December 22, 2017
Washington State distillers are dreamy (you probably have realized my feelings in this already, as I do go on – but they are awesome!), with so many worthy bottles out already, and more continuing to be released regularly. The latest example? Chambers Bay Straight Bourbon. A follow up to their highly-regarded 20-month aged Greenhorn bourbon, Chambers Bay Straight Bourbon is aged 3-1/2 years, and made from sweet yellow corn and soft white wheat from Grant County, WA, and the distiller’s proprietary wild-yeast strain harvested from a local apple orchard. If that wasn’t enough, though, the real sets-it-apart-thing here is that the aging takes place on a boathouse floating on the Puget Sound – from what I’ve been told, it’s the only whiskey in the world aged that long on the water, where the waves and tides speed up the aging (that’s the theory, at least). End result? A darn tasty tipple, with some nice sweetness from the wheat, and a mingling of sea-salted caramel, toffee, fig, orange, and chocolate.
It’s dandy to enjoy as a solo act, but of course I also wanted to try it in cocktails, and after trying this and then trying that, liked it best in The Hounds They Start to Roar. That drink has a bit of a history, which we won’t get it to too much here (you’ve already read the full story in Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz anyway, right? Right!), but I will remind you that the name comes from a Tom Waits’ song, as do the ingredients, in a way. Said ingredients are bourbon, naturally, but also St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram (the spice flavors contained therein, cinnamon, clove, and others, go wonderfully with the Chambers Bay bourbon mélange), brandy (which helps balance everything out), and Peychaud’s bitters (which adds another herbal tint or two). Together, it’s a drink fit for any sailor, dog lover, song-singer, or person reading this blog, which means you. Take it out for a walk or a sail and see if I’m right.
The Hounds They Start to Roar, from Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz
2 ounces Chambers Bay Straight Bourbon
3/4 ounce St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram
1/2 ounce brandy
2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add the whole bunch of ingredients. Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass or comparable.
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.
March 21, 2017
If you missed Part I of our Cocktail Talk tour through lesser-known (though it should be known) noir classic Black Wings Has My Angel by Elliott Chaze, then I strongly suggest you go read it now. You back? Cool! Here’s our second quote from that darkish crime tome, where main character Tim Sunblade is at a well-named bar drinking an old whiskey.
I drank a Coke in the Tuscany bar on Fifteenth. It tasted like gasoline. I went out and got a newspaper and came back into the Tuscany and sat in a booth with another Coke and the paper. Waiting. Somehow it got to be three o’clock. I bought myself a double I. W. Harper and water and four o’clock came around faster and then I went outside, walking toward the three-story building on Essex, not fast, but not slow, the whisky glowing just right in me.
— Elliott Chaze, Black Wings Has My Angel
March 14, 2017
Is there anything better than discovering a very good book you’ve never heard of, by an author you’ve never heard of? Well, okay, I can think of one or two things better, but that might be it! But then, when you find out said author didn’t really write a lot more, well, then you’re sad. But happy. But sad! But happy! It’s a crazy world, and Black Wings Has My Angel, by Elliott Chaze, is a crazy good noir book, dark, full of passion and crime, and right in the Goodis vein (if you know what I mean, and if you don’t, I mean David Goodis). It’s hard sometimes to like the main hero/heroine here, but also impossible to not keep reading at a rapid pace to see what happens. There’s a heist, a murder, lots of action, lots of strange love, and lots of drinking. Which puts this book perfectly in Cocktail Talk continuum here, so much so that I’m going to have three different posts, with three different quotes, in this very month. Though Mr. Chaze is no longer with us, from whatever afterworld bar he’s at, I’ll bet he’d glad to see his book getting some love on the Spiked Punch – and you’ll be glad if you pick Black Wings Has My Angel and give it a read.
She went into the kitchen and mixed a strong drink. It was almost red with bourbon. She brought it back to the couch and sat down and there was the business of the fringes jiggling all over again. Then after a time she began talking: “Tim, don’t ever be a gentleman again. Like you were out in the yard when I turned the hose on you. It made me want to puke to see you standing there dripping and grinning at me as if I’d done you a favor. For God’s sake don’t turn into a gentleman on me.
— Elliott Chaze, Black Wings Has My Angel
November 4, 2016
Well, you play that tarantella, all the hounds will start to roar
The boys all go to hell and then the Cubans hit the floor
They drive along the pipeline, they tango ’til they’re sore
They take apart their nightmares and they leave them by the door
Let me fall out of the window with confetti in my hair
Deal out Jacks or better on a blanket by the stairs
I’ll tell you all my secrets, but I lie about my past
And send me off to bed for evermore . . .
That’s Tom Waits, friends. Lyrics from the song “Tango ’til They’re Sore,” naturally. The inspiration, that song, and the record it’s on, for this very drink. You’ll need to listen to the whole thing and the whole of Rain Dogs, now. If you weren’t already.
The Hounds They Start to Roar
2 ounces bourbon
3/4 ounce St. Elizabeth’s Allspice Dram
1/2 ounce brandy (Spanish, of course)
2 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with cracked ice. Add the whole bunch of ingredients. Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass or goblet. Sing Tom songs, of course.
September 30, 2016
This, oh, topical drink goes far back for me. I created it for my very first drink book, Party Drinks, way back in 2003. In hindsight, it’s really just mini-variations on about 10,000 other drinks, starting with the whiskey sour and moving forwards, sidewards, and backwards. But I still dig it, and still love calling it the Presidential cause it’s such a boon to election seasons when you sometimes need a drink with a bit of a wallop underlying strong citrus and some sweet to make everything more cuddly.
However, to do it right, you need a bourbon you believe in (hey, I also sound election-y). I had mine this time with WA-state Heritage Distillery’s Duel Barrel Bourbon (which is only available at Total Wine & More, but that store is nearly nationwide, so track it down). It’s aged in charred new American oak barrels first, then in whiskey barrels that have held small batches of pure vanilla extract. As you’d expect, it has some vanilla notes, but not annoyingly so, and also some nice spice and oak. It really mingles well with lime, which surprised me for a second (until remembering that rum, lime’s cocktail partner on many occasions, often also has vanilla happening). Here, it all comes together. Trust me!
You may find this drink helpful over the next month and so. I suggest serving it in a tennis-themed glass, as elections are sometimes, oh, tennis-y as things are batted, knocked, and hit back and forth.
2-1/2 ounces Heritage Distilling Duel Barrel Bourbon
3/4 ounce freshly-squeeze lime juice
1 ounce simple syrup (you could easily go less if you wanted, and older me might even suggest it, however after a big presidential debate, for example, I often feel I deserve the extra sugar)
Lime slice, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with ice cubes. Add the bourbon, juice, and simple. Shake well.
2. Add a good amount of ice cubes, or one or two really large cubes, to an Old Fashioned glass. Strain the mix through a fine strainer over the ice. Garnish, turn off the TV, and drink happily.
February 12, 2016
Hey, young lovers! Do you have your Valentine’s Day drink ready yet? If not, well, did you know you only have two more days to figure it out? Don’t fret though (you’ll get wrinkles). I have you covered, with the Lover’s Moon. It’s smooth, but has a little umph (like all us romantics), and lots of flavor. A swell choice! Trust me.
The Lover’s Moon, from Dark Spirits, Serves 2
3-1/2 ounces bourbon
3 ounces Kahana Royale Macadamia Nut Liqueur
2 ounces heavy cream
2 maraschino cherries for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the bourbon, macadamia liqueur, and cream. Shake well.
2. Add a cherry to each of two cocktail glasses. Strain the mix into the glasses, making sure each gets its full share. Sure, the cherries will vanish for a minute, but like the moon, they’ll reappear.
A Note: Can’t find the luscious Kahana Royale Macadamia Nut Liqueur? You could try this with another nut-based liqueur. Nocino (the Italian green walnut liqueur) would be interesting. It’d be less sweet, but still . . . intriguing. Try it, and let me know!
October 2, 2015
A couple years back as many know, my wife and I loaded up the dogs and we moved to Italy. It was great (of course), and if you want to know more, go to my Italy blog and start at the beginning. But when moving back, I needed a drink to take the sadness down a little, a drink that brought me back while reminding me of the Italian hours. Don’t get me wrong, I was happy to see the Seattle pals and sights and bars I also love. But hey, sometimes coming back is hard, and you need the right drink to accompany it. And this is that drink! Why am I having it again today? Well, October 2nd was the very day we flew out to start our adventure, those years ago.
Welcome Back, Weary Traveler
2-1/2 ounces bourbon (I used the new Woodinville Whiskey Co. Straight bourbon)
1/2 ounce Luxardo Maraschino
1/4 ounce Fernet Branca
Orange twist, for garnish (I like a wider orange twist here)
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ie.
2. Add the bourbon, maraschino, and Fernet Branca. Stir well.
3. Strain into a cocktail glass. Twist the twist and drink as happily as you can manage.