June 3, 2022
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!
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
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 Rouge and Tonic
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
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.
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
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.
The Rosé Squirt, from Wine Cocktails
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
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.
The Tangerinian Defense
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.
May 7, 2021
Summer proper (first day of summer and all that) is still over a month away, but I can feel it creeping up with every sunny day, temperature rising, refreshing fruity drinks bubbling, flowers blooming, gardens growing, sweat sweating, outdoor meals aromatizing evenings, and did I mention the drinks? We had a precursor summer day recently, one of those days that provides a preview of all that sun and such just described, and I just had to make up a new drink to accompany said day, and had to name it after summer, and had to transport my mind into a summer mindset, and between us, I (humbly), think I did a fairly decent job, and that Theros would approve. Oh, what’s in the drink? I started with rum (a summer favorite), white rum, that is, and then upped the rummy-ness with a little Stiggins’ Fancy rum, which is a referred to as “pineapple rum,” but for summer’s sakes don’t take that to mean chemically-induced or saccharin-y or against nature, as (if you haven’t had it), Stiggins’ is none of those, instead, wafting a perfectly roasted pineapple aroma over a dark flavorful rum. If you haven’t had it, try it now. Then, to round out those rummy siblings and to underline with citrus, herbs, caramel, sweetness, and lushness, I added some Montenegro amaro – one might not think of amari as summer standbys, but one also might be foolish, as these flavor-packed pals can bring just the right layers to hot weather treats, when mixed with the right partners. Like rums! And, like pineapple juice, our next ingredient. And, like Scrappy’s Lime bitters, which delights with lime and lighter herbal notes (remember kids: bitters makes it better). Finally, ice, club soda, mint, and here we are, summer, a month or so early. Enjoy it now, and then.
1 ounce white rum
3/4 ounce Stiggins’ Fancy Pineapple rum
1/2 ounce Montenegro amaro
1-1/2 ounce pineapple juice
1 dash Scrappy’s Lime bitters
4 ounces chilled club soda
Fresh mint sprig, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with ice cubes. Add the rums, amaro, juice, and bitters. Shake well.
2. Fill a highball or comparable glass with ice cubes. Strain the mix from step 1 into the glass. Top with club soda. Stir, carefully (no need to spill). Garnish with the mint.
A Note: You could serve this over cracked ice, even crushed ice. But I wasn’t so prepared or industrious as you might be. Next time, I might be!
January 22, 2021
I realize that the “holidays” in some ways are behind us, at least what people think of when one says “holidays,” in Western culture, that is, meaning the winter holidays, though really there are holidays year round, round the world (thankfully)! Which means drinking a drink called “Holiday Tea Time” anytime at all is perfectly dandy, and especially, me thinks, in January, because this particular drink doesn’t have any booze in it, and though I don’t partake in the now-ritual called “dry January,” I know lots of fine folks who do, and they deserve to have good drinks during that timeframe, and here we are then, with this peppermint-y, rosemary-y, bubbly delight. The peppermint travels this holiday road through the addition of peppermint tea, chilled here, and the rosemary through rosemary simple syrup, which I’m fairly fond of, I have to admit!
Holiday Tea Time
2 ounces peppermint tea, chilled
3/4 rosemary simple syrup (see Note, below)
1/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 ounces club soda
Rosemary sprig, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the tea, syrup, and juice. 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 over the ice. Top with the club soda.
3. Stir to combine. Garnish with the rosemary sprig.
A Note: To make the rosemary simple syrup, add three-quarters cup fresh rosemary to a saucepan. Muddle a little bit with a muddler or wooden spoon. Add 1-1/2 cups sugar and 1 cup water to the saucepan and raise the heat to medium-high. Stirring regularly, let the mixture come to a low boil, and keep it there until the sugar is dissolved. Simmer for ten minutes, remove the heat, and let cool completely. Strain out the rosemary, and pour into a container with a good lid. Store in the fridge for up to two weeks.
November 6, 2020
Okay, obvious statement number one: you know what’s awesome? Pals are awesome. Perhaps moreso now than ever (now meaning the moment I’m typing, which is during a very bad year – future reader, I hope whatever time you’re reading this is more conducive to swell-ness), which is a somewhat interesting statement as it can be harder to see (and here I mean see for reals, not through a screen – not that that isn’t real per se, but not as real real, really) to see said pals. Make sense? Clear as brandy? How about, obvious statement number two: awesome pals who make tasty things and then drop them off for you are, well, awesome! Which is what happened for me recently, as pal Rebecca (genius pal, I might say) sent some homemade plum shrub and grenadine our way, and what a pandemic helper they have been! More of the latter later, but today, we’ve delving plum shrub style, as I used it to make a tasty (if I can say so without sounding like a lame-o) sipper which I’m calling Spirit and Substance.
It starts (duh!) with tangy, zingy, fruity plum shrub. I don’t know how it’s made, but can find out if you’re desperate. I matched with with a gin (gin and fruit = yum), specifically Sipsmith London Dry gin, which I adore due to its dry, citrus, fruit (dare I say marmalade), character. But I didn’t stop there! I thought about it (often we just see shrub+base spirit+ soda, but more felt appropriate), tried this and that, and ended up with more fruit in the way of Sidetrack Blackberry liqueur. Made outside of Kent, WA on the same farm the blackberries (and other delights) are grown, its rich berry body was the ideal addition. And then, soda, ice, lemon twist, and boom! A drink that’ll bring summer into fall, and pals into your heart, if not your home bar.
Spirit and Substance
1-1/2 ounce Sipsmith London Dry gin
3/4 ounce plum shrub
1/2 ounce Sidetrack Distillery Blackberry liqueur
4 ounces chilled club soda
Lemon twist, for garnish
1. Add the gin, shrub, and liqueur to a mixing glass or cocktail shaker. Stir well.
2. Fill a highball or comparable glass three-quarters up with ice cubes. Strain the mix from step one into the glass, over the ice.
3. Add the club soda, and stir to combine. Garnish with the twist.