It’s morning, and nearly the beginning of summer, which means I (as I always do) am going to sit myself down and have a Baltimore Bracer and read Thomas Osborne Davis’ “The Sack of Baltimore:”
The summer sun is falling soft on Carbery’s hundred isles,
The summer sun is gleaming still through Gabriel’s rough defiles;
Old Innisherkin’s crumbled fane looks like a moulting bird,
And in a calm and sleepy swell the ocean tide is heard:
The hookers lie upon the beach; the children cease their play;
The gossips leave the little inn; the households kneel to pray;
And full of love, and peace, and rest, its daily labor o’er,
Upon that cosy creek there lay the town of Baltimore.
Well, at least that first stanza. Hmm, I sorta think I may be reading at least one word differently than he meant it.
It’s spring right? I mean, according the calendar and all, spring started way back on the 20th. You’re frolicking right? In a meadow? Please tell me you are frolicking. FROLICKING! It’s spring, after all, when meadows should be begging to be frolicked in, as well as various other springtime spring-y-nesses. If you haven’t started your frolicking engines, then I suggest you drink a couple Ognams. They start the spring frolicking in a perfect way. Try it out – but be sure you have your frolicking clothes on.
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.
Well, it’s nearly Halloween, and that means it’s time for one of the traditions here at Spiked Punch, the one where I drink a Warlock cocktail and turn into a zombie magician of sorts. Oh, the Warlock is a good drink, too, well worthy of your spooky celebrations, with brandy, Strega, limoncello, orange juice, and Peychaud’s bitters. I can’t wait to drink it, consequences be darned. You should take the same stance this October.
I’m not usually a sugar-on-the-rim guy, or a salt, or any of that jazz. Unless it’s done really well. Which it sometimes is! So now I’m contradicting myself. But also sometimes it’s done poorly, with the spice in question all on the inside of the glass and overwhelming the drink’s flavors, instead of complementing them. But once in a while, I do go that route, especially when I’m making a drink that suggests it where the drink is also from Crosby Gaige’s Cocktail Guide and Ladies Companion, my favorite book published in 1941. And if that wasn’t enough, this has a fantastic name. If you can name a drink this swell-ly, then let me know about it, and I will make one of these for you. Really!
1. Put a good helping of sugar (but not a mound or anything) on a saucer. Wet the outside rim of a Champagne flute (I used a lemon slice, but you could also rotate it through water on a saucer–just don’t get any water in the glass). Carefully rotate the outside rim of the glass through the sugar–but you don’t want to get any sugar on the inside. No, no, not a grain. So, be careful.
2. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add the brandy, curaçao, and bitters. Stir well.
I am, admittedly, about 18 days late here, as first president Washington’s birthday is Feb. 22nd. But I’ve never thought one should only honor the father of our country with a drink on that particular day (December 14, the day he passed away, is another good one), and for that matter, feel there’s not one particular drink to have, either. Another good one, for example, is the Washington’s Wish (in Dark Spirits if you want to know more). And I’ll bet there are others called just Washington too, as it seems a good name for a drink. This one is a good one, though it can be tough, as it’s very vermouth forward, so you need a good vermouth, first off. I used Dolin, which is reliable, tasty, and something one should always have around the house. Then, you need a super brandy, since it’s lower in volume than the vermouth – it needs to stand up a bit. I used Lepanto Solera Gran Reserva Brandy de Jerez (which showed up in the mail, to be honest), the only brandy to be produced entirely in Jerez. It’s nearly too swell for mixing (and great on its own), but hey, sometimes you gotta say “why not?” Aged in American oak barrels once used for sherry for 15 years, it has a nutty and spice taste, with strong wood notes, that go amazingly with the vermouth. This is one fine cocktail, friends, and worthy of the historic personage it’s named after – even when had a little later than expected.
You know this, because you’re a regular reader: I love books by Anthony Trollope. I believe there are more Trollope Cocktail Talk posts than any other type. So, I’m not going to go in deep into the whys and such here (go read the older posts, if you’ve missed any, which you probably haven’t, because you’re a regular reader). Here, instead, we’re diving in quick to a quote from Sir Harry Hotspur of Humblethwaite, a shorter, lesser-known Trollope sparkler. Actually, though it sparkles in some ways, it’s also probably one of the top five most-depressing-ending Trollope books. Still worth a read, but don’t expect it to be all smiles once that last page is turned. Maybe you’ll even need a drink?
Early on the morning after George’s return he was run to ground by Mr. Boltby’s confidential clerk, at the hotel behind the club. It was so early, to George at least, that he was still in bed. But the clerk, who had breakfasted at eight, been at his office by nine, and had worked hard for two hours and a half since, did not think it at all early. George, who knew that his pheasant-shooting pleasure was past, and that immediate trouble was in store for him, had consoled himself over-night with a good deal of curaçoa and seltzer and brandy, and had taken these comforting potations after a bottle of Champagne. He was, consequently, rather out of sorts when he was run to ground in his very bedroom by Boltby’s clerk.
– Anthony Trollope, Sir Harry Hotspur of Humblethwaite
This is the day before Halloween, Halloween, Halloween, everybody make a Warlock, drink it down till the neighbors gonna die of delight; it’s your drink, everybody scream, on the day before Halloween.
Okay, as you know, every year near Halloween I do three things – sing the above song, have a Warlock (made with brandy, Strega, limoncello, orange juice, and Peychaud’s bitters), and turn into a zombie magician. This year is no different.
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