March 27, 2020
So, I was not too long ago in the lovely Italy (in perhaps the loveliest part – to me – northern Umbria), and though much madness was happening (I don’t feel the need to delve deep as you know what I’m talking about, and really, you can get all you want on current worldwide issues elsewhere), was loving it until I had to unexpectedly make the decision to leave. The night before said decision was made, though, to accompany me as I caught up on current worldwide issues, I made a drink that was – if I can say so while being still thought of as a little humble – pretty darn swell. And that drink is this drink, if you know what I mean, called L’Altra Sera.
It started with an Italian gin I’ve mentioned here on the Spiked Punch before, PiùCinque, which boasts a unique and smooth flavor coming from ten botanicals: juniper, sage, ginger root, wormwood flowers, angelica, Seville orange, almond, zedoary, orris root, and bergamot. Altogether, it’s a citrus, herbal, treat. Here, I combined it with another absolute treat (just typing the name makes me salivate), Del Professore Classico vermouth. The fine folks at Del Professore make two other delish vermouths, too (Rosso and Vaniglia), and both are dandy, but let’s stick to Classico here. Made on a Muscat wine base, with herbs and magic things from the hills around Turin, Italy (including gentian, mace, vanilla, cloves, lemon, and more), it has a light but aromatic and flavor-packed nature, and is worthy all on its own over ice, with or without a lemon. But it also plays nice with others, and went especially well with the PiùCinque here.
But not so well that I didn’t bring in a third pal to play with, and I went to a different content for it: Scrappy’s Black Lemon bitters, made in swell Seattle, WA. If you haven’t had this exceptional elixir, you should, as it’s magically in its own right, earthy, citrus-y, amazing. Get it, get the above, and have this not on a last night, but tonight.
2 ounces PiùCinque gin
1 ounce Del Professore Classico vermouth
2 dashes Scrappy’s Black Lemon bitters
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add the gin, vermouth, and bitters, and stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass or comparable, and garnish with that lemon twist. Enjoy the lovely.
February 7, 2020
So, the other day I had an urge for a Garibaldi cocktail, and then I had an urge for a Screwdriver (as one does, on both, when the sun in shining, especially, I feel, when the sun is shining on a chilly day during the winter and surrounding months, which always makes me feel that orange juice would be the treat, fresh orange juice naturally, and both of our previously-named drinks are oj-centric, naturally), and so I went to the refrigerated cabinet and checked the orange supply and, dagnabit, it was low. Not empty, mind you, but darn low. Eh gads! I thought. What am I to do? Well, since I was already thinking of the above two drinks, I made a sort-of of hodge-podge of sorts (in the good hodge-podge way) all on my very own, with just a splash of the orange juice (say that nice and slow), and some other players from those drinks, or close to it. The end result (this very drink) ended up quite lovely, full of flavor, with some fruit, some herb, notes. A swell sipper indeed for a type of day and night as described above.
1-1/2 ounces vodka
1-1/4 ounces Martini Bitter Aperitivo
1/2 ounce freshly-squeezed orange juice
2 dashes Fee Brothers Peach bitters
More ice cubes
Orange wedge, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add everything (except more ice cubes). Shake.
2. Fill a highball or comparable halfway full with other ice cubes. Strain the mix through a fine strainer into the glass and over the ice. Garnish with the wedge. Enjoy, any time of year!
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 13, 2019
I was browsing the small-but-swell Standard Cocktail Guide from Crosby Gaige today, and read this, “In this year of 1944 it behooves the prudent mixer to know his rums. Good whiskey is now scarce and will be scarcer for some time to come while good rum is in plentiful supply.” First off: glad we have so many plentiful options of both rums and whiskey (and other delights) today! Secondly, it still behooves the prudent mixer to know and love rum. Thirdly, I found a delightful little recipe in this Rum section of this delightful little book, one I can’t remember if I’d made before, called The Frank Morgan. So, I wanted to make it again, even though I’m not sure which Frank Morgan it’s named after – though I think it’s the early 19th century actor. Let’s say that!
Anywho, the drink is deceptively simple: rum, sherry, Angostura bitters. But with that simplicity, the rum must be one – it behooves the drink – that really shines. Lucky for me, I recently received a bottle of Bacardi Gran Reserva Especial dark rum in the mail (don’t hate me, be happy for me!). Admittedly, this is a really fine, fine rum, and one that in most situations you’d want to sip solo. I mean, it’s a limited-edition number, aged a minimum of 16 years (!) in American white oak in the Caribbean. You’ll find stone fruits, caramel, a little island forest, and more unveiling as you sip, and an overall lushness that can’t be beat. So, sip solo for sure. But, you know me (right?), I had to try it in a cocktail, too, and this one is ideal, cause the rum really does shine, with just a few other players. Starting with the sherry side, where I went with Williams & Humbert Dry Sack Medium sherry, which has a nice nutty and spice notioning that matched well. Add old pal Angostura, and here we are. Well, almost! Though it’s not in the original recipe from the esteemed (from whatever afterlife bar he’s at) Mr. Gaige, I added a small orange twist. And that burst of citrus was a treat. Both he and Mr. Morgan would approve, I believe.
The Frank Morgan
2-1/4 ounces Bacardi Gran Reserva Especial dark rum
3/4 ounces Williams & Humbert Dry Sack Medium sherry
Dash Angostura bitters
Thin orange twist, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add all but the twist. Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with the twist. Sip, and think about 1944 – and about the bounties in your local liquor store.
November 15, 2019
It’s still fall (though mean ol’ winter is coming on quickly), and fall means to most good people a glorious time to sip ciders, and to most even good-er people, cider cocktails. Cider, cider cocktails, and fall go together like candles in pumpkins, hands in gloves, and kisses in hayracks (well, maybe that should be “on” hayracks but I didn’t want to mess up the line). And WA – where I am lucky enough to reside – has amazing cider, thanks to us having amazing fruit! And amazing cider makers! Who are always making new tantalizing ciders, like Locust Cider’s current seasonal, Dark Maple, which adds maple syrup and brown sugar to an all-WA apple mix, turning into a fall delight. Which then, I added to a few more local heroes, including Woodinville Whiskey Co.’s award-winning bourbon and it’s caramel, spice, swellness, Salish Sea’s memorable and singular maple-icious Maple liqueur, and Scrappy’s Chocolate bitters, full of bakery chocolate and spice. Voila! I’ve made make the end of your fall fantastic. Thank me later. And if you can’t get all the ingredients where you are, then let me assure you, WA is a wonderful place to visit this time of year, so come on out.
The Fall Frolic
1-1/2 ounces Woodinville Whiskey bourbon
3/4 ounces Salish Sea Maple liqueur
2 dashes Scrappy’s Chocolate bitters
7 ounces Locust Cider’s Dark Maple cider
1. Add the bourbon, liqueur, and bitters to a mixing glass. Stir well.
2. Fill a pint glass halfway full with ice cubes. Strain the above into the glass.
3. Fill the glass nearly to the top with the cider. Stir well – but carefully. You don’t want to spill a drop!
November 12, 2019
You know those days when you wake up and think, “you know, I really want to get into an adventure in NYC with a 1950s lawyer who likes his drinks, knows the best bars, also knows the law quite well, is a bit pugnacious while also flirty, and seems to be surrounded by murders,” those kinds of days? You know them? I had one recently, and so of course set myself up with a big dose of books by Hal Masur (aka Harold Q Masur), starring Scott Jordan, the pocket-book-y-est lawyer in the land! I’ve had a fair amount of Hal M. Cocktail Talks, including one from Tall, Dark and Deadly, a sort-of mid-career Jordan rollicker, with a divorce, double talk, drinks, and the tagline “Divorce is messy. Murder is messier.” Indeed! And the below quote, perhaps the only book with the Saratoga cocktail – though a version different then some I’ve seen. Sounds intriguing? Check it out:
String instruments only in the orchestra, no brass, Hazel created a mild stir from the male contingent as we followed the major dee to a corner table. He hovered solicitously, pad ready in his hand.
“Saratoga cocktail,” Hazel told him.
I looked at her curiously. “What’s that?”
“Brandy, bitters, maraschino, and pineapple.”
—Tall, Dark and Deadly, Hal Masur
October 18, 2019
Let’s start with the title inspiration here, and the base of this drink that you’ll want to make all your drink-loving pals, cause it’s serious only in how seriously anyone who has it will love it (the drink, as well as the base), that base being Monkey 47 Schwarzwald Dry Gin. If you haven’t had this gin (what’s up with you?), it brings a lovely smooth juniper-ness swirling on the tongue with citrus, spice, pepper, botanicals, and berries accents on all sides. Also, their website is so darn cool, in an old-timey newspaper style (the Monkey Drum is the name), with articles, information, recipes, neat-o images, and more (they also do a magazine where some of this is available). It is so cool and well done I almost want to see if I can work there. And that level of care of course is also what drives the gin! It’s a gin that needs to shine, and it certainly does so here, in this (as you’ll see!) Martini-esque beaut.
Of course, with a good base, you’ll also want some good other players, and here we have two Washington-state numbers that if you haven’t had, you’ll want to track down. First, Brovo’s Pretty vermouth. A blanc style vermouth, Pretty is, well, pretty, and pretty darn good, with a Pinot Gris wine base and spice, floral, and lemon notes. Then, I added perhaps my favorite ingredient of the year so far, Scrappy’s Black Lemon bitters, which has a unique earthy lemon-ness. Buy why am I still typing – let’s get to this cocktail.
2-1/4 ounces Monkey 47 gin
3/4 ounce Brovo Pretty vermouth
2 dashes Scrappy’s Black Lemon bitters
Lemon twist, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add everything but the twist. Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with the lemon. Be serious (about enjoying the drink, not about things in general, that is).
August 9, 2019
Whiskey (with “e” or not) sometimes – or often – gets short shrift in the summer months, when the temperature is as high as modern hemlines. And I can see the point, a little, as whiskey is deep, dark, strong, and not known as a light-stepper. However! I also feel sad for whiskey, and think that there are many ways to utilize it that get the flavor, and also bring the refresh. Take this drink right here, which is a fruity, friendly, thirst-quencher that you’d be happy to have in the backyard as the sun goes down on an August day – or ever around the pool, if that’s your summertime activity of choice.
It starts with a whiskey that was new to me until recently (when some lovely little bottles showed up at my house – I know, I know, I’m lucky), Tommyrotter Distillery’s Triple Barrel American Whiskey
. If you don’t know them already (and really, you should), Tommyrotter is a distillery from up in Buffalo NY, named after the Tommyrotters’ Club of early 20th century artist types, who (as the website told me), “sought adventure, mischief, and inspiration in nature.” I love that! That’s a good story for sure. Which wouldn’t mean as much if the whiskey wasn’t also good, naturally. A blend of three different whiskeys, which is then finished in French oak ex-wine barrels, this tipple is a very amiable and approachable spirit. It has a caramel and vanilla nature, accented by baking spice, apples (dried and fresh), and hints of herbs and other fruit – a little stone fruit here and there. The nose mirrors that taste, while the finish adds a bit more oak. Smooth! And well worth sipping solo.
But also, due to the approachability, dandy for mixing. Here, I brought in two fruit accents, both because I thought they’d match the whiskey well, and cause it seemed summer-y. To me, at least! First up, Rothman & Winter Orchard apricot liqueur
. A brandy-based liqueur, it boasts a rich, lush, tasty that doesn’t get overwhelmed by cloying sweetness like some. Peach bitters from everyone friends at Fee Brothers
rounds things out with its peach-forward-ness. Finally, some club soda (it is hot out, after all), a bunch of crushed ice I crushed myself (good exercise), and a sprig of mint from the garden. I’ve never really thought of mint, apricot, and peaches, but it’s a delight – when the whiskey is in place to make sure everyone plays nice.
My Final Offer
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with ice cubes. Add the whiskey, liqueur, and bitters. Stir well.
2. Fill a highball or comparable glass with crushed ice (or cracked if needs must). Strain the mix from above into the glass.
3. Top with the club soda. Garnish with the mint. Serve with a straw? I like it, but up to you.