September 16, 2022

What I’m Drinking: Good Luck In Pisticci

It’s the middle of September! Hard to believe my friends. Time, it flies by like a flock of Peregrine Falcons (meaning: fast)! Not only are we in the back half of 2022, but we are also nearing October, which for me means fall trips to Italy (I hope for you, too), and truffles, and pasta, and art, and well, you know. It also means Italian drinks, wines, limoncellos, grappas, Italian beers, and of course amari. It’s funny, in a time flying way, and in a “sometimes things do change for the better” way, how many more of the latter, the amari (and other digestif-y and aperitif-y Italian brothers and sisters, not the grappas, sadly), are available now in the US than when I first made this here drink, Good Luck in Pisticci, like 7 years ago. Amari explosion! And if you expand that time frame (short in the overall realm of time) to the first time I went to Italy when I had my first amaro (I believe it was Montenegro), like 25ish years ago, well, it’s a big bang style explosion! An herbal, bitter and bittersweet, and lovely explosion!

Without which, I couldn’t make this drink, itself herbally rich and flavorful, but also citrus-y, bubbly, and jolly, in a way! It leans heavily on a particular amaro, Amaro Lucano created in 1894 by cookie baker Pasquale Vena (an aside: amari and chocolate chip cookies are a pleasant pairing) using an herbs and spices. Eventually, it became the sipper of choice to ancient ruling family the House of Savoy, which is neat, and it’s swell to sip solo, but also swell here with a few WA ingredients, Kur gin (delicious – read more of me talking about it) and Scrappy’s Grapefruit bitters (if you aren’t aware of how awesome Scrappy’s bitters are, then you have a wonderful future finding out), and classic orange stalwart Grand Marnier, and soda, and mint. Good Luck indeed!

lucky-in-p

Good Luck In Pisticci

 

1-1/2 ounces Kur gin

3/4 ounce Amaro Lucano

1/2 ounce Grand Marnier

2 dashes Scrappy’s Grapefruit bitters

Ice cubes

4 ounces chilled club soda

Mint sprig

 

1. Add the gin, Lucano, Grand Marnier, and Scrappy’s to a mixing glass. Stir well.

2 Fill a highball or comparable glass three-quarters full with ice cubes. Pour the mix from step 1 into the glass over the top.

3. Top with soda water. Stir briefly. Garnish with the mint sprig.

 

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 15, 2022

What I’m Drinking: Fear No More The Heat O’ The Sun

Here in Seattle, WA, our summer so far has been a fairly mild one, with just a few hot days, and no scorchers. But I know in some parts it’s beyond sweltering, and dangerously hot here and there, so I know summer is here and with it the need for fruity, rich, flavorful, bubbly mixes, which leads me to bringing back this fav from a few years ago. Now, don’t take its title too literally, as drinking one of these does not mean you should brave a hot hot hot day without the appropriate sun protection, from lotions to big hats to water to ac. But at least, this combo of deliciously Diplomático rum, summerific Sidetrack Strawberry liqueur, fresh oj (you don’t want scurvy anytime, but especially not when it’s hot), Fee Brothers peachy-keen Peach bitters for another fruit layer, simple syrup to add sweetness to the heat, and club soda to bubbly it up, at least this combo will help the hot days taste better, and balance the blasting heat a tasty bit.

fear--no-more

Fear No More The Heat O’ The Sun

 

Ice cubes

1-1/2 ounces Diplomático Mantuano rum

1/2 ounce Sidetrack Distillery Strawberry liqueur

1/2 ounce freshly squeezed orange juice

Dash Fee Brothers Peach bitters

1/2 ounce simple syrup

4 ounces chilled club soda

 

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add everything but the soda. Shake well.

2. Fill a highball or comparable glass with ice cubes. Strain the mix from Step 1 through a fine strainer into the glass.

3. Top with the club soda. Stir, but not mightily, but in a manner that brings everything together.

June 3, 2022

What I’m Drinking: Fuori Pista

This treat at first glance may not seem super June-y, if you just look at the first few ingredients: red wine, and the herbally Amaro Lucano (which, by the by, has been around since 1894 when cookie baker [!!] Pasquale Vena crafted it with a secret mix of herbs and spices, bitters and sweeters; it’s also been the house drink since 1900 of the House of Savoy if that floats your ice cubes). But look deeper, summertime drink seeker, and you will see that there is a bubbly helping of chilled club soda, along with made-here-in-WA (but even if you don’t live here, you should have a bottle) Sidetrack Blackberry liqueur, the embodiment of summer in a way (that way being traced to blackberries – very summery in my mind – and here said blackberries are grown on the same farm where the liqueur is made). There’s ice, too! Altogether, this is a drink that can, and will, and is to, be beloved in summer, but one with some underlining deep, rich, notes mingling with fruit and summer’s fanciful notions. A yummy one, you’ll see!

Fuori-Pista

Fuori Pista

 

Ice cubes

2 ounces dry red wine

1 ounce Amaro Lucano

1/2 ounce Sidetrack Blackberry liqueur (from right here in WA)

3 ounces chilled club soda

 

1. Fill a goblet or other glass (a highball works) three quarters full with ice cubes.

 

2. Add the wine, Amaro Lucano, and Sidetrack Blackberry. Stir briefly.

 

3. Add the club soda. Stir again, briefly. Enjoy the sunshine.

 

April 1, 2022

What I’m Drinking: Lillet Rouge and Tonic (No Fooling!)

I mean no disrespect at all to my old friend gin-and-tonic (with whom I’ve shared many a fine morning, afternoon, and evening, and with whom I plan to spend many more), but I hope in today’s modern drinking age (which should be the name of a magazine, just saying), with our influx of better tonics (and many bottles items), that drinkers are expanding their horizons and sipping other-things-and-tonic, too. Especially as we roll into springtime with eyes all bright and sunshine all jaunty in the sky during more and more days, expanding your things-and-tonic list provides a nice range of refreshing flavorful sippers. Take example A: the Lillet Rouge and Tonic I’m drinking as I type. First, let me say that I think Lillet Blanc and Lillet Rose would both be dandy with tonic, too. But today it’s Lillet Rouge. Like all Lillets, it’s a French-wine-based aperitif (here it’s Merlot and Cab Sav), one with deep ripe fruit (dark berries, orange, a little cherry) notes accented by vanilla spice and just a whisper of bitter. For the tonic side of things, I’m a proponent of tonic syrups when available (I like the rich flavors and ability to control the amount), and went with locally-made-in-WA &Tonic tonic syrup, which has a lovely citrus panache (it’s made from hand-zested organic limes, lemons, and oranges) backed by the traditional tonic water tang, provided by Peruvian Cinchona bark. Combined with the Lillet Rouge, and a little soda, we end up with a springtime hit that’s both effervescently-packed with flavors. So, I’m not saying get rid of your G-and-Ts, but augment them with some L-and-Ts – you’ll be happier for it!

lillet-and-tonic

Lillet Rouge and Tonic

 

Ice cubes

1/2 ounce &Tonic syrup

1-1/2 ounces Lillet Rouge

Chilled club soda (4 or 5 ounces, see Note)

Wide orange twist, for garnish

 

1. Fill a brandy snifter or tumbler (I really like my whathaveyou-and-tonic drinks in a snifter, cause it looks cool and maybe helps the scents flow into your nose, but you be you) halfway with ice cubes. Add the syrup and Lillet. Stir briefly.

 

2. Add the soda, stir to combine, and garnish with the twist.

 

A Note: The beauty in tonic syrup is you can really control the amount of it and soda to taste and occasion. I might go 3/4 of an ounce instead of a half, and 5 ounces soda? More soda on a hot day is nice! And the flavors still shine. Play around with it all, have fun – that’s what drinking is about!

March 18, 2022

What I’m Drinking: Mike Collins

I realize some may be saying “wait, has A.J. lost it, shouldn’t this drink have been made for yesterday, the actual Saint Patrick’s Day?” And while I can’t say I haven’t lost “it” (whatever “it” may be), I can say that I am fully of the opinion that while Saint Patrick’s Day can be a jolly time, and while I’m all for savoring and celebrating Irish culture and history (and other cultures and histories, too, for that matter), I don’t think that it should be regulated to just one day! Especially (for the sake of this particular blog’s focus, but not overall naturally) when it comes to drinks highlighting Irish whiskey or other Irish-made imbibables. Hence, the Mike Collins, the Tom Collins sibling (a once-large family now sadly less-known) that subs in Irish whiskey instead of Old Tom gin. I love ‘em both, but if you’ve yet to be introduced, Mike’s whiskey undertones of vanilla and spice and grain (I’m going with Teeling Small Batch today) and sweet nature go rather nicely with the citrus zing and bubbles here – while also providing a nice kick to the affair. It’s a springtime favorite, but one I’ve found lends itself more to early spring, to sitting outside and sipping on the porch while there’s an echo of chill still in the air (as opposed to running full-on through a late-spring field of flowers). A swell celebration today, as well as yesterday and tomorrow.

mike-collins

Mike Collins

 

Ice cubes

2 ounces Teeling Small Batch Irish whiskey

1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/4 ounce simple syrup

Chilled club soda

Lemon slice for garnish

 

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the whiskey, juice, and simple syrup. Shake well.

 

2. Fill a Collins glass or comparable three-quarters full with ice cubes. Strain the mix over the ice. Fill almost to the top with chilly club soda. Garnish with the lemon slice (stirring briefly if you want Mike mixed more).

 

 

January 28, 2022

What I’m Drinking: The Rosé Squirt

Hey, no offense to January (I mean, it is the first month of the year, birthing, so to speak, a new time of new beginnings and fresh starts and resolute resolutions and all that, and it tends to start with a smooch, so it definitely has some pluses as a month, however . . .), but by the end of January I’m usually ready, well ready, for it to be over, and usually ready, well-and-truly ready, for some springtime springing. It just gets a little drab, our first month of the year. Maybe not everywhere in the globe! And maybe not for everyone!

But for me, I could use a dosage of spring snazziness in my step, and in my glass, right about this time every year – and, wonders of wonders, here is the Rosé Squirt, ready and waiting for me to take the first sip. It is not a combination of rosé wine and the carbonated soda Squirt (if you were thinking so, though an 18-year-old me might like that – heck, a currently-too-old-to-be-specific-about-dates me might like it too). It is a combination of nutty, dry maraschino liqueur (go with a good brand here – I’m using Luxardo Maraschino, which I’m fond of, and which has been made by the same family from Marasca cherries since 1821, and which boasts hints of chocolate, vanilla, and marmalade notes) rosé wine (the springtime-iest of wines perhaps), and bubbly club soda, with a good maraschino cherry (you couldn’t go wrong with Luxardo maraschino cherries here, too, pals, because they are wondrously delicious) as a final accompaniment. Combine those delights and you have spring in a glass (note: also works beautifully as a summer sipper): refreshing, budding with flavor, light-on-its-feet, lovely. Have one today, and know that actual springtime isn’t too far away.

rose-squirt

The Rosé Squirt, from Wine Cocktails

 

Ice cubes

1 ounce Luxardo Maraschino liqueur

3 ounce dry rosé wine

Chilled club soda

Luxardo maraschino cherry, for garnish

 

1. Fill a highball glass three-quarters full with ice cubes. Add the maraschino liqueur and rosé. Stir briefly.

2. Fill the glass almost to the top with chilled club soda. Stir again, a bit more than briefly. Drop a cherry on top and serve.

 

July 30, 2021

What I’m Drinking: The Tangerinian Defense

Poor tangerine, always jealous of it’s more famous citrus siblings, even during summer (which is when tangerines start showing more on shelves, start showing off a bit, and start becoming a part of people’s mind palaces). I like them, even with their jealousies, tangerines, that is. Like many this sunny time of year, I picked up some lately, and have been loving them, and used them in this sunny-time sipper. The slightly sweeter (than oranges, at least) juice makes a swell addition to drinks, especially, perhaps, with rum in summer? Is that recency bias? Perhaps! But in this tangerine-y bubbler, the white rum and juice go particularly well, especially with the addition of two more citrus cousins (we’ll put the jealous aside here), in the form of Scrappy’s lovely (and singular, I think) Lime bitters, which is lime-y and lightly herbal, and another WA-state made product, Grandeza orange liqueur, boasting a rich orange-and-vanilla-ness (you could sub another orange liqueur here, but while it might be good, it might not be great). While tangerine juice has that sweet nature, I felt a touch more was needed, so also added some simple syrup. And then, as the sun is shining and the mercury is risen (I’m typing here in summer, you know), some chilled club soda and ice, and finally, one more addition to give our old jealous tangerine the last word, here, at least: a tangerine twist. A wide one, I suggest.

 tangerinian-defense

The Tangerinian Defense

 

Ice cubes

3/4 ounce freshly squeezed tangerine juice

1-1/2 ounces white rum

1/2 ounce simple syrup

1 dashes Scrappy’s lime bitters

1/2 ounce Grandeza

5 ounces chilled club soda

Tangerine twist, for garnish

 

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the tangerine juice, rum, syrup, bitters, and Grandeza. Shake well.

 

2. Fill a highball or comparable glass three-quarters full with ice cubes. Strain the mix from Step 1 through a fine strainer into the glass.

 

2. Add the soda to the glass. Stir carefully, to mix everything nicely together, but no need to get wacky about it. Garnish with the twist.

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