September 2, 2022

What I’m Drinking: The Americano

Is today, the 2nd of September, the ideal time to drink an Americano (the Italian stalwart and precursor, perhaps, to the now, perhaps, better-known Negroni, a drink, the Americano, which used to be known itself as the child of the Milan-Torino, or Milano-Torino, which boasted Campari and Punt e’ Mes vermouth, sometimes other vermouths, perhaps, but skipped the soda, which itself was added and then the trio, Campari, Punt e’ Mes, soda, became a favorite of American servicemen, and then became the Americano), the very moment when one should drink this drink? Perhaps! I say so due to the fact that while it’s refreshing with the ice and the soda and the bubbles, making it good-or-more-than-good when the sun’s out, it also has those lovely rich herbal-and-bitter-and-botanical notes from the Campari and vermouth. Those notes point to the fact that fall, and then, always, winter are coming no matter the sun. So, to me, this Friday, the 2nd, seems to straddle those moments in a way, much like the drink can straddle the seasons, in taste, sure, but also in feeling. Drinks are about more than just taste, after all.

americano

The Americano

 

Ice cubes

2 ounces Campari

2 ounces Punt e’ Mes sweet vermouth

Chilled club soda

Orange slice, for garnish

 

1. Fill a highball glass three-quarters full with ice cubes. Add the Campari and vermouth. Stir gently.

 

2. Add club soda to the glass until the glass is almost full. Garnish with an orange slice.

 

 

July 8, 2022

What I’m Drinking: The Rosita with DE-NADA Reposado Tequila

Here is something I learned recently:  nearly 80% of the tequila brands sold in the U.S. have additives, things to add sweetening or alter coloring or change up the natural taste. I mean, I knew that additives like caramel for example have been used for, well, ever (or a long time) to change up certain aspects of whiskey or what-have-you, but for some reason never thought this extended in general to tequila. I mean, obviously (by taste alone) you can tell that chemicals are in certain boozes, including tequilas. But just didn’t realize the reach. Until recently, about the same time I was lucky enough to have a little DE-NADA tequila show up in the mail (lucky me!). A newer brand to me, DE-NADA tequilas are confirmed additive free – which means taste, coloring, everything, is coming from the natural ingredients in the tequilas, and the time-honored processes used to make real tequila. Neat! They make both blanco and reposado tequilas (both at a fifth-generation tequila distillery in Jalisco), and while the blanco is a treat – smooth and bright on the tongue, with some fruit notes, peach, grapefruit, and some herbal notes, anise, mint, a hint of pepper at the finish – when I was craving a Rosita, I went with the reposado.

The Rosita (you probably know this, being in the know, but just in case), is a relation in a way to the Negroni. Not, to me, a sibling, but at least a cousin. As well as a cousin to various other drinks served over ice that have spirit + vermouth + something else. The something else here is Campari, and hence the Negroni connection. Oh, though, there are both sweet and dry vermouths – that makes it a cousin only. And also extra bitters (which maybe means, second cousin). But it has a little of that memorable Campari-sweet-bitter-ness (which I love, so much), even though there is less here, allowing the tequila to shine. I feel to stand up to a party properly with the Campari and vermouths, that slightly deeper reposado is needed – and the DE-NADA Reposado shines in the drink. It’s, like the bianco, smooth, very smooth, but the flavor leans nuttier, with almonds and vanilla (okay, a bean, but nut-like), mingling with toasted oak and caramel, roasted agave, and hints of cinnamon, mellowing out buttery at the finish. Yummy! And goes really well with the vermouth, and the bitter-ing undertones. The Campari, too, which might seem an odd pairing at first, but trust me, the end result is lovely summer drink to savor.

rosita

The Rosita

 

Cracked ice

1-1/2 ounce DE-NADA Reposado tequila

1/2 ounce Campari

1/2 ounce sweet vermouth

1/2 ounce dry vermouth

Dash Angostura bitters

Ice cubes

Orange twist, for garnish

 

1. Fill a mixing glass or cocktail shaker halfway full with cracked ice. Add everything, except the ice cubes! Stir well.

2. Add some ice cubes – about halfway – to an Old Fashioned or comparable glass. Strain the mix from Step one over the cubes and into the glass. Garnish with the orange twist.

May 20, 2022

What I’m Drinking: Lucien Gaudin

En garde! This fencing (or sword-fighting, if you’re using, say, broadswords) drink is a well-balanced (on the balls of the feet, I suppose, if drinks had feet) number, with gin just taking the first position slightly, and then an equality of Cointreau, Campari, and dry vermouth providing the support, with a hint of orange the shining point (if I can drag out the metaphor). Altogether, a lot of herb-botanical-citrus goodness happening, and a cocktail that is fitting for late spring or late fall, one you can serve happily at happy hours and garden parties, and one with just enough of a story to entertain (named as it is after a famous Olympic fencer) but not so much of one to become a bore. And, really, sipping it is much finer than any sort of fight, even a mock one.

lucien-gaudin

 

Lucien Gaudin

 

Cracked ice

1 ounce gin

1/2 ounce Cointreau

1/2 ounce Campari

1/2 ounce dry vermouth

Orange twist, for garnish

 

1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add the gin, Cointreau, Campari, and dry vermouth. Stir well.

 

2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with the orange twist.

May 6, 2022

What I’m Drinking: The Pensiero

Last week I went on and on about brunching and brunch season and brunch drinks and then put down the recipe for a new brunch drink Good Morning Sunshine, and all of that and you know what? Not one of you invited me to brunch. Well, my dog Ainsley did, but she’d eat all the time if it was up to her, hahaha! So, just for that, here’s another brunch drink, one from an old (but still bubbly, if I may be so bold) book of mine called, simply enough, Champagne Cocktails, said drink being called The Pensiero (which is Italian for “thought” making this drink “The Thought” which is just so deeply silly), and as you’d expect one influenced by Italy and featuring delicious Italian stalwarts Punt e’ Mes vermouth and Campari, as well as fancy frizzante ruby-esque red wine Brachetto d’Acqui (a brunch treat if ever there was one). Now, I’m just gonna sit here and wait for my invitations.

 pensiero

The Pensiero, from Champagne Cocktails

 

Ice cubes

1 ounces freshly squeezed orange juice

3/4 ounces Punt e Mes

1/2 ounce Campari

1/2 ounce Simple Syrup

Chilled Brachetto d’Acqui

Lemon twist, for garnish

 

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the orange juice, Punt e Mes, Campari, and simple syrup. Shake thoughtfully.

 

2. Strain the mixture through a fine strainer into a flute glass. Top with Brachetto d’Acqui. Garnish with the lemon twist.

 

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September 3, 2021

What I’m Drinking: The Stoni

Strawberry season is super swell, sweet some might say! Heck, I might have said it not so far back in Spiked Punch history when extolling the virtues of the homemade strawberry liqueur I made, Strawcurranterry, also not so far back. When it rains strawberries up this way, it really pours (if I may stretch metaphors to the breaking point of sense), and so not only did I make said liqueur, but also tossed some fresh-picked-by-my-own-hand strawberries into other big jars with other tasty things – including gin! I didn’t alter the concoction any further than that, though, just took 2 cups of Sipsmith London Dry gin and added it to 2 cups muddled strawberries, and then let them get acquainted for about a month, afterwhich I strained it through cheesecloth and voila! Strawberry gin. Delicious, by the way, over ice on its own. But also delicious in cocktails, including The Stoni. The clever among you (which is all of you, as I’m sure anyone who reads this is clever) will probably guess that The Stoni is perhaps a Negroni, made with said strawberry-infused gin, and you’d be right! I felt that calling it a “Strawberry Negroni” violated all my diatribes about creative naming of drinks, but did want to reference the antecedent, as nothing else has changed (outside of the garnish). So, it’s not overly strawberry-y, and still carries the Negroni balance and beauty. But altered with fruity undertones that add a hint of summer and orchard or fruit farm. Interesting? Yes! Delicious? Indeed! Easy, and worthwhile, provided you have good fresh strawberries and a month to spare? Darn tooting.

 stoni

The Stoni

 

Cracked ice

1-1/4 ounces strawberry-infused Sipsmith London Dry gin

1-1/4 ounces Mancino Rosso vermouth

1-1/4 ounces Campari

Ice cubes

Strawberry slice, for garnish

 

1. Fill a mixing glass or cocktail shaker halfway full with cracked ice. Add our trio of boozes. Stir well.

 

2. Fill an Old Fashioned or comparable glass halfway full with ice cubes. Strain the mix from Step 1 into the glass. Garnish with the strawberry slice.

July 16, 2021

What I’m Drinking: Negroni with The London Nº1 Gin, Mancino Vermouth, and Campari

Ah, the Negroni. You kids probably won’t believe this, but I remember way back when when I had to describe to even good, reliable, knowledgeable, wonderful bartenders how to make a Negroni, what was in it, soup to nuts, as they say. And now there are probably 348,651 variations, many of which are happy to use the name, or some bastardization of such, attached to a drink that might not have much if anything to do with the original. But hey, people, you be you. I may bemoan the lack of naming creativity, but certainly won’t turn down a good drink no matter the name. But, as a classic song told us, ‘there ain’t nothing like the real thing, baby.” So, today, we’re taking it classically, in the one configuration that really deserves the name: Gin, Italian (or rosso, or sweet) vermouth, Campari, over ice, with a … lemon peel? Well, I somehow was out of orange, which I’d normally go with. So, I myself have now undercut the above sentences, in a way. Let’s pretend this never happened, and instead talk about The London Nº1 gin, which I’m using here. Pale-blue tinged with juniper, savory, bergamot, licorice, lemon and orange peel, cinnamon, iris root (which I believe delivers that blue-ness in coloring), and more used in the making, and based on a spirit made from English wheat. Together, they deliver an earthiness the smooths into citrus and floral notes in an enticing manner. Our next component: Mancino Rosso vermouth. They themselves say that this vermouth is of “exceptional quality and refined organoleptic characteristics,” and as “organoleptic” is my new favorite word, I couldn’t agree more. 38 aromatic herbs combining into a lush mixture that delivers spice, sweet, forest-at-dusk-with-flirty-druids-dancing notes (helped along by vanilla, rhubarb, juniper, toasted wood, myrrh, cloves, cinnamon, orange peel, and the like). And then, Campari. What can you say about something that, if it wasn’t in the world, the world would feel lacking at a spiritual level? Nothing does the love that is Campari justice. Just know that without it, birds would stop singing and bunnies stop hopping. I am very excited for this Negroni. You will be, too. Heck, you’ll even want to give me a hand when you have it.

negroniThe Negroni

 

Cracked ice

1-1/4 ounces The London Nº1 gin

1-1/4 ounces Mancino Rosso vermouth

1-1/4 ounces Campari

Ice cubes

Lemon twist (or orange, if you have one)

 

1. Fill a mixing glass or cocktail shaker halfway full with cracked ice. Add our trio. Stir well.

 

2. Fill an Old Fashioned or comparable glass halfway full with ice cubes. Strain the mix from Step 1 into the glass. Garnish with the twist.

June 18, 2021

What I’m Drinking: Summer Dream

Well, honestly, this one sells itself: summer starts in two days. This tangy-but-umphy-but-herbally-but-a-smidge-sweet-but-fruity-but-bitter-in-a-good-way-but-delicious drink is called Summer Dream. This recipe serves 2, because summer isn’t a season to spend alone. And this base spirit, bourbon, is a fine base for a drink, even in summer no matter what anyone says. Finally, fruit. So, I don’t know that I need to say anymore, cause I’d just get in the way of you making this drink, and also get in the way of my making one.

summer-dream

Summer Dream, from Dark Spirits, Serves 2 (because of reasons mentioned above)

 

3 orange slices

2 peach slices

Ice cubes

4 ounces bourbon

2 ounces Campari

1 ounce simple syrup

1 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice

 

1. Add the orange and peach slices to a cocktail shaker. Using a muddler or wooden spoon, muddle well.

2. Fill the cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the bourbon, Campari, simple syrup, and lemon juice. Shake really well, if a little wistfully, for at least 15 seconds.

3. Strain the dream through a fine strainer equally into two cocktail glasses.

November 20, 2020

What I’m Drinking: Far More Red

You know, 2020 hasn’t been overly-packed with good days. There have been some, I’m sure and I’m hoping, for everyone, some big-ish good days, and some small-ish good days, even within it all. I had one recently when some bubbly showed up here, which made the day more, well, bubbly. It was also bubby from Italy (you know I love Italy, right?), specifically Trentodoc sparkling wine – Trentodoc being from the Trentino region, which is in the far north of Italy, a mountain-alp-y region, one which also has some Mediterranean-ness on the lower slopes. I’ll admit that’s not the Italian area I know best, but after tasting the sparkling wine from there, I need to know more! Made in the Meted Classico, or classic method, Trentodoc sparklers are also made from picked-by-hands Trentino grapes. Sounds yummy, right? But the proof is in the bottle, as the saying goes, and the one I’m popping off now is Maso Martis Extra Brut Rose.

Starting with its pale pink-y coloring, and enticing effervescence, it’s a wine you’ll want to drink as you pour – which is what you want, right? The taste (pino nero grapes, if you’re interested) has a berry-centric-ness, raspberries, strawberries, and then some currants, with a few delicate herbal notes, too, and a creamy nature ideal for a sunny day, a date night around the appetizer course, or, really, almost anytime. It’s also a swell base for cocktails. Well, you wouldn’t think I wouldn’t try it in a cocktail, right? I do so love bubble mixes, and with a flavorsome rose like this, I had to see how it’d play with others. Starting with another delicious number (and by some crazy occurrence also showed on the porch), but from closer to US home: Clear Creek Pear brandy. Made with Bartlett pears grown in OR (where Clear Creek is), it has a phenomenal pear nature, from the small to the lingering pear echoes, while still maintaining a warming brandy undercurrent. Then, I traveled back to Italy (to help the wine feel at home), with bitter and beautiful classic Campari – which not only adds layers of taste, but a rich redness, which is further underlined by our last ingredient, homemade grenadine. Altogether, what a drink! Refreshing but bursting with delights, and one the showcases and perfectly utilizes the wine and brandy. Dive in.

far-more-red

Far More Red

 

Ice cubes

1 ounce Clear Creek Pear brandy

1/2 ounce Campari

1/2 ounce homemade grenadine (see grenadine recipe here, in the Note section)

3-1/2 ounces Maso Martis Extra Brut Rose sparkling wine

 

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the brandy, Campari, and grenadine. Shake it.

 

2. Strain the mix from Step 1 into a Champagne flute or comparable glass. Top with the bubbly. Stir carefully to combine. Enjoy.

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