August 3, 2018

What I’m Drinking: The Americano

The Americano is a summertime favorite around my back porch, and should be one around yours, too. It’s been consumed as a warm-weather aperitivo for well over a hundred years, tracing its history back to at least 1860, and is a snap to make (you don’t want to be sweating drink-construction too much when the heat is on). Also, if you’ve been dreaming of a vacation, but just haven’t been able to take one yet, this can help transport you to Italy, in your mind, at least. Which is better than nothing!

americanoThe Americano (using the recipe from Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz)

Ice cubes
2 ounces Campari
2 ounces 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.

June 29, 2018

What I’m Drinking: What I’m Drinking: The Sicilian Sling

This should be your go-to this summer (or one of them, at least), as it’ll transport you all over Europe without you having to leave the yard, while at the same time serving as a cool cooler, just as you want when the temps are tempting the higher digits. It was created by an old pal and bartending legend, Jeremy Sidener (who owns the Eighth Street Taproom in Lawrence, KS), who was genius enough to bring together the herbally Italian amaro Averna (which is about in the middle of the bitter scale when looking over the amaro family) and French herb-y Bénédictine, along with cherry brandy, lemon juice, and soda. I myself said in Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz that “the result will break any hold a dusty, hot summer’s day has on you.”

sicilian-slingThe Sicilian Sling

Ice cubes
1-1/2 ounces Averna
1/2 ounce cherry brandy
1/2 ounce Bénédictine
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
Chilled club soda
1 or 2 fresh basil leaves, for garnish

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the Averna, cherry brandy, Bénédictine, and lemon juice. Shake well.

2. Fill a highball glass three-quarters full with ice cubes. Strain the mixture into the glass. Top with chilled club soda, filling it almost to the top. Gently smack the basil leaf or leaves and let them rest on the drink’s top.

June 8, 2018

What I’m Drinking: The Mint Meridian

Recently, I was on a trip – the actual physical kind, mind you – that took me away from my home bar and home region, and led me, let’s just say, to a different state, and while there I was really craving Brancamenta, and couldn’t find any anywhere. Anywhere! What kind of place or region or locale or spot doesn’t have this Fernet Branca sibling, which adds Piedmontese peppermint oil and a little sweetness to the legendary bitter-and-herb digestif?

Well, I was missing the minty mint-ness indeed by the time I got back, especially as we’re heading into summer and Brancamenta is a summertime hit of special proportions, especially with soda, and even moreso when mingled with dark rum (another summer fav) and a few other choice choices in the below drink. Try it and see! And if you have to travel anywhere that might not have Brancamenta, even just maybe might not have it, take your bottle with you. You don’t want to run into the situation I did, believe me you.

mint-meridian
The Mint Meridian

Ice cubes
2 ounces dark rum
3/4 ounces Brancamenta
1/4 freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
Chilled club soda
Mint sprig, for garnish

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway up with ice cubes. Add the rum, Brancamenta, lemon juice, and bitters. Shake well.

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

3. Top with 3 ounces club soda. Stir. Garnish with the mint spring. Enjoy your afternoon.

February 23, 2018

What I’m Drinking: Mercurio Punch

I wish I could say with certainty that this drink was named after Mercurio, the 4-D Man, a fella from the planet Gramos who fought Thor and the wacky Warriors Three, as well as a bunch of other heroes and such in the mighty Marvel universe, utilizing both fire and ice powers. However! I don’t know that this drink was named after said alien, or the Mexican wrestler of the same name, or the Chilean newspaper. My guess? A misspelling of a Willy S character, or after the planet Mercury. When all is said and done, though, does it matter? This is a swell sipper for around 10 folks, one that’s a bit bubbly, a bit brandy, and a big grape-y. Great for the end of February, when you’re just starting to feel spring might someday happen, but still chilly. Heck, they even like it on Gramos.

mercurio
Mercurio Punch, from Dark Spirits

Block of ice, or ice cubes
16 ounces brandy
16 ounces purple grape juice
8 ounces Bénédictine liqueur
8 ounces simple syrup
One 750-milliliter bottle red wine (go for a Cabernet here, one with robust body)
One 2-liter bottle chilled club soda

1. Add the block of ice to a large punch bowl, or fill the bowl halfway full with ice cubes. Add the brandy, grape juice, Benedictine, and simple syrup. Stir well.

2. Add the red wine to the cast, and stir again.

3. Smoothly add the club soda, and stir a final time (or maybe a few final times—you want to get it good and combined). Serve in punch glasses.

March 31, 2017

What I’m Drinking: Ognam

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.

ognam
Ognam, from Dark Spirits

Ice cubes
1 1/2 ounces brandy
2 1/2 ounces mango juice
1/2 ounce Aperol
Chilled club soda
Lemon slice for garnish

1. Fill a highball or comparable glass with ice cubes. Add the brandy, mango juice, and Aperol. Stir well.

2. Fill the glass almost to the top with club soda. Stir again, well. Squeeze the lemon slice over the glass and drop it in. Frolic!

March 24, 2017

What I’m Drinking: The Rosé Squirt

You’ve probably noticed, spring has sprung. And I’m probably going to be, or already have been, talking springtime talk, and springtime drinks, and frolicking in meadows. But today, instead of that, I’m just cutting right to the chase: this is a dandy, refreshing, light-on-its-feet drink, which you should make for yourself, your friends, and then yourself again. It’s springy.

rose-squirt
The Rosé Squirt, from Wine Cocktails

Ice cubes
1 ounce maraschino liqueur
3 ounce dry rosé wine
Chilled club soda
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 22, 2016

What I’m Drinking: The Mike Collins

mike-collinsSometimes, it’s good to keep things simple, tall, refreshing, and the lesser-known cousin of a better-known drink. At least that’s what I’m doing today. Because hey, I’m a simple person, at heart. And that’s why I’m keeping this short. No long speeches today, or talks about this booze or that booze, this writer or that writer, this awful person or that awful person that leads me to really desiring a tall, simple, refreshing drink on a Friday. Oh no, none of that. You feel the same way? Mix this up, friend, and think of me, and your favorite Mike. Mine is, um, Mike Caine (if that isn’t too informal). Here’s to you, Mike!

Mike Collins

Ice cubes
2 ounces 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 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).

September 4, 2015

What I’m Drinking: Summer Near Puebla

So, it’s September I suppose, and like the very earth itself I can sense the approaching Fall in my bones, and in my drinks too – though admittedly, I’m still leaning in those drinks towards summer-ish mixers. But the drinks know the weather is changing! And the drinks themselves are changing, with new ingredients showing up on my shelves (which are sturdy, I must say). A recent addition which I’d been pining for, and which is now almost in need of restocking, is Ancho Reyes. A lovely, perhaps the lovely, chile liqueur, made of course from Ancho chilies. If you haven’t yet had the pleasure of trying it, I can hear you, in my mind, muttering to yourself about how most spice-ily flavored booze-y items are either just freaky hot or taste like chemical fire. Hold on to your chairs, though – Ancho Reyes is different. Full-bodied, rich, holding an underlying spice that isn’t bite-y, but flavorful, with cinnamon, chocolate, fruit, and herbs mingling with the chili, Ancho Reyes is to be savored, solo or in cocktails.

And savoring it is what we’ve been doing, here at the home bar, as the weather begins to think about changing. I’ve made a number of cocktails with it, but Summer Near Puebla, the cocktail below, is ideal for this time of year – still refreshing in a summer way, but with enough flavor and umph to fortify you for the following fall and winter-y months. And the taste! I am going to be a little obvious here (I mean, Ancho Reyes is made in Puebla, Mexico, from local chilies, in a handcrafted manner that’s rather swell, and award-winning Vida Mezcal, another key ingredient here, is from San Luis del Rio), but this drink goes awfully well with Mexican food. Or by itself, as you soak in some of that sunshine while you can.

summer-near-puebla

Summer Near Puebla

Ice cubes
2 ounces Vida Mezcal
1-1/2 ounces Ancho Reyes
1/2 ounce Pierre Ferrand dry curaçao
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
Cracked ice
2 ounces chilled club soda
Lime wedge, for garnish

1. Fill a cocktail shaker up halfway with ice cubes. Add the mezcal, Ancho Reyes, curaçao, and lime juice. Shake well.

2. Fill a highball or comparable glass three-quarters up with cracked ice. Strain the mix into the glass.

3. Top it off with the club soda. Stir briefly. Garnish with a lime wedge.

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