July 12, 2024

What I’m Drinking: The Good Things Should be Praised Highball

I recently created a drink to be auctioned off at the Seattle Shakespeare Co. charity auction, and used the play they’re performing this summer, The Two Gentleman of Verona, as the lift-off point for said drink. I also wrote a headnote detailing how it all came together. And now you get to read it all below (as well as making the drink, which was delicious, if you’re inclined).

In Act 3, Scene 1 of The Two Gentleman of Verona (being performed by the Seattle Shakespeare Company this summer at the Wooden O – don’t miss it), Speed says, “She will often praise her liquor,” to which Launce responds, “If her liquor be good, she shall: if she will not, I will; for good things should be praised.” And now you know where this drink’s title comes from, a drink which will hopefully be as worthy of praise. To create this refreshing delight, we’re starting with an ingredient not as utilized in summer: bourbon. Specifically, Woodinville Whiskey Co. straight bourbon, named 2020 Best Straight Bourbon. Our bourbon base is in honor of SSC board member and ex-Kentuckian Mary Park, who has revitalized many a weary traveler at her fireside with it.

But to make the hearty, innards-warming whiskey cross-dress as a thirst-quenching hot weather enchantment, some specific partners on the drink stage were demanded. First, a homemade strawberry simple syrup, strawberries being the epitome of a sunshine daydream (and a fruit that plays unexpectedly well with bourbon). Next, another local delight, like our bourbon and the SSC, Brovo Spirits Lucky Falernum. A rum-based, turbinado-sweetened liqueur, Lucky is flavored with orange, lime, pineapple, ginger, star anise, nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice. Yummy.

Those, however, aren’t the only local treats: there’s also a dash of Scrappy’s Black Lemon Bitters, a truly unique (and uniquely delicious) bitters that delivers bright lemon and floral notes alongside earthy spice. Of course, to reach true summer heights, in a play or a drink, the palate and mind must be raised in an effervescent manner, so club soda and ice join the case here, too. For the final scene, a garnish of fresh strawberry and mint. With that, you have a summertime sipper that’s nearly as memorable as the next Seattle Shakespeare Company play you’ll see (sadly, you shouldn’t take the drink to the play – that much goodness in one spot might be too much). Thank you for your support!

The Good Things Should be Praised Highball

The Good Things Should be Praised Highball

Ice cubes

1-1/2 ounces Woodinville Whiskey Co. Bourbon

3/4 ounce strawberry simple syrup (see Note below)

1/2 ounce Brovo Spirits Lucky Falernum

Dash Scrappy’s Black Lemon Bitters

4 ounces chilled club soda

Strawberry slice, for garnish

Mint sprig, for garnish

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the bourbon, simple syrup, falernum, and bitters. Shake well.

2. Fill a highball or comparable glass three-quarters up with ice cubes. Strain the mix from step 1 over the ice and into the glass.

3. Add the club soda to the highball glass. Stir, gently, working to combine. Garnish with the strawberry slice and mint sprig.

A Note: To make your own strawberry simple syrup isn’t as hard as memorizing any of the Hamlet soliloquies. Just add 1-1/2 cups chopped strawberries (any stems or leaves removed before chopping), 1 cup sugar, and 3/4 cup water to a small saucepan. Bring the combo to a boil over medium heat, stirring regularly. Once it’s boiling, reduce heat to bring it to a low boil. Boil five minutes – during this when the strawberries get soft, crush some against the pan’s side with a wooden spoon. This helps release flavor. When the five minutes is up, remove from heat and let cool completely in the pan. Then strain through a fine strainer (and funnel, if needed), into a bottle with a good lid. It will keep in the fridge for two weeks, and goes well with just soda, too, for those under 21!

June 28, 2024

What I’m Drinking: Ballets Russes

Tamara Karsavina

Here’s a nice old drink from like 100 years ago or more (at least as far as I can tell), which carries a swell story, too, as it was named after a legendary ballet troupe. How often do we have drinks named after ballet troupes today? Not often enough friends! It’s a dancing combo of vodka, crème de cassis, and lime, which I think is a dancing combo indeed for summer, which we are within, a little fruity, a little citrus, a lot of umph. I also think this should be served extra cold if you can, which means some serious shaking, as if you were in the shape of a prima donna ballerina, like, say Tamara Karsavina, who was one of the main dancers from the Ballets Russes, and who I have a little bit of an impossible crush on. Impossible unless one of you readers designs a time machine, which, if you do, might come in handy for other things besides impossible crushes (though they are very important). Just something to mull while you sip this drink.

Ballets Russes

Ballets Russes

Ice cubes

2 ounces vodka

1 ounce creme de cassis

1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the vodka, cassis, and lime juice. Shake well, until your hands are too cold to shake more.

2. Strain through a fine strainer into a cocktail glass. Drink up, time traveler.

June 21, 2024

What I’m Drinking: The Punt e’ Mes Highball

I remember when Punt e’ Mes wasn’t readily available stateside (I am very old, but not so old as to remember even earlier, when it probably was more available, before the more recent availability rebound, and if that all made sense, you probably haven’t had as many Punt e’ Mes Highballs as me, or you’ve had more and can now see and understand all thing), and during that time calling at the bar for the Punt e’ Mes Highball would garner strange looks. However! Even though this delicious sweet vermouth – though with it’s sweetness, hints o citrus, trailing into a smidge of bitterness nature, it shades amaro, too – is now on more bar shelves, if you order a Punt e’ Mes Highball, you still might garner some strange and curious looks. I wonder if bartenders might not know what a highball is today? I kid, I kid! I think it’s just because not many in the U.S. really think, unless they see it on a menu, to order something so simple, so classic in a way that’s not often highlighted, so easy going? Perhaps. But you, yes you, can help, by ordering one of these yourself this summer. Trust me, it’s delicious: light, bit citrus, bit spicy, bit bubbly, bit sweet, bit bitter, all refreshing, ideal for the sunshine-y months. If you and I both start ordering them, maybe I’ll stop getting those strange looks. And, as a bonus, we’ll both be super happy when sipping, too.

Punt e Mes Highball

Punt e’ Mes Highball

Ice cubes

1-1/2 ounces Punt e’ Mes

3 ounces ginger ale or ginger beer

1. Fill a smallish highball glass or a big rocks glass three-quarter-ish up with ice cubes. Add the Punt e’ Mes.

2. Top with the ginger ale. Stir. Be happy.

A Note: Go for a good gingery ginger ale here, not one that’s too sweet. If you’re in Italy, hey, lucky you! Also, in every Italian grocery store you can find these little bottles of ginger ale, and they go perfectly here. If you’re not in Italy, you might even want to go ginger beer, as the ginger ales over here sadly can descend into sugary messes. There are some dandy, non-massively-corporate ones, too, I should say. Ginger beers, too. Rachel’s Ginger Beer would be amazing in here, as an example!

June 7, 2024

What I’m Drinking: A Smoky House

Here’s a nice smoky, citrusy, smoothy, pepper-y number that’s ideal for the Junes, the time we’re residing within as I drink this. It all came about thusly: for reasons unknown (outside of me getting old, maybe having two many bottles around, those two things, or maybe it was alien interference in the atmosphere, which can be quite a problem on clear early-nearly-summer evenings), I forgot for a moment that I had a three-quarters full bottle of Ancho Reyes, the delectable ancho chile liqueur based on a recipe from way back in 1927, a liqueur delivering a hint of smoke and heat alongside a balanced spice array, cinnamon, cocoa, tamarind, and a little nuttiness. Amazing stuff. So, when I discovered this bottle I’d misplaced in my mind for a short time (very short, compared to the universe’s bdays), I knew I needed to make a drink with it immediately. I first thought “tequila!” as one does, but then my hand when removing the Ancho Reyes brushed again a bottle of Peruvian Pisco, the grape-based brandy beloved in certain South American spots (and by me in Seattle). I felt it’d go grandly in my proposed drink. Then I played around a bit, and ended up desiring some orange-y notes. Voila! I grabbed Brovo’s Orange Curaçao, crafted with care up here in the WA via three types of dried orange peel. It’s a treat of orange mysticism that also brings a smidge of sweet (Brovo’s Orange Curaçao and Ancho Reyes go so well together they both feature in a drink called the All the Devils cocktail). However! Even though these three stalwarts made a swell sipper themselves, I wanted to take it up to another level entirely, and felt some fresh citrus notes, nothing overwhelming, might do it. And, I was right (I say, modestly). A small amount of fresh oj, with it’s bright notes and vitamin C, did the trick. And there you have, a drink destined to make your June jolly.

A Smoky House cocktail

A Smoky House

Ice cubes

1-3/4 ounces Bar Sol Pisco

3/4 ounces Ancho Reyes ancho liqueur

1/2 ounce Brovo Orange Curaçao

1/4 ounce freshly-squeezed orange juice

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add it all! Shake well.

2. Strain the mix through a fine strainer into a cocktail glass or wine glass or goblet or whatever suits you. We’re not gonna glass shame here, friends.

May 31, 2024

What I’m Drinking: The Summertivo

It is, according to my calendar, the last day of May. Which means tomorrow (for those who are calendarly challenged) is the first day of June. And while the first day of June isn’t the official start of summer, it is the official (I’m making this up as I type btw) first day of Planning for Summer Drinking season. Though perhaps that should be like April. But let’s make it June 1! I’m all for it, and with that in place now and carved into stone like commandments or famous last words, let me present to you a drink for your summer, the Summertivo.

You may be able to guess that this is specifically a summer pre-dinner drink, a warm weather aperitivo as it may be. And it is! But it is also a drink that you can have with summertime brunches or breakfasts, in the mid-afternoon when you need something just a smidge stronger than tea, or after dinner, when the summer romances are blooming and you don’t want to be weighed down by your sipping. It starts with Galliano L’Aperitivo, lovely drink solo, or mixed as it is here. It’s bitter, but not too bitter, made from a host of delicious ingredients, starting with regular oranges, bergamot oranges, and bitter oranges, as well as citrus pals chinotto, tangerines, and grapefruits, and then spices such as anise, juniper, cardamom, sandalwood, sage, lavender, peppermint, cinnamon, and vanilla, with a bit of the regular (delicious, also) Galliano, too. Altogether, it delivers this fresh, citrusy, herbally, taste, very flavorful, very balanced. And very perfect with Italian sparkling wine prosecco, which is our second ingredient here. The third is a simple lemon twist, to add a hint of high-end tang. As with all good summer drinks, no sweat to make, too. One note: you might try a dash of Scrappy’s legendary Black Lemon Bitters in here. I don’t have it listed below, but it’s worth a gander. Call it Summertivo 2.0 to be all modern.

The Summertivo cocktail
The Summertivo cocktail

The Summertivo

3/4 ounce Galliano L’Aperitivo

4 ounces chilled Mionetto Prosecco DOC Treviso brut

Lemon twist, for garnish

Ice cube, if wanted

1. Add the L’Aperitivo to a flute or comparable glass. Top with the prosecco.

2. Carefully stir in a manner that brings everything together without being wacky. If your prosecco isn’t really chilled, or if it’s hot out, add an ice cube.

3. Garnish with the twist. Give a toast to the sun, and to Italy.

May 24, 2024

What I’m Drinking: The Bruja Smash

Warning: fake nearly swearing heading your way! This delight (ideal for the here and now and for the upcoming sunny days that you’ll hopefully be enjoying with pals or by yourself or with your dog to the fullest) was created by Seattle (and the world) legend, the mthrfcking baron of booze, Andrew Bohrer. I can’t recall when said sloshed sensi created it, but he let me put it into the mthrfcking Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz, thereby making that book like a billion times better times a billion times. That’s mthrfcking right. The Bruja Smash is not only the Hulk himself’s favorite all-time drink (and he knows drinks, mthrfckers), but also is highlighted by Italian saffron, mint, and more goodness containing golden-hued liqueur Strega, which is mingled with tequila and a whole bunch of mthrfcking fruity goodness. Perfectly balanced, of course, cause Andrew is a genius. And he currently slings drinks most Sundays at The Doctor’s Office, which is a, dare I say it, mthrfcking awesome spot.

The Bruja Smash

The Bruja Smash

Crushed ice

7 fresh mint leaves

7 fresh raspberries

1½ ounces white tequila

1 ounce Strega

½ ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 mint sprig, for garnish

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with crushed ice. Add the mint leaves, raspberries, tequila, Strega, and lemon juice. Shake really well.

2. Dump the contents of the shaker (no straining here) into a large tulip-style beer glass or other good-sized pretty vessel.

May 10, 2024

What I’m Drinking: The Whizz Bang

You might think a drink with this particular name would be more suited for a specific day in July (the fourth, that is), when whizz-bangers are going off in most US neighborhoods, and, between us, you’d be forgiven for thinking this, as I’ve made Whizz Bang cocktails on that very day in the past. However! I also think that mom’s need to have a hearty cocktail on Mother’s Day, and that mom’s can be firecrackers, too, in their own ways, and go whizzing around doing all that they do. Which means, as Mother’s Day is in two days, I believe it’s completely appropriate to be having this now and then. The drink’s lovely combination of bourbon (I’m going Woodinville Whiskey Company’s Straight bourbon, cause moms deserve the best!) and its sweet bourbon-ness with dry vermouth’s high-tone herbals, and with hints of Pernod’s sharper anise action, and with grenadine’s sweet tang (if you don’t make your own grenadine, you’re really not being fair to the moms), and with the deep herbal underpinnings of Scrappy’s classic Orange bitters, all of that together all being the lovely combination alluded to at the beginning of this sentence, this combination is sure to charm moms, and you, too, even if having it for no holiday at all, just cause it tastes awesomely awesome.

The Whizz Bang Cocktail

The Whizz Bang

Ice cubes

1-1/2 ounces Woodinville Whiskey Co. bourbon

3/4 ounce dry vermouth

1/4 ounce Pernod

1/4 ounce homemade grenadine (recipe at the end of the As Luck Would Have it cocktail recipe)

2 dashes Scrappy’s Orange bitters

 1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the bourbon, vermouth, Pernod, grenadine, and orange bitters. Shake well.

2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Present it to mom (or drink it yourself if mom isn’t available).

April 26, 2024

What I’m Drinking: Brovo Pretty Vermouth and Tonic

Hey, guess what? It’s the heart of spring (more-or-less), which means the sun is coming out more regularly (hopefully, at least, but hopefully also not so much as to make us enjoy it less), and also that summer is about to rear its sunshiny head, which then means that you and me and all (who are consumers of drinks utilizing booze) need to start to think about refreshing drinks that don’t make you sweat to make them, which are easier to make then this very long sentence. One perfect solution here: XX and tonic. The XX is not a warning, but generic so-as to remind that many things go well with tonic, and end up delicious. Gin, naturally. But many other liquids, too, including other base spirits (rum and tonic: yummy), aperitif-y things (Lillet and tonic: yummy), and one of my favorite “and tonic” things: vermouth. With the right vermouth and tonic, you have an easy to make, wonderful to drink combo. To ensure I have the right vermouth, today I’m reaching for WA-state-made Brovo Pretty vermouth. A blanc vermouth based on Pinot Gris, it has a balanced and beautiful fragrance and taste, backed by hints of spice, vanilla, lemon, and floral notes, it makes a swell partner with tonic. As I had a bottle at hand (and as it’s one of the best of the bottled varieties), I’m going with Fever Tree tonic. I am sadly out – I need to go to the store! – of my local WA tonic syrups cause they would be great, too.

Brovo Pretty Blanc vermouth and tonic

Brovo Pretty Vermouth and Tonic

Ice cubes

1-1/2 ounces Brovo Pretty Blanc Vermouth

3-1/2 ounces Fever Tree tonic

Lemon slice, for garnish

1. Fill a highball or comparable glass three-quarters up with ice. Add the vermouth. Then the tonic. Still briefly.

2. Garnish with the lemon slice. Oh, and add more tonic as/if desired.

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