May 18, 2018
When a bottle shows up at your door wearing a sort-of a leather sheath, stitched up the back like a very cool (and very tough) boot, and having a grinning bronzed skull bottle topper, first, you very safely, very slowly, and maybe a little clandestinely, peek outside the door to ensure it wasn’t delivered by someone a bit more menacing then the local postal person. If it wasn’t, then (if you’re me), you take a sip.
If (again, if you’re me) it was a bottle of Padre Azul Reposado tequila, you don’t get the burn or serious kick you might expect from said presentation (though really, it’s a shout out to Mexican Day of the Dead culture), but instead a smooth, layered, sipping tequila, made by hand from 100 percent select blue agave, and aged for eight months in French oak casks. The flavor unfolds beautifully on the tongue, too, with a swirl of vanilla, a little nuttiness, a light herbal-ness, and a hint of smoke. Really, it’s one to have neat or over ice, at least to begin with.
If (a third time) you’re me, however, you can’t resist trying even a tequila or other spirt this fine in a cocktail. At first, because of the leather-jacketing-and-skull-grinning, I thought I’d go the more hard core route, and bring in some serious heat. But then, thanks to that vanilla and other notes, my brain exploded in another direction entirely – chocolate. I actually think tequilas of the right kind make a nice match with chocolate, and here, it’s a lush pairing. A little Cointreau made another swell attendee. I couldn’t completely let go of the spice idea, but wanted it clean and crisp and not annoying, and in that situation only Scrappy’s Firewater habanero tincture will do. One more magical ingredient – Bittermens Xocolatl Mole bitters, which somehow brings all of the other ones together – and we have a dessert drink fit for a king, no matter what they’re wearing.
2 ounces Padre Azul Reposado tequila
1/2 ounce crème de cacao
1/2 ounce Cointreau
1 dash Scrappy’s Firewater tincture
1 dash Bittermens Xocolati mole bitters
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with cracked ice. Add everything. Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Enjoy, sweets.
January 26, 2018
Funny, that this drink is mixed, with the title and all! But really, said title is from Pickwick (Pickwick Papers, I mean), and you know it goes so well, in a way, as this drink is very happy – and you will be, too, when drinking it. And by starting the year, more or less, with some happiness (we’re still new to the year, I feel), then you’ll continue along the same lines. Aw, but I’m rambling a little, as I’m prone to do, any time of the year. The real important notes here are Scrappy’s unmissable Black Lemon bitters, named for the spice used in Middle Eastern cooking, two vermouths, dry and the sweeter-and-lighter blanc, and a base of local Kur gin. Drink up – happiness awaits.
A Moment of Unmixed Happiness
1-3/4 ounces Kur gin
3/4 ounces dry vermouth
1/2 ounce Dolin blanc 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 twist.
September 8, 2017
I recently posted a delicious Italian-inspired drink on the Spiked Punch called The Translation of Giuliana Monti, which I made up for a wonderful night of literature, laughs, and liquid libations. The night centered around the jolly and masterful writer Andrew Sean Greer’s newest, entitled LESS, a book you must buy (I talk about it more in that earlier post, which you should go read, and then you should go read LESS, and now you’re back), and during said night we chatted, joked, took questions, read from the book (well, Andy did), and drank two drinks came up for for the occasion and named after characters in the book.
This one, the second, is called Arturo’s Hairy Hands, named for the main character’s tour guide in Mexico City, and is a rare beast in that it has two base spirits. Savor it while savoring LESS and be a happy reader and drinker.
Arturo’s Hairy Hands
1-1/2 ounces Woodinville Whiskey Co. bourbon
1 ounce Maguey mezcal with agave syrup
1/2 ounce Alessio sweet vermouth
1 dash Bittermen’s Xocolati mole bitters
Orange twist, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with ice cubes. Add everything but the orange with your hands. Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with the orange twist. Sip and read. Sip and read.
November 20, 2015
Sometimes, you can both help out and enjoy yourself – and this is one of those times! As we’re in the season for giving, I wanted to whip up a drink that in itself helped out a cause I believe is a good one, and Snow Leopards at Dawn is that drink. It starts with Snow Leopard vodka, which is the world’s first vodka made from Spelt grain, a rarer grain, and one grown without pesticides and such. Spelt (plus natural spring water) gives the vodka its taste, too, which is crisp, clear, and slightly nutty. All cool stuff! But even cooler is that 15% of all profits from the vodka are given directly to Snow Leopard conservation projects through the Snow Leopard Trust. That’s awesome! Snow Leopards are endangered, and can use the help. All of which leads to having the below cocktail. Drink up, help out. That’s a pretty darn swell combination.
Snow Leopards at Dawn
2 ounces Snow Leopard Vodka
1 ounce Pierre Ferrand dry orange curaçao
2 dashes Regan’s orange bitters
1/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the vodka, curaçao, bitters, and juice. Shake well.
2. Strain through a fine strainer into a cocktail glass. Drink up.
November 6, 2015
I’m not sure why this sort-of Manhattan-on-a-island cousin (which I first saw in Here’s How: A Round-the-World Bar Guide, Signet, 1957–not the Here’s How cocktail book with wooden covers) isn’t better known. Made with the right rum and right vermouth, it’s a should-be classic. And delicious.
In my case recently (and in what should be your case, if you can make it happen), the right rum was the memorable Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva rum. Holy cow, this is a rum! From Venezuela, distilled from molasses in a copper pot still, and aged for 12 years, really, it’s a sipper in most cases. However! If you are bold, and let it shine as the main player in a cocktail like this (not overwhelmed by too many ingredient), well, feel darn special cause that’ll be a great cocktail (speaking of special, this rum arrived to me via the mail. Don’t be mad). It’s won like 20 awards, and has a serious aroma: caramels, nutmeg, nuts, allspice, hints of orange, vanilla, and more. And all of those aromas come out smooth into the slightly sweet, but nowhere near sickly, taste, with even more spices. Yummy.
Picking the sweet vermouth for the below recipe was tough, due to wanting to really find something that went with that fantastic rum. I decided on La Quintinye Vermouth Royal rouge, made with 28 spices, plants, and magical items (like all vermouths), on a base of white wines, interestingly enough, and Pineau des Charentes Rouge, and it was an ideal decision. The vermouth’s flavor also has some vanilla notes, and fruit and spice, which is why it mingles so well with the rum. Try it – you can thank me later.
The Sir Henry Morgan, recipe from Dark Spirits
2 ounces Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva rum
1 ounce picked La Quintinye Vermouth Royal rouge
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with cracked ice. Add the rum, vermouth, and bitters, and stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Get your thanks ready.
March 24, 2015
I introduced you to the book Martinis and Murder by Henry Kane (originally titled, A Halo for Nobody, by the way, which is nowhere near as good) in an earlier post, and promised, much like old Jacob Marley, that we’d have three different quotes from the book. And here’s the second!
‘Now,’ she said and she produced rye and bitters and cherries and olives and gin and two kinds of vermouth, dry and sweet, and then she backed up against a table and put her hands behind her and clasped the edge of the table and watched me, her body tight against her dress.
I mixed drinks. And set them up on the washtub and I looked at her and she didn’t move and I looked again and I don’t know which of us was breathing more heavily.
–Henry Kane, Martinis and Murder
November 21, 2014
This bubbly beaut is ideal all through the fall holidays – a time which is, also, surprise, surprise, owl time. But the drink (as opposed to the feathered friend) is also bursting with some fall flavors: cranberries, bubbly, juniper, and, cherries. Okay, the latter may be pushing it, but as someone with a cherry tree, I tend to have them more in the fall after the harvest in the summer. Here, too, the cherry is represented by the Old Ballard Liquor Co.’s amazing Cherry Bounce, which is good anytime. The cranberries come in thanks to the Fee Brothers bright cranberry bitters, the juniper from our old friend gin (here, I went with Voyager gin), and the bubbly from Valle Calda Prosecco DOC (Prosecco being the wonderful Italian sparkling wine). The Valle Calda DOC is slightly fruity with a dandy effervescence, like an owl with a really serious hoo, hoo. It all adds up to a wonderful drink.
The Owl’s Wink
1 ounce Voyager gin
3/4 ounce Cherry Bounce
3 dashed Fee Brothers Cranberry bitters
3 ounces chilled Valle Calda Prosecco DOC
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add the gin, Cherry Bounce, and bitters. Stir well.
2. Strain into a flute glass or any glass with an owl on it. Add the Prosecco. Stir, carefully, working to combine all ingredients.
A Note: If your Prosecco isn’t chilled enough, feel free to add an ice cube or frozen cranberries at the end.
March 5, 2012
Those who known me well (or who have ever met me, or ever read this blog, cause honestly, I’m somewhat of an open book, and have been known to go along and along and along a bit, even though you may have a hard time beliving that now) know that I spent my formative drinking years, if not my formative cocktail-creating years, in Kansas. Which may lead you to hypothizing that this particular mix was monikered after the big city in northeastern corner of that state. But, mysteriously, it’s not. Hah! And neither is it named after the ingredients (which include scotch, some homemade cherry hazelnut bitters, and superstar and super-misprounced Italian sweet vermouth Carpano Antica). Hah! Instead, it’s named after two separate gentlemen. First, a fella named Ken who writes the Price Family Farms blog (when he has time and sunshine) and who created those homemade bitters alluded to just two sentences before this one. And secondly, a fella named Callanan (first name Dave, but don’t stalk him or anything). They both seemed to need strong drinks, and while at least the latter, Dave, strays more towards beer (don’t hold it against him as he’s still quite rad), I figured neither would turn down having a drink that boasted a serious wallop of blended scotch with the edges slightly sanded by the stitch-sweet and herbally Carpano and the also-a-hint-cuddly-but-boastin -nutty-goodness-bitters named after them. Who, in their right mind, in Kansas or anywhere else would turn that down though? No-one in their right mind, that’s who.
2 ounce blended scotch (I’ve been enjoying the famous Famous Grouse here)
1 ounce Carpano Antica
2 healthy dashes cherry hazelnut bitters
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add all the ingredients. Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass.
A Note: Want your own cherry hazelnut bitters? Well, go on over to Price Family Farms and beg for the recipe.
A Second Note: Feel this absolutely has to have a garnish? Try a really good brandied or whiskied cherry if you can find one.