Murder

June 19, 2018

Cocktail Talk: Park Avenue Tramp

Image result for The Vengeance Man / Park Avenue TrampRecently got my hands on another one of the superb (if you’re into such things, which I hope you are, so we can be friends and all that, though of course we could maybe still be friends even if you aren’t, but it’s not quite as easy) Stark House Noir Classics collections. Often these are collections of out-of-print books by a single author, but in this one, there are three authors from the pulp-y period. All are worthy reads – your favorite is up to you – but the one I’m highlighting here is Park Avenue Tramp, a book by Fletcher Flora (great name, too, and one I hadn’t been acquainted with before) about booze, a dangerous (in a sort-of different way) broad, a piano player, and bleakness in the best way, the way true noir books deliver it. Enough so that I was fairly, oh, downbeat for a moment when finishing this tale. Then I moved on to the next one (which is nice in these collections). A bar plays a central role, too, which is also nice, and where we get the below Cocktail Talk quote from.

She looked at him gravely and decided that he was undoubtedly a superior bartender, which would make him very superior indeed. It might seem unlikely on first thought that a superior bartender would be working in a little unassuming bar that was only trying to get along, but on second thought it didn’t seem unlikely at all, for it was often the little unassuming places that had genuine quality and character and were perfectly what they were supposed to be, which was rare, and it was exactly such a place in which a superior bartender would want to work, even at some material sacrifice. She felt a great deal of respect for this honest and dedicated bartender. She was certain that she could rely on him implicitly.
“Perhaps you can help me,” she said. “In your opinion, what have I been drinking?”
“You look like a Martini to me,” he said.
“Really, a Martini?”
“That’s right. The second you came in I said to myself that you were a Martini.”

–Fletcher Flora, Park Avenue Tramp

January 23, 2018

Cocktail Talk: Made in Miami, Part II

Image result for willeford made in miamiOur trip (we’re taking it together, I feel) through some of the Charles Willeford oeuvre, via Willeford Cocktail Talks, is almost done, and ending with a second from the Floridean funky mess (among other things) Made in Miami, originally called Lust is a Woman, which isn’t actually as good, or as accurate, a title in my mind. You’ll need to read the book to see why! And also read the Made in Miami Cocktail Talk Part I, if you haven’t. You’ll dig it. The below quote isn’t drink specific like many of the Cocktail Talks we have here, but is a great view into bartenders of a certain time period. Or perhaps how some people view or viewed bartenders. You decide.

Ralph sat down on the bench to smoke while he waited for Tommy. Two bald middle-aged bartenders entered the locker room from the back and began to change their clothes. Ralph examined their dour faces with the dawning realization that all of the bartenders he had ever known looked exactly like these two. Not that they were all bad, although most of them were, at that, but their expressions were all alike. All faces, like character actors in the movies; expressive eyebrows, small chins, and large liquid eyes. Ralph pictured these two men later working behind the bar, changing their expression to match the mood of each customer at the busy half-price cocktail hour in the Rotunda Lounge. But right now, in repose, their characterless expressions oddly reminded Ralph of the ex-Presidents born in Ohio.

–Charles Willeford, Made in Miami

February 23, 2016

Drink A Delicious Red October at Seattle’s Liberty

I do a monthly column (along with various other things) for Seattle magazine (sure, you can be jealous), and until recently it was called Bar Hop, and had me chatting about a single new bar in the wondrous city I live within. But now it’s changed up a little, still a single bar, but with the focus lighting a little more on a single cocktail within said bar – and it’s not just new bars anymore, either, and is called (for now, at least) the Bar Method. And for the first one, I visited one of my favorite Emerald City bars of all, Liberty, which is about to celebrate its 10th anniversary! Amiable bartender Laura Bishop was my shaker, and made me a delicious wine cocktail called the Red October. But heck, don’t let me ramble, go read the article now.

December 1, 2015

Interviews with Top Seattle Bartenders

Seattle magazineI was lucky enough recently to work on a big bar-and-cocktail-and-distillery issue of the mighty Seattle magazine, and in said issue (which if you missed, you’ll have to deal with the regret for the rest of your life. Sorry), we had some swell interviews with some of the top local shakers . . . wait, strike that. Top shakers anywhere! However, due to magazine restrictions, and such, the interviews had to be edited down somewhat, as interviews are. But they’re now available for reading in fuller fashion online! You are very lucky. So, don’t miss my recent interviews with these cocktail geniuses, including:

Amanda Reed

Bridget Maloney

Nik Virrey

Joshua Batway

Jesse Poole

Kathleen Manley

Bryn Lumsden

Jay Kuehner

*See all Seattle magazine pieces by me

April 13, 2012

The Happiest Happy Hour Bartenders

Seattle is stocked like a good bar with good bartenders and mixologists and shake-em-up-ers, and ice-crackers, and sturdy stirrers, and bottle-top-twisters, and cocktail cuties, and powerful punchers, and ear-twisting-tipsy-story-telling tippler pourers. Lots of ‘em. I hate to even make a grouping, but if I have to pick a list, let it be one favoring those who both make great drinks and also make the whole bar happier by their presence and person. Which is what I did in my happiest happy hour bartender list (from the new issue of the Seattle Magazine). Because spending a happy hour or six with these five jolly drink slingers is sure to make the day better.

October 20, 2011

Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz: A Cocktail Lover’s Guide to Mixing Drinks Using New and Classic Liqueurs

Yes, I know, I’ve talked lots about the Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz release party that was at the Rob Roy a week or so ago. And I’ve posted a couple drinks from the book, and made a short video about joining the GBVF Army, that talks a bit about the book. But I haven’t given (I don’t think) the book a proper overview here yet, for those who may have missed the party and aren’t quite sure why they need a copy. So, first, a quick overview, and then (second) some fun facts.

 

Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz is designed in a very particular manner. Unlike other numerous classic and modern cocktail tomes available that break out chapters by base spirit (gin, vodka, brandy, whiskey, tequila, and sometimes Champagne), or the fine volumes that are alphabetical by drink, or the other worthy reads (including a few by yours truly) that break chapters out by theme, this book is divided into chapters by flavor profile. By “flavor profile” I’m talking about what the flavor is of a particular liqueur that’s responsible for the personality and taste of a drink. There’s a chapter on A Liquid Citrus Circus, for example, containing recipes highlighted by the vast panoply of fun orange and other citrus liqueurs, and a chapter that reminds you to Take Your Herbal Medicine that contains darker, more intense, herbal liqueurs that are popping up more regularly. There’s also a chapter detailing The Justice League of Vermouths–though they aren’t specifically liqueurs, vermouths and their cousins are also part of the path to joining the GBVF Army–and other flavor specific chapters. By breaking out the chapters in this flavor-oriented way, it makes it easier to plan a party around a few signature drinks as well as easier to find a particular drink matching up with what you’re craving. The idea is to make it a snap for you to pick out a few signature drinks to make any gathering sparkle: from parties of many people to those that are just you and a significant other.

 

Okay, now that you know a bit about the book in general, here are some specific facts you might not know:

 

  • GBVF has over 200 recipes, some lesser-known classics, some from here and there, and a bunch from modern pro-and-home bartenders, including recipes from: Andrew Bohrer, Ed Skoog, Matt Bohlmann, Jeffrey Morgenthaler, LUPEC Boston, Jeremy Sidener, Paul Abercrombie, Meaghan Dorman, Jay Hepburn, Robert Hess, Yuri Kato, Augusto Lino, Kelly, Magyarics, Thad Volger, Kara Newman, Jim Romdall, David Shenaut, Doug Winship, Erik Ellestad, Chantal Tseng, and probably a few others I’m forgetting a will feel bad about later. Look these fine people up and support them.

 

  • There are at least 14 mentions of comic book or comic strip characters, including two Dr. Strange references (to make Neilalien happy) and a whole chapter called The Justice League of Vermouths (to make pal PhiSmi happy).

 

  • There is one current NBA basketballer mentioned (Andrew Bogut) and three past ballers (Gary Payton, Shawn Kemp, and Nate McMillan).

 

  • There are a number of sidebars to help you pick drinks for specific party occasions, including 4 Drinks for Fishing.

 

  • One drink is named after a short short story by the novelist J. Robert Lennon. Guess which one?

 

  • There are 27 Liqueur Spotlights, which go deeper into the taste, history, and personality of individual liqueurs.

 

  • There are two mentions of Tom Waits, and one drink (The Hounds They Start To Roar) named from a Tom Waits lyric. There is also one mention of the little known Kansas City band Shooting Star.

 

  • Perhaps the best Cocktail Talk type quote in the book is from Paul Holt and is on page 208 and reads thusly:

 Perhaps, after all, it is best to stick to Pernod, if the sartorial consequences of imbibing interest you as much as they do me. This if only for the reason that however you start off drinking the stuff, you’re bound to end up more or less naked.

 

  • Perhaps the best quote from the book itself (meaning, written by me) is “Charles H. Baker was the Grand Funk Railroad of his time.”

 

  • There are sidebars pointing to classic cocktail books, favorite new cocktail books, favorite booze blogs, boozy poem quotes, and other ways to stock your literal and electronic libraries.

 

  • Finally, the first drink in the book is the 14 Juillet and the last is the Ti Penso Sempre.

 

Now, you know a bit more about Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz. So, whacha waiting for? Join the GBVF Army today!

 

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