June 14, 2019

What I’m Drinking: Smoke in the Grove with Ardbeg Uigeadail

I know you know about Ardbeg Uigeadail (because you are smart and know things). I mean, it was named World Whiskey of the Year by Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible, due to its “complexity” and “silky brilliance,” is crafted with care by the now-legendary Islay distillery, has a name that’s also unforgettable (and pronounced “Oog-a-dal” which is just plain fun) and coming from a loch near the distillery, is aged in ex bourbon barrels and sherry butts, boasts a lovely golden hue, and is freakishly reasonable. Especially when you consider the rich aroma of peat, walnuts, a little sea and forest, and spice, the taste of honey, malt, more spice, then a big, muscular-but-smooth smoke, and a raisin, caramel, smoke finish. I mean, with all of that, I know you know about it – of you should.

As you’d expect, it’s a swell sipping Scotch, solo, over an ice piece or two, or with a little splash of spring water. Yummy, indeed. However, when I was lucky enough (don’t be mad at me, please) to get a bottle in the mail the other day, I of course had some solo, but then had to also try it in a cocktail. With a sipper this swell, you don’t need to or want to bring too many dancing partners into the set. Keeping it simple is key, letting this malt shine, while accenting a little in the corners with appropriate additions. Here, I went with orange stalwart and cocktail classic Cointreau. To bring a few more herbal/spice notes under our big two, I brought in two bitters, just a dash of each: Regan’s orange bitters and old pal Peychuad’s. Altogether, the orange and bitter-ing players add to the Uigdeadail, while letting it take the lead. Smoke in the Grove’s flavor-filled, hearty, but maintaining that silky brilliance. Yummy, again.

smoke-in-the-grove
Smoke in the Grove

Cracked ice
2-1/2 ounces Ardbeg Uigeadail
3/4 ounces Cointreau
Dash Regan’s orange bitters
Dash Peychaud’s bitters

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

2. Strain into a cocktail glass. I know you know how you good it is, but hey, drink it anyway.

June 7, 2019

What I’m Drinking: Four Quartets

“And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
When the tongues of flames are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one.”

It is a wild historical fact which I’ve uncovered, as well as just some wild genius, that T.S. Eliot, years ago, wrote a poem (Little Gidding, part of Four Quartets) about this drink that I invented just weeks or months ago. I mean, looking into the future that way is phenomenal! And the drink in itself is fairly phenomenal (I say, humbly) as it mixes together a few ingredients that you might not have thought went together: rosé wine and tequila (which of course is made with fire in a way). But they do! As Eliot predicted. Amazing. Not sure how the other two ingredients tie into the poem, but I feel that’s my fault, not being great at literary criticism. Oh, those other two ingredients include Bluewater’s lovely, and limited (so come out here and get when you can), tantalizing floral and spice Cardamon Elderflower liqueur, and the also lovely Carpano Bianco vermouth, which has a delicate wine, citrus-and-other-fruit, springtime botanical nature. Really, this is a pretty poetic drink all told! Try it, while reading the poem, and see if you agree. And if you don’t, take it up with Eliot.

four-quartetsFour Quartets

Cracked ice
1-1/2 ounces rosé (something dry but with floral accents works nicely)
1-1/2 tequila blanco
1/2 ounce Bluewater Cardamon Elderflower liqueur
1/2 ounce Carpano Bianco vermouth
Lemon twist, for garnish

1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add our four core lines (or boozes, that is). Stir well.

2. Strain into a cocktail glass, garnish with the twist, and get your poetry going.

May 24, 2019

What I’m Drinking: The West Coast of the Le Marche

Some drinks just really get you – or, get me, as I’m typing, but I don’t think I’m the only one this happens to, so went with the “you” to encompass the world of people (like you) who like drinks. Does that make sense? If not, well, I understand. I also understand that this drink gets me, due to have just two ingredients, which line up with the two places I’ve lived in the last, oh, 23 years, Washington state and Italy. I’m cheating a tiny bit on the last one, cause the Italian ingredient is the legendary Meletti anisette (an all-time favorite of mine), which is made in the Le Marche region, where I didn’t actually live (I was in north Umbria pals), but I’ve been there, and I love this anisette, so let’s go with it. The other ingredient is made right here in W-A, and right outside of Seattle – it’s (spoiler alert) Woodinville Whiskey Co.’s swell bourbon. So, that’s why this drink gets me, cause of that combo. It also gets me cause of the wonderful taste. Now, what drinks get you? And does everything finally make sense (here’s hoping!)?

west-coast-le-marche

The West Coast of the Le Marche

Cracked ice
2-1/2 ounces Woodinville Whiskey Co. bourbon
1/2 ounce Meletti Anisette
Ice cubes

1: Filled a cocktails shaker or mixing glass with cracked ice. Add the bourbon and the anisette. Stir well.

2. Fill an old fashioned or comparable glass with a couple fat ice cubes. Strain the mix over the ice. Get it.

May 17, 2019

What I’m Drinking: Within the Week

Okay, don’t be upset, but this drink (which is delicious, a smidge sweet, a hint botanical, a miniscule citrus-y, fragrant, all that) uses a homemade ingredient which I’m not providing the recipe for. Because I sorta forgot it! See, I was making some basil-lemon simple syrup as one does, but I didn’t actually write down exactly how much basil I used. It was let’s say a decent-sized bunch and a half. And I didn’t write down the exact amount of lemon juice used, but let’s say it was the juice of half a lemon. Can that get you there if you add it to a regular simple syrup recipe that delivers like three cups or thereabouts of syrup? I think it can (don’t forget to let it seep awhile and strain the basil out and all that)! If you are brave, and resourceful, and heroic, which you, I believe, are!

And it’s one wonderful syrup, which here goes wonderfully with gin. I used Sipsmith London Dry gin, which I like lots, and not just cause of the cool swan art on the bottle. But also cause of the lovely juniper, lemon citrus, and orange marmalade, dry-ish profile. It’s a yummy gin if you haven’t had it. And, speaking of yummy, our third ingredient here is Carpano Bianco vermouth, a light, wine-citrus-mineral-fruit treat that should be a part of any respectable set of liquor shelves. Altogether, this drink delivers in a manner ideal for a spring day or summer evening – now you just need to be a little heroic and make it.

within-the-week
Within the Week

Ice cubes
2 ounces Sipsmith London Dry gin
1/2 ounce Carpano Bianco vermouth
1/2 ounce basil-lemon simple syrup
Basil leaf, for garnish

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add everything but the leaf (beleaf it!). Shake well.

2. Strain into a cocktail glass, and now add the leaf. Leaf it up!

May 10, 2019

What I’m Drinking: Now and Then a Porcupine

Do you go through phases in your cocktail-and-spirit-sipping? I’m sure you do, though admittedly I know some who have the same drink every time, year round, and I myself when younger probably had a lot of the same drinks. For some, it’s their signature I suppose. And then some have drinks via seasons, or occasions. And you know what? All those are fine, as long as you’re having fun! Fun is good! I, myself, now-a-days, often go through phases where I’ll have more of a certain spirit, or brand, even, sometimes solo, sometimes in cocktails. Recently, I’ve been on a bit of a Pernod jag, for example, having it over ice, or neat, or in drinks like this one!

In which, I took what may seem a step into the unknown, as I mixed it with underutilized (in the main, I’ve found, though perhaps here and there inroads are happening, and naturally this doesn’t go to the Nordic regions) spirit aquavit, specifically Wintersun aquavit, made out here in WA, specifically (again) in Everett, by Bluewater distillery. Wintersun has a swell balance, with that traditional caraway mingling with aniseed and orange, all on an organic grain spirit base.

That flavor profile seemed like it’d play well with Pernod, but something more was needed, and I went with French aperitif pineau de charentes, specifically (one more time!) Chateau D’orignac pineau de charentes, made from Cognac and lightly fermented Merlot and Cabernet Sav grapes, and aged in oak five years. The result is a citrus, floral, fruity delight, which goes (delightfully) with the other two members of our trio in this curiously-named drink, which is also curiously-light, with anise, orange, and spice undertones.

now-and-then-a-porcupine
Now and Then a Porcupine

Cracked ice
1-1/2 ounces Bluewater Wintersun aquavit
1/2 ounce Pernod
3/4 ounce Chateau D’orignac pineau de charentes
Wide orange twist, for garnish

1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add everything, and still well.

2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with that wide orange twist. Drink up.

May 3, 2019

What I’m Drinking: The Portofino

A cosmopolitan affair, I found the Portofino in an Italian drink collection called Cocktails Classici & Esptoco (Demetra, 2002) which I picked up in a bella Florence (Italy, that is) bookstore. It’s an intriguing combo with English liqueur Pimm’s – specifically Pimm’s No. 1 Cup, which is “made to James Pimm’s original recipe from 1823, a closely guarded secret known only to 6 people,” a recipe of gin, herbs, and a touch of fruitiness. It’s the main Pimm’s variety today (at one time there were six, made on bases of gin, Scotch, brandy, rum, rye, and vodka) though you can find Pimm’s Winter Cup, based on brandy, spices, and orange peel, if you look. The second main ingredient is Italian favorite Aperol (the light, orange, and barely bitter dream that’s taking everywhere you can imagine by orange-y storm).  Portofino, the city this is named after, is located on the Italian Riviera in the Genoa province and according to reports (that go all the way back to Pliny the Elder, and why would he lie?), the town was settled by the Romans and named Portus Delphini, which means Port of the Dolphin, due to the dolphins that frolicked in the gulf around it. Amazing, am I right?

portofinoThe Portofino

Ice cubes
2 ounces Pimm’s No. 1 Cup
1 ounce Aperol
Chilled ginger ale
Orange wedge for garnish

1. Fill a highball glass three quarters up with ice cubes. Add the Pimm’s and Aperol and stir briefly.

2. Fill the glass almost to the top with ginger ale. Stir again and garnish with the orange wedge.

April 26, 2019

What I’m Drinking: What the Doctor Ordered

Thought the rain and clouds and more some are experiencing (some meaning even me) may make it hard to imagine, spring is springing into action, and palates are moving slowly or quickly (depending on how fast your palate moves) into more refreshing numbers here and there and otherwheres. Which means this drink’s title becomes more and more apt, because the drink is a tall refreshing number, but one which has an undercurrent of rummy goodness (which, I suppose, points to summer, too), so fits the transition into spring. If any of that makes sense, fantastic! But I haven’t even mentioned what may be the key to all of this: Sidetrack Distillery’s lovely Nocino green walnut liqueur. Deliciously made using walnuts from their own farm, this Italian-inspired treat adds an individual note here. It, the rum, and the cider all bring this together into a manner that – between us – is ideal for spring, but also fall, and for that matter, summer, and winter!

what-the-doctor-ordered-ar
What the Doctor Ordered

Cracked ice
2 ounces dark rum (I used Mount Gay)
1/2 ounce Sidetrack Nocino walnut liqueur
3 ounces Seattle Cider Company Semi-Sweet cider

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with cracked ice. Add the rum and Nocino. Stir well

2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Top with the cider. Stir carefully and briefly. Enjoy the good health.

April 12, 2019

What I’m Drinking: The Palexander

Here’s something that’ll be no surprise to you, pal (as you’ve read this blog for years and years, and know me so well, and all that): I’m not opposed to a good dessert drink. Actually, I’m a dessert drink proponent, and feel that in our modern must-be-brown-and-bitter (I like brown and bitter, too, by the by) culture, sometimes people frown at slightly creamier and sweeter sippers – but not me! Anyway, the king of the dessert drinks, and an overall classic since 1916, is the Alexander, and I’m a big fan of its perfectly-balanced balance. I’ll have one fairly regularly (like, every six months or some such), but recently I was craving one and realized – GASP! – I was out of crème de cacao! What’s a boy to do? Well, I’m not one to sit around and not have a drink at all just being due to one missing ingredient. Instead of making sorrows, I make solutions! And really bad sayings, hahaha. In this case, my solution was subbing in another component that has the crème de cacao’s sweetness and flavor to the drink – though a different flavor as instead of chocolate, see, I went nutty, with Dumante Verdenoce pistachio liqueur. Really! Made with care in Italy using Sicilian pistachios, it’s a lush sipper and goes perfectly with gin and cream here. Perfectly I say! The combo retains the original’s smooth velvety-ness, with the gin accents and now some nutty nuttiness. Lovely! Especially when topped with a shake of cinnamon sugar, which I did!

palexander
The Palexander

Ice cubes
1 ounce gin
1 ounce heavy cream
1 ounce Dumante Verdenoce pistachio liqueur
Shake of cinnamon sugar

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add our trio (gin, cream, liqueur). Shake well.

2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Give a little shake of cinnamon sugar over the drink. Yum it up.

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